The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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Postmodernism is fundamentally frivolous. Postmodernists routinely condemn racism and intolerance as wrong but then say that there is no such thing as right and wrong. They are clearly not being serious. Either they do not really believe in moral nihilism or they believe that racism cannot be condemned!

Postmodernism is in fact just a tantrum. Post-Soviet reality in particular suits Leftists so badly that their response is to deny that reality exists. That they can be so dishonest, however, simply shows how psychopathic they are.


30 November, 2007

Intolerant Canada again: Christian Political Party Before Human Rights Commission for Speaking Against Homosexuality

Leader says: "I'm willing to go to jail over this"

The Christian Heritage Party of Canada (CHP) and its Leader Ron Gray are being investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission after a homosexual activist complained of material published on the Party's website he claims is offensive to homosexuals. Homosexual activist Rob Wells of Edmonton, has previously launched human rights complaints against Christian activist Craig Chandler in Alberta and has now made formal complaints against the CHP and Gray. Wells took issue with a 2002 WorldNetDaily news story republished on the CHP webpage as well as three Christian Heritage Party communiqu‚s written by Gray.

The World Net Daily article in question concerned a study which found "Pedophilia more common among 'gays'". (see the item here: http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=27431 )

Of the three communiques, one was issued in 2004 and two in 2005. The first of these condemned the actions of the self-styled "gay militia" who disrupted a Christian meeting by shouting down the speaker. Gray used strong language to condemn the actions citing the gay militia, the "militant secularists and homosexuals" as the true "hate criminals." He noted that homosexual activists work to "normalize sexual perversion" in schools because they "want to recruit our children into their debauched lifestyle." (See it here: http://www.chp.ca/arc-CHP-Communique/communique_11_17.htm )

The second took issue with Canada's bill to legalize same-sex 'marriage', saying, "Why would anyone even contemplate putting the nation's children at risk to pander to the sexual appetites of a tiny minority of mentally-ill adults?" Gray added: "Yes, I said 'mentally ill'", noting that many psychiatrists still consider homosexuality a treatable disorder. (See it here: http://www.chp.ca/arc-CHP-Communique/communique_12_21.htm )

The third item dealt with Canada's "cone of silence" around all discussion related to homosexuality. The facts on homosexuality he stated are: "homosexuality is a treatable illness; homosexuality is abnormal; homosexuality is extremely unhealthy, shortening life expectancy by decades." (see it here: http://www.chp.ca/arc-CHP-Communique/communique_12_13.htm )

In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com, Gray maintained he does not harbour any ill will toward persons with same-sex attractions, in fact just the opposite. "Christians are probably the best friends homosexuals have in the world because we want to see them delivered from an addiction that will shorten their lives in this world and condemn them in the next, said Gray. "I'm not motivated by hate at all. I would guess that very few if any real Christians are motivated by hate in their response to these issues. It's a question of compassion."

Gray added: "Who truly loves you, someone who tells you the truth even when it hurts, or someone who will tell you you're okay even when you're headed down the wrong road. The Scripture says 'Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.'"

The CHP Leader believes that the case is of highest importance also for the Conservative Government in Canada. "I really think this is a crucial case because if an agency of the government, which the CHRC is, can tell a political party what it may and may not include in its political statements we have gone way down the road to totalitarianism," he said.

Gray says he wants to win the case but not by compromise but in a way which affirms freedom of religion, thought and political rights in Canada. Rather than arguing before the human rights tribunals, Gray would prefer the case moves to the courts where the burden of proof is more stringent.

Moreover, says Gray, if Wells "truly believes I'm motivated by hate, he should charge me with a hate crime" under the existing Canadian hate crime law. "I'm willing to go to jail over this," Gray told LifeSiteNews.com.

Costs for the initial defense before the tribunal are expected to come to $20,000. Canadian Human Rights procedures give overwhelming advantage to plaintiffs. Defendents are liable not only for their own costs but also for those of the plaintiff plus fines should the complaint be upheld.


English-Only Showdown

Does Nancy Pelosi really object to a common language in the workplace?

Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn't think that's controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies.

The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English." A century later, this preference for assimilation is still overwhelmingly popular. A new Rasmussen poll finds that 87% of voters think it "very important" that people speak English in the U.S., with four out of five Hispanics agreeing. And 77% support the right of employers to have English-only policies, while only 14% are opposed.

But hardball politics practiced by ethnic grievance lobbies is driving assimilation into the dustbin of history. The House Hispanic Caucus withheld its votes from a key bill granting relief on the Alternative Minimum Tax until Ms. Pelosi promised to kill the Salvation Army relief amendment.

Obstructionism also exists on the state level. In California, which in 1998 overwhelmingly passed a measure designed to end bilingual education, the practice still flourishes. Only 29% of Latino students score proficient or better in statewide tests of English skills, so seven school districts have sued the state to stop English-only testing. "We're not testing what they know," is how Chula Vista school chief Lowell Billings justifies his proposed switch to tests in Spanish.

Yet the public is ready for leadership that will forthrightly defend reasonable assimilation. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won plaudits when he said last June that one way to close the Latino learning divide was "to turn off the Spanish TV set. It's that simple. You've got to learn English." Ruben Navarette, a columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune, agreed, warning that "industries such as native language education or Spanish-language television [create] linguistic cocoons that offer the comfort of a warm bath when what English-learners really need is a cold shower."

But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that last year filed over 200 lawsuits against employers over English-only rules, has a different vision. Its lawsuit against the Salvation Army accuses the organization of discriminating against two employees at its Framingham, Mass., thrift store "on the basis of their national origin." Its crime was to give the employees a year's notice that they should speak English on the job (outside of breaks) and then firing them after they did not. The EEOC sued only four years after a federal judge in Boston, in a separate suit, upheld the Salvation Army's English-only policy as an effort to "promote workplace harmony." Like a house burglar, the EEOC is trying every door in the legal neighborhood until it finds one that's open.

In theory, employers can escape the EEOC's clutches if they can prove their policies are based on grounds of safety or "compelling business necessity." But most companies choose to settle rather than be saddled with the legal bills. Synchro Start Products, a Chicago firm, paid $55,000 to settle an EEOC suit against its English-only policy, which it says it adopted after the use of multiple languages led to miscommunication. When one group of employees speak in a language other workers can't understand, the company said, it's easy for personal misunderstandings to undermine morale. Many companies complain they are in a Catch-22--potentially liable to lawsuits if employees insult each other but facing EEOC action if they pass English-only rules to better supervise those employee comments.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), who authored the now-stalled amendment to prohibit the funding of EEOC lawsuits against English-only rules, is astonished at the opposition he's generated. Rep. Joe Baca (D., Calif.), chair of the Hispanic Caucus, boasted that "there ain't going to be a bill" including the Alexander language because Speaker Pelosi had promised him the conference committee handling the Justice Department's budget would never meet. So Sen. Alexander proposed a compromise, only requiring that Congress be given 30 days notice before the filing of any EEOC lawsuit. "I was turned down flat," he told me. "We are now celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."

That's what pro-assimilation forces are moving to do. TV Azteca, Mexico's second-largest network, is launching a 60-hour series of English classes on all its U.S. affiliates. It recognizes that teaching English empowers Latinos. "If you live in this country, you have to speak as everybody else," Jose Martin Samano, Azteca's U.S. anchor, told Fox News. "Immigrants here in the U.S. can make up to 50% or 60% more if they speak both English and Spanish. This is something we have to do for our own people."

Azteca isn't alone. Next month, a new group called Our Pledge will be launched. Counting Jeb Bush and former Clinton Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros among its board members, the organization believes absorbing immigrants is "the Sputnik challenge of our era." It will put forward two mutual pledges. It will ask immigrants to learn English, become self-sufficient and pledge allegiance to the U.S. It will ask Americans to provide immigrants help navigating the American system, the chance to eventually become a citizen and an atmosphere of respect.

This is a big challenge, but Our Pledge points out that the U.S. did it before with the Americanization movement of a century ago. It was government led, but the key players were businesses like the Ford Motor Company and nonprofits such as the YMCA, plus an array of churches and neighborhood groups.

The alternative to Americanization is polarization. Already a tenth of the population speaks English poorly or not at all. Almost a quarter of all K-12 students nationwide are children of immigrants living between two worlds. It's time for people of good will to reject both the nativist and anti-assimilation extremists and act. If the federal government spends billions on the Voice of America for overseas audiences and on National Public Radio for upscale U.S. listeners, why not fund a "Radio New America" whose primary focus is to teach English and U.S. customs to new arrivals?

In 1999, President Bill Clinton said "new immigrants have a responsibility to enter the mainstream of American life." Eight years later, Clinton strategists Stan Greenberg and James Carville are warning their fellow Democrats that the frustration with immigrants and their lack of assimilation is creating a climate akin to the anti-welfare attitudes of the 1990s. They point out that 40% of independent voters now cite border security issues as the primary reason for their discontent.

In 1996, Mr. Clinton and a GOP Congress joined together to defuse the welfare issue by ending the federal welfare entitlement. Bold bipartisan action is needed again. With frustration this deep, it's in the interests of both parties not to let matters get out of hand.


Britain: Myths about rape myths

The Government is to produce "myth-busting" packs for juries to get more convictions for rape. These are supposed to demolish the idea that date rape does not count as rape, or that women who drink or dress provocatively are "asking for it". The details have not been finalised because of the small matter that pretrial information given by the prosecution might prejudice the trial. But politicians are determined to raise the conviction rate for this crime. "Where changes to the law are needed, we will make them," the Solicitor-General, Vera Baird, said yesterday. "Justice must not be defeated by myths and stereotypes."

Quite right. But I wonder if she and I have different notions of justice. For the more I look at this issue, the more myths I seem to find. The biggest is being propagated by politicians themselves. They repeat, ad infinitum, that the conviction rate for rape is scandalously low, at 5.7 per cent. They conclude from this that juries cannot be trusted. But 5.7 per cent is only the proportion of convictions secured out of the total allegations made, not the proportion of convictions secured out of the cases tried. The attrition rate in rape cases is high: only about 12 per cent of cases reach court. So in the courtroom, the true conviction rate is about 44 per cent, slightly higher than that for murder.

Rape is a shocking crime. But you would expect it to be at least as hard to prosecute as murder. More than four out of five allegations are now made against a partner, friend or acquaintance. About half of those involve drink and/or drugs. Jurors think long and hard about decisions if there is no witness, only circumstantial evidence and where a guilty verdict means a minimum of seven years in jail. Gang rape by strangers carries the same minimum sentence as rape by a drunken partner. There is no equivalent to manslaughter, because victim groups feel that a lesser charge would downgrade the seriousness of the crime. Yet some lawyers feel that some juries are not convicting because they feel that the right crime is not being tried.

No one argues that there must be something wrong with the law because only 40 per cent of those tried are convicted of murder. Yet rape is a deeply emotive issue. The Government has already bent over backwards to bend the law. It has changed the definition of consent. It has created specialist rape prosecutors. It now plans to make "hearsay evidence" - complaints of rape to a third party - admissable in trials. Yet the number of allegations that result in a conviction is still falling, because although more people are being found guilty of rape, allegations have jumped by about 40 per cent in the past five years.

This is partly because more women are prepared to come forward. That is a good thing. There are now some excellent sexual assault referral centres and rape crisis centres, which welcome women in and collect evidence - although provision of these is still too patchy. There is also a growing number of rape allegations involving binge drinking, which tests definitions of guilt to the limit.

The focus on trials is obscuring the more important question of why so few cases come to court at all. Earlier this year a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service found enormous variations in the way that different police forces deal with rape. That remains a problem. It is clear that some forces are sceptical about some claims, particularly those that involve alcohol, and that many women are easily discouraged from pursuing cases that are traumatic to endure.

Home Office research undertaken two years ago at six different referral centres found that a sixth of the complaints that were dropped by police were classed as false allegations. A quarter were dropped because of insufficient or no evidence. A third were dropped because the complainant withdrew - some because a report had been made by someone else, against the person's wishes. This is tricky territory. It is right to encourage women to come forward. But a Home Office analysis of the British Crime Survey recently stated that "only 60 per cent of female rape victims were prepared to self-classify their experience as rape". If those women did not see themselves as victims, I wonder why the Home Office is so keen to make them so?

What hits you when reading reports of these cases is the painful individuality of each one. It is impossible to generalise about the infinite circumstances of human behaviour. Some people fear reprisals. Some want to deal with the trauma in their own way. Some are not sure what really happened. These are the delicate lines on which so many judgments must turn.

In March the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of a 25-year-old computer software engineer, Benjamin Bree, for raping a 19-year-old student after a night of drinking with friends. The judges ruled that the student was still capable of consenting to sex, even after consuming substantial amounts of alcohol. They also ruled that a drunken person can lose the capacity to consent, and that would amount to rape. That seems to me to be an intelligent calibration. Ministers are still considering whether to insist that no agreement can be taken as consent if it is given when intoxicated. But that would make a drunken man accountable for his deeds, but not a drunken woman.

It is an outrage that some men are getting away with rape. But I also worry that the language in which the issue is now being discussed implies that the only right result is a conviction. That would be a travesty of justice. It is no good trying to bust myths about rape if you are also going to propagate the myth that everyone is guilty as charged.


Abstinence Activist Elected to School Board that Fired Him

Liberal School Superintendent Resigns in Protest

After being fired for promoting abstinence among students at the school where he worked, ex school supervisor Chris Lind has been elected to the Prior Lake-Savage district school board in Minnesota.

Lind, who was a hallway and parking lot supervisor at a local high school and a "conservative Christian" was told by District Human Resource Director Tony Massaros that he could not discuss abstinence from sexual activity with any students, during or after school hours, on or off campus, according to a friend who witnessed the meeting. Lind was told that this restriction included Sunday Bible school classes at his own church, and it even extended to former students of the school. He was also told to take down his "My Space" website, which purportedly gave advice to the many students who sought his counsel.

However, after the Prior Lake-Savage School District fired Lind on the recommendation of Superintendent Tom Westerhaus, the voters returned him to the District in the months following, electing him to the school board early this month.

Westerhaus soon after announced his resignation, stating that he couldn't continue to function as the employee of the man whom he had fired so recently. What galled Westerhaus the most was the fact that the people of the school district had clearly sided with Lind. "It isn't that one person. It's the 3,400 people who said he's one of the best candidates for School Board," Westerhaus told a local reporter. "I'm being told this was courageous. I don't know that's what this was, but I'm taking a stand. Maybe that's what we need now in education more than ever."

Chuck Darrell of the Minnesota Family Council, noted that the school district that fired Lind has a "sex ed program" that promotes promiscuity and unnatural sexual behavior. "Perhaps Lind would have kept his job if he had limited his discussions to other comprehensive sex education topics such as how to get an abortion or oral sex with a dental dam," Darrell writes on MFC's blog, which has covered the issue for months. "The recent rise in STDs and STIs in Minnesota is proof that current sex education curricula are a colossal failure," says Darrell. "And, as long as schools continue to fire personnel for promoting abstinence then we can only expect more of the same."

Although Lind will soon be a school board member, he has not ruled out the possibility of a lawsuit against the same board for his firing.



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

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

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


29 November, 2007

There are also posts about political correctness on today's EDUCATION WATCH and FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC

Media figure criticizes political correctness

During an appearance on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw pointed out that before the invasion of Iraq, even "people who were critical of the war" thought that Saddam Hussein "had weapons of mass destruction," as he responded to criticism that the media were not aggressive enough about challenging President Bush before the Iraq invasion. And while commenting on racial issues, giving his view that "we need to have a dialogue in this country" about race, Brokaw lamented the problems posed by "political correctness" which means "you're in danger of being a racist if you go against the merits of some issues and just try to look at it objectively." Brokaw added: "Within the black culture, there's a fear about speaking out, about what some people see as wrong, because they say, don't go there, you know, it will only hurt our people."

After a discussion of Brokaw's views on the Vietnam War, during which Brokaw recounted that he was "enraged" upon hearing tapes of Lyndon Johnson expressing "deep doubts" about the war even while the former President "kept pouring people in" as "he was protecting his political ass," CNN host Howard Kurtz turned the subject to the Iraq War. Kurtz: "In terms of the coverage, do you see certain parallels here to Iraq? Most people would say, and I would agree, that the media did a pretty poor job during the run-up to the Iraq War in terms of the way that President Bush was selling it, and now, of course, the coverage in recent years has been more critical."

Brokaw defended the media's coverage of the run-up to the invasion, pointing out that most skeptics believed at the time that Iraq had WMD, and contending that there was little opposition to the war expressed within the Democratic Party at the time. Brokaw: "The one thing I would disagree with you about, a lot of what happened on the run-up was unknowable. People did believe he had weapons of mass destruction. People who were critical of the war and the idea of going to war did, in fact, think that he had weapons of mass destruction, which was one of the bases for-"

After conceding to Kurtz his view that "on the war plan [the media] should have been a lot more skeptical," Brokaw continued: "Yeah, but you have to remember the opposition voices were not that many in this town, for example, in Washington. There just weren't that many. We put Brent Scowcroft on 'Nightly News.' I did a two-way with him. And I was one of the few places where he would go where he would do that. We did have Senator Bob Byrd on the air and Ted Kennedy on the air, but it passed by a pretty considerable margin."

Regarding the current news of the diminishing violence in Iraq, Brokaw acknowledged that for the media, "it's time to take a look at it again," and that the media should "take notice of the fact that the attacks are down," but he also poured water on the positive news by contending that "these are small signs of some progress four years later," and that recent developments "won't solve the political issue about whether Iraq can handle its own destiny."

Later on, after Kurtz brought up the controversy over Don Imus making racist comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, Brokaw recounted that he had hoped something positive would come out of the affair in the form of a "dialogue in this country" about race. He contended that in general there is too much "political correctness" and "danger of being [called] a racist" when expressing disagreement on a racial issue. Brokaw: "I think that we do need to have a dialogue in this country. We don't have language for dealing with race. Everybody hides behind political correctness or a certain mythology. No one wants to offend, no one wants to get at the facts of it. You're in danger of being a racist if you go against the merits of some issues and just try to look at it objectively. That goes on across the racial spectrum, by the way. Within the black culture, there's a fear about speaking out, about what some people see as wrong, because they say, don't go there, you know, it will only hurt our people. So I do, we used to talk about race with a lot more candor than we do now."


Britain: Mention God and you're seen as nuts

Tony Blair has sparked controversy by claiming that people who speak about their religious faith can be viewed by society as "nutters". The former prime minister's comments came as he admitted for the first time that his faith was "hugely important" in influencing his decisions during his decade in power at Number 10, including going to war with Iraq in 2003.

Mr Blair complained that he had been unable to follow the example of US politicians, such as President George W. Bush, in being open about his faith because people in Britain regarded religion with suspicion. "It's difficult if you talk about religious faith in our political system," Mr Blair said. "If you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say 'yes, that's fair enough' and it is something they respond to quite naturally. "You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter. I mean . you may go off and sit in the corner and . commune with the man upstairs and then come back and say 'right, I've been told the answer and that's it'."

Even Alastair Campbell - his former communications director who once said, "We don't do God" - has conceded that Mr Blair's Christian faith played a central role in shaping "what he felt was important". Peter Mandelson, one of Mr Blair's confidants, claimed that the former premier "takes a Bible with him wherever he goes" and habitually reads it last thing at night.

His comments, which will be broadcast next Sunday in a BBC1 television documentary, The Blair Years, have been welcomed by leading Church figures, who fear that the rise of secularism is pushing religion to the margins of society. The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev John Sentamu, said: "Mr Blair's comments highlight the need for greater recognition to be given to the role faith has played in shaping our country. Those secularists who would dismiss faith as nothing more than a private affair are profoundly mistaken in their understanding of faith."

However, Mr Blair, who is now a Middle East peace envoy, has been attacked by commentators who say that religion should be separated from politics and by those who feel that many of his decisions betrayed the Christian community.

In the interview, Mr Blair, who was highly reluctant ever to discuss his faith during his time in office, admitted: "If I am honest about it, of course it was hugely important. You know you can't have a religious faith and it be an insignificant aspect because it's profound about you and about you as a human being. "There is no point in me denying it. I happen to have religious conviction. I don't actually think there is anything wrong in having religious conviction - on the contrary, I think it is a strength for people."

Mr Blair is a regular churchgoer who was confirmed as an Anglican while at Oxford University, but has since attended Mass with his Roman Catholic wife, Cherie, and is expected to convert within the next few months.

He continued: "To do the prime minister's job properly you need to be able to separate yourself from the magnitude of the consequences of the decisions you are taking the whole time. Which doesn't mean to say . that you're insensitive to the magnitude of those consequences or that you don't feel them deeply. "If you don't have that strength it's difficult to do the job, which is why the job is as much about character and temperament as it is about anything else. But for me having faith was an important part of being able to do that. Ultimately I think you've got to do what you think is right."

Mr Blair's opponents say his religious zeal blinded him to the consequences of his actions, and point to his belief that his decision to go to war would be judged by God. The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said last night that Mr Blair's comments echoed the feelings of religious leaders. Mr Campbell, in the same TV programme as Mr Blair, said the British public were "a bit wary of politicians who go on about God".


Australia: Sperm donors to ban Muslims, lesbians?

Why is discrimination bigotry? We ALL practice discrimination in our personal life. Women tend to choose tall men and men tend to choose busty women, for instance. Hence boob jobs for women and Filipina brides for short men. And what is more personal than your offspring? More practically, I believe that there is a shortage of sperm donors -- hence the new legislation -- as men are scared away by possible legal obligations to offspring (Obligations that have in fact been imposed by courts in Sweden). So giving donors the right to express personal preferences should encourage more of them to come forward

A BIZARRE row is set to erupt over claims that reproductive donors will be given the right to direct their sperm or eggs not go to certain groups such as Muslims, Jews, single mothers or lesbians. Critics believe the Iemma Government's Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill allows sperm and egg donors to specifically discriminate against ethnic, religious and other minorities.

The Bill, due to be debated in the NSW Legislative Council, is primarily aimed at allowing donor-conceived children to access information about the donor parent when they turn 18.

But Greens MP John Kaye said yesterday there was widespread concern the Bill, as currently drafted, allowed donors to nominate classes of people to whom their sperm or eggs may not be given. "While the Bill contains a number of positive features, it is simply unacceptable to enshrine discrimination into the law," Mr Kaye said. "Granting legal sanction to bigotry and prejudice sends an appalling message that it is acceptable to discriminate on grounds that are irrelevant."

Under the Bill, the names of donors in NSW will be recorded on a compulsory central register to guarantee they can be found by their offspring. But Health Minister Reba Meagher has said the legislation will not oblige donors to have contact with their offspring or make them legally or financially responsible for the children.



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

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

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


28 November, 2007


It had to come

Just north of the U.S., in Canada, a waitress is in danger of being imprisoned for posting non-PC Bible verses on the net. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has actually threatened to imprison 21-year-old waitress Jessica Beaumont for posting Bible quotations online. Although Ms. Beaumont's home has been raided by the police, she has not yet been criminally charged for her politically incorrect views, because she has broken no laws. That's why the Tribunal was utilized to keep her mouth closed - by throwing her in prison for "human rights" violations if necessary. Beaumont's impermissible opinions were accompanied by two Bible verses frowned upon by liberals:

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. -LEVITICUS 18:22

If a man lies with man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. -LEVITICUS 20:13

The CHRT has barred her from posting similar remarks, even on websites hosted in other countries. By simply posting biblical scripture, she could be jailed for up to five years. How's that for a precedent? We might want to stop worrying about human rights in Pakistan, and pay some attention to what's going on just over our northern border - especially since we've been traveling down the same road.



Protesters delay debate by David Irving and BNP leader Nick Griffin at Oxford

A group of protesters broke through the security cordon and forced their way into the Oxford Union last night, throwing a planned talk by BNP leader Nick Griffin and controversial historian David Irving into disarray. After pushing and shoving their way through the doors into the hall at 8.45pm they staged a sit down protest at the debating table. Scuffles erupted as the protesters tried to get into the building which had been surrounded by tight security ahead of the event.

Earlier, hundreds of noisy protesters surrounded the Oxford Union. The Oxford Union has been under significant pressure to cancel the freedom of speech event at which the two are guest speakers. Chanting, waving placards and singing, the crowd that gathered to object to their presence at the debating society was considerably larger than the handful of students inside the Union.

The rally organisers, including Unite Against Fascism and Oxford-based community groups, had hoped at least 1,000 people would turn up in their support. But estimates put the crowd numbers at closer to 500.

Those arriving for the event had to get past heavy security and faced jeers of "shame on you". The debate was "temporarily postponed" when police moved in to remove the protestors, before it finally started at 10pm, with speakers split into two groups for safety.

It was considered by university authorities to be too dangerous to walk Mr Griffin and Mr Irving across the quadrangle between the main Union building and the debating hall. Instead Mr Irving spoke alongside broadcaster and author Anne Atkins and Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris in the debating hall while Mr Griffin was among debaters speaking in the main Union building.

The decision to invite Griffin and Irving, made after a vote among members of the debating society, has outraged equalities watchdog chief Trevor Phillips and prompted a senior Tory MP to resign his life membership of the Union. Shadow defence minister Julian Lewis said the students should be "ashamed" of themselves. In a letter to the Union's officers and standing committee, Dr Lewis, MP for New Forest East, said he was resigning his life membership "with great sadness". In his resignation letter, he said: "Nothing which happens in the debate can possibly offset the boost you are giving to a couple of scoundrels who can put up with anything except being ignored."

The presence of the pair on the list of speakers prompted a series of high profile withdrawals from the platform, including Defence Secretary Des Browne. Martin McCluskey, president of the Oxford Student Union, said it was "disgraceful" the pair were being given the same platform as past speakers who include Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama. Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris, who is billed to speak at the event, said banning Mr Griffin and Mr Irving would risk turning "bigots into martyrs".

The Oxford Union Debating Society is a separate body from the Oxford University Student's Union and the university. It has said it was important to give people of all views a platform. Mr Griffin, who was convicted in 1998 for incitement to racial hatred for material denying the Holocaust, has repeatedly insisted the BNP is not a racist group. Mr Irving has insisted he was not a Holocaust denier - despite spending three years in prison in Austria for the crime.

On Monday, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she "thoroughly deplores" their views. But Ms Smith, an Oxford graduate, said it was up to the debating society to make its own decision about allowing Irving and Griffin to attend the freedom of speech event. "They have been exposed and discredited time and again by people vastly more qualified than you in arenas hugely more suited to the task than an undergraduate talking-shop, however venerable."


Chris Brand has more links about the events above

The incorrectness of big wins in sport

Following the New England Patriots' complete destruction of the Buffalo Bills' defense, we learned two things: Andrea Kremer would totally go out with Tom Brady, and the Patriots are offensive (pun!!1!) simply by taking the field and playing the game they're paid to play. It wasn't the first time the Patriots have beaten an opponent as severely as they beat the Bills, and, not surprisingly, it wasn't the first time they've been accused of "running up the score." 24, 24, 31, 21, 17, 21, 45, 4, and 46. Those are the Patriots' margins of victory in their ten games this season. That's an average margin of victory of over 23 points.

The latest wails of "running up the score" came after the Patriots twice went for the touchdown on fourth down instead of settling for a field goal in the Bills game. The oft-cited "unwritten rules" were brought up, that it is unethical to go for it on fourth down if you're enjoying a comfortable lead. This rule applies to almost any team sport, especially baseball, where, if you're up by about 8 runs or so, it becomes unethical to steal bases, bunt, bring in your better pitchers, and try trick plays.

It's just an example of how no one can be offended anymore in this country. On this blog, as well as in many other venues, I've made what some consider extremely liberal claims (e.g. drugs should be legalized), but one liberal issue I completely abhor is political correctness. It's often hypocritical and almost always an infringement on First Amendment rights. The Patriots didn't even speak - they simply played a game well. Here's a list of people you can't offend in this country:








Anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who is in the armed forces

The Bush administration, and the government in general

The disabled

People who are squeamish when it comes to violence or "foul" language

NEW: Bad sports teams, or otherwise good teams simply getting demolished

It's politically correct to not run up the score. It's politically correct to not brag and to modestly acknowledge your success. It's politically incorrect to humorously reference a movie about homosexuality - still a fine source of humor for many in the comedy industry - and analogize it to basketball, as Phil Jackson did.

Back to the Patriots - what did the P.C. people want Belichick to do instead? Kick a field goal and tack on more points? At least if he goes for it on fourth down, he gives the Bills defense a chance to step it up and prevent them from scoring any points. At that point, with the Patriots leading as emphatically as they were, the difference between a touchdown and a field goal (four points) was moot anyway.

Isn't it more insulting to "play down" to your opponent after you get out to a sizable lead? It says, at least to me, "I'm so good, I don't even need to try hard to beat you. I can take out all of our best players and play second- and third-stringers." Don't want the Patriots to run up the score? Keep them out of the end zone. That was the response Leon Grant of the Seattle Seahawks gave to reporters when asked about Chad Johnson's touchdown celebrations (another thing you're not allowed to do when the P.C. police are around): And though none of the Seahawks wants to witness one of Johnson's elaborate celebrations, they are more concerned with the reason it would occur rather than the act itself. "My mentality is that if you don't want a guy to do all of that on you, just keep him out of the end zone," Grant said.

The Patriots will continue to win by at least three touchdowns, and will kick sand in the face of their opponents as they go for the fourth on fourth down.



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

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

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


27 November, 2007

British pro-homosexual laws becoming unglued

Government plans to criminalise the stirring up of hatred against gays and lesbians are in disarray because of a Cabinet split over the need for such a law. The split – between Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Attorney-General, and Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary – are likely to scupper plans for a new offence. Baroness Scotland has privately expressed concern about the controversial legislation proposed by Mr Straw, The Times has learnt.

Mr Straw announced the plans last month with the backing of Harriet Harman, the Equalities Secretary. He had said that he would bring forward an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill this month to extend the law that already protects religious and racial groups, carrying up to seven years in jail. He had also said that he would listen to views about whether the incitement offence should be extended further to cover hatred against disabled and transgendered people.

But Baroness Scotland, who is also determined to crack down on the problem of homophobic behaviour, believes that there are sufficient laws on the statute book to deal with the issue. She also has concerns about the difficulities of getting the proposal through the House of Lords, which gave a rough ride to measures on incitement to religious hatred and substantially watered them down. She is understood to have told colleagues that she wants to see more successful prosecutions in this area, but is unconvinced that a new law is the way to do it and would prefer to focus on existing procedures.

It is the second time in recent weeks that ministers’ plans have failed to win the support of Baroness Scotland, the country’s senior law officer. Last week The Times reported that she believed the case had not been made for extending the time that terror suspects can be held before charge.

Mr Straw’s plan was to mirror the offence of incitement to religious hatred. The amendment would cover hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality. Ministers insist that it would not prohibit criticism of gay and bisexual people but protect them from incitement to hatred because of their sexual orientation. But, despite strong backing from bodies such as Stonewall, the campaigning group for gay rights, the proposals have caused controversy and been condemned as a threat to freedom of speech, including from some prominent homosexuals. Matthew Parris, the Times columnist, wrote that “some groups may be so weak and fragile as to need the law’s protection from hateful speech. I’d like to think that we gays are no longer among them.”

In a letter to The Times this month, Rowan Atkinson, the actor, criticised the plans, saying that society was “working things out” without the need for any “legislative interference”. He was concerned about the “extendable” nature of the legislation not just to the disabled and transsexuals but to anyone else who could claim that they could not help the way they are. “Men, for example. Or women. Or people with big ears.”

There were warnings that the move could mean that vicars would face a threat of jail for preaching from the Bible; others said that gay rights were being given priority over Christian values and would be used to silence those with strong Christian beliefs.

Most police forces now record hate crimes and the Crown Prosecution Service already deals with hate crime by scrutinising cases for a racial, religious, homophobic or transphobic element. Special “hate crime panels” are to be introduced after the success of a hate crime scrutiny panel in West Yorkshire, which two weeks ago won an award for its work. The panel, which includes members of the “hate crime partnerships” in the area such as Stop Hate UK and Bradford Hate Crime Alliance, has seen a rise in the prosecution of hate crimes in the area and a fall in the failure rate. Courts in England and Wales already have the power to impose tougher sentences for offences that are motivated or aggravated by a victim’s sexual orientation.


Britain: Political correctness infests the pantomime

Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned British panto? Struggling under the weight of political correctness, the much-loved Christmas tradition is not what it once was, report Chris Hastings and Stephanie Plentl

"I've delivered a script?. which I hope ticks all the necessary panto boxes: transformation scene, community song, unspeakable jokes along with songs, slapstick, rewards for the good and punishment for the wicked," says Stephen Fry. "Being Cinderella, there are naturally Ugly Sisters, a Fairy Godmother, a Prince Charming, a Dandini and a Buttons. No Baron Hardup or Broker's Men, which might disappoint some hard-line traditionalists, but damn it, surely I can be allowed some leeway."

It might be seen as a long overdue coming together of two national treasures: Stephen Fry has written a pantomime. And he has certainly allowed himself some leeway. For the audiences of over-15s who attend his version of Cinderella, at the Old Vic, this Christmas will barely have settled into their seats when, in Act One, Buttons comes out as gay. By the end of the show, his journey of self-discovery is complete and he has entered into a civil partnership with the dashing valet, Dandini.

Welcome to British pantomime, 2007. The centuries-old tradition of a Christmas romp is transforming under pressure from political correctness. In Fry's case, the gag can be seen as an entertaining and relatively harmless spoof of life in modern Britain. In other cases, however, the changing nature of modern life is pushing some shows to the verge of extinction.

Traditional favourites, such as Robinson Crusoe and Sinbad, have been all but abandoned by producers, who fear that the depiction of "natives" and "cannibals" will cause offence on race grounds. At the same time, the custom of having a female star playing the Principal Boy, which goes back to the 19th century, is on the verge of extinction because of fears that modern audiences may interpret her relationship with the female lead as a lesbian one. Instead, audiences are being offered revamped versions of such favourites as Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk, which now carry loaded messages on school bullying, waste recycling and gay rights.

Cinderella is not the only festive favourite to be infected by political correctness. Several upcoming productions have been rewritten to accommodate modern sensibilities. Those versions of Robinson Crusoe that have survived tend to have the eponymous hero befriended by the pirates, rather than politically incorrect natives. The character of Man Friday is more likely to be white than black.

Producers are also wary of including anything that may be too sinister or frightening. Shows such as Hansel and Gretel and Babes in the Wood, which used to include scenes in which children were abducted, are either struggling to be shown or are being rewritten to avoid complaints from over-sensitive parents. In a production of Jack and the Beanstalk, at the Riverfront theatre, Newport, this year, the Giant will kidnap the village's livestock rather than the children.

The changes have infuriated panto veterans. Norman Robbins, an actor and director who was also Britain's most prolific contemporary writer of panto, quit the business in 2005 because of "undue interference". He said: "Political correctness, which, to my mind, is absolute stupidity, is doing a lot of damage. It is absolute rubbish to say that a female star shouldn't play the Principal Boy. It is like doing a Shakespeare play and taking away some of the characters. "By having a girl as Principal Boy, you kept the thing in the realms of fantasy. Whatever was happening to the characters, the story stayed light and fairy-like."

The consequence of this cautious climate is that audiences are left with a narrower range of productions to choose from. Tony Gibbs, the chief executive of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, which has more than 2,500 members, said the ever-sensitive issue of race was encouraging the organisation's members to "play safe". "There is a dilemma and a tension between the need to stereotype villainous characters for ease of identification and the fear of vilifying someone because of their race," he said

Staff involved with an upcoming school pantomime production of Goldilocks and the Three Bears last week posted a message on the theatrical website Amdram, asking whether they should keep the script's reference to "those gipsies" in what the school describes as these "you gotta be careful" days. One respondent advises: "Unless you want lots of adverse publicity, I would change the script. Why not change gipsies to 'vagabonds'?".

Such attitudes would have been unthinkable 20 years ago, when panto revelled in its ability to entertain children and shock parents. In the 1970s and 1980s, established female stars, including Dame Maggie Smith, opted to play male roles in Christmas spectaculars. But Qdos Entertainment, the country's largest producer of pantomimes, says that an actress appearing in the role of the young male hero would now be a rarity.

John Conway, its director, who will oversee 19 productions this year, said lesbianism featured so frequently on television that audiences would automatically reach the wrong conclusion about a romance involving the Principal Boy. Describing the prospect of even a chaste peck on the check as "too risque", he added: "We rarely have girls playing boys now. It is not political correctness - it's awareness of trends."

If over-cautious producers are one part of the problem, the audience itself is proving another. Ian Liston, the artistic director of the Hiss and Boo theatre company, which is producing five shows this Christmas, said: "When we put on Snow White in Truro, recently, there was a serious exchange of letters in the local paper between us and an audience member who was angry that we had used dwarves in the show. He said that it was demeaning and that we should have used jockeys instead. I retorted that that would be demeaning to jockeys. There comes a limit to how much you can do."

Britain's health-and-safety culture is also making an impact with some performers who fear their on-stage slapstick could expose them to legal action. Last year, the producers of Peter Pan in Cornwall had to do battle with health and safety officers who wanted the children in the audience to wear hard hats during the flying scenes. In Preston, audiences were told that the performers couldn't throw sweets at the children in case someone got hurt.

Many panto performers are now beginning to censor themselves. Tudor Davies, a veteran writer, director and actor, said: "Aladdin is becoming one of the hardest ones to do because of Abanazar's role as an Arabian villain. I know some actors in the role are even wary of generating too many boos, because of the race issue. "

Tommy Cannon, one half of the Cannon and Ball comedy duo, is appearing in Jack and the Beanstalk this year at Hull."You are getting to the stage where you are frightened to do anything as a joke," he said. "We used to do Babes in the Wood a lot and we'd play the robbers who kidnap the children and whisk them away in a pram. But people actually believed something was happening to the kids on stage and we would get complaints. "You used to ask a kid to come on stage and give you a kiss on the cheek. You would turn around and they'd catch you on the lips and nose. But we used to get complaints over that. People forget that this is panto and that sort of censorship is so wrong. These pantos are disappearing and they are not coming back."


McCain not correct enough

It was near the end of a long day on the campaign trail for Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The Arizona senator was taking questions at Trinity Restaurant and Bar on Hilton Head Island after his third speech of the day. A woman included a crude reference to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in her query. "How do we beat the .... (rhymes with rich)?" she asked.

McCain initially looked a little confused, glanced away briefly and then smiled. "May I give the translation?" he asked with a laugh, then adding, "That's an excellent question." McCain noted that a recent poll had him slightly ahead of Clinton in a head-to-head matchup. Then he added, "I respect Sen. Clinton; I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democratic Party."

Despite that respect, the senator said, he has "fundamental philosophical differences" with her. "She's a liberal Democrat, and I'm a proud conservative Republican," he said. "I believe our country is a conservative nation. ... I will win, I promise you."

In the scheme of things, it didn't seem to top a couple of dozen other things McCain said or did that day. So, like several other news outlets, I didn't include it in my news story at the time. But the New York Times was all over it. So was CNN. The network's Rick Sanchez did a full segment. Enter the blogosphere and the columnists.

DemocraticUnderground.Com said - incorrectly - that McCain called Clinton a (rhymes with rich). Then it hyperventilated a bit, ratcheting up the rhetoric. "What would he call (Barack) Obama if he were the front-runner?" it followed up. Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts, whose pieces run in our paper, raised a similar question. To his credit, Pitts got the facts right, or at least those he chose to present. So he asked how the questioner would have referred to Obama, to Bill Richardson, who is Hispanic, and to Joe Lieberman, who is Jewish. But Pitts omitted McCain's statement of respect for Clinton and the rest of his answer and faulted him for laughing.

As have others, he made the valid point that women in politics frequently face a double standard. That is, men - and women, too - often disdain female candidates with traits such as toughness and assertiveness, which are usually admired in men. That lingering prejudice, Pitts surmised, prompted the woman's word choice and the senator's shruggish reaction.

Maybe. But what was McCain supposed to do? Upbraid the woman for her crude language? It hardly would have worked. He'd just regaled the crowd with a yarn about how his mother once threatened to wash his mouth out with soap. She'd read about some of the epithets he'd hurled at his North Vietnamese captors when he'd been a prisoner of war. Maybe he should have, after having just told a lawyer joke (see below) and an Irish joke, given a stern lecture on political correctness. Get real, folks.

Instead, McCain brushed aside - perhaps not all that deftly - the questioner's characterization. He said he respected Clinton. He focused on the part of the question he thought was "excellent." That is: How do the Republicans beat Clinton? Many people are offering odds that they won't. But McCain's answer - though obviously self-serving - was on point.

Back to that other - not so excellent - question. How would the woman who asked about Clinton have referred to Obama, Richardson or Lieberman if one of them led the pack? It's the silly season, when folks rev up their rhetoric in a quest for extra bases. So why not assume the worst? Why not assert that her tastelessness is the moral equivalent of sexism, or even racism? Here's why: Given the waggish mood in the room at the time, that's far too big a reach. Don't bother to slide; you're out.

I don't know the woman, who, by the way, told reporters she leans toward voting for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. But I doubt that she would have used the sort of racist slurs that some folks speculate about. As likely as not, she would have used a word that almost rhymes with custard. Or should that be basted?

There goes Lawyers for McCain. Some jokes are worth retelling, especially if, as happened in last week's column, a production glitch deletes the punchline. McCain noted in Hilton Head that at least two kinds of humor still pass the p.c. test: Irish jokes and lawyer jokes. He told one of each. Here's the lawyer joke. "How can you tell the difference between a lawyer and a catfish? "One is a scum-sucking bottom dweller and the other is a fish."


Australia: Sometimes you can't win

And trying to protect Aboriginal children from abuse will almost always be an example of that

ABORIGINAL social workers in Brewarrina say the indigenous community there is confused and fearful after the attempted removal of four children from their families last week, which sent two of them into hiding. Grace Beetson, who runs the Ourgunya women's refuge, described "scenes reminiscent of the film Rabbit-Proof Fence" when Department of Community Services workers and police arrived at the children's house to take four of them into care on Thursday.

"Bystanders watched as police used capsicum spray on emotional fathers and ripped two children [aged three and six months] from their 18- and 19-year-old mothers' arms," Ms Beetson said. "Aboriginal women outside of the house and across the street were crying, whilst children were running around distraught, fearful and screaming."

Ms Beetson said neither mother was aware she was under departmental scrutiny, but a spokesman for the department said it had been working on the case and "seeking to engage the family without success".

Two other children aged eight and 11, who were sisters of the young mothers, had since gone into hiding after learning that they were also scheduled to be removed, Ms Beetson said. "Their mother . has desperately requested support from DOCS in the past. These children had been taken into care and then returned when appropriate placements could not be found. Whilst a care plan was drafted and respite specifically requested, the family received no further support or resources from DOCS," she said.

A protest march was being organised in Brewarrina, amid fears that a radical crackdown like that in the Northern Territory was being planned for western NSW. But the department said the two babies were taken into care "amid serious fears for their safety" and that department case workers "were thrust into a scene of escalating violence and personal risk when attending the premises". "The decision to remove these children was not taken lightly. Such decisions are always difficult," the spokesman said. "DOCS recognises the distress of the family and the community in this case but must put the safety of these children first."

Earlier this month, Brewarrina was the scene of the funeral for two-year-old Dean Shillingsworth, an Aboriginal boy whose body was found in a suitcase in a pond in Ambarvale. Dean's death was the first of a series of tragic incidents this month that has put unprecedented pressure on a department already under strain. Dean's father, Paul Shillingsworth, grew up in Brewarrina. Dean's mother, Rachel Pfitzner, of Rosemeadow, has been charged with his murder.

The Minister for Community Services, Kevin Greene, said two new DOCS case workers began work in October in nearby Bourke and two more positions were being advertised as part of a NSW Government strategy to boost child protection resources in western NSW.



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

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

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


26 November, 2007

Bicycle sex

After careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that, if we wish to live in a civilised society, we ought to defend the right of cyclists to have sexual relations with their bicycle behind a locked bedroom door.

When I first saw the headline a week ago, about a Scotsman being convicted of simulating sex with a bike, it just raised a wry smile. Only later, when sent the full news story (such tales always linger on the BBC's "most e-mailed" chart) did I realise it was the legal case, not the crime, that should be seen as outraging public decency.

The 51-year-old (let us save him from further exposure), was convicted of "a sexually aggravated breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner and simulating sex". Police were called to an Ayr hostel after two cleaners discovered him, wearing only a T-shirt, holding his bike and moving his hips back and forth. The Sheriff's Court gave him three years' probation - and placed him on the sex offenders register.

What "sexually aggravated breach of the peace"? Those upset cleaning ladies only saw it because they used a master key to open his locked door. It seems that such is our obsession with sex crimes today that even the old adage about "not caring what people do in their own bedrooms" no longer applies.

And what exactly did they hope to achieve by putting him on the sex offenders register? Will it make the anxious bicycle owners of Scotland feel safer at night? Should we all demand the right to know if our neighbours worry their bikes? Perhaps the vacuum cleaner community will also demand protection against uninvited advances. What such bizarre cases do achieve is to lengthen that worse-than-useless register further still, reinforcing the false impression of us being besieged by an army of sexual predators.

I might not like to share a room with a bike-sexual. And I suspect that some other cyclists may harbour unhealthy thoughts about their machines, as they parade about on their "trophy bikes" to show that they are better men than us. But wheeling out the law to say one who "saddles up" in private should be padlocked to the same list as rapists and paedophiles? On your bike.


Progressive Superstition

Post below lifted from Don Boudreaux. See the original for links

Here's a letter that I sent today to the Gray Lady:
Opposed to globalization, Jeff Milchen asserts that "The only truly sustainable path for business in the 21st century is localization" (Letters, November 23). Mr. Milchen should learn some history. He can begin with Fernand Braudel's 1981 book The Structures of Everyday Life, which details the living standards of ordinary Europeans during the late middle ages. This era was emphatically one of localization: people consumed only locally grown foods and locally made clothing. All building materials were local. There were no highways, railways, or CO2-emitting engines to pollute the local atmosphere with greenhouse gases or with foreign goods and foreign ideas.

But paradise had its price. Starvation was common, as was death by plague. Giving birth was more dangerous for women than a game of Russian Roulette. People lived in tiny one-room dirt-floor huts without indoor plumbing. During the winter, some of the farm animals (all local!) shared these accommodations.

What little "business" there was during the long era of localization - subsistence farming - might have been sustainable, but human dignity and human life certainly were not.

Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux
I googled "Jeff Milchen" and, not surprisingly, found that he frequently is identified with so-called "Progressives." Ironic, isn't it, that "Progressives" advocate a return to the economic arrangements of the dark- and middle-ages?

The not so great generation

The "greatest generation" is a term sometimes used in reference to those Americans who were raised during the Great Depression, fought in World War II, worked in farms and factories and sacrificed for the war effort while maintaining the home front. Following the war, these Americans, many of whom were born between the turn of the century and 1930, went on to produce a level of wealth and prosperity heretofore unknown to mankind.....

There's little question that the greatest generation provided their offspring, the baby boomer generation, with goods and services that their parents could not afford to give them. But tragically, the greatest generation did not instill in their children what their parents instilled in them, the values and customs that make for a civilized society. In previous generations, people were held responsible for their behavior. Today, society at large pays for irresponsible behavior. Years ago, there was little tolerance for the kind of crude behavior and language that's accepted today. To see men sitting while a woman was standing on a public conveyance used to be unthinkable. Children addressing adults by their first name and their use of foul language in the presence of, and often to, teachers and other adults were unacceptable.

A society's first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions and moral values. These behavioral norms, mostly transmitted by example, word-of-mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important thou-shalt-nots such as shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie and cheat, but they also include all those courtesies one might call ladylike and gentlemanly conduct. Policemen and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. This failure to fully transmit value norms to subsequent generations represents another failing of the greatest generation.

If there's an American generation that can justifiably be called the greatest generation, it's that generation responsible for the founding of our nation -- men such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington and millions of their fellow countrymen. This is the generation that threw off one form of oppression and laid the foundations for unprecedented human liberty. That is not a trivial achievement, for most often in mankind's history, one form of oppression has been replaced with another far worse, as we've seen in Russia, China and Africa.

More here



Hardly a week goes by without a British columnist having recourse to mention George Orwell. Whether the subject is compulsory ID cards, the growing Nanny State or a surveillance system to rival that of any communist country, the words "Orwell warned us" remains the recurring theme.[1]

While 21st century Britain may be doing its best to turn Orwell into a prophet, there is one point where, for all his genius, George left us manifestly unprepared. Although it is an aspect overlooked in contemporary discussion, it is also the key to understanding the current situation.

The point is simply this: the reign of Big Brother is being introduced to Britain from the liberalism of the far left, a tradition that has historically championed Orwell's defence of civil liberties and free expression.

This observation is particularly germane when considering the new corpus of offences restricting speech, religion, public debate and, in some cases, even thought itself, to that cluster of ideas which the liberals have designated `politically correct.'[2] The State's eagerness to function as Guardian, not simply of law and order, but also of the ideologies of its citizenry[3], was made patently obvious last year when New Labour tried to push through legislation as part of the Religious Hatred Bill which would have made it an offence to criticise different religious truth-claims.

Even without the impetus of such a law, UK police currently operate under `guidance' that defines a `hate incident' so broadly that it can include debating another person about their lifestyle.[4] Although this guidance has no statutory force, and has been called `pseudo-law' by one distinguished constitutional lawyer, it can influence the policy of police constabularies provided it does not lead to an actual charge being issued.[5] The effect is that simply to express certain viewpoints is at least treated as criminal.[6]

It was this tendency to police beliefs that Dr. N. T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham, lambasted in an address to the House of Lords on 9 February, 2006. Dr. Wright referred to a new class of crimes which "have to do, not with actions but with ideas and beliefs." He said:

"People in my diocese have told me that they are now afraid to speak their minds in the pub on some major contemporary issues for fear of being reported, investigated, and perhaps charged. My Lords, I did not think I would see such a thing in this country in my lifetime.. The word for such a state of affairs is `tyranny': sudden moral climate change, enforced by thought police."[7]

From religious organisations that must now navigate the increasingly complex labyrinth of gay rights laws[8] to Christian Unions that are being forced to admit atheists into their ranks[9], it is clear that today's liberals are making sure Big Brother does more than merely watch us: he's checking out our credo.[10] Chesterton was surely prophetic when he conjectured that, "We may eventually be bound not to disturb a man's mind even by argument; not to disturb the sleep of birds even by coughing."[11]


It is instructive to note that this dogmatic intolerance of dissent, while putting public debate into a state of paralysis, has come to Britain in the package of `tolerance', `equality', `human rights' and even - heaven help us - `freedom'. These were, of course, the values of classical liberalism championed by the humanists of the Enlightenment.[12] But while the contemporary liberal still likes to think of himself as operating within the ideological legacy framed by such men as Hume, Locke, Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau and Mill, the totalitarian utopia towards which he strives would presumably be anathema to these defenders of freedom in so far as it is the ultimate betrayal of genuine liberal values.

This is a point that has not been missed on the old fashion liberals who still remain among us. For example, in his book The Retreat of Reason, Anthony Browne argues that the dogmatic, bullying posture of the contemporary liberal is a betrayal of the true liberalism and rationalism of the Enlightenment.[13] We find a similar theme in the work of the lesbian and self-proclaimed leftist Tammy Bruce, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organisation of Woman, and author of The New Thought Police: Inside the Left's Assault on Free Speech and Free Minds[14] and The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left's Assault on Our Culture and Values.[15] In these works, Bruce uses a liberal platform to critique left-wing anti-intellectualism, thought totalitarianism and inverted racism, being careful to insist that she is not a conservative. Similarly, the British commentator Melanie Phillips is careful to tell us that, though "styled a conservative by her opponents"[16], she is really defending the liberal values of the Enlightenment. ".liberalism," said Phillips at a recent conference, ".has so badly undermined itself and departed from its own core concepts that it is now paralysed by moral and intellectual muddle.. What we are living through in the west is nothing short of a repudiation of the Enlightenment, a repudiation of reason; and its substitution by irrationality, obscurantism, bigotry and clerical totalitarianism - all facilitated by our so-called `liberal' society, and all in the name of `human rights.'[17]

Nor is it merely a handful of liberal intellectuals on the fringe who have been challenging the encroachment of left-wing totalitarianism. When Tony Blair's New Labour government began to be perceived as a threat to Britain's ancient civil liberties, it was the nation's mainline liberal newspapers, notably the Independent, the Guardian and the Observer, who unleashed the harshest criticisms of his `Orwellian' assault on `liberal values.'[18]

The liberal community is, therefore, divided between two kinds of ideologues: those, on the one hand, for whom the appellation `liberal' is, strictly speaking, an anachronism since they would deny freedom using the rhetoric of liberal values. These I will refer to pejoratively, but also descriptively, as `illiberals.' On the other hand, there are old fashion liberals who keep crying out, "What has happened to the values of the Enlightenment? Aren't we supposed to be liberals?" Rather confusingly, the later group - which I will refer to as classic liberalism - is often now associated with conservatism, as they seek to conserve the genuine liberalism of our pluralist humanist society.

In this essay I will attempt to chart why liberalism has fractured into this matrix. I will propose that the totalitarian agenda of the postmodern illiberal, while on the surface at complete odds with the values of classical liberalism, is also the logical corollary of the man-centred ethics of the Enlightenment. While agreeing with classical liberals like Browne and Bruce that the emerging totalitarian thought-control represents an anti-intellectualism significantly contrary to the rationalism of 18th century liberalism, I will also suggest that these developments are simply the fulfilment of where the Enlightenment project had to enivitably lead......


We have seen that the Enlightenment's approach to epistemology, aesthetics and ethics is, at best, a terminal philosophy, containing in itself the seeds of its own self-destruction. Having established this principle, we are now in a position to better understand the continuity and discontinuity that exists between today's illiberals and their Enlightenment forebears. Just as there is continuity and discontinuity between the rationalistic empiricism of Locke and the radical scepticism of Hume or Postmodernism, and just as there is continuity and discontinuity between the aesthetic values of the Enlightenment and the nihilistic decadence of postmodern art, and just as there is continuity and discontinuity between Rousseau's doctrine of the Noble Savage and the Reign of Terror's brute savagery, so there is both continuity and discontinuity between the classical liberalism of the Enlightenment and the tyranny of today's illiberalism. Put simply, those who wanted to champion human rights and liberty as free-standing values unhinged from any transcendent ethical framework, necessarily planted a self-destruct mechanism on the very values they sought to uphold.

There may be little resemblance between a body newly dead and the rotting corpse a month later, yet the latter is what the former will inevitably become if it is left unburied.


Of course, the contemporary illiberal will not admit that the inevitable rot has set in. Like the characters in Orwell's Animal Farm, he continues to use the principled rhetoric of his predecessors even when the substance has been sucked dry. As Rose noted:

"The Liberal still speaks, at least on formal occasions, of `eternal verities,' of `faith,' of `human dignity,' of man's `high calling' or his `unquenchable spirit,' even of `Christian civilization'; but it is quite clear that these words no longer mean what they once meant. No Liberal takes them with entire seriousness; they are in fact metaphors, ornaments of language that are meant to evoke an emotional, not an intellectual, response - a response largely conditioned by long usage, with the attendant memory of a time when such words actually had a positive and serious meaning."[43]

Like Orwell's animals, who brought slavery under the banner of equality and liberty, the contemporary illiberal is all too happy to welcome any and every erosion of freedom provided it is done in the name of one of his ethical axioms and, more importantly, as long as it does not remove any of his own cherished freedoms.

To their credit, the advocates of today's secular theocracy are more nuanced than those of the French Revolution. Instead of the guillotine they have political correctness; instead of the reign of terror they have mass media at their disposal. They have also added to the pantheon of secular virtues new axioms, which are even more notorious for their entropy. Look how quickly the virtue of multiculturalism degenerated into competition for group power.[44] Look how quickly diversity became a charter for uniformity.[45] Look how quickly the rhetoric of victimhood gave rise to the tyranny of the minority.[46] Unlike the Christian ethical system, which remains ever fixed in the solidity of the transcendent unchanging God, the liberal's ethical base is characterised by a constant ethical flux.

We live in a world where the ethical entropy has all but run its course. The humanitarian liberalism of the Enlightenment has warped into the inhuman illiberalism of today, with results that would do even Orwell proud.

As the laissez faire liberalism becomes the new orthodoxy and permeates our institutions of power, it can no longer rage against the establishment, yet because its orientation is intrinsically revolutionary, the only option is to revolt against those beneath its power structures - those, for example, who still dissent from the grinding uniformity it demands. As illiberalism begins venting its revolutionary zeal on those who refuse to be squeezed into the status quo, the stage is set for a conservative counter movement. That is the point at which secular liberalism becomes unstable, for all totalitarian regimes must eventually end in mass discontent and therefore revolt.

This presents the advocates of sanity with a tremendous opportunity, but it also carries with it an enormous danger. The opponents of illiberalism are all too willing to arm themselves with the principles of classical liberalism and fight against symptoms rather than causes. Thus, many conservative apologists are now urging their liberal opponents to simply be better liberals, more consistent with the Enlightenment values they claim to cherish. If the liberals are ever convinced by such an argument, all that would happen would be to simply wind up the clock three hundred years and then watch the whole cycle unwind again. This is because liberal values can never be sustained without first going back and re-establishing a pre-Enlightenment epistemic base. The Biblical terminology for that process is called repentance, and therein lies the difference between freedom under God or enslavement under man disguised as liberty.

Much more here


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

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

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


25 November, 2007

Advice to Young Men: Do Not Marry, Do Not Have Children

Marriage is a foundation of civilized life. No advanced civilization has ever existed without the married, two-parent family. Those who argue that our civilization needs healthy marriages to survive are not exaggerating. And yet I cannot, in good conscience, urge young men to marry today. For many men (and some women), marriage has become nothing less than a one-way ticket to jail. Even the New York Times has reported on how easily "the divorce court leads to a jail cell," mostly for men. In fact, if I have one urgent piece of practical advice for young men today it is this: Do not marry and do not have children.

Spreading this message may also, in the long run, be the most effective method of saving marriage as an institution. For until we understand that the principal threat to marriage today is not cultural but political, and that it comes not from homosexuals but from heterosexuals, we will never reverse the decline of marriage. The main destroyer of marriage, it should be obvious, is divorce. Michael McManus of Marriage Savers points out that "divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today's challenge by gays." The central problem is the divorce laws.

It is well known that half of all marriages end in divorce. But widespread misconceptions lead many to believe it cannot happen to them. Many conscientious people think they will never be divorced because they do not believe in it. In fact, it is likely to happen to you whether you wish it or not.

First, you do not have to agree to the divorce or commit any legal transgression. Under "no-fault" divorce laws, your spouse can divorce you unilaterally without giving any reasons. The judge will then grant the divorce automatically without any questions.

But further, not only does your spouse incur no penalty for breaking faith; she can actually profit enormously. Simply by filing for divorce, your spouse can take everything you have, also without giving any reasons. First, she will almost certainly get automatic and sole custody of your children and exclude you from them, without having to show that you have done anything wrong. Then any unauthorized contact with your children is a crime. Yes, for seeing your own children you will be subject to arrest.

There is no burden of proof on the court to justify why they are seizing control of your children and allowing your spouse to forcibly keep you from them. The burden of proof (and the financial burden) is on you to show why you should be allowed to see your children.

The divorce industry thus makes it very attractive for your spouse to divorce you and take your children. (All this earns money for lawyers whose bar associations control the careers of judges.) While property divisions and spousal support certainly favor women, the largest windfall comes through the children. With custody, she can then demand "child support" that may amount to half, two-thirds, or more of your income. (The amount is set by committees consisting of feminists, lawyers, and enforcement agents - all of whom have a vested interest in setting the payments as high as possible.) She may spend it however she wishes. You pay the taxes on it, but she gets the tax deduction.

You could easily be left with monthly income of a few hundred dollars and be forced to move in with relatives or sleep in your car. Once you have sold everything you own, borrowed from relatives, and maximized your credit cards, they then call you a "deadbeat dad" and take you away in handcuffs. You are told you have "abandoned" your children and incarcerated without trial.

Evidence indicates that, as men discover all this, they have already begun an impromptu marriage "strike:" refusing to marry or start families, knowing they can be criminalized if their wife files for divorce. "Have anti-father family court policies led to a men's marriage strike?" ask Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson in the Philadelphia Enquirer. In Britain, fathers tour university campuses warning young men not to start families. In his book, From Courtship to Courtroom, Attorney Jed Abraham concludes that the only protection for men to avoid losing their children and everything else is not to start families in the first place.

Is it wise to disseminate such advice? If people stop marrying, what will become of the family and our civilization? Marriage is already all but dead, legally speaking, and divorce is the principal reason. The fall in the Western birth rate is directly connected with divorce law.

It is also likely that same-sex marriage is being demanded only because of how heterosexuals have already debased marriage through divorce law. "The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50% divorce rates preceded gay marriage," advocate Andrew Sullivan points out. "All homosexuals are saying . . . is that, under the current definition, there's no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is simply an anomaly - and a denial of basic civil equality."

We will not restore marriage by burying our heads in the sand; nor simply by preaching to young people to marry, as the Bush administration's government therapy programs now do. The way to restore marriage as an institution in which young people can place their trust, their children, and their lives is to make it an enforceable contract. We urgently need a national debate about divorce, child custody, and the terms under which the government can forcibly sunder the bonds between parents and their children. We owe it to future generations, if there are to be any.


Ending race dependency

Believe it or not, we have come a long way regarding race in America. Though blacks have gone from being discriminated against in the law to being victimized by laws intended to help them, there have been positive changes. Ward Connerly, head of the American Civil Rights Institute, hopes to make more changes next November - by breaking black Americans free from the chains of dependency. Racial preferences are "the last thing that connects black people to the era when blacks were dependent on the government," Connerly told me earlier this month.

With an eye toward nailing the coffin shut on black victimization by the government, he is calling his Election Day 2008 campaign, "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights." On that day, he is hoping for a victory over racial preferences in referendums in Nebraska, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma. According to Connerly, victories on these ballots could mark "the end of an era."

Connerly is in a good position to make such grand claims and have such high hopes. Whereas Election Day 2006 was a widespread wipeout for Republicans, he was a rare winner that day. His Michigan Civil Rights Initiative received an affirmative from 58 percent of voters to amend the state constitution to prohibit state and local government "from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the areas of public employment, public contracting and public education."

He won despite a barrage of ridiculous and desperate attacks. A radio ad from One United Michigan asked, "If you could have prevented 9/11 from ever happening ... would you have?" It continued, "If you could have prevented Katrina ... what would you have done?" Then, "On Nov. 7, there's a national disaster headed for Michigan ... the elimination of affirmative action." The ad argued that a "yes" on the referendum would issue a "no" to equal opportunity for women and minorities. In truth, Connerly's effort is all about equal opportunity. It is about ending discrimination against white males, and ending the stigmatization of blacks as victims.

As we head into 2008, Connerly sees a convergence of factors pointing toward a time of real transition for America. Barack Obama, whose interracial parents could not have gotten married in some states a few decades ago, is a serious Democratic contender for president. Blacks and whites alike see the power of Oprah Winfrey. Bill Cosby, in his book with Alvin F. Poussaint, "Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors" (Thomas Nelson, 2007), encourages individual responsibility and "no more excuses." Cosby and Poussaint point out that in 2002, there were 1.2 million black-owned businesses in the United States, which marked a 45 percent increase in five years.

More than ever, this is a land of opportunity. Fifty years ago this fall, we needed the 101st Airborne to get black children into their Little Rock, Ark., high school. America has "come so far," Connerly tells me. "And now the rollback against government victimization of blacks may soon be complete." That would be quite the Super Tuesday.



John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's campaign to expose the power of Washington's Israel lobby through the promotion of their book, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," has now completed its tour of Britain, with more sinister consequences than they perhaps realize.

The two professors are adamant that they bear no hostility to Israel, and that both Israel and America would benefit from the removal of the lobby's control over their relationship. Their concern for Israel's wellbeing will be appreciated by its citizens, but what should we Brits make of them?

This is not an incidental question. "The Israel Lobby " was first published in the London Review of Books, and Britain has a strong and vigorous anti-Zionist campaigning movement, which has managed to persuade several British trade unions to support a boycott of Israeli goods. Mearsheimer and Walt may have written about America, but their book leaves its imprint on Britain.

The professors have strongly rejected the frequent accusation by their critics that they are merely mainstreaming the core idea of modern anti-Semitism: that Jews, in whatever form, conspire to control governments, provoke wars and so on. They insist that the Israel lobby in America is "only doing what other special interest groups do, but doing it very much better."

The problem on this side of the Atlantic is that British politics lacks anything approaching the American system of openly declared political lobbies; a similar, AIPAC-style operation in Westminster would not just influence policy, it would also subvert fundamental democratic mechanisms.

This has not stopped people from making similar claims about pro-Israel influence in Britain. In 2003, Labour MP Tam Dalyell claimed that former prime minister and party leader Tony Blair was unduly influenced by a "cabal of Jewish advisers."

More recently, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge claimed that "the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world... its financial grips." Those who assume that Zionism has a global reach and unlimited power cannot but assume that what they now "know" - thanks to Mearsheimer and Walt - is done in Washington must have its equivalents in London, Paris and elsewhere.

So the might of Jewish organizations is inflated, conspiracies imagined, to fill the gap between the reality of a Jewish community trying to do its best for Israel, and the fantasy of politicians and prime ministers bowing their knee to the power of the almighty Lobby.

And what does this power consist of? The most recent evidence presented concerns a debate that was held at the Oxford Union in October, on the question "This House believes that one-state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict."

To argue for the motion, three well-known advocates of the Palestinian cause. And to argue against it, amongst others, Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry and Beyond Chutzpah, and hardly known as a supporter of Israel. When several people informed Luke Tryl, the President of the Oxford Union, that Finkelstein was not normally considered an advocate for Israel, Tryl withdrew the invitation, sparking the predictable claims that this was evidence of the lobby silencing one of Israel's critics.

How do Finkelstein's supporters know that the Israel lobby was behind Tryl's change of mind? Because Tryl, in an email to Finkelstein, revealed that, "Many people expressed concern that the debate as it stood was imbalanced and people felt that as someone who had apparently expressed anti-zionist sentiments that you might not be appropriate for this debate. I tried to convince them otherwise but was accused of putting forward an imbalanced debate and various groups put pressure on me. I received numerous emails attacking the debate and Alan Dershowitz threatened to write an Oped attacking the Union. What is more he apparently attacked me personally in a televised lecture to Yale."

Had Finkelstein originally been billed to speak FOR the motion, nobody would have objected and the debate would have gone ahead as planned; as in fact happened at the Union in May of this year, when he spoke, ironically enough, for the motion that "This House believes the pro-Israeli lobby has successfully stifled Western debate about Israel's actions." He has already been invited back for 2008. Three invitations to the Oxford Union in two years: so much for being "stifled." Finkelstein made his name writing about the finances of Holocaust compensation. (He should try getting a book about Saudi funding for terrorism past the British libel courts to really feel what it means to be silenced.)

In Britain at least, Israel gets more media coverage than any other ongoing overseas story. The case against Israel is frequently aired in the mainstream media and debated at the conferences of Britain's biggest trade unions. The idea that critics of Israel are in any way gagged is absurd. Yet British anti-Zionists see themselves as holders of a hidden truth, struggling against a mighty and terrifying conspiracy to silence them, and now they have confirmation from the highest levels of American academia. If there is a Jewish conspiracy, it is remarkably ineffective.



By Jeff Jacoby

The Federalist Society is the nation's leading forum for conservative and libertarian thinking about the law and its impact on public policy. Its members include Supreme Court justices, law school professors, and more than 40,000 practicing attorneys and law students nationwide.

Yet in many precincts on the left, the organization has long been regarded as a mysterious and somewhat sinister right-wing cabal. Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, for example, has warned that "membership in the Federalist Society" and its "secret handshake" have become the keys to the judicial kingdom.The Federalist Society, thundered The Nation in 2001, "benefits big business, it's anti-egalitarian, it shuts plaintiffs like the poor and disabled out of the courts." Its members "lack compassion, working to support favorite sons like gun manufacturers and HMOs." (Actually, the Federalist Society does not bring lawsuits and never takes stands on political issues.)

After President Bush nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court two years ago, The Washington Post ran a Page 1 story on his ties to the group. "Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory," the headline noted darkly. "Court Nominee Said He Has No Memory of Membership." Why a nominee's involvement with a legal debating society should be problematic wasn't clear, but as the story observed, "many Democrats regard the organization with suspicion."

That suspicion came in for some razzing here last week, when the Federalist Society marked its 25th anniversary with a black-tie gala in the capital's vast Union Station. Master of ceremonies Theodore Olson, the former solicitor general, mischievously congratulated the 1,800 guests on having made their way to an "intimate, clandestine gathering of the secretive Federalist Society."

When Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito took the podium, he recalled the early 1980s, when members of the Washington, D.C., chapter would meet over lunch at the Empress, a local Chinese restaurant.

At the first meeting he attended, Alito said, he was greeted by a colleague who remarked sheepishly: "This is like meeting someone at a bordello." Those bordello days are a distant memory now. The guest list at Union Station was a who's who of the conservative legal establishment. On hand were senators, judges, legal scholars, former attorneys general -- but also such liberal lions as Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals and Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union. The dinner speakers included President Bush, who spoke about judicial confirmations, and not one but three Supreme Court justices -- Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. (I attended the event as a guest of the law firm of McCarter English.)

The Federalist Society got its start at Yale Law School in 1982, when a handful of conservative law students banded together to challenge the prevailing liberal orthodoxy on campus. The group's second chapter formed at the University of Chicago Law School, where its faculty adviser -- the future Justice Scalia -- had no inkling of the success that was to come. "I never imagined that there would be a chapter at every major law school in America," Scalia told the Union Station audience. "We thought we had planted a wildflower in the weeds of academic liberalism. Instead it was an oak."

The Federalist Society's remarkable growth and impact attests to the power of its ideas -- above all, that the state exists to preserve freedom, that limited government and separated powers are essential to American constitutional democracy, and that judges have a duty to interpret the law, not invent it. The organization flexes its muscle not through lobbying or endorsing judicial nominees, but through something even more potent: standing for principles and defending them in open and robust debate.

"There was a time when we thought that intellectual ferment was on the left and the right was brain-dead. The Federalist Society played a major role in reversing that assumption," says Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor who headed the Office of Legal Counsel and was acting solicitor general during the Clinton administration. It is one of a slew of testimonials that appear at the Federalist Society website, most of them from luminaries on the left.

At a time when so much of what passes for public discourse is poisonous and extreme, the Federalist Society's commitment to fostering dialogue and intellectual diversity is a priceless resource. "The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas," Oliver Wendell Holmes famously observed long ago. "The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." Why then do so many liberals persist in bad-mouthing the Federalist Society? Perhaps because they fear that Holmes was right.


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

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

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


24 November, 2007

How Can We be so Stupid?

By Arlene Peck

Often can you get to the point of frustration repeating the same mantra over and over. Listen to me carefully...leadership is lacking in the United States and in Israel. Current "leadership" is deplorable. Politics has become a play with politicians playing clowns, felons, liars, cowards and fools. Leaders cant or won't lead and we dance to their tunes like trained bears.

Olmert, Peres and other inept traitors should have been indicted long ago. Their efforts have been to appease the enemy or cover up their own high crimes and misdemeanors. Their only plan is to give away parts of Israel.

Negotiating for something real in return is out of the question. Israel dances and the world shouts " faster." Prime Minister Olmert continues with plans to dismantle Israel one settlement at a time. Who's stopping him? Their efforts have been aimed at appeasing the enemy or covering up their own high crimes and misdemeanors.

Washington eagerly supplies Arabs with up to date weapons and state of the art training. With "friends" of Olmert, Israel doesn't need enemies. They have their own, home grown variety. I wonder, despite talk of "peace," are they complete idiots, insane or what? Do they really believe that another State on their border would be a peaceful partner? As a sovereign nation, Palestine would have the right to place weapons within striking distance of Israel's major cities.

Fatah-controlled TV regularly broadcasts that every Israeli city will be "liberated" because its "identity is Arab."Announcements in English demand a two-state solution while in Arabic death is promised.. Death... and more death to the Jews. They never hide their plans. They consider Jews the occupiers of their land. Why would Israel, Bush or Rice "make peace" with an evil entity that has no intention of ever making peace?

Everyone knows that the objective of these "peace talks" is the eventual destruction of Israel. Does anyone truly think otherwise? I'm at the point where I don't even want to read the newspapers or listen to mainstream media. I can't blame it all on President. Bush though. Most of the problem is due to the moronic behavior of Israel's corrupt leadership.

For instance, if it were up to me I'd take drastic measures to wipe Gaza off the map in the name of self defense. I would cut off all supplies... gas, oil, electricity, food, water, money, medicine and everything else that I could think of. Statehood is the last thing I would seek to provide them with. Transferring the population to Jordan is a better idea.

Despite the daily terror attacks and bombs lobbed across the line into Israel, Israel refuses to invade Gaza. They fear that the PA would stop supplying Israel with gas from a field discovered by Israel in 2000. This field, with an estimated worth of $4 billion was given as a gift by then-Prime Minister Barak to the PA. Now, this "gift" is being developed with British Gas. Sharon opposed the deal. He knew the revenues would be used to fund terrorism. Present Prime Minister Olmert is going along with it anyway.

What gives Olmert the power to give away a country? Does "democracy" in Israel allow incompetent leaders to open the jails and release terrorists in regular "good will gestures?" As I write this, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is planning to release 400 hundred terrorists in another futile attempt to prop up Mahamoud Abbas.

Security is no longer an issue. Attacks on Israel are gauged by the needs of the international public forums. Extremists, it seems, are always the heroes. One recent release of 255 Fatah terrorists was dependant upon their promise not to murder Israelis. Most of those released had been convicted of attempted murder or the placement of bombs. So, they were released... except for one brilliant terrorist who stayed in jail so he could continue to receive free medication for his arthritis.

Did I also mention that the prisoners were given a three month "trial period" during which they promised to avoid all terrorist activities? After that they would be removed from the "fugitive" list. Later, according to one report, they would receive new weapons from the PA.

Our US Postal Service has okayed a Muslim stamp. At the same time, the ACLU is probably trying to block issuance of Christmas and Easter stamps. But, let's not be politically incorrect. Our cities are becoming third world communities by the influx of illegals, because my President favors a "guest worker" program. So, why am I expecting Israelis to march by the millions in protest of what they see happening in their country?

Gaza needs Israeli gas? Now that's really comical! Israel, the size of New Jersey is constantly denounced as a threat to 22 Arab nations. Combined, these countries are larger than the European Union. Fifty-six Moslem countries that cover almost one-third of the Earth's land mass are unbelievably rich from oil, none of which seems to find its way to Gaza.

Refugees? For sixty years? These people belong in the Palestinian state of Jordon. FYI, there has never has been a nation called Palestine. There are no historical documents or maps that support the theory that a Palestinian nation ever existed. In fact, there is no evidence that a people in the area ever called themselves "Palestinians." The Arabs are not genetically, religiously, culturally, historically, and especially geographically Palestinians. They are ARABS! Even in the Koran, the land is called, "Eretz Israel, the land of the people of Israel."

Of course, the Koran,also describes how the pedophile, Mohammad, "married" a six year old, but waited until the child was nine to consummate the union. This is the role model for the savagery that we see today. We trudge on mindlessly without questioning the judgment of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush as they attempt to foist upon Israel and the rest of the world a "final peace accord."

That leads us to the upcoming conference in Annapolis. Has anyone watched what Fattah and Hamas have been doing to each other? To celebrate the memory of Arafat, the Father of Terrorism, a new building was erected as a memorial costing upwards of two million dollars. But the "refugees" dip into the till of the United States Treasury (pardon me, the United Nations Treasury) for more subsidies.

The lack of leadership and the blind stupidity of countries that follow these "leaders" are sucking the strength and energy out of us. Somehow, stupid and crazy has become the norm. To keep on giving and giving and getting nothing in return, not even recognition of the right to exist, is ludicrous. And all the while, they keep demanding... more and more! Annapolis? No thank you!

The inept leadership of both the US and Israel must not be allowed to rewrite history. They ignore the lessons of history and are simply going to repeat past mistakes! The Roadmap to Hell had the pretence that it was for peace. Now? The only goal is the creation of a terrorist state whose aim is to destroy its neighbor...Israel.

In addition this State will cost Israel about 90 billion in relocation costs for Jewish citizens. The increased cost of security would put a huge dent in Israel's budget . The Annapolis plans could bring Zionism to an end. Israel as a Jewish State might not survive. Where are the masses? Millions in Israel should be marching to stop this madness.

Let me end on a high note. This year, Islam and Judaism celebrated their holiest holidays by overlapping for ten days. During this time: Muslims racked up 397 dead bodies in 94 terror attacks in ten countries. Jews? We celebrated our 159th Nobel Prize Winner. I rest my case!

Column received direct from Arlene. I share Arlene's concern but correspondents in Israel have suggested that Olmert may be a better politician than seems apparent. It is suggested that his "generosity" to FATAH is a way of protecting Israel from criticism when the Annapolis talks inevitably fail. He will be able then to say: "Well Israel did all IT could!"

The Culture / Civilisation War

The culture/civilisation war has been ongoing for several decades, but appears to be reaching its peak in the attitude demonstrated not only by the vitriolic hatred shown toward the West by radical Islam, but also by the liberal elites of Western societies as well, who appear to perversely loathe their own people and their own culture.

On Sep 8 2001, the UN held a conference in Durban, under the heading: "The United Nations Conference Against Racism, Racial Intolerance And Xenophobia." America, aware of the impending anti-Western hate mongering, declined to join them, but the best of the rest of the West were arrayed in force. America's suspicion turned out to be remarkably prescient. The event turned into a hate fest.

The Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was introduced to rapturous applause as: "The leader of the most democratic country in the world" whilst Robert Mugabe, the altogether barmy President of Zimbabwe, taking a well-earned rest from the persecution of his white and black countrymen, was similarly cheered to the rafters in his denunciation of the white imperialist oppressor; his ovation only surpassed by that offered up for the Syrian Prime Minister's denial of the Holocaust.

Britain's Tony Blair, France's Lionel Jospin, Canada's Jean Chretien, and an aesthetically displeasing assortment of Europe's great and good, beat their collective breasts in time with the rhythmic thudding of the anti-racist bongo drums, offering no counter-arguments such as the ethnic cleansing of whites from Zimbabwe, or the imprisoning of AIDS victims in the Cuban "socialist paradise," choosing instead to raise their soft, bruised hands aloft and proclaim "Yes, you are correct. We are white, we are Western and we are GUILTY!"

The UN's Mary Robinson declared the event a great success. The oppressors and the oppressed packed their bags, paused briefly at the airport to exchange a little more brown hatred for white guilt, and went home. Forty-eight hours later, Muslim terrorists flew three hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, thus ensuring celebrations all over the non-Western world, indeed even within the West itself, where Muslims danced in the streets and liberal Western intellectuals crowed that America had finally been given the bloody nose she so manifestly deserved.

Some may say the removal of reasons to fight can only be a good thing, that it will lead to peace and prosperity for all men, for all time. But multiculturalism does not work that way. Whilst we are shamed into perpetual appeasement, the non-European and non-Christian groups within the West are taught the exact opposite. Their cultures and their religions are held up as paragons of virtue, they are taught to think and act as distinct racial or religious groups, whilst being encouraged to believe that any difference in civilisational success between their culture and Western culture is due solely to their historical and present day oppression by the prejudiced West.

As wars are traditionally fought by males, so another vital part of the culture war is to remove the natural aggression prevalent amongst boys and adolescents. To this end, young Western males are encouraged - nee forced - to lay down their toy guns, end their games of cowboys and Indians, cease taking part in competitive sport with its inevitable winners and losers, and instead to play with dolls, get in touch with their "inner selves," develop their "self esteem" through the "medium of dance" and to express their "emotions" in "empathy workshops."

Christina Hoff Sommers details this obscenely sexist social engineering in The War Against Boys, where she writes:
There are now conferences, workshops and institutes dedicated to transforming boys. Carol Gilligan, professor of gender studies at Harvard Graduate School of Education, writes of the problems of boy's masculinity. "We've deconstructed the old version of manhood, but we've not yet constructed a new version." In the spring of 2000 the boys' project at Tufts offered five workshops on "Reinventing Boyhood" where the planners promised emotionally exciting sessions: "We'll laugh and cry, argue and agree, reclaim and sustain the best parts of the culture of boys, whilst figuring out how to change the terrible parts.
Christina goes on to quote the words of "gender experts" at a meeting made up of feminists from Harvard, Wellesley and Tufts:
"It may be too late to change adult men. Boys on the other hand are still salvageable - providing one gets to them at an early age." As one keynote speaker said, "We have an amazing opportunity here, Kids are so malleable."
Gloria Steinem is of the same opinion, once saying: "We badly need to raise boys more like we raise girls."

This evil social engineering is now par for the course in the West - but it gets worse. When little boys rebel against this warped ideology of enforced feminisation, they are diagnosed with various psychiatric disorders and "ritalinned" to the eyeballs in an attempt to chemically achieve what brainwashing could not. In Britain, some 60,000 children, principally of course boys, now suffer this abuse.

Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man is not usually known for the last man part of the title, but I think he was implying the last man to be the last "alpha male," that patriarchal upholder of masculinity so despised by the perverse Marxist mindset that now controls our educational establishments. Whenever a potential alpha male rears his patriarchal little head, our quasi-Marxist educators reach for their psychoanalytical Rolodex and the keys to the drug cabinet.

This does not happen within the Muslim faith schools, the madrassahs and the mosques, where masculinity is pushed to the other extreme. Whilst little Western boys learn about the merits of femininity, and become, as Ann Coulter so wonderfully puts it - "girly men" - little Muslim boys learn about male dominance, violent jihad and the superiority of Islam over the infidel kuffar.

More here

Father convicted for smacking son's bottom

A NEW Zealand father has been convicted of assault for smacking his eight-year-old son on the bottom in what is believed to be the first case under a controversial new law. "One time, maybe you could have got away with this, but you can't do that now," Judge Anthony Walsh told the 33-year-old man yesterday. "You must understand that what you did amounted to an assault. Our law has been amended so that children are protected," the Wairarapa Times-Age newspaper reported him saying.

A new law was passed in May, removing a provision allowing parents to use "reasonable force" in disciplining their children. Opponents of the law said the conviction of the man, who was sentenced to nine months supervision including undergoing anger management, showed the law was "parents' worst nightmare".

The court was told the boy received a bruised shoulder when his father roughly grabbed him before smacking his bottom three times with his open hand after he had misbehaved at school. The boy's mother took a photograph of the bruise and showed it to a relative, who later reported it to police.

Bob McCoskrie, director of the conservative lobby group Family First New Zealand said the new law had created a "paranoid parenting environment". "This case has confirmed Kiwi parents' worst nightmare.''

Child advocacy group Barnardo's New Zealand welcomed the court's decision. "I believe this is the first reported case in which the new law relating to child discipline in the home has been tested in court and the law has worked well,'' acting chief executive Peter Gerrie said. It showed parents had to accept non-violent ways of disciplining their children, he said.


Brussels wants to scrap labels saying 'Made in Britain'

Ministers were last night under pressure to reject an attempt by Brussels to scrap 'Made in Britain' food labels. Proposals to switch to a Europe-wide 'Made in the EU' labelling system will be discussed by the European Commission next month. The scheme provoked outrage at Westminster, with the Tories pledging to save the traditional British labels on foods ranging from Stilton to Marmite.

If implemented it would leave British consumers unable to tell where the contents of their shopping basket come from in the EU. The rule would apply even if the final product is based on imported foodstuffs. Only meat would be exempt, so that goods such as Danish bacon and Parma ham could be identified by their origin.

Westminster sources indicated that Gordon Brown, who has made no secret of his dislike of Brussels bureaucracy, is likely to veto the idea. Europe Minister Jim Murphy told MPs Britain would fight the proposal, which was put forward by Cypriot health commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

The Tories were outraged by the plan. Europe spokesman Mark Francois said: 'British farmers are under enough pressure as it is without the EU obscuring what food comes from Britain and what doesn't. 'If British consumers want to support British farmers, they have a right to know the food was produced here.' The leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, said: 'It's time to become like the French and ignore this stupid EU law.'

The idea of an EU-wide labelling scheme was first put forward three years ago. But it was ditched after an outcry from politicians and business leaders across the EU, who warned it would deal a hammer blow to traditional food manufacture. Dutch Labour MEP Dorette Corbey warned the EU labels could also prevent consumers from establishing how far their food has travelled from producer to shop. 'The trend is to look at where a product originates from,' she said. 'Transport over long distances is bad for the environment.'

The plan, which is due to be published in December, was leaked yesterday to Dutch media. Politicians there also criticised the proposal, calling it 'too general' and bad for the environment. A similar plan in 2004 was quashed by Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, on the grounds it was unnecessary and too costly. The 'Made in the EU' plan is part of a package of proposals on labelling designed to give consumers more information on food content such as the levels of salt and fat.

Brussels gave up the fight in September to make Britain drop pints, pounds and miles in favour of the metric system. But Britain's growing wine industry is now also under threat. Just as the popularity of English wine is soaring, the European Commission wants to limit the planting of new vineyards for the next six years. The rules would punish countries whose wine industry is expanding, such as Britain.



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

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

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


23 November, 2007

Fascistic British social workers again

Mother-to-be flees as social workers warn her they will take her baby away at birth

A mother-to-be has fled her home after social workers threatened to take her baby within minutes of the birth. Fran Lyon, 22, hopes a new local authority will take a different approach. She insists that the mental health problems she had as a teenager - she started self-harming at 15 and has been treated at psychiatric hospitals for borderline personality disorder - are now behind her and there is no evidence she will harm her child.

Miss Lyon moved out of Hexham after receiving a copy of her "birth plan" from social services at Northumberland County Council. It says she will be given a maximum of 15 minutes with her baby - who she has already named Molly - before she is taken into care. She is now in the Birmingham Yardley constituency of Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who has taken up her case and is campaigning to overturn the decision. Miss Lyon said she had been hounded out of her home by a "barbaric" decision and felt she had no choice but to move if she is to have any chance of keeping her baby.

She added: "It is a sad indictment of a local authority in the way they have dealt with an expectant mother who has tried to co-operate with some of the most extreme measures imaginable."

Miss Lyon said social workers fear she is likely to develop Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. The controversial condition is said to lead mothers to seek attention by harming their child or claiming it is ill. "I have been told that I am not even to breastfeed my child in case I try to poison her," she said. "As far as I am concerned, the birth plan is abusive and I will just not stand for it. It would leave Molly isolated from anybody who loves her from the first few minutes of her life. It is barbaric and it deprives her of a basic right." She hopes Birmingham City Council will review the case, but admitted: "I don't know what's going to happen. It's a waiting game at the moment."

Miss Lyon became involved with social services in July after a domestic incident involving her former partner. At a subsequent meeting, she revealed her history of mental health problems and was told they would be taking action to remove her child once she is born in January.

Munchausen's - first identified by Sir Roy Meadow during the 1970s - has been at the heart of a series of miscarriages of justice. Sir Roy was responsible for evidence that led to the wrongful convictions of Angela Cannings and Sally Clark for murdering their children. Mrs Clark died earlier this year.

Miss Lyon has appealed for a place in a mother and baby unit so she can look after her child under supervision. Northumberland County Council said last night: "Where a child or unborn baby is subject to a child protection plan and they move to another local authority area, responsibility would normally pass to the new authority. "A transfer conference is arranged as soon as possible and the family and their support are usually invited to attend. The existing plan is discussed, but the new authority makes its own decisions about how to proceed. "Northumberland County Council would make sure the new authority has all the relevant information it needs to make informed decisions."

Mr Hemming is chairman of the Justice for Families organisation and believes councils are now taking more babies to meet Government adoption targets. He said of Miss Lyon's case: "What could be more traumatic than for a mother to have her baby taken away at birth? It's monstrous. "That, in itself, can cause mental health problems which are then used by social services against the mother as a reason not to return the baby. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. "There has been a massive increase in younger babies being taken into care before there is even any evidence of harm."


Gordon Brown's state of terror

The UK prime minister's vision for counterterrorism would involve reorganising the whole of society around precaution and fear

The British prime minister's announcement of new security measures, and his promotion of wide-ranging new partnerships to root out extremism in the United Kingdom, confirms that counterterrorism is fast becoming one of the main organising principles of society in the twenty-first century.

Gordon Brown used the annual security statement to parliament to announce a wide range of new proposals for combating terrorism. In a packed House of Commons, he presented both hard measures - increased surveillance, checks, barriers and monitoring - as well as softer ones designed to win the hearts and minds of those who might be tempted by terror.

On the same day, a related article by him in the tabloid Sun newspaper, entitled `I need YOUR help to beat terrorists', sought to drive the message home. This was, he proposed, `a generation-long challenge', that would require a partnership `with everyone'. He concluded, for those who had still not absorbed the breadth or gravity of the situation, with a piece of over-inflated, pseudo-Churchillian prose exhorting us to `fight street by street, community by community and year by year'.

But his actual proposals look anything but brave or combative. Rather, they are a concession and a gift to the handful of nihilistic, self-styled, radical Islamists, fantasists and wannabe terrorists whose actual impact on British life, were it not for such grandiose and vacuous security responses, remains largely marginal. In fact, Brown's mantra on the need for `physical barriers' is the perfect metaphor for the authorities' inability to tackle this limited threat either intellectually or emotionally. Unwilling to believe that the nation is not about to crumble in a heap of cowering vulnerability, and unable to provide any grand vision of why British society is worth defending, Brown hides behind steel doors and blast-proof windows.

Last summer, after failed attempts by alleged al-Qaeda sympathisers to detonate gas canisters at a London nightclub and Glasgow Airport, the new prime minister, less than 24 hours in the post, asked the former head of defence intelligence and the Navy, Sir Alan West, to conduct a review of security in public places. Sir Alan's report back, now in his new capacity as Labour minister for security, formed a key part of these proposals, arguing, amongst other things, for the designing, or redesigning, of public spaces and buildings - specifically airports, major railway stations, shopping centres and sports facilities - to deter future terrorists, or to mitigate their possible impact.

As I have argued on spiked before, this focus on managing risks, rather than projecting a sense of positive purpose, reflects a defeatist attitude that can only encourage those who would want to have a go. This outlook deflects society from clarifying and pursuing any grand broader aims and objectives (see Britain's bunker mentality, by Bill Durodi,). Turning ourselves into some kind of Fortress Britain offers an easy win to the small number of cack-handed idiots we truly confront. Bombing civilisation out of existence is an impossible task, but turning society in on itself has been achieved far too easily.

Now, according to the new proposals, planners and architects will be required to consider their designs from a counterterrorist perspective, relocating windows to reduce the risk should they shatter, placing obstacles on pavements to prevent vehicle-borne devices and not building underground car parks - a restriction guaranteed to warm the heart of many environmentalists. In fact, such buildings have successfully been designed previously. They were called castles. But whilst functional, they were never the emblems of a free and open society such as ours.

Such measures have not been forced upon us through the activities of hardened terrorists - the prime minister noted in his speech that `no major failures in our protective security have been identified'. It is the new ethos of precaution that has been adopted throughout government that is driving these proposals. In effect, this argues that in all instances of uncertainty or doubt, society should be reorganised along the lines of the worst that might happen, applying an `act first, find the evidence later' principle of organisation.

Far from suffering from `a failure of imagination', the criticism levelled at the US security services by the 9/11 Commission report, it would seem now that officials and politicians seem keen to imagine rather too much. `Terrorism can hit us anywhere from any place', argued Brown in the Sun. As such limitless possibilities might mean attacks beyond the major public buildings and places his security minister's report addressed, the prime minister, in his speech to the Commons, also offered `updates', `more detailed advice' and `greater vigilance' for other, less prominent places, such as shops, schools, hospitals and places of religious worship.

This support will be backed up by guidance and training from 160 counter-terrorism advisers who will clearly have very busy jobs. To help them in their thankless task of spreading the Gospel of Doom across the entire nation, local authorities will also now be mandated, as part of their performance framework, to assess the measures they have taken to counter terrorism. Judging by the way such targets tend to be usurped by those who are called upon to enact them, it is likely that any minor act, such as watering the hanging flower baskets that adorn many city centres, will now be counted as a possible opportunity for deterring terror.

More insidiously, Brown hopes to engage young people in opposing so-called `extremist influences' not just in schools and colleges - which, over recent years, have already been turned into social engineering outlets - but also `through the media, culture, sport and arts'. The British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Sport England, Tate Britain and Arts Council England have already signed up to such initiatives.

Once upon a time, it was just the former education secretary, Charles Clarke, who thought that `education for its own sake is a bit dodgy'. Now, it appears, Gordon Brown and others are proposing we all go much further than that. Culture for its own sake, sport for its own sake and the arts for their own sake, without a good dose of anti-radicalisation thrown in for good measure, are all a bit dodgy, too, it would seem.

In short, British society is to be reorganised around precaution and the fear of terrorism. Everything we do, from the buildings we use to the ideas that are taught, will be informed by the risk of a handful of nihilistic nutters blowing us all to smithereens. Society will be built - often literally - in fear of the uncommon enemy rather than to further the common good.

A youth panel to advise the government was also announced. By this logic, it is the government that is in need of support. That may not be too far from the truth. Lord West has already had to make an embarrassing U-turn regarding his endorsement, or not, for longer periods of detention without trial. West explained away his unfortunate public disagreement with the prime minister as the act of a `simple sailor'.

While the UK government is keen on advising President Musharraf of Pakistan as to the need to end his state of emergency, the British authorities will nevertheless seek to use their own set of emergency powers to achieve the goal of holding suspects without charge for longer than is currently allowed. Without some kind of permanent emergency in Britain today, there would be little to talk about.


Here come the thought police

With overwhelming bipartisan support, Rep. Jane Harman's "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act" passed the House 404-6 late last month and now rests in Sen. Joe Lieberman's Homeland Security Committee. Swift Senate passage appears certain. Not since the "Patriot Act" of 2001 has any bill so threatened our constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The historian Henry Steele Commager, denouncing President John Adams' suppression of free speech in the 1790s, argued that the Bill of Rights was not written to protect government from dissenters but to provide a legal means for citizens to oppose a government they didn't trust. Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence not only proclaimed the right to dissent but declared it a people's duty, under certain conditions, to alter or abolish their government. In that vein, diverse groups vigorously oppose Ms. Harman's effort to stifle dissent. Unfortunately, the mainstream press and leading presidential candidates remain silent.

Ms. Harman, a California Democrat, thinks it likely that the United States will face a native brand of terrorism in the immediate future and offers a plan to deal with ideologically based violence. But her plan is a greater danger to us than the threats she fears. Her bill tramples constitutional rights by creating a commission with sweeping investigative power and a mandate to propose laws prohibiting whatever the commission labels "homegrown terrorism."

The proposed commission is a menace through its power to hold hearings, take testimony and administer oaths, an authority granted to even individual members of the commission - little Joe McCarthys - who will tour the country to hold their own private hearings. An aura of authority will automatically accompany this congressionally authorized mandate to expose native terrorism.

Ms. Harman's proposal includes an absurd attack on the Internet, criticizing it for providing Americans with "access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda," and legalizes an insidious infiltration of targeted organizations. The misnamed "Center of Excellence," which would function after the commission is disbanded in 18 months, gives the semblance of intellectual research to what is otherwise the suppression of dissent.

While its purpose is to prevent terrorism, the bill doesn't criminalize any specific conduct or contain penalties. But the commission's findings will be cited by those who see a terrorist under every bed and who will demand enactment of criminal penalties that further restrict free speech and other civil liberties. Action contrary to the commission's findings will be interpreted as a sign of treason at worst or a lack of patriotism at the least.

While Ms. Harman denies that her proposal creates "thought police," it defines "homegrown terrorism" as "planned" or "threatened" use of force to coerce the government or the people in the promotion of "political or social objectives." That means that no force need actually have occurred as long as the government charges that the individual or group thought about doing it. Any social or economic reform is fair game. Have a march of 100 or 100,000 people to demand a reform - amnesty for illegal immigrants or overturning Roe v. Wade - and someone can perceive that to be a use of force to intimidate the people, courts or government.

The bill defines "violent radicalization" as promoting an "extremist belief system." But American governments, state and national, have a long history of interpreting radical "belief systems" as inevitably leading to violence to facilitate change. Examples of the resulting crackdowns on such protests include the conviction and execution of anarchists tied to Chicago's 1886 Haymarket Riot. Hearings conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee for several decades during the Cold War and the solo hearings by a member of that committee's Senate counterpart, Joseph McCarthy, demonstrate the dangers inherent in Ms. Harman's legislation.

Ms. Harman denies that her bill is a threat to the First Amendment. It clearly states that no measure to prevent homegrown terrorism should violate "constitutional rights, civil rights or civil liberties."


Nancy Pelosi tries to force the Salvation Army to hire people who can't speak English

It's been less than a week since New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton and Gov. Eliot Spitzer had to climb down from their support of driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has moved to kill an amendment that would protect employers from federal lawsuits for requiring their workers to speak English. Among the employers targeted by such lawsuits: the Salvation Army.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, a moderate Republican from Tennessee, is dumbstruck that legislation he views as simple common sense would be blocked. He noted that the full Senate passed his amendment to shield the Salvation Army by 75-19 last month, and the House followed suit with a 218-186 vote just this month. "I cannot imagine that the framers of the 1964 Civil Rights Act intended to say that it's discrimination for a shoe shop owner to say to his or her employee, 'I want you to be able to speak America's common language on the job,' " he told the Senate last Thursday.

But that's exactly what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to do. In March the EEOC sued the Salvation Army because its thrift store in Framingham, Mass., required its employees to speak English on the job. The requirement was clearly posted and employees were given a year to learn the language. The EEOC claimed the store had fired two Hispanic employees for continuing to speak Spanish on the job. It said that the firings violated the law because the English-only policy was not "relevant" to job performance or safety.

"If it is not relevant, it is discriminatory, it is gratuitous, it is a subterfuge to discriminate against people based on national origin," says Rep. Charles Gonzalez of Texas, one of several Hispanic Democrats in the House who threatened to block Ms. Pelosi's attempts to curtail the Alternative Minimum Tax unless she killed the Alexander amendment.

The confrontation on the night of Nov. 8 was ugly. Members of the Hispanic Caucus initially voted against the rule allowing debate on a tax bill that included the AMT "patch," which for a year would protect some 23 million Americans from being kicked into a higher income tax bracket.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a moderate from Maryland, was beside himself. Congressional Quarterly reports that he jabbed his finger on the House floor at Joe Baca, the California Democrat who chairs the Hispanic Caucus, and yelled, "How dare you destroy this party? This will be the worst loss in 10 years."

Mr. Baca was having none of it. "You see this on the [voting] board?," he yelled back. "This is against me. This is against me personally." Luckily for Democrats, C-Span's microphones did not pick up the exchange. But it was audible to reporters in the press gallery. They also heard Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois say that English-only efforts were symbolic of "bigotry and prejudice" against those who speak other languages.

After testy negotiations, the Hispanic Caucus finally agreed to let the tax bill proceed after extracting a promise from Ms. Pelosi that the House will not vote on the bill funding the Justice and Commerce Departments unless the English-only protection language is dropped. "There ain't going to be a bill" with the Alexander language, Mr. Baca has told reporters.

Sen. Alexander says that if that's the case, "thousands of small businesses across America will have to show there is some special reason to justify requiring their employees to speak our country's common language on the job." He notes that the number of EEOC actions against English-only policies grew to some 200 last year from 32 a decade ago. In an attempt at compromise, he has offered watered-down language that would still allow the EEOC to file many actions, but he says House Democrats rejected it.

Mr. Alexander says his battle is about far more than what language is spoken on a shop floor. "The EEOC actions turn diversity, our greatest strength, against the interests of our common future as Americans," he told me.

The late Albert Shanker, head of the American Federation of Teachers, once pointed out that public schools were established in this country largely "to help mostly immigrant children learn the three R's and what it means to be an American, with the hope that they would go home and teach their parents the principles in the Constitution and the Declaration that unite us."

Mr. Alexander says that noble effort is in danger of being undermined: "We have spent the last 40 years in our country celebrating diversity at the expense of unity. One way to create that unity is to value, not devalue, our common language, English."

The battle over Mr. Alexander's amendment is about whether a consensus that used to unite liberals and conservatives in this country can continue to hold. If it can't, expect the issue to become a flashpoint in the 2008 elections. Republicans have their political problems with Hispanics over some of their approaches to illegal immigration, but they may be nothing compared to the problems Democrats have if they continue to cave in to their anti-assimilation extremists.



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

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

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


22 November, 2007

British police mascot 'too white, too male'

LONDON'S Metropolitan Police has been forced to spend 15,000 pounds ($34,855.35) creating "ethnically diverse" mascots after complaints about a model deemed too white and too male. Met chief Sir Ian Blair ordered the new politically correct (PC) models after an Asian officer complained about Police Community Support Officer(PCSO) Steve, the mascot produced to visit schools to promote the police force. Specifically, critics said the fact that Steve was white, with blue eyes and blond hair, risked leaving Asian and women officers "isolated", said The Daily Telegraph.

Blair, in a written response to the London Assembly, said the Met's diversity unit would be tasked with creating new models. "These characters will be more representative of London's population and the diverse range of police personnel," he said. "The choice of characters will allow the concept of a Safer Neighbourhoods team to be presented to young children as well as delivering an important message about the different roles of PCSOs and constables."

Some believe the decision smacks of political correctness gone too far. "We seem to be taking the issue to the extreme. We need to take a sensible approach to this," said Pc Geoff Parker in a letter to the Met's in-house magazine The Job.

The project has been renamed "Police Pals," and the new models will be ready early next year. One features a woman PCSO, named Sunita, said the newspaper.


A most revealing cock-up in Britan

The sensitive personal details of 25 million Britons could have fallen into the hands of identity fraudsters after a government agency lost the entire child benefit database in the post. A major police investigation is being conducted after Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, admitted yesterday that names, addresses, birth dates, national insurance numbers and bank account details of every child benefit claimant in the country had gone missing. The confidential material is on two CDs that were placed in the post by a junior employee at the HM Revenue & Customs office in Tyne & Wear more than a month ago and have not been seen since.

More here

Comment on the above follows:

Second-class and lost in the post

If this Government is incompetent enough to lose millions of personal details, is it safe with anything?

Idiots. Utter, unbelievable, jaw-dropping, unpardonable idiots. It is beyond farce, past comprehension, criminally irresponsible and beneath contempt. All those lectures from government and authorities about keeping our personal data safe; every statement ever made about the security of the proposed NHS database of everybody's personal medical records; each claim that the Children's Database containing all their personal details will somehow make our kids safer; and of course each and every promise about the safety of the national identity register — exposed as quite, quite worthless. Because as soon as you put it on a computer, a bloke in an office can download it and stick it in an envelope and send your most personal details and mine and our children's across the country with a dodgy courier.

It is shocking, it is risible, it is hilarious. Someone gave a disc containing confidential data about 25 million people to a bloke on a bike? And he lost it? Of course, a case of mass identity or financial fraud would never happen in this way. It is too chaotic. Fraud will happen through a far more organised infiltration of the official systems; but what yesterday's revelation does is underscore the insecurity of those systems. And allows us to giggle at the po-faced pretence of those in authority that they are any better at protecting us than we are ourselves.

This is the pretence at the heart of every state attempt to tighten up national security — through searches and ID cards and barricades and banning water in airports and making us take our shoes off. All these measures put the public to ever-greater inconvenience while it knows that terrorism happens through random and unimaginable acts that no amount of searching and barricading can block.

Likewise, it is the very randomness of the loss of data that shocks. Someone just did something you couldn't have predicted: he stuck a load of incredibly sensitive stuff about us in the post. And it was (almost certainly) randomly lost. It's probably in a rubbish dump somewhere by now.

It might have been random, but it betrays a total and arrogant carelessness about the privacy of the individual. And it wasn't just one guy; it happens often. It was clear from Alistair Darling's statement to the Commons yesterday that there is systemic security failure at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs. It isn't the first time recently that the organisation has lost personal data. Turns out HMRC routinely sends sensitive information around the country on discs. Earlier this month the details of more than 15,000 Standard Life customers, including pensions, were put on a disc and lost by a courier en route from HMRC in Newcastle to the Standard Life HQ in Edinburgh. Last month a laptop with data about 400 people with high-value Isas was stolen from the boot of a car belonging to someone at HMRC. Personal and financial details have been misdirected to wrong addresses or found in the street.

Mr Darling looked shaky in the Commons, as well he might: first shaken by Northern Rock and now drowning in a flood of misplaced personal information. The Government's entire public IT agenda — all those systems and databases and supposed safeguards — is now under threat. His statement was fine and comprehensive, but it became risible at one point: when he claimed that ID cards would somehow have made this lost information safer because we would only have been able to access it with biometric identification. Yeah, us and every employee at HMRC and any other official busybody, just as our personal medical details are to be made available to any passing temporary employee in the local A&E.

This will be a test of Gordon Brown. His Government is at its best in a crisis. The series of problems over the summer — bombs, floods and foot-and-mouth — usefully stamped his authority on the country and gave his administration the impression of action and progress. They hid his lack of a plan. But those problems were harder to lay directly at the foot of a government agency, for which ministers indisputably have responsibility - and, in this particular case, for which the Prime Minister himself had responsibility for ten years until June. He was right to turn up and sit next to Mr Darling in the Commons yesterday.

Mr Brown is getting a reputation even among his closest colleagues for bullying and blaming others when things go wrong, as they did in the on-off election fiasco. Things are not going well in No 10, with even some of the Prime Minister's closest allies questioning the Brown project. Mr Brown's friends - yes, friends - talk of rages and impregnable sulks.

He governs by small inner circle — issuing sudden edicts to otherwise paralysed government departments — yet he has dangerously few diehard, close friends left. With the uncertain start, officials wonder what he spent the past ten years planning. A power battle is already shaping up for the succession, with paranoid allies of the Prime Minister, and supporters of future leadership contender Ed Balls, publicly slapping down the other young pretender David Miliband. A scramble for the succession! And he has been in office for less than five months.

So how he handles this fiasco at HMRC — whom he supports and whom he blames — will be a critical test. His Chancellor was already weakened; damaged by Northern Rock and perceived, within the Treasury, as neutered by No 10. Mr Darling, remember, considered giving up politics seven years ago to spend more time with his family, confiding to a journalist: “I don't see politics as a career.” The Prime Minister had better stand shoulder to shoulder with him now, and share the fallout; there is a lot more at risk than a missing disc.


"Progressives" are destructive of progress in the Middle East

The idea that poverty, relative backwardness, violence, and instability must be caused by external circumstances is engrained in much of the Western intelligentsia. It encourages a tendency to apologize for those regimes and radical groups which are the main cause of continued stagnation and suffering.

In fact, of course, the problems are very much-and usually more-based on history, culture, geography, ideology, and choices made. For example, Muslim-majority countries have much lower participation of women in the economy; are more rural and agricultural; and have had no Enlightenment or industrial revolution. Governments don't care about developing good health and educational systems. Lack of freedom and cultural restrictions--things changed and challenged in Europe from the sixteenth century onwards--harm economic development and social progress. And so on.

Yet the idea that underdevelopment or instability is caused by imperialism is so highly developed among the Western intelligentsia that it ignores the fundamental internal shortcomings that are the real problem, thus understating the problems caused by traditional culture, the need for reform, or the value of the virtues that led to Western successes.

Most revealing in this respect is a recent exchange between Syrian author Nidhal Naisa and Egyptian cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Khouli on al-Jazira television, October 30, 2007. Khouli said: "Western civilization is not really a civilization...." Naisa responded by asking, "How did you come here [Qatar] from Egypt in two hours? On camels, it used to take you over six months to make a pilgrimage." [MEMRI translation] He might have added: Who developed the technology making it possible for you to speak to millions of people through airwaves to a box with pictures and sounds? Other Arab liberals have pointed out that the ability to build airplanes is superior to the ability to crash them into buildings (the September 11 attacks).

Of course, Khoulib doesn't so much deny Western technological progress as to consider this endeavor worthless. He explains: "Your concept of progress and backwardness are mistaken. This materialistic, technological progress, which gave rise to homosexuality even among the Church's clergyman and monks, who even perform same-sex marriages, is not a civilization. It is decay, in the true human sense and in the true moral sense. This runs counter to everything humanity has accepted in its long history." [MEMRI translation]

Obviously, the idea expressed here and by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that homosexuality does not exist among Muslims is false. It was glorified in the Muslim medieval golden age and Na'ísa gets in a good crack asking the purpose of the boys who (along with female virgins) are available to the Muslim martyr in heaven.

More basic is Khoulib's total negation of Western culture, with which he is no doubt unfamiliar: Aristotle and the Arles of Van Gogh; Balzac, Bach, and Beethoven; Cocteau, Colette, and Chopin; Dickens, Descartes and Debussy; Erasmus and Einstein; Flaubert and Freud, and so on. Indeed, there are four main arches critical to the Middle East's dominant ideology:

* That its problems arise from Western and Israeli oppression.

* That the struggles and violence of radical Arab nationalists and Islamists are based on genuine grievances.

* That the West behaves wrongly because it is hostile or ignorant about Arabs and Muslims.

* And that Arab and Muslim society is vastly superior to the West which justifies their rejection of it and ultimately will pave the way for their victory over it.

The first three are too commonly accepted in the West; the last is largely ignored altogether. But the key to understanding the Middle East is not "Islamophobia" in the West but the region's own "Westphobia," "modernityphobia," "secularphobia," "democracyphobia," "freedomphobia," "femaleequalityphobia," and "JudeoChristianphobia."

The bottom line is that change is needed not in Western policies and perceptions but in the Middle East itself. After all, the West succeeded precisely-as Arab liberals well understand--because its societies pit a priority on internal change: education and honest inquiry; productive virtues; better social infrastructure; more human and civil rights; and a freer culture.

In this regard, a British student who lived in Syria has written a personal account entitled "Syrian Journal," which reduces prevailing myths about the region to rubble. It brilliantly portrays a dictatorship using repression, demagoguery, and modern public relations' techniques to stay in power. Read it here

Then compare this to a New York Times article on precisely the same topic, "Students of Arabic Learn at a Syrian Crossroads," which falls for every regime trick and generally portrays Syria as a pretty good society.

Confronting with the daily avalanche of naïve nonsense or outright mendacity about the Middle East in the Western media, academia, and sometimes governments, I am haunted by something a Syrian friend told the "Syrian Journal" author: "You know what pisses me off the most? Not the fascists here. But the appeasers in the West. What sort of message is that sending to us? Those of us who want some reform, who want our children to live in an open society like you have in the West?"


Homosexuality: Jewish organization offers choice

Science and religion often clash, and rarely are they used to prove one another in modern times. Yet it is exactly the combination of those two forces that drives Arthur Goldberg's work with JONAH -- Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality. Goldberg, together with JONAH co-director Elaine Silodor Berk, uses Jewish law texts and scientific study to get to the individual root causes of SSA -- same sex attraction -- and help those who are unhappy with their lifestyle reassert their gender identity and change their life. "We don't create a value judgment here," Goldberg told The Jewish State. "We're a pro-choice organization. And part of our job is to educate the Jewish community in particular, and the world at large, that indeed there is a choice for people to change."

Goldberg explained that the organization doesn't "proselytize"; rather, if a person is happy with their lifestyle JONAH has no reason to get involved. The mission of the organization is to help those who seek help. But he is adamant in the underlying belief that serves as the foundation for JONAH's work. "People are not born gay; there's no such thing as a gay gene," Goldberg said. "The fact of the matter is homosexuality is an emotional adaptation, typically to childhood pain. And because it's an emotional adaptation, people can readapt."

Goldberg, a former law professor at the University of Connecticut and past deputy attorney general of New Jersey, has a list of about a dozen events or recurring events in childhood that can derail the development of a child's sexual identity and cause him or her to pursue a homosexual lifestyle for any number of reasons.

Two variations of one of those causes, Goldberg said, are defensive detachment from the same-sex parent or enmeshment with the opposite sex parent. "In the final analysis, what a homosexual has is a gender deficiency," Goldberg said. In other words, in the first two years of a male child's life, his mother is "his whole world." Between ages 2 and 3, that child begins to detach from his mother and start attaching to his father. "If for whatever reasons it happens that he doesn't start attaching to dad and he doesn't start breaking with mommy, in the ages 3, 4, 5, he's going to start identifying more with the girls than he is with the boys, and therefore internalize more feminine characteristics," Goldberg said. "Therefore, he's going to start getting made fun of by the boys, and he's going to further detach from the world of boys and men." That is what Goldberg called same-sex peer wounding. It's a psychological snowball, essentially, that is difficult -- but possible, he said -- to reverse. Other possible causes are body image wounds and sexual abuse, sibling wounds, social influence, he said.

The Jersey City-based JONAH deals exclusively with those looking to change. Broadly characterized, there are two major age groups that seek counseling. Those who are under 30 often feel a values conflict, and are interested in "trying" to reconcile an internal incongruity. Because the gay culture is such a youth oriented scene, Goldberg said, those over 40 often feel that they no longer belong -- that they now must become the pursuer instead of the pursued.

Hand in hand with the psychological implications of homosexuality, according to Goldberg, are the religious doctrines, which, when studied, reveal not only the complexity of the issue but also provide a prescription for both acceptance and change. Goldberg explained that the famous word in Leviticus "toevah" is too often taken at face value. But in observant Judaism, the oral law, centered around the Mishnah and the Talmud, must be consulted on such matters as well. Goldberg referenced a talmudic discussion in Nedarim where the meaning of the word toevah is analyzed. Goldberg said the text states that the word is an acronym for three Hebrew words that mean "you have been led astray."

Goldberg said such a person has been "led astray" in three ways. "You've been led astray in terms of your authenticity to yourself; you've been led astray in terms of your relationship to the community at large; and you've been led astray in terms of your relationship to God," he said.

But the Talmud is just as clear, he said, with regard to a person's ability to repent. "When you've been led astray, in classical Judaism, you're supposed to be able to do teshuvah -- if you made a mistake, you can always return," Goldberg said. "That's what teshuvah is. And it's the same process in terms of dealing with what I call the gender affirming process."

But the ability to "change" a person's sexual preference is often strongly questioned in the scientific community. Goldberg said there is more support for the idea than the public is led to believe. As an example, he mentioned Dr. Robert Spitzer, a Columbia University Psychology professor. Spitzer was instrumental in 1973 in the removal of homosexuality from the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). At the time, Goldberg said, Spitzer was convinced that homosexuals were born that way and couldn't change, even if they wanted to.

About seven years ago, Goldberg and a number of others approached Spitzer about performing a study to see if people can, indeed change. Spitzer accepted the challenge and performed the independent study. His findings invited a groundswell of criticism and disavowal of his scholarship: Spitzer had found that homosexuals could change. Goldberg said that the vilification by the mainstream scientific community of Spitzer is counterproductive to the gay community. "It's actually imprisoning people who get these feelings and don't know they have an option out," he said.

Goldberg also said that since about 40 percent of his clients are married, helping them to change their behavior and desires can save a marriage and family. He also believes that no homosexual child should ever be thrown out of a household, since the child never made a choice to feel what they feel; the choice is what to do about it, and the parents should embrace -- but not force -- the possibility of change. "We believe very strongly that a child should be unconditionally loved as a child," Goldberg said. "But although you unconditionally love your child, it doesn't mean that you approve of their behavior. Just like if a child was on drugs or alcohol... you would say 'I love you, kid, but I don't agree with your behavior'."

Nor should the parents feel guilty, he said, because miscommunication and misreading signals can cause the child to feel a certain way, though the parents never intended to convey those emotions or judgments. "Often what happens is the child's perception of you -- perception may not be reality," he said. Additionally, the gender affirming process (GAP) that JONAH advocates can keep an observant Jew from having to choose between faith and fantasy. "It's really very important for the child to feel loved and affirmed as the child; that's a very important part of the healing process, frankly," Goldberg said.

A civil rights activist in the 1960s and 70s, and an advocate for Soviet Jewish émigrés in the 70s and 80s, Goldberg believes his work with JONAH is a natural progression of his advocacy, since the current political and social climate is most difficult for homosexuals who want to change, but are scorned by society at large who devalue their struggle and are treated as traitors by the mainstream gay community. "I've always been one to try to help the underdog," he said.

Goldberg conducts initial interviews with those seeking change, and then refers them to members of a network of licensed social workers, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and life coaches.

JONAH's work reaches many countries throughout the world, including South Africa, Australia, Canada, Israel, and Latin America. He would also like to set up an office in Jerusalem. There are other organizations that do this work, he said, including People Can Change. According to its Web site, People Can Change is a "non-profit educational, outreach, and support organization of men who have successfully transitioned out of unwanted homosexual attractions and increased their heterosexual identity, feelings and behaviors."

Goldberg's forthcoming book, "Light in the Closet: Torah, Homosexuality, and the Power to Change", combines biblical and talmudic sources with modern psychology to tackle this subject. For more information or to pre-order the book, visit here.



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

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

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


21 November, 2007

British artists too frightened to tackle radical Islam

Britain's contemporary artists are feted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals.

Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works. "I've censored myself," Perry said at a discussion on art and politics organised by the Art Fund. "The reason I haven't gone all out attacking Islamism in my art is because I feel real fear that someone will slit my throat."

Perry's highly decorated pots can sell for more than 50,000 pounds and often feature sex, violence and childhood motifs. One work depicted a teddy bear being born from a penis as the Virgin Mary. "I'm interested in religion and I've made a lot of pieces about it," he said. "With other targets you've got a better idea of who they are but Islamism is very amorphous. You don't know what the threshold is. Even what seems an innocuous image might trigger off a really violent reaction so I just play safe all the time."

The fate of Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker who was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after he made a film portraying violence against women in Islamic societies, is the most chilling example of what can happen to an artist who is perceived to have offended Islam. Perry said that he had also been scared by the reaction across the Islamic world to Danish cartoons deemed anti-Muslim in 2006 and by the protests against Salman Rushdie's knighthood this year.

Across Europe there is growing evidence that freedom of expression has been curtailed by fear of religious fundamentalism. Robert Redeker, a French philosophy teacher, is in hiding after calling the Koran a "book of extraordinary violence" in Le Figaro in 2006; Spanish villages near Valencia have abandoned a centuries-old tradition of burning effigies of Muhammad to mark the reconquest of Spain, against the Moors; and an opera house in Berlin banned a production of Mozart's Idomeneo because it depicted the beheading of Muhammad (as well as Jesus and other spiritual leaders).

In Britain the most high-profile examples have also been seen in the theatre, with the campaign by Christian fundamentalists against Jerry Springer: the Opera and the protests in Birmingham that forced the closure of Bezhti, a play about rape and murder in a Sikh temple.

Tim Marlow, director of exhibitions at White Cube, the London gallery, welcomed Perry's admission. "It's something that's there but very few people have explicitly admitted. Institutions, museums and galleries are probably doing most of the censorship. I would be lying if I said of course we would show something like the Danish cartoons. I think there are genuine reasons for concern. Fundamentalism is a really complex issue and one of the things artists can do is to help us through that complexity. Whether or not it's their responsibility to do that I'm not sure though."


Jewish State bad: Muslim State good

For anyone who wants to know why there is so much suspicion on the part of Israelis as to the real intentions of the Palestinian people, just listen to Saeb Erekat. Mr. Erekat, who is the chief Palestinian negotiator, this week rejected Israel's position that it be recognized as a Jewish state. The newspaper Haaretz reported that in a radio interview, Mr. Erekat said, "No state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity."

No state, that is, except for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and a host of other Arab kingdoms, sheikdoms and republics that base their rule on Islam. Egypt, the largest Arab country, has a parliamentary process with a formal penal code written and based upon the principles of Islamic law. The constitution of the new Iraq says that Islam is the official religion, and no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be allowed.

Curiously, Mr. Erekat seems to obscure the fact that even the proposed Palestinian constitution clearly states that Islam is the official state religion and that Shariah - Islamic law - is a major source for legislation. In Europe, there are several examples of countries with official state religions, all Christian. So what, exactly, is the problem with a Jewish state?

For years, we have been hearing that the source of the problems between the Arab world and Israel is Israel's occupation of Arab lands and the lack of a Palestinian homeland. Now that Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon, Egypt, Gaza and Jordan, it appears that Mr. Erekat is saying that the real problem is not the lack of a Palestinian homeland, but rather the presence of a Jewish one. In denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination and independence, Mr. Erekat not only singles out Jews as undeserving of nationhood, but also blatantly ignores decades-old international agreements that provide for an independent homeland in Palestine for the Jewish people.

When the League of Nations first provided for a "mandate" for what was then known as Palestine, its purpose was to provide for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." When the United Nations later called for the partitioning of part of Palestine, it specifically referred to "the establishment of the independence of the Arab and Jewish States." Now, ignoring what was agreed to and denying fundamental rights to the Jews that he would extend to Palestinian Arabs, Mr. Erekat has shown that the problem is not the "occupation." The problem is the Jews.

Arabs in Israel represent about 20 percent of the population. They have their own schools, councils and national representatives. They attend universities, work where they wish and travel freely throughout the country. The Palestine that Mr. Erekat envisions will be free of Jews and has allowed rhetoric of religious leaders that, in official broadcasts, calls Jews "the sons of monkeys and pigs." But Mr. Erekat, not satisfied that Arab Palestine will be off-limits to the Jewish people, now denies Jews the right to even call Israel their own.

No doubt Mr. Erekat's apologists will spin his comments into "what he really meant was," rather than condemning his unfortunate comment - a comment that can only further doubts and suspicions rather than building trust and understanding.

As Mr. Erekat was uttering his words, Palestinians, whose obligations under the "road map" call for first ending terror and violence, normalizing Palestinian life, and building Palestinian institutions, were busy killing each other in Gaza at a memorial service for Yasser Arafat. This after years of failure to control the gangs of militias and terrorists in the West Bank as well, despite having their own security forces in all major Palestinian cities. With internecine Palestinian battles and a failed leadership, Mr. Erekat has thrown a monkey wrench into negotiations whose purpose it is to end Israeli control of Palestinian lives and create secure independence for both Arabs and Jews. So is it really the "occupation" that is the root of the problem, or is it the fact that the Jewish state exists at all?



My heart goes out to the Palestinians. Not only because their entire world has become one of despair, immobility, bloodshed, disillusionment, crumbling infrastructure, crumbling history, crumbling horizons. There's also this: Their leaders are even worse than ours. Imagine the most pragmatic, the most moderate, the most persuasive, the most reasonable of their representatives, preparing for the first peace summit in recent memory, by attacking the very idea that Israel should be a Jewish state. Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization, declared Monday that the Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Erekat was responding Monday to a series of strong statements by Ehud Olmert the day before, in which Olmert said "We won't hold negotiations on our existence as a Jewish state, this is a launching point for all negotiations," adding that "Whoever does not accept this, cannot hold any negotiations with me." Erekat's response, speaking to Israel Radio, was clearer than one might have expected from a seasoned diplomat. So was the flat tone of rejection. "No state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity," he said.

Never mind the fact that the Saudis, sponsors of a peace initiative which the Palestinians hope someday to parlay into an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, are a theocracy of such sectarian dimension that tourists are forbidden from entering the country with bibles, crucifixes, or items bearing the Star of David.

Never mind the fact that leftists the world over can live with the concept of explicitly Muslim states teaching the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other explicitly anti-Semitic texts, while arguing that the very idea of a Jewish state implies and, in fact, compels racism against non-Jews.

The bottom line is that if Palestinians want a state - an actual state, and not just a fantasy, not just trappings but actual indepence - they are going to have to reconcile themselves to the idea of an overtly Jewish neighbor.

The other paradigm, which has certainly gained currency in this decade, is to overpower Israel militarily, clearing away the foreign Zionist weeds so that a glorious, supremely non-Jewish Palestine may arise for the benefit of believing Muslims everywhere. It's not going to happen. The world has had its fill of the Palestinians. The Palestinians have had their chance. The Iranians would love to help them, but at this point, even their brother Muslims will not stand for it. It's not going to happen. The Palestinians are either going to have a state alongside a Jewish state, or that can choose to have no state at all.

Arafat knew this. That is why, in speaking to his own diaspora, he consistently held out hope for a Palestinian Right of Return, a way to overwhelm Israel demographically. But that is not about to happen either. Arafat knew that as well. These days, in the inept leadership sweepstakes, the graft and ineptitude and impotence has a new opposite number, the splintered and floundering upper echelons of Hamas. Once the most disciplined, well-run, canny organization in the Palestinian territories, Hamas has begun to misgovern Gaza the way Israel once did.

As Monday's disastrous memorial rally for Yasser Araft showed all too well, Hamas has begun to employ a deadly cocktail of apparent tolerance and spasms of brutality. For Palestinians, Hamas was once a pillar of hope and a role model of probity. Now the best that Hamas can boast is that it cannot bring itself to recognize Israel. Even though, in proposing decades-long truces, it has signaled its willingness to sit down with the people it will not recognize, and negotiate with the people it will not recognize, and live alongside the people it will not recognize.

Here's the rub: There was a time when everything that happened, played into Hamas' hands. If Israel invaded, or refrained from invading, if it talked peace or made war, Hamas profited. Now those days are over. Time is no longer on Hamas' side. Nor on the side of Fatah. The world has shown its willingness to let Palestinians suffer indefinitely. The world has shown its impatience with the glorious victories of Palestine, whether that means Qassam-butchering six cows about to give birth in a dairy barn on a Negev kibbutz, or raising an army which spends much of its firepower on fellow Palestinians, as in the memorial rally which left as many as eight dead in Gaza.

What matters, in the end, is not whether the Palestinians choose to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state. What matters is whether the Palestinians can live alongside a state which happens to be Jewish in character. That is to say, can they come to share the Holy Land with a state in which the dominant religion is not Islam. Most Jewish Israelis, meanwhile, have come to accept the idea of an independent Palestinian state, in which the dominant religion will certainly be Islam.

If Palestinians cannot bring themselves to accept a Jewish Israel, there is always the default option. It may be unfair. It may seem that Palestinian suffering has been much too long in vain. But here it is: For Palestinians to choose not to accept a Jewish state, is to make the decisive choice for a future of statelessness.


Leftist self-contradictions again

Michael Polanyi felt that the secular left had succumbed to the two diseases of modernity, which are rooted in two false ideals, 1) detached objectivity as the ideal of knowledge, which eventually leads to the denial of the role of tradition, belief, and faith in the acquisition of all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, and 2) a strident hunger for moral perfectionism with regard to social and economic conditions, or Judeo-Christian religious impulses in the absence of religious structure.

You will note that these are contradictory ideals in the first place, being that belief in (1) undermines the basis for any belief in (2), that is, objectively knowable moral imperatives. This is one of the enduring contradictions at the heart of leftism, but as always, they are clueless to the fact. They are always "in your face" with their insane moral demands, even though they have no epistemological or ontological basis for having such demands.

Polanyi's term for this ubiquitous phenomenon was "moral inversion," and it is one of the things that makes the left so annoying. For example, if there is no objective morality and human behavior is simply guided by the lust for power, on what basis can they condemn Israel for merely defending itself from Arab savagery? Likewise, if President Bush is engaging in war merely to somehow advance the interests of his "corporate friends," isn't he doing exactly what their simplistic worldview predicts?

Another case in point is the redefinition of marriage. Suddenly, in the last decade or so, leftists have come up with the crazy idea that "conservatives" have been preventing members of the same sex from getting married, when this is simply the way it has always been. There has never been a culture that sanctioned homosexual marriage, because such a thing is obviously impossible by definition, marriage being the sacred bond between a man and woman.

When normal people respond to the pressure and bullying of the left, the left calls it "oppression" or "homophobia," in classic passive-aggressive fashion. The left wishes to radically experiment with the very foundation of society (which is necessarily rooted in the sacred), but projects this into conservatives, as if they are the ones pushing for change. And the left grounds their crusade in an appeal to an objective morality which cannot exist for them to begin with.

They have done the same thing with President Bush, whose foreign policy has been completely in accord with our long tradition of fighting evil and advancing liberal ideals as a pragmatic way to increase our security. You can certainly disagree with specific implementations of policy or with his administration's handling of the war without vilifying him and inventing all sorts of kooky notions as to why we "really" went into Iraq.

The reason the left does this is again because of their moral inversion. Since they subconsciously see themselves as morally superior, the motives of President Bush must be morally evil, therefore he is worthy of condemnation of the most hysterical and sadistic type from a psychotically detached and corrupt superego. For the left, he is the very embodiment of evil, even though one of the main reasons they hate him is that he believes in the objective existence of evil. Only a moral imbecile would argue that Saddam was not profoundly evil but that President Bush or Dick Cheney are.

And when I say "moral imbecile," I mean that literally -- even as a diagnosis, not as an insult. As Dennis Prager has mentioned, just as one can be mentally or mathematically or musically retarded, it is quite possible to be morally retarded -- to be incapable of soundly reasoning within the realm of morality.

And please, this is not to say that all leftists are moral retards, only that the movement is, which in turn makes it much more difficult to think with moral clarity if you are a leftist constrained by the paradigm of leftism (just as it is much more difficult for a Palestinian to be decent within the context of his indecent culture)....

Virtually every American president has implicitly believed this, that the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor 3:17). This freedom-loving God is the God we're stuck with, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. Which suits me just fine.

Now, you can say that Muslim culture is incapable of adopting the liberal values of this freedom-lovin' God, and you may well be right. However, a leftist cannot really believe this, for it would be at odds with his own belief that people are basically the same, that they are guided by reason, and that they all want the same things. I have no problem saying that the average Palestinian prefers murdering Jews to liberty, democracy, and economic development. But a leftist is not permitted to have such a thought, because it is somehow "racist" in his worldview.

It is not the policy, or broad attitude, that has changed. Rather, it is the left that has changed. In other words, the impulse to fight German Nazism or Japanese fascism is the same as the one to fight Islamofascism. It's very simple, really. It generally takes a highly educated mind to fail to see this, someone so imbued with hateful neo-Marxist brainwashing that they are no longer in contact with reality, only with the projection of their own fantasies.

It is critical to understand that leftists are every bit as committed to this idealistic "war on history" as are classical liberals. As Mead writes, the question up to now has revolved around "how best to define and then how best to win the war against history, not whether to fight one at all."

For example, the contemporary left has largely displaced this war to environmental concerns, projecting both sin and potential salvation onto that quixotic crusade -- as if it will have any impact whatsoever on mankind's main problem, which is the existence of human evil. But this is why they subconsciously shift the whole environmental debate to a moral plane. Al Gore will not debate anyone on the merits. Rather, he simply castigates and dismisses them in moral terms, as venal liars on satan's payroll. It's the same war on evil and on history, except that evil is redefined in their upside-down world. And from this follows the wise Talmudic saying that those who are kind to the cruel will always end up being cruel to the kind.



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

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

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


20 November, 2007

British Doctors' revolt at anti-white bias

ONE of Britain's most eminent consultants has claimed white male doctors are being denied bonuses because of politically correct "reverse discrimination" by the National Health Service. David Rosin, a former vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons, says female and ethnic minority consultants are being given preferential treatment to meet artificial quotas.

Rosin, also a former president of the Association for Cancer Surgery, failed to get the top "platinum award" award 10 years in a row despite being backed in his application by the royal college and his NHS trust. He said: "When I asked a previous president [of the Royal College of Surgeons] why I had been unsuccessful, the answer came back immediately: `What do you expect? You are not black, you are not female and you have all four limbs.' "

Rosin's comments are likely to provoke a row about whether policies to promote equal opportunities in the NHS have led to positive discrimination. Figures show a dramatic increase in the number of women and ethnic minorities winning merit awards over the past five years. They can add up to 73,000 pounds to a consultant's annual salary of about 112,000.

Ministers and NHS chiefs have been encouraging more women and ethnic minorities to apply. Supporters say that in the past the vast majority of the extra payments went to an "old boys' network" of sometimes "mediocre" white male consultants. However, Rosin, who retired from his NHS post as a senior consultant surgeon at St Mary's NHS Trust hospital, London, in June, believes it has now tipped into positive discrimination. "It is time that someone spoke up concerning the reverse discrimination with respect to merit awards," he wrote in a letter to the magazine Hospital Doctor. "In the politically correct environment in which we live, there is now definitely reverse discrimination."

He was incredulous at his failure to get a platinum award, despite being editor of an international medical journal, editing 16 textbooks and publishing more than 100 peer-reviewed medical papers. He said he was also on call for the NHS every second night for his first 14 years as a consultant and helped to introduce a new form of cancer surgery clinic and many new minimal access surgical techniques.

Rosin was supported by a council member of one of the royal medical colleges, who, asking to remain anonymous, said: "As in any situation where people are trying to correct what is perceived as a wrong in the past, an element of bias will be introduced. The feedback one hears from these committees is that, where there is a fine balance between two candidates, then there will be a willingness to recognise the merits of someone who has been previously disadvantaged."

About half of Britain's 33,000 consultants receive an award at some level, ranging from œ2,850 to œ73,158. The scheme costs the NHS at least 250m pounds a year.

Aneez Esmail, professor of general practice at Manchester University, whose research in 1998 showed how few women and ethnic minority consultants got the awards, denied that standards had been compromised. "More women and ethnic minorities are successful but the actual standards are not compromised," he said. "Previously, mediocre white candidates were getting awards and you really had to be quite exceptional as a woman or ethnic minority to get an award. With more transparency and clear criteria there is greater competition and more women and ethnic minorities are successful. People like Mr Rosin may lose out."

His 1998 research, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that white consultants were given 95% of bonuses despite making up just 74% of the eligible consultant workforce. Nonwhite consultants earned just 5% of bonuses despite making up 14% of the eligible consultant workforce.

A follow-up paper in 2000-2001 found that white consultants received 37% more bonuses than nonwhite consultants and men gained 25% more bonuses than women. However, this year's data, released by the health department, show that the percentage of women applicants succeeding in getting bronze awards, worth about 34,000 on top of their annual salary, is now equal to that of men.

Doctors would not be expected to apply for the four top awards until they had been consultants for a decade. Women taking breaks to have children have therefore been less likely to apply. As many British Indian consultants as white British consultants are also now being awarded the first level of bonus, worth 2,850.

Professor Hamid Ghodse, medical director of the committee which decides on who gets awards, acknowledged that it had actively been trying to get more women and ethnic minority consultants to apply for bonuses - and would continue to do so.


The world should give thanks for America

By Mark Steyn

Thanksgiving (excepting the premature and somewhat undernourished Canadian version) is unique to America. "What's it about?" an Irish visitor asked me a couple of years back. "Everyone sits around giving thanks all day? Thanks for what? George bloody Bush?" Well, Americans have a lot to be thankful for.

Europeans think of this country as "the New World" in part because it has an eternal newness, which is noisy and distracting. Who would ever have thought you could have ready-to-eat pizza faxed directly to your iPod? And just when you think you're on top of the general trend of novelty, it veers off in an entirely different direction: Continentals who grew up on Hollywood movies where the guy tells the waitress "Gimme a cuppa joe" and slides over a nickel return to New York a year or two later and find the coffee now costs $5.75, takes 25 minutes and requires an agonizing choice between the cinnamon-gingerbread-persimmon latte with coxcomb sprinkles and the decaf venti pepperoni-Eurasian-milfoil macchiato. Who would have foreseen that the nation that inflicted fast food and drive-thru restaurants on the planet would then take the fastest menu item of all and turn it into a Kabuki-paced performance art? What mad genius!

But Americans aren't novelty junkies on the important things. The New World is one of the oldest settled constitutional democracies on Earth, to a degree the Old World can barely comprehend. Where it counts, Americans are traditionalists.

We know Eastern Europe was a totalitarian prison until the Nineties, but we forget that Mediterranean Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal) has democratic roots going all the way back until, oh, the mid-Seventies; France and Germany's constitutions date back barely half a century, Italy's only to the 1940s, and Belgium's goes back about 20 minutes, and currently it's not clear whether even that latest rewrite remains operative. The U.S. Constitution is not only older than France's, Germany's, Italy's or Spain's constitution, it's older than all of them put together.

Americans think of Europe as Goethe and Mozart and 12th century castles and 6th century churches, but the Continent's governing mechanisms are no more ancient than the Partridge Family. Aside from the Anglophone democracies, most of the nation-states in the West have been conspicuous failures at sustaining peaceful political evolution from one generation to the next, which is why they're so susceptible to the siren song of Big Ideas - communism, fascism, European Union.

If you're going to be novelty-crazed, better the zebra-mussel cappuccino than the Third Reich.

Even in a supposedly 50/50 nation, you're struck by the assumed stability underpinning even fundamental disputes. If you go into a bookstore, the display shelves offer a smorgasbord of leftist anti-Bush tracts claiming that he and Cheney have trashed, mangled, gutted, raped and tortured, sliced 'n' diced the Constitution, put it in a cement overcoat and lowered it into the East River. Yet even this argument presupposes a shared veneration for tradition unknown to most Western political cultures: When Tony Blair wanted to abolish, in effect, the upper house of the national legislature, he just got on and did it.

I don't believe the U.S. Constitution includes a right to abortion or gay marriage or a zillion other things the Left claims to detect emanating from the penumbra, but I find it sweetly touching that in America even political radicalism has to be framed as an appeal to constitutional tradition from the powdered-wig era.

In Europe, by contrast, one reason why there's no politically significant pro-life movement is because, in a world where constitutions have the life expectancy of an Oldsmobile, great questions are just seen as part of the general tide, the way things are going, no sense trying to fight it. And, by the time you realize you have to, the tide's usually up to your neck.

So Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation-states. Europeans, because they've been so inept at exercising it, no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation-state underpins, in turn, Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the United Nations.

But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens - a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan - the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.

Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in - shoring up Afghanistan's fledgling post-Taliban democracy - most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base.

If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It's not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.

That said, Thanksgiving isn't about the big geopolitical picture, but about the blessings closer to home. Last week, the state of Oklahoma celebrated its centennial, accompanied by rousing performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's eponymous anthem:

"We know we belong to the land

And the land we belong to is grand!"

Which isn't a bad theme song for the first Thanksgiving, either.

Three hundred and 14 years ago, the Pilgrims thanked God because there was a place for them in this land, and it was indeed grand. The land is grander today, and that, too, is remarkable: France has lurched from Second Empires to Fifth Republics struggling to devise a lasting constitutional settlement for the same smallish chunk of real estate, but the principles that united a baker's dozen of East Coast colonies were resilient enough to expand across a continent and halfway around the globe to Hawaii. Americans should, as always, be thankful this Thanksgiving, but they should also understand just how rare in human history their blessings are.


Australia: This old Leftie is so good at projection he should run a movie theatre

Projection is of course seeing your own faults in others. It is an old deceptive strategy. Even Jesus Christ condemned it (Matthew 7:3-5). Bob Ellis below keeps saying Leftists "can't say" various things when they in fact say most of them all the time. He attributes speech restrictions to conservatives when it is Leftists who are always trying to suppress anything they dislike in the name of "hate speech". Reading the stuff below you would think that it was conservatives who constantly say "There's no such thing as right and wrong" -- when that is in fact the mantra of the Left. Ellis did once say a few reasonable things but maybe in his old age the booze has got to his brain. He certainly seems to live in a very distorted mental world. Unsurprisingly, the rant was published by Australia's public broadcaster

The Right's dirty tricks are many and cunning and foul and they stink in the nostrils of our neighbourly democracy - disfranchising 200,000 students, vagrants and people between addresses for instance, disqualifying George Newhouse, pretending Hicks, Habib, Haneef and Tony Tranh have somehow, somewhere imperilled Australia, pretending interest payments under Hawke and Keating weren't half, in real terms, of what they are now. But their most remarkable success, I think, has been to abolish - or terminally diminish - the concepts of 'better' and 'worse', and 'right' and 'wrong'.

We're not allowed to use them any more. We can't say, for instance, that many, many Russians are worse off now than they were under Gorbachev Communism, even those that beg on the streets now, as they never used to, or get hunted down and shot for dissident journalism. We can't say that four million Iraqis, those that have fled their homes and can't go back, are worse off now than they were under Saddam. We can't say Cubans are better off than they were under Batista, though 97 percent of them can read now versus 3 percent then, and no-one starves or lacks hospital treatment, even American tourists, even Michael Moore.

We actually can't say these things. We can't say privatisations make things worse though they always do, with Qantas less safe, ETSA more expensive, British Railways more dangerous, Telstra a nightmare of punishing greedy incompetence and higher phone fees. The concepts of 'better' and 'worse' can't apply to privatisations, the Right has decreed. Privatisations are inevitable, modern, trendy, fashionable, the future. If they turn out worse for you, tough titty. They're great for us, the shareholders. I invite you to name one entity that privatisation has made better, just one. Not 'more efficient', which means a lot of people get sacked and the services get worse, and scarier. Not 'more flexible and marketplace-oriented' which means it all goes overseas. Better; better for you. No? Not one? Funny, that.

And we can't say it's 'wrong' to torture people. We don't know what torture is - sleep deprivation, waterboarding, snarling dogs that threaten exhausted men's genitals being not quite cruel enough; torture is that which might 'occasion death' Don Rumsfeld says, so the question doesn't arise. Waterboarding is only 'abuse'; abuse is fine.

We can't say it's wrong to kill a hundred thousand Iraqi people, more than died at Hiroshima, because a ruler of theirs might be hiding a big bomb somewhere, so long as we call it 'minimising civilian casualties', and say we acted on 'the best advice available', then it's not wrong any more. That advice wasn't wrong; it was the best advice available, though Hans Blix's advice, which was right, was available too. Funny, that.

It's not wrong either to give 297 million dollars to Saddam Hussein to buy weapons with, or French perfume, so long as we did it inadvertently. It's not wrong to shoot Iraqi women and children in their moving cars in city streets so long as we do it inadvertently. There's no concept of 'manslaughter' in Americanised Iraq, it seems, the sort that gets you years in gaol for running over a child. We can blam away at civilians to our heart's content so long as we think they acted suspiciously. We're the good guys, and mistakes occur and they're a sad necessity in war. We regret all that, but we're not to blame. They didn't stop their car soon enough, and we 'followed the correct procedures' and blew them all away.

It's not wrong to send back women and kids in leaky boats into stormy seas, or stand by callously while they drown. These drownings serve the greater good. They stop desperate intelligent people from 'jumping the queues', the queues you used to see any day outside the embassies in Kabul when the Taliban ruled, and shot you for trying to leave. It isn't wrong to turn up in a classroom and march off weeping school kids into Villawood and traumatise their classmates; it's a regrettable necessity. Otherwise more little kids might come here and learn in school how to be good Australians, and we couldn't have that.

It's acceptable, apparently, ask Blackwater, to kill people if you offer their families twelve thousand dollars for each dead breadwinner, dead mother or dead child. That makes it all right. Twelve thousand dollars makes it all right. The convicts on Death Row should be told of this. A telethon could raise the money and set most of them free.

What's wrong about all this is not just that it happens but that John Howard seems to think it's fine, or he says he does. He uses the weasel words, mimimising casualties, regrettable necessity, inevitable dangers, and he goes to the soldiers' funerals and hugs their mothers and wives. He's good at all this, he says the right words, he talks the talk, regrettable necessity, served his country.

But he doesn't seem to understand, not even now, that it's simply wrong, dead wrong, to kill people, and it's worse than wrong to kill people who haven't done anything, and it's really wrong to torture people to get them to say things, true or not, that you want them to say, like David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib who in their dodgy confessions under 'quizzing' and 'rendition' impaired and fractured their subsequent lives. And it's wrong to lock up people like Tony Tranh without reason, and wreck his life, and his wife's, and his little son's, without even, thus far, a non-core apology.

And it's wrong that this kind of killing and torture doesn't put Howard and his linguistically slithery co-conspirator Ruddock in gaol, or in the dock in The Hague, or in a public debate on these things with Julian Burnside, or Michael Kirby, or Geoffrey Robertson in the Press Club in Canberra. These are the obvious minimums of response of civilised people in a just society of laws obeyed and crimes forbidden and days in court and jury verdicts and freedom of speech for all. They are the right responses. They serve the good. They make our life on earth better, not worse.

But the Right has its reasons, and 'better' and 'worse' and 'right' and 'wrong' aren't concepts it finds of use any more. When the Right is losing a war it says 'We're making progress in some areas, less progress in others'. When the Right inadvertently murders innocent people in their beds it says 'We're cracking down on an insurgent presence in a dangerous district in Sadr City'. When the Right is randomly kidnapping blameless breadwinners it says 'We're making significant arrests' and 'cleaning out the terrorist presence in a dangerous neighbourhood in Fellujah'.

Kidnapping is what we do, because we're there illegally. 'Making arrests' is what law-abiding people do, in justly constituted societies, after forensic investigation and a stated charge and the reading to the prisoner of his rights which include the right to phone his lawyer. We've kidnapped maybe fifty thousand people in Iraq, and let maybe forty-eight thousand of them go, declaring them probably innocent after months of fruitless torture, the frenzy of their families, the loss or bombing or shooting up of their houses, and the economic ruin of their bloodline's future, without apology, compensation, or even a taxi ride home. Mostly they're just dumped on a remote road and made to walk hundreds of miles to what used to be their family home.

And it's not wrong to do so, we're told. It's only 'mistaken'. 'In war mistakes are inevitably made' John Howard says. And that makes it all right. It's another of his non-core apologies; there will, I guess, be others if he survives in office; many are due.

Right and wrong should come back into the language, I think, and better and worse, even good and bad. Call me old-fashioned, but that's what I think. It's time.

In my late old age, and my darkening humanist despondency (I'm an extremist, fundamentalist, humanist fanatic, my son says unforgivingly but kindly), I've lately thought of issuing a T-shirt, and it reads: 'I think it's wrong to kill people; I think it's wrong to torture people, and wrong to hurt children. That's what I think. I'm a bleeding heart. How about you?'

Because this is all, in the end, a bleeding heart is, and the Right was very shrewd when it made that description of ordinary human decency seem so damning, so naive, so unrealistic in a world of regrettable necessities like the inadvertent killing of tens of thousands of children, and the torture of many with dogs and sleeplessness and simulated drowning. So I'm a bleeding heart, and I believe in right and wrong. And better and worse. How about you?


Conservatism and Christianity have much in common -- says Australian PM

There is a historical look at what they DO have in common here

GOD is not a Liberal, but he sure likes Liberal policies, Prime Minister John Howard has told Korean churchgoers in his marginal Sydney electorate. As the election campaign entered the final week, Mr Howard with his wife Janette, was back in Bennelong today amid fears he could lose the seat to the Labor challenger, former journalist Maxine McKew.

At the Riverside Girls High School hall in Gladesville, Mr Howard addressed a Korean congregation through an interpreter telling them he shared their belief in God and the "transforming influence" of Jesus Christ. "I'm not suggesting that God is either Liberal or Labor," Mr Howard said. "He is neither. "But I am suggesting that the influence of Christianity in such policies as families, individual responsibility ... personal choice and free enterprise sit very comfortably with the values of my party."

After the service, Mr Howard took the opportunity to press the flesh with constituents who will have a major role in deciding his fate in six days' time. It could be one of the last opportunities Mr Howard gets this campaign to convince Bennelong voters to give him another term in parliament.

Asked earlier what he expected to be doing the same time next Sunday, Mr Howard said: "I am planning to be preparing for our fifth term in government and I will be talking to the treasurer and deputy prime minister about that." Mr Howard rejected a suggestion that was a cocky remark. "It doesn't demonstrate hubris - it just demonstrates my quiet expectation," he said.



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

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

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


19 November, 2007

London's PC despot

In the name of combating 'Islamophobia', Ken Livingstone has launched an attack on press freedom that reveals his fear of the public. The fact that there is no such thing as Islamophobia need not detain us, of course

What kind of leader launches an open assault on the press, accusing it of jeopardising public safety and demanding that it put its `house in order'? What sort of ruler proposes `guidelines' to the press on what stories it should cover, and even worse, what kind of language it should use to cover them, what kind of people it should employ, and what kind of values it should uphold and communicate to the mass of the population? Kim Jong-il, perhaps? Saddam Hussein, before he was chased into his hole in the ground and later executed? How about Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London?

This week, `Red Ken', as some people insist on calling him, launched a report on British media coverage of `Muslim issues'. Titled The Search for Common Ground: Muslims, Non-Muslims and the UK Media, the report was commissioned by Livingstone's Greater London Authority. It explores the alleged rise of Islamophobia in the media. And in the name of tackling the apparent spread of prejudice through the papers (especially tabloid ones), Livingstone and his supporters have crossed a line normally only transgressed by despots: they're using their political clout to try to shape the media in their own image. Strip away all the PC lingo about `protecting Muslims', and the London mayor's latest initiative comes across as an intolerable attack on press freedom.

The report argues that Islamophobia is rampant in the British press, and that new attitudes amongst journalists and codes of ethics will be required to deal with it. In his foreword, Livingstone argues that there is an increasingly `negative portrayal of Muslims and Islam in the media', which is helping to `[sow] divisions among London's diverse communities' (pxi). Elsewhere, the report argues that such coverage means `Muslims understandably feel vulnerable to hate crimes and unlawful discrimination'; indeed, the `drip-drip-drip' repetition of `abusive and emotive language' about Muslims could lead to `more hate crimes and acts of discrimination than otherwise' (p128). In short, the media's irresponsible coverage of Muslim issues is a threat to social cohesion and a potential harbinger of violence.

In fact, the report uses questionable, one might even say dodgy methodology to show that the media are continually `abusing' Muslims. For chapter 2 - `A normal week? Threats and crises in Britain and the world' - the report's authors select a `random' week in 2006 and assess the newspapers' coverage of Muslim affairs during that week. They chose Monday 8 May to Sunday 14 May 2006. During this week there were apparently 352 articles on Muslim-related issues in all the mainstream daily newspapers. The report's authors found that of these 352 articles, 91 per cent were `negative' in their portrayal of Muslims and Islam, and only four per cent were judged to be positive. Five per cent were judged neutral. This is evidence, the report claims, of the `demonisation' of Muslims by a `torrent' of negative stories (p18).

It pays - a lot - to look more closely at how this research was carried out. First, the random week selected by the researchers happened to be the week in which the government published its report on the 7/7 bombings. That report came out on Friday 12 May. Not surprisingly, there was a huge amount of press coverage, and not surprisingly most of it was `negative', in the sense that it was about four British-born Muslims who blew up themselves and 52 others in London a year earlier; even individuals of an old Stalinist bent, such as those who stack's Livingstone's GLA, would find it hard to put a `positive' spin on such a story. Of the study's 352 newspaper stories related to Muslims, 69 - or 19.6 per cent - were about the 7/7 bombings (p26).

What's more, the researchers made a broad sweep indeed when selecting articles `about Muslims'. They counted all articles that included the words `Islam', `Muslims', `Islamic', `Islamist', `Sunni', `Shia', or the words `radical', `fundamentalist' and `extremist' if the `context was such that it was reasonable to assume that an association with Islam or Muslims would be made'. In other words, even an article about an `extremist' online al-Qaeda sympathiser, say, could be selected as a negative story about Muslims, even if it did not say anything about his religious identity (p17). The researchers also included articles where the names of people were obviously Muslim, `even if their religious identity was not explicitly stated'. This leads to a bizarre situation where articles about the sentencing of the former boxer Prince Naseem for dangerous driving are included as part of the torrent of negative stories about Muslims. Naseem was sentenced to 15 months in prison in the week selected by the researchers (on 12 May 2006), and because his name (Naseem Hamed) is obviously Muslim, and because the stories (on dangerous driving) are obviously negative, they are added to the pile of evidence that the media are abusing Muslims. Of the 352 articles selected by the researchers, 15, or 4.3 per cent, were `negative' stories about Prince Naseem (p26).

Even worse, in selecting articles that include the words `Sunni' and `Shia', the researchers included all of that random week's coverage of the bloody mess that is postwar Iraq. May 2006 was the bloodiest month of the year so far in Iraq: according to the Iraq Body Count website, between 2,000 and 2,100 people were killed in Iraq during that month. Not surprisingly, articles about Iraq come second only to articles about 7/7 in the researchers' list of `negative stories on Muslims'. Of their 352 selected articles, 49 - or 13.9 per cent - were news articles about the violence and instability in Iraq. Here, even reporting about a bloody foreign war, which might not necessarily mention `Muslims' but by necessity mentions the words `Sunni' and `Shia', is cited as an example of irresponsible and abusive media content on Muslims.

What are the researchers saying? That coverage of things like Iraq and 7/7 needs to be more positive? That journalists who write on war and rare acts of terrorism should mind their language lest they offend Muslims? Or more to the point, lest they offend those who fancy themselves, through the power of self-selection rather than anything so grubby as an electoral process, to be the representatives of Muslims. The contributors to Livingstone's report include Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, Mohammed Abdul Aziz of the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism, and Tariq Hameed, who writes reports for the Muslim Council of Britain on how journalists should cover Muslim affairs. Are these individuals so narcissistic that they read about the debacle in Iraq and think only of their personal feelings?

In labelling as `negative' and `abusive' even stories about war and terrorism, the report's authors show their deeply censorious streak. They are effectively updating, in PC terminology, the old BBC man Martyn Lewis's demand in the 1990s for more `happy news'. Where Lewis said news reporters should seek out `good news stories' as well as bad news stories, effectively spreading the `And Finally' bit of News at Ten across the whole news agenda, Ken's researchers label everything from coverage of Prince Naseem to the war in Iraq as overly negative, and demand more positive stories on Muslim affairs. This is a demand for the press to overhaul its agenda, for journalists to shift their focus, change their language, and, as the report says, `contribute to informed discussion and debate amongst Muslims and non-Muslims about ways of working together to maintain and develop Britain as a multicultural, multifaith democracy' (pxiv). In short, the press should do the kind of thing that Livingstone wants it to. It speaks volumes about Livingstone's arrogance and contempt for public debate that he would like to, if only he had the power, turn the press into an offshoot of his political fiefdom.

So, the demonisation of Muslims in the media does not normally consist of articles attacking or slurring Muslims - rather it consists of news reports on Iraq, 7/7, Prince Naseem, as well as Iran, Palestine and numerous other newsworthy issues. Thus, the authors of the report are forced to trawl the dodgier regions of the tabloid media for what they consider to be truly disturbing examples of anti-Muslim prejudice. In chapter 3 - `Britishness is being destroyed: worries in a changing world' - they flag up examples of the media abuse of Muslims. The main example - make sure you are sitting comfortably - appeared on the front page of the Daily Express in October 2005. It was headlined: `HOGWASH: Now the PC brigade bans piggy banks in case they upset Muslims.' The report spends five pages discussing and dissecting this silly but fairly typical `PC gone mad' story that the vast majority of us will have shrugged off at the time and certainly forgotten about since. In total, chapter 3 breaks down what the authors admit are `four small episodes', `each relatively trivial in itself' - that is, all of them are tabloid-style `PC gone mad' stories - yet cites them as evidence that there is an `attack on Muslims' in the media (p31).

The authors then get really desperate. Unable to find many clear expressions of serious anti-Muslim prejudice in the mainstream, they move on to the online discussion boards of the tabloid newspapers. On the Daily Express website they find that web-users have written things like `I am sick to the back teeth of hearing about Muslims this and Muslims that'; `The Islamic tail is wagging the British bulldog'; and `Instead of assimilating into our culture, Muslims whine and complain. They should return to the homeland of their beloved prophet Mohammed.' (p11) Clearly some of these statements were written by individuals with noxious views. But material posted on the free-for-all discussion boards of the Daily Express website hardly represents a mainstream torrent of abuse. If I took seriously everything that was ever said about me on online discussion boards, I'd never leave the house. That the researchers had to trawl the gutters of the World Wide Web in order to find abuse of Muslims (and even here, the abuse cited is fairly mild) shows that `Islamophobia' is not a mainstream or powerful prejudice. Yet the researchers seem desperate to demonstrate that it is. That is because this report looks to me less like an attempt to tackle real prejudice than to propose some quite authoritarian ideas under the guise of `tackling Islamophobia'.

This report demonstrates what the phenomenon of Islamophobia is actually about today. There has been no public groundswell in anti-Muslim prejudice, or in anti-Muslim violence; rather, the spectre of `Islamophobia' exists in the minds of the elite, who look upon Britain's white working-class communities as an unpredictable blob liable to carry out acts of violence against Muslims if they read an article about piggy banks being banned or Prince Naseem being jailed. The Islamophobia agenda, as pushed by central government, the GLA, the police, various self-selected Muslim community groups and, as it happens, large sections of the media itself, is underpinned by a poisonous view of the masses as irrational and given to violent outbursts, and Muslims as pathetic victims who need heroic Ken and his handpicked Muslim community warriors to protect them. That is why this report focuses mostly on the tabloids, because, as it says, these papers are read by `millions' of people. Those horrible, hard-to-predict millions; we can't have them reading inflammatory material, can we? (pxvii)

The report says that media coverage may lead to increased violence, yet all the evidence suggests that there has not been a rise in anti-Muslim attacks. At the end of last year, the Crown Prosecution Service revealed that in 2005-2006 - in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings, when politicians, the police and others predicted there would be an anti-Muslim pogrom - there were only 43 cases of religiously aggravated crime, 18 of them against Muslims (or `perceived' Muslims). This represented a decline from 23 anti-Muslim crimes in 2004-2005 (1). It is the irrational fear of public opinion that is widespread in the GLA and elsewhere that leads some to see a connection between fairly ordinary media coverage of important events and a possible rise in violence. The truth is that Livingstone's desire to police the language that journalists use, just as central government has tried to curb the language all of us use in relation to `religious hatred', does nothing to rejuvenate or improve communuty relations or public life; instead it allows ideas to fester, unchallenged.

Common Ground, with its strange methodology, cliquish community group input and fear of tabloids and tabloid readers, ends by calling for an overhaul of the media. It calls for `codes of professional conduct and style guides about use of terminology'; for the employment of `more journalists of Muslim heritage who can more accurately reflect the views and experiences of Muslim communities'; and for the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and the government's Department for Communities and Local Government to focus on `combating anti-Muslim prejudice in the media' and in `the general climate of public opinion' (p133). These are explicit demands for increased government intervention into the press, and anyone who believes in the freedom of the press should rigorously oppose them and hope that the government ignores them.

Of course there are vast problems with the British press, its tendency to scaremonger about the threat of terrorism amongst them. Yet as Karl Marx, history's most passionate and consistent defender of freedom of the press, argued, a `bad' free press is better than a `good' controlled press. Marx said: `The free press remains good even when its products are bad, because these products are deviations from the nature of a free press, [while] the censored press remains bad, even when its products are good, because these products are only good insofar as they represent the free press within the censored press' (2). Marx ridiculed nineteenth-century European rulers who argued that the press should be restricted because it threatened the `public good' and who called on newspapers to hire only `respectable' individuals whose `position and character guarantee the seriousness of their activities and the loyalty of their thinking' (3). Livingstone, if he had the power, would do precisely these two things. He argues that the media is `sowing divisions' and `harming social cohesion' - that is, threatening public safety - and his report goes so far as to suggest who the media should employ: more Muslims, who apparently have the expertise and the loyalty to uphold the multicultural vision.

There is something archaically tyrannical in Livingstone's vision for the press: on the basis of questionable findings, he and his supporters express their desire to cajole the media into promoting the Livingstone vision for society, which is the `building and maintenance of Britain as a multicultural society' (pxiii). If Livingstone got his way, it would represent an explicit politicisation of the media, though it would be done under the guise of representing the interests of Muslim communities and the British people more broadly. Yet as Marx said, in a controlled or censored media, the government `hears only its own voice, knows that it hears only its own voice, and is yet fixed on the delusion to hear the voice of the people...' (4) The press should remain free from all forms of delusional interference by the authorities. Our current bad media - fairly free, messy, a bit mad, but which represents at least an aspiration to independence and objectivity - is a million times better than Livingstone's vision of a calm, slavish and unquestioning `good media' could ever be.


Leftist hatred of success and flourishing in others embodied in a statue

"Alison Lapper Pregnant" has finally been carted away from the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. And as far as I'm concerned, it hasn't come a moment too soon. The sculpture, by Marc Quinn, which shows the disabled artist Alison Lapper naked and eight months pregnant, was installed in September 2005. Carved from 13 tonnes of white Carrara marble and standing 12ft high, it stared imperiously at the tourists and pedestrians walking through the square and milling around the entrance to the National Gallery. It was removed at the end of last week, and replaced by Thomas Schtte's Hotel for the Birds, which at least has the virtue of being quite colourful.

Over the past year-and-a-half, on the numerous occasions I walked through Trafalgar Square or passed it by bus, I grew to loathe the Alison Lapper Pregnant statue (not Alison Lapper herself, please note, who I'm sure has overcome great challenges to become both an artist and a mother). The statue captured much of what is rotten in the heart of new Britain. When it was first unveiled, some art critics gushed about how it would challenge people's perceptions. `Against a sky the colour of old underwear, and a circle of buildings that might as well be built of concrete for all the life and warmth their stony facades exude, Quinn's womanly but warrior-like Lapper [glows] like a beacon', said one overexcited observer.

In truth, Alison Lapper Pregnant was about as challenging as old underwear. It was a drab monument to the backward pieties of our age. It showed that we value people for what they are rather than what they achieve. In our era of the politics of identity we seem more interested in celebrating individuals' fixed and quite accidental attributes - their ethnicity, cultural heritage or in Lapper's case, her disability - rather than what they have discovered or done in the world outside of their bodies. We prefer victims to heroes.

The other three plinths in Trafalgar Square, and of course Nelson's column in the middle, hold statues that commemorate individuals who did important things: there's George IV, who was king of Britain and Ireland from 1820 to 1830; Major-General Sir Henry Havelock, best known for capturing Cawnpore from rebels during the Indian Mutiny of 1857; and General Sir Charles James Napier, who was commander-in-chief in India in the 1840s. What you think of these men's contributions to British history is not important right now; they are at least recognised for things that they did. By contrast, the statue of Lapper on the fourth plinth was a 13-tonne celebration of the distortion wrought by nature on a woman's body rather than of that woman's contributions to public life and society.

Alison Lapper Pregnant celebrated what nature, in all its arbitrariness, does to humans rather than what we do to shape, lead and transform the world around us. In this sense, it captured the deeply conservative nature of the identity agenda. The politics of identity privileges fate over self-made destiny. In all the talk of black, Muslim, gay or disabled `identity' - categories created and sustained by the authorities to describe sections of the population who apparently have special needs and desires - we can glimpse the reintroduction of fate into public life, where individuals' fortunes are seen as being determined by their skin colour or physical afflictions or cultural background rather than by the choices they make and actions they take.

The Lapper statue's acceptance of fate was clear in the way it clashed with the other monuments in Trafalgar Square. The military men commemorated on the other plinths are shown in military garb and on horseback; they're depicted in their public roles. Lapper, by contrast, was shown naked, so that those who did not know who she is (and let's face it, she is not a very famous artist) were likely only to think: `Oh look, there's a disabled woman.' Where the three military statues commemorate individuals who transformed themselves in the name of achieving some higher purpose, the Lapper statue celebrated one woman's distorted physicality; where the military statues show men who shaped their own and others' destinies, the Lapper statue drew the eye towards a naked body shaped by the congenital disorder, phocomelia.

Ironically, this means that Alison Lapper Pregnant was during its tenure the haughtiest and most elitist statue in Trafalgar Square. For all the claims that Marc Quinn had introduced `reality' into a square dominated by stuffy dead imperialists, in fact Lapper assumed her place on the fourth plinth largely through an accident of birth. It was not her contributions to art or public life that were celebrated in Alison Lapper Pregnant, despite what the statue's supporters claimed, but rather the naked body bestowed on her by nature and birth. Her statue had more in common with that of George IV - who also ended up in Trafalgar Square thanks to an accident of birth: being born into royalty - than many would like to admit.

At the same time, Alison Lapper Pregnant was profoundly patronising to disabled people. Lapper herself has said: `The sculpture makes the ultimate statement about disability - that it can be as beautiful and valid a form of being as any other.' Is that really the `ultimate statement' on disability - that it is `valid'? The most common definition of valid is something that is `useable or acceptable until a fixed expiration date or under specific conditions of use'. What happened to the idea that we should see disabled people as equal members of society? Alison Lapper Pregnant took us back to the days when disabled people were something to gawp at and gossip about; it was a more sophisticated version of those old Spastics Society collection boxes outside corner shops that depicted sad little girls and boys with bad legs.

The final irritating thing about Alison Lapper Pregnant was the justification put forward by the authorities for erecting it: namely that it would help to `challenge people's perceptions' and `provoke' us into rethinking disability. In the past, public art was generally born out of public consensus: only when there was a palpable sense that a person had achieved widespread respect would a statue be commissioned in his or her honour. Now, under Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Fourth Plinth organisation, it seems the aim of public art is to hector the public, and help us to snap out of our apparently prejudiced views. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Alison Lapper Pregnant was a two-fingered salute by the political and cultural elite to the rest of us.

All of this goes some way to explaining why the statue was such a huge Greek-style monument. Where the military statues in Trafalgar Square are in fact quite modest, the Lapper statue was big and oppressive, a god-like figure surveying the masses that pass through Trafalgar Square. It perfectly embodied the new elite's contempt for the public. And I for one won't miss it.


A playground tumble can do you good

More experts recognise that a scraped knee can be a positive experience for a child. Let's hope they now relax about other 'dangers' in kids' lives

This week, Tom Mullarkey, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), warned against wrapping children in cotton wool. The head of a charity that normally raises the red flag about children having accidents made a very sensible comment: `A skinned knee or a twisted ankle in a challenging and exciting play environment is not only acceptable, it is a positive necessity to educate our children and to prepare them for a complex, dangerous world.'

Accidents lead to 12,000 deaths in Britain each year, and 4,000 of these occur in the home. Mullarkey said these figures show that RoSPA needs to continue with its accident-prevention work, but he also said that things should be `as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible'. RoSPA is calling for an intelligent debate about how we manage risk today, especially the risks facing children. With his new book No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk-Averse Society, author Tim Gill has helped to kickstart this debate, raising some crucial questions about risk-aversion and the impact it has on children's lives.

Gill opens his book by discussing a primary school in Lincolnshire that has banned pupils from playing kiss chase and tag, because of concerns that children might bump into each other. `The prohibition has also been seen in the US, Australia and Ireland, where in one county, half of all primary schools have banned running in the playground altogether', says Gill.

These are only the more extreme examples of society's inability to deal with risk, and allow children to deal with it, too. As Gill rightly points out: `Activities and experiences that previous generations of children enjoyed without a second thought have been labelled as troubling or dangerous, while the adults who permit them are branded irresponsible.'

The principal chapter in Gill's book takes a long hard look at the discouragingly dull nature of British school playgrounds. Increasingly, children's play has been severely curtailed and restricted by society's exaggerated sense of fear. The rot started with an episode of the BBC entertainment/consumer activist show That's Life in May 1990. Headed by Esther Rantzen, a team of the show's presenters covered a campaign launched by a member of parliament to make safety surfacing a legal requirement in all British playgrounds. The show focused in particular on the case of an eight-year-old girl who died after falling from a swing and hitting her head on the tarmac below.

Quite quickly in the wake of this campaign, playground providers felt compelled to introduce impact-absorbing surfacing. But research in to the prevalence of playground injuries, carried out by David Ball, a professor of risk management at Middlesex University, revealed that these safety measures did not result in a decrease in the number of accidents. Accident rates were steady between 1988 and 2002 despite the introduction of new safety standards and the spread of impact-absorbing surfacing. In fact, as Gill writes: `A growing number of experts think that the rubber safety surfacing most often used in the UK may lead to more broken arms than other types of surface.'

The good news is that attitudes towards playground safety have become more relaxed in recent years. After a decade of fretting over playground safety, there is a new climate, says Gill, `in which providers can build less safety-oriented, more challenging playgrounds'. Gill himself, who has written about children and risk for a number of years, should be given some credit for helping to shift the focus away from mollycoddling children towards allowing them some freedom, alongside other researchers and writers, including Middlesex University's David Ball, spiked contributor and author of Culture of Fear Frank Furedi, and various campaign groups such as Generation Youth Issues in Scotland.

Yet while playgrounds are slowly but surely becoming more challenging again, and while even RoSPA now recognises the `benefit' of a scraped knee to a growing child, the challenge today is to move the debate forward on a whole range of issues relating to children and risk. There may be a growing consensus among play professionals and policymakers that children need more challenging play environments - that scraping knees, grazing elbows and getting bruises does children no harm in the long run, and may even, as RSoPA says, teach them `valuable lifelong lessons' - but very few people challenge the idea that other children, as well as adults, pose a potential risk to our kids.

For example, there is still an unshakeable consensus that children should never be subjected to the risk of `life-long harm' from bullying or `unwanted attention' from adults. Such is the climate of suspicion surrounding adults who work with children today that teachers, youth club workers and others are reluctant to comfort injured or distressed kids. Society may be more relaxed about children scraping their knees, but it is tying itself in knots over who should be allowed to put a plaster on that scraped knee.

Gill deals with this important issue in his criticism of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, which was passed into law in England and Wales last year and which requires the millions of adults whose work involves coming into contact with children to undergo Criminal Records Bureau checks. `[This act] in effect places nine million adults technically under suspicion of abuse: a third of the adult working population', writes Gill. He warns that the attempt to regulate contact between adults and children `can undermine the very bonds of mutual trust that make communities welcoming, safe places for children'.

Inculcating children with a fear of strangers is actually counterproductive. Telling them to `never speak to strangers' can lead them to believe it is wrong for adults to initiate social contact with children. At a time when adult motives are treated so suspiciously, it is heartening to read Gill's defence of human compassion: `The vast majority of adults do not intend to harm children they do not know. So strangers are a largely dependable source of help if things go wrong.'

Gill is also sceptical about all the scaremongering in relation to screen-based technologies, the idea that kids are at risk when they venture on to the World Wide Web. `Risk elimination is no more possible here than anywhere else in childhood', he argues. `It is especially futile to base responses on the premise that children are in some global sense vulnerable. In their online lives, children are successfully learning and sharing ways to pursue their interests, while keeping themselves safe.'

For me, the weakest part of No Fear is the chapter on `Who is to blame?' Gill rightly argues that, although parents may be the conduits of much risk-aversion, they are not the source of it. Yet having argued that a host of social and cultural changes have made parents more danger-aware and controlling of their children's lives, Gill then writes: `Perhaps foremost amongst these is traffic danger.' He seems to believe that one reason why parents keep kids in doors is because the roads are, and have long been, unsafe.

Gill cites a 2001 UNICEF report on child deaths by injury: `Telling parents that they are being overprotective and that the roads are becoming safer for their children is, in this context, like telling them that they can let their children play with matches again because deaths from fire have been falling.' What Gill is getting at when he quotes this UNICEF argument is that the fall in the pedestrian death rate over the past few decades could be due to a corresponding decrease in children's exposure to traffic.

Fewer and fewer children are allowed out and about on their own today. Where the average mileage children travelled by car increased by 70 per cent between 1985 and 2003, the average mileage they travelled on foot declined by 19 per cent, and the average mileage they cycled fell by 58 per cent . So, you could indeed argue, as Gill does, that children are safer because they are not exposed to traffic to the same extent as children in the past were.

Yet the dramatic reduction in road accidents involving child pedestrians cannot be explained solely on the basis of the reduction in the number of children on the streets. Traffic deaths have fallen also as a result of safer car design, better braking technology, improvements in accident and emergency services, reductions in the prevalence of drink-driving, and the introduction of traffic-calming measures. Also, the UNICEF report shows that the Netherlands and the UK have managed to reduce child traffic death rates to similar levels, even though children's exposure to traffic is very different in these two countries. Sixty per cent of Dutch children (aged 12 to 14) travel to most places by bike; less than 10 per cent of British children travel by bike.

The solution is not to insulate children from traffic. Ultimately children need to learn to cross the road on their own. Indeed, one could argue that they are now so insulated from traffic that they are not becoming sufficiently `street-wise'.

My other beef with No Fear is that Gill sometimes lets the government and policymakers off the hook, arguing that `the media are undeniably major factors in the escalation of public anxiety yet, as always, are unwilling to accept any responsibility for this'. I agree that the media have a lot to answer for. Journalists and reporters constantly tell us how dangerous the modern world is for children, and unquestionably cover all the advocacy research that backs up this doom-mongering worldview. Hardly a day goes by without new media reports suggesting that children and young people are on the verge of a mental breakdown, at risk from paedophiles, bullying, anti-social behaviour, drugs and alcohol, and are facing an obesity epidemic that will result in them `dying before their parents'.

All of this no doubt contributes to a sense that the world is a scary and threatening place for kids. However, we should avoid pinning all the blame on the media. The government and various government-sponsored charities have done far more than their fair share of scaremongering. For example, it was a report published by the House of Commons Health Select Committee in 2004 that triggered the irrational panic about the obesity epidemic that would apparently `kill off' many of our children; it is the government's Sex Offenders Register that institutionalises the idea that perverted adults are stalking kids; it is the government's Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, a Stalinist piece of legislation that legitimates spying on millions of adults, which communicates the message: `Children are at danger.' And numerous charities, including the NSPCC and ChildLine, help to sustain the idea that life is worse for children than in the past. And yet, because No Fear is aimed very much at policymakers, Gill seems keen to tread carefully, and avoid alienating government officials and charity workers too much.

Gill has been able to get the government's ear in recent years, so as long as he continues challenging today's risk-aversion he is making a positive contribution to the debate about children. And his book is a very welcome antidote to all the wild scaremongering about children's lives. If we can harness this positive outlook not only to call for more challenging playgrounds and more childish rough-and-tumble, but also to challenge institutionalised suspicion and state-authorised scaremongering, then we really might free up our children's lives and allow them both to enjoy themselves and to learn through living.


Death Penalty Deters Future Murders, According to Remarkable New Empirical Study

Statistical Evidence Establishes that Each Execution Prevents 74 Murders, Shifting Burden of Persuasion to Death Penalty Opponents

In the never-ending debate between capital punishment proponents and abolitionists, one ongoing point of contention centers upon whether the death penalty actually deters future murders in America. According to a new study by Pepperdine University professors Roy D. Adler and Michael Summers, the answer is an emphatic "yes." Based upon their evidence, capital punishment exerts a demonstrable, significant statistical deterrent impact upon the number of murders in America. As a consequence, their study shifts the burden of persuasion dramatically to abolitionists.

Of course, one should note that even if capital punishment had no demonstrable deterrent effect upon crime or murder in America, several other justifications for its imposition would nevertheless remain. The preceding declaration stems from the fact that, according to the heritage of our common law, four philosophical and moral justifications for criminal punishment exist. Deterrence is merely one of those four.

The first justification, which is perhaps most ingrained in basic human nature, is what we commonly know as "retribution." This elementary moral justification asserts that one who commits an illegal or immoral act should himself suffer for having committed that act. Or, in common parlance, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." Although some people consider this a vulgar, unfortunate or improper justification for imposing criminal penalties upon other human beings, the simple fact is that it continues to constitute an important basis for criminal law and punishment. Agree or disagree, our society generally believes that a bad deed should not go unpunished.

The second traditional justification for criminal penalties is what we know as "incapacitation." Very simply, this holds that by removing a criminal from society through imprisonment or capital punishment, the criminal is thereby incapacitated from committing additional crimes. Indeed, this partly explains why crime rates in New York City fell so dramatically under the tenure of Mayor Rudy Giuliani. According to his theory, the same small segment of society tended to commit both the seemingly "minor" crimes as well as the "major" crimes. Thus, removing those who committed supposedly "minor" crimes incapacitated them from committing future "major" crimes if allowed to remain on the street, and crime plummeted. In similar fashion, capital punishment serves this incapacitation rationale because it permanently removes our most vicious criminals from society, thereby eliminating any threat of future crime that they pose while in prison, after escape or after parole.

The third of four traditional justifications for criminal law is that of "rehabilitation." In other words, in a perfect world, imposition of criminal penalties would serve to rehabilitate those who commit crime, whether through education in prison, or teaching the more fundamental truism that "crime doesn't pay." Obviously, capital punishment does less to serve this particular justification, apart from the possible improvement that a murderer can undergo between capture and execution.

This brings us to the fourth justification for criminal law, and the subject of the eye-opening new study: "deterrence." In other words, society aspires to create a criminal justice system that deters future crimes by making an example of those who commit them. In turn, this brings us to Professors Adler and Summers, and their remarkable new study. Examining the 26-year period from 1979 to 2004, they correlated the number of executions in America to the number of murders during that span. It became immediately clear that as executions in America increase, murders decrease. Conversely, when executions decreased, murders increased. In fact, the study revealed that each execution was correlated with some 74 fewer murders the following year.

Obviously, Professors Adler and Summers were concerned that this corollary relationship was merely coincidental. Therefore, they conducted a grueling statistical regression analysis on the relationship. To their surprise, their regression analysis established that the odds against the pattern being random were approximately 18,000 to 1.

Naturally, death penalty opponents will struggle to suggest alternative explanations for this remarkable evidence of capital punishment's deterrent effect, such as increased police activity, economic prosperity or perhaps demographic shifts. In light of the professors' new study, however, such opponents now carry a much heavier burden of proof in refuting this dramatic deterrent relationship.

Even more fundamentally, death penalty opponents now carry a heavier burden to explain why sparing the life of a convicted murderer somehow outweighs sparing the lives of dozens of future murder victims. Let the debate continue on this powerful new note.



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

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

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


18 November, 2007

Some laws don't apply to blacks?

A gang of blacks invades the home of a white family and beats them up and it is the authorities who are racist for prosecuting them to the full extent of the law? The Jena case seems to be setting an evil precedent

Three young black men break into a white man's home in rural Northern California. The homeowner shoots two of them to death - but it's the surviving black man who is charged with murder. In a case that has brought cries of racism from civil rights groups, Renato Hughes Jr., 22, was charged by prosecutors in this overwhelmingly white county under a rarely invoked legal doctrine that could make him responsible for the bloodshed. "It was pandemonium" inside the house that night, District Attorney Jon Hopkins said. Hughes was responsible for "setting the whole thing in motion by his actions and the actions of his accomplices."

Prosecutors said homeowner Shannon Edmonds opened fire Dec. 7 after three young men rampaged through the Clearlake house demanding marijuana and brutally beat his stepson. Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, were shot in the back. Hughes fled. Hughes was charged with first-degree murder under California's Provocative Act doctrine, versions of which have been on the books in many states for generations but are rarely used. The Provocative Act doctrine does not require prosecutors to prove the accused intended to kill. Instead, "they have to show that it was reasonably foreseeable that the criminal enterprise could trigger a fatal response from the homeowner," said Brian Getz, a San Francisco defense attorney unconnected to the case.

The NAACP complained that prosecutors came down too hard on Hughes, who also faces robbery, burglary and assault charges. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. The Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and pastor at Hughes' church, said the case demonstrates the legal system is racist in remote Lake County, aspiring wine country 100 miles north of San Francisco. The sparsely populated county of 13,000 people is 91 percent white and 2 percent black. Brown and other NAACP officials are asking why the homeowner is walking free. Tests showed Edmonds had marijuana and prescription medication in his system the night of the shooting. Edmonds had a prescription for both the pot and the medication to treat depression. "This man had no business killing these boys," Brown said. "They were shot in the back. They had fled."

On Thursday, a judge granted a defense motion for a change of venue. The defense had argued that he would not be able to get a fair trial because of extensive local media coverage and the unlikelihood that Hughes could get a jury of his peers in the county. A new location for the trial will be selected Dec. 14.

The district attorney said that race played no part in the charges against Hughes and that the homeowner was spared prosecution because of evidence he was defending himself and his family, who were asleep when the assailants barged in at 4 a.m.

Edmonds' stepson, Dale Lafferty, suffered brain damage from the baseball bat beating he took during the melee. The 19-year-old lives in a rehabilitation center and can no longer feed himself. "I didn't do anything wrong. All I did was defend my family and my children's lives," said Edmonds, 33. "I'm sad the kids are dead, I didn't mean to kill them." He added: "Race has nothing to do with it other than this was a gang of black people who thought they were going to beat up this white family."

California's Provocative Act doctrine has primarily been used to charge people whose actions led to shooting deaths. However, in one notable case in Southern California in 1999, a man who robbed a family at gunpoint in their home was convicted of murder because a police officer pursuing him in a car chase slammed into another driver in an intersection, killing her.

Hughes' mother, San Francisco schoolteacher Judy Hughes, said she believes the group didn't intend to rob the family, just buy marijuana. She called the case against her son a "legal lynching." "Only God knows what happened in that house," she said. "But this I know: My son did not murder his childhood friends."


My Mother Is A Feminist

My mother is a feminist. A die-hard, take no prisoners, true-blue feminist. Armed with a hard-won PhD., she has made her life's work the counselling of the transgendered, the gay and the sexually confused. Honest work in which she is passionately invested. The only fly in the ointment is me, her conservative daughter.

I am as passionate a conservative as my mother is a feminist. It's hard to imagine two more diametrically opposing viewpoints. I view the current state of feminism as doing more harm than good. As undermining the traditional and family values that I consider the backbone of our country. On the other hand, my mother considers conservative values as outdated, invalid, and as having absolutely no intrinsic value.

I understand how mom came to be such an ardent feminist. Though I thoroughly disagree with her views, I respect and admire the courage and sacrifices she made in attaining them. She got pregnant at age 16. Back then, abortion wasn't available on demand and the concept of shame still governed, which left the option of marriage. She dropped out of high school and got married. She had my sister, Bonnie, followed by Mickey, and then myself. All within a span of three years. She found herself at age 20 with three babies and a husband in the military.

Fast forward twelve years. The three children have become five and her husband has turned out to be a wife-beater. Tough spot. Enough to discourage the best of us. She found herself without a high school degree or any job skills, saddled with five children and totally dependant on the whims of an increasingly violent man. Pretty hopeless. Not unlike many women of her generation in the mid 60's.

Along came feminism. The message resonated. How could it not? The budding women's movement validated women like my mother. It gave them hope that they, too, were individuals, capable of managing life as well as men. Capable of managing life without men. She divorced my father and got a job working as a waitress. She got her GED and then enrolled in college. All the while, managing to support and sustain her five children. By the luck of the draw, mom attended Antioch college in Ohio, now recognised as one of the most liberal of all colleges, thoroughly steeped in the nascent "progressive" movement. Mom took their message and teachings to heart. Against great odds, my mother prevailed. She ended up with a PhD. and a worldview that understandably included a resentment of men. Not much different from other feminists of her time. The feminists that now represent "feminism".

Unfortunately, the mindset of most feminists today do not allow conflicting points of views to upset their hard-won worldview. In my experience, challenging any facet of feminism is taken as a personal attack. When what one thinks becomes what one is, it's human nature to interpret dissenting views as a personal attack. Politics have become personal. To challenge the worldview of a conservative, a gay person, a feminist or any other "group" is considered a direct attack on not only the validity of the particular view, but an attack on the person holding them. Invalidate their views and you invalidate them. You invalidate their struggle, their sacrifices, their self esteem. You invalidate them. No wonder dissent isn't welcome.

The core tenets of feminism have changed dramatically from the good old days when Gloria Steinam led the charge for equal rights for women. The days when the National Organisation of Women actually represented the goals of the average woman. Feminism has evolved. So has my mother. The chasm between mother and daughter has widened. When she looks at me, she sees a conservative and wonders where she failed. When I look at her, I see her confusion and take it personally.

Having a feminist mother has forced me to make a genuine effort to try to understand a mindset totally at odds with my own. I now try understand the underpinnings of other views, the anti-American, Bush lied, 9-11 was an inside job type of view. Instead of writing these guys off as nut-cases, as my mother does me, I've found that it's more productive to try to understand how one came to adopt what I consider such a radical mindset. Some times I am successful. Most times I am not. But I try.

My situation is not unlike that of many Americans these days. The war in Iraq, the increasing divide between red and blue states and the ongoing culture war is affecting many of us on a very personal level. Social interactions are increasingly defined by one's views instead of one's character. This is affecting families, marriages, business relationships and society as a whole. And not for the better.

It's ever so easy to point out problems. It's easy being a social critic, decrying this or that while gaining points for being insightful. It's far harder to offer a remedy. My personal view dictates that I don't have the right to criticise something unless I can offer a constructive solution. I'm sorry to say, with regards to my mother, who I love and respect, I have no solution to offer. My mother and I don't communicate anymore. We've failed to turn understanding into acceptance. I only hope others can learn what we have not - to communicate with loved ones and not let ideology rule your feelings towards them. I hope others can do what my mother and I cannot - concentrate on all our commonalties instead of focusing only on the things that divide us. I hope America can do the same.


Politically correct Britain haemorrhaging its best and brightest

Insane policing alone would encourage anyone to leave

We all know of the millions of Mexican emigrants who have left their country in the hope of a better life, usually to head to America. Among OECD member states, Mexico counts the largest number of emigrants - some 9.4m of them across the globe. But what few realise is that the second-largest group of exiles - some 3.4m at last count - are the British.

Each day, 1,500 people come to settle here - a figure which is quite familiar, and has political attention. But each day, 1,000 pack their bags for good and skedaddle. A disarming proportion of them are young, well-educated wealth creators who feel - like the Mexicans - that it is time to leave for better opportunities. This silent exodus is laden with economic implication.

If the emigres were to float away in one lump every Christmas, it would be the equivalent of Leicester or Coventry - 380,000 people. The image is of them being pensioners. And there are, indeed, more people drawing a UK state pension from abroad than there are pensioners in Wales and Scotland put together. The people whose taxes built the British welfare state seem understandably unwilling to test the latter part of its cradle-to-grave proposition. But they are less than 10% of the emigres.

The current phenomena is more of a 1970s-style brain drain than a 1980s-style Auf Wiedersehen Pet bricklayer exodus. The OECD showed this for the first time, using the spate of censuses conducted around the world at the turn of the century (2001 for Britain). It found 1.26m British graduates abroad - a higher figure than any other country. It counted only 865,000 German expat graduates, 438,000 French and just 390,000 American.

Expand the definition to "high skilled" and the picture becomes even bleaker. Of all the Brits categorised in this way, a staggering 15% were earning a living abroad - a rate of haemorrhage exceeded only by the famously itinerant Irish and New Zealanders. Even Poland did a better job of hanging on to its best people: just 9% of its high-skilled workers were found living abroad (this was before EU membership). America's retention rate was extraordinary: just 1% of its best workers were abroad.


Australia: Past Muslim aggression and hostility breeds distrust of them

As one of the last rural bastions in Sydney, Camden prides itself on keeping that laid-back twang of a true country town. But the once-sleepy hamlet in Sydney's southwest has become the scene of a battle over a proposed Islamic school for up to 1200 students on 15ha wedged between market gardens and pastures. It has roused a community to action on a scale not seen since a Muslim prayer hall was proposed in The Hills district in 2002. Residents, who speak their views plainly, fear it is the first tremor of a seismic change in the area that would be followed by a mosque.

Now the school's developers have asked for calm and a chance to prove themselves as Australians like everyone else. Quranic Society vice-president Issam Obeid told The Daily Telegraph yesterday they didn't expect such a hurtful reaction to the school. "Our aim is to open a school for all Australians, not just the Muslim community," Mr Obeid said. "Hopefully the students are going to be lawyers, teachers and business people or work in IT." Mr Obeid said they chose Camden because it was a beautiful rural area where they were able to buy a large block relatively cheap at $1.45 million. And while students would be free to pray on the site, there were no plans to build a mosque. "We will be teaching Australian values first because we are all Australians. We're not bringing anything bad from overseas and we're not there to teach minority group people," Mr Obeid said. "Hopefully one day when people start to get to know us they will realise we are not like what they think."

A public meeting held in Camden last week attracted more than 2000 people opposed to the development on the corner of Cawdor and Burragorang Rds. Support for the campaign has been gaining momentum through text messages, email and Facebook groups while the first form of "vandalism" at the site came when a wooden crucifix engraved with Christian scripture. The cross, which has been described by some residents as nothing more than irreverent Aussie humour, says in part: "When the enemy comes in like a flood the spirit of the Lord will lift up a flag in victory (Ish 59:19)."

Camden Council, which has received about 300 official objections, has indicated it would only be approved or rejected on planning grounds - not the basis of religion.

Local Rebecca Napier said Camden had a real community concern that the Islamic school wouldn't fit in with because Muslim's "refused to integrate". "We lit up the Christmas tree the other night and that is something they wouldn't be into because they're anti-Christian," Ms Napier said. "It would become more like Lakemba and less like the country town that we love."



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

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

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


17 November, 2007

EU wants to ban "Creationism"

Extreme ideologues at work! It must be very sad for them that Communism is no more. Threy are doing their best to reinvent as much of it as they can, though. Will we be hearing about the wisdom of Trofim Lysenko next? One thing we sure will not be hearing about is free speech

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) has adopted a resolution to ban creationism from receiving any discussion in schools outside of religion classes. "The Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies," said the resolution adopted on October 4 by the Parliament made up of 626 members elected from each European Member State. "If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe," said the resolution.

The CoE, an advisory body without power to mandate its resolutions, calls on all nations of Europe "to firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution and in general resist presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion." The statement has raised eyebrows of many in the scientific community who reject strict 'dogmatic' adherence to Darwinian evolution, and find scientific basis for belief in creation or in 'intelligent design' of the universe.

Over 700 scientists have signed onto a document proclaiming their skepticism about Darwinian evolution. The statement reads: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." Moreover, a movie to be released in February of 2008 exposes how atheists in academia have in some cases brutally silenced scientists who have presented research which counters the Darwinian credo.

David Berlinski, a mathematician and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute (a think tank which is open to scientific inquiry into Intelligent Design) has made many scientific critiques of Darwinian evolution. Commenting on the CoE resolution said, "if this is what a threat to human rights amounts to, count me among its supporters; I'm threatening away with the best of them."

The CoE resolution paints those who question evolution theory and find scientific evidence for intelligent design of the universe as if they rejected science altogether. "The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights," says the resolution. It ominously paints a "war on the theory of evolution" by religious extremists "closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements" who "are out to replace democracy by theocracy." "If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists," said the resolution. "It is part of the role of the Council's parliamentarians to react before it is too late."

Prior to its adoption, the European Center for Law and Justice opposed the resolution arguing: "The result of passing the Resolution would be the prevention of academic and educative discussion between the theory of intelligent design and the theory of evolution. This approach can only hamper the educational progress of students by restricting their examination of competing scientific ideas and will necessarily violate the right to freedom of expression, including academic freedom, and the right to free exercise of religion in education."

A Discovery Institute analysis of the resolution countered, "Isn't science supposed to permit - and even embrace - skepticism and doubt? By equating Darwin-doubting with a thought-crime against humanity, the resolution exposes the CoE as being the very types of dogmatists they claim to eschew."


The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Excerpt from Rush Limbaugh

When I was going to grade school and it was time to teach us about Thanksgiving, the basic synopsis of what I was told was the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, a bunch of destitute white people. When they arrived; they had no clue what to do, didn't know how to grow corn, didn't know how to hunt, basically didn't know how to do anything. And if it weren't for the Injuns who befriended them and gave them coats and skins and taught them how to fish and shared their food and corn with them, the Pilgrims wouldn't have survived and the Pilgrims thanked them by killing them and taking over the country and bringing with them syphilis, environmental destruction, racism, sexism, bigotry and homophobia.

"Well, folks, let's allow our real undoctored American history lesson to unfold further. If our schools and the media have twisted the historical record when it comes to Columbus, they have obliterated the contributions of America's earliest permanent settlers, the Pilgrims. Why? Because they were a people inspired by profound religious beliefs to overcome incredible odds. Today, public schools are simply not teaching how important the religious dimension was in shaping our history and our nation's character. Whether teachers are just uncomfortable with this material or whether there's been a concerted effort to cover up the truth, the results are the same. Kids are no longer learning enough to understand and appreciate how and why America was created.

"The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of the seventeenth century (that's the 1600s for those of you in Rio Linda, California). The Church of England under King James I was persecuting anyone and everyone who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. Those who challenged ecclesiastical authority and those who believed strongly in freedom of worship were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs. A group of separatists first fled to Holland and established a community. After eleven years, about forty of them agreed to make a perilous journey to the New World, where they would certainly face hardships, but could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible.

"The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims - including Bradford's own wife - died of either starvation, sickness or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper!

"This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives.

"He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. That's right. Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years - trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it - the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future."

Here now, in its entirety, the William Bradford journal, what he wrote about the social experiment after abandoning what essentially was socialism shortly after the Pilgrims had arrived in the United States or in the new world:
"'The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing - as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote. 'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice.'
Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They un-harnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products.'"

Not just use themselves and not just send to a common store but they could market. They could grow as much, they could sell it for what they could get for it, and the incentive was clear to do as much as possible on both sides. "And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' Bradford doesn't sound like much of a Clintonite, does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? Yes. Read the story of Joseph and Pharaoh in Genesis 41. Following Joseph's suggestion (Gen 41:34), Pharaoh reduced the tax on Egyptians to 20% during the 'seven years of plenty' and the 'Earth brought forth in heaps.' (Gen. 41:47)

In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.' Now, let me ask you: Have you read this history before? Is this lesson being taught to your children today? If not, why not? Can you think of a more important lesson one could derive from the Pilgrim experience?

"Guess what? There's even more that is being deliberately withheld from our modern textbooks. For example, one of those attracted to the new world by the success of Plymouth was Thomas Hooker. Thomas Hooker established his own community in Connecticut, the first full-fledged constitutional community, perhaps the most free society the world had ever known. Hooker's community was governed by the fundamental orders of Connecticut, which established strict limits on the powers of government. So revolutionary and successful was this idea that Massachusetts was inspired to adopt its body of liberties. The body of liberties included ninety-eight separate protections of individual rights, including no taxation without representation, due process of law, trial by a jury of peers, and prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment. Now, those no doubt sound familiar to you and they should because these are ideas and concepts that led directly to the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Bill of Rights."

"Nevertheless, the Pilgrims and the Puritans of early New England are often vilified today as witch burners and portrayed as simpletons. But to the contrary, it was their commitment to pluralism and free worship that led to these ideals being incorporated into American history, and our history books purposely conceal the fact that these notions were developed by communities of devout Christians who studied the Bible and found that it prescribes limited representative government and free enterprise as the best political and economic systems.

Now, there's only one word for this, folks. It's censorship. There was a time when every schoolchild did learn these basic lessons of the American culture. Now these truths are being and have been systematically expunged from history books in favor of liberal social studies clap trap," and the chapter goes on. "This brings us to our Founding Fathers, the geniuses who crafted the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

"These were men who shook up the entire world by proclaiming the idea that people had certain God-given freedoms and rights and that the government's only reason to exist was to protect those freedoms and rights from both internal and external forces -- and that simple, yet brilliant, insight has been all but lost today in liberalism's relentless march toward bigger, more powerful, more intrusive government," and that's why I wanted to add to the reading today the George Washington First Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. Thanksgiving was about thanking God for bounty and freedom and opportunity and blessings. Thanksgiving is a time we celebrate the Pilgrims realizing the best way to enjoy prosperity in a new world that was foreign to them. Yes, there was cooperation with the Indians and, yes, the Indians did extend the handshake of freedom when we arrived by teaching the Pilgrims how to farm and so forth, but after that, all the bounty that was created by the first settlers were shared with the Indians.

There was no wiping them out. There was no infiltration. There was no introduction of various diseases and -isms like environmental wackoism or sexism or racism or any of this, as have been attached in recent multicultural curricula to the so-called white Europeans who invaded this pristine land and destroyed the goodness and the oneness that the Indians enjoyed with this land. That's what's being taught today. What is not being taught today is the devotion to God that these people had, but the failure of a socialist compact to adequately provide for the residents of the first colony and how William Bradford himself saw it was failing almost from the outset and devised a new compact which was basically capitalism and unfettered competition, and incentive, and then it was Katie bar the door. All of these things are part of the original Thanksgiving, and even when I go back and remember my days in school, I was not taught this. I was not taught the involvement and the references to God.

I was not taught that the Pilgrims had all this bounty after awhile and shared it with the Indians. It was quite the opposite. The purpose of teaching Thanksgiving when I was a kid was to tell all of us just how wonderful the Indians were and how well they treated us when we arrived because we were basically inept and incompetent. I enjoy passing this story along every Thanksgiving


Jihad and the American Left

A few weeks ago a meeting occurred between Iranian mullahs and assorted international left-wing figures in hopes of generating some sort of "revolutionary solidarity". The guests of honor were the children of Che Guevera, Aleida and Camilo. The attempt ended in unintentional comedy when one of the mullahs present began to praise Che for his hatred for the Soviet Union, his loathing of socialism and communism, and his "godliness". When Aleida Guevara protested, the Iranians threw both her and her brother out, and the affair fell apart.

This isn't the first time the Iranians have attempted a hookup with the international left. Ahmadenijad has been visited recently by both Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega. The results were not all that more impressive than those of the conference, Chavez being a clown and Danny Ortega's glory days long behind him, despite his recent presidential victory. But it does clearly show how seriously the Iranians take the Western left, and how much they would value a relationship.

No Americans were present at the conference, no doubt due to ingrained Iranian hostility. But the question naturally arises: how open would the American left be to an alliance with the Iranian mullahs, and beyond them, the movement in which they play such a large role, Islamofascism?

At first glance, it might appear unlikely, the Jihadis being noted for such non-progressive activities as oppression of women, persecution of minorities, and the execution of homosexuals. But that kind of thing has never stopped the left before - their sole criterion has always been whether or not the other party is useful. It can safely be assumed that the mullahs feel the same way.

Up until now, the left has satisfied itself in responding to the War on Terror by attacking government actions, employing the Vietnam myth, and inciting as much domestic paranoia as humanly possible. But they're getting more frantic. Time has passed, and they have failed to generate anything like a mass movement, while recent successes in guarantee they never will. There's plenty of precedent for left-wing support of Islamic radicals, scattered and sporadic, but undeniable all the same. Recall Michael Moore's characterization of Al-Queda in Iraq as "Minutemen." Consider the left's defense of John Walker Lindh. Consider the self-styled "human shields" who raced to protect Saddam Hussein. Or the effort that has been put into undermining U.S. programs to combat the terrorist threat, such as rendition, wiretapping, and profiling. How large a step does it take to get from where the left is now to where the Jihadis would like them to be? And would they dare take that step?

The Ugly History of Leftist Betrayal

They've certainly shown no hesitation in the past. Left-wing collaboration with movements hostile to the U.S. goes back to the early days of the Communist Party. In the 1930s, party members and sympathizers were often recruited by either the NKVD (ancestor to the KGB) or the GRU, Soviet military intelligence, who encouraged them to break overt ties with the party and establish themselves in positions of intelligence value. Alger Hiss joined the State Department, Harry Dexter White and Lauchlin Currie joined the Treasury Department, Owen Lattimore served in a number of positions where his Far Eastern expertise proved useful.

Hundreds of others joined them at all levels of the government, searching out valuable intelligence and influencing government policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. They were at length exposed by Walter Krivitsky (assassinated by Soviet agents in a Washington hotel in 1940), Igor Gouzenko, and Whittaker Chambers, among others. Those revelations were confirmed by the Venona decrypts, in which the U.S. Army obtained a Soviet code book and used it to decrypt thousands of coded messages going back to the 30s. Though American leftists succeeded in obscuring the issue for generations, release of the decrypts in the early 90s demonstrated that cooperation between American communists and the Soviets was both broad and deep.

Most disturbing was the period of the pact. In late August 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed a Nonaggression Pact, clearing the way for Hitler to move into Poland. Stalin, for his part, got eastern Poland and the Baltic states. International communism, for years oriented toward resistance to fascism, made an instantaneous 180-degree turn. For two years, while Hitler chewed up Europe, threatened Britain, and made preparations for the Holocaust, communists across the world, including the U.S., offered direct support to the Third Reich. Not until Hitler turned against his late partner on June 22, 1941 did the left resume its anti-Nazi stance. It would be interesting to hear an explanation for these events in terms of the left's much-vaunted decency, humanity, and moral superiority, but echo answereth not.

The "New Left"

The New Left, born at Port Huron, Michigan in 1962, was supposed to be something totally different from the old communists. An American left, addressing American concerns, in no way beholden to foreign influences. While that may have been the plan, the record shows otherwise. During the Vietnam War the New Left acted in direct support of North Vietnam, a nation engaged in open hostilities with the United States. Tom Hayden, Mary McGrory, Joan Baez, and, most notoriously, Jane Fonda, traveled to North Vietnam to offer assistance to the communists while lacerating their own country. But it went deeper than that. Evidence exists that the New Leftists coordinated their activities -- demonstrations, speeches, student strikes -- with the North Vietnamese communists through contacts in Hanoi, Moscow, and, during the peace talks, in Paris. They may have even stooped lower. POWs from the infamous Hanoi Hilton tell of hearing American voices discussing their answers during interrogations. Men may well have died under communist boots and truncheons because of the actions of these people. As it stands today, we are unlikely ever to know for sure.

During the early 80s (for some unfathomable reason, events of this type seem to recur at two-decade intervals) the last major Cold War crisis centered on Europe. The Soviets had emplaced a new generation of nuclear missiles, the SS-20. The U.S. needed to replace its own weapons, designs twenty years old or more. The Pershing II and a new class of terrain-hugging cruise missile the Soviets could not match were due to be deployed by the mid-80s.

As these plans were being completed, a large-scale public movement arose "spontaneously" in both Europe and the U.S. -- the Nuclear Freeze, demanding that the number of weapons on all sides and in all regions be frozen at the current level as a first step toward disarmament. This was, needless to say, no coincidence.

The entire campaign was a KGB operation, directed from the Washington embassy, the New York consulate, and their equivalents across Europe. This was understood by many at the time, and widely published, including a major story in no less than the pre-Pinch New York Times. It made no difference; literally hundred s of thousands marched and protested, chanting slogans carefully drawn up by KGB propagandists.

But the protestors ran smack into an immoveable object -- more than one, as a matter of fact. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher refused to back down. They persuaded the NATO allies to hold true to their commitments. The missiles went in. The Soviets were caught in their own trap, confronting a NATO even stronger than before they began their machinations. (Along with the Strategic Defense Initiative, a missile-defense proposal artfully designed to undercut not only the USSR, but the protestors themselves.) They never did work their way out. By the end of the decade, the Soviet Union was one with the Romanovs.

There' s no lack of other examples. The Venceremos Brigade was made up of Americans who annually traveled to Castro's Cuba to assist in the sugar cane harvest and other revolutionary chores. None ever ventured to the Isle of Pines, the largest concentration camp in the Western hemisphere, holding over 10,000 "enemies of the people". The "Sandalistas" went to communist Nicaragua "to assist the revolution". Some of them fulfilled this promise by carrying Kalashnikovs with Sandinista patrols. Whether they assisted their hosts with various massacres against villages sympathetic to the Contras or the English-speaking Miskito Indians is unknown.

The record is clear, and can be read only one way. At almost every opportunity, the American hard left has sided with the men of blood. It's as if that was the only criteria, as if everything else, aims, beliefs, methods, or principles, was utterly beside the point. Dig up a mass ideological killer, and the Yankee rojo will be there to sign on that dotted line.

Can Leftists Cozy Up with Jihadis?

It will happen again. They will find their way. Hatred of women, the tormenting of homosexuals, the violation of all known human rights and everyday degradation of the human spirit -- none of that matters. It has never mattered before.

(Leftist persecution of homosexuals -- offered such wide-ranging leftist support in this country -- deserves a chapter of its own. In the mid-1930s Andre Gide, Nobel-winning novelist and one of the first homosexuals to live completely "out", was invited to the USSR, assured by his hosts that homosexuality was perfectly acceptable in the worker's paradise. A few conversations with others of his inclination revealed the horrifying truth, which included brutality, arrests, and disappearances into the Gulag. Gide returned to France and wrote a scathing polemic Le Retour de l' URSS, condemning the entire Soviet experiment.

In China, the Red Guards amused themselves by hunting down homosexuals and beating them to death. Romania attempted to annihilate its homosexual population through death by forced labor. On the Isle of Pines, Castro constructed special facilities in which homosexuals were subject to biological experimentation. The noted Cuban cinematographer, Nestor Almendros, filmed a documentary, Improper Conduct, which dealt in detail with these abuses. Though widely shown in the 80s, it is today utterly forgotten. If any left-wing protest against these crimes was ever made, no record of it exists. So much for leftist sympathy for gays.)

The sole possible drawback to a left-jihadi alliance would be, as occurred at the Tehran conference, friction between ideology and religion. Jihadis are religious fanatics. By definition, their ideology is bound up in their distorted interpretation of Islam. But leftist ideology is infinitely malleable. It can adapt to just about anything, as it adapted, for a short time, to the dogma it has always insisted was its polar opposite, German Nazism. As Arkady Schevchenko wrote in his memoirs Breaking With Moscow, "The dialectic can be used to justify any evil."

What form would such support take? The mind shies away from the possibility that leftists may adapt an active role, that they may choose to aid the Jihadis in carrying out actual terrorist actions. But we need only consider Lindh, or the "American Al-Queda", Adam Gadahn, to realize that the possibility exists. The left has always preyed on the disaffected, the alienated, and the disturbed. It takes little effort to turn such people against their own neighbors, as the record of the Communist Party, the new Left, and the Sandalistas clearly reveals.

Eventually, the Jihadis will realize -- if they haven't already -- that this reservoir exists and is ready for exploitation. When this occurs, we will have to deal with it. We'll have to do a more effective job than previously. The red scare scraped up far more in the way of dilettantes and damaged personalities than it did acting communists. (Most of them had been bagged already.) During the New Left period, next to nothing was done and the Yippies ran riot. Serious social damage resulted in both cases. We need a method of isolating the threat without dragging in bystanders and plain fools. This is more sophisticated epoch than even forty years ago. We can do better.

One thing we can be sure of. If the left does line up with the Jihadis, as they did with Castro and the Viet Cong, it will be the end. Leftism survived the purges, the Hitler-Stalin pact, the Freeze, it even survived the final collapse of the Soviet Union. It won't survive this. Victory in the War on Terror may not only bring the end of Islamic medievalism, but the last of ideological leftism. That'll be something worth seeing.

Note: A curious historical precedent exists for a left/Jiahdi axis: the Anglo-Arabs, Britons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who were so enamored of the Arabs and their way of life that they abandoned Britain to live among them. These include of course, Lawrence of Arabia, Gertrude Bell, who acted as trusted diplomat to the Arab sheiks, and John Glubb Pasha, father of the Jordanian Army, but also St. John Philby, the leading Arabist of his day and the father of Kim Philby, probably the most effective traitor ever employed by the KGB.



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

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

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


16 November, 2007

It's Too Late, Baby

Excerpt from the inimitable MARK STEYN

I was reading the New York Post the other day when my eye fell upon a story about Alexis Stewart, daughter of Martha. About twelve seconds later, my jaw fell upon it too. Miss Stewart is paying $27,000 a month in an effort to get pregnant.... She told People magazine that she's wanted a baby since she was 37, but that her ex-husband was "completely ambivalent about kids." So these days she injects herself once a month with a drug that causes her to ovulate in 36 hours. "I go to the doctor's office and they put me under anesthesia and use an 18-inch needle to remove about ten eggs," she explained. "Then, I go home to my apartment in TriBeCa, change, and get ready for my Sirius Radio show, Whatever." The doctor then fertilizes the eggs by a method known as intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection. "I'm using an anonymous donor," Alexis confided to People, "but not from a `genius' bank. Those are creepy." Unlike giving celebrity interviews about your 27-thousand-per-month intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection....

Martha's criminal prosecution was a disgrace, and her triumphant return a splendidly cocked snook - or even a cocked cockscomb topiary - to the SEC. Nevertheless, there is something almost too eerily symbolic about the fact that America's "domestic diva" is a divorcee with an only child unable to conceive. The happy homemaker has no one to make a home for. You look at Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving and think: Why bother just for her and Alexis? Why don't they just book a table at the Four Seasons?

Well, I would say that, wouldn't I? As National Review's in-house demography bore, you'd expect me to find in a successful single woman's $27,000 fertility treatments the flipside of the Afghan baby boom I mentioned last issue. Just as Europeans preserve old churches and farms as heritage sites, so Martha has amputated the family from family life, leaving its rituals and traditions as freestanding lifestyle accessories. So okay, let me nudge the argument on a bit. Today, many of the Western world's women have in effect doubled the generational span, opting not for three children in their twenties but one designer yuppie baby in their late thirties. Demographers talk about "late family formation" as if it had no real consequences for the child.

But I wonder. The abortion lobby talks about a world where every child is "wanted." If you get pregnant at 19 or 23, you most likely didn't really "want" a child: It just kinda happened, as it has throughout most of human history. By contrast, if you conceive at 42 after half a million bucks' worth of fertility treatment, you really want that kid. Is it possible to be over-wanted? I notice in my part of the world that there's a striking difference between those moms who have their first kids at traditional childbearing ages and those who leave it to Miss Stewart's. The latter are far more protective of their nippers, as well they might be: Even if you haven't paid the clinic a bundle for the stork's little bundle, you're aware of how precious and fragile the gift of life can be. When you contemplate society's changing attitudes to childhood - the "war against boys" that Christina Hoff Sommers has noted, and a more general tendency to keep children on an ever-tighter chain - you have to wonder how much of that derives from the fact that "young moms" are increasingly middle-aged. I wish Miss Stewart happiness and fulfillment, but she seems a sad emblem of a world that insists on time-honored traditions when decorating the house for Thanksgiving but thinks nothing of reordering the most basic building blocks of society.


Thanksgiving a time of mourning

Says a letter to Seattle Public Schools Staff:

We recognize the amount of work that educators and staff have to do in order to fulfill our mission to successfully educate all students. It's never as simple as preparing and delivering a lesson. Students bring with them a host of complexities including cultural, linguistic and social economic diversity. In addition they can also bring challenges related to their social, emotional and physical well being. One of our departments' goals is to support you by suggesting ways to assist you in removing barriers to learning by promoting respect and honoring the diversity of our students, staff and families.

With so many holidays approaching we want to again remind you that Thanksgiving can be a particularly difficult time for many of our Native students. This website http://www.oyate.org/resources/shortthanks.html offers suggestions on ways to be sensitive of diverse experiences and perspectives and still make the holiday meaningful for all students. Here you will discover ways to help you and your students think critically, and find resources where you can learn about Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective. Eleven myths are identified about Thanksgiving, take a look at #11 and begin your own deconstruction.

Myth #11: Thanksgiving is a happy time Fact: For many Indian people, "Thanksgiving" is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, "Thanksgiving" is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.

It is our goal as a District to strive towards being inclusive and aware of the needs of all our students by respecting and honoring the many cultural experiences of our students, staff and families. This does not mean that schools and staff have to avoid recognizing Thanksgiving, but rather calls upon each of us to be sensitive and mindful of every child in our classroom.

We appreciate your willingness to struggle with these complex issues by considering the impact on many of our Native students when teaching about Thanksgiving in traditional ways. If you have any questions or need assistance planning or preparing for any holiday, please feel free to contact the Department of Equity, Race and Learning Support at 252-0138.


Some comments on the above here

Stereotypes can be accurate generalizations

In a racial profiling lawsuit against the Maryland State Police (MSP), a plaintiff's attorney named Eliza Leighton said that some training documents contain "startling examples of racial stereotypes about Hispanics." According to the Associated Press:
For example, one document cautions that Hispanics generally do not hold their alcohol well. They tend to drink too much and this leads to fights. And it notes, Hispanic males are raised to be MACHO and brave, while females are raised to be subservient. Other sterotypes [sic] include the assertion that the weapon of choice for Hispanics is a knife and that Hispanics are reluctant to learn English.
Regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit, we can now expect such information to be purged from the training documents. But, as I wrote about Dr. James Watson's comments regarding Africans, intelligence and genetics, this is part of a very distressing pattern. Everyone fixates on the fact that such comments constitute generalizations (about groups that are supposed to be immune from such things), as if this is an offense in and of itself. Yet, no one seems to ask the only relevant question. Are the generalizations true?

Before anyone waxes stupid, please don't tell me that all generalizations are invalid because not every member of the given group will conform to a generalization. Intelligent people understand that legitimate generalizations are statements about a group's general characteristics, not individuals' specific ones. For example, if I say that men are taller than women, I don't mean that every man towers over every woman; nevertheless, it is an accurate relation of a general difference between the groups.

This brings us to an important point: While we must judge everyone as an individual, there are differences within groups but also differences among them. Thus, it makes no more sense to paint every group with the same brush than it does to pain every individual with the same brush. My response to those who cannot or will not accept this is that if they can't understand commentary written for adults, they shouldn't read it. Besides, not all generalizations can be invalid simply because the statement that all generalizations are invalid is itself is a generalization.

Modern dogma holds that diversity is one of the greatest qualities a society can enjoy, that it bestows many advantages. But what does this imply? Well, by definition "diversity" refers to differences among groups. Now, not only is it illogical to assume that every one of these differences will be flattering, the supposition that diversity is beneficial implies otherwise. After all, if diversity is beneficial, it is only because certain groups bring qualities or strengths to the table that others do not. And, if a given group possesses a certain unique strength, then other groups are wanting in that area relative to it. Any which way you care to slice it, this is a corollary of diversity dogma.

So, ironically, despite the fact that the diversity dogmatists would eschew stereotyping, a version of it imbues their ideology. So it's not that they don't have biases relating to generalizations, only that their understanding of group differences is clumsy and primitive, sort of like Archie Bunker but with advanced degrees, the illusion of intellectualism and the inability to be honest with themselves and others. So let's be honest now.

Stereotypes often arise because they have a basis in reality. For example, often it has been remarked that Irishmen liked to drink. Once again, intelligent people know this doesn't mean that every Irishman is a drunkard, but informed people might know something else: Ireland ranks number two in the world in per capita alcohol consumption next to Luxemburg.

Another difference among groups is that some are more patriarchal than others. We know that Moslem societies are quite so, as women are usually afforded fewer legal rights. In fact, Westerners will often emphasize and lament this difference as a way to burnish their credentials as believers in women's liberation.

In light of this, let's now analyze the MSP's statement that "Hispanic males are raised to be MACHO and brave, while females are raised to be subservient." Since some groups are more patriarchal than others, this can be true; and I venture to say that anyone who has had great contact with Hispanic people and possesses eyes and common sense will know it's often enough true compared to, say, Swedes

As to these matters, Raul Caetano, Catherine L. Clark and Tammy Tam, three Ph.Ds who received a government grant to study common sense, implicitly vindicate two of the MSP's assertions. They write in their paper, Alcohol Consumption Among Racial/Ethnic Minorities:
"One traditional explanation for heavy drinking patterns among Hispanic men, particularly Mexican-Americans, is the concept of `exaggerated machismo.'"
While these researchers didn't accept or reject this explanation, they didn't question the suppositions that Hispanic men drink too much and are "macho." So then why are the Maryland State Police probably going to have to pay money for saying what these academics got paid money to say? Well, it neither serves the left's agenda to sue a few eggheads nor can cash be extracted from them.

Besides, there is another factor: If a truth hurts, since you can't destroy the Truth, you destroy the truth-teller. And here is another truth. I have only one thing to say about the idea that Hispanics are reluctant to learn English: I've never been asked if I wanted to press two for German.

Stereotypes aren't just woven into flawed leftist ideology (please forgive the redundancy) and million-dollar research substitutes for common sense; they also appear in entertainment. Just think about all the times that whites are characterized as nerdy, lacking rhythm or liking mayonnaise (as to this, watch the movie Undercover Brother or Al Yankovic's music video "White & Nerdy"). Yet, golfer Fuzzy Zoeller was practically clubbed to death for quipping that Tiger Woods shouldn't request fried chicken or collard greens after the latter's record-setting performance at the 1997 Masters tournament. (I was "startled" myself; since Woods' mother hails from Thailand, I would have thrown in phat gapow). Seriously, though -- or almost seriously -- if whites can be smeared with mayonnaise, other groups can be coddled with their cuisines.

This isn't to say that every stereotype or generalization -- or what is known as a "profile" in the realm of law enforcement -- is completely accurate. But when one is found wanting, it simply warrants the alteration of its flawed elements, not the throwing out of the baby with the bath water. If a difference is frivolous and fun, it should be a source of mirth; if it indicates greater ability, it should be applauded; and if the difference is damning, remedy should be sought.

But this standard won't be embraced until we accept what is perhaps the most valid generalization of all: The leftist thought police are a menace to civilization and free speech. They are turning us into an ideological state, a place where ideology isn't rejected when it departs from truth but truth is rejected when it departs from ideology.

As for remedy, the best antidote to political correctness is its opposite. We don't have to speak and joke and talk and think in a way that pleases those who prove that infantilism doesn't always peak in infancy. Instead, we should stand up for truth - be it in the form of wit, policy or paradigm - and those who speak it. Do this en masse and "startle" those thought police enough, and we just might be rid of them after all. That is, if they actually do have hearts.


Academic research showing that stereotyes have considerable truth value is summarized here and here

The Insanity of Bush Hatred

Our politics suffer when passions overcome reason and vitriol becomes virtue

Hating the president is almost as old as the republic itself. The people, or various factions among them, have indulged in Clinton hatred, Reagan hatred, Nixon hatred, LBJ hatred, FDR hatred, Lincoln hatred, and John Adams hatred, to mention only the more extravagant hatreds that we Americans have conceived for our presidents.

But Bush hatred is different. It's not that this time members of the intellectual class have been swept away by passion and become votaries of anger and loathing. Alas, intellectuals have always been prone to employ their learning and fine words to whip up resentment and demonize the competition. Bush hatred, however, is distinguished by the pride intellectuals have taken in their hatred, openly endorsing it as a virtue and enthusiastically proclaiming that their hatred is not only a rational response to the president and his administration but a mark of good moral hygiene.

This distinguishing feature of Bush hatred was brought home to me on a recent visit to Princeton University. I had been invited to appear on a panel to debate the ideas in Princeton professor and American Prospect editor Paul Starr's excellent new book, "Freedom's Power: The True Force of Liberalism." To put in context Prof. Starr's grounding of contemporary progressivism in the larger liberal tradition, I recounted to the Princeton audience an exchange at a dinner I hosted in Washington in June 2004 for several distinguished progressive scholars, journalists, and policy analysts.

To get the conversation rolling at that D.C. dinner--and perhaps mischievously--I wondered aloud whether Bush hatred had not made rational discussion of politics in Washington all but impossible. One guest responded in a loud, seething, in-your-face voice, "What's irrational about hating George W. Bush?" His vehemence caused his fellow progressives to gather around and lean in, like kids on a playground who see a fight brewing.

Reluctant to see the dinner fall apart before drinks had been served, I sought to ease the tension. I said, gently, that I rarely found hatred a rational force in politics, but, who knows, perhaps this was a special case. And then I tried to change the subject.

But my dinner companion wouldn't allow it. "No," he said, angrily. "You started it. You make the case that it's not rational to hate Bush." I looked around the table for help. Instead, I found faces keen for my response. So, for several minutes, I held forth, suggesting that however wrongheaded or harmful to the national interest the president's policies may have seemed to my progressive colleagues, hatred tended to cloud judgment, and therefore was a passion that a citizen should not be proud of being in the grips of and should avoid bringing to public debate. Propositions, one might have thought, that would not be controversial among intellectuals devoted to thinking and writing about politics.

But controversial they were. Finally, another guest, a man I had long admired, an incisive thinker and a political moderate, cleared his throat, and asked if he could interject. I welcomed his intervention, confident that he would ease the tension by lending his authority in support of the sole claim that I was defending, namely, that Bush hatred subverted sound thinking. He cleared his throat for a second time. Then, with all eyes on him, and measuring every word, he proclaimed, "I . . . hate . . . the . . . way . . . Bush . . . talks."

And so, I told my Princeton audience, in the context of a Bush hatred and a corollary contempt for conservatism so virulent that it had addled the minds of many of our leading progressive intellectuals, Prof. Starr deserved special recognition for keeping his head in his analysis of liberalism and progressivism. Then I got on with my prepared remarks.

But as at that D.C. dinner in late spring of 2004, so again in early autumn 2007 at dinner following the Princeton panel, several of my progressive colleagues seized upon my remarks against giving oneself over to hatred. And they vigorously rejected the notion. Both a professor of political theory and a nationally syndicated columnist insisted that I was wrong to condemn hatred as a passion that impaired political judgment. On the contrary, they argued, Bush hatred was fully warranted considering his theft of the 2000 election in Florida with the aid of the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore; his politicization of national security by making the invasion of Iraq an issue in the 2002 midterm elections; and his shredding of the Constitution to authorize the torture of enemy combatants.

Of course, these very examples illustrate nothing so much as the damage hatred inflicts on the intellect. Many of my colleagues at Princeton that evening seemed not to have considered that in 2000 it was Al Gore who shifted the election controversy to the courts by filing a lawsuit challenging decisions made by local Florida county election supervisors. Nor did many of my Princeton dinner companions take into account that between the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, 10 of 16 higher court judges--five of whom were Democratic appointees--found equal protection flaws with the recount scheme ordered by the intermediate Florida court. And they did not appear to have pondered Judge Richard Posner's sensible observation, much less themselves sensibly observe, that while indeed it was strange to have the U.S. Supreme Court decide a presidential election, it would have been even stranger for the election to have been decided by the Florida Supreme Court

As for the 2002 midterm elections, it is true that Mr. Bush took the question of whether to use military force against Iraq to the voters, placing many Democratic candidates that fall in awkward positions. But in a liberal democracy, especially from a progressive point of view, aren't questions of war and peace proper ones to put to the people--as Democrats did successfully in 2006?

And lord knows the Bush administration has blundered in its handling of legal issues that have arisen in the war on terror. But from the common progressive denunciations you would never know that the Bush administration has rejected torture as illegal. And you could easily overlook that in our system of government the executive branch, which has principal responsibility for defending the nation, is in wartime bound to overreach--especially when it confronts on a daily basis intelligence reports that describe terrifying threats--but that when checked by the Supreme Court the Bush administration has, in accordance with the system, promptly complied with the law.

In short, Bush hatred is not a rational response to actual Bush perfidy. Rather, Bush hatred compels its progressive victims--who pride themselves on their sophistication and sensitivity to nuance--to reduce complicated events and multilayered issues to simple matters of good and evil. Like all hatred in politics, Bush hatred blinds to the other sides of the argument, and constrains the hater to see a monster instead of a political opponent.

Prof. Starr shows in "Freedom's Power" that tolerance, generosity, and reasoned skepticism are hallmarks of the truly liberal spirit. His analysis suggests that the problem with progressives who have succumbed to Bush hatred is not their liberalism; it's their betrayal of it. To be sure, Prof. Starr rejects Bush administration policies and thinks conservatives have the wrong remedies for what ails America today. Yet at the same time his analysis suggests, if not a cure for those who have already succumbed, at least a recipe for inoculating others against hating presidents to come.

The recipe consists above all in recognizing that constitutional liberalism in America "is the common heritage of both modern conservatives and modern liberals, as those terms are understood in the Anglo-American world," writes Prof. Starr. We are divided not by our commitment to the Constitution but by disagreements--often, to be sure, with a great deal of blood and treasure at stake--over how to defend that Constitution and secure its promise of liberty under law.

The conflict between more conservative and more liberal or progressive interpretations of the Constitution is as old as the document itself, and a venerable source of the nation's strength. It is wonderful for citizens to bring passion to it. Recognizing the common heritage that provides the ground for so many of the disagreements between right and left today will encourage both sides, if not to cherish their opponents, at least to discipline their passions and make them an ally of their reason.



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

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

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


15 November, 2007

A good speech. Who would have thought it came from the Prime Minister of Britain in the 21st century?

There is very little to argue with in the introductory remarks by Gordon Brown reproduced below. If only he were inclined to put any of it into practice!

Just shout: "Homosexuals are an abomination to God" in the hearing of a British policeman or try to defend yourself against intruders in your own home and see how long your liberties last! Brown's idea of liberty is the same as Stalin's: The liberty to be a Leftist

I want to talk today about liberty - what it means for Britain, for our British identity and in particular what it means in the 21st century for the relationship between the private individual and the public realm.

I want to explore how together we can write a new chapter in our country's story of liberty - and do so in a world where, as in each generation, traditional questions about the freedoms and responsibilities of the individual re-emerge but also where new issues of terrorism and security, the internet and modern technology are opening new frontiers in both our lives and our liberties.

Addressing these issues is a challenge for all who believe in liberty, regardless of political party. Men and women are Conservative or Labour, Liberal Democrat or of some other party - or of no political allegiance. But we are first of all citizens of our country with a shared history and a common destiny.

And I believe that together we can chart a better way forward. In particular, I believe that by applying our enduring ideals to new challenges we can start immediately to make changes in our constitution and laws to safeguard and extend the liberties of our citizens:

* respecting and extending freedom of assembly, new rights for the public expression of dissent;

* respecting freedom to organise and petition, new freedoms that guarantee the independence of non-governmental organisations;

* respecting freedoms for our press, the removal of barriers to investigative journalism;

* respecting the public right to know, new rights to access public information where previously it has been withheld;

* respecting privacy in the home, new rights against arbitrary intrusion;

* in a world of new technology, new rights to protect your private information;

* and respecting the need for freedom from arbitrary treatment, new provision for independent judicial scrutiny and open parliamentary oversight.

Renewing for our time our commitment to freedom and contributing to a new British constitutional settlement for our generation.

And my starting point is that from the time of Magna Carta, to the civil wars and revolutions of the 17th century, through to the liberalism of Victorian Britain and the widening and deepening of democracy and fundamental rights throughout the last century, there has been a British tradition of liberty - what one writer has called our 'gift to the world'.

Of course liberty - with roots that go back to antiquity - is not and cannot be solely a British idea. In one sense, liberty is rooted in the human spirit and does not have a nationality. But first with the Magna Carta and then through Milton and Locke to more recent writers as diverse as Orwell and Churchill, philosophers and politicians have extolled the virtues of a Britain that, in the words of the American revolutionary Patrick Henry, 'made liberty the foundation of everything', and 'became a great, mighty and splendid nation...because liberty is its direct end and foundation'.

At that time few doubted that modern ideas of liberty originated from our country. Britain 'hath been the temple as it were of liberty' said Bolingbroke as early as 1730 'whilst her sacred fires have been extinguished in so many countries, here they have been religiously kept alive'. 'The civil wars of Rome ended in slavery and those of the English in liberty' Voltaire wrote. 'The English are the only people upon earth who have been able to regulate the power of kings by resisting them...The English are jealous not only of their own liberty but even of that of other nations'.

So powerful did this British idea of liberty become that the American War of Independence was fought on both sides 'in the name of British liberty' and the first great student of American democracy de Tocqueville acknowledge its roots across the Atlantic: 'I enjoyed, too, in England', he said, 'what I have long been deprived of - a union between the religious and the political world, between public and private virtue, between Christianity and liberty'.

A century and more later, facing fascism on the right and Stalinism on the left, Orwell wrote that 'the totalitarian idea that there is no such thing as law - there is only power - has never taken root in England [where] such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in'.

And while we should not overstate it, the anthems that today celebrate our country have at their heart a call to liberty. In 1902 A.C Benson wrote 'Land of Hope and Glory' to define Britain as 'the mother of the free' and two centuries before Rule Britannia, written in England by a Scot, resounded with the resolve 'Britons never never shall be slaves'.

Of course the cause has been hard fought -- won and lost and won again. But if you draw a line through all the peaks and valleys, the direction over time is upward.

A passion for liberty has determined the decisive political debates of our history, inspired many of our defining political moments, and those debates, conducted in the crucible of great events, have, in my view, forged over time a distinctly British interpretation of liberty -- one that asserts the importance of freedom from prejudice, of rights to privacy, and of limits to the scope of arbitrary state power, but one that also rejects the selfishness of extreme libertarianism and demands that the realm of individual freedom encompasses not just some but all of us.

More here

The reality behind Brown's fine words

We live in an era of Doublespeak. In Britain, `freedom' is proclaimed from the rooftops, while our real freedoms to protest, speak openly and choose how we wish to live our lives are going up in smoke. Everywhere you look, the f-word is celebrated: on bogroll packaging, in air freshener ads, in speeches by politicians who manage to dress up their assaults on freedom as new freedoms. Freedom is paid lip service while simultaneously being stabbed in the back - a mixed metaphor, I know, but then this is a mixed-up state of affairs.

Now, a fightback against our illiberal rulers has been launched from a most curious corner. Brick Lane, a long road in the East End of London, is the heart of the capital's Bangladeshi community. On a balmy afternoon, waiters in crisp white shirts and black waistcoats stand outside the lane's myriad curry shops, trying to coax passers-by to pop in for a cheap and cheerful spicy late lunch. Tempting, but I head towards the Old Truman Brewery, a former beer-making factory turned `creative industries' Mecca. It's an 11-acre site that houses more than 200 small, creative businesses. Fashion designers, artists and djs rub shoulders with architects, photographers and illustrators. The courtyard is packed with Nathan Barley lookalikes: young (well, youngish) men and women wearing casualwear and black-rimmed spectacles and tucking into exotic-looking sandwiches and cups of steaming coffee.

Tucked away on the first floor of the old brewery is S2S Productions, the makers of one of this year's most talked-about British movies: Taking Liberties. The two-hour campaigning documentary on how Blair's government signed away our civil liberties - from the right to protest to freedom of speech to the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty - was a surprise hit last month, both critically and in terms of box-office stubs. There's also a book of the same name and the film will come out on DVD later this year (complete with two hours of extra, New Labour-baiting material). The film's director, Chris Atkins, is sitting at his desk. `Hold on a minute', he says. `I'm just sending an email to some bastard who's threatening to sue me.' I notice that, taped to his wall, there is a rifle and a pair of handcuffs, which makes me think for a minute that he is really serious about taking down our killjoy government. Alas - and please pay attention, any police officers who happen to be reading this - they're only toys. (That's right, American readers, we Brits do not have the right to bear real arms. How would we ever manage to overthrow a tyrannical regime without guns, I hear you ask? Good question. Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering the very same.)

`The loss of liberty under New Labour has been unprecedented in modern times', says Atkins, over a bowl of chips and a glass of orange juice and lemonade in a gastro-pub back in the Nathan Barley courtyard. `Labour flushed down the toilet freedoms that have existed for a very long time', he says (making me think of that `Freedom' toilet paper again).

Both the film and the book versions of Taking Liberties trace the reams of illiberal laws that were enacted by the Blair regime. You think you have free speech and the right to protest? Not any more you don't, thanks to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act that passed through parliament in April 2005 and which criminalised protest without permission. The Act made the square kilometre around Parliament Square in London a `designated area' (`more like a f*cking "exclusion zone"', says Atkins) in which authorisation for any kind of protest must be sought six days in advance.

The exclusion zone, designed to protect the Houses of Parliament from the sight and sound of uppity protesters, spreads from Westminster to Lambeth, and covers the whole of Whitehall (which is peppered with government buildings), County Hall and much of the south bank of the Thames. Anyone who conducts an unauthorised protest inside the exclusion zone risks being imprisoned for up to 51 weeks. That's nearly a year. For protesting. As Atkins says, the authorities have `excluded political protest from the most political bit of London'. The fencing off of the political centre from last-minute, quickfire, angry demonstrations represents a serious denigration of our right to assemble and speak freely.

You think you could never be detained without trial? Think again. The Prevention of Terrorism Act was updated at the end of 2005 to allow suspects to be held without charge or trial for 28 days. Yesterday our new PM Gordon Brown put to parliament the case for extending the detention-without-trial option to 56 days. (This should have been taken as hard evidence that Brown is as allergic to liberty as his predecessor was. Instead, much of the media, where for some mysterious reason there has been an outbreak of Brown-nosing, congratulated the PM for rejecting `the melodramatic rhetoric of the last prime minister' in favour of articulating `the delicate balance between security and liberty' (1). So apparently it's okay to bin our liberties, so long as you do it in measured tones rather than with fiery bombast.) As Atkins points out, Habeas Corpus, the idea that `all detention is unlawful unless it has been approved by a court', has existed since the Magna Carta of 1215. `And then Blair comes along and scribbles it out', he says. The late comedian Tony Hancock put it well: `Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?' (2)

Atkins' book and film also attack the government's constant monitoring of the population, through CCTV cameras, numerous databases and soon (perhaps) ID cards. The book has a cutting chapter on how the Blairites' `Respect Agenda' has been used to force through new rules and regulations governing our behaviour. Consider Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), which can be used to punish and correct behaviour that is not even illegal but which someone somewhere finds annoying. Describing ASBOs as a product of New Labour's politics of `Go And Stand In The Naughty Corner', Atkins writes in the book version of Taking Liberties: `Even though New Labour has been responsible for thousands of new criminal offences, you still have to be found guilty of one of these to go to prison. ASBOs neatly get around this little niggle, by having tailor-made restrictions for each individual person.. If you are doing something that isn't against the law, but someone else doesn't like, they can go to a magistrates' court and get one of these orders that bans you acting in that way. If you break the ASBO, you go to jail.' (3)

In very plain English: you can now be imprisoned for doing something that is not against the law. This can include wearing a hooded sweatshirt in a shopping mall or making a lot of noise while you wash your dishes or gathering on street corners in groups of two or more or.hold on, this list could go on forever. To save time, yours and mine, let me state the bald truth: the ASBOs set-up means you can effectively and potentially be imprisoned for just about anything. Where's Magna Carta when we need her most?

Atkins is clearly passionate about civil liberties. He talks animatedly, in between wolfing down mouthfuls of a steak-and-salad sandwich, about how important the rights to protest and free speech are. It makes a refreshing change from listening to those sometimes dull civil libertarians who clog up the airwaves and who can't seem to get through a single sentence without bigging up Brussels as the true defender of our rights. (This is the same Brussels that scolds entire nations for voting the `wrong way' in EU referendums.) And yet. there's something peculiar about Atkins' defence of liberty, which I couldn't put my finger on at first. Then, as he tried to convince me that most Sun and Daily Mail readers do not appreciate how British and traditional liberty is, or that their hero - Winston Churchill - was apparently a great defender of liberty, it suddenly strikes me: the Taking Liberties project is actually conservative rather than radical. It uses the `politics of fear' as much as the Blairities did, and it seems to view freedom as a tradition that we must respect rather than as a thing that we do in our daily lives.

One of the most striking things about the film version of Taking Liberties is what it leaves out. It's good on the degradation of our formal rights, but it has little to say about the creeping erosion of our informal freedoms. It's good on the way in which the relationship between the state and the individual was redefined by the Blairites (with the state coming out very much on top), but it is silent on the Blairites' interference in our relationships with each other. For instance, it says nothing about the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, a shockingly Stalinist piece of legislation which will codify the requirement for every adult who works with children to undergo a criminal records check. Built on a deep suspicion of the adult population, enforced vetting will require that 9.5million adults - from youth workers to lollipop ladies, football coaches to priests - submit themselves to the watchful eye of the suspicious state. This can only poison intergenerational trust and undermine free and easy relations between men, women and children.

Nor does Taking Liberties address New Labour's smoking bans, which take away our choice even in that traditional getaway from stuffiness, the public house. Or its ban on junk-food advertising, which usurps parental decision-making on the basis that Government Knows Best what children should eat. Or its use of the health agenda to enforce a New Conformism amongst the public, where we're advised what to eat, how much exercise to take, what to wear while having sex (condoms, please), and how to raise our children as healthy and respectful citizens in the mould of our Dear Leaders (first Blair, now Brown).

Taking Liberties seems able to conceive of freedom only in the public sphere of courts and demonstrations; it has a blind spot about freedom and choice in the private sphere. Yet libertarians, alongside defending public space from the encroachments of heavyhanded legislation, must also defend private spaces as areas where we should be free to kick back, relax, experiment and make and break our own rules. A man needs an unfettered private space in which to mould relationships and develop his personality, as well as deserving respect, equality and freedom of speech when he enters the public sphere.

At times, Taking Liberties uses a very Blairite brand of fearmongering in an attempt to wake the apparently fickle public to the dangers of New Labour's illiberalism. The film hints that we could slide back to Nazism if we don't resist New Labour's illiberal agenda, while the book berates its readers by asking if they will simply `chuckle at the jokes, feel sorry for the people whose lives have been ruined, and then go back to watching "Celebrity Face Swap"' (4). Both the film and the book seem to be saying: `Don't you know there is a long tradition of freedom in Britain? Aren't you going to help defend this tradition?' The redefinition of freedom as a stuffy tradition risks devaluing liberty, while also placing people in a subordinate relation to their own freedom. Apparently our role is merely to respect the freedoms that have been graciously handed down to us by heroes of the past (Winston Churchill!), rather than to live and breathe our freedoms every day, to act them out, to call for their expansion and improvement. People should not be seen as the passive and grateful recipients of rights from on high; they should be seen as freedom personified, as freedom itself.

Atkins says we need a `written bill of rights' in order to protect freedom from power-hungry politicians. It comes across like a demand to elevate freedom above the messy business of life, love and politics. In the past, constitutions and bills of rights tended to be written in revolutionary moments by the representatives of mass movements, and thus they expressed a genuine desire on the part of large swathes of people to live differently and more freely. By contrast, a bill of rights that was based on a fear of out-of-control politicians and a suspicion of the celebrity-obsessed public would run the risk of turning freedom into stone, ossifying it, making it a museum piece that can be admired by lawyers and professional civil libertarians but which remains beyond the reach of the smoking, drinking, junk food-eating man in the street.

Atkins has done a good job of exposing to public ridicule New Labour's assault on formal rights (and I can't help noting the irony that his civil libertarian cell emerged from the heart of the `creative industries' that were so flattered by the Blairites). But we have much further to go if we are to turn freedom from rhetoric into a reality.


Tories warn of a 'lost generation'

Britain is in danger of creating a "lost generation" of wayward teenagers responsible for soaring levels of gun crime and drug and alcohol abuse, a Tory-backed group claims today. In a stark warning about the extent of the "broken society", it says a toxic combination of family breakdown and school failure is creating a violent and anti-social youth culture. The Commission for Social Justice will today launch an inquiry into the epidemic of gang and youth crime that threatens to turn inner cities into no-go areas.

It will study New York's success in reducing crime and the impact of a zero tolerance approach to law enforcement. The commission, chaired by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, released shocking statistics:

every year an estimated 70,000 school-aged offenders enter the youth justice system; 18- to 20-year-olds constitute 42 per cent of all first-time offenders; three quarters of male offenders between 18 and 21 re-offend within two years; the most likely person to have a knife is a boy of 14-19; four out of 10 muggings are committed by under-16s; the total of young offenders in custody has been above 2,500 every month since April 2000 and 1,504 of those in custody now are 16 or younger.

Mr Duncan Smith will today say that the challenge of youth crime, unemployment and educational failure is one of the most important facing Britain - but is not being met by Gordon Brown's Government. He told The Daily Telegraph: "The murder of little Rhys Jones in Liverpool and the murders of 20 teenagers in London this year by the gun or the knife is a wake-up call for politicians of all parties. "Family breakdown and school failure are important long-term factors in the growth of a violent and anti-social youth culture. We need to tackle these problems, even if it may take a generation before we can see the benefits."

The commission will liaise with the senior police officers who advised Rudolph Giuliani, the architect of the zero tolerance policy when he was mayor of New York, and will produce recommendations to restore a sense of order and safety to the streets. It will also launch a strong attack on City institutions for not investing more of their profits in the inner-cities.

After being forced out as Tory leader in 2003, Mr Duncan Smith has rebuilt his reputation with his ground-breaking research into the causes of social breakdown. He has become an influential figure close to David Cameron and is touring the country to study social problems with members of the shadow cabinet. His announcement today will form part of a wider Tory attack on Labour's failure to tackle crime.

Mr Cameron will today set out plans to toughen rape laws following research showing poor conviction rates in comparison with other European countries and falling prison sentences for rapists.

Mr Duncan Smith, will use a speech at the launch of the 10 million pound Salmon Centre, an east London youth club, to challenge Mr Brown to address the family breakdown, school failure in inner cities and drug and alcohol abuse that is fuelling a new breed of out-of-control adolescents.

There have been more than 30 criminal justice Bills since 1997. Over 3,000 new criminal offences were created - one for every day Labour has been in office. However the Tories claim there has been no real attempt to reverse the social breakdown at the root of the crime problem. Mr Duncan Smith said: "Our police and communities need solutions to gang crime and we need a quicker, simpler and far more effective system of youth justice.

"A renewed effort must be made to tackle drug abuse and under-age drinking, a major cause of violent and anti-social behaviour. "But we need carrots as well as sticks. Our provision for young people in the form of places to meet and worthwhile activities is woefully inadequate.

"I also believe that big business and the City of London, whose bosses enjoy lavish salaries and bonuses, could be making a far bigger contribution. In London and other big cities we have wealth and poverty living side by side. "Why don't our big City companies make their own efforts to tackle the poverty on their doorstep? Why don't they start putting money into youth clubs and fund voluntary groups working with disaffected youth? These are questions I want our review to address."

Public confidence in the criminal justice system has fallen, with up to 17 per cent of people reporting "high levels" of anxiety about violence and anti-social behaviour.

Yesterday, it was announced that the disgraced former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, who was jailed for perjury, will head a review of prison reform under the auspices of Mr Duncan Smith. The decision to appoint him was taken by Mr Duncan Smith, rather than the party leadership and does not signal a return to the party fold.


To Understand the Left, Read this Issue of Rolling Stone

By Dennis Prager

The current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, its special 40th anniversary issue, reveals almost all one needs to know about the current state of the cultural left. The issue features interviews with people Rolling Stone considers to be America's leading cultural and political figures -- such as Al Gore, Jon Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Cornel West, Paul Krugman, Kanye West, Bill Maher and George Clooney, among many others. It brings me no pleasure to say that, with few exceptions, the interviews reveal a superficiality and contempt for cultural norms (as evidenced by the ubiquity of curse words) that should scare anyone who believes that these people have influence on American life.

First, the constant use of expletives. As I wrote in my June 5, 2007, column, "'Buck Fush' and the Left," "Higher civilization has always regarded the use of expletives in public (outside of, let us say, theatrical performances) as a form of assault on civilization . . . ." That is why the amount of public cursing on the left and the way curse words are accepted as part of public and formal discourse may be as significant to understanding the left as anything the left says. It is the left's way of showing rejection of the values of the middle class and of America's Judeo-Christian civilization. Typical examples:
Chris Rock " . . . Bush f--ked up." "That's a major f--kup." "I say some harsh s--t."

Novelist William Gibson: "The s--t you've been doing for the past 400 years . . . ."

George Clooney: " . . . my sister and I were quizzed on s--t." "Now you're going to hear about all this s--t." "What the f--k's wrong with you?" China "doesn't give a s--t . . ." "I don't give a s--t." "This war is bulls--t."

Billie Joe Armstrong: "What the f--k are you doing?" " . . . when you say 'F--k George Bush' in a packed arena in Texas, that's an accomplishment." "I don't have a f--king clue what they're talking about." " . . . all the f--ked up problems we have." " . . . this girl was f--ked up." "Why did I worry so much about this s--t?"

Jon Stewart: "We have a s--tload of guns." " . . . that f--ked up everything." "We f--king declared war on 'em." " . . . the whole f--king thing's ours." "Two vandals . . . can f--k up your way of life." "I'll take those odds every f--king day."

Eddie Vedder: "Why the f--k is he doing that?"

Sam Harris: " . . . any religious bulls--t."

Meryl Streep: "Oh, f--k, why me?"

Tom Hanks: "People have stopped giving a s--t . . . ." "Where the f--k have you people been?"
In response to this, I will receive e-mails cursing me and noting that Vice President Dick Cheney once whispered a curse at Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy -- on the floor of the Senate, no less. These e-mailers -- and, to be honest, some religious conservatives as well -- do not see any difference between cursing in public and using an expletive in a whisper. Many people have lost the ability to judge actions in context or to acknowledge gradations of sin. Is whispering the f-word when one assumes that no one else hears you say it really no different from using that word in a published interview or on a television show? But even if no foul language were used by so many of those interviewed in Rolling Stone, the absence of serious thought would be enough to fear leftist influence on the country. Some examples:
Jane Goodall: "We seem to have lost the wisdom of the indigenous people, which dictated that in any major decision, the first consideration was, 'How will this decision we make today affect our people in the future?'"
The romanticizing of "indigenous peoples" is a popular leftist myth, believed not because it is true -- "indigenous people" were just as cruel and raped the land just as much as later groups -- but because it is a way of attacking the Western societies and cultures that replaced "indigenous peoples."
Bill Maher: " . . . [in 2003], it was a relatively small number of young Muslim men. Now, thanks to this clash of civilizations we've created, the threat could come from anywhere."
According to Bill Maher and many others on the left, we Americans created this clash of civilizations. Presumably, prior to 2003 the Islamic world was morally similar to Western civilization. This, too, is a dogma of the left: Before our invasion of Iraq, the Muslim world was populated by peaceful young men; violent Islamists were made by America, not by any aspects of Islamic culture and values. Maher should tell that to the Armenians, to the blacks of the Sudan, to the Israelis, to the Algerians who have lost tens of thousands to Islamic terror, and to the others murdered and maimed by young Muslim men prior to America deposing Saddam Hussein. As noted by a Labor member of the British Parliament in the Guardian this past Sunday:
"Ten years ago, in November 1997, 50 Swiss tourists rose early to visit the Valley of the Kings across the Nile from Luxor in Egypt. Suddenly from the hills came a group of Islamists. They shot, disembowelled and decapitated the tourists."
While the American president was Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush. Bill Maher on Republican opposition to radical changes and expenditures to fight carbon emissions:
"I don't understand what any person doesn't get about 'You're going to die too!' I mean, do they have their own air? I could understand that, because they're selfish pr--ks by nature: 'I've got my own air. What do I give a s--t?'"
Another central leftist dogma: Conservatives aren't merely wrong, they're "selfish pr--ks by nature." That's why, as regards manmade global warming leading to catastrophe on Earth, the left doesn't address the challenges posed by many dissenting scientists. The left merely dismisses them as either paid by industry (the Newsweek cover story explanation for all dissent on this issue) or as human beings so selfish by nature that they even deny their own impending deaths.
Princeton Professor Cornel West: " . . . a morally insensitive period from Reagan to the second Bush, when it was fashionable to be indifferent to the suffering of the most vulnerable."
Again, the vileness of conservatives.
Cornel West: "Black folk in America have never been optimistic about the future -- what have we had to be optimistic about?"
No matter how improved the lot of the vast majority of black Americans, leftists like Cornel West continue to argue that there is no reason for a black American to be optimistic. These were entirely typical ideas in the Rolling Stone special edition. Along with the cursing, the picture they paint of the left is not a pretty one.



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

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

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


14 November, 2007

Is there any limit to British police insanity?

Police are neglecting to tackle serious, violent crimes and focusing instead on more minor offences as they strive to meet government targets, the man charged with shaping the future of policing in England and Wales has admitted. Peter Neyroud, chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency, said that over the past five years police had focused on increasing the number of "offences brought to justice". But the former chief constable admitted that this meant that catching a murderer carried no more importance than apprehending someone who had stolen a bottle of milk. "There has been, in the minds of many professionals, me included, a neglect of the serious," Mr Neyroud said. "Because detecting a stolen milk bottle counts the same as detecting a murder . . . you get your points from, not necessarily milk bottles, but certainly in mid-range, volume crime, rather than serious crime."

This is the first time that a senior officer has suggested that the target-driven culture is diverting police from properly investigating more serious crimes. His comments reinforce those of rank-and-file officers at the weekend who said that police were putting more effort into catching burglars than investigating a paedophile ring.

The Government set the criminal justice system the target of bringing 1.25 million offences a year to justice by 2007-08, a figure that has already been exceeded. In the 12 months to June, 1.4 million offences were brought to justice. An offence is considered brought to justice when an offender is cautioned, convicted, had a crime taken into consideration, been given a fixed-penalty notice for disorder or a warning for possessing cannabis.

Mr Neyroud also admitted that the police had failed to improve significantly the detection rate for serious sexual and violent crimes and demanded the development of a national strategy to tackle the increasing number of homicides in England and Wales. Mr Neyroud said in his lecture to the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London, which was sponsored by The Times, that simply getting numbers through the system was not an end in itself. He called for an improvement in the way that police deal with serious violent crimes and sexual attacks. The number of the most serious and violent offences against a person has risen from 14,230 when Labour came to power to a peak of 21,825 in 2003-04 before falling to 19,157 last year. These crimes include murder, manslaughter and causing death by dangerous driving. The number of most serious recorded sexual crimes has also risen from 31,334 in 1997 to 48,700 in 2003-04 before falling to 43,755 last year.

Mr Neyroud said: "For a number of us working in this area, the professional view is that the one area in which we have not improved significantly over the last ten years is raising our level of performance in relation to the most serious crimes." He added: "Levels of detection and levels of performance in that territory have not improved anything like as fast . . . as improvements in detections generally."

Mr Neyroud's call for a sharper focus on dealing with serious crime comes as the Home Office prepares to publish a "violence action plan" aimed at reducing the number of most serious violence, serious sexual offending and domestic violence offences. Ministers are demanding a reduction in the 19,157 serious violent crime offences recorded last year. But they have not set a numerical target for the reduction of serious recorded sex crimes as many go unreported.

Last night Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London, said: "This is a striking intervention from one of the most senior and experienced police officers in the country. "The public would expect the police to make it a priority to deal with serious crimes of violence."

Earlier, David Cameron called for extra help for rape victims and tougher punishment for their attackers as part of a drive to have more rapists sent to jail. Only 5.7 per cent of reported rapes in England and Wales result in a conviction.


It's good for children to hurt themselves at play, says British safety chief

Health and safety "extremists" are preventing children from enjoying normal play and preparing for adult life, the head of an accident prevention charity said yesterday. Suffering from a twisted ankle or skinned knee should be an everyday part of childhood, according to Tom Mullarkey, the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). He said that overzealous bureaucrats were undermining legitimate concerns about health and safety by applying guidance too literally and failing to use common sense.

In his annual report, Mr Mullarkey said: "People have this perception of `elf and safety' as something that restricts your life, rather than helping you to live fully and successfully. "We do not believe in extremist health and safety ideas which would keep children wrapped in cotton wool. "Our argument is that a skinned knee or a twisted ankle in a challenging and exciting play environment is not just acceptable, it is a positive necessity." He said Britain should be made "as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible", adding: "We need to prepare our children for a complex, dangerous world in which healthy, robust activity is more a national need than ever before."

Accidents at home, at work or on the road kill 12,000 people a year, cost an estimated 25 billion pounds, cause hundreds of thousands of serious injuries and lead to millions of visits to accident & emergency departments.

But Mr Mullarkey said RoSPA was working to dispel fears about excessive safety measures, which gave ammunition to those seeking to ridicule health and safety, and could lead to casual indifference to accident prevention. Health and safety rules should be applied sensibly, he said, and not used as an excuse to cancel events or to save money, for example in situations such as the banning of Christmas lights. He said: "There is no reason they cannot be used for health and safety reasons.

"I also heard recently that a swimming pool would be closed for `health and safety reasons' but in fact it was because the roof was falling in, and they did not have the money to fix it. "It is a concern that health and safety is used as an excuse for cost-cut-ting. We think people should climb mountains, and sail boats and have children - we are trying to help them in a practical way."

The charity is calling for an intelligent debate about health and safety issues. Last week Rospa said there should be an expansion of schemes that teach children about risk, so that they would be better prepared for adulthood. Only about 6 per cent of primary school children participate in a scheme called Learning About Safety By Experiencing Risk (LASER). The project uses realistic settings, such as roads or building sites, to stress the importance to children of taking responsibility for their own safety. Of the 12,000 fatalities a year caused by accidents, the charity estimates that 4,000 people die in the home, 3,200 on the road, 240 at work and the rest during travel and leisure activities.


Legal persecution of men

Joan Arehart-Treichel's reports in, "Men Shouldn't Be Overlooked as Victims of Partner Violence," findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding perpetration of partner violence. The 2001 study shows that half of partner violence is reciprocally violent and that more women than men were responsible for instigating nonreciprocal partner violence, 71 percent to 29 percent respectively. The CDC study's lead investigator, Daniel Whitaker, Ph.D., states, "I think the most important is that a great deal of interpersonal violence is reciprocally perpetrated and that when it is reciprocally perpetrated, it is much more likely to result in injury than when perpetrated by only one partner."

The study's conclusion is: "The context of the violence (reciprocal vs nonreciprocal) is a strong predictor of reported injury. Prevention approaches that address the escalation of partner violence may be needed to address reciprocal violence."

The 2001 CDC study concurs with other CDC studies on partner violence and three decades of scholarly studies Despite overwhelming evidence that the majority of domestic violence is reciprocal (mutual in nature, meaning neither party is actingin self-defense) and that men comprise the larger victim group, there is not so much as one cent allocated for service and support for male victims of partner violence. Congress appears to have a sense that men are not entitled to equal protection under the laws they promulgate and further, deserve to be abused, or worse.

Among enforcement actions reported to members of Congress, the use of physical torture to coerce acquiescence to false claims of domestic violence is the most egregious. The term "torture" has sadly become all but a catch phrase in our culture. Because of this, we are required to be brutally specific in describing what we are calling torture today: genital electrocution and hypothermic shock.

Torture victims have described events during their imprisonment where they were stripped naked and doused with cold water, and then "stun-gun/tasers" were applied to their testicles by law enforcement agents. This was repeated until they confessed/agreed to the fraudulent complaint filed against them. The cold water is used to keep them awake during the process. This practice leaves permanent scaring with distinctive patterns that can be forensically verified. Indeed, the type of stun-gun/taser used in the assault can be identified. The residual scaring is the result of the testicular tissue in the current path between stun-gun's prongs being completely cooked.

Other victims report being exposed to cold so extreme it caused them to experience hypothermic shock lasting as long as two days. For some individuals, this has resulted in permanent paralysis and mental deterioration. Once fit, healthy citizens are now disabled Americans solely because they refused to agree to a lie.

In a number of cases, the hypothermic shock resulted in the destruction of the muscles in their pelvic floor. These are the muscles that control your ability to evacuate your bowel (those we "push" with during a bowel movement). These victims must use mechanical means to remove the fecal material from their bowel for the remainder of their lives, or they will die a slow, excruciating death.

Some victims with this type of disability were provided with a medical device which resembles a parfait spoon to dig the material out of their bowel manually. Others are able to use high does of fiber and laxatives and then bounce on the toilet seat, causing the fecal material to be ejected. This process is similar to shaking thick ketchup out of a bottle.

Over 800 cases of the prior listed types of torture have been reported to the victim's representatives in the United States Congress. To date, only two members of Congress have made contact to inquire about these heinous acts against US citizens. One Senator and one Congressman stand alone among the entire US Congress.

Despite these atrocities, members of Congress are preparing to present the "International Violence Against Women" (I-VAWA), which will fund the international deployment of this disastrous system through programs such as the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

There must be serious concerns with a program when the sitting judges in these cases state that the filing of false claims of domestic violence in family court is pervasive. That's without even mentioning the commentary from judges abroad, such as that of the Dean of Barcelona's judges, Maria Sanahuja, who says the current domestic violence laws, ". has provoked a sort of madness in the law that generates abuse, the elimination of the requirement of proof during the legal process, and the absence of the presumption of innocence." She further condemns the domestic violence laws as "characteristic of totalitarian countries" and "a repugnant violation of fundamental rights."

Given the above and the fact that there is not one cent in federal funding to aid male victims of abuse, there are numerous federal offices dealing with the health issues of women and not one for men, and in both of the prior matters men comprise the larger numbers of, we may want to forget about asking Congress for their "sense of" these issues and question whether there is any sense to the construct of the relevant laws.


All religions are not the same

The history of Judeo-Christians is profoundly different than the history of other religious peoples, including religious anti-theists. The religious people of pre-Columbian American Mexico conquered other tribes simply to sacrifice them to Aztec gods. The religious people of Imperial Japan committed unspeakable crimes against the Chinese in following their national religion. The religious Nazis, who loathed passionately both Christianity and Judaism, committed unspeakable crimes against Jews, Poles and others. The religious anti-theists of Stalinist Russia and Maoist China murdered more than any other religion in history. And, of course, radical Islam murders indiscriminately.

No crimes of Judeo-Christians remotely approaches the holocausts of Aztecs, Japanese, Nazis, atheist Russia or atheist Japan. Why? Because all religions are not the same. Some religions are good and some religions are bad. Almost every single movement or belief which we now consider good originated in Christianity or Judaism. Abolitionism, prison reform, compassion for animals, equality before the law, medical science, systematic intellectual inquiry - nearly everything - traces back to a Christian or a Jew.

If the anti-theists want to pick on Christians and Jews (and that does seem to be the real thrust of militant atheism) for sometimes acting badly, it is imperative to note that both Christianity and Judaism accept the notion of sin. Both faiths believe that we all morally fail sometimes and both faiths have a religious process for repentance and renewal, which allows us to live moral lives, even if all lives are imperfect. Does this work? Again, the history of Jews and Christians is a testament that serious faith produces, quite simply, the best people on earth.

What of the new god, Science? One of the most compelling facts of science is that it debunks itself. Maxwell, one of the the greatest physicists in history (and a devout Christian), worked out the equations in the 1860s which postulated that the speed of light is finite. Michaelson and Morley decades later calculated the speed of light at 186,000 miles per second. God created an absolute bar to what we can ever know about reality that is 187,000 miles away from us at the moment of our birth and is traveling at the speed of light away from us. This is not a theoretical bar: it is an absolute, irrevocable bar.

At the subatomic level, we can never predict exactly what will happen. The Uncertainty Principle, which has been loitering inconveniently around the science of Quantum Physics for about eighty years, still rules. Quantum Mechanics always allows for an excellent statistical expectation of what will happen at the subatomic level, but it never allows certainty. God has created another absolute bar to human knowledge.

One might think that those who worship science would wake up. Knowing much beyond what we already know about the universe is increasingly improbable. No serious person today can think that material benefits will make us happier - not in a society in which the greatest health problem is obesity and the greatest emotional problem is boredom.

And how do we sate our boredom? Increasingly, our entertainment is horrific and perverse. Our obsession with violence, promiscuous sex and dangerous drugs is as obvious as the cure to those sicknesses: God. Without God, we cannot even imagine anything good (if you doubt that, try to imagine Heaven.) Those who reject God suffer from the Godless Delusion.



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

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

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


13 November, 2007

Who are the real open-minded?

Greg Michaelson, a student at the University of Alabama, comments on hate speech directed at him because of his conservative views

I'd like to give a shout out to the founder and the several hundred members of the week old Facebook group called "Greg Michaelson is a load of S---." Apparently, there is an increasingly shrill group of students at the University who thinks I'm a load of s---. Why? Because I use "hate speech." No. The irony is not lost on me.

The group was apparently founded last week after someone read my column about non-discrimination. These people who accuse me of using hate speech have some very constructive points to make. For instance, they said I am so ugly that I could never understand the love that two gay people can share. They said I write like a barely literate middle schooler, whoring himself out for attention. About half a dozen went so far as to wish that my children grow up to be gay just to teach me a lesson.

Now, being a younger brother and being rather opinionated, I have developed a fairly thick skin. I don't bring these things up for any other reason than to ask two questions.

First, I'd like to know what in the world hate speech is. Obviously, I don't know. Last week's editorial was my opinion of what a non-discrimination policy should cover. I never said that homosexuals should be discriminated against.

I just said that the policy shouldn't include every conceivable group of people.

I never said that I disapprove of homosexuality. I didn't attack any particular homosexual. I didn't even imply that homosexuality is immoral.

There was nothing even remotely hateful about my argument.

Then came the onslaught. All of the open-minded, good-natured gays and liberals lashed out with all kinds of attacks.

They attacked Christians - though in none of my columns have I ever mentioned being a Christian. They attacked conservatives. They attacked my family. They even threatened violence against me.

Even now, as some read this, they think, "Now you know what it's like - so there."

But again, they have misunderstood. I'm not complaining about the personal and hateful attacks and threats leveled against me. I'm not complaining about the hypocrisy so evident in their own hate speech.

I just want to know what happened to tolerance. This whole argument started (perhaps) as a group of homosexuals wanting to be tolerated. I am more than willing to tolerate them. It seems, though, that the only people deserving of tolerance are those who agree with the liberal, humanist agenda.

If you believe, for instance, that there are moral absolutes that should be applied to all people at all times, then you don't deserve tolerance. In that case, you deserve hate speech.

If you argue - with the vast majority of the people in the United States - that marriage should be between a man and a woman, then you don't deserve tolerance. You deserve to be threatened.

If you stand on your own merit and think that other people should be asked to stand on their own merit - instead of appealing to reverse discrimination programs like affirmative action - then you don't deserve tolerance. You deserve to be called a racist.

If you think that human life is valuable whether it's within the uterus or not, then you don't deserve tolerance. You deserve to be accused of hating women and being closed-minded.

I think it's about time that someone pulled back the veil on all the supposedly open-minded and compassionate liberals. Their compassion extends only to those who share their opinion, and their open-mindedness only to those who are just like them.

Thanks to all those who showed their support through e-mails and kind words this week. I realize that those attacking me represent a small but noisy sub-minority on our campus, and I appreciate the true open-mindedness that I have seen during my time here.

It really has been eye opening to see the rotten underbelly of the "virtuous" left. God help us if former President Hilary Clinton gets control of our nation.

P.S. Last time I checked, the first amendment still protects hate speech. So, please continue with your "Greg Michaelson is a load of S---" page. I, for one, still believe in the Constitution of the United States of America.


The New Heresies

In today's You Can't Say That culture, it's those with reactionary views on race or religion who are censored. But fighting for free speech still matters

Just last week, David Cameron, leader of the UK Conservative Party, won praise for saying that he wants an open `grown-up' debate about immigration and how to control it. Then a Conservative candidate suggested that Enoch Powell was right to warn in 1968 about the impact of mass immigration, and the party leadership (with the other main parties behind it) forced him to resign for his `unwise' and `insensitive' language. In other words: `We want honesty and grown-up politics, but You Can't Say That.'

Last month, Dr James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, was supposed to give a talk at the Science Museum. Then he gave an interview to The Sunday Times, in which he suggested that there was a racial basis to intelligence, and the museum cancelled the event. Its statement claimed that the museum `does not shy away from debating controversial topics', but insisted that Watson `has gone beyond the point of reasonable debate'. In other words: `We welcome controversy and scientific debate, but You Can't Say That.'

To some of us - even some of us who support open borders - the consensus within the political class that wants to close down debate on an issue like immigration is far more dangerous than the reactionary views of a wannabe Tory MP. As I have written elsewhere on the Nigel Hastilow controversy this week, `Enoch Powell was not right about immigration. But it is wrong to hound out a Conservative candidate for suggesting that he was.' (See A grown-up debate? Not with childish censorship by Mick Hume.) In a similar vein, some of us - including some of us who have campaigned against racism for years - find the fact that a leading liberal-minded scientific institution can seek to place a limit on `reasonable debate' far more worrying than the crankish views of one 79-year-old scientist.

These are just two recent examples of the You Can't Say That culture today, an increasing tendency to try to circumscribe debate sometimes by formal bans, more often by informal pressure. From immigration to global warming, the attitude from the mainstream appears to be not to question or criticise those with unconventional views, but simply to silence them.

I recently discussed these issues at the Battle of Ideas conference, in a session entitled `The new heresies'. The other panellists were Alexander Cockburn, the US-based left-wing commentator and editor of Counterpunch, and Arthur Versluis, author of The New Inquisitions: Heretic-Hunting and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Totalitarianism. Some might think it a little far-fetched to talk of heresies and inquisitions; after all, there is no torture involved. It is important to be sober about these issues and to leave the shrillness to the hysterical witch-hunters. But the `heresy model' may be useful in understanding how far things have changed.

A heretic is not a self-defined political label, akin to declaring yourself a socialist or a green. Instead, heresy is always defined in opposition to the prevailing orthodoxy. The words themselves come from an early Christian leader who defined his own views as orthodox, from the Greek for `right belief', and those of his opponents as heresy, from the Greek for `choice of belief'. The one thing that got you branded a heretic was a desire to choose your own beliefs and dissent from the authoritative dogma. In that sense, it seems fair to talk about new heresies today.

The fact that heresies are defined in this way means that what is deemed heretical changes historically as the orthodoxy alters. We all know that yesterday's heresies can become today's accepted truths, in everything from science to social attitudes. Now, however, we can see another process at work: yesterday's orthodoxies are being redefined as today's heresies. This is obvious, for example, in relation to race, as illustrated above, where attitudes of racial superiority or inferiority that would once have been deemed the norm are now considered completely beyond the pale. Perhaps an even more powerful example is the way that religion itself, particularly Christianity, can now be treated as heretical in British society.

Thus where the church once laid down the law on what was sinful, Christian fundamentalists can now find themselves threatened with prosecution for expressing the opinion that homosexuality is a sin. And where religious authorities once persecuted scientists such as Galileo and fought to keep secular values out of universities, it is now reported that Christian colleges in Oxford have been threatened with the loss of their university status because the education they offer is not `inclusive' enough - that is, they're too Christian.

The flipside of this is that, as previously discussed on spiked, science now often assumes the status of orthodoxy. In one sense it is, of course, good news that science has overcome much of the old superstition and established its credentials as a foundation of a civilised modern society. However, things have now moved beyond that to the point where `The Science' on an issue such as global warming can be used to try to declare the debate closed, and to describe critical views as heretical or even as the lies of `deniers'. You do not need to be a climatologist to see that this deference to The Science as an orthodox dogma has little in common with the scientific traditions of sceptical inquiry, testing and debate.

What particularly angers an old Marxist like me is the leading role played by the left and the liberal establishment in treating ideas as new heresies. As I suggested during the Battle of Ideas debate, some might think we need not worry too much about the silencing of reactionary views. Perhaps we should just say, after Woody Allen in Annie Hall, yes, I'm a bigot, but for the left?

No. I have no time for racial thinking or religion in any form. But we need to remember that freedom is indivisible, and that `free speech' is not the same thing as `me speech'. The precious right to be offensive must involve the right of others to offend our beliefs, too. Free speech and open argument is the way to test and clarify ideas and to get closest to the truth. By contrast, turning ideas of which the mainstream disapproves into heresies means closing down debate and closing minds.

Let's be clear why it is that the left and liberals often want to treat their opponents as heretics to be silenced. The You Can't Say That culture is not a product of their strength and authority, as with the orthodoxies of the past. On the contrary, it reflects the extent to which they have suffered an acute loss of nerve. They do not trust their own arguments. And they do not trust us.

The fact that those preaching today's orthodoxies do not trust their own arguments becomes evident when one looks at what they are up against. To talk of heresies and inquisitions today might give these issues a rather grand, historic image. In reality, however, even relatively feeble opponents can now be damned by the insecure supporters of orthodoxy. The few critics of `The Science' of global warming are generally not Galileo-type geniuses. The reality TV clowns who are made public examples of for daring to use words deemed racist or homophobic represent no movement in society. Yet they have to be stamped upon by the policemen of the You Can't Say That culture.

Why? Above all, it is because the left and the liberal establishment do not trust us. UK government minister David Lammy, considered a rising black star of New Labour, gave the game away when he said that Dr Watson's views on race and intelligence should be suppressed because `they will only succeed in providing oxygen for the BNP'. At first this seemed a strange thing to say; was the minister suggesting there was a British National Party cell operating in the Science Museum? But no, what he meant was that if the public got to hear of a respectable scientist giving a talk about race and intelligence, it could press our (genetically programmed?) racist button and start a pogrom. By the same token, the insecure authorities and their supporters want to declare the debate on global warming closed because they fear that if people were allowed to hear any deviation from the orthodoxy we might be even less willing to do as we are told and change our behaviour.

The problem here is not just government ministers and the state. We are not dealing with jackboot censorship - as indicated by our freedom to publish spiked, and the frequent appearances of spiked's non-conformist writers elsewhere. It is more often a sort of informal inquisition, where a mood of You Can't Say That emerges from below. Indeed, the self-righteous political activists and crusaders - particularly, it seems, the younger ones - are often the most militant wing of the new orthodoxies. Thus it is green activists who have called for `climate change denial' to be made a crime, while black activists demanded that Watson be sacked for expressing his Jurassic opinion on race and intelligence.

The spinelessness of the liberal intelligentsia ensures that, once such a wave of opinion has started to rise, they allow themselves to be swept away. Just a few days before the Battle of Ideas, an event called the Festival of Ideas was held in Bristol (I wonder where they got that idea from?) and James Watson was due to speak. When the Science Museum cancelled his talk, a spokesman for the vice-chancellor of Bristol University (who was chairing, but not organising the festival) said that they still wanted Watson to come to Bristol because the university respected `the right of people to express their views. But we would also expect there to be some robust questioning of Dr Watson on his ideas'. That seemed the right response. Within a couple of days, however, as the pitch of the protests rose, the organisers of the Bristol event had caved in and cancelled the talk. Andrew Kelly of the Festival of Ideas announced that, `While we are a festival that encourages debate, it is clear that James Watson's opinions were unacceptably provocative'. In other words, `We want debate, but You Can't Say That'. Nothing had happened in between times; Watson had said nothing more other than to apologise `unreservedly' for causing offence. But the notion that he was a heretic had simply become accepted, so he had to go.

We can see these trends in context, as the latest form of the free speech debate. And the British left has long had a terrible record on that issue. Twenty-five years ago, when I was at university, the left championed a policy of `No platform' for fascists - a label which they often extended to include Thatcherite Tories. Now that attitude has advanced from the student union to the centre of public life.

Some of us always opposed those policies and stood up for free speech. Not because we believed in rights for racists and reactionaries - but because we believed in the right of the public to listen and judge for themselves, to make our own `choice of belief', whether considered heretical or not. When I was the editor of Living Marxism magazine, a sort-of forerunner of spiked, our slogan was `Question Everything - Ban Nothing'. That was considered somewhat heretical then, and is more so now. All the more reason to stand up for the principle, to help keep free speech and free thinking alive.

One new problem today is that so few people in the UK are prepared to stand up for free speech unconditionally, even in the world of academia and education. As Professor Frank Furedi pointed out in the heresies debate at the Battle of Ideas, the same academics who will protest loudest about the exclusion of a pro-Palestinian speaker are often the first ones to sign up to a boycott of Israeli academics, seemingly without ever noticing the contradiction in their stance.

What we need instead is to inculcate an attitude of genuine tolerance. That ought to mean broadmindedness, and allowing the expression of opinions that you despise. Today, however, those demanding `tolerance' often seem to mean the opposite: an unwillingness to tolerate any view that impinges on the orthodoxy. Thus, in the name of tolerance, we are told that nobody can express `intolerant' views of, say, Islam or homosexuality. As I have argued before on spiked, ours is an age of `intolerant tolerance'.

Genuine tolerance does not mean allowing views you despise to go unchallenged. It ought to involve fierce debate and a ruthless hammering of reactionary opinions of every stripe. It ought to mean, as Voltaire wrote in his Essay on Tolerance, `Think for yourselves, and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so, too'. In place of a closed culture of heresies and You Can't Say That, we need an open-minded attitude of You Can Say That - so long as I can then say that you are talking out of your backside.


Endangered jokes in Britain

The right to crack jokes or be rude about homosexuals could fall victim to new government laws to stamp out "homophobic" behaviour, Rowan Atkinson, the Blackadder star warned yesterday. Atkinson, who mounted a successful campaign in 2004 to water down legislation aimed at criminalising expressions of religious hatred, has returned to the fray to defend the art of gay leg-pulling.

His concern is that Labour ministers are so obsessed with creating laws to stop people being rude about each other that they are putting in danger the right to free speech and, equally dear to his heart, the comedian's craft. In a letter to a newspaper he accused ministers of filling their legislative programme with measures that have "serious implications for freedom of speech, humour and creative expression". Atkinson was referring to measures in the Criminal Justice Bill, currently passing through Parliament, which could mean people who stir up hatred against homosexuals being put in prison for up to seven years.

He said the Government measures, which could be expanded to cover hatred against disabled or transgendered people, seemed to be "infinitely extendable". "Witness the fact that the Government has invited two additional groups - the disabled and transsexuals - to 'make the case' for the proposed legislation to be extended to them. "I am sure that they could make a very good case, as indeed could all those who can claim that they cannot help being the way they are. Men, for example, or women. Or people with big ears."

Atkinson added: "The devil, as always, will be in the detail but the casual ease which some people move from finding something offensive to wishing to declare it criminal - and are then able to find factions within government to aid their ambitions - is truly depressing."

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, has told MPs that such fears are unfounded because he will shortly introduce an amendment to the Bill ensuring that cases can be pursued only when the offending words are specifically intended to pose a threat and are not merely humorous, mocking or abusive. As with an eventual compromise deal struck over the Religious Hatred Bill, there will also be a specific clause to protect the right to freedom of speech. Ministers have firmly dismissed as unfounded claims that playground insults or jokes about gays could be caught by the new offence.

Last night Chris Bryant, the openly gay Labour MP, said Mr Atkinson should relax because the right to make jokes about gays would remain. "I think it is perfectly possible to create a distinction in law between incitement to hatred and having a laugh," he said. Lord Lester, the Liberal Democrat peer who helped draft the compromise wording on the religious hatred law, said it was clear that "politically incorrect jokes at the expense of gay people" should not be banned.


A summary of recent European cringing

By Dan Mandel

In September, I outlined in a piece in the Weekly Standard the pattern of pre-emptive appeasement of Muslim supremacists that has formed in Europe. The pattern consists of discarding rights and traditions or failing to assert their exercise if Muslim extremists object.

As I argued then, this pattern emerged in confluence with some salient instances of violence - the 2004 murder of Theo Van Gogh following the release of his film on the travails of Muslim women; the 2005 riots following the Danish Muhammad cartoons; and the 2006 killings that followed Pope Benedikt's speech quoting critical comments on Islam by a 14th century Byzantine emperor. The last two months alone have furnished new occurrences that add to the pattern.

First, the September 11 rally against the Islamisation of Europe that Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans chose not to authorize at the time proceeded, with the result that 154 people were arrested, including Italian EU parliamentarian, Italian Northern League member Mario Borghezio. Borghezio challenged the banning of the demonstration, "It doesn't seem normal to me that on the 11th of September, in a European capital, a demonstration involving European parliamentarians, against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, can be banned."

Then, in October, the Netherlands government abruptly revoked security protection provided to one of its prominent citizens: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch-Somali politician and writer, who has been obliged to live under police protection since 2002 following death threats inspired by her outspokenness on the mistreatment of women in the Muslim community and on her own secularism. (Ali also wrote the script to the film for which Van Gogh paid with his life). Already last year, however, rather than resolutely defending Ali, the government tried to revoke her citizenship while her own neighbours sought her eviction on the ground that their human rights were endangered by Ali's continued presence. Neither civic solidarity nor the law in the Netherlands seems adequate to the task of protecting the life and free speech of one of its prominent human rights activists, who has since made America her home.

The same month in Britain, the Conservative Muslim Forum, a body set up by Tory leader David Cameron to advise the party on Muslim affairs issued a report specifically repudiating Cameron's affirmation that Jews have a right to inhabit and defend a homeland and country embodied in the state of Israel; defended Iran's efforts to seek nuclear weapons and repudiated any association of Muslim terrorism with Islam. What influence this report exerts over the Opposition's policies remains to be seen.

Later that same month, Muslim inmates in a high security British prison launched a lawsuit seeking millions in damages for having been mistakenly issued with a prison menu offering ham sandwiches. Again, it remains to be seen how the British courts deal with it.

Around the same time, a leaked report by the Labour think tank, Public Policy Research, recommended that Christmas be downgraded in favour of festivals from other religions to improve race relations. Stated a shell-shocked Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative spokesman on community cohesion, "[the report's] comments betray a breathtaking misunderstanding of what it is to be British. These proposals could actually damage cohesion. You don't build community cohesion by throwing out our history and denying the fundamental contribution Christianity has played and does play to our nation. As a British Muslim I can see that - so why others can't just staggers me."



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

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

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


12 November, 2007

Racist housing body in Maryland

Two members of a county housing commission have resigned after applicants to fill vacant slots on the panel were rejected by a county administrator because they are not minorities. Roger D. Luchs sent his resignation to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) on Oct. 16, followed by William ``Bill" Witham, whose resignation was sent Tuesday. Both men, former members of the county's Landlord-Tenant Commission, cited their concerns over discrimination in filling the positions by the county's housing director, Richard Y. Nelson Jr.

The 15-member Landlord-tenant Commission, composed of volunteers, hears and settles disputes between landlords and tenants when the cases cannot be resolved by the county's Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs. Following an October commission meeting, a panel of commissioners involved in interviewing three applicants for vacant seats was notified that an internal memo, dated Oct. 1, from Nelson to the Landlord?Tenant Office and one of Leggett's special assistants said the applicants - two women and one man - were unacceptable because of their race. All three are white.

``It's wrong on a couple of levels," said Witham. ``First, you're circumventing the commission's authority. Why send candidates to us if the director has the power to throw them out? We're supposed to be a color-blind county, and this slaps of blatant discrimination." Witham said he has raised his concerns with County Council members and members of Leggett's staff. ``But it seems to be falling on deaf ears," he said. ``I think it's a problem that needs to be addressed and not brushed under the rug."

But what Luchs and Witham call discrimination, Nelson said, is the administration's goal of more diversity. ``This is clearly one commission in which we've been trying to broaden the pool of candidates," Nelson told The Gazette. On Tuesday, Nelson released the Oct. 1 memo. ``Six candidates submitted applications and I have received some recommendations from the nominating committee," Nelson writes. ``However, I am unwilling to forward those recommendations to the County Executive. If these candidates were appointed, it would result in the commission having five tenants, all white. I feel that Montgomery County needs to have minority representation, generally, on the Commission, but particularly minority tenant representatives."

The commission's 15 members are separated into three categories: landlord, tenant and at-large members who are neither landlords nor tenants. Each group has four members and an alternate. In the landlord category, there is one white man, two white women and a black woman. Luchs' resignation leaves a vacancy there. In the tenant category, there are two while women; a black woman who left the county was replaced by a white woman. There are two openings for tenants. In the at-large category there are a Hispanic woman, a black man and a black woman and a white woman. Witham's resignation leaves a vacancy.

Nelson said the Oct. 1 memo does not say the candidates were rejected - noting that one of the original candidates has since been chosen to fill a vacancy - but that the group was not diverse. ``I work for Mr. Leggett, and he has stated that this is an objective of his to open all portions of county government to as many different ethnic groups as we can," Nelson said. Nelson said he did not consult Leggett or his aides before distributing the memo.

Asked about the resignations and the commissioners' concerns, Leggett said, ``My general overall philosophy has been for diversity in county government, especially in this area on this particular commission where there is a disproportionate number of minority renters in the county." Nelson said his office does not keep track of the racial makeup of the county's renters.

On Tuesday afternoon, Michael Denney, administrator of the Landlord-Tenant Affairs Office, confirmed both resignation letters. Denney, a liaison between the office and the commission, said he was unaware at the time that some of the applicants had been rejected. ``I think one part of things was the lack of communication between the director and the commission. There was a lack of communication about what direction the administration was going for the commission was not fully relayed to the commission members," he said.

After applying for the commission through the executive's office, applicants are screened, then recommended for appointment by the executive. The candidates interview with a panel of existing commissioners who forward their recommendations to Denney, who relays them to Nelson. After Nelson, the applicants' names are sent back to Leggett, who forwards them to the County Council for final approval. Luchs, an attorney practicing in Washington, spent almost eight years on the commission. Witham was in his first term on the commission.


Red, green lights to be banned?

Committee proposal says colored Christmas twinklers too religious

A special task force in a Colorado city has recommended banning red and green lights at the Christmas holiday because they fall among the items that are too religious for the city to sponsor. "Some symbols, even though the Supreme Court has declared that in many contexts they are secular symbols, often still send a message to some members of the community that they and their traditions are not valued and not wanted. We don't want to send that message," Seth Anthony, a spokesman for the committee, told the Fort Collins, Colo., Coloradoan. He said the recommended language does not specifically address Christmas trees by name, but the consensus was that they would not fall within acceptable decorations.

What will be allowed are white lights and "secular" symbols not associated "with any particular holiday" such as icicles, unadorned greenery and snowflakes, the task force said.

The group was made up of members of the city's business and religious communities as well as representatives from some community groups. Members met for months to review the existing holiday display policy, which allowed white as well as multi-colored lights and wreaths and garlands. In previous years, there also was a Christmas tree at the city's Oak Street Plaza. A vote on the proposal will be coming up before the city council on Nov. 20, officials said. "As far as I'm concerned, the group ended up in a very fair place in which primarily secular symbols will be used on city property," task force member Saul Hopper told the newspaper.

Anthony told WND that there actually would be colored lights allowed. "Colored lights would be allowed as part of holiday display inside city buildings, and as part of the multicultural display at the museum. Our recommendations allow wide latitude as far as what can be included in those displays, which are the displays the public sees and interacts with the most," he said.

However, a copy of the actual proposal said for city building exteriors, "white lights" are allowed, and for city building interior common areas, such as lobbies, hallways and conference rooms, administrators should follow the guidelines that include allowances for "snowflakes, snowmen, snow balls, ice skates, skies, penguins, polar bears, white lights, etc." The new guidelines include no provision for colored lights. The existing holiday display rules were adopted in 2006 after a rabbi requested that the city display a menorah.

The only apparent exception to the completely secular rule would be at the Fort Collins Museum, where a "multicultural display" of symbols and objects would be collected to represent Diwali, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas among others.

"I expect criticism from people who feel like we are taking Christmas away. And I expect we will get criticism from people who think educational display endorses religions," Anthony said. "(But) to the extent we can, recognizing that offending no one will be impossible, we want to be inclusive." City officials touted their own efforts. "I am really delighted to see us taking this step," Mayor Doug Hutchinson said when the task force was being assembled. "I think Fort Collins is a great city, and I think great cities are inclusionary."

In a forum for the Coloradoan, outrage was pretty evident. "Let's spend our CHRISTMAS money somewhere that believes in CHRISTMAS!" wrote barbie333. "Where does the 'PC-ization' stop? Maybe if the town leaders realize that we do not live in Boulder (or California)!?" Added "Stick," "No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, he is dead from lack of political correctness and the elves have all been sent to China to make toys." "Seth Anthony says, 'Some symbols, even though the Supreme Court has declared that in many contexts they are secular symbols, often still send a message to some members of the community that they and their traditions are not valued and not wanted. We don't want to send that message.' Guess what, Seth? That's EXACTLY the message you sent me!" added "notpc." "If the city council decided to not acknowledge Christmas on public grounds this year then all city offices should be open for business on Dec. 25th, white lights shining! Don't want to offend anyone by stopping city business for a day to celebrate a holiday not everyone believes in," added Amidon.


The Reclamation of Skid Row

Drive around Los Angeles's Skid Row with Commander Andrew Smith and you can barely go a block without someone's congratulating him on his recent promotion. Such enthusiasm is certainly in order. Over the last year, this tall, high-spirited policeman has achieved what for a long while seemed impossible: a radical reduction of Skid Row's anarchy. What is surprising about Smith's popularity, however, is that his fans are street-wizened drug addicts, alcoholics, and mentally ill vagrants. And in that fact lies a resounding refutation of the untruths that the American Civil Liberties Union and the rest of the homeless industry have used to keep Skid Row in chaos--until now.

For 25 years, the advocates used lawsuits and antipolice propaganda to beat back every effort to restore sanity to Skid Row. They concealed the real causes of homelessness under a false narrative about a callous, profit-mad society that abused the less fortunate. The result: a level of squalor that had no counterpart in the United States. Smith's policing initiatives--grounded in the Broken Windows theory of order maintenance--ended that experiment in engineered anarchy, saving more lives in ten months than most homeless advocates have helped over their careers. The forces of lawlessness are regrouping, however, and Smith's successes may wind up reversed in a renewed attack on the police.

Before Smith's Safer City Initiative began in September 2006, Skid Row's 50 blocks had reached a level of depravity that stunned even longtime observers. Encampments composed of tents and cardboard boxes covered practically every inch of sidewalk. Their 1,500 or so occupants, stretched out in lawn chairs or sprawled on the pavement, injected heroin and smoked crack and marijuana in plain view, day and night. Feces, urine, and drug-resistant bacteria coated the ground. Even drug addicts were amazed at the scene. Fifty-year-old Vicki Williams arrived from Las Vegas in December 2005 with a heavy habit. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing: people getting high on the streets like it was legal," she says. "Down here was like a world of its own. Anything you can imagine I've seen: women walking down the street buck naked, people stabbed in front of me."

The human chaos hid entrenched criminal networks. The biggest heroin gang in downtown Los Angeles operated from the area's west end, using illegal aliens to peddle dope supplied by the Mexican Mafia. Able-bodied dealers sold drugs from wheelchairs and from tents color-coded to signal the wares within. Young Bloods and Crips from Watts's housing projects battled over drug turf and amused themselves by robbing the elderly....

This lawlessness hurt Skid Row's law-abiding residents the most. The area's century-old residential hotels and missions house thousands of senior citizens, non-drug-abusing mentally ill persons, and addicts trying to turn their lives around. "The people we serve are very vulnerable," says Anita Nelson, director of a government-funded nonprofit that rehabilitates and manages single-room-occupancy hotels (SROs). "The elderly and the mentally ill were victimized by the crime and the dealers. When you're afraid to go into the park, you're a prisoner in your 120-square-foot unit." Temptation confronted recovering addicts every time they stepped outside.

With formal controls on behavior almost completely absent, the last vestiges of civility broke down. In 2005, young volunteers for the Union Rescue Mission set out to deliver 4,000 boxes of Christmas food to every SRO in the area. As they tried to navigate the streets, encampment residents cursed them, hurled racial taunts, and mockingly defecated in front of them. The area's intrepid businesses faced constant assault. "We had to fortify the buildings with razor wire and barricade ourselves in," a shrimp processor recalls. "The homeless would take or steal anything." His roll-up door, constantly exposed to bodily fluids, rotted away. In September 2006, the owner of one of the district's landmark businesses, ABC Toys, caught a typical moment on film: a mail carrier reaches through the store's gate to drop off letters, when she notices that the man at her feet is shooting heroin into a prominent vein. She flees in dismay without leaving the mail.

This ugly scene was not the by-product of economic dislocations or of social upheaval; it was the consequence of a destructive ideology that turned a seedy neighborhood for the down-and-out into a hell. Skid Row began as a vital accessory to what was once Los Angeles's thriving heart, decades before the automobile spread the city across hundreds of square miles to the mountains and ocean. Farmland surrounded what is now downtown, requiring workers for the fields, for the adjacent factories that processed the produce, and for the railroad that shipped it out. Skid Row's cheap hotels, saloons, and theaters catered to these transient single males.

Though this low-rent district was located just a few blocks from the elegantly sculpted banks and office buildings of Spring Street and Broadway, the two worlds coexisted in relative peace because public order was maintained. Over the course of the twentieth century, Skid Row's population became older and more disabled by alcoholism, as industrial and agricultural jobs moved elsewhere. The local missions tried to reclaim lives lost to drink, offering a free meal in exchange for attendance at a sermon, but their success rate was never particularly high. Alcoholics congregated on the street in bottle gangs--a group of drinkers who pooled their nickels for booze. Still, if one collapsed at a business's front door, he stood a good chance of getting picked up by the police for public inebriation.

But in the 1960s, laws against public intoxication, vagrancy, and loitering came under attack in court and in the press, and by the 1980s, the enforcement of such public-order statutes had all but ceased. In 1975, approximately 50,000 arrests took place in Los Angeles for public intoxication, more than half of those on Skid Row; in 1985, the entire city generated only 4,000 such arrests. This enforcement halt was not the humanitarian advance that its architects claimed, says Clancy Imislund, the former director of Skid Row's Midnight Mission and an ex-Skid Row alcoholic himself. "The police picked up street drunks for their own protection," he notes. "Sometimes they sent them to a farm north of L.A. for six months. By the 1970s, however, the police started leaving them lying there, where gangs took their money and beat the hell out of them." A 1971 federal law tried to substitute rehabilitation for the policing cycle, but the success rate of federally funded alcoholism services wasn't noticeably better than that of the jails, according to sociologist Ronald Miller.

One further change in the legal landscape paved the way for the chaos that would engulf Skid Row by the century's end. Inspired partly by the then-fashionable belief that mental illness was an artificial construct for oppressing nonconformists, California passed landmark legislation in 1967 that virtually ended the involuntary commitment of the mentally ill. A decade later, hospital professionals were noticing with alarm that patients whom they had no power to hold for long-term treatment were cycling between the streets, jails, and short-term mental wards. By the early 1980s, a new Skid Row population had emerged: drug addicts, overwhelmingly black, often mentally ill, who camped out on the streets. The era of the "homeless" had begun....

In 1999, the doyenne of downtown homeless agitators, Alice Callaghan, picketed the opening of a Skid Row drop-in center providing people with showers, a place to sit or lie down, and various services that would start them on the path to rehabilitation. Callaghan, an ex-nun and ordained Episcopal priest, likened the 24-hour facility to an "internment camp." The problem? A drop-in center reinforces the idea that "anyone still on the street is on the street by choice and not because of a lack of options," she told Mother Jones magazine in 2001. "The language of rehab and programs and community is the velvet glove on a puritanical and punitive fist," she added.

When Police Chief William Bratton took control of the LAPD in late 2002, vowing to clean crime out of Skid Row through the application of Broken Windows policing, the ACLU launched a litigation war to stop him. For the advocates, the stakes had never been higher. A few developers had started converting empty office buildings in adjacent areas of downtown to lofts; the activists seized on this revitalization of Los Angeles's historic core as proof that the evil capitalists were seeking to afflict the poor. In March 2003, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the department's efforts to track down the hundreds of violent parole violators and absconders in Skid Row encampments who were driving up violent crime. And in an even more ambitious lawsuit, Jones v. City of Los Angeles, the ACLU charged that application of the city's ordinance against sleeping or lying on the sidewalk violated the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The majority of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel agreed in April 2006, and the police halted their mostly desultory efforts to enforce the sidewalk law. The ACLU handed out leaflets on the Jones decision to encampment residents, some of whom waved them tauntingly in police officers' faces. Skid Row got worse than anyone could have imagined.

Enter Andrew Smith. He had become captain of Central Division, the police jurisdiction responsible for Skid Row, in April 2005, determined to "change the culture of chaos," as he put it. Smith had no doubt that the anarchy did not represent an unavoidable consequence of poverty, as the advocates alleged. "People were here because they chose not to conform to ordinary standards of behavior and the laws of the land," he says.

Smith's ambitions required a lot of additional officers. The area represented the "granddaddy of all order maintenance problems," says Chief Bratton. The department's perennial manpower shortage, however, as well as the ongoing litigation over police power, forced Smith to put his plans on hold. Instead, he organized a demonstration project for Main Street, where a homeless colony was strangling a nascent commercial and residential rebirth. Smith assigned existing officers to foot beats, put up security cameras, and started enforcing the narcotics laws and, to a very limited extent, the ordinance against sleeping on the sidewalk. The encampments disappeared; legitimate street life arose in its place.

Much more here

Australia: Law 'turns boys into rapists'

TOUGH new rape laws which make it clear being drunk does not constitute consent have been condemned by barristers, who insist: "It will turn our sons into criminals." The NSW Bar Associations reckons the "No means no" law goes too far and will lobby Upper House members to vote against it when it is up for debate next week. The law will define the meaning of consent for the first time, making it clear that being drunk or under the influence of drugs does not mean consent has been given. It will also introduce an "objective fault test", meaning a man can no longer use the defence that he thought he had consent if the circumstances appear unreasonable.

"It will turn our sons into criminals," new Bar Association president Anna Katzmann SC said yesterday. "For years women have been insisting 'No' means 'No'. What troubles us about this new legislation is that it introduces a new regime where 'Yes' may mean 'No'." Ms Katzmann gave the example of a woman on a first date who might not want to have sex but after both she and the man had drunk too much said "Yes". The next day she feels guilty and tells her mother, who goes to the police. "That would be rape under the new laws," Ms Katzmann said. "The fact that he was drunk cannot be taken into account. The fact that she was drunk is no excuse for him.

Chair of the Bar Association's criminal law committee Stephen Odgers SC said the law made sexual assault a crime of negligence. "The stupid, the negligent, the intoxicated, the crazy will be treated as if they are the same as the true rapist, who knows there is no consent to sexual intercourse," Mr Odgers said.

Opposition attorney general, former Crown prosecutor Greg Smith, said the Attorney-General John Hatzistergos needed to spell out the law better. Mr Hatzistergos said the introduction of an objective fault test was canvassed during the State Government's exhaustive consultation process and had wide support, including police and the Rape Crisis Centre. "Although Mr Odgers might like to draw a distinction between the stupid or drunk rapist and normal rapists, for rape victims they're categories that don't matter," he said.

"If a person is drunk it does not automatically mean that consent can't be given. What it means is that the onus is on the other person, usually a man, to show he had reasonable grounds to believe the woman had consented. "It's difficult to take the Bar Association seriously on this matter when, in their own submission, they concluded that just because a woman was asleep or unconscious (it) doesn't negate consent." Earlier this year The Daily Telegraph launched the Justice For Women Now campaign to give sexual assault victims equal justice and to encourage more women to report assaults



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

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

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


11 November, 2007

British Hairdresser sued for refusing to hire Muslim woman in a headscarf

The owner of a hair salon is being sued for religious discrimination for refusing to hire a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf. Sarah Desrosiers, 32, says she turned down Bushra Noah as a junior stylist to maintain the image of her salon, which specialises in "urban, funky" cuts. She told Miss Noah, 19, she needed her staff to display their hairstyles to the public

But the devout Muslim insisted that wearing her headscarf was essential to her beliefs. Miss Noah, who has been rejected for 25 different hairdressing jobs after interviews, is suing Miss Desrosiers for more than 15,000 pounds for injury to her feelings plus an unspecified sum for lost earnings.

Miss Desrosiers, who set up the Wedge salon in King's Cross, North London, 18 months ago, says she faces financial ruin if she loses the case. She denies any discrimination and insists it is an "absolutely basic" job requirement. Yesterday, Miss Desrosier said: "When a potential client walks past on the street, they look into a salon at the stylists to get an impression of what haircut they are going to get there. "The image I have built my salon on is very urban, funky, punky. That is the look I am going for. "If an employee were wearing a baseball cap or cowboy hat I would ask them to remove it at work.

"It has nothing to do with religion. But I now feel like I have been branded a racist. My name is being dragged through the mud." She went on: "This girl is suing me for more than I earn in a year. "I am a small business and have only had my salon a year and a half. If I lose this lawsuit, my business will fold."

In legal papers setting out her employment tribunal claim, Miss Noah alleges she was discriminated against at her interview in March and wrongly turned down for a job she was capable of doing because of her headscarf.


Insane British policing again

A DAD grabbed a drunken teenager he thought was trying to break into his home, handed him to police - and was arrested. Now Mark Goldberg fears he could lose his Ministry of Defence job if he is prosecuted.

The head chef, who has children aged five and 15, heard a noise at the window of his townhouse at around 10.30pm. He opened the curtains and spotted the yob teetering on the window ledge. Mark, 38, said: "He must have jumped over railings and climbed up a drainpipe. But when I went out he tried to say he was looking for someone."

While his wife called police in Gravesend, Kent, Mark grappled with the teenager - who may have been attending a nearby party. He managed to flee but Mark chased him and marched him back to waiting cops. To his amazement they arrested HIM for assault. He said: "The police said the guy had a fat lip. We did tussle and fall to the ground but I didn't hit him. He's just making up stories and they believe him, not me. They threw me in a cell for 15 hours."

Mark has been told he must return to the police station on December 6. He is the latest in a string of householders to be arrested trying to protect their homes and property. Mark said: "This country has gone barmy. You can't even protect your own family in your own home any more." A police spokesman said: "Our investigations continue."


Porn harmful?

In the 1980s, conservatives and feminists joined to fight a common nemesis: the spread of pornography. Unlike past campaigns to stamp out smut, this one was based not just on morality but on public safety. They argued that hard-core erotica was intolerable because it promoted sexual violence against women. "Pornography is the theory -- rape is the practice," wrote feminist author Robin Morgan. In 1986, a federal commission concurred. Some kinds of pornography, it concluded, are bound to lead to "increased sexual violence." Indianapolis passed a law allowing women to sue producers for sexual assaults caused by material depicting women in "positions of servility or submission or display."

The campaign fizzled when the courts said the ordinance was an unconstitutional form of "thought control." Though the Bush administration has put new emphasis on prosecuting obscenity, on the grounds that it fosters violence against women, pornography is more available now than ever. That's due in substantial part to the rise of the Internet, where the United States alone has a staggering 244 million web pages featuring erotic fare. One Nielsen survey found that one out of every four users say they visited adult sites in the past month.

So in the last two decades, we have essentially conducted a vast experiment on the social consequences of such material. If the supporters of censorship were right, we should be seeing an unparalleled epidemic of sexual assault. But all the evidence indicates they were wrong. As raunch has waxed, rape has waned.

This is part of a broad decrease in criminal mayhem. Since 1993, violent crime in America has dropped by 58 percent. But the progress in this one realm has been especially dramatic. Rape is down 72 percent and other sexual assaults have fallen by 68 percent. Even in the last two years, when the FBI reported upticks in violent crime, the number of rapes continued to fall.

Nor can the decline be dismissed as the result of underreporting. Many sexual assaults do go unreported, but there is no reason to think there is less reporting today than in the past. In fact, given everything that has been done to educate people about the problem, and to prosecute offenders, victims are probably more willing to come forward than they used to be.

No one would say the current level of violence against women is acceptable. But the enormous progress in recent years is one of the most gratifying successes imaginable. How can it be explained? Perhaps the most surprising and controversial account comes from Clemson University economist Todd Kendall, who suggests that adult fare on the Internet may essentially inoculate against sexual assaults.

In a paper presented at Stanford Law School last year, he reported that, after adjusting for other differences, states where Internet access expanded the fastest saw rape decline the most. A 10 percent increase in Internet access, Kendall found, typically meant a 7.3 percent reduction in the number of reported rapes. For other types of crime, by contrast, he found no correlation with Web use. What this research suggests is that sexual urges play a big role in the incidence of rape -- and that pornographic websites provide a harmless way for potential predators to satisfy those desires.

That, of course, is only a theory, and the evidence he cites is not conclusive. States that were quicker to adopt the Internet may be different in ways that also serve to prevent rape. It's not hard to think of other explanations why sexual assaults have diminished so rapidly -- such as DNA analysis, which has been an invaluable tool in catching and convicting offenders.

Changing social attitudes doubtless have also played a role. Both young men and young women are more aware today of the boundaries between consensual and coercive sex. Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, thinks the credit for progress against rape should go to federal funding under the Violence Against Women Act and to education efforts stressing that "no means no."

But if expanding the availability of hard-core fare doesn't actually prevent rapes, we can be confident from the experience of recent years that it certainly doesn't cause such crimes. Whether you think porn is a constitutionally protected form of expression or a vile blight that should be eradicated, this discovery should come as very good news.


Australia: Repeated failures by a government "child welfare" agency just go on and on

If only the parents below had been a respectable middle-class couple whom some idiot had accused of "witchcraft"! The "social workers" would have taken all their kids off THEM in double-quick time! Feral parents, however, must be treated with "respect" -- and too bad about the kids

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma is being told to stop denying there aren't major problems within the Department of Community Services (DoCS), with a baby known to the department in hospital suffering cardiac arrest and severe head injuries. The 14-month-old had just been returned to her mother and partner who is on parole for murder.

Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell says the Premier has a lot to answer for. "Morris Iemma needs to explain how laws used last year allowing DoCS workers to bypass the courts and rescue children in serious risk of harm aren't being enforced." "These laws may have prevented death and injuries, and Morris Iemma needs to explain why they're not being used."

An ambulance was called to the little boy's Blacktown home early yesterday morning, there they found the 14-month-old in cardiac arrest with head injuries. He is being treated in Westmead Hospital where he remains on life support. It's believed the child had been in the care of his grandmother, and previously DoCS, before being given back to his 19-year- old mother just weeks ago. DoCS has confirmed it was aware of the child, and the fact that his mother's partner has just been released from prison after serving time for homicide.

Shadow Community Services Minister Katrina Hodgkinson says it's yet another tragedy. "Why are babies who are clearly at risk not looked after properly by the Department of Community Services, when there is obviously a need for that to be happening?"

It's the latest in a series of abuse cases involving children known to DoCS including two-year-old Dean Shillingsworth, found dead in a suitcase and seven- year-old Shellay Ward, who starved to death at Hawks Nest.



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

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

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


10 November, 2007

Saving Civilization From Itself

Churchill understood that the Jews are the bedrock of Western tradition

"Why should we Anglo-Saxons apologize for being superior?" Winston Churchill once growled in exasperation. "We are superior." Certainly Churchill's views of what he and other late Victorians called the "lesser races," such as blacks and East Indians, are very different from ours today. One might easily assume that a self-described reactionary like Churchill, holding such views, shared the anti-Semitism prevalent among Europe's ruling elites before the Holocaust.

But he did not, as Martin Gilbert vividly shows in "Churchill and the Jews." By chronicling Churchill's warm dealings with English and European Jews throughout his long career, and his heartfelt support of Zionism, Mr. Gilbert conveys Churchill's deep admiration for the Jewish people and captures his crucial role in creating the state of Israel. Churchill offers the powerful example of a Western statesman who--unlike other statesmen in his own time and ours--understood the malignant nature of anti-Semitism and did what he could to oppose its toxic effects.

His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, had been a close friend and ally to many wealthy British Jews, almost notoriously so, given the rancid snobbery of his circles. The son rarely failed to follow his father's inclinations, in this matter as in others. Jews like the Rothschilds and the banker Sir Ernest Cassel helped to advance Winston Churchill's early career (including watching over his finances after his father's death), and he repaid their support in part by publicly condemning the kind of anti-Semitism that was all too common in England's upper classes. But his actions were not merely an expression of personal thanks.

A student of history, Churchill came to feel that Judaism was the bedrock of traditional Western moral and political principles--and Churchill was of a generation that preferred to talk about principles instead of "values." For Europeans to turn against the Jew, he argued, was for them to strike at their own roots and reject an essential part of their civilization--"that corporate strength, that personal and special driving power" that Jews had brought for hundreds of years to Europe's arts, sciences and institutions.

To deny Jews a national homeland was therefore an act of ingratitude. Churchill became a keen backer of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which broached the idea of creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. As a friend to Zionist leader Chaim Weizman, and as colonial secretary after World War I, Churchill made establishing such a homeland a matter of urgency. "The hope of your race for so many centuries will be gradually realized here," Churchill told a Jewish audience in Jerusalem during his visit in March 1921, "not only for your own good, but for the good of all the world."

By "all the world" Churchill most pointedly meant to include Palestine's Arabs. As Mr. Gilbert recounts, Churchill was dismayed and disgusted by Arab resistance to Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine. "The Jews have a far more difficult task than you," he told Arab representatives, since "you only have to enjoy your own possessions," while the Jewish emigrants from Europe and elsewhere would have to carve a society out of a barren wilderness.

Yet Churchill was convinced that Arab civilization would benefit from contact with an entrepreneurial and morally centered people. "Speaking entirely as a non-Jew," he wrote, "I look on the Jews as the natural importers of western leaven so necessary for countries in the Near East." At the same time, Churchill tried to ensure that Palestinian Arabs got their own national homeland. It was Churchill who, as colonial secretary, decided to separate Transjordan (modern-day Jordan) from the rest of Palestine, assuming that Transjordan would become the site of the Arabs' future state and that other parts of Palestine (including the West Bank of the Jordan River) would be open to Jewish settlement.

Churchill was to be disappointed by the results of his Middle Eastern efforts, as Arabs hunted down and murdered Jewish settlers by the hundreds in the 1920s and 1930s--just at the time when Adolf Hitler was building his own regime around the persecution of the Jews in Germany. As early as 1930 Churchill realized that the Nazis' anti-Jewish policies carried the stench of an ancient evil. "Tell your boss from me," he said to a Hitler acquaintance in the late summer of 1932, as the Nazi Party was on the verge of power, "that anti-Semitism may be a good starter but it is a bad finisher."

In December 1942, Churchill--now prime minister--learned from a Roman Catholic member of the Polish resistance, a man named Jan Karsky, that thousands of Jews were being rounded up and sent by cattle cars to what turned out to be the death camp at Belzec, in eastern Poland. Churchill used the Karsky report to compel the Allies, including the Russians, to condemn "a bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination" in Germany--although he understood that the best way to halt the slaughter would be the speedy destruction of Hitler's empire. The chief of Britain's air staff, Sir Charles Portal, warned that any air raids "avowedly conducted on account of the Jews would be an asset to enemy propaganda," and Churchill reluctantly bowed to his advice. Nonetheless, in 1943 he wanted a film that documented the atrocities committed against the Jews to be shown to every American serviceman before the invasion of Europe.

After the war, Churchill felt that the most fitting response to the Holocaust would be to punish those guilty of the most horrific crimes against the Jews and to fulfill the promise of a Jewish homeland that he and Britain had made almost 30 years earlier. When Ernest Bevin, Britain's Labour Party foreign minister, hesitated to recognize Israel nine months after its founding, for fear of inflaming Arab opinion, Churchill swung back hard: "Whether the Right Honorable Gentleman likes it or not, the coming into being of a Jewish State in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand, or even three thousand years." Israel was just recompense, Churchill felt, not only for what the Jews of Europe had lost but for what they had given to civilization over the centuries.

This view, of course, no longer prevails. Today the existence of Israel is apparently something to be regretted, even deplored, not only in Arab capitals but in European ones and on American university campuses. Paradoxically, such feelings intensified after 9/11, an event that should have made us all aware of who the friends of Western civilization really are--and who its enemies. Martin Gilbert's book reminds us that anti-Semitism is the dark turn of the modern mind against itself, and a form of cultural patricide.


Feminism is dead

Or so says the young woman writing below. As she says, the large number of women who get breast implants does support her views. I understand that over 200,000 American women get implants EVERY YEAR. That's a lot of man-pleasing!

FEMINISM is dead, and thank goodness for that. My revulsion at feminist theory came to my attention a year ago when I told a teacher of mine I found the concept of the independent, dominating woman quite frightening, and I hoped to be a charming wife some day. She was not impressed.

But feminist texts and their authors are the essence of pessimism. They are not academics, just really talented when it comes to the art of whining. I cannot shake the image of frizzy-haired women who refuse to shave their legs from my mind, either, although this is their choice seeing, can I just clarify, they have the freedom to shave their heads and wear hemp sacks if they want to. Have they not considered that, in devoting their lives to whining and ranting and bypassing the cosmetics section of the supermarket for fear of pleasing the eye of any man, they are optimising the stereotypes that they deem to have burdened them so?

Since when was making a living from being bitter and disgruntled liberating? Since when was rejecting all science intelligent? Perhaps if they had tried applying themselves to real jobs (didn't you hear, women go to work these days!) they might find that our dark and oppressive patriarchal society isn't so bad after all.

Now, I pride myself on my education and I am no Supre-flaunting, cleavage-flashing bimbo. I aspire to graduate with a double degree and pursue a rewarding career in domesticity (just kidding, you can stop hyperventilating). But ladies, I don't want to see you without a bra on any more than your former boyfriend/male boss/poor unsuspecting man on the street does.

Feminists are in denial, forcing their insecurities on arts students such as myself who must suffer the shared anguish of "having" to wear high heels - God, why is life so cruel? Feminist theory attempts to encourage the notion that girls like me are lacking something, and are underrated. Yeah, thanks. Until now I thought my only problem was chipped nail polish.

But if society is never going to allow me to reach my potential, I should just give up while I'm ahead. The Stepford Wives tale is a feminist attempt at a horror story, equating beautiful housewives with genetically blessed Frankenstein's monsters. Likewise, verbally bashing fellow "sisters" who wear short skirts is not inspiring, it is alienating, and far more tormenting than reading Zoo Weekly could ever be (and that's really scraping the barrel). Yep, that's girl power for you.

Feminism is dead, because instead of weeping over the pages of Vogue, girls are participating in sport, and staying out past 11pm, and getting breast implants.


Britain's Anti-Semitic Lurch

By Melanie Phillips

In August 2006, as the war in Lebanon raged, a gang of teenage girls confronted 12-year-old Jasmine Kranat and a friend on a London bus. "Are you Jewish?" they demanded. They didn't hurt the friend, who was wearing a crucifix. But they subjected Jasmine, a Jew, to a brutal beating--stomping on her head and chest, fracturing her eye socket, and knocking her unconscious.

According to the Community Security Trust, the defense organization of Britain's 300,000-strong Jewish community, last year saw nearly 600 anti-Semitic assaults, incidents of vandalism, cases of abuse, and threats against Jewish individuals and institutions--double the 2001 number. According to the police, Jews are four times more likely to be attacked because of their religion than are Muslims. Every synagogue service and Jewish communal event now requires guards on the lookout for violence from both neo-Nazis and Muslim extremists. Orthodox Jews have become particular targets; some have begun wearing baseball caps instead of skullcaps and concealing their Star of David jewelry.

Anti-Semitism is rife within Britain's Muslim community. Islamic bookshops sell copies of Hitler's Mein Kampf and the notorious czarist forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; as an undercover TV documentary revealed in January, imams routinely preach anti-Jewish sermons. Opinion polls show that nearly two-fifths of Britain's Muslims believe that the Jewish community in Britain is a legitimate target "as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East"; that more than half believe that British Jews have "too much influence over the direction of UK foreign policy"; and that no fewer than 46 percent think that the Jewish community is "in league with Freemasons to control the media and politics."

But anti-Semitism has also become respectable in mainstream British society. "Anti-Jewish themes and remarks are gaining acceptability in some quarters in public and private discourse in Britain and there is a danger that this trend will become more and more mainstream," reported a Parliamentary inquiry last year. "It is this phenomenon that has contributed to an atmosphere where Jews have become more anxious and more vulnerable to abuse and attack than at any other time for a generation or longer."

At the heart of this ugly development is a new variety of anti-Semitism, aimed primarily not at the Jewish religion, and not at a purported Jewish race, but at the Jewish state. Zionism is now a dirty word in Britain, and opposition to Israel has become a fig leaf for a resurgence of the oldest hatred. Anti-Semitism has continually changed its shape over the centuries. In the Greco-Roman world, it expressed itself in cultural hostility, resentment of the Jews' economic power, and disdain for the separate lives that Jews led as the result of their religious practices, such as dietary laws and refusal to marry outside the faith.

Adding fuel to these pagan prejudices, Christian theology accused Jews of deicide and held them responsible for all time for killing Christ, a position that effectively associated them with the devil and, crucially, laid the blame for their suffering on their own shoulders. Later, medieval Christianity attempted to usurp the Jewish heritage through "replacement theology," which claimed that Christians inherited all the promises that God had made to the Jews, who were to be eliminated through either conversion or death. These ideas underlay medieval Europe's regular anti-Jewish pogroms, which consisted of massacres, forced conversions, and torchings of synagogues.

Theological anti-Semitism's themes reemerged in the next mutation: racial anti-Semitism. This ideology held that, on account of their genetic inheritance, Jews were the enemies of humanity--a demonic conspiracy whose malign influence could be countered only by removing them from the face of the earth. Nazi Germany tried to do just that, killing 6 million Jews between 1933 and 1945.

And now, in Britain and elsewhere, anti-Semitism has mutated again, its target shifting from culture to creed to race to nation. What anti-Semitism once did to Jews as people, it now does to Jews as a people. First it wanted the Jewish religion, and then the Jews themselves, to disappear; now it wants the Jewish state to disappear. For the presentation of Israel in British public discourse does not consist of mere criticism. It has become a torrent of libels, distortions, and obsessional vilification, representing Israel not as a country under exterminatory attack by the Arabs for the 60 years of its existence but as a regional bully persecuting innocent Palestinians who want only a homeland.

Language straight out of the lexicon of medieval and Nazi Jew-hatred has become commonplace in acceptable British discourse, particularly in the media. Indeed, the most striking evidence that hatred of Israel is the latest mutation of anti-Semitism is that it resurrects the libel of the world Jewish conspiracy, a defining anti-Semitic motif that went underground after the Holocaust.

Take the much-abused term "neoconservatives," which has become code for the Jews who have supposedly suborned America in Israel's interests. In the Guardian, Geoffrey Wheatcroft lamented the fact that Conservative Party leader David Cameron had fallen under the spell of neoconservatives' "ardent support for the Iraq war, for the US and for Israel," and urged Cameron to ensure that British foreign policy was no longer based on the interest of "another country"--Israel. In the Times, Simon Jenkins supported the notion that "a small group of neo-conservatives contrived to take the greatest nation on Earth to war and kill thousands of people" and that these "traitors to the American conservative tradition," whose "first commitment was to the defence of Israel," had achieved a "seizure of Washington (and London) after 9/11." According to this familiar thesis, the Jews covertly exercise their extraordinary power to advance their own interests and harm the rest of mankind.

The New Statesman took a more straightforward approach in 2002, printing an investigation into the power of the "Zionist" lobby in Britain, which it dubbed the "Kosher Conspiracy" and illustrated on its cover with a gold Star of David piercing the Union Jack. The image conveyed at a glance the message that rich Jews were stabbing British interests through the national heart.

The British media accuse Israel of a host of crimes. The Guardian published a two-day special report painting Israel as an apartheid state, ignoring the fact that Israeli Arabs have full civil rights. Another Guardian article, by Patrick Seale, portrayed Israel's incursions into Gaza as a "destructive rampage." Dismissing or ignoring the rocket attacks, hostage-taking, and terrorism that those incursions were trying to stop, Seale concluded instead that Israel "deliberately inflicts inhumane hardships on the Palestinians in order to radicalise them and drive the moderates from the scene." When the National Union of Journalists, joining a number of other academic and professional groups, voted last April to boycott Israeli goods--a move that it has since reversed--one of its members, freelancer Pamela Hardyment, described Israel as "a wonderful Nazi-like killing machine backed by the world's richest Jews." Then she referred to the "so-called Holocaust" and concluded: "Shame on all Jews, may your lives be cursed." ....

One of the most conspicuous features of British anti-Semitism is that the British deny its existence. The Parliamentary inquiry received only a muted response. Both Mann and Richard Littlejohn, a journalist whose TV program on the subject aired in July 2007, encountered people who, when discovering their concern about anti-Semitism, said: "Oh, I didn't know you were Jewish." But Mann and Littlejohn aren't Jewish. As Littlejohn noted, the implication was that no non-Jew would ever identify anti-Semitism, and therefore that anti-Semitism was generally a figment of the Jewish imagination. When I proposed to write a book about it, I was turned down by every mainstream publishing house. "No British publisher will touch this," one editorial director told me. "Claiming there is anti-Semitism in Britain is simply unsayable." .....

Exhausted by two world wars, shattered by the loss of empire, and hollowed out by the failure of the Church of England or a substantial body of intellectuals and elites to hold the line, Britain was uniquely vulnerable to the predations of the Left. The institutions that underpinned truth and morality--the traditional family and an education system that transmitted the national culture--collapsed. Britain's monolithic intelligentsia soon embraced postmodernism, multiculturalism, victim culture, and a morally inverted hegemony of ideas in which the values of marginalized or transgressive groups replaced the values of the purportedly racist, oppressive West.

Further, people across the political spectrum became increasingly unable to make moral distinctions based on behavior. This erasing of the line between right and wrong produced a tendency to equate, and then invert, the roles of terrorists and of their victims, and to regard self-defense as aggression and the original violence as understandable and even justified. That attitude is, of course, inherently antagonistic to Israel, which was founded on the determination never to allow another genocide of Jews, to defend itself when attacked, and to destroy those who would destroy it. But for the Left, powerlessness is virtue; better for Jews to die than to kill, because only as dead victims can they be moral.

And this general endorsement of surrender feeds straight into a subterranean but potent resentment simmering in Europe. For over 60 years, a major tendency in European thought has sought to distance itself from moral responsibility for the Holocaust. The only way to do so, however, was somehow to blame the Jews for their own destruction; and that monstrous reasoning was inconceivable while the dominant narrative was of Jews as victims.

Now, however, the Palestinians have handed Europe a rival narrative. The misrepresentation of Israeli self-defense as belligerence, suggesting that Jews are not victims but aggressors, implicitly provides Europeans with the means to blame the destruction of European Jewry on its own misdeeds. As one influential left-wing editor said to me: "The Holocaust meant that for decades the Jews were untouchable. It's such a relief that Israel means we don't have to worry about that any more."

It is no accident that Jews find themselves at the center of Britain's modern convulsion. Today's British prejudices rest on a repudiation of truth and a refusal to defend Western moral values. And it was the Jews who first gave the West those moral codes that underpin its civilization and that are now under siege.

If British politicians were to start speaking the truth about Israel's history and defending Jews publicly, they might help stem the new anti-Semitism. Likewise, British Jews--who, unlike their American counterparts, are almost totally silent for fear of making things worse--need to put their heads above the parapet and start telling the truth about Israel. But for Jews who had allowed themselves to believe that they were truly at home in Britain, the new anti-Semitism is the end of an idyll.

Much more here

Do-gooders slam the door on adoption

Last month, Guatemala was effectively shut down as a country from which children can be adopted into the United States. While the shutdown is officially temporary, it is likely that even when new laws are in place, Guatemala will follow the path taken by many South American countries in recent years: eliminating the private agencies and intermediaries that facilitate the placement of children who need homes and substituting government monopoly over adoption, which will reduce to a trickle the number of children escaping life in institutions or on the streets.

In recent years, Guatemala has been a model for those who believe in adoption as a vehicle for providing homeless children with permanent, nurturing parents. It has released significant numbers of children to international adoption, many at young ages, before they suffered the kind of damage that results in attachment disorders and other life-altering limitations. Ironically, these policies are why Guatemala attracted the attention of UNICEF and other human rights organizations that, along with our State Department, have been pushing for adoption "reform."

These official "friends of children" have created pressure that has led to the cessation of international adoption in half the countries that in recent decades had been sending the largest number of homeless children abroad. Until recent years, the number of international adoptions into the United States had been steadily increasing, but the numbers are dramatically down.

Why close down international adoption? The real-world alternatives for the children at issue are life -- or death -- on the streets or in the types of institutions that a half-century of research has proved systematically destroy children's ability to grow up capable of functioning normally in society. By contrast, we know that adoption works incredibly well to provide children with nurturing homes and that it works best for those placed early in life.

Critics of international adoption argue that children have heritage rights and "belong" in their countries of birth. But children enjoy little in the way of heritage or other rights in institutions. The critics argue that we should develop foster-care alternatives for children in the countries they are from, and UNICEF's official position favors in-country foster care over out-of-country adoption.

But foster care does not exist as a real option in most countries that allow children to be adopted abroad, and the generally dire economic circumstances in these nations make it extremely unlikely that comprehensive foster care programs will soon be developed. Nor is there any reason to think that children would do as well in foster care as in adoptive homes. Indeed, for decades the research in countries that use foster care, such as the United States, has shown that such care does not work nearly as well for children as adoption does.

Critics also condemn adoption abuses such as baby-buying. But there is no hard evidence that payments are systematically used in any country to induce birth parents to surrender their children. In any event, the right response to such abuses is stepped-up enforcement of the overlapping laws prohibiting such payments, which would rightly result in the lawbreakers being penalized. Closing down international adoption, however, wrongly penalizes all those homeless children who could otherwise find nurturing adoptive homes, condemning them to institutions or to the streets.

Policies restricting international adoption replicate the same-race matching policies that used to exist in the United States. In the mid-1990s, Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act, rejecting the notion that children should be seen as belonging only within the racial group into which they were born. Our lawmakers recognized the harm children suffered by virtue of being held in foster care rather than being adopted transracially.

Congress, the State Department and the human rights organizations that purport to care for children should similarly reject the notion that children in other countries must at all costs be kept in their communities of birth. Children's most fundamental human rights include the right to be nurtured in their formative years by permanent parents in real families.



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

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

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


9 November, 2007

Britain's multicultural agony continues

Sikh girl, 14, suspended for wearing religious bangle

A Sikh teenager has been suspended from school for refusing to remove a religious bangle. The parents of Sarika Singh, 14, are now considering a legal challenge against the school, a girls' comprehensive school in Aberdare, South Wales, that taught the girl "in isolation" for nine weeks before excluding her.

Jane Rosser, the headmistress of Aberdare Girls' School, said that the code of conduct permitted only two items of jewellery, a watch and a pair of plain metal stud earrings. The school bans all visible religious symbols, including Christian crosses and Muslim headscarves.

Miss Singh has won the backing of the Valleys Race Equality Council and her parents are now considering a challenge in the High Court. The metal bangle, called a kara, is one of five items all Sikhs are expected to wear. It is supposed to be a visual reminder to do only good work with the hands. Miss Singh, who has been suspended for five days, began wearing it two years ago after a family visit to India, but the school took action only in September. Her mother, Sanita Singh, said: "Sarika told us, `I don't go to school any more, I go to prison'."

Ian Blake, chairman of the school's governing body, said: "We made our decision only after prolonged research into the previous stated cases across the UK, interrogation of the law, including human rights and race relations legislation." The governors have rejected an appeal.


McCarthyism: The Rosetta Stone of Liberal Lies

by Ann Coulter

When I wrote a ferocious defense of Sen. Joe McCarthy in "Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism", liberals chose not to argue with me. Instead they posted a scrolling series of reasons not to read my book, such as that I wear short skirts, date boys, and that Treason was not a scholarly tome. After printing rabidly venomous accounts of McCarthy for half a century based on zero research, liberals would only accept research presenting an alternative view of McCarthy that included, as the Los Angeles Times put it, at least the "pretense of scholarly throat-clearing and objectivity."

This week, they got it. The great M. Stanton Evans has finally released "Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies". Based on a lifetime's work, including nearly a decade of thoroughgoing research, stores of original research and never-before-seen government files, this 672-page book ends the argument on Joe McCarthy. Look for it hidden behind stacks of Bill Clinton's latest self-serving book at a bookstore near you. Evans' book is such a tour de force that liberals are already preparing a "yesterday's news" defense -- as if they had long ago admitted the truth about McCarthy. Yes, and they fought shoulder to shoulder with Ronald Reagan to bring down the Evil Empire. Thus, Publishers Weekly preposterously claims that "the history Evans relates is already largely known, if not fully accepted." Somebody better tell George Clooney.

The McCarthy period is the Rosetta stone of all liberal lies. It is the textbook on how they rewrite history -- the sound chamber of liberal denunciations, their phony victimhood as they demean and oppress their enemies, their false imputation of dishonesty to their opponents, their legalization of every policy dispute, their ability to engage in lock-step shouting campaigns, and the black motives concealed by their endless cacophony.

The true story of Joe McCarthy, told in meticulous, irrefutable detail in Blacklisted by History, is that from 1938 to 1946, the Democratic Party acquiesced in a monstrous conspiracy being run through the State Department, the military establishment, and even the White House to advance the Soviet cause within the U.S. government. In the face of the Democrats' absolute refusal to admit to their fecklessness, fatuity and recklessness in allowing known Soviet spies to penetrate the deepest levels of government, McCarthy demanded an accounting. Even if one concedes to on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand whiners like Ronald Radosh that Truman's Secretary of State Dean Acheson didn't like communism, his record is what it was. And that record was to treat Soviet spies like members of the Hasty Pudding Club.

Rather than own up to their moral blindness to Soviet espionage, Democrats fired up the liberal slander machine, which would be deployed again and again over the next half century to the present day. In hiding their own perfidy, liberals were guilty of every sin they lyingly imputed to McCarthy. There were no "McCarthyites" until liberals came along. "Blacklisted by History" proves that every conventional belief about McCarthy is wrong, including:

-- That he lied about his war service: He was a tailgunner in World War II;

-- That he was a drunk: He would generally nurse a single drink all night;

-- That he made the whole thing up: He produced loads of Soviet spies in government jobs;

-- That he just did it for political gain: He understood perfectly the godless evil of communism.

Ironically, for all of their love of conspiracy theories -- the rigging of the 2000 election, vote suppression in Ohio in 2004, 9/11 being an inside job, oil companies covering up miracle technology that would allow cars to run on dirt, Britney Spears' career, etc., etc. -- when presented with an actual conspiracy of Soviet spies infiltrating the U.S. government, they laughed it off like world-weary skeptics and dedicated themselves to slandering Joe McCarthy.

Then as now, liberals protect themselves from detection with wild calumnies against anybody who opposes them. They have no interest in -- or aptitude for -- persuasion. Their goal is to anathematize their enemies. "Blacklisted by History" removes the curse from one of the greatest patriots in American history.


HAWAII: By The Color of Their Skin, or The Content of Their Character?

The House of Representatives recently approved a bill that would establish disturbing racial classifications under American law. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007-also known as the "Akaka Bill" after its primary Senate sponsor, Daniel Akaka (D-HI)-purports to grant "native Hawaiians" federal recognition akin to that now enjoyed by Indian tribes. It uses the one-drop rule to create a race-based government that will collect political and economic preferences and exempt sufficiently ethnic Hawaiians from whatever aspects of federal and state authority it deems undesirable.

By carving out a Hawaiian exception to the Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process, the Akaka Bill tries to circumvent a 2000 Supreme Court decision that struck down a racial restriction on voting for trustees of Hawaii's Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Sponsored by Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) in the House and supported by Hawaii's Republican governor, Linda Lingle, the bill is both unconstitutional and bad policy. Congress simply cannot create new sovereigns outside the constitutional framework, and analogies to American Indians misconstrue both the history and legal status of peoples who predate the United States.

The Constitution's Indian law exception is controversial enough, but it was created by the document itself, arising as a unique historical compromise with pre-constitutional realities, and Congress still retains a great amount of oversight. Once the Constitution was ratified, no government organized under it could create another government that can exempt itself from the Bill of Rights as it sees fit.

But if the Akaka Bill is not a constitutional end-run, as its backers vehemently protest, then it is facially disallowed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments' explicit proscription against any state action that treats people differently based on their race or ethnicity. The Supreme Court found Native Hawaiians to be an ethnic group, after all, so Congress cannot pass a law giving them rights denied other Americans.

Hawaiians are not American Indians in the constitutional sense. The term "Indian tribes" has a fixed meaning, limited to preexisting North American tribes that were "dependent nations" at the time of the Founding. Such tribes, to benefit from the protections of Indian law, must have an independent existence and "community" apart from the rest of American society, and their separate government structure must have a continuous history for at least the past century. By these standards, Hawaiians do not qualify.

Even if Congress could create from whole cloth the equivalent of an Indian tribe, there is no good reason to label racial or ethnic groups as distinct self-governing nations...

As one federal court recently explained, "the history of indigenous Hawaiians... is fundamentally different from that of indigenous groups and federally recognized Indian Tribes in the continental United States." The United States seized tribal lands and persecuted their inhabitants, while Hawaiians peaceably ended their monarchy and later overwhelmingly voted to become a state.

Moreover, aboriginal Hawaiians are not geographically segregated, but live together with people of all races. Hawaii is the most integrated and blended society in America: Only 10 percent of native Hawaiians have at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood and only two of the nine trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs have Hawaiian surnames. What is more, some 40 percent of those qualifying as Native Hawaiian under the Akaka Bill's one-drop "ancestry" rule don't live in Hawaii.

Even if Congress could create from whole cloth the equivalent of an Indian tribe, there is no good reason to label racial or ethnic groups as distinct self-governing nations solely because they have unique cultural traits or were once victims of oppression or discrimination. Otherwise, what is to stop African or Jewish or Catholic or Chinese Americans from demanding not only reparations for the wrongs historically committed against them but also their own separatist governments?

Not deterred by law or principle, Sen. Akaka has proposed various forms of his bill since 2000, when the House also passed it. Last year the Senate fell just four votes shy of ending a Republican filibuster, in the absence of three senators who would have voted for it. This year, with Democrats controlling Congress-and with Republican co-sponsorship from Alaska's delegation, Rep. Tom Cole (OK) and Sens. Norm Coleman (MN) and Gordon Smith (OR)-the Akaka Bill will almost certainly land on the president's desk.

The Bush administration, which in 2005 merely suggested a few amendments, has now promised a veto, citing the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's conclusion that the bill "would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege." And that is beyond the special federal recognition that Hawaiians-as well as indigenous Alaskans-already receive, not least in the form of racial check-off boxes for purposes of affirmative action.

President Bush's belated discovery of his veto pen is an encouraging sign-on this as on so many other issues-but the next occupant of the White House may not be as opposed to judging people on the basis of their skin color or national origin.


Quebec Cardinal Speaks Out Against Imposing Relativism on All Students

Quebec City Cardinal Marc Ouellet has spoken out against a Quebec initiative which would impose a relativistic religion course on all Quebec students whether in public school, private school or even receiving home education. The Cardinal made his remarks before a commission which is seeking public reaction to the program on "Ethics and Religious Culture" which includes positive presentation of homosexual families and requires children to question their own religious upbringing. (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/oct/07100409.html )

The Cardinal's presentation before the Bouchard-Taylor commission is being seen as a watershed defense of the place of the Catholic faith in Quebec society and indeed in Canada as a whole. Cardinal Ouellet said that the mandated course "subjects religions to the control and the interests of the State and puts an end to religious freedoms in school which were acquired many generations ago."

With a firmness and fire rarely seen from the Canadian Catholic hierarchy, the Cardinal said, "No European nation has ever adopted such a radical position which disrupts the religious convictions and takes away religious freedoms. There is an uneasiness felt by many families as well as a sense of helplessness in front of the almighty State."

The Cardinal also used the opportunity to address the underlying problem of the clash between secular humanists and the Catholic culture in Quebec and the rest of Canada. "The real problem in Quebec is the spiritual emptiness created by a rupture of religion and culture and a substantial loss of memory brought about by a crisis of the family and education," he said. "It has caused dismay among young people, the fall of the marriages, the minimal birth rate, and the terrifying number of abortions and suicides to name only a few consequences that are also reflected in the precarious state of elderly people and in the public health system." "A spiritual renewal is possible," he said, "if the dialog between the State, Society and the Church is resumed in a manner that is constructive and respectful of our collective identity which is now pluralistic."

As an example of intolerance he cited the desire to remove the crucifix from the National Assembly (legislature). "To remove it would signify a cultural rupture, a denial of who we are and who we are called to be as a collective historically founded on Christian values"



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

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

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


8 November, 2007

Are these useless b*stards worth feeding?

British bureaucracy goes very close to making some people sub-human

A woman told how two police community officers stood by while a man was attacked by three teenage girls. Ann Ward said she rushed to help the man while the officers did nothing. Mrs Ward, 59, a great-grandmother, said: "It was disgusting - any other men would have stepped in to help." She spotted the girls kicking and punching the 55-year-old man in Ravensbury Park near Morden. She said: "They asked him the time, then attacked him, hitting him across the back of the head with a stick." She added: "I shouted at him to keep hold of his bag and told him I was coming."

The girls ran off, and Mrs Ward said the PCSOs radioed for help but did not tackle them. Mrs Ward said: "They said they were there to report the crime to the police and take notes." A Met spokeswoman confirmed it was investigating a complaint. She said: "Two females were arrested. A third female handed herself in. They have all been bailed to return in December."

The two police community support officers were under investigation. Nicknamed plastic bobbies for their lack of training, the PCSOs were only a few hundred yards away when the incident happened. But instead of taking action, the duo chose to hide behind a tree, according to a witness. The officers said "they had the incident under surveillance", the witness added. The witness has now lodged a complaint with Scotland Yard claiming the support officers only radioed for help when they were asked why they had not taken any action. But the PCSOs claim they responded as soon as they were made aware of the incident.

Scotland Yard chiefs were so shocked by the claims they launched a 'Gold Command' meeting and put Assistant Commissioner Tim Godwin in charge of the investigation. A senior officer said: "This could not be more embarrassing for the Met." "PCSOs might not have been able to arrest these girls but they could have at least prevented this man from being beaten up. "Instead, they are accused of hiding behind a tree. If this is found to be true, it really shows the ineffectiveness of PCSOs."

The embarrassing incident comes just weeks after it was revealed that two PCSOs looked on while a boy of 10 drowned in a lake. The support officers in that case claimed they were not adequately trained to rescue Jordon Lyon as he struggled for his life in Wigan in May. It also comes as new figures reveal the recruitment of every Metropolitan Police community support officer costs the taxpayer more than 1,300 pounds in marketing. Scotland Yard spent 3,311,164 pounds on advertising and marketing for PCSO positions last year. During that time it signed up 2,500 officers to work across the capital - a publicity cost of 1,324 each.

Increasing the numbers of PCSOs on the streets of London has been a priority of Commissioner Sir Ian Blair as part of the safer neighbourhoods programme. The role of the uniformed officers is intended to reassure communities by bolstering police numbers on the frontline. Some critics have highlighted how they do not carry the same powers of arrest as police officers and that their training is shorter. Last year's recruitment drive resulted in the number of PCSOs soaring from 2,308 on March 31 2006, to 3,682 a year later. The recruitment of PCSOs is part of a strategy to give every one of the 624 wards in London its own dedicated policing team.


BOOK REVIEW of "Jihad and Jew-Hatred" by Matthias Kuentzel

Noting that the aggressive version of Jihad we see so much of today grew out of early 20th century antisemitism. It is the intimate historical and theoretical linkage between antisemitism and Jihad which is Kuentzel's basic message. Jihadism is quite literally an adaptation of Nazism. Excerpts only below

Today sees the publication by Telos Press of the English-language translation of Matthias Kuentzel's Jihad and Jew-Hatred. The publishers have asked me to review it to coincide with the publication date. And I am very pleased to do so. First, some background is needed.

I have spent my life in dialogue with Christians, Muslims and Buddhists. The longest chapter in my book on the Jewish mediaeval scholar, Abraham ibn Ezra, Deconstructing the Bible, is entitled 'Muslim Hermeneutics'. The first people to purchase the book were the Culture Departments of Iran and Lebanon. In my younger days I took part in Sufi turning sessions, and when I was growing up our family doctor was a Muslim.

Which is why, like a great many people who know something about the Holocaust (in my case first hand information from my parents, who were survivors and also from teaching courses on the subject and visiting areas in Europe where the Holocaust had been perpetrated), I was willing to dismiss Nazi links with people like the Mufti of Jerusalem as motivated purely by political considerations.

However, recent events in Britain have led many of us to believe that politics is never 'pure' and is always motivated by psychology and often also by theology, or a 'world-view'. It is impossible therefore not find this book by a leading German scholar in the field thoroughly convincing.

In my view, only a German can really understand the links between fascism and Muslim revolutionary movements. The early Muslim Brothers were inspired by 1930s European fascism and their writings are a fusion of the Koran and Nazi teaching. They came to the conclusion that not only everything Jewish is evil (which they took for granted), but that 'all evil is Jewish'. For me, this is the nub of the book and is a phrase which should be taken very seriously by all those who believe that 'Islamism' is a mere aberration of the 'pure Islam' which is completely harmless and even beneficial.

Kuentzel points out that although at first the Arabs supported the 1917 Balfour Declaration, in the 1920s, the Moslem Brotherhood changed all that. They became a populist movement, which like the National Socialists a decade later, recruited foreign students to obtain a foot in the door of as many countries as possible. The MB wished to replace democracy by sharia law and a Caliphate, much as Hamas in Gaza wishes to do today.

Kuentzel refers to these activists as a 'community of male zealots' which took 'pleasure in un-pleasure', projecting all their hatred of pleasure on 'the Jews'. Like the Nazis, they were 'dedicated to the restoration of male supremacy'. Women's role would be like that in Nazi Germany - merely in the home and subjected to men.

As for the concept of 'jihad', this had previously been an internal 'fight': now it was externalized as 'holy war'. The ideal was an 'industry of death', fostered by the 'art of death', which was encouraged as being a concept based in the Koran. Importantly for those in the West who support suicide bombers, the aim of jihad was never to improve one's lot, but instead to destroy the evil enemy, i.e. the 'Jews'.

The onset of the Nazis encouraged the Egyptian regime, which had at first welcomed Zionism, and even helped Egyptian Jews who wished to emigrate to Mandate Palestine as late as 1933, by threatening their financial interests. Due to Nazi influence the Brotherhood grew from 800 to 200,000 within two years up to 1938. The Brotherhood distributed Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Arabic. The Nazi ideal of the Volk was paralleled by the Muslim concept of 'umma'. Language, culture and blood ties were what counted. Communities, not individuals, were of paramount importance. Arab youngsters took part in the Hitler Youth marches during the 1938 Nuremberg Rally.

As for the Mufti of Jerusalem, he was interested in the figure of Hitler, per se. Muslims inside and outside Palestine welcomed the Nazi regime and operated the 'Nazi Scouts' in parallel to the Nazi 'Hitler Youth'. The anti-Jewish Nuremberg race laws were welcomed throughout the Arab and Muslim world, but particularly in British-mandate Palestine.

In order to strengthen the Mandate Arabs against the Jews, Hitler offered scholarships to the the Arabs from mandated Palestine and employed them in Germany. The German Propaganda Ministry set up and increased its Arab service (just like the BBC today). Germany also funded Arab spies.

The antisemitism of the Mufti was inherited from his father who had fought against Jewish immigrants to Palestine at the time of the Ottoman Turks. His father had much admired German militrary discipline and incited anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem. The Mufti was responsible for the 1920 anti-Jewish (not anti-Zionist) porgrom in Jerusalem, and then later for the pogroms against the Jews of the holy cities of Tsfat and Hebron. He used his office to 'Islamise anti-Zionism' and provided a religious rationale for the hatred of the Jews. People who did not conform to his directives were punished in religious fashion, by using sharia law. He also stated that Jewish girls demoralized Arab youth. The Mufti was even invited to address the Imams of the Bosnian SS division.

After World War II, many Nazis escaped to Egypt and continued their 'war against the Jews' in safety. They denied and yet approved of the Shoah and this permitted them to explain support for the establishment of the State of Israel as an attack on the Arabs. Just as now, anyone who refused to cooperate with this approach was murdered as a 'collaborater'.

The escalation of the so-called 'Palestinian conflict' was thus the result of a purposeful campaign based on the theological concept of Islamic Holy War. The Moslem Brotherhood and the Mufti worked together to usher in a new Caliphate based on sharia law. It was thus the shared hatred of the Jews which became the bond which tied disparate Arab groupings together. In other words, revolutionary antisemitism was the core of modern jihadism. As Kuentzel states: [T]he delusion suppressed in Germany after May 8th, 1945, found its most fruitful exile in the Arab world, where the Muslim Brothers now disposed of a million followers

Kuentzel then deals with Egyptian Islamism from Nasser to the present day. He differentiates between the mythology of the Jew in Christianity and in Islam. In Christianity, Jews have been depicted as the dark and demonic slayers of God. In Islam, however, the Jews were expelled and then exterminated by Muhammad. This led the Muslims to regard the Jews as hostile and the 'worst enemies of the believers' (Koran: sura 5, verse 85).

Muslim preachers used this phrase as a paradigm for the way they would treat israel. The Jews, and thus Israel, were regarded as weak, as 'an object more of ridicule than of fear'. Nasser and Sadat had ties both with the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood. Nasser was, however, against introducing sharia law to Egypt. However, he encouraged the settlement of former Nazis in Egypt and the promulgation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Nasser denied the reality of the Holocaust and openly sympathised with the Nazi cause.

Because of his condescending attitude towards Jews, based in their early history under Islam, he could not come to terms with the Israeli victory of the Six Day War in 1967, which entirely destroyed the Egyptian army. He said: 'No to peace; No to recognition of Israel' and 'No to talks with Israel'. And he intensified every effort towards the next war. In 1968 he said: Life will be meaningless and worthless to us until every inch of Arab soil is liberated Nasser's solution for Egypt's growing inflation problem was Islamisation of factories, universities, the media and mosques. In 1971 he introduced sharia law and encouraged the formerly-banned Muslim Brotherhood. The main goal of the Islamists was the 'struggle against unbelievers'.

The epistemology of the Islamists is of interest here. Human beings cannot produce new knowledge. Instead, what they do is to 'discern God's will' through the study of holy texts, which are to be taken literally. For example the Koranic view that 'Allah changed Jews into apes and pigs' (sura 5, verse 60) was taken literally. Western science was regarded as the 'intellectual invasion' of the world of Islam. The goal of Muslim academics was to 'de-westernize' sciences, to free them from the principles of doubt and conjecture, which is their hallmark. The regime encouraged 'submission' and 'dominance' of the world, as advocated by the Koran. The Muslims were to become the 'guardians over humanity'. In 2002, Al Qa'ida was to repeat this view (first expressed many years earlier) that the 'entire earth must be subject to the religion of Allah'.

The world was divided into the two sectors of Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam) and 'Dar al-Harb' (House of War), the sector of the unbelievers. The aim was: to learn how to use modern weapons and more than that, to produce and develop them so that we can strike our enemies. The State of Israel was particularly heated as lying within the 'Dar al-Islam'. The situation in Palestine was seen as a re-enaction of the encounter of Muhammad with the Jews. Muhammad's massacre of the Jews was seen 'as the model for current policy towards Israel'.....

Finally, Kuentzel deals with the phenomenon of 9/11. His main query is why the antisemitic background of 9/11 has been ignored in Europe and explains this lacuna as a means used by Europeans to justify their anti-Americanism. He sees all attemps at demolishing American buildings as part of the aim of 'obliterating Israel'. This chapter refers back to the Egyptian, Qutb, whose texts were part of the training programme set up by Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. In addition, bin Laden's mentor, Abdallah Azzam, was born in Jenin and embodies the links between the Palestinian and Afghan fronts of the Islamist jihad. Azzam was also one of the founders of HAMAS, and progagated the cult of the martyr.

According to Kuentzel, Al Qa'ida's view of the USA consisted of antisemitic fantasies. They regard New York as a Jewish metropolis. He also deems it no coincidence that a colleague of Muhammad Atta, the ringleader of 9/11, has stated that: Atta's Weltanschauung was based on a National Socialist way of thinking. He was convinced that 'the Jews' are determined to achieve world domination. He considered New York City to be the centre of world Jewry which was, in his opinion, Enemy Number One

The Islamists also regard America as being under complete Jewish domination. Bin Laden has said: You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Sharia of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire.... In all its different forms and guises, the Jews have taken control of your economy, through which they have taken control of your media, and now control all aspects of your life, making you their servants and achieving their aims at your expense;... your law is the law of the rich and wealthy people.... Behind them stand the Jews, who control your policies, media and economy .... and .... The enmity between us and the Jews goes far back in time and is deep rooted. There is no question that war between the two of us is inevitable.

Kuentzel comments that 'It is astonishing that this undisguised antisemitism has to date received so little attention in discussions about the motives for 9/11'.

Thus, as Kuentzel states: Jihad and Jew-hatred belong together. Approval of antisemitism strengthens jihadist barbarism... The struggle against jihadism therefore requires zero tolerance for antisemitism. Were Jew-hatred to be ostracized, isolated, prosecuted and punished on a global scale, then jihadism would be a thing of the past.

Kuentzel even states that: something comparable to Auschwitz could happen again. However, it is not only Israel that is at stake in the conflicts that lie ahead. Today, Israel is a symbol of otherness and difference. The contrary concept is that of forced homogeneity.... recognition and defence of the Jewish state, or Islamist barbarism - this is the "turning point" which confronts humanity at this moment in history.

As Kuentzel says: Islamic antisemitism is a taboo subject even in some parts of academia. Kuentzel should know. He was banned from Leeds University in March of this year, after being INVITED by that university to give his talk on the links between Nazi ideology and Islamism. He was then invited back in October and the world did not cave in.

More here


The article below tries to look on the bright side but the trend is unmistakeable

Rallies accusing Israel of practicing apartheid may be old hat, but the involvement of Episcopal church leaders gave last weekend's conference in Boston more stature than such gatherings might ordinarily enjoy. The Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts, Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, was a featured speaker at the "Israel-Apartheid" conference, and the Episcopal Divinity School, which trains the church's future leaders, co-sponsored the event.

Some may see this antipathy to the Jewish state and apparent indifference to the suffering Israel has endured as analogous to the Holocaust years, when most Episcopal church leaders were largely indifferent to the suffering of the Jews in Hitler's Europe. But it is important to remember that then, as now, there were also prominent Episcopalians who stood up for the Jews. In England during the 1930s, the Archbishop of Canterbury - leader of the Anglican Church, which was the parent body of America's Episcopal Church - was Rev. Cosmo Gordon Lang, who contended that "the Jews themselves" were to blame for the "excesses of the Nazis." By contrast, Rev. William Temple, who succeeded Lang as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1942, was an outspoken advocate for the Jewish victims of Hitler and did not hesitate to take unpopular positions, such as urging the Allies to grant asylum to all Jewish refugees.

In fact, part of the reason the Roosevelt administration decided in 1943 to hold its sham refugee conference in far-off Bermuda, away from the eyes of the public and media, was because it was worried about "Canterbury giving publicity in the press," as assistant secretary of state Breckinridge Long wrote in his diary. In the US during the Holocaust, most Episcopal leaders, like most leaders of other church denominations, refrained from speaking out about the Jews' plight. But there were important exceptions.

Two Episcopal schools, the General Theological Seminary (New York) and the Berkeley Divinity School (Connecticut) were co-sponsors of an important "Inter-Seminary Conference" which was held in New York City in early 1943 to discuss the Nazi mass murders. Organized by student activists from the Jewish Theological Seminary, the conference was the first significant attempt to rally Jewish and Christian religious opinion in support of rescue.

A number of Episcopal leaders were active in the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe (better known as the Bergson Group), which lobbied for US action to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. Episcopal Bishop Henry St. George Tucker of New York was a featured speaker at its landmark 1943 Emergency Rescue conference. Rev. H.P. Almon Abbot, Rev. Rev. Harry Longley, and Rev. W. Bertrand Stevens, the Episcopal bishops of Kentucky, Iowa, and Los Angeles, respectively, were co-sponsors of the conference. Rev. Stevens also co-sponsored the Los Angeles performance of "We Will Never Die," a theatrical event that the Bergson Group used to raise public awareness of the Holocaust. In the autumn of 1943, the Bergson Group conference initiated a congressional resolution urging creation of a US government agency to rescue Jewish refugees. The Roosevelt administration vigorously opposed the resolution, arguing that nothing could be done to rescue the Jews except to win the war.

In the midst of this battle, eight Christian leaders issued an important statement endorsing the resolution. Among the signatories were two Episcopal bishops - Rev. William Manning of New York and Rev. Thomas Heistand of Harrisburg. Now consider this irony: another signatory was Dr. Angus Dun, dean of the Episcopal Theological College - the former name for the Episcopal Divinity School, which co-sponsored last week's "Israel-Apartheid" conference in Boston. And yet more irony: another of the signatories was Dr. Russell Stafford, Minister of the Old South Church - the same church which hosted the "Israel-Apartheid" conference.

One wonders what Dr. Dun and Dr. Stafford, who spoke out against the abandonment of the Jews in the 1940s, would think about the position their successors have taken today with regard to the Jewish state. It is important to note that Bishop Shaw's antipathy toward Israel has not been adopted by the Episcopal Church as a whole. At the last national Episcopal convention, three resolutions hostile to Israel were brought before the resolutions committee - a committee that was chaired by the aforementioned Bishop Shaw, speaker at the "Israel-Apartheid" conference. Thanks to intense lobbying by Prof. Dennis Hale, an Episcopal lay leader who teaches at Boston College, Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton of Bard College, and Sister Ruth Lautt O.P., a Dominican nun from New York, the resolutions were shelved.

Today, as during the Holocaust, there are those within the Episcopal Church whose positions on issues of Jewish concern have raised troubling questions. But it is clear that there are other voices, as well.



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

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

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


7 November, 2007

'Thought Crimes' bill HR 1955 -- Passed With 404 Votes

This was obviously aimed at Muslims but could be used against almost anybody. Christians beware!

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 1955, titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. It was passed with 404 votes in favor. A close reading within an historical context - keeping especially in mind the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and Presidential Executive Orders, pursuant to which the government has engaged in massive surveillance of its own citizens, as well as detentions, extraordinary renditions, assassinations, and torture - leads me to the following conclusions:

* This is a "Thought Crime" bill of the type so often discussed in an Orwellian context.

* It specifically targets the civilian population of the United States.

* It defines "Violent Radicalization" as promoting any belief system that the government considers to be extremist.

* "Homegrown Terrorism" and "Violent Radicalization" are defined as thought crimes.

* Since the bill does not provide a specific definition of extremist belief system, it will be whatever the government at any given time deems it to be.

A few extracts of the Bill are presented below to show you its tone or "flavor."

"(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system. to advance political, religious, or social change."


"(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens."

"(6) The potential rise of self radicalized, unaffiliated terrorists domestically cannot be easily prevented through traditional Federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts, and requires the incorporation of State and local solutions." Section 899D of the bill establishes a Center for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States. This will be an institution affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security. It will study and determine how to detain thought criminals.....

More here

Lucky Britain reaps the rewards of multiculturalism and mindless tolerance

The new head of security service MI5 has said the number of people involved in terrorist activity in the UK has risen to 2,000 - and that some are as young as 15. Jonathan Evans, in his first public speech since taking the job, called Islamic terrorism the "most immediate and acute peacetime threat" in the 98-year history of MI5. He also said there were as many Russian secret agents in the UK now as during the Cold War.

Referring to Islamic extremism, Mr Evans said: "The more that this ideology spreads in our communities, the harder it will be to maintain the kind of society that the vast majority of us wish to live in. "As I speak terrorists are targeting young people and children in this country. They are radicalising, indoctrinating and grooming young, vulnerable people to carry out acts of terrorism. "This year, we have seen individuals as young as 15 and 16 implicated in terrorist-related activity."

Mr Evans, speaking in Manchester, said a year ago MI5 had identified about 1,600 individuals who posed a "direct threat to national security and public safety". He said: "That figure today would be at least 2,000." He added: "Al Qaeda has a clear determination to mount terrorist attacks against the United Kingdom. This remains the case today, and there is no sign of it reducing." He said there appeared to be an increase in terrorist-related conspiracies being plotted from foreign countries, such as Somalia.

Mr Evans also warned about the number of Russian spies in the UK.


Hating Rudy: The Angry Left finds a new target

They have finally noticed that GWB will not be standing in 2008

"Rudy Giuliani [is] probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency," Sen. Joe Biden declared during Tuesday's Democratic debate in Philadelphia. "There's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11." The crowd roared with laughter, and liberal blogger Josh Marshall wrote, "Okay, I may have to endorse Biden after this tear against Rudy."

With the end of the dreaded Bush era approaching, Rudy Giuliani has slowly begun to supplant the president as the leading hate figure among liberals, a reality that will only help Mr. Giuliani in his efforts to overcome his differences with conservatives and win the Republican nomination.

Within the past month, The New Republic, The Nation and The Washington Monthly have all run anti-Giuliani cover stories, with the last one declaring that, "as president, Giuliani would grab even more executive power than Bush and Cheney." In the Boston Globe, James Carroll wrote of Mr. Giuliani, "He's like a gang leader now, roving the streets, looking for some punk to bash. Iran will do."

This sentiment has dominated liberal blogs, where a general consensus has formed that Mr. Giuliani would be the worst president imaginable. Mr. Giuliani's decision to include neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz on his foreign-policy advisory team has also triggered liberal paranoia about his determination to attack Iran. Lost in all the fuss is the fact that Charles Hill, a Yale professor, is actually Mr. Giuliani's top adviser. What Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Hill have both emphasized is that if America makes it clear that it will not hesitate to use military force, diplomacy has a much more realistic chance of succeeding. Not that this line of reasoning would win over any of his critics on the left.

"If you want to spend enormous amounts of money and kill millions of people in service of policies that will be counterproductive for both democracy and American national security then Rudy's your man," wrote The American Prospect's Scott Lemieux in a post titled "Stop Rudy." Mr. Giuliani's deviations from conservatives don't score him any points among the left, either. Mr. Lemieux's colleague, Dana Goldstein, pleaded with her fellow progressives to "stop calling Rudy Giuliani pro-choice."

The possibility of a Giuliani presidency had the Atlantic's Matthew Yglesias struggling for words: "One thing I'm wrestling with is finding a way to convey how terrified I am of the prospect of a Rudy Giuliani presidency in terms of its impact on our foreign policy." But Talking Point Memo's Mr. Marshall comes close to best explaining why Mr. Giuliani is worse than Mitt Romney. "I know I've said before that Romney's profound and almost incalculable phoniness is a terrifying prospect to behold in a possible president. But the danger of phoniness, aesthetic or otherwise, cannot hold a candle to the truly catastrophic foreign policy Giuliani would likely pursue if he got anywhere near the Oval Office," Mr. Marshall wrote.

The Giuliani hate fest has also infiltrated the airwaves, where Keith Olbermann has made bashing Rudy a daily feature on his show. Last Monday, an Olbermann segment entitled "Rudy Giuliani: The next Dick Cheney?" was about Mr. Giuliani's penchant for "secrecy" and "proclivity for executive power..." This was followed up on Tuesday with a segment that began with a graphic featuring Mr. Giuliani, President Bush in the background and the words "Bush on Steroids"--a reference to John Edwards's comment that Mr. Giuliani shares Mr. Bush's love of "crony capitalism."

The segment revealed, just as with Mr. Bush, the media have no problem broadcasting factual errors when targeting Mr. Giuliani. Mr. Olbermann misquoted Mr. Giuliani as saying that Democrats wanted to invite Osama bin Laden to the White House. In actuality, Mr. Giuliani didn't say Osama, he said Assad, as in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one of the leaders whom Barack Obama did in fact say he would be willing to meet with in Washington with no preconditions within the first year of his administration. Making the incident even more absurd, Mr. Olbermann ran the video clip of Mr. Giuliani's remarks on his show, and it was clear that Mr. Giuliani said "Assad." How clear? The transcript appearing on the official MSNBC Web site for Mr. Olbermann's show had Mr. Giuliani saying "Assad" in the video clip.

Nevertheless, Mr. Olbermann asked his guest Arianna Huffington to comment on whether the former mayor was being hyperbolic or lying. "Well, he's lying and also every day he reveals more and more of himself," Ms. Huffington said. "And you can see that he really has the soul of a thug and the disposition of a tyrant." Ms. Huffington repeated the false Giuliani-Osama quote, and later in the interview, she added: "He's kind of channeling Rush Limbaugh. He's making the lunatic fringe mainstream." And Mr. Olbermann wondered, "Has it reached a level yet where we should be considering examining whether or not this is compulsive lying that there is something endemic to [Giuliani]? Or [is] this specific purpose-driven lies?"

One might ask the same about Mr. Olbermann. Even though the Associated Press issued a correction to its story that misquoted Mr. Giuliani following a report on AmSpecBlog, as of this writing, Mr. Olbermann has not corrected his erroneous segment. His spokeswoman did not return three calls or an email sent from The American Spectator asking whether the news channel planned to correct the error, and if not, to explain its corrections policy.

The irony, of course, is that the more vocal, vicious and unfounded the liberal attacks on Mr. Giuliani become, the easier it is for him to make his case to conservative primary voters that they agree on a lot more than they disagree. Mr. Giuliani has often cited his liberal foes to burnish his own conservative credentials. "I find it difficult understanding those who try to make me out as an activist for liberal causes," Mr. Giuliani said at his recent speech to the Family Research Council's Value Voters Summit. "If you think that, just read any New York Times editorial while I was mayor of New York City."

For a long time, Mr. Giuliani's liberal adversaries from New York were convinced that there was no way he could win the Republican nomination, but as it has become a more realistic possibility, their worries have grown. "It's totally unbelievable," Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.), lamented in the New York Observer of Mr. Giuliani's resilience in the presidential race. "I refuse to believe that this could possibly happen to our country. I have too much confidence in our country to believe that this could really happen." With enemies like Mr. Rangel, does Mr. Giuliani need friends?



By Jeff Jacoby

At a White House ceremony tomorrow President Bush will honor eight distinguished men and women with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award. Among the recipients will be the longtime civil rights activist Benjamin Hooks; Harper Lee, author of the much-loved novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird"; Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected president of an African nation; and C-SPAN's founder and president, Brian Lamb.

One of the honorees, however, will not be there. Instead of joining the president amid the pomp and finery of the White House, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet will spend the day locked in a fetid cell in the Combinado del Este prison in Havana, where he is serving a 25-year prison sentence for speaking out against Fidel Castro's dictatorship.

Peter Kirsanow, a member of the US Commission on Civil Rights, has written that the conditions of Biscet's incarceration are like something out of Victor Hugo: "windowless and suffocating, with wretched sanitary conditions. The stench seeping from the pit in the ground that serves as a toilet is intensified by being compressed into an unventilated cell only as wide as a broom closet. . . . Biscet reportedly suffers from osteoarthritis, ulcers, and hypertension. His teeth, those that haven't fallen out, are rotted and infected."

A pro-life Christian physician, Biscet first ran afoul of the Castro regime in the 1990s, when he investigated Cuban abortion techniques -- Cuba has by far the highest abortion rates in the Western Hemisphere -- and revealed that numerous infants had been killed after being delivered alive. In 1997, he began the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, which seeks "to establish in Cuba a state based on the rule of law" and "sustained upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Between June 1998 and November 1999 he was arrested 26 times; in 1999, he was sentenced to three years in prison for "disrespecting patriotic symbols." To protest the regime's repression, he had hung a Cuban flag upside down.

For decades, various American journalists and celebrities have rhapsodized about Castro's supposed island paradise, resolutely ignoring the mountains of evidence that it is in reality a tropical dungeon. Intent on seeing Castro as a revolutionary hero and Cuba as Shangri-la, they avert their gaze from the island's genuine heroes -- the prisoners of conscience like Biscet, who pay a fearful price for their insistence on telling the truth.

The US detention center in Guantanamo Bay is sometimes spoken of as if it were a Caribbean concentration camp, but the only facilities that deserve such a label are hellholes like Combinado del Este, in which Biscet and so many other Cuban dissidents have been brutally abused -- or worse. Over the years, life in Castro's gulag has been well-chronicled. The classic narrative is Armando Valladares's Against All Hope, a stark and searing memoir, first published in 1985, of the author's 22 years in Cuba's horrific prisons. The newest account of life as a Cuban political prisoner is Fighting Castro: A Love Story, Kay Abella's affecting and inspiring saga of one Cuban couple's love for each other and for their homeland, and the cruelties, large and petty, inflicted on those who challenge the regime.

For Lino Fernandez, a young physician who pays for his democratic resistance with 17 years behind bars, those cruelties are sadistic and often bloody. Abella describes, for example, what it was like to experience a requisa -- a search by armed prison guards -- in the notorious round fortress on Isla de Pinos: "The roar of the invading horde . . . viciously beating men unarmed and weak from malnutrition and confinement. A screaming mass of soldiers swarming over the circular, stabbing with bayonets, crushing limbs with truncheons and rubber-wrapped chains. The panic of no place to hide, knowing you'll be beaten harder for trying to protect yourself, stomped on for clinging to a pillar or rail, thrown down the stairs for daring to hesitate. . . . The indignity of men whining, begging, whimpering before a skull is cracked, a shoulder yanked from its socket, genitals smashed with the gun butt."

For the families of political prisoners, the cruelties come in other forms, such as the humiliating strip-searches on the rare occasions when a prison visit is permitted, or the pressure put on children to demonstrate loyalty to the Communist Party that has imprisoned their father. And there is economic privation: Oscar Biscet's wife, Elsa Morejon, is a trained nurse, but she has been barred from holding a professional job in Cuba since 1998.

The conscience and courage of these dissidents are nothing short of extraordinary. "During these years here in prison," Biscet wrote to Elsa in a letter smuggled out of prison earlier this year, "I have seen shameful things that I am unable to describe to you in words because of their perversity and their attack on . . . civilized society. Despite this difficult situation I am not intimidated nor do I take any step backwards in my mind. . . . I will carry out this unjust sentence until the most high God puts an end to it."


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

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

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


6 November, 2007

A rare backdown from bigoted Britain

Wow! Christian values can be tolerated after all! They might even get as much respect as Islamic values eventually. Publicity works: Christian Couple no Longer Required to Promote Homosexuality in Fostering Children

Vincent and Pauline Matherick are the Christian couple in Somerset who chose to retire from fostering needy children rather than bow to the Somerset county council's demand that they promote the homosexual lifestyle. After a media generated international uproar over their situation, they have been invited back by the council and have had their religious objections recognised. The couple met with council officials on Wednesday and today were told they could continue fostering and would not have to "promote homosexuality". "It's good news and we're very pleased," Mr Matherick said. "This is a blessing and I must thank the media, and particularly the Daily Mail, for their help in highlighting the issue."

Somerset council officials said in a statement that the couple "have no problem in signing Somerset's Equalities Promise, which includes an expectation not to discriminate unfairly for reasons of sex, marital status, caring responsibilities or sexual orientation." "We all agree that the welfare of children is paramount. It is absolutely vital that people come forward as foster carers." The council's statement admitted that the incident "may have damaged the image of fostering at a time when vulnerable children need caring homes."

A spokesman for the couple said the council had agreed to recognise their convictions and conscientious objections. "The Mathericks hope now to continue to foster children as before."

Andrea Williams of Christian Concern For Our Nation said: "This is a significant step forward for Christian freedoms in that the Council has agreed not to force Mr. and Mrs. Matherick to act against their Christian beliefs. This should be of enormous encouragement to all Christians who want to take up the important role of caring for vulnerable children."

The Mathericks are ministers in the non-conformist South Chard Christian Church and when their 11 year-old foster son David was removed from their home, he had asked to be allowed to continue attending their Sunday school. The Mathericks had insisted that they had never "discriminated" against anyone for any reason, but that they could not agree to the council's "equality statement" because it amounted to promotion of homosexuality, which would be a violation of their Christian beliefs and conscience. Mr Matherick said, "I cannot preach the benefits of homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God."

As a result of their decision, the council removed their 11 year-old foster son David and placed him in a council-owned facility. The Mathericks had cared for 28 children in their home since 2001 and were described as ideal foster carers. The "equality" agreement had required them to tell their foster children that homosexuality was the equivalent to natural sexuality and to discuss "gay dating" practices with them. They had been told that they would be required to take children to homosexual support groups if the child "expressed an interest" in homosexuality.

The Somerset council refused to discuss the matter until the case became public in the national papers and internationally on LifeSiteNews.com.


Naughty Dalai Lama

While it is little known and seldom heard, Buddhism, like Catholicism opposes homosexual acts as "sexual misconduct". With all the North American media giving attention to the Dalai Lama during his current visit and his upcoming visit with Pope Benedict XVI, it is a good time to draw attention to his views on homosexual relations. The media harp on the Pope's views on homosexuality, yet have remained relatively silent on a very similar position held by the leader of the world's Buddhists.

In an interview with the Vancouver Sun in 2004, the Buddhist leader was questioned about homosexuality to which he replied, "For a Buddhist, the same sex, that is sexual misconduct."

The Dalai Lama elaborated, "they use the mouth and the anus, this is sexual misconduct in Buddhism." He also noted that the restrictions on sexual activity applied even outside the homosexual context to heterosexual and even married couples. "Even as (sic) a heterosexual context. Even if one uses one's own hand this is sexual misconduct. So if you are a genuine believer, then you must avoid this," he said.

The stance is very similar to that of the Catholic Church which similarly forbids homosexual sex, and even within heterosexual marriage insists that sexual acts remain open to life thus forbidding anal and oral sex and masturbation where ejaculation occurs outside the vagina.

There is a key difference however in the approach of the two religions regarding sexuality. Buddhism, according to the Dalai Lama, has one set of beliefs for its members and a totally different set of beliefs for non-members. "I have two letters, one letter is as a religious believer, I think that we should follow according to one's holy teachings," explained the Buddhist leader. "If you are a non-believer," he continued, "then two persons male or female, they get maximum joy through this technique, they do not create violence, (laughs). One thing I would like to express, sometimes due to that kind of behaviour there is discrimination in jobs, or within the family this creates some problem purely based on that sexual reason, - if people discriminate based on sexual orientation, that is extreme and it is wrong. Whether same sex marriage is OK or not is dependent upon each country's law."

Questioned by Sun reporter Douglas Todd on whether same sex 'marriage' was a big deal, the Dalai Lama replied, "Even the whole concept of marriage is particular to a particular society and their unity, so whether or not homosexual couples should be accorded a marriage status, should really be dealt within that particular community and country."

Therein lies a stark difference with Catholicism as successive Popes (and other Christian leaders who teach traditional Christian moral principles) have not spoken of sexual teachings as restricted to Catholics or other Christians, but for the good of all humanity. The Popes thus propose God's plan for human sexuality as a reality stamped in the human heart, the human psyche and the human soul regardless of religious belief or non-belief.


Gertrude Himmelfarb and Victorian values

Deep in the hinterland of Gordon Brown's intellect is a protected zone dedicated to a woman who has been dubbed the queen bee of American neoconservatives. It is Gertrude Himmelfarb's books that he packs for his holiday reading, her quotations that embellish his speeches. The prime minister has now taken the final step of recording his adoration in print. Himmelfarb is an 85-year-old historian and former Trotskyite who acts as the mother superior of America's moral majority. Her advocacy of Victorian values to remedy the western world's "grievous moral disorder" has struck a chord on both sides of the Atlantic ever since the era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

These days, George W Bush pays court to Himmelfarb with invitations to impart the lessons of history at White House soir‚es, while Brown has agreed to pen the introduction to her next book. This reprints her 2004 work The Roads to Modernity, which argues for the rehabilitation of British enlightenment and informed the prime minister's recent speech on liberty at the University of Westminster.

Himmelfarb, known to friends as Bea, is the matriarch of a family that has been making the political weather in America for four decades. Her husband, Irving Kristol, is a journalist and essayist known as the godfather of neoconservatism. Their son, William, who earned the nickname "Dan Quayle's brain" when chief of staff to George Bush Sr's hapless vice-president, edits the Weekly Standard and is chairman of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century. "No family has had a greater impact on today's conservatism than the Kristols," said The New Yorker magazine.

The woman with whom Brown is intellectually smitten is small, fine-featured and soft-spoken, her mind undimmed by age. "She has a very wry sense of humour," said a friend. "She'll poke a statement you make to find what's in it, but in a funny way. Part of her power is the contrast between her slight physical appearance and gentle voice on the one hand, and the extraordinary intellect she brings to bear."

Brown received the book that became his crib from Irwin Stelzer, the economist and Sunday Times columnist, who is a close friend of Himmelfarb. "My wife and I have been exchanging books with Gordon for some time," he recalled. "He gave me half a dozen books on what he liked to call the Scottish enlightenment, so I thought he ought to see Bea's book, which she had sent me. He was very taken with it." Stelzer believes that the Victorian value of individual responsibility strongly appeals to Brown: "But the parts that don't appeal to him are to do with private action rather than state action." In fact, Stelzer admits, Brown's embrace of Himmelfarb's work exposes "a massive contradiction". This did not stop him inviting her to Downing Street when he was chancellor, nor offering to throw the launch party for her new volume at No 10.

Himmelfarb and Kristol enjoy a busy social life at the Watergate complex overlooking the Potomac River in Washington, dining with friends three or four times a week. The walls of their spacious apartment are lined with books and prints, including portraits of the English poets Chaucer and Pope. After 65 years of marriage, the couple retain the aura of a bride and groom. Charles Krauthammer, the conservative commentator, has described their marriage as "one of the great intellectual partnerships and one of the great love stories of our time". According to Stelzer's wife Cita: "When we drop them off after dinner, they automatically hold hands. It's very touching."

Himmelfarb's scholarship on the Victorian era provides the intellectual ballast for conservative writers, among whose ranks she represents a daunting presence. "When we're writing something, it's as if she's perched on your shoulder because her research standards are so high," said Stelzer. "You think, what will she think when she sees this sentence?" However, her emphasis on the virtues of individual responsibility and religion drive American liberals up the wall. Praise for the verve and clarity of her writing is balanced by a desire among some critics to savage her ideas. One wrote of her 1999 book One Nation, Two Cultures that she manifested the intellect of "the village biddy who sticks her blue nose into everyone else's business, offering opinions nobody asked for about how everybody else should live".

Simon Jenkins confessed in his review for The Sunday Times of Himmelfarb's last work, The Moral Imagination, that he "frequently hurled this book across the room in frustration". He said yesterday: "She's a most accomplished writer, but I thought the book was absurd and partisan. The Victorians were ruthless, cynical and dishonest, whereas she has this idea that it was a golden age. Gordon Brown's adoption of her is ludicrous, although you can see that her rose-tinted version of the past could be quite useful to the son of a manse."

Himmelfarb's own past was not so rosy. She grew up in what she described as a respectable but poor Jewish family living in Brooklyn, New York; her parents had emigrated from Russia just before the first world war. She was not an observant Jew, although she later took night courses in Hebrew literature and described Jews as exemplars of Victorian values in late 19th-century London. She was a teenage Trotskyite when she met Kristol. The group they joined "had a very exalted title like the Fourth International", she recalled. "It could have been comfortably contained in a telephone booth." It was antiStalinist and passionately intellectual: "We really read Marx. We didn't just bandy around slogans. We argued vigorously."

After graduating from Brooklyn College, she moved to the University of Chicago, attracted by its "very hothousy kind of intellectual atmosphere". Married as an undergraduate in 1942, she had no career plans when her husband left to serve with the US infantry in Europe. At Chicago she studied under Louis Gottschalk, a distinguished scholar of the French revolution, but it was her dissertation on Lord Acton, the English historian, that launched her literary career in 1952. Acton hooked her on Victorian England. She was able to delve deeper in London, where her husband founded the literary magazine Encounter with the poet Stephen Spender in 1953 and remained its editor for five years. She took up a fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge. When they returned to New York she settled in for a long stint teaching at City University.

She and Kristol were typical of many neoconservatives, a term coined to describe a group of largely New York intellectuals who turned from left-wing causes towards the right during the late 1960s and 1970s. The catalyst was the insurgency of 1960s counter-culture. The liberal left had surrendered to an unholy alliance of Marx, anti-intellectualism, drugs and violence. The new culture, she believed, spread rapidly because it was easy to adopt: "Virtues are hard. Vices are easy to come by." The target of the counter-culture was the Establishment, which capitulated and jettisoned its self-discipline.

In the final stage of their conversion, the neocons became celebrants of American capitalism and traditional values. For many, that meant attacking affirmative action and feminism. Himmelfarb has deplored mothers of young children who go to work. Instead, she contended, society should aspire to a moral climate where motherhood and domesticity are "as respectable a calling as the profession of law or the practice of business".

She has certainly never held back her strong views. She has voiced fears that "the frenzy of intermarriage" would produce "a point of diminishing returns, where you no longer have a critical mass of Jews - that's to say, enough people to reinforce your own convictions". She described as "spousal abuse" John Bayley's book detailing the dementia of his wife Iris Murdoch. Yet Himmelfarb has a huge following among the young.

"She provokes the liberal left a great deal," said Stelzer. "The left is collectivist and secular, whereas all her writing is geared towards the virtues of individual responsibility and a role for religion in public life." For Brown watchers, it will be fascinating to observe how his moral compass registers the conflict between his heroine's Victorian precepts and the pressing demands of government



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

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

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


5 November, 2007

Crazy ethnic mixing plan in Britain

How would YOU like a crime-prone group to be moved in next door to you?

Ethnic minority families will be moved in large groups on to "unwelcoming" all-white council estates under controversial guidelines from a Government agency. The Housing Corporation claims that Asian or black tenants may be less likely to face racism if they are transferred in numbers. The recommendation is included in a book of guidelines for councils and housing associations on how to create racial harmony. [Talk about theory flying in the face of the facts! This is just hatred of the working class]

Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, warned last week of a public perception that "white families are cheated out of their right to social housing by newly arrived migrants". He called for an independent inquiry to establish the truth.

The new plan was criticised by politicians on all sides who claimed that it could stir up racial tensions and be exploited by the far Right. Jon Cruddas, a Labour MP who has fought against the racist British National Party in his Dagenham constituency, said: "If there's a sense that housing allocations are being racialised, that might reinforce the message that the BNP are putting out, and lead to the perception of queue-jumping. "I'm not sure how effective this would be in terms of diluting tensions - it might serve to do precisely the opposite."

The Housing Corporation, which hands out 2 billion pounds a year of public money for the construction of new social housing, endorses the "group lettings" policy in a book of guidelines published this month, Community cohesion and housing - a good practice guide. The book, published with the Chartered Institute for Housing, says that such measures may be needed "when a 'white' estate is unwelcoming to newcomers but has larger properties that should be accessible to all those in need". The solution, it suggests, is to make an exception to the normal rules in order to ensure that "households from a particular minority move to the same area at about the same time".

The recommendation comes despite an admission by the book's authors, John Perry and Bob Blackaby, that white people already feel that housing allocation is biased against them. A Government survey in 2005 found that 21 per cent of white respondents believed they would be treated unfavourably because of their race, compared with only 13 per cent of ethnic minority respondents.

Group lettings were first proposed in the 1980s but have been tried in only a handful of areas. The backing of the Housing Corporation could make their use more widespread. Professor Ted Cantle recommended group lettings in his report on the Oldham riots in 2001, but the policy was never adopted in the town.

Rod Blyth, Liberal Democrat spokesman for community cohesion on Oldham council, said: "I think group lettings could provoke worse community relations. The far Right would certainly pick up on it and exploit it. I think people in Oldham realised after the riots that there's no quick fix."

Grant Shapps, the Conservative shadow housing minister, said: "I think we would all support the notion of mixed communities, but well-meaning attempts at social engineering often have unintended consequences and can backfire badly."

However, Prof Cantle insisted that group lettings could work so long as housing chiefs worked closely with white communities to prepare the ground. He said: "Most of the people in these communities are reasonable, but often there's a few thug-like families who are completely unreasonable and they have to be isolated. If you try to do it without the co-operation of the community, you will just get accusations of political correctness and social engineering."


Kids do need to toughen up

GIVEN children no longer play unsupervised any more, is it time we started to grow them in hothouses like plants? That way it will be easier to keep them fed and watered - all safely under the one roof and doting parents can watch them flourish via CCTV. Playing a game of street cricket or, god forbid, climbing a tree in a suburban park are childhood joys as extinct these days as the Tasmanian tiger.

To some, letting your kids play outside is considered a sign of neglect. While animal rights activists rant about the physical, cognitive and social problems other species suffer as a result of being bred in captivity, few seem fussed that's how we now raise our children.

So it was with great delight to read the latest book by one of the world's most respected writers and thinkers on childhood, whose work focuses on schoolyard behaviour and children's play. A former adviser to the British government, Tim Gill believes children have the potential to be more resilient, capable, creative and able to learn than we give them credit for. Yet their lives are becoming ever more scheduled, controlled and directed.

In his book No Fear: Growing up in a risk averse society, Gill said children needed to be teased and called names so they can toughen up. I'm sure this will shock many parents. He also says the level of playground bullying is being exaggerated and teachers and parents are over-reacting to it and over-intervening.

In particular, he singles out Australian schools and safety programs, which have banned such games as "chasey" or "tag" in the playground because students could become "rough". "Banning these playground favourites undermines childhood itself," he said this week. "Activities and experiences that previous generations enjoyed without a second thought have been relabelled as troubling or dangerous, while adults who still permit them are branded as irresponsible."

Let's be clear. Gill is not talking about systemic bullying where pupils are physically assaulted and/or threatened with violence (either personally or via new technology) or even the emotional abuse as seen in the film Mean Girls. He is referring to spats, which are all part of growing up. "I have spoken to teachers and educational psychologists who say that parents and children are labelling as bullying over what are actually minor fallings-out," he says. "Children are not always nice to each other, but people are not always nice to each other. The world is not like that. (But) what we are left with is a generation of bubblewrap children who will be unable to cope with similar squabbles in adult life." How often do you see adults, particularly parents, step in when they see children falling out or arguing?

I agree with Gill. We have to let children figure some things out for themselves. How else will they cope when adults? I contacted a number of academics who are regularly quoted as experts on bullying, but none wanted to respond. Gill also related an incident in which his nine-year-old daughter complained she was being bullied after three boys teased her about a game she was playing in the park. "What struck me was the use of the word `bullying' to describe that," he said. "Bullying is where the victimisation is sustained and there is a power imbalance. I don't mean we should allow cruelty, just that one option is asking, `Can you sort it out yourself?' "

While much of Gill's research is based on UK statistics, given the cultural similarities it makes for interesting findings. He says, while there is a widely held view children are now left more to their own devices now than even the "latchkey child" of old, kids today actually spend about four times as much time being looked after by their parents as children did in 1975. And with "after-school care" children's lives are actually more controlled than ever.

This, of course, comes down to fear. Parents fear that their child will be abducted. So this excessive fear of strangers reinforces a norm of parenting that equates being a good parent with being a controlling parent. This is not to say children are never abducted by strangers, but when you look at statistics, the murder of a child by someone they don't know is among the rarest of crimes. Most crimes against children and committed by members of their family. Obviously, giving your children freedom and ensuring their safety is a hard juggling act - but we shouldn't have to give up the first in order to achieve the second.


Britain: Popularity of hunting with dogs defies ban

Two years after the hated ban, hunting is more popular - and more colourful - than ever. So, have hunts learned to live with the law, and exactly how long can they endure the status quo?

Luna, the European eagle owl, stares at me with luminous brown eyes, swivels her head, then nips Jordan Ross's finger. Ross is the "countryman" of the Avon Vale Hunt. (He might once have been known as a terrierman, but using terriers, still legal in some circumstances, is a b^te noire of the anti-hunt lobby.)

As well as preparing the land for hunting, he acts as hunt falconer. Luna and other birds of prey have become another colourful adjunct of foxhunting, alongside red coats, horns and foxy language. Luna has yet to catch a fox, but to Jonathon Seed, joint master of the Avon Vale, that is immaterial. "Legally, hounds can be used to flush any wild mammal towards hawks and owls. The Hunting Act doesn't say they have to be foxes."

Welcome to the mad world of foxhunting, on its first big weekend of 2007. Hunting has always been unintelligible to outsiders, involving almost as much risk to participants as to their quarry. Ian Farquhar, revered joint master of the Beaufort, says that he has broken every bone in his body, from ankle to neck, during 32 years in - or out of - the saddle. This summer, he broke six ribs. But the sport, arcane at the best of times, has become even more bonkers since the Hunting Act came into force in February 2005.

Against expectations, hunting has been able to continue, legally for the most part, with little difference in style. As Simon Hart, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, puts it, "most people would find this season's sport quite difficult to differentiate from old-fashioned hunting". It is more popular than ever. "It's a bit like prohibition," declares Seed. "If you want to make something popular, ban it." No hunt has closed since 2005; two have been started. "A lot of people came out at a time of controversy and decided they liked it," says Farquhar.

The threat of extinction through lack of subscriptions forced hunts to become more welcoming, and websites have given them a new means to promote their sport. Contrary to what some of the MPs who spent 700 hours debating the Hunting Act may have intended, the ban has made hunting more fun.

Part of the charm of hunting a live fox was unpredictability: a day of furious activity might be followed by one of standing in the rain, waiting for hounds to find a scent. But hunts which set off in pursuit of a scent trail that they laid themselves can guarantee a gallop across good riding country.

What happens once hounds are away from roads and footpaths is a matter of speculation. It is only a crime to hunt foxes intentionally. But, as Farquhar notes inscrutably, "there have been accidents". Nobody would be rash enough to speak on record, but it might be supposed that in some hunts, away from the public eye, the "accidental" hunting of foxes takes place more often than might seem statistically probable. It would be difficult to prove.

There have been more than 30,000 days of hunting since 2005; the League Against Cruel Sports has secured 20 convictions under the Hunting Act, only three of them relating to the activities of established hunts. More people have been convicted for hunting rats than foxes.

Just as hunting looks strangely like its former self, so the League Against Cruel Sports' monitors - though their activities, too, are perfectly legal - can look like the old saboteurs. Curtis Thompson, the Avon Vale's kennel huntsman and whipper-in, is often pursued by a posse blowing horns and spraying citronella to put hounds off the scent. "They ought to keep to the footpaths but don't seem to know where they are. I saw one reading the map upside down the other day."

Police seem more concerned to prevent clashes between "monitors" and hunt staff than to follow hunts lest they breach the Act. Hunting offences do not count towards their targets. The frustration of the anti-hunt lobby is apparent in the proposal made by Ann Widdecombe on the Today programme last week, by which League Against Cruel Sports monitors would be contracted as evidence-gatherers for the police.

Before 2005, the hunting world feared that its infrastructure would be dismantled after the ban. "One of the things we do feel very strongly about," says Farquhar, "is keeping the continuity of the pack going and keeping the bloodlines." With records going back through 55 generations of hound until 1743, the Beaufort hounds must be "the most chronicled animals in the world". A mass of caramel and cream backs leap up at him as he enters the kennel. "They are the most charming animals," he declares. "Very brave, very kind, very loving - the most lovely dogs to work with: tough as old boots and straight as a die." Once dispersed - or shot - a pack of this kind could never be reconstituted. Before 2005, there were particular fears for smaller hunts. But subscribers have not fallen away. Money still comes in through the hunt balls, point to points, ferret races, skittles evenings and darts matches.

Everyone in hunting is buoyed up by David Cameron's commitment to repeal the Hunting Act if the Tories gain power. This gives hope that some limit will be set to the present period of adversity. It could not be endured indefinitely. "In the long term, the determination of the hunt community would begin to wane," admits Farquhar. Although the Avon Vale employs the 16-year-old Callum Walsh as a trainee whipper-in, there is concern in other quarters than too few young people are entering hunt service.

Hunts in the West Country have been more severely disrupted than others in England and Wales. While stag hunts have been able to keep going by using couples of hounds in relay, rather than a full pack, flushing deer towards guns, the law is framed more tightly against them. Last month, a judge upheld a conviction against Richard Down, huntsman, and Adrian Pillivant, whipper-in for the Quantock Staghounds, at Taunton Crown Court.

I catch Ann Mallalieu, QC, life peer and president of the Countryside Alliance, on her mobile just as she has mounted her horse for a day with the Devon and Somerset. "Prosecutions are not a victory for the League," she maintains, "because they only convince people down here of the absurdity of the law.

"There is no other casualty service for deer, other than the hunts. They have continued to provide one, and to manage the deer herd by reducing its numbers. But a lot more farmers have been shooting deer since the Act." Research by the Exmoor and District Deer Management Society Consensus has revealed a 20 per cent decrease in deer numbers in 2006 against a trend of steady rises over the previous decade.

This is the great irony of the Act: it has led to the shooting of more deer and foxes. Farmers and landowners no longer have a reason to tolerate animals that destroy crops, lambs or pheasant chicks. Stag hunting targets deer that are old, sick or weak, improving the quality of the herd. According to Farquhar, foxhunting before the Act would also "catch the sick, lame or lazy". Stag hunts are still called upon to kill wounded deer, on welfare grounds; but it is much more difficult to bring a wounded animal to bay using two hounds than a full pack.

In 1885, the Duke of Beaufort, introducing the hunting volume in the Badminton Sporting Library, feared that a sport "denounced with so much eloquence and energy" could not continue. Nearly a century and a quarter afterwards, this iconic British activity has simply become more eccentric. Tally-ho



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

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

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


4 November, 2007

What the New Atheists Don't See

Theodore Dalrymple rightly says below that to regret religion is to regret Western civilization. I would add that it is to regret humanity -- for religion is in fact one of the things that distinguishes man from animals. One has to feel rather sorry for the hate-filled atheists Dalrymple discusses below. Atheism should be a relaxed and tolerant state. It certainly is with me and with the conservative atheists that I know

The British parliament's first avowedly atheist member, Charles Bradlaugh, would stride into public meetings in the 1880s, take out his pocket watch, and challenge God to strike him dead in 60 seconds. God bided his time, but got Bradlaugh in the end. A slightly later atheist, Bertrand Russell, was once asked what he would do if it proved that he was mistaken and if he met his maker in the hereafter. He would demand to know, Russell replied with all the high-pitched fervor of his pedantry, why God had not made the evidence of his existence plainer and more irrefutable. And Beckett came up with a memorable line: "God doesn't exist-the bastard!"

Beckett's wonderful outburst of disappointed rage suggests that it is not as easy as one might suppose to rid oneself of the notion of God. (Perhaps this is the time to declare that I am not myself a believer.) At the very least, Beckett's line implies that God's existence would solve some kind of problem-actually, a profound one: the transcendent purpose of human existence. Few of us, especially as we grow older, are entirely comfortable with the idea that life is full of sound and fury but signifies nothing. However much philosophers tell us that it is illogical to fear death, and that at worst it is only the process of dying that we should fear, people still fear death as much as ever. In like fashion, however many times philosophers say that it is up to us ourselves, and to no one else, to find the meaning of life, we continue to long for a transcendent purpose immanent in existence itself, independent of our own wills. To tell us that we should not feel this longing is a bit like telling someone in the first flush of love that the object of his affections is not worthy of them. The heart hath its reasons that reason knows not of.

Of course, men-that is to say, some men-have denied this truth ever since the Enlightenment, and have sought to find a way of life based entirely on reason. Far as I am from decrying reason, the attempt leads at best to Gradgrind and at worst to Stalin. Reason can never be the absolute dictator of man's mental or moral economy.

The search for the pure guiding light of reason, uncontaminated by human passion or metaphysical principles that go beyond all possible evidence, continues, however; and recently, an epidemic rash of books has declared success, at least if success consists of having slain the inveterate enemy of reason, namely religion. The philosophers Daniel Dennett, A. C. Grayling, Michel Onfray, and Sam Harris, biologist Richard Dawkins, and journalist and critic Christopher Hitchens have all written books roundly condemning religion and its works. Evidently, there is a tide in the affairs, if not of men, at least of authors.

The curious thing about these books is that the authors often appear to think that they are saying something new and brave. They imagine themselves to be like the intrepid explorer Sir Richard Burton, who in 1853 disguised himself as a Muslim merchant, went to Mecca, and then wrote a book about his unprecedented feat. The public appears to agree, for the neo-atheist books have sold by the hundred thousand. Yet with the possible exception of Dennett's, they advance no argument that I, the village atheist, could not have made by the age of 14 (Saint Anselm's ontological argument for God's existence gave me the greatest difficulty, but I had taken Hume to heart on the weakness of the argument from design).

I first doubted God's existence at about the age of nine. It was at the school assembly that I lost my faith. We had been given to understand that if we opened our eyes during prayers God would depart the assembly hall. I wanted to test this hypothesis. Surely, if I opened my eyes suddenly, I would glimpse the fleeing God? What I saw instead, it turned out, was the headmaster, Mr. Clinton, intoning the prayer with one eye closed and the other open, with which he beadily surveyed the children below for transgressions. I quickly concluded that Mr. Clinton did not believe what he said about the need to keep our eyes shut. And if he did not believe that, why should I believe in his God? In such illogical leaps do our beliefs often originate, to be disciplined later in life (if we receive enough education) by elaborate rationalization.

Dennett's Breaking the Spell is the least bad-tempered of the new atheist books, but it is deeply condescending to all religious people. Dennett argues that religion is explicable in evolutionary terms-for example, by our inborn human propensity, at one time valuable for our survival on the African savannahs, to attribute animate agency to threatening events.

For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favor, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations-and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true.

One striking aspect of Dennett's book is his failure to avoid the language of purpose, intention, and ontological moral evaluation, despite his fierce opposition to teleological views of existence: the coyote's "methods of locomotion have been ruthlessly optimized for efficiency." Or: "The stinginess of Nature can be seen everywhere we look." Or again: "This is a good example of Mother Nature's stinginess in the final accounting combined with absurd profligacy in the methods." I could go on, but I hope the point is clear. (And Dennett is not alone in this difficulty: Michel Onfray's Atheist Manifesto, so rich in errors and inexactitudes that it would take a book as long as his to correct them, says on its second page that religion prevents mankind from facing up to "reality in all its naked cruelty." But how can reality have any moral quality without having an immanent or transcendent purpose?)

No doubt Dennett would reply that he is writing in metaphors for the layman and that he could translate all his statements into a language without either moral evaluation or purpose included in it. Perhaps he would argue that his language is evidence that the spell still has a hold over even him, the breaker of the spell for the rest of humanity. But I am not sure that this response would be psychologically accurate. I think Dennett's use of the language of evaluation and purpose is evidence of a deep-seated metaphysical belief (however caused) that Providence exists in the universe, a belief that few people, confronted by the mystery of beauty and of existence itself, escape entirely. At any rate, it ill behooves Dennett to condescend to those poor primitives who still have a religious or providential view of the world: a view that, at base, is no more refutable than Dennett's metaphysical faith in evolution.

Dennett is not the only new atheist to employ religious language. In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins quotes with approval a new set of Ten Commandments for atheists, which he obtained from an atheist website, without considering odd the idea that atheists require commandments at all, let alone precisely ten of them; nor does their metaphysical status seem to worry him. The last of the atheist's Ten Commandments ends with the following: "Question everything." Everything? Including the need to question everything, and so on ad infinitum?

Not to belabor the point, but if I questioned whether George Washington died in 1799, I could spend a lifetime trying to prove it and find myself still, at the end of my efforts, having to make a leap, or perhaps several leaps, of faith in order to believe the rather banal fact that I had set out to prove. Metaphysics is like nature: though you throw it out with a pitchfork, yet it always returns. What is confounded here is surely the abstract right to question everything with the actual exercise of that right on all possible occasions. Anyone who did exercise his right on all possible occasions would wind up a short-lived fool.

This sloppiness and lack of intellectual scruple, with the assumption of certainty where there is none, combined with adolescent shrillness and intolerance, reach an apogee in Sam Harris's book The End of Faith. It is not easy to do justice to the book's nastiness; it makes Dawkins's claim that religious education constitutes child abuse look sane and moderate.

Harris tells us, for example, that "we must find our way to a time when faith, without evidence, disgraces anyone who would claim it. Given the present state of the world, there appears to be no other future worth wanting." I am glad that I am old enough that I shall not see the future of reason as laid down by Harris; but I am puzzled by the status of the compulsion in the first sentence that I have quoted. Is Harris writing of a historical inevitability? Of a categorical imperative? Or is he merely making a legislative proposal? This is who-will-rid-me-of-this-troublesome-priest language, ambiguous no doubt, but not open to a generous interpretation.

It becomes even more sinister when considered in conjunction with the following sentences, quite possibly the most disgraceful that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist: "The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live."

Let us leave aside the metaphysical problems that these three sentences raise. For Harris, the most important question about genocide would seem to be: "Who is genociding whom?" To adapt Dostoyevsky slightly, starting from universal reason, I arrive at universal madness.

Lying not far beneath the surface of all the neo-atheist books is the kind of historiography that many of us adopted in our hormone-disturbed adolescence, furious at the discovery that our parents sometimes told lies and violated their own precepts and rules. It can be summed up in Christopher Hitchens's drumbeat in God Is Not Great: "Religion spoils everything."

What? The Saint Matthew Passion? The Cathedral of Chartres? The emblematic religious person in these books seems to be a Glasgow Airport bomber-a type unrepresentative of Muslims, let alone communicants of the poor old Church of England. It is surely not news, except to someone so ignorant that he probably wouldn't be interested in these books in the first place, that religious conflict has often been murderous and that religious people have committed hideous atrocities. But so have secularists and atheists, and though they have had less time to prove their mettle in this area, they have proved it amply. If religious belief is not synonymous with good behavior, neither is absence of belief, to put it mildly.

In fact, one can write the history of anything as a chronicle of crime and folly. Science and technology spoil everything: without trains and IG Farben, no Auschwitz; without transistor radios and mass-produced machetes, no Rwandan genocide. First you decide what you hate, and then you gather evidence for its hatefulness. Since man is a fallen creature (I use the term metaphorically rather than in its religious sense), there is always much to find.

The thinness of the new atheism is evident in its approach to our civilization, which until recently was religious to its core. To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy. And in my own view, the absence of religious faith, provided that such faith is not murderously intolerant, can have a deleterious effect upon human character and personality. If you empty the world of purpose, make it one of brute fact alone, you empty it (for many people, at any rate) of reasons for gratitude, and a sense of gratitude is necessary for both happiness and decency. For what can soon, and all too easily, replace gratitude is a sense of entitlement. Without gratitude, it is hard to appreciate, or be satisfied with, what you have: and life will become an existential shopping spree that no product satisfies.

A few years back, the National Gallery held an exhibition of Spanish still-life paintings. One of these paintings had a physical effect on the people who sauntered in, stopping them in their tracks; some even gasped. I have never seen an image have such an impact on people. The painting, by Juan Sanchez Cotan, now hangs in the San Diego Museum of Art. It showed four fruits and vegetables, two suspended by string, forming a parabola in a gray stone window.

Even if you did not know that Sanchez Cotan was a seventeenth-century Spanish priest, you could know that the painter was religious: for this picture is a visual testimony of gratitude for the beauty of those things that sustain us. Once you have seen it, and concentrated your attention on it, you will never take the existence of the humble cabbage-or of anything else-quite so much for granted, but will see its beauty and be thankful for it. The painting is a permanent call to contemplation of the meaning of human life, and as such it arrested people who ordinarily were not, I suspect, much given to quiet contemplation.

The same holds true with the work of the great Dutch still-life painters. On the neo-atheist view, the religious connection between Catholic Spain and Protestant Holland is one of conflict, war, and massacre only: and certainly one cannot deny this history. And yet something more exists. As with Sanchez Cotan, only a deep reverence, an ability not to take existence for granted, could turn a representation of a herring on a pewter plate into an object of transcendent beauty, worthy of serious reflection.

I recently had occasion to compare the writings of the neo-atheists with those of Anglican divines of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I was visiting some friends at their country house in England, which had a library of old volumes; since the family of the previous owners had a churchman in every generation, many of the books were religious. In my own neo-atheist days, I would have scorned these works as pertaining to a nonexistent entity and containing nothing of value. I would have considered the authors deluded men, who probably sought to delude others for reasons that Marx might have enumerated.

But looking, say, into the works of Joseph Hall, D.D., I found myself moved: much more moved, it goes without saying, than by any of the books of the new atheists. Hall was bishop of Exeter and then of Norwich; though a moderate Puritan, he took the Royalist side in the English civil war and lost his see, dying in 1656 while Cromwell was still Lord Protector.... Let us compare Hall's meditation "Upon the Sight of a Harlot Carted" with Harris's statement that some people ought perhaps to be killed for their beliefs:
With what noise, and tumult, and zeal of solemn justice, is this sin punished! The streets are not more full of beholders, than clamours. Every one strives to express his detestation of the fact, by some token of revenge: one casts mire, another water, another rotten eggs, upon the miserable offender. Neither, indeed, is she worthy of less: but, in the mean time, no man looks home to himself. It is no uncharity to say, that too many insult in this just punishment, who have deserved more. . . . Public sins have more shame; private may have more guilt. If the world cannot charge me of those, it is enough, that I can charge my soul of worse. Let others rejoice, in these public executions: let me pity the sins of others, and be humbled under the sense of my own.
Who sounds more charitable, more generous, more just, more profound, more honest, more humane: Sam Harris or Joseph Hall, D.D., late lord bishop of Exeter and of Norwich? No doubt it helps that Hall lived at a time of sonorous prose, prose that merely because of its sonority resonates in our souls; prose of the kind that none of us, because of the time in which we live, could ever equal. But the style applies to the thought as well as the prose; and I prefer Hall's charity to Harris's intolerance.

More here

The limits of "openness"

By Roger Kimball

A few days ago, I returned from some missionary work in England. One object of my visit was to bring culture to the natives, specifically to bring news of The New Criterion to the culture-starved readers of London. To this end, I participated in a panel discussion at the Travellers Club in Pell Mell, where I was joined TNC regulars Anthony Daniels, Eric Ormbsy, Kenneth Minogue, and David Pryce Jones. It was a jolly and well attended event, and one that, I hope, will presage the advent of The New Criterion in more bookstores and on more coffee tables through the semi-United Kingdom.

Travel these days is full of irritations, large and small. Among the small irritants, I offer for general condemnation the series of politically correct advertisements with which HSBC bank has plastered the jetways at many major airports. It's a catchy, if semantically troubling, campaign. Each ad consists of two pairs of identical pictures boldly labeled with opposite one-word descriptors. For example, an image of a serious-looking young businessman in suit and tie bears the label "Leader" while next to it is an image of legs in ratty jeans and scuffed boots bearing the legend "Follower." The same images are then repeated with the words reversed: the leader becomes the follower and vice versa. Other image-pairs come labelled "Good/Bad," "Trendy/Traditional," "Pain/Pleasure," "Perfect/Imperfect," etc. And in case you are slow on the uptake, the Aesop behind the ad includes a helpful moral: "If everyone thought the same, nothing would ever change," for example, or "An open mind is the best way to look at the world," or "Isn't it better to be open to other people's points of view?"

Let's pause over that last one. It is meant to be a rhetorical question, of course-what Latinists call a nonne question, i.e., one that expects the answer "Yes"-but I at least want to hesitate before responding with an unqualified affirmative. What HSBC proudly calls its "yourpointofview.com" campaign is doubtless a successful (I believe "creative" is the favored epithet) bit of huckstering. But it is also a wearisome bit of propaganda. Propaganda for what? There's an irony here. The whole rhetorical machinery of the ads communicates the presumption that we are dealing with the spirit of bold openness and a healthy tolerance for diversity. The incidental beneficiary of that happy thought is HSBC. But the reality of the message is simply the biggest unexamined clich, of our time: that differences among people are simply so many "points of view" and therefore (note the logic) that discriminating among those points of view with an eye to favoring one over another is to be guilty of an intellectual incapacity that is at the same time a moral failing (narrowness, intolerance, elitism, ethnocentrism-the whole menu of politically incorrect vices).

This might seem like a prescription for moral relativism. But it isn't quite that. What makes the ad campaign a significant emblem of the Zeitgeist is the way it insinuates a consistent prejudice into its brief against prejudice. The smartly attired young chap and the slob in jeans are not so much equals as competitors. The moral burden of the campaign (as distinct from its aim of benefiting its client) is not to encourage us to think more carefully about what it means to be a leader or follower, to be good or bad, to be trendy or traditional, but rather to blur the distinction between those contraries altogether. The aim is to short-circuit, not refine, our powers of discrimination. And the goal of that disruption is always at the expense of one side of the equation. (Another irony: were the transvaluation implicit in the "point-of-view" campaign really to succeed, one of the first casualties would be competitive enterprises like HSBC.)

There is much in England at the moment that reminded me of the HSBC ad campaign. I think, for example, of the marquee outside the National Portrait Gallery in London that features, on one side, the beaming visage of Mick Jagger with the words "Please allow me to introduce myself" and, on other side, an abstract portrait of T. S. Eliot with a famous line from Four Quartets: "Human kind cannot bear very much reality." It would require a lengthy disquisition to enumerate everything that had to go wrong to produce that conjunction.

Such an explanation might begin with the implicit equivalence proposed between an antinomian rock anthem and a monument of high modernism, the fact that the peculiar alchemy of commercial success has given the world such spectacles as Sir Michael Phillip "Mick" Jagger, and the reality of what the National Portrait Gallery has become-no longer an institution animated by the stately imperatives of cultural confidence but, on the contrary, a demotic, postmodern enterprise wherein celebrity, even notoriety, happily substitutes for genuine achievement. Item: The "major international exhibition" on at the moment is devoted to "Pop Art Portraits." What is more depressing: the exhibition itself, or the fact that such sinister puerilities should be underwritten by a corporate giant like Lehman Brothers? (Once upon a time, the values-all those old-fashioned bourgeois verities-that fired a commercial enterprise like Lehman Brothers were deeply antithetical to the smirking "anything goes" mentality of Pop Art. What would it mean if this were no longer the case?)

"Isn't it better to be open to other people's points of view?" Well, doesn't it all depend on the point of view in question? I thought about this again at a conference I attended at All Souls at Oxford in honor of the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. The ostensible subject of the colloquy was "Enlightenment, Modernity, and Atheism," but many of the contributions revolved around the issue of tolerance-more particularly, tolerance in an age of militant Islam. It tells us quite a lot that one of the participants could blithely assert, in the course of her reflections on this subject, "I know, of course, that there is no truth." Of course?

What really brought me up short, however, was the praise lavished by one speaker on Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born Muslim activist and impresario. "He is," quoth my fellow conference-goer, "precisely the kind of Muslim we should be engaging with." The Department of Homeland Security may have revoked Ramadan's visa, preventing him from taking up a teaching post in the United States. But Oxford was proud to have him teaching there. "Isn't it better to be open to other people's points of view?"

Let's consider the "point of view" of Tariq Ramadan, a grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Their credo: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Is this what Ramadan, too, believes? That is not an easy question to answer. It is significant, I think, that he should deny that there is "any certain proof" that Osama bin Laden was involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. (But if "there is no truth," who can object?) He is said to have met early and often with various members of al Qaeda and other Islamist groups. Ever sensitive to the nuances of language, he refers to such atrocities as the bombings in Bali and Madrid as "interventions." In truth, Ramadan is a consummately slippery customer-ferociously articulate, adept in deploying the rhetoric of compromise, tolerance, "dialogue," and accommodation. He is, as the French writer Caroline Fourest notes in her forthcoming book Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, a "master of the art of euphemism."
His approach, seemingly moderate, succeeds in attracting the more or less modern Muslims that he will gradually initiate into radicalism, and then fundamentalism, the environment that produces future terrorists. How? By pretending to advocate a form of fraternity and tolerance that has the effect, above all, of making any moderate Muslim feel guilty in comparison to the extremists. Once their vigilance has been dismantled, he has only to put those he has thus outfitted in touch with the Brothers' network.
In a 2005 article in Le Monde, for example, Ramadan called for a "moratorium" on the application of some aspects of Muslim law-e.g., stoning adulteresses to death, executing anyone who apostasizes from Islam, cutting off the hands of thieves, and other benevolent prescriptions brought to you by the "religion of peace." True, Ramadan then went on to criticize the West's "unilateral condemnations" of such practices, arguing that "Western governments and individuals have a major responsibility to allow the Muslim world to engage in this debate serenely within Islam's interior."

All that is preposterous, but let's go back to Ramadam's original offer of a "moratorium." Now a "moratorium" is a temporary suspension of some activity or state of affairs. Should we be pleased that Ramadan wants his fellow Muslims to leave off stoning errant women until-when? Next Tuesday? After the New Year? Until Europe finally "goes Muslim" altogether and silly Western scruples like the prohibition against maiming criminals or protecting religious freedom can be dispensed with for good?

Ah, the dreaming spires of Oxford! "Tolerance" for folks like Tariq Ramadan is not enough, because one tolerates only that of which one disapproves. What Ramadan wants is "respect" and approbation, not tolerance. He wants us to embrace him and his beliefs-until they triumph to such an extent that he can reject us categorically in the name, not of tolerance or diversity, but of divine truth. "Everyone looks at the world from a different point of view. What's your point of view?" Lee Smith, in an article in The American Prospect a couple of years ago, accurately summed up Tariq Ramadan's "point of view":
Ramadan is a cold-blooded Islamist who believes that Islam is the cure for the malaise wrought by liberal values. His revision of the jihadist paradigm-peaceful but total-is brilliant in its way, and he may well turn out to be a major Islamist intellectual, far surpassing even his grandfather's influence. His cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it's still jihad. There's no reason for Western liberals to try to understand that point of view.
That gets to the nub of the issue-both with respect to the reality of Tariq Ramadan's agenda and what we in the West should think of it. It was not a popular "point of view" at Oxford. But then political realities have always had a difficult time surviving in that rarefied air. On the High Street I saw a church placard announcing that they were "praying" to be a more "inclusive" congregation. And remember the Oxford Union in 1933: "Resolved, that we will in no circumstances fight for king and country." To have resolved otherwise would have been to exhibit what one confrence-goer stigmatized as "cultural essentialism" and a lamentable tendency to demonize "the Other." How comical Tariq Ramadan and his friends must find these effete moral gymnastics. "An open mind is the best way to look at the world." It's such emollient advice, especially if you are bent on making sure that you alone will decide what counts as openness.


Activist judiciary a looming menace for Australia

FRANKLY, there may be more to fear from Labor's lady lawyers than from the union blokes who run the Labor Party. Astute Labor lawyers in a future Rudd government, women such as Julia Gillard, Nicola Roxon and Penny Wong, will surely have their eyes on the real prize: leaving a legacy that will outlast a term or two in government. That legacy may be an activist judiciary. A Rudd government may come and go, but the judges it appoints are there to stay.

To be sure, appointing judges is the right of every government, and the decision rests ultimately with the prime minister. The Howard Government has stacked the High Court with stodgy conservative judges. You know the type. Judges who have that old-fashioned view about democracy under which politicians and the people make the laws and judges implement them. Under a Rudd government, Labor's lady lawyers may champion the need to fashion an entirely different system of justice by appointing judges who have little time for such democratic traditions, preferring a more adventurous role for judges. Whether a prime minister Kevin Rudd could withstand that push remains to be seen.

It's not such a zany prediction given the legal shenanigans in Victoria. Last week, Labor Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced that human rights advocate Lex Lasry will take up a seat on the state's Supreme Court and former ALP member and ACTU assistant secretary Iain Ross will head to the County Court. Hulls, who has apparently appointed more than half of the state's 214 judges since he became A-G in 1999, has been busily revolutionising the Victorian judiciary. Hulls says the judiciary must be more representative. But this representative revolution is not about returning power to the people. Quite the opposite. Hulls has been choosing judges that represent a certain Labor view of the world. Going by the more prominent appointments, we're talking about installing progressive judges who have staked out their preference for ambiguous human rights and international law. Outlandish?

Consider Chris Maxwell. Since 2005, the former civil libertarian president of Liberty Victoria, has presided over the Victorian Court of Appeal. Maxwell is rather keen on bringing nebulous notions of human rights and international law into his courtroom wherever possible. A future Ansett administration? Throw out your copy of the Corporations Law. According to Maxwell, the demise of Ansett demonstrated that "quintessential corporate law issues such as insolvency ... can throw up human rights issues". He has spoken about how his court will "encourage practitioners to develop human-rights based arguments".

Why? Well, let's just say that judges who draw upon international laws invariably use them to reach courtroom decisions that have more to do with their own grand personal preferences than the tedious rule of law and pesky domestic laws. Take former academic Marcia Neave, appointed to the Victorian Court of Appeal in 2006. As head of the Victorian Law Reform Commission, she advocated the courtroom as a change agent, suggesting that if you're looking for a quick way to change the law, go looking for a judge.

And Hulls has made sure there are plenty of judges ready and willing to serve as judicial law-makers. Judges such as Kevin Bell, appointed to the Victorian Supreme Court, who has demanded that judges be given "the necessary tools - you have to introduce a bill of rights". Happily for Bell, Victoria has just such a tool: its Charter of Rights. So let's not beat around the bush. Hulls has appointed those who share his human rights view of the world.

Now, prima facie, human rights are fine notions. But they are deliberately framed in airy language to disarm debate, to put them beyond reproach. Yet their vague nature means they can be twisted this way and that, depending on whether the result a judge wants is this or that. There is little predictability or certainty. The rule of law becomes no obstacle for significant social change.

Social change is a fine thing, too. But it comes down to who should be changing society: elected politicians or unelected judges. Hulls appears to prefer the latter. Call me old-fashioned but this is a fundamental change to the way we make laws. The whole purpose of elections is you get to choose politicians to represent you. If we don't like the laws, out goes the government. Why bother voting for politicians if unaccountable judges, appointed for life, get to make laws under the guise of international human rights law.

At the moment, this postmodern version of democracy is largely confined to the poor punters in Victoria. We need to hear from Rudd that this is not a precursor of similar change at a federal level under the ALP. Rudd says he is an economic conservative. He appears to be a social conservative, last week rejecting the idea of gay marriage. But where is he on the judiciary's role? There are plenty of Labor lawyers only too eager to push for more activist-minded judges.

Mention judicial activism and the usual refrain is that this is a meaningless term used by those who don't like the decisions of some judges. That's poppycock. It is a valid term if properly defined. Academic Greg Craven summed it up rather nicely a few years ago when he described judicial activists as those who believe "parliaments are untrustworthy, executives nasty and the people unreliable".

There will be plenty of opportunities for a judicial makeover, with HC justice Michael Kirby and Chief Justice Murray Gleeson soon to retire. If Labor is really impatient, they could simply legislate to increase the number of HC justices from seven to nine. There were murmurs about that before the 2004 election. And Labor has done it before.

As The Oxford Companion to the High Court of Australia records, when one of the founding HC justices died in 1912, Labor attorney-general Billy Hughes quickly legislated to increase the HC by an additional two judges, allowing the government to make three appointments in the last few months of office.

Who might we see as our leading judges? Rumours swirling around include human rights silk Julian Burnside as a possible future chief justice of the Federal Court and Labor lawyer George Williams scoring a seat on the High Court. Some wags are even saying that Labor's favourite Sydney silk, Bret Walker, is quietly boasting that he has been assured a seat on the High Court. And here's the irony. In government, Labor may end up appointing judges who have nothing but disdain for politicians and parliament and, yes, the people. Let's hear from Rudd that this is not on the cards.



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

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

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


3 November, 2007

Britain: Christmas should be 'downgraded' to help race relations says Labour think tank

Christmas should be downgraded in favour of festivals from other religions to improve race relations, says an explosive report. Labour's favourite think-tank says that because it would be hard to 'expunge' Christmas from the national calendar, 'even-handedness' means public organisations must start giving other religions equal footing. The leaked findings of its investigation into identity, citizenship and community cohesion also propose:

* 'Birth ceremonies', at which state and parents agree to 'work in partnership' to bring up children

* Action to 'ensure access' for ethnic minorities to 'largely white' countryside

* An overhaul of Britain's 'imperial' honours system

* Bishops being thrown out of the House of Lords

* An end to 'sectarian' religious education

* Flying flags other than the Union Jack.

The report by the Institute for Public Policy Research was commissioned when Nick Pearce, now head of public policy at Downing Street, was its director. IPPR has shaped many Labour policies, including ID cards, bin taxes and road pricing.

The report robustly defends multiculturalism - the idea that different communities should not be forced to integrate but should be allowed to maintain their own culture and identities. And it says immigrants should be required to acquire some proficiency in English and other aspects of British culture 'if - but only if - the settled population is willing to open up national institutions and practices to newcomers and give a more inclusive cast to national narratives and symbols'. It adds: 'Even-handedness dictates that we provide public recognition to minority cultures and traditions.

'If we are going to continue as a nation to mark Christmas - and it would be very hard to expunge it from our national life even if we wanted to - then public organisations should mark other religious festivals too. 'We can no longer define ourselves as a Christian nation, nor an especially religious one in any sense. 'The empire is gone, church attendance is at historically low levels, and the Second World War is inexorably slipping from memory.'

The report, written by IPPR advisers Ben Rogers and Rick Muir, calls on Ministers to launch an 'urgent and upfront campaign' promoting a 'multicultural understanding of Britishness'. 'Multiculturalism can be shown to provide for a fairer and more liberal society and does not necessarily lead to social division and community conflict, as its critics have claimed,' it says.

Councils must act to 'ensure children mix and are able to form friendships with pupils from different backgrounds'. The report adds: 'Any liberal state should recast the civic oaths and national ceremonies, or institutions like Parliament and the monarchy, in a more multi-religious or secular form and make religious education less sectarian.' The presence of bishops in the House of Lords, for instance, is condemned as an 'anachronism' that should be removed.

The system in which parents are required to register a new baby at a register office is dismissed as 'purely bureaucratic'. The occasion should be transformed into a 'public rite', using citizenship ceremonies for immigrants as a model, the report says. 'Parents, their friends and family and the state [would] agree to work in partnership to support and bring up their child.'

Rural Britain, the report complains, 'remains a largely white place'. Much more needs to be done to 'ensure access' to the countryside for black and ethnic minority groups, disabled people and children from inner-city areas.

Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative spokesman on community cohesion, said: 'Their comments betray a breathtaking misunderstanding of what it is to be British. These proposals could actually damage cohesion.' She added: 'You don't build community cohesion by throwing out our history and denying the fundamental contribution Christianity has played and does play to our nation. 'As a British Muslim I can see that - so why others can't just staggers me.'

And she attacked ceremonies to mark the registration of a baby. 'The thought of Gordon Brown sharing responsibility with me for bringing up my children sends a shiver down my spine. I thought we got rid of communism?'


'Driving While Black'

By Thomas Sowell

Twice within the past few years, I have been pulled over by the police for driving at night without my headlights on. My car is supposed to turn on the headlights automatically when the light outside is below a certain level, but sometimes I accidentally brush against the controls and inadvertently switch them to manual. Both times I thanked the policeman because he may well have saved my life. Neither time did I get a ticket or even a warning. In each case, the policeman was white.

Recently a well-known black journalist told me of a very different experience. He happened to be riding along in a police car driven by a white policeman. Ahead of them was a car driving at night with no headlights on and, in the dark, it was impossible to see who was driving it. When the policeman pulled the car over, a black driver got out and, when the policeman told him that he was driving without his lights on, the driver said, "You only pulled me over because I am black!" This was said even though he saw the black man who was with the policeman. The driver got a ticket.

Later, when the journalist asked the cop how often he got such responses from black drivers, the reply was "About 80 percent of the time." When the same journalist asked the same question of black cops, the answer was about 30 percent of the time -- lower, but still an amazing percentage under the circumstances.

Various black "leaders" and supposed friends of blacks have in recent years been pushing the idea that "driving while black" is enough to get the cops to pull you over for one flimsy reason or another. Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute wrote a book titled "Are Cops Racist?" which examined the empirical evidence behind similar claims. The evidence did not support the claims that had been widely publicized in the media. But her study was largely ignored by the media. Maybe it would have spoiled their stories.

Even before reading Heather Mac Donald's book, I found it hard to accept the sweeping claims about the dangers of "driving while black." Looking back over a long life, I could think of a number of times that I had been pulled over by the police in a number of states, without any of the things happening that are supposed to happen when you are "driving while black." Nor could I recall any member of my family who had told me of any such experiences with the police. It was hard to believe that we had all just led charmed lives all these years.

Only about half the times that I was pulled over did I end up being given a ticket. Once a policeman who pulled me over and asked for my driver's license said wearily, "Mr. Sowell, would you mind paying some attention to these stop signs, so that I don't have to write you a ticket?"

Recently I pulled off to the side of a highway to take a picture of the beautiful bay below, in Pacifica, California. After I had finished and was starting to pack up my equipment, a police car pulled off to the side of the highway behind me. "What's going on here?" the policeman asked. "Photography," I said. "You are not allowed to park here," he said. "It's dangerous." "All right," I said, "I am packing to leave right now." "Incidentally," he said as he turned to get back in his car, "You can get a better view of the bay from up on Roberts Road." I then drove up on Roberts Road and, sure enough, got a better view of the bay. And I didn't get a ticket or a warning.

In a world where young blacks, especially, are bombarded with claims that they are being unfairly targeted by police, and where a general attitude of belligerence is being promoted literally in word and song, it is hard not to wonder whether some people's responses to policemen do not have something to do with the policemen's responses to them. Neither the police nor people in any other occupation always do what is right but automatic belligerence is not the answer.


Fathers unpopular with the Left

By Bettina Arndt, writing from Australia

IS Kevin Rudd interested in men? The answer, sadly, seems to be no. Unlike John Howard, the Opposition Leader rarely talks about issues affecting many of his own gender, such as family law, child support, fatherless families, boys' education. Indeed, this potential prime minister seems content to hand over the running on most social issues to female colleagues renowned for their anti-male bias. For anyone keen to ensure men and boys receive a fair go, the prospect of a Labor government is all bad news.

As a prime minister, John Howard has been most unusual in his passion for social issues, his famous "barbecue stoppers" and his willingness to stick his neck out and speak about the role of men. Remember the debate about single women's access to IVF? While most politicians were cowed by the wave of women's rights rhetoric, Howard voiced the concern of many suggesting it isn't in our society's interest to encourage more fatherless families. Picking up on community discontent about children losing contact with fathers after divorce, he set up a bipartisan committee to look into the "rebuttable presumption of joint custody", where parents share care unless good reasons preclude it. But Labor's Jennie George and Jenny Macklin dug in and the committee was forced to water down their recommendations.

A 2005 survey of parliamentarians by Fathers4Equality showed 62 Coalition members likely to support a shared parenting amendment compared with six from Labor. Yet, resulting changes to the Family Law Act have done much to ensure children's rights to contact with both parents.

Labor reluctantly supported the legislation, with Kevin Rudd expressing great concern about the changes. He deferred to his then shadow attorney-general, Nicola Roxon, who played up the fear that children would be forced to spend time with dangerous dads.

Roxon previously dismissed the custody inquiry as "dog whistle politics to men's groups aggrieved by the Family Court". Labor's disdain for such groups is consistently demonstrated as Labor shadow ministers refuse to meet even the most respected of these organisations, despite strenuous efforts by a sprinkling of Labor backbenchers to encourage their party to take interest.

Labor MP Roger Price spent years tearing his hair out over his party's failure to implement the recommendations of the inquiry into child support that he chaired in the early 1990s. It was the Howard Government that finally tackled this controversial issue, implementing far reaching changes recommended by an expert committee to make the scheme more equitable.

Yet, Labor's determination to cater to lone-mother lobby groups shows in their recent announcement that they are monitoring the scheme to ensure the primary carer is not disadvantaged. They have also expressed concern about Government efforts to help lone mothers make the transition from welfare to work. Both policies could well suffer rollbacks if Labor ends up in power.

Labor doesn't just have it in for men. The party has consistently favoured women in the workforce over mothers at home with young children. The last time Labor was in power, families relying on one income lost ground compared with other families, suffering an average 4 per cent drop between 1982 and 1995, according to the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling in Canberra. At the time, Joe De Bruyn, national chairman of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Union blamed Labor's "femocrat advisers" for consistently refusing to support women who stayed home, choosing instead to promote child care to encourage workforce participation.

With more than 75 per cent of all families relying on one income when they have infants, Howard moved to increase their support. Between 1996 and 2001, a single-income, two-child family on average weekly earnings gained 16 per cent in disposable income. Labor's more recent support for the babycare payment is a sign the feminist ideologues may be losing some of their grip on the party, but there are clear signs biases remain. One major reason Keating lost power was the perception that Labor governed for some rather than for all. The 750,000 non-resident parents in Australia are one group who should be wary that their interests have no place on a Labor agenda.


Australia: Many liberties being lost

Governments are taking our liberty in the name of protecting our health, writes Chris Berg

Are we freer today than we were half a century ago? That question is surprisingly hard to answer. The state control over the economy that characterised Australia in the 20th century is quickly being replaced with nanny state controls. Barriers to trade have been mostly eliminated, and state monopolies eradicated. But accompanying that has been explosive growth in social and environmental regulations. There are now more pages of Commonwealth legislation introduced every year than were passed in the first 40 years of federation.

In our social lives, freedom has both advanced and retreated. For example, restrictions on the sale of alcohol have eased. But they have been replaced by nanny state measures such as smoking bans. In the future, cigar bars will be as distant a memory as the six o'clock swill. Since smoking bans were enacted this year in Victoria and NSW, sales growth in pubs has dropped significantly. Hotel patronage may return to former levels - international experience seems to indicate that it will - but when smokers return to the pub, they will be less free than they were in October last year.

Unquestionably, advocates of individual liberty and personal responsibility have lost the battle on smoking. That's not surprising - smoking is reviled by everybody who doesn't enjoy it. In a liberal state, that disagreement would be sorted out by negotiation; before the bans, many restaurants and hotels already enforced non-smoking areas or disallowed it entirely. But in a nanny state, such negotiations are replaced by force of law. Similar sentiments lie behind restrictions on poker machines. The gaming industry is a political football to be kicked around at every state election, while individuals who value their freedom to enjoy the pokies are ignored.

In a nanny state, the government morphs into an over-eager insurance company, assuming the role of risk-manager for its citizens. Any risky or unhealthy endeavour has to be eliminated - individuals cannot be trusted to assess the risks themselves.

The next target is food. Numerous proposals are on the table to tackle our expanding waistlines, including banning certain types of fats, banning junk food advertising, and even taxing fatty food. Earlier this year, the Labor Party hinted that it was considering banning the use of licensed characters such as Shrek in junk- food advertising, should it win government. Last week, the Cancer Council of Australia came out in support of a general ban on junk food ads aimed at children.

However, there is little evidence that such bans work. Both Quebec and Sweden have tried them, but neither have seen any reduction in childhood obesity. There are twice as many overweight children in Sweden as there were 15 years ago, even though the Scandinavian country has had a ban on all advertising aimed at children since 1991.

Furthermore, politicians hurrying to make political capital out of medical problems such as obesity and lung cancer rarely think through the unintended consequences of their policies. Swedish advertising bans have not reduced obesity, but they have had other results. Losing the revenue from the highest-paying advertising has reduced the quality and quantity of children's television programs. Similarly, restricting the advertising market has raised the cost of toys in Sweden to 50 per cent above the average European level.

The Australian Government's hard line on tobacco has had similar consequences. Smokeless tobacco products have been swept up as the nanny state tries to purge society of everything that meets its disapproval.

It is unfortunate that Australia lacks a strong intellectual history emphasising individual liberty and personal responsibility. Our "she'll be right mate" attitude is easily swamped by our calls for government to intervene in personal decisions. Laws are passed with little reference to how they will affect our freedom. As a result, individual liberty in Australia is slowly being eroded by neglect.



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

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

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


2 November, 2007

Furor After Ceremonial Flag-Folding Readings Pulled From Military Funerals

A group of congressmen has asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to retain the tradition of reciting the significance of each fold in the flag-folding ceremony at military funerals. "The flag folding recitation is a longstanding tradition which brings comfort to the living and honor to the deceased," Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., writes in his letter Tuesday signed by 11 other congressmen. "The recitations accompanying each fold pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families, the nation they proudly serve, and the beliefs that they hold dear."

Veterans Affairs has a policy that allows for a full military funeral, which includes the playing of taps and the folding of the flag in respectful silence. Upon request, family can have honor guard read special recitations, which include religious symbolism.

A complaint was filed to the White House after one of those recitations was read incorrectly. Steve L. Muro, the director of the National Cemetery Administration's field programs office, ordered cemetery directors to stop the readings. "There are no federal laws related to the flag that assign any special meaning to theindividual folds of the flag," Muro wrote in a memo obtained by FOXNews.com. "The National Cemetery Administration must not give meaning, or appear to give meaning to the folds of the flag by endorsing or distributing any handouts on 'The Meaning of Each Fold of an Honor Guard Funeral Flag."

The stopping of the recitations has caused a furor among veterans. Members of the American Legion have been flooding national headquarters since the decision, according to Ramona Joyce, an organization spokeswoman. "To me, it's a slap in the face for every veteran, every member of the Memorial Honor Detail and every family of the deceased veteran," said Rees Lloyd, a member of the American Legion's Memorial Honor Detail for services at Riverside National Cemetery in California.

At issue are secondary meanings attached to the folding of the flag. As the honor guard makes the 13 folds - traditionally representing the original colonies - they recite "the first fold of our flag is a symbol of life, the second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life, etc." A complaint about the recitation for the 11th fold - "in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" - garnered a complaint and prompted the ban.

The Sept. 27 ban was an effort to create uniform services throughout the military graveyard system, spokesman Mike Nacincik said, adding the 13-fold recital is not part of the U.S. Flag Code and is not government-approved. "We definitely think it is a matter left up to the families," Joyce said. "It's a nice ceremony; we've been doing it for years. Our honor guards have been doing it," she said. "It's respectful and it's something the family should be able to choose to have done if they so wish for their veteran," Joyce continued.

Lloyd thinks it's a matter of political correctness gone wild. "The entirety of this issue is an absurdity that shows political correctness and secular cleansing run amok," Lloyd said. "This is about families of deceased veterans putting to rest their loved ones. No one should interfere with their choices."

The 12th fold recitation is geared to Christians, saying the fold "represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost."

In the Legion's burning ceremony for the dignified disposal of unserviceable flags, a chaplain invokes the name of God with lines like "as they yield their substance to the fire, may your holy light spread over us and bring our hearts renewed devotion to God and country," Joyce said. "When we got back from the war, we didn't ask for a whole lot," said Bobby Castillo, 85, a World War II Navy veteran. "We just want to give our veterans the respect they deserve. No one has ever complained to us about it. I just don't understand."

Lloyd and Castillo are part of a 16-member detail that have performed military honors at more than 1,400 services. They were preparing to read the flag-folding remarks at the Riverside cemetery when graveyard staff stopped them.

Charlie Waters, parliamentarian for the American Legion of California, said he's advising memorial honor details to ignore the edict. "This is nuts," Waters told the Press-Enterprise by telephone from Fresno. "There are 26 million veterans in this country and they're not going to take us all to prison."

Nacincik said that while the flag-folding narrative includes references to God that the government does not endorse, the main reason for the new rules is uniformity. "We are looking at consistency," Nacincik said. "We think that's important."

Rabbi Yitzhak Miller of Temple Beth El said he understands the ban. "It is a perfect example of government choosing to ignore religion in order to avoid offending some religions," Miller said. "To me, ignoring religion in general is just as problematic as endorsing any one religion."

Shuler's letter urged Veterans Affairs to change its mind. "Please reconsider the policy and allow the Memorial Honor Detail volunteers to perform the traditional flag-folding recitation if requested by the family of the deceased," he wrote. Lloyd said the honor guard would decide whether to defy the ban next Tuesday, when it will serve at more military funerals. "We are going to abide by the wishes of the families," Lloyd said. "Not some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. Period."


How Long Before the A.D.L. Kicks Out All its Jews?

by Ann Coulter

The Anti-Defamation League is to Jews what the National Organization for Women is to women and the ACLU is to civil libertarians. They represent not Jews or women or civil libertarians, but the left wing of the Democratic Party. In the paramount threat of our time, the Democratic Party is AWOL. And those are the patriotic Democrats. The rest are actively aiding the enemy. The blood of millions of Israelis is at stake, and the ADL is flacking for a party that yearns to surrender to the terrorists.

To hide the dirty little secret of the left's burgeoning anti-Semitism, liberals act as if they live in abject terror of right-wingers. When it comes to conservatives, the Anti-Defamation League is the Pro-Defamation League. For decades, most Jews supported the left, and the left supported Jewish causes. But the left moved on long ago. For liberals, Jews are just so "last Holocaust." The ADL gently chided Columbia University for making the "mistake" of inviting a genocidal, Holocaust-denying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak. It tepidly criticized Ahmadinejad's speech for being "a charade of half-answers and obfuscation." That sounds like a fair description of Hillary's current stump speech.

The ADL and its ilk reserve their real venom for a beast like Dennis Prager -- a leading Jewish intellectual, author and radio talk show host. Last year, Prager made the manifestly obvious point that the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, should take his oath of office not on a Quran, but on a Bible, in recognition of "the value system (that) underlies American civilization." According to the ADL, Prager's column was not a trifling "mistake" on the order of allowing an American audience at one of America's premier universities to give a standing ovation to a murderous, racist lunatic. Prager was "intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American." I think I'd take "obfuscation."

The relevant organs of pious liberal society were promptly rounded up to censure Prager, including the American Jewish Committee and two members of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Rep. Henry Waxman and former New York Mayor Ed Koch -- who called Prager a "bigot." Do they have Ellison on the record acknowledging whether the Holocaust happened?

The executive committee of the Holocaust Museum called Prager's column antithetical to "tolerance and respect for all peoples regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity." But you'll see that famed liberal "tolerance" dry up pretty fast if you render a simple statement of the beliefs of Christians. The usual liberal coterie acts shocked and offended by Christians who actually believe Christianity is true -- unlike Democratic politicians -- to conceal the fact that the left is increasingly dominated by people conniving in the destruction of Israel.

How about having Tim Russert ask Hillary if she believes the New Testament is the perfection of the Old Testament? She claims to be a Christian. Let's get it on the table: Is she or isn't she? It doesn't get any more bare-bones than that. Let the cat out of the bag that a 2,000-year-old religion practiced by a majority of Americans teaches that Jesus came in "fulfillment of the scriptures," and you might be better off if you had adopted the preferred approach of liberals' new friends the Muslims and simply slit the Jew's throat.

At least the ADL wouldn't object. They're too busy conspiring with the Council on American-Islamic Relations to denounce Dennis Prager. And promoting gun control. And gay marriage. And illegal immigration. You know, all the issues that have historically kept the Jews safe.

The ADL denounces the teaching of intelligent design, the placement of the Ten Commandments on public property and Bibles in public schools. Any entity that disagrees with them on these issues will be labeled an "extremist organization." Gosh, it's a good thing there isn't a worldwide terrorist movement dedicated to killing Jews. The ADL might have to tear themselves away from promoting faddish liberal causes.

The ADL is more concerned with what it calls the "neo-Nazis" and "anti-Semites" in the Minutemen organization than with people who behead Jews whenever they get half a chance. It's only a matter of time before the ADL gets around to global warming.

Earlier this year, the ADL issued an alarmist report, declaring that the Ku Klux Klan has experienced "a surprising and troubling resurgence" in the U.S., which I take it to mean that nationwide KKK membership is now approaching double digits. Liberal Jews seem to be blithely unaware that the singular threat to Jews at the moment is the complete annihilation of Israel. Why won't they focus on the genuine threat of Islamo-fascism and leave poor old Robert Byrd alone?

The ADL goes around collecting statements from Democrats proclaiming their general support for Israel, but it refuses to criticize Democrats who attack Joe Lieberman for supporting the war and who tolerate the likes of former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Sure, Hillary will show up at an ADL dinner and announce that she supports Israel. And then she gets testy with Bush for talking about sanctions against Iran in too rough a tone of voice. What does it mean for the ADL to collect those statements?

The survival of Israel is inextricably linked to the survival of the Republican Party and its evangelical base. And yet the ADL viciously attacks conservatives, implying that there is some genetic anti-Semitism among right-wingers in order to hide the fact that anti-Semites are the ADL's best friends -- the defeatists in Congress, the people who tried to drive Joe Lieberman from office, the hoodlums on college campuses who riot at any criticism of Muslim terrorists and identify Israel as an imperialist aggressor, and liberal college faculties calling for "anti-apartheid" boycotts of Israel. The Democratic Party sleeps with anti-Semites every night, but groups like the ADL love to play-act their bravery at battling ghosts, as if it's the 1920s and they are still fighting quotas at Harvard.

Earlier this year, Rep. Virgil Goode Jr., R-Va., said "in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America." The ADL attacked him, saying, "Bigots have always hid behind the immigration issue."

Like the noose hysteria currently sweeping New York City, liberals are always fighting the last battle because the current battle is too frightening. Liberal Jews are on a collision course with themselves. They can't reconcile the survival of Israel with their conception of themselves as liberals. The liberal coalition has turned against them. Jews are out; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is in. The new king knows not Joseph.


"English only" rule attacked in Australian factory

Workers at the Cochlear bionic ear factory in Lane Cove who have complained about the company's demand that only English be spoken in the workplace face dismissal. Cochlear's chief executive, Chris Roberts, refused yesterday to rule out retaliation against Lily Yin and Ken Zhang. The two manufacturing workers have spoken out in support of a colleague who has complained to the Anti-Discrimination Board about the English-only edict.

As the Herald revealed yesterday, an employee from Cambodia, Huy Kha, has protested that workers who speak a foreign language could be denied promotion to a higher job classification - and the pay rise that goes with it. Yesterday, Dr Roberts said Cochlear did enforce an English-only policy but it applied only to the production area, where employees of 20 different nationalities who worked in teams needed to speak in a common language. "When they are on the production floor, where safety is an issue, it is very important that we maximise the communication," Dr Roberts said.

After initially claiming that workers speaking a foreign language would not miss promotion, Dr Roberts conceded it could count against them. "Under the performance-based matrix, they need to demonstrate a number of values, including teamwork," he said. "If they are doing something in non-English that goes against teamwork, that would go against them."

Ms Yin and Mr Zhang - and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which covers about half the Cochlear manufacturing workforce - agree that staff should communicate in English when they are working, but say their managers have also banned foreign languages from the lunchrooms and even the bathrooms. Now they face disciplinary action and even the sack.

"I would be particularly concerned if what they said was untrue and if their motives were other than noble and . were really to be part of creating a dispute with the union," Dr Roberts said. "People just can't go off and criticise the company through misinformation."

Phil Pasfield, an employment lawyer and a partner at Slater & Gordon, said Cochlear's threats were "unwise". "If what they are saying is true, then they are not bringing the employer into disrepute because their employer is engaging in discriminatory behaviour," Mr Pasfield told the Herald. "This would not warrant disciplinary action, let alone dismissal."



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

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

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


1 November, 2007

An invasion of college sport

Post below lifted from Suitability Flip. See the original for links

David Freddoso at NRO weighs in on a regrettably resurrected attempt to squelch one of the great American collegiate traditions.
I cannot smile upon any attempt to change The Greatest of All Fight Songs for the sake of politically correct whining. I thought we got beyond this gender-neutral nonsense years ago. But our terrible football season at Notre Dame must be contributing to the insanity. I read with only slight alarm this mother-daughter tag-team letter to the daily student newspaper of my Alma Mater, advocating the desecration of our Victory March:
The student body finished off the fight song with, "while her loyal sons are marching onward to victory." Our family, however, finished it off with, "while her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory."
You can technically force those lyrics into the song's tune, but it requires a cudgel to do so. If it was tried in the past as the writers suggest, then I can see why it did not catch on.

As one of the writers is too old, and the other far too young to know, I will fill them in on something they mention in their letter: Notre Dame men pump their fists and shout at the line, "While her loyal SONS are marching." Why is that? It began when I was at Notre Dame (mid-90's) as a small way of resisting some previous lame-brained attempt to make the fight song gender-neutral. Later on, the women - at least the ones with a sense of humor, who do not see life as a power struggle against men - began emphasizing the "HER" in "her loyal sons."
I also attended the University in the mid-90s and remember this lamentable flap. The women in my corner of the student section must've been less well humored, as I remember hearing angry screams of "AND DAUGHTERS!" befouling the majesty whenever the band got to the last line of the fight song.
Here is my plea to the writers of this letter, on behalf of hopelessly unenlightened patriarchalists everywhere: Notre Dame's songs and traditions were not intended to make you feel good about yourself. Please leave them alone. So far, we have been forced to raise our fists on "Sons." Don't make us do something more drastic, like re-name the university after a man.
Indeed, the prospective slope of gender neutralization at Notre Dame is comically slippery. "University of Notre Personne" doesn't even quite get you there, as "personne" is a feminine noun. The fight song mentions "her" 8 times and "sons" twice. Replacing them all with "its" and "offspring" renders it somewhat less lyrical. The idea of slapping the Victory March with revisionist gender neutrality as it prepares to celebrate its centennial would be enough to make the Gipper turn in his grave (if they hadn't dug him up a couple weeks ago).

And I can only imagine the fundraising letters we'd start getting if the administration needs to reclad the two-ton gold-gilded Virgin Mary statue atop the Golden Dome in more androgynous attire.

All the major Notre Dame songs extol the virtues (oops, that's a man-centric prefix... hertues?) of "Notre Dame men answer[ing] the cry" and "the charge of fighting men". The songwriters noted that when "Notre Dame men fight for Gold and Blue" they "sweep the foemen's ranks away".

What's silliest about the campaign to besmirch this century-old tradition is the fact that the letter writers are pleading with student leaders to lobby for the switch on the basis that it would honor their own family's tradition of singing the sensitive version.

Leftist media think women are brainless

The other day French President Sarkozy walked out of a 60 Minutes interview by Leslie Stahl when she tried to ambush him into responding about his personal life. He keeps going up in my estimation.

Here was a rare opportunity for a woman TV journo to ask some substantive questions of the most pro-American, pro-free enterprise, potentially transformative French leader of our time and she chose to turn it into some tabloid dreck. Surely, there's a lesson to be had for her and for women interviewers in that act. If you expect to be taken seriously enough to get interviews with world leaders, then you must do your homework and make it a serious interview. Why fight for the right to be taken seriously in the work place if you, yourself think so little of yourself that you won't do serious work when you're there?

It is interesting to see what making the newsroom more diverse has devolved into: Katie Couric has "perkified" the news only to find her audience leaving in droves. People expect women who reach that level of success to, like you know, get serious.

Another womanpioneer in TV news, Barbara Walters, is spending a lot of time on her show The View, which seems little more than a gab feast of poorly informed chicks beamed at... who? I can't figure out who watches this foolishness or why. There are more women than men at most American colleges and universities.'' And women are taking on higher roles in all the professions and business. Surely, they aren't leaving their work aside to view this ill-informed drivel.

Welfare reform means that there are fewer low income, poorly educated women lounging in front of their sets all day and those who are probably just tuned in when Rosie was cat fighting and Springerizing the show. Maybe the audience is shut ins and the hospital bound who are unable to get their hands on the remote and are too weak to move out of bed and switch the channel to something more entertaining and informative like the Food Channel.

But as mysterious as that demographic is, the audience for high style magazines is even more beyond my comprehension. Magazines and newspaper supplements aimed at middle class women are chock full of useful information -- how to apply for college scholarships, managing money, making appealing and nutritious family meals on a budget, for example.(Though there remains an odd penchant for interposing recipes for high calorie desserts with the latest diet tips.) But uniformly, the more expensive the merchandise advertised in the publication, the more left wing those articles not about decor or fashion are. Check out the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Vogue, and you'll see, alongside Tiffany and Gucci and Bulgari, ads for charter planes, luxurious cars and exotic resorts in far away places, stuff that you'd expect to hear at Berkeley town meetings.

Surely even Dos Passos would blink at the juxtaposition of ads for the $45,000 Vuitton Tribute handbag, shoes and baubles to accessorize your outfit which cost as much as a medical school with calls to arms on whatever is the left's cause of the moment -- from banning all reasonable domestic energy sources in favor of make believe alternatives to tributes to the fraud Rigoberta Menchu..

So, to whom are these articles aimed? Are the second wives of fabulously rich men plotting revolution in their anger at having been forced to sign a pre-nup? Are their daughters cutting their credit cards into silhouettes of Che? Rosa Luxemburg famously said: "Those who do not move do not notice their chains. "

Was she speaking to those women swaddled in golden Chanel links hooked on this mindless pap?

Thomas Lifson adds:

I agree and can only add that this odd juxtaposition of conspicuous consumption and radical posturing demonstrates that for the affluent left, politics amounts to a fashion statement.


The "offence" defence


* Accusing your opponent of causing you offence has become an everyday tactic in public discussion.

* This is a cowardly tactic, which means that you don't have to bother putting your own case, or pointing out the other's flaws.

* This also presents another's opinions as mere `hate' or `phobias', suggesting that your opponent is blind or irrational, and not worth arguing with.

* Against this, we should celebrate the virtues of public argument. It is through arguments that we develop our own ideas, and learn from each other.

* We should avoid playing the `offence card', and continue with the match of public debate.

A series of recent UK laws has restricted speech judged to be offensive to others: the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 banned strong criticisms of religion, while the Terrorism Act 2006 criminalised `indirect incitement' to, or `glorification' of, terrorism. Institutions across the Western world have brought through codes to limit offensive speech, covering everything from dating behaviour to references to another person's socioeconomic status. These developments have been subjected to lively public critique and discussion, with some quite rightly pointing out that there is no right not to be offended, and that open public discussion necessarily involves some rough and tumble.

What has gone relatively unnoticed has been a parallel shift in everyday life: claiming offence has become a normal part of the way people argue in public. Playing the `offence card' has become an almost universal tactic for debate. Rather than arguments being an exchange and competition of views, many discussions now consist largely in the two sides trying to get each other censored. Accusing your opponent of `hate speech', `Islamophobia', `homophobia', `Christophobia' or `anything-else-o-phobia' is now a way of trying to win an argument. Many discussions degenerate into mutual accusation: `You hate us'; `No, you hate us'.

What is now called `hate speech' includes a whole swathe of plain old opinion - from supporting Israel or supporting Palestine, to supporting or opposing the war in Iraq, to religious or moral opinions about sexuality. Discussions become a case of two sides competing to present themselves as the victim. This is all heat and no light: there is little revealed in the exchange, and indeed it is often easy to forget why people are arguing in the first place. It is also unnecessarily fractious, obstructing the possibility of a genuine dialogue, where discussants could learn from each other and clarify their differences.

This Thinkpiece is a plea to kick the crying of `offence' out of public discussion, and for those with strong views to play clean and fair - to concentrate on putting their case, and taking up their opponents' views. Reaching for the `offence' card is a cowardly tactic, a shortcut to the semblance of victory rather than a meaningful argument. It is the debating equivalent of diving in a football match, and should be frowned upon equally.

Playing the `offence card'

Few groups of opinion are immune from the fashion for calling `offence': the same tactic is used by right and left, religious and atheist. Nor does it seem to matter whether a group is large or small, powerful or weak: self-proclaimed victims of offence include everybody from marginal lobbyists to George W Bush, from small sects to established state religions.

In key UK discussions about the Israel-Palestine conflict, for example, the two sides accuse each other of `hate'. In a case at London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Board of Deputies of British Jews delivered a dossier of evidence about anti-Semitic behaviour at SOAS to the school's principal. As a consequence of the board's concerns, the school overturned SOAS student union's decision to elect London Mayor Ken Livingstone (seen as an opponent of Israel) as honorary president, and reprimanded a Muslim student for an article in the student magazine Spirit, in which he supported the Palestinian cause.

In response, an academic defended the student against the ban - by arguing that he was the real victim, a victim of Islamophobia. SOAS academic John Game wrote in an open letter to the school's principal, saying: `Islamophobia in the wider society means that SOAS' "reputation" is under assault. Either one aggressively stands up to such Islamophobia or one decides to sacrifice a few students to it.' (1) The Muslim Council of Britain also claimed that the university's actions were actually Islamophobic.

People seem to be aware that this is an underhand tactic. Facing the accusation of anti-Semitism/Islamophobia/homophobia, many will often complain that this is a `smear' to `silence my opinion'. Yet they seemingly fail to realise that they are playing the same game - and almost invariably finish by claiming that the other camp is the real hate group and that they are the genuine victims.

In a piece titled `Playing the Anti-Semitism card', Asghar Bukhari outlined how Jewish groups pounced on his every utterance as evidence of anti-Semitism. Yet he fires back by accusing them of Islamophobia. `Why should a Muslim be beaten up for it by the press, and demanded they make it clear, when a pro-Israeli Jew could get away with anything about Muslims, often writing for the very Islamophobic press that was so outraged at the Muslim use of lax language!' (2)

One blogger defends his right to criticise Israel, taking up pro-Israeli `efforts to conceal the Israeli spy scandal. behind cries of "hate" and "anti-Semite"'. He argues persuasively that `Israel's supporters constantly spin any criticism of Israel's actions as hate against the Jewish people'. Yet he finishes the article, `But if you want to see REAL hate in action, please read on', proceeding to give a list of Israeli statements about Palestinians that he believes are really offensive (3).

Religious and gay rights groups are engaging in the same dance of death. The gay popstar Elton John has said that he wanted all religion banned, because it `promotes hatred and spite against gays' and turns people into `hateful lemmings'. In response, however, Christians say that the real hate crime is against them. When the EU commissioner for justice was criticised for his comments about gays, and accused of homophobia, he responded by saying that there is `an anti-Christian "inquisition" in the EU': `There is a hate campaign against me.' (4)

Muslim and gay groups fought it out over Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, who has patronised both groups in the past. After Livingstone invited the Muslim scholar Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi to speak in London, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said: `In the name of fighting Islamophobia the mayor is colluding with homophobia.' (5) Tatchell also criticised Livingstone's reception for the mayor of Moscow, claiming that the Moscow mayor was homophobic and had tacitly supported an assault on a gay rights parade.

In response, Livingstone's press office hit back: `The attempt of Mr Tatchell to focus attention on the role of the grand Mufti in Moscow, in the face of numerous attacks on gay rights in Eastern Europe which overwhelmingly come from right-wing Christian and secular currents, is a clear example of an Islamophobic campaign.' (6) Tatchell's supporters retorted: `Mr Livingstone is clearly determined to treat Islam with kid gloves no matter how stridently homophobic its adherents are. The slightest criticism of Islam is immediately branded Islamophobic.' In these exchanges, we see how discussion reaches a dead end. The claims and counter-claims of offence replace an exchange of views. The discussion becomes increasingly rancorous, but it is an empty tit-for-tat.

Denigrating your opponent

The accusation of `hate speech' or `phobia' characterises an opponent as irrational, and not worth arguing with. Their views are apparently not opinions, to be listened to and debated, but merely the expression of instinctive hate or a knee-jerk phobia.

The first use of `phobia' to describe an opinion was `homophobia', used in the late 1960s. At that time, homosexuality was in some circles still considered a mental illness requiring treatment. Some psychiatrists sympathetic to gay rights turned the tables, and declared that it was heterosexuals who had the mental illness. There was no interval where sexuality was discussed as a matter for morality or ethics: the diagnosis of illness was simply switched from one group to another.

Still, the use of the term `homophobia' remained in the margins until the 1990s, when it was taken up by governments and gay rights groups. It was in the 1990s, too, that other phobias made their appearance, with `Islamophobia' given profile in a 1997 report by the Runnymede Trust. In recent years, there has been a veritable epidemic of phobias, with groups diagnosing their critics as suffering from illnesses including Christophobia, Hinduphobia, Sikhphobia and Hibernophobia (fear of the Irish).

Prior to the epidemic of phobias, opinions - even objectionable ones - were described as `isms' (as in racism, sexism), which could be engaged with and argued against. If you did not agree with somebody's views, you had to explain why, and illustrate their errors. Accusing critics of `hate' or `phobia' suggests that they do not have ideas worthy of recognition, only beastly black bile. Discussion would be like talking spider anatomy with an arachnophobe. They don't need conversation: they need treatment!

Campaigners for complaint

The focus on crying `hate speech' means that lobby groups become organs for complaint. Their role is less to celebrate their own cause, than to present themselves as the victims of their opponents. Muslim organisations now spend very little time talking about the virtues of Islam, or offering moral guidance for a good Muslim life: instead, many have dedicated themselves to unearthing Islamophobia in every nook and cranny, analysing TV coverage and the subtexts of newspaper reports.

Similarly, gay organisations talk less about free love, free choice, or the virtue of love between people of the same sex. Instead they dedicate themselves to highlighting homophobia - for example, by exposing the use of the word `gay' as an insult in school playgrounds and students unions.

It becomes a matter, not of making your own argument, but of dishing the dirt on your opponent. Online, supporters of Palestine or Israel set up their `anti-Semitism watch' or `Islamophobia watch', documenting day-by-day the numerous ways in which the other side is deemed to be insulting them.

Religious groups start to become more interested in other people's services than in their own. In Australia, religious groups sent their representatives into each other's services to gather evidence in order to level claims of hate speech. The Islamic Council of Victoria had delegates in one sermon by the evangelical Catch the Fire Ministries, and took the organisation to court for its unkind references to Islam.

Insult is uncovered in small print. The UK-based Islamophobia Watch was offended by a Human Rights Watch job advert for a position of Sharia adviser for its Women's Rights section - on the basis that Human Rights Watch had not also advertised for Christian and Jewish advisers on women's rights (7).....

More here


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

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

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