Political Correctness Watch 
The creeping dictatorship of the Left..

THIS may be the ultimate example of Political Correctness -- from the Unhinged Kingdom  

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Sarah Palin is undoubtedly the most politically incorrect person in American public life so she will be celebrated on this blog

Gender is a property of words, not of people. Using it otherwise is just another politically correct distortion -- though not as pernicious as calling racial discrimination "Affirmative action"

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.

Juergen Habermas, a veteran leftist German philosopher stunned his admirers not long ago by proclaiming, "Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options [than Christianity]. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter."

Consider two "jokes" below:

Q. "Why are Leftists always standing up for blacks and homosexuals?

A. Because for all three groups their only God is their penis"

Pretty offensive, right? So consider this one:

Q. "Why are evangelical Christians like the Taliban?

A. They are both religious fundamentalists"

The latter "joke" is not a joke at all, of course. It is a comparison routinely touted by Leftists. Both "jokes" are greatly offensive and unfair to the parties targeted but one gets a pass without question while the other would bring great wrath on the head of anyone uttering it. Why? Because political correctness is in fact just Leftist bigotry. Bigotry is unfairly favouring one or more groups of people over others -- usually justified as "truth".

One of my more amusing memories is from the time when the Soviet Union still existed and I was teaching sociology in a major Australian university. On one memorable occasion, we had a representative of the Soviet Womens' organization visit us -- a stout and heavily made-up lady of mature years. When she was ushered into our conference room, she was greeted with something like adulation by the local Marxists. In question time after her talk, however, someone asked her how homosexuals were treated in the USSR. She replied: "We don't have any. That was before the revolution". The consternation and confusion that produced among my Leftist colleagues was hilarious to behold and still lives vividly in my memory. The more things change, the more they remain the same, however. In Sept. 2007 President Ahmadinejad told Columbia university that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

It is widely agreed (with mainly Lesbians dissenting) that boys need their fathers. What needs much wider recognition is that girls need their fathers too. The relationship between a "Daddy's girl" and her father is perhaps the most beautiful human relationship there is. It can help give the girl concerned inner strength for the rest of her life.

The love of bureaucracy is very Leftist and hence "correct". Who said this? "Account must be taken of every single article, every pound of grain, because what socialism implies above all is keeping account of everything". It was V.I. Lenin

On all my blogs, I express my view of what is important primarily by the readings that I select for posting. I do however on occasions add personal comments in italicized form at the beginning of an article.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age.

I imagine that the the RD is still sending mailouts to my 1950s address!

Germaine Greer is a stupid old Harpy who is notable only for the depth and extent of her hatreds

The PERMALINKS to this site have been a bit messed up by new blogger. The permalink they give has the last part of the link duplicated so the whole link defaults to the top of the page. To fix the link, go the the URL and delete the second hatch mark and everything after it.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Germany: Voters decide the fate of faith in Berlin schools

Controversial referendum to determine if students get the option to study ethics or religion

In the United States, teaching religion in public schools is political dynamite. In France, forget it. But in Germany they've done it for decades. Except, that is, in Berlin, where postwar policies framed with help from the old Soviet Union have kept faith out of the classrooms. But in a city that sociologist Peter Berger once called "the world capital of modern atheism," a surprisingly robust grass-roots Pro-Reli movement by churches is challenging the traditional ethics classes that they say are poor substitutes for the religion teaching offered to other German pupils.

The churches seem to have captured a moment – along with a whopping 256,000 signatures for a referendum on the topic. They flooded streets with posters asking for a "free choice between ethics and religion." The result is a hot battle over values and city identity.

Today, Berliners are voting on whether to keep the required ethics class or broaden the curriculum to include a required class on a religion – Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, and others. Ethics is one of the options.

"There is nothing wrong with ethics classes, if they are neutral," says Christoph Lehmann, a devout Catholic and lawyer who started the Pro-Reli cause at his living room table a year ago. "But religious tradition is about creating a standpoint in life, and we feel the ethics class doesn't do this as well."

At the forefront of the debate is the issue of integrating Muslims. Berlin now has more than 200,000 Muslim students – almost half the student body in some districts. Exposing Muslim children to the Koran from teachers accredited through the state is seen by many Berliners as a check on extreme readings of Islam; and this is a key selling point for the pro-religion cause. "In a broader perspective, looking 20 years ahead, what's most important is the issue of Muslims," says Ralf Meister, a Pro-Reli advocate and general superintendent of the Lutheran Church in Berlin. "We don't solve a single problem with Muslims through the ethics class. We need a place where Muslims can learn some established facts about their religion."

Indeed, the falling apple for the ethics class was a 2005 "honor killing" of a Turkish woman that shocked this city. Following the murder, ethics classes became a required part of the curriculum.

For many churchgoers, however, the cure was seen as worse than the problem. Complaints arose that in a school day already taxing young minds, adding the ethics course eroded support and time for what had been a system of voluntary religion classes. Protestant and Catholic parents, mostly from the west side of the city, said ethics was slanted and undercut or trivialized faith traditions.

The Berlin debate blurs traditional left-right lines: Some theologians support ethics, while some leading Social Democrats back religion. The Pro-Ethik camp, as it is known, sees its program as a responsible way to teach citizenship and democracy, while also promoting dialogue among a diverse student body in something that's more subjective than math or science. "Kids from different origins should not be divided into different religions and into different classes," says Gerhard Weil, spokesman for Pro-Ethik. "We find it is better if all children can discuss ethical problems together."

One Pro-Reli parent, Julia Sebastian, says ethics courses vary with the teacher, but that the nod to religion in them sometimes boils down to students doing show-and-tell: "Muslim seventh-graders would bring a prayer carpet. Russian Orthodox kids brought a crucifix. And they are on the spot to explain their religion in front of the others. It's ridiculous."

One Catholic father is glad for religious diversity in ethics teaching but says, "My son knows more about Ramadan than Lent."

Public school religion classes here don't advocate the practice or "exercise" of a particular faith. They include deeper instruction in traditions and texts – but no prayers, services, or proselytizing. Religion advocates say a mandated class will bring better and more sympathetic teaching, since churches, mosques, and temples will have a say in the faith quotient of those teaching their tradition.

How well state-licensed teachers of religion would do with a plethora of minority faiths that diverge from the mainstream is largely unanswered by Pro-Reli circles. It is one reason the idea would probably cause strife in a diverse religious nation like the US, a country with more than a hundred Protestant sects and a First Amendment tradition of church-state separation.

In Berlin, the aims of Pro-Reli are more general. "Can religious education promote or hinder tolerance?" asks Mr. Meister, the Lutheran leader. "The debate is so emotional because it is getting to these basic questions and fears. We think a real encounter with religion can promote tolerance."

Pro-Reli organizers started small, with street petitions outside churches. The enthusiastic response stunned them: At one point, there were crowds of 20,000 in a single day. Movement leader Lehmann says it proves that "Berliners aren't hard-core atheists just because they don't declare themselves churchgoers."

Pro-Reli has been lionized by celebrities, bishops, and TV personalities, causing some in the ethics camp to call it a fad. Attack ads funded by the Pro-Ethik camp charge that the referendum could result in "mandatory" religion and raise the specter of church prelate hordes trying to snare young minds. Lehmann calls the ads unfair. The issue, he says, is mandatory choice (a course in religion or ethics) versus compulsory ethics.

Last month, Pro-Reli took an unexpected body blow from the Senate in Berlin, which leans toward keeping ethics. Originally, the vote on the referendum was scheduled for early June, along with European parliamentary elections – a concurrence that would no doubt bring more people to the polls. The Senate shifted the referendum to a single-issue vote on April 26.

Whether or not that move is ethical, it is certainly political: For the measure to pass, one-quarter of Berlin's voting population (600,000 out of 2.4 million) must feel strongly enough about religion in schools to come out and cast a "yes" ballot.


Feminist social theories put to the test

A dissertation at Orebro University in Sweden brings to light major weaknesses in feminist social theories. They are untenable, far too undeveloped, and laden with insoluble internal problems of logic.

“Feminist social theories provide us with an ideologically colored picture of society,” maintains Helen Lindberg. "As social scientists, we are duty-bound to follow a scientific ethos, otherwise no one benefits, not even women. Instead it hurts the struggle for gender equality. I am writing this dissertation in the hope that it will further the struggle for gender equality in society.”

The dissertation examines four comprehensive theories that each claims to address the issue of how we should be able to understand and explain gender inequality and the unbalanced power relations between the sexes today. The theories - Anna G. Jónasdóttir’s Theory of Love Power, Catharine M. MacKinnon’s radical feminism, Luce Irigaray’s gynocentric distinctivist feminism, and Judith Butler’s queer feminism - are very different from each other and offer different answers to the question.

Helen Lindberg feels it is unfruitful to use the theories for social scientific research on gender relations, since they rest on starkly ideological foundations and evince faulty internal coherence.

The theories offer little or no scope for the individual to be able to change or develop society and have difficulties accomodating empirical evidence. The dissertation also discusses the political goals that the theories can be seen as leading to. “Some of them are clearly utopian and others are vague and quite undeveloped,” says Helen Lindberg.

Helen Lindberg points to the splintering within the Swedish political party Feminist Initiative as an example of what happens in politics when the various feminist ideological positions meet.

It was not only that the party consisted of different strong-willed individuals. The members also based their convictions on different feminist ideologies, and when they were not compatible, strife ensued.

Instead, feminist social theories, like other normative and ideologically based social theories, such as Marxism and Liberalism, should be regarded as aids in establishing what problems need to be addressed. Helen Lindberg also points out that there is a parallel between Marxism and feminism regarding their development as scientific and ideological projects in that both have always had a close relationship with liberation-oriented political action.

Helen Lindberg also points to the development from feminism to postfeminism. Post feminism rejects the fundamentals of feminist theory and the previous foundations. Postfeminism shifts and expands the feminist focus from the relation between women and men to also include gender identities regardless of sex, for example, as urgent both as a research focus and for political attention.

In her youth Helen Lindberg was fascinated by Marxist-oriented radical feminism, but she found it wanting when it came to dealing with the experiences of different women. “Writing the dissertation has been like plunging into a fierce wrestling match with my own convictions,” says Helen Lindberg.


British family courts system accused of hiding evidence from parents

Parents fighting in the family courts for contact with their children are being denied access to their personal files by a corrupt system, a leading parental rights campaigner has said. Alison Stevens, head of Parents Against Injustice, has called for Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to force social services and individual courts to comply with the Data Protection Act. She said: “Local authorities have to send the requested files within 40 days . . . but they are often not following public law guidelines. It’s corruption within the system. They are playing God, and there must be some reason why — perhaps to hide things they have got wrong in the cases.”

Evidence is gathered from a variety of sources before children are taken from their parents in family courts. Tracking down and obtaining these documents can be very difficult because they are held by various bodies and must be applied for in different ways.

Ms Stevens said: “Parents should be entitled to their files — not just social services files but all files: from health visitors, GPs, different hospitals, the ambulance trust, psychologist reports, paediatrician notes and so on.”

The Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has written to all MPs calling for a parliamentary review into the operation of the family courts. He said: “One of the ways legal practitioners prevent parents from fighting cases is by not giving them the paperwork. Often the paperwork doesn’t add up, so if parents got hold of it they would see what was going on.”

Many parents have welcomed the call for greater accountability. Roland Simpkin (not his real name) received his social services files seven years after his children were taken into care in 2001 amid allegations of abuse. When the allegations were shown to be unfounded, he sought to obtain the evidence held on him by social services to find out why he was still not allowed to see his children. He was sent his files last year, after pursuing his case through a series of letters, complaints and court orders, but he found that parts of the notes had been crossed through with black pen, words had been deleted and sections of paragraphs had been removed during photocopying.

Mr Simpkin said: “Despite being repeatedly found not to have harmed or posed a risk of harm to \ children or anybody else’s, the sheer amount of delay introduced by the sluggishness of the social services department to share information is likely to be a serious negative factor in any potential repeated contact \.”

In another case, Marc Tufano, an actor who has appeared in EastEnders and The Bill, has not seen his two sons for seven years because he cannot obtain the documents that he needs to bring his case to appeal. His children were given residence with his partner in 2003 after their relationship broke down. Though he immediately tried to launch an appeal, he said that he had found it impossible to obtain transcripts of the original court hearings because the court authorities had been slow to reply to his requests and had since claimed to have destroyed the documents.

Mr Tufano said: “I have begged these government agents to leave me alone so as I can see my sons without being harassed by endless arguments over the paperwork they require. It is made impossible for parents to get hold of the documents they need.”

Sezgi Kapur’s two daughters were taken from her in 2003 amid allegations that her violent attitude towards care professionals could be harmful to her children, allegations she denies.

Before the hearings in the family court, her requests for her social services files were ignored or denied, and she was forced to apply for court orders to disclose the documents. Without them, Ms Kapur was unable to respond to the evidence gathered against her by social services and care workers, and so was unable to fight her case effectively.

After the files were provided, she discovered that the minutes from high-level social services meetings about her case had been withheld and that memos had been circulated to those who attended asking them to “destroy all previous copies” of notes from the meeting.

Ms Kapur said: “These meetings painted a picture of me as a volatile, aggressive, threatening individual who was alienating professionals, who might one day emotionally harm my children through this purported alienation. It was incredible to read this. “I fired six sets of solicitors because they failed to get disclosure of all my documents. If the parents do not get a fair trial, the children do not either.”

Shaun O’Connell, a lay adviser working on behalf of Environmental Law Centre, said: “If you’re not familiar with the Data Protection Act and you don’t know the format and structure, it’s impossible.”


Australia: Why the lenient sentences for egregious criminals?

I documented long ago how great the gap is between what the courts deliver and what the public want. Nothing seems to have changed. Note the latest episode: "A driver who veered onto the wrong side of the road and killed a motorcyclist while tuning his car radio has walked free from court". I think many will see no reason why negligence causing death should be treated any differently from murder yet the courts are completely indulgent of such episodes

From my reading, Australian courts are somewhat more punitive than British courts but not as punitive as U.S. courts. There are however a lot of what seem very lenient sentences from some American courts too -- JR

I reckon the judiciary has a magisterial disdain for what you and I believe is justice. They certainly talk the talk. Judge Felicity Hampel thundered at stalker and nasty child pornographer Ross Andrew Sargent that he was predatory, and his secret toilet videos were a gross violation of the women and girls he filmed - then slashed his jail sentence to two months.

Judge Margaret Rizkalla had similarly harsh words for Matthew James Vernon, one of Victoria's worst sexual offenders. He raped an 11-year-old he was babysitting, and the poor girl had Vernon's child, an unimaginable physical and psychological trauma. "The complainant is now torn between the world of being a mother and the world of being a child,'' Rizkalla observed. "It cannot be overlooked, but the child will be a constant reminder (of Vernon's shocking and selfish crime),'' she said sternly - before sentencing him to a fraction of the decades he could have received.

Judge Roland Leckie was on to serial killer Peter Dupas's shortcomings 25 years ago. Sentencing Dupas in 1985 for a knife-wielding rape - and knowing his violently dark past - he told the convicted man, "there is a strong possibility of your reoffending'', and then let him serve relatively light sentences, concurrently, as well. Tragically, Nostradamus had nothing on the prescient Leckie. So far there's been lots of talking, but not much walking.

Last week there was more talk around killer-driver Brett Franklin, whose sentence for claiming the lives of sisters Glenda Thomson and Michelle Hurst, and seriously injuring Glenda's daughter Tara, has been reduced on appeal to just 5 years. It was a lenient sentence to begin with. The work of young, drunk, irresponsible drivers is one of the bigger issues in the community.

"We will catch you,'' warned Assistant Commissioner for Traffic Ken Lay on television and in billboards across the state over Christmas. And in Franklin's case they did get their man, if the young bloke can ever be called one. Franklin had previously lost his licence for speeding. On the night he killed Glenda and Michelle in a TAC ad come to life, he was about three times over the legal limit and friends begged him not to drive. Franklin knew better and, showing off doing burnouts and fish-tailing, his V8 lost control.

His original sentence would have seen him behind bars for only seven years, not much when you plead guilty to charges that could see you cop 20 years each on the two main counts - and you have form. Franklin also pleaded guilty to two charges of negligently causing serious injury. Now things get interesting, Judge John Smallwood complaining that the five-year maximum sentence for this too low.

That was a coincidence. Six days earlier Judge Joe Gullaci had dealt with a Brendon James Healey. Healey, driving drunk, had hit and almost killed Jordynne Wilkie, 6, along with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. JUDGE Gullaci said it had been a miracle that Healey, who jumped bail and fled overseas, had not wiped out four generations of the same family. He also commented that the five-year maximum sentence for negligently causing serious injury was inadequate - but then gave Healey a minimum sentence of four years when the bloke pleaded guilty to four of the offences, and why don't we chuck in speeding, skipping bail and exceeding .05 for bad measure?

Attorney-General Rob Hulls was listening. As shadow attorney-general he had pledged he would review sentencing laws, aware that we wanted tough penalties for serious offenders. In 2007, Hulls wrote to the Sentencing Advisory Council seeking advice on the maximum penalty for negligently causing serious injury, later doubling it from five years to 10. The Government was "committed to ensuring that adequate maximum sentences are in place'' he was reported saying at the time.

But that's just talk. You can increase as many maximum sentences as you like, but if the judiciary won't apply them, or anything getting near to them, then it's just legislation taking up shelf space. According to figures compiled by the Sentencing Advisory Council, the number of people jailed after being convicted in the higher courts of causing injury intentionally or recklessly is extraordinarily low, about one in five. Another one in four receives a ``wholly suspended sentence'' - ie, they walk. MANY others get community-based orders. Gee, I can feel that soggy lettuce thrashing the backs of my legs right now.

So what about the more serious culpable driving - you've killed someone and it's your fault? The Sentencing Advisory Council says of those convicted of this between 2001 and 2006: "Imprisonment terms ranged from one year to 12 years and three months, while the median length of imprisonment was five years.'' That should break your heart. More than 100 drivers have killed more than 100 of us for a median penalty of five years' jail. The worst offender received about 60 per cent of the possible maximum. That's why you might not be safe on the roads. If a bunch of those drivers was serving the 20 years behind bars, the Brett Franklins and Brendon Healeys of this world might think twice. We should be outraged. To the maximum. It's time to help judges see things our way

THERE are few more acute moments in the life of a democracy than when one person sits in judgment on another. It is a burdensome responsibility in which those we appoint must rise above any petty reactions of the aggrieved and look beyond simple biblical punishments that remain popular, but are these days mostly meted out drunkenly in pubs. We no longer take an eye for an eye, but we have turned the other cheek too far.

Our judiciary acts without prejudice or bias, and is objective. But our judges and magistrates go easy on lawbreakers and, I believe, are failing us with sentences that do not reflect community attitudes and that too often are well short of what their authors expected. Too often, criminals receive quite light sentences, appeal them, and are further rewarded with even lighter sentences. The Sunday Herald Sun reported earlier this month that our Court of Appeals had slashed 116 years of jail time off killers, rapists and drug dealers in the past 16 months. Those precedents further damage our faith in the system because they become part of "current sentencing practices''.

I would like to see every judge and magistrate's performance recorded and constantly updated. We should be able to look up their sentencing records. Legal fraternity insiders know the hanging judges and those who go easy - so why can't we? Why doesn't every sentencing decision record what percentage of the possible maximum has just been delivered? It would shock many people to know how infrequently a robust sentence is handed down. Each of those percentage figures should be filed against a name. Soon, an insightful profile of the sentencing inclinations of judges would emerge and we could deal with any anomalies.

We have a right to know the judges whose decisions are most regularly challenged in the Appeals Court. We have a right to know which judges' have the most decision overturned. Let's put an end to concurrent sentences. They are not sentences at all.

LET'S have no time off for good behaviour. Add time for bad behaviour, and plenty of it.

Finally, given how out of touch so may magistrates and judges seem to be, let's learn from the successful Operation Beacon, in which all operational police, more than 8000 of them, were retrained throughout 1994 after a series of unnecessary shooting deaths sparked public uproar. Almost immediately, the shootings stopped and the reputation of Victoria Police recovered.

We need an Operation Beacon for the Victorian judiciary in which every magistrate and judge is "retrained'' - familiarised once more with the contours of common thought, the great aggregates of opinion held by the society in which they work. Judicial life is privileged, exclusive and too often isolated. We can fix that. We should.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

British pupils aged 11 compelled to learn about homosexual sex

Campaigners say the sex education review for children needs to go farther

Compulsory sex and relationships lessons for 11-year-old children are to include classroom discussions on gay unions and civil partnerships. Secondary pupils will learn about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), while primary school children will learn about their bodies and friendships, a review of sex education has concluded.

The review was ordered in October after ministers announced that sex and relationships education (SRE) lessons should be made compulsory to help primary and secondary pupils to “navigate the complexities of modern life” and to ensure that children learnt their sex education from the classroom, not the playground.

The changes to personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) classes mark the culmination of decades of campaigning by sexual health organisations, who believe that the patchy nature of sex education in schools is helping to fuel a record level of teenage pregnancy and STIs in England.

Last night campaigners welcomed the review, conducted by Sir Alasdair MacDonald, a secondary head teacher in Tower Hamlets, East London. However, they suggested that its recommendations did not go far enough.

Although the new PSHE classes will be compulsory from 2011, faith schools in England will be given licence to provide sex and relationships education within the context of their own values. This could mean that children will be taught that their religion regards the use of contraceptives as a sin. Parents will also have a legal right to withdraw children from SRE classes. Currently one in 2,500 parents withdraws children from nonstatutory sex education classes.

Sexual health charities warned that allowing parents to opt out, even if it involved only a small number, was an infringement of young people’s rights. Julie Bentley, chief executive of fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, said that while religion and sex education were not incompatible, schools should not be allowed to interpret the report “to mean they can tell young people, for example, that contraception isn’t a matter of choice – it is simply wrong”.

She added: “We would like further assurances that when SRE becomes statutory, all schools will teach it responsibly, ethically and factually as a core subject.”

Simon Blake, national director of the sexual health charity Brook, said: “Young people need to understand the law – that you can get contraception, that you can have an abortion – and understand the health benefits of practising safer sex. It would not be right for anyone to tell them that this is wrong, but it is OK for them to be told that some people believe it is wrong.”

The Catholic Education Service for England and Wales welcomed the opt-out. “This is a crucial right in a community where parents are the first educators of their children, because parents are responsible for bringing up their children, and not the State,” it said.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, accepted Sir Alasdair’s review, subject to a four-month consultation that will look again at the content of SRE lessons, but told MPs that he would keep the right of nonacceptance under review.

Sir Alasdair said that making PSHE compulsory would help the quality of teaching. “There is probably greater variability in teaching and learning in this subject than in most other subjects,” he said.


Newspapers are a dying breed because of technology and disappearance of neutrality in reporting

By Dan Gainor. This is testimony Dan Gainor gave before the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy of the Committee on the Judiciary April 21, 2009. The topic was a hearing on “A New Age for Newspapers.”

I’m Dan Gainor, Vice President of Business and Culture for the Media Research Center. It’s an honor and privilege to come here and speak about one of my favorite topics in the world – newspapers. From the first time I ever read on my own, newspapers have been a part of my life. I’ve worked at three different dailies and several weeklies and online news operations following that calling.

You don’t have to tell me that the newspaper business in changing. Three of those organizations I have worked for are now out of business. Until recently, I wrote a column for the Baltimore Examiner, but it closed putting dozens of friends and fellow journalists out of work.

The news media are going through a time of epic changes and that is never easy. In a few short years, evening dailies have all but died out. The rise of the Internet changed even more. Newspapers first lost most of the employment advertising to firms like Monster.com and since have lost classified ad revenue to Craigslist. Other sources of revenue – from personal ads to real estate – have met with smarter, more nimble competition.

While it is fair to blame much of the decline in newspapers to technology, it is not the only factor. The newspaper industry has changed too – for the worse. Standards have slipped or all but disappeared. The concept of a journalist as a neutral party has become a punch line for a joke, not a guideline for an industry.

We all saw how poorly the mainstream press covered the last election. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, voters believed that the media wanted Barack Obama to win the presidential election. “By a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win,” Pew reported. Other surveys confirmed it: According to Rasmussen, "Over half of U.S. voters (51%) think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin.”

It wasn’t just surveys, it was journalists themselves. According to Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, in a column headlined: “An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage,” the paper’s election coverage consistently supported Obama in everything from positive stories to flattering photos.

That same slant reappeared last week during the Tax Day Tea Party protests. The Post didn’t write a story about more than 750 events nationwide until the day they happened – far different from how they handled other protests. Their own media critic Howard Kurtz even knocked such minimal coverage. The New York Times did preview the events six times – and five of those were negative.

Such one-sided reporting has destroyed the credibility of the print press. Among newspapers, the most trusted name in news is The Wall Street Journal and just 25 percent of readers “believe all or most of what [that] organization says” according to Pew. For The New York Times, that number is 18 percent and USA Today 16 percent. The only publications lower are People magazine and The National Enquirer.

In fact, for The New York Times, the number who believe “almost nothing” in the newspaper is nearly identical to those who do believe. And while newspaper credibility has taken a hit among both Democrats and Republicans, it is lowest among Republicans with the Times having just a 10 percent credibility rating in that group. One person in 10? You could write graffiti on a wall and have more people believe you. But the Times still has widespread influence and a story on the front page can be picked up appear in some form in countless media outlets.

The Times’s former Public Editor Daniel Okrent answered the question the Times is a liberal newspaper by saying: “Of course it is....These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed.”

For decades many in the media have been working with their eyes closed – convinced of their own neutrality when all around them feel otherwise. In study after study, journalists consistently admit they support liberal causes and vote for Democratic candidates. In 2004, Pew found journalists identified themselves liberal over conservative by a five-to-one ratio. Were journalists the only ones voting for president, they would have elected a Democrat every time since 1972.

The Society of Professional Journalists, to which I belong, has a detailed Code of Ethics. At its heart, it says journalists should provide “a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” They do neither. It’s fitting, then, in a hearing to discuss the “diversity of voices,” that everyone here grasp a key point. Diversity of voices in print isn’t about news, it’s fiction.


The Genocide Mechanism

By Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch director Itamar Marcus was in Geneva during the UN Durban II conference and counter-conferences last week, and writes about how ordinary people can be convinced to participate in genocide)

Survivors of the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur spoke in Geneva this week at the parallel conference on human rights to counter the UN Durban II event. Listening to them describe how they were systematically demonized by the killers made it clear that genocide does not happen in a vacuum. The hate condition of a population willing and anxious to commit genocide needs nurturing. Genocide must be framed positively to get the necessary broad public support.

Common to the framing of all genocide is a very specific kind of demonization. In Rwanda, the Hutus taught that the Tutsis were cockroaches and snakes. Tutsi women were portrayed as cunning seductresses who used beauty and sexual power to conquer the Hutus. In Bosnia, a fictitious news report said Muslims were feeding Serb children to animals at the Sarajevo zoo. Radio Rwanda repeatedly broadcast a warning that Hutus were about to be attacked by Tutsis, to convince the Hutus that they needed to attack first to protect themselves.

This demonization included two specific components. First, the victims had to be perceived as a clear and present threat, so that the killers were convinced they were acting in self-defense. Second, the victims were dehumanized, so that the killers convinced themselves that they were not destroying real human beings.

A decent person will not join in a murder of innocents, but a decent person might join in the killing of a subhuman who is threatening his very existence. Framing genocide as self-defense can turn decent people into killers. Protection of children and family can turn a calm neighbor into a passionate murderer, because self-defense is always justified.

In Darfur and Rwanda, all that was necessary to turn a society of ordinary people into killers was to convince them that they were in danger, and that the people endangering them were less than human.

LOOKING BACK on Jewish history, it is clear that the method used to foment violence against Jews has always involved the same framing of "self-defense," with only the details changed.

So when Jews were falsely accused of poisoning wells in the Middle Ages, causing thousands of deaths, even decent people joined in the killings. They did not perceive themselves as murderers because they were defending themselves and their families. When Jews were believed to be using blood of children for Passover matzot, even decent people felt comfortable massacring Jews, as they were defending their children from horrific torture.

Even Hitler used this argument of self-defense in Mein Kampf: "In this case [given the Jews' threat to the German people] the only salvation remaining was war, war with all the weapons the human spirit, reason, and will could muster... If the Jew... is victorious over the peoples of this world, then his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity... Thus I believe today that I am acting according to the will of the almighty creator: When I defend myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." Hitler, too, packaged his genocide as legitimate self-defense. The details may change in each society, but the framing is always the same.

EXAMINING PALESTINIAN hate promotion today, it is especially striking and disconcerting that these components of the past genocides against Jews are prominent elements of the hate promotion of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas against Jews and Israelis. Two items on Hamas TV earlier this month clearly document this.

Hamas TV broadcast a skit featuring actors playing a Jewish father and son, in traditional hassidic garb, discussing the hatred of Muslims that their Jewish religion mandates. The father even revives the age-old libel that Jews drink the blood of Muslims: "Shimon, look, my son, I want to teach you a few things. You have to hate the Muslims... we want to kill the Muslims, we Jews want to drink the blood of Muslims." He later criticizes his son for washing his hands in water before prayer: "We have to wash our hands with the blood of Muslims" (Al-Aqsa TV, April 3). Ironically, the Hamas accusation that Jews drink Muslim blood came the week before Passover, the anniversary of many horrific blood libels.

That same day, a Hamas religious leader ended his sermon with the promise of eventual genocide of the Jews. But to frame it properly, he opened with a depiction of Jews as the enemies of humanity: The Jews are inherently evil, seek to rule the world and are a threat to Muslims and all of humanity.

This is how Ziad Abu Alhaj framed it: "Hatred for Muhammad and Islam is in their [Jews'] souls, they are naturally disposed to it... Israel is a cancer that wants to rule the world." He concluded that the Jews are destined to be annihilated: "The time will come, by Allah's will, when their property will be destroyed and their children will be exterminated, and no Jew or Zionist will be left on the face of this earth" (Al-Aqsa TV, April 3).

THIS DEMONIZATION and dehumanization of Jews is not limited to Hamas. Although hesitant to call for explicit murdering of Jews while seeking Western money, the PA continues its unrelenting framing of genocide as self-defense and for the common good. In the PA-Fatah media today, Jews and Israelis are demonized through malicious libels, including such lies as the assertion that Israel intentionally spreads AIDS and drugs, conducts Nazi-like medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners and is planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Says the Palestinian chief religious justice, Tayseer al-Tamimi: "The AIDS issue needs to receive due attention... since we neighbor a society [Israel] where the disease is widespread and which acts to transmit [AIDS] to Palestinian society. The occupying authorities, especially in Jerusalem, are working to spread drugs and drug addiction, without a doubt" (PA radio, February 17, 2008).

And this from Dr. Mutawakil Taha, head of the Palestinian Writers' Union and former PA deputy minister: "We saw how they [Zionists] stab bellies of pregnant women, slaughter infants and eat life in cold blood. They targeted children and the wombs of women so this people won't reproduce" (PA TV, March 4, 2008).

A July 2008 article in Al-Ayyam accused Israeli settlers of releasing rats in Jerusalem's Old City "to turn the [Arab] residents' life into a living hell, forcing then to leave..." (July 17, 2008). A PA TV video clip juxtaposes scenes of a real Israeli tank with fictitious scenes of a child actor being shot, creating the fiction that Israelis deliberately target and shoot Palestinian children (PATV, May 15, 2008).

Just as the Tutsis were described as cockroaches and snakes, both Hamas and the PA have described Jews as loathsome and dangerous animals, including cockroaches, spiders, scorpions and alligators. While each libel is somewhat different, their essence is the same: The Israelis and the Jews are dangerous, they are not human, we need to defend ourselves from them and we are clearly justified in doing so.

It is tragic that this framing of genocide as necessary self-defense has been so chillingly successful. A poll after last year's murders of eight teenage yeshiva students found that "84 percent of Palestinians support the terror attack killing eight young students in a Jerusalem yeshiva on March 6, 2008" (Poll by Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, The New York Times, March 19, 2008). How can an entire Palestinian society support the murder of children? Clearly, the framing of Jews and Israelis as mortally dangerous to Palestinians has been totally successful.

Israel now faces a society that is very possibly past the stage of genocide framing and at the point of seeing the killing of Israelis, even teens, as justified. All that would be necessary for the population to go along with the final script, detailed so many times by its leaders, would be the means.


Australia: The "Four Scorners" come unglued

We see once again the bias and lack of ethics we have come to expect from Left-leaning public broadcasters. It is now completely clear that nothing they say should be taken seriously

Nick Kaldas specialises in assassinations. It was not his intention, it just worked out that way. He is on leave from his job as Deputy NSW Police Commissioner to head the investigation by the United Nations Special Tribunal into the assassination of a former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri, and several related murders and murder attempts.

Kaldas has also served in Iraq training the new police force, which routinely deals with political murder. His expertise in such dark matters began back in 1994, when he led the investigation into Australia's first political assassination, the murder of the NSW Labor MP John Newman. A local Labor politician and Vietnamese community leader, Phuong Ngo, was convicted in 2001 of orchestrating the killing.

Eight years later, to the distress of Kaldas, he has had to deal with a different kind of assassination - character assassination. It began on April 7 last year, when ABC's Four Corners broadcast a program which questioned whether the conviction of Phuong Ngo had been a miscarriage of justice, based in part on sloppy conduct by Kaldas.

The Four Corners program was loaded with suppositions such as this one, by a former Labor politician: "I don't think they [Phuong Ngo's accusers] had anything else to go on. I think just because he was Vietnamese." Friends of Ngo, such as the refugee advocate Marion Le, were quoted claiming there had been "a miscarriage of justice".

The report was based in part on the work of two academics from the Australian National University, Hugh Selby and Don Greig. Soon after the program went to air, both men made submissions to the Chief Justice of NSW, James Spigelman, calling for the murder case to be reopened. On the basis of these submissions and the public claims made in the Four Corners program, Spigelman ordered a judicial inquiry into the case. This was highly unusual. On the same day, the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, issued a press release dissociating himself from the decision. [Spigelman was a far-Left student in his university days]

The Chief Justice ordered the inquiry without seeking advice from the NSW Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, or the NSW Crime Commission. The matter had been exhaustively examined by hearings of the NSW Crime Commission, a coroner's inquest, a committal hearing, three Supreme Court trials (one aborted, one resulting in a 10-to-one hung jury, and one which led to the conviction of Ngo), an appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, and an appeal to the High Court of Australia, which declined to give leave to hear the case.

The inquiry went ahead. The cost to the taxpayer was $770,000. When it was over, the judicial officer who conducted the inquiry, the retired judge David Patten, issued a devastatingly comprehensive rejection of the accusations that had been regurgitated on Four Corners and put by Ngo's supporters in submissions to the inquiry, including a former independent member of the NSW upper house, Peter Breen. To quote from Patten's report, released last week:
"Not one scintilla of evidence points to any wrongdoing or improper activity by Mr Kaldas … despite a number of allegations by various supporters of Mr Ngo there is no evidence that the investigation of Mr Newman's murder was conducted otherwise than professionally and competently …

"[The] material put before the inquiry increased rather than diminished the strength of the Crown's case at trial. Moreover, Mr Ngo's own evidence, which was not before the jury at the trial where he was convicted, was, I believe, very destructive of his claim of innocence …

"Regrettably, the strength of the evidence available against Mr Ngo was virtually ignored by his supporters in their submissions to the inquiry. Unsupported allegations of gross impropriety were substituted for analysis of the facts … Mr Selby's submission to the Chief Justice … lost all significance, in my opinion, when scrutinised at an open hearing …

"I find that nothing in the matters raised by Mr Selby [and] nothing which has come before me [suggest] the investigation into Mr Newman's murder was conducted otherwise than thoroughly and competently by police officers dedicated to the task."
During the preparation of the Four Corners report, Kaldas declined to be interviewed on camera because, he told me last week, he had come to the view that the ABC reporter, Debbie Whitmont, was biased against the Crown case. He did, however, agree to go through the trial evidence with Whitmont, in detail. He took notes of these meetings. When the Four Corners program went to air he found that not one of the points he had made to Whitmont was mentioned.

Unusually, the accusations made on Four Corners were subjected to forensic scrutiny and the report by Patten found the inquiry had "increased rather than diminished" the strength of the Crown's case. He criticised Ngo's supporters for their "lack of objectivity", "intemperate language" and "making allegations of fraud, perversion of justice, and improper conduct … without a shred of evidence".

Yet all this was the basis on which the two ANU academics and Four Corners based their claims. Debbie Whitmont submitted the report for a Walkley Award. And won.

Last week, Four Corners issued a statement standing by its report. No acknowledgement of error. No acknowledgement of distress caused. No hint of admission that the program contained innuendo, omission, supposition, false accusation and a preconceived outcome. This is exactly the sort of case another ABC program, Media Watch, should examine, but it is the last thing it would touch, because the opinionated Media Watch actually operates as Ideology Watch. Such is the ethical rigour at our ABC.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Antiabortion activist videos crooked abortionists

Killing that baby comes first for them and they would rather cover up crime than notify the girl's parents

The girl's voice in the videotape is tiny and tentative. She is talking to a nursing aide in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bloomington, Ind. The girl wants an abortion. The aide explains that the girl will need a parent's consent because she is only 13. The girl balks; she does not want to name the father. "Cause, I mean, he would be in really big trouble," says the girl. Her boyfriend, she explains, is 31.

The aide drops her head into her hands. "In the state of Indiana," says the aide, "when anyone has had intercourse and they are age 13 or younger . . . it has to be reported to Child Protective Services."

There is a 60-second gap in the tape, according to the running timer on the video. What happens next is meant to be explosive. "OK," says the aide, "I didn't hear the age. I don't want to know the age. It could be reported as rape. And that's child abuse."

"So if I just say I don't know who the father was, but he's one of the guys at school or something?" asks the girl. "Right," says the aide, who has just stepped into a carefully laid trap.

As it happens, the boyfriend does not exist. The girl is not pregnant. Nor is she 13. She is Lila Rose, a 20-year-old UCLA history major with a little voice and a bold plan to expose what she and many abortion foes see as Planned Parenthood's wrongdoings. Since 2006, Rose has orchestrated undercover "stings" at Planned Parenthood clinics in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Tucson, Phoenix and Memphis.

Surreptitiously videotaping their interactions, she and a friend have posed as abortion-seeking teens impregnated by older men. The videos -- boiled down to five minutes, with portentous music and fast cuts to heighten the drama -- are posted on Rose's website, LiveAction.org, and YouTube.

Rose's strategy -- accusing Planned Parenthood of failing to report suspected statutory rapes -- is not a new one in the antiabortion trenches. But the new-media twist on the idea has put her front and center of a new generation. "There is this stereotype of who we pro-life leaders are, and for the most part it would be white middle-aged religious men trying to impose their will on women," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition. "So now with Lila, you bring this young, fresh college student that completely blows any stereotypes away. No one is going to accuse Lila of being mean, vindictive and harsh."

Rose's goal is to undermine legal abortion by showing that Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country, abets sexual exploitation by counseling pregnant minors to lie about the ages of their adult boyfriends. Planned Parenthood officials strenuously deny the charge. Protecting minors is a crucial part of their mission, they say, but with 30,000 employees and volunteers and 850 clinics, they say, mistakes are inevitable.

Abortion is not likely to be outlawed any time soon, but Rose's work is having an impact, particularly on a local level, where abortion foes are increasingly focusing their efforts. On Wednesday, Tennessee lawmakers said they would seek to end a $721,000 contract with Planned Parenthood, citing outrage over what they saw in a video Rose had posted two days earlier from a Memphis clinic. She posed there in July as a 14-year-old impregnated by a 31-year-old; a Planned Parenthood staffer says, "Just say you have a boyfriend, 17 years old, whatever."

Last month, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to suspend a grant worth nearly $300,000 to Planned Parenthood that was earmarked for sex education, not abortions. A conservative Tustin businessman raised the issue with Supervisor John Moorlach after meeting Rose and seeing her videos.

Last year, after the Indiana videos were posted on Rose's website, Bloomington's Herald Times reported that the nurse's aide seen on the tape had been fired. A second Planned Parenthood staffer, in Indianapolis, resigned: Rose's tape appeared to show that employee directing the young woman across the state line to a clinic in Illinois, which doesn't have a parental consent law.

A grand jury is investigating whether Planned Parenthood violated the law, said Mario Massillamany, a spokesman for the prosecutor of Marion County, where Indianapolis is located. "After we stated we were conducting an investigation, they hired a group to conduct better training for their staff," he added.


EU judges want Sharia law applied in British courts

Judges could be forced to bow to Sharia law in some divorce cases heard in Britain. An EU plan calls for family courts across Europe to hear cases using the laws of whichever country the couple involved have close links to. That could mean a court in England handling a case within the French legal framework, or even applying the laws of Saudi Arabia to a husband and wife living in Britain.

The Centre for Social Justice think tank today attacked the so-called Rome III reform as ludicrous. It warned it would slow down cases, increase costs and lead to unjust results. However, in a report it says existing arrangements are 'anti-family'.

Currently, a couple from different EU states can have their divorce heard in the first country where one of them files divorce papers. Because different states offer varying financial advantages to spouses in terms of division of wealth, the resulting 'race to court' in the best jurisdiction discourages couples from trying to save their marriage, it says.

The report calls for a simpler solution, with each country applying its own laws and cases being heard in the country where the couple have the closest connection. At least nine EU states - not including the UK - are said to want to push ahead with the Rome III plan.


Britain: Give us back our private lives

As Labour unveils plans to monitor every one of our phone calls and emails, it is time to demand an end to state snooping. "Your moves are monitored by your bus tickets. There are CCTV cameras on every building and computer chips on the rubbish bin – and they can tell a lot about your life by studying your rubbish ...Security has got absurd."

The Russian journalist Irada Zeinalova wasn't talking about Putin's Russia. She wasn't even talking about life in the old Soviet Union. She was talking about Britain today.

Mrs Zeinalova has lived in Britain for several years. But she doesn't like the level of intrusion into her private life that she experiences. Many native Britons take the same view. An increasing number of people resent the constant surveillance that has become common in many cities in Britain. Britain has more security cameras per head of population than anywhere else in the world: each one is justified, at least by those who have installed it, by the role it plays in detecting and reducing crime.

Just as insidious is the amount of data the state now holds on its citizens – and the Government last week unveiled plans to hold still more, because your every phone call, email and visit to a website will be monitored by the state.

Some of the material the state collects, such as tax and pension details, is an unavoidable part of the bureaucracy necessary to run a modern state. Other databases are also, in principle, uncontentious: doctors cannot treat you effectively if they do not know your medical history, for instance, so the keeping of medical records is beneficial rather than harmful.

Still other databases – the violent offender and sex offender registers, for example – can be said to have a role in fighting crime. But there is a slippery slope here, and it leads to a state of permanent police supervision of everyone. "Preventing and detecting crime" can be used as a justification for expanding databases and surveillance almost indefinitely. And it has been. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) defines and regulates spying by government bodies. As the Home Office's latest consultation paper on RIPA reveals, at least 42 government departments and organisations are entitled to spy on the public. They include such bodies as the Charity Commission, the Department for Environment, and the Department of Work and Pensions. If you include local authorities who are also allowed to spy on you, there are more than 400 government agencies entitled to snoop.

The Government says that such organisations are involved in ensuring that people comply with the law. It adds that the police cannot be required to do everything: they simply do not have the resources. Ministers stress that we have no reason to be worried. They insist that those "with nothing to hide have nothing to fear". The problem is that everybody has something to hide: some degree of privacy is necessary for human dignity – as Jacqui Smith, of all people, should now know, after what happened to her husband. [Exposed as a porn addict]

The protections against any government department using surveillance unjustifiably are, in theory, considerable. Public authorities have to be "satisfied" that surveillance is "necessary and proportionate". Officials are meant to "consider the impact of these techniques on the privacy of those under investigation". Public authorities who use surveillance are "subject to independent inspection". The practice, however, has been very different. Officials frequently seem to think that they are justified in spying on private citizens if they suspect them of any violation, however apparently insignificant. That explains the hundreds of hours spent secretly observing whether people have been recycling correctly, or have let their dogs foul the pavement.

But it has not been the independent inspectors who have revealed such abuses. It has been newspapers such as The Sunday Telegraph. The checks and balances have clearly not worked: 183 councils have used surveillance powers 10,288 times over the past five years. Only in one in 10 cases has the result been a successful prosecution, caution or even a fixed penalty notice.

Given past practice, is it possible to believe that an effective system of regulation can be put in place? If you think it is, you will accept the ministers' argument that surveillance can be restricted to cases where it is "necessary and proportionate". If you do not, then you will agree that the only way to halt our slide towards a version of Orwell's Big Brother is to curb the power of state officials to order surveillance, restricting it to cases where national security is clearly at stake, and to the agencies that are dedicated to that purpose.

The increasing amount of spying raises another problem: how to ensure that the data will not fall into the wrong hands. The Government promises to safeguard our privacy but it has not been able to do so. For example, even Gordon Brown's medical records have recently been accessed by a doctor who had no reason to look at them. Officials also enter data wrongly into data bases. People have been wrongly identified as criminals, as benefit cheats or frauds.

The fallibility of state officials may be the biggest threat. In the 18 months since computer disks containing the records of all 25 million families receiving child benefit were lost by officials, at least a dozen other departments have admitted to losing vital personal data on millions of people. Should the data fall into the hands of criminals, the potential for damage is immense.

Neither of these problems has deterred the Government from increasing the spying powers of state organisations. Under the rubric of "data modernisation", Labour is committed to expanding the databases it holds on the population, and so the state's capacity for surveillance. The "Intercept Modernisation Programme" will store details of all of our phone calls, text messages, emails and visits to internet sites; the "National Identity Register" will store biometric data on each of us; "eBorders" will keep a record on each time anyone leaves or arrives in Britain ... The list of "data modernisation" programmes continues to grow. If all of them come to fruition, it will mean that in Britain private life, at least as we know it, will become a thing of the past.

We might all be safer. But the price of that greater security will be the destruction of privacy – and a significant amount of human dignity.


Australia: Appalling black-run grocery stores in black communities

More Federal intervention? Nope. The Leftists will just talk and do nothing

In one Queensland community, a packet of pasta costs $4, a kilo of tomatoes is worth almost $9 and deodorant is sold for more than $10. But the food is often out of date and the store is unclean.

In a damning submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into indigenous community stores, Lockhart River residents say people have fallen ill after eating poor-quality food from a local store. The submission - compiled by Royal Flying Doctor Service employees on behalf of Lockhart River residents - accuses the community store of stocking "mouldy" bread, "rotten" fruit, frozen vegetables which have been defrosted and refrozen and meat that tastes like "cardboard" when cooked. The submission complains about a lack of healthy quick meal options, no pricing on some goods and a filthy store environment.

A comparison of prices shows Lockhart River residents pay up to seven times more than shoppers in Cairns for some common items. Tomatoes, for example, cost $2.45 kg in Cairns, but $8.66 kg at Lockhart River. The cheapest pasta in Lockhart River costs $4.02 for a 500g packet, but the same product could be bought in Cairns for 59c.

A submission from the Kowanyama community on Cape York says its store also sells out-of-date foods with prices up to three times those in Cairns. It says complaints are generally ignored. Supporting those submissions, the Australian Red Cross has told the inquiry such "exorbitant" prices are unjust. "The poorest people in the country are forced to endure the highest prices in the country," the submission says.

According to the Red Cross, the situation has directly contributed to malnutrition and chronic disease in Australia's indigenous population. The inquiry will hold public hearings in the Northern Territory this week.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, April 27, 2009

You can't win: Disney Accused of Racial Insensitivity Over First Animated Black Princess

The arrival of a black First Lady in the White House might have been greeted with celebration around the world, but the similarly historic debut of Walt Disney’s first black princess has not been received so warmly. The studio, known for its wholesome and predominantly white family values, has made several changes to its first African-American princess, Tiana, who will star in a new animated film this Christmas entitled "The Princess and the Frog," amid accusations of racial insensitivity.

Disney has already changed the profession of the princess (an aspiring restaurant entrepreneur instead of a chambermaid) and name (Tiana instead of Maddy, which critics thought was too similar to “Mammy," a once-common term for black female slaves in white households). Tiana will be played by Anika Noni Rose, who starred in "Dreamgirls," while Tiana’s mother will be played by the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

The controversy has intensified after it was revealed that the film would be set in New Orleans and that Tiana would find love with a white prince — well, almost. His skin has been described as olive-toned and he will be voiced by Bruno Campos, a Brazilian actor.

“What? No black prince? What’s up with this?” blogged James Collier on Acting White, an anti-racism Web site, in a posting typical of the general disbelief among the film’s most vocal black critics. “Perhaps Disney doesn’t want the future mothers of dwindling white America being imprinted so early in their lives with the notion of a black suitor.”

Another blogger, Angela Helm, attracted nearly 3,000 comments on the Black Voices Web site when she complained that “even though there is a real-life black man in the highest office in the land with a black wife, Disney obviously doesn’t think a black man is worthy of the title of prince."

It has been more than seven decades since Disney released its first princess movie, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The company’s “princess division” has eight characters, which generates an estimated $4 billion in revenues annually.

Until now, the line-up of royal heroines, which includes a Native American character (Pocahontas) and an Asian character (Mulan), was missing something: a black woman. And so the decision was made in the mid-2000s — before anyone outside of Chicago had heard of the Obamas — to make Tiana the ninth princess.

According to leaked details, the princess is transformed into a frog after kissing one and has to venture into the mystical bayous of Louisiana to find a cure from a voodoo queen.


'What makes you think it's natural to be heterosexual?': British Christian teacher suspended over homosexual rights

A senior teacher has been suspended from his £50,000-a-year job after he complained that a training day for staff was used to promote gay rights. Kwabena Peat, 54, was one of several Christian staff who walked out of the compulsory session at a North London school after an invited speaker questioned why people thought heterosexuality was natural.

The presentation was given by Sue Sanders, a co-founder of the Schools Out organisation which campaigns for gay equality in education. According to Mr Peat, Ms Sanders, herself a lesbian, said that staff who did not accept that being gay was normal had ‘issues’ they had to deal with.

Mr Peat, a history teacher who is also a head of year, said he was upset that people who disagreed on religious grounds had no chance to respond. He wrote privately to the three staff members who organised the session, complaining about Ms Sanders’ ‘aggressive’ presentation. In his letter, he cited the Bible and warned that practising homosexuals risked God’s ‘wrath’.

But the staff complained to the school’s principal that they felt ‘harassed and intimidated’ by the letter and, after an investigation, Mr Peat was placed on paid leave. He is now being supported by the Christian Legal Centre. ‘I am very disappointed, although not shocked,’ the married father of three said last night. ‘I am the one who has been harassed and intimidated – for expressing my religious views.’

Mr Peat, who has spent most of his career teaching in inner-city London schools, joined Park View Academy, a large secondary comprehensive in Tottenham, three years ago. He said he was very supportive of ‘equality and diversity’ programmes.

The row erupted in January when the school held an In-Service Education and Training (Inset) day, during which staff were required to attend a session on child protection issues. Ms Sanders, 62, founded the voluntary organisation Schools Out in 1974. However, the £850 training session was organised by Chrysalis, a training team that specialises in diversity issues.

Mr Peat said he had expected her merely to provide information to help teachers handle homophobic bullying, but she had gone much further. ‘She started promoting homosexual lifestyles and suggesting those who had objections should sort out their prejudices. She said, “What makes you all think that to be heterosexual is natural?” It was at that point I walked out.’

In a statement last night, headteacher Alex Atherton said: ‘An allegation of intimidation and harassment is currently being investigated.’

Ms Sanders said her training sessions were designed to ‘raise awareness’.


France’s Barbarian ‘killers’ stir spectre of anti-semitism

FRANCE must confront its dark side this week when 28 members of a gang called the Barbarians go on trial in Paris for murdering a Jewish mobile phone salesman. The killing of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi, who was held to ransom for three weeks on a council estate in the grim Parisian suburbs, sickened a country haunted by a history of anti-semitism and wartime collaboration with the Nazis.

Relatives of the victim last week expressed indignation at the defence’s attempts to cast doubt on claims that Youssouf Fofana, leader of the gang, had chosen to kidnap Halimi in 2006 because he was Jewish.

“We’re shocked that there is even any debate about it,” said Anne-Laure, one of Halimi’s sisters. She noted that Fofana, who insisted on gang members calling him “Osama”, had often insulted Jews and sung verses from the Koran in between ransom demands over the telephone. He allegedly told his accomplices that he wanted to kidnap a Jew because the Jewish community was rich, would stick together and would pay a big ransom.

“My son died because of that prejudice, just like millions of Jews before him,” wrote Ruth Halimi in a recent book about the ordeal in which she compared the kidnapping with that of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist beheaded by Muslim extremists in 2002.

After several previous attempts at kidnapping Jews and extorting money from Jewish doctors, Fofana employed an attractive schoolgirl as “bait” to lure Halimi to a meeting in the suburbs. He was set upon by the Barbarians whose members included blacks, Arabs and whites from Portugal and France.

Ruth Halimi complained in her book that police told her not to worry. “You don’t kidnap someone to kill them,” she was told. “They won’t kill your son.”

The kidnappers initially asked for £450,000 to be transferred to them electronically. The family was advised by police to ask for a face-to-face meeting before paying any money, but negotiations kept foundering.

The kidnappers were torturing Halimi - for their amusement, it seems - with acid, cigarette burns and cardboard cutters. When they eventually tired of the negotiations, they stabbed him several times in the body and throat and dumped him by the side of the road. He died in an ambulance.

Fofana fled to the Ivory Coast, from where he continued to taunt Halimi family members over the telephone until he was arrested. Just as shocking as the brutality was the fact that so many people knew about it and failed to tell the police. The girl who had been used in the “honey trap” told several friends about the kidnapping, but none came forward. One of the gang members who did not want Halimi to be killed told his father what was happening. He advised the boy to keep quiet.

Some 160 witnesses will be called to the stand in a trial which, to the disappointment of the victim’s family, is expected to be closed to the public on the grounds that most of the defendants were minors when the crimes were committed. The trial will focus attention on rising attacks on Jews over the past few years, during which thousands have emigrated to Israel. Ruth Halimi had her son’s body disinterred in 2007 so that his remains could be reburied in Israel.

“You will never be able to hurt him any more,” she wrote in her book, addressing the killers. “I took him away from here because one day you will be free and you would have been able to come and spit on his tomb.” The desecration of Jewish graveyards has become a common crime in France.


Obama, Alinsky, and Scapegoats
'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' - Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals.
That's what Barack Obama taught his ACORN followers in all his Community Agitator classes in Chicago. That slogan defines mob scapegoating, of course. It is an exact prescription for whipping up mobs -- by race, by gender, by ethnicity, by religion. If you want to know how to whip a mob of Pakistani Taliban fascisti to whip a young girl for flirting with a young man in public, this is exactly what you do: Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personality It, and Polarize It. And notice that "the target" is no longer a human being. It's an "It." Try substituting the word "victim" for "target," and you see how it works.

This is exactly what the Dixiecrats did to blacks in the Jim Crow South, and what President Obama does today with capitalists who run General Motors and Wall Street.

So the purported comedienne Janeane Garofolo interprets the anti-tax tea parties as obviously racist. You see, Ms. Garofolo can read minds, in spite of all the obvious decency of the tea party protesters. And Obama's Department of Homeland Security has now pinpointed our chief terrorist danger: It's "right-wing extremists," including Iraq War vets coming back home.

In psychiatry, scapegoating is called "displacement of rage," and it is often said to be a low-level defense, one that comes easily to people who are already emotionally troubled or impaired. With mature adults scapegoating doesn't work very well -- not unless you can make them into insecure wrecks by destroying their incomes, for example. That's what happened to the German middle class in the Weimar Republic. It's what will happen in this country if the economy fails to recover. That is why it is so vital to keep the administration from its most extreme spending plans, which could harm the economy if the Democrats in Congress are foolish enough.

Scapegoating is very simple, and very malevolent. It is the defining feature of human destructiveness. All the truly irrational actions in human history involve displaced rage. Pathological societies in the world are always torn by a search for new scapegoats.

Scapegoating is a really effective manipulation for mobs that have long ago decided that their real enemy is... anybody. Because that overwhelming feeling of rising rage matters much more than whoever is the victim of the moment. That overwhelming tension is intolerable and seeks an outlet.

For instance, the target could be the kulaks.
"Comrades! ... You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers. ... This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let's choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks. ... Yours, Lenin."

That's Lenin the mob leader after the Bolshevik revolution. 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' The kulaks were Russian peasants who owned a couple of cows instead of just a scrawny goat like most others, and therefore provided juicy hate objects for the mob. Lenin knew how to whip up those mobs because that's how it was done during the four centuries of Romanov rule before the Revolution. It is deeply ingrained in Russian folklore -- you can see it in the opera Boris Godunov, where a pair of Orthodox priests whip up a mob to kill two Catholic priests, foreigners from Poland. That was just before 1500 AD.

Scapegoating is emotional high explosive that you can direct at will, like those fire-spewing proton packs in the movie Ghostbusters. You just 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' It's like pulling a trigger on human emotions and watching the human target get blown away. We've seen it ever since the Boomer Left took over the media, most recently with the abuse heaped upon George W. Bush.

Saul Alinsky was born in 1909 of Russian Jewish parents in New York City. Why was the Alinsky family living in America in 1909 rather than Minsk or Pinsk or Omsk or Chomsk? Because they fled the Russian pogroms of 1890-1910, like thousands of other Jews.

I don't know if Alinsky's parents were direct victims of the peasant mobs, but chances are that his aunts or uncles or grandparents must have been. I have a friend whose grandmother was knouted to death by Cossacks in Poland in the 1920's. I don't think her grandchildren and great-children have ever come to terms with that horror, even though they are living in the next century in America. It is a multigenerational trauma. Horrific traumas can have that effect. In the Jim Crow South blacks were scapegoated by the very same kinds of mobs, led by the very same kinds of agitators -- virtually all of them white Democrats. It seems that some blacks are still experiencing the emotional ripple-effects, decades later.

Now follow this closely: The Alinsky family fled to the United States because life was intolerable in the old country. They found safety in America. Emma Lazarus was another Jewish immigrant, who understood the difference between the Old and New World well enough. She wrote about the Statue of Liberty,
"A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame."
Emma Lazarus must have been an extraordinary woman, because her poem brims with gratitude for the New World: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...".

That is a very different feeling than the young Saul Alinsky harbored. Little Saul must have seen the Statue of Liberty often enough on the skyline of his childhood. But he never understood it the way Emma Lazarus did. We can only wonder why, because thousands upon thousands of persecuted refugees kept flowing into New York City when he was growing up.

And then little Saul grew up and wrote Rules for Radicals, and dedicated his life to ... the very same art of whipping up mobs that his parents fled from. Rules for Radicals might have been written by a medieval mob agitator; only a few words need to be changed. 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' Substitute "heretic" or "witch" for "target" and you have all the religious persecutions in human history. Substitute "blacks," and you have a Dixiecrat lynch mob. Substitute "whites," and you have all of J-Wright's sermons at Trinity United, Chicago. It's all the same thing. Human nature doesn't change. Alinsky:
"Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future. This acceptance is the reformation essential to any revolution."
Funny thing is, Emma Lazarus thought that America was the revolution those huddled masses were looking for.

Alinsky did not write his little book of Rules against the Tsar of Russia, nor against mob demagogues in general; rather, he wrote it in a rage against free market wealth, against capitalist individualism, against the prosperous middle class and its most successful home, the United States of America. Alinsky became the hero for other agitators -- people who used to call themselves "communist agitators." Those were not shameful words when little Saul was growing up, they were proud words.

Agitare comes from the Latin word for "stirring up," the same root as the word "activist." A "community activist" is just a slightly different name for the old phrase "communist agitator" -- one who stirs up a group, just like those old hairy demagogues in Tsarist Russia and Poland, and then in Soviet Russia, Germany, China and Cambodia, in Rwanda and Kosovo, the Punjab and Indonesia ....

Question: How is it that little Saul Alinsky, child and grandchild of victims, became the new persecutor?

Here is a strange twist of fate. Starting with the huge expansion of the US college campuses in the Sixties, Saul Alinsky's little book went viral. Alienated middle-class kids with no personal experience of poverty or suffering -- in the sense that blacks knew it in the South and the Jews and many others in Europe and Asia -- they all went around with Alinsky's Rules for Radicals in their backpacks. Radicalism became romantic. Alienated and ignorant kids yearned to become Che Guevara and kill the capitalists. That's how rich kids like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn learned their theology. It's how they became heroes in their own eyes. Such saintly people, giving their all for the poor and helpless.

Hillary Rodham complained about her authoritarian father when she was a child, and instantly on getting to Wellesley she fell for Saul Alinsky and his Rules, and became an admiring disciple of the Master of Scapegoating. Hillary's first major political act was to join the staff of the Senate Watergate Committee, where she wrote a legal brief for the Committee on why President Richard Nixon should not, repeat not, be allowed legal counsel in his impending impeachment and trial.

'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.'

See how it works? So the persecuted become the persecutors. Hillary the victimized child -- at least in her own mind -- became the really visceral hater of the Clinton White House. The black victims of mobs in the South had children and grand-children, some of whom -- by no means all -- became the Reverend J-Wright, or Louis Farrakhan. The children of victims of Russian persecution, some of them -- by no means all -- became romantic Alinsky radicals. Those children of wealth worshipped men of violence, and sanitized them -- Che, Mao, Fidel, Carlos the Jackal, Ayers, Mumiah, the list goes on.

The Reverend J-Wright preaches mob incitement. It's all over his sermons. His younger successor in the same church, Rev. James Moss III, has his own style of incitement. He tells his congregation that black people will never be accepted by whites; they are lepers, with an ugly skin condition that makes them diseased outcasts forever. Sweet, ain't it? The worst Dixiecrat agitator during Jim Crow couldn't have put it worse than that.

Take the rage that people feel and direct it to the most convenient human victim. 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It.' J-Wright started life as a Black Muslim, as he tells it, and then studied Black Liberation Theology. What's BLT? Well, Pope Benedict says it's a cover name for Marxism. In this case, racial Marxism. Which brings us right back to Lenin whipping up the Bolshevik mobs to kill the kulaks.

It doesn't matter where you direct the rage. Brazil's Marxist president Lula blames "white people with blue eyes." We are living in a time of reverse racism, having flipped Dixiecrat racism to the other side. The tragedy is that we have not transcended race, not and as long as racial demagogues can squeeze this new hatred for money and power. The Obamas are the very incarnation of reverse racism. That is why they felt the need to show contempt to the Queen of England, and to bow down to the pre-medieval King of Saudi Arabia. In the next four years, or eight, or longer, you will see them do that over and over and over again, because that is their lifelong obsession.

Barack Obama and Michelle attended J-Wright's church for twenty years, and had their little girls baptized and raised at Trinity United. Our President was brought up by a mother who was a young college radical from Mercer Island, WA, and Kansas. His absentee father in Kenya was a proud post-colonial socialist -- until, it seems, he ran into trouble with Jomo Kenyatta and had two car accidents in a row; the second one of which killed him. But Barack Obama didn't draw the rather obvious lesson that his father may have been assassinated by a typical post-colonial tyrant. Instead, he adopted the side of the persecutor in the same way the young Saul Alinsky did. Obama grew up in his early years in Indonesia, where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese had recently been massacred by -- you guessed it -- raging ethnic mobs looking for scapegoats. Oddly enough those Indonesian massacres are not mentioned in Obama's two autobiographies.

Obama's first boyhood mentor was the CPUSA's guy in Hawaii, a black man filled with racial rage and resentment, and little Barry was handed on from one radical friend to the next, in a long chain by way of Harvard Law to the Chicago Democrat Machine. The one big gap in his autobiography is his college years at Columbia, but knowing what we know we can fill that in pretty well. He married Michelle, herself a daughter of an African-American ward boss and friend of Jesse Jackson, who made a brilliant career out of scapegoating corporations for money, power and personal fame. Then Barack was taught politics by Emile Jones, the political godfather of Southside.

There's only one useful rule for predicting human beings:

People tend to do in the future what they did in the past.

So Barack Obama is now President of the United States.

What will he do?

How about 'Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It?'

There go those AIG bonus guys. Let's tax ninety percent of their bonuses and smear them in the media. Done.

There goes Rick Wagoner. Let's kill his career at GM. Done.

Let's try to rouse up the mob against Rush Limbaugh. Oops! Forget it --- he's got his own megaphone. Next time just go for the ones who can't protest.

Now he darkly threatens trying officials responsible for making policy in the Bush administration.

Life will be so much better then, won't it? Or will 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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, April 26, 2009

California Att’y Gen Says Non-Discrimination Is Unconstitutional

Jerry Brown (remember him?) — once California governor, now California Attorney General, and possible future California governor — says in a letter to the California Supreme Court that the prohibition against preferential treatment based on race or gender that was added to the California Constitution by Prop. 209 is unconstitutional.
To the extent that the prohibitions against race- and gender-based discrimination in article I, section 31 of the California Constitution (hereafter referred to as section 31) are aligned with the prohibitions enforced under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, section 31 is constitutional. However, to the extent that section 31 is interpreted more broadly to bar race- or gender-conscious programs that would be permissible under the Fourteenth Amendment, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the federal Constitution....
Brown’s argument seems to be identical to one the ACLU and NACCP tried, most recently, in Michigan, to no avail. Closer to home, it also seems to be identical to one even the Ninth Circuit all but laughed out of court in rejecting a challenge to Prop. 209 right after it passed. As the opinion by Judge O'Scannlain put it:
.... Proposition 209 amends the California Constitution simply to prohibit state discrimination against or preferential treatment to any person on account of race or gender. Plaintiffs charge that this ban on unequal treatment denies members of certain races and one gender equal protection of the laws. If merely stating this alleged equal protection violation does not suffice to refute it, the central tenet of the Equal Protection Clause teeters on the brink of incoherence.
It appears that Jerry Brown is asking the California Supreme Court to decide who is incoherent, Jerry Brown or the Fourteenth Amendment. The choice would seem to be clear, but then nothing is completely clear in California.


The Chronicle of Higher Education takes note of Attorney General’s Brown’s letter today, here. If you have access to the Chronicle, the comments to this note are worth reading.


The Los Angeles Times has a good article on this issue today. It quotes, to good effect, Sharon Browne, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation who is challenging a San Francisco law giving preferences to women and minorities. (It is that case that prompted the Calif. Supreme Court’s request for an opinion on Prop. 209 from Attorney General Brown.)
“It would be incredibly strange for the California Supreme Court, 13 years after Prop. 209 was adopted, to say at this time it is unconstitutional,” said Browne, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative public interest law firm.

The state high court unanimously ruled in 2000 that Proposition 209 prohibited a San Jose outreach program. That ruling cited a 1997 decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that found Proposition 209 constitutional.
Strange indeed. If the California Supreme Court were now to adopt the view that Prop. 209 is unconstitutional, would it have to conclude that it was unanimously wrong in its 2000 opinion, City of San Jose v. Hi-Voltage Wire Works?


Separate but Unequal Protection

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) have quietly re-introduced the federal thought crimes bill, H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. As has proved to be true in both Europe and Canada, this Orwellian piece of legislation is the direct precursor to freedom killing and speech chilling “hate speech” laws. It represents a thinly veiled effort to ultimately silence – under penalty of law – morally, medically and biblically based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle. The bill is expected to be marked up Wednesday before the full House Judiciary Committee.

Under the 14th Amendment, victims of violent crime are currently afforded equal protection under the law regardless of sexual preference or proclivity. If passed, H.R. 1913 will change all that. It overtly and, most likely, unconstitutionally discriminates against millions of Americans by granting federally preferred status, time and resources to individuals who define their identity based upon aberrant sexual behaviors (i.e., “gay” and lesbian “sexual orientation” or cross-dressing “gender identity”).

Of course, this entire concept flies in the face of the 14th Amendment. It inarguably codifies unequal protection under the law, creating a two-tiered justice system made up of first-class victims such as those who self-identify as homosexual or “transgender” and second-class victims such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, veterans, the homeless and others who choose not to engage in homosexual or cross-dressing behaviors.

There is exactly zero evidence to suggest that homosexuals or cross-dressers do not currently receive equal protection under the law. In fact, you need only look to the most famous “hate crime” of all – Matthew Shepard – for proof. Although the evidence determined that Shepard's murder was not a “hate crime” by definition (a misconception still widely propagated by the homosexual lobby, the media and liberal lawmakers) the two thugs who committed the crime nonetheless received life in prison – and rightfully so. (Shepard's murder turned out to be the end result of a robbery for drug money gone from bad to horrible).

Likewise, the murderer of Mary Stachowicz – a devout Catholic grandmother who was brutally killed by a homosexual man in Chicago merely for sharing the Bible – was also given a life sentence. The system worked in both cases and both victims received equal justice under the law apart from any discriminatory “hate crimes” legislation.

Yet, proponents of H.R. 1913 claim it’s needed to curb an epidemic of so-called “hate crimes” committed against homosexuals and those who suffer gender identity disorder. This is a lie that is knowingly and intentionally cultivated by a very well funded and intrinsically deceptive homosexual lobby. The alarmist propaganda simply doesn’t square with the facts.

According to the latest FBI statistics, in 2007 there were about 1.4 million violent crimes committed in the U.S. Of those, only 1512 were reported as “hate crimes” motivated by “sexual orientation” bias. Over two thirds of those were allegations of “hateful” words, touching, intimidation, pushing or shoving. There were a mere 247 cases of aggravated assault (including 5 deaths) allegedly motivated by “sexual orientation” bias nationwide. In each case, where appropriate, offenders were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and victims were afforded the exact same justice guaranteed every other American.

The entire push for federal “hate crimes” legislation is rooted in fraud. In fact, many of the most high profile reports have turned out to be false. For example, investigators determined that the very “hate crime” (Andrew Anthos in Michigan) exploited by liberal lawmakers to justify the same legislation in the last Congress, was a false report. It never happened. And instances of such fabricated and politically motivated “hate crimes” continue to pile up.

So, if proponents of H.R. 1913 are neither justified nor motivated by an actual need for the bill – as clearly demonstrated – then what drives them? The answer is twofold. First, passage of “hate crimes” legislation would place the behaviorally driven and fluid concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” on an equal footing with legitimate, neutral and immutable “suspect class” characteristics such as skin color or a person’s true gender.

This creates both a sociopolitical and legal environment wherein traditional sexual morality officially becomes the new racism. Those who publically express medical, moral or religious opposition to the homosexual lifestyle are tagged by the government as “homophobic bigots” to be treated no differently by law enforcement, the courts or larger society than the KKK or neo-Nazis.

In short, this bill places newfangled “gay rights” in direct conflict with our enumerated constitutional rights. It becomes the first step in the official criminalization of Christianity. It’s a zero sum game and someone has to lose. Ultimately, what we lose are our First Amendment guaranteed rights to freedom of speech, religious expression and association.

But the threat is not just some shadowy phantom looming in the near future. It’s a clear and present danger. While debating the notion of “conspiracy to commit a hate crime” in the last congress, Artur Davis (D-AL) admitted that the legislation could be used to prosecute pastors for merely preaching the Bible under the concept of “inducement” to violence.

Furthermore, under existing criminal statute if H.R. 1913 becomes law, actual violence or injury need not take place for a “hate crime” to occur. For example, if a group of Christians are at a “gay pride” parade and a one of them gently places his hand on a homosexual’s shoulder and shares that there is freedom from homosexuality through a relationship with Jesus Christ, then, voila, we have a battery and, consequently, a felony “hate crime.”

But the Christian needn’t even touch the homosexual. If the homosexual merely claims he was subjectively placed in “apprehension of bodily injury” by the Christian’s words then, again, the Christian can be thrown in prison for a felony “hate crime.” The FBI has included mere words – “insults” and “intimidation” – in calculating “hate crimes” statistics and – under the current political regime in Washington – there’s every reason to believe they’ll subjectively consider “insults” and “intimidation” (read: traditional sexual morality) for purposes of prosecuting “hate crimes.”

Yes, it’s a brave new world and with H.R. 1913 – among other things – a once free America has moved, both literally and figuratively, a quarter of a century beyond Orwell’s 1984.


The dreaming Diamond is losing his sparkle

Hmm. A Papua New Guinea tribesman is suing the The New Yorker magazine over an article penned by MacArthur "Genius" and Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond. The $10-million suit claims that Diamond falsely accuses the tribesman and another colleague of criminal acts, including murder, in a bloody revenge tale.

While PNG tribesman Daniel Wemp admitted telling stories to Diamond and others, a friend of his said that it's common practice: "When foreigners come to our culture, we tell stories as entertainment. Daniel's stories were not serious narrative, and Daniel had no idea he was being interviewed for publication."

My brother-in-law and his wife spent eight years in PNG in isolated villages. They often recounted how the villagers would tell them stories they insisted were true - in most cases, for good-natured entertainment to see how gullible the Americans were. John and Kim soon learned to recognize and enjoy being the butt of the jokes.

I'm reminded of anthropologist Margaret Mead's acclaimed work "Coming of Age in Samoa," which celebrated sexual openness among Samoan adolescents. Some scholars have dismissed those claims as untrue, arguing that the 23-year-old Mead herself may have been told "stories" by the young people she interviewed.

Jared Diamond is celebrated for his "Guns, Germs, and Steel," but I was appalled by the tunnel-vision approach in his more recent book "Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed," in which he claims overuse of resources led to the collapse of several societies and should serve as a warning for our current societies. For an excellent critique of Diamond's "Collapse," read Ron Bailey's article, "Under the spell of Malthus."

Diamond is also celebrated for his ornithological studies in PNG. Maybe he needs to spend more time studying humans to recognize when he's being gulled.


NOTE: For more on Jared Diamond's creative (ab)use of tribal 'lore' see this critique of his Easter Island 'ecocide' theory

Thought Police Muscle Up in Britain

By Hal G. P. Colebatch

BRITAIN appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely.

There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent.

Nikolai Bukharin claimed one of the Bolshevik Revolution's principal tasks was "to alter people's actual psychology". Britain is not Bolshevik, but a campaign to alter people's psychology and create a new Homo britannicus is under way without even a fig leaf of disguise.

The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years' prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out. It was Straw who previously called for a redefinition of Englishness and suggested the "global baggage of empire" was linked to soccer violence by "racist and xenophobic white males". He claimed the English "propensity for violence" was used to subjugate Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and that the English as a race were "potentially very aggressive".

In the past 10 years I have collected reports of many instances of draconian punishments, including the arrest and criminal prosecution of children, for thought-crimes and offences against political correctness.

Countryside Restoration Trust chairman and columnist Robin Page said at a rally against the Government's anti-hunting laws in Gloucestershire in 2002: "If you are a black vegetarian Muslim asylum-seeking one-legged lesbian lorry driver, I want the same rights as you." Page was arrested, and after four months he received a letter saying no charges would be pressed, but that: "If further evidence comes to our attention whereby your involvement is implicated, we will seek to initiate proceedings." It took him five years to clear his name.

Page was at least an adult. In September 2006, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, Codie Stott, asked a teacher if she could sit with another group to do a science project as all the girls with her spoke only Urdu. The teacher's first response, according to Stott, was to scream at her: "It's racist, you're going to get done by the police!" Upset and terrified, the schoolgirl went outside to calm down. The teacher called the police and a few days later, presumably after officialdom had thought the matter over, she was arrested and taken to a police station, where she was fingerprinted and photographed. According to her mother, she was placed in a bare cell for 3 1/2 hours. She was questioned on suspicion of committing a racial public order offence and then released without charge. The school was said to be investigating what further action to take, not against the teacher, but against Stott. Headmaster Anthony Edkins reportedly said: "An allegation of a serious nature was made concerning a racially motivated remark. We aim to ensure a caring and tolerant attitude towards pupils of all ethnic backgrounds and will not stand for racism in any form."

A 10-year-old child was arrested and brought before a judge, for having allegedly called an 11-year-old boya "Paki" and "bin Laden" during a playground argument at a primary school (the other boy had called him a skunk and a Teletubby). When it reached the court the case had cost taxpayers pound stg. 25,000. The accused was so distressed that he had stopped attending school. The judge, Jonathan Finestein, said: "Have we really got to the stage where we are prosecuting 10-year-old boys because of political correctness? There are major crimes out there and the police don't bother to prosecute. This is nonsense."

Finestein was fiercely attacked by teaching union leaders, as in those witch-hunt trials where any who spoke in defence of an accused or pointed to defects in the prosecution were immediately targeted as witches and candidates for burning.

Hate-crime police investigated Basil Brush, a puppet fox on children's television, who had made a joke about Gypsies. The BBC confessed that Brush had behaved inappropriately and assured police that the episode would be banned.

A bishop was warned by the police for not having done enough to "celebrate diversity", the enforcing of which is now apparently a police function. A Christian home for retired clergy and religious workers lost a grant because it would not reveal to official snoopers how many of the residents were homosexual. That they had never been asked was taken as evidence of homophobia.

Muslim parents who objected to young children being given books advocating same-sex marriage and adoption at one school last year had their wishes respected and the offending material withdrawn. This year, Muslim and Christian parents at another school objecting to the same material have not only had their objections ignored but have been threatened with prosecution if they withdraw their children.

There have been innumerable cases in recent months of people in schools, hospitals and other institutions losing their jobs because of various religious scruples, often, as in the East Germany of yore, not shouted fanatically from the rooftops but betrayed in private conversations and reported to authorities. The crime of one nurse was to offer to pray for a patient, who did not complain but merely mentioned the matter to another nurse. A primary school receptionist, Jennie Cain, whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus in class, faces the sack for seeking support from her church. A private email from her to other members of the church asking for prayers fell into the hands of school authorities.

Permissiveness as well as draconianism can be deployed to destroy socially accepted norms and values. The Royal Navy, for instance, has installed a satanist chapel in a warship to accommodate the proclivities of a satanist crew member. "What would Nelson have said?" is a British newspaper cliche about navy scandals, but in this case seems a legitimate question. Satanist paraphernalia is also supplied to prison inmates who need it.

This campaign seems to come from unelected or quasi-governmental bodies controlling various institutions, which are more or less unanswerable to electors, more than it does directly from the Government, although the Government helps drive it and condones it in a fudged and deniable manner.

Any one of these incidents might be dismissed as an aberration, but taken together - and I have only mentioned a tiny sample; more are reported almost every day - they add up to a pretty clear picture.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Propagandists of terror prevailing

IN July 2005, al-Qa'ida's chief strategist Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined a critical element of his organisation's war against the West.

"We are in a battle and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. We are in a media battle for the hearts and minds of our umma (community)."

Al-Qa'ida has made "the media battle" a key front in its war, a strategy that helps explain why the jihadist movement continues to flourish. Yet intelligence and security agencies engaged in the so-called war on terror have been slow to seize this imperative, choosing instead to remain in the shadows, avoiding the vigorous media and public debate about terrorism and how it should be combated. Their reluctance has allowed the jihadists to gain the upper hand in the crucial battle for hearts and minds.

Al-Qa'ida's media strategy was deliberate and targeted from the outset, in keeping with an earlier directive from Zawahiri: "We must get our message across to the masses of the nation and break the media siege."

Osama bin Laden's first television interview in May 1997 was with CNN. The launch of his World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and Crusaders in 1998 was announced at a press conference, where invited journalists were treated to a show staged by his entourage of mujaheddin, firing their AK47s and rocket-propelled grenades at the mountains. In 2004 bin Laden's videotaped "Message to America" was released for broadcast just before the US elections.

From its inception, al-Qa'ida established a media committee to run its propaganda offensive and a media production company, Al-Sahab, to film and distribute professionally produced videos, DVDs and other propaganda. Its activity has escalated markedly in recent years. In 2006, Al-Sahab released 58 videos, one every six days. In 2007 it issued 97, one every four days.

The trend has continued.

Al-Qa'ida used the Qatar-based AlJazeera television network as a regular forum. Senior al-Qa'ida strategist Mustafa Hamid, also known as Abu Walid al Masri, who was married to Australian woman Rabiah Hutchinson, was a correspondent for Al Jazeera in Kandahar at the same time that he was a serving member of bin Laden's advisory Shura Council.

The practice of targeting the media is not unique to the present generation of Islamist terrorists. It's a strategy terrorists have always used. "Terrorism is about theatre," says Brian Jenkins, of the think tank RAND Corporation. Put another way, terrorism is "an extreme act of political communication", in the words of Richard Dearlove, former head of Britain's MI6.

People used to say: "Terrorists don't want a lot of people dead; they want a lot of people watching." That has changed; now they want both. Harvard University scholar and author Louise Richardson writes in her book What Terrorists Want that what they want is "the three Rs": revenge, renown and reaction.

Renown is what they gain through publicity, which Richardson describes as a central objective of terrorism, serving "to bring attention to the cause and to spread the fear instilled by terrorism".

Richardson cites an article by an al-Qa'ida operative, Abu Ubeid al-Qurashi, which was published in the group's online magazine al-Ansar, which described the Palestinian massacre of the Israeli Olympic team at the 1972 Munich Olympics as "the greatest media victory". "Four thousand journalists and radio personnel and 2000 commentators and television technicians were there to cover the Olympic Games," al-Qurashi wrote. "Suddenly they were broadcasting the suffering of the Palestinian people. Thus 900 million people in 100 countries were witness to the operation by means of television screens."

Al-Qurashi went on to observe: "The September 11 (operation) was an even greater propaganda coup. It may be said that it broke a record in propaganda dissemination."

Al-Qa'ida and its allies film and distribute motivational videos of their training camps set to rousing jihadist songs. They film their bombings, often using several cameras strategically placed to capture the action. They film the testimonials of would-be suicide bombers that are posted on the internet to inspire others. There is even a TV program called Hidden Camera Jihad, a video compilation of attacks on US forces, set to a laughter track. BBC journalist Gordon Correra calls it "the mainstreaming of jihad as entertainment". All of this is crucial to recruitment, mobilisation, solidarity and morale.

The availability of and access to jihadist literature and audiovisual material has become a central feature in the evolution and spread of Islamist terrorism and the formation of home-grown terror groups across the world. Typically, these groups have no direct links to al-Qa'ida central and are almost entirely reliant on material obtained on the internet for their self-recruitment, ideology, spiritual guidance and the facilitation of their plans, such as manufacturing explosives.

It is accepted wisdom that the jihadists' aggressive media offensive is a key reason their movement continues to flourish and why the terrorists' freedom-fighter narrative has proven so enduringly potent for millions of Muslims.

Yet the intelligence and security agencies with the task of countering terrorism remain stubbornly reluctant to join the media battle, typically refusing to answer media questions, engage in public debate or explain and justify their actions and policies.

In many cases there are compelling practical and logistical reasons for secrecy. More often it seems to be simply a hangover from their historical preference for lurking in the shadows. No doubt they prefer people not to know when they venture on to the "dark side", to quote former US vice-president Dick Cheney.

The well-reported excesses in the secret war on terror - Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, the CIA's rendition program, the use of torture, all skilfully exploited by the jihadists - have had a profound influence on popular opinion, in the West and the Muslim world, and on the prevailing media narrative.

Seven or eight years ago, the prevalent story was that evil religious fanatics were bent on destroying our democratic societies and killing as many innocent civilians as possible. Today, the war on terror is frequently depicted in the media as an unjust and ill-executed war that has undermined the freedoms and values it was supposed to uphold.

The intelligence and security agencies can no longer afford to stay mute in this seminal debate. It is time for them to come out of the shadows and engage in the crucial battle for hearts and minds.

This can be as simple as releasing more information to illustrate the nature of the threat, such as the revelation in 2006 by MI5 head Eliza Manningham-Butler that British authorities were dealing with 30 known terrorist plots and 200 terrorist networks, and watching 1600 individuals who were "actively engaged in or facilitating terrorist acts here or overseas". It was a strategic decision to take the media and the public into their confidence by releasing data that normally would be deemed classified. And it clearly had the desired effect, a jolting reminder that terrorism is not a figment of the security agencies' imaginations but a very real and present danger.


Naivete Kills

By Barry Rubin

It never ceases to amaze me that people who know nothing about the Middle East, in this case Roger Cohen but many other names come to mind, can suddenly proclaim themselves experts and make the most elementary errors involving the lives of other people. It also never ceases to amaze me that people can visit a country, especially a dictatorship, be wined and dined, handed a line and believe it so thoroughly that their mind is closed ever after.

Recently, I met a young man who helped me understand this phenomenon better. He worked on Afghanistan and took exception to my saying that there was no way that Western intervention was going to make that a stable and moderate country. It was too geographically diverse, bound by traditional culture, beset by conflict, and economically underdeveloped to achieve that condition. And no matter how much money was poured in to train its army to be efficient or to finance its government to be honest and effective, the situation would not change drastically.

He responded with some heat that after the Soviet withdrawal that the Communist government Moscow had established lasted three years, proving how good the Afghan army could be. That argument surprised me since—like so many I hear nowadays—it was so easy to refute, indeed containing within itself its own refutation.

My response was simple: so, in effect, what you are saying is that if the Western forces are withdrawn then the Taliban will take over within three years. In short, this is precisely the kind of thing I was saying.

I think that the mainstream view of the Middle East is so reinforced by its hegemony in the discussion, so underpinned by cultural and ideological assumption (which it isn’t even aware of making) that one often hears such weak or, in other cases, factually inaccurate statements. The idea of free debate is to test and correct our views. Yet when there is such hegemony in academia and—to a lesser extent—the mass media , for one viewpoint that set of arguments is weakened simply because it dismisses all challenges without even considering them.

Later that day, I had a chance to talk further with this young man, who was very sincere and dedicated to his studies. He had spent a lot of time in Afghanistan. And it quickly became clear what that meant. He argued passionately that the West must overthrow the current government and install others who, he said, were honest and would provide the country with a great government.

Upon further discussion, it turns out that these were powerful people from wealthy families who had courted him. They had invited him to their palatial homes, wined and dined him, and flattered him. “You understand our country,” they had said in admiring terms. In some cases, though not this one, aside from access and flattery, career promotion opportunities and money are also offered.

One might speculate—this is just a thought—that women are used to being courted and have learned how to discount flattery to a greater extent. Men, however, are probably especially prone to such appeals as they are used to colder treatment by their fellows.

At any rate, we see this constantly. One young scholar, given unprecedented access to write the biography of a ruthless dictator, gushes at how wonderful he is. Roger Cohen of the New York Times, goes to Iran, they treat him well and thus he deduces that the mullahs have only benign intentions. Robert Leiken, totally ignorant about the region and succumbing to similar treatment by the Nicaraguan Contras, meets the Muslim Brotherhood and—with no knowledge of what they write in Arabic—believes everything they tell him and describes them as moderate. I also think such a process went on when Iraqi exiles assured American interlocutors that Iraq was just waiting for America to liberate it, that all would go smoothly, they would then take power and be moderate and stable democratic friends ever after.

As I write these words, I see an article in the Los Angeles Times that provides a terrific example of this phenomenon* about David Lesch, a man with no real knowledge of the region who was chosen to be the biographer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Asad. Lesch hero-worships the dictator who, in a real sense, made his career.

“He is very low-key, he is a very amiable, very humble individual, not intimidating at all," Lesch says. He admits that he wouldn’t get tough with Bashar: “It would do damage to this access, which will be far worse than bringing it up." And he talks more like a fan for a rock star than a serious analyst of regional politics: “He values my opinions and ideas.” How pitiful, how easily deceived. Yet in dealing with Iran and Hamas, Hizballah and Syria, Muslim Brotherhoods and assorted other dictators and anti-democratic movements or states, how often this happens.

This article is positively embarrassing and the fact that Lesch, the article’s author, and the Los Angeles Times don’t see this is an important sign of how seriously mainstream journalism and academic Middle East studies have gone off the rails.

Why is the gap between reality and perception so much wider on the Middle East than on other subjects or areas of the world? It would take a book to give a proper answer but here are some admittedly too-brief and incomplete talking points:

1. High level of partisanship, making even the simplest statements of fact controversial at times.

2. Indoctrination on campuses to an extraordinary extent.

3. Since so much is written about the region—often bad material--people think they know everything, a mistake less likely to occur in more “obscure” places.

4. The need for special knowledge to understand the region which should not—but is—often lightly disregarded.

5. A complex historical picture which people may ignore since history is not deemed to be important.

6. The importance of cultural differences in understanding the region at a time when, according to PC, everyone is supposed to be seen as being exactly the same. A letter by Iranian-American academic in the New York Times this week asserts that it’s ridiculous to claim Iranian regime nuclear weapons are threat because Iranian mothers want good lives for their children and living standards have gone up.

7. The importance of ideology which is discounted as an influence creating totally different world views, at least among regimes. (See point 6, above).

8. Precisely because the threat from the region and in it is so high there is a tendency either to claim no threat exists or that it can be easily defused through understanding and concessions.

9. The hysteria about alleged Islamophobia and misuse of the concept of racism which makes it somewhere between hard and impossible to have a serious discussion of these issues.

10. Failure to understand the difference between what's said in English or in Arabic and Persian, discounting the latter as of no importance.

People have a right to be foolish and naive. But they have no right to misdirect national policies and risk—or cost—the lives of hundreds and possibly damage the lives of millions on the basis of their own stupidity.


Political Correctness vs. Religion

After posting my blog on George Will and Obama's Leninism and reading Carol Platt Liebau's post today on "Political Correctness vs. Religion," I would like to tie these two together--that is, what is the relationship between communism, political correctness, and the Judeo-Christian religions?

First, we must take a look at the last few centuries, where “religion” has taken on the additional connotations of dedication to abstract principles or ideals rather than a personal being. The French Enlightenment, with its worship of Reason is a prime example of this kind of religion. The god is no longer personal, but abstract, though it may be personified in art or ritual. Hence, modern dictionaries include definitions relating religion to impersonal principles rather than persons. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary widens the definition to include: “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held with ardor and faith.” Meaning “religion” in only this broad, even purely metaphorical sense, the atheist may bristle at the notion that his “religion” entails anything other than adherence to his core principles, whatever they may be. Yet two movements of the last century, one explicitly atheist and the other vehemently secular if not outright atheist, exhibit many striking similarities to those of more traditional religions.

Until recently, the most notable example of a secular movement that was, for all practical purposes, a religion, was Marxism. During the global expansion of Marxism in the twentieth century, many critics noted its religious and quasi-religious characteristics. For example, Marxism had dogmas, core teachings that all Marxists embraced. Among these were “economic determinism,” the doctrine that politics, culture, and ethics were necessary extensions of economic relations; and the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” a necessary historical stage in the inevitable transformation of capitalism into socialism. Such dogmas were laid out in Marxism’s canonical scriptures, which included Das Kapital, The Communist Manifesto, The Collected Works of Lenin, The Collected Works of Stalin, The Little Red Book of Mao Tse-tung, and other official Marxist-Leninist works of the mid-twentieth century.

Marxist orthodoxy was safeguarded by its “priests” and “theologians” who taught the requisite dogmas and presided over the “ritualistic observances,” principally workers’ strikes, especially general strikes. Within Marxist regimes, ideological police and government censors saw that the dogmas found their way into factories, neighborhood organizations, and newspapers. In academe, professors promoted adherence to dialectical materialism as the common creed.

Deviations from dogma (i.e., “heresies”), needed to be suppressed. Things associated with the two great heresies, traditional religion and capitalism, were banned and demonized. Traditional religion, the “opiate of the masses” in Karl Marx’s famous phrase, had to be abandoned in favor of the foresight and “five year plans” of state- controlled hierarchies. Orthodox Marxists had meticulously to avoid such “sins” as expropriating “surplus value” from an army of oppressed workers, preaching rewards in an afterlife to the proletariat, or settling into the life of a conspicuous consumer removed from the struggles of workers. The wayward were corrected in mandated “reeducation” camps; those found intractable to correction were frequently subjected to excommunication from the party, exile, and even execution.

There was even an eschatology: After the earlier evolutionary stages of capitalism and the dictatorship of the proletariat, the “end times” would come, characterized by a new state of consciousness in “communist man,” who would live in a cooperative, crime- free, international community, without any vestiges of dehumanizing labor; and a hagiography, which included generally accepted revolutionary saints, such as Marx, Engels, and Lenin, as well as some venerated by select or local groups such as Bakunin and Trotsky.

Not all Marxists, of course, had sufficient ardor and faith to qualify them as “religious” in the wide sense. In the West during the Cold War, there were many persons partially influenced by progressive ideals of worker solidarity and a new socialist order, but who took their Marxism with a “grain of salt.” So also now, in the twenty-first century, there are many people working for social justice, human rights, international solidarity, and other causes commonly regarded as liberal without an ardent or unbending ideological commitment. But there are also those for whom their political views have become a life commitment (i.e., those on the Left), held to with the same ardor and faith as Marxism was for its strongest adherents. These men and women of the Left do not have an obligation to spread Christianity through faith in Jesus Christ, or want human beings to believe in ethical monotheism by following Judaism, or become communist by reading the works of Karl Marx.

Today’s Left relies on political correctness to further an array of race, gender/sex, cultural, political, and ideological agendas pursued in the name of such concepts as “tolerance,” “diversity,” “equality,” “peace,” and “human rights” among others. Religious Jews and Christians as well as “religious” Marxists and Leftists share and have shared two things in the twentieth century: a platform to push their agendas and the means to do so. What they have not shared is the same mode for producing converts. The “mode” used by leftists is called political correctness.

At the heart of political correctness is the war over Judeo-Christian moral absolutes, and thus an attempt to end the dialogue between one claiming that he has the Truth and allowing a new “truth” to take its place. Ironically, postmodernists see no contradiction in their claims of having the “truth.” Even those claiming there are not moral absolutes are contrarily making such a claim. After trashing moral absolutes, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, postmodern leftists and academics are free to advocate anything and, indeed, transform their new “truths” into absolutes. The tool that allows such a thing becomes political correctness.


And So He Became a Communist

By Theodore Dalrymple

It is an interesting, though perhaps unanswerable, question as to how much untruth you can squeeze into a single word of one syllable, either explicitly or by implication. However, I came across a very fine example of such compression in the British liberal newspaper, The Guardian, the other day.

I have reached the age at which I turn first to the obituary pages, as I once (how long ago it seems, and how incomprehensible to me now!) would have turned to the sports results. I cannot quite put my finger on why obituaries fascinate me, or seem important; it is certainly not personal connection with the departed, for I have never consorted with the famous, nor have they consorted with me.

The obituary page of The Guardian had recently adopted a feature called Other Lives, that is to say short obituaries of people whom its readership believes are worthy of public memorialisation but who are not otherwise well-known. And so, on 17 April, it carried an obituary of a man called Ron Bellamy, written by his wife. The obituary begins:

"My husband Ron Bellamy, who has died at the age of 92, was a dedicated teacher, a Marxist economist and a lifelong communist."

It continues shortly afterwards:

"Like so many of his generation, he was deeply affected by mass unemployment, poverty, and the threat of fascism and war, so he joined the Communist party".

It is the second ‘so’ of this sentence that is fascinating. So short a word, so many ambiguities; so much suggestio falsi, so much suppressio veri. Truly, human language is a subtle instrument. Suppose the late Ron had been a fascist instead of a communist, and – as is not very likely - The Guardian had accorded him space for an obituary, would it not have been possible to write the following?

"Like so many of his generation, he was deeply affected by mass unemployment, poverty, and the threat of communism and war, so he joined the British Union of Fascists".

At the time he joined the Communist Party, the second sentence would have made much more sense than the first (though still not a lot). The obituary does not give the date that Ron joined the Communist Party, but since he was born in 1916 or 1917 (the precise date of his birth is also not given), it seems likely that he joined at some time between 1936 and 1938. By then, communism in Russia had brought two massive famines causing the deaths of millions, routinely more executions in a day than Tsarism performed in a century (and this from the very first moment of Bolshevik power), the establishment of vast forced labour camps in which hundreds of thousands had already died, and the utter decimation of intellectual life. It is a myth that none of this was known or knowable at the time: on the contrary, it was all perfectly well known, if widely ignored.

By contrast, Nazism had ‘only’ passed its persecutory Nuremberg race laws, while its death toll – when the late Ron joined the party – was numbered in the hundreds, rather than the millions. Most of its evil was in the future. Of course, it had suppressed intellectual freedom too, and established concentration camps for ‘enemies,’ but the late Ron obviously didn’t mind that, if it was all in a good cause. Nazism had done a good job in reducing unemployment, without first having caused two vast famines, and the standard of living in Nazi Germany was incomparably higher than that in Soviet Russia, including for the workers.

So it would at the time have made more sense at the time for Ron to become a fascist than a communist; the ‘so’ would have been slightly more compelling, though the explanation of his decision would still have been far from complete. It is intrinsically unlikely that a man espouses a totalitarian doctrine of proved and indisputable viciousness and violence from a love of peace and a dislike of poverty.

Although the author of the obituary was herself a communist, and indeed met her husband through the Communist Party (in 1953), the ‘so’ to which I have drawn attention has a slight exculpatory connotation, as if it is there to head off criticism from anti-communists. Yes, it seems to say, you may criticise Ron for being a communist; but what you have to remember is the economic and political context in which he joined. In that context, any generous-minded and hearted man concerned about the fate of the world might have made the same decision.

But this, if it was meant, is untruthful. The late Ron was a member of the Communist Party for forty years. In 1961, he actually spent a year in the Soviet Union, conducting ‘research.’ That meant he swallowed many things without any of them impinging on him in the slightest: not only the famines, but the show trials, the Gulag, the Great Terror, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the ludicrous cult of Stalin’s personality, the removal of entire populations, the Doctor’s Plot, the show trials in Czechoslovakia, Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the Berlin and Hungarian uprisings, to name but a few.

So – if I may still use that tainted word – it is simply not true that the conjunction of circumstances was what determined the late Ron’s political choice for communism, neither at the beginning nor at the end of his life. If it had been true, the late Ron would not have remained in the Communist Party for forty years. It is more probable, indeed, that he was attracted by precisely those aspects of communism that would repel most decent people: its violence and ruthlessness; its suppression of all views inimical to it; its cruel wholesale restructuring of society according to the crude and gimcrack ideas of arrogant, ambitious but profoundly mediocre intellectuals. The late Ron’s personal modesty notwithstanding – I see no reason to disbelieve his wife’s assertion that he was friendly and unassuming, as indeed Stalin, Uncle Joe, was often described as being – what he dreamed of was mass murder, deportations, suppression of people who differed from him, and complete control over the lives of everyone. Many people do dream of these things: most utopians, in fact.

At the very least, the late Ron was, in political matters, a moral idiot. The ‘so’ is subtly designed to disguise the fact.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, April 24, 2009

Power-freak British social workers, backed by police with a battering ram, snatched a dementia patient from her daughter's house and took her back to care home

Concerned about the treatment her elderly mother was receiving in a care home, Rosalind Figg decided to look after her personally. She and her partner created an ensuite bedroom with an alarm system to wake them if 86-year-old Betty Figg, who has dementia, got up in the night. When her mother confirmed that she was unhappy, Miss Figg took her home in the hope that it would be the end of an unfortunate chapter in her life.

But two days later, amid astonishing scenes, the old lady was snatched back by social services. A distraught Mrs Figg was wheeled to a car with a blanket over her head after police who had been called in as back-up threatened to smash the door with a battering ram if the family did not hand her over. Yesterday she was back in her room at £2,000-a-month Butts Croft House in Corley, Warwickshire.

'I will fight tooth and nail to get my mum back,' said 55-year- old Miss Figg at her home in Coventry. 'I can't believe this has happened - I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and realise it has been a bad dream.'

Miss Figg's mother had lived alone in Coventry since the death of husband Brian 15 years ago. She was admitted to hospital last June suffering from swollen legs and was becoming increasingly forgetful. Her daughter initially agreed to advice from social services that she should go into a home and she moved to Butts Croft House in August, with the fees being paid by the family.

In October, Mrs Figg fell out of her bed and was starting to lose weight and her daughter decided to give up her pottery business to care for her at home. Divorced mother-of-four Miss Figg and her partner Christopher Roberts, 41, created the downstairs bedroom, installed wheelchair ramps and had a special bed delivered with sensors in the mattress so an alarm would wake them if the old lady got up in the night.

But a council occupational health specialist ruled the three-bedroom semi-detached home was still not suitable for Mrs Figg. She was taken back to hospital in November after picking up an oral infection. When she returned to the home, her daughter went to visit and discovered Mrs Figg's mouth was caked in dried blood and she was complaining of feeling hungry.

Last Saturday, as usual, Miss Figg took her out from the home but says her mother was so unhappy there that she decided not to return her. She said she had contacted police before doing this and officers had told her it was a civil matter and did not concern them. Miss Figg, who herself used to work as a carer, said she saw a real improvement in her mother in the next two days, by the end of which she was laughing and chatting to neighbours over a cup of tea.

However, Coventry City Council obtained an 'emergency warrant' from magistrates under the Mental Health Act on the grounds that a 'person believed to be suffering from a mental disorder is being ill treated and neglected'.

'Mum was escorted out of my house in her wheelchair and had a towel thrown over her head as though she was some kind of prisoner,' said Miss Figg. 'She is not happy in the home. She should back with her loving family where she belongs.' A neighbour who witnessed the raid said: 'I can't believe they brought a battering ram. They use them to break into drug dens, not to cart off little old ladies.'

A council spokesman said an independent advocate had been appointed to work in Mrs Figg's best interests. 'Staff from a number of agencies are involved in safeguarding her, including using statutory powers to protect her against further moves and to provide a mental health assessment after she was removed from a residential care home by her daughter against advice.' He said social care staff had been refused entry to Miss Figg's home and returned with police assistance. A police spokesman said: 'Police were asked to assist social services to remove an elderly woman to a place of safety. 'A warrant was granted and an enforcer was taken in order to gain access to the property if needed. The enforcer was not used.'

Butts Croft House is a 28-bed home which specialises in dementia care. It has not been rated by the Care Quality Commission since changing ownership in October. It was inspected for the first time under the new regime last month. A spokesman for the CQC said the report was still being finalised and was not due to be published until late May.


Civil liberties for me, but not for thee

Last week brought us two unrelated stories about nasty encounters between people going about their lives and law-enforcement authorities. One was a college-age environmentalist who was Tased and arrested by police in Eugene, Oregon. The other was the pastor of an Arizona church who was Tased and beaten by Border Patrol agents at a checkpoint well within the country. In both cases, the treatment of the men seemed not just brutal,but also largely unprovoked.

And in both cases, some commentators reserved their sympathy, because the victim was, to their eyes, the wrong kind of person. Perhaps Gawker summed up the phenomenon best in a piece about Pastor Steve Anderson called, "This is Not the Civil Libertarian Hero You're Looking For." Wrote John Cook:
[I]t sure seems like he was wronged by overzealous Department of Homeland Security goons. It's the war on terror and war against Mexicans gone mad! Liberals should be outraged. Conservatives should mock them for that outrage.

But wait -- here's a video of him calling Barack Obama a devil. He's a Republican! And the jack-booted thugs at DHS are calling all God-fearing Republicans terrorists. Conservatives should be outraged! Liberals should mock them for that outrage. Wait -- are DHS checkpoints along U.S. highways good or bad now? We're so confused.
As befits Gawker's usual tone, it's hard to figure out whether the author has an actual point to make. But his piece ably presents the notion that sympathy for people whose rights may have been violated is reserved for those with the "right" ideology and affiliations. Registered to vote with the other team? Too bad for you -- get lost.

In cruder form, that notion is captured in comments on news reports about the cases. At the Register-Guard, one genius passing opinion on the Tasing of Ian Van Ornum, who rode the lightning twice while lying, restrained, face-down on the sidewalk said, "Just looking at this guys hair tells me that the police were justified."

In the comments on my own column about Anderson's encounter with Border Patrol and Arizona highway patrol officers, which resulted in 11 stitches, a reader said, "I have a hunch this Anderson boy provoked this incident and, most likely, is not being truthful. Anderson is a classic religious kook, a poorly educated Jesus freak."

Maybe I'm being old-fashioned here, but I'm under the silly impression that our rights are dependent on our being human and having a pulse -- not on party affiliation, culture, religion or whether or not we approve in any way of the people about to enjoy a close encounter with the authorities.

Look, when we treat civil liberties, or protections of any sort against the powers-that-be, as special privileges to be doled out only to those with the right opinions, then we all lose. The authorities are only too happy to exploit that attitude as a wedge to divide and conquer us all, piecemeal. Between the unsympathetic political opponents of whoever has been abused, and the habitual fans of state authority who sympathize with nobody who confronts the authorities (you know, the people who comment, "When A Uniformed Officer (Read Authority Figure) Tells You To Do Something, Keep Your Smart Mouth Shut And Do It."), the government can always command a majority against one of their victims and his few friends.

That is, they can if we play that game. We don't have to. We can -- and should -- treat protections for our rights as setting the basic ground rules for dealing with each other. With those rules established, we can get about the business of vilifying one another and engaging in the usual political and cultural combat. But those rules are fundamental -- without them in place for everyone, we have no protections for ourselves.

It's up to you, folks. You don't have to like other people to respect their rights. But if you're going to consider civil liberties and individual rights as special privileges to be reserved only for your tribe, you better hope that your buddies are in power -- forever.


Political correctness is only a pretence at the kindness that is basic to Christianity

The world has gone wild over the video of Susan Boyle auditioning for “Britain’s Got Talent.” All over the internet, her triumphant rendition of “I Had a Dream” from Les Miserables has attracted the notice of millions, and become the occasion for an avalanche of easy modern-day moralizing: Don’t judge a book by its cover, witness the horror of our ageism/sexism/lookism, etc., etc., etc. The entire episode is being treated as a classic underdog tale, and a heartening reminder that great gifts can lurk in inauspicious places.

But in an increasingly secular and politically correct world, perhaps what too few of us have considered is this: What treatment would have been due Susan Boyle had her performance not been superb? What would have happened if her singing had been as undistinguished – as laughable, even – as her appearance and demeanor led the “Britain’s Got Talent” audience to expect? And what should have happened?

There’s no doubt that Susan Boyle cut a mildly ridiculous figure as she strode to center stage, with her unfashionable hair, frumpy dress, and bushy eyebrows. Witnessing the eye-rolling and sneers of the crowd as this slightly pathetic figure confessed her dream of becoming “as big as Elaine Page,” it’s clear that had she performed as the crowd had anticipated, she would have been mocked and humiliated, publicly, on a massive scale. And few of us would have thought twice.

Today, most of us have become sensitized – and rightly so – against deriding people for their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, creed or sexual orientation. That’s all to the good. But social pressure from the politically correct not to be deemed racist, sexist or homophobic only suppresses certain manifestations of a universal human urge to mistreat others that we deem somehow “below” us; it doesn’t address their source – that is, the darkness in the human heart.

Using political correctness as a moral compass designed to inject some civility into a secular world may protect individual members of certain designated-victim groups. But in contrast to the Judeo-Christian creed, it offers little guidance about what is due each and every individual, simply because she is a human being entitled to basic dignity – yes, even when she’s not bursting with youth, beauty or riches. Especially then.

As it turned out, there is much to admire about Susan Boyle: Her remarkable ability and the selflessness of her life, until recently spent caring for ailing parents. But even without a touching life story and a dazzling talent, she and her situation merited a little compassion. The hero of Jane Austen’s Emma, George Knightley, put it perfectly as he rebukes the heroine for her disrespectful treatment of a good-hearted but aging, garrulous and rather foolish old maid in their village:
Were she a woman of fortune, I would leave every harmless absurdity to take its chance, I would not quarrel with you for any liberties of manner. Were she your equal in situation—but . . . consider how far this is from being the case. She is poor; she has sunk from the comforts she was born to; and, if she live to old age, must probably sink more. Her situation should secure your compassion.
After Knightley’s reproach, Emma’s conscience is awakened, and she is stricken with shame. But that was in the old, pre-“modern” England. Would it be as true today?


Turkey is just another petulant Muslim State with primitive attitudes

THE most underreported story of the month must surely be the announcement by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that he no longer supports the accession of Turkey as a full member of the European Union. His reasoning was very simple and intelligible, and it has significant implications for the Barack Obama "make nice" school of diplomacy.

At a NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, in the first week of April, it had been considered a formality that the alliance would vote to confirm Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark, as its new secretary-general. But very suddenly, the Turkish delegation threatened to veto the appointment. The grounds of Turkey's opposition were highly significant.

Most important, they had to do with the publication of some cartoons in a Danish newspaper in 2005 lampooning the Prophet Mohammed. In spite of an organised campaign of violence and boycott against his country, and in spite of a demand by a delegation of ambassadors from supposedly "Islamic" states, Rasmussen consistently maintained that Danish law did not allow him to interfere with the Danish press.

Years later, resentment at this position led Turkey - which is under its own constitution not an "Islamic" country - to use the occasion of a NATO meeting to try again to interfere with the internal affairs of a member state.

The second ground of Turkey's objection is also worth noting: a television station on Danish soil broadcasts, in the Kurdish language, to Kurds in Turkey and elsewhere. The government in Ankara, which evidently believes that all European governments are as untrammelled as itself, brusquely insists that Denmark do what Turkey would do and simply shut the transmitter down.

Once again unclear on the concepts of the open society and the rule of law - if the station is sympathetic to terrorism, as Ankara alleges, there are procedures to be followed - the Turkish authorities attempt a fiat that simply demands that others do as they say.

The implications of all this, as Kouchner stated in an interview, are extremely serious. "I was very shocked by the pressure that was brought on us," he said. "Turkey's evolution in, let's say, a more religious direction, towards a less robust secularism, worries me."

This is to put it in the mildest possible way. It's not just a matter of a Turkish political party undermining Turkey's own historic secularism. It is a question of Turkey trying to impose its Islamist and chauvinist policies on another European state, and indeed on the whole NATO alliance. And if this is how it behaves before it has been admitted to the EU, has it not invited us all to guess how it would behave when it had a veto power in those councils?

For contrast, one might mention the example of re-united federal Germany, easily the strongest economic power in the EU, which painstakingly adjusted itself to its neighbours - to the extent of giving up even the deutsche mark for the euro - and adopted the slogan "not a Germanised Europe but a Europeanised Germany".

With Turkey, it seems the reverse is the case. Its troops already occupy one-third of the territory of an EU member (Cyprus), and now it exploits its NATO membership to try to bully one of the smaller nations with which it is supposed to be conjoined in a common defence. For good measure, it continues to be ambiguous about its recognition of the existence of another non-Turkish people - the Kurds - within its frontiers.

President Obama's emollient gifts were on display at the NATO summit, where he eventually persuaded the Turks to withhold their veto on the appointment of Rasmussen. Accounts differ as to the price of this deal, but a number of plum jobs and positions now appear to have been awarded to Turkish nominees.

Much more important, however, the foreign minister of France has reversed his previous position and has now said: "It's not for the Americans to decide who comes into Europe or not. We are in charge in our own house." Put it like this: Obama's "quiet diplomacy" has temporarily conciliated the Turks while perhaps permanently alienating the French and has made it more, rather than less, likely that the American goal of Turkish EU membership will now never be reached. And this is the administration that staked so much on the idea of renewing our credit on the other side of the Atlantic. This evidently can't be done with sweetness alone.

On the question of Turkey's accession, I used to be able to make either case. Admitting the Turks could lead to the modernisation of the country, whereas exclusion could breed resentment and instability and even a renewal of pseudo-Ataturkist military rule. On the other hand, admission would put the frontiers of Europe up against Iran and Iraq and the volatile Caucasus, so that instead of being a "bridge" between East and West (to use the unvarying cliche), Turkey would become a tunnel.

The Strasbourg crisis clarifies the entire picture and should make us grateful to have been warned in such a timely fashion. Turkey wants all the privileges of NATO and EU membership but also wishes to continue occupying Cyprus, denying Kurdish rights and lying about the Armenian genocide. On top of this, it now desires to act as a proxy for Islamisation and dares to waste the time of a defensive alliance in trying to censor the press of another member state.

Kouchner was quite right to speak out as he did, and the Turkish authorities will now be able to blame the failure of their membership scheme not on the unsleeping plots of their enemies, but on the belated awakening of their former friends.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The More Given, the Less Earned

by Dennis Prager

One of the reasons for the ascendance of the English-speaking world has been that the English language is almost alone among major languages in having the word “earn.” Those of us whose native language is English assume that the phrase “to earn a living” is universal. It isn’t. It is almost unique to English. Few languages have the ability to say this.

In the Romance languages, for example – a list that includes such major languages as Spanish, French, and Italian -- the word used when saying someone “earns” money, is “ganar” in Spanish, “gagner” in French. The word literally means “to win.” In Hebrew the word “marveach” means “profits.” In German, the word “verdient” means “deserves.”

Obviously, it is very different to “win” or to “deserve” or to “profit” than to “earn.”

Since the 1960s-‘70s, a concerted effort has been made to weed the word, and therefore the cultural value, of “earning” from American life. Increasingly little is earned. Instead of earning, we are increasingly owed, or we have more rights, or we are simply given.

Many American kids no longer earn awards or trophies for athletic success. They are given trophies and awards for showing up. These trophies are not earned, just granted -- essentially for breathing.

Another increasingly widespread concept that undermines the notion of earning is “unconditional love.” The term, which was barely used prior to the 1960s, is now ubiquitous. It is a prominent goal, a human ideal to strive for. The idea of having to earn love is more than unheard of today; it would strike most moderns as morally suspect.

We expect unconditional love not only from parents to babies and toddlers, but to children of any age, no matter how they act. Parental unconditional love means that all people, no matter how disgracefully they act --- even toward a parent -- and no matter how old they are, must be shown infinite love from their parents. Parental love is never to be earned, always to be given.

We expect God to show unconditional love to all people, again no matter how they act. According to the doctrine of divine unconditional love, God loves sadists as much as He loves the kindest individuals. No one earns God’s love; we receive it, like sports trophies, for breathing. Many fine people believe this about God, but I think it is religio-cultural-specific, and non-biblical. In 15 years of study in a yeshiva I had never heard the phrase, and it would have struck me, as it still does, as quite odd. It depicts God as a love machine who, like an air-conditioner that emits the same amount of cold air no matter how the inhabitants of a house act, emits the same amount of love no matter we act. It means that we in no way influence God’s love for us. I don’t find that comforting. And it is certainly no more likely to induce decent behavior in human beings than a God who does show conditional love based on human decency.

We expect unconditional love -- meaning unearned love -- from spouses. No matter how awfully you treat your wife or husband, as soon as you were married, you were owed unconditional love. While your spouse and you had to earn each other’s love prior to marriage, the moment you got married, you no longer had to earn the other’s love.

We also expect forgiveness to be given without being earned. Many people believe in what I call automatic forgiveness -- the obligation to forgive anyone any crime, committed against anyone, no matter how many victims and no matter how removed from my life. Thus the pastor of a church attended by then-President Bill Clinton told the president and all others at a Sunday service that all Christians were obligated to forgive Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist murderer of 168 people. Did McVeigh earn this forgiveness? Of course not. So where did the notion of unearned forgiveness come from, especially unearned forgiveness from people who were not the victims of the evil being forgiven? It is one thing for me to forgive those who have hurt me; it is quite another for others to forgive those who have hurt me. God Himself demands that we earn forgiveness. The term for that is repentance. No repentance, no forgiveness.

Finally, the increasingly powerful culture of entitlement and rights further undermines the value of earning anything. The more the state gives to its citizens, the less they have to earn. That is the basic concept of the welfare state -- you receive almost everything you need without having to earn any of it. About half of Americans now pay no federal income tax -- but they receive all government benefits just as if they had paid for, i.e., earned, them.

America became a great civilization thanks to a culture based on the value of having to earn almost everything an American got in life. As it abandons this value, it will become a mediocre civilization. And eventually it will not be America. It will be a large Sweden, and just as influential as the smaller one.


Outrage reserved for Israel

FEW places on earth have been as systematically brutalised over the past decade as Chechnya. So you might have thought that the Russian Government's decision last week to declare an end to its "counter-terrorism" operations in the territory would have been an occasion for sombre reflection in the Western media. Forget it. It's a 600-word news item at best.

Here's a contrast to ponder. Since the beginning of the second intifada in the autumn of 2000, about 6000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. That figure includes combatants as well as those killed in January's fighting in Gaza.

As for Chechnya, there are no solid figures for the number of civilians killed since the second war began in late 1999; estimates range from 25,000 to 200,000. Chechnya's population, at a little more than one million, is about one third or one fourth that of the Palestinians. That works out to between 25 and 200 Chechen deaths per 1000 as against 1.5 to two Palestinian deaths per 1000.

Now type the words Palestine and genocide into Google. When I did so on Monday, I got 1,630,000 results. Next, substitute Chechnya for Palestine. The number is 245,000.

Taking the Google results as a crude measure of global outrage, that means the outrage over the Palestinian situation was 6.6 times greater than over the Chechen one. Yet Chechen fatalities were between 13 to 133 times greater.

Final calculation: With an outrage ratio of 6.6 to one, but a proportional kill ratio of one to 13 (at the very low end), it turns out that every Palestinian death receives somewhere in the order of 28 times the attention of every Chechen death. Remember that in both cases we're mainly talking about Muslims being killed by non-Muslims.

I'll admit this math exercise is a bit of a gimmick. But it raises a worthwhile question: Why is Palestinian life so dear in the eyes of the world, and Chechen life so cheap?

Maybe the answer is that the Palestinian cause is morally worthier than that of Chechnya. But that can't be right. Yes, Chechen terrorists have committed spectacular atrocities, notably the 2004 Beslan school massacre. Yet modern terrorism is a genre Palestinians practically invented. As it is, Chechnya has been suffering grievously under Russia's thumb since the 1800s. (Just read Tolstoy's Hadji Murad.) If colonialism is your beef, the case for Chechen independence is inarguable.

Maybe, then, the answer is that there is no shortage of imagery of Palestinian death, and thus it engages more of the world's attention. By contrast, the Russians imposed a virtual media blockade on Chechnya, and journalists who covered the story, such as Anna Politkovskaya, had a way of ending up dead.

But imagery need not be televised to be vivid, nor does the world lack for testimonials of Russian brutality. "I remember a Chechen female sniper," a Russian soldier told Los Angeles Times reporter Maura Reynolds. "We just tore her apart with two armoured personnel carriers, having tied her ankles with steel cables. There was a lot of blood, but the boys needed it."

Maybe it's that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply more important strategically than Russia's war against Chechnya, in the same way that the attacks of 9/11 mattered more in the scheme of things than, say, atrocities by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.

Yet even before 9/11, there was evidence that al-Qa'ida was feeding money and arms to Chechen fighters, putting Chechnya squarely into the context of what became the global war on terror. Evidence of al-Qa'ida involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sparser and only came to light in 2007.

Of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict inflames the Muslim world in a way the Chechen one does not. But why is that, when so many more Muslims are being victimised by Russia?

Then too, why does the wider world participate in the Muslim world's moral priorities? Why, for instance, do high-profile Western writers such as Portuguese Nobel laureate Jose Saramago make "solidarity" pilgrimages to Ramallah but not to the Chechen capital of Grozny? Why do British academics organise boycotts of their Israeli counterparts but not their Russian ones? Why is Palestinian statehood considered a global moral imperative, but statehood for Chechnya is not?

Why does every Israeli prime minister invariably become a global pariah, when not one person in 1000 knows the name of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, a man who, by many accounts, keeps a dungeon near his house in order to personally torture his political opponents? And why does the fact that Kadyrov is Vladimir Putin's handpicked enforcer in Chechnya not cause a shudder of revulsion as the Obama administration reaches for the reset button with Russia?

I have a hypothesis. Maybe the world attends to Palestinian grievances but not Chechen ones for the sole reason that Palestinians are, uniquely, the perceived victims of the Jewish state. That is when they are not being victimised by other Palestinians. Or being expelled en masse from Kuwait. Or being excluded from the labour force in Lebanon. Things you probably didn't know about, either.

As for the Chechens, too bad for their cause that no Jew is ever likely to become president of Russia.


Snobbish "liberal" Catholics in Britain

Some comments from a more traditional British Catholic priest and blogger

As UK readers, and American readers of UK blogs will know, "The Tablet" is a Catholic liberal weekly. It is fondly referred to by those who dislike its dissenting tone as "The Bitter Pill". In short, it is the Catholic journal conservatives love to hate. Recently the Bitter Pill picked on Fr. Tim Finegan the Hermeneutic of Continuity blogger. In a longer editorial The Tablet have vented their fury on blogging and conservative Catholic bloggers in particular. Here is my fisk of the paragraph in question:

"Blogs - a corruption of web-log"

That the readers have to have 'blog' defined for them is hilarious. Don't be misled. This is not a journalistic attempt at clarity--it is a classic, upper middle class English attempt at a back hand slam. It's an example of English snobbery. See, when you're really upper class you don't even know what such common and vulgar things are. Thus English UCTs (upper class twits) show their snobbery. Example: You mention Oprah Winfrey in conversation and they put on a fake confused look and a John Gielgud accent and say, "What is an Oprah? Is that the same thing as an 'opera'?"

"were invented in America"

The snobbery continues with one of the English literati's stock items: anti-Americanism. Don't you know if it comes from America it comes from the land of nose picking hillbillies who marry their sisters, believe in creationism, tote guns in their pick up trucks and slurp Mountain Dew non stop? "It's from America my dear! How simply ghastly!" 

"where they still thrive"

Goodness me! this funny American thingy called a 'blog' still thrives? You mean it hasn't died out yet? What, those people in America cling to their blogs like they cling to their religion and their guns? How awfully, awfully backward of them!" Isn't it more likely that it is the print media's survival that should surprise us? What? a little weekly magazines with editors and reporters and subscribers? How quaint! You mean the English still do such things? And it still thrives? Not for long. 

"particularly among the political and religious right wing."

And there are no left wing blogs? Doesn't anyone ask why right wing talk radio and right wing blogs are a success? It's market forces. People are not getting what they want from the mainstream media, so they look elsewhere. Happily publishing and broadcasting is now totally open. Let the market decide who survives.

"What feeds the blogosphere's paranoia is a sense of resentment that "they" - those in charge - are engaged in a conspiracy against "us" ordinary folk".

Uh. This is a two way street.  This article sounds a little bit paranoid to me. Doesn't such a tirade suggest that the writer at the Tablet feels threatened? All those invisible underground bloggers are all against 'us' main stream media types. They must be stopped! 

"The main media is regarded as part of that conspiracy, which is why the internet - cheap, unregulated and with unlimited capacity - has drawn the bloggers to itself. In Britain, too, there are Catholic bloggers, again often right-wing, polemical and vituperative".

What!? You mean there are some British people who actually have lowered themselves to write those awful American 'weblog' thingies? How too too horrid? It really is ghastly! Not only British, but even a few English? Dear me, what next? 

"The targets in this case often seem to include The Tablet, in some sort of fantastical conspiracy with the bishops. Generally, blogs are far from an idealised forum for an exchange of intelligent ideas that would be constructive."

I love this. Blogs are immediate, allow for readers to comment and exchange opinions with one another at length. This compared to the typical newspaper's letters column--in which editors pick and choose the letters they publish, edit them down and have to limit in time and space all the comments that are made? Anybody can publish a blog and have instant global publishing. This is called freedom of speech. This is somehow inferior to a magazine whose editor is appointed by a rarified, self appointed board of directors in order to consciously promote a particular agenda? Notice too the assumptions in this pompous statement. The blogs are all, by implication stupid and destructive and it is the main media (like the Tablet) who are obviously 'intelligent' and 'constructive'.

"More often they indulge in straight poison-pen character assassination without reference to any requirements of accuracy or balance."

This is simply an untrue slander. To be sure there are some bloggers out there who are pretty nasty, but the vast number of conservative Catholic bloggers are intelligent, charitable, funny and not a few are genuinely scholarly, devout and humble.


Gutsy Australian churches unite against Islamic school in Sydney suburb

Fancy daring to tell the truth in an era of political correctness!

FOUR Christian churches have joined in an unprecedented attack on the Islamic faith in an attempt to stop a Muslim school being built. Calling the religion an ideology driven by world domination, a submission to the Land and Environment Court yesterday said a proposed school at Camden was a "beachhead" in Islamic takeover of southwestern Sydney, threatening the Australian way of life.

The attack, co-signed by local heads of Baptist, Anglican, Presbyterian and the Evangelical Sisters of Mary churches, formed the spearhead of Camden City Council's defence to a court challenge over its rejection of a development application for the Muslim school. "Islam is not simply a private religion. It is driven by a powerful political agenda, it is an ideology with a plan for world domination," the letter said. "The Quranic Society application to establish an Islamic school in Camden is typical of a regularly repeated pattern to form a beachhead in an area for the development of a sub-culture which, for the most part, regards its own legal system as superior to the current Australian law." They said the Muslim community would seek to dominate public space in Camden "as we have seen in Auburn, Bankstown, Lakemba and more recently Liverpool".

The provocative submission was penned by Camden's Baptist Pastor Brian Stewart, St John's Anglican Rector Tony Galea, Presbyterian minister Warren Hicks and Sisters of Mary's sisters in charge Sister Simone and Sister Gideona.

Use of the letter is a turnaround from previous claims that the council's ruling was on the grounds of traffic congestion. The first day in the society's court challenge began with a visit to the proposed site on Cawdor Rd, Camden. Chris Gough, heading the Quranic Society's legal team, said there were no planning grounds why the school, for 900 students, should not be approved. "The constitution of Australia talks about freedom of religion," Mr Gough said.

In their objection, the Christian ministries said they may be seen as racists or hypocrites but they were trying to preserve a rich, hard-won way of life that was incompatible with Quranic Society teachings. "The Quranic Society espouses a world view which is not compatible with broader, Australian egalitarian culture," they said. "A fundamental tenet of the faith is that Muslims are not required to obey any law that does not come from Allah."



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Britain's "Elf n' Safety" madness

Widow Mavis Field was intending to trim the grass around her first husband's grave when she received a terrible shock. As she approached the grave in Worksop, Notts, she could see it had been speared by a long wooden stake. Its carved headstone had been strapped by heavy-duty bindings and a garish, yellow sticker slapped alongside. 'WARNING!' it read. 'This Memorial is Unsafe. Should not be tampered with. Essential maintenance required.'

Retired driving instructor Mrs Field, who 'shed a tear or two' that day, is one of thousands of bereaved Britons trampled underfoot by our increasingly controversial Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Her husband's grave had been 'tampered with' (to use their own terminology) by the local council on HSE advice about safety in municipal graveyards. The Worksop cemetery now looks like something from a Dracula film, row upon row of tombstones desecrated by stakes.

I came across Mrs Field while making a Panorama documentary about our health and safety culture - a culture some people say has gone mad. Is this accusation fair? Or is health and safety an important guard against the industrial deaths which once blighted Britain?

If you read the parliamentary debates which preceded the 1974 Health And Safety At Work Act that led to the creation of the HSE, you will find MPs were concerned mainly with heavy industry such as mining and pharmaceuticals. One phrase is repeated. Safety measures should be introduced, it says, where 'reasonably practicable'. But is that caveat of practicability still being observed by today's growing cadre of well-paid health and safety consultants?

We looked at some of the notorious Press stories about health and safety. Not all of these turned out to be true, but there was nothing fictitious about cemeteries such as the one at Worksop, where tombstones were 'topple-tested' by dropping a heavy weight on them and seeing if they moved. Those which so much as wobbled under the 'topple-tester' were staked, strapped, sometimes completely flattened. The HSE has since withdrawn its original advice on graveyard hazards, but that hasn't stopped councils persisting with the practice. Panorama found that councils have spent at least £2.5 million on ' toppletesting' graves to see if they are safe.

'There are people who have had to pay over £1,000 to fix headstones that had nothing whatsoever wrong with them,' said Worksop's Labour MP, John Mann. 'This is a job creation scheme, totally unnecessary.' When we put that to the local authority, the councillor in charge came up with the line: 'We didn't have the luxury of adopting a commonsense way of doing it.' He argued that 'the guidelines' offered no room for leeway.

I pointed out that the HSE guidelines had been withdrawn. 'You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't,' he murmured - proof that once a safety guideline is issued, it tends to stay issued.

Former Times editor Sir Simon Jenkins is chairman of the National Trust, whose parks and country houses demand a forest of safety signs. 'Victims of an accident nowadays have it somehow hard-wired into them that someone must be at fault,' Sir Simon told us. 'They've got used to the thought that there might be some money in it. The combination of fault, blame and money is toxic.'

Sir Simon first realised something was awry when his local Guy Fawkes night party in North London was banned. 'They said you can't have bonfires, people might immolate themselves. I just thought, this is spoiling public life as we know it. 'I'm entirely in favour of safety. It is silly to say that people should take terrible risks. But the concept of common sense has vanished.' He added that there is 'now a large cohort of people whose job it is to go around over-assessing risk. They will always say, oh, if you spend enough money frequently on me, I'll get you permission to have your event.'

This is something we have encountered at our tiny village church in Herefordshire. Diocesan safety 'experts' have demanded we erect safety railings both outside the church and leading from the altar down two steps to the nave. A 17th-century rood screen may have to have a modern handle drilled into its flank. Our church has stood for hundreds of years and there is no record of a single worshipper being injured in a post-communion wine stupor. The cost of the recommended work? Some £1,000. Madness.

Even when accidents do occur, the concept of an 'act of God' seems no longer to exist. Perhaps this is because secularism is fashionable among bureaucrats or maybe it is the inevitable dynamics of a system in which no one - certainly no leading politician - is prepared to argue that risk is desirable.

Individuals often want to drive faster or climb higher, but officialdom recoils from risk, seeing only problems. Officialdom feels it is in loco parentis of everyone, including adults.

Petty health and safety rulings also bring into disrepute the name of necessary safety measures. At major construction sites, heavy equipment and long drops make precautions vital. Six people a month still die on building sites.

I interviewed Barbara and Bernard Burke, whose son Steven, a 17-year-old karate champion, fell to his death while working in a 60ft-high sewage tank. The Burkes know, to their cost, that health and safety on some sites is not everything it could be. Union leader Alan Ritchie pointed out that his industry has the highest number of deaths, yet in recent years the HSE has failed to maintain the numbers of its inspection teams.

Has the HSE instead concentrated too much on less urgent concerns such as noise regulations? Two years ago 175 men received industrial benefit payments for work-related deafness - in jobs such as mining and energy supply. Not one of them worked in the music business. Nonetheless, new rules on average maximum decibel counts (85 decibels - roughly the level of a loud conversation) have been introduced by the HSE for our theatres and musical venues.

Musicians call it an artistic intrusion. Arts administrators say it could mean turning down the volume when audiences actively want a noisy night out. Again, how can this make sense? Does it really serve the life-and-death work of industrial safety?

There are warning signs everywhere on our streets today. It's a surprise we don't have a nervous breakdown just going to the shops. The very multiplicity of signs reduces their potency. And the same is surely true of the whole health and safety culture. The more we are lectured about questionable hazards, the less we will listen to genuinely important safety advice.

Some farmers are driven to their wits' end by health and safety paperwork. We spoke to an arable farmer in East Anglia who said his paperwork had increased fivefold in the past 10 years. Scared of retributions, the farmer remained anonymous. It was the same with a small builder in Herefordshire. He receives so many health and safety leaflets from various arms of government that he is simply unable to find time to read them all, let alone remember and enact them on site every day. This builder, who has not had a serious accident in more than a decade as an employer, would not let us film his face because he did not want the HSE or other safety inspectors 'coming after' him.

The demands on small business are time consuming and expensive. Employees who use ladders in their work are subject to the 'working at height' directive, a document which left Brussels at a few pages but mushroomed to 27 pages by the time Whitehall had finished with it. Ladder awareness training courses are now recommended by the HSE. In the spirit of inquiry, I attended a day-long course in Hornchurch, Essex. That'll be £230, thank you, for learning how to recognise a ladder, climb a ladder, store a ladder and, most important, condemn an unsafe ladder (good news for the ladder industry, at least). Ladders must have their movements and daily checks recorded. This means more pieces of paper, more risk assessments, yet more expense for the employer.

The enterprising fellow who ran the course could have talked about ladders for a week. Gripped as he was by safety mania, mind you, he managed to bump his head on the ceiling at one point. As we left, he waved us off while sucking deep on a cigarette. So much for the 'health' part of 'health and safety'!

The health and safety boom could result in people not bothering to buy insurance. According to Dominic Clayden, claims director at Norwich Union insurance: 'The cost of insurance will go up and ultimately, as we've seen with motor insurance, some people potentially are priced out of the market and will choose not to insure.' He criticised ' ambulance chasers' from the margins of the legal world - the 'claims farmers' who encourage people to sue under no-win, no-fee arrangements introduced in 1999.

For every 60p Norwich Union pays to an injured person, it pays 40p to lawyers. In smaller value claims, it is 'pretty common' to see more going to the lawyer than to the injured person. When Mr Clayden talks to European insurers about British no-win, no-fee rules, 'they think it is mad, they laugh at me'.

The current health and safety mania is surely one farce we could do without. Safety at work has a legitimate role. Industrial deaths must be kept to a minimum. But there's a deal to be done here. Unless we resist pointless meddling, unless we start taking more responsibility for ourselves, safety will become a joke. A truly dangerous joke.


JFK Democrats no more

by Jeff Jacoby

ARE HUMAN RIGHTS still a Democratic priority? To Democrats of a certain age, such a question might seem incomprehensible. After all, it was a Democrat, John F. Kennedy, whose inaugural address proclaimed "to friend and foe alike" that Americans would resist "the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed." It was another Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who made support for human rights an explicit foreign-policy concern, declaring at his inauguration: "Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere." It was Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson and Representative Charles Vanik -- Democrats both -- whose landmark Jackson-Vanik amendment helped win freedom for tens of thousands of Soviet dissidents and refuseniks.

But somewhere along the way, Democratic priorities seem to have changed.

For example: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could have used her recent trip to China to vigorously defend human rights -- to make it clear to those who rule the world's largest dictatorship that the new administration in Washington cares about the liberty and dignity of China's people. Instead, she more or less announced in advance that talking to Beijing about human rights was pointless, since "we pretty much know what they're going to say." Besides, she told reporters, human rights must not "interfere" with more important issues, such as the global economic crisis or climate change.

China got the message. As Clinton arrived in Beijing, dozens of pro-democracy dissidents were placed under virtual house arrest. True to her word, the secretary of state made no fuss about the regime's brutality.

Not long thereafter, the White House picked Charles Freeman, a longtime Beijing sycophant, to head the National Intelligence Council. In 1989, Freeman had defended the Tiananmen Square massacre, publicly regretting only that Chinese authorities didn't crack down even sooner. (He later withdrew his name from consideration for the intelligence post.)

To be sure, the US-Chinese relationship has never turned solely on human rights. But Democrats have certainly traveled quite a distance since the days when Bill Clinton was blasting the first President Bush for "coddling aging rulers with undisguised contempt for democracy and human rights."

Closer to home, President Obama last week relaxed US policy toward Cuba, making it easier for Cuban-Americans to travel and send money to relatives living there. The president's order was titled "Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in Cuba," but in fact it said nothing at all about democracy and human rights in Cuba. Nowhere did it mention the Communist tyranny of the last 50 years -- there was nothing about the denial of free speech; the abuse and murder of political dissidents; the persecution of journalists, librarians, and human-rights activists; the relentless surveillance and secret police; the regime's stranglehold on property and employment.

This time, at least, Hillary Clinton didn't give human rights the brush-off. "We would like to see Cuba open up its society, release political prisoners, open up to outside opinions and media," she said on Thursday.

By contrast, when a delegation of congressional Democrats returned from a trip to Cuba a few days earlier, it was to gush about how "very engaging" Fidel and Raul Castro are, and to insist that improvement in human rights not be made a condition of better relations with Washington.

Thus at a press conference on April 7, Illinois Representative Bobby Rush extolled Raul Castro -- a man with the blood of hundreds on his hands -- for his "sense of humor" and the way he "laughed at himself" and how "down-to-earth" and "kind" he was. Why, said Rush, being with Castro was "almost like visiting an old friend." When a reporter asked about Cuba's human rights record, Rush snapped that he was engaging in a "double standard" and called it "good business sense" not to let human rights get in the way of increased trade.

Another member of the delegation, Cleveland congresswoman Marcia Fudge, went even further, resolutely defending the Castro brothers' right to "run a nation the way they believe is best." After all, she said, "there is no one way that people should live." But Fudge was wrong -- profoundly wrong. All people should live in freedom. No one has the right to "run a nation" like a prison camp. Every human being is entitled to equal justice and the right to life. Those are core American truths -- truths most Democrats once understood in their bones. Do they still?


A lesson from India

By Nirpal Dhaliwal, in Britain

These days, I notice babies everywhere — at cinemas, in restaurants and on the high street. I even notice the paraphernalia that comes with them — the fancy pushchairs, baby outfits and such. I was recently spellbound by a dad on a bicycle towing what I can only describe as a “baby box”, a luxuriously upholstered cube on wheels, containing his cute and helmeted toddler. I have a keener eye for children than for attractive women. Aged 35, my urge for sex is giving way to the urge for the products of sex. I’m feeling broody, but broodiness is an issue men rarely discuss and have no language for.

Women always talk openly about their desire for babies, their “womb ache”, as some call it. There is no equivalent term for men. What anatomical description can we use for our longing? Referring to our “throbbing balls” doesn’t have the same ring, though balls and wombs exist for the same reason: procreation. Women have monopolised the higher ground of the reproductive discussion. Babies grow inside them; they feel every pulse and rhythm of their development and so claim an instinctive bond with their creation. By comparison, men are mere bystanders. While women talk about the desire for children in terms of nature, men talk sociologically about the “role” and “purpose” that fatherhood gives them, as if babies just provide something to do when you’re too old and fat to play five-a-side or get plastered and go on the pull.

Whenever I broach the topic of broodiness, other men patronise me, saying I’ve “gone soft”. Fathers treat me as if I’m a wet, wide-eyed pup with little idea of what I’m letting myself in for. Childless thirtysomething male friends regard the idea with contempt. “I can’t be bothered,” is a common reply when asked if they want to be fathers. There is much denial in this. One friend claimed he was glad to be childless because kids are “noisy, messy, irritating and a pain in the arse”. He said this despite the fact that he and his wife have tried, unsuccessfully, to conceive. While his wife can freely admit her pain and sadness, convention dictates that men cannot do the same. In the male lexicon, to be without children is to be free of the responsibilities and work that comes with them, which can only be a good thing. Men rarely admit their vulnerability, and broodiness is precisely that, a sense of deep personal incompletion.

I realised how bereft I am of children while spending the second half of last year in India — a country that is teeming with them. I’d watch young Indian families sitting on railway platforms, the fathers beaming as they cradled their perfectly formed, serenely quiet babies. Seeing people who earn a pittance, whose daily lives are a grinding struggle, take such genuine, uncomplicated delight in their children made me appreciate what a real and uniquely powerful experience parenthood is. It made me want to be a father.

This realisation initially made me go on a dating frenzy. In typically male fashion, I interpreted it as a sign that the good times were coming to an end and set about chasing as much tail as possible. But that wore off quickly and I’ve found myself becoming curiously indifferent to sex. When a woman comes on to me now, I wonder whether I can be bothered to wake up in another part of town without my own toothbrush rather than of how good she might be in bed. Indeed, sexy women aren’t so sexy any more: the sort of intense, imperious personality that often makes a woman a wildcat in the sack no longer excites me as I contemplate the hard work she entails. While my friends still leer at these divas as they strut through a bar, I now regard them as merely headaches in heels.

Tall, strapping women have become strangely enticing, as I imagine the athletic children they could bear, the powerfully built son who might one day play centre-forward for England. But what attracts me most to a woman is her ability to communicate and interest me. And now that I’m actually listening to women in an effort to know rather than seduce them, I’m amazed at how few can actually do this. Women, sadly, are largely as boring and self-obsessed as men.

My broodiness has made me extremely picky. The bedpost has been adequately notched; there is nothing left to prove other than that I would make a loving and committed parent. All I can do now is wait for a woman who feels the same way about herself, with whom I can begin the mundane and magical adventure of raising a family. Fingers crossed, she’s making her way to me already.


Poverty Creates Terrorists?

“The reason the World Trade Center got hit is there's a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life,” bombastic CNN founder Ted Turner opined during a lecture at Brown University in 2002. As successful as Turner is as a businessman, he is foolish as a political commentator, and this statement was no exception.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, politicians, pundits and academics have sought to explain what factors create terrorists. Like Turner, many have lazily sought to tie terrorism to poverty. Though obnoxiously loud, the Ted Turners of the world can be easily ignored on such matters. But when linkage between poverty and terrorism is propounded, as it has been in one way or another, by the likes of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair among many, many other influential figures, it is worthy to ponder whether such analysis could possibly have merit.

So what does the evidence say?

Several studies have been conducted both before and since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks (some better than others), which have looked at the social make-up of terrorists. In one study by Princeton-trained economist Claude Berrebi, 335 members of radical Palestinian Islamist terrorist organizations Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were analyzed. The terrorists surveyed were mainly “shahids,” or martyrs (read murderers), over a period from 1987 to 2002. The results of his survey, and its comparison to the Palestinian population as a whole, delivered a striking indictment to the “poverty creates terrorists” crowd.

Berrebi discovered that 16 percent of the radical Islamist terrorists he surveyed could be considered poor compared to 31 percent of the male Muslim population between the ages 18 and 41 in the Palestinian territories as a whole. Thirty-three percent of the terrorists could be considered “well off” compared to only 20 percent of the Muslim male Palestinian population between 18 and 41 years of age. Additionally, while 10 percent of the terrorists were considered “very well off” according to the survey, 0 percent of Muslim Palestinian males between 18 and 41 could be considered the same. The study also indicated that the radical Islamist Palestinian terrorists were generally more highly educated than the male Muslim Palestinian population between 18 and 41.

Given the evidence, Berrebi was left to conclude, “If there is a link between income level, education and participation in terrorist activities, it is either very weak or in the opposite direction of what one intuitively might have expected.”

In another study by terrorism expert Marc Sageman, 102 Islamist radicals involved in global jihad were analyzed. Like Berrebi, Sageman could find no correlation between poverty and terrorism with only about a quarter of the jihadis he looked at able to be classified as coming from impoverished backgrounds. “[M]embers of the global Salafi jihad,” Sageman writes in his book Understanding Terror Networks, “were generally middle-class, educated young men from caring and religious families, who grew up with strong positive values of religion, spirituality and concern for their communities.”

One study of Islamist radicals in Egyptian prisons (and elsewhere) in the late 1970s by Saad Eddin Ibrahim also helps explode the poverty-produces-terrorists myth. “The typical member of the militant Islamic groups,” Ibrahim discovered, could be “described as young (early 20s), of rural or small-town background, from the middle or lower-middle class, with high achievement and motivation, upwardly mobile, with a scientific or engineering education, and from a normally cohesive family.” He went on to conclude that if the Islamist radicals he analyzed were out of the ordinary in any way, it was “because they were significantly above the average of their generation” in education, financial background and motivation.

There are other studies that further buttress the conclusions of these studies. The anecdotal evidence is also overwhelming if less statistically significant. Of course, it is well known that the leaders of these jihadi movements come from less-than-impoverished backgrounds. Osama Bin Laden comes from the extraordinarily large Bin Laden family fortune of Saudi Arabia, for instance, and Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri is a trained doctor. But the leaders aren’t the only ones who weren’t living hand to mouth when they became radicalized.

The lead foot soldier of the 9/11 attacks was Mohammad Atta. Far from being enmeshed in poverty, he was a graduate student in Germany when he became radicalized. One of the 2005 London bombers left an estate valued over $150,000. The 2007 Glasgow terrorist attack, which fortunately only resulted in the death of one of the perpetrators, was carried out by a medical doctor and an engineer. On and on it goes.

So, no Virginia, poverty is not a primary factor in producing terrorists. It is about time we put this myth to rest once and for all.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Britain: Where the "caring" of a "caring" Leftist government is most needed, it seems nowhere to be found

"Entering the care system is catastrophic for a child’s future prospects". And the morons think more money will fix it. How is more money going to improve the foster-carers? Shocking thought: Could some of the Christian families who have been knocked back as carers because they refused to preach "gay pride" or the wonders of Islam actually make better carers than some of the present lot?

The care system is “catastrophic” for the prospects of an abused or neglected child and must be overhauled, MPs say today. The quality of residential and foster care is governed by luck to an unacceptable degree, says the crossparty Children, Schools and Families Select Committee. The MPs accuse the Government of failing in its duty as a corporate parent by not raising standards of care across the country despite a series of reforms.

The MPs call for a new national framework of fees and allowances for foster parents, who look after about two thirds of the 60,000 children in the care system, in order to attract and retain better families.

Foster parents currently face a postcode lottery in allowances, with some getting as little as £70 a week to pay for all a child’s needs and no fees, even though many give up their jobs. Foster parents should be paid all year round, and not just when they have a child living in their home, the MPs say.

Ministers should change the law and demand that the health service and criminal justice system in particular give children in care special consideration, in the same way they get preferential treatment in choice of schools.

The highly critical report also condemns local authorities for encouraging children to leave their foster homes when they are 16. That is often the point when vulnerable young people go off the rails, left alone in a bedsit or flat and given little support with managing their finances or looking after themselves.

The Government has recently said that no child should leave care before the age of 18, but the MPs said local authorities were dragging their heels because of the costs, and that in any case 21 should become the normal age to leave care.

The report echoes concerns voiced by Andrew Flanagan, new chief executive of the NSPCC, who told The Times this month that he feared children were being left in danger at home with their parents because the care system was such a poor alternative.

The outcomes for children in foster and residential care are very poor. Three quarters of those leaving care have no qualifications and within two years half become unemployed and one in six homeless. Half of those in jail aged 25 or under have been in care, as have a third of the whole prison population.

The committee is concerned that the care system’s poor reputation may contribute to reluctance to take children into care when necessary.

The MPs also urge ministers not to neglect residential care as an alternative to foster care, pointing out that care homes are used far more widely elsewhere in the European Union and to good effect.

The report criticises the low level of qualifications of staff in care homes and says they should all be trained to NVQ Level 3 without delay. In other parts of the EU, professionals in care homes are usually graduates.

The Government has implemented several programmes of reform of the care system since coming to power, but critics say they do not amount to the step change required.

Experts say that, with the thresholds for taking children into care now higher than ever, their problems are often far greater when they are removed from home and many require expert help. Local authorities say that they spend about £40,000 a year on each child in care, but much of that is spent on social workers monitoring the placement, not on the staff or foster parent doing the caring.

The care system has come into sharper focus since the death of Baby P pushed the issue of child protection to the top of the political agenda.

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield and chairman of the committee, said that care must become a positive experience for the child.

“It is imperative that the Government, through its Care Matters reform programme, tackles the perception that entering the care system is catastrophic for a child’s future prospects,” he said. “It must be seen as a positive experience, but this will only happen if the state can better replicate the warm, secure care of good parents for every child in the system.”


Campus Leftists Don't Believe in Free Speech

Conservative speakers now have bodyguards when they visit universities


I arrived in Austin, Texas, one evening recently to give a speech about academic freedom at the university there. Entering the hall where I was to give my speech, I was greeted -- if that's the word -- by a raucous protest organized by a professor and self-styled Bolshevik, Dana Cloud. Forty protesters hoisted placards high in the air and robotically chanted "Down With Horowitz," "Racist Go Home," and "No More Witch-hunts."

Fortunately, a spokesperson for the administration was present to threaten the disrupters with arrest if they continued on this course. (The threat was administered very carefully, with three formal warnings before any action could be taken.) This quieted the crowd enough that I could begin my talk, which proceeded without further serious incident.

Even so, there were occasional heckles and demonstrative cheers from the group when I mentioned the name of Sami Al-Arian ( whose organization, Palestine Islamic Jihad, is responsible for the deaths of more than 100 innocent victims in the Middle East), Black Panther Huey Newton (convicted of killing an Oakland police officer in 1967, although he was eventually released on a technicality), or when I uttered the word "communist" -- even though I did so to remind the audience that communists killed 120 million people in the last century trying to implement Marx's ideas.

Among the organizations participating in these outbursts were the International Socialist Organization, whose goal is the establishment of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" in the United States; Iranians for Peace and Justice, supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas; and Campus Progress, the unofficial college arm of the Democratic Party.

One of the local members of Campus Progress had written a column in the campus newspaper attacking me in advance of my talk, and defending Sami Al-Arian as a victim of political persecution. The conservative students who invited me to the University of Texas told me that organizations such as the Muslim Students Association routinely join with College Democrats in protests against the state of Israel.

At the end of the evening, Prof. Cloud stepped up to the microphone to ask a question, which was actually a little speech. Even though the protocol for such occasions restricts audience participants from making their own speeches, I did her the courtesy she tried to deny me by letting her talk.

She presented herself as a devoted teacher and mother who was obviously harmless. Then she accused me of being a McCarthyite menace. Disregarding the facts I had laid out in my talk -- that I have publicly defended the right of University of Colorado's radical professor Ward Churchill to hold reprehensible views and not be fired for them, and that I supported the leftist dean of the law school at UC Irvine when his appointment was withdrawn for political reasons -- she accused me of whipping up a "witch-hunting hysteria" that made her and her faculty comrades feel threatened.

When Ms. Cloud finished, I pointed out that organizing mobs to scream epithets at invited speakers fit the category of "McCarthyite" a lot more snugly than my support for a pluralism of views in university classrooms. I gestured toward the armed officers in the room -- the university had assigned six or seven to keep the peace -- and introduced my own bodyguard, who regularly accompanies other conservative speakers when they visit universities. In the past, I felt uncomfortable about taking protection to a college campus until a series of physical attacks at universities persuaded me that such precautions were necessary. (When I spoke at the University of Texas two years ago, Ms. Cloud and her disciples had to be removed by the police in order for the talk to proceed.)

I don't know of a single leftist speaker among the thousands who visit campuses every term who has been obstructed or attacked by conservative students, who are too decent and too tolerant to do that. The entire evening in Texas reminded me of the late Orianna Fallaci's observation that what we are facing in the post-9/11 world is not a "clash of civilizations," but a clash of civilization versus barbarism.


Reverse Discrimination Case Could Transform Hiring Procedures Nationwide

Inside a burning building, fire doesn't discriminate between Matthew Marcarelli and Gary Tinney. Inside the New Haven Fire Department, however, skin color has put them on opposite sides of a lawsuit that could transform hiring procedures nationwide.

This week, the Supreme Court will consider the reverse discrimination claim of Marcarelli and a group of white firefighters. They all passed a promotion exam, but the city threw out the test because no blacks would have been promoted, saying the exam had a "disparate impact" on minorities likely to violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Besides affecting how race can be considered in filling government and perhaps even private jobs, the dispute also addresses broader questions about racial progress: Do minorities and women still need legal protection from discrimination, or do the monumental civil rights laws that created a more equal nation now cause more harm than good?

Also, beneath the specific details of the firefighters' lawsuit lies an uncomfortable truth: On most standardized tests, regardless of the subject, blacks score lower than whites. Reconciling that reality with efforts to ensure "justice for all" remains a work in progress — one that will be molded by the Supreme Court.

New Haven's population is 44 percent white, 36 percent black and 24 percent Hispanic (who can be any race). At the time of the 2003 test, 53 percent of the city's firefighters, 63 percent of lieutenants and 86 percent of captains were white. Blacks were 30 percent of the firefighters, 22 percent of lieutenants and 4 percent of captains.

The promotion exams were closely focused on firefighting methods, knowledge and skills. The first part had 200 multiple-choice questions and counted for 60 percent of the final score. Candidates returned another day to take an oral exam in which they described responses to various scenarios, which counted for 40 percent.

Tinney, a black lieutenant who has been a firefighter for 14 years, was seeking a promotion to captain when he took the exam. He says both the test and his fire department have hidden biases against minorities: The department is historically white, with the first blacks joining in 1957, and jobs, relationships, knowledge and choice assignments are passed on from friend to friend and generation to generation. "I just call it 'the network,"' Tinney says.

The white firefighters' attorney, Karen Torre, said they would not be interviewed for this story. In a conversation on Fox News' "Hannity" program, Marcarelli said it was "gut wrenching" to learn that he was No. 1 on the test but would not get promoted. "It's something that shakes what you believe in. Because you believe if you work hard, you're rewarded for that, and that's not necessarily the case," Marcarelli said.

Torre said whites have no special advantage in promotions because of laws requiring use of a race-blind, score-based system. She added that many blacks have relatives on the force, including high-ranking officers.

One hundred and eighteen people took the tests; 56 passed. Nineteen of the top scorers were eligible for promotion to 15 open lieutenant and captain positions. Based on the test results, the city said that no minorities would have been eligible for lieutenant, and two Hispanics would have been eligible for captain. (The lawsuit was filed by 20 white plaintiffs, including one man who is both white and Hispanic.)

The exams were designed by a professional testing firm that followed federal guidelines for mitigating disparate racial outcomes, the plaintiffs say.

But after the results came back, the city says it found evidence that the tests were potentially flawed. Sources of bias included that the written section measured memorization rather than actual skills needed for the jobs; giving too much weight to the written section; and lack of testing for leadership in emergency conditions, according to a brief filed by officers of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

"I'm sure there are numerous reasons why (blacks didn't do as well), and not because we're not as intelligent," Tinney says. "There's a lot of underlying issues to that ... these folks are saying, 'We studied the hardest, we passed the test, we should be promoted.' But they're not talking about all the other things."

Torre argues that discarding a test because no minorities would have been promoted violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination because of race. [The constitutional protections in this case are crystal clear but SCOTUS has nonetheless airily sailed right around them in the past] Call it a legal riddle only the Supreme Court could solve: The white firefighters say Title VII prohibits discrimination against them for being white; New Haven says Title VII prohibits it from using a test that has a disparate impact against blacks.

"All were afforded the same notice, the same study period, the same exam syllabi, etc.," said Torre, who would only answer questions by e-mail. "The rest was up to the individual."

There are long-standing divisions over the concept of hardworking, qualified whites being "victimized" by laws or practices designed to help minorities overcome America's history of racism. What's different today is that the landscape has shifted in many ways, big and small. The biggest is the election of President Obama, and the support he received from millions of white voters.

"It is not white racism that plays the deciding role in the success of minorities any more," says Edward Blum, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who believes that race should not be considered in employment decisions. "That was the case in the '60s and '70s and maybe even part of the '80s," he says. "But it is no longer the case in the 21st century that because you are black you are being held back from achieving what your parents and your ambitions will allow you to achieve. I think that has been crystallized with the election of President Obama."

Obama's election has been a boon to the movement that developed years ago seeking to reshape civil rights laws designed to remedy discrimination. Besides the firefighters' lawsuit, the Supreme Court will soon hear a case seeking to overturn a Voting Rights Act requirement that all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination must get approval from the Justice Department before changing election procedures. And in 2007, the court struck down voluntary integration plans in two public school districts. Even though it may result in less opportunities for qualified minorities, "the use of race does greater harm to our social fabric by being there than by being eliminated," Blum says.

Another major shift has been in the balance of the Supreme Court. Conservatives gained a 5-4 majority during the Bush administration, although Justice Anthony Kennedy is seen as a potential swing vote. In Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion in the 2007 school ruling, one line rang loudest: "the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."

That statement was seen as a harbinger of future rulings that would end the use of race in employment, voting and awarding government contracts. It also rebutted a famous statement by Justice Harry Blackmun in the landmark Bakke affirmative action case: "In order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently."

Mary Frances Berry, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania and head of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during the Clinton administration, said the firefighters' case has broad implications. "This is about whether we are going to see a sea change in how the judiciary looks at the need for these (protections), and how the popular culture and electoral politics influence their perceptions," Berry said.

The Obama administration has said such laws are needed and it is committed to enforcing them. The Justice Department's brief in the firefighters case supports New Haven's position that the city acted properly in throwing out the tests. But in what many call a political maneuver designed to avoid taking sides, the Justice Department stopped short of saying the firefighters' case should be dismissed, instead recommending that it be remanded to a lower court to determine if city's decision was a pretext for intentional discrimination.

Polls show varying levels of support for affirmative action programs. In an AP-Yahoo poll conducted in December 2007 through January 2008, one-quarter of respondents favored affirmative action programs and 37 percent opposed them. Another 36 percent neither favored nor opposed them. A September 2007 Pew poll, which did not give people the option to say they had no opinion, found that 46 percent of people said they favored affirmative action programs that give special preferences to qualified blacks in hiring and education, while 40 percent opposed such programs.

Last November, Colorado voters became the first in the nation to reject a ban on state affirmative action programs. Similar measures have been approved in Nebraska, California, Michigan and Washington.

Supreme Court observers predict the firefighters' lawsuit will be decided by a 5-4 margin, with Justice Kennedy casting the deciding vote. His past decisions give hope to both sides. In the recent Voting Rights Act decision that made it harder for some minority candidates to win election when voting districts are redrawn, Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that "racial discrimination and racially polarized voting are not ancient history. Much remains to be done to ensure that citizens of all races have equal opportunity to share and participate in our democratic processes and traditions."

"It would be an irony, however," Kennedy continued, if civil rights laws were used to "entrench racial differences."


Australia opts out of racist conference

AUSTRALIA has cancelled plans to attend an anti-racism conference in Geneva over concerns the UN-backed forum will degenerate into a launchpad for anti-Semitic attacks. The decision to boycott the Durban Review Conference was taken after Australia, in conjunction with the US, Israel and other countries, was unsuccessful in pushing for changes to the wording of a draft document upholding anti-Semitic remarks in the 2001 Durban Declaration.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith yesterday said that while Australia remained strongly committed to fighting racism, the federal Government could not support the document reaffirming the original declaration. Canada, the US, Israel and Italy have for similar reasons already pulled out of Durban II, which begins today.

The Netherlands broke ranks with the European Union last night to join the boycott. Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said The Netherlands would not attend because it feared the event would be abused ``for political ends and attacks on the West''. Germany is also considering a boycott, after intense lobbying by Mr Smith and Mr Verhagen.

Pro-Palestinian Labor backbencher Julia Irwin broke ranks to slam the boycott.

Canberra's 11th hour decision follows a US State Department announcement on the weekend that changes in the meeting's final document did not address concerns of anti-Israel and anti-Western bias. The 2001 Durban conference ended acrimoniously, with Israel and the US storming out in protest over Arab attempts to adopt a resolution equating Zionism with racism.

Mr Smith said he feared the Geneva conference was heading the same way. "The 2001 declaration singled out Israel and the Middle East," he said. "Australia expressed strong views about this at the time. The Australian Government continues to have these concerns. "Regrettably, we cannot be confident that the review conference will not be used as a platform to air offensive views, including anti-Semitic views. Of additional concern are the suggestions of some delegations in the Durban process to limit the universal right to free speech."

Mr Smith's argument was strongly rejected by Ms Irwin. "It's a shame Australia will be one of a handful of nations boycotting the Durban conference," Ms Irwin said. "Any nation which has policies which discriminate on the grounds of race or religion should not be above criticism and should not be supported by the Australian Government."

Australia's Jewish community warmly welcomed yesterday's decision. Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Robert Goot said the Durban II conference would not advance the fight to combat racism but would again single out Israel for condemnation. Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said Durban II's draft declaration was always going to be problematic. "With Libya chairing the preparatory committee assisted by Cuba as rapporteur and Iran as one of several vice-chairs, the proposed outcome document has mixed the fight against racism with a variety of morally deplorable political agendas," Dr Rubenstein said.

Palestinian groups expressed anger and disappointment at the decision, which they said showed Australia was not serious about ending racism. Australians for Palestine founding member Moammar Mashni said the Rudd Government had bowed to pressure from pro-Israel lobbies.

While Britain says it will be attending, [Another indication of the antisemitism that infests Britain's Leftist intelligentsia] the participation of countries such as Iran and Cuba, which have reputations as serial human rights violators, is likely to ensure the summit turns into an anti-Israel and anti-US slanging match.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Little Red Wagon That Can

What I saw at the Tea Party


I’m not sure—I’m no prophet—but I think I just saw something genuinely profound, genuinely amazing, and cool that could be the tidal wave of the future.

Here’s the setup. It was Tax Day. Thousands of self-organized protesters had gathered around the nation to protest the irresponsible, incredibly rapid expansion of government under the current administration. The Democratic Party and the elite media had done everything in their power to first ignore, then discourage, ridicule, and belittle this grassroots movement. Theoretically respectable journalists were reduced to making double-entendre sexual jokes about tea bags. These are the same people who rushed en masse to cover Cindy Sheehan and a dozen or so antiwar protesters in Crawford, Texas, rechristening that sad, emotionally unpredictable woman with two of the most cherished words in the English language: Peace Mom. But what was their attitude when thousands of ordinary people gathered in defense of their rights all over the country? “Just move on, folks, nothing to see here.”

Ah well, they’re nervous, and I don’t blame them. Because despite their claims that the Tea Party movement is without ideas, it was the people at those protests who represented the beliefs of our Founding Fathers. And it’s the government and the press that have betrayed them.

James Madison, in the famous Federalist #10, said it was the “first object of government” to protect those “diverse faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate,” and from which also originate “the possession of different degrees and kinds of property.” He warned that these faculties and these rights were in danger when what the Founders called “a majority faction” took over government. The Constitution, Madison said, was intended to help prevent such majority factions from working for “a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project.”

“The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality,” Madison warned; “yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the rules of justice.”

It is that voice—Madison’s voice, and the Constitution’s—with which the protestors spoke on Tax Day, and which the Democrats and the mainstream press have dismissed with such contempt.

So that’s the setup. Here’s what I saw at the Tea Party. I went to voice my opinions in an interview with Bill Whittle on the website Pajamas TV, where I do my “Klavan on the Culture” video commentaries. I walked into the modest studio in a skyscraper out near LAX. And it was wonderful.

There was a makeshift newsroom there like no other I had ever seen. Extra laptops and big-screen monitors were slung up everywhere, volunteer citizen journalists called in reports from the protests around the country on their cellphones, bloggers like Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds Skyped in live commentary, Tweeters sent in field observations. It was a People’s Media that seemed to have risen up out of the ground like Cadmus’s army of old to spread the word about a movement that had likewise risen up in spite of, and in defiance of, the powers that be.

Do you know what it reminded me of? Remember the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Remember how the lone righteous senator, played by Jimmy Stewart, takes on the entrenched interests in a filibuster but the powerful media, in league with the government, does everything it can to shut him up and shut him down? Unable to get the word out, Mr. Smith calls on the little kids who love him to print up newspapers on their toy printing presses and distribute them in their little red wagons. And they do it—little kids telling the story that a corrupt media is no longer willing to tell.

And do you remember what Mr. Smith says at his darkest hour, when they silence him, when they cut off every means he has of communicating with the American people? He says: “You all think I’m licked. But I’m not licked.” And then he brings those scoundrels down.


DHS Wants to Know What You’re Thinking

The Obama administration defines extremism down

By Andrew C. McCarthy

For eight years, we’ve been treated to hysterical rhetoric from Democrats, including Barack Obama, about the scourge of “domestic spying.” Now that the Obama administration is openly calling for domestic spying — the real thing, not the smear used against President Bush — they’re suddenly silent.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the FBI, has issued an intelligence assessment on what it calls “Rightwing Extremism.” It is appalling. The nakedly political document announces itself as a “federal effort to influence domestic public opinion.” It proceeds, in what it acknowledges is the absence of any “specific information that domestic rightwing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,” to speculate that “rightwing” political views might “drive” such violence — violence, it further surmises, that might be abetted by military veterans returning home after putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. And for good measure, in violation of both FBI guidelines and congressional statutes, the Obama administration promises scrutiny of ordinary Americans’ political views, speech, and assembly.

The word “rightwing” appears repeatedly in the assessment, which was issued by the same DHS component (the “Extremism and Radicalization Branch”) that, a year ago, suggested purging the terms “jihadist” and “Islamofascist” from our lexicon for fear of insulting moderate Muslims. And what exactly is “rightwing”? According to Obama’s DHS, it refers to groups that are “primarily hate-oriented” on ethnic grounds (perhaps DHS hasn’t heard of the National Socialist party) and those that are violently anti-government because of economic and social grievances (ACORN and “direct action” ring a bell?). “Rightwing” also covers a militia movement expressing “frustration that the ‘revolution’ never materialized.”

In short, the government uses the term as a caricature of the Right: noxious, non-conservative views thoughtlessly labeled “rightwing extremism” to smear actual conservative values as a purported societal threat. As the report absurdly elaborates:

"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

The insinuation: If you think the federal government has gotten too big, if you believe that the Tenth Amendment (“the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”) is still part of the Constitution, if you are concerned about unborn life, or if you want the immigration laws of the United States enforced, you are a terrorist waiting to happen. If you are resistant to immersion in the global community because of “the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers,” you are a potential subversive. If you are concerned that the government might interfere with your right to legally purchase and possess firearms, you are on the federal radar.

We on the Right are deeply concerned — more concerned, historically, than our opposite numbers — about threats to civil society. Ordered liberty requires order. When there is a domestic terrorist threat, regardless of the taxonomy of its motivational forces, government must be vigilant.

But several qualifiers are worth bearing in mind. First, as the Supreme Court observed in its 1972 Keith case, the law of the United States recognizes that foreign threats, such as that presented by al-Qaeda, call for more expansive executive authority in intelligence-gathering and other countermeasures than do potential domestic insurrections involving American citizens, whose rights of privacy and dissent are protected by the Constitution. Second, the stepped-up surveillance against radical Islam in 2001 followed sneak attacks that claimed more American lives than Pearl Harbor and capped a series of atrocities stretching back several years — and which, according to its perpetrators, were only part of a coming onslaught. Third, by contrast, there is no domestic terror threat at this time — DHS admits as much, and its expressed fear that such a threat may materialize is rank guesswork: “rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits,” the bad economy “could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists,” and so on.

That is no basis on which to hound American citizens, much less to smear conservative convictions as “drivers” of terrorism. Yet DHS concludes by promising to train Big Brother’s probing eye on “rightwing” politics. The agency, we’re told, “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months to ascertain with greater regional specificity the rise in rightwing extremist activity in the United States, with a particular emphasis on the political, economic, and social factors that drive rightwing extremist radicalization.”

In the absence of criminal activity, investigations targeting First Amendment–protected beliefs, speech, association, and political activity would constitute an abuse of power. FBI guidelines counsel:

"In its efforts to anticipate or prevent crime, the FBI must at times initiate investigations in advance of criminal conduct. It is important that such investigations not be based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment or on the lawful exercise of any other rights secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States."

Moreover, in the Patriot Act, FISA, and other statutes, Congress has expressly provided that investigations of Americans are not to be “conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

The DHS intelligence assessment is a betrayal of these values, and a frightening indication that those trusted to wield power in defense of our Constitution are unfamiliar with what the Constitution stands for.

President Obama should repudiate the DHS report and see to it that those responsible walk the plank — including DHS secretary Janet Napolitano, who has acknowledged being briefed on the assessment before it was released. If he won’t act, the Democratic Congress — so full-throated in its condemnation of “domestic spying” — should take a timeout from its partisan witch-hunts and find out who is really calling for putting Americans under surveillance.


Council powers to spy on the British public are cut

About time!

Councils are to have their powers to snoop on the public severely curtailed. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will signal government plans today to reverse the expansion of the surveillance society amid growing alarm at the extent of official spying.

Councils have used legislation intended to tackle terrorism and serious crime to deal with minor offences such as dog fouling and littering. Even families anxious to secure places at successful state schools have come under scrutiny from zealous officials. The powers have been used almost 50,000 times by public authorities such as local councils and the health service since 2002. The figure does not include surveillance by the police.

Under the government proposals thousands of council workers will lose the right to use the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Only chief executives and senior officials will be able to sanction use of the Act to eavesdrop on conversations, track vehicles and secretly film people — and only then for more serious offences such as benefits fraud and illegal trading.

Consumer groups will welcome the changes, but some privacy campaigners will say that they do not go far enough. Simon Davies, of Privacy International, said: “Given the farcical and overzealous use of these powers by local authorities it is entirely unacceptable that even chief executives should be given sign-off powers. Authorisation should be placed where it always belonged: with the police.”

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said that surveillance powers should be used only to tackle terrorism and serious crime.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “This consultation is a tacit admission by the Government that its surveillance society has got out of hand. For too long, powers we were told would be used to fight terrorism and organised crime have been used to spy on people’s kids, pets and bins. Surveillance powers should only be used to investigate serious crimes and must require a magistrate’s warrant.”

The consultation paper also suggests giving local councillors the right to monitor the way in which officials are using the powers. The Home Office said that this could involve chief executives and senior officials needing the approval of local councillors before they allow surveillance operations to begin.


A pedophile? Ho hum! say all the authorities

So he was left free to hurt those who reported him. An excellent example from Australia of how your government will NOT protect you

TWO girls who exposed their school principal as a sexual predator say their lives have been ruined since they were expelled from the Christian college. Friends Sarah Johnson and Bec Gavan blew the whistle on St Andrew's Christian School headmaster Frank Bailey, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to sex charges.

Their warning went unchecked by the Education Department, the Department of Community Services and police from the child protection unit, culminating a month later in the drugging and multiple rape of another teenage girl. In March, Bailey, 43, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual intercourse with a person in his care.

A year earlier the NSW Ombudsman's office and others had been told of Bailey's breach of the Presbyterian Church's child protection policy for private schools. In late 2006, Hazel Bell, a science teacher at the school at Clarenza, near Grafton, went to deputy principal David Johnston and the board with concerns about Bailey, who became principal in 2005. Mrs Bell was concerned at Bailey's playground cuddles with female students, inappropriate behaviour at after-school Christian youth groups and student pool parties at his home. She said that within two weeks of making the complaint she was made redundant after Mr Johnston told an enraged Bailey of her concerns.

"Revealing my identity was a breach of the confidentiality guidelines in the Whistleblowers [Protection] Act, and I wrote to both the Ombudsman's office and DOCS, and Presbyterian Social Services, expressing my concerns after I was made redundant," said Mrs Bell, who had taught at the school for two years.

She said that within a month of his appointment, Bailey, who had taught at Broughton Anglican College at Campbelltown, abolished the school's "no touch" policy. He also wrote in the school newsletter that "students had free will to love whoever they liked". "He even announced at assembly one day that the no contact policy was out because 'families touch' and the school was 'one big family'," Mrs Bell said.

She has joined Ms Johnson and Ms Gavan, both 19, in legal action against the Presbyterian Church for damaging their reputations, potential career paths and earning capacity by failing to heed their warnings about Bailey.

The former principal pleaded guilty in the District Court at Grafton over the incidents, which took place at his home over a week in November 2007. He will be sentenced next month. The offences were committed a month after Ms Johnson and Ms Gavan, then 17 and in year 12, were expelled for voicing concern to other students and the deputy principal about Bailey's behaviour towards a teenager. Ms Gavan was expelled on the spot by Bailey on October 22, 2007, for telling him to his face: "Principal Bailey you are a pedophile."

Ms Johnson, who had been given detention for telling other girls she didn't like the way Bailey cuddled students or walked around Grafton with his arm around one, was expelled three days later for harassing and denigrating students and teachers, Mr Johnston wrote in his expulsion letter to her parents.

St Andrew's and the Ombudsman's Office said they could not comment on the matter.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH 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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, April 19, 2009


By Ralph Peters -- who is so stupid he served in the military for almost 22 years

HOLLYWOOD and countless professors warned us: Military vets are drooling trailer-trash who beat their wives and, at best, wind up as homeless street people -- at worst, as homicidal psychos deformed by war. Now, thanks to our ever-vigilant Department of Homeland Security, the full extent of the danger has been revealed: Our so-called "war heroes" are rushing back to join right-wing-extremist hate groups to overthrow our government.

Let's not quibble about little things like evidence. The Obama administration just knows that vets are all racist, Jew-hating crazies waiting to explode. Thank God, DHS has a fearless leader, Janet-from-another-planet Napolitano, who isn't afraid to call white trash "white trash."

In this administration's published opinion, those who've served in our military are a menace to society and the state. And DHS's racist, bigoted implication is that the only danger comes from white, Christian vets (there's not a whisper about minority violence). Thanks for bringing us together, Mr. President.

Racism is racism. The left-wing propaganda document published officially by your government under the title "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" may be the shabbiest US Government publication of our time.

The report warns that "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists . . . carrying out violent acts."

The document's evidence? None. It contains no hard data, no statistics. It's nothing but a racist, anti-military opinion column that might pass muster in The New York Times, but shouldn't be issued by our government.

The report adds that "rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans" who "possess combat skills." The point? Our hayseed, uneducated, unskilled, wacko vets aren't able to think for themselves and will be patsies for right-wing fanatics. Guess that's how things look from Harvard.

Then the report warns us that "a prominent civil-rights organization reported in 2006 that 'large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other white supremacists are now learning the art of warfare in the armed forces.' " Which civil-rights organization? The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's? Why not name it? Why accept this bigoted hearsay? Where's the proof? Where's the data?

And where are those "large numbers of potentially violent neo-Nazis," anyway? Last time I checked, American Nazis had trouble mustering a couple dozen overweight losers in Halloween costumes.

Of course, Timothy McVeigh is invoked. Repeatedly. He's the sole example of a violent anti-government vet the report's drafters could produce. And there's no mention of the fact that, when he tried to join Special Forces, McVeigh promptly washed out and soon found his butt on the street. No, McVeigh will serve as eternal evidence that a homicidal nut lurks within every former soldier.

In just 8½ pages of text, the report manages to link our veterans to anti-Semitism, racism, economic failure and those dangerous citizens who think illegal immigration's a bad idea. Oh, and vets can't be trusted with firearms.

But never fear: Obama's commissars at the Department of Homeland Security have already responded that DHS simultaneously issued a report on extremist danger from the left. It's title? "Leftwing Extremists Likely to Increase Use of Cyber Attacks over the Coming Decade."

Get the point? Left-wing extremists aren't violent (and right-wingers are too stupid to understand computers). Timothy McVeigh can be invoked, but let's not mention Bill Ayers, our president's good buddy (until he became inconvenient) or his murderous wife. Left-wing fanatics might make a little online mischief, but, hey -- kids will be kids.

Read both reports. You'll find that those on the political right (not just vets) are unable to cope with the stress of economic hardship, the real-estate crisis or job loss. Not a word about those issues driving leftists to extremes. They're just defending animal rights and the environment (honest -- read the reports).

Narco gangs aren't a threat, either. And the real and present danger from Islamist fanatics resident in our country goes unmentioned -- even though there's plenty of data on that threat. The only anti-government violence DHS fears comes from crackers with carbines.

And from chumps so dumb they joined the military. We're the threat to our fellow citizens. You and me. Our first minority president just took a giant step toward creating the most bigoted administration since that of arch-segregationist Woodrow Wilson. Apologize to our veterans, Mr. President. And send Ms. Napolitano back to the minors.


Police photography hatred in Britain again (1)

Terror quiz for man who took photo of British police car.

A man was detained as a terrorist suspect for taking a photo of a police car being driven erratically across a public park. Malcolm Sleath, who is chairman of his local park society, was stopped by two officers and told he had breached Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. The law was amended in February to allow police to stop and search anyone they consider is a terrorist threat. Those found guilty face a maximum ten years in jail.

But Mr Sleath, acting chairman of the Friends of Town Park in Enfield, North London, was furious because police are not allowed to drive in that area of park. The 62-year-old management consultant said: 'It was coming a public footpath and leaving tyre marks everywhere and making people move out of the way. 'They are supposed to park and investigate things on foot, so I wanted to show the picture to the sergeant. '(The officer) was clearly embarrassed to be photographed where he shouldn't have been and wanted to intimidate me.'

The two PCSOs had been dispatched to the park to look for evidence of drug use in the surrounding bushes. But their bosses issued an immediate apology to Mr Sleath after the incident and admitted the pair should have been on foot. The PCSO concerned has also received 'formal words of advice', a police spokesman said.


Police photography hatred in Britain again (2)

Police delete London tourists' photos 'to prevent terrorism'

Like most visitors to London, Klaus Matzka and his teenage son Loris took several photographs of some of the city's sights, including the famous red double-decker buses. More unusually perhaps, they also took pictures of the Vauxhall bus station, which Matzka regards as "modern sculpture". But the tourists have said they had to return home to Vienna without their holiday pictures after two policemen forced them to delete the photographs from their cameras in the name of preventing terrorism.

Matkza, a 69-year-old retired television cameraman with a taste for modern architecture, was told that photographing anything to do with transport was "strictly forbidden". The policemen also recorded the pair's details, including passport numbers and hotel addresses. In a letter in today's Guardian, Matzka wrote: "I understand the need for some sensitivity in an era of terrorism, but isn't it naive to think terrorism can be prevented by terrorising tourists?" The Metropolitan police said it was investigating the allegations.

In a telephone interview from his home in Vienna, Matka said: "I've never had these experiences anywhere, never in the world, not even in Communist countries." He described his horror as he and his 15-year-old son were forced to delete all transport-related pictures on their cameras, including images of Vauxhall underground station. "Google Street View is allowed to show any details of our cities on the world wide web," he said. "But a father and his son are not allowed to take pictures of famous London landmarks."

He said he would not return to London again after the incident, which took place last week in central Walthamstow, in north-east London. He said he and his son liked to travel to the unfashionable suburbs. "We typically crisscross cities from the end of railway terminals, we like to go to places not visited by other tourists. You get to know a city by going to places like this, not central squares. Buckingham Palace is also necessary, but you need to go elsewhere to get to know the city," he said. He said the "nasty incident" had "killed interest in any further trips to the city".

Jenny Jones, a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and a Green party member of the London assembly, said she would raise the incident with the Met chief, Sir Paul Stephenson, as part of discussions on the policing of the G20 protests. "This is another example of the police completely overreaching the anti-terrorism powers," she said. "They are using it in a totally inappropriate way.

"I will be raising it with the commissioner. I have already written to him about the police taking away cameras and stopping people taking photographs and made the point that if it was not for people taking photos, we would not know about the death of Ian Tomlinson or the woman who was hit by a police officer."

A spokeswoman for Metropolitan police said: "It is not the police's intention to prevent tourists from taking photographs and we are looking to the allegations made." The force said it had no knowledge of any ban on photographing public transport in the capital.


Religious freedom doesn’t mean religious silence

The rights of conscience, Pope John Paul II once wrote, are the "primary foundation of every authentically free political order." If that is so, then we better redouble our vigilance. Here in the United States, where we fancy ourselves religiously tolerant, recent high-profile cases suggest that First Amendment rights are widely misunderstood.

In an ongoing imbroglio, Catholics around the country have lodged objections to the University of Notre Dame's decision to grant an honorary degree to President Barack Obama. They are upset that the university's honor comes in the wake of a series of decisions that flout Catholic teaching on abortion and they judge that Notre Dame's action contradicts a directive issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004. Some of these objecting Catholics happen to be bishops, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago among them. In response, William M. Daley, in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, reacted with dismay. The former co-chairman of Obama's presidential campaign called the cardinal's remarks part of "a worrisome pattern in which the Catholic hierarchy in America is mixing religion with politics." Faith, he implied, is a private matter, and religious figures violate the separation of church and state by offering their opinions in a way that might affect the public discourse.

Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a state law prohibiting homosexual men and women from marrying same-sex partners. The decision depended on the court's finding that there was no "rational basis" for Iowa's statute. More specifically, the Court determined that opposition to same-sex marriage was all (or mostly) motivated by "religion." By endorsing the law, the Court concluded, it would be endorsing religion, which is forbidden by the First Amendment.

Legal scholar Matthew Franck summarizes the implication of the court's argument well: "if a moral argument finds support in any religious commitment, then the promulgation of that argument in law is a violation of the principle of religious disestablishment." More to the point, Franck observes, this approach to First Amendment jurisprudence is "logically fallacious, historically illiterate, and politically brutish."

It is politically brutish because it, like the approach taken by Daley, tries to shove religious people from the public square by disallowing their views any influence in the formation of law or public policy. As George Weigel pointed out in a commentary on the Tribune column, it is ironic that Daley, the son of the Chicago mayor who helped John F. Kennedy win the presidency, would try to vitiate the authority of Church leadership by invoking a hoary anti-Catholic myth about bishops scheming for political power.

The problem should concern everyone, believer or not. As the Iowa case demonstrates, any religious view will be suspect, so long as it grates the sensibilities of whomever the political elite happen to be at the time. Even the views of non-religious people can be ostracized in this way. In Iowa, if an atheist favors a traditional definition of marriage, that position is nonetheless deemed unconstitutional because it happens to fall in line with the policy views held by some evangelical Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, or any other religious group.

It should be obvious that this is no way of building a pluralistic society that is free and peaceful. The American Founders knew better when they fashioned an amendment forbidding the national government from establishing a church, guaranteeing all people the right to practice their faith, and leaving the rest to local custom and personal freedom.

Recognizing the influence of religion, tyrants have always begun their quest for absolute power by coopting religious leaders. Where they have failed in that enterprise, would-be despots have neutralized them by undermining their authority or doing away with troublesome ministers altogether. History's tyrants recognized the progression that some of us have forgotten: Where people are free to act according their conscience, they will demand the right to determine their political destiny. Where they choose their political leaders, they will seek the space to exercise economic freedom as well. The many dimensions of freedom tend to rise--and to fall--together.

These are the connections that John Paul II, a churchman under Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, understood and articulated. Those who love freedom, be they of devout religious faith or none at all, should resist attempts to silence believers under the auspices of a perverted notion of separation of church and state.


Internet privacy: Britain in the dock

'Big Brother' state comes under fire as European Commission launches inquiry into secret surveillance of web users

Britain's failure to protect its citizens from secret surveillance on the internet is to be investigated by the European Commission. The move will fuel claims that Britain is sliding towards a Big Brother state and could end with the Government being forced to defend its policy on internet privacy in front of judges in Europe. The legal action is being brought over the use of controversial behavioural advertising services which were tested on BT's internet customers without their consent.

Yesterday, the EU said it wanted "clear consent" from internet users that their private data was being used to gather commercial information about their web shopping habits.

Under the programme, the UK-listed company Phorm has developed technology that allows internet service providers (ISPs) to track what their users are doing online. ISPs can then sell that information to media companies and advertisers, who can use it to place more relevant advertisements on websites the user subsequently visits. The EU has accused Britain of turning a blind eye to the growth in this kind of internet marketing.

Yesterday, the EU telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding, said: "I call on the UK authorities to change their national laws and ensure that national authorities are duly empowered and have proper sanctions at their disposal to enforce EU legislation."

Last year, BT tested the Phorm technology to track its customer's internet searches without their knowledge, provoking complaints from users and from UK members of the European Parliament.

Because it is considered lawful to intercept data when there is "reasonable grounds for believing" there is consent, the issue falls outside the UK's wiretapping laws. Linda Weatherhead of Consumer Focus said: "While phone tapping is clearly illegal and unacceptable, it seems that spying on the digital communications and activity is not." Richard Clayton, treasurer of the Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) – which described Phorm as "illegal" last year – said: "The laws are fit for purpose, but it seems that Whitehall have misunderstood their own laws." He said that users at both ends need to have consented to the system, which is not the case here and so contravenes the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act from 2000.

The Commission is also critical of the Government's implementation of the European electronic privacy and personal data protection rules. They state that EU countries must ensure the confidentiality of communications by banning the interception and surveillance of internet users without their consent. Ms Reding said: "We have been following the Phorm case for some time and have concluded that there are problems in the way the UK has implemented parts of EU rules on the confidentially of communications." She added that the enforcement of the laws "should allow the UK to respond more vigorously to new challenges of e-privacy and personal data protection such as those that have arisen in the Phorm case. It should also help reassure UK consumers about their privacy and data protection while surfing the internet."

The EU's intervention was welcomed by privacy campaigners. The Open Rights Group recently wrote to some of the world's biggest websites including Google, Yahoo and Facebook, asking them to block Phorm. Its executive director, Jim Killock, said yesterday: "There are big legal questions surrounding BT's use of Phorm, so we welcome the EU taking the Government to task. It's a pity our own Government haven't had more backbone and stood up for their voters' rights."

The UK has two months to reply to the EC's formal notification. Should no satisfactory response be made, the Commission could issue a reasoned opinion, before the case moves to the European Court of Justice. Last year the Information Commissioner's Office passed the Phorm technology as legal.

Advertisers are particularly keen on this form of marketing as the more targeted it becomes, the more value for money they feel the advert offers. One consultant said: "It is basically a very fine line between advertising that helps people and those that intrude."

Phorm boss Kent Ertugrul has been increasingly forced on to the back foot over the issue of privacy, fending off a series of questions over the issue last week at a "town hall" meeting. He said that the technology does not store information to identify a user; that all participants can opt out of it; and that it complies with data protection and privacy laws. The group added yesterday that the Commission's statement did not contradict that its technology was fully compliant with UK legislation and EU directives.

It is illegal in the UK to unlawfully intercept communications, but this is limited to "intentional" interception, the EC said yesterday. This is also considered lawful when those intercepting have "reasonable grounds for believing" consent has been given. There is no independent national supervisory authority dealing with such cases.

Several bodies including FIPR have blamed the Government and the UK regulators for playing "pass the parcel" with the issue, which has left it hanging with no one wanting to enforce it.

The Commission received its first complaints over the issue in April last year following BT's trial. Other providers including Virgin and Carphone Warehouse's TalkTalk are also interested. Users complained to the UK data protection authority and the police. The Commission wrote to the UK authorities in July and upon receiving the answers "has concerns that there are structural problems in the way the UK has implemented EU rules".

Simon Davis, director of Privacy International, believes the row has erupted more over "sovereignty than substance. It is almost entirely political".

'Big Brother' Britain: Private data under threat

* The mobile calls, emails and website visits of every person in Britain will be stored for a year under sweeping new powers which came into force this month. The new powers will for the first time place a legal duty on internet providers to store private data.

* Privacy campaigners warn that all this information could be used by the Government to create a giant "Big Brother" super-database containing a map of everyone's private life. The Home Office is expected shortly to publish plans for the storage of data which it says will be invaluable in the fight against crime.

* Facebook, one of the world's biggest internet sites, faced a privacy backlash when thousands of members signed a petition calling on the website to remove an advertising programme called Beacon, which can be used to track the spending habits of its users' visits to other websites.

* Google also courted controversy this year when it launched Street View, the controversial 3D mapping feature, in the UK. In one village householders stopped a Google vehicle from taking pictures of their street.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jesuit university afraid to display the name of Jesus

It's an old Protestant view that Catholics are not really Christians. And if the holiest order of the Catholic church is diffident about Jesus, that view does tend to be confirmed by the church itself

Georgetown University says it covered over the monogram “IHS” --symbolizing the name of Jesus Christ— because it was inscribed on a pediment on the stage where President Obama spoke at the university on Tuesday and the White House had asked Georgetown to cover up all signs and symbols there. As of Wednesday afternoon, the “IHS” monogram that had previously adorned the stage at Georgetown’s Gaston Hall was still covered up--when the pediment where it had appeared was photographed by CNSNews.com.

“In coordinating the logistical arrangements for yesterday’s event, Georgetown honored the White House staff’s request to cover all of the Georgetown University signage and symbols behind Gaston Hall stage,” Julie Green Bataille, associate vice president for communications at Georgetown, told CNSNews.com.

“The White House wanted a simple backdrop of flags and pipe and drape for the speech, consistent with what they’ve done for other policy speeches,” she added. “Frankly, the pipe and drape wasn’t high enough by itself to fully cover the IHS and cross above the GU seal and it seemed most respectful to have them covered so as not to be seen out of context.”

On Wednesday, CNSNews.com inspected the pediment embedded in the wall at the back of the stage in Gaston Hall, where Obama delivered his speech. The letters “IHS” were not to be found. They appeared to be shrouded with a triangle of black-painted plywood. Pictures of the wooden pediment prior to Obama’s speech show the letters “IHS" in gold. Many photos posted on the Internet of other events at Gaston Hall show the letters clearly.

The White House did not respond to a request from CNSNews.com to comment on the covering up of Jesus’ name at Gaston Hall.

Georgetown, which is run by the Jesuit order, is one of the most prestigious Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

Roman Catholics traditionally use “IHS” as an abbreviation for Jesus’ name [It's the first three letters of his name in the original Greek]. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Ignatius of Loyola adopted the monogram in his seal as general of the Society of Jesus (1541) and thus became the emblem of his institute.” The Society of Jesus is the formal name for the Jesuits.

Although the monogram was covered over on the wooden pediment at the back of the Gaston Hall stage where it would have been directly above and behind President Obama as he spoke, the letters “IHS” are posted elsewhere around the hall approximately 26 times on shields representing different parts of the United States and the world.

Obama did not mention the name of Jesus during his address. However, he did mention Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. “There is a parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that tells a story of two men…‘the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house…it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock,’” Obama said. “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” he added. “We must build our house upon a rock.”


A setback for the British police state

Having the police raiding the parliament and arresting an opposition member was an enormously dangerous precedent -- requiring the most unusual circumstances -- circumstances which did not exist

Jacqui Smith faced renewed pressure last night after the secrets case against Damian Green was thrown out and the leaks with which he was involved were deemed not to have involved national security. The Home Secretary will appear in the Commons on Monday for a statement on a series of issues including the recent terrorism raids in the North of England.

But, after an Easter recess in which she has come under growing criticism over her parliamentary expenses, Ms Smith will face fierce questioning over yesterday’s verdict that some of the leaks obtained by Mr Green were in the public interest. She, too, had raised worries over national security. She mounted a counter-attack last night, declaring that a failure to mount a leaks investigation would have been irresponsible.

Whitehall sources unleashed an extraordinary salvo at Christopher Galley, the civil servant who leaked to Mr Green but was also freed from the threat of criminal prosecution. One labelled him a “complete loser”. Claiming that he had used a term from Star Trek as a computer log-in, an insider said: “That says it all, doesn’t it. The guy was a laughing stock.”

But Ms Smith was again under fire over a police investigation that prompted the spectacle of the Shadow Immigration Minister being arrested, and threatened with serious charges, along with Mr Galley.

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled that there was insufficient evidence to bring a court case against Mr Green, who welcomed the decision and attacked the Government as authoritarian. Mr Green said that officials had felt the need to call in Scotland Yard because of the embarrassment to their political bosses by a string of damaging headlines.

He stopped short of accusing Ms Smith of direct involvement, but said that the affair was the result of the “atmosphere” caused by ministerial anger over the leaks, and said that ministers should take full responsibility.

Mr Green said he was very pleased that he would not face charges, and that publicising the leaks was the job of opposition. “There were no national security implications of any of the information that I obtained,” he said. “All the things that I put in the public domain were legitimate stories showing that our borders are not safe.”

But Home Office sources drew attention to the DPP’s conclusion — that a police investigation was “inevitable” because of the pattern of the leaks and the damage they were doing. They said that both the DPP’s statement and an imminent internal investigation suggested that Mr Green’s actions had fallen below those expected of an MP. “He’s not emerged from this whiter than white. His crowing has been premature,” they said.

Ms Smith said that she had a responsibility to keep information safe. “My job is to protect the British people. It is also to protect the sensitive information about how we protect them.”

The leaked material included the disclosure that Ms Smith failed to tell the public that up to 11,000 security guard licences had been granted to illegal immigrants. Another memo showed that an illegal immigrant had been employed as a cleaner in the House of Commons. Also leaked was a draft of a letter to Downing Street from Ms Smith warning that the recession could lead to rising crime levels.


Supreme Court Justice's Hypocrisy on International Law

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says that American courts should look more to foreign court rulings and international law in interpreting our Constitution. But she herself does so only when it is ideologically convenient.

For example, Justice Ginsburg cites foreign court rulings to advocate cutting back on the use of the death penalty. Some liberal lawyers go further, claiming that since most European countries don’t have capital punishment, the death penalty must be against “customary international law” and the weight of world opinion (even though ordinary citizens in many European countries, like the United Kingdom, typically support the death penalty).

But Justice Ginsburg, and American lawyers, tend to ignore foreign law and world opinion when it calls into question liberal policies in the United States. One classic example is the horror that most countries’ courts have for the American practice of letting virtually unguided juries award punitive damages. In most of the world, punitive damages are forbidden.

Justice Ginsburg is the biggest advocate of punitive damages on the U.S. Supreme Court. She opposes any limits on punitive damages under the Due Process and Excessive Fines clauses of the Constitution, and interprets vague federal laws as authorizing punitive damages. She has also rejected challenges to broad state taxes that both American business and European governments view as violating treaties against extraterritorial taxation.

Another example is abortion; while most European countries recognize the right to an abortion, they recognize that that right, like all rights, has limits, and typically require that abortions be performed prior to the end of the first trimester (unlike in the United States, where third-trimester partial-birth abortion was long de facto legal, and remains difficult to regulate as a result of court rulings).

Justice Ginsburg, by contrast, dissented against the Supreme Court ruling upholding limits on partial-birth abortion.

Foreign constitutions are often very different from ours, but that doesn’t stop Ginsburg from citing court rulings interpreting those constitutions as if they were relevant to ours. Yet she ignores relevant foreign court rulings involving exactly the same provisions when it is convenient to do so. For example, both the U.S. and foreign countries signed the Warsaw Convention, and helped craft it, so U.S. courts should look to foreign court rulings for any insights they may have about what its ambiguous provisions may mean and what its drafters intended. But in Olympic Airways v. Husain (2004), Justice Ginsburg did just the opposite, joining a Supreme Court decision that, as Justice Scalia noted in dissent, rejected the rulings of every foreign court that has considered the meaning of the Warsaw Convention. (The ruling that Ginsburg joined, not surprisingly, was “liberal” in that it allowed for more liability than foreign courts would have permitted).

American lawyers also ignore foreign law when it comes to privacy. Many foreigners are puzzled by the multibillion dollar lawsuits brought by lawyers against phone companies for cooperating with government antiterror surveillance programs after 9-11. Other countries like Sweden permit their governments to engage in much broader surveillance than the FISA bill would permit the U.S. government to do. The belief by many liberal commentators that the government should have to obtain a warrant before monitoring communications with foreign terrorists strikes many foreigners as peculiar. So, too, does the claim that the phone companies should be subject to punitive damages, even if the government itself doesn’t have to pay a dime.

There are pitfalls to looking to "international law" for guidance in interpreting our Constitution. So-called "international law" has been a major obstacle to combatting piracy in the crucial shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia, leading to billions of dollars in losses and killings and kidnappings.

"International law" is also vague and manipulable. International courts and “human rights” bodies issue rulings that purport to have the force of law. But much of their reasoning is based not on written laws found in any law book, or agreed to by any legislature or citizenry. Instead, it is based on vaguely-defined “customary international law,” principles of so-called “natural law” derived from a supposedly “clear consensus” by enlightened people across the globe. But that “consensus” is often illusory, since it can easily be fabricated, manipulated, or distorted by international lawyers.

Lawyers are, on average, further to the left politically than the average citizen. And so-called international lawyers are even more so. Just as the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence, lawyers often claim that the law is more liberal elsewhere in the world than in their own benighted country, and that such liberal norms — at odds with their own country’s law — constitute customary international law. Thus, it is commonly argued that customary international law bans the death penalty for mass murderers, and requires countries to ban disfavored forms of speech (such as “hate speech,” or criticism of any religion), although in reality, the strongest support for bans on such speech actually comes from undemocratic regimes like Cuba and China.

It is hard to fight these claims even when they are false, because ordinary people (and even most lawyers) don’t know much about foreign law. The lawyers who fashion “customary international law” are thus largely unaccountable. Perhaps as a result, customary international law is generally of poorer quality than domestic law. Scholars have cited this fact in celebrating the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Medellin v. Texas (2008), which refused to make Texas hear yet another challenge to a murderer’s conviction (which had already twice been upheld by different court systems) when ordered to do so by the International Court of Justice (a ruling at odds with the fact that virtually all ICJ member countries permit only one appeal of a conviction, not successive appeals).

Misleading the public about foreign law is common among “human rights” officials. For example, an official in Australia’s new Labour government claims that people accused of race discrimination should have to prove themselves innocent, rather than being proved guilty. To justify this outrage, he and Australia’s “human rights” commission claim that is the practice in America, when in fact it is quite the contrary.

American law puts the burden of proof on the complainant and the government, not the alleged offender, in discrimination cases. The U.S. Supreme Court explicitly so ruled in Texas v. Burdine (1981) and St. Mary’s Honor Center v. Hicks (1993). But Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tom Calma, and the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission falsely claim that under American law, “the onus of proof” is on “the person who has been accused of discrimination.” (See “Call to Switch Onus on Racist Offenses,” The Age, News, April 5, 2008).

Joseph H.H. Weiler, a law professor who co-drafted the European Parliament’s Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms, made American legal thinking seem more liberal than it is, by inviting to Europe to represent it two of America’s most radical law professors: the University of Michigan’s Catharine MacKinnon, who considers most heterosexual sex to be rape; and Harvard Law School’s Duncan Kennedy, who advocated having law school professors periodically exchange their positions with college janitorial staff in order to promote diversity and social equality.

By contrast, when laws across the world are more conservative than a law professor’s own, they are studiously ignored in formulating “human rights” law (like the world-wide aversion of most countries’ legal systems toward civil punitive damages and late-term abortions, which U.S. law often permits).

The very international “human rights” lawyers who insist that “hate speech” should be curbed are often radicals who are blind to certain forms of prejudice. A classic example of this is the disturbing Richard Falk, recently appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate Israel. Falk, a liberal Princeton professor emeritus, has likened Israel to the Nazis, praised the Ayatollah Khomeini (the Iranian dictator whose regime ordered the killings and torture of many religious and ethnic minorities in Iran), and promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories that accuse the U.S. government of complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Falk’s wackiness may offend the general public and Israel, which plans to bar him from coming to Israel, but it apparently does not offend lawyers and state judges very much: it did not stop the Washington State Supreme Court from citing his advocacy of affirmative action to uphold a discriminatory, gender-based affirmative-action set-aside in public contracting, in Southwest Wash. Chapter v. Pierce County, 667 P.2d 1092 (1983).


British women aged 25 are now more likely to have a child than a husband

Not very good for the kids in most cases

WOMEN aged 25 are now more likely to have had a child than to be married. The latest landmark in the decline of marriage was uncovered yesterday in Social Trends, the annual snapshot of the nation by the Office for National Statistics. Before this decade, most women in their 20s had married before having children. In the 1970s nearly 80 per cent of women were married by the age of 25, compared with 25 per cent now. About 50 per cent of 25-year-old females in the late 1970s had had a child, compared with 30 per cent of the women questioned during this decade.

The ONS report also showed that the number of people getting married has dropped to its lowest level since 1895. Only 237,000 marriages took place in England and Wales in 2006 and the proportion of people who marry is now lower than when the rate was first calculated in 1862.

Both men and women are leaving marriage until later in life, with the average age of a man marrying for the first time rising from 29 ten years ago to 32 in 2006. For women, the average age of marriage has also increased from 27 to just under 30 - 29.7 - over the past ten years. The biggest decrease in the numbers marrying was among those aged between 20 and 24, which has fallen from almost a fifth of all marriages to 11 per cent in ten years.

The report also showed that many women are delaying starting a family until they are older. In 1971 the average age for a woman to have her first child was just under 24. In 2007 it was 27.5. However, women who are not married are more likely to have a child younger: the average age for an unmarried woman in Britain to give birth was 27 in 2007, compared with 31.5 for married mothers.

The survey also noted a significant increase in the number of people living on their own, which has doubled since 1971. Nearly seven million people, 12 per cent of adults, live on their own, with the largest increase among adults of working age. One quarter of households in Great Britain in 2008 consisted of couples who did not have children - a 6 per cent increase since 1971, when the figure was 19 per cent.

The survey also showed that the number of pensioners [social security recipients] outnumbered the number of children under 16 for the first time in 2007. There has been a threefold increase in the number of people aged 90 and above since 1971, with the number now approaching 500,000. The expected increase in the number of pensioners is also potentially worrying for healthcare providers and social services: the report showed that council spending on older people rose from pounds 4.5 billion in 1997 to pounds 8.66 billion in 2007, the largest expenditure on any one group.

The survey of key events in women's lives before they turned 25 was carried out between 2001 and 2003, and asked women under 60 if they had been married or had a child by the time they were aged 25.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, April 17, 2009

EU Parliament Removes Religious Exemption: Churches Could be Forced to Perform Same-Sex "Marriages"

The attack on Christianity continues under the guise of "tolerance"

Changes made this month in the EU Anti-Discrimination Directive could force Christian and other religious groups to perform homosexual "marriages" and allow non-believers to receive Communion and other sacraments in their churches.

The directive was adopted by the EU Parliament on April 2nd, by 360 votes in favor and 227 votes against and will apply to all organizations offering a service to the public, including hospitals, charities, businesses and prisons, and churches. With the removal of exemptions for "organizations based on religion and belief," Christian groups, including the Church of England and the Catholic Education Service, have expressed concerns that conscience protections traditionally allowed under UK law will be abolished.

MEPs also altered the directive to ensure that "differences in treatment in access to educational institutions based on religion or belief" will not "represent an infringement of the right to education and does not justify discrimination on any other grounds."

The directive bans discrimination in the offering of goods and services and specifies "sexual orientation" as one of the grounds of outlawed discrimination. Similar legislation passed in Britain under the Tony Blair Labour government result in the closure of several Catholic adoption agencies after the government refused to allow a religious exemption.

In July 2008, the European Commission announced, "The law will prohibit direct and indirect discrimination as well as harassment and victimisation."

Critics have warned, however, that it could result in religious groups facing lawsuits for refusing to perform "marriage" ceremonies for same-sex partners. Christians have also argued that the law could prohibit them from refusing to give Communion or membership to non-Christians. It could also abolish policies in religious schools to give priority in admission to members of their own faith.

A spokesman for the Christian Institute, said, "UK discrimination law is already pretty extreme, as the forced closure of Roman Catholic adoption agencies shows. The Directive would make things even worse by transferring ultimate control of equality law to Brussels, beyond the control of our own Parliament."

Oona Stannard, chief executive of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, said that, "It feels as though the European Parliament is antagonistic to faith and fails to see the human rights dimension of faith."

Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP for South East England, also criticized the directive, saying, "As it stands, this legislation would not only threaten the status of faith schools, hospitals, adoption agencies and the like; it could also force political parties to hire ideological opponents or criminalise single sex institutions."

The Daily Telegraph editorialized on Saturday, "What is being attempted, under the guise of eliminating discrimination, is discrimination against Christians." Under the new concept of European "anti-discrimination" theories, which are contrary to British legal traditions, "legislation has closed Catholic adoption agencies, while a politically correct reign of terror is afflicting our workplaces." Christians face an "increasingly hostile environment" in Britain, said the paper.


The useless British police allow a woman to be killed

Immigrant stabbed wife to death after police refused help

A woman was stabbed to death by her husband in front of their two children hours after police had refused to escort her to a women’s refuge, a jury was told yesterday. Cassandra Hasanovic, 24, died in hospital after suffering wounds to her chest, back and buttocks. Hajrudin Hasanovic, 33, was about to be deported to his native Serbia when he dragged his English wife from her mother’s car and attacked her with a kitchen knife. He admits manslaughter on the ground of diminished responsibility but denies murder.

Lewes Crown Court was told that Mrs Hasanovic had just won a residence order for her children, Sam, 4, and Adam, 2, but she feared that her estranged husband was determined to kill her. Hours before the stabbing in July last year police had visited her at her home in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. She was “terrified” but they refused to drive her to a safe house, said Philippa McAtasney, QC, opening the case for the prosecution.

Instead, she got a lift from her mother. She was in the car and the doors were locked when Hasanovic began a “shocking, vicious and violent attack”. He tried to open the door, wrenching off the handle, and in the panic that ensued, Mrs Hasanovic’s mother accidentally deactivated the central locking. He then dragged his wife from the car and killed her. The jury at Lewes Crown Court was told that Hasanovic fled after telling his mother-in-law: “See what you have done. I just wanted one hour. See what you have done.”

Ms McAtasney said that he was a “paranoid and jealous” partner. The couple’s five-year marriage ended when he was charged with sexually assaulting her in May 2007. Mrs Hasanovic fled to Australia, where she hoped to be able to fight to keep her children living with her. But a court there insisted that she return to Britain and go through the British courts. Ms McAtasney said: “She obeyed the court order at the cost of her life.”

Police were called to a number of confrontations between the couple and gave her a panic alarm. At one court hearing for breaching a non-molestation order, Hasanovic was said to have approached his wife and told her: “You’re f***ing with the wrong person, you know that.”

On the day of the killing, Mrs Hasanovic made another statement to police and told them that she was going to a women’s refuge arranged by the local council. She asked for a police escort but was told that it was not possible.

Mr Hasanovic, of Southsea, Hampshire, was arrested after he dialled 999 and said: “I need the police, I’ve done something bad, I stabbed my ex-wife.” He told police that he had not intended to kill her.


BBC admits bias against Israel

The BBC’s Middle East editor breached the broadcaster’s rules on impartiality and accuracy in his coverage of conflict in the region, the corporation’s internal watchdog concluded today. Jeremy Bowen breached internal guidelines in an article posted on the BBC’s website and in a report on the Radio 4 programme From Our Own Correspondent, the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee ruled.

In a piece for the website written in 2007 explaining the historical significance of the Six-Day War in 1967, Bowen wrote of Israel's “defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own”. Although it rejected the majority of the complaints about inaccuracy, the committee said that with this and other comments the journalist had failed to use the “clear, precise language” needed when covering such a sensitive subject as the Middle East. Also finding that the article had breached impartiality rules, the trust said that Bowen had failed to acknowledge that there were views contrary to his own.

The committee said: “Readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war.”

In Bowen’s report for From Our Own Correspondent, on January 12 last year, he said that the US Government considered Har Homa, an Israeli settlement south of Jerusalem, to be illegal. The committee, however, said that claim breached accuracy rules because Bowen had failed to acknowledge that the information came from his own “authoritative source”, rather than official channels. It dismissed other complaints about accuracy and impartiality.

BBC journalists are subjected to some of the fiercest scrutiny of any media organisation in the world, and the corporation regularly receives complaints about its coverage of the Middle East, from both sides.

In January the corporation was attacked by supporters of the Palestinian cause after it refused to screen an appeal made by the Disasters Emergency Committee for aid to Gaza, citing impartiality concerns.

In 2006 The Thomas Report, an external examination of the corporation’s coverage of the conflict, found that there was no systematic or deliberate bias. The BBC is currently engaged in a High Court battle to try to stop the release of a similar internal document, The Balen Report, written in 2004 to examine the corporation’s coverage.


In turning against free speech, Western nations turn against their citizens

Jonathan Turley

For years, the Western world has listened aghast to stories from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations of citizens jailed or executed for questioning or offending Islam.

Even the most seemingly minor infractions elicit draconian punishments. Late last year, two Afghan journalists were sentenced to prison for blasphemy because they translated the Koran into a Farsi dialect that Afghans can read. In Jordan, a poet was arrested for incorporating Koranic verses into his work. And last week, an Egyptian court banned a magazine for running a similar poem.

But now an equally troubling trend is developing in the West. Ever since 2006, when Muslims worldwide rioted over newspaper cartoons picturing the prophet Muhammad, Western countries, too, have been prosecuting more individuals for criticising religion. The "Free World" may be losing faith in free speech.

Among the new blasphemers is the French actress Brigitte Bardot, convicted last June of "inciting religious hatred" for a letter she wrote in 2006 to the then interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that Muslims were ruining France. It was her fourth criminal citation for expressing intolerant views of Muslims and homosexuals. Other Western countries are also cracking down on religious critics.

Emblematic of the assault is the effort to pass an international ban on religious defamation, supported by the United Nations General Assembly President, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann. Brockmann is a suspended Roman Catholic priest who served as Nicaragua's foreign minister in the 1980s under the Sandinista regime, the socialist government that had a penchant for crushing civil liberties.

The UN resolution is backed by countries such as Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive nations when it comes to the free exercise of religion. Blasphemers there are frequently executed. Most recently, the Government arrested the author Hamoud Bin Saleh simply for writing about his conversion to Christianity.

While it hasn't supported the UN resolution, the West is prosecuting "religious hatred" cases under anti-discrimination and hate-crime laws. British citizens can be arrested and prosecuted under the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which makes it a crime to "abuse" religion.

In 2008, a 15-year-old boy was arrested for holding up a sign reading "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" outside the organisation's London headquarters.

This year, the British police warned that insulting Scientology would be treated as a crime.

The subjects of such prosecutions are often anti-religious - especially anti-Muslim - and intolerant. Consider the far-right Austrian legislator Susanne Winter. She recently denounced Muhammad as a pedophile for his marriage to six-year-old Aisha, which was consummated when she was nine.

Winter also suggested that Muslim men should commit bestiality rather than have sex with children. Under an Austrian law criminalising "degradation of religious doctrines," she was fined €24,000 ($44,000) and given a three-month suspended prison term.

But it is the speech, not the speaker, that's at issue. As insulting and misinformed as views like hers may be, free speech is not limited to non-offensive subjects. The purpose of free speech is to be able to challenge widely held views. Yet there is a stream of cases similar to Winter's coming from various countries.

In May 2008, Dutch prosecutors arrested the cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot over a cartoon that caricatured a Christian fundamentalist and a Muslim fundamentalist as zombies who meet at an anti-gay rally and want to marry.

Last September, Italian prosecutors investigated the comedian Sabina Guzzanti for joking about Pope Benedict XVI: "In 20 years, [he] will be dead and will end up in hell, tormented by queer demons, and very active ones."

In February, Rowan Laxton, an aide to the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was arrested for "inciting religious hatred" when, watching news reports of Israel's bombardment of Gaza while exercising at his gym, he allegedly shouted obscenities about Israelis and Jews. Also in February, Britain barred the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders from entry because of his film Fitna, which described the Koran as a "fascist" book and Islam as a violent religion.

In India, the editor and publisher of The Statesman was arrested for printing an article by the British journalist Johann Hari in which he wrote: "I don't respect the idea that we should follow a 'Prophet' who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year-old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him."

History has shown that once governments begin to police speech, they find ever more of it to combat. Not only does this trend threaten free speech, freedom of association and a free press, it undermines free exercise of religion. Countries such as Saudi Arabia don't prosecute blasphemers to protect the exercise of all religions but to protect one religion.

Western ideals are based on the premise that free speech contains its own protection: good speech ultimately prevails over bad. There's no blasphemy among free nations, only orthodoxy and those who seek to challenge 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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Anti-Semitism on the march among the British Left

The heading I have put above on this article is not the original but it is accurate. The original heading was: "Pox Britannica. English anti-Semitism on the march". It was written by Howard Jacobson and appeared in "The New Republic". It was illustrated by a picture of a City gent (i.e. a man in a Bowler hat) with a Hitler moustache. And I am perfectly confident from what I read elsewhere that much of what Jacobson describes below is accurate. What he failed to mention directly (but can be seen in the sources quoted) is that the phenomena described occur almost exclusively on the British Left -- joined by some Muslims on occasions. Maybe his own narrow social circle makes the author believe that the Left intelligentsia is the whole of England. It is not. The cartoonist's implication that City gents (financial district workers) are the source of the antisemitism really is ludicrous.

The failure to mention the Leftist culpability is more or less to be expected from where the article was published -- the ludicrous and Left-leaning "New Republic". I can find nowhere on their site anything about their editor these days but last I heard "TNR" was edited by young Franklin (now "Frank") Foer. Has "Frank" ever apologized for the blatant and thoroughly discredited lies he published about the troops in Iraq? Nope. He just ducked and weaved. Still, it is interesting to hear about Leftist antisemitism from a Leftist source

'England's made a Jew of me in only eight weeks," says Nathan Zuckerman on the last page of Philip Roth's The Counterlife. It is not meant to be a compliment. What makes a Jew of Zuckerman is the "strong sense of difference" the English induce in him, a "latent and pervasive" anti-Semitism, rarely rampantly expressed except for a "peculiarly immoderate, un-English-like Israel-loathing."

At the time--The Counterlife was published in England in 1987--Zuckerman's account of Anglo-Jewish relations struck an English-born Jew like me as a mite thin-skinned. It was possible that an American Jew detected what we did not, but more likely that he detected what was not there. Whatever the truth of it, a comfortable existence was better served by assuming the latter. We all had our own tales of anti-Semitism to tell--my grandmother's headstone, for example, had just been defaced with a swastika in a skinhead raid on a Jewish cemetery in Manchester--but mainly they were isolated, low-level acts of idle vandalism or reflexes of minor intolerance, more comic than alarming, and not personal, however you viewed them. Apart, that is, from the Israel-loathing, but then that wasn't--was it?--to be confused with anti-Semitism.

Twenty years on, it is difficult to imagine Nathan Zuckerman lasting eight days in England, let alone eight weeks. There is something in the air here, something you can smell, but also, in a number of cases, something more immediately affronting to Jews. It is important not to exaggerate. Most English Jews walk safely through their streets, express themselves freely, enjoy the friendship of non-Jews, and feel no less confidently a part of English life than they ever have. Organizations monitoring anti-Jewish incidents in England have reported a dramatic increase after Gaza: the daubing of slogans such as "kill the jews" on walls and bus shelters in Jewish neighborhoods, abuse of Jewish children on school playgrounds, arson attacks on synagogues, physical assaults on Jews conspicuous by their yarmulkes or shtreimels. But, while these incidents ought not to be treated blithely, they are still exceptional occurrences.

And yet, in the tone of the debate, in the spirit of the national conversation about Israel, in the slow seepage of familiar anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation--there, it seems to me, one can find growing reason for English Jews to be concerned. Mindless acts of vandalism come and go; but what takes root in the intellectual life of a nation is harder to identify and remove. Was it anti-Semitic of the Labour politician Tam Dalyell to talk of Jewish advisers excessively influencing Tony Blair's foreign policy? Was it anti-Semitic of the Liberal Democrat Baroness Tonge to refer to the "financial grips" that the pro-Israel lobby exerts on the world? Such allusions to a pro-Israel conspiracy of influence and wealth, usually accompanied by protestations of innocence in regard to Jews themselves--"I am sick of being accused of anti-Semitism," Baroness Tonge has said, "when what I am doing is criticizing Israel"--have become the commonplaces of anti-Israel discourse in the years since Philip Roth wrote The Counterlife. And, whatever their intention, their gradual effect has been to normalize, under cover of criticism of Israel, assumptions that 50 years ago would have been exclusively the property of overt Jew-haters. The peculiarly immoderate Israel-loathing that Roth remarked upon in 1987 is now a deranged revulsion, intemperate and unconcealed, which nothing Israel itself has done could justify or explain were it ten times the barbaric apartheid state it figures as in the English imagination.

Demonstrators against Israel's operation in Gaza carried placards demanding an end to the "massacre" and the "slaughter." There was no contesting this rhetoric of wanton destruction versus helpless innocence. Hamas rockets counted for nothing, Hamas's record of endangering its own civilian population counted for nothing, Amnesty reports were cited when they incriminated Israel but ignored when they incriminated others. Whatever was not massacre was not news, nor was it germane. The distinguished British film director Ken Loach dismissed a report on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe as designed merely to "distract attention" from Israel's military crimes. An increase in anti-Semitism is "perfectly understandable," Loach said, "because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism." Scrupulously refusing the Holocaust-Gaza analogy, Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent a few weeks ago, nonetheless argued that "a Palestinian woman and her child are as worthy of life as a Jewish woman and her child on the back of a lorry in Auschwitz"--at a stroke reinstating the analogy while implying that Jews need to be reminded that not only Jewish lives are precious. And a columnist for the populist newspaper The Daily Mirror has taken this imputation of callousness a stage further, writing of the "1,314 dead Palestinians temporarily sat[ing] Tel Aviv's bloodlust."

Coincidentally, or not, a ten-minute play by Caryl Churchill--accusing Jews of the same addiction to blood-spilling--has recently enjoyed a two-week run at the Royal Court Theatre in London and three performances at Dublin's Abbey Theatre. Seven Jewish Children declares itself to be a fund-raiser for Gazans. Anyone can produce it without paying its author a fee, so long as the seats are free and there is a collection for the beleaguered population of Gaza after the performance.

Think of it as 1960s agitprop--the buckets await you in the foyer and you make your contribution or you don't--and it is no more than the persuaded speaking to the persuaded. But propaganda turns sinister when it pretends to be art. Offering insight into how Jews have got to this murderous pass--the answer is the Holocaust: we do to others what others did to us--Seven Jewish Children finishes almost before it begins in a grotesque tableau of blood-soaked triumphalism: Jews reveling in the deaths of Palestinians, laughing at dying Palestinian policemen, rejoicing in the slaughter of Palestinian babies.

Churchill has expressed surprise that anyone should accuse her of invoking the blood libel, but, even if one takes her surprise at face value, it only demonstrates how unquestioningly integral to English leftist thinking the bloodlust of the Israeli has become. Add to this Churchill's decision to have her murder-mad Israelis justify their actions in the name of "the chosen people"--as though any Jew ever yet interpreted the burden of "chosenness" as an injunction to kill--and we are back on old and terrifying territory. And this not in the brute hinterland of English life, where swastikas are drawn the wrong way round and "Jew" is not always spelled correctly, but at the highest level of English culture.

Again it is important not to exaggerate. Seven Jewish Children has not by any means received universal acclaim. Parodies of it seem to turn up on the Internet almost every day. But there is no postulate so far-fetched that it can't smuggle itself into even the best newspapers as truth. The eminent Guardian theater critic Michael Billington, for example, took Churchill's words in the spirit in which they were uttered, believing that she "shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the 'otherness' of Palestinians." Jewish children, note. But then it's Jewish children whom Caryl Churchill paints as brainwashed into barbarity. Without, I believe, any intention to speak ill of Jews, and innocently deaf to the odiousness of the word "bred" in this context, Billington demonstrates how easily language can sleepwalk us into bigotry.

The premise of Seven Jewish Children is a fine piece of fashionable psychobabble that understands Zionism as the collective nervous breakdown of the Jewish people; instead of learning the humanizing lesson of the Holocaust--whatever that might be, and whatever the even greater obligation on non-Jews to learn it too--Jews vent their instability on the Palestinians in imitation of what the Nazis vented on them. This is a theory that assumes what it offers to prove, namely how like Nazis Israelis have become. Furthermore, it dispossesses Jews of their own history, turning the Holocaust into a sort of retrospective retribution, Jews being made to pay the price then for what Israelis are doing now. Clearly, this exists at a more extreme end of the continuum of willed forgetting than Holocaust denial itself, its ultimate object being to break the Jew-Holocaust nexus altogether. Let us no longer deny the Holocaust, let us rather redistribute the pity. If there is a victim of the Holocaust today, it is the people of Gaza.

Given how hard it is to distinguish Jew from Israeli in all this, the mantra "It is not anti-Semitic to be critical of Israel" looks increasingly disingenuous. But there is no challenging it, not even with such eminently reasonable responses as, "That surely depends on the criticism," or "Calling into question an entire nation's right to exist is not exactly 'criticism.'" Nor is the distinction between Israeli and Jew much respected where the graffitists and the baby bullies of the schoolyard do their work. But, in the end, it is frankly immaterial how much of this is Jewhating or not. The inordinacy of English Israel-loathing--ascribing to a country the same disproportionate responsibility for the world's ills that was once ascribed to a people--is toxic enough in itself. The language of extremism has a malarious dynamic of its own, passing effortlessly from the mischievous to the unwary, and from there into the bloodstream of society. And that's what one can smell here. Infection.


Beyond Terrorism

The Islamist threat is worse than you think


‘Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” This is the battle cry of Hizb al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin, Egypt’s notorious Muslim Brotherhood, the intellectual font of Sunni Islamic radicalism for nearly a century. And that should give us pause.

Unlike al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other terror networks, the Brotherhood purports to forswear violence — convincingly so, according to foreign-policy solons who urge U.S. diplomatic engagement with the group. The Brotherhood, they say, is mainstream and moderate. It is the Brotherhood, not the repressive Mubarak regime, that grips the mantle of democracy, pining for free elections. The political process, not terrorism, is the Brotherhood’s chosen path for achieving its ends. So the organization’s American fan club insists, blithely gliding by what those decidedly immoderate ends entail. Thus, the enormity of the motto: The Brotherhood may have abandoned violence (at least its direct execution by Brotherhood operatives), but it has never forsworn jihad. For the Brothers, jihad is still “our way,” and “dying in the way of Allah” — the martyrdom glorified by Islam’s prophet — remains “our highest hope.”

To speak of jihad without brutality seems contradictory. But it is not — though the explanation for this differs markedly from the benign rationale offered by Muslim revisionists. They claim the Islamic obligation of jihad (which literally means “struggle”) is not about violence or “holy war.” In their fable, the “greater” jihad has always been the Muslim’s struggle to live a virtuous life, and the term’s bellicose connotation is no more meaningful than commonplace calls to metaphorical “war” — against drugs, poverty, tobacco, and the like. They acknowledge a “lesser jihad,” a violent vestige of Islam’s history, but claim it is relevant in modern times only when Muslims are under siege.

This smiley-face jihad remains unconvincing. Bernard Lewis, the West’s preeminent scholar of Islam, points out that “the overwhelming majority of early authorities, . . . citing relevant passages in the Qur’an and in the tradition, discuss jihad in military terms.” Moreover, the encyclopaedic Dictionary of Islam, first published by the British missionary Thomas Patrick Hughes in 1886, defines jihad as “a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.” So entrenched is jihad’s nexus with violence that forthright Islamophiles concede it. In The Age of Sacred Terror, for example, former Clinton officials Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon claim that a “domestication of jihad” has transformed it into an “internal battle” for personal betterment waged through “acts of charity, good works in society, and education.” Still, they ruefully attest that jihad grew up as “exclusively actual, physical warfare,” and that the “domestication” they perceive is a “modern-day” contrivance.

So if jihad and violence are joined at the hip, how can the Brotherhood, self-proclaimed jihadists, abandon violence? The same way a fierce army captures territory without firing a single shot, or the Mafia collects usurious loans while busting only the occasional kneecap. The answer, very simply, is extortion, combined with a shrewd appreciation of the ground a timid, multi-culti West may be only too willing to cede.

We’re not so shrewd. It has been 30 years since the Khomeinist revolution in Iran and 16 since jihadists declared all-out war on the United States by bombing the World Trade Center. Yet we still understand precious little about radical Islam and the threat this enemy portends. It is a conscious avoidance. Knowledge is power, but it also entails a responsibility to confront the dangers of which one becomes aware. The purpose of jihad is not violence for its own sake; it is to pave the way for the imposition of sharia, the Muslim legal code and the necessary precondition for building an Islamic state and society. That is a danger we simply don’t want to deal with: It would require facing up to the brute fact that such a state would be antithetical to American democracy.

Thus, we avert our eyes from our enemies’ goal and fail to recognize both who our enemies are and why the accommodations they demand, some of which seem harmless enough on the surface, should be opposed. Our national-security policy obsesses over means — in particular one tactic, terrorism — while ignoring the end the means seek to accomplish. Because America is a beacon of religious freedom, we’ve limited our focus to operatives who plot and execute acts of terror; the ideology fueling this savagery is not our concern — lest we betray our first principles and smear every Muslim as a terrorist.

This disposition is suicidal, for at least three reasons. First, Islam is not merely a religion. It is a comprehensive socio-economic and political system, which believers take to be ordained by Allah, its elements compulsory and non-negotiable. While those elements include tenets we would regard as a religious creed, these tenets constitute only a fraction of the overarching Islamic project. They’re also not easily distinguished because Islam does not separate mosque and state. When we blinker ourselves to Islamic ideology, in deference to the principle of rendering unto God what is God’s, we ignore a great deal of what, in American society, is to be rendered unto Caesar.

Second, speaking of “Islam” as if there were only one Muslim belief system is a gross oversimplification. Our Manichean public discourse invokes a “true” Islam, distinct from what simply must be the “false” Islam of the terrorists. U.S. officials gush about a monolithic “religion of peace,” while British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith brands terrorism “un-Islamic activity” merely by dint of its being terrorism. But despite the good intentions of “true Islam” dabblers — whose influence among Muslims pales beside that of fundamentalist clerics who’ve studied Islamic jurisprudence for decades — there is not a single Islam. There are many. They have a common core, but numerous interpretations are legitimately identifiable as “Islam.” When we speak of a “true” or “false” Islam, we are speaking nonsense. This shortchanges our understanding of the Muslim world and our influence on it.

What’s more, a counterterrorism strategy premised on delegitimizing as “anti-Islamic” the fundamentalist strains that practice violence is doomed to fail. Though we find them unsavory, these strains boast a rich pedigree, lie squarely within the tradition of Mohammed, and are supported by centuries of scholarship rooted in the literal commands of scripture. To pose a conservative estimate, their adherents number in the tens of millions when we account for both the small percentage of Muslims willing to take up arms and the far larger number who support forcible action (or at least its goals) even though they would not commit terrorist acts themselves. Pretending they represent a bare fringe has left us blind and vulnerable.

Third, means can’t be separated from ends without confusing both. On a gut level, policymakers may understand that jihad is not an end unto itself, but they won’t grapple with the actual end, namely, to establish a Muslim state. Thus they miss the threat and erroneously focus on only one of the jihadist’s means, violence, thinking that to end the violence would be to end radical Islam’s threat to our way of life. By contrast, Islam’s apologists actually do appreciate that jihad is merely a means to something transcendent, but because they refuse to accept jihad’s violent roots, they overlook its corporate nature. Mired in what Judge Robert Bork describes as modern liberalism’s radical individualism, they miss — or refuse to see — that Islam is not predominantly about the individual. It is about the ummah, the Muslim nation, establishing and spreading Allah’s law on earth. It is not about becoming a better person by doing good deeds, but becoming a better Muslim by submitting to this divine cause (the word Islam means “submission”). Jihad is shorthand for jihad fi sabil Allah: to struggle in the cause of Allah. The Dictionary of Islam elaborates that it was established as “a divine institution” for the specific “purpose of advancing Islam” — the belief system, not the individual Muslim. That is the end to which the jihadist dedicates himself: to advance Islam. The purpose of jihad is not to blow up buildings and kill infidels. Its purpose is to institute sharia.

Here, it is necessary to address some sleight-of-hand. The Koran contains many an ode to tolerance, most of which are from Mohammed’s early Meccan period, when he was seeking to recruit converts to the new religion. Many such benign injunctions were abrogated by the contrary, brutalizing verses of the later Medinan period, when the warrior prophet spread Islam principally by the sword. That inconvenient fact is ignored by the “religion of peace” crowd, whose unparalleled favorite scripture is Sura 2:256, the instruction that there shall be “no compulsion in religion.” On the basis of this directive, they argue, à la Jacqui Smith, that jihadist violence must be anti-Islamic.

Au contraire. While militants would surely be delighted if, say, the destruction of the Twin Towers induced everyone to convert, that is not the direct goal of jihadist activity — violent or not. The goal is to induce each targeted jurisdiction to adopt sharia. The Muslim Brotherhood’s chief theoretician, Sayyid Qutb, explained that forcible jihad proceeds whenever Islam is obstructed by “the political system of the state, the socio-economic system based on races and classes, and behind all these, the military power of the government.” This system is then supplanted by Islamic law. At that point, Islam can be “addressed to peoples’ hearts and minds,” purportedly without compulsion, “and they are free to accept or reject it with an open mind.”

Jihad is not trying to convert you; it is seeking the imposition of Allah’s law. That law happens to be antithetical to bedrock American principles: It establishes a state religion, rejects the freedom of citizens to govern themselves irrespective of a religious code, proscribes freedom of conscience, proscribes economic freedom, destroys the principle of equality under the law, subjugates non-Muslims in the humiliation of dhimmitude, and calls for the execution of homosexuals and apostates. Nevertheless, its adoption produces what Islamists portray as the non-coercive environment in which people then “freely” embrace Islam.

That environment is achieved by violence only if violence is necessary. Naturally, the term jihad is drenched in gore: Its proponents understood violence would often be necessary to induce adoption of fundamentalist Islam’s authoritarian system. But the jihadist needn’t savage his targets if Islam can be advanced without a fight. An invading army does not go home if the locals surrender. It pushes forward, adding to its domain until it meets real resistance — at which point it promptly deems itself under siege and gets back to all that “lesser” jihad.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been nothing short of masterful in implementing this jihadist strategy. It is the nerve center, with tentacles spread throughout the world. For example, Hamas — which purports not to do terrorism either, just “resistance” — is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian arm, and the Ikhwan rudiments of al-Qaeda, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other Sunni terror groups are well documented. But the majority of Brotherhood branches, like the ones in Syria and Jordan, are ostensibly political and cultural enterprises. In Europe, terrorism analyst Lorenzo Vidino notes that Brotherhood constituents joined forces in 1996 to create the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations, a Brussels-based “network of 42 national and international organizations bringing together youth from over 26 different countries.” Here in the U.S., jihadism expert Steven Emerson observes that “nearly all prominent Islamic organizations . . . are rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Their collective game plan is announced for all who care to see on the Brotherhood’s website. They seek “the introduction of the Islamic Shariah as the basis for controlling the affairs of state and society.” In 2007, the organization’s platform called for “spreading and deepening the true concepts of Islam as a complete methodology that regulates all aspects of life.” Even more telling, though, is an internal 1991 Brotherhood memorandum made public by the Justice Department during its recent prosecution of an ostensible charity, the Holy Land Foundation, for underwriting terrorism. It states: “The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Jihad Watch founder Robert Spencer has aptly labeled this strategy “stealth jihad.” It is working. It would not be accurate to say radical Islam is infiltrating American institutions without firing a shot. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. We’ve had plenty of it, and the specter of additional savagery greases the skids for more subtle forms of extortion. Unquestionably, this vulnerability is exacerbated by the multiculturalist bent of institutions dominated by the Left — the academy, the media, and, increasingly, government. Nonetheless, when droves of Muslims riot over cartoon depictions of the prophet, a schoolteacher’s innocuous choice of “Mohammed” as nickname for the class teddy bear, or false reports of Koran defilement at Guantanamo Bay, conditions are ever more ripe for the grievance-mongers to seize the advantage.

In rationalizing that the only real problem is terrorism, our government promotes the project behind the violence by embracing Muslim leaders, no matter how radical they are, as long as they are not currently in the act of terrorizing. In 2005, for example, Alberto Fernandez, then the State Department’s director of public diplomacy in the Middle East, praised the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, as an “intelligent and thoughtful voice from the region,” a “respected scholar . . . worthy of the deepest respect” and “deserv[ing of] our attention.” Then as now, Qaradawi had been banned from the U.S. for promoting terrorism. Yet Fernandez chirped that Qaradawi’s role was “for the Muslim ummah to decide.” And so it did: rioting over the Danish cartoons and taking up arms against the “occupiers” in Iraq, just like he told them to.

To win fundamentalist support for its democracy-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration helped write new constitutions that not only established Islam as the state religion but installed sharia as a primary source of law — a move that the State Department, far from being embarrassed by, called attention to as part of its energetic Muslim “outreach.” Embarrassment didn’t settle in until later, when, to the surprise of absolutely no one who troubles himself to learn about sharia, an Afghan court attempted to sentence to death, for the “crime” of apostasy, a Christian who’d converted from Islam years earlier. (The defendant was finally whisked to safety, in a non-Muslim country.) Similarly, in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, much admired by the administration for his support of democratic elections, issued a fatwa calling for the murder of all homosexuals.

The mainstreaming of sharia — under the delusion that it is perfectly harmonious with Western democracy and culture — is picking up steam here at home. Minnesota, with its huge influx of Somali immigrants sowing Muslim enclaves, is a harbinger of things to come. The state was the site of the infamous 2006 “flying imams” incident, in which six Muslim clerics were thrown off a flight after allegedly intimidating passengers and crew by aping the behavior of the 9/11 hijackers. They complained and filed a lawsuit with the assistance of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — a Brotherhood-rooted organization whose communications director has advocated the conversion of the U.S. into a sharia state (and some of whose members have been implicated in terrorism investigations). Our craven federal government reacted by subjecting 45,000 airport-security officers to Islamic sensitivity training. On its website, the Department of Homeland Security published a CAIR press release, which brayed about the fact that CAIR was regularly asked to advise DHS agencies on matters of Islamic culture. Remarkably, even as DHS and the FBI were “partnering” with CAIR, the Justice Department was citing the “civil rights” organization as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case.

In Minneapolis, cab drivers began refusing to ferry airport passengers believed to be carrying alcohol. Rather than revoking licenses, state authorities opted to consult the Muslim American Society, perhaps the Brotherhood’s principal American arm. Afterwards, the cabbies were cajoled into providing service — not because their discriminatory practice was wrong but on the (dubious) theory that sharia was not actually violated if alcohol was only transported, not consumed.

Minnesota schools are also in the jihad’s sights. A graduate education student was ousted from a high school last year while doing course-required field work. Prone to seizures, the student required the assistance of a specially trained dog. Sharia, however, pronounces canines unclean and prohibits touching them. The Muslim teens threatened to kill the dog. When the student complained, his university shamefully capitulated, awarding him credit without the requisite course-work. An official rationalized that it was “important to respect different cultures” and that the accommodation was simply “part of the growth process when we become more diverse.”

“Accommodation,” meanwhile, may have reached a new level regarding Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) in Inner Grove Heights, Minn.: taxpayer funding for what appears to be a madrassa camouflaged as a charter school. TIZA is sponsored by an entity called “Islamic Relief,” and its executive director is a Muslim imam. It is housed in the headquarters of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (the declared mission of which is “establishing Islam in Minnesota”), in a building that also contains a mosque. Students pray daily, eat halal meals, and attend “Islamic studies” courses — officially, after the close of the regular school day, but witness accounts suggest it is more like a staple of the regular workload.

And that’s not all Minnesotans are funding. The state has recently taken to facilitating “Muslim mortgages.” Sharia does not permit interest to be assessed in financial transactions. One might think that’s not a government’s problem — but Minnesota now buys homes from willing sellers and then resells them to Muslim buyers in transactions that disguise interest by higher costs and fees. That is, American taxpayer dollars are employed to promote conformance with Islamic law.

It is but one aspect of a burgeoning national field known as “sharia-compliant finance.” Strapped American financial institutions, anxious to tap the liquidity available in oil-producing Muslim nations, are encouraged to structure financial transactions that factor in interest payments without calling them that. The interest might, for example, be siphoned off to pay zakat, the Islamic obligation of charitable giving, with the arrangement blessed by an advisory board composed of experts in Islamic law. This is problematic on multiple levels: Many charities have proven to be fronts for terrorist organizations; the banks’ sharia advisers may be fundamentalists who steer business to suspect charities; and, most important, the upshot of sharia compliance is to validate — to regularize in our financial system — a legal code with significant anti-American, anti-capitalist features.

Minnesota is a telling ripple from a growing wave. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, comprising 57 nations (not to mention the “State of Palestine”), is lobbying in the U.N. for a revised declaration of human rights that would make criticism of Islam a violation of international law. Muslim activists have succeeded in enacting hate-speech laws and speech codes throughout Europe and Canada that criminalize and create civil liability for criticism of Islam. British courts are home to the noxious practice known as “libel tourism,” permitting defamation suits against American journalists and academics who write about Saudi society’s promotion of radical Islam — suits that would instantly be dismissed under American law.

And where Western governments cannot directly forbid examination of radical Islamic ideology, they are using their muscle to suppress it. In February, Geert Wilders, a Dutch legislator, was barred from entering Britain by Jacqui Smith’s Home Office, despite having been invited by a member of the House of Lords to screen his controversial film, Fitna, which highlights the well-established connection between Koranic preaching and jihadist terror. The same Labour government that has demanded the return to Britain of numerous terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay refused admission to an official of a fellow EU government due to fear of offending Muslims.

Last year, the Homeland Security Department, after consulting with what it described as a “wide variety of Muslim American leaders” whom it otherwise declined to identify, issued language guidance for the government: an attempt to purge our public discourse of terms like “Islamofascism” and, of course, “jihad.” Fastening their rose-tinted glasses, DHS experts explained the premise of the guidance: “Many so-called ‘Islamic’ terrorist groups [so-called?] twist and exploit the tenets of Islam to justify violence.” Exploit, sure, but twist? To justify jihadist violence, how much does one need to “twist” such scriptures as (to take just one of many possible examples) Sura 9:123: “O ye who believe, fight those of the disbelievers who are near you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him”?

The Muslim Public Affairs Council took time out from its campaign to have Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad removed from the government’s roster of formally designated terrorist organizations to congratulate DHS on the new guidance and pat itself on the back for both its “regular . . . engagement with government agencies including [DHS]” and its long advocacy of a “nuanced approach” that stresses “the importance of decoupling Islam with [sic] terrorism.”

MPAC has a point. The problem isn’t just terrorism. Not by a long shot. The problem is that radical Islam, by lawfare and intimidation as well as by terror, is working assiduously to validate and ultimately establish its legal code in the U.S. and throughout the West.

All of this can be reversed. American law need not embrace sharia. Our system guarantees only freedom of conscience — to believe what one chooses to believe — not a right to have those beliefs accommodated, adopted, or imposed. Regulations codifying sharia can be undone. It is unlikely, short of another terrorist attack, that Congress would revisit the 1990 Immigration Act, which, at the behest of leftist Democrats, effectively gutted ideology-based exclusions of aliens committed to the eradication of American constitutional democracy. Still, though such a reconsideration would be welcome, there is no reason, in the meantime, for U.S. government agencies to be “partnering” with Islamic groups that take their cues from the Muslim Brotherhood. Those organizations are radical, and mean our society mortal harm, even if they’re not blowing up buildings. The main challenge today is not protecting the buildings; it’s protecting ourselves from what’s going on inside the buildings.


Think Again: Esau and Ishmael allied

Jewish eschatology contains numerous references to an alliance between Esau (Rome, the West) and his father-in-law Ishmael (Islam) against the Jewish people toward the end of history. Frankly, I've always had a hard time imaging such an alliance between clashing civilizations. Perhaps my mistake lay in imagining a sort of updated Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

What we are witnessing instead today is Western appeasement and submission to Islam. In both the United States and Western Europe an effective double-standard has been carved out for Islam. Scorn for traditional religions and their adherents is fine, even praiseworthy, as long as it is confined to Judaism or Christianity. But toward Islam, we must show respect.

The lesson that Europeans learned from the Danish cartoons episode was that it is not wise to rile Muslims. Noting Islam's unlovely propensity for producing adherents eager to kill in its name inevitably triggers murderous riots that prove the point being protested.

Britain's recent refusal to permit Dutch parliamentarian Geerts Wilder into the country and the criminal prosecution against him in his own country provide a classic example of anticipatory compliance. The fear that showing of Wilder's movie Fitna, consisting primarily of quotes from the Koran, to a group of British parliamentarians would trigger riots trumped traditional Anglo-Saxon support for freedom of thought and argument.

THE WEST'S astounding passivity in the face of Iran's racing nuclear program is the most consequential form of appeasement. In three months in office, the Obama administration's sole initiative on the Iranian front has been a video from President Barack Obama full of paeans to the great Persian culture, for which he received mostly spittle in return.

By contrast, the administration has been hyperactive on the Palestinian-Israeli front. The president's first foreign policy initiative was to appoint a special Mideast envoy, who has already visited the region several times. The president and his secretary of state constantly stress the urgency of the "two-state solution" and the unsustainability of the status quo. The Arab-Israeli conflict, we keep hearing from Washington, holds the key to all Middle East conundrums.

That inversion of priorities makes no logical sense. The possession of nuclear weapons by an ideologically expansionist power sitting atop or adjacent to a large percentage of the world's oil supply and serving as a patron of terrorist groups around the world would permanently change the world in ways too painful to contemplate. Sunni leaders know this and repeatedly told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Iran constitutes a far bigger threat to regional stability than Israel.

On the other hand, an imposed "two-state solution" would change little in the Middle East. Arab countries would continue to be plagued by high rates of illiteracy, second-class citizenship for women, lack of scientific or technological training, and the absence of civil liberties even in the unlikely event of peace with the Palestinians. The only consequence of such a "solution," particularly if it left Israel uninhabitable after a Hamas takeover of the West Bank, would be to strengthen the narrative of Islamic ascendancy and whet the jihadist appetite.

Few propositions are so easily refuted as the centrality of the Arab-Israeli conflict to the multiple deformations in the Arab world. Not one of the major bloodlettings in the region is remotely attributable to Israel: the Iraq-Iran War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its aftermath, civil wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria, the slaughter of 20,000 Syrian citizens in Homa.

Finally, resolute Western action with respect to Iran might actually achieve something. Iran's economy is highly vulnerable, particularly with oil prices low. Yet rather than exploit Iran's economic weakness and lack of petroleum refining capacity, major European firms have signed billion dollar deals to lessen that vulnerability by helping Iran develop its refining capacity.

But there is scant hope of progress on the Palestinian front, particularly if peace, not just signed agreements, is the goal. "Moderate" Muhammad Dahlan, carefully cultivated by the United States for more than a decade, now admits that Fatah has never recognized Israel's right to exist. Hamas, for its part, repeats over and over again that it will never recognize Israel in any borders. The Palestinian Authority continues to honor as heroes perpetrators of massacres of Jewish civilians. Billions of dollars of international aid continues to go to maintaining multiple security forces and feathering the nests of Palestinian officials rather than building a decent society. And from an Israeli point of view, as long as rockets continue to fall from every area from which we withdraw, there is no chance of further withdrawals.

WESTERN SUBMISSION and passivity are only part of the story. Ever larger segments of elite and left-wing Western opinion have signed on to Hamas's exterminationist agenda. Comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany are so commonplace in European discourse that they no longer even shock. Oliphant's cartoon of a jackbooted Israel has now brought this obscenity to the mainstream American press.

Operation Cast Lead is said to have brought Israel's international standing to a new nadir. Responding to their accusers, Israelis ask: What other country in the world would have tolerated three years of rockets shot from across the border at its civilian population? How would you have brought those missiles to a halt in a more "gentle" fashion than Israel has? Why are you obsessed with the deaths of 300 civilians in Gaza brought about by the policies of their duly elected leaders (think of the civilian population of Germany under Hitler), but so oblivious to the killings of hundreds of thousands of black Muslims in Sudan?

Very good questions to be sure, and not ones to which there are any answers. But their effectiveness depends on the assumption that the one being asked accepts Israel's right to exist at all. Europeans view our very presence in this place as the last vestige of Western colonialism. On a tour of US college campuses, The Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh found more support for Hamas among non-Muslim professors and students than exists in Ramallah. "We should not be surprised," he wrote, "if the next generation of jihadists comes... from university campuses across the United States."



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Racist Brits awaiting free speech verdict in California

Amongst the many wabs, a couple of chinitos, and I'm sure more than a couple of gabachos currently in custody at the Santa Ana Jail are British nationals Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle. They haven't committed any crime in the United States but have nevertheless languished under the watchful eye of SanTana immigration guards for almost two years in a fascinating case involving free speech, international jurisdiction, Holocaust denial, and an American media that just doesn't give a damn about those topics.

Sheppard runs The Heretical Press, an online repository of far-right essays, photos, and just plain bizarre entries (don't they realize R. Crumb is being satirical when he publishes a comic titled "When the Niggers Take Over America"?), to which Whittle contributes. According to British reports, authorities raided Sheppard's flat in 2004 after a copy of his Tales of the Holohoax were found inside a synagogue. After discovering the contents of The Heretical, they arrested Sheppard and Whittle for distributing hate speech online.

If that's not Orwellian enough for you, refry this: Sheppard and Whittle claimed that British courts had no jurisdiction over The Heretical and its materials since its servers hum along in Torrance. But the Brits don't care.

Prosecutors didn't agree with their excuse, and convicted the two in January for publishing racist material online--the first conviction of its kind in the history of the United Kingdom. "People in this country are entitled to be racist and they are entitled to hold unpleasant points of view, but what they are not entitled to do is publish or distribute written material which is insulting, threatening or abusive and is intended to stir up racial hatred or is likely to do so," a prosecutor told the Yorkshire Post. "If this sort of material is made generally available on the internet or by pushing it through people's doors indiscriminately, it is likely that racial hatred will be stirred up in some people who are exposed to it - the young, the impressionable, the gullible, and so on."

British courts had to convict Sheppard and Whittle in absentia, however. In July 2007, the two skipped bail and made their way to LAX, where they promptly turned themselves over to authorities and asked for political asylum, claiming the British government was harrassing them for their "satire." Immigration officials hauled them to the Santa Ana Jail, which has a contract to help out the government with immigrant detainees. Read their case for asylum here.

"This is a test case for the US on whether the American court will protect anti-semites and those that incite the hate that leads to anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim violence, or whether it respects a British court decision and sends these people back for sentence," a Parliament member told the Post.

The fates of the Heretical Two is in the hands of Immigration Judge Rose Collantes Peters, who has a past of thumbing her nose at British courts. In 2004, she went against the wishes of the American government and ruled that la migra couldn't deport Sean O'Cealleagh, a bartender at O'Malley's in Seal Beach, for having been convicted in England for his role in the murder of two British soldiers during a 1988 Irish Republican Army funeral. This past Tuesday, Peters heard final arguments in the case of the Heretical Two, with Sheppard and Whittle acting as their own attorneys because the attorney originally recommended to them by Mark Weber of the Holocaust-denying Newport Beach-based Institute for Historical Review dropped out after not getting paid enough cash (according to The Heretical Press home page). Peters is expected to deliver her verdict within 30 days.

The saga of Sheppard and Whittle has drawn nary a press report in the United States, even though it involves all sorts of free-speech questions. But the Heretical Two have become far-right cause célebres, earning support from the aforementioned IHR, David Duke, and other types of trash.

Then again, supporters of the Heretical Two make this interesting point:

The question is not whether you like Sheppard and Whittle, or agree with their writings, or the other material posted on the Heretical site. It is, quite simply, whether you are prepared to help ensure the effective representation of two men seeking to set a vital precedent for genuine asylum seekers from oppressive, liberticidal regimes, seeking refuge in the world's last true free speech zone.


“Moderate Islam, Radical Islam”, and in Between

A year ago the first case of “bulldozer terrorism” unfolded in Jerusalem. This atrocity was carried out by a young Palestinian Muslim of East Jerusalem. He worked in Israel, lived there comfortably with his family and had no apparent quarrel with authorities. Thus, he would have been considered representative of “moderate Islam”. When this young Palestinian suddenly went on a rampage with his bulldozer, overturning buses hitting cars and passers-by, and as a consequence was gunned down by police and alert civilians, the media rushed to describe him as a representative of “radical Islam”. The use of a bulldozer as a weapon of terror was repeated twice more over the past year, with observers wondering what had turned Muslim quietism into Muslim terrorism. After three similar events, the families of these new terrorists set up large sheds sporting Hamas and Hizbullah banners outside their homes. This was in order to accommodate the large Muslim crowds who came, not with “condolences” but rather with “congratulations” for the “martyrdom” of their sons, Outpourings of jubilation in the Palestinian street for this carnage reflected the attitudes which had triggered it in the first place.

It is often claimed that the strict interpretation of Islam with its concomitant abuses, is only the purvey of “fanatic”, “radical”, “fundamentalist”, or “Islamist” Muslims. This is quantified at some 15% of the 1.5 billion world Muslims, as if it is a different faith, embracing different principles from those followed by the majority of rank-and-file Muslims.

In fact, we are talking about the same creed upholding Shari’a law to various degrees. Those who do not follow it to the letter, are not in fact, adepts of an alternative “moderate Islam”, the one described as the “religion of peace”, to distinguish it from the faith of aggressive “extremists”. The truth of the matter is that there is no moderate Islam though there are certainly many truly moderate Muslims who have broken away from the bloody road of Islamic Shari’a. These are usually the Muslims who have conveniently moved to the West, able from a safe distance, to criticise the phenomenon of the Islamikaze” bombers of Westerners and Israelis, the culture of death cultivated in many Islamic lands and indeed the unbridled anti-Semitic calumnies that are rife in their own culture. But they have yet to produce an alternate doctrine and worldview to rival official Islam or posit a creed and a set of rules to attract Muslims to relinquish Shari’a and embrace another way. If they did, they would no longer be Muslims according to Islam.

Moderate Muslims often accuse the radicals, of having “hijacked” Islam or “distorted or misinterpreted its “real” meaning. On the contrary, these radicals are, in fact, Muslims behaving in strict accordance with Shari’a, . The standards of the radicals, like the Jihad war or the strict implementation of the shar’ia, are those that prevail in the Islamic world. There are no accepted yardsticks for “moderate” Islam. One only has to watch the mass demonstrations in the streets of Gaza, Quetta, Casablanca, Durban and Jakarta, or in the Muslim neighborhoods of Paris, London, Marseille, Amsterdam, Sydney and Toronto, to realise how alive, universal and popular are the Muslim slogans and rampages, among Muslim masses of men, women, children, including lay leaders and clerics. Are they all “Islamists”? No, they are simply Muslims, and the common denominator which unites them in their hatred of the West and the Jews, is Islam, standard Islam, as justified by the Shari’a, as promoted by their Imams.

There will always be moderate and courageous Muslim individuals trying to save the honor of Islam, by raising their voices against the abuses perpetrated in the name of their faith. However the mainstream world of Islam, including westernized and modern professionals and intellectuals, will also always be there to glorify the killings of westerners and Jews, to write or broadcast, with exhilaration, about the Islamikaze, and to distribute sweets in the streets to “celebrate” the death of Americans or Israelis.

The non Muslim champions arguing for the spurious distinction between the so-called “islamist” minority and the “peaceful” Muslim majority, have become trapped by their reluctance to condemn Islam lest they be accused of Islamophobia or racism (as if Islam were a race). They explain to us that Islam has never been anti-Semitic, proof of their ignorance of Islamic sources, arguing that the current dislike of Jews is no more than a case of Judeophobia. It is a Judeophobia which has no historical roots, being rather a modern, circumstantial and fleeting phenomenon which does not warrant anxiety. If anti-Semitism is reduced to Judeophobia, it becomes a junior counterpart of Islamophobia, and a lesser evil than anti-Semitism, and therefore less objectionable. It is thus more “acceptable”, on par with “Islamophobia”, as a modern phenomenon in Western society. Generally speaking, they simplistically argue: “how can Muslims, or at least Arabs, themselves Semites, be Anti-Semitic?

It is a war of words, which has been engineered to obfuscate the substance and increase the currency of Muslim terminology, while at the same time depriving the Jews and their supporters of their traditional arsenal in the battle against anti-Semitism. Can anyone explain how the Qur’anic condemnation of Jews as “descendants of pigs and monkeys”, preached universally and routinely to Muslims (not Islamists) by their clerics in both the Islamic world and Europe, is “Judeophobic” and not “anti-Semitic”? Is this hallowed Qur’anic reference, eternal as the Word of Allah, a circumstantial and fleeting pronouncement? To say so would be a blasphemy. It is taught by Muslim clerics, as a matter of course, in such “moderate” and “pro-Western” countries as Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as a continuation of the traditional way of demonizing and de-humanizing the Jews in order to facilitate their annihilation. What further evidence is needed to prove that it is a blatant expression of anti-Semitism?

Words were created to transmit conventionally agreed upon meanings. If each actor chose to lend to his words a different significance or accuse others of “distorting” their meaning, then we would no longer be able to call a spade a spade or communicate at all. Anti-Semitism is the millennial irrational hatred of the Jews, and it has been so called since modern research first focused on this sinister issue in the 19th Century. No amount of masking, manipulation of words and creation of parallels to dilute this terminology, can succeed, exactly as no coupling of the unique term “Holocaust” with the Armenian or Darfurian genocides (incidentally both perpetrated by Muslims), can blunt the poignancy of the Jewish Holocaust or rob it of its uniqueness.

No wonder, then, that the most frequent manifestation of anti-Semitism in Europe, these days, and among Muslims and their anti-Semitic allies everywhere , is Holocaust denial. The devaluation of the meaning of the word “Holocaust” by its deniers has been further distorted through its generic use to describe all sorts of massacres. Appallingly, in today's world, the hated Jew cannot even claim to have acceded to the ”honor” of being one of its victims.


Surviving in a post-American world

By Caroline B. Glick

Like it or not, the United States of America is no longer the world's policeman. This was the message of Barack Obama's presidential journey to Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iraq this past week.

Somewhere between apologizing for American history — both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US's nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America's missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, "Don't worry, be happy," as he leaves them to Moscow's tender mercies; humiliating Iraq's leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world's aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future.

Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington.

This news is music to the ears of the American Left and their friends in Europe. Obama's supporters like billionaire George Soros couldn't be more excited at the self-induced demise of the American superpower. CNN's former (anti-)Israel bureau chief Walter Rodgers wrote ecstatically in the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, "America's... superpower status, is being downgraded as rapidly as its economy."

The pro-Obama US and European media are so pleased with America's abdication of power that they took the rare step of applauding Obama at his press conference in London. Indeed, the media's enthusiasm for Obama appeared to grow with each presidential statement of contrition for America's past uses of force, each savage attack he leveled against his predecessor George W. Bush, each swipe he took at Israel, and each statement of gratitude for the blessings of Islam he uttered.

But while the media couldn't get enough of the new US leader, America's most stable allies worldwide began a desperate search for a reset button that would cause the administration to take back its abandonment of America's role as the protector of the free world.

Tokyo was distraught by the administration's reaction to North Korea's three-stage ballistic missile test. Japan recognized the betrayal inherent in Defense Secretary Robert Gates's announcement ahead Pyongyang's newest provocation that the US would only shoot the missile down if it targeted US territory. In one sentence, uttered not in secret consultations, but declared to the world on CNN, Gates abrogated America's strategic commitment to Japan's defense.

India, for its part, is concerned by Obama's repeated assertions that its refusal to transfer control over the disputed Jammu and Kashmir provinces to Pakistan inspires Pakistani terror against India. It is equally distressed at the Obama administration's refusal to make ending Pakistan's support for jihadist terror groups attacking India a central component of its strategy for contending with Pakistan and Afghanistan. In general, Indian officials have expressed deep concern over the Obama administration's apparent lack of regard for India as an ally and a significant strategic counterweight to China.

Then there is Iraq. During his brief visit to Baghdad on Tuesday afternoon, Obama didn't even pretend that he would ensure that Iraqi democracy and freedom is secured before US forces are withdrawn next year. The most supportive statement he could muster came during his conversation with Turkish students in Istanbul earlier in the day. There he said, "I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don't see a complete collapse into violence."

Hearing Obama's statements, and watching him and his advisers make daily declarations of friendship to Iran's mullahs, Iraqi leaders are considering their options for surviving the rapidly approaching storm.

Then there is Europe. Although Obama received enthusiastic applause from his audience in Prague when he announced his intention to destroy the US's nuclear arsenal, drastically scale back its missile defense programs and forge a new alliance with Russia, his words were anything but music to the ears of the leaders of former Soviet satellites threatened by Russia. The Czech, Polish, Georgian and Ukrainian governments were quick to recognize that Obama's strong desire to curry favor with the Kremlin and weaken his own country will imperil their ability to withstand Russian aggression.

It is not a coincidence, for instance, that the day Obama returned to Washington, Georgia's Moscow-sponsored opposition announced its plan to launch massive protests in Tblisi to force the ouster of pro-Western, anti-Russian Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. And as for Russia, like Iran, which responded to Obama's latest ode to the mullahs by opening a nuclear fuel plant and announcing it has 7,000 advanced centrifuges in operation, so Moscow reacted to Obama's fig leaf with a machine gun, announcing its refusal to support sanctions against North Korea and repeating its false claim that Iran's nuclear program is nonaggressive.

Finally there is Israel. If Obama's assertions that Israel must support the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state, his declarations of support for the so-called Saudi "peace plan," which requires Israel to commit national suicide in exchange for "peace" with the Arab world, and his continuous and increasingly frantic appeals for Iran to "engage" his administration weren't enough to show Israel that Obama is sacrificing the US's alliance with the Jewish state in a bid to appease the Arabs and Iran, on Tuesday Vice President Joseph Biden made this policy explicit.

When Biden told CNN that Israel would be "ill-advised" to attack Iran's nuclear installations, he made clear that from the administration's perspective, an Israeli strike that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power is less acceptable than a nuclear-armed Iran. That is, the Obama administration prefers to see Iran become a nuclear power than to see Israel secure its very existence.

AMERICA'S BETRAYAL of its democratic allies makes each of them more vulnerable to aggression at the hands of their enemies — enemies the Obama administration is now actively attempting to appease. And as the US strengthens their adversaries at their expense, these spurned democracies must consider their options for surviving as free societies in this new, threatening, post-American environment.

For the most part, America's scorned allies lack the ability to defeat their enemies on their own. India cannot easily defeat nuclear-armed Pakistan, which itself is fragmenting into disparate anti-Indian nuclear-wielding Islamist and Islamist-supporting factions.

Japan today cannot face North Korea — which acts as a Chinese proxy — on its own without risking a confrontation with China. Russia's invasion of Georgia last August showed clearly that its former republics and satellites have no way of escaping Moscow's grip alone. This week's Arab League conference at Doha demonstrated to Iraq's leaders that their Arab brethren are incapable and unwilling to confront Iran.

And the Obama administration's intense efforts to woo Iran coupled with its plan to slash the US's missile defense programs — including those in which Israel participates — and reportedly pressure Israel to dismantle its own purported nuclear arsenal — make clear that Israel today stands alone against Iran.

THE RISKS that the newly inaugurated post-American world pose for America's threatened friends are clear. But viable opportunities for survival do exist, and Israel can and must play a central role in developing them. Specifically, Israel must move swiftly to develop active strategic alliances with Japan, Iraq, Poland, and the Czech Republic and it must expand its alliance with India.

With Israel's technological capabilities, its intelligence and military expertise, it can play a vital role in shoring up these countries' capacities to contain the rogue states that threaten them. And by containing the likes of Russia, North Korea and Pakistan, they will make it easier for Israel to contain Iran even in the face of US support for the mullahs.

The possibilities for strategic cooperation between and among all of these states and Israel run the gamut from intelligence sharing to military training, to missile defense, naval development, satellite collaboration, to nuclear cooperation. In addition, of course, expanded economic ties between and among these states can aid each of them in the struggle to stay afloat during the current global economic crisis.

Although far from risk free, these opportunities are realistic because they are founded on stable, shared interests. This is the case despite the fact that none of these potential alliances will likely amount to increased support for Israel in international forums. Dependent as they are on Arab oil, these potential allies cannot be expected to vote with Israel in the UN General Assembly. But this should not concern Jerusalem.

The only thing that should concern Jerusalem today is how to weaken Iran both directly by attacking its nuclear installations, and indirectly by weakening its international partners in Moscow, Pyongyang, Islamabad and beyond in the absence of US support. If Japan is able to contain North Korea and so limit Pyongyang's freedom to proliferate its nuclear weapons and missiles to Iran and Syria and beyond, Israel is better off. So, too, Israel is better off if Russia is contained by democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe. These nations in turn are better off if Iran is contained and prevented from threatening them both directly and indirectly through its strategic partners in North Korea, Syria and Russia, and its terror affiliates in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the past 16 years, successive Israeli governments have wrongly believed that politics trump strategic interests. The notion that informed Israel's decision-makers — not unlike the notion that now informs the Obama administration — was that Israel's strategic interests would be secured as a consequence of its efforts to appease its enemies by weakening itself. Appreciative of Israel's sacrifices for peace, the nations of the world — and particularly the US, the Arabs and Europe — would come to Israel's defense in its hour of need. Now that the hour of need has arrived, Israel's political strategy for securing itself has been exposed as a complete fiasco.

The good news is that no doubt sooner rather than later, Obama's similarly disastrous bid to denude the US of its military power under the naive assumption that it will be able to use its new stature as a morally pure strategic weakling to win its enemies over to its side will fail spectacularly and America's foreign policy will revert to strategic rationality.

But to survive the current period of American strategic madness, Israel and the US's other unwanted allies must build alliances with one another — covertly if need be — to contain their adversaries in the absence of America. If they do so successfully, then the damage to global security induced by Obama's emasculation of his country will be limited. If on the other hand, they fail, then America's eventual return to its senses will likely come too late for its allies — if not for America itself.


Australian Federal government wants under-fives taught to be politically correct

BABIES, toddlers and preschoolers across the country are set to become political activists under controversial new Federal Government guidelines. The April 2009 draft Early Years Learning Framework wants teachers to make under-fives:

* Contribute in a meaningful way to reconciliation, including flying the Aboriginal flag and inviting elders to give talks.

* Use "social inclusion puppets" and "persona dolls" to explore exclusion and ethical issues.

* Challenge and resist bias and discrimination.

* Take action in unfair situations and learn to act when injustice occurs.

* Assess and act on power dynamics as they get older.

The political emphasis of the guidelines has divided early learning experts. Some, such as leading Melbourne educational consultant Kathy Walker, have questioned the merits of such issues being "rammed down the throats" of two, three and four-year olds. "Although I welcome the emphasis on play-based learning, there is an air of political correctness about the document overall," she said.

Others, such as Kindergarten Parents Victoria CEO Meredith Carter, believe it is merely an attempt to "include and welcome all families to join in preschool and kinder". "It's not as if children will be harmed for life by this focus on difference and commonality," she said.

Under the $700,000 new approach to early childhood education, the goal will be to "promote children's civic participation and nurture socially responsible citizens for a future world," a Federal Government February 2009 briefing paper states. "The early childhood years are a time when children are developing understandings of community and citizenship and learning about democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizens," it says.

There is also a strong emphasis on caring for the environment and reconciliation. The briefing paper notes that "such a society values Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as a core part of the nation's history, present and future" and stresses this as a key tenet of early childhood education.

Less controversially, the guidelines also focus strongly on play-based learning, the importance of communication and language, the role of the family in children's lives, and social and emotional development.

But psychologist, author and speaker Evelyn Field questioned the need for role modelling using puppets and dolls, instead preferring teachers "keep it simple through encouraging children to play together".

Melbourne clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller agreed the emphasis should be on children playing and learning through play. "If we overwhelm children with a sense of broader issues, we could make them anxious and confused," he said.

Welcoming the guidelines, Association for Children with a Disability CEO Elizabeth McGarry said the key was not to highlight negative differences between children, but positively promote diversity.

Community Childcare executive director Barbara Romeril also welcomed the focus on equity and getting children to challenge discrimination and disadvantage. "Children are already dealing with these issues," she said.

If adopted, the Department of Education guidelines would cover all kinders, childcare centres and other early childhood settings, and would provide the basis for the education and care of all Australian preschoolers.

The guidelines have just been tested in 29 settings, including a range of childcare centres. Online consultation is still taking place. They are due to be implemented in July.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

British Christian charity worker suspended over opposition to homosexual rights

A charity worker has been suspended after telling a colleague about his Christian beliefs against homosexuality, even though he says he is not homophobic and was merely responding to questions from a colleague about his beliefs. David Booker, 44, who works at a Christian hostel in Southampton, a charity whose patron is the Archbishop of Canterbury, was asked about his faith by a colleague, Fiona Vardy during a late shift last month. He told her he was opposed to same-sex marriages and to homosexual clergy but denied being homophobic and said that he had homosexual friends.

The next evening, Mr Booker was suspended from his £19,000-a-year post as a hostel support worker with Society of St James, where he has been employed for the last four years. The hostel told him the action was taken for “events that happened last night”. A few days later he was told he had “seriously breached” the charity’s code of conduct “by promoting your religious views which contained discriminatory comments regarding a person’s sexual orientation”. The action had been taken “to safeguard both residents and staff”, he was advised.

Mr Booker, an evangelical from Southampton, who is being advised by the Christian Legal Centre, now faces an enquiry and a disciplinary hearing.

It comes just weeks after a Christian nurse suspended for offering to pray for the recovery of a patient was reinstated. North Somerset NHS Trust suspended nurse Caroline Petrie for failing to show a commitment to equality and diversity after she offered to pray for the recovery of an elderly patient. The patient did not complain.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This case shows that in today’s politically correct, increasingly secularised society, even consenting reasonable discussion on religion between two employees is being twisted by employers to discriminate and silence the Christian voice and freedom of expression.”

She said the charity English Churches House Group, which was recently taken over by the Society of St James, was largely funded by churches throughout Hampshire whose followers would be “shocked at the attitude and action taken by a Christian organisation towards a Christian employee.”

She added: “The Archbishop of Canterbury, as patron, has confirmed the Church’s teaching on marriage, same-sex relationships and homosexuality and that is in the public domain. We are interested to know whether his patronage is now under threat under the charity’s Culture and Diversity Code of Conduct.”


Civilization walking the plank

Pirate problem joins North Korean missile, Iranian nukes as 'distractions' for Obama

Mark Steyn

The Reuters headline put it this way: "Pirates Pose Annoying Distraction For Obama." So many distractions, aren't there? Only a week ago, the North Korean missile test was an "annoying distraction" from Barack Obama's call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pledge that America would lead the way in disarming. And only a couple of days earlier the president insisted Iraq was a "distraction" – from what, I forget: The cooing press coverage of Michelle's wardrobe? No doubt when the Iranians nuke Israel, that, too, will be an unwelcome distraction from the administration's plans for federally subsidized day care, just as Pearl Harbor was an annoying distraction from the New Deal, and the First World War was an annoying distraction from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand's dinner plans

If the incompetent management driving The New York Times from junk status to oblivion wished to decelerate their terminal decline, they might usefully amend their motto to "All The News That's Fit To Distract." Tom Blumer of Newsbusters notes that in the past 30 days there have been some 2,500 stories featuring Obama and "distractions," as opposed to about 800 "distractions" for Bush in his entire second term. The sub-headline of the Reuters story suggests the unprecedented pace at which the mountain of distractions is piling up: "First North Korea, Iran – now Somali pirates."

Er, OK. So the North Korean test is a "distraction," the Iranian nuclear program is a "distraction," and the seizure of a U.S.-flagged vessel in international waters is a "distraction." Maybe it would be easier just to have the official State Department maps reprinted with the Rest of the World relabeled "Distractions." Oh, to be sure, you could still have occasional oases of presidential photo-opportunities – Buckingham Palace, that square in Prague – but with the land beyond the edge of the Queen's gardens ominously marked "Here be distractions…"

As it happens, Somali piracy is not a distraction but a glimpse of the world the day after tomorrow. In my book "America Alone," I quote Robert D. Kaplan referring to the lawless fringes of the map as "Indian Territory." It's a droll jest but a misleading one, since the very phrase presumes that the badlands one day will be brought within the bounds of the ordered world. In fact, a lot of today's badlands were relatively ordered not so long ago, and many of them are getting badder and badder by the day. Half a century back, Somaliland was a couple of sleepy colonies, British and Italian, poor but functioning. Then it became a state, and then a failed state, and now the husk of a nation is a convenient squat from which to make mischief. According to Chatham House in London, Somali pirates made about $30 million in ransom and booty last year. Thirty mil goes a long way in Somalia, making piracy a very attractive proposition.

It's also a low-risk one. Once upon a time we killed and captured pirates. Today, it's all more complicated. Attorney General Eric Holder has declined to say whether the kidnappers of the American captain will be "brought to justice" by the U.S. "I'm not sure exactly what would happen next," declares the chief law-enforcement official of the world's superpower. But some things we can say for certain. Obviously, if the United States Navy hanged some eye-patched, peg-legged blackguard from the yardarm or made him walk the plank, pious senators would rise to denounce an America that no longer lived up to its highest ideals, and the network talking-heads would argue that Plankgate was recruiting more and more young men to the pirates' cause, and judges would rule that pirates were entitled to the protections of the U.S. Constitution and that their peg legs had to be replaced by high-tech prosthetic limbs at taxpayer expense.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy, which over the centuries did more than anyone to rid the civilized world of the menace of piracy, now declines even to risk capturing their Somali successors, having been advised by Her Majesty's Government that, under the European Human Rights Act, any pirate taken into custody would be entitled to claim refugee status in the United Kingdom and live on welfare for the rest of his life. I doubt "Pirates of the Caribbean" would have cleaned up at the box office if the big finale had shown Geoffrey Rush and his crew of scurvy sea dogs settling down in council flats in Manchester and going down to the pub for a couple of jiggers of rum washed down to cries of "Aaaaargh, shiver me benefits check, lad." From "Avast, me hearties!" to a vast welfare scam is not progress.

In a world of legalisms, resistance is futile. The Royal Navy sailors kidnapped by Iran two years ago and humiliated by the mullahs on TV were operating under rules of engagement that call for "de-escalation" in the event of a confrontation. Which is to say their rules of engagement are rules of nonengagement. Likewise, merchant vessels equipped with cannon in the 18th century now sail unarmed. They contract with expensive private security firms, but those security teams do not carry guns: When the MV Biscaglia was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden last year, the Indian and Bangladeshi crew were taken hostage but the three unarmed guards from "Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions" in London "escaped by jumping into the water." Some solution. When you make a lucrative activity low-risk, you get more of it.

As my colleague Andrew McCarthy wrote, "Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn't recede willingly before the wheels of progress." Very true. Somalia, Iran and North Korea are all less "civilized" than they were a couple of generations ago. And yet in one sense they have made undeniable progress: They have globalized their pathologies. Somali pirates seize vessels the size of aircraft carriers flying the ensigns of the great powers. Iranian proxies run Gaza and much of Lebanon. North Korea's impoverished prison state provides nuclear technology to Damascus and Tehran. Unlovely as it is, Pyongyang nevertheless has friends on the Security Council. Powerful states protect one-man psycho states. One-man psycho states provide delivery systems to apocalyptic ideological states. Apocalyptic ideological states fund nonstate actors around the world. And in Somalia and elsewhere nonstate actors are constrained only by their ever increasing capabilities.

When all the world's a "distraction," maybe you're not the main event after all. Most wealthy nations lack the means to defend themselves. Those few that do, lack the will. Meanwhile, basket-case jurisdictions send out ever bolder freelance marauders to prey on the civilized world with impunity. Don't be surprised if "the civilized world" shrivels and retreats in the face of state-of-the-art reprimitivization. From piracy to nukes to the limp response of the hyperpower, this is not a "distraction" but a portent of the future.


Corrupt Leftist hater deserved his downfall

Chas Freeman's Saudi & Chinese Connections The Issue - Not The Israel Lobby

The withdrawal by career diplomat Chas W. Freeman from his appointment as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) has been depicted largely as the work of the pro-Israel lobby. Reports in the New York Times and elsewhere have painted Freeman as being little more than a blunt critic of Israel. Neither portrait is true.

Only the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and JINSA made an issue of the Freeman appointment. Other Jewish organizations were not involved, although they should have been - Freeman is not merely a "blunt" critic of Israel, but one who rationalizes anti-Israel hatred and violence.

Freeman never merely criticized particular Israeli policies - he argues that even the most concessionary governments in Israel's history do not seek peace with their neighbors. That is, after Israel recognized the PLO, agreed to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), ceded half the West Bank and all of Gaza to Palestinian control, disbursed funds, assets and even arms to the PA, and offered it statehood in almost all of the disputed territories, only to receive more terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder in return, Freeman believes Israel is the villain.

In a September 2005 speech, Freeman rationalized Palestinian terrorism as being caused by the West Bank being something other than judenrein: "Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent ... And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis."

In October 2006, he blamed Israel for 9/11, saying that the U.S. has "paid heavily … for our unflinching support and unstinting subsidies of Israel's approach to managing its relations with the Arabs. Five years ago we began to pay with the blood of our citizens here at home." (Not a word on the almost as large American subsidies to Egypt or increasingly munificent ones to the PA). The following May, he blamed Middle Eastern anti-American hatred principally on American support for Israel. (Not a word on the Wahhabi jihadism of his Saudi benefactors).

Freeman's fabrications extend explicitly to the ZOA. In a long interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Freeman blamed ZOA for "organizing" a campaign against him and even claimed that we had a posting on the web "setting out in considerable detail how they organized, researched to find [sic] material that they could use to agitate, first Congressmen who were sympathetic to them, and later others … they engaged in a truly libelous campaign of selective misquotation, distortion and fabrication of facts that are absolutely not real."

There is no such ZOA posting that Freeman describes. Our research did not extend beyond the use of the internet. Our alleged "selective misquotations" were faithfully provided by Freeman's own speeches posted on the website of Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) that he chairs. The only things that "libel" Freeman's reputation are his own vitriolic views.

Not just on Israel - and this is the point: Freeman's hostility to Israel raised concerns but alone would not haevoked such a strong reaction in Congress. Rather, it was his coziness with tyrannical regimes and the conflict of interests they potentially involved that preoccupied legislators from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi down.

For 11 years, Freeman received financial remuneration from Saudi Arabia heading MEPC. MEPC itself owes its endowment to the Saudi monarch who, in 1994, awarded Freeman the Order of 'King Abd Al-Aziz' 1st Class (Diplomatic Service). Freeman also served on the advisory board of the Beijing-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, which has business dealings with both Iran and Sudan.

When it comes to such regimes, Freeman again does not tell the truth. Both on CNN and in the New York Times, Freeman claimed that, in an email list posting, he had merely described, but did not himself support, the official Chinese view that Beijing had been slow in clamping down on pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989.

This is untrue: in his email list posting, available on the internet, Freeman said that he found "very plausible" the official Chinese view that it was unforgivable not to have cracked down much sooner to "nip the demonstrations in the bud." He added that he "cannot conceive of any American government behaving with the ill-conceived restraint" of the Beijing government.

In short, Freeman did favor suppression of democratic forces in China. He only wishes it had happened sooner.

On Saudi suppression of religious freedom and human rights, especially for women, Freeman is uncharacteristically quiet. Put simply, he likes autocrats and dislikes democrats.

These conflicts of interest, encompassing advocacy on behalf of tyrannical regimes like China and Saudi Arabia on which he would have had to provide intelligence to the President, sank his appointment, not the "Israel lobby."


Christian conservatism just getting started

There are some today who suggest that Christian conservatism as a political force is over. Those who make this claim point to the fact that liberal Democrats now control the White House and both houses of congress, that the number of Americans self identifying as Democrats compared to Republicans has increased, that the direction of public opinion, particularly among young people, on social issues is liberal, and that the Republican Party itself has been divided over the conservative agenda.

But those who write off Christian conservatism as a political force have underestimated the driving compulsion behind traditional faith and American freedom. Just looking at who is in power does not reveal the depth of division in the country today and for the reasons that the nation is so deeply divided, may I suggest that Christian conservatism will not only survive but will thrive.

For although the Pew Research Center reports that the partisan gap in approval for President Obama is the widest this gap has been in modern times with the difference between Democrat approval of Obama, 88 percent, and Republican approval, 27 percent, the "values" gap reflected in Pew and other studies is far too significant for some to suggest that conservative Christians take their voting rights home to be buried.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 76 percent of Republicans say that religion is an "important part" of their life, compared to 57 percent of Democrats. And 55 percent of Republicans go to religious services at least once per week compared to 34 percent of Democrats.

On particular "values" issues, according to Gallup, Republicans and Democrats are night and day. Some 59 percent of Democrats say out of wedlock births are morally acceptable, compared to 39 percent of Republicans. And with recent data showing 40 percent out of wedlock birth rates, what if any public policy should regulate this behavior?

Abortion is morally acceptable to 51 percent of Democrats compared to 25 percent of Republicans. And with 48 million abortion deaths since Roe v Wade, should no political concern address the societal costs of this law?

Homosexuality is morally acceptable to 55 percent of Democrats and 30 percent of Republicans. And 52 percent of Democrats are ready to legalize same sex marriage compared to 22 percent of Republicans. We only need to look at 30 years of inner city data and see the impact of coupling government social engineering with unbridled sexual impulse.

Without a moral compass in politics and law, where do we go to answer the hard questions? The Christian right has interjected itself into the political world because the political world came into their world.

The public schools that are educating the majority of America's children have been increasingly secularized and politicized. The work place has been purged of biblical ethics. All public space is darkened by lawless and vulgar lasciviousness and becoming increasingly intolerant of practicing Christians.

The result is that secular Americans have had a disproportionate impact on our country over recent years and biblical Americans are now fighting back with their voting rights.

Abraham Lincoln said that a "house divided against itself cannot stand." He recognized that when points of contention have to do with basic values on common ground, we've got to decide who we are going to be. He knew the country couldn't continue half slave and half free and would have to become all of one or all of the other.

The divisions in America today have gotten beyond the political class and the talking heads. It requires voting action to thread one worldview or the other into our rule of law and the Christian right has chosen the Republican Party as its needle.

America is in a crisis because the wrong people have been making the wrong decisions for too many years. Christian conservatives have an obligation to help lead America to it founding principles of traditional values and limited government. Christians must actively shape public policy in the country and inject our values into every part of our shared space.

So I would suggest that the naysayer put away their shovels because the religious right is not dead nor in a coma. Christian conservatives are not and never will withdraw. In fact, we are just getting started.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, April 13, 2009

The evil of an incorrectly used bus ticket in Britain

If your car is stolen or you are burgled, the politicized British police can't be bothered -- But use your bus ticket incorrectly and you have their undivided attention!

Mostly, I like to be in a trance on the bus, and I was when I found myself next to a guy playing his guitar very loudly. It was not unpleasant but it did mean that when I put my Oyster Card on the machine to pay my fare I don’t know if it beeped. When the inspectors got on en masse (they daren’t do it alone) I was relaxed, but then the transport police hauled me off the bus. My Oyster was topped up but I had apparently breached Rule 4. [The machine must beep]

Do I look like a knife wielder or bomber? No matter. They wanted ID. I produced a credit card, a Press card, a business card for this newspaper and, to top it all, a Matalan card. How amazingly normal could I be? But it wasn’t good enough. By now I was mystified. And late. And annoyed. ‘We want a driving licence or a passport.’

‘Do most people get on the bus with a driving licence?’ I asked. Another guy came over and said ‘Is she being difficult?’ Apparently I was. So the real police had to come and sort me out. My ID wasn’t good enough, though I was checked by the Criminal Records Bureau last year in order to go on a school trip with my own child.

The officers checked me out. I had indeed given my real address, but I wouldn’t hand over the 25 pound fine then and there and made the mistake of saying if they hit me on the back of my legs they had better hope I didn’t have a weak heart. [A reference to a recent killing by British riot police]

‘Not a great week to be a policeman is it?’ If I was going to be difficult, they would have to take me ‘out of this situation’. Right.

Now this was over a 1 pound bus fare but several things were in play here. Policing depends on trust and a certain amount of goodwill from those not committing crimes. Already many different communities feel that the police are not on their side. Photographers at the G20 protests have told me how many of the bussed-in support officers had their numbers covered up. Not because they are all murderers but because these guys were there for trouble.

That’s the truth. What they got were a few window smashers and a lot of extras with camera phones. That’s it. We can never know about supposed terrorist plots, but my Oyster Card mistake hardly signalled red alert.

What most angered me was their idea of what they were entitled to ask for. We do not have or want ID cards. I was doing nothing wrong by not carrying around a passport. But they acted as if I was. The police do not have the right to demand this and a ticket inspector certainly doesn’t. Civil liberties are infringed incrementally, and through ignorance and compliance. Casually, I told one policeman I was a journalist and might write about this. He actually said: ‘Yeah, well, it’s a free country, love.’

But I’m just telling you, it isn’t.


Anti-Semitism and the Economic Crisis

Many people still blame Jews for capitalism's faults

Walking down the street in my solidly upper-middle-class New York City neighborhood the other day was a neatly dressed man angrily cursing into his cell phone about "Jew Wall Street bankers." I was headed in the opposite direction and didn't stop to interview him about his particular grievances, but the brief encounter crystallized for me a foreboding that the financial crisis may trigger a new outbreak of anti-Semitism.

It is a fear that is being articulated ever more widely. President Bill Clinton's secretary of labor, Robert Reich, frets on his blog, "History shows how effective demagogic ravings can be when a public is stressed economically." He warns that Jews, along with gays and blacks, could become victims of populist rage.

In the New York Jewish Week newspaper, a column by Rabbi Ronald Price of the Union for Traditional Judaism begins, "In the 1930s, as Germany's economy collapsed, the finger was pointed at the Jews and the Nazis ascended to power. The famous Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jew was falsely accused of treason in France, followed on the heels of economic turmoil."

At this juncture, the trepidation may yet seem like paranoia, or special pleading akin to the old joke about the newspaper headline, "World Ends in Nuclear Attack: Poor, Minorities Hardest Hit." Everyone is feeling the brunt of the recession; why worry about the Jews in particular? After all, Jews today have two refuges: Israel and America, a land where Jews have attained remarkable power and prosperity and have a constitutionally protected right to exercise their religion freely. In that case, why worry about potential danger to the Jews at all?

One answer is that the historical precedents are exceedingly grim. The causes of the First Crusade, in which thousands of Jews were murdered, are still being debated, but some historians link it to famine and a poor harvest in 1095. As for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the foremost historian of its causes, Benzion Netanyahu (the father of Israel's new prime minister), writes of the desire of the persecutors "to get rid of their debts by getting rid of their creditors." More generally, he writes, "it is an iron-clad rule in the history of group relations: the majority's toleration of every minority lessens with the worsening of the majority's condition."

Lest this seem overly crude economic determinism, consider that the Jews have been victims not only of unrest prompted by economic distress but of attempts to remedy such economic distress with socialism. Take it from Friedrich Hayek, the late Nobel Prize winning Austrian economist. In "The Road to Serfdom," Hayek wrote, "In Germany and Austria the Jew had come to be regarded as the representative of Capitalism." Thus, the response in those countries, National Socialism, was an attack on both capitalism and the Jews.

There are ample indicators of current anti-Semitic attitudes. A poll conducted recently in Europe by the Anti-Defamation League found 74% of Spaniards believe Jews "have too much power in international financial markets," while 67% of Hungarians believe Jews "have too much power in the business world." Here in America, the Web site of National Journal is hosting an "expert blog" by former CIA official Michael Scheuer, now a professor at Georgetown, complaining of a "fifth column of pro-Israel U.S. citizens" who are "unquestionably enemies of America's republican experiment." And over at Yahoo! Finance, the message board discussing Goldman Sachs is rife with comments about "Jew pigs" and the "Zionist Federal Reserve."

So will the Jews come under attack? The existence of the Jewish state guarantees refuge for Jews around the world, but it carries with it its own risks. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said that if the Jews "all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world-wide." It's a comment all the more chilling as Nasrallah's Iranian sponsors are on the brink of making a nuclear bomb.

As for the idea that Jewish professional, political, and economic success in America is a guarantee of security, that, too, has its risks. As Yuri Sleskine recounted in his book "The Jewish Century," in 1900 Vienna more than half of the lawyers, doctors and professional journalists were Jewish, as were 70% of the members of the stock exchange. In Germany, after World War I but before the Nazis came to power, Jews served as finance minister and as foreign minister. Such achievements have a way of being fleeting.

It may yet be that the Jews escape the current economic crisis having only lost fortunes. But if not, there will have been no lack of warning about the threat. When Jews gather Wednesday night for the Passover Seder, we will recite the words from the Hagadah, the book that relays the Israelite exodus from slavery in Egypt: "In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us." This year, they will resonate all the more ominously.


Obama and the Reawakening of Corporatism

By Steven Malanga

In 1970, General Motors was the largest and most profitable company in America. Today, of course, GM is neither. Instead, in 2009 America’s largest company is Wal-Mart, which was still only a regional, privately-held retailer in 1970. Wal-Mart’s rapid rise is not unique, however. Among the 100 largest firms today, a number "including FedEx, Microsoft, Cisco, and Home Depot--didn’t even exist in 1970. So profoundly has the landscape changed that 80 percent of the Fortune 100 companies today are different from 1970.

All of this is the result of an entrepreneurial revolution spurred by everything from intensifying international competition starting in the late 1950s, to the lowering of confiscatory tax rates starting in the 1960s, to a series of technological revolutions that gathered momentum in the 1970s, to the taming of inflation in the early 1980s. During that time the corporate team player, the quintessential organizational man, slowly gave way to the dazzling but disruptive entrepreneur whose innovations rapidly reshaped the economy "and the ranks of corporate America "several times over.

But we are entering quite a different age right now, one in which the President of the United States and his hand-selected industrial overseers fire the chief executive of General Motors and chart the company’s next moves in order to preserve it. Conservative critics of the president have said that the government’s GM strategy is one of many examples of an America drifting toward socialism. But President Obama is not a socialist. If his agenda harks back to anything, it is to corporatism, the notion that elite groups of individuals molded together into committees or public-private boards can guide society and coordinate the economy from the top town and manage change by evolution, not revolution. It is a turn-of-the 20th century philosophy, updated for the dawn of the 21st century, which positions itself as an antidote to the kind of messy capitalism that has transformed the Fortune 500 and every corner of our economy in the last half century. To do so corporatism seeks to substitute the wisdom of the few for the hundreds of millions of individual actions and transactions of the many that set the direction of the economy from the bottom up.

Corporatism periodically re-emerges precisely because it is an appealing political formulation, seeking as it does to present a middle-of-the-road alternative to socialism on the one hand, and capitalism on the other. It was the search for just such a third way that prompted Pope Leo XIII to outline the notion of corporatism in his 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum (Of New Things). Leo confronted a world in transition, like ours, in which technological advances had created an industrial revolution that was reshaping society, setting off mass migrations and creating wealth and pockets of new urban poverty at the same time. The Catholic Church worried about the rise of socialism--an ideology that rejected religion and preached seizing private property (a particularly distasteful notion to Europe’s biggest property owner) in response to the industrial revolution. But the Church was also distrustful of capitalism, with its overtones of survival of the fittest. That the most successful capitalist countries of the time were overwhelmingly Protestant didn’t reassure Leo XIII either. His corporatism was not rule by capitalists, but rather enlightened guidance from medieval-style guilds and associations or other such collaborative bodies.

Variations on Leo’s ideas soon became a common part of the political discourse. We see hints of corporatism in America’s Progressive Reform movement of early 20th century America, with its notion that the country could be governed by an enlightened, technocratic, nonpartisan elite, which culminated in the presidential election of Woodrow Wilson--a political scientist who specialized in the study of public administration.

But a version of corporatism also emerged in the 1920s in Fascist Italy, where Mussolini conceived of syndicates in numerous industries composed of labor leaders and businessmen helping direct the Italian economy in the service of Fascism. Hitler’s solution was more thorough, to eliminate those organizations and associations within Germany that opposed him and to smother individualism by instituting a corporatist regime of forcible coordination among trade unions and business groups.

As chilling as these authoritarian versions of corporatism sound today, in the 1930s they found admirers in the U.S., where the ravages of the Great Depression provoked public longing for a safer, more thoroughly planned economy without as much resistance and debate from recalcitrant business leaders or opposition party members who opposed the New Deal. Even today one occasionally hears a longing for a benign version of this elaborately planned economic world in phrases like “getting the trains running on time,” or in a recent column in the New York Times which suggested that Hitler’s wartime buildup amounted to a successful government stimulus in Depression-era Germany.

Today, some American conservatives will argue that we never put aside the corporatism of the U.S. during the New Deal. They can point to any number of initiatives, from Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society to Richard Nixon’s wage and price controls, as evidence of continued drift. Progressives, by contrast, will argue that America has been governed over that same time by a corporatist regime of big business conspiring with government against the middle and lower classes so that only the rich benefit.

The facts belie both versions. If corporations have been running our economy for their own purposes, or in tandem with big government, they haven’t been doing an awfully good job of protecting their interests, considering how quickly U.S. firms rise and fall and how the Fortune 500 turns over. And if only the rich are getting richer someone needs to tell Bill Gates, a kid from a middle class background with no college degree, or Warren Buffett, who grew up working in his grandfather’s grocery store, that they need to return the billions they’ve somehow acquired to the Rockefellers, the Astors, the Vanderbilts and other once-rich families whose fortunes have long been in decline.

Still, great economic dislocations bring out the corporatist, which is why we now have a government board overseeing General Motors, and the Treasury Department has issued the first car warranty program in its history. It’s why some banks were pressured to accept bailout money they didn’t need and have been pressured not to return it to get out from under federal micromanagement. And it’s why the federal stimulus package contains such chestnuts as money to build out our broadband infrastructure, which comes with all sorts of strings attached by the Federal Communications Commission, because we somehow can’t rely on our phone, cable or internet companies to provide customers with the bandwidth they demand in networks that will suit our economy.

Corporatism is especially attractive to politicians, public intellectuals who serve as policy makers, and Nobel Laureates because it is ultimately a world managed by the few, the elect, through the state. If we are told enough times that nothing, even technological innovation, is possible anymore without significant contributions and directions from the state, maybe we’ll eventually come to believe it, although the inventors of the printing press, the steam engine, the light bulb, the telephone, and internal combustion engine and other game-changing technologies might wonder how they accomplished what they did without government.

Corporatism is not about regulating capitalism better as markets evolve. It is several steps beyond. It is instead about those who believe in “the beauty of pushing a button to solve problems,” as the economist Paul Krugman recently described his attraction to the social sciences. Some people worry about what happens when the regulators take charge of our economy. But the real concern is what happens when the button pushers take charge, for the button pushers are the corporatists.


The Two-State Solution for Israel is 87 Years Old

In 1920, Great Britain was given the responsibility by the League of Nations to oversee the Mandate over the geographical territory known as Palestine with the express intention of reconstituting within its territory a Jewish National Home.

The territory in question stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the eastern boundary of Mandatory Palestine, which was a border that would separate it from what was to become the future state of Iraq.

The League of Nations created a number of articles, which were in line with the original intent of the Balfour Declaration of November 29th, 1917. At the last minute, however, a new article was introduced by the British Colonial Office: article number 25.

At first the sudden addition of this article was not a cause for alarm but gradually it became apparent that its inclusion directly enabled Great Britain in 1921 to tear away all the territory of geographical Palestine, east of the River Jordan, and give it to the Arab Hashemite family; the territory to become Trans-Jordan and led by the emir Abdullah.

Britain presented this gift to Abdullah, the son of the Sherif of Mecca, as a consolation prize for its awarding of the Hedjaz territory and Arabia, which included Mecca, to the rival Saud family: That vast territory is now Saudi Arabia.

British officials also claimed that the gift of Mandatory Palestine east of the Jordan River was in gratitude to the Hashemites for their contribution in helping defeat the Turks. However, even T.S. Lawrence later described in derisory terms the Hashemite role as "a side show of a side show."

This was the first partition of Palestine and created a brand new entity 87 years ago covering some 35,000 square miles or nearly four-fifths of the geographical territory of Palestine. Immediately Jewish residence in the territory was forbidden and it became in effect judenrein - the German term for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from a territory.

This betrayal by none other than Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary at the time, was a devastating blow to the Jewish and Zionist leadership, which now saw the promised Jewish homeland reduced to the remaining narrow territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan - an area barely 50 miles at its widest.

Shortly after, in 1923, the British and French colonial powers also divided up the northern part of the Palestine Mandate. Britain stripped away the Golan Heights (ancient biblical Bashan) and gave it to French occupied Syria.

The Balfour Declaration issued by Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary, never envisaged that the Jordan River would be the eastern boundary of the reconstituted Jewish homeland. Indeed, the Zionist leadership had put forward in February 1919 its first submission that the eastern boundary would run well east of the Hedjaz railway. The incorporation of the railway would be an economically essential requirement for the Jewish community living east of the River Jordan as well as providing it with vital security.

The squabbling by the French and British colonial powers over the final frontiers of the Palestine Mandate had earlier led the London Times to urge Paris to accept sensible and rational frontiers in both the north and east of Jewish Palestine. As early as September 19th, 1919 it had thundered in an editorial:
"The Jordan will not do as the eastern frontier of Palestine ... Palestine must have a good military frontier east of Jordan ... Our duty as Mandatory is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling state but one that is capable of vigorous and independent life ... "
But Jewish aspirations inevitably were dashed as a new British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, took the place of Lord Balfour. This new British official within weeks of succeeding Balfour made it clear that Britain was intent upon separating Transjordan from Palestine: the first two-state solution.

The succeeding history of the remaining one fifth of the original territory promised to the Jewish people by Lord Balfour and the British government was one of continuing British betrayal as each successive Mandatory administration displayed pro-Arab and anti-Jewish policies.

During its administration up until 1947, Britain severely restricted Jewish immigration and purchases of land while turning a blind eye to massive illegal Arab immigration into the territory from neighboring Arab states.

Britain's sorry record of appeasement of the Arabs, at the expense of Jewish destiny in the remaining territory, culminated in the infamous 1939 White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration to just 75,000 souls for the next five years. This onerous and draconian policy, coming as it did on the eve of the outbreak of World War 2, was a death blow to millions of Jews attempting to flee extermination by Nazi Germany.

Britain's mismanagement of the Mandate finally led to the United Nation's Partition Plan of 1947. The Jewish Agency reluctantly accepted this additional dismemberment of what was left in Mandatory Palestine of the promised Jewish National Home.

They did this in order to provide a refuge for the surviving Jewish remnants of the Holocaust and for the growing numbers of Jewish refugees being driven out of their homes throughout the Arab world. In contrast, the Arab regimes rejected the Partition Plan. Then, as now, they worked against the existence of an independent Jewish state.

Israel was officially re-born as a sovereign nation in 1948 and its 600,000 Jews fought to survive the massive Arab onslaught, which was intended to wipe out the Jewish state.

In 1948, Trans-Jordan, renamed the Kingdom of Jordan since 1946, had joined the other Arab nations in invading the Jewish state, illegally annexing the Biblical and ancestral Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria and renaming it the West Bank. Only Britain and Pakistan recognized the annexation.

The war ended in tortuous armistice lines resulting in an Israeli border a mere nine miles wide at the most densely populated area, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordanian occupied West Bank. Israel's late Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, described these dangerously vulnerable armistice lines as the Auschwitz borders.

Nineteen years later the Arab states declared again their imminent intention to destroy Israel. In the June 1967 Six Day War Israel liberated Judea and Samaria from Jordan in a defensive war. Israel offered to give away the newly liberated West Bank to the Hashemite regime in Jordan and the Gaza Strip to its erstwhile Egyptian occupiers in return for a full and lasting peace. But the Arab League, meeting in Khartoum in August, 1967, delivered the infamous three No's: No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.

It is within the narrow territory remaining for the Jewish state, if one includes Judea and Samaria, that the world now demands the establishment of yet another Arab state. Hamas controlled Gaza would be included in this future state to be called Palestine; a state which has never existed before by that name in all of recorded history - certainly not as an independent Arab state.

Gaza has already been given to the Arabs and they have turned it into a terror base from which they have launched a lethal missile blitz against Israel numbering to date over 10,000 rockets.

Israeli leaders should never have accepted even one missile fired from Gaza at its citizens in southern Israel. To let thousands fall with relative impunity for so many years led the world to believe that it was acceptable. After all, if Israel wasn't interested in safeguarding its own civilians, why then should the world be. It was accepted as business as usual.

The Gaza War thus came as a surprise to the world community and, just as the Second Lebanon War, it was launched by Israeli leaders too late and ended too soon, leaving both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon free to wreak future havoc upon the Jewish state.

The disputed West Bank, which is the ancient biblical heartland of Israel, is now the territory U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is pressuring Israel to give away to the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. This is the present day so-called two - state solution and will dismember what is left of Israel and drive some 250,000 Jewish residents from their homes and farms. Why? Because just as in Jordan, Jews will not be permitted to live within Arab territory, while Arabs can remain free to live within Israel.

It is instructive to remember that upon the granting of the Palestine Mandate to Great Britain, an eminent British celebrity and supporter of Zionism, Josiah Wedgwood, addressed a Jewish crowd of thousands at the Royal Albert Hall in London in which he urged the audience to stand up for Jewish rights in its homeland.

According to the late Shmuel Katz in his groundbreaking biography of the great Zionist leader, Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky, titled The Lone Wolf, Wedgwood said:
"... This lesson I want the new Jewish nation to learn and to get by heart: Stand up for your rights. Let us have more of the spirit in the Jewish movement of my good and gallant friend Jabotinsky."
Sadly, Israeli governments have become notoriously fearful of rejecting outright the deadly trap inherent in the so called two-state solution. Their muted responses have merely encouraged world leaders to repeatedly breathe new life into the discredited plan. The searing tragedy is that the two-state solution may presage for the Jewish people another Final Solution.

Perhaps the Secretary of State prefers to remain oblivious to the stark fact that the Arabs, whom she embraces and who today call themselves Palestinians, are as committed as their parents and grandparents before them to destroy the Jewish state; whatever size or shape its borders. The fact is that this is not a dispute over borders; this is a religious war and the Arabs, so long as the overwhelming majority remain Muslim, will never accept the existence of a non-Muslim state in territory previously conquered in the name of Allah -whatever the size or shape of its borders.

Only just recently, Muhammad Dahlan, speaking on behalf of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, declared on PA TV that the PA will not recognize Israel -- one of the primary demands made upon the Palestinian Arabs in the Oslo Peace Accords. Indeed, Dahlan admitted that the only reason they meet with Israelis at all is in order to continue receiving the immense flow of international funds.

Is Ms. Clinton aware of this Arab charade? Or does she dismiss it and care not for the absence of a sincere and honest Palestinian Arab peace partner and the inevitable plight of the quarter of a million plus Jewish residents who will become displaced refugees by enacting the next two-state solution. Perhaps she cares little for the resulting takeover of Judea and Samaria by Hamas and the inevitable missile blitz that will be launched by the Palestinian Arabs upon the rest of Israel.

Incidentally, what irony when the homes of Peace Now members living in Tel Aviv become daily targets of missiles launched from the very areas they campaign for their fellow Jews to be expelled from.

One wonders if Secretary Clinton knows that eighty seven years ago an original two-state solution was enacted in infamy. If she does, it is unlikely that she cares - anymore than the rest of the Obama Administration or State Department cares.

And what of those Jewish Americans who serve the Secretary and sadly will be in the forefront of destroying Jewish patrimony in the Land of Israel. Will they have a conscience or feel shame for the calamity they create? I think not.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Religion of hatred: Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes ruling Britain who sneer at Christianity

A week ago, there were Palm Sunday processions all over the world. Near my house in North London is a parish with two churches. About 70 or 80 of us gathered at one of these buildings to collect our palms. We were told by the priest: 'Where we are standing in Kentish Town does not look much like a Judaean hillside, and the other church to which we are walking does not look much like Jerusalem. But as we go, holding our palms, let us try to imagine the first Palm Sunday.'

And so we set off, singing All Glory, Laud And Honour! and holding up our palm crosses, to the faint bemusement of passersby, who looked out of their windows at us, tooted their horns as we blocked the traffic or smiled from sunny pavements. We were walking, as it were, in the footsteps of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey while crowds threw palms before him. Except our journey was along the pavements strewn with the usual North London discarded syringes, chewing gum and Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes.

When we had reached our destination, a small choir and two priests sang the whole of St Mark's account of the last week of Jesus's life - that part of the Gospel that is called The Passion. It is said the chant used for this recitation dates back to the music used in the Jewish Temple in Jesus's day.

We heard of his triumphal, palm-strewn procession into Jerusalem, his clash with the Temple authorities, his agonised prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, his arrest by the Roman guards, his torture, his trial before Pontius Pilate, his Crucifixion and his death.

So there we were, all believers, and a disparate group of people, of various ages, races and classes, re-enacting once more this extraordinary story. A story of a Jewish prophet falling foul of the authorities in an eastern province of the Roman Empire, and being punished, as were thousands of Jews during the governorship of Pontius Pilate, by the gruesome torture of crucifixion.

This Easter weekend we revisit the extraordinary ending of that story - the discovery by some women friends of Jesus that his tomb was empty. And we read of the reactions of the disciples - fearful, incredulous, but eventually believing that, as millions of Christians will proclaim tomorrow morning: 'The Lord is risen indeed!'

But how many in Britain today actually believe the story? Most recent polls have shown that considerably less than half of us do - yet that won't, of course, stop us tucking into Easter eggs (symbolising new life) and simnel cake (decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the 11 true disciples, with Judas missing).

For much of my life, I, too, have been one of those who did not believe. It was in my young manhood that I began to wonder how much of the Easter story I accepted, and in my 30s I lost any religious belief whatsoever. Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been 'conned' by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.

Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity? Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti. To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio. It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion. The vast majority of media pundits and intelligentsia in Britain are unbelievers, many of them quite fervent in their hatred of religion itself.

The Guardian's fanatical feminist-in-chief, Polly Toynbee, is one of the most dismissive of religion and Christianity in particular. She is president of the British Humanist Association, an associate of the National Secular Society and openly scornful of the millions of Britons who will quietly proclaim their faith in Church tomorrow.

'Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to?' she asked in a puerile article decrying the wickedness of C.S. Lewis's Narnia stories, which have bewitched children for more than 50 years. Or, to take another of her utterances: 'When absolute God-given righteousness beckons, blood flows and women are in chains.'

The sneering Ms Toynbee, like Richard Dawkins, believes in rational explanations for our existence and behaviour. She is deeply committed to the Rationalist Association, but her approach to religion is too fanatical to be described as rational. Perhaps it goes back to her relationship with her nice old dad, Philip Toynbee, a Thirties public school Marxist who, before he died, made the hesitant journey from unbelief to a questing Christianity.

The Polly Toynbees of this world ignore all the benign aspects of religion and see it purely as a sinister agent of control, especially over women. One suspects this is how it is viewed in most liberal circles, in university common rooms, at the BBC and, perhaps above all, sadly, by the bishops of the Church of England, who despite their episcopal regalia, nourish few discernible beliefs that could be distinguished from the liberalism of the age.

For ten or 15 of my middle years, I, too, was one of the mockers. But, as time passed, I found myself going back to church, although at first only as a fellow traveller with the believers, not as one who shared the faith that Jesus had truly risen from the grave. Some time over the past five or six years - I could not tell you exactly when - I found that I had changed. When I took part in the procession last Sunday and heard the Gospel being chanted, I assented to it with complete simplicity.

My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself. Why did I return to it? Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age. Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block: cutting-edge novelists such as Martin Amis; foul-mouthed, self-satisfied TV presenters such as Jonathan Ross and Jo Brand; and the smug, tieless architects of so much television output.

But there is more to it than that. My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known - not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die. The Easter story answers their questions about the spiritual aspects of humanity. It changes people's lives because it helps us understand that we, like Jesus, are born as spiritual beings.

Every inner prompting of conscience, every glimmering sense of beauty, every response we make to music, every experience we have of love - whether of physical love, sexual love, family love or the love of friends - and every experience of bereavement, reminds us of this fact about ourselves.

Ah, say the rationalists. But no one can possibly rise again after death, for that is beyond the realm of scientific possibility. And it is true to say that no one can ever prove - nor, indeed, disprove - the existence of an after-life or God, or answer the conundrums of honest doubters (how does a loving God allow an earthquake in Italy?)

Easter does not answer such questions by clever-clever logic. Nor is it irrational. On the contrary, it meets our reason and our hearts together, for it addresses the whole person.

In the past, I have questioned its veracity and suggested that it should not be taken literally. But the more I read the Easter story, the better it seems to fit and apply to the human condition. That, too, is why I now believe in it. Easter confronts us with a historical event set in time. We are faced with a story of an empty tomb, of a small group of men and women who were at one stage hiding for their lives and at the next were brave enough to face the full judicial persecution of the Roman Empire and proclaim their belief in a risen Christ.

Historians of Roman and Jewish law have argued at length about the details of Jesus's trial - and just how historical the Gospel accounts are. Anyone who believes in the truth must heed the fine points that such scholars unearth. But at this distance of time, there is never going to be historical evidence one way or the other that could dissolve or sustain faith. Of course, only hard evidence will satisfy the secularists, but over time and after repeated readings of the story, I've been convinced without it.

And in contrast to those ephemeral pundits of today, I have as my companions in belief such Christians as Dostoevsky, T. S. Eliot, Samuel Johnson and all the saints, known and unknown, throughout the ages. When that great saint Thomas More, Chancellor of England, was on trial for his life for daring to defy Henry VIII, one of his prosecutors asked him if it did not worry him that he was standing out against all the bishops of England. He replied: 'My lord, for one bishop of your opinion, I have a hundred saints of mine.'

Now, I think of that exchange and of his bravery in proclaiming his faith. Our bishops and theologians, frightened as they have been by the pounding of secularist guns, need that kind of bravery more than ever. Sadly, they have all but accepted that only stupid people actually believe in Christianity, and that the few intelligent people left in the churches are there only for the music or believe it all in some symbolic or contorted way which, when examined, turns out not to be belief after all.

As a matter of fact, I am sure the opposite is the case and that materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational. Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat.

The Resurrection, which proclaims that matter and spirit are mysteriously conjoined, is the ultimate key to who we are. It confronts us with an extraordinarily haunting story. J. S. Bach believed the story, and set it to music. Most of the greatest writers and thinkers of the past 1,500 years have believed it.

But an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives - the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman or child next to you in church tomorrow morning.


Pirates Test the ‘Rule of Law’

To be civilized, we must be strong.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

When Somali Muslim pirates raided the Alabama on Wednesday, the U.S.-flagged cargo ship was cruising the Indian Ocean en route to Mombassa. The 21 Americans in the crew were trying to deliver tons of food and other agricultural materials for the World Food Program, to be distributed among destitute Muslims in that Kenyan port city, and beyond.

“Hearts and minds” — that has been the theme music of the anti-anti-terrorism chorus for eight years. George W. Bush freed 50 million Muslims from tyranny and gave them a chance to make better lives even as the rigors of doing so devoured his presidency — all the while launching, for Africa, the most generously funded program for AIDS prevention and treatment in history. For his trouble, he was branded an unfeeling, unilateralist cowboy by Democrats and the international Left, the erstwhile champions of nation-building and universal health care.

His successor has been only too quick to cement the slander. When not bowing to the Saudi monarch (admittedly, only slightly more nauseating than Bush’s “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” jaunt with His Oil Highness), Pres. Barack Obama bleated across Europe that America has been “arrogant.” By his lights, our actions since 9/11 (which include writing constitutions for Iraq and Afghanistan that enshrined sharia, the Muslim legal code, as governing law) have suggested we are “at war with Islam.”

For Barack Obama, hearts and minds are about Barack Obama — things to be fondly turned to him at the expense of a country that does more for human rights, and more for Muslims, than any nation has ever done. Indeed, Obama’s signature (and thankfully failed) legislative proposal during his short warm-up act in the Senate was the “Global Poverty” bill, a trillion-dollar redistribution from the American taxpayer to the “international community.” Back then, Senator Obama chided his countrymen for not doing their part while the lavish American foreign-aid spigot — far and away the world’s most munificent — poured out the perennial $21 billion, not counting additional billions in emergency military expeditions to aid victims of earthquake, tsunami, and war.

But as the hearts-and-minds game goes on, the “international community” on the receiving end stands unimpressed as ever. Turns out it’s a jungle out there. What impresses, as all America’s enemies from the Barbary pirates through Osama bin Laden have always known, is the strong horse against the weak horse. What makes possible global trade, which turns into American wealth, which turns into unparalleled American largesse, is American might — American might and an American commitment to use that might as necessary to ensure a civilized global order.

“Civilized” is a much-misunderstood word, thanks to the “rule of law” crowd that is making our planet an increasingly dangerous place. Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.

There is nothing less civilized than rewarding evil and thus guaranteeing more of it. High-minded as it is commonly made to sound, it is not civilized to appease evil, to treat it with “dignity and respect,” to rationalize its root causes, to equivocate about whether evil really is evil, and, when all else fails, to ignore it — to purge the very mention of its name — in the vain hope that it will just go away. Evil doesn’t do nuance. It finds you, it tests you, and you either fight it or you’re part of the problem.

The men who founded our country and crafted our Constitution understood this. They understood that the “rule of law” was not a faux-civilized counterweight to the exhibition of might. Might, instead, is the firm underpinning of law and of our civilization. The Constitution explicitly recognized that the United States would have enemies; it provided Congress with the power to raise military forces that would fight them; it made the chief executive the commander-in-chief, concentrating in the presidency all the power the nation could muster to preserve itself by repelling evil. It did not regard evil as having a point of view, much less a right to counsel.

That’s not our position anymore. The scourge of piracy was virtually wiped out in 19th century because its practitioners were regarded as barbarians — enemies of the human race (hostis humani generis, as Bret Stephens recently reminded us in a brilliant Wall Street Journal essay). They derived no comfort from the rule of law, for it was not a mark of civilization to give them comfort. The same is true of unlawful enemy combatants, terrorists who scoffed at the customs of civilized warfare. To regard them as mere criminals, to assume the duty of trying to understand why they would brutalize innocents, to arm them with rights against civilized society, was not civilized.

We don’t see it that way anymore. Evil is now just another negotiation. Pirates and terrorists are better known for their human rights than for their inhuman wrongs. On Thursday, America’s commander-in-chief didn’t want to talk about the pirates — “Guys, we’re talking about housing right now,” he chided a reporter who dared to raise the topic as the Somalis held the American ship’s captain hostage. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, was dispatched to assure the public that the world would come together to deal with this “criminal activity” — a relief if you were wondering whether the naval destroyer on the scene was equipped with Miranda-warning cards.

This is the self-destructive straitjacket for which transnational progressives are fitting us. Indeed, the Law of the Sea Treaty — a compact Obama would commit us to — has hopelessly complicated the rules of engagement under which the pirates have thrived, just as Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions (a treaty Ronald Reagan was prudent enough to reject) has become an offensive weapon for jihadists everywhere. Having harnessed ourselves, we are once again the weak horse.

Except for one thing: The Americans on the Alabama, like the Americans on Flight 93, didn’t wait for the international community to send the pirates a strong letter. They saw evil, they took it on, and as a result they took their ship and their lives back. The president may not think the United States is a particularly exceptional country, but you can bet Islamic radicals on land and sea noticed that dealing with a U.S. crew is an exceptional experience. There remains something in the American character that won’t slide so easily into the straitjacket.


Family of British father stabbed to death by three thugs is denied compensation... because he tried to fight back

Britain's horrible bureaucrats again

The family of a man who was stabbed to death by teenage thugs after he asked them to keep the noise down have been denied compensation - because he tried to fight off his killers. Kevin Johnson, 22, was brutally murdered by the gang who invited him to 'meet Mr Stanley' during a confrontation outside his home moments before plunging a blade into his chest, arm and back. The young father collapsed a few feet from his front door whilst the trio - aged 19, 16 and 17 - ran off in 'triumphant mood' before stabbing their second victim a short distance away.

But after applying for a maximum £11,000 in compensation Mr Johnson's family have been told that they do not meet the criteria as he tried to fight off the gang who took his life. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority has twice rejected John Johnson’s case. They ruled that the demolition worker had 'significantly' contributed to his own death.

Mr Johnson, 57, will now make a last-ditch plea before an independent tribunal this month - almost two years after his son was murdered on his doorstep on the Pennywell estate in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. 'I'm livid. They’ve got no empathy or any regard for us,' he said yesterday. 'The £11,000 is all they value a person's life at. And then you have to fight for it. It’s absolutely disgusting. 'Obviously they just want to keep the costs down for the Government. The criminals get all sorts of help and that’s called human rights. Yet we don’t seem to have any human rights.'

According to the CICA the parents, child, husband, wife or partner of a person who died as a result of a violent crime can claim up to £11,000 for the loss of their life. Yet that figure is dwarfed by the amount paid to an RAF typist last year who injured her thumb at work and was awarded half a million pounds by the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Johnson, who works as a taxi driver, said his case simply highlighted how badly victims' families are treated by the Government. He said he and his wife, Kath, 59, their son's fiancee Adele Brett, 28, and their one year old son, Chaise, were condemned to a life sentence after his death in May 2007. The rejection for compensation had only added to their pain, he added.

Recent figures showed that inmates in British prisons were awarded £6.5million for injuries between 2005 and 2007, for claims including assaults, medical negligence, unlawful detention and sports injuries. Drug-addicted prisoners at some jails received compensation because their human rights were breached when they were denied drugs such as heroin and substitute substances.

Mr Johnson was stabbed to death after he and his fiancee returned home from a night out on May 19, 2007. Woken by raised voices outside he went down to ask the teenagers to keep the noise down. The gang beckoned the father over with their hands, enticing him to come forward. Then they surrounded him. One pulled out a Stanley knife and repeatedly stabbed him until he fell to the floor.

As he lay dying the gang ran off and celebrated by damaging parked cars before stabbing a second man in the chest. The killers - Dean Curtis, 19, Tony Hawkes, 17, and Jordan Towers, 16 - were later jailed for life.

Last night, the CICA said it could not comment on an individual case. However, a spokesman said: 'We consider all available evidence in reaching our decisions, including relevant witness statements. If this evidence shows that a victim’s behaviour contributed significantly to the incident they were involved in then we have to take that into account - but there are safeguards built into our process. 'If an applicant does not think their case was assessed fairly, they can apply to have it reviewed. If the applicant remains unhappy after the review they can have an appeal heard by an independent tribunal.'


Australia: Nutty feminist pays a high price for her hatred of men and modernity

Her addled beliefs cost her baby its life

By Andrew Bolt

I DO not want to make Janet Fraser's grief any worse. But some things must be said to warn other women and spare them such a loss.

Fraser is perhaps Australia's most ferocious advocate of home births. In fact, as national convenor of Joyous Birth, she demands not just births free of hospitals, but births free of drugs and evil doctors, too. Her spiel mixes militant feminism and a green age's worship of Earth Mother: "In a woman-hating society obsessed with the control and regulation of women's bodies, choosing to birth at home makes a crucial statement of withdrawal from patriarchy." Medical intervention to help the baby or spare the mother is "birthrape", and obstetricians are warned: "When you rupture those membranes . . . even when the woman screams no, that's rape." Joyous Birth's 1000 members are even urged by its website to scrawl on hospital walls "Episiotomy is genital mutilation" and "Did your rapist wear a mask and gown?"

But three weeks ago, an Age reporter rang Fraser at her Sydney home to interview her for a story that appeared in the paper on March 22 and started: Janet Fraser is in labour. Her plan is to drop the baby on the lounge room floor, or wherever feels good at the time. Has she called the hospital to let them know what's happening? "When you go on a skiing trip, do you call the hospital to say, 'I'm coming down the mountain, can you set aside a spot for me in the emergency room?' I don't think so," says Fraser, whose breathing sounds strained.

Fraser told the journalist she'd not once in her pregnancy seen a doctor, even though her eldest child was delivered by emergency caesarean. Her breathing may have been hard, but she boasted: "I could do this for days." Deeper in the article was this ominous line: "At the time of publication, Ms Fraser's labour was continuing to progress slowly."

In fact, for some five days after that story appeared Fraser struggled at home to give birth. By her side were, reportedly, just her partner and a friend. And if she'd taken her website's advice, her only drugs were "Emergency Essence and other flower essences or homeopathics as desired".

On March 27 an ambulance was called at last. But too late for her baby.

You may well dismiss this ghastly tragedy as a one-off, typical of nothing. While Sydney's Westmead Hospital says four other babies have died in home births in western Sydney alone in just eight months, you may argue that babies die in hospitals, too. Right? You might even argue that the one or two extra deaths for every 1000 home births are a small price to pay for the joy of delivering a baby in a plastic swimming pool slopping in your lounge. And since only .25 per cent of Australian babies are born at home, most times with a trained midwife on hand, who'd whisk mother and child to hospital if needed, why this fuss?

Yet this case is indeed symbolic - of a demonisation of Western medicine (the flower of Western civilisation), and of a growing tide of irrationality. Fraser's "free birth" movement is just the most extreme manifestation of a cult of "natural" birth that forces so many women to endure unnecessary birth agonies for no good reason.

British home-birth guru Sheila Kitzinger is its priestess, touring here to scare pregnant women into believing only a "natural" birth is a good birth, and the best birth is at home. Say no to drugs. Say no to caesareans. Wave away that epidural. Experience pain as bliss, because only then will you truly connect to birth and baby.

Somehow drowned in this "omm-ing" (popular in new mothers' groups where organic soy-milk coffee is served) is the fact that the whole point of giving birth is to produce a healthy baby and mum. Modern medicine has actually improved those odds dramatically since the days when one woman in 10 would die in labour. That's why all those machines and drugs, ladies. As for the pain relief, why not insist on a "natural" tooth extraction as well? What is so sacred about pain?

But this unreason has spread far beyond the maternity ward. We've had a Sydney coroner investigate why a girl dying of infection was treated by her parents with homeopathy rather than Western drugs that would have saved her. In Melbourne, a coroner investigated the death of a toddler whose epilepsy was likewise treated with homeopathy, and then of a Melbourne man who sweated to death in a "North American Indian" purification ritual.

Again you'll object: every society has a few irrational people, so what's new? Yet what is new is that we institutionalise unreason now, pandering to what we must resist. Take the homeopathy favoured by Fraser. The Lancet medical journal says not one study has proved the worth of a "therapy" based on a theory that a little of what kills you makes you stronger. Despite that, taxpayer-funded TAFE colleges teach homeopathy as science. Victoria University until recently offered bachelor degrees in naturopathy and homeopathy, covering "vibrational medicine" and "the metaphysical".

EVEN crazier, VicHealth gave women in Ouyen $7000 to hold a naked rain dance. And home birth activists, even interviewed mid-way through a tragic labour, still get a good press. Just pray now that the Rudd Government's maternal services review will at least refuse demands that home births be covered by Medicare.

But when unreason is so on the hoof that millions of us believe man is heating the world to hell, despite no rise in temperatures since at least 2002, what hope that reason will triumph? What hope, when even children now die of our superstitions?



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The truth behind the Easter message

Critics of the Christian faith would have us believe there is nothing true or good about Good Friday, the traditional commemoration of Jesus's death by crucifixion. But you can be sure that the symbol of the cross will continue to provide solace and joy for millions the world over.

On the face of it, there is little to commend the traditional Easter story. There's blood, brutality, a body entombed, and the bizarre claim of a resurrected corpse. Then there is the, for some, repulsive idea that Jesus died "for our sins". Surely, such a macabre third-party pay-off to a vengeful deity should be denounced as barbaric. It's no wonder someone invented the Easter Bunny as a diversion.

Enter the New Atheists, so called, I think, to distinguish them from the grumpy, Bertrand Russell-style atheism of yesteryear. They have ridiculed beyond belief (literally) the Easter slogan that "Jesus died as a sacrifice for sins". Richard Dawkins, former Oxford professor and author of The God Delusion, scoffs, "It is vicious, sado-masochistic and repellent." And, in a daring piece of historical commentary, he insists that it was not even taught by Jesus himself, but was rather invented later by the apostle Paul. We should therefore "dismiss the idea as barking mad. If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them?"

Others go further, questioning even the events themselves. The French philosopher and author of The Atheist Manifesto, Michel Onfray, says: "History again bears witness at that time Jews were not crucified but stoned to death." And even if such an improbable crucifixion had taken place, "there was no question of bodies being laid to rest in tombs." Why? Because "like all other such victims, the remains were thrown into a common grave."

Bold statements indeed. If true, Christians should cancel today's Good Friday services and head to the beach instead.

But let's start with something easy: the history. The claim that crucifixion victims were never buried, as the Gospels say Jesus was, is a simple exaggeration of a partial truth. It was usual to throw the corpses of criminals into shallow graves as a final act of humiliation. What Onfray does not know, however, is that things were frequently different in Palestine. The 1st-century Jewish writer Josephus says: "The Jews are so careful about funeral rites that even malefactors who have been sentenced to crucifixion are taken down and buried before sunset."

Two undertaker contracts for funerals of crucifixion victims have also been found. Both date from the first century.

More striking is Onfray's inexplicable falsehood about Jews not being crucified in this period. They were stoned, he assures us. But all students of Roman history know that it would have been closer to the mark to say Jews were among the most crucified people in antiquity. Literally thousands of Jewish crucifixions are known to us from contemporary sources, Josephus, Philo, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and others. And archaeological remains of ancient crucifixion were discovered in 1968 in Jerusalem in a Jewish tomb. The 11-centimetre nail through the heel bone, complete with olive wood attached, indicated the method of execution, and the discovery further confirms the proper burial of some such victims.

Leaving aside the utterly improbable scenario that the Gospel writers might have invented the story about their beloved master meeting the most shameful of ancient deaths, the specific testimony of Josephus about Jesus is unavoidable. "Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross." Jesus's death by crucifixion is about as close to a certainty as an ancient historian can hope for and only an arbitrary kind of scepticism can suggest otherwise.

The fact that Onfray, a full professor of philosophy, can so obviously misrepresent things in service of his atheism tells us that unbelief can sometimes be just as dogmatic and unyielding to the facts as the Christian fundamentalism the New Atheists so despise. More than rational reflection is driving the resurgent scepticism of recent years.

But what of Dawkins's aesthetic complaints about Jesus's death for sins? First, he is wrong to say that Paul invented the idea. Sacrificial atonement was a central part of Judaism centuries before Paul and Jesus. It was only abandoned after the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD, thereby making defunct the sacrificial system. Before this catastrophe, the sacrifice of animals - usually eaten later - was a regular part of temple life. It was a bloody public reminder of the seriousness of wrongdoing and the possibility of atonement. Admittedly, this sounds like an odd custom in our modern context because, butchers and abattoir workers aside, our lives tend to be sanitised from blood and death.

The point is, the notion of sacrifice for sins was a normal part of life for Jesus's 1st-century audience. We cannot pass this awkward idea off as an invention of later Christians; Jesus the Jew is to blame. His statement at the Last Supper, widely accepted as one of the most reliably preserved statements of earliest Christianity, clearly reflects the sacrificial theme: "This is my body given for you … This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."

Love it or hate it, the evidence that Jesus thought of his impending death as an atonement for sins is strong.

Was Jesus "barking mad" to think this way? Why indeed doesn't God simply forgive sins without atonement? The answer of Judaism before 70 AD, and of Christians ever since, is clear.

It is for the same reason that we would be outraged if a judge let a convicted criminal off the hook simply because it turned out he was his friend. Love and justice both matter in the Christian vision of God. And lest we think of this as some kind of cosmic child abuse - a father punishing a son for someone else's wrongs - we should remember that from the beginning Christians insisted that Jesus was not a third party forced into an atoning death; he was God.

We may not like this idea either, but if we're going to dismiss the Christian idea of atonement, we have to do so on its own terms, as an entire package. The first Christians said that God, the wronged party, entered the world and bore the punishment wrong-doers deserve. It was as if the judge paid the fine that was another's due. There is nothing "sadomasochistic" about this. The idea belongs to the noble tradition of self-sacrifice for the good of others.

At the ANU a couple of years ago, as I was preparing a lecture on Jesus's death, I read a story in The Canberra Times . A Melbourne woman, Kimberley Dear, was set to fulfil a life ambition by taking skydiving lessons while on holidays in Missouri. The plane she was in lost power, and started careering towards the ground. Her instructor, 22-year-old Robert Cook, responded instantly.

He took hold of her and calmly talked her through what would happen next. "As the plane is about to hit the ground, make sure you're on top of me so that I'll take the force of the impact," he said. They crashed. Several died, including Cook. Kimberley survived.

From hospital, she reported that in the final seconds she felt Cook swivel his body into position as he pushed her head against his shoulder to cushion the blow. Kimberley's sister, Tracey, voiced her gratitude and astonishment at his sacrificial act. "He met Kimberley … that day. I would do that for her but I can't believe that a stranger who just met her would knowingly give up his life for her."

I have never been a fan of attempts - my own included - to illustrate the meaning of Jesus's death by way of modern stories. There is a danger of trivialising one or the other. But when I read of Robert Cook's actions, I could not help but think of the noble tradition of self-sacrifice and of Jesus's words at his Last Supper: "My body given for you."

Understood this way, it is no wonder that the cross, once an instrument of Roman brutality, became a symbol of love for millions throughout the world.


God Still Isn't Dead, not in America anyway

The decline of religion in America has been predicted again and again

America was famously founded by companies and churches. The woes of American capitalism are well known: Wall Street is a synonym for excess and greed around the world, and Detroit is tottering on the edge of bankruptcy. But just as its temples to Mammon are under fire, so suddenly are its churches to God.

With Easter week upon us, Newsweek's April 13 cover proclaims "The Decline and Fall of Christian America." The new American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) shows that the proportion of Americans who claim to have no religion has increased to 15% today from 8.2% in 1990. The Christian right has lost yet another battle, this time in the heartland state of Iowa, with its Supreme Court voting unanimously to legalize gay marriage. The proportion of Americans who think that religion "can answer all or most of today's problems" is now at a historic low of 48%.

America has long stood out among developed countries for its religiosity. This has less to do with innate godliness than with the free market created by the First Amendment. Pre-Revolutionary America was not that religious, because the original Puritans were swamped by less wholesome adventurers -- in Salem, Mass., the setting for "The Crucible," 83% of taxpayers by 1683 confessed to no religious identification.

America became religious after the Constitution separated church from state, thus ensuring that religious denominations could only survive if they got souls into pews. While state-sponsored religion withered in Europe, American faith has been a hive of activity: from the Methodists, who converted close to an eighth of the country in the half century after the Revolution, to the modern megachurches.

Has this model really run out of steam? Betting against American religion has always proved to be a fool's game. In 1880, Robert Ingersoll, the leading atheist of his day, claimed that "the churches are dying out all over the land." In its Easter issue in 1966, Time asked "Is God Dead?" on its cover. East Coast intellectuals have repeatedly assumed that the European model of progress, where modernity equals secularization, would come to the U.S. They have always been wrong.

Look closer and the new poll numbers are not quite as simple as headlines suggest. For one thing, they show that America remains remarkably religious by the standards of other advanced countries -- with three-quarters of the country still firmly Christian. And a significant number of Americans are becoming more godly, not less so: The increase in the number of atheists is going hand in hand with ever more conservative Christians and Pentecostals.

Religion, like everything else, is polarizing, with the faithful more willing to call themselves "born again" and doubters more willing to call themselves unbelievers or atheists. George W. Bush may have been a factor: Many of the unbelievers are less worried about religion per se as about the fusion of religion and political power in the form of the new right. A fifth of the "atheists" in a recent Pew Survey said that they believed in God, a semantic confusion rich in meaning.

The polling numbers actually underline the strength of the nation's pluralism. More than one in four Americans have swapped religions. Americans harbor a powerful distaste for religious establishments, seeing faith as something that they should choose rather than inherit. More than ever, they mix and match spiritual traditions. In other words, the forces that made America such a uniquely religious country, competition and choice, are working as powerfully as ever. In the American model, modernity goes with pluralism.

Most of the evidence from the ground indicates that the American religious marketplace remains vibrant. The biggest megachurches attract tens of thousands of people. There is plenty of data to show that the turmoil of modernity stimulates demand for religion. The churches act both as a storm shelter for people who feel overwhelmed by social change and a community for people who feel atomized. Above all, there is the search for spiritual meaning that has haunted man through the ages. The forces that drove the young Barack Obama to find purpose in a Chicago church will keep on occurring.

Meanwhile, the supply seems as plentiful as ever. Religion, no less than software or politics, is a competitive business, where organization and entrepreneurship count. Religious America is led by a series of highly inventive "pastorpreneurs" -- men like Bill Hybels of Willow Creek or Rick Warren of Saddleback. These are far more sober, thoughtful characters than the schlock-and-scandal televangelists of the 1970s, but they are not afraid to use modern business methods to get God's message across.

Mr. Hybels's immaculately organized church employs several hundred staff, and the church has both its own mission statement and its own consulting arm. Mr. Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life" has sold almost 30 million copies, with the author comparing his purpose driven formula to an Intel operating chip that other churches can use.

The real strength of religious America lies in its diversity. There are more than 200 religious traditions in America, with 20 different sorts of Baptists alone. Religious America is remarkably good at segmenting its customer base: There are services for bikers, gays and dropouts (the Scum of the Earth Church in Denver); Bibles for cowboys, brides, soldiers and rap artists ("Even though I walk through/The hood of death/I don't back down/for You have my back"); and even theme parks for every faith. This Holy Week you can visit the Golgotha Fun Park in Cave City, Ky., or the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Ala., which includes a mini-version of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Looked at from a celestial perspective, the American model of religion, far from retreating, is going global. Pastorpreneurs are taking their message around the world. In Latin America, Pentecostalism has disrupted the Catholic Church's monopoly. Already five of the world's 10 biggest churches are in South Korea: Yoido Full Gospel Church, which has 800,000 members, is a rival in terms of organization for anything Messrs. Warren and Hybels can offer. China is the latest great convert. There are probably close to 100 million Christians in China, most of them following a very individualistic American-style faith. Already more people attend church each Sunday than are members of the Communist Party. China will soon be the world's biggest Christian country and also possibly its biggest Muslim one.

The Christian right has certainly stirred up an angry reaction to its attempt to marry religion to political power. But it would be a mistake to regard this reaction as evidence that America is losing its religion.


Defamations galore

What sort of reputation does your religion have? It's Easter, so it's an appropriate moment to ask - assuming you've got a religion.

The issue is scheduled for a good airing in Geneva in a week's time at a conference known as Durban II, a follow-up to an international chin-wag held in South Africa in 2001 with the disciplined title of World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

"Defamation of religion" is the hot topic for this get-together. The body responsible for preparing the conference and for the "outcome document" is the UN Human Rights Council, which is chaired by Libya. Last month the council adopted a resolution proposed by Pakistan. The preamble said that "defamation of religions … could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights".

Further, it expressed concern that "Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism". The resolution went on to emphasise that the right to free expression carried with it "special duties and responsibilities" when it comes to speaking one's mind about religion.

None of this is surprising. The Human Rights Council is just playing along with another outfit, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, an association of 57 states, which has a "built-in" majority on the UN's human rights body.

Behind the diplomatic scenes, there has been a lot of arm-twisting to coax Western nations back into the talkfest. The latest version of the "rolling text", made public by the Russian conference co-ordinator Yuri Boychenko, omits reference to "defamation of religion". Instead it talks of "negative stereotyping of religions … Islamophobia … anti-Semitism … Christianophobia … and Anti-Arabism".

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference is having none of this lily-livered stuff and wants "defamation of religion" firmly on the Durban II agenda. It's sure to be a fun five days in Geneva.

Which gets us to the point of whether religions have "feelings" that can be hurt, the usual underpinning requirement of being defamed.

Other conference delegates have wondered whether a defence of truth could be applied to religious defamation. This is fraught because it would require the "interpretation and … ranking of religious texts and of religions in order to determine the truthfulness of a purportedly defamatory statement or view".

Perhaps, at the risk of offending 57 Islamic nations, it is best to recognise that defamation of religion is a concept devoid of meaningful content, a bit like religion itself.

If we're seeking categories for this mishmashed concept, it seems to fit more comfortably into the realm of blasphemous libel, a species of criminal defamation, which protects not only personal reputation but the machinery of the state and the state's religion. So how is blasphemous libel going? It has to be said that it's not a busy jurisdiction, and those who hoped for a flourishing practice doing these sorts of cases are probably starving.

The Brits got rid of it by statute in 2008, but it sort of lives on in Australia.

The last time it came up for some air was in the 1997 Piss Christ case in Victoria. That was the occasion in which the then Roman Catholic archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell, sought to restrain the National Gallery of Victoria from exhibiting a picture of a crucifix that the artist Andres Serrano said had been immersed in his own urine.

In one of the moral guardian cases run by Mary Whitehouse in Britain, the crime was defined as publishing "contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ or the Bible or the formalities of the Church of England".

The court in Victoria didn't give Pell any relief. Usually an inherent component of blasphemous libel is the creation of widespread "social unrest". Justice David Harper could not discover any unrest and even mused that the offence might have "lapsed through desuetude".

In 1979 Lord Scarman in Britain raised the exciting possibility that blasphemous libel be extended "to protect the religious beliefs and feelings of non-Christians". He thought that as it stood it was "shackled by the chains of history". None of which is to suggest that pleas for special reputational protection made by all sorts of interest groups, communities, tribes and individuals is a receding development.

Far from it. The Jewish Anti-Defamation League, originally founded in the US in 1913, is flourishing in many places around the world. Its mission is "to stop the defamation of the Jewish people".

Jewish defamation is not defined, but one early manifestation of what the league may be fighting is something called "blood libel". This term arose as recently as the Middle Ages and described the abduction and killing of the children of Christians and not only drinking their blood but using it for making matzoh.

Then there is the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, another US non-profit organisation with a wide and fuzzy brief. Not to be outdone, there is also a Christian Anti-Defamation League, and hence the concept of Christian defamation.

Understandably, others want to clamber on the bandwagon. The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies published an article in February that questioned why there isn't something called "defamation of science" where there could be more concentrated efforts to press for the banning of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In the process, the claims of the intelligent design people could also be criminalised.

My very own favourite development came the other day in London. The Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, who recently bought the newspaper The Evening Standard, says he plans to sue Forbes magazine for understating his wealth in its Rich List. Lebedev said, "I will demand compensation of material and moral damage".

Moral defamation, a whole new game. It just goes to show that there are libels lurking everywhere.


Australia: Dad who used strap on son, 9, 'crossed the line'

Another attempt by judges to thwart the decisions of the elected government

A SUNSHINE Coast magistrate's court has ruled that a father who took a strap to the legs of his nine-year-old son crossed the line. Maroochydore magistrate John Hodgins, sentencing the 32-year-old father to 12 months' probation, said such discipline had no place in the modern world. Mr Hodgins told the farmer, who had beaten the legs of his son who refused to attend swimming lessons or wear a seatbelt on the school bus, that it was no longer acceptable to "rely on role models from previous generations".

But Mr Hodgins agreed community opinion on physical discipline for children was still divided and sympathised with the father over the difficulties of parenting.

The assault, which left the child bruised, drew fire from the Australian Childhood Foundation, which said physical attacks on children must be treated as seriously as any other assault in the community. "In fact, the child should be afforded greater protection because of their greater developmental vulnerability," foundation CEO Joe Tucci said. Dr Tucci has urged the State Government to outlaw all physical punishment on children, a course which Premier Anna Bligh has ruled out despite an affirmative vote on the issue at the ALP's state conference last year.

The father of four, who had been disciplined with a strap as a child, had taken numerous other steps to discipline his boy short of physical punishment, the court was told. The father spoke to the boy every morning before school and "took away treasured items in an effort to make him behave". But when the boy continued to refuse to wear a seatbelt and failed to go to a swimming lesson, the father strapped him across the legs up to five times.

"The child had ignored him on the afternoon of the offence," said Senior Sergeant Tony Hurley, prosecuting. "He (the father) wanted him to listen for once."

The boy's teachers saw the welts and contacted authorities, who have temporarily removed the boy from his parents' care. The father, who did not have a history of violence, readily acknowledged he had "gone too far".

Mr Hodgins said probation would allow the man to receive assistance.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, April 10, 2009

Australia: The chapel without a crucifix

But a separate Muslim prayer room is OK

THE home of God at Royal North Shore hospital has fallen victim to a higher power - the State Government bureaucracy. The Mosman Daily has learnt that crucifixes, Bibles and all other Christian symbols are banned inside the hospital's chapel when it is not being used for a church service. The move, ordered by senior staff, is to avoid offending Muslims, Hindus or other non-Christian believers who may want to pray in the chapel.

Hospital staff say that while the chapel was built for Christians, they now want the chapel to be completely non-denominational. An inspection of the chapel last week by the Daily found no trace of a crucifix or any other religious symbol inside the chapel. The Daily has been told that church leaders must bring their own symbols to use in a service.

The chapel building also contains a separate Muslim prayer room.

Mosman Mayor Dom Lopez, a devout Catholic, said he was "outraged" to discover the rule when he was recently undergoing treatment at the hospital for bowel cancer. "When I was first told it I didn't believe it," Cr Lopez said. "When I was recovering, the Catholic priest came to see me and said, `It is true all the crosses are gone, somebody said we have to be a non-denomination church'. "That's just not right, it was built as a Christian chapel, now they (church leaders) have all to take all those things with them."

North Shore Liberal MP and Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said the decision was "bureaucratic madness". "It's crazy, absolutely crazy," she said. "I bet there was no pressure from the Muslim community, the Jews or anyone - it's just silly bureaucrats." Mrs Skinner said visitors to the chapel needed all the strength they could get and that symbols of God would provide that. "I actually think it's offensive to all faiths (and) it is silly bureaucratic rules," she said.

Cr Lopez agreed. "They have completely disenfranchised a Christian chapel," he said. "Being a Christian, I find a lot of power in prayer and I think a lot of people do whether they are Muslim, Jewish or whatever."

A hospital spokeswoman said the rule change came after "the chapel was enhanced with the provision of a Muslim prayer space in the loft area". "At that time the decision was made to display the symbols of each faith, for example the chapel's cross and Bible, during specific services and ceremonies only," she said. "These important religious symbols are appropriately stored and used regularly. This decision was made out of respect for the many faiths that make up both the hospital and also the modern Australian community."


Are boys naturally violent?

Is the impulse to play with guns natural? Do boys naturally go through a violent stage, that they eventually grow out of? Times writer Anjana Ahuja visits Alpha Mummy with her view:

You don’t have to thrust a plastic gun into the hand of a toddler to teach him about violence. He is perfectly capable of fashioning, and deploying, his own weapons from the stuff around him. Branches become swords, remote controls are transformed into death sabres, saucepan lids are magicked into trusty shields.

In fact, a toddler intent on waging war, often against an invisible enemy, is an awe-inspiring vision of energy, resourcefulness, creativity and imagination. And yet, to my reckoning, such behaviour is in danger of becoming pathologised. Several mothers at my daughter’s school have stopped going to the local playground because the play has become a bit rough. This includes waving broken branches around (“it could poke someone in the eye”), tearing around at high speed (“someone could get knocked over”) and shouting at younger children (“bullying”).

When a parent explained this to me, I returned an analysis of the situation: yes, there is one boy in this gang of terrors that might have behavioural problems, but they are just young boys letting off steam after a day in the classroom. Boys are a bit more rough and tumble than our girls, I shrugged, and we can always intervene if things go awry.

I might as well have admitted to having had Pol Pot over for dinner.

Attempting to cleanse our playgrounds of aggression is a pointless and, quite possibly, harmful pursuit. I can completely understand why parents want to do it: you fear that someone is going to get hurt, that to not intervene is to sanction violence, that a child who learns violence will perpetuate it later in life. But, for the most part, the kids in the playground are not products of broken homes. They do not share the squalid backgrounds of the brothers in the Doncaster village, accused of torturing two boys and leaving one for dead.

Our playground nemeses are nice, middle-class children, boisterous rather than brutalised, and careless rather than calculatingly cruel. By waving broken branches around, they are exploring the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. In the course of their waving, they might whack a child accidentally. In which case, the whacker must deal with the consequences of what he has done. The whackee, meanwhile, learns to articulate his displeasure, and perhaps demand redress. And so, sometimes with the assistance of fretful parents, the two children learn the art of conflict resolution.

As we know, the brain learns from experience, rewiring itself and maturing with every new encounter. Each playground battle is grist to the neurological mill, setting us up for adult life as thinking, moral beings who have empathy with, and awareness of, other people.

The issue of aggression, especially the fondness of pretend guns by little boys, is sewn into many a thread on parent blogs (see, for example, this one). Mothers, especially, worry about their sons playing with guns (girls appear not to have the same gun-toting urge). The overwhelming response from other parents is: don’t worry about it because everyone little boy seems to go through it and then grow out of it. There is also much advice suggesting such play is not forbidden, so as not to turn guns into a source of illicit curiosity (and, as one gun-banning parent noted, her enterprising son simply chewed his sandwich into the shape of a pistol).

And, somewhere in that thread, lies a piece of wisdom, courtesy of Kathy, who observes: “Play is really the way that they (children) figure everything out.” Play is learning. That is not to say that play should never be policed: but a parent can judge when their child’s curiosity crosses over into unhealthy obsession.

By definition, children who do not push the boundaries - who do not even press their noses up against the fence of social norms - don’t learn by experience. They will dutifully obey their parents, and not even bother to pick up that torn branch. They don’t explore what it’s like to transgress; they never feel the shame of reprimand burning on their cheeks. In other words, they are not really learning. Personally speaking, I’d rather those kids wielded a broken branch in childhood and learned early, than picked up a Beretta in adolescence.


Newsweak Should Focus Upon Decline in Objective Journalism Rather Than the Decline of Christianity

By Bob McCarty

The cover of the April 13 issue of Newsweek uses seven words — THE DECLINE AND FALL OF CHRISTIAN AMERICA — laid out in the shape of a cross to create a sense of drama aimed at enticing readers. Unfortunately, the 4,200-word article says more about the decline of objective journalism than it does about the faith of Americans.

While highlighting the month-old findings of the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., Jon Meacham took liberties with the subject matter and injected his opinions on several occasions.

Perhaps the most-egregious example appears in the article’s fifth paragraph where Meacham writes: "The decline and fall of the modern religious right’s notion of a Christian America creates a calmer political environment and, for many believers, may help open the way for a more theologically serious religious life".

Based on that statement, I’m willing to wager Meacham also believes — and wrongly, I might add — that the Fairness Doctrine is a good thing and that the Constitution contains clear language requiring the separation of church and state.

I’m also interested in how Meacham might explain the “calmer political environment” that spawned the Tea Party Movement sweeping the country. Anyone who’s attended a tea party will vouch for the fact that attendees are anything but calm when it comes to the damage that’s been done to our nation during President Barack Obama’s first 100 days.

Perhaps instead of chronicling the decline of Christianity, Meacham and his colleagues at Newsweek should focus upon the world of journalism — specifically, objective journalism — where a much more precipitous decline is evident.

For a more objective report on the survey, read my post about it published March 9.

UPDATE: The Daily Derelict writes that when you take out the words “Christianity” or “Christians” and replacing them with “journalism,” “newspaper readers” or “newspapers,” and it really doesn’t change the facts in the Newsweek story.


An example of why some jurisdictions (including Australia) now have parental alienation laws

A MOTHER who gave her three young children a drink she called "truth Coke" every time they returned from a visit with their father has lost custody of them. The drink, which was ordinary soft drink, was part of a bizarre ritual she subjected them to which included being questioned, bathed and having photographs taken, the New South Wales Family Court has heard.

She once paraded poster-sized photographs of bruised body parts of her children, including their genitals, outside the local post office with a large sign that said: "Don't support child abuse." She also threatened to put the photographs on YouTube.

The mother, 48, built up a dossier of allegations against her ex-husband in what had been a long and sad court tussle, including that he set his dogs on them, made them live in a shed and refused to feed them on Christmas Day. "She is utterly fixed in her view that bruises on the children are as a result of their father's physical abuse," Justice Linda Dessau said. "She does not entertain, see, or hear innocent explanations," the judge said, adding that none of the mother's allegations against the father had been substantiated.

After five years of living with their mother since the marriage ended, the judge ordered that the children, aged 11, 9 and 7, live with their father, 48, a farmer. She banned the mother from going to his property or parking on surrounding roads after hearing her claims were becoming more exaggerated and she was either delusional or vexatious.

The mother even told the court her ex-husband had been on a TV talent quest recently and had called himself a "loser" and was angry because he failed at the first show, when he had actually made the next round.

Her other unfounded claims included that their father suffered Asperger's Syndrome, locked the children in a dairy alone, had no electricity, fridge, television, telephone, hot water or toilet paper. She also said he made them drink only water and pick their own apples, and on Christmas Day had refused to feed them.

"There is abundant evidence these children are continually questioned and the mother undertakes something like a forensic analysis of their time with their father," the judge said. "I am satisfied the children do not face the risks in the father's case as the mother claims. The father's concern the children are being emotionally abused in the mother's care is well-founded."

The case was in court because the mother wanted to move six hours away with 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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Australia: Outrageous triumph of ideology over reality and custom

Spanking costs dad his daughter

A man who smacked his five-year-old daughter with a belt after she stole money has been fined $1000 and had her removed from his custody. The 42-year-old man pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault charge in Darwin Magistrates Court yesterday. The court heard he took a black leather belt from his bedroom, folded it over and hit the girl four times on the bottom with it when she would not tell him where she got the money from. She was walking strangely to stop the $2.10 in coins making a noise in her pocket after the man picked her up from school last month.

The court heard the girl and her father had a "wonderful" relationship. The court was also told the man had two older sons who lived with him at the time, he had recently separated from his partner, and was under stress at work. The girl is now living with a foster carer interstate.

In sentencing the man, magistrate Greg Cavanagh said the assault of the girl was "outrageous". "The trust that is given to adults and to fathers to bring up and nurture their young babies is a very precious thing indeed - the most precious responsibility and trust you'll ever have," he said. "You have abused that trust and you have abused your love of her by giving her a beating."

Mr Cavanagh said that even if the man had been brought up with similar punishments, society no longer accepted it. "In this modern age, physical punishment of children is seen to be barbaric," he said. "I'll bet you she screamed and cried when you did this to her."

The man wiped away tears as Mr Cavanagh sentenced him. He was convicted and fined $1000.


A politician instructs a Cardinal on matters of faith and morals

Beware sarcasm below. The "body" referred to below is the totality of adherents to Catholicism

Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George is probably the brainiest bishop ever appointed on these shores. He ranges easily over the whole Catholic tradition, from its earliest days to the very latest developments in modern Catholic thought. In addition, he has a Ph.D. from Tulane University, where he specialized in American philosophy – figures like James, Royce, and Peirce. The good cardinal also possesses a deep understanding of American culture and has made a special point of studying the difficult questions involved in enculturation of the faith.

In short, he is a man of considerable savoir faire, and also currently serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He made a passing reference at a conference last week about the “extreme embarrassment” caused by the invitation of President Obama to Notre Dame. Lots of attention has been paid to that invitation, but very little to the often quite ugly reaction by Catholics themselves to Church leaders who have spoken out, as happened after the cardinal’s casual remark. That lack of attention is unfortunate because thereby hangs an important tale.

It’s no secret that about two-thirds of American Catholics are such mostly in name only. Quite apart from questions of belief, they are almost entirely non-practicing. Some who are marginally more active seem to have learned about faith and morals from what the late comic Flip Wilson used to call the Church of What’s Happening Now, rather than from the Church of Rome or even Jesus Himself.

If you think I’m exaggerating, take a brief look at Kerry Kennedy’s Being Catholic Now, a highly touted book which, in a series of interviews with American Catholics, generally gives the impression that Jesus was a postmodern American. And that the hierarchy has been trying to keep us from finding out. She, too, is being honored this spring at several Catholic universities.

This is Holy Week, a time when we commemorate our Lord’s passion and death, about which the Church has always invoked the passage from Isaiah, “many were astonished at him – his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men.” Some Catholics, not content to leave poor Jesus or His bishops in peace two millennia later, are still at the old job of disfiguring his image.

In the past few days, Cardinal George had to endure theological instruction from William M. Daley – a businessman and political operative and, yes, a member of that famous Chicago Daley clan, who, like the Kennedys of Massachusetts, have sacrificed so much to spread a better public understanding of Catholicism in our land. Writing in The Chicago Tribune late last week under the headline “Cardinal George, you’re dividing your church,” this tireless worker in the vineyard issued a public reprimand: “I believe that Cardinal George’s stand is an embarrassment to Chicago Catholics, and furthers the divide between the church, its members and the rest of America.”

Since a Chicago Daley believes such a thing, how can the president of the Catholic bishops’ conference and those bishops, who have been trained in Catholic theology and issued a considered statement about honoring culture-of-death politicians, divide the body over matters of faith and morals?

Indeed, Daley points out, in case there was any doubt, that the cardinal and American bishops, in issuing such a restriction, show a “very narrow view of what constitutes morality.” Banning pro-abortion speakers at universities is an attempt to assure that “the students at Catholic universities would hear only from other Catholics – and, even then, only from those who agree with church doctrine on every subject.” Given the closed-minded orthodoxy that reigns at Notre Dame and other Catholic institutions in America, you can appreciate Daley’s point.

And then there’s the cardinal’s greatest sin: mixing religion with politics in commenting on a speaker at a Catholic university. Daley becomes so emotional at this point that he wanders off into a rhetorical thicket from which he emerges with the salutary reminder that America is not a theocracy.

As they say, you cannot make this stuff up.

It’s no great surprise when a political partisan himself divides the body in this way. Only a very simple soul could wander into such deep waters without realizing he’s way in over his head. What is truly astounding, however, is the number of people who wrote in to agree with Daley. Such people have been catechized by the culture to tell you, as if it has been always and everywhere held beyond any dispute, that God is love and therefore accepts everything that a postmodern American progressive accepts – though He is getting really tired of bishops and other Catholics who repeat His actual teachings.

One self-promoting commentator, who shall not get further publicity here, claimed that the reaction of Cardinal George and the other bishops has “more than amply shown how out of touch the bishops are with the culture in which they live.” If so, I say: may their tribe increase.

If Catholicism is to be measured – indeed, all but defined – by our current culture, then what is the point of it, for Catholics or anyone else? If you will not be part of the body, fine. But let’s not confuse the Church with those whose Sunday morning devotion is The New York Times.

Regrettable as such divisions may be for both the Church and the nation, we belong to a Church whose founder drew boundaries and once even said: “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

It’s not something, pace William M. Daley and many others, the Church hierarchy merely made up. No, you can actually look it up.


Ending Israel's conditional legitimacy

Caroline Glick

In the chanceries of Europe, the die has apparently been cast. The time has come to launch an all-out diplomatic war against Israel. That is, the time has come to begin to unravel EU acceptance of Israel's right to exist.

Last Friday, in anticipation of the swearing in of the new Netanyahu government, EU foreign ministers met in Prague and discussed how they would stick it to the Jews. According to media reports, the assembled ministers and diplomats decided that they will freeze the process of upgrading EU relations with Israel until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explicitly commits his government to establishing a Palestinian state and accepts that the only legitimate policy an Israeli government can have is the so-called "two-state solution."

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, reportedly summed up the new approach saying, "There won't be any progress in relations between Israel and the European Union until the Israeli government clarifies its stance on the creation of a Palestinian state." On an operational level, the assembled ministers and diplomats decided to cancel the Israel-EU summit now scheduled for late May until Israel has bowed to Europe's demand.

Europe's decision to launch a preemptive strike against the Netanyahu government even before it was sworn into office on Tuesday came against the backdrop of its growing enthusiasm for opening formal ties with Hamas. As The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday, Europe's diplomatic courtship of the Iranian-sponsored genocidal terror group is being spearheaded by Sweden and Switzerland. But they are far from alone.

Having authorized the opening of talks with Hizbullah, Britain, under Foreign Secretary David Miliband, has indicated support for a Hamas-dominated Hamas-Fatah "unity government" in the Palestinian Authority. France is reportedly using its involvement in the attempts to secure the release of Israeli hostage Gilad Schalit from his Hamas-controlled captors to advance its own bilateral ties to the jihadist group. At last Friday's meeting, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht reportedly also called for Europe to open ties with Hamas.

In its move to isolate Israel - and indeed to treat the only free country in the Middle East as if it is morally and politically inferior to Hamas - the EU reportedly believes that it is acting in concert with the Obama administration.

Since entering office, and increasingly in recent weeks, the Obama administration has been both directly and indirectly signaling that it will adopt a hostile stance toward Netanyahu and his government. Unnamed Democratic congressional and administration sources have been warning Israel through the media that the administration does not accept the Israeli voters' right to set a new agenda for the incoming government that rejects the Olmert-Livni government's subordination of Israel's national interests to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The administration itself has stated through both White House and State Department spokesmen that it is completely committed to the swift establishment of a Palestinian state - regardless of Israel's position on the issue.

Other global policy-shapers have also weighed in. Former British prime minister and current Quartet Middle East mediator Tony Blair has been making daily statements warning of a breach with Israel if the Netanyahu government doesn't fall in line. On Wednesday, for instance, Blair threatened, "There is no alternative to a two-state solution, except the one-state solution. And if there is a one-state solution, there's going to be a big fight."

The Palestinians are enjoying the ride. Last Saturday, Fatah negotiator Saeb Erekat published an op-ed in The Washington Post where he portrayed Netanyahu as more radical than Hamas, and demanded that the US show that it is a true "honest broker" by treating Israel and Palestinian terrorists as moral, political and strategic equals.

Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has also piled on, announcing that he will boycott the Netanyahu government until it falls into line.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the international hysteria over the Netanyahu government is its timing. The calls for Israel's international isolation, the decision to treat Israel as a beyond-the-pale-pariah-nation far worse than Hamas, emerged even before the Netanyahu government was sworn into office. How did this foul state of affairs come about? Why is the Middle East's only democracy being treated worse than North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Hamas and Hizbullah?

THE RESPONSIBILITY for this horrendous state of affairs belongs mainly with Netanyahu's predecessors - former prime minister Ehud Olmert and opposition leader Tzipi Livni. During their tenures in office, Olmert and Livni effectively embraced Israel's enemies' view that unlike the PLO and even Hamas, Israel has no independent right to exist. Indeed, not only did they accept that view, they turned it into the official policy of the government.

Around the time that prime minister Ariel Sharon was felled by a stroke in January 2006, Olmert and Livni began asserting that Israel's very legitimacy is dependent on the rapid establishment of a Palestinian state. For instance, in her speech at the Herzliya conference in January 2006, Livni stated outright that until and unless a Palestinian state is carved out of land currently controlled by Israel, the Jewish state cannot expect for the world to accept its right to exist. Olmert made this point explicitly in a series of media interviews in recent months.

Livni maintained her allegiance to the view that a Palestinian state is more legitimate than Israel when during coalition talks with Netanyahu she stipulated that like the EU and the PLO, she would only accept the legitimacy of the Netanyahu government, and so agree to serve in it, if it accepted the two-state paradigm.

To fully understand the significance of what Livni and Olmert have done, it is necessary to understand the source of the phrase "two-state solution."

The term was created by the PLO. When the PLO discussed the issue, the question under debate was not whether or not to build a Palestinian state, but whether or not to accept the existence of a Jewish state. That is, the debate over whether to accept a "one-state solution" or a "two-state solution" did not revolve around the establishment of a Palestinian state - which would exist no matter what. At issue was whether to accept the existence of Israel. For the Palestinians then, and for supporters of the two-state paradigm like Blair and his European and American cohorts, it is Israel's existence, not the existence of the Palestinian state, that is conditional.

Israel embarked on the road toward accepting the PLO's position when it accepted the legitimacy of the PLO with the launch of the Oslo peace process in 1993. The first time Israel explicitly and formally accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state, however, came only in 2004, with the Sharon government's qualified acceptance of the Middle East Quartet's so-called road map plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

That acceptance was not unconditional. As both the government's reservations and Sharon's repeated statements made clear, Israel would only accept the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state after the Palestinian Authority dismantled all terror groups operating in Palestinian society including its own Fatah terror groups. That is, for the Sharon government, it was the Palestinian state, not the Jewish state, whose legitimacy was contingent on its actions.

The innovation of the Olmert-Livni government was to discard this position. In November 2007, Olmert and Livni enthusiastically signed on to the Annapolis formula for Palestinian statehood, which itself was nothing more than a regurgitation of the PLO's position. Then-US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice extolled the Annapolis formula specifically because it removed the requirement that the Palestinians dismantle all terror groups operating in their territory before receiving statehood. That is, she applauded the fact that at Annapolis, the goal of fostering peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and Israel was supplanted by the establishment of a Palestinian state as the aim of the so-called peace process.

By adopting the so-called the Annapolis "two-state" platform then, the Olmert-Livni government accepted the PLO's position that it is Israel, not the PLO and its sister terror groups, whose legitimacy is contingent on its behavior. It is not the PLO that needs to quit the terror business in order to be acceptable. Israel needs to accept the PLO - and for that matter Hamas - regardless of their behavior if it wishes for anyone to even consider recognizing it.

DUE TO the Olmert-Livni government's unconditional acceptance of the PLO's position, today conditional Israeli acceptance of the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state, along the lines of the Sharon government's conditional acceptance of the road map, is no longer sufficient. Now, as Europe, the US and regional actors are all making clear, Israel must accept that its own right to exist is contingent on the establishment of a Palestinian state - regardless of its character or the identity of the Palestinian leadership. That is, if Israel doesn't accept the legitimacy of a Hamas or Fatah-ruled Palestinian terror state in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza, then it has no right to exist.

This reality, of course, was made clear by the outcry that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's official denunciation of the Annapolis formula on Wednesday induced. Lieberman, after all, did not say anything particularly anti-Palestinian. Indeed, he made clear that the Netanyahu government remains committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

All Lieberman said was that the Netanyahu government will not accept a Palestinian terror state. That is, all he said was that Israel's support for Palestinian statehood is contingent on Palestinian behavior. Additionally, Lieberman correctly pointed out that Israel's own international position has been harmed rather than advanced by its willingness to compromise its positions and accept those of its Palestinian adversaries.

What the outcry at Lieberman's remarks - from both Livni and her domestic supporters, and the international community - makes clear is that it will be exceedingly difficult for the Netanyahu government to walk away from the anti-Israel positions adopted by its immediate predecessor. But it also shows how urgently those positions need to be rejected.

For the past 16 years, from Israel's first acceptance of the PLO as a legitimate actor to Israel's acceptance of the PLO's position that it is the Jewish state rather than the Palestinian state whose legitimacy is conditional, Israel's international position has become ever more tenuous as prospects for peace have become ever more remote. The Netanyahu government was elected to put an end to this disastrous trend. It is heartening to see that straight out of the starting gate, it is working to accomplish this essential task.


The Bush Islamic Doctrine

We were introduced the power of political Islam on September 11, 2001. For a few people 9/11 was a declaration of war against our civilization and those people have been struggling against Islam. It is time to stop and ask: How are we doing? We are losing on every front.

A definition: Kafirs are the non-Muslims who are fighting against Islam. Dhimmis are the apologists for Islam—the media, Obama, George Bush, the professors, preachers, priests, politicians, pundits and rabbis.

Why are the kafirs losing? Because Islam is so strong? No, because we are waging war with a strategy that is destined to fail. We are losing because we using a losing strategy. George Bush planted the seeds of our strategy when he declared that 9/11 was an act of terrorists and he laid out the strategy that would lead to our cultural self-destruction. Here is the Bush Islamic doctrine:

· Islam is a religion similar to Christianity. Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same god.
· The problem is terrorism, not Islam, hence, “The War on Terror.”
· There are moderate Muslims and a few extremist Muslims.
· A good Muslim means that Islam is good.
· “Radicals” cause the violence.
· Islam is found in the Koran.
· The “bad stuff” in the Koran is just how it is interpreted.
· Good Muslims will reform the “terrorists.”

Not a single item is true. Each and every one is false and has no basis in Islamic doctrine. But everybody bought it. Why? For the same reason that Bush said it. It was the academic doctrine of Islam that the Ivy League taught. The media, professors, preachers, priests, politicians, pundits and rabbis had all been taught the same doctrine to interpret Islam. The Bush doctrine is not only unquestioned, but now has achieved the status of revealed truth. To deny it is to be a bigot.

So Bush did not create the doctrine, he was just a spokesman for the elites. There is a great irony in calling it the Bush doctrine, since more progressives/liberals/Leftists/Democrats believe it than do conservatives. Boxer, Reid, Pelosi and Obama are advocates of the Bush doctrine.

Let’s see how the Bush doctrine works to prevent actual learning about the truth of Islam. Take the jihad in Mumbai, India where several Jews and hundreds of Hindus were injured and murdered. The words “Islam” and “Muslims” were barely mentioned by the media. The problem was terrorism, not jihad. The dhimmis did not want to malign the moderate Muslims by bringing up the Islam angle. It was just a few radicals who had highjacked Islam who attacked the kafirs in Mumbai.

How many mindless (mindless on the part of the Christians and Jews) interfaith dialogues have we seen? Religious leaders all get on stage and go on about how they worship the same god. Not one of these so-called Christian and Jewish leaders has actually read the Koran. It is the Koran that defines Allah and if you don’t know what is in it, you don’t know anything about Allah. But not to worry. The Bush doctrine holds it to be true and that is enough. What religious leader has had the time over the last eight years to read the Koran or the life of Mohammed? They have had plenty of time, but they don’t need to do so; they are comforted by the lies of the Bush doctrine.

The Cork in the Bottle

Let’s say that you are talking to a dhimmi and you bring up some evil of Islam. What do they say?

· Christians did bad things, too.
· There is violence in the Bible, too.
· They (jihadis) are some fundamentalist/radical types. All fundamentalists are bad. Most Muslims are just like everybody else.
· The ultimate mind cork: “I know this Muslim at work. He is nice. Subtext: I can’t hear you.” (A good Muslim means that Islam is good.)

Every thrust is parried with the Bush doctrine of Islam. The Bush doctrine is the cork in the bottle. Every time we try to pour some wine of truth into a dhimmi’s head, it is corked by the Bush doctrine.


And how have we responded to the Bush Islamic doctrine? For the most part, we have bought the Bush terror model of Islam. We try to stuff everything into terror/jihad. Since no one likes terror/jihad, it can be condemned. But Islam is very clever. There are four kinds of jihad—sword, pen, tongue and money. If they skip the terror part and go straight to the soft jihad, then the kafirs talking about the terror/jihad approach to Islam are soon ignored. The media skips the terror/jihad now. There have been numerous jihadist events in America, but the FBI and the media never admit that Islam is involved. The worst was Mumbai, India. It was pure jihad, the attack on the Jews proved that, but Islam and the Muslims were never mentioned. No Islam here. Move right along. There is no man behind the curtain.

The terror approach bears a relationship to crying “Wolf!” After while, no one really worries about terror and the lack of it proves that Islam is good.

The major problem with dealing with “terror” is that it takes away from watching the real destructive force in America—Sharia law and the slow Islamification of our culture.

Education and Debate

When you are trying to educate someone about Islam, it helps to go over the Bush doctrine and point out that not a single statement in it is true. Up front, challenge their beliefs.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"Sisterhood" a myth

Catfights over handbags and tears in the toilets. When this producer launched a women-only TV company she thought she'd kissed goodbye to conflict...

Over in one corner sat Alice, a strong-minded 27-year-old who always said what she thought, regardless of how much it might hurt someone else. In the other corner was Sarah, a thirtysomething high-flier who would stand up for herself momentarily - then burst into tears and run for the ladies. Their simmering fight lasted hours, egged on by spectators taking sides and fuelling the anger. Sometimes other girls would join in, either heckling aggressively or huddling defensively in the toilets. It might sound like a scene from a tawdry reality show such as Big Brother, but the truth is a little more prosaic: it was just a normal morning in my office.

The venomous women were supposedly the talented employees I had headhunted to achieve my utopian dream - a female- only company with happy, harmonious workers benefiting from an absence of men. It was an idealistic vision swiftly shattered by the nightmare reality: constant bitchiness, surging hormones, unchecked emotion, attention-seeking and fashion rivalry so fierce it tore my staff apart.

When I read the other day that Sienna Miller had said there was no such thing as 'the Sisterhood', I knew what she meant. I can understand why people want to believe that women look out for each other - because with men in power at work and in politics, it makes sense for us to stick together. In fact, there was a time when I believed in the Sisterhood - but that was before women at war led to my emotional and financial ruin.

Five years ago, I was working as a TV executive producer making shows for top channels such as MTV, and based in Los Angeles. It sounds like a dream job and it could have been - if I'd been male. Working in TV is notoriously difficult for women. There is a powerful old boys' network, robust glass ceiling and the majority of bosses are misogynistic males.

Gradually, what had started out as a daydream - wouldn't it be great if there were no men where I worked? - turned into an exciting concept. I decided to create the first all-female production company where smart, intelligent, career-orientated women could work harmoniously, free from the bravado of the opposite sex.

In hindsight, I should have learned the lessons of my past - at my mixed secondary school I was bullied by a gang of nasty, name-calling girls, so I knew only too well how nasty groups of women could become. And working in TV, I'd met lots of super-competitive 'door-slammers' who'd do anything to get to the top. But I told myself that, with the right women, work could be wonderful.

So, in April 2005, I left my job, remortgaged my house - freeing up close to £100,000 - and began paying myself just £700 a month to set up this utopian business. Having worked extremely hard for 12 years, I had lots of experience and a good reputation. What could go wrong? I hired a team of seven staff and set up an office in Richmond upon Thames, Surrey. While the women I interviewed claimed to be enthused by the idea, they still insisted on high salaries. Fair enough, I thought at the time - they are professionals, and I knew most of them were talented and conscientious because I'd worked with them before.

But within a week, two cliques had developed: those who had worked together before and those who were producing 'new ideas'. Most days would bring a pointed moment when some people were invited out for lunch or a coffee break - and some weren't. Nothing explicit was ever said; the cutting rejection was obvious enough. Even when we all went to the pub after work, strict divisions remained, made clear according to who sat where around the table and who would be civil - or not - to whom.

Fashion was a great divider, though in this battlefield everyone was on their own. Hideously stereotypical and shallow as it sounds, clothes were a huge source of catty comments, from sly remarks about people looking over-dressed to the merits of their fake tan application. I always felt sorry for anyone who naively showed off a new purchase in the office, because everyone would coo appreciatively to their face - then harshly criticise them as soon as they were out of earshot. This happened without exception.

My deputy, Sarah, the general manager, first showed how much style mattered when she advertised for an office assistant and refused to hire the best-qualified girl because she could not distinguish Missoni from Marc Jacobs. This girl would have been making tea and running errands. But I didn't challenge the decision not to hire her because I had a policy of picking my battles carefully. The office was like a Milan catwalk, but with the competitiveness of a Miss World contest - and the low cunning of a mud-wrestling bout.

A fashion spat ended one friendship when Sarah and our young development researcher received the same surprise Christmas gift - a Chloe Paddington bag worth £900. When they clocked the matching bags in the office, it was like pistols at dawn. They forced a few compliments, but relations never recovered, to the expense of my company....

I was often out trying to win contracts, but back at the office, work was an afterthought. It came second to conversations about shopping, boyfriends and diets - oh, and spiteful comments from my two development researchers, who were sharpening their acrylic nails against another staff member, Natasha.

Six months after the company's inception, tensions spilled over when one of the researchers took Natasha's laptop and refused to return it. That day I was forced to cancel my meetings and return to the office to patch up relations.....

The worst type I encountered, however, was the 'passive aggressive-She doesn't seem mean, but is the worst of the pack, ruthlessly bringing you down in such a sweet and unassuming manner that you don't realise what she's done until long after the event. She conceals her bitchy words in flowery phrases - one of my staff told another sweetly: 'I don't mean to be a bitch, but I just can't bear to be in the same room and breathe the same air as you right now.'...

Another woman had a voracious sexual appetite and, in a female-only environment, saw nothing wrong with screeching across the open-plan room details of her marathon sex sessions. I received frequent complaints about her crude language. I can still remember the name of all of my staff's partners and their affairs because it interfered with our work so often....

The effect a lack of testosterone was having in our office was even more apparent when I temporarily hired two male directors to work on a series (camera operators are usually men because of the heavy equipment). The team suddenly became quieter, more hard-working and less bitchy - partly because they were too busy flirting. Two girls openly went after one director, even though he had a live-in girlfriend - his partner didn't stand a chance against their relentless flirting, and was dumped when one of them won his affections.

When we had meetings with men, staff turned ferocious, each out to prove that they were the sexiest in the room. With a male commissioner at Channel 4, one employee said 'Watch this!', then stuck her hand down her bra and tweaked her nipples. The man and I were speechless.

In this climate, I didn't dare employ any men because of the distraction and - even worse! - catfights they created. I hate how much that sounds like stereotyping, but I'm afraid it's what I found to be true. And while I stand by my initial reason for excluding male employees - because they have an easy ride in TV - if I were to do it again, I'd definitely employ men. In fact, I'd probably employ only men.....

Though I will not absolve myself of all guilt, I believe the business was ruined by the destructive jealousy and in-fighting of an allfemale staff. Their selfishness and insecurities led to my company's demise. When I needed the socalled 'Sisterhood', believe me, it just wasn't there.


Archbishop of York calls for St George's Day to be 'unifying' public holiday

The campaign to make St George's Day a national holiday gained further momentum yesterday. The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said that it was time to reclaim our patron saint as an 'all-embracing' symbol of British unity. Many in the Church of England have backed away from celebrating St George for fear of provoking a backlash from other religious and cultural groups in Britain.

But Ugandan-born Dr Sentamu, Britain's first black archbishop, has been happy to lend his outspoken support for the campaign. Both England's patron saint and the national flag of St George have been associated with racists and the Far Right in the past. But the Archbishop - who is second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England hierarchy - is perhaps uniquely placed to rebut critics who feel such a celebration would be seen as divisive by ethnic minorities and non-Christians.

He said that failure to support an English cultural identity could create a 'twisted vision' which could be exploited by firebrand politicians and Islamic extremists. The Archbishop's comments come as Boris Johnson has pushed for a greater celebration of England's patron saint on his feast day, April 23. The London Mayor said that St George has been neglected for 'far too long'.

The revival of interest in St George has been boosted in recent years by devolution in Scotland and Wales, and through widespread use of England's national flag, the Cross of St George, by fans of the national football team.

At a literary festival on Saturday, Dr Sentamu asked: 'Has the time come to make the feast of St George, the patron saint of England, a public holiday?' He added: 'Whether it be the terror of Salafi-jihadism (the radical Islamic doctrine behind Al Qaeda) or the insidious institutional racism of the British National Party, there are those who stand ready to fill the vacuum with a sanitised identity and twisted vision if the silent majority are reticent in holding back from forging a new identity.'

The Archbishop was at pains to stress that his speech was not a critique of multiculturalism, but rather a call for different communities and religious groups to embrace their shared values. He said: 'Englishness is not diminished by newcomers who each bring with them a new strand to England's fabric - rather Englishness is emboldened to grow anew. 'The truth is that an all-embracing England, confident and hopeful in its own identity, is something to celebrate. Let us acknowledge and enjoy what we are.'

Shahid Malik, MP for Dewsbury, also supported the calls for St George's Day to be celebrated. He said: 'It's high time that St George's Day be given the importance it warrants. 'It provides a unique opportunity to celebrate collective Englishness, to take pride in our heritage and to highlight the values which define modern England - values such as honesty, fairness, tolerance, enterprise and equality.'

He added: 'I want to fly the flag and take pride in being English, and I know for a fact that there are thousands of people in our area who feel the same way. 'St George's Day offers a unique opportunity for people from all backgrounds and beliefs to come together and celebrate the things that make England great.'

A review of citizenship in the UK commissioned by the Government from Lord Goldsmith recently recommended a national day 'focused on ideas about shared citizenship'. Although the Government has acknowledged that St George's Day is a popular suggestion, there is a competing alternative - a new 'British Day' after Remembrance Sunday to celebrate the contribution of our Armed Forces.


Growing up with hippie parents

Like the teenage daughter in Absolutely Fabulous, many born in the Seventies cringed through childhood as their free-spirited parents lived the hippy dream. Among them was Chloe Fox, who rebelled by becoming a model wife and mother. She talks to others who found absolute freedom less than fabulous and wonders whether a life of ‘mortgages and moderation’ is the inevitable outcome

By Chloe Fox

When I look back at my childhood, it is with the remembered imprint of banisters on each of my cheeks. Along with my brother, Sam (we were later joined by a sister, Louisa), I spent many a night watching a wonderful world whirl downstairs at our Georgian townhouse in Clapham, South London.

My mother, Celestia, a former fashion editor of Queen magazine turned casting director, met and fell in love with my father, Robert, five years her junior, when she was 26. He, after a disastrous stint following in the acting footsteps of his brothers Edward and James, was a fledgling theatre producer, working for impresario Michael White.

Theirs was a world of endless parties, and we took for granted the roll call of stars that flooded the house and came, champagne-breathed, to kiss us goodnight over the years: David Bowie, Al Pacino, Rupert Everett, Bob Geldof, Paula Yates, Nicky Haslam, Jerry Hall… It is the gut instinct of every child to consider their own childhood the norm, and apart from a vague inkling that not everyone’s father had long hair and did the school run with a Marlboro in one hand and Bruce Springsteen screaming on the stereo, that’s exactly what the three of us did.

As I grew older, however, the excesses of others started to make me feel awkward in my skin; old beyond my years. When my school friends bunked off to smoke, I went to the library and read a book. When they sneaked to the pub, I took to my bed. In my lessons, anything less than an “A” grade felt like a fail. I began to find my own parents slightly mortifying; one Sunday lunchtime a joint was passed around, and I left the table and locked myself, sobbing, in my bedroom.

Fashion petrified me. On the eve of my first dance, at the Hammersmith Palais, my mother tried to coax me into her skin-tight black Alaïa minidress. I decided that a shapeless purple silk shift from Jigsaw was a much better idea. At parties, I wanted the ground to swallow me. I only felt safe watching it all unfold. I didn’t kiss a boy until I was 16, and only then because he was too drunk to say no.

And so it has gone on. When I was 27, I married the boy next door, whom I had loved from afar for a long time. In the five years since, we have had two children: Jago, 3, and Christabel, 8 months. We have a mortgage, a mountain of laundry and only dance in the kitchen or at weddings. We have no famous friends, no cupboards full of sequins and I’m sure, although they are far too loving to say it, both my parents marvel that it’s enough.

But we are not alone. If it is the fate of every generation to rebel against the one that preceded it, then we, the children of the children of the Sixties, are an inevitably strait-laced bunch. One of the best-observed comedy characters of recent years is Saffy in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous. As her mother, Eddy, drunkenly falls down the stairs in heels too high and skirts too short, teenage Saffy rolls her eyes and goes back to her homework. But more than 16 years have passed since Absolutely Fabulous began. Just what would Saffy be like now? What sort of a mother did she become? How much is the parent you become affected by the parents you had?

Free and uneasy

“My childhood was very open and creative and free, but always a bit all over the place,” says Poppy de Villeneuve, the daughter of Sixties photographer Justin de Villeneuve, famously linked with Twiggy, and former model Jan de Villeneuve.

As a child growing up in East Sussex, Poppy, along with her older sister, the illustrator Daisy (who spent her first year of life living with her parents in a tent pitched inside a Camden Town warehouse), had a vague sense of her own otherness. “I knew the other kids at the comprehensive we went to didn’t have a mother who wore floaty Biba dresses and have people like Peter Blake and Kenny Everett coming to stay at the weekend, but at the same time it was all I knew.”

It wasn’t until her teens that Poppy, now a photographer, began to struggle with her own identity. “I’ve always been the straight one at a party,” she says. “While my contemporaries were all rebelling and taking drugs, I was on the sidelines – a slightly older version of the child I was – who slept on a pile of coats under the table in a restaurant.” To this day, she says she feels like the odd one out and is a self-confessed workaholic, with elements of the control freak about her. “When I have children, I’ll give them more structure. It’s crucial for little people, I think.”

At the age of 30, photographic and events producer Gawain Rainey, now 37, became the first person in his family to buy a house. Already well established in his career and with his girlfriend, model Jasmine Guinness, expecting their first child (the couple now have two sons, Elwood and Otis), he decided it was time to start “being a grown-up”. This was not something his own parents had really done. His mother, Jane, is the daughter of David Ormsby-Gore, the 5th Baron Harlech, who was British Ambassador in Washington from 1961 to 1965. His father, Michael Rainey, ran a hip Chelsea clothing boutique. Wealthy and staggeringly glamorous, they ensured that their four children – Saffron, Rose, Gawain and Ramona – had a childhood in the Welsh countryside characterised by its freedom.


"Safety" regulations freeze out small scale and startup producers

The simple fact of the matter is that most food safety regulations, in classic Baptists-and-Bootleggers fashion, are written by the big producers and have the primary effect of imposing minimum overhead costs on small producers.

The primary offenders in the food contamination scares of recent years have been large-scale agribusiness operations and large-scale food processors, whether in California or in China. The spinach e. coli deaths associated with “organic farming,” for example, actually occurred at a nominally organic factory farming operation producing for Earthbound Farms, where crops were contaminated by fecal runoff from the grain-fed cattle at yet another factory farming operation nearby.

But if the USDA ever takes large-scale regulatory action to address the problem, you can be sure it will be a costly and paperwork-intensive inspection regime that the factory farms actually causing the problem can easily absorb, but that will destroy small, community-based market gardeners who weren’t killing anybody in the first place.

That’s exactly what happened with the above-mentioned CPSIA, in a different industry. In response to scares of phthalate and lead contamination in toys and clothing imported from China, some consumers started buying handmade toys and clothing produced locally in people’s homes, in order to have a better sense of where the stuff they purchased actually came from. People attempted to take back control of their lives from distant and unaccountable corporations, by turning instead to relocalized economies outside the corporate supply chains.

But what did Congress do to address the lead and phthalate scares? It imposed a costly testing regime whose primary effect could well be to drive the small-scale local producers of handmade toys out of business. The giant transnational corporations that farm toy and apparel manufacturing out to sweatshops in China, of course, can easily absorb the cost of mandated testing and paperwork.

As described by Eric Husman, of GrimReader blog, the small apparel industry works like this: First, you develop a couple dozen or so different designs. Then you see which ones sell, and produce them on a just-in-time basis as orders come in. This a business model that can be followed even by someone operating out of their own home with a few sewing machines. Because there’s almost no initial capital outlay or overhead, there’s also no pressure to achieve some minimum level of business to amortize the overhead cost. Consequently, there’s no risk involved in taking it up as a moonlight operation to supplement wage income and then gradually replace wage labor with self-employment a few hours at a time.

The CPSIA, by mandating test costing hundreds or thousands of dollars for every separate product line, essentially criminalized this model of production. It added enormous levels of overhead, which could only be paid for by large-batch production to spread the cost over a large number of units. In other words, if you can’t afford the initial startup capital to do it full time and on a large scale, you can’t do it at all.

That’s the central function of almost all safety regulation: to impose mandatory minimum levels of overhead on small producers.

Consider all the forms of production that are amenable to small-scale production in the home, using only the spare capacity of ordinary household capital equipment that most of us own anyway, if only government-imposed entry barriers were removed. Roderick Long, in a November article at Cato Unbound, mentioned microbakeries using ordinary kitchen ovens, unlicensed cab services with only a car and a cell phone, cooperative daycare arrangements in which parents in a neighborhood paid someone to care for children out of their home, home-based beauticians with only a chair and sink and a basic set of cutting and styling tools, etc.

Because of mandated overhead, most of society’s economic functions are carried out through the model of organization Paul Goodman described in People or Personnel: high-overhead, with bureaucratically defined procedural rules, job descriptions, prestige salaries, rents on artificial property rights, management featherbedding, and all the rest of it. The cost of paperwork and bureaucratic rulemaking, in many cases, is the inevitable result of the fact that people lacking any intrinsic motivation or control over their own work can’t be trusted to use their own judgment.

Our society is run by an interlocking directorate of enormous bureaucratic organiations: corporations, government agencies, universities and charitable foundations.

As a result, most forms of production are characterized, in Goodman’s words, by “the need for amounts of capital out of all proportion to the nature of the enterprise.” “Everywhere one turns, … there seems to be a markup of 300 and 400 per cent, to do anything or make anything.”

Their overhead costs are compounded, in addition to the initially mandated capital outlays themselves, by their bureaucratic style: the layers of bureaucratic overhead and administrative costs associated with such organizations. Compare the total charge for a service call by a plumber, most of which goes to office rent and clerical staff, profit and interest on debt, utilities, etc., to the portion that actually goes to the plumber. A skilled tradesman’s wage is typically about 40% of the cost of a service call. When we do business with each other indirectly through bureaucratic organizations, we pay a 150% markup over what we’d have paid to one another directly (for example, a plumber working through a LETS system, simply taking calls on his phone and buying materials at the local hardware store).

The effect of criminalizing such low-overhead production, Paul Goodman said, is to erect barriers to transforming one’s labor directly into subsistence, and to render comfortable poverty impossible. We often hear that the per capita GDP in Italy or Ireland is a fraction that of the U.S., and yet the actual quality of life doesn’t seem to be anywhere near that small a fraction of our own. The reason is that much of our increased GDP results, not from a proportionate increase in the value of the goods and services we consume, but from the increased ratio of overhead cost to the value of what we consume.

Suppose we decided we could meet our need for bread by baking it in our own ovens, or producing some other good in the household to exchange with a neighbor’s bread, with a fraction of the hours of wage labor required to buy it. Suppose we decided that we could meet a major part of our needs through such informal and household production, and non-monetized exchange through a neighborhood or community barter network. The portion of GDP resulting from that wage labor and the purchase of those store goods would simply disappear. But our quality of life would be improved.

Of course it would cause a lot of hand-wringing among econometrists. In the early days of the Industrial Revolution, an English political economist dismissed as “of no importance” a village which met most of its needs internally rather than by participating in the money economy. “What, sir,” thundered Samuel Taylor Coleridge. “Are seven hundred Christian souls of no importance?”

In the case of large scale mass production, the modest unit cost savings from economies of large-scale production are easily offset by all the mountains of overhead, open and hidden, required by the push-distribution system. Sloanist manufacturing, as described by William Waddell and Norman Bodek in The Rebirth of American Industry, requires enormous buffer stocks of goods in process, and enormous inventories finished goods produced without regard to orders, in order to keep the machines running at capacity and spread out unit costs over the larget possible output. To keep the wheels turning also requires expensive mass-marketing, brand-name markup of generic commodities that previously sold for 75% less, enormous consumer debt, and planned obsolescence .

Ralph Borsodi described the effort to market the output industry was capable of producing at full capacity as the equivalent of making water run uphill. His book The Distribution Age was a study of this paradox: modest decreases in unit production cost, more than offset by an explosion in the cost of distribution and high-pressure marketing.

Compare the mountains of crystallized labor and resources embodied in those inventories, and in the landfills full of discarded goods that could have been repaired for a tiny fraction of the cost of replacement, to the alleged cost savings from running the “more efficient” specialized machinery 24/7.

We live in an age of cost-plus markup and mandated minimum overhead, buying stuff from public and corporate bureaucracies for several times what they would cost to produce either in local manufacturing organized on a lean basis or in the informal and household economy. The system adds Rube Goldberg steps between effort and consumption, much like adding all sorts of baffles and eddies and reservoirs, and twists and turns, to a plumbing system. On average we force in forty hours worth of effort into one end of the system, and get a trickle of consumption goods out the other end that could probably be produced in sixteen hours if production were organized rationally without the added overhead cost and subsidized waste.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Britain's uncaring "carers" again

Aint socialism wonderful? It is until you see it in action. Centralization of power trumps all else. Power matters to Leftists -- not people

Forget the G20 circus. On Saturday afternoon there was a politer protest meeting, in the old railwaymen's club in Oxford. Only a hundred or so people (small children skidding about in the next room too mobile to count) but a microscope is a better diagnostic instrument than a fisheye lens. The theme of the meeting chimed with the wider unease: a huge, arrogant, yet strangely incompetent body was gratuitously messing up ordinary lives. Not a bank this time but Noms, the National Offender Management Service: founded 2004, revamped 2008.

Under government policy of controlling everything from vast distant HQs, run by frazzled people who don't get out much, Noms brought together HM Prison and Probation Services in the name of “coherence” and blethers about a “vibrant mix” of “service-level agreements”. But in effect, in January last year the Prisons element more or less took over the Probation Service, which became a Cinderella.

According to Napo, the probation officers' union, Cinderella must cut its budgets by between 13 and 25 per cent and lose more than 2,000 jobs over three years. The national post of director of probation no longer exists, and in the Ministry of Justice business plan the amount spent at Noms headquarters is, the union claims, as high as the cost of the entire Probation Service for England and Wales. Yet you would think, given government rhetoric, that probation officers would be a priority. What they do is to supervise, mentor and (really quite often) reform the lives of the paroled and criminals on community sentences.

So much for the wider picture. Zoom back in on the Railway Club and the neighbourhood of Mill Street, Oxford. This - where I spend a fair amount of time - is not one of those chic addresses in the leafy North or a modish Jericho. It is a long cul-de-sac, a terrace of brick houses on the edge of the city beyond the railway. These are small homes for young families, new couples and lone pensioners.

Pleasant but not posh. There is one pub, and at the far end a small office block by the river, needing refurbishment. But a week ago Mill Street learnt that the Probation Service is about to sign a lease on this building, extending it into a “mega-centre” of 100 staff, replacing the city office and others in neighbouring towns. Thus every week 350 clients, from petty thieves to violent and sex offenders, would arrive for their interviews or group sessions. That's 70 a day from all over Oxfordshire, walking the long quiet street or approaching by a track through a churchyard and past two nursery schools.

No notice was given: this was a leak. The Probation Service confirmed it when pressed, but coyly refuses to meet residents. City planners are told it is just an office, class B1A under the Town and Country Planning Act, so no change of use is needed. You could argue that by covering “non-resident adult learning” it is actually category D1 - but then, of course, there would have to be democratic public notification, which the Ministry of Justice's agency seems keen to avoid. Mill Street is not amused, though there was shocked laughter when Evan Harris, the local MP, read out the response from Noms: “We doubt the value to the residents of meeting with us before we sign the lease.” Which is a bit like selling the house before mentioning it to your wife.

The protest is not sensationalist or illiberal (indeed, one leading campaigner got so interested in the Probation Service that he plans to volunteer with ex-offenders). It breathes reasonable anger at arrogance, secrecy and a cavalier attitude to citizens' concerns. The local councillor Susanna Pressel, the Lord Mayor of Oxford, confirms that such an office should be in the city centre, near courts and police. Dr Evan Harris concurs, though drily admitting that he has often in his right-on Lib Dem way taken sides against residents' groups (including his own parents) over unpopular but vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers and council tenants. But even he is on Mill Street's side. This is a bum idea: its only merit must be cheapness. For all the mission statements about “focusing on individuals at a local level” it is a secretive and probably false economy of scale.

False? Well, consider the offenders' plight too. A powerful voice at the meeting was Joe, a veteran former prison officer and mental health worker who - not living locally - spent 48 hours worrying whether to stick his head above the parapet. But he did, and is worth hearing. Offenders, he says bluntly, dread having conspicuously to “run the gauntlet” of a quiet street for appointments.

Sex offenders, ordered to keep away from children, will find it difficult to do so up this street. Moreover, Banbury is nearly 30 miles away, Bicester 15, Abingdon a long bus ride. Promises about local needs are oddly served, Joe reckons, by “taking probation officers away from their communities, where in the past they had good relationships with police, even with offenders' families. The work is about building relationships.” Sadly, he predicts many missed appointments: in chaotic or addicted lives a long round trip is not simple. Nor is taking a full day off every week if you're lucky enough to have work.

People will bunk off, and be chucked back into prison for failing to meet probation conditions. How much of a public economy is that, eh?

The whole thing is a bit nuts, reeking of panicky, furtive, distant decisions unrelated to reality. Curiously, it brought to mind the equal nutty waste-through- centralisation I saw when out with the Metropolitan Police for a night of stop-and-search in London. Our vanful of elite officers spent two thirds of its time crawling miles through traffic with the latest felon sulking in the passenger seat, just to find the last vacant cell in a distant mega-station “custody suite”. The police were visibly frustrated. Once there were small local stations, Dock Green-style, with a couple of handy cells each.

But in the past decade more than 650 stations have been closed nationwide. I am told that when you get arrested in Penzance you now score a 45-minute ride to Truro to be locked up. Your mates can continue fighting undisturbed while the cops rack up their carbon footprint.

So there you are. Economies of scale that in the end cost money... managerialist bean-counting from plush London offices... ideas that look good on spreadsheets and lousy on the street.


Hooray! A lying bitch jailed for once

Estranged wife jailed for falsely accusing husband of rape. Women don't lie about that, say feminists. But facts never have mattered to feminists. Only their rage matters

A man has told of the pain and humiliation he endured when his estranged wife falsely accused him of rape. Anthony Scoones, 27, spoke out after Gemma Scoones was jailed for a year for perverting the course of justice. He described how he was arrested at his home - he was watching TV in bed when police arrived - and spent 16 hours in a cell. His clothes were taken for forensic examination and he was left naked so that DNA samples could be taken.

Mr Scoones said: 'I wasn't just stripped of my clothes, but of my dignity. I was stood there naked, with two police officers at one side of me and a doctor at the other side, having swabs taken from all over my body. 'It was humiliating and degrading. I don't blame the officers for investigating, but it is a heinous crime to be accused of and I'm still having nightmares now.' To add to his ordeal, even some people he thought of as friends doubted his innocence.

The rape accusation was part of an 'acrimonious separation' from his 26-year-old wife. Durham Crown Court heard that she told police Mr Scoones followed her home from a shop, forced his way into the house and raped her in a downstairs toilet. She claimed she was hurt but had not been able to call police immediately because he threatened to petrol-bomb her house.

It was only after discrepancies emerged in a police interview with her that Mr Scoones was told he was in the clear and his ex-wife was charged with committing an act intended to pervert the course of justice. Jailing Scoones, who had pleaded guilty, Recorder Neil Davey told her: 'The course you embarked on was one of sheer wickedness.'

Mr Scoones, of Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, said after the hearing: 'My family and my girlfriend have always believed me, but when the word rape is used, it changes the atmosphere. 'People did question me and this has opened my eyes up to who I can trust. 'Right up until she admitted her guilt in court and justice was done by sending her to prison, she was muddying the water and I've been worried about how people look at me. 'She's taken away my trust, self-esteem, pride and confidence with one attention-seeking, spiteful lie.'

The court heard that Scoones, also of Newton Aycliffe, made up the allegation after reading claims against her in a letter from her estranged husband's solicitor. Scott Smith, mitigating, said Scoones' actions arose from an acrimonious separation after a nine-year relationship. Mr Smith said: 'She was upset and this built up in her as time went on. She accepts there was a degree of planning and she considered her actions for several weeks.'

Jailing her, Recorder Neil Davey told Scoones: 'In my judgement, the course you embarked on was one of sheer wickedness. 'You decided to take revenge on your ex-husband, by falsely accusing an entirely innocent man of rape, giving a lurid account of how it was inflicted. 'He was strip-searched, intimate samples were taken and he was humiliated, held in custody for more than 16 hours, and still you persisted in your claims. 'It was only the skill and expertise of the police that forced you to break down your story and prove your allegations were false.'

Mr Scoones said that although his parents and girlfriend have stood by him, some friends had doubted his innocence. He said: 'Throughout the time Gemma and I were together, my family took her under their wing and supported her, but she would regularly take off and tell lies about me. 'My friends and family always believed me. But when the word rape is used, it changes the atmosphere. 'People did question me and this has opened my eyes up to who I can trust.

PC Elizabeth Graham, of Durham Police's domestic abuse investigation team, said the force was very victim focused and that the allegation of rape had been taken seriously and fully investigated. It was only when the truth emerged that Scoones stopped being treated as the victim.

PC Graham said: 'This was a calculated and malicious allegation made by a frustrated ex-partner who had an aim of discrediting her former husband and subjecting him to the indignity of a police investigation into an allegation of rape. 'The sentence imposed reflects the gravity of the offence committed and takes into account the trauma the true victim of this incident experienced, as well as the significant waste of police time and money spent investigating a crime that never occurred.'

PC Graham said she hoped the incident would not deter genuine victims of rape and sexual assault from reporting crimes to the police.


Chanel and the Nazis: what Coco Avant Chanel and other films don't tell you

Why is Coco Chanel getting a free pass on her collaboration with the Nazis? Her past was deeply compromised

As we gear up for cultural Chanel-mania this summer with two hagiographic films about the designer, a new biography and the sound of slavering from glossy magazines, it is worth pausing to investigate Coco Chanel's wholesale - and retail - involvement with the Nazis.

The world's greatest fashionista may have rescued women from the corset, but she did not have a good war. When shoppers swoon over the iconic quilted handbag with the CC logo, most are unaware that Chanel once went to Berlin to plot with Walter Schellenberg, who wore his Waffen SS logo as Hitler's chief of foreign intelligence.

Perhaps Chanel-lovers also have no idea that she tried to wrest control of her perfume manufacturing from a Jewish family, taking advantage of pro-Aryan laws. Or that she was arrested for war crimes - and then mysteriously released.

Previously, I'd seen it mentioned that Chanel had survived the war rather comfortably at the Paris Ritz in the arms of a Nazi officer, Hans Gunther von Dincklage, and then gone into exile in Switzerland with him, but a few hours spent in the library revealed that she was far more deeply involved with the Germans than that. There was even a (somewhat ridiculous) Nazi plot, using Chanel as bait, called “Operation Modelhut”.

None of this will be discussed, of course, in two upcoming biographical films: Coco Avant Chanel, starring Audrey Tautou, and Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky, with Anna Mouglalis, about Chanel's relationship with the Russian composer. Nor was it detailed in a Chanel television mini-series with Shirley MacLaine last year, or in the 1981 film Chanel Solitaire. With commercial good sense, all films avoid the German invasion of Paris and Chanel's collaboration. It's a case of “Don't Mention The War!”

Time heals, but sometimes it's worth opening the wound again when a reputation suddenly appears to be sanitised. While Chanel's biographer, Edmonde Charles-Roux, says her style genius “consisted in being incorruptibly sober and pure”, her life was less clean-cut. Paris during the occupation was a compromising and uncomfortable place for other artists and writers, who tended to keep their heads down: “Oh, I am not looking for risks to take,” said Picasso, her friend, “but in a sort of passive way I do not care to yield to either force or terror.”

Edith Piaf sang in nightclubs for the Nazis. Jean-Paul Sartre said: “Everything we did was equivocal. We never quite knew whether we were doing right or wrong. A subtle poison corrupted even our best actions.”

But Chanel was unequivocal. She decided to place herself snugly in the enemy's bosom, conveniently near to her shop. After the Paris invasion she fled to the country, but returned a year later to demand back her room at the Ritz, which had been commandeered by the Germans. There, aged 56, she shacked up with von Dincklage, a German playboy officer 13 years her junior, who may have been a spy and was known frivolously as “Spatz” or sparrow.

Whatever his role, von Dincklage's coterie brought Chanel into high Nazi circles, yet she remains inexplicably untarnished, unlike Unity Mitford and Diana Mosley. It's hard to tell what the intentions of Operation Modelhut were, but they included the peculiar idea that one of Chanel's friends, who knew Churchill well, would pass a letter from her suggesting that there should be secret negotiations to end the war. Chanel - who had met Churchill once or twice at social events - obviously saw herself as a heroic figure in this.

Schellenberg was interrogated by the British after the war concerning the visit in 1943 from “Frau Chanel, a French subject and proprietress of the noted perfume factory”. According to the transcript: “This woman was referred to as a person Churchill knew sufficiently to undertake political negations with him, as an enemy of Russia and as desirous of helping France and Germany whose destinies she believed to be closely linked together.” Operation Modelhut fell apart, and the mutual friend of Churchill and Chanel denounced her as a German agent.

It seems to me that Chanel bent to the times, always intent on survival. The French call this Système D, or système débrouillard, which means getting round the rules somehow. As Charles-Roux notes, “playing refugee was not her style”, hence Chanel's move to the Nazi-infested Ritz. Who else could afford to buy her perfume? Later, when the law banned Jews from owning companies, she tried to depose the Wertheimer family who manufactured her scents. And towards the end of the war, as the Germans looked less than victorious, Chanel revived her largely imaginary friendship with Churchill.

After the war, thousands of the collaboratrices horizontales - sexual collaborators - had their hair shorn in public humiliations, yet Chanel was arrested and soon released, though no one knows exactly who among the Allies protected her. Was it her connection with the Duke of Westminster? There's no proof, except that Chanel and her perfume royalties went into exile in Switzerland for a decade, because she was most definitely not wanted at home.

Chanel made a comeback in 1956. The French papers panned her collection as old hat: she was not forgiven. But across the Atlantic, the Americans just loved those bags and little black dresses. Sales grew, Chanel was rehabilitated, and history faded away. Now she is merely a brand in Karl Lagerfeld's hands.

In his fascinating book, The Shameful Peace, Frederic Spotts notes that “the occupation was merciless in exposing character”. Keep that in mind - or, if you do go to the Chanel films this summer, turn off your mobile phones, forget Chanel's compromised past and enjoy the show.


Arabs, Israelis, and Underdogs

"Who, a century back, would have imagined Jews making the better soldiers and Arabs the better publicists?" I asked back in 2005. A foremost example of the Arabs' p.r. prowess lies in their ability to transform the map of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the early decades, maps of the Arab-Israeli conflict showed Israel in a vast Middle East, a presence so small, one practically needed a magnifying glass to locate it. These days, however, the conflict is typically portrayed by a huge Israel looming over the fractured West Bank and Gaza areas.

This shift in size implies a shift in underdog status; whereas Israel's weak-actor status once came through clearly, the Palestinians have now usurped that position, with all its attendant benefits.

A recent study by Joseph A. Vandello, Nadav P. Goldschmied and David A. R. Richards, "The Appeal of the Underdog," in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin takes as its starting point the assumption that "When people observe competitions, they are often drawn to figures that are seen as disadvantaged or unlikely to prevail. … If people are drawn to sympathize with figures seen as underdogs, attitudes about the parties in this conflict might be strategically shaped by emphasizing the underdog status of one group over the other."

The trio then tested this hypothesis by looking, in part, at the Arab-Israeli conflict. To uncover the possible advantage of being perceived as the underdog, the authors conducted an experiment in which they
operationalized underdog status by subtly reinforcing physical size disparities through maps that shifted the perspective to make salient Israel as large, surrounding the smaller occupied Palestinian territories, or conversely, by making Israel appear small by showing it surrounded by the Arab countries of the greater Middle East.
Having set up the experiment with two maps, the authors "predicted that this shift in visual perspective would create perceptions of underdog status, which would in turn predict support for the underdog side."

They predicted correctly. Small size turns out to be key to being perceived as the underdog: Participants were asked which side they considered the underdog in the conflict. When Israel was portrayed as large on the map, 70% saw the Palestinians as the underdog. In contrast, when Israel was portrayed as small on the map, 62.1% saw Israel as the underdog,

Being perceived as underdog does indeed confer advantages for winning political sympathy:
Participants were also asked toward which group they felt more supportive. When Israel was portrayed as large on the map, 53.3% were more supportive toward the Palestinians. In contrast, when Israel was portrayed as small on the map, 76.7% were more supportive toward Israel.
That's a 23 percent difference, which is huge. Small size, they found, also has a "significant" impact on intensity of support:
Participants were asked to rate how much sympathy they felt toward each side in the conflict on a 1 (none) to 5 (a lot) scale. When Israel was portrayed as large on the map, participants expressed slightly more sympathy toward the Palestinians (3.77 vs. 3.73), but when Israel was portrayed as small on the map, participants expressed more sympathy toward the Israelis (4.00 vs. 3.30).

(1) There is something peculiar about rooting in a life-and-death situation for the underdog, as though there were nothing more at stake than a sporting championship, but so be it. Modern life asks one to make decisions on many issues where knowledge is lacking; and the views of a poorly uninformed public then can drive the poll-driven politics of mature democracies.

(2) Pulling for the underdog fits into a larger context. For example, I documented in 2006 (in "Strange Logic in the Lebanon War") that "taking casualties and looking victimized helps one's standing" in the battle for public opinion.

(3) Wanting to appear the underdog or to be taking heavier casualties inverts the historic imperative "whereby each side wants to intimidate the enemy by appearing ferocious, relentless, and victorious."

(4) This inversion is one of the many ways in which warfare has fundamentally changed during the past 60 years, turning into a nearly unrecognizable variant of its historic identity.

(5) The framing of a war – shaping how it is perceived – has reached such importance that, as I put it in 2006, "the Clausewitzian center of gravity has moved from the battlefield to the op-eds and talking heads. How war is perceived has as much importance as how it actually is fought."

(6) Weak but innovative organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas have better adapted to this new reality than have powerful but tradition-bound Western governments.

(7) Those governments need to wake up to the fundamental importance of public relations in war.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, April 06, 2009

British cartoon strip aimed at under-12s depicts Christian boy as Islamaphobe thug

A Government-funded charity was at the centre of a row last night after a magazine it publishes for children appeared to depict Christians as Islamaphobes who regard Muslims as terrorists. In a cartoon strip, a boy wearing a large cross around his neck is shown telling a friend that a smiling Muslim girl in a veil looks like a terrorist. He later confronts her and shouts: ‘Hey, whatever your name is, what are you hiding under your turban?’

She replies that the garment is called a hijab and it is part of her religion, ‘like that cross you wear’. The girl is then shown standing up for another boy, who is being bullied, and her behaviour is contrasted with that of the boy wearing the cross.

The cartoon story, entitled Standing Up For What You Believe In, appears in the latest issue of Klic!, a quarterly magazine aimed at children in care aged from eight to 12. Published by the Who Cares? Trust, a charity set up in 1992, it is described on the cover as ‘the best ever mag for kids in care’ and is widely distributed by town halls. The charity received £100,000 from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, headed by Ed Balls, in both 2007 and 2008, and £80,000 this year.

Although the cartoon does not specifically refer to the boy’s religion, it has angered Christian groups and MPs who fear it sends out the wrong message. Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: ‘What about Christian children in care who received this magazine? How will they feel to see themselves mocked as narrow-minded Islamaphobes? ‘It is a clumsy caricature, symptomatic of a culture which says it is OK to bully Christians in the name of diversity.’

Philip Hollobone, the Tory MP for Kettering, said: ‘I think it is very unfortunate that the lad who is pointing the finger is wearing a cross. 'You can hardly imagine anyone producing a magazine in which the roles were reversed and it was the Muslim girl who was behaving badly.’

Gary Streeter, the Tory MP for South West Devon, said the religious parody was ‘unacceptable’, adding: ‘If it is being done with public money, it should be investigated and the magazine withdrawn.’

But Who Cares? Trust chief executive Natasha Finlayson said she had no intention of withdrawing it, describing the cross as ‘bling’ rather than a religious symbol. She said the charity had received a complaint but did not agree the cartoon was derogatory towards Christians. ‘I am a Christian myself, so when a woman called us, I went back and looked at the comic strip from her point of view,’ Ms Finlayson said. ‘I am sorry that she is upset but I don’t share her view. When I saw the cartoon, I didn’t think of that character being a Christian because I saw the cross as ‘bling’, as jewellery. ‘To me it is a cartoon about bullying rather than discrimination or religion.’


Harvard business school examines its navel

Will they recognize their complete ethical meltdown? Unlikely

HARVARD Business School, stung by criticism that it has not prepared alumni to cope with the economic meltdown, will dissect its performance using a practice it employs to examine corporations in crisis.

A taskforce, created in November at the direction of the dean, Jay Light, is writing a case study to scrutinise whether the school is failing to teach students to understand and manage risk in the current environment, said Paul Healy, the co-chairman of the panel.

The case study method is the technique Harvard uses to analyse decision-making by executives during times of duress. Harvard Business School's 219 professors will tackle the case at a May 27 meeting and may use the discussion to propose curriculum changes. "We'll put them in the students' seats," Healy, a professor of business administration, said.

While officials at the business schools of Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have developed classes and projects to address the causes of the crisis, Harvard is using the collapse as an opportunity for self-reflection. The professors will ponder how the school's reputation has been tarnished, and may debate articles critical of the institution and its graduates who helped trigger the financial crisis, Healy said.

Harvard's alumni include Stanley O'Neal and John Thain, the former chief executive officers of Merrill Lynch who presided over the company's decline; Rick Wagoner, the ousted chief of General Motors; and Christopher Cox, the former chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. "I'm sure the brand is damaged, at some level," Healy said. "People that I know well tell me to my face, 'You guys have some culpability,' and I think that's fair. It's a good time for us to reflect and think about what the right things are for us to be doing."

Professors may spend half a day meeting in groups of about 90, said Healy, who added the plans were not final. The last time the school overhauled its curriculum was in 2004, when it introduced a required ethics course after the 2001 Enron accounting fraud.

In 2007, even before the financial crisis, Stanford Graduate School of Business introduced a curriculum designed to develop critical thinking about leadership in small classes, replacing lectures.

The new series of seminars at the school help "students discover and defend their values", Dean Robert Joss said in an article for Stanford Business magazine's next issue. Classes include "Understanding Cheating," which looks at why people make unethical decisions.

At the MIT Sloan School of Management, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, students were taught to weigh the effects of their actions on society, not just on investors, said JoAnne Yates, the deputy dean. "We would like our students, when they graduate, to understand not just quantitative instruments but how they fit into the whole world around finance," she said. "We don't want them all to think it is games with numbers."

Schools needed to consider how they teach and whether students could learn decision-making based on intuition and not only numbers, said Louis Lataif, the dean of the Boston University School of Management and a 1964 graduate of Harvard Business School.

"There's a certain self-consciousness now that we may be part of the problem," Lataif said. "There's a lot more to education than learning how to read balance sheets. Maybe a piece of what's missing is not another course in ethics but the ability to think beyond the data and take action based on good instincts."

Harvard business degrees are now "scarlet letters of shame", wrote Philip Delves Broughton, a 2006 graduate of the school, in a March column in the Sunday Times of London. "Time after time and scandal after scandal, it seems that a school that graduates just 900 students a year finds itself in the thick of it."

Harvard Business School, founded 101 years ago, has more than 200 faculty members and almost 1800 students seeking master's degrees in business administration.

Under O'Neal, who graduated in 1978, Merrill Lynch lost more than $US30 billion before its takeover by Bank of America. Thain, O'Neal's successor who graduated in 1979, was ousted after spending $US1.2 million to renovate his office. General Motors has fallen more than 90 per cent in New York trading from its peak during the tenure of Wagoner, a 1977 Harvard Business School graduate who was forced to resign on March 29 under pressure from the President, Barack Obama.

Cox headed the SEC from 2005 until January this year, as the agency failed under his watch to investigate Bernard Madoff's fraud. Cox graduated from Harvard in 1977.

While the school may bear a measure of responsibility for the graduates' decisions, "there's plenty of blame to spread around", said Carl Kester, the deputy dean of academic affairs.


Fathers getting more recognition

Comment from Australia

It was once widely assumed that children were better off with their mothers, especially after divorce. In part, that was because mothers did most of the child-rearing. They got pregnant, gave birth and did most of the heavy lifting - nappy changes, toilet-training and school pick-ups - as the children got older.

The role played by fathers, for many years, was assumed to be mainly financial: he was the breadwinner and often the person who provided the discipline.

Things have changed. This week, The Australian reported on an extraordinary Family Court decision - in the sense that it was completely out of the ordinary - to remove two children who had been living with their mother in Tasmania since their parents separated in 2005 and send them to live with their father and his girlfriend in Melbourne. There was no suggestion of physical abuse or neglect in the case known as Irish and Michelle (2009).

The facts are this: The couple separated in 2005; the father met a woman and moved to Melbourne to be with her in 2006; his children (a daughter, then aged six, and a son, then four) stayed with their mother in a Tasmanian country town. The mother - known in court documents as Ms Michelle - reorganised her working day so she could spend more time with the children. She had a limited income (less than $500 a week) but the father didn't earn much more (he works as a firefighter and makes about $50,000 a year, minus child support for two children).

The mother has a house with a front garden and a back yard for the children to play, and they live next door to their grandparents, who help out. Her father is a well-known, successful Tasmanian businessman.

The children's father - known in court documents as Mr Irish - works shifts: four days on, four days off, and often through the night. He has always had access to his children, but recently the change-overs had become difficult. He would turn up in Tasmania to take the children for holidays, and they would say: "I don't want to go" or "I don't have to go". On one occasion, witnessed by a child psychologist, the girl tried to climb out of his car window rather than go with him for a weekend. The father believed his relationship with the children was being eroded, that his daughter, now nine, was becoming estranged from him, and that their mother was responsible for these problems. He took the case to the Family Court and, to the utter shock and devastation of the mother, who has been the primary carer of the children all their lives, he won.

Justice Robert Benjamin accepted the court-appointed lawyer's evidence that "both children have consistently maintained that they wish to continue living with their mother".

"They have a close and intimate relationship with the mother and want to be with her," the psychologist said. "They identify their mother as their primary emotional support. As much as the children enjoy spending time with their father, both the children verbalised that they become distressed and miss their mother when they are separated from her."

But he also believed that the girl, in particular, did not understand how important it would be, in later life, to have a relationship with her father.

He said the child, known as B, was becoming emotionally estranged from her father and "either suffered, or was at risk of suffering, serious psychological damage if not psychiatric damage" if the mother didn't encourage her to have a relationship with her father.

There was nothing in the judgment to suggest the mother had denigrated the father, only that she hadn't encouraged a good relationship between the children and their father. The girl told her court counsellor that she didn't like that her father had left the family and now had a new girlfriend, whom she didn't like either.

But Benjamin made the decision to move the children with amendments to the Family Law Act in mind. These amendments, colloquially known as the "shared parenting" provisions, were introduced by the Howard government in 2006. They say that children "have the right to know and be cared for by both parents, regardless of whether their parents are married, separated, have never been married or have never lived together".

Children also have a "right to spend time on a regular basis with, and communicate on a regular basis with, both their parents".

The case of Irish and Michelle suggests that mothers must now encourage their children to have a good relationship with the father; they must facilitate access; and they aren't allowed to talk down the father. If they do, the children will be removed from their full-time care.

Wayne Butler, president of the Shared Parenting Council of Australia, established in 2002 by fathers frustrated at the perceived bias of the Family Court, says the decision "has given us hope. There's a feeling now that if you want a substantial amount of contact with your children, you should wait and go to the Family Court because there is a good chance you'll get it. We strongly believe that children need a relationship with their father. There's a whole change in society's view of a father and that's being reflected in the Family Court."

That view isn't being encouraged by Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant, who told The Australian yesterday that Irish and Michelle shouldn't be read "as a marker for anything". "I've read the judgment closely and it seems to me that the judge took into account what the experts said, which is that the children, especially the girl, were at risk of psychological harm if they stayed with their mother. Some people won't agree with the decision." She noted that the mother could appeal within 30 days. Bryant promotes a view of the court as bias-free and transparent. She authorised the release of data on court orders made since the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parenting) Act came into force. The data isn't comparative - that is, it doesn't say whether fathers are now likelier to get access than they were before the amendments - but the Shared Parenting Council's Jim Carter says the data is nevertheless "encouraging for fathers and their children" because it shows that fathers are likelier to get substantial access to their children if they go to the Family Court than if they negotiate directly with their former wives.

"The situation since 2006 is that 17 per cent of fathers were granted primary care of their children and another 15 per cent were granted equal parenting time," Carter says. "That's a total of 32 per cent of fathers in litigated cases (getting substantial access)."

Mothers still get the bulk of the orders in their favour - 60 per cent get primary care of their children - but the Shared Parenting Council suggests that fathers who want "substantial access" to their children after divorce go to court because there is a reasonable chance they'll get it.

At a Senate estimates hearing on February 23, Family First senator Steve Fielding asked the chief executive of the Family Court, Richard Foster, about the amendments and he, too, was told there had been "a change in the orders that impact specifically on fathers".

Bryant says the data shows that fathers were given residence (or full-time custody) of the children in 19 per cent of litigated cases in 1999-2000, compared with 17 per cent of cases after 2006, "so that's actually gone down".

"We can speculate as to why. I think what's happened is that, rightly or wrongly, there was a prevailing view that orders were likely to favour mothers, and fathers would only litigate when they thought they had a good case," Bryant says. "It's possible that view has changed, so more (men) might litigate."

The number of orders for shared parenting is certainly up, from 6 per cent to 15 per cent, which means fathers get at least equal access in 32 per cent of the cases.

Women's groups are worried about the perceived new direction of the court. An online petition, started last month, has gathered 2300 signatures, and a coalition of women's groups will host rallies in all states next month, to highlight the plight of women whose children have been killed by their ex-partners on access visits. Victims of crime will speak, wearing red hoods over their faces, to circumvent laws that make it a crime to identify any party to a Family Court matter. Organiser Barbara Biggs says: "Our speakers have children who were killed after bad Family Court decisions. Some of them are very well known, with the cases all over the media already, but they can't be identified because that's a breach of the Family Law Act."

On publishing the Irish and Michelle story, The Australian received many calls from fathers who intend to try the Family Court system again. One such father, who hasn't seen his 12-year-old girl for two years, despite there being a Family Court order for access in place, says: "I'm supposed to see her this Easter but the orders were made in her absence. (The mother) doesn't show up for court. She doesn't acknowledge the orders. She has changed her telephone number so she can't be reached."

The couple separated when the child was five. "For a few years after that, I got good access. That changed when I got remarried. It dwindled away to nothing. When I read that case (Irish and Michelle) I thought: 'That's exactly what happened to me.' My daughter started to say: 'I don't want to see you' and 'I hate you', and of course that's not the case. We had a good relationship. I would try to speak to her on the phone and maybe I'd get her when her mother was in the shower, but she'd say: 'I can't talk to you. I've got to go."'

At the other extreme are women such as Kelly, a mother and a lawyer from Queensland, who was amazed when the court ordered a 50-50 custody arrangement with her ex-partner even though he'd been convicted of assaulting her.

"The lawyers kept saying: 'It has to be 50-50,"' she says. "He assaulted me when I was holding (the baby), but they say that's not the same as assaulting the baby, so the court says he isn't hurting the child. They said I had no choice under the new laws to hand the baby over one week on, one week off."


Islamophobia is a fabrication

Comment from Australia

I've been considering a request from a post-graduate student who wants to do a thesis on Islamophobia in Australia. She writes: "I am researching the topic Islamophobia, and I am trying to prove whether Islamophobia is based on religion fear or cultural fear of Islam."

What about proving that Islamophobia exists at all? That would be the logical, ethical and scholarly starting point. But it appears the outcome has already been decided. This would fit the prevailing orthodoxy in academia that the default position for Muslims in Australia is victim. The jargon, "Islamophobia" is part of this ideological construct. Literally, it means fear of Muslims.

I reflected on all this while on holiday in Malaysia and the Maldives last week. This was my twelfth visit to Muslim societies because I do not "fear" Muslims and do not "fear" Islam. Yes, there is ample evidence that Australians have become uneasy about Muslims in general and hostile in specific cases, but this is about cause and effect. Consider the series of blows to the image of Muslims in just the past three weeks, where the everyday decency of the majority have been collaterally damaged by the antics of the few.

On March 8, the night of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, police say a group of about 100 young Muslim men, allegedly members of a loose gang called MBM - Muslim Brotherhood Movement - moved through the centre of the city intimidating, harassing and beating bystanders.

On March 15, Abdul Darwiche was murdered, shot to death in a shopping centre in the latest hyper-violence involving two warring Lebanese Muslim clans. Police later arrested Darwiche's brother, Michael, for driving around with a loaded pistol. A third brother, Adnan, appeared in the NSW Supreme Court three years ago to be sentenced for a double murder. He and his fellow accused, Nasaem El-Zeyat and Ramzi Aouad, laughed and joked, going out of their way to express their contempt for Australian law. After the three men were all given life sentences they shouted "God is great!" This was the same Adnan Darwiche who purchased rocket launchers stolen from the Australian Army, which have never been recovered.

Hundreds of mourners attended Abdul Darwiche's funeral at the Lakemba Mosque, where, within days, Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly was involved in yet another controversy. Channel Nine obtained a copy of a video surveillance tape which shows the former mufti of Australia kicking in a door, then returning soon after in the company of police. Apparently he called police over vandalism which he committed, blaming others who are engaged in a power struggle at the mosque. Sheik Hilaly has been embroiled repeatedly in controversy and provocation, making numerous inflammatory remarks about Australia and Australians.

A few days later, yet another rape sentence was handed down to one of the K brothers, three of whom, during their various trials for gang rape, claimed they were victims of an anti-Muslim conspiracy. Between them, four K brothers have been convicted of gang-raping five girls.

This sentencing followed closely on the conviction of seven Sydney schoolboys for the aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in a toilet block in Yagoona in 2007. According to police, the ring-leader was on his phone speaking in Arabic during the assaults and most or all of the boys are of Muslim background.

If this is so, these latest convictions produce a morbid tally of more than 30 young Muslim men involved in serious proven sexual assaults of non-Muslim girls in Sydney, involving the Skaf brothers, the K brothers, the E-M cousins, the Yagoona schoolboys and various others. Because sexual assault is the least reported crime (about 15 per cent of incidents are reported to police) this particular phenomenon was certainly much broader.

Finally, there has been fatal violence between bikie gangs, accompanied by news that there has been an infusion of young Muslim men into the bikie culture. There is now warring between new gangs and traditional Anglo criminal gangs for control of the drug and protection markets. Gang leaders named Mahmoud and Hassan and Ismail have been prominent. Gangs like MBM, Notorious and Asesinoz have flaunted their ethnicity. Overtly racist videos have been posted on YouTube, such as the message that "Asesinoz is now targeting Aussies", with an image of a vandalised Australian flag.

The events of the past week have been a variation on a theme police have been dealing with for years. It erupted spectacularly in 2005 when a self-styled "intifada" by armed Muslim men, travelling in convoys, staged numerous co-ordinated assaults across the eastern beach suburbs of Sydney. The attacks were in response to the most notorious case of anti-Muslim feeling in Australia, the Cronulla riot in December, 2005. The roots of this demonstration was the failure of the police, who for years had preferred to pretend the problem did not exist.

Given the abundant evidence of violent cause and fearful effect, involving a small percentage of antagonists, the general charge of Islamophobia is an ideological fabrication.

As for the criminal gangs, for more than 10 years I have argued that Australia needed anti-gang laws similar to the RICO laws (racketeering influenced corrupt organisations) used in the United States, which smashed the code of silence and solidarity by criminal gangs. Finally, the state Labor Government has begun to stir on this issue.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Taliban are in London too

In the city's Muslim neighborhoods, an Afghan reporter finds a few too many uncomfortable reminders of home

I still don't know who wanted me dead. I was sitting in my car one day last november, not far from my house in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, when a group of strangers walked up. One of them pointed a pistol through my window. I remember he wore a turban and shalwar kameez—the tunic and baggy pants common in the area—and he had a long beard, dyed red with henna. He shot me in the chest, hand and arm, and then fled with his friends. Miraculously, none of the bullets hit any arteries or vital organs, and as soon as a doctor patched me up and I was strong enough to travel, I booked a flight to London. I planned to lie low for a while, to rest and seek further medical help for a bullet that was lodged in my arm. But more than that, I just wanted to be somewhere calm and safe, far from AK-toting gunmen, suicide bombers and the daily, random violence of Pakistan's borderlands.

London was a revelation—cold, clean and orderly—but my sense of relief didn't last long. In one of the city's many South Asian neighborhoods, I saw a tall young Afghan who reminded me of my would-be assassin, striding down the street like a bad dream. He too wore a shalwar kameez, and a big turban of white silk was wrapped loosely around his head. His beard was long, and his hair was shoulder length. Anyone dressed like that in Islamabad would be immediately picked up for questioning by the police. I had flown halfway across the world to get away from killers who resembled this young Londoner. I stared after him until he was gone from view.

But as days passed I spotted him again and again. He stood out even in a neighborhood full of Asians dressed in traditional garb—shalwar kameez, saris, abayas. Locals had a nickname for him: Talib Jan. It's a friendly Afghan slang term for a Taliban member, something like GI Joe for Americans. The area's crowded, rundown row houses had become home to hundreds of Afghans who first arrived in England as fugitives from the Taliban's intolerance and brutality. Nevertheless, most of Jan's neighbors spoke of him tolerantly or even approvingly.

In fact, during my three-month stay in England I met a surprising number of Muslims who shared Jan's fascination with the Taliban. The older generation, urbane and relatively well educated, had little love for the extremists. But among some younger men, frustrated and marginalized in British society, I discovered a fury that was depressingly familiar. I met many immigrants who were blatant, vocal and unquestioning in their support for what they imagined to be "jihad." Few seemed troubled by the brutality that characterized Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar's reign, or by his banning of music or girls' education. Indeed, many looked back on Omar's rule as a kind of Islamic utopia, and they eagerly snapped up the Islamist leaflets handed out after Friday prayers at various mosques around town.

I first introduced myself to Jan at one of those mosques. I complimented his taste in clothes: that's how people dress back home in Afghanistan, I said. (I was born in northern Afghanistan; my family fled to Pakistan in 1979 to escape the Soviet invasion.) His fierce appearance to the contrary, Jan turned out to be friendly and outgoing. He listened with interest to my story, but mostly he talked about himself, his Islamist views, his fierce support for the Taliban and his contempt for the Brits and Americans fighting them.

His vehemence surprised me. Twenty-three years old, Jan had been born in eastern Afghanistan and attended a madrassa in Pakistan. The Taliban still ruled Afghanistan when his parents paid a people smuggler to sneak Jan to England at 14. There he applied for and was granted political asylum, claiming that the Taliban had persecuted him and his family. Now he's a legal resident, yet openly cheers for his supposed oppressors to defeat troops from his adopted homeland in Afghanistan. The irony seems lost on him.

Jan is a terror to his neighbors. He prowls the streets as a one-man, self-appointed morality patrol. He castigates young Muslim couples he sees holding hands in public, and he badgers acquaintances for shaping their beards into what he disapprovingly calls a "French cut" that frames the mouth. His diatribes can be frightening. Several young men told me they were afraid Jan had friends who could create problems for them or their relatives in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Some feared they might be disowned if Jan got word to their families about their "immoral" living in London.

At a neighborhood restaurant one day I noticed that my waiter looked miserable. Khalil is a clean-shaven, broad-shouldered young Afghan who wears a gold ring in one earlobe. I asked why he was so unhappy, and he told me his story as he cleaned the table and took my order. He said he had been dumped a few days earlier by his girlfriend, a beautiful young Englishwoman. They were out walking when Talib Jan marched up and began denouncing Khalil, threatening to let his family back in Afghanistan know that their son was having a forbidden affair. The girl was frightened by Jan, but more than that, she was furious at Khalil for lying to her: he had told her he was Turkish. She told him they were through.

Now Khalil worries that same routine will be repeated with every girl he meets in London. He's convinced that Jan knows how to find his family in Afghanistan and can make big trouble for him there. "I wanted to marry that girl, but now I have no hope," he told me. "My family lives in the insecure countryside. If I go back and the Taliban know I have an English girlfriend, they will behead me." I asked if he thought Jan was an actual Taliban member. "No," Khalil answered. "He is not with the militias, but he is a big headache for every Afghan who knows him."

As far as I could tell, Jan is an armchair jihadist. I saw no sign that he had direct ties to the Taliban, or that anyone was paying him to proselytize. On the contrary, he works hard to support himself with business deals like buying and selling used cars. I often found him in a little store that sells mobile phones and watches at a London shopping plaza. A crowd of young, bearded men hangs out there: more armchair jihadists. The shop's 35-year-old owner, a Pakistani from Peshawar, loves to show them the latest Taliban videos on his mobile phone, featuring beheadings of alleged anti-Taliban "spies" and ambushes of U.S. forces. When asked if he worried that British authorities might discover his collection of videos, he told me: "If our Taliban brothers can stand up to B-52 bombing and modern U.S. war technology, it would be cowardly of me to be afraid to watch and share their heroic actions."

Brave words, I thought, but still the shopkeeper disturbed me. He was relatively well educated and a former banker, but made no secret of his Islamist leanings. Giving change, he avoids touching a woman's hand. He also tells a chilling tale—maybe true, maybe not—of his days as a radical religious student in Peshawar in the mid-1990s. He claims that he and a group of friends murdered several prostitutes there in what he called a "moral cleansing drive." He warned me against speaking against the Taliban even in London: people's loved ones at home could get hurt, he said darkly.

Jan, too, is always glad to pull out his Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone and share streaming videos of Taliban training camps and Coalition convoys hitting IEDs. He even has Taliban ring tones—fire-and-brimstone sermons and Qur'anic recitals from jihadist mullahs. If you want copies, he'll transfer them to your phone or point you to the right Web site. "I'm winning converts to a holy cause every day," he says. As for the cops, Jan says he's careful to break no laws and claims he's never had problems with the police. They seem to regard him as a deeply religious man, he says, or at least as a harmless eccentric.

In fact, Jan embodies a powerful need among many young Muslims in Britain to preserve a sense of identity in a strange land. One 50-year-old engineer told me he worries constantly about his four children, especially his two sons, ages 19 and 20. He says they seem addicted to Internet porn, but what scares him even more is the amount of time they spend on jihadist Web sites. He worries as well about extremist operatives who hang out at local mosques trying to recruit young people to the Taliban cause.

Extremism's appeal is especially strong for immigrants fed up with hard times and bigotry. In economically depressed Birmingham I met an unemployed man from Kandahar. He said he had just lost his job and feared he wouldn't be able to feed his family. "If I get hit by a car or bus one day crossing the street, who will look after my family?" he asked. "It would be better for me to go and fight and die with the Taliban. Then at least I could see paradise." One 35-year-old British Muslim told me he's infuriated by widespread discrimination. An office worker, he says he hasn't had a promotion in 10 years. The reason, he believes, is that he's an ardent Muslim who wears a long beard and never joins his coworkers at the local pub. "This kind of behavior is what makes Muslims extremist," he said. Jan himself says most Britons look on him with "love and kindness," but others occasionally stare at him with "hate" and won't sit next to him on the train. Their hearts, he says, "are black and full of enmity toward Muslims."

Most of these young men, even Jan, would probably never give up their lives in Britain to join the jihad in Afghanistan. But something of that far-off fight, some tinge of blood and chaos and hatred, has certainly seeped into London's streets. Alokozai, 27, arrived in London a year ago after an arduous trip via the Afghans' underground railway. He used to be an interpreter/fixer for British troops in Kandahar. The pay was excellent by Afghan standards—some $1,600 a month—but then the death threats began. His family's life would be worthless unless he left his job, the anonymous letters warned. He quit as he was told; in Britain he applied for political asylum, thinking he had finally escaped the Taliban's wrath.

Then the phone woke him one night at 3 a.m. "Death angels will soon clutch at your throat," an Afghan voice warned. "Remember, we have Islamic brothers in the U.K. Your family should not rest easy in Kandahar either." He says he could only listen to the voice, too scared to say anything.

Alokozai worries all the time now. Too many Afghans in London sympathize with the Taliban, he says. He thinks many recent asylum seekers, especially from southern Afghanistan, have ties to the Taliban and remain under the sway of extremist ideas. "They will create trouble for Britain in the near future," he predicts. But equally disturbing to him are the thoroughly assimilated Muslims who also treat him like a traitor to his religion. When they find out he worked for British forces in Afghanistan, they ask him, "How many houses did you bomb?" and "How many innocents did you kill?" "These people are as narrow-minded and have as much hate in their eyes as the Taliban do in Afghanistan," he says. "I cannot understand how these Afghans and Pakistanis can wear Western clothes, dance and drink, and then condemn me and see the Taliban as their heroes."

Neither can I. As I was riding the train one day, Owais, a 27-year-old Pakistani from Kashmir, began praising the Taliban and talking seriously of going to live in Afghanistan after Mullah Omar returned to power. "My fervent wish is that next winter we may be able to breathe freely in the restored Islamic state of Afghanistan," he declared in Urdu. Here you can breathe freely too, I told him. "No, only in a true Islamic state can we be free," replied his friend Ishaq. A 25-year-old Afghan immigrant, Ishaq wore a long, white tunic over his blue jeans. "The West is destroying the spirit, soul and values of Islam. Muslims should avoid contact with and coming to the West." As I go home to my family, I too wonder and worry about such men. There is too much of Peshawar in them, and in London.


Blatant black racism finally checked

Attorney General Eric Holder calls the U.S. “a nation of cowards” because we “do not talk enough about race.” I find this ironic, since the Justice Department seems embarrassed about a recent judgment in its favor by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. U.S. v. Ike Brown is a major Voting Rights Act case involving intentional race-based discrimination by local officials in Noxubee County, Miss.

When the Fifth Circuit issued its decision on February 27, there was complete silence from Justice. The department typically issues a press release after any significant litigation victory, and the Civil Rights Division trumpets every success. But not here. The silence from the nation’s leading news outlets was also deafening: Not a word was published about the case by the New York Times, the Washington Post, or any other major publication. Why? Because the offensive conduct at issue did not conveniently track with the Left’s view of race discrimination.

The Noxubee County case presents a deeply disturbing account of some of the most egregious racial discrimination the Justice Department has encountered in decades. In Noxubee, 80 percent of Democrats are black; 20 percent are white. (There are some Republicans as well, but the number is negligible.) The chairman of the Democratic party, Ike Brown, is black, and he, along with the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, set about to effectively disenfranchise white voters.

The court decision shows that Brown had his own local version of Tammany Hall, and local election officials followed his orders. This included publishing in the local newspaper a list of 174 white Democratic voters whose eligibility he intended to challenge if they tried to vote in an upcoming election. According to the court, Brown compiled the list based on the individuals’ perceived lack of support for black candidates. One voter testified that she was so intimidated she didn’t vote. Another testified that she was so scared she felt she couldn’t approach the polls alone.

The court also found that Brown took measures to ensure that absentee ballots from black voters were automatically counted even if they didn’t comply with Mississippi law, while absentee ballots from white voters with the same deficiencies were challenged and not counted. He even reviewed many absentee ballots the night before an election, placing notes on them saying which should be counted and which should be rejected.

One victim, whose absentee ballot was basically stolen by the defendants and whose signature on the application and ballot envelope were obviously forged, was brought in a second time to testify after she was confronted by a member of the local Democratic party following her initial testimony. The witness was told that “we black people need to stick together” and was urged to testify that she “probably didn’t understand what [she was] being asked” during the first go-around.

The court also found that Brown recruited black individuals to run for office against white incumbents despite knowing that they didn’t meet residency requirements; refused to appoint whites as poll workers; and sent out Democratic party members to give unrequested “assistance” to black voters, marking their ballots for them and telling them how to vote. All of this was intended to dilute the voting strength of white voters and to achieve his goal, which he openly expressed — “that all of the county’s elected officials should be black.”

Even after the lawsuit was filed and Brown’s lawyers told the federal court that Brown wouldn’t interfere in any ongoing elections, he continued his pervasive racial discrimination. In fact, he told a federal observer that “I don’t care what the court says. I am still primarily responsible for running this election.” That’s exactly the kind of defiance that white officials engaged in during the 1960s, when the Voting Rights Act was first passed.

None of these voting abuses in Noxubee County surprised the career lawyers at the Bush administration’s Civil Rights Division when they filed suit against Brown and the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee in 2005. Brown’s exploits were legendary. In fact, he had issued an open letter to county voters years before, urging them to “Keep Hope Alive [and] Vote Black in ’95.” Yet the Clinton administration’s Civil Rights Division consistently refused to take action.

This is probably one of the worst cases of intentional voting discrimination that the Justice Department has prosecuted since the 1960s. But the lawsuit was filed only after a vicious internal fight in the Civil Rights Division. Left-wing career lawyers in the Voting Section made it abundantly clear that they didn’t want to use the Voting Rights Act to protect white voters, no matter how egregious the violations. The former Voting Section chief even deleted the recommendation to file suit from the memo sent up to the Bush political appointees running the division. Other partisan career lawyers refused to work on the case. One who went to Noxubee County as an observer admitted to another lawyer that if he had seen the same type of illegal behavior being committed against black voters, he would have been outraged. But he wanted nothing to do with a suit filed on behalf of white voters.

Fortunately, the honest trial attorneys on the case did their best to ensure that the division’s political leadership knew about Brown’s outrageous conduct, and litigation was ultimately approved. Thanks to their hard work, the court found that the defendants had “intentionally discriminated against the county’s white voters in violation of § 2 of the Voting Rights Act,” “engaged in improper, and in some instances fraudulent conduct,” and “committed blatant violations of state election laws . . . for the purpose of diluting white voting strength.” These trial attorneys endured significant criticism and abuse from their colleagues for their work on the case and probably jeopardized their career advancement.

If the races had been reversed, does anyone doubt this would have been front-page news? Or that Eric Holder would have been prominently quoted in a Justice Department press release calling attention to this outrageous discrimination? The Department of Justice should be proud of this victory. If Attorney General Holder is serious about talking about race, perhaps he could start with this case.


New York's art world meets Cuba's communism

At the heart and soul of being an artist is freedom of expression. So how to explain all those upscale American artists, gallery owners, critics, and buyers, who are having a jolly good time at an art festival underway in Havana? How, in short, can these sophisticated folks reconcile the fact that artistic freedom does not exist in Cuba so long as Cubans do not enjoy the kinds of freedoms that Americans take for granted?

Well, don't look for an answer in a lengthy and upbeat article about the festival in the "Art and Design" section of the New York Times. The 10th biannual festival, as the Times cheerfully notes, is now in full swing after opening last Friday in Havana. And among the 300 artists on hand from 54 countries is "the biggest exhibition by American art galleries in Cuba since the 1959 revolution."

All in all, 30 American artists are having their wares presented in an exhibition called "Chelsea Visits Havana," put on by Megan Projects Gallery, located in Manhattan's trendy Chelsea section -- a hotbed for the city's trendy art scene. "The hope is that this will be a first step toward normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations," gallery owner Alberto Magnan, a Cuba-American, tells the Times. "Chelsea Visits Havana" includes works from more than two dozen trendy American art galleries.

As to the festival's theme, it's appropriate for one held in the hemisphere's last bastion of communism: "Integration and Resistance in the Global Age." Of course, there's apparently nothing in the exhibit about resistance to Cuba's communist government , which owns nearly all of the island's property and businesses and tolerates no serious non-violent dissent. In a brief paragraph, author Ian Urbina only hints at Cuba's repression, noting that a Cuban skate boarder whom he interviewed didn't want to be named. He was afraid he'd be "pegged as a dissident," Urbina explained.

While Urbana steers clear of criticizing Cuba's government, he does take some jabs at former President George Bush's administration, nothing it had denied many Cuban artists travel visas so that they could sell their work in the U.S. He writes:
Before the Bush administration stopped giving visas, many of Cuba's top artists spent months at a time in the United States or Europe. They stayed linked to the island partly because collectors are typically more interested in works produced by Cuban-based -- not immigrant -- artists. Now, with a new administration in Washington, many in the art world say they believe that there will be a loosening on restrictions, and that the Cuban art market will benefit.
Of course, there's another side to this. Those who do well in Cuba, those who make a good U.S.-style living (including artists), are those who play along with the communist charade to one extent or another.

All in all, the Times article ("Havana Biennial, in Which Chelsea Takes a Field Trip to Cuba") is an interesting commentary on America's sophisticated art world: collectors and galleries are more interested in the work of artists based in Cuba -- as opposed to those of Cuban expatriates who are free to express their creative impulses!

What explains the cognitive dissonance of all these sophisticated American artists, buyers, and collectors who are frolicking under the watchful eye of Cuba's secret police? Sarah Thornton, an art historian and sociologist, provides something of an answer in her book, "Seven Days in the Art World." As Publishers Weekly notes:
The hot, hip contemporary art world, argues sociologist Thornton, is a cluster of intermingling subcultures unified by the belief, whether genuine or feigned, that nothing is more important than the art itself. It is a conviction, she asserts, that has transformed contemporary art into a kind of alternative religion for atheists.
No wonder, then, that America's trendiest artist find it so easy to overlook and apologize for the regime that's providing them such a rollicking good time in Havana.


Bishops running amok

Pronouncing on matters outside their field of expertise is not confined to scientists. Comment below from Australia

There used to be a time when lefties regarded the church in all its forms as an enemy of freedom. In some of the bigger civil upheavals of the past century, Spain in the 1930s, France and Mexico in the late '60s, left-wing activists went so far as to physically attack the clergy. Today, the Left is more at risk of being rendered obsolete by the churches, which conspired this week to ensure that as the Group of 20 summit got under way in London, God should crash the party.

The God we saw in London this week was a much more supreme version of the supreme being most of us know. Not the kindly old white-bearded guy but an activist and thinker, a can-do, Keynesian God who believes that governments must play an interventionist role in the event of market failure. A God who regards climate change as the greatest moral challenge facing our generation, to quote St Kevin of Nambour, and wants us all to sign up to an emissions trading scheme.

Ahead of the G20 meeting most people would have assumed that the biggest lunatics would be the ones out on the street trying to set fire to Burger King, Laura Ashley and other examples of capitalism at its most sinister. But the anarcho-syndicalists and deep ecologists were out-weirded hands-down by the clergy.

In welcoming our Prime Minister to St Paul's Cathedral, Bishop of London Richard Chartres added a new ritual to the liturgy: not the jangling of the incense but the blowing of smoke up the arse. "It would not be too strong to say the election of Kevin Rudd constituted something of an Obama moment for that country," he said.

It's hard to fathom how the vicar drew such a parallel, although it should be remembered that this is the same bloke who wrote in The Times about the liberating powers of being retrenched and how "getting off the treadmill" can be good for the soul.

In fairness, it may have been the similarities between Rudd and Barack Obama's victory speeches that confused him. You'd remember Rudd saying: "We have put before the Australian people a plan, it's our agenda for work, and you know something? Everything I have said through this election campaign and in the year leading up to it is our agenda for work", in much the same way that Obama said: "Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope."

The Bishop of London was just the warm-up act. The star of the show was our very own George Browning, the former bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, who tastefully decided that a service in memory of the 173 people who died in the Victorian bushfires was the ideal spot for a free lecture on climate change. "We dare not contemplate a future without learning the lessons this experience has taught us," he said.

Browning didn't expand on the carbon footprint caused by the mileage of his Canberra-Sydney-Singapore-London-Singapore-Sydney-Canberra homily, as he was too busy making mileage out of our greatest natural disaster. It was audacity in the highest to deign to speak for the families of the dead, many of whom would not blame the disaster on climate change at all. Some of them might argue that it was more the result of staunch climate change adherents in local government who prevented land and home owners from cutting down trees.

Taste aside, the more fundamental point is whether a clergyman who makes a living talking fantasy has any standing to hold forth on the most complicated scientific question of our time. During the past year that great empiricist George Pell, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has written several columns saying he's yet to be convinced by the science on climate change. Now we have the likes of Browning at the other end of the spectrum. Both men also believe that it's possible to come back from the dead.

Maybe I should get the Bible out and have another flick-through, but I'm struggling to remember the passage about climate change, either for or against, unless it's referred to obliquely in Revelation along with that stuff about the seven-horned beast that will arrive shortly before The Rapture. I can't recall the section on financial regulation or monetary policy either, a problem not shared by the 32-member delegation of vicars, mullahs, rabbis and other holy men whose G20 communique just may solve the global financial crisis.

It went beyond the generic and vaguely admirable anti-greed stuff that underpins allreligions and instead offered precise suggestions to "restore that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity and the moral equivalent to safeguard human dignity". Sounds like God's backing the bailout, then. Maybe Kev sent him a $900 cheque, too; if dead people and prisoners got them, there's no reason deities should miss out.

A day ahead of the communique, the Pope upped the ante by urging Gordon Brown to embrace an ethical financial system and to ensure that developed nations did not wind back on their aid budgets as a proportion of gross domestic product, "especially for Africa and for less developed countries elsewhere". It was the Pope's first bit of assistance to Africa since his helpful observation to its vastly uneducated, highly religious poor last month that condoms only make AIDS worse, a bit like the old Methodist warning that sex should be avoided as it can lead to dancing.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, April 04, 2009

British justice works for once

Parents of killer teens jailed for lying to police. If it had not been such a high-profile case, the parents' action to protect their progeny would probably have been held to be part of their "human rights". One of the mothers is a prostitute so that would be in her favour these days. She is herself a "victim", of course. Could be an appeal on those grounds coming up, I'll guess

THE mother of the teenager who murdered British schoolboy Rhys Jones was jailed for three years today for lying to police during their investigation. Janette Mercer, 49, had pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court in February.

Mercer, from Croxteth in Liverpool, had backed her son when he told police he owned a black and cream mountain bike, not the silver bicycle captured on CCTV footage of the shooting of 11-year-old Rhys in August 2007.

Her son Sean Mercer, 18, was jailed for life in December for killing the schoolboy who died after being shot in the neck as he walked home from football practice across a Liverpool pub car park.

"Your son was a key suspect in the murder and you knew he had told a pack of lies," Judge Henry Globe told her, as Rhys's parents Stephen and Melanie Jones sat in the court to hear the sentencing, "You backed him up and you told more lies," the judge added, the Press Association reported.

Sean Mercer, a member of the Crocky Crew gang, had been aiming at members of a rival group, Norris Green's Strand Gang. After the shooting, Mercer cycled to the home of a 16-year-old boy where he hatched a cover-up plot with the help of six other Crocky Crew members to get rid of his clothing, bike and gun.

Also sentenced were Francis and Marie Yates, the parents of Sean Mercer's co-accused James Yates, who both pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice. Both were given 18 month sentences for destroying their son's mobile phone SIM card. Francis Yates, 49, was given an additional three years for helping establish a false alibi for his son.


More hatred of decent people from the British police

Student finds mobile phone while out celebrating his 18th birthday and is ARRESTED after handing it in to police

A college student who found a mobile phone while out celebrating his 18th birthday was arrested after handing it in to police. Teenager Paul Leicester was arrested for 'theft by finding' and detained for four hours. The Southport College A-level student eventually had the case against him withdrawn but said it was a 'shocking experience'.

Paul said: 'Being arrested isn't a way to celebrate your 18th birthday. What are you supposed to do when you find a phone? I told the last caller I would drop it off at the police station the next day. But they arrested me for theft by finding.' The teenager was kept by Merseyside Police in Southport police station for four hours and had his fingerprints taken, along with a DNA swab and a photo for police records. Officers then grilled him for 15 minutes about the alleged 'theft'.

Paul, who is of good character, has a Saturday job at a jewellers and is held in high regard by his teachers. The former Birkdale High School student, who lives in Seaforth, added: 'I want people to be aware of what happened. I thought I was doing the right thing and had it thrown back in my face. 'I would not go to the police in future. I would arrange for it to be collected by the last caller. All I was doing was the honest thing. It was a shocking experience.'

Paul's father Vinnie Leicester, 37, said: 'I'm disgusted and angry. It should never have happened. Paul's mum and I have brought him up the right way. It's ridiculous.'

A police spokesman explained the complaint of theft was subsequently withdrawn and Paul was released without charge. Sefton Area Commander, Chief Supt Ian Pilling, said: 'Merseyside Police has contacted Mr Leicester in relation to the incident and he does not wish to make a complaint against the police. As a matter of course we are reviewing the circumstances of the arrest.'


A Leninist View of the American Media

Conservative exasperation with media bias is a tired refrain, a waste of energy. Complaints of bias start from the premise that press coverage ought to be fair and objective. But is this the premise on which today's mainstream media is based?

It's not. The premise that now guides the mainstream media is something we haven't seen before in this country - thus the never-ending consternation of conservatives at the blatant bias of the media and the nonchalance of its practitioners when caught in the act. We have seen press behavior like this before, though - not here, but in China and the Soviet Union during their classical Leninist eras.

When studying Chinese and Soviet politics back in the 1960s and 70s, I lived on a constant diet of the People's Daily, Pravda, and their companion publications. It was clear from the first day that the press in Communist China and the Soviet Union was fundamentally different from ours. It had a different purpose, a different relationship not only to the political power structure, but to the truth itself. Railing at Chinese or Soviet media bias the way that today's conservatives whine about ABC or the New York Times would have been foolish. Instead, it was necessary to understand the assumptions and objectives that underlay media that was under Leninist control. How did they see their role in society? What did they see as proper and improper practice?

There are rules about how a Leninist press works - its operational code. When reading People's Daily and Pravda with these rules in mind, the controlled press made perfect sense. What's the point here? Troublingly, these same rules fit today's American mainstream media - and the media's relationship to the Democratic Party - nearly to a T.

But you be the judge. Here are the rules, as I discerned and formulated them. "Party" here refers to the governing Communist parties of China and the USSR, in their 20th century heydays.

* The press is part of the Party establishment, not an independent or adversarial entity. The press does not think of itself as a prisoner of the Party, resentfully forced to abandon objectivity in favor of propaganda. Rather, it sees itself as fulfilling a critically important role in supporting and expanding Party rule. Writers are not journalists in the classic Western sense, but are political activists or functionaries.

* The Party decides what is news, what is not, what will be reported, and what will not. The press is used to convey Party positions, and politically correct thinking, to the population. Grass-roots activists read, heed, and promote everything carried in the press. The general populace barely reads it, but has no other source of information or worldview, so tends to passively accept the press's messages.

* Articles must carry the interpretation of events that the Party wishes to convey, without regard to objective accuracy. The press evinces utter certainty of the wisdom and correctness of the Party's motivations, worldview, and policies; no differentiation - much less opposition - is allowed. From time to time, the Party uses the press to agitate the populace in a motivational campaign, aimed either at accomplishing a major goal (such as the Great Leap Forward), or criticizing a domestic Party opponent or a foreign country.

* The Party's leading individuals always receive deference, reverence, approval, even adulation. No criticism or adverse reflections on Party leaders are allowed. Senior Party figures have unrestricted access to press coverage. Investigative journalism is rare, and unthinkable if directed against Party organizations, leaders, programs, or policies.

* Individuals opposed to Party rule are selected as targets of disapproval, usually to the point of demonization. Criticism usually extends to allegations of personal corruption, wickedness, or barbarism. Terms used to vilify Party opponents are formulaic, seeming to draw from a lexicon developed for the purpose; there is little if any verbal creativity in criticism of Party-designated targets. Critics or independent thinkers who are not demonized become non-persons, ignored in all articles related to their areas of expertise or attention.

* Fabrication of events, quotations - even people - is permitted in furtherance of Party objectives. Historical facts, or previous Party positions, may be omitted or reshaped to fit current political requirements. The press will report no past error by the Party or its leaders, except when a leader or faction has fallen afoul of the current ruling Party group - then reporting takes the form of demonization.

* National security topics are viewed exclusively through the prism of Party interest. Threats will be ignored if the Party is not worried about them, or if in some way they reflect badly on the Party's performance in foreign affairs. Conversely, bogus threats will be touted if doing so is in the Party's interest.

* Independent media outlets are either forbidden, or permitted only if they address topics of no political impact.

When we look through this Leninist prism, the behavior of today's American mainstream media becomes quite comprehensible. Where conservatives see dishonesty, double standards, and deception, media practitioners see themselves as fulfilling their role in consolidating Party power in pursuit of a socialist utopia. They have fundamentally different ideas of the media's role in society.

How did this happen? Unlike the China or Soviet Union of the 1950s, there is no explicitly Leninist curriculum in the journalism schools, nor have the Democrats formally appointed political commissars on television and newspaper editorial staffs. Yet the effect is clearly apparent. There seems to be a natural, organic affinity between a political party with dictatorial ambitions and the press, and this makes formal indoctrination or routine enforcement unnecessary.

More interesting, what does this Leninist model predict for the mainstream media and its fealty to the Democratic Party? Today's media adhere closely to all the above rules except the last one: exclusivity. NBC or the New York Times may enforce ideological uniformity within their organizations, but what about independent, conservative voices like Rush Limbaugh or National Review?

Democrats have been explicit about plans to revive the Fairness Doctrine, whose implicit goal is to drive conservatives off the talk-radio airwaves. There is no reason to think that a new Fairness Doctrine would not also be festooned with prohibitions against public "hate speech," defined as anything critical of the Left's political program or personalities. Hate speech prohibitions could also be extended to the Internet, targeting conservative opinion sites and blogs. A compliant Supreme Court is only an appointment or two away.

Nor is direct government ownership of media outlets out of the question. We already have the Public Broadcasting System, and this model could be applied more broadly. In this era of government bailouts, how hard is it to imagine a national icon such as the New York Times, crippled by shrinking advertising revenues, seeking government support "in the public interest"?


Anti-Zionism as Anti-Semitism in Europe

Since the 1980s several high level European politicians have made radical anti-Semitic declarations which accorded with Arab and Muslim positions. In a public statement in 1982, Greek Socialist Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou compared Israelis to Nazis. But no mainstream European leader went as far as Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti, many times the Prime Minister and then the President of Italy, who declared in Geneva, during an inter-parliamentary conference in 1984,his support for a Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi motion, which equated Zionism with racism, supported the boycotting of Israel, and defended the right of the “armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine [that is terrorism]. Italy was then the only Western country to vote with the Soviet Bloc for this motion. Later, such occurrences became even more frequent.

In April 2002, Franco Cavalli spoke at a demonstration of the Swiss-Palestinian Society in Bern. He was then the parliamentary leader of the Social Democratic Party (SP), which is part of the Swiss government coalition. He claimed that Israel, “very purposefully massacres an entire people” and undertakes the “systematic extermination of the Palestinians.” Was he ignorant of the comparatively higher number of Palestinians massacred by the Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, and their own infighting, or did his anti-Semitism drive him to ignore the numbers? Or could he not explain why the Israelis were so inadequate and impotent at “annihilating” the Palestinians, that they are stronger and more numerous than ever before. Senior members of the Greek Socialist Party routinely used Holocaust rhetoric to describe Israeli military actions against Arabs, even when they are defensive in nature. In March, Parliamentary Speaker in Athens, Apostolos Kaklamanis, referred to the “genocide”of the Palestinians, forgetting that no one people can undergo so many genocides and still survive. Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat MP in the U.K. declared at a meeting of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 2004 that she might consider becoming a “suicide bomber” if she lived in the Palestinian territories. But in contrast to the other cases, which remained undisputed, her party distanced itself from her statement, explaining that it did not condone terrorism.

Raising the very question of Israel’s legitimacy, or even “recognizing its right to exist,” in itself carries a connotation of suspicion, uncertainty, hesitation, temporariness, and remonstration, as if it were under probation, like a criminal on parole, who has to prove constantly that he deserves his freedom. If Israel concedes, withdraws, shrinks back to its “natural size” (as the Egyptians would have it), obeys, effaces itself, admits “guilt” or plies to, in short behaves like a dhimmi of old, then it is considered by the nations of the world as peaceful, reasonable, moderate, and conciliatory. But when she stands up to her enemies, demands that her rights, territory, heritage, security, people, way of life, and sovereignty be safeguarded and respected, then the world is amazed at her arrogance, self-assertion, aggression, selfishness, spirit of rebellion, fanaticism, extremism, and disregard of others. When diplomats and world leaders admit Israel’s right to exist (thank you), this is often taken as a special favor to her and some Jews are happy at the daily confirmation of that favor, which they never take as a matter of natural right. The dhimmi spirit that they perpetuate dictates to them a grateful mode of behavior towards anyone who condescends to affirm what otherwise would have been considered a matter of course. Perhaps that is the reason why sixty years after Independence Jews continue to express in their national anthem the “hope” of attaining freedom in their land. They cannot believe they already have it.

Consider this: a major or minor world leader tells Israel that she has the right to exist, but she ought to evacuate territory, allow Palestinian refugees to go back to their previous homes, give up her defences, (fences) and depend on international guarantees. This means that her right to exist is conditional on her meeting certain expectations even if they run contrary to her interests or to her very chances of survival in a hostile environment. Thus, not only is Israel, of all nations, required to take steps towards her own demise, as a prerequisite to her conditional recognition by others, if she does not comply, her admission into the family of nations may be rescinded. Can anyone tell the British that they would be recognized provided they return the Falklands to their owners, or the Americans, the Canadians, and the Australians that they can be recognized only if they restored rights to the dispossessed natives that they had conquered, or that the Japanese, Syrians, Iraqis, and Sudanese will be accepted only when they recognize their minorities and stop persecuting them, or Iran, China, and Egypt—only if they accepted democracy or stopped threatening their neighbors? Unthinkable?

Not in the case of Israel, even though it cannot be reproached for any of those violations or improprieties. Take for example the question of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and the Jewish people for the past 3,000 years. In December, 1995, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a resolution, with an overwhelming majority, as in previous years, denying the validity of the Israeli laws, which confirmed united Jerusalem as the capital of modern Israel once again. That resolution also condemned the “Judaization” of Jerusalem as if someone could blame the Chinese for the Sinification of Beijing or the French for the Francification of Paris, or Saudi Arabia for the Islamization of Mecca. When the Arabs dominated East Jerusalem, which they never made their capital, not only did they effect a full Arabization of the city, but they did that to the detriment of Jewish sites such as Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, the Jewish Quarter, and no one complained (except Israelis, but they are not counted). But as soon as the Jews restored their sites to their sovereignty, without so much as touching the Aqsa compound, which the Muslims had knowingly constructed upon the holiest site of the Jews, outcries about “Judaization” began, which was heralded as “threatening world peace.” So, when the UN declares that the Israeli measures were “null and void,” one wonders whether the restored Jewish Quarter, which had been destroyed by the Arabs, should have remained in ruins, or demolished again after it was repaired, or that the reparations of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives, which had been demolished by the Jordanians and its tombstones used to pave a road, should revert to its state of profanation in order to qualify for the terms of that resolution.

In October 1996 the European community demanded that Israel should rescind all those measures of restoration and construction and return things to their “original state.” Original since when? If the splendor of Jerusalem is returned to its Davidic and Solomonic origins, then al-Aqsa Mosque should be removed to allow for the original Temple to re-emerge. Or perhaps they meant that the latrines that the Jordanians had constructed on the sites of the synagogues that they destroyed in the Old Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem should be reinstituted on the ruins of those now reconstructed sites? The occasion for those European demands was the reopening of an ancient tunnel, dating back 2,400 years in history, to the times of the Jewish Hasmonean Dynasty, before there was any idea of Europe, of Christianity, Islam, Arabs, or Palestinians. And because the Muslim Palestinians who had usurped the holy Jewish Temple Mount, now claim that the tunnel endangered their holy sites, themselves built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish Temple, the Europeans moved to make Israel close it again. And all that, under the Palestinian threat of violence if Israel would not conform. Which one of those new European nations would have acquiesced in a situation where its right to relate to its ancient heritage was called into question?

Jerusalem is but an example. At stake is the self-appointed right of Western countries to determine the standards of behavior to which Israel is held and their presumption to act as supreme arbiters of that conduct. Exactly like the Jews in their midst, treated with suspicion and guilty till proven innocent, so is the Jewish state. It is in this sense that the Jewish state has become the Jew among states. For decades, most nations took the right to call Israel “the Jewish State,” or the “Tel Aviv Government,” lending to it the same legitimacy as the “Vichy Government” ; they made their representations and sent their representatives to that non-existing address; the international media also dispatched their reports from Tel Aviv, while the pictures they showed often originated from Jerusalem, the seat of the government of Israel. All that in order to avoid recognition of Jerusalem, the ancient capital of Israel, which had predated their own respective capitals, as the reconstituted center of modern Israel. So widespread has been that fiction that many people ended up believing that it was Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, that was the capital of Israel. What other country in the world would have been submitted to such treatment, or accepted the systematic negation of its legitimacy, of which the choice of a capital city is part?

This inordinately critical view of the Jews in history has somehow carried over and rubbed off on Israel as well, and directly aided the Arabs and Muslims in their rejection of Israel, lock, stock, and barrel. The intense scrutiny and obsessive coverage of Israel’s every fault and detail sends to Tel Aviv (but more to Jerusalem) regiments of reporters and correspondents, more than to any other world capital save Washington, DC. And all those journalists have to justify their presence in Jerusalem (under the Tel Aviv disguise) and they hunger for news to feed their avid media audiences. Thus, the most absurd of gossip can become reported news, and the most insignificant events can become “history.”

In reports about the Intifadah, for example, articles were written about the special wood used to manufacture police truncheons to maintain order, and the workshops where they were made. Similarly, we have seen that the tedious and repetitive detail that is of no interest elsewhere finds its way into international media news. The nature of the “Jewish” truncheon, which caused suffering to the Palestinians and also tarnished the Jewish reputation, was only a symptom. No one has ever checked the truncheons used by the British police in Northern Ireland or by the French police in quelling street riots in the Parisian slums. But a Jewish truncheon deserves special scrutiny. Palestinian children and adolescents can throw Molotov cocktails at Israeli police, occasionally killing, wounding, or maiming them, but those are “only kids” standing up courageously against their oppressors; repressed by police wielding those redoubtable Jewish truncheons, for Jews have to submit to special standards of conduct, unlike all others.

A Palestinian spokesman made the remark: “We are so lucky that our enemies are the Israelis. If they were Singhalese, who would care to mention us?” The late Father Marcel Dubois, Head of the Dominican Order in Jerusalem, made a similar comment: “Had the occupied territories been under Margaret Thatcher’s responsibility, the Intifadah would have lasted three days only and no one would have talked about it any more.” Both statements were corroborated by a former member of the foreign press corps in Jerusalem Thomas Friedman, of the NewYork Times, who repeated the same observation in almost the same words: “the great luck of the Palestinians is that they are in a state of conflict with Israeli Jews.”



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, April 03, 2009

Britain: False rape accusation causes great distress and damage

Women don't make false rape accusations: Any feminist will tell you that. Good if it were true

Are there worse things for a man to be called than a rapist? If so, Peter Bacon - who still has the word ringing in his head and surely will for the rest of his life - struggles to think of them. 'Rapist. It's up there with paedophile, isn't it?' he says. 'Rape is one of those things for which there are no excuses. Socially, it's one of the worst crimes because no one can ever justify rape. 'I'd say it is worse even than murder, because there can be circumstances where you can attempt to justify murder. Personally, I'd have preferred to be in that dock accused of murder than rape.'

Of course, Peter isn't a rapist. This week a court said so. A jury declared he was nothing more than an ordinary young man who once had a drunken one-night stand - albeit one which went horribly, terrifyingly wrong. And yet the 26-year-old found himself accused: first, by the woman he slept with - a respected lawyer no less - who opened her eyes the morning after and screamed. Then by the authorities, who agreed that charges should be pressed.

It took more than a year for the case to come to court, and that has meant 13 months of whispers, finger-pointing and the assumption that everyone you encounter is thinking just one word. 'I can't even begin to describe how horrible that is,' he says, in his first interview since walking free from court on Thursday. 'Everywhere you go, you feel there are eyes boring into you. It was there in court, obviously, with the jury, the judge and people in the public gallery. I was thinking: "These people think I am a rapist. My God, they think I am capable of that." 'Outside court, too. People in the street. I was even paranoid of the builders in the car park. My friend would say "They are not looking at you", but in my eyes they were. Everyone was.'

And still are? He nods. The worst thing about a rape accusation, he points out and rightly so, is that it isn't shaken off easily. 'I'm an innocent man, but those charges are out there, for ever, on the internet. And these things stick. Some people will remember that I was actually acquitted, proved innocent. But for others, I'll just be yet another man who got away with rape, and that is devastating.

'What makes it worse is that she was the person she was. Imagine being accused of rape by a lawyer, for goodness sake? She knew the courts system. 'I was just this nobody - the accused. I was the lowest of the low.'

Peter admits that he harboured his own preconceptions about rape charges before 'all this'. Only a certain type of man would even find himself on a rape charge in the first place, wouldn't he? 'Exactly. And that man wasn't me. I'm not aggressive. I don't treat women badly. In fact, 80 per cent of my friends are women. It had never occurred to me that I needed to be worried about a one-night stand. I just never thought in a million years that I would be anywhere near a rape case. And yet I was, right in the middle of it.'

And how. His account of his ordeal should be read by every unattached young man heading for a night out. And every woman who might be tempted to mix alcohol and sex, then think of the consequences too late.

'At one point I thought I'd go to prison,' says Peter. 'When I first saw a lawyer, I said: "How bad could this get?" And he said: "You could be looking at 25 years." 'I just cried in the police cell, and that isn't me. I don't cry. But I pulled a blanket over my head, turned away from the security cameras to face the wall and just sobbed my eyes out. 'I cried again a year later, in the toilets of the courtroom, on the third day of the trial. My face had been all over the papers that morning. I couldn't get a grip. The security guard was just standing there as I cried myself stupid.'

In between those two sobbing fits, there were plenty more anguished moments. Peter was the first member of his social group to go to university, but he dropped out of his sociology course because he couldn't bear facing his fellow students after the charges were brought. 'I was at university in Kent, but got on the bus back home to Coventry the day after I was charged. I wanted to run away because I was so ashamed. Not because I'd done anything wrong, but because I knew people wouldn't see it like that.'

He still wonders if his life, as he had planned it, might be over, even though it took a jury only 45 minutes to return with an emphatic 'not guilty' verdict. He may be back at university, but his romantic life has pretty much ground to a halt since that February night of last year. 'I'd like to have a girlfriend, but it's been impossible. You get chatting to a girl in a bar and you have to tell them sooner rather than later, don't you? How the hell do you start that conversation?'

The career he had planned is pretty much in tatters, too. 'I'd been thinking of teaching, but that's out the window. 'My DNA is on a database. There are records. I don't know if this case would be brought up on an initial search, but if they go digging it will be there. And who would let me work with children? 'If it was a choice between someone with a rape charge lingering in the past or someone without, which one would you choose? I'd do exactly the same.'

So how on earth did an obviously bright young man, with impeccable manners, find himself in this situation? The first thing he seems desperate - perhaps understandably so - to stress is that he is no womaniser. Before the romantic encounter in question, he'd had three serious relationships, each lasting between a year and two-and-a-half years. 'I do get female attention, yes, but I'd say I am the sort of bloke who is happier in a relationship, but I'd split up with a long-term girlfriend just before that night, and, yes, I was single. 'People have assumed I was out there looking for sex. I wasn't; I was just having a good night out. But when things happen, well, I wasn't going to say no.'

His accuser was not a stranger. They had met twice before that night, having been introduced by a mutual friend. In her 40s, she was several years his senior, and from the off he had been intrigued by her. One night, having a few drinks after work, he received a text from his friend, inviting him to the woman's house. He, of course, was only too happy to go along. 'I was fascinated by her, yes, of course. She was a lawyer. Successful. Attractive. She had great taste, liked good music. 'But I didn't go there thinking it was going to end in sex with her. It was a social thing, really. I thought I'd like to try moving in those circles, meeting important people. I wanted to get on.'

That the attention he received from this woman had a sexual edge was flattering, though. 'Of course. She's an attractive woman. What young man wouldn't be flattered by that?' When he arrived at the house, he'd already had three beers. He can't remember how much wine he went on to consume, but the woman told the court that she had something approaching four bottles of wine.

In a sober courtroom, these sorts of events can sound like hedonistic orgies, but Peter says it was nothing of the sort. 'It was just your typical get-together. Music. Dancing. Everyone a bit merry. That's how I would describe her. She was on great form, chatty. She'd obviously been drinking, but was she paralytic? Absolutely not.'

There was flirting, and lots of it, he says. When the other friend left, leaving Peter and the woman alone, things got physical. They went upstairs. She performed a sex act on him. Then there was full sex. He is embarrassed about going into the nitty gritty. For good reason, too. However nice a guy he seems, there is something repellent about the idea of a man pursuing sex with a woman who has consumed four bottles of wine. It isn't gentlemanly, is it?

'But she didn't seem drunk to me. Merry, yes. Off her face, no. If she'd been all over the place, falling, not making any sense, I wouldn't even have thought about sleeping with her, of course I wouldn't. It would have been disrespectful to her, and to me.' Instead, he says she was 'fully cooperative' and the liaison was ' reciprocal'. 'Yes, she enjoyed it as much as I did, or she seemed to.' Did she do the seducing? 'I'd say it was a mutual thing. We were adults. It was two adults doing what two adults do.'

Was it always going to be a regrettable sort of one-night stand, though? He says, not necessarily. 'I'd say I regarded it as a one-night stand with potential. I don't know if it would have led anywhere, but the possibility was there.' He certainly wasn't planning to bolt out of the house at the crack of dawn, though. 'Absolutely not. There was the expectation that I'd have a coffee, chat a bit, help her tidy up the house, which was in a mess after the night before. Instead, it just became . . . madness.'

What he means is that the woman opened her eyes, took one look at him and became hysterical. 'She was just screaming at me, saying that because she didn't remember anything I must have raped her. She was going on about how the law had been changed to protect women from people like me. I was completely thrown, just bewildered. 'She was screaming at me to get out, and I was running round trying to find my clothes. I got my trousers and shoes, but I couldn't find my socks. They tried to make something about that in court, but my God, what did socks matter in all of that?

'I remember her going on about how she needed her phone, so I went to the kitchen and got it for her. I knew I was going to leave, but I thought she would be safe if she had her phone and could call for help. 'I just wanted a minute to think.' On the doorstep, he says he needed only ten seconds to realise how serious things were. 'I did the only thing I could think of doing, which was to call 999. Afterwards, I did think: "Was it an emergency?" Well, yes, at that moment I thought it was. I just wanted the police to come and, I don't know, sort it out. I remember saying: "You have to get here."'

Did he call the police for the woman's sake, or his? 'I don't know. A bit of both, I guess. She was in a terrible state and I didn't know what else to do.' The 999 operator told him it was not an emergency and he needed to contact his local police station. He walked straight there - only to find it closed. 'It was all a bit farcical, looking back. I couldn't even find the door, then realised it was a glass thing that was locked.

That afternoon, the police did turn up and arrested Peter. He was allowed to make his one call from the police cell before he was questioned. 'I called my dad and said: "Dad, I've been arrested for rape." I tried to explain more, but they said: "No, that's it." My poor dad. For four hours that was all he knew. He was going out of his mind.'

And so began what he can only describe as 'this unimaginable nightmare, from which there was no waking up'. 'At every step, I thought: "Someone will realise how mad this all is and stop it." But that never happened, until, thank God, the jury came back.'

'The thing I've come to feel angry about is how powerless men like me are. Traditionally, there have been very strong feminist voices lobbying about rape issues, but there is no male equivalent, and maybe that is needed.'


Another deliberately false rape accusation in Britain

Man cleared of rape after court shown phone footage of woman 'actively' taking part in sex. The bitch should be sued for false accusation. The Brits have occasionally put women away for that

A businessman was cleared of raping a university student today after jurors were shown video footage of their sex session. Gary Taylor, 41, was accused of attacking the 27-year-old woman after turning up at her flat with cocaine and a bottle of red wine. The woman, who can't be identified for legal reasons, told jurors that Mr Taylor forced her to perform a sex act on him and then raped her in her living room.

But during cross-examination she was shown footage Mr Taylor had taken on his mobile phone during the encounter on September 26, 2008. Mr Taylor's barrister Karen Holt said the footage showed the woman 'actively' performing a sex act on him.

Judge Christopher Moss QC closed the public gallery before a graphic clip filmed by the woman was shown to the jury. The judge warned: 'You are going to see a clip which from what I have been told you may find extremely distasteful. To avoid making it a peep show, I have ordered the public gallery to be cleared.'

After the footage was screened, Miss Holt said to the alleged victim: 'You and Mr Taylor were very familiar with each other and comfortable in each other's presence.' The woman said: 'I don't think I was happily talking to him.' She also denied 'actively' performing a sex act on Mr Taylor.

The prosecution offered no evidence following advice from the judge. Mr Taylor, who runs a multimedia company, was cleared of four charges of rape and walked free from court.

The Old Bailey heard police had arrived at the victim's flat in Wood Green, North London, in the early hours of the morning after reports of a disturbance. She made a complaint of rape and Mr Taylor was arrested at the scene. Giving evidence she told the court: 'He wanted to be intimate. Maybe he thought he could force me into it but he went too far. 'He thought he could be persuasive and it went too far. He kept trying to kiss me that evening and I was saying no. 'I was quite drunk. He was on top of me at some point with his hand on my mouth.'

Mr Taylor, from Hornsey, North London, denied four counts of rape, including two of rape by oral penetration. The woman had not seen the film of her having sex with Mr Taylor before it was shown to the court.


Are women sexually liberated, or just confused?

Are we living in an age of sexual freedom, or are women more confused and unfulfilled than ever?

We live in a highly sexualised society, one that has handed women the ostensible right to be as free, as wild and as pleasured as they wish. From the cultural looks of things, you’d think women were having sex round the clock. Agent Provocateur is a brand like no other. Soon it will add furniture and bed linen to its sales of erotic books, £175 handcuffs and the sort of sellout frillies seen on your favourite female fashion icons.

In China, vibrator manufacturers are one of the few industries weathering a global recession. Rampant Rabbit enthusiasts rave about the latest model, the bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming, “My other ride is a rabbit”. Sex toys are chic lifestyle accessories. Recently, a PR punting JimmyJane’s Little Something line of precious-metal vibrators closed her pitch with “Kate Moss bought the gold one”.

Older women are characterised as foxes or, the more predatory American term, cougars. Just work at it and you fortysomething pluses can retain a plumptious, fecund look well into middle age. If you don’t find that older-lady-loving junior down the pub, meet him online at the unequivocally named Toyboywarehouse.com.

We appear to be living in a golden age of female sexual awareness and fulfilment, doing anything and everything on top of what our sexually naive mothers and grandmothers apparently did out of duty or for a washing machine. Our favourite lady authors have written In Bed With, a collection of erotic stories that its editors, Kathy Lette and Imogen Edwards-Jones, call “female masturbatory material”. Nike sells sport to women with the promise that it will improve their sex lives. Even our favourite blusher, by Nars, is called Orgasm.

Performance anxiety

Yet, in among the glossy portrayal of our intimate moments, the truth about our sex lives is notoriously difficult to track — not least because people lie in surveys that are already suspect in their mission. What is clear is that women find the cultural environment a gigantic cause for performance anxiety. It wasn’t hard to find someone who had actually experienced the following scenario, outlined to me by Brett Kahr of the Society of Couple Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists: couple in bed, wife “down there” performing an “oral sex act”, husband neatly propped up on the White Company best, answering e-mails on his BlackBerry. And this very obvious example of the modern world entering the bedroom is only the proverbial tip. The window of Agent Provocateur is not the window into the sexual soul of British women, more’s the pity.

Kahr’s study of 14,000 British people found that 21% of us have no sex at all, 32% have it once a month and 44% once a month to once a week. According to these figures, women are having less of everything than men, except celibacy. And while the April cover of Cosmo screams, “Your orgasm! The secret to super satisfaction every time”, a Stanford University study found women in sexual liaisons orgasm only 80% as often as men, when, in theory, they could easily beat men hands down, as it were. Finally, in totally unscientific cyber-noseyiness, I posted something on Facebook asking women if they were “getting enough”. Most answered, “no”, citing the obvious, such as tiredness, stress, kids and lack of time and/or men.

Selling sex

Fifty years ago, in The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir described womanhood as a socially constructed activity; today, after several waves of feminism, and a recognised right to contraception, sexual pleasure and all that, we still find our sexuality defined by pop music, glossy magazines, advertising and pornography. Dr Petra Boynton, a sex psychologist, sees the very commercialisation that makes us seem so free as the reason we’re not satisfied. “The scented candles, the lingerie, the stuff — it doesn’t explain how anything works, it just presents a dream,” she says. “Sex has become mandatory, competitive and commercialised. Vested commercial interests suggest it could be great, if only you had their product.”

Are the women walking down the street proudly swinging their pink-and-black AP bags empowered, sexually charged and free, or are they just... shopping — our sexual empowerment often seems all about the bucks and not the actual bang. Joe Corre, the owner of Agent Provocateur, sees the brand as empowering — and on a fundamental level, who isn’t going to give three cheers for nice knickers? “Our ideal is to create a sense of sex and power, of celebrating femininity,” he says. But the pressure can be crushing. “Two years ago, on my birthday, I spent a lot of money in Agent Provocateur,” says a thirtysomething on her second marriage, including “handcuffs, stockings and several sets of lingerie. It was memorable for all the hope I pinned on it. My husband and I stayed in a hotel and I remember a great sense of disappointment that the sex wasn’t perfect”.

The idealised body

At Beautcamp Pilates, a chain of exercise studios that serves the very women who like to swing by AP to see what’s new in, there are whispers about women having the odd orgasm during class. Its workout machines, called reformers, involve taking a very coital position, legs spread wide in the air, in something like gynae stirrups. The owner, Dominique Day, is circumspect, however. “A few yummy mummies have admitted they come here as a replacement for sex,” he says, “because they are not getting any from their stressed husbands.” Meanwhile, Rowan Pelling, the sex commentator and writer, says the reason women aren’t getting enough is that they’re “too busy going to the gym when they should burn off those calories in bed”. The attempt to hone an idealised sexy body is certainly part of the passion-killing zeitgeist. Boynton says the commercialisation of sex as status symbol “sets up the idea that sex only happens in really pricey knickers. It excludes women. It’s an elitist model from which women without money or a certain body shape are excluded”.

A lovely-looking make-up artist in her mid-thirties agrees: “It’s all so competitive. Women are made to feel they have to look the part for ever, you can’t just let it go. My partner left me eight months after I had a baby, saying he ‘couldn’t feel a thing’. Deserted, I felt fat, saggy and unattractive. I find everyone, from Madonna to Kerry Katona, totally depressing, with their sparkly looks put down to ‘lots of fruit and veg’, when we all know it’s personal trainers, Botox and retouching.”


Bettina Arndt outrages the feminists with some home truths again

I knew her father, Heinz Arndt, the economist. A very realistic guy. Bettina seems to have inherited that. I am glad that she seems to be firing on all cylinders again after the tragic death of her beloved husband, Dennis Minogue. Part of her strength probably comes from the fact that she was a "Daddy's girl" when she was a child. As she has rightly said: "There's nothing like growing up with a dad who adores you, you know". There's a great interview with her here

The sex therapist Bettina Arndt's latest book The Sex Diaries has been selling like hottie-cakes, with 10,000 off the shelves in the first three weeks. But it's not just book sales that are up. There may be an Arndt-led recovery of bedroom hanky panky if wives heed her message that their poor deprived husbands deserve more sex.

Based on the bedroom revelations of 98 Australian couples over six to nine months, it has lifted the lid on the unspoken topic of men and women's biologically mismatched sexual desire. From the Hindustan Times to the E Yugoslavia website, Arndt's exhortation to women to do their "wifely duty" and beef up the sex supply, has certainly been a headline grabber. "It simply hasn't worked to have a couple's sex life hinge on the fragile, feeble female libido," says Arndt. "The right to say 'no' needs to give way to saying 'yes' more often."

Of course she has been excoriated by feminists for saying that much marital disharmony might be overcome if women just "put the canoe in the water" and start paddling, even if they don't feel like it. "Bettina Arndt rape cheerleader" was one furious blog response. "F--- you, Bettina Arndt," was another. Eva Cox of the Women's Electoral Lobby launched a counterattack, claiming that it's men's own fault they aren't getting enough sex, because they don't do their fair share of housework. "After an evening of organising kids, dinner, the shopping, the washing, the homework, etc, maybe [women] are too tired to want sex."

It's an old excuse. As Arndt says, any time men complain about something, even in the anonymity of a sex therapist's book, feminists hit back with the housework furphy. The fact is, when you add up in-home and out-of-home duties, men work just as many hours as women, and sex has very little to do with it.

The latest ABS social trends survey, released last week, found that women do almost twice as much housework as men - 33 hours and 45 minutes a week. But while men might not do as much vacuuming and ironing, they spend a lot more time than women working outside the house in paid jobs - an average of 31 hours and 50 minutes a week, compared with women's 16 hours and 25 minutes.

In other words, men and women do about the same amount of work in total - about 50 hours a week each. It's called division of labour and it has long been the negotiated settlement of marriage.

Men have tried to up their share of housework - by 8 per cent - since 1992. But it doesn't seem to have increased their share of sex, judging by The Sex Diaries. In her chapter "Laundry Gets You Laid?", one of Arndt's diarists describes her husband as the "domestic God", yet their libidos are still worlds apart.

Another diarist, Mary, 42, has put her husband on sex "starvation rations" until he does more housework. But, she admitted: "[My husband] argues that even if I were a lady of leisure with a maid and housekeeper and no need to work … I still wouldn't be interested in sex. I deny deny and deny, but deep inside I have to admit there is a chance he might be right."

Housework is just one of the excuses used by women to fend off their partner's advances. Only 10 per cent of Arndt's female diarists had higher sex drives than their partners and her book is full of the anguish of the other men, whose wives have just lost interest.

Arndt said yesterday that female libido is so fragile it is easy to find excuses not to have sex. But desire is a decision. Women "have to make a decision to put sex back on the to-do list because if you allow these other things to swamp your sexual interest your relationship will be in real trouble".

Of course, "resentment is a passion killer", and unequal share of household duties has long been high on a woman's list of resentments. "But it strikes me as being so unfair that women feel entitled to voice their complaints and demands of a relationship, yet a lot of men have at the absolute top of their wants and needs more sex and it's been totally ignored. "How can we justify simply shutting up shop or forcing a man into a life spent grovelling for sex?"

The picture Arndt gets from her male sex diarists is in large part a lament for love denied. They love their wives but desperately need the intimacy they used to have. They feel cheated. "I am totally at a loss as to what to do," writes Andrew, a 41-year-old diarist, married for six years, with two children. He and his wife used to have sex every day but are down to once every five or six months. "I do love her and I think she loves me but I cannot live like a monk. "What makes women think that halfway through the game they can change the rules to suit themselves and expect the male to take it?"

Arndt is not suggesting women have sex against their will, but to heed new research that shows they may still enjoy sex even if they didn't crave it in the first place. Mismatched desire need not spell the end of a couple's sex life.

The other side of the equation is women's guilt at their own lower sex drive. Understanding that male and female sex drives are different was the key to rapprochement in the bedroom, she said. "It's all about walking in each other's shoes. Most of the women are upset that they don't want sex. It's not a deliberate thing … but we have to find a way around it if we have marriages lasting 40 years."

Since the book was published, Arndt has been inundated with emails and messages from frustrated men. But she has also touched a nerve with women. The day after Arndt appeared on the ABC's Lateline to promote her book, a friend told her that every woman in her tuckshop group had sex with their husbands.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, April 02, 2009

A biting comparison from Taranto

Government schools in San Francisco are trying to boost their students' aspirations, the San Francisco Chronicle reports:
"Remember the first time you heard Jimi Hendrix?" reads the cover of the district's new 51-page education guide. "Our plan is as transformational now as his music was then!" The manifesto is aimed at transforming the educational "experiences for every child in each of our schools." To drive home the point, a portrait of the '60s rocker--looking somewhat pensive, somber and perhaps stoned--graces the cover and every page of the manual. The book also comes with a Hendrix poster and Hendrix-emblazoned canvas bag, which were handed out to a couple hundred administrators at Superintendent Carlos Garcia's back-to-school confab in September.
An editorial in the same day's Chronicle faults the San Francisco school board for defying the will of the voters and refusing to preserve the city's Junior ROTC program:
The program will come to a halt in June unless board members vote to reverse a November 2006 decision to end it. Last November, San Francisco voters endorsed an advisory measure, Proposition V, in support of keeping JROTC.
The usual complaint--opposition to the federal law barring open homosexuals from serving in the military--doesn't apply here: "Young people of all sexual orientations are welcome in the San Francisco program." But ultraliberal school board members still object to JROTC as, in the Chronicle's words, "an indoctrinating recruiting tool."

So in San Francisco, if you're willing to risk your life for your country, you must be brainwashed. If you choke to death on your own vomit, you're a role model.


There are none so blind...

The article by a female writer below expresses contempt for women who have boob jobs. She seems genuinely unable to see why they do it. That men like bigger breasts and that women want to attract the widest possible choice in men seems quite beyond her. I guess she is a feminist who fails to understand normal human urges. On the other hand, maybe she likes men and resents the competition for them. I see no sign of that though. I think her juices are lacking

NOT all boobs are made the same. Some are made of soft squishy breast tissue, and others are fake. And the man-made ones look and act differently on their host bodies to the natural ones - tauter, rounder, perkier.

A friend recently commented to me that she noticed at the beach that a significant proportion of the young women she saw there had had boob jobs. Her observation is a sign that there has been a big change in attitude to, and uptake of, boob jobs. It is no longer the domain of stars and celebrities. Cleavage is now the right of every girl.

What to make of this trend? Is having your body cut into and stuff inserted to look hot a good thing? Is it simply a sign of young women making choices that please them, and therefore a symptom of the increasing confidence of young women to get what they want? Is it empowerment via the surgeon's blade? Or is it a more sinister co-opting of the minds and bodies of young women by patriarchy?

Growing up in the '70s, the sisterhood told young women that they did not have to conform to a particular stereotype of femininity. Susan Faludi in the '90s argued that preoccupation with looks took women's time and energy away from things that were more important in their lives. Are these ideas now outmoded? When I am disturbed about the trend towards plastic surgery among young women, am I a victim of frumpy moralising who needs to get hip to the funky new feminist agenda of individual choice?

Even if I just accept that women are free to choose to spend their money however they want, I still struggle with what the economists call the opportunity cost. A boob job costs about as much as a new small car, so what else could those young women have bought with their money? Take your pick from the very long list of social goods that money can buy: microcredit loans for developing countries, vaccinations, education resources. Or, closer to home, you could buy many funky threads, or even that new car.

Maybe those pneumatically enhanced young women on the beach have invested both in their bouncing bazumbas and in projects that develop social capital. Or maybe spending such an amount on their boobs is a symptom of a myopic focus on appearance at the expense of attention and concern for less cosmetic social goods.


Blue-Eyed, Brown-Eyed Bunkum

Corina Knoll is a young Korean-American journalist at the Los Angeles Times who recently interviewed and wrote a revealing appreciation of Jane Elliott, an Iowa teacher who made, first, headlines and then, fame and at least some fortune, with a controversial method she developed of teaching whites how racist they are.
Elliott ... created a now-famous exercise for her classroom of white third-graders. It was the day after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and she was struggling to explain the concept of racism.

She hit upon an idea: For an entire day, she conducted her class as if the brown-eyed children were superior to those with blue eyes. Elliott eventually made headlines, appeared on “The Tonight Show” and became the subject of multiple documentaries.

Three decades later, my high school sociology teacher played us snippets of a news program about the “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. For a 16-year-old Korean adoptee growing up in Iowa, the most fascinating aspect was this: Elliott had made history in Riceville, two hours from my hometown.

The daughter of white parents, I grew up in a predominantly white city, attended an overwhelmingly white school and interacted mostly with white friends. The subject of race in my community was hidden, buried under rhetoric that insisted we remain “colorblind.”

Elliott was the first white person I ever heard who admitted to the privileges of whites, acknowledging that visible differences affect how the world perceives us. Her words sparked a hunger in me for more.
She found it and, in the words of Richard Palmer, a reader who pointed me to her column, “went on to become yet another race obsessed journalist.”

Jane Elliott, however, is another story, a fascinating case, perhaps the founding mother of race-obsessed white guilt in America. According to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine, her work
is sometimes cited as a landmark of social science. The textbook publisher McGraw-Hill has listed her on a timeline of key educators, along with Confucius, Plato, Aristotle, Horace Mann, Booker T. Washington, Maria Montessori and 23 others.
As Jane Elliott herself is only too happy to tell you,
Jane Elliott, internationally known teacher, lecturer, diversity trainer, and recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors. And if you think this does not apply to you. . . you are in for a rude awakening.

In response to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. over thirty years ago, Jane Elliott devised the controversial and startling, “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. This, now famous, exercise labels participants as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposes them to the experience of being a minority. Everyone who is exposed to Jane Elliott’s work, be it through a lecture, workshop, or video, is dramatically affected by it.
“Rude” does seem to be the word for Elliott’s method. Alan Charles Kors, a distinguished historian at the University of Pennsylvania who has written a thorough and perceptive analysis of the movement Elliott embodies, describes her as the “Torquemada of thought reform.” And he’s not alone. Linda Seebach, a former columnist for the former Rocky Mountain News (perhaps it couldn’t survive her retirement) wrote in 2004, quoted in the Smithsonian article linked above,
that Elliott was a “disgrace” and described her exercise as “sadistic,” adding, “You would think that any normal person would realize that she had done an evil thing. But not Elliott. She repeated the abuse with subsequent classes, and finally turned it into a fully commercial enterprise.”
According to another discussion of Elliott’s work,
The BBC opines that her training style is “uncompromising, brusque and authoritative. She tells her captive audience, she is their “resident BITCH for the day – Being In Total Control Honey.” Strong critics of Elliott, such as Carl F. Horowitz call her the “Dominatrix of Diversity” who wages “…psychological warfare against employees – more specifically, white employees….” [Citations omitted]
More from Kors on Elliott’s Iowa beginning:
Blue Eyed arose from Elliott’s elementary school class in Riceville, Iowa, where, starting in 1968, she inflicted upon her dyslexic students an experience in which they were loathed or praised based upon their eye color. According to Elliott, she was ostracized for this experiment, her own children were beaten and abused, and her parents (who were racists, she informed a Dutch interviewer) were driven into isolation, bankruptcy, and despair because they had raised “a nigger lover” (one of her favorite terms).

In her modest explanation, once news of her exercise with the children made it onto national television, the people of Riceville feared that blacks across America would assume that everyone there was like Elliott and would move to their town. To punish her for that, they stopped buying from her father. Elliott also revealed to her Dutch interviewer that she abandoned teaching school in 1984 to devote herself full time to diversity education, for which she receives $6,000 per day from “companies and governmental institutions.”
The Los Angeles Times’s Knoll reports her income more recently (Kors was writing in 2000) as “about $7000 a day,” but she tells essentially the same story:
Customers stopped patronizing the hotel her parents managed. Passersby called her names and shouted insults. The bowling team that she had long played for replaced her, and she was no longer invited to play bridge. Her children were spat on and knocked down, their belongings defaced.

When Darald got a job managing a supermarket in nearby Osage, the family was happy to move, although Elliott stayed on as a teacher in Riceville and continued to conduct the exercise. She still marvels that she wasn’t fired, believing it was because four generations of her family had lived in the community.

“And I’m white, so I have credibility,” she adds....
Despite Elliott’s financial success, there is something worse than sad here, more like pathos. Knoll writes that “Elliott's outspoken personality clearly continues to chafe on many.”
She says friends her age are hard to make, and over the years her relationships with her family deteriorated. Her mother and siblings asked her not to come around because she made them uncomfortable. Elliott's mother died seven months ago; she did not attend the funeral.
It is a measure of Knoll’s “race obsession,” I think, that leads her to attribute Elliott’s difficulties with friends and family merely to her “outspoken personality” that makes them “feel uncomfortable.” Nevertheless, both Knoll and Elliott believe that Elliott’s sacrifices were “worth it” because of, well, Knoll herself. At the end of the interview, Elliott asked Knoll:
“Did it make a difference to you when you heard about it?”

I think about a Midwestern girl who wasted years yearning to be white, who believed life would be easier, happier, better, if her brown eyes were not almond-shaped, who wavered between feeling insecure and invisible, and whose heart leaped upon learning of the blue-eyed woman who spoke of white privilege and institutionalized racism.

Did Jane Elliott’s work make a difference to me? Yes, so much so that I felt the need to seek her out just to let her know. Elliott listens, then turns away and sighs. “Yeah,” she says softly. “It was worth it.”
This is a variation on the theme that we’ve seen many times (such as here, here, and here) from many defenders that affirmation action must be worth it because it helped ... them.

Here’s a bit more on Elliott’s method and message, from Kors:
In Blue Eyed [a training film based on one of her workshops], masochistic adults accept Elliott’s two-and-a-half-hour exercise in sadism (reduced to 90 minutes of film), designed to make white people understand what it is to be “a person of color” in America. To achieve this, she divides her group into stupid, lazy, shiftless, incompetent, and psychologically brutalized “blue eyes,” on the one hand, and clever and empowered “brown eyes,” on the other. Some of the sadism is central to the “game,” but much is gratuitous, and it continues after the exercise has ended.

Elliott is unbearably tendentious and ignorant. To teach what an IQ test truly is, she gives the brown eyes half of the answers to an impossible test before the blue eyes enter the room, explaining that, for people of color, the IQ exam is “a test about which you know absolutely nothing.” IQ tests only measure “white culture.” They are a means of “reinforcing our position of power,” and “we do this all the time in public, private, and parochial schools,” using “culturally biased tests, textbooks, and pictures on the wall...for white people.”...

... [I]n her view, nothing has changed in America since the collapse of Reconstruction. Every day in the United States, she explains, white power keeps black males in their place by calling them “boy” (two syllables, hissed), “and we do it to accomplished black males over 70, and we get away with it.” We tell blacks to assimilate, which means merely to “act white,” but when they try that, we put them in their place and change the rules. For example (this in 1995), whites now are building up Colin Powell, but as soon as they build “this boy” up, they will kick him down. For Elliott, the Powell boom was a conscious conspiracy to humiliate and disorient blacks.

She teaches her “blueys” with relish that protest accomplishes nothing, because if blacks protest, “we kill them.” It is not smart to speak up or act clever, which is why blacks appear passive and stupid. The lesson: “You have no power, absolutely no power. ...Quit trying.” Blacks might try to “win” on the inside, but it is almost impossible to validate oneself when white society puts you down “all day, every day.” ....

In short, this is America, and there truly is no hope. Nothing ever changes. No one can succeed by effort. Culture, society, and politics all are static. “White privilege” controls all agencies of power, influence, and image, and uses all the means that arise from these to render “people of color” psychologically impotent, confused, passive, and helpless. So either vent your hatred or assume your guilt.
Based on Knoll’s interview just before last fall’s election, the rise of Obama did not seem to have much of an impact on Elliott’s views.
It is late October, five days before the United States elects its first black president, and Elliott is in a dither. Her Iowa absentee ballot in favor of Barack Obama was mailed in weeks ago, although she worries about what he’s up against.

“Whatever a black person does, he has to do twice as good as a white person to be thought of as half as good,” she says, her sharp voice rising.

Dressed in a pink cotton shirt, jeans and white tennis shoes, Elliott is the picture of a grandmotherly retiree, but her voice remains that of a stern teacher. Obama “mustn’t look angry because we have demonized black men,” she says. “He knows exactly how to get accepted. He’s a bargainer . . . and that’s OK if that’s what it takes to get white people to listen.”
Finally, even leaving aside Elliott’s dismal, deterministic view of the inoperable rot of racism at the core of American society, it seems to me that there is a fundamental inconsistency at the core of the blue eyed/brown eyed exercise. First, note that Jane Elliott herself tells us that the meaning, the significance, of her blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise is that it “exposes prejudice and bigotry for what it is, an irrational class system based upon purely arbitrary factors.” Race, in other words, is not real, is only a matter of pigmentation (in her exercise, of the iris; in real life, of the skin), and thus there are no differences between the groups arbitrarily assigned to the two different classes.

But if there are no real differences between the “classes,” then how do the brown-eyed or blue-eyed provide “diversity” to the those assigned to the other class? If any of those large corporations or government agencies who have paid Ms. Elliott $6000 or $7000 a day (or universities that have used her exercise in their freshman indoctrinations orientations) really believe in her view of racial reality, then they all should move immediately to dismantle all their “diversity” programs.

That’s the first inconsistency, but there’s another, different one. “Yes,” the defenders of Elliott’s bunkum could retort, “there are no underlying, real differences between the two socially created classes [races], but prejudice and bigotry have made them different!”

Not only could they say that, but they actually do. Here’s Knoll in the Los Angeles Times:
Within 15 minutes, Elliott says, she observed her brown-eyed students morph into youthful supremacists and blue-eyed children become uncertain and intimidated.

Brown-eyed children “became domineering and arrogant and judgmental and cool,” she says. “And smart! Smart! All of a sudden, disabled readers were reading. I thought, ‘This is not possible, this is my imagination.’ And I watched bright, blue-eyed kids become stupid and frightened and frustrated and angry and resentful and distrustful. It was absolutely the strangest thing I’d ever experienced.”
Perhaps Elliott should be credited with discovering what would later be called “stereotype threat.” In any event, according to one analyst of her work, Elliott believes that her exercise provides
proof that black underachievement was purely a product of white-dominated constructions of reality. Turn the tables on whites, and they, too, will perform poorly. “We had one (brown-eyed) girl with a mind like a steel trap who never misspelled a word until we told her that brown eyes were bad,” she proudly recalled to a campus audience many years later.
And just think: if such profound differences can be produced during the short span of an Elliott-orchestrated exercise, imagine the results of centuries of oppression! “I'm only doing this for one day to little white children,” as Kors quotes her. “Society does this to children of color every day.”

But wait. Doesn’t it prove too much to say that prejudice and bigotry can make the privileged class smart and assertive and the victimized class dumb and passive? If the blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise amounts to more than just children (and adults put in the role of children) playing games, it suggests that discrimination-induced differences are real and lasting, and that suggestion in turn calls to mind a phenomenon I’ve discussed before, such as in “Victims ... Of Victimization Theory”:
... the degree to which those who vigorously criticize oppression often portray the subjects whose interests they mean to support as helpless victims.

Perhaps the most influential example of this phenomenom was the publication in 1959 of Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, by the influential American historian Stanley Elkins. Influenced by the research of psychoanalyst Bruno Bettleheim, who had argued that Nazi concentration camps had “infantalized” their inmates, Elkins argued that the institution of slavery, like the concentration camps, was so oppressive and so all-encompassing that it broke the wills and psyches of slaves, making the “Sambo personality” real, not a figment of the imagination of deluded slaveowners. Elkins himself, by the way, was a liberal, and his analysis influenced many policy initiatives in the 1960s, not least of which was his friend Daniel Moynihan’s call for efforts to shore up the black family.

Elkins’s influence can also possibly be seen in the reference to the “comfortable concentration camp” by his Northampton neighbor, Betty Friedan, in her Feminine Mystique (1963). For a later generation of much more radical feminists, the “concentration camp” was not so comfortable. Andrea Dworkin, for example, was widely known for arguing that “all sex is rape,” i.e., that women have been so oppressed, so victimized, by male hierarchy that they are incapable of giving consent. [As I noted here in discussing EEOC v. Sears, Roebuck and Co., Prof. Alice Kessler Harris, the EEOC’s expert witness, argued much the same thing. “In fact,” I pointed out, “she was so hostile to the idea that the system leaves women any room at all to choose that she insisted on placing the terms “choice” and “women’s interests” in quotes, and even went so far as to deny that women themselves choose their own major subjects in college or that women business owners choose the types of businesses they own. ]
My own view, however, is that Ms. Elliott’s entire edifice is bunkum and thus that we should not waste time trying to determine whether the blue-eyed/brown-eyed exercise proves that a) racial differences are superficial, arbitrarily assigned, and irrelevant or b) that race is real, a visible reflection of the deep-seated and long-lasting damage that a bigoted and prejudiced white society has imposed on (and in) its racial victims.

Her exercise, in short, is fit for neither man nor beast. In fact, if it had been conducted on animals she would have been reported to the SPCA.


I wonder how the hate-filled Jane Elliott explains the outstanding success in America of all those brown-eyed Indians and Chinese?

Careless British abortionists kill healthy black girl

A girl of 15 died five days after an abortion because of a blunder at her clinic, an inquest heard yesterday. Alesha Thomas was supposed to have been given antibiotics to combat infection after the procedure. But she never received the medication and was struck down by a heart attack caused by a bacterial toxin.

The sexual health organisation Marie Stopes International, which ran the clinic, was strongly criticised by the coroner for procedural failings. He warned it could face legal action. Due to inefficient practices at the clinic it was not uncommon for patients to leave without being given their prescribed medication, the inquest heard.

Alesha was a 'healthy and fit adolescent' who confided in her mother Rose Bent that she was pregnant in June 2007, Huddersfield Coroner's Court heard. After discussing her options, they chose an abortion at the Marie Stopes International clinic in Leeds. Two weeks later, when Alesha was just over 15 weeks into the pregnancy, the 25-minute procedure was performed successfully by gynaecologist Dr Peter Paku.

An hour and 20 minutes after the operation the doctor issued an electronic prescription for Alesha to be given the antibiotic Doxycycline to prevent infection. But the doctor did not realise Alesha had been discharged 45 minutes after the operation and was no longer at the clinic. The inquest heard there was no system which meant nurses would re-check a patient's notes when they were being discharged to make sure instructions had been followed.

Dr Paku said patients leaving without their medication was a regular problem at the family planning clinic. 'It has happened many times. Prescriptions would be forgotten many times and we would have to make arrangements,' he said.

Three days after the operation, Alesha's concerned mother called the clinic's helpline, a call centre based in Manchester, and told a nurse that her daughter was suffering stomach cramps and heavy bleeding. The nurse advised she give her daughter Ibuprofen. She spoke to a nurse at the clinic again, who said her daughter's tests for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia had come back positive. The nurse advised her to ring her GP for antibiotics. It does not appear that any of the nurses ever referred to Alesha's online notes - which would have highlighted the earlier failure to take antibiotics.

Five days after the abortion Alesha, from Huddersfield, became extremely ill. She could not move her legs, had glazed eyes and was unresponsive. She was taken to hospital but had a heart attack on the way to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary on July 11. The bacterial infection toxic shock syndrome was responsible for the heart attack, the inquest was told.

Recording a narrative verdict Coroner Roger Whittaker said if she had taken the drugs prescribed to her 'the balance of probability suggests she would have been more able to survive than die'. The coroner told the court he would be writing to Marie Stopes International in the hope it might develop better systems to prevent patients leaving without their medication.

A spokesman for Marie Stopes International said its staff were 'deeply saddened' by Alesha's death. 'We will look closely at the coroner's comments and take further steps, as appropriate, to address any areas of concern that have been identified,' the spokesman added.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The British love of crooks again

Police try to stop Facebook hunt for rapist... in case it 'victimises' attacker

Police have warned the fiance of a rape victim to shut down a Facebook site he set up to catch the attacker in case it 'victimises' the criminal, it has been claimed. The woman’s boyfriend posted CCTV images of the suspect after growing angry at what he thought was lack of progress by police after the rape in Sale, Manchester, last year. In the first known case of the social networking site being used to hunt a criminal, more than 5,000 people have joined the group Find the Sale Rapist. The home page has a detailed description of the attacker.

The police had published a CCTV image of the suspect on their website but took it down after just 10 days. On Facebook, the fiance, a former restaurant manager, pleads: 'The woman in question was my girlfriend. ‘After a frantic search I found her in the state this beast left her in. I ask everyone to help bring this sick pervert to justice.'

Greater Manchester Police are said to be taking seriously a name suggested by one contributor. But the distraught fiance, who is in his 20s, has been warned to remove the site out of fear the rapist will become a 'victim' of vigilante attacks. Police also believe comments that could prejudice a future trial.

He launched the site to track down the stranger who brutally raped his 21-year-old girlfriend as she walked less than a mile to her parents' home from a pub in Sale, Manchester, on August 2 last year. He was due to meet her half way but she failed to turn up. After a desperate 45-minute search, he discovered her cowering behind a hedge by the side of the road in tears. His traumatised girlfriend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is too scared to go out at night and cannot work, he said.

Speaking from the home they share in Greater Manchester, he said last night: 'She was a mess when I found her at about 3am. I'll never forget the horror of that moment. 'This evil and dangerous man is still out there but after all these months, the police seemed no closer to catching him. ‘Who logs on to a police website on the off-chance there might be someone wanted who they might recognise? 'They could have given it greater publicity, with posters or more door-to-door knocks. ‘I have managed to get the picture out to more people who are likely to have been out that evening. 'Now they have warned it may have to be taken down. I'm furious that his human rights seem to be prioritised when my fiancee is the one who has suffered.' 'The police said he could be victimised and it could prejudice a future trial.'

The group describes the suspect as a 6ft white man in his 40s or 50s with blond or white hair, a chunky nose, long ears and a local accent.

The fiance added: 'I've been told the site could jeopardise a court case. But if he's not caught, there won't be a court case at all. I'd ask anyone who recognises the man to contact police.'

Greater Manchester Police said they were not able to comment on the individual case yesterday, but a spokesman said that website comments could risk prejudicing a future trial. He added: 'We would work closely with Facebook and the owners of the site and suggest that certain things might be removed. ‘The internet is a minefield and we have to be aware of legislation around anything that is published.'


A spirit-filled man shows a true Christian attitude

Christians should respect free speech, even if others do not

Notre Dame has invited President Obama to speak at its graduation ceremonies this year. An institution that likes to view itself as the premier Catholic university in America will welcome the most anti-life, pro-abortion president in America's history. I could not vote for Obama because his anti-life positions were so clear. Notre Dame will host a president whose pro-death mindset is clear: he has reversed the Mexico City policies, he seeks to eliminate conscience restrictions for health care workers, and he endorses embryonic stem cell research. Yet, Notre Dame's President John Jenkins, CSC, has invited Obama to a public platform at Notre Dame.

Jenkins is doing the right thing.

Many of my brothers and sisters who are passionately pro-life can and will disagree. One web site already claims 200,000 signatures to oppose Notre Dame's invitation, Bishop D'Arcy of Indiana has written a firm but kind rebuke to Jenkins based on the teaching of the Catholic bishops, and Randall Terry is already at work organizing to “lead an attack on the ground,” and to “raze hell” against Notre Dame's decision. But again, Jenkins is doing the right thing in inviting the President to Notre Dame.

How can this be? First, Jesus' fundamental instruction to His followers is to “love your neighbor,” including the difficult “love your enemies” in that teaching. All God's children, the born and the unborn, are my neighbors, but so too is President Obama. To love my neighbor and my enemy, I first have to be willing to show him grace and hospitality even when I know that he is wrong. To cut off the conversation and to throw up one's hands into his face accomplishes nothing other than making myself feel better for being right. But being right is not always enough. As the apostle Paul reminds us: knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Love is the more excellent way. I am called to be loving even more than to be right. In fact, Cardinal Francis George, the leader of American bishops, recently went and spoke personally with President Obama, an act I suspect had as much love in it as it did instruction.

Second, by inviting Obama, Notre Dame now holds an extraordinary opportunity to lead a new approach in talking with the president. The administration, faculty, staff, and students at Notre Dame can demonstrate that they truly are a Catholic institution. How so? By welcoming President Obama at a reception hosted by students who were originally scheduled to be aborted by their mothers. Imagine the scene as the President of the United States meets students of all ages, including some from Notre Dame itself, who share with him how glad they are that their mothers changed their minds. Their beaming smiles pierce his eyes, and begin the work of softening his heart.

This simple reception humanizes the case. The conversation moves beyond theory into reality. What better way to open the eyes of Obama than by greeting him with the joyful smiles of live humans who fortunately were not seen by their mothers as “punishment” for a one-night stand but rather as a gift from God, a life to be welcomed and embraced? This experience is the embodiment of showing grace to a misguided, sitting president. Confront moral error with the very real presence of children. In accomplishing only this much, Notre Dame will have demonstrated its own faith and also pioneered a new tack in changing the heart of our pro-abortion president.

Imagine the experience George Wallace or Bull Connor might have had if they had been welcomed by the administration and graduates of Morehouse College, say in 1963. Imagine their hearts, like the Grinch's minute raisin of a heart, beginning to show new life and hope as they looked into the eyes of men graduating from America's premier African-American college. Might that not have been a new humanizing arrow in the non-violent quiver of the civil rights movement? A fresh way of doing to others what you would like them to do unto you – namely, to treat you as fully human?

Finally, Notre Dame has a standing tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at the university's graduations. President Carter spoke in 1977, Reagan in 1981, and George W. Bush in 2001. With all due respect, neither President Carter's pro-abortion stance nor President Bush's position in favor of the death penalty seemed to provoke much protest or petitioning. Perhaps that is because we somehow have lost the ability now to remember that a university is, after all, a place of intellectual inquiry. And conversation with those who disagree is a prerequisite for any real inquiry and the pursuit of truth. Perhaps, even more so, the community of Notre Dame sought to demonstrate a respect for the office of the President of the United States and an appreciation for being able to personalize the Catholic perspective with each president.

When President Bush spoke at Furman University's graduation last year, many of the faculty members behaved in bush-league fashion. Some boycotted, others stood with printed T-shirts at the back of the crowd in protest. Few treated the president with respect, dignity, or grace. All claimed to advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of dissent, but few were actually willing to listen to the one with whom they were dissenting. In other words, they failed the first test of academic freedom.

In doing so, they also failed the first test of faith: love. Here's hoping that Notre Dame learns the lesson and embodies a new way of loving neighbors and loving enemies in the coming months. The university has an opportunity to live up to its name or into its shame.


BBC downgrades Christian programming

The Archbishop of Canterbury has complained to the Director General of the BBC about the decline of religious programming at the Corporation. Dr Rowan Williams warned Mark Thompson at a meeting at Lambeth Palace that the broadcaster must not ignore its Christian audience. His intervention comes amid mounting concern among senior members of the Church of England that the BBC is downgrading its religious output and giving preferential treatment to minority faiths.

The corporation recently sacked its head of religious programmes, Michael Wakelin, a Methodist preacher. The emergence of a Muslim as the front-runner to succeed Mr Wakelin, along with the recent appointment of a Sikh to produce Songs of Praise, has raised fears within the Church that the Christian voice is being sidelined.

Mr Thompson caused controversy last year when he suggested that Islam should be treated more sensitively by the media than Christianity because Muslims are a minority religion.

As a public service broadcaster, the BBC has a duty to provide religious programmes. But Dr Williams challenged the director general during their meeting earlier this month over the decline in religious broadcasting on the BBC World Service. The World Service has reduced its English-language religious coverage from one hour 45 minutes a week in 2001 to a mere half an hour in 2009. The archbishop said that this had been a significant loss.

In a gathering of the Archbishops' Council, the Church's executive body, last week, Dr Williams agreed with suggestions that the future of religious broadcasting is under threat. Christina Rees, a member of the Archbishops' Council, said: "The vast majority of the population identifies itself as Christian and as the established Church in England we would be negligent not to take an active concern in the changes happening with the BBC's religion and ethics department."

The Rt Rev Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich, will hold a meeting next month with senior BBC and Church figures to discuss the corporation's attitude to faith issues. The Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, has already written to Mr Thompson to express his disquiet at the developments.

During the past year, four out of seven executives in the BBC's religion department have been made redundant, with Mr Wakelin the latest casualty. The favourite to succeed him is Aaqil Ahmed, a Muslim who – as commissioning editor for religion at Channel 4 – has been accused of treating faiths differently in the programmes he has commissioned.

Catholic priests last year accused Channel 4 of being biased in favour of Islam and claimed that Christianity was treated with less respect. Church leaders have privately expressed concern at the prospect of the appointment of a Muslim to head the BBC's religious coverage in addition to a Sikh producing Songs of Praise.

According to the Churches' Media Council, an umbrella organisation for different denominations, Christians are now significantly under-represented at the Corporation. It has expressed concern that no senior member of the department has an academic qualification in religion. The Rev Dr Joel Edwards, chair of the council, said: "There's no doubt that the BBC's specific expertise in religion has been diminished over the past few years as the TV side of the department has shrunk."

He urged the BBC to "rebuild its authority and secure the confidence of the faith communities by appointing staff and commissioning programmes that reflect the vibrancy of Christianity and the other UK faiths".

A BBC spokeswoman argued that changes that have been made to the department were intended to strengthen the BBC's offering. [Cutting back the hours devoted to religious broadcasts sure is a funny way to do that] "The BBC's commitment to Religion and Ethics is unequivocal and entirely safe," she said, adding that the BBC had stressed this to bishops who had expressed concerns. A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said that they could not comment on a private meeting.


Paternalism harms rather than helps Australian blacks

Just giving them dole money without restriction was disastrous too. Cutting off the dole altogether and just providing soup kitchens is the one thing that might work

The Sunrise Health Service covers 112,000 square kilometres of the Northern Territory east of Katherine and is at the frontline in dealing with the health parts of the intervention. All but one community within its area are subject to the intervention's measures, including welfare quarantining.

Sunrise has compared data collected before and since the intervention and the results are dispiriting. Anaemia is an iron deficiency that leads to poor growth and development, and as such is an indicator for the general health of children. Since the intervention, anaemia rates in the area have jumped significantly. In the six months to December 2006, 20 per cent of children were anaemic. A year later the figure had increased to 36 per cent, and by June last year it had reached 55 per cent, where it stayed in the last six months of 2008. Now, more than half the area's children face big threats to their physical and mental development. In two years, 18 months of which was under the intervention, the anaemia rate nearly trebled.

There is also a worrying rise in low birth weight among babies. In the six months leading up to the intervention, 9 per cent of children had low birth weights. This rose to 12 per cent in December 2007, and to 18 per cent six months later. By the end of last year, it was 19 per cent, double the figure at the start of the intervention.

Since compulsory income management of welfare payments began in the region in late 2007, there have been documented instances when it affected people's capacity to buy food. This included diabetics, who with no local store access were unable to access food for weeks at a time. Their response to this situation was to sleep until food became available.

Income management has not reduced alcohol or drug consumption - indeed, alcohol restrictions on prescribed communities has merely shifted the problems to larger towns or bush camps. And it has not stopped "humbug" or the conversion of Basic Card purchases into cash for grog. There is also no evidence that it has increased the consumption of fresh food among Aboriginal families, which is vital to fighting anaemia.

There was strong agreement about the need to protect women and children from violence and to improve the socioeconomic position of Aboriginal families between those who designed and welcomed the intervention and those who questioned its methods. The key criticism from those of us asking questions was why all the evidence of what is known to work to make communities safer and to improve education and health was ignored in favour of expensive, untried, top-down, heavy-handed policy approaches.

On Friday, the Government is expected to endorse the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, along with the national apology to the stolen generations, another symbolic shift from the Howard government's indigenous policy. But there are still striking similarities between the practical approaches of the former government and the present. Nowhere is that clearer than the continuation of the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act, the right to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the right to seek redress under the Northern Territory anti-discrimination legislation.

The suspension of the right to seek redress have left those people subject to welfare quarantining with no avenues of complaint if they feel unfairly treated. And there are more reasons to be concerned about continuation of the intervention without reflection on what is working and what is not.

While the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, has said she is relying on conversations with some people about the need to continue without reviewing the policy, the evidence on the ground - like that from Sunrise - suggests it is time for the Government to seriously rethink the mechanisms it is using in the Northern Territory, especially around welfare quarantining.

There are two challenges for the Government over its indigenous policy. The first is to make it compliant with the standards it supports in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The second is to make real its promise that it will be led by the evidence of what works rather than ideologies that don't. Both challenges will lead to more positive steps to addressing the socioeconomic disparity experienced by Aboriginal communities and the issues of protecting women and children that has been the justification of the intervention.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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