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, January 31, 2008

Myths About The Founders And Religion

By Michael P. Tremoglie

Misotheists like to claim that the Founding Fathers were deists who never wanted a religious society. They maintain that there is substantial evidence proving they were not Christians. One repeatedly referenced is the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797. This is proffered as absolute proof that the Founding Fathers did not want the United States to be a religious nation.

This is sheer sophistry. If all the evidence the misotheists have that the Founders wanted to bowdlerize religion from America is a meaningless symbolic phrase of an obscure unconscionable treaty, then they have no evidence at all.

John Adams signed this treaty and it was ratified by the Senate even though it included this clause: "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion ..." Yet, here are some facts about the treaty:

* It was later revoked.

* The clause was not included in the original version. It was mysteriously, perhaps fraudulently, inserted by Joel Barlow, the Algerian Consul, who was a contemnor of Christianity.

* The original Arabic version, which states several times the phrase "Praise be to God," is on file at the State Department, although it is Barlow's English version that was ratified by the Senate and signed by Adams.

* The treaty was made primarily to save the lives of American hostages. One can conclude that if the treaty said the moon were made of green cheese, it would have been ratified by the Senate and signed by Adams.

* A Spanish translation of this treaty references treaties with Christian nations - meaning in this case the United States.

When one considers these facts about the treaty, the assertion that it is evidence that the Founders eschewed religion and Christianity is not true.

Other evidence they say proves the Founders wanted a completely secular nation includes the claim that George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were deists. This is not true. There is a church in Philadelphia, St. Peter's Episcopal, that indicates the pew used by Washington when he attended services there. (Ironically, Stephen Decatur, the hero of the Battle of Tripoli, is buried in this same churchyard.). Benjamin Franklin is buried in the Old Christ's Church burial ground. This would be an odd place if he were an irreligious person.

Misotheists like to refer to various quotes from Thomas Jefferson to deny his religiosity - including the separation of church and state quote. However, they ignore his 1816 letter to Charles Thomson in which he said, "I am a real Christian."

They like this quote of Adams: "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved - the cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!" Yet, they ignore Adams' 1797 inaugural speech (the same year as the treaty they revere) during which he said, "Consider .... Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service."

Conversely, Misotheists ignore evidence that America is a religious nation. The opinion by the New York Supreme Court in the 1811 case of People v. Ruggles is such piece of evidence. The Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court was James Kent, author of Commentaries on American Law. He wrote in his opinion, "We are a Christian people. ... Christianity, in its enlarged sense, as a religion revealed and taught in the Bible, is not unknown to our law."

Another court case is the 1892 United States Supreme Court opinion in Holy Trinity Church v. United States. This involved the hiring of an English pastor that was prevented by immigration officials because of a prohibition against foreign laborers. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that the prohibition did not apply to pastors because "this is a Christian nation." The justices cited the People v. Ruggles opinion.

There are too many religious practices and symbols associated with the United States to claim that the Founders were not religious or wanted to exclude religion from America. Indeed, at least one signer of the Constitution was an ordained minister.

It is unfortunate that despite the evidence to the contrary, myths that the Founders were irreligious or wanted to ban religion from the public square are considered fact. This is a function of the tendentious scholarship and revisionism taught by schools and colleges. Americans need to be reeducated about their religious heritage.


Terrorist Tort Travesty

By John Yoo

War is a continuation of politics by other means, the German strategist Carl von Clausewitz famously observed in his 19th-century treatise, "On War." Clausewitz surely could never have imagined that politics, pursued through our own courts, would be the continuation of war. Last week, I (a former Bush administration official) was sued by Jose Padilla-- a 37-year-old al Qaeda operative convicted last summer of setting up a terrorist cell in Miami. Padilla wants a declaration that his detention by the U.S. government was unconstitutional, $1 in damages, and all of the fees charged by his own attorneys.

The lawsuit by Padilla and his Yale Law School lawyers is an effort to open another front against U.S. anti-terrorism policies. If he succeeds, it won't be long before opponents of the war on terror use the courtroom to reverse the wartime measures needed to defeat those responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

On Thursday, a federal judge moved closer to sentencing Padilla to life in prison. After being recruited by al Qaeda agents in the late 1990s, Padilla left for Egypt in 1998 and reached terrorist training camps in Afghanistan in 2000. American officials stopped him at Chicago O'Hare airport in 2002, based on intelligence gained from captured al Qaeda leaders that he was plotting a dirty bomb attack.

President Bush declared Padilla an enemy combatant and ordered him sent to a naval brig in South Carolina. After a federal appeals court rejected Padilla's plea for release, the government transferred him to Miami for trial for al Qaeda conspiracies unrelated to the dirty bomb plot. Federal prosecutors described Padilla as "a trained al-Qaeda killer," and a jury convicted him of conspiring to commit murder, kidnapping and maiming, and of providing material support to terrorists.

Now Padilla and his lawyers are trying to use our own courts to attack the government officials who stopped him. They claim that the government cannot detain Padilla as an enemy combatant, but instead can only hold and try him as a criminal. Padilla alleges that he was abused in military custody--based primarily on his claim that he was held in isolation and not allowed to meet with lawyers.

But enemy prisoners in wartime never before received the right to counsel or a civilian trial because, as the Supreme Court observed in 2004, the purpose of detention is not to punish, but to prevent the enemy from returning to the fight.

Under Padilla's theory, the U.S. is not at war, so any citizen killed or captured by the CIA or the military can sue. In November 2002, according to press reports, a Predator drone killed two al Qaeda leaders driving in the Yemen desert. One was an American, Kamal Derwish, who was suspected of leading a terrorist cell near Buffalo. If Padilla's lawsuit were to prevail, Derwish's survivors could sue everyone up the chain of command--from the agent who pressed the button, personally--for damages.

Padilla's complaints mirror the left's campaign against the war. To them, the 9/11 attacks did not start a war, but instead were simply a catastrophe, like a crime or even a natural disaster. They would limit the U.S. response only to criminal law enforcement managed by courts, not the military. Every terrorist captured away from the Afghanistan battlefield would have the right to counsel, Miranda warnings, and a criminal trial that could force the government to reveal its vital intelligence secrets.

America used this approach in the 1990s with al Qaeda. It did not work. Both the executive and legislative branches rejected this failed strategy. In the first week after 9/11, Congress passed a law authorizing the use of military force against any person, group or nation connected to the attacks, and recognized the President's constitutional authority "to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States."

In the spring of 2002, I was a Justice Department lawyer asked about the legality of Padilla's detention. There is ample constitutional precedent to support the detention of a suspected al Qaeda agent, even an American citizen, who plans to carry out terrorist attacks on our soil. During World War II, eight Nazi saboteurs secretly landed in New York to attack factories and plants. Two of them were American citizens.

After their capture, FDR sent them to military detention, where they were tried and most of them executed. In Ex Parte Quirin, the Supreme Court upheld the detention and trial by military authorities of American citizens who "associate" with "the military arm of the enemy" and "enter this country bent on hostile acts." If FDR were president today, Padilla might have fared far worse than he has.

None of that matters to the anti-war left. They failed to beat President Bush in the 2004 elections. Their efforts in Congress to repeal the administration's policies have gone nowhere. They lost their court challenges to Padilla's detention. The American public did not buy their argument that the struggle against al Qaeda is not really a war.

So instead they have turned to the tort system to harass those who served their government in wartime. I am not the only target. The war's critics have sued personally Donald Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Robert Gates, Paul Wolfowitz and other top government officials for their decisions in the war on terrorism. Other lawsuits have resorted to the courts to attack the telecommunications companies that helped the government intercept suspected terrorist calls.

It is easy to understand why CIA agents, who are working on the front lines to protect the nation from attack, are so concerned about their legal liability that they have taken out insurance against lawsuits. Worrying about personal liability will distort the thinking of federal officials, who should be focusing on the costs and benefits of their decisions to the nation as a whole, not to their own pockets. Even in the wake of Watergate, the Supreme Court recognized that government decisions should not be governed by the tort bar.

In a case about warrantless national security wiretaps ordered by Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell, the court declared that executive branch officials should benefit from qualified immunity. Officials cannot be sued personally unless they had intentionally violated someone's clearly established constitutional rights.

The Padilla case shows that qualified immunity is not enough. Even though Supreme Court precedent clearly permitted Padilla's detention, he and his academic supporters can still file harassing lawsuits that promise high attorneys' fees. The legal system should not be used as a bludgeon against individuals targeted by political activists to impose policy preferences they have failed to implement via the ballot box.

The prospect of having to waste large sums of money on lawyers will deter talented people from entering public service, leading to more mediocrity in our bureaucracies. It will also lead to a risk-averse government that doesn't innovate or think creatively. Government by lawsuit is no way to run, or win, a war.


Deceitful parenting

I knew, just from reading the title, that I would be sputtering with indignation if I clicked through to read "Is a taste of deceit with carrots so bad for kids?" I clicked. Consider yourselves warned.

I must be totally out of step with other parents, because I cannot even conceive of asking such a question, much less giving it serious consideration. While the article focuses on sneaking healthful foods into children-something I've never really had to worry about-the crux of the matter comes up deep in the rationalizing:
But in diet as in all things, I firmly believe in parental privilege. Loopholes exist. I see no problem, for instance, in telling my kids that the DVD player in our family minivan only works on long drives on the freeway. I don't see anything at all wrong with a friend briefing his son on the federal law that prohibits boys under the age of 13 from owning pocket-knives. And I believe it was an act of inspiration when a mom I know told her daughter that the "Live Nude" sign near her school is in fact a French-language affirmation with a missing accent on the "e" that actually reads "live new day."
So, "parental privilege" for Christopher Noxon-the author of this bilge-apparently means stringing together lie after lie for one's children. And it isn't even justified solely on the basis of that overused excuse, protection-notice that his own example is simply for his convenience. Another presumably rests on the mother's embarrassment at the mere thought of naked bodies; how ever is she going to explain to her daughter the shameful fact that babies come into the world naked?

Can we really wonder how so many of today's children come to unthinkingly accept the lies of the state, when they've had years of such tripe shoved into their heads by their parents? How can someone not develop explanations that depend on "magic" or authority when they're told things that defy logic, not to mention the laws of physics, by the people they count on most to help them learn how to deal with the world? Actually, I wonder if they even bother to try to develop explanations; after passing some threshold of nonsense of this sort some kids must decide that the world is simply too arbitrary and unpredictable to try to comprehend, and instead uncritically accept whatever they're told. And thus is another generation of herd monkeys readied to step on to the job-consume treadmill ...

This kind of parenting is emblematic of what I see as the major problem today: too many parents have little or no respect for their children. Instead, they shove their convenient feeding times, their ideas of the proper amount of food, their notions of what's best in all things, on to a child beginning at birth. But even a neonate can tell when it's hungry, and full, and will signal those states to its parents if they would just respect the baby, and pay attention to it. Not face time, not play time, but that simple act of focusing upon another person and observing his or her rhythms and preferences. In our rush-rush society, that may seem like a luxury ... but we're talking about the most basic, vital relationship two individuals can have! How can learning one's child's nature be a luxury? But, tragically, it seems to be so for lots of parents.

Perfection isn't an option in parenting; that isn't the standard I am comparing these ideas against. But to build a relationship with one's child on deceit ... that is unfathomable and unconscionable to me. It's a casual dismissal of the child's humanity-his or her basic intellect and its need to be rationally engaged, so that the child stands a chance of becoming a self-directing, mature person. Even saying something like, "I don't think you're responsible enough for a pocket knife yet," or "I'm uncomfortable talking about what's going on in that business," is better than invoking a nonexistent federal law or faux French. Of course, such responses will almost invariably continue the conversation, rather than stop it; and that seems to be what such parents want-a way to avoid possible conflict or unpleasantness. So, how exactly are these protected children going to learn to deal with the inevitable conflicts and unpleasant situations that will arise in life?

In the physical world, loopholes don't exist; if one appears to, it's because some information is missing. In the social world, loopholes exist to the degree that a society's individuals accept the idea that some individuals "deserve" better or worse than other individuals, and perpetuate interactions based on such ideas. In such societies, those loopholes eventually wind up becoming nooses of some sort or other.

Anyway, just for thoroughness' sake, I'll answer the question: Yes, deceit is bad for kids. When served to them by their parents, it's poison. Other parents may see no problem in this, since "the dose makes the poison"; but, recalling my own disappointment and subsequent mistrust when I discovered my parents had lied to me, I'm unwilling to risk any titration.


The Next Legal Frontier

One reason to follow Canadian politics is that Canada's hyper-activist courts often function as a kind of test kitchen, in which the legal left can experiment with concepts before advancing them in the US. Here's the current brainwave:

Two Canadian legal groups, Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Union, are litigating right now to assert that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms should apply to Afghan nationals in Afghanistan. As one of the lawyers for Amnesty and the BCCLU puts it:
"If detainees are just protected by international law, only the general decides; if the Charter applies, the courts can overrule the generals. The real difference is who can supervise the generals."
Courts supervising armed forces in the field - there's a glimpse of things to come. And it may well be coming to the US too, depending on what happens in November.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Freedom for thought we hate

By Nat Hentoff

Having been removed as editor of my college newspaper at Boston's Northeastern University by the president who thought I took the First Amendment too seriously, I have been a First Amendment enthusiast ever since, including writing books about it. I can now attest that the most accurate and enlivening account of its history and often extraordinary resilience is the newly published "Freedom for the Thought That We Hate" by Anthony Lewis.

Part of the title comes from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' warning of the most powerful need of the First Amendment, especially in times of national danger and epidemics of speech-suppressing political correctness: "If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate." I commend the title and the Lewis book to Sen. Ted Kennedy, who is still trying to get his expanded "hate speech" legislation to become law. It adds extra prison time not for the actual conviction for violent acts but for the "hateful" speech accompanying them as interpreted by police and prosecutors.

Once our republic began, James Madison expected that no American would be punished for his "thoughts." But "hate crimes" laws vigorously and incredibly supported by the American Civil Liberties Union are what Madison feared. If these added penalties for thought crimes, also passed overwhelmingly by the House, get to the Oval Office, the president should veto the legislation.

For many years, Mr. Lewis, twice a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was a nonpareil reporter and analyst of the continuous First Amendment wars in his New York Times column. I do not understand his removal from that sentry post since that paper now has no regular columnist with Mr. Lewis' legal and First Amendment history credentials.

Justice William Brennan once told me when I was talking about the Bill of Rights in schools around the country, "Tell them stories!" That's what Mr. Lewis does in "Freedom for the Thought We Hate." How many Americans know that before the Constitution and our revolution, "Massachusetts hanged Mary Dyer for her Quaker views"? I would add that before Thomas Jefferson and Madison surfaced in Virginia, Catholics were not allowed to hold office and priests were barred from even entering the colony.

Mr. Lewis also dramatizes why and how "it took more than a century for [our] courts to begin protecting speakers and publishers from official repression in the United States." And showing the continuing struggle to interconnect rights of privacy and speech, he quotes Justice Stephen Breyer that "the right to be let alone" encourages us to speak freely during those times "when we fear that our private conversations may become public." But the founders couldn't have predicted the advent of computer technology and government databases, and how we may be approaching the last rites of privacy.

Mr. Lewis brings into the conversation a 1927 opinion (Whitney v. California) by Justice Louis Brandeis, joined by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, that affected me with the thrill of Americanism when I was a youngster. It had the freedom force of Louis Armstrong's trumpet: "Those who won our independence... believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty... and that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people, that public discussion is a political duty. They knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction.... They eschewed silence coerced by law." And in this age of terrorism, as before in our history when we were menaced from within and from afar, "Fear of serious injury cannot justify [government] suppression of free speech and assembly."

As in Salem, Brandeis wrote, "Men feared witches and burnt women." To which George Orwell added: "If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be prosecuted, even if laws exist to protect them." That's why I hope large numbers of Americans, of all ages, will read Mr. Lewis's odyssey of why we are Americans.

He acts on what he writes about. On his current book tour, he spoke before the American Library Association at Philadelphia's National Constitution Center. The ALA's leadership has resolutely refused - in contrast with library associations throughout Europe - to demand that Communist Cuba immediately release the independent librarians it has imprisoned for opening private libraries for books banned by this dictatorship: It has burned those confiscated books, including a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mr. Lewis told the delegates what ALA officials there touting their mission of freedom to read didn't want to hear, even in the National Constitution Center: "I can't think of anything worse than putting people in jail for opening libraries." "Freedom for the Thought We Hate" will, of course, not be barred from our libraries. But, then again, the Founders did not intend the First Amendment to be exclusively American.



An "overwhelming majority" of Europeans believe immigration from Islamic countries is a threat to their traditional way of life, a survey revealed last night. The poll, carried out across 21 countries, found "widespread anti-immigration sentiment", but warned Europe's Muslim population will treble in the next 17 years. It reported "a severe deficit of trust is found between the Western and Muslim communities", with most people wanting less interaction with the Muslim world.

Last night an MP warned it showed that political leaders in Britain who preach the benefits of unlimited immigration were dangerously out of touch with the public.

The study, whose authors include the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, was commissioned for leaders at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. It reports "a growing fear among Europeans of a perceived Islamic threat to their cultural identities, driven in part by immigration from predominantly Muslim nations". And it concludes: "An overwhelming majority of the surveyed populations in Europe believe greater interaction between Islam and the West is a threat."

Backbench Tory MP David Davies told the Sunday Express: "I am not surprised by these findings. People are fed up with multiculturalism and being told they have to give up their way of life. "Most people in Britain expect anyone who comes here to be willing to learn our language and fit in with us." Mr Davies, who serves on the Commons Home Affairs Committee, added: "People do get annoyed when they see millions spent on translating documents and legal aid being given to people fighting for the right to wear a head-to-toe covering at school. "A lot of people are very uncomfortable with the changes being caused by immigration and politicians have been too slow to wake up to that."

The report says people have little enthusiasm for greater understanding with Islam and attempts to improve relations have been "disappointing". And with the EU Muslim population expected to reach 15 per cent by 2025 it predicts: "Any deterioration on the international front will be felt most severely in Europe."

But leading Muslim academic Haleh Afshar, of York University, blamed media "hysteria" for the findings. She said: "There is an absence of trust towards Muslims, but to my mind that is very much driven by an uninformed media. "To blame immigration is much harder because the current influx of immigrants from eastern Europe are by-and-large not Muslim. The danger is that when people are fearful of people born and bred in this country it is likely that discrimination may follow."


The Battle Over MoCRI

By George Will

Come November, voters will decide more than half a million federal, state and local officeholders and ballot initiatives. Ninety-nine percent of these decisions will matter less than will the five civil rights initiatives that might be on the ballots in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri.

If the initiatives qualify for those states' ballots, all probably will pass. But the initiatives must surmount ferocious opposition from defenders of racial preferences, such as the politicians who administer and benefit from Missouri's racial spoils system. The crux of the Missouri Civil Rights Initiative (MoCRI) would amend that state's Constitution to say: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting."

Similar language has been approved by voters in California (in 1996), Washington state (1998) and Michigan (2006). California's initiative passed 55 percent to 45 percent even though opponents outspent supporters 13-1. Washington's initiative won 58-42 against 10-1 spending. Michigan's initiative won 58-42 although supporters were outspent 5-1. Those spending disparities understate the initiatives' disadvantages because in each state, opponents were assisted by the "diversity" industry that administers racial preferences in the public and private sectors.

Missouri law requires the secretary of state to draft a summary of an initiative, which appears on the ballot "in the form of a question using language neither intentionally argumentative nor likely to create prejudice either for or against the proposed measure." The following, not the MoCRI language quoted above, is what the state's Democratic secretary of state and Democratic attorney general proposed to put on the ballot:

"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to: Ban affirmative action programs designed to eliminate discrimination against, and improve opportunities for, women and minorities in public contracting, employment and education; and allow preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin to meet federal program funds eligibility standards as well as preferential treatment for bona fide qualifications based on sex?"

Well. The phrase "affirmative action" came into vogue in the years after the 1976 Democratic platform endorsed "compensatory opportunity." That obfuscating phrase appeared immediately after the platform said "we must insure that all citizens are treated equally before the law." Advocates of affirmative action have long denied that it involves racial preferences. Now Missouri is insisting that a ban on such preferences would eliminate all affirmative action.

Ward Connerly, the man organizing this year's five initiatives to promote colorblind governance, disagrees. A California businessman and former member, for 12 years, of the University of California Board of Regents, he stresses that many affirmative action measures, such as outreach to recruit students and employees from economically disadvantaged and isolated groups, do not require racial preferences.

MoCRI supporters went to court, arguing that the two Democrats' "explanation" of their amendment is couched in language that is "convoluted, ambiguous and muddled" and is "prejudicial, conclusory and untrue." They said that banning racial discrimination in the form of racial preferences does not ban programs to eliminate discrimination. They noted that MoCRI does not "allow" preferential treatment; rather, it would not obstruct receipt of federal funds tied to federal requirements. And the secretary of state's and the attorney general's "explanation" of MoCRI does not explain that MoCRI authorizes granting preferential treatment on the basis of age, disability or status as a veteran.

The judge largely sided with MoCRI's supporters, ordering this ballot language: "Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to: Ban state and local government affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment in public contracting, employment, or education based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, unless such programs are necessary to establish or maintain eligibility for federal funding or to comply with an existing court order?" The two Democrats, aware that similar language has won landslides in three other states, are appealing the decision.

The conventions that govern America's racial discourse derive from the odious "one drop" rule. According to it, anyone with any admixture of black ancestry -- one drop of black "blood" -- is black. So, Connerly is an African-American. One of his grandparents was of African descent, one was Irish, a third was Irish and American Indian, the fourth was French Canadian. Two of the grandchildren of Connerly and his Irish wife have a Vietnamese mother. Are these grandchildren African-Americans?

Will the superstitions surrounding race ever fade away? Not before governance is cleansed of the sort of race-based policies opposed by Connerly, who intimately knows the increasing absurdity of racial classifications, and the folly of government preferences based on them.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ethnic tension surfaces in Germany

Immigrant crime is a central issue in the Hesse state election, stirring a backlash among younger voters

A retired school principal is attacked by two young toughs, an awful beating captured on surveillance cameras and aired on television for days in what has become Germany's equivalent of the Rodney King tape. But in a country that has seen all too many neo-Nazi racist attacks against immigrants over the years, this video turned ethnic violence on its head: It was a young German-born Turk and a Greek attacking a 76-year-old ethnic German who had advised them to stop smoking on the Munich subway. They threw him to the ground and kicked him, cracking his skull, excoriating him all the while, calling him a "pig" and a "German" with a particularly nasty adjective attached. The attack last month transfixed the country, and opened the lid on anti-immigrant tensions that have skulked under the nation's politically correct surface for some time.

Now, the issue of immigrant crime has become the center of elections scheduled for today here in the state of Hesse. Gov. Roland Koch, long seen as an heir apparent to Chancellor Angela Merkel, has played the anti-immigration card with vigor in his bid for reelection, and stirred up a backlash among many voters who see uncomfortable echoes of Germany's Nazi past.

Not far into the campaign, Koch called for deporting non-Germans convicted of serious crimes, even those who may have been born in Germany. He also called for a code of public conduct that would include "German" values such as good manners, punctuality, respect for the elderly and speaking German. "We have spent too long showing a strange sociological understanding for groups that consciously commit violence as ethnic minorities," he told the mass-circulation Bild Zeitung, which has embraced the issue with gusto.

That stance has bolstered Koch's popularity among the conservative Christian Democratic Union's older followers. But it has turned off many younger Germans deeply uncomfortable with the quasi-racist rhetoric, and has dragged Koch from a substantial lead to running neck-and-neck with his opponent, Andrea Ypsilanti of the left-leaning Social Democratic Party.

Around Frankfurt, many of Koch's campaign posters have had Hitler-like mustaches drawn on. "It has to do with our history that there is never open debate on this issue. It's still, in a way, the mortgage of national socialism. Roland Koch is expressing what ordinary people think, things they talk about perhaps with friends, but you don't talk about it openly in national discussions," said Juergen Falter, professor of political science at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz. Yet the topic is becoming unavoidable in cities such as Frankfurt, the financial heart of the European continent, where a stunning 66% of children younger than 5 come from an immigrant family.

The first waves of migrants from Italy and Turkey who came to rebuild the country after World War II were referred to as "guest workers," and it was assumed they would one day go home. Many didn't, and today millions of immigrants, mainly Turks, Russians and Poles, live in Germany and have the right to apply for citizenship, but their children are not automatically entitled to it.

What few, save Koch, have wanted to talk about is that many youths from immigrant backgrounds, saddled with poor educations because they couldn't advance through the sharply tiered education system without a mastery of German from an early age, have become involved in crime. Elderly Germans often say they are afraid to take the subway after dark, fearful of a run-in with gangs of hoodlums, sometimes German, but often Turks or other minorities.

Although immigrants' share of crime is actually decreasing, it still is higher than their proportion of the population in many areas. In Hesse, about 27% of those arrested come from migrant backgrounds. But this reflects in part the fact that police often are quicker to arrest immigrant youths.

"Koch says the truth, he says what needs to be done: These criminals should be sent home," said Josef Schreiber, a 61-year-old carpenter who sat in the front row Thursday night at a rally here for the governor. "We aren't the masters of our own house anymore," said Doris Horch, 67, a retiree.

Many young immigrants describe a society whose chief advantages, from good schools to high-paying jobs, go to ethnic Germans. "I was actually not surprised about the campaign of Koch. What has surprised me is the intensity of humiliation that is brought on those who look different," said Fessum Ghirmazion, a 27-year old doctoral student in political science at Marburg's Philipps University, who sat listening quietly at a recent rally for the Social Democratic Party. "When I enter a room, people just look at me. It makes you feel like somebody who does not belong here."

Ghirmazion, who came to Germany from Eritrea at the age of 1, was allowed to enter the more advanced schools only against the vigorous opposition of his teachers, who advised him to remain with other immigrant students in the lower-standards schools.

More here

Shifting the blame

Worried that Americans are on the brink of a recession -- or perhaps already in the middle of one -- the Bush administration and the House of Representatives have reached tentative agreement on an economic stimulus package. Glad to hear it. A stimulus may not work exactly as expected, but it's worth a try. Americans are overtaxed as it is, and anything that gets more of their tax dollars back into their hands is a good thing. And if they spend what they get, it'll be good for the economy.

There's just one thing. You hear about how voters are angry and holding Congress' feet to the fire until they get some sort of relief. But let's not get so caught up in asking what government can do for us that we forget what we can do for ourselves.

The No. 1 economic threat facing the United States today isn't globalization, stagnant wages, unfair trade policy or illegal immigration. And it certainly isn't what one cable TV demagogue glibly calls a "war on the middle class" by big media, big corporations and big special interests.

Rather, it's the sense of entitlement that many Americans take with them into the workplace and the eagerness with which they shift the blame when things don't go according to plan. The key is to never to take responsibility for the personal decisions you've made. Eventually, some opportunistic politician will come along and confirm what you've always suspected -- that you are at the mercy of forces beyond your control.

It wasn't always this way. Fifty years ago, Americans were a heartier bunch. They'd grown up in the Depression and defeated Nazi Germany and the other Axis powers during World War II, and they found honor in doing any kind of work. If they didn't earn enough money doing it, they took on another job, or another one after that. Most of all, they took pride in the idea that -- in this country -- our destiny is in our own hands.

Today, according to a survey of workers in their 20s and 30s, young Americans expect their jobs to provide not only a nice salary but also plenty of vacation time to enjoy it. And from research done by Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, we know that many members of "Generation Me" walk into job interviews brimming with self-esteem and expecting to be put on a path to a corporate vice presidency.

Is that all? And what if they don't get everything that they think they're entitled to? That's when the blame comes in. Americans like to blame illegal immigrants for keeping wages low, or workers from India or China for taking high-skilled jobs. In either case, instead of accepting the challenge and trying to beat the competition, too many American workers will call out for protection. And again, some shameless politician will offer it.

Speaking of shameless politicians, what was Mitt Romney thinking when he told Michigan voters that all those lost jobs in the U.S. auto industry might just come back? Sure, and Ford might start making Edsels again.

It took John McCain to dish out some straight talk and tell Michigan voters what they need to hear -- that these jobs are gone because the world is changing and they have to change with it.

That was awfully brave. But McCain could have gone further. He could have explained that organized labor helped bring about this displacement by pricing autoworkers out of the market. He could have pointed out that many workers went along for the ride because they felt entitled to the same standard of living that their parents enjoyed but didn't want to get the extra schooling or training to achieve it. He could have said that the situation is complicated by the fact that there will always be those who won't move away from their hometowns -- even when the towns are on life support. And, finally, he could have reminded voters that they can't always blame their problems on others and that, sooner or later, they have to grow up and take control of their lives and their destiny.

As part of a stimulus package, the government wants to send out tax rebates to jump-start the economy. That's all well and good. But what some Americans really need isn't a check they take to the bank. It's a lecture they take to heart.


A view of Israel from a sympathetic outsider

Just a few excerpts from a "read it all" article

Jerusalem is an eternal city: the centre of Judaism, the fountainhead of Christianity and an important site for Islam. Visually it is stunning, its character maintained by the most enlightened civic ordinance on record: that all new buildings must be constructed of white Jerusalem stone. Like most Israeli cities it has several diverse communities: ultra-orthodox religious Jews who don't serve in the army and often don't work, Arab Muslims, Arab Christians (a small and diminishing minority), secular Jews, and national religious Jews who serve in the army and participate in the modern economy.

Tel Aviv, Israel's biggest city, is entirely different. It is a sensuous Mediterranean city that offers every decent amenity of any cosmopolitan European city. Its hedonism and its sensuousness are tempered by the strategic gravity of Israel's situation, by everyone doing their military service and by the cultural depth of Judaism, the traditions of the book. Tel Aviv is predominantly secular Jewish, with very few Arabs and ultra-orthodox Jews.

Haifa, the port city to the north of Tel Aviv, is different again. It has the largest Arab minority of a big Israeli city and is where Arabs and Jews most easily and fully mix together, although such mixing occurs all across Israel. Haifa is also the world headquarters of the Bahai faith, which was founded in Iran and has suffered terrible persecution there and so has fled to two countries where religious minorities are not persecuted: Israel and India.

One night I dined at the home of a local Israeli Arab leader in the almost entirely Israeli Arab town of Abu Ghosh, just west of Jerusalem. It has always been identified with the Israeli state. My host had his complaints about the Israeli Government but he was also a proud Israeli. And every night his town, which has many restaurants, is full of Israeli Jews at the countless eateries because, and here I'll make a clear statement of cultural preference, Arab food is generally a little more interesting than Jewish food.

I spent days in the north of Israel and visited the town of Metulla, on the tiny tip of a finger of Israeli territory that juts into southern Lebanon. Until the 2006 war with Hezbollah, its people were repeatedly attacked by rockets from southern Lebanon. The municipality organised field trips away from the town for the children, but mostly the residents stayed. I visited the town's Canada Centre to try the odd practice of pistol shooting on the gun range. Here's another paradox of Israeli society. Many people have guns but it is not remotely a macho society. Its murder rate is low.

The status of Gush Etzion, a little distance to the southwest of Jerusalem, is also intriguing. It was a Jewish area before 1948, when the UN divided the land of Israel into Jewish and Palestinian states, which the Palestinians and their surrounding Arab neighbours declined to accept, so that several Arab nations launched a war on Israel. The Jordanian army took control of Gush Etzion at that time. After 1967 it was re-established as a Jewish settlement. Gush Etzion as a Jewish settlement has a 20th-century history long pre-dating 1967... And yet life in Gush Etzion is normal. Behind the gates people hitchhike routinely (as they do in much of Israel) because they all trust each other....

The most emphatic settlement I visited was Ariel. It's a Jewish town of about 30,000 people, deep in the West Bank. Ariel University College has about 10,000 students, 3000 of them doing pre-undergraduate courses. The student population is racially diverse, as is Israel. The Ethiopian presence is noticeable. But Ariel officials tell me some local Palestinians attend as well, although of course they are under pressure not to.

Ariel is a small but substantial city. It is a beautiful place, full of public gardens and garden homes, and it has a distinctly European air and style. People don't like to use the back road to Jerusalem because even in these relatively calm days there is the danger of attacks. Just a few days before I visit, a Jewish settler, not from Ariel but from nearby, was killed on the road, as it turns out by two Palestinian Authority policemen who simply waited for a victim to come along.

More here

White Muslim terrorists from the former Yugoslavia

Dr Darko Trifunovic has been conducting research into the origins, ambitions and operating methods of what he calls "white Al Qaeda", the home grown branch of the terrorist franchise organization in the various areas of the Balkans. It first took foothold in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the Western powers in the 90's saw the influx of Afghan war veterans into the territory as an easy way to support the Bosnian Muslims. Since the Dayton Peace Accord Iranians as well as Saudi Wahhabis have flooded the statelet with funds, over-sized mosques and subversive organizations, one of which has members throughout the Bosniak diaspora in Europe, Canada and the US. CNAB appears to be the center of gravity of the present threats against Trifunovic.

Trifunovic has also found new links between Bosnia and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the London and Madrid train bombings. Specifically mentioned are Mohammed Atta, who coordinated the 9/11 outrage, and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Bosnian citizenship holder and war veteran, former Al Qaeda 'Operations Chief', who - according to Dr Darko Trifunovic - took over the leadership of the Al Qaeda media campaign ('the Committee') during the planning of the 9/11. Atta's place of residence was a Bosnian hamlet before launching off to Hamburg and the US for his fatal mission. With the knowledge of the UN interim governors in Kosovo, Albanian-American radicals were actively recruiting terrorists for 'the war against America' prior to the 9/11 attack, of which they had foreknowledge. The UN however, did nothing.

The Foreign Area Officer Association FAOA posits that the Sarajevo based organization, AIO's (Aktivna Islamska Omladina)[1] "(...) Islamic weekly magazine SAFF [2] and organization's website have been fronts of radical Islamic preaching, gaining notoriety for publishing interviews with terrorists who have fought against US forces in Iraq and expressing solidarity with the jihadists and suicide bombers in Israel." FAOA also links the AIO with members throughout the Bosniak diaspora in Europe and the US, one of which is CNAB.....

Up to now Dr Trifunovic has been able to conduct his investigations from the ivory tower of the University of Belgrade in relative tranquility. When it transpired however he was invited to speak during the upcoming 11th Police Congress and - as a consequence, the results of his research would reach the professional domain - no methods have been shunned to intimidate him, discredit him as a person and as a scholar.

With false accusations of 'Srebrenica denial' and 'hate mongering' - references to laws prohibiting Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred - attempts have been made to get him banned from the police convention; impersonations and cyber manipulation being but the least methods of choice to muzzle. But it is my understanding that, far from denying the deplorable events at Srebrenica, Trifunovic has been further investigating the matter.

Apart from the personal injury done here, the public damage of this terrorist saga is two-fold: researchers are being harassed to prevent them from doing their jobs, thus interfering with the right of enquiry. The consequences of such actions on the academic level could well be considerable. The second part is even worse: the intimidation of officials conducting criminal enquiries, subverting the rule of law, leading ultimately to mob rule.

Let me wrap this up with some thoughts of my own. In the past few decades one of the greater mysteries has been the question, how the Holocaust on six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis could have taken place without the entire continent raising up in protest. At present, a sizable majority of people in the West surprisingly seem to be sharing views with the people who have declared against us. However treacherous and hard to fathom this may be, it is kinder on the persons harbouring such views: it is after all easier to be a voluntary accomplice - silent or otherwise - than it is to be a coward.

More here


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

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

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


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Monday, January 28, 2008

Britain's voluntary apartheid

The Daily Telegraph recently published an article indicating Islamic extremists have created "no go" areas across Great Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. The Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, bishop of Rochester and the Church of England"s only Asian bishop, said people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.

Clearly at stake is the very future of Christianity as the nation"s public religion. With multiculturalism gaining ground as a philosophical position, Islam rides on its coattails. Since all faiths are to be treated equally according to this multicultural faith, it isn't possible to challenge publicly the call to prayer or the reliance on Shariah to adjudicate legal claims.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, who has said England is "sleepwalking into segregation," has been criticized for what some consider incendiary language. However, multiculturalism clearly has led to deep and irrepressible social divisions, what one politician called "voluntary apartheid."

It would appear the divisions can be attributed to the government's failure to integrate immigrants into the larger community. But it is also related to a diminished belief in the Church of England and Christianity in general. Most in Britain believe the church will be disestablished within a generation, severing a bond between church and state that dates to the Reformation.

Of course, there are those who contend the critique of multiculturalism is little more than a manifestation of intolerance. Yet it is the intolerance in the Muslim communities that produced this blow-back.

The Rev. Nicholas Reade, bishop of Blackburn, which has a large Muslim community, maintains it is increasingly difficult for Christians to observe their faith in communities where they are a minority. He too believes the government will be pressured into disestablishing the Church of England.

There is little doubt that Britain is undergoing dramatic change. In a mere few decades this nation with an acknowledged Christian foundation is now routinely described as a multifaith society. Clearly the large number of immigrants entering the British Isles account in large part for the shift in attitude. Yet that isn't the whole story.

The loss of confidence in the Christian vision, which underlies most of the achievements and principles of the culture, may account for a reluctance to defend the nation's heritage.

If minorities are permitted to live in their own insulated communities, communicating in their own languages and having minimal need to build relationships with the majority, the nation will sink into balkanization. Moreover, this separation feeds and endorses Islamic extremism by alienating youngsters from the nation and creating the impression ideological devotion is a mark of acceptability.

Some Muslims and Christians, of course, recognize the problem and are eager to do something about it. But can Shariah relate to British civil law? Can Shariah-compliant banking be accommodated in a free-market system? Can Christianity be maintained as the nation's public faith? Can universities transmit a sense of Britannia when multiculturalism is in the ascendancy?

These are merely several of the host of questions and issues that must be addressed by government and religious leaders. Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers and much more confusion on the part of the British public than clarity about the road ahead.


Britain urged to love a man in uniform again

THE government is to sweep away curbs on servicemen and women wearing uniforms off duty in public as part of a drive to boost popular support for the armed services. A report commissioned by Gordon Brown to honour those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq will say all service personnel should be encouraged to wear their uniforms on leave. The curbs were introduced almost 30 years ago during the IRA's bombing campaign on mainland Britain when military personnel were warned not to wear uniforms off duty.

Defence chiefs believe the advantages gained from wearing uniforms and encouraging the public to fall back in love with the armed forces will outweigh any danger from home-grown terrorists. Brown's review will also call for more parades for soldiers returning from the front line and more open days at airfields and naval and army bases. It is seeking to emulate America with cheap flights for troops and free or discounted admission to theme parks and sports grounds such as Wembley, Twickenham and Lord's.

Brown ordered the study after concern that servicemen and women returning from war zones were being ignored or even insulted by some members of the public. According to Downing Street, he wants to "encourage greater understanding and appreciation of the armed services by the British public". It has been headed by Quentin Davies, the former Tory MP who defected to Labour. Last week he toured Canada and the United States to see how well regarded servicemen and women are there in comparison to Britain. "There have been some ghastly incidents, including the insulting of British soldiers in Birmingham, and a woman who insulted crippled soldiers in a swimming baths," said Davies. "People have said they do not get the welcome of their American allies when they go home."

Davies, whose father served in the RAF in the second world war, added: "There should be more exposure to the military. We are not going to recommend people are ordered to wear uniforms on leave. It is a question of encouragement by example." The review also wants Whitehall staff to wear uniforms on days other than Remembrance Sunday, as well as more school visits and involvement from the military. Of 6,400 secondary schools in the UK, fewer than 300 have combined cadet forces.

The review team has already written to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic asking for special deals for service personnel. BA said it had no plans to do so, while Virgin said it already ran a discount scheme for the military. In America Anheuser-Busch, the brewing firm, has given more than 4m free passes to theme parks such as Sea World and Busch Gardens to members of the coalition forces since 2005. British service personnel on visits to the US have benefited from discounts in hotels and restaurants by showing their military ID cards.


Problems with non-traditional family arrangements

Comment from Australia

To the disgust of some, medical technology is not quite up to making men redundant in the baby-making business. Despite the promise of burgeoning new reproductive opportunities, increasing numbers of women who want to go it alone are finding sperm does not come without strings. A case in point was the SBS documentary 2 Mums And A Dad, which aired last week, depicting the fraught attempts by two Melbourne lesbians, Kellie and Fiona, and clucky gay sperm donor, Darren, to become a parent threesome.

Before Fiona goes into her bedroom to impregnate herself with a syringe full of Darren's bodily fluids, the trio draw up a non-binding parenting contract stating that the women are the permanent carers but that Darren has limited visiting rights, which increase with the baby's age.

The women clearly don't know Darren, 39, very well. He becomes resentful of perceived slights during the pregnancy and his behaviour goes from fawning to passive-aggressive. His desperation to be a father is almost unnerving. "Look at this bundle of joy I've got for the rest of my life," he crows to his mother in England via computer video-link, the day his son Marley is born.

Not long into the pregnancy the women realise they have a big problem with Darren, a work colleague with whom they have not socialised and have little in common. The more they see of him, the more controlling and needy he becomes. One excruciating scene has Darren reading the silent women a laundry list of petty grievances, when suddenly he dashes to heavily pregnant Fiona and proprietorally lays his head on her swollen belly. The look of disgust on her face as she endures his intrusion is sad.

It is one of the conundrums of the turkey-baster approach - a woman will have the most profound lifelong intimacy with the man whose genes are mingled with hers in their child, and yet she will never have been physically intimate with him, and may even find his very touch repulsive.

A few weeks after Marley is born, Darren arrives for his scheduled block of father time and the look of trepidation on Fiona's face as he takes the baby away is understandable. But Marley is as much his baby as hers. The women have been clear from the start: they are the family unit, "mum and mum", and Darren is a marginal extra. In other words, it's all about them. But they don't seem to have thought about how Darren might feel about his incidental role. And how will the boy feel, later, when he comprehends his father's lowly standing within his family?

At one point Darren threatens to go to the Family Court when the women renege on the parenting deal, but a sensible lawyer advises him to work out the issues privately. It's not the law that's the problem. It's people and their messy relationships.

It's at least to the women's credit that they wanted the baby's father involved in his life at all rather than selecting an anonymous sperm donor. To Darren's credit, he wants more than the crumbs of fatherhood. Let's hope they work it out.

Others are not so lucky in the minefield we create as we redefine the concept of family. Advances in medical technology have outstripped society's ethical and legal ability to deal with reproductive choices available to people who previously would never have been parents. We now have a market in babies as the fashion accessory du jour. A new American book, Knock Yourself Up: No Man? No Problem! is the most celebratory of a new genre of how-to books for lesbians and single women wanting to have a baby without the messiness of a man.

In interviews with this "new breed of single mums", author Louise Sloan exposes a deep well of selfishness from women who aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary in marriage and disregard their child's right to know his father. "There's a reason I'm single," single mother Eva tells Sloan. "Relationships involve a lot of compromise and I want to keep my voice." How then will she cope with motherhood, which requires boundless selflessness?


Spanish Socialists Attack Catholic Church in Wake of Pro-Family Demonstration

In the wake of a massive pro-marriage and pro-family demonstration that included between one and two million participants, Spanish socialists are lashing out at the Catholic Church, accusing it of hypocrisy and of attempting to intervene in the political process.

Speakers at the rally, which took place on December 30, rarely made mention of government or politics. However, the message of the rally was clear, the natural, two-parent family, consisting of a husband and wife, is the foundation of society. The Socialist Worker's Party, which currently controls the presidency and the parliament, passed a law in 2005 allowing homosexuals to "marry" each other. With barely three months remaining before the national elections, they are worried about the effect the demonstration could have on an already tight race.

According to Vatican radio, the government at first asked the Catholic bishops to "apologize" for the rally. Now the Catholic News Agency is reporting that Jose Blanco, Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE) that currently occupies the presidency, denounced the Pope and hierarchy, asking them "to explain to me just exactly what is the Christian family, maybe by traditional family he means that the woman just stays at home and does housework." Blanco also claimed that some members of the Church hierarchy needed to "re-read the gospel", accusing them of promoting conditions of "inequality and injustice in the morning, and resolve them by praying the rosary in the afternoon." Blanco encouraged the hierarchy to "evolve".

Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has also complained, asserting that the bishops never criticized the anti-family policies of the Populist Party, the "right wing" alternative to the socialists, who lost power in 2004. However, as the Spanish website ForumLibertas points out, the Catholic bishops repeatedly criticized the Popular Party for failing to defend family values during their eight-year tenure.

ForumLibertas documents the fact that Catholic bishops repeatedly criticized the approval of the abortifacient "morning after pill" RU-486, which was approved under Popular Party leadership in 1998, and decried the "tragic consequence" of the government's liberal abortion laws, which were not altered under Popular Party leadership.

The Spanish ambassador to the Vatican, Francisco Vazquez, also chimed in against the Catholic Church. Speaking of himself in the third person, he said that "many Spaniards, among them the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, in his role as ambassador, as a politician, as a member of the Socialist Party, but, most of all in his condition of Christian and Spanish citizen," had the impression that the bishops' demonstration had ended up being "practically a political rally". In response, the Spanish activist group Hazte Oir! is calling for the dismissal of Vazquez and is maintaining an on line petition for that purpose



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

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

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


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pro-life Women Jailed for Having Begged an Abortionist to Quit a Decade Ago

And that's in Nebraska, not Canada

Pro-life activists Shari McKee and Melissa Abbink were jailed on December 28th, 2007, for speaking to Lincoln abortionist Winston Crabb on two occasions in front of his home 10 years ago. Abbink faces five months in jail while McKee has been sentenced to serve eight months behind bars. According to Operation Rescue, in February 1998, both were charged with violating the "focused picketing" ordinance even though neither had signs and both incidents lasted only a minute each. "Just long enough," said OR, "to plead for the lives of pre-born children as he walked from his car to his house."

After exhausting the appeals of the criminal cases, the convictions were upheld by the Nebraska Supreme Court on September 10, 1999. However, for reasons unknown, the mandate did not come down until September 28, 2005, over 6 years later.

The last two years have been spent seeking a commutation. The women's cases were brought before the Board of Pardons, which was very sympathetic, but refused to act because the Board does not review misdemeanor cases. The Board referred the cases to the Mayor of Lincoln, who has refused to act claiming he does not have the authority to grant commutations. According to the women's attorneys, the Mayor clearly does have the authority to commute misdemeanor sentences.

"We are asking pro-lifers to write to Mayor Beutler and ask him to commute the sentences of these two women," said Larry Donlan, Director of Rescue the Heartland. "Be sure to point out that the Pardon Board says he has the authority to do so. Be polite and remember, it is a commutation that we are after, not a pardon. Like the parable of the widow, we are seeking justice for these two brave, God-fearing women. Only Mayor Beutler has that ability to grant that justice. He can do so by merely picking up the phone." E-mail: mayor@lincoln.ne.gov


John McCain, Multiculturalist. Immigration is just one problem

We all know John McCain is terrible on immigration. For years he held America's sovereignty and security hostage to amnesty and increased immigration, and his newfound support for "enforcement first" is so insubstantial and transparently insincere that it insults our intelligence. He's so bad that Americans for Better Immigration ranks his performance in office as the worst of all the presidential candidates - including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. (See the GOP grid here and the Democratic one here.) And as Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation has pointed out, passage of McCain's bill "would represent the largest expansion of the welfare state in 30 years."

But his support for de facto open borders is merely one manifestation of a larger problem - John McCain is a multiculturalist. I don't mean he eats tacos at the Cinco de Mayo parade (nothing wrong with that!) - I mean he's an ideological multiculturalist. Francis Fukuyama has described (PDF) the ideology of multiculturalism this way: "not just as tolerance of cultural diversity in de facto multicultural societies but as the demand for legal recognition of the rights of ethnic, racial, religious, or cultural groups." At almost every turn over his entire public career, John McCain has supported the pluribus over the unum.

Take bilingual education. McCain has been an enthusiastic proponent of this divisive and discredited program for years. He was honorary co-host of the 1995 convention of the National Association for Bilingual Education; The New Republic reported that he wrote to convention participants that "[t]o reject a native language as a tool for teaching as well as enriching our national heritage makes learning all the more difficult and makes us a poorer nation."

In 1998 he said, "I have always supported bilingual education programs to help students learn English. Proposals to restrict the use of languages other than English are always divisive." That was the year that California voters approved Proposition 227, "English for the Children," which (sort of) abolished bilingual education there.

In 1999 McCain was given the "Legislative Friendship Award" from LULAC, the League of Latin American Citizens, at which point, in the words of the Human Events report, he "hailed the bilingual education that Californians banned with the successful `English for the Children' initiative last year. Insulting the motives of California voters, McCain told the LULAC banquet, `We don't need laws that cause any American to believe we scorn their contributions to our culture.'" (The Los Angeles Times report noted wryly that "McCain's remarks were all but indistinguishable from those of the vice president.")

Despite the fact that he mentions the long-discredited "transition" rationale for bilingual education, McCain has embraced foreign-language maintenance as the real goal, buying into the "we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us" justification for Hispanic group rights. This is what he means with his frequent references to the historical primacy of Spanish in Arizona.

McCain's ideological multiculturalism is also apparent from his longstanding opposition to official status for the English language; as he boasted on Hardball in 2000, "I have fought against English-only ballot initiatives." He started at least as far back as 1988, when he opposed Article 28, an official-English initiative approved by Arizona voters but thrown out by the courts.

More recently, he voted for the Salazar amendment to his 2006 amnesty bill, which would have codified Clinton's Executive Order 13166. That order enshrines official, legally mandated multilingualism, requiring all government agencies and all recipients of federal funds to provide any services in any foreign language requested. (See the text here and more details here and here.) With his eye no doubt on the coming presidential race, he flip-flopped and voted against the very same amendment this past summer during the debate over his most recent amnesty bill.

In last June's presidential debate in New Hampshire, when Wolf Blitzer asked if any of the candidates opposed official English, would they speak up - McCain spoke up, starting with a weasely "I think it's fine," then expounding on the language rights of American Indians. Another part of his response was revealing: "Everybody knows that English has to be learned if anyone ever wants to move up the economic ladder. That is obvious." True enough, but that begs the question: The source of the public appeal of official English is that it asserts not merely a practical reason for newcomers to learn English but a moral obligation to do so. Throughout his public life McCain has repeatedly rejected the idea of such an obligation.

Multiculturalism is more than language, of course. McCain has also supported racial preferences and racial-identity politics. As Ward Connerly wrote in NR:
[In 1996], when a number of Republicans and others in Arizona sought to pass a bill in that state's legislature outlawing race preferences, we were told by several Republican legislators that they had received calls from Sen. John McCain urging them not to support such a measure because - again, as always - it might "send the wrong message."
Rick Santorum, in his recent interview with Hugh Hewitt, describes how McCain racialized the immigration issue to his fellow Republican senators:
[McCain] lectured us repeatedly about how xenophobic we were, lectured us, us being the Republican conference, about how wrong we were on this, how we were on the wrong side of history, and that you know, this is important for his . . . because having come from Arizona, knowing the strength of the Hispanic community, that we were going to be seen as racists, and he wasn't going be part of that, that he was not a racist, and that if we were for tougher borders, it was a racist thing.
He did likewise in opposing Arizona's Proposition 200 in 2006, which would have required proof of citizenship to register to vote, and legal status to access certain state benefits, saying that it would result in "racial profiling."

Even on trivial matters, McCain adopts the racial-grievance worldview of the multiculturalists. When speaking to LULAC in 2000, the AP reports him saying this:
I am ashamed when demeaning stereotypes of Hispanic Americans substitute in our popular entertainment . . . for honest and realistic portrayals," McCain said. "I know that for you to achieve fairer representation in popular media, you will have to achieve a greater representation in the executive suites and boardrooms of corporate media.
That's not all. McCain also supported the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which would have established a parallel government for people of Hawaiian ethnic origin. And on the Kennewick Man controversy, he sided with the American Indian tribes against the scientists.

It's true that McCain has taken liberal stances on other issues - greenhouse emissions, free speech, judges - and those are all bad. But they don't strike at the coherence of the American nation. We haven't heard as much this time around about how McCain is the second coming of Theodore Roosevelt, but a comparison is striking. As John Fonte has suggested, McCain has kept TR's progressivism, which is so unappealing to modern conservatives, but discarded precisely that which made TR attractive - his unapologetic assimilationism. Before anyone ever compares him to TR again, just try to imagine McCain saying this, from one of TR's letters:
We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house.
At almost every opportunity, John McCain has rejected the crucible and chosen the polyglot boarding house.


Stoneridge and the Rule of Law

Last week, the Supreme Court rejected the claims of certain defrauded investors when it handed down the decision in Stoneridge Investment Partners LLC v. Scientific-Atlanta, Inc. This week the court refused to hear the appeal of Enron investors, who raised similar claims.

Is this proof that the court is insensitive to victimized investors? Hardly. It is the mark of a court that insists on predictability and the rule of law -- principles that are fundamental to the protection of investors and success of their investments. Although some have called Stoneridge "anti-investor," the Supreme Court's decision actually protects shareholders from creative and unpredictable new ways to extract large settlements, which always include an ample portion for the lawyers.

At issue was whether companies can be held liable in class actions for securities law violations committed by companies with which they do business, the primary violators. Because the law permits private plaintiffs to recover only against primary violators and not secondary violators, the Stoneridge plaintiffs attempted to portray the defendant-companies as primary violators under the theory that they participated in a "scheme" to defraud.

In Stoneridge,the Supreme Court held that investors in one company cannot sue other companies for securities fraud unless those other companies did something that the plaintiffs specifically relied on when making investment decisions. The court warned that if it adopted the plaintiffs' concept of reliance, the "cause of action would reach the whole marketplace in which the issuing company does business." In other words, had Stoneridge gone the other way, plaintiffs would be able to reach into the pockets of customers, vendors and other firms that simply do business with companies that defraud investors.

Regardless, Stoneridge sparked an outcry from those arguing that in the name of "fairness" and "justice" someone should be forced to pay if the primary wrongdoer cannot. This outcry could lead to demands on Congress to rewrite the securities laws to give plaintiffs like those inStoneridge what they could not get in court -- the ability to reach into a deep pocket regardless of culpability. But justice is not merely finding someone who can pay. Exposing one company to class-action lawsuits because another company defrauded its investors is not fair or just to shareholders who shoulder the burden of class-action settlements.

Moreover, as the Supreme Court observed in Stoneridge, broadening the scope of securities laws can damage capital markets. Subjecting new classes of defendants to lawsuits raises the costs of being a public company, deters overseas firms from doing business here, and shifts securities offerings away from domestic capital markets to the detriment of U.S. investors.

But those who knowingly assist others in violating securities laws will not go unpunished. As the Supreme Court observed in Stoneridge, Congress amended the securities laws in 1995 to allow the Securities and Exchange Commission to bring actions against secondary violators that aid and abet securities fraud. Congress wisely declined to extend that right to private parties, out of concern of abusive securities litigation. The SEC is well positioned to hold responsible individuals accountable by imposing injunctions, officer and director bars, disgorgement, and civil penalties. Ill-gotten gains that the SEC recovers -- along with civil penalties -- may be disbursed to aggrieved investors without the usual cut for the plaintiffs' lawyers.

The SEC uses its authority to hold wrongdoers accountable, and has obtained settlements from parties for similar conduct at issue in Stoneridge. For example, the SEC filed suit against vendors that allegedly aided and abetted in the fraud of U.S. Food Service, Inc. Just last month, it filed suit against a partner of a major law firm for allegedly aiding and abetting Refco in defrauding its shareholders. For egregious violations, the SEC may refer matters to the Department of Justice to bring criminal charges. In both the U.S. Food Service and Refco matters, the SEC cooperated with DOJ.Stoneridge is no free pass to parties assisting in fraud.

The SEC has tremendous leverage to obtain settlements and assert novel bases of liability in court. But the SEC must resist efforts -- internal or external -- to broaden securities laws beyond their existing boundaries, even when those efforts are driven by a desire to see harmed shareholders recompensed. By respecting legal boundaries and not "pushing the envelope," the SEC provides predictability to investors, individuals and companies as to unacceptable conduct.

The SEC has an enormous responsibility not only to enforce the securities laws as written, but also to avoid rewriting and expanding them in the process. The integrity of our capital markets and the welfare of investors depend on the adherence to the rule of law by all participants. That is the lesson of Stoneridge.


Propaganda for toddlers in Australia

CHILDREN as young as three are being taught anti-racism lessons as part of the first NSW Government-funded program designed to stamp out bigotry from a young age. The program will be rolled out at a preschool in western NSW and youngsters will be given regular lessons in tolerance and multiculturalism.

The move comes as NSW councils investigate implementing a similar program across all council-funded daycare centres across the state.

The Menindee Children's Centre, in the state's Far West, has just received a $4000 grant to launch the first State Government-funded program of its kind. The focus on racism follows the 2005 Cronulla riots and a recent Government survey which found more than 40 per cent of migrants surveyed had come across "some" or "a lot" of racism in Australia. Claims of racism also blew up recently in the Sydney Test between India and Australia.

NSW preschool's director Hayley D'Ettorre said the centre would use the funding to launch the program, which was to include guest speakers and lessons on international music as well as foods and books. She said the centrepiece of the program would be regular discussions about racism. "It is the biggest part of the program, it will be about teaching tolerance and positive diversity every day," she said.

Premier Morris Iemma said it was necessary to teach our youngest about tolerance. "It is important for our children to learn acceptance of different cultures at an early age," he told The Daily Telegraph. "If we set our children up with the right messages we will ultimately enjoy a more tolerant, accepting and peaceful society."

Local Government Association president Genia McCaffery said they would study the anti-racism program of one western Sydney daycare centre with a view to rolling out a simular curriculum across the state.



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

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

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


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spanish Homosexuals File Criminal Charges Against Bishop for Condemning Sodomy

The Spanish State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (FELGT) has filed a criminal complaint against the Catholic bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Alvarez, for making statements against homosexual behavior and comparing it to child sexual abuse.

Since making the statements in late December, Bishop Alvarez has been widely criticized throughout the mainstream Spanish media for reiterating the Catholic Church's consistent teaching on the subject. After being asked "what is your opinion of homosexuality," by the Spanish newspaper La Opinion de Tenerife, the Bishop stated that people who had the condition for "physiological" reasons were deserving of respect, but went on to say that "it is another question if homosexuality is or isn't a virtue."

"It is necessary to be very careful these days because one can't say that someone suffers from homosexuality," Alvarez continued. "It isn't politically correct to say that it is an illness, a lack of something, a deformity of human nature itself. Something that all the dictionaries of psychiatry said ten years ago can't be said today." "It is very clear that, in this sense, my thinking is that of the Church: the greatest respect for people, but logically, I believe that the phenomenon of homosexuality is something that damages people and society. Eventually we will suffer the consequences just as other civilizations have."

The bishop went on to say that children needed to be inculcated with the virtues of masculinity and femininity, defending his position by noting that children receive guidance to avoid various pathologies, including violent behavior. He said that in most cases homosexual orientation is not biologically determined and is a search for sexual "novelty", comparing it in this sense to pederasty.

Denouncing the Bishop for "identifying homosexuality with the sexual abuse of minors" and for "promoting an attitude of violence and discrimination" against homosexuals, FELGT president Antonio Poveda responded this week by filing formal charges against the bishop with state government prosecutors. Poveda also attempted to portray the bishop as a defender of child sexual abuse, when in fact the bishop was showing the similarity between adolescent sexual abuse and homosexuality. When the La Opinion interviewer objected that homosexuality and sexual abuse were different because sexual abuse was not voluntary, the bishop pointed out that there are cases of minors who consent to it and even seek to provoke it.

"It seems that he is justifying the abuse of minors, coming from an institution that has been condemned the most times in the world for sexual abuse," said Poveda. "It is necessary for the hierarchy to be respectful and to know that as citizens they have freedom of expression, but they also have to respect the standards that are set by the laws in this country and in this case they have passed that boundary, therefore we hope that the Attorney General will intervene to prevent such lamentable declarations from being made again."

The FELGT's complaint follows another similar complaint the group made recently against a protestant minister in the province of Galicia. Marcos Zapata is accused of having given a talk on how to encourage heterosexual development in children. The organization has threatened to sue Zapata and has asked the government of Galicia to investigate him because he conducts anti-drug and anti-violence programs in government schools.


Guardians who need a good smack

Comment from Britain: The NSPCC is parodying itself by setting up a panel to looking into TV parenting shows

How could anybody criticise the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children? Well, they could point out that the NSPCC's media campaigns spread a poisonous message of mistrust by implying that all of our children are at risk from adults, most often those closest to them. I once suggested the charity be renamed the National Society for the Persecution of Child Carers, or the Promulgation of Calumnies about Childhood.

Now, however, the NSPCC appears to be parodying itself by setting up a new body of experts to protect children from abuse on television parenting shows. Not content with saving kids in the real world, they want to rescue those on reality TV. And having bullied and guilt-tripped parents to toe the line, they want to do the same to TV's own parenting experts.

The NSPCC took exception to two "irresponsible" programmes. Bringing up Baby on Channel 4, where mentors taught different systems of childcare, sparked allegations of abuse when one expert suggested that parents leave babies to cry. The Baby Borrowers, the BBC's "unique social experiment", has attracted opprobrium by leaving babies in the care of those whom the NSPCC calls "inexperienced teenagers".

Child protection crusaders have long expanded the definition of child abuse to include anything from smacking a child to shouting at it. Now it appears that even leaving a baby crying in a cot is to be redefined as child cruelty, especially on TV, as is leaving babies with non-related teens - or as we used to call them, baby-sitters. Somehow, generations of us survived such horrific experiences, even without an army of TV producers watching over us.

Of course, those reality shows and their multiple experts are also symptoms of our society's harmful obsession with parenting and child protection. They only add to the inflated debate about the "right" way to raise children, and risk leaving parents with a growing sense of confusion and insecurity. Time to grow up. There is no right way to bring up baby. And whatever hotch-potch method you use will have no long-term effect on your child. As one wise man said, if you can avoid locking them in a wardrobe or beating them over the head with a frying pan, they should be fine.

Old cynics like me might think the NSPCC's new focus rather appropriate, since the charity is something of a reality TV show itself. A huge slice of its 150 million pounds income goes on PR and self-publicity, to raise the cash to put out more propaganda so that it can raise more money to put out more propaganda. Perhaps its new body of experts could start by looking into exploitative broadcasts where child actors pretend to be victims of abuse to guilt-trip innocent people into giving money. Now that's what I call irresponsible TV.


The Gipper lives

BARACK Obama, who is level-pegging with Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, committed what looked like a serious gaffe last week. According to the classic definition, coined by liberal columnist Michael Kinsley, a political gaffe consists of a politician telling the truth inadvertently. And in an interview with a US newspaper, Obama praised Ronald Reagan. In the eyes of left-wing activists, that was rather like a candidate for the papacy putting in a good word for Beelzebub. Worse, Obama praised Reagan not in saccharine generalities that might have been forgiven ("a great American", "he expressed America's can-do spirit", and so on) but more pointedly and heretically as an agent of political change.

Here are his words: "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 1960s and '70s and, you know, government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think ... he tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

Obama might have cited different Reaganite achievements that seem more important historically: for instance, his masterly waging of strategic competition against the Soviets that, in Margaret Thatcher's words, "won the Cold War without firing a shot". But such an argument would not have made all the useful political points implicit in his quote, notably that (a) Reagan changed America for the better; (b) his changes limited government and liberated private entrepreneurship; (c) these changes were necessary and reflected what Americans wanted; and, above all, (d) president Clinton really hadn't altered the trajectory that Reagan launched any more than Nixon had altered the liberal trajectory of FDR and LBJ. This list amounts to a comprehensive dissing of Democratic pieties and recent Democratic history. Obama's rivals were virtually compelled to attack it.

After a day or two it began to look as if Obama's praise for Reagan was not a gaffe at all. After all, Obama had felt no need to withdraw or even amend that praise, usually the final stage of the gaffe trajectory. On the contrary, it had wrong-footed his opponents, strengthened his appeal to Republicans and independents for November, widened his ideological options and confirmed his public image of cool graciousness. Not a bad return on saying what almost everyone, including his rivals John Edwards and Hillary (and Bill) Clinton, knows to be a fact.

That fact, however, reflects a dramatic turnaround in Reagan's fortunes. According to Gallup, Reagan's average approval rating during his time in office was a distinctly average 53 per cent. Since 1989, however, it has gradually risen to 73 per cent (a rating exceeded only by the glamorous but mediocre John F. Kennedy). Asked to rate presidents in terms of greatness, Americans in recent years have put him just under (and sometimes above) Abraham Lincoln.

Such a sharp change reflects several different factors. Retirement and death usually improve a politician's reputation. Old opponents overcome the bitterness of past conflicts; newcomers hardly remember what they were about. Anyone who today cites the striking air controllers almost certainly does so to praise Reagan's firmness. Subsequent events in the world can show someone's real mettle. Dunkirk destroyed the reputation of Chamberlain and Baldwin. The collapse of Soviet communism underlined Reagan's shrewdness and strength, and the worth of his principled anti-communism.

Reagan's domestic legacy has been equally impressive: a political structure constraining government in which his Democrat opponents have been more or less compelled to follow his trajectory. The most favourable interpretation of Bill Clinton's record, for instance, is that he implemented the more progressive parts of the Republican agenda such as welfare reform and the expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both Clintons have thus had to adopt a nervously favourable attitude to the Gipper. Anything less would be ingratitude.

Historical scholarship has limped along behind these developments. But recent studies of the Reagan presidency, including some by political liberals such as Richard Reeves, have conceded that Reagan was a successful and historically important president. As Reeves argued, it is simply implausible to imagine that the "amiable dunce" of earlier liberal imaginings could have racked up such impressive achievements.

More important, however, has been one trend utterly impossible to predict. Reagan refurbished his own reputation while suffering from, first, Alzheimer's and, second, death. Books based on his radio scripts, newspaper columns, letters and diaries - all published just before or after his death - have shown him to be a much more diligent, thoughtful, well-informed and able man than his earlier reputation suggested. We now have a clear impression of an inner man who matches the external achievements. His public image has risen accordingly.

Obama is the first politician in this campaign, and perhaps the first Democrat ever, to exploit Reagan's new standing effectively. Hillary Clinton, Edwards and even the adept Bill Clinton are still flummoxed over how to get around the obstacle of Reagan in their path to power. But the Republican candidates are hardly less flummoxed by a GOP primary process that is now in effect a contest to find another Reagan.

Their first problem with Reagan is that he is the great man beside whom they are all bound to look like pygmies until they gain power and, thus, the chance to match his achievements (and doubtful even then). Their attempt to resemble Reagan inevitably diminishes them. Their other problem is they cannot sensibly answer the question: what would Reagan do? They tend to fall back on the reply: what he did last time. But as various conservative intellectuals - David Frum in the new book Comeback, Victor Hanson Davis on National Review Online - have pointed out, that answer is misleading because Reagan was dealing with very different problems from those of 2008. We have to ask instead: what made him a different kind of political leader? William Kristol in The Weekly Standard argues rightly that Reagan differed from most leaders and all the present candidates in being the leader of both a political party and an ideological conservative movement.

The same is true, incidentally, of Thatcher and John Howard. It explains why they could act more boldly than most (directionless) leaders but also why their supporters trusted them when they compromised. None of the three, however, was an original political thinker or a rigid ideologist imposing a prefabricated project on their nations: that is a typical left-wing misinterpretation of Thatcherism in particular. They were courageous and principled leaders applying practical conservative solutions to the problems of hyper-inflation, economic over-regulation and the Soviet advance that had been thrown at them by history. As it happened, their solutions turned out to be the right ones. But they were elicited by the problems as much as springing from conservatism.

History is throwing different problems at America today: the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Iran and Afghanistan among them. Republicans should examine these problems rather than Reagan's record. If they are both practical and conservative, they will tend to come up with reasonable conservative solutions. Obama has already figured this out. He merely thinks the best solutions to these new problems are likely to be liberal ones, and so the next agent of change a liberal version of Reagan.


The Homily that Caused an Outcry and the Priest to be Dismissed

This past December 9, at St. James' parish in Rockford Illinois, a very normal Mass suddenly became a very unusual Mass when a parishioner stood up in the middle of the homily, interrupted the priest, shouting at him "When are you going to stop?", and then left, with her homosexual partner in tow. A few other parishioners also stood up and left the church. A few days later, the priest was dismissed from his duties at the parish by his bishop.

Catholics know that there are some things that you just don't hear preached from the pulpit any more. The most conspicuous of these unpreachables is sexual ethics, especially the idea that using contraception might be immoral, and contrary to a Culture of Life. Most priests know that these are unpopular subjects, and emphatically avoid them. But Fr. Tom Bartolomeo, who until several weeks ago was the associate pastor at St. James parish, is not your typical priest. To begin with, Fr. Bartolomeo was ordained only just over a year ago. This, of course, is not exactly extraordinary in itself, except for the fact that he is now seventy years old. At an age when many other priests are retiring, therefore, he is only getting his feet wet.

Perhaps, says the elderly priest in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com, his newness to the ministry and late vocation explains his almost youth-like zeal for his priestly duties. "I'm going to die with my boots on," he says. "Who knows how many years I have left? That kind of puts pressure on me to preach the Gospel message. My days are numbered."

About a month ago, however, Fr. Bartolomeo's enthusiasm for the Gospel message brought an unexpected turn into his life, when he gave what he thought was a normal Advent homily. The homily was the second of a projected series of four homilies dealing with life and family issues, designed to coincide with the four Sundays of Advent - the season leading up to the birth of Jesus. This particular homily had to do with contraception and natural family planning.

The Catholic Church teaches that the use of contraception is intrinsically and gravely immoral. Church teaching does, however, allow married couples to use the natural rhythms of the female body to knowingly space children, if there is a sufficiently grave reason to do so. These fundamental moral teachings formed the basis of Fr. Bartolomeo's homily.

"New births, anniversaries and funerals, separations of any kind, a photograph from the past - give us pause and remind us whom we are bound to," he said in his homily, a copy of which he provided for LifeSiteNews. "Our human sexuality - father, mother, brother, sister - reveals our deepest relationships. We call God our father, and his Son our brother." "Contraception, contra-conception, trivializes the sacred value of human sexuality - a danger humanity did not have to face a century ago before the advent of modern chemistry and technology, the pill (before or after) and a host of plastic devices."

"Contracept, take God's plan off the table, and you have mayhem," he said. "The most important thing in your lives, bearing children, is no longer discussed. It has been permanently removed from the conversation. Done deal. The pill, the IUD, the diaphragm, the sponge, the condom - who is making money here? - have shut down not only the body but the brain. And wives and husbands wonder why they grow apart? When a man and woman, a husband and wife, share daily this most wonderful mystery of their human sexuality they are bonding as nature and God intended."

In the middle of this homily however, say witnesses, one congregation member stood up and began to argue with the priest, yelling "When are you going to stop?" Gerald Weber, who has been a parishioner at St. James for 47 years, was at that Mass. "It was embarrassing, the noticeable argumentative tone with which she stopped him in his homily," he told LifeSiteNews. "Father treated her nicely for the way she was acting, but she continued yelling. She finally sat down, but then stood up again, and took her friend with her and made a show of leaving the church. With that there were some other people who objected to the subject matter."

While Weber suggests that the homily may have been somewhat "graphic" for a Sunday Mass, insofar as it touched on some of the science of NFP, he points out that nothing in the homily was contrary to Catholic teaching. The fact that Fr. Bartolomeo was dismissed from the parish Weber calls "drastic." "I think it's rather drastic, without knowing all the facts, to come down on a man in this way."

Another parishioner, Heidi Martinez, who was also at the Mass in question, disagrees that the homily was graphic, saying that she can't even recall what might have been considered objectionable in that way. Martinez says she distinctly remembers the date and time of the homily, because she gave birth to her first-born child that same day, shortly after she left the church; she calls her new-born child her "miracle baby," since she had previously gone through three miscarriages. She also says that she has something of a different perspective on the homily, being as she is recently married. The message that Fr. Bartolomeo preached was extremely pertinent and necessary, she says. "The Catholic Church pushes all the time--don't use contraceptives, use NFP, and all that, but a lot of people don't know why. And if you don't hear it from the Church that pushes it, where are you going to get it from?" "You're certainly not going to get it in the Catholic schools."

Weber also revealed to Fr. Bartolomeo, and LifeSiteNews, that the parishioner who had created the scene was a publicly practicing lesbian. She and her partner had recently been told that they could no longer lector or distribute Communion at the parish. "They [the lesbian couple] may have had an edge," says Weber, "because they have recently been kind of, not reprimanded, but not allowed to participate like they had been participating."

The priest, however, is quick to defend his bishop. "Bishop Doran's orthodox Catholic reputation is well established," he points out. "Our diocesan Respect Life Office under the leadership of Bishop Doran is continuously advancing the pro-life cause." "I'm not being punished," Fr. Bartolomeo clarifies, pointing out that Bishop Doran agreed that his homily was perfectly in keeping with Catholic teaching. "I wasn't accused of doing anything wrong. I think the implication was that I was imprudent." [Imprudent for a Catholic priest to preach Catholic doctrine in a Catholic church????]

The Rockford Diocese's media relations official, Penny Wiegert, told LifeSiteNews that the diocese would not comment on Fr. Bartolomeo's dismissal, saying "The reasons for these moves are between the individual priest and his bishop and is considered a personnel issue that our diocese does not discuss in the press out of respect for both the individual priest and his bishop."

Wiegert also defended the Rockford Diocese's pro-NFP stance, saying "The Rockford Diocese is in the forefront of supporting Natural Family Planning and educating the faithful on its physical and spiritual benefits especially in its marriage preparation programs, seminars for married couples and in informational classes....The aforementioned forums are considered to be the most appropriate for educating and promoting the benefits and details of NFP."

Fr. Bartolomeo, however, clearly does not agree that he was imprudent. "The Church is really under attack, and I think we flinch at the slight objections and I don't think that's the proper way to react to our enemies," he says. "Rather than dissuading me, all of this is drawing me more and more into that truth, into the Gospel. I have no idea where this is going to take me." He says that now he is beginning to read everything he can get on the life and family issues, and is looking into the possibility of pursuing advocacy in those areas. He also disagrees that his homily was "graphic," observing that even the youngest children routinely encounter much more explicit material in their day-to-day encounters with television, the internet, and sex-ed at school.

The priest says that he was surprised at the adverse reactions to his homily, but is also learning that many of the Church's teachings on sexuality are not well-known, and are often considered optional by some Catholics. "The fact is, I suspect that most Catholics do not practice NFP," he says. "I think for many people there's a visceral reaction to that, particularly if they haven't heard it before. And tweaking of consciences can be painful."

But, he adds, "There's nothing more central to the malaise and disease in the church than contracepting Catholic couples, and not realizing the wonderful strengthening of faith that can be found in NFP. All you have to do is meet a family and their children to see that they have found the proper way to relate to each other. It's so demonstrably wonderful to see this natural, loving union of children. You don't ordinarily see that in families."



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

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

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


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Friday, January 25, 2008

Britain: Three Little Pigs 'too offensive'

A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been turned down from a government agency's annual awards because the subject matter could offend Muslims. The digital book, re-telling the classic fairy tale, was rejected by judges who warned that "the use of pigs raises cultural issues". Becta, the government's educational technology agency, is a leading partner in the annual schools award. The judges also attacked Three Little Cowboy Builders for offending builders.

The book's creative director, Anne Curtis, said that the idea that including pigs in a story could be interpreted as racism was "like a slap in the face". The CD-Rom digital version of the traditional story of the three little pigs, called Three Little Cowboy Builders, is aimed at primary school children. But judges at this year's Bett Award said that they had "concerns about the Asian community and the use of pigs raises cultural issues". The Three Little Cowboy Builders has already been a prize winner at the recent Education Resource Award - but its Newcastle-based publishers, Shoo-fly were turned down by the Bett Award panel.

The feedback from the judges explaining why they had rejected the CD-Rom highlighted that they "could not recommend this product to the Muslim community". They also warned that the story might "alienate parts of the workforce (building trade)". The judges criticised the stereotyping in the story of the unfortunate pigs: "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?"

Ms Curtis said that rather than preventing the spread of racism, such an attitude was likely to inflame ill-feeling. As another example, she says would that mean that secondary schools could not teach Animal Farm because it features pigs? Her company is committed to an ethical approach to business and its products promote a message of mutual respect, she says - and banning such traditional stories will "close minds rather than open them".

Becta, the government funded agency responsible for technology in schools and colleges, says that it is standing by the judges' verdict. "Becta with its partners is responsible for the judging criteria against which the 70 independent judges, mostly practising teachers, comment. All the partners stick by the judging criteria," said a Becta spokesman. The reason that this product was not shortlisted was because "it failed to reach the required standard across a number of criteria", said the spokesman. Becta runs the awards with the Besa trade association and show organisers, Emap Education.

Merlin John, author of an educational technology website which highlighted the story, warns that such rulings can undermine the credibility of the awards. "When benchmarks are undermined by pedestrian and pedantic tick lists, and by inflexible, unhelpful processes, it can tarnish the achievements of even the most worthy winners. "It's time for a rethink, and for Becta to listen to the criticisms that have been ignored for a number of years," said Mr John.


Black racism

The incident that prompted this week's editorial involves Tiger Woods, a Golf Channel correspondent and, depending on your point of view, either a poor choice of words, a deliberately racist jibe, or just a sentence that shouldn't have any offensive meaning whatsoever. The incident occurred during a Golf Channel telecast of the Mercedes-Benz Championship. Anchors Nick Faldo and Kelly Tilghman were discussing young players who could challenge Tiger Woods' dominance when Faldo suggested that "to take Tiger on, maybe they should just gang up for a while."

"Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman replied.

And that's all it took. Suddenly, every civil rights activist was coming out of the woodwork, screaming racism. Never mind the fact that Tilghman and Woods are actually close friends. Never mind the fact that Tiger quickly forgave Tilghman for the "poor choice of words." Nope, that doesn't matter. Lynching is obviously purely a black experience, and therefore, any comment regarding lynching is racist.

In the aftermath, Tilghman was suspended for two weeks by the Golf Channel for her comments. That seems reasonable to us considering the lack of malice in the comment-if not a bit harsh. Was it good enough for Rev. Al Sharpton, confident after his crusade to get Don Imus fired for racially insensitive comments (which, by the way, were definitely insensitive)? No, he wanted Tilghman fired. Fired? Is Al Sharpton putting what Tilghman said on the same level as Imus' comments? Apparently.

At some point, you start to wonder, "Who is the person with the racism problem here?" Is it the Golf Channel correspondent who makes an off-handed comment, or is it people like Rev. Al Sharpton who seem to look for reasons to get angry, call people racist and try to get them fired? Is it people who find loaded meanings in every phrase, every representation, every movie, every waking moment in American life? It's tough to think of a bigger hypocrite than Sharpton when it comes to racial tolerance. This is the same man who has referred to Jewish people as "diamond merchants" and has been known to incite anti-Semitic violence. Racism indeed.

Could it be possible that Sharpton and some of the other "civil rights" leaders are actually racist themselves? Would they have been as upset if it had been an African-American anchor who had made the comment? Was Sharpton just assuming that since Tilghman is white, the comment had to be racist?

David Feherty of CBS may have summed it up best when he said, "Reverend Al needs to take a lesson and be more like Tiger, because every slip of the tongue is not a racist slur. To even imply that Kelly Tilghman is in any way a racist, you are judging her by the color of her skin and not the content of her character, which seems a bit hypocritical to me." We couldn't agree more. It's time to stop looking for problems and start finding solutions.


Women's libbers for law'n'order

Why are once radical feminists joining the chorus of disapproval about young women in mini-skirts going out, getting hammered and having sex?

`Horrifying!' roared the UK Daily Mail after an 18-year-old woman, Cheryl Tunney, admitted on the BBC3 programme Sex. with Mum and Dad that her `hobby' is having sex with men she meets on the internet (1). As a result, Cheryl apparently has 50 notches on her bedpost.

Despair and handwringing over what young women get up to was all over the place at the start of the New Year, too. Some British broadsheet newspapers printed a rogues' gallery of skimpily dressed young women out on the lash and the pull. Such is the steady glug, glug of anti-drink whingeing these days that even the age-old ritual of `seeing in the New Year' (preferably through beer goggles) is now taken as proof that the masses are festering in a sea of their own vomit. Clearly these complaining writers have been living in convents all their lives; haven't we always drunk to excess on New Year's Eve?

The big difference between the boozing of yesterday and today is that more young women go out socialising these days. It is called equality, grandad, and it seems many a newspaper columnist finds the notion of women `behaving badly' to be dangerously intoxicating stuff. Nevertheless, it's not just the colonel-minded blimps and cranks on the Daily Mail and Daily Express who don't like to see women drunk; a surprising number of `modern women' and ex-feminists are complaining about young women's `loose morals', too.

In a recent article, spiked contributor Emily Hill asked `whatever happened to solidarity?', and noted that some American feminists, such as Carol Liebau and Ariel Levy, now argue that women are in the grip of a `raunch culture' more obsessed with being sexy than clever and thus leading to a female generation that `compete to look like slags and sluts'. In Britain, the reaction is wearily similar. As Hill noted, `pioneering feminists like Rosie Boycott and Fay Weldon are pouncing on Liebau's book to trash the current generation as irresponsible slags and binge drinkers, only interested in a "grope" and "vomit"' (2).

Indeed, nothing seems to symbolise all that's wrong with Western societies these days more than what young women are supposedly getting up to. And when commentators who once championed women's equality are at the forefront of such shrill disapproval, there's clearly more going on here than an outburst of traditional misogyny.

Any salacious and prurient tittle-tattle on `binge-drinking Britain' will always be accompanied by pictures of young women in a state of disrepair. Photos of Amy Winehouse with her tats out, cigs in hand and seriously half-cut in Camden have become the signifier for a female generation gone to seed (3). The unsubtle implication is that it's one thing to expect rowdy lads to get hammered and lairy on a weekend; it's another thing entirely when young women do the same. Indeed, young women's `loose' behaviour is increasingly used as an example of how morally malign and tawdry Britain has become. Sunday Times columnist India Knight recently bemoaned the young women who went to Manchester United's Christmas party in the hope of pulling a footballer or five. `What is wrong with these women?', she wailed (4).

For all the advancements that women have made in society, it's surprising that a `drown-the-witch' mentality still exists regarding women's sexual behaviour. A few years back, Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon chose to express his sneering disapproval of reality TV show I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, on which he was a contestant, by venting his rage against the presence of `slapper' glamour model Jordan. Elsewhere, the website Chavscum is more likely to lay into `sluttish' young women than `thuggish' young men from council estates. The imagined sexual behaviour of working-class women seems to outrage the website's contributors more than, say, the supposed criminality of tattooed blokes in tracksuits.

So, it's perhaps not a great surprise that, in 2005, wannabe jihadists believed female revellers would be publicly acceptable murder targets because `nobody would believe these slags are innocent' (5); and last year, there was an alleged attempt to blow up a popular London nightclub on ladies' night. Rather alarmingly, Channel 4 appears to be in nodding agreement with such stupid and Jurassic ideas. Last month, the deeply risible show Make Me a Muslim drafted in a stern imam to try to mend the deviant and debauched ways of the secular volunteers. Top of the list was a homosexual man and, of course, a `sluttish' glamour model. Haven't these women got any - yawn - shame?

The idea that British women only act like Jodie Marsh in a pole-dancing club is barely a fiftieth of the real story. If girls are outstripping anything, it's the academic achievement of boys at schools and colleges. More women are in work with better-paid career prospects than ever before. As a consequence, they have far more choices over how they live, who they marry, if they want a divorce and, yes, how many men they have sex with. Women's equality has become so pervasive that it's barely even worth commenting on - except when clod-hopping old feminists believe that alcopop swiggin', boob-tubed young women have `gone too far'. It begs the question, though, how come women's equality is now a cause for concern rather than a cause for celebration?

Leaving aside residual misogynistic sentiments, it's clear that drunken women out on the pull have become oddly `symbolic' of moral decline. Such reactions are rooted in the fear and loathing that Western societies now have towards personal freedom in general. Until recently, women's primary role as domestic skivvies meant they were less free than men. Given Western society's uneasiness with individual freedom, women's greater freedom is seen as problematic, too - even by avowed feminists. Hence, this freedom has been reduced in the eyes of many commentators to the drunken antics of a pop star or the desire to shag a footballer.

In this context, sneering at fun-seeking women has become code for saying that society is out-of-control and the instillation of order and constraint is required forthwith. In The Fear of Freedom, social psychologist Erick Fromm argued that when modern societies go through periods of social insecurity, `a fear of freedom' accelerates amongst individuals, leading to a `fleeing from freedom' and a quest to find `security in an all-powerful leader' (clearly he wasn't thinking of Gordon Brown) (6). Demands for order and security, and the eagerness of governments and state authorities to provide these things, have certainly shaped political life in Britain for over a decade.

Recently, though, such security-seeking yearnings have gone a bit further. Sections of the liberal media even fantasise how an Islamic state might provide that `security in submission' that Fromm identified (appropriate as the literal translation of Islam is `submission'). When a demand to control personal behaviour becomes the defining cultural script, it's no surprise that women's greater individual freedom is denounced rather than celebrated. The fact that many feminists have been at the forefront of such moralising should be no surprise, either. After all, back in the early Eighties, it was feminists who first put the politics of individual behaviour on the political map. Prioritising the issues of domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment, as well as demands for `sexist' language to be curbed, feminists promoted the idea that individual men's behaviour was problematic and thus needed to be corrected by the state - an invitation that both Conservative and New Labour governments accepted.

Now, many of the radical feminists from the Eighties have simply reacted to changes in British society in exactly the same way as other members of the middle classes. By the early Nineties, the collapse of the postwar consensus, and the consequent weakening of the legitimacy of Britain's central institutions, contributed to a climate of uncertainty and insecurity in society. As social democratic welfarism appeared ineffectual in tackling social problems and disorder, the professional middle classes - including many feminists - felt particularly vulnerable because their professions seemed devalued. This sense of impotence, combined with a clear lack of consensus in society, led many middle-class radicals to become the most vociferous advocates of establishing order and stability.

The feminist Beatrix Campbell, for instance, argued in her 1993 book Goliath that the nuclear family - long identified by feminists as a bulwark of patriarchal oppression - should be promoted in order to restrain the atavistic behaviour of working-class men on council estates. More recently, the UK communities secretary Hazel Blears has looked to Muslim women and their `unique moral authority at the heart of the family' to turn Muslim men away from Islamic extremism (7). Once the quest for security became the defining motif of the middle classes, previous progressive touchstones such as equality, freedom and liberty were quickly jettisoned. Whereas apologists for capitalism once looked to working-class women in the family to lead men away from trade union action, now former radicals and Blairites look to women to make men `behave' more responsibly.

This is why the idea of young women getting drunk and getting laid has become so troubling for political commentators. First, such debauchery confirms their worst prejudices, namely that `too much freedom' leads inexorably to public order problems. Second, if the traditional pacifiers of `brute' men are also throwing up in city centres and f*cking for England, what hope do we have for regaining order and control throughout society?

When women's independence and greater equality is disgracefully condemned or becomes code for moral decline, it reveals, not how awful young women are becoming, but just how deeply entrenched the `fear of freedom' and `the flight from freedom' has become. Now that's what I call `horrifying'.


Bishop Adds His Own to the Voices Crying out Against Canada's Human Rights Tribunals

Canadian human rights laws that were intended to shield the public, "are now being used as a sword," says Calgary Catholic bishop, Fred Henry. Bishop Henry has added his voice to the chorus of voices, nationally and internationally, that are pointing to the deteriorating political and social situation in Canada as government-funded attacks on freedom of speech continue.

Bishop Henry wrote his comments in an e-mail to the Western Catholic Reporter, responding to the Human Rights Commission complaints against conservative columnist Mark Steyn and Maclean's Magazine and Catholic Insight magazine.

Maclean's, one of Canada's longest running and most respected news magazines, ran an excerpt of Mark Steyn's bestselling book America Alone, that outlined what Steyn calls the growing "Islamification" of Europe.

Bishop Henry's comments describe the "bizarre turn of events" that has ended with the Human Rights Commission being used by special interest groups such as the homosexual lobby, to stifle opposition and criticism. "The issue," Henry wrote, "is rarely true discrimination but rather censorship and enshrinement of a particular ideology through threats, sanctions and punitive measures."

In 2005, two complaints to the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC) against Henry for what was called "discriminatory" comments in a pastoral letter, were eventually dropped by the complainant. Henry had written about the Catholic doctrines on marriage and the nature of the family. "I challenged one by one the standard arguments used to support same sex unions as the equivalent of traditional marriage," Henry said. He described the Human Rights Commission process as "fundamentally flawed," and closely resembling "kangaroo courts."

Bishop Henry listed the HRC's legal flaws: "presumption of guilt until you can prove your innocence; the open-ended time lines for dealing with a complaint; and unjust incurring of financial expenditures for the defendant in the simple event of a complaint being lodged." In the HRC procedure, the complainant's expenses are absorbed by the tax payers but the defendant must pay his own costs.

The Steyn case is receiving increasing attention both within Canada and the US, where many are not aware of the existence of these extra-judicial courts. David Warren, a conservative columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, writing in December, described the procedure as heavily weighted in favour of the complainant: "After long delays that are costly only to the defendant and the taxpayer (and justice delayed is justice denied), you will have the satisfaction of making your enemy squirm, in a kangaroo court where he is stripped of the right to due process, in which there are no fixed rules of evidence, in which the ridiculously biased 'judges' make up the law as they go along, and impose penalties restricted only by their grimly limited imaginations -- such as ruinous fines, and lifetime `cease and desist' orders, such that, if you ever open your mouth again on a given topic, you stand to go to prison."

John Martin, a criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley, wrote yesterday in The Province newspaper, calling on the government to abolish the BC Human Rights Tribunals. He wrote that BC's Commission "had become an expensive farce dedicated to promoting political correctness and demonizing independent thinkers who didn't bow to liberal orthodoxy."

"And now the tribunal has entered its most shameful phase by agreeing to hear a complaint brought forward against Maclean's magazine...By agreeing to hear the case, the tribunal has positioned itself as the arbiter in charge of deciding what the Canadian media may publish and what the rest of us are permitted to read." "With our guard down, somehow we allowed them to assume the role of state censor and thought police. It is an abomination that a star chamber is allowed to function in this day and age."

So great are the threats from government against freedom of speech in Canada, that the website Free Dominion, a conservative news site and forum, announced that it had taken steps to protect the site from further attacks by "individuals and government organizations determined to attack freedom of speech." The site's owner, Mark Fournier, wrote this month, "Back in 2002 Connie and I made some decisions designed to protect Free Dominion and its members if the political climate worsened in Canada." The Fourniers transferred ownership of the website to a US corporation that sold Free Dominion to Liberty News Service Inc. of Panama City, Panama.

"Liberty News Service's corporate mission is to buy websites from individuals and corporations living in countries where free speech is under attack, and protect those websites from being shut down or seized by oppressive governments." In July 2007 a Human Rights complaint was launched against Free Dominion for posting material that was claimed to be discriminatory against Muslims.



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

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

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


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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bias against whites in British arts funding

By Jeremy Clarkson

Here in Chipping Norton, there is a picture-perfect little theatre. It's exactly the same as a London theatre, with a balcony and a bar, only it's much, much smaller. You really do feel, as you perch on your primary-school chair, gazing on the Punch and Judy stage, that you are locked in a Cotswold-stone dolls' house. It's an enchanting place and everyone round these parts is very proud of it. So consequently everyone is very cross that the Arts Council recently announced it would no longer be supplying 40,000 pounds a year to help fund it.

And Chipping Norton is not alone. Even though the Arts Council has just received a 50m income boost from the government, it has sent letters to 194 mostly provincial playhouses, galleries and so on, saying they no longer fit with its "agenda". "Hmmm," I wondered, "and what might this agenda be?" So I checked, and it seems that to get funding these days what you've got to be is black or mad or preferably both.

For instance, the Arts Council has recognised that there are very few people from ethnic minorities in senior positions in the arts, but instead of thinking: "Aha. This shows that very few black or Asian people are interested, so let's concentrate on the white middle classes", it has now become involved with several schemes to get inner-city kids out of their big training shoes and into an Othello suit.

There's more. The Arts Council has never offered to translate my books into Urdu. Or Jilly Cooper's. But it "remains committed" to spending a fortune supporting ethnic-minority writers. Indeed, it claims to have six priorities in place at the moment. And of course "celebrating diversity" is one of them. Not at all surprisingly, "celebrating Mrs Thatcher" isn't one of the others.

The council spends nearly half a billion pounds a year and, so far as I can tell, in 2007 most of that was given to Benjamin Zephaniah and others in exchange for some ditties about how awful the slave trade was and how everyone in Britain ought to commit suicide.

But wait. What's this? It seems there was some money left over to send a bunch of kids from Calderdale to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is a field full of what look like big bronze sheep droppings. It's not my cup of tea but no matter - the droppings were sculpted by Henry Moore, so that sounds fine. Sadly no. Because afterwards the kids were taught about rap music and how to graffiti a wall. That has absolutely nothing to do with the arts at all. It'd be like teaching kung fu at a flower-arranging class.

Here on the Chipping Norton arts scene things are rather different. Plans for 2008 include a play about space travel, devised by Niki McCretton, who I'm afraid is white. Then there's a tribute to Abba, who were a very popular Swedish pop group featuring no disabled Bangladeshis, and a talk by Arabella Weir, who is the daughter of a notable diplomat.

There are films too. But none, so far as I can see, is Brick Lane or that tosh from Al Gore. And then of course there's the Christmas pantomime. Much loved by Douglas Hurd, who never misses it, and 7,000 children, all called Henry and Araminta, it's a professional show featuring traditional storylines at this Christian time of year. You can see immediately why none of this fits in with the Arts Council's "agenda". And I'm afraid the concert planned for next Saturday doesn't work either. Yes, the pianist, Helene Tysman, is foreign, which is good, but I'm afraid she's only French. And that's hopeless because they had an empire too, the bastards.

What the management should be doing to maintain its grip on the Arts Council's funding is hosting a celebration of haiku poetry, in silence, by the Al Gore polar-bear workers' collective. Of course nobody would come, but hey - serving the needs of the area? Since when did that ever matter?

It does, and that's why I'd like to conclude with some words of encouragement for the management of Chipping Norton theatre and the other organisations around the country that don't fit in with the Arts Council's taste. It is extremely likely that you will be better off without the council's 40 grand a year. Because tied up in this rather small chalice is a ton of poisonous red tape demarcating what you can do, what you can say and how many ramps have to be fitted at each urinal. You can wave goodbye to all that BBC-regional-news-tick-the-ethnic-boxes nonsense when you replace the lunatics at the Arts Council with a set of different benefactors.

I know this because just last week I spent some time with some chap from a notable charity. Each year, it needs 4million pounds to stay afloat, and none comes from the government. "Trust me," he said. "We don't want even 4p of their money. It's always more trouble than it's worth."

Or you can look at the Millennium Dome. When it was run by the government the dome was full of faith zones and Cherie Blair, celebrating diversity. And it was a disaster. Now it's in private hands it's full of Led Zeppelin and recently became recognised as the most popular concert venue in the world.


Ambivalence about science or abuse of science?

Scientists at one of Rome's most prestigious universities, La Sapienza, are protesting against a planned visit by Pope Benedict XVI this Thursday. The Pope is due officially to open the university's academic year, but some of the professors of science at the university are not happy. In a letter to the university's rector, 67 lecturers and professors said it would be `incongruous' for the Pope to visit given his earlier comments on Galileo; while he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Pope said that the Catholic Church's trial of the great Italian astronomer was `reasonable and just'. So, university staff want to block a visit by a religious leader in the name of defending scientific truth and integrity.

This is a striking story: today, it frequently seems as if scientific authority is replacing religious and moral authority, and in the process being transformed into a dogma. At first sight, it appears that science has the last word on all the important questions of our time. Science is no longer confined to the laboratory. Parents are advised to adopt this or that child-rearing technique on the grounds that `the research' has shown what is best for kids. Scientific studies are frequently used to instruct people on how to conduct their relationships and family life, and on what food they should eat, how much alcohol they should drink, how frequently they can expose their skin to the sun, and even how they should have sex. Virtually every aspect of human life is discussed in scientific terms, and justified with reference to a piece of research or by appealing to the judgment of experts.

Of course, as in the past, science still invites criticism and scepticism. Indeed, its authority is continually scrutinised and subjected to a deeply moralistic anti-scientific critique. Scientific experimentation and innovation - for example, in the areas of stem cell research, cloning and genetic modification - are stigmatised as `immoral' and `dangerous'. Moreover, many wonder if there are hidden agendas or interests behind scientific studies, especially those that are used to justify moral or political campaigns. Many people understand that last year's scientific advice is often contradicted by new findings further down the line. Others are anxious about the rapid pace of scientific advance: they worry about the potential for destruction that might be unleashed by developments in genetic manipulation or nanotechnology.

Many greens blame science and technology for contributing to environmental degradation and to global warming. Indeed, one of the puzzling features of our time is this: the relentless expansion of the authority of science is paralleled by a sense of distrust about science. Anyone old enough to recall the public's enthusiasm for scientific breakthroughs in the 1950s and 60s will be struck by the more begrudging and even fearful acceptance of science today. The attitude of Western society towards science is intensely contradictory. In the absence of political vision and direction, society continually hides behind scientific authority - but at the same time it does not quite believe that science has the answers, and it worries about the potential rotten fruits of scientific discovery.

Yet whatever misgivings people have about science, its authority is unrivalled in the current period. The formidable influence of scientific authority can be seen in the way that environmentalists now rely on science to back up their arguments. Not long ago, in the 1970s and 80s, leading environmentalists insisted that science was undemocratic, that it was responsible for many of the problems facing the planet. Now, in public at least, their hostility towards science has given way to their embrace and endorsement of science.

Today, the environmental lobby depends on the legitimation provided by scientific evidence and expertise. In their public performances, environmentalists frequently use the science in a dogmatic fashion. `The scientists have spoken', says one British-based campaign group, in an updated version of the religious phrase: `This is the Word of the Lord.' `This is what the science says we must do', many greens claim, before adding that the debate about global warming is `finished'. This week, David King, the former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, caused a stink by criticising extreme green `Luddites' who are `hurting' the environmentalist cause. Yet when science is politicised, as it has been under the likes of King, who once claimed that `the science shows' that global warming is a bigger threat than terrorism, then it can quite quickly and inexorably be converted into dogma, superstition and prejudice (1). It is the broader politicisation of science that nurtures today's dogmatic green outlook.

Today, religion and political ideologies no longer inspire significant sections of the public. Politicians find it difficult to justify their work and outlook in the vocabulary of morality. In the Anglo-American world, officials now promote policies on the grounds that they are `evidence based' rather than because they are `right' or `good'. In policymaking circles, the language of `right' and `wrong' has been displaced by the phrase: `The research shows.'

Moral judgments are often edged out even from the most sensitive areas of life. For example, experts use the language of medicine rather than morality to tell young teenagers that having sex is not so much `bad' as bad for their emotional health. So pervasive is the crisis of belief and morality that even religious institutions are affected by it. Fundamentalists no longer simply rely on Biblical texts to affirm their belief in the Creation; today, the invention of `creation science' by Christian fundamentalists in the US is symptomatic of the trend to supplement traditional belief with scientific authority.

Likewise, the anti-abortion movement no longer restricts itself to morally denouncing a medical procedure which they consider to be evil. Now they increasingly rely on scientific and technical expertise to advance their cause. They argue that having an abortion is bad for a woman's health and is likely to cause post-abortion trauma. The question `when does life begin?' was once a moral issue, bound up in competing views of morality, rights and human consciousness. Today anti-abortion activists appeal to medical research and use a narrowly scientific definition of `when life begins': they argue that because `the evidence' shows that fetuses can survive at 24 weeks, then this demonstrates the unquestionable beginning to life (2).

Despite its formidable intellectual powers, science can only provide a provisional solution to the contemporary crisis of belief. Historically, science emerged through a struggle with religious dogma. A belief in the power of science to discover how the world works should not be taken to mean that science itself is a belief. On the contrary, science depends on an open-ended orientation towards experimentation and the testing of ideas. Indeed, science is an inherently sceptical enterprise, since it respects no authority other than evidence. As Thomas Henry Huxley once declared: `The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority as such.' `[S]cepticism is the highest of duties', said Huxley; `blind faith the unpardonable sin'. That is why Britain's oldest and most respectable scientific institution, the Royal Society, was founded on the motto: `On the word of no one.' The message conveyed in this motto is clear: knowledge about the material world should be based on evidence rather than authority.

The critical spirit embodied in that motto is frequently violated today by the growing tendency to treat science as a belief that provides an unquestionable account of the Truth. Indeed, it is striking that the Royal Society recently dropped the phrase `On the word of no one' from its website, while its former president, Lord May, prefers to use the motto `Respect the facts' these days (see The Royal Society's motto-morphosis, by Ben Pile and Stuart Blackman). Many religious leaders, politicians and environmentalists have little interest in engaging in the voyage of discovery through scientific experimentation. Instead they often appear to be in the business of politicising science, or more accurately, moralising it. For example, Al Gore has claimed that scientific evidence offers (inconvenient) Truths.

Such science has more in common with the art of divination than the process of experimentation. That is why science is said to have a fixed and unyielding, and thus unquestionable, quality. Frequently, Gore and others will prefix the term science with the definite article, `the'. So Sir David Read, vice-president of the Royal Society, recently said: `The science very clearly points towards the need for us all - nations, businesses and individuals - to do as much as possible, as soon as possible, to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.' Unlike `science', this new term - `The Science' - is a deeply moralised and politicised category. Today, those who claim to wield the authority of The Science are really demanding unquestioning submission.

The slippage between a scientific fact and moral exhortation is accomplished with remarkable ease in a world where people lack the confidence to speak in the language of right and wrong. But turning science into an arbiter of policy and behaviour only serves to confuse matters. Science can provide facts about the way the world works, but it cannot say very much about what it all means and what we should do about it. Yes, the search for truth requires scientific experimentation and the discovery of new facts; but it also demands answers about the meaning of those facts, and those answers can only be clarified through moral, philosophical investigation and debate.

If science is turned into a moralising project, its ability to develop human knowledge will be compromised. It will also distract people from developing a properly moral understanding of the problems that face humanity in the twenty-first century. Those who insist on treating science as a new form of revealed truth should remember Pascal's words: `We know the truth, not only by reason, but also by the heart.'


Democrat race stung by political correctness

A view from Australia

HILAROUSLY, the frontrunners for the US Democrats presidential candidacy - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - are now enmeshed in a web of political correctness spun by their party's reliance on race and gender politics for much of its popular appeal. While gender and race have been overlooked by countries such as India, Pakistan and Israel [and Britain, and Argentina, and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh] to deliver democratically-elected women leaders, the US Democrats, like the Australian Labor Party, is still insistent that gender matters. The problem for the Democrats now lies in determining whether female sexual identity trumps Afro-American identity.

Few Americans would have any argument about Hillary Rodham Clinton's sexual identity. It has been explored in minute detail since husband Bill was revealed to have either seduced or been seduced by White House intern Monica Lewinsky, though he had a lot of difficulty finding a definition of the particular sexual act they enjoyed in his office.

Interestingly, few feminists spoke out against the exploitation of a young woman by a man who, clearly, was both her employer and also possibly the most powerful individual on the globe at the time. If any other person but a Democratic president had been caught in such a situation, the sisterhood would still be screaming "Exploitation!"

But Bill, yet another politician who has enjoyed the beguiling charm and company of the New York Post's Australian-born Editor-in-Chief Col Allan, albeit around some of the world's best golf courses rather than in topless-bottomless nightclubs as did now Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, was never the target of the Meredith Burgmann's of the world [i.e. was not ridiculed as a sexist] -- despite his reputation as a difficult dog to keep on the porch. It's unlikely he was given a pass because he was too easy a target. He was never a target because he paid lip service to all the feminist dogma they could serve up -- in fact, all the remotely Left-of-centre dogma anyone wished endorsed.

The problem for Obama's supporters now is that Bill Clinton was also endorsed by every black group in the US, and was frequently admiringly referred to as "the first black US president" -- so strongly did he identify with the black leadership, particularly the black Christian leadership, despite his penchant for wandering from the straight and narrow.

As gender and race politics are now so 1960s, it is only the un-hippest of candidates who would make any reference to them, and Hillary Clinton and Obama are stumbling over themselves to pointedly explain to their audiences that they are actually not courting the female vote (Clinton) or the black vote (Obama) but are candidates for all Democrats. This, like most Democrat policies, is another case of fine in theory, ludicrous in practice, and is just not working.

Not only did Hillary manage to make monkeys out of the pollsters by coming from behind in New Hampshire to out poll Obama, all the exit polls showed it was the women's vote which carried the day. Similarly, all the speculation about the votes in the Southern states centres on Obama's ability to woo black voters from the Clinton camp. Not that it is that simple. Questions have been asked about how "black" Obama actually is, as "black" is not just a colour in the race game, but also code for being a descendant of the Africans sold into slavery by members of warring tribes or Arab dealers on the Dark Continent.

Obama, the son of a black Kenyan and a white American, is not considered to meet the test to qualify as an authentic "black" heir to the African-American experience by some of those who have most fiercely been demanding reparations for the slavery their forebears suffered. Not that any of them are suggesting they will move back to those areas of Africa their antecedents came from, nor that the descendants of those who villainously sold their ancestors into slavery should be responsible for coughing up any compensation now.

Obama has also run into a few problems with the fact that it is indisputable that he was described as a Muslim when he attended school in Indonesia when his mother lived there with her second husband, and that the young Obama is also remembered as attending the local mosque with his step-father. Now a member of a Christian congregation, he would be regarded as an apostate by strict Muslims, but this is an issue that no religious leaders are overly keen on pursuing at this stage in his candidacy.

Nor is he enthusiastic about talking-up his Kenyan heritage, given the state of the tribal war that is currently raging in his ancestral land and the fact that many Kenyans seem to be of the belief that, should Obama actually become president of the US, all Kenyans will be entitled to US citizenship and the benefits that would flow from that status.

All of which makes the race for the Republican nomination fairly clear cut at this stage, with war hero and former Vietnam prisoner-of-war John McCain looking good for the nomination. He may not be a woman, he may not be black, but he has more experience than either Democrat and he isn't mired in idiotic political correctness.


Bumper-sticker righteousness

A cheap claim of virtue and wisdom

I HAVE this visceral dislike of bumper-sticker moralisers. These are people who go out of their way to advertise what they take to be their own exalted moral sensibilities, but do so at no cost to themselves and without the messy business of having to weigh costs and benefits or to choose between stark alternatives where none is particularly pleasant or easy. It's all form and no substance for these people, and there's no shortage of them around.

Take those who plaster "Save the Whales" stickers on the back of their cars but miss the irony that it's an upmarket Toyota to which they're attaching the thing. Saving the whales is great in principle, but not if it involves forgoing an expensive new Lexus. Far better to bring a lawsuit that has no chance of being enforced.

Or what about many of those who announce that we should "Save Darfur"? Nowhere do they tell us how this is supposed to be accomplished. Through the UN, perhaps? But that organisation is famously hostage to the vetoes of the five Security Council members. It is an organisation that is congenitally unable to stop anything, be it slaughter in Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Burma or ... well, you get the idea.

Indeed the only remotely plausible way to stop massacres in Darfur, and indeed just about anywhere else on the planet, is for the US to do something militarily, as it did in Bosnia and Serbia under Bill Clinton (when the Yanks bombed and bombed and bombed some more, all without the imprimatur of the UN, for the information of those who punctiliously assert that only UN-authorised actions are acceptable). But, of course, most people who put "Save Darfur" stickers on their cars would be horrified at the prospect of US military action.

What they mean is that saving Darfur, in the abstract, as a general notion, as some warm, fuzzy abstraction, is a jolly fine idea. So count them in. But if it were to require making unpalatable choices - killing people, propping up the least bad alternatives and so on - well, then stop right there. This is about feeling good about oneself and showing that one cares.

Signing or ratifying the Kyoto Protocol strikes me as comparable. For many it's all about feeling good about themselves, not about looking to see what works, what is possible, how to balance economic growth and people's adaptability against achieving worldwide reductions. My criticism is much deeper than the well-known fact that Al Gore's Tennessee mansion wolfs down 20 times more electricity than the average American household. Sure, hypocrisy is never all that hard to find. But the more important criticism has to do with whether Kyoto has the slightest prospect of being successful.

A study on the website American Thinker claims that in the seven years between the signing of Kyoto in 1997 and 2004, carbon emissions from countries that signed the treaty rose 21per cent, while among non-signers they rose 10per cent. And Australia, until recently a non-signatory, had a slower increase than Canada, a loud, vocal and proselytising signatory. If that's correct, then what exactly is the benefit of Kyoto? I mean that question seriously, not rhetorically. What good has come from Australia signing up to the thing? (I'm assuming we didn't do it in order to allow ourselves to pump out even more carbon with the other signatories.)

Has anyone else noticed that as soon as the Rudd Government ratified Kyoto and advertised its good intentions, all the heat (if you'll pardon the expression) went out of the issue. It's as though one has only somehow to signal one's on the side of the angels - or at least willing to talk the talk - and that's that. But even a moment's thought is enough to make it clear that whatever the extent of the global warming problem, it is most definitely that: global. And China and India have made their positions clear. (I would say they are defensible positions, too.) They want economic growth. They want to alleviate poverty. If that means 2C or 3C more by the year 2100, so be it.

And both those giant developing countries well know that the West became rich because of cheap energy. Now it's their turn. The gap between their view of what will amount to a fair sharing of the burden of cutting greenhouse gases and the view of the European Union, to say nothing of the US, is so wide, it takes someone wholly divorced from reality to see any prospect of the divide being bridged. As one well-known commentator remarked, "The Kyoto approach is dead and buried." The same person also pointed out the practical flaws in carbon emissions trading schemes.

If you are serious about cutting carbon dioxide emissions, you need to make them more expensive. So you can tax them or you can create a system to ration such emissions. Alas, rationing schemes not only discriminate against new entrants and provide rent-seeking opportunities to those operating the system, they don't really work. We don't set up a complicated alcohol or tobacco rationing system with tradable rights to drink or smoke. We tax these products. The EU carbon trading scheme hasn't worked and won't work. It's more of the form-over-substance charade.

You see, if you approached the problem in terms of taxing carbon dioxide, it would become too obvious just how high the costs would be of achieving a 70 per cent reduction (or even half of that). One can't help noticing that despite endless rock concerts, declarations and meetings of the great and the good, very little in practice has been done and global emissions continue to rise.

Meanwhile, the one obvious, clearly beneficial policy that we could adopt in Australia, namely to build nuclear power stations, dare not speak its name in polite Labor circles. This Government won't even sell uranium to India, even though nuclear power is the only remotely plausible way that enormous country will slow the increase of its emissions.

You see, it doesn't matter that India is a democracy, a huge and successful democracy. It hasn't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, old boy. And rather than weigh the costs and benefits of what to do and then make a hard call, we're going with the bumper-sticker brigade on this one.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Leftist hatred on display

By Bill O'Reilly

There is a chance that before this presidential election year is over, somebody is going to get hurt. Knowing that partisan hostility is boiling over in America, the Secret Service is tense because the candidates are exposed when they campaign in public. Hatred is definitely in the air, and the media is partially to blame.

The enormous success of the Fox News Channel has created a bitterness unprecedented in the American press. CNN has been dethroned as the cable news leader and NBC News, which runs two cable outlets, is far behind both Fox News and CNN in the ratings. Some estimates have Fox News making six times as much money as MSNBC. General Electric, which owns NBC, has seen its stock price remain stagnant for the past six years, a humbling fact for the corporate giant.

And then there is ideology. Traditionally, the so-called mainstream media has leaned left. Retired anchormen like Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw now openly discuss their liberal beliefs, and former CBS commentator Bill Moyers is a flat-out far-left zealot.

So it comes as no surprise that Fox News, which gives equal time to conservative thought, is despised by many in the liberal press. Not surprisingly, that hostility has now carried over into the political arena.

Last spring, the Democratic presidential candidates informed the public they would not participate in a debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and Fox News. People like John Edwards and Governor Bill Richardson, who had frequently appeared on FNC and were treated well, suddenly informed the nation that the network was unfair and unbalanced. This blatant falsehood was stunning.

The reason the Democratic candidates boycotted Fox News was that the far-left Internet crazies told them to do it. Websites like the Daily Kos and Media Matters, which spit out anti-conservative hatred everyday, made it clear to the Democrats that anyone dealing with Fox would be punished. The creepy radical-left organization MoveOn.org, which raises serious money for liberal candidates, seconded the motion.

It is worth noting that the Republican presidential candidates have not played that game, appearing on ultra-liberal MSNBC and every other news network.

Anyway, I saw the anti-Fox hatred firsthand when I traveled to New Hampshire last week. Fox News vehicles have been vandalized, FNC correspondents cursed, and all Fox News personnel are cautious. Although the far-left nuts are generally the problem, some supporters of Congressman Ron Paul are also out of control.

At a campaign rally for Barack Obama, one of his staffers attempted to block a Fox News camera from photographing the Senator. This was a blatant assault on press freedom, and I had to remove the man from in front of the camera. You may have seen the pictures on TV. In the subsequent coverage of the story, not one media outlet criticized the Obama staffer-not one. Had he interfered with a CBS News crew, I believe the story would have been reported quite differently.

Senator Obama has been respectful to Fox News and the incident was not his fault. But the Senator and all the Democratic candidates should understand the unhealthy climate some of their supporters have created, and they should do everything they can to discourage this kind of garbage.

And here's the kicker: A recent study by George Mason University about the campaign thus far named one network which has been the fairest to all the candidates... Fox News.


A reader who drew my attention to the above column writes:

Before reading O'Reilly's short column, note that Tuesday while my friend and I were crossing the street in downtown Manchester, there was a group of young people holding political signs (don't recall whether it was Hillary or Obama) at the other side of the street. When we crossed and came near them, one said to us quite audibly in an ugly tone, "Fascists!" Our sin in their eyes? Well I'm not positive, but my friend was wearing a sports coat. Other than that, I can't place exactly what it might have been about us that might have brought forth this uncalled for outburst.

Leftists appear uncomfortable dealing with issues using thought, logic, facts and debate but rather prefer to strike out. My friend and I probably could have kicked their asses, but we just continued on our way.

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Bob Parks

As usual, Martin Luther King's birthday, liberals have distorted thus his message, in order to justify their ownership of his legacy. Let me be frank to the left in America: slavery is over. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., doesn't belong to you. His words are his, and when you shape those words to fit your agenda, you're showing the disrespect expected but which will not go unanswered.

Last year, during a morning assembly in a Massachusetts school, kids obviously reciting the sentiments of their teachers claimed that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was for, among other things, gay marriage. A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Alveda King, Martin Luther King's niece, who lived through the civil rights movement with her uncle. She understands him more than those who wish to usurp his message for their own agenda.

She once said, "If he would have championed gay rights today, he would have done it while he was here. There was ample opportunity for him to champion gay rights during his lifetime, and he did not do so. His daughter, Elder Bernice King has been recorded as saying, "I know in my sanctified soul that he did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage."

There are some other facts that must be taken into account. Now while some assume Dr. King must have been some kind of Marxist, the last time he registered under a party umbrella, Martin Luther King Jr. registered as a Republican, as were his parents.

Some speculate if Dr. King were alive today, he'd be vilified as an Uncle Tom for not supporting, among other things, Affirmative Action. If you remember, Dr. King wanted all people judged, not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. That means if you want to get a job, you need to be qualified for that job. That means going to school to get educated. Getting an education is not "acting white" but preparing oneself for a productive future.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not a liberal. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message was one of hope and optimism. His message was clear and doesn't need some radical misinterpretation to justify liberal activity. Leave his words as he delivered them. He doesn't belong to anyone. Celebrate the man as he was, and judge him on the content of his character, just like everyone else


The waning influence of the '60s -- A comment from Australia

I think that the article below makes some interesting points but I also think that it considerably overstates the importance of generational effects. Ordinary people got on with their lives much as before during the '60s, regardless of the bees in the bonnets of the intellectual lightweights who thought they were so wise. The State where I live (Queensland) was run in the early '60s by the very conservative "honest Frank" Nicklin and only ill health caused him to retire. He had no trouble winning elections.

In 1968 he was succeeded by another member of his conservative party -- a determined squasher of disorderly student protests, Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen -- and Sir Joh got big approval ratings for his very conservative policies -- ending up running Queensland for nearly 20 years. In 1974, he gained a remarkable 59% (actually 58.97%)of the popular vote -- just a tiny touch above what Ronald Reagan got (58.8%) in 1984. In a Western democracy, those percentages spell "landslide" -- and the landslides concerned were for very conservative candidates.

One is left to argue that the educated elite were much more affected by the '60s and that their role in running things amplifies the effect of the '60s. That may be true to some degree but to get to rule anywhere they still had to be voted into office by ordinary people so it still comes back mainly to how the views of ordinary people vary from generation to generation

One of the interesting and important things about our new Prime Minister, culturally as opposed to politically, is that he is our first post-baby boomer leader. Technically he may have been born at the very end of the boomer cohort, but he is in no sense a child of the 1960s. During the pivotal year of 1968 -- the year of the Paris student riots, the Tet offensive in Vietnam, the Cultural Revolution in China, the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the US, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia - Rudd was still in primary school.

Even if you regard the '60s as finishing in Australia at the end of 1975, Rudd escapes them. He was still at high school. At university he was not a radical activist but a Christian activist and a nerdy, hard studying student.

Perversely, it was the post-baby boomer generation that John Howard always thought he stood a good chance of winning, whereas the baby boomers were permanently sour on a conservative such as him. We have all been influenced by the '60s, of course, but the hard-core baby boomers got the most direct radiation damage.

Culturally, the '60s were very toxic. I have always felt about them much as W. H. Auden felt about the '30s:

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade.

The '30s bore some resemblance to the '60s in that substantial numbers of intellectuals defected from the Western tradition and threw their lot in with the extremist and mad ideology of Marxism. In the '60s, many repeated exactly this error, but many also embraced a far wider series of cultural disorders than just Marxism.

But the contrast between the '30s and the '60s is more instructive than the similarity. The '30s, for all their treachery, produced some genuinely great art. Think of the writers you associate with the decade: Graham Greene, George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell. These were genuinely great artists. Now name me a similar list from the '60s. You can't. Very little work of any artistic consequence emerged from the '60s. Instead it was a decade of destruction and nihilism, of self-regard so intemperate and unqualified that it tore art apart, as it tore apart most cultural values.

The very worst of the '60s occurred on Western campuses, which became scenes of violence, riots and intolerance. The key idea of the '60s was to abandon all restraint. Very few of the decade's gurus had the intellectual courage to think through what the abandonment of restraint really means. It means, in the end, the pure glorification of power.

For civilisation is all about restraint. So, too, is art. Sometimes a conservative period can be followed by a creative liberalising reaction. This is really what happened when the liberal Edwardians succeeded the conservative Victorians. That is partly why Edwardian literature and art, and the literature and art from just after that period, remain so attractive. They were created by people who were rebelling against a previously conservative period, but their rebellion was a restrained rebellion, both in method and intent. It did not imply the abandonment of restraints altogether, or of standards.

In Australia, certainly, the '60s do not stand in relation to the '50s as the Edwardian period stands in relation to the Victorian. For a start, the '50s were a period of incredible creative energy in Australia -- Patrick White, C. J. Koch, Hal Porter, Randolph Stow, Morris West, John O'Grady all began publishing in the '50s. Martin Boyd published three of the four novels in his magnificent Langton tetralogy then. Quadrant, the most cosmopolitan and sophisticated small magazine in Australian history, was born in the '50s.

When baby boomer activists of the '60s say how boring and provincial Australia was in the '50s, they are either saying that they did not know Australia very well in the '50s or simply that they themselves were boring and provincial.

The radical '60s, as they played out in Australia, were completely derivative of the US, a pale imitation of radical chic from New York and San Francisco. Even in the U.S., the '50s are being much re-evaluated, not least through David Halberstam's fascinating book on the subject a few years ago.

Of course, there were elements of the '50s that were objectionable, in Australia as in the US, especially the greater tolerance of racism. But the characteristic response of the '60s was not problem-solving. Instead it was a wholesale rejection of everything that Western culture had consisted of until that point. There was an authentically Orwellian inversion of language and meaning. Marriage was patriarchal oppression. Hallucinogenic drugs were a path to higher consciousness. Sexual exploitation was freedom. Liberal politicians were fascists. Communist totalitarians were liberators.

And for most of the leaders, and many of the practitioners, of '60s culture, the whole universe became entirely self-centred. The only thing that counted was "authentic" experience. There was no such thing as truth, the only question was whether it was true for you. Standards of any kind were regarded as oppressive, academic standards most of all. It is not overstating things to say there was a kind of madness abroad in the culture in those days, not a whimsical eccentricity but a wilful, self-indulgent, nihilistic and destructive madness.

Much that is wrong with our culture today --- especially the hatred of the Western tradition among many intellectuals and the self-obsessive, critical sterility of much academic theory -- comes directly from that time. One of the qualities most hated under the '60s ethos was sound and orderly process. Thus if you had a grievance at university, real or imagined, you didn't pursue it in the normal way, you smashed in the vice-chancellor's office.

An insistence on good process is an inherently conservative virtue. It is telling that Kevin Rudd has promoted himself so much as a politician of good process. His promise during the campaign of so many inquiries and reviews and panels and commissions can be lampooned or criticised as ineffective. But it can also be seen as the promise of sound, perhaps exhaustive, process to deliver sound policy.

This is merely one of the ways in which Rudd shows himself to be alien to the spirit of the '60s, which was above all a desperately impatient and intemperate spirit. That Rudd is so much the polar opposite of that spirit, even emphasising his conventional religion as opposed to the militant and intolerant secularism of the '60s ethos, is, literally, a blessing. The '60s are dead at last. Let's dance on their rotten grave.

The article above by GREG SHERIDAN appeared in the "The Australian" on January 19, 2008. See also Australian Politics

A Catholic cardinal who hates devout Catholics

A British cardinal, of course

It has been a busy Advent and Christmas season for the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. He has, in a space of a few months, outraged, shocked and disgusted a surprisingly broad cross section of his flock. Polish immigrants, noted for the vibrancy of their Catholic faith; Catholic pro-lifers who have held the line for decades in the fight with little help from the hierarchy; and Catholic traditionalists who have spent decades living in near-exile from their own Church, have felt the back of Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's hand recently.

He started the season early with his official rejection in November of Pope Benedict's document removing the power of bishops to block the celebration of the pre-Vatican II rite of the Mass, an issue that has broad connections to acceptance of Catholic doctrine in a variety of areas, including moral issues.

Traditionalist Catholics are almost universally pro-life and pro-family, whereas many of those who have actively fought against the re-instatement of the ancient liturgical practices have also consistently championed a "progressive" Catholicism that rejects the moral law, particularly in sexual morality.

By the end of December, a week after his Christmas homily in which he urged Britons to be more accepting of immigrants, Murphy O'Connor had blasted Polish immigrants who are pouring into Britain in search of work.

In a homily, the Cardinal who heads the Catholic Church of England and Wales, urged the Polish community to learn English and integrate into local parishes. He claimed the Catholic Church in the UK was in danger of dividing along ethnic lines. The comments shocked both the Polish Catholic community and Catholic observers who have seen the influx of devout Poles as a desperately needed boost to sagging attendance and the increasingly grim outlook for the future of the Catholic Church in this country.

With photos appearing in the Telegraph of Poles kneeling devoutly on the sidewalk to hear Mass broadcast outside an overcrowded church, it is perhaps unsurprising that Polish leaders responded to the Cardinal's comments saying they felt "violated" and "spiritually raped". The comments made many Catholic commentators wonder aloud just what kind of Catholic immigrant the Cardinal would prefer.

But Britain learned just before Christmas what kind of Catholic their Cardinal does think is suitable. His real coup de grace, and perhaps his largest insult to the most faithful Catholics in the country, came at his unconditional reception into the Church of the man SPUC head John Smeaton identified as the major "architect of the Culture of Death" in this country: Tony Blair.

Cardinal O'Connor received Blair in a "private" ceremony in the Cardinal's own residential chapel. Neither the Cardinal's office, nor Blair's offered any explanation or retraction of the former Prime Minister's long record of anti-Catholic and anti-life policies.

To add insult to injury, an unnamed "Church source" presumed to be close to the Cardinal's office, had even chastised critics in the Daily Mail for daring to question the Cardinal's Christmas-week generosity. The Mail's source said, "Whatever he previously believed or did is a matter for individual conscience."

But the pro-life community, particularly its Catholic contingent, are so wearied by the decades of flaccidity, compromising and temporising and outright irreligion of its religious leadership, it hardly bothered to give a collective sigh of disgust. Among the pro-life Catholics of my acquaintance, the response was largely a quick shake of the head and a sickened laugh. In Britain's Catholic Church this latest outrage from its leadership was nothing more than business as usual.

At the same time, the odd news that Catholic attendance at weekly church services had, for the first time since the Reformation, outstripped that of Anglicans brought forward headlines like "Britain has become a 'Catholic country'" from the Telegraph. But the notion brought only sour and grim amusement to many British Catholic bloggers who have faithfully chronicled the growth of secularist anti-Christian hostility in British society, heavily abetted by the BBC's virtual monopoly on broadcast media. Despite the wild suppositions in the mainstream media, those who have been keeping track know that the news reflected only the continuing general collapse of British religious adherence.

The truth is simply that the native British have abandoned Christianity. It is easy to see what has alarmed Cardinal Cormac. The Poles are, quite simply, making him, and the Church he leads, look bad.

The robust, generous and stalwart faith of these people, tested through generations of brutal Communist suppression, has given them an ability to see through the fog of nonsense that has emanated out of British chanceries since the 1960's. And the Cardinal knows it. It is clear that the divide between the faith of the Poles and the dreary, watery, and half-hearted British Catholicism, content to allow the last dregs of its faith and devotion slowly to evaporate, is greater than one of language.

It is evident that whatever the Catholic leadership of this country has been doing for the last four decades, it has not been a boon to British Catholic faith or practice. If Cormac Murphy O'Connor is aware of the condition of his Church, he has chosen an odd way of expressing his concern by chastising the new Polish faithful for their very faithfulness.

Maybe the Cardinal should try a different tack, and take his own advice and accept the contribution of these people.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Truth about risks of homosexuality must not be mentioned

On Monday, a team of researchers led by doctors from the University of California at San Francisco announced that gay men were "many times more likely than others" to acquire a new strain of drug-resistant staphylococcus, a nasty, fast-spreading and potential lethal bacteria known as MRSA USA300. And sure enough, the study, published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was quickly picked up by reporters round the world and across the Internet, including a London tabloid which dubbed the disease "the new H.I.V."

But for gay men in the Castro neighborhood here, which was an early epicenter for the AIDS epidemic and a current hot spot for MRSA, the report also seemed to cast an unfair, and all too familiar, stigma on their sexuality. "The way they keep targeting gays as if gays alone are responsible for it, its like H.I.V./AIDS all over again," said Colin Thurlow, 60, who is gay and lives in San Francisco. "And we're sick and tired of it."

The report also inadvertently offered ammunition for many antigay groups, including the conservative Concerned Women for America, which issued a release on Wednesday citing the "sexual deviancy" of gay men as leading to AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea. "The medical community has known for years that homosexual conduct, especially among males, creates a breeding ground for often deadly disease," the release read. Another group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, also cited the report as a way of proving that "homosexual behavior is unhealthy." "Why aren't all schoolchildren being taught that there are special health risks associated with homosexual behavior and that they should `just say no' to homosexuality?" read a released posted on the group's Web site.

National gay rights groups were quick to label such talk as "hysteria," even as researchers as the university scrambled to clarify their findings. On Friday, it issued an apology, saying their release had "contained some information that could be interpreted as misleading." "We deplore negative targeting of specific populations in association with MRSA infections or other public health concerns," it concluded. Dr. Henry Chambers, one of the report's authors and a professor of medicine at the university, said he was surprised by how the report had been spun. "I think we were looking at this from a scientific point of view and not projecting any political impact," he said. "We were focusing on the data. You want to make sure it's as right as possible and written up in a form that reviewers would understand what you're trying to say, and do it in a clear manner so it's not subject to misinterpretation. Which is what happened later, it appears."

One of the major sore points for some critics was a quote attributed to the report's lead author, Bien Diep, a researcher who said he was concerned about "a potential spread of this strain into the general population." Mr. Diep, 29, said on Friday he regretted not being more thorough in communicating his research to reporters. He said that the term "general population" was part of medical jargon used in the report, which did not translate well. "It's really meant to be used to mean all inclusive, including the men-who-have-sex-with-men population," he said.

Worries about the negative press resonated even as some gay men here expressed concern about the disease itself. The report looked at nine San Francisco hospitals in 2004 and 2005. A separate part of the study, conducted at an AIDS clinic in the city from 2004 to 2006, found that gay men were 13 times more likely to be infected with MRSA USA300.

Josh Figurido, 27, a bartender at Metro, a popular gay bar in the Castro, said he had only heard about the strain this week, but was already taking precautions when it came to sex. "I'm definitely going to be a lot more careful with what goes on," he said. But Mr. Figurado said he was less concerned about antigay rhetoric. "It's not just gay people that get it," he said. "You can get it anywhere."

Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which helped finance the study, affirmed on Wednesday that the disease was not sexually transmitted or limited to a certain type of person. It is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, the agency said in a statement, and is widespread in hospitals and among hospital workers. "These infections occur in men, women, adults, children and persons of all races and sexual orientations," the statement read, adding that while the particular strain identified in the report had been found in gay men, it had also been found in people who were not gay.

For those who do come down with the disease, there are various treatments, including antibiotics. Preventive measures include frequently cleaning hands, clothes and open wounds. MRSA can cause painful sores, which should be lanced and treated to prevent the disease's spread.

Jason Overcash, 37, a sales representative who lives near the Castro and is gay, said he was upset by the initial presentation of the report, which he said seemed geared to panic people both inside and out of the Castro. "The way they presented it, it makes people think if they come here, they're going to get MRSA," he said.

That is an experience Mr. Overcash says he knows all too well: he contracted MRSA in 2002, and soon found a lesion on his left buttock. "It got to be like a golf ball in a matter of 36 hours," he said. He tried three different antibiotic treatments, even as the lesions spread, before finally knocking it out. "It was horrible, and that's why I'm super hyper-aware of it," Mr. Overcash said. "Because I don't ever want to go through that again."


"Flesh-Eating" Bacteria Striking Homosexual Men

The report above is from the NYT. Below is a report that does not pull any punches

A new medical study appearing in the Annals of American Medicine shows that homosexuals are spreading a new, highly-infectious and extremely dangerous bacteria amongst themselves, most probably through anal intercourse. The bacterium, called MRSA USA300, is impervious to front-line antibiotics and can only be treated with rarer drugs, primarily Vancomycin. Researchers say that the bug, which is a type of staphylococcus, is primed to develop immunity to that drug as well. Infected patients may have inflammation, abscesses, and tissue loss in the affected areas. Although the bacterium does not literally "eat" the body, it manufactures toxins that can cause "necrosis" - the death of surrounding tissue.

The study's authors note that the strong link between unhealthy behavior, particularly among homosexuals, is the driving force behind the disease. "Spread of the USA300 clone among men who have sex with men is associated with high-risk behaviors, including use of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, sex with multiple partners, participation in a group sex party, use of the internet for sexual contacts, skin-abrading sex, and history of sexually transmitted infections," the authors write.

"The same patterns of increased sexual risk behaviors among men who have sex with men - which have resulted from changes in beliefs regarding HIV disease severity with the availability of potent antiretroviral therapy - have been driving resurgent epidemics of early syphilis, rectal gonorrhea, and new HIV infections in San Francisco, Boston, and elsewhere," add the researchers.

The study, which focused on clinics in the San Francisco area, found that in some cases up to 39% of patients had the MRSA USA300 infections in their genitals or buttocks, although the disease can be spread by general skin-to-skin contact and can even be picked up from surfaces. Observing that "Infection with multidrug-resistant USA300 MRSA is common among men who have sex with men," the study timidly concludes that "multidrug-resistant MRSA infection might be sexually transmitted in this population," and counsels "further research."

It is estimated that in San Francisco's Castro District, which has the highest concentration of homosexuals in the country, the infection rate is 1 in every 588 residents. One in every 3,800 residents of San Francisco are infected. Homosexuals are 13 times more likely to be infected than others in the city.

The disease is not only spreading in San Francisco, but also Boston, New York and Los Angeles. In addition to homosexuals, people who are ill or have weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible. MRSA and other types of staphylococcus bacteria, often spread in hospitals, kill more than 19,000 Americans each year, a rate higher than deaths due to AIDS.

Peter LaBarbara, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, is hoping that the revelation of yet another homosexual epidemic will have an impact on the public's perception of homosexual behavior. "I think that the media, and Hollywood, and a lot of our policy makers and certainly academia are in a world of 'let's pretend' with regard to homosexual behavior and its consequences," he told LifeSiteNews. "They don't want to focus on the special risks that homosexual behavior, especially between men, have in the public health arena, and issues like this keep coming up."

However, LaBarbara acknowledges that the major media will "invariably spin things in a homosexual direction." "We saw the identical thing happen 25 years ago with the reporting on AIDS," he said, "but ironically the whole AIDS crisis strengthened the homosexual lobby in this country."

Source. Original report: "Emergence of Multidrug-Resistant, Community-Associated, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Clone USA300 in Men Who Have Sex with Men"

People are the world's most important resource

Forget the talk of recession. The world is about to enter a new era in which miracle drugs will conquer cancer and other killer diseases and technological and scientific advances will trigger unprecedented economic growth and global prosperity. Pie in the sky optimism? Perhaps. But there are reasons to be optimistic, and they rest not on science fiction but within the badly misnamed "dismal science," economics.

To understand why economics triggers such optimism, imagine that there are two deadly diseases. One disease is relatively rare, the other common. If you had to choose, would you rather be afflicted with the rare or the common disease? If you don't want to die, it's much better to have the common disease. The reason? The cost of developing drugs for rare and common diseases are about the same, but the revenues aren't. Pharmaceutical companies concentrate on drugs with larger markets because larger markets mean more profits.

As a result, there are more drugs to treat diseases with a lot of patients than to treat rare diseases, and more drugs means greater life expectancy. Patients diagnosed with rare diseases-those ranked at the bottom quarter in terms of how frequently they are diagnosed-are 45% more likely to die before age 55 than are patients diagnosed with more common diseases.

So imagine this: If China and India were as wealthy as the U.S., the market for cancer drugs would be eight times larger than it is today.

Of course, China and India are not yet as wealthy as the U.S., but their economies are growing rapidly, and with them, the market for new drugs. Cancer is now China's leading killer, with spending on treatment increasing by 17% per year. To be close to the Chinese market, AstraZeneca and Novartis are building major research facilities in China, which will benefit patients everywhere.

Like pharmaceuticals, new computer chips, software and chemicals also require large research and development (R&D) expenditures. As India, China and other countries become wealthier, companies will increase their worldwide R&D investments. Most importantly, as markets expand, companies and countries will put to work the greatest asset of all for the betterment of mankind: brain power.

Amazingly, there are only about 6 million scientists and engineers in the entire world, nearly a quarter of whom are in the U.S. Poverty means that millions of potentially world-class scientists today spend their lives trying to eke out a subsistence living, rather than leading mankind's charge into the future. But if the world as a whole were as wealthy as the U.S. and were devoting the same share of population to research and development, there would be more than five times as many scientists and engineers worldwide.

People used to think that more population was bad for growth. In this view, people are stomachs-they eat, leaving less for everyone else. But once we realize the importance of ideas in the economy, people become brains-they innovate, creating more for everyone else.

New ideas mean more growth, and even small changes in economic growth rates produce large economic and social benefits. At current income levels, with an inflation-adjusted growth rate of 3% per year, America's real per capita gross domestic product would exceed $1 million per year in just over 100 years, more than 22 times higher than it is today. Growth like that could solve many problems.

In the 20th century, two world wars diverted the energy of two generations from production to destruction. When the horrors ended, the world was left hobbled and split. Communism isolated much of the world, reducing trade in goods and ideas-to everyone's detriment. World poverty meant that the U.S. and a few other countries shouldered the burdens of advancing knowledge nearly alone.

The battles of the 20th century were not fought in vain. Trade, development and the free flow of people and ideas are uniting all of humanity, maximizing the incentives and the means to produce new ideas. This gives us reason to be highly optimistic about the future.


How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It

Governments-local, state, and federal-spend a lot of time wringing their hands about the plight of the urban poor. Look around any government agency and you'll never fail to find some know-it-all with a suit and a nameplate on his desk who has just the right government program to eliminate or ameliorate, or at least contain, the worst aspects of grinding poverty in American cities-especially as experienced by black people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and everyone else marked for the special observation and solicitude of the state bureaucracy. Depending on the bureaucrat's frame of mind, his pet programs might focus on doling out conditional charity to "deserving" poor people, or putting more "at-risk" poor people under the surveillance of social workers and medical experts, or beating up recalcitrant poor people and locking them in cages for several years.

But the one thing that the government and its managerial aid workers will never do is just get out of the way and let poor people do the things that poor people naturally do, and always have done, to scratch by.

Government anti-poverty programs are a classic case of the therapeutic state setting out to treat disorders created by the state itself. Urban poverty as we know it is, in fact, exclusively a creature of state intervention in consensual economic dealings. This claim may seem bold, even to most libertarians. But a lot turns on the phrase "as we know it." Even if absolute laissez faire reigned beginning tomorrow, there would still be people in big cities who are living paycheck to paycheck, heavily in debt, homeless, jobless, or otherwise at the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. These conditions may be persistent social problems, and it may be that free people in a free society will still have to come up with voluntary institutions and practices for addressing them. But in the state-regimented market that dominates today, the material predicament that poor people find themselves in-and the arrangements they must make within that predicament-are battered into their familiar shape, as if by an invisible fist, through the diffuse effects of pervasive, interlocking interventions.

Consider the commonplace phenomena of urban poverty. Livelihoods in American inner cities are typically extremely precarious: as Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh writes in Off the Books: "Conditions in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty can change quickly and in ways that can leave families unprepared and without much recourse." Fixed costs of living-rent, food, clothing, and so on-consume most or all of a family's income, with little or no access to credit, savings, or insurance to safeguard them from unexpected disasters.

Dependent on Others

Their poverty often leaves them dependent on other people. It pervades the lives of the employed and the unemployed alike: the jobless fall back on charity or help from family; those who live paycheck to paycheck, with little chance of finding any work elsewhere, depend on the good graces of a select few bosses and brokers. One woman quoted by Venkatesh explained why she continued to work through an exploitative labor shark rather than leaving for a steady job with a well-to-do family: "And what if that family gets rid of me? Where am I going next? See, I can't take that chance, you know. . . . All I got is Johnnie and it took me the longest just to get him on my side."

The daily experience of the urban poor is shaped by geographical concentration in socially and culturally isolated ghetto neighborhoods within the larger city, which have their own characteristic features: housing is concentrated in dilapidated apartments and housing projects, owned by a select few absentee landlords; many abandoned buildings and vacant lots are scattered through the neighborhood, which remain unused for years at a time; the use of outside spaces is affected by large numbers of unemployed or homeless people.

The favorite solutions of the welfare state-government doles and "urban renewal" projects-mark no real improvement. Rather than freeing poor people from dependence on benefactors and bosses, they merely transfer the dependence to the state, leaving the least politically connected people at the mercy of the political process.

But in a free market-a truly free market, where individual poor people are just as free as established formal-economy players to use their own property, their own labor, their own know-how, and the resources that are available to them-the informal, enterprising actions by poor people themselves would do far more to systematically undermine, or completely eliminate, each of the stereotypical conditions that welfare statists deplore. Every day and in every culture from time out of mind, poor people have repeatedly shown remarkable intelligence, courage, persistence, and creativity in finding ways to put food on the table, save money, keep safe, raise families, live full lives, learn, enjoy themselves, and experience beauty, whenever, wherever, and to whatever degree they have been free to do so. The fault for despairing, dilapidated urban ghettoes lies not in the pressures of the market, nor in the character flaws of individual poor people, nor in the characteristics of ghetto subcultures. The fault lies in the state and its persistent interference with poor people's own efforts to get by through independent work, clever hustling, scratching together resources, and voluntary mutual aid.

Housing Crisis

Progressives routinely deplore the "affordable housing crisis" in American cities. In cities such as New York and Los Angeles, about 20 to 25 percent of low-income renters are spending more than half their incomes just on housing. But it is the very laws that Progressives favor-land-use policies, zoning codes, and building codes-that ratchet up housing costs, stand in the way of alternative housing options, and confine poor people to ghetto neighborhoods. Historically, when they have been free to do so, poor people have happily disregarded the ideals of political humanitarians and found their own ways to cut housing costs, even in bustling cities with tight housing markets.

One way was to get other families, or friends, or strangers, to move in and split the rent. Depending on the number of people sharing a home, this might mean a less-comfortable living situation; it might even mean one that is unhealthy. But decisions about health and comfort are best made by the individual people who bear the costs and reap the benefits. Unfortunately today the decisions are made ahead of time by city governments through zoning laws that prohibit or restrict sharing a home among people not related by blood or marriage, and building codes that limit the number of residents in a building.

Those who cannot make enough money to cover the rent on their own, and cannot split the rent enough due to zoning and building codes, are priced out of the housing market entirely. Once homeless, they are left exposed not only to the elements, but also to harassment or arrest by the police for "loitering" or "vagrancy," even on public property, in efforts to force them into overcrowded and dangerous institutional shelters. But while government laws make living on the streets even harder than it already is, government intervention also blocks homeless people's efforts to find themselves shelter outside the conventional housing market. One of the oldest and commonest survival strategies practiced by the urban poor is to find wild or abandoned land and build shanties on it out of salvageable scrap materials. Scrap materials are plentiful, and large portions of land in ghetto neighborhoods are typically left unused as condemned buildings or vacant lots. Formal title is very often seized by the city government or by quasi-governmental "development" corporations through the use of eminent domain. Lots are held out of use, often for years at a time, while they await government public-works projects or developers willing to buy up the land for large-scale building.

Urban Homesteading

In a free market, vacant lots and abandoned buildings could eventually be homesteaded by anyone willing to do the work of occupying and using them. Poor people could use abandoned spaces within their own communities for setting up shop, for gardening, or for living space. In Miami, in October 2006, a group of community organizers and about 35 homeless people built Umoja Village, a shanty town, on an inner-city lot that the local government had kept vacant for years. They publicly stated to the local government that "We have only one demand . . . leave us alone."

That would be the end of the story in a free market: there would be no eminent domain, no government ownership, and thus also no political process of seizure and redevelopment; once-homeless people could establish property rights to abandoned land through their own sweat equity-without fear of the government's demolishing their work and selling their land out from under them. But back in Miami, the city attorney and city council took about a month to begin legal efforts to destroy the residents' homes and force them off the lot. In April 2007 the city police took advantage of an accidental fire to enforce its politically fabricated title to the land, clearing the lot, arresting 11 people, and erecting a fence to safeguard the once-again vacant lot for professional "affordable housing" developers.....

The poorer you are, the more you need access to informal and flexible alternatives, and the more you need opportunities to apply some creative hustling. When the state shuts that out, it shuts poor people into ghettoized poverty.

Much more here


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

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

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


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Mexico promotes murder in America

With the assistance of the anti-death-penalty lobby

A methamphetamine dealer who gunned down a deputy during a traffic stop in Southern California. A man in Arizona who killed his ex-girlfriend's parents and brother and snatched his children. A man who suffocated his baby daughter and left her body in a toolbag on an expressway overpass near Chicago.

Ordinarily, these would be death penalty cases. But these men fled to Mexico, thereby escaping the possibility of execution. The reason: Mexico refuses to send anyone back to the United States unless the U.S. gives assurances it won't seek the death penalty a 30-year-old policy that rankles some American prosecutors and enrages victims' families. "We find it extremely disturbing that the Mexican government would dictate to us, in Arizona, how we would enforce our laws at the same time they are complaining about our immigration laws," said Barnett Lotstein, special assistant to the prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona, which includes Phoenix. "Even in the most egregious cases, the Mexican authorities say, 'No way,' and that's not justice," Lotstein said. "That's an interference of Mexican authorities in our judicial process in Arizona."

Statistics have shown that for every person executed there are 18 fewer murders in states that have the death penalty. By thwarting that sentence Mexico is contributing to the murder of Americans while saving the lift of people who really deserve to die. What the story suggest is that these murders are calculating their crime with the idea that Mexico's screwy sense of "justice" will save their sorry butts. It is part of the false moral "superiority" of the anti death penalty jurisdictions. Some European countries have the same bad judgment.

Fleeing to Mexico should be seen as evidence of premeditated murder that a defendant would be required to rebut. The Mexicans need to wise up on the death penalty too. The lack of one certainly has not created better respect for the rule of law in Mexico where murders have become almost ritualistic in many cases.


Western blindness

Mazir-i-sharif. Ring a bell? In 2001, a 32-year-old Marine captain and CIA officer named John Micheal Spann was killed there in a prison riot, thus becoming the first American combat death in Afghanistan. Not incidentally, Spann, before violence broke out, had interrogated an uncooperative John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban. This all took place before the United States military completely toppled Afghanistan's Taliban oppressors.

Nearly seven years later, American-liberated Mazir-i-sharif has again made headlines - well, one or two - as the site of the prison where a 23-year-old Afghan journalist has been detained for three months (and counting) on blasphemy charges. These charges derive, Reuters reports, from Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh "distributing an article which said Prophet Mohammed had ignored the rights of women." As President Bush might say... well, what might President Bush say: Let freedom reign?

Then there's Halabja. Remember Halabja? The name is notorious for being the town where in 1988, 15 years before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Saddam Hussein gassed thousands of Kurdish civilians to death. This month, American-liberated Halabja made headlines as the site of the court that sentenced a Kurdish author in absentia to six months in prison for blasphemy: namely, for writing in a book that Mohammed had 19 wives, married a nine-year-old when he was 54, and took part in murder and rape. (These points, Robert Spencer notes at jihadwatch.com, "can be readily established from early texts written by pious Muslims.") The author, Mariwan Halabjaee, who has asylum in Norway, says there's also a fatwa calling for his death unless he asks forgiveness.

Think about it. Where Americans have died, not just to de-fang jihadist threats but to "democratize" Islamic populations, freedom of speech is against the law. And not the law according to "militants," or "extremists," but the law as enforced by democratically elected governments that we, as a nation, support with everything we've got. What would Mr. Bush say to that?

I doubt he'd know what to say. Neither, for that matter, would anyone in his cabinet, starting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Nor, I doubt, would the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Mike Mullen. Nor - to open things up - would the presidential candidates, the Fox News All-Stars or Simon Cowell. The fact is, to discuss blasphemy laws in Afghanistan and Iraq (Kurdistan, even) is to discuss Islam - specifically, its laws and doctrines. And we, as a politically correct people, don't know how to do that. Instead, we act as though they don't exist.

And not just blasphemy laws. Jihad doctrine; Shariah (Islamic law); designs for a global caliphate through jihad (terrorism) and the spread of Shariah (Islamization): We pretend they are not factors in the free world's experience with Islam. We certainly don't discuss their implications for the freeness of the world. Look at what passes for "debate" among our presidential candidates: Republicans argue over who supported "the surge" first; Democrats argue over who will withdraw troops first.

Such resolute blindness on Islam probably explains the institutional apathy - including (with few exceptions) conservative apathy - on the termination of Pentagon analyst Maj. Stephen Coughlin, which I wrote about last week. The military's primary expert on Islamic law, Mr. Coughlin was reportedly fired at the behest of a highly placed Pentagon aide named Hesham Islam whom Steven Emerson has since thumb-nailed as "an Islamist with a pro-Muslim Brotherhood bent." Thankfully, Rep. Sue Myrick of the bipartisan House Anti-Terrorism Caucus is considering action, but there is little public sense that this outrage of a story is happening to us as a nation.

But it's something that should deeply concern Americans, particularly as a nation with soldiers under arms. Mr. Coughlin's meticulously researched legal brief not only links Islamic law to Islamic terrorism, but also demonstrates the professional negligence involved in ignoring Islamic law when devising strategies against Islamic terrorism.

Of course, that right there may explain the silence, particularly among many conservatives. The kind of negligence Mr. Coughlin is talking about, deriving from a PC ignorance of Islamic law, is quite evident in the strategies and tactics of the so-called war on terror that conservatives have widely championed - up to and including "the surge" in Iraq, which, for example, presupposes that American-won security will trigger a set of cultural behaviors and aspirations in Iraqi society best described as non-Islamic.

In other words, we seem to have arrived at a strange junction where neither jihadist apologists nor surge enthusiasts want to hear the facts about Islamic law. You might say it's become the new blasphemy.


Democrats coshed by their own political correctness rhetoric

Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. ... It took a president to get it done. -- Hillary Clinton, Jan. 7

So she said. And then a fight broke out. That remarkable eruption of racial sensitivities and racial charges lacked coherence, however, because the public argument was about history rather than what was truly offensive -- the implied analogy to today.

The principal objection was that Clinton appeared to be disrespecting Martin Luther King Jr., relegating him to mere enabler for Lyndon Johnson. But it is certainly true that Johnson was the great emancipator, second only to Abraham Lincoln in that respect. This was a function of the times. King was fighting for black enfranchisement. Until that could be achieved, civil rights legislation could only be enacted by a white president (and a white Congress).

That does not denigrate King. It makes his achievement all the more miraculous -- winning a permanent stake in the system for a previously disenfranchised people, having begun with no political cards to play.

In my view, the real problem with Clinton's statement was the implied historical analogy -- that the subordinate position King held in relation to Johnson, a function of the discrimination and disenfranchisement of the time, somehow needs recapitulation today when none of those conditions apply.

The analogy Clinton was implying was obvious: I'm Lyndon Johnson, unlovely doer; he's Martin Luther King, charismatic dreamer. Vote for me if you want results. Forty years ago, that arrangement -- white president enacting African-American dreams -- was necessary because discrimination denied blacks their own autonomous political options. Today, that arrangement -- white liberals acting as tribune for blacks in return for their political loyalty -- is a demeaning anachronism. That's what the fury at Hillary was all about, although no one was willing to say so explicitly.

The King-Johnson analogy is dead because the times are radically different. Today an African-American can be in a position to wield the emancipation pen -- and everything else that goes along with the presidency: from making foreign policy to renting out the Lincoln Bedroom (if one is so inclined). Why should African-American dreams still have to go through white liberals?

Clinton is no doubt shocked that a simple argument about experience versus inspiration becomes the basis for a charge of racial insensitivity. She is surprised that the very use of "fairy tale" in reference to Obama's position on Iraq is taken as a sign of insensitivity, or that any reference to his self-confessed teenage drug use is immediately given racial overtones.

But where, I ask you, do such studied and/or sincere expressions of racial offense come from? From a decades-long campaign of enforced political correctness by an alliance of white liberals and the black civil rights establishment intended to delegitimize and marginalize as racist any criticism of their post-civil rights-era agenda.

Anyone who has ever made a principled argument against affirmative action only to be accused of racism knows exactly how these tactics work. Or anyone who has merely opposed a more recent agenda item -- hate crimes legislation -- on the grounds that murder is murder and that the laws against it are both venerable and severe. Remember that scurrilous pre-election ad run by the NAACP in 2000 implying that George Bush was indifferent to a dragging death of a black man at the hands of white racists in Texas because he did not support hate crime legislation? The nation has become inured to the playing of the race card, but "our first black president" (Toni Morrison on Bill Clinton) and his consort are not used to having it played against them.

Bill is annoyed with Obama. As Bill inadvertently let on to Charlie Rose, it has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with entitlement. He had contemplated running in 1988, he confided to Charlie, but decided to wait. Too young, not ready. (A tall tale, highly Clintonian; but that's another matter.) Now it is Hillary's turn. The presidency is her due -- the ultimate in alimony -- and this young upstart refuses to give way.

But telling Obama to wait his turn is a tricky proposition. It sounds patronizing and condescending, awakening the kinds of racial grievances white liberals have spent half a century fanning -- only to find themselves now singed in the blowback, much to their public chagrin. Who says there's no justice in this world?


Why Capitalism is Good for the Soul

Capitalism provides the conditions for creating worthwhile lives, argues Peter Saunders

The problem for those of us who believe that capitalism offers the best chance we have for leading meaningful and worthwhile lives is that in this debate, the devil has always had the best tunes to play. Capitalism lacks romantic appeal. It does not set the pulse racing in the way that opposing ideologies like socialism, fascism, or environmentalism can. It does not stir the blood, for it identifies no dragons to slay. It offers no grand vision for the future, for in an open market system the future is shaped not by the imposition of utopian blueprints, but by billions of individuals pursuing their own preferences. Capitalism can justifiably boast that it is excellent at delivering the goods, but this fails to impress in countries like Australia that have come to take affluence for granted.

It is quite the opposite with socialism. Where capitalism delivers but cannot inspire, socialism inspires despite never having delivered. Socialism's history is littered with repeated failures and with human misery on a massive scale, yet it still attracts smiles rather than curses from people who never had to live under it.(2) Affluent young Australians who would never dream of patronising an Adolf Hitler bierkeller decked out in swastikas are nevertheless happy to hang out in the Lenin Bar at Sydney's Circular Quay, sipping chilled vodka cocktails under hammer and sickle flags, indifferent to the twenty million victims of the Soviet regime. Chic westerners are still sporting Che Guevara t-shirts, forty years after the man's death, and flocking to the cinema to see him on a motor bike, apparently oblivious to their handsome hero's legacy of firing squads and labour camps.(3) ...

Boring capitalism cannot hope to compete with all this moral certainty, self-righteous anger, and sheer bloody excitement. Where is the adrenalin in getting up every day, earning a living, raising a family, creating a home, and saving for the future? Where is the moral crusade in buying and selling, borrowing and lending, producing and consuming? The Encyclop`dia Britannica describes `soul music' as `characterised by intensity of feeling and earthiness.' It is in this sense that capitalism is soulless, for although it fills people's bellies, it struggles to engage their emotions.

It is not difficult from within the Judeo-Christian tradition to argue that capitalism is `a highly moral system, nourishing the best that is in us and checking the worst.'(9) But as Michael Novak reminds us, the revelations of God recorded by Jews, Christians, and Muslims centuries ago were intended to be universal, and were not tied to any one system of organising human affairs.(10) Therefore, it is probably a mistake to trawl through the scriptures searching for nuggets that might support this or that system of political economy, for the word of God was never intended to be used as a blueprint for designing socioeconomic systems.

If we want to know if capitalism is bad (or good) for the `soul,' it probably makes more sense to approach the question metaphorically rather than theologically. Approached in this way, saying something is `good for the soul' implies simply that it enhances our capacity to live a good life. On this less literal and more secular interpretation of the `soul,' capitalism fares rather well.

We have known since the time of Adam Smith that capitalism harnesses self-interest to generate outcomes that benefit others. This is obvious in the relationship between producers and consumers, for profits generally flow to those who anticipate what other people want and then deliver it at the least cost. But it also holds in the relationship between employers and employees. One of Karl Marx's most mischievous legacies was to suggest that this relationship is inherently antagonistic: that for employers to make profit, they must drive wages down. In reality, workers in the advanced capitalist countries thrive when their companies increase profits. The pursuit of profit thus results in higher living standards for workers, as well as cheaper and more plentiful goods and services for consumers.

The way this has enhanced people's capacity to lead a good life can be seen in the spectacular reduction in levels of global poverty, brought about by the spread of capitalism on a world scale. In 1820, 85% of the world's population lived on today's equivalent of less than a dollar per day. By 1950, this proportion had fallen to 50%. Today it is down to 20%. World poverty has fallen more in the last fifty years than it did in the previous five hundred.(11) This dramatic reduction in human misery and despair owes nothing to aging rockstars demanding that we `make poverty history.' It is due to the spread of global capitalism.

Capitalism has also made it possible for many more people to live on Earth and to survive for longer than ever before. In 1900, the average life expectancy in the `less developed countries' was just thirty years. By 1960, this had risen to forty-six years. By 1998, it was sixty-five years. To put this extraordinary achievement into perspective, the average life expectancy in the poorest countries at the end of the twentieth century was fifteen years longer than the average life expectancy in the richest country in the world-Britain-at the start of that century.

By perpetually raising productivity, capitalism has not only driven down poverty rates and raised life expectancy, it has also released much of humanity from the crushing burden of physical labour, freeing us to pursue `higher' objectives instead. What Clive Hamilton airily dismisses as a `growth fetish' has resulted in one hour of work today delivering twenty-five times more value than it did in 1850. This has freed huge chunks of our time for leisure, art, sport, learning, and other `soul-enriching' pursuits. Despite all the exaggerated talk of an `imbalance' between work and family life, the average Australian today spends a much greater proportion of his or her lifetime free of work than they would had they belonged to any previous generation in history.

There is another sense, too, in which capitalism has freed individuals so they can pursue worthwhile lives, and that lies in its record of undermining tyrannies and dictatorships. As examples like Pinochet's Chile and Putin's Russia vividly demonstrate, a free economy does not guarantee a democratic polity or a society governed by the rule of law. But as Milton Friedman once pointed out, these latter conditions are never found in the absence of a free economy.(12) Historically, it was capitalism that delivered humanity from the `soul-destroying' weight of feudalism. Later, it freed millions from the dead hand of totalitarian socialism. While capitalism may not be a sufficient condition of human freedom, it is almost certainly a necessary one.

Interestingly, Hamilton does not deny any of this. In a recent article he admits: `It was not socialism that broke down the barriers of poverty and class, it was capitalism.' He even accepts that `the arrival of widespread material abundance in the West for the first time provided the opportunity for the mass of ordinary people to pursue self-realisation.'(13) Like Marx before him, Hamilton is happy to acknowledge capitalism's historical accomplishments. But, again like Marx, his argument is that capitalism has now outlived its usefulness: what once promoted human progress now restrains it.(14)

Hamilton's complaint is that the opportunity for a full and meaningful life that capitalism opened up has not been grasped. This is because a growing preoccupation with consumption, economic growth, and the pursuit of wealth has subverted our search for authenticity and self-realisation. The charge against capitalism is that it has gone too far; it has made us too materialistic, and our preoccupation with money has invaded every corner of our lives, driving out much more important concerns. As a result, we are increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied, and only by turning against capitalism will we be able to move on.

When I was a university teacher, I frequently encountered students who argued just as Clive does. We are too materialistic, they told me, we don't need all these possessions, we should stop the capitalist machine and devote our energies to better and higher pursuits. But whenever I asked them at what point in history they thought the machine should have been turned off, they would invariably reply, `now!'

These students wanted everything that industrial capitalism had delivered to their generation up to that point-the comfortable housing, the audio systems, the cheap flights to foreign countries, the medical advances, and the increased education and leisure time-but they thought future generations should go without the additional benefits that would be generated in the years of capitalism to come. I used to wonder what they would think if their parents and grandparents had reasoned along similar lines, and switched off economic growth twenty, or fifty, or one hundred years ago.

Clive says the problem of excess materialism has come about `over the last two or three decades.'(15) So what would we have lost if he had been able to impose his anti-growth ideology in, say, 1980?

The web is not the only innovation we would have gone without if Clive had been given his head. There would be no PCs. No satellite navigation (an extraordinary feat of human ingenuity destined to make street maps redundant for pedestrians and drivers alike). No mobile phones or cheap intercontinental telephone calls. No digital music on CDs or iTunes, and no digital images on cameras, televisions and DVDs. No hybrid cars and very little solar or wind powered electricity generation. No International Space Station or space shuttle missions to continue exploring the heavens. No genetically modified crops so farmers can guard against insect attack without using insecticides. No human genome map with its potential cures for Alzheimer's and heart disease. No AIDS treatments or MRI scans. And (although Clive detests them) no plasma TVs!

True, most of us could live without all these things. But on what possible grounds could it be argued this would benefit our souls? ....

Andrew Norton notes that disaffected intellectuals since Rousseau have been attacking capitalism for its failure to meet `true human needs.'(26) The claim is unfounded, so what is it about capitalism that so upsets them? Joseph Schumpeter offered part of the answer. He observed that capitalism has brought into being an educated class that has no responsibility for practical affairs, and that this class can only make a mark by criticising the system that feeds them.(27) Intellectuals attack capitalism because that is how they sell books and build careers.

More recently, Robert Nozick has noted that intellectuals spend their childhoods excelling at school, where they occupy the top positions in the hierarchy, only to find later in life that their market value is much lower than they believe they are worth. Seeing `mere traders' enjoying higher pay than them is unbearable, and it generates irreconcilable disaffection with the market system.(28)

But the best explanation for the intellectuals' distaste for capitalism was offered by Friedrich Hayek in The Fatal Conceit.(29) Hayek understood that capitalism offends intellectual pride, while socialism flatters it. Humans like to believe they can design better systems than those that tradition or evolution have bequeathed. We distrust evolved systems, like markets, which seem to work without intelligent direction according to laws and dynamics that no one fully understands.

Nobody planned the global capitalist system, nobody runs it, and nobody really comprehends it. This particularly offends intellectuals, for capitalism renders them redundant. It gets on perfectly well without them. It does not need them to make it run, to coordinate it, or to redesign it. The intellectual critics of capitalism believe they know what is good for us, but millions of people interacting in the marketplace keep rebuffing them. This, ultimately, is why they believe capitalism is `bad for the soul': it fulfils human needs without first seeking their moral approval.

Much more here


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

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

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


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

British Left attacking the role of fathers

Doesn't a child need a father? Since in vitro fertilisation was first regulated in 1990 doctors have been required to consider the welfare of the baby, including "the need of that child for a father". This is one of the few ethical principles in IVF law and has served as a reminder that the welfare of the child is more important than the wishes of the would-be parents.

But no longer, it seems. The Government is seeking, in a new Bill in the House of Lords, to delete that obligation. Instead, IVF providers will have to consider "the need for supportive parenting", a change that is both unacceptable and inappropriate. The phrase "supportive parenting" will mean little to the public. Because it is speculative it will be difficult for practitioners to interpret, and it adds nothing of substance to the existing requirement to have regard to the welfare of the child. There is no reason to change the current approach, which works well.

A substantial amount of research has demonstrated that fathers make a distinctive contribution to child rearing, without which children are generally the poorer. If we believe that the welfare of children is important, it would be irresponsible to allow the law to move backwards and lose explicit reference to fathers.

The need to have regard to the role of fathers is not discriminatory. It has not and does not prevent same-sex couples from receiving IVF - the numbers of lesbian couples having such treatment is increasing. It simply asks those assessing IVF patients to consider the need of a child for a father, an eminently sensible provision that sends out a vital signal about the centrality of fathers.

This is an important principle of non-discrimination. It upholds equality of parenting and equal respect for both sexes in their roles. We all want to see women fulfilling their wish to become mothers, but one cannot overlook the contribution made by half the human race to the upbringing of the next generation.

At a time when many argue that Britain is suffering from a crisis of fatherlessness, this proposed change conflicts with the efforts being made to remedy the situation. The Government is encouraging paternity leave, compels fathers to pay maintenance, has ended the anonymity of sperm donors and wants them to register their names on birth certificates.

Britain has been successful in the field of advanced reproductive technology because the regulations governing it have kept the confidence of the public. That confidence will be jeopardised if this principle, which the great majority regard as important, is abandoned.


Class War and Wal-Mart

It doesn't take a degree in marketing to see that Wal-Mart has an image problem among the chattering classes. Few corporations in recent decades have been subjected to more relentless criticism, disdain, and fevered condemnation than what is regularly heaped upon the Arkansas-based retail giant. Wal-Mart has become the poster boy for everything that its opponents love to hate about the modern economy. From its use of nonunion labor to its "low" wages, to its marketing of inexpensive foreign goods, Wal-Mart is uniquely singled out as the most monstrous example of everything that is thought to be wrong with American society today.

Opposition to Wal-Mart takes many forms. At the local level, elections are organized to keep Wal-Mart stores out of town, and local activists sport "Mall Wart" bumper stickers. Planning commissions are filled with local officials who view Wal-Mart as something that is to be at best tolerated, but who frequently and openly condemn the retailer as a monstrosity. Nationwide, anti-Wal-Mart propaganda is widespread in academia while media productions such as the lengthy "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" work to portray the company in the worst possible light. National labor unions could scarcely loathe Wal-Mart more than they already do, and both left-wing and right-wing populists of all stripes rail against the retailer for its selling foreign goods, its alleged war against "mom and pop" stores and its supposed use of tactics such as browbeating suppliers, "dumping" of goods, and other nefarious business practices.

Interestingly however, we rarely hear about Wal-Mart's competitors when they engage in identical business practices, and this is not just because Wal-Mart is bigger than all of its competitors. Wal-Mart seems to elicit an emotional response that many of its competitor's lack, and this emotional response is driven not so much by what Wal-Mart does, but by who and what it represents. Take this passage from a recent edition of The American Conservative:
Wal-Mart began in Bentonville, Arkansas in 1962 as a single store and has grown to be the world's largest corporation and employer. Target and Kmart opened their first stores the same year; the difference between them and Wal-Mart was, and is, the latter's single-minded focus on offering the lowest possible prices all the time, not just during sales, no matter what it takes. Sam Walton banked on the addictive power of "too good to be true" bargain pricing to grow his business by cannibalizing existing retailers. It has worked-and in the process helped transform America from the workshop of the world into a nation not even of shopkeepers but of shop assistants ("sales associates").
Clearly, this analysis could be applied to Home Depot, or Target, or Kmart, or the new Sears superstores, or any other of the hated "big box" stores that dot the landscape. The allegation that only Wal-Mart uses low prices as a supposedly evil business tactic is patently absurd, yet the author manages to get away with it because her readers are no doubt inclined to assign some kind of unique evil to Wal-Mart alone. In addition, an anti-Wal-Mart site makes this proposal:
If you have a choice, choosing anyplace other than Wal-Mart helps keep the monster in check. It doesn't have to be some mom-and-pop store. Shopping at Target helps the balance, too. Every dollar diverted from Wal-Mart is one dollar less of influence the company has.
Shopping at Wal-Mart's competitors is apparently fine just as long as one doesn't shop at Wal-Mart itself. Ever. No reason is given for this singling out of Wal-Mart beyond a naked and irrational repugnance of Wal-Mart and everything it stands for. This loathing of Wal-Mart as unique among big-box retailers is perennially on display as Home Depots and Targets are opened with little to no opposition while Wal-Marts are rewarded with a bevy of anti-Wal-Mart yard signs and protests across the countryside.

While the sheer volume of anti-Wal-Mart articles, books, and documentaries are no doubt a factor, Wal-Mart's woes can also be traced to another phenomenon: its catering to low-income customers. Alone among major retailers, Wal-Mart is primarily identified with small towns and low-income shoppers. One often hears jokes about unwed mothers shopping at Wal-Mart and about the long lines endured while some customer at the front of the line fumbles with her WIC vouchers. The fact that Wal-Mart recently began selling fine wines was a source of much bemusement among pundits and late-night talk show hosts.

Home Depot and Target certainly don't suffer from the same image, and the fact that those with means avoid Wal-Mart while the penurious take advantage of the low prices offered there, means that Wal-Mart has become irrelevant and contemptible to those who write columns or sit on planning commissions or pontificate on matters of labor and economics. Essentially, Wal-Mart is associated with tacky poor people, while the middle and upper classes can reserve for themselves the more respectable environs of other retailers.

If we look deeper, we find that Target, Home Depot, Kmart, and others engage in more or less identical labor and retailing practices as Wal-Mart. Target's average wages are no higher than those of Wal-Mart. Target's health care options are no more lucrative. Target imports foreign goods just as much as any other retailer (including Wal-Mart) yet this seems to trouble few. Few big-box stores pay their sales associates "high" wages, and all rely on keeping costs low by finding the least expensive (imported or otherwise) goods available. These facts are often pointed out during the occasional anti-Home Depot or anti-Target protest, but they're generally ignored.

Wal-Mart's connection to small towns and low-incomes is not an accident, of course. Wal-Mart has long marketed itself to small-town residents, and those with medium to low incomes. Only recently has Wal-Mart begun opening stores in central urban areas, and in many small towns, Wal-Mart is the only large retailer to be found. This focus on cornering the discount-store market in small towns across America has no doubt contributed to the fact that Wal-Mart's revenues are now four times those of Target, but this strategy has also created an image of Wal-Mart that has not helped it much with the people who spend their days trying to influence public opinion.

For most of its history, Wal-Mart naively assumed that if it minded its own business, local and national pundits and politicians would leave it alone. Microsoft once made the same mistake. Yet, during the last several years they've figured out that their image with both local and national elites is important if Wal-Mart wants to protect its interests from official and heavy-handed meddling from outside. This is an unfortunate but inexorable reality.

Wal-Mart has begun to hire lobbyists and has made public relations and public affairs - for the first time in its history - a company priority. These measures would not be necessary if governments were not routinely threatening Wal-Mart with restrictive new laws and regulations, but Wal-Mart has seen the writing on the wall. And while a correlation doesn't prove causation, we've also begun to see Wal-Mart abandon its highly successful homey and unsophisticated image for a slicker, more urban, and more Target-like appearance. This may prove unfortunate if it means that Wal-Mart will no longer cater to the low-income shoppers who have so long benefited from its discount goods, but the change is undeniable.

Consider the Wal-Mart television ads of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The emphasis is on prices, and on family budgets and living on a small income. The formulas for Wal-Mart's advertising in this period were simple: regular focus on the low prices while profiling large families with small incomes. Most recognizable during this period were the famous smiley face commercials. One 1999 ad featured the smiley face slashing prices to the tune of the Rawhide theme. The tone is friendly with the focus always on prices. Then there were ads featuring mothers and parents who talked about how they shopped at Wal-Mart because it let them feed and clothe their families for less money. This 1998 commercial features a mother of four:

During the late 1990s Target made a conscious decision to distance itself from the Wal-Mart clientele and to appeal to a more young, hip, and (slightly) higher-income demographic. Target was still a discount store, but its image changed substantially throughout the '90s. And it became more and more a place where the young, educated, and fairly well-moneyed could imagine themselves shopping.

Here are two recent ads from the last decade that well typify the image that Target has recently cultivated: Note the kitsch and the lack of any mention of prices or families or practical considerations of any kind. Everyone knows that Target is a discount store. The idea is to convince you that it's a stylish discount store.

One can buy discount paper towels and dog food at both Target and Wal-Mart at similar prices while being served by minimum wage workers. Yet, few would confuse the two stores. One is simply more charming than the other from the point of view of those who are prone to have contempt for discount retailers, so Target becomes a place where a congressman's twenty-something children (if not the congressman himself) might actually shop. In their minds, however, Wal-Mart remains relegated to the realm of the impoverished and unstylish. The fact that Wal-Mart is perceived as useless by those with money and power has, not surprisingly, led to political problems for the retailer.

The general bias against Wal-Mart extends far deeper than any generic bias against capitalism or against Wal-Mart's success. The people who hate Wal-Mart seem to have few scruples about shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond or Target. Even if Target enjoyed a market share similar to that of Wal-Mart, it's difficult to imagine the same culturally based disdain being directed with nearly as much passion at Target as has been the case for Wal-Mart.

These socio-economic biases are not noticed only by those who oppose Wal-Mart. Its customers have not been oblivious as Wal-Mart has made changes to its image. In a recent article on Wal-Mart's abandonment of its layaway program, MSNBC painted a picture of widespread shopper condemnation of the change:
"I always believed that they're always trying to give us the lowest prices and they're not for the rich man, you know?" said Jennifer Reynolds, a 28-year-old mother of four who used to depend on layaway for her children's school uniforms and holiday gifts. "I just can't believe that they would get rid of layaway and say, 'Here, well, here's a credit card.'"
The layaway change was portrayed as one piece of a larger movement away from Wal-Mart's traditional clientele. Shoppers also remarked on recent changes in Wal-Mart's image through new marketing items within the stores and with the merchandise itself. According to the article, one Wal-Mart customer and stockholder noted that the abandonment of layaway "hasn't helped reputationally, and it hasn't helped especially with their core (low-income) customers."

It's difficult to say how well these comments represent the feelings of the typical Wal-Mart customer or stockholder nationwide, but anyone who has seen recent Wal-Mart ads has certainly seen the change they've noticed. Recent ads have clearly been focusing more on a younger, wealthier, and more stylish crowd than the traditionally themed ad of five to ten years ago: Note the change in visual style and the fact that the ads now feature people who live in nice houses and buy high-end electronics. Note also that Wal-Mart has recently changed its motto from "Always Low Prices. Always," to "Save Money. Live Better," which sounds a lot like Target's motto of "Expect More. Pay Less."

It's not clear to what extent Wal-Mart's decision to change its marketing is directly tied to its government relations strategy, but it is clear that Wal-Mart is moving away from its traditional strategy and target demographic. Given that Wal-Mart has recently begun to pay attention to its government relations and public relations with a much more keen eye, it isn't outlandish to see its recent moves as an attempt to combat the traditional image which has produced so little sympathy among those with money and power.

If Wal-Mart does in the long run cease paying attention to its low-income customers, that will indeed be unfortunate, and all the more so if the change was motivated by political pressure. Historically, Wal-Mart marketing has been all about the low prices. And its low prices have made many goods available to many households that could not afford such goods before. Wal-Mart has set the standard for all large discount stores. All seek now to price themselves as close as possible to Wal-Mart's prices, and even those consumers who don't shop at Wal-Mart end up benefiting from the price competition.

In spite of what any pundit or city councilperson says, Wal-Mart has long served its low-income customers well, and it has improved the lives of many by making food, toys, tools, and clothing more affordable for millions. Being hated by the wealthy and powerful is perhaps the high cost of serving those with low incomes, and Wal-Mart will no doubt continue to encounter resistance from those who don't need its services for some time to come.


The Feminists and the Jews

Of the three women pictured here, one is the President of the Supreme Court, the second the Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the third is the Speaker of the Parliament. Women in positions of real power, and all are members of a Middle East government. Any magazine committed to feminism, the empowerment of women, and the evolution of women's rights in the Middle East would hunger for such a photo, or so you would think.

Yet, MS. Magazine refused to publish these photos of Dorit Beinish, Tzipi Livni, and Dalia Itzik, three Middle East women whose society does not treat women as chattel and encourages the development of their full human potential. The problem for MS was that these are Jewish women, holding office in Israel, and the caption beneath the photo reads, "This is Israel." This is not the face of Israel the left wants people to see. This is not the David (Palestine) and Goliath (Israel) commonly depicted in news footage of Palestine children throwing stones at Israeli Jeeps and tanks. This not the probably contrived photo of Israelis "shooting" Muhammad Dura, as his father uses his own body to cover him. This is not the phony "massacre" at Jenin with the destruction and carnage at Grozny.

Today's political left has embraced an authoritarian mindset that bifurcates the world into distinct stereotypic groups. This is the mindset that dominates our politically correct universities and has produced generations of students who have been indoctrinated into seeing the world as divided into one of the oppressed and oppressor.

All of the world's ills-in this distorted view -- are the consequence of the actions of the oppressor class: whether heard it the sanctimonious babble that Hurricane Katrina was caused by the Bush administration's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocols, or the absurd proposition that American led globalization is now responsible for all the economic ills in the world. This is the mantra of indoctrination being chanted in our institutions of higher education.

And for the left, the leading force behind globalization is the conspiracy of investment bankers, international financiers and conglomerates, and, of course, the media-all simplistically translated once again as "the International Jew."

So, why should anyone be surprised that Ms. Magazine, which bills itself not just as a magazine but a feminist social movement, should refuse to run an ad, however accurate, that would depict Israel in a way that would be incongruous with leftist propaganda? After all, the vitriol the ad is reputed to have created among the staff is the natural course of the creation of the new feminist authoritarian type-The Femi-Nazi.

Jewish liberals regrettably see anti-Semitism as a disease of the right, unmindful that the National Socialism, grew out of the German Worker's Party, and that Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia were not at opposite ends of the political continuum but adjacent to each other The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was not an unholy alliance but an instinctive one.

The need to create scapegoats is a natural tendency for all movements that mobilize true believers. It makes no difference if the movement mobilizes itself in the interests of race or class, or even gender. Such movements require simplistic solutions to complex problems. And all such movements use hatred as the great unifier.

Whether it is the male, white people or the economic system, if there is no victimizer, there is no victim. In today's leftist fantasy, all victimization ultimately traces itself back to the international Jewish capitalist. As a recruiter for the Green Party unabashedly said to me at our local farmer's market, "So what if Iran gets the bomb. The only people they'd use it against are Jews. Who cares about them?" Well, obviously not the Green Party, or for that matter the political left.

My liberal Jewish friends and supporters of Ms. Magazine and its advertisers should ask themselves this simple question: From what other country would Ms. Magazine refuse to put three women on its cover? From China which occupies Tibet? From Mozambique where dictatorship has run amuck? From any of a number of societies where women are treated as chattel, mutilated, and denied the rudiments of self determination? Israel and Israel alone is shunned.


Arab terrorism now OK?

The Bush Doctrine -- born on Sept. 20, 2001, when President Bush bluntly warned the sponsors of violent jihad: "You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists" -- is dead. Its demise was announced by Condoleezza Rice last Friday.

The secretary of state was speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route with the president to Kuwait from Israel. She was explaining why the administration had abandoned the most fundamental condition of its support for Palestinian statehood - namely, an end to Palestinian terror. Rice's explanation, recounted here by The Washington Times, was as striking for its candor as for its moral blindness:

"The 'road map' for peace, conceived in 2002 by Mr. Bush, had become a hindrance to the peace process, because the first requirement was that the Palestinians stop terrorist attacks. As a result, every time there was a terrorist bombing, the peace process fell apart and went back to square one. Neither side ever began discussing the 'core issues': the freezing of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the right of Palestinian refugees to return, the outline of Israel's border, and the future of Jerusalem.

"'The reason that we haven't really been able to move forward on the peace process for a number of years is that we were stuck in the sequentiality of the road map. So you had to do the first phase of the road map before you moved on to the third phase of the road map, which was the actual negotiations of final status,' Rice said. . . . What the US-hosted November peace summit in Annapolis did was 'break that tight sequentiality. . . You don't want people to get hung up on settlement activity or the fact that the Palestinians haven't fully been able to deal with the terrorist infrastructure. . .'"

Thus the president who once insisted that a "Palestinian state will never be created by terror" now insists that a Palestinian state be created regardless of terror. Once the Bush administration championed a "road map" whose first and foremost requirement was that the Palestinians "declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism" and shut down "all official . . . incitement against Israel." Now the administration says that Palestinian terrorism and incitement are nothing "to get hung up on."

Whatever happened to the moral clarity that informed the president's worldview in the wake of 9/11? Whatever happened to the conviction that was at the core of the Bush Doctrine: that terrorists must be anathematized and defeated, and the fever-swamps that breed them drained and detoxified?

Bush's support for the creation of a Palestinian state was always misguided -- rarely has a society shown itself *less* suited for sovereignty -- but at least he made it clear that American support came at a stiff price: "The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state," Bush said in his landmark June 2002 speech on the Israeli-Arab conflict, "until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure." He reinforced that condition two years later, confirming in a letter to Ariel Sharon that "the Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."

Now that policy has gone by the boards, replaced by one less focused on achieving peace than on maintaining a "peace process." No doubt it *is* difficult, as Rice says, to "move forward on the peace process" when the Palestinian Authority glorifies suicide bombers and encourages a murderous yearning to eliminate the Jewish state. If the Bush Doctrine -- "with us or with the terrorists" -- were still in force, the peace process would have been shelved once the Palestinians made clear that they had no intention of rejecting violence or accepting Israel's existence. The administration would be treating the Palestinians as pariahs, allowing them no assistance of any kind, much less movement toward statehood, so long as their encouragement of terrorism persisted.

But it is the Bush Doctrine that has been shelved. In its hunger for Arab support against Iran -- and perhaps in a quest for a historic "legacy" -- the administration has dropped "with us or with the terrorists." It is hellbent instead on bestowing statehood upon a regime that stands unequivocally with the terrorists. "Frankly, it's time for the establishment of a Palestinian state," Rice says.

When George W. Bush succeeded Bill Clinton, he was determined not to replicate his predecessor's blunders in the Middle East, a determination that intensified after 9/11. Yet he too has succumbed to the messianism that leads US presidents to imagine they can resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. Clinton's legacy in this arena was the second intifada, which drenched the region in blood. To what fresh hell will Bush's diplomacy lead?



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

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

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


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Saturday, January 19, 2008

The brutality of "Multicultural" Britain again

In a north London suburb last week, a schoolgirl was beaten, gang-raped and then had drain-cleaning fluid poured on her body apparently to destroy DNA evidence. In the eternal cesspit of senseless urban crime, I feel that a dreadful nadir of sorts has been reached, a benchmark of slaked lust and casual, sadistic cruelty. Police sources say the 16-year-old will never fully recover from the injuries caused by the caustic soda and, at the time of writing, she remains under heavy sedation in a burns unit, fighting for her life.

One could weep an ocean for this young woman, her life ruined by these savages, who hunted in a pack like animals and dragged her to an empty house, caring nothing for her wellbeing or future. Drain cleaner? The callous premeditation is shocking, and underlines the fact that some of the rootless delinquents who roam the London streets are now scraping the bottom of the barrel of humanity. I'm almost embarrassed to say that the attackers have been described as "five black youths", in case you think I'm being racist in highlighting this crime.

Yes, these are the peculiar times we live in, particularly in a week when Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has pointed out that "white flight is accelerating" as Britain becomes increasingly polarised along ethnic lines.

Following the controversy started by the Bishop of Rochester, who said that some Muslim enclaves were "no-go areas" for Christians, it all seems to suggest a country that is becoming increasingly fragmented; a patchwork of rigidly delineated little pockets of race and religion, knots of unyielding humanity who just can't rub along with each other.

This is not a Britain many of us would care to recognise, or even want to live in, although it is true that certain sectors of the middle class are fleeing from inner London like pashmina-wrapped lemmings, desperate to escape the creeping spread of urban decay. Last year, nearly a quarter of a million decent, law-abiding citizens packed their bags and left the capital for good, seeking what they hope will be a better life elsewhere. They moved to outer boroughs, other city suburbs, rural areas, abroad, the back end of beyond, anywhere but here.

While their fairytale, roses-around-the-door belief in the safety of the countryside and the romantic ideal of a thatched cottage for two is touching, it does point to an underlying urban unease. I would rather take my chances in the city than the country, but one can hardly blame them for wanting to move.

Elsewhere in London this week, a medical student was stabbed to death in a row over an orange in a Brixton fruit shop. A pupil who was expelled for allegedly having a knife took his school to the High Court. And about the time most of us were sitting down to dinner, watching The Bill on television or putting the children to bed, a teenage girl underwent an unimaginable ordeal in an ordinary suburban street.

What is going to happen to those of us left to live here if youths across the city continue to feel quite comfortable and confident in running amok? That's before you even factor in the older, more professional criminal gangs from more than 25 countries, who operate prosperous drug trafficking, people smuggling, prostitution, money laundering and fraud rackets on the capital's streets.

London is a welcoming city, where home-grown and particularly international criminal networks are flourishing nicely. Somewhere in the city, a great termite nest of law-breaking and corruption grows by the day, nourished by immigrants, some of them illegal, from Algeria, Nigeria, Jamaica and Pakistan, among others.

Is it racist to point that out, too? I don't know any more. All I know is that London has room to absorb them all, particularly as so many of its citizens have recently left in a hurry. And while cosy family evenings by the fire remain one of the few benefits of a wet British winter, how alarming that fewer and fewer people feel safe doing this inside their own homes.


Liberal Hatemongers

A politically progressive friend of mine always seemed to root against baseball teams from the South. The Braves, the Rangers, the Astros -- he hated them all. I asked him why, to which he replied, "Southerners are prejudiced."

The same logic is evident in the complaint the American political left has with conservative voters. According to the political analysis of filmmaker Michael Moore, whose perception of irony apparently does not extend to his own words, "The right wing, that is not where America's at . . . It's just a small minority of people who hate. They hate. They exist in the politics of hate . . . They are hate-triots."

What about liberals? According to University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, "Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others." They also "believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference." Indeed, generations of academic scholars have assumed that the "natural personality" of political conservatives is characterized by hostile intolerance towards those with opposing viewpoints and lifestyles, while political liberals inherently embrace diversity.

As we are dragged through another election season, it is worth critically reviewing these stereotypes. Do the data support the claim that conservatives are haters, while liberals are tolerant of others? A handy way to answer this question is with what political analysts call "feeling thermometers," in which people are asked on a survey to rate others on a scale of 0-100. A zero is complete hatred, while 100 means adoration. In general, when presented with people or groups about which they have neutral feelings, respondents give temperatures of about 70. Forty is a cold temperature, and 20 is absolutely freezing.

In 2004, the University of Michigan's American National Election Studies (ANES) survey asked about 1,200 American adults to give their thermometer scores of various groups. People in this survey who called themselves "conservative" or "very conservative" did have a fairly low opinion of liberals -- they gave them an average thermometer score of 39. The score that liberals give conservatives: 38. Looking only at people who said they are "extremely conservative" or "extremely liberal," the right gave the left a score of 27; the left gives the right an icy 23. So much for the liberal tolerance edge.

Some might argue that this is simply a reflection of the current political climate, which is influenced by strong feelings about the current occupants of the White House. And sure enough, those on the extreme left give President Bush an average temperature of 15 and Vice President Cheney a 16. Sixty percent of this group gives both men the absolute lowest score: zero.

To put this into perspective, note that even Saddam Hussein (when he was still among the living) got an average score of eight from Americans. The data tell us that, for six in ten on the hard left in America today, literally nobody in the entire world can be worse than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

This doesn't sound very tolerant to me -- nor especially rational, for that matter. To be fair, though, let's roll back to a time when the far right was accused of temporary insanity: the late Clinton years, when right-wing pundits practically proclaimed the end of Western civilization each night on cable television because President Clinton had been exposed as a perjurious adulterer.

In 1998, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were hardly popular among conservatives. Still, in the 1998 ANES survey, Messrs. Clinton and Gore both received a perfectly-respectable average temperature of 45 from those who called themselves extremely conservative. While 28% of the far right gave Clinton a temperature of zero, Gore got a zero from just 10%. The bottom line is that there is simply no comparison between the current hatred the extreme left has for Messrs. Bush and Cheney, and the hostility the extreme right had for Messrs. Clinton and Gore in the late 1990s.

Does this refute the stereotype that right-wingers are "haters" while left-wingers are not? Liberals will say that the comparison is unfair, because Mr. Bush is so much worse than Mr. Clinton ever was. Yes, Mr. Clinton may have been imperfect, but Mr. Bush -- whom people on the far left routinely compare to Hitler -- is evil. This of course destroys the liberal stereotype even more eloquently than the data. The very essence of intolerance is to dehumanize the people with whom you disagree by asserting that they are not just wrong, but wicked.

In the end, we have to face the fact that political intolerance in America -- ugly and unfortunate on either side of the political aisle -- is to be found more on the left than it is on the right. This may not square with the moral vanity of progressive political stereotypes, but it's true.


Does Big Government Help Women?

When the first woman to be a major party candidate for president wins her first presidential primary by playing the gender card it tells you something. The Romantics were right and the rationalists were wrong. Life really is all about feelings and not about reason. That was a week ago. Now the first woman candidate for president is trading racial smears with her chief rival for the Democratic nomination.

The question that I would like to ask our women friends is this. Was it for this that women, inspired by Simone de Beauvoir, boldly emerged into the public square from out of the darkness of endless ages of oppression? If so, what's the point?

I say this because there is much for a woman president to do. In many ways women are as oppressed and as marginalized today as they ever were in the Dark Ages of the patriarchy.

Today in our government schools little girls are forced to learn their lessons according to a unisex curriculum imposed and enforced by activist feminists. Mothers who would prefer a little less feminism and a little more education are out of luck.

Today in our society teenaged girls are encouraged to experiment with sex by educators and pressured to have sex by teenaged boys. Nobody seems to have the courage to tell the girls that they don't have to put up with this abuse.

Today in our society women in their twenties live under heavy social pressure to devote themselves to a career and un-devote themselves to marriage. The result is that in the prime of their sexuality and fertility they give away their favors to men for nothing. For this their grandmothers chained themselves to railings?

Today in our society thirtysomething women are frantically trying to get pregnant in their few remaining years of fertility. And that's if they're lucky and haven't got divorced.

Today in our society women of all ages are encouraged to divorce if their marriages aren't up to snuff. Divorced women, of course, often don't get to have the number of children they want. They usually suffer significant economic hardship. And they don't really improve their lives through divorce.

Today in our society women of all ages are encouraged to channel their energies away from home and family in paid employment or in a career. But for most women the most important things in their lives are their relationships and their children.

Today when women get old they get bustled off into institutions. Their daughters are encouraged to fill their mature middle years with jobs and careers, and have been socialized to be too busy to care for their enfeebled parents. Older women, surviving often into their nineties, are very weak and very feeble. And very often they are very frightened.

Two words best describe the society that has marginalized its women in this way. Cruel and unjust. In the name of womens' liberation our society has chivvied women out of their homes and neighborhoods and the life that many women prefer: family, children and cooperative relationships with other women. Above all it has bullied them out of their instinctive culture of giving and helping and into full-time paid (and taxable) employment. Meanwhile the first woman candidate for president is busy trading racial barbs with the first black candidate for president.

The odd thing is that the political party that has created this unjust world for women gets most of their support. The "gender gap" means that more women support the big government party than the limited government party.

John R. Lott has explained how this works in "Women's suffrage over time," excerpted from his book Freedomnomics. Women are more risk averse than men, he writes, and since they have gotten the vote they have expressed their preference by voting for more government programs. Federal government spending started increasing in the 1920s when women got the vote and it has kept increasing ever since.

Women voted for big government because they were told that big government gave them security. But did it? Is it really true that big bureaucratic government with its one-size-fits-all top-down model can really provide better security and freedom from risk than a conservative society of family, church, neighborhood association, and mutual aid?

Conservatives would say: No. Big government creates big dependency. Women today face uncertainty and risks in their lives that they never faced when they created security for themselves in marriages that could not be easily terminated and when they controlled the social services of their communities because they were the social services of their communities.

Of course, women today do not face the privations that their grandmothers faced a century ago. But the biggest cause of poverty in women is still single parenthood. The challenge to conservatives is clear. If we want to succeed in reforming big government we have to persuade women that big government means big risks for women.


Another "peaceful" Muslim in Australia

A man who had ammunition in his pocket and a loaded pistol on the back seat of his car when he was pulled over told police he was, "going hunting with my uncle". The gun was ready to fire when police pulled over Mahmud Jihad, 26, in Rooty Hill on Tuesday. Also in a bag in the back seat was a tazer, Mount Druitt local court heard yesterday. A further three pistols - including a Russian semi-automatic - were found when police raided Jihad's Shalvey home later the same day. Along with the cache of guns and ammunition found in the bedroom of the builder's labourer, was $59,550 in cash.

Jihad yesterday faced court on 15 charges, including having a firearm in a public place. The court heard Jihad was sentenced to 12 months' jail in 2005 for similar offences. Jihad's estranged parents and sister were in court yesterday when he applied for bail. His lawyer Charles Zarb argued that although his client had priors for similar offences, he had always turned up at court, even when a jail sentence was likely.

But prosecutor Pauline McCann said Jihad's actions demonstrated that he was an active risk to the public. Jihad was refused bail and remanded in custody to appear again on March 28.



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

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

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


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Friday, January 18, 2008

Too many rights make a wrong

By Australian commentator Janet Albrechtsen

It was one of those rare, particularly sunny days in Vancouver in September when, addressing an audience at the University of British Columbia, I suggested that multiculturalism and its partner in crime, moral relativism, were leading to the demise of Western values. "But you must understand," implored a well-intentioned woman in the audience, "multiculturalism is Canada's gift to the world."

If Australia is set to follow Canada, then thanks, but no thanks. Call me ungrateful, but we should have returned the gift to Canada long ago. I say that as someone who has long adored Canada. Its politics may be as dripping wet as Vancouver, but the people are warm and funny, and there is something sweet about the US's insecure, slightly wimpy northern neighbour. Yet there comes a point when weakness morphs into a reckless death wish.

That point is about now. I'm back in Canada and the distinct chill is not just in the air. Last Friday, conservative commentator Ezra Levant was hauled before Alberta's Human Rights and Citizenship Commission for publishing the infamous Danish Mohammed cartoons two years ago in the Western Standard. Syed Soharwardy, the head of Canada's Islamic Supreme Council, complained that Levant had incited hate against Muslims.

Levant's opening statement was a tour de force as far as punchy defences of free speech go. Apparently viewed almost 200,000 times, it is one of the most-watched clips on YouTube in recent times. It's also on his website, www.ezralevant.com, where he describes the chilling process: "No six-foot brownshirt, no police cell at midnight. Just Shirlene McGovern, an amiable enough bureaucrat, casually asking me about my political thoughts on behalf of the Government of Alberta. And she'll write up a report about it, and recommend that the Government do this or that to me. Just going through checklists, you see ... a limp clerk who was just punching the clock. She had done it dozens of times before and will do it dozens of times again. In a way, that's more terrifying." It was, said Levant, the epitome of Hannah Arendt's warning against "the banality of evil".

Refreshingly, Alan Borovoy, general counsel to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the chap who helped found these commissions in the 1960s and '70s, was equally appalled. Writing in the Calgary Herald, he said "during the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create such commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech". Pointing to the empire-building frolic of the commissions, Borovoy advised that the legislation needed to be changed to make it clear that these commissions had no business investigating and making edicts about thought crimes.

Borovoy's warning about the alarming expansion of the jurisdiction of these rights bodies adds another and very timely warning for Australians about the implications of human rights law. Expressed in impossibly platitudinous and therefore vague language, these so-called human rights bodies effectively decide how far their reach extends. Canada shows where we will end up in due time: with a system of governance where large swaths of social policy have been delegated by parliament to the unelected grey bureaucrats, who get to implement "progressive" policies that could never get through a body of elected politicians.

As the jurisdiction of these commissions expands into areas never originally intended, fundamental freedoms contract. When state bodies start enforcing the religious prohibitions of Muslims, which forbid the depiction of the prophet Mohammed, it destroys a few fundamental Western values, namely the separation of mosque and state and, more critically, the freedom of speech.

This is not simply a defence of Levant because he is a conservative columnist. Far from it. If a bleeding heart on the Left was dragged before a human rights commission for thinking and saying unpalatable things, even stupid things, the defence would remain the same. Defending the right to say the right things is easy. Defending the right to say the wrong things, even offensive things, is what counts if we are serious about free speech.

That's why, some years ago, I wrote in defence of my colleague Phillip Adams when he was accused of racial vilification by an American who was offended by Adams's assertion that the US was one of the most violent nations on earth and was largely to blame for the events of September 11. The comments were daft but Adams has a right to be wrong and so it was important to stand up for his right to say it.

Allowing a state body to investigate it as a speech crime sends a chill down the spine of Western progress. As Levant argued, "Freedom of expression is only meaningful when it trumps other values, such as political sensibilities, or religious dogma, or personal sensitivities. Indeed, Western civilisation's progress in all realms, ranging from science to art, to religion, to feminism, to civil rights for racial minorities and gays, has come about from the free expression of ideas that necessarily offended some earlier order." In short, self-criticism is at the core of the West's progress. The battle of ideas may be no place for the faint-hearted, but it produces exceptional results by thrusting forward the better ideas.

In the Canadian multicultural zeitgeist, where bland political correctness is preferred, those on the Right tend to get hit more often by ludicrous complaints to human rights commissions. A bunch of law students marched off to a Canadian human rights commission complaining about Maclean's for running an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. Steyn, like Levant, can defend himself. As Steyn wrote on his blog: "I don't want to get off the hook. I want to take the hook and stick it up the collective butt of these thought police." But what about the little guys put through the human rights commission wringer? Failing to complain about the quotidian incidences of oppression by human rights bodies only encourages the egregious examples to occur.

Take the case of the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal drafting an inane apology last November to be run by the Mission Beach Advertiser for publishing an admittedly unpleasantly anti-gay letter that offended the catch-all Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Intersex Anti-Violence Committee. Or when the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal upheld a complaint against The Australian's opinion page editor, Tom Switzer, for saying perfectly accurately, if somewhat colourfully, in 1998 that the Palestinians were "vicious thugs" who were derailing the peace process.

So, we need to watch Canada. As it goes, so will we. And even if you can stomach the idea of handing over power over social policy to unelected bureaucrats and self-opinionated lawyers, you might like to hang on to free speech. Oh Canada, where are you taking us?


New York Times Sunday Book Review of "Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11" by Matthias Kuentzel

The anti-Semitic worldview, generally speaking, is fantastically stupid. If its propagandists actually understood the chosen people, they would know, for instance, that no one, not the chief of Mossad, not even the president of Hadassah, could persuade 4,000 Jews to stay home from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. ("And why should I listen to you?" would have been the near-universal rebuttal to the call.) Anti-Semitic conspiracy literature not only posits crude and senseless ideas, but also tends to be riddled with typos, repetitions and gross errors of grammar, and for this and other reasons I occasionally have trouble taking it seriously.

The German scholar Matthias Kuentzel tells us this is a mistake. He takes anti-Semitism, and in particular its most potent current strain, Muslim anti-Semitism, very seriously indeed. His bracing, even startling, book, "Jihad and Jew-Hatred" (translated by Colin Meade), reminds us that it is perilous to ignore idiotic ideas if these idiotic ideas are broadly, and fervently, believed. And across the Muslim world, the very worst ideas about Jews - intricate, outlandish conspiracy theories about their malevolent and absolute power over world affairs - have become scandalously ubiquitous. Hezbollah and Hamas, to name two prominent examples, understand the world largely through the prism of Jewish power. Hezbollah officials employ language that shamelessly echoes Nazi propaganda, describing Jews as parasites and tumors and prescribing the murder of Jews as a kind of chemotherapy.

The question is not only why, of course, but how: how did these ideas, especially those that portray Jews as all-powerful, work their way into modern-day Islamist discourse? The notion of the Jew as malevolently omnipotent is not a traditional Muslim notion. Jews do not come off well in the Koran - they connive and scheme and reject the message of the Prophet Muhammad - but they are shown to be, above all else, defeated. Muhammad, we read, conquered the Jews in battle and set them wandering. In subsequent centuries Jews lived among Muslims, and it is true that their experience was generally healthier than that of their brethren in Christendom, but only so long as they knew their place; they were ruled and taxed as second-class citizens and were often debased by statute. In the Jim Crow Middle East, no one believed the Jews were in control.

Obviously, then, these modern-day ideas about Jewish power were imported from Europe, and Kuentzel makes a bold and consequential argument: the dissemination of European models of anti-Semitism among Muslims was not haphazard, but an actual project of the Nazi Party, meant to turn Muslims against Jews and Zionism. He says that in the years before World War II, two Muslim leaders in particular willingly and knowingly carried Nazi ideology directly to the Muslim masses. They were Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, and the Egyptian proto-Islamist Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. The story of the mufti is a familiar one: he was the leader of the Arabs in Palestine, and Palestine’s leading anti-Jewish agitator. He eventually embraced the Nazis and spent most of the war in Berlin, recruiting Bosnian Muslims for the SS and agitating for the harshest possible measures against Jews. Kuentzel writes that the mufti became upset with Himmler in 1943, when he sought to trade 5,000 Jewish children for 20,000 German prisoners. Himmler came around to the mufti’s thinking, and the children were gassed.

Hassan al-Banna did not embrace Nazism in the same uncomplicated manner, but through the 1930s, his movement, aided by the Germans, led the drive against not only political Zionism but Jews in general. "This burgeoning Islamist movement was subsidized with German funds," Kuentzel writes. "These contributions enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to set up a printing plant with 24 employees and use the most up-to-date propaganda methods." The Muslim Brotherhood, Kuentzel goes on, was a crucial distributor of Arabic translations of "Mein Kampf" and the "Protocols." Across the Arab world, he states, Nazi methods and ideology whipped up anti-Zionist fervor, and the effects of this concerted campaign are still being felt today.

Kuentzel marshals impressive evidence to back his case, but he sometimes oversimplifies. One doesn’t have to be soft on Germany to believe it was organic Muslim ideas as well as Nazi ideas that led to the spread of anti-Semitism in the Middle East. In his effort to blame Germany for Muslim anti-Semitism, he overreaches. "While Khomeini was certainly not an acolyte of Hitler, it is not unreasonable to suppose that his anti-Jewish outlook... had been shaped during the 1930s," Kuentzel says, citing, in a footnote, an article he himself wrote. He also oversimplifies the Israeli-Arab conflict. Jews today have actual power in the Middle East, and Israel is not innocent of excess and cruelty.

Still, Kuentzel is right to state that we are witnessing a terrible explosion of anti-Jewish hatred in the Middle East, and he is right to be shocked. His invaluable contribution, in fact, is his capacity to be shocked, by the rhetoric of hate and by its consequences. The former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi once told me that "the question is not what the Germans did to the Jews, but what the Jews did to the Germans." The Jews, he said, deserved their punishment. Kuentzel argues that we should see men like Rantisi for what they are: heirs to the mufti, and heirs to the Nazis.


The China temptation

2008 will be China's year. The Olympic Games -- no doubt perfectly organized, without a protester, homeless person, religious dissenter or any other kind of spoilsport in sight -- will almost certainly bolster China's global prestige. While the U.S. economy gets dragged down further in a swamp of bad property debts, China will continue to boom.

Exciting new buildings, designed by the world's most famous architects, will make Beijing and Shanghai look like models of 21st century modernity. Chinese entrepreneurs will be featured more and more in those annual lists of the world's richest people. And Chinese artists, favored by their newly rich compatriots, will command prices at art auctions that many others can only dream of.

To come back from near destitution and bloody tyranny in one generation is a great feat, and China should be saluted for it. But China's success story is also the most serious challenge that liberal democracy has faced since fascism in the 1930s. This is not because China poses a great military threat. War with the U.S., or even Japan, is only a fantasy in the minds of a few ultra-nationalist cranks and paranoiacs.

No, it is in the realm of ideas that the China model is scoring victories because the country's material success (despite its consequences for the natural environment) is making its political-economic model look like an attractive alternative to liberal democratic capitalism.

Contrary to what some pundits are saying, Chinese capitalism is not like 19th century European capitalism. The European working class, not to mention women, may not have had the right to vote 200 years ago, but it was possible to have many forms of organized life, for all social classes, that were independent of the state. Even during the most ruthless phases of Western capitalism, civil society in Europe and the U.S. was made up of a huge network of clubs, parties, societies and associations ranging from churches to sports clubs. The same was true of far-from-democratic China before Chairman Mao Tse-tung crushed everything that challenged the absolute monopoly of his Communist Party.

Since the death of Maoism, Chinese individuals have regained many personal freedoms, but not the freedom to organize anything politically, or otherwise, that is not under the control of the party. Communism may be bankrupt as an ideology, but in its lack of civil society, China has not changed. The China model is sometimes described in traditional terms, as though modern Chinese politics were an updated version of Confucianism. In fact, however, a society in which the pursuit of money by the country's elite is elevated above all other human endeavors is a very far cry from any kind of Confucianism that may have existed in the past.

Still, it's hard to argue with success. If anything has been put to rest by the Chinese rise to wealth, it is the comforting idea that capitalism, and the growth of a prosperous bourgeoisie, will end up inevitably in liberal democracy. On the contrary, it is precisely that same rich middle class, bought off by promises of ever-greater material gains, that hopes to conserve the current political order. It may be a Faustian bargain -- prosperity in exchange for political obedience, indeed abdication -- but so far it is a bargain that has worked.

The China model is not just attractive to the new elites of coastal China. It has a global appeal. African dictators, or indeed dictators everywhere, who walk the plush red carpets laid out for them in Beijing love it. The model is non-Western, and the Chinese do not preach to others about democracy. They are hardly in a position to do so even if they wanted to. But China is also a source of vast amounts of money, much of which will end up in the pockets of the tyrants themselves. Corruption is not the point, however. The real success is ideological. By proving that authoritarianism can be successful, China is an example to autocrats everywhere, from Moscow to Dubai, from Islamabad to Khartoum.

China's appeal is growing in the Western world as well. Businessmen, media moguls, architects -- they all flock to China. What could be a better place to do business in, or to build stadiums and skyscrapers, or to sell information technology and media networks, than a country without independent trade unions, or indeed any form of organized protest that could hinder business? Meanwhile, concerns for human rights, or civic rights, are denigrated as outmoded or expressions of arrogant Western imperialism.

There is, however, a fly in the ointment. No economy keeps growing at the same pace forever. Crises occur. What if the bargain between the Chinese middle classes and the one-party state were to come unstuck because there is a pause, or even a setback, in the race for ever-more material wealth? This has happened before. The closest thing, in some ways, to the China model is 19th century Germany, with its industrial strength, its cultivated but politically neutered middle class and its tendency toward aggressive nationalism. In the case of Germany, nationalism became lethal when the economy crashed and social unrest threatened to upset the political order.

The same could happen in China, where national pride constantly teeters on the edge of belligerence toward Japan, Taiwan and, ultimately, the West. Aggressive Chinese nationalism, nascent for the moment, could turn lethal too if its economy were to falter and the pact with the middle class were to fall apart.

The only way to deflect domestic unrest would be to deflect it toward targets abroad. Because this would not be in anyone's interest, we should wish all the best for China in 2008, while sparing a thought for all the dissidents, democrats and free spirits languishing in labor camps and prisons, and hope that they will live to see the day when the Chinese too will be a free people. It might be a distant dream, but what is the New Year season good for, if not for dreaming?


The wowsers will run out of things to ban

Comment from Australia. "Wowser" stands for "We Only Want Social Evils Removed" -- a onetime slogan of temperance campaigners. But the term is now applied in Australia to Puritanical killjoys generally

Crisis looms. Corporate empires could be laid waste, countless jobs lost and millions of dollars in public funding disappear unless something is done now to open up new markets. No, we're not talking about the Australian car industry or the rural sector but that great growth industry of recent years, the do-gooder lobby group. Judging by the news reports of the past few weeks, very shortly the wowsers and the self-righteous of this country will soon run out of things to ban and areas of our lives to control and intrude upon.

Think about it. What a flying start to the new year for the nanny state. We ended 2007 with calls to ban smoking in outdoor areas such as the Queen Street Mall, because some people apparently get upset at a whiff of tobacco smoke mixed in with the miasma of car exhaust fumes. Not to be outdone, the ever sanctimonious Australian Drug Foundation then suggested a ban on alcohol on planes because a small minority of passengers get squiffy to the point of being obstreperous. Then we welcomed 2008 with federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's harebrained commitment to force all internet service providers to provide a "clean feed" to Australian homes which will censor all the naughty bits that the Government doesn't think fit for working families.

This is because some parents apparently don't supervise their children's internet usage, or fail to install their own filtering software. Who knows what vile filth their delicate progeny might see - possibly images of sweating semi-naked young men kissing and hugging in an orgy of homo-erotic excitement. If that's the case, then don't let them watch the soccer. Easy.

Anyway, news then emerged that various state governments are testing speed-limiters for cars because a small minority of drivers act like bloody idiots on the road. Anyone picking up a theme here? Something to do with imposing a blanket restriction or ban on everyone because of the behaviour or wishes of a vocal minority? Or maybe society forgetting the concept of people taking responsibility for their own actions?

That said, the professional campaigners - from the rabid anti-smokers to the Citizens Against Neighbours Who Have Cats That Once Killed a Bird (it was a noisy miner and we're better off without it, so get over it) have just about had their way. Short of the Temperance League making a comeback, there's not much alleged good for many of the do-gooders left to do. So to protect the sinecure of countless professional crusaders, new fronts of attack on our personal freedoms need to be opened up. Here's a few helpful campaign suggestions:

* Road Safety: Ban caravans. In one move you will remove the single greatest cause of road rage in Australia by removing this poison from our nation's automotive arteries. Countless lives will be saved, greenhouse emissions will be reduced and any selfish bastard caught venturing on to our roads towing a Viscount or Millard can spend the rest of their miserable life making a useful contribution to society by making number plates at the nearest correctional facility. While we're at it, let's also campaign to ban all smoking in cars because it could be distracting, and make it illegal to sell vehicles with a radio for the same reason. In fact, in terms of dangerous driver distractions, let's ban young children in cars as well.

* Food: Food kills. To reduce the obesity epidemic in Australia, we need to introduce patron care to supermarkets, in the same way that all the fun of getting absolutely rat-arsed at the pub has been taken away from us. Next time a plumper pushes a trolley laden with potato crisps, frozen pies, ice cream and soft drink up to the checkout, they should be firmly told they've already had too much and can't be served . . . just expand the "No more. It's the Law", campaign.

* Gambling: This one's red hot and ripe for milking a bit of funding for a smart campaigner. There's probably years of sound bites and donations to be extracted from a campaign to rid our society of a scourge that first appeared when the convicts off the First Fleet saw their first two flies on a wall. Who knows, there might even be a Senate seat and federal sinecure in it for a slick operator.

Someone's already done pokies, though, so maybe a crafty campaigner could shift their holier-than-thou indignation to horse racing, bringing you into opposition with big government and big business - a sure fire attention grabber and donation attracter.

* Booze: Alcohol has to be the next big one on the radar. The smoking battle is just about won, so let's demonise anyone who likes a tipple because a minority act like galahs when they've had a few too many. Warning labels would be a good start, followed by rationing. "Sorry sir, you've had your three standard drinks. I can't serve you any more." There's a decade or two of lucrative righteous self-aggrandisement in that one.

Actually, I'm wrong in my original premise about the do-gooders running out of nanny state campaigns. There's a wealth of untapped opportunity. We could have shower-cams to monitor our water usage - a bit like speed cameras but potentially more profitable depending on how you use the footage. What about installing noise meters in all homes to monitor barking dogs, power tools and loud stereo abusers?

Or perhaps we should consider banning columns like this because they take the piss out of the narrow-minded and sanctimonious and, judging by the fan mail I receive, offend a minority of people who wouldn't have enough functioning brain cells to look up "satire" in the dictionary let alone understand the definition. Get a life people. Then live and let live as you see fit. And leave the rest of us alone.



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

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

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


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Thursday, January 17, 2008

More Muslim arrogance in Britain

A Muslim store worker refused to serve a customer buying a children's book on Christianity because she said it was "unclean". Shopper Sally Friday felt publicly humiliated at a branch of Marks & Spencer when she tried to pay for First Bible Stories as a gift for her young grandson. When she put the book on the check-out counter, the young assistant refused to touch it, declared it was unclean and summoned another member of staff to serve instead.

Mrs Friday said she was so upset that she has now complained to the store's management. Last night politicians and religious leaders supported her in condemning the high street giant and reigniting the debate over religious beliefs in the workplace. Conservative MP Philip Davies said the refusal to serve Mrs Friday, 69, was "unacceptable" and "damaging" to community relations.

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, described the assistant's comments as "offensive" and called for Marks & Spencer to carry out a thorough investigation.

Mrs Friday said her trip to the sales in Reading, Berks, with her daughter had been ruined. "I went to the till and heard the girl say it was unclean and then she got someone else to serve me," said Mrs Friday. "At first I wasn't sure what was going on and then I realised she was wearing a headdress and I clicked that the title of the book had Bible in it. I felt very humiliated and immediately left the store."


The Politics of Pigmentation

It wouldn't be Martin Luther King Day without some kind of racial dialogue, but the tiff between Democratic Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is especially instructive and ironic. While their substantive argument is ultimately pointless, it does help illustrate the perils of identity politics.

Last Monday, in response to Senator Obama repeatedly invoking the late civil rights leader on the campaign trail, Senator Clinton told an interviewer, "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . It took a President to get it done." Later on, in a separate interview, Bill Clinton didn't help his wife when he described a chunk of Senator Obama's record as a "fairy tale."

The Obama campaign took umbrage at Mrs. Clinton's perceived slight of King and Mr. Clinton's patronizing remark. So did other black Democrats. Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, who is part of the Democratic leadership in Congress, announced he was rethinking his neutral stance in South Carolina's crucial primary. Donna Brazile, a longtime Democratic operative who ran Al Gore's 2000 campaign, also rebuked the Clintons.

Team Clinton next accused their rival of playing the race card and called on black supporters to defend the record of the former President and first lady. At a Clinton campaign rally over the weekend, Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, coyly (and gratuitously) alluded to Mr. Obama's past drug use, which the Senator already acknowledged in a best-selling memoir. "Bill and Hillary Clinton . . . have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood," said Mr. Johnson. "And I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in the book." Mr. Johnson later said he was talking about Mr. Obama's civic work.

Let's leave aside how this exchange undermines each candidates' claims that he or she would unite the country rather than divide it like the "polarizing" President Bush. On the merits, Mrs. Clinton obviously is correct. It did take a President's signature to bring the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to fruition. And the idea that saying so takes anything away from King's legacy is absurd.

Were she a true uniter, however, Mrs. Clinton might have added that the Civil Rights Act took bipartisanship as well, thanks to fierce opposition from Southern Democrats. Republicans of that era are often portrayed as opponents of civil rights. In fact, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the 1964 bill. And when it finally passed, GOP Senator Everett Dirksen, the minority leader who worked closely with the bill's sponsor, Democrat Hubert Humphrey, was honored for his efforts with a NAACP civil rights award.

Democrats never miss an opportunity to play the race card against Republicans and even black conservatives like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who dare to dissent from liberal orthodoxy. So it's tempting to enjoy the political entertainment value of a race-based dust up between Senators Clinton and Obama.

But there's also a cautionary tale here in how identity politics can come back to bite. The left's color-by-numbers approach to attracting votes has essentially painted the Democrats into a corner, making it very difficult for them to prevail in national elections without winning nearly every black vote. The result is the very antithesis of what King fought for -- an over-reliance on blunt racial appeals instead of issues and ideas.

Throughout the campaign, Mrs. Clinton has led Mr. Obama among black voters, thanks mostly to name ID and her husband's popularity. With his victory in Iowa and close second in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama has started to cut into Mrs. Clinton's black support. With her remarks, she's now given him an opportunity to make further inroads. And as the fallout shows, she'll have to be very careful about pushing back on this front if she wants to keep black supporters from abandoning her en masse, not only now but in November when they could decide to stay home.


Britain: Risk assessment watchdog set up to halt march of the nanny state

A new bureaucracy to curb other bureaucracies? Spare us! Like Tony Blair, Brown seems to have a reasonable grasp of the problems but he errs in trying to solve them by bureaucratic means rather than by getting the bureaucracies out of the way and letting the market work its magic

Unnecessary warnings that bags of peanuts "may contain nuts" and overly protective rules banning conker fights in schools will be targeted by a new watchdog intended to restore Britain's spirit of adventure. Gordon Brown is so concerned that the cotton-wool culture is denying people the freedom to enjoy themselves that he has asked the watchdog to report to him personally.

The move comes after a festive season in which actors in pantomimes were banned from throwing sweets to children in case someone got hit on the head and Christmas lights were banned in towns and villages for fear that they might pull down lampposts. A Rotary club in the Midlands was even made to put its Father Christmas in a body harness in case he fell off his sleigh.

Last summer hanging baskets were banned in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk in case they fell on the head of a passer-by, and home-made cakes were banned from a fete for fear that they might cause food poisoning.

There will be disappointment that Mr Brown's response to such killjoy acts is not to halve the number of health and safety officials or revise the hundreds of regulations introduced under this Labour Government. The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council has been set up in response to recommendations from the Better Regulation Commission that it has replaced.

The body for common sense will be set up alongside a national campaign to emphasise the importance of self- reliance and a sense of adventure. It is intended to engage the public, and remind them that the Government is not responsible for every accident or piece of bad fortune that befalls its citizens. The team of seven will tackle policy areas where there are fears that the Government is in danger of overkill.

Defensive labelling - of which the nut allergy warning on bags of peanuts is an example - is in its sights. Somewhat unnecessarily, the council says that such warnings are "laughable" and breed resentment. Also in line for scrutiny is whether the Government's response to obesity is in proportion to the problem.

The first project to be taken on by the council will look at the frenzy of government initiatives to tackle the MRSA superbug, to see if they are doing any good. Healthcare experts cast doubt this week on whether the most recent plan - a deep-clean of all hospitals announced by Mr Brown last autumn - would do any good.

Rick Haythornthwaite, who heads the council, has made his name and fortune out of the risk involved in investing in private equity. He told The Times that the combination of "well-intentioned people" and a policymaking process that "collapses in the face of a confrontational parliamentary system, the media and short-term career pressures" was responsible for the present culture of risk aversion. "If you ask someone, `Do you want the world to be a safer place?', of course they will say yes. But there is always a trade-off. Self-reliance and a spirit of adventure are important national characteristics that could be lost. I want the public to understand that in the trade-off, some important things can be lost." The key to challenging the killjoys was listen to the general public, he said.


Here We Go Round The Mulberry BUSH

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of articles have been written on President George Bush's visit to the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And not a single one that I've seen has mentioned the ridiculously obvious point that goes so far in explaining everything. To paraphrase the nursery rhyme about circling endlessly, Bush is merely taking us around the mulberry bush once more. Namely, this is an exact replay of Bill Clinton's presidency. Eight years ago, in his last twelve months in office, Clinton, too, decided that the conflict must be resolved right away. Result: total, humiliating failure and a five-year-long bloody Palestinian war on Israel.

As if this were not enough, whether or not even more violence will follow, Bush, through no fault of his own, is in a far worse position to play this game than was his predecessor. Let's compare these two cycles and see what should have been learned already. Perhaps, though I doubt it, the next administration will figure things out better.

In 2000, a seven-year-long peace process was due for completion. The Gaza Strip and much of the West Bank had been turned over to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Yasir Arafat. The PA had been given billions of dollars and military equipment, becoming a virtual client of the United States. Despite these efforts, there was anarchy in the PA-ruled territory, constant incitement to violence against Israel on the official news media, no psychological or ideological preparation of the Palestinians by their leadership for peace, and a massive wasting of funds.

Later, some analysts would explain away the failure by saying it was a mistake to force Arafat to the negotiating table for a decision. At the time, though, all one heard was how Arafat needed progress or he would lose control of his people and that the window of opportunity was closing. The U.S., Israeli, and European governments also wanted diplomatic progress for interests of their own. The result was not only the Camp David summit but also, and in some ways even more important, the Clinton plan that followed. The Palestinian leadership rejected both and instead opted for war.

Bush's new policy may be a big change for him but, after all, he is merely making the same analysis and offering the same terms as his predecessor. It was an understanding of what went wrong with Clinton's thinking and his generous bid--in part taught them by Clinton itself--that explains the Bush administration's lower level of effort for most of its time in office.

What does Arafat's situation and behavior tell us about those of his successors today? In all but a single respect--and that one only apparently--things are worse today. The one potential salvation was that Arafat had the power to make a deal if he wanted to do so. Of course, he did not. The Palestinian leader was restrained by his own character, ideology, and fear of his own people (who he had trained toward extremism for decades).

The apparent improvement regarding PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is that he is more willing to make peace. Yet this is more than counterbalanced by his extraordinary weakness. Not only has Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip--which everyone knows--but also Abbas does not have control over Fatah itself. If anything, Palestinian attitudes, where it counts in terms of public politics and not merely personal opinions, is even more extreme. One can almost hear experts saying in a few years: "Of course it was a mistake to force Abbas into a position where he had to say 'no' instead of always saying 'maybe.'' And that's why he fell from power to be replaced by Hamas (or even more anarchy)."

But aren't the Palestinians desperate for a solution, given all their suffering? Don't they pant after a state; won't the refugees rejoice at returning from Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan to the new state of Palestine? The answer, as it was in Clinton's time, is "no." The ideology of extremist nationalism and Islamism, belief that total victory is possible, miscomprehension of Israel, and suspicion of the West are all still in place. Even if there was a Palestinian leader able to transcend all those pressures he would still restrained by knowing that to make a deal might not only be personally fatal but--far more certain--would destroy his reputation and career. Nobody will act like Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in making peace with Israel because look what happened to him (reviled, boycotted by the Arab world, and assassinated).

Nor do Palestinian leaders feel a need to run such risks. A far easier, successful policy is to take billions of Western aid dollars while doing nothing and blaming everything on Israeli intransigence and U.S. mistakes. After all, who acts as if they desperately needed a diplomatic solution right away and would pay anything to get it? Not the Palestinians or the Arab states but, of course, the West and the United States. The bargaining tool of choice is: offer everything up front and ask for little or nothing in exchange.

Why is there such a shocking gap between reality and policy? In part, there is ample ignorance and foolishness but there are also solid reasons (though partly illusory ones) for the prevailing strategy. For U.S. policymakers, goals include trying to build an anti-Iran/Islamist alliance, gain domestic support, make European allies happy, and soothe Arabs and Muslims in the hope this will reduce Islamism and anti-Americanism.

Some policymakers are suitably cynical. Others are true believers who really think that solving the conflict will make all the other regional problems go away and are simply unaware why this issue is different from all other, at least non-Middle East, issues. The ultimate rationale is: we must try; it can't hurt to try.

Of course nothing will happen. But the real question is whether anything is learned? Some will get wise, as happened in 2000; others won't. They will find easy excuses: Bush was incompetent, if only the seating had been arranged differently or the plan worded differently, or the United States had tried five percent harder. The great rock group Bill Haley & His Comets did a new version of the nursery rhyme in 1953, optimistically entitled, "Stop Beatin' Round the Mulberry Bush" What is most important, though, is that history always has the last laugh. In the end, the intellectual supposes; the policymaker proposes, but reality has its way.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Massive New Study Of Affirmative Action Underway

Post below lifted from Discriminations. See the original for links

Long-time readers will know that I have referred often to the work of UCLA law professor Richard Sander on the effect of "diversity" in law school admissions, especially his "mismatch" theory that racial preferences have actually tended to reduce the number of black lawyers by placing black law students in institutions where they cluster at the bottom of their classes, fail to finish law school, and fail the bar exam in highly disproportionate numbers. My most recent discussion is here, dealing with the outrageous refusal of the California Bar Association to allow Sander and a team of scholars access to its data. Some earlier discussions can be found here, here, here, here, and here.

Despite efforts of groups like the California Bar Association, however, in the long run it is difficult to prevent scholars from doing research. As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports today, Sander has organized a national consortium of about 30 professors and graduate students from various disciplines to study the effects of affirmative action.
.... In an interview last week, Mr. Sander said most of the researchers involved with the new consortium "are advocates of affirmative action" but "think we need to avoid doing things that are harmful."

The research consortium is known as Project Seaphe, with the acronym standing for Scale and Effect of Admissions Preferences in Higher Education. Its members, who include sociologists, economists, and law professors, intend to undertake at least 18 different studies using the information they obtain from higher-education institutions, with the tentative goal of discussing their findings at a conference sometime in 2009, Mr. Sander said.

The group has submitted freedom-of-information requests to nearly all of the nation's more than 80 public law schools. About 20 promptly gave the consortium the student data it sought, and most seem willing to fulfill the consortium's information request, Mr. Sander said.
Some, however, are more willing than others.
Charles E. Daye, a professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has harshly criticized Mr. Sander's past research as biased against affirmative action, expressed suspicion that Project Seaphe had some sort of agenda. "I am not going to characterize the study," he said, but "I can tell you they have a project that is on a mission."
I wonder what he would have said if he had characterized it. "Despite his misgivings about Project Seaphe," however,
Mr. Daye has agreed to provide the consortium with the findings of his own pending study on diversity on law-school campuses. Although he is not yet ready to release his results, he said, he is obliged to share such information under the terms of the Law School Admission Council grant financing his research.
Much obliged. In what may be a preview of what the data collected by Project Seaphe will show, in a pending lawsuit challenging Michigan's Prop. 2 the University of Michigan has released data for three of the 11 years requested - 2004, 2005, and 2006.
In a written statement submitted to the court in October, Mr. Sander said the data show "very large disparities in bar passage rates across racial lines," with black graduates of the law school being about eight times as likely as white graduates of the law school to fail state bar examinations on their first attempt.
Prof. Sander's work argues that many of those black Michigan law graduates who failed the bar exam would have passed if they had attended less selective law schools where their grades would have been better and their background and abilities were more closely aligned with those other students. But that question aside, I also wonder how many more black lawyers Michigan produced than it would have produced without the preferences extended to black applicants.

Consider the following data from Judge Bernard Friedman's district court opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, which I quoted and discussed here. Judge Friedman in the passage below is referring to the effect of racial preferences presented by the University of Michigan's own expert witness, Dr. Stephen Raudenbush:
In Dr. Raudenbush's view, a "race-blind" admissions system would have a "very dramatic," negative effect on minority admissions but only a slight effect on non-minority admissions, due to the vastly greater number of non-minority applicants. In the year 2000, 35% of underrepresented minority applicants and 40% of non-minority applicants were admitted. See Exhibit 187. Dr. Raudenbush predicted that if race were not considered, then only 10% of underrepresented minority applicants and 44% of non-minority applicants would be admitted. If correct, this would mean that in the year 2000 only 46 underrepresented minority applicants would have been admitted (instead of 170 who actually were admitted), of whom only 16 would enroll (instead of 58 who actually enrolled). Under this scenario, underrepresented minority students would have constituted 4% of the entering class in 2000, instead of 14.5% as actually occurred. See Exhibit 189.
In other, fewer, words, according to Dr. Raudenbush, for the class admitted in 2000:

* 170 "underrepresented minorities" were preferentially offered admission.

* 58 of them enrolled, making up 14.5% of the total entering class of 400 students.

* Under "race-blind" admissions, 46 minorities would have been offered admission and 16 of them, 4% of the entering class, would have enrolled.

Thus, the above class contained 42 students (about 10% of the entering class of around 400) who Michigan acknowledges would not have been admitted but for their race (the 58 who actually enrolled minus the 16 who would would have enrolled even without the preferences). Applying the results Prof. Sander found in the Michigan data for 2004-2006 to the above numbers, those 42 preferentially admitted students failed the bar exam at a rate 8 times higher than their peers who were admitted without preferences.

I haven't seen the actual numbers, but it would be useful to know how many of the 42 did pass. That number - 5, 10, 15, whatever it is - is the measure of what Michigan accomplished with its preferences. And the cost of those few numbers? As I noted in my post linked above:
Thus, according to Michigan, 124 white, Asian, or unpreferred minority applicants were prevented from attending the UM law school in one year because of their race or ethnicity. The 2000 entering class of 400 students contained 42 students, or a bit over 10% of the class, who in Michigan's estimation would not have been there if their race or ethnicity had not been taken into account. 27% of the "underrepresented minorities" who applied would have been accepted under a non-discriminatory, colorblind admissions system; 73% of those who were offered admission would not have been admitted without the racial preference they were given. Thus, 124 whites, Asians, etc., who would have been admitted under a race-blind admissions system were denied admission in order to produce a yield of 42 more "underrepresented minority" admits than a race-blind system would have produced, or about three race-based denials for every one of the preferentially admitted entering students.
Whatever else they may be, racial preferences are a pretty expensive proposition, however one calculates the cost of depriving 124 applicants of an opportunity they sought because of their race.

THE NYT perpetuates a false Stereotype

Post below lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

There is a school of thought in journalism according to which it is bad form to mention the race or ethnicity of a criminal suspect or defendant unless there is a compelling reason to do so. The idea is that such references gratuitously perpetuate stereotypes while imparting information that is of no use to the reader. But racial and ethnic groups are not the only ones who take offense at such stereotypes, as the New York Times reports:
Veterans groups have long deplored the attention paid to the minority of soldiers who fail to readjust to civilian life. After World War I, the American Legion passed a resolution asking the press "to subordinate whatever slight news value there may be in playing up the ex-service member angle in stories of crime or offense against the peace." An article in the Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine in 2006 referred with disdain to the pervasive "wacko-vet myth," which, veterans say, makes it difficult for them to find jobs.
The wacko-vet myth is alive and well. This very passage comes from a 7,000-word front-page piece in yesterday's Times titled "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles":
The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment--along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems--appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.
Are they depraved on account of they were deployed? In fact, the Times's data are not sufficient to establish a correlation, much less a casual relationship, between stateside homicide and previous service in Afghanistan or Iraq. To determine whether there's such a correlation, we'd need to know, in addition to the number of war vets charged with homicide, the corresponding figure for the general population, as well as the denominators--i.e., the number of war vets and the size of the population as a whole. A serious analysis would also take into account the demographic characteristics of the veteran population, which is disproportionately young and male.

This the Times does not do. Power Line's John Hinderaker conducts some back-of-the-envelope calculations and finds that if the Times's numbers are correct, "the rate of homicides committed by military personnel who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan is only a fraction of the homicide rate for other Americans aged 18 to 24." The Times, however, pre-empts this line of argument by acknowledging a defect in its methodology:
To compile and analyze its list, The Times conducted a search of local news reports, examined police, court and military records and interviewed the defendants, their lawyers and families, the victims' families and military and law enforcement officials. This reporting most likely uncovered only the minimum number of such cases, given that not all killings, especially in big cities and on military bases, are reported publicly or in detail. Also, it was often not possible to determine the deployment history of other service members arrested on homicide charges.
If the numbers aren't comprehensive, what exactly is the Times trying to prove here? This is where things get interesting:
The Times used the same methods to research homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans for the six years before and after the present wartime period began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The increase occurred even though there have been fewer troops stationed in the United States in the last six years and the American homicide rate has been, on average, lower.
What the Times has discovered, then, is a dramatic increase in the number of news reports in which homicide defendants are identified as servicemen or recent veterans. Does this mean that those who've served their country are more crime-prone now than they were in peacetime? Or does it mean that reporters are more prone to perpetuate the wacko-vet myth than they were during peacetime? The Times is trying to prove the truth of a media stereotype by references to media reports. It might have proved nothing more than that it is a stereotype.

Be slow to wrath

Unfortunately, America has developed a subset of our population who have become sensitized to, and deliberately offended by much of the world outside of themselves... to words that offend them, to odors that offend them, to sights that offend them, and to ideas that offend them.

Even when the "offense" is not directed at them personally, these people take offense in the name of those who are not there, but they will often act offended when no offense was intended... even when nobody else can understand their being offended. It is seemingly enough for them that they alone are offended.

"Taking offense" is a judgment by someone, a decision made for any number of reasons. Some actually seek to be offended, as a means of trying to control an argument or conversation. Being offended makes them a victim placing the other person as the one in the wrong.

Far worse than the sensitivity and taking of personal offense is the attitude that we all share a responsibility to prevent those people from being offended. These folks have no hesitation in seeking organization or government force to prevent and eliminate that which offends them. They beseech officials with a peculiar display of proven methods... victimized helplessness combined with angry, self-righteous fervor. They have learned to expand their effectiveness by claiming that their fervor represents a large number of people who share their offense but who never seem to say so. They have become expert at presenting isolated incidents as indicative of a widespread problem... of presenting their "offense" as merely the tip of the iceberg....

I am intellectually offended by those who take automatically quick offense at specific words. Here in Minnesota, one of the primo nanny states, I could walk down the street wearing a shirt with the word "guns" on it, and easily identify some take-offense folks. I would get some dirty looks, and maybe even a verbal attack, just for the word. Some would shield their children's eyes.

A few years ago, I helped with the formation of a local group of the Pink Pistols, a gay/lesbian/etc. gun group. The reaction of others was a riot. We heard "what-the-hell's" from baffled conservatives who were offended by the idea of "gayness" in any form, but admired that gays understood that guns could be used for self-defense. Liberals could not criticize our "gun nuts" because they had already decided that criticizing "gayness" in any way is offensive. I loved the effect of Pink Pistols... it removed the easy "take-offense" attitude from many people, and actually made people on both extremes rethink their attitudes. If I changed my shirt from "guns" to "gay guns" most of the reactions I encountered with just "guns" would disappear.

It's all too easy for us to "choose up sides" and assume that anyone who isn't on our side is an enemy, and to then take specific words and phrases as a gunshot in our direction that prompts an immediate volley of return fire. Those are tendencies we need to strenuously avoid.


Muslims must do more to integrate, says British poll

A majority of Britons believe that Muslims need to do more to integrate into society and want tighter restrictions on immigration, an opinion poll commissioned by The Sunday Telegraph shows. However, the population is divided about whether the breakdown between communities has reached such a level that there are "no-go areas" for non-Muslims.

The poll comes at the end of a week in which Muslim integration has been pushed to the top of the political agenda following an article in The Sunday Telegraph by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who claimed that Islamic extremism in Britain had created no-go areas. His comments have been backed by church leaders in majority Muslim areas who have disclosed that their congregations have been targeted by militant Islamists in a campaign of intimidation which has seen churches vandalised and converts to Christianity attacked. They say that extremists are determined to make non-Muslim residents feel unwelcome, with the ultimate aim of driving them out.

Today's ICM poll shows that Britons are divided on the issue, with 35 per cent agreeing with the bishop, 38 per cent disagreeing, and the rest unsure. More than half - 56 per cent - were critical of the failure of Islamic communities to integrate into society. Only one in four felt that they had been successful.

Bishop Nazir-Ali expressed concern that attempts had been made in some areas to impose an Islamic character, for example by amplifying the call to prayer from mosques. One in three of those questioned in the poll said that they would be unhappy to have a mosque built in their neighbourhood compared with a quarter who would support such a move. Although 51 per cent agreed that the Muslim community enriched Britain and was not a threat, 37 per cent disagreed.

David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said that the poll results showed a widespread feeling that the Government had failed. "This demonstrates that the Government's actions, both to control immigration and to advance integration, are believed to have failed by the vast majority of the population," he said.

Church leaders in communities with large concentrations of Muslims said that Christians were being targeted. An east London vicar who had delivered Christmas leaflets in his parish said he was told to stay away from "Muslim areas". He said: "Despite this being a mixed area, where Muslims make up only about 15 per cent of the population, I was told that the leaflets were offensive and could make people angry." Another churchman said his path had been blocked by Muslim youths as he drove through a district of Oldham, Lancashire, last year. "They wanted to know why I was coming into 'their' area," he said. A priest ministering in the Manchester district of Rusholme said he knew of "dozens of cases" in which Muslim converts to Christianity had been attacked. Another church leader said that Asian Christians in Leicester feared being identified when leaving churches. "They are scared of being stopped and beaten up if they are found carrying Bibles," he said.

None of the church leaders we spoke to wished to be identified for fear of retaliation, but Don Horrocks, of the Evangelical Alliance, said: "It's increasingly difficult for non-Muslims to live in areas of high Muslim density, especially if they are practising Christians."

Some commentators fear that the aim of Islamist groups such as Tablighi Jamaat, Hizb-ut-Tahir and the Deobandi sect is to drive non-Muslims out of areas such as Dewsbury, in West Yorkshire, and Oldham along with neighbourhoods in Luton, Leicester, Birmingham and Leyton, in east London. The ultra-conservative Deobandi movement, which produced the Taliban in Afghanistan and some of whose British followers preach hatred of Christians, Hindus and Jews, is thought to be in control of almost half of Britain's 1,350 mosques, reports claim.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, the director of the Barnabas Trust, which helps persecuted Christians, said: "Muslims are being told not to integrate into British society, but to set up separate enclaves where they can operate according to sharia law." He said the process of "cleansing" Muslim-majority areas of non-Muslims had already begun, with white residents urged to leave and churches threatened.

However, a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said that research showed that 81 per cent of people say that they feel that people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local areas. "People of all faiths make a huge contribution to British life. Community cohesion is key to maintaining harmonious communities. That is why our strategy puts an emphasis on promoting integration and shared British values."

Most Britons believe that asylum seekers and immigrants are taking advantage of human rights laws, a survey shows. The poll, carried out for the Ministry of Justice, found that 57 per cent agreed that foreigners and asylum seekers are exploiting the Human Rights Act for their own purposes. Another 40 per cent thought the Act had caused more problems than it had solved.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Freest Black Man in America: Clarence Thomas, associate justice from Pin Point, Ga.


This article is from a little time back but I am reprinting it here as it has a lot of good points in it -- particularly about the way "affirmative action" degrades blacks. The opening assertions of the author are however clearly wrong. The research has consistently shown that American blacks in general have unusually HIGH self-esteem -- which is not at all consistent with them being "born into a particularly intense insecurity"

To be born into a minority group is, among other things, to be born into a collective experience of insecurity. Put differently, it is to be born into a group of nervous people. If you are born black in America, as has been my own fate, then you are born into a particularly intense insecurity. Your people have known almost nothing but insecurity and impotence for centuries - this as opposed to the majority culture's experience of itself as heroic and world-beating; ingenious in peace, dominant in war.

One thing this means for minorities is that their group identity will often be the enemy of their individuality. In its insecurity, the group is naturally threatened by the impulse in some of its members to think for themselves. Individuals like this seem to put the group at risk. What will we do if the majority culture thinks you speak for us? Your indulgence in individuality jeopardizes the carefully constructed mask we present to the powerful majority. Your individuality collaborates with them. So knock it off. Get in line, or we will shun you to the point of extinction.

Moreover, only blacks who wear the group's mask can pronounce on the innocence of whites. Thus Don Imus, longing for absolution, sought an audience with Al Sharpton. Ward Connerly or Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice - individuals all - would never do. People who veer from the group mask - who evolve by their own lights - start to lose their moral authority as blacks. This is why President Bush got no credit for having two black secretaries of state. Naively he selected two black individuals.

Still, the black individual is now emerging as something of a new archetype in American life - not someone who disowns his group but someone who rejects it as a master. Today there is no more quintessential embodiment of this new archetype than Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. And now - in his new memoir, My Grandfather's Son - Justice Thomas offers up the rich details of his remarkable and often heroic struggle to become a man who simply thinks for himself. He says, "The question was how much courage I could muster up to express my individuality. What I wanted was for everyone - the government, the racists, the activists, the students, even Daddy - to leave me alone so that I could finally start thinking for myself."

This memoir is really two books in one. The first chronicles his struggle to become his own man; the second describes the persecution this achievement elicits. A line he quotes from Ralph Ellison points to the cause-and-effect connection between these two books: "I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest."

Because this first book is a story of overcoming it calls to mind those great inspiring autobiographies of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Richard Wright. But Thomas's overcoming is a more existential struggle than the struggles of these other men. Like them he contends with racism, especially in his early life, but unlike them he wants something more than just a victory over racism. There are other forces - benign and malign - that threaten to take him over, and he struggles mightily to ward them off.

There was the radical black-power politics he encountered in college. There were the dreams that his powerful and controlling grandfather had for him (to be the first black priest in Savannah). There was the stigma that affirmative action left on his achievements at Yale Law School and the relentless paternalism of post-'60s liberalism that would have allowed him to lower his standards. And there was even the allure of money and security - "golden handcuffs" - when he worked briefly as a corporate lawyer.

So My Grandfather's Son is a more radical memoir than its forebears, because it envisions an almost heroic individualism - an individualism that is quite beyond the old framework of race. Thomas mentions in passing that he listens to country music. "Merely because I was black, it seemed, I was supposed to listen to Hugh Masekela instead of Carole King, just as I was expected to be a radical, not a conservative." This book stands for what might be called a non-binding racial identity - an open-minded black identity that informs but never constrains. This is what Thomas demands for himself and holds out for other blacks - this in an age of identity politics when the black identity is so closed-minded and narrowly defined that it requires a reflexive devotion to the Democratic party.


The racial thinking that undergirds My Grandfather's Son makes it an original addition to those great black autobiographies of the past. It updates the black American experience by presuming freedom and opportunity more than racism. And, in the end, it is a lesson on how to live in freedom - a lesson that begins with a description of poverty on a par with Richard Wright's portrait of poverty in Black Boy.

However, Thomas first describes his very earliest years in Pin Point, Ga., as something of an idyll. The reader is made to understand that when poverty is rural and close to the ground - close to land and water - it can have a certain bountifulness and peace. But when Thomas is six, he and his younger brother are taken to Savannah to live in a broken-down tenement building with their overwhelmed young mother who has been abandoned by her husband. Here, all of a sudden, is rank urban poverty - despair, hunger, and abandonment. Thomas describes his hunger as a second-grader: "Never before had I known the nagging, chronic hunger that plagued me in Savannah. Hunger without the prospect of eating and cold without the prospect of warmth - that's how I remember the winter of 1955." The nadir of this period in his life comes when he stumbles while carrying a chamber pot down stairs - there are no inside bathrooms - and finds himself drenched by its contents.

Thomas and his younger brother are saved from this Dickensian circumstance by the man whom Thomas describes simply as "the greatest man I have ever known" - their grandfather, Myers Anderson, who takes them in and raises them into adulthood. "Daddy," as they come to call him, is an extraordinary man whose force of character animates this entire memoir and - as its title makes clear - accounts for the man that Clarence Thomas is today. Daddy - a man given to unceasing hard work who owns his own fuel-oil business - immediately subjects the two boys to a regime of sacrifice (no school sports, very little TV), self-development, and hard work that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Two boys who had seemed destined for lives of self-destruction and crime were transformed by a grandfather who showed his love through discipline.

Daddy's answer to the poverty and desolation of black Savannah is the unrelenting application of individual will. His was the classic American ethic of faith in God, delayed gratification, self-reliance, and individual initiative. And here we see the source of Justice Thomas's inbred conservatism. Even in college, though lending an ear to black radicalism, he rooms by himself in his senior year so that he can rise at three in the morning to study without disturbing a roommate. (He achieves almost every academic honor Holy Cross has to offer.) At Yale Law School he immediately takes the most difficult courses available in order to prove to himself that he is, in fact, competitive with his privileged white classmates.

If there is a romance in Clarence Thomas's life it is the thrill of starting at the bottom - a faith that makes every step forward a victory. This is the poor man's great excitement. Thus he is heartbroken when it becomes clear that Yale is practicing affirmative action. Outraged, he considers dropping out. Only the realization that he and his wife have a baby on the way keeps him at Yale. Yet, from then on he feels stigmatized by Yale's use of racial preferences. He also feels robbed of credit for his achievements there. And his bitterness only deepens when he realizes that the wider world also sees black graduates differently: Employers suspect that racial preferences, rather than talent, had won them the Yale imprimatur.

And here Thomas's life begins to touch on the absurd. He is a young man raised to fight the dehumanization of segregation by identifying with the all-American ethic of self-reliance. His grandfather instinctively understood that the deepest challenge of black life was to overcome dependency with self-reliance. Segregation and slavery were dependency. Freedom and equality were self-reliance. And then Yale University - out of the most pernicious self-absorption - takes a young man schooled in this ethic and plunges him back into dependency. Yale happily taints Clarence Thomas's achievements and deflates his self-esteem in its rush to appear innocent of racism. In the end, Yale disallows black self-reliance and reinforces the same black dependency that segregation imposed.

This, then, is the existential source of Thomas's famous anger. Every achievement he earns is made to stink of white paternalism. His grandfather had a better chance to be his own man than he does.


And then there is today's callow and sycophantic black leadership that actually sells black dependency as a white opportunity for moral deliverance. In the very bowels of slavery there was never a more egregious form of Uncle Tomism than this determination, even in the midst of freedom, to portray one's own people as nearly helpless victims.

So, understandably, as Thomas's career advances, the two great themes of his life - will and individuality - begin to get him in trouble. The story of the persecution that haunts his entire career in Washington makes up the second book within this memoir. By the time Thomas becomes chairman of the EEOC in the Reagan administration, he has become openly conservative. The tale of his outing as a conservative in the Washington Post by journalist Juan Williams describes that moment when his carefully evolved individuality - his habit of thinking for himself - first clashes with the insecurity of his group. After this he never really knows peace again.

Clarence Thomas undergoes five confirmation hearings in ten years. And these hearings turn out to be the perfect platforms for the broader clash between a collective black insecurity and the willful individuality of this single black man. The civil-rights establishment - the very voice of black insecurity - despises him from the beginning. He inspires a kind of hysteria in them, and they come after him with a ferocity they would likely never muster for a white man. There simply could be no greater threat to civil-rights organizations than the themes that most animate Thomas's life: individuality and will. This establishment sees individual will as a futility in a racist society, and thinks of individuality as selfishness at best and group betrayal at worst.

But the civil-rights establishment does not account for what happened in Thomas's final confirmation hearing. Here persecution turned into crucifixion. Thomas himself says that abortion was the underlying issue that turned this hearing into a "high-tech lynching." This makes sense. For all his trouble with the civil-rights organizations, it is hard to imagine that they would display this level of moral and human blindness toward a black man. It is also hard to imagine - given the stereotypes surrounding black sexuality - that they would trot out a black woman to make sexual charges against a black man before the entire nation. If the civil-rights establishment was guilty of anything in this debacle, it was that they had made Thomas vulnerable by signaling to the world that he was an Uncle Tom. This made him fair game for liberals and feminists to attack with impunity. Here was a black man who could be openly sacrificed without repercussions - in an era of politically correct reverence for blacks generally.

Thomas convincingly denies all of Anita Hill's charges in this memoir. He also makes clear what her motives might be - his failure to promote her at one point, her ongoing career frustration, her unrequited fascination with him. He traces the "Long Dong Silver" reference back to an EEOC sexual-harassment case that Anita Hill used in her own research on sexual harassment.

But, in the end, Thomas was made to suffer this ignominious ordeal because of his lifelong struggle to become his own man, like his grandfather before him. He comes from a group that is - at least in its leadership - too insecure at the moment to countenance this degree of individuality and personal responsibility. And so he lost the protection of his group in a multiracial society and, thus, became vulnerable to other groups. (He became a poor black man nailed to the cross by wealthy white women.) This is how he paid for the individuality that he had nurtured in himself all his life. And, like much else in his life, it was a hard-earned individuality. I have often said that Clarence Thomas is the freest black man in America. He is clearly the first black American of his generation to become - openly and irrefutably - an individual. He is now an archetype that will inspire others. I can think of no greater achievement.


The Race for the American Mind

Last year's scamnesty bill had widespread support among the powers-that-be, with the president, the Democrat majority and mainstream media all singing its praises. Yet it went down to defeat, slain by a new-media coalition of talk radio and blogosphere warriors. Working tirelessly to expose the truth and rally the grassroots, they became a David who slew a Goliath.

Forty-three years ago it was a different world. Ted Kennedy had co-authored the "Immigration Reform Act of 1965," which created a situation wherein 85 percent of our immigrants hail from the Third World and Asia. He took to the Senate floor, claimed his brainchild wouldn't change the demographic composition of the nation and passed the culture-rending bill under the cover of darkness.

This darkness was not absence of light but that of truth; it was a media blackout. With no Internet and little talk radio, mainstream journalists had a monopoly over the hearts and minds of America. And they knew best. The little people didn't have to worry their pretty little heads about actions that would forever alter the face of the nation. This is why the old media fears the new one. The latter watches the watchers, polices the police. It has cut into the Rathersphere's market, causing a diminution of circulation, viewership and - this is what really gets their collars up -- power. They can no longer propagandize with Tass-like impunity, for the e-hills have eyes.

Yet this is no time for a victory dance. The new media is under attack, as the left aims to silence dissent before it grows strong enough to block the thought police's coup de grace. This is the race for the American mind. And we are losing.

The attack upon free expression is more varied than one may think, but I'll start with the obvious. Most have heard of the euphemistically-named "Fairness Doctrine," which would essentially eliminate traditionalist talk radio. People such as Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage may then be relegated to satellite - assuming they're willing to leap into the ether - and its far smaller audience.

Then we have hate speech laws, which empower governments to punish people of politically incorrect passions. In Europe, Canada and elsewhere, average citizens have suffered persecution for criticizing homosexuality and Islam and voicing other unfashionable truths. And as hate speech laws become more entrenched and accepted, the list of taboos of the tongue grows longer - and more widespread. They're coming soon to a theater of social operations near you.

And these laws are netting the famous as well as the anonymous. Two Canadian "Human Rights Commissions" are investigating columnist Mark Steyn and the country's bestselling news magazine, Macleans, because it published an excerpt from Steyn's book containing criticism of Islam. In Britain in 2003, Scotland Yard launched an investigation of colorful commentator Taki Theodoracopulos - not for using more letters in a name than one ought - but for "inciting racial hatred" by writing that most criminals in northern English cities were black thugs who belonged to gangs. Across the North Sea in Germany, a leftist politician filed charges against the citizen encyclopedia "Wikipedia" because one of its entries contained too much Nazi symbolism. Here's the kicker: It was a piece about the Hitler Youth. Then there's Jewish historian Arno Lustiger, who filed a lawsuit in Germany against Vanity Fair magazine because it published an interview with a neo-Nazi.

While the stout-hearted Mark Steyn won't end up cooling his heels or capitulating, the same cannot be said of everyone. Wikipedia caved quickly and altered its content, and, although we can expect greater fortitude from more professional operations, the implications are ominous. As such investigations, charges and lawsuits become more prevalent and start to stick, the media will be increasingly gun shy about publishing politically incorrect views. Fewer and fewer will deviate from the new Tass line, until news and commentary are banal, barren and bereft of truth.

Surely, though, some of the millions of blogs and other Internet sources would not be cowed, and it would be hard to arrest every one of their operators. But the government won't have to. There's more than one way to skin a Constitution. While the Internet seems like a wild and woolly land of bits and bytes, just as information can be transmitted at the touch of a button, so can it be suppressed. Remember, when spreading your message, you're at the mercy of an Internet Service Provider (ISP), hosting company and, to a lesser extent, services that disseminate information, such as search engines. And as these businesses have already proven, they're more interested in currency than current events.

Consider Google's well-publicized capitulation to communist China. Using a filter known informally as "The Great Firewall of China," the search engine's Chinese version censors information about the independence movement in Tibet, the Tiananmen Square protests and anything else China's commissars find objectionable. It seems like Google's motto "Don't be evil" should have a corollary: "But cooperating with it is fine." It should be noted that Google censors information in its German and French searches as well (and probably elsewhere). Then there's Google's subsidiary YouTube. Early last year it agreed to remove a video Turks found objectionable after a court in Turkey ordered that the site should be blocked in that nation. It took YouTube all of two days to say mercy.

But direct government action isn't necessary for censorship, as social pressure often suffices. In fact, the private sector often enforces "hate speech" codes even where states do not, such as here in the US. In 2006, pundit Michelle Malkin's mini-movie "First, They Came"-- it showcases victims of Islamic violence -- was deleted by YouTube after being "flagged" as inappropriate. Malkin isn't alone, either, as other anti-Islamism crusaders have not only had videos pulled, but accounts suspended as well.

Getting back to Google, it has also been censoring traditionalist websites from its news search for quite some time now; entities such as The New Media Journal, Michnews.com and The Jawa Report have been victims, just to name a few. While these information sources can still be accessed, such censorship takes its toll. When the most powerful search engine in the world strikes you from its news service, it reduces both your readership and the amount of information at users' fingertips.

Censorship threatens individual activism as well. There are now countless everyday folks who disseminate information via email, sometimes to thousands of recipients. It's a quick, efficient and, most importantly, free way to sound the alarm about matters of import. Yet email is far from sacrosanct. Social commentators Dr. David Yeagley and Amil Imani had their MSN Hotmail accounts terminated for criticizing Islam. Then there are the proposals to tax or levy fees on email, a truly stifling measure. It would make bulk transmissions prohibitively expensive for the average citizen, thereby robbing him of a resonant Web voice.

It doesn't take the prescience of Nostradamus to project into the future. If political correctness continues to capture minds and hearts, the pressure - both governmental and social - to call truth "hate speech" and censor it will continue to grow. What happens when search engines not only purge traditionalist dissent from their news services, but also their search results? What about when sites won't publish such content for fear of being swept away in the ideological cleansing? These entities will fold like a laptop.

It could reach a point where ISPs won't service you if you send the "wrong" kinds of emails and will block "hateful" sites. Don't forget that "access forbidden" prompt. At the end of the day - and it may be the end of days - hosting companies may just decide that such sites' business is no longer welcome, and registrars may even freeze their domains (a hosting company provides a site's "edifice"; a domain is its "address"). They may be consigned to Internet oblivion.

While these forces march on, we "haters" are busy educating more people every day about the their nature. This brings us to the race for the American mind. If we could influence enough citizens to reject political correctness and oust public officials who serve its ends - if we could sufficiently transform the culture - the dropping of this iron muzzle could be forestalled. By spreading the truth we could ensure that the thought police wouldn't succeed in suppressing it.

But there's a reason why I phrased that in the subjunctive. We are losing. Education isn't easy when people aren't listening. A great victory for the left is that it has dumbed-down civilization, making people lovers of frivolity and vice, comfortably numb. It has created legions of disengaged, apathetic hedonists who wouldn't read a piece of commentary if it was pasted to a stripper. Such people can be led by the nose and, when they occasionally notice the goings-on in their midst, will welcome the silencing of the "haters."

And what of us -- you? If you are a "hater," your voice will grow fainter, fainter, fainter . . .. Toward the end, perhaps when tired and old, you'll have no recourse but to mount a soapbox and preach on some busy corner, as people nervously avert their eyes or measure you up for a straightjacket. That is, until the men in white coats or black uniforms come and take you to a happy place, or a sad one, the last stop in this world for recalcitrants.


The Origin of Religious Tolerance: Voltaire

In 1733, the philosopher who has been credited with ushering in the French Enlightenment, Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, published a pivotal work entitled Letters Concerning the English Nation. Although written in French, the twenty-four letters first issued from London in an English translation, because the material was considered too politically dangerous to the author and to whomever printed it for the work to appear in France.

Voltaire was no stranger to such controversy. Some years before, after being beaten up by the hirelings of an aristocrat whom he had offended, Voltaire had been thrown into the Bastille (for the second time). He had been released after pledging to stay at least fifty leagues away from Paris. Voltaire chose to go as far as England, where he stayed for roughly two and a half years. The result of the sojourn was the Letters on English religion and politics, which finally appeared in France in 1734 as Lettres philosophiques, or Philosophical Letters.

Written as though to explain English society to a friend back in France, Letter Five, On the Church of England, began with the observation, "This is the country of sects. An Englishman, as a freeman, goes to Heaven by whatever road he pleases." The statement had profound implications for any citizen of France-a nation that had almost destroyed itself in order to establish Catholicism as the only practiced religion.

In the next paragraph of Letter Five, Voltaire pursued a theme that contributed heavily to the danger of publishing his work in France. He examined the intellectual and institutional foundation of England's religious tolerance. He rejected a political explanation. Referring to the established Church of England, he acknowledged that politics strongly favored prejudice rather than tolerance. He wrote, "No one can hold office in England or in Ireland unless he is a faithful Anglican." Such political exclusion hardly promoted religious good will. Nor did the religious preaching of the dominant church lead the nation toward toleration. According to Voltaire, the Anglican clergy worked "up in their flocks as much holy zeal against nonconformists as possible." Yet, in recent decades, the "fury of the sects" "went no further than sometimes breaking the windows of heretical chapels."

What, then, accounted for the extreme religious toleration in the streets of London as compared to those of Paris? In Letter Six, On The Presbyterians Voltaire ascribed the "peace" in which "they lived happily together" to a mechanism that was a pure expression of the free market-the London stock exchange. In the most famous passage from Philosophical Letters, Voltaire observed, "Go into the Exchange in London, that place more venerable than many a court, and you will see representatives of all the nations assembled there for the profit of mankind. There the Jew, the Mahometan, and the Christian deal with one another as if they were of the same religion, and reserve the name of infidel for those who go bankrupt."

Legally and historically, England was not a bastion of religious toleration: laws against nonconformists and atheists were still in force. Yet in England, and not in France, there was an air of toleration on the street level which existed quite apart from what the law said. Moreover, even though both countries had aristocracies, England was not burdened with the unyielding class structure that crippled social and economic mobility in France. As Voltaire wrote in Letter Nine, On the Government, "You hear no talk in this country [England] of high, middle, and low justice, nor of the right of hunting over the property of a citizen who himself has not the liberty of firing a shot in his own field."

A key to the difference between England and France lay in the English system of commerce and in the comparatively high regard in which the English held their merchants. In France, aristocrats and the other elites of society regarded those in commerce, or in trade, with unalloyed contempt. In Letter Ten, On Commerce, Voltaire pointedly commented upon the French attitude, "The merchant himself so often hears his profession spoken of disdainfully that he is fool enough to blush." Yet, in England, the "merchant justly proud" compares himself "not without some reason, to a Roman citizen." Indeed, the younger sons of nobility often entered commerce or took up a profession. This difference in attitude was a large factor in explaining the extraordinary rise of the English middle class, their wealth deriving from trading endeavors. Indeed, the French often derided England as a nation of shop keepers. Voltaire thought this was a compliment, observing that if the English were able to sell themselves, it proved that they were are worth something.

Commerce, or shop keeping, established an arena within which people dealt with each other solely for economic benefit and, so, ignored extraneous factors such as the other party's religious practices. On the floor of the London stock exchange, religious differences disappeared into background noise as people scrambled to make a profit from each other. The economic self-interest of the Christian and the Jew outweighed the prejudice that might otherwise sour personal relations between them. They intersected and co-operated on a point of common interest: "the Presbyterian trusts the Anabaptist, and the Church of England man accepts the promise of the Quaker."

Ironically, Voltaire singled out for praise precisely the same aspect of commerce-the London stock exchange-that the later theorist Karl Marx condemned. Both viewed the market place as impersonal or, in more negative Marxist terms, a dehumanizing factor. In the market place, people often to be individuals who were expressing their humanity and became interchangeable units who bought and sold. To Voltaire, the impersonal nature of trade was a good thing. It allowed people to disregard the divisive human factors that had historically disrupted society, such as differences of religion and class. The very fact that a Christian who wished to profit from a Jew, and vice versa, had to disregard the personal characteristics of the other party and deal with him on a basis of some civility was what recommended the London stock exchange to Voltaire.

In this, Voltaire's voice is reminiscent of the political philosopher Adam Smith in his most popular work Wealth of Nations. Smith outlined how everyone in a civilized market society was dependent upon the cooperation of multitudes even though the people he chose as friends might not number more than a dozen or so. A market place required the participation of throngs of people, most of whom are never directly encountered. Under such anonymous circumstances, it would be folly for any man to expect multitudes of strangers to benefit him out of sheer benevolence or because they personally liked him. The cooperation of the butcher or the brewer was ensured by their simple self-interest. Thus, those who entered the market place did not need the approval or favor of those with whom they dealt. They needed only to pay their bills.

The toleration created by the London Stock Exchange extended far beyond the doors of that institution. After conducting business with each other, the Christian and the Jew went their separate ways. As Voltaire phrased it, "On leaving these peaceable and free assemblies, some go to the synagogue, others in search of a drink..." In the end, "all are satisfied."

The Philosophical Letters-Voltaire's tribute to the English middle class, their commerce and their society-created an enormous impact on the European intellectual scene. Calling the Letters "a declaration of war and a map of campaign", the contemporary philosopher Will Durant commented: "Rousseau said of these letters that they played a large part in the awakening of his mind; there must have been thousands of young Frenchmen who owed the book a similar debt. Lafayette said it made him a republican at the age of nine. Heine thought `it was not necessary for the censor to condemn this book; it would have been read without that'".

Nevertheless, French censors seemed eager to condemn the Philosophical Letters. The printer was imprisoned in the Bastille. A lettre de cachet for the elusive Voltaire's immediate arrest was issued. By an order of Parliament, all known copies of the work were confiscated and burned in front of the Palais de Justice. Through the intercession of powerful friends, the lettre de cachet against Voltaire was withdrawn, again on the promise that he remain safely outside the limits of Paris. In this manner did the French church and state respond to Voltaire's salute to toleration.

But the themes of the Philosophical Letters resounded deeply within the consciousness of Europe for many decades to come. One of its themes was that freedom-especially freedom of commerce-was the true wellspring of religious toleration and of a peaceful civil society. The insight was nothing short of revolutionary because it reversed the traditionally accepted argument and policies on how to create a harmonious society. Traditionally, France (along with most other European nations) had attempted to enforce a homogeneous system of values upon its people in the belief that common values were necessary to ensure peace and harmony. Common values were seen to be the social glue that held together the social fabric. This was particularly true of religious values.

This was not a moral argument, but a practical one: society would collapse into open violence without the cohesion provided by common values. Thus, those in authority needed to centrally plan and rigorously enforce the values that should be taught to and should be practiced by the common people. After all, if people were allowed to choose and practice their own religious values, if values became a commodity open to competition, then civil chaos and conflict would inevitably ensue.

Voltaire argued that precisely the opposite was true. The process of imposing homogeneous values led only to conflict and religious wars. The society that resulted from such a process was intellectually stagnant and morally corrupt, because no questions or dissent were permitted. Instead of homogeneity and control, it was diversity and freedom that created a thriving and peaceful society. Voltaire ended his most quoted letter, On the Presbyterians with the observation: "If there were only one religion in England, there would be danger of tyranny; if there were two, they would cut each other's throats; but there are thirty, and they live happily together in peace."

Perhaps one reason that Voltaire's Philosophical Letters created such a backlash from the leviathan French state was that the logic its arguments, if carried beyond religion, struck a blow at any attempt by government to impose common values or common practices on the people. Indeed, Voltaire's argument against homogeneity continues to have deep implications for the centralized policies of all governments. Those citizens who reject homogeneity in religion are naturally led to question the wisdom of many other government institutions, e.g. public schooling, which are often justified by the declared need for common values. The freedom of individuals to decide for themselves what is valuable could easily lead them to demand the right to live according to those values and to teach them to their children. It could lead to an unraveling of centralized control.



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

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

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


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Monday, January 14, 2008

Knife stuck into violence theory

Are movies such as Hannibal and the remake of Halloween, which serve up murder and mutilation as routine fare, actually making us safer? A paper presented by two researchers at the weekend to the annual meeting of the American Economic Association challenges the conventional wisdom, concluding that violent films prevent violent crime by attracting would-be assailants and keeping them cloistered in darkened, alcohol-free environs.

Instead of fuelling up at bars and looking for trouble, potential criminals pass the time eating popcorn and watching celluloid villains slay in their stead. "You're taking a lot of violent people off the streets and putting them inside movie theatres," said the lead author of the study, Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego. "In the short run, if you take away violent movies, you're going to increase violent crime."

Mr Dahl and the paper's other author, Stefano DellaVigna, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, attach precise numbers to their argument. Over the last decade, they said, the showing of violent films in the US had decreased assaults by an average of about 1000 a weekend, or 52,000 a year. Crime was not just delayed until after the credits, they said. On the Monday and Tuesday after packed weekend showings of violent films, there was no spike in violent crime to compensate for the peaceful hours at the movies. Even a few weeks later, there was no resurgence, they said.

"There are hundreds of studies done by numerous research groups around the world that show that media violence exposure increases aggressive behaviour," said Craig Anderson, a psychologist and director of the Centre for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University. "People learn from every experience in life, and that learning occurs at a very basic level of brain function."

The study's authors acknowledge their research does not refute and in fact supports the findings of laboratory studies. Neither does it address the long-term effects of exposure to violent media, an influence they view as pernicious. Rather, the research uses a decade of national crime reports, cinema ratings and movie audience data to examine what has happened to rates of violent crime during and immediately after violent films are shown.


Mind Forg'd Manacles

By Theodore Dalrymple

The Left's belief in the helplessness of the poor is a self-fulfilling prophecy

I have long sought the perfect distillation of the worldview that I oppose, for without such an expression, I have sometimes worried that I am fighting a straw man. But as is often the way, we find what we most seek where we least look, or do not expect, to find it. Recently, I read [included below this article] a collection of essays by the East German writer Christa Wolf, which she wrote in the immediate aftermath of German reunification. Wolf had been an equivocal figure, part dissident, part court critic of the regime. Her reputation suffered when it came to light that as a young woman she had informed for the Stasi. The relevance of this deed to her stature as a writer is not clear.

Wolf's collection includes a letter that she received from the prominent left-leaning West German philosopher Jrgen Habermas about the problems of reunification. Habermas displays a certain verbal flatulence, an unwillingness to use one word where ten will do, as well as a fear of clarity (for clarity is what reveals one's banality). But one passage stood out-the perfect distillation that I had been looking for:
Have we already accepted living with an underclass that includes 20 to 30 percent of the population? Will we too close our eyes to a structural minority of helpless people whose only remaining means of protest is self-destruction and who have no chance of changing their situation by their own efforts?
Habermas's concern for people at the bottom of the social hierarchy does him credit: it is indeed easy and tempting to disregard such people, and I sense that his concern is genuine. Yet there is something profoundly dehumanizing about his characterization of the problem. What he is saying is that up to 25 million people in Germany exercise no choice at all in their lives, at least over anything other than their means of self-destruction. They are not full human beings, as we are: they are as helpless as inanimate objects.

What Habermas fails to recognize is that self-destruction-which he correctly implies has reached epidemic proportions among a segment of the population-grows out of attitudes to life, beliefs, and mentalities; it is not a mechanical response to a mechanical problem. And one of the beliefs that favors self-destruction is that no alternative to it is possible, because the world is so constituted, at least until the people's saviors gain power, that one's choices make no difference to the course of one's life. This is precisely the belief that Habermas seeks to promote. But it is not true, at least in minimally open societies, as the success of various minorities demonstrates. Habermas and those who think like him are thus purveyors of Blake's "mind forg'd manacles" that lead to so much misery in the midst of plenty.


Britain has changed but its values must endure

Britain is now a pluralist society: it is a country of people who have come from many different traditions and backgrounds, and who espouse different religious beliefs or none at all. But Britain still remains a liberal democracy governed by a single set of laws - laws whose roots lie in the Christian tradition that helped to form our moral values and culture.

There is much to celebrate in the diversity of the people who make up today's Britain, and in the dynamism and richness that diversity has brought to this country. But does it also pose a threat to the primacy of the Christian tradition, and even to a single, unified set of laws based on a liberal, tolerant political outlook? Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, believes that it may have precisely that consequence, and he expresses his forthright views in The Sunday Telegraph today.

Bishop Nazir-Ali's concern that the rapidity and scale of immigration, together with the policy of multiculturalism, threaten Britain's Christian heritage are echoed by the Church of England General Synod, a majority of which worries that large-scale immigration is "diluting the Christian nature of Britain".

It is not necessary to endorse all of Bishop Nazir-Ali's analysis to recognise that the scale and speed of immigration into Britain in recent years has indeed caused some serious social problems. Although those problems have long been at the top of voters' concerns, it has, until recently, been almost impossible to raise, let alone discuss, them in public: to do so risked being labelled "racist", a charge that has worked very effectively to shut down any further debate.

We believe that the root of the problems that have been caused, or at least exacerbated, by rapid mass immigration - including stresses and strains on the availability of publicly-funded goods, such as education, health and council housing - is less the scale and speed of immigration itself than the way Governments of all stripes have dealt with it. The policy of multiculturalism, which for decades has been the officially-sanctioned policy for immigrants, has actively worked against integrating new arrivals into British culture, traditions and values.

The model has not been the melting pot but the mosaic: instead of co-opting newcomers into the values of toleration, secular democracy and respect for the law as made by Parliament and interpreted by the judiciary, multiculturalism has encouraged immigrants to form their monocultural islands of belief and tradition, in which they reproduce their own values, regardless of whether they are inimical to the British way of doing things.

In 2008, it is not necessary to be Christian to enjoy the full liberties of the British subject (and it has not been for at least 150 years). Although it may be the result of a Christian heritage, the British way of doing things today has little to do with commitment to a specific religion: those of different faiths, whether Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or whatever, are of course full members of any British society that is worth having and preserving. What is required, however, is commitment to the democratic procedures by which law is made in Britain, and to the laws those procedures produce.

That is not a commitment that excludes much - but it does exclude the idea that all "man-made", as opposed to "God-made", law is illegitimate. So it excludes, for example, the narrow theocratic extremism of the Islamist sects that insist that only laws which derive from the Koran or Islamic tradition should be obeyed or enforced, and that they must be allowed to rule their own communities by Koranic law.

Multiculturalism allowed narrow theocratic extremism of that kind to flourish in Britain. The Government has finally realised that this was a mistake, and has promised new policies based around inculcating "British values". That is a huge improvement on multi-culturalism, which did not even insist that immigrants learn English. But it has yet to dismantle the enormous bureaucracy dedicated to promoting multiculturalism, or the jobs of the thousands of officials that depend on it.

Until it does so, separateness will continue to flourish - as will its potentially calamitous consequences for the integration of immigrants into Britain.


The importance of economics

A book review of "Economic Facts and Fallacies" by Thomas Sowell

AT SOME point in the past 20 years the interested amateur began to struggle to keep up with economic theory. It was just too hard to enjoy the latest academic work unless you had a head for higher mathematics. Recently, however, some writers, notably Paul Krugman in the New York Times, have been trying to drag economics back into the mainstream. The subject needs to stay there. As Thomas Sowell, a professor at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, argues, economics lies at the heart of many political issues.

In a sense, much of what Mr Sowell writes here is predictable. Once you know he is a paid-up member of the free-market school of economics, you can glance at the chapter headings of his book and guess what he is going to say. In "Male-Female Facts and Fallacies" he suggests that women are less discriminated against than is commonly assumed. The chapter on race makes the same argument for ethnic minorities, while his coverage of income distribution concludes that the trend towards widening inequality has been overstated. Mr Sowell believes that governments make matters worse; programmes that subsidise tuition fees at universities, for example, simply allow colleges to charge more. All in all, where there is a left-wing or statist view of economics, he would like to demolish it.

That said, Mr Sowell marshals his arguments with admirable clarity and authority. There is not a chapter in which he does not produce a statistic that both surprises and overturns received wisdom. In discussing whether women are discriminated against in the workplace, he cites a study which found, as far back as 1969, that women academics who never married earned more than male academics of similar standing. Today, never-married, childless, university-educated American women of between 40 and 64 earn $7,000 a year more than similar men. No explanation for this positive gap is forthcoming. But at the very least, it suggests that, where women do earn less, it is due more to rational factors (such as their unwillingness to work long hours) than to sexism.

Any student of public policy ought to reflect hard on some of the author's numbers. The riots that took place in black areas of 1960s America did not occur where the population was most oppressed or impoverished; it was only afterwards, as businesses fled, that the places in which riots had happened turned into economic disaster areas. Moreover, the greatest reductions in black poverty occurred between 1940 and 1960, well before the civil-rights reforms introduced by the Johnson administration.

However, Mr Sowell, who is black himself, occasionally overreaches in his attempts to shock his fellow citizens. He cites a study which argues that what looks like discrimination against blacks might turn out to be the result of employers rewarding workers with greater cognitive skills. But he does not pause to reflect that this skill gap, if it really exists, may be the result of discrimination at an earlier stage of life; in other words, in the education system. Many people will be infuriated by the arguments in this book. But it would still do them good to read it.



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

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

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


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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Slovenian Journalists Speak Out Against EU Censorship

Post below lifted from Gates of Vienna. See the original for links

I have written before about Slovenia, which seems to be the Denmark of Southern Europe: refreshingly anti-PC, non-Multicultural, and resistant to Islamization. Slovenia's collective behavior has caused it to be reprimanded by the European Union for being insufficiently sensitive to designated victim groups, such as Muslims.

Slovenia is about to assume the rotating presidency of the EU, and Slovenian journalists are acting like their cousins to the north: they're protesting against the attempt by the mandarins of Brussels to squelch free speech. According to ANSAmed:
EU: Slovenian Journalists Sign Open Anti-Censorship Letter

Nearly 600 Slovenian journalists signed an open letter against censorship and political pressure, which was sent at the end of 2007 to more than 300 government leaders in the European Union, international organisations and newspapers, among others, on the eve of Slovenia's assumption of the EU rotating presidency. In the open letter, the 571 signatories refer to the petition signed last autumn and presented on October 16 to Slovenia's National Assembly. The signatories of the open letter point out that three months since the petition was tabled nothing has been done in order to verify the accusations made in the document against political interference with the media. "The EU is presided by a country, in which 571 signatories have launched an alarm against censorship and political pressure, but the government and Parliament of which reject any dialogue with the journalists," the open letter reads.

Organized feminists are so far Left that they even hate to hear of successful women -- if the women are Israelis

Post below lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

A press release from the American Jewish Congress reports that the group tried to buy an ad in Ms. Magazine but was unable to do so. Your first thought may be, Of course they were unable to do so--this is 2008, not 1972. But as improbable as it may seem, Ms. still exists, and the AJC says it refused to accept the ad, which depicts Israel's Supreme Court chief, foreign minister and Knesset speaker, all of whom are female, over the large caption "This is Israel."

According to the AJC statement, the congress was told by someone at Ms. "that publishing the ad 'will set off a firestorm' and that 'there are very strong opinions' on the subject." Ms. readers are delicate flowers, aren't they? But the Jewish Telegraphic Agency heard a different story:
Ms. magazine's executive editor, Kathy Spillar, disputes [AJC's] version, telling JTA the ad showed political support for one of Israel's parties and thus violated magazine standards. "We only take mission-driven ads," Spillar said. "Because two of the women in this ad were from the same political party," that showed favoritism, and the magazine's policy is not to get involved in the domestic politics of another country.
We'll leave it to others to sort this out. We're just jealous that in this day and age Ms. can actually afford to turn down ads!


Anyone who has been alive for the past 100 years knows Helen Thomas. Well Helen is almost 90 years old, but she's still our dear, sweet Helen. Can't help it .. I like her, but any pretense that she is an objective journalist was abandoned sometime around the Harding administration. Aunt Helen is now telling us that bloggers are causing the "deterioration" of journalism. Furthermore, these nasty bloggers got us into the Iraq war.

Well there ya go. No wonder Bush wanted to move her to the back row. Helen says that everyone with a laptop thinks that he/she is a journalist. Well maybe that is true for some. I know my role though. No pretext at objectivity here. I'm just a puddin' stirrer.

This is where Helen shows that she is part of the old guard. She says that bloggers "certainly don't have our standards and they don't have our ethics ..." OK ... fine. Maybe so, maybe not. I'll tell you what they do have, Aunt Helen. They have the freedom to put their thoughts down on paper and to publish them for the world to read if they chose to do so. We have not reached the point where we are going to established some government agency to decide who can express their thoughts and opinions in writing, and who cannot. Maybe after Hillary moves into the White House .. but not yet.

How old is blogging? It's been around since the very beginning days of this country, and before. Perhaps, in spite of your government educations, you've heard of something called "The Federalist Papers." These were a series of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. These men were not journalists. They were citizens writing essays --- blogging, if you will --- in support of ratification of our Constitution. If the technology had been around you can rest assured that they would have posted their writings on the Internet .. .and there would be Helen Thomas deriding them for their efforts and their contributions to the "deterioration" of journalism.

Thank God we live in a country where anyone can express their opinion on any subject .. and then share those opinions with millions by simply posting them on the Internet. We read every day of totalitarian countries - China would be a good example - taking actions to suppress these expressions of private opinion. Come on, Aunt Helen ... maybe you might want to rethink your support of suppression rather than freedom of speech and the press.


Islam vs. Free Speech

Under assault by Muslims and multiculturalists, free speech and freedom of the press are dead in Britain. The same sorts of people who killed them in Britain are killing them in Canada. They and their allies are using the British and Canadian courts and tribunals to bury our First Amendment rights in America. Muslims -- individually and in pressure groups -- are using British libel laws and Canadian "human rights" laws to limit what is said about Islam, terrorists and the people in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who are funding groups such as al-Queda. The cases of Rachel Ehrenfeld and Mark Steyn prove the point.

Dr. Ehrenfeld is a scholar and author of the book, "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed, and How to Stop it." In that book, Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz -- a Saudi who is former head of the Saudi National Commercial Bank -- and some of his family are described as having funded terrorism directly and indirectly.

Ehrenfeld is American, her book was written and published in America and she has no business or other ties to Britain. Under American law, the Brit courts would have no jurisdiction over her. But about two-dozen copies of her book were sold there through the internet. Bin Mahfouz sued her for libel in the Brit courts where the burden of proof is the opposite of what it is in US courts: the author has to prove that what is written is true, rather than the supposedly defamed person proving it is false.

Think about that for a moment. Under the US Constitution political writing -- free speech -- is almost unlimited. To gain a libel judgment a politician -- or someone suspected of terrorist ties -- would have to prove that the story or book was false. If that person were a public figure such as Mahfouz, in order to get a libel judgment he'd not only have to prove that what was written was false, he'd also have to prove it was published maliciously.

Those American laws and standards of proof protect political speech. The First Amendment is intended to protect political speech that people find objectionable. In the landmark 1969 case of Brandenburg v. Ohio, the Supreme Court overturned an Ohio statute which would have outlawed hate speech by the Ku Klux Klan. That's why Mahfouz sued in Britain, not here.

Ehrenfeld refused to fight the case, saying the Brit courts have no jurisdiction over her. Mahfouz got a default judgment against her for 10,000 pounds (for himself, and in equal amounts for his sons). The judgment also requires that there be no further "defamatory" statements published in England and Wales. In a letter published in the Spectator on November 21, bin Mahfouz's lawyers gloated over their victory against Ehrenfeld: "Rather than check her facts, defend her statements in open court, or acknowledge her mistakes, Ehrenfeld hides behind a claim to free speech. Thank goodness, the legal lights remain on in Britain to expose such harmful journalism."

"Harmful journalism" is what tyrants and despots call free speech, especially political speech that condemns their affronts to freedom. The "legal lights" Mahfouz's lawyers see is the bonfire they made of the Magna Carta. Thanks to Mahfouz and his ilk, the light of free speech is extinguished in Britain. Consider the fate of the book, "Alms for Jihad."

In 2006 Cambridge University press published "Alms for Jihad." It's a highly detailed and apparently well-researched book that documents Saudi funding of terrorist groups (as well as other funding and the network of Islamic "charities" that contribute to terrorism). "Alms for Jihad" -- like Ehrenfeld's book -- documents bin Mahfouz's funding ties to terrorism, including to Usama bin Laden. But "Alms"-- in settlement of a libel suit by bin Mahfouz in the Brit courts -- was withdrawn from stores and libraries and unsold copies destroyed. The Saudi book burners won.

Mahfouz's case against Ehrenfeld has already done enormous harm in the US. Ehrenfeld told me she's unable to get book publishers to contract for another book. She said all of the major US publishing houses have turned down a book on the Muslim Brotherhood -- thought to have substantial terrorist ties -- and the Saudis' involvement in funding it.

If what Ehrenfeld writes about the Brotherhood offends Mahfouz or someone else whose ties to terrorism ought to be exposed, sales could be banned not only in Britain but in the entire European Union and the publisher -- and the author -- made liable for damages. Mahfouz -- using British courts that have no jurisdiction over American authors -- has apparently precluded Ehrenfeld from writing another book. Steyn's case is another instance of Muslims trying to silence "harmful journalism."

Mark Steyn's superb book, "America Alone", makes two important points: first, that the Muslim baby boom around the world will likely result in Christian nations becoming Muslim by weight of demographics; and second that Islam is a political system, not just a religion:

So it's not merely that there's a global jihad lurking within this religion, but that the religion itself is a political project and, in fact, an imperial project in a way that modern Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism are not. Furthermore, this particular religion is historically a somewhat bloodthirsty faith in which whatever's your bag violence-wise can almost certainly be justified.

Steyn's stance -- written by him and paralleled by other writers in the Canadian magazine, "Macleans" -- is the subject of a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission brought by three Muslim law students in Canada, with the apparent support of the Canadian Islamic Conference. That group is similar to the CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is a multiculti kangaroo court. The complaint against Macleans will be adjudicated next year, and findings entered against the magazine. (Steyn told me that the CHRC has granted 100% of the petitions brought to it so far.) What then? Fines and other sanctions will be entered against Macleans along with probable injunctions against further "harmful journalism" that offends Muslims. A case may be brought against Steyn himself later. Which means that he could be subjected to fines or other penalties in Canada for exercising his First Amendment rights in the US. And -- because American publishers look to Canada for about 10% of their sales -- Steyn may, like Ehrenfeld, find publishers unwilling to publish his work.

What has happened to Ehrenfeld and may happen to Steyn is in contravention of their First Amendment rights. No American court would or could do that. No foreign court or commission should be able to. US courts, and each of us who believes in free speech, must stand with both authors. US courts should make it clear that foreign libel judgments or "human rights" decisions that conflict with our First Amendment cannot be enforced.

Each and every presidential candidate should speak -- loudly and clearly -- against this encroachment of foreign law on the First Amendment. Anyone who doesn't stand forthrightly against these foreign infringements on Americans' Constitutional rights should receive neither our confidence nor our votes.

What Muslims such as Mahfouz and those complaining against Steyn are doing to destroy free speech overseas has been commenced here by groups such as CAIR. A few weeks ago, CAIR announced its media guide, which is purportedly corrects "misperceptions" about Islam and ".educate(s) the media and disabuse(s) journalists of misinformation." But the other aspect -- which I and others suspect -- is that it's not so much a guide as a set of rules against "harmful journalism." And those who write about terrorism, Saudi Arabia and Islam will be accused of intolerance and racism should they violate them.

We don't yet know what the CAIR guide says. I requested a copy of it from CAIR by e-mail, as they specified. I have neither received a copy nor received any response. I suspect CAIR wants to hide it from people who would scrutinize it. Having to operate under our Constitution, they will take a more indirect path than Mahfouz and the Canadian law students to preclude what they believe is "harmful journalism."



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

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

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


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Saturday, January 12, 2008

America's Nazi police again

For more instances of police misbehaviour, browse through the archives of this site -- e.g. here and here

The mother of an 11-year-old boy abducted by SWAT team members and taken to a hospital after he was bruised while horsing around is warning members of her community of the "Nazi" tactics she endured, including a statement from the officers that her "rights" were "only in the movies."

The case involves Jon Shiflet, who injured himself while trying to grab the handle of a door on a car his sister was driving. He slipped and fell to the pavement, hitting his head. His parents treated him for the injury and rejected paramedics' demands that they be allowed to take him to a hospital. Nearly 36 hours later, SWAT team members broke into the family home in western Colorado near New Castle and took Jon to a hospital, where a doctor said the family should keep ice on his bruise, exactly the treatment the family already had been providing.

Tina Shiflett, Jon's mother, has written a letter to the editor to a local newspaper, the Post Independent, "to awaken, alert and appall any who read it and hear the bells ringing." "A fully armed SWAT team broke into our home, slammed my children to the floor face down with their hands behind their backs and shoved a gun in my daughter's face and handcuffed her." her letter said.

In a separate letter to WND, she elaborated a little more fully. During the attack, she wrote, "One (officer) grabbed my daughter Beth (18 years), who also had a gun to her face, slammed her down and kneed her in the back and held her in that position. My sons Adam (14) and Noah (only 7) lay down willingly, yet they were still forced to put their hands behind their backs and were yelled at to keep their heads down. "My daughter Jeanette was coming out from the back bedroom when she was grabbed, drug down the hallway, across a couch and slammed to the ground," she said. "The officers then began throwing scissors and screwdrivers across the room (out of our reach, I suppose) and going through our cupboards. "I asked if I could make a phone call and was told, 'no.' My daughter asked if that wasn't one of our rights. The reply was made, 'That's only in the movies,'" she told WND.

It was some unidentified person, possibly a paramedic who had been refused permission to take Jon Shiflett to the hospital as she wanted, who provided information last week that convinced a magistrate to issue a court order that Jon be taken into state custody and examined by a doctor. He was taken by SWAT team members dispatched by the sheriff to the family's home at 11 p.m. at night, and they punched a hole in the front door and held guns on other children in the family in order to take Jon.

"The armed men in black masks took my terrified son against his wishes to Grand River Hospital, where he was examined by a doctor and interrogated by Social Services. No evidence was found that he had not been properly taken care of. Upon his return, we were told to keep ice on his head," Tina Shiflett's letter to the editor said.

"To the SWAT Team members . how far will you go in 'just doing your job?' If you feel no guilt busting into an innocent family's home, traumatizing young children and stomping the security found therein, will you follow more horrific orders?" she wrote. "May I remind you that in Nazi Germany, outrageous, monstrous crimes were committed by soldiers 'just doing their job?' What will be next? Where will this stop?" she wrote. "Fathers, mothers, families and countrymen, I challenge you to consider our story and ask yourself the question, 'If this were my family, what would I do?' For it very well could be you . next!"

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told WND he simply ordered his officers to do exactly what the magistrate demanded. "I was given a court order by the magistrate to seize the child, and arrange for medical evaluation, and that's what we did," he said.

The situation developed at the Apple Tree Mobile Home Park near New Castle last week when Jon Shiflett was horsing around and fell. Tom Shiflett carried his son home and put an ice pack on his head, while examining him to see whether his mental faculties were there. The boy correctly recited Bible verses and spelled words, the parents told WND.

But paramedics were called by a neighbor, and when they arrived, Tom Shiflett let them see his son, but refused their demands that he be taken to a hospital. The paramedics then apparently lobbied the city police, the sheriff's office, social workers and eventually the magistrate in order to get their way in having Jon taken to a hospital.

Jim Bradford, a court clerk in Garfield County, said it was a juvenile matter and he could not comment on any aspect of the case, and he declined to allow WND to leave a message for Garfield County Magistrate Lain Leoniak, who signed the order.


Pseudo-science about "gender" in Sweden (An echo of a disowned past)

Gender research publications in Sweden are used by the massive welfare state to rule out all norms of human behavior and declare "obsolete" all traditional morals and ethics. They call their research "science" and then ridicule all opponents of feminism, "diversity" and "gender equality" as ignoramuses denying the findings of science. Social engineering backed by a substantial portion of the Swedish GDP is reworking the basic institutions of human life and reproduction.

This is not the first time politicized science has held sway in my country. In 1921, on the Friday 13th of May, the Swedish national parliament voted to create a "Statens institut f"r rasbiologi"; a National Institute of Racial Biology. It was given the task by the state to

"strive for a steady theoretical foundation for an exact racial hygiene and a rational demographic politics".

The attempt was to scientifically determine the characteristics of a small subgroup of humanity, the few million Swedes, and engineer a better race. The same ferment which later animated the Nazi racial programs received the imprimatur of the Swedish state. The proposal was championed by major politicians, like rightist Arvid Lindmann and Social Democrat Hjalmar Branting. All the parties from the Left to the Right voted yes on this issue. There were no ideological differences during the debates. The one debate was how much financial support the institute should get. The morality of the venture was never challenged. All the parties happily were in unanimous agreement. This happy story ends in Auschwitz.

When we look back at that situation today, it is hard to believe it could ever happen; all parties agreeing on the same issue without any ideological debate or polemics, on such a delicate matter that if it would have been brought up today you would definitely go to jail charged with "Hate Speech". There is one perfectly simple answer; it was the political correctness of that time. It reminds me a lot of contemporary politics in Sweden; no ideological differences between the Left and the Right -- only arguing over how much money that should be spent on this and that.

Today we can see the same thing happening all over again, though in the opposite extreme direction. But this time it is really about denying all differences among people, to the extreme. The National Secretariat of Gender Research was inaugurated in 1998 on the 2nd of September. Two years earlier the national parliament voted to create such an institute and place it at the University of Gothenburg "to put greater effort on research with sex-/gender perspective". No one was arguing about morals here, either.

On its website, the University of Gothenburg says it is looking for a professor whose "expertise mainly concerns equality- and diversity issues and gender scientific organization theory." This is no joke; they want a professor in Equality- and Diversity Issues. In another scientific publication named "Sex and Change: continuity and normality in relatives relations to transsexuals" the researcher initially states that

"The categorization of people into two kinds of subjects, men and women, as well as the notion that gender is natural and lifelong, are predominant ideas in contemporary society".

The feminist conclusion: people do not consist of two biologically different categories; they are categorized by existing norms into men and women. This was a PhD thesis at the University of Stockholm, which is like all other universities in Sweden: funded by the state to serve the latter.

The state wants this kind of research for one purpose only: to crank out "evidence" that proves that there are no differences between men and women biologically. They say that the very concept of sex is completely made up by old cultural and social evil conservative norms, which have sole purpose of suppressing all women in society. Once the "science is in place, these norms must be crushed without hesitation. There is no way the "homophobes" and "xenophobes" can oppose them.

Sweden's racial biology of the 1920s and the 21st century's science of gender are strikingly similar. Both institution were founded by state to prove a scientific basis for their version of political correctness. Both were used to legitimize an extreme; one wanting to prove all differences and the other wanted to prove that there were no differences. And I have disturbing fear that the science of gender will meet the same terrible destiny as racial biology. I just don't know how.



During this presidential campaign, voters will hear much about the divergent economic realities between "the rich" and "the middle class." Yet there is another partition in America that is less visible, but no less troubling. The great divide between the civilian and military communities leaves the nation and its electorate ill-equipped to make informed judgments about military and international affairs.

I recently returned from a trip to San Diego, during which I toured the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and spent two days at sea with the officers and crew of the USS Nimitz. To say the least, it renewed my respect for the professionalism, competence, dedication, and sacrifice of America's men and women in uniform. I was deeply impressed by the vigor and apparent confidence with which they attend to their duties.

A quick glance at the troops I met immediately revealed a broad representation of America's ethnic groups - a diversity that's typical throughout America's armed forces. Statistics reveal high standards of educational attainment and the near nonexistence of illegal drug use or criminal backgrounds. Many come from families in which military service is a common experience. Yet I can't help concluding that the upper and upper-middle or "elite" social classes seem to be conspicuously absent.

A Navy admiral told me, "America is not at war. Its military is." He was acutely aware that a prominent segment of society had little but tax money invested in the outcome.

The civilian leaders with whom I traveled to the ship were clearly surprised by their exposure to young Americans who were seriously and stoically preparing to deploy to a war from which some might not return. Concepts of duty, honor, and sacrifice were simply not central to the life experiences of these civilians. America's elites don't necessarily lack patriotism, but precious few of these leaders have engaged in military service themselves. They simply lack reasonable reference points.

In the middle of the 20th century, military service was near universal for American men. While some used their privileged status to escape arduous or risky duty, society as a whole came together in the common cause of national defense. As a result, America was full of veterans who could place "news from the front" in context for friends and neighbors.

For example, to the extent that the American family received accurate estimates of casualties from the Normandy landings in 1944, a nearby uncle or father would have been able to put those figures in context by declaring, "I was on the Western Front in the Great War; we could have lost many more on Omaha Beach. All things considered, it seems that they managed that campaign as well as could be hoped."

A society with veterans represented at all levels of the community is better equipped to interpret accounts of inadvertent civilian casualties, interrogation interpreted as torture, or prisoner abuse. With the abdication of the upper classes from military service, most elites in the media, private sector, and government service don't have the intimate human context for the realities of war.

The debate about US engagement in Iraq is at its core an estimate of whether America is winning - or indeed can win, given the circumstances. The fourth estate long ago declared this war unwinnable. But how do we know that? How can they?

No electorate can make informed decisions about the exercise of military power in a far-off theater if it lacks a reasonable measure of collective experience with military matters. And any society that restricts its information and analysis to the sound bites of "embedded" journalists and political pundits will find itself highly susceptible to the manipulations of partisan politicians and interest groups at either extreme of any debate. It is simply too difficult to separate hope from fear and fiction from fact.

What can we do to correct course? To begin, America must find a way to reengage the nation's elites with the satisfactions and sacrifices of military and national service. Leading colleges should reinstate ROTC programs. Corporations should emphasize postmilitary recruiting. Likewise, professional organizations such as bar associations and business trade groups must seek opportunities to attend military expositions and demonstrations.

Just as America responded to the Soviet Union's Sputnik launch some 50 years ago with a vigorous effort to strengthen math and science education, America today must overhaul its school history curricula to engage students in military culture. And it must equip them to effectively and skeptically evaluate future military and political issues in the context of past experience.

It is only with an experienced and knowledgeable citizenry that we as a nation can prosecute sound strategy to achieve US policy goals while avoiding the pitfalls of failure and their attendant human, financial, and diplomatic costs.


Homosexual men are as bad at navigating as women

This rather tends to support the theory that homosexuality is caused by a hormonal disturbance in utero -- with homosexuals being exposed to excess female hormones, with an effect on brain development

Gay men are as bad as women at navigating, research has shown. Both share the same poor sense of direction and rely on local landmarks to get around, a study suggests. They are also slower to take in spatial information than heterosexual men. How this relates to parking a car - a task women famously struggle with, according to the stereotype - is open to question. But researchers say it is likely to make driving in a strange environment more challenging for gay men and women than for straight male motorists.

Psychologists at Queen Mary, University of London, conducted computer-based tests of spatial learning and memory on 140 volunteers recruited through advertisements in newspapers and magazines. They showed that gay men, straight women and lesbians navigated in much the same way and shared the same weaknesses. But there were also differences between gay and heterosexual men and straight and lesbian women.

Previous research had already shown that the male myth of women being poor navigators has some bearing on reality. Men consistently outperform women on tasks requiring navigation and discovering hidden objects. Women, on the other hand, are more successful in tests requiring them to remember where objects lie.

The Queen Mary team, led by Dr Qazi Rahman, used virtual reality simulations of two common tests of spatial learning and memory developed at Yale University. In one, the Morris Water Maze (MWM) test, volunteers were placed in a "virtual pool" and had to "swim" through a maze to find a hidden submerged platform. Cues in the form of pictures, doorways, a lamp, a bookcase and other landmarks were sited in different places. The other task, the Radial Arm Maze test (RAM), involved finding "rewards" - musical tones - by exploring eight "arms" radiating out from a circular central junction. Four arms contained a reward and four did not, and participants had to avoid traversing an arm more than once.

During the MWM test, gay men and straight women took significantly longer to find the hidden platform than straight men and lesbians. But the performance of gay and straight men did not differ in the RAM test. They also behaved the same way in the water maze test once the rough location of the platform had been established. Gay and straight men both spent more time in the area searching for the platform than straight women and lesbians. "Not only did straight men get started on the MWM test more quickly than gay men and the two female groups, they also maintained that advantage throughout the test," said Dr Rahman. "This might mean that sexual orientation affects the speed at which you acquire spatial information, but not necessarily your eventual memory for that spatial information."

The findings were published today in the journal Hippocampus. Dr Rahman was not convinced they related to car parking or map reading, but expected them to have a major bearing on navigational ability. "Perhaps if women are slower at parking it might be relevant, but parking is not an exacting spatial task," he said. "Driving in a novel environment which is poor in cues is where these differences are likely to show up most. Women are going to take a lot longer to reach their destination, making more errors, taking wrong turns etc. They need more rich local landmarks. "Men are good at using distal, or geometrical cues, to decide if they're going north or south, for instance. They have a better basic sense of direction, but they can use local land marks as well."

The similar way gay and straight men performed in the RAM test showed that sexual variation in spatial ability was not straightforward, said Dr Rahman. "Gay people appear to show a 'mosaic' of performance, parts of which are male-like and other parts of which are female-like," he 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 times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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Friday, January 11, 2008

Muslim fact-avoidance

Safaa IBRAHIM is the Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) - San Francisco Bay Area chapter in Santa Clara, California. Personally, I believe that she should also be yet another of CAIR's poster children for advocating the repression of free speech when inconvenient facts get in the way of intellectual honesty.

At issue is a column written by Cinnamon Stillwell titled "Savage vs. CAIR: The battle over free speech" that appeared in SF Gate on December 19, 2007. In that column, Ms. Stillwell offered well documented evidence of CAIR's pattern of strategic aggression and tactics against those who disagree with their ideology and objectives, citing the case of talk radio giant Michael Savage as the latest in a series of examples. Ms. Stillwell's position was cogent, her arguments well defined, and her points both contemporary and relevant. Arguably, the facts she presented about the history and actions of CAIR could well be described as "best evidence" if her discourse was offered in a courtroom environment.

Enter Safaa IBRAHIM, who, in response to the December article, immediately launched a textbook-style assault against Ms. Stillwell by accusing her of propagating hatred through the defense of hate speech against a wide range of people, including "African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, immigrants and women."

I re-read Ms. Stillwell's column and could find no validity to Ibrahim's wild and unsubstantiated accusations. Then it suddenly occurred to me that I've seen this tactic used before, most effectively by the well-trained spokespeople of CAIR who march in lockstep to the same tune all across North America. If you cannot refute the uncomfortably factual evidence presented in a coherent manner, transform the argument into accusations of hate speech, and move the debate from one of facts to highly charged allegations of "hatemongering and Islamophobia."

While Ms. Stillwell's article focused on the case of Michael Savage, it naturally segued into salient truths about CAIR, all of which Ms. IBRAHIM apparently found troublesome, dismissing them as "recycled smears and distortions used by Stillwell to defame CAIR." Instead of addressing the facts she describes as "distortions," Ibrahim resorted to personally attacking Ms. Stillwell's credibility as a columnist. In her factually-void, "would you like cheese with that whine" rant, IBRAHIM failed miserably at protecting the reputation of CAIR - a reputation that perhaps cannot be protected without assailing and attacking the messengers of truth, like Ms. Stillwell.

The article authored by Ms. Stillwell was well-researched and documented, while the response by Safaa IBRAHIM was devoid and barren. I cannot think of a better example of the transparent methods of transference of blame used by CAIR apologists than the article written by Safaa IBRAHIM. In a rather convoluted way, those who want to keep free speech truly free should thank Safaa IBRAHIM for displaying her lack of intellectual acuity in her published response to Ms. Stillwell.


Haters Against "Hate"

The immensely popular conservative broadcaster Michael Savage, who won the 2007 Talkers magazine Freedom of Speech Award, is under assault from a newly formed, benignly named organization: the Hate Hurts America Interfaith and Community Coalition (HHA). But as you will see shortly, HHA itself has intimate ties to some of the vilest hate, bigotry, and intolerance imaginable.

HHA describes itself in sanctified terms as "a coalition of religious and civic organizations that was formed to address the rising problem of hatred against American minorities." "Hate hurts America by eroding our country's great traditions of religious and cultural tolerance and mutual respect," says HHA. "Hate-filled words can and do lead to violent actions."

Closely allied with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), HHA was established for the singular purpose of trying to ban Mr. Savage, host of the daily program The Savage Nation, from the airwaves. Toward this end, it has sent letters urging the program's sponsors to "stop supporting" the "hate speech" of a "hatemonger" and to "pull their advertising dollars" from Savage's show. This campaign was ostensibly sparked by what HHA calls Savage's "history of hateful and bigoted comments against minorities including African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Catholics, Jews, immigrants and women." But clearly HHA's chief concern is the broadcaster's critical commentary about Islam and Muslims.....

The two most notable HHA coalition members are the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Students Association - West. Let's take a brief look at each:

A) Council on American-Islamic Relations

CAIR was co-founded in 1994 by Ibrahim Hooper, Nihad Awad, and Omar Ahmad, all of whom had close ties to the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which was established by Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook and served as Hamas' recruitment arm in the United States. CAIR opened its first U.S. office with the help of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a self-described charity (founded by Marzook) which in December 2001 would be shut down by President Bush for collecting money on behalf of Hamas.

CAIR knows a great deal not only about hate speech, but also about plain, old-fashioned, unvarnished hate:

* Co-founder Nihad Awad asserted at a 1994 meeting at Barry University, "I am a supporter of the Hamas movement."

* On February 2, 1995, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named CAIR Advisory Board member Siraj Wahhaj as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in Islamic Group leader Omar Abdel Rahman's foiled plot to destroy several New York City monuments. On June 6, 2006, CAIR's Ohio affiliate held a large fundraiser in honor of Wahhaj.

* In September 2003 CAIR's former Community Affairs Director, Bassem Khafagi, pled guilty to three federal counts of bank and visa fraud and agreed to be deported to Egypt. Federal investigators said that a group Khafagi founded, the Islamic Assembly of North America, had earmarked money for terrorism-supporting activities and had published material advocating suicide attacks against U.S. interests.

* In July 2004 Ghassan Elashi, a founding Board member of CAIR's Texas chapter and a former Holy Land Foundation (HLF) official, was convicted of having illegally shipped computers to the terrorism-sponsoring states of Libya and Syria. That same month, he was charged with having funneled more than $12.4 million through HLF, to Hamas. And in April 2005 he was convicted of knowingly doing business with Hamas operative Mousa Abu Marzook, his brother-in-law.

* Randall Todd Royer, who served as a communications specialist and civil rights coordinator for CAIR, trained with Lashkar-I-Taiba, an al Qaeda-tied Kashmir organization that is listed on the State Department's international terror list. He was also indicted on charges of conspiring to help al Qaeda and the Taliban battle American troops in Afghanistan, and was later sentenced to twenty years in prison on firearms charges.

* Onetime CAIR fundraiser Rabih Haddad was deported from the U.S. because of his work as Executive Director of the Global Relief Foundation, which helped finance al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

There you have it: CAIR -- which has all these ties to Islamist organizations dedicated to Jew-hatred, terror, and genocide -- thinks it has the moral standing to lecture Michael Savage (and everyone else) about "hate" and its fearsome capacity to breed violence. Perhaps someone should inform the bigots at CAIR that this all sounds like a very bad joke......

HHA is headed by Sabiha Khan, who also serves as Communications Director for CAIR of Southern California. Previously, she was a spokesperson for CAIR-Los Angeles and Executive Director of CAIR-Orlando. She attended the University of California, Irvine, where she was a member of the Muslim Student Union, an organization notorious for featuring guest speakers who advocate Israel's destruction, liken Israelis to Nazis, and deny the Holocaust.

During her tenure as CAIR-LA spokeswoman (from 2001-2006), Khan worked closely with Hussam Ayloush, the chapter's Executive Director, to defend the radical cleric Wagdy Ghoneim. Ghoneim is affiliated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and is known for his repeated calls for violent jihad against Jews. When Ghoneim was denied bond after his 2004 arrest in the U.S. for immigration violations, Khan organized an "emergency town hall" meeting to address the matter. She told the Orange County Register, "Yes, people are worried that we are being persecuted because we are Muslim."

In May 2005, Khan penned a guest editorial for The Geeze news website, where she conflated American society's concern about "[t]he actions of extremist Jews, Muslims, Christians or others," disingenuously implying that Americans as a whole felt equally threatened by extremism from each of those quarters. Her piece said nothing about Islamic extremism specifically, focusing almost entirely on such alleged U.S. transgressions as "actions at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the torture tactics, the long, indefinite detentions of prisoners without charges, the use of heavy bombs on largely civilian areas, and the constant disregard of the Geneva Conventions and our own American values."

This, then, is the Hate Hurts America Interfaith and Community Coalition, the organization hounding Michael Savage about his "hate speech"; an organization that wouldn't be caught dead supporting bigotry of any kind; an organization solemnly pledging its undying "support for the American traditions of religious and cultural tolerance and mutual respect." Go ahead. It's all right; go ahead and laugh.

Much more here

Britain: Drug dealer refuses to leave his 'comfy' cell

A judge has condemned the "barking mad" human rights rules that allowed a drug dealer to stay in his prison cell rather than appear in court. Amir Ali, who was jailed for almost four years last September, refused to leave the "comfortable" cell because he was afraid of losing it to another inmate

Judge Richard Hayward said: "I didn't know that prisoners could choose whether or not to come to court. I just assumed they would be scooped up by a burly prison warden and dumped in the back of a van. Now I hear this prisoner is refusing to leave his cell, and no one's doing anything about it. Once again, it's down to barking mad human rights rules."

Ali was due to appear at Lewes Crown Court, East Sussex, for a confiscation hearing yesterday to be stripped of the tens of thousands of pounds he earned from dealing in class A drugs.

However, he refused to leave HMP Camp Hill, a category C training prison on the Isle of Wight. Julian Woodbridge, defending Ali, said: "Mr Ali refused to leave his cell this morning because he is comfortable there and doesn't want to lose it. "There is a shortage of comfortable prison cells in this country, so he was obviously keen to hold on to his." Judge Hayward, who adjourned the hearing, said: "If he doesn't turn up then, we will simply go on without him."

Police caught Ali and 14 co-conspirators in Crawley, East Sussex, during a sting operation in March 2007. He was convicted of conspiring to supply cocaine, two counts of supplying the same drug and a further two charges of supplying heroin. After the operation, Det Insp Nick May said: "Compared with the same period last year, burglary, robbery and vehicle crime have all dropped in Crawley, and this is a tribute to the fantastic support we receive from communities, and the efforts we put into tackling drug dealing, as shown by this series of arrests."

A court source said: "Judge Hayward is known for his no-nonsense approach to criminals and he is sick and tired of coming up against barriers which slow down the legal process. It's incredible that this drug dealer finds his cell so comfortable he doesn't want to leave it. If they make prison that easy then it is no surprise the jails are full up." The source added: "To claim your human rights are being infringed by being brought to court from your prison cell is really the final straw."


First Amendment Rights for Abortion Protestors?

Ed Snell was thrown to the ground and knocked unconscious while exercising his First Amendment right to protest outside an abortion clinic. The media completely ignored it

On December 22nd a 69-year-old pro-life activist who was standing atop his automobile and protesting in front of the Hillcrest Abortion Clinic in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was physically attacked by an abortion supporter and thrown to the ground with enough force to knock him unconscious. Doctors even worried for a time that the elderly man might perish from the attack. Over a week after the attack, there aren't any accounts of the attack in the mainstream media. As I searched for the story, I found only two Internet hits for it.

Why the silence from the MSM? Can you imagine the MSM swarm that would have occurred if it had been a pro-lifer who attacked an abortion supporter? The cacophony would have been deafening if a pro-lifer had been the one to get violent.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property issued the first story to hit the net a few days ago. Also, a Catholic PRWire and media advisory from Catholic Online was released on the 28th. But the MSM has remained silent on the matter. Here is the account from the TFP:
When Mr. Snell tried to counsel the woman, his words were cut short when the man became furious, jumped the fence and, in the words of Mr. McTernan, "leaped on the vehicle with Ed and catapulted him off of the vehicle and onto the ground." Mr. Snell hit his back and head on the pavement and was knocked unconscious.

His medical report outlines the extent of his injuries: "multiple trauma, right subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissues that cover the brain), compression fractures of four vertebrae (T3, T4, T5 and T10), right scapula fracture and fracture of the fourth and fifth ribs." Before doctors were able to stop the bleeding in his head, they even feared Mr. Snell would die.
An elderly man almost dies from an attack by an abortion supporter and the MSM is mum. But, the receptionist at the clinic sure wasn't mum! When asked on the phone about the vicious attack, the receptionist at Hillcrest Abortion Clinic refused to give a recorded statement and angrily shouted: "He got what he deserved! He earned what he got!" She then hung up the phone, according to the TFP account.

And, on top of this indignity, the Harrisburg police didn't seem to want to do their duty and arrest the attacker at first, letting the man go home after witnesses pointed him out as the assailant.
Ed was taken away in an ambulance and three police officers arrived to investigate. They went into the clinic, where the assailant was waiting. After a few moments, the assailant and his companion left the clinic freely, got into their car and drove away. Shocked, Mr. McTernan shouted to the police: "What are you doing? That's him! That's the assailant!" One cop replied: "It is none of your business!"
To "protect and serve," eh? Apparently not to serve the victim of a vicious attack in this case. So, why the widespread uninterest by the MSM over this story? It can only be because the wrong guy got attacked.



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

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

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


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Thursday, January 10, 2008

An email from Russia

Russia has always been different and it continues to be so. The following email which I received from Russia recently (from a man with the common Russian surname of Kuznetsov) certainly embodies a large difference from the West today. From all that I know of the matter, it is an accurate report. Note however that such views would have been common in the West too just 40 years ago. I have corrected a few minor errors of English expression below

If you would like to know my opinion, I consider the modern Western Political Correctness to be ten times worse than the ideological restrictions which we experienced in the USSR, at least during my lifetime (I was born in 1950).

A normal Russian (or Soviet, if you prefer) citizen (man or woman) could have lived through all of his/her lifetime without a single encountering any filthy fag. Homosexuality was outlawed and resolutely suppressed in the USSR. It existed, of course, but in a strictly latent form. There was Article 121 of the Soviet Criminal Code that provided up to 5 (if I am not mistaken) years of prison for homosexuality. The Article was introduced in 1934 by Stalin, and abrogated by the notorious President Boris Yeltsin on 27 May 1993. Alas...

In Russian Orthodox Christian culture, which has remained alive despite all the Communist indoctrination, the sodomite sin has always been considered as the utmost abomination and deadly sin. For example, for the first time in my life I myself saw real fags only on TV last year when they attempted to have their dirty "Parade of Pride" in Moscow. In five minutes the fags were grabbed and badly kicked in the ass by the normal people around in the street, and then quickly dispersed.

Russia is not the rotten West. We despise the notorious PC. And we the normal Russian people hate fags very much. So, if asked, I can say, too, that we have no gays in Holy Russia. At least, overt and dominant gays.

Segregation: Muslim style

Where there are large concentrations of Muslims in England, "no-go" zones are being established and, according to the Right Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the Church of England's Bishop of Rochester, non-Muslims who "trespass" in such neighborhoods risk attack. Nazir-Ali, a native of Pakistan and convert to Christianity, writes in The Sunday Telegraph that a spiritual vacuum in Britain, along with its indifference to the rise of Islamic extremism and a growing "multifaith" society, is robbing the nation of its Christian identity and putting its future in jeopardy. He is not alone. A poll of the General Synod - the church's parliament - shows that its senior leaders also believe that Britain is being damaged by uncontrolled immigration....

Anyone who has studied Islamic societies (as Nazir-Ali has, having been part of one) knows segregation and subjugation of non-Muslims is the norm, not the behavior of an "extremist fringe." Former Muslims and others have issued dire warnings about the intentions of these immigrant invaders and their objectives to subordinate Western countries to their view of God's will. Segregation and intolerance are the first fruits of what they intend to impose on everyone. Political leadership in Britain and increasingly in the United States turns a blind eye to such things because they are prospecting for votes, including from those who would end democracy.

No wonder Britons are growing increasingly uneasy, even despondent, about life in their country. A poll conducted by the respected YouGov organization and published in the Dec. 30 London Times found that more than half of all men and four in 10 women said they would rather live abroad if given the choice. The main reasons are antisocial behavior among a growing underclass and immigration. The "state of the nation" poll of more than 1,500 people found that concerns about immigration topped the list of issues of six out of 10 of those questioned. Among self-identified conservative voters, three-quarters consider immigration among their top concerns.

Three British cities already have high Muslim populations, thanks to immigration, high birth rates and conversions (but don't try converting any of them to another faith, which is one reason they are creating "no-go" zones). Seventeen percent of London's population is Muslim (1.3 million out of 7.5 million). In Luton, it's 14.6 percent. Birmingham has 14.3 percent. Other European cities have a higher percentage of Muslims.

Multiculturalism, globalism and an emphasis on "interfaith" are contributing to the decline of the West just as paganism, hedonism and greed undermined past empires. Rather than learn from their mistakes, the West thinks it can engage in such practices without consequence.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has expressed concern about the loss of "Britishness," but unless he does something to slow, even reverse, Muslim immigration, the Britain we've known will be lost and radical Islam will remake it in its own image. As Bishop Nazir-Ali writes, "But none of this will be of any avail if Britain does not recover that vision of its destiny which made it great. That has to do with the Bible's teaching that we have equal dignity and freedom because we are all made in God's image." The segregationists didn't believe that at one time in America and the Muslim segregationists in Britain don't believe it now.


Sen. Obama's Calls for Unity Are Not What They Seem

By Dennis Prager

We are repeatedly told by the news media that there is a deep, almost palpable, yearning among Americans for unity. And Sen. Barack Obama's repeated and eloquent claims to being able to unite Americans are a major reason for his present, and very possibly eventual, success in his quest for his party's nomination for president of the United States.

I do not doubt Mr. Obama's sincerity. The wish that all people be united is an elemental human desire. But there are two major problems with it. First, it is not truly honest. Second, it is childish.

First is its dishonesty. Virtually all calls for unity -- whether national, international or religious (as in calls for Christian unity) -- do not tell the whole truth.

If those who call for unity told the whole truth, this is what they would say: "I want everyone to unite -- behind my values. I want everyone who disagrees with me to change the way they think so that we can all be united. I myself have no plans to change my positions on any important issues in order to achieve this unity. So in order to achieve it, I assume that all of you who differ with me will change your views and values and embrace mine."

Take any important issue that divides Americans and explain exactly how unity can be achieved without one of the two sides giving up its values and embracing the other side's values. Barack Obama wants American troops out of Iraq now. About half of America believes that American troops abandoning Iraq will lead to making that country the world's center of terror and to the greatest victory thus far for the greatest organized evil in the world today. How, then, will Mr. Obama achieve unity on Iraq? Mr. Obama believes in repealing the tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration. How will he achieve unity on that? Many of us believe that re-raising taxes will bring on a recession.

And what is the "unity" position on same-sex marriage? Either one supports it or one supports keeping marriage defined as the legal union of a man and a woman. The only way to unite Americans on this issue -- and I don't know what is more seminal to civilization than its definition of marriage -- is to convince all, or at least most, Americans to embrace one of the two positions.

It is fascinating how little introspection Sen. Obama's "unity" supporters engage in -- they are usually the very people who most forcefully advocate multiculturalism, who scoff at the idea of an American melting pot and who oppose something as basic to American unity as declaring English the country's national language.

Their advocacy of multiculturalism and opposition to declaring English the national language are proof that the calls of the left-wing supporters of Barack Obama for American unity are one or more of three things: 1. A call for all Americans to agree with them and become fellow leftists. 2. A nice-sounding cover for their left-wing policies. 3. A way to further their demonizing of the Bush administration as "divisive."

In case the reader should dismiss these observations about calls for unity as political partisanship, let me make clear that they are equally applicable to calls for religious unity. For example, one regularly hears calls by many Christians for Christian unity. But how exactly will this be achieved? Will Catholics stop believing in their catechism and embrace Protestant theology, or will Protestants begin to regard the pope Christ's vicar on earth?

Ironically, one reason America became the freest country in the world was thanks to its being founded by disunited Christians -- all those Protestant denominations had to figure out a way to live together and make a nation.

Given what Sen. Obama's calls for unity really mean -- let's all go left -- it is no wonder he and his calls for unity are enthusiastically embraced by the liberal media.

For nearly eight years the media and Democrats have labeled President Bush's policies "divisive" simply because they don't agree with them. They are not one whit more divisive than Sen. Obama's positions. A question for Democrats, the media and other Obama supporters: How exactly are Mr. Obama's left-wing political positions any less "divisive" than President Bush's right-wing positions?

Second, the craving for unity is frequently childish. As we mature we understand that decent people will differ politically and theologically. The mature yearn for unity only on a handful of fundamental values, such as: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Beyond such basics, we yearn for civil discourse and tolerance, not unity.

The next time Sen. Obama speaks with his usual passion and eloquence about his desire to unite Americans, someone must ask him two questions: Why are your left-wing positions any less divisive than President Bush's right-wing positions? And if you are so committed to uniting Americans, why did you vote against declaring English our national, i.e., our unifying, language? Without compelling answers, Sen. Obama's calls for American unity are no more than calls to unite around his politics and him.


Bigoted British court

A British Airways worker has lost her case for religious discrimination over wearing a cross to work, she said Tuesday. Nadia Eweida, 56, took BA to an employment tribunal claiming it effectively discriminated against Christians because they were not allowed to wear religious jewellery while Muslims were allowed to wear hijabs and Sikhs bangles.

The airline, which changed its policy to allow crosses on chains over work clothes last year amid controversy over the case, said its clothing policy did not discriminate against Christians.

The row erupted in 2006 when Eweida claimed she was asked to remove or hide her cross. "I'm very disappointed," she said. "The judge has given way for BA to have a victory on imposing their will on all their staff."

A BA spokesman said: "We are pleased that the tribunal's decision supports our position. "Our current policy allows symbols of faith to be worn openly and has been developed with multi-faith groups and our staff."

Eweida, who still works for the airline, pledged to return to work Thursday wearing the cross.



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

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

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


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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Britain: Couple banned for life from shopping centre and branded 'terrorists' - for taking photos of their grandchildren

A couple were banned for life from a shopping centre - because they were taking photos of their beloved grandchildren. Kim and Trevor Sparshott were ordered to stop taking photos because they were causing a security threat. They were thrown out of the centre after they took out a camera to snap the look on the youngsters' faces when they turned up unexpectedly.

The couple were on a four-day break from their home in Spain and wanted to surprise their family by arriving at the centre, in Fareham, Hants, while they were shopping. But when they went to take a photo, a security guard pounced and ordered them out. The guard then insisted that cameras were banned because of the risk of a terrorist attack - and barred the bemused couple for life.

Speaking from her home in Malaga, Spain, Mrs Sparshott, 51, said: "I couldn't believe it. I was so shocked. "He said we had committed an act of terrorism. "At first I wanted the ground to swallow me up whole because it was so embarassing - but then I got really angry." Mr Sparshott, 52, added: "Instead of being a nice surprise for our family it turned into a nightmare. I was furious. "In these worrying times we understand the need for caution, but surely a quiet word when he first saw us would have stopped all this unpleasantness."

The couple, who had been visiting their daughter, who lives in Gosport, Hants, with her husband and children, returned to Spain in shock. They wrote a letter of complaint to the centre, and received a reply from manager Pam Gillard who said taking photos was a security risk. In the reply to the Sparshotts, Ms Gillard said: "By the sounds of it my officers/duty manager didn't explain the position very clearly and for that I apologise." Speaking after the incident, she added: "Fareham Shopping Centre is private property and has a policy to support the security of the shops, where the taking of photographs needs prior permission. "The Sparshotts are welcome back to the centre." Ms Gillard refused to comment further on the centre's security policies, but added that the camera ban was not because of a terrorist threat.

The situation has amazed civil rights campaigners, who say the centre's reaction was 'completely over the top'. Roger Smith, director of civil liberties group Justice, said: "The key is proportionality - it is quite reasonable to have restrictions on what people can do, but this is just daft. "It seems completely over the top."


Woman artist gets death threats over homosexual Muslim photos

The Dutch were debating the limits of freedom of expression last week after an artist who photographed gay men wearing masks of the prophet Muhammad was forced into hiding and her work removed from a museum exhibit. Speaking on the telephone from an unspecified location in the Netherlands last week, the artist, an Iranian exile who goes by the pseudonym of Sooreh Hera, said she had been threatened with "execution". She accused the director of the municipal museum in The Hague of cowardice for caving in to Muslim extremists.

Her story is a reminder of the tensions that have put the Netherlands and other European countries on the front line, sending dozens of people threatened by extremists into hiding since 2004, when a Dutch film-maker was murdered on the street and his collaborator driven into exile. This leaves Hera, 34, in no doubt that she is in real danger. "They said to me, `We're going to burn you naked or put a bullet in your mouth'," she said, referring to menacing e-mails. "They say, `Now you are locked in your home and you cannot go out any more'."

She said that by photographing gay Iranian exiles in masks of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and Ali, his son-in-law, she had wanted to expose a "hypocritical" attitude towards homosexuality in countries such as Iran, where men can be hanged for homosexual conduct. "They condemn homosexuality but in countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia it is common for married men to maintain relations with other men," said Hera. "Works of art can be provocative. It is not an artist's job just to paint flowers. Art should shine a light on social issues."

The photographs were part of an extensive collection of images by Hera of mostly Dutch gay men. Another part of her exhibit was a video featuring hard rock music and images of Iranian clerics interspersed with pictures of naked men. Wim van Krimpen, director of the museum, initially praised Hera's collection of photographs as "exceptional". Last month, however, he announced that the masked men could not be included in the forthcoming exhibition because "certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive".

This was no understatement. When a Danish newspaper published cartoons of Muhammad in 2005 it unleashed what the prime minister referred to as the country's biggest international crisis since the second world war as Muslims staged violent protests. "The museum director was very afraid," said Hera. "He gave in to pressure from the Islamists. It is censorship." In protest, she withdrew the rest of her photographs from the exhibition and Ranti Tjan, director of a museum in Gouda, agreed to put them on show. He received threats from extremists and was under police protection last week. Hera declined to discuss her own security arrangements.

She said she would like to attend the opening of the show in Gouda if it went ahead, but that it might be too dangerous. "There are times when I am very afraid," she admitted, "times when I feel like a prisoner."

The affair has highlighted deep divisions among Europeans over how to deal with the Islamic extremism since the murder of Theo van Gogh over a film that criticised Islam's treatment of women. A note attached to his body with a knife threatened other people, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born former Dutch politician and his collaborator. She fled to America, accusing the Dutch of "appeasement" of extremists. She has since returned to the Netherlands and is said to be working on a film about the repression of gays in Islamic societies.

She may not get much support from the politicians, who seem determined to avoid confrontation even if some might accuse them of turning a blind eye to the erosion of artistic freedom. When Hera wrote to Ronald Plasterk, the culture minister, asking for his support he agreed to meet her but would not help to reinstate her photographs in the exhibition. Wouter Bos, the deputy prime minister, seemed to take a stand for freedom of speech, saying: "In a democracy, we do not recognise the right not to be insulted." The left wing de Volkskrant newspaper, by contrast, praised the museum for its "great professionalism" in excising the images.

For her part, Hera, who fled Iran seven years ago, says she has "no regrets", particularly when she thinks about the young men and women being hanged there for offending the country's code of sexuality. "I do it for them," she said, "for the boys and girls with no freedom in Iran."


Deluded Leftist memories

By Gerard Henderson, writing from Australia

As someone once said, old soldiers never die. Quite a few, having abandoned the sword, keep battling with the pen or keyboard. So it is with the Pakistani-born British radical Tariq Ali. Once one of the most prominent student radicals in the West during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he is looking back with fondness on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the student revolutions that are said to have shaken the world in 1968.

Last Saturday the Herald carried Ali's recollections on 1968 under the heading "The year that changed the world". On the same day The Weekend Australian Magazine's cover story focused on seven Australians who recalled "the year the world changed". Both Ali and those of his Australian counterparts who remain on the left exhibited a lack of comprehension about what really happened or, rather, did not happen in 1968.

According to Ali: "What was remarkable about 1968 was the geographical breath of the global revolt. It was as if a single spark had set the entire field on fire." He was referring to attacks on US forces in Vietnam, demonstrations in such Western democracies as the US, France, Italy, Britain and West Germany, along with opposition to the communist totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia. But the fact is that the US was not militarily defeated in Vietnam in 1968 nor were the Western democracies overturned that year. Indeed, Richard Nixon was elected US president in November 1968.

Some of the Australian activists of four decades ago exhibited a similar sense of self-delusion. The painter George Gittoes recalled that "everyone was mad in 1968". The newly retired Labor politician Meredith Burgmann declared that "anyone from that time will tell you - we really thought the revolution was about to happen". According to the filmmaker Albie Thoms, in 1968 or thereabouts "everyone started self-medicating". Even today, the likes of Gittoes, Burgmann and Thoms seem unaware that about 1968 they mixed with a few members of the left intelligentsia. At the time the overwhelming majority of Australians were a quite sane lot who did not believe in the likelihood of imminent revolution and were not into the drug culture.

There is little evidence to support the view that 1968 was the year that changed the world. During the 20th century many years were more significant, including 1914 (the outbreak of World War I), 1917 (the Bolshevik Revolution), 1933 (the coming to power of Hitler's Nazis in Germany), 1939 (the outbreak of World War II) and 1989 (the effective collapse of European communism).

Certainly 1968 was a big year for news. In addition to violent student demonstrations in the Western democracies, 1968 witnessed the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in the US. Yet, despite such traumas, Western democracy prevailed as an institution. Within a little more than a decade the Conservative Margaret Thatcher was in 10 Downing Street in London and the Republican Ronald Reagan resided at the White House in Washington. Meanwhile, the Liberal Party's Malcolm Fraser prevailed over Gough Whitlam in late 1975. At the time Fraser was the enemy of the left intelligentsia Down Under.

It is true that 1968 was significant in that it marked the beginning of the decline in European communism. The Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 discredited European communism, even though its demise was to take a further two decades. Those who resisted communist totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany, the Soviet Union and elsewhere were the real heroes of 1968. The fact is that most of the student demonstrators and their fellow travellers supported communist dictatorships elsewhere. Most notably in China, where Mao's Cultural Revolution turned an entire nation into a prison ruthlessly administered by the communist elite. Later the 1968 set was to support the communist revolutions in Vietnam and Cambodia, which led to mass murders, incarcerations and refugees. And, of course, the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro remains a leftist hero to this day.

As the one-time leftist David Horowitz wrote in his autobiography Radical Son, the New Left in the US "was not an innocent experiment in American utopianism, but a self-conscious effort to rescue the communist project from its Soviet fate". This succeeded for a while when, following the cancellation of military aid by the US Congress, the anti-communist government of South Vietnam collapsed in 1975 in the face of the Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese Army. But in time the likes of China and Vietnam abandoned the hardline communism for which they were admired by the student revolutionaries in the West.

Many of today's baby boomers, in Australia and elsewhere, have never expressed regret for having supported some of the most brutal dictatorships the world has known. Take, for example, the British commentator Beatrix Campbell, who has a regular slot on Phillip Adams's ABC radio program Late Night Live. Writing in the Sunday Times on October 28, Neil Lyndon commented that Campbell is "never called to account for the fact that as a young subeditor on the communist Morning Star newspaper she took state-subsidised holidays in the odious Eric Honecker's East Germany".

The events of 1968 had little impact in the West. As David Caute pointed out in The Year Of The Barricades, the New Left in the West at the time engaged "in a murderous battle with the state, supposedly to arouse the working class from its torpor, in reality to play out social frustrations and personal fantasies". It was much the same in Australia, albeit without the extreme violence. This is widely accepted today, except by those old soldiers who seem to remain fossilised in 1968.


First love yourself ....

Paul Hasluck, a talented writer who went on to become Australia's Governor General in the 1970s, recalled scenes which were commonplace during his childhood in Western Australia in the 1920s in his autobiography, Mucking About.
Kalgoorlie schoolboys seemed to be given to chanting derisive rhymes. There were convent schools as well as state schools. The state school urchins used to follow the convent boys down the streets chanting.
Catholic dogs jump like frogs
And eat no meat on Friday.
Catholic dogs jump like frogs.
In and out of the water.
Hasluck's recollection reminds us that not so long ago -- within living memory -- it mattered very much whether you were Irish or Polish, Jewish or Protestant, Chinese or Filipino. But those difference -- as pundits analyzing Barack Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses never cease to point out -- seemed have become less important over the decades. In that context, Bishop Nazir Ali's warning that "no-go" areas have cropped up in Britain are all the more astounding. The perverse accomplishment of the Multicultural Project has been to reverse the process of community building it set out to hasten.

Why this paradoxical result should be the case is an interesting question to consider. Hasluck's biography itself provided a clue to the answer. The public space increased as love for the nation increased. As people began to identify themselves as Australians the relative differences between them decreased, as did the jeerings. But not only did a healthy patriotism actually expand the public space, it was, Hasluck argued, the prerequisite to respect between nations -- an observation that would shock the politically correct multiculturalist, who normally believes the precise opposite. Hasluck's argument is simple and commonsensical and for that reason probably incomprehensible to the post-modern. Describing his feelings following a return from England as a child, he wrote:
My own deeper love and knowledge of Australia is refined by a shared love of England. In love of our country each of us realizes a common humanity coming from deep wells. A feeling for one's own country is the clearest way to feeling deeply for men in other countries. The folly and failure of so many attempts by internationalists to do good comes from the fact that they lose sight of the true goodness in other countries when their own senses are blunted to the goodness of their own.
The observation that a genuine appreciation of other cultures must begin with a respect for one's own may seem self-evident until one realizes how rarely it is made. That argument naturally extends itself to a critique of multiculturalism. Having destroyed the feeling of security that comes from belonging to a larger home, the country, multiculturalism has left nothing for individuals but a retreat into the doubtful safety of sect, race and tribe. The Pale is back; and we are all beyond it.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Britain: Go to jail for criticizing Islamic fundamentalism

British blogger Lionheart has been accused of inciting racial hatred. Do you believe in free speech? If you do, you should be angry.... He writes on his blog:
"I am currently out of the Country and on my return home to England I am going to be arrested by British detectives on suspicion of Stirring up Racial Hatred by displaying written material" contrary to sections 18(1) and 27(3) of the Public Order Act 1986. This charge if found guilty carries a lengthy prison sentence, more than what most paedophiles and rapists receive, and all for writing words of truth about the barbarity that is living in the midst of our children, which threatens the very future of our Country.

The cultural weapon in the hands of the modern Jihad within Great Britain, silencing the opposition using our own laws against us - The Dumb Filthy Kaffir's as the Moslem would say to his children behind closed doors.

What has become of my homeland, the land my forefathers fought and died for on the battlefields of the world when one of their children is forced into the position of facing years in prison for standing up for what is right and just within British society. At least my words of truth have obviously now reached people's eyes and ears, with the powers that be now intent on silencing me - Third World Tyranny in a supposed 21st Century democracy!
Is it right that people should be arrested for writing things and thinking things that the powers that be do not approve of? Is the UK now like Saudi Arabia?


Tony Bennett Says: I have been asked to represent Paul ('Lionheart'). For the public record, here is a full copy of the e-mail sent by Ian Holden of Bedfordshire Police to `Lionheart' yesterday, Thursday 3 January 2008:
"The offence that I need to arrest you for is "Stir up Racial Hatred by displaying written material" contrary to sections 18(1) and 27(3) of the Public Order Act 1986. You will be arrested on SUSPICION of the offence. You would only be charged following a full investigation based on all the relevant facts and CPS consent. Paul I will see you on the 19/02/08 when I will tell you everything that you need to know. Due to being out of the office for six weeks I will not have access to my email as of tomorrow 04/01/08.
There are already a number of aspects about this case involving not only `Lionheart' but concerning other friends of his which are almost certain to result in a complaint being made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

After my success in getting the I.P.C.C. to agree to a top-level, `managed', investigation into *38* separate complaints about Essex Police's woeful first investigation in 2001/2 into the death violent death of Stuart Lubbock (which is ongoing), and my success this week in getting the I.P.C.C. to enquire into another disastrous set of Essex Police investigations, this time into their three so-called `investigations' into the death of Lee Balkwell in controversial circumstances in the early hours of 18 July 2002*, my mentioning the I.P.C.C. is no idle threat. Bedfordshire Police had better be very careful....

One of the issues here, which Bedfordshire Police may well have to account for in due course, is the way they have approached this investigation. I will not say more otherwise I would be breaching a confidence. The way Bedfordshire Police seem to have put it, it is words on a website that they say amount to `LionHeart' breaching the `incitement to racial' hatred provisions of the Public Order Act 1986.

It seems that his main campaign is against Islamist (note I do not say Islamic) terrorism based in and around Luton. Let us bring to mind Bedfordshire Police's abject failure to deal with the Islamist murderers who killed 52 people and maimed scores more in their 7/7 bombings. The Muslim murderers met and planned their attacks in Luton. And set off from Luton railways station on their murderous mission. There are, in Luton, Islamists involved in planning terrorist offences, involved in drug dealing to which Bedfordshire Police turn a blind eye, and involved in other criminal activity. LionHeart speaks out against all this - and Bedfordshire Police decide to go after - who? ....

Let those, like Lionheart, who have the courage to speak out against Islamist militancy and terrorism, be handed medals and bravery awards, not interviews under caution by the politically correct and ineffective Bedfordshire Police.

More background:

Lionheart has never called for violence, and also he's not talking out of his ass either - he's basically just reporting whats happening in his town. He only got into this because he was an anti-drug educator who was researching the drugs trade in Luton and discovered that the drug dealers were largely Muslim and justifying their business as jihad since drug taking harms kaffirs, and he figured out the money was going towards organizations that support jihad. Sounds pretty reasonable to me that he is concerned.

And how on earth can anyone call him violent or paranoid? He's proved that his arrest threat is very, terrifyingly real, and meanwhile he's totally non-violent - the man is a devoted Christian for God's sake!

This is terrible. The people on here who are dismissing this guy are not being realistic. He is not a racist, he is not full of hate - only justified fear - and he is not inciting racist anything - he's talking about followers of a religion, not an ethnic group!!!

More here. See also here

Bishop says Muslim extremism creates UK "no-go areas"

Making Muslims furious over his comments -- of course

Muslim groups reacted with fury after a senior Church of England bishop accused Islamic extremists of creating "no-go areas" for non-Muslims in Britain. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said communities dominated by radical Islam give a hostile reception to Christians and those from other faiths.

In the Sunday Telegraph, he condemned the use of loudspeakers to spread the call to prayer and compared intimidation by radical Muslims to far-right extremism. He writes: "...there has been a worldwide resurgence of the ideology of Islamic extremism. One of the results of this has been to further alienate the young from the nation in which they were growing up and also to turn already separate communities into 'no-go' areas where adherence to this ideology has become a mark of acceptability.

"Those of a different faith or race may find it difficult to live or work there because of hostility to them. In many ways, this is but the other side of the coin to far-right intimidation. Attempts have been made to impose an 'Islamic' character on certain areas, for example, by insisting on artificial amplification for the Adhan, the call to prayer."

Mohammed Shafiq, a spokesman for the Ramadhan Foundation, a Muslim youth group, caalled on the bishop to resign. "His article is once again an attempt to whip up hatred against Muslims and cause division," he said.

Ajmal Masroor, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Great Britain, said: "It's nonsense. It's a distortion of reality. I believe our communities are far more integrated than they were 10 years ago. If the Church of England had an iota of fairness in their minds they would definitely take serious action."

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, accused the bishop of scaremongering. "Bishop Nazir-Ali appears to be exercised by what he perceives as the decline in the influence of Christianity upon this country, but trying to frantically scaremonger about Islam and Muslims seems to us to be a rather unethical way of trying to reverse this," he said.

A spokesman for the department of Communities and Local Government said most Muslims found the views of extremists "completely abhorrent". He said: "The overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful, make a huge contribution to British life and find the views of a small minority of violent extremists completely abhorrent. Britain also has a proud tradition of different communities living together side by side. But we are not complacent - the Government has completely re-balanced its community cohesion strategy putting far greater emphasis on promoting integration and shared British values (as the Bishop acknowledges in his article)."


Comment from a British reader:

According to Tory and liberal spokespersons, Bishop Nazir Ali supposedly was being divisive and factually incorrect. In reality he was telling the truth that ought to have been told decades ago - that significant areas of the uk have become controlled by Islam such that non-muslims cannot live there. One such area is Alum Rock in Birmingham. I saw for myself that a nominally Christian school in Alum Rock Rd had 100.00 percent of the children muslim-parented (or thus-dressed).

I myself have encountered the harassment that drives others out of "muslim" areas. All this is entirely in line with the rest of the reality of the "religion of peace" which in reality is the personality cult of terrorist Mohammed (e.g. see opening of sura 59 of his Quran, justifying his eco-terrorism against peaceful civilians who failed to show him sufficient reverence).

Likewise, note the extensive rioting and deaths following Bhutto's assassination. Was there anything similar after the Pope's attempted assassination (by a Muslim), or of JFK's assassination, or the assassination of theo van Gogh (again by a Muslim)? The difference is that Islam = terrorist cult. Genuine Islam that is, (though all who label themselves as Muslims join in with giving reverence to the terrorist book and its terrorist author).

If holocaust denial is a crime, how much greater a crime is the Jihad Denial that pretends away the greatest evil in history, responsible for far more millions of deaths over the centuries.... AND continues ongoing right now.

Another comment here

Squashing debate like mosquitoes

By Mark Steyn

Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan, Muneeza Sheikh and Daniel Simard write that "some clarifications are in order" re: The Calgary Herald's coverage of their complaint to at least three of Canada's many "human rights" commissions about an excerpt from my book, America Alone, published by Maclean's. So, in that spirit, let me clarify one point of their column,"Debate denied over Maclean's Muslim article," which ran Saturday. They cite the following quote as an "extract from Steyn's article": "The number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes."

That line certainly appears in my text, but they're not my words. Rather, they were said by a prominent Scandinavian Muslim, Mullah Krekar, to a respectable Norwegian newspaper. The imam was boasting at how Islam would outbreed Europe: "We're the ones who will change you . . . Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children."

This is the nub of Messrs Mithoowani, Awan, Sheikh and Simard's complaints against Maclean's: They're objecting to a Canadian magazine quoting accurately the statements of leading Muslims. And at least two of Canada's "human rights" commissions, to their shame, have accepted their absurd proposition that accurately quoting leading Muslims is somehow "Islamophobic."

The complainants were not "denied debate." They could -- as many Maclean's readers (infidel and Muslim alike) did on the letters page -- have had all the debate they wanted in the weeks after the article appeared. Instead, they waited five months before going in to see Maclean's editors, which is only marginally less ridiculous than me wandering in and demanding a right of reply to the Calgary Herald's rotogravure special on the Relief of Mafeking. They then demanded, among other ludicrous conditions, money for their "cause."

They and their friends at the Canadian Islamic Congress are seemingly not interested in stimulating debate, but only in shutting it down, by making it more trouble than it's worth for editors to run articles on one of the central questions of the age: Islam's relationship with a dying West. In using quasi-judicial coercion to squash debate, they make one of the central points of my argument -- that a proportion of Islam is inimical to western traditions of freedom -- more eloquently than I ever could.

It is puzzling to me, even granted the cobwebbed modishness of these misbegotten creations of the Trudeaupian Seventies, why the Canadian and British Columbia "Human Rights" Commissions regard it as within their jurisdiction to regulate the editorial decisions of privately owned magazines. But any Canadian interested in freedom of expression should be deeply concerned by the commissions' willingness to hear this "case."


Just don't throw sticks and stones

There's a lot of difference between hitting someone and shouting at them. I defend my right to abuse footballers -- says Mick Hume

For the first time in 2008, I fear I must disagree with "all right-thinking people" ? by defending the liberty of football fans to shout abuse at opponents, their own players, referees, or even Sir Alex Ferguson. Today I am off to Old Trafford, and if Manchester United play as badly as on Saturday it will not be best wishes for the new year that 75,000 of us give out to the team.

Will we still be free to do so next year? A crusade against crowd abuse has taken off since Sol Campbell, the Portsmouth defender, rang the Today programme to demand that the FA and the Government protect him from rude words. Campbell said "light banter" was acceptable (so Stephen Fry should be OK) but not personal abuse: "If this happened in the street you'd be arrested. This is a human rights situation." His indignant pose has been backed by football figures from Fergie and ArsSne Wenger downwards, and by esteemed sports writers who say that verbal abuse is "violent". No, it isn't, a distinction made clear in the old playground saw about sticks and stones. Mixing up words and deeds is dangerous.

And so is mixing up football and real life. What goes on at a football ground is rightly not governed by the same rules as events "in the street". As one of the game's thinkers, Campbell might consider Freud's thoughts on different parts of the human psyche. Football is the home ground of the id, the more emotional, irrational side of the brain. That is why people talk and behave there as they would not elsewhere. Sport can take us out of ourselves for worse as well as for better. But if you want to make it conform to the etiquette of everyday life, you might as well ban football altogether.

As it happens, there is already less abuse in the sanitised all-seater stadiums of today. Standards of terrace wit have certainly declined, but at its best that was less gentle banter than savage wordplay. What has risen is the sensitivity of players. Partly this reflects their celebrity status. Mostly it is a by-product of the epidemic of thin-skin syndrome sweeping society, so that causing offence can be deemed the worst offence.

Fans are not immune either ? Arsenal supporters are even suing their own club over offensive language from other Arsenal fans. Not content with insisting that players act like Mary Poppins, some now demand that the crowd behave as a mass role model too.

The funny thing is that Campbell's crusaders seem to have suffered the same loss of perspective as the more hysterically abusive fans. They all attribute far too much importance to what happens in the game of football. As more sensible voices have observed, there are worse things in life than being shouted at. Ask those laying scarves in mourning outside Motherwell's stadium



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

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

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


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Monday, January 07, 2008

British soldiers returning for Christmas forced to change out of uniforms on freezing runway before using airport terminal

Scores of soldiers flying home from Afghanistan on Christmas leave were ordered to change out of their uniforms on a freezing runway before being allowed into a civilian airport terminal. Troops were told not to be seen in public in their uniforms - which they had worn with pride while risking their lives during months of intense fighting against the Taliban.

Last night the Ministry of Defence and bosses at Birmingham International Airport blamed each other for the indignity suffered by the soldiers - which comes amid mounting anger over the treatment of British troops returning from war. One soldier, who was ordered to undress for "security reasons", said: "It is an insult to the entire Army to force guys who've been fighting in Afghanistan to obey some jobsworth rule when all they want to do is get home to their families. "So much for a nation proud of its servicemen. The temperature was Baltic on the runway but most of just wanted to get home so we cracked on."

The December 23 flight, carrying 200 personnel, had been diverted from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to Birmingham because of bad weather. The troops were told they could either wait for coaches to take them back to Brize Norton or else travel home via public transport - in which case they must change into civilian clothes before entering the terminal. Around 50 chose the latter option and, because there was no room in the cabin, most changed outside.

Last night the airport authorities denied responsibility, saying: "We support our Armed Forces and whatever form of dress they choose to wear at our airport." The MoD eventually confirmed it has a ban on troops wearing uniform in civilian airports, claiming it was because a small number of airlines ban all uniforms on flights for security reasons. A spokesman said: "In this case, it appears it was applied a little too rigidly." The policy will now be reviewed.

The incident brought criticism in unofficial military chatrooms. One soldier wrote on the Army Rumour Service forum: "This shows an utter lack of leadership. Who allowed this to happen? Who failed to stand up for his/her men?" MPs and former military commanders urged defence chiefs to ease restrictions on wearing uniform in public to reflect public support for the military. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, a former infantry commander, said: "This is just the sort of thing that gets seriously up the noses of fighting troops."

Colonel Jorge Mendonca, who was decorated in Iraq but quit the Army after being charged - and cleared - over mistreatment of detainees, said: "How would it feel to be on an operational tour and then to come home and be told to take off their uniform before being seen in public? "It's a typical policy order from some desk-bound staff officer."


The last testament of Flashman's creator: How Britain has destroyed itself


When 30 years ago I resurrected Flashman, the bully in Thomas Hughes's Victorian novel Tom Brown's Schooldays, political correctness hadn't been heard of, and no exception was taken to my adopted hero's character, behaviour, attitude to women and subject races (indeed, any races, including his own) and general awfulness. On the contrary, it soon became evident that these were his main attractions. He was politically incorrect with a vengeance. Through the Seventies and Eighties I led him on his disgraceful way, toadying, lying, cheating, running away, treating women as chattels, abusing inferiors of all colours, with only one redeeming virtue - the unsparing honesty with which he admitted to his faults, and even gloried in them. And no one minded, or if they did, they didn't tell me. In all the many thousands of readers' letters I received, not one objected.

In the Nineties, a change began to take place. Reviewers and interviewers started describing Flashman (and me) as politically incorrect, which we are, though by no means in the same way. This is fine by me. Flashman is my bread and butter, and if he wasn't an elitist, racist, sexist swine, I'd be selling bootlaces at street corners instead of being a successful popular writer.

But what I notice with amusement is that many commentators now draw attention to Flashy's (and my) political incorrectness in order to make a point of distancing themselves from it. It's not that they dislike the books. But where once the non-PC thing could pass unremarked, they now feel they must warn readers that some may find Flashman offensive, and that his views are certainly not those of the interviewer or reviewer, God forbid.

I find the disclaimers alarming. They are almost a knee-jerk reaction and often rather a nervous one, as if the writer were saying: "Look, I'm not a racist or sexist. I hold the right views and I'm in line with modern enlightened thought, honestly." They won't risk saying anything to which the PC lobby could take exception. And it is this that alarms me - the fear evident in so many sincere and honest folk of being thought out of step.

I first came across this in the United States, where the cancer has gone much deeper. As a screenwriter [at which Fraser was almost as successful as he was with the 12 Flashman novels; his best-known work was scripting the Three Musketeers films] I once put forward a script for a film called The Lone Ranger, in which I used a piece of Western history which had never been shown on screen and was as spectacular as it was shocking - and true.

The whisky traders of the American plains used to build little stockades, from which they passed out their ghastly rot-gut liquor through a small hatch to the Indians, who paid by shoving furs back though the hatch. The result was that frenzied, drunken Indians who had run out of furs were besieging the stockade, while the traders sat snug inside and did not emerge until the Indians had either gone away or passed out.

Political correctness stormed onto the scene, red in tooth and claw. The word came down from on high that the scene would offend "Native Americans". Their ancestors may have got pie-eyed on moonshine but they didn't want to know it, and it must not be shown on screen. Damn history. Let's pretend it didn't happen because we don't like the look of it.

I think little of people who will deny their history because it doesn't present the picture they would like. My forebears from the Highlands of Scotland were a fairly primitive, treacherous, blood-thirsty bunch and, as Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, would have been none the worse for washing. Fine, let them be so depicted, if any film maker feels like it; better that than insulting, inaccurate drivel like Braveheart.

The philosophy of political correctness is now firmly entrenched over here, too, and at its core is a refusal to look the truth squarely in the face, unpalatable as it may be. Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.

It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense - the naivete of the phrase "a caring force for the future" on Remembrance poppy trays, which suggests that the army is some kind of peace corps, when in fact its true function is killing.

The continual attempt to soften and sanitise the harsh realities of life in the name of liberalism, in an effort to suppress truths unwelcome to the PC mind; the social engineering which plays down Christianity, demanding equal status for alien religions.

The selective distortions of history, so beloved by New Labour, denigrating Britain's past with such propaganda as hopelessly unbalanced accounts of the slave trade, laying all the blame on the white races, but carefully censoring the truth that not a slave could have come out of Africa without the active assistance of black slavers, and that the trade was only finally suppressed by the Royal Navy virtually single-handed.

In schools, the waging of war against examinations as "elitist" exercises which will undermine the confidence of those who fail - what an intelligent way to prepare children for real life in which competition and failure are inevitable, since both are what life, if not liberal lunacy, is about.

PC also demands that "stress", which used to be coped with by less sensitive generations, should now be compensated by huge cash payments lavished on griping incompetents who can't do their jobs, and on policemen and firemen "traumatised" by the normal hazards of work which their predecessors took for granted.

Furthermore, it makes grieving part of the national culture, as it was on such a nauseating scale when large areas were carpeted in rotting vegetation in "mourning" for the Princess of Wales; and it insists that anyone suffering ordinary hardship should be regarded as a "victim" - and, of course, be paid for it.

That PC should have become acceptable in Britain is a glaring symptom of the country's decline. No generation has seen their country so altered, so turned upside down, as children like me born in the 20 years between the two world wars. In our adult lives Britain's entire national spirit, its philosophy, values and standards, have changed beyond belief. Probably no country on earth has experienced such a revolution in thought and outlook and behaviour in so short a space.

Other lands have known what seem to be greater upheavals, the result of wars and revolutions, but these do not compare with the experience of a country which passed in less than a lifetime from being the mightiest empire in history, governing a quarter of mankind, to being a feeble little offshore island whose so-called leaders have lost the will and the courage, indeed the ability, to govern at all.

This is not a lament for past imperial glory, though I regret its inevitable passing, nor is it the raging of a die-hard Conservative. I loathe all political parties, which I regard as inventions of the devil. My favourite prime minister was Sir Alec Douglas-Home, not because he was on the Right, but because he spent a year in office without, on his own admission, doing a damned thing. This would not commend him to New Labour, who count all time lost when they're not wrecking the country.

I am deeply concerned for the United Kingdom and its future. I look at the old country as it was in my youth and as it is today and, to use a fine Scots word, I am scunnered. I know that some things are wonderfully better than they used to be: the new miracles of surgery, public attitudes to the disabled, the health and well-being of children, intelligent concern for the environment, the massive strides in science and technology. Yes, there are material blessings and benefits innumerable which were unknown in our youth.

But much has deteriorated. The United Kingdom has begun to look more like a Third World country, shabby, littered, ugly, run down, without purpose or direction, misruled by a typical Third World government, corrupt, incompetent and undemocratic.

My generation has seen the decay of ordinary morality, standards of decency, sportsmanship, politeness, respect for the law, family values, politics and education and religion, the very character of the British.

Oh how Blimpish this must sound to modern ears, how out of date, how blind to "the need for change and the novelty of a new age". But don't worry about me. It's the present generation with their permissive society, their anything-goes philosophy, and their generally laid-back, inyerface attitude I feel sorry for. They regard themselves as a completely liberated society when in fact they are less free than any generation since the Middle Ages. Indeed, there may never have been such an enslaved generation, in thrall to hang-ups, taboos, restrictions and oppressions unknown to their ancestors (to say nothing of being neck-deep in debt, thanks to a moneylender's economy).

We were freer by far 50 years ago - yes, even with conscription, censorship, direction of labour, rationing, and shortages of everything that nowadays is regarded as essential to enjoyment. We still had liberty beyond modern understanding because we had other freedoms, the really important ones, that are denied to the youth of today. We could say what we liked; they can't. We were not subject to the aggressive pressure of special-interest minority groups; they are. We had no worries about race or sexual orientation; they have. We could, and did, differ from fashionable opinion with impunity, and would have laughed PC to scorn, had our society been weak and stupid enough to let it exist.

We had available to us an education system, public and private, that was the envy of the world. We had little reason to fear being mugged or raped (killed in war, maybe, but that was an acceptable hazard). Our children could play in street and country in safety. We had few problems with bullies because society knew how to deal with bullying and was not afraid to punish it in ways that would send today's progressives into hysterics. We did not know the stifling tyranny of a liberal establishment, determined to impose its views, and beginning to resemble George Orwell's Ministry of Truth.

Above all, we knew who we were and we lived in the knowledge that certain values and standards held true, and that our country, with all its faults and need for reforms, was sound at heart. Not any more. I find it difficult to identify a time when the country was as badly governed as it has been in the past 50 years. We have had the two worst Prime Ministers in our history - Edward Heath (who dragooned us into the Common Market) and Tony Blair. The harm these two have done to Britain is incalculable and almost certainly irreparable.

Whether the public can be blamed for letting them pursue their ruinous policies is debatable. Short of assassination there is little people can do when their political masters have forgotten the true meaning of the democracy of which they are forever prating, are determined to have their own way at all costs and hold public opinion in contempt. I feel I speak not just for myself but for the huge majority of my generation who think as I do but whose voices are so often lost in the clamour.

We are yesterday's people, the over-the-hill gang. (Yes, the old people - not the senior citizens or the time-challenged, but the old people.) Those of ultra-liberal views may take consolation from this - that my kind won't be around much longer, and then they can get on with wrecking civilisation in peace. But they should beware. There may well be more who think like me than the liberal Left establishment likes to think. When my views were first published in book form in 2002, I was not surprised that almost all the reviewers were unfavourable. I had expected that my old-fashioned views would get a fairly hostile reception, but the bitterness did astonish me.

I had not realised how offensive the plain truth can be to the politically correct, how enraged they can be by its mere expression, and how deeply they detest the values and standards respected 50 years ago and which dinosaurs like me still believe in, God help us.

But the readers' reactions to the book were the exact opposite of critical opinion. I have never received such wholehearted and generous support. For the first time in 30 years as a professional writer I had to fall back on a printed card thanking readers for writing, apologising because I could not reply personally to them all. Most of the letters came from the older generation, but by no means all. I was made aware that among the middle-aged and people in their 20s and 30s there is a groundswell of anger and frustration at the damage done to Britain by so-called reformers and dishonest politicians who hardly bother to conceal their contempt for the public's wishes. Plainly many thought they were alone in some reactionary minority. They had been led to think that they were voices muttering to themselves in the wilderness. Well, you are not. There are more of you out there than you realise - very many more, perhaps even a majority.


Australia: Health and Child Safety bureaucracies protect their own "territory" rather than those they are supposed to help

RARELY has an issue progressed from tragedy to mystery to disgust and onward to public controversy with the rapidity of the death of a 10-year-old girl on Bribie Island last week. It began as a holiday eyebrow-raiser, assumed an added sadness when murder was revealed, took on an air of mystery when the child's father was found at Mt Glorious, became nauseatingly horrific when allegations of incestuous rape surfaced and turned into outrage when it became apparent the alleged killer had been released after being treated for mental illness.

Now we have an inquiry into why the system failed an innocent child and into an apparent failure of Queensland Health and the Department of Child Safety to communicate. Still, it took almost a week for Health Minister Stephen Robertson to cut the gordian knot and order his outfit to even start talking to Child Safety if kids are seen to be at risk.

Fortunately, genuine public interest - as opposed to public prurience - has ensured the issue will be investigated by the loftily named Health Quality Assurance Commission rather than disappearing into the mysterious caverns of in-house public service inquiry. Media coyness and legal skittishness have taken second place to common sense. Hopefully, the departments will be struck by the same blinding light rather than skulking behind the traditional wall of confidentiality.

While the underlying causes of the Bribie Island tragedy are probably complex, the events are simple. It seems the alleged perpetrator was a troubled man who stacked on such an act at a shopping centre that he was taken to Royal Brisbane Hospital and held for two weeks, a considerable time in a hard-pressed frontline facility. An involuntary treatment order is imposed only if there is an "imminent risk that a person may cause harm to himself or herself or someone else" yet he was released into a position of sole responsibility for four children.

It defies belief that during those crucial two weeks his family situation was not apparent. It doubly defies belief that Child Safety was not informed. That department, presumably, would have had at least a passing interest, as the children had been the subject of complaints. But maybe not, given that its "low level" categorisation of the problem was so catastrophically wrong.

When it comes to mental illness (still to be legally tested in this case) a public duty of care overrides fragile concepts of individual responsibility. Mental illness presents major difficulties in diagnosis and treatment. It is doubly difficult in a society cracking up under self-induced stress and in which facilities are disgracefully scarce. In this case, professionals made a bad call that led to Health making a fatal decision not to pass on the information to Child Safety. Mistakes happen and have to be forgiven. However, there can be no forgiveness if this child died simply because a dysfunctional department is bureaucratically eggbound.

It comes as no surprise that the Health Department is again at the centre of a human tragedy. Despite all the headline events of recent years it seems chronically incapable of operating sensibly, efficiently and humanely. Child Safety has such a disastrous record that its very title sometimes seems a cruel misnomer. The fact that 57 children known to the department died in one calendar year speaks for itself. Ironically, both departments are largely staffed by good, intelligent, well-trained and kind people. Yet, they let us down so badly and so regularly.

Successive ministers seem so overawed by the baffling complexities of the Health and Child Safety portfolios they are incapable of kicking bums and banging heads together. In this instance it was a simple case of making them talk to each other. Kindergarten stuff, really.



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

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

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


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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Spanish Clergyman Investigated for Encouraging Heterosexual Child Development

A Spanish clergyman is being investigated by the government of the province of Galicia for counseling parents to encourage masculinity in their sons to help them avoid homosexuality. Marcos Zapata, a protestant minister and president of the Dignity Association, was giving a seminar for the Evangelical Council of Aragon when he made the comments, at a talk titled "How to Raise Heterosexual Children." Zapata reportedly stated that he reinforces his sons' masculinity by watching professional wrestling with them and advised his audience to show affection to their children. He told fathers to "hug your sons as much as you can, because if you don't, perhaps another man will".

The Galician Vice President of Equality and Welfare responded to the reported remarks by announcing that he was initiating an investigation into Zapata's activities to discover "any type of proselytism or homophobic attitude" in his work with minors. Zapata's Dignity organization works in the province's schools to combat drug addiction and other social ills.

Homosexual groups have responded by threatening to sue Zapata. "After so many legal victories in this country, and for the first time people are talking openly about homosexuality in schools, we have to deal with fundamentalist groups which take us back to the Franco dictatorship," the president of the National Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals told The Guardian, a British newspaper. "Of course," he added, "we are going to try to stop this from happening."

The fierce outcry against Zapata belies his very tame views about homosexual behavior. Although sodomy is clearly condemned in the Bible, which is regarded as sacred and inerrant by traditional protestants, Zapata speaks about it in the most delicate terms. "The gospel hasn't destroyed the life of homosexuals, it has made it as sin to assume a sexual condition that is not in the perfect will of God," he writes in an internet article. "I reiterate that the church should be a community that offers its embrace and its love to the homosexual person. The Gospel is something that heals and restores."

When interviewed by local Galician media, Zapata retreated further, denying that he sought to heal homosexuals of their condition. "I speak in schools in the nation's schools on the prevention of drug addiction, youth violence, or, if they request it, also about sexual orientation, but of course I don't dedicate myself to curing homosexuality because it isn't an illness," he said. "I participated in that seminar because they asked me and the title refers to the formation of sexual identity of children, and in this there is a genetic aspect and an environmental aspect over which we do have an influence."

David Rego, the Secretary of the Evangelical Council of Galicia, noted in a separate interview that people "are not born homosexual, but it is a personal decision that is made for various reasons" and stated that "there is no doubt" that homosexuality "is today being promoted by various means."

Under successive socialist regimes, the Spanish government has created a body of "civil rights" legislation promoting homosexuality, including a recent law creating "homosexual marriage" and a program of pro-homosexual indoctrination in the nation's schools. Concern about the future of the Spanish family seems to be growing; between one and two million people recently attended a rally in the Spanish capital of Madrid opposing the government's anti-family policies


Drug-Addled Vietnam Drivel Wins National Book Award-Iraq Next?

Top novel National Book Award winner for 2007 is Tree of Smoke, that USA Today calls a "dark novel about the calamities of the Vietnam War." "Reading it feels like a careening journey into our national subconscious," the judges said.

That "subconscious" is not national, except among our literary and media elites.

Tree of Smoke author Denis Johnson was a drugged-out street-person in the `60's, hardly a background qualifying him to pass judgment on the troops who served in Vietnam, or to be taken seriously by anyone with any sense, or sense of decency. The Washington Post's columnist on foreign affairs, David Ignatius, whose entire career has been within the media, without practical experience, wrote a glowing review of this 600-page novel. It is indicative of what passes for truthiness among these circles. Ignatius finds the drug-addled mind of Johnson as a realistic indicator of our troops' minds in Vietnam, and guide to our troops' minds in Iraq.
To write a fat novel about the Vietnam War nearly 35 years after it ended is an act of literary bravado. To do so as brilliantly as Denis Johnson has in Tree of Smoke is positively a miracle.. to its sheer ambition to be definitive for the Vietnam generation.. This is war as hallucination. It's a story of the decomposition and degradation of the characters and, by implication, Vietnam.. by the end he is a wild outcast running guns in Southeast Asia. "I quit working for the giant-size criminals," he says, "and started working for the medium size. Lousy hours and no fringe benefits, but the ethics are clearer.". "This isn't a war. It's a disease. A plague." That is one of the most powerful themes of the book: Vietnam fed a national craving. We couldn't get out, we couldn't stay in; the war was controlling us rather than the other way around. Johnson's skill in rendering the dialect of war was earned the hard way -- during the years in which he was, by his own account, a drug addict..

As a serious war novel, Tree of Smoke is implicitly a story about all wars. And a reader cannot travel this journey without thinking about America's current war in Iraq. Officers and politicians speak of the nobility of this war, as they do of all wars. But when you talk to soldiers in Baghdad or Anbar, you know that it is about surviving, counting down the days, believing in the people on your left and right rather than in the loftier mission statements that emanate from the Green Zone. And those are the lucky soldiers who stay sane. For the vulnerable ones, war takes away these human instincts of survival and replaces them with crazy ones..

Something similar must have happened with the mercifully few U.S. soldiers who were involved in America's worst moments in Iraq -- at Abu Ghraib, Haditha and other places we will hear about later. They were damaged people -- addicted to war, feeding on it in a frenzy, being made crazy by it..

It's a war turned upside down. If we could hear the inner voices of soldiers in Ramadi and Baqubah, behind those wraparound shades they would be thinking about coming home. The decent ones, that is. Those corrupted by war would want to stay on forever, as do Johnson's unforgettable, war-deranged cast of characters.
I had a previous run-in with Ignatius regarding the major media's failure to report for duty in Iraq for Iraq war reporting. Tree of Smoke author Johnson says, in a 2003 interview, he can't even manage to cash a check without his wife's help.
Fourteen years of substance abuse may have affected the writer's mind, so he relies, like Ozzy [Osbourne], on a practical wife to keep him grounded. "Cindy handles all the finances. That's crucial," he says. Last December, for example, he went with her to cash one of his own royalty checks at the bank. "She showed the lady some ID, and I said, 'Shouldn't I show her my ID?' And she said, 'You don't have an account here.'"
Johnson's wife picked up the National Book Award for him, as Johnson is currently in Iraq. I'm sure he will find himself in much friendly company among other home-bound pundits like Ignatius and other writers and editors whose conception of Iraq and our troops was shaped by a misinformed myth adopted about Vietnam and our troops. Many such are writing new myths about Iraq and our troops, and are probably looking forward to validation of their imaginings from drug-addled Johnson.

My friend, Thomas Lipscomb (bio), is a Senior Fellow of the University of Southern California Annenberg Center For The Digital Future, was founding President of Times Books, magazine publisher, widely published investigative journalist, and much more. Lipscomb offers his take on this and other National Book Awards:
As a publisher and editor who has had a number of the books I had published over the past 40 years win Pulitzers and National Book Awards, the 2007 NBA award to TREE OF SMOKE is part of a dismal pattern. While NBA winners 30 years ago were often best-sellers, practically none are at present. There is a reason for that. The prize committees have drifted farther and farther from any recognizable American roots.

When I went into publishing in the late 60s, there was little doubt that the prevailing left wing politics of the publishing and academic communities influenced the awarding of prizes. But there was also room for well-argued and written books that didn't have to carry clear evidence that a politically correct catechism had been mastered by their authors.

But as time went on, evidence of the catechism has become more important in many cases than the excellence of the book. For example, the last book to win a nonfiction NBA about a Republican was more than a quarter century ago in the 1980 Edmund Morris THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Unless you count James Carroll's 1996 AN AMERICAN REQUIEM (which also won the Lucian K. Truscott IV Ingrate Son Award), IF his CIA father was one of the rare GOPers in the CIA.

And there were no other winners on a Republican in the past 50 years and we don't even need to go near the fiction list. And yet Republicans have held the presidency for the majority of that time. But the list of winners covers the predictable liberal waterfront, from the Great Depression, to FDR, LBJ, Civil Rights, Jefferson, Vietnam, etc., etc.

The problem with political correctness of right or left is that it makes everything so predictable, including literary awards. Talent, the most unpredictable thing of all, diminishes as a major factor in the award.

In the early days of printing in Roman Catholic countries the church's fear of general literacy required the imprimatur of the local cardinal or bishop be included in a printed book to allow it to be legally sold in his community. Having freed literacy from one tyranny, we are heading back where we started.

And what could have been more predictable than that the coveted Bancroft Prize in History should be awarded to a work fraudulent on the face of it to anyone who wasn't living in an academic cocoon, Michael Bellesiles ARMING AMERICA. Before someone spent 10 seconds actually checking Bellesiles research, his central thesis that guns were about as rare in colonial America as astolabes (hence there was no historical basis for the 2nd Amendment) seemed just plain loony to a normal American. There clearly were guns hanging over the fireplace of every American colonial hovel, not peace pipes. At least an embarrassed Columbia University revoked the prize in 2002.

Henri Stendal, as acerbic a critic of social climbers as ever lived, created a scene in which his young Sammy Glick was amazed to be given his first award and ribbon by his patron and employer, the Marquis de la Mole. "But what did I do to earn it?" the young man asked, losing his cool totally. The Marquis was vastly amused. "Awards, my boy, are not earned, They are bestowed."

Many a veteran of shooting wars and literary wars can testify to that.

Ban that became a boon for fox hunting

THE law of unintended consequences is the curse of well-meaning lawmakers around the globe. You set out with high ideals of achieving some lofty goal - and end up doing precisely the opposite. So it is with the banning of hunting with dogs. Almost three years after the ban was imposed in 2005, the sport of fox hunting has never been healthier. This Boxing Day more than 250,000 hunt supporters gathered at over 300 meets around the UK - the numbers apparently swollen by people who previously had no interest in hunting, but who now turn out in protest at what they see as an illiberal and nanny-statist law.

So those people who set out to destroy fox hunting have succeeded only in reinvigorating it. Those who wanted to save foxes from the hounds have engineered a situation where more of them are killed than ever before. You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh.

Before the tree huggers start accusing me of being a bloodthirsty animal killer, I should declare a lack of interest. The only thing I was hunting on Boxing Day was the television remote control that was lost down the back of the sofa.

The only time I attended a meet was as a reporter to cover a noisy protest by hunt saboteurs a few years ago. The passions - and occasional violence - aroused on both sides frankly baffled me. But as a general principle I reckon the state has absolutely no business banning an activity that many people enjoy and which causes no harm to anybody else.

What I do resent is the 700 hours of parliamentary time that was devoted to the hunting ban - more than was spent discussing the Iraq war. I've never seen MPs so animated since the last time someone suggested cutting their expenses. Can anyone honestly argue that at a time when our health and education systems are in a meltdown, Britain is threatened by jihadist lunatics and people's pensions have gone down the tubes, this was the best use of valuable parliamentary time?

The result is a law that is such a mess that it is widely ignored - and the police believe is virtually impossible to enforce. Meanwhile, the net impact on animal welfare of the hunting ban is precisely zero. Farmers still need to control the fox population and more are being killed than before the ban was imposed.

But, of course, the hunting ban was nothing to do with animal welfare - it was all about politics. How else could you explain why other "cruel" pastimes, such as fishing, horse racing or factory farming, have been left well alone? Labour's old Left had swallowed the dumping of Clause 4 and Tony Blair's aping of the Conservatives in order to woo Middle England. As a reward they were tossed a bit of red meat in the shape of the hunting ban so they could imagine themselves sticking it to the toffs.

How pathetic. The hunting ban is as nasty a piece of naked class warfare that has ever disgraced the statute books. Let that be a lesson to other busybodies who want the state to ban everything they disagree with. I for one am glad it has backfired so spectacularly. Tally Ho!


Planned Parenthood Entices Teens with "Mile High Club"

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG) has aired a new commercial featuring a stereotyped gay man showering teens with condoms and contraceptive pills aimed specifically at 18 to 24-year-olds. The ads, aired on MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central and TLC, are set to a "Mile High Club" theme, where Stephen, a flagrantly stereotypical gay man "educates" the teenage passengers about 'safe sex' by shoving contraceptives at them. At the end of the commercial, Stephen sits on the pilots lap and hits on him.

"PPGG created this campaign to stress the importance of sexual health in a creative way and one that breaks free from the old ineffective paradigm of relying on fear-mongering tactics to inspire desired behavior changes," said Dian J. Harrison, PPGG's President and CEO in a press release. "We want young people to take control of their sexual health and well-being by using prevention every time they have sex. This ad's message normalizes pregnancy prevention and safer sex in a healthy, cool, and humorous way."

The commercial, which will run through February 2008, is the latest in a series of raunchy sex-obsessed commercials aired by the heavily-tax-funded PPGG and aimed subverting at teens and young adults.

In early 2007, PPGG made a commercial that showed a sloppy-looking male angel eating popcorn at the head of the bed watching a couple having sex. Then his female angel counterpart appeared imploring him to do something. The male angel uses a TV remote and rewinds the scene of the couple in bed. This time the woman asks her male partner if he has any protection, to which he exclaims, "Yeah, of course." The woman responds, "Amen!"

In 2006, PPGG produced a spot depicting a young woman working with power tools who later hops into bed with a man, selects items from a Planned Parenthood "safe sex" tool case and exclaims, "Nice tool!" "The organization's shameless promotion of its attempts to influence teenagers with a morally reprehensible TV spot is just another reason why all taxpayer funding of the group should be yanked immediately," said Jim Sedlak, executive director of American Life League's STOPP International.

According to PPGG's 2006 tax return, $12.2 million of its $22.1 million budget comes from taxpayer sources by means of fees and contracts from government agencies.



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

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

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


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Saturday, January 05, 2008

We Differ More Than We Thought

The last thirty to forty years of social science has brought an overbearing censorship to the way we are allowed to think and talk about the diversity of people on Earth. People of Siberian descent, New Guinean Highlanders, those from the Indian sub-continent, Caucasians, Australian aborigines, Polynesians, Africans - we are, officially, all the same: there are no races.

Flawed as the old ideas about race are, modern genomic studies reveal a surprising, compelling and different picture of human genetic diversity. We are on average about 99.5% similar to each other genetically. This is a new figure, down from the previous estimate of 99.9%. To put what may seem like miniscule differences in perspective, we are somewhere around 98.5% similar, maybe more, to chimpanzees, our nearest evolutionary relatives.

The new figure for us, then, is significant. It derives from among other things, many small genetic differences that have emerged from studies that compare human populations. Some confer the ability among adults to digest milk, others to withstand equatorial sun, others yet confer differences in body shape or size, resistance to particular diseases, tolerance to hot or cold, how many offspring a female might eventually produce, and even the production of endorphins - those internal opiate-like compounds.

We also differ by surprising amounts in the numbers of copies of some genes we have. Modern humans spread out of Africa only within the last 60-70,000 years, little more than the blink of an eye when stacked against the 6 million or so years that separate us from our Great Ape ancestors. The genetic differences amongst us reveal a species with a propensity to form small and relatively isolated groups on which natural selection has often acted strongly to promote genetic adaptations to particular environments.

We differ genetically more than we thought, but we should have expected this: how else but through isolation can we explain a single species that speaks at least 7,000 mutually unintelligible languages around the World?

What this all means is that, like it or not, there may be many genetic differences among human populations - including differences that may even correspond to old categories of 'race' - that are real differences in the sense of making one group better than another at responding to some particular environmental problem. This in no way says one group is in general 'superior' to another, or that one group should be preferred over another. But it warns us that we must be prepared to discuss genetic differences among human populations.


Toronto Catholic Magazine Faced with Human Rights Complaint by Homosexual

Another Canadian publication has come under attack for its opinions through the agency of the government-funded Canadian Human Rights Commissions (HRC). Closely following an uproar in the media against government-sponsored censorship via HRC against Maclean's magazine and columnist Mark Steyn and an Alberta HRC judgment ordering Alberta news media to not publish any comments on homosexuality by a Christian pastor, Toronto's Catholic Insight magazine has reported they stand accused in an HRC complaint of "targeting homosexuals".

Catholic Insight is a Catholic political and cultural general interest magazine that regularly and accurately expounds orthodox Catholic teaching, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on homosexuality as well as harmful consequences to individual persons and society of the active homosexual "lifestyle".

The magazine now reveals that Rob Wells, a homosexual activist associated with the Pride Centre of Edmonton, in February this year filed a nine-point complaint against Catholic Insight. Wells alleges that the magazine made "negative generalizations" about homosexuals; portrayed them as preying upon children, as dangerous and "devoid of any redeeming qualities and...innately evil".

Catholic Insight (CI), however, bases its editorial policy very strictly on Catholic Church teaching which is at pains to separate what it says is the deviant behaviour and disordered inclination of homosexuality from the person.

Wells' complaint cites articles from Catholic Insight dating back to 1994 but Catholic Insight counters that the citations are "without context" and do not give an accurate picture of what the magazine has actually published. "In fact," the magazine said in an editorial, "most of them are even out of context from the sentences from which they were taken."

The magazine considers the complaints unfounded and "made with the intent to harass" and will "defend itself vigorously should the CHRC proceed". CI continues to emphasize with the Catholic Church, however, that "homosexual acts are ones of grave depravity and intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law, close the sexual act to the gift of life, do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity and cannot be approved under any circumstances."

The Human Rights Commissions have become a powerful tool available to homosexual activists to silence critics of their lifestyle and opponents of their political agenda. With a complainant's expenses fully paid by tax payers and no requirement to follow normal judicial rules for evidence or due process, there is little to lose and in nearly every case, the HRC Tribunals have found in favour of the complaints when it has been homosexuals against Christianity.

In only one case amongst many, in November this year the Alberta HRC ruled against a Christian pastor, Stephen Boissoin, executive director of the Concerned Christian Coalition, who had published an article in the Red Deer Advocate in 2002 saying that the homosexual political movement's goals were "wicked" and harmful to young people. Boissoin wrote as a Christian minister against a political movement that he feared was corrupting young people and Canadian society, not against particular persons.

The Human Rights Commission compliant, made by Dr. Darren E. Lund a long time homosexual political activist, claimed, however, that the article had incited "hatred against homosexuals" as individuals. He told the Commission panel that he was "fearful that the writings of Mr. Boissoin are likely to expose people to hatred and contempt as well as the potential for physical danger" and "foster an atmosphere of violence and intimidation for people, based on their sexual orientation". He said he viewed Boissoin's letter as a "call to arms letter."

The Alberta Human Rights Tribunal ruled in favour of Lund who demanded that Boissoin "apologize for submitting the article and for his views on homosexuality." If he did not, the Commission panel has the power to "provide an Order disallowing the publication of Mr. Boissoin's views on homosexuality in any of the major print media in Alberta,"

The ruling listed the media outlets subject to its order as the Red Deer Advocate, Red Deer Express, Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun and Lethbridge Herald.


Australia: More murderous Muslim madness

No doubt the girl was threatening the a*hole's "honour" by showing a normal interest in boys

A TEENAGER was last night strangled by her father before he took his own life. Neighbours were alerted to the tragedy by the "howling screams" of the 14-year-old girl's mother, who made the gruesome discovery shortly after 6pm. Police and ambulance crews rushed to the Stevens St, Pennant Hills townhouse in Sydney's northwest, arriving to find the girl unconscious and her father dead.

Distraught neighbours last night said the evening calm was shattered by the mother's distraught screams. "The scream was heard down the street. It was horrible," one neighbour said. It is understood the family were originally from Iran and had signed a two-year lease on the property three months ago.

Paramedics desperately tried to revive the teenager but she was pronounced dead a short time later. Police said the girl had been strangled but did not reveal the father's age or cause of death. A police spokesman last night confirmed the deaths of the teen and her father were being investigated as a murder-suicide. "Investigators don't believe a third party is involved. The exact cause and nature of the deaths will be established in a post mortem," the spokesman said.

The officer-in charge of the investigation, Inspector Michael Begg last night declined to talk about the incident when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.


Your government will look after you (NOT)

Australia: Despite nine calls, no one came for dying man

THE family of a man bashed to death during a Christmas Day game of beach cricket called triple-0 six times but still had to drive the dying man to hospital themselves because neither the police nor ambulances arrived in time. Combined with three other direct calls to Geraldton police station, north of Perth, which raised concerns about the escalating violence at Sunset Beach that night, the family of William Rowe made a total of nine calls asking for police or medical assistance.

It is understood the quality of information in some of the calls may have been affected because the callers were under duress. But in the end no police or ambulance vehicles arrived at the beach, forcing the frantic family to drive an unconscious Mr Rowe to hospital with another family member who had been struck in the face with a bottle during an attack in the beach car park.

A man, 21, and a group of [black] teenagers have been charged over the attacks, which began while Mr Rowe, 49, a farmer, and his family were enjoying the game of beach cricket. In a written response to questions on the handling of the tragedy, the acting police commissioner Chris Dawson defended the inability of the police force to respond fast enough to calls for help.

He said that one of the four high-priority incidents that prevented officers from going to the beach was a home burglary. The others were a violent domestic argument and an incident involving a man armed with a knife. Mr Dawson continued to refuse to give specific times for those incidents.

Detailing the calls from Sunset Beach, he said police arrived about 21 minutes after the first of the calls, by which time the Rowe family was on its way to hospital and most of their alleged attackers had left. "On the information available to them at the time, I am satisfied Geraldton police made the right decisions," he said. He told The West Australian that of the six triple-0 calls made, five were made for ambulance and hospital assistance and one was to police, who had arrived at the empty beach car park by that stage. Mr Dawson said that he would wait for the State Coroner's findings into Mr Rowe's death. The findings could take more than two years to be handed down.



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

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

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


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Friday, January 04, 2008

In Canada You Get Charged for Killing an Unborn Fawn, but Not an Unborn Human Being

As Canada's legislators prepare to debate Bill C-484, Canada's unborn victims of crime bill that was introduced in Parliament in November, conservation officers are reportedly "emotional" after having discovered three men in British Columbia who were hunting pregnant deer. The three have pleaded guilty to violating the Wildlife Act after having shot two female deer, one of whom was found to have been pregnant with two fawns. The men have been charged with four counts against the Act, two for killing the two adult females and two more for the unborn fawns. CanWest News service reports that conservation officers were "horrified" at the incident.

The deer season in British Columbia runs from mid-September to the end of November and the law prevents female deer from being included in the hunt. The officers believe that the deer were targeted specifically because they appeared pregnant. Conservation officer Dave Jevons told CanWest that the case was "emotional," because the hunters appeared to be after the fawns for food or medicine. Some consider foetal fawns a delicacy.

John Hof, head of Campaign Life Coalition British Columbia said the case highlights the "absurdity" of having laws that protect foetal fawns but not foetal human beings.


A review from Yorkshire of the past year in Britain

By Bernard Ingham -- presumably Sir Bernard Ingham, a journalist best known as Margaret Thatcher's press secretary

In the good old days, when we celebrated Christmas without thinking we might offend anybody, we had reached Boxing Day feeling that all was right with the world. Most of it was coloured pink in our atlases and we knew it was a privilege to be British. We were the best, even if we couldn't afford a turkey and, as ever, Halifax Town could not be relied upon to keep us cheerful beyond 4.45pm. Pride, they say, goeth before a fall. So 50 years on, let us take stock of our reduced condition over the remains of the turkey, assuming you could get one because of pestilence.

I shall try to be positive. We are possibly the least corrupt society in the world, if you ignore the link between the funding of our political parties and peerages and cronyism and our guilt by association with the European Union, which has now gone 13 years without its auditors being able to approve its accounts.

We are dab hands at spending the oodles of money we earn or can borrow. Statistically, we are up to our ears in debt and don't seem to worry unduly, which amounts to a revolution in attitudes. Retail therapy is practised widely with apparently beneficial psychological results. Materially, we want for nothing, but keep our manufacturing-lite economy going by buying.

We are immensely mobile, especially at Christmas. Some 27m are said to be on the move this year, fog, clogged roads, airport security, strikes and railway companies permitting, since the last allow "essential engineering works" to get in the way of uniting families.

No-one can surpass our political correctness. It passeth all understanding how easily Christmas is banned, watered down and generally considered shameful by the multiculturists and how the "health and safety Taliban" discover the possibility of death and mutilation even in changing a Parliamentary light bulb.

We are amazingly tolerant of spinmeisters who promise the earth and deliver nothing; cheats, conmen and rip-off merchants who infest the land; "celebrities" - an infinitely elastic term - who are anything but role models; footballers who are paid a king's ransom for their vulgar Viking tendencies off the field and their mediocrity on it; and climate changers with an urge to make us all feel guilty. This is not to mention 4,000 suspected terrorists running around loose in the name of Islam.

Indeed, we have become so passive that conspiracy theorists might conclude that somebody is putting something in our water or, more likely, alcohol. We can hardly summon up a squeak when the Football Association appoints an Italian, who cannot speak English, to manage our national soccer team, who admittedly are similarly afflicted, y' know...

In short, we are wonderfully self-satisfied. Students of empires would identify this as the penultimate stage in the inevitable process of decline into oblivion. Let us test this theory by considering what we are bad at.

Well, we are not very good at getting married. Most children are now born out of wedlock, thereby pretty well ensuring intensified social problems in the future with indisciplined youth. To cap that, we cannot as a state educate our young people. We are in free-fall in the international league tables of achievement. This does not augur well for the future.

Nor does our inability to control our borders. We haven't a clue how many immigrants are in our midst, legally or otherwise. You can take that as read when the Home Office admits 11,000 illegal immigrants are working as security guards, one of them on its HQ reception desk. We are reduced to bribing illegal immigrants to go home with money to start ostrich farms.

We are certainly being out-bred by immigrants called Mohammed. How long before we have a country to call our own? Come to think of it, that was an academic question long before Gordon Brown churlishly brought himself to sign the new superstate-building EU treaty.

Nor can we police our towns and cities. Only one offender is jailed for every 100 crimes committed. Things are so bad that our priests daren't celebrate midnight mass for fear drunks will wreck it.

Amid all this impending doom, we have a Prime Minister who is forever "doing all in his power" to improve matters, having done all in his power for 10 years to make them worse, and a generation of politicians whose greatest ability is to depress us. The message is clear. Britain's only relevant New Year resolution is: "We must do better. And no backsliding".


Kwanzaa: Holiday From the FBI

By Ann Coulter

Is it just me, or does Kwanzaa seem to come earlier and earlier each year? The same goes for the Iowa caucuses -- the early scheduling of which forced me to run an attack on a synthetic candidate, rather than a synthetic holiday, last week.

I've seen so few mentions of Kwanzaa this year, I was going to declare my campaign a success, but I see that President Bush issued another absurd Kwanzaa message this year, referring to millions of African-Americans gathering to celebrate Kwanzaa. I believe more African-Americans spent this season reflecting on the birth of Christ than some phony non-Christian holiday invented a few decades ago by an FBI stooge. Kwanzaa is a holiday for white liberals, not blacks.

It is a fact that Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 by a black radical FBI stooge, Ron Karenga, aka Dr. Maulana Karenga. Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI. In what was probably ultimately a foolish gamble, during the madness of the '60s the FBI encouraged the most extreme black nationalist organizations in order to discredit and split the left. The more preposterous the organization, the better. Using that criterion, Karenga's United Slaves was perfect. In the annals of the American '60s, Karenga was the Father Gapon, stooge of the czarist police.

Despite modern perceptions that blend all the black activists of the '60s, the Black Panthers did not hate whites. They did not seek armed revolution. Those were the precepts of Karenga's United Slaves. United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, gunning down Black Panthers and adopting invented "African" names. (That was a big help to the black community: How many boys named "Jamal" currently sit on death row?)

Whether Karenga was a willing dupe, or just a dupe, remains unclear. Curiously, in a 1995 interview with Ethnic NewsWatch, Karenga matter-of-factly explained that the forces out to get O.J. Simpson for the "framed" murder of two whites included: "the FBI, the CIA, the State Department, Interpol, the Chicago Police Department" and so on. Karenga should know about FBI infiltration. (He further noted that the evidence against O.J. "was not strong enough to prohibit or eliminate unreasonable doubt" -- an interesting standard of proof.)

In the category of the-gentleman-doth-protest-too-much, back in the '70s, Karenga was quick to criticize rumors that black radicals were government-supported. When Nigerian newspapers claimed that some American black radicals were CIA operatives, Karenga publicly denounced the idea, saying, "Africans must stop generalizing about the loyalties and motives of Afro-Americans, including the widespread suspicion of black Americans being CIA agents."

Now we know that the FBI fueled the bloody rivalry between the Panthers and United Slaves. In one barbarous outburst, Karenga's United Slaves shot to death Black Panthers Al "Bunchy" Carter and Deputy Minister John Huggins on the UCLA campus. Karenga himself served time, a useful stepping-stone for his current position as a black studies professor at California State University at Long Beach....

Kwanzaa itself is a lunatic blend of schmaltzy '60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven "principles" of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life -- economics, work, personality, even litter removal. ("Kuumba: Everyone should strive to improve the community and make it more beautiful.") It takes a village to raise a police snitch.

When Karenga was asked to distinguish Kawaida, the philosophy underlying Kwanzaa, from "classical Marxism," he essentially explained that under Kawaida, we also hate whites. While taking the "best of early Chinese and Cuban socialism" -- which one assumes would exclude the forced abortions, imprisonment of homosexuals and forced labor -- Kawaida practitioners believe one's racial identity "determines life conditions, life chances and self-understanding." There's an inclusive philosophy for you.

Coincidentally, the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the very same seven principles of the Symbionese Liberation Army, another charming invention of the Worst Generation. In 1974, Patricia Hearst, kidnap victim-cum-SLA revolutionary, posed next to the banner of her alleged captors, a seven-headed cobra. Each snake head stood for one of the SLA's revolutionary principles: Umoja, Kujichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba and Imani -- the exact same seven "principles" of Kwanzaa.

With his Kwanzaa greetings, President Bush is saluting the intellectual sibling of the Symbionese Liberation Army, killer of housewives and police. He is saluting the founder of United Slaves, who were such lunatics that they shot Panthers for not being sufficiently insane -- all with the FBI as their covert ally. It's as if David Duke invented a holiday called "Anglika," and the president of the United States issued a presidential proclamation honoring the synthetic, racist holiday. People might well stand up and take notice if that happened.

Kwanzaa was the result of a '60s psychosis grafted onto the black community. Liberals have become so mesmerized by multicultural nonsense that they have forgotten the real history of Kwanzaa and Karenga's United Slaves -- the violence, the Marxism, the insanity. Most absurdly, for leftists anyway, is that they have forgotten the FBI's tacit encouragement of this murderous black nationalist cult founded by the father of Kwanzaa.

Now the "holiday" concocted by an FBI dupe is honored in a presidential proclamation and public schools across the nation. In Oregon public schools this year, Kwanzaa -- but not Christmas -- appeared on the official calendar. Bush called Kwanzaa a holiday that promotes "unity" and "faith." Faith in what? Liberals' unbounded capacity to respect any faith but Christianity?

A movement that started approximately 2,000 years before Kwanzaa leaps well beyond mere "unity" and "faith" to proclaim that we are all equal before God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). It was practitioners of that faith who were at the forefront of the abolitionist and civil rights movements. But that's all been washed down the memory hole, along with the true origins of Kwanzaa.


Australia: Now local councils are banning kites

Using "safety" to attack the recreations of normal people again

A [NSW] council has taken the crazy step of banning kites in a popular park, with the declaration of war on fun upsetting local families. Parents are outraged Shellharbour Council has moved to outlaw kite flying in a local community reserve, robbing children of a popular activity. The kite prohibition was listed among other banned activities such as carrying guns, lighting fires and horse riding.

Lincoln Steel regularly takes his children to Flinders Reserve, in the centre of Shellharbour, and is appalled his family now faces a $100 council-issued fine if they fly a kite. "How stupid is that. You can do just about everything else but you can't fly a kite," Mr Steel said. Mr Steel noticed the sign about four weeks ago but it emerged yesterday even the Council is having second thoughts about its tough stance on harmless fun.

When told of his Council's kite-flying ban, Mayor David Hamilton yesterday ordered a full investigation. He promised The Daily Telegraph that if investigators failed to find a serious safety reason for the ban, the sign would be torn down. "It will have to be a very good reason because that is what parks are for, parks are for kids to enjoy and families to enjoy," he said. "I've got grandkids myself and on numerous occasions I have taken my grandkids to fly kites, I am at a total loss to say why that sign is there."

The kite ban was only brought to Mr Hamilton's attention over the weekend. He said he had been unaware a sign had been posted at the reserve. Mr Hamilton said if a serious risk to children flying kites was found, such as overhead powerlines, he would take the ban seriously.

Deputy Mayor Michele Greig supported Mr Hamilton's investigation but she also said kite flying could be a dangerous activity. "Children's safety is the No. 1 priority," she said. "If it is a safety issue, I have no problem (with the ban). It is Council's role to make it a safe environment for people to use it."

Mr Hamilton said his investigation was taking extra time because of the long weekend but he hoped to resolve the issue as soon as possible.



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

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

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


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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cardinal criticises UK homosexual laws

The senior Roman Catholic leader used his New Year message to praise marriage and deliver an implicit attack on the Government's gay equality laws. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Church in England and Wales, said most parents did not want their children to be taught that marriage was just "one lifestyle choice among many".

The cardinal said the traditional family remained central to the well-being of society but was being dangerously eroded. While society was slowly waking up to the dangers of climate change and pollution for the planet, it was still destroying the family, he said. "It has taken us a long time to realise that if we cut down trees, use cars with highly leaded fuels and build factories with toxic emissions, we were gradually destroying the ecosystem within which we live and breathe.

"Perhaps, however, it has been harder for us to admit those elements in our relationships or in our society which have contributed to the fragmentation of the family. "Yet it is equally true that we are rapidly moving the very structures on which society is built and on which humanity depends; we are gradually destroying the 'ecosystem' that supports the family."

The cardinal said he was aware that many people had suffered broken marriages or were "courageous" single parents and he understood their sorrow and hurt. However, he emphasised the Catholic Church's commitment to the home as the focus of family life and the centrality of Christian marriage. "Most parents do not want their children to be taught that marriage is no more than one lifestyle choice among many," he said. "They do not want to expose their children to the risk of becoming promiscuous or indulging in drug and alcohol abuse. "Many, many young people, when expressing their dreams and hopes, express the desire to one day be happily married and to have a family."

The cardinal's comments follow a series of clashes between the Catholic Church and the Government over the introduction of gay equality legislation and civil partnerships. Some Catholics have even questioned the Cardinal's role in the recent conversion of Tony Blair, the former prime minister, who was instrumental in pushing through many of the reforms.

In his message, the cardinal urged parents to bring God into their homes so that their children would carry Christian values into the next generation. "Our children are the messages we send to tomorrow," he said. "We can forget easily what is said in church, or even in school, but we don't forget what happens in the home. "Somehow, if we take God's Word into our daily life and try to live it, then we are scattering the seed ourselves for the younger generation and generations to come."


What feminists don't get

I recently wrote some posts on feminists who become mothers. The idea was to see what happens to the feminist ideal of autonomy when babies start coming along. There was a very critical response from the feminist women I quoted. Predictably, some of the women argued that I was a privileged male who already had autonomy and wanted to keep it from women. For example, the operator of the blue milk site which ran the series on feminist motherhood had this to say about me:
Only someone with all the autonomy they could ever hope for could possibly suggest so determinedly that others not aspire to it. White male drowning in privilege I think.
She's not alone in holding such a view. There was an entry at the feminist website I blame the patriarchy on the topic of marriage and autonomy. It was assumed in the feminist discussion following the entry that men got all the autonomy they wanted in marriage, whilst women suffered on alone:
I want everything, just like men get to have, except without having an easy life buttressed by inequality. ... Thus, marriage is "work" ... but it is woman who has to do most of it; the dude merely has to show up at the wedding. ... Your Nigel is different [One suspects that most Nigels are!], of course, [but] he enjoys a privilege that you will never see for as long as you live. I allude to the privilege of personal sovereignty.
Are these feminists right? Do married men have all the autonomy they could ever hope for? Are they drowning in a privilege they seek to deny to others?

It's not enough just to say that the feminists are wrong; what has to be explained is just how far off the mark they are. If a man held autonomy to be a key aim in life he would never marry and never consent to an active fatherhood. Marriage and fatherhood lock men into a life of work and responsibility in which there is rarely time or money for a man to do as he pleases. It's not an easy thing for a man to adjust to and increasing numbers of men appear to be opting out or at least delaying their commitment to married life.

Most men, though, do sacrifice the larger part of their autonomy to work, marry and have children. They do so because of an impulse to find love and a soul mate; because of a sense that becoming a husband and father are the proper "offices" for an adult male through which their lives are completed: because of the instinct to procreate to pass on something of themselves to future generations; and because of paternal instincts to have children to love and to guide to adulthood. Men are in their natures protectors and so there is a level at which meeting the burdens of fatherhood is a self-fulfilment.

Why do feminists misunderstand men? The answer is that they are thinking ideologically. According to feminist patriarchy theory, men as a class invented gender as a social construct in order to secure the privilege of autonomy for themselves at the expense of oppressed women. Institutions like marriage, according to patriarchy theory, are designed to secure male privilege over women.

So if you're a feminist who accepts patriarchy theory you are likely to believe that men are motivated by a desire for power over women and that marriage secures for men a privilege of autonomy in which, unlike women, they have it easy and can do as they please.

The gap between theory and reality is vast. Patriarchy theory is not a truthful account of what happens in society and it does harm to relations between men and women and to family formation. It's time to put it aside and to look more directly at the lives of men and women.



By Barry Rubin

Much will be said about Benazir Bhutto's assassination; little will be understood about what it truly means. I'm not speaking here about Pakistan, of course, as important as is that country. But rather the lesson-as if we need any more-for that broad Middle East with Pakistan at one end and the Atlantic Ocean coast on the other.

This is a true story. Back in 1946, an American diplomat asked an Iranian editor why his newspaper angrily attacked the United States but never the Soviet Union. The Iranian said that it was obvious. "The Russians," he said, "they kill people!" Murder is a very effective way to influence people.

A dozen years earlier, in 1933, an Iraqi official, Sami Shawkat, gave a talk which became one of the major texts of Arab nationalism. "There is something more important than money and learning for preserving the honor of a nation and for keeping humiliation at bay," he stated. "That is strength....Strength, as I use the word here, means to excel in the Profession of Death."

What, you might ask, was Shawkat's own profession? He was director-general of Iraq's ministry of education. This was how young people were to be taught and directed; this is where Saddam Hussein came from. Seventy-five years later the subsequent history of Iraq and the rest of the Arab world show just how well Shawkat did his job.

September 11 in the United States; the Bali bombing for Australia; the tube bombing for Britain; the commuter train bombing for Spain, these were all merely byproducts of this pathology. The pathology in question is not Western policy toward the Middle East but rather Middle Eastern policy toward the Middle East.

Ever since I read Shawkat's words as a student, the phrase, "Profession of Death," which gave his article its title, struck me as a pun. On one hand, the word "profession" means "career." To be a killer-note well that Shawkat was not talking specifically about soldiers, those who fight, but rather those who murder-was the highest calling of all. It was more important than being a teacher, who forms character; more important than a businessperson, who enriches his country; more important than a doctor who preserves the life of fellow citizens. Destruction was a higher calling than construction. And for sure in the Arabic-speaking world what has been reaped is what has been sowed.

But also the word "profession" here reminds me of the verb "to profess" as in the word "professor," that is "to preach" and to teach. What is of greatest value is for an educator to preach and glorify death. What kind of ideology, what kind of society, what kind of values, does such a priority produce? Look and see.

Like children playing with dynamite, Western intellectuals, journalists, and diplomats fantasize that they are achieving results in the Middle East with their words, promises, apologies, money, and concessions. Yet how can such innocents cope despite-or perhaps because of--all their good intentions with polities and societies whose basic ruling ethos is that of the serial killer?

And what can be achieved when those most forward-looking and most creative, those who want to break with the ideas and methods creating a disastrous mess, the stagnant system which characterizes so much of the Middle East, are systematically murdered? Read the roll: King Abdallah of Jordan, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri of Lebanon, the bold author Farouq Fawda in Egypt, Iraqi Sunnis who dare seek compromise, Palestinian moderates, Algerian modernists, and thousands of women who seek a small degree of freedom.

The radicals are right: dying is a disincentive. And for every one they kill how many thousands give in; and for every one they threaten how many hundreds give in? Even in the West many individuals who pride themselves as knights of knowledge and paladins of free speech quickly crumble at the prospect of being culled for their cartoons.

Seventy-five years after Shawkat, Hamas television teaches Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip that their highest aspiration should be to become a suicide bomber, with success measured by how many Jews are killed. And, by the way, the Palestinian Authority's television in the West Bank sends a similar message, albeit slightly less frequently.

Will billions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) change anything when the men with the guns grab what they want? Are PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, respectively a timid bureaucrat and a well-meaning economist, going to take a bullet for lifting one finger to get a compromise peace with Israel?

How are you going to get a government of national conciliation in Iraq when the insurgents have shown they can gun down any Sunni politician or cleric who steps out of line?

The current supporters of the Lebanese government are the bravest politicians in the Arabic-speaking world, men willing to defy death rather than surrender to the radical Islamists of Hizballah or the imperialism of Syria. But how can they stand firm when democratic governments rush to engage with the Syrian government that murder them, while Western media proclaim the moderation of a Damascus ruler who systematically kills those who oppose him?

Can anyone really expect a stable society capable of progress in Pakistan when a large majority of the population expresses admiration for Usama bin Ladin? And what about the Saudi system where, as one local writer put it, the big Usama put into practice what the little Usama learned in a Saudi school?

Don't you get it? The radical forces in the region are not expecting to retain or gain power by negotiating, compromising, or being better understood. They believe they are going to shoot their way into power or, just as good, accept the surrender of those they have intimidated. That is why so much of the Western analysis and strategies for dealing with the region are a bad joke. Usama bin Ladin understands that, as he once said, people are going to back the strongest horse in the race. According to all too many people in the Western elites, the way to win is to be the nicest horse.

But doesn't this assessment sound terribly depressing and hopeless? Well, yes and no. Radical Islamists like to proclaim that they will triumph because they love death while their enemies-that is, soon-to-be-victims-love life. Be careful what you wish for, though, because you probably will get it. For those who love death the reward is.death.

For those who love life, the outcomes include decent educational systems, living standards, individual rights, and strong economic systems. I can't help but thinking that Western Civilization has been built on a different model, even when people completely forget about it and take it for granted, based on ideas like this:

"I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life...." (Deuteronomy 31:19)

All these things, and others that go along with them, are what really produce strength. And isn't it interesting that, contrary to Shawkat, the nations that put the priority on these values, ideas, and constructive efforts enjoy far more honor and suffer far less humiliation than happens with his model. This is not that they have no faults but they also contain the mechanisms that are usually sufficient to correct these faults.

In contrast, the profession of death has wrecked most Middle Eastern societies. But it has never succeeded in defeating a free society. It is not an effective tactic for destroying others but only for devastating one's own people. Who killed Benazir Bhutto? The Sami Shawkat philosophy: alike in its Arab nationalist, Islamist, and Pakistani authoritarian versions which dominate Middle East politics.


More on Australia's proposed internet censorship

It sounds entirely defensible, at first: the Federal Government plans to protect unwary children by blocking violence and pornography on the internet. Yet this simple sounding initiative - barely discussed during the election - is riddled with technical, financial, moral and social complexities. The Government's plan, overseen by Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy, would require internet service providers (ISPs) to block undesirable sites on computers accessed by all Australians.

A seething Dr Roger Clarke, chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, bluntly described the proposal as "stupid and inappropriate". He said not only was it unworkable, but it was a sinister blow to an individual's rights to use the internet without censorship. "Not only will it not work, it is quite dangerous to let the Government censor the net and take control out of the hands of parents,' Clarke said. "It is an inappropriate thing for them to be doing. Mr Conroy is like a schoolmaster playing God with the Australian population, all because of the dominance of a moral minority."

Conroy's view is that the legislation - compared by critics to Chinese-style internet censorship - will render unseen the most vile and extreme sites only. "Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation on the internet is like going down the Chinese road," Conroy said. "If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd Labor Government is going to disagree."

One problem for the Government is that blocking child porn may unintentionally block acceptable sites. The history of the internet is full of such examples; one blogger found that, due to spamware set to block ads for sex drug Cialis, he was unable to publish the word "socialist".

Another problem, according to civil libertarians, is that policing the net should be left to parents - not a big brother-style bureaucracy. And, if it is disingenuous to compare Labor's policy to China's malevolent control over web access to its citizens, it is equally disingenuous of Rudd's Government to claim the issue simply relates to child pornography. There are genuine concerns that the Government - backed by morals groups such as Family First - will in time extend the powers outside of their intended target area.

Also of concern is that, under the Government's plan, users would be permitted to "opt out" of the scheme - and might therefore find themselves listed as possible deviants.

Service providers fear any legislation would be "the thin end of the wedge", heralding widespread censorship. Besides, what evidence is there that young children using the web are regularly stumbling across child pornography? Sites used by paedophiles are well hidden and frequently relocated to avoid detection.

On a practical level, ISPs fear the mass blocking of sites could slow internet speeds and cost millions of dollars to implement. Crucially, the Government has not explained how such a system would be paid for or who would monitor it. The truth is, despite the policy having been part of Labor's manifesto since 2005, and following claims the Government is "engaged constructively with the sector", no one has the faintest idea how such a system would work.

It is expected any future filtered feeds would be based on a current voluntary UK system operated by British Telecom. Sites identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (AMAC) would be "blacklisted" and then blocked by the servers. The ability for download speeds to be maintained would depend on the exact number of sites blocked - it is suspected around 2000 sites could cause problems. A user typing in the address would be sent to an error page or possibly - as in Scandinavia - redirected to a police page.

However, ISPs fear a system based on key indicator words could rapidly clog the system. In the UK the Internet Watch Foundation has its encrypted list of 1200 paedophile and race-hate sites updated twice a day. Even still, it is unlikely to deter computer savvy paedophiles here from simply relocating their sites or from swapping pictures on message boards or in forums, thus rendering any filter impotent.

So far the industry, although eager not to be seen to be dragging its feet on child pornography, has been noticeably reticent in its response to Labor's plans. Internet Industry Association spokesman Peter Coroneos was keen to emphasise the work already being done by service providers in supplying free filters. They are likely to clarify their position after ACMA runs simulated tests on a filtered network later this year. "We obviously want to know if this will have an impact on network performance," Coroneos said. "At the moment we don't know what the extent of it will be, what it will cost, and whether it will set a precedent for other changes. We just don't know if it is feasible."



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

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

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


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Is this the stupidest political correctness yet?

Police afraid to use technology to catch criminals because it is "racist"

We wouldn't want to imply we were looking for a racial bias in hair follicles, blood, and semen, now would we? Wired Magazine has an interesting article this Christmas, about a molecular biologist, Tony Frudakis, who said he could determine a suspect's race by analyzing his genetic material. In March of 2003, desperate police investigators turned to the scientist in hopes of solving multiple murders by narrowing down the race of the suspect. They sent him a "blind" DNA test with swabs from 20 people to identify their race. The result? 100% success.
On a conference call a few weeks later, Frudakis reported his results on their killer. "Your guy could be African-American or Afro-Caribbean, but there is no chance that this is a Caucasian." There was a prolonged silence, followed by a flurry of questions. They all came down to this: Would Frudakis bet his life on his results? Absolutely.

Quickly changing course, the authorities soon turned up the file of Derrick Todd Lee, a 34-year-old black man with an extensive rap sheet for domestic violence, assault, stalking, and peeping. The police got a subpoena, took a cheek swab, and a few days later had an answer: Lee's sample matched DNA collected at the crime scenes.
The system Mr.Frudakis uses is called "DNAWitness" which analyzes DNA from 176 locations of the known genome. Sequences of DNA are able to differentiate African, Indo-European, Native, or Asian heritage. There is no other known technology which can assist police in determining the race of a suspect they are looking for. But, somewhat unsurprisingly, police have been reluctant to use it, and the molecular biologist may soon be unable to afford the continuance of the program.

The reasons boil down to two usual suspects. The cost is spicey, at basic tests running more than a $1,000. The second, and more important issue has to do with offending people. Since DNAWitness is based on determining the race of a suspect, it becomes a "racial profiling" tool, a politically unpopular item to be branded with.
"Once we start talking about predicting racial background from genetics, it's not much of a leap to talking about how people perform based on their DNA - why they committed that rape or stole that car or scored higher on that IQ test," says Troy Duster, former president of the American Sociological Association.
People believe that testing like this will lead to the slippery slope of racial comparisons and analysis. But the creator insists it's about crime fighting, and a way of narrowing down the suspects. As Tony Clayton, a black prosecutor in Baton Rogue says, if it were not for Mr.Frudakis they would still be looking for a white guy driving a white pickup.

Incredibly, however, the same man doesn't like the idea that DNA shows that humans are different on a genetic level, no matter how remotely tiny: "If I could push a button and make this technology disappear, I would."


Denying the connection of Jews to Israel

World Jewry, so I concluded, must be splitting before our own eyes into two camps, the history-minded and the history-mindless and, for some strange reason the former tends to concentrate in Israel, the latter in the US. Thank God, I consoled myself, that we still have Hanukkah to unite us -- how forward-thinking it was for those Rabbis who canonized a chunk of Jewish history as a religious holiday,and thus protected it from our collective amnesia.

But upon reading the Journal's Holiday issue (Nov 30)I realized that Hanukkah too was splitting before our eyes and, while Israelis were singing in one voice:"We fought the Greeks and the victory is ours," and their kindergartens were re-enacting the re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty, American Jews were agonizing over Christopher Hitchens' discovery that the Maccabees were a gang of Jewish Taliban.One essay even suggested that Hanukkah should be cleansed from its historical contaminants and focus on the spiritual, the miracle, the Temple, the candles, the latkes, the dreidel, anything but history, anything but freedom and sovereignty. Indeed, history is ugly and dreidels are beautiful.

Continuing this sterilization of the Jewish experience one can further argue that the notion of Jewish sovereignty, because it risks violence, civil wars and other public embarrassments, is foreign to the Jewish spirit, hence, the only true carriers of "Judaism spiritual values" are Neturai Karta and Noam Chomsky's followers, for they are the only Jews who openly object to the ugly notion of a Jewish State. All the rest of us, historical Jews, having been praying for 2000 years for regaining sovereignty in the birthplace of our history, are not really truthful to those immaculately conceived "Judaism spiritual values."

I, for one, do not buy this sterile notion of Jewishness and of Hanukkah. True, history itself can be ugly, but historical narratives and holidays are defined not by their embryonic origins, but by what they mean to and how they motivate people at this day and age. Regardless of whether Hanukkah started as a war of liberation against the Greek, a war of zeal against the assimilated, or a supernatural miracle in the Temple, the meaning of Hanukkah lies in the new consciousness created when H.N. Bialik wrote (after the Kishinev pogrom, 1903) "Are these the sons of the Maccabees?." It came in the energies inspired when the pre-1948 Zionist pioneers sang:

"A miracle did not happen to us
We have not found a vessel of oil
We carved the rock till we bled
And there was light!"

and it comes, of course, in the spirit of family warmth and people-hood that we Jews feel today when we light the candles and tell our children about that mischievous oil vessel.

Two weeks ago my wife Ruth and I were invited to the White House, where President Bush used our family menorah to usher in the holiday. I was relieved to discover that President Bush, had no problem whatsoever explaining to fellow Americans what the meaning of Hanukkah is all about.

"During Hanukkah," he said "we remember an ancient struggle for freedom." Plain and simple, free of Jewish hang-ups. He then narrated the story of the Maccabees: "A band of brothers came together to fight this oppression. And against incredible odds, they liberated the capital city of Jerusalem." Again, Bush talked as if fighting oppression and liberating one's capital is as natural as American apple pie and, more importantly, he took it as self-evident that people who call themselves "a people" would find pride and inspiration in celebrating pivotal events from their collective past; in other words, he took it as self-evident that Judaism and Jewish history and Jewish nationhood are inextricable.

This brings me back to the Annapolis Summit meeting. As President Bush was recounting the story of the Maccabees struggle for freedom and self-determination, his words rang as faithful reminders of one delicate issue that was conspicuously missing from the Annapolis' agenda but which nevertheless continues to hold the key to any progress toward a two-state solution: Arabs denial of the indigenous historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of the Maccabees.

This historical connection, bluntly denied by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, adamantly refuted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, uniformly ridiculed by Arab intellectuals, meticulously purged from textbooks in the entire Muslim world, deceptively minimized by anti-co-existence professors in the West, and skillfully avoided by post-Zionist Jewish writers in America, more than any other point of contention, has the power of unleashing the confidence-building energy that the "peace process" requires to gain traction.

That is why I see Hanukkah as the pink elephant of Annapolis. The obvious historical connection of Jews to the holy land, so clearly symbolized by Hanukkah and the president's Hanukkah speech, was hush-hushed in Annapolis - while everyone knew that only by agreeing on this connection can the post-Annapolis process move toward a compromised two-state solution.

Everyone knows that nothing can move forward unless Israelis are convinced that a final-status agreement will be considered permanent by the Arab side, and not be used as a stepping stone for another armed struggle. Likewise, everyone knows that Palestinians would not consider an agreement permanent that unjustly expropriates their land to a "colonial intruder" (i.e. Israel). Thus, the road to a permanency and commitment must go through a paradigm shift, whereby the intruder becomes a legitimate, equally indigenous, co-owner-partner, one who returned from 2000 years of forced exile holding a wrinkled trust deed: Hanukkah.

Such a profound paradigm shift in the Arabs' perception of the conflict would obviously be a slow and gradual process, but it is a process that must somehow be triggered, the first step of which is recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state" (more accurately, "a state of the Jewish people") as demanded by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert prior to the Annapolis meeting. Such a move would have sent an irreversible message of historical co-ownership to Arab school children and, thus, would have given Israelis the first ever proof of an Arab intention to make the "final-status agreement" truly final.

It is no wonder that, when PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat proclaimed "the PA would never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity," Olmert reacted angrily with: "we won't hold negotiations on our existence as a Jewish state... Whoever does not accept this cannot hold any negotiations with me." Translated: "Whoever refuses to tell his children that Jews are here by moral and historical imperative has no intention of honoring his agreements in the long run, so why negotiate?" Olmert's subsequent retraction of this condition may mean one of two things.Either he believes that the needed recognition can be obtained in the course of further negotiations, or that he already wrote off the negotiations as a meaningless exercise and is now just waiting for an exit strategy.

In either case, since the final joint communique at Annapolis omitted any reference to a Jewish state, it seems apparent that both sides find it expedient to turn a blind eye to the pink elephant on their table, at least for the time being. The message of Hanukkah and of President Bush's remarks merely reminds us that the elephant is still there and that it is getting harder and harder to pretend otherwise.


I'm on the side of the African father in this one:

I never once laid a hand on my own son during his childhood but I did not have a son like this guy does

A TERRITORY [Australia] father who allegedly held his 12-year-old son captive in dog chains and gave him a "flog" has been banned from seeing the boy.

The father made a nine-minute emotional speech to contest the no-contact order in the Darwin Magistrates Court on Friday, blaming his son's punishment on the "unprofessionalism" of NT police to control the boy. But Magistrate Greg Cavanagh said the African refugee was not to contact his son - who was now in the care of Family and Children Services - without supervision, as the boy had been allegedly found by police "tied by dog chains to his bed with other restraints to his ankles and hands". It was not revealed how long the boy had been tied up for.

The father, raising his voice to the magistrate, said he "did nothing wrong to my son" and was trying to discipline him for "running with gangs". "My son has been misbehaving in a way that you cannot support it," he said. "(He) tried to burn out the house that I'm renting (and) damaged the car of one of our relatives." He said his son was also planning to steal "people's bags" from a nearby supermarket. "What a shame," he told the court.

"We call police several times. They can't do anything. So I tried to discipline him in my own way. "Not to kill him, not to hurt him, not to do anything. I gave him a flog, that's what I do ... And I'm telling you that I use the (dog) chain to chain (him) so that he cannot run away."

The father said he was "a very responsible parent". "I'm not an alcoholic, I don't smoke, I don't take marijuana. I'm a Christian." He said he had been "the target of the Northern Territory police" and begged Mr Cavanagh to help him and his family flee Australia. I didn't come to Australia to get another war. I run from the war (in) my country," he said. "But I found another war in Australia from the NT police."


Want to be as bigoted and as violent as you like? Become a Muslim!

That seems to be the Leftist gospel anyhow -- as we see from the Australian Leftist love-affair with Australian terrorist David Hicks

According to Terry Hicks, his son David has no reason to apologise to anyone about anything. This explains why the anticipated apology was missing from David Hicks's statement, which was read to the media by the lawyer David McLeod after his client's release from Adelaide's Yatala prison last Saturday. The absence of an apology has been welcomed by members of David Hicks's fan club and the civil liberties lobby. Certainly no known supporter of Hicks has argued that he should be contrite for his past statements or deeds.

Yet there is no need to analyse the case against Hicks advanced by the United States and Australian governments and/or other agencies. The case against the self-confessed terrorist supporter is evident in the letters that he wrote to his family in Adelaide shortly before his capture by Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan, who handed him over to US forces.

Some of this correspondence was released by Hicks's family and was cited in the Hicks-friendly documentary The President Versus David Hicks, which was directed by Curtis Levy and Bentley Dean and shown on SBS TV in 2004. Other Hicks letters were presented to the Federal Magistrates Court in December, during the Australian Federal Police's successful application for a control order with respect to Hicks that went into operation after his release from prison.

We know from Hicks's own hand that he (i) joined the Taliban in Afghanistan, (ii) trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and personally met its leader, Osama bin Laden, on numerous occasions, (iii) attempted to kill (and maybe did kill) individuals on the Indian side of the Kashmir Line of Control, and (iv) advocated the overthrow of what he termed "Western-Jewish domination". We also know that Hicks expressed the view that "Western society is controlled by the Jews with music, TV, houses, cars [and] free sex". And we know that he praised Islamist beheadings for those who disagree with Muhammad, and proclaimed the benefits of "being martyred" and being "well trained for jihad".

The David Hicks fan club and its allies in the civil liberties lobby are engaged in an unpleasant double standard here. Just imagine what this lot would have said if the Reverend Fred Nile, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party in NSW, had claimed that "the Jews have complete financial and media control" in Australia. Or just imagine what would have been the response had Nile boasted that he had fought on the Indian side of the Line of Control and fired "rocket-propelled grenades 200 metres from a bunker" holding two soldiers of the Muslim faith.

Without question, in such a situation, a Christian like Nile would have been condemned as an anti-Semite and a Muslim killer. But a different standard applies when a Muslim convert like Hicks engages in anti-Semitism or admits to trying to kill Indian soldiers, of whatever faith.

Yet the response to Hicks from his supporters is a combination of gush and denial. Writing in the Adelaide Independent Weekly, Hendrik Gout described Hicks as an "idealistic and foolish would-be mercenary". Since when did support for the terrorist bin Laden and the murderous al-Qaeda group amount to idealism? Moreover, Hicks has never denied fighting with Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Nor has Hicks denied crossing back into Afghanistan from Pakistan after al-Qaeda's attacks on the US on September 11, 2001.

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph last weekend, the Democrat senator Natasha Stott Despoja criticised the Australian Federal Police for outlining "in excruciating detail everything they had on file about Hicks" to the Federal Magistrates Court. It seems she is in denial about his evident anti-Semitism and his past support for terrorism. Stott Despoja also criticised the fact that the Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, supported the AFP's application for a control order over Hicks - maintaining that the Rudd Labor Government "failed its first test on national security and has shown itself to be little more than a clone of its predecessor". In fact, the control order does little to inhibit Hicks's freedoms and makes sense in view of what he himself has said about his past association with terrorism.

Certainly, as the former foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has acknowledged, the US mishandled the Hicks case and was too slow in placing him before a military commission. I argued this, both publicly and privately, in the lead-up to Hicks's military commission last year. But the fact is that Hicks's legal team, in the US and Australia, erred in refusing to accept a plea bargain when it was available.

As Leigh Sales documented in her book Detainee 002: The Case Of David Hicks, "Hicks could have been back in Australia years ago, instead of sitting in Guantanamo Bay for several years" but for the stance taken by his friends. Sales was criticised in The Age by the academic lawyer Gerry Simpson for her "distracting insistence on balance and pragmatism". It was yet another example of a Hicks supporter wanting to avoid the facts.

In his statement Hicks maintained that his "readjustment will be a slow process and should involve a gentle transition away from the media spotlight". Right. Yet the David Hicks fan club is already talking up the prospect of his selling his story to the media. Many of its members are well-off professionals. If 500 of them contributed $1000 each to his rehabilitation, there would be a $500,000 fund for Hicks and no need for him to risk his health by moving back into the media spotlight. A good idea, to be sure. But don't bet on it. It's a lot easier to endorse moral stances than, as the saying goes, to tap the mat with hard cash.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Crime (Fighting) Doesn't Pay

A now-former employee of a Whole Foods supermarket in Ann Arbor, Michigan has discovered that crime fighting does not pay. Hence his employment status. Said former employee stopped a shoplifter in the store by tackling him - and was promptly fired by management.
John Schultz said he lost his job as a fishmonger at a Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor after he knocked a suspected shoplifter to the ground and detained him.

Schultz was fired on Monday. "Our policy is clear and listed in the employee booklet," said Kate Klotz, a Whole Foods spokeswoman. "The fact that the employee in question touched the suspect is grounds for termination."

Schultz said he was acting as a private citizen and not as a Whole Foods employee. "The fact that I worked at the store at (the time of the robbery) is coincidental," he told The Ann Arbor News.
Well, Whole Foods certainly has sent a strong message, hasn't it? Employees have been told to let thieves alone and the thieves have been told it is open season at the store. Absolutely brilliant. Let's see what Whole Foods' shrinkage figures jump to in the next few months.


America already has national ID

When Social Security was first proposed, there was a huge controversy over whether the number might become part of a national identification system. Even the most ardent advocates conceded that the Act would never have passed if it was to be part of such a system, yet here we are, three quarters of a century later, and that is exactly the case. How did it come to pass?

When I received my first SS card, it was written across it, that it was not to be used for identification purposes. My replacement card does not have that, which should tell you something. Today, the number is used for virtually everything. You are required to provide it for drivers' licenses, professional licenses, bank accounts and loans. Utilities even request it. Apartment complexes require it. Applications from those who refuse to divulge it, are rejected out of hand. Those are just the ones that immediately spring to mind. Any child claimed as an income tax deduction must have one.

My college, New York University used it, with another single number modifier, as ID. I'm sure others do. The military has long since replaced the old numbering system with it. From the first three numbers, you can tell where a person first registered with the system and, consequently, most likely, where he was born. With an SSN, a name and date of birth, and within 48 hours, an Internet snoop can probably tell you more about yourself even you remember. And he might not need the name and date of birth. Regularly, I receive e-mail ads for programs for Internet snooping. Any government bureaucrat can do the same and there is no doubt, it has already been done.

With nine digits, the current number in the SSN system, there are one billion combinations. That number is far more than has ever lived in the United States of America. There are about 6.25 billion people on this planet. Add another modifier digit to the nine and you have allowed for 10 billion people. Add a letter and you have allowed for 26 billion. Add 1 or 2 digits and a letter, you have allowed for between 260 billion and 2.6 trillion combinations, more people than have ever lived or will have lived for the next century.

There is no doubt that the Social Security Number is our national identification number and only a slight change in the system will make your health history a part of it. Medicare and Medicaid have it as part of their systems. So I don't see what the concern is other than as just another number.

The problem is that the number has become what it was never supposed to be. But when things don't work out as planned, and with government that is the way it always is, it ever retreats. It presses on. Government never considers that its fundamental assumptions might have been wrong. As soon as the number began to be floated as a national identifier, Social Security should have been repealed. This should have been built into the system. Of course, it wasn't. Just like when Barry Goldwater warned that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would result in quotas. Hubert Humphrey said that if it ever did, he would eat a copy of the bill. But that is exactly what happened and Humphrey never had that meal of paper and ink. Like Social Security, that Act should be repealed but never will be. Government doesn't work that way.


When racial profiling doesn't matter in media eyes

Media pop quiz: what does it take to get a liberal newspaper like the San Francisco Chronicle to ignore the racial implications of ethic profiling seriously violating the rights of minorities? The answer, of course, is that the victimizers must be members of another minority felt to enjoy superior status as society's victims. That is how laughably-written stories like this one get published.
Police in the East Bay are searching for at least two men who have terrorized dinner patrons and staff in a string of armed takeovers at Asian restaurants in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro. The robberies began in August and the most recent one was a few days ago, authorities said Friday. Eight restaurants in Oakland, one in Berkeley and one in San Leandro have been robbed, all at dinner time.
Nowhere in its story does the Chron bother mentioning the suspects are black, and that they are preying on Asian restaurateurs and predominantly-Asian customers. Discerning readers know, of course, that when no race is ascribed to a bad guy in the liberal media, the likelihood of African-American heritage is high. But in this case, the suspects continue their crime spree, and, as a patron of many of the restaurants robbed, and patron of any number of other Asian restaurants in the general area, it might be useful to have an accurate description of the known facts about their appearance. If I see them walking toward a certain restaurant, I might want to dine elsewhere while calling the police.

The local weekly Berkeley Voice newspaper (not available online) had no trouble noting that police describe the robbers as black, nor did the Berkeley Daily Planet, which wrote:
The suspects are described by police as two black men in their late teens, with dark blue or black jeans or pants and dark black or blue hoodies, wrapped around their face to conceal their identity.
This is very personal to me. The robbers fleece patrons as well as the restaurant till. I do not relish the prospect of such a confrontation, and I love Asian food. These guys are hitting my neighborhood. I am sickened that Asian restaurants are targeted. Most of these restaurateurs are very hard-working immigrant entrepreneurs. 80 hour work weeks are not uncommon among them. Patrons range from affluent folks to people who cannot afford to lose the contents of their pockets after a hard day at work and payment in cash.

I guess the San Francisco Chronicle subscribes to the notion that black people are so oppressed by whites (and Asians?) that they should not be subjected to any unfavorable publicity, at least until they start bumping off black reporters. A little honesty about race would be refreshing. Or maybe shocking, come to think of it.


Internet Censorship threat in Australia

That comes easily to a Leftist government, of course

AUSTRALIANS with internet connection could soon have their web content automatically censored. The restrictions are planned by the Federal Government to give greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites. Under the plan, all internet service providers will have to provide a "clean" feed to households and schools, free of pornography and other "inappropriate" material. Australians who want uncensored access to the web will have to contact their internet service provider and "opt out" of the service.

Online civil libertarians yesterday warned the freedom of the internet was at stake, while internet providers were concerned the new measures could slow the internet in Australia to a crawl. They said it was a measure usually associated with oppressive regimes and was no alternative to proper parental monitoring.

But Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said everything possible had to be done to shield children from violent and pornographic online material. "We have always argued more needs to be done to protect children," he said. Senator Conroy said the clean feed, also known as mandatory ISP filtering, would prevent users from accessing prohibited content. "We will work with the industry to get the best policy," he said. "(But) Labor is committed to introducing mandatory ISP filtering." Senator Conroy said the Australian Communications and Media Authority would prepare a "blacklist" of unsuitable sites. It is unclear exactly what will be deemed inappropriate material.

The adoption of mandatory ISP filtering comes on top of the former government's offer of free internet filtering software for home computers. Chairman of internet user group Electronic Frontiers Australia, Dale Clapperton, said mandatory filtering eroded freedom and would not improve online safety for children. "China, Burma and Saudi Arabia and those type of oppressive countries are the only ones that have seriously looked at doing something like this," he said. "In Australia, which is supposedly a liberal democracy, the Government is saying that the internet is so full of this material that it must protect us from it by trying to block it."

Mr Clapperton feared that parents would be lulled into a false sense of security. "Parents should not allow their children to use the internet unsupervised," he said. "Stuff that should be blocked will inevitably get through and stuff that should not be blocked will not."

Family First senator Steve Fielding, who has campaigned for ISP filtering, said he would be watching the Government "like a hawk" on the issue. "Australian families want more (internet protection) and deserve more than they are currently getting, and this is a real test for the Rudd Government," he said. A report by the Australia Institute in 2003 showed 84 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls using the internet had experienced unwanted exposure to sexual material.



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

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

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


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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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