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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Monday, March 31, 2008

How the Leftist Churches Set a Time Bomb for the Democrats

Until the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama's spiritual mentor in Black Liberation Theology, popped out of the woodwork, I didn't even know about BLT -- Black Liberation Theology. But the doctrines of Black Liberation have been preached since 1966 in black churches, with the enthusiastic support of white churches of the Left, notably the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Wright runs an official UCC church.

Though I am not a professional theologian, I daresay that Jesus would not, repeat not, approve of BLT. Because Black Liberation Theology seems to go straight against every single word in the Sermon on the Mount. Odd that the UCC has never noticed that over the last fifty years. In fact, the liberal churches have bestowed great influence and prestige on the inventor of Black Liberation Theology, a Dr. James Hal Cone. Writes Dr. Cone, among other things,

* "Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him."

* "All white men are responsible for white oppression."

* "While it is true that blacks do hate whites, black hatred is not racism."

* "Theologically, Malcolm X was not far wrong when he called the white man "the devil.""

* "The black theologian must reject any conception of God which stifles black self-determination by picturing God as a God of all peoples."

* "We have had too much of white love, the love that tells blacks to turn the other cheek and go the second mile. What we need is the divine love as expressed in black power, which is the power of blacks to destroy their oppressors, here and now, by any means at their disposal."

Apparently liberal religious authorities like those at the United Church of Christ love this preaching so much that they have made Dr. Cone a professor at the Union Theological Seminary, the "Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology." It is a stamp of official approval for a peddler of race hatred.

What would Jesus say? Well, we may never know that, but in a month we'll know what Pennsylvania Democrats will say. And if they turn thumbs down on that grandchild of Black Liberation Theology, Senator Barack Obama, the Democrats will have no one to blame but themselves. Including the Churches of the Left, which have reveled in rage-mongering radical chic since the Sixties.

If you've ever wondered why black people in America have had such a hard time rising in society, even after slavery ended in 1865, even after the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s, even after affirmative action tilted the playing field in their favor, the answer has to be found in the doctrines that have been preached to blacks by their most powerful leaders. If Black Liberation Theology is to be believed, blacks can never make it on their own. They have to rely on a separatist, rage-filled ideology, supported whole-heartedly by white Leftist churches.

The Left has a long, long habit of shafting the very people is purports to love. Instead, the Left only empowers Leftist elites. Look at the history of the Soviet Union, of Maoist China, of Fidel Castro. Who profited from those regimes except the elites, dining on caviar while ordinary people starved? Today Hugo Chavez is squandering Venezuela's oil wealth on his personal ego trips. It is the poor who suffer from Chavez' caudillismo.

What the Church of the Left have done to poor blacks is just like that. Instead of supporting messages of hope and strength, they celebrated the rage demagogues who keep people in thrall. "Black Liberation" is an enslavement of the mind. If you keep black people popping with anger at whites, half a century after the end of Jim Crow, you are not helping them. You are hurting them.

For the Democrats, who have knowingly supported this corruption of the poor for decades, the churches of Left have set a time bomb. Next month we'll see if it explodes. Maybe it's Divine justice.


Whites Can't Make Blacks Happy

One of the creepy things about our "need to have a conversation about race" is the assumption that whites can somehow make blacks feel better, or be happier, or be more self-accepting. Nobody has the power to do that, except what individuals do for themselves, one person at a time. Most people don't come close to lasting happiness in their own lives. So the popular Leftist charge of America's "institutional racism" comes down to saying that "The Great White Conspiracy is responsible for rescuing you from your bad feelings." That is just cockeyed.

Far too many black people don't feel good about themselves, and are constantly looking for answers from somebody else. That quest for the impossible has been turned into an accusation against the invisible but all-powerful white racist establishment. Michelle and Barack Obama were indoctrinated with those toxic beliefs at Princeton and Harvard, so that they are now making more than a million bucks a year, living in a mansion in Chicago while still feeling sorry for themselves. Give me a break. (Michelle Obama's salary increased by almost 200,000 dollars in one year at the University of Chicago. How many people get that kind of raise?)

No doubt the Obamas tell themselves that they are the lucky exceptions, and that they are just identifying with poor blacks, who surely are out there in the hundreds of thousands. But that's just the self-serving generosity of politicians handing out taxpayer money. The Obamas are rich, highly educated, extremely successful professional politicians. They are the darlings of white liberals. Are they anything more than that?

For politicians, voter dissatisfaction is the fuel of personal careers. You can't get anywhere by promising all the answers to people who don't need you. So the first order of business is to find dissatisfied voters, and if they're not there, stir up some dissatisfaction. That's why Obama needed the Rev -- to get him in good with a proletariat, any proletariat, in this case a black one. If Obama had stayed back in Hawaii or Indonesia, he would suddenly have discovered his inner Hawaiian or his authentic Balinese. Now he is "authentically Black," and the Rev guarantees his blackness. That's why Obama can't renounce the Rev. The Rev is his meal ticket.

Now a preacher in America is very much like a politician. He or she has to get the congregation stirred up, at least enough to pay for his upkeep. The Rev Wright is a fantastically successful politician. The Trinity UCC is a family business, and with DVD sales and televangelism it's making a mint. That's why the Rev has to be so provocative --- to keep his congregation clapping and cheering. Obama learned his rhetorical cadences from the Rev, and probably much else besides. It's been one pro teaching another.

The very notion of "whites" versus "blacks" being like so many M&M's in different candy boxes is a purely political creation. Humans are enormously variable. It makes about as much sense to divide people into sports fans versus music lovers, or fatties vs. skinnies. If politicians could get voting mileage from those divisions, the Left would be telling us all about the oppressive conspiracy against the fat, or the persecuted skinnies all over the world. "Divide and conquer" still works like a charm.

If you think that's exaggerated, just look at the famous classroom experiment in which blue-eyed kids are separated from brown-eyed kids, and one of the two groups is told it's better than the other. It really makes the "bad" group feel terrible about themselves. That's how easy it is to stir divisions among people. Give human beings a flag and a baseball cap with a flashy logo, tell them it's their team, and you can manipulate them for life.

Politicians are expert manipulators, and manipulation works best when people don't think they are being manipulated. That's Obama's biggest talent -- to make the suckered masses feel good while playing on them like an old banjo. So far there's no there there at all -- no substantive ideas that make Mr. Obama any more interesting than the standard-issue ultraliberal Democrat. Oh yes, there's the color of his skin. Big deal.

No, it all goes back to the usual race politics of the post-Civil Rights era, which always needs to pick at that old scab of racism, remind blacks of their old injustices, and convince them that white racism is still keeping them down. It's a disgusting political trick, and many blacks are catching on. If a genuinely self-determining black person ever runs for president without the usual race games, I'll vote for him or her in a minute.

Let a black man say it -- as so many already have, without media support and coverage. Larry Elder's "personal pledge" is one great example. This is the real key to black liberation, just as it has been the key to all the oppressed and persecuted people who rose from poverty and low self-esteem in America.

1. There is no excuse for lack of effort.

2. Although I may be unhappy with my circumstances, and although racism and sexism and other "isms" exist, I know that things are better now than ever, and the future is even brighter.

3. While I may be unhappy with my circumstances, I have the power to change and improve my life. I refuse to be a victim.

4. Others may have been blessed with more money, better connections, a better home environment, and even better looks, but I can succeed through hard work, perseverance, and education.

I'll vote for that.


Looking Past Race: Too many blacks are obsessed with racism

A BOOK REVIEW by John H. McWhorter of "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card-and Lose"

Larry Elder is the black conservative people love to hate in Los Angeles, where he hosts a top-rated radio show. He is actually more of a libertarian, but even so he voices the heresy that racism is no longer black people's main problem. Presenting these and other forbidden views in his 2000 book, Ten Things You Can't Say in America, he took his place on the list of traitorous black pundits.

But Ten Things You Can't Say was only partly about race issues. In his new book, Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card-and Lose, Elder zeroes in on what ails black America: an obsession with racism. Elder repudiates the "Sharptons, Jacksons, Clintons, liberals who prattle about the `unfinished' business of racism in America, and other public figures, including some sports figures and entertainers-all claiming to `keep it real' by stirring the pot and keeping blacks angry." Even President Bush, when he spoke before the NAACP for the first time in 2006, made headlines by acknowledging that racism still exists. Among race-conscious liberals, acknowledging racism seems as important as being repulsed by the Holocaust.

But is it? Elder quotes James Q. Wilson's 38 most important words for black Americans: "Finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after the age of twenty. Only 8 percent of families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor." Few could deny the wisdom of that counsel, but many fail to see that it logically requires letting go of the racism fetish. As Elder puts it: "Racists do not prevent kids from studying, racists do not demand that men father children outside of wedlock." And further: "Complete and total eradication of racism cannot instill the necessary moral values that create healthy, prosperous communities." Besides, Elder observes, "if racists hold blacks back, they're doing a bad job." In 2003, total earned income by blacks was $656 billion, a sum so large that this "black GDP-if blacks represented their own country-places them within the top sixteen countries in the world."

The book offers Elder's take on almost all of the race-related media dustups over the past several years, from reparations to Barack Obama, and we learn much. For example, shortly before the Duke lacrosse incident, four students from historically black Virginia Union University, two of them football players, were accused of raping a white University of Richmond undergraduate after a party. While the case against the lacrosse players was revealed as a tissue of lies, two of the Virginia Union men were actually convicted, while one pled guilty to lesser charges. Yet there were no aggrieved statements about the culture of football and its link to the abuse of women and other social ills. Because the Virginia Union story was about black-on-white crime, the media had as much interest in it as in a PTA meeting in Akron.

Another lesser-known story encapsulates what irks Elder. In 2005, black baseball great Frank Robinson said of black player Charles Murray, who left the game in the sixties because of racist abuse, "He wasn't strong. He went home. He didn't pursue what he wanted to do in life. He let a barrier prevent him from doing that." The story's reporter, on the other hand, was surprised by Robinson's attitude, seeing Murray's withdrawal as "a sign of quiet dignity."

The reporter would likely see the same dignity in Cornel West's flight from Harvard after the university's president, Lawrence Summers, suggested that he produce academic work rather than rap CDs. For West, the Frank Robinson approach would have been to inform Summers of the three academic books he claimed to be writing at the time, and stand firm. But West chose to decamp to Princeton instead, and it's an indictment of our times that his Murray-like flight seemed, to many, the proper response.

Yet Elder's analysis only takes us so far. He asks: "If so-called black leaders and other influence-makers can simply halt the widespread use of the n-word by rappers and others, why not use this power to deal with urban crime?" He thinks it's because they're lazy: "Crying racism takes less effort than exploring why black children underperform compared to their white and Asian counterparts." Elder fails to see that self-doubt cripples many blacks, leading them to mistake weakness (crying racism) for strength.

The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 suddenly left black people responsible for proving themselves before they had had a chance to overcome their internalized sense of inadequacy. After centuries of marginalization, this should not have been surprising. There were now two ways for a black person to make his way. He could embrace accountability and work to take advantage of the new opportunities. Or he could fashion a sense of legitimacy by playing the noble victim, exploiting white America's new susceptibility to such postures.

The damaged black soul settles for doubletalk and elided moral vision in seeking self-affirmation. The "victicrats" whom Elder describes are insecure people who would be best off in twelve-step programs. But Elder also implies that such people are more important to the current racial conversation than they actually are. Most are getting on in years, having reached adulthood just as the whites who once barred them from Holiday Inns became hip to "the Negro problem." For blacks of this vintage, the empowering novelty of thumbing their noses at whitey imprinted their worldview permanently. They will remain forever on the barricades, but they are no longer the future.

Black congressional representative Diane Watson, who tartly criticized Ward Connerly for having a white wife, is 74. Charles Rangel, who said after Hurricane Katrina, "George Bush is our Bull Connor," is 77. Al Sharpton is a younger fiftysomething, but old enough to have drunk the sixties Kool-Aid: he has recounted how Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. passed the torch to him during that era.

The important thing to note is that there are no new Al Sharptons or Cynthia McKinneys. Elder's depiction of victimology as common coin is therefore a bit pass,-a good decade behind the times. The race debate has shifted to the center, so that a book like Elder's is no longer even regarded as a dramatic statement.

In any case, to understand that the people Stupid Black Men describes are hurting inside is to understand as well that Elder's title is infelicitous and risks preaching mostly to the converted. That would be a shame, because plenty of black readers, especially of a younger generation, could benefit from the truths he tells.


Of Governors and Call Girls: Some thoughts upon Eliot Spitzer's downfall


No doubt it signifies a mixture of moral frivolity and profound lack of sexual imagination, but one of the first questions that occurred to me when I read of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's involvement with a high-class (or perhaps I should say expensive) prostitution ring was: What acts does a woman perform to be worth $3,000 per hour, compared with one who charges "only" $1,000?

Of course, I have long realized that there is a hierarchy among prostitutes, as there is in all professions. My first patient with tertiary syphilis, for example, was an old prostitute, impoverished, raddled, and toothless, who still plied her trade on waste ground for the price of a cigarette. Her pimp was also her husband, and her cries of despair when he abandoned her still ring in my mind's ear. I have never encountered desolation deeper than hers.

Another of my patients was a smartly dressed black woman whom I initially took to be a business executive. She was a dominatrix. She had her own website and flew around the world flogging the prominent of many nations. She was particularly proud of her connection, if that is the word I seek, with a senior judge in one of the southern states of the U.S. She had a large house and an expensive car and was proud of her success. It was skilled work, after all, and she provided value for money, or else her clients would not have retained her services. Many of them, indeed, were in love with her. She was so amusing that I could not condemn her, even in my heart.

This reminds me that prostitutes in literature have generally been treated kindly. No literary intellectual ever won his spurs by denouncing what everyone else had already denounced with pursed lips and a tut-tut. We do not think of Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet as wicked, but rather as good-time girls with hearts of gold. Maupassant's stories favor prostitutes over their respectable, bourgeois clients. In Russian literature, fallen women serve to illustrate the possibility and power of redemption (and the generosity of authors). The demand for paid sex has generally been more severely condemned in literature than the supply.

One might have supposed that in a relatively liberal sexual environment such as ours, the demand for prostitution would decline, but that does not seem to have happened. This suggests that raw, biological frustration of the sex drive is not at the root of the demand. Appetites not only grow with feeding, but diversify with it. The limits or boundaries of licit and illicit change, but the demand for the illicit remains constant.

Mr. Spitzer can hardly have been driven to act as he did by the kind of sexual frustration that is said to be common in Muslim countries, where all contact with females before and outside of marriage is forbidden. He is both rich and powerful, and in our society men of that sort do not usually have much difficulty finding someone with whom to have an affair, if they feel the need. Moreover, one might have expected a man like Mr. Spitzer - who built his career on the prosecution (or was it the persecution?) of very rich men who supposedly had broken the rules without any compelling need to do so - to behave with circumspection, if not extreme caution, with regard to breaking rules, moral or legal. He who rises by moral outrage, after all, tends to fall by moral outrage.

On the other hand, the very dangerousness of what Mr. Spitzer did may have been what made it so exciting to him. For those with such a turn of mind, there are few pleasures greater than that of breaking rules and getting away with it; it heightens the esteem in which they hold their own intellects.

But there are other advantages in resorting to a prostitute. Prostitutes exact no emotional commitment; unlike in a proper affair, the balance of power remains firmly and predictably in favor of the man who hands over the cash. Not only can he suit his tastes and indulge his fantasies, but the possibilities of blackmail, emotional and financial, are much less than with an affair of the heart. Spurned lovers are notorious for seeking vengeance, but prostitutes are professionals, to whom a reputation for discretion and the hope of future business are important. They do not recriminate when their clients no longer come to see them. So there is safety as well as excitement in the transaction.

What of the supply - that is to say, of the prostitutes? Why do they become prostitutes? If there were no necessitous women in the world, would prostitution survive?

It would. Although middle-class sentimentalists like to think that all prostitutes are driven to the profession as snowflakes before the storm, with absolutely no choice in the matter (because no one would do voluntarily what prostitutes do), a moment's reflection shows that this cannot be so. For even if some young women are brought into Europe from Africa and Latin America and forced into sexual slavery, the fact remains that most prostitutes were not forced by circumstances but chose voluntarily to ply this particular trade. No one's circumstances are so dire that they lead to prostitution as surely as life leads to death; if desperate circumstances inexorably made prostitutes, after all, we would have more prostitutes rather than fewer.

Besides, whatever the social origins of most prostitutes, by no means do all of them come from backgrounds of deprivation. Recently in England, in the small town of Ipswich, a man was convicted of murdering five prostitutes (serial killers quite often choose prostitutes, as if to avenge some terrible sexual humiliation). Two of his victims, at least, were of middle-class origin; one had spent her childhood playing the piano and riding ponies. Interestingly, prostitution disappeared from the town in the wake of the murderer's activities, suggesting that this way of earning a living was not an unavoidable reaction to circumstances.

Quite near where I once lived, by a reservoir around which I often took walks, the body of a 16-year-old girl was found. She had run away from her middle-class home to what she thought was the glamour of the streets and of prostitution; she was bored by respectability and the prospect of a normal career. Her pimps had plied her overenthusiastically with heroin; she had died, and they dumped her body in the hope that it would not be found.

The supply side of prostitution, therefore, is not to be laid wholly at the door of desperate material circumstances. How, then, is it to be ranked with mankind's other moral weaknesses? I have discussed this matter with quite a few prostitutes in my clinic, and even those who have not studied moral philosophy have been able to justify their ways to me, if not to God, with plausible and even sophisticated arguments. They would not have been prostitutes, they said, if there had been no demand for prostitutes; and many of their customers, perhaps even most, were drawn from the supposedly respectable portions of society. From what standpoint, then, did society look down on them?

For Mr. Spitzer, I suspect, they would have had nothing but contempt: a stern moralist who was no better than the pathetic traveling salesman who wants a bit of furtive fun, or sexual release, with a rather less expensive prostitute on his nights away from his wife.

"You men!" says Sadie Thompson at the end of Somerset Maugham's great story "Rain," about a Protestant missionary seduced by a prostitute in the South Sea. "You filthy, dirty pigs! You're all the same, all of you." The prostitutes would agree with her: For them, Mr. Spitzer would be the exact moral equivalent of the missionary Davidson, who is seduced by Sadie Thompson while he tries to convert her to virtue, and then kills himself by cutting his throat in the tide. He, like Mr. Spitzer, did not live up to his own standards because, in the jaundiced view of the profession, no man ever does.

Besides, asked the prostitutes, in what way is it worse to sell one's body than to sell one's soul? How many people have never done something they knew to be wrong, merely to continue in employment? How many women, not considered prostitutes, have let the material prospects of their suitors affect their decisions to marry them?

All this rationalization, however, founders on one simple question: Would you, I asked them, want your daughters to follow in your footsteps, even if they could earn a lot of money by doing so? Not a single one has ever replied yes to that question; all were vehemently against.

We can call prostitutes sex workers, and prostitution the sex industry, but the oldest profession is also the oldest subject of opprobrium. I shall never forget the immortally distasteful words of a 15-year-old patient of mine, who was very easy with her sexual favors, and who may very well one day have decided to do for money what for the moment she did for fun. "My mum," she said, "calls me a slut. But I'm good at what I do."



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, March 30, 2008

Islam and Free Speech

The Netherlands is bracing for a new round of violence at home and against its embassies in the Middle East. The storm would be caused by "Fitna," a short film that is scheduled to be released this week. The film, which reportedly includes images of a Quran being burned, was produced by Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament and leader of the Freedom Party. Mr. Wilders has called for banning the Quran -- which he has compared to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" -- from the Netherlands.

After concern about the film led Mr. Wilders's Internet service provider to take down his Web site, Mr. Wilders issued a statement this week that he will personally distribute DVDs "On the Dam" if he has to. That may not be necessary, as the Czech National Party has reportedly agreed to host the video on its Web site.

Reasonable men in free societies regard Geert Wilders's anti-Muslim rhetoric, and films like "Fitna," as disrespectful of the religious sensitivities of members of the Islamic faith. But free societies also hold freedom of speech to be a fundamental human right. We don't silence, jail or kill people with whom we disagree just because their ideas are offensive or disturbing. We believe that when such ideas are openly debated, they sink of their own weight and attract few followers.

Our country allows fringe groups like the American Nazi Party to demonstrate, as long as they are peaceful. Americans are permitted to burn the national flag. In 1989, when so-called artist Andres Serrano displayed his work "Piss Christ" -- a photo of a crucifix immersed in a bottle of urine -- Americans protested peacefully and moved to cut off the federal funding that supported Mr. Serrano. There were no bombings of museums. No one was killed over this work that was deeply offensive to Christians.

Criticism of Islam, however, has led to violence and murder world-wide. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie over his 1988 book, "The Satanic Verses." Although Mr. Rushdie has survived, two people associated with the book were stabbed, one fatally. The 2005 Danish editorial cartoons lampooning the prophet Muhammad led to numerous deaths. Dutch director Theodoor van Gogh was killed in 2004, several months after he made the film "Submission," which described violence against women in Islamic societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch member of parliament who wrote the script for "Submission," received death threats over the film and fled the country for the United States.

The violence Dutch officials are anticipating now is part of a broad and determined effort by the radical jihadist movement to reject the basic values of modern civilization and replace them with an extreme form of Shariah. Shariah, the legal code of Islam, governed the Muslim world in medieval times and is used to varying degrees in many nations today, especially in Saudi Arabia.

Radical jihadists are prepared to use violence against individuals to stop them from exercising their free speech rights. In some countries, converting a Muslim to another faith is a crime punishable by death. While Muslim clerics are free to preach and proselytize in the West, some Muslim nations severely restrict or forbid other faiths to do so. In addition, moderate Muslims around the world have been deemed apostates and enemies by radical jihadists.

Radical jihadists believe representative government is un-Islamic, and urge Muslims who live in democracies not to exercise their right to vote. The reason is not hard to understand: When given a choice, most Muslims reject the extreme approach to Islam. This was recently demonstrated in Iraq's Anbar Province, which went from an al-Qaeda stronghold to an area supporting the U.S.-led coalition. This happened because the populace came to intensely dislike the fanatical ways of the radicals, which included cutting off fingers of anyone caught smoking a cigarette, 4 p.m. curfews, beatings and beheadings. There also were forced marriages between foreign-born al Qaeda fighters and local Sunni women.

There may be a direct relationship between the radical jihadists' opposition to democracy and their systematic abuse of women. Women have virtually no rights in this radical world: They must conceal themselves, cannot hold jobs, and have been subjected to honor killings. Would most women in Muslim countries vote for a candidate for public office who supported such oppressive rules?

Not all of these radicals are using violence to supplant democratic society with an extreme form of Shariah. Some in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark are attempting to create parallel Islamic societies with separate courts for Muslims. According to recent press reports, British officials are investigating the cases of 30 British Muslim school-age girls who "disappeared" for probable forced marriages.

While efforts to create parallel Islamic societies have been mostly peaceful, they may actually be a jihadist "waiting game," based on the assumption that the Islamic populations of many European states will become the majority over the next 25-50 years due to higher Muslim birth rates and immigration.

What is particularly disturbing about these assaults against modern society is how the West has reacted with appeasement, willful ignorance, and a lack of journalistic criticism. Last year PBS tried to suppress "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center," a hard-hitting documentary that contained criticism of radical jihadists. Fortunately, Fox News agreed to air the film.

Even if the new Wilders film proves newsworthy, it is likely that few members of the Western media will air it, perhaps because they have been intimidated by radical jihadist threats. The only major U.S. newspaper to reprint any of the controversial 2005 Danish cartoons was Denver's Rocky Mountain News. You can be sure that if these cartoons had mocked Christianity or Judaism, major American newspapers would not have hesitated to print them.

European officials have been similarly cautious. A German court ruled last year that a German Muslim man had the right to beat his wife, as this was permitted under Shariah. Britain's Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, stated last month that the implementation of some measure of Shariah in Britain was "unavoidable" and British Muslims should have the choice to use Shariah in marital and financial matters.

I do not defend the right of Geert Wilders to air his film because I agree with it. I expect I will not. (I have not yet seen the film). I defend the right of Mr. Wilders and the media to air this film because free speech is a fundamental right that is the foundation of modern society. Western governments and media outlets cannot allow themselves to be bullied into giving up this precious right due to threats of violence. We must not fool ourselves into believing that we can appease the radical jihadist movement by allowing them to set up parallel societies and separate legal systems, or by granting them special protection from criticism.

A central premise of the American experiment are these words from the Declaration of Independence: "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." There are similar statements in the U.S. Constitution, British Common Law, the Napoleonic Code and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. As a result, hundreds of millions in the U.S. and around the world enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and many other rights.

These liberties have been won through centuries of debate, conflict and bloodshed. Radical jihadists want to sacrifice all we have learned by returning to a primitive and intolerant world. While modern society invites such radicals to peacefully exercise their faith, we cannot and will not sacrifice our fundamental freedoms.


Gotta Love These Dems

by Evan Sayet

So, let me see if I've got this right... Bill Clinton is "McCarthy," while Bill Richardson is "Judas," Geraldine Ferraro is a "racist" while Jeremiah Wright is the Dem's leading candidate's "spiritual adviser," mentor and close personal friend and guru of the last two decades.

Bill Clinton, when he's not Joe McCarthy, is a "racist," this, just a few years after the Democrats told us he was America's "first black president." Hillary makes up stories about her trip to Bosnia -- not dissimilar in the least to John Kerry's fake stories about Vietnam. 10 years or so ago there was a "vast right wing conspiracy" out to get those lovely, lovely Clinton folks, now it's the Clintons who are corrupt and evil and, well, everything the Democrats denied not all that long ago.

Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman, the great and moral "conscience of the Senate" and the Democrats' choice to be but a heartbeat away from the presidency? Turns out he's a "warmonger" and maybe even a "zionist" (read: Jew), making at least two out of the last five or so Democrat Veep candidates purely evil. We should have known that Lieberman was a Nazi because, that's what the Democrats told us BEFORE he was "the conscience of the Senate," when he asked record companies if they wouldn't voluntarily put warning labels on the musical version of what Jerry Wright preaches to Obama and his kids. Lieberman has had more ups and downs than Bill on a fat chick.

Oh, wait, don't forget John Edwards. He's a guy who ran not once but twice on the incredible dual platform that, in evil, horrible America it is impossible to go from poor to rich and concurrently selling himself as someone who understands the "other" America because he himself went from, uh, poor to rich. Now THAT'S good, no wonder they made him the Veep choice -- bringing us to three out of the last five.

Now, in a move he must have learned from watching John Edwards, Obama is running a campaign as a "post-racial" candidate and, to prove it, he makes a big speech on race, where he throws his white grandmother -- you know, that "typical white person" -- under the bus to defend the hate-mongering of his mentor, friend, spiritual guru and campaign adviser, Jeremieh "God DAMN America" Wright.

At the same time, the man who set out to "prove" that he was post-patriotic by consciously refusing to wear even the tiniest of American flag lapel pins (and whose wife publicly testifies that she has never been proud of America) stands up and makes his pro-Wright, anti-white-grandma speech in front of not one, not two, not three, not four but EIGHT giant American flags.

Welcome to the Democrat Party -- racists, warmongers, liars, cheats and hypocrites... and this is just what they call each other!


Does affirmative action hurt kids?

Yes, says author of new bilingual children's book

It's a publishing first. In his new kids' book, "Joey Gonzalez, Great American," author Tony Robles takes on one of today's most polarizing issues - affirmative action. Using words and pictures that kids can easily understand, "Joey Gonzalez" shows how government programs designed to "help" children are often the ones that do the most harm.

In fact, the idea for "Joey Gonzalez" came about because of the author's own educational experience - one based on merit, not race. "I attended Boys' High School in New York in the '60s," says Tony Robles. "Even though the students were primarily minority and low-income, we were held to strict academic standards. The principal and staff were committed to helping us succeed by showing us that we could compete with anyone." It was this strong foundation in part that led to Robles' successful career in law enforcement.

In today's schools, however, competition has become a dirty word, he says. Affirmative action is a policy, says Robles, that pits kids against each other in all the wrong ways. Instead of being challenged and prepared to compete in the real world, Robles contends that "minority kids learn early on that they will never get the credit they deserve for working hard and trying to succeed on their own." At the same time, other children resent the preferred treatment that their minority classmates receive, and end up resenting them.

In fact, the sorry state of American education is what led Tony Robles to write "Joey Gonzalez." Instead of perpetuating feelings of inferiority and anger, "Joey" challenges the affirmative action mindset using strong and positive imagery.

"By following Joey's adventures, kids get an alternative perspective to the dependency that affirmative action breeds, whether they're black, white or Hispanic," Robles asserts. "The book's goal is to encourage not just ethnic pride, but national and personal pride. Through showing the virtues of self-reliance, 'Joey' helps kids reject the idea that certain people need special preferences simply because they are black or Hispanic."


Mind parasites

A mind parasite is essentially an internalized lie that takes on a pseudo-life of its own. I believe the term is an accurate one, for it is meant to convey the idea that a vital lie that lodges itself in the psyche is not static, but takes on the characteristics of the host, so to speak. I remember once discussing this with my analyst. I don't remember the exact context of the problem I was whining about, but he said words to the effect of, "What do you expect? It's as smart as you are."

In other words, the mind parasite has available to it all of the elaborate machinery of the mind. Therefore, it can easily justify itself, elaborate itself, gang up on the truth, intimidate healthier parts of the psyche. It's like a dictator who uses legitimate means to come to power, but then corruptly uses all of the levers of power to stay there and eliminate opponents.

Those who are in thrall to the lie are by definition slaves. While they may enjoy a subjective sense of freedom, it is an illusion. In fact, they have forfeited their freedom and are attached to a monstrous demon that they have generated out of their own psychic substance, in the same way that a spider weaves a web out of its own body.

Think of a vivid example that is readily at hand -- the Islamists. Is it not obvious that they are absolutely enslaved by artificial beings of their own creation? And that they want everyone else to be enslaved by the same demon? Does this not demonstrate the insane power of demons?

There are personal mind parasites and collective mind parasites. Many cultures revolve entirely around monstrous entities that have been engendered by whole communities, such as the Aztec. Here again, it would be wrong to say that the Aztec had a "bloodthirsty god" -- rather, it clearly had them. Thousands upon thousands of human beings sacrificed to satisfy this god's appetite for human blood, elaborate mechanisms set up to supply fresh bodies, the heart of the sacrificial victim cut out by the officiating priest who would himself take a bite out of it while it was still beating. A whole society of Jeffrey Dahmers trying desperately to allay anxiety by vampirically ingesting the life force of others. The Islamists are just the latest idition of this unconscious anti-religion. But you undoubtedly know some people in your own life who do the same thing -- hungry ghosts who "feed" on the spirit or blog of others.

In all times and in all places, human beings have looked for ways to objectify and worship their self-created demons. This is preferable to having them run around loose in one's own psyche. Take again the example of the Islamist. How would one even begin to tell him: "you have a persecutory entity inside of you that your life revolves around. You have placed it outside of yourself so as to make your life bearable, for it conceals a truth that is too painful to endure."

To a large extent, this dynamic is at the heart of more mundane politics as well. For those who do not experience George Bush as a demon, it is almost impossible to understand those who do, any more than we can really understand the motivations of the Aztec. The collective mind parasite has a grammar and logic all its own, inaccessible to all but initiates into the Lie.

You don't actually want to get that close to an intoxicating Lie of that magnitude. It's not safe. Better to observe it from a respectful distance. Otherwise, you will find yourself pulled down into a false world of counter-lying rather than simple truth. You cannot create an artificial "good demon," which is what secular leftists are trying to do when they aren't creating bad ones. Those who criticize my "negativity" probably think I am engaging in the former -- heatedly countering the lie -- when I am calmly engaged in the latter -- simply affirming the truth that is and has always been. This is the inner meaning of "resist not evil." Resist it in the wrong way, and you come into its orbit.

For as old Anonymous points out, a demon operates through a combination of will and imagination. You may think of perverse will as the male principle and perverse imagination as the female principle. Together they beget the demon child that then controls the parents, taking over both will and imagination. C onsider how so much art and academic nonsense is nothing more than the elaboration of the perverse imagination -- ideological superstructures giving cover to lies of various magnitude. Think of how much "activism" is simply the angry agitation of the perverse will, just the punitive hedonism of a corrupt superego.

This is the inner meaning of "you shall not make for yourself a graven image," for Truth is a living thing, a Being, that cannot be reduced to the idolatrous systems of men, especially corrupted men who do not honor Truth to begin with. Most modern and postmodern ideologies and philosophies are opiates of elites too sophisticated for such powerful pneumaceuticals as Truth.

And this is the inner meaning of "honor your father and mother": not rebelling against received truth and tradition in an adolescent manner, especially before you are even mature enough to understand what it means. But the Obamaniacs will always be with us in one form or another.



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, March 29, 2008

It's not only Britain that has crooked crime statistics. NYC knows how to walk the crooked walk too

A source inside the Manhattan District Attorney's office admitted to me during a telephone conversation yesterday that "hate crimes," specifically those occurring against Jews, are frequently omitted from such classification. Meanwhile, acts that victimize Muslims, regardless of their motivation, are usually reported as "hate crimes." Consequently, crimes against Jews and other religions fail to garner the same media focus as crimes against Muslims and skew the figures used to track criminal motives. Although this is not a new phenomenon, it has recently been accentuated by the incident that took place on a New York subway last week.

At about 6:20 last Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 25 year-old Uria Ohana, a rabbinical assistant, was assaulted by three Muslim men inside the subway station at Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in Park Slope. As Ohana proceeded through the turnstile, 18 year-old Ali Hussein grabbed Uria Ohana's yarmulke from his head; Ohana gave chase, and was assaulted by Hussein's accomplices who were shouting "Alla hu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great." The chase ended when Hussein was struck by a vehicle as he ran onto Fourth Avenue. Hussein's friends abandoned him at the scene, fleeing in a late model GMC Suburban.

The incident received very little media attention, and the motive was not initially recorded as a bias or "hate crime." This happens frequently," admitted this source, adding that the pressure from Muslim special interest groups is much greater than from other similar organizations. "It seems that there is a far greater propensity for law enforcement to recognize and classify crimes against Muslims as motivated by religious bias, and there more pressure from watch dog groups to insure that crimes against Muslims are immediately classified as having their origins in religious bias. What it does is that it skews the actual numbers," added this source.

He also stated that since 9/11, law enforcement officials have acquiesced to the pressure and demands by Islamic special interest groups to treat most crimes against Muslims as "religiously motivated," even in the absence of any proof. Acts such as graffiti randomly sprayed on a mosque, for example, is classified as a "hate crime." It does not matter that the mosque might be one of several buildings in a specific area that has been tagged or sprayed by vandals. "We are compelled to classify such acts as having a religiously motivated bias, despite evidence that would indicate otherwise. Ordinarily, people would not think it is such a big deal. But when you have many such incidents, it obviously has a significant impact on criminal statistics. It definitely skews them."


Your government will take care of it: Not in bumbling Britain

At first glance, the Financial Services Authority's review of its own role in the Northern Rock saga reads like a brilliant self-parody. One wonders for a moment whether the author, in a mad moment of Swiftian mischief, has deliberately set out to portray her colleagues as a bunch of Pooterish pen-pushing, paperclip-counters.

There is the slavish and pedantic attention to the trivial detail. "We reviewed 129 files [lever arch or equivalent] ..." the report proudly assures us early on. There's the blizzard of confusing acronyms - MRGD, ARROW, RMPs, C&C, IRMs and HoDs. There's the reluctance to call a spade a spade. "The supervision of Northern Rock was at the extreme end of the spectrum of the supervisory practices we observed." There's the absurd faith in frequency of meetings as the FSA's measure of effective supervision. The more the better, obviously.

There's the obsession with inanimate systems and processes rather than people. Reading the executive summary (we don't get to see the full report for another month), one gets no impression at all that the FSA is staffed by 2,000 educated and thinking human beings - people, we might hope, attuned to the currents in financial markets, understanding of the temptations that might persuade bankers to make reckless decisions and capable of bringing common sense, brainpower and personal judgment to the regulatory process. And there's the bureaucrats' refusal to accept that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the organisation or its philosophy. Or at least nothing wrong that hiring a few more administrators can't solve.

The report is not a whitewash, however. Indeed, by its own lights, the FSA is brutally self-critical. It blasts itself for its lapses of officialdom - the failure to keep good records, the paucity of meetings, the glitches in line management procedures. As such, the FSA risks being accused of abject hypocrisy. These are just the failings it cannot tolerate in the firms in regulates. Poor record-keeping is high up in the FSA's hierarchy of deadly sins.

But the wider message from the report is that the FSA does not try to run a zero-failure City and that the Rock implosion and run would probably have occurred even if the FSA had been operating as it would have liked. Perhaps FSA officials could have impressed their concerns more forcibly on Rock directors, perhaps the bank would have been advised to diversify its funding a bit more, but nobody at Canary Wharf seems to be terribly convinced this would have made a difference.

FSA officials have admitted privately that they would have been unlikely to exert their powers to force Rock to change its ways in those benign, pre-2007 credit market conditions. In short, but for the shortcomings in depositor protection, Rock was, in the eyes of the FSA, just one of those unfortunate things - an inevitable rare failure, but a price worth paying for a system in which competition and innovation are allowed to flourish for the benefit of customers.

It will be a few decades before we know if this is a fair assessment. Any more bank collapses and the FSA's private view that this was a once-in-two-centuries probability event will sound very hollow. Anyway, it is much too early to argue that the price is worth paying when we don't yet know what that price (for taxpayers) will be.


Greatest Generation II

It's better that I'm not near a television this week. I didn't have to witness the talking news heads somberly remind us that the Killed-In-Action count in Iraq has rolled 4,000, and how the war there has been going on for five years. (They say "five" like they wish it had more syllables.) Listening on the radio, do I discern smears of disingenuousness in some of their voices, crocodile tears?

When I see them in the airports, today's service men and women, I don't see people who feel sorry for themselves. I see the proud grandchildren of the greatest generation - Greatest Generation II. And, damn, they are magnificent.

As often as I can, without being intrusive, I speak to them and say thank you. A Lieutenant Colonel and a half-dozen junior officers stand in a circle as he briefs them on their travel plans. I sit a few feet away awaiting a flight and listen in. They look like high school kids to me, maybe college for the LTC, but I recognize the language they speak. It doesn't change. When there's a lull in the conversation, I say, "Excuse me gentlemen, I'm an old vet from Vietnam, and you guys are my heroes. Just want to say thank you." "Roger that, sir," the LTC says.

Another airport, a Spec 4 who looks like he could be my grandson in 10 years happens by with a patch I recognize. "Hey, 82nd." He stops. I stand, shake his hand, and say, "Thank you. Stay safe." (It's the only time I've wished I`d jumped out of a perfectly good airplane so I could have said, "All the way.") He says, "Thank you, sir." I love saying a variation on what he's heard before, "Don't sir me. Just a sergeant once." He gets it and smiles.

An Army Captain sits with his wife and three small children; he's obviously going overseas. He steps away for a moment to go to the ticket counter. I speak to him briefly on his way back to his family. I "sir" him, because he sure deserves it.

To three privates just coming back with the dust still on their boots I say thanks, "Do you guys know you're Valley Forge material?" I think they understand what I mean, but if they don't they will someday. To one young troop with the CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge) looking every ounce the seasoned infantry grunt, I ask, "Has anyone thanked you yet today for your service?" "Yes, sir," he says. "Okay, then hold mine in reserve for when you need one." But I don't think he ever will.

These people project a will that says they know what they're about, and that's all the assurance they need. The "thanks" from civilians - that's just gravy. Today's U.S. Armed Services are almost unique -- all volunteers. How many other American war forces in history can we say that about? The Continental Army of the Revolutionary War. The hodge-podge army that stood with Andrew Jackson at New Orleans in 1814. Hardly a month passes when we don't see a story about how some soldier or Marine who'd been very seriously wounded and goes through months of rehab so he can rejoin his unit. (I don't remember a "her" story, but a female soldier recently was awarded the Silver Star.) At least one Marine returned to Iraq on a titanium leg.

Where in the world do these people come from? Who raised these kids? They're the grandchildren of the greatest generation. And among them, even more amazing, are legal immigrants who earn their citizenship by serving what is not yet their country. That eclipses the pyramids on my list of world wonders. So it's a good thing I can't watch the TV weenies this week mournfully remind us that 4,000 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq. They don't need to remind us of the cost, or try to provoke our sympathies. We've seen them in the airports. Perhaps, even spoken to one.


The lever and the foundations

The National Review Online describes Islam's public enemy Number 1: a Coptic priest called Zakaria Botros.
Along with fellow missionaries - mostly Muslim converts - he appears frequently on the Arabic channel al-Hayat ... Botros is an unusual figure onscreen: robed, with a huge cross around his neck, he sits with both the Koran and the Bible in easy reach. Egypt's Copts - members of one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East - have in many respects come to personify the demeaning Islamic institution of "dhimmitude" (which demands submissiveness from non-Muslims, in accordance with Koran 9:29). But the fiery Botros does not submit, and minces no words. ... The result? Mass conversions to Christianity - if clandestine ones.
Even if one were not a Christian, it's interesting to ask how one Coptic priest operating on a shoestring wage such successful information warfare? To save money Botros uses the "new media": satellite TV and the Internet. Secondly, he communicaes in Arabic. Thirdly, Botros tackles Islam on its own ground. He is intimately familiar with the Koran and phrases the issues in ways that are not only linguistically familiar to Middle Easterners but in accordance with their categories of thought. According to Raymond Ibrahim at NRO:
Botros's motive is not to incite the West against Islam, promote "Israeli interests," or "demonize" Muslims, but to draw Muslims away from the dead legalism of sharia to the spirituality of Christianity. Many Western critics fail to appreciate that, to disempower radical Islam, something theocentric and spiritually satisfying - not secularism, democracy, capitalism, materialism, feminism, etc. - must be offered in its place. The truths of one religion can only be challenged and supplanted by the truths of another. And so Father Zakaria Botros has been fighting fire with fire.
Raymond Ibrahim's summary omits one key factor in Botros' success. It is factor hardest for the West to reproduce. Western intellectuals can also use the "new media"; learn to speak in Arabic; even learn Koranic theology. They potentially have everything but the one thing that Botros spontaneously possesses in spades. Faith.

Botros believes he has found the true religion and is eager to tell Muslims about it. Thus he offers them not only a critique of the absurdities of Islam but an invitation to embrace an alternative. He tells them not only what to turn away from but what to turn to. It is this last obstacle which the modern intellectual stumbles over. The modern intellectual can say nothing about what a man should fight or die for. Two generations ago, even non-religious people in the West still had a country, culture or tribe they could feel loyal too. Albert Camus could declare quite seriously that "the French language is my homeland". Although he loved disembodied ideas they never lifted him above loyalty. Explaining why he opposed terrorism Camus said, "I must also denounce a terrorism which is exercised blindly, in the streets of Algiers for example, and which one day could strike my mother or my family. I believe in justice, but I shall defend my mother before justice."

Today it is quite conceivable for someone who declares his affection for the English language in America to be accused of "hate speech"; and for a man who compares his grandmother to a ranting demogogue to be likened to Abrham Lincoln. In malls all over the Western world the boomer generation gets teary-eyed over the appeal to believe in nothing.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

And while those sentiments are all very well they prevent Western intellectuals from taking the last step which Zakarai Botros is capable of. Challenging Islam's roots requires the challenger to have an irrational loyalty to roots of his own. Faith is a special kind of information that arises from providing answers to questions that are undecidable within our formal logical system; that lie beneath the foundations of our civilization rather than in a development of its precepts. It lies within our choice of axioms rather than the theorems that arise from them. And because axioms cannot be proved, "our way of life" will always rest on prejudice -- or if you will -- faith. Like Camus, we can never rise completely above all our attachments and still retain our capacity to act.



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, March 28, 2008

British Muslim leader accuses police of being 'over cautious' in stopping Asian gangs pimping white girls

A muslim leader has accused the police of failing to tackle Asian gangs suspected of prostituting young white girls. Officers are accused of being "over cautious" when investigating Muslim criminals because they fear being branded racist. Last night Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the police were differentiating between criminals on the basis of race. He claimed, driven by fear of race riots in places like Blackburn and Oldham, officers were "overtly sensitive" and not clamping down on the sordid practice.

His controversial comments in this week's Panorama reignite a massively controversial issue which exploded over a Channel 4 documentary in 2004. That programme which claimed Asian men in Bradford were grooming under age white girls for prostitution was pulled from C4's schedules. This was because police claimed at the time that it could provoke racial violence during the local election campaign.

Now the BBC is to risk the wrath of police officials and campaigners by airing a programme which will look at the same issue. Speaking as part of the Panorama investigation, which airs tomorrow (Thursday), Shafiq said: "I think the police are overcautious on dealing with this issue openly because they fear being branded racist and I think that is wrong." "These are criminals they should be treated as criminals. They are not Asian criminals, they are not Muslim criminals, they are not white criminals. They are criminals and they should be treated as criminals." He said that some of the criminals were Asian gangs looking to supplement their income, after the cost of drugs has fallen over the last few years.

Shafiq said "I am the only Muslim leader in the UK that speaks up against this sort of thing and I do it because these teenage girls are somebody's sisters and they are somebody's daughters. I have got two daughters and I wouldn't want that to happen to my daughters. "If there is a drug dealer grooming a white teenager into prostitution then I don't want the police service or local authority not to be open about it."

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, also raised concerns about the issue yesterday. He said: "Everybody is affected by political correctness. The reason why it is so important is because things like this. "Young girls are having their lives threatened and ruined because people pussyfoot around and they are too scared to do anything in case they make a mistake and are accused of racism. "That's why we have to tackle the culture of political correctness everybody is affected by and I think the police are probably more affected and hamstrung by it than most organisations."

His comments come as Professor David Barrett of University of Bedfordshire also raised deep concerns about the issue in the BBC1 programme. He claimed evidence suggested that those operating the practice were "absolutely" likely to get away with it. The programme will controversially reveal the ethnic pattern of the crime which is largely Asian in northern England, Afro-Caribbean in the West Midlands and elsewhere white, Turkish and Kurdish.

The Government, reacting to concerns, has revealed it will introduce new crime-fighting targets aimed at specifically combating the little-publicised problem. But there are concerns that the practice, mostly operated by drug dealing gangs, has been of little priority to the various authorities. Figures suggest there are in the region of 5,000 British children being used as prostitutes.

On the programme Vernon Coaker under secretary of state with responsibility for policing reveals the new measures will be come into force next month. The government also plans to introduce a new warning video for use in schools over the issue. But despite funding a Home Office study almost ten years ago which revealed how the problem can be tackled, the police has a low prosecution rate. Coaker told Panorama that using powers under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 there have been just 44 convictions for grooming and pimping young children. Police attempts are said to be frustrated by a code of silence.


A less corrupted generation

Once upon a time there was a no-name generation that went about its business and did not call attention to itself. While the Greatest moved offstage and the Boomers ran amuck, it raised and educated families, laying the groundwork for a prosperous future. Overlooked, ignored by those who followed it, and alone among its peers, this generation may soon see one of its members become president.

Of course, the road will not be smooth. The attack on John McCain's age has only just begun. A mere tittering at present, it will be shouted from rooftops come the fall. In our youth-obsessed society, newness trumps experience. Media central casting gives this older generation a thumbs down, favoring the novel and the different. But Sen. McCain, who will turn 72 in August, still goes about his business with the dogged determination that sustained him through long years in a North Vietnamese prison.

Those of us born in the late 1930s retain only a weak memory of the Great Depression. But we noted well the solemn eyes of our parents and felt, in the marrow of our bones, the values of steadfastness and endurance they embodied.

Mr. McCain's most intense early memories are likely of a time when most men under 40 wore the uniform; and there is a difference, I believe, between those who remember it and those who don't. His country was enmeshed in a battle for its survival. Mr. McCain is the grandson and son of admirals, and Pearl Harbor and the great carrier battles in the South Pacific made a deep and lasting impression upon his childhood.

We remember when the German army had a stranglehold on Europe, and the Japanese on Asia. Those who lived through that eventful period understood the greatness of our nation -- our indispensable nation -- and knew that without it the future of mankind would be dark indeed.

The nightmare of a world at war and the ghastly revelations in its wake are deeply imbedded in Mr. McCain's psyche. Our generation recoiled at the depths of human cruelty -- we saw emaciated Jews liberated by our troops from Hitler's Belsen, and starved death-march survivors of Bataan emerging from incarceration in Japanese hellholes.

Those born later have barely an inkling of the impression those events made, and the deep bond it created with our country. At a time of reckoning, America rose up "in righteous wrath" against history's most evil villains. To have no pride in that significant accomplishment surely seems to John McCain, as it does to me, no less than moral blindness.

In his formative years, Mr. McCain experienced the dawn of a frightening new age. Murderous dictators, with nuclear arms at their disposal, threatened to annihilate those who opposed them. This country, foremost among nations, paid the price to check them. He saw what ill-preparedness and hubris wrought in Korea: We could not withstand the initial incursion, and after finally overcoming it, provoked a Chinese invasion that led to our tragic winter retreat.

Troubled by American complacency in the mid-1950s, Mr. McCain chose to follow his father and grandfather to Annapolis. He earned his flying wings, became a squadron leader on the carriers Forrestal and Oriskany, and was shot down in combat over North Vietnam. His bones broken by a mob that beat him half to death, Mr. McCain was thrown into the Hanoi Hilton where Ho Chi Minh's sadistic henchmen tormented him unmercifully. In a display of character that boggles the imagination, he somehow managed to survive with his identity intact.

While others talk of courage, honor and dedication, John McCain exemplifies those virtues. At a time when America's integrity and purpose were being questioned, his fortitude helped reaffirm our core beliefs. A nation that could produce young men of his caliber could right itself and overcome whatever obstacles it faced. After more than five years of imprisonment, he finally came hobbling home, and with a broad smile and a firm salute, took our collective breath away.

A society that views the tempering of time as an infirmity is a society in trouble. The no-name generation is more vital in its late 60s and early 70s than previous ones in their 40s and 50s. It may struggle for a "misremembered" name on occasion, but it knows far better than its juniors who it is, where it comes from, and for what it stands.

No one better represents this than Mr. McCain. His authenticity, unlike that of his Democratic Party counterparts, is beyond question. What you see is what you get, and what you get is the real thing.


Museums becoming tools for Leftist propaganda

Comment from Australia

By all accounts Dawn Casey, the indigenous woman chosen to be the director of Sydney's largest and most popular museum, the Powerhouse, is a polished performer and formidable administrator. She managed to get Canberra's controversial $155 million National Museum of Australia (NMA) opened on time and on budget in 2001, a feat so fine the builders presented her with a framed piece of the Berlin Wall, on which was engraved, "For making the impossible possible".

But Casey, 57, is also a cultural warrior who believes museums should be political, should showcase "suppressed" voices and a multiplicity of "truths", and should be places of "dissent and debate", as she wrote two years later, in a paper for Australian Museums & Galleries Online. This is presumably what the NMA was all about, conceived by its architect, Howard Raggatt, as "one in the eye for John Howard", with its design modelled on Berlin's Holocaust museum and directly equating Australia's history with the Jewish Holocaust in Europe. Gigantic Braille messages pressed into its anodised aluminium cladding reading "Sorry" and "Forgive us our genocide" were early proof that this was a museum in the business of waging cultural war, despite the softly spoken manner of its well-liked director of four years, Casey.

Black-white relations were summed up by black figures hanging in effigy near a white trooper with a shotgun in his hand. The Anzac tradition was trivialised, with its sole presence a bleached-out statue of a digger. World War II was shoved into the corner of a display case holding Phar Lap's heart. Australia's non-Aboriginal history was treated as a silly joke, summed up in an upside down hills hoist and Victa mowers as the ultimate suburban irony. There was a monument to Gough Whitlam, alone among prime ministers, and suffusing every exhibit what the present director, Craddock Morton, calls a "black T-shirt" view of history; 1970s-style left-wing, and facile.

The arrival of the First Fleet was described in one exhibit as a "biological invasion", but in the Casey era the museum contained next to nothing about the ingenuity, scientific and technological innovations that marked the next two centuries. No Howard Florey. No CSIRO or Qantas. This is a museum as ideological battering ram, not a place for increasing knowledge.

Welcome to the postmodern future of the Powerhouse. After a worldwide hunt, the board has chosen as its director a person who is capable and admirable in many ways, but who, if she sticks to her track record at the NMA, could take the museum down a fraught path. A clue to the nature of the museum is its name, Powerhouse, as the museum was built on the site of an old electricity generation station in Ultimo. It is a science, technology, industry and design museum. Its greatest attractions are a celebration of man's ingenuity and it pays homage to cars and aircraft and space travel. Perhaps that is an anachronism but that's part of the definition of a museum; preserving the past for us to learn from, and wonder at, not twisting it to reflect fleeting modern sensibilities.

The Powerhouse is also popular, and has posted record admission revenues in recent years for shows such as Star Wars and The Lord Of The Rings, with about 200,000 visitors to each. It has become a staple Sydney school holiday outing, with plenty of gadgetry, experiments, virtual reality and genuine science to keep children amused while teaching them about, say, static electricity. In science and engineering, there are not "many truths" and the NMA under Casey was notable, according to the Carroll report of the collection, for its almost complete lack of science, technology and industrial content.

Nick Pappas, president of the Powerhouse's board of trustees, is unfazed by Casey's record at the NMA. He said yesterday Casey was chosen because of her ability and because she is "very good at bringing in audiences and dealing with government in a constructive way". The board, which includes feminist Anne Summers, financier Mark Bouris and educator Judith Wheeldon, didn't even consider the criticism of the NMA's ideological bias under Casey's watch. "We didn't see it as a positive or a negative," Pappas said, adding, ominously, that the Powerhouse is also a museum of "social history" and that Casey has "a very, very broad mandate". It was just such a broad mandate in social history that brought the NMA undone.

Pappas says he also sees the Powerhouse as "a people's museum". "I don't see radical ideology as part of that. It is a place of education and entertainment . but debate is not a bad thing. Museums should never be offensive but they should be challenging." The board's aim, he said, is to better "integrate the museum with the city and integrate it with the public", which they hope is their new director's forte. The previous director, World War I buff Kevin Fewster, who has since taken up a job in London heading the National Maritime Museum, was said to have had too low a profile, despite having brought in record crowds.

Casey, on the other hand, has a high media profile. She will be forever hailed by legions of Howard-haters as the heroine who gave Howard "one in the eye". But while there may no longer be a Howard to kick around, contrary to popular belief, last year's election did not end the culture wars. The left was not suddenly victorious, as signalled by a new prime minister who likes to call himself a conservative.

So while Casey has complained about her conservative critics, and told a Senate estimates committee that it was "extremely unhelpful that in the last few years we have been brought into the culture wars that exist out there", she is being disingenuous. It was Casey, her pet historians and the designers of the museum and its exhibits that deliberately provoked a culture war "in there" when no one was looking. It is difficult to see how Casey's philosophy can find expression at the Powerhouse without drastically changing the nature of the museum.


Australia: Christianity trumps socialism in caring for black kids

Community-run child dormitories should be established in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory to ensure children are fed, clothed and bathed, former Australian of the Year Galarrwuy Yunupingu says. Dormitory-style accommodation with cooking, showering and sleeping facilities should be built near schools, Mr Yunupingu told Fairfax. "The missionary days were good. The missionaries looked after the kids much better than the government does today," he said.

Adolescents as young as 12 in his Arnhem Land town of Nhulunbuy were still vulnerable to sexual abuse and manipulation by men selling alcohol, drugs and pornography, despite federal intervention in NT indigenous communities, Mr Yunupingu said. "I see intervention people running around trying to fix doorknobs and broken windows," he said. "What has that got to do with the kids? It's not filling up their stomachs. "There are thousands of kids waking up to no breakfast in these communities ... you can't turn a blind eye to it."

Mr Yunupingu is in Melbourne to address an economic and social outlook conference being held at Melbourne University, where he will say 60 elders of his own people in Nhulunbuy had decided to take a stand against those who had been reportedly abusing the town's indigenous youth.

The NT's Little Children are Sacred report, which prompted the federal intervention, alleged a rampant sex trade in an unnamed community where non-Aboriginal mining workers gave Aboriginal girls aged between 12 and 15 alcohol, cash and other goods in exchange for sex. The community was Nhulunbuy, Fairfax said.



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

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

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


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

No way to combat terrorism

The British government have some dangerous bedfellows in their attempt to prevent violent extremism

Should government be picking winners within Muslim communities in order to combat the threat of violent jihadism? And does it work - any more than the corporatist strategy of picking winners among big enterprises succeeded in the 1970s? This approach is a key strand of the Government's new national security strategy, launched last week. The flagship programme for delivering it is the Preventing Violent Extremism Pathfinder Fund (PVE), amounting to 45 million pounds over three years. It was created after the 7/7 bombings, reflecting Tony Blair's belief that the Muslim Council of Britain had not done enough to fight the extremists.

Blair and Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, contended that local authorities, police and communities were best positioned to identify those grassroots Muslim groups who could challenge advocates of violent Islamism.

But key local authorities are now in revolt. According to the Local Government Chronicle, many councils are refusing to adopt a target to "build resilience to violent extremism" for fear of damaging community relations. Their Muslim constituents are said not to like PVE because they think the programme stigmatises them. And non-Muslims are said to resent the fact that Muslim groups seem to be benefiting.

A more serious point is whether local government is able to choose appropriate Muslim partners. Yes, municipalities enjoy on-the-ground expertise. But what kind of grassroots expertise? Can they really discriminate between different varieties of Islamism? If even MI5 finds difficulty drawing the line, what hope for aldermanic worthies?

Earlier this year Paul Goodman, the Shadow Communities Minister, pressed Ms Kelly's successor, Hazel Blears, to confirm that money was not falling into the hands of extremists. Blears could not supply that reassurance, though she is the least blameworthy figure in all this. More than any other Cabinet minister, she "gets" radical Islamism. But it is infernally difficult, even for her, to monitor which groups are worthy recipients and which aren't. It was symptomatic that it took her department six months to answer Goodman's previous inquiries on where the funds were going. And even if they are not going to unworthy causes, are these schemes effective?

The list of grant recipients is strange. Even Conservative councils are not very rigorous in choosing partners. For example the Channel 4 Dispatches programme exposed hate preaching at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham. A preacher, Abu Usama, urged that homosexuals be thrown from mountains. Yet the Green Lane mosque is one of the partnership organisations approved by Birmingham City Council. Indeed, the Green Lane mosque is also a well-established interlocutor of the West Midlands Police. West Midlands Police still aver that men such as Abu Usama enjoy the "street cred" to stop radicalised young Muslim men from tipping over into violent jihadism.

Kensington & Chelsea Council has turned to the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre to deliver a "parental empowerment programme" that aims "to foster modern, inclusive and Islamically sound relationships between parents and children. Parenting techniques are imparted and discussed from an Islamic and wider social perspective by a trained Muslim NHS psychotherapist."

Why is it the duty of a council to "foster Islamically sound relationships between parents and children"? Who defines what is "Islamically sound"? How does picking a Muslim psychotherapist - apparently on sectarian grounds - help to prevent violent extremism?

Likewise, Westminster City Council relies on the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre (which is not even in the city) to organise a "young people's leadership and debate programme" on foreign policy. Why should Tory councils turn to them, of all people? The centre's name appeared in a statement on the website of Hizb-ut-Tahrir asserting that "the Muslim community in Britain has unequivocally denounced acts of terrorism. However, the right of people anywhere in the world to resist invasion and occupation is legitimate". The statement also denounced the proscription of Hizb-ut-Tahrir - a key objective of David Cameron.

Such partnerships are reflective of the greatest weakness in PVE - and of much the Government's "contest" strategy for combating terrorism. As its name suggests, it is largely about countering violent extremism. It isn't necessarily about countering non-violent extremism.

The interplay between violent and non-violent radicalisation lay at the heart of Mr Cameron's remarkable recent address to the Community Security Trust. Cameron believes that it is not enough simply to be against jihadism on these shores. He is deeply disturbed by the sectarianism of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and associates such as the Cordoba Foundation - which receive PVE funds.

It's as if the Government responded to a violent insurgency from the neo-Nazi terrorists of Combat 18 by turning to Nick Griffin of the BNP, on the ground that he enjoys nationalist "cred" with alienated skinheads. After all, Mr Griffin is non-violent and believes that whites should participate in the political process. Perhaps he might stop bombs from going off. But what price would he exact for it - and what kind of society would we then be living in?


Still plenty of sound values in Louisiana

Not much like California or Britain

Dot Brown's first-graders at East Beauregard Elementary stand a little taller and speak a little louder now as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. Brown said that's because her students are starting to understand what it means to serve in the military. The children have been corresponding via e-mails, and even "snail-mail," with Sgt. Joey Bartz, the father of one of Brown's students, Maili, since November. Bartz is attached to an Army medic unit serving in Iraq.

On a recent Thursday, the students wrote letters to "Mr. Joey," chatting about everything from classroom assignments to dinosaurs. They also made shamrocks to send him for St. Patrick's Day. "Green is Mr. Joey's favorite color," Brown reminded the students.

It takes about a week for the correspondence flow to go full circle. Brown said students are on constant vigil listening for the "ping" - the noise the class computer makes when an e-mail arrives. "Oh, they can't wait," she said.

Bartz personalizes messages for each of the children. He lists their names and has something personal to say to each of them. When the children send Bartz messages, they write about a sibling or what they had to eat that day. But sometimes the talk becomes more serious, Brown said. "Sometimes they'll tell him things like, 'My papa died' - he's kind of like their Dear Abby," she said. The children ask Bartz about what he eats, where he sleeps and about his job in the Army. In return, Bartz, who is studying to be a teacher, quizzes them about history and math. "He'll ask them things like who was the first president and what is 1,000 plus 1,000," Brown said.

The children also have running jokes with Bartz - ones that only they understand. In their e-mails and letters, students refer to Baghdad as "Baghdaddy," and sometimes call Bartz "Mr. Fancy Pants." "And he plays right along with it," Brown said. "He said that his friends get a kick out of some of the things they say. They have kids, too, and understand."

Brown said it's just chitchat to most, but it means so much more to the class. She said when students learned Bartz would be moving camps and would not be able to write for a while, they were "heartbroken." And when Bartz's correspondence was threatened by a problem with his computer's power cord, the children brainstormed ways to repair it.

Students have also sent Bartz care packages, some filled with candy and colored artwork. Once, when they sent Bartz a pillowcase they made for him, he sent a message back that he had "never slept better."

Brown said she believes the correspondence has also helped Maili deal with her father's absence. "It's funny - sometimes she slips and calls him 'Mr. Joey,'" Brown said. Brown said she thinks it has also helped her class bond. "It has brought them closer," she said.

The students are working to craft a book about a hero in which Bartz is featured as the main character. However, most have never actually met him, and he is not scheduled to return home until November, when the children will have moved on to the second grade and new teachers. Until then, the class will continue doing their duty by offering an unending stream of love, admiration, friendship and support for "Mr. Joey." "I hope he will be able to come to the school when he gets home and meet the students," Brown said. "They would love it."


Nihilism, drugs and Canadian culture

One senses that the Canadians who matter, that is the ruling and sycophantic classes, see our country as some sort of Utopian gateway where no past shall enter. "The future is now!" they proclaim, with the appropriate amount of uncertainty given that one man's Utopia is another man's Dystopia. This is all well and good because Utopia by definition is exclusive rather than inclusive. After all, we wouldn't want "those people" to be part of Canada now would we? They belong to the past - we must keep them there. We must ignore them and rewrite our history to exclude them. We must create a new paradigm where uncommon sentiment replaces common sense and facts are never inconvenient; where indeed the word "fact" has been redefined to mean "feelings" and "intuition" and the ultimate accolade of peer review is, "we feel the same way you do".

The most obvious problem with putting beans in your ears and singing nursery rhymes is that it is indicative of a failure of maturity. Wanting world peace may be a decent sentiment but there is nothing noble about sacrificing your life and the lives of your family and neighbors on the altar of political correctness rooted in a lack of moral courage and a refusal to take effective action. Singing "Koombya" with Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda didn't prevent the genocide and the only school shootings ever prevented by teachers or guidance counselors were when people willing to accept adult responsibility were armed with handguns rather than 911 on speed dial.

You don't have to be Christian or Jewish to know that evil exists, but it helps. When you are faced with evil and it is about to destroy you or someone under your protection there can be no shades of gray. For a relativist pan Gia atheist spiritualist absolute evil does not exist, unless in the guise of holocaust deniers or Danish cartoon publishers or pro-family anti-abortionists or pro gun self defense absolute rightists. When you think about it, is it any wonder people who encourage killing the innocent pre- or near born and won't call it murder; that won't condone the execution of mass or serial murderers let alone those guilty of treason; cannot protect themselves or their children in the real world?

People who are out of touch with reality are not necessarily insane. What is insane is putting these people in charge of dealing with reality. We have to stop pretending public safety can be handled by confidence artists and Canada Council grants. That's how we got "self esteem is more important than accomplishment" and "gun free zones". People who deal in words, acrylics and urine soaked crucifixes are not the best people to ask about self defense. Mention guns and their eyes light up with all the works of art they can create with confiscated heirlooms.

The cops are not much better, at least in Canada. They want the money and the empire that come with "growing market share". The thin blue line of old helped citizens preserve their basic human rights to life, liberty and property. The new reality is a protection racket. The fat blue line dreams of a police state that is already beyond the wildest fantasies of Hitler and Stalin. Why in the name of common sense would we want to create more laws and hire more police? We tried that before and it didn't work then either.

Rita Mae Brown said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results". Let's stop the insanity. Let's forget Utopia for a minute. Let's take the joint out of our mouth, the needle out of our arm and turn off the television set. Let's stop chattering like monkeys. Let's get calm and centered and clear. Let's look evil in the face and not avert our eyes.

The first place we need to recognize evil is in ourselves. For most people the greatest evil they will find in their own soul is cowardice. Not only can they not act heroically but they actively deny others the ability to act heroically. This position denies both the existence of evil and just as importantly the existence of heroism. This is the practical application of nihilism and this is the great malaise of Canada. If morality does not exist or is relative then I cannot be held responsible for being a coward. But to make sure I am not revealed as a coward by the actions of others, I must prevent others from behaving heroically even if by so doing I seal my own doom. See? I told you this was easier for Christians and Jews. If you lack a moral foundation your brain must be ready to explode with antipathy and lack of understanding.

If you are a "person of morality" you know that actual evil exists and further that it must be confronted. The Talmud advises you to smite evil. Jesus advises that a sword is a good thing to have. Even Gandhi and the Dalai Lama have advocated shooting back as a good and reasonable and just response to enemy incoming. Those who were paying attention, especially Jews, learned the lesson of the Warsaw Ghetto - the Holocaust in microcosm. Those who did not are doomed to be forever asking the next Gamil Gharbi if they might be excused from class as a conscientious objector.

What is the most important weapon you can have if you are under attack in oh, a school shooting for example? Did you say a gun? Wrong. That is the second most important weapon you will need. A cell phone with 911 on speed dial? Probably won't save any lives, but if it makes you feel like a hero to call for a cleanup on aisle 9.. If you said the most important weapon against evil is a sense of morality then you get to draw your gun and cap the devil. If you are morally challenged what the hell are you doing with our children? You should be painting murals in a government office or something like that. You certainly shouldn't be passing on your ineffective life skills to our kids. Just because you have the luxury of calling a janitor when a kid pukes in class doesn't mean you get to pass the buck when that same kid's life is in danger.

Do you know what really pisses off the morally ambivalent? The possibility that their students might be equipped to deal with the situation. American College kids are often old enough to serve in the armed forces or as cops. They may be in the ROTC or the National Guard. They may be Olympic shooters or competent club level competitors. They may even have concealed carry permits that kick in when they cross the border. In Canada, most teachers would say, "I don't care about your skills, your training, I don't like guns and I lack your skills and training and if I am going to die then so are you!" How do I know this? I'll show you.

In Israel in the 1970's Palestinian terrorists thought they had found a good gig. "Where will you always find the most vulnerable in society?' they asked themselves. "In schools!" they answered in unison. Rebecca and Wendy and the mayor of Toronto hadn't invented gun free zones yet, so the Palestinians couldn't use the politically correct term, but they recognized reality when they saw it. They shot up a few remote schools killing students, teachers and the odd grief counselor. Israeli parents thought this was a bad thing and wonder of wonders, the school boards thought so too. They didn't waste their time and energy holding candle light vigils for the media, hoping the terrorists would recognize the plaintive tones of "Koombya" as a reaching out in understanding. They recognized evil, they decided to stand up to it, they got guns and they showed up.

Terrorists aren't as stupid as you would think people who become human bombs might be. Every time they tried whacking a school that was armed the terrorists were the ones who got whacked. The terrorists thought this was terribly unfair, but they stopped attacking schools. They tried attacking supermarkets, cafes, busses and soon every time a terrorist whipped out his gun or the trigger on the dynamite stuck up his ass some civilian whipped out a pistol and shot him. Just to make sure, the next passing soldier or cop would pump a few shots into the downed terrorists head. Cleanup on aisle 9. In Israel life goes on and do you know what? There is less crime and less whining about crime in Israel than there is in Toronto or Montreal.

In Montreal when Gamil Gharbi asked the males to leave the room they went without protest. No United Airlines Flight 93 - "Let's Roll!" here. I guess if Flight 93 had been Air Canada it would have hit the White House. But I digress, other than to emphasize that there were no heroes in the room. After the executions started and Montreal's finest had been alerted there were still no heroes outside the building. I'll bet that if one of those women who knew she was going to die had one of the guns sitting unused in a cowardly cop's holster outside it would have made all the difference. And you know what? Those males who left would really feel like shit, knowing that a woman saved a lot of asses that day. Instead of Heroic Empowerment rising on its haunches to tell the tale of hope, we gave birth to the Great Canadian Victim Industry, where all whine the catechism, "woe was us, and we could do nothing, for we were cowards." I think I'll flagellate until my hand grows hairy and I need glasses; but I won't learn from my mistakes because I am still a coward.

One big difference, of course, is that in Israel the terrorists have no redeeming attributes and if they die that is a good thing. Gamil Gharbi was as lacking in redeeming qualities as any Canadian terrorist could ever be. He was a male with a gun. He couldn't get a date if his acne depended on it. Canadianize him by using his French name, Marc Lepine so we don't offend the Arabs; make Canadians think it was the lovable boy next door who went off the deep end; we really need to blame this on the gun because if we don't we will all be exposed as moral cowards.

On the streets of Canada terrorists are not the problem, it is the gang bangers. In Toronto they keep the populace supplied with dope. Your average urbanite knows that even if she doesn't do drugs some of her good friends or those she works with do drugs and "marijuana isn't really a drug so I don't even know where you're coming from".

You are so full of it dear. Students smoke dope. Teachers smoke dope. Parents smoke dope. Bureaucrats smoke dope. Cops smoke dope. Dope is illegal and Al Capone is dead. These days it's not Italians whacking each other on the streets of Chicago, its Jamaicans whacking each other on the streets of Toronto. Or Vietnamese whacking each other on the streets of Edmonton. Or East Indians (sorry, "South Asians") whacking each other in Vancouver or Chinese Triads in Richmond or Canadian Indian (that would be "Native" or "First Nation") gangs on the prairies. Canada is a nation of stoners. It is also a nation of gangs. Every ethnic group has its gangs - the joy and fruit of multiculturalism. How can we lock up or shoot back when it threatens our supply of High? When we would be locking up or shooting our neighbors? I've got a bad case of the warm fuzzies. I need a vegan granola bar and a Perrier.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Morality. If you have it you know what you have to do. If you don't have it then whatever happens is just a cost of doing business in your nihilistic world. But don't worry - there are government programs for you. And grief counselors. You can have my share - I don't need them. And when you're ready to play in the real world get your ass over to the nearest Fish & Game club. There are millions of us in Canada who have both a sense of morality and guns. We can help.


Australia's self-inflicted African problem

POLICE are advising the Immigration Department for the first time about how and where to settle troubled African refugees. Senior Victorian police have urged the department to settle Sudanese families in country towns such as Mildura and Sale, away from suburban Melbourne where young African men are being caught up in street crime. The Australian understands that police first appealed to immigration officials last year following a spike in criminal activity among young Sudanese men, while Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon was attempting to play down the problem. Sudanese gang violence escalated last September, with the fatal bashing of 19-year-old Liep Gony near Noble Park railway station, in Melbourne's east.

Police advised against settling Sudanese in "dysfunctional areas" such as housing commission flats in Melbourne's north and east, and a growing number of the 15,000-member state community are now living in Mildura, Sale and Wonthaggi. African Think Tank chairman Berhan Ahmed yesterday praised the rural settlement, saying it would help the Sudanese integrate, find work and avoid drugs, alcohol and street crime. "The influence of drugs and alcohol will not be there [You're kidding!], and it will be much easier for kids and refugee families to adjust in rural areas," he said.

Dr Ahmed - a Melbourne University senior research fellow studying refugees living in rural Victoria and their city counterparts - said young Africans living in the country were more likely to perform better at school and get work. While it was difficult to resettle refugees who were already living in Melbourne, he said the Brumby Government could offer them better housing and jobs to encourage them to move. "You entice them by giving them opportunities," he said.

Victoria Police's multicultural liaison officer, Joseph Herrech said helping Sudanese refugees to settle in Melbourne was a challenge for immigration officials and police. He said grouping the Sudanese together at times led to crime-related problems, and separating them often exacerbated their emotional hardship. "We've recommended to Immigration that they be spread out slightly more," he said.

Other police recommendations to the immigration department include developing better pre-departure programs for humanitarian refugees to educate them more about Australian culture, the judicial process and the law-enforcement agencies. Police sources have told The Australian that gangs involving Sudanese men, including African Power and the Bloods and Crips - inspired by the Los Angeles-based crime groups - have grown in numbers and become more of a concern in the suburbs of Collingwood and Carlton.

Former immigration minister Kevin Andrews decided to cut back the African refugee intake last year amid fears they were not "settling and adjusting" into Australian life.



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, March 26, 2008

Islam intrinsically violent

ITALIAN editor and critic of Islamic extremism Magdi Allam, who converted to Catholicism from Islam and was baptised by Pope Benedict XVI, today branded his former faith as intrinsically violent. "I had to do this (abandon Islam)", Allam wrote in a long letter to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. "Beyond ... the phenomenon of extremists and Islamist terrorism at the global level, the root of evil is inherent to a physiologically violent and historically conflictual Islam," wrote the Egyptian-born journalist, who says he has received death threats and is under police protection.

One of seven adults baptised during an Easter vigil yesterday evening, Allam, 55, is an editorial writer and deputy editor at Corriere. Regarding a combative tone that has made him famous in Italy, Allam wrote: "Over the years my spirit has been freed from the obscurantism of an ideology that legitimises lies and deception, violent death that leads to homicide and suicide, blind submission to tyranny." He described Catholicism as "an authentic religion of Truth, Life and Freedom".

By baptising Allam in the public ceremony, the Pope "sent an explicit and revolutionary message to a church that until now has been too cautious in the conversion of Muslims ... because of the fear of being unable to protect the converted who are condemned to death for apostasy," Allam said. "Thousands of people in Italy have converted to Islam and practise their faith serenely," he wrote. "But there are also thousands of Muslims who have converted to Christianity who are forced to hide their new faith out of fear of being killed by Islamist terrorists."

Allam adopted the Christian name of Cristiano (Christian), not a common name in Italy. Allam, who has been outspoken about the conflict in the Middle East, in 2006 organised a demonstration in Rome in support of Christians in the Muslim world.


Unseen Wilder's Film Causes Global Hysteria

It's almost as bad as if someone on Wall Street yelled "HIV/AIDS is transmissible by paper money, AAAaaaa!" and everyone began running around in wretched agony.

Geert Wilder's 10-minute film "Fitna" has created a nearly identical hysteria, but globally. A film nobody has seen, which nobody can comment about, except that Wilders says it will quote from the Koran, and show the real-world consequences when people believe in those quotes and act upon them. Like, Koran quotes of Muhammed demanding the deaths of infidels, followed by real-world scenes of infidels being killed by angry Muslims. Or Muhammed approving of little girls being married to old bearded men, followed by real images of frightened little girls being married to old bearded men. Or Big Mo declaring "smite them at their necks" followed by you-know-what.

Apparently this kind of "reality TV" is really "too much" for the mainstream media, which prides itself on showing just about every kind of twisted lie and perversion-as-heath, to validate their allegiance to the First Amendment. But some Truth About Islam? Come on. "That's old fashioned"! "Instead, let's take these American and Israeli dolls and stick those long pins into them."

Consequently no EU TV or cable station will show it. You Tube has banned it. Governments are prepared to step in and stop it, maybe to arrest Wilders for daring to say he will show such a film, even though he hasn't. It is already a "thought crime" of the highest magnitude.

You can distribute and post "kill the Jews" rants from Hamas and Hezbollah, show beheading videos and Osama Bin Ladin's Favorite Fatwas, circulate them on DVD and YouTube and show them in mosques, swap them on Blueberry's and cell phones in the schools, and that's A-OK. But a ten minute film which matches Koran quotes with Muslim behavior... why, you must be mad! That's outrageous and unacceptable! A matter for the United Nations! Quick, throw the provocateur into prison!

Wilder's continues to get death-threats from all the Islamo-bomb-heads, jail-threats from his political foes, and the moderate Muslims are totally smugly silent. So, Wilders created a website with plans to make his film available as a free download, here: http://www.fitnathemovie.com/

I've checked that website several times over the last week, and it merely showed a colorful image of the Koran, with beautiful calligraphy Arabic script ("there is no god but Allah," etc.) with the sentence "Fitna, the Movie, coming soon". So periodically, people with interests in Wilder's film have checked that one-page website, in anticipation...

But if you missed it.... Too Late! Take a look at that website today, as it has been blocked by Network Solutions, the webhost.
This site has been suspended while Network Solutions is investigating whether the site's content is in violation of the Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy. Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation. For more information about Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy visit the following URL: http://www.networksolutions.com/legal/aup.jsp
Apparently, all the Islamofascists and their leftist friends have been barraging Network Solutions to halt this truth-telling film. Network Solutions will therefore go the way of Google in Communist China, except in this case, it will be censoring truth-fact content aimed at Western audiences, even as jihad-terror websites, porno-websites, and piracy-copyright websites continue to be available without so much as a problem. So much for the First Amendment, up for sale to the highest Islamic bidders, and negotiable to complaints by all the left-wing advocates of PC.

Michelle Malkin has an item on it, which might provide updates. Will any American company host "Fitna?"

And in case you are wondering where all of this is leading... "Scholars" demand laws criminalizing "insults" to Islam

If this situation bothers you, you can register your complaint with Network Solutions directly, against internet censorship, and urge the ending of the forbiddance of the Wilder's film, here: difm@networksolutions.com


Bush admin appoints Muslim apologist to represent it

I wrote in NR last year about the Administration's peculiar decision to appoint the first ever US envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a sort of European Union or British Commonwealth for Muslim countries. Fifty-seven nations (or over a quarter of all sovereign states) are members, and it comprises the largest voting bloc on the new UN Human Rights Council, which is why that body is entirely useless except as the umpteenth rod with which to flay the Zionist Entity. It seemed a safe bet that whoever got the nod from the State Department for the OIC gig would use it not to disabuse them of their illusions but to peddle a lot of equivalist mush. So meet Sada Cumber:
The technology tycoon who swapped Karachi for Texas 31 years ago, also told AFP in an interview that many major religions face the same kind of "bigotry" as Muslims who have launched a campaign against 'Islamophobia'. The widely debated "clash of civilizations" is really a "clash of ignorance", said Cumber, who this month became the first US special envoy to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and launched his campaign at the 57-nation group's summit in Dakar on Thursday and Friday...

The United States is widely criticised in Muslim states for the Iraq war, the Guantanamo "War on Terror" prison camp and its policy in the Middle East... Polls in the United States indicate however that many Americans are equally suspicious of Muslims, particularly after the September 11, 2001 attacks...

Leaders complained widely during the summit about 'Islamophobia' in the West - Muslims portrayed as terrorists, Danish cartoons which lampooned the Prophet Mohammed and an anti-Islam film to be released by a far-right Dutch MP. Cumber said everyone at the summit understood that only a "minute minority" was involved. "Very few people do this anti-religion, and they don't leave Jews alone, they don't leave Christians alone and they don't leave Muslims alone." He added: "They are bigots and bigotry will always be there. So how much time, effort, assets, whatever, do you want to invest in that?"
Quite a lot. The OIC is at the forefront of efforts to, in effect, criminalize any criticism of Islam worldwide, and they're getting quite a lot of support from their patsies in the west.


Asians vs. blacks

Back in the late 1980s I was on a plane flying out of New Orleans and sitting next to me was a rather interesting and, according to Barack Obama, unusual black man. Friendly, gregarious, and wise beyond his years, we immediately hit it off. I had been working on Vietnamese commercial fishing boats for a few years based in southern Louisiana. The boats were owned by the recent wave of Vietnamese refugees who flooded into the familiar tropical environment after the war. Floating in calm seas out in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, I would hear tearful songs and tales from ex-paratroopers about losing brothers, sisters, parents, children, lovers, and beautiful Vietnam itself to the communists.

In Bayou country I lived on boats and in doublewide trailers, and like the rest of the Vietnamese refugees, I shopped at Wal-Mart and ate a lot of rice. When they arrived in Louisiana the refugees had no money (the money that they had was used to bribe their way out of Vietnam and into refugee camps in Thailand), few friends, and a mostly unfriendly and suspicious local population.

They did however have strong families, a strong work ethic, and the "Audacity of Hope." Within a generation, with little or no knowledge of English, the Vietnamese had achieved dominance in the fishing industry there and their children were already achieving the top SAT scores in the state.

While I had been fishing my new black friend had been working as a prison psychologist in Missouri, and he was pursuing a higher degree in psychology. He was interested in my story, and after about an hour getting to know each other I asked him point blank why these Vietnamese refugees, with no money, friends, or knowledge of the language could be, within a generation, so successful. I also asked him why it was so difficult to convince young black men to abandon the streets and take advantage of the same kinds of opportunities that the Vietnamese had recently embraced.

His answer, only a few words, not only floored me but became sort of a razor that has allowed me ever since to slice through all of the rhetoric regarding race relations that Democrats shovel our way during election season:
"We're owed and they aren't."
In short, he concluded, "they're hungry and we think we're owed. It's crushing us, and as long as we think we're owed we're going nowhere."

A good test case for this theory is Katrina. Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and assorted white apologists continue to express anger and outrage over the federal response to the Katrina disaster. But where were the Vietnamese "leaders" expressing their "anger?" The Vietnamese comprise a substantial part of the New Orleans population, and yet are absent was any report claiming that the Vietnamese were "owed" anything. This is not to say that the federal response was an adequate one, but we need to take this as a sign that maybe the problem has very little to do with racism and a lot to with a mindset.

The mindset that one is "owed" something in life has not only affected black mobility in business but black mobility in education as well. Remember Ward Churchill? About fifteen years ago he was my boss. After leaving the fishing boats, I attended graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I managed to get a job on campus teaching expository writing to minority students who had been accepted provisionally into the university on an affirmative action program. And although I never met him, Ward Churchill, in addition to teaching in the ethnic studies department, helped to develop and organize the minority writing program.

The job paid most of my bills, but what I witnessed there was absolutely horrifying. The students were encouraged to write essays attacking the white establishment from every conceivable angle and in addition to defend affirmative action and other government programs. Of the hundreds of papers that I read, there was not one original contribution to the problem of black mobility that strayed from the party line.

The irony of it all however is that the "white establishment" managed to get them into the college and pay their entire tuition. Instead of being encouraged to study international affairs, classical or modern languages, philosophy or art, most of these students became ethnic studies or sociology majors because it allowed them to remain in disciplines whose orientation justified their existence at the university. In short, it became a vicious cycle.

There was a student there I'll never forget. He was plucked out of the projects in Denver and given a free ride to the university. One day in my office he told me that his mother had said the following to him: "M.J., they owe you this. White people at that university owe you this." M.J.'s experience at the university was a glorious fulfillment of his mother's angst.

There were black student organizations and other clubs that "facilitated" the minority student's experience on the majority white and "racist" campus, in addition to a plethora of faculty members, both white and black, who encouraged the same animus toward the white establishment. While adding to their own bona fides as part of the trendy Left, these "facilitators" supplied M.J. with everything he needed to quench his and his mother's anger, but nothing in the way of advice about how to succeed in college. No one, in short, had told M.J. that he needed to study. But since he was "owed" everything, why put out any effort on his own?

In a fit of despair after failing most of his classes, M.J. wandered into my office one Friday afternoon in the middle of the semester and asked if I could help him out. I asked M.J. about his plans that evening, and he told me that he usually attended parties on Friday and Saturday nights. I told him that if he agreed to meet me in front of the university library at 6:00pm I would buy him dinner. At 6pm M.J. showed up, and for the next twenty minutes we wandered silently through the stacks, lounges, and study areas of the library. When we arrived back at the entrance I asked M.J. if he noticed anything interesting. As we headed up the hill to a popular burger joint, M.J. turned to me and said:
"They were all Asian. Everyone in there was Asian, and it was Friday night."
Nothing I could do, say, or show him, however, could match the fire power of his support system favoring anger. I was sad to hear of M.J. dropping out of school the following semester.

During my time teaching in the writing program, I watched Asians get transformed via leftist doublespeak from "minorities" to "model minorities" to "they're not minorities" in precise rhythm to their fortunes in business and education. Asians were "minorities" when they were struggling in this country, but they became "model minorities" when they achieved success. Keep in mind "model minority" did not mean what most of us think it means, i.e., something to emulate. "Model minority" meant that Asians had certain cultural advantages, such as a strong family tradition and a culture of scholarship that the black community lacked.

To suggest that intact families and a philosophy of self-reliance could be the ticket to success would have undermined the entire angst establishment. Because of this it was improper to use Asian success as a model. The contortions the left exercised in order to defend this ridiculous thesis helped to pave the way for the elimination of Asians altogether from the status of "minority." This whole process took only a few years. Eric Hoffer said:
"...you do not win the weak by sharing your wealth with them; it will but infect them with greed and resentment. You can win the weak only by sharing your pride, hope or hatred with them."
We now know that Barack Obama really has no interest in the "audacity of hope." With his race speech, Obama became a peddler of angst, resentment and despair. Too bad he doesn't direct that angst at the liberal establishment that has sold black people a bill of goods since the 1960s. What Obama seems angry about is America itself and what it stands for; the same America that has provided fabulous opportunities for what my black friend called "hungry" minorities. Strong families, self-reliance, and a spirit of entrepreneurship should be held up as ideals for all races to emulate. In the end, we should be very suspicious about Obama's anger and the recent frothings of his close friend Reverend Wright. Says Eric Hoffer:
The fact seems to be that we are least open to precise knowledge concerning the things we are most vehement about. Vehemence is the expression of a blind effort to support and uphold something that can never stand on its own.


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH 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.


Comment (1) | Trackback

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Explaining religion

A large excerpt below that attempts to explain religion in biochemical or evolutionary terms. Because the research is almost all conducted by unbelievers, it misses the obvious -- that religion is simply an extension of the very human trait of seeking explanations for things. And seeking explanations for our own existence is at the heart of what religion is about. Some Christians might even say that God gave us the ability to seek explanations so that we could discover Him

Religion cries out for a biological explanation. It is a ubiquitous phenomenon-arguably one of the species markers of Homo sapiens-but a puzzling one. It has none of the obvious benefits of that other marker of humanity, language. Nevertheless, it consumes huge amounts of resources. Moreover, unlike language, it is the subject of violent disagreements. Science has, however, made significant progress in understanding the biology of language, from where it is processed in the brain to exactly how it communicates meaning. Time, therefore, to put religion under the microscope as well.

Explaining Religion is an ambitious attempt to do this. The experiments it will sponsor are designed to look at the mental mechanisms needed to represent an omniscient deity, whether (and how) belief in such a "surveillance-camera" God might improve reproductive success to an individual's Darwinian advantage, and whether religion enhances a person's reputation-for instance, do people think that those who believe in God are more trustworthy than those who do not? The researchers will also seek to establish whether different religions foster different levels of co-operation, for what reasons, and whether such co-operation brings collective benefits, both to the religious community and to those outside it.

It is an ambitious shopping list. Fortunately, other researchers have blazed a trail. Patrick McNamara, for example, is the head of the Evolutionary Neurobehaviour Laboratory at Boston University's School of Medicine. He works with people who suffer from Parkinson's disease. This illness is caused by low levels of a messenger molecule called dopamine in certain parts of the brain. In a preliminary study, Dr McNamara discovered that those with Parkinson's had lower levels of religiosity than healthy individuals, and that the difference seemed to correlate with the disease's severity. He therefore suspects a link with dopamine levels and is now conducting a follow-up involving some patients who are taking dopamine-boosting medicine and some of whom are not.

Such neurochemical work, though preliminary, may tie in with scanning studies conducted to try to find out which parts of the brain are involved in religious experience. Nina Azari, a neuroscientist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo who also has a doctorate in theology, has looked at the brains of religious people. She used positron emission tomography (PET) to measure brain activity in six fundamentalist Christians and six non-religious (though not atheist) controls. The Christians all said that reciting the first verse of the 23rd psalm helped them enter a religious state of mind, so both groups were scanned in six different sets of circumstances: while reading the first verse of the 23rd psalm, while reciting it out loud, while reading a happy story (a well-known German children's rhyme), while reciting that story out loud, while reading a neutral text (how to use a calling card) and while at rest.

Dr Azari was expecting to see activity in the limbic systems of the Christians when they recited the psalm. Previous research had suggested that this part of the brain (which regulates emotion) is an important centre of religious activity. In fact what happened was increased activity in three areas of the frontal and parietal cortex, some of which are better known for their involvement in rational thought. The control group did not show activity in these parts of their brains when listening to the psalm. And, intriguingly, the only thing that triggered limbic activity in either group was reading the happy story.

Dr Azari's PET study, together with one by Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania, which used single-photon emission computed tomography done on Buddhist monks, and another by Mario Beauregard of the University of Montreal, which put Carmelite nuns in a magnetic-resonance-imaging machine, all suggest that religious activity is spread across many parts of the brain. That conflicts not only with the limbic-system theory but also with earlier reports of a so-called God Spot that derived partly from work conducted on epileptics. These reports suggested that religiosity originates specifically in the brain's temporal lobe, and that religious visions are the result of epileptic seizures that affect this part of the brain.

Though there is clearly still a long way to go, this sort of imaging should eventually tie down the circuitry of religious experience and that, combined with work on messenger molecules of the sort that Dr McNamara is doing, will illuminate how the brain generates and processes religious experiences. Dr Azari, however, is sceptical that such work will say much about religion's evolution and function. For this, other methods are needed.

Dr McNamara, for example, plans to analyse a database called the Ethnographic Atlas to see if he can find any correlations between the amount of cultural co-operation found in a society and the intensity of its religious rituals. And Richard Sosis, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut, has already done some research which suggests that the long-term co-operative benefits of religion outweigh the short-term costs it imposes in the form of praying many times a day, avoiding certain foods, fasting and so on.

On the face of things, it is puzzling that such costly behaviour should persist. Some scholars, however, draw an analogy with sexual selection. The splendour of a peacock's tail and the throaty roar of a stag really do show which males are fittest, and thus help females choose. Similarly, signs of religious commitment that are hard to fake provide a costly and reliable signal to others in a group that anyone engaging in them is committed to that group. Free-riders, in other words, would not be able to gain the advantages of group membership.

To test whether religion might have emerged as a way of improving group co-operation while reducing the need to keep an eye out for free-riders, Dr Sosis drew on a catalogue of 19th-century American communes published in 1988 by Yaacov Oved of Tel Aviv University. Dr Sosis picked 200 of these for his analysis; 88 were religious and 112 were secular. Dr Oved's data include the span of each commune's existence and Dr Sosis found that communes whose ideology was secular were up to four times as likely as religious ones to dissolve in any given year.

A follow-up study that Dr Sosis conducted in collaboration with Eric Bressler of McMaster University in Canada focused on 83 of these communes (30 religious, 53 secular) to see if the amount of time they survived correlated with the strictures and expectations they imposed on the behaviour of their members. The two researchers examined things like food consumption, attitudes to material possessions, rules about communication, rituals and taboos, and rules about marriage and sexual relationships.

As they expected, they found that the more constraints a religious commune placed on its members, the longer it lasted (one is still going, at the grand old age of 149). But the same did not hold true of secular communes, where the oldest was 40. Dr Sosis therefore concludes that ritual constraints are not by themselves enough to sustain co-operation in a community-what is needed in addition is a belief that those constraints are sanctified.

Dr Sosis has also studied modern secular and religious kibbutzim in Israel. Because a kibbutz, by its nature, depends on group co-operation, the principal difference between the two is the use of religious ritual. Within religious communities, men are expected to pray three times daily in groups of at least ten, while women are not. It should, therefore, be possible to observe whether group rituals do improve co-operation, based on the behaviour of men and women.

To do so, Dr Sosis teamed up with Bradley Ruffle, an economist at Ben-Gurion University, in Israel. They devised a game to be played by two members of a kibbutz. This was a variant of what is known to economists as the common-pool-resource dilemma, which involves two people trying to divide a pot of money without knowing how much the other is asking for. In the version of the game devised by Dr Sosis and Dr Ruffle, each participant was told that there was an envelope with 100 shekels in it (between 1/6th and 1/8th of normal monthly income). Both players could request money from the envelope, but if the sum of their requests exceeded its contents, neither got any cash. If, however, their request equalled, or was less than, the 100 shekels, not only did they keep the money, but the amount left was increased by 50% and split between them.

Dr Sosis and Dr Ruffle picked the common-pool-resource dilemma because the communal lives of kibbutz members mean they often face similar dilemmas over things such as communal food, power and cars. The researchers' hypothesis was that in religious kibbutzim men would be better collaborators (and thus would take less) than women, while in secular kibbutzim men and women would take about the same. And that was exactly what happened.

Dr Sosis is not the only researcher to employ economic games to investigate the nature and possible advantages of religion. Ara Norenzayan, an experimental psychologist at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, has conducted experiments using what is known as the dictator game. This, too, is a well-established test used to gauge altruistic behaviour. Participants receive a sum of money-Dr Norenzayan set it at $10-and are asked if they would like to share it with another player. The dictator game thus differs from another familiar economic game in which one person divides the money and the other decides whether to accept or reject that division.

As might be expected, in the simple version of the dictator game most people take most or all of the money. However, Dr Norenzayan and his graduate student Azim Shariff tried to tweak the game by introducing the idea of God. They did this by priming half of their volunteers to think about religion by getting them to unscramble sentences containing religious words such as God, spirit, divine, sacred and prophet. Those thus primed left an average of $4.22, while the unprimed left $1.84.

Exactly what Dr Norenzayan has discovered here is not clear. A follow-up experiment which primed people with secular words that might, nevertheless, have prompted them to behave in an altruistic manner (civic, jury, court, police and contract) had similar effects, so it may be that he has touched on a general question of morality, rather than a specific one of religion. However, an experiment carried out by Jesse Bering, of Queen's University in Belfast, showed quite specifically that the perceived presence of a supernatural being can affect a person's behaviour-although in this case the being was not God, but the ghost of a dead person.

Dr Bering, too, likes the hypothesis that religion promotes fitness by promoting collaboration within groups. One way that might work would be to rely not just on other individuals to detect cheats by noticing things like slacking on the prayers or eating during fasts, but for cheats to detect and police themselves as well. In that case a sense of being watched by a supernatural being might be useful. Dr Bering thus proposes that belief in such beings would prevent what he called "dangerous risk miscalculations" that would lead to social deviance and reduced fitness.

One of the experiments he did to test this idea was to subject a bunch of undergraduates to a quiz. His volunteers were told that the best performer among them would receive a $50 prize. They were also told that the computer program that presented the questions had a bug in it, which sometimes caused the answer to appear on the screen before the question. The volunteers were therefore instructed to hit the space bar immediately if the word "Answer" appeared on the screen. That would remove the answer and ensure the test results were fair.

The volunteers were then divided into three groups. Two began by reading a note dedicating the test to a recently deceased graduate student. One did not see the note. Of the two groups shown the note, one was told by the experimenter that the student's ghost had sometimes been seen in the room. The other group was not given this suggestion.

The so-called glitch occurred five times for each student. Dr Bering measured the amount of time it took to press the space bar on each occasion. He discarded the first result as likely to be unreliable and then averaged the other four. He found that those who had been told the ghost story were much quicker to press the space bar than those who had not. They did so in an average of 4.3 seconds. That compared with 6.3 seconds for those who had only read the note about the student's death and 7.2 for those who had not heard any of the story concerning the dead student. In short, awareness of a ghost-a supernatural agent-made people less likely to cheat.


The Man Islamists Cannot Silence

By Richard L. Benkin

He fired the first salvo in 2003 and has been sticking his thumb in Islamist eyes ever since. Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury describes himself as a "Muslim Zionist." He is unabashedly pro-US, pro-Israel, and anti-Islamist. More importantly, he remains all of that from within the Muslim world, which he refuses to leave. I have fielded any number of asylum requests for him, and he declined them all. "Retreat is not in my vocabulary," he says, for he believes that if he were to leave his country, his credibility would be gone, and Islamists would claim victory; a satisfaction he refuses to give them. "Bangladesh is my country," he says. "Let the radicals leave!"

Since 2003, we have fought not only a battle of ideas but also a battle of wills with our adversaries; and the skirmishes never end. Shoaib has been imprisoned and tortured. He has been beaten, and Islamists bombed his newspaper before they and their cronies in the ruling party seized the premises. All of this happened after Shoaib published articles that exposed the rising strength of Islamist radicals in Bangladesh, urged relations with Israel, and advocated genuine interfaith dialogue based on religious equality.

In November of that year, he was about to board a plane for Bangkok and then Israel (there are no direct flights between Dhaka and Tel Aviv), agents grabbed him. Eventually, they charged him with sedition, treason, and blasphemy, which are capital offenses and could send Shoaib to the gallows.

In 2005, however, after an intense seventeen month campaign for his freedom, Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) took on his case. He summoned then Bangladeshi Ambassador Shamsher M. Chowdhury to his Washington office, and the three of us had a sometimes acrimonious, always difficult, hours-long meeting. As Kirk (a member of the House Appropriations Committee) describes it, we had a "full and frank discussion," after which Dhaka agreed to free Shoaib Choudhury.

Our elation was short-lived, however, when Shamsher Chowdhury clarified that Shoaib would be freed on bail even though the ambassador had just admitted that there was no substance to the charges. To be sure, we had won the most important point: Shoaib would be free. Still, I looked up and said, "Not good enough. It's an old and tired ruse used by tyrants," I continued. "Free the dissident but keep the charges pending in order to silence him." And so we argued some more until Chowdhury relented and agreed that Dhaka would drop the charges not long after Shoaib's release.

That was three years ago. The charges remain, even though numerous Bangladeshi officials have made the same admission as the ambassador; that the charges are baseless and are maintained only to placate the country's radical Islamists. Bangladesh's population is about 88 percent Muslim, a figure that is growing constantly, especially as Hindus are being ethnically cleansed from that country, falling from 18 to nine percent of the population. Although radical Islamists affiliated with Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations represent only a small proportion of the population, they have infiltrated and taken charge of almost every major institution in Bangladesh from education and banking to police and the judiciary.

For months, both sides had settled into a sort of stasis until this past fall when the Bangladeshis tried illegally to revoke Shoaib's bail and send him back to prison. The fact that we continued to frustrate these attempts could have had something to do with what happened next. On the evening of March 18, as Shoaib sat at his desk working on another edition of his newspaper, Weekly Blitz, a large contingent of armed goons from the government's paramilitary squad -- the hated and feared Rapid Action Battalion or RAB -- burst into his office. They ordered all employees out, seized Shoaib's means of contacting the outside, and began "interrogating" him.

Fortunately, his driver quickly alerted Shoaib's brother, Sohail, who telephoned me in the United States. Shoaib's life was in very real danger, so we determined on an immediate course of action. Sohail called Luke Zahner, Second Secretary at the US Embassy in Dhaka, and a long time supporter of Shoaib's. Zahner, who had previously helped set up USAID's elections support program in Iraq, notified U.S. Charg‚ d'Affaires Geeta Pasi.

I telephoned Kirk's office and described the events unfolding in Dhaka and their life-and-death nature to Andria Hoffman, who is Kirk's point person on the Choudhury case. "These [RAB] are bad people. I know them, and you don't even want them as friends, let alone be on their bad side. They're the kind of group where people sometimes go into their custody and `disappear.'"

Hoffman got to Kirk, and they set up an emergency command center in his Longworth Building office. I then called three other legislators who have been especially supportive of Shoaib: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA). Their staffs -- who had frequently worked with me on Shoaib's case -- said they would take action and coordinate further with Kirk's office.

That done, I telephoned Bangladesh's DC embassy and told them the following: "If I don't receive a telephone call confirming that Shoaib has been released unharmed and soon, you're going to have a s**t storm like you've never even imagined." Within a short time, the embassy received calls from all four members of Congress mentioned above, as well as several others who they got involved. Hoffman called the Embassy's political secretary, Sheikh Mohammed Belal on his personal cell phone, demanding action.

Cut to Bangladesh. After holding Shoaib for about an hour an a half, an RAB officer said (and I am paraphrasing here), `Oh look, it appears he has some illegal drugs in his desk drawer.' Now, I have known Shoaib as a brother for years, and we have spent a lot of time together. The man is simply not involved in any way with drugs. Moreover, he and I have spoken on many occasions of the paramount importance of his remaining "squeaky clean" in every way so as not to give his enemies an excuse to further persecute him. According to Sohail Choudhury, the evidence had to be planted, a tactic that RAB has been known to use rather liberally. No matter; they blindfolded Shoaib and took him to a "detention center" within RAB's office in the capital. According to Shoaib, the officers continued the verbal assault non-stop. They threatened him specifically and journalists in general for their criticism of the current military-backed government. They repeatedly called Shoaib a "Zionist spy and agent of the Jews."

At one point, Shoaib reminded them that they were violating a US Congressional Resolution that calls for an end to this sort of harassment, something with which the government said it would comply. House Resolution 64, authored by Kirk and co-sponsored by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) calls on the Bangladeshis to drop all charges against Shoaib and end all harassment of him and his family. It passed last year by an overwhelmingly 409-1 margin. Their response was a string of expletives about the United States and the value of its resolutions.

As they approached the three hour mark, things were turning even nastier. RAB officers told Shoaib that he could expect a steady diet of this, or even worse, unless he began working for them; something that he called "ridiculous." Then the phone rang. The officers told Shoaib that the call came from "a high government official" ordering them to let him go. He phoned Sohail and asked him to bring him home.

Before they allowed them to go, however, Shoaib's captors forced the pair to sign an affidavit giving RAB the power to enter their home or business at any time and for any reason; although it should be added that it had no warrant or other sort of order when its men broke into his newspaper earlier. As such, Shoaib remains in danger, especially as his legal status remains equivocal at best.

Although Shoaib was released unharmed, the action represents a serious escalation of the government's and its Islamist cronies' attempt to silence this courageous journalist who now counts supporters on every continent. Equally important, we have learned over the years that they do these things periodically to probe us and test our resolve. They want to know if we are going to react or note. They want to know if we still are ready to defend Shoaib and other anti-Islamists or if we have lost interest.

Unfortunately, they started this false persecution on the assumption that no one would care what happened to Shoaib, and many in the government still believe that we Americans have little resolve -- and actually have told me that. And so they go after us. Our enemies count on this and point to success when they hear proposals to make concessions in Israel or to pull up stakes in Iraq and elsewhere. If we don't respond, and respond with strength, they'll continue persecuting Shoaib and others like him.

Because, in fact, the stakes go beyond even the fate of this hero. Muslim editors from Pakistan to Indonesia (and even the United States) have told us that Muslims throughout Asia are watching this case. They want to know if it is possible to stand against the radicals and prevail -- without running to the safety of the West, as they put it. If Shoaib prevails, they will be emboldened to act similarly. If we let him go down -- and that is exactly how they will see it -- they will remain silent.

When Shoaib was in prison, his brother told me that people all over the world who need a champion to save them from oppression look only one place, the United States; not to Europe; not to tyrants like Mahmoud Ahmedinejad or Fidel Castro who claim to be freedom fighters; and not to terrorist like Osama Bin Laden. When we stand with Shoaib, we reinforce their belief in us.

In the meantime, Shoaib Choudhury refuses to be silent, especially he says given all the support he received. Two days after his abuse at RAB's hands, he published another edition of Weekly Blitz. Two of its headline articles were "RAB Cocoon of Terror" and "They want to Appease Islamists." He is our ally; he is my brother; he is the bravest man I know. He is the man whom Islamists cannot silence.


Two death-row inmates force a moratorium on capital punishment

About 7 o'clock on the morning of April 9, 1990, Tina Earley was dropping off her husband, Edward, at a dry-cleaning business they owned in Lexington, Ky., when a car driven by Thomas Clyde Bowling slammed into her vehicle. For reasons that remain unclear, Bowling jumped out of his car and shot the Earleys - killing them both and wounding their two-year-old son. Then he drove away. Within a couple of days, the police arrested Bowling for the crime.

About two years later, not far from the scene of the Earley murders, sheriff Steve Bennett and deputy sheriff Arthur Briscoe approached the cabin of Ralph Baze to arrest him on multiple warrants. Baze chose to resist. He fired three shots into the back of Bennett, killing him. Briscoe tried to get away, but he failed - Baze shot him twice, again in the back. Briscoe still wasn't dead, so Baze put a fatal bullet into his brain.

Juries placed both Bowling and Baze on death row. But a series of legal maneuvers has kept Kentucky from carrying out their sentences. Most recently, they have claimed a constitutional right to "an anesthetized death" that is "essentially painless" - something they say Kentucky can't provide because it executes via lethal injection, as does nearly every state that employs the death penalty.

Their case is currently before the Supreme Court, with a ruling expected by June. There hasn't been a single execution in the United States since a few days after the justices' September decision to take up the case - judges at all levels, including the Supreme Court itself, have issued stays of execution whenever death-row inmates have requested them. The result is the first nationwide halt to capital punishment since the 1970s. This moratorium could continue indefinitely if the court decides that murderers shouldn't have to confront the remote possibility that they will suffer briefly as they die.

The case, Baze v. Rees, boils down to an interpretation of the Eighth Amendment - and specifically the meaning of its ban on "cruel and unusual punishments." When the Founders wrote these words into the Constitution, their intent was to forbid the most gruesome measures: beheading, mutilation, drawing and quartering, burning at the stake, and so on. Over time, the words of the Eighth Amendment have been taken as a restriction on torture and lingering death.

For a century, execution meant hanging - a form of capital punishment that often involves a near-instant death if the spinal cord is broken, or a minute or two of strangulation before unconsciousness arrives. Toward the end of the 19th century, the noose gave way first to the electric chair and then to the gas chamber, in the belief that they were more humane. Today, however, no state relies on hanging or the gas chamber exclusively, and only Nebraska uses the electric chair. (A handful of states allow the condemned to choose these methods; the last hanging occurred in Delaware in 1996.)

Just as the gas chamber replaced the gallows, older methods of execution have been supplanted by lethal injection, once again because it is regarded as more humane - swifter, less painful, and more certain. As a form of execution, it's a throwback to old-fashioned poisoning, but it's a far cry from Socrates and his hemlock. Lethal injection uses a three-drug cocktail that anesthetizes, relaxes, and finally kills. Bowling and Baze can't claim that lethal injection is unusual, because 36 states employ it. But they would like the Supreme Court to find that it is cruel.

The justices have a history of restricting the death penalty. In 1972, they essentially banned capital punishment because of what they regarded as its arbitrary application. (In the aftermath, Arkansas used its electric chair in a prison barber shop, according to The Death Penalty: An American History, by Stuart Banner.) Over the next four years, however, many states passed sentencing guidelines - and the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment once more. The court also has imposed limits: No one faces the executioner for rape, kidnapping, or crimes committed as minors, and the mentally retarded are exempt no matter what they have done.

Bowling and Baze would like the court to create a new prohibition on the grounds that lethal injection as currently practiced may not always kill with perfect painlessness. Their assertion highlights the controversial phenomenon of "anesthesia awareness," a condition in which patients are supposedly anesthetized for a procedure but in fact can feel pain and aren't able to communicate their distress to doctors. In the case of a three-drug lethal injection, it would mean that the first drug (an anesthetic called sodium thiopental) fails to work but the second (pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant) does its job and paralyzes the condemned as the third (potassium chloride) performs its grim function.

There is essentially no argument against lethal injection when it functions properly. During oral arguments on January 7, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy got the plaintiffs' lawyer, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., to admit as much. "If there were a way to guarantee that the procedure worked every time, then we wouldn't have substantial risk," he said. Yet death-penalty foes have claimed that lethal injections are often botched and that when they're botched they're cruel. The American Civil Liberties Union backs Bowling and Baze. It has filed a brief on their behalf, writing that current forms of lethal injection are "inconsistent with contemporary values and civilized standards of decency."

The advocates of capital punishment have shown little sympathy for this line of argument. "It's a last-ditch effort," says Josh Marquis, the Democratic district attorney of Oregon's Clatsop County. "To believe that a person who has committed the absolute worst crime should not suffer momentary discomfort is absurd." Bill Otis, a former assistant U.S. attorney who supports capital punishment, has likened the legal strategy to the one pro-lifers adopted in their attempts to outlaw partial-birth abortion: "The opponents know that they can't sell wholesale abolition to the country, so they're trying to focus on a particular procedure in order to gain a little ground." Capital punishment registers more public support than just about any other policy that is routinely deemed divisive. In a Gallup poll last October, 69 percent of respondents said that they favored the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

The debate over lethal injection seeks to shift the conversation away from the crimes of the condemned - nobody's fretting over the pain of Sheriff Briscoe - and endeavors to transform killers into victims, strapped into gurneys and awaiting pain. "We have to remember that the ultimate purpose of this procedure is to punish them for the exceptionally brutal crimes that they chose to commit," says Kent Scheidegger of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

One potential but flawed solution would be to require the presence of doctors at executions. They might ensure that the anesthetics are working as intended before the administration of further drugs, for instance. The problem is that doctors are professionally obligated to heal rather than to kill - the American Medical Association forbids its members to participate in executions. So does the American Society of Anesthesiologists. "This could have a chilling effect with patients, if they realize that anesthesiologists can double as executioners," says Orin Guidry, a Charleston, S.C., doctor who is a former president of the ASA. Last year in North Carolina, the state medical board threatened to strip the licenses of doctors who take part in executions. A judge stopped this move, but the ruling is under appeal, and points to the potential hazard of an inconclusive Supreme Court decision: expensive and time-consuming death-penalty litigation that might extend the current moratorium on capital punishment.

That could cost innocent lives. The familiar question of whether the death penalty is a crime deterrent has experienced a recent revival thanks to new analyses. In one sophisticated study that draws upon 25 years of FBI data, Roy D. Adler and Michael Summers of Pepperdine University have calculated that each execution correlates with about 74 fewer murders the following year. If that number or anything approaching it is accurate, it would mean that obstructions to capital punishment are deadly.


Australia: Incomes for low-paid leapt in recent years

THE incomes of the nation's poorest households rose more dramatically than those of the richest Australians in the final years of the Howard [conservative] government, buoyed by rising wages and bulging welfare payments. While lone parents, indigenous Australians and the disabled still struggled, overall the poorest households have enjoyed the largest rise in income over the past six years.

The findings of the first study to track changes to income and wealth in the same group of people cast a new light on one of Kevin Rudd's central themes in Opposition - that in John Howard's "brutopia" the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer. During last year's election campaign, Mr Rudd described working families as the "forgotten people", but the new research appears to paint a contrary picture. Since 2001, earnings for those at the bottom of the ladder rose more sharply than for those near the top - the top 10 per cent suffering a slight fall from 2001 to 2006.

While the rise in overall wealth favoured the top end - primarily due to higher property ownership - increases to lower-end incomes meant the rich hadn't skated away from the poor. "The figures show current income is not a good predictor of future income," said labour economist Mark Wooden, who will detail the findings at the two-day New Agenda for Prosperity conference, presented by the Melbourne Institute and The Australian, opening at Melbourne University on Thursday.

The data comes from the federal Government's Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, a longitudinal study of 14,000 people nationwide, which is managed by the institute. "It shows everyone has done pretty well in Australia since 2001," Professor Wooden, institute deputy director, told The Australian. "The rich have done a little better overall than the poor, and those with property have had a big surge. "But those with property are spread across the income spectrum."

The data, compiled by the institute's Roger Wilkins, shows median incomes - after adjusting for inflation - for those in the lowest 10 per cent of households increased 29 per cent after tax to about $26,000. The top 10 per cent saw their income fall by 2.5 per cent to $138,000. Wealth for the median household has risen rapidly since the turn of the century, from $215,000 to $340,000, fuelled by the property boom and a 51per cent increase in average superannuation balances to $123,000. For the bottom 10 per cent, wealth rose from $114,000 to $175,000. For the top 10 per it rose from $770,000 to $975,000.

"Income changes have tended to favour the poor, with the biggest winners being those in the bottom 10per cent and the biggest losers those in the top 10 per cent," Professor Wooden said. "And if you factor in non-cash benefits provided by the Government, the figures would tilt even more in favour of the poor."

Professor Wooden said a significant contributor to the improved fortunes of the poor had been better employment prospects and relatively strong wages growth. Moves from welfare to work almost invariably mean increased incomes, but even among the employed it has been the low-paid who have fared best. "People don't tend to move from one minimum pay job to another," he said. "They move to better jobs. Also at the lower end, there are automatic pay increments built into the system, whereas atthe top of the scale when people are close to their maximum productivity potential, pay increases are harder to come by except when there's a promotion. "And those lighthouse examples of directors getting massive bonuses or payouts? They are just a tiny fraction of the overall picture."

The pro-poor picture in income growth had policy implications for welfare delivery. "The Government could be handing out dollars to people who will be doing a lot better in the near future," Professor Wooden said. "This approach won't do much to address systemic disadvantage."

Those who remained stalled in the lowest 20 per cent of income and wealth over the six years surveyed were the indigenous, lone parents and the disabled. "It is here where the study could point the way to more targeted welfare delivery," hesaid.

In an essay titled Howard's Brutopia: The Battle of Ideas in Australian Politics published in The Monthly in 2006 shortly before he became Opposition leader, Mr Rudd cites warnings about the "brutopia of unchecked market forces".



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, March 24, 2008

Arabs screaming 'Allahu akbar' attack rabbi in NYC

A hate crime? Nah! Only white Christians can commit hate crimes

A police investigation has been launched into an attack in New York City on a rabbi who was kicked and punched by Arabs screaming "Allahu akbar," the same chant reportedly used by the 9/11 hijackers as they killed thousands of people in the city in 2001. The report comes from Vox iz Neiaas, which means "What's News," in New York. The incident happened in the jurisdiction of the 78th Precinct, according to the report, and is being investigated as a possible bias crime.

The report said an 18-year-old Arab man grabbed the yarmulke of a Jew at the 4th Ave. and 9th Street train station in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, "while his friends kicked and punched the victim while screaming 'Allahu akbar.'" The perpetrator grabbed the rabbi's head covering, then fled the scene only to be hit by a vehicle on a nearby street. The report said police arrested him and requested an ambulance, but were trying "to brush off the crime as just teenagers who don't know what 'Allahu akbar' means."

Israel National News identified the rabbi as Oriah Ohana, a 25-year-old from Kfar Chabad, Israel. The rabbi had chased the suspect who grabbed the yarmulke, and when the thief was hit by a car, the rest of the attackers renewed their assault, "claiming he was the cause of their friend's misfortune," the report said. They all escaped before police arrived except the man who was hit by the car.

The Arabic declaration, translated as "Allah is greatest," often is chanted by Muslims before or during terrorist attacks.


Colorado Bills Could See Catholic Hospitals Forced to Provide Abortions or Close Down

The bill HB 1173, set for a final vote on Tuesday, would allow Colorado courts to dictate how charitable organizations, including Catholic hospitals, spend their funds. Following the January introduction of HB 1173, two other bills also were introduced in Colorado that would further limit the freedom of faith-based hospitals to practice medicine in accord with their convictions.

The three bills stem from the efforts of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System to purchase control of two hospitals from Community First Foundation, thus making Lutheran Medical Center and Good Samaritan Medical Catholic facilities.

According to the Colorado Catholic Conferences, "The outcome of this bill (1173) would be to allow courts to modify a charitable organization's use of funds if it is thought that the funds are not being used appropriately. This bill could seriously interfere with the pending hospital sale of Good Samaritan and Lutheran hospitals to the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth."

The bill HB 1203 forbids transactions between licensed hospitals that would hinder services such as abortion and sterilization. Hence, HB 1203 would forbid the sale of the two hospitals to the Catholic Sisters of Charity.

The bill SB 182 states that hospitals must supply any "essential health service." The government department of health is free to determine what "essential health service" is and can remove a hospital's license for failing to offer any such service. Thus, SB 182 would allow the government to declare abortion an "essential health service" and take licenses from hospitals that refuse to perform them. "This is not a fight about a Catholic hospital. This is fight over the freedom of any faith-based community service to BE faith-based - to be faithful to its beliefs, regardless of the prevailing winds of political correctness which may blow to the contrary," stated Connie Marshner, Director of Governance for the Free Congress Foundation. "If current legislation pending in Colorado passes, then the freedom of conscience of all religious hospitals can be destroyed the same way: by state legislation and regulation," warned Marshner.

Catholic hospitals are expected to abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The ERD includes prohibitions against abortion, physician-assisted suicide, direct sterilization, the withholding of food and water from patients, and contraceptive procedures. To avoid the ERD some professedly Catholic hospitals form a separate corporation for "women's health services" that provides the sort of services the ERD forbids.

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput insists that Catholic hospitals have no connection whatsoever with ERD forbidden services, even if through separate corporations. Insisting on fidelity to both the letter and spirit of the ERD, Chaput stated, "There is no such thing as 'strictly' or 'loosely' following Ethical and Religious Directives - any more than a person can be strictly or loosely faithful in a marriage."

In November of 2007, the American College of Gynecology issued a statement insisting on the obligation of hospitals to supply services such as sterilization and abortion. About a year earlier, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice issued a similar statement.


Polish President Warns EU Charter Could Force "Gay Marriage" on the Catholic Country

Polish referendum on Lisbon Treaty could strengthen calls for referendums in other EU countries

Poland's head of state, President Lech Kaczynski, angered Poland's homosexual activists and their friends in the Polish government and the EU when he warned in a television address against the dangers of adopting the EU's new treaty and its Charter of Fundamental Rights. He said that the Charter, because it had no clear definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, may leave signatory nations open to attacks on the institution by the homosexualist lobby. "An article of the charter," he said, "...may go against the universally accepted moral order in Poland and force our country to introduce an institution in conflict with the moral convictions of the decided majority of our country." The Polish constitution states that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The European Union and other pan-Europe bodies have consistently attacked Poland's constitutional protections of natural marriage and the unborn. Poland remains, despite declines, 89.8 percent Catholic, with about 75 percent practicing their faith, one of the highest rates of religious practice of any of the Catholic European countries.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who is known to be strongly pro-Europe, responded, "The anti-European political row provoked by [the President's party] PiS is no good for Poland's strong position in the EU and the world. I regret to say that the president has joined this row with his address."

If the President's opposition Law and Justice Party were to block the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in Parliament, Poland could hold a referendum, Prime Minister Tusk said Tuesday. "We will do everything in our power in parliament for the Lisbon Treaty, which offers real chances to strengthen Poland's position in the EU, to be ratified," Tusk, the head of government, declared.

The Lisbon Treaty, the replacement for the defeated European Union Constitution that hands over significant powers to Brussels, has been a contentious issue in Britain, where opposition Tories and a large portion of the public have demanded a referendum that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has refused, despite Labour's campaign promises. Some have speculated that a Polish plebiscite could embolden calls for such votes in other EU countries.

President Kaczynski said, "Not everything in the EU is good for Poland." Opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the President's twin brother and leader of the Law and Justice party, is working to have the EU treaty include a preamble safeguarding the right of member states to opt out of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

At the same time, a New York man has filed a complaint against President Kaczynski for using in his speech a video clip of him and his sexual partner at their "marriage" ceremony. The Prime Minister used the clip during his address to illustrate the danger of following the homosexualist political agenda. Brendan Fay, a long-time homosexualist activist, complained to the International Herald Tribune, "Our images clearly were being used in a campaign by the president of Poland against lesbian and gay persons, and fostering intolerance and fear among the people of Poland." Fay "married" Tom Moulton at an Episcopal church in New York in a ceremony that was officiated in part by the Catholic priest, Raymond Lefebvre. They had their liaison officially registered in Toronto in 2003.

President Kaczynski has a history of standing up to pressure from the homosexualist lobby and the politicians who support them. In June 2005, after he banned a planned "Gay Pride" parade in Warsaw, Kaczynski made clear the distinction between homosexual persons and the political ideology driving the homosexualist lobby. He said, "I don't care if someone is a homosexual or not, and even if I found out something like that I wouldn't judge a person differently than on their actions alone." "But if that person tries to infect others with their homosexuality, then the state must intervene in this violation of freedom."

In February last year, President Kaczynski was denounced as a "homophobe" by Irish politicians for his comments linking natural sexuality with population growth. He said the human race "would disappear if homosexuality was freely promoted." The president was made these remarks in light of the current demographic crisis in Europe, which continent already has nearly total acceptance of homosexuality, contraception and abortion.


Australian Study Shows Dramatic Drop in Abortion, Low Proportion of Homosexuals

An extensive study of Australian attitudes towards sexuality and Australians' sexual behaviour has revealed that younger generations of Australian women are obtaining abortions much less frequently then the previous generation. Dr. Julia Shelley of Deakin University in Melbourne, one of members of the team of researchers conducting the study, told NEWS.com.au, "We've plotted a sudden decline in the abortion rate that is so low it harps right back to the time when abortion was illegal and rarely practiced.'' "That means that a young Australian woman these days is about as unlikely to have an abortion now as her grandmother was back in her day.''

The study, begun in 2005, involved 8,205 randomly selected Australians (4,124 females and 4,081 males) being interviewed about various issues related to sexual health and behaviour. "The main aim of the study is to follow a nationally representative group of Australians over their lifetime documenting both the natural history and patterns of health and relationships," reads the official description of the study.

According to the study, less than 5 percent of women born in the 1980s have had an abortion, which is significantly less than the 14 percent of older women. Dr. Shelley pointed out that the peak time for women to obtain an abortion is between the ages of 20 and 25, indicating that the figure of 5 percent for women born in the 1980s is unlikely to climb much higher over time.

The researcher attributed the decline in the abortion rate to several factors, including an increased use of contraceptives and a change in attitude that favors giving birth to children in Australia. According to Shelley, Australia is presently experiencing an increase in birthrate. However, Shelley was only willing to admit that women increasingly deciding not to abort, and instead to give birth to their children "may partially" explain the fall in abortion, instead putting most of the emphasis on an increased use of contraceptives, brought about thanks to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

"If women generally are now more willing to have babies if they fall pregnant then it may partially explain the fall in abortion among younger women,'' she said. However, she indicated "safe sex" practices are the primary reason for the decrease in abortion rates. "Widespread sexual education trailed the sexual revolution by some decades and I think the effect of that only more recently cut in and change practices,'' she said. "But probably more significantly, the occurrence of HIV and AIDS has vastly increased condom use which has the side effect of stopping unwanted pregnancies.''

The study also indicated that an extremely small fraction of the Australian population self-defines as "homosexual." Only .66 percent of women and 1.03 percent of men defined themselves as homosexual. This figure is well below the "statistic" of 10 percent that is often touted by homosexual activists. The extremely low percentage of homosexuals in the population agrees with the findings of other similar studies in Western countries. Besides those who self-defined as homosexual, another 1.26 percent of women and 1.23 percent of men defined themselves as bi-sexual.

However, the study also found that Australians have extremely liberal attitudes towards sex and marriage, with 86 percent of women and 88 percent of men agreeing that sex before marriage is acceptable.



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, March 23, 2008

The Next Black President Won't Be A Democrat

By Bob Parks

While drinking my morning coffee, I watched an editorial from the president and general manager of our local ABC affiliate. He seemed to be genuinely hurt by the turn the presidential primaries has taken. He concluded,
"And the most toxic political ism of all, racism, has sparked a firestorm touching all voters --- black, white, male, female, young and old. "This week Senator Obama felt he had to address the elephant in the room. Even at the highest levels -- whether it is a prominent minister or a former vice-presidential candidate --when it comes to the issue of race, Americans harbor beliefs and private hurts that erupted in public. "Let open and constructive debate continue on a festering problem plaguing America -- it's a discussion long overdue."

- Bill Fine, WCVB
I believe America IS ready for the next female or Black president. However, should that happen, that person will not be a Democrat, as that party has yet to acknowledge it's racist and sexist past, and we all know what happens to those who don't learn from the sins of their past.

Think about it. It's the liberal theology that deems it necessary to segregate students. Almost every high school and college has a Black Student Union. That thinking has also spawned feminist groups, Latino groups, gay groups, and whatever other "group" that they deem worthy of additional recognition.

It's liberal thinking that has created a hypersensitive atmosphere in the workplace. It's progressive thinking that's dictates that some people need a special advantage to compete with the mainstream. It's their policies that make it so people have to watch what they say (depending on whom they are talking about) in order not to offend.

A more mainstream electorate supports Black Republicans by nature, while they are opposed and hated by white and Black Democrats alike. Racial slurs directed towards Black Republicans are tolerated and even performed by white liberals with glee. This I know from experience. The first Black Secretary of State was a Republican. The first Black National Security Advisor was a Republican. The first Black female Secretary of State was a Republican. With that, I predict, the next female or Black person to become President of the United States will be a Republican. Democrats just haven't "grown" enough.

Most of us remember the political circus that was the nomination of Republican Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court. Even after surviving the "high tech lynching" that was the Anita Hill sideshow, Thomas continues to be a Black punching bag for liberals to this day.

When President Bush nominated Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, while receiving 76% of the vote electing her to the California Supreme Court, many Democrats not only opposed her nomination, but also proudly displayed the very intolerance they lecture the general population to avoid.

When Republican Ken Blackwell, former secretary of state of the U.S. state of Ohio, ran for Governor in the 2006 election he was, as he put it, "called everything except a child of God". He was vilified on racial terms, and the very taboos liberals lecture the general population to avoid, they laughed at and participated in when aimed at Blackwell.

The appointments of Colin Powell and Dr. Condoleezza Rice to Secretary of State, the highest appointments of people of color in our nation's history, should have prompted a celebration. Instead, it was the "tolerant, inclusive" left that put on public display the very intolerance they decry.

Democrats can bemoan the current, internal tone of the Democrat presidential primary, but until they come to grips with the racism that is apparently in their blood, they will never reach the pinnacle of tolerance and inclusion they instruct us to achieve. The irony of this situation almost reaches the level of parody.


Reaping the whirlwind

By Melanie Phillips

You couldn't avoid doing a double-take when you read it. Karen Matthews, mother of the missing schoolgirl Shannon who thankfully was discovered alive and well a few days ago, referred to her daughter and one of her other six children as `twins'. These children are actually aged nine and ten. But Ms Matthews says they are twins because she thinks that's what you call children who have the same father. With seven children by five different men, she seems to have no idea of what having the same father actually means.

This little vignette is as frightening as it is illuminating. It reveals not merely ignorance of some pretty basic facts about reproduction. Far worse, one of the most fundamental and universal features of human society - the connection between children and their fathers - is something which Ms Matthews does not appear even to register.

Cases like this expose the lethal hole at the heart of our society. There has been a great deal of criticism of Ms Matthews's household arrangements, as well as the `unconventional' lifestyle of Fiona MacKeown, mother of the 15-year-old girl murdered in Goa, who produced nine children by five different fathers. Both women have been portrayed as irresponsible or feckless mothers. Now there's a backlash with people saying they should not be blamed. But why not? Here are no fewer than 16 children (one of whom now tragically lies dead) who have been exposed to harm, risk, emotional neglect and worse as a result of the gross irresponsibility of their mothers and fathers.

Ms Matthews has been denounced as an unfit parent by her own mother, who has claimed that Shannon and her siblings have suffered an awful life at the violent hands of Ms Matthews's current boyfriend in residence, Craig Meehan - a charge he has strenuously denied. Ms MacKeown, meanwhile, has subjected her children to the anarchy of a hippy lifestyle. Herself a cannabis smoker, her eldest son has a serious drug habit and mental health problems; while her murdered daughter Scarlett's diary has revealed a confused and distressed child who was regularly stoned on drugs and got `stressy' if she went two days without sex.

Yet Ms MacKeown also deserves pity as a mother grieving for her murdered daughter. And who could not sympathise with the joy and relief of Karen Matthews at finding her child alive and well? These women have feelings no less than anyone else, after all. The problem is that these feelings have been channelled into the most twisted tributaries so that the very essence of love - putting the interests of someone else first - and the disciplines of everyday life that are essential to safeguard those interests, are to them a closed book.

The reasons this has happened go far beyond mere criticism of individuals. For these events reveal the existence of an underclass which is a world apart from the lives that most of us lead and the attitudes and social conventions that most of us take for granted. But it is an underclass which affluent, complacent, materialistic Britain has created. An underclass composed of whole communities where committed fathers are so rare that any child who actually has one risks being bullied. Where sex is reduced to an animal activity devoid of love or human dignity, and boys impregnate two, three, four girls with scarcely a second thought. Where successive generations of women have never known what it is to be loved and cherished by both their parents throughout their childhood. How can such women know how to parent their own children?

These children are simply abandoned in a twilight world where the words `family' or `relatives' lose all meaning, as the transient men passing through their mothers' lives leave them with an ever-lengthening trail of `step-fathers' or `uncles'who have no biological connection with them whatsoever.

Shannon has been found; but, tragically, with a background of such emotional chaos she will remain a lost child. Scarlett's mother, meanwhile, still sees nothing wrong in having left her cannabis-smoking teenager in Goa, in the care of strangers in an area known for its druggy circles.

To many of us, all this is hard to comprehend. But then Ms MacKeown's whole lifestyle has been one from which the words responsibility or judgment have been excluded. Our society has encouraged people to think they have an absolute right to live exactly as they want without anyone passing judgment upon them. You want lifestyle choice? This may be an extreme case, but what happened to 15-year-old Scarlett is the result.

Seventeen years ago, the alarm was first sounded about these problems by two sociologists, Norman Dennis and A.H. Halsey, who warned that the bonds of civilised society would eventually snap following the collapse of the traditional family. From that moment, well-heeled liberals denounced and vilified not just these academics but anyone who similarly pointed out that, in general, children in fractured families suffered harm in every area of their lives. Those who went to such lengths to suppress this truth are the very same people who are complaining today that criticism of Ms Matthews and Ms MacKeown is unfair.

They are people for whom the pursuit of adult desires is so all-consuming that they simply don't see the distress of the children or abandoned spouses or lovers who are the casualties of this free-for-all. They are people who think it is altogether indecent to criticise parents for negligence - but that it is not indecent to abandon children to the chaos, distress and literally life-threatening environment of fatherlessness.

Indeed, even though fractured family life vastly increases the risk of abuse, violence and murder, our deeply irresponsible overclass has put rocket fuel behind its exponential growth through tax and welfare incentives. After all, Ms MacKeown was able to travel with her children to Goa in the first place only because she had been able to save 7,000 pounds from her welfare benefits.

In that sense, it is indeed wrong to heap all the blame on women like her or, for that matter, the fathers of these poor children. The people who are really culpable are all those who, intoning the mantra of `alternative lifestyle choice', have defeated every attempt to shore up marriage and the traditional family. In its place, they have deliberately and wickedly created over the years a legal and welfare engine of mass fatherlessness and child abandonment, resulting in a degraded and dependent underclass and a lengthening toll of human wreckage.

To his great credit, David Cameron seems to have grasped much of this. He has consistently said he will support and promote marriage and has spoken strongly about the need for stable and secure family life, as he did once again at the Tories' spring conference over the weekend. What a shame, therefore, that he had to spoil it. His proposal to extend child-care leave will be unaffordable for many while putting businesses under even greater pressure - thus increasing the risk of throwing more parents out of work - just when chill economic winds are already blowing. Both this and his breakfast photo-op at home with his children just seem to be examples of opportunistic gesture politics. But the reform of family life is far too important to be jeopardised by stunts like this.

Years of social engineering have brought the British family to its knees. Today, thousands of children, like the murdered Scarlett Keeling and the rescued Shannon Matthews, are paying the price.


The Gospel according to Chomsky: Displacement Theology

A BOOK REVIEW of "Christian Zionism: Road-Map to Armageddon?" by Stephen R. Sizer. See the original for links. Comment from a reader: "Stephen Sizer is a venomous little man. He enjoys his secure position and lovely house in the UK, and now & then he attends congresses of the ME Council of Churches or Sabeel Ecumenical Centre, where he no doubt looks Worried & Important as he smears Israel. He's a real Dhimmi preacher. He even slanders the very salt of the earth, Christian organizations like Christian Friends of Israel and Bridges For Peace, that assist both Arabs and Jews.

The first chapter: The Historical Roots of Christian Zionism, is devoted to an in-depth study of an obscure theology called premillennial dispensationalism. This chapter then looks at early British supporters of a Jewish homeland like Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Balfour and his famous declaration as well as Christian political support for the Jewish Zionist movement. It concludes with a discussion of contemporary Christian Zionism in the USA. I must immediately recommend two books that are more informative and less biased: The Politics of Christian Zionism by Paul Charles Merkley and Standing With Israel by David Brog. It need be said that support for Israel is widespread amongst all Christians, Catholic, Protestant and others.

In the second chapter Sizer discusses the theological emphases of Christian Zionism with reference to a futurist hermeneutic, the relationship between Israel and the Church, restorationism, Jerusalem and the temple, concluding with the eschatology and "distinctive" theology of the movement. In truth, Christian Zionism is not a monolithic movement, as demonstrated by works like Christian Attitudes Towards the State of Israel by Paul Merkley, The Irrevocable Calling by Dan Juster, In Defense of Israel by John Hagee, and Don Finto's excellent book God's Promise and the Future of Israel: Compelling Questions People Ask About Israel and the Middle East. Christian support for Israel has a simple explanation: "I will bless those who bless you" of Genesis 12:3.

In the third chapter Sizer accuses Christian Zionists of supporting Israeli colonialism, opposing peace and hastening Armageddon. These ludicrous accusations derive from the facts that the Palestinian liberation theologian Naim Ateek is a close associate of the author. Sizer's fear-mongering is merely the discredited ideas of Noam Chomsky - the apologist for Pol Pot - used as propaganda in the theological sphere. Sizer is an adherent of Displacement Theology, also called supercessionism or replacement theology. He writes: " ... There is, therefore, no evidence that the apostles believed that the Jewish people still had a divine right to the land ..." This is an example of the most arrogant anti-Judaism imaginable. It is characteristic of Christian Antisemites to deny Israel's right to life and deny the validity of the Old Testament by appealing to "fulfillment in Christ," in direct denial of Acts 15 in the Good Book. It is also a manifestation of Preterism, a doctrine holding that all Old Testament prophecy has already been fulfilled. For the firm Biblical grounds of Christian support for Israel, please see Future Israel by Barry Horner.

In the Conclusion, Sizer claims that the support of Israel by American evangelicals "is inherently and pathologically destructive." In line with the Gospel of Chomsky he spews the gamut of accusations: American hegemony, racial discrimination, colonialism, apartheid and the demonization of Islam. When the mask slips, his words can be very revealing. When discussing "ethical requirements" for ownership of the land and referring to the "meek" of Psalm 37:11, he states: " ... the question may legitimately be asked whether, due to its expansionist policies, the state of Israel might not expect another exile rather than a restoration." Chilling. But I see no expansion, only withdrawal from Lebanon and from Gaza. Ronald Reagan said liberals know a lot of things that just aint so. As for Sizer's and Jimmy Carter's smear of Israel as an "apartheid state", it is a demonstrable lie. Approximately 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs and 16% of its citizens are Muslims. For the record, at the last check its Arab citizens were represented by 10 members in the Israeli parliament belonging to three political parties: Balad, Hadash and the United Arab List - Ta'al.

Sizer ignores the historical circumstances that led to the rebirth of Israel in 1948. You will find no background here of Haj al-Amin al-Husseini or how its Arab neighbors tried to strangle the Jewish state at birth. Likewise he seems oblivious to the dangers that at present face the little country: genocidal threats from Iran and Hezbollah, endless missiles from Hamas threatening the residents of Sderot and other towns plus Syrian threats of war. Then there is the antisemitic incitement in the Arab media, including those of the Palestinian Authority. How sinister of a self-styled Anglican Christian to deny the tide of Islamist violence and terrorism and the plight of Christians in Moslem countries while trying to delegitimize the only Middle Eastern state that guarantees freedom of worship to Christians and all other groups. Sizer even has the nerve to attack humanitarian organizations in Israel that assist both Arabs and Jews! How superior he is, sitting in his home in England or attending conferences of Sabeel and the Middle East Council of Churches where he no doubt looks worried and important and is considered a valuable dhimmi.

The most illuminating book Christian Antisemitism by William Nicholls reveals the theology and the history behind the destructive replacement theology that has surfaced once again in Sizer's work. In this regard it is important to note what marks the Christian anti-Semite:

a) Some form of (often covert) Replacement Theology.
b) Extreme spiritualizing or allegorizing of the Jewish scriptures, in particular the twisting of Old Testament prophecies about Israel in order to usurp every promise for "the church" or arguing that the original texts refer to Christ.
c) The blurring of the distinction between the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant regarding ownership of the land and the conditional Mosaic Covenant of laws.
d) A formless, ethereal view of mankind's ultimate destiny wherein no distinctive cultures or national identities survive since all become "one in Christ".
e) A cursory treatment or derisive view of the facts that led to the rebirth of Israel and of the subsequent wars.
f) An undertone of disdain and malice towards the Jewish people that cannot be completely concealed.


Down with `enoughism'

Two new books claim that our blinged-up, fast-car consumer society is laying people low with compulsive acquisition disorder, harried women syndrome and various other sicknesses of the mind. Don't buy it.

When so many apparently disparate debates lead to similar conclusions, it is time to investigate what is going on.

Worried about climate change? Concerned about social inequality? Anxious about not being happy enough? The orthodox prescription for all of these problems has become predictable: curb your consumption, limit your aspirations, and exercise self-restraint in your behaviour.

From this perspective, it is striking that two such supposedly different books as "Enough" and "The Selfish Capitalist" come to such startlingly samey conclusions. John Naish, a health journalist and author of "Enough", writes broadly in the tradition of self-help. His central argument is derived from evolutionary psychology (1). He contends that, as a creation of the Stone Age, the human brain finds it hard to cope with a world of abundance. To help quell this problem, he outlines a philosophy of `enoughism' to enable his readers to deal with what he sees as consumption overload.

Oliver James, in contrast, sees himself as a radical leader and a profound thinker with wonderfully original insights. Unlike Naish, he presents himself as deeply hostile to evolutionary psychology, which he sees as a highly conservative force. Instead James develops the notion of `selfish capitalism' in which the economic logic of the marketplace has led to an explosion of mental illness in the Anglo-Saxon countries. His approach appears materialist, arguably even Marxist.

Yet despite the differences in style, the two authors end up sharing much in common. Both have a deep dislike for popular consumption and a disdain for consumerism. Both argue for the exercise of self-restraint by the public. And both see humans as fundamentally weak and feeble creatures. How can two such apparently different approaches reach the same endpoint? Let's examine their arguments in more detail.

Naish concedes that his lifestyle is a bit of a clich,. The cover of his book says: `He lives in Brighton with his wife but no mobile phone.' In the text of the book, we learn that he has never owned a television, is a vegetarian, says a secular grace before eating, drives a small Peugeot hatchback, engages in regular meditation and does Tai Chi. He describes himself as a follower of `scientific pantheism' - a religion where there is no god to worship but nature. Regular spiked readers will recognise him as a mellower cousin of Ethan Greenhart (2).

Of course Naish's chosen lifestyle does not in itself disprove his case. The argument that modern humans have essentially Stone Age brains is an influential one that needs to be challenged rather than dismissed. Early in the book, he cites Robert Trivers, an evolutionary biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, arguing that human brains evolved between 130,000 and 200,000 years ago in the Pleistocene era. For Naish, the Stone Age character of our brains causes us immense problems, but they can be overcome if we follow the recipe of `enoughism'. He says his book can help, `by exposing the many snares that our own Pleistocene-era minds unintentionally lay for us, and explaining how the modern world of consumption hijacks our social brains so that we step right into these traps'.

For Naish the human species should not be called homo sapiens (`wise man' or `thinking man') but homo expetens (`wanting man'): `What characterises us most is our capacity to want, to desire, to covet, to yearn for and generally lust after.' In the world of abundance this perpetual state of desire leads us, in Naish's view, to terrible problems. These include compulsive acquisition disorder, harried women syndrome, information fatigue syndrome, and oniomania (buying addiction).

There is no space to detail all of the measures Naish advocates to help us overcome our various enough-induced syndromes, but they are based on developing what he calls an `inner ration book'. For example, he proposes that individuals go on a `data diet', where they restrict the amount of information they take in, to avoid the curse of `infobesity'. He says individuals should only eat in small restaurants, avoid high variety meals and make meal times sacred. In his view, people should avoid credit and shun gadgets.

Such measures, and the many others he advocates, make perverse sense if his original premise is accepted. Yet as Kenan Malik, a British science writer, has argued, the view that humans have essentially Stone Age brains is `specious nonsense'. Malik points out that our minds are immensely flexible. Human nature is not static but develops as we interact with and transform our environment: `We humans have not simply been transported to an alien environment. We have created that environment, through a long process of historical struggle and development. It seems bizarre to hold that the brain is "wired up" to invent modernity but not to cope with it. If the brain is flexible enough to do the one, then why not the other?'

Perhaps the most interesting chapter in Enough is the one on happiness. Naish rightly suggests that there are parallels between the drive to acquire consumer goods and the contemporary rush to achieve self-fulfilment. He points to numerous book titles to illustrate the race for individual happiness, including You Can Change Your Life, You Can be Amazing and You Can have Everything You Want. In this sense, the drive to achieve happiness is a close relative of consumerism, rather than an alternative to it.

However, Naish makes the mistake of assuming that his homespun philosophy of `enoughism' is radically different from the ideas advocated by the proponents of happiness. In fact, the idea of respecting limits - Naish's main argument - is central to the current preoccupation with achieving individual happiness. For example, Richard Layard, one of the main advocates of happiness as a goal of public policy, says: `The secret is to have goals that are stretching enough, but not too stretching.' (7) Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College and one of the main advocates of teaching happiness in British schools, is even more explicit: `Happiness I believe lies in knowing one's own limitations, accepting oneself for what one is, and being proud of what one achieves, at whatever level that might be.' (8)

So Naish's philosophy of enoughism shares with the contemporary advocates of happiness a deeply conservative premise. Humans, they argue, must learn to accept limits. For Naish, it is about developing an elaborate `inner ration book'. For those who emphasise individual happiness, it is about accepting your limits and not stretching yourself too far.

Oliver James might appear to be miles away from such thinking, from a casual reading of his work. Although his professional background is as a clinical psychologist, much of The Selfish Capitalist is concerned with the economics of Anglo-Saxon capitalism. His aim is to explain how economic factors have led to a huge expansion of mental illness in English-speaking countries. James' style is also fundamentally different from Naish's. James sees himself as a striking original thinker who is presenting a path-breaking theory about how the economic structure of society is affecting our mental state.

Sadly, however, The Selfish Capitalist does not provide any insights. James comes across like an over-eager undergraduate who is desperate to make sweeping generalisations about important social questions. But he often seems unaware that many of the points he raises have been discussed by others, often in a much more sophisticated way, before him.

In that light, it should be remembered that The Selfish Capitalist is a sequel to Affluenza. In that earlier work, James presented himself as a `heroic mind tourist' who visited seven locations, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Shanghai, Moscow, Copenhagen and New York to explore the impact of the consumer society on different people's mental wellbeing (9).

His new book is meant to provide the theoretical background to the arguments put forward in Affluenza. Yet many of his claims are not properly referenced, and when they are he depends on a relatively narrow range of sources. It would be tedious to go through them all, but one of the most striking is his reference to David Harvey, whose A Brief History of Neo-Liberalism he relies on heavily for his understanding of capitalism; James refers to Harvey as `an American political scientist'.

In fact, Harvey, though based in America, is a British geographer (11). With some authors, it would be nitpicking to point out such factual errors. But James has such a high opinion of himself as a great theoretician that it is hard to resist. In any case, this mistake is not uncharacteristic. His work is riddled with inaccuracies, caricatures and half-truths.

James makes two `new assertions' which are central to his work. He argues that `Selfish Capitalism led to a massive increase in the wealth of the wealthy, with no rise in average wages', and `there has been a substantial increase in emotional distress since the 1970s'. He goes on to argue that: `These assertions are not in themselves political, they are either true or false.' (12) He then makes a secondary point: that `the peddling and acceptance of. geneticism and evolutionary psychology have been important factors in making the general population susceptible to the idea that Selfish Capitalism will be good for them.' (13)

Contrary to James' first two points, his assertions are not simple yes or no questions. Working out whether average wages have remained static since the 1970s is more difficult than it might appear to the layman. In any case, wages are only one dimension in the measurement of living standards. Nor is it clear that emotional distress has risen in the way James suggests. Some statistics appear to substantiate his claim, but there are good reasons to open the argument to question.

In relation to real wages, these are harder to establish than might be assumed. For example, in Britain there is no single series of statistics on wages that runs from the 1970s to today. The selection of the appropriate inflation measure to use - necessary if real wages are to be calculated - is also open to debate. James seems to rely heavily on the work of Avner Offer, an Anglo-Israeli economic historian based at Oxford University, from whom he mainly gleans American data (14).

But it is arguable that American society is exceptional in this respect. For James to justify such sweeping claims about all Anglo-American societies, he would need to do a much more extensive study of the data; of course, he hasn't done that. Moreover, there is more to living standards than what we earn. Even if income inequality has widened over the years, it is still the case that living standards have risen.

In other words, there can be a relative increase in inequality at the same time as an absolute improvement in living standards. This is clear in the area of consumption. In many respects, the mass of society has access to a far wider range of consumer goods than the rich did back in the 1970s. For example, in Britain the percentage of households with central heating rose from 37 per cent in 1972 to 95 per cent cent in 2006. Back in 1972, only 42 per cent of households had a telephone at all; by 2006 some 80 per cent of households had a mobile phone (15).

Of course for the likes of James and Naish, the mass ownership of such consumer goods is distasteful - but for ordinary people it represents a substantial improvement in their quality of life.

The other main reason it is wrong simply to focus on real wages is that it obscures one of the main social changes in recent decades: the achievement by women of a more equal position in the workplace. In the 1970s, it was much more common for women with children not to have a job or, if they were employed, to be in an unequal position relative to men. Today, women more often have a job, and when they do they are more likely to have equal status with men.

One consequence of this change is that household incomes have generally risen much faster than individual incomes. Forty years ago, many households would depend on the income of one man as the `breadwinner'. Today, many households have two incomes, from the man and the woman - so even if real wages have remained static, the fact that a greater number of households have two sets of wages means that they are, overall, better off.

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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Saturday, March 22, 2008

System unfair to black fathers

Leonard Pitts Jr.'s recent column "Children bear the burden when fathers walk out" excoriates "selfish" African American fathers who "abandon their children [and] harden themselves against their cries of need." Pitts cites Larry Patterson, Jr., a 19-year-old black father who, after police tried to pull him over, allegedly sped away, smashed his car, and escaped, leaving his infant daughter in the backseat. Patterson is "unique only in degree," Pitts writes-for black men today, it's "Every man for himself."

Pitts' generalization is unfair. He is correct that some African-American fathers have behaved irresponsibly. However, he fails to see that many black fathers have been driven away by shortsighted, angry mothers and a family law system which does little to protect fathers' loving bonds with their children. When citing the reasons for father absence, Pitts mentions "divorce" only in passing. Yet divorce and the breakups of unmarried couples are major causes of African-American fatherlessness.

Despite the stereotype of the feckless and irresponsible male, research shows that the vast majority of divorces are initiated by women, not by men. Even for unmarried couples, it's doubtful that many dads wake up in the morning and say to themselves, "My child loves me and needs me, my girlfriend loves me and needs me-I'm outta here." Yes, some mothers have good reasons for these breakups. Yet, as Jonetta Rose Barras, the African-American author of Whatever Happened to Daddy's Little Girl, explains, many black fathers are simply being "kicked to the curb."

When a divorced or separated mother does not want her children's father around anymore, she can usually push him out, particularly if the father does not earn enough money to pay for legal representation. Courts tilt heavily towards mothers in awarding custody, and enforce fathers' visitation rights indifferently. In most states, mothers are free to move their children hundreds or thousands of miles away from their fathers, often permanently destroying the fathers' bonds with their children.

The system which allows women to easily obtain domestic violence restraining/protection orders was set up to help battered women. However, many mothers instead employ them to get rid of inconvenient husbands or boyfriends. The Family Law Executive Committee of the California State Bar and family law professionals in various states have recently noted that these orders are often issued with little or no evidence or due process. Once in force, a father can be arrested and jailed for violating the order if he visits or even calls his kids. The orders begin as temporary, but are sometimes extended for years at a time.

With divorce or separation comes child support. The Urban League's 2006 report on the state of black America concluded that the child support system and its abuses often drive African-American men out of their children's lives, and either underground or into crime. Half of uneducated African American men ages 25-34 are non-custodial fathers. Many of them are still a part of their children's lives. Yet the child support they struggle to pay usually does not go to their children, but instead goes to the state to reimburse the cost of public assistance, including welfare, for the mother and children. Some fathers even live with their children and their children's mothers, yet their wages are still garnisheed to pay child support to the state, greatly contributing to the breakdown of these fragile families. Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently acknowledged this problem in her Youth Opportunity Agenda.

The benefits that involved black fathers-even divorced or separated ones-can provide their children are substantial. For example, a recent study of low-income African-American and Hispanic families by Boston College found that when nonresident fathers are involved in their adolescent children's lives, the incidence of substance abuse, violence, crime, and truancy decreases markedly. The study's lead author, professor Rebekah Levine Coley, says the study found involved nonresident fathers to be "an important protective factor for adolescents."

There are many reasons why some black fathers aren't there for their kids. Sadly, there's nothing we can do to make the Larry Pattersons of the world into good fathers. But there's a lot we can do to help keep many decent, loving African-American dads in their children's lives.


Death Threats and Thousands of Hate Emails from Homosexual Activists Hit Oklahoma Politician

Oklahoma House Representative Sally Kern has received thousands of emails in light of a recorded speech posted on YouTube.com in which she called homosexual practices more dangerous to the United States than terrorism. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is examining the 17 thousand emails Kerns has received for legally threatening content.

"It [the homosexual lifestyle] has deadly consequences for those people involved in it.... [they] have more suicides. there's more illness, their life spans are shorter. studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades," said Kern in her speech. "This stuff-it's deadly and it's spreading, and it will destroy our young people. It will destroy this nation. Not everybody's lifestyle is equal, just like not all religions are equal," added Kern.

Kern's speech was accessed more than 500 thousand times the week after the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund posted it on YouTube.com. "While this speech is remarkable in its statements, it is not unique. For every bit of hateful rhetoric we hear, scores of other anti-gay statements go unchallenged," stated the Victory Fund of Kern's speech. "Her comments are so inappropriate and beyond the pale that she's demonstrated that she's not fit for service in public office," said Patrick Sammon, president of the gay and lesbian advocacy group Log Cabin Republicans. Openly gay House Representative Al McAffrey has called for a public apology from Kern.

Kern rejected accusations that her comments were hate speech. "I am totally against hate speech. The account given on YouTube took my words out of context and omitted other parts stringing certain words together to make it appear I was engaging in hate speech. I was not and would never do such a thing," wrote Kern in an email to PamsHouseBlend.com, a gay and lesbian political advocacy blog. "The homosexual agenda is real, the movement is aggressive, and it is a very real threat to the sacred institution of marriage and the traditional family unit. They are actively seeking to remove conservatives from the political arena. My talk was to a Republican group and I was speaking about the homosexual agenda to defeat conservative Republicans," Kern told PamsHouseBlend. "They want to silence anyone who does not approve their lifestyle. They want their freedom but don't want those who disagree to have their freedom," continued Kern.

"I have said and will continue to say that they have every right to choose that lifestyle and I will defend their right to do so. But I do not have to agree with it and speaking against it is not hate speech," added Kern. "There are indisputable facts that show it's a deadly lifestyle.... What is wrong with me as an American exercising my free speech rights on a topic that is a very big issue today?" Kern told New9.com.


Religious Believers Happier than Atheists and Agnostics: Study

Another study has found that sincere and active religious belief makes people happy, the Daily Mail reports. Statistical analysis has shown repeatedly that church attendance, family life and stable marriages are the building blocks of a happy life.

Prof. Andrew Clark of the Paris School of Economics, and Dr. Orsolya Lelkes of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research presented their research at the conference of the Royal Economic Society in Coventry. They said that religious believers are happier overall than atheists or agnostics. More than this, regular church attendance and an active prayer life make people even happier than passive belief alone.

Data gleaned from thousands of Europeans and British people say that religion can help people cope with life's disappointments and difficulties including the most stressful, such as the death of loved ones, divorce and unemployment. Religious believers have higher levels of satisfaction and suffer less psychological damage from life's troubles.

Meanwhile, church attendance in Britain and elsewhere continues its decades-long decline. Recent figures show a 500,000 fall in typical Sunday attendance in Britain since the last comparable research in 1998. Although these numbers can be seen most clearly in attendance at the Church of England and despite what is being called the "anomalous" and probably temporary rise in attendance at Catholic churches caused by an influx of eastern European immigrants to the UK, Catholic church attendance has also plummeted since the high point of the early 1960's.

But the numbers of people who believe is falling even faster than attendance at weekly church services. People who identified themselves as members of the official state religion have dropped by 40 per cent since 1983. A 2005 study said that only 50 per cent of children are likely to retain the religious faith of their upbringing. The report suggested that the decline in religious belief through the generations is already too far gone for any reversal.

The author one study, Dr. David Voas, said the loss of faith in Britain "is not temporary or accidental, it is a generational phenomenon - the decline has continued year on year. The fact that children are only half as likely to believe as their parents indicates that, as a society, we are at an advanced stage of secularisation." In 2000, a survey found that half of all adults in the UK say they have no religious affiliation, a 13 percent increase from 1983.


Australia's Rudd government idiotic: Rudd thinks Aborigines are just unlucky (or something)

They're DIFFERENT, not the same. All men are equal only in the sight of God (if God is that blind. He certainly is said to treat sinners and the virtuous differently). Rudd must know that NOTHING will bring Aborigines up to white health standards because nothing will make Aborigines behave like whites. Everything that could be tried has been tried. The Aborigines were healthier BEFORE the government started intervening in fact.

But even under the missionary supervision of yesteryear Aborigines had lots of health problems due to poor levels of hygeine etc. If people insist on living unheathy and risky lifestyles it is their right but they ARE going to die younger because of it.

There must be something about being a Labor Prime minister that brings on delusions of omnipotence. A lot of us still remember Bob Hawke's declaration that "By the year 2000, no Australian child will be living in poverty". Nothing remotely like that change happened, of course. Same will go for this load of baloney

OK: I know Rudd's not an idiot. He's just cynically buying applause from gullible people

Programs to tackle smoking and to train more indigenous health workers are the first down payments on reaching the Federal Government's target of ending the health and life expectancy gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous people. At the Close The Gap summit in Parliament House in Canberra yesterday, the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, signed a statement of intent with health and indigenous groups, promising to bring equality to health standards by 2030. Mr Rudd has pledged to end the 17-year life-expectancy gap within the next generation and halve the infant mortality gap within the decade. [How??]

The Olympians Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe attended the event. Freeman urged the Government to "stay focused" on its commitment. Mr Rudd announced $14.5 million in funding to tackle the high rates of smoking in indigenous communities [Are you going to forbid it?] which contribute to chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Another $19 million was announced to encourage more indigenous people to become health workers.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma, hailed the statement of intent as a "monumental development". "Benchmarks and targets for achieving these fundamental human rights for indigenous Australians are not only possible, but are now firm commitments. Let us hope that an indigenous baby born in 2030 has the same life expectation, the same access to quality health services and the same life outcomes as non-indigenous Australians," Mr Calma said.

But the Opposition said the Government had breached its claimed bipartisan approach to indigenous issues by leaving it until the last minute to consult it about the pledge to close the gap. The Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, was invited to speak at yesterday's event, but Mr Rudd left the function as he started to speak. A spokesman for Dr Nelson said that if the Opposition had been consulted it would have suggested the pledge to achieve health equity should have referred to the importance of addressing alcohol abuse, school attendance, policing, home ownership and employment outcomes. "We want to see this initiative work yet some people would question whether this was truly reflecting the spirit of bipartisanship," the spokesman said.



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

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

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


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Friday, March 21, 2008

Human rights commissions seem to believe that Canadians have some surprising rights


What does Maclean's have in common with a labiaplasty and blood-drinking space lizards from the star system Alpha Draconis? Well, they're all part of the wacky world of Canadian "human rights."

First things first: what is a labiaplasty? Well, it's a cosmetic procedure performed on the female genitalia for those who are dissatisfied with them. I think I speak for many sad male losers living on ever more distant memories when I say that I find it hard to imagine being dissatisfied with female genita . . .

What's that? Oh, it's the women who are dissatisfied are they? Ah, right. Well, there's the rub. The Ontario Human Rights Commission is currently weighing whether or not to become the (at last count) third "human rights" commission in Canada to prosecute Maclean's for the crime of running an excerpt from my book.

The Globe And Mail's Margaret Wente was interested to know what Canada's vast "human rights" machinery does when it isn't sticking it to privately owned magazines, so she swung by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to check out the action. And it seems the reason they haven't yet dragged Maclean's into court is because they're tied up hearing the case of two women who claim they were denied their human right to a labiaplasty by a Toronto plastic surgeon who specializes in that particular area.

The women proved to be post-operative transsexuals who were unhappy with some of the aesthetic results of their transformation, and Dr. Stubbs declined to perform the procedure on the grounds that he usually operates on biological females and is generally up to speed on what goes where and, when it comes to transsexuals, he had no idea what he was, so to speak, getting into.

Had he done it and it had all gone horribly wrong, the plaintiffs would have sued his pants off. So, as a private practitioner, he chose to decline the business, and as a result now finds himself in Human Rights Commission hell.

As Ms. Wente pointed out, you can see what got the "human rights" commissars' juices going: here was an opportunity to lay down a lot of landmark "jurisprudence" on the issue of "transsexuals' access to medical care," and if, in the end, it destroys Dr. Stubbs and his business, hey, that's a price worth paying: the human right to a labiaplasty is too important to a free society. So the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal is solemnly deliberating on whether the party of the first part is obliged to take apart the party of the second part's parts. Dr. Stubbs is a big-shot plastic surgeon, so, like Maclean's, he can probably withstand a few years of "human rights" heat. The system is risk-free for the plaintiff: the Crown picks up the tab for the "complainant," while the "respondent" - i.e. defendant - has to pay his own legal bills no matter what the eventual verdict is.

Ted Kindos of Burlington, Ont., has already spent $20,000 of his own dough defending himself against a "human rights" complaint and estimates he'll add another six figures to that before it's all done. Mr. Kindos owns a modest restaurant, Gator Ted's Tap and Grill. So what outrageous "human right" did he breach? Well, he asked a guy smoking "medical marijuana" in the doorway of his restaurant if he wouldn't mind not doing it. Mr. Kindos felt that his customers - including young children - shouldn't have to pass through a haze of pot smoke to enter his establishment. But apparently in Canada there's a human right to light up a spliff in some other fellow's doorway. The other man's grass is always greener, and in this case the plaintiff's grass will cost Mr. Kindos an awful lot of green. He faces financial ruin, while there's no cost to the complainant.

The "human rights" racket is a disgrace. Canadians are not notably "hateful" people. To be sure, deep in the human heart lurk dark prejudices that may occasionally be furtively expressed to like-minded persons over a drink or two. But discrimination in housing and employment on the grounds of gender and race - the original justification for creating the "human rights" pseudo-courts - is all but extinct, so a self-perpetuating nomenklatura has moved on to invent new rights - like the human right to a labiaplasty or a joint on someone else's property.

You'll recall the Osgoode Hall law students who objected to my book excerpt in Maclean's demanded a five-page cover story in response, unedited, with the students determining the artwork and the cover art, along with a financial contribution to their "cause." As any self-respecting publisher would, Kenneth Whyte told them he would rather go bankrupt - much as Mr. Kindos seems likely to. The Osgoode students have since explained that they went to the "human rights" enforcers because they were only trying to "start a debate," and mean old Maclean's was preventing their voices from being heard. They have repeated this mournful plea in lengthy editorials they've written for, at last count, the Globe And Mail, the National Post, the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, the Ottawa Citizen, the Calgary Herald, the Montreal Gazette, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the London Free Press, and no doubt a few other publications.

That's the reality of Canada's "Islamophobic" media: they've been given acres of op-ed real estate to yell that their voices are being silenced and all they want to do is start a debate - even though, in none of their many columns, do they actually start it.

Incidentally, although they characterize themselves as the "complainants" in these suits, they're not. In the two "human rights" complaints against Maclean's that are going forward, the complainants in British Columbia are Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, and Naiyer Habib, and, in the federal case, Dr. Elmasry alone. Mohamed Elmasry is the man who announced on Canadian TV that he approved of the murder of any and all Israeli civilians over the age of 18.

One can understand why such an unlikely poster boy for the cause of "anti-hate" campaigns would prefer to hide behind his fresh-faced Osgoode sock puppets. But the fact that every major newspaper in Canada has opened its pages to turgid recitations of imagined victimhood by three students who have no standing in these cases tells you everything about how "excluded" and "marginalized" they are. That's the "racist" Canadian media of 2008: all you have to do is claim to represent some community with a grievance and, even though there's no evidence you represent anything other than your own peculiar obsessions and you have nothing substantive to say, nine out of 10 editors will open their pages to you - no matter what your interminable victimological prose does to their circulation.

More here

Sarcastic review of "The Dispensational Conspiracy"

In "The Dispensational Conspiracy", a Church of England clergyman attacks Christians who accept what the Bible says about Israel being beloved of God. The theology and Biblical knowledge is so weak that it merits only the sort of review that we read below:

In this rollicking roller coaster of a rapturous read Sizer reveals and dissects the ancient conspiracy that menaces the whole world. By employing the text-analytical technique of legendary linguist and orthodox rabbi Noam Chomsky, he forces the Old Testament to give up the goods and it is quite unlike the stuff we've been brainwashed with!

Basically there is an ancient cult that has always aspired to world domination. It is called Dispensationalism from its stated aims to "dispense" with the world's rich variety of cultures. Sizer convincingly demonstrates the modus operandi of the cult in the past and how dangerously close it has come to achieving its goals in our day.

His exegesis of the books of Ruth, Kings & Chronicles makes for chilling reading. How liberating it is to learn that King David was tall and muscular, whilst poor Goliath was a nerdish weakling. Under David, Israelite imperialism and colonialism had reached its apogee. The oppressed Philistines rose up in a desperate attempt at national survival.

Meanwhile, the ruthless businesswoman known as Ruth the Moabitess was head of a weapons research, design and manufacturing facility called Armageddon. The word is a corruption of an ancient Semitic acronym for Effective Weapons of Mass Destruction. She gave David the short range missile with which he murdered poor Goliath. Her spiritual spawn is active today, arming Israel against the helpless Arabs and Iranians.

Sizer's scholarship is impressive as he carefully puts together the pieces of the puzzle from a wide array of eye-opening sources like Future Israel by Barry Horner and The Irrevocable Calling by Dan Juster. Other brave scholars that are exposing the peril we face include Colin Chapman, Gary Burge and O Palmer Robertson, all pious men of orthodoxy.

According to Sizer, the only way of stopping the forces of darkness and saving the world is through Sooper Dooper Cessionism, also known as Fulfillment Theology. The true hero is His Holiness Father Naim Ateek, the self-negating evangelist who at great personal risk travels the land of the infidel, preaching the gospel in places like Sudan and Saudi Arabia.

It is time for people to wake up! The invincible Israeli Wehrmacht is poised for a blitzkrieg that will stop only at the shores of the Atlantic and Pacific. All the gentile cultures and religions of peace of the Eurasian landmass face extinction! Imagine the mortal blow that will deliver to multiculturalism and how poor the future will be without the great and noble elites of the Old World.

Folks, Jimmy Carter has tried to warn you and you ignored him, Wart & Smearsheimer have raised the alarm, and you closed your ears. Verily you are a stiff-necked people. Will you heed the urgent warning of Sizer? I shall not abandon hope, especially since the book's blend of profound spirituality and nail-biting tension guarantees a Da Vinci Code popularity.

Heed ye the words of Lord Omar from The Epistle to the Paranoids in the Principia Discordia, lest ye be caught unawares:

"3. All Chaos was once yer kingdom; verily, held ye dominion over the entire Pentaverse, but today ye was sore afraid in dark corners, nooks, and sink holes.

4. O how the darknesses do crowd up, one against the other, in ye hearts! What fear ye more that what ye have wroughten?"

(From the Codex Moabiticus manuscript).


The Five Dumbest Product Bans

Even as the array of consumer products available to the average American expands each day, a bewildering variety of government regulations serve to limit consumer choice. From the aircraft on which Americans fly to the food they buy in the grocery store, government regulation limits product choice at every turn.

There are different types of product bans. Some limits on product choice-bans on child pornography and personal possession of atomic weapons-have widespread popular support and appear wise by any standard. A great many more product bans are likely to remain subject to ongoing debate. For example, there are strong arguments for allowing the sale of meat that has not been government inspected and drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Even if the costs of these regulations exceeds their benefits-and they well may-many still bring some benefits to society. But there is another type of ban-the kind that limits consumer choice but have no social benefit.

This paper focuses on five clearly absurd product bans that seem to serve no social good. While the selection obviously involves some degree of subjective judgment-no means exist to review every product ban in existence-the bans selected meet four criteria:

* No one can present a strong case for marginal social harm from the product or service banned. This does not necessarily mean that the product is harmless by all accounts, simply that the act of banning it without banning a much broader category of products has no social utility. For example, banning all alcohol would have some positive social effects-outweighed by the negative ones. Banning sangria simply restricts the availability of a type of beverage without doing anything to restrict the sale of alcohol or the negative consequences of drunk driving and alcoholism.

* The product should have utility to the general public. In other words, it should be something that almost anybody might have a theoretical interest in using. Some pig farmers complain of limitations placed on the drugs they can use on livestock, but these limitations have little relevance for those who do not raise pigs, so would not qualify.

* A government must have actually enforced the ban within the recent past. Many amusingly archaic laws remain on the books that are not enforced and are today a source of public amusement. Arizona, for example, bans the sale of imitation illegal drugs but no record exists of an attempt to enforce this law.

* The ban should, at least, exist at the state level. This paper does not deal with local laws, which allow for easier exit from their reach.

By necessities of space and brevity, many delightfully absurd product bans remain unexplored here. The five bans selected are:

Sangria (Virginia) . The Commonwealth of Virginia bans most preparations of the popular fortified wine drink (typically red wine with brandy and fruit) even though the state not only allows drinking of substances with the same alcoholic composition as Sangria and actually operates stores that sell all of the alcoholic ingredients needed to make Sangria.

Playing Online Poker in a Legal Casino (U. S.). Although 48 states have legal gambling in some form (and several run casinos), the federal government has made it illegal to place bets online-even in jurisdictions that allow almost all other types of gambling.

The Cardio-Pump (U. S.). No one has ever contended that anybody could do harm using this American-designed device intended to help resuscitate heart attack victims, which may actually help save lives. Although it has found wide use in other countries, the Food and Drug Administration bans its use in the United States.

Wildflower Bouquets (Louisiana). Louisiana's unique-in-the nation florist licensing statute makes it illegal for anybody to arrange two or more types of flowers without passing a largely subjective state licensing exam. In theory, a child could face a fine for picking a bouquet of flowers and selling it at a roadside stand.

Feathers in provocative packaging (Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia). Ridiculously broad laws banning sexual toys in these states could serve to ban the sale of simple feathers if packaged with suggestions that they might be used for sexual purposes.



Australia: Far-Left journalists trying to cover up abuses in black communities

Award-winning journalist Paul Toohey has handed back his prestigious Walkley Award to protest against a push by the journalists' union to make media representatives outline their intentions to authorities before being granted access to Aboriginal communities. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, led by federal secretary Christopher Warren, last week released an additional "code of conduct" for journalists entering and reporting on Aboriginal communities. It calls for reporters to contact "police and council at the first opportunity and inform them what they intend doing in the community".

Toohey, who was named Australian Journalist of the Year in 2000 for his reporting from northern Australia and won a Walkley Award in 2002 for a magazine article on petrol sniffing in Aboriginal communities, said yesterday that the MEAA "was now actively working against media freedom in favour of what it mistakenly believes are the interests of Aborigines". "It shows, surprisingly, a profound ignorance of how journalists work. And of how Aboriginal communities work," said Toohey, The Australian's chief Darwin correspondent. "Would the MEAA suggest to correspondents in China that they should first consult authorities before seeking out Tibetan dissidents? What if the journalist wants to do a story about the local police, or corruption in the local council? Since when does the independent media announce its intentions to the state?"

Central Australian Aboriginal Labor politician Alison Anderson yesterday described the MEAA's proposed "code of conduct" as a sham. Ms Anderson, who favours the removal of the permit system for Aboriginal communities because she believes it works towards shielding predators and exposes women and children to abuse, said the code was "absurd". "Communities have to be opened up like every other town. And we have to be treated like equals. Journalists don't ask police in country Victoria for permission to speak to someone in that town," Ms Anderson said.

The MEAA, which runs the Walkley Awards, developed this revised code of conduct for journalists following the Rudd Government's decision to wind back the previous government's changes to the Northern Territory Land Rights Act, which would have seen Northern Territory communities open to all comers.

The Rudd Government has reinstated the permit system so communities will remain closed. The only exception to the new rule is that government workers and journalists would not need permits.

"The Government thinks the media should be grateful for this, but anyone who takes a broader view must have genuine concerns that communities will remain secretive, steel-trap worlds," Toohey said. "Instead of taking the sensible course and replying that it would suffice for journalists to adhere to its existing 12-point code of ethics - which outlines how journalists should act with honesty, fairness, independence and show respect for the rights of others - the MEAA's response was to come up with new ways to restrict journalists going about their business."

But Mr Warren said the proposed code was meant to be "situational, and attempts to take into account the particular cultural sensitivities presented when operating on Aboriginal land". In a letter to The Australian, Mr Warren writes: "In our experience - and that of our colleagues on the ground in the Northern Territory - to consult with local authorities before entering indigenous communities is an expedient which can usually help, rather than hinder, the reporter in the performance of his or her duties."

The permit system has caused difficulties for Toohey in the past. In October 2002, he travelled to Wadeye, about 400km south of Darwin, after a young Aboriginal man had been shot dead by a policeman. Toohey was the first journalist to report on the killing and the gangs of Wadeye, and went to the community after becoming aware of a planned heavy police presence on the day of the victim's funeral.

Toohey applied for a permit to enter the community. He was unable to secure one but made the long journey anyway. Police at the community arrested and detained Toohey and fingerprinted him, and he was charged and prosecuted for infringing the laws governing access to Aboriginal land. In the Darwin courts, magistrate David Loadman found Toohey guilty but did not convict or fine him. The DPP appealed, and a conviction was recorded. Ultimately, the Territory's Court of Criminal Appeal reinstated the magistrate's ruling.

Ms Anderson opposed any restrictions on journalists' access to communities. "There has to be no scrutiny on journalists. They have to be able to drive in, do their job and get out. This is just another hindering factor which is closing the communities up to abuse and lack of transparency," she said. Toohey said last night he had sent his 2002 Walkley Award to Mr Warren's office in Sydney in protest at the MEAA's proposal.



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, March 20, 2008

Blacks are now America's chief racists

We're told, over and over, that Christian Fundamentalism is the single greatest threat to the American way of life; that it is, among many other evils, a breeding ground for race hate. We are reminded of the virtual descendants of Simon Legree among the Baptist Republicans of the Caucasian persuasion. We are harangued without end about their ceaseless lust for power. Baptist Democrats, it would seem, possess a "Get Out of Racism Free" card. Not because of their religious belief, but because of their party affiliation. It is a strange religion where sanctity is determined by politics and not by faith, but that seems to be the case.

This afternoon on the lawn my gardener asked me if I have given myself up to God yet. He is a devout believer, a Christian Fundamentalist with a paperback bible in his back pocket. It's new this year because he gave his well-worn one last September. He is concerned for my soul. And he has reason to be. I confessed I had not but was still searching, as indeed I am.

Born and baptized an Episcopalian, I am a member of no church. I feel this as a nagging lack in my soul and my weak response is to, well, "look around." As the old song goes, I'm always "window shopping, but never stopping to buy."

I've been church shopping on and off for several years. During that time I've attended more than three dozen churches whose congregations could be considered Fundamentalist. I've been in these churches from Seattle to Key West, from California to the Carolinas. I've sat with congregations of well-to-do middle-class folks and congregations of poorer folks. A lot of this has involved just dropping in at random when, as they say,the spirit moves me. This is not hard to do in the Carolinas where I once counted more than 22 churches within four miles of where I was located in the countryside. But the density in the cities is comparable.

From my direct observation, these Christian Fundamentalist churches have all -- every single one -- had congregations composed of all the races. From my auditing of the sermons I have never, not once, heard a message of race hate preached. Neither have I heard race hate promoted in the social meetings after. Not one single time, not even in the whitest of congregations. I have never, not for one instant, felt anything coming from these meetings that is anything other than embracing tolerance and Christian love for mankind. I have never, not for one instant, detected a whiff of bigotry or of anti-Semitism in these gatherings. Being a reformed radical from Berkeley in the 1960s I have keen radar for this sort of thing. Like many of my unreformed cohort I can detect it even when it doesn't exist.

Now I will admit that there may well be some churches that are, somewhere, all-white and that specialize in race-hatred, but they have to be pretty well hidden. Hidden not only from the world at large but from people like me.

I say "people like me" because, as you would know in a moment if you met me, I'm the whitest kind of fellow around. Pure WASP with a long American lineage. If I wanted to stumble onto institutionalized white racism in American churches, it wouldn't be too hard for me to find it and gain admittance.

This is not to say that white racism does not exist in America. It does. There are, as we know, a lot of white folks around that do not take kindly to people of other races and differing lineage. But that doesn't mean you find it in the churches. Indeed, it is harder and harder to find anywhere with every passing year. Whatever you may feel about racism in America in 2008, it is clear that the trend is not up.

What has also become clear to me -- what has been a revelation to me -- in the last week is that you do find racism embedded in some Christian Fundamentalist churches; churches whose congregation is almost strictly African-American. Indeed, scanning the tapes of the Reverend Wright Church that Barack Obama has attended it was difficult for me to find one white member of the congregation. I have, it is true, seen a tape where a white female pastor of another church was brought in to gush over the church, but that seemed to me to be a special occasion; something performed for the cameras.

While I can imagine many parishioners of many of the fundamentalist churches I've attended over the last few years sitting through a lot of sermons on this or that, I cannot imagine a white person sitting through the kind of sermons I've heard coming out of Reverend Wright's mouth -- unless they were overwhelmed with guilt and had a twisted sort of Christ-complex.

Indeed, it would seem that if a person of faith wanted to mix some naked racism into their weekly diet of scripture and Christ's teachings in America, he or she would not seek out some Billy Grahamesque church lodged far back in Redneck County,USA, but would instead want to sit in a pew in a church formed almost exclusively of African-Americans. That seems to me, according to the evidence of my senses, to be where racist sentiments are currently being preached with fire and conviction. And where they receive a hearty AMEN.

I am sensible, as I write the above, that such beliefs and behaviors are not true of the majority of African-American Fundamentalist Churches. And I pray that that is true. At the same time, I am not at all convinced that Reverend Wright's church is a single anomaly, a one-off. There are, I am certain, others. But since, given the nature of such churches, their doors are closed to me, I cannot get a real sense of how big a fraction of the churches they represent. I can only hope they are not many.

There's been a lot of analysis about why these churches seem to thrive -- Reverend Wright's is given as the largest of its kind in Chicago -- but in a way the explanations are all shallow; are all excuses for behavior and habits of mind that should have been expunged from sermons decades past. Yet they abide and their slow poison works its way into the souls of the faithful and leeches out into the body politic.

It seems to me more than a little ironic that as a new great awakening has swept across the land in the last twenty years, a great sleep has fallen over this realm. Listening to Reverend Wright preach and to the call and response from his congregation it seemed to me like looking in on some long vanished rituals devoid of real thought and faith; living only via the expected call and the given response, almost robotic, and having little -- very little -- to do with the message of salvation, brotherhood, and forgiveness.

It was like watching people letting themselves be hypnotized for the greater glory not of Christ but of men. It was like watching a generation willing to continue their enslavement to a self-imposed definition of inferiority rather than rise up in the liberation of truth faith and equality. I saw not a hunger for the glory of God, but a thirsting after the glory of a race to the detriment of all others. How weak, I thought, and how shameful. A Christ triumphant would drive these race hustlers from His temple.

I thought, watching these sermons, these crazed rants spouted in the name of God, "Don't they know.... Can't they see... They're not worshipping God or Christ, they are worshipping men.... racist men.... the very thing their forefathers suffered under and fought to get free of... and now they're back in the same place."


Now chocolate is incorrect

It is almost unthinkable to have Easter without Easter eggs. This year we will spend more than $200 million on them. And as a father of (now grown-up) children, I have witnessed over many years the joy they bring.

Yet there are hundreds of thousands of other children who are profoundly effected by Easter eggs and not for the better. They are the children who work in the cocoa plantations of West Africa - they toil to produce cocoa that goes into the 924,000 tonnes of chocolate Australians eat each year. It is estimated that in the West African nation of the Ivory Coast alone more than 600,000 children work on cocoa fields.

Research in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together make up 60 per cent of the world's cocoa, reveal up to 80 per cent of children in the cocoa fields are being exposed to dangerous practices such as unprotected use of chemicals, carrying heavy loads, brush burning and using machetes. About half of these children do not go to school. There is also evidence of children being trafficked. The study estimated up to 12,000 children had been trafficked for cocoa in West Africa.

I have just returned from West Africa where I have seen the problem. I have seen the mug shots of the traffickers; spoken to children, cocoa farmers, authorities and local organisations desperately trying to help trafficked and exploited children. It was an experience that saddened me but also made me determined to do all I can to change the plight of these children.

It is difficult to estimate the scope of trafficking of children for cocoa in the Ivory Coast but what evidence police have uncovered reveals it is a sophisticated network involving fake identity papers and established smuggling routes. The trafficked child will often live with the cocoa farmer's family but as a second-class citizen. That child won't go to school, won't get paid and will do the dirtiest and most dangerous work on the cocoa field.

World Vision Australia has launched the Don't Trade Lives campaign, designed to focus public attention on the modern-day trafficking and enslavement of people across the world. More than 200 years after British parliamentarian William Wilberforce successfully campaigned for the abolition of state-sanctioned slavery - slavery still exists. It is estimated that trafficking enslaves 27 million people worldwide today. In September 2001, members of the chocolate industry signed a voluntary protocol - the Harken Engel Protocol - to establish credible standards of public certification that ensured cocoa production was free of the worst forms of child labour practices in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

This process was to be completed by July 2005. The industry failed to meet this deadline and it has now extended to July 2008. It is also critical that manufacturers outline a plan of action by Christmas to ensure the chocolate we eat is free of human exploitation.

We don't want people to stop eating chocolate or to boycott some brands; this will only further hurt the children we are trying to help. [A rare burst of realism!] But consumers must send a message to chocolate makers that they are watching. To help people make the right choice, World Vision had made available a "Good Chocolate Guide". People can also find out more about this problem and what action they can take at www.donttradelives.com.au.


Left slays its apostates

A comment from Australia on the Mamet conversion

Why the shock when a smart guy decides to think about issues and changes his politics? It is not just in Islam where apostasy is a capital offence. Judging from the reaction to David Mamet's self-proclaimed conversion from liberal to conservative politics, apostasy is also a mortal sin in the arts world. Declaring that he is no longer a "brain-dead liberal", the famed American playwright performed the ultimate act of treason. After turning his back on a lifetime of progressive beliefs, Mamet was flayed for staining his artistic credentials. Just one question: why does an artist - whether a playwright, a painter or a writer - have to subscribe to left-wing views to make good art?

First to the conversion. Writing in The Village Voice last week, Mamet looked to John Maynard Keynes who, when chastised for changing his mind, famously replied: "When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?"

Mamet changed his opinion after he did some reading for his latest Broadway play. In November, he pits a corrupt, selfish, money-grabbing, realistic president against his left-wing, lesbian, utopian-socialist speechwriter. "I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson and Shelby Steele and a host of other conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than the idealistic vision I called liberalism."

It was quite a change for Mamet. He admits that, for years, he was such a "brain-dead liberal" that he listened to NPR - National Public Radio, which he dubbed National Palestinian Radio - with "wonder and rage contending for pride of place". A child of the 1960s who accepted the progressive orthodoxy that everything was wrong with the world, Mamet realised that "these cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them to my life."

His epiphany came from honestly reviewing his life. "A brief review revealed everything was not always wrong," he wrote. In a series of acts that would shock the arts world, Mamet began to question his hatred of corporations, recognising his hunger for their goods and services, and dumped his "bad, bad military" views, instead realising these were men and women who risked their lives to protect the rest of us. He found he was hard-pressed to find too many examples where government intervention "led to much beyond sorrow". And, drawing once again on his experience, he realised that the Marxist view that classes in the US were static, not mobile, was simply wrong.

Like a red rag to a bull, the Left attacked. "What worries me," Michael Billington wrote in The Guardian, "is the effect on his talent of locking himself into a rigid ideological position." The New Statesman lamented Mamet's embrace of "a more Hobbesian strain of conservatism". Back at The Guardian, Mike Marqusee saw the conversion as an unconditional "surrender ... to the dominant powers" of society.

David Lister, in The Independent, moaned that "so complex and gifted a playwright should now seek to reduce his own work and his own politics to simple concepts".

For the Left, Mamet's days as a provocative playwright are over. As I parse the shrieks of horror over Mamet's move to the Right, I recall what a friend on the Labor side of politics said to me late last week. So many on the Left are obsessed with how they feel about something, he says.

Think about it. So many issues the Left is consumed by are about raw emotion, not intellectual analysis. They will ask you how you feel - not what you think - about some gripping issue. And that's why Mamet changed his views. He started thinking about issues, engaging his head. So many on the Left take the shortcut, letting their gut reaction dictate their response.

Of course, even before Mamet's political conversion it was easy to work out that left-wing politics is essentially emotional, not logical. With only rare exceptions, poets, playwrights, actors, directors and artistes generally are overwhelmingly political bleeding hearts. If your daily occupation is to emote as effusively as possible and your aim is making your audience feel some emotion or another, then rational analysis is simply not your strong point. Hence any collection of Australian artistes - think Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Judy Davis or David Williamson - resembles nothing so much as an old-time Fabian Society love-in.

And that's why Hollywood artists such as Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Matt Damon, Will Smith - the list is endless - have signed up to the Barack Obama campaign. The campaign, based essentially on hope and change, all about feelings, is political manna to these guys. A large part of the problem is not merely that artists are frequently economic illiterates but that they actively reject the notion that knowledge of economics is helpful to policymakers. So you won't find them reading Friedman. Instead, they will, as Williamson so famously did a few years back, lament that more Australians are not reading Proust.

And the richer they are, the likelier they are to think the average bloke ought to forgo aspirations for economic security in favour of a caring, sharing utopia where flourishing government-funded art houses will make up for crippling tax rates and a moribund economy. It is no coincidence that in these lofty circles, the phrase economic rationalist is the greatest insult. Much more acceptable is the opposite: economic irrationality.

But let's be fair. There is a certain class of intellectually feeble capitalists who possesses a similar world view. Having made it big in the free market, acquiring all the accoutrements of a fine life, they have a perfectly timed conversion to the Left. Check out YouTube where you'll find rich guy "Warren Buffet 4 Obama".

Indeed, some of these corporate types get rich by avoiding tax, only to turn around and demand higher taxes of those still toiling away - not to mention the next generation - to fund policies that feed their consciences. It's easy to start subscribing to woolly politics that would mean bigger government, more regulation and higher taxes for the average punter after you've made your substantial stash of money.

The leftist glitterati is justifiably upset about Mamet's rejection of progressive beliefs. After all, he unpeeled the layers of hypocrisy of those who have made plenty of money, feeding very nicely on the fruits of capitalism, only to espouse anti-capitalist dogma because, let's face it, it feels so damn good.


Why Political Correctness is Censorship Masquerading as Civility

My bias in this blog is a whole hearted belief in the genius of the First Amendment to the Constitution which, for those of you who missed Government Class, deals with the inability of the Congress to dictate what we can believe in the form of establishing a state religion and in the sanctity of individual speech no matter how unpleasant it might be. The reason the drafters of the Constitution protected speech, press, and religous choice in the first amendment is that when those are gone the others don't really matter.

Political correctness is a way of dividing and making victims of people who shouldn't be separated from the whole nor who, in their own right, aren't defenseless. As long as we are operating, talking, and describing ourselves as Americans it's hard to identify and isolate specific groups as groups that need more protection than the rest of us or funding for that matter. It's when we partition people as to race, religion, speech, net worth, income, or education that we create an automatic platform for grievance and special attention.

The purpose of the politically correct movement is to identify and isolate potential victims groups in the furtherance of the politically correct proponent's own legislative or financial agenda. If we can give separate and special causes of action to people because they are of color, or poor, or white and underemployed, or religous or not religous, like animals or don't like animals, then we have a whole structure to build a system of addressable and redressable grievances that should be paid attention to and paid for by other people. It's a version of the lottery where sooner or later everyone is both a loser and a winner.

Speech has long been the intellectual conundrum of lawyers and the courts. While I'm clear that I cannot arbitrarily shout "Fire" in a theatre without just cause I am also clear that I should not be prohibited from a wide range of possible descriptions of people or situations that come across my path. The problem with using your sensibilities as my measuring stick of appropriate discourse is that you have all the freedom and I have all the responsibility without any of the protections.

I have long felt that the best form of speech regulation is purely and simply a market based one: don't listen to or pay to listen or read anything that you find offensive. While there may be situations where the occasional Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake wardrobe malfunction occurs accompanied by the predictable embarassment, it is the exception rather than the rule. Anyone who's listened to a comedy routine for very long that is filled with four letter references and personally offensive sexual innuendos understands that after a while it is neither funny nor intelligent. It is also not mandatory that you stay.

Anyone who thinks that teenagers listening to four letter words in a rap tune is a basis for moral and cultural degradation missed the fact that Elvis and the Beetles didn't destroy a generation or the fabric of America. They just entertained some kids in need of entertaining. For my tastes Rap is fourth rate poety set to sixth rate music. I don't like it but I like even less someone telling me that I can't listen to it. I'm sure there are people who heard Metallica or "Chances Are" by Johnny Mathis for the twelfth time in an evening think the same thing.

The arguments for the proponents of speech regulation or "appropriate" speech base their arguments on gross generalizations of the kinds of personal affronts or catostrophic effects that will occur within the family or society if such speech is allowed to continue. The simple answer is to turn off the tv, radio, internet, or cd. The worst answer is for me to let you, whoever you are, determine what I can watch, listen to, play, or say. The better answer is not to subscribe at all. The really, really worst answer is to engage in a process of micro filration that turns sponteneity into sameness. The great thing about America is that we have the freedom in most situations to leave the room, walk away, turn something off, or unsubscribe. I'm not sure we need the language or the thought police to tell us which ones we should do when..

It's easier to be a victim than almost anything else. It just involves shifting the responsibility for what happens to you or what you want to have happen to you to someone else with the kind of irresponsibility that let you arrive in the situation in the first place. To continue to listen to a comedy routine that you find offensive makes you a victim of your own inertia and not of the comedian's language. I'm very clear you need to flip the" move out of here" switch. I'm not at all clear you should delegate what you should or should not hear to someone with an agenda or arbitrariness that promotes their cause while manipulating your options.

If you don't like what I say, then don't listen. If you don't like what I write, then don't read it anymore. If you think I've offended your race, religion, sex or national heritage, then tell me that to my face without filtering it through the nebulousness of political correctness.

Geraldine Ferraro was absolutely right in her reasoning about Barack Obama. She was absolutely wrong in the way she expressed it and politically stupid as well. She should've said, "White or Black or Asian or Hispanic or Inuit, Barack is a lightweight applying for a heavyweight position. He has neither the experience nor the credentials to lead the most powerful nation on earth. It's a pumped up resume delivered by an affirmtive action courier for a job that no one with such weak credentials should be applying for.

To speak smoothly and eloquently is a great skill. To inspire with great rhetoric is an even greater gift. It is easier to espouse a great vision than it is to execute a great plan. I support Barack's right to promote as much as I support Geraldine's right to criticize..each in their own language and in their own medium and more importantly, in their own way. My options are to not vote for either Geraldine or Barack if I find them offensive.. I'd much rather live in a country that is run by a moron that I would be told what to say by 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, March 19, 2008

British "equality" law could bar white men from jobs

White men could be legally blocked from getting jobs under new anti-discrimination laws being considered by Labour. Employers would be able to give jobs to women or ethnic minority candidates in preference to other applicants, under the plans unveiled by equalities minister Harriet Harman. If two candidates were equally qualified for a position, employers would be able to reject the white person or the man in favour of a black person or a woman. But the plans are due to be criticised by business leaders and last night, even equalities campaigners expressed doubt.

Miss Harman - known as Harriet Harperson for her politically correct views - wants to look at how to bring U.S.-style "positive action" to Britain, saying it is vital to ensure the workforce more accurately reflects the demographic make-up of the population. [Why?] She says too many women and people from ethnic minorities are being held back because they cannot break through the "glass ceiling".

The new laws would only come into play where two equally qualified candidates had applied for the same post, allowing the employer to tip the balance in favour of minority candidates. Businesses would not be compelled to favour the female or black candidate but the law would be changed to ensure they could not be sued for turning down a white man. The proposals would also allow universities to select more female students in male-dominated subjects such as science.

But equal rights campaigners said the new rules would have a limited effect, and that action should be targeted on equal pay. Katherine Rake of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns on equal pay, said: "How you would really hold that up in a court of law is not clear and, if it isn't, employers may be reluctant to use it. "You are probably talking about a handful of cases." The present law says employers are allowed to say they welcome applications from minority candidates, and they are allowed to promote jobs to specific groups.

Theresa May, Conservative spokesperson for women, said: "One of the real problems facing women today is the gender pay gap. "If Harriet Harman really wants to help women in the work place she should strengthen the existing laws on equal pay. We have recently put forward proposals to do just that and our proposals would have a real impact on women's lives."

A spokesman for Harriet Harman said: "This is under discussion but no decisions have yet been made." The changes would be included in the new equalities Bill, which will also give new rights to mothers to breast-feed in public. Golf clubs would have to give female players equal access. Miss Harman also wants to force companies to conduct "pay audits", reviewing staff salaries to ensure they are not underpaying women.

But she is facing opposition from within the Cabinet on this from ministers who are worried about antagonising business yet further. Last year Miss Harman called for all-black shortlists in constituencies with high ethnic-minority populations. She said that unless action was taken, it would take decades for the make-up of the Commons to accurately reflect the make-up of British society. But the plan immediately came under attack from ethnic minority MPs on the Labour backbenchers - saying black people should be selected on merit.


Speech is Free - But Only If Politically Correct

We owe a debt of gratitude to the Democratic Party, its two remaining presidential candidates and their campaigns for the important lessons in sensitivity and political correctness they have offered in recent weeks.

Political correctness is not simply the denial and dispute of facts or subject matter, but more practically the denial of the right to speak them, due to their objectionable or politically inconvenient nature. It's generally wielded as a weapon against opponents. But it is more fascinating to watch it swung as a cudgel against allies. And in a campaign in which the strongest points . hope, change, experience . have tended to be a little vague or tenuous at best, the most memorable moments turn out to be about what must not be said, when we've seen that cudgel come down.

Of course they have platforms. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have attempted to outbid each other with your money. There are subsidies for universal healthcare, giveaways to newborns, that kind of thing. It theoretically gets paid for by taking from the rich, but stopping the war. Though that of course depends on what your definition of rich is, and whether the war can stopped, a question highlighted last week by ousted Obama advisor Samantha Power's revelation that there is no plan to stop it.

The true substance of the campaign, that part which resonates, has been the most ethereal, the twin mantles of hope and change at which both candidates tugged. Obama won, and got to keep them. Hillary got the booby prize... sorry, bad choice of words.... of experience, such as it is. The first viable woman candidate for president has been in the awkward position of having to highlight a lifetime spent in the shadow of and then on the coattails of her husband's career. That has regrettably turned out to be as insubstantial as Obama's change-hoping, but that doesn't really matter, because as we've seen, what matters is the words themselves, and not what they stand for.

So the real campaign has been fought over words. But there are some words that must not be spoken. Power called Clinton a "monster," and within two days was bounced from the campaign. It didn't seem like that big a deal. An offhand remark that both the speaker and the campaign could easily downplay and move on. But in any case a worthwhile topic for discussion. A large part of the right-half of the American electorate probably agrees with Power, and it is fascinating to see the same sentiment emerging on the left. So is Hillary a monster or isn't she? What constitutes monstrous behavior? Forbidden.

Geraldine Ferraro, with the good grace to acknowledge that her own place on the 1984 ticket was due to gender, stated that Obama would not be where he is if he were not black. It's a fair point that has been obliquely remarked upon in various quarters, but generally a point no one wants to make a big deal out of. After all, look what happened to Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro when they went near that third rail. They were denounced as racists. Bill was shoved in a closet till it blew over. Ferraro was shown the door.

Race - for all the advances that have been made in the United States, the leading nation on Earth in aggressively addressing its atrocious history of race relations - remains a subject that cannot be freely discussed in this country. The fact that one of the least-experienced candidates in the race with the most insubstantial message, may have attracted attention from the start because he is a charismatic black man is a fact that must not be stated. You may state that he is the embodied of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream, and that his candidacy offers hope because he is black, but you may not state that he has arrived at a position of prominence in the race for that reason, or even that it may prove a hindrance.

The racial element of heavy support for Hillary Clinton by blue-collar Democrats in Ohio, for example, was reported on by the Associated Press in a painstakingly awkward fashion as a reaction to Obama's strong support among blacks, rather the fact that he is himself a black man . in an article that rather offensively linked its indirect suggestion of racism directly to Reaganism.

It's not clear how anyone can transcend racial prejudices, racial preferences and the full range of racial issues when an open discussion is not allowed, but the political party that claims the mantle of the civil rights movement has deemed it so, and there seems to be general agreement in the larger society, so there we are. Speech may be free. But this speech is forbidden.

Political correctness cuts a lot of different ways. A lot of people on the right have been offended when Gloria Steinem - the latter talking up Hillary - made remarks perceived as anti-military. Rather than demanding apologies, we should welcome this kind of speech. By their words and deeds, after all, shall we know them.

John McCain was asked to distance himself from an evangelical minister whose church he did not belong to, but whose support he enjoyed, over that minister's anti-Catholic remarks. McCain distanced himself from the remarks, but said, quite practically, he appreciates the support. No one has seriously suggested McCain is an anti-Catholic bigot, or that this represents anything but the fringe views of a person who, for other reasons, supports the candidate. Presumably we're not going to hear much more squawking about that.

Because Obama has now asked America to allow him to distance himself from the "God damn America" and anti-Israel remarks of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the pastor who married him, whose church he has attended for 20 years and continues to attend.

Obama begins his argument with the curious observation that the pastor in question was a United States Marine, which suggests Obama wants us to think that is why he sought him out and joined his church. Obama insists he never heard the pastor preach anti-Americanism from the pulpit or in private. It was all about social justice and God.

Social justice, as expounded by the left, usually involves a great deal of anti-capitalism and virulent opposition to American foreign policy, much like that voiced by the Rev. Wright. Given that the last 20 years takes us back three Republican administrations, through a period of considerable public debate over U.S. foreign policy, it seems a stretch to claim the subject never came up in an activist's church in Obama's presence.

But fine. The offending social justice practitioner is silenced. In fact, the offending social justice practitioner has been taken out and, figuratively, shot. Obama's pastor is no longer part of the campaign.

We are not to think the spiritual counselor of this candidate had anything substantive to do with the formation of the candidate's thoughts, aside from informing him about God, AIDS, and social justice - whatever the definition of the latter might be. Stating actual beliefs in strong terms . forbidden.

So what has been the lesson of all this political correctitude in the '08 race? In the cases of Power, Ferraro, Steinem and now Wright, what is squelched or denied is not simply some inconvenient utterances, but the massive icebergs they are represent. In the case of Power, the simple fact that politics and campaigning is a tough, not particularly noble business. The fact that racial issues are far more complex, cut across party lines, and for the most superficial of reasons... race itself.... work both for and against candidates. In the case of Steinem and Wright, the pervasive sense on the far left that the United States military and that America is a force of greater evil than good in the world. Though both Clinton and Obama have expressed foreign policy views that more diplomatically support those positions, that naked an exposition is not in their interest.

The PC lesson of the day: The truth hurts. That's why it must be avoided at all costs.

How can we ever thank the Democratic Party, its two remaining presidential candidates and their campaigns? I don't know. But if the American people, some of whom can be fooled all the time, all of whom can be fooled part of the time, have noticed what is going on, they may well thank the Democrats in their own way


Compared with British and French affairs, the Spitzer mess is a bit of a disappointment

By the inimitable Theodore Dalrymple. A bit lighthearted (in an understated British way) for this blog but there is no harm in a bit of fun

Men of exceptional ambition or ability, it is often said, are more highly sexed than others, though perhaps it is just that their sex lives are more closely examined than those of others. Can there really be a man living, after all, who would relish the idea that every detail of his sex life, past and present, would be revealed to the public and those whom he loves?

But if, as Henry Kissinger once said, power is the most powerful aphrodisiac, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's extracurricular sexual activities seem pathetic and furtive, almost adolescent, rather than deeply wicked. Resorting to prostitutes is sex without the trouble, uncertainty or potential humiliation attendant on attempted seduction. In other words, it's a crude shortcut preferred by those who are uncertain of their allures unaided by financial inducements. It is pornography elevated -- or descending -- to the level of practice.

We in Britain are certainly familiar with political scandals of a sexual nature. In 1994, for instance, a Tory member of Parliament, the brother of a clergyman, was found hanged dressed only in women's underwear. This is the kind of thing that we expect of our politicians in Britain.

It used to be that scandals involving the Labor Party mainly concerned financial irregularities and those involving the Conservative Party were predominantly sexual. Labor politicians, being socialists who detested the rich, were avid for money, however ill-gotten. Conservatives, being moralists who lamented the passing of the old order of personal restraint, were deeply attracted to sexual vice. Now that the two parties are virtually indistinguishable, from a policy perspective, they are each financially corrupt and sexually incontinent. I suppose a Hegelian would call this a dialectical synthesis that overcame contradictions.

While he was home secretary from 2001 to 2004, David Blunkett, a blind Labor politician, was discovered not only to have had an affair with, but an illegitimate child by, the U.S.-born publisher of the famous conservative anti-Labor magazine the Spectator. From the public reaction, at least as expressed in the media, one might have supposed that Britain was peopled by a mixture of anchorites in the Syrian desert, subsisting on honey and locusts, and vestal virgins -- who would commit suicide rather than indulge in sexual intercourse -- rather than a country in which 42% of births are out of wedlock, and in which sexual promiscuity is now the rule rather than the exception. Outrage, nevertheless, was unconfined. A public that demanded, as a matter of inalienable right, complete sexual freedom for itself demanded Victorian levels of propriety from its political leaders. Blunkett resigned in late 2004.

The fact that sexual scandal has spread to the Labor Party does not mean that we have given up on the expectation that the Conservative Party will titillate us. It just means that the bar of public notice has been raised a few notches. We demand the equivalent of the Fosbury Flop of sexual perversion (if one is permitted to use that term at all in these days of universal tolerance). Thus, a Conservative member of Parliament was found dead in the course of his practice of autoerotic asphyxia -- hanging yourself to achieve heightened sexual excitement brought about by decreasing oxygen to the brain, while looking at erotic pictures or having erotic fantasies. An article describing 117 such cases was recently published by the British Journal of Psychiatry.

It is generally agreed that they order these things better in France. The French are more mature about sex, though they are terrible hypocrites about money. I remember having lunch with a French author who was writing a comparative study of serial killers in France and Anglo-Saxonia. English speakers, it seems, murder serially for sex, or rather some version of it, and the French murder for money or even for furniture (one has only to remember Landru and Dr. Petiot). Which is better or morally preferable? Well, to be honest, Je ne sais pas.

The French expect their politicians to have colorful, though discreet, sex lives. No one found it at all shocking that Francois Mitterrand maintained two households, complete with an illegitimate daughter, throughout his presidency. More significant, perhaps, was that no one either found his past Petainism, or his then-current protection of high-level Petainists, shocking. French and Anglo-Saxon forms of hypocrisy are very different.

What the French find objectionable in the antics of their current president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is not their moral impropriety but their vulgarity. No sooner was he divorced (for the second time) than he was seen cavorting on an Egyptian beach with his glamorous new love, Carla Bruni, with whom he exchanged very expensive presents. The fact that Bruni, now his third wife, is very rich does not mollify the French in the slightest. Sarkozy has behaved not like a mature man but like an adolescent.

The 15-year-old daughter of a French friend explained what was wrong with him. Someone in a crowd refused to shake Sarkozy's hand and called him a fool. He replied in kind, insulting him. By contrast, when someone in a similar situation had shouted "Fool!" at Jacques Chirac when he was president, Chirac shook his hand and said, "And me, I'm Chirac." Now that, according to the 15-year-old, was class, and everything may be forgiven such a man, including, no doubt, sexual peccadilloes.

Of course, Spitzer's downfall is particularly delightful to the generality of mankind because of his almost terminal self-righteousness. It is the gulf between what he has preached and what he has practiced that so appeals to the rest of us, who know our feet are of clay. Spitzer is the Jim Bakker of public prosecution.

I wish I could say that I felt sorry for Spitzer, but I don't. His statement that "I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself" makes him sound like the disgraced member of a politburo indulging in self-criticism before being sent into exile in Siberia or Kazakhstan. On the other hand, I don't want to be too hard on him, just in case someone investigates me one day. The fact is that I too have failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself.


Racist politically correct judge in Australia again: Gives only six months' jail for rape of 13-year-old girl

Black kids are not entitled to the same protection as whites, apparently. This is not the first time judge Martin has put the law second to the depraved values that have become common in dysfunctional black communities. He condones the depravity instead of fulfilling his duty to correct and discourage it

The Northern Territory's chief judge has warned men in Aboriginal communities to stop condoning child abuse after a 20-year-old was sent to jail for having sex with his 13-year-old promised bride under her parents' roof. However, child abuse campaigners yesterday criticised as inadequate the six-month sentence given to the offender by Chief Justice Brian Martin, who accepted that the 13-year-old victim, who fell pregnant as a result of the abuse, had "actively encouraged" the relationship.

Yesterday, in the Supreme Court at Alice Springs, Justice Martin said senior figures in Aboriginal communities "must learn to accept" that sex with children was illegal. The judge made the comments after acknowledging that both the parents of the victim and offender, as well as senior figures in their remote Aboriginal communities, had accepted the sexual relationship between the 13-year-old child and the man, who was 19 at the time the offences took place, as normal.

The offender, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to three charges of having sexual intercourse with a child over a two-month period in 2006. Lawyers for the offender had pointed out in submissions at his plea hearing that the victim's father was an Aboriginal community police officer in the remote central Australian settlement where the offences occurred. The Australian is unable to name that community as it would identify the victim.

In sentencing the 20-year-old man yesterday, Justice Martin accepted that the offender was a young man with an immature understanding of sexual matters who had been "subject to conflicting messages" within his community. "Those who might be expected to tell you that a sexual relationship with a child was wrong took the opposite view and encouraged your relationship," Justice Martin said. "You had approval for the relationship not only from your parents, but also from the child's parents. Their approval extended to occupying the same bed together within the homes of both sets of parents."

The court heard yesterday that the victim had been subject to violence within the relationship by her promised husband, who abused alcohol. She had also fallen pregnant as a result of the abuse, and when she was seen at a community clinic, health workers discovered that she had contracted three different sexually transmitted infections. The court was told that the young victim's baby had died in-utero.

Justice Martin said that the "tragic and traumatic" consequences of the sexual abuse were a "graphic illustration" of the dangers of such relationships within Aboriginal communities. "There is a need to send a message to men in Aboriginal communities, both young and old, that sexual intercourse with children is never acceptable and is against the law," he said. "The message must go out that whatever view may be held by a community or individual Aboriginal man about traditional marriage or traditional relationships with young children, sexual intercourse with children is against the law and will result in offenders being sent to prison."

Bernadette McMenamin, chief executive of the anti-child abuse group Child Wise, said the sentence was inadequate, and slammed Justice Martin's suggestion that the victim had "actively encouraged" the sexual relationship.



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, March 18, 2008

Muslims attack Christians in BRITAIN

No longer just in the Middle East

The wife of a clergyman beaten up in a faith-hate attack outside his church described the community's shock and distress yesterday after taking the Palm Sunday service on her husband's behalf. Canon Michael Ainsworth is expected to be released from hospital early this week after being attacked 12 days ago in East London. The attack has led to fears of an increasing number of religiously aggravated attacks on Christian clergy and concerns that the problem is overlooked by police and prosecutors.

Speaking after giving the service at St George's-in-the-East Church in Shadwell, the Rev Janina Ainsworth, 57, who is also a priest in the Church of England, said that the couple had taken much strength from the support offered from around the country. "There is a lot of shock and distress around the congregation and the area," she said. "We're so grateful for all the messages of support and love from friends and the wider community. Quite clearly, there are mindless individuals in every community under the influence of drink and drugs who will engage in random acts of violence."

Canon Ainsworth, 57, who was wearing his clerical collar, was punched and kicked by two Asian youths while another shouted religious abuse outside St George's on March 5. He suffered cuts, bruises and two black eyes. He was discharged from St Bartholomew's hospital but later readmitted following complications to an injury.

Canon Ainsworth moved to St George's at the end of last year after his wife was appointed as the first female chief education officer for the Church of England. Mrs Ainsworth said: "Normally community relations here are very good. We have had very strong messages of support from the East London Mosque and Tower Hamlets Mosque, with whom we've got good relations. "Clearly, the Muslim community is very shocked. These individuals were under the influence and this was a random act, but it may well be that some good can come out of it. "Michael is making a good recovery and he should be back home early next week. He doesn't want to castigate the whole community, he feels this is an isolated incident. "We do know that in this area there is no concerted campaign against Christians and Christian buildings."

The church has been targeted in the past, with bricks thrown through the windows of the 18th-century building. On Good Friday last year, worshippers were showered with glass during a service. Allan Ramanoop, an Asian member of the parochial church council, said that parishioners were often too scared to challenge the gangs. "I've been physically threatened and verbally abused on the steps of the church," he said. "On one occasion, youths shouted: `This should not be a church, this should be a mosque, you should not be here'. "I just walked away from it - you are too frightened to challenge them. We have church windows smashed two to three times a month. The youths are antiChristian. It's terrible what they have done to Canon Ainsworth."

It was feared that the incident might inflame tension in the area, which is in the heart of Tower Hamlets where more than half the residents are from ethnic minority groups. A third are of Bangladeshi origin.

In January one of the Church of England's most senior bishops said that Islamic extemists had created "no-go" areas across Britain where it was too dangerous for nonMuslims to enter. The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Church's only Asian bishop, said that people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.

Worshippers at St George's suggested that youth thuggery, rather than religious bigotry, may be more to blame. Thomas Beckett, 50, said: "I have heard that this church is an island in the middle of a Muslim community. But you don't expect this sort of attack to happen - you don't expect Muslims to be attacked either."Michael Saward, 75, the former vicar, said: "Nothing like this has happened in this area before, although I have been attacked in the past so I can understand what he's going through. "We have had windows smashed here but we don't know by who."

Nick Tolson, a former police officer who set up the National Churchwatch safety scheme, said that there had been an increase in faith hate attacks on clergy. "The harassment is usually coming from young Asian men - often, but not exclusively, Muslim," he said. "The police and prosecutors will classify an attack on a mosque or Muslim as a hate crime but not if it is a church or a vicar. These aren't targeted attacks, they are spontaneous, but [the victims] are being singled out because of their faith and should be dealt with in the same way as other members of the community."

The Crown Prosecution Service reported last month that cases aggravated by religious factors had fallen by 37.2 per cent, with reports of 27 prosecutions in the past year. In the 23 cases where the religion was known, 17 victims were Muslim, three as Christian, two as Jewish and one as Sikh. Scotland Yard said that allegations of faith hate crimes had fallen by a half between 2005-06 and 2006-07 to 417. [Because people are too scared to report them]


Royal college warns abortions can lead to mental illness

Women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions, a medical royal college has warned. The Royal College of Psychiatrists says women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counselled on the possible risk to their mental health. This overturns the consensus that has stood for decades that the risk to mental health of continuing with an unwanted pregnancy outweighs the risks of living with the possible regrets of having an abortion.

MPs will shortly vote on a proposal to reduce the upper time limit for abortions "for social reasons" from 24 weeks to 20 weeks, a move not backed by the government. A Sunday Times poll today shows 59% of women would support such a reduction, with only 28% backing the status quo. Taken together, just under half (48%) of men and women want a reduction to 20 weeks, while 35% want to retain 24 weeks. Some MPs also want women to have a "cooling off" period in which they would be made aware of the possible consequences of the abortion, including the impact on their mental health, before they could go ahead.

More than 90% of the 200,000 terminations in Britain every year are believed to be carried out because doctors believe that continuing with the pregnancy would cause greater mental strain.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends updating abortion information leaflets to include details of the risks of depression. "Consent cannot be informed without the provision of adequate and appropriate information," it says. Several studies, including research published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2006, concluded that abortion in young women might be associated with risks of mental health problems.

The controversy intensified earlier this year when an inquest in Cornwall heard that a talented artist hanged herself because she was overcome with grief after aborting her twins. Emma Beck, 30, left a note saying: "Living is hell for me. I should never have had an abortion. I see now I would have been a good mum. I want to be with my babies; they need me, no one else does."

The college's revised stance was welcomed by Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP campaigning for a statutory cooling-off period: "For doctors to process a woman's request for an abortion without providing the support, information and help women need at this time of crisis I regard almost as a form of abuse," she said.

Dawn Primarolo, the health minister, will this week appeal to MPs to ignore attempts to reduce the time limit on abortion when new laws on fertility treatment and embryo research come before parliament.

Dr Peter Saunders, general secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said: "How can a doctor now justify an abortion [on mental health grounds] if psychiatrists are questioning whether there is any clear evidence that continuing with the pregnancy leads to mental health problems."


Bleeding heart white liberal racists

This article, by a black writer, was written 10 years ago. It should be recycled often. I assume that the reference to George Bush is to George Bush senior

I will never forget the first time I felt comfortable with my decision to become a Republican. It was just before the 1990 Texas elections. My wife and I were leaving an Austin fund-raising "wake" for Clayton Williams, the Republican nominee for governor of Texas. "Claytie" was a bright businessman with big ears, a wide smile, a quick wit, tremendous wealth ... and not a lick of political sense at all. Claytie started his campaign with a sizable lead over Ann Richards, a former school teacher who represented the left wing of the Texas Democrat Party. By that sad night, his mouth had clearly opened once too many. Somehow, Claytie had managed to spend $8 million of his own dollars to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

As my wife and I walked past camera crews waiting for candidate Williams, a young white couple shouted "what are you minorities doing supporting a Republican? What have these people done for your people?" The arrogance of these white, liberal racists stunned my wife and me. I quickly responded that "I am not a minority. I am an American and I can support whomever I want. You know, I left the Democrat Party because of racists like you who can only see a black face and not an American citizen."

The male said: "You are not an American, you are a minority." I got right up into his face and said, "I am not a minority. That is a word that white liberals created that I reject." He yelled back, "Oh yes you are a minority, there are more of us than there are of you." I told him that "you are so wrong. There is only one of me and only one of you. Anyway, there are many more people of color in this world than whites. I am an American and you can't define me."

At that point, I was ready to send him straight to hell, but my wife grabbed my arm and pulled me away. As we walked away, white Republicans who had witnessed this "discussion" looked back at the camera crew in shock. For the first time, they saw the power and fury of white liberal racism. For the first time, they saw how white liberals try to act like plantation owners. For the first time, they saw why most Americans of color cannot stand bleeding heart white liberals.

Before that confrontation, I had been struggling with the tension between my conservative beliefs and my feeling that Republicanism equaled southern racism. That encounter in 1990 erased any doubt I had about the wisdom of my conversion. From then on, I was committed to the destruction of bleeding heart liberalism, wherever its slimy head appeared.

When I started my career as a legal services attorney in 1972, I thought that liberals really cared about the poor, the oppressed and people of color. Twenty-six years later, I have learned that while some have good intentions, many liberals are closet racists. They claim to be "sensitive, progressive and concerned," while in reality far too many of them truly do not believe that blacks or Latinos are as smart as they are. In fact, their liberal orthodoxy cannot exist in a world where blacks and Latinos no longer "need" their help.

Strong people of color threaten bleeding heart white liberals. This tension has existed since the days of the abolition movement. In the 19th century, Frederick Douglass had to fight his white "brothers" so that he, an ex-slave, could speak out against slavery at abolition meetings. The history of white liberalism is a history of their refusal to respect Americans of color who defied white liberal orthodoxy. We saw it most recently when white feminists refused to acknowledge the significant contributions of black women in the fight for suffrage.

One of the most egregious examples of white, liberal racism occurred in Texas in 1996. White liberals who controlled the Democrat Party of Texas did everything they could to deny Victor Morales sufficient funds to wage an effective campaign against Republican Sen. Phil Gramm.

Many Democrats told me that the leaders of the Democrat Party of Texas decided that they would rather concede a Senate seat to the GOP than to help a Hispanic become the most powerful Democrat in Texas. The reason was simple. In many counties in South Texas where 80-95 percent of the residents are Latinos, white Democrats control the political machinery. The fear was that if Victor Morales won or at least ran a strong race, he would empower Latinos all over South Texas to throw off the yoke of their white liberal Democrat plantation owners. That simply wouldn't do.

Bleeding heart white liberals give lip service to the ideal of intellectual equality. When you scratch them, you find insecure people who need to "know" that blacks and Latinos cannot compete with them on an equal footing. It is not surprising, therefore, that bleeding heart liberals are the loudest supporters of "separate but lower" affirmative action admission standards. They like race-based affirmative action programs because they reinforce their belief that whites are the master race.

Bleeding heart white liberals argue that we must integrate schools so that their children will have access to a "diverse" classroom. What do they mean by this word "diversity?" Do they mean that they want their little children to know what it means to compete with and lose to brighter black and Latino children? Does it mean that they want their children to learn that most people of color are conservative or moderate?

No, for most bleeding heart white liberals, "diversity" means that they want to bus black and Latino children across town like zoo animals so their children can get a head start on "relating" to their future employees. It is not surprising, therefore, that black and Latino parents are at the forefront of efforts to end busing and expand school vouchers. They know that white liberals don't care about the education of their children.

Americans of color are still amazed at Bill and Hillary Clinton's refusal to fight for Lani Guinier, a "close friend" and former Yale Law School classmate. Bill planned to nominate Lani as his assistant attorney general for Civil Rights. However, when conservatives labeled Lani the "quota queen," Bill refused to send forward her nomination. He claimed that he had not realized how "radical" Lani's positions were.

I have known Lani Guinier for decades. She is a thoughtful, decent, brilliant woman. While I do not agree with all of her positions, Lani deserved the right to defend her beliefs before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bill Clinton claimed that he hadn't read Lani's writings and didn't know what Lani thought. That was an outright lie.

Bill, Hillary, Lani and I were all classmates at Yale. Bill and Hillary stayed in touch with Lani after graduation and even attended Lani's wedding. When it was time for Clinton to stand firm with his "colored" friend, however, he left her hanging in the wind.

To this day, black Democrats ask me how Clinton could fight for a crook like Webster Hubble and not stand by Lani Guinier. To this day, black Democrats ask me how Bill Clinton could abandon a black woman who was his friend when George Bush stood tall for Clarence Thomas, a man Bush didn't even know. To this day, black Democrats ask me why Bill Clinton has only white males in his inner circle when George Bush had black men in charge of the military and White House relations with Congress.

I tell them that Clinton's betrayal of Lani Guinier is further evidence that bleeding heart white liberals do not respect people of color. I tell them that bleeding heart white liberals are parasites whose economic survival demands the continuation of oppression, racism and poverty. I tell them that they will never be free until they reject the oppressive yoke of bleeding heart white liberal racists. Unless, of course, they like what they see in Appalachia.



By Barry Rubin

One of the things least understood by people in the West is the framework-or should I say straitjacket?-of the dominant ideology in the Arabic-speaking world in shaping thought, speech, and political alternatives. This shows up in the smallest of exchanges. But atoms, too, are very tiny yet make up all the wide variety of things in the world.

Call it AIDS (Arab Ideological Doctrine Syndrome), a disease that doesn't just threaten the Middle East, it's been a plague since the 1950s with few signs of a let-up. Here's a little example that illustrates the big picture. On February 25, Lebanese cabinet minister Marwan Hamada gave an interview to Press TV.[1] It is a commonplace for supporters of Lebanon's government to be accused of being Western agents, an implication often repeated in the Western media referring to it as "pro-U.S."

Claiming this about anyone who doesn't want to go to war with America or Israel, or opposes radical forces, or who doesn't want a radical Arab nationalist or Islamist state is a common weapon used to weaken non-extremist forces. While in the West, the label "moderate" is a compliment (the "moderate" Palestinian Authority; "moderate" states); in the Arab world it is an insult, an imputation of treason.

Angered at being accused of being a Western spy (a claim often made by Hizballah toward its opponents), Hamada replied that if anyone was a spy it was Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah who is "a spy for Iran. I am not a spy for anybody." The interviewer responded sarcastically and Hamada continued: "I defend my country. I defend my independence, I defend my democracy, I defend my integrity, and I will not accept anybody impeding on it--even if he believes he's a saint."

What Hamada is saying is that he is a Lebanese patriot. And he does what a patriot does: fights so that Lebanon is independent of Iranian-Syrian control; so that Hizballah does not impose an Islamist state on Lebanon; so that Lebanon's interests don't suffer by being dragged into an unnecessary, damaging, unwinnable war with Israel.

Anywhere else in the world this would be a winning argument. A man who strives for his country's interests is a patriot; one who, like Nasrallah, is in fact funded by one state seeking to take over his country (Iran) and who champions the interests of a country which did run and looted his country for decades (Syria) is a hero. Nasrallah, after all, is the official representative in Lebanon of Iran's supreme guide; Hamada represents a coalition of Lebanon's majority, Christians, Sunni Muslims, and Druze. When tens of thousands of Lebanese demonstrated in favor of Syria's withdrawing its army from Lebanon, Nasrallah led a large demonstration demanding that Syria's soldiers stay in the country.

But this is not how the system works in the Middle East as a whole. Thus, to act as a Lebanese patriot is perceived as being a traitor, to Arabism, Islam, and ultimately to Lebanon itself. Like any Iraqi who rejoices in Saddam Hussein's downfall or any Palestinian really ready to make permanent peace in order to get a state, in the kingdom of the ideologically blinded, the one-eyed man is king. It is the upside-down world of the poet John Milton's Satan who said, "Evil be my good."

Thus, in Hamada's case, the interviewer retorted (or should I say "snorted"): "A spy for Iran does not offer his son to sacrifice and spill his blood on the soil of Lebanon, for the sake of Lebanon. If he was a spy for Iran, he wouldn't go and fight the Israelis since 1982."

Well, wait a minute. Nasrallah has fought since 1982 to take over Lebanon. And even if he fought Israel, that is completely in line with Iran's policies and interests. The interviewer, and most Arab intellectuals, journalists, and the other people who have a public voice, however, don't buy that argument. To fight Israel is to be a saint, to show true love for one's country, to be above criticism. You can lose the war (like Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser), wreck your own country (like Iraq's Saddam Hussein), be a dictator (like Syria's Hafiz and Bashar al-Asad), lead your people into catastrophe (like Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat), and be extraordinarily corrupt (like.everybody) but it doesn't matter as long as you fight Israel and the West.

Hamada and others are trying to overcome that knee-jerk reaction. It is an uphill struggle. Hamade concludes: "Who has given [Nasrallah]--except what he supposes is God--this authority to engage Lebanon alone in this battle.? I accuse him of sacrificing his son." And, in order to play the game, Hamada has to give his own call to fight Israel, but just not from Lebanese soil: "Why doesn't he go and fight from the.real occupied Arab territories.Palestine and the Golan Heights?"

Of course, Hamada is right. But that doesn't mean he can win the argument. If the central issue is pride, not material benefit, and if battling the West and Israel are the prime directives, whether this policy leads to defeat, bankruptcy, tyranny, and general disaster is irrelevant. And despite the existence of courageous dissenters from this doctrine, it still rules the Arab world, something every Arab but few in the West understands. This is why peace, moderation, and pragmatism still cannot win there.



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, March 17, 2008

British equality watchdog fails its own test

But it's headed by a black, so that's OK

Britain's anti-discrimination quango had to be bailed out by ministers to avoid its breaching the law over its own internal equality scheme, The Times has learnt. The disclosure comes as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), chaired by Trevor Phillips, last week began its first inquiry into human rights in Britain. The commission was set up last year to replace the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Along with all other public bodies it was meant to implement an overarching equality scheme, setting out its position for its staff on race, gender, disability and other potential areas of discrimination by January 1 this year. It failed to do so, prompting ministers to lay a statutory instrument before Parliament, extending the deadline to April 1 this year.

Last night opposition MPs expressed astonishment at the failure. Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for youth and equality, said: "What authority will the commission have in cracking the whip to other public bodies when they fail to comply with their own legal responsibilities with such impunity from ministers?"

According to its mandate, part of" the commission's responsibility is to "reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people and protect human rights". It must also assess compliance with the statutory duties applicable to public authorities as well as take "enforcement action when necessary and appropriate".

The commission maintains that its scheme was very ambitious and that the three-month period that it had to meet the deadline set by the Government's Equality Office was unrealistic. A spokeswoman for the commission confirmed that the deadline had been revised but said this was necessary because of the size of the job. "We take this task very seriously. We are attempting something much more ambitious than merely complying with the duty to set up equality schemes . . . we want a single integrated scheme, which obviously takes time to do properly."


Racial anxiety rules in Britannia

In Britain there has been mounting concern about the country "sleepwalking" into segregation. A government report last year showed schools increasingly dividing along racial lines, particularly in the old industrial north of England. Jack Straw, the respected former foreign secretary and now Justice Secretary, has warned about white and non-white Britons "breathing the same air but walking past each other".

For Britons, the issue has particular potency this year, which marks the 40th anniversary of the "Rivers of Blood" speech given by the Conservative politician Enoch Powell. Then the shadow defence secretary, Powell warned that if immigration wasn't stopped, there would be strife in the years to come: "As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood." Powell's speech has since been inscribed into British political culture, a reference to "Rivers of Blood" shorthand for white racism.

Yet Powellite concerns about race are slowly being reassessed. Last week BBC TV screened the first program of its controversial White season, a series of films and documentaries looking at white working-class Britain. Immigration and race feature heavily in the series (titles include White Girl, All White In Barking and The Poles Are Coming). Its commissioning editor, Richard Klein, says the white working class has been ignored by the political classes, the victim of political correctness. "The way in which they see the world may come across as extremist," Klein continues, "but that's not how they see it." Already, the BBC has been accused of indulging racist fears of immigrants.

There is much public hostility towards immigration. An ICM poll in January found that 78 per cent of Britons thought immigration policy should be tightened, with 56 per cent believing that British Muslims need to integrate more into British culture. Support for the xenophobic British Nationalist Party continues to grow in the lead-up to municipal elections later this year.

Some of this is the fallout from the July 7, 2005, London bombings and their demonstration of the dangers of militant Islamism from within. British politicians have acknowledged the need for a better defined sense of national solidarity. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has led the way with his push for "British values" to be enshrined in an official statement of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Yet the difficulties of articulating a national identity that appeals to a white ethnic majority as well as to immigrants are profound. It isn't easy to say what such a thing must involve, as the Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge, found out after a speech last week. Hodge had criticised annual Prom concerts for failing to be inclusive enough of people from minority backgrounds. It was a clumsy intervention. All she managed was to estrange white Britons for whom the Proms (especially the "Last Night Of" concerts featuring pieces such as Land Of Hope And Glory, Jerusalem and Rule Britannia) represent a healthy dose of patriotism.

The bottom line is that cultural marginalisation, for natives and immigrants alike, must be avoided at all cost. Even if such discontent doesn't spill into rivers of blood, it certainly leaves a society on edge.


The costs of crime are far, far more than the costs of incarceration

By Thomas Sowell

For more than two centuries, the political Left has been preoccupied with the fate of criminals, often while ignoring or downplaying the fate of the victims of those criminals. So it is hardly surprising that a recent New York Times editorial has returned to a familiar theme among those on the Left, on both sides of the Atlantic, with its lament that "incarceration rates have continued to rise while crime rates have fallen." Back in 1997, New York Times writer Fox Butterfield expressed the same lament under the headline, "Crime Keeps on Falling, But Prisons Keep on Filling." Then, as now, liberals seemed to find it puzzling that crime rates go down when more criminals are put behind bars.

Nor is it surprising that the Left uses an old and irrelevant comparison - between the cost of keeping a criminal behind bars versus the cost of higher education. According to the Times, "Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, and Oregon devote as much or more to corrections as they do to higher education." The relevant comparison would be between the cost of keeping a criminal behind bars and the cost of letting him loose in society. But neither the New York Times nor others on the Left show any interest in that comparison.

In Britain, the total cost of the prison system per year was found to be 1.9 billion pounds sterling, while the financial cost alone of the crimes committed per year by criminals was estimated at 60 billion pounds sterling.

The big difference between the two kinds of costs is not just in their amounts. The cost of locking up criminals has to be paid out of government budgets that politicians would prefer to spend on giveaway programs that are more likely to get them reelected. But the far higher costs of letting criminals loose is paid by the general public in both money and in being subjected to violence. The net result is that both politicians and ideologues of the Left are forever pushing "alternatives to incarceration." These include programs with lovely names like "community supervision" and high-tech stuff like electronic devices to keep track of released criminals' locations.

Just how do you "supervise" a criminal who is turned loose in the community? Assigning someone to be with him, one-on-one, 24/7, would probably be a lot more expensive than locking him up. But of course no one is proposing any such thing. Having the released criminal reporting to some official from time to time may be enough to allow the soothing word "supervision" to be used. But it hardly restricts what a criminal does with the other nine-tenths of his time when he is not reporting.

Electronic devices work only when they are being used. Even when they are being used 24/7, they tell you only where the criminal is, not what he is doing. Those released criminals who don't even want that much restriction can of course remove the device and become an escapee, with far less trouble or risk than is required to escape from prison.

One of the most insidious aspects of "alternatives to incarceration" programs is that those who control such programs often control also the statistical and other information that would be needed to assess the actual consequences of these programs. They not only control what information is released but to whom it will be released. When officials whose careers are on the line can choose between researchers who view incarceration as being "mean-spirited" toward criminals and other researchers who are much less sympathetic to criminals, who do you think is going to get access to the data?

A study of the treatment of criminals in Britain - A Land Fit for Criminals by David Fraser - has several chapters on the games that are played with statistics, in order to make "alternatives to incarceration" programs look successful, even when they are failing abysmally, with tragic results for the public.

Britain has gone much further down the road that the New York Times is urging us to follow. In the process, Britain has gone from being one of the most law-abiding nations on earth to overtaking the United States in most categories of crime.


A Bible study on poverty

In a new book, "Red Letter Christians," Tony Campolo makes the case that Christians can fulfill their duty to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless by electing politicians who will make this the collective responsibility of the government and all taxpayers. For fear that even one Christian in America might be so misled by the noted evangelist and theologian, I decided to do something Campolo failed to do - consult the Bible.

Of course, that's not entirely fair. Campolo does offer a scriptural citation for his prescription for coercive wealth redistribution by government. It just doesn't apply. He cites Matthew 25:31-46, in which Jesus explains the responsibility each of us has individually to be compassionate to our neighbors in need. Notice Jesus did not suggest those listening to Him lobby Herod to take care of the poor. Notice Jesus did not suggest this was Caesar's responsibility. Notice Jesus did not suggest people, listening to His words then or reading them 2,000 years later, should mug the rich and distribute their wealth to the poor.

Jesus didn't suggest anything remotely like that to help the poor and truly needy. Instead, he speaks to each of us individually. He lets us know about this because it is the best prescription for both the poor and for us who make the sacrifice to help. Sacrifice is not meant to be easy. Sacrifice is not painless. And personal sacrifice is clearly what Jesus is prescribing for His followers in Matthew 25 - and throughout the rest of the Bible, for that matter.

Jesus doesn't suggest spreading the pain and sacrifice by forcing non-believers to carry the load. Jesus doesn't suggest reducing our own responsibility by foisting it upon the entire nation. Jesus doesn't suggest stealing from the rich to give to the poor. But that's what Campolo's version of enlightened Christian socialism is all about. He specifically says problems like poverty are too big for the individual and too big for the church. Only government can tackle them, he says. Gee, I wonder why Jesus forgot to mention that to us?

When Jesus talked to the rich young ruler, He told Him to sell his goods and give the money to the poor. Even Jesus didn't force him to do so - which He certainly could have done. Had He forced Him, the rich young ruler would still not be in obedience and still not eligible for the rewards of the afterlife. That is the result only of a personal decision to follow God, not the result of coercion.

There's nothing compassionate about taking from those who have and redistributing it. In fact, it would deny the Zacchaeuses of the world (Luke 19) from the gifts of repentance, forgiveness and salvation. Would that be biblical?

Go further two more chapters in Luke to learn of the kind of sacrifice God values. The poor widow who gave two mites, we learn, actually gave more than the rest. Why? Because it's not the amount that counts in God's eyes, it's the faith motivating the giving that counts. Campolo has this all upside down. God doesn't want or need our money to perfect His Creation. He requires our obedience and faithfulness.

The Bible does, however, warn us about people who use the poor as an excuse to sin, as a rationalization for sowing discord, as a means of undermining the very will of God. We see this explored in John 12, where Judas condemns Mary for putting expensive, perfumed oil in Jesus' hair. "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?" demands the man who would betray Jesus. The next verse goes to Judas' motivations: "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein."

Judas was like so many "do-gooders" today who demand we show compassion for the poor by giving them, the do-gooders, our money. That's not the way it's supposed to work. You're supposed to help the poor. You don't need a middleman, a Judas, a tax collector, a bureaucrat, a politician taking a cut. It's no longer charity. It's no longer compassion. It's no longer obedience to God.

And what did Jesus say to rebuke Judas' insolence? "Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always." It seems eliminating poverty is not what God requires of us. The poor will always be with us, He says.

So why help the poor? Because God commands it. He doesn't tell us to solve global poverty. He doesn't tell us to pass the buck to others. He doesn't tell us to enlist government in the cause. He doesn't tell us to make the poor a political cause. God wants us to look the poor person in the eye when we give. He wants us to show God's love when we do it. He doesn't want us writing bigger checks to the U.S. Treasury. He wants us serving Him. And through serving Him, we help spread the good news of His grace.



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, March 16, 2008

Licensing regulations are the new Jim Crow laws

I learned how lack of liberty creates poverty while rehabilitating low-income housing. One day, a city official called to ask me to evict two of my tenants. "One woman," they told me, "is sewing curtains for businesses in her apartment. Another is providing day care!" "That's how they make their living," I replied. "It's illegal," the sputtering bureaucrat continued. "Your apartments are zoned residential, not commercial. Even if we were to generously grant a variance, those apartments would have to undergo expensive remodeling. Neither of these women has paid us for a business license, either."

"Look," I countered, "These women are struggling to stay off welfare. They aren't hurting anybody, creating extra traffic, or breaking their lease; I'm not going to evict them. That would be cruel!" The bureaucrat backed off, but not for long. A few weeks later, the women came to me and tearfully explained that they had been threatened with court action, fines, and possibly even imprisonment. Both succumbed to the pressure, went on welfare, and became permanently ensnared in the poverty trap. Where's the compassion in that? Where's the love for those struggling to survive? Establishment politicians and bureaucrats say they are the friends of the poor, but actions speak louder than their words.

Libertarian Steve Mariotti learned a similar lesson when he began teaching inner city high school students how to start their own businesses. Steve had been mugged for the paltry sum of $10. As he recovered from his injuries, he started the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to teach inner city teens how to become successful businessmen and women instead so that they wouldn't have to steal. As part of NFTE's program, national awards are given each year for the most successful young entrepreneurs. In 1993, one of the awards went to fifteen year old Monique Landers of Kansas who had started her own hair braiding business called "A Touch of Class."

While libertarian Steve Mariotti honored this young black businesswoman, the Kansas state government wanted to put teen age Monique in jail. Why? Monique didn't have a state cosmetology license. The license isn't required to protect the consumer; it's not against the law in Kansas to braid hair. It's only against the law to charge for it.

Throughout our nation, entrepreneurial African-American hair braiders have been threatened with criminal prosecution. The cosmetology license that they supposedly need requires about 1 year of schooling at the cost of several thousand dollars--time and money that many would-be entrepreneurs just don't have. To add insult to injury, very few cosmetology schools even teach students African-American braiding techniques.

The regulations that put minorities and the disadvantaged out of business and on to the dole are too numerous to count. Many locales forbid auto owners to provide taxi or van service to their neighbors unless they pay thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, for the permit. In some areas, newcomers are routinely denied permits no matter how much they are willing to pay.

In Atlanta, homeless man Ronnie Forston was arrested seven times in eighteen months. His crime: shining shoes without a license. The license itself cost $175. Ronnie also needed a vendors permit, but the city wasn't granting any. Even if they had been, Ronnie wouldn't have qualified because, as a homeless man, he didn't have an address. He probably couldn't have gotten a welfare check either, since a home address is usually required for that as well. That's why you don't see government social workers out helping the homeless. The poorest of the poor have virtually no access to the welfare dollars collected in their name.

Naturally, the homeless turn to the private sector for help-when regulations don't stand in the way. The good sisters from the Missionaries of Charity, the order of nuns that Mother Teresa founded, purchased two abandoned buildings in New York City, to create shelters for the homeless. The city approved their building plans. However, once the renovation began, city inspectors insisted that the nuns spend an additional $100,000 on an elevator. The good sisters didn't want to spend that much money on something that wouldn't really help the poor, but the city stood firm. The Missionaries of Charity had to abandon the project. The street people of New York City, who would have enjoyed the shelter, even without the elevator, were literally left out in the cold. Where's the compassion in that? Where's the love for the homeless? Establishment politicians and bureaucrats say that they want to help the poor, but actions speak louder than words.

Excess regulations hurt the disadvantaged by destroying jobs, channeling welfare away from the needy, and thwarting private sector efforts to give them aid. Since minorities are usually the most disadvantaged among us, these regulations constitute the hidden roots of modern racial discrimination. They are the face of the new Jim Crow, so subtle, so hidden, that only a few of the black leadership, such as libertarians Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell, recognize the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Who will step forward and help the minorities fight the new Jim Crow? Not the Democrats and Republicans; both parties support and enforce such regulations. Establishment politicians and bureaucrats say that they want to help minorities, but actions speak louder than words. Only among libertarians do minorities find champions of their right to make an honest living.

Among the most successful of these champions is the Institute for Justice, the nation's premiere libertarian public interest law firm. For the past decade, the Institute for Justice has racked up an impressive number of landmark victories defending-pro bono-hair braiders, van operators, taxicab drivers, and other victims of excess regulation. Columnist George F. Will described the Institute for Justice as a "merry band of libertarian litigators." Why are the Institute's lawyers having such fun? It's a real high destroying poverty and economic discrimination at their roots! Actions speak louder than words!



Prof. Rubin below wisely confines his discourse to widely-known facts and experiences within his own family but there are other facts that are even more distrurbing. The Nazi salute being given by Hezbollah men in the picture is no coincidence. As Prof. Kuenzel documents at length, the Arabs and Hitler got on famously in Hitler's day and Nazi ideology simply did not die out in Arab lands after Hitler's defeat. The salute comes directly from Hitler. The Arab Jihadists are not neo-Nazis but rather surviving Nazis

By Barry Rubin

"Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace." --U.S. State Department report on antisemitism, 2007.

Let's talk about the Nazis. There should have already been more than enough discussion about this in the more than half-century since Adolf Hitler's bunker fell in 1945. There have been hundreds and thousands of books, articles, speeches, and so on about what is commonly known as the Holocaust. But apparently it hasn't been enough, or well enough understood.

The Nazis were not just mean people. They had an explicit doctrine of being superior human beings and of the Jews and others (especially Slavs and non-white peoples, except for their ally, Japan,) of being sub-humans who should be wiped out. Homosexuals and Gypsies would all be killed. Germany would rule the world.

This does not resemble Zionism. To put it bluntly, Zionism as an ideology has absolutely no interest in the world as a whole. It focuses only on building a Jewish state in the land of Israel. It has no interest in defining any other group of people, no global perspective. It has never even argued that Jews are better but only that Jews are a people with the same rights as other peoples. The concept is on asserting Jewish equality, not superiority.

There is, however, an ideology which does have a lot in common with Nazism, though there are also of course differences. Radical Islamism claims that other religions are inferior, that the people who hold them are evil, that Jews and Christians are evil, and that Islam should rule the world. The Hamas Charter quotes a source on this point: "You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind..Ignominy shall be their portion" of non-Muslims unless they convert to Islam."

If it doesn't seek the extinction of all Jews in the world, it favors the elimination of at least half (those in Israel) and the large part of the other half that supports Israel. The Hamas Charter says that only by killing all the Jews can the messianic era come and that Jews are the cause of all the world's problems. Oh, yes, and it also calls Israel a "Nazi-like society." Mind you, these are the people controlling the Gaza Strip, firing rockets daily at Israel, teaching their children by television and in the classroom that killing Jews is their highest duty and honor, sending gunmen to murder Jewish students deliberately, and then celebrating that fact.

Let's return, however, to the original and self-described Nazis to get a sense of what it means to have a Nazi policy. My father's family comes from the village of Dolginov which was in Poland, a few miles from the Russian border. Most of the inhabitants were Jews. By 1941, there were nearly 5,000 Jews in Dolginov, about half had lived there for centuries, the other half were refugees from the part of Poland already under German rule. On June 22, 1941, the Germans invaded the USSR and they entered Dolginov six days later. No one in Dohinov had a gun. No one fired a single shot at a German soldier.

What was the Nazi policy? All the Jews were forced into a ghetto. On March 3, 1942, the Germans murdered the rabbi and 22 other men. On March 28, about 800 Jews were killed. Between April 29 and May 1, all the rest of the Jewish inhabitants, except for a few who were kept temporarily as workers, were shot and thrown into a big ditch. The rest were murdered on May 21. Of 5,000 Jews then living into town, 96 percent were killed deliberately and systematically. And if the Nazis had their way it would have been 100 percent.

The only survivors were about 200 people who had fled into the forest, wandered for days, and finally had the luck to meet up with a Red Army patrol. They were taken to safety in Siberia for the rest of the war. Virtually all of them came to Israel, where they rebuilt their lives. Today, these people and their descendants have the privilege of being compared to the Nazis by large parts of the world, including many who enjoy privileged lives in democratic countries.

This is my great aunt's family on my grandfather's side. Haya Doba Rubin, her husband Aharon Perlmutter, and their two sons, Haim who was 12 years old and Jacob who was 10 years old were murdered. No survivors. This is my great uncle's family on my grandmother's side. Samuel Grosbein married Rivka Markman and they had two children, Leah Rivka, 18 years old, and Lev, 23 years old. All of them were murdered on the same day. No survivors. Here is the family of my great aunt on my grandmother's side. Rahel Grosbein married Yirimayahu Dimenshtein and they had two children, Moshe, 21 years old and Tova, 16 years old. The first three were murdered on the same day. Only Tova survived because she had fled into the forest. That is what a Nazi policy is like. Multiply that by six million for the Jews alone and more for the Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others.

Let's compare this with a conventional Western democratic war-fighting policy. The goal here is to defeat the enemy army but it has been permissible to strike against the economy and infrastructure as well. There is no intent to kill civilians but they may be hit by accident. During World War Two, U.S. and British warplanes engaged in carpet bombing of German and Japanese cities as well as factories where civilian workers were employed. Tens of thousands of French civilians were killed in raids on occupied France. To my knowledge, no Allied soldiers were punished for killing civilians by accident or through carelessness. Nobody was court-martialed for shooting prisoners.

Israeli policy is far more careful to avoid injuring civilians. Most airstrikes are against specific buildings or even individual automobiles. Civilian bystanders have been killed yet far fewer proportionately than has been true for, say, the U.S. or French armies. Soldiers have been tried and punished for actions which, at least in the recent past, would have been ignored in Western armies.

There is no instance I know of in which Israeli units opened unlimited fire on a crowd, even when rocks were being thrown or shots fired against them. Individual targets were picked out. Unarmed people were killed but not deliberately and in small numbers. If Israelis were as their enemies picture them to be, there would be hundreds of Palestinians killed in a single day, tens of thousands in a year. Thus, even if Israel has been held to a double standard, its record has been better than that of even Western counterparts. Only by lying about that record-the norm in the Arabic-speaking world and all-to-common in the Western one-can it be made to seem terrible.

We need only remember what the Nazis believed and did, what Israelis believe and do, and what their enemies believe and do. It should not be so hard to understand the distinctions.


"Diversity training" can be counterproductive

Most diversity training efforts at American companies are ineffective and even counterproductive in increasing the number of women and minorities in managerial positions, according to an analysis that turns decades of conventional wisdom, government policy and court rulings on their head.

A comprehensive review of 31 years of data from 830 mid-size to large U.S. workplaces found that the kind of diversity training exercises offered at most firms were followed by a 7.5 percent drop in the number of women in management. The number of black, female managers fell by 10 percent, and the number of black men in top positions fell by 12 percent. Similar effects were seen for Latinos and Asians.

The analysis did not find that all diversity training is useless. Rather, it showed that mandatory programs -- often undertaken mainly with an eye to avoiding liability in discrimination lawsuits -- were the problem. When diversity training is voluntary and undertaken to advance a company's business goals, it was associated with increased diversity in management.

The origins of diversity training trace back to the civil rights movement and the belief that education, sensitivity and awareness are key to reducing discrimination. While many companies have embraced such training as a way to make workplaces more inclusive and to cater to an increasingly diverse customer base, trainers and researchers note that other companies use "sensitivity training" superficially -- as a cosmetic response to complaints from internal and external critics.

Today, U.S. businesses spend from $200 million to $300 million a year on diversity training, but the new study is one of the first attempts to systematically analyze its impact. What it found is that programs work best when they are voluntary and focus on specific organizational skills, such as establishing mentoring relationships and giving women and minorities a chance to prove their worth in high-profile roles.

"When attendance is voluntary, diversity training is followed by an increase in managerial diversity," said Alexandra Kalev, a sociologist at the University of Arizona, who led the research. "Most employers, however, force their managers and workers to go through training, and this is the least effective option in terms of increasing diversity. . . . Forcing people to go through training creates a backlash against diversity."

Kalev said many trainers and executives told her they were not surprised by her findings. What this means, she said, is that many companies are not just pursuing poor policies, but are doing so even though their own experts know the training is ineffective or counterproductive.

Several experts offered two reasons for this: The first is that businesses are responding rationally to the legal environment, since several Supreme Court rulings have held that companies with mandatory diversity training are in a stronger position if they face a discrimination lawsuit. Second, many companies -- with the implicit cooperation of diversity trainers -- find it easier to offer exercises that serve public relations goals, rather than to embrace real change.

"They are more symbolic than substantive," said Lauren Edelman, a University of California professor of law and sociology, who independently reviewed Kalev's study. "It is a response to the general legal environment and the fact organizations copy one another."

Longtime diversity trainer Billy Vaughn said the results match what he has seen in practice. Vaughn is the co-founder of the national firm Diversity Training University International, which has been hired by organizations including wireless phone giant Qualcomm and the Central Intelligence Agency. "If they are doing it for legal protection, they don't care" whether the training works, he said. It was hardly surprising that training could have counterproductive effects, he added, when the attitude often is, "Just do it, and just do it as cheaply as possible."

Kalev's latest research, which is not yet published, is the second comprehensive analysis that she and her colleagues have done. Her initial study, published in 2006 in the American Sociological Review when she was at the University of California at Berkeley, was the first systematic assessment of diversity training. It found that such training had minimal benefits.

Her new work sought to tease apart what works from what does not. Both studies compared reports that companies filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about the number of women and people of color in management positions with survey data about whether the firms offered diversity training.

All companies with more than 100 workers and federal contractors with more than 50 workers must submit the EEOC reports. To encourage participation in her survey, Kalev promised not to disclose the names of the companies. "Executives must treat diversity like any other business goal and put someone in charge," Kalev said. When companies believe diverse workplaces give them a competitive advantage, they go beyond cosmetic changes. Companies that appointed task forces with the authority and responsibility to increase diversity in top jobs saw the number of female managers increase by 14 percent, the number of black women rise by 30 percent and the number of black men rise by 10 percent.

Clay Osborne, vice president of human resources and diversity at Bausch & Lomb, based in Rochester, N.Y., said the findings matched what his own company has discovered. Programs that work, he said, focus on the business advantages that come with diversity of thought, and that requires having people with diverse backgrounds. "Most successful ventures in companies are tactics that help improve the bottom line," he said. "To the extent you can get diverse programs and initiatives into that model, you can minimize backlash."

Frank Dobbin, an organizational sociologist at Harvard and one of Kalev's co-authors, said narratives about interpersonal conflict that are sometimes featured in "sensitivity training" can be counterproductive. For one thing, he said, they upset many people, who then actively resist change. But more important, he said, they downplay the importance of organizational structure in embracing -- or resisting -- long-term change.

Women and minorities often fail to get ahead, he said, because people tend to form social groups with others who are like themselves -- and many managers are simply unaware of the talent in their own organizations. Policies that require or explicitly encourage managers to meet with subordinates in different departments can alert managers to talented employees with different social and ethnic backgrounds and help younger employees figure out what they need to do to get ahead.

Marc Bendick, an economist who researches diversity at Bendick and Egan Economic Consultants in the District, said his surveys suggest there is a role for conventional sensitivity training. But he agreed that the training is likely to be effective only in the context of an organization genuinely interested in cultural and structural change. "If you ask what is the impact of diversity training today, you have to say 75 percent is junk and will have little impact or no impact or negative impact," Bendick said.


Buffoonery in "The Guardian"

Writing about David Mamet's rejection of "brain-dead liberalism" in the Guardian (commented on yesterday in Media Blog), columnist Michael Billington offers this groaner on Glenngary Glen Ross:

Given his new-found conservatism, I doubt he could ever write a play riddled with such moral ambiguity

For the brain-dead leftist, it is carved in stone that conservatives are immune to moral ambiguity. This is pure jackassery. Is there anybody walking the Earth who is more morally assured of himself than Al Gore? Anybody who suffers from more moral certitude than Mr. Gore's slavish followers, who insist that their program-and that alone-is the necessary condition of human survival? Anybody remember progressive hero Peter Gabriel singing "I get so tired, working so hard for our survival?" Name Hillary Clinton ring a bell? Ever walked across a U.S. college campus? Read the Guardian? Checked out the latest cover of Rolling Stone?

There's no irony on that cover or in the article. Only hagiography.

In my experience, every red-diaper baby socialist patchouli sponge worth his organic tofu dreadlocks acts, talks, and thinks as though he is in a battle against Absolute Evil. Not the least of these is Mr. Billington himself, who begins his column: "I am depressed to read that David Mamet has swung to the right" and ends it with a lament that Mamet's political beliefs are apt to corrupt his literary talent. Which is to say that he is bothered by the fact that a man he does not know does not share his political beliefs, and he regards beliefs contrary to his own as so corrosive that they will untalent a talented writer. He suffers from no moral ambiguity in his assessment of Mamet's politics.

Conservatism assumes that the world is necessarily imperfect, that our institutions are imperfect, and that mankind is inescapably morally compromised. These brain-dead leftists have, apparently, never heard of T.S. Eliot, Russell Kirk, Evelyn Waugh, Burke, Tom Wolfe, Disraeli, or V.S. Naipaul, no doubt having immersed themselves in the finely shaded realism of Marx and Foucault.

Anybody who ever had a single serious thought about U.S. foreign policy under Reagan or George W. Bush ought to appreciate that conservatives are intimately familiar with moral ambiguity. I know, it's the Guardian, and I shouldn't take it seriously. But conservatives shouldn't allow cartoon versions of our ideas to displace our actual ideas.

Source. See Ace for more.


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, March 15, 2008

APA inconsistency. Deviant behaviour rediscovered

Comment below from Joseph Farah. Note also that the research underlying the latest APA folly is bunk

You know what I think of the American Psychological Association. I think it should have its head examined. Or, at the very least, the likely non-parent who issued the anti-spanking report at the group's summit on violence and abuse in relationships should be held in a rubber room for his own protection and the protection of the next generation of Americans. Murray Straus, who bills himself as "a spanking expert," told the summit he has uncovered evidence to suggest spanking can lead children into risky sexual behaviors and sexual deviancy. He says parents should never spank.

Now what is so ironic about this is that the APA even acknowledges there is something called "risky sexual behavior" or "sexual deviancy." I wish the group would define those terms for us, because it is the APA that rewrote its definitions back in the 1970s to conform with the political agenda of homosexual activists who insist there is nothing risky about their behavior and certainly nothing deviant about it. So what is sexual deviancy, according to the study?

* verbally or physically coercing a dating partner to have sex;

* premarital sex without a condom;

* masochistic sex such as spanking during sex.

I think the S&M crowd is going to have a field day with Mr. Straus and the APA for this one. How long do you think they will be permitted to get away with this kind of hate speech? Imagine - "sexual deviancy"!

Many folks thought it was hysterical when WND columnist Jim Rutz toyed with the idea that eating soy makes you homosexual. The "gay" blogs had a laugh riot with that one. My colleagues in the news business thought that was the funniest thing they ever read. Yet, the story about Straus' research that spanking makes one an S&M pervert has been met with nothing but reverence by reporters and pundits. Listen to this quote from Straus: "If a person says, 'I was spanked, and I don't have any interest in bondage and discipline sex,' that's correct. But it's not because spanking is OK, it's because they're one of the lucky ones."

Let's see, tens of millions of children are spanked in the U.S. and maybe a few thousand people in San Francisco like whips and chains. I'm willing to bet it's the latter who were not spanked. And that's why they want it. In fact, I can prove that spanking doesn't lead to S&M. Is spanking on the decline in our society? Yes. Is S&M on the increase? Yes.

It used to be that practically everyone spanked their kids. That's the way it was 40 years ago. It was normal and healthy. "Spare the rod, spoil the child," was the conventional wisdom of the day, and there were precious few S&M bars around in those days. In fact, no one even knew what S&M was. But with the popularity of Benjamin Spock's child-rearing tips came a decline in spanking. Within a decade, came the rise of sexual deviancy in all forms.

I can prove it another way, too. God says parents should spank their children and be firm disciplinarians. That's really enough for me. But I'm sure it won't be for the American Psychological Association. Members of that group are probably ready to have me committed for taking the Bible quite literally as the inspired, inerrant Word of our Creator.

I actually believe that God in heaven understands human nature better than the politically correct shrinks at the APA - who cower and bend to the whims of activist pressure groups, even to the point of redefining what mental illness is. Imagine that.



By Jeff Jacoby

The slaughter of eight young yeshiva students and the wounding of nine others by an Arab terrorist in Jerusalem last week was a cold-blooded act of evil. It is difficult to make sense of the depraved fanaticism of someone like Ala Abu Dhaim, who calmly entered the school's busy library, took three guns from a box, and sprayed the room with hundreds of bullets, emptying clip after clip until finally being shot dead by an off-duty military officer and a part-time student who heard the gunfire and came running.

Even more perverse and revolting that Abu Dhaim's massacre, howevere, was the behavior that followed it. In Gaza, the news that unarmed Jewish students, most of them kids, had been gunned down while at study set off paroxysms of joy. Thousands of jubilant Palestinians whooped it up in Gaza's streets, firing guns in the air to celebrate and distributing candy to passersby. Many residents went to mosques to offer prayers of thanksgiving before joining the festivities. Television cameras recorded the revelry; you can see it for yourself on YouTube.

Hamas, the terror organization that controls Gaza, issued a statement applauding the bloodshed. "We bless the [Jerusalem] operation," it said. "It will not be the last."

Hamas is monstrous, but give it this much: It makes no secret of its bloodlust. The same cannot always be said of Fatah, the other main faction in the Palestinian Authority. Fatah is headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, whose polished spokesman, Saeb Erekat, was quick to assure journalists -- in English, for Western consumption -- that Abbas condemned the killings and "reiterated his condemnation of all attacks that target civilians, whether they are Palestinians or Israelis."

Yet just a few days before the yeshiva massacre, Abbas had told the Jordanian daily Al-Dustur -- in Arabic, for Arab consumption -- that he is against terrorist attacks only for tactical reasons "at this time" and that "in the future, things may change." He boasted of his long involvement with PLO violence -- "I had the honor of firing the first shot in 1965" -- and claimed with pride that Fatah "taught resistance to everyone, including Hezbollah, who trained in our military camps."

Abbas's supposed condemnation notwithstanding, the Palestinian Authority's official daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, hailed the killer on its front page, prominently displaying his picture and identifying him as a "shahid" -- a term of approval and reverence denoting an Islamic martyr. And the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a violent Fatah subsidiary identified by the US government as a terrorist organization, praised the slaughter as a "heroic operation."

Meanwhile, the family of Abu Dhaim erected a mourning tent near their East Jerusalem home, where, amid banners of Hamas and Hezbollah, visitors came to honor the dead terrorist. Incredibly, the Israeli government made no effort to prevent this public display of respect for a mass-murderer; it insisted only that the Hamas and Hezbollah flags be taken down.

By contrast, when Abu Dhaim's relatives in Jordan put up a similar tent to receive well-wishers, Jordanian officials ordered them to dismantle it immediately. The terrorist's uncle was indignant. "We were hoping that people would come to congratulate us on the martyrdom of my nephew," he said. "This is a heroic operation that must be celebrated by everyone." It is a mark of how feckless the Israeli leadership has become that the Arab government of Jordan shows more common sense than the Jewish state in reacting to those who would lionize the killer of Jewish kids.

And that is indicative of the most perverse behavior of all: the refusal of Israel to face the fact that it is in a war for survival -- a war that it will win only by fighting and defeating its enemy, not by clinging blindly to a phony "peace process" that has brought it nothing but terror, tears, and a mounting toll of death.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's reaction to last week's massacre of the innocents was to announce that he would "not give up on making a tremendous effort to take another significant, important, and dramatic step that might bring us to an opportunity for real reconciliation."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry spouted the same drivel: "These terrorists are trying to destroy the chances of peace," its spokesman said, "but we certainly will continue the peace talks." The White House chimed in too: "The most important thing is that the peace process continue and that the parties are committed to it."

Wrong. The most important thing is to recognize that there is a war against Israel by enemies profoundly committed to its elimination -- enemies who regard negotiations, concessions, and all the trappings of the "peace process" as evidence that the Jews are in retreat, and that hitting them even harder will bring victory even closer. That is why there was such jubilation in Gaza. And why last week's atrocity in Jerusalem was only the latest such horror -- not the last.


Hillary's Scheme to Revamp the Traditional Family

Hillary Clinton's personal life has long made a mockery of traditional family values - her betrothal to a serial womanizer, the refusal to have a traditional wedding, and her smears of the females who later accused her husband of sexual impropriety.

Let's recall her acrid put-down of stay-at-home moms: "I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do is fulfill my profession." And when Jennifer Flowers claimed she had had a 12-year affair with Bill, Hillary ludicrously remarked, "I'm not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." If that's not contempt for women in traditional roles, I don't know what is.

And no surprise, Hillary Clinton's vision for families is, might we say, unconventional. And it's not just her opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment that would define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

Back when she was a student at Yale Law School, Hillary wrote in the Harvard Educational Review that "marriage, slavery, and the Indian reservation system" constitute dependency arrangements that must be abolished. Ridiculing the notion that families are "private, nonpolitical units," she demanded that we "remodel" the time-honored institution. Two decades later she wrote It Takes a Village, the socialist manifesto that justifies governmental intrusion into the most intimate aspects of family life.

And Clinton's 2003 book Living History reads like the autobiography of a woman obsessed with feminist activism, a power-mad princess in a pantsuit. She boasts immodestly, "I represented a fundamental change in the way women functioned in our society."

Remember that Hillary Rodham Clinton, former protege of Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky, is at heart a cultural Marxist. Inducing a fundamental change in motherhood would be insufficient to assure the social transformation that she seeks. Time to put dear ol' dad on the chopping block.

European social philosopher Wyndham Lewis once noted: "The male, the Father, is in all these revolutions, the enemy. It is he that has been cast to represent authority. Therefore in modern revolutionary Europe it was he, the male head-of-the-family, who has been aimed at in every insurrection. The break-up of the Family...must begin and end with the eclipse of the Father principle." So no surprise, Hillary Clinton has trained her sights on fatherhood.

A few weeks ago researcher Anna Sarkadi published a review in the Acta Pediatrica journal on the impact of fathers on children's developmental outcomes. The studies showed paternal engagement helped to reduce behavioral problems in boys and psychological problems in girls. Sarkadi concludes a father's "active and regular engagement with the child predicts a range of positive outcomes."

But Hillary's Living History leans over backwards to ignore any meaningful role of dads. On page 132 she writes about "issues affecting women, children, and families." On page 380 she repeats the identical phrase: "issues affecting women, children, and families." And on page 269 she notes "Women handle a large share of the responsibility for the welfare of their families," again ignoring the essential role of fathers.

Then there's the abortion issue, where Hillary has staked out the most radical of positions, even supporting partial-birth abortion and a teenage girl's right to get an abortion absent parental permission.

Abortion-on-demand strikes a chilling blow to a father's natural rights. As Justice White wrote in his stirring dissent to Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, "It is truly surprising that the majority finds in the United States Constitution, as it must in order to justify the result it reaches, a rule that the State must assign a greater value to a mother's decision to cut off a potential human life by abortion than to a father's decision to let it mature into a live child." Dr. Alan Carlson of Howard University adds cogently, "on the question of abortion, the father is irrelevant, with no more interest in the fate of the baby than a stranger from Mars."

In her famous 1993 "politics of meaning" speech, Clinton called for a redefinition of personhood itself. She told the startled audience, "Let us be willing to remold society by refining what it means to be a human being in the 20th century."

As presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has billed herself as the proponent of "real" change. One has to wonder where her "real" change will lead us -- to the hollow shell of a family structure that all but shuns traditional notions of fatherhood and motherhood?


Australia: Life in black communities very dangerous for whites

Nurses need shelters from attack in black communities but the Leftist State government doesn't want to know about it

An internal Queensland Health report on nurses' security in remote locations in the Torres Strait has recommended that secure "bomb shelters" be provided for staff where they could hide when under attack. The report, which was provided to Queensland Health 16 months ago but tabled in parliament by Health Minister Stephen Robertson only on Wednesday, described the risk level posed to most employees working in the Torres Strait as "very high" or "extreme". As revealed this week by The Australian, the report has not been acted on since it was compiled in October 2006.

Mr Robertson tabled the report after The Australian revealed the case of a nurse who worked alone on Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait. Last month, the 27-year-old woman was attacked while she slept and raped by an intruder.

The full report details how "strongrooms" needed to be established in each isolated facility. "A strongroom is a selected area within a building that has two exits, but all walls and doors are built to a standard that can keep a staff member safe until help (exit strategy) arrives," the report states. "This room should be self-contained and hold emergency bottled water and pre-packed food. It should have several lines of communication ... be able to withstand physical aggression and be fire resistant." The report says that if these initiatives were put in place, staff could also keep patients safe if under threat of violence.

On Wednesday, Mr Robertson said that a bureaucrat in Queensland Health had not passed on the report, but yesterday he asked the Crime and Misconduct Commission to investigate after a former district manager in the Torres Strait said he never received the risk assessment report. Mr Robertson had earlier accused the officer, who has since retired, of being responsible for the inaction on the report which saw it "lie on a desk for 16months".

The Queensland branch of the Australian Medical Association weighed into the controversy yesterday, saying there were clearly unacceptable inadequacies in the safety of health staff working in the Torres Strait. AMA president Dr Chris Davis said his organisation was concerned that Queensland Health appeared to have been made aware of the issues but had decided not to take action. "Queensland Health has a duty of care to provide a safe workplace for its employees," Dr Davis said. "The Queensland Government is very quick to ensure that employers discharge their obligations under the Act but as an employer themselves have not done this."

Nurses in remote communities have issued an ultimatum to the Government, demanding their facilities be brought up to safe and secure standards by March 28 or they will refuse to staff the island community health centres. The Queensland Nurses Union has also said there will be no more single-nurse assignments in island communities, and that at least two must be appointed at all times. If that is not done, they will provide only fly-in/fly-out day clinics.



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, March 14, 2008


Political correctness plagues Australia too. A lot of reports of interest recently. A selection below:

Wicked man mentions racial realities

Small town Aborigines are almost entirely welfare-dependant and have a very high rate of crime.

A mayoral candidate who wants to be elected a "racist mayor" has called for Aborigines to be relocated from his southwest Queensland shire. Kevin Wise, 66, has single-handedly ignited racial tensions in Cunnamulla after he distributed 100 inflammatory flyers quoting his plans to replace indigenous families with "Vietnamese peasant families".

In the flyer he pledges to call on "the Federal Government to offer 25 indigenous families $50,000 each to relocate anywhere away from the Paroo Shire" and for their places to be allocated to 25 non-English speaking Vietnamese families". "I guarantee that within that five years, these families will have advanced this shire's wealth and future prosperity out of all proportion to that achieved to date . . ." the flyer reads.

The man who wants to be "an elected racist Mayor for Paroo" told The Courier-Mail he deliberately asked for indigenous homes to get the flyers. "I let it be known that I preferred them to go to Aboriginal households so that it wouldn't appear that I was running gutless and I was trying to sectionalise the receivership of the documents," he said. He calls Cunnamulla a "dead in the water" community and the Stolen Generations a myth.

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth said the comments were "hurtful" and "incredibly stereotyped". Ms Booth said she could not comment further in case the flyer became the subject of a complaint and possible action.

Cunnamulla resident Maureen McKellar held back tears as she spoke of the devastation she felt when she read the comments and called Mr Wise a racist. Another resident, John Mitchell, said the comments had "stirred up a hornets nest" and the community was now depending on Aboriginal academic Stephen Hagan to file a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission.

Mr Wise yesterday maintained he was not racist. "Every bugger in town is saying what I am saying out loud, but they won't say it themselves - arguing about the dead-end Aboriginal industry and their effects on town." Mr Wise said he wanted Vietnamese families to move in because they were hard working and would tend market gardens in the community. "Aboriginals are certainly not going to put in the hard yards to establish market gardens or anything," he said.

Mayor Ian Tonkin denied his community was racist and said Mr Wise should apologise. Mr Hagan said he carefully considered giving publicity to Mr Wise's vilification but said the circulation of racist comments had to stop. He plans to complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commission.


Leftist Jew-hatred virulent in Australia too

Back to the 1930s and uncle Adolf. Hitler's view of Jews would be counted as wise among today's Leftists, though not among the centre-Leftists who at present run Australia. Once again it is the conservatives who are the best friends of Israel

A bipartisan motion congratulating Israel on 60 years of statehood has provoked division in federal Labor, with one government MP threatening to boycott the vote and union heavyweights accusing the Jewish state of racism and ethnic cleansing. The parliamentary motion is due to be passed by MPs today, commemorating 60 years of friendship between Australia andIsrael.

The motion provoked a clash between Kevin Rudd and Labor MP Julia Irwin yesterday after Ms Irwin questioned why the Government was supporting the gesture, given Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. And today a group of individuals and organisations, including the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, the Maritime Union of Australia and South Australian Democrat MP Sandra Kanck, have put their names to an advertisement in The Australian condemning themotion. "We, as informed and concerned [and hate-filled] Australians, choose to disassociate ourselves from a celebration of the triumph of racism and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since the al-Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948," the advertisement reads.

Today's motion will commemorate Australia's role in the establishment of Israel and commend Israel's commitment to democracy, the rule of law and pluralism. It reiterates Australia's commitment to Israel's right to exist and to finding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Partyroom sources told The Australian that Ms Irwin unsuccessfully attempted to table a number of Amnesty International reports during yesterday's caucus meeting, which she said detailed Israel's alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians. Ms Irwin told The Australian she had yet to decide if she would support the motion.

National secretary of the CFMEU John Sutton said the union was critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Referring to the recent violence, he condemned the "latest slaughter of Palestinians". The man who authorised the CFMEU's participation in the ad, NSW secretary Andrew Ferguson - brother of Labor MPs Laurie and Martin Ferguson - said while he objected to some of the more pungent language in the statement, he supported the basic thrust. He said the CFMEU had no problem with Israel's right to exist.

Sections of Labor's Left have long struggled to reconcile themselves to the party's support of Israel, and the problem threatened a rift between Labor and the Jewish lobby last year. In 2003, Ms Irwin called for UN intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and read an email to the parliament that described the Jewish lobby in Australia as "the most implacable, arrogant, cruel and powerful lobby in the country". The head of the Australia-Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, Colin Rubenstein, dismissed Ms Irwin's remarks, saying Israel's critics in the ALP were confined to the party's fringes.


Victoria's politically correct police force

Too many useless dickless Tracys and not enough robust young men

Fit young men are being denied entry to Victoria Police while the force recruits more women and people approaching retirement age. A 142cm [4'9"!] woman, a 61-year-old man and two men in their late 50s are among the 157 recruits now in training. The recruiting policy was yesterday described by one serving policeman as "political correctness gone mad". The Opposition and the Police Association also challenged the policy.

Police command defended the system, saying the force could not legally refuse any applicant on the grounds of age, gender or height. But some qualified male applicants have waited two years after sitting the police entrance exam and still don't know if they will be accepted. One would-be recruit told the Herald Sun he had been told by police friends his position on the training academy's waiting list fluctuated each month "depending how many women have applied".

Russell Dickson, 24, is 188cm, has a university business degree, works out almost every day and passed the force's entrance exam in March 2006. He has a female friend who is 157cm, struggled to complete year 10 and applied to join the force a year later. She started training at the academy last month. "I know she didn't do as well on some of the tests as I did, but none of that seems to matter," Mr Dickson said.

More women than men graduated from the police training academy for the first time in 2007. Police figures show that 33 per cent of last year's 1098 applicants were women. Almost 52 per cent of the 316 recruits who graduated during the year were women. The number of women in the 11,250-strong police force has jumped from 15 per cent to almost 23 per cent in the seven years since Christine Nixon became the first female chief commissioner. But that number is short of Ms Nixon's aim to boost female police numbers in Victoria to 25 per cent by last June -- and well short of the national average of 31 per cent.

Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland yesterday denied female applicants were given preferential treatment. He said the reason they were being selected in large numbers was because many scored higher than men during the selection process. Mr Overland said there had been a campaign to encourage women to apply, but applicants were treated according to the score they achieved in the selection process. He said the percentage of policewomen in Victoria was still the lowest in Australia.

Assistant director Sue-ellen Zalewski, of the police human resources department, said rankings on the force's order of merit were based solely on results in the entrance exam and a selection panel interview. She said the force aimed to at least reach the national average of female police. There were 250 people on the order of merit who had qualified and were hoping to be accepted for training, and another 1000 at earlier stages of the selection process, she said. She said Victoria Police was the only force in the country with a waiting list. Ms Zalewski said of the eight squads and 157 recruits now in training, 92 were men and 65 women.

The Police Association and the Opposition yesterday questioned the fairness of the recruiting system. Opposition police spokesman Andrew McIntosh said the recruiting policy "should be about equal opportunity -- not reverse discrimination". "It's wrong if the high-jump bar is set differently for some people and not for others," he said. "Reverse discrimination is just as disingenuous as having a discriminatory policy."

Police Association secretary Paul Mullett said the association was supportive of equal opportunity principles, but not at the expense of the best possible police force. Sen-Sgt Mullett called on Ms Nixon to apply for exemptions from equal opportunity laws. "Because of the nature and type of work policing is, we believe the Chief Commissioner should be seeking an exemption to avoid these issues," he said. "She should be given an exemption so she doesn't have to employ people in their 50s or 60s -- male or female -- or people who could be physically incapable of performing all the tasks that could be required of them."

Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission chief executive Dr Helen Szoke said criticism of female police undermined the force's significant gains. Dr Szoke said an employer could seek exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act if they could demonstrate that a physical characteristic would be a "significant and genuine barrier" to employment. It was not against the law for an employer to discriminate if it was necessary to protect health or safety.

Mr Overland said the force aimed to be representative of the community. He said age, height and gender were not a reliable guide to policing ability. "I don't think it's as simple as that. You can't distinguish on that basis. "We've got some big, burly blokes who are absolutely useless and we've got some tiny policewomen who are absolute terriers."

Mr Overland agreed it had been a problem for some smaller members to manage the weight and bulk of all the items carried on a police utility belt -- such as a baton, firearm, radio, capsicum spray can and handcuffs. "We've had to modify our equipment to suit all of the workforce, and we're looking at vests as an alternative carriage system," he said.

Police figures show the oldest recruit last year was 60, the youngest 19 and the average age was 30. Twenty recruits were former police who have been re-appointed. The 61-year-old recruit in training at the academy is also a re-appointee. One sergeant said a 142cm policewoman would have "no hope of carrying everything on the utility belt". "I've worked the past six months in the CBD, and after dark it's a war zone," he said. "A copper that size -- male or female -- would be about as useful as a chocolate teapot." A female sergeant said the recruiting policy was "great in theory but useless in practice".


More black racism in dysfunctional Aboriginal communities

Aurukun Council has moved to sack its new chief after two months amid allegations of racism against white staff in the troubled Cape York community. John Bensch, a South African national who took the job in January, said the violence in Aurukun was equal to that in any of the shantytowns in his home country and that white staff were routinely threatened and belittled by community members.

He remains in the role after the council received legal advice it could not sack him ahead of Saturday's council elections in the north Queensland community. But Aurukun Mayor Neville Pootchemunka said Mr Bensch's future would be decided at a meeting today. Mr Pootchemunka refused to elaborate on why the council had turned on its chief executive, although the fight is thought to relate to staffing disputes and concerns the council was resisting further restrictions on the community's troubled council-run hotel.

``One of the hardest challenges is keeping staff here,'' Mr Bensch said. ``They have been threatened and not made to feel welcome. They are here to do essential jobs, but get little support. ``Some of the local staff turn up to work when they feel like it, leave early. I've been trying to change that, and I think it has caused some problems.''

Mr Bensch said his relationship with the council soured after he tried to hire staff to fill vacant positions, including electricians and carpenters. ``They don't see that it is my job to hire staff,'' he said. ``Things get very messy here very quickly.''

Mr Bensch, a former chief executive of councils in South Africa and New Zealand, said he had had rocks thrown at his car and a window smashed on his second day in the job. ``We have had people walking around the council offices saying get rid of these white c..ts,'' Mr Bensch. ``It is very difficult to get key staff to stay. I would say the majority of Australia has no idea about how bad things are here."

Part of the breakdown between Mr Bensch and the councillors has been over the operation of the council-run Three Rivers Tavern canteen, long identified as a flashpoint for trouble in the community. Queensland Liquor Licensing wants the council to restrict the canteen to the sale of light beer, with food to be served, extra security staff to be put on and opening hours restricted to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. "The proposal has been to increase the price of beer to cover the extra expenses with the food and the security, but council doesn't want to do that," Mr Bensch said.

Mr Bensch said councillors yesterday had to abandon attempts to sack him over his outspoken comments after they received legal advice they had no power to dismiss him because they were in caretaker mode ahead of this Saturday's council elections. "I had a three-month probationary period, so I think they were probably trying to terminate my contract before that comes up," Mr Bensch said. "I think they would have been in trouble as I have to run the election. I'm the returning officer."

Aurukun, on the western side of Cape York, is one of the most troubled communities in north Queensland and attracted international headlines last year after The Australian revealed a judge did not jail nine men who raped a 10-year-old girl, saying she had probably agreed to have sex with the men. Since then, there have been at least two riots, and white staff, including nurses and teachers who work in the community, spend their evenings in compounds or secured housing as youths roam the community.

The work culture in Aurukun has sunk so low the community's only store failed to open one day last week because no staff turned up. Mr Bensch, who has been outspoken about some of the problems besetting the community, said he welcomed planned welfare reforms. "People only want to work certain hours because they risk losing benefits. There are just so many obstacles stopping people from becoming fully engaged," he said.


Aborigines (blacks) spend more on food as intervention bites

That wicked paternalism actually gets kids fed!

STRICT restrictions on welfare payments in Aboriginal communities have led to a dramatic rise in the consumption of fresh food, a development that has intensified Labor support for a key aspect of the Northern Territory indigenous intervention. A survey of store managers in remote Aboriginal communities has found spending on nutritious food has increased dramatically - with six in 10 stores recording more turnover.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said she had commissioned the early survey - well before the 12-month review promised by the Government - to see if the forced quarantine of Aboriginal welfare was working. She told The Australian she was convinced that income quarantining was working to deliver fresh food to indigenous children in the Territory. "Income management is leading to increases in the purchase of food, which is what we wanted to see happen," Ms Macklin said. "What I'm very pleased about is at this early stage evidence shows that families, including children, are benefiting by more of their money being spent on food," she said. "Even though it hasn't changed for everybody, it has changed for more than the majority. I asked for this because I wanted to get evidence to see if improvements are being made. This is certainly some good early evidence."

The new figures put pressure on the Rudd Government to keep income quarantining in 73 remote Aboriginal communities, even after the review of the intervention, launched by John Howard last June, is completed in the middle of the year.

Ms Macklin said only three out of 10 stores had seen no change in spending on food, while one had seen a decrease. The figures will blunt a push by the Left in the Rudd Government, who believe there should be no forced quarantining of income in the NT. They say there should be quarantining only for those proved as irresponsible spenders.

Rodney Matuschka, manager of the Finke River Mission Store at Hermannsburg in central Australia, said food was not the only thing that indigenous people could spend their 50 per cent quarantined money on, but he was finding there was at least a 20 per cent increase in food being bought for children. Mr Matuschka said families could spend their money on DVDs and other products, but he was actively discouraging them from doing so. "Prior to the intervention, people could voluntarily quarantine their money so that they didn't spend it on grog. But it is mostly women who spend it now."


Growing black population drives out whites

Meaning mostly that idle welfare dependants are driving out productive citizens

Nobody in the besieged Iemma Government should be surprised that white students are fleeing state schools, or that towns like Moree, Dubbo and Tamworth are being overwhelmed by the social demands of dispossessed, impoverished Aboriginal communities. Rural towns - even places like Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Kalgoorlie and Wadeye - are urban time bombs. Their fast-growing indigenous communities represent the biggest challenge facing policymakers in Canberra, Sydney and Darwin.

The Herald reported yesterday that a secret report by high school principals revealed that white students were fleeing public schools, leaving behind those of Aboriginal and Middle Eastern origin. The survey raises serious concerns about "white flight" undermining the public education system and threatening social cohesion.

The indigenous population is growing at three times the national average, and governments are failing to keep up with the increasing "ghettoisation" of rural communities as services fail to keep pace with demands for better housing, health care, education and policing. The problem appears to be so immense that policymakers seem utterly unprepared for the impact of the massive demographic change. And nowhere are the pressures being felt more than in schools, where record numbers of Aborigines are enrolling.

The crisis has been well documented by two of the nation's most experienced policymakers and researchers, Michael Dillon and Neil Westbury, in their recently released landmark book Beyond Humbug. It should be compulsory reading for every member of the Iemma cabinet. They discovered that the influx of Aborigines into rural towns has been matched by an exodus of non-indigenous Australians who have moved out, taking skills, wealth and in some cases businesses with them. In Broken Hill the non-indigenous population dropped 5.9 per cent. In South Australia's Port Augusta the decline was 6.8 per cent.

On the growth of the Aboriginal population, Westbury told the Herald: "It is a bedrock issue, without doubt one of the biggest issues facing government. For too long governments have adopted a one-size-fits-all approach which fails to account for individual community needs. We have towns doubling in size every generation, but they are still being funded like communities." Westbury worked with the former Northern Territory chief minister, Clare Martin, before disagreement over policy led to a falling out.

Dillon, an academic and former administrator, is senior policy adviser to the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin. Between them Westbury and Dillon have decades of experience in administration and policymaking. Westbury said housing and education presented the most profound challenges, and if swift action was not taken levels of dysfunction would only get worse. He said the present level of funding would be inadequate for what lay ahead.

He said the fast-growing indigenous population was presenting governments with a crisis far larger than that identified by the Howard government's emergency intervention, which was a response to endemic levels of abuse in Northern Territory remote communities.



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, March 13, 2008

Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'

by David Mamet

John Maynard Keynes was twitted with changing his mind. He replied, "When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?"

My favorite example of a change of mind was Norman Mailer at The Village Voice. Norman took on the role of drama critic, weighing in on the New York premiere of Waiting for Godot, twentieth century's greatest play. Without bothering to go, Mailer called it a piece of garbage. When he did get around to seeing it, he realized his mistake. He was no longer a Voice columnist, however, so he bought a page in the paper and wrote a retraction, praising the play as the masterpiece it is. Every playwright's dream.

I once won one of Mary Ann Madden's "Competitions" in New York magazine. The task was to name or create a "10" of anything, and mine was the World's Perfect Theatrical Review. It went like this: "I never understood the theater until last night. Please forgive everything I've ever written. When you read this I'll be dead." That, of course, is the only review anybody in the theater ever wants to get. My prize, in a stunning example of irony, was a year's subscription to New York, which rag (apart from Mary Ann's "Competition") I considered an open running sore on the body of world literacy-this due to the presence in its pages of John Simon, whose stunning amalgam of superciliousness and savagery, over the years, was appreciated by that readership searching for an endorsement of proactive mediocrity.

But I digress. I wrote a play about politics (November, Barrymore Theater, Broadway, some seats still available). And as part of the "writing process," as I believe it's called, I started thinking about politics. This comment is not actually as jejune as it might seem. Porgy and Bess is a buncha good songs but has nothing to do with race relations, which is the flag of convenience under which it sailed. But my play, it turned out, was actually about politics, which is to say, about the polemic between persons of two opposing views.

The argument in my play is between a president who is self-interested, corrupt, suborned, and realistic, and his leftish, lesbian, utopian-socialist speechwriter. The play, while being a laugh a minute, is, when it's at home, a disputation between reason and faith, or perhaps between the conservative (or tragic) view and the liberal (or perfectionist) view. The conservative president in the piece holds that people are each out to make a living, and the best way for government to facilitate that is to stay out of the way, as the inevitable abuses and failures of this system (free-market economics) are less than those of government intervention.

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind. As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart. These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the f*ck up. "?" she prompted.

And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been-rather charmingly, I thought-referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio." This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.

But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and mobile classes of which I was at various times a part. And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it?

I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama. I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances-that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired-in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests. To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches.

So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long. Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president-whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster-were little different from those of a president whom I revered. Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia.

Oh. And I began to question my hatred for "the Corporations"-the hatred of which, I found, was but the flip side of my hunger for those goods and services they provide and without which we could not live.

And I began to question my distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of my youth, which, I saw, was then and is now made up of those men and women who actually risk their lives to protect the rest of us from a very hostile world. Is the military always right? No. Neither is government, nor are the corporations-they are just different signposts for the particular amalgamation of our country into separate working groups, if you will. Are these groups infallible, free from the possibility of mismanagement, corruption, or crime? No, and neither are you or I.

So, taking the tragic view, the question was not "Is everything perfect?" but "How could it be better, at what cost, and according to whose definition?" Put into which form, things appeared to me to be unfolding pretty well.

Do I speak as a member of the "privileged class"? If you will-but classes in the United States are mobile, not static, which is the Marxist view. That is: Immigrants came and continue to come here penniless and can (and do) become rich; the nerd makes a trillion dollars; the single mother, penniless and ignorant of English, sends her two sons to college (my grandmother). On the other hand, the rich and the children of the rich can go belly-up; the hegemony of the railroads is appropriated by the airlines, that of the networks by the Internet; and the individual may and probably will change status more than once within his lifetime.

What about the role of government? Well, in the abstract, coming from my time and background, I thought it was a rather good thing, but tallying up the ledger in those things which affect me and in those things I observe, I am hard-pressed to see an instance where the intervention of the government led to much beyond sorrow.

But if the government is not to intervene, how will we, mere human beings, work it all out? I wondered and read, and it occurred to me that I knew the answer, and here it is: We just seem to. How do I know? From experience. I referred to my own. Take away the director from the staged play and what do you get? Usually a diminution of strife, a shorter rehearsal period, and a better production. The director, generally, does not cause strife, but his or her presence impels the actors to direct (and manufacture) claims designed to appeal to Authority-that is, to set aside the original goal (staging a play for the audience) and indulge in politics, the purpose of which may be to gain status and influence outside the ostensible goal of the endeavor.

Strand unacquainted bus travelers in the middle of the night, and what do you get? A lot of bad drama, and a shake-and-bake Mayflower Compact. Each, instantly, adds what he or she can to the solution. Why? Each wants, and in fact needs, to contribute-to throw into the pot what gifts each has in order to achieve the overall goal, as well as status in the new-formed community. And so they work it out.

See also that most magnificent of schools, the jury system, where, again, each brings nothing into the room save his or her own prejudices, and, through the course of deliberation, comes not to a perfect solution, but a solution acceptable to the community-a solution the community can live with.

Prior to the midterm elections, my rabbi was taking a lot of flack. The congregation is exclusively liberal, he is a self-described independent (read "conservative"), and he was driving the flock wild. Why? Because a) he never discussed politics; and b) he taught that the quality of political discourse must be addressed first-that Jewish law teaches that it is incumbent upon each person to hear the other fellow out. And so I, like many of the liberal congregation, began, teeth grinding, to attempt to do so.

And in doing so, I recognized that I held those two views of America (politics, government, corporations, the military). One was of a state where everything was magically wrong and must be immediately corrected at any cost; and the other-the world in which I actually functioned day to day-was made up of people, most of whom were reasonably trying to maximize their comfort by getting along with each other (in the workplace, the marketplace, the jury room, on the freeway, even at the school-board meeting).

And I realized that the time had come for me to avow my participation in that America in which I chose to live, and that that country was not a schoolroom teaching values, but a marketplace.

"Aha," you will say, and you are right. I began reading not only the economics of Thomas Sowell (our greatest contemporary philosopher) but Milton Friedman, Paul Johnson, and Shelby Steele, and a host of conservative writers, and found that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic vision I called liberalism.

At the same time, I was writing my play about a president, corrupt, venal, cunning, and vengeful (as I assume all of them are), and two turkeys. And I gave this fictional president a speechwriter who, in his view, is a "brain-dead liberal," much like my earlier self; and in the course of the play, they have to work it out. And they eventually do come to a human understanding of the political process.

As I believe I am trying to do, and in which I believe I may be succeeding, and I will try to summarize it in the words of William Allen White. White was for 40 years the editor of the Emporia Gazette in rural Kansas, and a prominent and powerful political commentator. He was a great friend of Theodore Roosevelt and wrote the best book I've ever read about the presidency. It's called Masks in a Pageant, and it profiles presidents from McKinley to Wilson, and I recommend it unreservedly.

White was a pretty clear-headed man, and he'd seen human nature as few can. (As Twain wrote, you want to understand men, run a country paper.) White knew that people need both to get ahead and to get along, and that they're always working at one or the other, and that government should most probably stay out of the way and let them get on with it. But, he added, there is such a thing as liberalism, and it may be reduced to these saddest of words: " . . . and yet . . . "

The right is mooing about faith, the left is mooing about change, and many are incensed about the fools on the other side-but, at the end of the day, they are the same folks we meet at the water cooler. Happy election season.


Stupid feminist Domestic Violence Laws Recall Jim Crow Abuses

Misty Ospina was dropping off her eight-month-old child at Richard Gibson's apartment when the two fell into an argument. Suddenly Ospina, jealous over Gibson's new girlfriend, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her ex. An hour later the 22-year-old father was pronounced dead at Rhode Island Memorial Hospital. Police have charged Ospina with first-degree murder.

It's no secret that our nation's crusade to stop domestic violence has been a magnificent flop. Researchers have been saying that for years. Three years ago professor William Wells of Southern Illinois University did a comprehensive analysis of domestic violence programs in California. "There was no statistically significant relationship between any criminal justice system response and victimization for either gender or for any racial or ethnic group," he concluded.

Even government bureaucrats see no point in whitewashing the truth. "We have no evidence to date that VAWA [Violence Against Women Act] has led to a decrease in the overall levels of violence against women," writes Angela Parmley, PhD, acting chief at the National Institute of Research in the Department of Justice.

But while abuse prevention programs are simply ineffective in middle-class families, these nanny-state efforts have been a colossal failure in African-American communities.

Domestic violence is caused when a couple can't resolve its differences in an amicable manner, so they resort to physical aggression. And recent research by Daniel Whitaker from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reveals it's often the lady who strikes the first blow.

The problem is domestic abuse programs invest heavily in get-tough law enforcement measures, while ignoring the offender's mental health and drug addiction needs. Take Misty Ospina who had a well-known proclivity to violence. Richard Gibson's mother had warned him months before to leave Ospina or else "You could end up hurt or dead." So why didn't someone dispatch her to a domestic violence counseling program?

The reason is these programs are little more than thought reform classes informed by radical feminist ideology. Browbeating Ospina to give up her patriarchal need for power likely would not have helped her overcome that jealous rage. And no surprise, studies show counseling programs based on the Duluth approach don't work. "Recent evaluations using more rigorous designs have found little or no reduction in battering," reveals Peggy Grauwiler, a social worker at New York University

But while counseling programs based on gender ideology have been merely ineffective, intrusive law enforcement programs are downright destructive. Last year Harvard University economist Radha Iyengar released a milestone study on mandatory arrest laws for partner violence. She found that after these laws were enacted, partner homicide rates shot up by more than a half. Why? Because in most cases victims want the police to simply defuse the conflict, not incarcerate the aggressor. So victims stop calling for help, Iyengar believes. The conflict escalates, and someone yanks a knife from the drawer.

According to FBI statistics, some 300,000 African-Americans, mostly men, are arrested each year for partner aggression. In low-income communities, that's not just a statistic, it's a prescription for financial ruin as families suddenly find themselves without a breadwinner. "Throw the guy in jail, let the prosecutor sort things out," seems to be the prevailing attitude, even when the woman is the primary aggressor.

The problem has gotten so out-of-hand that Aya Gruber, writing in the Iowa Law Review, revealed a modern-day incarnation of harsh Jim Crow policies: "Day after day, prosecutors proceeded with cases against the wishes of victims, resulting in the mass incarceration of young black men."

The long-term effects of arrest policies that set aside constitutional considerations of probable cause are devastating. Last year the Institute for American Values reported that young Blacks may be "losing hope that a good marriage is attainable." As a result, fatherless African-American children are vulnerable to delinquency, teen pregnancy, and economic dependency.

At a February 8 vigil, Pawtucket mayor James Doyle joined family members and community activists who gathered to mourn the death of Richard Gibson, a man who had once dreamed of getting his G.E.D. and becoming a rapper. Sister Eulanda LaFrance lamented, "Now I'm a victim of domestic violence. Now I have two little girls without a mommy or a daddy."

Women like Misty Ospina can be helped. And tragedies like Richard Gibson are avoidable. But first we'll have to get the ideology-bound domestic violence industry to mend its ways.


Watch what you read at work

Post below lifted from Betsy Newmark. See the original for links

David Bernstein and Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy relate an incident involving a janitorial employee at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) who, on his break at work, was reading a book by Todd Tucker called Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan. Judging from comments and reviews, it's a well-told and interesting book detailing the story of an incident in 1924 in Indiana when the Notre Dame football team got involved in a violent confrontation with the KKK.

Well, this employee, Keith Sampson, was told by a couple of his co-workers that they were offended by his choice of reading material. When he tried to explain to them that this was a book highly critical of the Klan and told of the fight of the Notre Dame football team against the Klan and their anti-Catholicism, the complaining employees didn't care. They then reported him to the campus Affirmative Action office which, after an investigation sent this letter to Mr. Sampson.
The Affirmative Action Office has completed its investigation of Ms. Nakea Vincent's allegation that you racially harassed her by repeatedly reading the book, Notre Dame vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan by Todd Tucker in the presence of Black employees. In conducting this investigation, we interviewed you, Nakea Vincent, and other employees with information relevant to the mailer.

Upon review of this matter, we conclude that your conduct constitutes racial harassment in that you demonstrated disdain and insensitivity to your co-workers who repeatedly requested that you refrain from reading the book which has such an inflammatory and offensive topic in their presence. You contend that you weren't aware of the offensive nature of the topic and were reading the book about the KKK to better understand discrimination. However you used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your Black co-workers. Furthermore, employing the legal "reasonable person standard," a majority of adults are aware of and understand how repugnant the KKK is to African Americans, their reactions to the Klan, and the reasonableness of the request that you not read the book in their presence.

During your meeting with Marguerite Watkins, Assistant Affirmative Action Officer you were instructed to stop reading the book in the immediate presence of your coworkers and when reading the book to sit apart from the immediate proximity of these co-workers. Please be advised, any future substantiated conduct of a similar nature could result in serious disciplinary action.

Racial harassment is very serious and can result in serious consequences for all involved. Please be advised that racial harassment and retaliation against any individual for having participated in the investigation of a complaint of this nature is a violation of University policy and will not be tolerated.

This concludes this matter with the Affirmative Action Office. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
As Volokh writes, "If this were a parody, people would have faulted it for being so excessive as to be unbelievable - but it appears to be quite real." Later, perhaps sensing that they had gone too far, they sent him another letter climbing down from the first.
This letter will replace my prior letter to you dated November 25, 2007.

I wish to clarify that my prior letter was not meant to imply that it is impermissible for you or to limit your ability to read scholarly books or other such literature during break limes. There is no University policy that prohibits reading such materials on break time. As was previously stated, you are permitted to read such materials during appropriate times.

I also wish to clarify that my prior letter to you was meant only to address conduct on your part that raised concern on the part of your co-workers. It was the perception of your co-workers that you were engaging in conduct for the purpose of creating a hostile atmosphere of antagonism. Your perception was that you were reading a scholarly work during break time, and should be permitted to do so whether or not the subject matter is of concern to your coworkers.

I am unable to draw any final conclusion concerning what was intended by the conduct. Of course, if the conduct was intended to cause disruption to the work environment, such behavior would be subject to action by the University. However, because I cannot draw any final conclusion in this instance, no such adverse disciplinary action has been or will be taken in connection with the circumstances at hand.
Think about this pusillanimous Affirmative Action Office that gave in to the complaints of employees because they considered the mere sight of someone reading a book about the Klan in Indiana in the 1920s to be harassment. Instead of informing these employees that the university wasn't in the business of investigating what employees read on their break and that it was perhaps a good thing to have an employee of an Indiana institution reading more about the state's dismal history as the center of Klan activity in the 1920s, they gave in to that investigatory impulse that wants to ban any action if any person feels the least bit offended. It's mighty sad that the employees in this Affirmative Action Office don't have either the authority or the common sense to explain to the complainants why reading a book about a historical event involving the KKK doesn't involve racial harassment.

What choice of reading material will be investigated next: books on the Holocaust, slavery, religious wars, the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, imperialism, Indian wars, the Underground Railroad, Josef Stalin, Castro...? The list is endless. If the criteria is that any group whose ancestors might have suffered at the hands of an oppressor can protest anyone else reading a book about the battles against the oppressing group, then we might as well throw in the towel now. Forget ever reading a book of history ever again, because chances are, somewhere in that book would be someone doing something wrong to some other group.

Have we really reached the point where the most easily offended, no matter how ignorant their protest, will be the ones to determine the rest of our behavior? Remember several years ago when an official in the Washington, D.C. Office of Public Advocate had to resign because black co-workers objected to his use of the word "niggardly" even though there is no etymological connection to the offensive racial slur that sounds similar. As Tony Snow, then a columnist wrote at the time.
If this episode doesn't capture the sublime weirdness of our age, nothing does. David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who a) didn't know the meaning of "niggardly," b) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the word's meaning and c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance.
There are a lot of ignorant people out there. There are a lot of people who embrace feeling like victims. Put those two together and defer to their supposed sensitivities and we are losing any intelligent perspective on what civility truly means in this country. The ignorant and easily offended should not determine what civility means.

Freedom Means Responsibility

By GEORGE MCGOVERN (Excellent sense from an old peacenik!)

Nearly 16 years ago in these very pages, I wrote that "'one-size-fits all' rules for business ignore the reality of the market place." Today I'm watching some broad rules evolve on individual decisions that are even worse. Under the guise of protecting us from ourselves, the right and the left are becoming ever more aggressive in regulating behavior. Much paternalist scrutiny has recently centered on personal economics, including calls to regulate subprime mortgages.

With liberalized credit rules, many people with limited income could access a mortgage and choose, for the first time, if they wanted to own a home. And most of those who chose to do so are hanging on to their mortgages. According to the national delinquency survey released yesterday, the vast majority of subprime, adjustable-rate mortgages are in good condition,their holders neither delinquent nor in default.

There's no question, however, that delinquency and default rates are far too high. But some of this is due to bad investment decisions by real-estate speculators. These losses are not unlike the risks taken every day in the stock market. The real question for policy makers is how to protect those worthy borrowers who are struggling, without throwing out a system that works fine for the majority of its users (all of whom have freely chosen to use it). If the tub is more baby than bathwater, we should think twice about dumping everything out.

Health-care paternalism creates another problem that's rarely mentioned: Many people can't afford the gold-plated health plans that are the only options available in their states. Buying health insurance on the Internet and across state lines, where less expensive plans may be available, is prohibited by many state insurance commissions. Despite being able to buy car or home insurance with a mouse click, some state governments require their approved plans for purchase or none at all. It's as if states dictated that you had to buy a Mercedes or no car at all.

Economic paternalism takes its newest form with the campaign against short-term small loans, commonly known as "payday lending." With payday lending, people in need of immediate money can borrow against their future paychecks, allowing emergency purchases or bill payments they could not otherwise make. The service comes at the cost of a significant fee -- usually $15 for every $100 borrowed for two weeks. But the cost seems reasonable when all your other options, such as bounced checks or skipped credit-card payments, are obviously more expensive and play havoc with your credit rating.

Anguished at the fact that payday lending isn't perfect, some people would outlaw the service entirely, or cap fees at such low levels that no lender will provide the service. Anyone who's familiar with the law of unintended consequences should be able to guess what happens next. Researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York went one step further and laid the data out: Payday lending bans simply push low-income borrowers into less pleasant options, including increased rates of bankruptcy. Net result: After a lending ban, the consumer has the same amount of debt but fewer ways to manage it.

Since leaving office I've written about public policy from a new perspective: outside looking in. I've come to realize that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society.

Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don't take away cars because we don't like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don't operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life. The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.



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, March 12, 2008

Pre-emptive censorship is a cross we all bear

London Underground has banned posters for the play Fat Christ, just in case they cause offence. This safety-first attitude is crucifying free speech

There is no undisputed depiction of Jesus, who in the past has been portrayed variously as black, Chinese, alien and gay. Over the years, unconventional representations of Christ and far-flung speculations about his true identity have attracted the ire of the devout and the sensitive. The latest depiction of Jesus to be deemed offensive is the promotional poster for Fat Christ, Gavin Davis' comedic play, which opened in London last night. The poster was refused advertising spots on the London Underground. Perhaps suggesting that Jesus suffered from slow metabolism or indulged in fatty food is the ultimate form of blasphemy these days, when obesity is seen as a mortal sin.

Fat Christ is the story of Jack Taylor, a chubby man looking for his big break in life. His endeavours so far have left him and his pregnant wife so poor that he has to support them by cleaning windows. Jack makes a deal with a top London art dealer to crucify himself. The promotional poster shows Jack tied to a wooden cross, wearing pink-striped boxer shorts and sporting a beer belly. A trickle of fake blood is running down his check and he has a sullen look on his face.

Davis' play doesn't seem to make any serious claims about the way Jesus led his life - it's about a chubby loser-type who ends up portraying Jesus. Other, more notorious cases of `Jesus controversies' involve claims about Christ himself. A well-known example is Dan Brown's smash hit novel The Da Vinci Code, which claimed Jesus was really just a regular human being who married and had non-immaculately conceived kids with Mary Magdalene. This row was topped in 2005, when the BBC televised the musical Jerry Springer: The Opera, in which Jesus appears as a singing talkshow guest. The BBC received 55,000 complaints from a wide spectrum of Christians, censorious media watchdogs, sensitive souls and upholders of politically correct standards. Then there was the `Mullet Jesus' t-shirt, showing Christ with a bad haircut, and, of course, Cosimo Cavallaro's `My Sweet Lord', a nude statue made out of chocolate, which was removed from The Lab Gallery in Manhattan last year.

It is not just `cranky Christians' who are upset by fantastical and playful representations of the Son of God. Others, who believe we all have the right to be protected from offence, come out in their support, even on their behalf. This was the case with the Fat Christ poster, as officials at Transport for London (TfL), which is apparently committed to avoiding offending members of the public, stopped it from being viewed by commuters.

But what exactly did TfL see as potentially offensive in a comic image of a chubby man tied to a cross? Today, when the mullet is unfortunately back in fashion and when it's broadly considered rude to claim that being compared to blacks, gays or Chinese (and, in some circles, aliens) is an insult, what counts as really unacceptable when it comes to portraying Jesus Christ?

Well, the promoters of Fat Christ, who applied for five advertising spots in just one underground station, found out that drawing parallels between Jesus and unhealthy lifestyles is beyond the pale. Davis has said that the poster accurately reflects his play's content and theme and that he doesn't believe it to be blasphemous. Didn't he realise that simultaneously evoking the images of Jesus and all those anti-social slobs who are dragging down the National Health Service, supporting `evil' fast-food outlets and fuelling the food industry's carbon footprint is pure sacrilege?

Perhaps if Davis chooses to do a follow-up play that is less offensive to TfL officials, he could have Jack Taylor look to Jesus for inspiration on how to lose weight. That is what Don Colbert, a Florida doctor, has done. Apparently concerned about the `obesity epidemic' in the US, he advocated the `Jesus diet' in his bestselling book What Would Jesus Eat?. We're told that Jesus was primarily into `natural foods in their natural states - lots of vegetables, especially beans and lentils.He would have eaten wheat bread, a lot of fruit, drunk a lot of water and also red wine.And he would only eat meat on special occasions.' (1) Anyway, who needs fast food when you're able to feed thousands of hungry people with just five loaves of bread and two fish?

As for now, TfL has decided that the public does not share Davis' sense of humour and so it took a precautionary measure, a pre-emptive strike against hurt feelings. As a TfL spokesman said: `Millions of people travel on the London Underground each day and they have no choice but to view whatever adverts are posted there. We have to take account of every passenger and endeavour not to cause offence in the advertising we display.' (2) In other words, the TfL officials censored the Fat Christ poster in accordance with the contemporary commandment `thou shalt not potentially offend anybody, anywhere - ever'.

spiked has on several occasions criticised the prevailing `tyranny of the minority', where it is now enough for a handful of individuals - sometimes even just one person - to cry offence in order for official guardians of etiquette to ban ads, posters and television shows (3). But the Underground ban of the Fat Christ poster displayed the tyranny of no one. Here, no complaint was necessary for TfL to decide that people would be offended before they even had been offended.

This pre-emptive censorship in the name of protecting the public is a worrying display of restriction on artistic expression. And it's not just quirky, fringe theatre plays that get such a treatment. Earlier this month, London Underground refused to allow a poster for a Royal Academy of Arts show on the sixteenth-century German artist, Lucas Cranach the Elder. It showed the artist's nude painting of Venus. London Underground justified the ban in exactly the same terms as its decision to censor the Fat Christ poster (4), and argued that the poster breached guidelines barring advertisements which `depict men, women or children in a sexual manner, or display nude or semi-nude figures in an overtly sexual context' (5). Eventually, after widespread media coverage ridiculing the decision, TfL admitted it had made a mistake and retracted the ban.

So far, Fat Christ hasn't been so lucky. But wouldn't Jesus have agreed that a bunch of TfL chiefs censoring comical and artistic posters in the name of no one is not really kosher?


Hatred of ancestral ties from Britain's bureaucrats

A while ago I was on a plane from Helsinki to London. On one side was a Finnish businessman reading a newspaper written in a script utterly baffling to anyone brought up speaking a Latin or Anglo-Saxon language. On the other sat a young man from New Zealand. He was travelling in Europe and on his way to visit relatives in Lincolnshire, where his grandparents had lived before emigrating.

He was travelling on an ancestry visa that entitled him to come to Britain for five years without having to show he had a job waiting for him. This visa was available to him because he had at least one grandparent born in Britain. At Heathrow, the Finn and I move effortlessly though the gates for EU citizens. The last I saw of the young Kiwi, he was queuing up at immigration control for overseas aliens.

Until 1973, when Britain joined the EEC, Commonwealth citizens were able to move relatively freely in and out of the country. The ancestry visa was introduced to allow those who retained close connections with Britain a straightforward entry route after nationality laws introduced in the 1971 Immigration Act threatened to make this more difficult.

Recently, the Government published a Green Paper on immigration and citizenship that raised the question of whether the ancestry visa should be abolished. This is a consultation document and is not final policy; but since it is the second time in four years that the Home Office has suggested scrapping the ancestry visa, someone in Whitehall clearly considers it to be expendable.

The Green Paper states: "Given that the proposed immigration system provides explicit routes to the UK for those coming as economic migrants, family members or refugees, we need to decide whether a Commonwealth national's ancestral connections to the UK are sufficient to allow them to come here to work without the need to satisfy a resident labour market test. We are therefore asking this question as part of the consultation contained within this paper."

This consultation continues until May 14 so here, for what it's worth, is my contribution. No. It should, emphatically, not be scrapped. How can it be possible to allow, for instance, 800,000 east Europeans - or Finns, for that matter - to come here as they choose, as they are entitled to under EU law, yet deny a similar right to people who share a head of state and carry the insignia of the Union on their own flags?

It is not as though many people actually use this route into the country and most go home in any case. In 2006, only 8,490 ancestry visa holders came to the UK, mainly from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Most of them are youngsters visiting the "old country" to work for a few years before going home. Recently, the Edinburgh executive has been encouraging some of the four million Canadians of Scottish heritage to move to Scotland to offset the declining population and birthrate.

Yet the Government in London seems intent upon making this much more difficult. Under the new points-based system for immigrants, which started operating at the beginning of this month, non-EU nationals will be unable to get into the country legally to work or to settle here permanently unless they are highly qualified or wealthy. There are few Aussie students who will fall into that category.

Labour is happy to invoke our history when it wants to make a song and dance about its commitment to Britishness; yet it is content to dispense with one of its most potent manifestations. The ancestry visa is, after all, a symbol of that historic legacy.

You would have expected a mighty outburst of indignation from Parliament about this, yet there has hardly been a squeak. Only Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, who once worked in New Zealand as a university lecturer, has tabled a Commons motion expressing "shock" at the proposal. So far it has been signed by 43 MPs. As Mr Mitchell points out: "The dominions sprang to our aid when we needed them in two world wars and since. Their inhabitants are of British descent. They are keen to maintain Commonwealth ties and associations with this country."

For good or ill, we are members of the EU and it is part of the deal that all its citizens have an unfettered right to travel to this country, as we do to theirs, to work and settle permanently. But we are so keen on emphasising our European credentials that we are in danger of turning our backs on our own people, who twice in the last century helped rescue Europe from the tyrants who wished to run it.

The cemeteries of France and Belgium are the final resting places for many Commonwealth citizens who lost their lives in defence of this country. Does that count for anything in the Government's "consultation" or is this just outdated, old-fashioned thinking? Mr Mitchell's motion puts this well. The ancestry visa, it says, is a historic and a moral obligation and "even to consider getting rid of it will produce shock, anger and dismay in Commonwealth countries which fought two world wars shoulder to shoulder with the United Kingdom, and have maintained close relations since".

Mr Mitchell says that New Zealand officials inquiring about the proposal were left in no doubt that civil servants and ministers in the Home Office "did not consider themselves bound to New Zealand by historical ties". He adds: "This is an amazing betrayal of the Commonwealth, a failure to understand history, and a brutal incomprehension of loyalties, totally unworthy of officials who claim to be 'putting British values at the heart of the immigration system'." Perhaps at some point on Commonwealth Day, a senior member of the Government could set aside a few minutes to ensure this wretched idea is buried, this time with a stake through its heart.


Britain deliberately creates more dependants on the State

More of that lovely CONTROL!

We all know that governments never do anything just for its own sake. They like to "send a message". It might be about smoking, fatness, booze, driving, community - they've gotta send it. We can't be trusted to know how to behave (unlike ministers, who have no vices). So messages are sent. In Budget week they come thick and fast. Don't drink, shun plastic bags, recycle, drive less. But there is a core message, an important one, directed ever more stridently at the poorest people in Britain and designed to deny hope and resourcefulness. If you are poor, the Government's message is simple: "You are not in charge of your life and prosperity. We are. Trust us. Keep on voting for us or you're stuffed."

The means by which the message is transmitted is the creaking tax and benefit system. Looming changes in income tax mean that those earning more than 18,500 a year, which is lowish but not too uncomfortable, will be better off when the basic tax rate drops by 2 per cent. But given the abolition of the 10 per cent tax rate, coupled with the continuing feebleness of the personal allowance (you can earn 104.51 a week before you start paying a fifth of it to the exchequer - whoopee!), the lowest earners are hit. Those on 10,000 a year will now pay two or three quid a week more in tax. However, says the message, that's OK because they can promptly apply for "working tax credits", "family credits" and other benefits.

However doughtily and responsibly you work for your 200 quid a week, even if you need every penny of it to survive, the Government will make you hand over a lump and then give it back, ceremoniously, via its huge and expensive bureaucracy. The message is that if you are poor, you must be kept in the status of client and petitioner. It would presumably save billions in administration if you just let low earners hang on to their wages; it would also fortify that sense of personal and family responsibility that government claims to like. Applying for state benefits as a fit person of working age makes everyone feel lousy, unless - or until - they are so desensitised and deprived of pride that they no longer care. But the abolition of the low tax band and the feeble personal allowance has made benefit-claiming inevitable for more people, for longer.

In the financial-Sunday-section jungle I noticed something else. It was a warning to buy-to-let landlords with tenants on housing benefit. They are usually paid directly, the money bypassing the tenant's pocket. Now an experiment is being run in nine authorities in which the tenant handles the rent money. Cries of dismay from landlords: "We envisage some, used to surviving on 55 pounds per week... being tempted to use the funds for other purposes."

The author cites problems in Blackpool where "insiders are blaming the scheme for intensifying the local drink and drugs problem". Another difficulty is that many would-be responsible tenants still can't find a "basic bank account" if there is the slightest irregularity in their desperate past. Meanwhile, the effect of this small attempt to trust individuals is, the piece says, panicking landlords in deprived areas into selling and making property prices fall. Well, hoorah; why should poorer people pay your mortgage while you watch your investment soar? Let housing associations buy them.

But to me the mystery is that for so long we have happily lived with this presumption that the poorer you are, the less you are to be trusted handling money. Which can only be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Housing benefit - in this expensive country - is a necessity for many. But being expected to conserve and ring-fence the rent yourself has to be better than being babied by the pretence that your rent is not your business. In the same way it is better to keep your own proud earnings - right up to a liveable level - than to hand chunks over and immediately beg nanny government to give them back.

Designers of welfare may contest all this as impractical, romantic, a recipe for chaos. They hug their barely hidden assumption that if you are poor you are ipso facto feckless: drugged, drunk, dumb or spendthrift. A few indeed are, and need special treatment. But in the wider human context the opposite has generally proved true. The poor are not feckless by nature, but careful. Ask any of the vastly successful organisations that offer "microcredit" in developing countries. They lend tiny sums to families, often women, to start businesses; they charge stiff interest yet their repayment record is extraordinarily high - better than many mainstream banks. History and anthropology do not throw up many examples of poor people wasting money. If we have indeed grown a feckless, helpless client population who can't be trusted, it is state messages that have made them that way.

We hear a great deal about the perils of taxing rich "non-doms", these weird creatures who may abandon London if asked to pay a bit more tax, having apparently chosen Britain as their home not out of affection or friendship but just to save a few quid of disposable income. It is wrong, say the experts, to send the poor non-doms the "message" that they aren't loved. In which case, why is it right to send poor Britons the message that they can't trust themselves but only the State? Alistair Darling could ramp up the personal allowance, make it transferable and turn his mind to ways of letting people keep earnings rather than claim benefits. Pigs could fly.


Australia: Crime epidemic coverup

The criminals are black, you see

AUTHORITIES are investigating the high turnover rate of single female teachers and nurses on some Torres Strait islands amid claims of a sex-crime cover up. Peeping toms, sexual harassment, stalking and even rape are among the reasons most listed by white female workers in requests for urgent "compassionate" evacuation and transfer, a source has revealed. One senior Torres Strait public servant yesterday told The Courier-Mail there was a direct link between a high turnover of staff and sex crimes.

Islands such as Saibai, Dauan, Mabuiag and Badu have a much higher turnover of outside staff than other island communities that offer two-year contracts. "Some of these young female workers are only lasting a few weeks to three months before they get transferred out," said the source, who asked not to be named. "We believe there is a cover-up between the rates of reported sex assaults and urgent transfer of female staff on certain islands. There is a direct link between the two that the Government does not want anyone to know."

As health officials met community leaders on Mabuiag yesterday over the bungled handling of the rape of a nurse on the island last month, it was confirmed the nurse had made repeated requests for upgraded security before the incident occurred. The single health worker on the island complained of broken locks on doors and windows, no curtains and no running water. She was refused permission for an urgent evacuation after she was raped and then had her pay docked when she fled on a flight paid for by her boyfriend. The nurse also claimed she previously spent three days with the decomposing body of a heart-attack victim before a helicopter took it to Thursday Island for post-mortem.



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, March 11, 2008

Citizen revolt forces vote on coed showers

'Gender identity' discrimination ban placed on ballot after petition drive

A recently passed Maryland county law that critics say allows men and women to mix in restrooms and locker rooms has been put on hold until it goes before voters this fall. Officials with Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government say the Montgomery County Board of Elections has certified their petition issue to appear on the November election ballot. The law aims to protect transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and various services.

"We are delighted that the board has validated our petition, containing the signatures of over 32,000 citizens," said Ruth Jacobs, president of MCRG. "We have gotten the sense from talking to thousands of voters across every political and demographic line that the council is really out of step on this one." The volunteer organization needed 25,001 signatures to succeed.

MCRG argues the law "loosely" defines gender identity as "an individual's actual or perceived gender, including a person's gender related appearance, expression, image, identity, or behavior, whether or not those gender related characteristics differ from the characteristics customarily associated with the person's assigned sex at birth."

"This means that a male appearing as or perceiving he is a female, regardless of his DNA, anatomy, and chromosomal makeup, could gain the legal right to call himself a woman, and use the woman's facility in any public accommodation," the group said. The law could violate the privacy rights of the county's 500,000 women and children, the MCRG asserted, since the county's public accommodations code would be revised to read:

"An . agent . of any place of public accommodation in the county must not, with respect to the accommodation: . make any distinction with respect to . race, color, sex, marital status, religious creed, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity in connection with . use of any facility.," the organization said.

The volunteers said accommodations already are defined in the code as "restaurants, hotels and motels, retail stores, hospitals, swimming pools," and "facilities" include "restrooms and locker rooms." The only place that would be excluded, MCRG said, would be areas that are "distinctly personal and private," such as private homes and private clubs.

County officials have told WND they have interpreted the law to mean that showers and restrooms would be excluded. But Theresa Rickman, a founding MCRG member, argues, "With all due respect, if one accepts the council's assertion that the 'gender identity' law does not cover bathrooms, one would also have to accept that the county's public accommodations code never intended to racially desegregate bathrooms. Race and gender identity are both listed in the same sentence."

The county's Human Rights Commission has authority to interpret and enforce the law, and it already has stated "if Bill 23-07 were silent on the issue of public facilities, [it] would interpret the bill as allowing a person to use facilities based on that person's gender identity."

The bill also contains no exemptions for religious organizations, daycare providers and teachers and small businesses, opponents said. The critics contend schools and business would be required to let employees cross-dress if they choose.

"Please be advised that the petition contained more than the requisite number of signatures necessary to place the question on the 2008 General Election ballot. . The petition has also been reviewed to determine whether it meets the requirements contained in [Maryland election law]. . Please be advised that the petition appears to meet the necessary requirements," said a letter from County Election Director Margaret Jurgensen to County Executive Isiah Leggett, who signed the bill into law after it was approved by the county council.

Just days earlier, WND reported allegations from petition collecters that they had been harassed while they were gathering signatures. Officials with MCRG reported Dana Beyer, a senior policy adviser to Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg, D-At Large, had approached volunteers while they were seeking petition signatures and provided disruptions, "telling volunteers to 'shut up' and getting petition collectors removed from shopping malls by complaining to the management."

John Garza, an attorney for the volunteers, indicated one possible result could be a civil rights lawsuit. "I am deeply troubled by these intimidation tactics. Such tactics are commonly used by totalitarian governments. There is no place for this in Montgomery County. This undemocratic conduct is especially reprehensible when it is coming from a senior-level employee of the council," he said at the time.

The organization released a statement accompanying a YouTube video officials explained shows Beyer falsely telling petition collectors and would-be signers they would be asked to leave a Giant food store's sidewalk. The video shows the person telling volunteers, "An e-mail went out; you're going to be asked to leave. Any petitions gathered today are illegal."


Another finding of genetic differences between the races

Differences in gene expression levels between people of European versus African ancestry can affect how each group responds to certain drugs or fights off specific infections, report researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center and the Expression Research Laboratory at Affymetrix Inc. of Santa Clara, CA.

In the March 7, 2008, print issue of American Journal of Human Genetics, and published early online, the researchers used Affymetrix exon arrays to show that expression levels for nearly five percent of the 9,156 human genes they studied varied significantly between individuals of European and African ancestry. The research team took an unbiased whole genome approach and found significant differences in several unrelated processes, especially among genes involved in producing antibodies to potential microbial invaders.

The researchers used lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from blood from 180 healthy individuals. They studied 60 nuclear families, including mother, father and child. Thirty of the families were Caucasians from Utah and 30 were Yorubans from Ibadan, Nigeria.

"Our primary interest is the genes that regulate how people respond to medicines, such as cancer chemotherapy," said cancer specialist Eileen Dolan, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and senior author of the study. "We want to understand why different populations experience different degrees of toxicity when taking certain drugs and learn how to predict who might be most at risk for drug side effects."

But in the process they saw several other differences. Some, including variation in the immune system's response to microbial invaders, were expected. Previous studies have found that African Americans may be more susceptible than Caucasians to infection by certain bacteria, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis that causes periodontitis.

Others were unanticipated, including significant differences in expression levels among genes involved in fundamental cellular processes such as ribosomal biogenesis, transfer RNA processing, and Notch-signaling--part of a complex system of communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions.

"Population differences in gene expression have only recently begun to be investigated," said Dolan, "We believe they play a significant role in susceptibility to disease and in regulating drug response. Our current research focuses on how these genetic and expression differences play a role in sensitivity to adverse effects associated with chemotherapy."

Understanding at the genetic level how individuals within and among populations vary in their response to drugs could improve treatment. The University of Chicago team worked closely with Affymetrix on new technology that enabled them to perform a very comprehensive study including evaluation of expression levels of every known gene


High-flown EU nonsense over terror

US has a right to airline information

When was the last time you let a bunch of potential terrorists into your house? Indeed, when was the last time you let any group of strangers walk around your house without asking them what they wanted or where they were from? You haven't done either of these, of course. You'd be mad not to want to know who they were before you let them in. And you'd have to be especially mad if you had recent experience of people blowing your house up.

Yet for some reason most of Europe seems to be up in arms that Michael Chertoff, the US Homeland Security Secretary, is demanding that some basic background information about air passengers - passport details, travel plans and details of the credit cards that paid for flights - be handed over by airlines before they land in or fly over the US. It is, we are told, an outrage; an offence against our civil liberties and another example of the encroachment of the State on individual rights.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but isn't Mr Chertoff being perfectly sensible? Given the experience of 9/11, of the shoe-bomber Richard Reid and of other Islamist terrorists' attempts to use aircraft as flying bombs, the most basic security precautions surely involve cross-checking passengers' data against suspicious behaviour patterns. Or should the Americans have no rights to keep out people they consider to be a threat?

The latest issue of The Economist adopts the outraged tone of the objectors, arguing that "risking death alongside American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan makes you a valued ally - unless you want to visit the US. Then you are a security risk and have to pay a hefty fee for a visa . . ." Eh? As if the welcome behaviour of some EU governments in sending soldiers to support the War on Terror means that they are less likely to harbour terrorists. Unfortunately, terrorists are not renowned for deciding that they will not operate from America's allies.

The real issue, surely, is not the US; it is why we don't demand the same information about passengers flying over our own airspace.

As for the idea that this is an encroachment on civil liberties, akin to ID cards: nonsense. ID cards depend upon compulsion - whatever mendacious claims the Government makes about their being voluntary. No one is compelled to hand over any information to the US, because no one is compelled to fly there. The solution to this non-existent problem is straightforward. If you don't like America's terms of entry, don't go.


The British Labour Party deserts the British working class

Wibsey Working Men's Club in Bradford was the focus of the opening film in the BBC's new season of programmes about white working-class Britain. Pinch yourself, and the documentary could have been mistaken for a Play for Today from the late 1970s or the 1980s - one of those searing dramas, beautifully made, about being poor and left behind.

Time and tide have bypassed Wibsey, and with it the members of the club, all of them tough northerners who in their prime were the engine room of Britain. Their way of life is endangered. The heavy industry that gave them status has gone; their sons did not choose to join them in the club; and their city, one of Happy Eid and unhappy ethnic tension, is now an alien place to them.

The men, most of them unemployed or retired, held futile committee meetings to discuss their financial crisis, and faced the fact there was little that could be done to keep the club open. Not enough people came any more. It was as simple as that. "We're oop shit creek," muttered one. And it struck me, as they sat in the gloom, rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, that one of the ironies of Britain today is that if these white working-class men were an ethnic minority group - Asian elders, say, or Polish unmarried mothers - their club could have applied to Bradford council for a support grant and had ethnic minorities co-ordinators swarming around them immediately.

If we provide Muslim women-only swimming clubs, Asian football groups, or Ukrainian festivals, then surely we could also spare some local authority cash for a group of relics from our industrial past. Living history, isn't it? Social cohesion. Shoulders of giants, and all that. Give them a grant at once. It's only fair. Now the whole point of this poignant film, of course, was precisely that: to suggest unfairness. Remember the title of the BBC theme: White. To make it apparent that in the rush to multiculturalism, someone forgot to remember that white working-class males are disenfranchised and discriminated against too.

Thus the BBC season, which continues this week, makes a brave leap. It theorises that immigration is to blame for the plight of the working class; for its sense of alienation within its own heritage. Multiculturalism, that state-sponsored form of ethnic diversity, has created dangerous inequalities and segregation.

But is it true? I wonder. Much as I find the BBC's theme fascinating, I think perhaps it is chasing the wrong hare. Many things have made life difficult for the working classes, but most of them relate to global economics, snobbery and the death of heavy industry, rather than to skin colour. That is not to say that we do not discriminate. Of course we do. We are ruder, in public, to the white working class than we would dare be to ethnic minority groups. We call them chavs, or - in Scotland - neds, and we award TV comedy such as Little Britain that eviscerates them. We simultaneously neglect and romanticise them. But this is not new.

For the old white men of Bradford, with no jobs, no money, no future, disempowered in bleak surroundings, the parallels with the political landscape of the 1980s were obvious. In the ultimate act of discrimination to the working class, Britain's engine room was shut down. Steel, coal, textiles, shipbuilding, carmaking and almost every part of the heavy manufacturing sector disappeared; lives and jobs and communities folded. It happened in Ayrshire, Fife, Wales, the Midlands, Newcastle, Yorkshire, Lanarkshire.

And here's news for the BBC: there are sad, emasculated, iron-faced older men, just like those from Wibsey, sitting in rundown bars in every former industrial area in Britain, bemoaning that they're not selling enough beer, that Labour has deserted them, just like every other tosser, and no one wants to come to their karaoke nights any more....

I suspect the answer to the kind of divisions we face lies in lack of recognition. Immigrants have not denied the white working class jobs and houses - the ones they got were the ones the whites didn't want - but what they have denied them is political love and attention. The old working class, you might say, is simply fed up with being ignored.



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, March 10, 2008

The nasty history of supermarket-bashing

Nobody would label today's critics of big chainstores as `Nazis'. Yet their arguments bear a striking resemblance to those of the Third Reich. Comment from Britain:

Nothing better symbolises the strange, topsy-turvy state of politics in the twenty-first century than the ongoing hostile campaign against supermarkets and those of us who shop in them.

In recent years in Britain, the big four supermarkets, in particular Tesco, have been condemned for producing `clone towns', reducing consumer choice, selling unethical goods and strangling competition for smaller traders. Amongst some middle-class commentators, and increasingly amongst the political elite, too, supermarkets have come to symbolise everything that is heinous and disgusting about modern-day life. Supported by very sympathetic and powerful media outlets, including the London Evening Standard, the Guardian and Channel 4, the supermarket-bashers may soon win the backing of officialdom in their effort to hold back supermarkets and limit the benefits they bring to millions of people.

The UK Competition Commission has put forward recommendations to discourage supermarket chains from developing local monopolies and forcing smaller stores out of business. An ombudsman will oversee and regulate the relationship between Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons and their suppliers. It is not just the shareholders and top managers of the supermarket giants who should be worried: these latest interventions could have negative ramifications for millions of shoppers, too. The Commission's ombudsman is expected to have the power to fine companies for introducing sharp price cuts, or for charging new products for shelf-space and `pay-to-stay' fees. Large retailers who do not meet competition standards could have their planning applications refused (1).

The regulatory measures are justified as an attempt to stimulate more competition in areas where particular chains have been dominant. The Competition Commission wants to protect local shops and allow them to exercise greater retail muscle. The problem, however, is that since independent retailers do not have an extensive division of labour, and are weak in their ability to produce economies of scale, the costs of their shelf-stacked commodities will often be higher than in supermarkets. If local shops are guaranteed a monopoly in residential areas, it will mean that a family's grocery bill will increase - potentially by a lot.

In short, it seems that the Competition Commission wants to beef up the profit margins of small traders by driving down the living standards of ordinary consumers. Today's champions of small trade, such as Andrew Simms of the new economics foundation and author of Tescopoly, will no doubt argue that such tough measures are necessary to promote `community cohesion' and protect `the local environment' from rampaging supermarkets - yet whatever garbled language they use to cheer the Competition Commission's restrictions on Tesco and the rest, there is no avoiding the reality that everyday consumers will be forced to pay more so that local retailers can prosper (2).

The mass of consumers has been put in this position before. Many of the Competition Commission's recommendations on supermarkets bear a striking resemblance to those established in Nazi Germany during the 1930s. Of course, shouting `fascists' is a shrill, cheap shot in contemporary debate, designed falsely to discredit political opponents as being beyond the pale. Comparing people to 'the Nar-zis' is also fraught with ahistorical inaccuracies: it is a lazy device in cowardly contemporary debate. Nobody would seriously suggest that today's critics of supermarkets are anywhere near to being Nazis. And yet. there is a peculiar paradox that while Nazi Germany is held up as a symbol of evil today, many of the core ideas and beliefs associated with Nazism, such as the mystical worship of nature and hostility towards Enlightenment modernity, are increasingly commonplace amongst today's radical middle classes. And nowhere is that clearer than in their hang-ups about supermarkets.

The historian and authority on the Third Reich, Professor Richard J Evans, traces the initial electoral base of Hitler's Nazi Party in the Mittelstand - the `people who were neither bourgeois nor proletarian' but who `should have a recognised place in society'. As Evans explains: `Located between the two great antagonistic classes into which society had become divided, they represented people who stood on their own two feet, independent, hard-working, the healthy core of the German people. It was to people like these - small shopkeepers, skilled artisans running their own workshops, self-sufficient peasant farmers - that the Nazis had initially directed their appeal.' (3)

As the Nazi Party attracted considerable numbers of the Mittelstand to its programme, physical attacks, boycotts and discrimination against department and chain stores started to increase. Such street-level chainstore-bashing initiatives `were quickly backed by a Law for the Protection of Individual Trade passed on 12 May 1933', writes Evans. In a similar way to the current recommendations put forward by the Competition Commission, in Nazi Germany `chain stores were forbidden to expand or open new branches'. Towards the end of 1933, the Nazi Party introduced further moves along the lines currently outlined by the Competition Commission: `Department and chain stores were prohibited from offering a discount of more than three per cent on prices, a measure also extended to consumer co-operatives.' (4)

As the representatives of the embittered middle classes, the Mittelstand, the Nazis initially made sure that both big business and working-class interests were subordinated in order to boost the living standards and prestige of the small shopkeeper and artisan. Of course, Britain in 2008 is clearly not in the grip of a deep economic and social crisis in the way that German society was in the 1920s and 1930s. And no doubt there are small traders in Britain today who have lost out to the growth of supermarkets, though the evidence indicates that the retail market is big enough to accommodate both large and small retailers. Yet German officialdom's attack on supermarkets in the 1930s looks eerily like British officialdom's attack, backed by our own Mittelstand, in 2008.

What seems to aggravate middle-class commentators and campaigners most of all is that supermarkets put so many goods within the price range of millions of people, the mass of the population. For them, it seems an outrage that even `the lowest of the low', the poorest of families, can enjoy roast chicken for a mere 2 pounds or buy a pair of jeans for o3, not to mention the fact that even those on low disposable incomes can afford a flight to Prague these days courtesy of numerous no-frills airlines. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Eton-educated cook and organic farmer-cum-campaigner, alongside numerous broadsheet columnists, argues that the supermarket's cutting of prices `undermines the true value' and `meaning' of commodities (5). In truth, it seems that cheaply available goods undermine these campaigners' own sense of moral worth and social status.

Looked at in this way, it seems that attacking supermarkets represents the cutting edge of the middle classes' familiar aspiration to have a `recognisable place in society', away from hoi polloi and their mass-produced tastes. At the same time, hostility towards new housing developments, lionising nature over modernity - and organic over industrialised farming, animals over human wellbeing - are other mechanisms which middle-class radicals affect to appear more benign and, in Fearnley-Whittingstall's words, more `caring' - especially against the sensibilities of `vulgar modernists'. It is not Nazi-mongering to point out that such ideas were once the solid bedrock upon which the Third Reich was founded, which won admiration from middle-class sections of society both within and without Germany; that is simply the reality (6).

Many aspects of German Nazism can be seen as a form of `peasant ideology'. The `Blood and Soil' ideas of Walter Darr,, for instance, which were hugely influential on Nazi thinking, considered humans to be best suited to a simple existence living close to the land, and argued that urbanisation and industrialisation were so decadent and corrupt that `stultifying cities' would weaken a nations' `racial stock'. Darr,'s ideas also influenced the Nazis' belief in the virtues of Kultur, which embodied the folk traditions and craft skills `over the essentially empty products of Western civilisation' (7). Does this sound familiar? Is it really so very different from the complaints of countless commentators today, about mass-produced commodities, the destruction of nature by greedy mankind, and the emptiness of Western civilisation?

The `peasant ideology' also fuelled the idea of Lebensraum -- a space in which the German people could assume their proper, peasant existence. Such a rural idyll for the Germans could only be achieved, of course, by a drastic and forced reduction in the level of Europe's population. Today, too, whether it is the Optimum Population Trust (supported by Jonathon Porritt) or mainstream environmentalists who call for social policies that encourage less breeding, especially in Africa, there is a consensus that there are `too many people' in the world and that a massive reduction in human numbers, preferably through family-planning but possibly through a natural disaster, should be welcomed (8). Of course, none of these population campaigners is calling for a genocide; but they do passionately believe that the Earth is overcrowded.

The social forces driving the re-emergence of these destructive ideas are very different from those that existed in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Disenchantment with modernity and modern life has been an undercurrent in Western societies for 30 or 40 years now. Yet never have such ideas seem so accepted, so mainstream, and so consequential. Where middle-class supporters of small trade and organic farming once had to fight hard for a hearing, trying to make themselves heard over the clash of the `great antagonistic' classes, today the middle classes' strange ideas often seem to be the only ideas in town. Why?

The collapse of a century-old fight between the capitalist and working classes by the early 1990s pushed self-appointed middle-class radicals into the centre stage. So much so that their preoccupations and petty prejudices have steadily evolved into something approaching a `New Establishment', as Tory journalist and historian Max Hastings describes his chosen employers, the Guardian (9). It seems the middle classes have at last `found their place' in modern society, and they don't like what they see all around them.

Their old concerns - that the working masses are getting ideas above their station, that modernity is awful - are expressed in slightly different ways today. In the past, that fear and loathing of mass society was expressed against trade union militancy and working-class political organisations. In the 1970s, for instance, even though opinion-makers were not directly affected by union strikes at car manufacturing plants, for them it was still outrageous that `mere' car workers would not accept their place and get on with being exploited. The fact that the working classes could throw their weight around and put the political class under pressure angered them even more. Who did those oiks think they were?

The days of mass industrial unrest are long gone, of course, but that same exasperated question still haunts some commentators when they examine the modern world. Indeed, the development of a truly globalised mass economy has angered many because it has helped reduce commodity prices and raised ordinary people's living standards in the process. Such an historically unprecedented situation means that many working people enjoy the `good life' in ways that was once only available to the elites and the middle classes.

As a consequence, the old demarcations of social status and privilege are not as rigidly set in stone as they once were. That is why some middle-class radicals are determined to establish new demarcations to separate themselves from the mass of people. Hectoring on lifestyle choices, consumer habits and tastes is an artificial way of visibly underscoring class differences in society. In their screeching rejection of supermarkets and cheap flights abroad, and their lionising of rural idylls, many commentators are creating a new dividing line between the haves and have-nots - that is, those who have taste, and those who do not have taste.

The modernity-bashing radicals are not simply cranks on the fringes of society; they are increasingly respected and listened to by powerful decision-makers across the board. Not only have their nasty-minded complaints about housing prevented us from buying decent homes - now their anti-supermarket campaigns means we will soon be paying more for less groceries, too. Most of us can see that this is plain wrong. But for the opponents of supermarkets, undoubtedly this is the Reich way forward.


Something else that the excellent article above could have mentioned is that item 16 of the (February 25th., 1920) 25 point plan of the National Socialist German Workers Party (written by the leader of that party, Adolf Hitler) also demanded the abolition of big stores and their replacement by small businesses. Just the usual Leftist hatred of success in others, of course

'No' to a Referendum

The British Parliament's vote last night not to stage a national referendum on the EU's new Lisbon Treaty might not, on its own, cost Gordon Brown the premiership whenever he finally faces the voters. But it will be added to the growing pile of evidence that he is more cautious and calculating a leader than many Britons would care to have in Number 10.

The crux of the parliamentary debate was whether the Lisbon Treaty, which Mr. Brown's Labour government supports, is tantamount to the failed EU constitution. The Prime Minister argues that it isn't and that he therefore isn't honor-bound to hold a popular vote, as Britain's three major political parties all pledged in 2005. Yet the reading of many -- including other European heads of government -- is that Lisbon is essentially the same as the constitution that died in the ballot boxes of France and Holland nearly three years ago.

Britain's referendum advocates had also focused on how the treaty will affect London's voting weight in Brussels and its national sovereignty -- vital topics, but ones that allowed Mr. Brown to give the debate a technical tint. It allowed him to argue that "opt-outs" from certain treaty provisions, such as on law enforcement, sufficiently guarded U.K. sovereignty. Most legal scholars couldn't say for sure.

In yesterday's debate, Conservative leader David Cameron fingered the thread that ties this issue to others that have plagued Mr. Brown since he succeeded Tony Blair in June. "We have the courage of our convictions and are sticking to that promise," Mr. Cameron told Mr. Brown in the Commons. "You have lost your courage."

That's easy for him to say, knowing he won't have to face other EU leaders at next week's summit. And to be fair, Paris and The Hague have also been unwilling to let their voters consider the new treaty after they voted down the constitution. But the Tory boss is right. What's really damning is that Mr. Brown seems to be afraid to take his case to the people.


Let's Hope A Majority of the Victims Were Adult Males

I am becoming a tad annoyed at the politically correct media. I first began to be annoyed about this while watching Fox News reporting on the bridge collapse in Minnesota. It was when the reporter said, "There may be dozens of women and children still trapped beneath the bridge." If there are people trapped beneath the bridge, does their sex, age, race or religion matter? This is a tragedy, so let's get busy and save as many as possible. But apparently if the only people trapped are adult males, there is no need for either regret or action.

The vague annoyance I felt at the time returned in even stronger form today when I read a story by Ryan Flynn on Bloomburg.com. The story was about a double bombing in Bagdad which killed fifteen people and injured 35. The story goes on with this vital information: "At least four women were among the victims and many others were teenagers of young adults." Well, golly, that's all we need to know. Why did you bother giving the total number?

Mark Twain has been criticized for including in Hucklberry Finn the statement by Tom Sawyer talking about a steamboat explosion, "No one was injured. One N- - - - -r was killed."Twain, of course, was satirizing the attitude of nineteenth century southerners. But I get the feeling that the news media feel they are doing a public service by spouting this kind of nonsense. And so I am a little ticked off. I only hope that I am gone before the media adopts a policy against rumming obituaries of males over thirty.


Resisting Islamic Law

by Daniel Pipes

Westerners opposed to the application of the Islamic law (the Shari`a) watch with dismay as it goes from strength to strength in their countries - harems increasingly accepted, a church leader endorsing Islamic law, a judge referring to the Koran, clandestine Muslim courts meting out justice. What can be done to stop the progress of this medieval legal system so deeply at odds with modern life, one that oppresses women and turns non-Muslims into second-class citizens?

A first step is for Westerners to mount a united front against the Shari`a. Facing near-unanimous hostility, Islamists back down. For one example, note the retreat last week by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a dispute concerning guide dogs used by the blind.

Muslims traditionally consider dogs impure animals to be avoided, creating an aversion that becomes problematic when Muslim store-owners or taxi drivers deny service to blind Westerners relying on service dogs. I have collected fifteen such cases on my weblog, at "Muslim Taxi Drivers vs. Seeing-Eye Dogs": five from the United States (New Orleans, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Brooksville, Fl.; Everett, Wash.); four from Canada (Vancouver, twice in Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Alberta); three from the United Kingdom (Cambridge, twice in London); two from Australia (Melbourne, Sydney); and one from Norway (Oslo).

News accounts quote Muslim cabbies rudely rejecting blind would-be passengers, yelling at them, "No dog, No dog, Get out, get out"; "Get that dog out of here"; and "No dogs, no dogs." The blind find themselves rejected, humiliated, abandoned, insulted, or even injured, left in the rain, dropped in the middle of nowhere, made late for an appointment, or caused to miss a flight.

Islamist organizations initially responded to this problem by supporting anti-canine cabbies. The Muslim Association of Canada pointed out how Muslims generally regard dog saliva as unclean. CAIR on one occasion echoed this assertion, claiming that "the saliva of dogs invalidates the ritual purity needed for prayer." On another, the head of CAIR, Nihad Awad, declared that "People from the Middle East especially . have been indoctrinated with a kind of fear of dogs" and justified a driver rejecting a guide dog on the grounds that he "has a genuine fear and he acted in good faith. He acted in accordance with his religious beliefs."

However, when the police and the courts are called in, the legal rights of the blind to their basic needs and their dignity almost always trump the Muslim dislike for dogs. The Muslim proprietor or driver invariably finds himself admonished, fined, re-educated, warned, or even jailed. The judge who found a cabby's behavior to be "a total disgrace" spoke for many.

CAIR, realizing that its approach had failed in the courts of both law and of public opinion, suddenly and nimbly switched sides. In a cynical maneuver, for example, it organized 300 cabbies in Minneapolis to provide free rides for participants at a National Federation of the Blind conference. (Unconvinced by this obvious ploy, a federation official responded: "We really are uncomfortable . with the offer of getting free rides. We don't think that solves anything. We believe the cabdrivers need to realize that the law says they will not turn down a blind person.") And, finally, last week, the Canadian office of CAIR issued a statement urging Muslims to accommodate blind taxi passengers, quoting a board member that "Islam allows for dogs to be used by the visually impaired."

CAIR's capitulation contains an important lesson: When Westerners broadly agree on rejecting a specific Islamic law or tradition and unite against it, Western Islamists must adjust to the majority's will. Guide dogs for the blind represent just one of many such consensus issues; others tend to involve women, such as husbands beating wives, the burqa head coverings, female genital mutilation, and "honor" killings. Western unity can also compel Islamists to denounce their preferred positions in areas such as slavery and Shar`i-compliant finances.

Other Islam-derived practices do not (yet) exist in the West but do prevail in the Muslim world. These include punishing a woman for being raped, exploiting children as suicide bombers, and executing offenders for such crimes as converting out of Islam, adultery, having a child out of wedlock, or witchcraft. Western solidarity can win concessions in these areas too. If Westerners stick together, the Shari`a is doomed. If we do not, we are doomed.



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, March 09, 2008

Personal responsibility takes another dive in Britain

Lampposts on East London's Brick Lane have today been wrapped up in padding to protect Britain's clumsy texters. The renowned capital curry haunt has been highlighted as the most dangerous place for mobile phone users to be texting with Londoners frequently picking up injuries ranging from bruises to fractured bones.

Whether it be the perils of walking into a lamppost while not keeping your eyes on the road or careering into a bin after a couple of drinks at a local drinking establishment, the street apparently poses many menaces to dozy phone users. And in order to stem the flow of ailments anything potentially harmful is being wrapped in cotton wool, or at least brightly coloured padding. Brick Lane has now become the first 'Safe Text' street in the UK, with rugby post-like cushioning put around the 10 of the road's higher-than-average number of lampposts.

If the trial proves a success then other capital danger-zones, including Charing Cross Road, Old Bond Street, Oxford Street and Church Street, Stoke Newington, will also be set for some extra padding.

According to a survey of 1055 Britons by text information service 118118, which is overseeing the pilot scheme alongside public space charity Living Streets, one in ten Britons has injured themselves while walking and texting in the last 12 months. Nearly half (44%) of those asked said they would be happy to see protective pads put on lampposts, and one in four Britons (27%) would support a 'Mobile Motorway' - a coloured line on the road to keep texters out of trouble.

Fending off suggestions that the scheme was moving Britain further towards becoming a 'nanny state', Alex Wood, a spokesman for 118118, said it was backed up by the accident figures. "Ultimately you're never going to stop people from walking and texting so this is about pedestrian protection," he said. "We've had one case of a fractured cheekbone when someone went straight into a lamppost and another of a fractured knee."

Polls will be conducted on Brick Lane to gauge the response of locals and a nationwide rollout is likely - with streets in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Manchester earmarked for protection - if the scheme is well received. "We're updating Britain's streets to take into account a modern way of life - perhaps it's time for a change," Mr Wood added.


The above is probably just an advertising stunt but who knows in today's Britain?

Waiting for Wilders

While the Dutch government is trying to censor Wilders, a URL for the movie is being circulated. Please keep your eyes on this one: Fitna the Movie. The film isn't live yet. When it goes live, it is recommended to download it to the hard drive immediately. Islamists can be expected to attack the web site with every means at their disposal, and for sure someone will try to abuse some obscure law to get it legally banned, too.

Interesting times. Politicians have a duty to protect our civil liberties, but that seems all but forgotten in the Netherlands. There must be many others beside Wilders who can be pursuaded into a little risk-taking for this purpose.


Word is that the movie will be released on the Internet only after being broadcast in the Netherlands. The government is causing trouble over this, calling Wilders in for a "friendly talk" to talk him out of publishing his movie, and themselves out of having to protect freedom of expression.

Other EU countries are considering reactions towards Netherlands for this act of attempted censorship, which is an affront violation of fundamental European principles. But keep checking that URL. The fabled movie just might show up.


Islam and Its Critics

The latest clash between the West and the Muslim world is taking place in the Netherlands, where a yet-to-be-released film critical of Islam has already stirred protests in Afghanistan and caused a world-wide outage of YouTube when Pakistan tried to block a brief clip. No one wants a repeat of the Danish cartoon controversy, but suppressing the film, as some in Holland and the Muslim world are urging, amounts to political blackmail.

The film is by Geert Wilders, an anti-immigration Member of the Dutch Parliament who has warned about a "tsunami of Islamization" in the Netherlands, home to nearly one million Muslims. Mr. Wilders has also called the Quran a "fascist" book and Islam a "retarded culture," and his 15-minute movie is likely to contain more such distasteful commentary. He says he will post it on the Web this month if he can't find anyone willing to broadcast it.

Much as Salman Rushdie received death threats over a book few of his would-be assassins had read, Mr. Wilders has received death threats over a film no one has seen. He has been living under police protection since filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered four years ago by a Muslim radical for making a movie critical of Islam's treatment of women. The Dutch antiterror coordinator has told him that he may have to go into hiding abroad once his film is released.

The Dutch government has been holding crisis meetings since November about a possible Islamic backlash to Mr. Wilders's film. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende warned last week that the Netherlands risks economic sanctions and attacks on its citizens and businesses at home and abroad if the film is released. NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who is Dutch, said Sunday that he is worried about Dutch troops in Afghanistan.

Several Dutch business organizations have called on Mr. Wilders not to release the film, and some at The Hague also favor self-censorship. Dutch newspapers report that several Muslim countries are pressuring the Prime Minister to suppress the movie -- though how the leader of a democracy could accomplish that even if he wanted to is left unsaid.

In any case, Mr. Balkenende is already blaming Mr. Wilders for any possible violence. "When you see how the reactions have been at home and abroad, what the risks could be of this film, then there's one person who must answer for it and that is Mr. Wilders himself," he said last week. So much for the Dutch tradition of political tolerance.

The Netherlands is not the only European country facing an Islamic threat to civil liberties, and it would be nice to think the European Union would show some solidarity here. But, as during the Danish cartoon crisis, there's mostly silence from Brussels. An exception is a proposal last week by the EU's top justice official to provide security for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian threatened over her criticism of radical Islam, and other similarly threatened officials, presumably including Mr. Wilders.

Mr. Wilders says he has every right to broadcast his film, and he is correct. Freedom of speech is not without limits, but there is no indication that the movie crosses the line to illegal incitement. It's hard not to wonder whether those who want to silence Mr. Wilders would consider shouting "jihad" in a crowded mosque an incitement to violence.

In any case, banning a film no one has seen is hardly a way to defend liberty or explain Western values to those who are new to them. Muslim organizations have already filed complaints against Mr. Wilders for some of his previous statements. Fair enough. They are free to do so again over his film -- just as anyone, Muslim or not, is free to ignore it.


Will the British ID card be Britain's biggest bureaucratic bungle yet?

Comment by Ian Angell, Professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics

The ID card project is still on track - more or less. Jacqui Smith is just the latest in a long line of Home Office ministers to sell us the benefits of ID cards, while casually informing us of the latest rise in costs or slippage in its implementation schedule. Ms Smith is also yet another Home Secretary who subscribes to the "pixie dust" school of technology: computation is a magic substance to be sprinkled over problems, that, hey presto, then vanish. Little wonder that Britain has an appalling record in government IT projects.

The ID project is one of the biggest computer systems envisaged - far more complex than the failing NHS system. And it's another disaster waiting to happen. Still the politicians naively claim there will be no problems: it will be totally secure because of biometrics. Apparently iris scans, fingerprints, face-recognition software will all work perfectly, be amazingly cheap to implement - and all foolproof. It must be true, as they've been told this by those selling the technology. Baroness Anelay of St Johns, with a group of parliamentarians, was once given a demonstration of a facial recognition system. It failed; indeed the system subsequently crashed, twice. The reason? The baroness was told her face was "too bland".

The only property that all systems have in common is that they fail. And the bigger the system - 60 million entries on a compulsory ID card database - the greater the opportunity of failure. Systems are much like any life form: they degrade over time, they entropy. In the case of databases, the pick up errors and then build data error upon error. The DVLA in Swansea in 2006, for instance, admitted that a third of entries contained at least one error, and that the proportion was getting worse.

We've all had encounters with computer systems that get it wrong. Barclays once refused one of my transactions because they said I was accessing an account owned by a teenage girl named Ian Angell, who lived at my address and was a professor at LSE. I still had to take a morning off work to explain that a 14-year-old couldn't own an account that, according to their own records, had been open for 35 years.

And however scrupulous the managers might be, errors leak and take on a life of their own. They are sampled by other databases, known as "farming": errors, even when corrected in the original database, live on elsewhere.

But the ID project will be different, we are told. According to the rhetoric, an ID card, one central point of reference, will be so much more efficient and beneficial than you having to prove your identity daily, by producing driving licences, gas bills and so on. Its proponents fail to see that if any of these documents is erroneous, then we don't use the one with, say, a mistake in the address to prove our identity. With the ID card, we won't have the choice. Even if the card is not compulsory, all financial systems will converge on it, and anyone without a card faces great cost and inconvenience. Just like Oyster cards on the London Underground, you're not forced, but it's so much more expensive and tiresome without one.

However, the ID card itself isn't the real problem: it's the ID register. There, each entry will eventually take on a legal status. In time, all other proofs of identity will refer back to the one entry. If the register is wrong - and remember fallible human hands will at some stage have to handle your personal information - then all other databases will be wrong too. Given the propensity of officialdom to trust the details on their computer screen, rather than the person in front of them, you will have to conform to your entry in the register - or become a non-person.

In effect, your identity won't reside in the living flesh and blood of you, but in the database. You will be separated from your identity; you will no longer own it. All your property and money will de facto belong to the database entry. You only have access to your property with the permission of the database. Paradoxically, you only agreed to register to protect yourself from "identity theft", and instead you find yourself victim of the ultimate identity theft - the total loss of control over your identity.

Errors won't just happen by accident. It's possible to imagine that workers on the ID database will be corrupted, threatened or blackmailed into creating perfectly legal ID cards for international terrorists and criminals. Then the ID card, far from eliminating problems, will be a one-stop shop for identity fraud; foreign terrorists, illegal immigrants will be waved past all immigration checks.

At a recent Ditchley Park conference on combating organised crime, a persistent warning from the law enforcement authorities was that criminal gangs had placed "sleepers" in financial sector companies, and they were just waiting for the one big hit. The perpetrators of 80 per cent of all computer security lapses are not hackers, but employees. Cryptographic systems don't help if the criminal has been given the keys to the kingdom. Why should the ID centre be immune, especially when there will be nearly 300 government departments logging in. Furthermore, the register will be the No 1 target for every hacker on the planet: the Olympic Games of hacking.

So why is the Goverment so keen to force ID cards on us? Is it because ministers are control freaks who, having read 1984, only saw it as a wishlist. John Lennon may have been right: "Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we're being run by maniacs." More likely, ministers have been dazzled by the myth of the perfectibility of computers.



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, March 08, 2008

Racist Black Congressmen judge officials by the colour of their skin

Two congressmen yesterday said the Department of Homeland Security needs more diversity to do its job effectively, and scolded Secretary Michael Chertoff for not bringing any black or female staffers to his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee - even though two staffers were immigrants and a third was Hispanic.

In what appeared to be a sort of diversity sting operation, Rep. Robert C. Scott, Virginia Democrat, led off his questions to Mr. Chertoff by demanding that the secretary's staff stand up to be scrutinized. Minutes later, during his own questions, Rep. Melvin Watt, North Carolina Democrat, said the point was to prove that none of the 10 staffers who stood met his definition of diverse. "You brought 10 staff people with you, all white males. I know this hearing is not about diversity of the staff, but I hope you've got more diversity in your staff than you've reflected here in the people you've brought with you," Mr. Watt told the secretary.

The hearing was called to examine the administration's record on border security and immigration, but Mr. Watt said diversity mattered for law enforcement. Both Mr. Watt and Mr. Scott are black.

Mr. Chertoff responded that Mr. Watt shouldn't judge his staff based purely on appearance. "I wouldn't assume that the ethnic background of everybody behind me is self-evident," he said.

Mr. Watt took that as a challenge, telling him, "I think I know an African-American when I see one." He asked any staffer who was black or female to rise, then demanded that the record reflect "that nobody stood up to volunteer in either one of those categories." "If we're going to do law enforcement in this country, we need to understand that there's an element of diversity in our country that I don't see represented here," Mr. Watt said.

A spokesman for Mr. Chertoff later said that one of the staffers is a naturalized citizen who immigrated from Russia, one is a naturalized citizen from Iran and another is Hispanic. Mr. Chertoff also had a female officer on his security detail.

Republicans on the committee seemed outraged by the performance and came to Mr. Chertoff's defense, pointing out that most of the staffers were civil servants rather than political appointees. "I certainly don't want this hearing to appear as though we're disparaging people who through 15 or 20 years of service have risen to these positions," said Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican.

The hearing deteriorated from there, with one member trying to get answers from Mr. Chertoff's staff about a letter he had written to the department and Mr. Chertoff objecting. "I'm not going to have everybody I bring into a hearing room questioned," Mr. Chertoff said.


British culture boss criticised for anti-patriotic attack

The culture minister, Margaret Hodge, is facing a chorus of criticism from across the political spectrum after attacking the Proms for not being multicultural enough. The minister said the annual series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall failed to attract a diverse audience and unite different sections of society

Many view the flag waving and patriotism of the Last Night of the Proms as one of the greatest expressions of Britishness and a high point of the cultural calendar. But the minister suggested that it failed to attract all those living in multicultural Britain.

Downing Street was forced into an immediate U-turn and denied that the Government, or Mrs Hodge, had attacked the Proms. Gordon Brown's spokesman praised the concerts as a "wonderful, democratic and quintessentially British institution". He said: "The Prime Minister's position on this is quite clear - he thinks the Proms are a good institution." Privately, Mr Brown, who has championed the values of Britain, was said to be angry that Mrs Hodge's remarks had not been cleared with Downing Street.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, said: "Margaret Hodge is wrong. We need more things where people celebrate Britishness and people think the Union Jack is a great symbol of togetherness. It is a classic example of a Labour politician not getting the sort of things people like to celebrate - culture and identity and a great British institution." Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, said: "There is probably no better example in the world of a series of concerts that attracts a huge audience to often quite challenging classical music."

Mrs Hodge's comments came in a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research think tank. She praised "icons of a common culture" including Coronation Street and the Angel of the North and said culture could enhance a sense of "shared identity", but she singled out the Proms for not doing that. She said: "The audiences for many of our greatest cultural events - I'm thinking in particular of the Proms - is still a long way from demonstrating that people from different backgrounds feel at ease in being part of this. "I know this is not about making every audience completely representative, but if we claim great things for our sectors in terms of their power to bring people together, then we have a right to expect they will do that wherever they can."

A BBC spokesman defended the Proms saying: "We are proud that the BBC Proms is world-renowned for the way it combines excellence in classical music with an ongoing commitment to bringing it to the widest possible audience. "Indeed, this has recently been recognised by three nominations for audience development in the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards."

The Proms were founded in 1895 to give everyone the chance to hear live classical music with low ticket prices. It is the biggest classical musical festival in the world with more than 70 concerts in the Royal Albert Hall over eight weeks in the summer. It climaxes with the Last Night which features patriotic pieces including Land Of Hope And Glory, Rule Britannia and the national anthem.


A sick old feminist

Behold with me the politics of gynocentrism. What a depressing and desiccative sight it is. Just look at Gloria Steinem. From once-ripe feminist icon to idea-barren harridan, she offers nothing to young women but anachronistic man-hate, anti-military bigotry and woe-is-me wallowing. Hope and change? Try harp and whinge. Some things get better with age. The women's rights movement isn't one of them.

In the dark and desperate days of gyno-candidate Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Team Hill dragged Steinem out of the leftist dustbin for a grieve-a-thon in Austin, Texas. The 73-year-old activist sulked about Barack Obama's ascendancy to The New York Observer, blaming voters who "want redemption for racism" and complaining that not "as many want redemption for the gynocide." What does she mean by gynocide? "There are six million female lives lost in the world every year simply because they are female," Steinem asserted, making a passing reference to pregnant women killed by male partners.

Presumably, she's not including the millions of unborn girls aborted around the world every year because of their gender. And nothing in Steinem's record indicates that she's thinking of the untold numbers of girls and women murdered for "honor" in the name of Allah by Muslim relatives. It's Western men Steinem detests. You know, the ones who watch football, whom NOW tried to blame for a mythic rise in domestic violence on Super Bowl Sundays, and the ones who serve in the US armed forces - like that gyno-enemy, John McCain.

As the Observer reported, Steinem launched into a full-scale tirade about McCain's war heroism, peddling a double standard that simply doesn't exist: "Suppose John McCain had been Joan McCain and Joan McCain had got captured, shot down and been a POW for eight [sic] years. [The media would ask], 'What did you do wrong to get captured? What terrible things did you do while you were there as a captive?' " In fact, nasty anonymous fliers in South Carolina did attack McCain's years in captivity, and Web sites have spotlighted the conspiracy theories of some of his fellow POWs.

But it's not just about John McCain. "Steinem's broader argument was that the media and the political world are too admiring of militarism in all its guises," the Observer helpfully explained. "I am so grateful that [Clinton] hasn't been trained to kill anybody. And she probably didn't even play war games as a kid," Steinem spewed, adding that "from George Washington to Jack Kennedy and PT-109 we have behaved as if killing people is a qualification for ruling people."

From Vietnam to Iraq, feminists have always behaved as if serving in the military was about nothing more than "killing people" - even as they clamored to put women on the front lines in combat roles in the name of gender equality. Leave it to the progressive left to smear their sisters after pushing for decades to integrate them into the "war machine." They don't care about the careers of women in the armed services. They care about haranguing Congress on funding for contraceptives and abortions, portraying female soldiers as victims, hounding military recruiters and exploiting accusations of harassment and abuse to undermine military institutions.

American women are the freest, wealthiest, most educated in the world. They are liberated enough to choose someone for president other than a female candidate out of uterus-based loyalty. This should be viewed as progress, not heresy. But the old-guard feminists - the "ruling people" - deeply resent this independence as they cling to what's left of their power base and their shrinking absolute moral-authority card. Like their whiny candidate Clinton, Gloria Steinem and the fading gyno-saurs just can't accept when it's time to quit.



By Barry Rubin

Ironic, isn't it, that radical forces threaten a wide range of violence, sanctions, and other behaviors against democratic states while insisting-along with their Western apologists-that any attempt by their victims to put any kind of pressure on them is useless. Think about it. Every time someone proposes, say, economic sanctions (on Iran or Syria), an international tribunal investigating its involvement in terrorism (on Syria), military operations or killing terrorist leaders (against Hamas, Hizballah, Iraqi insurgents, al-Qaida, the Kurdish PKK, or the Taliban), diplomatic isolation, or even not giving financial aid (Hamas), a chorus of voices says: it won't work.

The extremists, you see, are tough. They believe in their cause. They will not be deterred from their course. So, we are told, we must engage them, hear (and presumably respond to) their grievances. Presumably, thereafter, the West supposedly must give way; Israel allegedly has to make concessions.

The smug, over-"educated," and those trained in "conflict resolution" (who never seem to have resolved any conflict) view the normal procedures of diplomacy, strategy, and power politics with contempt. They maintain that, by correcting misunderstandings, kind words turn adversaries into friends. Pressure only unites the dictator's subjects into unity fueled by patriotic zeal (which sometimes, of course, does happen). But their sole remaining strategy is to give away assets in order to buy (or, more likely, temporarily rent) immunity from imperialist-minded regimes and single-minded revolutionary groups.

Dismissing any attempt to press the Hamas or Fatah governments to reduce incitement or stop terrorist attacks through selective pressure, one veteran architect of failed agreements advocated even more unilateral Israeli concessions, explaining, "Pressure has never changed Palestinian behavior." Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence that concessions have worked any better in this regard.

Even, however, if one assumes radical forces will not become moderate or disappear entirely if subjected to pressure, it nevertheless remains true that sanctions, military operations, aid given only if certain conditions are met, and other efforts can achieve a number of worthwhile goals:

--Weaken radical forces so that they are less able to murder people or destabilize societies

--Discourage states from helping extremists and to be more cautious in their international adventures.

--Undermine their internal base of support, a long-term project.

--Persuade others not to join them.

Costs have consequences, and they are not merely to make people who hate you angrier. This brings us to the new propaganda technique of collective punishment. Radical regimes, Saddam Hussein's in Iraq, for instance, are taught to believe they can continue extremist policies while holding their own people as hostages. "Throw down your weapons or I'll starve my citizens!" Supposedly, the new rules are that Hamas can teach children to view themselves as a master "race" licensed to kill sub-human others and wage war on its neighbor while Israel must provide all of Gaza's needs or be guilty of war crimes. As if that isn't enough, it demands Western governments subsidize that program.

But, guess what? Living under a repressive dictatorship is the most terrible type of humanitarian disaster, helping keep it in power is the worst form of collective punishment, and letting it commit aggression against you imposes both of these states on your own people. If Western people and governments accept this kind of argument, how can the radicals possibly lose?

Certainly, Middle East states don't hesitate to use every bit of leverage of their own, especially when it is totally cost-free. For example, there's the revelation that high-ranking Saudi officials threatened not to provide intelligence warnings about future terrorist attacks on Britain unless that country stopped investigating their personally stealing hundreds of millions of dollars through bribes. Britain acceded, no doubt fearing retaliation or loss of future trade more than preserving a democratic system of laws.

Why should we believe sanctions only work in one direction, against the West? In contrast, economic pressures on Iran regarding its nuclear program, are really biting. In a report for MEMRI, economist Nimrod Raphaeli analyzes the statistics and concludes that Tehran is doing very badly. Even Chinese banks have joined "almost all" Western and Japanese banks in cutting business relations with Iranian counterparts. The central bank of Iran admits that "no direct foreign investments are coming into Iran."

People in Iran can see that the ultra-radical policies and hysterical threats of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have a cost. "Operating under the weight of UN, but more potent, U.S. sanctions, Iran is going through hard economic times despite the quintupling of oil prices in the last three years," Raphaeli concludes. There are costs for Iranians in this situation, "Inflation was running at more than 19 percent in 2007 compared with 12 percent in 2006; unemployment is high in general.50 percent of the population is poor and more than 20 percent live below the poverty line." This does not mean the regime or its policies will change, but they are far more likely to be weakened and reconsidered than if no such sanctions were in place. At any rate, it is one of the best ways to combat "collective punishment" committed by Iran on other countries.

On another front, Syria's apologists say that economic and political sanctions won't work so we might as well give up and let them devour Lebanon. Yet Syria itself uses economic sanctions as part of its campaign to take over Lebanon. The U.S. government has just put restrictions on Rami Makhlouf, President Bashar al-Asad's cousin and Asad-in-chief for corruption. Here's just one of his tricks: Mercedes was barred from bringing spare parts into Syria until it made him sole agent. The regime isn't interested in reforming the economy, only in looting it.

On February 21, the U.S. Treasury "designated" him and other Syrian economic gangsters and their Lebanese accomplices, meaning he cannot do any business or have accounts in the United States. The Syrian regime and its lackeys insisted this was meaningless-though the loudness of their howls shows just how much it hurts them.

But if radicals disregard Western pressures, it is due to optimism, not bravery. They think the West has no guts or staying power. Muhammad Habash, one of the Syrian parliament's sleaziest members (competition for that title is intense) mocked: "We are expecting a lot of such measures in the next six months, but this will not affect Syria's policy. "There is no solution with this American administration, and we have to wait for the next president." They seem to expect that the next U.S. president will keep all his powers locked up in the barracks; that they don't need to gain victory but only have to await surrender. That strategy fails much of the time yet there are all too many cases where it has worked and will work.



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, March 07, 2008

School's bizarre ploy to beat internet perverts - masking pupils with Acid House smileys

A primary school has been accused of being alarmist for covering up the faces of pupils on its website - apparently to protect them from paedophiles. Bizarrely, the images have been altered with the type of smiley faces popular during the Acid House dance craze of the 1980s. The decision was taken at Cann Hall Primary School in Clacton, Essex. Headmistress Clare Reece said yesterday: "The public nature of the internet is an issue we feel strongly about. "Not all parents want their children's picture on there. "You can't say what is going to happen with any of those pictures."

She said that the photographs were printed unaltered in the school newsletter which was sent to parents. But on the primary's website, the children's faces are obscured. The school guarantees the content of the site is "child friendly", adding: "In order to protect our children, we have made the decision not to include any photos of our pupils on this website."

Previously, faces were simply blurred, but newer pictures, including action shots of the athletics tournament, use the smiley faces. However, one child in a line-up of medal winners has been singled out - he alone has been given a sad face.

Children's charity NCH yesterday said that schools were right to be cautious about putting children's pictures on the internet if they were vulnerable or in care. However, spokesman Shaun Kelly added: "The images shocked me, actually. What message is it giving? "It looks very, very odd. If you want to obscure children's faces you can obscure them with pixels. "We need to be cautious about taking images of children out of the media."

Frank Furedi, a sociology professor at the University of Kent, said the school was being alarmist. "Every time a school takes silly measures, it says we see the world through the eyes of a paedophile. "They think that any innocent picture of school children will somehow be subverted and manipulated. "These pictures serve a very important purpose of giving children clear images of their experiences, something they can remember later in life. "Depriving ourselves of these experiences is not only irrational but serves no purpose whatsoever."

However, some parents at the school said they supported the decision. One said: "I wouldn't want my child's face on a disgusting site.' But Michaela Day, 35, whose eight-year-old son, Connor, attends the school, said: "If they are covering the children's faces, what is the point of using the photographs? It's a waste of time."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said that it advises schools to get permission from parents or carers in writing before publishing photographs of pupils on a website or in a prospectus. However, this is not a legal requirement. The school took down the controversial pictures from its website at around 3pm yesterday. A message on the website said: "Our newsletter section is undergoing maintenance. Back soon!"


Socialist Britain: Your government will look after you (NOT)

The shocking truth behind daycare at nurseries and creches: All covered up by deep layers of bullsh*it and pervasive official negligence. So parents are lulled into a very mistaken sense of security

Britain's childcare industry is booming. Every working day, more than a million parents drop off their precious little cargos at childminders and private nurseries. All of them do it firm in the belief that those they trust with their babies are highly-qualified, strictly regulated and genuine, caring people. Terrifyingly, they are wrong. During an eight-month investigation for the BBC1 investigative programme Whistleblower, I uncovered a childcare culture where a new carer's criminal records and references are never checked, yet they will immediately be left alone with young, vulnerable children.

I was initially alerted to the scandal by an inspector for Ofsted (the government agency that regulates childminders and nurseries). She said that, as a parent of two children and having inspected 700 nurseries with her colleagues, she had found only five that she would have let her own children attend. She also said that Ofsted inspection reports - the only safeguards that parents have to go on when choosing a nursery - aren't worth the paper they're printed on. "We are literally skimming the surface," she said. "We are told constantly: "If you don't see a problem, don't look for one. Take a quick look and get out." "The priority for all Ofsted inspectors is to meet their targets. If they don't, they are disciplined. Targets take priority over safeguarding children."

I decided to test these claims by going undercover and getting myself a job in a number of nurseries. I thought I would encounter difficulties since I had no children and, apart from a couple of babysitting stints, no experience of looking after babies and toddlers. Yet I needn't have worried. None of the nurseries with which I got jobs bothered to check my fake CV or fictitious references. Even Ofsted, which at least checked my criminal record, registered me as a childminder despite the premises where I was looking after the children not being at all suitable.

My first job was at the Buttons nursery in Ealing, West London. We'd had a tip-off that its supervision of babies and toddlers was unacceptable. After a cursory interview, I was appointed as a nursery assistant. No one checked my references in the five weeks I was there and even though the law states that everyone working with children has to have their background checked by Home Office agency the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), the all-clear didn't come back until I had left.

Buttons is based in a rambling, 19th-century detached house and caters to the area's professional middle classes. It was not cheap, charging 1,100 pounds a month for a child who is dropped off at 8am and collected at 6pm. On my first day, I was terrified - partly afraid that my secret filming equipment would be discovered, but mostly because apart from a quick nappychanging lesson with a friend's baby, I had no clue how to look after children. As it turned out, no one noticed my inexperience. At 21, I was one of the oldest nursery assistants. Many were trainees and had no idea what they were supposed to be doing. There was no on-the-job training. Instead, we were thrown in at the deep end. At times I was on my own with as many as 13 children, even though the law says carers waiting for their CRB clearance should always be closely supervised at all times. And they shouldn't be allowed to change nappies and take children to the toilet.

With so many children to look after, I could barely make sure they were safe, let alone care for them individually. Instead, it was just damage limitation - I found myself grabbing broken glass, sticks and sharp objects from children as young as three. One day, builders were brought in to fit guards to the radiators because one little boy - weeks earlier - had badly burnt his hand on one.

The other staff told me that the owner, Satnam Parhar, had blamed the staff for not supervising the burned boy properly and that he was only getting the guards fitted because an Ofsted inspection was due. The builders left their power tools inches away from where the children were playing and no one seemed to notice. I spent that particular session on tenterhooks.

The nursery assistants at Buttons were poorly supervised and very poorly paid. I was on about 100 pounds a week - less than the legal minimum wage. It's hardly surprising, then, that many of the staff were less than high-quality carers. I saw two nursery assistants hauling a boy across the nursery by his arm. Then I heard a child being called a "sh*t-bag" and saw a little girl's head being shoved into a mattress on the floor as she didn't want to go. When I complained to the owner that I had been left on my own with 13 children, he refused to accept what I was saying and called the idea crazy.

When I contacted him later, saying I had been undercover for a TV programme, he issued a statement. "The care and safety of our children is of utmost importance. "New joiners to our staff undertake a full induction programme and there are procedures in place to ensure the safety of children. "We take any allegations or criticism very seriously and will investigate these complaints and take appropriate action."

My next childcare job took me to a nursery with the worst possible history. In April 2006, a ten-month-old girl called Georgia Hollick had choked to death on a slice of apple at the Just Learning nursery in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. The inquest found that her death was accidental and made no criticism of the nursery. However, a subsequent investigation by Ofsted found that children's health and safety were being compromised at the nursery. Nevertheless, it was allowed to reopen less than a month after her death. One day, I had to stop babies eating - and potentially choking on - small Christmas decorations that a member of staff had placed in the sandpit. It was unbelievable that just 19 months after a baby choked to death at this nursery, such chances were still being taken with child safety.

Within days of the result of my investigation being put to them, Just Learning closed the Cambourne nursery and issued a statement saying: "The company has found that its rigorous policies and procedures have been seriously breached in this case and this was one factor considered when it decided to close this nursery. "The issues at Cambourne are isolated to this one nursery." But this still left the question of why such a failing nursery had previously survived a very critical Ofsted report following the death of a young child in its care.

The BBC has been given an internal Ofsted document that refers to the Tory MP Michael Fallon, who was managing director of Just Learning at the time of Georgia Hollick's death. A passage says: "If we cancel this particular setting [nursery] then there are implications for Michael Fallon as he would be automatically disqualified [from running it]." Mr Fallon has since responded, saying: "This is news for me and a matter for Ofsted. I have had no discussions with Ofsted about the fatal accident at Cambourne. "I resigned as MD immediately afterwards. "I strongly endorse the decision of the Board to close the nursery. The breach of the company's procedures was completely unacceptable."

After these two nurseries, I decided to investigate the self-styled upper end of the child-minding business, where I soon realised that the problems are not confined to our own shores. Mark Warner operates at the top of the holiday market, charging up to 8,000 for two weeks abroad for a family of four. It makes a point of offering "award-winning" childcare. That award-winning care didn't extend to checking my CV, contacting my references, doing a criminal records check or even asking to see some basic ID. Again, I could have been anyone.

I worked at Mark Warner's swanky Hilton resort in Dahab, Egypt, where the luxurious hotel rooms are built to resemble a traditional whitewashed Arab village. Despite being promised two days' training at the interview, I was thrown straight in with a group of toddlers. Once, there were two of us looking after 13 children - when Mark Warner's own regulations state there should be no more than six per adult. When I asked about my training, the manager just said: "You don't get official training as such. It's very relaxed, very laid-back here." This is unlikely to be the approach parents think they are paying for.

Next, I was asked to supervise the children on the beach. Again, no one had checked if I had any swimming or rescue qualifications. Even more worrying, I had to take children out on a boat without enough safety gear for all of them. When I raised the issue with my manager, he told me to go ahead with the boat trip anyway. Also, for such a prestigious company with an upmarket reputation, Mark Warner has a very cavalier attitude to the employment laws of the countries where it operates, and is not controlled by Ofsted. Like many of its staff in Dahab, I was there on a tourist visa. Mark Warner should have paid for work permits but instead had us break Egyptian law on their behalf. We were told we should just lie and say we were there on holiday, but Egypt is not the kind of country-where you want to end up in prison.

Three weeks after I returned from Egypt, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from a Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz in Portugal made headlines around the world. No one blamed the company or its staff for the little girl's disappearance, but given the case, I assumed the company would toughen up its vetting of nannies. To test this out, a BBC colleague applied for a Mark Warner childcare job and was sent to an upmarket French ski resort.

Her false CV went unchecked and, months after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the company still didn't do a CRB check before she started work. Later, I recounted my experiences to Mark Warner's managing director. He refused to be interviewed but issued a statement that said: "It is company policy that all childcare staff employed by Mark Warner must supply two references and submit a form to check their criminal record. "There were clearly two occasions where we failed to do this. That is completely unacceptable and we apologise. "We have now reviewed and strengthened our procedures."

For the final part of my investigation, I discovered that even an inexperienced 21-year old with no qualifications can also fool Ofsted. I borrowed a large house, made no alterations to accommodate young children - despite the fact that no youngster had lived there for 20 years - and applied for a childminder's licence. I admitted to the Ofsted inspector who visited that I had no fireguard, no first aid kit, no stairgates, no safety glass or socket covers. I didn't even have a table for the children to sit at. The building was completely unsuitable. But I did say I had a wish-list containing all those items and planned to install them. That was enough for the inspector and I got the go-ahead. No one ever came back to check up that I had put them in place.

When contacted, Ofsted said in a statement that it would consider making improvements based on the findings that I had uncovered. But it said: "Ours is the most intensive inspection and monitoring system in Europe. Our inspections of nurseries and childminders are rigorous and the vast majority of our inspectors are highly skilled professionals who do a good job. Ofsted is independent. We report without fear or favour." I don't yet have children but having seen what I've seen, I can't imagine I'll ever risk putting my own into childcare.



War on Want, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Keshev, I'lam and ICAHD, (whose funders include the EU, Finnish and British governments, and NIF ), are joining a number of extremist NGOs to promote "Israeli Apartheid week."

Israeli Apartheid week (IAW) was first held in Canada in 2004. In 2008 it encompasses events in Canada, Mexico, South Africa, the UK, the USA and the Palestinian Territories. Its stated aim, in line with the NGO declaration from the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism in Durban, is "to create a widespread awareness of Israeli apartheid and to bolster support for the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign." The organizers assert the "imperative of" "isolat[ing] the Israeli apartheid regime."

Despite serious critiques of such "apartheid" rhetoric, many NGOs continue to use it as a political tool to delegitimize the existence of Israel. War on Want (WoW), which is funded by the UK and Irish governments, featured in Warwick University's program. On February 7, 2008, WoW's Senior Global Justice Campaigner, Ruth Tanner spoke on "Resistance day': `Resisting the occupation: should we bother?" Berkely University, exhibited an ICAHD photographic display and Linda Ramsden, Chair of ICAHD UK is a listed speaker of the UK event. Rochama Marton, founder and President of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), which receives money from the EU and Finnish Embassy among others, addressed a panel at the UK university, SOAS on February 11, 2008. On February 14, SOAS will also host a panel on "Media and Normalising Israeli Apartheid," which lists Yizhar Be'er, Executive Director of Keshev and former executive director of B'Tselem, and Haneen Zoubi, General Director of NIF and British council-funded I'lam, as speakers.

IAW's material selects and distorts facts to support its destructive political agenda, including baseless claims of "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians, the "720 km long concrete wall", and that "[t]orture is used against virtually every Palestinian arrested." The participation of NGOs, funded by governments and the NIF, which claim to promote universal human rights, in an event which distorts these values to demonize Israel, is highly troubling.


Ethnic nationalism still matters

By Patrick J. Buchanan

In Africa last week, President Bush deplored the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s, defended his refusal to send U.S. troops to Darfur and decried the ethnic slaughter in Kenya. Following a fraudulent election, the Kikyu, the dominant tribe in Kenya, have been subjected to merciless assault. People are separating from one another and butchering one another along lines of blood and soil.

According to a compelling lead article in the new Foreign Affairs, "Us and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism," we may be witnessing in the Third World a re-enactment of the ethnic wars that tore Europe to pieces in the 20th century.

"Ethnonationalism," writes history professor Jerry Z. Muller of Catholic University, "has played a more profound role in modern history than is commonly understood, and the processes that led to the dominance of the ethnonational state and the separation of ethnic groups in Europe are likely to recur elsewhere."

Western Man has mis-taught himself his own history. Writes Muller: "A familiar and influential narrative of 20th-century European history argues that nationalism twice led to war, in 1914 and then again in 1939. Thereafter, the story goes, Europeans concluded that nationalism was a danger and gradually abandoned it. In the postwar decades, Western Europeans enmeshed themselves in a web of transnational institutions, culminating in the European Union."

Muller contends that this is a myth, that peace came to the Old Continent only after the triumph of ethnonationalism, after the peoples of Europe had sorted themselves out and each achieved its own home. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were three multi-ethnic empires in Europe: the Ottoman, Russian and Austro-Hungarian. The ethnonationalist Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 tore at the first. World War I was ignited by Serbs seeking to rip Bosnia away from Austria-Hungary. After four years of slaughter, the Serbs succeeded, and ethnonationalism triumphed in Europe.

Out of the dead Ottoman Empire came the ethnonationalist state of Turkey and an ethnic transfer of populations between Ankara and Athens. Armenians were massacred and expelled from Turkey. Out of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires came Finland, Estonia, Lativia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. In the latter three nations, however, a majority ethnic group ruled minorities that wished either their own national home, or to join lost kinsmen.

In Poland, there were Ukrainians, Germans, Lithuanians and Jews. In Czechoslovkia, half the population was German, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, Ruthenian or Jewish. In Yugoslavia were Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians, Serbs, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Albanians.

The Second World War came out of Hitler's attempt to unite all Germans in one ethnonational home -- thus the Anschluss with Austria, the demand for return of the Sudeten Deutsch, and the pressure on Poland to return the Germans' lost city of Danzig, and for Lithuania to give back German Memel and the Memelland it seized in 1923.

World War II advanced the process in the most horrible of ways. The Jews of Europe, with no national home, perished, or fled to create one, in Israel. The Germans of the Baltic states, Prussia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Balkans and their own eastern provinces, almost to Berlin, were expelled in the most brutal act of ethnic cleansing in history -- 13 million to 15 million Germans, of whom 2 million perished in the exodus.

At the end of World War II, Europe's nations were more ethnically homogenous than they had ever been, at a horrendous cost in blood. After 45 years of Cold War, the remaining multi-ethnic states -- the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia -- broke up into more than two dozen nation-states, all rooted in ethnonationlism.

As Muller argues, ethnonationalism may be a precondition of liberal democracy. Only after all the tribes of Europe had their own ethnically homogenous nation-states did peace and comity come. And what happened in Europe in the 20th century may be a precursor of what is to come in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In China, Uighurs, Mongolians and Tibetans all resist assimilation. Tatarstan may be the next problem for Russia. In the Balkans, it is Kosovo. Serbs there and in Bosnia may emulate the Albanians and secede.

Americans, writes Muller, "find ethnonationalism discomfiting both intellectually and morally. Social scientists go to great lengths to demonstrate that this is a product not of nature but of culture. ... "But none of this will make ethnonationalism go away."

Indeed, we see it bubbling up from the Basque country of Spain, to Belgium, Bolivia, Baghdad and Beirut. Perhaps the wisest counsel for the United States may be to get out of the way of this elemental force. Rather than seek to halt the inexorable, we should seek to accommodate it and ameliorate its sometimes awful consequences.

And we should look to our own land. According to Pew Research, there will be 127 million Hispanics here by mid-century, tripling today's 45 million -- and almost 100 million new immigrants. No nation faces a graver threat from this resurgence of ethnonationalism than does our own. Look homeward, America.



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, March 06, 2008

British police chief: official figures miss out millions of crimes

Surprise! Surprise! Official British statistics on anything these days are about as trustworthy as Stalin's old production figures

OFFICIAL crime figures are "misleading" and "flawed" because they fail to include as many as six out of 10 crimes, one of Britain's most senior police officers has admitted. Ian Johnston, chairman of the police chiefs' crime committee, says the figures used by ministers and police are misleading because they exclude much violent crime and need to be "bolstered" in order to restore public trust.

He said: "People don't believe what the government and the police tell them about the crime figures. "Some of the figures tell the truth and are pretty accurate. But the British Crime Survey [BCS] is inadequate; it's partially misleading. It doesn't provide the true scale of crime in the UK."

Johnston, who is chief constable of the British Transport Police and chairman of the crime committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said the BCS and official crime statistics needed to be overhauled. He said the official figures missed out millions of crimes because of "under reporting". He said the BCS excluded all crimes among those under 16 ? at least 500,000 according to reliable estimates. Many of those offences include muggings, especially involving the theft of iPods and mobile phones. "It doesn't include crimes against people in institutions such as those in university accommodation, old people's homes and hospitals," he said.

Johnston said he had repeatedly raised the problem with ministers and officials, but no action had been taken. He said he agreed with the findings of an independent review in 2006 of crime statistics, which found that 60% of all crime was not reported to the police. According to the most recent crime figures for 2006-7 there were 5.42m crimes reported to police. That would mean a further 8.13m crimes went unreported.


The failure of Latin America

Hugo Chavez's authoritarian populism is closer to fascism; hope for the continent lies elsewhere. David Gallagher reviews Michael Reid's "FORGOTTEN CONTINENT: The battle for Latin America's soul"

Why has Latin America been so much of a failure when compared with the United States or Canada? In attempting to answer this question, Michael Reid's Forgotten Continent looks at all the explanations available. One is so-called dependency theory, developed by economists in the 1940s, which blames "United States intervention and Latin America's subordinate role in the world as an exporter of raw materials".

Then, as Reid explains, there is the idea that "Latin America has been doomed by its culture, and in particular an Iberian, Catholic tradition of social organisation and political thought which, it is argued, is both anti-capitalist and inimical to democracy". Reid also invokes the region's difficult geography, its "Baroque" legal system, its lack of solid institutions, and its deep inequality, which stems from the colonial period, if not before: the Inca Empire was rigidly hierarchical. Reid quotes Alexander von Humboldt, in an essay on Mexico of 1811: "The architecture of public and private buildings, the women's elegant wardrobes, the high society atmosphere: all testify to an extreme social polish which is in extraordinary contrast to the nakedness, ignorance and coarseness of the population" - a stark description of inequality that persists up until now.

Which of all these explanations for the region's backwardness does Reid regard as the most plausible? Always even-handed he says that it is a "mistake to seek a single, overarching explanation for Latin America's failure". The real explanation is to be found in a mixture of all the explanations, in what he sees as a never-ending "contest between modernisers and reactionaries, between democrats and authoritarians".

Reid points out that between 1850 and 1930, many Latin America countries had a very successful run. Their economies were relatively open, exports thrived, and in some countries, democracies looked like consolidating successfully. By 1910, a century after independence, Argentina was, on a per-capita income basis, one of the half dozen richest countries in the world. Immigrants flocked there from all over Europe. Chile was also thriving. German immigrants had colonized large tracts of the south and Valpara-so was one of the world's most prosperous ports.

These successes cast doubt on many of the traditional explanations for Latin America's failure summarized by Reid. Perhaps there are other explanations? In the case of Chile and Argentina, the Great Depression had a devastating effect, as Reid points out, and it went deeper than the tragedy entailed by mass unemployment. Economic failure opened the floodgates of extremist ideology. Both Communism and Fascism had a huge impact, and unlike Western Europe, Chile and Argentina were not cured of extremist ideas by the sufferings of war. Electorates were sold the magic of a quick fix: equality and prosperity here and now. Voter expectations rose, while the capacity of the economies to meet them declined, because of the instability caused by governments trying to force through unrealizable goals.

Generally, in successful countries round the world, voters and governments enter into an implicit social contract, whereby no government promises to, or is expected to, deliver benefits which, though apparently desirable in the short term, will eventually cause untoward economic damage. It is a pact whereby both candidates and voters somehow recognize that "nations, like men, do not have wings. They make their journeys on foot, step by step" - a wise and elegant statement, quoted by Reid, made in 1837 by Juan Bautista Alberdi, Argentina's great liberal constitutionalist. The pact ensures long-term governability and sustainable growth. In Chile and Argentina it was broken after 1930.

Over the past twenty five years or so, it has been restored in Chile. In Argentina N,stor Kirchner, and his wife Cristina, who has now succeeded him, govern very much in the populist tradition of their mentor Juan Domingo Per>n. This leftist-sounding tradition, as Reid points out, in fact owes less to Marx than to Mussolini. The state plays a commanding role, key prices are fixed, and the private sector is at the mercy of a high-handed, corrupt government. Fortunately, there is an implicit pact of sustainable governability similar to the Chilean one in place now in several other countries, such as Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.

Where is Latin America going now? What will be the outcome of the "battle for its soul"? Reid analyses the attempts at economic liberalization that have been made under the umbrella of the so-called Washington Consensus. Under it economies are supposed to be open to world trade, and to be subject to market forces, under a rule of law that guarantees secure property rights. The government's role in the allocation of productive resources is supposed to be reduced to a minimum. That implies privatization of state enterprises and withdrawal of sector subsidies or special taxes. The government is also supposed to practise fiscal responsibility and focus its attention on areas such as education and poverty, where it cannot be replaced by other agencies.

Many of these ideas were applied in several Latin American countries in the 1980s and 90s, but they were not always successful. Argentina's economy suffered a disastrous debacle leading to devaluation, deep recession and widespread unemployment in 2001. Reid is right in suggesting that Washington Consensus measures are not to blame for these crises. He thinks - plausibly - that part of the problem was that they were not always implemented together. You cannot just leave one out, like the Argentinians under Carlos Menem, who privatized, and opened the economy, but never practised fiscal discipline.

Reid is also right to argue that governments failed to build strong institutions to bolster their reforms. Perhaps he is too polite to say so, but this failure can be largely explained by the fact that the administrations concerned were corrupt. The Menem government in Argentina looked very liberal to some, but it acted in the old Peronist tradition in its thirst for the booties of power. This so-called liberal government privatized, but did so taking bribes from the new owners, and packing the Supreme Court with allies lest anyone object through legal action.

An interesting attempt to apply Washington Consensus policies was made in Venezuela in 1989. It is a cautionary tale which shows that countries can get to a point where they are practically beyond repair. Venezuela had had a stable, two-party democracy since 1958, but economic policy was always populist and corporatist. Governments got away with it because they could draw on huge oil revenues to finance state handouts, and large state investments in steel and aluminium plants.

Then from 1982 to 1998 the price of oil fell. As Reid succinctly points out, "the ratio of government oil revenues to population fell from a peak of $1,540 per person in 1974 to $382 in 1992 (and $315 by 1998)". Since politicians could not bring themselves to stop spending, by 1988, "the fiscal deficit was 9.4 per cent of GDP, the current-account deficit was the largest in Venezuelan history and the price of everything from bank loans to medicines and staple foods was artificially held down".

Against this background, Carlos Andr,s Perez, who had been a populist, big-state-project president between 1974 and 1979, took office for a second term, in 1989. He realized that the economy had to be reconnected with reality. Unfortunately, Venezuelans had by then developed social attitudes typical of a petro-state. They felt that they had been endowed with limitless riches to which they had an inalienable right. When Perez implemented austerity measures, Caracas mobs went on the rampage, looting supermarkets, particularly near the poorer areas of town. After "thirty hours of chaos", the army was asked to restore order, and over the next three days 400 people were killed.

Perez struggled on with his reforms, but he remained deeply unpopular. In 1992, an obscure comandante called Hugo Chavez staged a military coup against him. The coup failed and Chavez went to jail, but his promise of a return to the free-spending days of old lingered in the minds of Venezuelans. Perez was impeached in 1993, and the next elections were won by an ageing former Christian Democrat president, Rafael Caldera, who idiotically undid Perez's free market reforms. In the meantime the price of oil kept going down. In the 1998 presidential elections, Ch˜vez, who had been pardoned by Caldera, stood on a populist platform, and obtained 56.2 per cent of the vote. The Venezuelans desperately wanted to believe the good news of future welfare on which he campaigned.

Chavez's populist economics would normally have led Venezuela to even greater economic ruin and therefore to his own eventual downfall. They may still do so one day. But his free-spending ways were rescued by rising oil prices. Unbelievably, 1998 was the low point in a sixteen-year bear market for oil. Since then the price has risen so much that Chavez has even been able to prop up Fidel Castro, thus securing an important military and ideological ally, and to export his "Bolivarian revolution" to Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Chavez finances populist, anti-capitalist politicians all over Latin America and no country is now immune from his influence. With his "Bolivarian" dream of uniting the continent under his aegis, he is the region's new imperialist.

Amazingly Chavez gets away with selling himself as a man of the Left. Yet his authoritarian populism is closer to fascism. In Venezuela, the main beneficiaries of the "Bolivarian Revolution" are Chavez's own megalomania, and a new breed of so-called Boligarchs: businessmen who profit from Ch˜vez's hand-outs in an economy in which he calls all the shots. The poor have benefited too, but their benefits are not sustainable. Government price-fixing is already causing acute shortages of staple goods.

Today's battle for Latin America's soul is pitched between supporters of Chavez and those who prefer a model closer to that of Chile, Peru, or Brazil. All three countries are run by centre-left governments who administer a market economy, while focusing fiscal revenues on the poor and on the improvement of education, which in its present state does not deliver equality of opportunity. There is no question which of the two models is able to deliver long-term success. While the petrodollars flow, however, Chavez will be able to seduce Latin Americans at will. Reid is surprisingly confident that he will not be that successful. I hope he is right. Much will depend on the price of oil, and on the ability of other countries to stick to a sensible course.



The "root cause" explanations for terrorism advanced by supposed "experts" in the Middle East - hapless congressmen, gullible journalists and even some "experienced" presidential candidates - are undermining our intellectual and moral clarity in the confrontation with the most reactionary and oppressive movements within Islam. These are the Islamists, in general, and the overtly violent Islamists, the jihadis, in particular. It is worth noting that while all jihadis are Islamists, not all Islamists are jihadis.

Some go so far as to deny there even is a war beyond our making, or an enemy, beside ourselves. Sept. 11, the Madrid and London bombings, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto - everything, it seems, is "blowback," or "chickens coming home to roost." If only the U.S. didn't have bases in Saudi Arabia pre-9/11, the attack would never have occurred. If only the U.S. wasn't allied with Israel and (better yet), if only Israel didn't exist, there would be no terrorism. It's just that easy; change the policies and all our troubles will go away.

The fallacious presumption at the very core of these arguments is that the jihadis don't really mean what they say or, put another way, mean only part of what they say. The religious motivations, the narrative that they give themselves when, say, declaring war on everyone - Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, secularists and fellow Muslims - are ignored in our popular discourse in favor of their political, social and economic grievances.

When considering these grievances, three things should immediately become obvious: They are vast, nonnegotiable and being demanded at gunpoint. Jihadis want nothing less than acquiescence to their own imperialism and genocide, the subjugation of women and minorities, and the imposition of every other provision of their peculiar definition of Shari'a (Islamic law) everywhere, in order to remake the world in their own image. If this sounds irrational (not to mention evil) that's because it is. Commenting on the pathology of Islamists, Egyptian playwright Ali Salim found that theirs is a "culture of death a culture of irresponsibility. It is a culture in which a person considers all the 'others' to be his enemies." Regardless of what we may think, however, these are their beliefs; they cannot merely be ignored or explained away and they certainly cannot be appeased. As Winston Churchill once observed, "a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Ultimately, no concession short of total capitulation or, as they understand it, the victory of "truth" over "falsehood" would be acceptable to their sensibilities anyway.

Their "truth," then, must be rejected unequivocally. First and foremost, this requires acknowledging that there is not a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam; it is a civil war within Islam into which the West has been deliberately drawn. The war now is between the West and moderate Muslims (civilization) and Islamism (barbarism). Blurring that distinction is disingenuous and has dangerous implications. For instance, Islamists do not speak for all Muslims. Yet far too many on both the left and right (the only difference being whom they wish to hate) have embraced "root causes" and/or the "clash," and thus turned a relatively small number of extremists into the only Muslims - the arbiters of what it means to be Muslim. This, of course, is profoundly wrong and insulting to the Muslim world and is extremely detrimental to the cause of Muslim moderates and reformers everywhere who are on the frontlines in the struggle against Islamists.

Second, (and, needless to say), this requires a repudiation of violence no matter what the "explanation." This would be true even if the jihadis only harbored revanchist tendencies, no less the imperialistic aims that they openly affirm.

Third, we must admit that some of the grievances the jihadis cite are real. And it is likely that addressing them will be to their detriment, albeit how much so is usually exaggerated. For example, Middle East peace would not result in an end to terrorism. While it is a widespread belief that the Israeli-Palestinian or, more broadly, the Arab-Israeli conflict is the "root cause" of "root causes," responsible for all evil in the region and all terrorism abroad, this is nothing more than a pernicious falsehood. In point of fact, there were Islamists many centuries before the advent of the modern Jewish state, America and almost every other given "root cause." Their prime motivation then, as now, is intransigent theology which makes the very concepts of tolerance, co-existence and peace abhorrent to them. Thankfully, working to advance peace, supporting the nascent movement for individual rights, opposing the rampant violations of human rights and helping build free societies from the ground up to replace the corrupt and repressive Middle Eastern regimes of today requires neither the argument from or against jihadis, the justness for doing so are reason enough in and of themselves.

Fourth, we must have the courage of our convictions and stand in solidarity with the embattled Muslims who share them. The cultural relativists' argument that liberal democracy is only superior to theocracy in the West is (as French philosopher Pascal Bruckner has aptly put it): "a racism of the anti-racists." These Westerners claim for themselves the inherent and inalienable rights to "bear the burdens of liberty, of self-invention, of sexual equality" while they condemn Muslims to the life envisioned for them (and eventually us too) by the Islamists with all the "joys of archaism, of abuse as ancestral custom, of sacred prescriptions, forced marriage, the headscarf and polygamy" which that entails. These same misguided Westerners claim that freedom, democracy, peace, equality and human rights are just a matter of "perception." Apparently, there is no difference between jihadis and those who fight them, or between liberated and exploited women.

To euphemize and justify such vile notions by way of rationalization and moral equivocation is to excuse the inexcusable.


What Is To Be Done?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

(For those who are not au fait with such things, the title of this article is an allusion to a 1902 article by V.I. Lenin)

Is it somewhere written that the countries of the advanced West are required to admit Muslims into their lands, or to continue to endure their large-scale presence, no matter what new information may come to light, and greater understanding as a result, of the meaning and menace of Islam? It is by now quite clear, to all who are paying attention, that there is something deeply worrisome about that ever-increasing presence of Muslims in the Bilad al-kufr (Lands of the Infidels). And it is clear to those who are a bit swifter of apprehension than others that this has led to a situation that is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous for the indigenous Infidels (and for other, non-Muslim, immigrants) than would be the case were there no such large-scale Muslim presence.

Is it impossible to halt all Muslim immigration to the West? To return Muslim non-citizens promptly to their countries of origin? To impose restrictions on money coming from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere to fund those mosques and madrasas all over the Western world? To do nothing that would openly demonstrate an unwillingness to change our legal and political institutions in response to Muslim demands or a Muslim presence? To do nothing that would, instead, demonstrate the opposite, that is a steely and well-informed and public refusal, to modify our own institutions and understandings, in order to meet demands from Muslims for changes, demands that, even if not met at first, will always and everywhere continue to be made, and made by appeals both cunningly couched in whatever language is appealing (the appeal to "true diversity" for example), or if that doesn't work, in the language of threats of violence, and of actual violence.

Is it impossible to create the conditions where True Believers in Islam, with all that that implies, may have to make a choice between remaining in the Lands of the Infidels, where a "full Muslim life" will only with great difficulty be lead (and there are ways to let the "whisperings of Shaytan" become louder), and sticking with Islam by remaining in, or returning to, Muslim lands.

Islam is not mainly, or merely, a "religion" as we understand that term. It is a Total Belief-System. If we come to see it as the threat it is, to the legal and political institutions that have been created over time, the institutions that we have inherited, and that we have a duty to preserve, then we will be far more willing to consider, and then to take, the kind of measures that have been taken, within recent memory, when a tolerant and advanced people had had enough, had experienced enough, and decided they were under no obligation to continue to endure, for the sake of some theoretical "standard of tolerance" that, after all, is merely a human construct, that they were free to accept or to modify, and not to cling to as a suicide pact. and should not be considered a suicide pact, and indeed did handle such a perceived threat by acting as they did, in the case of the Czechs, with those quintessential Europeans of the civilized old school, Jan Masaryk and Eduard Benes, when they passed, and then put into force, what came to be called the Benes Decree.

Awareness of such things would go a long way to opening eyes to what makes sense. For example, more people should be reminded of the case of the Czechs, with those quintessential Europeans of the civilized old school, Jan Masaryk and Eduard Benes, and the decision, in 1946, to expel the "Sudeten Germans" who had lived, for hundreds of years, along what was then the border separating the Czechs from the lands of Deutschtum, and who had before the war been willingly used by Hitler to whip up Western opinion against the Czechs, and who, during the war, were to a large degree supporters of the Nazis and of Germany, and were like all Volksdeutsche given the same rations, and treated in other ways the same, as the Germans themselves, and not as the non-German peoples of Occupied Europe.

Knowledge of history helps. So do does the study of literature, as it used to be conceived, requiring attention to words, an attention still to be found in the way in which literature is taught in European high schools, for whatever else their problems, European teachers have not yet begun to emulate the fashion, or possibly mania, of American teachers, in focusing the attention of students on the racial, ethnic, sexual backgrounds of authors, rather than on analysis of the words themselves....

Those Muslims who claim to be completely opposed to the idea of "Jihad" as it has been widely understood, and acted on wherever possible, over the past 1350 years, should understand why those familiar with Islam look upon their assertions with a skeptical eye (and those who are the defectors from Islam, such as Wafa Sultan and Ibn Warraq, are the most skeptical of all), given that by continuing to describe themselves as adherents of a Total Belief-System that makes "Jihad" a central duty, they hold themselves out as Believers in every respect. And part of a Believer's duties is that of accepting the duty, central and not tangential, to engage in Jihad to tear down all obstacles to the spread, and then the necessary and inevitable dominance, of Islam.

Those Muslims who do not agree that they have such a duty, and whose Islam is more a matter, not of belief, but of inherited cultural baggage - people are born into it, into states and societies and families suffused with it, and do not realize that in non-Islamic societies they are free to leave Islam, and some find themselves defensive about the faith, and willing to misstate its contents, or to participate in campaigns intended to confuse or distract Infidels, campaigns that often require those "moderate" semi-disbelieving Muslims to offer assurances that they surely know are false, but out of embarrassment or filial piety, keep on making. Those who continue to insist that they are "moderate" Muslims need to do something, anything, to alleviate the fears of non-Muslims. Misrepresenting what is so clearly in the texts, and that form the tenets, of Islam, is not the way to alleviate those fears.

They can start by forthrightly stating the uncomfortable truths about the ideology of Islam, even as they distance themselves from it, and do what they can to undermine Jihad as a duty. If done with conviction, that may, at least in some part, relieve some non-Muslims of justifiable, perfectly reasonable, assumptions and suspicions.

For anyone who continues today to call himself a Muslim (not a "cultural Muslim" and not a "Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only" Muslim), can be held to know the contents of the texts (Qur'an, Hadith, Sira), and therefore the tenets of Islam, and the attitudes and atmospherics of states, societies, families suffused with Islam (many Infidels have been educating themselves, and it is getting harder and harder to hide the truth from, at least, that ever-expanding number of people in the West), and has an affirmative duty, as the lawyers say, to distance himself, not by denying what Islam teaches (and especially the manner in which the world is divided, in Islam, between Believer and Infidel), but by acknowledging what it teaches and insisting that this particular "Muslim" is entirely opposed to such teaching.

Still, one has to make allowances for:

1) Ignorance of the real history of Muslim conquest -- as with the mass killings of tens of millions of Hindus.

2) Ignorance of the actual mechanism of conquest and then, more importantly, of the islamization over time of the conquered populations and of the arabization that frequently accompanied it.

3) Filial piety, including memories of sympathetic older relatives who were quietly pious and did not seem to wish harm to anyone -- such as the parents, for example, of Magdi Allam, who writes about them so touchingly.

4) The desire to spare oneself knowledge of certain truths that would call into question the entire value of what has been, in so many ways, central to one's sense of self, or rather of the self immersed in the umma, or collective, or community of Believers. How difficult it is for those who are essentially not in free societies, subject to the constant din of Islamic propaganda, in lands suffused with Islam, where this total belief-system offers a simple explanation of the universe, a complete regulation of life, and thus a comforting way to organize and make sense of the universe.

5) Among Arab Muslims, their ethnic identity reinforces a desire to protect, to defend, not to question, Islam -- and that can be true of non-Muslim Arabs -- the "islamochristians" -- as well.

These are explanations, not justifications. But they should give slight pause to those who insist that every Muslim everywhere surely must know exactly what the texts and tenets are all about, and should be denounced, therefore, with the same intensity as one would denounce the ideology.

But certain things will have to be done, for those who think they can continue to live within the Infidel lands, where our way of life -- of taking planes or trains or busses, for example -- has already been altered, for the worse, by the threat that comes from Muslims, acting according to unambiguous Muslim texts, attempting to participate in Jihad, not by using non-violent instruments -- Da'wa, demographic conquest, the Money Weapon (which have the same goal, and in the end are even more dangerous to Infidels)-- but rather, violence, the violence of qitaal, or combat, now held by many Muslims to legitimately describe what we non-Muslims have no difficulty describing as "terrorism."

Let it be understood that with every act of attempted or completed terrorism in this or another Infidel country, the position of Muslims in that country becomes ever more tenuous. Collective punishment, you say? No, not any more so than the treatment of enemy aliens during any war. If one wishes to disassociate clearly and convincingly from the ideology of the enemy, there are many obvious ways to do so. One is to work to help the authorities locate, and investigate, and prosecute, all those who are likely to be dangerous, or those who encourage others to engage in violence. It isn't hard to work with, rather than to work against, those attempting to protect the people of this country. Failure to do so, when one is well-placed to do so, should be carefully noted, carefully taken in....

The countries of North America and Western European countries can do much to make the practice of Islam, and campaigns of Da'wa, harder to support, and to make those Muslims who are intent on adhering to this ideology so dangerous to non-Muslims to think again about remaining in the Western world. Benefits can be limited. Foreign sources of aid can be cut. The general atmosphere of continuing refusal to yield, and of ever-increasing Infidel awareness of the texts of Islam and the history of Muslim conquest, will naturally create conditions of suspicion and hostility that are not, to the well-informed, either wicked, or baseless but, alas, entirely reasonable.

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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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?

By Charlotte Allen

Wowee! Here's a lady who is really letting the "sisters" down! I love it! Mainly because there is much truth in it

Here's Agence France-Presse reporting on a rally for Sen. Barack Obama at the University of Maryland on Feb. 11: "He did not flinch when women screamed as he was in mid-sentence, and even broke off once to answer a female's cry of 'I love you, Obama!' with a reassuring 'I love you back.' " Women screamed? What was this, the Beatles tour of 1964? And when they weren't screaming, the fair-sex Obama fans who dominated the rally of 16,000 were saying things like: "Every time I hear him speak, I become more hopeful." Huh?

"Women 'Falling for Obama,' " the story's headline read. Elsewhere around the country, women were falling for the presidential candidate literally. Connecticut radio talk show host Jim Vicevich has counted five separate instances in which women fainted at Obama rallies since last September. And I thought such fainting was supposed to be a relic of the sexist past, when patriarchs forced their wives and daughters to lace themselves into corsets that cut off their oxygen.

I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say, "we women," of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial. Women "are only children of a larger growth," wrote the 18th-century Earl of Chesterfield. Could he have been right?

I'm not the only woman who's dumbfounded (as it were) by our sex, or rather, as we prefer to put it, by other members of our sex besides us. It's a frequent topic of lunch, phone and water-cooler conversations; even some feminists can't believe that there's this thing called "The Oprah Winfrey Show" or that Celine Dion actually sells CDs. A female friend of mine plans to write a horror novel titled "Office of Women," in which nothing ever gets done and everyone spends the day talking about Botox.

We exaggerate, of course. And obviously men do dumb things, too, although my husband has perfectly good explanations for why he eats standing up at the stove (when I'm not around) or pulls down all the blinds so the house looks like a cave (also when I'm not around): It has to do with the aggressive male nature and an instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men. When men do dumb things, though, they tend to be catastrophically dumb, such as blowing the paycheck on booze or much, much worse (think "postal"). Women's foolishness is usually harmless. But it can be so . . . embarrassing.

Take Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign. By all measures, she has run one of the worst -- and, yes, stupidest -- presidential races in recent history, marred by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex. As far as I'm concerned, she has proved that she can't debate -- viz. her televised one-on-one against Obama last Tuesday, which consisted largely of complaining that she had to answer questions first and putting the audience to sleep with minutiae about her health-coverage mandate. She has whined (via her aides) like the teacher's pet in grade school that the boys are ganging up on her when she's bested by male rivals. She has wept on the campaign trail, even though everyone knows that tears are the last refuge of losers. And she is tellingly dependent on her husband.

Then there's Clinton's nearly all-female staff, chosen for loyalty rather than, say, brains or political savvy. Clinton finally fired her daytime-soap-watching, self-styled "Latina queena" campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, known for burning through campaign money and for her open contempt for the "white boys" in the Clinton camp. But stupidly, she did it just in time to alienate the Hispanic voters she now desperately needs to win in Texas or Ohio to have any shot at the Democratic nomination.

What is it about us women? Why do we always fall for the hysterical, the superficial and the gooily sentimental? Take a look at the New York Times bestseller list. At the top of the paperback nonfiction chart and pitched to an exclusively female readership is Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." Here's the book's autobiographical plot: Gilbert gets bored with her perfectly okay husband, so she has an affair behind his back. Then, when that doesn't pan out, she goes to Italy and gains 23 pounds forking pasta so she has to buy a whole new wardrobe, goes to India to meditate (that's the snooze part), and finally, at an Indonesian beach, finds fulfillment by -- get this -- picking up a Latin lover!

This is the kind of literature that countless women soak up like biscotti in a latte cup: food, clothes, sex, "relationships" and gummy, feel-good "spirituality." This female taste for first-person romantic nuttiness, spiced with a soup¨on of soft-core porn, has made for centuries of bestsellers -- including Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel "Pamela," in which a handsome young lord tries to seduce a virtuous serving maid for hundreds of pages and then proposes, as well as Erica Jong's 1973 "Fear of Flying."

Then there's the chick doctor television show "Grey's Anatomy" (reportedly one of Hillary Clinton's favorites). Want to be a surgeon? Here's what your life will be like at the hospital, according to "Grey's": sex in the linen-supply room, catfights with your sister in front of the patients, sex in the on-call room, a "prom" in the recovery room so you can wear your strapless evening gown to work, and sex with the married attending physician in an office. Oh, and some surgery. When was the last time you were in a hospital and spotted two doctors going at it in an empty bed?

I swear no man watches "Grey's Anatomy" unless his girlfriend forces him to. No man bakes cookies for his dog. No man feels blue and takes off work to spend the day in bed with a copy of "The Friday Night Knitting Club." No man contracts nebulous diseases whose existence is disputed by many if not all doctors, such as Morgellons (where you feel bugs crawling around under your skin). At least no man I know. Of course, not all women do these things, either -- although enough do to make one wonder whether there isn't some genetic aspect of the female brain, something evolutionarily connected to the fact that we live longer than men or go through childbirth, that turns the pre-frontal cortex into Cream of Wheat.

Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true. Women really are worse drivers than men, for example. A study published in 1998 by the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health revealed that women clocked 5.7 auto accidents per million miles driven, in contrast to men's 5.1, even though men drive about 74 percent more miles a year than women. The only good news was that women tended to take fewer driving risks than men, so their crashes were only a third as likely to be fatal. Those statistics were reinforced by a study released by the University of London in January showing that women and gay men perform more poorly than heterosexual men at tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness, both crucial to good driving.

The theory that women are the dumber sex -- or at least the sex that gets into more car accidents -- is amply supported by neurological and standardized-testing evidence. Men's and women's brains not only look different, but men's brains are bigger than women's (even adjusting for men's generally bigger body size). The important difference is in the parietal cortex, which is associated with space perception. Visuospatial skills, the capacity to rotate three-dimensional objects in the mind, at which men tend to excel over women, are in turn related to a capacity for abstract thinking and reasoning, the grounding for mathematics, science and philosophy. While the two sexes seem to have the same IQ on average (although even here, at least one recent study gives males a slight edge), there are proportionally more men than women at the extremes of very, very smart and very, very stupid.

I am perfectly willing to admit that I myself am a classic case of female mental deficiencies. I can't add 2 and 2 (well, I can, but then what?). I don't even know how many pairs of shoes I own. I have coasted through life and academia on the basis of an excellent memory and superior verbal skills, two areas where, researchers agree, women consistently outpace men. (An evolutionary just-so story explains this facility of ours: Back in hunter-gatherer days, men were the hunters and needed to calculate spear trajectories, while women were the gatherers and needed to remember where the berries were.) I don't mind recognizing and accepting that the women in history I admire most -- Sappho, Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth I, George Eliot, Margaret Thatcher -- were brilliant outliers.

The same goes for female fighter pilots, architects, tax accountants, chemical engineers, Supreme Court justices and brain surgeons. Yes, they can do their jobs and do them well, and I don't think anyone should put obstacles in their paths. I predict that over the long run, however, even with all the special mentoring and role-modeling the 21st century can provide, the number of women in these fields will always lag behind the number of men, for good reason.

So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.


Egregious anti-Israel bias in the media

Keep repeating to yourself what the media institution's spokespeople tell us: Coverage is fair, coverage is fair, coverage is fair. But as you do so be sure not to look at the actual articles. Journalism has changed. It is a tool for advocacy. For a lot of reporters, writing articles is what they do instead of demonstrating or lobbying for a cause, and against another one. Behavior that twenty years ago would have been quickly condemned and resulted in either editorial changes or summary firings is accepted and defended routinely. Just look at the texts. They are so skewed that even while being horrified one wants to laugh at the clumsy and obvious tricks employed.

People's Exhibit 1: Steve Weizman, "Israel Keeps Palestinian Offices Shut," AP, February 22, 2008. This is a long article by AP standards, counting over 20 paragraphs. And like "Seinfeld," though with considerably less entertainment or moral value, it is about nothing. Why should Israel keeping shut "Palestinian Offices" be a story. After all, basically nothing happens? Because of the story's theme, that it is doing so "despite its pledge to reopen them under a recently revived peace plan...." Oh, I left out the rest of the sentence: "...Palestinian officials said Thursday." Nowhere in the article is their any evidence that Israel has violated a pledge. It is only, because Palestinian officials say so.

A few days ago, the Australian Broadcasting Company ran a whole story accusing Israel of facilitating drug smuggling into the West Bank to undermine Palestinian society. There was no proof, only the assertions of Palestinians. Aside from resembling historic antisemitic blood libels, this story makes no sense, as any reporter should be able to ascertain in sixty seconds. After all, Israel is trying to keep the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) government in power, not destroy it. Israeli government officials never criticize Fatah or the PA; it is a matter of official policy. But who cares?

And you might remember the claim that some years back Israel committed massacres in Jenin. Even the UN eventually discounted that tale. But what people forget is that the original stories were based on one Palestinian being interviewed, not even an official but a man who no one had ever heard of and who afterward seems to have disappeared.

Most recently, Israel was falsely accused of cutting off almost all of the Gaza Strip's electrical power at a time when there were virtually no reductions. But an official of the Hamas regime was the only source needed to make this assertion.

So the reporters and editors can defend themselves: they did have a source after all. The problem is their wilful intention to believe sources that have every interest in lying, have a track record of doing so, and offer no proof or make illogical and unsupported claims.

Regarding the Weizman article, I have read it over and over and over again. There's one problem: there is no mention of any Israeli pledge to open the offices. Let me say that again: not only do the Palestinians (or the reporter) not prove there was any such pledge, it isn't even mentioned. If the system operated properly, the article would be withdrawn, a correction would be issued, and how such things happen would be investigated. This won't happen. Here is what the article says:

"With the resumption of peace talks, the Palestinians say these places should reopen. The U.S.-backed ``road map' peace plan, the basis for negotiations, calls on Israel to "`reopen the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem.'"

And the road map also says that Palestinians should stop terrorism but we are not seeing long articles about that fact. Of course, the plan is in several stages and implementation has not really started. No pledge was made; no pledge has been violated. Oh yes, a few lines before the bottom, deeply buried under a headline and weighty paragraphs that state how terrible is Israel's violation the article sticks in a little sentence: "Neither side has met its obligations."

Why not bother to write an article saying both sides haven't met obligations. Let's see, Israel allows some settlement construction; the Palestinians incite and allow terrorist attacks, don't punish terrorists afterward, and incite in official media for killing Israelis and wiping Israel off the map. Yep, the problem is definitely Israel closing the east Jerusalem offices.

What the article also doesn't mention is that the Palestinian side promised in the 1993 Oslo agreement, the basis for everything that has happened since, that the PA would notA engage in political activity in east Jerusalem. The Orient House, the most important office closed, was owned and run by Faisal Husseini who when he died was PA minister for Jerusalem affairs. In other words, the Palestinian commitment was openly violated. Readers are not at all told about this factor. Why? So that Israel's actions seem arbitrary and unreasonable.

Yet despite that violation, in order to help along the peace process Israel allowed the place to function most of the time in the 1990s. Only in 2001, when the PA went to war with Israel, was the office closed. Having an official office in your capital used by the party waging terror attacks on you to recruit people and gather intelligence doesn't seem a great idea. These points are alluded to generally but not explained in the article. Thus, the article actually states, but does not analyze, this amazing paragraph:

"`As the PLO Headquarters in the occupied city, the Orient House aspires to develop Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of the emerging Palestinian state,'" the center's Web site says.

Note that the institution itself doesn't even call itself a PA but a PLO institution. But you have to read almost 20 paragraphs down to find that out. So why should Israel reopen the offices? Here's where you need a sense of humor because the article is so blatant it doesn't even see the absurdity of its own language:

"When Orient House was shut down, Israel said it would only withdraw if the Palestinian Authority, today headed by Abbas, promised not to operate there. [Palestinian Legislative Council member Hatem] Abdel Khader said the Palestinians had given the necessary assurances."

So why should Israel reopen Orient House? Because Palestinian officials have promised they would not use it as an official PLO (then why haven't they changed the website?), PA, and Fatah headquarters. Oh, they promised. But they repeatedly promised and broke those promises in the past, though the article does not hint at this.

Is this article and issue important? No, but the same principles are being applied in writing dozens, nay, hundreds of articles. And they add up to slandering and demonizing Israel on a daily basis, as well as debasing the noble profession of journalism. Let me just mention one more example very briefly to show how this process could continue at length. Mohammed Daraghmeh, "Palestinian Gunmen Swap Arms for Amnesty, February 25, 2008. While this is a pretty factual article, there is still at its analytical core an article in keeping with the usual narrative. While it cites a number of statistics, the key paragraph is this:

"....A skeptical Israel says gunmen from [Fatah's] Al Aqsa [Brigades] and other groups still pose a real threat. Dismantling armed groups is at the center of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' attempt to control the West Bank and gain credibility as a leader who can implement a future peace deal with Israel."

What the article doesn't say is something significant regarding each of these two points: First, Israel has released specifics about many amnestied gunmen who have returned to terrorism. It isn't just skeptical, it has reason to be and the reader could have been told this. Second, dismantling armed groups may be "at the center" of Abbas' claimed policy. He just never does it and this can easily be documented.

This kind of critique is not nit-picking. The same emphases are repeated over and over again, always pointed in one direction and always against the other. Generally, the media ignores such criticism. It must do so, assuming an abandonment of historic responsibility and ethics, because on examination of the evidence this case cannot be refuted. By the way, didn't the media pledge to at least strive strenuously to be fair?


Republic of Fear: Welcome to Germany

Germany invented socialism and it wants more

Your heart rate sinks, muscles stiffen, you lose control of bodily functions: You're frozen with fear. This primal reflex to danger is a familiar phenomenon in nature but it's less common for it to strike nearly all of a political class in a democracy. Barely 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall -- an event that was celebrated at the time as a triumph of freedom and hope over despair -- the united country today is frozen with fear. It's as if the East Germans have exacted a delayed revenge on their brothers and sisters in the West: Your political model may have won, but we'll infect your society by reviving militant antimilitarism, a yearning for security at all cost, and a craze for distributive justice -- until the whole country is paralyzed.

Four electoral shocks in the recent past have made a deep impression on Germans. First of all, the 2002 Bundestag elections. At the time, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder looked all but defeated. His coalition of Social Democrats and Greens had been unable, despite their firm promises, to lower the unemployment rate. But then they saved themselves with thunderous anti-Iraq war propaganda, playing upon strong anti-American resentments. They laid the groundwork for a new, left-wing German national consciousness that had not previously existed because of the country's Nazi past. "For the first time, I'm proud to be a German," went the refrain -- proud to have resisted a war that no one had asked them to join in the first place. Mr. Schroeder ultimately won the election.

Since then the Bundeswehr has nevertheless been deployed abroad, but it's taboo to publicly defend these missions -- let alone give them some teeth. Just don't talk about it. In Afghanistan, for example, German soldiers are not allowed to fight in the dangerous south, which has rightly caused displeasure among other NATO members. But no German government would ever change this; the shock of 2002 has silenced all reasonable debate. Better to sacrifice NATO and give up on the fight against terrorism than advocate such unpopular notions as solidarity with one's allies.

Then came the Bundestag elections in 2005. This time, a resounding victory for the Christian Democrats, led by Angela Merkel, was practically assured. But Mrs. Merkel made the mistake of overestimating her countrymen's sense of reality. She announced economic reforms, which were urgently necessary, but was consequently accused of neo-liberalism. On the German scale of negatives, that one comes right after fascism. For no matter how bad the Germans have it, they may want energetic action, but no change. "Two souls live in my chest," Goethe's Faust complained about the two-sided nature of his personality. Mrs. Merkel's comfortable lead melted away. Instead of a reform-minded coalition with the Free Democratic Party, she was forced into a "grand" standstill coalition with the Social Democrats. So the preliminary result of these two electoral shocks: No more war. No more reforms.

The third dramatic election happened at the state level in late January of this year. In Hesse, the incumbent governor Roland Koch ran as the Christian Democrats' last prominent conservative: strongly principled, polarizing, rough in speech. He ran his campaign accordingly. He fulminated about the high crime rate among immigrant youth and revived the old conservative slogan: freedom not socialism. The result? Mr. Koch's campaign collapsed and he lost 12 percentage points compared with his showing in 2003. So the third lesson: No more freedom. Anyone who asks Germans to choose between freedom and socialism risks their choosing the latter.

Which brings us to the fourth and final electoral shock that's paralyzing the German political class. It's actually a number of smaller shocks. Next to the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Greens and the Free Democrats, a fifth party is establishing itself in Germany, apparently inexorably: the Left Party. Various forces cavort in this party -- communists, socialists, pacifists, protest voters, disappointed Social Democrats. In East Germany, the Left Party has been firmly established since 1990, and surveys even show it to be the strongest party there today. Now they have also entered every regional parliament in the last four elections in West Germany.

In other European countries, radical leftist parties are nothing special. In Germany, however, their representatives inherit the traditions of East Germany: the Wall, shoot-to-kill orders, dictatorship. This makes a coalition with them particularly distasteful. Should yesterday's victims once again be governed by their former tormentors? On the other hand, the Left Party's slogans are extremely popular: Out of Afghanistan! More justice! Better protection from layoffs! Across-the-board minimum wages! No university fees! No privatization of state-owned companies! On all these points, surveys show the ultraleft in sync with a majority of Germans.

What to do? Frozen in fear, the Social Democrats are helpless. They stare at the radical left like a rabbit at a snake. No recipe seems to work. Give the Left responsibility, in order to take the shine off its demagogy? A mistake, as can be seen in Berlin's city hall. In the German capital, the Left Party has for years now unabashedly shared local government powers with the Social Democrats, without reducing their national attractiveness.

Isolate the Left Party and reject coalitions with it? Also a mistake, as its recent successes in West Germany prove. So the Social Democrats hem and haw and swing back and forth between the two strategies. In the meantime, they are taking on the Left's themes, becoming more similar in substance. Germany's Social Democrats are abandoning any sort of "Third Way." They have broken with the Schroeder legacy. But because the original is always more authentic than the copy, this doesn't do them any electoral good, either.

This will not be without consequences for the federal government. The more the Social Democrats drift to the left, the more quickly the Christian Democrats push into the now wide-open center. There they act demonstratively unconservative, cuddly, impartial. In order to be identified with any content at all, Chancellor Merkel has fled into the ideologically safe subject of climate change. Germans and environmental protection: That always works. And it is the only gap left in the ultraleft's program.

It's been said that grand coalitions strengthen the margins. This rule also applies to Germany, though as a paradox. Although the government follows leftist policies (from a three-percentage-point increase in the value added tax to minimum wages for postal workers), it is the ultraleft that has become stronger.

Germany's political class is stunned by this effect. Those who become rigid with fear hope they won't be discovered by their predators. But this instinct designed to ensure survival can quickly spell their doom. Once discovered, motionless as they are, they become very easy prey.


Christians ordered to pay big bucks - for praying!

Lawyers for a team of Christians convicted of disorderly conduct for praying at a "gay" fest in a public park in Elmira, N.Y., are promising an appeal of the verdict that left them with $100 fines. Joel Oster, of the Alliance Defense Fund, said an appeal will be filed in Chemung County court for Julian and Gloria Raven, Maurice Kienenberger and Walter Quick, all of Elmira, who were ordered to pay $95 apiece in court costs in addition to the $100 fines. Oster told the Star-Gazette newspaper that the police in the United States simply are not supposed to arrest people if someone else may be upset by their message.

The Supreme Court has ruled in cases involving "sit-in" protests, he said, that authorities cannot arrest blacks just because they were making white people angry. "The police have a duty to protect the speaker," he told the court, according to the Star-Gazette. "Choosing to exercise your First Amendment rights in a public place is not a crime," Oster said just before going into the trial.

At issue is the arrest of seven Christians at a "gay pride" event in Wisner Park in Elmira in 2007. Julian and Gloria Raven and several others entered the park to pray silently for the participants of the event celebrating homosexual behavior. Charges against three later were dropped, and only the four went to trial. Officials with the ADF noted that the materials advertising the event said everyone was invited and it was open to the public. "The group did not draw a disorderly response from event participants," the ADF said.

According to the newspaper report, Police Sgt. Sharon Moyer told the court she warned Julian Raven that his rights at the event were limited. He earlier said she had told him not to cross the street, go into the park or talk to anyone. "He said he was there to preach the word of God," Moyer told the court, the newspaper reported. "I explained he was welcome to be there (at the festival), but he would not be allowed to confront the participants." She accused the street preacher of being antagonistic.

Raven, however, said it was Moyer who was "aggressive from the get-go" and said her orders amounted to a deprivation of his rights. "It seems oxymoronic to say that by walking silently in a public park, with heads bowed, these people somehow disturbed the peace," Oster said of the case earlier. "From the sit-ins of the 1960s to today, courts have repeatedly ruled that the police cannot arrest those who peacefully express their message in public places."

The ADF said the issues are no less than the freedoms of speech and religion. "If this violation of these Christians' rights is allowed to stand, the First Amendment rights of all people of faith are in jeopardy," the ADF said.

When the Christians were arrested, officials with Elmira justified their actions to WND. Assistant Police Chief Mike Robertson told WND that the members were accused of a "combination" of allegations, including the "intent" to cause a public inconvenience, a "disturbance" of a meeting of persons and obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic. He also said at the time that the accusations would include taking part in "any act that serves no legitimate purpose." Elmira City Judge Thomas Ramich's conclusion found that in order to prevent participants in the "gay" festival from being upset, the city was correct to arrest the Christians. The newspaper reported he called Raven reckless for even going to the park.

The prosecutor, Robert Siglin, said the city was concerned for public safety, and that's why the Christians were arrested. During closing arguments he said speech freedoms don't matter when "public order" is an issue.



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

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

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


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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

"He Should Have Kept His Mouth Shut"

The Islamic world is running a protection racket against the entire Western world. We are supposed to stay in line and pay up, or we can get hurt. The part of Guido and his tommy gun is played by the "Muslim street", that amorphous mass of people in the Middle East, South Asia, and more recently the working class neighborhoods of Europe. When the word about the latest outrage against Islamic dignity goes out through the mosques on Friday, the faithful are predictably offended, and they take to the streets to loot and burn whatever is required of them by the imams. So don't get out of line. Don't interfere with the Muslims, don't neglect to pay the "insurance premiums", and above all don't diss the Prophet.

This point is emphasized once again in an editorial entitled "Playing With Fire" from today's Arab News. This time it's the German Interior Minister whose knees are being figuratively broken:
The statement by Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble that European newspapers should reprint the controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a show of support for press freedom is astounding.

It is difficult to believe that a supposedly responsible and politically astute politician could say something so irresponsible and dangerous - and Schaeuble is supposedly both. More to the point, Schaeuble knows perfectly well that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide to whom the cartoons are not merely deeply offensive but an outrage. He also knows perfectly well what happened when the cartoons were first published - the wave of violent protest worldwide two years ago that resulted in dozens of people killed in riots and Danish embassies destroyed. The decision by Danish papers to reprint the most offensive of the cartoons has already led to Egypt protesting to Denmark, Iranian MPs demanding action against the country, mass demonstrations in Sudan and riots by outraged Muslims in Denmark itself.

Schaeuble cannot, therefore, claim that he did not realize the consequences of what he said or that he has been naive. This is no mere mistake or case of insensitivity. He knows the massive damage to Germany that can result from what he said - boycotts of German products, mass protests across the world, German diplomats in danger, embassies under attack - yet still he said it. He is being deliberately provocative.....

He should have kept his mouth shut, regardless of what he thinks about press freedom. In saying what he did and because he is the interior minister, his call to reprint is inevitably seen as Germany's view. It is not for us to demand his resignation but it is impossible to believe that Germans will not do so. He has been grossly irresponsible. He is playing with fire. He has created a crisis for his country where there was none beforehand. He has sown division between Germany's Muslims and non-Muslims and stirred up the potential for discord and disorder. That is hardly what is expected of a government minister whose remit is law and order.

Murderous dictators: cool, huh?

Why does the Left still worship Fidel Castro and all his appalling fellow communists? Daniel Finkelstein comments below on Harriet Harman -- who is Deputy Leader of Britain's Labour Party, the Leader of the House of Commons and a member of the Cabinet. When recently asked in an interview: "Fidel Castro - authoritarian dictator or hero of the Left?" Harman answered unhesitatingly - "hero of the Left".

I had a strange idea yesterday. I had the idea of inviting Harriet Harman home for dinner. This isn't a thought that occurs to me often, but I suddenly felt it might be fun. I'd invite my Dad too. And then, when we'd given Harriet a nice meal (what do you think she likes to eat?), my father could tell her his story.

He could tell her how the Soviets and the Nazis closed in on his home town of Lvov in September 1939 and how the town council chose the Soviets to surrender to. Then he might tell her how the fathers of his friends were taken to the woods at Katyn and shot by the communists.

He might recount the story of his father's arrest as an antisocial element, of Adolf Finkelstein's repeated interrogations leading to a trial in his absence and a jail sentence of 15 years' hard labour. Then Dad could tell the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party about his own experience as a child, exiled to a remote Siberian village. And how he and his mother and his father never saw their home again. And, when he'd finished, he could let Harriet speak. And she could explain to Dad why she thinks that Fidel Castro is a hero.

Its been almost 60 years since my grandfather's arrest and 50 years since the Soviets invaded Hungary. The Prague Spring has come and gone, the Gdansk shipyard strike is history, the Berlin Wall has fallen. We've read Robert Conquest tell of Stalin's murderous deeds and Jung Chang tell of Mao's. We've watched films about the Stasi and recoiled in disgust at the opulent lives of the Ceausescus. We know that Alger Hiss was guilty and that there was, after all, a communist conspiracy in America. We've read Solzhenitsyn and Sharansky. We know.

Yet still the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, the Leader of the House of Commons, a member of the Cabinet, is in love with Fidel. When asked, earlier this week, in an interview: "Fidel Castro - authoritarian dictator or hero of the Left?" she answered unhesitatingly - "hero of the Left". Which brings me to this question - Why? Why does she think that? Why would she say that?

Let's eliminate from our inquiries the idea that Fidel was somehow better than the rest of them, better than Honecker and so forth. Those cigars, those battle fatigues, that beard. Kinda cool, no? No. Death sentences for those who want to flee, prison sentences for dissidents, gags for the press, jail for homosexuals, ruinous central planning for the economy, his support for a nuclear first strike against America, his opposition to any kind of reform, his four-hour long speeches, his personality cult. Fidel Castro was just like the rest of them.

So if we want to understand Ms Harman's response, it is not enough just to think about Cuba. We have to understand why parts of the Left, people who think of themselves as impeccably liberal, still think of communism as an heroic doctrine and communists as basically well meaning and a bit "alternative". It's a pervasive attitude that goes well beyond politicians. Go to Tate Modern and you will find an exhibition of Soviet art - workers joyfully producing tractors or some such. In the bookshop you can buy a book of posters from the cultural revolution. Hitler memorabilia is not on sale. They wouldn't dream of having a room full of artfully designed Juden Raus! posters.

I struggle a little to understand the distinction being made here, but I think it is this. It's not that the liberals are unaware that millions died under Mao and under Stalin. It's just that they think it was different. Hitler had a killing machine; under Mao ("the greatest man of the 20th century", according to Tony Benn) and Stalin many people just up and died.

I've heard this argument made before. When I wrote that my mother had seen Anne Frank arrive in Belsen, I had an e-mail from a Nazi claiming that I was wrong to describe the little girl as having been killed by the Nazis. She had, he said, died of typhoid. I responded that if you imprison an innocent person in terrible conditions or starve them, or both, and they die, you have murdered them. The same goes for the communists.

There is another reason why people prefer communists to fascists. It is that the latter believe we are entirely the product of our genes, while the former regard us as entirely the product of our environment. Somehow genetic determinism is regarded with greater distaste than environmental determinism. I am not entirely sure why. In any case, scientific evidence now shows that both views are wrong. Even if they weren't, neither justifies the killings carried out in their name.

Which leaves me with one final reason for the Left's attitude to communism - that anyone who defies the United States is somehow seen as a valiant progressive, whatever their crimes. I am sure that Castro's resistance to the US is a major reason for Harriet Harman's admiration. From time to time, Left thinkers make an effort to reconcile liberals and America. From Tony Crosland in the Fifties to Jonathan Freedland's admirable and convincing book Bring Home the Revolution, the efforts have failed. Almost anyone - a homophobic, misogynist Islamist cleric for example - is given some credit if the US is their punchbag.

A few months ago the Tory candidate Nigel Hastilow had to resign for saying that Enoch Powell may have had a point. And it was right that he went. Calling Fidel Castro a hero is worse.


The master of Islamist doublespeak comes to Australia

The Swiss Islamic activist Tariq Ramadan has been invited by Griffith University to be the keynote speaker at its conference opening in Brisbane today. The fact that Australia is allowing Ramadan to enter the country at all will raise eyebrows in security circles elsewhere. Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: the spiritual backers of al-Qa'ida and Hamas and whose goal is to Islamise the world. While it is, of course, unfair to tar someone with his grandfather's views, there is ample reason to think that in the case of Tariq Ramadan the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

Ramadan has been banned from entering the US because of his alleged association with extremists. The Geneva Islamic Centre, with which he is closely associated, has been linked to terrorists of the Algerian FIS (Islamic Salvation Front) and the GIA (Armed Islamic Group). A Spanish police report claimed that Ahmed Brahim, an al-Qa'ida leader jailed in Spain, was "in frequent contact" with Ramadan, a claim he has denied. Yet the Swiss activist has not only been allowed into Britain but is ensconced at St Anthony's College, Oxford as a research fellow and is much lionised by the British establishment, appearing at security seminars on Islamism and even serving as an adviser to the British Government on tackling Islamic extremism.

So how to explain this wild divergence of views about Tariq Ramadan? And does Australia have cause to be concerned? Ramadan's message is highly seductive to a Western world terrified by Islamic radicalism. For Ramadan preaches the comforting message of an unthreatening Islam that can accommodate itself to modernity and to the West. He does so in a charismatic style combining high intellect, a winsome French accent and impossibly hip glamour. To the desperate British establishment, the picture he paints so beguilingly of a way out of the Islamist nightmare has made him into the rock star of the counter-terrorism circuit.

But closer scrutiny of what he actually says - and perhaps even more importantly, does not say - suggests the talented Mr Ramadan is an Islamist wolf in moderniser's clothing. To the Islamic world he says one thing; to credulous Western audiences quite another in language that is slippery, opaque, manipulative and disingenuous. His reputation as a Muslim reformer owes everything to the wishful thinking of those who want so much to believe in him that they fail to grasp what he is really saying.

Partly, this is because much of his work is in French. The writer Caroline Fourest has analysed it and her book, Brother Tariq: the Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan has just been translated from French into English. All who are concerned to halt the spread of radical Islamism should read this book. For it shows without doubt that the poster boy for Islamic reform is in fact one of the most sophisticated proponents of the global jihad.

Ramadan claims he has "no functional connection" with the Muslim Brotherhood. But he was trained at the Leicester Islamic Foundation in England, the controversial institution that propagates the doctrines of the key Islamist ideologues Maulana Maududi and Syed Qutb and which aims to promote "an Islamic social order in Great Britain". And Ramadan has repeatedly said that his grandfather's views have "inspired" him and "there is nothing in this heritage that I reject".

So what is the heritage of Hassan al-Banna? He did not just promote the most reactionary and oppressive Islamic fundamentalism. He also devised a strategy of "graduated conquest" - pursued by the Muslim Brotherhood around the world - by which not only the countries of the former medieval Islamic caliphate, but all countries where Muslims live, are to be gradually Islamised and then taken over by an Islamic government under sharia law. This is the "heritage" Ramadan endorses. The only difference is that he has developed a particularly subtle strategy for seducing the West into embracing Islamist thinking without realising what is happening.

On the issue of terror, he is particularly slippery. Professing to oppose terrorism, he denies that his grandfather had anything to do with jihadi violence. Yet al-Banna explicitly supported the armed jihad which he considered to be the highest and "most sacred" form of holy war. Ramadan claims his grandfather limited this to "legitimate defence" or "resistance in the face of injustice". But this is precisely the weaselly formulation by which Islamists justify the "resistance" of human bomb terrorism in Israel or Iraq.

Behind the honeyed words about reform and tolerance which have entranced his Western fan club, Ramadan has consistently lined himself up with the forces of obscurantism, intolerance, hatred and violence. The first association he set up in 1994, the Muslim Men and Women of Switzerland, promoted confrontation and stirred up tension. He wrote the preface for a compilation of fatwas by the European Council for Fatwa whose president, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has said human bomb operations in Israel and Iraq are a religious duty.

Through his stronghold in the Union of Young Muslims in Lyon, he radicalised thousands of young French Muslims. In 1993, he was involved in a successful attempt in Geneva to stop production of a play by Voltaire on the grounds that it insulted Islam. In a telling exchange with the future French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he refused to condemn stoning to death for adultery, calling merely for a moratorium on this barbaric practice. And all those who oppose him he labels Islamophobes, Jews or Zionists. The desperation to embrace this most devious "reformer" is gravely misplaced. Truly moderate Muslims are undermined and indeed endangered by Ramadan at every turn.

Far from offering a way to modernise Islam, he proposes instead to Islamise modernity. And he is all the more dangerous precisely because his weapon is not a bomb-belt but his tongue. Some may say that, even if his thinking is reactionary, that is no reason to refuse to let him into the country. This naive view ignores the fact that the Islamists' war of civilisation is being conducted principally on the battleground of ideas.

Terrorism merely backs up the Muslim Brotherhood's fundamental strategy of cultural infiltration, incitement, demoralisation and conquest. As Fourest has written, the strategy of Ramadan is to globalise the Islamic awakening that is part of that strategy. In May 2003, the Appeal Court of Lyon agreed that language employed by preachers such as Ramadan "can influence young Muslims and can serve as a factor inciting them to join up with those engaged in violent acts". Wherever he goes, Ramadan is a pied piper leading the young to jihad by his mesmeric tunes. Through his appeal, he is probably the most dangerous Islamist in the Western world.

Thanks to the short-sightedness of the British Government, brother Tariq has been given a platform to radicalise innumerable young Muslims. Does Australia really want to follow suit?


Ideology-blinkered Australian uranium policy irks India

OK to sell uranium to Communist China but not to democratic India?

KEVIN Rudd was lashed yesterday by one of India's most influential foreign affairs commentators over the Prime Minister's ditching of his predecessor's pledge to sell uranium to the emerging economic powerhouse. Brahma Chellaney launched a searing denunciation of Mr Rudd's "abstruse, retrograde ideology" over his reversal of a decision made last year by John Howard to sell uranium to India. Mr Chellaney accused Mr Rudd in The Asian Age newspaper of striking "a jarring note amid a growing convergence of strategic interests" between the two countries.

Under the headline "Rudd's rudderless reversal", Mr Chellaney noted that Mr Rudd was the free world's first Mandarin-speaking head of government, saying he "has made plain his intent to cosy up to the world's largest autocracy, China, while nullifying an important decision that his predecessor took to help build a closer rapport with the world's largest democracy."

The stridency of Mr Chellaney's attack reflects the widespread annoyance at high levels in New Delhi over the Rudd Government's reversal on the uranium issue. The Indian Government was irked when, in January, it sent special prime ministerial envoy Shyam Saran to see Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in Perth and found itself being bluntly told - even though it had not asked - there would be no sale of Australian uranium to India. Indian sources insist Mr Saran was taken aback by the minister's forthright stance as he had gone to Perth only to brief Mr Smith on New Delhi's negotiations with Washington over its civilian nuclear deal and specifically not to ask to buy Australian uranium. "Chellaney is saying what many of us feel about the Rudd Government's pathetic hypocrisy on this issue," one highly-placed official told The Australian yesterday.

The criticism of the Rudd Government is in sharp contrast to the significant strides made in Indo-Australian relations in the Howard years, which are praised by Mr Chellaney. But in overturning the decision to sell uranium to India, Mr Chellaney says, Mr Rudd has been "notably regressive". "Driven by misplaced non-proliferation zealotry, Rudd not only went ahead with cancelling Howard's decision, but his Government also continues to parrot the same lame excuse, as if he has not read the Non-Proliferation Treaty text. "In touting its ideological resolve to uphold the NPT, the Rudd Government wants to be more Catholic than the Pope. Far from the NPT forbidding civil exports to a non-signatory, the treaty indeed encourages the peaceful use of nuclear technology among all states.

"Rudd has no qualms about selling uranium to China but will not export to India, even though the latter is accepting what the former will not brook - stringent, internationally verifiable safeguards against diversion of material to weapons use."

Mr Rudd's office would not be drawn on claims his Government had mishandled Australia's relationship with India. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said only that it remained government policy not to sell uranium to countries who had not signed the NPT. Shadow foreign minister Andrew Robb said the Government's handling of the relationship with India had been "clumsy".



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, March 03, 2008

Prayer warriors at homosexual fest on trial

Police told Christians they had no speech rights in public park

A trial is scheduled to begin today in Elmira, N.Y., and lawyers for the defendants say it will be a test of whether the First Amendment affirmations of freedom of speech and freedom of religion still are valid in the United States. "Choosing to exercise your First Amendment rights in a public place is not a crime," Joel Oster, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund said. "The government has no right to arrest citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights in public."

At issue is the arrest of several Christians at a "gay pride" event is Wisner Park in Elmira in 2007. Julian and Gloria Raven and several others entered the park to pray silently for the participants of the event celebrating homosexual behavior. Officials with the ADF noted that the materials advertising the event said everyone was invited and it was open to the public. "The group did not draw a disorderly response from event participants," the ADF said.

However, an Elmira police sergeant had told the group they were banned from the park. They were not allowed to "cross the street, enter the park, or share their religion with anyone in the park," according to the ADF. The group's members later were arrested and accused of "disorderly conduct."

"It seems oxymoronic to say that by walking silently in a public park, with heads bowed, these people somehow disturbed the peace," Oster said. "From the sit-ins of the 1960s to today, courts have repeatedly ruled that the police cannot arrest those who peacefully express their message in public places."

While the facts of the case make it seem relatively minor, the ADF said the issue is nothing less than the United States' freedoms of speech and religion. "If this violation of these Christians' rights is allowed to stand, the First Amendment rights of all people of faith are in jeopardy," the ADF said.

When the Christians were arrested, officials with Elmira justified their actions to WND. Assistant Police Chief Mike Robertson told WND that the members were accused of a "combination" of allegations, including the "intent" to cause a public inconvenience, a "disturbance" of a meeting of persons and obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic. He also said at the time that the accusations would include taking part in "any act that serves no legitimate purpose."

Raven had told WND his group assembled to pray for three hours the night before Elmira's "pride" festival in promotion of the homosexual lifestyle. "We have a legal right to be at an event held in a public square. We're not a hate group," he said. "We're Christians and we're going to be there to pray." He said he contacted police, who told him he had no free speech rights in the public park. "The female officer, she said, 'You're not going to cross the street. You're not going to enter the park and you're not going to share your religion with anybody in this park,'" he told WND. "When she said that, for the first time in my life as a Christian, I felt now my freedom of speech is threatened or challenged," he said. "I was being told I could not share my religion with anybody in that park."

Raven said he told the officer "she was violating the Constitution that she had sworn to uphold, and she was very agitated and adamant, and couldn't look me straight in the eye." Raven asked for the justification for such a threat and was not given a response. He said his team of Christians then went into the park, and they were arrested within three or four minutes. He said if the situation is left unchallenged, the city of Elmira will be in the position of being able to control the content of people's messages in a lawful assembly - or even thoughts if they are nearby. "We didn't say boo to a goose, still we were arrested," he said.

The local newspaper reported the arrests came just "moments" after Elmira Mayor John Tonello delivered a speech "celebrating diversity." And the actions prompted some immediate criticism from newspaper readers. "I was appalled and disgusted by the gay stories strewn through the paper. What was even more disturbing was the way the city acted. Since when is it illegal to sit on the ground in a public park and recite Bible verses? Are they not protected by the same Constitution that allows gay people to have their gay pride event. These Bible thumpers had their constitutional right to free speech and assembly trampled on by the city. They should not have been arrested," said Kevin Raznoff.

Robertson told WND the Christians "certainly" have a right to assemble, but not on public property when there's an "organized" event there. Asked repeatedly about how the "disturbance" statute relates to First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, he did not answer. "Obviously, they caused a disruption to an event that was taking place," he said.

But Raven confirmed to WND the Christians did not approach a single person, did not speak to anyone and did not even make any audible statements until after they were arrested.


British police will be taught sharia law and the Koran

Police will be trained on the importance of the Koran and Sharia law to Muslims under Government plans to tackle extremism. Lessons in the Islamic faith and culture will become part of the formal training for recruits. Chief constables said officers will build better relationships by understanding the communities they are policing. [How about the "communities" learning about British law?] This could prove crucial in rooting out extremism and preventing a terrorist attack, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers.

But critics expressed concern that the plan could foster division, rather than combat it. It comes after the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable". He later said his remarks had been misinterpreted.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis added: "Of course it is sensible for the police to have an understanding of the Koran and Sharia law as long as we do not allow the situation to slip so that Sharia law is regarded on an equal basis with British law. "British law is and always must be pre-eminent."

The scheme is part of a wide-ranging strategy to prevent extremist ideas gaining hold in schools, colleges and prisons. Other initiatives in the 40-page strategy include guidance to parents on how to stop children searching for extremist websites, and intervening where convicted terrorists are suspected of spreading hate in prison. Police will not have to learn the "depth and complexity" of Sharia law but would be expected to understand Islamic culture.

But critics have described the plan as "politically correct thinking". Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said: "Police officers are not there to implement sharia law. They are there to implement British law. "This idea is misguided. We will only get community cohesion when everybody signs up to being British and following British law."

The so-called Prevent strategy says: "Research last year revealed that the police service would be very low on the list of agencies that the Muslim community would turn to if they had concerns about a member of their community who embraced violent extremism. "The police service has a long way to go in building a relationship of trust around these issues." The Chief Constable in charge of the strategy, West Yorkshire's Norman Bettison, said: "We work closely with communities and the majority of police training at the moment in this area is done in partnership with Muslim organisations. "We are building on this basis of training and emphasising that a basic principle of policing is that officers work with and should understand the communities they are policing.

"The Acpo Prevent strategy recognises this in the context of non-Muslim officers working with Muslim communities. "These issues can be complex and include nationality, community and religious issues, all of which are interwoven. "That is what we are trying to get across to officers in our training. The depth and complexity of sharia law is not part of this training. "The strategy remains in draft form at present and I expect it to be formally adopted by chief officer colleagues after further feedback from partners and communities."


Royal warrior Prince Harry sees off the sneerers

His frontline duty against `Terry Taliban' has been the making of Harry - even parts of the Arab media have been impressed

Budgie, Ginge, Cornet Wales, Widow Six Seven - whatever you like to call Prince Harry, in less than 48 hours he rocked our world. From the exposure of his presence in Helmand province on Thursday evening to his return to RAF Brize Norton yesterday, he transformed the public image of himself, the army, the royals and the war against the enemy he called "Terry Taliban".

To describe this as a sensational public-relations coup is not to diminish the prince's determination. He wanted to go and, with General Sir Richard Dannatt, chief of the general staff, he made it happen. In doing so, he left the sneerers struggling to find a downside.

Most spectacularly, Jon Snow on Channel 4 News dug a hole for himself on Thursday by questioning the ethics of a press blackout to which his own company had agreed. Viewers e-mailed to accuse him of treason or worse. On Friday, undeterred, Channel 4 News kept on digging by trying to whip up antiHarry feeling among British Muslims. Spotting the racist implication that they were being lumped in with the Taliban, almost all the Muslims backed Harry.

Even the Arab media were impressed by the behaviour of the soldier prince. "It's an extremely important story for us," said Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab paper Al-Quds al-Arabi. "He's the grandson of the Queen on the front line . . . He's endangering his life and he's not scared to fight for his country." Atwan said his newspaper had contrasted "the brother of the future British king fighting discreetly and without publicity" with "Arab royal families who prefer to stay in their palaces and enjoy the oil wealth of their countries".

Only the most rabid extremists remained to provide backing for the sneerers. "I think Prince Harry has been involved in an act of war with Muslims," said Omar Bakri Mohammed from Leba-non. He is banned from Britain.

The Prince flew to the main base at Kandahar in the week before Christmas. So far so normal. His special status was acknowledged when he was taken over by the Special Boat Service - the marine equivalent of the SAS. They took him by helicopter to Helmand, avoiding the Camp Bastion base filled with thousands of allied troops. Then he had special Gurkha protection. But otherwise he shared the life of his men. This was what he wanted, but it also avoided any suggestion that his deployment was purely cosmetic.

Yesterday the full extent of his involvement with the fighting emerged. When the news broke on Thursday, Harry, call sign Widow Six Seven, was acting as mobile forward air controller for a US-led advance. He was directing French aircraft in an attack on Taliban fighters flushed out by US and Afghan troops.

Harry, known to his mates as Ginge, for obvious reasons, or Budgie, because he was seen by colleagues "flapping like a budgie" on his first day, was also involved in questioning civilians. "The great question is `Where's the Taliban?' " he said. "I have asked, `Where's Bin Laden?' in the past. They just laugh. One guy said, `You're too late.' "

What has Harry achieved by putting himself so thoroughly in harm's way? First, he rescued the defence secretary, Des Browne, and his ministry. Early last year, the image of the British armed forces was at a new low after the Iranian capture of 15 British sailors. The Iranians exploited the incident by first humiliating then handing back the sailors. Browne made matters worse by allowing, then disallowing the sailors to sell their stories. Browne also botched the deployment of Harry to Iraq. In February 2007 he announced - to the world and Al-Qaeda - that the prince was going. Inevitably, because of the security risk Browne created, the MoD had to back down and Harry's deployment was cancelled.

Dannatt and Harry were both furious. From their anger sprang the deal that produced a media blackout for 10 weeks while Harry was in theatre. For the army, in need of new recruits, the exploits of Harry were pure publicity gold.

Yesterday, Dannatt spoke of the impact of Harry on the front line. "I think that's good for him, I think that's good for the royal family, certainly good for the army. I think that's good for the nation . . ." Dannatt also spoke of signs that opposition to the Iraq war is giving way to respect for the army's achievements. "You only have to reflect on the large number of homecoming parades and enthusiasm . . . I was just delighted to see the way that many towns and cities and communities welcomed regiments back . . . there is a great degree of appreciation of what our soldiers and servicemen are doing both in Iraq and in Afghanistan." Harry is the jewel in the crown of Dannatt's campaign to save the army from apathy, public distaste for operations in Iraq and political cack-handedness.

Harry also saved himself. The staged photographs, videos and interviews covering his time in Helmand contrast starkly with the shots of him lurching drunkenly out of London nightclubs. Plainly, for him, the army had worked as it should - giving purpose to a drifting existence. Hopeless Harry had become Hero Harry.

A hero is also what the royals needed. The Diana inquest may be making a fool of Mohamed Al Fayed, but it's doing the royals no favours by raking over one of the most terrible episodes in the Queen's reign. Hero Harry is a welcome distraction.

But yesterday Harry seemed to read from the wrong script. "I don't want to sit around in Windsor," he said. "I generally don't like England that much and it's nice to be away from all the press and the papers and all the general shite that they write."

The media - and especially the international paparazzi - won't take this well. They had agreed to the blackout and had taken some flattering pictures in theatre and conducted some equally flattering interviews. Harry's demeanour on leaving his plane at Brize Norton - no smile, no wave, nothing for the cameras - seemed to suggest something more than the feelings of a soldier snatched from his posting. It suggested real disappointment at being back in the royal goldfish bowl. He may have thought it was bad before he left; now it's going to be worse.

Then there's the terrorist threat. As the hate internet sites make clear, he is now the highest-value Al-Qaeda target in Britain and one of the highest in the world. "The rest will be the business of the lions of Al-Qaeda and the eagles of the Taliban," one site said before Harry was extracted. His security is now certain to be beefed up to the point where it is likely his clubbing days are over. Officers from Scotland Yard have met to discuss strategy. A senior Whitehall official said yesterday that MI5 would be monitoring radical Islamic websites to see what further threats were being made against the prince.

A skiing trip to Klosters rumoured to be planned in a month's time will be the first big test of these raised levels of protection. This will be a new experience for Harry, who has been used to living the London high life. Did he, when he fought to be allowed to face the enemy, imagine the price of victory?

The exploits of Hero Harry have been a triumph for Dannatt, the army, the prince and the royals. But now the hard work really begins - of keeping Harry focused on the reality of the new role he has made for himself, of providing him with higher levels of security and of preventing his new celebrity from, once again, destabilising the royals, that most unstable of families. Terry Taliban provides one challenge, but avoiding the fate of his mother - a woman destroyed by fame - may turn out to be the real test.


Hasidic Threats Force Art Exhibition to Close

Post below lifted from GoV. See the original for links

A Berlin gallery has temporarily closed an exhibition of satirical works by a group of Danish artists after six Hasidic Jews threatened violence unless one of the posters ridiculing Orthodox Jewish headgear and tonsorial customs was removed, it said on Thursday.

Dummer SteinNo, that’s not the news story you read yesterday. But it could have been, if Jews were the same kind of thin-skinned and perpetually offended people that Muslims are.

Yesterday’s story focused on Dummer Stein, the first photo in a sequence in a Berlin art gallery’s exhibition. The “Stupid Rock” depicted in the poster is the Kaaba, the holy shrine in Mecca. The gallery closed the show after Muslim youths entered the building and made threats.
Dummer Hut
The photo on the second poster in the series, as you can see from the larger version shown at right, is captioned Dummer Hut, or “Stupid Hat”.

Each additional poster is also a Dummer something or other, a series of “stupid” things exposed to avant-garde artistic ridicule.

But what’s being ridiculed in that second photo? Whose hat is stupid?

Dummer HutA BBC article on the incident shows the Dummer Stein poster being taken down from the wall. Next to it you can see the Dummer Hut a little more clearly.

I found yet another photo on a Swiss German-language news site.

I can’t read much German, but I found this description in the article: Das Motiv gehört zu einer ironischen Serie, in der unter anderem auch ein orthodoxer Jude mit Kopfbedeckung unter dem Titel "Dummer Hut" abgebildet ist.

Dummer HutWhich I translate as: “The subject is one of an ironic series, in which is displayed, among other things, an Orthodox Jew, with headgear, under the title ‘Stupid Hat’.”

Through the magic of modern Forensic Photology I have extracted a larger version of the Stupid Hat poster.

Dummer HutYes, it’s true: as you can see in the picture, a Orthodox Jew is tugging out his sidelocks while sporting a big dummer hat.

And now thousands of Jews have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv and burned down the Danish and German embassies, while calling for the murder of the Surrend artists.


Need anything else be said?


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

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

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


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Sunday, March 02, 2008

So women ARE different after all?

Feminists never seem to be able to make up their minds. Below is the Amazon summary of "Why Women Should Rule the World" by Dee Dee Myers. Larry Summers will no doubt be amazed. He lost his job at Harvard for saying that women are different

What would happen if women ruled the world? Everything could change, according to former White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers. Politics would be more collegial. Businesses would be more productive. And communities would be healthier. Empowering women would make the world a better place-not because women are the same as men, but precisely because they are different.

Blending memoir, social history, and a call to action, Dee Dee Myers challenges us to imagine a not-too-distant future in which increasing numbers of women reach the top ranks of politics, business, science, and academia.

Reflecting on her own tenure in the Clinton administration and her work as a political analyst, media commentator, and former consultant to NBC's The West Wing, Myers assesses the crucial but long-ignored strengths that female leaders bring to the table. "Women tend to be better communicators, better listeners, better at forming consensus," Myers argues. In a highly competitive and increasingly fractious world, women possess the kind of critical problem-solving skills that are urgently needed to break down barriers, build understanding, and create the best conditions for peace.

Myers knows firsthand the responsibilities and rewards of taking on leadership roles traditionally occupied by men. At thirty-one, she was appointed [Via the "casting couch", one imagines] White House press secretary to President Bill Clinton-the first woman ever to hold the job. In a candid look at her years in Washington's political spotlight, she recalls the day-to-day challenge of confronting a press corps obsessed with more than just the president's policies. "Virtually every story written about me included observations about my earrings, my makeup, my clothes, my shoes. And then there was my hair."

Recalling the pressures-both invited and imposed-of her West Wing years, Myers offers a hard-hitting look at the challenges women must overcome and the traps they must avoid as they travel the path toward success. From pioneering research in the laboratory, to innovations in business, entertainment, and media, to friendships that transcend partisanship in the U.S. Senate, she describes how female participation in public life has already transformed the world in which we live.

Spoiled kids

Bob Parks writes:

"I Hate Kids." That's how I always started off my after-school video production class speech. "I hate kids. I like working with young adults, but I hate kids." I'm sure some of you can imagine how quickly their little jaws drop when I say that. I remind them that when they come to the television studio, they're no longer in school where teachers have to put up with their crap. I can fire anyone for the slightest misbehaving. There are thousands of dollars of video equipment here, so I don't have the time to be a babysitter.

Today's children are not used to hearing this. They believe all the BS about them being "the future", thus most expect we adults must genuflect when in their presence. They believe they have rights, freedom of expression, and are on equal footing with adults, and to be quite honest, most lack the maturing to be awarded any of those things.

All adults should be paid to have to put up with them. For example, you couldn't pay me enough to be a school bus driver. Almost three years ago, I cited a few examples why. Nothing has changed, especially after what happened last week in Gilbert, Arizona. According to ABC News.
"Tensions began with the 15-year-old girl pretending not to be on the list of authorized passengers. The situation escalated when (driver Kim) Sullivan pulled the bus over and asked, "Why are you on this bus?" and suggested she "find another way" to get to and from school. "The tape shows Sullivan trying to confront a student trying to exit the bus at an unauthorized stop after the two got into a discussion about her being disruptive on the bus."
What would you do if an unruly teen not only played games with the rules, but also publicly challenged you in front of others? You're responsible for their safety, yet a young teenaged girl gets in your face, uses profanity, and threatens physical violence? You know however it turns out, you'll be thought of as being in the wrong, the little darling's mom will assume you were out of line, you may get fired, and probably sued.

There was a time when an authority figure's claim of our misbehaving would seal our doom with our parents. It was always assumed if a teacher said we did it, we did it. But today, if a teacher says a kid was acting up, the normal parental response is, "Are you sure it was my child? My child would never do that." The kid hears that teacher's authority challenged by the willing-sucker parent, and a future license is informally issued for future disruption.

If I were named Secretary of Education tomorrow, one of the first things I'd do away with is the notion that kids have rights. Sure, they have a reasonable expectation of coming to a safe environment and being afforded courteous treatment by school faculty and administration. But as far as their having "rights", hell no.

If the school has a dress or grooming code, some parents openly defy those rules, and sometimes go as far as suing the school. "I understand they have a dress code. I understand he has a uniform. But this is total discrimination. They can't tell me how I can cut his hair." And we get all shocked when kids act up.

When we were in school and there was a locker search, it was just done. It was understood, by students and parents alike, that those lockers were school property. Nowadays, our children assume those lockers are their own personal property and their parents would call the ACLU in a heartbeat if they felt their little darling's privacy was violated.

When we were in school, it was understood that if a bus driver told us to sit down and shut up, we did so. There was none of this getting in the face of that driver with all the R-rated language there was time to deliver. And God help us if our parents found out.

I do hate most kids today. They lack in phone etiquette, don't bathe regularly (thank you Axe), and lack manners in general. They assume they are on equal footing with adults and that we must show them respect. My father taught me that people, upon first meeting, deserved to be treated in a courteous manner. Respect was earned. I'd throw most kids under the bus today before I'd ever give them a thankless ride in one. But that's only me..


Hollywood "liberals"

By Evan Sayet

Liberals do not "self"-destruct. They only hurt others. Their "courage," their "charity" their "caring" always comes at someone else's expense. Liberals are always incredibly generous and courageous so long as they take no risks themselves and they are sure that it will cost them nothing.

Al Gore "cares" about the environment, but only so long as he personally pockets millions and thanks to a loophole available only to the super rich like him, is able to continue to run his indoor pool full bore for just a couple of pennies out of the millions he extorts from others as an "environmental expert" the way Al Sharpton makes his fortune by "consulting" on race policy at corporations.

Similarly, Ted Kennedy is a "big time environmentalist" until the day the science shows that the best place for a wind farm is off his daddy's "compound" (not far from where he got away with killing a woman not all that long ago). Suddenly "the environment" just isn't that important to him if it partially obstructs his "pristine view" of the water.

Democrats "care" about "the poor" only so long as they can tax someone else to pay for the programs they create and then tax them again to pay for the bureaucracy to handle the administration so that they don't actually have to do any work in getting that money to "the poor."

In a book called "Who Really Cares?" -- the most exhaustive study ever conducted on who actually gives to charity -- in utter opposition to what the leftist liars in the news and entertainment fields have sold for years, by far and away the MOST generous are religious conservatives and by far and away the LEAST compassionate are the secular Liberals. Brooks concludes about the leftists (I'll paraphrase from memory)"apparently some people believe that holding the right political position is a substitute for actually doing anything."

Still, one would think that destroying the movie industry -- turning it from the darling of the American people into something only twelve year olds attend -- would be a form of "self" destruction for the people who work in that industry. Nope.

Years ago there was a thing called "the studio system." It was headed by businessmen who risked their own money to make a product that would return a profit. There were a variety of reasons why they cared enough to make good movies, not least of them being that, because they were personally invested in the outcome of a movie, they wanted to keep the customer satisfied.

Then actors were what they should be, nicely paid pretty faces who had to entertain their audiences because they needed to keep working. Humphrey Bogart made a good salary, but not so much that he could say "F--k you" to his audience.

Today, folks like Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon make two, three, ten and even twenty million dollars for movies that bomb at the box office and then they are set for life. They have no personal stake in the outcome of the picture because they rarely -- if ever -- have the courage to invest in their own efforts.

Telling is that, when the "courageous" Steven Spielberg wasn't yet set for life, the movies he made were good ones and we went to see them. Back then he made "Jaws" and "E.T." and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and his audience for these good movies made him filthy rich.

It wasn't until he had pocketed so much money that no amount of failure could in any way intrude on his personal fun, that he decided to become "important," and make his Marxist-penned, lie-filled, pro-terrorist propaganda film "Munich." It, of course, bombed at the box office specifically because it was a Marxist-penned, lie-filled, pro-terrorist propaganda film, but that in no way has kept Speilberg from buying anything he wants anytime he wants it and being the toast of a town (even an Academy Award nomination for "best picture") where Marxism is adored, propaganda the goal and the terrorists their allies.

Telling is that when Sean Penn still needed money, he made the cute and fun "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." It wasn't until after he was so filthy rich that nothing could intrude on his personal fun, that he decided that he'd become an "important" and "courageous" actor and director. Can anyone think of a successful Sean Penn movie of the past, say, ten years?

Can you name me one successful movie that Susan Sarandon has ever made? Why would she bother. He biggest grossing movie ever (in real dollars) was "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" where this great "artist" spent the entire movie in her panties singing "Toucha-toucha-toucha-touch me." Soon thereafter she discovered her "courage" so long as the residual checks kept pouring in from the movie where she showed off the goods.

Meanwhile, while Spielberg, Penn and Sarandon continue to pocket the ten, twenty and thirty million dollar guarantees for movies that bomb each and every time out, the middle class worker who finances their efforts through their pension plans and 401Ks continues to pay the bills. Remember, Liberals are ALWAYS generous, so long as it's someone else's money.

You know how leftists love to bitch about CEO's who, at the age sixty-five -- after forty years of being one of the people working their way up the ladder -- make something like fifty times the salary of their average employee (including interns and menial-skilled workers). Ever try to calculate what Spielberg makes on each failed movie compared to what the gaffers, grips and the driver of the "roach coach" makes? Clooney gets, what, ten...twenty...THIRTY million dollars for six weeks "work?" Let's say he does two, three or four movies a year, that's, taking the middle figure, eighty million dollars a year not counting residuals, merchandising, and other huge paydays for doing nothing.

Compare and contrast that with the average annual income of the people who actually do the work of making a movie -- the gaffer and the best boy, for example. I don't think the carpenter on the set is making a million a year of one eightieth of what a "courageous" guy like Clooney makes.

And it's not like these leftists don't know it. Consider the song by Jackson Browne, his highest grossing album ever, "Running on Empty." He closes the album with a "tribute" to the peons in his life including "the roadies."

"They're the first to come and the last to leave," he sings, adding "working for that minimum wage." The hardest working people Browne knows, so, to help them, he wrote them a song, put it on his album, and made a ton more money for himself. What a guy. What a leftist!

Want to know who are amongst the highest paid "below-the-line" people on a movie set? The stars' hairdressers and make-up artists. Want to know why they are so highly paid? Because the stars force the studios (i.e. the middle-aged worker in Iowa who owns Universal Studios stock as part of her retirement package) to pick up the tab for their friends.

Liberals are "compassionate," so long as it doesn't cost them a dime. They are "charitable" so long as the charity comes from taxing someone else. They are "courageous" so long as they risk nothing. They "care" so long as it in no way infringes upon their fun.


Australian Center-Leftist Prime Minister says No to intellectual Left agenda

Kevin Rudd has assured mainstream Australia he will avoid radical social and cultural change by resisting calls to broaden his reform agenda and by sticking to his election promises. The Prime Minister warned that people had "elected the wrong guy" if they believed that once he was in power he would unveil a secret left-wing reform agenda or suddenly yield to pressure from sectional interests.

Calling for people to move beyond "the classical Right-Left divide", Mr Rudd said he had been upfront about his election promises and would focus on delivering them in full. "There's nothing terribly complicated about me," Mr Rudd said. "If you obtain the people's support, that's what you go ahead and do."

The Prime Minister made the comments in an interview with The Weekend Australian to mark Monday's passage of 100 days since he was elected. He also said he had no interest in debating whether the private sector should be contracted to deliver government services, and foreshadowed plans to engage the private sector in his fight to improve the lives of indigenous Australians.

He said that despite the threat to the economy of inflation, he would deliver his promised $31 billion tax-cut plan in full. And despite Opposition warnings of a possible wages breakout, he would also rewrite industrial relations laws as planned.

Mr Rudd will celebrate his 100-day landmark still riding a wave of public support for his formal apology to the indigenous Stolen Generations and his ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The latest Newspoll survey for The Australian, published last week, gave him a record preferred prime minister rating of 70 per cent.

In the lead-up to the election, the Coalition warned voters that Mr Rudd would be a captive of trade union leaders, state Labor governments and sectional interests, and that his pre-election claims of economic conservatism would quickly disappear after he was elected. The Prime Minister also faces a growing clamour from the Left for wider reform outside the promises he made in last year's election campaign. A collection of 20 essays written by academics and thinkers released last week and edited by Robert Manne calls for Mr Rudd to "resume the conversation between public intellectuals and government". The essays urge him to consider some politically risky moves such as scrapping 99-year leases on indigenous land, overhauling negative gearing, limiting first-home buyers' grants and introducing punitive laws on electricity generation and car emissions.

Yesterday Mr Rudd said he had no secret plans and gave short shrift to the wish list. "I think they might have elected the wrong guy," Mr Rudd said. The Prime Minister said he was not worried that his approach would alienate the left wing of the labour movement, stressing that politics had moved "beyond the classical Left-Right paradigm". "It just doesn't apply to the politics of the future," Mr Rudd said. "It's time to put some of these classical, and I think arcane, divides behind us."

Mr Rudd, whose wife, Therese Rein, built a successful job-placement company by delivering Job Network services for the previous Howard government, said the quality of government service was more important than the delivery mechanism. Citing the example of his election promise to lift indigenous life expectancy and literacy standards, Mr Rudd said: "It's not who provides services to indigenous communities, it's who most effectively provides those services to deliver what isthe agreed national set of policy outcomes. "That's where the real debate is. It's not in debates about public or private ownership or classical divides between Left and Right. The key thing here is to have a clearly defined set of objectives for the nation. Then the legitimate intellectual and policy debate for the country, given that we've been elected, is how we best reach those objectives."

The Prime Minister said the high point of his first 100 days was the fact that he could "look the Australian people in the eye" and declare he was keeping his election promises, such as the Kyoto ratification and the indigenous apology. "Why I say that is a high point is that the public have become exceptionally cynical about 'core promises and non-core promises'," he said, referring to his predecessor, John Howard. "I think we have to work incredibly hard, therefore, in order to maintain the public's trust in order to do the things you will need to do into the future."

The low point of his first three months had been the assassination attempt on East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta - a close friend.

Mr Rudd said he was surprised by the strong national and international reaction to his apology to the Stolen Generations. But he would not be truly satisfied unless he followed the apology with real improvements in indigenous health and education standards. "I am also acutely conscious of the fact that to get effective local community buy-in, we're going to end up with hundreds of different solutions on the ground across the 400 remote Aboriginal communities across the country," he said. "But the ultimate policy effectiveness will be measured against the targets we've set."



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, March 01, 2008

Paper Orphans

Family rights are being violated. With the swipe of a judge's pen families are being destroyed, thus creating paper orphans. Thousands of children are taken from their homes each year, fueling the federally subsidized child abuse industry

The Adoption and Safe Families Act, (ASFA), was passed in 1997 by the US Congress. The purpose of this Bill was to protect children from lingering in foster care. In some cases children were literally being lost in foster care in some of America's larger cities. The idea was to find permanent placement for children within a designated time frame. Attached to this movement of children would be financial incentives and bonuses to states for compliance with mandates. Thus, the Child Abuse Industry in America was now, subsidized by the Federal Government.

One would hope that ASFA would make our children safer, at lower risk for neglect, abuse, and lower numbers of children in foster care. This has not been the case! In my opinion the goals of ASFA have grossly failed! ASFA demands that the child welfare agency be responsible for ensuring the safety of children in out-of-home care. Yet, nationwide hundreds of children have died while in the care of "professional parents".

The actual outcome of ASFA has been a higher number of children in foster care. There has been a massive increase in parental terminations, and adoptions of America's children. The issue that needs to be pointed out here, is that not only are the parent's rights to have a relationship with their children terminated, all family members are terminated from having a relationship with these children.

Who is really benefiting from ASFA? The professional parents (foster/adoptive parents), the contracted mental health care providers, the residential and treatment centers, the growing demand for more social workers being hired to handle the caseloads, etc. According to statistics from the National Child Protection Reform each child that is in the system generates an estimated residual economic development figure of $250,000.00 or more per year! This tells me that our children are being harvested as a subsidized cash crop. When the market numbers increase then dividends in the form of bonuses are paid to the states.

The children who are being protected from their parents, (who are rarely if ever charged under any criminal abuse or neglect statue) are going to age out of the system without an adequate education, little or no social skills, little or no work experience, disenfranchised from their families and communities, on psychotropic drugs. What future does that hold for them? What are the residual costs to the taxpayers going to be? Are we just grooming our youth for their eventual commitment to our prison systems?

All of the proceedings that take place (with the exception of the rare criminal abuse charges,) are done by Administrative proceedings under a veil of secrecy. There is no jury, no evidence, only hearsay of the Case Worker, no witnesses or open trail, because of "the child's confidentiality". I don't know of one case where the child(ren) were present in court to testify. The parents are adjudicated and placed on the Nation Registry of Child Abusers. They lose their family. They are told by everyone who hears their story, "They can't do that!" But the fact remains it was done, is being done and will continue to be done until American families stand together to demand that their Constitutional right to parent their children is restored, and that the child protection system be reformed. However, they don't do that for fear they will some how suffer further consequences from the State. Or they believe the biggest lie.parents in America have all gone mad and only professional parents and social workers care about and are capable of loving these "poor" children!

I am not suggesting, nor do I believe that there are not children who are being abused. What I am saying is that thousands of children are being removed arbitrarily and without substantiated cause from their homes. Some of these families only needed services that could've been provided with the children still in the home. I would like to note that according to national statistics children in foster care are at much higher risk of sexual and physical abuse then in the home of their parents. Federal legislation provides a foundation for States by identifying a minimum set of acts or behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (42 U.S.C.A. 5106g), as amended by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:

* Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or

* An act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

After huge class action lawsuits were brought against 32 states, 30 of them reformed their child protection policies with great success in focusing on family preservation and in-home family services that reduced the cost to taxpayers and made children safer.

I know that most of you are thinking to yourself, "These parents have abused their children and are in denial, blaming the system." According to the statistics filed with the Child Welfare League of America (www. cwla.org) prior to ASFA in 1998 there were 55 adoptions in South Dakota and no children waiting to be adopted, 5 years later there were 144 adoptions and a staggering 464 children waiting to be adopted. The state last year received an adoption bonus of $56,000.00 for adoptions over their baseline number. Residential foster care in 2000 cost taxpayers in $4,498,452.00. Two years later in 2002 that amount had increased to $17,212,505.00! Folks, this is about the money, not about protecting children! From 1996 to 2004 the federal budget increased in SD by 128.6% and the state budget by 53.0%! Did all the parents in SD just start going nuts on their children over that six-year period? I think not! I believe money and economic development in the newly subsidized child abuse industry increased these numbers.

South Dakota has a 9% total Native American population, according to the Governor's Commission on the Indian Child Welfare Act. Yet more than 65% of the children removed from the home are Native American. I believe this number, is also motivated by funding and opportunity. South Dakota has a statue that allows the Secretary of Social Services to collect funding from the Department of Interior for the cost of their care. Thus, Indian children are worth double the money to the state. Even though this has been denied by DSS at Appropriations and Government Operation and Audit Committee meetings, I find it hard to believe that they would go to the trouble of having legislation drafted for such an action and not utilize it. (Chapter 28 SDCL)

In a recent Rapid City Journal article it stated that 81% of the children were taken for reasons of neglect. What the Social Workers view as neglect is arbitrary. Virtually anything can be used against parents to justify the interrogation of your children at schools by police officers, social workers and counselors to intimidate children, ask leading and open ended questions that are used to ultimately destroy the family. These children then are removed from the school without the knowledge of the parents and placed in foster care. Poverty and its effects are often confused with neglect. Instead of the state, social and community organizations helping these parents overcome the financial struggles they suffer their children they are ripped from their lives.

The Government does not exist for any other reason than to protect the interests of the individual. The Government has no rights, only powers and duties. There is no provision for this non-governmental action in our Constitution. In fact the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled at least fifteen times on the right of parents to raise own their children.

The state of South Dakota has statues that forbid the State, it's officers or agent to violate the Constitution or US Supreme Court rulings. See SDCL 1-1A-1 and 1-1A-2. In Lehr vs. Robertson, 463 US 248,) The linkage between parental duty and parental right was stressed again in Prince v. Massachusetts ... The Court declared it a cardinal principle "that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder." In these cases, the Court has found that the relationship of love and duty in a recognized family unit is an interest in liberty entitled to Constitutional protection ... "State intervention to terminate such a relationship ... must be accomplished by procedures meeting the requisites of the Due Process Clause" Santosky v. Kramer .

America's children are not safer. Families are not being honored as the most primary social structure of our culture. The very foundation of a child's normal development is being disassembled by states. The States create the problem, then they are the solution. The States create orphans, then they are the adoption agency.


Robert Jastrow, 1925-2008

A great thinker and man of wisdom, Robert Jastrow, died the other day. The obituaries noted his many scientific accomplishments--he was a physicist and a by-God rocket scientist-- but they missed entirely the substantial vindications of his most controversial theories, especially his endorsement of the idea that US technological advancements could effectively bankrupt the then-rampaging USSR, and even make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete." Could it have been an accident that those vindications were precisely the ones that enraged liberals the most?

Dr. Jastrow added a weighty voice to the debate in January 1984 about Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" strategic defense initiative with a long essay in Commentary magazine: ""Reagan vs. the Scientists: Why the President Is Right About Missile Defense." When we consider that Dr. Jastrow died the same week the Navy shot down a falling satellite with an SDI-style "bullet hitting a bullet" shot, and when US forces in the Middle East are using relatively tiny explosive payloads to obliterate jihadis surrounded by densely populated civilian neighborhoods, it is beyond belief that the man's ideas from the early 1980's have been covered up so thoroughly by the MSM. Was this man not a visionary?:
The key to these technologies is the miniaturized computer. Extraordinary developments in the miniaturization of computer circuits enable millions of transistors and other electronic components to be packed into a space the size of a thumbnail. As a result, defense technicians now have the means for building elaborate computer brains into a very small missile-a mini-missile-so that it can steer itself toward its target. Sensing the target either by its delicate emanation of heat waves, or by its radar reflections, the mini-missile analyzes the product of its senses within its highly capable computer brain, and directs a succession of messages to small rockets arranged around its circumference. Delicate thrusts of these rockets steer the defending missile into the path of the oncoming ICBM warhead.

The result is either destruction of the warhead by a direct impact, or an explosion of the mini-missile in the vicinity, releasing a cloud of flying metal fragments. The warhead, moving ten times faster than a bullet, tears into the cloud of fragments; the skin of the warhead is punctured in many places; its electronics are disabled; and the nuclear bomb inside it is disarmed.

In essence, the defense consists in tossing into the path of the speeding warhead some TNT and a keg of nails. What makes this simple defense work is its computer brain.

The amount of TNT need not be very large. One mini-missile of the kind described, currently being tested by the Army, contains less than 100 pounds of explosive. The reason is that the defending missile does not have to destroy the warhead to be effective; it only has to prevent the nuclear bomb inside the warhead from exploding. That happens to be fairly easy, because nuclear bombs do not go off very readily; elaborate arrangements and a great deal of fragile electronics are needed to make one explode. Accordingly, a small charge of TNT, or a cluster of high-speed metal pellets, will usually be sufficient to disarm the bomb's mechanism.


Getting back to President Reagan's [first SDI] speech, one of the main criticisms of his plan was that a defense against ICBM's can never be 100-percent effective. This criticism also applies to the smart mini-missiles. If these missiles were intended for the direct defense of American cities, they might not be of much value, because even a few ICBM warheads leaking through such a defense would kill millions of Americans. However, the situation is very different when a defending missile is intended only for the protection of missile silos and other military sites. Suppose, for example, that the defense of the silos is only 50-percent effective-a conservative estimate for the technologies described above. This means that roughly half the attacking warheads will accomplish their purpose. Therefore, the USSR will be required to make its ICBM arsenal twice as big as it is today, to regain the level of threat it possessed before the defense was put in place. In other words, it will have to buy another ICBM for every one it already has.

The Soviet Union has spent about $500 billion on the build-up of its ICBM arsenal over twenty years and might be hard-pressed to spend another $500 billion in a short time. Even if the USSR does increase its missile forces in an effort to overwhelm our defense, we can increase the number of defending missiles around each silo and once again reduce to an acceptable level the number of Soviet warheads that would reach their targets. This response is practical because each defending little missile costs considerably less than the warhead it is aimed at. Estimates by a team of scientists at Los Alamos indicate that if the Soviet Union tries to overcome an American missile defense by building more rockets and warheads, its costs will increase at least twice as fast as ours. In this situation, in which the ratio of costs heavily favors the defense over the offense, the Soviet Union may be led to rethink its whole strategy of striving for military dominance with weapons of mass destruction.
[Note: This was written more than a year before Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, and more than two years before Gorbachev unveiled his plans for glasnost and perestroika]
For nearly forty years, since the first atomic explosion at Alamogordo, the nuclear bomb has dominated strategic weaponry. But technicians make new facts, and new facts make a new strategic calculus. We are on the threshold of revolutionary gains in the accuracy of intercontinental ballistic missiles, created by the incorporation of computer brains into missile warheads.

In the future, the smart ICBM warhead, equipped with electronic brains and infrared or radar "eyes," will hitch a ride to the general vicinity of the target on its ICBM bus; then, disembarking, it will steer itself into a particular spot on the target within a yard or two to accomplish its task with nice precision. Consider the possibilities opened for the military planner by this development.

A Soviet charge of TNT, carried across the ocean by an ICBM, guides itself down the smokestack of the Consolidated Edison plant in New York; an American warhead of TNT, carried 5,000 miles in the nose of an ICBM, drops down onto a critical transformer in the Moscow power grid; a bridge is destroyed by a small explosive charge ferried across oceans and continents on an ICBM, and carefully placed at the foot of a pier. A small, artfully shaped charge of TNT is delivered to the door of a Minuteman or SS-19 silo; exploding, it pierces a hole in the silo door, spraying the interior with shrapnel and destroying the missile. It is not necessary to crush the entire silo with the violence of a nuclear warhead; missiles are fragile, and gentler means suffice to disable them.

Command posts, ammunition dumps, highways, and airport runways-all are vulnerable to conventional explosives skillfully targeted. Nearly every task allotted to nuclear weapons today can be accomplished in the future by missiles armed with non-nuclear, smart warheads.
[This "accuracy revolution" enabled US forces in Afghanistan to accomplish in 2 months what the much-larger Soviet forces couldn't accomplish in 10 years...And the annihilation of the entire military infrastructure of Iraq was achieved in about the same time, with about 1% of the civilian casualties that such a campaign would traditionally have required]
And when nuclear weapons are not needed, they will not be used. That may seem unlikely, but consider the following facts. A nuclear weapon has many defects from a military point of view. Because of its destructive power and radioactivity, it tends to kill innocent civilians, even if used sparingly in a surgically clean strike at military targets. If used in great numbers, nuclear weapons stir up clouds of radioactive material that roll back with the prevailing pattern of the winds, carrying their poisons with them into the land of the attacker.

Finally, these weapons generate emotional reactions of such intensity that the military planner can only hold them in reserve to use as a last resort; he cannot release his nuclear arsenal in gradual increments, adjusted to the military needs of each situation.

In other words, nuclear weapons are messy, and, other things being equal, the military planner will avoid them. They will never disappear entirely; some blockbusters will always be stockpiled by the superpowers as a deterrent to a genocidal attack on their cities and civilians. But as the accuracy of smart warheads increases, and more military tasks can be accomplished by non-nuclear explosives, the tasks assigned to nuclear warheads will diminish, and the size of the world's nuclear arsenals will decrease.

The shrinkage has already been observed in the armaments of the U.S. and the USSR. Nuclear weapons in the American arsenal are now one seventh their size twenty-five years ago, and the total megatonnage of our arsenal is one-quarter what it was then. Figures available to me on Soviet nuclear weapons go back only ten years, but in that short interval, while the number of Soviet warheads increased enormously, the average size of an individual warhead decreased by a factor of three.

These changes in the sizes of the world's nuclear arsenals have resulted from rather modest improvements in the accuracy of missiles, but the technology of the smart warhead is still in its infancy. When it reaches its maturity, and the precision of delivery of explosives across continents can be measured in feet rather than in hundreds of yards, the military uses of the nuclear bomb will dwindle into nothingness. And so it may come to pass, as President Reagan suggested, that the scientists who gave us nuclear weapons will also give us "the means of rendering these weapons impotent and obsolete."
Rest in peace, Dr. Robert Jastrow, a great American and by all accounts a great guy. Oh, and never forget: the late great Ronald Reagan was just a dumb actor, and the people who supported him were equally dumb, gulled by his nice smile. They sure weren't rocket scientists! Right?


Australia: Alcoholic black parents force children to suckle dogs

Aboriginal children in Outback Australia are so neglected by their alcoholic parents that some have suckled from dogs' teats in a desperate search for food, it has been reported. The shocking revelation came from a coroner investigating the appalling rates of suicide among Aborigines living in the remote and beautiful Kimberley region of Western Australia. Earlier this month the prime minister, Kevin Rudd, delivered a much-publicised apology to Aborigines for past injustices, but critics questioned whether his words would lead to any practical improvement in the wretched lives of indigenous people

"The plight of the little children was especially pathetic and, for many of these, the future is bleak," said coroner Alastair Hope. He was presenting a 122 page report into the deaths of 22 men and women in the region since 2000, some by suicide but all linked to alcohol and drugs. During his research, he heard evidence that malnourished children had been sucking the teats of dogs for food and that young men had attempted suicide after being refused a can of beer.

Aborigines in isolated towns like Fitzroy Crossing lived in overcrowded, ramshackle houses surrounded by rubbish and with little furniture. People slept on filthy foam mattresses beside diseased dogs in temperatures which reach 40C or more in summer. "In these communities there is nothing to do for most of the inhabitants for most of the time. Alcohol and drugs provide an escape," Mr Hope said. There was "little refinement" about the binge drinking, with Aborigines becoming stone drunk on warm beer and wine mixed together. Some died after wandering onto roads and being hit by cars. The welfare of Aboriginal people was nothing less than "a disaster", Mr Hope said, in a report which highlighted how little Aborigines have benefited from Australia's 17-year run of economic prosperity.

"These are horrific findings from the coronial inquiry," said indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin. "Findings that I'm sorry to say are repeated in many parts of remote Australia." Alcohol abuse was so entrenched among Aborigines in the Kimberley that foetal alcohol syndrome was 21.5 times higher compared with the rest of Western Australia.

Mr Hope said that widespread alcohol abuse and extreme negligence left Aboriginal children vulnerable to sexual abuse. Despite spending GBP 565 million a year on tackling Aboriginal disadvantage, the Western Australian government's approach was "seriously flawed" because funds were allocated to 22 different agencies with little coordination. The coroner called for restrictions on the availability of full-strength alcohol and the linking of welfare payments with adults' caring adequately for their children.

"Even if we did everything right as from today, we are still heading into hell. We have a huge problem from the legacy of the past," said a local MP, Tom Stephens. "Even just tackling everything right from now, we've got a descent into chaos and crisis like you would never believe possible."


Australia: Leftist black welfare policy just a pale imitation of conservative policies

By Andrew Bolt

JENNY Macklin should praise John Howard for daring to do it first. It was Howard as prime minister who had to cop the most obscene vilification for deciding that Aborigines in the Northern Territory's worst communities would have their pensions quarantined to make sure their kids were fed. Typical was the National Sorry Day Committee, which shamefully abused him as the "dog of white supremacy" wanting "to return to its vomit". But this same committee was this week silent as Macklin, Indigenous Affairs Minister in the new Rudd Government, extended part of Howard's evil reforms to Western Australia. Out of breath, I guess.

Macklin on Wednesday announced a mini-Howard. She'd give Centrelink the power to hold back part of the pensions it gave to dysfunctional Aboriginal families to make sure they went to feeding the children. Pray for the children whose parents need to be forced to feed them. Macklin's policy is less broad-brush than that imposed by Howard on the NT. It affects only some individuals rather than whole communities, and doesn't come with other sweeping changes - which is probably why it won't work as well. But without Howard's example last year, it's doubtful Labor would have dared even this little. And even then it took a truly shocking report by the West Australian coroner to force Macklin's hand.

Alistair Hope had investigated the deaths of 22 young Aboriginal people from the Kimberley, and found that many young Aboriginal men and women in the region were so drunk or drugged they killed themselves, while others were so paralytic that they died on the road as they left the pub. "It appears that Aboriginal welfare, particularly in the Kimberley, constitutes a disaster, but no one is in charge of the disaster response," Hope wrote. Welfare money vanished on booze, drugs, gambling or hard porn, leaving many children hungry. The children of Aboriginal parents were also more than 20 times more likely to suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. "The plight of the little children was especially pathetic and, for many of these, the future is bleak," Hope said. No kidding?

In fact, it should run like 240 volts through our complacency that Hope heard evidence that some children were so starved they allegedly sucked the teats of their dogs.

A little quarantining of welfare is, of course, hopelessly inadequate. Why in God's name don't we at least scoop up such children and save them? But that battle was lost with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's foolish sorry to the "stolen generations". By saying sorry to 50,000 "stolen" children who didn't exist, Rudd has made it harder to "steal" thousands of children who very much do exist and desperately need help. Thanks to him, the counterattack against saving such children is on for real. Newspaper reports this week revealed Aboriginal activists were now fighting the Northern Territory's Family and Children's Services to return children they'd saved from struggling communities.

Indeed, Glen Dooley, of the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Association, even claimed that sending more welfare workers to help children in black communities might cause "destructive effects" to "rival the fallout from the stolen generation". Excuse me, Mr Dooley, but doesn't the sickening evidence show that if we err it is in removing too few black children, not too many? What a nightmare we've made with our fake history and fake guilt.

Even discussing the only solution left is not possible in polite society. And, no, I don't mean crudely stealing black children from destructive families in hellish communities. I mean turning off the welfare that keeps those sick communities alive, far from jobs, schools, opportunities and hope. Integration, not separation, is the only solution. In a couple of decades more of suffering, we may at last debate this. Pity today's children.



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

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

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


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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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