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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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bigotry and Contempt at Taxpayer Expense

Once upon a time, feminism stood for fairness, equality, and possibility. But feminism traces its roots back to Karl Marx, George Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. That fact alone should make us think twice before acquiescing to the insistent demands of the women's libbers. Rep. Howard Berman, California Democrat, recently introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 5927). Known to its supporters as I-VAWA, the bill is based on the Violence Against Women Act, first signed into law in 1994 at the behest of First Lady Hillary Clinton.

The crusade to stop intimate partner violence began in 1972 when activist Erin Pizzey established the first woman's abuse shelter in London. Pizzey quickly discovered that many of the women in her shelter were just as violent as their partners. That led her to conclude that partner abuse is a human, not gender-specific problem. That revelation didn't sit well with the rad-fems, who were determined to usurp the domestic violence issue to leap-frog their own political agenda. So they stormed the meetings and Pizzey was soon voted out. These experiences compelled Pizzey to pen an expose called "How the Women's Movement Taught Women to Hate Men." Her essay highlights spiteful women like the zealot who openly declared, "We don't like men .If there is ever to be any equality, marriage and the family must be abolished." Thanks to the domestic violence movement, the contempt of men began to spread across the globe.

In Canada, abuse shelters became known as "one-stop divorce shops" that forbade women to reconcile with their partners. It got so bad that former shelter resident Nezha Saad revealed to a local judge, "I was put under tremendous pressure.to say even more negative things about my husband to get him in more trouble with the law."

Disdain for men permeates the domestic violence industry in the United States, as well. Three years ago conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly excoriated the Violence Against Women Act as the "hate-men law." That damning appraisal is confirmed by numerous industry insiders. (Caution: vulgar language ahead!) In Minnesota a shelter director left her job in disgust because the residents were subjected to a constant barrage of lesbian propaganda that said in so many words, "All men are sh*ts, all men are abusers."

Joy Taylor, who had volunteered at her local shelter, was shocked by the staff's militant feminist ideology. "Men were always presented at potential abusers; any goodness one might see in them was only temporary," she revealed.

In Washington state, the head of one shelter admitted, "Whenever I speak of male abuse, I am met with disbelief and, even worse, laughter." Many of these shelters not only turn away male victims of violence, they even refuse to accept adolescent males who are children of female abuse victims.

One Seattle-area judge wrote, "I am a member of the advisory committee for the local shelter. I was shocked at the anti-male bias of the ladies who ran the center. My committee expressed concern about the underlying anti-male bias which even showed up in the name of the shelter."

The Violence Against Women Act also bankrolls educational programs for law enforcement personnel. In California, retired police officer George Sperry described domestic violence training classes as "so dripping with male hatred that everyone in the class felt uncomfortable, male and female officers alike." In 2006 the presenter at a West Virginia seminar openly referred to a man accused of domestic violence as a "scum bag," at the same time making light of a Florida incident where a young man was sexually assaulted by his female teacher.

So it's probably no surprise that the International Violence Against Women Act is filled with numerous one-sided and alarmist claims that amount to a spiteful indictment of the male species. The bill is filled with neo-Marxist cant about "power inequities." But no where does the bill mention the recent 32-nation survey that found women were more likely to strike the first blow. And of course the proposed law never mentions that men are twice as likely as women to die of violence-related causes.

The domestic violence industry needs a top-to-bottom house-cleaning. Scratch below the veneer of self-serving clich,s like "helping battered women escape the cycle of abuse," and you'll find a self-perpetuating industry that cares only about breaking up families and vilifying men. All this thanks to the largesse of the U.S. taxpayer, to the tune of $1 billion a year. And this is what Rep. Berman wants to export to the rest of the world.


Now it's reformed homosexuals getting pummeled

Verbal to violent, attacks rise against former homosexuals

Homosexual activist groups long have denied that ex-"gays" exist and have charged those ministries that work with the needs of those desiring to leave the lifestyle are fraudulent. One such activist even recently attributed the crime of rape to the "sickness" of the ex-"gay" movement.

But some attacks on those who have left the lifestyle, or are trying to, go far beyond verbal denigration, according to those who have experienced it, including Joe and Marion Allen. Their son Bart was in the process of leaving the homosexual lifestyle in 2001 when the "gay" with whom he'd shared an apartment strangled and killed him. The Allens now run a ministry called Hope for the Broken Heart and they have spoken at conferences for the ex-"gay" ministry Exodus International simply because they cannot be silent about the tragedy in their family, and they want to help others avoid a similar result.

"He [Bart] was in the process of trying to come away from this, and was just involved with a sick, sick man," Mrs. Allen told WND. "He was wanting help. He did not understand his feelings and we certainly did not understand his feelings. "Thank goodness our child was a believer. He did love the Lord and he was miserable. He knew what the Scriptures said about it," she said. The family looked for help from a counselor but found, instead, despair. "When Bart came out of her office, he looked like he had been given a death sentence. I know this lady did not realize what she was doing . but she had told him he was born gay," she said.

"She told him we were doing him an injustice by telling him this was wrong and he needed to go on back [to the homosexual lifestyle]," she said. Her son did go back, but still couldn't accept his own lifestyle choices any longer, and asked the other man to leave the apartment. "He was trying to make a break and he wanted help. He [Bart] called him from our house, and told him [to move out]," she said. Her son asked the apartment building managers to change his locks, but they declined, assuring him the keys could not be duplicated. "We don't know [what happened]. The police told us Bart was asleep. He [the attacker] got in and strangled him to death with his hands and a dog leash," Mrs. Allen said.

While violence rising to the level of homicide is not reported a great deal, the lower levels of harassment and badgering are growing, according those who have experienced or witnessed it. Among recent situations that have developed in the ongoing argument over the 'innateness" on homosexuality:

* Officials at a New England organization have reported that members of a transgender lobby have promised to shadow grandmothers and others who will be collecting petition signatures on a traditional marriage amendment plan this summer.

* Actions by members of the homosexual community recently prompted the American Psychiatric Association to cancel what was to be a discussion of the lifestyle.

* And prominent leaders of the homosexual community have stated that only they benefit from hate crimes laws, those laws that enhance a penalty for crimes already covered by other statutes based on the thoughts that accompany the criminal act.

The Allens connected with the Exodus International Ministry and have been working through that, and their own project, to offer help to those who want guidance by sharing their own experiences. "I guess you never get over things, of course, but it has been almost seven years. We still cry," she said.

Regina Griggs, the executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, said her organization and staff members repeatedly have been attacked simply because of their message: that there are such individuals as former homosexuals.

Some attacks have been physical, such as the 2007 incident at the Arlington County Fair. There, police told WND, there was a confrontation between an individual who got upset over the PFOX message about leaving homosexuality and a volunteer at the fair booth. "One officer told me today he was on patrol at the fair when a woman approached him and told him a man had knocked over pamphlets at the PFOX booth and assaulted another man there. The officer then spoke to the alleged victim. He did not want to press charges and therefore no written report was filed," said a statement issued by John Lisle, media relations officer for the Arlington County police department.

"Based on the description the officer was given, he located the suspect at the fair. Another officer escorted that gentleman off the fair grounds," his statement continued. The result of the situation? Pro-homosexual activists vigorously condemned Griggs for "making up" the story when she alerted supporters about the situation. "Regina Griggs has lost all credibility and must resign in shame for her dishonest behavior," wrote Wayne Besen, executive director of the homosexual advocacy group Truth Wins Out. "What PFOX did was warped, twisted and an insult (sic) real hate crime victims."

Griggs said at the time, "The gays became infuriated when our ex-gay volunteers testified about leaving homosexuality. . One gay man went so far as to hit our ex-gay volunteer because he refused to recant his ex-gay testimony."

The fair was one of the events to which PFOX was admitted. Several other major influences in America today, including the National Education Association, and the Parent-Teachers Association, simply refuse to allow PFOX to appear at their events.

Griggs said her most recent application for an event was returned to her unopened. NEA and PTA officials refused to respond to WND requests for comment on their censorship policies.

Those who condemn homosexuality also face electronic badgering. When Sally Kern, an Oklahoma lawmaker, vocally rejected the homosexual lifestyle choice as a threat, she was inundated with tens of thousands of e-mails in a coordinated attack on her beliefs. Some of the e-mails threatened her.

In a PFOX commentary, the question was raised: "Why is it that the term 'ex-gay' so threatens the gay community?" That's because, "It implies that one remains homosexual by choice. That the gay person need not continue in the homosexual lifestyle is an unsettling message. It is far easier to believe that there is no way out than to contemplate the rigors of the change process. Let no one deceive themselves by thinking that leaving the homosexual lifestyle is an easy thing to do. It is extremely difficult. It is only when we totally give up and say, 'Lord, I can't do it on my own,' that we allow God the opportunity to come in and begin to remake our lives. The process is slow and the gay person encounters much in the way of spiritual warfare. The enemy does not allow anyone to easily slip out of his control. Indeed, the ex-gay person passes through the fire."

But the label itself is important, they say. "It is our witness to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. It is the ray of hope that flickers within the gay community that homosexuality is not a terminal condition. In itself, it says, 'There IS a way out!'"

Griggs told WND the movement is becoming more aggressive in teaching that homosexuality is something people are born with, not something they choose for whatever reasons. "We have a school board teaching homosexuality is innate. We have judges ruling schools are not required to teach fact-based [sex education] information," she said. "Basically they are silencing anyone who holds a different opinion. Their sole concern is about advancing that homosexuality is normal, natural and healthy and should have all the equal benefits of marriage.

"If you come at it from a Christian perspective, that makes you a homophobe," she said, citing the case of a University of Toledo administrator who was fired for expressing her personal Christian testimony regarding homosexuality. "They're not seeking equality; they're seeking total control," she said.

National statistics on crimes victimizing those who are leaving the homosexual lifestyle are virtually untracked, but a federal study does reveal that there is a level of violence involving same-sex partners. The 2000 study that cites those statistics, however, notes that most intimate partner victimizations are not reported to police. The federal study did reveal that violence between "partners" is more common among male same-sex duos than among female same-sex duos, women living with women reported less "intimate partner violence" than women living with men but men living in homosexual situations reported a higher rate of assault than men living with women.

At The State of America, an author raised the issue of the springtime event, the Day of Silence, which promotes homosexuality in public schools under the guise of highlighting "discrimination" against "gays." "The Day of Truth is simply a day of counter-cultural political activism. A day of silence would almost be okay if it was about all bullying, all intolerance, and all discrimination, but it is not. What about the harassment of the goofy looking guy with glasses, or the person with a big wart on her neck, or the one with too many ugly pimples, or wimps, or nerds, or those who wear black cloaks and look like gangsters, or all the others who are often harassed because of appearance or speech problem or whatever? Gays are certainly not the only one silenced, harassed, bullied, alienated, or isolated. A lot of kids have been murdered by others kids because of being harassed before and since the Columbine massacre. Why is their not a national day of protest for them? Because gays are the only group with a corporate funded political agenda."

"Each year thousands of men and women with same-sex attractions make the personal decision to leave homosexuality by means of reparative therapy, ex-gay ministry or group counseling. Their choice is one only they can make. However, there are others who refuse to respect that choice, and endeavor to attack the ex-gay community. Consequently, ex-gays are subject to an increasingly hostile environment where they are reviled or attacked as perpetrators of hate and discrimination simply because they dare to exist," Griggs said.

Researcher Georges Rekers, of the University of South Carolina, in a review of studies, confirms the results indicate homosexuality can be changed "significantly." "[The research] demonstrates with convincing scientific evidence that the Christian ministry interventions of Exodus International produce strong and clinically meaningful changes in homosexual orientation in a large percentage of individuals. Furthermore this . research . yielded no evidence to support the common assumption that attempts to change sexual orientation cause harm or psychological distress," he said in a report on the website for The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality.

Exodus officials had protested when Congress recently considered the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, H.R 1592, which was to protect those with "sexual orientation" issues. According to a Baptist Press report, a spokesman said the legislation was discriminatory. "What we're saying is this legislation is unfair, because it means that I was more valuable as a homosexual than I am today as a former homosexual," the spokesman said.


The ‘Blind Dogmatists’ of the Condom Scam

Elites, pundits and celebrities frequently cite the Catholic Church as responsible for the spread of AIDS in Africa by her refusal to support condom use as a solution

Among my rather eclectic circle of friends are a handful of street preachers who are regularly abused, ridiculed and threatened by those they try to reach. The preachers lament that people just don't seem to respect the Christian faith any more. I tell them “It might not make you feel any better, but they don't respect pure science either.”

Nowhere is this blindness more apparent than in the frenetic efforts to slow or halt the African AIDS epidemic with condoms. When the Catholic Church attempts to teach and preach about the only realistic solution to this crisis—abstinence and faithfulness—it is mocked and attacked as “blind” and “dogmatic” by the very people who are making a lot of money from distributing billions of condoms.

For example, Peter Piot, head of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that, “When priests preach against using contraception, they are committing a serious mistake which is costing human lives.” The Guardian's Polly Toynbee backed him up, claiming that, “In countries where 50% are infected, millions of very young AIDS orphans are today's immediate victims of the curia.”

AIDS really began to take hold in the Sub-Sahara in the early 1990s. In response, a vast legion of international population control groups, led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Bank, and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) began to distribute literally tons of condoms in the region. Although pro-lifers vociferously disagreed with their methods and their morality, we at least conceded that their motives were good. But now we have ample reason to question their motivations as well.

Anyone who has traveled in Africa over the past decade has seen the ubiquitous condom billboards leering at them from every direction. Stone walls near sports fields, schools and anywhere else people congregate are plastered with pro-condom messages. The population controllers even sport condom advertisements painted on their vehicles or on their wheel covers. In the larger cities, public condom demonstrations and giveaways are everywhere. All of these advertisements and activities have one thing in common. They all claim that using condoms will make you “safe,” and none of them mention that condoms fail very often indeed.

The “family planner's bible,” Contraceptive Technology, (CT) provides the most critical piece of information that shows how condoms actually promote the spread of AIDS. According to a summary of fifteen studies using more than 25,000 condoms, CT found that they broke 4.63 percent of the time and slipped off 3.40 percent of the time, for a total of 8.03 percent.

This means that, if a person uses a condom only ten times, he has a 57 percent chance of having at least one failure. After fifty uses, he has a 99 percent chance of having at least one failure and a 39% chance of having at least five failures. If he uses 100 condoms, a typical amount in one year, he will have at least one failure and has a 91 percent chance of having at least five failures.

The distribution of Catholics and Muslims in Africa provides further proof of the condom's inability to stop AIDS. In African countries with a high percentage of Catholics and Muslims, who generally do not use condoms, the adult HIV infection rate is very low. In nations with low percentages of Catholics and Muslims, the adult HIV infection rates are high. In the five African countries with the most Catholics and Muslims (averaging 99% of the populations), the average current adult HIV infection rate is only 0.09 percent, or about one in 1,100 adults.

In the five African countries with the least Catholics and Muslims (averaging only 10% of the populations), the average current adult HIV infection rate is a staggering 16.20 percent, or one in six, a rate 180 times higher.

The Ugandan example has proven that the key to stopping AIDS is not a failure-prone, less-than-paper thin layer of latex, but modifying human sexual behavior. Uganda's emphasis on abstinence and faithfulness has led to its adult HIV infection rate plunging from nearly one in four in the early 1990s to about six percent now, with countries pushing condoms continuing to see a rise in infection rates.

Yet, despite the clear evidence, the population controllers are still doing everything they can do defund abstinence programs and ramp up condom distribution. Who are the true “blind dogmatists” here?


Boozy Britain

What we surely need to address is why vast swathes of young people - and their parents and grandparents, too, I expect - find being so intoxicated that you can't stand up the very acme of fun. We've all done it: I had my stomach pumped once when I was a student (I know - classy), but most of us aren't madly keen to keep on doing it.

I fully understand the joys of the three-hour lunch: I love sitting in the sunshine with a chilled bottle of white wine; I have no reformed drinker-style notions about the evils of booze. Drinking until you're giggly and feel like singing is very nice. Drinking until the room starts spinning and you want to throw up isn't. What I can't get my head around is why such vast numbers of people believe it is and that it is what you must do to have a laugh.

I was walking back from St Leonards in East Sussex to Hastings a few months ago, at about three in the morning, after a party. We detoured via a chip shop near the sea front because we were starving.

Here is what we saw at the chip shop: 1) a young man, who had been glassed in the face, trying to buy a kebab; 2) two extremely drunk young men standing outside (near some sick) trying to start a fight with, as far as I could tell, any random person; 3) two girls aged about 15, completely inappropriately dressed (because, sorry, and do exercise your female rights to cram your pallid flesh into whatever porno costume you like, but if you're going to stagger about pissed at three in the morning, take a coat and wear it) clutching each other and barely able to stand up; and 4) another young girl, outside the chip shop this time, being felt up by some bloke as she was vomiting.

The thing is, having been at a party until 3am, my companions and I were also drunk. But, Jesus, not that drunk. Why would you do that to yourself? In what way is it fun to be glassed, semi-raped or puke down your dress? Does anyone seriously wake up in the morning and think: "Top night"? Statistics tell us they must, in vast and increasing numbers.

I happened to be in Hastings, but I expect a version of the hideous scenario above plays itself out everywhere. I know young people in the countryside are so bored there's nothing for it but to drink, have sex (but apparently not understand how contraception works. Why not? - it's not exactly challenging) and take drugs, and I suspect that the more remote the community, the more intense the boredom and the more extreme the partaking: there is actually something intensely provincial about drinking to excess.

It has nevertheless become shorthand for being "one of us", recognisably a member of the great tribe of pissheads, up for a laugh. The liberal elite, in their usual moronic, tragically out of touch way, thought that endlessly printing photographs of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford in full Bullingdon rig and banging on about toffs would freak out voters and send them scurrying gratefully into the arms of the Socialist Workers party. As we know from the past few weeks - this one included - it didn't quite work that way. Well, d'oh. Okay, so they're wearing funny clothes - but they're also doing what the nation likes doing best: getting bladdered. The whole raison d'etre of clubs such as the Bullingdon is drinking to the point of oblivion. It is also the whole raison d'etre of vast swathes of the country.

It has become as outre in some circles to use the word "underclass" as it would be to call homosexuals "arse bandits" or black people "nig-nogs". We keep telling ourselves that the lovely, admirable, hard-working, morally upright (there was a time when it was the nation's conscience as well as its backbone) working class still exists and a few horrid bad apples are spoiling the barrel. This is simply not true. The old working class exists, but it is on its last legs, and the underclass that has replaced it is on the rise - angry, desperate, broke and broken, culturally and morally barren, passing on their poor, empty lives to their children and grandchildren. No wonder they drink to oblivion - wouldn't you?

The fact of the matter is that the binge-drinking problem is largely an underclass problem. Teen pregnancies are largely an underclass problem. Teenage crime is largely an underclass problem. Child neglect - we live in a country where a little girl allegedly starved to death in her own home last week - is largely an underclass problem. Our collective problems are largely underclass problems.

Could somebody not just come out and say it, before another generation floats away to its doom on a sea of alcopops? The underclass was made, not born. Nobody asks to live in poverty, with no hope, no ambitions, no possibility of betterment, and the belief that the most fun you can have is to drink yourself into early cirrhosis. I know they're hard to love, but really - do we owe these people no responsibility whatsoever? Don't cut the price of their dreadful gut-rot: help them.

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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Friday, May 30, 2008

BNP seeks to make a martyr of activist killed by rich Muslim

The British National Party sought yesterday to present the killing of one of its activists by a Muslim elder as an act of white martyrdom. On the steps of Stafford Crown Court, Michael Coleman, a BNP councillor and organiser of the party's Stoke-on-Trent branch, said: "We advise anybody who gets angry: get involved with the BNP." He was speaking at the end of the trial into the killing of Keith Brown, 52, a former boxer and friend of the BNP leader Nick Griffin, who collapsed and died after being knifed in the back by his next-door neighbour Habib Khan. Mr Griffin attended his funeral.

Khan, 50, was unanimously cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter after a jury heard that he had endured racism, threats and violence from Mr Brown and his son, Ashley Barker, also a BNP activist. Khan was also convicted of wounding Mr Barker, 20. His son, Azir Habib Saddique, 24, was cleared of the same charge. Khan's sentencing was adjourned.

Simon Darby, Stoke BNP's deputy leader, has been blogging daily from the courtroom. The funeral is posted on YouTube. A DVD will be distributed, playing on voters' worries about violent attacks blamed on Asian men. Other BNP units are being urged to adopt the strategy of highlighting local Muslim-on-white attacks.

The potency of the far Right claiming its first martyr dawned last year as six BNP councillors shouldered their fallen comrade's coffin. To some white supremacist websites, Mr Brown is being built up as the Horst Wessel of the Potteries, a British equivalent of the Nazi songwriter shot dead by a Berlin communist in 1930. An online book of Condolence hails Mr Brown as "the first nationalist victim of Islamic jihad against Great Britain".

Behind the rhetoric lies a tale of two middle-aged, Middle England fathers whose rivalry descended into loathing. Khan dreamt of knocking down two semis and creating a single grand villa next to a pair of ageing end-terrace houses where Mr Brown, his girlfriend and their seven children lived in the Normacot district.

Mr Brown tried everything to stop the building work but Khan erected a miniature palace with carved stone pillars and huge decorative amphorae in the garden. Like most neighbourhood feuds, it boiled down to a row over boundaries. Mr Brown accused Khan of putting a fence on his land and said that the conservatory blocked his light. Mr Brown was a dangerous man with convictions for what Judge Simon Tonking called "extreme violence" in his twenties. In 2000 he was convicted for punching a man in the face.

Mr Brown turned to the local authority for assistance and was introduced to Steve Batkin, then the sole BNP member of Stoke council. Mr Batkin lodged a complaint that the Khans were behaving aggressively. The councillor took the police a DVD showing an Asian man apparently kicking out at Mr Brown from the Khans' side of the boundary. The Staffordshire force allegedly declined to view the disc. The Independent Police Complaints Authority is investigating a BNP complaint that the police failed to protect Mr Brown, and a mirror-image complaint from the Khans.

The BNP recruited Mr Brown. "We started talking about politics," said Mr Coleman. "We found he agreed with what we were saying. We have many angry young men in our ranks. Our aim is: don't put it on the streets, put your anger into politics." Although Mr Brown declined to join, he helped with campaigns. "He was an excellent activist," Mr Coleman said.

Stoke-on-Trent BNP's first campaign about an alleged Asian-on-white attack came after the death of a barman who collapsed eight days after being allegedly beaten and hit on the head with a wheelbrace by a group of men in 1998. Last summer the BNP leafleted about another Asian attack that left a white victim hospitalised. "We went from abstract politics - the European Union, the threat of floods of immigrants coming - to a grass-roots campaign," Mr Coleman said.

At this month's Stoke elections, the BNP received nearly 8,000 votes, exceeded only by Labour with 11,000. The far-right party won an extra three seats to reach a total of nine. Normacot is torn by racial tensions. Khan was a stalwart of his local mosque where, after the 9/11 attacks, a pig's head was dumped as an insult to Muslims arriving for prayers. The mosque treasurer Mohammed Hanif smiled sadly when asked about race relations. Some of his worshippers, he said, endured living beside whites who "didn't like it at all that they had coloured Asian neighbours".


Fears of `the Islamic problem' brought success at polls

The British National Party, the far-right, white-only movement founded in 1982 from the ruins of the National Front, now claims about 100 councillors, mainly in communities with large Muslim populations. The principal strategy of Nick Griffin, its Cambridge-educated leader, has been to escape the jackbooted, knuckle-dragging image of street-fighting neo-Nazis and to become a popular anti-immigration party. The East End of London has become a stronghold, with the BNP installed as the official opposition on Barking & Dagenham council under the leadership of the artist Richard Barnbrook. Mr Barnbrook made a breakthrough by winning the BNP's first seat in the London Assembly.

The party's electoral success came after it began concentrating its attacks on Muslims. Since 9/11 and the Asian riots in the North of England in 2001 it has gained representation on local authorities from Burnley, Kirklees and Rotherham in the North to Stoke-on-Trent, Sandwell and Nuneaton in the Midlands and Epping in Essex. The first sign of the success of Mr Griffin's strategy came when he stood as a candidate at Oldham West in the 2001 general election and came a close third with 16 per cent of the vote. By the European elections of 2004, he was focusing on what he described as the problem of attacks by Muslims.

After a BBC documentary recorded him calling Islam a "wicked and vicious faith", he was charged with stirring up racial hated. At the end of two trials, he was cleared and depicted himself as a champion of free speech. He has a previous conviction from 1998 for incitement to racial hatred. Recent BNP literature has expressed some sympathies with blacks and Hindus, portraying them as fellow victims of Muslims.


How Obama Got 'Ahead of the Curve' on Same-Sex Marriage

When presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke last month with Advocate.com -- which describes itself as an "LGBT" (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) news site -- he took a different approach to same-sex marriage than he took in 2004, when he was running for the U.S. Senate. "I'm a Christian," Obama said then, "and so although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman." This statement, reported at the time by The Associated Press, came in a Sept. 24, 2004, interview with WBBM-AM, a Chicago radio station.

In his interview with Advocate.com, published on April 10, Obama did not suggest Christian tradition was at the root of his own views on same-sex marriage, but he did suggest it was a root cause of "homophobia" -- as he criticized traditionalist African American Christian clergymen. "There's plenty of homophobia to go around," the interviewer said to Obama, "but you have a unique perspective into the African-American community. Is there a ... (ellipses in original)"

"I don't think it's worse than in the white community," Obama responded. "I think that the difference has to do with the fact that the African-American community is more churched, and most African-American churches are still fairly traditional in their interpretations of Scripture. And so from the pulpit or in sermons you still hear homophobic attitudes expressed. And since African-American ministers are often the most prominent figures in the African-American community, those attitudes get magnified or amplified a little bit more than in other communities."

When asked about his favoring "civil unions" but not same-sex "marriages," Obama was quick to point out that he understood why the "LGBT" community wanted not only same-sex unions that were equal in law to marriage, but also the word "marriage," too. "So, I strongly respect the right of same-sex couples to insist that even if we got complete equality in benefits, it still wouldn't be equal because there's a stigma associated with not having the same word, marriage, assigned to it," he said.

Despite his unwillingness to advocate the use of the word "marriage" to describe the legalized same-sex unions he says favors, Obama boasted that he is in the top 1 percent of American politicians in advancing the "LGBT" cause. "And I think that it is absolutely fair to ask me for leadership," he told Advocate.com, "and my argument would be that I'm ahead of the curve on these issues compared to 99 percent of most elected officials around the country on this issue." Just how far ahead of the curve is he?

In The Advocate, he noted that, "I for a very long time have been interested in repeal of DOMA," the Defense of Marriage Act. A position paper titled "On LGBT Rights" published by his campaign says Obama believes "we need to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act."

The practical effect of fully repealing DOMA would be to force all the other 48 states to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in Massachusetts and California, where the state supreme courts have now said same-sex marriage is a "right." That is because the main purpose of DOMA is to exempt states from having to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states as they would otherwise need to under the "Full Faith and Credit Clause" of the Constitution.

But there is good reason to believe Obama does not want the entire electorate to pay close attention to the predictable consequence of the policy he advocates. When the California Supreme Court issued its same-sex marriage ruling earlier this month, his campaign issued a statement suggesting that he respected the right of states to determine their own marriage laws.

"Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as president," the statement said, according to The Associated Press. "He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage."

If this statement is true, Obama needs to reverse his call for repealing DOMA, which he was touting to Advocate.com as recently as last month. If he does not reverse his call for repealing DOMA, his true position is that every state in the union should be forced to recognize same-sex marriages.


"See you in court"

Here's the opening of Mark Steyn's speech at the Fraser Institute in Vancouver on the subject of the hate speech charges brought against him by British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for criticizing Islam. It's a Gangbusters type curtain raiser, but the longer we read the more apparent it is that the speech is less about radical Islam than something else.
I'm honoured to be here. The only other invitation I've had from Vancouver is from the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal which begins its case against my "hate speech" next Monday. I confess until this case came about I'd always assumed Canada had freedom of speech.

I was south of the border, and you may remember that business from last year when Senator Larry Craig had his unfortunate run-in with the undercover cop in the Minneapolis Airport men's room. I was amazed to read this story in the newspaper a few months ago, announcing that his lawyer had filed a brief arguing that the hand gestures Senator Craig supposedly made under the bathroom stall divider were constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment.

What a great country. In Canada, according to the Canadian Islamic Congress, "freedom of speech" doesn't extend to my books and newspaper columns. But in America Senator Craig's men's room semaphore is covered by the First Amendment. From now on, instead of writing about radical Islam, I'm only going to hit on imams in bathrooms.

This is my first ever speech in Vancouver. And, amazingly enough, it's also my last ever speech in Vancouver. So it's kind of a two-for-one night. It's like when they say "Direct from Broadway. Limited engagement." This is a very limited engagement. The reason for that is, next Monday, the excerpt from my bestselling hate crime, "America Alone", that Maclean's made the mistake of publishing, next Monday that book excerpt goes on trial at the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

As some of you know, the Canadian Islamic Congress has accused me and Maclean's of "flagrant Islamophobia". And the trial begins Monday morning at the Robson Square courthouse - 9 o'clock Monday morning. Go to Robson Square and look for the old lady by the guillotine doing her knitting, you can't miss it. She's knitting a nice "The World Needs More Canada" sweater out of discarded copies of Magna Carta. It's a very moving sight. It would have, of course, be wholly improper of me to comment on a case before the courts, but hey, that's the kinda guy I am.
But what "kinda guy" is modern Western multiculturalism, that proud creation of "progressive" thought? It is, in the last analysis, the principal ally of every fascist unicultural force there is. Steyn soon warms to the point that what is at issue isn't what Islam is; because Islam will be what it will be. What is at issue in the hate speech proceedings is what the West wants to be.
What we're up against is not primarily defined by what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those are still essentially military campaigns and we're good at those. ... it might be truer to say that this is a Cold Civil War - by which I mean a war within the west. The real war is a domestic war: the key terrain is not the Sunni Triangle but every major city within the Western world. ...

Even if there were no battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if no one was flying planes into tall buildings in New York, even if no one were blowing up trains and buses and nightclubs in Madrid and London and Bali, even without all that, we would still be in danger of losing this thing - without a shot being fired.
Steyn's insight -- that the War on Terror is essentially the consequence of a Western disease that manifests itself in the newly found power of medieval madmen -- is the key point. All September 11, Iraq, Afghanistan have done is focus attention on a silent struggle that has been going on within Western culture for last hundred years. It is the ideational counterpart of violent struggles of the 20th century. The men who we remember on Memorial Day only buried the physical corpus of totalitarianism. It remains for us, in the twenty first century, to lay its ghost to rest.

Can we do it without restarting the violence of the last hundred years? Perhaps. But can we do it without a mental and legal struggle. Definitely not. And so Mark Steyn continues in defiance of the thought police. Because that's the kind of guy he is.



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, May 29, 2008

Muslim leader accuses British 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.


The media misrepresentation of Pastor Hagee

A friend of Israel is portrayed as an antisemite because of his Biblical beliefs!

The recent controversy over Pastor John Hagee is about much more than one man and his "crazy" (John McCain's word) comments. The nature of the attacks on Pastor Hagee and the rapidity with which they spread and hardened into the ugliest of conclusions revealed something far deeper and far more disturbing about our public discourse on faith in America.

What was most breathtaking about the debate over Pastor Hagee's statements on the Holocaust was the complete absence of one. This was not a case where thoughtful arbiters discussed his words in the context of a rich Judeo-Christian tradition of theodicy. There was no respect given to a quite common worldview. There was no trial. We skipped right to the auto da fe.

Breathe in deeply and you can still smell the embers smoldering around Pastor Hagee's public persona. With an ever-increasing ferocity, large swaths of the media and the blogosphere are enforcing a new orthodoxy of post-modern contempt for literal religious faith. The heresy they hunt is the belief in an omnipotent God who intervenes in history. And the punishment they impose is public death, banishment from the public square. Their power is sufficient to give pause to even the secular-minded among us.

The treatment of Pastor Hagee last week demonstrates the danger. Pastor Hagee's "offense" was to apply his belief in an omnipotent God to the greatest of tragedies: the Holocaust. After all, an all powerful God by definition could have prevented the Holocaust. So why didn't he? In the search for an answer, Pastor Hagee quoted the book of Jeremiah to suggest that God permitted the Holocaust to bring the Jewish people back to Israel.

Far from representing anything new or shocking, this belief that God sanctions the bad as well as good has deep roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches that not even a sparrow falls from the sky unless God wills it. If one sparrow cannot die without God's consent, then it is certainly reasonable to conclude that the same is true of six million human beings created in God's image.

The Jewish tradition likewise sees an omnipotent God behind human events. To cite just one example, the Talmud teaches that the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed because of the baseless hatred that the Jews had for one another at that time. In other worlds, according to the Talmud, God sent the Romans to destroy the Temple because of the sins of the Jews. I am hard pressed to find a difference between Pastor Hagee's explanation for the Holocaust and the Talmud's explanation for the destruction of the Temple.

Let's be clear: Pastor Hagee's crime was not the specifics of his explanation for the Holocaust. The talking heads were not outraged that he found his answer in the book of Jeremiah instead of the book of Isaiah. His real crime was the fact that he dared to suggest any explanation for the Holocaust that involved a consenting God. To so many arbiters poised over their keyboards, it is simply a heresy to see the hand of God in our tragedies. If this view contradicts your faith in a sovereign God, then you've got a big problem.

Once you've been found guilty of a faith too literal, your public death will be imposed by a thousand cuts. Your life's work will be ignored. Your perfidy will be repeated on YouTube and in blogs where people who know nothing about you, and who've never read a complete transcript of anything you've said, will condemn you with an ever-escalating certitude. Cymbals will ceaselessly clang.

Who among us is safe in an environment where John Hagee can be labeled an anti-Semite? Few Christians have done more than John Hagee to combat anti-Semitism and support the State of Israel. But then he dared to contradict the prevailing orthodoxy. With an absurdity that would make Stalin proud, this lifelong Zionist is now convicted of attacking the very people he has devoted his life to comforting and supporting.

All of us who embrace or respect a more traditional Judeo-Christian worldview need to recognize that Pastor Hagee's problem is our problem. Every Orthodox Jew, Orthodox Catholic and evangelical Christian in America has particular cause for concern. Your views of God and how he interacts in the world are no longer acceptable in the public square. Close the curtains and turn the television volume high before confessing your literal interpretation of the Bible. That large whooshing sound you heard last week was a shot across your bow.


A Confusion of Tongues

By Theodore Dalrymple

Acting recently as an expert witness in a murder trial, I became aware of a small legal problem caused by the increasingly multicultural nature of our society. According to English law, a man is guilty of murder if he kills someone with the intention either to kill or to injure seriously. But he is guilty of the lesser crime of manslaughter if he has been sufficiently provoked or if his state of mind at the time was abnormal enough to reduce his responsibility. The legal test here is a comparison with the supposedly ordinary man--the man on the Clapham omnibus, as the legal cliche has it. Would that ordinary person feel provoked under similar circumstances? Was the accused's state of mind at the time of the killing very different from that of an average man?

But who is that ordinary man nowadays, now that he might come from any of a hundred countries? The accused in this instance was a foreign-born Sikh who had married, and killed, a native-born woman of the same minority. The defense argued--unsuccessfully--that an ordinary man of the defendant's traditional culture would have found the wife's repeated infidelity particularly wounding and would therefore have acted in the same way.

For now, the courts have rejected this line of argument: though, by coincidence, the case took place the same week that the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, suggested that adopting part of Islamic sharia as the law of the land "seemed unavoidable" and that people in a multicultural society like Britain should be able to choose the legal jurisdiction under which they lived. In contradistinction to such views, it was encouraging to see in the jury a man from a different minority group, one traditionally hostile to that of the accused. The right to challenge jurors without giving a reason, which in the past would have removed this man, has been curtailed in recent years because of a juror shortage. This is just as well, since the right undermines the jury system's whole justification: that ordinary men, of whatever background, can suspend their prejudices and judge their peers by the evidence alone.

Problems with interpreting the law are not the only, or even the most important, ones that arise in an ever more diverse society. A feeling of unease is widespread, even among the longer-resident immigrants themselves, that Britain has lost its distinctive character: or rather, that the loss of a distinctive character is now its most distinctive character. The country that those immigrants came to, or thought they were coming to, no longer exists. It has changed beyond all recognition--far beyond and more radically than the inevitable change that has accompanied human existence since the dawn of civilization. A sense of continuity has been lost, disconcerting in a country with an unwritten constitution founded upon continuity.

London is now the most ethnically diverse city in the world--more so, according to United Nations reports, even than New York. And this is not just a matter of a sprinkling of a few people of every race and nation, or of the fructifying cultural effect of foreigners (a culture closed to outsiders is dead, though perhaps that is not the only way for a culture to die). Walk down certain streets in London and one encounters a Babel of languages. If a blind person had only the speech of passersby to help him get his bearings, he would be lost; though perhaps the very lack of a predominant language might give him a clue. (This promiscuity is not to say that monocultural ghettos of foreigners do not also exist in today's Britain.)

A third of London's residents were born outside Britain, a higher percentage of newcomers than in any other city in the world except Miami, and the percentage continues to rise. Likewise, migration figures for the country as a whole--emigration and immigration--suggest that its population is undergoing swift replacement. Many of the newcomers are from Pakistan, India, and Africa; others are from Eastern Europe and China. If present trends continue, experts predict, in 20 years' time, between a quarter and a third of the British population will have been born outside it, and at least a fifth of the native population will have emigrated. Britain has always had immigrants--from the French Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes to Germans fleeing Prussian repression, from Jews escaping czarist oppression to Italian prisoners of war who stayed on after World War II--and absorbed them. But never so many, or so quickly.

To the anxiety about these unprecedented demographic changes--a substantial majority of the public, when asked, says that it wants a dramatic reduction in immigration--one can add a reticence in openly expressing it. Inducing this hesitancy are intellectuals of the self-hating variety, who welcome the destruction of the national identity and who argue--in part, correctly--that every person's identity is multiple; that identity can and ought to change over time; and that too strong an emphasis on national identity has in the past led to barbarism. By reiteration, they have insinuated a sense of guilt into everyone's mind, so that even to doubt the wisdom or viability of a society consisting of myriad ethnic and religious groups with no mutual sympathy (and often with mutual antagonisms) is to suspect oneself of sliding toward extreme nationalism or fascism; so that even to doubt the wisdom or viability of a society in which everyone feels himself part of an oppressed minority puts one in the same category as Jean-Marie Le Pen, or worse. This anxiety inhibits discussion of the cultural question. In view of Europe's twentieth century, the inhibition is understandable. One consequence, however, is that little attempt has been made to question what attachment Britain's immigrants have to the traditions and institutions of their new home.

Apart from any such reticence that intellectuals have managed to inculcate in me, I admit to an ambivalence about the unprecedented diversity of British society. True, one feels a certain exhilaration seeing people of so many different origins going about their business in apparent peace. You find Indian shops specializing in Polish provisions. Young women in Somali costume speak English with broad regional accents. Popular music of many regions of the world--all of it much less horrible than its British or American equivalent--emerges from shops selling exotic produce. The peaceful mixture is a reassurance that our society is indeed open, flexible, and tolerant. And whatever other effects that the influx of people from every corner of the world may have had, it has dramatically improved the quality of food available in Britain.

Further, much in my family history weighs against any too-sweeping denunciation of immigration. I am the child and grandchild of refugees who met with precisely the same kind of anti-immigration arguments current today, and it would be unseemly for me now to deny others the immense advantages that I have enjoyed. In any case, it is clearly possible and even common for immigrants and their descendants to become deeply attached to the culture and institutions of the country that has preserved them from a terrible fate.

When I survey my own social circle, moreover, I discover an astonishing variety of origins (though doubtless Americans would not find it surprising). Recently, my wife and I received an invitation to a lunch party. I have already mentioned my own provenance. My wife's paternal grandparents were Greeks from Smyrna, fortunate to have found refuge in France when the entire Greek population of the city was either killed or had to leave because of the war between Greece and Turkey in 1920. Our host was a Sikh doctor who had been on duty in a Delhi hospital when Indira Gandhi's body was brought in after her Sikh bodyguard assassinated her; the doctor had to flee for his life from a Sikh-killing mob. His wife was a Greek Cypriot who as a child had fled the Turkish invasion of the island, during which her parents lost everything before coming to England. Thus all of us, either directly or through close relatives, knew the horrors to which too exclusive a national or religious identity might lead. And none of us had any doubts about the evils of dehumanizing those who do not share one's national, cultural, or religious identity.

But we did not conclude that it was best, then, to have no national, religious, or cultural identity at all. The institutions that allow one to live in peace, freedom, and security require loyalty (not necessarily of a blind variety); and loyalty in turn requires a sense of identification. In a world in which sovereignty must exist, some kind of identification with that sovereignty is also necessary: too rigid a national identity has its dangers, but so does too loose a one. The first results in aggression toward and denigration of others; the second in society's disintegration from within, which can then provoke authoritarian attempts at repair.

Love of country has never implied for me an unawareness of its shortcomings or a hatred of other nations. I have lived happily abroad much of my life and have seen virtues in every country in which I have lived, some absent from my own. I feel vastly more at ease with cultivated foreigners than with many of the natives of the land of my birth. Those foreigners usually have a much better appreciation of all that is best in British culture than many natives now have. If you want to hear beautiful spoken English these days, seek out educated Indians or Africans.

But nor can one deny, if one is honest (and this is true of every Western European country), that many in the unprecedented influx of immigrants, often poorly educated, have little interest in, or appreciation of, the society to which they have come. Many are not learning to speak English, or speak it poorly, and forced marriages and other practices foreign to British law and custom remain common among them. A government report several years ago found that Britain's whites and ethnic minorities led radically separate lives, with no sense of shared nationality. And as is now well-known, a disturbing number of British Muslims have proved susceptible to the ideology of Islamism. A recent survey found that 40 percent of British Muslims under 24 wanted to live under sharia; 36 percent supported the death penalty for apostasy. Significantly, the figures for older Muslims were considerably lower. Another poll found that a fifth of all British Muslims had sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the London suicide bombers. Only a third of British Muslims, a Guardian survey found, want more integration into British culture.

The doctrine of multiculturalism arose, at least in Holland, as a response to the immigration influx, believed initially to be temporary. The original purpose of multiculturalism was to preserve the culture of European "guest workers" so that when they returned home, having completed their labor contracts, they would not feel dislocated by their time away. The doctrine became a shibboleth of the Left, a useful tool of cultural dismantlement, only after family reunion in the name of humanitarianism became normal policy during the 1960s and the guest workers transformed into permanent residents.

Living in two countries, France and Britain, I have found it instructive to compare how each has gone about welcoming (if that is the word I seek) these immigrants. Each has gotten one thing right and one thing wrong: but the French situation, for all the urban violence that broke out in 2005 among the Muslim "youth," is easier, at least in theory, to put right.

France has the easier task, perhaps, because it is an ideological, or at least a philosophical, state, while Britain is an organic one. The French state, unlike the ancient country it rules, is a new, reborn state. It has a foundation myth, that of the French Revolution, which ushered in the age of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. It doesn't matter whether France has ever achieved any of those desiderata in practice (what political ideal ever has been achieved, at least unequivocally?), or that the storming of the Bastille was in reality more sordid than glorious. The terms "republican equality" and "republican elitism" (the second, the achievement of status by means of effort and talent, an outgrowth of the first) do in fact mean something, and they exert a magnetic pull on almost every mind with which they come into contact. And the exaltation of this myth, which supposed that Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity were every man's birthright andthat France was a beacon shining the light of reason to the whole world, has meant that (in theory) everyone who makes France his home becomes a Frenchman tout court--not an Armenian Frenchman or a Malian one, but just a Frenchman.

This myth has actually guided French cultural policy. That France, as a result of the Revolution, has for a long time been a secular state de jure, rather than merely de facto, as is Britain (where religious tolerance is an outgrowth of custom, not law), enabled it to abolish headscarves in the public schools without incurring the odium of anti-Muslim bigotry. The ban simply accorded with the state's secular founding philosophy. Multiculturalism, that is, is not compatible with the founding Enlightenment mythology of France; assimilation, not integration, is the goal. Everyone learns the same history in France; and nos ancetres les gaulois comes to express not a biological but a cultural truth--and an easy-to-understand one, at that.

Britain's situation is very different. It is not an ideological state; it has no foundation myths that are easy to identify with. The Battle of Hastings was too long ago and psychologically distant to have any resonance now; the Glorious Revolution of 1688 was too muted an affair, frankly not bloody or heroic enough. As for the English Civil War, its moral meaning is too equivocal: as W. C. Sellars and R. J. Yeatman put it in 1066 and All That, the Roundheads were Right but Repulsive, while the Cavaliers were Wrong but Wromantic.

The French state started with a philosophical big bang; the British state evolved. The French state prescribed; the British state did not forbid. The traditions of the British state, therefore, were much more favorable to multiculturalism, having always allowed people to form associations for their own freely chosen purposes. This lack of central direction served society well while differences among groups were relatively minor and while numbers of immigrants were small; but once there were so many different groups with nothing in common, each with numbers enough to form a ghetto--and worse still, some of them actively hostile to the overarching order of British society--then the laissez-faire approach was bound to run into difficulty. It is hard to oppose an ideology with a tradition.

Even absent multicultural doctrinalism, it would not have been easy to explain the advantages and philosophical underpinnings of the Burkean, nonideological state to peasants newly arrived from, say, the Pakistani Punjab and Bangladesh. The advantages and underpinnings are like the rules of cricket: one can with application and dedication learn them, but it is far easier to assume them as part of your mental and cultural heritage, to be born into them. What could you give the immigrants to read that would explain the British political tradition to them? Reflections on the Revolution in France, perhaps, or Michael Oakeshott's Rationalism in Politics? Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity is a slogan, and much easier to teach and to learn.

Making matters worse, in Britain, multiculturalism became a career opportunity and a source of political patronage. So-called experts on cultural sensitivity and equal opportunity--generally people whose ambitions far exceeded their talent, except for bureaucratic intrigue--built little empires, whose continued existence depended on the permanence of racial and other divisions in society. The hospital where I once worked recently sent a questionnaire to its staff, asking them to supply the personnel department with details of their race (17 categories), their sexual orientation (6 categories), their marital status (6 categories), and their religion (7 categories), so that discrimination against any of the 4,284 possible resultant categories might be eliminated. Clearly, there is no end to the work of the bureaucrats of equal opportunity.

It is perhaps not so surprising, then, that French Muslim immigrants are better integrated culturally than British ones. Pew Center research shows that six times as many Muslims in France as in Britain consider their national identity more important than their religious one: 42 percent versus 7 percent. (This difference may not result solely from cultural policy, since Muslims from North Africa, from which most French Muslim immigrants arrive, are much likelier in the first place to believe that Islam is compatible with Western citizenship.) Muslims in France also are much less distinguishable from the rest of the population by their mode of dress than is the case with their counterparts in Britain. In the Muslim areas in France, you may notice something different about the people, but you do not think, as increasingly you do in Britain, that the population of the North-West Frontier has moved en masse to the inner cities or suburbs. And this greater cultural assimilation is true notwithstanding the fact that Muslim areas in France, unlike those in Britain, are as physically separate from many of the towns and cities as the black townships were from the white cities of South Africa.

There is another major difference between the Muslim areas of France and Britain, however: this time, to Britain's advantage. The relative ease of starting a business in Britain by comparison with heavily regulated France means that small businesses dominate Britain's Muslim neighborhoods, whereas there are none in the banlieues of France--unless you count open drug dealing as a business. (This is one of the reasons why London is now the seventh-largest French-speaking city in the world: many ambitious young French people, Muslims included, move there to found businesses.) And since many of the businesses in the Muslim areas in Britain are restaurants favored by non-Muslim customers, the isolation of Muslims from the general population is not as great as in France.

However, increased contact between people does not necessarily result in increased sympathy among them. A large proportion of the indigenous Muslim terrorists caught in Britain are children of prosperous small businessmen, who have been to university and whose individual prospects for the future were good, if they had chosen to follow a normal career path. Cultural dislocation, the readiness to hand of an ideology of hatred that seems to answer their personal need for a fixed identity and an end to cultural confusion, and a disposable income--these, not poverty, account for their terrorism.

In France, the children of Muslim immigrants may not be as alienated from mainstream culture as are those in Britain; but the inflexibility of the French labor market results in a long-term unemployment that embitters them. In Britain, by contrast, relative economic success has not led to cultural integration: so you have riots in France and terrorism in Britain.

The solution (for which it may now be too late, despite post-London-bombing genuflections on the part of then-prime minister Tony Blair and then-chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown in the direction of the very national values they had done so much previously to undermine) would be a combination of French cultural robustness with British economic flexibility: something like the American ideal of the melting pot, in fact, which relied (and, to some degree, relies still) on a clear idea of what it means to be an American, combined with economic openness. The British notion that economic opportunity without a shared culture will result in a flourishing society is whistling in the wind; while the French idea that it is enough to teach Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity while obstructing the possibility of real economic advancement is asking for trouble.

Aware of the polls on immigration, Brown's Labour government has just taken some hesitant but sensible steps, putting aspiring British citizens on "probation" to show that they can speak English, pay taxes, and avoid jail before granting them citizenship. Britain and France, though, have never been very good at learning from each other: the Channel might as well be an ocean.


Hundreds of British prison inmates set for release

For once I agree with the British government. If you are going to have long sentences for violent offenders and sex offenders, you have to have reduced sentences for other offenders. Jails are not made of elastic

The Government has drawn up plans to release hundreds of criminals from jail early, it was revealed. About 550 non-violent and non-sexual offenders will be automatically freed halfway through their sentences, instead of having to wait until the two-thirds point. Jails in England and Wales have been instructed to let out eligible offenders from June 9, and warned by Prison Service HQ that failing to do so would amount to "unlawful detention". The releases will take place over the next 14 months.

Prisons Handbook editor Mark Leech said the move undermined judges who sentenced the offenders believing that automatic release would take place two-thirds of the way through a jail term.

The measures were first discussed in last year's report on the prison system by Government trouble-shooter Lord Carter of Coles, and contained in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, passed by Parliament earlier this month. But the full impact of the steps has only just come to light. Justice Secretary Jack Straw's plan is expected to free urgently-required space in overcrowded jails, as inmate numbers reach a record 83,000 in England and Wales.

The early release plan equalises the arrangements for offenders sentenced under the 1991 Criminal Justice Act with those punished under Labour's 2003 Criminal Justice Act, which came into force in April 2005. A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "To allow the Parole Board to focus resources on violent and sexual offenders, we are implementing the Carter review recommendation on June 9 which will align the release arrangements for certain prisoners. "This provision, which passed into law through the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 without opposition, will mean this group of prisoners convicted under the 1991 Act serving a sentence of four years or more but less than life will be released at the halfway point of their sentence."



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, May 28, 2008

It's only "racist" if whites attack blacks

The other way around and the media is as silent as the grave about the races involved. The killing of a white British actor by stabbing has got a lot of attention in the British media in the last few days. The description of the murderer by the BBC is typical: "Unemployed Karl Bishop is accused of killing the teenager and with wounding five other people. Mr Bishop, of Carlton Road, Sidcup, will appear in Bexleyheath Magistrates Court on Tuesday". Below is the ONE report (and I have looked at many) which mentioned the race of "Mr Bishop" from the beginning. It is from the "Sun", which never seems to care much about political correctness. A day later, however, The Times also mentioned the forbidden word, "black", possibly because the BNP has been publicizing it:

A teenage Harry Potter film actor was murdered over a dispute involving an alleged mobile phone theft, according to a friend of the victim. Rob Knox, 18, died in a street attack around 1am on Saturday outside the Metro Bar in Station Road, Sidcup, Kent. Four other men were also injured. One was stabbed in the head.

A youth, who asked not to be named, said: "I was in the pub with Rob so I know exactly what happened. I was a friend of Rob and his brother Jamie. I wasn't drinking with them but I see them and I chatted to them during the night before the stabbing. "One of Rob's mates had his mobile phone stolen last week and he accused a black bloke in the bar of taking it. "There was a bit of trouble at the time but nothing serious. Then last night, earlier in the evening, this black bloke was in the bar again and Rob's mate went up to him "The black bloke went off and said he would be back. We knew there was possibly going to be some aggro but we never expected anything like that.

"It was around midnight when this car pulled up outside and I saw two black blokes get out and come into the bar. One of them was shouting something at Jamie and then he threw a chair at him. "The next thing it all went mad and there were several blokes fighting. I stayed inside the bar so I didn't really see what happened outside but I heard that one of the black blokes had two knives on him and he was stabbing anyone who went near him. "It seems crazy that a young bloke has lost his life over a mobile phone. Rob was a decent lad. I'm absolutely gutted that he has died."

More here

Politically Incorrect Soccer Injuries

Suppose you ran a physical education program and discovered that girls were much more likely to suffer serious injuries than boys are. Before recruiting any more girls, would you want to alert them to this fact?

Doesn't seem like a hard question, does it? But the answer is controversial question in some circles, as Michael Sokolove reports in his Times Magazine cover story on girls' soccer injuries. He notes that female soccer players are 50 percent more likely to be injured than male soccer players, and up to five times more likely to suffer serious knee injuries. (My Science Times colleague Gina Kolata also wrote about these injuries recently.) Perhaps "the biggest obstacle" to dealing with these injuries, Mr. Sokolove writes, has been a longstanding reluctance to acknowledge any gender disparity:
Advocates for women's sports have had to keep a laser focus on one thing: making sure they have equal access to high-school and college sports. It's hard to fight for equal rights while also broadcasting alarm about injuries that might suggest women are too delicate to play certain games or to play them at a high level of intensity.
I'm not surprised at the advocates' reluctance, because for decades it's been politically incorrect to discuss certain gender differences when it comes to sports. The pendulum swung from one extreme - telling girls that they were too weak to compete - to the other extreme portraying girls as just smaller versions of boys: just as interested in competitive sports, just as likely to benefit from the long training required to become elite college athletes. What started out as an understandable desire to give girls equal opportunities turned into a campaign to legally mandate equal outcomes. If girls seemed to show less interest than boys did in competitive sports, it was blamed on discrimination.

Full post here

The insane priorities of socialist Britain

The first anger is for Khyra Ishaq, a small child apparently starved to death in a land of plenty, under the supposed care of a mother and stepfather. How far the social services are at fault is under investigation; but save a burst of fury too for Khyra's father, Ishaq Abu Zaire (known as Delroy Frances before his conversion). While blithely admitting he hadn't seen his children for a year he now blusters: "The authorities never lifted a finger... there are going to be consequences and repercussions I can assure you."

Look, Mr Abu Zaire, what part of the word "father" do you, a "religious" man, not grasp? In begetting children, you accept responsibility. Even if the mother shuts you out and you move away, you have a duty to check on them more than once a year. If you can't be bothered, then don't procreate. Public services are a safety net, not a spare parent.

Turning to the social services, though, one chilling observation was made by Eileen Munro, a child protection expert from the LSE. She said that serious neglect is common, but that social workers operating in poor areas simply miss the signs. "They get used to seeing low-level parenting. That then starts to look average. They fail to appreciate how much harm it is doing."

That, rather than more florid accusations, offers the most damning line yet about the state of social work, its understaffed overstretch, its chronic miscommunication. The weary resignation she describes is aggravated further by politically correct worries that make field workers nervous of seeming "racist". Who can forget the evidence in the Victoria Climbi‚ inquiry that officials put the child's visible terror and quietness down to "a culture of strict discipline in African families"?

Of course families bear prime responsibility, of course social work can't prevent every tragedy - but there are issues to be faced. One would think that governments would focus on them with relentless energy, driven by shame that a rich society should have welfare workers so used to seeing suffering children that they stop noticing that the parents are addicts, fanatics, mentally impaired or simply incompetent. And yes, there is poverty in Britain, but don't insult the merely poor: they aren't all neglectful. Many do heroically well.

Government seems not to feel this anger. Where little children are concerned, ministers - and here comes the satirical backcloth - are far keener on micromanaging those who are already perfectly OK. They like to impose their will on soft, law-abiding families rather than intractable and uncivilised ones. Take the current furore over the Early Years Foundation Stage, or EYFS, a national curriculum of 500 developmental milestones to be met by children under 5: 69 skills must be ticked off, box by box, by their carers. EYFS will be compulsory from this autumn - even for private nurseries, even for childminders (who are quitting, in droves, for fear of it).

The independent sector has now kicked up a fuss, not before time. The detail of EYFS "aspirations" is unnerving: take its IT targets, recently underlined by the Open Eye campaign and condemned in an authoritative paper by the psychologist Aric Sigman. Before 36 months a child must "use control technology of toys" and "talk about ICT apparatus", and before hitting five years old must use a mouse and keyboard, click on icons, "complete a simple program on a computer" and use "programmable toys" to support learning.

Why? Dr Sigman cites compelling research from Harvard on the risks of early overexposure to screens: serious educational, neurological and social problems have been identified, including a lack of ability to connect with people, and problems with short attention span. "The Government appears," says the campaign, "to have leapt on to an increasingly discredited IT bandwagon that is not only embarrassingly out of date but could well be harming a generation. Schooling is not compulsory until over 5, yet the Government is forcing nurseries and care-givers to follow its line on learning and development." Open Eye simply asks ministers to make the "goals" optional, and leave parents and carers some freedom of judgment.

But the irony here - whoops, red mist of rage returns - is that while we are a society that still has pockets of appalling parenting and children who die by gradual visible neglect, the kindly and reasonable majority of families are subject to endless authoritarian fiddling. While one child lies in filth and fear, taken out of school for ten weeks without a single visit from state authority, that same state authority beavers away to force every childminder to have "a range of programmable toys" and write down whether or not a three-year-old can work a keyboard and mouse.

On past form, it will be easier to avoid inspection if you leave your child bruised and starving on a heap of rags and don't answer the door, than it will be to avoid Ofsted if you are a childminder failing to make notes on the 69 early learning goals. Possibly because you were all too busy having fun in the sandpit.


Australia: Aboriginal activist condemns Aboriginal bureaucrats

The part-Aboriginal stirrer below is both right and wrong: Right about the useless bureaucrats and wrong in thinking that there is actually something that they could do if they tried.

The implicit goal of the do-gooders is to make whites out of blacks. It is an absurdity. All sorts of policies have been tried with that as the implicit aim but nothing works, of course. I have been watching the permutations for 50 years and the least destructive policies were the ones of the missionaries of now long bygone years. They were "paternalistic" but the blacks were undoubtedly healthier and less self-destructive then. And some blacks back then DID make a fairly successful transition to mainstream white society. The coming of welfare payments was the real knell of doom for blacks, however. They have now lost their own culture without acquiring the white man's culture. They are truly lost souls and I can see no way forward for them in the present political climate -- or perhaps ever.

Meanwhile the organizations devoted to Aboriginal welfare are just providers of cushy jobs for Leftists with second-rate academic qualifications. And about all they do is sit on their behinds and suck tea.

Tackling indigenous disadvantage was being hindered because tens of thousands of people employed in the "Aboriginal industry" were simply collecting their salary and serving out time instead of tackling the hard issues, according to a leading Aboriginal academic. Queenslander Stephen Hagan made the claim in his weekend Rob Riley memorial lecture in Perth, during which he questioned whether remote communities should continue to exist or should be shut down.

Mr Hagan, a lecturer at Toowoomba's Southern Cross University, said domestic violence in communities, which had led to increasing killings of Aboriginal women in remote parts of central Australia, required "a seismic shift in attitude". "We all need to pool our collective thoughts on how we can best tackle this insidious problem afflicting our communities that has obviously been allowed to fester unchallenged by people in positions of responsibility for far too long," he said.

"This skinny latte ideology suggests that many public figures, indigenous and non-indigenous, working in the indigenous industry have taken a lighter option to heavy lifting when tackling indigenous disadvantage - safe in the knowledge that results in their field are not aspirational outcomes that governments expect to see. "So instead of being proactive in the task at hand, many sadly are simply going through the process of ensuring their adherence to their duty statement is not brought into question, while accumulating their superannuation entitlements through the passage of time. "Many simply wait their turn for a comfortable middle-management job to present itself, without a worry in the world about the plight of the most marginalised in society."

"A bit like drinking a skinny latte, thinking you're addressing a weight issue - the more you drink it, the more you believe it. "Those who fall into this category know who they are because they must number in the tens of thousands - as the problems at the grassroots level continue to escalate unabated."

Mr Hagan put to the audience that a possible answer to solving the problems of child abuse and domestic violence in rural and remote communities was to "shut them down". But he warned that most Australians would probably support the view adopted by senator Chris Evans in June 2006 that shutting down remote indigenous communities would only relocate the problems of violence and abuse. "Could it possibly be that indigenous Australians are a product of their inability to adapt, restructure and re-educate?" he asked.

Mr Hagan said he often marvelled at the way mainstream Australians openly assisted waves of immigrants from overseas "with empathetic outstretched hands". "Yet they (mainstream Australians) steadfastly brush us aside when we seek commensurate assistance for basic services," he said. "However, I do believe many of our mob are doing themselves a disservice by routinely singing the 'poor bugger me' tune, while apportioning blame to non-indigenous people for their insufferably slow progress in gaining social and economic parity."



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, May 27, 2008

The Crime of Being White

Recently I wrote a piece about Keith John Sampson, a college student who was charged with "racial harassment" for reading an anti-Ku Klux Klan book. Not surprisingly, the article evoked a great response, including emails from those with their own stories to tell about persecution inspired by what I will call caucaphobia. A couple of these accounts are so compelling -- compared to one even Sampson's problems pale -- I've decided to publish them in this piece (both readers allowed me to use their names; their correspondence has been edited for punctuation, grammar and style). These are the stories the mainstream media won't tell, straight from the front lines of the culture war. They give voice to a persecution whose name most dare not utter. First we have Mr. David Gonzalez of Illinois. He wrote:
Dear Mr. Duke,

I can empathize with Mr. Sampson. I've been through the same sort of ordeal. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, I accepted a position with Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry as its Manager of Safety (I'm a safety engineer). After four years there, a female (black-militant) employee noticed my tie bar (Celtic knot-work with the emblem of my Celtic family - despite my Iberian surname, gained by being adopted, my genetic heritage is Scot/Irish) and asked me what it was. Stupidly, I responded, `This? Oh, it's just my clan badge [referring to the Scottish clan from which he was descended].'

I'll leave it to you to guess what ensued. I'll tell you this: by the next morning, the rumor that I had been `outed' as a Klansman had spread, like wildfire, through the ranks of the museum's black employees (~ 60%). Two security officers frog-marched me out of a class I had been teaching (with every black person in the room glaring at me, with utter loathing!) and escorted me to my boss's office -- there to be grilled by him. Later in the day, I was called back in and fired from my position.

As I said, I can empathize.
Note that the very people who tout multiculturalism, ethnic sensitivity and tolerance violated the tenets of all three in their names. Not only was no respect shown for Mr. Gonzalez' display of ethnicity, but he was actually punished for it. That's what happens when you have the "wrong" ethnic heritage.

But the hypocrisy doesn't end there. Despite the fact that one of the main links at the museum's website is labeled "education," management made no attempt to educate employees who were obviously too ignorant to know what a Scottish clan is and too bigoted to listen to reason. Instead, because of caucaphobia and/or cowardice, Gonzalez' boss listened to the mob that preferred Barabbas and crucified a good man.

The next testimonial is, believe it or not, even more staggering. It comes to us from Mr. Greg Reese, who wrote:
Dear Mr. Duke:

In the fall of 1994, I (a white American) began studying at American University in Washington, DC. At the time, I lived on campus with my Japanese roommate. I lived with him for a year and a half. In the spring of 1996, he and I started to develop problems living together. One day, while in the restroom speaking with another student, I made the comment that `we should just nuke the f******,' in reference to the Japanese. Little did I know at the time, my roommate was standing outside and overheard the comment. A few days later he moved out of the room we shared.

After that, I started to receive harassing calls. I would have unknown Japanese students knocking on my door in the middle of the night. Later, I had my property destroyed with a note from a Japanese student that he would drop a bomb on me. This was then reported to and filed with campus security.

A few days later, I had numerous charges of `threats, harassment, and intimidation' filed against me not by my roommate but the floor's Resident Assistant [RA]. In a meeting with him and the Area Director [AD] (a black immigrant from Africa), I asked how I `threatened' my roommate -- the AD stated `It was because he felt threatened.' I was also told not to go near my roommate or further charges would be filed.

I then contested the filing of the charges with the Director of Judicial Affairs (a black woman) who then had the RA amend the charges to represent my creating a `threatening' environment for the residents on the entire floor. This was done to justify the RA filing the charges rather than my ex-roommate, since I could not counter-file charges against the RA, who represented the university [in other words, they wanted to make sure he was powerless to resist this racial persecution]. I was also told by the director that this was being viewed as a `racial' incident.

At the time I was home on Spring Break. Due to all the stress created by the charges and a scheduled judicial hearing -- where I faced potentially being expelled from the university -- under medical advice I did not return to the university the rest of the semester. By not returning the situation escalated further.

Because I was enrolled full time, I drove 3.5 hours to Washington to meet with my professors concerning my classes and would return home. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet with all of them. I then requested the assistance of the dean of the business school to attempt to get incompletes for my classes. The incompletes were given with the forms signed on my behalf by the dean; however, that information was never provided to me. I thus failed the courses.

While at home, I would receive harassing phone calls from the Office of Judicial Affairs. On one message I was told I was a `liar' when I had told the director I was no longer living at the university because I had been `seen' on campus. When I returned to the university to get my possessions out of my dorm room, I was greeted by six security officers. I was escorted to my room, allowed to get my things and then taken to the campus security office, where I was photographed and told that if I ever step foot in the dorm again, I will be arrested by the DC police for `criminal trespassing.' Apparently, at the request of the RA, I had been `barred' from the dorm but yet was never provided this information. I had requested the information from security regarding the request the RA had made but they refused to provide it, stating it could be `libel.'

In the fall of 1996, my [Japanese] roommate and I spend the semester studying abroad in London. I made various offices at the university aware of the charges and that he and I would be together. I was told I would be allowed to go, but should there be any `problems,' I would be immediately sent back to the United States and none of what I paid for that semester would be refunded. Then, after speaking with the Director of Residential Life the charges were dropped. She stated that my roommate would be going back to Japan and without their `key witness' they had no case. Additionally, she basically stated that next time I should keep my mouth shut, saying `think before you speak.'

During all of my communication with the university, I was told that everything was being done on my roommate's behalf. However, at the end of 1996, the director of the London program, my roommate, and I had the first opportunity to discuss what had occurred. My roommate admitted it was not racial, that he was just angry because we were having problems living together, and that it was the RA that approached him initially. Furthermore, everything that had happened to me on his `behalf' he was totally unaware of.

In the spring of 1997, I was supposed to graduate from American. However, given the status of my courses from the spring of 1996, that was in doubt. Upon returning to campus, I was informed that although the charges had been dropped, the barring from the dorm had not been. Additionally, the university's `solution' to my classes was for me to `sit in' on the courses and retake them and then I could graduate in the fall of 1997. However, this apparently was not `officially' sanctioned by the Registrar's Office.

Given a year's worth of threats, harassment, and intimidation by the university, I believed it to be nothing but a hostile environment at that point. I then submitted the paperwork to the university to withdraw. However, because of the `reasons' for my withdrawal, the dean refused to sign the paperwork. To this day, I do not know when or how I was withdrawn since they refused to provide me that information.

A year later, I then received information from the Department of Education [DOE] concerning my financial aid. According to their records, I had borrowed several thousand dollars for the spring 1997 semester. I had informed them that I had withdrawn and therefore did not borrow the money. They had no record of this. Apparently, there was a `glitch' in the computer system according to the university. The money eventually was refunded to DOE but not within the 30 days required by law. I then filed a complaint with the DOE's Office of Civil Rights given everything that had happened. However, since my complaint was being filed after the180 day limit from the first incident, it was not accepted.

Upon withdrawing from American, I then spent another 2.5 years in school to finish my degree by transferring to a local community college and then to the University of Miami in Florida. By doing so, I also put myself in debt another $30,000 on top of the $30,000 borrowed to attend American.

While I have not been at American for years, the loans have been a consistent issue. I received no benefit from that money since I had to repeat everything all over again. Thus, I have been in a constant dispute with the DOE. Their response has been, `You signed the note. You attended the classes. You owe us the money.' However, my point to them has been that for American University to qualify for the federal loan program they must comply with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which mandates equal treatment in all operations of the university, which was not the case. I filed charges with security for being threatened by a Japanese student and nothing was done. I did nothing to my roommate and had the full weight of the university fall upon me.

As a result of my refusal to pay the loans, DOE has since garnished my wages. I was informed by them that I have a right to a hearing to contest the garnishment. I filed the appropriate forms and sent 120 pages of documents regarding the situation. My hearing was denied and the garnishment imposed. According to DOE, I had attended American until August of 2000, and, therefore, because I was still at the school, I needed to repay.

When I spoke with the representative of DOE (a black woman), she stated that I `alleged' discrimination but did not prove it. I asked her where the August 2000 date came from; she told me it was provided by American University. I told her that they were providing fraudulent information because I was at Miami at the time. She then became very belligerent, stating `I know how to do my job' and hung up on me.

So, 12 years later, I am still dealing with the repercussions of a simple comment made in a restroom at the university. Because of the various individuals involved and their own racist agenda, I have essentially had my life ruined. The future that I felt I was going to have when I first arrived at the university was taken away from me and their actions have cost me dearly -- mentally, emotionally, and financially. Every two weeks when I get paid and have the garnishment taken I am reminded of what happened. Of course, the absolute irony in all of this is that I'm still friends with my roommate.

In conclusion, I would like you to know how much I appreciate what you wrote in describing the situation Keith Sampson unfortunately found himself in. Your statement, `people of low character, often vile, ignorant, unintelligent individuals' is very accurate, although phrased much nicer than I would say it.
Unbelievable, isn't it? It's a story so outrageous that if the mainstream media actually did their job, Mr. Reese would be on 60 Minutes. Just imagine, a young man pays a pretty penny to attend a university, with dreams of bettering himself. Then, using as a pretext a loose comment no different from millions of others students make every day, the caucaphobic institution that took his money embarks upon what looks like a racial conspiracy to destroy him.

And these stories -- Sampson's, the two here, the Duke lacrosse witch hunt -- are simply those we hear about. For every one of them, how many never see the light of media exposure?

If America continues on its present course, the thought police predators who lurk on college campuses will extend their hunting grounds beyond the academy. In Europe, Canada and elsewhere, hate-speech laws have already empowered such scoundrels in the wider society. Thus, should we visit such laws on ourselves by continuing to elect leftists, you may one day find yourself at the mercy of a statist bureaucrat, a far lesser person who at best will be a mindless cog in the machinery of government, at worst a vindictive social engineer bent on your destruction. He will have more hatred than brains, more hubris than humanity, and more power than you. Then you will have your own story to tell. The only question is whether there will be anyone left to tell it to.


How my mother's fanatical views tore us apart

She's revered as a trail-blazing feminist and author Alice Walker touched the lives of a generation of women. A champion of women's rights, she has always argued that motherhood is a form of servitude. But one woman didn't buy in to Alice's beliefs - her daughter, Rebecca, 38. Here the writer describes what it was like to grow up as the daughter of a cultural icon, and why she feels so blessed to be the sort of woman 64-year-old Alice despises - a mother.

The other day I was vacuuming when my son came bounding into the room. 'Mummy, Mummy, let me help,' he cried. His little hands were grabbing me around the knees and his huge brown eyes were looking up at me. I was overwhelmed by a huge surge of happiness. I love the way his head nestles in the crook of my neck. I love the way his face falls into a mask of eager concentration when I help him learn the alphabet. But most of all, I simply love hearing his little voice calling: 'Mummy, Mummy.'

It reminds me of just how blessed I am. The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother - thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman. You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale. In fact, having a child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Far from 'enslaving' me, three-and-a-half-year-old Tenzin has opened my world. My only regret is that I discovered the joys of motherhood so late - I have been trying for a second child for two years, but so far with no luck.

I was raised to believe that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. But I strongly feel children need two parents and the thought of raising Tenzin without my partner, Glen, 52, would be terrifying.

As the child of divorced parents, I know only too well the painful consequences of being brought up in those circumstances. Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families.

My mother's feminist principles coloured every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn't even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, travelling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to her.

I love my mother very much, but I haven't seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son - her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology. Well, so be it. My mother may be revered by women around the world - goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it's time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution.

My parents met and fell in love in Mississippi during the civil rights movement. Dad [Mel Leventhal], was the brilliant lawyer son of a Jewish family who had fled the Holocaust. Mum was the impoverished eighth child of sharecroppers from Georgia. When they married in 1967, inter-racial weddings were still illegal in some states. My early childhood was very happy although my parents were terribly busy, encouraging me to grow up fast. I was only one when I was sent off to nursery school. I'm told they even made me walk down the street to the school.

When I was eight, my parents divorced. From then on I was shuttled between two worlds - my father's very conservative, traditional, wealthy, white suburban community in New York, and my mother's avant garde multi-racial community in California. I spent two years with each parent - a bizarre way of doing things.

Ironically, my mother regards herself as a hugely maternal woman. Believing that women are suppressed, she has campaigned for their rights around the world and set up organisations to aid women abandoned in Africa - offering herself up as a mother figure. But, while she has taken care of daughters all over the world and is hugely revered for her public work and service, my childhood tells a very different story. I came very low down in her priorities - after work, political integrity, self-fulfilment, friendships, spiritual life, fame and travel. My mother would always do what she wanted - for example taking off to Greece for two months in the summer, leaving me with relatives when I was a teenager. Is that independent, or just plain selfish?

I was 16 when I found a now-famous poem she wrote comparing me to various calamities that struck and impeded the lives of other women writers. Virginia Woolf was mentally ill and the Brontes died prematurely. My mother had me - a 'delightful distraction', but a calamity nevertheless. I found that a huge shock and very upsetting.

According to the strident feminist ideology of the Seventies, women were sisters first, and my mother chose to see me as a sister rather than a daughter. From the age of 13, I spent days at a time alone while my mother retreated to her writing studio - some 100 miles away. I was left with money to buy my own meals and lived on a diet of fast food.

Sisters together

A neighbour, not much older than me, was deputised to look after me. I never complained. I saw it as my job to protect my mother and never distract her from her writing. It never crossed my mind to say that I needed some time and attention from her. When I was beaten up at school - accused of being a snob because I had lighter skin than my black classmates - I always told my mother that everything was fine, that I had won the fight. I didn't want to worry her. But the truth was I was very lonely and, with my mother's knowledge, started having sex at 13. I guess it was a relief for my mother as it meant I was less demanding. And she felt that being sexually active was empowering for me because it meant I was in control of my body.

Now I simply cannot understand how she could have been so permissive. I barely want my son to leave the house on a play-date, let alone start sleeping around while barely out of junior school. A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries and makes the world safe for her child. But my mother did none of those things.

Although I was on the Pill - something I had arranged at 13, visiting the doctor with my best friend - I fell pregnant at 14. I organised an abortion myself. Now I shudder at the memory. I was only a little girl. I don't remember my mother being shocked or upset. She tried to be supportive, accompanying me with her boyfriend.

Although I believe that an abortion was the right decision for me then, the aftermath haunted me for decades. It ate away at my self-confidence and, until I had Tenzin, I was terrified that I'd never be able to have a baby because of what I had done to the child I had destroyed. For feminists to say that abortion carries no consequences is simply wrong.

As a child, I was terribly confused, because while I was being fed a strong feminist message, I actually yearned for a traditional mother. My father's second wife, Judy, was a loving, maternal homemaker with five children she doted on. There was always food in the fridge and she did all the things my mother didn't, such as attending their school events, taking endless photos and telling her children at every opportunity how wonderful they were.

My mother was the polar opposite. She never came to a single school event, she didn't buy me any clothes, she didn't even help me buy my first bra - a friend was paid to go shopping with me. If I needed help with homework I asked my boyfriend's mother.

Moving between the two homes was terrible. At my father's home I felt much more taken care of. But, if I told my mother that I'd had a good time with Judy, she'd look bereft - making me feel I was choosing this white, privileged woman above her. I was made to feel that I had to choose one set of ideals above the other.

When I hit my 20s and first felt a longing to be a mother, I was totally confused. I could feel my biological clock ticking, but I felt if I listened to it, I would be betraying my mother and all she had taught me. I tried to push it to the back of my mind, but over the next ten years the longing became more intense, and when I met Glen, a teacher, at a seminar five years ago, I knew I had found the man I wanted to have a baby with. Gentle, kind and hugely supportive, he is, as I knew he would be, the most wonderful father.

Although I knew what my mother felt about babies, I still hoped that when I told her I was pregnant, she would be excited for me. Instead, when I called her one morning in the spring of 2004, while I was at one of her homes housesitting, and told her my news and that I'd never been happier, she went very quiet. All she could say was that she was shocked. Then she asked if I could check on her garden. I put the phone down and sobbed - she had deliberately withheld her approval with the intention of hurting me. What loving mother would do that? Worse was to follow. My mother took umbrage at an interview in which I'd mentioned that my parents didn't protect or look out for me. She sent me an e-mail, threatening to undermine my reputation as a writer. I couldn't believe she could be so hurtful - particularly when I was pregnant.

Devastated, I asked her to apologise and acknowledge how much she'd hurt me over the years with neglect, withholding affection and resenting me for things I had no control over - the fact that I am mixed-race, that I have a wealthy, white, professional father and that I was born at all. But she wouldn't back down. Instead, she wrote me a letter saying that our relationship had been inconsequential for years and that she was no longer interested in being my mother. She even signed the letter with her first name, rather than 'Mom'.

That was a month before Tenzin's birth in December 2004, and I have had no contact with my mother since. She didn't even get in touch when he was rushed into the special care baby unit after he was born suffering breathing difficulties.

And I have since heard that my mother has cut me out of her will in favour of one of my cousins. I feel terribly sad - my mother is missing such a great opportunity to be close to her family. But I'm also relieved. Unlike most mothers, mine has never taken any pride in my achievements. She has always had a strange competitiveness that led her to undermine me at almost every turn. When I got into Yale - a huge achievement - she asked why on earth I wanted to be educated at such a male bastion. Whenever I published anything, she wanted to write her version - trying to eclipse mine. When I wrote my memoir, Black, White And Jewish, my mother insisted on publishing her version. She finds it impossible to step out of the limelight, which is extremely ironic in light of her view that all women are sisters and should support one another.

It's been almost four years since I have had any contact with my mother, but it's for the best - not only for my self-protection but for my son's well-being. I've done all I can to be a loyal, loving daughter, but I can no longer have this poisonous relationship destroy my life. I know many women are shocked by my views. They expect the daughter of Alice Walker to deliver a very different message. Yes, feminism has undoubtedly given women opportunities. It's helped open the doors for us at schools, universities and in the workplace. But what about the problems it's caused for my contemporaries?

The ease with which people can get divorced these days doesn't take into account the toll on children. That's all part of the unfinished business of feminism. Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: 'I'd like a child. If it happens, it happens.' I tell them: 'Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.' As I know only too well.

Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They've missed the opportunity and they're bereft. Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

But far from taking responsibility for any of this, the leaders of the women's movement close ranks against anyone who dares to question them - as I have learned to my cost. I don't want to hurt my mother, but I cannot stay silent. I believe feminism is an experiment, and all experiments need to be assessed on their results. Then, when you see huge mistakes have been paid, you need to make alterations.

I hope that my mother and I will be reconciled one day. Tenzin deserves to have a grandmother. But I am just so relieved that my viewpoint is no longer so utterly coloured by my mother's. I am my own woman and I have discovered what really matters - a happy family.


Maybe Allah isn't on their side

You would think that by now Allah's message might be getting through. Time after time Muslim fanatics attempt to wreak devastation in Britain - and succeed only in blowing themselves up, or setting themselves on fire, or their explosives refuse to do the decent thing and explode - while we infidel cockroaches look on in bemusement, quite unharmed.

If you were a devout believer, you might put two and two together and begin to suspect that Allah doesn't entirely approve of blowing British people to bits. He would much rather his jihadis stayed at home and watched the Eurovision Song Contest, or did a spot of gardening, or took the dog for a walk.

It is presumptuous of me to second-guess Allah's thought processes, of course. But then quite a few incendiary Muslim clerics insisted that the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami was down to Allah being a bit peeved at the state of the world and unleashing his righteous watery vengeance upon it. To which you might reply that it was very odd of Him, then, to single out a devoutly Muslim country, Indonesia, for the brunt of the carnage. Maybe He just missed.

It seems that the chap who successfully maimed himself in Exeter had somehow been got at by extremists, according to the police. Nicky Reilly, 22, is very reclusive and apparently has a history of mental illness. "We believe that he was preyed upon, radicalised and taken advantage of," a copper said, surprisingly quickly after they had arrested him.

So it may well be that the fundamentalists have resorted to that brave and noble tactic of sending the mentally impaired or deeply troubled off to do their dirty work, lacking the resolve and commitment to do so themselves. Al-Qaeda, you may remember, strapped explosives to two women who'd suffered from mental illness and sent them to a market in downtown Baghdad where these walking bombs were detonated remotely, wiping them out together with 91 other people.

On the other hand, we should remember that this latest botched attack took place in Exeter, a city less accustomed to finding itself the target of Islamist fury than, say, Tel Aviv or New York. It may be simply that the Devon and Cornwall police are unfamiliar with the usual IQ levels of Muslim terrorists.

I suppose that many years hence the terrible destruction of the twin towers will still be lodged in our minds, the image of the buildings crumpling, the video of Osama Bin Laden sniggering in his cave. But a similarly iconic image would be of the moron Richard Reid trying desperately to set his training shoe on fire on a plane, having forgotten to bring a lighter. They are either extraordinarily useless or Allah has got it in for them.


A suggestion for fighting knife crime

Why doesn't Britain stop the kid-glove approach and start enforcing the existing laws?

The murder on Saturday of 18-year-old Robert Knox has prompted, as have the other 27 teenage murders so far this year, a flood of suggestions as to how we can deal with the epidemic of knife crime that seems to have infected our streets. From analysis of the role of parents to depictions of the gang culture and turf wars that blight so many areas, most have added something useful to our understanding.

So it might seem that another comment is hardly needed. Yet for all the analysis that has been offered and the policy ideas that have been suggested, one basic point seems to have been forgotten. We have yet to try properly using the laws already on the statute book, let alone start properly punishing those found in possession of knives.

Over the past decade, the number of convictions for carrying a knife has risen from 3,360 in 1997 to 6,314 in 2006. Of those convicted in 1997, 482 were teenagers, rising in 2006 to 1,256. That near trebling in the number of teenagers convicted is bad enough. Worse, however, are surveys showing that about one in five teenagers say that they carry a knife with them.

Given the rapid development of a teenage culture in which carrying a knife is seen as normal, not to say essential for self-defence, it is understandable that there have been calls to toughen the relevant laws. The current maximum sentence for knife carrying is two years, or four years if the knife is carried to school.

But since we do not enforce the existing laws properly, it is fatuous to suggest that tougher maximum penalties would serve any useful purpose. They would be ignored just like the existing maximum penalties.

In 2006, only nine of the 6,314 people convicted of carrying a knife were handed down a maximum sentence. Most were given a caution. And I would bet a small fortune on not one of those nine criminals - 0.14 per cent of those convicted - actually being made to serve the full sentence they were given.

Despite the penalties available, the authorities treat this potentially deadly crime as an infringement of the law akin to pilfering an apple from a grocer. This has to change. The courts must use the punishments available to them. Children need to understand that, if caught, their childhood will effectively be over and they will suffer severe punishment.

That also means that the police must be given full powers to stop and search children. But instead, not only do the courts and CPS treat children found with knives with kid gloves, dangerous idiots such as Sir Al Aynsley-Green, to whom we pay œ130,000 a year for his wisdom as the Children's Commissioner for England, warn that allowing police the power to search children might antagonise them. That just about sums up how the whole edifice works: God forbid that a potential murderer is upset by having his coat examined.



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, May 26, 2008

Britain's phony war on terror

The British are too concerned with multiculturalism and political correctness to combat the threat of Islamism effectively. Comment below by historian Michael Burleigh

After spending time recently with senior Pentagon officials and other Americans involved in counter-terror-ism, I was struck by the global scope of their concerns. Above all I was reminded how different their attitudes are from those of their British counterparts, still obsessed with "community cohesion" and the "radicalisation" of young Muslims.

In Britain the views of the non-Muslim majority are largely ignored - or lead to them being branded as potential "Islamophobes". In the United States the unthinkable and unsayable are debated openly.

Last month, for example, the Senate committee on homeland security heard evidence about the likely effects of a terrorist nuclear attack on Washington. It started with a chilling scenario: a 10-kiloton bomb in a truck beside the White House. First, the committee was told, it would kill about 100,000 people and erase a two-mile radius of mainly federal buildings. Most of the casualties would be burn victims, the majority of them African Americans who worked for the government.

About 95% of them would die in agony, because capacity to treat such cases is limited to about 1,500. Since the winds blow west to east, the ensuing radioactive plume would drift towards the poor black neighbourhoods of the capital's southeast, where there is only one hospital. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the committee, concluded: "Now is the time to ask the tough questions and then to get answers as best we can." I can't help wondering what preparations for such a nightmare scenario are being made here in Britain. Does anyone know if our parliamentarians are asking similar questions?

As the main target of jihadist violence, the United States has a sober estimation of the threat we face and a polyvalent strategy for dealing with it. In Britain use of the phrase the "war on terror" has been proscribed by the Brown government; local representatives of the global jihadist insurgency process through British courts in startling numbers. A recent Europol report showed that in 2007 the British arrested 203 terrorist suspects, against 201 for the rest of Europe.

By contrast, the United States is fighting a global war - against an Al-Qaeda-inspired nebula of extremists - with arms and ideas and a vast array of analytic intelligence. In essence, America wants to destroy Al-Qaeda as a brand. One strategy is to highlight the moral squalor of those who denounce the West, which means exposing the criminal underpinnings of jihadism - including reliance on conflict diamonds, counterfeiting, drug trafficking, fraud and robbery. Yet the British government has done almost nothing to undermine the noble self-image of the jihadists in the eyes of those who are drawn to Osama Bin Laden.

Elsewhere in the world jihadists are going through "deprogramming" courses in which they are given authoritative instruction in a religion most of them know only as a handful of banal slogans. The combination of aid from the West and rehabilitation schemes explains why southeast Asian jihadism is now in disarray.

The use of military force, aggressive counter-terrorism measures and diligent police work is also indispensable to defeating the insurgency; after three years of horrendous death tolls in Iraq, the United States has at last succeeded in turning the "Sunni Awakening" movement against the foreign Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists, many from Libya or Saudi Arabia. It turns out that local people had balked at such Islamist customs as breaking the fingers of smokers and shooting anyone selling alcohol. The Sunni counter-insurgents may not relish US occupation, but they like the jihadist reign of terror even less.

No European country faces the global challenges confronting the United States, but because of its success in integrating Arab immigrants, America largely faces an external threat. Europeans face one hatching among second or third-generation north Africans, Bangladeshis or Pakistanis, not to speak of indigenous converts.

Europe can be weak in combating terrorism at a political level, largely because of the effects of officially decreed multiculturalism and a failure to do much about the impact of population movements on the host culture and economy. Not surprisingly, the failure of European governments to get a grip on what are still relatively small Muslim minorities provokes exasperation in America.

Many of the 1.6m Muslims living in Britain, for example, still do not seem fully to appreciate the outrage that a finger-jabbing minority causes at home and abroad with each escalating demand for Islamist enclaves. Like a perennial student, new Labour favours debate and dialogue. But in dealing with the Muslim Council of Britain, the government has unwittingly accepted as "community" interlocutors men who have blamed Islamist terrorism primarily on British foreign policy, while failing to condemn suicide bombing outside the UK.

Hardly anything is being done to stem the flow of Wahhabist money and its intolerant ideology not only into mosques but also to university "Islamic studies" programmes. Others are also complicit in this process. Did banks think about the cultural implications of sharia-compliant finance, noticeably absent in Egypt? This was allowed by Gordon Brown without triggering the public outrage that attended the Archbishop of Canterbury's sly unclarities about sharia.

The police seem to be turning a blind eye to "honour crimes" and to the informal resort to sharia, even when this involves manifestly criminal offences. They have preferred to turn on the makers of a Channel 4 documentary about homegrown extremists, accusing the producers of distorting the views of Muslim clerics, rather than to investigate the extremists themselves - leading Channel 4 to sue the police for libel and win.

A robust response to the jihadist threat is also stymied by ideologue lawyers who have made a decent living out of defending terrorists and by judges who, with honourable exceptions, seem to have greater allegiance to abstract notions of human rights than to our primary right of not being blown to pieces.

Attempts to free Abu Qatada, the alleged Al-Qaeda spiritual leader in Europe, amounted to a national disgrace. Lawyers claimed that if he were deported to Jordan, he might be tortured (despite agreements to the contrary). They also claimed the Jordanians might produce witnesses who had themselves been tortured.

Judges have recently undermined the government's attempts to interdict terrorist financing - even in the case of a dangerous Al-Qaeda operative known for legal reasons as "G". And it was judges who subverted the regime of control orders that was introduced at their own behest after they had released detainees from long-term custody in Belmarsh. Even the Royal Navy is reluctant to detain Somali pirates on the grounds that their "human rights" might be infringed in Saudi Arabia, Somalia or Yemen.

The government's recent attempts to sponsor British citizenship and values to counteract the multiculturalism propagated by a previous wave of state patronage seem tired and unconvincing. There is little sense in asking Muslims to "become us" when that evidently implies to them a culture of considerable coarseness: binge drinking, crime, drugs and chronic family breakdown. Why shouldn't they insulate themselves within the various ghettos that Britain has complacently allowed to form?

One has yet to hear a British politician of any stripe talk about what changes he wishes to see in the Muslim world - for example, in Saudi Arabia, to which we sell arms in return for passively accepting their citizens' funding of subversive religious activities in Britain.

By contrast, Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to give north Africa (and Israel) EU associate status suggests that he has expanded his horizons since 9/11. Meanwhile, anything that serves to strengthen liberal Muslim voices in Indonesia or Turkey is worth encouraging. It may be that the dictators - the Assads, Bouteflikas, Mubaraks, Gadaffis and others - will cling to power longer than optimists imagine. But if they don't, how will the West help those moderates - judges, lawyers, journalists, liberals and socialists - who find themselves in temporary oppositional coalitions with fundamentalists? How do we ensure such a coalition does not go the way of the one that toppled the Shah of Iran, after which Khomeinites imprisoned or murdered their secular allies?

The one British politician who grasps the need to be as frank as our American cousins about the threat from terrorists who are actively plotting indiscriminate slaughter is not the prime minister, who appears to be locked into the globalising vapidities that thrill Davos seminars, but David Cameron. The leader of the opposition understands the existential threat from jihadism and has comprehensive ideas about how to combat it that will link foreign, defence and security policies. He is fully conscious of the need to balance ancient liberties with the right to stay alive.

Like the United States, Britain needs a dedicated border police and defences against terrorism that begin when someone buys an air ticket. It needs to dismantle the bureaucratic residue of state multiculturalism, and the deportation of foreign agitators is essential. Any appeal they may mount should take place after they have been deported. As for human rights lawyers - they can pay for their own.

A more imaginative approach to the Muslim world should go hand-in-hand with a clearer statement of what the domestic majority is not prepared to tolerate. That is the difference between a properly thought-out strategy and the government's clueless alternation between appeasement and knee-jerk authoritarianism.


Crucifix Will Stay in Quebec National Assembly Says Premier

The crucifix above the Speaker's chair in the Quebec National Assembly will stay, says Premier Jean Charest. Responding to a report by a pair of academics on the problems of integrating immigrants into Quebec society, Charest said, "We won't rewrite history. The church has played a major role in who we are today as a society, the crucifix is more than a religious symbol." "There are no one-size-fits-all answers to these situations," he told reporters at a press conference in Quebec City. The National Assembly unanimously passed a motion affirming Quebecers' "attachment to our religious and historic heritage represented by the crucifix."

The 300-page report was commissioned for $5 million after a series of highly publicised clashes between indigenous French culture and the new influx of immigrants allowed into the province in part as a response to the plummeting birth rate. The authors also recommended that public prayers be abolished by local authorities and that judges, crown prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and the speaker and deputy speaker of the assembly refrain from wearing religious symbols.

"The crucifix is about 350 years of history in Quebec that none of us are ever going to erase and of a very strong presence, in particular, of the Catholic Church, and that's our reality," Charest said. "As you look around this place you will find many, many symbols that speak to that period," he added.

The Bouchard-Taylor commission's report on the debate over "reasonable accommodations" of immigrants to Quebec's officially secular but traditionally Catholic society held that there was no real crisis in Quebec society, merely one of perception. That perception could be improved by removing the last public attachments to Quebec's historic Catholic character.

Referring to other decorations in the Assembly building, including the British coat of arms, the letter "V" for Queen Victoria and the letter "C" for Canada, Charest added, "Are we going to go around the building covering up, destroying, erasing these symbols? Obviously we're not going to do that."

Charest affirmed, however that it is not the traditional Catholic culture of French Canada that forms the basis of modern Quebec, but only the French language. He said that as premier, his "first role is the supreme responsibility" to preserve the French language. "As citizens we must also respect the personal convictions of everyone. For its part, the state, which is at the service of everyone, should affirm that our institutions are secular."

The commission examined 21 incidents, including the YWCA's decision to frost its windows in an exercise room to avoid offending a traditional Jewish school and women-only pre-natal courses to accommodate Muslim women. In one case that made international headlines, the small town of Herouxville issued a code of public conduct that said it is "completely outside norms to... kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc."

Action democratique du Quebec Leader Mario Dumont said Quebec should adopt its own "founding document" that spells out "Quebec's cultural heritage." "Interculturalism is not a synonym for getting down on our knees," he said. Without mentioning the loss of Quebec's traditional Catholic culture, Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois said the report had missed the central problem: "There exists a malaise over Quebec's identity that we have to deal with."


Some more of the history that Leftists ignore

From an article by Thomas Schmidinger, translated from the German:
.In Syria Hitler got so popular that you could hear the call "bala misyu bala mister, fi s-sama'Allah al-'ard Hitler" (.God in heaven, Hitler on earth) Sami al-Gundi, one of the founding leaders of the Syrian Ba'th-Party described the athmosphere of the thirties like that: "We were all racists, we admired National Socialism, read its books and the sources of its ideas. [...] Who lived in Damascus at that time can understand the inclination of the Arab people towards Nazism, because it was the power who could become the pioneer of our Arab cause. And who is defeated loves the victorious."
The irony of Arab world obsession with Nazism (and their projection on Israel) is not lost on most of the civilized world. All the frenzied Arab outrage at the Israeli incursion into Gaza attempts to make the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit the impetus for that invasion. There is no mention of the 1,000 rockets fired into Israel since the Hamas `truce.' It matters not one bit that Hamas came to power in a free election, anymore than it mattered that Adolph Hitler made his way to power by way of free elections. Had the civilized world taken action and eliminated Hitler and his coterie of evil, 50 million people would be alive today.

Barack Obama is a commercial and nothing more. He believes that if repeated often enogh, his ideas will assume some kind of special merit.
Negotiate with Hamas and Iran, that is good foreign policy, negotiate with Hamas and Iran, that is good foreign policy, negotiate with Hamas and Iran, that is good foreign policy.
Barack Obama would have you believe that negotiating with Iran is like negotiating with Australia. The reality that Iran and Hamas are sponsors of terror and glorify terror are of no matter. According to him, they will see the light, if only we stopped `humiliating' them and started `respecting' them.

Prior to WWII, Hitler broke the Treaty of Versailles, rearmed Germany to the extreme, beat the drums of war and put that nation on a war footing. The Europeans, loathe to fight another war, recalling the horrors of WWI, did everything they could to avoid another conflagration, even turning a blind eye after Hitler waltzed into Czechoslovakia and took the Sudetenland. They believed him when he said `that was all he wanted, to correct past injustices suffered by the German ethnic minority.'

Chamberlain, the gold medal champion of European denial and psychopathy, went to Berlin and met with `civilized' Hitler to much newsreel fanfare. He returned home to an adoring crowd, waving a piece of paper 'signed by Herr Hitler.' There was to be no war, Chamberlain assured a nervous nation and continent. In fact, he soothed European fears and declared, `There will be peace in our time.' European reticence to deal with Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party firmly and definitively was to cost the world fifty million lives.

Neville Chamberlain bent over backwards to appease Adolph Hitler. He was idolized by the left in the UK and the Nazi sympathizers before the war. Despite his `good intentions' and `well meaning,' the former British Prime Minister today is today reviled and thought of as a naive fool. Chamberlain proved that people cannot be talked out of evil. Once the `hearts and minds' have accepted evil, the only way to rid them of that evil is by making it impossible for them to impose that evil on others.

Both the Iranian and Palestinian regimes have sponsored publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and have made anti semitism a cornerstone of their respective societies, manifested in media, education and religious instruction. Like the Nazis before them, the Iranian and Palestinian regimes will never be considered as equals by us as as long as hate dominates their political agenda, culture and society. Like Neville Chamberlain before him, Barack Obama will prove once more that appeasement and dressing apes up in tuxedos will prove to be a useless endeavor. Mr Obama would do well to take a long, hard look at his dance partners.


Civil Servants Make Us Tax Slaves

Our government employees used to be called civil servants. Heard that term lately? Today, they've become a privileged class, and taxpayers are expected to be their servants. Those are strong words from someone whose parents were, and proud of the term, civil servants. They chose civil service in return for reasonable compensation and benefits: though lower than available in the private sector they were more secure even in the days before mass private sector layoffs.

Today, as USA Today reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the approximately 15% of the workforce in state and local government earn on average 50% more than the average in the private sector, benefits being a major contributor to the gap that is widening as the private sector shows competitively necessary fiscal restraint and the public sector doesn't. Indeed, even during current economic troubles, public hiring rises while the private payroll doesn't. One can point at three primary reasons for this growing imbalance:

First, with the majority of Americans either paying no or little income taxes while receiving government funneled benefits, there is little incentive or competitive pressure on most's incomes to demand government restraint.

Second, public employee unions comprise over 35% of government workers, compared to about 7% unionized in the private sector. The political power of these public employee unions is massive, spending hundreds of millions each year to elect friendly politicians and defeat ballot measures for restraint.

Third, the methods by which government benefits are measured are "cooked books." As the Washington Post's analysis points out, "Public pensions have broad leeway in their accounting methods because, unlike their counterparts in the private sector, they have no federal oversight." An illustration in today's New York Times:
Lawmakers have cited Mr. Schwartz's analysis on hundreds of bills in recent years, with billions of dollars worth of potential costs. His projections were used to fulfill a legal requirement that every piece of legislation be accompanied by a "fiscal note" that examines its impact on spending. Mr. Schwartz's consultant work for the unions was discovered during a review of Department of Labor documents by The New York Times this week.

Mr. Schwartz, a former city actuary, said that he routinely skewed his projections to favor the unions - he called his job "a step above voodoo" - and admitted that he had knowingly overreached on the pension bill by claiming that it cost nothing, either now or in future years. "I got a little bit carried away in my formulation," he explained.
Even with stretched assumptions, there's still an over $1-trillion deficit in the ability to fund the retirement benefits promised to state and local government workers. As the number of retirees grows, in many cases, more is budgeted for retirees than for current workers. Consequently, with tens of billions of dollars in states' budget deficits, as Pew's Stateline project says, "That means if tax revenues fall short of what a state had projected, then it either has to cut programs or find other sources of revenue."

The politicians' ritual is to threaten cuts in the most liked programs, then in the face of public opposition to say there is no alternative but more taxes and more borrowing to indebt future generations for today's spending. Either way, today and tomorrow's taxpayers are the ones on the hook for unaffordable government workers' high compensation. Current and future taxpayers have become the servants to government workers reaping uncivil largesse.



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, May 25, 2008


By Jeff Jacoby

California's voters, unlike their counterparts in Massachusetts, will have the last word on what marriage means in their state. When the highest court in Massachusetts conjured up a constitutional right to same-sex marriage five years ago, 170,000 Bay State voters petitioned for an amendment to the state constitution that would restore the age-old definition. Their effort died on the vine when the Legislature derailed the measure before it could reach the ballot.

But citizen initiatives aren't so easily thwarted in California, where last week the state supreme court, in a 4-3 ruling, likewise overturned the timeless understanding of marriage as a union of male and female. Some 1.1 million signatures have already been submitted on behalf of a constitutional amendment making clear that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." That is far more than needed, making it virtually certain that Californians will have an opportunity to override the court's presumptuous diktat. And override it they should, for numerous reasons. Here are three:

1. It is not the business of judges to make public policy.

Reasonable men and women can disagree on whether same-sex unions should be granted legal recognition, or whether such recognition should rise to the level of marriage. The place to work out those disagreements is the democratic arena, not the courtroom.

"From the beginning of California statehood," the court's majority opinion admits, "the legal institution of civil marriage has been understood to refer to a relationship between a man and a woman." Eight years ago, Californians decisively affirmed that understanding when they adopted Proposition 22, the California Defense of Marriage Act, in a 61-39 landslide. To have legitimacy, any change in that consensus must come from the people or their elected representatives, not be forced upon them by an imperial judiciary. When judges impose their social theories without such legitimacy, the result can be years of anger and strife. California and the nation do not need another Roe v. Wade.

2. The radical transformation of marriage won't end with same-sex weddings.

In American law, certain conditions of marriage have always been nonnegotiable. A marriage joins (a) two people (b) of the opposite sex (c) who are not close relatives. Under that venerable definition, there can be no valid same-sex marriage, no polygamous or other plural marriage, and no incestuous marriage. But if the opposite-sex requirement is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to marry -- which the California court explains as "the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one's choice" -- then so are the restriction of marriage to two people and the ban on incestuous marriage. If two women who wish to marry each other must be permitted to do so, why not two sisters? Why not three?

In a footnote, the California court weakly tries to evade the consequences of its holding. Gay and lesbian couples are entitled to marry, writes Chief Justice Ronald George, but that "does not mean that this constitutional right . . . must . . . extend to polygamous or incestuous relationships." Why not? Well, because "our nation's culture has considered the latter types of relationships inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the constitutional right to marry." So while the bar to homosexual marriage must be overturned because the court considers the public's opposition to it outdated, the public's opposition to incest and polygamy is still a good reason to bar *them.* As one of the dissenters notes, such logic invites a future court to overturn those prohibitions as well.

3. Society has a vested interest in promoting only traditional marriage.

Men and women are not interchangeable, and same-sex unions -- no matter how devoted and enduring -- cannot take the place of a married husband and wife. The essential function of marriage is to unite male and female. That is the only kind of union that can produce new life, and therefore the only kind of union in which society has a survival stake.

Of course many gay and lesbian relationships are stable, loving, and happy. But since they cannot do what marriage can -- bind men and women to each other and to the children that their sexual behavior may produce -- they have never been regarded in the same light as marriage. That crucial distinction somehow eluded a majority of the California Supreme Court. Happily, California voters will soon have the chance to make things right.


Marx is still with us

Marxism lost the Cold War, right? The Soviet Empire came down, Eastern Europe was liberated, China is now semi-capitalist, and post-socialist countries like India are thriving like never before. More of the world is prospering, because economic and political freedoms have spread since the USSR crumbled. Even Russia has a low, flat tax to encourage free markets. Indigenous talents and enterprise are finally being liberated, and the results are wonderful for hundreds of millions of people.

Liberals are upset today because free-market economies are growing too fast, and are therefore polluting an unsullied Mamma Earth. Tens of millions of ordinary people in China and India are doing too well. The elites seem to yearn for the good old days --- the famines in India, the massacres in Russia and China --- and that wonderful sense of being in charge of human progress.

And yet ... in spite of years and years Leftist catastrophes, our organs of propaganda are still tilting drunkenly to the Left. Crypto-Marxism, a barely disguised revival of the old farce, is flourishing in our chattering classes. The prestige that Marxism lost in the real world soon came back in fantasy. Oh, if people only loved one another! Oh, if people only cared! Oh, if we only had real solidarity with the wretched of the earth! That's the feel-good story. But the real yearning is for power: Oh, if only people like us were in charge of everything.

In Britain, under the daily pounding of the Bolshie Beeb, the most admired "philosopher" of all time is now ... blood-dripping old Karl Marx. Freedom is routinely trashed; thieving tyrants like Hugo Chavez are celebrated.

"Crypto Marxism" --- crypto meaning "hidden" --- is a useful word to describe what's happened in the last twenty years. Because as soon as the Soviet Union crumbled, a host of barely disguised post-Marxist ideologies grabbed the microphones: the Green Movement, now furiously peddling global warming fraud; Third Way socialism in Europe, trying to hitch the welfare wagon to free markets; the European Union, a new autocracy of unelected committees, exactly what the USSR used to call "workers' Soviets"; the unbelievably corrupt, bigoted and self-serving United Nations; and all over the academic world, an explosion of anti-Western and anti-democratic fads like Post-Modernism, Multi-Culturalism, Deconstructionism, Feminism, anti-Zionism, Black Liberation Theology and other repackaged Marx imitations. It was a triumph of image-making and marketing.

Today, crypto-Marxism dominates our political discourse. It's wild --- just as if Nazi goose stepping had became a popular sport after World War Two, instead of the hula-hoop. The Nazis were horrific in their thirteen years in power. The Marxists had seventy years in the Soviet Union, and managed to kill 100 million people according to Marxist historians themselves. But here we are, twenty years later, and all that is deliberately wiped from our minds.

So --- who won the seventy-year struggle of the Cold War? We did in reality. The good guys really did triumph, and in the most profound way, going by Sun Tzu's Art of War --- not by waging a mega-war, but by constant political pressure, by far outrunning Marxist regimes economically, and by a spontaneous revulsion from within the Soviet Empire itself. Yet we fought many small wars --- and two large, bloody and unpopular ones, in Korea and Vietnam. The United States and a few allies faced down numerous Marxist threats in a very determined way. It was a huge test of our will to live and win.

And yet, today the New York Times makes a boutique specialty out of writing loving obits for flaming Old Reds, when they finally sputter out and die. No one on the American Left has ever expressed public sorrow for the estimated 100 million people killed by Marxist murderocracies; after all, they were murdered for "idealistic" reason. The crumbling of the Soviet Empire simply made it possible for the Left to walk away from Darth Vader and the Evil Empire. Soviet Union? Never heard of it.

As Rush Limbaugh often says, conservatives stopped teaching when the Soviet Union fell. Marxists, on the other hand, just accelerated their propaganda. Privately they mourned the "idealistic" experiment of the Soviet Union --- never confessing their own, whole-hearted participation in unrelenting evil. The Boomer Lefties rose to power in the 1970s, and they were not going to sacrifice their religiomania just because all the Marxist nations walked away from Marx. (Except for North Korea, which is still as murderously Stalinist as ever.)

In fact, without the Soviets our hard-core Leftists were no longer agents of a foreign power --- as the KGB archives showed that many of them were during decades of Moscow's control. So they could pretend to be running different "idealistic" movements: Red changed to Green, but that was it. The mainstream media learned to peddle that old Daily Worker agitprop instead of real news, until talk radio and the web broke the media monopoly, and conservatism revived. In Europe this is only barely beginning to happen.

Since 9/11 the Left has been telling itself how really patriotic it is --- providing that you redefine patriotism as internationalism, just like the old CP USA. And of course, the vitally important history of the Cold War is being written by the hard-core Left. It's just as if the Confederate South controlled the history of the Civil War.

Senator Joe Lieberman's fate shows what has happens to centrist Democrats: They are all but thrown out for deviationism, which is exactly what Josef Stalin used to do with the CP USA.

Both Obama and Hillary grew up on the Alinsky Left, which only a theologian can tell from orthodox Marxism. Coming out of Yale Law, Hillary joined a crypto Marxist law outfit in Oakland, California. David Horowitz, who was part of that world until he recovered his moral center, has been pretty clear about the real roots and goals of that Greater Berkeley network.

The triumph of crypto-Marxism is not just weird, it's dangerous. The Reds haven't changed. They have just metastatized: That is why we are now so vulnerable to the next wave of totalitarianism, the Islamofascist kind. The long struggle of Western civilization against bloody tyranny is being covered up. The very real danger of new totalitarianism is being dismissed.


An American bureaucracy at work

As bad as any.

I have been trying to calm down, but I don't seem to be succeeding. Is the Post Office a government agency, a quasi government agency, or an anti government agency?I go to the Post Office in New York City. It is a horror.

The lines go on and on for the better part of an hour. They have something like 15 teller windows, but usually only a few are manned at a time. Why pay people to give service when you can just let the customer wait for free?A few days ago I went to the Post Office - it feels like an hour ago. It was hot so they kept the ceiling fans off and the outdoor fans off I suppose in the hopes that some of the customers couldn't take the heat and would go home.

After waiting twenty-five minutes the fire alarms started screeching and the manager - we will call him Mr. Blue Stuffed Suit - came running out from his four hour lunch break to tell everyone to run out of the building that this was not a drill. I never saw the postal people move that fast in my life.

Ten minutes later we were let back in. The fire alarms had sensed a melt down because it was so damn hot. Of course it was, the lines were long and the fans weren't on. Body heat added to climate change and management incompetence had combined to produce a melt down condition. How fitting. How typical of the Postal bureaucracy.

This time I got near the front of the line because most customers gave up and went home, and because some of them were waiting behind a locked side door that never was reopened. Now there were 6 tellers working furiously and all the ceiling fans and the outside fans were working. Of course they were. Mr. Blue Stuffed Suit had been woken up from his lunchtime nap and was marching up and done in the teller area looking and acting very official.

The finale to my day was when I asked to buy 10 self stick stamps, and the clerk told me the price was going up on Monday to 42 cents from 41 cents - I guess this was a self anointed reward for screwing up how a Post Office should function because there was no notice and no signs. Was the post office - notice I no longer capitalize it - planning to keep this price increase for incompetence a secret so we wouldn't get mad? I am already mad. Are you mad too? Write to your post office. It probably won't help, but it might give some postal supervisor who has nothing to do a big laugh.

This is just great. I had put 41 cent self addressed stamped envelopes in with some letters I just sent out to 2 publishing agents on 2 different novels that I wrote so now I won't get the rejection letters that usually come back in them. Maybe I am better off.

Maybe I am better off if I stop using the post office altogether. I'll use Fed Ex and the Internet. They haven't figured out yet that customer service is dead.

Maybe I'll complain to my congressmen - notice I no longer capitalize him either. He and a lot of his fellow congressmen and women haven' figured out yet that we are not voting for them any more.


The frustrations of life in overcrowded and over-governed socialist Britain

Stuck in a jam as I was approaching a roundabout, I gazed idly out of the window. A car beeped behind. In my daze I'd not noticed that the line of traffic had advanced. I caught up with the queue and as I reached the junction the beeper pulled level, his face gargoyled with rage. "You stupid c***!" he screamed in my face. As he careered off, adrenaline kicked in. For a second I considered pursuit, barging his Audi estate into the kerbside, leaping out Grand Theft Auto-style and then I'd . . . what? Kill him with a single deft blow? Rub him out with my Walther PPK? Instead I continued on a mission to the charity shop with my bin-bags of old tat.

But the incident left me oddly shaken. His obscene fury was so disproportionate to my offence. I hadn't rashly pulled out, frightened or endangered him. I had merely delayed his progress by nanoseconds. Not even that, since I was still locked in a queue.

Sometimes London life seems built upon a thin and fragile crust through which a bubbling magma of anger could, at any moment, blow. Which is what happened in a baker's shop a few miles from here last week when Jimmy Mizen, out buying sausage rolls with his brother, refused a challenge to a fight and instead had his throat cut with a shard of glass. And then in McDonald's on Oxford Street on Monday when a row over a thrown drink ended with a man bleeding to death on the pavement, a knife in his heart.

When yet another young man dies, I scan the reports for words that will afford me some solace: gang slaying, feud, grudge, crack house, sink estate, 2am, drug-related, excessive alcohol . . . These words make me feel a little safer. They largely have nothing to do with my life. I can, I tell myself, protect my sons from these words. But when Jimmy's mother, Margaret Mizen, said "it was anger that killed my son", I know I am powerless. Because anger is unconfined: it lurks in the middle of the day, in public places; it erupts between total strangers. Anger turns a random encounter into deadly violence.

"There is too much anger in the world," said Mrs Mizen. There is certainly too much in London. A friend, trying to cross a road, was hit on the shoulder by the wing mirror of a passing van: it deliberately swerved to wallop her. A guy at my gym says that out cycling he slapped the face of a delivery driver who'd honked at him. Aghast, I say he could have been stabbed, but he just makes a defiant, macho bring-it-on gesture, then admits he sped off when the driver began reaching inside his glove compartment.

A study by the Mental Health Foundation found that a quarter of us worry about how angry we feel. And yet just what are we angry about, with lives of unprecedented safety, surplus and comfort? I have always marvelled at the grumpiness of guests in luxury resorts: after a short time being waited upon in paradise, having flunkies pick up damp towels, one's mood can be ruined by a deckchair being positioned at the wrong angle to the sun, a drink's insufficient chill. Similiarly with our basic needs more than satisfied and our homes piled with consumer goodies, like brattish heiresses we rail against the slightest irritation.

I spend a ludicrous amount of my life angry about nothing much. Usually casual public thoughtlessness: mothers blocking small shops with their humungous o500 prams, nurses addressing dignified elderly ladies by their first names or, in my eco-wrath, anyone buying cases of bottled still water. Or brand new arbitrary regulations imposed seemingly to irritate and confound: such as Tesco's policy of banning parents buying booze if accompanied by children.

Why do these things rile me? Because the world seems beyond control, the old certainties gone. Or am I just getting old? The anger management industry would, of course, have it that we are in need of their expensive ministrations. But are we really more angry or do we just express it more?

To lose one's temper is no longer to be diminished or shamed; it is a sign of emotional health rather than a dearth of reason. All anger is righteous now. It is conflated with drive, passion, energy, a means to affect progress. Gordon Ramsay - whose confected ire is almost unwatchable - every week says goodbye to his F-Word celebrity guest with the catchphrase "Now f*** off out of my kitchen!" and we're supposed to be endeared by his rough-diamond charm.

Anger becomes such a reflexive response that you do not realise how much it has penetrated your soul until you travel. Even New York seems less brimming with outrage, a collision in a crowd more likely to spark a "pardon me" than a glower. Visiting Australia, I heard a news item in which an educational survey had found modern Oz children the most illiterate and stupid ever. In Britain such a report would have provoked weeks of self-flagellating fury: Australia shrugged and headed for the beach.

Last summer in Slovenia, Europe's most easy-going state, I was walking with my son past a line of cars when one started to reverse right at us. My London self banged hard on the back of the vehicle and made a furious hand gesture. The passengers in the car slowly turned, their eyes wide, their mouths agape at the crazy lady. "Mum," said my son. "That was way too angry."

Yes, I was London angry: the sense that everyone is out to shaft you, nip into your parking place, rip you off, frustrate your efforts to get home, grind you into the tarmac. Anger is the sound of entitlement, the urge to have your existence acknowledged. And for the young and poor and reckless, anger voices their lack of power, control, self-esteem. And, since it will swiftly meet the anger of others, it must be armed with fists and knives, guns and hard dogs.

Anger is a buzz, an addiction. Clearly we were designed for more than our modern functions. We are healthier, stronger, better fed and educated than any humans yet born. And yet we are the most underchallenged. Here we are, creatures capable of building cathedrals, surviving trench warfare or traversing oceans, wandering dead-eyed around B&Q. "People need to find peace, not anger," said Mrs Mizen.

But alas "going off on one"- about Iraq, Cherie Blair, the tall, sweet boy in the bakery or the dozy woman driver in front - is the only time some people feel briefly and iridescently alive.



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, May 24, 2008

Israelis to the rescue in India's desert State

The desert of Rajasthan in the north of India is to be planted with a million olive trees grown in Israel in an effort to transform the landscape and the fortunes of its struggling farmers. The countries are finalising a three-year plan on agriculture that will introduce several crops associated with the Middle East and Mediterranean to India. It is hoped that the sub-continent - more famous today for its mangoes and spices - will become an exporter of olive oil by 2011. Lior Weintrub, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Delhi, said: "The symbolism is significant: an olive tree in the Middle East ... well, it means a lot."

Diplomacy has also paved the way for dates and grapes from Israel to be grown in Maharashtra, a state in western India that has been blighted by tens of thousands of suicides among desperate smallholders in recent years. Israeli technology companies will be drafted in to lend their expertise on matters such as water recycling and irrigation. In their home country, Israeli scientists have been credited with "greening" the Negev desert, performing what has been termed an agricultural miracle.

Indian olive oil is likely to find a ready market in the West as there is a global shortage of the product amid rising demand. It is also hoped that the adoption of new crops and farming techniques can be a stepping stone towards a second green revolution in India - the first being the period in the 1960s and 1970s when the introduction of modern methods and new plant varieties radically boosted yields and eradicated famine. Productivity growth in India's fields has since slowed to a crawl. In February the Government's official annual economic survey said that the farming sector, on which 70 per cent of the country's population depends for a living, was expected to grow 2.6 per cent this year, down from 3.8 per cent last year.

The report's authors gave warning of potentially dire consequences. "Due to uncertainties in global markets and hardening of international prices of food ... the food security of India critically depends on the farm sector," they said.

Economists estimate that India's ability to increase harvests of staple foods such as grains, rice and pulses now runs at less than 1 per cent a year, lagging behind the 1.5 per cent population growth. Dinker Panandikar, of the RPG Foundation, an economic think-tank, said: "It is touch and go whether India feeds itself." Across India as many as 150,000 farmers have committed suicide in the past decade after falling behind in payments to money lenders, according to the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The Government took radical action this year when it waived œ7.5 billion in debt owed by struggling farmers, as part of the annual budget.



In the now-familiar century-old ritual of corporate punishment, the U. S. Senate judiciary committee yesterday ordered members of the Big Oil's CEO chain gang to explain themselves. Which they did, very effectively. Whether any of the demagogic politicians were inclined to hear the message is another matter. The committee chair is Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, from a state not known for its firm grasp of the oil business or even market economics; the other Senator from Vermont, Bernie Saunders, is a socialist radical known in some circles as "Vermont's Communist Senator."

The gap between Leahy and Saunders is a small one. Yesterday, Leahy lit into oil industry profits, oil executive salaries, and the oil industry's alleged links to President Bush. "The president once boasted that with his pals in the oil industry, he would be able to keep prices low and consumers would benefit. Instead, it is his pals in the oil industry who have benefited," Leahy said. "Why has the price of oil increased 400% since President Bush took office?"

As the price of oil topped US$130 a barrel, the best U. S. politicians can come up with as a response is blind partisanship and destructive policy initiatives aimed at attacking the oil industry. Among the dumb ideas is the Consumer First Energy Act, to impose a windfall profit tax on U. S. oil firms. Another plan would force U. S.-based oil companies to disclose money they pay foreign governments for resources.

The dumb self-destructive futility of these political inquisitions into corporate America -- rituals that date back through to the Robber Barron myths of the 19th century -- has always been lost on most Americans, even as they paid a price. The great power of the U. S. national market economy could always pull the country out of the worst effects of mounting levels of government control and regulation.

The post-Enron Sarbanes-Oxley overkill began to show that the ability of the U. S. economy to overcome major blows to its corporate sector was weakening. During the oil and inflation crises of the 1970s and 1980s, price controls and regulatory corporate attacks were eventually shoved aside, minor irritants in the great national economic enterprise. Sarbanes made the great enterprise look vulnerable. This current oil price crisis, if it becomes that, could prove to be a major watermark in the declining capacity of the U. S. to weather regulatory storms and political attacks on the markets that give America it's economic strength.

If no one in America's political system pays attention to the messages delivered yesterday by the executives of the oil firms to the Senate judiciary committee, then U. S. economic fortunes are destined to decline. The politicians are living in a 1960s fantasy world, playing old and mythical Marxist themes on the alleged power of giant oil capitalists to control, manipulate and direct energy markets at the expense of the common man, the consumer.

The Big Oil giants that appeared in Washington yesterday were actually pipsqueaks in the new global energy market. Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips have no more control over oil supply and prices than the owner of a corner gas station. CononoPhillips executive vice-president told the committee that in the 1960s as much as "85% of the global oil and natural gas reserves were available for direct development by international oil companies, versus only 7% today."

What kind of impact do politicians expect to have if they go about policy with the idea that the few executives standing before them--and the media--are the powers behind the price of oil? Price controls, tax grabs and new regulations can only damage the few remaining market-based links in an industry that is now largely controlled and regulated by foreign governments.

Shell president John Hofmeister tabled a report from the Argonne National Laboratory listing 40 U. S. laws and regulations that prevent, delay, limit and/or increase costs in the gas industry. Hundreds of lawsuits hamstring development. Similar obstacles to energy development are building in Canada, forcing oilsands projects into retreat. Imperial Oil's Nearl project is now before the federal Cabinet, awaiting a jumpstart following a botched legal processs. Will Canadian politicians behave any differently that their American counterparts?

The oil industry's main message was aimed at getting U. S. politicians to act on policies that can actually increase oil and gas supplies: Remove obstacles to new exploration and development and resist the temptation to impose new taxes and constraints that will limit the oil industry's ability to operate.

In the past, the United States could afford to shoot itself in the foot, confident that its economic power could repair the damage. The current state of the world energy markets are such that current misguided policies, let alone new ones, are much more than a shot in the foot.


The decay of feminism

Feminism has been dying the death of a sick old woman. Shackled to the political party that opposed women's suffrage, just as blacks are manacled to the political party of the Ku Klux Klan, both captives levied en masse as foot soldiers to fight the political party of Susan B. Anthony and of Abraham Lincoln, the party of all the original feminists and all the original abolitionists, feminists, like civil rights straw bosses, long ago sold their political soul. So, when Hillary Clinton is pilloried by the radical Left, her protests of victimhood produce no feminist outrage, because feminists cannot afford to speak too loudly against their Leftist masters. They know their place.

Even when Hillary is treated with gross unfairness by the Left (and one must try hard to be unfair to Hillary Clinton!) the mice of feminism do not squeak: Their devotion is to those men who feed them smidgens of power; the really care little about women or ideals or fairness. They are aging, tired, weak, dull and sour. And they know their place.

Feminism was hijacked decades ago. Once it was connected to the Republican Party and those notions of individual merit, personal liberty and legal equality which that party championed. Then the Left and other totalitarian groups began to seize a once noble movement and transform it simply into another cog in the political machine.

It began almost a century ago. One of the leading feminists in Italy was Margherita Sarfatti. She was a Socialist who became a leading Fascist. She was also the editor of two major Fascist periodicals, the biographer of Mussolini, and his mistress of many years. What Sarfatti wanted was power and access to men with power. Feminism was a fulcrum to help her get near power and glamour.

In America, one of the most celebrated feminists was Betty Friedan. Not only was she a communist, but she was a Stalinist-style communist. From September 1939 until June 1941, Friedan opposed America helping Britain fight the Nazis. She did not do this passively, but aggressively, traveling with eight other Stalinist feminists from Smith College to Washington to protest Lend-Lease, being opposed by morally serious people right up to May 1941 for being a tool of the Nazis, until, at last, Hitler invaded Russia -- then she flip-flopped. Friedan, like Sarfatti, simply used the sloganeering of feminism to connect herself to totalitarian movements that promised her attention and power.

How ill has the sick old woman of feminism become? Around the world today, Moslems perform horrific "female circumcision" on young girls, imprison women for the "crime" of having been raped, men murder daughters and sisters in "honor killings," and crowds stone women to death for alleged "adultery." Where are the squawking feminists while these monstrosities are being performed? These sick, tired old ladies are sitting silently in their cages, afraid that their squawking might help President Bush -- a much greater crime to their owners than the very real, very savage treatment of millions of women. These women know their place.

Why, precisely, do these chattel slaves of Leftism feel obliged to hate Bush? He opposes abortion (just like Susan B. Anthony did) , but is preventing a doctor from murdering a mother's unborn child the clearest or greatest crime against women (even for those people who assume abortion helps women)? What else has President Bush done to offend these feminists? That is about it. All the remaining feminist complaints about President Bush are, upon closer examination, simply parroting Leftism, not feminism, and have little, if anything, specific to do with women.

Women who actually cared about women would care about how particular men treated women. President Bush adores his wife. There has not been even a hint of any marital misconduct on his part. He and Laura have protected and loved their twin daughters. President Bush also deeply reveres his mother. His whole life bespeaks respect and admiration for women.

What about Bill Clinton? He was a serial adulterer. He used his power and position to molest and terrorize women. The evidence is strong, perhaps overwhelming, that Clinton brutally raped a woman. Even his consensual adultery involved a young intern whose welfare feminists pretend to value.

Hillary, the feminist champion, not only endured these indignities, but used her own very public humiliation as a vehicle to snatch a Senate seat and then to make a run for the White House. The precedent both these horrid people made has pulled any effort to protect women from sexual degradation much harder. Both are, if anything, anti-feminists.

But they larded out goodies to feminist bureaucrats. They have made speeches exalting "feminists" like Anita Hill (who, like Hillary, testified that she silently endured her concocted sexual harassment, despite being a civil rights attorney, so that her career would not suffer - what honor!)

The facade of modern feminism is dying -- in the defense of the indefensible Bill Clinton, in dead silence when confronted with genuine crimes against women by enemies of America, in the demand that Hillary step aside so that a junior senator with no experience can win the White House for Democrats.

The real moral battles of feminism were won long ago. Women have had the vote for almost a century. Women had been admitted to advanced professions for just as long. Most of the wealth in America is owned by women. Most voters in America are women. Feminism really has no moral purpose any more. But it does have the purposes that attracted Sarfatti, Freidan and Hillary. As a ladies' auxiliary of different incarnations of totalitarianism, rotten modern feminism can earn raw power, and raw power alone drives the engines of feminism.

Even the ladies' auxiliary club of the Totalitarian Movement inevitably must yield ground to men. In the bitter, rough and amoral struggle for raw power, women simply cannot compete with men (that is a compliment to real women, not an insult.) Hitler was propelled into power largely by gaining the women's vote in Germany. Mussolini made feminist visitors to Italy swoon when he talked about his support for women's suffrage and the importance of women in Fascism. Stalin had lots of movements and propaganda supporting women's rights in Russia.

Yet none of Hitler's power partners were women. Sarfatti ultimately left Fascist Italy in 1938 and Fascist support for feminism was forgotten. None of the members of the Political Bureau (Politburo) of the Central Committee of the Communist Party were female. When brute force -- state or party power -- reigns, then women will also be second class citizens.

It is the Twilight of the goddesses today. The world is staggering toward totalitarianism, and that certainly includes the Leftists in free democracies who hate the freedom and hate the democracy which prevents them from grasping raw power. Hillary was never going to become the master of America. Feminism is a cruel joke played on women. It is no more "pro-women" than the Nazi Party was "pro-German" or the Ku Klux Klan was "pro-white people." Just as the Wagnerian catastrophe of Nazi produced a horrible Ragnarok for the German people, so feminism is producing a needless savaging of women.


Disrespect towards the Military at Harvard

It's a long way from Harvard yard to Benedictine College. But this little Kansas campus could give Cambridge a big lesson in diversity. Benedictine held its annual commencement ceremonies this past weekend, and I happened to be there because I was the speaker. After all the degrees had been handed out, two young men in dress blue were called back on stage. Before their families, their classmates, and their teachers, these men raised their right hands and swore to "support and defend" our Constitution. And then Lt. Jeff Fetters and Lt. Michael Mundie were presented to their class as "the newest officers in the United States Army."

What a striking moment this was. Here were two young men who had stepped forward to wear the uniform in a time of war - and who had their service publicly acknowledged by their peers and institution. One retired general who graduated from this same campus in 1966 put it this way. "These young men will need every bit of encouragement in the world they have now entered," said Tom Wessels. "And by golly, it was great to see them get it."

Now, Benedictine is hardly an Army kind of place. On this campus, you are far more likely to encounter someone becoming a missionary than someone entering the military. And not everyone assents to its generally conservative outlook. In fact, one of the three valedictorians made a point of saying so - and used her address to emphasize that it was important for Benedictine to make room for people like her. The point, of course, is that Benedictine did make room for her.

How far removed this is from the kind of orthodoxy that reigns at Harvard. There ROTC has not been allowed on campus (students can do the coursework at another school) since it was booted off during the Vietnam War. It remains unwelcome largely because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that excludes openly gay individuals.

In November 2001, the school's then-president, Larry Summers, tried to bridge the divide. At the Kennedy School, he spoke about the "special grace" that attends "those who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for our country." And Mr. Summers backed up his words by attending the commissioning ceremonies for Harvard's ROTC graduates.

Unfortunately, his successor, Drew Faust, did not attend last year's ceremony. Recently, she announced she will attend this year's ceremony. And in an email, a Harvard spokesman confirms that while President Faust has the "greatest admiration" for Harvard's ROTC students, she has clearly stated that the opportunity to serve should be open to all Harvard students - and any reference she makes that day will be "respectfully and appropriately conveyed." In other words, she reserves the right to use the event to voice disagreement with "don't ask, don't tell."

What would this mean? Well, for the Harvard seniors who will be receiving the gold bars of a second lieutenant, it would mean a political note injected into what should be a day of pride and celebration. It would mean that they will be called to account for a political policy that they do not set. And it would mean that in their first moments as new officers, they will be told by the leader of their university that they serve an institution that isn't, well, quite worthy of Harvard.

How sad this is. We are constantly told by critics that it is the war and the administration's policy they oppose, not the troops. University commissioning ceremonies would be a good time to prove it. Whether our new officers come from Benedictine or Harvard, they will be entrusted with one of the gravest responsibilities in our democracy: the lives of the men and women under their command. When America's sons and daughters are put in harm's way, we want them led by officers of character and integrity.

The United States military is one of our nation's most open and diverse institutions. The freedoms our universities depend on are defended by those who wear the uniform. And whether you are for the war in Iraq or against it, for gays in the military or against them, we should be able to honor these good men and women - publicly and without embarrassment.

When the lieutenants at Benedictine were sent off from their campus, it was with the prayers and respect of their college community. Our young officers at Harvard deserve no less. And if President Faust wants an example of the kind of diversity that makes this possible, she need look no farther than Atchison, Kan.



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, May 23, 2008

Class and politics in Britain

Comment on the Crewe & Nantwich by-election:

Labour has sent up a couple of young men dressed as toffs to follow the Conservative candidate around. It has not boosted its opinion rating either. And now it seems as if one of these men went to an expensive public school himself (not the same posh school as Ed Balls, a different posh school). You have to hand it to Gordon Brown's crack team. I didn't think it was possible, but they've done it. To this the toffs stunt, personally approved by Gordon Brown, adds another dimension - it is an abandonment of one of the party's most attractive features.

I know where Labour got the idea that campaigning against David Cameron's class might work. It came from a group of pundits I call the ChipOx Club. These are journalists who went to Oxford from middle-class homes. On their way back from the library to their college rooms in Michaelmas term, carrying a cup of cocoa and determined to finish their essay on the Battle of Naseby, they had champagne spilt on them by the drunk younger son of an earl who was fleeing a shaving foam fight. They have hated toffs ever since. And they are convinced that everyone else shares their dislike.

As a Jewish suburbanite and the son of immigrants, I have always found such class prejudice baffling. But as a political analyst I have this further observation - if you are going to campaign in Crewe on class, the toffs are the wrong class to campaign against.

Since the days of the industrial revolution there has always been something of an alliance between the working class and the aristocracy, united against the common enemy - the mill owners. When the fighting broke out in the streets of Leeds over the amelioration of factory conditions, radicals and workers' leaders such as Richard Oastler saw themselves as allies of Tories such as the Earl of Shaftesbury.

To be portrayed as a top-hatted toff actually represents an improvement in the Tory image. Being seen as pinstripe-suited bosses, estate agents and spivs was far more devastating. Consider the brilliant salvo fired at the US presidential candidate and businessman Mitt Romney by his opponent Mike Huckabee: "People would rather elect a president who reminds them of the guy they work with, not that guy who laid them off." This is the sort of sentiment that has the ability to damage the Tories. Toffs are benign and reassuring by comparison.

If Labour is baffled by its failure to make class work against Mr Cameron, I think this is part of the reason. His class background is actually helping him to change the way people see his party in a positive way.

There is, however, another reason that it isn't working. Voters do not use Labour's campaign to help them to understand the Tory party. They understand that one party isn't likely to give them an honest picture of the other. They use Labour's campaign to help them to understand the Labour Party. And what the Crewe campaign is doing is signalling that Tony Blair's Labour Party is dead and another, much less attractive, organisation has replaced it.

In 1976 Labour ran a party political broadcast attacking the "honourable Algernon" who was born "with a silver spoon in his mouth". Even at the time, more than 30 years ago, this was regarded as disreputable. Jim Callaghan, then party leader, disowned it. But some in the party hierarchy regarded the broadcast as a masterstroke. Mr Blair built his career on an understanding that these people were wrong.

Class warfare, even if waged against someone else's class, is spectacularly unattractive. It makes Labour seem aggressive, prejudiced, an exclusive sect more interested in your background than your ideas. Mr Blair wanted his party to be a big tent, welcoming everyone. This idea, this powerful political idea, which brought the Tory party to the edge of extinction, which brought landslide Labour majorities, is now over. And with it Labour's political hegemony.

New Labour is dead. Gordon Brown has killed it. And at the funeral, the undertakers will be wearing the top hats from the Crewe & Nantwich by-election campaign.


Catholic Church offers therapy to 'cure' gays in Poland

The sixth-ever International Day Against Homophobia is held May 17, but many homosexuals in Poland will not celebrate it. The Catholic Church has created rehabilitation centers in Poland to rehabilitate gay people and "get them back on the right path." The Odwaga Center uses therapy, prayer and chastity to teach its patients to resist their homosexual impulses. Men at the center are taught to play football and women are taught to cook.

"When you want a candy for example, you can resist and have it later," said Lena Wojdan, a psychologist at the center. "And you can trade it for a piece of chocolate."

But gay associations said that such psychological treatment can be dangerous for the patients' mental health. The therapists tell them that it will pass and when it doesn't, they feel much more depressed, said Marta Abramowicz of Campaign Against Homophobia. "I know many cases when people after that committed suicide," she said.

Several public leaders in the European Union have recently been criticized for discriminating against gay people. A gay American man voiced outrage against Poland's President Lech Kaczynski for using a video of his marriage to another man to publicly denounce an EU proposal for gay rights. A survey published last year showed that more than half of all Poles view homosexuality as a sin.


Anatomy of a Leftist Smear Campaign


During the past two years, while my nomination to the Federal Election Commission was pending - and before I withdrew last week - friends would call whenever the latest newspaper story or blog post attacking me was planted by political operatives and left-wing advocacy organizations. They always asked the same question: Why was I putting up with the character assassination that has become the norm in Senate confirmation battles whenever a conservative is nominated for public office?

In 17 years of practicing law I'd never been accused of ethical or professional lapses. Since my arrival in Washington, however, I've been called corrupt and unethical, and labeled as everything from a Klansman to a Nazi (my last name seems to generate that latter pejorative) for my work at the Department of Justice.

All of these charges were levied because I dared to take a different view of the law than the political left in the area of civil rights, voting and election law. Those outside Washington cannot conceive how far advocacy organizations, party activists and congressional staffers are willing to go to personally destroy anyone who doesn't agree with their political agenda.

In 2001, I joined the Justice Department as a career lawyer in the civil rights division. True enough, I had been warned the division was a cauldron of left-wing political activism. In fact, in a 1990s redistricting case, a federal judge criticized the career lawyers of the division for behaving like the in-house counsel of the ACLU. He said that "the considerable influence of ACLU advocacy on the voting rights decisions of the United States Attorney General is an embarrassment."

The reputation of the division was well-deserved. From the very first day on the job it was clear that my new colleagues were offended by my presence. Indeed, I eventually learned from a few friendlier lawyers in the division that it was a miracle I had been hired: The career staff would discard qualified applicants if they saw anything that suggested conservative leanings.

A number of former career lawyers in the division very publicly criticized my nomination to the FEC in 2006. Their criticisms were trumpeted by the media. While the stories always portrayed these critics as "nonpartisan" professionals, nothing could be further from the truth.

The legal work I saw from these and other lawyers in the division was distorted by politics and partisan policy views. They often misrepresented the facts and applicable law in order to manipulate the division's political appointees. Take, for example, a Mississippi case in which the Justice Department ultimately won a judgment against local officials for blatant and intentional discrimination to deny voters their right to vote. The chief of the voting section, Joseph Rich, deleted the recommendation to file a lawsuit from the original memorandum prepared by the investigating attorney that summarized the case. Why? Because this case involved discrimination by black officials against white voters. According to lawyers involved in the case, Mr. Rich did not believe the Voting Rights Act should be used to protect white voters against racial discrimination.

In a 2003 Texas redistricting controversy, the recommendations of Mr. Rich and his lawyers to object to the Texas plan exactly paralleled the claims of the attorney representing the Democratic plaintiffs in a later lawsuit against the state. The attorney was formerly in the civil rights division of the Justice Department. I opposed their objections, because they were clearly wrong under the facts and the applicable law. A federal court had already determined that under the Voting Rights Act there were only eight protected majority-minority congressional districts in Texas. Mr. Rich and his colleagues tried to claim that there were 11. But the claims were specious, and were only put forth to help the Democratic Party.

I have been relentlessly attacked over the past two years for my stance in that Texas redistricting controversy, and for the Justice Department's preclearance, under the Voting Rights Act, of a voter ID law from Georgia. But the Supreme Court and other federal courts have made it quite clear that the Justice Department reached the correct legal conclusion in both cases. The opinions of the career lawyers in those cases were rejected for good reason; as I held all along, they were legally wrong.

I explained all of this in great detail in materials I provided to the Senate after my confirmation hearing in June 2007. No matter; the reasoned - and undisputed - legal explanation was ignored by the left, the media and the Democratic Senators trying to stop my confirmation. Yet I am still being called a racist and a "vote suppressor" because I agree with the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of voter ID laws.

The Bush administration filed more voting-rights lawsuits in its first five years than the Clinton administration filed in its last five years. And we did so without having over $4 million in attorneys' fees levied against us for filing frivolous discrimination claims, as occurred during that administration.

I do plead guilty to this: bringing to the attention of superiors at the Justice Department the legal manipulations of ideologues in the Civil Rights Division who passed themselves off as professional civil servants while carrying water for their friends and allies in left-wing organizations like the ACLU. Had I kept silent, I would likely be in a far different position than I am today. But I did not, and those I butted heads with have their revenge.

My own hard feelings will pass. But the political system has been damaged once more by the poisonous tactics of the left, and there is no reason to think that the whole sorry spectacle will not be repeated again and again and again. So long as such tactics are accepted and even encouraged by politicians and the media, it will become harder and harder to find ordinary citizens willing to submit to the character assassination that now passes for our confirmation process.


More socialist paternalism for Australian blacks

Blacks must NOT be treated as individuals, apparently. All "for their own good", of course

Fifteen years after the passage of the historic Mabo legislation, the Rudd Government has flagged sweeping changes to native title to ensure the benefits of the mining boom flow to Aboriginal communities and are not locked up in trusts or frittered away. Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, delivering the third annual Eddie Mabo Lecture in Townsville, said yesterday that native title legislation was too complex and had failed to deliver money to remote Aboriginal communities, despite lucrative agreements with mining companies. She said changes to native title should be used "as part of our armoury to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians".

Under the changes flagged yesterday, Ms Macklin wants direct payments to individuals minimised in favour of payments that create benefits for the whole community. "It is not tenable for people to continue to live in overcrowded housing in dysfunctional, despairing communities while substantial funds, nominally allocated for their benefit, are either locked up in trusts or distributed as irregular windfalls to be frittered away with no long-term good," she said. "The policy challenge is to both respect the rights of native title holders and claimants to make such agreements in relation to their land, and to make sure that the funds which flow are used to make a difference to their lives and to the lives of their children and grandchildren."

In what could be interpreted as a criticism of the first Native Title Act passed by Labor in the early 1990s, Ms Macklin said there was a need to look hard at the "structures and institutions we have put in place", and to make sure they were working effectively. To that end, the Rudd Government would work up a reform package over the next six months in tandem with the development of its Indigenous Economic Development Strategy.

"We want to actively explore the scope to encourage the negotiation of comprehensive settlements as an alternative to the convoluted claims processes currently in place," Ms Macklin said. "We will need to look at encouraging stakeholders to change the ways payments are negotiated and structured to improve accountability and provide greater assurance to indigenous interests."

Ms Macklin said she and Attorney-General Robert McClelland would convene a small informal group of key players involved in native title to work through these issues, including leading indigenous academic Marcia Langton and Ian Williams, a member of the Argyle Native Title Trust. Ms Macklin said at least three areas needed fundamental change: improving the "overly complex and exceedingly slow" native title claims process; improving representation for the indigenous people making claims; and ensuring that the income streams raised as part of native title agreements were properly distributed.

In 1992, the High Court overturned the legal concept that Australia was unoccupied, or terra nullius, when Europeans arrived. The so-called Mabo decision was followed by the creation of the native title regime in 1994 that has to date resolved 1200 claims. But according to the National Native Title Tribunal, there are more than 550 live claims, including at least 120 that were lodged more than 10 years ago.....

The most controversial part of her Mabo speech was the suggestion of government interference or regulation in the distribution of funds raised through agreements between landholders and mining companies. But Ms Macklin was unapologetic about exploring the option. "There will be a need for hard-headed leadership from indigenous interests," she said. "We would all have cause for shame if the huge proceeds expected to flow to indigenous people from the mining boom are not harnessed to help close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians," she said....

Ms Macklin gave the speech shortly after renaming the James Cook University library after Mabo, who was a 34-year-old gardener at the campus when he discovered he did not own his traditional homeland of Mer Island [Interesting: "Mer" is the original native name. It is shown on maps as "Murray" Island. In 1933 Ion Idriess wrote a novel called "The drums of Mer", which I greatly enjoyed reading when I was a kid] in the Torres Strait.

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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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Britain: Marriage registrar 'faced dismissal for obeying Christian doctrine on homosexual unions'

(She is black so that may well protect her. Blackness is second only to homosexuality in the modern British hierarchy of privilege)

A civil registrar who refuses to officiate at partnerships between same-sex couples, claiming that it is "sinful" and against her religion, has brought a legal case that could have implications for ceremonies conducted throughout the country. Lillian Ladele, 47, a Christian, said yesterday that "as a matter of religious conscience" she could not perform civil partnerships for gay couples. She has accused Islington council, in North London, of religious discrimination and victimisation because it asked her to perform the ceremonies as part of her 31,000 pounds-a-year job.

Employment lawyers said that the case, which has angered gay rights groups, could affect councils throughout the country. It is expected to lead to a landmark ruling over whether employees can be required to act against their consciences. More than 18,000 same-sex ceremonies are performed each year under the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force in December 2005.

Clare Murray, of the employment specialists CM Murray LLP, told The Times that Ms Ladele's case could affect the way that councils throughout Britain organise their civil ceremonies. "They are all governed by the same legislation," she said. Even if Islington did lose, other councils might be able to argue that they were justified in requiring registrars to officiate for same-sex couples.

Ms Ladele said that Islington council was forcing her to choose between her beliefs and keeping her job by requiring her to undertake civil partnership duties. Giving evidence yesterday, she told the employment tribunal in Central London: "I hold the orthodox Christian view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life to the exclusion of all others and that this is the God-ordained place for sexual relations. It creates a problem for any Christian if they are expected to do or condone something that they see as sinful. I feel unable to facilitate directly the formation of a union that I sincerely believe is contrary to God's law." More than 600 gay couples have had civil partnership ceremonies in Islington, making it Britain's third-most popular borough for the service.

Ms Ladele, who has worked for the council for 16 years, alleged that she was accused of being homophobic by gay colleagues at Islington town hall and was shunned by staff after refusing to carry out civil partnerships. She claimed that she was "ridiculed" by her boss, the superintendent registrar Helen Mendez-Childs, when she raised her concerns about the new ceremonies in August 2004. Ms Ladele said that her superior had told her that her stance was akin to a registrar refusing to marry a black person. For 15 months she swapped with colleagues to avoid the ceremonies. Formal complaints were made about her in 2006. Ms Ladele, who said that she was surprised that colleagues were offended, said that the council gave her an ultimatum to carry out the ceremonies or face being dismissed for gross misconduct.

She said that, to "punish" her for a principled stance, she was denied the chance to preside over lucrative weddings staged at special premises. "There was no respect whatsoever for my religious beliefs," she said. In 2006, Ms Ladele and another female registrar, who shared similar beliefs, were formally accused by two colleagues of "discriminating against the homosexual community". An internal disciplinary investigation as to whether she was guilty of misconduct began in May 2007. Ms Ladele said that staff started to act in a "different, hostile way towards me". "I continued to be civil towards everyone. People would just blank me. It hurt so badly," she said. She claimed that before the furore she had been conducting about fifty marriages a year but was then allocated as few eight per year. Britain's 1,700 registrars were effectively freelance and could opt out of ceremonies until last December, when they were brought under the control of town halls.

Ben Summerskill, of the gay rights group Stonewall, said that public servants were paid to "uphold the law of the land" and could not discriminate. "Doubtless there were those 40 years ago who claimed a moral objection to mixed marriages between those of different ethnic origin," he said. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, said that the matter was "an important case for religious liberty". He said: "Other occupations allow conscientious objections. No homosexual couple is being denied their right to marriage, because other registrars are performing them."

Islington council denies religious discrimination or victimisation, and claims that Ms Ladele's stance breaches both its dignity-for-all policy and its code of conduct for employees.


Leftist War History To Laugh At

Cold war "revisionism" is not dead. I remember back in the '50s that Leftists would tell me how stories of oppression in Russia were "lies of the capitalist press". Not much has changed. Comment by Jules Crittenden below

Apparently the Cold War was a right-wing fantasy. Comments from Left Field:
Ronald Reagan did not "win" the Cold War. If any one person can be credited with bringing the Cold War to an end, that person was Mikhail Gorbachev. It's true that the Soviet Union fell in large part because it was bankrupted by 40 years of the most unprecedented arms buildup in human history, but that's nothing the United States should take pride in, because that arms buildup brought us to the brink of nuclear war at least twice, and it was totally unnecessary.

The entire Cold War was premised on two false beliefs: one, that the Soviet Union had a military arsenal equal or superior to our own, so that we always had to "catch up"; and two, that the Soviet government had global expansionist ambitions, and was willing to launch a first strike on the United States to achieve those ambitions. In fact, the Soviets were convinced that the U.S. government was planning to launch a first strike on them.

The Soviets never had the financial resources to conduct the kind of arms race that went on for those four decades, but they felt they had no choice, because, from their point of view, they could not imagine why the Americans would be so committed to building up their nuclear arsenal - way beyond the point of parity - if they were not planning on using those nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union. This, and much more, is laid out in meticulously researched detail by Richard Rhodes, in his book Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race, which I read a couple of months ago.
Haven't read the book, but apparently it details what a peace-loving, kite-flying, deeply misunderstood nation the Soviet Union was.

What I'm getting from this is that Soviet nukes were no big deal, as long as they had more than us, and if we just had a little faith in human kindness. Now she tells us. It's something like that, anyway. It's not entirely clear what this dingbat from Left Field is saying on that score, and I'm way too neurotically war-addicted to think straight at present. But apparently Soviet global expansionist ambitions were OK as long as they did not entail first-strike nuclear plans. Millions of eastern Europeans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Afghans, Cubans, Angolans, Nicaraguans, etc., will be glad to hear it wasn't a problem after all. We should take no pride in the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc., because if we waited for another 50 years or so . actually I'm not sure about that part because she never explains how and when the Soviet Union was supposed to end itself. I think the idea might be along the lines of the Obama doctrine: importune softly and carry a white flag.

It's a relevant history lesson, because much like Ahmadinejad doesn't really intend to get a bomb and blow up Israel and control the Middle East, neither was the Cold War about the advance of international socialism of the most vile, degrading and murderous variety. Like this Bush Iran thing, it was about the scourge of American paranoia.
The world we are living in now, and those "serious threats" that the neocons see everywhere they look, are the inheritance handed down to us from the Cold War and its enthusiastic adherents. All of the C.I.A.-engineered coups, U.S.-supported brutal dictatorships, arms deals, defense contracts, creation of new weapons systems, and wars - Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, the war of sanctions, the invasion of and war against Iraq, and the continuing military occupation - have not made Americans, or anyone else in the world, one bit safer. Which is why those who believe so deeply in war as a means to address existential threats continue to tout war as the way to go: It hasn't worked yet, but they are still hoping that it will.
We should use our words, military industrial war pig complex is bad, threats are not serious, and anyway, we have it coming. Related matter, while we're on the subject, which Yanqui Imperialista war pig's bright idea was it to force the Soviets to flood the world with AK-47s?

Here's an earlier post from some porridge-brained Left Fielder who actually thinks the Soviets were a threat. Sheesh. He has correctly noted however that letting Iranians get nukes and dominate the Middle East is no big deal.

Everyone of course is riffing off this absurd piece by Jennifer Rubin at Commentary that suggests Obama is some kind of naive moron.


Rupert tells it like it is

A "pretty strong degree of anti-Semitism" in Europe is at the root of the hostile coverage Israel receives in parts of the European media, Rupert Murdoch, the News Corporation global media chief, charged on Thursday. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post following his appearance at Jerusalem's "Facing Tomorrow" presidential conference, Murdoch (pictured) said it was hard for Israel to obtain fair media coverage in Europe because it was forced to "start off behind." Elaborating, Murdoch said: "If you go to the BBC, the French press, places like that - they start as hostile, and it's very difficult to overcome. But you've just got to press on and do what you can."

In a series of characteristically striking assessments, Murdoch went on to say that "the whole of Europe has gone soft. You've got a degree of disintegration - though that's too strong a word - of society." Where Britain was concerned, he said, "maybe it's a lack of leadership, too." In an implied critique of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, he added, "You didn't have lack of leadership with Tony Blair."

Murdoch owns a considerable proportion of the British print media, including The Sun and Times dailies, and the SKY satellite network. His newspapers' support was critical to the electoral successes of prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Blair, so his comment about a current lack of leadership is potentially significant for Brown and his would-be replacement, Conservative Party leader David Cameron.

Turning to the presidential contest in the US, where again Murdoch's media holdings carry immense potential influence, he praised Democratic front-runner Barack Obama as "a very smart guy" and noted that "we supported him against Hillary Clinton" for the Democratic nomination. His various US media outlets had not yet "declared where we are" regarding the presidential race against Republican candidate John McCain, he said, and the country would get "a much better look at Obama" in the months ahead. But "so far, you've got to say that a majority of people like what they see," said Murdoch. "A majority of Democrats" certainly do, he added.

Murdoch said he did not think Israel need be worried by the prospect of an Obama presidency, nor specifically by the Illinois senator's inexperience and potential naivete when grappling with the threat posed by Iran. "Don't worry about naivete," he said. Whoever became president would face a learning curve. "Presidents are made by events. All great statesmen are made by events. So let's see how he would react," Murdoch said.

Earlier, in his comments to the conference, Murdoch noted approvingly that each advance in media technology, starting with the printing press and through to the Internet, had made information more widely and cheaply available - an instance of democracy at work. Evidently a Jerusalem Post reader, Murdoch chose to cite only this newspaper and his own Times of London as two such readily accessible, free news sources on the Internet.

It required smart people with strong character to take advantage of developing technology, he said, and today's economy offered great rewards to those who had these qualities. "You Israelis know this from your history," he said, praising Israel for using its "human capital" to make up for the lack of natural resources and help carve a modern society and a technological leader out of desert.

To help maximize that Israeli human capital, he said he had agreed to serve on a task force of Israeli and American businessmen to investigate the viability of a new high school geared toward cultivating a new generation of Israeli leaders - a school that could serve as an Israeli education model. Leslie Wexner, chairman of the Columbus, Ohio, based The Limited clothing chain, and Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher/owner of the New York Daily News and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report, had also agreed to participate in the initiative, launched by President Shimon Peres.

Taking stock of Israel at 60 in his interview with the Post, Murdoch, 77, whose holdings here include the News Data Systems broadcast technology company and a share of TV's Channel 10, spoke warmly of Israel in general and specifically its economy, expressing confidence that the country is going to thrive in coming years.

However, he noted, "you have this huge problem of hostile neighbors, financed and promoted by an Iran which has unlimited money and is led by Islamic extremism." Hamas is not interested in compromise, he said. And while Fatah, in the past, would always talk peace "but never meant it, now maybe they mean it but they're very weak."

The world needed to face up to the threat of Islamic extremism and while Murdoch said he was "not as pessimistic as most people" about the threat of a nuclear Iran, he stressed that "God knows, we want to stop them." "Any government that uses a nuclear weapon is signing the self-destruction of their whole nation," he said. "Nobody wants that or would do that." But Islamic extremism was going to be around for a long time, and "the greatest danger is if nuclear weapons were to fall into the hands of nongovernment [extremists], who wouldn't hesitate to put a bomb onto Tel Aviv or New York City... That's by far the biggest danger to the world."

He suggested countering the extremists by doing "everything you can to encourage prosperity in the world of Islam and education to keep people away [from extremist ideology] and ensure they're not tempted by this.

Having said that, however, Murdoch, who sat down with the Post after a lengthy meeting with Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, acknowledged that he was at a loss to explain the viciousness of Islamic extremism, as exemplified by the July 7, 2005, public transport bombings in London, carried out by four British-raised Muslims. "I don't understand how prosperous British-born Muslims would [do this]," he said.

Returning to the role of the media, he said some networks such as Al-Jazeera were giving extremism "respectability to some extent" and that "in the world of the Internet, every philosophy gets its run."


Seriously, some of my best friends are anti-Semites

Former Australian Labor Party minister Barry Cohen brings his trademark good humour to a very serious subject

My favourite definition of an anti-Semite is "a person who hates Jews more than is absolutely necessary". Susan Chandler, the former Victorian Liberal Party campaign manager who described a colleague as a "greedy f..king Jew", appears to qualify. The object of Chandler's affection was Adam Held, the Liberal candidate at the recent federal election for the Victorian seat of Melbourne Ports. Held is Jewish, as is his opponent, the sitting member Michael Danby.

It appears Held earned Chandler's ire during the campaign when he committed the unforgivable sin of doing an Oliver Twist and asking for more. It wasn't gruel he was after but extra political pamphlets for his campaign. Chandler obviously thought it was a plot by the Elders of Zion to corner the market in political pamphlets. Today pamphlets, tomorrow the world. One would have thought that in view of Held's work ethic a more apt description would have been "a hardworking f..king Jew".

Clearly, Chandler is not the sharpest knife in the Liberal drawer. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature would not have committed such terms of endearment to email. Nor would they have been outraged at the suggestion that they had done anything wrong. "Anti-Semitic? Moi? Some of my best friends are Jews." She may have a few less in the not-too-distant future.

It's strange how anti-Semites rarely recognise their own prejudice. As a young and promising golfer I indicated to my boss, a charming and cultured man, that I was interested in joining his golf club. "Sorry, son, no Jews, jockeys or jailbirds." He couldn't recognise his responsibility as a human being to take a principled stand against anti-Semitism.

In the 1940s, when Jews were unable to join any of the A-grade clubs in Sydney or Melbourne, they decided to build their own clubs and were immediately attacked for being exclusive. That the clubs had non-Jewish members was conveniently ignored.

After World War II, and the attempt by the Nazis to destroy European Jewry, there was sympathy and support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the mandated territories of Palestine. When the UN voted in November 1947 to create an Arab and a Jewish state, the neighbouring Arab countries attacked the Jewish state. That Israel survived was first met with disbelief, then awe and finally anger. Those, particularly on the Left, who had wept openly for the murdered millions, started to resent Jews no longer being victims.

How dare Jews win? How dare they defend themselves against those who wished to destroy them? How dare they refuse to accede to the absurd demands of the people who had created the problem by refusing to accept the UN decision? Jews had decided that they no longer wanted the sympathy and tears of the liberal Left. They wanted to survive, on their own terms.

As Israel repulsed attempts to destroy it, the anger of the liberal Left increased in intensity. As internationally famous lawyer Alan Dershowitz stated, "Throughout the world, from the chambers of the UN to the campuses of universities, Israel is singled out for condemnation, disinvestment, boycott and demonisation."

Anti-Semitism? "No! No!" cried Israel's critics. "We don't hate Jews, just Israel." For many, Israel became the pariah state. Anti-Semitism became acceptable again. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman responded: "Criticising Israel is not anti-Semitic and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction, out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East, is anti-Semitic and not saying so is dishonest."

It's the double standards by which Israel is judged that incenses Jews and their supporters. Dershowitz's story of Harvard University president A. Lawrence Lowell's attempt to limit the number of Jews admitted to Harvard in the 1920s because "Jews cheat" is the classic double standard. When an important alumnus objected on the grounds that non-Jews also cheated, Lowell replied, "You're changing the subject. I'm talking about Jews."

In Australia today many journalists are incapable of recognising their own deep-seated prejudices. When I asked one journalist why he and many of his colleagues felt it necessary to mention that certain businesspeople were Jewish, particularly those who had brushes with the law, he bridled at the suggestion that this was anti-Semitic. "It's part of the story," he spluttered. "Really?" I replied. "How, exactly?" He was unable to give a coherent reply. I asked, "Do you know and mention the religion of James Packer, Rupert Murdoch, Christopher Skase, Kerry Stokes or Alan Bond?" "No," he replied, somewhat shamefaced. "And nor should you," I told him, "Because it's irrelevant."

Others were more astute. No mention of religion. They just pointed out that the person they were writing about was a regular visitor to Israel. More clever still was the television program about a Jewish businessman who had just been released from jail. No mention he was Jewish, just a shot of him with his rabbi. Anti-Semitic? Perish the thought.

Then there's the sinister Jewish lobby. One Canberra journalist becomes apoplectic on the subject. Again, no mention of the Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, union or dozens of business and special interest groups that continually lobby governments. No suggestion that they are insidious or sinister. Oh dear, no. Selective indignation, dear readers, is anti-Semitism.

As a young boy growing up in the aftermath of World War II, I hoped that anti-Semitism would gradually fade away. Regrettably, that has not been the case. It is alive and well and, it would appear, still common among what was once called polite society.



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, May 21, 2008

Speech to American Jewish Committee by The Hon. Alexander Downer MP, Member for Mayo, on the occasion of the conferral of the Ramer Award for Excellence in Diplomacy

The speech was delivered Thursday May 1 2008 at the 102nd annual dinner of the American Jewish Committee. Mr Downer is a former Australian Foreign Minister in the Howard government. I think the speech is comparable with the excellent speech to the Knesset recently delivered by George Bush.

The speech contrasts greatly with the outpouring of dishonesty and pure venom emanating from the Leftist end of the mainstream Australian media. See here, for instance. And our public broadcaster bewailed the fact that the venom concerned was not published more widely! Yet the reporting in the article concerned is so unbalanced that it is not even good propaganda.

"It is a great honour to be presented with this award by the American Jewish community. Indeed, I feel humbled that you have chosen me to be the recipient of an award which commemorates the extra-ordinary contribution to the American Jewish community by the Ramers.

The Australian and American Jewish communities have a lot in common. In both cases Jews have found in our countries the peace and tolerance which was denied them over the centuries in Europe and the Middle East: but they have not only found freedom and tolerance in Australia and America , they have contributed mightily to our two societies.

You haven't yet elected a Jewish President whereas we have had two Jewish Governors' General, the Governor General being the de facto head of state in Australia . But in both our cases the contribution Jewish people have made to science, academia, literature the arts and business has been magnificent.

An embattled, denigrated and persecuted people has come to our shores and in finding freedom has said 'let's build this place'. It's part of what makes our societies great.

In 1918, Australians and Americans went into battle together for the first time. We've done so many times since. It was at the Battle of Le Hamel, this being the first major American military action on European soil. Those of you with a sense of history may think the Americans fought under the redoubtable General Pershing but in this their first major battle in Europe they fought under the Australian commander, General Sir John Monash. Monash by the way was Jewish - so you won't be surprised to learn we won the battle!

In many ways, Australians and Americans are the most natural of allies. Our countries were settled by peoples fleeing persecution and discrimination and who sought the opportunity to achieve prosperity away from the class based elitism of the old world. We grew to love a life of individual freedom and to place equal value on every person.

We confronted and still confront three great adversaries over the last 100 years. We fought the bloody and heartless totalitarianism of fascism and we won. We fought the intolerance, cruelty and incompetence of communism and we won. And today we fight the fanaticism and ideological insanity of Islamic extremism - and we must win that fight as well.

Islamic extremism has several manifestations. There is Al Qaeda and its Asian variant, Jemaah Islamia. There is the Iranian theocracy. There is the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan .

These people are haters and many of them are killers. They hate our open, free societies that respect men and women equally. They want to destroy democracy and equality of opportunity in Iraq , in Afghanistan , in Indonesia and in Israel . They want to destroy modernity and plunge the world back into the Middle Ages. They want Taliban-style regimes not just in Afghanistan but throughout the world, particularly the Muslim world: regimes where girls are denied schooling, where the most powerful are chosen by a few zealots not the people, where the tools of modernity are disbanded and poverty becomes endemic.

Our great countries stand in their way. This is a tough fight because we are confronting people who have no concern for human life. No act of barbarism is beyond these people. To win we need to be clear eyed. This war is not popular with everyone, it's expensive and it's costing the lives of our young men and women.

But please, I implore you, contemplate the alternative: Victory for Al Qaeda in Sunni Iraq, the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan , Hamas in total control of both Gaza and the West Bank, a Hezbollah-dominated government in Lebanon and what then? The Moslem Brotherhood taking control in Egypt, the Gulf States swept up in the euphoria of a resurgent, extremist Wahabiism. Would newly democratic Indonesia - the world's largest Islamic country succumb to extremism? Would New York again and Sydney become front line cities in the great ideological battle of our time?

And let's think about democratic, freedom-loving Israel . For those of us who live in Australia or America it is hard to conceive of life in a tiny country a fraction the size of our own, living cheek by jowl with people who want to destroy you.

It is easy for Australians, Americans and Europeans in the relative security of our homes to lecture the Israeli government to be more accommodating with its enemies, to criticise Israel for erecting a security barrier, to complain that Prime Minister Olmet won't hug a Hamas leader, to deplore Israeli attacks on rocket bases in Southern Lebanon and Gaza and Israeli attacks on Hamas terrorist leaders in Gaza and the West Bank. It's easy to lecture. But it is harder to understand.

One of the lessons of history is to understand your adversary. The West professes with genuine sincerity to believe in Israel 's right to exist within secure borders. It argues for the two state solution as the only viable option for peace in the Middle East . They are right to do so. It is the only option.

But what some in the West, including a good number of Americans and Australians, don't understand is there are many in the Middle East who don't accept the two-state solution and Israel 's right to exist as a separate State. Hamas and Hezbollah believe in the destruction of the Israeli State . That is bad enough. But behind them lies the power, the finance and the weapons of Iran . When President Ahmadinejad says he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, he means it. He believes there should be no Jewish State of Israel.

Demands that Israel negotiate with those who wish to destroy it are unreasonable and worse: those demands weaken Israel 's diplomatic strength and help to undermine community support for Israel in Western countries.

Indeed I will go further: there has been a constant stream of criticism of Israel particularly from Europe and elements of the United Nations for each and every one of the defensive measures it takes. Building a security barrier is wrong, destroying terrorist bases is wrong, attacking terrorist leaders and planners is wrong, trying to stop missile attacks on villages in Northern and Southern Israel is wrong. It doesn't leave Israel with too many options.

These criticisms have been particularly vehement in much of the Western media. That has had an effect on public opinion which has become increasingly hostile to Israel. But Israel is a democracy. No Israeli leader can turn his or her back on the struggle against those who wish to destroy Israel . The world needs to respect that.

We also need to send out again and again a simple and clear message to the international community that peace in the Middle East can never come until Israelis are allowed to sleep in peace. That message needs to be transmitted not just in Europe and America. Asia needs to hear and understand that message as well.

Today, as the balance of global power shifts to the Asia Pacific region, your campaigns to ensure people understand the truth of the Middle East conflict must extend to China, Japan, India, Korea and Indonesia. Those countries are going to count for a great deal more in international fora in the future. But at present they are hearing just one side of the argument. When I have spoken about the Middle East in Asia I have felt somewhat lonely!

When I first heard last year of the destruction of a North Korean-built nuclear facility in Syria , I thought its destruction was a triumph. It was a blow for peace. What horrors would have occurred years from now if that project had survived? But the existence of this project, discovered only at a relatively late stage of development, reminds us of the immense dangers Israelis live with day by day.

Ladies and Gentlemen, these are tough times.We have to prevail over Islamic extremism. Liberal democracy has, once more, to triumph. But it won't happen by wishing and hoping: it will only happen through courage and action.

I know what your public are saying, I know there is pain at the costs both human and financial. But the true test of the statesman is to do the right thing by a troubled world, not play to a gallery.

Thank you again for this great honour: whether our political leaders are popular or not, our two great countries will always be the great beacons of hope to billions of people around the world who crave the liberties we are blessed to enjoy. And make no mistake, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel in its struggle to secure peace and freedom".


Letter to Editor of LA Times: "Same Sex Marriage is NOT legal in Massachusetts or California!"

Your above the fold headline in today's LA Times, "Massachusetts lives happily with same-sex marriage law," by Elizabeth Mehren is totally inaccurate and misleading, and it is vital that you clarify this error for your readers. The truth is that "same sex marriage" is not legal in Massachusetts which is why only about a month ago legislation was introduced to amend the current Massachusetts marriage statute (chapter 207) to legalize "same sex marriage." (H1710 and S918) which were both defeated. This alone disproves your inaccurate headline!

Under the Massachusetts' Constitution, the oldest functioning constitution in the world authored by John Adams, which served as the model for our Federal Constitution:
"[T]he people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent." (PART THE FIRST, Article X.)
And "the people" via their elected representatives never "consented" to "same sex marriage." The current marriage statute was never amended or suspended and to this day doesn't include a provision for "same sex marriages."

Many, including former Governor Romney, have claimed that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, "legalized same sex marriage" in issuing their Goodridge opinion in 2003, and that he was "ordered to enforce the law." Both assertions are totally false. Even the Goodridge Court admitted that their opinion in no way "legalized" same sex "marriage":
"Here, no one argues that striking down the marriage laws is an appropriate form of relief."
In fact, they admitted that under the statute, Chapter 207 of the Massachusetts General Laws, homosexual marriage is illegal:
"We conclude, as did the judge, that M.G.L. c. 207 may not be construed to permit same-sex couples to marry."
The truth is that the Goodridge declaratory opinion should have been declared null and void since the court lacked the subject matter jurisdiction under Article V to even hear the case:
"All causes of marriage.shall be heard and determined by the governor and council, until the legislature shall, by law, make other provision." (PART THE SECOND, Ch. III, Article V.)
Although many "conservative" lawyers and pundits have claimed that the "activist MSJC Court" legalized "same sex marriage," it was the acting governor Mitt Romney, a "conservative" Republican who illegally ordered the Department of Public Health to change the marriage certificates from "husband" and "wife" to "partner A" and "partner B" and ordered Justices of the Peace and Town Clerks to solemnize and perform same sex marriage ceremonies or resign (which one did). Romney did this without an accompanying legal statute and in doing so violated his sworn oath to uphold and enforce the Constitution and the laws and statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

That being said, while it was Romney, not the court, who was solely responsible for installing "same sex marriage," the certificates that Romney issued (over 150 of them he personally issued) are not worth the paper they are written on because they lack an accompanying enabling statute that recognizes "same sex marriage" and are therefore, according to the Massachusetts Constitution, null and void. The truth is that according to the highest law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Constitution, "same sex marriage" is not "legal."

Nor is "same sex marriage" "legal" in California. The citizens in California approved a voter initiative to define marriage as between one man and one woman in 2000. The judiciary lacks the requisite constitutional authority to overturn any statute passed by the voters. Only the voters themselves can reverse a statute they themselves voted in. While the court is free to interpret the constitution of California and issue opinions, they are not authorized to "strike down" any specific statutes. It is vital that you acknowledge that "same sex marriage" is not legal in California either or prove that it is. Neither the people nor their elected representatives voted to amend or suspend the current marriage statute that doesn't allow for "same sex marriage." Until they do, it remains illegal.

You have an solemn obligation to acknowledge these facts and run a retraction for your readers. Anything less is journalistic and legal malpractice. Looking forward to seeing if you choose to run this letter.

From: Gregg Jackson, Los Angeles, CA (Author of "Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies" and co-host of "Pundit Review Radio" on WRKO in Boston)


The socialists have criminalized ordinary Britons

Post below recycled from Prof. Brignell. See the original for links

The UK Labour Party is reeling under the four hundred blows inflicted by the local elections. They cannot understand why they are so unpopular. The Englishman has saved us the trouble of finding the links to stories in just one edition of the Telegraph. In each case petty officials, members of Gordon’s army of wage parasites who are dragging down the economy, have burdened ordinary citizens, guilty of no more than inadvertence, with a criminal record. As we remarked about a similar bunch of cases last month, all this has to be taken in the context of an increasingly violent and out-of-control society. Like the smoking ban it is the irrelevance that is so striking.

A number of regular correspondents have taken note of the appointment of “Our Boris” as Mayor of London. While it is no doubt a relief to be rid of Red Ken, it seems a waste of talent to put such a man in such a job. Nevertheless, since he has made his priority the elimination of the casual acceptance of the petty crime that fosters the more serious manifestations, the overall outcome might be beneficial.

In our village there is now a section of yellow line on the main road. It seems to have no purpose other than to provide a form of taxation income for the district council thirty miles away, but it has other effects. Against their will, locals are forced to go to out of town supermarkets that have free parking. The shops are gradually disappearing (the hardware shop went last month) and the bank has just gone part time. Businesses that were sources of employment are also vanishing, yet there is a stealth development plan to double the amount of housing, but not of facilities. Almost anyone you speak to has experienced some form of extortion or coercion by officialdom, but try to get a policeman in the event of a genuine crime.

We find ourselves obliged to live under a system of surveillance more rigorous than at any time or place since the fall of the Stasi, with more CCTV cameras per head of the population than anywhere else in the world. The local elections are largely an irrelevance, as elected representatives have little say (or even knowledge) of what is going on. EU officials talk to Whitehall officials who talk to local officials.

Meanwhile, more and more inoffensive citizens find themselves listed as registered criminals, while the real criminals go about their nefarious business with comparative impunity. It is no joke finding yourself with a criminal record, as the headmaster who forgot to renew his fishing licence discovered. A feature of recent ubiquitous advertising has been the “we know where you live” threats about the BBC tax. The authorities boast of a database with 28 million addresses. Your bending author was once wont resolutely to defend the licence fee, but no more. In the old days it gave relatively cheap access to eminently trustworthy news, quality drama uninterrupted by advertisements, first class comedy and much edifying content.

Now it is a continuum of banal prole circuses (unrelieved even by the occasional football match) punctuated by bouts of lefty-greeny propaganda posing as news, i.e. it is the central pillar of the new establishment. It is naked extortion, like Mafia insurance, pay up or you’re on the list – we know where you live. They cannot even bully with subtlety, but in an authoritarian society why bother? Three billion pounds of income per annum, greater than the GDP of, say, Nicaragua, yet they claim they cannot manage. Why? Officials! Like its host country, of which it is a microcosm, the BBC is sinking under the weight of overweening administration.

If the wealth creating part of any enterprise shrinks continuously, while the wealth dissipating part grows relentlessly, there can be only one eventual outcome. It is not, as the ghastly cliché says, rocket science. Meanwhile, the powers that be withdraw into a fantasy world of imagined crimes attracting draconian fines to fund their excesses, while the rank undergrowth of society flourishes. The habitually law abiding portion of the population finds itself increasingly criminalised, while the habitual criminals go about their business untrammelled.

Foolish talk of Israel disappearing

By Barry Rubin

Exaggerations of Israel's demise are greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain. The question is: why is this suddenly happening now and--even more important--what is the impact of this fad going to be? The answer to the second question is very surprising so keep reading.

The suddenness of this trend is illustrated by a telling anecdote. Two years ago, a young senator named Barrack Obama went on a trip to Israel with a group. In his reactions at the time, Obama said that Israel was so strong that it could easily make big concessions for peace. Now, in his recent interview with Atlantic magazine doomsayer-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama said the exact opposite: Israel may disappear unless it makes big concessions for peace.

First, one common thread is this: it is the latest trick for pretending that Israel should take big risks and make large concessions without getting much in return. Remember, there was the Oslo peace process which included the return of Fatah to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, its arming and supply with hundreds of millions of dollars plus Israel's offer to return the Golan Heights to Syria; the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, the pullout from the Gaza Strip.

Given this experience, someone might conclude that concessions didn't work and that the Palestinians and Syria were not ready for peace. But such a conclusion is not permissible for those wedded to certain notions. Instead, they say: ignore all that because no matter how high the price you must make concessions and take risks in order to survive. Is this obvious nonsense? Yes. But obvious nonsense backed by the New York Times and McClain's in Canada, etc., drowns out the point that it is obvious nonsense.

Second, of course, this expresses wishful thinking. A lot of people want Israel to disappear and thus feel good in asserting it is going to happen. The line in "pro-Palestinian" circles in the West seems to be that it doesn't matter that they lose all the confrontations, that their state-building effort has collapsed, and that the movement is more split than at any time in the last forty years. More important, they say, they now have control of the narrative. That and a few bucks will get you a cup of coffee.

There are also some ideological reasons on the left, or what passes for it nowadays, that have invested heavily in the idea of Israel disappearing. One is that nationalism is obsolete. This is clearly absurd. It might be disappearing in Western Europe--I mean European nationalism, not that of the new immigrants--yet it is not a generalized global phenomenon. Quite the opposite.[1] But the people who think this way want nationalism to die in their own countries very badly and detest those who have pride in their heritage.

Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of such intellectuals are Jews. To have Israel as daily disproof of their thesis is particularly humiliating to them. Who cares about the lives of millions of Israelis, for them it is like a teetotaler with an alcoholic cousin, or a racist with an African-American one.

There is also something here involving their own definition of Jewishness. Many have nothing to do with their background except when using it to denounce Israel (or exalt past Jewish suffering or great revolutionary "heroes" to magnify themselves). They have never understood Zionism and, despite their self-proclaimed humanitarian credentials, could not care less about the fate of Israelis.

Finally, there is the most interesting and new aspect of the Israel-is-dead movement, what it tells about the politics of the new-new left and the many people its ideas have influenced. It is also closely related to the let's-kill-Western-civilization movement, too. Here are its mantras:

* If anyone is your enemy you have failed and cannot win. This is because all conflicts are bad and nothing can be gained from war.

* If people are fighting against you, especially if they are "Third World," non-Christian, and have an ideology, you cannot win. This is because nothing is worth fighting or dying for and no one would be carrying a gun if they could be drinking a latt‚ instead. These people are the living embodiment of the negative radical Islamist stereotype of the West, effete cowards. It is, however, worth noting that the Nazis and Communists thought the same thing and were shown to be dead wrong.

* As a result of this thinking, though, the crowning argument is: If the other side won't give in, you must surrender.

Maybe that's another reason why Israel irritates them so much, just as ideologues in past centuries hated the Jews: it defies their ideological system.

Briefly, let me suggest that on the list of countries and societies unlikely to survive, Israel is at the bottom, not top, of the ratings. Take any Middle Eastern state and it is riven with problems: inept governments, stalled development, massive population growth, bitter rivalries. You want to put your money on the future of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Egypt?

Israel is the state and society in the region most likely to survive over the next century.

And what about Europe? Aside from the EU's project of dissolving away those countries, plummeting birth rates, loss of self-confidence, and rapidly rising immigrant populations do not make their futures look bright. Sweden, Norway, and Holland are all well on the way to the cliff edge. One after another, European countries will be passing Israel in their proportion of Muslim population. If we speak of urban areas, those with the greatest cultural and political influence, they are already doing so.

Even if you attribute nothing but good and moderate intentions to the immigrants, if they don't integrate into the existing society then they are going to transform it to the extent that countries like Britain, France, or the Netherlands as we have always known them could be said to have disappeared.

Remember also that Israel's enemies are overwhelmingly outside its borders; the opposite is true for the Middle Eastern and European states. And it's easier for a coherent society to survive an external threat than a disintegrating one to weather an internal challenge. The bookies better set Israel's odds as better than the rest or they are going to lose a lot of money.

You might remember that I promised at the start of this article to surprise you with the conclusion. So here it is?

What effect does all this talk about Israel disappearing have? Simple. It assures radical Islamists and radical Arab nationalists that they will win. Thus it encourages Arabs, and especially Palestinians, to keep fighting rather than to make peace and act moderately or constructively.

It promotes terrorism, recruitment to terrorist groups, violence against moderates, and dictatorships. After all, if victory is in sight why stop fighting? If triumph is possible than it follows logically that anyone who wants to make peace is a traitor who should be killed.

While the authors of the Israel-is-dead movement enjoy career benefits and feel good, thousands of Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians will die as a result of what they are writing. Israelis will die, too, but not enough to make their predictions come true. Any possibility for peace will be set back for many years; any hope of a better life for the Arabs themselves will be postponed until after the predicted apocalypse.


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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pretzel Logic Behind Homosexual Marriage

The law was just a plaything to California's Supreme Court, and the justices twisted logic into a pretzel as they legalized same-sex marriage by judicial fiat. The court also exposed the danger created by wishy-washy lawmakers who push "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" as a supposed middle-ground compromise. That actually is a deadly policy of appeasement. It was the very existence of such laws that the justices used to justify this outrageous decision.

By trying to appease homosexual rights activists, those who have refused to stand up for traditional marriage helped to create this court ruling. They are the Neville Chamberlains of the cultural wars. In essence, California's highest court yesterday decreed that society cannot have a "separate but equal" matchmaking plan for same-sex couples. The moment California or any other state adopts civil unions, this decision makes clear, it's on the slippery slope that makes same-sex marriage inevitable.

This ruling also further disenfranchises citizens and voters. The court not only usurped legislative power, it ignored the clear will of the 61 percent of California voters who in 2000 placed into law this language: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

A lone justice, Marvin Baxter, wrote a clear dissent describing how radical the ruling is and what he called the "legal jujitsu" used by the majority to rationalize its decision. Two other justices dissented, but not as forcefully as Justice Baxter.

The high court ruled that the existence of a "domestic partners" statute compelled it to overturn California's marriage law and permit same-sex marriages. Otherwise, the court said, it would be a denial of equal protection if same-sex couples could get advantages similar to marriage but not actually be married as opposite-sex couples can. The lesson? Lawmakers across the country who have promoted domestic partnerships as a compromise now are exposed as enablers of the full same-sex marriage agenda. They should be held accountable accordingly. And places that have adopted such civil union laws should repeal them right away, lest they invite a blitzkrieg of more court decisions from activist judges, mimicking the California edict.

As the majority wrote for California's Supreme Court: "California . . . in recent years has enacted comprehensive domestic partnership legislation under which a same-sex couple may enter into a legal relationship that affords the couple virtually all of the same substantive legal benefits and privileges, and imposes upon the couple virtually all of the same legal obligations and duties, that California law affords to and imposes upon a married couple.

"Accordingly, the legal issue we must resolve is not whether it would be constitutionally permissible under the California Constitution for the state to limit marriage only to opposite-sex couples while denying same-sex couples any opportunity to enter into an official relationship with all or virtually all of the same substantive attributes, but rather whether our state Constitution prohibits the state from establishing a statutory scheme in which both opposite-sex and same-sex couples are granted the right to enter into an officially recognized family relationship . . . but under which the union of an opposite-sex couple is officially designated a `marriage' whereas the union of a same-sex couple is officially designated a `domestic partnership.'"

But Justice Baxter correctly noted that California's high court made a three-way power shift that violates American principles of constitutional law: It usurped the state legislature's authority to make laws, violating separation of powers. It usurped the people's authority to make laws via initiative and referendum. Because the state constitution prohibits legislators from repealing laws passed by popular vote, the court gave the lawmakers a new power to repeal such laws indirectly.

Justice Baxter said it well. He wrote in his dissent: "Nothing in our Constitution, express or implicit, compels the majority's startling conclusion that the age-old understanding of marriage - an understanding recently confirmed by an initiative law - is no longer valid. "California statutes already recognize same-sex unions and grant them all the substantive legal rights this state can bestow. If there is to be a further sea change in the social and legal understanding of marriage itself, that evolution should occur by similar democratic means. The majority forecloses this ordinary democratic process, and, in doing so, oversteps its authority.

"The majority's mode of analysis is particularly troubling. The majority relies heavily on the Legislature's adoption of progressive civil rights protections for gays and lesbians to find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. "In effect, the majority gives the Legislature indirectly power that body does not directly possess to amend the Constitution and repeal an initiative statute. But a bare majority of this court, not satisfied with the pace of democratic change, now abruptly forestalls that process and substitutes, by judicial fiat, its own social policy views for those expressed by the People themselves.

"Undeterred by the strong weight of state and federal law and authority, the majority invents a new constitutional right, immune from the ordinary process of legislative consideration. The majority finds that our Constitution suddenly demands no less than a permanent redefinition of marriage, regardless of the popular will. "In doing so, the majority holds, in effect, that the Legislature has done indirectly what the Constitution prohibits it from doing directly. Under article II, section 10, subdivision (c), that body cannot unilaterally repeal an initiative statute . . . Yet the majority suggests that, by enacting other statutes which do provide substantial rights to gays and lesbians - including domestic partnership rights which, under [Family Code] section 308.5, the Legislature could not call `marriage' - the Legislature has given `explicit official recognition' (maj. opn., ante, at pp. 68, 69) to a California right of equal treatment which, because it includes the right to marry, thereby invalidates section 308.5.

"I cannot join this exercise in legal jujitsu, by which the Legislature's own weight is used against it to create a constitutional right from whole cloth, defeat the People's will, and invalidate a statute otherwise immune from legislative interference."

California's high court noted that other states are looking at this equal-protection argument as a basis for moving all the way to full-blown same-sex marriage in places where civil unions or domestic partnerships have been established.

Those who support traditional values - and an orderly democratic process that lets the people and their elected officials make decisions about marriage - should recognize the dangers inherent in this California decision. Any law that mimics marriage by another name needs re-examining and probably repeal as well, lest it become full-blown same-sex marriage. California voters probably will vote this fall on changing their statutory marriage protection into stronger constitutional protection.

Voters there and in other states would be wise to elevate this matter into an election issue in every other state as well, because it is elected officials who created this opportunity for wayward judicial activism by trying to placate a radical agenda rather than standing up against it.. Those elected officials should not be permitted now to blame it all on the judges, wringing their hands and trying to deny their complicity. It's time to hold accountable those lawmakers who have opened the door for this court ruling by trying to appease homosexual rights activists with laws that allow civil unions. You cannot have peace at any price with those who seek to conquer and vanquish our values.


Hollywood, not American Foreign Policy, Causes Terrorism

Well, nothing is that simple. But look at America from a foreigner's perspective, whose only view is through Hollywood's television and movie productions:

Our government isn't a Democracy, but a malevolent cabal with no respect for its own people or the rest of the world. We don't fight wars for principles or defense, we fight them to steal natural resources or just out of meanness or prejudice. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have magical powers and use them to invade privacies, imprison people on the flimsiest excuse, and torture on a whim - the more innocent the "victim", the more torture.

Our industries exploit people, who only imagine the jobs they voluntarily take are anything better than slavery. Our religious leaders are venal hypocrites, either thieves or child molesters. Our society is rampant with racism and downtrodden poor. People are dying for lack of health care. Our economy is pathetic.

Our protagonists are sexually promiscuous and have broken families.They worry about inconsequential things, are greedy and materialistic, obsessed with the latest fashions and toys. Many kinds of sexual deviance are accepted, even glorified. People with morals are uptight bigots with their own dirty secrets.

Is it any wonder that so many foreigners have such a negative opinion of us?

In the old days of the USSR, their propaganda machines were unable to paint as negative a portrait of America as can today's Hollywood. Oh, and by the way, 60% of movie revenue comes from foreign sales. Hollywood has a money incentive to make anti-American movies. They are selling us out, for profit and for their own un-American values.


Australia: Publicity forces Anglicans to stand down pedophile priest

The rectum of the church, Trevor Bulled, is still there, though -- even though he has a conviction for indecent behaviour. Sexual perversion is so popular among the clergy of the offshoots of the Church of England that they have to be dragged kicking and screaming to do anything about it

A CONVICTED pedophile priest found singing in a church choir with children three months after he was released from jail has been directed to stand down by his diocese. The move is a backflip by the Anglican Church, which stood behind a decision earlier in the year to allow Robert Francis Sharwood to sing with children in the Holy Trinity Church choir at Fortitude Valley. Sharwood was jailed for 12 months in November 2006 after being found guilty of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy in Brisbane more than 30 years ago.

The Courier-Mail revealed in February he was singing alongside children in his parish's choir with the permission of the congregation - although some parents were unaware of the priest's past. In March, Brisbane's Anglican Dean Bishop John Parkes told The Courier-Mail pedophile priests could not be stopped from interacting with children as part of the congregation, nor from participating in church duties open to any lay person - such as singing in a choir, Bible readings or being part of the cleaning roster.

But an Anglican Church spokesman said the Brisbane diocese had now altered that stance. "We have instructed that he not be in the choir and we believe that is the case," the spokesman said. He said the church had also signed off on a pedophile reintegration program that was the centre of a six-month dispute between Holy Trinity and its professional standards board.

Holy Trinity's rector, Trevor Bulled, who was convicted for indecent behaviour at a public toilet about 20 years ago, had said in January the program was "unworkable and oppressive". Father Bulled also questioned the need for a rehabilitation program for Sharwood.

The Anglican spokesman said it had taken "some time" to get Holy Trinity to approve the reintegration program. "We have been in discussion, obviously, since that time and a number of parishioners have agreed to take part in the monitoring," the spokesman said.

Sharwood is at present appealing a recommendation by the Brisbane diocese's professional standards board to strip him of his holy orders. While he has been unable to practise as a priest since being convicted of sexually abusing a child, he has not had the title of priest taken from him.

The Anglican Church, dogged by controversy over the case, is now looking at new provisions that would see pedophile priests defrocked immediately after being convicted of child-sex offences. At present, Anglican priests charged with child sex offences are immediately stood down from their position and their licence suspended to stop them from performing ministerial duties.


Australia: Stupid "non-discriminatory" police recruitment attacked

Cops call for more brawn on the beat

"Physically challenged" police are putting themselves and their colleagues at greater risk of assault, say some officers. A number of police have even called for height and weight restrictions to be re-introduced to the Queensland Police Service to improve the physical presence of officers on the beat. Prior to the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption, officers were required to be at least 172cm tall with a minimum weight of 65kg. In late 1990 those restrictions were abolished, although police were still required to pass a physical competency test.

The test was eased in 1993 because of the high failure rate of female recruits and in 1998 a review recommended the physical competency test be phased out in favour of a health-screening process. As a result, Queensland now has the least demanding physical fitness requirements of any Australian state, with applicants required only to run 2.4km in under 12 minutes and swim an un-timed 100m clothed.

Police sources told The Courier Mail that the decline in physical fitness and height requirements was contributing to the high rate of assaults on police. "Coppers are no longer physically intimidating and if you get into any strife you cannot necessarily count on your partner to help you out if they're five foot nothing and 45kg," an officer said.

Ex-Police Union president John O'Gorman, who once called for a review of the abandoned height and weight restrictions, said the size of police was no longer as important. "The introduction of capsicum spray and Tasers means police don't have to rely as much on sheer physical force in a brawl situation," he said. He said the main reason police were increasingly victims of assault was because they were reluctant to use force given the legal consequences.

In one of the worst cases of assault last year, Logan Constable Grant Sampson had a bottle smashed over his head after being called to an out-of-control party at Alberton, near Beenleigh. Constable Matt Burchard carried his unconscious partner to the safety of a garden shed which partygoers pelted with bottles as the officer called for back-up. Police said: "It was not worth thinking about" what could have happened to Constable Sampson if his partner had been unable to get him to a safe place.

Queensland Police Union president Cameron Pope said he supported the recruitment criteria. "It's been shown to me innumerable times it's not the dog in the fight, it's the fight in the dog," he said. A Queensland Police Service spokesman said there was absolutely no evidence suggesting the size of officers had anything to do with assaults. "A very small percentage of interaction with the general public results in physical confrontation," he said. "The QPS expends considerable energy training recruits in communication and non-violent dispute resolution techniques."



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, May 19, 2008

Gaza says it all

It's an icon of the failure to achieve peace in the Middle East

The Gaza Strip probably receives more media attention per square metre than any other slice of land in the world. Journalists abound in this overcrowded territory with its underemployed population. Hence our media are full of reports from generally biased reporters who know that if they ever did present a more pro-Israel position their ability to function, if not their lives, would be in acute danger. What is seldom revealed to the general public is the often unethical closeness between Palestinian spokespeople and foreign correspondents. Anyone who has spent any time covering the region knows of the private abuse thrown at Israelis by reporters who are supposed to have open minds.

One prominent BBC reporter openly wept when Yasser Arafat died and a British documentary maker was recorded on camera ordering someone out of her room because he was Israeli and then demanding to know if another man was Jewish.

Attacking Israel is seen as a way to attack the United States indirectly and as so many media types are anti-American it falls nicely into place. Mingle this with a degree of latent anti-Semitism -- some people still prefer Jews as cringing victims rather than as mighty warriors -- and you have the press corps in Israel and Palestine.

And in Gaza. Which is an icon of the failure of peace as Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary. The country is stronger and wealthier than ever before, but peace is just as unlikely. Gaza says it all. Israel occupied it when it dared to win a war with Arab neighbours dedicated to wiping the Jewish state off the map. It wanted to hand it back to Egypt, but Cairo wanted no part of it. They still don't.

Even so, Israel withdrew. It was painful, risky and divisive. Only a fool would believe that they did this because they cared about the Palestinians. They did it because they hoped it might lead to peace. However, instead of viewing this as a gesture of goodwill, Hamas saw it as weakness and stepped up its military campaign. Israel left an entire economic infrastructure, much to the chagrin of more hawkish Israelis. It was smashed apart by the Palestinians within hours. Within days the shower of rockets began to descend on Jewish civilians living close to the border, in towns that had never been Arab and had been built from nothing by Jewish labour.

Since then legions of women, children and families have lived in shelters. This, the Israelis are being told, is what happens if you return land. Gaza itself is hellish. But it has been given billions of dollars in foreign aid and the money is still being pumped in. Tragically, it goes to buy guns, rockets and explosives rather than food, oil and books. As a consequence Israel has tightened the border to protect its citizens. It is then accused by the media and its enemies abroad -- often dictators and torturers -- of being cruel.


Little is said about Egypt being far stricter on its side of Gaza with its Palestinian cousins or how Hamas directly has prevented a million litres of fuel being distributed to its people.

Double standard and unfair criticism. Nothing new. Israel knows it is badly treated and knows that whatever it does, some people and groups will always hate it. Yet it still celebrates its birthday. As it should. Sixty glorious years.


Crash helmets for playgrounds??

This safety madness gets ever worse! Will we all need to wear helmets every time we get out of bed one day?

PROTECTIVE headgear for babies and the elderly could become compulsory in Queensland childcare centres and nursing homes amid brain injury fears. Australia's Brain Injury Centre is leading a push for a State Government trial of the headwear, which has been designed and manufactured by a suburban Brisbane mother. Up to 50,000 people suffer brain injuries each year in Queensland.

Researchers in the US have found infant skulls are just one-eighth the strength of an adult skull. Brain Injury Centre chief executive officer Christian King said toddlers were at the greatest risk because skulls took until at least early adolescence to strengthen.

"We want to see trials done in preschools, playgrounds and junior contact sports," Mr King said. "Queensland could lead the way." He added that 0.5 per cent of brain injury victims would remain in a vegetative state. "We need to do it. It is not going to stop it, but it is going to cushion the impact when they (toddlers) are constantly falling over."

Headgear designer Isla George recently patented her brand, Head Bumpa, and said parents, epilepsy sufferers, car accident victims and elderly dementia sufferers were using the product. "I get a lot of queries from people who want to protect their elderly parents and no one wants to wear a helmet around," she said. "It doesn't look unsociable, it looks like a head band. It's quite trendy. "If you put it on early, the kids get quite used to it and it becomes like putting on a hat." The Albany Creek part-time shop assistant said she was making up to 500 Bumpas a year, but was in talks with a baby-goods manufacturer to mass-produce her invention.

Queensland Health's senior director of population health Linda Selvey has recommended that the manufacturer contact the Creche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland to explore the possibility of introducing the headgear in kindergartens across the state.


Cotton wool kids' losing basic skills

Report from Australia

Panicky parents are breeding a generation of "cotton wool kids" too afraid to climb trees or ride their bikes, NSW's most senior child guardian has warned. Mums and dads are so fixated on keeping their children safe that children are growing into nervous adults without acquiring basic survival skills along the way.

NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People Gillian Calvert has cautioned that alarm over stranger danger and traffic means that today's children are missing out on simple pleasures. "Over the past 10 years we have seen a real reduction in the range at which children can leave their family home and move freely," Ms Calvert told The Saturday Daily Telegraph. "Kids tell us they can't ride their bikes around streets any more." The simple joys of childhood such as bike riding, climbing trees and even just crossing the road are basic skills that are in danger of being entirely lost.

And doctors report that robbing kids of their freedom is pushing up rates of anxiety disorders in even the very young, while reducing play is denying children motor skills. The data were presented at a From Page 1 NSW Commission of Children and Young People and University of NSW conference.

"There are real concerns about reduced play opportunities," the university's Sports Medicine Unit director Dr Carolyn Broderick said. "Fundamental motor skills are developed through play as well as balance co-ordination and strength. And a lot of play equipment has gone from parks because of fear of litigation. "Children now have a fear that wasn't there in the past." Dr Broderick said research shows a significant drop in free play time and a quarter of parents were actually discouraging their children from playing sport because they were worried about injury.

But it is not just backyard cricket that has gone missing - research in state schools found international events such as terrorist attacks were making children feel insecure. "Some children expressed fear of global threats such as war and terrorism and had a general insecurity about their own future and their community's," Ms Calvert said. "These concerns meant they lived life in a restrictive, guarded way, either as a result of restrictions imposed by others or themselves."

Child expert Robyn Monro Miller warned fearful children would grow into fearful adults. "Even the RTA says children shouldn't cross the road by themselves until they are 10. How does the magic age of 10 mean you can cross a road?"

Sydney University's Brain and Mind Research Institute director Ian Hickie confirmed rates of anxiety in children were on the rise because of parents obsessed with keeping their child safe. "Parents think the world is more threatening and the idea is you have to protect them from the world," he said. Recent research found children as young as two were being treated for anxiety.


Political correctness deadly to Australian black kids

MORE damning evidence was presented to the Coroner's inquest into five Aboriginal deaths in Oombulgurri community, held in Kununurra last week. The allegations may well see the community closed down. Child protection agencies were racist because they were too scared to remove Aboriginal children living in squalor with their parents in case they were accused of being politically incorrect, former Federal indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough told the inquest.

Mr Brough said WA's Department of Indigenous Affairs was `deaf, dumb and blind' when it came to addressing the needs of Aboriginal communities. He said that many small remote Aboriginal communities such as Oombulgurri were not viable and should be shut down for the safety of the children living in them. Mr Brough told State Coroner Alastair Hope that circumstances in WA's remote communities were worse than in the NT, where the Howard government last year ordered intervention in a bid to tackle the crisis. "If a dog was found in a community in Perth living like children are living in the Kimberley, in many places the dog would be taken away and cared for and the carers would be charged by the RSPCA or relevant authority," Mr Brough said.

Asked if departments refused to remove Aboriginal children because of their skin colour, Mr Brough responded: "It is absolutely because they have a different skin colour. "There is no doubt that these departments are racist in their attitude, not because they hate blacks, but because they are scared to do anything about these issues because of political correctness."

Mr Brough said those opposed to closing small communities often argued it would be killing a culture but in reality many were not occupied by the traditional owners. He said many small communities of between 50 and 150 people were simply not viable because it was impossible for governments to provide the services needed to deal with the issues of intergenerational sex and alcohol abuse. "The reality is that many of these people are going to be much better served out of that community. we have to be honest if you want to save the next generation and that may well mean closing down Oombulgurri," he said.

Under questioning from State Solicitor's Office lawyer Delaney Quinlan, Mr Brough conceded he had never been to Oombulgurri, though he had told the court earlier he had visited many parts of the Kimberley, including Kalumburu.

A child protection officer, whose name has been suppressed, told the inquest the council made it difficult for staff to do their job and on the rare occasion they were given access to the community they were not allowed to stay overnight. The officer said people in the community were too scared to speak to child protection staff or told not to speak to them by certain members of the community.

Under questioning from John Hammond, the lawyer representing indigenous people, the DCP officer agreed sexual assaults had occurred in the community for more than a decade. When asked if the officer was worried about children in the community at the moment, the officer said: "Yes I'm worried in a way."



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

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

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


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Sunday, May 18, 2008

A wonderful speech

President Bush Addresses Members of the Knesset

President Peres and Mr. Prime Minister, Madam Speaker, thank very much for hosting this special session. President Beinish, Leader of the Opposition Netanyahu, Ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests: Shalom. Laura and I are thrilled to be back in Israel. We have been deeply moved by the celebrations of the past two days. And this afternoon, I am honored to stand before one of the world's great democratic assemblies and convey the wishes of the American people with these words: Yom Ha'atzmaut Sameach. (Applause.)

It is a rare privilege for the American President to speak to the Knesset. (Laughter.) Although the Prime Minister told me there is something even rarer -- to have just one person in this chamber speaking at a time. (Laughter.) My only regret is that one of Israel's greatest leaders is not here to share this moment. He is a warrior for the ages, a man of peace, a friend. The prayers of the American people are with Ariel Sharon. (Applause.)

We gather to mark a momentous occasion. Sixty years ago in Tel Aviv, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israel's independence, founded on the "natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate." What followed was more than the establishment of a new country. It was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham and Moses and David -- a homeland for the chosen people Eretz Yisrael.

Eleven minutes later, on the orders of President Harry Truman, the United States was proud to be the first nation to recognize Israel's independence. And on this landmark anniversary, America is proud to be Israel's closest ally and best friend in the world.

The alliance between our governments is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of Jeremiah: "Come let us declare in Zion the word of God." The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan. And in time, many Americans became passionate advocates for a Jewish state.

Centuries of suffering and sacrifice would pass before the dream was fulfilled. The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust -- what Elie Wiesel called "the kingdom of the night." Soulless men took away lives and broke apart families. Yet they could not take away the spirit of the Jewish people, and they could not break the promise of God. (Applause.) When news of Israel's freedom finally arrived, Golda Meir, a fearless woman raised in Wisconsin, could summon only tears. She later said: "For two thousand years we have waited for our deliverance. Now that it is here it is so great and wonderful that it surpasses human words."

The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of battle, a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land. You have welcomed immigrants from the four corners of the Earth. You have forged a free and modern society based on the love of liberty, a passion for justice, and a respect for human dignity. You have worked tirelessly for peace. You have fought valiantly for freedom.

My country's admiration for Israel does not end there. When Americans look at Israel, we see a pioneer spirit that worked an agricultural miracle and now leads a high-tech revolution. We see world-class universities and a global leader in business and innovation and the arts. We see a resource more valuable than oil or gold: the talent and determination of a free people who refuse to let any obstacle stand in the way of their destiny.

I have been fortunate to see the character of Israel up close. I have touched the Western Wall, seen the sun reflected in the Sea of Galilee, I have prayed at Yad Vashem. And earlier today, I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: "Masada shall never fall again." Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will be at your side.

This anniversary is a time to reflect on the past. It's also an opportunity to look to the future. As we go forward, our alliance will be guided by clear principles -- shared convictions rooted in moral clarity and unswayed by popularity polls or the shifting opinions of international elites. We believe in the matchless value of every man, woman, and child. So we insist that the people of Israel have the right to a decent, normal, and peaceful life, just like the citizens of every other nation. (Applause.)

We believe that democracy is the only way to ensure human rights. So we consider it a source of shame that the United Nations routinely passes more human rights resolutions against the freest democracy in the Middle East than any other nation in the world. (Applause.)

We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to a civilized society. So we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms -- whether by those who openly question Israel's right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them.

We believe that free people should strive and sacrifice for peace. So we applaud the courageous choices Israeli's leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction. (Applause.) We believe that targeting innocent lives to achieve political objectives is always and everywhere wrong. So we stand together against terror and extremism, and we will never let down our guard or lose our resolve. (Applause.)

The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is an ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.

And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the "elimination" of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant "Death to Israel, Death to America!" That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties." And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.

There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you. (Applause.)

America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapons would be an unforgivable betrayal for future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

Ultimately, to prevail in this struggle, we must offer an alternative to the ideology of the extremists by extending our vision of justice and tolerance and freedom and hope. These values are the self-evident right of all people, of all religions, in all the world because they are a gift from the Almighty God. Securing these rights is also the surest way to secure peace. Leaders who are accountable to their people will not pursue endless confrontation and bloodshed. Young people with a place in their society and a voice in their future are less likely to search for meaning in radicalism. Societies where citizens can express their conscience and worship their God will not export violence, they will be partners in peace.

The fundamental insight, that freedom yields peace, is the great lesson of the 20th century. Now our task is to apply it to the 21st. Nowhere is this work more urgent than here in the Middle East. We must stand with the reformers working to break the old patterns of tyranny and despair. We must give voice to millions of ordinary people who dream of a better life in a free society. We must confront the moral relativism that views all forms of government as equally acceptable and thereby consigns whole societies to slavery. Above all, we must have faith in our values and ourselves and confidently pursue the expansion of liberty as the path to a peaceful future.

That future will be a dramatic departure from the Middle East of today. So as we mark 60 years from Israel's founding, let us try to envision the region 60 years from now. This vision is not going to arrive easily or overnight; it will encounter violent resistance. But if we and future Presidents and future Knessets maintain our resolve and have faith in our ideals, here is the Middle East that we can see:

Israel will be celebrating the 120th anniversary as one of the world's great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserved -- a democratic state that is governed by law, and respects human rights, and rejects terror. From Cairo to Riyadh to Baghdad and Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, with today's oppression a distant memory and where people are free to speak their minds and develop their God-given talents. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause.

Overall, the Middle East will be characterized by a new period of tolerance and integration. And this doesn't mean that Israel and its neighbors will be best of friends. But when leaders across the region answer to their people, they will focus their energies on schools and jobs, not on rocket attacks and suicide bombings. With this change, Israel will open a new hopeful chapter in which its people can live a normal life, and the dream of Herzl and the founders of 1948 can be fully and finally realized.

This is a bold vision, and some will say it can never be achieved. But think about what we have witnessed in our own time. When Europe was destroying itself through total war and genocide, it was difficult to envision a continent that six decades later would be free and at peace. When Japanese pilots were flying suicide missions into American battleships, it seemed impossible that six decades later Japan would be a democracy, a lynchpin of security in Asia, and one of America's closest friends. And when waves of refugees arrived here in the desert with nothing, surrounded by hostile armies, it was almost unimaginable that Israel would grow into one of the freest and most successful nations on the earth.

Yet each one of these transformations took place. And a future of transformation is possible in the Middle East, so long as a new generation of leaders has the courage to defeat the enemies of freedom, to make the hard choices necessary for peace, and stand firm on the solid rock of universal values.

Sixty years ago, on the eve of Israel's independence, the last British soldiers departing Jerusalem stopped at a building in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. An officer knocked on the door and met a senior rabbi. The officer presented him with a short iron bar -- the key to the Zion Gate -- and said it was the first time in 18 centuries that a key to the gates of Jerusalem had belonged to a Jew. His hands trembling, the rabbi offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God, "Who had granted us life and permitted us to reach this day." Then he turned to the officer, and uttered the words Jews had awaited for so long: "I accept this key in the name of my people."

Over the past six decades, the Jewish people have established a state that would make that humble rabbi proud. You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on the United States of America to be at your side. God bless. (Applause.)


A comment from Newsbusters:

Thursday May 15, 2008, American media hit a new low. To paraphrase Michelle Obama, I have never been less proud of my country.

On the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary, President George W. Bush gave one of the greatest speeches of his career. Yet, America's media could only see this event through the tiny prism of the upcoming presidential election, and thereby totally ignored virtually everything that was said by the most powerful man in the world to one of our nation's greatest allies.

From a speech that lasted over 20 minutes -- interrupted eight times by applause from Israeli Knesset members -- America's media exclusively reported 83 words they felt insulted the candidate for president they have been unashamedly supporting for over a year.

Everything else in the President's stirring and emotional address went completely ignored, so much so that the other 2,400 words were totally irrelevant, as was the signficance of the day and the moment.


Ontario Forces Taxpayers to Pay for "Sex-Change" Operations

Ontario's health insurance plan will pay for "sex-change" operations for the first time in a decade, Health Minister George Smitherman confirmed yesterday. "(It would) probably affect between eight and 10 people in Ontario, who after having very, very sustained psychological evaluations would be deemed by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health as appropriate candidates to receive a surgical intervention," Smitherman speculated.

Ontario began covering the bill for "sex-change" operations in 1971, but ceased doing so in 1998 under the Progressive Conservative government. In 2006, the Ontario Human Rights Commission required compensation for three patients midway through preparation for sex-change surgery during the 1998 insurance plan change. The Centre Metropolitain de Chirurgie Plastique, a private hospital in Montreal, has already been offering "sex-change" procedures to patients for $17 thousand.

The Health Minister added yesterday that he would give more details about funding for "sex-change" operations in a few weeks when discussing funding plans for the province's health-care services. Smitherman, appointed Health Minister in 2003 by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, is an openly active homosexual, infamous for advancing sexually permissive social policies.

While many psychiatrists have promoted "sex-change" operations based upon the notion that "gender" is a cultural construct distinct from one's genetically determined sex, other prominent psychiatrists have rejected the prudence of so-called "sex-change" operations. After he became Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins University, Paul McHugh found that "sex-change" operations failed to solve patients' difficulties with relationships, work, or emotions. In his First Things article, "Surgical Sex," McHugh recounts finding the "transgendered" participants in "sex-change" operations unpersuasive evidence for the surgery's effectiveness.

"The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing; they spoke about how they found themselves able to give vent to their natural inclinations for peace, domesticity, and gentleness--but their large hands, prominent Adam's apples, and thick facial features were incongruous (and would become more so as they aged)." "Women psychiatrists whom I sent to talk with them would intuitively see through the disguise and the exaggerated postures. `Gals know gals,' one said to me, `and that's a guy.'"

Following his extensive research into the "sex-change" phenomena, McHugh ended "sex-change" operations at John Hopkins and has encouraged other facilities to do the same. "I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia."


Quebec Mayor Vows to Continue Prayer Despite Human Rights Commission Order

Yesterday it was reported that the city of Saguenay, Quebec, has been ordered by the Quebec Human Rights Commission to cease offering prayers at city hall. Today, however, the city's mayor has responded defiantly saying that the prayers would remain a part of the town meetings. He said the decision of the Commission was non-binding and added that the decision was itself discriminatory against people who want to pray. "They think this contravenes human rights, I agree ... some 20 people around the table want to pray and to prevent them from doing so would infringe on their rights," Mr. Tremblay said.

The Mayor told the media that the two people who lodged the complaints rarely attended the meetings and were opponents on a number of issues besides prayer. "I don't know why we would stop. Prayers are what we have that's most precious. To subject ourselves to the whim of some people, very few of them, just two ... is to kneel down rapidly, and we don't have the intention to stop," he said.

Sylvestre admitted that the decision cannot force a ban on prayers, but said that it does leave the complainants with the option of bringing the matter before the tribunal. In the current system of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunals, the costs of the complainant are entirely paid for by the state, while the plaintiff must pay his own costs.

Critics have charged that this has led to the HRC being used as a weapon with which lobbyists and individuals can bring frivolous nuisance suits against ideological opponents that would otherwise not be heard in the legitimate courts - all free of charge. Many have pointed out that because the plaintiff, often an individual without large financial resources, must pay his own costs, that the system is set up to make the commission's process itself the punishment, long before any decision is rendered. Costs can run into the tens of thousands.

This week, a Toronto restaurant owner conceded defeat in a case brought against him because he was unable to foot what would likely have been a $60,000 legal bill. The complainant said that the restaurant owner had asked him to stop smoking his "medical" marijuana in the restaurant's doorway and that this had offended him.

Tremblay told the National Post that he hoped the complainants would not carry on to the Tribunal. "But if they do, I'll show up," he said. One of the complainants, Christian Joncas, threatened that if the next town council meeting opened with a prayer, he would take the matter to court.

Mayor Tremblay is an outspoken defender of Quebec's traditional Catholic Christian heritage. In 2007, he denounced Quebec's landslide of secularism since the 1960s and told a government commission that Quebec must revive moral values and needs to retain its Catholic heritage. "The Catholic religion is one of the most beautiful values we have in Quebec," he said. He spoke out then against the eagerness of officials to abandon Christian tradition on the complaints of a few. "We're a bit soft. When someone, who represents three per cent of the population, wishes to do something, everyone bends over backwards," Tremblay told the commission. "But when the Mayor wishes to have prayer, we tell him to stop in order to respect the principle of secularism!"


Seasonal food only? Sod off, Gordon

Toilet-mouthed British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has suggested we should only eat food `in season'. That would mean letting Nature tell us what to do

`Chefs should be fined if they haven't got ingredients in season on their menu. I don't want to see asparagus in the middle of December, I don't want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March.' Gordon Ramsay, the world's sweariest chef, believes we should be eating local, seasonal food. What the f*ck?

`I want to see it homegrown. There should be stringent laws, fines and licensing laws to make sure produce is only used in season. If we get this legislation pushed through parliament then the more unique this country will become', added Ramsay, suggesting that we should be concerned with creating a distinctive national food culture and cutting down on food miles (1).

There have been plenty of people lining up to point out the hypocrisy of Ramsay's position. Food critic Jay Rayner, writing in the Observer, was reduced to nausea: `His declaration. that chefs who use ingredients that are neither local nor seasonal ought to be fined did make the bile rise. This is a man who operates a restaurant in Dubai, for God's sake, where absolutely nothing is local or seasonal. Everything arrives there from somewhere else, according to whatever season happens to be in progress in whichever hemisphere happens to be the most convenient at the time.' (2)

Even in his London restaurants, there are plenty of ingredients on Ramsay's menus that are far from seasonal and local. TV chef Anthony Worrall Thompson told the Telegraph: `I trawled through his menus from Claridges and Maze and there were at least 15 items that would have warranted a fine.' (3)

Strangely, while there were plenty of people willing to point out Ramsay's hypocrisy or question the practicality of criminalising the importation of food when the UK cannot grow enough food to meet its needs, most commentators seemed to think Ramsay had a point. His co-presenter on Channel 4's The F-Word, and fellow member of the rent-a-gob union, Janet Street-Porter, was quick to defend Ramsay from his critics: `He has a point, only slightly undermined by his driving a gas-guzzling vehicle and spending most of his time jetting around the globe to oversee his rapidly expanding restaurant empire. Eating out should mean we have a chance to enjoy great food created with local produce, rather than fish, meat and exotic veg flown in from the other side of the planet.' (4)

The fact that such an approach to `strawberries from Kenya' might have a negative impact on producers in the developing world has been widely ignored. It took Duncan Green from the charity Oxfam - an organisation with a dubious attachment to `sustainable development' - to point this out: `I'm sure the million farmers in East Africa who rely on exporting their goods to scrape a living would see Gordon Ramsay's assertions as a recipe for disaster.' (5)

This latest furore is typical of the confused discussion of food today. This was made clear to me recently during a debate I took part in at London's Real Food Festival. Ecologist publisher and Conservative Party environment adviser, Zac Goldsmith, told the gathered audience that local food was crucial - perhaps even more important for green foodies than organic food. But when a member of the audience who lived in inner-city London asked the panel how she could eat `local' food, Goldsmith was a bit stuck. It depends, said the billionaire's son, offering that `local' might mean the Caribbean if you were talking about bananas. So, `local' means anywhere within 4,500 miles?

In truth, the Real Food Festival illustrated the importance of going beyond local food for the sake of the kind of small, quirky producers so beloved of foodies and greens. While pottering around the stalls before the debate, I tried three-year-matured parmesan cheese from Italy, fruit-flavoured wine from Scotland and ready-made stews and soups from Yorkshire. One Shropshire pig farmer - sick of selling to the supermarkets for little or no profit - was selling direct to customers in London, roughly 200 miles away. Good for him - but it's hardly local, is it?

As for seasonal food, why shouldn't we aim to have all foods available to us all-year-round? In this respect, we should follow what Ramsay practises, not what we preaches. Why should we only be able to enjoy strawberries in the summer and autumn, or asparagus during the narrow northern season? Ramsay does have one slight point: sometimes this out-of-season produce isn't quite as tasty as the domestic, in-season equivalent. But that is a minor point. Far better to make these things available and allow us to choose than bow down before Mother Nature and put up with what she deigns to give us.

If eating such food has negative consequences for the planet - and it is far from clear that it does - then surely the right approach is to figure out how to get the benefits of a global food market without the negative side effects. But this problem-solving approach doesn't fit into the moralising and often authoritarian approach to consumption so typical today, exemplified by Ramsay's demand to criminalise chefs.

Even worse was Ramsay's less-reported comment about TV food goddess Delia Smith's new book, How to Cheat at Cooking. Smith has endeavoured to get as much of the benefit of made-from-scratch cooking while finding ways to cut a few corners. Trying to find a halfway house between the slog of `proper' cooking and the takeaway should have received the approval of Ramsay, who has campaigned in the past to get people cooking more. No chance. `I would expect students struggling on 15 pounds a week to survive eating from a can but the nation's favourite, all-time icon reducing us down to using frozen, canned food - it's an insult', he said (6). As I can testify from personal experience, Smith's new recipes are, by and large, excellent. Of course, Ramsay isn't going to use tinned meat in his cooking (though it is surprising how many top restaurants buy their chips from McCain's). But to seek to impose his snobbery on the rest of us really is an insult.

In the past, Ramsay was the TV chef who stood for excellence and took little interest in politically-correct concerns about food miles and sustainability. But in recent times, perhaps because he's been spending too much time in the company of campaigning cooks like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver, he's started to come out with just the same junk ideas that they promote. As the vulgar-tongued Ramsay might put it, this more-ethical-than-thou approach to food is just f*cking sh*t.



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, May 17, 2008

Queer marriage decision in CA

An email below from Maggie Gallagher [maggieiav@aol.com], President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

A divided 4-3 California Supreme Court ruled today that marriage as the union of husband and wife is unconstitutional under the California constitution. The narrow majority ruled that there is a fundamental constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and that creating civil unions as an alternative for same-sex couples amounted to a violation of the state equal protection clause.

California is the first court since Massachusetts in 2003 to rule that marriage laws constitute unconstitutional discrimination. Courts in Maryland, New York, and Washington have rejected that argument.

"California's supreme court has just ruled that the 62 percent of Californians who voted for marriage as the union of husband and wife are just bigots. But thanks to the 1.1 million Californians who signed petitions to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November, activist judges will not have the last word in California, California voters will," said Maggie Gallagher, President of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

"Most Americans understand that marriage is not bigotry. It is common sense -- unions of husband and wife have a unique status in law and culture because they really are different from other kinds of unions including in this way: they are uniquely necessary because they are the unions that both make new life and connect those children to their own mother and father," notes Gallagher.

To download a copy of the new iMAPP research brief, click here

Double standard on rights in Australia

by Andrew Bolt

OUR top human rights body is so savage on Australia that it claims we're guilty of "genocide". But when it comes to China, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission can't grovel enough. China, it claimed last week, has actually "contributed" to human rights and should not be so criticised by the West and nasty Tibetan protesters. It's doing its best.

You think I exaggerate HREOC's double standards? Then check the astonishing interview HREOC president John von Doussa gave on Chinese state television last week. Von Doussa was in Beijing for an international human rights forum, and his generous hosts couldn't have been happier when he appeared on their CCTV and trotted out their favourite lines on human rights. Run the tape:

Interviewer: The Beijing Olympic global torch relay has been disrupted by some Tibetan separatists, do you think such action complies with the international law on human rights?

Von Doussa: No, I don't ... (The right to protest) doesn't give them the right to engage in violence. And it doesn't give them the right to prevent other people from going about their lawful business and indeed expressing their particular points of view.

Pause the tape. Actually the vast majority of protesters at the rally have been peaceful and in no way breached the human rights they simply asked China to uphold. Most of the violence in the Canberra leg, in fact, seemed to come from pro-Chinese protesters organised by the Chinese embassy. And where is von Doussa's condemnation of China's refusal to let Tibetans and other human rights campaigners to express their "particular points of view" within China itself? Ah, back to the tape:

Interviewer: China has constantly been under attack by some Western media on its human rights situation. There seems to be a trend of politicising human rights and imposing Western standards to the country. Do you think this is a useful way of solving differences?

Von Doussa: No, I don't think it's useful ... the international human rights norms or standards which are being invoked are universal; they are rights to which China has contributed to ...

It has? Excuse me for butting in again but China has, on the contrary, propped up international human rights abusers - sending cash and weapons to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, propping up Burma's junta, protecting Stalinist North Korea, and blocking attempts to stop the Darfur genocide unleashed by Sudan, its oil supplier and arms buyer. But back to the tape:

Von Doussa: The West is saying, look, for example we have broad, open trials with thorough investigation of crime and so on. You should be doing the same. What that overlooks is the economic situation and the developmental stage of China ... Once you eliminate poverty well then you can move on to a situation where people can much better enjoy a much broader range of human rights.

Pardon? China is entitled to deny fair trials, free speech and a free vote until it gets richer? How rich, exactly? Disgraceful. Von Doussa has entirely bought China's excuse for totalitarianism - that there is a clash between human rights and development, and one must wait for the other.

For the living contradiction of this argument of all tyrants, von Doussa should fly home via India, China's rival, which is also pulling itself out of poverty, but without denying its people the right to speak or vote. Or he could visit free Taiwan, if he doesn't mind outraging his communist hosts. What an appalling piece of cultural relativism - and of toadying to China.

Ironically, von Doussa has just one possible defence for seeming to sell out the values he's paid to uphold - that far from China being the human rights "contributor" he claimed, it is such an enemy of free speech that it censored the criticisms he went on to make. Without such an excuse, or at least an explanation, von Doussa should quit. If he can't be as tough even on China as his commission has been on his own country, he's no friend of human rights -- and, indeed, of the taxpayers who pay his wage.

To see the von Doussa interview on CCTV, introduced by former ABC-staffer-turned-China-mouthpiece Edwin Maher, go here


Australia: Wanna bet these rapists are Muslims?

The Press is so secretive about ethnic origins that it encourages us to speculate when no details are given. There are a lot of Muslims from Africa living at Moorooka and Salisbury is an adjoining suburb. And young Muslim males do tend to move in packs.

Four men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl have been granted bail in a Brisbane court. The men - aged 30, 25, 21 and 19 - appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday after being charged yesterday with numerous sex offences. It's alleged the men took the teenage girl to a hotel room in Brisbane on May 3 and repeatedly assaulted her.

Each of the men - including two brothers - were allowed bail on condition they report to police five days a week and have no contact with the girl. The oldest, a 30-year-old man from Sherwood, has been charged with two counts of rape, four counts of indecent treatment of a child and one count of possessing child exploitation material. The 21-year-old man, also from Sherwood, faces two counts of rape, one count each of carnal knowledge of a child under 16 and possessing child exploitation material, and four counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16.

The 25-year-old man from Moorooka has been charged with one count each of rape and indecent treatment of a child under 16. The 19-year-old, also of Moorooka, faces three counts of rape, one count of carnal knowledge of a child under 16 and three counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16. The 25-year-old and the 19-year-old will face court again next month while the other men will reappear in July.


Note: I would be particularly pleased if the speculation above is incorrect, as it might go a little way towards showing our media elites that their secrecy can have the opposite effect to that intended - i.e. it might cause minorities to be unfairly blamed

Customer service in Britain: It's non-existent

I am putting this up because the reports below mirror my own experience of Britain. I think they are even worse than the Indian bureaucracy -- and that's private British firms as well as government that I am talking about. Maybe Zimbabwe is worse

Go abroad. That is the only sensible conclusion to draw from the huge online reaction to Weekend's article last month on customer service in Britain. Singapore does it better, so does Japan, so does Canada. Even the French, once fabled for their rudeness, get your approval. "In France, medical staff take pride in patient care," reported Geoff Miller. "In Britain, they are obtuse, bureaucratic, unhelpful."

India also gets the thumbs-up. "A good shopkeeper looks after his customer whether the customer buys anything or not," wrote Sridhar Rao, contrasting the care and attention shown by Indian shopkeepers selling saris with the "abominable" service at PC World.

Not that emigrating did the trick for Graham, a retired Barclays employee. To continue paying his pension, his erstwhile employer requires him to supply evidence every six months that he is still alive - an exercise that has involved him in an interminable round of ignored emails and emails that took three weeks to get a response. "Revolution!" mused Graham at his hideaway in the sun. "Now there's a thought..." Thank you for taking the trouble to name and shame the worst offenders. All the usual suspects were there, with BT and British Airways leading the field.

It was hard to know whether to feel more sorry for Dave Coomber, being shunted from one operator to another as BT tried to work out if he had a "fault" or a "technical problem" - he thought they were synonymous, poor sap - or for Nikki Brown, gearing herself up to tackle the BA customer service department about some missing luggage. When she was told that customer service would not be accepting any calls for the next four weeks because it was still clearing a backlog of complaints arising from a spell of bad weather nine months previously, her patience snapped. It would have taken "the resilience and determination of an Antarctic explorer" to beat the system.

Other organisations to incur your wrath were WH Smith in Cheshire ("the cashiers seemed to feel that acknowledging the customers except to take payment was forbidden"); Boots online, whose asinine emails reduced Sylvia Chapman to a screaming banshee; the Abbey bank ("worst ever customer service"); and a London branch of HSBC, where Emily Fleming suffered a double whammy of "rock music blaring from wall speakers" and "tellers who resembled a pair of zombies".

HSBC clearly needs to raise its game. Fred Wall, visiting his local branch, was spared the loud music, but was snookered by a super-polite branch manager who told him to "take a wee seat" while he sorted out his problem. Fred took his wee seat, while the manager, as far as he could see, did nothing.

It was the sense of "being given the runaround" - passed from unhelpful official A to unhelpful official B - that really irked Telegraph readers. Brian Simpson contacted Sterling Airlines to try to trace an item that his wife had lost on a flight from Gatwick to Stockholm. He ended up being referred to the Copenhagen police department. You have to laugh.

All Mark Roberts wanted from the Department for Work and Pensions was a simple calculation of an overpayment to his late father. That was the start of a surreal 10-month round of phone calls shuttling his inquiries from Salford to Gloucester to Dearne Valley to Stornoway to Corby and back to Stornoway.

You all had your bugbears, from automated answering systems to teenage cashiers chatting to their friends on mobile phones. For Andrew Parsons, the worst of the lot were medical receptionists - "trained by ex-KGB interrogators of General rank to look at you like you are in the gutter whilst trying to extract the information".

In fairness, even though most readers seemed to share my despair at the standard of customer service in Britain, a significant minority took the opposite view. Organisations that received bouquets for their service included Virgin Atlantic, school examination boards, the Arcade Bookshop in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire, and the staff at Sudbury Hill station.

Several of you argued that customers had to treat staff with respect, not just demand service as of feudal right. "Try working on the other side of the counter," advised Edward Westcott, "and see the snobbery, arrogance and downright rudeness that some customers display to shop workers. Think about when you are at the till on your mobile or talking to your companions behind you while you fling your credit card at the assistant. Civility works both ways." Touche. Norman, another shop worker, made a similar point. "I could write a book on the amount of abuse I have received over the years." His biggest gripe was the increasing tendency of customers to complain loud and long in the hope of getting compensation. One customer claimed that he missed his holiday flight because he had been sold a pint of milk that went off, then demanded hundreds of pounds' compensation.

One of the underlying themes of your emails, with their Kafkaesque tales of ordinary citizens entangled in red tape and bureaucracy, is the debilitating pace of modern life: too many people in too much of a hurry to find the time to smile.



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, May 16, 2008

Politicized British police apologise (and pay up) for calling mosque documentary "fake"

Trying to shoot the messenger did not work

The Crown Prosecution Service and West Midlands Police will apologise in the High Court today for wrongly accusing a Channel 4 film of faking an expose of Islamic extremism. The producers of Undercover Mosque, a Dispatches investigation that showed preachers predicting jihad and calling for the murder of non-believers, have also accepted a six-figure libel settlement.

The programme, screened last January, showed footage gathered at a number of mosques in the West Midlands using hidden cameras. It included one preacher who praised the Taleban for killing British soldiers. Another, Abu Usamah, a preacher at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, was filmed saying: “If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that is my freedom of speech isn't it?”

However, instead of pursuing a prosecution of the preachers, police and the CPS began an investigation into the producers, accusing them of selective editing and distortion. The film-makers were accused of undermining community relations. The police took the highly unusual step of referring Dispatches to Ofcom, the media watchdog.

Ofcom threw out the complaint. It found that the programme had “accurately represented the material it had gathered and dealt with the subject matter responsibly and in context”. It was a “legitimate investigation, uncovering matters of important public interest”. Each quote was “justified by the narrative of the programme and put fully in context”.

Hardcash Productions, which made the film, joined Channel 4 in a libel complaint against the police and CPS over the “distortion” claim. West Midlands Police and CPS will apologise unreservedly for comments that they accept were incorrect and unjustified. They said that there was “no evidence that the broadcaster or programme-makers had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity”.

MPs criticised the police and the CPS, which dropped any prosecution of Channel 4 because of “insufficient evidence”, for trying to censor television producers. David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “Police scrutiny of editorial decisions of a television producer is not only an inappropriate law enforcement function, it also risks deterring legitimate investigative journalism.” Don Foster, the Liberal Democrats' media spokesman, said: “What the police thought they were doing in the first place is beyond me.”

David Henshaw, the managing director of Hardcash Productions, said: “This was a detailed one-hour documentary, made over nine months and at personal risk to the undercover reporter. The abhorrent and extreme comments made by fundamentalist preachers in the film speak for themselves.” He added: “They [the preachers] later claimed they had been taken out of context — but no one has explained the correct context for arguing that women are 'born deficient', that homosexuals should be thrown off mountains, and that ten-year-old girls should be hit if they refuse to wear the hijab.”

Kevin Sutcliffe, deputy head of current affairs at Channel 4, said: “This is a total vindication of the programme team.” A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: “We have paid a sum agreed with the programme-makers into a charity of their choice.” The substantial damages will be donated to the Rory Peck Trust, which supports the families of journalists killed in the line of work. The CPS declined to comment.


Leftist denial over Iran

By Dan Mandel

LIBERALS continue to slam Sen. John McCain for his supposed misstatement, back in March, that Iran is aiding al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq. In fact, there's plenty of evidence of just that. This week, Robert Naiman at the Huffington Post accused McCain of making this "totally unsubstantiated allegation." In recent weeks, McCain's been attacked on the same ground time and again - in the pages of the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The New Republic and the British Guardian, to name a few.

McCain retracted the claim before the end of the press conference where he made it - which has lead the anti-conservative Media Matters for America to describe it as an "admittedly false claim." In fact, McCain was right the first time. Iran has helped al Qaeda, inside and outside Iraq, considerably - and still does.

Indeed, a source that Democrats generally deem unimpeachable, the 9/11 Commission, pointed to the al-Qaeda/Iran connection as dating back to at least '92. That's when Iranian representatives met with al Qaeda leaders in Sudan and agreed to help with training - later provided by Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon to an unknown number of the terrorists. And when al Qaeda relocated to Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, Iran provided transit for many of the group's operatives - including, the commission believed, eight to 10 of the 9/11 hijackers.

What of al-Qaeda-in-Iraq? The last year or so has furnished much evidence of systematic and continuous Iranian support:

January 2007: US forces in Iraq captured members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, as well as documents indicating that the Guard was collaborating with al Qaeda inside Iraq.

March 2007: Kurdish forces in northern Iraq repelled the twelfth incursion from Iranian territory that year by an al Qaeda affiliate, Ansar-al-Islam.

April 2007: US forces operating against al Qaeda in Sunni neighborhoods of Baghdad found substantial amounts of Iranian-made weaponry.

May 2007: Coalition forces in Iraq captured a courier bearing messages from al Qaeda field commanders addressed to senior al Qaeda leaders ensconced in Iran - including Osama bin Laden's son, Said.

February 2008: As the Sunni "Awakening Councils" began to show marked success in turning local Sunnis against al Qaeda, the Iraqi intelligence head and a senior advisor to the councils pointed to Iranian intelligence targeting the new US allies via car bombs, suicide bombers and other means. To camouflage their involvement in these efforts, they have fake Iraqi Shia groups claim credit for these operations.

The al Qaeda/Iran nexus isn't one of dubious meetings and unsubstantiated clues, but one of multifaceted cooperation. It makes sense for Iran to assist al Qaeda in Iraq, if only to keep the Sunni Islamists and Americans killing each other. Both al Qaeda and America are thereby distracted from other theaters of deep interest to Iran, like Pakistan.

Some insist that Iran's extremist Shia regime would never cooperate with the Sunni Islamists of al Qaeda. In fact, Tehran regularly aids Sunni terrorists - witness Iran's outpouring of arms, munitions and training to the Sunni Hamas terrorists running Gaza and to the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Courts militia in Somalia.

So why the obtuseness? A failure of imagination - and, at times, of honesty. Naturally, Democrats seek to score a point against McCain. Beyond that, however, many Americans would prefer to believe that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threats to wipe out Israel are mere noise. And few want to hear facts that argue for further US military action in the Mideast. To such people, news of Iran working hand-in-glove with al Qaeda is unwelcome; obtuseness becomes a virtue.

So expect to see more flat-earth denials of al-Qaeda/Iran co-operation from countless "experts," as well as much of the media and anyone else who opts for wishful thinking about Iran and its drive for nuclear weapons.


Democrats' pretend-conservative strategy

Republicans are constantly linking the local hayseed Democrat to national liberals like John Kerry. The technique goes back at least to Michael Dukakis in 1988.

It is beyond outrageous for liberals to complain about the practice of linking Democrats to the national party when their calculated strategy in race after race in the red states has been to run Democratic candidates who appear to be Americans. They're not Americans. They're liberals! I don't care how much hay is sticking out of their straw hats.

In the 2006 midterm elections, Sen. Chuck Schumer and erstwhile ballerina Rep. Rahm Emanuel (now there's a couple of raw-boned Americans for you!) famously rounded up yokels from the local square dance contests to run as "macho Dems" - as the Times admiringly called them. Schumer and the ballerina were hailed for their brilliant strategy to fool the hayseeds.

The phony blue-collar Democrats won their elections by driving around in pickup trucks and shooting guns, then moved to Washington and began voting against war in Iraq and in favor of taxpayer-funded abortions.

One of the Democrats' paragons of regular guy-ness that year was Jon Tester of Montana, who wore cowboy boots and had a buzz cut. The crew cut absolutely transfixed liberals in places like Manhattan. Search "Jon Tester and crew cut" on Google, and you'll get more than 200,000 hits. Even this tonsorial affectation was a liberal fake-out, inasmuch as Tester has no military service.

After campaigning throughout Montana in a pickup truck, Tester got to Washington and compiled a voting record more liberal than Chuck Schumer's, according to the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (Tester: 95 percent; Schumer: 90 percent). Tester also has a 100 percent rating from the pro-abortion group NARAL. There's your truck driving, gun-totin' Democrat.

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. was another consumer fraud perpetrated on voters in 2006 by the Democrats. Casey ran for office on the strength of his father's name and his alleged pro-life position. It was the pro-life position of his father - the popular Democratic governor of Pennsylvania - that disqualified Casey Sr. from speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1992.

Despite rumors that Schumer had assured Hillary Clinton that Casey was not really pro-life, the good people of Pennsylvania made him their senator, throwing out Rick Santorum, the kind of pro-lifer who actually opposes abortion.

In Casey's first year in office, he voted in favor of an amendment to a foreign appropriations bill introduced by the fanatically pro-abortion Barbara Boxer that overturned U.S. policy against providing taxpayer money to groups that perform abortions overseas. It also granted overseas abortion providers taxpayer money. There's a "pro-life Democrat" for you.

In elections in the patriotic parts of the country, Democrats keep producing candidates that look like they're out of a Norman Rockwell painting but vote like Karl Marx - which is to say, they vote like the typical member of the Democratic Party. Naturally, Republicans respond to this tactic by linking the local phonies to the national party. As soon as the Democrats stop running these mountebanks, Republicans will stop exposing them as lickspittles for their liberal masters in Washington.


Outrageous: Student forced to leave training because of his helper dog

Post below recycled from Fausta. See the original for links

Political correctness and dhimmitude trump the American With Disabilities Act: SCSU student leaves training at Technical High School
A St. Cloud State University student in a teacher-training program at Technical High School left the school in late April because he says he feared for the safety of his service dog. ..... [Tyler] Hurd said a student threatened to kill his service dog named Emmitt. The black lab is trained to protect Hurd when he has seizures. The seizures, which can occur weekly, are from a childhood injury. The dog has a pouch on his side that assists those who stop to help Hurd.
Who threatened to kill the dog, you may ask?
The threat came from a Somali student who is Muslim, according to Hurd, St. Cloud State and school district officials. The Muslim faith, which is the dominant faith of Somali immigrants, forbids the touching of dogs.

Hurd trained at Talahi Community School and Tech. He said his experience at Talahi was good. The Somali students there warmed to the dog and eventually petted him using paper to keep their hands off his fur, Hurd said. Things didn't go as well at Tech, Hurd said. Students there taunted his dog, and he finally felt he had to leave after he was told a student made a threat. Hurd met with Lockhart but said he did not feel comfortable continuing.
The district is clueless: their "diversity coordinator" says "I'm not quite sure where the breakdown comes into play here." Let me explain it to them, then: What the district needs to do is to tell ALL and every students that according to the law and to American values, the handicapped student has a right to do his work for which he needs his dog, unimpeded by threats coming from punks and thugs. It might also be worth training the dog to attack.


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, May 15, 2008

Australia: Black rapists of young black girl 'should be jailed'

Multiculturalists really gets themselves twisted into a knot over cases like this: Should they protect black children or black criminals? So far the criminals are winning. That everyone (black and white) should be equal before the law is just a silly old fuddy-duddy idea, of course

QUEENSLAND'S Solicitor-General has called for jail sentences ranging from one to eight years for nine males who were not sent to prison after they pleaded guilty to raping a 10-year-old girl at Aurukun, on Cape York, in 2006. The appeal against the sentence, which began in Queensland's Court of Appeal yesterday, was launched by Attorney-General Kerry Shine after the case was revealed in The Australian last year. Cairns District Court judge Sarah Bradley gave suspended sentences to three men, aged 17, 18 and 25 at the time of the rapes, and ordered that six juveniles, aged between 13 and 15, be placed on probation orders with no convictions recorded.

Mr Shine had previously described the sentences as "manifestly inadequate". Solicitor-General Walter Sofronoff, for the Attorney-General, yesterday argued there had been five "evident errors of law" in the sentencing. He said there were legal precedents that an adult who sexually assaulted a child and a juvenile who raped a 10-year-old should be imprisoned. Mr Sofronoff argued that two of the adult offenders, aged 25 and 18 at the time of the rape, should be jailed for eight years, with a parole eligibility date to be set. He said the third adult, aged 17, should be jailed for seven to eight years. He argued that the six juveniles should receive detention sentences of between one and three years.

Mr Sofronoff said Judge Bradley had not given reasons for handing down non-custodial sentences to the males and had treated all the offenders equally, despite differences in age and criminal history. He said Judge Bradley had failed to take into account the principle of general deterrence, and had placed too much emphasis on Aurukun's social dysfunction as a reason for the offenders' lack of moral standards. It was the Aurukun community's right to "have a sentence that truly deters this offence". "Members of even a dysfunctional society -- if that is what it is -- require and deserve the protection of law," Mr Sofronoff told the court.

He asked the bench -- which comprised Chief Justice Paul de Jersey, Court of Appeal president Margaret McMurdo and Justice Patrick Keane -- to choose a sentence that would assert a "fundamental standard of behaviour in Aurukun".

But Ken Fleming, senior counsel representing the offenders, told the court that his clients should not be imprisoned or detained and said the appeal should be dismissed. Mr Fleming said while the law said a child under the age of 12 was incapable of giving consent, "the complainant had sex with all (of the offenders) without objection". He suggested the "lack of objection" could influence the sentence of the offenders. There was an "uncomfortable tension that it was sex without objection and was actively encouraged" by the victim, he said.

But Chief Justice de Jersey said he had "great difficulty" in accepting that consent or lack of objection from the victim could mitigate the sentence. The suggestion from prosecutor Steve Carter that the girl had given consent to sex in a "non-legal sense" was "nonsense" and an "irrelevant consideration", Chief Justice de Jersey said.

Mr Fleming said there had been flaws in the case from the beginning. He said prosecutor Steve Carter did not ask for custodial sentences. He said the arrangements were made by telephone, with the judge in Cairns and the accused in Aurukun. Mr Fleming said the accused should not have been included in the one indictment, but conceded that while the prosecutor had suggested this, the defence had agreed to it.


Tough solutions 'ineffective' for Australian Blacks

Nice to see proof of effectiveness being demanded. The truth, of course, is that NOTHING works. It's all been tried before. But only conservatives are capable of saying that there are some problems that governments cannot solve

THERE is no proof that "tough love" solutions, including quarantining welfare payments, are effective means of halting dysfunctional behaviour in indigenous communities, according to two leading Aboriginal academics. The challenge - from high-profile University of Technology Sydney law professor Larissa Behrendt and UTS research fellow Nicole Watson - came yesterday as the Rudd Government prepared to reveal controversial plans for a national welfare card, which would enable a percentage of a family's welfare payments be tied to necessities such as food.

The new electronic ID card, which has been slammed by the Australian Council of Social Service, is to be issued to Aboriginals in selected Northern Territory communities from July, but could be rolled out Australia-wide.

Professor Behrendt and Ms Watson said yesterday that the "most crucial but neglected question of all" was the issue of proof: "Where is the proof that punitive sanctions are an effective remedy for social dysfunction?" The pair listed a litany of concerns about the new Queensland Family Responsibilities Commission, which, not unlike the Rudd Government proposal, can order, among other things, some or all of a person's welfare payments to be managed by issuing Centrelink with a notice. From July, the commission is to be trialled in Aurukun, Hope Vale, Mossman Gorge and Coen.

Premier Anna Bligh has admitted the approach - the idea of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership which is headed by Noel Pearson - is "a bold experiment - a world first". Professor Behrendt said it was a concern that decisions of the commission - which is to have closed hearings - could not be appealed, except on questions of law. The process also paved the way for a loss of control over personal information, with the commission able to access private information from a range of government agencies.

Professor Behrendt also queried the commission's exemption from the provisions of the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act. Other legal and Aboriginal advocates have also raised concerns about the commission breaching legal and human rights. ACOSS president Lin Hatfield-Dodds told ABC radio the $17 million being spent on the national ID card scheme would be better invested in services for families in need. [That response from president hyphen was predictable: "More jobs for social workers" is the translation]


"Blue dogs": Fake conservatives

The Democratic party found its way back into the congressional majority by playing on the mistakes of the GOP and by drafting more conservative candidates to take them back to power. Conservative values and beliefs aren't as unpopular as the Republican party is. This group, called the Blue Dogs, claims to be conservative. They tend to favor social conservatism, and fiscal moderation with an emphasis on reducong the deficit.

Sounds good, right? After all if the Democratic party were to take a major right turn we might actually get some things accomplished in Washington. But the problem is that they don't vote conservative, especially on the big votes. So what good is a conservative that votes like a liberal?

These blue dogs might bark and make a lot of noise but they don't have any bite. They're too loyal to the party line which is decidedly left wing. Rather than vote their principles, and therefore with the GOP occassionally, they do as their told and give Speaker Pelosi the majority she needs to keep up her political farce.

And a farce it is. She continues to exploit moderate and conservative Democrats to increase her majority, while refusing to give them any leadership role, and knowing that they won't break ranks with the leftist leadership to oppose her. It gives the illusion to the people Pelosi so despises- you know normal people in middle America and the south-that the Democratic party is tolerant of different ideas and is the big tent.

It's using candidates like this, Heath Shuler, and the recently elected Don Cazayoux in Louisiana, who tout conservative positions to push a left wing agenda. Cazayoux, who now represents the Baton Rouge area(an area the Democrats haven't won in decades) ran, like other Democrats, as pro life and pro gun. Senator Casey got elected over a real pro lifer, Rick Santorum, mostly by using the memory of his late father, but also claiming to be pro life. Where are all these pro life conservative democrats at voting time? They're voting the left wing party line.

The GOP needs to clean up its act and reclaim the conservative name. We need to remember what it means to be conservative, and we have to stop letting the Democrats drag the conservative name through the mud.


Fascism Was Anti-Religious Too

In our age of moral relativity, leaders like George W. Bush and Tony Blair have been cast as modern Adolph Hitlers-a practice which trivializes the "moral collapse" perpetuated by the Third Reich. Weekly Standard contributor David Gelernter, in contrast, is intent on magnifying these moral differences.

Claiming inspiration from T.S. Eliot's characterization of WWII as a choice between "Christianity" or "paganism," the Yale professor said at the American Enterprise Institute that "The thesis I want to investigate, one that involves such a daunting tangle of complex issues and demands so many qualifications...this thesis is that we need to study not only the holocaust and the gulag and Japanese atrocities, but this phenomenon of moral collapse as it was connected with a doctrine of state paganism."

Professor Gelernter views World War II as a faceoff between pagan state cults (Germany, Russia, and Japan) and two "Christian" nations (Britain and America). Besides Italy, Gelernter's lecture dismissed the effects of Christianity within Spain, France, and other European nations. He describes this paganism as replacing "the idea of individuals in a nation with the idea of parts or cells in a body directed by a mind that was divine or divinely ordained or otherwise superhuman and yet present on earth." He continued,

"Group assemblies with ranting, singing, or shouting in unison are invaluable to the creation of the nation of the pagan beast, because they act not as mythical but as real, tangible, amplifiers-feed in your own voice and get back a roar."

This dehumanizing trend was true in Japan as well. "The idea of all Japanese merged into the sacred being of the Emperor is reflected in the anonymity of the individual and the irrelevance or non-existence of the individual's moral judgement," he said. "And presumably this deliberate repression of their own personalities made it easier for these men to see in their victims things and not persons," he added.

Gelernter links Italy's relative restraint towards mass killings to the nation's religious heritage, because Italy "nonetheless continued to consider itself a Christian nation throughout the fascist era." And this is true for Britain and America as well. "The violent contrast between the conduct between the two Christian, or quasi-Christian, powers on the one hand and the three pagan regimes on the other grew only more striking as the war continued," he asserted.

When asked if his theory can be generalized the modern terrorist conflict, Gelernter replied "I think it is too easy to associate Islam or Fascist Islam with Fascist Germany and Stalinist Russia." He continued, "It seems to me in many cases today Islam is more a topic than a strategy and when we see the continuity of terrorist movements that began with no religious goals at all...there's no reason they shouldn't move back again." There are "similarities," he said, but other decades parallel the World War II era than the present.

However, figures such as Rick Santorum and Pepperdine University Professor Joseph Loconte continue to classify the modern jihadist movement as "Islamofascism." Indeed, Islamic radicalism seems to exhibit many of the traits contained within Gelernter's "state paganism," albeit within a post-national structure:

1. Islamic radicals are taught to perceive themselves as members of a beleaguered Umma (Muslim community) that is in conflict with-and superior to-the infidel.

2. Palestinian children, like the WWII-era Japanese, are taught from an early age that martyrdom is honorable and a sign of loyalty to their God.

3. Radical clerics and leaders like Osama bin Laden are treated as Messianic figures or, at least, speaking for God himself. "Himmler believed Hitler's words to be pronouncements from a world transcending this one," noted Gelernter.

4. Nations such as Iran hold rallies in which masses of citizens chant "Death to America" and punch their fists in unison, reminiscent of Hitler's "Zieg Heil."

Christianity or Rationalism?

In The Crooked Timber of Humanity, reknowned philosopher Isaiah Berlin traces Romanticism-and its subsequent glorification of violent irrationality-back as far as the French Revolution and regarded it as the philosophical precursor to Hitler's Nazism. It is not surprising, then, that one audience member questioned whether the difference between Britain, America, and totalitarian societies resulted from a Ciceronian respect for reason culminating in the Enlightenment.

"Um, no," Gelernter responded. "Of course the moral significance of the individual is a biblical idea, is a Jewish invention and [a] Christian invention," he argued. Gelernter urged the audience not to underestimate the "enormous significance of Christian Puritan ideas in the creation of the liberal modern American state."



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

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

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


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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Study debunks myth of job testing as race barrier

Conventional wisdom holds that the standardized tests some employers require of job applicants serve as a barrier to equal employment. But a pioneering study shows just the opposite: Screening increases employers' precision in matching applicants to jobs and can raise productivity for workers of all races--without hindering minority hiring.

"Job testing has the potential to raise productivity by improving the quality of matches between workers and firms. But because of the near-universal finding that minorities fare relatively poorly on standardized tests, there is a pervasive concern that better candidate selection comes at a cost of reduced opportunity for groups with lower average test scores," says David Autor, associate professor of economics at MIT who conducted the study with David Scarborough of Black Hills State University.

Their study, "Does Job Testing Harm Minority Workers? Evidence from Retail Establishments," was recently published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. The paper is available at http://econ-www.mit.edu/faculty/dautor/papers.html .

As part of their research, Autor and Scarborough studied hiring and job longevity among primarily high school-educated workers who were paid hourly wages for customer-service jobs in the private sector. The researchers relied on data from a national retail firm whose 1,363 stores switched from informal, paper-based screening to computer-supported, test-based screening over the course of one year. "Access to this data gave us the unique opportunity to evaluate the effects of job testing on minorities in a competitive business environment," Autor says.

Both paper- and test-based hiring methods used interviews, but the latter relies significantly on a personality test administered and scored by computer. The retailer's 100-item personality test ranked attributes such as agreeableness, conscientiousness and extroversion that are associated with success--or productivity--in customer service. "These tests basically predict how many times you're willing to say, 'May I help you with that?' and 'Have a nice day!' before you run out of patience," Autor says.

An outside firm, Unicru, scored and analyzed the tests, highlighting problem areas and completing background checks and returned them to individual store managers. Qualified applicants were then interviewed.

Consistent with previous research, minority applicants performed significantly worse on the electronic employment test. But the researchers detected no change in the racial composition of hires once electronic screening was installed. Moreover, the authors found, productivity gains were equally large among minority and majority hires.

The findings are significant, according to Autor, because the outcomes do not support the accepted belief that minorities' relatively low scores on standardized tests mean that such tests harm the job prospects of minority workers. "Initially, I was surprised. I expected the increase in productivity that followed job testing would surely come at the expense of minority hiring," Autor says.

But the test of insightful research may be that very surprise, the moment when accepted beliefs dissolve in the face of new facts. The paradox that job testing did not harm minority workers is resolved quite simply, Autor notes.

Before the computer test, the retailer informally screened for the personality traits that are measured by the test. Job testing made this screening process more systematic and precise, but research showed it did not tip the scales for or against any particular group of applicants. Consequently, the productivity gains from testing came from improved selection within applicant groups (e.g., minorities, nonminorities), not from hiring fewer minorities.

Autor is quick to note that discrimination in employment exists and that bias--arising from prior information, interviews or beliefs about a particular group--can affect equality in hiring and efficiency in the workplace even with electronic testing. For example, if job tests exacerbate an existing bias, testing just increases hiring of groups favored by the test. Then productivity stalls and neither employer nor workers profit.


What multiculturalism has done to Norway

During the nine years and two weeks that I've lived in Oslo, I've seen the city change significantly -- for the worse. I don't remember exactly when it started reminding me of New York in the 1970s and 80s, but by now the resemblance is undeniable. Burglary, rape, gay-bashing, mugging, graffiti, vandalism: you name it, we've got it in spades, and it's still on the rise. Public stabbings and gang fights have become routine.

Forget for a moment the Muslim youth gangs that are responsible for a wildly disproportionate number of the crimes here: it's now impossible to walk in broad daylight down Karl Johans Gate, the grand ceremonial thoroughfare that was once the kingdom's pride, without being accosted by aggressive gypsy beggars who want your money (they've been bussed in from Rumania specifically for this purpose) and by equally aggressive drug addicts (some of who are asking for handouts, others of whom are dealing). At night, this unsavory crew is replaced by an even pushier brigade of Nigerian prostitutes, some of whom will follow you for a block or more, repeatedly (and often belligerently) demanding that you avail yourself of their services. So insistent are they that it doesn't even help to scream: "I'm gay!" Even the pre-Giuliani Times Square area was safer and more congenial.

The statistics are dire. Last month came news that the rate of reported crimes in Oslo is now four times that of New York; last week it emerged that Oslo's rape figures reached an all-time high in 2007; today it was reported that over 99 percent of street robberies in the city go unsolved. To any unblinkered individual who lives here, these statistics are no surprise. Yet civic authorities, faced with the steady erosion of law and order, exude indifference and ineffectuality. Alas, as illustrated by the vile comments made last October to a Muslim audience in Oslo by the head of Norway's security police -- who, as recounted by Rita Karlsen, bent over backwards to praise Muslims and decouple Islam from terrorism while maligning America and depicting ordinary Norwegians as ignorant, potentially violent anti-Muslim bigots -- Norwegian cops are hobbled by the same mindless multiculturalism that infects their counterparts elsewhere in the West.

I was just about to post a link to my City Journal piece about creeping jihad when a fine example of that very phenomenon popped up on TV. On a program about the status of women today, Afshan Rafik, a (female) Muslim member of the Norwegian parliament for the Conservative Party, told TV2's interviewer that under Islam women enjoy the same rights as men.

Now, any responsible journalist, of course, should know that this is an out-and-out untruth. It's not a matter of opinion but of objective fact that a woman's testimony in a sharia court is given less weight than a man's, that a Muslim woman can't marry four husbands, etc., etc. So what did the interviewer do when Rafik made this breathtakingly untrue statement? Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. The beaming, approving smile on her face didn't waver in the slightest. And the moment passed. Nothing new here, alas: nowadays, the mainstream journalist who actually challenges such outrageous lies about Islam is a rare bird indeed.


Propaganda Runs Rampant As Iran, Islamicists And The Liberal Western Media Find Common Cause

OK, call me dense. Call me Pollyannish. Call me an optimist. I have hedged for years in calling the liberal western news media allies of the enemies of freedom and democracy. I have hinted their actions would make one wonder, but I have also given them some leeway by acknowledging that in the heat of politics one can make horrible decisions that hurt their own country and help its enemies. My example of this kind of fervent stupidity is Neville Chamberlain, who tried to appease Hitler and Nazi Germany by signing treaties that did nothing more than sanction Germany's earliest acts of conquest and give the Nazi regime time to mass one of the most destructive military forces the world had ever seen at that time. Chamberlain was a dupe, but he was not a traitor.

During Vietnam the US `lost' the war to the liberal movement that actually helped North Vietnam win the war. There were many examples of deluded Americans giving open support to our enemies (e.g., Hanoi Jane). The line was crossed, but since America had inserted itself into someone else's war those who crossed the line were given a bye - at that time. Now they would not because now we know the horror of their actions - millions killed as the communists `cleansed' that region of the world of the defenders of freedom and democracy.

Now we are in a different war. The United States of America is responding to decades of escalating war with Islamo Fascists, which culminated with 3,000 dead Americans on US soil on 9-11-01. Now the war is between the US and those targeting Americans. This is not a proxy war, this is us against our enemies who have killed our people.

In Iraq we have an opportunity to leave that country free and democratic, and the only thing keeping us there is al-Qaeda and Shiite Islamo Fascists like the Mahdi Army. I have never understood why the Islamo Fascists would not just let Iraq set up their new democracy and then try to win the hearts of the Muslim street through the democratic process - until I realized these fascists were as addicted to killing and oppression as their Nazi counterparts were nearly a century ago. For al-Qaeda and their ilk they are not leading unless they are oppressing, unless their is no chance for the masses under their control to change their minds and take a different direction.

Once that was clearly their MO, it also became clear those opposing these thugs would win in the end, since humanity will always chose freedom over a torture chamber (even if the chamber is their own neighborhoods). Now we can see another truth coming out from the battle between the duly elected government in Iraq and armed thugs trying to destroy it. We see how common cause has been forged between Iran and the Mahdi Army, but clearly another ally has joined forces to try and destroy Iraq on its path to peace and freedom. And that ally is the liberal western media.

The best example of this came out of the Christian Science Monitor today as it reported on the surrender of the Mahdi Army to the demands of the internationally recognized, legitimately elected Iraqi government. Remember the news media selects the scope and focus of its reporting, so when it gives credence to the propaganda spin coming from those who want Iraq to fall apart without any criticism or challenge it exposes its true nature. Check out this reporting slant:
A cease-fire deal to end seven weeks of fighting in Sadr City could provide the clearest test yet of just how much sway the anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has over armed militants operating inside his sprawling bastion of support in Baghdad.

The truce, accepted by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Saturday after being negotiated between the United Iraqi Alliance of ruling Shiite political parties and representatives of the Mr. Sadr's movement, is supposed to end the daily fighting that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the vast Shiite slum.....

It remains to be seen how successful the deal will be at ending the fighting, which assistance organizations warned last week was leading to a humanitarian crisis. Militants in the slum have demonstrated varying degrees of loyalty to Sadr, who is thought to be in Iran. If fighting and mortar-launching continue despite the truce, it could be a sign that Sadr has lost control of large factions within his militia.

In any case, the cease-fire agreement harbors the seeds of a continuing political conflict because it does not address the differences between the government and Sadr supporters over a political movement maintaining a militia.

Members of the Sadrist movement say the government's campaign against the Mahdi Army is a distraction from Maliki's true motivations: to stop the Sadrists' participation in provincial elections set for October, and to weaken Iraq's "nationalist forces" at a time when the government is negotiating a set of agreements on a long-term US military presence in Iraq.

"We are the last, the only resistance now to the occupation of Iraq," says Nassar al-Rubaie, leader of the Sadrist bloc in Iraq's parliament, the largest group in the 270-member body. "We want an Iraq free of all outside control, and an end to Iraqis fighting Iraqis."
Emphasis mine. With al-Qaeda on its last legs and facing a new concerted action to dislodge what's left of it from the area around Mosul the statement is quite correct. The Mahdi Army is the last hope for those who want to create a defeat in Iraq for America. That means those who need a defeat in Iraq need the Mahdi to succeed. This includes of course Sadr and the Mahdi who want control of Iraq. And it includes Sadr's Iranian masters who want control of Iraq through a puppet leader like they have with Syria.

And it includes the liberals in the news media and politics who need America to lose in Iraq so they can be proven right - for once. After years of predicting doom in Iraq, and even going so far out on the credibility limb as to claim The Surge was not working before it was even started, these liberals need Mahdi miracle to save their own credibility (and paychecks of course).

It is now abundantly clear why the media has lied about the battle between the Mahdi forces and the duly elected government of Maliki (many times called the US supported government of Maliki). Even while America is winning the war against al-Qaeda by winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim Street - which has taken up arms and chased al-Qaeda out of Iraq - the liberal SurrenderMedia has had no choice but to fabricate a defeat (as I noted in this previous post). And who does the fabricated defeat help? It doesn't help America and it doesn't help Iraq quell the armed resistance to its lawful sovereignty. It does help the enemies of freedom and democracy.

But moreover, it doesn't help the Iraqis themselves for the liberal news media to keep trying to salvage defeat from victory, by giving the Islamo Fascists hope that maybe this time there will be a defeat for Iraq and America. By encouraging these lame ideas, by giving them credence, they give a reason to the thugs to fight and kill. But what all those involved in finding defeat forget is it is the Iraqis who will decide their path - and it will not be decided to help the Mahdi, Iran or the liberal western media save face. It will be to build a better future:
What really motivates Maliki, say the Sadrists, is his fear that with their anti-American message they will make large gains in the next round of elections.

But that public support may be less overwhelming than they assume if the growing impatience with conditions in Sadr City are any indication. Indeed, Iraqi officials say that it was the ire of Sadr City residents that prompted Sadr representatives to reach the cease-fire agreement. "We had Mahdi fighters shooting near our house, and then the Americans would come and shoot at them," says Abbas Alibi, a Sadr City street vendor who took his wife and four children to a camp of tents set up for displaced Sadr City residents at a Baghdad stadium. "We are not involved on either side of this fight, but it made staying in our home impossible."

Mr. Alibi says he finally decided to make his move when the government began encouraging residents of some parts of Sadr City to evacuate. "We thought surely that meant a big fight was coming."
The Mahdi Army has no groundswell of public support. The Iranians and Sadr have no ground swell of public support to open up a real civil war. And the liberal media is losing its support as it lies to itself in public, grasping to find another Vietnam in a war that is nothing like Vietnam - starting with an all volunteer force proud of its accomplishments and dedicated to victory. This is not John Kerry's military, and this is not Jane Fonda's pet project, and this is not the age of the media monopoly over information to America.

There is common cause lined up on the other side of the equation. Opposing the hopes and desires of the Mahdi thugs, Sadr and Iran, and the liberal media are the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government, the pro-US states in the region, the US military forces, and above all the American people who will take victory over defeat any day of the week. This is the line up folks - who is crazy enough to pick the dark side?


Oh no, you have to be a citizen to vote?

NY Times:

The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.

The measure would allow far more rigorous demands than the voter ID requirement recently upheld by the Supreme Court, in which voters had to prove their identity with a government-issued card.

Sponsors of the amendment - which requires the approval of voters to go into effect, possibly in an August referendum - say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.

Voting experts say the Missouri amendment represents the next logical step for those who have supported stronger voter ID requirements and the next battleground in how elections are conducted. Similar measures requiring proof of citizenship are being considered in at least 19 states. Bills in Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina have strong support. But only in Missouri does the requirement have a chance of taking effect before the presidential election.

In Arizona, the only state that requires proof of citizenship to register to vote, more than 38,000 voter registration applications have been thrown out since the state adopted its measure in 2004. That number was included in election data obtained through a lawsuit filed by voting rights advocates and provided to The New York Times. More than 70 percent of those registrations came from people who stated under oath that they were born in the United States, the data showed. ....
I would have no trouble doing it and I was born along time ago in a hospital that has since been closed and a town that has been incorporated into another town. I just wrote the county in which I was born and requested a copy of my birth certificate. How hard is that? Not hard at all. If I was a naturalized citizen I think I would be proud enough of my citizenship papers to keep them handy.

I think I probably had to present some of this same data when I joined the Marine Corps. I would think probably every employee of the NY Times could come up with the same data, or get one of their coworkers to help them get it. If liberals can do it too, what is the problem?

Missouri has had experience with fraudulent voter registration in recent years and has reason to be carefully. For some reason that scares some Democrats. Why? Has the Times examined whether any of the 38,000 disqualified in Arizona actually have birth certificates?



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, May 13, 2008

The fall and rise of NYC

By Myron Magnet

Fear was a New Yorker's constant companion in the 1970s and '80s. We lived behind doors with triple locks, some like engines of medieval ironmongery. We barred our ground-floor and fire-escape windows with steel grates that made us feel imprisoned. I was thankful for mine, though, when a hatchet turned up on my fire escape, origin unknown. Nearing our building entrances, we held our keys at the ready and looked over our shoulders, as police and street-smart lore advised; our hearts pounded as we tried to shove the heavy doors open and slam them shut before some mugger could push in behind us, standard mugging procedure. Only once was I too slow and lost my money. A neighbor, who worked at a midtown bank, lost his life.

So to read Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet when it came out in 1970 was like a jolt of electricity. Just when New York had begun to spin out of control--steadily worsening for over two decades until murders numbered over 2,200 a year, one every four hours--Bellow's novel described the unraveling with brilliant precision and explained unflinchingly why it was happening. His account shocked readers: some thought it racist and reactionary; others feared it was true but too offensive for a decent person to say. In those days, I felt I should cover my copy with a plain brown wrapper on the subway to veil the obscenity of its political incorrectness.

The book was true, prophetically so. And now that we live in New York's second golden age--the age of reborn neighborhoods in every borough, of safe streets bustling with tourists, of $40 million apartments, of filled-to-overflowing private schools and colleges, of urban glamour; the age when the New York Times runs stories that explain how once upon a time there was the age of the mugger and that ask, is new york losing its street smarts?--it's important to recall that today's peace and prosperity mustn't be taken for granted. Hip young residents of the revived Lower East Side or Williamsburg need to know that it's possible to kill a city, that the streets they walk daily were once no-go zones, that within living memory residents and companies were fleeing Gotham, that newsweeklies heralded the rotting of the Big Apple and movies like Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy plausibly depicted New York as a nightmare peopled by freaks. That's why it's ! worth looking back at Mr. Sammler to understand why that decline occurred: we need to make sure it doesn't happen again.

A septuagenarian Holocaust survivor who lives on 90th Street near Riverside Drive (my turf for most of the last 45 years), the novel's main character, Artur Sammler, sees disorder and decay wherever he looks. Out in the public realm, vandals have cut the receivers off pay phones and turned the booths into reeking urinals. In the parks, dog waste has killed the grass, and bums are everywhere. In one park, Sammler observes a wino "sullenly pissing on newspapers and old leaves," while a homeless woman sleeps on a bench, her "sea cow's belly rising, legs swollen purple." Even the freshly opened daffodils show smudges of soot on their pure yellow petals. Central Park promenaders who now savor the lush Great Lawn or the sublime Bethesda Fountain should know what a heroic effort of philanthropy and policing it took to reclaim what less than two decades ago was a dusty, sterile, graffiti-marred wasteland where dope dealers and muggers reigned. Nothing you see today is the pure production of nature but springs instead from civic will and vision.

Along with disorder went crime. Sammler knows he can't jog in Riverside Park any more because of the muggers, and he sees in the park's trees and bushes "cover for sexual violence, knifepoint robberies, sluggings, and murders." Crime pervades the whole city, even into private sanctuaries. Sammler's niece opens her window to admire a beautiful sunset and then forgets to lock it, allowing burglars to climb in from the roof below, as used to happen routinely. The least of her losses is the financial one. "The sentimental value of her lockets, chains, rings, heirlooms was not appreciated by the insurance company." Such things are precious to her because they link her to her dead husband, her dead parents. For such loss, and the loss of her sense of safety in her own home, there can be no recompense.

How wonderful it would be to have "the privileges of remoteness" that $50,000 a year could buy, Sammler thinks--"club membership, taxis, doormen, guarded approaches," all of the insulation that only 17 years later, as Tom Wolfe calculated more lavishly in Bonfire of the Vanities, took an income of $1 million a year. (Since Dickens, our best urbanologists have been our novelists.) But, Bellow points out, even the "opulent sections of the city were not immune. You opened a jeweled door into degradation, from hypercivilized Byzantine luxury straight into the state of nature."

The novel's personification of all that crime is a tall, powerfully built thief whom Sammler sees several times working the Riverside Drive bus, a dandified black man sporting a camel's-hair coat, homburg, and Dior sunglasses. Sammler, slightly taller, can watch him over the heads of the other standees as he skillfully snaps open the handbags and methodically empties the purses of his unaware victims. One day, shielded from the other passengers by his broad, well-tailored back, the thief robs a weak old man with red-lidded eyes of "sea-mucus blue," cowering in the bus's back corner, his "false teeth dropping from his upper gums" in his terror. The thief pulls open the man's jacket with its ragged lining, takes out his plastic wallet, and methodically rifles through the contents, pocketing the money and the Social Security check, while dropping the family photos like so much trash. Then, in a gesture of ironic contempt, he jerks the knot of the old man's tie "approximately! , but only approximately, into place."

So much, in other words, for the old man's claim, through the symbol of his otherwise useless necktie, of membership in a civilized community, where civility and forbearance govern our relations with one another and family bonds matter. And so much for his social security in the literal sense, if the state can't even secure him from invasion and violation in public and in broad daylight. It's the ultimate satire: the state that promises you the security of an old-age pension can't even provide you the security to keep it--the primary purpose of a state. It's almost as bad as today's Britain, where the welfare state provides for your welfare not by stopping omnipresent thugs from beating you senseless but by sewing you up afterward for free.

Out of understandable anxiety for the social order, Sammler phones the police twice to have the bus thief arrested. They go through the motions with bored cynicism. If they will post a cop on the bus, Sammler says, he'll point out the pickpocket. We don't have enough manpower, the desk officer replies; you'll have to get on our waiting list. A waiting list? Sammler objects. "This man is going to rob more people, but you aren't going to do anything about it. Is that right?" The confirmatory answer is silence--the contempt-edged passivity that anyone who called the cops in the seventies and eighties, when, as Bellow remarks, the police were never around when you needed them, will remember well.

While Bellow was writing Mr. Sammler's Planet, not only were the criminals who preyed on the city overwhelmingly black (as is still true in New York), but much worse black violence threatened to destroy urban America in a latterday version of the European upheaval that nearly killed Sammler. Race was the social problem. In 1965, riots raged for six days in Los Angeles's Watts ghetto, leaving over 30 dead and whole blocks in ashes; in 1967, over 40 died in the Detroit ghetto riots before the National Guard, with army reinforcements, restored order; and over 25 died in the Newark riots, in which the looters, shooters, and arsonists left $10 million of property in ruins. A year later, after Martin Luther King's assassination, rioting raged in black neighborhoods for days in over 100 cities. Meanwhile, black radicals--most notably, the weapons-toting, cop-killing Black Panthers--were calling for armed revolution.

The year Sammler appeared, Tom Wolfe jeered at the white elite's embrace of the Panthers in his hilarious essay "Radical Chic," describing a party Leonard Bernstein had thrown to introduce the paramilitary-garbed black-power group to such friends as Richard Avedon, Lillian Hellman, Robert Silvers, and Barbara Walters in his Park Avenue duplex. But for Bellow, despite his keen sense of the absurd, such antics were no laughing matter. They were part of the reason why New York was falling apart.

Since the nineteenth century, bohemians, writers, and intellectuals have toyed with the "romance of the outlaw," as Sammler puts it. "He thought often what a tremendous appeal crime had made to the children of bourgeois civilization. Whether as revolutionists, as supermen, as saints, Knights of Faith, even the best teased and tested themselves with thoughts of knife or gun. Lawless Raskolnikovs." But in Sammler's New York, and in elite culture generally in the sixties, that romance of the outlaw focused primarily on blacks, whose status as social victims and outcasts transformed their criminal acts (ex officio, so to speak) into manly, quasi-heroic revolts against oppression, however inchoate. Another of Sammler's nieces, a rich, pretty Sarah Lawrence grad, embodies this prevailing worldview: she regularly sends money to "defense funds for black murderers and rapists." Her uncle has no patience with this attitude. You can't excuse a crime by saying it has been committed by a victim. "To whom would this not apply, if you start to say poor creature?" he dryly objects.

But though this exculpatory impulse springs partly from a widespread wish to make amends for centuries of racial injustice and to see "the unity of the different races affirmed," its roots go deeper than that. The American elite, Bellow saw, had lost confidence in its core values. "The labor of Puritanism was now ending"; the Puritan outlook that had guided America for three and a half centuries, the bourgeois outlook that "formerly was believed, trusted, was now bitterly circled in black irony." Without faith in their core bourgeois values and in the social order that rested on those values, the old elite had ceased to believe in its own legitimacy. Not surprisingly, "Mr. Sammler was testy with White Protestant America for not keeping better order. Cowardly surrender. Not a strong ruling class. Eager in a secret humiliating way to come down and mingle with all the minority mobs, and scream against themselves."

Trouble was, Americans wanted two mutually exclusive things, Sammler observes. They sought "the privileges, and the free ways of barbarism, under the protection of civilized order, property rights, refined technological organization, and so on." But you can have only one or the other. That is the meaning of the camel's-hair-clad robber's self-display. Yes, here is the big black member that everyone wants; but it is attached to a criminal. Its freedom, power, and authority are lawless, ready to make use of anyone, barbaric, bestial. Throughout, Bellow describes the robber as an "elegant brute" with the "effrontery of a big animal." He is an "African prince or great black beast . . . seeking whom he might devour"--as Saint Peter described that incarnation of evil, the devil. His gesture expresses to Sammler that he has the power and the will to devour him if need be. President Johnson might claim the authority to rule the world; the robber claims the alpha male's authority ! to rule the jungle, the state of nature, by force and violence.

As the classical political philosophers held, the civilized order that protects our lives and property rests on restraint. We curb our freedom of aggressive impulse to ensure the safety of all, ourselves included. The resultant freedom to go about our cities unmolested and to channel our energies into the civilized arts and sciences that generate human progress is a higher freedom than the liberty we relinquish. We limit our sexual freedom in order to form stable families that teach children to internalize civilization's self-restraint and make it part of their character, a process that turns the raw material of nature into human beings. "I thought everybody was born human," Sammler's pretty niece tells him. He replies, with this civilizing process in mind: "It is not a natural gift at all. Only the capacity is natural."

When Sammler, who between the wars was the London correspondent for several Warsaw magazines, gives an informal talk at Columbia about his acquaintanceship with such luminaries as H. G. Wells, J. M. Keynes, and John Strachey, a bearded listener rudely interrupts. How dare Sammler quote George Orwell's statement that "British radicals were protected by the Royal Navy? . . . That's a lot of shit," the man splutters. "Orwell was a fink. He was a sick counterrevolutionary. It's good he died when he did." The Levi's-clad man has no use for the notions that an anti-Communist (though still a leftist) like Orwell could be great and that radicals were free to spout their revolutionary nostrums not only because liberal England gladly tolerated diversity of opinion but also because it guarded its liberal freedom with the very military might the radicals despised. The audience shouldn't listen to Sammler, "this effete old shit," the young man continues. "His balls are dry. He's dead.! He can't come." The young man, in other words, subscribes to the philosophy of the thief in the camel's-hair coat: all authority resides in the genitals, beside which Sammler's wide erudition and the Western culture over which he ranges so widely throughout the novel count as nothing.

The professors were turning against Western culture because, with religion weakened among the elites, culture was the last authoritative bastion of "Thou Shalt Nots," the repository of the great thinkers' conclusions about what kind of life and behavior is best for man, what makes our existence meaningful and human, what allows us to fulfill our highest potentialities--and what leads to strife and sorrow. This final push for liberation on campus, including a liberation from Enlightenment reason itself, didn't want to hear about the right life or the wrong. Every kind of experiment in living--"coupling in all positions, tripling, quadrupling, polymorphous"--was fine in elite culture's "united effort to conquer disgust." The era's artists and playwrights turned against culture, too: Bellow mentions the painting of Andy Warhol, with its fey, arch insistence that there's no difference between the higher accomplishments and the lower, or among art, commerce, and celebrity; and! he mentions the Performance Group's famous production of Dionysus in '69, whose naked actors evidently had missed Nietzsche's caution that art needs the shaping, ordering Apollonian element to contain the frenzy, sexual license, and intoxication of the Dionysian, which, left to itself, ends in murder. For the elites, it was Dionysus all the way.

But neither the death of New York nor the death of conscience ever happened. Like most Americans, the majority of New Yorkers (chiefly in the outer boroughs rather than Manhattan) were pragmatic folk, capable of learning from experience. They didn't want to lose their town, and they elected Rudy Giuliani to clean it up. And all over the country, kids turned against the way their baby-boomer, sexual-revolutionary parents had brought them up, and resolved to do something different. They understood there was a better way to live.

How did they know it? A residue of the old culture, too strong to die? A pragmatic or instinctive understanding that there is a right and a wrong life for man, which some of the old philosophers called Natural Law? From page one of Mr. Sammler's Planet, Bellow himself insists that, beyond the explanations we construct through Enlightenment reason, the soul has "its own natural knowledge." We all have "a sense of the mystic potency of humankind" and "an inclination to believe in archetypes of goodness. A desire for virtue was no accident." We all know that we must try "to live with a civil heart. With disinterested charity." We must live a life "conditioned by other human beings." We must try to meet the terms of the contract life sets us, as Sammler says in the astonishing affirmation with which Bellow ends his book. "The terms which, in his inmost heart, each man knows. . . . As all know. For that is the truth of it--that we all know, God, that we know, that we know, we know, we know."

More here

From Dove to Hawk

A prominent Israeli historian explains why, after decades of research about the Jewish state, he now holds out little hope for reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians

I remember the moment when the Palestinian diaspora began to interest me, professionally. It was in Rashidiye Camp, outside Tyre, in June 1982, just after the Is-rael Defense Forces had scythed through on their way north to oust the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Lebanon. A journalist at the time, I picked my way through the devastated buildings. Most of the men had fled or been detained or killed by the Israelis, but I was struck by a group of old women hunched over a tabun, an outdoor oven, making pita bread far from their homeland. A few weeks later a stash of documents produced in 1948 by the Palmah-the strike force of the Haganah, the main Zionist underground in Palestine-was opened for me, revealing why and how many of these people had been displaced as Israel was born.

My historical account of that event, published a few years later, was greeted with some acclaim by Palestinians and their sympathizers-and much shock by Is-raelis, who had been brought up to believe, or to pretend to believe, that the Palestini-ans had fled their homes four decades earli-er because of orders or advice from their leaders. In certain places, at certain times, there had been such advice and orders, of course. But there had also been Israeli ex-pulsions, as well as the chaos of British withdrawal and economic hardship and anxiety about an uncharted future under Jewish rule. In most places it was the flail and fear of onrushing hostilities that had set some 700,000 Arabs on the roads.

Myself and several other young Israeli historians were dubbed revisionists and commonly assumed to be doves. But what brought me to my conclusions about 1948 were the facts, not my political views. Con-trary to current historiographic discourse I believe there is such a thing as the Truth-what, why and how things happened-and I've always sought it in my research. If I've since come to a much bleaker opinion about the possibility of reconciliation be-tween Jews and Palestinians-many would now call me a hawk-it is also because of that research.

During the 1990s, as the Oslo peace process gained momentum, I was cautious-ly optimistic about the prospects for peace. But at the same time I was scouring the just opened archives of the Haganah and the IDF. Studying the roots of the Arab-Is-raeli conflict-in particular the pronounce-ments and positions of the Palestinian leadership from the 1920s on-left me chilled. Their rejection of any compromise, whether a partition of Palestine between its Jewish and Arab inhabitants or the cre-ation of a binational state with political parity between the two communities, was deep-seated, consensual and consistent.

Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Palestinian na-tional movement during the 1930s and 1940s, insisted throughout on a single Muslim Arab state in all of Palestine. The Palestinian Arab "street" chanted "Idbah al-Yahud" (slaughter the Jews) both during the 1936-1939 revolt against the British and in 1947, when Arab militias launched a campaign to destroy the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine. Husseini led both campaigns.

So when Yasir Arafat rejected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's two-state proposals at Camp David in July 2000, and then President Clinton's sweetened offer the follow-ing December, my surprise was not exces-sive. Nor was I astounded by the spectacle of masses of suicide bombers launched, with Arafat's blessing, against Israel's shop-ping malls, buses and restaurants in the second intifada, which erupted in Septem-ber 2000. Each suicide bomber seemed to be a microcosm of what Palestine's Arabs had in mind for Israel as a whole. Arafat's rejectionism and, after his death, the election of Hamas to dominance in the Pales-tinian national movement, persuaded me that no two-state solution was in the offing and that the Palestinians, as a people, were bent, as they had been throughout their history, on "recovering" all of Palestine.

I found that current events had echoes in the historical record, and vice versa. The founding charter of Hamas repeatedly refers to the victory of Saladin over the me-dieval crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, and compares the crusaders to the Zionists. In researching my new history of the 1948 war, I was struck by the fact that this analo-gy, usually overlooked or ignored by previ-ous historians, suffused the statements and thinking of Palestinian leaders and the leaders of the surrounding Arab states dur-ing the countdown to, and the course of, the war. A few days before Arab armies struck at Jewish forces in Palestine, Abd al-Rahman Azzam, secretary general of the Arab League, told the British minister in Transjordan their aim was to "sweep the Jews into the sea."

If the documents I studied 20 years ago painted Palestinians tragically, as the underdog, this record did the opposite. It has become clear to me that from its start the struggle against the Zionist enterprise wasn't merely a national conflict between two peoples over a piece of territory but also a religious crusade against an infidel usurper. As early as Dec. 2, 1947, four days after the passage of the partition resolution, the scholars of Al Azhar University proclaimed a "worldwide jihad in defense of Arab Palestine" and de-clared that it was the duty of every Muslim to take part.

This history has deepened and reinforced my pessimism, itself bred by the fail-ure of Oslo. Those currently riding high in the region-figures like Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal, Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-are true believers who are convinced it is Allah's command and every Muslim's duty to extirpate the "Zionist entity" from the sacred soil of the Middle East. For all its economic, political, scientific and cultural achievements and military prowess, Israel, at 60, remains profoundly insecure-for there can be no real security for the Jewish state, surrounded by a surg-ing sea of Muslims, in the absence of peace.


I think that the last sentence above was simply what he needed to say in order to get his article published in "Newsweak"

Obama And The Emerging Tradition Of Emotive, Non-Rational Liberalism

Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links

Lately I've been trying to get a handle on what is widely said to be our enduring, endemic, pervasive racism, but a racism so "underground, hidden, subtle" that it is visible only to highly trained social scientists (such as the one discussed here) who, to skeptics, resemble nothing so much as dowsers claiming to have near-magical powers to find underground water with forked sticks. Summarizing the findings regarding "racial resentments" in recent literature of political psychology, John Judis of The New Republic writes that
racism remains deeply embedded within the psyche of the American electorate--so deep that many voters may not even be aware of their own feelings on the subject.... Political psychologists devised new tests to uncover these sentiments....

The answers [to questions inserted into the American National Election Studies] revealed a degree of racial resentment that wasn't apparent from more explicit questions about racial bias. In 1986, for instance, 59 percent of respondents agreed that blacks were not trying hard enough (only 27 percent disagreed), while 67 percent thought blacks should work "their way up ... without any special favors." Psychologists David Sears and Donald Kinder, as well as others, found that this racial resentment was the single most important factor--more important than even conservative ideology or political partisanship--in explaining strong opposition to a host of government programs that either directly or indirectly benefited minorities. Of course, that doesn't mean there couldn't be principled conservative opposition to government-guaranteed equal employment or urban aid. But, according to the political psychologists, racial resentment played the largest role in fueling public skepticism.
Now here comes another one, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, who points to "a more subtle form of prejudice" he describes as our symbolic racism.
Racial attitudes have changed dramatically in the United States over the past several decades, of course, and overtly racist beliefs are much less prevalent among white Americans of all classes today. But a more subtle form of prejudice, which social scientists sometimes call symbolic racism, is still out there - especially among working-class whites.

Symbolic racism means believing that African American poverty and other problems are largely the result of lack of ambition and effort, rather than white racism and discrimination. Who holds symbolically racist beliefs? A relatively large portion of white voters in general and white working-class voters in particular, according to the 2004 American National Election Study, the best data available on this topic. A few answers underscore how widespread these attitudes are:

* Almost 60 percent of white voters agreed with the statement that "blacks should try harder to succeed." A startling 43 percent of white college graduates nodded at this one, along with 71 percent of whites with no college education.

* Fully 49 percent of white voters disagreed with the statement that "history makes it more difficult for blacks to succeed." Forty percent of white college graduates disagreed with it, along with 58 percent of whites with no college education.
So, believing with Jesse Jackson and Bill Cosby that "blacks should try harder to succeed" makes one a symbolic racist? Would a belief, say, that "affirmative action makes it easier for blacks to succeed" also make one a symbolic racist? For that matter, would believing that blacks should be treated just like whites and Asians - no better and no worse - also make one a symbolic racist? Or just a plain, run of the mill, overt racist? Clearly one or the other since, according to Judis's report, a belief that "blacks should work `their way up ... without any special favors'" is evidence of "racial resentment."

All of this talk of subconscious, non-rational, gut-level racism calls to mind the work of another Emory social scientist, Drew Westen, whose book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation, was discussed here. (What is it with Emory's infatuation with emotions over thought?) As I wrote there, quoting an article in the Los Angeles Times,
Westen writes that it doesn't make sense to argue an issue using facts and figures and to count on voters - particularly the swing voters who decide national elections - to make choices based on sophisticated understandings of policy differences or procedures. He says Democratic candidates must learn to do what Republicans have understood for many years - they must appeal to emotions....
Actually, maybe they (or at least one) have (has) learned, although not in a way these political dowsers would approve. According to the lefty blogs and the Obama tankers in the mainstream press, Hillary has been "channeling George Wallace," as Joe Conason so artfully put it, by appealing to these subterranean racist sentiments. As everyone knows by now, Hillary commented that
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me." "There's a pattern emerging here," she said.
According to Conason,
There is indeed a pattern emerging - and it is a pattern that must dismay everyone who admires the Clintons and has defended them against the charge that they are exploiting racial divisions.
New York Times OpEdist Bob Herbert echoed Conason.
There is, indeed. There was a name for it when the Republicans were using that kind of lousy rhetoric to good effect: it was called the Southern strategy, although it was hardly limited to the South. Now the Clintons, in their desperation to find some way - any way - back to the White House, have leapt aboard that sorry train. He can't win! Don't you understand? He's black! He's black!

The Clintons have been trying to embed that gruesomely destructive message in the brains of white voters and superdelegates for the longest time. It's a grotesque insult to African-Americans, who have given so much support to both Bill and Hillary over the years
Herbert continued:
I don't know if Senator Obama can win the White House. No one knows. But to deliberately convey the idea that most white people - or most working-class white people - are unwilling to give an African-American candidate a fair hearing in a presidential election is a slur against whites.
If it is a slur, it's a slur that has become increasingly prominent and popular in social science today. Not for the first time (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.), one of the more predictably splenetic outbursts came from the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson. "As a statement of fact, that's debatable at best. As a rationale for why Democratic Party superdelegates should pick her over Obama," he writes,
it's a slap in the face to the party's most loyal constituency - African Americans - and a repudiation of principles the party claims to stand for. Here's what she's really saying to party leaders: There's no way that white people are going to vote for the black guy. Come November, you'll be sorry. How silly of me. I thought the Democratic Party believed in a colorblind America.
This isn't silly. It's audacious, unadulterated balderdash. Robinson knows perfectly well that the Democratic Party has not believed in - nor has it supported any policies, judges, or principles based on or advocating - "a colorblind America" since about 1965, and neither has he.

As I have commented more than once, virtually all of the discussion of the Democratic primaries has been couched in a very unsubtle version of demographic determinism. Democratic voters have been routinely described as being more or less of one mind (if that) on most major public policy issues; they have differed only in their demographic identities, splitting along lines of race, gender, age, etc.

But when Hillary notes, quoting an AP article, that her coalition is broader than Obama's, she's denounced as the second coming of George Wallace who "violated the rhetorical rules" (Conason, linked above). If she's guilty of appealing to the baser instincts of Democratic voters, isn't this exactly the behavior that one would expect to flow from all the advice to "frame" the debate (see here, here, here, and here) by appealing to the emotions of the electorate? And speaking of rhetorical rules, Joan Walsh of Salon nervously asks, "[c]an Democrats learn to talk about race." Like a prissy school-marm telling her charges to sit still, shape up, and fly right, she petulantly informs Democrats to watch their mouth:
Everybody's going to have to be more careful in the next few months, in the way they talk about race, while also talking about it. A lot. I don't know how we figure that one out, but we have to.
It's almost enough to make one pity the poor, conflicted Democrats. They so love to talk, especially about race, but they just don't know how. The traditional American idiom of fairness, i.e., treating everyone "without regard" to race, creed, or color, has become a foreign language, spoken only by ideological aliens (Republicans and conservatives).

I think the underlying problem here is that Democrats, apt and eager acolytes of their social science gurus, believe that everything important is, well, underlying - that emotion, attitude, prejudice, unconscious racism trump and even run roughshod over conscious thought, rationality, evidence, principles, moral beliefs, etc. And to their credit, they are perfectly bi-partisan in their disdain for the rationality of American voters: Republicans and small-towners bitterly cling to God and Guns because of economic disappointment; white, blue-collar Democrats similarly vote against their own interests out of "racial resentments."

In many respects there's nothing new in the Democrats' subordination of rationality and thought to feeling and emotion. Remember all the talk, not so long ago, about the Democrats as the "Mommy Party" (warm, compassionate, healing, inclusive, generous) and the Republicans as the "Daddy Party" (strict, demanding, competitive, stingy, just-the-facts rule enforcement)? And let us not forget all the hoo-hah over Thomas Frank's dismissal of the crazy Kansans that was such a popular rage among Democrats and that was just discussed here.

We've just heard a modern riff on the thought vs. emotion melody when Rev. Wright informed the Detroit NAACP about the "two different ways of learning" of blacks and whites.
European and European-American children have a left brained cognitive object oriented learning style and the entire educational learning system in the United States of America....

Left brain is logical and analytical. Object oriented means the student learns from an object. From the solitude of the cradle with objects being hung over his or her head to help them determine colors and shape to the solitude in a carol in a PhD program stuffed off somewhere in a corner in absolute quietness to absorb from the object. From a block to a book, an object. That is one way of learning, but it is only one way of learning.

African and African-American children have a different way of learning. They are right brained, subject oriented in their learning style. Right brain that means creative and intuitive. Subject oriented means they learn from a subject, not an object. They learn from a person. Some of you are old enough, I see your hair color, to remember when the NAACP won that tremendous desegregation case back in 1954 and when the schools were desegregated. They were never integrated. When they were desegregated in Philadelphia, several of the white teachers in my school freaked out. Why? Because black kids wouldn't stay in their place. Over there behind the desk, black kids climbed up all on them.

Because they learn from a subject, not from an object. Tell me a story. They have a different way of learning....
Rev. Wright was widely ridiculed for these and similar remarks, but in their subordination of analytical thought to emotion they were closer to the mainstream of modern liberal epistemology than is commonly supposed.

Let me give just one example - as it happens, from Rev. Wright's most famous and now recently former acolyte, Barack Obama. Obama, as we've seen with his bitter/clinging put-down of small town voters, is no stranger to the idea that people's behavior is often governed more by their emotions and subconscious concerns than by a clear, thought-out position on the "issues," but as far as he himself is concerned, he has the image of being almost too thoughtful, rational, articulate, etc., to connect with ordinary people. Thus I think it is quite revealing that even he, former editor of the Harvard Law Review and part-time professor of constitutional law, is on the record saying that he would subordinate head to "heart" in nominating judges and Supreme Court Justices. As Edward Whelan explained in The Weekly Standard,
In explaining his vote against Roberts, Obama opined that deciding the "truly difficult" cases requires resort to "one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy." In short, "the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart." No clearer prescription for lawless judicial activism is possible.

Indeed, in setting forth the sort of judges he would appoint, Obama has explicitly declared: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old - and that's the criterion by which I'll be selecting my judges." So much for the judicial virtue of dispassion. So much for a craft of judging that is distinct from politics.
Obama's heart-centered judicial philosophy has recently been discussed in two enlightening posts on the Volokh Conspiracy blog (here and here). Read both, and the comments. Here's a small sample: One commenter asked, "why wouldn't you want someone "with a good heart" setting down that law?" to which another replied: "When it comes to setting the law, a good brain is vastly more important." Another asked:
So, I'm curious: when Obama was lecturing in Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, were I to take a class of his and write on the final exam "Justice X's opinion in Case Y was correct because Justice X's heart was in the right place", would Obama have given me an `A'?
And if he didn't, would his refusal be based on some theoretical ground that would of necessity conflict with his often-stated heartfelt, heart-based philosophy ... or because he disagreed with what was in Justice X's heart?

Again, there's nothing altogether new here. Pragmatism has long been an important, and often dominant strain, in American liberalism, and its offspring, legal realism and an even more extreme post-modernism (search here for my many discussions of Stanley Fish), also reject fealty to rules and principles in favor of whatever road will lead to one's preferred result.

Nevertheless, even though this phenomenon is not new, it's important to recognize that when Obama lets slip his belief that voters often act irrationally and Hillary "frames" the argument for her candidacy in a way that strikes many liberals and mainstream pundits (but I repeat myself) as racist they are not going off half-cocked as idiosyncratic individuals but are rather both reflecting and acting out of what has become the dominant heart and gut over head epistemology of modern liberalism.


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, May 12, 2008

Wellness Ueber Alles

A new battlefront in the war to erase politically incorrect civil liberties is taking place across corporate America under the innocuous-sounding banner of "Wellness." Wellness certainly sounds nice; what kind of person is against wellness? That sounds as crazy as being anti-hope, or standing in the way of change.

Obviously we all want to be well, but now it appears you won't have much choice in the matter. Be well or face consequences beyond the state of one's health. But always remember: We're doing this for your own good.

The latest thing that's in our best interest is a renewed focus on quitting smoking, or as they say in more sophisticated circles, smoking cessation. And I'll take a brief time out to recognize that, indeed, quitting smoking is in a smoker's best interest, however, what's different this time around are the tactics employed. Before we discuss them, let's do a review of liberal social engineering programs from inception to execution. These steps should prove generally predictive of smoking cessation efforts currently underway.

* A group of individuals anoints themselves as better-informed than the rest of us. They base this largely on the fact that they listen to the same programs on NPR and consistently vote Democrat.

* The self-defined elite group comes to an agreement that the rest of us are not as enlightened as they. This is expressed in many ways, usually involving code words such as "clinging", "mean-spirited", or "greedy". If you hear these words being applied to you or your associates, this is a clear indication that you are not one of the elites.

* The elites begin to develop a sense of responsibility for their lessers. This is often expressed in statements like, "It's just makes me so sad to see them like that. I wish there were something we could do to..."

* The elites form a plan. The plan generally involves making everyone else behave like them. As enthusiasm rises, what were once "differences" become "problems" and finally metamorphose into a "crisis". When the word "crisis" appears, this usually signals the end of planning phase. The Plan predictably contains the following elements: coercion, moral superiority, lack of debate and voting, and a succession of "experts" who testify on its behalf.

* The plan is imposed. If the legislative branch refuses, the judiciary is prevailed upon to conjure up a constitutional justification.

* The plan begins to fail. This step is usually followed by demands for more resources to "properly implement the plan", (see the War on Poverty), and angry accusations at non-elite groups for their mean spirited, clingy refusal to change.

* The plan fails.

* The elites meet to form a new, better plan.

The smoking cessation plan seeks to turn recalcitrant smokers -- those so far unaffected by health education, high taxation and appeals to self-interest -- into non-smokers through the imposition of a "smoke free campus". What this means essentially is that no one is allowed to smoke anywhere on company property. Not content with banning smoking indoors and segregating it outdoors, it is now banished entirely like some wayward cleric in 13th century Europe, (or in the case of Islam - 21st century Europe). In many cases, these smoke free campus programs make it a company offense to even retire to your own vehicle and smoke a cigarette with the windows rolled up. The justification: your car is parked on our property and we don't approve of smoking!

What are your options if you still stubbornly wish to assert your right to smoke? Put on your walking shoes; you're going on a hike. Keep in mind that many corporate headquarters sit on multi-acre sites, and you realize that the afternoon smoke break is turned into something resembling the Boston Marathon. Harried smokers trekking across vast empty lawns to stand across the street, puffing furiously to make up for the ten minutes wasted traversing the tobacco-free DMZ. We may as well take this to its logical conclusion and hang a scarlet "S" around their necks while we're at it.

At this point you may well question my motivation for this cynical diatribe against change. Chalk it up to my basic lack of hope. Let me go on record as stating that although I did smoke as a younger man, I have not engaged in this self-destructive habit since New Years Eve 1994. I do not write this from the point of view of a disgruntled smoker forced to tint his car windows or purchase ergonomic walking shoes in order to continue the habit. I have no dog in this fight. Instead I use these corporate anti-smoking campaigns as an example of the stark differences between liberal and conservative ideology. As a conservative I don't see it as my job, much less my right, to make other people do things that are "in their best interest". As a conservative, my assumptions are:

* I have no idea what someone else's "best interest" is;

* Other people's "best interest", by definition, is none of my business.

It's a little concept called liberty. And by the way, it's the cornerstone of the Enlightenment, and a document known as the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers were very fond of liberty and fought a couple of wars with England on the very subject. Ditto a whole lot of civil rights workers in the 50's and 60's.

Freedom is the right of emancipated adults to make choices for themselves and accept the responsibility for the consequences. Don't think that the good intentions of the elites stop at the point of preventing you from putting smoke in your mouth. There are all those bad choices people make about what to eat just begging for correction.

The exercise of personal liberty, for all its flaws and imperfections, is far superior to the alternative, which for all my searching to avoid an over-used, often clich‚ term, is best defined as fascism. Not the jack boot, kick your door in at 3AM variety. But the more insidious, smiley-face variety described admirably by Jonah Goldberg as Liberal Fascism.

So the next time some well meaning do-gooder comes along and tries to take away your freedom of choice remember to mention John Locke and George Washington. Point out that you're not monitoring their "lifestyle choices" and would appreciate it if they returned the favor. Instruct them that freedom is a messy proposition and doesn't come with the right to make other people's decisions for them. Tell them to put that in their pipe and smoke it (metaphorically of course, because we all know smoking's bad for you).


Muslim threat to a blogger

Post below recycled from Infidels are Cool. See the original for links

Another moronic thug spewing hatred and evil towards anyone who criticizes Islam, now directing their threats right here at the nearly famous Infidels that are cool enough for some Islamo-hatemail. Here's the hate mail/death threat I received last night: The IP is based out of a hosting company in Netherlands but the IP location is inside the UK:
mahamed417@hotmail.com |

Are you fucking smacked. If I ever find out who you are my SMS boy's will come and blow holes in your face like we did to Adrian Marriot.
Him mentioning "SMS boys" refers an offshoot of the The Muslim Boys gang operating in South London called "South Man Syndicate", also known as "South Man Dem". I posted about these gangs back in January 2008. And Adrian Marriot was killed in 2005 by members of the Muslim Boys gang for refusing to convert to Islam. More info here:

The gang that ordered Adrian Marriott to convert to Islam is called The Muslim Boys. Until the killing, its ascendancy passed mainly unnoticed by the media. The Muslim Boys were viewed as just another of the many gangs that operated in south London, with names such as the Stockwell Crew, the Peel Den Crew, Mad Crew or Mad4T, the SMS (South Man Syndicate, also known as South Man Dem) and PDC (Poverty Driven Children). The police took the threat of the Muslim Boys more seriously. When Adrian Marriott's funeral took place in Brixton, the ceremony was guarded by armed police.

The Muslim Boys drew their recruits, mainly young black youths, from Brixton, Peckham, Lambeth, and Streatham. They targeted run-down housing projects such as the Angel Town Estate in Brixton where Adrian Marriott lived with his mother, his brother David, sister Tara and other siblings. The gang's core membership originally came from another housing project in Brixton called the Myatt's Field Estate. The Muslim Boys made most of their income by committing robberies, stealing from drug dealers and laundering money. They gained a fearsome reputation amongst their peers through their forced conversions to Islam.

Before Adrian Marriott was given the order to convert to Islam or die, his sister Tara had already become a target of the Muslim Boys. Tara Marriott and her friend Jade Okai gave in to the gang's demands and converted. They were given hijabs, Muslim headscarfs, which they were ordered to wear. They were also given Muslim books, DVDs and copies of the Koran, by two men who would later be charged with Adrian's murder.

In September 2005 three young men, Marcus Archer, Aaron Irving-Simpson and Marlon Stubbs, all aged 24, stood trial for the murder of Adrian Marriott. A jury at the Old Bailey heard that a few days before his murder, Adrian told his brother that Marlon Stubbs and two other individuals had threatened him at gunpoint and demanded 500 pounds ($979). Shortly after this, Marriott and an associate "accosted" Archer at Loughborough Junction train station. Stubbs then telephoned Marriot's sister Tara and said: "Your brother is a little tadpole. He just messed with a shark, a whale." Stubbs already had a conviction for raping two schoolgirls.
The BBC also covered this in 2005: Man `killed by Islamic zealots'. Jihad Watch was on it too: UK: The rise of the Muslim Boys. So should I feel intimidated or scared? Hell no.

There's this thing in America we call free speech. That means I can speak about the dirty prophet mohamed all day long and be proud that I am able to do so. Sadly this kind of thing would probably get me prosecuted in other countries like Canada (Ezra Levant, Mark Steyn) or in the UK (Lionheart) not to mention the countless bloggers in Muslim countries who are either in jail or in hiding for speaking the truths in which they believe.

So, to this Mahamed, commenter. You'll never silence me or any of the "Anti-Jihad Blogger Coalition" with you pathetic comments. Come meet my M&P .40 [pistol]

"Institutional Racism"

Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links

Earlier today I indicated (here) some skepticism about underground, hidden, subtle "institutional and structural" racism. Whether because of luck or co-incidence or simply a terribly confused contact list, I just received an email notice from an assistant editor at Ms. Magazine informing me of an article in the new issue, "`Too Poor to Parent?,' on institutional racism in the U.S. foster care system."

Curious to learn more about "institutional racism," and hoping to find a good example of this undercover, subtle, hard to pin down but nevertheless pervasive evil, I went to the above link, which provides only an excerpt from the article, not the whole thing. Still, it was revealing (or not, if you're a skeptic ... or an overt or covert racist). It begins quite dramatically:
When a recurrent plumbing problem in an upstairs unit caused raw sewage to seep into her New York City apartment, 22-year-old Lisa called social services for help. She had repeatedly asked her landlord to fix the problem, but he had been unresponsive. Now the smell was unbearable, and Lisa feared for the health and safety of her two young children.

When the caseworker arrived, she observed that the apartment had no lights and that food was spoiling in the refrigerator. Lisa explained that she did not have the money to pay her electric bill that month, but would have the money in a few weeks. She asked whether the caseworker could help get them into a family shelter. The caseworker promised she would help-but left Lisa in the apartment and took the children, who were then placed in foster care. Months later, the apartment is cleaned up. Lisa still does not have her children....
A sad story, to be sure, but at this point some of you may be wondering the same thing I was: where, or what, is the "institutional racism"? What I think is the attempt at answering this question quickly follows:
Black children are the most overrepresented demographic in foster care nationwide. According to the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO), blacks make up 34 percent of the foster-care population, but only 15 percent of the general child population. In 2004, black children were twice as likely to enter foster care as white children. Even among other minority groups, black mothers are more likely to lose their children to the state than Hispanics or Asians-groups that are slightly underrepresented in foster care.

The reason for this disparity? Study after study reviewed by Stanford University law professor Dorothy Roberts in her book Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books/Perseus, 2002) concludes that poverty is the leading cause of children landing in foster care. One study, for example, showed that poor families are up to 22 times more likely to be involved in the child-welfare system than wealthier families. And nationwide, blacks are four times more likely than other groups to live in poverty.
Color me dense, but I still don't get it. The fact that poor people are "22 times more likely to be involved in the child-welfare system" (why only 22?) than wealthier families is evidence of "institutional racism"?

Similarly, if "poverty is the leading cause of children landing in foster care" and blacks are "four times more likely than other groups to live in poverty," why is the fact that blacks are "twice as likely to enter foster care as white children" regarded as evidence of "institutional racism"? Why, that is, are blacks the "most overrepresented demographic" if poverty is the cause of "representation" in foster care, blacks are four times more likely to live in poverty, but only twice as likely to be in foster care? Alas, I'm afraid "institutional racism" remains too subtle for me to grasp.

Australia: Catholic schools join same-sex lockout

CATHOLIC schools in Queensland have joined the crackdown against students escorting gay partners to Year 12 formals. With the formal season under way, Catholic secondary students have been reminded by their school administrators that it would be inappropriate for same-sex couples to attend major school events such as the formal. "The Catholic Church has a particular vision of family and sexuality flowing on to a responsibility to model this vision for children through formal activities in the life of the Catholic school," said Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Mike Byrne. "As such it is not seen as appropriate for students to attend an event such as a school formal as a same-sex couple."

Brisbane's Anglican Church Grammar School last month banned male students from taking same-sex partners to the school formal on June 19. But other secondary schools are more relaxed about who students can take to their formal. Brisbane Girls Grammar School principal Amanda Bell said the school imposed no restrictions on who pupils could take to the dance. "Guests may include male or female friends, cousins, parents, siblings, anyone," she said. "Some girls choose not to bring a guest. The school encourages the girls to invite someone who will support and enjoy this event in a positive spirit."

Karen Spiller, the principal of St Aidan's Anglican Girls School in Brisbane, said the school had "no policy" on who students could or could not bring. "We're very happy for our girls to go along and enjoy their formal in the company of their own friends and cohorts or to bring a friend or a partner," she said. "The focus is on appropriate behaviour and enjoying their relationships with their cohorts."

Queensland state high schools also have their own guidelines regarding school formals, with no restrictions on same-sex couples.



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, May 11, 2008

Homosexual indoctrination starts in Minneapolis

Opponents tell district to leave sexuality out of social culture

A special interest program assembled by the Human Rights Campaign to promote homosexuality has been launched in the 91-school Minneapolis district, even as opponents are urging school officials to keep sexuality out of the social culture. "The government should promote and encourage strong families," said Austin R. Nimocks, a senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. "When school officials have to choose between protecting children in those families or furthering the homosexual agenda, the choice is obvious: protecting our children comes first."

The issue is the "Welcoming Schools" program assembled by the HRC, which advocates for and promotes homosexuality. District spokesman Ross Bennett told WND the program already has been launched in one school and was under consideration by the district's curriculum committee for other uses. He said he knew of one principal in one school who had requested help because of "bullying" that he believed was focused on sexual orientation issues, and the district considers the HRC promotional program another tool for teachers and administrators to use. He said the district's existing anti-bullying program could not be called inadequate, but "there's always room for improvement."

The ADF's comments accompanied a legal memo to the district advising officials of the true intent of the HRC promotion. "HRC says the program is designed to stop bullying, even though its true intent is to promote the homosexual agenda," Nimocks said. "If HRC merely cared about bullying, they would simply endorse the school district's vigorous 'Bullying and Hazing Policy.'" "According to its own statistics, HRC represents only 4.1 percent of American adults who identify themselves as homosexual, but it is attempting to implement its agenda on our children and the remaining 95.9 percent of American adults who don't identify themselves as either 'gay' or 'lesbian,'" he said.

The promotional materials, the ADF said, can lead to a wide range of "practical and legal problems." "Especially within schools, bathrooms, locker rooms, and other intimate places will no longer be protected from members of the opposite sex once 'gender identity' becomes standard behavior for students," the memo states. "From an enforcement standpoint, school officials would be unable to discern whether a boy who is using the girls' restroom is a sexual predator, prankster, or one who sincerely believes that he is somehow a girl."

According to published reports in Minnesota, the district is moving forward with the plan despite opposition from parents, who complained the agenda places too much emphasis on teaching about homosexual and other lifestyle choices, and includes too little about racial and religious diversity "and that it undermines parental authority by causing confusion in children." Supt. Bill Green, however, in a newspaper, endorsed the plan. His office declined to allow WND to ask him any questions, referring all inquiries instead to Bennett.

WND previously has reported on a nationwide campaign to have parents keep their children home from schools when the institutions promote the pro-homosexual "Day of Silence" activist event annually. The advanced state of California's homosexual indoctrination program for public school students also has been documented.

The MinnPost.com website reported it was the principal at Hale School in the district, Bob Brancale, who demanded the program. He said there's a need for an anti-bullying program that includes homosexual issues and he wanted the program installed and his teachers trained. The principal said there were 240 behavioral referrals this school year and 60 were for bullying, including about half involving "some form of gay slurs," the report said. The school board said it left curriculum matters to its school managers.

But the Alliance Defense Fund said the proposal will make problems. "The 'Welcoming Schools' project incorporates within itself two incorrect and dangerous assumptions - (a) that one's sex is a mental decision and not a biological fact, and (b) that individuals are born with an immutable 'sexual orientation,' including children as young as five-years-old having normal same-sex attractions." "It is clear that the goal of HRC is to implement an educational program to indoctrinate young children with social viewpoints that are extremely controversial, out of the mainstream, and rely on unproven scientific theory that runs counter to American cultural and scholastic interests," the ADF advisory said. "The indoctrination of children with HRC's anti-religion political agenda will present serious practical and legal problems, especially [as] adults are charged with the safety and security of other people's children."

Among other issues, the ADF said, presenting such indoctrination in class would violate the district's own policy addressing teaching controversial material. Further complicating the issue would be the program's targeting children ages 5-7 with a lesson "that sex is an irrelevant biological inconvenience." "In fact . HRC embraces the notion that a person can identify as neither male nor female, but instead 'intersexual,'" the ADF said.

The promotional material's use of "gender identity" is just an attempt to "socially normalize behavior flowing from a known and recognized mental illness (Gender Identity Disorder)," the ADF said. "As a society, if we were to begin ignoring the needs of those inflicted with schizophrenia, denying them treatment, care, medication, and counseling, the consequences would be devastating. The turning of a blind eye to GID is no less destructive," the letter said.

On a practical level, schools no longer would be able to segregate boys and girls for restroom needs, locker room facilities and other intimate situations once "gender identity" is fully embraced, the ADF said. "By choosing to embrace HRC's political agenda, school administrators would be forced to defer to the perceived or designated sex of each individual, without regard to their biological reality," the group said. Working under such a belief system, "there is no circumstance under which a teacher or school administrator would know whether to object to any given individual's usage of the boys or girls restroom."

"Moreover, all students possess privacy rights, even within their school.," the group said. "The law protects students . in refraining from having their bodies exposed to members of the opposite sex. . There exists no compelling interest that justifies your endangering the health, welfare, and safety of . students in order to acquiesce to a wayward and misguided political agenda."

The legal advisory also noted the HRC program lacks scientific support and usurps parental rights. "The 'Welcoming Schools' project is sex-based education - nothing more," the ADF said. "Allowing the country's largest LGBTQ advocacy and political organization to dictate elementary school curriculum will pique the curious and inquisitive minds of the school district's children, leading to disastrous consequences."

One of those consequences, according to ADF, would be an open door to damage claims. "Since everyone arguably possesses some semblance of 'sexual orientation,' nothing will prevent students from making various or inconsistent claims." ADF said, which could not be defended because the basis for such claims woudl be a perceived sexual orientation.


Ontario Premier's Plan to Scrap Lord's Prayer Backfires as Groundswell Grows in Opposition

The Ontario premier's plans to scrap the recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the Legislature has resulted in a groundswell of opposition. The flood of emails objecting to the proposal temporarily crashed the website of Queen's Park, and hundreds of phone calls have come in protesting the move. MPPs have complained that the time and money spent on the project could have better been spent elsewhere, especially considering there had been no calls to abolish the prayer leading up to McGuinty's decision to put the proposal to scrap the prayer before a committee.

In a move that reportedly surprised MPPs, Premier McGuinty, who continues to claim membership in the Catholic Church, told the legislature in February this year that the time had come to "move beyond" open acknowledgement of Christianity in the Ontario government. He asked a committee to draft a religiously neutral "prayer" that would better suit Ontario's "religious diversity". "I've asked for a parliamentary committee, with representation from each of the parties and the Speaker's involvement as well, to take a look at how we can move beyond the Lord's Prayer to a broader approach that is more inclusive in nature," McGuinty said.

McGuinty told media, "We're much more than just Protestants and Catholics today. We have all the world's faiths represented here." But Ontario, statistically speaking, is not as "diverse" as Mr. McGuinty might believe. Recent figures show that two-thirds of Ontario's population is Christian. In Canada overall, professing Christians still make up at least 70 per cent of the population.

McGuinty admitted that his suggestion to abolish the Lord's Prayer had resulted in a scolding from his Catholic mother. He told media today that he is "looking forward" to hearing the recommendation of the committee. But committee chairman Steve Peters told media that while the response was overwhelmingly against the idea from the public, the committee had not finished its consultation process. Various groups, including atheists and non-Christian organizations, have been given until the end of the month to make presentations.

Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop said, "The Lord's Prayer is inclusive enough that it covers a lot of different religions. It's not just about religion. It's about tradition." "You don't tamper too much with what you've got," he said. "This really irks a lot of people and gets under their skin."

NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, Cheri DiNovo said that "about 80 per cent" of constituents are in favour of keeping the Lord's Prayer. "Now he's getting his groundswell," she added.

Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said, "I don't think there was any thirst to have a debate on this at all, certainly not compared to hospital emergency rooms or lost jobs. But now that Mr. McGuinty - for reasons best known to him - has started the debate, people are quite animated about it."


The land of the almost free to speak up

I'd like to think it was the sangria talking. But the plain truth is, when Anna said she doesn't find this country to be especially free, it was Anna talking. Granted, her complaint is hardly new. People often grouse about the lack of freedom in the land of the free.

But you see, Anna is from Estonia, a former republic of the old Soviet Union. As in the Evil Empire, world's leading exporter of communism. So when Anna says she feels less free in the United States where she now lives than in the once-totalitarian regime where she was born, well . . . it gets your attention. And when she says Americans sometimes remind her of the gray, fatalistic people who shuffled along under communism, unwilling to think too deeply, say too much or laugh too loudly for fear of offending the State, it is striking, to say the least.

You won't know Anna from Estonia. She is a friend's fiance, and these insights were not part of some think tank paper but, rather, came in the ebb and flow of table talk one recent night at a Mexican restaurant. Still, I think Anna is onto something. Americans, she said, love to trumpet their freedom. But it's hard to square that with political correctness that straitjackets communication for fear of giving unintended offense, hair-trigger litigiousness that requires major corporations to treat customers (''Caution: Coffee is hot'') like idiots for fear of being sued, zero tolerance policies and mandatory sentencing guidelines that remove human judgment from human encounters for fear of rendering unequal justice.

You do not have to agree that Americans compare unfavorably with the dull and dispirited Party men and women of a generation ago -- I don't -- to believe Anna has a point. A nation of iconoclasts and originals seems hellbent on becoming a nation of hall monitors. A nation born in revolution has lived to see revolution neutered and co-opted. So much so that even that which poses as a threat to the status quo (hip-hop, for example) nowadays has commercial sponsorship and corporate tie-ins.

It's hard to imagine an Elvis Presley happening in such an era. Or a Malcolm X, a Miles Davis, a Marlon Brando, a Bob Dylan, a Walt Disney, a Betty Friedan or any of the other American originals who poleaxed the 20th century. After all, originality is anathema to uniformity and, make no mistake, uniformity is what we're talking about here, the campaign to regulate language, law, culture and every other aspect of human intercourse in the hope of thereby removing from that intercourse every hint of risk or danger of unequal treatment.

To put it another way: You can hardly accuse the cashier of being rude to you because of your sexual orientation if the cashier is a keypad; you can hardly sue the maker of the vending machine you rocked until it fell over on you if it bears a sign that says rocking this machine will cause it to fall over on you; you can hardly say the judge gave you a harsh sentence because you're Hispanic if the judge had no role in choosing your sentence.

And if this impulse toward uniformity sounds noble in theory, what it leads to in practice is kids kicked out of school because Midol violates the zero-tolerance drug policy, or a parolee getting 25 to life because the pizza slice he stole violates the three-strike law.

And, too, it leads to Anna from Estonia making it a point to show visiting friends a sight they could never see in the old country. They laugh, they point, they whip out cameras and take pictures. Of the Everglades? No. Of Mount Rushmore or Lady Liberty? No. Anna said they take pictures of the idiot signs. These she said, crack her friends up. ''Caution: Coffee is hot.'' Apparently, elsewhere in the world, you don't need a sign to know this.


Change That Kids Could Believe In

Among the many items that presidential hopeful Barack Obama lists in his agenda for lowering American poverty is legislation that would "promote responsible fatherhood" by, among other measures, stricter enforcement of laws requiring absent fathers to support their children. Perhaps Obama should take a look at the latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics on child custody and child support. The data might prompt him to revamp his legislation in support of a broader reform--responsible parenthood among both sexes.

The recently released data indicate some progress, after a decade of tougher enforcement of court-ordered child support by certain localities. While the overall share of parents with custody of kids who received at least some child support in 2005 (the latest year statistics are available) grew slightly--to 77.2 percent, from 75.8 percent in 1995--the percentage of parents receiving all the support due them increased to 47 percent, from only 37 percent a decade earlier. Those gains are significant, because the data show that single-parent households that get full child support from absent parents are far less likely to wind up in poverty.

But below the surface of the census report is a troubling trend that has as much to do with mothers as with fathers: the rapidly rising percentage of custodial single parents who have never married. These parents, mostly mothers, are far less likely to have support agreements with the child's absent parent, because their relationships are less solid than those between formerly married couples who raised children together for some time before splitting. Only 48 percent of never-married parents have such agreements, compared with 62 percent of all other parents. Further, these never-married parents are far less likely to receive child-support payments even when arrangements are in place--only 40 percent received everything due them in 2005, compared with half of all other parents.

What's most troubling is that unwed parents represent the fastest-growing segment of single parents: their numbers have increased by a quarter since 1995, and they now make up 30 percent of all parents with court-ordered custody of children when the other biological parent is absent. The growth in out-of-wedlock births is a serious impediment to reducing child poverty in America. Whereas fewer than 10 percent of children living with two parents live below the poverty line, about 37 percent of those living with single mothers do. Kids born out of wedlock are particularly likely to wind up in poverty. In 2007, half of all women who had children out of wedlock were in poverty, ensuring that their children wound up there, too.

Over the years, society has tried to make absent parents, mostly fathers, contribute to the support of their children. But the image of a rich deadbeat dad enjoying the high life while his kids and ex go hungry is a fanciful one that applies to only a small percentage of families. A far larger problem is fathers who can't support their children because they're unemployable for a host of reasons, ranging from incarceration to drug addiction. Gleaning lessons from welfare reform, some social entrepreneurs are developing programs, like Philadelphia-based Public/Private Ventures's Fathers at Work, to make these fathers more employable and hence better able to support their children. If such efforts prove successful, they could play an important role in reducing child poverty.

But the problem of unwed parents is even more complex. According to 2007 census data, only 28 percent of unwed mothers who gave birth last year were living with a partner. Such arrangements do not augur well for men's making lifetime commitments to their kids' support and development.

So while enforcement programs haul the deadbeat dad--or the occasional deadbeat mom--into court, something more is needed. Obama's agenda aims to encourage marriage with more tax credits for working-poor married couples and other family-friendly initiatives, but the rise in out-of-wedlock births is not a function of tax policy. We long ago destigmatized this form of parenthood: young men boast about the children they've fathered illegitimately, and young women seem unaware that such births are a superhighway to lifetime poverty for them and their kids. But there's nothing cool about the terrible consequences that rising out-of-wedlock births are having for America's children. It would be refreshing to see a natural leader and strong father figure like Obama talk frankly about this problem. Such a discussion is long overdue.



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, May 10, 2008

America's War on Words

The Bush administration has launched a new "outreach" policy reflecting it's reluctance to discuss jihadism in public. This time, it has targeted language. We are no longer at war with "jihadism". Rather, we are engaged in a war against "extremism".

In a document titled: "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication" released in March 2008, Federal agencies including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center will now be issued instructions on how not to describe "jihadists", or the "mujahedeen", or to use any references relating to Islam, Islamic theology or Muslims in the context of our current war. Nor are these the only words to be struck from the government's political lexicon. Words and phrases like "al Qaeda movement", "Salafi", "Wahhabist", "Sufi", "ummah" (the Muslim world), "Islamic terrorist", "Islamist", "holy warrior" and even "caliphate" are also to be removed from diplomatic discourse.

The erroneous rationale given is that these terms promote support for "extremism" among Arab and Muslim audiences by providing religious credibility to "extremists" while offending moderate Muslims. The directive states that the term "jihad" tends to "glamorize terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world". The memo says the advice is not binding and does not apply to official policy papers, but should be used as a guide for conversations with Muslims and media.

This directive mirrors identical policy guidelines distributed to British and European Union diplomats last year to better explain the current war to Muslim communities there (as if they don't already get it). Last summer, Prime Minister Gordon Brown prohibited his ministers from using the word "Muslim" in connection with terrorism. And in January this year, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith went even further, announcing that the British Government had dropped the hollow term "War on Terror" as well as "Islamic extremism" and decided that Islamic terrorism would henceforth be described as "anti-Islamic activity". Civil servants now have to refer to Islamic terrorists merely as "criminals" without any reference to Islam in order to "prevent the glorification and incitement of terrorism". Bat Ye'or would call these actions just another manifestation of creeping British "d'himmitude" (infidel submission to Islam), but the fact that the US government is now following the British lead (where fear or misguided sympathy under the guise of "outreach" or "multiculturalism" is the motivating factor) is disturbing.

There are billions of Muslims and literally thousands of Islamic scholars and organizations who believe that democracy and Islam are indeed compatible; who reject violence in pursuit of Islam's goals; who condemn terrorism; who advocate equal rights for minorities and women; and who accept pluralism within Islam. The jihadi Salafists, however, have externalized jihad and interpret this struggle as a holy war to be waged against infidels and apostates until a global Islamic caliphate has been established under shari'a law. These two distinctly different interpretations of the Muslim holy books affect the vast majority of the world's 1.4 billion Muslims as much as they affect non-Muslims. But rather than clarify the distinction between these two divergent schools of interpretation and define jihadi Salafism as the enemy, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center have chosen to sanitize their diplomatic jargon in the name of "Muslim outreach".

It's a fair guess that the vast majority of the global Muslim community understands quite well that a segment of their co-religionists are responsible for a considerable amount of terrorism around the globe, so they don't need us to explain it to them, especially in generic terms which make us look foolish. Nor is anything we say going to affect jihadist credibility amongst Muslims. The argument that: "We must carefully avoid giving bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders the legitimacy they crave....by characterizing them as religious figures, or in terms that may make them seem to be noble in the eyes of some" is ridiculous. Few if any in the Muslim world care what non-Muslims think about jihadist groups like al Qaeda, so the argument that we have to be careful in our language so as not to give bin Laden credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of Muslims is a non-starter.

At least the 9/11 Commission had the wisdom to define the enemy without all the political correctness we see in this directive. As Jeffrey Imm points out in the Counter Terrorism Blog:
"The 9/11 Commission Report uses the term "jihad" in referencing the enemy 79 times and specifically defines "jihad" as a "holy war" executed by Osama Bin Laden and his compatriots (Section 2.3, Paragraph #302 on page 55), as well as defining "mujahideen" as "holy warriors" (Paragraph #302, same page). The 9/11 Commission Report refers to such "mujahideen" 22 times. ..The 9/11 Commission Report refers to the term "jihadist" 31 times, including the references to the "worldwide jihadist community" (Section 5.1, Paragraph #691 on page 148), to "Islamist Jihadists" (Section 5.3, Paragraph #741 on page 158), to "Islamist and jihadist movements" (Section 6.3, Paragraph #887 on page 191), and multiple references to an NSC memo on "Jihadist Networks"..Most importantly, the 9/11 Commission Report provides the definition of "Islamist terrorism" as being based on the ideology of "Islamism" (Notes, Part 12, Note 3: "Islamism", page 562)? ...Does the NCTC now claim that the 9/11 Commission Report "legitimizes" the actions of Jihadists?"
The only reasonable explanation behind this policy (both here and in Britain) is that these directives represent an emerging trend in our federal security, intelligence and legal agencies (DOJ, DHS, CIA and FBI) that we can somehow better protect America and American foreign interests and reduce the level of violence by engaging in "outreach" with pro-jihadist organizations or countries whether it be Iran in the Middle East or representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US. In effect, jihadist ideologies no longer concern our State Department provided there is a reduction in the level of violence that such groups promote. It amounts to surrender to the forces of global Islam with the only qualification being that jihadists conduct themselves peacefully so as to reduce the necessity of future American military interventions. Part of this policy holds that the language used to describe jihadism actually incites it, so if we change our language, we can reduce the problem. But this "problem" with jihadism is not and never has been one of linguistics, and it will not disappear.

This "outreach" approach is flawed because it ignores the totalitarian ideology of jihadist Islam, the central tenet of which remains conquest, submission and the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate (another term US diplomats will no longer be allowed to use). This new War on Words is just another manifestation of our failed strategy in dealing with global jihadism. Perhaps we should cease using the words "freedom" or "democracy" since these concepts are offensive to Shari'a law, and start setting up no-pork aisles in our supermarkets, or adopt such British "outreach" practices as banning piggybanks, pulling Holocaust education from school curricula and, in some cases, changing the names of pig-centered children's classics like "The Three Little Pigs" to avoid offending Muslim sensitivities.

An Administration that continues to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority and billions of petro-dollars to our enemies should be more concerned with legitimizing jihadists by funding them than they are about nomenclature.


Australia's Federal district passes civil unions law for homosexuals

The ACT is similar to America's DC. The Federal government barred them from allowing homosexual marriages so a watered down arrangement was passed

The ACT Assembly has passed a watered-down version of its civil unions bill after it failed to secure the support of the Federal Government. The ACT Government was forced to scrap its plans for laws to legally recognise same-sex civil union ceremonies after the Federal Government refused to support the move, on the grounds that the arrangement mimicked marriage. The laws introduce a relationships register similar to that in place in Tasmania and Victoria.

ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell says the laws still represent a significant step foward for the ACT. "Same sex couples will now be recognised under Territory law," he said. "No longer will they have to rely on proving some sort of de facto status, no longer will the power bills and bank accounts have to come out to demonstrate that you are actually in a committed caring relationship."

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says he is disappointed that the Government was forced to change the legislation. "This is not the outcome that the ACT Government wanted," he said. "It doesn't deliver the equality under the law that the ACT Government had wished to deliver. "It is a matter of embarrassment to me that my party did not stand up for this fundamental principle."


Useless British police again

A police force says it can't break up illegal all-night raves - because it's too dark. Chief Inspector Gill Ellis, of Kent Police, said that it was not safe to disperse revellers in remote locations when it was dark, reports the Daily Telegraph. She blamed the lack of action on 'health and safety' regulations when tackled by locals who are fed-up with raves in a wooded area near Sevenoaks.

Chief Supt Ellis insisted that safety regulations meant officers had to wait until sunrise to break up the bashes. She said it could also be dangerous to disperse ravers because they may get into their cars to drive home while still high on drink and drugs. Chief Supt Ellis told the meeting: "We will wait until daylight hours for reasons of health and safety before making interventions."

But councillors pointed out a bash in March, which took place at Longspring Woods near the village of Shoreham, had been allowed to go on until 1pm the following afternoon. Cllr Phil Hobson, an IT consultant in his early 50s, said: "It's ridiculous that a rave would be allowed to go on all night and into the afternoon. "What the police told us is if a rave is happening and they don't know about it significantly in advance they can't get the man power there to stop it. "I think it is disgusting. The police are there to catch criminals and stop illegal activity."


Losing Our Spines to Save Our Necks

This is a rather surprising article in two ways: 1). It appeared on the Leftist Puffington Host; 2). It is by Sam Harris, a libertarian. Most libertarians are "antiwar". They think that if we don't bother the Muslims, they won't bother us. Over 1,000 years of history are apparently lost on them

Geert Wilders, conservative Dutch politician and provocateur, has become the latest projectile in the world's most important culture war: the zero-sum conflict between civil society and traditional Islam. Wilders, who lives under perpetual armed guard due to death threats, recently released a 15 minute film entitled Fitna ("strife" in Arabic) over the internet. The film has been deemed offensive because it juxtaposes images of Muslim violence with passages from the Qur'an. Given that the perpetrators of such violence regularly cite these same passages as justification for their actions, merely depicting this connection in a film would seem uncontroversial. Controversial or not, one surely would expect politicians and journalists in every free society to strenuously defend Wilders' right to make such a film. But then one would be living on another planet, a planet where people do not happily repudiate their most basic freedoms in the name of "religious sensitivity."

Witness the free world's response to Fitna: The Dutch government sought to ban the film outright, and European Union foreign ministers publicly condemned it, as did UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Dutch television refused to air Fitna unedited. When Wilders declared his intention to release the film over the internet, his U.S. web-host, Network Solutions, took his website offline.

Into the breach stepped Liveleak, a British video-sharing website, which finally aired the film on March 27th. It received over 3 million views in the first 24 hours. The next day, however, Liveleak removed Fitna from its servers, having been terrorized into self-censorship by threats to its staff. But the film had spread too far on the internet to be suppressed (and Liveleak, after taking further security measures, has since reinstated it on its site as well).

Of course, there were immediate calls for a boycott of Dutch products throughout the Muslim world. In response, Dutch corporations placed ads in countries like Indonesia, denouncing the film in self-defense. Several Muslim countries blocked YouTube and other video-sharing sites in an effort to keep Wilders' blasphemy from penetrating the minds of their citizens. There have also been isolated protests and attacks on embassies, and ubiquitous demands for Wilders' murder. In Afghanistan, women in burqas could be seen burning the Dutch flag; the Taliban carried out at least two revenge attacks on Dutch troops, resulting in five Dutch casualties; and security concerns have caused the Netherlands to close its embassy in Kabul. It must be said, however, that nothing has yet occurred to rival the ferocious response to the Danish cartoons.

Meanwhile Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonists, threatened to sue Wilders for copyright infringement, as Wilders used his drawing of a bomb-laden Muhammad without permission. Westergaard has lived in hiding since 2006 due to death threats of his own, so the Danish Union of Journalists volunteered to file this lawsuit on his behalf. Admittedly, there is something amusing about one hunted man, unable to venture out in public for fear of being killed by religious lunatics, threatening to sue another man in the same predicament over a copyright violation. But it is understandable that Westergaard wouldn't want to be repeatedly hurled at the enemy without his consent. Westergaard is an extraordinarily courageous man whose life has been ruined both by religious fanaticism and the free world's submission to it. In February, the Danish government arrested three Muslims who seemed poised to murder him. Other Danes unfortunate enough to have been born with the name "Kurt Westergaard" have had to take steps to escape being murdered in his place. (Wilder's has since removed the cartoon from the official version of Fitna.)

Wilders, like Westergaard and the other Danish cartoonists, has been widely vilified for "seeking to inflame" the Muslim community. Even if this had been his intention, this criticism represents an almost supernatural coincidence of moral blindness and political imprudence. The point is not (and will never be) that some free person spoke, or wrote, or illustrated in such a manner as to inflame the Muslim community. The point is that only the Muslim community is combustible in this way. The controversy over Fitna, like all such controversies, renders one fact about our world especially salient: Muslims appear to be far more concerned about perceived slights to their religion than about the atrocities committed daily in its name. Our accommodation of this psychopathic skewing of priorities has, more and more, taken the form of craven and blinkered acquiescence.

There is an uncanny irony here that many have noticed. The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn't, we will kill you. Of course, the truth is often more nuanced, but this is about as nuanced as it ever gets: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn't, we peaceful Muslims cannot be held responsible for what our less peaceful brothers and sisters do. When they burn your embassies or kidnap and slaughter your journalists, know that we will hold you primarily responsible and will spend the bulk of our energies criticizing you for "racism" and "Islamophobia."

Our capitulations in the face of these threats have had what is often called "a chilling effect" on our exercise of free speech. I have, in my own small way, experienced this chill first hand. First, and most important, my friend and colleague Ayaan Hirsi Ali happens to be among the hunted. Because of the failure of Western governments to make it safe for people to speak openly about the problem of Islam, I and others must raise a mountain of private funds to help pay for her round-the-clock protection. The problem is not, as is often alleged, that governments cannot afford to protect every person who speaks out against Muslim intolerance. The problem is that so few people do speak out. If there were ten thousand Ayaan Hirsi Ali's, the risk to each would be radically reduced.

As for infringements of my own speech, my first book, The End of Faith, almost did not get published for fear of offending the sensibilities of (probably non-reading) religious fanatics. W.W. Norton, which did publish the book, was widely seen as taking a risk--one probably attenuated by the fact that I am an equal-opportunity offender critical of all religious faith. However, when it came time to make final edits to the galleys of The End of Faith, many of the people I had thanked by name in my acknowledgments (including my agent at the time and my editor at Norton) independently asked to have their names removed from the book. Their concerns were explicitly for their personal safety. Given our shamefully ineffectual response to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, their concerns were perfectly understandable.

Nature, arguably the most influential scientific journal on the planet, recently published a lengthy whitewash of Islam (Z. Sardar "Beyond the troubled relationship." Nature 448, 131-133; 2007). The author began, as though atop a minaret, by simply declaring the religion of Islam to be "intrinsically rational." He then went on to argue, amid a highly idiosyncratic reading of history and theology, that this rational religion's current wallowing in the violent depths of unreason can be fully ascribed to the legacy of colonialism. After some negotiation, Nature also agreed to publish a brief response from me. What readers of my letter to the editor could not know, however, was that it was only published after perfectly factual sentences deemed offensive to Islam were expunged. I understood the editors' concerns at the time: not only did they have Britain's suffocating libel laws to worry about, but Muslim physicians and engineers in the UK had just revealed a penchant for suicide bombing. I was grateful that Nature published my letter at all.

In a thrillingly ironic turn of events, a shorter version of the very essay you are now reading was originally commissioned by the opinion page of Washington Post and then rejected because it was deemed too critical of Islam. Please note, this essay was destined for the opinion page of the paper, which had solicited my response to the controversy over Wilders' film. The irony of its rejection seemed entirely lost on the Post, which responded to my subsequent expression of amazement by offering to pay me a "kill fee." I declined.

I could list other examples of encounters with editors and publishers, as can many writers, all illustrating a single fact: While it remains taboo to criticize religious faith in general, it is considered especially unwise to criticize Islam. Only Muslims hound and hunt and murder their apostates, infidels, and critics in the 21st century. There are, to be sure, reasons why this is so. Some of these reasons have to do with accidents of history and geopolitics, but others can be directly traced to doctrines sanctifying violence which are unique to Islam.

A point of comparison: The controversy of over Fitna was immediately followed by ubiquitous media coverage of a scandal involving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). In Texas, police raided an FLDS compound and took hundreds of women and underage girls into custody to spare them the continued, sacramental predations of their menfolk. While mainstream Mormonism is now granted the deference accorded to all major religions in the United States, its fundamentalist branch, with its commitment to polygamy, spousal abuse, forced marriage, child brides (and, therefore, child rape) is often portrayed in the press as a depraved cult. But one could easily argue that Islam, considered both in the aggregate and in terms of its most negative instances, is far more despicable than fundamentalist Mormonism. The Muslim world can match the FLDS sin for sin--Muslims commonly practice polygamy, forced-marriage (often between underage girls and older men), and wife-beating--but add to these indiscretions the surpassing evils of honor killing, female "circumcision," widespread support for terrorism, a pornographic fascination with videos showing the butchery of infidels and apostates, a vibrant form of anti-semitism that is explicitly genocidal in its aspirations, and an aptitude for producing children's books and television programs which exalt suicide-bombing and depict Jews as "apes and pigs."

Any honest comparison between these two faiths reveals a bizarre double standard in our treatment of religion. We can openly celebrate the marginalization of FLDS men and the rescue of their women and children. But, leaving aside the practical and political impossibility of doing so, could we even allow ourselves to contemplate liberating the women and children of traditional Islam?

What about all the civil, freedom-loving, moderate Muslims who are just as appalled by Muslim intolerance as I am? No doubt millions of men and women fit this description, but vocal moderates are very difficult to find. Wherever "moderate Islam" does announce itself, one often discovers frank Islamism lurking just a euphemism or two beneath the surface. The subterfuge is rendered all but invisible to the general public by political correctness, wishful thinking, and "white guilt." This is where we find sinister people successfully posing as "moderates"--people like Tariq Ramadan who, while lionized by liberal Europeans as the epitome of cosmopolitan Islam, cannot bring himself to actually condemn honor killing in round terms (he recommends that the practice be suspended, pending further study). Moderation is also attributed to groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an Islamist public relations firm posing as a civil-rights lobby.

Even when one finds a true voice of Muslim moderation, it often seems distinguished by a lack of candor above all things. Take someone like Reza Aslan, author of No God But God: I debated Aslan for Book TV on the general subject of religion and modernity. During the course of our debate, I had a few unkind words to say about the Muslim Brotherhood. While admitting that there is a difference between the Brotherhood and a full-blown jihadist organization like al Qaeda, I said that their ideology was "close enough" to be of concern. Aslan responded with a grandiose, ad hominem attack saying, "that indicates the profound unsophistication that you have about this region. You could not be more wrong" and claiming that I'd taken my view of Islam from "Fox News." Such maneuvers, coming from a polished, Iranian-born scholar of Islam carry the weight of authority, especially in front of an audience of people who are desperate to believe the threat of Islam has been grossly exaggerated. The problem, however, is that the credo of the Muslim Brotherhood actually happens to be "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."

The connection between the doctrine of Islam and Islamist violence is simply not open to dispute. It's not that critics of religion like myself speculate that such a connection might exist: the point is that Islamists themselves acknowledge and demonstrate this connection at every opportunity and to deny it is to retreat within a fantasy world of political correctness and religious apology. Many western scholars, like the much admired Karen Armstrong, appear to live in just such a place. All of their talk about how benign Islam "really" is, and about how the problem of fundamentalism exists in all religions, only obfuscates what may be the most pressing issue of our time: Islam, as it is currently understood and practiced by vast numbers of the world's Muslims, is antithetical to civil society. A recent poll showed that thirty-six percent of British Muslims (ages 16-24) believe that a person should be killed for leaving the faith. Sixty-eight percent of British Muslims feel that their neighbors who insult Islam should be arrested and prosecuted, and seventy-eight percent think that the Danish cartoonists should have been brought to justice. And these are British Muslims.

Occasionally, however, a lone voice can be heard acknowledging the obvious. Hassan Butt wrote in the Guardian:
When I was still a member of what is probably best termed the British Jihadi Network, a series of semi-autonomous British Muslim terrorist groups linked by a single ideology, I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy. By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the 'Blair's bombs' line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.
It is astounding how infrequently one hears such candor among the public voices of "moderate" Islam. This is what we owe the true moderates of the Muslim world: we must hold their co-religionists to the same standards of civility and reasonableness that we take for granted in all other people. Only our willingness to openly criticize Islam for its all-too-obvious failings can make it safe for Muslim moderates, secularists, apostates--and, indeed, women--to rise up and reform their faith.

And if anyone in this debate can be credibly accused of racism, it is the western apologists and "multiculturalists" who deem Arabs and Muslims too immature to shoulder the responsibilities of civil discourse. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali has pointed out, there is a calamitous form of "affirmative action" at work, especially in western Europe, where Muslim immigrants are systematically exempted from western standards of moral order in the name of paying "respect" to the glaring pathologies in their culture. Hirsi Ali has also observed that there is a quasi-racist double-think on display whenever western powers trumpet that "Islam is peace," all the while taking heroic measures to guard against the next occasion when the barbarians run amok in response to a film, cartoon, opera, novel, beauty pageant--or the mere naming of a teddy bear.

Have you seen the Danish cartoons that so roiled the Muslim world? Probably not, as their publication was suppressed by almost every newspaper, magazine, and television station in the United States. Given their volcanic reception--hundreds of thousands of Muslims rioted, hundreds of people were killed--their sheer banality should have rendered these drawings extraordinarily newsworthy. One magazine which did print them, Free Inquiry (for which I am proud to have written), had its stock banned from every Borders and Waldenbooks in the country. These are precisely the sorts of capitulations that we must avoid in the future.

The lesson we should draw from the Fitna controversy is that we need more criticism of Islam, not less. Let it come down in such torrents that not even the most deluded Islamist could conceive of containing it. As Ibn Warraq, author of the revelatory Why I Am Not a Muslim, said in response to recent events:
It is perverse for the western media to lament the lack of an Islamic reformation and willfully ignore works such as Wilders' film, Fitna. How do they think reformation will come about if not with criticism? There is no such right as 'the right not to be offended; indeed, I am deeply offended by the contents of the Koran, with its overt hatred of Christians, Jews, apostates, non-believers, homosexuals but cannot demand its suppression.
It is time we recognized that those who claim the "right not to be offended" have also announced their hatred of civil society.



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, May 09, 2008

Transgender student is age 9

For comments on this appalling business, see STACLU

For school officials in Haverford Township, the challenge was daunting: What do you do when a 9-year-old student, with the full support of his parents, decides that he is no longer a boy and instead is a girl? Parents of a third-grade student at Chatham Park Elementary School approached the administration on April 16 to ask for help in making a "social transition" for their child.

The Haverford School District consulted experts on transgender children, then sent letters to parents advising them that the guidance counselor would meet with the school's 100 third-grade students to explain why their classmate would now wear girls' clothes and be called by a girl's name. Some parents objected. Eight called the principal to ask that their child not attend the session, and some posted angry messages on the Haverford Township blog. "Why is the school introducing this subject to 8- and 9-year-olds?" wrote the parent who started the blog thread, which had been viewed more than 3,000 times as of yesterday. "Why were we not notified sooner. We received the letter today, the discussion at school is tomorrow."

Other parents thought the school should not have called attention to an already delicate situation. "I did not think that the letter needed to go out," said Valerie Huff, whose daughter is friends with the transgender student. "The kids don't make any big deal about it at all."

Mary Beth Lauer, district director of community relations, said there were no easy answers for school officials. "This is something that was going to come out," Lauer said. "Isn't it better to be proactive, and let people know what is happening and how we're dealing with it?"

The student has not received medical treatments to change his sex, but has told others that he considers himself a girl, according to several people who know the family. He had begun wearing girls' clothes, Huff said, and an approaching school event would have made the child's gender identity an issue, according to Lauer, who declined to discuss the matter in greater detail.

In the April 21 letter to parents, Chatham Park principal Daniel D. Marsella wrote that a transgender child is one whose biological gender does not match his or her gender identity. Marsella assured parents that the talk with students, held two days later, would use "developmentally appropriate language" to explain "how we need to help this student make a social transition in school."

When the guidance counselor, Catherine Mallam, spoke with the children, she explained that one of their classmates looked like a boy on the outside but felt like a girl inside, according to a summary of her remarks prepared by the school for parents. She asked them to accept the student as a girl and not make unkind remarks. The students seem to be accepting their classmate's change, Lauer said. The child is doing well but some comments on the blog have upset the child's parents, Huff said.

About one in 5,000 people is transgender, said Walter O. Bockting, a psychologist and coordinator for transgender health services at the University of Minnesota. Bockting said he sees about 10 children a year who are 9 or younger. "It's a little early, but occasionally that happens," he said. Not all transgender people have sex-reassignment surgery in adulthood, and such surgeries are not typically performed on children, said Sharon Garcia, president of TransYouth Family Allies, a non-profit group that helped the Chatham Park student and school officials devise a way to explain the situation to parents. So far, 49 families have contacted TransYouth Family Allies asking for help with a transgender child, Garcia said. Most of the children are between 6 and 10.

Parents of transgender children often change school districts in order to accommodate a child's desire to switch genders, which is what Garcia said she did when her 5-year old son tried to hurt himself after professing for years that he was a girl. "I have yet to meet a parent who did not fight this kicking and screaming," she said. "None of us want this for our children, none of us want to go there, but it gets to the point where it's not a choice anymore." The child at Chatham Park wanted to stay at the same school because of friends, Garcia said.

Bockting said families of transgender children should consult an expert and carefully consider whether to switch roles before trying it. The child's feelings should be deep and persistent, he said. When a young child seems set on changing his or her sexual identity, he encourages him or her to wait until puberty. "Many transgender people have feelings that date to childhood, but puberty will give an idea how strong the feeling is," he said.

Some medical experts think parents should not let a child change gender roles at a young age. Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studied sexual reassignment surgery in the 1970s, said a school's decision to support a student's transition could have long-term psychological consequences. "They do not have a right to stop the child, but it's different when they gather everyone around and say, 'Johnnie is Jeanie,' " he said. Society, he added, should not support the decision of an immature person. There is no evidence that the transition ultimately helps the person, he added.

McHugh said he reached his conclusions after studying the issue for 30 years, especially in the 1970s, when Hopkins was pioneering sexual-reassignment surgery. "People came to us saying that if we changed them, we'd solve all their problems," he said. "So we changed them, and their problems remained."

Garcia says letting her child dress and act as a girl was the right decision. "I went from a suicidal child to a child who tries out for a lead part in the play," she said. "I knew society wasn't going to be accepting, but my choices were, do this and have a happy, alive girl or have an unhappy, dead boy. So we did what we needed."


What Happened to the Middle East's Jews?

By Barry Rubin

Uh-oh! It's Israel's sixtieth birthday and that means articles on Israel in the news media and, in turn, that may often mean something between inaccuracy and slander. I've been conditioned by now to know what to expect. Let's try a test. Read the following headline from a Reuters story, and guess the theme. Ready? Here we go:

"Israel's Advent Altered Outlook For Middle East Jews." My assumption was that the headline implied a story saying: everything was fine for Jews in the Arab world and Iran until Israel was created and that fact was responsible for forcing them to leave. The article itself isn't that bad, does include material to the contrary, and doesn't directly blame the destruction of these communities on Israel's creation. Yet still this is an implication, no doubt, that many readers will take away from the text which can be found here

Consider this formulation. The article states: "The 1948 war at Israel's creation, which forced some 700,000 Palestinians to flee their homeland, hardened Arab attitudes to deep-rooted Jewish minorities across the Middle East." Get it? First the Palestinians flee and then the Arabs get angry at the Jews. Up to then the Jewish minorities are "deep-rooted" which implies they were well accepted and secure. A couple of paragraphs down the article continues: "Israeli statistics show more than 760,000 Middle Eastern Jews had moved to Israel by 2006, with more than 40 percent arriving in the first three years of the state's existence." So let's summarize:

Step 1: Palestinians become refugees

Step 2: Arabs are angry. (Can you blame them?)

Step 3: They take it out on the Jews or at least these Jews "moved," a word used for when you get a new job, load up the U-Haul and head across town.

In other words, the sins of Israel's creation include both Palestinian Arabs and Middle Eastern Jews becoming refugees, rather than it involving a de facto population transfer with an equal cost to both sides, and in which only the deliberate creation of permanent refugee status for Palestinians by their own leaders and Arab states produced prosperity on one side and ongoing problems for the other. What this concept also leaves out, at least in part, is:

* Centuries'-long discrimination against Jews, ranging from the mild to the violent, including forced conversions at times, a problem Moses Maimonides was dealing with nine hundred years ago. Of course, as in Europe, there were long periods (certainly in Iraq and Egypt, for example) in which Jews fared very well. This is not to say that all Jews lived terribly among their Arab neighbors but clearly this was a major factor in their lives. A strong current of anti-Semitism in Islam long preceded the origin of Zionism.

To be fair the article does say:

"In the past, Moroccan Jews were considered subordinate to Muslims and discrimination was widespread. Every city has its Mellah, the poorest quarter to which Jews were once confined. Their residents were the first to leave when they could." And it mentions that "Over 120,000 [Iraqi Jews] were flown to Israel after 1948 when government persecution intensified.

* Rising Arab nationalism which was not all or mostly, in contrast to what the article seems to argue, due to Zionism or Israel's creation. Even the secular nationalist movements had a strong tinge of Islam also, certainly so in North Africa, which made it hard to believe that Jews would be welcome in the future regardless of Israel.

It should be noted that Christians, too, have been pushed out of the Arab world and often treated badly, though their treatment varies widely among different countries. Indeed, leaving aside Egypt, the proportion of Christian emigration approaches that of Jewish emigration. There is a serious problem with intolerance in Arabic-speaking countries and a dominant "secular" nationalism (with some exception for Syria and Lebanon) that in fact discriminates against non-Muslims. Even if Israel had never been created, a high proportion of Jews would certainly have left or been forced to leave.

* No mention of major violent incidents like the 1941 pogrom in Baghdad or a massacre a few years later in Yemen. Nor does it mention that Yemeni Jews had to flee their homes a few weeks ago to avoid being murdered or kidnapped. Or is there the story of how Jews tried to escape Syria, Iran, and other places, sometimes at the cost of their lives. Nor does it include the executions of Jews in Iraq, a trauma which shattered the remaining post-1948 community there.

* The stress of being a dhimmi, meaning the need to shut your mouth and keep a low profile, again parallel to the deformations of Jewish life in Europe. But the article quotes Jews in Morocco (no anti-Semitism) and Iran (everyone is treated ok) who clearly cannot speak honestly.

For example, in Iran several Jews were arrested as spies without evidence and tortured while some historic synagogues were recently bulldozed out of existence. Don't these people really feel scared? Of course, these interviews are like asking people in Iraq a decade ago what they thought of Saddam or finding out that everyone was just delighted with Stalinist Russia, things journalists in those times actually did do.

Now to be fair the article, as I said I've seen much worse, does state: "Hundreds of thousands of Jews were displaced. Some migrated voluntarily from mainly Muslim countries to the newly proclaimed Jewish homeland. Others were forced out by dispossession, discrimination or violence. Thousands stayed on." Clearly, the great majority, however, were forced out. What percentage stayed on? Less than one-tenth.

A key problem with the currently accepted narrative on Middle East history can be seen in a little two-line statement of fact: "Conflict in Palestine in the 1930s made life harder for Egyptian Jews, as militant nationalist groups became active."

This relates the rise of militant nationalism to the conflict. Certainly, this was a factor (I wrote a whole book on it, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict), but militant nationalism was due to far more than just the Palestine conflict. And this doesn't even mention the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s, seeking to transform Egypt into an Islamist state. It was first and foremost a response to conditions at home and to the kind of society that Arab activists wanted to build. As such, it is parallel to revolutionary, Communist, fascist, and nationalist movements in Europe and other places, all of which existed without Israel as a catalyst.

Those two lines are a very powerful theme today: everything Arabs or Muslims do is merely a response to what Israel (or the West) does and not an expression of their own beliefs and goals. This robs others of their history, under the guise of humanitarian egalitarianism, and puts the blame on others for everything that happens.

Here's another example: "Jewish emigration accelerated after Israel attacked Egypt in 1956 and economic pressures mounted at home."

While there is some truth in the statement the "economic pressures" was the fact that the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled all non-Egyptians, not only Jews but large numbers of Greeks and others, due to xenophobia and militant nationalism.

Even in tiny phrasing choices--admittedly a matter of judgment but the judgments almost always go in the same direction--are certain assumptions present. Consider this phrase: "Iran, seen by Israel as its deadliest foe...." But since the issue here is Iranian Jews why not write: "Iran, which views Israel as its deadliest foe...." From which direction, after all, does the aggressive view come?

The article could easily have drawn a parallel between the Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians. Both were refugees but the Jews rebuilt their lives rather than nursing grievances and pursing violence for decades. Moreover, one could say that their sufferings and claims balance those of the Palestinian Arabs. None of these arguments--very commonplace in discussion of these issues among Middle East-origin Jews--are presented.

Again, I don't mean to exaggerate the problems with this article, which does at least present the issue and some of the points that should be made. But it also shows weaknesses in dealing with Israel, some of the assumptions on which the contemporary hostile narrative is based.


Why we need a shield law for journalists

By Arlen Specter

There is some merit in Senator Specter's argument below but a "shield" would encourage journalists to make stuff up even more than they do already

The importance of a free press is so woven into the fabric of our history that Americans often take it for granted. But when we observe fledgling democracies around the world, Americans can see just how essential a free media are to democracy -- and how easily they can be chilled. If we are to have a free press, it is necessary to protect the relationship between journalists and trusted sources to whom journalists have promised confidentiality. For this reason, every state but Wyoming has established some form of reporters' privilege.

The federal courts are split, however, on whether reporters have a common-law privilege to withhold information from a federal court. Attorneys general of 34 states recently urged the Supreme Court to recognize a federal reporters' privilege because the lack of a federal standard undermines state shield laws and the public interest embodied in those laws. It takes only a few well-publicized cases of the government or federal courts forcing reporters to reveal confidential sources -- Time's Matt Cooper; former New York Times reporter Judith Miller spending 85 days in jail; or former USA Today reporter Toni Locy being ordered to pay up to $5,000 for each day she remains silent, with no contributions allowed from her employer, family or friends -- to chill those who have important things to say.

Certainly the courts should compel disclosures in cases involving acts of terrorism, exigent circumstances or leaks of classified information that undermine our national security. Courts should compel disclosure if a journalist commits a crime or is an eyewitness to a crime. And, of course, journalists should not be "above the law." To clarify any suggestions to the contrary, there will no doubt be modifications to the bill that was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee 15 to 4 last October. It is also notable that the House passed a similar media shield bill last year by a vote of 398 to 21.

All three of the presidential candidates have endorsed a federal shield law. They acknowledge, as do my other colleagues in the Senate who support this bill, that we must seriously consider the concerns raised by the attorney general. Federal courts routinely balance liberty and security. When time is of the essence and the stakes are high, courts typically defer to the factual judgments and expertise of those better situated to make certain decisions. But the courts need guidance from Congress regarding the standards they should apply to the varying facts and circumstances -- to the evidence -- when a reporter refuses to reveal confidential sources. That is what a media shield bill would do. It would not be a drastic change in the law, but it would be an important one.


From Welfare State to Police State

Family fragmentation costs taxpayers at least $112 billion annually in antipoverty programs, justice and education systems, and lost revenue, according to a report released last week. Astonishingly, the report's publisher, Institute for American Values, is using these findings to advocate even higher costs, through more federal programs.

As welfare and child support enforcement programs show, there is zero proof that further government intervention into families would be a good investment for taxpayers. After more than a decade of welfare reform, out-of-wedlock births remain at record highs, and married couples now comprise less than half the nation's households. "The impact of welfare reform is now virtually zero," says Robert Rector of Heritage Foundation. Welfare reform, as currently conceived, cannot possibly make a difference. Out-of-wedlock births no longer proceed only from low-income teenagers. Increasingly, middle-class, middle-aged women are bearing the fatherless children. This excludes children of divorce, which almost doubles the 1.5 million out-of-wedlock births.

The problem is driven not only by culture, but by federal programs not addressed by welfare reform-such as child support enforcement, domestic violence, and child abuse prevention-which subsidize single-parent homes through their quasi-welfare entitlements for the affluent. It's not called the welfare "state" for nothing. Even more serious than the economic effects has been the quiet metamorphosis of welfare from a system of public assistance into a miniature penal apparatus, replete with its own tribunals, prosecutors, police, and jails.

The subsidy on single-mother homes was never really curtailed. Reformers largely replaced welfare with child support. The consequences were profound: this change transformed welfare from public assistance into law enforcement, creating yet another federal plainclothes police force without constitutional justification.

Like any bureaucracy, this one found rationalizations to expand. During the 1980s and 1990s-without explanation or public debate-enforcement machinery created for children in poverty was dramatically expanded to cover all child-support cases, including those not receiving welfare. This vastly expanded the program by bringing in millions of middle-class divorce cases. The system was intended for welfare-but other cases now account for 83% of its cases and 92% of the money collected.

Contrary to what was promised, the cost to taxpayers increased sharply. By padding their rolls with millions of middle-class parents, state governments could collect a windfall of federal incentive payments. State officials may spend this revenue however they wish. Federal taxpayers subsidize state government operations through child support. They also subsidize family dissolution, for every fatherless child is another source of revenue for states.

To collect, states must channel not just delinquent but current payments through their criminal enforcement machinery, subjecting law-abiding parents to criminal measures. While officials claim their crackdowns on "deadbeat dads" increase collections, the "increase" is achieved not by collecting arrearages of low-income fathers already in the system, but simply by pulling in more middle-class fathers-and creating more fatherless children.

These fathers haven't abandoned their children. Most were actively involved, and, following what is usually involuntary divorce, desire more time with them. Yet for the state to collect funding, fathers willing to care for them must be designated as "absent." Divorce courts are pressured to cut children off from their fathers to conform to the welfare model of "custodial" and "noncustodial." These perverse incentives further criminalize fathers, by impelling states to make child-support levels as onerous as possible and to squeeze every dollar from every parent available.

Beyond the subsidy expense are costs of diverting the criminal justice system from protecting society to criminalizing parents and keeping them from their children. The entitlement state must then devise additional programs-far more expensive-to deal with the social costs of fatherless children. Former Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Wade Horn contends that most of the $47 billion spent by his department is necessitated by broken homes and fatherless children. One might extend his point to most of the half-trillion dollar HHS budget. Given the social ills attributed to fatherless homes-crime, truancy, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide-it is reasonable to see a huge proportion of domestic spending among the costs.

These developments offer a preview of where our entire system of welfare taxation is headed: expropriating citizens to pay for destructive programs that create the need for more spending and taxation. It cannot end anywhere but in the criminalization of more and more of the population.



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, May 08, 2008

Loyalty oath is outdated

I fail to see what a compulsory oath achieves. A dishonest person would rattle it off without a qualm. And under the 1st Amendment it is probably unconstitutional anyway -- denying freedom of religion.

Some Sacramentans might remember the plight of Zari Wigfall, a college student at Sacramento City College in 1994. She had gotten a campus job as a peer counselor assistant but, as a Jehovah's Witness, she refused to sign California's Cold War-era "Oath of Allegiance" required of all public employees. She was fired after a week. Later, when she signed on as a theater house manager, the same thing happened. Because of her religious beliefs, she lost two public jobs.

A decade later, a California State University, East Bay, math teacher and practicing Quaker was fired over the oath of allegiance. She said she would support and defend the constitution, but only nonviolently. After public outcry over her dismissal, she was reinstated to her job. But the oath remains, a remnant of anti-communist Cold War hysteria in the late 1940s and 1950s. Now the Los Angeles Times reports that yet another Quaker teacher has been fired over the oath, this time at California State University, Fullerton.

The Fullerton firing is one more reason to get rid of the 1952 oath of allegiance that assumes California "faces a clear and present danger" that communists will "infiltrate" public jobs with the aim of establishing a "totalitarian dictatorship."

Senate Bill 1322 by state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would eliminate that archaic language and delete membership in the Communist Party as a reason for dismissing a public employee. California is the only state that allows public employees to be dismissed for membership in a political party. Those who act to overthrow the government by force or violence could still be dismissed. SB 1322 is expected to come up for a Senate vote Thursday. It's time to get past the era of "red-baiting," where mere membership in an organization - without any action to incite or commit a crime - forces public employees to surrender basic constitutional rights (including freedom of speech and freedom of association).

The Legislature should pass this bill and then work on getting the 1952 loyalty oath out of the California Constitution.


Eminent Psychiatrist Says Homosexuality is a Disorder that Can be Cured

The eminent Spanish psychiatrist Enrique Rojas gave a speech yesterday in Buenos Aires declaring that homosexuality is "a clinical process that has an etiology, pathogeny, treatment, and cure". Speaking at the Buenos Aires International Book Fair about his book "Goodbye, Depression", Rojas characterized homosexual orientation as a "disorder" rather than an illness, and stated his opinion that 95% of cases are caused by environmental factors, according to the Spanish news service Terra. The disorder, according to Rojas, is the result of an absent father, overweening mother, or sexual abuse in childhood.

Rojas blasted the homosexual movement for promoting the development of homosexual tendencies in young people, and particularly condemned the practice of allowing homosexual couples to adopt children. The child is deprived of a right to grow up "in a normal environment, heterosexual, which is the standard" he said. "Heterosexuality is what is normal, the natural condition of human bengs."

According to studies from the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, there is a 70-80 percent chance that a child adopted by homosexuals will develop the same tendencies, Rojas said. Rojas is the author of various books on psychology, including "Who Are You?", "The Light Man" and "Remedies for Coldness".


Peacenik violence to be investigated

Move America Forward has received a response through our lawyers that the Department of Justice is taking on the case of defending military recruiters from attacks by far-left anti-war groups, anarchist groups and socialist organizations that have undertaken to hurl rocks, smash windows, splatter paint, deface, graffiti, plant bombs, slash tires, harass, and otherwise make life hell for recruiters.

The letter, received last week by MAF's lawyers, advises that the concerns that MAF brought to the desk of the US Attorney's offices, have been passed on to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for further "review and appropriate action".

Move America Forward's Executive Director Catherine Moy said, "We were very pleased to hear that the Department of Justice is taking our findings seriously, and we will make ourselves available to the FBI in full cooperation, to share with them all the evidence and reports we have collected so that federal investigators can conduct a full and thorough investigation into the anti-American wrongdoings of certain groups and individuals."

When Move America Forward began researching and putting together "The Sedition Report" earlier this year, it quickly became clear that not only were attacks on recruiting centers are increasingly violent and continue to escalate, but that the attacks seemed to be orchestrated by a number of groups acting in consortium. MAF also produced this ad exposing the concerted effort to target recruiters.

Then we staged a press conference in Washington DC to spread awareness about what we had found. While often times you hear about a recruiting center being attacked here and there, it was easy to dismiss them as isolated incidents. However, when put together in a single document, one can see the disturbing trends and coordination apparent.

After our press conference in DC was invaded by members of Code Pink -who did their best to make a scene-because they were obviously afraid of having their seditious actions exposed to the world, MAF had lawyers draft a letter to US Attorneys asking them to investigate and take action and held another press conference in San Francisco.

Melanie Morgan, Catherine Moy, and MAF supporters were able to meet with and speak with Justice Department officials who were very interested to hear some of the information we had collected.

Now that the FBI is getting involved, Move America Forward expects that investigators will indeed find incidences of wrongdoing and that the organizers of many of these organizations may be brought up on charges of sedition, treason, or conspiracy to commit. We will continue to encourage the Justice Department to pursue anti-war criminals with full vigor to ensure that no laws have been broken in the exercise of the free speech rights of those groups.

This should also serve as a warning message to Code Pink, World Can't Wait, MoveOn and others, to watch what they say and do, and to stop supporting America's enemies, because groups like Gathering of Eagles, MAF and Free Republic ARE watching!!


The Fascist instinct is never far beneath the surface with the Left

Freedom of the press? Who cares about that? Certainly not the Leftist government of the State of Western Australia

Believe it or not, Perth has become the toughest environment in the country in which to practise the public service of journalism. The boom state has become the goon state, where standover and intimidation against the media is the Labor Government's weapon of choice. Police raids by armed officers on busy newsrooms, secret telephone tapping, grilling of reporters by Corruption and Crime Commission investigators that can't be reported - or even whispered to wives, husbands or, incredibly, bosses and employers - are becoming commonplace.

The days of the cabinet leak are over. Clarification: the days of the leak not organised by the Government Media Office are over, particularly those that have the potential to cause electoral pain to a Government led, ironically, by the former journalist Alan Carpenter. It is a sign of the times that many senior working journalists in WA take it as a given that their mobile phones are being, or have been, bugged. Evidence given to the CCC over the past two years confirms that what would have been a silly, paranoid suggestion only a matter of years ago is now an undeniable possibility.

Wednesday's raid on The Sunday Times newsroom by armed officers was overkill bordering on the ridiculous. The Department of Premier and Cabinet wants the CCC and police to catch those responsible for leaking a relatively innocuous yarn about Treasurer Eric Ripper wanting more taxpayers' money for advertising should the Government go to the polls early.

Several other senior journalists at the paper - and at least three at The West Australian, two at commercial television stations and one at the ABC - have over the past two years been dragged into the CCC's St George's Terrace HQ or confronted at home and told to answer questions under the 2003 CCC Act. If they refuse, they can be arrested.



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, May 07, 2008

Homeland Security's Muslim advisors contradicted new terror lexicon

American Thinker publishes today Joseph Myers' critical assessment of Homeland Security's new terror lexicon, "Strategic Collapse in the War on Terror", as it published my own analysis, "Flying Blind in the War on Terror", last week. This new lexicon adopted by both Homeland Security and the State Department's Counterterrorism Communications Center, directs government employees to cease using the terms "jihad", "jihadist", and "mujahedeen" to describe Islamic terrorists.

The memos were publicly released by Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project on Friday, but inquiries by Emerson about which Muslim leaders exactly advised Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff on this widely criticized policy were rebuffed. But past news reports have identified at least some of the Muslim advisors consulted by Homeland Security, and at least two of these advisors made recommendations that directly contradict the new policy. Last June, the San Francisco Chronicle identified four of Chertoff's Muslim advisors: Shahed Amanullah, Akbar Ahmed, M.J. Khan, and Resa Azlan. And in direct opposition to the new government terror lexicon, at least two of these Muslim advisors recommended using "jihadist" to describe Islamic terrorists, as that is the term used by most Arab Muslims today:
Starting the conversation about terrorism is problematic. The term "Islamofascism," used by President Bush and others, offends Muslims who believe their faith condones no violence and other religions are rife with examples of terrorism. Many Muslims also reject terms such as "Islamic terrorism," "Islamist terrorists" or "Muslim terrorists" for the same reason.

Amanullah and Reza Aslan, author of "No god but God" and a professor of religion and creative writing at the UC Riverside, prefer the term "jihadist."

Many Muslims object to it because it modifies the Islamic term "jihad," which refers to an inner struggle -- not a military one. But "jihadist" has been widely adopted in the Arab world as a way to describe terrorists, said Aslan.
This raises serious questions about how exactly Homeland Security arrived at its conclusions, when the very Muslim advisors it solicited advocated for the very terminology that Chertoff has now banned. Who exactly advised them in favor of this new lexicon? Could it be the case that these Muslim advisors were brought in to provide cover to a policy that had already been predetermined?

Needless to say, this new revelation could be a devastating blow. As Michelle Malkin observed this past week, even the President himself violated the new guidelines this week. Before Chertoff and his minions start congratulating themselves on their extravagant feat of appeasement and political correctness, they should consider that the applause they believe they hear is the sound of one hand clapping.


Kansas Supreme Court blocks abortion coverup

Planned Parenthood shrinks from the light of day

In what is being called a "huge victory for the rule of law", this morning the Kansas Supreme Court unsealed a secret lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against District Attorney Phill Kline. Planned Parenthood was seeking to have the Court order Kline to return abortion records that are critical evidence in Kline's prosecution of 107 criminal charges against the abortion giant.

Instead, the Court rejected a letter from former Attorney General Paul Morrison "exonerating" Planned Parenthood, indicating that the records showed no criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood. Morrison then engaged in acts meant to force the evidence from Kline's possession in order to cover up criminal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood, who had supported his election campaign. "Every judge that has reviewed the evidence has ruled that there is probable cause to believe that crimes have been committed by Planned Parenthood," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for June 12. The abortion records were subpoenaed by Kline when he was attorney general. When still the attorney general, Kline received permission from Judge Richard Anderson to forward the records to the Johnson County District Attorney's office, with the court's full knowledge that Kline had been appointed to that post. Planned Parenthood secretly sued Kline to get the records back, a suit that was joined first by Morrison, and then by Attorney General Stephen Six after Morrison's resignation due to a sex and corruption scandal.

"It is wrong that the subject of a criminal investigation should be allowed to misuse secret proceedings to harass a prosecutor with falsehoods and spurious personal attacks as Planned Parenthood has done," said Newman. "Now that this case has been unsealed, we trust that the truth of Planned Parenthood's wrongdoing and the obstructionist attitude of the Attorney General's office will finally come out."

"The mantra from the AG's office has always been that the records must be returned in order to protect patient privacy, but that couldn't be further from the truth. All patient identifying information was redacted long ago. One has to wonder about the integrity of the attorney general's office that continues to promulgate such untrue statements," said Newman. "In the interest of justice, Kline's evidence must be allowed to be seen in a court of law at the time of trial and let a judge and jury decide. That's the American way," said Newman.


More British "safety" paranoia

For thousands of years people have used bridges made from split tree trunks to cross the small streams and rivers that cross Dartmoor. Now the last surviving "clam bridge" is to be closed to walkers because of 21st-century compensation culture, although there is no record of serious injury to anyone using it. The 20ft-long oak timbers of the bridge in the village of Lustleigh in Devon straddle the River Bovey at a point that has probably been used as a crossing since the Bronze Age more than 2,500 years ago.

The bridge will be sealed off this week despite protests by villagers who say that it is part of Dartmoor's heritage. It is being closed because no one will accept ownership for fear of being sued if anyone falls off. The bridge would have been demolished but for a campaign by residents of Lustleigh and nearby Manaton. More than 470 people signed a petition to save it.

Engineers from Devon County Council condemned the bridge because its simple design and single handrail did not conform to modern British Standards. Last year they installed a steel bridge, which cost œ35,000 and had to be lowered into place by helicopter. The county council then said that it would no longer accept responsibility for repairs to the old bridge, whose timbers need to be replaced every 20 years or so.

Dartmoor National Park Authority agreed to help the two local parish councils to pay for repairs but only if the bridge was closed. It also refused to accept any liability for its use.

Nick Hewison, a member of Lustleigh Parish Council who has campaigned to save the bridge, said: "We have achieved our first objective by preventing the clam bridge being demolished. The National Park are now offering to help to repair it but the issue is what happens afterwards. It's the last bridge of its kind on the moor and it is likely that something very similar has crossed the river for hundreds of years, maybe thousands.

"We didn't think there was a need for the new bridge but the county council say they have to comply with safety standards. They have changed fundamentally an idyllic corner of Dartmoor. Dartmoor National Park has a duty to preserve the beauty, culture and heritage of the moor but they have been more concerned with risk and that threatened to override their responsibilities. "This is a footbridge in a remote part of Dartmoor only accessed by a very rocky path which is probably more risky than crossing the bridge. The subtlety of its history seemed to escape the officials, who felt that since it was replaced every 20 years it could not be all that old. That is like saying a thatched house is only as old as when its roof was last replaced. "The bridge is mentioned in the oldest guides to Dartmoor and within 500 yards of it on either side are Bronze Age stone circles."

A report to the national park authority said that there had been cases of people and dogs falling off the old bridge, which became submerged and impassable at high water levels. It added: "The new bridge provides a safe, accessible route across the river which is appropriate to modern needs."


Young Australians 'losing' male role models

This is right. What male in his right mind would be a schoolteacher these days? And suspicion of queer scoutmasters keeps a lot of kids away from Scouts

The social development of many young Australians may be stunted because potential male role models will not engage with them for fear of being wrongly accused of child abuse. Men are worried about putting themselves in positions where such an allegation may be levelled against them, either within families and more broadly at school or in social settings such as team sports, warns Australian Institute of Family Studies director Alan Hayes.

This may add to the problems of the current generation of children, who are more anxious and have more developmental problems and mental health issues than previously, he says. In a paper presented to the Australian Family Law conference, Professor Hayes notes that while the significance of harm caused by child abuse should not be underestimated, the public focus on shocking instances has wider ramifications, particularly on the raising of boys.

"Within families, concern over child sexual abuse has ... altered the nature of relationships and the behaviour of fathers and male members of extended families particularly," he writes in the paper, to be published this week in the AIFS Family Matters series. "There is a sense in which families have also been touched by what, at times, can be an overly fearful focus on child abuse. "Beyond the family, the changes have been even more marked, with increasing anxiety surrounding children's interaction with their teachers, clergy and coaches, among others. "The fear of accusations of sexual abuse may be one driver ... for the decline in the proportion of males entering teaching."

Professor Hayes says the reported levels of child abuse in 2006-07 -- 309,517 notifications and 58,567 substantiated cases involving 32,585 children -- underestimates the prevalence of the problem. He says Aboriginal children are among those most at risk. But this, he says, represents 0.7per cent of the child population aged 0-16. "While there can be no room for complacency about a situation such as this in a nation with the advancement and wealth we possess, the unanticipated negative effects on the rest of the population also cannot be ignored."

He says the problem is most acute for the nearly 30 per cent of children growing up in single-parent households or households with a step-parent. "For both boys and girls, especially those growing up in sole-parent families, the lack of male role models is of concern."

Professor Hayes says other factors are making the current generation of children's lives more challenging, including the fact that more children are being born into disadvantaged homes.



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, May 06, 2008

The Tuskegee experiment on black syphilitics was the result of the "Progressive" wisdom of the day

Initial comment below by Jonah Goldberg. Follow the various links for more info:

People who've read my book know that one of its major themes is how liberals never take ownership of their errors. Rather, they ascribe their errors to the long bill of indictment of America's sins. They then use these sins to justify - what else? - more liberalism. Conservatism is wrong. America is wrong when it is conservative. But liberalism endures blameless, sinless and pointing ever upward toward goodness, truth and light.

There are few better examples of this tendency than the use and abuse of the Tuskegee experiments. I cannot begin to count the number of conversations with liberals I've had where they've used Tuskegee in just this way. Anyway, that's what my column is about today. An excerpt:
The infamous Tuskegee experiment is the Medusa's head of black left-wing paranoia. Whenever someone laments the fact that anywhere from 10 percent to 33 percent of African Americans believe the U.S. government invented AIDS to kill blacks, someone will say, "That's not so crazy when you consider what happened at Tuskegee."

But it is crazy. And it's dishonest. Wright says the U.S. government "purposely infected African-American men with syphilis." This is a lie, and no knowledgeable historian says otherwise.

And yet, this untruth pops up routinely. In March, CNN commentator Roland Martin defended Wright, saying, "That actually did, indeed, happen." On Fox News, the allegation has gone unchallenged on Hannity & Colmes and The O'Reilly Factor. Obery Hendricks, a prominent author and visiting scholar at Princeton University, told O'Reilly "I do know that the government injected syphilis into black men at the Tuskegee Institute. Now we know that the government is capable of doing those things."

To which O'Reilly responded: "All right. All governments have done bad things in every country."
True enough. And what the U.S. did at Tuskegee was indeed bad, very bad. But it didn't do what these people say it did. Source

Jonah follows up some points above here and here

Something else that is seldom mentioned about the Tuskegee experiment:
It takes little imagination to ascribe racist attitudes to the white government officials who ran the experiment, but what can one make of the numerous African Americans who collaborated with them? The experiment's name comes from the Tuskegee Institute, the black university founded by Booker T. Washington. Its affiliated hospital lent the PHS its medical facilities for the study, and other predominantly black institutions as well as local black doctors also participated. A black nurse, Eunice Rivers, was a central figure in the experiment for most of its forty years.


By Barry Rubin

If I would choose one article in the Western media that I have read over many decades as the worst piece of anti-Israel propaganda of all, it might well be Karin Laub’s April 26, 2008 piece, “Palestinian plight is flip side of Israel's independence joy.” Why? Because many articles have slandered Israel on various points or told falsehoods ranging from the disgusting to the humorous or been based on assumptions that were at odds with the truth. But in this case, the article encapsulates the way in which much of the world has turned from admiration to loathing of Israel, and the way in which Israel’s destruction—which in other contexts would be seen as genocidal—has been justified.

Sound exaggerated? No doubt, reading the above two paragraphs would shock the author who, I believe, had no conscious intention of perpetuating such a verbal atrocity. It is, once again, the unchallenged myths that are blithely assumed, that do so much damage.

Let me explain, first briefly and then at length. Israel is the only country in the world which is regularly slated for extermination and it is certainly the one most reviled. Without entering into a discussion of why such extraordinary double standards are maintained the core issue is that Israel is allegedly an illegitimate country because it is founded on the theft of other’s property and the suffering of other people.

This is the modern equivalent of the blood libel, which held that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood for the Passover matzoh. But if that myth is too exotic for people remember that its “secular” equivalent was responsible for even more anti-Semitic persecution. That was the idea that any Jewish prosperity was based on the blood-sucking of Christian peasants or of society at large. In this case, Israel is said to have murdered, ethnically cleansed and otherwise persecuted the Palestinians. Therefore, nothing it does can be good, no achievement of itself counts, and it has no right to self-defense. Obviously, such claims are often greatly diluted but nonetheless rest on this basis.

The Laub article is a systematic restatement of this thesis. To begin with, it is extraordinarily long for an AP article, 1,724 words. If this isn’t a record for an AP dispatch, it must be up near the top. Obviously, this is a message that the AP editors are especially eager to convey: that everything Israel has is at Palestinian expense.

That this is a lie can be explained on many levels but at least two must be presented here. First, why is this measure applied only to Israel, and certainly only to Israel on an existential basis? It is well-known, certainly, that Germany has taken responsibility for Nazi crimes, and also there are applications for reimbursement of Jewish property seized in eastern Europe during the Nazi period.

Yet most countries are founded on expropriation, often of Jewish property. For example, Oxford University, where recently debates were conducted calling for Israel’s destruction, was started on property stolen from Jews expelled in 1290. Far more recently, many Arab states received a huge infusion of capital from the expropriation of Jewish property after Israel’s creation. Does France’s or Britain’s or Belgium’s independence day require discussion of colonial depredations? We don’t read articles that Japan’s independence day is blighted by Chinese or Korean suffering, though the Japanese did engage in mass murder of those people. What about the fact that every country in the Western Hemisphere is based on the suffering of the indigenous natives? Or even in the case of Russia, given Czarist and Soviet behavior? In no case, however, is far worse behavior said to have poisoned any other country’s very existence.

But perhaps even more important is the question of where true responsibility for Palestinian suffering lies. Here is how Laub’s article begins:
“JALAZOUN REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank - Mohammed Shaikha was 9 when the carefree rhythm of his village childhood, going to third grade, picking olives, playing hide-and-seek , was abruptly cut short. Uprooted during the 1948 war over Israel's creation, he's now a wrinkled old man. He has spent a lifetime in this cramped refugee camp, and Israel's 60th independence day, to be celebrated with fanfare on May 8, fills him with pain.

"For 60 years, Israel has been sitting on my heart. It kicked me out of my home, my nation, and deprived me of many things," he said. And each Israeli birthday makes it harder for 70-year-old Shaikha and his elderly gin rummy partners in the camp's coffee house to cling to dreams of going back to Beit Nabala, one village among hundreds leveled to make way for the influx of Jewish immigrants into the newborn Jewish state.”
Well, let us ask the following questions: How did Shaikha leave his “carefree” utopia of Palestine? Most likely because his parents decided to get out of the way while, they expected, the Jews were exterminated by Arab armies. He was in fact “kicked out” by an Arab decision to reject partition—in which case at worst he would be living as an Arab citizen of Israel and at best, depending on where he lived, be a citizen of Palestine celebrating its own sixtieth birthday.

Consider a worst-case alternative history: Mohammaed Shaikha sat in his nice house and recalled how in 1948 his familyleft its village and moved a few miles into a village in the new state of Palestine. “It was rough for a while,” he said. “But with the compensation money we got for making peace and aid from Arab states I was able to build a very nice life for myself.”

In fact, it was the Palestinian and Arab leadership which—in contrast to every other refugee situation in modern history—insisted on keeping these people suffering and in refugee camps to use as political pawns. They, too, rejected every offer of peace and resettlement. For example, if Yasir Arafat had negotiated a solution on the basis of the framework proposed at Camp David in 2000, Shaikha and the other refugees would have shared out over $20 billion in compensation and a Palestinian state might be celebrating its seventh birthday. The PLO refused—a policy pursued since 1993 by the Palestinian Authority—to move people out of refugee camps. They must be kept there as tools with which to blame Israel and also to continue the fires of hatred and violence burning. A hint of the truth is inadvertently given in the article—though not explained—by a Palestinian ideologue:
“Anthropologist Sharif Kaananeh urges his fellow Palestinians to take the long view and learn from Jewish history: "If they waited 2,000 years to claim this country, we can wait 200 years."
During those 2,000 years, however, Jews whenever possible built up their own lives and acted peacefully and productively. In Kaananeh’s version, he is willing to keep Shaikha and his descendants in refugee camps for 200 years. And why not since the media will blame their suffering on Israel and provide it as a reason why Israel should disappear or make endless concessions or be denied full support despite the assault on itself.

By the way, this is what the author prettifies as “perseverance” as if it were something admirable. Don’t make a peaceful compromise; keep fighting and spilling blood unless or until you achieve total victory. In any other situation, this would be decried as a foolish, bloodthirsty, and fanatical world view. If the Palestinians want to make this their strategy they certainly should not be allowed to blame this on Israel. The true nakba (catastrophe) was not Israel’s creation but the Arab failure to create Palestine and their continuation of conflict to this day. But only Israel is branded, in effect, as a war criminal nation. In this light, the hateful and vicious attacks on it make sense.

Yet why don’t we see the following headline: “Israeli plight a flip side of Palestinian celebration,” or substitute “Israeli plight is flip side of [insert name of any Arab state name or Iran]” or “Israeli [or Jewish] plight is flip side of [insert name of any European state]”? This could be followed with interviews of displaced Jews (living in poverty since they never left post-World War Two refugee camps in Europe or the transit camps built in Israel to house Jewish refugees from the Arab world. Or interviews with Israelis who were maimed or whose families were murdered in wars or terrorist attacks? For, indeed, Israeli misery is built on the support of terrorism and hatred by Arab states, the incitement to murder and appeals for genocide among Palestinian groups.

Even in direct Palestinian terms, the irony doesn’t stop. The same week as this article was written, it was reported (by Reuters) that while Arab states have promised $717.1 million in aid to the Palestinians, only $153.2 million, that is a bit more than 20 percent, was actually delivered. If Palestinians are not well-off perhaps this is what one must examine, or at least acknowledge. How about this: “The 1948 war had largely separated Israelis and Palestinians, except for some 150,000 Palestinians who stayed put and became Israeli citizens.” No mention of the fact that those Israeli Palestinians have prospered.

And this: “The symbols of occupation, settlements, army bases, roadblocks, are visible across the West Bank.” No mention of the fact that Israel has withdrawn from large parts of the West Bank, in all the populated areas (except a section of Hebron) Palestinians have had self-government, with massive international aid for 14 years!

And this: “Palestinians under Yasser Arafat took to bombings and hijackings to make the world notice their existence….” So the sole purpose of terrorism was as a misguided public relations’ campaign so the world would take pity on Palestinian suffering, not an attempt to destroy Israel.

Or this, “Few refugees can realistically expect to go home again, because Israelis fear being swamped by a mass repatriation.” That makes the Palestinian predicament especially harsh, said Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency which helps the Palestinian refugees.” While at least a motive is given for Israel’s refusal (though not that the problem here is not just a massive influx of Palestinians might overwhelm social services but that the “returnees” goal would be turning Israel into a Palestinian Arab nationalist or Islamist state through violence), no other alternative is presented, not even resettlement in an independent Palestine. That last point was, after all, the whole idea of the 1990s’ peace process. But the reporter collaborates with the Palestinian line: the only two choices are suffering or total victory, wiping out all other options.

I could literally write a book on the misstatements and misleading basis of this article. But it can be summarized as follows: This is the Palestinian narrative adapted by a large sector of the American media, as well as academia: It is a zero-sum game in which either Israel must be eliminated or poor Palestinians suffer. That the continued conflict—and their own suffering--is due to Palestinian actions or that it could be resolved by the kind of compromises Israel has long been advocating (and Palestinians rejecting) and taking risks to bring about is not mentioned. Equally, the perspective that Palestinian radical leadership (by both Fatah and Hamas) and doctrine must be eliminated as the source of Israeli suffering is understated or ignored.

The real victim here is both Israelis and Palestinians. The real cause of the suffering is Arab state intransigence and the kind of Palestinian leadership, strategy, goals, ideology, and behavior that this and so many media stories extol. Remember that the poisonous forest of hatred and violence grow from the acorns of articles like this.


Modern Liberalism at Wit's End

A BOOK REVIEW of a very mixed-up book: "The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics" by that self-confessed Leftist hater, Jonathan Chait

Chait's "true story" has only one point of confluence with our world: Supply-side economics -- if by that we mean tax cuts without spending cuts (aka the tax-cuts-will-pay-for-themselves doctrine) -- is indeed "crackpot economics." A theory that assumes what it has to prove, it has been rejected by virtually all economics departments -- as Chait correctly notes (p. 21). He even writes: "To be sure, economics departments are filled with conservatives who very much favor smaller government. But none of them share the basic supply-side view...." And yet the rest of his book -- its "thesis" -- soars past the stratosphere to cast supply-side sophistry as the unifying orthodoxy of "conservatism" and its ultimate implementation: the Republican administration of George W. Bush.

Recalling Daniel Bell's 1963 talk of the "ideology" of the "right-wing Republicans," Chait laments that now "those right-wing Republicans have taken control of the party..." (p. 235). Say what?! The Goldwaterites were big-spending supply-siders? This, when Chait himself affirms that the theory "emerged from the writings and discussions of [Arthur] Laffer, [Jude] Wanniski, and the late Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Robert Bartley" (p. 22)? Nor is the GOP today in the hands of the "New Right" activists of the Reagan era: Howard Phillips and Richard Viguerie praise Ron Paul, not "presumptive nominee" John McCain (or "Dubya" himself, for that manner). Indeed, the president's embrace of supply-side isn't even his father's famous dismissal of it as "voodoo economics."

A thinking man would now begin to acknowledge the multiplicity of factors uniformly labeled "conservatism." But Chait thinks not. Conservatism is a "totalistic ideology" that "resembles that of communism much more than liberalism" (p. 236). Why, just consider: "It's no surprise that a disproportionate number of conservative intellectuals were once communists -- first, the National Review crowd in the 1950s (Whittaker Chambers, James Burnham, Frank Meyer, Wildmoore [sic] Kendall), then the neoconservatives of the 1970s (former Trotskyists Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz). They simply exchanged the primacy of the state for the primacy of the market."

Possibly this is an attempt to conscript red-baiting into the service of contemporary liberalism, but certainly it is fiction. Neither Chambers nor Burnham was in any significant way a free-market enthusiast, and Kendall, who favored Rousseau over Adam Smith, believed in the primacy of the majority. But this slant on the neocons! Kristol has written explicitly ("The Neoconservative Persuasion") that he and his fellow neocons do not dread the "growth of the state" and regard it as "natural, indeed inevitable." He disavowed such limited-government icons as Goldwater and even Hayek. In short, the "neoconservatives" believe in the same fundamentalism as the "liberal" Chait: the primacy of the mixed economy.

So, what's all this about the primacy of the "market"? Elsewhere in the book (p. 48), Chait informs us that the economic policy of current conservatism is "nothing that a Friedrich Hayek or a Milton Friedman would recognize as his own." And in a discussion of this conservatism's "material self-interest" (pp. 76-79) -- which is actually a listing of a few examples of corporate welfare under Bush 43 -- he asks, "How, one might wonder, could anybody regard this great mass of government subsidies as a triumph of the free market?" Rhetorician, answer thyself.

The best we get is this: "The rise of the business lobby has distorted -- and, finally, corrupted -- the Republican Party...," which is true -- if we were talking about the Progressive Era. But regarding that period Chait rehearses a superstition that puts the flat-Earth faithful to shame: "[M]any of the reforms the Progressives set in place were met by fierce opposition from corporations. Yet eventually much of the business community accepted them ... [including] reasonable regulation." "This history," he explains, "runs against the mythology ... in which American business is seen as a constant, thoroughly evil, and near omnipotent force" (pp. 48-50).

Chait's "history" has been exposed as mythology itself by the scholarly research of historian Gabriel Kolko, who documented how the Progressive regulatory agencies were "invariably controlled by leaders of the regulated industry, and directed toward ends they deemed acceptable or desirable ... [mostly] because the regulatory movements were usually initiated by the dominant businesses to be regulated," e.g., the Interstate Commerce Commission and the railroad industry. Kolko's work was embraced by free-market economists from the conventional Friedman to the radical Murray Rothbard, who all stressed the same point: Big Business loves "business regulation" (especially the funded-by-taxpayers and crippling-to-smaller-competitors parts). Chait concedes that by the Johnson administration corporate support for regulation became obvious to all, but he characterizes the regulation as something corporations accepted altruistically because they sincerely believed it benefited the "country as a whole." Yup, that's what he writes. Only under George W. Bush has corporatism become the special-interest pursuit of privileges for connected businesses.

Chait often frames Bush policies as outrages for which there's been no Democratic counterpart. "In 2003, Bush and the Republican Congress enacted a bill extending Medicare coverage to prescription drugs, representing the largest expansion of entitlements in nearly forty years" -- so much for the "primacy of the market," to say nothing of popular charges of rolling back the welfare state. Yet Chait is indignant that the legislation also contained "hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies to health insurance companies, the prescription drug industry, and other supplicants" (p. 65). Does he really imagine that the current administration invented corporate welfare? That Democrats never threw a bone to Big Business while throwing one to the little guy? That people are delusional when they note the corporate ties of both parties? (Not for more than a polemical moment, after which he's left with only the argument that "Republican style" contemporary pork is porkier than Democratic "[c]lassic pork.") Since Chait never brings up Kelo, he at least doesn't blame Bush for the Court liberals' gifting corporations with "property rights" to other people's property.

The upshot of all this is to project onto "conservatism" the policies of what has been called "corporate liberalism" by virtually everyone but the corporate liberals themselves (though there is something to be said for Ralph Nader's preferred term: "corporate socialism"). This becomes glaring when Chait finally acknowledges the many conservatives who see President Bush as an enemy. But look at how he spins it. Once, conservatives revered George W., as exemplified by how "National Review's David Frum called Bush 'a resolute and even heroic president'" (p. 239). But then something happened: "After his reelection in 2004, Bush's popularity sank and his legislative agenda ground to a halt. In the conservative mind there was only one possible explanation: Bush had abandoned the faith. As the liberal writer Rick Perlstein has observed: 'Conservatism never fails. It is only failed.' ... The conservative press reverberated with denunciations of him as an ideological turncoat.... A previously unknown and unimaginable genre appeared: the conservative anti-Bush book, with titles like Imposter [by Bruce Bartlett] or Conservatives Betrayed [by Richard Viguerie]."

Let's get this absolutely straight: The Big Government "neoconservatives" who supported Bush then, support him now (in some cases with an obligatory qualification or two), and the libertarians and "paleoconservatives" who oppose him now, opposed him then. The point is not which side is right about the good or ill of the Bush presidency, but that both sides are right in recognizing whose ideas he embraces ... and whose he rejects.

But again, Chait refuses to make any such distinctions. He wants us to accept that "conservatism" has failed, that Bush never "abandoned" it, but in fact sustained it. Meaning ... what? That the president repealed all government involvement in the economy back to pre-Progressive levels -- and now we're all suffering the catastrophic results? Here's where Chait's notion of supply-side economics as the defining tenet of "conservatism" reaches its climax. He insists that the theory constitutes the "starve-the-beast strategy, which is the essential premise of conservative domestic policy. But the conservatives could not admit that their own theory had fallen short, that the strategy and the assumptions behind it had failed." Now to get this straight: The "essential premise" of supply-side -- viz., that at a certain point, a rise in taxes lowers revenue -- was a "strategy" to increase the efficiency of, not abolish or even just reduce, the great beast Leviathan.

Chait himself acknowledges (p. 109) that "when [supply-siders] have the opportunity to preach their case to liberals, they are happy to argue that tax cuts would produce a gusher of revenue that could fund more generous programs" -- a Medicare bill expanding both entitlements and subsidies, let's imagine. In stark contrast, the "essential premise" of "conservative domestic policy" (i.e., free-market reforms, rejected by corporate liberals and "neoconservatives" alike) has for decades been the very slaying of Leviathan. The biggest con is the conflation of these opposites as "conservatism," whether the perp's an Irving Kristol -- or our author. We won't find any support for a supply-side-as-starvation theory from Bartlett (who, contrary to Chait's blatant misrepresentation, in fact writes that "tax cuts actually seem to cause spending increases," which Chait should know: Imposter bears a cover blurb from him) or Viguerie or Victor Gold (Invasion of the Party Snatchers, which calls for a GOP committed "to the economic realism of Milton Friedman and Herb Stein, not the irresponsible debt-and-deficit economics of Arthur Laffer and Robert Mundell").

Chait simply cannot face the truth: George W. Bush the "conservative" is a conservator of corporate liberalism/socialism. Not raising taxes is his only break with tradition. Were Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, or even Bill Clinton the current president -- heck, we might as well go and throw in the Republicans (e.g., Nixon, to belabor the obvious) -- the nation would be exactly where it is today ... except with higher taxes.

It's not a matter of only economic policy. George Bush II is no Robert Taft II. He has become -- yes, in abandonment of his pre-election statements (e.g., America cannot "go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you") -- the stalwart of an aggressive foreign policy, i.e., the policy of the iconic liberals above (as acknowledged by even Spite Right firebrand Ann Coulter). It was his Rockefeller Republican father who sent troops into Iraq -- and Democrat Clinton who kept them actively bombing there (to say nothing of the U.S. intervention in the Balkans). We forget that his sending of additional troops was originally presented as the escalation of a military action that had been in progress since Saddam had invaded Kuwait. We forget -- or at least they now hope we forget -- that mainstream liberals Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Edwards voted for "his war in Iraq" (as Michael Kinsley dubs it in the cover blurb). And we should remember that it was the libertarians (e.g., Ron Paul, Milton Friedman) and "paleoconservatives" (e.g., Pat Buchanan, Samuel Francis) -- i.e., "right-wing Republicans" -- who opposed it. Again, the point is not which side made the wiser decision, but which side took which position.

And yet nothing dissuades Chait from his core premise: the polarity of all "conservatism" and all "liberalism" -- not even his inability to provide coherent definitions. The former is drawn so broadly as to include not only the conflicting thinkers we've seen thus far, but also Religious Right and other "right-wing" elements. However, despite all these different ideologies, he characterizes conservatism as an "ideological sect," with debate limited to only a few specific issues (p. 237). Liberalism, on the other hand, is drawn to exclude Marxists (p. 129) and "[l]eft-wing social activists and campus radicals" (p. 134), yet he calls it an "ideological coalition." What, then, is the ideology holding this "coalition" together? Answer: "[T]here is no agreed-on definition of what liberalism means." Oh. So liberals "freely accuse each other of all sorts of ideological sins" -- even though they literally don't know what they're talking about. Well, you can't say that Chait's book isn't proof of its own contention. (For a discussion of the inability of modern liberalism to maintain any philosophic integrity, see my "Liberalism: The Slippery Slope to the Left.")

Forget coherence -- you can't credit Chait even with any originality. Hasn't a certain Berra-esque deja vu crept in by now? You can discover its source by going to David Horowitz's May 15, 1998 essay -- on Up From Conservatism by Michael Lind. It's all there in the book: monolithic-extremist conservatives vs. centrist liberals ("consensus liberals," in Chaitspeak [p. 231]). It didn't take much sweat on Horowitz's part to wield example after example of "conservative" disagreements to hack away at the monolith Lind imagined. For what it's worth, Chait can find roughly the same point -- viz., that the only things "conservatives" have ever shared are a common tag and (from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall) a common enemy -- in the August 31, 1992 John Judis article in a journal called The New Republic.

Chait insists that conservatism and liberalism differ in "not just goals but epistemologies" (p. 235). And what could that possibly mean at this point? "Conservatives," he elucidates, "believe government simply has no right to insert itself into economic life the way it has since the New Deal" -- evidently even when the party they "have taken control of" enacted "the largest expansion of entitlements in nearly forty years." He quotes as a representative of this belief Milton Friedman -- that's right, the same man earlier portrayed as a thinker discarded by today's conservatives. (Taking in the book's proliferating contradictions, you have to wonder if editors these days worry about anything other than dangling participles.) So, what does he have Friedman say? This: "Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself." Chait tells us that this (sans-context) statement shows that conservative beliefs about the harmfulness of government intervention in the economy, "while deeply held, are not necessarily determinative." And as for what that means, he pulls his trump, a quotation from Andrew Sullivan: "If faster growth were caused by a bigger government, a conservative would still back smaller government and individual freedom. Similarly, my hostility to a progressive income tax is because I believe it's hubristic over-reach. Why should a government have the power to penalize some individuals for their relative success while rewarding others for relative failure?" Now Chait reaches for the jackpot:

"So while conservatives believe, say, that progressive taxes inhibit incentives to work, they would not change this view even if it were proven wrong, because buttressing their position is a deeper belief about the immorality of big government.

Liberal support for bigger government, on the other hand, is entirely rooted in what liberals believe to be its practical effects. They support regulations on pollution because they believe it will improve air quality. They support tax credits for the working poor because they believe they will raise income for such workers. If liberals were to be convinced those programs failed to achieve their intended goals, they would withdraw support for them. Increasing the size of government does not, in and of itself, serve any greater purpose. Conservatives regularly cite the size of government as a measuring stick -- bigger government means they are failing, smaller government means they are succeeding. Liberals don't think this way. For them, bigger government is a means, not an end."

This is what we've been waiting for, isn't it? "Liberals" are open-minded and humanitarian; "conservatives," fanatically committed to their one nostrum and thus ultimately indifferent to its possible harmful effects on human well-being. For Chait, the conflict of the present age isn't between ideas true and false, but between people good and evil.

It is perverse that an author who so focuses on economics should essentially dismiss, rather than refute, the economic (i.e., "practical effects") argument of his opponents -- even when they are economists (e.g., Friedman, who in fact has always been a strong proponent of empirical falsification). The caricature that Chait draws from Sullivan's idiosyncratic statement -- an entity who would champion the market economy even if it were shown to starve the masses -- reflects no capitalist economist, from Adam Smith to Mark Skousen. Even the "moralist" defenders of the free market, those who do indeed maintain a "belief about the immorality of big government," do not ignore "practical effects." After all, what was Atlas Shrugged but a demonstration of the consequences -- for everyone, not just the John Galts -- of a collectivized economy?

On the flip side: Do liberals resemble Chait's portrait of them? Consider the nature of economic debate to date. Free-market economists still explain why, for example, the minimum wage won't help the poor, and "practical effects" liberals still respond that we need the minimum wage because the poor need help. So, does the hope that it helps the poor prove that it helps the poor? Does it prove at least that liberals are good people? (It is beyond the pale to speculate whether liberals are limiting their benevolence to the special interests of Big Labor.) Can liberals "be convinced [such] programs [have] failed to achieve their intended goals"?

In his Everything for Sale (which contains just such an it-helps-the-poor-because-the-poor-need-help advocacy of the minimum wage, including a total failure to address any of the arguments against it), Robert Kuttner seems to regard the law of unintended consequences not as a sober reality, but as a self-evident absurdity, which he mocks as the "Perversity Thesis": Claim a law will do something and "conservative" contrarians reflexively assert it will do the opposite. (Kuttner and kind might care to ponder the late-2007 AP reports that the "shortage of National Health Service dentists" in the U.K., which began when "[m]any dentists abandoned Britain's publicly funded health care system after reforms backfired in April 2006," has left a "growing number of Britons without access to affordable care." The reforms, e.g., a guaranteed income for dentists, were an "effort to increase patients' access." Even more thought-provoking is "Health Status, Health Care and Inequality: Canada vs. the U.S." from the National Bureau of Economic Research.)

So now the question about "bigger government" liberals becomes: Is there no "deeper belief" -- the immorality of a "common good" that's only the "sum of selfish individual goods" (Kuttnerese for any values pursued by free individuals) and the superior ethic of a "collective good" (ditto for anything imposed by majoritarian state coercion); uniformity of wealth/poverty; punishment for the sins of "materialism" and "greed"; or the above implied -- buttressing their position? As for Friedman, he was by no means declaring (at the very beginning of Capitalism and Freedom) that "economic freedom" is the supreme value irrespective of its "practical effects" on people's lives; rather, it is not only "an end in itself," but "also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom" (emphasis added).

He rejected further the false dichotomy between freedom and "material welfare," and libertarians today reject in turn that between morality and practicality -- fundamentally, I would contend, between ethics and economics. That's because the two sciences are studying merely different aspects of the same reality, the same nature -- human nature. They can no more conflict than physics and chemistry. It is a "deeper belief" (explicit or implicit) in some standard of morality that determines both "intended goals" and the means to achieve them. As one liberal conscious of the need to account for the morality-practicality nexus, Kuttner subtitled another book False Choices Between Prosperity and Social Justice. Now, as to which ethic -- individual freedom or "social justice" -- truly coexists with economic abundance, one answer has long been clear: the contrast between the pro-prosperity Old Left and the pro-austerity New Left and its fellow travelers (e.g., affluence foe John Kenneth Galbraith, the Salieri of economics, now so irrelevant as to not even merit a mention from Chait). Here the supporters of "bigger government" continued to "back" it despite the demonstration of its actual relation to "growth."

Had Chait tried to understand his free-market subjects, he would have seen that for them limited government is not a fetish, but the yin to the yang of a thriving civil society -- in whole, a "free and prosperous commonwealth" (Ludwig von Mises). But he preferred to scribble his caricatures. Ultimately, Chait is not an FDR, JFK, LBJ, or even Clinton liberal -- he's a Norman Lear liberal. His conception of "conservatives" and "liberals" is no less one-dimensional than the characterization of Archie Bunker and son-in-law Mike. As stereotypes, they work not to educate or challenge others, but only to confirm one's own prejudices.

All this is not to say that Chait hasn't taught us anything inadvertently. Recall how he spoke of an ideology that "resembles that of communism." Indeed: a crafted mythology as official history; government growth as a declared inevitability; administration of the masses economically (professedly to benefit the lower classes, really to establish a political elite); the use of the term socialization to denote usurpation by the State of the institutions of society; the invocation of "wrecker" saboteurs ("reactionaries" and "conservatives") to prove that statism never fails, but is only failed; militarism in the service of "pacification." Corporate socialism and Communist socialism are of course not twin totalitarianisms, but they are kindred Orwellianisms: Fantasy is Reality -- reality, fantasy. Let us not be too surprised if Mr. Chait's next book-signing is at a convention -- seated right next to Peter David.


Australia: Imams say that the naughty bits in Islamic tradition must not be mentioned

The usual Islamic/Leftist respect for free speech, intellectual diversity and open discussion of ideas (NOT)

ANGRY Muslim groups have attacked the University of Western Sydney over an Islamic studies course they claim is too sexually explicit, promotes lesbianism and derides the Koran as misogynistic. Students, community members and the Australian National Imams Council have complained about the content of the course, Women in Arabic and Islamic Literature, being taught at the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies. They say it gives a negative view of women in Islam.

The imams council has circulated a petition recording its "deep concern with regards to the course structure and content", saying it involved "repeated and unjustified attacks upon Islam". Another group, Muslims for Peace, has branded the centre as "evil" and demanded lecturer Samar Habib be dismissed and the course abolished. "Now that its wicked nature should be crystal clear for all to see, Muslims should fear Almighty Allah and break all connections with this diabolical centre of Kufr (non-believers)," a bulletin on the Muslims for Peace website reads.

Dr Habib has declined to comment. UWS executive dean of the College of Arts Wayne McKenna said that, although the university was yet to receive a direct complaint, it was examining the content of the course.

The NCEIS, set up last year with federal government funds, operates out of three universities: the University of Melbourne, Griffith University in Queensland and UWS. It was established to advance knowledge and understanding of Islam and to play a leadership role in public debate on contemporary Islam. The course includes excerpts from The Perfumed Garden by Sheik Nafzawi, a book on Arabian erotica written in the 16th century and translated into English in 1886 that has been likened to the Indian Kama Sutra.

Dr Habib, who has written her PhD thesis on female homosexuality in the Middle East and has written an introduction in an erotic lesbian novel published overseas entitled I Am You, has been accused of promoting lesbianism. Homosexuality is forbidden in the Koran for both sexes. Dr Habib has also been accused by Muslims for Peace of teaching that it is not obligatory to wear the hijab, that the Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet Mohammed) are just Chinese whispers and that Muslim scholars can be ignored because they are males.

University of Melbourne's Sultan of Oman professor of Arab and Islamic studies, Abdullah Saeed, said concerns about the course had been raised at the centre's community consultative committee meeting this week. "Everyone has a right to express their opinion and views and that is what is happening," Professor Saeed said. "One of the essential things is to uphold academic freedoms and intellectual freedoms of students and the staff."

The imams council does not believe the course represents the normative traditional Islam as practised by most of the world's Muslim population. "The subject's emphasis on sexuality and its explicit sexual content is not reflective of normative Islam, which is what we thought the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies would attempt to portray," ANIC president Sheik Moez Nafti wrote.



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, May 05, 2008

Is the Criminal-Justice System Racist?

By Heather Mac Donald

The race industry and its elite enablers take it as self-evident that high black incarceration rates result from discrimination. At a presidential primary debate this Martin Luther King Day, for instance, Senator Barack Obama charged that blacks and whites "are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences . . . for the same crime." Not to be outdone, Senator Hillary Clinton promptly denounced the "disgrace of a criminal-justice system that incarcerates so many more African-Americans proportionately than whites."

If a listener didn't know anything about crime, such charges of disparate treatment might seem plausible. After all, in 2006, blacks were 37.5 percent of all state and federal prisoners, though they're under 13 percent of the national population. About one in 33 black men was in prison in 2006, compared with one in 205 white men and one in 79 Hispanic men. Eleven percent of all black males between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison or jail. The dramatic rise in the prison and jail population over the last three decades--to 2.3 million people at the end of 2007 (see box)--has only amplified the racial accusations against the criminal-justice system.

The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement, and even prison itself. None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny. The black incarceration rate is overwhelmingly a function of black crime. Insisting otherwise only worsens black alienation and further defers a real solution to the black crime problem.

Racial activists usually remain assiduously silent about that problem. But in 2005, the black homicide rate was over seven times higher than that of whites and Hispanics combined, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. From 1976 to 2005, blacks committed over 52 percent of all murders in America. In 2006, the black arrest rate for most crimes was two to nearly three times blacks' representation in the population. Blacks constituted 39.3 percent of all violent-crime arrests, including 56.3 percent of all robbery and 34.5 percent of all aggravated-assault arrests, and 29.4 percent of all property-crime arrests.

The advocates acknowledge such crime data only indirectly: by charging bias on the part of the system's decision makers. As Obama suggested in the Martin Luther King debate, police, prosecutors, and judges treat blacks and whites differently "for the same crime."

Let's start with the idea that cops over-arrest blacks and ignore white criminals. In fact, the race of criminals reported by crime victims matches arrest data. As long ago as 1978, a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim identifications and in arrests--a finding replicated many times since, across a range of crimes. No one has ever come up with a plausible argument as to why crime victims would be biased in their reports.

Moving up the enforcement chain, the campaign against the criminal-justice system next claims that prosecutors overcharge and judges oversentence blacks. Obama describes this alleged postarrest treatment as "Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others." Jena, Louisiana, of course, was where a D.A. initially lodged second-degree murder charges against black students who, in December 2006, slammed a white student's head against a concrete beam, knocking him unconscious, and then stomped and kicked him in the head while he was down. As Charlotte Allen has brilliantly chronicled in The Weekly Standard, a local civil rights activist crafted a narrative linking the attack to an unrelated incident months earlier, in which three white students hung two nooses from a schoolyard tree--a display that may or may not have been intended as a racial provocation. This entrepreneur then embellished the tale with other alleged instances of redneck racism--above all, t! he initial attempted-murder charges. An enthusiastic national press responded to the bait exactly as intended, transforming the "Jena Six" into victims rather than perpetrators. In the seven months of ensuing headlines and protests, Jena became a symbol of systemic racial unfairness in America's court system. If blacks were disproportionately in prison, the refrain went, it was because they faced biased prosecutors--like the one in Jena--as well as biased juries and judges.

Backing up this bias claim has been the holy grail of criminology for decades--and the prize remains as elusive as ever. In 1997, criminologists Robert Sampson and Janet Lauritsen reviewed the massive literature on charging and sentencing. They concluded that "large racial differences in criminal offending," not racism, explained why more blacks were in prison proportionately than whites and for longer terms. A 1987 analysis of Georgia felony convictions, for example, found that blacks frequently received disproportionately lenient punishment. A 1990 study of 11,000 California cases found that slight racial disparities in sentence length resulted from blacks' prior records and other legally relevant variables. A 1994 Justice Department survey of felony cases from the country's 75 largest urban areas discovered that blacks actually had a lower chance of prosecution following a felony than whites did and that they were less likely to be found guilty at trial. Following conv! iction, blacks were more likely to receive prison sentences, however--an outcome that reflected the gravity of their offenses as well as their criminal records.

Another criminologist--easily as liberal as Sampson--reached the same conclusion in 1995: "Racial differences in patterns of offending, not racial bias by police and other officials, are the principal reason that such greater proportions of blacks than whites are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned," Michael Tonry wrote in Malign Neglect. (Tonry did go on to impute malign racial motives to drug enforcement, however.) The media's favorite criminologist, Alfred Blumstein, found in 1993 that blacks were significantly underrepresented in prison for homicide compared with their presence in arrest.

This consensus hasn't made the slightest dent in the ongoing search for systemic racism. An entire industry in the law schools now dedicates itself to flushing out prosecutorial and judicial bias, using ever more complicated statistical artillery. The net result? A few new studies show tiny, unexplained racial disparities in sentencing, while other analyses continue to find none. Any differences that do show up are trivially small compared with the exponentially greater rates of criminal offending among blacks. No criminologist would claim, moreover, to have controlled for every legal factor that affects criminal-justice outcomes, says Patrick Langan, former senior statistician for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Prosecutors and judges observe the heinousness of a defendant's conduct, for example, but a number-crunching researcher has no easy way to discover and quantify that variable.

Some criminologists replace statistics with High Theory in their search for racism. The criminal-justice system does treat individual suspects and criminals equally, they concede. But the problem is how society defines crime and criminals. Crime is a social construction designed to marginalize minorities, these theorists argue. A liberal use of scare quotes is virtually mandatory in such discussions, to signal one's distance from primitive notions like "law-abiding" and "dangerous." Arguably, vice crimes are partly definitional (though even there, the law enforcement system focuses on them to the extent that they harm communities). But the social constructivists are talking about all crime, and it's hard to see how one could "socially reconstruct" assault or robbery so as to convince victims that they haven't been injured.

Unfair drug policies are an equally popular explanation for black incarceration rates. Legions of pundits, activists, and academics charge that the war on drugs is a war on minorities--a de facto war at best, an intentional one at worst.

Playing a starring role in this conceit are federal crack penalties, the source of the greatest amount of misinformation in the race and incarceration debate. Crack is a smokeable and highly addictive cocaine concentrate, created by cooking powder cocaine until it hardens into pellets called "rocks." Crack produces a faster--and more potent--high than powder cocaine, and it's easier to use, since smoking avoids the unpleasantness of needles and is more efficient than snorting. Under the 1986 federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act, getting caught with five grams of crack carries a mandatory minimum five-year sentence in federal court; to trigger the same five-year minimum, powder-cocaine traffickers would have to get caught with 500 grams. On average, federal crack sentences are three to six times longer than powder sentences for equivalent amounts.

The media love to target the federal crack penalties because crack defendants are likely to be black. In 2006, 81 percent of federal crack defendants were black, while only 27 percent of federal powder-cocaine defendants were. Since federal crack rules are more severe than those for powder, and crack offenders are disproportionately black, those rules must explain why so many blacks are in prison, the conventional wisdom holds.

But consider the actual number of crack sellers sentenced in federal court each year. In 2006, 5,619 were tried federally, 4,495 of them black. From 1996 to 2000, the federal courts sentenced more powder traffickers (23,743) than crack traffickers (23,121). It's going to take a lot more than 5,000 or so crack defendants a year to account for the 562,000 black prisoners in state and federal facilities at the end of 2006--or the 858,000 black prisoners in custody overall, if one includes the population of county and city jails. Nor do crack/powder disparities at the state level explain black incarceration rates: only 13 states distinguish between crack and powder sentences, and they employ much smaller sentence differentials.

The press almost never mentions the federal methamphetamine-trafficking penalties, which are identical to those for crack: five grams of meth net you a mandatory minimum five-year sentence. In 2006, the 5,391 sentenced federal meth defendants (nearly as many as the crack defendants) were 54 percent white, 39 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black. But no one calls the federal meth laws anti-Hispanic or anti-white.

Nevertheless, the federal crack penalties dominate discussions on race and incarceration because they seem to provide a concrete example of egregious racial disparity. This leads to a commonly expressed syllogism: crack penalties have a disparate impact on blacks; disparate impact is racist; therefore, crack penalties are racist. This syllogism has been particularly prominent recently, thanks to the U.S. Sentencing Commission's 2007 decision to lighten federal crack penalties retroactively in the name of racial equity.

The press has covered this development voraciously, serving up a massive dose of crack revisionism aimed at proving the racist origins of the war on crack. Crack was never a big deal, the revisionist story line goes. But when Boston Celtics draft pick Len Bias died of a crack overdose in 1986, the media went into overdrive covering the crack phenomenon. "Images--or perhaps anecdotes--about the evils of crack, and the street crime it was presumed to stoke" circulated, as the New York Times archly put it in a December 2007 article. A "moral panic" (Michael Tonry's term) ensued about an imaginary threat from a powerless minority group. Whites feared that addicted blacks would invade their neighborhoods. Sensational stories about "crack babies" surfaced. All this hysteria resulted in the unnecessary federal crack penalties.

Since the 1980s, the revisionist narrative continues, experts have determined that powder and crack show more pharmacological "similarities than differences," in the Times's words, and that crack is no more damaging to fetuses than alcohol. The belief that crack was an inner-city scourge was thus a racist illusion, and the sentencing structure to quell it a racist assault. Or, as U.S. District Judge Clyde Cahill put it, in what one hopes is not a representative sample of the federal judicial temperament: "Legislators' unconscious racial aversion towards blacks, sparked by unsubstantiated reports of the effects of crack, reactionary media prodding, and an agitated constituency, motivated the legislators . . . to produce a dual system of punishment."

Leave aside the irony of the press's now declaring smugly that the press exaggerated the ravages of crack. (The same New York Times that now sneers at "images--or perhaps anecdotes--about the evils of crack" ran searing photos of crack addicts in 1993 that included a woman kneeling before a crack dealer, unzipping his fly, a baby clinging to her back; such degraded prostitutes, known as "strawberries," were pervasive casualties of the epidemic.) The biggest problem with the revisionist narrative is its unreality. The assertion that concern about crack resulted from "unconscious racial aversion towards blacks" ignores a key fact: black leaders were the first to sound the alarm about the drug, as Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy documents in Race, Crime, and the Law. Harlem congressman Charles Rangel initiated the federal response to the epidemic, warning the House of Representatives in March 1986 that crack had made cocaine "frightening[ly]" accessible t! o youth. A few months later, Brooklyn congressman Major Owens explicitly rejected what is now received wisdom about media hype. "None of the press accounts really have exaggerated what is actually going on," Owens said; the crack epidemic was "as bad as any articles have stated." Queens congressman Alton Waldon then called on his colleagues to act: "For those of us who are black this self-inflicted pain is the worst oppression we have known since slavery. . . . Let us . . . pledge to crack down on crack." The bill that eventually passed, containing the crack/powder distinction, won majority support among black congressmen, none of whom, as Kennedy points out, objected to it as racist.

These politicians were reacting to a devastating outbreak of inner-city violence and addiction unleashed by the new form of cocaine. Because crack came in small, easily digestible amounts, it democratized what had been a rarefied drug, making an intense high available to people with very little money. The crack market differed radically from the discreet phone transactions and private deliveries that characterized powder-cocaine distribution: volatile young dealers sold crack on street corners, using guns to establish their turf. Crack, homicides, and assaults went hand in hand; certain areas of New York became "like a war zone," retired DEA special agent Robert Stutman told PBS's Frontline in 2000. The large national spike in violence in the mid-1980s was largely due to the crack trade, and its victims were overwhelmingly black inner-city residents.

Though the elites are furiously rewriting crack history, many people who lived through it are not. In April 2007, Los Angeles prosecutor Robert Grace won the conviction of a crack dealer who had raped and strangled to death ten strawberries between 1987 and 1998. The "crack epidemic was one of the worst things that happened to the black and brown community," Grace asserts. Matthew Kennedy managed an infamous public housing project in Watts during the crack epidemic. "Some of us remember how bad it was," he says. When children avoid school for fear of getting shot by drug gangs, "you've just lost that generation." Lawrence Tolliver has witnessed his share of shootings outside his South Central barbershop. "Sometimes it was so bad you had to scout the horizon like a gazelle at a watering hole in Africa," he recalls.

It takes shameless sleight of hand to turn an effort to protect blacks into a conspiracy against them. If Congress had ignored black legislators' calls to increase cocaine-trafficking penalties, the outcry among the groups now crying racism would have been deafening. Yes, a legislative bidding war drove federal crack penalties ultimately to an arbitrary and excessive point; the reduction of those penalties is appropriate. But what led to the crack-sentencing scheme wasn't racism but legal logic. Prosecutors rely on heavy statutory penalties to induce defendants to spill the beans on their criminal colleagues. "An amazing public spirit is engendered when you tell someone he is facing 150 years to life but has the possibility of getting out after eight if he tells you who committed a string of homicides," says Walter Arsenault, who headed the Manhattan district attorney's homicide-investigation unit in the 1980s and 1990s.

More here

Impostors in the church

There have always been some of these -- particularly among the Anglican clergy -- but they are getting more open and are now found in other churches. But to most people of faith they are simply laughable

There is a Bible on a pedestal in Gretta Vosper's West Hill United Church in Toronto. She would prefer it did not have a special place, she said, because it is just a book among other books. In a similar way, the cross that is high above the altar has no special meaning, but there are a few older congregants for whom the Bible and the cross are still nice symbols so there they remain.

Though an ordained minister, she does not like the title of reverend. It is one of those symbols that hold the church back from breaking into the future -- to a time "when the label Christian won't even exist" and the Church will be freed of the burdens of the past. To balance out those symbols of the past inside West Hill, there is a giant, non-religious rainbow tapestry just behind the altar and multi-coloured streamers hang from the ceiling. "The central story of Christianity will fade away," she explained. "The story about Jesus as the symbol of everything that Christianity is will fade away."

The head of the United Church of Canada, David Giuliano, who went to divinity school with Ms. Vosper 20 years ago, said if he felt the way that she does, he would not be a minister. But it is not his job to condemn, he said, and the church is structured in such a way that complaints have to come from the congregation before any action can be taken. And so far there have been no complaints. He also sees the United Church, considered the most liberal of the mainline Protestant churches, as broad enough to encompass a wide range of theologies. Even Rev. Giuliano agrees that the name Christian -- which carries the baggage of colonialism and other ills -- should probably be phased out. Instead, he would replace "Christian" with "Follower of the Way" or "Follower of Jesus."

But it is an absolute certainty that Ms. Vosper would not go for "Follower of Jesus." Ms. Vosper does not believe in the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the miracles and the sacrament of baptism. Nor does she believe in the creeds, the presence of Christ in communion or that Jesus was the Son of God. In With or Without God, her book that was formally launched this week, she writes that Jesus was a "Middle Eastern peasant with a few charismatic gifts and a great posthumous marketing team."

The Bible is used in her services, but it gets rewritten to be more contemporary and speak to more people. Even the Lord's Prayer -- also known as the Our Father -- does not make the cut because it creates an image of a God who intervenes in human existence. And then there is the "Father" part that is not inclusive language and carries with it the notion of an overbearing tyrant who condemns people to hell. So why exactly does she still call herself a Christian, let alone a minister?

"I could leave the Church because I don't hold those orthodox understandings," she said. "[But] I think that in a generation or so we might stop using the term Christian, and I hope, perhaps we will stop using labels for every religious tradition. There is nothing wrong with a faith tradition evolving.

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Modern Britain: No Laughing Matter

Earlier generations of Britons believed that certain things simply could not happen in Britain. Even in the country's darkest moments of war or depression, this conviction differentiated the then proud nation from the U.S.S.R., third world countries, and unstable regimes that might fall to dictatorship any moment. News blackouts, and the banning of a book or film of course occurred here or there, but these never seemed very serious events.

When the Thatcher government banned the sale of the novel, Spycatcher, in Britain, it was smuggled into the country from abroad, and reported in the press despite legal challenges. Humor was the public's usual way of dealing with such things, and the banning of a book that most people could get ahold of, turned politics into a laughing stock. And not for the first or last time either. Before the outbreak of the Second World War, when Oswald Moseley's "black shirt" fascists were parading through London, Lady Astor commented that if they should ever gain power the British people would die laughing. How prophetic this was. A few years later Charlie Chaplin denounced and mocked the Nazis in his film, The Great Dictator, even as prime minister Neville Chamberlain sought to win "peace for our time" by appeasing Hitler.

In the 1980s and early 1990s the satirical puppet show, Spitting Image, which mocked the politicians of the time, became a staple of television viewing, even for those who generally did not like television that much. The puppets were grotesque, but politics at that time - and before that time - was raw, unscripted. Thatcher, like other leaders, spoke from the gut as well as the brain, and the picture was not always pretty, but it was human, and it represented the British people. In an excellent op-ed piece for The Daily Mail recently, Lord Tebbit - Thatcher's once right-hand man - spoke of his love for his puppet-portrayal as a "leather-clad bovver boy," his dismay at the banal, politically correct, mainstream parties who seem indistinguishable from one another, and constant political failings that are, "so ridiculous that it is beyond satire."

Political correctness has cowed society and politics, and trodden down common sense and humor. Unlike the defiant, bawdy Brit of the past, today he thinks before he speaks, running through the list of forbidden words, and making sure not to let one slip. And so much now is taboo. The English Democrats Party is under investigation for racism, for using the term, "tartan tax," a student was arrested for calling a police horse "gay," and, if you need to see the proof of such extreme "politically correct" intolerance, a Youtube video showing a young man being arrested for singing, "I'd rather wear a turban" (deemed racist by the arresting officer), can be seen here.

A common language is one of the traditional, defining marks of a nation, and the criminalization of words will have a very profound consequence for the British. Though rarely acknowledged as such, humor is another defining mark, and one that makes use of the nation's language in particular ways that relies on the audience having a good general knowledge of culture, history, and politics. Notably, Voltaire once commented that tragedies could be translated from one tongue to another, but that comedies could not. Anyone wishing to grasp the English comedy would need to, "spend three years in London, to make yourself master of the English tongue, and to frequent the playhouse every night," he suggested.

Political correctness has changed British politics and society, the latter of which has been famed for its ability to laugh at itself - an ability that has certainly helped to keep it free and democratic. Extremists - whether of the fascist, politically correct, or Islamic type - are united in their suspicion - even rejection - of humor. Humor shows them for what they really are. When the "Mohammed cartoons" provoked riots and death threats by Islamic radicals, Jack Straw could only remark,
I said at the time that the cartoons were reprinted in Europe - though not here in the United Kingdom - that doing so was needlessly insensitive and disrespectful. The right to freedom of expression is a broad one and something which this country has long held dear. [.] But the existence of such a right does not mean that it is right - morally right, politically right, socially right - to exercise that freedom without regard to the feelings of others.
With those words Straw beheads the figure of humor before our eyes, in order to appease those who might be offended. Not every Muslim is humorless, of course, and in the U.S., for example, there is a comedy show called "Allah made me funny," with Muslim comedians who are able to poke fun at themselves. The show was the initiative of Preacher Moss, who wanted to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims after 9/11. Yet in Britain we see that appeasement has become de facto policy of the "liberal" media, with various controversial words or subjects banned. Ben Elton - a comedian and author once noted for his staunchly Left-wing politics - recently accused the B.B.C. of being too "scared" to poke fun at radical Islam, noting that he was even told not to use the entirely innocuous phrase, "Mohammed came to the mountain" apparently for fear of the consequences.

A few days ago, it emerged that the B.B.C. and rival television broadcaster I.T.V. insisted that the Christian Choice political party make changes to the language of its electoral broadcast concerning their opposition to the building of Europe's largest mosque in London. The party had described Tablighi Jamaat, the group behind its planning, as "separatist," and noted that some "moderate Muslims" were against the mega-mosque. But the B.B.C. was worried, and insisted the group be described as "controversial" instead. And, it disallowed the term "moderate Muslims" as it implied that Tablighi Jamaat was not moderate. I.T.V. would not even allow the group to be described as "controversial," although this would certainly appear to be an appropriate - if mild - term. Tablighi Jamaat is opposed to Muslims mixing with non-Muslims, and wants to separate their flock from Jews and Christians by - according to one of their advocates in Britain - creating, "such hatred for their ways as human beings have for urine and excreta."

Ten years ago, we would have laughed at a comedy sketch in which people were banned from describing hate mongers as "controversial." We would have laughed at a sketch of a student being arrested for calling a horse "gay." The lunacy of it all seems so Monty Python or Spitting Image, yet this is the reality of modern Britain.

But I wonder if bawdy, rowdy humor is not now being confined to the past, and along with it an entire way of thinking, and an effective weapon that has proved the best defense of common sense and ordinary people. Gone, it seems, is the type of politician that was feisty and unapologetic in the pursuit of liberty. Contrast Churchill - drinker, cigar smoker, and a man with a quick wit and sharp tongue - with those who embody modern politics - Gordon Brown, Jack Straw, Ken Livingstone, Tony Blair, or David Cameron - and one cannot help but feel that the future of Britain may be no laughing matter.


The rise and rise of the secretive state

Below is a Saturday editorial in "The Australian" which says that freedom of speech has become a critical issue in Australia

TODAY'S World Press Freedom Day is about much more than journalists being able to do their jobs unimpeded. It is about the public's right to know the truth about how the governments they elect and the services they pay for, such as police and hospitals, operate. This year, the day comes at the end of an appalling week for press freedom.

On Wednesday, armed police from the Major Fraud Squad raided the Perth office of The Sunday Times newspaper. They spent four hours trying to prise out the source of a story that had embarrassed the Government of Alan Carpenter, a former journalist. The story was in the public interest, relating to a request by Treasurer Eric Ripper for $16 million to pay for advertising for the Government's re-election campaign. It was the second time in a month that police, whose stretched resources would be better employed fighting crime, had entered the Sunday Times offices to uncover the sources of political stories.

Speaking on behalf of the media coalition, Australia's Right to Know, News Limited chairman and chief executive John Hartigan said: "This is a disturbing reminder that governments in Australia will resort to legal muscle to redress political embarrassment. Do we now live in a country where whistleblowers and journalists can expect to be hunted down and charged if they reveal government information that is a matter of legitimate public interest? The answer, regrettably, appears to be yes."

The armed raid, reminiscent of those in countries such as Malaysia, erodes Australia's credibility in speaking out against the intimidation again meted out to the media this week in Fiji. The Fijian Government, known for its brutality, corruption and totalitarian rule, arrested Evan Hannah, managing director of The Fiji Times on Thursday night, forcibly removing him from his home, pending deportation. The arrest came two months after another Australian, Russell Hunter, publisher of the rival Fiji Sun, was arrested in a night-time raid on his home and deported.

Amid such repression, it should be reassuring to know that federal Labor, in the run-up to the November election, promised a mature and open approach to freedom of information. A Rudd government, the ALP's policy document said, would "drive cultural change across the bureaucracy to promote a pro-disclosure attitude". Information would be withheld only "where this is in the public interest". The Australian community would be able to "properly access information in the possession of the commonwealth Government."

These fine commitments have already melted into hollow rhetoric with the federal Government using FOI laws to block the release of advice about the wage-push inflationary effects of its industrial relations changes. In response to an FOI request from the ABC, the bulk of the 38 pages produced this week were censored. A Treasury official's lily-livered excuse was that full disclosure would "be contrary to public interest as they are internal documents containing information which could raise unnecessary debate on matters considered by cabinet". This ridiculous mindset, reflective of Orwell's Big Brother, deems economic debate "unnecessary" and against the public interest.

In reality, Treasury concerns about Labor's abolition of the Howard government's IR reforms have been known for months. In August, Treasury secretary Ken Henry underlined the importance of flexible labour markets for sustaining full employment. Months after the triumphant abolition of Work Choices, full disclosure of the relevant Treasury advice would have been no more than mildly embarrassing for the Rudd Government. But a cynic might suggest it feared the advice could come back to haunt it in the event of an inflationary wages breakout. The public interest, however, demands openness rather than a cover-up and Mr Rudd's silence on the subject yesterday was deafening.

This penchant for secrecy pervades both sides of politics and much of the legal system, to the detriment of public life. This newspaper, for instance, spent much of the last parliament battling former treasurer Peter Costello's blocking the release of data about bracket creep and the use of the First Home Buyers Scheme. The Australian lost the case in the High Court.

In a report released at last night's Australian Press Freedom Media Dinner in Sydney, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance noted numerous perturbing instances of censorship. These included the sentencing of former public servant, Allan Kessing, to a nine-month suspended jail term after he was found guilty of leaking a report on serious gaps in airport security to The Australian. The issue was vital to the public interest.

In the US, freedom of speech is fundamental to national culture and guaranteed under the First Amendment. Australia's establishment, in contrast, is increasingly embracing the censorious, "less is more" mentality of the taciturn British civil service. At every turn, civil libertarians battle to keep the public in the dark about lawyers' clients facing charges. States such as Queensland keep pertinent school performance data under wraps, while Tasmania refuses to release details of secret proposals for taxpayers to subsidise pipelines to service the controversial Gunns pulp mill. Secrecy, control and spin have rendered free speech fragile. This is bad for democracy and the issue deserves elevating to the centre of national debate.

Source Source


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, May 04, 2008

A most "incorrect" view of GWB

(The author below, Paul Johnson, is a distinguished historian whose studies of history have gradually led him away from his original Leftist stance)

I don't regard George W. Bush as a lame-duck president. Between now and next January all sorts of challenging and unexpected events may take place. We can rely on President Bush to react promptly and decisively to them. We saw this on Sept. 11. The President was as surprised as everyone else, as we grasped from the dramatic photograph of him taken as he was given the dreadful news at an elementary school. But he buckled down quickly to this unprecedented attack on America, determined that such a treacherous outrage should never occur again.

Nor has it. It is worth inquiring why. There is no doubt that attacking the American homeland remains the prime objective of Muslim fundamentalist leaders. Yet they have not done so. One reason for this is the success of Mr. Bush's team in learning the lessons of Sept. 11 and building a security system of impressive strength and sensitivity. It has yet to be breached. Also, the suicide bombers fear being sent to Guant namo more than they fear death itself. It is right that the prime defender of democracy and freedom should strike terror into the hearts of terrorists.

Equally, if not more important, is the way in which Mr. Bush--partly by accident but mainly by design--has switched the war's theater of operations to the death-dealers' territory. At the time of Sept. 11 the battlefield was the undefended West, with its great, peaceful cities. The civilian population was exposed to mass murder at the hands of carefully trained and well-equipped fanatics. Now, thanks to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan-- which were achieved at relatively minor cost--the battlefield has been decisively switched to the Muslim heartlands. And in the Middle East the war is being waged against the fundamentalists by the highly trained and superbly equipped professional armed forces of the U.S., Britain and other nations. The results of this are reflected in the casualty figures.

It's true that more than 4,000 U.S. servicemen and -women have been killed in this five-year conflict. But considering the extent of the operations, the importance of the war and the threat to the U.S. populace posed by these terrorists, this total is small. In World War I up to 60,000 casualties were inflicted in a single day. And there were many occasions during World War II when the U.S. and Britain lost more than 4,000 men in a one-day operation.

On the other hand, the number of Muslim fanatics who have been killed by the Allies in their operations or who have killed each other in Sunni-Shia clashes must be reckoned in the hundreds of thousands. We shall never know the true tally, but it is plainly enormous.

Each of those terrorists was capable of inflicting huge losses on the civilian populations of the West. To dispose of them, one by one, in the West is extremely difficult and expensive. In the Middle East, however, they congregate and can be killed more easily and in large numbers by Western firepower. Moreover, the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan has attracted most of the bravest and most determined of the fundamentalists. They have swarmed there from all over the world--not least from Western cities--to achieve (as they believe) martyrdom, to fight and be killed. We must remember that every extremist killed in the suburbs of Basra or Baghdad or in the hills around Kabul or Kandahar means scores, perhaps hundreds, of Western civilian lives saved.

Clearly mistakes have been made in this war, some of them serious. Intelligence has been faulty. But then those of us who have served in our countries' armed forces know that it always is. It's far better for America's President to react swiftly to intelligence reports of weapons of mass destruction being in the hands of his nation's dedicated enemies than to ignore the warnings and risk such weapons being used against the U.S. and the West.

Mr. Bush was right to adopt a no-risk policy, accepting the partisan criticism of his party's political opponents. This is what a President does in his capacity as Commander in Chief. Indeed, no President worthy of the office could have decided otherwise.

Looking back over the last few years, I find it hard to fault Mr. Bush on any major point. He has always been brave. He has never shown the slightest fear of unpopularity, putting the needs of the nation before his political fortunes. He has shown himself ready at all times to make big, risky and venturesome decisions, being persuaded they were in the U.S.' (and the West's) interests, and then sticking to them. Indeed, if there's one thing that exceeds Mr. Bush's courage, it's his resolution, his pertinacity, his steadfast consistency.

He is a leader who will not give way to threats, criticisms and abuse, a man of valor when times are hard. In this election year, when the Constitution demands that he must give way to another President, I salute him and applaud his conduct of affairs.

Some may call President Bush obstinate; others may say, with some reason, that he is not skilled in explaining his policies. But I insist that beneath it all he has been a heroic leader in a time of testing, and I am glad that he will still be in charge for the rest of this year. May his successor show the same dauntless determination.


Muslims under pressure in Italy

Leandro Comacchio, a Northern League leader, is outside a suburban supermarket in Padua collecting signatures for a referendum to stop the construction of a mosque. The campaign, he claims, is not aimed at Muslims. It is, rather, a protest against the "permissive" centre-left council which, he alleges, is giving away council land for construction of the 2,300sq ft mosque. He contends that the council tolerates unchecked immigration, which has in turn exacerbated street crime, urban decay and drug dealing.

Immigration, and the perceived crime spree, has become a key issue in the city once best known for its ancient university and elegant piazzas - so much so that Northern League supporters have set up vigilante groups. "We have formed citizen street patrols, together with residents' associations," Mr Comacchio said. "A minimum of four people, but often up to ten, all with phosphorescent jackets carrying the Lion of St Mark, the symbol of the Veneto region." Mr Comacchio does not like the term vigilantes, prefering instead "concerned residents" who call the police when necessary.

Muslims at the provisional mosque in a derelict supermarket on the other side of town are feeling under siege. The mosque, which has to close by next month because the owner is reclaiming the site, is next to Via Anelli, a dilapidated immigrant housing estate, around which the authorities erected a metal fence - the Wall of Padua - in an attempt to contain drug dealing and prostitution two years ago. Maher Selmi, a Moroccan student who is the mosque's spokesman, said that there was worrying prejudice against foreigners as Italy shifted to the Right. In national elections last month a centre-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi, which included the separatist Northern League and the "postFascist" Alleanza Nazionale, swept the board. Gianni Alemanno, also of Alleanza Nazionale, was elected Mayor of Rome this week. "We don't want confrontation," Mr Selmi said. "We want dialogue with all parties to find common ground."

The League, led by Umberto Bossi - who once said that those arriving by sea should be fired on by the navy - doubled its national vote to more than 8 per cent. In Padua, where this week there was an outcry when a teacher was suspended for telling Muslim schoolgirls to take off their veils, it tripled its vote from 5 per cent to 15 per cent, according to Mariella Mazzetto, a Northern League councillor.

Last year Ms Mazzetto took a pig to the abandoned farmhouse where the mosque is due to be built next to a nomad encampment. Pork is anathema to Muslims but Ms Mazzetto denies that she or the League are racist or xenophobic. "I made a provocative gesture with the pig to arouse debate," she said. "The League has grown in strength because it is in tune with concerns of ordinary people."

The campaigners, who need 5,000 signatures to force a referendum, have so far collected more than 1,600. Flavio Zanonato, the centre-left mayor, said he was confident that Paduans would support the 860,000 euro mosque, which the Muslim community would fund by paying rent to the council. Maurizio Conte, a League leader in the Veneto, said that the mosque would attract "uncontrollable criminals and fundamentalists."


Flying Blind in the War on Terror

Imagine that following the bombing of Peal Harbor in December 1941, that FDR had prohibiting the use of the terms "Nazi" or "Japanese Imperialism" due to pressure brought to bear by German and Japanese-American lobbying groups. Or at the height of the Cold War that the US government had determined to ban the use of "Soviet" or "communism" for fear of offending the sensibilities of Russian-Americans or European socialists.

Yet that is precisely what has happened following the revelation last week by the Associated Press that the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security has issued guidelines banning the use of "jihad", "mujahedeen" and other Islamic terminology with reference to Islamic terrorism. This move lays bare the ideological prison house of political correctness in which our top policymaker's reside. The strictures are so ridiculous that even President Bush can't help himself in violating the guidelines.

No one can claim in defense of this move that it has been rooted in years of serious study and assessment of the issue at the highest levels of government. If so, where might these studies and assessments be found? What series of government publications outlines the strategic threat doctrine of our enemy in the War on Terror, similar to that prepared on Soviet doctrine in the early years of the Cold War? What comprehensive doctrinal assessment may our military and political leaders consult to inform themselves on the tactics and strategy of our enemy? Such does not exist, and the adoption of the government's new "lexicon" is an admission that such a strategic threat assessment of our enemy will not be done. This new effort means that in essence we have chosen to fly blind in the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

The categorical failure of our political leadership nearly seven years after 9/11 to engage in even the slightest effort to assess exactly who the enemy is and how they propose to attack and defeat us borders on treason. What could possibly represent the complete abdication of responsibility by our political leaders than deliberately avoiding addressing this pressing, and for our men and women in uniform a life-and-death, issue?

So on what basis have our public officials made this recent decision? This new effort is being driven by politics, not public safety, as demonstrated by the fact that such pandering measures adopted by the British government which the State Department guidelines appear modeled after have completely failed to abate the terrorist threat there. And it reveals that our national security policy is being determined more by public affairs officials driven by political correctness than sober reflection by our nation's intelligence, military and law enforcement personnel.

It has already been observed that the Islamic organizations identified by the Justice Department as being directly tied to terrorism (Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North American, Muslim American Society, the Institute for International Islamic Thought, et al.) are the same ones who have been openly promoting the adoption of this new "lexicon". I would note that last September I provided a critical analysis of this "Truespeak" lexicon here at The American Thinker, observing that the sources of Islamic law relied upon do not match how the new policy's advocates have represented them.

The government does not have a very good track record in identifying Islamic extremists in its outreach efforts since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Just one example is the relationship that the government forged with supposed "moderate" Abdurahman Alamoudi, as noted last week by columnist Diana West, who the Pentagon tasked to establish the military's Islamic chaplains corps. Today, Alamoudi sits in a federal prison serving a 23 year sentence following his conviction on terror-related charges and for conspiring with Libyan intelligence to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince.

Another example would be the series of White House meetings Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian held with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before heading to prison on terrorism support charges. Al-Arian also hobnobbed with Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and Karl Rove. There are any number of similar embarrassing incidents that could be cited here, but suffice it to say that the US government cannot point to a single success when it comes to identifying Islamic extremists in the past quarter-century.

To fully understand the gravity of the problem posed by the government's new "lexicon", consider that nearly 30 years after the Islamic revolution in Iran that religion might play a role in the rise of Islamic terrorism is itself a controversial proposition in government circles. Noting such a connection between elements of Islam and Islamic terrorism cost Pentagon J2 analyst Stephen Coughlin his job earlier this year. And yet Coughlin's groundbreaking study, "To Our Great Detriment: Ignoring What Extremists Say About Jihad", which poses a direct challenge to those who would exclude religious considerations in discussing Islamic terrorism, has not been addressed or critiqued by any of those promoting the government's guidelines.

There are two false assumptions that seem to underlie this new effort. One is narrowly limiting the enemy in the GWOT to Al-Qaeda alone. But this excludes many terrorist organizations, some of whom have openly allied with Al-Qaeda, that have already committed terrorist acts against Western targets and non-compliant Muslims in Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and Europe. It also fails to account for the radicalization process that is essential for the growth of Islamic terrorism, as noted in a study last summer by the New York Policy Department's intelligence unit, "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat".

Another misguided assumption is the belief that through engagement and appeasement, we can make Islamic radicals "our extremists". One might think that this policy -- tried and found wanting in our efforts to leverage the "Arab Afghans" that became Al-Qaeda in order to tie up the Soviet Union in Afghanistan -- would be thoroughly discounted. But in fact, following my recent exposure of the American Muslims for Constructive Engagement strategic partnership between a prominent government-funded defense and intelligence think tank and several extremist organizations, one of the top officials involved in the effort defended the alliance on claiming that such engagement would affect the moderation of Islamic extremists (my rejoinder can be found here).

So what is to be done? At this point it must be admitted that in the absence of any assessment of the strategic threat posed by Islamic terrorism and identification of exactly who and what the threat is, any Islamic outreach efforts are not only premature but potentially damaging to our national security. While some claim that such outreach is necessary, virtually no consideration has been given to what exactly Islamic extremists might be able to gain through such efforts. And in light of the appalling past record of the US government in this regard, no action is infinitely preferable to flawed action. But if such outreach is conducted, it should occur with the full knowledge and approval of counterterrorism officials -- something that has not been done in the past.

We also must utilize existing tools to address existing terrorist support organizations already operating inside the US. Trial exhibits offered by the Justice Department in the Holy Land Foundation trial revealed the intent of Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups to wage a "civilizational-jihadist process", intending to wage a campaign of cultural warfare against the US from within:
The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.
As noted by my friend and colleague Army LTC Joseph Myers here at American Thinker following these revelations, he concluded that existing Defense Department regulations and guidelines, these groups should be listed as hostile foreign agents and threat organizations:
In its own documents, the Ikhwan in America has defined itself as a hostile threat to the American constitutional order. It has identified itself as a "foreign agent" of the greater global jihad, and exists as part of the transnational "Ikhwan Movement." The Holy Land Foundation trial has established evidence of material support to terrorism by Brotherhood entities and ties to international terrorism, namely Hamas and likely other jihad terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood in America meets all three criteria of DoD Directive 5240.1-R.
The irony of this situation is, of course, that any discussion of the Muslim Brotherhood's "grand jihad" is prohibited by the government's new guidelines.

Additionally, congressional leadership on these issues is sorely needed. While Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) recently unveiled her 10-point plan to begin addressing the domestic terrorist threat entitled, "Wake Up America", these tactical efforts do not mention the larger strategic issues of assessing and identifying the doctrinal foundations of Islamic terrorism and the process of radicalization that it relies upon. Her plan, however, is a welcome alternative to the current policy of congressional negligence with reference to the domestic terror threat. A proactive Congress asking administration officials hard questions will be requisite to turn back the ill-considered State Department and Homeland Security's new policy.

But the key component needed for any future government policies regarding terrorism must be the long overdue assessment of our enemy's strategy and ideology. The present guidelines effectively prohibit any such analysis. Until such a comprehensive study by our intelligence, military and law enforcement communities is complete, we are left flying blind in the war on terror. As we should have learned on 9/11 at the cost of lives of three thousand innocent civilians, the enemy's vision is not likewise obscured


Call to adopt the tyrannical and much-criticized Canadian approach to "discrimination" in Australia

The usual Leftist devotion to crushing individual liberties below. Hans Bader has emailed me the following comment on it: "The Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tom Calma, has made the pernicious proposal to put the burden of proof on people accused of racism to prove themselves innocent, rather than the government having to prove them guilty. Worse, he claims that that is how it is done in America. That is a false claim, since under U.S. federal antidiscrimination law, it is the plaintiff and government -- not the defendant -- that has the burden of proof, according to the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in St. Mary's Honor Center v. Hicks (1993) and Texas Department of Community Affairs v. Burdine (1981)". I reproduce a comprehensive article by Bader immediately after the article below

A STUDY of racial discrimination laws in several Western countries has prompted a call for the Government to toughen Australia's 33-year-old laws. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tom Calma wants the burden of proof in cases of racial discrimination to fall on the alleged offender, instead of the person making the complaint. Mr Calma said Australia's laws made it difficult to prove there had been discrimination.

A Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission analysis of other countries, including the US, Britain and Canada, shows that in those countries the onus of proof shifts to the person who has been accused of discrimination once the complainant has established an initial case. In Australia, the burden of proof rests on the person making the complaint.

Mr Calma will ask the Federal Government to review the Race Discrimination Act, which was established in 1975 and was the first human rights legislation introduced in Australia. The only amendments to the act were the introduction of racial hatred provisions in 1995. Mr Calma said some people who had been racially discriminated against did not lodge a complaint because they felt the process was too hard. "It is a difficult exercise to be able to get that evidence together and if the offending party doesn't want to co-operate then you can't progress it," he said. "We do get occasions where people don't want to co-operate, and then we're forced to terminate a case, and then the case might have to be taken forward to a court." The alleged offender can be summoned to court to defend themselves, but then it gets very expensive.

A spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland said the Race Discrimination Act had been a "strong and effective protection against racism". He said the Government had committed to conducting a wide-ranging national consultation on how to best protect the rights and responsibilities of Australians. "The courts have not identified significant areas of deficiency or inconsistency in the operation and interpretation of the act, which could be resolved by amending the act," he said. The Age believes that consultation could start by the end of the year. The nation's attorneys-general have also agreed to examine options to make Commonwealth and state anti-discrimination laws more consistent.

Mr Calma said if people were forced to defend themselves, it might make them think twice before offending. These kinds of complaints were usually a last resort. "A lot of people will tolerate behaviour, consider it a joke, until it comes to crunch point," he said. "You don't get vexatious complaints for the sake of complaints."

Peter van Vliet, executive officer of the Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria, said Australia's racial discrimination laws needed to be strengthened. "There is a serious power imbalance, particularly between larger organisations and individuals who are being discriminated against," he said. "We certainly have a large body of anecdotal evidence that systemic racial and religious discrimination, particularly with regards to employment, exists in Australia."


Using International "Law" to Subvert Basic Legal Protections and Democracy

Article below by Hans Bader. Bader is legal counsel to the Competitive Enterprise Institute and has had experience in bringing and defending race discrimination claims in the U.S. courts. For a short time he also helped adjudicate discrimination claims at the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The original of the article below has numerous links

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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, May 03, 2008

Leftists in the media and elsewhere are major fomentors and facilitators of Islamic ambitions

The hate-filled Left just love the Muslim haters and will excuse anything they do

What has not been widely recognized is that the Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 fatwa against Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie introduced a new kind of jihad. Instead of assaulting Western ships or buildings, Kho-meini took aim at a fundamental Western freedom: freedom of speech. In recent years, other Islamists have joined this crusade, seeking to undermine Western societies' basic liberties and extend sharia within those societies.

The cultural jihadists have enjoyed disturbing success. Two events in particular--the 2004 assassination in Amsterdam of Theo van Gogh in retaliation for his film about Islam's oppression of women, and the global wave of riots, murders, and vandalism that followed a Danish newspaper's 2005 publication of cartoons satirizing Mohammed--have had a massive ripple effect throughout the West. Motivated variously, and doubtless sometimes simultaneously, by fear, misguided sympathy, and multicultural ideology--which teaches us to belittle our freedoms and to genuflect to non-Western cultures, however repressive--people at every level of Western society, but especially elites, have allowed concerns about what fundamentalist Muslims will feel, think, or do to influence their actions and expressions. These Westerners have begun, in other words, to internalize the strictures of sharia, and thus implicitly to accept the deferential status of dhimmis--infidels living in Muslim societies. Call it a cultural surrender. The House of War is slowly--or not so slowly, in Europe's case--being absorbed into the House of Submission.

The Western media are in the driver's seat on this road to sharia. Often their approach is to argue that we're the bad guys. After the late Dutch sociologist-turned-politician Pim Fortuyn sounded the alarm about the danger that Europe's Islamization posed to democracy, elite journalists labeled him a threat. A New York Times headline described him as marching the dutch to the right. Dutch newspapers Het Parool and De Volkskrant compared him with Mussolini; Trouw likened him to Hitler. The man (a multiculturalist, not a Muslim) who murdered him in May 2002 seemed to echo such verdicts when explaining his motive: Fortuyn's views on Islam, the killer insisted, were "dangerous."

Perhaps no Western media outlet has exhibited this habit of moral inversion more regularly than the BBC. In 2006, to take a typical example, Manchester's top imam told psychotherapist John Casson that he supported the death penalty for homosexuality. Casson expressed shock--and the BBC, in a dispatch headlined imam accused of "gay death" slur, spun the controversy as an effort by Casson to discredit Islam. The BBC concluded its story with comments from an Islamic Human Rights Commission spokesman, who equated Muslim attitudes toward homosexuality with those of "other orthodox religions, such as Catholicism" and complained that focusing on the issue was "part of demonizing Muslims."

In June 2005, the BBC aired the documentary Don't Panic, I'm Islamic, which sought to portray concerns about Islamic radicalism as overblown. This "stunning whitewash of radical Islam," as Little Green Footballs blogger Charles Johnson put it, "helped keep the British public fast asleep, a few weeks before the bombs went off in London subways and buses" in July 2005. In December 2007, it emerged that five of the documentary's subjects, served up on the show as examples of innocuous Muslims-next-door, had been charged in those terrorist attacks--and that BBC producers, though aware of their involvement after the attacks took place, had not reported important information about them to the police.

Press acquiescence to Muslim demands and threats is endemic. When the Mohammed cartoons--published in September 2005 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten to defy rising self-censorship after van Gogh's murder--were answered by worldwide violence, only one major American newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, joined such European dailies as Die Welt and El Pais in reprinting them as a gesture of free-speech solidarity. Editors who refused to run the images claimed that their motive was multicultural respect for Islam. Critic Christopher Hitchens believed otherwise, writing that he "knew quite a number of the editors concerned and can say for a certainty that the chief motive for 'restraint' was simple fear." Exemplifying the new dhimmitude, whatever its motivation, was Norway's leading cartoonist, Finn Graff, who had often depicted Israelis as Nazis, but who now vowed not to draw anything that might provoke Muslim wrath. (On a positive note, t! his February, over a dozen Danish newspapers, joined by a number of other papers around the world, reprinted one of the original cartoons as a free-speech gesture after the arrest of three people accused of plotting to kill the artist.)

Last year brought another cartoon crisis--this time over Swedish artist Lars Vilks's drawings of Mohammed as a dog, which ambassadors from Muslim countries used as an excuse to demand speech limits in Sweden. CNN reporter Paula Newton suggested that perhaps "Vilks should have known better" because of the Jyllands-Posten incident--as if people who make art should naturally take their marching orders from people who make death threats. Meanwhile, The Economist depicted Vilks as an eccentric who shouldn't be taken "too seriously" and noted approvingly that Sweden's prime minister, unlike Denmark's, invited the ambassadors "in for a chat."

The elite media regularly underreport fundamentalist Muslim misbehavior or obfuscate its true nature. After the knighting of Rushdie in 2007 unleashed yet another wave of international Islamist mayhem, Tim Rutten wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "If you're wondering why you haven't been able to follow all the columns and editorials in the American press denouncing all this homicidal nonsense, it's because there haven't been any." Or consider the riots that gripped immigrant suburbs in France in the autumn of 2005. These uprisings were largely assertions of Muslim authority over Muslim neighborhoods, and thus clearly jihadist in character. Yet weeks passed before many American press outlets mentioned them--and when they did, they de-emphasized the rioters' Muslim identity (few cited the cries of "Allahu akbar," for instance). Instead, they described the violence as an outburst of frustration over economic injustice.

When polls and studies of Muslims appear, the media often spin the results absurdly or drop them down the memory hole after a single news cycle. Journalists celebrated the results of a 2007 Pew poll showing that 80 percent of American Muslims aged 18 to 29 said that they opposed suicide bombing--even though the flip side, and the real story, was that a double-digit percentage of young American Muslims admitted that they supported it. u.s. muslims assimilated, opposed to extremism, the Washington Post rejoiced, echoing USA Today's american muslims reject extremes. A 2006 Daily Telegraph survey showed that 40 percent of British Muslims wanted sharia in Britain--yet British reporters often write as though only a minuscule minority embraced such views.

After each major terrorist act since 9/11, the press has dutifully published stories about Western Muslims fearing an "anti-Muslim backlash"--thus neatly shifting the focus from Islamists' real acts of violence to non-Muslims' imaginary ones. (These backlashes, of course, never materialize.) While books by Islam experts like Bat Ye'or and Robert Spencer, who tell difficult truths about jihad and sharia, go unreviewed in newspapers like the New York Times, the elite press legitimizes thinkers like Karen Armstrong and John Esposito, whose sugarcoated representations of Islam should have been discredited for all time by 9/11. The Times described Armstrong's hagiography of Mohammed as "a good place to start" learning about Islam; in July 2007, the Washington Post headlined a piece by Esposito want to understand islam? start here.

Mainstream outlets have also served up anodyne portraits of fundamentalist Muslim life. Witness Andrea Elliott's affectionate three-part profile of a Brooklyn imam, which appeared in the New York Times in March 2006. Elliott and the Times sought to portray Reda Shata as a heroic bridge builder between two cultures, leaving readers with the comforting belief that the growth of Islam in America was not only harmless but positive, even beautiful. Though it emerged in passing that Shata didn't speak English, refused to shake women's hands, wanted to forbid music, and supported Hamas and suicide bombing, Elliott did her best to downplay such unpleasant details; instead, she focused on sympathetic personal particulars. "Islam came to him softly, in the rhythms of his grandmother's voice"; "Mr. Shata discovered love 15 years ago. . . . 'She entered my heart,' said the imam." Elliott's saccharine piece won a Pulitzer Prize. When Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes poin! ted out that Shata was obviously an Islamist, a writer for the Columbia Journalism Review dismissed Pipes as "right-wing" and insisted that Shata was "very moderate." .......

So it goes in this upside-down, not-so-brave new media world: those who, if given the power, would subjugate infidels, oppress women, and execute apostates and homosexuals are "moderate" (a moderate, these days, apparently being anybody who doesn't have explosives strapped to his body), while those who dare to call a spade a spade are "Islamophobes."

Leading liberal intellectuals and academics have shown a striking willingness to betray liberal values when it comes to pacifying Muslims. Back in 2001, Unni Wikan, a distinguished Norwegian cultural anthropologist and Islam expert, responded to the high rate of Muslim-on-infidel rape in Oslo by exhorting women to "realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it." ....

Another prominent accommodationist is humanities professor Mark Lilla of Columbia University, author of an August 2007 essay in the New York Times Magazine so long and languorous, and written with such perfect academic dispassion, that many readers may have finished it without realizing that it charted a path leading straight to sharia. Muslims' "full reconciliation with modern liberal democracy cannot be expected," Lilla wrote. For the West, "coping is the order of the day, not defending high principle."

Revealing in this light is Buruma's and Garton Ash's treatment of author Ayaan Hirsi Ali--perhaps the greatest living champion of Western freedom in the face of creeping jihad--and of the Europe-based Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan. Because Hirsi Ali refuses to compromise on liberty, Garton Ash has called her a "simplistic . . . Enlightenment fundamentalist"--thus implicitly equating her with the Muslim fundamentalists who have threatened to kill her--while Buruma, in several New York Times pieces, has portrayed her as a petulant naif. (Both men have lately backed off somewhat.) On the other hand, the professors have rhapsodized over Ramadan's supposed brilliance. They aren't alone: though he's clearly not the Westernized, urbane intellectual he seems to be--he refuses to condemn the stoning of adulteresses and clearly looks forward to a Europe under sharia--this grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and protege of Islamist scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi ! regularly wins praise in bien-pensant circles as representing the best hope for long-term concord between Western Muslims and non-Muslims.

This spring, Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, writing in the New York Times Magazine, actually gave two cheers for sharia. He contrasted it favorably with English common law, and described "the Islamists' aspiration to renew old ideas of the rule of law" as "bold and noble."

With the press, the entertainment industry, and prominent liberal thinkers all refusing to defend basic Western liberties, it's not surprising that our political leaders have been pusillanimous, too. After a tiny Oslo newspaper, Magazinet, reprinted the Danish cartoons in early 2006, jihadists burned Norwegian flags and set fire to Norway's embassy in Syria. Instead of standing up to the vandals, Norwegian leaders turned on Magazinet's editor, Vebjorn Selbekk, partially blaming him for the embassy burning and pressing him to apologize. He finally gave way at a government-sponsored press conference, groveling before an assemblage of imams whose leader publicly forgave him and placed him under his protection. On that terrible day, Selbekk later acknowledged, "Norway went a long way toward allowing freedom of speech to become the Islamists' hostage." As if that capitulation weren't disgrace enough, an official Norwegian delegation then traveled to Qatar and im! plored Qaradawi--a defender of suicide bombers and the murder of Jewish children--to accept Selbekk's apology. "To meet Yusuf al-Qaradawi under the present circumstances," Norwegian-Iraqi writer Walid al-Kubaisi protested, was "tantamount to granting extreme Islamists . . . a right of joint consultation regarding how Norway should be governed."

The UN's position on the question of speech versus "respect" for Islam was clear--and utterly at odds with its founding value of promoting human rights. "You don't joke about other people's religion," Kofi Annan lectured soon after the Magazinet incident, echoing the sermons of innumerable imams, "and you must respect what is holy for other people." In October 2006, at a UN panel discussion called "Cartooning for Peace," Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor proposed drawing "a very thin blue UN line . . . between freedom and responsibility." (Americans might be forgiven for wondering whether that line would strike through the First Amendment.) And in 2007, the UN's Human Rights Council passed a Pakistani motion prohibiting defamation of religion.

Other Western government leaders have promoted the expansion of the Dar al-Islam. In September 2006, when philosophy teacher Robert Redeker went into hiding after receiving death threats over a Le Figaro op-ed on Islam, France's then-prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, commented that "everyone has the right to express their opinions freely--at the same time that they respect others, of course." The lesson of the Redeker affair, he said, was "how vigilant we must be to ensure that people fully respect one another in our society." Villepin got a run for his money last year from his Swedish counterpart, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who, after meeting with Muslim ambassadors to discuss the Vilks cartoons, won praise from one of them, Algeria's Merzak Bedjaoui, for his "spirit of appeasement."

More here

Australia: Dangerous sex as a State government enters the bedroom

If you are a man, sex got a whole lot more dangerous. Consider this scenario. A woman meets a man in a bar or at a party. She likes the man. He likes the woman. She may not normally be a sex on the first night kind of girl. But they have a number of drinks. Fuelled by alcohol, they put aside their inhibitions. The woman goes home with the man. She says yes to sex. In the morning, the man makes it clear it was a one-night stand. The woman is deeply offended and regrets her drunken decision. She claims rape. Under new rape laws introduced in NSW this year, that man is likely to be convicted as a rapist. He is likely to go to prison.

Rape reform in NSW means that post-coital regrets can now be refashioned into rape claims that send innocent men to prison. That's why Gold Coast Titans footballer Anthony Laffranchi is a fortunate man. He walked free from a rape charge last week after the prosecution failed to establish lack of consent. He and his then Wests Tigers NRL teammates met a woman at the Sapphire Club in Kings Cross in September 2006 and continued to party at a teammate's apartment. The footballer said he had consensual sex. The woman, who was "significantly affected" by alcohol, claimed she was raped. Had Laffranchi met the woman after January this year, he would probably be a convicted rapist facing a long stint in prison.

Let us be clear. Rape is wrong. It is a crime that calls for imprisonment. It can destroy a victim's life. But let us be clear about something else. Wrongful claims of rape are made. And they can destroy a man's life. No one knows whether a rape occurred that night when Laffranchi had sex with the woman. But under the old laws of rape, the defendant's actual state of mind was critical. If the accused had an honest belief that sex was consensual, the rape charge failed. And when the evidence became a simple contest between "he said, she said", a reasonable doubt would lead to an acquittal. Criminal law says that is as it should be; we are talking about a serious crime and imprisonment.

Not anymore. Now the rules have changed. Now, in a contest between he said it was consensual and she said it was rape, a jury may be forced to convict the man of rape without any further corroborating evidence. The new laws say that if a woman is "substantially affected" by alcohol, she may lack the capacity to consent to sex even if she says "yes" to sex. More disturbing, even if a man honestly believes consent was given, his state of mind is now irrelevant. Now, the man is effectively deemed to have knowledge of lack of consent if there are no reasonable grounds for believing consent was given. And it gets worse. When asked to determine whether the man had no reasonable grounds for believing the woman gave consent, the jury must ignore the fact that the man was drunk.

In other words, the fact that the woman who says "yes" to sex is drunk is highly relevant: it may vitiate her consent. But the man's intoxication must be ignored when working out whether he had "reasonable grounds" for believing consent was given. It is a curious law that says alcohol only affects the cognitive abilities of women.

These new rape laws degrade women. They treat them as helpless victims, stripping them of the power to make decisions about sex after consuming alcohol. Down a few too many Bacardi Breezers, and the law says you are no longer responsible for your actions. Is this really the message we want to send to young women? And for men, it's even more serious. As the President of the NSW Bar Association, Anna Katzmann SC, has pointed out, these new laws mean that the intoxicated man will be treated just like "the true rapist, the aggressor who inflicts himself on his victim, knowing they do not consent". There is no gradation of penalties.

Why is this happening? Lawyers point to the perfect storm. The intoxicated man is trapped between a strident but misguided feminist agenda and the law and order lobby driven by perceptions that rape conviction rates are too low. In reality, the low conviction rates reflect nothing more than the reasonable doubt that arises when, absent other evidence about an alleged crime in private, a woman claims rape and a man claims sex was consensual.

Stephen Odgers, a senior Sydney silk who chairs the Criminal Law Committee of the Bar Association, told The Australian that, while we all want a civilised world where people treat each other with mutual respect in all walks of life, including sexual interactions, the new rape laws are a "very blunt and brutal instrument" to educate and civilise us about sexual relations. He fears that the new rape laws, in effect, can be used to criminalise those who merely treat others with disrespect after a night of sex. "And people will end up going to jail for long periods as a result." That is why his committee, made up of almost equal numbers of prosecutors and defence lawyers opposed the reforms.

So how does a man navigate the consent nightmare? Bring a witness into the bedroom? Perhaps bring along a lawyer to guide him through every stage of consensual sex from foreplay to orgasm to ensure that the final, breathless and drunken "yes, yes, yes" is genuine consent? Similar rape reforms in South Australia led independent MP Ann Bressington to suggest earlier this month that perhaps "parliament could devise a sex contract which men could carry around in their pocket, next to their condoms". Bressington is concerned that otherwise sensible rape reform has gone too far, leaving "very little room for a decent defence of a man who has been falsely accused".

False accusations are helped along, says Heather MacDonald in the winter edition of City Journal, by feminist victimology and rape industrialists intent on redefining drunken sex where a bloke wants to get inside a girl's knickers in terms of the classic case of domination rape by power-hungry men.

If you are a man, you are entitled to be frightened by the new order. While society is still committed to a 1960s model of sexual liberation, encouraging men and women to explore their sexual desires, the state is also entering the bedroom trying to educate us about appropriate sexual conduct. Unfortunately, we may discover that civility cannot be legislated by criminal sanction without innocent men going to prison.


Vengeful mothers leave good fathers powerless to see child, says judge

A senior judge spoke out against child access law yesterday, saying that the courts were powerless to help decent fathers to see their children if vengeful mothers stood in the way. Lord Justice Ward made his comments after telling a father that there was nothing he could do to help him to reestablish contact with his teenage daughter who had been turned against him by her "vicious" mother.

The "drip, drip, drip of venom" poured into the daughter's ears by the mother included accusations of sexual abuse against the innocent father after the couple divorced, the judge said. The former wife's tactics were so successful that the daughter wrote to her father when she was 9 saying that she wished he was dead. The daughter is now 14. The identity of the family must be kept secret to protect her privacy.

Lord Justice Ward told the father that the case was bordering on scandalous but the court was compelled to act solely in the best interests of the child. The girl would be too distressed if she was forced to spend time with her father after her mother's "corrupting" campaign, he said. "The father complains bitterly, passionately and with every justification that the law is sterile, impotent and utterly useless - we have to acknowledge there is a degree of force in what he says," the judge told the Court of Appeal Civil Division. "But the question is what can this court do? The answer is nothing. This is a truly distressing case. It may not be untypical of many, but in some ways it borders on the scandalous. It certainly is tragic."

Between 15,000 and 20,000 couples go to court to resolve child access disputes each year. Campaigners say that the courts too often side with the mother, are too ready to believe what she says and rarely take action if contact orders are flouted. They want courts to start from a legal presumption of shared parenting between mothers and fathers. Yesterday's case involved parents who were briefly married in the 1990s but parted while their daughter was a baby. Contact between father and daughter was maintained at first but gradually disintegrated, according to the judge.

During rows over access, the mother, who lives near Lincoln, accused him of sexually abusing their child. But in 1997 a judge ruled that her allegations were wholly unfounded. However, Lord Justice Ward told the court yesterday that the mother had convinced the child that her father was guilty. "The seeds of poison had been sown and from it has grown a wall of dislike, bordering on hatred, for the father," he said. He described the letter written by the girl as "the most ghastly, horrible, letter for a nine-year-old girl to write to her father". It read: "This is what I really think about you. I hate you and you frighten me. You made my life miserable and stressful. I wish you would die. Leave me alone."

Despite this, the father went to Lincoln County Court in 2004 in an attempt to reestablish contact. A judge ruled that he should be allowed to see her under the supervision of a priest. That turned out to be distressing for the girl and the arrangement broke down. The girl insisted that she had been sexually abused. Lord Justice Ward refused the father permission to appeal against his decision, but told the court that the mother was to blame and a copy of his judgment would be given to her and her daughter to read. "The mother is, in my view, the source of this state of affairs by corrupting this girl so viciously and turning her against her father. That is the most I can do for you, with a heavy heart. It is a public scandal that these things go wrong."

After the hearing the father said: "This situation exemplifies what is wrong with the family justice system." He said he would consider taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights.


'Why We Left Islam' editors blast CAIR

Group cultivates moderate image by hiding extremist ties

The editors of a new book compiling the testimonies of ex-Muslims say they weren't surprised when the Council on American-Islamic Relations attacked their work without reading it. But, say Islamic experts Joel Richardson and Susan Crimp, they were shocked that the New York Daily News characterized the group as the voice of moderate Muslims.

"Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out," published by WND Books, was skewered by CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper in the paper - weeks before today's official release date. The book is controversial for two reasons - the gripping firsthand personal accounts of men and women who risked their lives by abandoning the Koran and because it is the first American book release to feature a picture of the prophet Muhammad on the cover.

CAIR didn't wait to look inside the cover before attacking the publisher for spewing hate. But the editors of "Why We Left Islam" say those in the media seeking the opinions of CAIR apparently don't know who they are dealing with. "Even though CAIR wants to convince people that it's a moderate organization, the facts say otherwise," asserts Richardson, who writes using a pseudonym because of previous death threats from Islamic radicals. "The federal government named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in an alleged scheme to funnel $12 million to Hamas, and Representative Sue Myrick, R-NY, said evidence suggests CAIR is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood."

"Evidently, CAIR's ties to Islamic extremists run deep," adds Richardson, who noted that a recent WorldNetDaily investigative report linked 14 CAIR officials to terror investigations. Richardson said that he and Crimp -- who is a noted journalist and author of books on Mother Teresa and the Kennedys -- knew from the start of their collaboration that radical Muslims would go to great lengths to discredit "Why We Left Islam," so CAIR's attack came as no surprise.

The group's spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, lambasted the book in an interview with the New York Daily News, saying, "This book is put out by WND Publishing [sic], which promotes hate every day on its extremist anti-Muslim hate site." Hooper also falsely asserted that the company's editor "suggested air-dropping pig's blood over Afghanistan," a claim which CAIR's lawyer subsequently retracted.

"Why We Left Islam" chronicles the moving accounts of 23 people whose raw and shocking stories reveal the horror of living in a Muslim-dominated society. And the book's cover makes an equally bold statement with an illustration of the prophet Muhammad. The picture, which comes from an ancient manuscript and is based on a 10th century illustration by a Persian scholar, marks the first time Muhammad's face has appeared on a book from an American publisher.

Could CAIR's attacks of the book and its Muhammad cover incite a violent reaction? In Muslim countries around the world, mullahs and government officials have demanded that books dealing harshly with Islam be banned and their authors condemned to death. In 2006, the infamous Danish cartoons lampooning Muhammad instigated riots. But Richardson, himself a target of death threats, says that the brave men and women who share their stories in "Why We Left Islam" chose to risk their lives when they walked away from Islam. He notes that apostasy is punishable by death under Islamic law. "Why We Left Islam" hit the No. 1 spot on Amazon's Islamic category - a week before the latest title from WND Books is even released. It has also hit the top 50 among non-fiction titles.

Farah said he is grateful for the response to his retraction demand to the New York Daily News, but is disappointed CAIR continues to make outlandishly hyperbolic and reckless denunciations of WND. "CAIR can always be counted upon to make wildly untruthful and reckless claims about others, while maintaining a hypersensitivity about its own concerns," said Farah. "Here, for example, Hooper makes this claim that WND promotes anti-Muslim hate on its site every day, offering only one example - and that one is totally untrue. Why other responsible media outlets continue to offer CAIR a platform for making such outrageous statements is beyond me. How many CAIR staffers and officials need to be indicted and convicted before my colleagues recognize these people as the extremists they are?"

"If Muslims rioted around the world after a Danish newspaper published a political cartoon making fun of Muhammad, what will they do in response to this book?" wonders Farah, himself a former Middle East correspondent of Lebanese and Syrian ancestry. "Why We Left Islam" is filled with first-person stories of former radicals who began to question the Quran and ultimately changed their lives.

Khaled Waleed, for instance, said he was indoctrinated with the same type of teaching as fellow Saudi Arabian Osama bin Laden. "Our teacher and other Islamic scholars told us that as Muslims, we are the best people in the world," he writes. "I listened to my imams and was disturbed when they used abusive language to describe non-Muslims as the grandsons of monkeys and pigs ... [they] told me that it was my duty to revile and ridicule non-Muslims." Waleed says the attack on the World Trade Center changed him: "On Sept. 11, 2001, I saw the real face of Islam. I saw the happiness on the faces of our people because so many infidels were slaughtered so easily. I saw many people who started thanking Allah for this massacre."



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, May 02, 2008

Poisonous "Authenticity"

Jeremiah Wright draws on a long line of Afrocentric charlatans

The list of Afrocentric "educators" whom Reverend Jeremiah Wright has invoked in his media escapades since this Sunday is a disturbing reminder that academia's follies can enter the public world in harmful ways. Now the pressing question is whether they have entered presidential candidate Barack Obama's worldview as well.

Some in Wright's crew of charlatans have already had their moments in the spotlight; others are less well known. They form part of the tragic academic project of justifying self-defeating underclass behavior as "authentically black." That their ideas have ended up in the pulpit of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ and in Detroit's Cobo Hall, where Wright spoke at the NAACP's Freedom Fund dinner on Sunday, reminds us that bad ideas must be fought at their origins-and at every moment thereafter.

At the NAACP meeting, Wright proudly propounded the racist contention that blacks have inherently different "learning styles," correctly citing as authority for this view Janice Hale of Wayne State University. Pursuing a Ph.D. by logging long hours in the dusty stacks of a library, Wright announced, is "white." Blacks, by contrast, cannot sit still in class or learn from quiet study, and they have difficulty learning from "objects"-books, for example-but instead learn from "subjects," such as rap lyrics on the radio. These differences are neurological, according to Hale and Wright: whites use what Wright referred to as the "left-wing, logical, and analytical" side of their brains, whereas blacks use their "right brain," which is "creative and intuitive."

When he was of school age in Philadelphia following the Supreme Court's 1954 desegregation decision, Wright said, his white teachers "freaked out because the black children did not stay in their place, over there, behind the desk." Instead, the students "climbed up all over [the teachers], because they learned from a `subject,' not an `object.'" How one learns from a teacher as "subject" by climbing on her, as opposed to learning from her as "object"-by listening to her words-is a mystery.

One would hope that Wright's audience was offended by the idea that acting out in class is authentically black-it was impossible to tell what the reaction in the hall was to the assertion. But one thing is clear: embracing the notion that blacks shouldn't be expected to listen attentively to instruction is guaranteed to perpetuate into eternity the huge learning gap between blacks on the one hand, and whites and Asians on the other.

Wright also praised the work of Geneva Smitherman of Michigan State University, who has called for the selective incorporation of Ebonics into the curriculum in order to validate the black experience. Wright gave another shout-out to the late Asa Hilliard of Georgia State University, who told us, Wright said, "how to fix the schools." Like Hale, Hilliard argued that disrupting the classroom through "impulsive interrupting and loud talking" is inherently black. His bogus Afrocentrism, propounded in his "African-American Baseline Essays," metastasized in educational circles during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Hilliard argued that Western civilization was at once stolen from black Africa and crippling to black identity. As the late Arthur M. Schlesinger recounted in his 1991 alarum about multiculturalism, The Disuniting of America, Hilliard urged schools to teach black students that Egypt was a black country; that Africans invented birth control and carbon steel; that they discovered America long before Columbus; that Robert Browning and Ludwig van Beethoven were "Afro-European"; and that the Atlantic Ocean was originally named the Ethiopian Ocean. (City College of New York laughingstock Leonard Jeffries-he of the infamous distinction between materialistic, aggressive European "ice people" and superior African "sun people"-contributed to Hilliard's Essays, asserting therein that slavery was undertaken as "part of a conspiracy to prevent us from having a unified experience.")

Approving of self-destructive behavior in school is just one part of the vast academic project to justify black underclass dysfunction. The academy has also singled out crime as authentically black, another poisonous idea that Wright appears to have embraced. In his NAACP speech, he mocked the tendency of "those of us who never got caught" to treat "those of us who are incarcerated" with disrespect. In other words, we all commit crime, but only some of us get nabbed for it.

This leveling argument recalls the bizarre doctrines of University of Pennsylvania law professor Regina Austin. In a widely reprinted California Law Review article from 1992, Austin asserted that the black community should embrace the criminals in its midst as a form of resistance to white oppression. People of color should view "hustling" as a "good middle ground between straightness and more extreme forms of lawbreaking." Examples of hustling include "clerks in stores [who] cut their friends a break on merchandise, and pilfering employees [who] spread their contraband around the neighborhood." It never occurs to Austin that these black thieves may have black employers who suffer the effects of black crime-as do the larger neighborhoods of which they form the essential fabric. Officially incorporating crime into the black identity, as Austin and Wright do, is a pathetic admission of defeat and marginalization.

To understand how such ideas become mainstream, one need only read the front page of today's New York Times. There, television critic Alessandra Stanley thrills to the authentic voice of black America: Wright "went deep into context-a rich, stem-winding brew of black history, Scripture, hallelujahs and hermeneutics," Stanley effuses. "Mr. Wright, Senator Barack Obama's former pastor, was cocky, defiant, declamatory, inflammatory and mischievous."

One might think that Wright's promotion of the idea that black kids can't sit still in class would raise some worries, even in a television critic. Surely Stanley would expect her own children to listen to their teachers. But the white elite's desire to avoid charges of racism cancels out all reasonable reactions to dangerous nonsense when such nonsense comes out of black mouths. The coverage of Wright's speeches beyond the Times has been just as silent about their crackpot Afrocentric pedagogy, meekly following the agenda that Wright set by asking instead whether the black church, and not Wright, was under attack.

Wright's speeches have shown how quickly academic insanity becomes incorporated into practice. And now we may be on the verge of seeing such madness spread into the White House. The mainstream media have had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into questioning Obama's affiliation with Wright. By now, Wright's 9/11 and AIDS diatribes are well-worn-and Obama's repudiation of them a no-brainer. It is imperative that someone at CNN or the New York Times ask Obama whether he, too, believes that the way to "fix the schools" is through Afrocentric curricula and double standards in student discipline, and whether he, too, believes that blacks only think with the "right side" of their brains.


Class for kids: How to be homosexual

A state-funded organization in Maine touted as "a stellar program for social change" is advertising a seminar that essentially provides information to impressionable school-age boys on how to be homosexual, according to a pro-family organization opposing the plans. The seminar, "Queer, Questioning, Quiet: Developing Gender Identity & Male Sexual Orientation," is promoted by the Boys to Men organization in Portland, Maine, during its coming 2008 conference. The session will feature a presentation by speakers from the homosexual Proud Rainbow Youth for Southern Maine, officials said.

"I think it's outrageous," Michael Heath, chief of the Christian Civic League of Maine, told WND. '"This is now starting to happen in public schools throughout our state. The public needs to wake up, become aware, and speak out against it."

The Boys to Men website advertisement about its conference says the outreach is "targeted primarily to middle and high school boys and their adult male mentors." The workshop on homosexuality, the website said, includes "speakers from the Maine SpeakOut Project and PRYSM (who) will discuss their own coming-out experiences and use these as a springboard for exploring LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) issues and resources for youth in Southern Maine."

The organization's "core value" page states: "Traditional media and cultural representations of masculinity and femininity are too narrowly defined and contribute to destructive and damaging behavior towards individuals of all genders and ages. We are committed to eliminating the inequalities and institutional injustices that result from these traditional media and cultural representations of masculinity." It also lists as a goal to teach "young men and young women to work together to enhance school climate by standing up against ... gender stereotyping, homophobia and intolerance of difference."

"This continues to happen to impressionable young boys," Heath said. "The sad thing is the boys who are least able to endure this message, this confusion, are the ones they're preying upon." He said the New England states are just about even with California in pursuit of a sexual liberation that makes the hippies' free love atmosphere of the 1960s look staid. "We have laws protecting transgenders. We have a 10-year-old boy [in the state] being raised as a girl. The elementary school is being forced to allow the boy to use the bathroom with the girls," Heath said.

He said it's so important that families, and especially parents of younger children, realize the "sexual orientation cabal" that is flooding his state and region. "We writing about it [the seminar] right now," he said. "We're going to let folks know ... what's going on."

Heath said the "sexual revolution" is entrenched in the law, and its impacts are both widespread and serious. "I don't think insanity is too strong a word for it," he said. "Here in New England .. urges and pleasures are what drive the culture, the law." Unless there is a rally for traditional and moral views, Heath said, "We will witness the disintegration of a civilization." A best-case result would be that there is enough of a public reaction to the teachings that people start to pay attention and act on traditional moral values."

Sally J. Laskey of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said in a website statement, "Maine's Boys To Men project is a stellar program for social change and the primary prevention of violence because it provides community support and specific skill development for building healthy individuals and healthy relationships." Officials setting up the conference also have scheduled a workshop on "Real Life. Real Talk. Sex in the Movies," which will be led by two people from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a division of the nation's biggest abortion provider. Board members of the Boys to Men organization include Chuck Morrison, a sexuality educator in Portland, as well as retired United Church of Christ minister Bill Gregory. The event is sponsored by local businesses and foundations as well as divisions of the state, officials said.

Heath's organizational website, however, already includes a clear warning about the developments, quoting the late evangelical thinker Francis Shaeffer: "The Christian is the real radical of our generation, for he stands against the monolithic, modern concept of truth as relative. But too often, instead of being the radical, standing against the shifting sands of relativism, he subsides into merely maintaining the status quo. If it is true that evil is evil, that God hates it to the point of the cross, and that there is a moral law fixed in what God is in Himself, then Christians should be the first into the field against what is wrong - including man's inhumanity to man."

WND reported previously on homosexual indoctrination not by local tax-enhanced foundations but by public schools themselves. This is the time of year when many schools across the country are promoting the "Day of Silence," a campaign to make students "aware" of the "discrimination" suffered by homosexuals in society by having students and teachers remain silent for the day. Such events typically are organized by a school's "Gay-Straight Alliance" group, but the "Day of Silence" has been promoted by a special-interest group, the massively funded Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network

WND also reported the concerted effort by dozens of organizations to alert parents to the indoctrination effects of such school observances and urge them to keep their children home from schools during the events. "It's outrageous that our neighborhood schools would allow homosexual activism to intrude into the classroom," said Buddy Smith of the American Family Association, one group on the long list of organizations working to provide information to parents. "'Day of Silence' is about coercing students to repudiate traditional morality. It's time for Christian parents to draw the line - if your children will be exposed to this DOS propaganda in their school, then keep them home for the day," he said.


Inmate boasts of 'luxury' life in British prison

A man jailed for repeatedly stabbing his wife has said he is enjoying a luxury life in prison and boasted that he was "better off inside". Donal Kelleher, 37, an inmate at HMP Cardiff, said that his en suite accommodation was "outstanding" and disclosed that he was paid œ10 a week - to study for a maths GCSE - which he spends on cigarettes, chocolate and "other luxury goods".

A prison officer who has worked at Cardiff for 15 years said last week that inmates were simply sitting in their cells watching snooker on television or playing computer games. He added that a new health care centre put local hospitals "to shame" and made it easier to see a dentist than on the "outside". The extraordinary claims were made after The Daily Telegraph disclosed last week that a prison officers' leader said jails had become so comfortable that some inmates were ignoring chances to escape. Glyn Travis, the assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said the latest disclosure confirmed his fears and that "we need to address the root of what prisons are all about".

Kelleher, a former Welsh Guard, stabbed his wife Leanne seven times in the chest and back after she told him she was leaving him. He was jailed in 2005. But writing to a local newspaper from prison, he said: "I am better off in here. I could only imagine how cold it was this winter living on the streets." Kelleher added: "May I just say that the food and accomadation (sic) is of outstanding quality here. We have coulour (sic) TVs, on sweet (sic) facilities, everything is provided for us eg toiletries, laundry."

He stated that the education department at Cardiff was of a "very high standard". He said: "I'm currently doing a GCSE grade in maths which I am paid ten pound a week to achieve which I can spend on tobbacco (sic), chocolate and other luxury goods." The inmate signed the letter "Donal Kelleher, Prisoner No. GE7247, HMP Cardiff".

David Davies, the Conservative MP for Monmouth, visited the prison last year. He said: "I saw prisoners sitting in their cells watching television and playing computer games. "It seems to be an unwritten rule if they are left alone to do whatever they want they won't cause any trouble." "They have a right to be treated humanely but we have to remember they are in prison to be punished."

Sian West, the governor of Cardiff prison said last night: "It's ludicrous to say that prison is cushy." She added: "We endeavour to challenge all prisoners to use their time in Cardiff constructively. "Television sets purchased for in-cell prisoner use are paid for by the weekly rental fee of one pound paid by prisoners. "TVs can and will be removed from prisoners whose behaviour is deemed unacceptable."


Should Hate Speech be Banned?

The government of Canada prohibits speech directing hatred against persons of a particular color, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation (the "Hate Propaganda" sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada). Oddly, Canadian law permits hate speech if it is religiously motivated.

In contrast, in the USA, the First Amendment to the US Constitution has protected speech other than slander, libel, incitement to riot, and obscenity. Some religious preachers in the US have advocated genocide, and their hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. In Canada as well as some other countries, people are not allowed to incite or promote hatred or advocate genocide. For example, Sweden enacted a constitutional amendment in 2002 which includes sexual orientation in the groups that one may not target with "unfavorable speech." The United Kingdom bans incitement to racial hatred in its Public Order Act 1986.

These hate-speech laws are arbitrary and contradictory. First of all, by providing a list of groups that the law applies to, other groups are left as targets of hate speech. For example, the Canadian speech ban does not apply to women as a group. So one can utter hate talk about women, but not about some ethnic group. But why is it OK to say bad things about women but not about Italians or Germans? Moreover, if there is a religious bias against, say, Jews, why is it OK to express hatred against Jews if it is based on religious beliefs and not OK if it is a non-religious prejudice?

The basic problem with banning hate speech is that it prohibits acts which are offensive but not harmful. In natural moral law, as expressed by the universal ethic, it is evil to coercively harm others, but not evil to merely offend someone. If offensive speech is banned, then one is prohibited from speaking any time somebody does not like what you say. If offensive speech or behavior is prohibited, then the law is based on the arbitrary whims and beliefs of anyone.

The law should prohibit coercive harm to others regardless of which group categories someone belongs to. In France, for example, some Muslims are attacking Jews. In some neighborhoods, Jews are in danger even entering or leaving a synagogue, as Muslims throw rocks at them. Because of physical attacks and threats, Jews are abandoning these neighborhoods in France. This is not merely hate speech, but physical coercive harm, and it should be prohibited and penalized not because the target is a religious group but because coercive harm to others is evil, and the law should prohibit and penalize any coercive harm to others.

Hateful speech does hurt the feelings of the targeted group, but if it does not put them in physical danger, it is not coercive harm. Hateful speech can be countered with opposing speech. Speech is a danger if it directly incites people to attack the targeted group, so if someone says, "Let's go and attack lesbians," and people then do attack them, that speech should be penalized, as it is part of the physical attack. But if someone merely expresses contempt for lesbians, that should not be banned. The response to physical attacks should include both criminal and civil remedies. One should be able to sue someone who attacks you, even if he just spits on you or pushes you. High penalties for physical attacks would deter most of them.

The police in many areas are lax on dealing with violence, but zealous in acting against victimless crimes. They are in many cases following the culture. Television and movies depict the most horrible violence, yet if particular words are uttered, there are high penalties.

One can understand laws prohibiting hate speech, since the designated groups have been subject to hate, prejudice, and negative discrimination. In many places, homosexuals, religious minorities, and members of racial and ethnic groups have been physically persecuted, and the law is trying to protect them. But there is moral confusion as to what is good and evil. By going too far and stifling free expression, the law itself becomes evil.

Canada, the U.K., Sweden, and other countries have gone too far. The U.S. also goes too far when it inflicts huge fines for broadcasting bad words and for brief depictions of body parts. It should never be illegal to merely offend others. The law should only prohibit invasions into the domain of others - physical attacks and threats to physically attack.

That is the natural moral law that, as philosopher John Locke said, is based on reason, which "teaches all mankind who will but consult it." Locke said that consulting reason, we should all be able to come to the same logical moral conclusions. Unfortunately, most folks don't even try to use reason in making moral judgments, but use their prejudices, even if well intentioned. Good intentions without the full use of reason leads to further oppression in the end.



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, May 01, 2008

America, You Have Been Had

Liberals are right about the "Right-wing Noise Machine." It really is a wonder to behold, and last week it was performing like a well-tuned NASCAR race car. They say that liberals are all prepared for the inevitable "swift-boating" of Barack Obama. Look behind you, liberals. It already happened and, like last time, it was an own-goal scored by liberals.

This time it's Bill Moyers' fault. Why, oh why, Bill, did you decide that you had to put Reverend Wright up Bill Moyers Journal on April 25, 2008 so that we could all hear his side of the story? You must know that the sooner Reverend Wright is rusticated to his $1.5 million house in a gated suburban Chicago development and never heard from again the better. So when Reverend Wright indicated on Bill Moyers' show that his sermons had been taken out of context the eevil right-wing talk-show host Hugh Hewitt saw his opening. He put the whole of Reverend Wright's post 9/11 sermon and his post Iraqi Freedom sermon up on his website and ran them on his show in drive time. I imagine that there wasn't a single bitter "god-and-guns" right-wing knuckle-dragging conservative who didn't have to stop the car to let the red mist of rage dissipate.

In his sermons Reverend Wright thoughtfully rehearses to an appreciative audience every humiliation ever suffered by African Americans in North America as though it had happened yesterday. He does not even forget to include the constitution's relegation of slaves to the status of three-fifths of a person. "Government lies!" he thunders again and again. Just to be sure that nobody misses the point the able rhetorician directs each congregant to turn to the person next to her and say: "Government lies!" The purpose of such a sermon is obvious. It is to raise the consciousness of Reverend Wright's congregants to fever pitch, to forge them into unity against their elected government, to prepare them for the moral equivalent of war.

It comes as a blow to the solar plexus to confront the fact that in urban African American communities all across America a frank racist hate-filled rhetoric is not merely condoned but actually celebrated. We white conservatives have been taught for the last generation to button our lips and never to give utterance to a racist thought. We thought that we were parties to a bargain: that if we shut up and truckled to the liberal race bullies sooner or later we would emerge from the post civil-rights era and its hypocrisies of affirmative action and diversity and we would ascend to the sunny green uplands of post-racism.

Now we hear the ravings of Reverend Wright and realize that we have been had. While we were buttoning our lips and attending compulsory diversity seminars liberals were not holding up their end of the deal and neutralizing the Reverend Wrights of America and their vicious racist bile. On the contrary, liberals were pumping them up! We used to wonder how it could be that blacks voted 90 percent for Democrats. How could this be, we wondered, when you can never get more that 60 percent of the rest of America to take sides on anything? We instinctively felt that it had to take something extraordinary to create such "unity" in the African American community. Now we know what it is. It is not just a few loose cannons like Reverends Jackson and Sharpton. It is, you might say, institutional.

I don't think we yet realize what a watershed moment this is in American politics. All of a sudden the veil has been ripped away from a sacred mystery and a horror revealed to an innocent world. We know why this systemic and shameful horror has been allowed to pollute America. The day that blacks stop voting 90-10 for Democrats is the day before the day that liberals will be out of a job. Some things are just more important than peace, justice, and racial harmony in America.

But there is more to the Wright story than that. It took me several days to realize what was wrong with the Reverend Wright's sermonizing--apart from its general meanness and its hatred of America. Finally, the penny dropped. Reverend Wright: didn't you get the message? The civil-rights struggle is over. African Americans won. You won perhaps the noblest, most stunning victory in all history. Why do you daub its shimmering white marble monument with filth and bile? A word to the wise, Reverend. Winston Churchill said it best: In defeat, defiance. In victory, magnanimity.

After your army has won a great victory you change the rhetoric. You stop the resentment and the defiance. Instead you inaugurate a new rhetoric that celebrates the glorious victory and memorializes the Fallen as eternal heroes. Even our liberal friends do this when they go on and on about how wonderful liberals passed wage and hour legislation, worker rights, Social Security, civil rights, women's rights, gay and lesbian rights.


Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Ruling Denies Christian Ministry's Right to be Christian

Ruling has the Christian community in Canada deeply concerned for religious freedom

The ruling of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against a Christian ministry serving disabled people in Ontario has the Christian community in Canada deeply concerned for religious freedom. Don Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, summarized the situation by way of analogy in a article in the National Post today. He wrote: "Imagine that Mother Theresa and her Missionaries of Charity had been told that their ministry in the streets of Calcutta was, in essence, not ministry but 'social work.' In order for the sisters to continue in their work, they would no longer be permitted to require that staff members share their beliefs and ministry commitment."

Christian Horizons (CH), the group in question, describes itself as "an evangelical ministry seeking to reach out with Christian love to people with disabilities." Its services have been so well received by the province that it has become the largest provider of community living services in the province providing care and residential services to 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals with over 180 residential homes across Ontario, and 2,300 employees. CH receives $75 million in funding annually from the Ontario government in order to carry out these services.

CH has always been up front about being a Christian ministry. They have a statement on their website that says that the top criteria for their employees is, "A commitment to personal conduct and lifestyle consistent with the values and principles of Christian Horizons."

Connie Heintz, the former employee who launched the complaint against CH which led to the current ruling, had, like all employees, signed a "morality statement" as a condition of employment, promising not to engage in "homosexual relationships", among other un-Christian activities such as "extra-marital sexual relationships (adultery)", "pre-marital sexual relationships (fornication)", "viewing or reading pornographic material" and "lying".

Hutchinson's comparison between Mother Teresa's sisters in India and CH's operations in Canada is particularly apt. In India Mother Teresa's sisters were often persecuted by Hindu extremists because they wore their habits - wore, as it were, their Christianity 'on their sleeves'. Hutchinson told LifeSiteNews.com, "It is unreasonable for any tribunal to make a decision which assumes that faith and practice can be severed and in this case the capacity for practice in the type of ministry that Christian Horizons exhibits is dependent on a shared faith commitment amongst its staff."

One very alarming aspect of the ruling, according to Evangelicals, is that the OHRT is requiring that all of CH's 2,500 employees be given a pro-homosexuality "human rights training program". Rev. Royal Hamel, spokesman for Campaign Life Evangelical told LifeSiteNews.com that the situation was reminiscent of Orwell's novel '1984' where the 'Ministry of Truth' was used to indoctrinate citizens into believing the currently held lies of the state. "It's 2008 and we've finally reached 1984," he said.


It's official: it is now a crime in Britain to be arrogant

The imprisonment of Abu Izzadeen for the `criminal offence' of Talking Bollocks In A Mosque represents a grave assault on free speech

Like me, you probably don't care very much about what happens to Abu Izzadeen, the Radical Cleric Formerly Known as Trevor. He's the ranting mullah best known for heckling former home secretary John Reid in 2006, who was born plain old Trevor Brooks in Hackney, London, and who worked as a BT technician until he decided to convert to Islam and spend his adult life making finger-wagging speeches about evil Jews, British kaffirs, and how `magnificent' 9/11 was. For all I care, Trev can go to hell. In fact, maybe he should make real his promise to become a suicide bomber and `be blown into pieces, with my hands in one place and my feet in another' (1). That sounds like a fitting end for this fancy-dress `terrorist'. just so long as he does it far, far away from other human beings.

However, you should care - a lot - about the implications of the arrest, trial and imprisonment of Izzadeen on charges of `inciting terrorism' and `fundraising for terrorists'. On Friday, Izzadeen was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court, after being found guilty of these terrorist offences; five of his cronies received sentences of between two and four years. Reading the coverage of Izzadeen's trial over the weekend, you could be forgiven for thinking that he had literally shaken a tin to collect cash for terrorist groups, and then posted the contents to training camps in Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, his only `crimes' were crimes of thought and speech - he has been jailed for what he said, and even for how he said it, rather than for anything that he did. His imprisonment represents a new low blow to freedom of speech in Britain.

There was a time when `inciting terrorism' would have meant convincing and cajoling an individual or a group of individuals to commit a terrorist atrocity. And there was a time when `fundraising for terrorists' would have meant, well, raising funds for terrorists: that is, collecting money and handing it over to a terrorist group for the purposes of buying weaponry, semtex, flying lessons or some other item or thing likely to be useful in the commission or execution of an act of terrorism. Not any more. In the trial of Izzadeen and his accomplices, there was not a jot of evidence that anyone had been incited to terrorism by their words, or indeed that their words had been intended as a direct form of incitement, or that Izzadeen, his mates or anyone else who listened to their cranky sermons had sent money to terrorist training camps in Iraq. No, Izzadeen was found guilty and sentenced to four years' imprisonment on the basis of a rambling, incoherent 11-hour `protest sermon' he gave at Regents Park Mosque in November 2004. During the sermon, Izzadeen, who was surrounded by a tiny group of like-minded losers, slated the actions of the American and British armies in Iraq and praised 9/11.

At one point, he also said the following: `Fight the [enemy] with your wealth. Jihad with money, jihad with money. The jihad is to give money for weapons, for tanks, for RPGs, for M16s.' (2) Nasty words, no doubt. But no evidence was presented at Izzadeen's trial to show that those three sentences, delivered during an 11-hour dirge, were part of a broader fundraising campaign, or that anyone sent money to Iraqi insurgents upon hearing Izzadeen's comments. And yet Izzadeen and others were found guilty of `fundraising for terrorists' as surely as if they had been caught red-handed with dollars destined for the coffers of al-Qaeda. Likewise, no evidence was presented to show that Izzadeen's words incited anyone to go to Iraq and blow up some Brits or Yanks; instead it has been argued that his comments `contributed to an atmosphere' in which some Muslims consider killing to be a religious duty (3). Contributed to an atmosphere? When it comes to `indirect incitement', that is about as indirect as it gets.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Izzadeen's real offence was to Talk Bollocks In A Mosque - and whatever you might think of his vile ideas and gruff manner, Talking Bollocks In A Mosque should not be a crime, certainly not one punishable by four years' imprisonment. Izzadeen has effectively been found guilty, not of being a terrorist, but of being a fantasist - of dressing up and adopting the demeanour of a bin Laden-style motormouth mullah who thinks it is big and clever to sing the praises of violent jihad. There's no denying that Izzadeen had a point when he said during his trial that he and his accomplices had used `no other weapon than our tongue' - and so long as you are using your tongue to speak, rather than, say, to poke someone's eye out, then its use should never be a crime (4).

Does the sending down of Izzadeen show that the authorities are using the trials of ugly, unpopular, unctuous Muslim clerics - with whom nobody could possibly sympathise - to experiment with new restrictions on free speech? Certainly, there are good reasons why all of us should be deeply concerned about the precedents set by the imprisonment of this jester-jihadist.

First, the case shows how flabby the category of incitement has become today. Traditionally, in the eyes of the law, incitement involved a close relationship between two parties, where one encouraged, implored or cajoled the other into doing something criminal. Now it seems we can be incited by overhearing the words of a preacher in a mosque, or by watching a DVD of one of his sermons (5). This further erodes the distinction between thought and action, giving rise to the dangerous idea that speech itself is a potentially lethal act, which can easily and unwittingly provoke violence, or the funding of violence, or `create an atmosphere' in which killing becomes more common. Indeed, in Izzadeen's trial, speech and terrorism were treated as one and the same: his words were described as `terrorist fundraising' and as `incitement to terrorism'. In short, words themselves are a form of terror.

The promiscuous redefinition of incitement is bad news for all of us. If the words spoken in a mosque, on a street corner or at a public rally are redefined as violent things in themselves, then that opens up thought and speech to the closer scrutiny and policing of the authorities. Moreover, the new view of incitement calls into question the existence of free will itself. Where the old legal definition of incitement viewed individuals as rational and reasonable, and in need of intense coaxing before they could be said to have been incited, in the current definition of incitement individuals are seen as vulnerable, unthinking automatons who can be provoked into violence upon overhearing a few sentences spoken by a robe-wearing loudmouth. In imprisoning Izzadeen, the authorities are sending a loud and clear message, not only to radical clerics, but to the rest of us too: `We're putting him away to protect your naive, reactive minds from his poisonous terror-words.'

Second, Izzadeen's trial shows how a nervous British elite is using new anti-terror legislation to shield itself from what it sees as political attack and criticism. Bethan David, the Crown Prosecution Service's counterterrorism lawyer, insisted that Izzadeen's imprisonment was not about making it an `an offence to have negative views about Britain and its values and culture'; rather it simply showed that it is an offence to `encourage acts of violence' (6). The lawyer doth protest too much. In making it a crime to `glorify terrorism', and in defining certain words and expressions as terrorist acts, the British authorities' new anti-terror legislation is deeply and politically censorious. When the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer was asked in 2005 to define what kind of speech would be outlawed by new anti-terror laws, he said that people `attacking the values of the West' could be imprisoned for `long periods' of time (7). It seems contemporary British society is so fragile that it is scared of words; it is so uncertain about what its own core `values and culture' are that it desperately erects a forcefield of censorship around them in the hope that no one will knock them down.

Third, Izzadeen's trial shows how keen the authorities are to police our emotions as well as what we say and what we do. In his summing up, the judge attacked Izzadeen for being `arrogant [and] contemptuous'. To one of the other defendants, the judge said: `You are someone with extremist and dangerous views. Not only the words themselves, but the tone in which they were issued, showed the depth of your fanatical zeal.' So is it now a crime to be arrogant? Is it an offence not only to say certain words but also to say them in a particular tone? Perhaps all of us should watch what we say and how we say it, lest our tone upset one of the law lords. Izzadeen and his cronies were not only found guilty of speech crimes and Thoughtcrimes - they were also sent down for Tonecrimes, for putting the wrong kind of emotion into the words that they dared to speak in public.

The irony of all this is that if anyone provided the odious Izzadeen with a public platform it was Britain's own political and media elite. This buffoon with a miniscule number of followers was invited on to BBC Radio 4's Today programme and BBC TV's Newsnight to comment on 7/7, the war in Iraq and the outlook of British Muslims. Following his heckling of John Reid in an east London mosque in 2006, he was transformed into a media and political bogeyman. His `threat' was discussed at high-level government and police meetings. The DVDs showing him `inciting terrorism' in Regents Park Mosque in November 2004 were discovered during a police raid in 2006 and then made public, later becoming the basis for the trial. Prior to that, Izzadeen would have been lucky if three men and a goat had watched his recorded rantings; it was the police's actions that brought the rants to wider public attention. Given that every report still refers to Izzadeen as `the cleric who heckled John Reid', perhaps his true crime was to Embarrass New Labour In The Media.

Izzadeen's trial was a showtrial; worse than that, it was a showtrial of a straw man. The authorities turned him into a panto villain in recent years, and then made a spectacle of throwing him off the stage while sections of the media whooped and cheered them on. And in the process, free speech, the distinction between thought and action, and free will itself have been further dragged through the dirt. The showtrial of Izzadeen has been more harmful to British democracy and freedom than the idiot Izzadeen could ever have hoped to be.


On the Cosmic Meaning of Race

I guess it's hard to avoid the big kerfuffle of the day, which is Jeremiah Wright's speech before the NAACP over the weekend, in which he claimed that "black brains" have a different neurological structure than "white brains," so that cultural differences would be rooted in our hardware, not our software, so to speak. (Here is a link to the video.) Ironically, this is what got the authors of The Bell Curve in so much trouble a decade ago, for it is strictly forbidden to entertain the idea that race could involve any "essential" differences as opposed to "accidental" ones.

Now, there is no question that Jeremiah Wright is a lunatic, a racist, and a hate-monger, but that's beside the point, for truth -- if it is truth -- cannot be sullied by its vehicle. 2 + 2 = 4 is no less true even if it comes out of the deranged mouth of a Keith Olbermann. But let's look at this in a detached and disinterested way, and see if there's any truth to it.

This subject is truly the "third rail" of academia, so I will no doubt say something offensive in what follows -- or, at the very least, something that will be willfully misunderstood. On the one hand, we're all supposed to be obsessed with race and racial differences, and yet, deny that they have any intrinsic basis. If you are a politically correct leftist, you must simultaneously believe that race is "everything" and yet "nothing." It is of the utmost importance in judging people, and yet, of no importance at all. To believe there are racial differences is to automatically brand oneself a nazi, even if one is positively disposed to the differences. It's a very confusing message. Remember the Seinfeld episode, in which Jerry proclaimed that he loved Asian women? Elaine responded, "that's so racist!," and a bewildered Jerry asked words to the effect of, "how can it be racist? I said I love them."

As an example of how ideology shapes scientific perception -- or what the scientist is "permitted" to believe, and even perceive -- it has long been assumed in anthropological circles that race is entirely contingent and superficial. We are all descended from the same small band of Homo sapiens from as recently as 70,000 years ago, and that's just too short a time in evolutionary terms to result in any real changes to the human genotype. On this assumption, all human beings are genetically no different than a human being from 70,000 years ago. I am hardly the first to observe that this stance is largely an institutional reaction to the monstrosities of the racial theories of the 20th century and to the legacy of Western slavery.

The most recent scientific evidence suggests that the idea that evolution ceased 70,000 years ago is simply untrue. Awhile back I posted on Nicholas Wade's Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors (Wade is a science writer for the New York Times, no less), and he says that there is no question that significant genetic changes have taken place within just a few generations as a result of certain human groups being isolated from one another.

I don't recall all of the details, but I do recall Wade's example of the Ashkenazi Jews, whom he said rapidly developed higher IQs because they were prevented from working in most fields as a result of European anti-Semitism. In short, Jews could mostly find work in "disreputable" fields that required a certain kind of more abstract mental ability as opposed to "honest labor." But Jews got the last laugh, as they were genetically selected for higher IQs in a very short span of time. If this is true, it would explain why Ashkenazi Jews continue to have a significantly higher IQs than the average. (That's not me talking, but Wade summarizing the scientific evidence.)

Another relevant book along these lines is Richard Nisbett's The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why. The Publishers Weekly review says the book "may mark the beginning of a new front in the science wars. Nisbett, an eminent psychologist..., contends that 'human cognition is not everywhere the same' -- that those brought up in Western and East Asian cultures think differently from one another in scientifically measurable ways.... Westerners tend to inculcate individualism and choice..., while East Asians are oriented toward group relations and obligations ('the tall poppy is cut down' remains a popular Chinese aphorism). Next, Nisbett presents his actual experiments and data, [which] seem to show East Asians [to be] measurably more holistic in their perceptions (taking in whole scenes rather than a few stand-out objects). Westerners, or those brought up in Northern European and Anglo-Saxon-descended cultures, have a 'tunnel-vision perceptual style' that focuses much more on identifying what's prominent in certain scenes and remembering it."

Now, I am not a big fan of IQ testing as a measure of general intelligence, and I believe that any average human being is equipped to comprehend absolute truth; conversely, a high IQ in no way correlates with conformity to truth, much less to creativity. If anything, the opposite is true. After a certain cut-off point, a high IQ is associated with less creativity, not to mention a narcissistic pride that results in idiosyncratic deviations from truth, which are no more than an egoic and thoroughly disposable "song of myself." Conformity to truth requires a humility that is too often lacking in the intellectually grandiose.

We needn't look further than leftist academia to appreciate the truism that a certain kind of one-dimensional high intelligence more often than not correlates with systematic nonsense, not truth. For example, college educated people vote overwhelmingly Republican, while people who have attended graduate school (business or economics excepted, of course) vote overwhelmingly Democrat. This doesn't surprise me in the least, as the problem of over-education is actually much more harmful than the problem of under-education. The latter group causes relatively few societal problems compared to the former. This is why William F. Buckley famously quipped that he would prefer to be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston telephone book than the Harvard faculty, and why he was correct. It truly takes an over-educated buffoon to believe most of the nonsense that comes out of academia.

You can only be a racist if you believe that race is unvaryingly rooted in genetics, and that certain groups are unavoidably superior and therefore inferior. But again, what if different groups are just different, but not in any pejorative sense? Or, what if each group has its strengths and weakness, so that it is once again not a matter of "either/or" but "both/and"? Just as the human being is not male or female, but the complementarity of male/female, what if the archetypal Man is all of the races harmoniously combined? What if we really should cherish the differences rather than use them as a battering ram for leftist grievance-mongering and victimization?

The most up-to-date research on intelligence indicates what should be a truism, that intelligence is not only not a general construct (or not only), but that it has many relatively independent "modules." For example, one can obviously be a musical genius but a political dolt. Too many painful examples come to mind. Likewise, one can be a scientific genius, like Einstein, and be a philosophical mediocrity and political nuisance. Or, one can be a religious genius and be a scientific kook. One can have rhetorical skills, like Obama, which conceal an intellect that is mediocre, or poor rhetorical skills, like President Bush, and have a superior IQ.

Now, I don't happen to believe that race is genetic -- or only genetic (everything is by definition genetic in some sense, so it's a tautology). Furthermore, one of the most critical points to bear in mind is that intelligence is on a Bell curve anyway, so that each group actually contains all of the human potential, just in a different mixture. Yes, the vast majority of immortal jazz musicians were black, and I believe only could have been black. And yet there have been some white jazz musicians that also achieved aesthetic perfection, e.g., Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Art Pepper.

As Schuon observed -- and Schuon is a person who not only loved racial differences, but truly cherished them -- "If racism is to be rejected, so is an anti-racism which errs in the opposite direction by attributing racial difference to merely accidental causes and which seeks to reduce to nothing these differences by talking about blood-groups, or in other words by mixing up things situated on different levels." To put it another way, nothing as precious and valuable as these differences could be a result of mere genetic shuffling. Thus the differences between, say, Taosim and Christianity, which really do involve different "inflections" of the one truth, even though -- at least according to Schuon -- they are each "complete."

What we call "race" must be a combination of genetics, culture, archetypal essences, and individuality. So it is impossible in principle to reduce someone to his race, even if we can discuss it in general terms. Furthermore, it seems to be something we can't help noticing, even if we needn't attach any negative connotations to it. For example, my son's best friends are a Japanese boy; a Chinese-American girl; an African-American adoptee of a white couple; and a boy and girl of a mixed Caucasian/African American couple. We assumed that Tristan would grow up not noticing race, but the other night we were watching a Dodger game, with the Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on the mound. Tristan happily exclaimed, "he looks like KK!," his little Japanese friend.

One of the reasons I am so disoriented by the left, is that by the 1970s, like any good liberal, I had been naive enough to believe that Americans really were "beyond race." I was raised to believe that it was of no importance, and I didn't even know any liberals who believed otherwise. It seems to me that only with the OJ trial was the mask ripped off, and the full extent of the horror of invidious leftist race obsessions became apparent. That's when it dawned on me with great force that these people are not like me. Not African-Americans. The left. And that is much deeper than any mere racial difference. Let's put it this way: I am a different race than Jeremiah Wright, but the same one as Thomas Sowell. But I wish I were the same race as Bobby Bland or Van Morrison....



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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