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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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sweeping Away the Traditional from the Public Square

Americans may have just embarked on these most ritualistic weeks of the year stretching between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, but something is clearly different this time around. It isn't that the customary rites show signs of change. Americans roasted ceremonial turkeys by the million on Thanksgiving Day to sustain themselves as they hunt and gather goods to disperse during Hanukkah or on Christmas morning. There will be fewer big-ticket items and more discounted goods given this year, but that's not the difference. Nor am I sensing resistance to red and green, nor a break in the continuous loop of "Silver Bells" and "Silent Night" that, by melodic rote, choreographs the patterns of holiday behavior.

In other words, everything promises to look and sound what you might call traditional. But the fact is, "traditional" is out. The rock-solid assumptions on which society is built have gone wobbly, while the guideposts to "traditional" behaviors are, of course, long gone. That's the lesson of the poisonously volcanic aftermath to Proposition 8, the ballot measure defining marriage as between one man and one woman, which California voters approved on Election Day by a margin of 52.5 to 47.5 percent.

How can "traditional" be out when what is now being labeled "traditional marriage" won at the polls? To begin with, framing husband-wife nuptials as "traditional" marriage already implies the existence of alternative forms of wedlock. Indeed, the very act of throwing open the definition of marriage to a vote reveals how dramatically notions of the traditional have already changed, transformed beyond even recognition to prior generations.

In a state that Barack Obama won, 61 percent to John McCain's 37 percent, "traditional marriage" also triumphed, clearly but not overwhelmingly, due to strong support -- exit polling indicates -- from church-going voters, senior citizens, Republicans, a slim majority of Hispanic voters, and a whopping 70 percent of black voters. Yet the question remains: despite the will of the California electorate, how has tradition fallen from favor?

Tradition as pariah is the message of the past weeks of protests, boycotts, firings, condemnation and revilement of supporters of Prop. 8, not only by same-sex marriage activists but also by leading figures in the political, media, educational and entertainment establishments. This message tells us that the public square no longer enshrines, protects or even recognizes the traditional. Indeed, this central clearing house of society, where custom, rites, communication and conduct are vetted and approved, has aggressively ejected tradition and its supporters, going so far as to stigmatize the sacred, time-tested conception of marriage as being indecent, if not anathema.

And such cultural whiplash has been weirdly accepted if not welcomed by the traditionalists, if their overwhelmingly apologetic reactions to their own political and moral ostracism are any measure. Sure, they belong to a majority backed by thousands of years of civilization, but those who dared to vote, or worse, contribute money to "restrict" marriage to one man and one woman now seek to make amends and apologize for their loudly derided beliefs. From Scott Eckern, the musical theater director in Sacramento who, having been "outed" for contributing $1,000 to support Prop. 8, resigned under pressure, to Marjorie Christoffersen, co-owner of a well-liked Los Angeles eatery, whose $100 donation in support of "traditional" marriage brought hundreds of protestors to the restaurant, the response has been one of guilty contrition.

Not coincidentally, both Eckern and Christoffersen are Mormons. The brunt of the protests and public opprobrium has been directed at Mormons, whose church strongly supported Prop. 8, with many of its followers donating generously to the campaign. Of course, other churches support "traditional" marriage, including black churches, but anti-8 activists are not boycotting businesses owned by black supporters of Prop. 8. In a shameful display of easy-mark bigotry, anti-8 activists have instead seized on the weakest link in the pro-8 chain -- Mormons -- for public flaying. Indeed, anti-8 protestors continue to plan boycotts against enterprises owned by Mormon supporters of Prop. 8, from Cinemark Theaters to A1 Self-Storage. Some anti-8 activists are pushing a boycott of the upcoming Sundance Film Festival for its ties to Utah, headquarters of the Mormon church.

The point here doesn't seem to be simply to win fair and square at the polls, which, frankly, is a darn good bet for same-sex marriage proponents come 2010. This year's large black turnout, inspired by Barack Obama and said to have put Prop. 8 over the top, is unlikely to be duplicated in an off-year election. A lower black turnout might well clear the way for a fairly speedy democratic repeal of Prop. 8. No, this current anti-8 effort seems to be about something else. Something different. Something more like cleansing the public square, ostentatiously, of tradition and its followers. I wonder whether just hanging a bunch more holiday lights will keep everyone from noticing.


The Testosterone Crisis

The sweeping Democratic electoral victory has left many conservative Americans concerned about their children's future. With the federal government, educational establishment, entertainment industry and media thoroughly in the hands of the left, disturbing questions surface concerning the kinds of values our children will begin to accept as "mainstream." Matters get worse when one considers what might become forced indoctrination in "community service" organizations as a prerequisite for college admission.

These concerns were on my mind during a recent outing with my young children to a local playground. While I watched my kids try to scale walls, climb ropes, and navigate through other challenging structures various male voices I had obviously missed on previous visits to the park suddenly resonated. "Try it on your own" or "you don't need any help with this one" the gaggle of fathers would say as their sons and daughters sized up various obstacles. And while many of the moms cringed on the benches the young ones tripped, fell, clawed, and cried at times but they usually ended up victorious.

The ancient Chinese thinkers would have called my local park a microcosm of nature -- a dynamic reciprocity between the forces of feminine yin and masculine yang. It is as natural for the moms to be overly concerned about the bumps and bruises as it is for the fathers to be encouraging independence and self-reliance. Yin and yang represent two complementary energies in nature, the balance of which determines the health and harmony of a marriage, a family, a village, and even a nation. These same Chinese philosophers warned however that unhealthy families, like unhealthy nations, are usually the victims of an overabundance of either the feminine yin or the masculine yang.

Chinese emperors for example attempted to head off this underlying and menacing threat of imbalance by castrating their ministers. Why? Too much yang testosterone in the palace would lead to dangerous factions and competition. More eunuchs around the court meant the palace would be a better reflection of the harmony in nature. Imperial concubines would also be sheltered from potential male rivals of the potentate, but this was entirely incidental to the theory.)

While an excess of yang energy was considered explosive and dangerous, what happens in a country like contemporary America when there seems to be a dangerous oversupply of feminine yin?

In his book The Suicide of Reason Lee Harris argues that our present state of liberal democracy has led to "eliminating the alpha males from our midst, and at a dizzyingly accelerating rate." Instead of supporting and valuing testosterone's virtues we're "drugging our alpha boys with Ritalin." In addition, one could view Barack Obama's election as the triumph of yin over yang. Obama's policies promise to cast the father out of America's parks and replace him with the more "caring" and yin oriented federal government. For Lee Harris however the feminization of American men comes at an extremely high price:
"The end of testosterone in the West alone will not culminate in the end of history, but it may well culminate in the end of the West."
It was in ancient Greece for example when the West began to associate the masculine yang voice with freedom and self-reliance. Why? Because when Athenian citizens perused the known world they noticed something rather curious: in no country other than Greece did citizens enjoy freedom or the virtues of democratic government. Famous Greeks like the fifth century B.C. physician Hippocrates attempted to explain this fascinating anomaly. What Hippocrates and other Greek observers all tended to conclude was that the rest of the world's subjects must be "effeminate" or else, like the Greeks, they would have demanded -- like real men -- to be left alone by their leaders.

In his essay On Airs, Waters, and Places for example Hippocrates notes that those who endure life under a despot are "cowardly, as I have stated before, for their souls are enslaved." Greeks however are "independent, and enjoy the fruits of their own labors," and in addition they "encounter dangers on their own account, bear the prizes of their own valor, and in like manner endure the punishment of their own cowardice." The good doctor concludes with a rather chilling observation: "A man's disposition will be changed by his institutions." In short, what Hippocrates argues is that the more "maternalistic" the government, the less the citizenry will value freedom.

We can now start to understand part of Obama's appeal. Alpha males in this nation have been browbeaten in every profession, most notably in education. Indeed, the largest percentage ever of young, educated Americans in a presidential contest threw its support behind Barack Obama. In addition, whereas John Kerry received 51% of the female vote in 2004, Barack Obama garnered close to 60%. When black Americans overwhelmingly supported Obama to the tune of 90%, how much of this support was a product of race and how much was simply a product of a culture in which 70% of children are raised without fathers?

Both political parties now believe that they can garner votes by playing the yin, or compassion card. We've seen this with the Bush Administration and its heavily statist "compassionate conservatism." On the other hand, Democrats in congress thought that extending loans to unqualified borrowers was an act of compassion. An excess of yin is now causing many of our states, like California, to go broke. Despite these examples an "uncaring" America was the chief rallying cry of Barack and Michelle Obama during the recent election.

In his classic work Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville entitled one of his chapters "What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear." Near the end of the chapter there is a rather sobering observation:
"It is indeed difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people."
Will Americans become so subservient under an Obama administration that a future yang style candidate like Ronald Reagan becomes impossible? A healthy nation, like a healthy family, should have a proper balance of yin and yang. Ideally, the relationship should be a balance between yang's independence, competition, and merit, and yin's more gentle, cooperative, and egalitarian energy. We're at a critical moment in our history however when the forces of yin in American threaten to bury, not complement, yang. Despite what the radical feminists might tell you, alpha male energy is natural and necessary for many things, including national survival.

There's an eight year old boy in my neighborhood who still rides his bike with training wheels. There's no father at home. Is America looking at training wheels writ large? We know that most contemporary, estrogen-heavy Europeans would like to rid America of its testosterone. They may just get their wish.


Unending media bias against Israel

By Barry Rubin

I realized something important when reading a relatively marginal feature story from the Associated Press. It shows us that Palestinians don't really exist as a society but only as a set of victims. By definition, all-or to be fair, almost all, of their problems are said to come from Israel. Yet since the continuation of the conflict and their difficult situation comes first and foremost from within Palestinian politics and society, this kind of interpretation makes it impossible to understand why there is no peace, no Palestinian state, and no end of violence.

In Karen Laub, "Amid poverty, a Renaissance villa in the West Bank," November 26, 2008, provides a great opportunity to talk about the problems within Palestinian society. The story is about a "Palestinian tycoon [who] has created a tranquil paradise on a Holy Land mountaintop, with a replica of a famous Renaissance villa, sculpted gardens and a wrought-iron pavilion that once belonged to a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte."

We are immediately told, however, that this is to be compared, not to the impoverishment of his own society but rather to guess-who: "But even one of the West Bank's richest men cannot entirely shut out Israel's military occupation, army bases and Israeli settlements occupy hills surrounding the 100-acre estate."

Note that the mere existence of Israeli installations nearby is the "terrible" thing that allegedly cancels out this individual's Garden of Eden. Not that there is any direct effect, but the message is that all Palestinians are a subject people, no matter how rich they are. He may never meet an Israeli, he may live in a situation where he can accumulate wealth and act as a lord, he may live under Palestinian Authority rule but-we are told-this is deceptive. Because nothing matters but Israel's presence, even if it is barely in sight. I have learned not to take even the most basic claims of AP for granted so I do not assume that there are "army bases" or settlements in the area.

Only afterward however are we informed that maybe, just maybe, there is something wrong with this conspicuous display of wealth in the Palestinian context: "And some say such a display of wealth, the honey-colored Palladian mansion is visible for miles, is jarring at a time of continued economic hardship. At the foot of the mountain in Nablus, unemployment runs at 16 percent and the mayor says 40 percent of the 180,000 residents live in poverty." Jarring? How about asking the most basic questions, the kind that would be asked in covering any other society on earth?

The person in question is Munib Masri. The Masris are a large clan closely associated with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA). We are given the bare facts-he was close to Arafat, he formed a development company. But the points are made with the greatest possible delicacy: "Critics say some of the profits were made possible by a lucrative telecommunications monopoly the company held for several years." We are not told from whence this monopoly came-from the PA. The word corruption is never mentioned. Such a lack of curiosity about the sources of his wealth does not accord with journalistic practices in covering other stories. Indeed, the story of the telecommunications monopoly is one of the best-known stories of corruption among Palestinians. How PA and Fatah factions competed over the loot, how Arafat intervened directly into the issue. But for AP it is a story untold. The story should be as follows:

--The Palestinian upper economic and political class cares nothing for its own people.

--In its fourteen-year rule of the West Bank, the PA has focused on looting it rather than on raising living standards and providing good government.

--Billions of dollars in international aid donations have disappeared, probably paying for a large portion of Masri's mansion.

--The PA's failures are blamed on Israel both by the PA itself, Western governments, and the international media.

--Palestinian suffering is not primarily due to Israel but to their own leaders.

--A lot of Israel's success has been due to Jews around the world making both investments and donations. Palestinians have not been forthcoming in supporting their own "state," a point well-known in Palestinian circles. (An exception here, of course, is in backing Hamas's terrorist campaign in recent years.)

--Anyone who keeps their eyes open will see other huge, albeit less impressive than this one, mansions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Even other members of Masri's own family have been criticized for their ostentation. While this estate may be the most extreme case, it is hardly an exception in that regard.

--Wealthy Palestinians do not give charity to help their poorer cousins. The PA doesn't even have a comprehensive tax system. Thus, the international community is left to support the Palestinians, and their oversized security apparatus.

--Violence sponsored by the PA was responsible for destroying the chance for their people to work in Israel, hitherto a major aid to their economy; the destruction of infrastructure; and the hesitation of investors, who are also put off by the PA's corruption and incompetence.

--Intransigence and the failure to reach a compromise solution stem from the Palestinian leadership, including Masri's buddy, Arafat.

Meanwhile, despite the hints in this article about a stifling Israeli occupation, Masri has no difficulty in proposing huge projects costing more than a half billion dollars. I suspect that these projects will never materialize but will be scams for ripping off foreign aid money. "Masri remains optimistic, even though independence appears no closer than when he first returned to the West Bank."

Hm, I wonder why they haven't achieved it yet. I sure won't learn it from AP coverage. And to switch to the broader picture, consider another Karin Laub effort, "Abbas ads make appeal to Israelis," November 21, 2008. The subtitle is, "The Palestinian's ads detail withdrawal terms first offered in a 2002 Arab Peace Initiative." Well, if the ads detail the terms, Laub certainly doesn't.

The 12-paragraph story never gets around to telling us what's in the offer and why Israel has a problem with it. The only reference to that point says, "An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem would bring them recognition by the Arab world." Of course, Israel has already withdrawn from all of Gaza, but at any rate it would have been easy for Laub to mention that the terms are for Israel to leave all of the West Bank and all of east Jerusalem, not one centimeter less. She merely had to insert the word "all." The point is that the way it is worded makes the offer seem more attractive than it is.

But that's not the worst part. Laub doesn't mention that the plan also demands that all-there's that word again-Palestinians who ever lived in any part of what is now Israel and all their descendents must be allowed to return to Israel. That's a few million people. To distort points of fact about the terms is scandalous and shameful. A couple of decades ago, AP would have issued a correction. But that's not the way things are done nowadays, is it?

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is only paraphrased as saying "its positions on key issues such as final borders, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees are not acceptable." There's no explanation as to why it is, presumably lest Israel's rejection be understood as a rational response.

And as always there is no mention of Palestinian refusal to meet Israel's needs. As always, we aren't even told about such things, which Abbas's adds don't mention: end of incitement to terrorism, a declared end to the conflict, no foreign troops on Palestinian soil. One might think that an ad campaign by the PA would say something about Palestinian positions.

The article concludes, "Many Israelis are also skeptical about a peace deal, in part because the embattled Abbas no longer speaks for all Palestinians."

Thank goodness that while it is impermissible to criticize the PA or Fatah, at least the media can talk about Hamas. We are then given a decent description of it as an "Islamic extremist group" which staged a "violent 2007 takeover, two years after a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the territory," and its firing of "thousands of rockets and mortars on Israeli border towns since the pullout." The article then notes, "Israelis fear a West Bank withdrawal could bring more attacks."

Of course, that's in the last paragraph. But two more reasons for Israeli skepticism should also be added: the failure of the PA to keep its past promises and its demands that Israel give everything without offering anything itself. Can we coin a phrase here? Much of the coverage can be called "anti-news" because it is deceptive nature. Perhaps there should be little labels affixed, like those on cigarette packs: Warning! Reading this article can be hazardous to your intellectual health.

Article above received by email direct from Prof. Rubin

What England Means to Me

By The Rt Hon Lord Tebbit, Conservative politician and former Member of Parliament for Chingford.

We are who we are by our parents' genes, by our inheritance of history and culture and our own experience of life. That inheritance of history may reach back to a time before one's family came to this island - in the case of my father's line, in the 16th century. So, to be English today is to be an inheritor of the most powerful language in the world - literature, art, science and technology, even sport, which have done so much to shape the world, and a philosophy or culture of government which has permeated not just the Anglosphere but great countries such as India.

We English are not an introspective people. We rarely think about England (except in the field of sport) unless something malfunctions. As for Britishness, that wider concept is a way of sharing with others living in this kingdom their history and culture and our own. It provides a banner around which we can all rally for mutual aid and strength.

Since the English have influenced and been influenced by almost every other nation we know that how others see us is as much about what they are as what we are. From time to time, if it seems to affect our interests we become anxious about that, especially if we are seen as weak, a soft touch or an unreliable friend, but being mostly content within our collective English skin we are neither extrovert nor introspective and leave others to make of us what they will.

Tolerant as we are, we do not require outsiders who come to live there to put on an English identity - but we do ask that they respect not just us but our English house - its fabric and its customs. Should they not like it we would not wish to detain them there - but if they and their children wish to join our tribe we see no reason to discriminate either against them or in their favour.

Quietly, as we look back at what the English family has done, what it has given to the wider world, we take pride - not arrogant nor puffed up pride, but honest pride in our history. That pride is patriotism and without it societies disintegrate into no more than crowds jostling for shoulders in one place.

For the English the modern cry for devolution sounds like a struggle to put back the clock and chop up the United Kingdom which has been of mutual benefit to all us British islanders. If that is what the others want so be it, but they should not think that they can have both their independence bun and their halfpenny too.

However, the concept of England is changing. The false doctrines of multiculturalism and the authoritarians preaching the doctrine of the big state ruling a citizenry denied the strengths of family and of religion and of history, has ruptured the English consensus. A growing underclass, the like of which England had not seen for centuries, rootless, feckless, ill educated and violent, has begun to infest England's great cities. The ballast of the respectable working and middle class families is shifting.

They may look for a while at outsiders from the Continent of Europe to resolve our difficulties - as the Romans and Normans did in their time - and the political classes of Brussels are eager to do today. Or they may look to an English hero - a twenty first century King Alfred - to define as he did what it meant to be English. His victory at Edington was the birth of England and the English which led through to the Magna Carta, the Tudors, the Empire, the Reform Acts and the 20th century wars to the flowering of an English culture whose power and reach has been rivaled only by that of China at its greatest. The English must soon choose. To succumb like Italy after Rome - or to rediscover what Alfred found in Wessex a thousand years ago.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, November 29, 2008

The rights of criminals still coming first in Britain

As thief gets away with caution, boss who marched him to police lands false imprisonment charge

A boss who marched a thieving worker to a police station with a placard round his neck has been charged with false imprisonment. Yet the criminal himself has escaped with just a slap on the wrist.

Simon Cremer took action against Mark Gilbert after learning he had cashed a forged company cheque. He hung a sign reading `Thief' on Gilbert and paraded him past shoppers on a busy high street before handing him to police. Now, however, officers have decided the thief should receive nothing more than a caution, while throwing the book at 44-year-old Mr Cremer, who thought he was making a citizen's arrest.

Mr Cremer and three workers from his carpet fitting firm who helped him overpower the sub-contractor have all been charged with false imprisonment - an offence that carries a maximum life term. Even Gilbert has expressed surprise that the men had been arrested, admitting: `I'm the criminal here.'

The charges came on the day Whitehall statistics showed tens of thousands of serious criminals are receiving only a caution - including rapists and paedophiles. But the number of criminals being sent to jail is at its lowest level for a decade.

Mr Cremer, a father of two, said yesterday: `I can't believe the police system. This is a guy who is a proven thief, he stole a cheque, forged a signature and took money by deception, surely there's enough to charge him. But no, he's been let off with a caution.' Mr Cremer, who has no criminal record, added: `I would do exactly the same thing again, especially now he has got off with a caution. I don't regret my action, the fact I tied his hands is the only bit I regret.'

His partner Karen Boardman, 44, who has just returned to work as a receptionist at a GP's surgery after treatment for breast cancer, attacked the `topsy-turvy justice' that could see Mr Cremer and his three employees spend time behind bars. She said: `I am disgusted. I have no faith left in the British justice system. "'The person that committed the crime has walked away, completely free. He will be sitting at home over Christmas, without a care, while Simon and the other three, who are all family men, have this hanging over them. `Their judgment was maybe clouded slightly because times are tough but I will not condemn what they've done. Even giving them a caution would be wrong.'

Mr Cremer, of Little Maplestead, Essex, was alerted to the theft in September when the Cash Converters company phoned him about a bounced cheque from his firm, In House Flooring. It emerged that Gilbert, from Colchester, who earned up to 1,000 pounds a week, had taken a cheque from an old book, written it out for 845 pounds, and cashed it for holiday spending money. He claims he was owed wages but his boss had been too busy to write out a cheque - a claim Mr Cremer vehemently denies.

When Gilbert next went in to work in Witham, Essex, he was wrestled to the floor, tied up and bundled into a van before being paraded 350 yards through the streets. In a scene reminiscent of the medieval approach to justice, when suspects were named and shamed by being sent to the village stocks, a cardboard sign was slung around his neck which read: `THIEF. I stole 845 pounds. Am on my way to police station.'

Gilbert claims he was punched, threatened with tools and feared for his life. But Mr Cremer insists no violence was used, although he `restrained' his employee for his own protection. Gilbert said of his former boss and colleagues: `I feel for them and I don't want anything bad to happen to them. But it wasn't really correct what they did to me.'


Freedom of religion does not give right to flout country's laws, says EU court as it backs ban on Sikh wearing turban in ID pic

While I have a general sympathy for migrants being encouraged to assimilate, I am not sure that this judgement is wise. If he normally wears a turban, would not a photo of him in a turban make him easier to identify?

A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers' licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights. Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new licence with a photograph of him wearing a turban. Under French regulations, motorists must appear 'bareheaded and facing forward' in their licence photographs but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.

Mr Singh, 52, took his case to the ECHR but the Strasbourg-based court dismissed the case. It ruled that 'identity photographs for use on driving licences which showed the subject bareheaded were needed by the authorities in charge of public safety.'

In a statement, it recognised that the rule on photographs 'amounted to interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of religion', but judged that this was justified. Freedom of religion 'did not always guarantee the right to behave in a manner governed by a religious belief and did not confer on people who did so the right to disregard rules that had proved to be justified,' the court said.

Mr Singh had complained to the court that the French regulations made no provision for separate treatment for members of the Sikh community. The court noted that Muslim women had to remove their headscarves for some identification purposes.


An unusually "incorrect" entertainer from Australia

Rolf tells it like it is: Aborigines do very little to help themselves -- so why should we worry?

Rolf Harris regrets the racist verse on Aborigines in Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, the song that made him famous in Britain and launched the wobbleboard on an unsuspecting music world.

In Melbourne yesterday to plug a book of illustrations of the same name, the singer and painter said he had tried to erase the lines "Let me Abos go loose" and "They're of no further use" from all recordings over the years, with limited success. "It was a mark of the times, done totally innocently with no realisation that you would offend at all . Just trying to create a fun song for a bunch of Aussies who were drinking themselves stupid on Swan Lager in London at the time," he said.

But half a century after penning the controversial lyrics, the London-based expatriate has not succumbed to political correctness. He blames traditional Aboriginal values for the dire living conditions in many indigenous communities. "The attitude is that in their original way of life they would really wreck the surrounding countryside that they lived in and they would leave all the garbage and they would go walkabout to the next place," he said. "The traditional attitude is still there and I wish there was a simple solution but I'm not certain."

He has strong views about some Aborigines lamenting the conditions of their communities. "You sit at home watching the television and you think to yourself, 'Get up off your arse and clean up the streets your bloody self' and 'Why would you expect somebody to come in and clean up your garbage which you've dumped everywhere?' But then you have to think to yourself that it's a different attitude to life."

Aboriginal children were never disciplined or expected to adhere to rules until adulthood, he said. "[Until] then they have a totally carefree life to do what they want and that quite often involves smashing everything that they have."


Australia. An old-fashioned responsible father: Good to see

Boy, 5, made to walk two-and-a-half hours to school

A NORTHERN TERRITORY man has been making his five-year-old son walk two-and-a-half hours to school every day, after he was kicked off the school bus. When Jack Burt confessed that he'd been banned for five days for hitting the bus driver in the head with an apple core, dad Sam thought he should learn the hard way. He and Jack last week were getting up at 5.10am for the dusty 13km-hike from the Darwin rural area of Herbert, all the way to Humpty Doo. Mr Burt also took the wheels off Jack's bike so he couldn't be tempted to ride to school.

At the end of the old-fashioned punishment, Mr Burt, 38, took out a public notice in the Northern Territory News. "Jack Burt and his dad wish to thank all the kind people who stopped to offer them lifts in the past week," the ad read. "It's good to see a number of good people in the community. Jack hopes to be allowed back on the bus on Monday."

But in the battle of wills between tall and short, the smart money's on Jack. "Shame it didn't work," Mr Burt told the Northern Territory News. "He got back on the bus Monday, and within three stops he was in trouble again. I couldn't believe it. "I don't understand - he's good at school, he gets awards all the time."

However, a breakthrough might be in sight. When Jack this week said he didn't mind walking - because it made him strong for fighting - he was told if he started fighting he might have to walk home in the afternoons too. Jack's eyes got a little teary. He said he might not get home before dark. Mr Burt told him not to worry - they'd leave the key out for him.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, November 28, 2008

Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

It's a safe bet, dear reader, that the title of this column has caused you to either (a) roll your eyes and wonder, What century do you think we're living in? or (b) scratch your head and ask, Yes, why don't we? Wherever you come down, the question defines a fault line in the civilized world's view about the latest encroachment of barbarism.

Year-to-date, Somalia-based pirates have attacked more than 90 ships, seized more than 35, and currently hold 17. Some 280 crew members are being held hostage, and two have been killed. Billions of dollars worth of cargo have been seized; millions have been paid in ransom. A multinational naval force has attempted to secure a corridor in the Gulf of Aden, through which 12% of the total volume of seaborne oil passes, and U.S., British and Indian naval ships have engaged the pirates by force. Yet the number of attacks keeps rising.

Why? The view of senior U.S. military officials seems to be, in effect, that there is no controlling legal authority. Title 18, Chapter 81 of the United States Code establishes a sentence of life in prison for foreigners captured in the act of piracy. But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.

What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention -- ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. -- enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. A recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows foreign navies to pursue pirates into Somali waters -- provided Somalia's tottering government agrees -- but the resolution expires next week. As for the idea of laying waste, Stephen Decatur-like, to the pirate's prospering capital port city of Eyl, this too would require U.N. authorization. Yesterday, a shippers' organization asked NATO to blockade the Somali coast. NATO promptly declined.

Then there is the problem of what to do with captured pirates. No international body similar to the old Admiralty Courts is currently empowered to try pirates and imprison them. The British foreign office recently produced a legal opinion warning Royal Navy ships not to take pirates captive, lest they seek asylum in the U.K. or otherwise face repatriation in jurisdictions where they might be dealt with harshly, in violation of the British Human Rights Act.

In March 2006, the U.S. Navy took 11 pirates prisoner, six of whom were injured. Not wanting to set a precedent for trying pirates in U.S. courts, the State Department turned to Kenya to do the job. The injured spent weeks aboard the USS Nassau, enjoying First World medical care.

All this legal exquisiteness stands in contrast to what was once a more robust attitude. Pirates, said Cicero, were hostis humani generis -- enemies of the human race -- to be dealt with accordingly by their captors. Tellingly, Cicero's notion of piracy vanished in the Middle Ages; its recovery traces the recovery of the West itself.

By the 18th century, pirates knew exactly where they stood in relation to the law. A legal dictionary of the day spelled it out: "A piracy attempted on the Ocean, if the Pirates are overcome, the Takers may immediately inflict a Punishment by hanging them up at the Main-yard End; though this is understood where no legal judgment may be obtained." Severe as the penalty may now seem (albeit necessary, since captured pirates were too dangerous to keep aboard on lengthy sea voyages), it succeeded in mostly eliminating piracy by the late 19th century -- a civilizational achievement no less great than the elimination of smallpox a century later.

Today, by contrast, a Navy captain who takes captured pirates aboard his state-of-the-art warship will have a brig in which to keep them securely detained, and instantaneous communications through which he can obtain higher guidance and observe the rule of law.

Yet what ought to be a triumph for both justice and security has turned out closer to the opposite. Instead of greater security, we get the deteriorating situation described above. And in pursuit of a better form of justice -- chiefly defined nowadays as keeping a clear conscience -- we get (at best) a Kenyan jail. "We're humane warriors," says one U.S. Navy officer. "When the pirates put down their RPGs and raise their hands, we take them alive. And that's a lot tougher than taking bodies."

Piracy, of course, is hardly the only form of barbarism at work today: There are the suicide bombers on Israeli buses, the stonings of Iranian women, and so on. But piracy is certainly the most primordial of them, and our collective inability to deal with it says much about how far we've regressed in the pursuit of what is mistakenly thought of as a more humane policy. A society that erases the memory of how it overcame barbarism in the past inevitably loses sight of the meaning of civilization, and the means of sustaining it.


An entire population raised on hate

TO spend a week in Israel is to begin to understand that this country is generations away from peace with Palestinians. The people here talk about tahadiya: a period of calm. To an outsider, it is a week of alarming disquiet where each day reveals yet another culprit killing the prospect of peace. What you see and hear is disturbing enough. Even more destructive to peace is that which is hidden from you. This is how the week unfolds.

Sunday: A Qassam rocket is launched from northern Gaza into Sderot, an Israeli town within 3km of the Hamas stronghold.

Monday: Three more rockets are fired into this small town of 20,000 Israelis that has endured thousands of rocket attacks in recent years. I arrive in Sderot by helicopter just ahead of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

I see some of the mangled Qassam rockets that have hit this town. The rockets proudly bear the brand of the terrorists who launch them, written in Hebrew so the Israelis know who is firing at them. The Israelis who later collect the rockets date each of them in white paint and pile them up at the local police station. More than a hundred rockets were launched after Israel destroyed a Hamas tunnel built to attack Israel, a tunnel like the one used in June 2006 by militants to kidnap Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from the edge of the Gaza strip. Shalit is the only Jew left in Gaza, a precious negotiating tool for Hamas. The Israeli Government has blocked access points to Gaza until the rockets stop.

Tuesday: A young Ethiopian woman, who has lost relatives to the rocket attacks from Gaza, tells me, "We don't count the rockets anymore". Three more qassam rockets slam into the fields of the Negev desert.

Wednesday: Two Qassam rockets land south of Ashkelon, a town well beyond the Gaza border, on the coast towards Tel Aviv.

Thursday: The Palestinian Authority runs advertisements in Israeli newspapers detailing in Hebrew Fatah's commitment to a peace plan. It is a meaningless commitment. Analysts call this a virtual negotiation. How can Israel negotiate peace with Palestinian interlocutors in Fatah, who have no control over Gaza, where more than 40 per cent of Palestinians live? If elections were held in the West Bank today, predictions are that Hamas would win there, putting an end to the co-operation that has stopped the terrorism emanating from that Palestinian enclave.

Friday: Another rocket is launched from Gaza into the industrial zone of Ashkelon.

Put aside the rocket attacks by Hamas, the ineffectual leadership of Fatah, the Israeli settlements that poison relations and stymie solutions, the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the other intractable hurdles to peace. The real, long-term harm is happening quietly away from the prying eyes of what the locals here call Pali-wood: the Hollywood stars, the array of doe-eyed peace activists and the knaves at the UN who simplistically side with the Palestinians. That said, no one imagines Israel is free from fault. But its Government is not creating civil institutions that preach hatred and violence.

By contrast, an entire generation of Palestinian children is being raised on a full diet of hate education, on jihad and anti-Semitism. This is the long-term hurdle to peace in this generation, and the next. Look at the website of Palestinian Media Watch (http://www.pmw.org.il) where analysts have long tracked what the Palestinian leadership under Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is doing. Not what is said to Westerners in English or what they tell Israelis in Hebrew.

Look at what Palestinians are teaching their children in Arabic. Look at the geography books for Palestinian children that encourage children to see no Israel, books that feature maps of Israel in the colours of the Palestinian flag, and described as Palestine. Learn about the May 2008 soccer championships for young boys in honour of terrorists such as Samir Quntar and Muhammad al-Mabhuh. Or the July 2008 summer camp held for young girls named in honour of female suicide bomber Dalal al-Mughrabi, who hijacked a holiday bus in 1978, murdering 12 children and 25 adults.

Listen to Fatah-funded children's television where children are taught to continue the way of the shahids (the suicide bombers) and quizzed about Mughrabi. She is presented as "the beloved bride, child of Jaffa, jasmine flower". Or quizzes where children routinely identify Israeli landmarks, towns and ports such as Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat as Palestinian. Where children are taught that "Palestine" covers 27,000sqkm; in fact Gaza and the West Bank total 6200sqm. When the next generation of leaders is taught from childhood that Israel does not exist, how is future negotiation possible?

The irony is that this hate education is funded by the West, by countries that pour money into the PA who use it to glorify terrorism and to twist young minds against Israel, and peace. Countries such as Australia. Last year in Ramallah, headquarters of Fatah, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith lauded one of the first acts of the new Labor Government as being a pledge of $45million to the Palestinian people and $7.5m going directly to the PA. Does the minister know how the PA is using Western money?

Hillary Clinton knows about the direct flow of Western money into Fatah's sewer of hate education. Last year she launched PMW's latest report and pointed out the consequences of the toxic indoctrination of children: "We cannot build a peaceful, stable, safe future on such a hate-filled violent and radical foundation."

The other irony is obvious to anyone with any understanding of the Palestinian leadership. Fatah is a discredited, corrupt, ineffective political party filled with the remnants of the Arafat era that has lost support of its people. Hamas is a terrorist movement still committed to bloody violence against Jews. There is no two-state solution until Palestinians can agree on one voice to represent them in a genuine peace settlement.

Yet consider this. According to the PMW, more than half of the Palestinian educators in the teachers' union are affiliated with Hamas. What hope the children? What hope is there emerging from the next generation a group of moderate Palestinian leaders capable of carving out peace for their people?

These are questions not simply for the present leadership of the Palestinian people. But also for the leaders of countries such as Australia, who talk in rhetorical flourishes about a renewed peace initiative, and yet must surely know that this money is used for propaganda that kills any chance of peace.

They call this a period of calm. Surely they mean the calm before the storm unless the hate education of the next generation of Palestinians ends.


Woman netted $200,000 by making 22 claims under stupid British "ageism" laws

She was only stopped when she got too greedy

A woman has made up to 100,000 pounds by claiming 22 firms discriminated against her because of her age. Taking advantage of controversial new legislation, 50-year-old Margaret Keane made identical applications for jobs as a chartered accountant, responding only to advertisements seeking 'recently qualified' staff. She then made swift follow-up calls demanding to know why she had not been offered the posts, before immediately launching waves of age discrimination claims - even though her error-strewn CV had not included her date of birth.

Up to 12 firms, fearing huge legal costs, caved in and gave her out-of-court payouts understood to be between 4,000 and 10,000 pounds each, underlining fears raised by employers about European age discrimination laws introduced in 2006.

But Miss Keane's campaign has suffered a setback when five of her cases were rejected by an employment tribunal which accepted that she was a 'not a bona fide job applicant, but a serial litigator' purely seeking compensation. The five firms are each demanding she pays them more than 10,000 in costs.

Miss Keane, from Harrow, north London, qualified as a chartered accountant in 1991, and at one time had a 75,000 a year post with HSBC. She currently works part-time for a publisher.

On May 4 last year she applied by email for posts offering up to 60,000 a year advertised through ten accounting recruitment agencies. In her tribunal claim she said: 'All these agencies use words in their advertisements like "newly qualified", "entry level role" and "high calibre candidate", I believe to attract younger and exclude older candidates.'

Miss Keane waited two weeks before phoning the agencies and demanding to know why she had not got the job. She then began actions for damages through the Watford Employment Tribunal. Days after the first wave, she applied for jobs through another 11 employment agencies, again swiftly making follow up calls and launching more claims for age discrimination, this time through the London Central employment tribunal.

Some agents tried to explain that although she was unsuitable for the job she had applied for - often because she did not have a degree - they might be able to find her another. She showed no interest in other opportunities, however, and was described as 'rude' on the phone by one recruitment agent.

The first cases to be put to a tribunal were the 11 London Central ones, but six firms settled out of court - largely, it is believed, because of the regulations applied to discrimination cases. If a claimant can prove simply that they might have been discriminated against because of age, the employer must show its actions were not motivated by age.

The remaining five London cases were heard together in March. All were rejected. Miss Keane continued with the process of taking the first ten agencies to the Watford tribunal. After one agency told her the name of the employer for whom it was advertising the job, Sony BMG Music Entertainment UK Ltd, she added it to her list. Before the case began, six of the companies concerned, including Sony, settled out of court. The remaining five fought on, all represented by barrister Peter Linstead.

Mr Linstead told the tribunal: 'Miss Keane has suffered no detriment as these were not bona fide applications. 'The evidence suggests she made these applications with the sole intention of bringing a claim, not doing the job. 'She has not explained why suddenly she wanted to do a job apparently aimed at someone with little or no experience. 'She deliberately obstructed the process of finding herself a job, failing to tailor her applications for different roles, gave the wrong date for her qualifications and left four typing errors on her CV, and failed to apply for jobs commensurate with her 18 years of experience.'

Before the tribunal's decision, Miss Keane told the Daily Mail: 'Bringing these claims has not been easy - it's taken me full-time study almost every night to try to understand the law. If the judge decides my cases were an abuse of the system, I'm stuffed.'


Lazy British child protection bureaucrats fail disastrously again

A major investigation has been launched into the failings of police and social services in two counties after a man was jailed for raping his two daughters and fathering nine of his own grandchildren. The 56-year-old businessman from Sheffield held his daughters virtual prisoners for 25 years, moving them around houses in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire to avoid detection. The sexual abuse, which has chilling parallels to the case of the Austrian rapist Josef Fritzl, started when the girls were eight years old. Their father would rape them up to three times a week and punch, kick and hold them to the flames of a gas fire if they refused his demands.

The women were at Sheffield Crown Court to hear a judge give him 25 life sentences for rape, with a minimum term of 19r years. The man, who cannot be named to protect his victims' identities, refused to attend. The two women became pregnant 19 times in all. Two of their nine children died at birth.

Sentencing Mr X, Judge Alan Goldsack, QC, said: "In nearly 40 years of dealing with criminal cases and 14 as a family judge the combination of aggravating circumstances here is the worst I have come across."

Politicians and child protection experts asked how the abuse was not detected by the numerous social workers, doctors, teachers and police officers who came into contact with the ever-expanding family over 20 years. Sheffield City Council has launched an independent inquiry, and the role of South Yorkshire Police, Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police will also be examined. Both councils said that the family was known to them. The court was told of several contacts with authorities that could have raised the alarm.

The details of the case have come to light a fortnight after news of the death of Baby P in Haringey, North London, sparked public outcry and fears that the entire child protection system is fundamentally flawed.

The daughters described their father's sentencing as a final escape from decades of mental and physical torture. "His detention in prison brings us only the knowledge that he cannot physically touch us again," they said in a statement. "The suffering he has caused will continue for many years and we must now concentrate our thoughts on finding the strength to rebuild our lives."

The inquiries are likely to focus on health professionals' failure to raise the alarm. James Baird, representing the defendant, said that it was inconceivable that the crimes could go un-noticed. "All the signs were indicative of an incestuous relationship," he said.

Social services in Lincolnshire had contact with the family when the daughters were young and suspicions were raised about the children's parentage. In 1997 the women's brother came forward with "hearsay evidence" of incest. Police investigated the claim, but no further action was taken. The family moved back to South Yorkshire in 2004 and social services again became involved, but the abuse went undetected.

Chief Superintendent Simon Torr, of South Yorkshire Police, defended the force from claims that it could have stopped the abuse earlier. "This has been a thorough, robust, timely and professional investigation from the moment that the victims first disclosed the abuse, and Sheffield City Council have fully supported the police in bringing about a successful prosecution," he said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks for Genocide?

Thanksgiving is coming -- a time to participate in the great American tradition of maligning and abusing our ancestors. Last year, Seattle public school administrators warned teachers that "Thanksgiving can be a particularly difficult time for many of our Native students." Accordingly, teachers were advised to consult a list of 11 Thanksgiving "myths." No. 11 read as follows: "Myth: Thanksgiving is a happy time. Fact: For many Indian people, 'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, 'Thanksgiving' is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship."

In his new book, The 10 Big Lies About America film critic and radio talk show host Michael Medved recalls the Seattle episode, as well as many other examples of self-flagellation that now characterize many of our national observances. Columbus Day? The start of a vicious subjugation. A Denver Columbus Day parade was marred last year by protesters who threw fake blood and dismembered dolls along the parade route. Plymouth Rock? Weren't the Native Americans here first after all? The 400th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown was renamed from celebration to "commemoration" in 2007 because "so many facets of Jamestown's history are not cause for celebration."

Medved, a passionate but not blind patriot, argues that our kids and the rest of us are being fed a tendentious history that wildly exaggerates the offenses of European settlers. The notion that "America Was Founded on Genocide Against Native Americans" cannot withstand scrutiny.

Like racism, genocide is a word that has lost its meaning through promiscuous overuse. Medved reminds us that the international "Genocide Convention" defines genocide as an act or acts "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such." In the clash of civilizations between European settlers and Native Americans, millions died. But the overwhelming majority of those deaths were attributable to diseases carried involuntarily by Europeans and spread to natives who had no natural immunities to these pathogens. That is a tragedy, but not a crime.

What of those smallpox-infested blankets that have received so much press? Medved examines the evidence and concludes "The endlessly recycled charges of biological warfare rest solely on controversial interpretations of two unconnected and inconclusive incidents 74 years apart." The first was in response to Pontiac's Rebellion (1763), a ferocious small war undertaken by the Great Lakes Indians (who had been allied with the defeated French in the French and Indian War) against British settlements. The Ottawa leader Pontiac told his followers to "exterminate" the whites. They did their best. Hundreds of settlers were tortured, scalped, cannibalized, dismembered, or burned at the stake. As the Indians were besieging Fort Pitt, Field Marshal Lord Jeffery Amherst wrote to a subordinate, "Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among the disaffected tribes of Indians?" But nothing seems to have come from this correspondence. The other episode is alleged by fired professor Ward Churchill (yes, the one who invented his Creek and Muscogee heritage and fabricated his academic research), and concerns an outbreak of smallpox among the Mandan tribe in 1837. There is no evidence that the whites intentionally infected the Indians in that case, and considerable evidence that the settlers attempted to prevent the outbreak.

There were terrible injustices and massacres committed by Europeans against Native Americans and some running the other way as well. The more technologically advanced civilization prevailed -- which is the usual course in human affairs. But the current fashion to distort that history into something like a war crime is, to say the least, overstated.

The Thanksgiving story is a strange one to protest. It is recalled, every year, as a time when newly arrived Europeans and Native Americans cooperated and learned from one another and then joined together for a festive meal to celebrate their joint harvest. This week, millions of schoolchildren will don tall paper hats and Indian fringes and feathers. They will recall the peaceful start of the not always peaceful history of the greatest nation on earth. And so they should -- without guilt or shame.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving - A Violation of Church and State separation?

Is the government's observance of Thanksgiving a violation of the separation of church and state? This past week, a Newsweek/Washington Post editorial labeled presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamations as "cracks in the wall of separation." The author explained, "The problem with these proclamations, it seems to me, is that they pave the way for public acceptance of gross violations of the constitutional separation of church and state." What?!

Forget for a moment that nearly every president since George Washington (and the Continental Congress before him) has given Judeo-Christian proclamations for Thanksgiving (except between 1816 and 1861) and also has declared other national days of fasting and prayer. Secularists, such as the author of the editorial, get almost giddy every time they highlight that Thomas Jefferson rejected the notion of proclaiming Thanksgiving spirituals and prayers. But the truth is Jefferson was far from the modern-day secularist they make him out to be.

Sure, Jefferson was adamant (as we all should be) that there should be no federal subscription to any one form of religious sectarianism. That is largely what the First Amendment is all about -- establishing the free exercise of religion and restricting sectarian supremacy in government, as well as government intrusion in churches.

But secularists make two grave mistakes when it comes to Jefferson and the First Amendment. First, they misconstrue his understanding of separation. Second, they overlook how Jefferson himself endorsed and intermingled religion and politics, even during his two terms as president. Let me explain, as I believe it is a timely reminder, given that we are experiencing a new round of battles in our Christmas culture war, too.

The phrase "separation of church and state" actually comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists. He told them that no particular Christian denomination was going to have a monopoly in government. His words, "a wall of separation between Church & State," were not written to remove all religious practice from government or civic settings, but to prohibit the domination and even legislation of religious sectarianism.

Proof that Jefferson was not trying to rid government of religious (specifically Christian) influence comes from the fact that he endorsed the use of government buildings for church meetings and services, signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that allotted federal money to support the building of a Catholic church and to pay the salaries of the church's priests, and repeatedly renewed legislation that gave land to the United Brethren to help their missionary activities among the American Indians.

Some might be completely surprised to discover that just two days after Jefferson wrote his famous letter citing the "wall of separation between Church & State," he attended church in the place where he always had as president: the U.S. Capitol. The very seat of our nation's government was used for sacred purposes. As the Library of Congress' Web site notes, "It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church." Does that sound like someone who was trying to create an impenetrable wall of separation between church and state?

Let's face the present Thanksgiving facts. President Bush likely will give the last explicit Judeo-Christian Thanksgiving proclamation that Americans will hear for the next four to eight years, as President-elect Obama likely will coddle a form of godliness in his Thanksgiving addresses (if he indeed gives them) that appeases the masses with a deity that fits every politically correct dress.

But I'm an optimist. And because so much attention is being given right now by the media and the president-elect himself regarding his parallels to and lessons learned from President Abraham Lincoln, I recommend Obama heed Lincoln's Thanksgiving wisdom. Don't mince or water down the God of the Pilgrims, as is being done in public schools across this land through the retelling of the first Thanksgiving.

Obama doesn't even need a speechwriter for Thanksgiving 2009. He simply can recite Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, in which Lincoln thanked the Almighty for America's bountiful blessings and providential care despite enduring a war and grave economic hardships. The content seems divinely timed for even such a wintry season as our own:
"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. . I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."
Whatever your religious persuasion, don't hesitate this Thanksgiving to bow your head, give thanks to God, and follow Lincoln's advice. And when you do, don't forget to say a prayer for our troops and their families. While they serve us so we can serve our Thanksgiving feasts safely, the least we can do is serve them a little honor and remembrance.


Big Lies that Poison Thanksgiving and Subvert Our Sense of Honor

For some of Barack Obama's most ardent supporters, his resounding victory represented the first sign of redemption for a wretched, guilty nation with a 400-year history of oppression. Filmmaker Michael Moore, for instance, considered election night "a stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair. In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity." Actually, Mr. Moore's summary of America's origins is a wholly expected distortion, shocking in its mendacity. Like so many other revered figures in the worlds of entertainment and academia, the portly provocateur thoughtlessly recycles the darkest assumptions about the generous nation that provides his privileged, prosperous life.

My new book, "The 10 Big Lies About America," represents an aggressive effort to correct the ugly smears that play an increasingly prominent (and often unchallenged) role in our public discourse. Big Lie No. 1, for instance, concerns the ubiquitous notion that the nation's founders and builders followed a policy of "genocide" toward Native Americans. In truth, disease caused 95% of the deaths that ravaged native populations of North America following European contact. Despite lurid (but historically baseless) claims of massive infection brought about by "smallpox blankets," even the deadliest germs displayed no consciously hostile agenda.

In fact, intermarriage (including frequent intermarriage with African-Americans, slaves and free) and assimilation caused more Indian "losses" than all occasional massacres by governmental and irregular forces - incidents invariably condemned by federal authorities, never sponsored by them.

My book's Lie No. 2 precisely anticipates Moore's claim that America was "built on the backs of slaves," suggesting that our wealth and prosperity came chiefly through the stolen labor of kidnapped Africans. While slavery represented an undeniable horror in our nation's early history, the slave population never exceeded 20% of the national total (amounting to 12% at the time of the Civil War). This means that at least 80% of the work force remained free laborers.

The claim that our forefathers built America "on the backs of slaves" rests on the idiotic idea that involuntary servitude proved vastly more productive than free labor. In fact, the states dominated by the slave economy counted as the poorest, least developed in the union - providing the North with crushing economic superiority that brought victory in the War Between the States.

Of more than 20 million Africans taken from their homes in chains, at most 3% ever made their way to the territory of the United States (or the British colonies preceding our nation). Americans played no part in establishing the once-universal institution of slavery but played a leading, outsize role in bringing about its abolition.

Other lies about America's past badly distort current debates over public policy. It's not true, for instance, that governmental activism provides a necessary remedy for periodic economic downturns (Big Lie No. 6). In fact, leaders who courageously resisted the temptation of major federal initiatives at times of crisis presided over shorter, less painful recessions, while the ambitious innovations of Hoover and FDR worsened and prolonged the Great Depression. (Even liberal historians admit that the New Deal never worked as "a recovery program.")

Meanwhile, the popular assumption that our founders determined to create a secular, not a Christian, nation (Big Lie No. 3) has produced widespread hysteria over the program of "the Christian right." In fact, the constitutional framers insisted on a combination of a secular government and a deeply Christian society. Even Jefferson, an unconventional religious thinker, believed that fervent faith represented a necessary element in the security and growth of the republic; he personally attended and authorized weekly Christian services in the Capitol building itself.

Secular militants, not Christian conservatives, currently strive to transform America in a way our founders would neither recognize nor approve.

Unfortunately, some of the same religious conservatives who get it right about the place of organized faith in the American fabric get it terribly wrong by signing on to Big Lie No. 10: that the United States has entered into a steep - and irreversible - moral decline. In fact, a wealth of statistics concerning marriage, teenage sexuality, drug addiction, crime, alcohol abuse and other signs of social breakdown show a recent, decisive turnaround that may represent one of the nation's periodic "awakenings." Moralists have proclaimed permanent ethical collapse ever since 1645, yet no one could claim that our path has been straight downhill for 350 years.

The big lies about America all work to undermine the sense of honor and gratitude that ought to inspire every citizen, particularly in this Thanksgiving season. They also destroy the essential sense of perspective required in significant debates as a new government comes to power in Washington, D.C. While Sen. Obama's supporters rightly rejoice at his election to the nation's highest office, they will disorient his presidency and damage society if they embrace destructive distortions about our past, and view his elevation as a rare (or exclusive) basis for pride.


CA: Traditional kindergarten Thanksgiving celebration nixed because it's ...? "racist"

Some say having students dress up as pilgrims and Native Americans is 'demeaning.' Their opponents say they are elitists injecting politics into a simple children's celebration.

For decades, Claremont kindergartners have celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans and sharing a feast. But on Tuesday, when the youngsters meet for their turkey and songs, they won't be wearing their hand-made bonnets, headdresses and fringed vests. Parents in this quiet university town are sharply divided over what these construction-paper symbols represent: A simple child's depiction of the traditional (if not wholly accurate) tale of two factions setting aside their differences to give thanks over a shared meal? Or a cartoonish stereotype that would never be allowed of other racial, ethnic or religious groups?

"It's demeaning," Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter's teacher. "I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."

Raheja, whose mother is a Seneca, wrote the letter upon hearing of a four-decade district tradition, where kindergartners at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools take annual turns dressing up and visiting the other school for a Thanksgiving feast. This year, the Mountain View children would have dressed as Native Americans and walked to Condit, whose students would have dressed as Pilgrims.

Raheja, an English professor at UC Riverside who specializes in Native American literature, said she met with teachers and administrators in hopes that the district could hold a public forum to discuss alternatives that celebrate thankfulness without "dehumanizing" her daughter's ancestry. "There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype," she said.

Last week, rumors began to circulate on both campuses that the district was planning to cancel the event, and infuriated parents argued over the matter at a heated school board meeting Thursday. District Supt. David Cash announced at the end of the meeting that the two schools had tentatively decided to hold the event without the costumes, and sent a memo to parents Friday confirming the decision.

Cash and the principals of Condit and Mountain View did not respond to interview requests. But many parents, who are convinced the decision was made before the board meeting, accused administrators of bowing to political correctness. Kathleen Lucas, a Condit parent who is of Choctaw heritage, said her son -- now a first-grader -- still wears the vest and feathered headband he made last year to celebrate the holiday. "My son was so proud," she said. "In his eyes, he thinks that's what it looks like to be Indian."

Among the costume supporters, there is a vein of suspicion that casts Raheja and others opposed to the costumes as agenda-driven elitists. Of the handful of others who spoke with Raheja against the costumes at the board meeting, one teaches at the University of Redlands, one is an instructor at Riverside Community College, and one is a former Pitzer College professor.

Raheja is "using those children as a political platform for herself and her ideas," Constance Garabedian said as her 5-year-old Mountain View kindergartner happily practiced a song about Native Americans in the background. "I'm not a professor and I'm not a historian, but I can put the dots together."

The debate is far from over. Some parents plan to send their children to school in costume Tuesday -- doubting that administrators will force them to take them off. The following day, some plan to keep their children home, costing the district attendance funds to punish them for modifying the event. "She's not going to tell us what we can and cannot wear," said Dena Murphy, whose 5-year-old son attends Mountain View. "We're tired of [district officials] cowing down to people. It's not right."

But others hoped that tempers would calm over the long holiday weekend, and the community could come together to have a fruitful discussion about Thanksgiving and its meaning. "Its always a good thing to think about, critically, how we teach kids, even from very young ages, the message we want them to learn, and the respect for the diversity of the American experiences," said Jennifer Tilton, an assistant professor of race and ethnic studies at the University of Redlands and a Claremont parent who opposes the costumes.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What the destruction of traditional British values has done to Britain

Officially Bulgaria may be the EU's most corrupt country, says Kapka Kassabova of her former home, but Britain is scarier

Let's go sightseeing. I live in a central Edinburgh neighbourhood called Broughton. It's the kind of neighbourhood where the deli, health-food shop and independent wine merchant are housed in Georgian buildings and rub smug shoulders in the daytime. The night-time is another matter, especially come Friday, when the belligerent drunk hordes from downtown trickle down Broughton Street.

If you were unfamiliar with native ways, you'd think you were walking through the aftermath of a small but vicious war. Rivulets of urine crisscross the pavements as you slalom between puddles of fresh vomit, discarded takeaway cartons smeared with ketchup, and the occasional survivor swooning in an alcoholic daze in some corner, watering the nearest pot plant. In the morning, everything is swept again.

Well, not everything. On a Saturday morning, it's normal to walk past the Calabrian restaurant and find its spotless window smashed. And the boutique next door, and the cafe next door to that. On a Sunday morning, it's normal to find all the cars parked in my street with their side mirrors smashed. It's normal to find the glass entrance to my building smashed, to have it fixed, and then smashed again. And so it goes in our pleasant neighbourhood. And when, in the middle of the night, I hear the pimply youths smash the entrance door downstairs yet again, I'm too scared to go and remonstrate. When I see a lad pissing in the street, I'm too scared to say: "Oi, this is not a public toilet". In my first year in Britain, I was foolish enough to do this, and nearly got my nose bloodied a few times for my civic behaviour. I've learnt my lesson now. I just turn the other way, walk faster, pretend it's not happening. That's the British way, right?

Since I arrived in Britain four years ago, casual knife crime has multiplied. I have become frightened of random violence - and cowardly too. If I see yobs attacking someone because he looked at them "funny", would I interfere? You bet I wouldn't. And yes, I hate myself for it.

Now let's zoom across Europe and visit Broughton's counterpart in central Sofia. My family has a small apartment there. The area is called White Birches, and the balconied buildings are indeed white, though there are few birches. This is a pricey area, and last year our building enjoyed a shoot-out between two drug-smuggling rings. The brisk illegal activity explains the expensive cars that line the potholed streets, along with the beauty salons, gyms and designer-furniture shops. In the evening, women chat on broken benches. At night, homeless dogs rummage in the overflowing rubbish containers next to the parked BMWs.

Bulgaria is officially the most corrupt country in the EU. Civil society is in its infancy. The ruling classes and the law are infiltrated by organised crime. "Other countries have the mafia," said a former counterintelligence chief, "but in Bulgaria, the mafia has the country." Some guides to Sofia advise you not to go into nightclubs frequented by "businessmen" with more than three bodyguards. These men are collectively named mutri, or mugs, and they sport Gucci sunglasses and big necks.

They might have the country, but they don't have the streets. Homeless dogs, putrefying rubbish and potholes aside, I'm never afraid to walk home in the dark from the tram stop. I'm never scared of finding some drunk pissing in a doorway, or having someone stick a knife in me for looking at them funny. The glass doorway to our building has never been smashed. Angry teenagers don't carry knives. They grow up and become mutri and then they carry guns. Poor, corrupt, post-totalitarian Bulgaria is much safer for the ordinary person on the street than wealthy, civic, post-empire Britain.

So what is going on? Alcohol, I think. Alcohol, too much money, and poor food culture. The average disaffected British youth has enough money to regularly buy a drink, a knife, and the latest mobile. His Bulgarian cousin has a family to fall back on but no extra cash. He is busy looking for work or emigrating. Destroying public property is a waste of time to him. Besides, in Bulgaria practically everyone except the mutri is disaffected, but practically nobody vomits in the streets.

Not that every yob here is disaffected. Most of them are very affected indeed, with their tailored shirts or hen-party outfits, until they throw up over each other. Britain boasts a centuries-long binge-drinking tradition. You drink on an empty stomach. You drink not to enjoy, but to forget who you are. Drunk sociopathy is the norm. Why, it's almost charming. It absolves you of all crimes, because by the time you've sobered up, you've forgotten everything, which is the whole point of the exercise.

And although the Friday-night yobs that turn Edinburgh into a vomitorium don't have the country in that they don't own the police and the law, they own something as important: the streets. The streets is where we spend a lot of our time. And if on weekend nights the streets are a war zone, what sort of civil society do we have? A rubbishy one, with the dogs of self-hate rummaging in it.


Stealth Jihad: How Islam is Infiltrating Your Neighborhood

What if Christians demanded the following:

1. If anyone around Christians at work or school eats pork then they would get fired or severely chastised because we believe that scarfing down pig really offends God (and of course his people). Yep, BLTs-according to our take on Christ's commands-really ticks him off and therefore bacon should be banned. Not only that, but any food that has even trace amounts of Porky the Pig in it must be verboten and banished from our presence everywhere we go because we're Christians, and Christians don't dine on swine. This means Jell-O shots at Tu-Tu-Tango's and Jell-O served to kids at school ceases to be because Jell-O, hello, contains a wee little bit of a wee little pig, and this pisseth the Lord our God off!

2. All public schools must have several regularly scheduled 15 minute breaks throughout the school day for Christians to roll out their TBN prayer rugs and pray for revival. If not, we will raise Cain and Abel.

3. Public schools must become sex-segregated so that we, the washed, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost and fire crowd won't be sorely tempted to swap spit with the hot Daisy Mae looking chick in pottery class. Matter of fact, why don't public schools just carve out for us Christians a special school within the school, lest we become sullied via association with the unwashed masses and other religious persuasions, which we utterly detest. Howzabout that, mamasita?

4. Any and all the stupid, violent or sexually weird stuff that misguided Christians have done and are doing is to be scrubbed from the historical record, and the only thing that gets reported and taught is that we are the most peaceful, perfect people to ever schlep this planet. Anyone who thinks or speaks to the contrary will get the stink eye and be called a hater. Indeed, all criticism of Christians should be banned, and those who bring up our foibles, draw unfavorable cartoons of us, and don't parrot our squeaky-clean spin get branded as bigots or Christophobes and should be threatened with prison.

5. Footbaths are to be installed in whichever universities my brethren and I attend (at the public's expense) because Jesus was into foot washing, so I want a footbath, dammit! And if this means tuition gets hiked up to provide this for all Christians on campus, well . . . tough. I don't care. My feet must be ritually washed, or Jesus gets angry-and when he gets angry, people die.

6. Any video games that Sony or whoever puts out that might accidentally offend Christians must be 86'ed. However, if other religions get offended via video it's okay, just as long as my flavor ain't disssed, can you dig it?

7. We must receive exemptions from the IRS from paying interest on back taxes because that's against Christianity.

8. When the Christian church accidentally yields up a violent vocal dillweed from our ranks who hates America and is on the State Department's terrorist watch list, instead of throwing that loopy bastard in prison we demand that the U.S. Army make him a sergeant. Capice?

9. Encourage the Christian high school student who wants to assassinate our President by giving him the "Most Likely to Become a Martyr" award during graduation.

10. Make students in the public school system who don't believe in Jesus memorize portions of the Gospel of John, adopt Christian names and shout in the classroom, "I love Jesus, yes I do. I love Jesus. How `bout you?!"

Would any of points 1- 10 tick you secularists, atheists and agnostics off?

If Christians ever attempted any of the above they would be righteously ridiculed, castigated and condemned by the MSM, school administrators, cartoonists, talk radio, the blogosphere, Rosie, the coven on the View, religious leaders, the ACLU, Alec Baldwin and president elect Barack Obama. All of the aforementioned people would land on our crotch firmly with both feet. Heck, Christians can't even say "merry Christmas," cheer on traditional marriage, or champion the life of an unborn baby without being called Hitler, haters of humanity and intolerant bigots of other people's values. But Islam can.

Yep, Islam is making outrageous demands upon American life and culture, and we're bending over and taking it from them, though we would be insanely intolerant of any other religious group-especially Christians-who had such particular and peculiar demands.

In Stealth Jihad, Islam expert and New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer blows the whistle on a long-term plot by Islamic Jihadists to undermine the United States. According to Spencer, this effort aims not to bring America to its knees through attacks with guns or bombs, but to subvert the country from within-by gradually Islamizing America. The ultimate goal, the stealth jihadists themselves declare, is nothing less than the adoption of Islamic law in the United States, that's all!

BTW . . . this is already happening, and Robert shows the reader in blistering detail how American liberties are having to bow and kiss the ring of Islamic rules and regulations. Indeed, the stealth jihadists are already warm and snuggly within the American political, educational and media landscapes.

My advice, boys and girls, is . . . buy Bob's book, drink a red bull, wake the heck up and fight for your liberties not to be walked on by anyone anywhere.

One last ditty for the skeptics who don't think "it" could happen here: I'm sure that's what the Brits thought 20 years ago. Red Bull, anyone?


British Tories keen on allowing the return of a clip round the ear

Long overdue

The police would be formally discouraged from taking action against adults who tackle misbehaving youngsters under a Conservative government, Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Home Secretary, reveals today. Fear of legal action, not violence, holds most people back from confronting antisocial behaviour, Mr Grieve said in an interview with The Times. He said that the recent arrest of a father for smacking his seven-year-old son highlighted the need to reassert adults' rights to remonstrate with misbehaving children.

"The key issue is that if you turn up at an incident where children have been misbehaving and adults have intervened [and] the child says, `That man slapped me', and there is no visible mark on him, do you say, `This is a very serious matter and I'm taking you down to the police station', or do you say this is something that, historically, people have the discretion to do?

"If someone appears with a black eye or a bruise, or has been beaten with something, that's a completely different thing from someone making an assertion that that adult touched me in the course of telling me not to misbehave," he added. Mr Grieve also criticised ministers for failing to challenge Muslim groups when they gave platforms to extremists and holocaust deniers.


Barnardo's bunkum

Do British adults really look upon children as `vermin'. or did the charity find what it wanted to find in its latest public survey?

`It is appalling that words like "animal", "feral" and "vermin" are used daily in reference to children', said Martin Narey, the chief executive of the children's charity Barnardo's, as he unveiled a new survey this week which apparently shows that adults in Britain suffer from an `unjustified and disturbing intolerance of children' (1).

Yet who was it that introduced these foul words into the public debate about kids? Barnardo's itself! It was the pollsters employed by Barnardo's to survey 2,021 people who asked loaded questions about whether children can be viewed as `feral', even as `animals', who are `infesting' our streets.

What Narey, and the subsequent media coverage, implicitly presented as a groundswell of intolerant prejudice against animalistic children is nothing of the sort. Rather, Barnardo's has carried out a shameless piece of advocacy research, designed to discover the prejudices that it is convinced (by its own prejudicial outlook) are lurking within the adult population.

The media have had a field day with Barnardo's survey findings. `Britons fear and loathe "feral" children', says Reuters. Some media outlets have taken the research as evidence that adults have a warped view of kids (see the Guardian, for example), while others have welcomed it with open arms as confirmation that British yoof really are going to hell in a handcart. `Half of British adults are scared of children who "behave like feral animals"', screeched the Daily Mail (2).

The coverage all springs from Barnardo's press release, titled `The shame of Britain's intolerance of children'. It tells us that `more than a third (35%) of people agree that nowadays it feels like the streets are infested with children'. Something about that wording doesn't ring true. Have you ever heard anyone say the streets are `infested' with kids? I haven't, either. But then, no member of the public volunteered to Barnardo's the view that Britain's streets are `infested'. Rather, the image of `infestation' was introduced by the Barnardo's-employed pollsters.

They put the following statement to their 2,021 respondents, `Nowadays it feels like the streets are infested with children', and asked them to agree or disagree. How is one supposed to respond to such a bald, black-and-white statement, where there's no room for manoeuvre? What if you are, say, an elderly person who thinks there probably are too many kids hanging around on street corners, when they could be in youth centres or on football pitches instead, but you would not necessarily use the word `infested'? Do you say `agree' or `disagree' to the survey statement?

In the event, eight per cent `strongly agreed' and 27 per cent `agreed', adding up to Barnardo's total of `35 percent' who think the streets are infested with children. A large majority, 46 per cent, `disagreed'; and strikingly, 14 per cent `strongly disagreed', almost twice the number who `strongly agreed'. Maybe some of this 60 per cent who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea that Britain's streets are infested with children were thinking to themselves: `What a disgusting sentiment. Why am I being asked this question?

Even worse, having introduced the noxious notion that Britain's streets are `infested', and found that some people seemed to agree, the chief executive of Barnardo's then went on to say that `it is appalling. that words like "vermin" are used daily in reference to children' (3). Are they really? The survey doesn't mention `vermin' and so far as we know none of the respondents volunteered the belief that children are verminous. Rather, Barnardo's is extrapolating from its already loaded question about `infestation' the loaded idea that British adults have an `unjustified and disturbing' view of children as `vermin'. No we don't. You just think we do.

The question on whether children are `feral' was even more convoluted. `Most adults think children are feral', claimed the newspaper headlines, as if Barnardo's had uncovered a scientifically measurable prejudice against young people (4). In fact, Barnardo's put the following statement to its respondents: `People refer to children as feral but I don't think they behave this way. Do you agree or disagree?'

Eh? Come again? I write and edit words for a living, and even I was bamboozled by this statement. Does one say agree or disagree to the first part (`People refer to children as feral') or the second part (`But I don't think they behave this way')? It took me a couple of minutes to work out that I would say `agree'. Forty-two per cent of respondents agreed with Barnardo's statement (that is, they agree that people refer to children as feral but don't think that is a useful description), while 45 per cent disagreed with Barnardo's statement, which presumably means they think children are in some way feral (at least I think it does; I'm confused again). Not surprisingly, 13 per cent said `Don't know', which was by far the highest `Don't know' response for the whole survey. If there had been a choice that said `I have no idea what you are talking about', I imagine it would have been selected by, ooh, at least 20 per cent of the respondents.

Whatever this bizarre question on feral children tells us - about Barnardo's scribes; about the illiteracy of pollsters; about the duplicity of advocacy research - it does not scientifically prove that `most adults think children are feral'. Just as the responses to the loaded statement `British children are beginning to behave like animals' - with that horrid animal image being projected on to public debate by Barnardo's itself - does not tell us everything, or anything really, about how adults view, interact with and care for children.

The black-and-white nature of Barnardo's questioning must have also proved problematic in relation to the issue of `professional help'. The following statement was put to the respondents: `Children who get into trouble are often misunderstood and in need of professional help.' Forty-nine per cent of respondents disagreed, and this was held up in Barnardo's press release as evidence that adults are not sufficiently sympathetic to the plight of children. On the other hand, the response might signal a healthy suspicion towards `professional help'. Certainly the mums and dads among the 2,021 respondents might kick against the idea that troubled children need outside intervention rather than discipline or care within the family home.

Barnardo's has simply found what it wanted to find: that British adults don't understand children, and in fact even fear and loathe them, and thus we need expert charities to educate the British public about how wonderful children are and how we should look after them. Charities like, oh I don't know, Barnardo's maybe? It is telling - in the extreme - that these survey results were released just a few days before Barnardo's is set to launch its first-ever TV advertising campaign calling upon us all to `stop demonising children'. How convenient to discover that `most British adults' demonise children just before you launch a campaign against the demonisation of children. The gods have smiled on Barnardo's.

It is of course true that adult society has a somewhat fraught and even fearful relationship with young people today. As a consequence of a growing sense of insecurity, and a collapse of adult solidarity, young people are increasingly looked upon as either vulnerable victims or potentially violent tearaways. This view of youth is stoked by politicians, the media and even children's charities, all of whom feed us a constant diet of anti-social behaviour scares, stories about chavs, slags, gangs and knives, and concerns that childhood obesity and binge-drunkenness will turn our children into feckless adults. However, this does not mean that adults think children are vermin or animals that are infesting our streets. And by squeezing today's difficult relationship between adult society and young people into this moralistic straitjacket, in which everything is reposed as a war between dumb adults and victimised children, Barnardo's is only making matters worse.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by Barnardo's advocacy research. This is a charity (founded in 1867) that has long relied upon presenting children as victims and adults as buffoons. As one study of Barnardo's early years in Victorian times says, `Barnardo's philanthropic narratives' set out to `popularise the plight of poor children. while simultaneously casting the adult poor out of the English community and calling into question their basic rights to citizenship' (5). Today, too, Barnardo's is popularising the idea that children are victims while questioning adults' moral priorities. All the better to boost the fortunes of a charity that loves to play the role of in loco parentis.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lazy British police again

Call someone "queer" or a "n*gger" and they will be there like a shot. Otherwise .....

When a gang of youths rolled his girlfriend's parked car on its side, Simon White thought there was a good chance that the police would catch the culprits. But instead of the swift response he had hoped for, they told him to call the AA. 'I couldn't believe they were telling me to call a breakdown service,' said estate agent Mr White. 'I explained to them that a neighbour had seen a gang of about 30 youths hanging about when he was walking his dog and had come back half an hour later to see my girlfriend's car on its side. 'At no point did the police ask me anything to do with solving the crime. There was no mention of witnesses, possible fingerprints, or any desire to catch who'd done it. 'All they said was call the AA or Green Flag. When I told them there was petrol leaking from the car they said they'd call the fire brigade and then ended the conversation.'

Mr White, 37, added: 'I sat there fuming for a few minutes and then rang them back and demanded someone come to investigate but even then they said all they could do was put out a call to see if there was a police car in the area.'

The vandals struck at about 7.30pm one evening last week. Mr White and his girlfriend Colleen Donnelly, 28, who have two children Chantelle, 11, and Joshua, nine, were in their home in Bloxwich, West Midlands, watching television at the time and were told by the neighbour who knocked on the door that the Fiat Punto - parked about 300 yards away - had been overturned.

Mr White initially dialled 999 but was told it wasn't a serious enough crime and that he should call his local police. It was when he called Bloxwich police station that he was told to phone the AA, he says.

Miss Donnelly does not belong to the AA or have breakdown cover.

Mr White said: 'The police are always telling people to report antisocial behaviour and vandalism but when we did it seemed they didn't care. It was only because I insisted someone came out that the crime is being investigated. 'To be fair, the two officers that did come were very helpful, but by then the youths had gone.'

The car is a write-off and Miss Donnelly, a charity worker, now has no means of transport when Mr White is out at work. No one from West Midlands Police was available to comment.


The "caring" attitudes of British social workers again

Social workers sacked over 'sick' image of paedophile Gary Glitter carrying a child in a shopping bag

Fifteen council staff, including social workers, have been sacked or reprimanded after circulating a tasteless e-mail of reviled paedophile Gary Glitter carrying a child in a shopping bag. An investigation was launched after an employee alerted bosses to the appalling image, which shows the convicted paedophile holding a plastic bag with a superimposed child's head popping out of the top. Staff had circulated the email on the office network, where it spread within hours. Some of those sacked are trained social workers - whose job is to protect vulnerable children.

A council source said: 'These emails mocked the very children these people were being paid to protect.' Yesterday, South Lanarkshire - the authority at the centre of the scandal - confirmed that staff had been sacked or warned.

The council would not confirm how many staff had been sacked or warned because employees have the right to appeal against any decisions resulting from the disciplinary action carried out yesterday. Most of those involved are based at the council's office in Rutherglen, near Glasgow.

Last night Liberal Democrat MP Annette Brooke, an ambassador for children's charity NSPCC, said: 'It is totally unacceptable that anyone, let alone anyone involved in child protection, should find Gary Glitter's behaviour remotely amusing.'

Former rock star Glitter - real name Paul Gadd - served almost three years in prison in Vietnam for sex crimes involving two young girls. He was deported at the end of his prison term and flew to Thailand and then Hong Kong. But airport officials refused to let him into their countries and he returned to Britain in August. Glitter has a prior conviction for possessing child pornography, for which he served two months in jail in 1999.


Secret-Ballot Hypocrisies

The Democrats believe in one man, one vote, one time

This week's 137 to 122 vote of House Democrats to replace John Dingell with liberal Henry Waxman at the energy and commerce committee would likely not have happened but for the secret ballot. Even Rep. Louise Slaughter, chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, told Congressional Quarterly she was relieved the vote would be a private one: "It's a secret ballot. . . . Thank the Lord."

After all, the fearsome Mr. Dingell, who will become history's longest-serving House member next year, has been known to hold grudges.

Yet the obvious irony is that Democrats now will try to deprive workers of the same privacy privilege in workplace unionization battles. So-called "card check" legislation would require an employer to sign a union contract as long as a simple majority of workers sign a form authorizing a union to represent them -- a move that necessarily makes workers more vulnerable to coercion and intimidation than if they are voting by secret ballot.

And the ironies keep piling up. The leading House sponsor of card check is Rep. George Miller, who also served as campaign manager of Mr. Waxman's race against Mr. Dingell, settled by secret ballot. What's more, along with 10 House Democrats, Mr. Miller wrote a 2001 letter to Mexican government officials encouraging the "use of secret ballots in all union recognition elections." The letter states: "We feel that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose."

Rep. Miller and the other signers now say their demand was for secret ballot votes only when "workers seek to replace one union with another union. " Funny. Their letter made no mention of that specific situation and instead referred to "all union recognition elections."

A better explanation is that Democrats' principled support for a secret ballot flies out the window when it comes to union organizing efforts sponsored by the special interests who helped them win control of Congress.


British parent bashing

It all stems from an elite loathing of the working class -- from what was once allegedly the party of the worker

All the main political parties in Britain seem convinced that government should assume the role of a supernanny and train mothers and fathers to be responsible parents. Former UK children's minister Margaret Hodge is unapologetic about this idea, arguing that government has a `powerful' role to play in family life.

Parent-bashing is not confined to the domain of politics. Back in 2001, hectoring parents about their inability to manage their children's behaviour or to provide their kids with a nutritious diet had not yet become a popular way to entertain the public. There were no TV shows such as Supernanny or The House of Tiny Tearaways to remind parents of their congenital defects on the childrearing front. Over the past five or six years, however, the notion that parental incompetence is quite normal, even widespread, has become deeply entrenched - especially in the TV schedules. One intelligent 36-year-old mother wrote to me recently: `I know it exploits my emotions, I know that I should not watch these shows - but I do, even though they make me feel shit.' Sadly, the images and arguments that haunt her imagination have been embraced by significant sections of British society.

The perpetual politicisation of parenting has two destructive outcomes. The constant labelling of parenting as some kind of `problem' undermines the confidence of mothers and fathers. Although the target audience of politicians is a minority of so-called dysfunctional parents, the depressing message our leaders communicate about the problems of childrearing has a disorienting impact on everybody. Consequently, the numerous helpful initiatives designed to `support' parents do anything but reassure us - they simply encourage the public to become even more paranoid about parenting. The second regrettable outcome of the politicisation of childrearing is that it has intensified our sense of insecurity and anxiety about virtually every aspect of children's lives and experiences.

At the turn of this century, it was evident that children had become subject to an obsessive culture of childrearing. At the time, Paranoid Parenting documented the growing tendency to extend adult supervision into every aspect of children's lives. It was apparent that `outdoors' had become a no-go area for many youngsters, and that the majority of parents did not even allow their offspring to walk to school on their own.

The idea that children were too vulnerable to be allowed to take risks had already become entrenched. Many readers of my book shared with me their hope that the regime of child protection would gradually give way to more relaxed and balanced attitudes. Little did they suspect that paranoia towards the safety of children was about to expand even further and encompass even children's experiences that it had hitherto not touched.

Who would have imagined that British children would be prevented from pursuing the age-old custom of conkering? Many adults were rightly shocked and bemused when a few local authorities introduced a new policy of `tree management': a euphemism for preventing children from climbing on chestnut trees or playing with conkers. More than any other bans introduced in subsequent years, the attempt to discourage children from playing with chestnuts symbolised the relentless drive to diminish young people's experience of the outdoors. At the time, many people sneered at the busybodies who decided that children were not fit to go near conkers. Today, however, when local authorities chop the branches off horse chestnut trees to save children from this terrible danger there is barely a murmur of protest.

In recent years, banning children from activities that appear remotely adventurous has become an institution of British political life. It seems that kids are so feeble that we must protect them from everything. Earlier this month, a teacher informed me that children in her school are actively discouraged from running around or playing ball games during break time. Her rationale for promoting this anti-activity ethos was that `someone could easily get hurt'.

Traditional children's games are disappearing because experts claim that they are too dangerous. Some primary schools have banned tag during break time, while some have got rid of contact sports. In January 2007, Burnham Grammar School banned impromptu football in order to prevent young people being hit by stray balls. The headteachers argued that pupils were `kicking balls quite hard at each other'. In February 2007, St John's primary near Lincoln banned games like kiss chase and tag because staff felt that such activities were too rough.

Suspicion towards adult motives has become a pathology in British society. Numerous informal rules have been introduced to prevent adults from coming into direct physical contact with kids. Even nursery workers feel that their actions are under constant scrutiny. Adult carers have not been entirely banned from applying suncream to children; some still follow their human instinct and do what they believe is in the best interest of the child. But frequently, such practices require formal parental consent: it is now commonplace for nurseries and schools to send out letters to parents asking for their signed consent to allow teachers to put suncream on their child.

Some schools would rather that teachers had no physical contact with their pupils at all, and insist that either the parent or the child applies the suncream. Schools now state in their handbooks for parents that `it is most helpful if children are able to apply their own suncream'! Some nurseries have sought to get around this problem by asking their employees to use sprays rather than to rub suncream on children's bodies. One former nursery worker told me she packed in her job after she was `banned' from taking the kids in her care to the toilet on her own.

There is now an informal ban on adults taking pictures of children. Although taking photos is not against the law, many petty officials have decided to take the law into their own hands. As a father, I resent the climate of hysteria that makes it difficult for parents to take photos of their children during school plays or concerts and sporting activities. I would love to have a shot of my son Jacob running with the ball, but after four years of competitive football I still don't have a single picture of him in action.

In January, a friend of mine who decided to take a photo of his son during a Saturday football match was accused of gross irresponsibility. He was lucky, however: the referee at least allowed the game to continue. There are numerous reports of officials stopping play when they spot a parent taking pictures. One referee stopped an under-15s match in Ashford and instructed both team managers to confiscate parents' cameras. `You can't take photographs, it's child protection', he lectured a parent.

When it comes to sport, many parents have given up on the idea of taking snapshots for the family album. They don't want to end up in the same predicament as a married couple who took pictures of a junior rugby game on a sports field in Surrey: they were detained by club officials and were later visited at home by the police.

The promotion of paranoia in relation to every aspect of children's lives accomplishes the very opposite of what it sets out to do. When youngsters are protected from risks, they miss out on important opportunities to learn sound judgments and build their confidence and resilience. The promotion of suspicion towards adult behaviour seriously undermines the ability of grown-up people to play a constructive role in the socialisation of youngsters. The estrangement of adults from the world of children has the perverse effect of leaving youngsters to their own devices and diminishing their security.

We do not have to abide by the rules concocted by self-appointed experts intent on policing how we engage with children. Nor do we have to acquiesce to a culture that denigrates parental competence and fuels suspicion about adult motives towards children. Although none of us can opt out of the culture that we inhabit, we can challenge it. We can challenge it in small ways, by protesting against the many idiotic but all-too-insidious bans that aim to restrict children's freedom or adults' access to youngsters. We can challenge it by encouraging our children to develop a positive attitude towards the outdoors and the adult world. Most important of all, we can challenge it by working together as active collaborators committed to providing more opportunities for children to explore their world.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, November 24, 2008

It should not be an offence to belong to the BNP

The furore over the leak of the British National Party's membership lists `reveals' some home truths about democracy as well as the far right

The leaked publication of the details of 12,000 members of the British National Party (BNP) appears to have created almost as much fuss and front-page news as the British state's recent losses of data on millions of people. This confirms the misplaced political obsession with the BNP, and the peculiar place that this small far-right party occupies in public life today. Many of those who were outraged by the authorities' loss of disks containing personal data seem almost gleeful about the way that this leak has `exposed' the BNP's membership.

On spiked we have little time for the anti-immigrant politics of the BNP (in fact we have none at all). Amid the overnight furore, however, a few things are worth remembering about living in a democracy.

Anybody should be free to join any political party they wish without legal impediment, or we risk turning the clock back to a time of state repression and secret societies. And they should be free to keep that matter of political conscience private should they so wish - even if they are embarrassed to be members of the Labour or Conservative parties.

Nobody should fear the sack for their political opinions or affiliations alone. Those anti-racists crowing about the discomfit of BNP members today might recall that such measures have more often been used against the left. Back in the Cold War days when I edited a revolutionary newspaper and Living Marxism magazine, some people in sensitive jobs and public positions felt obliged to write for me under pseudonyms. In the past, victimising a left-winger for his or her politics would be called a `McCarthyite witch-hunt'; now doing it to a BNP supporter would apparently be deemed fair play.

Any racist behaviour by a policeman or any other public servant is obviously unacceptable. But being barred, fired or punished for a personal political view is a different matter. Even police officers should not be subjected to the thought police.

And while we are on the subject, Britain's trade unions should drop their attempt to change the law so that they are able to ban BNP members from membership. Private clubs and political parties should be free to decide who they want as members. But trade unions are by nature meant to be organisations representing and open to the entire workforce.

Behind all of that, the publication of these membership lists and the reaction to them might also remind us of some facts about the BNP and the mistaken way in which it is often perceived. The publication confirms that it remains a relatively small and ineffective organisation, riven by the sort of petty disputes and power struggles that have long characterised the far right in Britain - which is presumably why some disaffected individual leaked the information via the internet.

But, as the BNP leadership has pointed out, the list also confirms that the party membership is not entirely typified by `a skinhead oik'. Despite what its opponents claim, it is not the National Front of the 1970s and early 1980s, with whom some of us are old enough to recall exchanging blows rather than views. The BNP members include professionals and other respectable types, such as the ballerina, Simone Clarke, who was previously exposed as a BNP member.

Even more than its members, BNP voters today are quite different from the way they are often depicted. The mainstream parties have sought to demonise the BNP as the fascist symbol of evil in British political life, the one thing against which all decent people must unite. Yet in reality support for the BNP today reflects above all the widespread feeling of alienation from the political class. It has become an all-purpose symbol of disaffection amongst white voters, rather than an endorsement of any of the party's specific (and specifically grim) policies. That is why its votes can go sharply up and down from one election to another, almost regardless of what the BNP does or says.

What our established political leaders fail to grasp is that the more they try to censor, bar or put down the BNP and its members, the more they risk reinforcing its reputation as a protest movement for free speech and against the discredited old politics. The `exposure' of its membership lists may well put some off joining for now. But the wider demonisation of the BNP, of which the reaction to this is part, is the best publicity it can get.

The only thing that really needs to be `exposed' about the BNP today is its politics. That requires a commitment to democratic debate and free speech, not censorship, disciplinary procedures and blacklists.


So, when will it be OK to mock Obama?

The lack of laughs about the new president-elect exposes the slavishly conformist nature of contemporary satire

During the latter stages of the US presidential race, it seemed that everywhere the Republican candidates went, comedians' ridicule swiftly followed. It wasn't hard to see why. John McCain's all-too-literal impersonation of a `dead man walking' was grist to the mockers' mill. His increasingly hangdog defeatism was probably not helped by the car crash that was Sarah Palin. Nobody really needed to take the piss; she seemed to be giving it away on an interview-by-interview basis. Indeed, such was the relentlessness of the comic onslaught - be it Tina Fey's Palin impersonation or Jon Stewart's daily ambush on the Republican camp - that American humorist Joe Queenan was moved to declaim: `For the first time in American history, a presidential candidate had seen all his hopes and dreams undone by the sheer emotive power of naked, unalloyed satire.' (1)

We can forgive Queenan's lurch into hyperbole, because he does touch upon something important: the sheer one-sidedness of the `unalloyed satire' during the presidential campaign. Where was the mockery of the Democratic candidate Barack Obama? Where were the scabrous commentaries on Obama's rather hesitant debating technique? Who was sending up the vacuity of his oratory? Or his glib Messianism?

Some comedians did have a go at making Obama jokes. Last week on the The David Letterman Show, stand-up Don Rickles ventured that when faced with his first international crisis, Obama would tell his advisers that he couldn't be interrupted because he was playing basketball. Unfortunately for Rickles, the allusion to Obama's fondness for the hoop also unwittingly alluded to (un)popular black stereotypes. The joke bombed; Rickles apologised.

The terror of appearing racist, of facing the amassed force of proxy offence, has undoubtedly proved inhibiting for some lily-livered comedians. But there is something else, too. It's as if Obama is, well, just too darned perfect.

This becomes clear in a piece written by the British comic author John O'Farrell, a former script writer for the satirical TV show Spitting Image. He argues that a satirist searches for what `is distinctive and interesting about any new personality and then mercilessly exaggerate[s] it until it becomes a hideous and character-defining flaw' (2). So in Margaret Thatcher's case, Spitting Image took her ballsiness, her ruthless machismo, and made it literal: on that show, when her dummy wasn't berating and terrifying male colleagues, it was standing beside them at the urinals, taking a leak. More recently, ex-PM Tony Blair's maniacal self-certainty - even in the aftermath of palpably wrong-headed decisions such as the Iraq War - seemed to manifest itself in increasingly demonic portrayals of Blair in political satire. The smile, once a mark of his charisma, became the caricaturist's testament to his dementia.

Whether it was George W Bush, Blair, or, indeed, Whig PM Robert Walpole more than 250 years ago, personal traits and physical characteristics have traditionally been transformed into defining features of politicians' public appearance. That is, the caricature captures something of the essence of their style of politics, be it Blair's mock-heroic approach to world affairs or Bush's chimpish inarticulacy. But in Obama's case, nothing, it seems, has lent itself to ridicule. There has been no defining character trait like Thatcher's cojones; no peccadillo like Bill Clinton's infamous internship programme; and certainly no physiological feature like Blair's crazed grin. O'Farrell concludes that Obama seems `to be beyond satire at the moment' (3).

There is a paradox to this conclusion. At a time when personality politics has never been so preponderant - indeed, when an election campaign involved such unprecedented scrutiny of the presidential candidates' backgrounds as the source of their prospective appeal - the ground for caricature, ridicule and satire has never seemed so fecund. Certainly for McCain and Palin, this proved excruciatingly true. But for Obama, no matter the revelations contained within Dreams From My Father or The Audacity of Hope, no matter the endless play upon his multi-racial identity, no matter the overweening sincerity of his oratory. his public persona has seemed Teflon-like in its resistance to satire.

Yet the inability to mock Obama certainly has a wilful element to it. For the cultural elite dominating the media, Obama is their man. Mike Sweeney, producer of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, admitted as much when he remarked: `A lot of people are excited about his candidacy. It's almost like: "Hey, don't go after this guy. He's a fresh face; cut him some slack."' (4) Mike Barry, a longstanding comic writer in the US, echoed O'Brien's caution: `I think some of us were too quick to caricature Al Gore and John Kerry and there's maybe some reluctance to do the same thing to [Obama].' (5)

In Britain, the response has been similar, and if anything, more gushing. While hosting BBC TV's topical TV panel show Have I Got News For You on the Friday before the presidential election, comedian and Pimms connoisseur Alexander Armstrong defended his McCain jibes on the basis that an Obama victory would be a `good thing'. Unusually for a comedy show, when it comes to the current president-elect irony is prohibited.

This comedic gentleness, and sometimes desperate, explicit support, tells us something of the nature of the Obama phenomenon amongst his liberal cheerleaders: they want to believe. If they stare too hard, too critically, if comedians on The Daily Show or Late Night parody or mock Obama, perhaps with a sly dig here or a slicing barb there, then there's the perceived risk that the whole edifice of Obama's near mystical appeal will collapse. It's as if comedy fears to tread lest it break the spell.

The complicity between comedy's omerta and Obama's presidency is seen by many as positive. `Every few years', writes O'Farrell, `there comes a rare interval in politics when the usually sceptical general public are filled with hope and optimism and belief' (6). And insofar as comedy has in recent years merely echoed a widespread cynicism towards politics, such a shift is perhaps to be applauded. Except that's not really what it is.

A key plinth of Obama-support sprung from his distance from politics as it had recently been pursued. To the inbreeding and uninspiring pragmatism of the ancien regime of the Bushes and Clintons, Obama promised something else. He promised `change', `hope'. And in doing, so he articulated popular disenchantment with mainstream politics and politicians. Youthful, and ostensibly untainted by the hypocrisy of the political careerist, Obama's brand of personality politics worked on the basis that it was sincere and authentic. When Hillary Clinton wept, she was suspect. When Obama did it, he was believed. Obama, then, is not so much the rejuvenation of politics than the logical culmination of anti-political cynicism. In its tentativeness towards Obama, comedy simply followed this cynical anti-cynicism all the way to the White House; comedians recognised in Obama their own sense of exhaustion and cynicism with mainstream politics.

The problem here, however, is not so much the explicit collusion of comedy and comedians with any particular party, or indeed any particular politician, but a tacit, near subconscious acceptance of certain ascendant cultural trends. Be it the suspicion that all politicians are hypocritical douche-bags or a belief that there are certain things beyond the pale, like a basketball joke or being an Alaskan Hockey Mom, too many contemporary comedians, especially when being political, merely reinforce contemporary liberal prejudices. In this sense, Obama appears flawless to many prominent comedians and satirists not because he is, but because they lack the ideological distance to see him otherwise. If it doesn't challenge, then comedy, and especially satire, conforms.

The same could not be said for the seeds of what is often seen as a highpoint of innovative, radical satire. In 1916, on the same Zurich street upon which Vladimir Lenin was then living, the Dadaist club Cabaret Voltaire opened. For a few months a variety of acts practised the art of `insulting a despised outside world made up of the bourgeoisie, the warring governments and their armies and (more immediately) the uncomprehending public.' (7) As its founders moved on from Zurich, mainly to Paris and Berlin, such challenges to the cultural norms of the day were continued in the name of Dada long after Cabaret Voltaire closed.

One of its founders, Richard Huelsenbeck, travelled to Berlin. There he started collaborating with the painter and cartoonist Georg Grosz and the photomontage artist, John Heartfield. They set out to lay bare the world around them. Be it Heartfield's depictions of Hitler - mouth open, spewing junk - or Grosz's repellent portraits of the decadence and degeneracy of the Weimar period, both waged implacable war on the dominant culture of the time. As Huelsenbeck put it, `the Dadaist instinctively. sees his mission in smashing the cultural ideology of the Germans' (8). Or as he remarked elsewhere, German culture is `shit'.

In Grosz's own tellingly titled A Small Yes and a Big NO, he continues the fecal analogy, likening their activity to `shit stirring' (9). He writes, `Dada was neither mysticism, nor communism, nor anarchism, all of which had some sort of programme or other. We were complete, pure nihilists, and our symbol was the vacuum, the void.' (10) It was their steadfast opposition to their time, their sheer anti-conformism, which gave their satire and their art its force.

The Weimar period is far from an isolated moment of comedic subversion. In the US, the emergence of a new wave of stand-up comedians during the 1950s and 60s was equally marked by an antagonism to the cultural pieties of the period. But for people such as Lenny Bruce, Joan Rivers or Mel Brooks, the target was not actually the right wing in power, from McCarthyism to Nixon; it was the broader cultural ascendancy of a debased liberalism, of new pieties to be inflicted upon the masses. In attacking this, these comedians exposed the intolerance of what Thomas Paine called toleration: the state-sponsored approval of what is acceptable and what is not. As one commentator remarked: `For the older generation of comedians [such as Bruce and Brooks], the question wasn't how to be a good person but how to break free of an order in which goodness was something forced upon you.' (11)

As the attitude to Obama testifies, the problem today is that comedy is simply too affirmative. Its practitioners don't challenge the prejudices of their audience, let alone of their age; they merely reinforce them.


Bureaucratic Britain cares more for animals and old buildings than it does for people

As a (fairly) normal person who has always stood on her own feet, and thought social workers were for that section of society unable or unwilling to help themselves, to find myself and my family caught up in the impenetrable, sticky web that is Social Services makes me feel like a trapped fly, slowly desiccating until I - or at least my ancient mother - turn to dust.

While I've been feeling, over the past couple of weeks, a bit sorry for the social workers who have been named and shamed over the case of Baby P, as someone on the sharp (blunt?) end of their ministerings, I can only wonder that they ever manage to help anyone. In the ten years that my mother has been disabled and bedridden, I have filled in hundreds of forms. Now, I am not illiterate, but neither I (nor my brother, a lawyer, or sister, a nurse) can make head nor tail of them. How old people manage without willing and able relatives to help them apply for a hoist, say, is beyond comprehension.

At the moment, I pay half the cost of a full-time, live-in nurse (who is a saint, by the way), my mum contributes $400 a month to her care, and the local authority pays the rest. I understand that while treatment on the NHS is free, palliative care has always been means-tested, and can vary from local authority to local authority. What drives me crackers, though, is the endless hoops my mother is put through whenever we ask for something new, as if she is ever going to get better or suddenly start earning money.

What makes me despair most is how thin-skinned all these social workers are. If you get even the slightest bit agitated, they burst into tears and start wittering on about how they are `doing their best'. How they cope with families who are really aggressive and unco-operative and not good at forms - well, we know how they cope. They don't. Yes, I blame the red tape foisted on them but I also blame their attitude, nurtured by a society that doesn't believe jobs should be hard.

The problem is our priorities are all upside down. To illustrate this point, let me tell you about my problem with eight long-eared bats. Now, I am an animal lover, but I wonder at a society that puts the welfare of tiny flying creatures above all else. For the past year, I have been trying to get permission to repair the roof of a barn, the slates of which threaten to decapitate passing animals and children. While it has proved difficult to get someone to come to see my mum, the procession of professionals who have come to peer at my bats has created a groove in the ancient floor.

When I phoned a body called Natural England to ask for advice, a woman shouted at me: `You are about to commit an offence.' No, I said. If I were about to commit an offence I wouldn't have phoned you first. She told me I `may' have to get a licence. Did I need a licence or not? `You need an ecologist, which will cost $700 per visit. You will probably need three surveys, including a visit next summer to map flight patterns, and then you can apply for a licence. You need to write a mission statement as well, which costs $1,500.' I asked if I could get on with essential work such as sinking a septic tank, and she barked: `Are you sure you don't have newts?'

This country puts the welfare of bats - which have plenty of other places on my property to sleep and breed, including the loft - above the employment of six local craftsmen in a time of recession. I was even reprimanded for installing lagging without permission. Whatever happened to worrying about polar bears?

This level of vigilance would be welcome were it applied to children and old people - perhaps my mum, despite her incapacity, should hang from the ceiling. But it seems we are getting all nostalgic and proprietorial about wildlife, when it is perfectly acceptable to farm pigs in a manner that would make the strongest stomach queasy, continue to hunt deer (I have passed two deer hunts here on Exmoor in the past week - I thought Labour had made it illegal) or operate a social services system that allows babies to be battered to death.

Why are all these public sector workers not serving us, but instead looking forward to their (safe) pensions, never putting themselves out for someone who is very old and scared, or very young and scared? Yet threaten to lift a finger to something vaguely `heritage', and all hell breaks loose. It's all wrong, isn't it?


The anti-spankers lose in One Australian State

The State Government has backed the right of parents to smack their children, despite growing calls Australia-wide for a ban. In a controversial decision, Premier Anna Bligh said Queensland would not join 26 countries -- New Zealand the most recent -- to introduce anti-smacking laws. Ms Bligh told The Sunday Mail yesterday that adults would be allowed to use "reasonable force" when disciplining their children. But, she warned, parents would be punished if they used excessive violence.

The strong stance will put Ms Bligh and Attorney-General Kerry Shine offside with several Labor backbenchers who had campaigned for law changes. Led by former attorney-general Dean Wells, the group had wanted Section 280 of the Queensland Criminal Code to be amended so it no longer operated as a defence to any kind of assault on a child. In an exclusive Sunday Mail report in March, Mr Wells revealed that 700 parents a year were charged with assaulting their children, about 400 of those for serious assaults. He believed many got off because they could legally claim -- under the "archaic and dangerous" Section 280 -- that they were using reasonable force.

Ms Bligh ordered a Justice Department review in May of all relevant cases with a view to changing the law if the audit showed prosecutions had failed. The Premier said yesterday the review of almost 200 cases showed Section 280 was not being used as a loophole protecting violent parents and there would be no amendment. "What this exhaustive review has shown conclusively is that the current system works," said Ms Bligh, a mother-of-two who had previously admitted smacking her children as toddlers. "There is no excuse for using excessive violence towards a child, and under Queensland law there is nowhere for violent parents to hide."

Queensland's Council of Churches, parenting organisations and a group of prominent psychologists had lobbied the Government for a change to the law. Other countries to outlaw the practice include Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Germany, Norway, Cyprus, Croatia and Latvia.

However, Ms Bligh said the review showed Section 280 was rarely used as a defence. "I am confident that parents who assault their children will face the full force of the law," she said. "At the same time, this review revealed some shocking cases involving parents using weapons or their fists to discipline or slapping their children about the head. "It is not discipline, it is assault and appalling behaviour from any parent and police and the courts have responded accordingly."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Britain: Hero Father Jailed for Protest

Jolly Stanesby, a divorced father of one, has carried out numerous daring, creative protests. He handcuffed himself to the English anti-father "Children's" Minister Margaret Hodge at a family law conference in Salford in November, 2004. He spent seven days on Tamar Bridge in Plymouth, England in January, 2004, refusing to come down from his freezing perch despite being told "you could die up there," and then enraging British police by cleverly eluding capture.

Stanesby is a registered child care provider and is thus allowed to care for any child in England except his own, who he is barred from calling and is allowed to see only four days a month. Stanesby became a registered child minder in the hope he could spend more time with his five year-old daughter.

In 2006 he helped take over the live National Lottery TV show, and in 2007 made international headlines by climbing Stonehenge dressed as Fred Flintstone with a banner demanding that family law be taken "out of the Stone Age."

Last week Stanesby was jailed for his role in a rooftop protest at the home of Deputy Prime Minister Harriett Harman. English fatherhood activists are organizing a campaign to "FREE JOLLY."


Christian Prayer Group Sexually and Physically Assaulted by Homosexual Mob

San Francisco Castro District residents seek vengeance for vote on Proposition 8

A mob of homosexuals sexually and physically assaulted a group of Christians praying together in the city's Castro District last week, in apparent retaliation for the recent defeat of homosexual marriage in California.

The Christians, a group of Evangelical Protestants who regularly go to the predominantly homosexual Castro District to sing songs and pray with passers-by, say they were holding hands and singing "Amazing Grace" when a angry mob began to shove and kick them, steal their belongings, pour hot coffee on their faces, and sexually assault them.

"We'd been there for a couple of nights just singing worship songs, people would come up and stand with us and join us, we got to pray for some people," said one participant in an account filmed at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (See here), "but on Friday night it just was different."

"We started worshipping, it was kind of like you would walk into someone's living room, and people are just hanging out with a guitar, worshipping Jesus, just really peaceful," she continued. "And a man came up after we'd been there for a little while and just began yelling and swearing at us and commanding us to get out of the Castro District, and our leader went up and he said 'why are you here?' and she said 'we're here to worship God and we're here because we love you'."

The words enraged the man, who was soon followed by others. Although the group did no preaching, the mere presence of Christians praying in the Castro District was enough to provoke a frenzy of violence.

"A few men came and they brought a large piece of cloth and covered us with cloth and cornered us into a corner, and they started swearing at us and yelling at us and just filled with hatred, and the crowd grew larger and larger and larger until it ended up being a few hundred people and the bars had emptied out, and we're completely surrounded by people yelling at us," the participant recounted.

"And all of a sudden, me and another friend had hot coffee poured on our faces, and I thought they were pouring boiling water on us until I could smell the coffee, and the girl next to me, someone reached in and took her Bible and she went and said 'I'm sorry that's mine, can I have it back please?' and he hit on her head with the Bible, pushed her onto the ground and began kicking her."

According to the account, members of the crowd began to shove the group and blow whistles in their ears. They took photographs and said "we know who you are, we're going to kill you". The group made a circle with the women protected inside. That was when "it got bad, it got perverse," the participant said.

Although the videotaped participant did not elaborate, a YouTube member who posted a video of the violence included anonymous testimony from a participant claiming that "they were touching and grabbing me, and trying to shove things in my butt, and even trying to take off my pants - basically trying to molest me. I used one hand to hold my pants up, while I used the other arm to hold one of the girls. The guys huddled around all the girls, and protected them."

After police arrived in riot gear, the mob reportedly became even more agitated, and began to violently lunge at the prayer group, seeking to go between the officers, who had formed a protective line. That was when the videotaped participant said she thought she was going to die.

The police then reportedly insisted in escorting the group out of the Castro District, stating that it was necessary to preserve the lives of the prayer group members. A video on YouTube records the final minutes of the escort, showing angry homosexuals screaming curse words, threatening the Christians, and attempting to force their way through the protective line of police (see video here).

San Francisco's KTVU reports that one opponent of Proposition 8 claimed that "their rights were respected. They got a chance to go ahead and pray on the sidewalk and I had the opportunity to express my freedom of speech which is telling them to get out of my neighborhood."

The television station explicitly attributed the anger of the homosexual mob to the recent victory of Proposition 8, the California referendum that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Peter LaBarbera, President of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), told LifeSiteNews that America is beginning to see the real face of the homosexual movement in the aftermath of the Proposition 8 victory in California. "Basically I think what we're seeing is that the homofascist element of the larger gay movement is coming out of the closet, and they're emboldened by what they perceive as injustice, but I'm hoping and I'm praying that their antidemocratic behavior educates America and helps Americans wake up to what this movement is all about," LaBarbera said.

"If you do a little logic test and flip it around and if you had a video of a bunch of Christians or let's just say conservatives, sexually molesting and chasing some gays out of a city, you'd better believe there would be a national outcry," he added.

LaBarbera said that his website continues to receive more page views as interest grows in his organization, which is exclusively committed to combating the homosexual political agenda in the United States.


'Merry Christmas' greetings banned from Philippines airport

The Philippines is an overwhelmingly Catholic country. The claim that the greeting is a way of asking for money is at least original

Manila airport workers have been banned from wishing travellers a Merry Christmas, a newspaper has reported. The warning was issued by airport general manager Alfonso Cusi who claimed the polite yuletide greeting was a "not so subtle way of asking for money" from arriving passengers, the Manila Stan-dard Today reported on its front page.

The directive, which is issued every year to airport employees, aims to "prevent airport personnel and security officers from soliciting money from passengers," Cusi was quoted as saying. Anyone found violating the order will be punished, he said.

The paper said the edict is usually ignored, adding: "Critics say there are other means of shaking down passengers aside from saying Merry Christmas." November and December are traditionally peak months at Manila airport with 897,820 arrivals for the two months last year.


Grinch council bans Christmas carols in London store

THE Grinch has struck early in London with a council banning a traditional shop display by claiming its Christmas carols were ''noise pollution''. The Christmas lights and music along the British capital's famous Oxford St shopping precinct is a highlight for the tens of thousands of visitors it attracts each day in December. But Westminster Council yesterday threatened to prosecute department store Debenhams if it continued to play carols as part of its annual $250,000 display including dancing reindeers and snowmen moving to Silent Night.

Despite Oxford St being one of the noisiest streets in the city, regardless of the season, the council's environmental health officials deemed the music a nuisance and ordered it be switched off. "If every business was allowed to blast its choice of music and advertising into Oxford Street a visit would become unbearable and inevitably affect trade," the council's cabinet member for community protection Daniel Astaire said.

Debenhams said it has offered to turn the volume down - to be heard only if a person's ear was an inch from its glass window - but the council rejected the idea and threatened to issue it a fine. Many of the shops along the strip are offering goods for up to 60 per cent off as the credit crunch has kept visitor numbers down. Debenhams' attendants said they believed the music would offer some cheer in gloomy times and were surprised when offers to turn the volume right down were rejected.

Birmingham Council, meanwhile, has been branded the meanest in the UK after it put up an undecorated 1.5m-tall [5 ft high] tree as the centrepiece of its public recognition of the season.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

More stupid laws proposed for Britain

The feminist approach to prostitution is like their approach to everything: Blame men! Similar laws are already in place in Sweden. The Left were once big advocates of sexual permissiveness but we once again see that no actual principles were involved in that

For someone who never gambles, I am an unlikely member of a posh London casino. To be honest, I only go now and again because the casino has a lovely 18th-century bar, where you can drink a perfectly mixed cocktail in comfort.

However, there are rituals to be observed. 'Are you gaming tonight, madam?' the polite receptionist always asks us lady members. Even though he must know, as I do, that more than a few of our number are actually madams on the game. Like migratory birds sinking their feet into the soft, welcome mud of an African lakeside, prostitutes flock to casinos. Anywhere rich men congregate, so do the call girls. The smarter ones, at any rate. The ones not yet fogged by heroin and hopelessness. Or who live in a twilight pinball world; whizzing between punter, pimp and dealer before the jackpot of an opiate-induced haze and oblivion.

Yet Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, under whose care all these lost girls are found, is not interested in prostitutes. Not really. She hasn't actually ever met one, or personally canvassed an opinion from one. This week, she announced that her focus is on the men who use their services instead. And like the casino doorman, she turns a coy, blind eye to the antics of the independent high-class hooker and escort girl.

Smith has just unveiled a steaming mess of new laws aimed at criminalising men who pay for sex with trafficked or exploited women. Ignorance of the girl's background will be no defence for punters, and men who knowingly pay for sex with trafficked women may be charged with rape. You may ask yourself how a commercial transaction, no matter how distasteful or amoral it may seem to others, can be suddenly reclassified as rape. Answer: it can't.

This is just the worst kind of gesture politics from a politician desperate to recast herself in the rosy glow of sexual reform. Patronisingly, she sees every prostitute as a helpless victim. And to the suggestion that many 'trafficked' women are actually just economic migrants, she says: 'I do not buy that argument.' End of. Men need to think twice about paying for sex, says the Home Secretary, who wants to obliterate the sex industry by strangling demand for it - rather like trying to stop tooth decay by banning the baking of cupcakes.

Do you know, her naivety would be endearing, if it wasn't so petty and dangerous. Jacqui, there are lots of things that men need to think twice about, but as they usually go right ahead and please themselves anyway, what is the point?

Smith's mad ramblings and ideals, forged in the hairy armpit heat of Seventies feminism and untrammelled by a sliver of practical common sense ever since, make me want to scream. All she will succeed in doing is driving the trafficked women further underground - making them more vulnerable to deeper depravity - and undermining the country's rape laws while she is at it. In all the years of New Labour lunacy, in all their obsessive, spirit-sapping social tinkering, has there ever been anything quite so mad, or ill thought out?

This country is in a bigger mess than it has been since the war. Toddlers are murdered in their cots. Teenagers are shot going home from school. Half a million migrants poured into the UK last year - and that's just the official number - while hundreds of businesses are going bust every day. And what is the Government doing to stop the rot? Getting its knickers in a twist about prostitution. It is indeed true that women have been trafficked across borders and are being held as sex slaves in this country. This is a dreadful business, but it is a criminal matter, not a civic one. The people who hold these girls and sell them are breaking the law. It is the job of the police to deal with them - to prosecute and send them to prison - not to chase around after some dumb cluck looking for a Friday night thrill.

He is hardly an innocent, but putting the moral onus on Joe Punter, his sweaty fivers clutched in his hand, is a waste of time. Is he even capable of making a decision based on principles rather than lust? His very presence at the kerbside suggests not. Prostitution in this country is a problem buttressed by two even bigger problems which are rooted in border control: illegal immigration and drug abuse. Energies should be concentrated in these areas, not trying to spray stardust on a Tinkerbell package of useless reforms.

Yes, offences are being committed but these half-baked, modish new laws will never make it through the courts. The policing of them is unenforceable. They will make no impression and no difference, while millions of pounds of public money - which we can ill afford - will go straight into the gutter because of them. On the roulette wheel of life, we have all lost out. Again.


Debbie Does Malice

By the inimitable Mike S. Adams

Dear Deb,

Thanks for taking the time to write me from your personal email address, which I am including here (debocracy@sbcglobal.net) for interested readers of my column. I am responding below to each of the three paragraphs of your brief email:

I am extremely concerned about the hateful tone of pundits who make money from stirring up needless division and spreading misinformation.

Deb, it may surprise you but I agree. That is why I've stopped reading the New York Times and all of its local affiliates, including the Wilmington McTimes, here in Wilmington, North Carolina. I have also blocked access to The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and MSNBC.com on all of the computers in my home. I'm really trying to do my part. So far, I have no problem with anything you've written.

The hate-mongering and fear-spreading used by the Right to try to salvage its power has frightened perfectly normal members of my family into thinking that the Obama presidency will bring us a totalitarian government. If you are really a scholar, then you know that this is all hokum.

Again, Deb, although I am a right-winger myself, I am in total agreement with you (except I doubt that every member of your family is "perfectly normal."). The Obama presidency will not bring about a totalitarian government. The reason for this is pretty simple: The 46% of us who voted for John McCain are presently arming ourselves to the hilt. Since I already have enough firearms to overthrow several Latin American governments, I've purchased five firearms and given them to friends and neighbors since it became apparent that McCain would not win the election. You did not ask me to but I've listed those five guns below as well as my reasons for giving them away:

* Remington 870 12-guage. The kid next door had his 14th birthday so I gave him an 870 with a 26-inch barrel. I told his dad that every family needed one. I suggested he buy an 18-inch barrel for home defense. I like having an armed neighbor just next door (just in case I run out of ammunition). Generally, I keep about 12,000 rounds on hand but you can't be too careful these days.

* Glock 19. Just as the 870 is the best "family gun", the mid-sized 9mm by Glock is the best "girl gun." It has enough stopping power to castrate a potential rapist. But there's not too much kick for the compact to medium-sized chick. I bought one for a girl I know who lives alone.

* Smith and Wesson Model 686. Aside from attending the same church, there is nothing better for a marriage than shooting the same gun. For the husband, the .357 round is just fine. But the wife will want to use the tamer .38 "special" round, preferably in a 125-grain hollow point. This is a great "couples gun" for those who agree with my assertion that no "man" relies on another man working for Brink's Home Security to defend his home and wife for him. Since one of my buddies complained about he and his wife "growing apart" I thought it would be nice to buy them one.

* Marlin 30-30 lever-action rifle. This is a hunting rifle for the whole family. The rounds are cheap and the kick is not bad at all. I used one to kill my first deer. I only wish I had it earlier when a pack of wild dogs came on my family's property and nearly killed our dog. This gun will down a pit bull. It will even take out a black bear. And it's cheap. Every hunter needs one. Spend a few extra bucks and get it in black walnut finish. I bought one as a wedding present for a friend from Alabama.

* Ruger 10/22. I have a friend who likes shooting guns all the time. We spend a lot of money on ammo every time he's in town. Once, I found myself thinking "I wish he had a .22 so we could save money at the range." So, one Sunday afternoon, I bought him one. In return, he shot some squirrels and showed me how to make squirrel stew. Sounds a little redneck, I know. But it beats the hell out of possum.

I hope that you will use your place of respect to call a halt to this campaign of ; hate and fear. Sincerely, Deborah Lagutaris.

Yes, Deb, I will. I hereby call on all of the following groups to stop with their post-election tactics of hate and fear:

* Gay rights activists who tear crosses out of the hands of little old ladies.

* Gay rights activists who invade church services in Michigan.


* Gay rights activists who are attacking the Mormons who had the decency to accept the 1879 Supreme Court ruling saying that states had a right to help confine marriage to one man and one woman by criminalizing bigamy.

* And, finally, gay rights activists in California who are trying to use the court system to nullify the rights of the people and "disenfranchise" the majority of American voters.

I don't think we're actually headed for totalitarianism, Deb. But if we get much closer, I'll have to buy a few more guns for insurance. Have a nice day,


Straight-talking Australian retailer

He built his huge business from scratch so is in good touch with reality -- and is confident of that

RETAILING billionaire Gerry Harvey has lamented that Australian charity is being wasted on "no-hopers". Asked in a new book about his community role, Mr Harvey said giving to people who "are not putting anything back into the community" is like "helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason".

He said it was arguable that giving charity to the homeless was "just wasted". "It might be a callous way of putting it but what are they doing?" he said. "They are just a drag on the whole community." He emphasised that he and his retail chain, Harvey Norman, had given "plenty away over the years . the more quality individuals you develop in the community, the better off the community should be". The comments are in the book Master CEOs, by funds manager Matthew Kidman.

Clare Martin, of the Australian Council of Social Service, said she had always thought Harvey Norman was aligned with the wider business sector on community involvement. "It does surprise me that Gerry Harvey, who's a very significant business figure, should not share the values of many other corporates."


Australia: Muslim leaders condone rape, violence

SOME Muslim imams condone rape and domestic violence within marriage, exploitation of women, welfare fraud and polygamy, a report has found. The report was based on a study commissioned and funded by the former coalition government and produced by the Islamic Welfare Council of Victoria, Fairfax newspapers report. The report, presented on yesterday at a National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies conference at the University of Melbourne, alleged that some Victorian imams:

* Apply Sharia law only where it benefits men;

* Hinder police investigations of domestic violence claims; and

* Knowingly perform polygamous marriages, which allow a second wife to claim Centrelink payments because they are regarded as de facto wives under Australian law.

The study was based on extensive community consultation; interviews with police, lawyers, court staff and academics, and meetings and interviews with the Victorian Board of Imams, Fairfax said. The report said the 24-man board ignored or did not directly answer many of the questions put to it.

Women, community and legal workers and police said they were concerned about domestic violence and said imams put the interest of families ahead of women. Relatives and community members sometimes pressured women to drop domestic violence cases, the report said. Former husbands entered the houses of their separated but not religiously divorced ex-wives, demanding sex and, in some cases, committing rape. "Workers who have assisted women in this situation said that the advice women received from the imams was that it was 'halal' - permitted - because there was a valid - 'nikah' - marriage," it says.

Melbourne Muslims were increasingly accepting polygamous marriages while police in Shepparton say many de facto relationships were really polygamous marriages, the report said.

The imams' narrow religious training, lack of life experience, poor English and a lack of understanding of Australia caused problems, some quoted in the report said. The secretary of the Board of Imams, Sheikh Fehmi Naji El-Imam, denied the complaints "absolutely". "They must have heard stories here and there and are writing about them as though they are fact," he said. "I haven't heard of any case where the board disregarded a woman or did not try to help her."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, November 21, 2008

ACLU Attacks Proposition 8, California, and the Concept of Democracy

The California Supreme Court amended the state's constitution to find a right for homosexual marriage. Then the people of California used the same constitution for an initiative to define marriage in the constitution as between one man and one woman. Having lost that vote, the ACLU has attacked again, demanding that the courts again overrule the sovereign people and again force the issue on the people.

The facts for this analysis, but not the legal conclusions, come from an article in the Los Angeles Times on 6 November, 2008. California voters approved Proposition 8, placing the historical definition of marriage as consisting of one man plus one woman into the state's Constitution. Then the ACLU and several other "civil rights" groups filed suit asking California courts to throw out the new provision in the Constitution.

In addition to the Southern California ACLU, the other organizations filing three separate cases in state court are "gay rights" organizations. Interestingly, most of the articles on these cases in a Google news search are in alternative newspapers, and papers published for homosexual readers. The cases all claim that Proposition 8 was a "constitutional revision" under California law, rather than a "constitutional amendment." The former, unlike the latter, are required to go through the legislature before going to the people for a vote.

The tactic is reminiscent to Massachusetts, where the Supreme Judicial Court (the commonwealth's Supreme Court) by a one-vote margin, established the "right" to homosexual marriage by judicial fiat. Opponents then petitioned for an initiative to reassert popular control of Massachusetts marital law. However in that commonwealth, ALL initiatives go to the legislature first before the people get any chance to vote. So far, the legislature has prevented any vote on the matter in Massachusetts, where the process of court-ordered homosexual marriage began.

Through these law suits in California, those who favor homosexual marriage seek two results. The immediate one is to obtain yet another court order which throws out an initiative decision to overrule either a law or a court decision, by filing sufficient signatures and then winning the popular vote that follows. The second result is to impose an additional barrier in the initiative process, so that a legislature which is afraid of the issue will stand between the people and their right to the initiative.

The history of this issue in California shows the people approved a prior initiative which wrote into the state's law the definition of marriage as consisting of one man and one woman. The California Supreme Court, by a one-vote margin, declared that unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Court knew when it issued its decision that Proposition 8 would probably make the ballot and be up for a vote. The Court ran away from the pending decision by the sovereign voters and refused to stay the effects of its decision until after the election.

According to the article, those attacking Proposition 8 have made a policy judgment not to file any of these cases in federal court on the grounds that federal courts are less likely to accept homosexual marriage as a civil right under the federal Constitution. A bad result in the US Supreme Court would cripple the issue in all states at once.

These are the groups and interests who have brought these three cases: ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal. Santa Clara County and the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles also sued, and Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred filed a third suit on behalf of a married lesbian couple.

The point that many readers might logically raise is, how can a provision placed into a constitution nonetheless be unconstitutional? The quick answer is, it can't. Consider this example: long ago the Supreme Court ruled that in drawing legislative district boundaries, they must be made as close as possible to equal. The principle established was "one man, one vote." Yet the Court recognized that the variance from the largest district (state) for US Senate and the smallest was about 70 - 1. But this difference was constitutional, because the Constitution itself said so.

The tactic of the ACLU in this issue is similar to its tactics in many jurisdictions on all aspects of "homosexual rights." It is to force the issue through the courts, and keep it away from elected legislatures, and especially away from the people themselves in the initiative process.

The ACLU here, and in many other issues, is attacking the very idea of a constitution, that it means what it says until and unless it is amended legitimately. The ACLU is attacking the very concept of democratic decision-making within a constitutional government. Although the ACLU claims to be in favor of civil rights, it is opposed to the ultimate sovereignty of the people, whenever it fears that the people will make the wrong decision.

The co-chairman of the Proposition 8 campaign stated it simply and correctly in the following quote. And kudos to the L.A. Times for publishing this quote in the second paragraph, at the beginning of this article. "They go behind the people's back to the courts and try and force an agenda on the rest of society."


The Drumbeat

The drumbeat. It's always there. Day and night. Rain or shine. Winter or Summer. Sunday or Monday. It comes at you from every direction. It comes over the TV, the radio, at work, at school, in music, in the newspapers, from the politicians, in conversation with others, even in church. It wears you down. It robs you of the will to resist its message. Even short-lived victories, which stop it briefly, leave you with the knowledge that it will return; each minor victory bound to be lost to the redoubled efforts of this patient and persistent force. You can't escape it. It never stops. It never gives up. It never ends. It rains upon you from every possible angle, from every possible source.

It's the drumbeat of the left. It is political, philosophical, theological, and social. It pervades every activity. It is post-structural, post-modern, post-everything in the parlance of the day. It is tolerant, diverse, non-judgmental, non-discriminatory, egalitarian, politically correct, multicultural, globalist, and collectivist. It insists that there are no rights and wrongs, no moral absolutes. It turns everything upside down in its looking glass world. It denies the correctness of all that produced what our culture revered before the deconstruction of the world in accordance with the tenets of cultural Marxism.

It denies God, human exceptionalism, and the soul. We are reduced to Darwinian animals floundering in an amoral sea of meaninglessness. It is a product of the nihilistic, existentialist philosophical movement, which went hand in hand with modern art, atonal music, scientific materialism and modern physics, and the generally discordant nature of the twentieth century.

It is said that a fish is not aware of the water in which it swims since it is totally immersed in it. This is the way cultural Marxism is taking over our world in its inexorable Gramscian march. We swim in it. It enters every pore of our existence. It is everywhere. We can't escape it. Many people accept this world without even realizing it, just as the fish accepts the water in which it swims. They don't realize it as the left creates new conventional wisdom and new intuitions about truth.

The cultural Marxists convince us that the truth is that there is no truth. And even though this unresolvable paradox lies at the very center of all this, the constant drumbeat keeps the masses in line, anesthetized enough to not make an issue of it. Fed a constant diet of sex, drugs, poisonous pop culture, materialistic trinkets, and unkeepable promises of security provided by huge leftist government, ever more globalist in nature, the masses are diverted from realizing, as they are told there is no truth, that this claim itself is subject to the same test. It is logically impossible for the leftist drumbeat to be true by its own axioms.

The principles upon which Western culture rests and upon which America was built are under attack by these slow acting but deadly forces. The drumbeat is grinding down the will of the West to maintain itself. The ideas of individual sovereignty and responsibility, natural rights, and objective truth have been derided by the left to the point that many of our young people reject them, if, indeed, they are even aware of them as the basis for our culture. All that ensures that a culture will pass its ideas down from one generation to the next is its cultural memory. The drumbeat is slowly but surely replacing our cultural memory.

As each school is renamed and the name of a Founder or other great person from our history is removed from its entrance way, we lose a bit of that memory. As our great authors and works of Western culture are replaced with those in line with the message of the drumbeat, we rapidly lose our cultural memory. As each school textbook is rewritten to reflect the new ideas of family and cultural heritage, our children are lost to the forces of the drumbeat as they learn to view America and traditional Western culture as oppressive and imperialistic. And it doesn't take long for there to be only a shell left, the substance of our culture sucked out and destroyed by the cultural Marxists.

If you believe that all this is a paranoid overreaction, you have plenty of company. Those of us who can still see the water and hear the drumbeat are subject to attempts to make us sound evil and foolish. To believe in traditional Western cultural values, American Exceptionalism, God, and moral truth is to be branded as old fashioned and foolish, even by the best assessments of those who have bought into the cultural Marxist's message. And by the worst of them, we are branded as stupid and evil, and in need of being destroyed.

It may be too late to do anything about this as the world plays out its story. The power-hungry arrogance of human beings seems to be the force that underlies the events carrying us forward to the final chapter. And as this arrogance and lust for power feeds the wills of those who would gain control of the world, humankind is gaining just enough knowledge to destroy itself in that arrogance. Never before in human history has there been such a confluence of forces. Technology, globalism, and the leftist drumbeat are joining together in a way that is allowing mankind to believe, on a worldwide scale, that it can control its own destiny.

The main thing that is being ignored in all this is human nature. It is all based upon the arrogant presumptions of the elitist cultural Marxists concerning how people ought to act. It leads to totalitarianism and destruction.

In truth, and in direct opposition to the drumbeat, each human being must be accorded his or her natural rights, individual sovereignty, and self responsibility to be in harmony with human nature. Each of us must have the freedom to succeed or to fail. Western culture, culminating in the great American experiment, has been perverted. Due to these perversions, many failures have already occurred, which have then, ironically, been used to justify further perversions of the same sort as those which caused the problems to begin with.

Generally, these perversions are manifested in bigger government, more laws, more bureaucracy, more regulations, more taxes, and government controlled redistribution of wealth, more collectivism, less individualism, and less freedom. We all hear it constantly from leftist politicians as they add their part to the drumbeat: government must do more to ensure Americans avoid the consequences of their choices. We all know the song, sung to the cheers of the unthinking throngs who would give up their very humanity for the promise of a free lunch. These are the joys of cultural Marxism.

And the drumbeat goes on.


The Right To Win

Among the many new "rights" being conjured out of thin air, a new one seems to be a "right" to win. Americans have long had the right to put their candidates and their ideas to a vote. Now there seems to be a sense that your rights have been trampled on if you don't win.

Hillary Clinton's supporters were not merely disappointed, but outraged, when she lost the Democrats' nomination to Barack Obama. Some took it as a sign that, while racial barriers had come down, the "glass ceiling" holding down women was still in place.

Apparently, if you don't win, somebody has put up a barrier or a ceiling. The more obvious explanation of the nomination outcome was that Obama ran a better campaign than Hillary. There is not the slightest reason to doubt that she would have been the nominee if the votes in the primaries had come out her way.

As the election approached, pundits warned that, if Obama lost, there would be riots in the ghetto. We will never know. But since when does any candidate have a right to win any office, much less the White House?

The worst of all the reactions from people who act as if they have a right to win have come from gay activists in the wake of voter rejection of so-called "gay marriage," which is to say, redefining what marriage has meant for centuries.

Blacks and Mormons have been the main targets of the gay activists' anger. Seventy percent of blacks voted against gay marriage in California, so racial epithets were hurled at blacks in Los Angeles-- not in black neighborhoods, by the way. Blacks who just happened to be driving through Westwood, near UCLA, were accosted in their cars and, in addition to being denounced, were warned, "You better watch your back." Even blacks who were carrying signs in favor of gay marriage were denounced with racial epithets.

In Michigan, an evangelical church service was invaded and disrupted by gay activists, who also set off a fire alarm, because evangelicals had dared to exercise their right to express their opinions at the polls. In Oakland, California, a mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in such numbers that officials shut down a nearby freeway exit for more than three hours.

In their midst was a San Francisco Supervisor who said "The Mormon church has had to rely on our tolerance in the past, to be able to express their beliefs." He added, "This is a huge mistake for them. It looks like they've forgotten some lessons." Apparently Mormons don't have the same rights as other Americans, at least not if they don't vote the way gay activists want them to vote. There was another gay activist mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in Orange County, California.

In the past, gay activists have disrupted Catholic services and their "gay pride" parades in San Francisco have crudely mocked nuns.

While demanding tolerance from others, gay activists apparently feel no need to show any themselves.

How did we get to this kind of situation? With all the various groups who act as if they have a right to win, we got to the present situation over the years, going back to the 1960s, where the idea started gaining acceptance that people who felt aggrieved don't have to follow the rules or even the law. "No justice, no peace!" was a slogan that found resonance.

Like so many slogans, it sounds good if you don't stop and think-- and awful if you do. Almost by definition, everybody thinks their cause is just. Does that mean that nobody has to obey the rules? That is called anarchy. Nobody is in favor of anarchy. But some people want everybody else to obey the rules, while they don't have to.

What they want is not decisive, however. It is what other people are willing to tolerate that determines how far any group can go. When the majority of the people become like sheep, who will tolerate intolerance rather than make a fuss, then there is no limit to how far any group will go.


Means-testing welfare payments in Britain

In 1918 postwar relief for unemployed ex-soldiers and civilians was a comparatively generous "non-contributory donation". It seemed that the degrading days of the Poor Law were over, and the nation was at last properly respectful of its workers and former cannon fodder. But through the 1920s conditions of unemployment benefit got narrower. Then in 1930 the Depression threw government into a fiscal panic, and the poor got the sharp end with the Family Means Test.

You had to prove just how poor you were, in intimate domestic detail. It imposed form-filling, impertinent questions, and regular, shamingly visible, visits from investigators licensed to peer into your cooking-pots, rule that one chair per person was enough, and order you to sell your spare blankets. John Craig, an apprentice fitter, recalled: "You got so much off the labour exchange, but they kept control, and following you about would come to your house. Mother had a lovely big organ in the house. The inspector says `Well, you don't get any more money for four weeks until you sell that organ'. And my father belted him down the stairs." It broke up families into homelessness: adult children lost all benefits if anybody in the house earned 31 shillings a week, so they had to move out.

From 1934, 190,000 unemployed men were made to attend "training camps" simply because there were no jobs. One contemporary interviewee asked: "How could anyone expect an unemployed man to do physical jerks on 15s a week, or play ping pong, while his wife was sitting at home before a half-empty grate with only margarine to eat?" This humiliation visited on a formerly proud working class by the means test led to the Jarrow March: which demanded, let me remind you, not handouts but work.

The memory of that mass humiliation has hung over politics ever since, colouring everything. There is a parallel with the way that the memory of callous mine-owners - shredding incriminating paperwork after disasters such as Gresford - stopped subsequent Labour governments from daring to stand up to less reasonable miners' demands. Well, the miners were finally (and brutally) defeated. But thanks to the flatfooted regime of the 1930s, means testing remains anathema.

It leads to countless illogicalities, from free bus passes for elderly millionaires to child benefit for yummy-mummies wearing Prada. I dare not compute how many billions of public money has been wasted in paying the latter handout to women who absolutely do not need it: those in affluent families or highly paid jobs. In Australia child benefit is sensibly linked to the income tax system. In Britain any such suggestion is met with fury, usually from left-liberal women columnists earning four times the national average salary. They cite the horror of means testing as if terrified that the investigator might be round any minute to confiscate the baby's spare bibs.

The same squeamishness torpedoes sensible reforms like imposing modest "hotel charges" on richer hospital patients. That would have improved our dangerously appalling hospital food for everyone, and pumped millions into the NHS. But no: overboiled cabbage must be free at the point of delivery, with no evil means testing. The shame of the 1930s has crippled and blinded social security policymakers for seven decades, and the resulting financial anxiety as the system roars out of control has, paradoxically, made it less humane and more inflexible for those who really need it. Ask any brave chemotherapy patient who tries to do a bit of freelance work on the good days without losing a whole month's maintenance.

Why bring out this rant right now? Because the Government has floated the idea that council tenancies should not be secure for life. People in social housing would have fixed-term contracts, with regular reviews, so that when their incomes rise they could either buy some equity or pay more rent, thus freeing money for more social housing. At the moment, public tenants can usually stay put, at low protected rents, however rich they get. Frank Dobson became an MP and a Cabinet minister without losing his council flat, and Lee Jasper, Ken Livingstone's aide, was reported to be living in social housing while earning 117,000 pounds a year. Others took advantage of the right-to-buy scheme, then promptly moved in with a partner and sold the spare flat at a big profit on a booming market.

Meanwhile people in real need, earning little or nothing, spend years on waiting lists or compel desperate councils to waste public money on high private rents. But when government and the Chartered Institute of Housing cautiously talk about reviewing council tenancies or treating subsidised housing as a stepping-stone for some, there is an outcry. It's means testing! Aaaagh! One paper wailed that it would "penalise those who try to better their circumstances". But nobody is suggesting a disproportionate charge: and the system always "penalises" everybody who earns a bit more. It's called income tax.

A visiting Martian, unaware of the poisoned historical hinterland, would assume that rational sharing of a scarce resource was perfectly sensible. Even a proper Marxist, surveying the four million people on the waiting lists and the affluent Jaspers and Dobsons blocking the way, would murmur: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." But a liberal Briton, haunted by the officials who peered into the cooking-pots of the miserable 1930s, can only wail and emote.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

ACLU says minority students arrested more

I am sure they are. They are more prone to crime. Hispanics born of illegal immigrant parents are in fact much more crime-prone than their parents, who are in turn more crime-prone than non-Hispanic whites. And the hugely disproportionate incidence of crime among blacks is well-known. The ACLU can only make something out of the matters described below by ignoring all that and insisting on the hoary and totally-counterfactual Leftist assertion that all men are equal and that there are no intergroup differences

A civil rights advocacy group released a report Monday saying that minority public school students in East Hartford and West Hartford are more likely to be arrested for common disciplinary infractions than their white peers. The American Civil Liberties Union and its Connecticut chapter also alleges that minority students in the two towns are arrested at rates much higher than the percentages of blacks and Hispanics in the school populations.

ACLU officials said they and other civil rights activists are concerned about "a national trend of criminalizing, rather than educating, our nation's children, through increased reliance on zero-tolerance school discipline, school-based arrests, disciplinary alternative schools and secure detention." "One dismaying aspect ... is its disproportionate impact on students of color," the ACLU says. "Across the nation, such students are far more likely than their white peers to be suspended, expelled or arrested, even when engaging in exactly the same conduct.

Police in East Hartford and West Hartford denied that officers single out minority students. They also questioned the ACLU's data and said their school resource officers are highly trained.

In East Hartford, black and Hispanic students accounted for 69 percent of the student population in 2006-2007, but comprised 85 percent of school-based arrests, the ACLU says. In West Hartford the same year, 24 percent of students were black or Hispanic but 63 percent of students who were arrested were black or Hispanic....

Police officials in both towns denied that race played a role in student arrests. "The arrests are based solely on the students' behavior," said East Hartford police Officer Hugo Benettieri, a department spokesman. "If a crime occurs, an arrest is made."

More here

An Age of Barbarism

Melanie Phillips

Twenty years ago, I started writing about the breakdown of the family, the systematic undermining of moral constraints and the ascendancy of `lifestyle choice', a doctrine which forbade condemnation of any lifestyle as harmful. Non judgmentalism was now mandatory; the only judgment to be permitted henceforth was that judgment was discriminatory, and only disapproval was to be disapproved of. Stigma and shame were considered an affront to individual rights; disapproval of adultery or elective lone parenthood, for example, were dismissed as `Old Testament fundamentalism'.

During the past two decades, I warned repeatedly that the fragmentation of family life was in general a source of pain, damage and acute danger for children in particular but also the women in whose name modern feminists were promoting female independence from men; that mass fatherlessness was creating deserts of depravity and highly damaged children who were growing up to become highly damaged parents; that the collapse of social and moral controls was destroying the most fundamental values of civilised behaviour, with individuals raised in such emotional and moral chaos that they were incapable even of feeling the empathy with other people that is the very foundation of social relationships of the most basic kind; and that the welfare system was actually incentivising such wholesale destruction of individual lives and society itself.

Then as now, I was scorned and vilified by the `progressive ` intelligentsia. I had become reactionary, right-wing, ultra-right-wing, a harker-back to some mythical golden age of the fifties, a moraliser, an extremist, a bigot, a fascist, demented. Bien-pensant opinion spoke with one voice. Progressive politics meant the freedom to behave exactly as one wished in pursuit of instant gratification, and to destroy all external constraints, both formal and cultural, which got in the way. Anyone who, like me, spoke of the essential civilising force of stigma and shame in providing crucial informal constraints on the infliction of harm was demonised as a throwback to a cruel age of social ostracism. Government policy, egged on by activist judges who deliberately voided family law of `moral judgments' on the basis that that there was no right or wrong in family life because it was always just too complicated to untangle, accordingly penalised marriage, rewarded adultery, further incentivised lone parenthood and systematically normalised irregular relationships.

Wickedly, to cover its tracks that same political/intellectual class stopped breaking down official information about household violence according to married/unmarried status so that it became impossible to show what previously official statistics had clearly demonstrated: that women and children are at vastly greater risk of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of unmarried and unrelated men passing through the household (a recent US study found, children living with a non-biological adult are 50 times more likely to die from afflicted injuries than those living with their biological parents). Indeed, we have now reached the point where official forms increasingly fail to use terms such as `mother and father' or `parents' in favour of the non-discriminatory euphemisms of informal `relationships'. Britain has simply written orderly, married, normative family life out of the script.

I also wrote years ago about the institutionalised incompetence of social work, in the grip of a political correctness so extreme that it was wholly incapable of responding to situations on the facts that plainly presented themselves, with catastrophic results. From the death of Maria Colwell in 1973 inquiry after inquiry has been convened, made recommendations and been ignored as atrocity has followed atrocity on the social workers' watch. Then as now the same excuses were made - that social workers were under-funded, under-resourced, under-trained, under pressure, damned if they did and damned if they didn't, unsung heroes who should not be condemned just because, hey, from time to time a child was sadistically abused or tortured to death on their watch, it was all the fault of government penny-pinching, we're all guilty, etc etc. Then as now I was vilified as a heartless social worker-basher, extreme right-wing lunatic etc etc.

And now we can all see the truly terrible results. This week we have been presented with the life, systematic torture and death of baby P, a case so harrowing that many of us can hardly bear to read the details and cannot do so without weeping. We read that he died at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger. We read that the mother expressed no remorse and boasted she will be free by Christmas. We read that she had another child while she was in jail.

We read that the Director of Children's Services at Haringey council has refused to apologise and insisted that no-one was to blame, despite evidence that social workers ignored doctors and three employees had received written warnings.

We read that four government ministers were warned that Haringey council's child protection service was out of control seven months before baby P's death - by a council whistleblower who was sacked and gagged for issuing this warning and who is prevented by court injunction from giving evidence to the official inquiry into the baby P case.

We read commentators falling over themselves to express horror, shock, revulsion, incredulity, outrage. Where have they all been these past two decades? We read of political point-scoring and righteous indignation at the political point-scoring. Of course the political point scoring is obscene. Of course the book should be thrown at Haringey council.

But we also read this week of another household in Manchester where a baby and his two year-old brother were stabbed to death by a mother suffering from mental illness.

And we read of Shannon Matthews' mother and her boyfriend's uncle, on trial for abducting that poor child and keeping her locked up in order to extract a reward for her safe return.

The truth is that it is all far, far too late. Britain has simply undone the fabric of civilised life. And the most bitter reproach of all must be for the people at whose door the ultimate responsibility for this catastrophic state of affairs must really be laid -- not the wretched politicians, not the council officials or Ofsted inspectors or other negligent or incompetent professionals, not even the sadists who actually killed baby P or who murder or maim countless other children, but the amoral and criminally self-regarding so-called `progressive' intelligentsia, who have bullied, smeared, intimidated and manipulated Britain into a truly dark age of barbarism.


Welcome to MEWorld

By Barry Rubin

MEWorld stands for Middle East world. It is a realm with its own ideas where the scientific laws of the rest of the world might stand but the political and intellectual standards applied elsewhere just don't happen that way.

Let's begin your visit with a very mild example of what happens when tourists encounter MEWorld. Here is a quote from the New York Times of November 12, 2008, chosen pretty much at random. The author is one of the better reporters covering the region; the topic is the Israeli mayor's election in Jerusalem. See if you can spot the problem:

"Palestinians in East Jerusalem have consistently boycotted city elections in the belief that participating would be tantamount to recognizing Israeli sovereignty.'' If you can understand why this sentence is off it is possible that you might comprehend the Middle East.

The assumption in the sentence is that Palestinians are, like the Western readers, people who live in a social and intellectual atmosphere of free will in which individual decisions are made on the basis of rational calculation. The process goes something like this:

Version A: Khalid: "I'm thinking of voting in the election because I want better schools and roads."

Version B: Khalid: "I'm thinking of voting in the election because I want a candidate to win who will be more dovish and will favor giving this part of the city to a Palestinian state as part of a comprehensive two-state solution."

This is the kind of process which a Western reader would expect. It implies massive voluntary action on the basis of choice. After all, the individual "Palestinians" have a "belief."

In practice, the real issue is that before the decision not to vote is made the Palestinians in east Jerusalem are told:

"Anyone who votes is a traitor. If you vote it is against Islam and you are a heretic; it is against our people, and you are a monster. And if you do vote and we find out about it we will boycott your business, shun you personally, and perhaps someone with a big club will smash down your door one night and hit you upside the head until you pass out or die."

In MEWorld, every Palestinian knows this and the message is repeated before each election. Of course, even without threats not all the Palestinian residents would vote but perhaps, 20 or 30 or 40 percent would.

After I wrote this article I came upon Khaled Abu Toameh's piece on the same story in the Jerusalem Post. After making the same point the Times did, he added--which the Times did not mention--the following:

"The PA issued several warnings to the Arab residents not to participate in the election. Issam Abu Rmaileh, a shopkeeper, said he didn't vote because he was afraid that PA activists would harm him. `I heard that they were standing outside the voting centers and threatening people who wanted to come and vote,' he said. `I would have liked to vote because it's in our interest, but who's going to protect me and my family afterwards?'...

"Graffiti painted overnight on the walls also warned the Arabs against participating in the election. The warnings were issued by masked men belonging to various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah."

If you don't understand the reality of dictatorial behavior, threats of violence, and a social pressure that forces conformity, anything else that happens in the region is a mystery to you.

Now you are ready for a more advanced course in MEWorld. Let me stress that the following is not typical but it is revealing. On November 12, 2008, MEMRI published its video clip No. 1903 which you can see here. It is from a television show aired on October 31, 2008. First, I will tell you what it says which is profoundly shocking. But then I will give you seven reasons why it is far more shocking than you thought.

The person being interviewed proposes that Arab men sexually harass Israeli women as a new means of resistance against Israel. "They are fair game for all Arabs," the interviewee explains, because they "rape the land" by their very existence.

Might this cause a legal problem if an Egyptian or Jordanian rapes an Israeli tourist? No problem, the interviewee explains, "Most Arab countries do not have sexual harassment laws. Therefore, if [Arab women] are fair game for Arab men, there is nothing wrong with Israeli women being fair game as well."

If an Israeli woman is threatened, abused, or harassed, she has no right to defend herself. They are merely being given a choice: "Leave the land so we won't rape you."

Now you might say that is pretty shocking. Even in the context of Arab political discussion, the above-quoted position is very different. There are many Arabs who would disagree and even ridicule such an idea.

And yet it still tells us a great deal about mainstream thinking and the weakness of moderation. Consider these points:

* The person saying this, Nagla al-Imam is a woman. She obviously has no idea of women's solidarity. Nationalism and religion come first. Her priority is not to demand stronger laws in her country to protect women but the exploitation of such law's absence to lower the level of treatment for all women. The philosophy is: It doesn't matter if you abuse me if you treat the Israelis even worse. Don't take that idea lightly, it defines how millions of people behave.

* She is a young woman. The optimistic idea that time is inevitably bringing about moderation is just plain wrong. All too often, the younger generation--especially since it is imbued with Islamist ideas and much more intensively propagandized--is more extreme than its parents. I remember here the anecdote, and this is not a joke but a real story, in which a Saudi girl pretended to play Brittany Spears records to appease her wealthy, educated parents but when they weren't around put on radical Islamist diatribes about martyrdom by becoming a suicide bomber.

* She is a secular young woman, obviously not, judging from her rhetoric and clothing, an Islamist or even a traditionalist living in a previous century. Thus, while Islamists are most radical, their basic thinking is often duplicated by Arab nationalists and permeates among the less pious as well.

* She is a lawyer, meaning she has a high level of modern education and intelligence. She is of the middle class at least and not an illiterate peasant or fanatical cleric. While people in the West are still babbling that poverty causes terrorism, the most extreme are often the best-off and most-schooled. Being poor usually requires spending most of your time in the practical pursuit of economic survival. Education does not necessarily mean discovering the wider world and the humanity of the "other." It teaches people to hate systematically and justify their inner beast with an ideological gloss.

* She is from Egypt, not Saudi Arabia. Egypt is a country which has been formally at peace with Israel for almost thirty years and an ally of the United States. Extremism is found in all Arab states. Even the most moderate either refrain from opposing such ideas to avoid confrontation or--more often--actively fomenting them to muster popular support and a blind eye toward their own failings.

* The interview appeared on al-Arabiyya, arguably the most moderate of the main Arab satellite television stations. The opinion spectrum is much skewed to one side. This is clear on al-Jazira television programs where there is a moderate and a radical speaker, followed by phone-ins during which every single caller favors the extremist position and the host insults the moderate to side with the radical guest.

* The interviewer asked reasonable questions but did not seem to find this suggestion shockingly extreme or something that had to be angrily rejected. People are not signaled toward moderation by their political leaders, teachers, clerics, intellectuals, and other authority figures. On the contrary, these are often sources for the most violent, hate-filled, and anti-reality ideas.

Now, if you believe that MEWorld is going to make peace with Israel, love America, and become democratic or moderate in the near-term future--even to please President Barry Obama-- consider the intellectual, political culture, and social atmosphere that breeds Nagla al-Imam as a person who thinks as she does even though she fits the profile of someone who should be, according to the conception of reality held in WestWorld, a booster of the opposite worldview.

The same applies if you think you are going to win over such people and their societies by kind words, apologies, concessions, appeasement, confidence-building measures, or even dramatic policy shifts.


Orwell's Children

It has been sixty years since George Orwell wrote his chilling dystopian classic, 1984, and it has been thirty years since we saw the creepiest example of educated and free people willingly walking into a living dystopia. November 18, 1978, three decades ago, 918 people drank Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. Jim Jones, the communist leader of Jonestown, Guyana, had become "Big Brother." Soviet and Communist Chinese propaganda films and condemnations of capitalist and imperialist America blared continually to the subjects of this island of Leftist Hell.

Jonestown ended in mass suicide, but the real horror was that ordinary people, Americans like you and I, had become so decoupled from reality and morality that they could be led to surrender everything, even their lives, intoxicated only with the venom of modern Leftism. These were Orwell's Children.

We are drifting into the sort of horrific future he described. Too many of us for comfort or solace have become just like the denizens of Jonestown: Orwell's children -- a new generation of creature enraged into constant militancy against eternal enemies, oblivious to the notion of a Blessed Creator, melded into the consciousness of the party hive, divorced from history, hypnotized by images, inoculated against reason, stripped of family, and existing only to serve the cause.

Orwell did not write his book in a vacuum. 1984 describes the Soviet Union (the book describes Stalinist Russia so well so that subjects of that evil empire wondered when Orwell had lived there, though he had just described what he saw from the outside.) 1984 also describes Nazism and every other odious totalitarianism, which its secret police and propaganda machine and atomized subjects. But Orwell was very much also writing about the democratic western nations. His book was a warning of what could happen here. Oceania, the only totalitarian superstate actually descried in 1984, was largely America and the British Empire.

There were specific elements necessary for nations with a heritage of freedom to slide into the most absolute and abject slavery. These elements existed in Nazi Germany, they existed in Soviet Russia, and they exist in our free democracies today. What are the characteristics of the Orwellian state?

Start with God. He must go. The great Russian novelists knew this: "Without God, everything is permitted." In Oceania, God simply does not exist. The Nazis bragged that they would raise a generation "...without ever having heard of the Sermon on the Mount or the Golden Rule, to say nothing of the Ten Commandments." The Soviet persecuted anyone who followed the God of Jews and Christians. God is hounded in our world today. A generation of Orwell's Children are growing up without thinking about God at all or thinking that God is a silly idea cherished by sillier old fogies.

Truth must go too. Nazis embraced the "Big Lie." Soviets denied that honesty, per se, mattered. In Orwell's Oceania, the Inner Party members learn to even lie to themselves and to hold utterly contradictory beliefs at the same time. Truth and honesty have little meaning to Orwell's Children in our world. All truth is relative, all honesty a sham.

Language must be brought to heel. The Nazis did this by inventing meaningless words like "Aryan science." Marxism foisted upon us words like "capitalism," which means nothing at all but which has so infected our minds that we reflexively use this silly nonsense word instead of freedom. Politically correct language is rampant. We come to view words like "discriminate" as inherently evil, and other words like "viable fetal mass" have replaced the reality of murdered babies.

Image and symbols replace words. Hitler, whose disciples seldom recalled what Hitler said, always recalled the raw imagery of their leader. Stalin's portrait was as inescapable in the Soviet Union as the portrait of Big Brother in Oceania. We live in a word of symbols and images. Conservatives succeed in books and talk radio, media that deal in words. Orwell's Children live in the realm of symbols and images.

The books of the Nazis and Soviets were unreadable tomes like Mein Kampf, The Myth of the Twentieth Century (the two Nazi "masterpieces") or vast empty volumes of Marxist-Leninism. Is it an accident that the giant who most resisted this evil, Solzhenitsyn, was a devout Christian who mastered the written word better than any stooge of Hitler or the Politburo ever could?

Immutable oppressors are the final nasty element in dystopia. Hitler blamed Jews for everything. Stalin blamed kulaks and his enemies in the party for everything. Subjects of Orwell's Oceania saw Emmanuel Goldstein as the eternal, immutable enemy of the party. Today there is a drearily predictable list of oppressors. Christians, men, white people, the "rich" (whatever that is supposed to mean), America, and Israel are oppressors and nothing can ever change that.

Orwell even told us, by name, the professionals who would lead us into the nightmare of 1984: "sociologists," "teachers," "bureaucrats," "journalists," "professional politicians," "scientists," "trade union organizers," "publicity experts," and "technicians." (The term "community organizer" was unknown to him.) Those who enslave were those who taught students, who created the news, who sat in the halls of government power, and who defined official "truth" (at least truth de jour.)

Orwell's Children live among us now, not in tiny numbers in weird Marxist cults like Jim Jones' People Temple, but as leaders of Congress, as the establishment of academia, as the producers of news and entertainment, as the administrators of public schools, as the "experts" in a thousand myriad and odd fields of putative "expertise." They infatuate our bored children with the only reality and the only diversion that many can find. They wait for the rest of us to grow older and to die.

Will these children inherit the earth? History, not theology, has shown a single defense against the spreading contagion of Orwell's Children. Solzhenitsyn found God in the godless Gulag. Michael Power in early 1939 wrote: "In the Christianity of the German people, the National Socialist has found the one enemy it could not vanquish" - and Christians in Germany, alone, chose to voluntarily seek death before selling their souls to Nazism.

The Jewish refusniks proved indigestible to the brutal Soviet police state. When all else failed the Jewish people under the Nazis, devout Jews like my wife's mother clung to the Blessed Creator and survived the Holocaust. God can touch us all. God can protect us all from evil (not from harm - we all suffer and we all die - but from the much greater danger of the sort of evil Orwell described.)

Education, science, technological gadgetry, good medical care - all of this can not stop us from sliding into a massive Jonestown, a realized Oceania, a place marked by Dante's grim caution "Abandon hope, all you who enter here." We are all anchored in belief, but it is what we believe that matters. We can believe in the lies of Big Brother, which change each day with the needs of the party or we can believe in the truth of a living God. We can become the children of Orwell or the special creatures of God. Everything -- our nation, our world, our families, our communities -- flow from that choice.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

British father arrested and locked in a cell for smacking son

The same police often fail to attend burglary scenes and refuse to respond to complaints about youth gang activity

Mark Frearson said he told off his son Harry because the seven-year-old walked off alone after dark while they were out shopping. Three hours later four police officers and a specialist child support officer arrived at his house, took Harry away in a police car, arrested Mr Frearson on suspicion of assault and locked him in a cell. After about an hour he said officers told him they could not carry out an interview as the witness "was not in a condition to give a statement".

Mr Frearson, a director at a parcel company, had to spend the night in the cell and was released the next day at 10am after the witness was interviewed and withdrew their accusation. The 47-year-old has made a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the ordeal.

He said the police reaction was "massively over-the-top" and the experience was traumatic for his son. Mr Frearson, from Plymouth, Devon, said: "I find it shocking how easy it is to have someone arrested. To think that all this happened on the back of one allegation. "I appreciate the police's concern but even if they felt they had to take Harry away I don't understand why they felt it necessary to arrest me and lock me up before interviewing me or the witness. "I want an apology, I wasn't given any after being released without charge and I am still angry and bewildered at the events of that night."

Mr Frearson said the incident happened last Tuesday at around 6pm. He said it was dark and he told Harry to stay with him. When he realised he had left the shop there was a ten minute search and he was found outside in a nearby park. He said he smacked Harry once on the back of his leg and the two returned home.

At around 9pm police arrived saying a witness had reported Mr Frearson for "assault". The officers then took Harry back to his mother's and Mr Frearson was arrested and taken to the police station. He said: "They never even interviewed me, all they did was ask a couple of questions at the house. "My ex-wife Kate also told them the accusation was ridiculous. "There were about 20 people around at the time I told Harry off and CCTV but they still locked me up."

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said as a formal complaint had been made they could not comment on the incident.


Professor Hired for Outreach to Muslims Delivers a Jolt

Islamic Theologian's Theory: It's Likely the Prophet Muhammad Never Existed

Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert and Germany's first professor of Islamic theology, fasts during the Muslim holy month, doesn't like to shake hands with Muslim women and has spent years studying Islamic scripture. Islam, he says, guides his life. So it came as something of a surprise when Prof. Kalisch announced the fruit of his theological research. His conclusion: The Prophet Muhammad probably never existed.

Muslims, not surprisingly, are outraged. Even Danish cartoonists who triggered global protests a couple of years ago didn't portray the Prophet as fictional. German police, worried about a violent backlash, told the professor to move his religious-studies center to more-secure premises. "We had no idea he would have ideas like this," says Thomas Bauer, a fellow academic at M_nster University who sat on a committee that appointed Prof. Kalisch. "I'm a more orthodox Muslim than he is, and I'm not a Muslim."

When Prof. Kalisch took up his theology chair four years ago, he was seen as proof that modern Western scholarship and Islamic ways can mingle -- and counter the influence of radical preachers in Germany. He was put in charge of a new program at Muenster, one of Germany's oldest and most respected universities, to train teachers in state schools to teach Muslim pupils about their faith.

Muslim leaders cheered and joined an advisory board at his Center for Religious Studies. Politicians hailed the appointment as a sign of Germany's readiness to absorb some three million Muslims into mainstream society. But, says Andreas Pinkwart, a minister responsible for higher education in this north German region, "the results are disappointing."

Prof. Kalisch, who insists he's still a Muslim, says he knew he would get in trouble but wanted to subject Islam to the same scrutiny as Christianity and Judaism. German scholars of the 19th century, he notes, were among the first to raise questions about the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Many scholars of Islam question the accuracy of ancient sources on Muhammad's life. The earliest biography, of which no copies survive, dated from roughly a century after the generally accepted year of his death, 632, and is known only by references to it in much later texts. But only a few scholars have doubted Muhammad's existence. Most say his life is better documented than that of Jesus. "Of course Muhammad existed," says Tilman Nagel, a scholar in G"ttingen and author of a new book, "Muhammad: Life and Legend." The Prophet differed from the flawless figure of Islamic tradition, Prof. Nagel says, but "it is quite astonishing to say that thousands and thousands of pages about him were all forged" and there was no such person.

All the same, Prof. Nagel has signed a petition in support of Prof. Kalisch, who has faced blistering criticism from Muslim groups and some secular German academics. "We are in Europe," Prof. Nagel says. "Education is about thinking, not just learning by heart."

Prof. Kalisch's religious studies center recently removed a sign and erased its address from its Web site. The professor, a burly 42-year-old, says he has received no specific threats but has been denounced as apostate, a capital offense in some readings of Islam. "Maybe people are speculating that some idiot will come and cut off my head," he said during an interview in his study. A few minutes later, an assistant arrived in a panic to say a suspicious-looking digital clock had been found lying in the hallway. Police, called to the scene, declared the clock harmless.

A convert to Islam at age 15, Prof. Kalisch says he was drawn to the faith because it seemed more rational than others. He embraced a branch of Shiite Islam noted for its skeptical bent. After working briefly as a lawyer, he began work in 2001 on a postdoctoral thesis in Islamic law in Hamburg, to go through the elaborate process required to become a professor in Germany.

The Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. that year appalled Mr. Kalisch but didn't dent his devotion. Indeed, after he arrived at Muenster University in 2004, he struck some as too conservative. Sami Alrabaa, a scholar at a nearby college, recalls attending a lecture by Prof. Kalisch and being upset by his doctrinaire defense of Islamic law, known as Sharia.

In private, he was moving in a different direction. He devoured works questioning the existence of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Then "I said to myself: You've dealt with Christianity and Judaism but what about your own religion? Can you take it for granted that Muhammad existed?" He had no doubts at first, but slowly they emerged. He was struck, he says, by the fact that the first coins bearing Muhammad's name did not appear until the late 7th century -- six decades after the religion did.

He traded ideas with some scholars in Saarbruecken who in recent years have been pushing the idea of Muhammad's nonexistence. They claim that "Muhammad" wasn't the name of a person but a title, and that Islam began as a Christian heresy. Prof. Kalisch didn't buy all of this. Contributing last year to a book on Islam, he weighed the odds and called Muhammad's existence "more probable than not." By early this year, though, his thinking had shifted. "The more I read, the historical person at the root of the whole thing became more and more improbable," he says. He has doubts, too, about the Quran. "God doesn't write books," Prof. Kalisch says.

Some of his students voiced alarm at the direction of his teaching. "I began to wonder if he would one day say he doesn't exist himself," says one. A few boycotted his lectures. Others sang his praises. Prof. Kalisch says he "never told students 'just believe what Kalisch thinks' " but seeks to teach them to think independently. Religions, he says, are "crutches" that help believers get to "the spiritual truth behind them." To him, what matters isn't whether Muhammad actually lived but the philosophy presented in his name.

This summer, the dispute hit the headlines. A Turkish-language German newspaper reported on it with gusto. Media in the Muslim world picked up on it. Germany's Muslim Coordinating Council withdrew from the advisory board of Prof. Kalisch's center. Some Council members refused to address him by his adopted Muslim name, Muhammad, saying that he should now be known as Sven.

German academics split. Michael Marx, a Quran scholar at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, warned that Prof. Kalisch's views would discredit German scholarship and make it difficult for German scholars to work in Muslim lands. But Ursula Spuler-Stegemann, an Islamic studies scholar at the University of Marburg, set up a Web site called solidaritymuhammadkalisch.com and started an online petition of support.

Alarmed that a pioneering effort at Muslim outreach was only stoking antagonism, M_nster University decided to douse the flames. Prof. Kalisch was told he could keep his professorship but must stop teaching Islam to future school teachers. The professor says he's more determined than ever to keep probing his faith. He is finishing a book to explain his thoughts. It's in English instead of German because he wants to make a bigger impact. "I'm convinced that what I'm doing is necessary. There must be a free discussion of Islam," he says.


Below is an introduction to an article in German by Muhammad Kalisch (See above)

Up to some time ago I was convinced that Muhammad was a historical figure. Although I always based my thinking on the assumption that the Islamic historical narrative regarding Muhammad was very unreliable, I had no doubts that at least the basic lines of his biography were historically correct. I have now moved away from this position and will soon publish a book in which I will, among other things, comment on this question and explain my arguments in more detail. This essay is only a short summary of my most important arguments. It also deals with the question of what implications historical-critical research has for the Islamic theory and how I deal with my research results as a theologian.

With regard to the historical existence of Muhammad ... I consider my position simply as a continuation of the most recent research results. It appears so spectacular only because it has been said by a Muslim ... Most Western scientists turn down such an hypotheses out of respect for Islam or because they are afraid of the reactions of their Muslim friends or because they think it is speculative nonsense. The word "respect" sounds wonderful but it is completely inappropriate here because one really refers to the opposite. Whoever thinks that Muslims can't deal with facts puts Muslims on the same level as small children who can't think and decide for themselves and whose illusions of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny one doesn't want to destroy.

Whoever really bases his thoughts on the equality of all human beings must expect the same intellectual performance. Really treating Muslims with respect would imply that they are strong enough to deal with their religion on the basis of our modern level of knowledge. "Islamophobes" think we Muslims are barbarians, the "kind-hearted" take us for "noble savages"... The result is the same: Muslims are seen as different from the rest of the world -- they either belong in a "petting zoo" or in cages for wild animals, but by all means they belong in a zoo.

The final argument is even more awful because it can only be described as cowardly. Religious fundamentalists are spreading out (not only Islamic fundamentalist) and freedom of thought must be defended no matter what. There must not be any compromise on this otherwise we set the track for a retreat into the Middle Ages and this can happen much faster than many people think.

My position with regard to the historical existence of Muhammad is that I believe neither his existence nor his non-existence can be proven. I, however, lean towards the non-existence but I don't think it can be proven. It is my impression that, unless there are some sensational archeological discoveries -- an Islamic "Qumran" or "Nag Hammadi" -- the question of Muhammad's existence will probably never be finally clarified.



By Jeff Jacoby

It has been widely noted that black voters put California's Proposition 8 over the top last week, with nearly 7 out of 10 voting in favor of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. As the magnitude of black opposition to same-sex marriage became clear on Election Day, blogger Andrew Sullivan, a prominent gay-marriage champion, reacted bitterly:

"Every ethnic group supported marriage equality," he wrote, "except African-Americans, who voted overwhelmingly against extending to gay people the civil rights once denied them."

Well, let's see. The civil rights once denied to black Americans included the right to register as a voter, the right to cast a ballot, the right to use numerous public facilities, the right to get a fair hearing in court, the right to send their children to an integrated public school, and the right to equal opportunity in housing and employment. Have gay people been denied any of these rights? Have they been forced to sit in the back of buses? Confined to segregated neighborhoods? Barred from serving on juries? Subjected to systematic economic exploitation?

Plainly, declining to change the timeless definition of marriage deprives no one of "the civil rights once denied" to blacks, and it is an absurdity to claim otherwise. It is also a poisonous slur: For if opposing same-sex marriage is like opposing civil rights, then voters who backed Proposition 8 are no better than racists, the moral equivalent of those who turned the fire hoses on blacks in Birmingham in 1963. Which is, of course, exactly what proponents of same-sex marriage contend.

It has become routine for the defenders of traditional wedlock to be cast as the worst sort of hateful bigots, "gladly donning the roles played by Lester Maddox and George Wallace in the civil rights era," to quote The New York Times's Frank Rich. Anyone who insists that marriage can only mean the union of male and female -- and "anyone" now includes a majority of voters in 30 of the 30 states where marriage amendments have been on the ballot -- can expect to be told that they are no better than racists, modern-day segregationists motivated by malevolence and an evil heart.

Thus, supporters of same-sex marriage regularly referred to the California ballot measure as "Proposition Hate," while a group calling itself "Californians Against Hate" launched a website to publicize the names and addresses of donors to the Yes-on-8 campaign. Yet it was the foes of Proposition 8 whose hatred and intolerance were most vividly on display. Signs promoting the amendment were stolen or defaced, churches were vandalized, and at least one supporter of the amendment ended up in the hospital after being beaten by an assailant screaming: "What do you have against gays?"

For sheer hatefulness and bigotry, however, nothing surpassed the anti-Proposition 8 television ad that depicted two Mormon missionaries forcing their way into the home of a married lesbian couple. "Hi, we're here from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," one of the Mormons says. "We're here to take away your rights," says the other. The missionaries pull the wedding rings from the women's fingers, then proceed to ransack the house, looking for their marriage license. When they find it, they triumphantly tear it up. "Hey, we have rights," one of the women protests. "Not if we can help it," one of the missionaries smugly replies. As the commercial ends, a message appears on the screen: "Say NO to a church taking over your government."

If black voters overwhelmingly reject the claim that marriage amendments like Proposition 8 are nothing more than bigotry-fueled assaults on civil rights, perhaps it is because they know only too well what real bigotry looks like. Perhaps it is because they resent the assertion that adhering to the ageless meaning of marriage is tantamount to supporting the pervasive humiliation and cruelty of Jim Crow. Perhaps it is because they are not impressed by strident condemnations of "intolerance" and "hate" by people who traffic in rank anti-Mormon hatemongering.

Or perhaps it is because they understand that a fundamental gulf separates the civil rights movement from the demand for same-sex marriage. One was a fight for genuine equality, for the right of black Americans to live on the same terms, and under the same restrictions, as whites. The other is a demand to change the terms on which marriage has always been available by giving it a meaning it has never before had. That isn't civil rights -- and playing the race card doesn't change that fact.


BBC rapped by its own watchdog over 'biased' Thatcher show

The BBC broke impartiality rules in a Hugh Edwards-fronted documentary about Welsh politics that attacked Margaret Thatcher. The broadcaster's own governing body today found it guilty of being unfair and inaccurate in the programme. The ruling came about after an incensed viewer complained about the unbalanced and misleading programme on Welsh self-government.

The complainant said the programme gave an `erroneous' impression that former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher had `caused riots in Wales'. The viewer spotted that the BBC misleadingly inserted footage of miner's strike violence from England and implied it was happening from Wales.

Today the BBC Trust, which regulates the corporation, admitted the unlabelled footage had broken accuracy guidelines. Huw Edwards, who fronts the Ten O'Clock News, was accused of `openly canvassing support' for the Welsh Assembly and was also found to have broken rules. He suggested on the programme that for the Assembly `to achieve its full potential it needs even greater support for the people of Wales than it's received so far', adding: `The more people that take part, the stronger and healthier our democracy in Wales will be.'

The corporation's governing body backed up an earlier ruling that his words were not objective and even-handed on the subject. Its Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) confirmed it was not his role to `encourage audiences to exercise their right to vote on particular occasions.'

The programme called `Wales: Power And The People - Back To The Future' had looked at Margaret Thatcher's impact on Welsh democracy. It had originally been broadcast before the May 2007 Welsh Assembly elections before being repeated on BBC2 Wales on July 23 last year.

This is just the latest example of perceived bias by the BBC against Margaret Thatcher. Last year a leading left-wing playwright claimed he was asked to criticise Baroness Thatcher for her pre-prepared BBC obituary. Sir David Hare, author of Via Dolorosa and Stuff Happens, said he was approached to provide `balance' to the pre-recorded programme. He refused, saying that he would not criticise a former Prime Minister on the night of their death.

In the latest complaint the BBC was accused of portraying Thatcher and her Government in a `biased' manner', including its selection of speakers. The viewer said the programme favoured the Welsh Assembly and the Left, and made a `concerted and continual attack' on Thatcher and the right. They said Huw Edwards presented the show as if he was `on the winning side' and claimed he treated the final scenes as a `political broadcast' for the Welsh Assembly.

The BBC originally responded saying that Edwards had given an independent and objective interpretation of historical and political events. But the complainant wrote to the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), which partially upheld some of the issues raised. It had found the programme should have ensured greater balance, as Conservatives were seen in an `unnecessarily negative light'.

Unhappy with the first ruling the complainant appealed to the ESC, which is part of the BBC Trust. This endorsed the earlier findings, but also found that the inserted footage had been wrong too. It said use of archive footage from England in a programme mainly about Mrs Thatcher and the Welsh breached accuracy guidelines on the use of library material. The material was shot in Orgreave in 1984 when National Union of Mineworkers pickets were trying to stop coalworkers entering power stations.

The Committee found the commentary during the section was not explicit in referring to the UK as a whole and the audience might assume the footage related to Welsh events. But the ESC It said it was generally satisfied with the presentation of the facts and believed the statements about Mrs Thatcher were not inaccurate - but that they were highly contentious. The ESC said: `[The committee] considered programme four was not fair and open minded when examining the evidence and weighing all the material facts, nor was it objective and even handed in its approach to the subject of Mrs Thatcher's impact upon the evolutionary democracy in Wales.'

The earlier report had noted: `A number of contributors expressed themselves in terms which were explicitly or implicitly critical of the Thatcher Government, while only one (Lord Peter Walker) could be regarded as speaking favourably about Mrs Thatcher or her approach to Wales.'



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Radical Homosexuals Trample a Cross, Harass a Granny, Crash a Church, and Threaten Joe the Plumber's Life

Can you imagine what would happen if a gang of angry male Christian activists started shouting down and shoving around some nice old lesbian during a religious rally right after ripping her rainbow pride flag from her hands and waffle stomping it? How much television coverage do you think that spat of stupidity would spawn? What kind of outrage do you think the gays would gin up over such an inexcusable and pathetic act?

I'll tell you what would happen: We would see an irate Elton John hold a special Candle in the Wind concert on the old lesbian's behalf, Lance Bass would host a telethon, Ellen would weep, Brad and Angelina would adopt another baby and Rosie would shave the right side of her head again and again until justice was served and those chunks of corn were convicted and sent to prison. You and I both know we'd never hear the end of it, and you know what? We shouldn't because that kind stupid, out-of-whack bullying is bull.

What about this scenario? Say some dyed-in-the-wool, belligerent backwoods snake handlers sporting crosses, vicious anti-gay fliers and blarin' Dueling Banjos on a boom box infiltrated a gay soiree, disrupted the event, disbursed their literature into the crowd, performed some hetero sex acts and then threatened those in attendance? Do you think the gay bloggers would blog it and the MSM report on it and both sectors call for the rednecks' necks? Fo' shizzle my nizzle they would.

Indulge me one more scenario: Would it be cool if a conservative Christian talk show host called for the death of some gay dude named Joe who simply campaigned for a month for president elect Barack Obama? Would that be cool? You and I both know the answer to that question would be "H" to the no-it would not be cool. That guy would be Imus'ed so fast his head would spin. His days of talk radio would be over.

The above three supposed scenes would be publically condemned, the perps would be captured, convicted and imprisoned, their names would become proverbs for our populace, and the nation would be put on notice that if Christians take their disagreements with homosexuality to belligerent, disruptive and life-threatening levels that their butts will be imprisoned.

It seems as of late, however, that gays can do the above junk to Christians and get a pass from certain cops and the mainstream media. Yep, just this past week a 69-year-old woman carried a Styrofoam cross in support of traditional marriage into a pro-gay marriage march in Palm Springs and within seconds had the cross ripped from her hands and stomped on, and then the homosexuals began to shove her around and curse her out. You can watch it on YouTube here. If Christians would have done that to an old gay lady they would be currently in the Palm Springs pokey waiting to make bail. No arrests were made. Can you say, double standard? I knew you could.

From that crap we move to Lansing, Michigan and last Sunday's protest inside the Mount Hope Church by the rabid gay group Bash Back. These winners entered the church along with worshippers and surprised the congregation when they stood up during the service, threw fliers and condoms at the congregants, pulled the fire alarm, made out in front of the church by the pulpit and shouted slogans such as "Jesus was a homo." No arrests were made.

In light of this Mount Hope Church event I've spoken to several pastors across the nation who have wisely beefed up their security in case the protests/threats turn violent. Matter of fact, if I was a radical gay activist I would really think twice about barnstorming churches and threatening their members.

Then we come to one Charles Bouley, queer activist and talk show host on San Francisco's (where else) station KGO who on November 1st angrily said on the air that Joe the Plumber was a "G** D*** M-F'er" that he wanted dead! At least he got fired this past week. However, I'm sure he's inking a contract right now for a gig on a new station to keep hate alive. Again, if homosexuals got the above from Christians the media and the cops would be on them like a duck on a June bug.

My advice to the MSM is this: If I were you, I'd cover it and condemn what the gays are doing to Christians and their Churches or it's going to get worse-way worse. And lastly to the radical gay guys, do you really believe that this kind of belligerent behavior is going to make Americans capitulate to your cause? Who came up with this strategy? Was it the same guys who thought that Clear Pepsi would be a real winner?


British boys' club threatened with funding axe unless it accepts girls and changes name

For 114 years, the Broad Plain Boys' Club has been keeping youngsters occupied and out of trouble. Its leaders run sports sessions for boys aged between seven and 25 to improve self-discipline and confidence - and twice a week girls are welcomed too. But it seems that for officials at the town hall, that's not good enough. So they have told its leaders that they must change it to something more politically correct, such as the Working With Young People Club, and invite more girls in - or face losing the 11,600 pounds-a-year funding.

Dennis Stinchcombe, who has been in charge of the club, in Easton, Bristol, for 33 years, said the decision could force the club to close. 'They want us to drop the name Broad Plain Boys' Club, no matter that we have had that name for more than 100 years', he said. 'It will cost thousands to change the name. We would have to get new letterheads and change all the equipment with the name on it.

Although the council is happy to fund women's groups, they believe a boys' club is just too exclusive.

'It has been made clear that we have to make changes to stand a chance of continued funding. 'The local authority feels we don't give enough club time to girls.' To devote more time to girls, the club would need to take on a female leader as well, said Mr Stinchcombe, who was awarded an MBE for his community work. But he added: 'They will not pay us anything to give more time to girls.'

Bristol City Council provides 30,494 a year to a Chinese women's group and 10,984 to a Pakistani welfare community aimed only at women. However, it insists that the boys' club should cater equally for girls.

The club has helped thousands of youngsters since it was founded in 1894. The council funding pays for two staff to work alongside volunteers. Most of the members are boys - using the club four nights a week for sports including football, basketball and boxing. On a Thursday, there is a mixed evening - and a university's female boxing team also train with the boys on a Tuesday night.

The council said: 'We're having productive discussions with the club about providing a service that will equally benefit girls as well as boys and ensuring that their name reflects the service they offer.' But Richard Eddy, leader of the city's Conservative Party group, said: 'It would be a disgrace if funding for this wonderful group was taken away because of some misplaced sense of political correctness.'


British children's coin throwing tradition to be scrapped over health and safety

Dignitaries such as the town mayor throw the two-pence pieces at the opening of St Ives Michaelmas Fair, which is held every October in Cambridgeshire. But an officer from St Ives Town Council has now recommended in a report that the coins should no longer be thrown and should instead be rolled to children instead.

Town mayor, Cllr Ian Dobson said he hoped common sense would prevail - and the annual pre-war ritual allowed to carry on. Cllr Dobson said: "I believe the risk can be managed quite well if everybody is aware of the problems". Asked if he thought the threat to the historic practice was health and safety gone mad, he replied: "I think the ideas were well-intentioned but I couldn't possibly comment any further than that."

Cllr Dobson said there had been a "well-intentioned" proposal to carry out a risk assessment by a new councillor back in May. The study was initially ordered to consider the danger involved in the mayor wearing his ceremonial robes on the dodgems during the fair's opening ceremony. But the council officer in charge also bizarrely decided there was a huge risk involved to kids in throwing the pennies.

Cllr Dobson said: "The town hall staff have certainly done a comprehensive job. "Concerns were raised about throwing the newly-minted two-pence coins for the children to gather up and the report says we should distribute them a bit more gently." He added: "It was a well-intentioned suggestion that the council should consider carrying out a risk assessment. "Gowns have always been worn on the dodgems but the thought was that the robes could get caught up if they weren't properly tucked in."

The controversial report was to be debated by councillors at a meeting of the full town council tonight. St Ives town clerk Alison Melnyczuk said: "Obviously the council has to be aware of its obligations in terms of everything it does, in particular the need to carry out risk assessments on all of its functions. "With regards to the Michaelmas fair, I think it will carry on as it has done for many years. "One of the hazards that was identified in the risk assessment was "flying objects" and we have reminded our members that it is perhaps best to drop the coins and roll them, rather than throw them."

St Ives Michaelmas fair was started in the 1920s as a response to the neighbouring high-profile Cambridge Midsummer Fair. Bob Burn-Murdoch, curator of the Norris Museum in St Ives, said: "The Michaelmas fair as we know it now began in the 1920s. "St Ives stole the idea from the opening of the Cambridge Midsummer Fair. "St Ives simply wanted to compete, so they copied the charter that was read out in Cambridge. "The tradition of throwing the pennies was taken from Cambridge too. They did it deliberately to make the fair look older than it actually is." He added: "In the 1940s, when the dignitaries were throwing the pennies, they hit someone in their glass eye and smashed it to pieces. . "So perhaps there is good reason for the council's concern."


'Why Believe in a God?' Ad Campaign Launches on D.C. Buses

You better watch out. There is a new combatant in the Christmas wars. Ads proclaiming, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," will appear on Washington, D.C., buses starting next week and running through December. The American Humanist Association unveiled the provocative $40,000 holiday ad campaign Tuesday. In lifting lyrics from "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," the Washington-based group is wading into what has become a perennial debate over commercialism, religion in the public square and the meaning of Christmas.

"We are trying to reach our audience, and sometimes in order to reach an audience, everybody has to hear you," said Fred Edwords, spokesman for the humanist group. "Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion." To that end, the ads and posters will include a link to a Web site that will seek to connect and organize like-minded thinkers in the D.C. area, Edwords said.

Edwords said the purpose isn't to argue that God doesn't exist or change minds about a deity, although "we are trying to plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking and questioning in people's minds." The group defines humanism as "a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity." Last month, the British Humanist Association caused a ruckus announcing a similar campaign on London buses with the message: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

In Washington, the humanists' campaign comes as conservative Christian groups gear up their efforts to keep Christ in Christmas. In the past five years, groups such as the American Family Association and the Catholic League have criticized or threatened boycotts of retailers who use generic "holiday" greetings. In mid-October, the American Family Association started selling buttons that say "It's OK to say Merry Christmas." The humanists' entry into the marketplace of ideas did not impress AFA president Tim Wildmon. "It's a stupid ad," he said. "How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world."

Also on Tuesday, the Orlando, Fla.-based Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian legal group, launched its sixth annual "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." Liberty Counsel has intervened in disputes over nativity scenes and government bans on Christmas decorations, among other things. "It's the ultimate grinch to say there is no God at a time when millions of people around the world celebrate the birth of Christ," said Mathew Staver, the group's chairman and dean of the Liberty University School of Law. "Certainly, they have the right to believe what they want but this is insulting."

Best-selling books by authors such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have fueled interest in "the new atheism" - a more in-your-face argument against God's existence. Yet few Americans describe themselves as atheist or agnostic; a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll from earlier this year found 92 percent of Americans believe in God.

There was no debate at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority over whether to take the ad. Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said the agency accepts ads that aren't obscene or pornographic.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, November 17, 2008

Serious violent crime is going up NOT down in Britain

Despite frequent government claims to the contrary. Under the Left, British government statistics are about as trustworthy as Stalin's

The head of the Home Office has admitted in a leaked document that the Government has failed to reduce serious violent crime over the past decade. In a paper marked `Restricted Policy', Sir David Normington, the Department's top civil servant, admits that under Labour the levels of the most violent crimes such as murder, serious assaults and rape are higher than they were in 1997. The admission by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's most senior Civil Service adviser appears to be at odds with claims by Ministers that levels of violent crime have fallen since Labour came to power.

The Home Office admitted last night that its own figures showed there were 14,000 serious violent offences in 1997-98 and 16,000 in 2007-08. Sir David's 101-page document, sent to new Home Office Ministers appointed in Gordon Brown's reshuffle last month, says that because police forces were given incentives to concentrate on less serious offences in order to improve crime figures, they were less able to tackle the more violent incidents. Sir David discloses that because the most serious violent crimes have not been reduced, the Government's long- term strategy will now concentrate on these rather than less serious ones.

In July, Jacqui Smith twice used the British Crime Survey, based on surveys of thousands of members of the public, rather than crimes recorded by the police, to claim all types of violent crime had fallen substantially since 1997. In response to the July 2008 crime figures, she said on the Home Office website: `Since 1997, crime measured by the British Crime Survey has fallen by 39 per cent with violence down by 40 per cent and burglary down by over half (55 per cent).' And on July 17 she repeated her claim that violence had dropped by 40 per cent since 1997, `with a 12 per cent fall in the last year alone'.

But in his document Sir David writes: `In view of the fact that more serious violence has not reduced in the way that we would have wanted in recent years, and that these offences cause the most harm to individual victims and to society as a whole, our long-term strategy on violence focuses on seriousness. This includes homicides, serious wounding and serious sexual offences such as rape. `Recorded crime statistics do indicate that despite recent falls, the levels of the most serious violence are higher than they were ten years ago.'

The document also reveals that more than 50 per cent of people surveyed by the Home Office are still not confident that the criminal justice system is effective in bringing offenders to justice.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said last night: `This document is a shocking admission that Labour's crime reduction policy has focused on chasing petty incidents in order to spin crime statistics. Jacqui Smith's claim that violent crime is down has been dealt a fatal blow.'

A Home Office spokeswoman said: `The most recent statistics show that recorded crime has fallen by six per cent in the last year. The chance of being a victim of crime is at its lowest level ever. `But we know there is more work to do with particular crime types, and in particular areas. Reducing serious violence will always be a priority.'


Liberal Censorship and Its Roots

The most unnerving aspects about the Democrats' sweeping victory Nov. 4 are their intolerance for dissent and their willingness to censor and otherwise suppress their opponents. Consider:

We keep hearing that Sarah Palin's criticism of Obama for "palling around with terrorists" increased death threats against him, which is bogus in the extreme but consistent with the inveterate liberal tactic of chilling conservative speech by saying it incites violence.

Ohio state employee Vanessa Niekamp said she was ordered to run a child-support check on Joe the Plumber, the man who asked Barack Obama an innocuous question about redistributing taxpayer income. Niekamp doesn't remember ever having checked into anyone else without having a legitimate reason to do so, such as discovering that someone recently came into money.

Democratic prosecutors in St. Louis threatened criminal prosecution against candidate Obama's critics. In Pennsylvania, lawyers for Obama wrote intimidating letters to TV and radio stations that aired unflattering ads documenting Obama's anti-gun record. The Obama campaign complained to the Department of Justice about the American Issues Project's ad tying Obama to William Ayers. Obama supporters flooded Chicago radio station WGN with harassing calls during its interviews of conservative writers investigating Obama.

On election night, Philadelphia police arrested a man who dared to wear a McCain-Palin '08 T-shirt at an Obama celebration rally. What's scarier is that the Obama crowd reportedly chanted with joy as cops arrested the man for exercising his freedom of political expression. According to the liberal worldview, arresting someone for disagreeing with you is not censorship, but implying someone is not patriotic is.

Obama has made no secret of his plan to pass "card-check" legislation, which some have described as the most radical revision of labor law since 1935. It would permit unions to eliminate secret ballots -- against the wishes of 78 percent of union members -- which would represent a radical blow to democratic principles.

Democrats fully intend to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, a euphemistically named regulation aimed at shutting down conservative talk radio, which Sen. Chuck Schumer has compared to pornography. Remember that conservatives have never advocated government action to suppress or censor the liberal media monopoly, which has existed for decades and still dominates mainstream media today. Their answer was the alternative media.

But what is even more frightening than the sinister schemes of liberal politicians to silence and criminalize political opposition is the apparent eagerness of rank-and-file liberals to go along with them, as witnessed by the many examples I've cited and numerous gleeful e-mails I get taunting me about the imminent re-invocation of the Fairness Doctrine.

I believe this arrogant attitude can largely be traced to the top-down indoctrination in our schools, cultural institutions and media that liberalism is morally superior because it is tolerant, diverse, intellectual and enlightened. This view holds that conservative expression doesn't deserve constitutional protection because it is inherently evil. As one liberal academic administrator said in justifying his Draconian action in suppressing a Christian viewpoint, "We cannot tolerate the intolerable."

This self-blinding, superior mindset explains how liberals can accuse conservatives of racism for their legitimate political differences with Barack Obama while demeaning, with racist epithets, Condoleezza Rice or Clarence Thomas. It's how they can mock conservatives for being close-minded while unilaterally declaring the end to the debate on global warming because of a mythical consensus they have decreed. It's how they can demand every vote count and exclude military ballots. It's how they can glamorize Jimmy Carter for gallivanting to foreign countries to supervise "fair elections" and pooh-pooh ACORN's serial voter fraud in their own country. It's how they can threaten the tax-exempt status of evangelical churches for preaching on values, even when the churches don't endorse candidates, but fully support a liberal church's direct electioneering for specific candidates. It's how they can ludicrously depict President Bush as a dictator while romanticizing brute thug tyrants Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. It's how they can falsely accuse President Bush of targeting innocent civilians in Iraq when he does everything possible to avoid civilian casualties but demand our withdrawal from South Vietnam, which resulted in the massacre of millions of innocents. It's how they can advocate the banning of DDT in the name of environmental progress but be unconcerned about the untold malaria deaths that resulted. It's how they can oppose the death penalty for the guilty but protect the death penalty for the innocent unborn.

If you believe the left is tolerant, open-minded and democratic, you're in for a rude awakening


Leftists frantic to keep British National Party head out of Australia

Leftists use words for their emotional impact rather than their simple meaning so it is entirely expected that the proposed visit of Nick Griffin to Australia is being opposed on the Left by calling him a "Fascist". See below. The amusing thing is that, probably unknown to them, they are absolutely correct. The BNP has lots of policies that sit comfortably on the Left, just as the prewar Fascists did. Like the Left from at least Karl Marx on, the BNP and all the Fascists of history want the government to control large swathes of what people do. So the only real beef that the Left have with the BNP is its patriotism. The BNP is not even nationalistic. Far from wanting to embroil Bitain in more wars, it claims that Britain embroils itself in too many wars. Its only distinctive policy is its wish to reduce the immigrant proportion of the British population and that view is now so widely held in Britain that even the British Labour party is now clamping down (in appearance anyway) on immigration.

After all the name-calling, however, the idea that the Cambridge-educated chief of a legal and influential British political party should be kept out while disgusting creatures like American "rappers" are allowed in, is quite absurd. It is certainly an attack on free speech but what Leftist ever cared about free speech? Free speech only for themselves and those they approve of is their definition of free speech. It is true that Griffin has expressed doubts about the Holocaust but even many Jewish writers have opposed attempts to suppress such views, on the grounds that suppression efforts tend to give such views enhanced credibility. Even the article below probably does that

Denying a visa to British fascist leader Nick Griffin, who has a conviction for inciting racial hatred, will only increase the likelihood of Cronulla-style racial conflict, his supporters say. Mr Griffin, head of the far-right-wing British National Party, has applied to visit Australia to tackle the issue of "the demographic genocide . caused by large-scale immigration of people from the Third World". Darrin Hodges, the NSW head of the extreme Australian Protection Party, which is backing his visit, said: "Having a full and frank debate was more helpful than not . and suppressing the debate leads to events like Cronulla." He said Mr Griffin would speak at private forums in Sydney and Melbourne.

However, Jewish lobby groups opposed to the December speaking tour by Mr Griffin - a Holocaust denier with long-standing links to far-right-wing groups throughout Europe - believe the free speech argument has to be balanced against the harm done to local communities. British anti-fascist activists who track his movements say Mr Griffin and the BNP have a history of fomenting racial hatred in Britain. "Australia should not let the racist in," said Matthew Collins, a former member of the BNP who now works for a London-based anti-fascist monitoring service. "Nick Griffin is as dangerous to the community as any radical Islamic preacher."

The BNP has 49 elected councillors and 51 parish councillors among Britain's 6000 local councillors.

Jo-anne Schofield, the head of Catalyst, a left-wing Australian think tank opposed to his visit, said: "The BNP is very clever at moderating its message to appear more acceptable. But scratch the surface, they still have a hateful message at their core. "The burden of free speech is carried by the people harmed by his message."

Mr Griffin, who reportedly lost an eye when a shotgun pellet he threw into a fire exploded [Note: Shotgun pellets don't explode. Sheer Leftist ignorance], was denied entry to Australia in 1998. He once called the Holocaust the Holohoax: "I have reached the conclusion that the 'extermination' tale is a mixture of Allied wartime propaganda, extremely profitable lie and . hysteria."

A spokesman for the Immigration Department said because Mr Griffin's name appears on a Movement Alert List for individuals who may be a security, character or immigration concern, his application was not electronically approved and will be reviewed by the department. No decision had been made yet on whether to issue him a visa


Censor the Bible!

Some satirical comments on Australia's proposed internet censorship laws. I like his conclusion

Now, I know it's got a lot of good stuff in it, and that there are many millions of people to whom it brings great joy, but I do believe it's time we did something about the more "inappropriate" passages in The Bible. It's not good enough that each household make its own decisions with regard to Biblical censorship - there are copies of this book in every school library and hotel room, all in plain reach of the children. Last year in China - Australia's frontier scout when it comes to censorship - Hong Kong's anti-porn watchdog received over 200 complaints about The Bible, and I can see why, page after page of the book featuring violent imagery and promoting messages so dreadful it's a wonder it ever got past the OFLC.

Thankfully, as Senator Stephen Conroy assured the Christian Media Association back in May, the Australian Communications and Media Authority's blacklisting of harmful content "is currently compiled by a complaints-driven mechanism", so it is within our power to prevent other people from reading that which we ourselves find offensive. It shouldn't matter that others might find it enlightening or explainable, any more than it should matter that the paedophile finds the stuff in his scrapbooks work keeping. What follows - just a sampling of what's available to readers of The Bible - is plainly revolting by modern community standards, and, if Stephen Conroy is at all consistent, he'll brand all who leap to its defense as sympathisers of rapists, murderers, cannibals, kidsters and blokes who use dead men's foreskins as fun vouchers. Behold.

If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. - Deuteronomy 22:28-29

- What this appears to be telling our children is that rape is a crime against not the victim, but the father of the victim, whose silence can be purchased - perhaps even before the fact - with a few dollars, the rapist's sentence being marriage to the girl, so that he can rape her `legitimately' again and again. The potential damage from this verse alone (I see there has been at least one curious party on the Internet) would give just cause for pulping the entire chapter.

With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. - Acts 1:8

- Now that's just disgusting. That he died was well enough, but one is hard pressed to think of a responsible reason for the gratuitous gore that follows.

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity. - Deuteronomy 25:11-12

- One gets the impression the author was still smarting from some laughable neighbourhood episode about which he remained very much aggrieved at the time of writing. Whatever the case, this couldn't possibly be deemed an "appropriate" message to be sending our children in an era that encourages sensible conflict resolution.

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

- There is not a court in this land that wouldn't regard this as "hate speech" of the first order. Senator Conroy, filter this vile junk out of the book, out of our schools, and out of our lives immediately.

"Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." - Numbers 31:17-18

- Murder and rape of women and children, on the advice of Moses, God's servant of the Old Testament. Anyone promoting, indulging or downloading this filth should have the book thrown at them, and a less obscene book at that.

So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines..- Judges 15:4-5

- Animal cruelty by Samson, hero to the Israelites. I'm sure plenty of rural schoolboys would find this passage most instructive.

But Jael, Heber's wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died. - Judges 4:21

- Perhaps this might be a more "appropriate" passage if it were edited to see Jael simply filing for divorce instead.

But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go. Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, till it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place. And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel. - Judges 19:25-29

- So much for happy endings. It is a thought of some discomfort that my daughter might one day find herself in a relationship with the boy whose parents allowed him access to this yarn.

David and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king's son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage. - 1 Samuel 18:27

- Men trading in women with currency consisting of the severed foreskins of murder victims. What say you, Guy Barnett?

"So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, `Give your son, that we may eat him'; but she has hidden her son." - 2 Kings 6:29

- And they complain about Gordon Ramsay!

Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock! .- Psalms 137:9

- With such stuff espoused in the `Good Book', is it any wonder this sort of thing happens in Christian society?

Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell. .- Proverbs 23:13-14

Or this? "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great." - Revelation 19:17-18

- Cannibalism aside, this does not exactly promote healthy eating habits, and is bound to give rise to more than a few eating disorders, particularly if taken literally.

And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. - Genesis 19:31-35

- I wonder what Steve Fielding would say if he burst in to find me reading this little verse to his daughter?

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. - Matthew 5:29

The most sensible few words in the book.

Source (See the original for links)


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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Leftist bigotry observed. No tolerance among those who preach it

As the media keeps gushing on about how America has finally adopted tolerance as the great virtue, and that we're all united now, let's consider the Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment. Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching "inclusion," and she decided to see how included she could be. So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker: "McCain Girl."

"I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters," Catherine told us. "I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be."

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain's name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid. "People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it," Catherine said. Then it got worse. "One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed," Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren't the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain. "In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," Catherine said. If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college. "Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said," Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs. "He said, 'You should be crucifixed.' It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?' " Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican." Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn't want to jeopardize her experiment. "I couldn't show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing," she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, "I really like your shirt." That's when you know America is truly supportive of diversity of opinion, when children must whisper for fear of being ostracized, heckled and crucifixed.

The next day, in part 2 of The Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment, she wore another T-shirt, this one with "Obama Girl" written in blue. And an amazing thing happened. Catherine wasn't very stupid anymore. She grew brains. "People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today," Catherine said.

Some students accused her of playing both sides. "A lot of people liked it. But some people told me I was a flip-flopper," she said. "They said, 'You can't make up your mind. You can't wear a McCain shirt one day and an Obama shirt the next day.' " But she sure did, and she turned her journal into a report for her history teacher, earning Catherine extra credit. We asked the teacher, Norma Cassin-Pountney, whether it was ironic that Catherine would be subject to such intolerance from pro-Obama supporters in a community that prides itself on its liberal outlook.

"That's what we discussed," Cassin-Pountney said about the debate in the classroom when the experiment was revealed. "I said, here you are, promoting this person [Obama] that believes we are all equal and included, and look what you've done? The students were kind of like, 'Oh, yeah.' I think they got it."

Catherine never told us which candidate she would have voted for if she weren't an 8th grader. But she said she learned what it was like to be in the minority. "Just being on the outside, how it felt, it was not fun at all," she said. Don't ever feel as if you must conform, Catherine. Being on the outside isn't so bad. Trust me.


Finally, a Religious Leader with Guts

I want you to meet a priest from Greenville, South Carolina named Rev. Jay Scott Newman. He is the pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in downtown Greenville. And he has become my personal hero. In a nutshell, Fr. Newman told his parishioners that if they voted for Barack Obama, they embraced "intrinsic evil" since Obama's opponent was a "plausible pro-life alternative." And as a result, those Obama voters need to seek forgiveness from God before they receive Holy Communion again.

Does this guy have guts, or what? Finally, a religious leader comes along and deals with the 800-pound elephant in the room: how do supposedly religious people reject the sanctity of life and support someone who voted against a "Born Alive Infant Protection" law which would protect babies accidentally born alive after a botched abortion? Frankly, if that's not evil, I'm not sure what is.

And it takes a priest in Greenville, South Carolina to rise up against all the moral relativism we face in the world and speak the truth. In a letter posted on the church website, Rev. Newman said that Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate should seek penance for their sin before receiving the Holy Sacrament of Communion, "lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

Of course, he's not just making this up. He cites the Bible as the basis for his message, quoting from I Corinthians that forbids partaking of the body of Christ "without recognizing the body of the Lord."

I'm pleased to report that the response from his congregation has been overwhelmingly positive. According to the priest, church members have approved of his message by a margin of 9 to 1, which leaves me to wonder why those in the minority would see fit to question their pastor. When discussing this gutsy priest on my radio show this week, a few liberals called in and complained about him "mixing politics with religion." It seems to me that life and death issues aren't very political in nature. At least they shouldn't be. And the fact that the left has managed to turn the issue of abortion into "politics" is simply a deceitful way to try and make the taking of an unborn baby's life something as mundane and ordinary as taxes or fixing potholes.

The Catholic Church has certainly had its hands full in dealing with controversies and ugliness. There is no question that many wish the church would have better handled the terrible scandal of sexually abusive priests over the years. As a result of that scandal, many Christian- and Catholic-bashers saw fit to condemn the entire Roman Catholic Church with hateful and vicious attacks, despite the fact that millions of loyal, faithful Catholic churchgoers were as appalled by the abusers as anyone else.

But one thing that can be said with clarity and consistency: the Catholic Church has been a beacon in leading the fight against the destruction of the unborn. Say what you will, but few religious faiths and organizations have had the rock-solid conviction to fight for unborn babies like the Catholic Church has had. And judging by the actions of this one priest in South Carolina, they're just getting started. I pray that more priests, ministers, and rabbis follow suit.

How can a spiritual leader stand at the pulpit every week and ignore the slaughter of millions of innocents? Why would a pastor be inclined to defend an individual, politician or otherwise, who could support partial-birth abortion or the destruction of the life of an unborn baby at any stage? May a hero like Rev. Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, South Carolina serve as a wake-up call to sleepy, lazy church leaders who don't want to address this issue, one of the most important issues of our lifetime. If our church leaders don't fight for the unborn, who will?


British bureaucratic rigidity kills a man

Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead after photographs of the real terror suspect reached police too late, as officers were only able to order them "during office hours", an inquest has heard.

Det Insp Kevin Southworth claimed officers were unable to order copies of a driving licence belonging to Hussain Osman, one of the failed bombers, out of hours. As a result the images did not arrive at New Scotland Yard until noon, almost two hours after innocent Mr de Menezes was killed on July 22 2005. When asked why the pictures were not obtained quicker, Mr Southworth, a member of the SO13 anti-terror branch, said officers did not have out-of-hours contact with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). He said: "You could not just contact the DVLA directly. We had a dedicated point of contact which opened during office hours. "We went to those people and they obtained the images as soon as possible."

Pictures of Osman were also available from immigration authorities, the inquest heard. However, as only hard copies existed, there was no way of obtaining them in time either. Police shot the 27-year-old Brazilian seven times in the head on a train carriage at Stockwell Tube station, south London. He had been mistaken for Osman, one of the terrorists behind the previous day's failed attacks on the capital....


Offensive censorship proposal in Australia

The Leftist Australian goverment seems to be modelling itself on Communist China: The proposal is a bigger obscenity than the obscenity it is allegedly trying to control

Why is some faceless bureaucrat to be given the same powers to censor our internet access as a prison screw has over the perversions of an uncontrollable pedophile? The mechanics are different but that is the ultimate result of the Federal Government's ill-considered and illiberal plan to filter the internet. We learnt this week that the Government has a blacklist of 10,000 sites which will be added to 1300 already identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority to be filtered out of our consciousness.

Just what might we be protected against? The ACMA list is said to be mainly of child pornography sites but Broadband and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy cannot even define the grounds for restricting the 10,000, although they are supposed to contain "illegal and unwanted content". "Will the minister provide a definition of unwanted content and where we might find a definition of unwanted?" asked Greens Senator Scott Ludlum. The answer was: "No."

Call me suspicious but I find it sinister and arrogantly offensive that the Federal Government has a blacklist of banned sites even before it has established any definable criteria for censorship. We are supposed to presume they are all violent or child-porn nasties but can we be sure?

The Vatican got away for two millennia with a library of forbidden books - the Index Librorum Prohibitorum - but I don't know that a government in a modern society is entitled to such presumptions of literary, artistic and political infallibility. The Catholic Church had the good manners to suppress its list in 1966 but at least its list had some definable purpose - the prevention of the contamination of the faith or the corruption of morals through the reading of theologically erroneous or immoral books. "Erroneous and immoral" doesn't sound a world away from "illegal and unwanted".

Without a workable (and legally disputable) definition of what is "unwanted", the scope for government intrusion seems unlimited. Given Australia's sorry history of censorship, petty misuse of power, presumption of moral authority and political exploitation of secrecy in war and peace, is the alleged protection of children (and the deprivation of deviant sexual material) really worth the dangers to a society that should be travelling down a road towards transparency and honesty?

Somebody wise (me, in fact) once wrote: "The web is one of the greatest innovations of the late 20th century, probably the ultimate expression of the communications revolution that began with movable type." The Rudd Government, stampeded by moral crusaders, seems to have embarked on a counter-revolution to turn back the clock. It not only wants to make a massive withdrawal on a bank of freedoms we have built up since the Magna Carta, it seeks the biggest blank cheque since the Howard government asked us to trust it on national security.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, November 15, 2008

British bureaucrats 'ignored abuse warning before Baby P died'

Uncaring official watchdogs

Haringey Council was warned six months before the death of Baby P that its social workers were still not dealing properly with child abuse cases despite being forced to implement an overhaul after the death of Victoria Climbie. A senior social worker told it in February that officials were ignoring child abuse cases bearing similarities to the appalling neglect that resulted in the eight-year-old's death in 2000 while under council supervision.

Nevres Kemal's solicitor wrote to the Health Secretary of the time and to MPs, calling for a public inquiry. The solicitor, Lawrence Davies, said yesterday that his pleas had been ignored. Mr Davies added: "I did not get a reply from anyone, I copied several MPs into the letter. If someone had acted then maybe Baby P would not have died."

The revelation comes after the council finally apologised for the death of Baby P, saying that it was "truly sorry that we did not do more to protect him". On Tuesday, however, at the culmination of the trials that resulted in three people being convicted for causing or allowing the death of Baby P, Sharon Shoesmith, the director of Haringey Children's Service, refused to apologise, saying that staff had carried out their duties effectively. [Unbelievable arrogance. Below is a picture of the social worker monster herself. See here for details of the privileged life she leads]

Ms Kemal, who is prevented by a court order from talking about confidential council matters, alleged in February that a case dating from 2004 involving alleged sex abuse bore similarities to the circumstances surrounding Victoria Climbie's death. She said that she became aware two months after the initial allegations were made to the council that the children had not been medically examined, which would have meant potentially important evidence was lost. When she reported that the case had not been dealt with satisfactorily she claims that management became hostile. Ms Kemal alleged that she was suspended on false charges of misconduct in December 2004. She was then moved from her 34,000 pounds-a-year job in child protection to one planning support for disabled children. Ms Kemal sued the council for race discrimination and harm suffered by a whistleblower under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. The claim is understood to have been settled although the details remain confidential.

On February 16 last year, soon after a social worker was allocated to look after Baby P, Mr Davies wrote to Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary: "Statutory child protection procedures are not being followed. Child sex abusers are not being tackled." He also wrote to junior health ministers Rosie Winterton and Ivan Lewis, and David Lammy, the local MP for Tottenham, who passed the letters on to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Mr Davies, from Equal Justice solicitors, is now applying for the injunction on Ms Kemal to be lifted, saying that what she has to say is in the public interest and will have an impact on any Baby P inquiry.

Last night a spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said that they received the letter and replied just over a month later. He said: "They made the point that ministers could not comment on the specific details of the employment tribunal case. Secondly, as is standard practice, they suggested that the individual should notify the relevant Inspectorate, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, to take appropriate action and they provided the necessary contact details." At the time of Mr Davies's letters Haringey said it would look into detailed evidence or further allegations.

Yesterday Liz Santry, Haringey Cabinet member for children and young people, said: "On behalf of Haringey Council I would like to say how deeply saddened I am about the death of Baby P. This is a really tragic occurrence and the circumstances of his death are really dreadful. "He died over 15 months ago, and for those past 15 months in Haringey there has been a huge amount of anguish, and endless discussion about what more we might have done to save this little boy. I have to say that we are truly sorry that we did not do more to protect him. Our duty is to protect our children. We did not do so in this instance and I would like to say how truly sorry we are.

"The Government has arranged for inspectors to come to Haringey. They are arriving this afternoon and we absolutely welcome their arrival. We will do everything we can to be open and cooperative with them and the conclusions that they reach we will implement swiftly and comprehensively. "We want to do everything we possibly can to make our child protection procedures as strong as possible." [The bulldust is finally trotted out. Note that there is still no suggestion that anyone will be fired over the matter]


And the social worker monsters wanted the dead boy's sister to be left with the same parents who killed the boy

British social workers are scarcely human beings in their far-Left attitudes. Since when did far-Leftists care about human life anyway?

Social workers responsible for the care of Baby P tried to prevent his mother's newborn child being taken into care against the advice of police, despite the fact it was born in jail, The Times has learnt. Council officials did not want the new baby - a girl - to be taken into care as they said it was "against the human rights" of the mother, even though she was on remand over the death of Baby P. A social worker told police: "We need to let her bond," but Scotland Yard officers eventually over-ruled Haringey on the issue. A source involved in the investigation said: "There was no way that police were going to allow this baby to be looked after by the mother."

Today the council finally apologised over the death of Baby P, who suffered months of abuse despite being on the "at-risk" register, and 60 visits from health and social workers in the last nine months of his life. However, it emerged that the day before he died, the council's social workers offered to pay for his mother to go on a trip to the seaside as a "treat".

The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had just been told by police that they were not going to take any action after she had previously been arrested on suspicion of assaulting Baby P. Unaware that the boy was probably already seriously injured, including having fractured ribs and a broken back, social services said that they would arrange the trip for the next week. The mother told the Old Bailey: "I felt like everything was finally falling into place. I was so happy, nothing could get me down." But the next day the child was found dead in his cot.

However a council spokesman denied the mother's claims that a trip was offered and said: "No such offer of a holiday or a trip to be paid for by the council was either made or implied. It is not our practice to offer such a holiday or a trip."

More here


by Thomas Sowell

Among the many wonders to be expected from an Obama administration, if Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times is to be believed, is ending "the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life." He cited Adlai Stevenson, the suave and debonair governor of Illinois, who twice ran for president against Eisenhower in the 1950s, as an example of an intellectual in politics. Intellectuals, according to Mr. Kristof, are people who are "interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity," people who "read the classics."

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Adlai Stevenson was certainly regarded as an intellectual by intellectuals in the 1950s. But, half a century later, facts paint a very different picture. Historian Michael Beschloss, among others, has noted that Stevenson "could go quite happily for months or years without picking up a book." But Stevenson had the airs of an intellectual -- the form, rather than the substance.

What is more telling, form was enough to impress the intellectuals, not only then but even now, years after the facts have been revealed, though apparently not to Mr. Kristof. That is one of many reasons why intellectuals are not taken as seriously by others as they take themselves.

As for reading the classics, President Harry Truman, whom no one thought of as an intellectual, was a voracious reader of heavyweight stuff like Thucydides and read Cicero in the original Latin. When Chief Justice Carl Vinson quoted in Latin, Truman was able to correct him. Yet intellectuals tended to think of the unpretentious and plain-spoken Truman as little more than a country bumpkin.

Similarly, no one ever thought of President Calvin Coolidge as an intellectual. Yet Coolidge also read the classics in the White House. He read both Latin and Greek, and read Dante in the original Italian, since he spoke several languages. It was said that the taciturn Coolidge could be silent in five different languages.

The intellectual levels of politicians are just one of the many things that intellectuals have grossly misjudged for years on end. During the 1930s, some of the leading intellectuals in America condemned our economic system and pointed to the centrally planned Soviet economy as a model-- all this at a time when literally millions of people were starving to death in the Soviet Union, from a famine in a country with some of the richest farmland in Europe and historically a large exporter of food. New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for telling the intelligentsia what they wanted to hear-- that claims of starvation in the Ukraine were false.

After British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge reported from the Ukraine on the massive deaths from starvation there, he was ostracized after returning to England and unable to find a job. More than half a century later, when the archives of the Soviet Union were finally opened up under Mikhail Gorbachev, it turned out that about six million people had died in that famine-- about the same number as the people killed in Hitler's Holocaust.

In the 1930s, it was the intellectuals who pooh-poohed the dangers from the rise of Hitler and urged Western disarmament.

It would be no feat to fill a big book with all the things on which intellectuals were grossly mistaken, just in the 20th century-- far more so than ordinary people. History fully vindicates the late William F. Buckley's view that he would rather be ruled by people represented by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard.

How have intellectuals managed to be so wrong, so often? By thinking that because they are knowledgeable-- or even expert-- within some narrow band out of the vast spectrum of human concerns, that makes them wise guides to the masses and to the rulers of the nation. But the ignorance of Ph.D.s is still ignorance and high-IQ groupthink is still groupthink, which is the antithesis of real thinking.


Same Old Berlin Wall

In Germany, a limit to the change we can believe in.

One benefit of a Democratic Presidency is that it will expose the myth that U.S. disagreements with our nations are all the fault of the Bush Administration. Take the failure of NATO, and especially Germany, to supply more troops for the war in Afghanistan.

During his Presidential campaign, Barack Obama expressed confidence that his penchant for diplomacy would change German minds. Apparently not. Sending more soldiers, or troops who actually fight, remains anathema in Germany. "There is a limit," Peter Struck, the parliamentary head of the ruling Social Democrats and former Defense Minister, said this week when asked whether Germany could do more to help defeat the Taliban. Maybe Mr. Obama's speech before adoring crowds in Berlin last summer was not so effective after all.

When Europeans talk about "multilateralism," they typically don't mean agreeing on a common policy to carry out together. They mean defaulting global security to the United Nations, where Russian and Chinese vetoes curtail effective action. At best, multilateralism a la Paris and Berlin is short for European approval for where and how Americans may intervene around the world.

The Continent's free-riding on U.S. security while criticizing the way that security is provided predates the Bush Administration and will outlive it. President Bush has mainly provided Europeans with an excuse for refusing the kind of cooperation they'd rather not provide anyway. Mr. Obama has promised a multilateral surge of troops into the Afghanistan-Pakistan front. He may find, like Mr. Bush, that most of those troops will have to be American.


Australia: Statistics about black crime in Victoria conceal the truth

Andrew Bolt (below) has finally smelt a rat, catching up with the fact that police statistics where race is concerned are notoriously unbelievable. Andrew initially believed the guff fed to him by Victoria police about low rates of black crime (is there anywhere in the WORLD where there is a low rate of black crime?) but he has now seen how pro-black are official police policies. Note that the Leftist Premier of NSW has confirmed in Parliament the crime problems with black African refugees. (See also the full Hansard transcript here). I say more about the policy issues of the matter here

I am sorry. I may have misled you about the Sudanese gangs I defended last year. Back then, I denounced the hate-merchants demonising Sudanese here as misfits, too prone to violence. True, one gang of boys had just bashed a policeman, but I gave you police statistics showing the crime rate among Sudanese immigrants was no higher than for the rowdy rest of us.

But days later, gangs of African youths fought each other in the Highpoint shopping centre. And Indian taxi drivers kept getting robbed by African men. Just this week, Sudanese gangs in Adelaide attacked each other in a clash so deadly that one youth was killed and another near death.

But those police statistics tell us there's no problem among the Sudanese. Which makes an article like this unfair and unhelpful. Yet, I started to sniff something when Police Commissioner Christine Nixon banned police from using the word "gangs" to describe, well, gangs. I worried more when an African community leader, Berhan Ahmed, asked Nixon to stop police checking Africans in Flemington quite so often.

And now charges have been dropped over a riot in Racecourse Rd last December in which some 100 Africans surrounded 21 police trying to arrest a rock-thrower, and sent one to hospital with suspected cracked ribs. At the time, the force defended its officers. Region 3 boss Insp Nigel Howard denied they were racist or too heavy-handed: "Enough is enough."

It's a different story today, and Sen-Sgt Mario Benedetti, in charge of Moonee Ponds police station, says he suspects charges against the rioters were dropped because of their race. The explanation that Supt Jack Blayney gave our reporter, Mark Buttler, didn't seem to deny it: "The withdrawal of these charges followed consultation with the members and youths concerned and was deemed to be the best outcome for both parties."

Pardon? Is this a peace negotiation between two warring gangs, then, one of them the police? And is there not actually a law to uphold, regardless of race, and a force to defend? But no charges means no offence recorded. And the police can keep telling us: the Sudanese crime rate is no higher than everyone else's.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, November 14, 2008

Nasty British bureaucrats lose one

Man hauled before court for letting his rubbish bin fall over and spill rubbish

A man was taken to court by a council after his wheelie bin was knocked over and rubbish spilled into the road. Gary Rostron, 34, had placed the bin outside his home before he left for work. He was astounded to receive a $120 fixed penalty notice from his local council for 'incorrectly placing his rubbish bags beside his collecting receptacle'. When he explained that the rubbish bags were originally inside his bin and that it must have been knocked over, council officials refused to believe him. Instead, at a cost of up to $10,000 to taxpayers, they took the case to court - where magistrates found him not guilty.

Today Mr Rostron, a care worker from Blackburn, blasted the authority for wasting taxpayers' cash on needless legal action. He said: 'The council told me they had evidence I had dumped the rubbish because there were three envelopes with my name and address on them in the bags found in the alleyway. 'Of course there were - it was my rubbish. I had put the bags in the bin and left them out for the binmen. They must have been knocked or pushed over after that. 'I tried to explain to the council thinking they would see reason, but they didn't want to listen.'

Mr Rostron's ordeal began in March when he left his bin out for collection in the alleyway behind his home. He was subsequently sent a $120 fine by Blackburn with Darwen Council and when he refused to pay was taken to Blackburn Magistrates' Court. He was charged with breaching section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act, but was found not guilty. Mr Rostron said: 'This is penalising people who go out to work and who cannot put their bins out minutes before the binmen come, or bring them back in the moment they are emptied. 'I was not willing to have a criminal record because of something I did not do, which is why I fought it. 'The whole thing must have wasted thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money, which would be better spent on cleaning up the streets. I'm glad I fought it and the magistrates realised I was telling the truth.'

Despite its defeat in court, Blackburn with Darwen Council insists it made the correct decision and claims the prosecution was a last resort. Alan Cottam, Conservative executive member for regeneration and environment on the coalition-led council, said: 'No one would be convicted of anything if we dropped cases when people said they were innocent. 'Evidence has to be tested in court and it is then up to the magistrates to decide.'

Labour leader Kate Hollern said: 'I think that people dumping rubbish should be taken to court but I do have sympathy with this gentleman because I have had a number of complaints about bins not being collected and then getting knocked over. 'What are residents supposed to do?'

Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'This court case should never have been brought and taxpayers have been landed with a totally unnecessary bill. 'People don't pay their council tax for the council to squander it on over-zealous prosecutions.'


Media Have a Proposition for Calif. Churches: You're Bigots

The liberal media worked overtime against California's marriage amendment, Proposition 8, which the voters passed 52 to 48 percent. After the Nov. 4 vote, the media quickly jettisoned professional objectivity - and respect for democracy - to spin a yarn about the pain of victimhood. Now they are working to elevate angry gay protesters who are vilifying opponents and targeting churches.

As reported by CMI's Colleen Raezler, ABC, NBC and CBS aired a total of 13 news stories on Prop. 8 in the five days following the vote. Six of the stories, nearly half, emphasized the reactions of the roughly 18,000 same-sex couples whose California "marriages" have been invalidated. Only four Prop. 8 supporters made it on air, compared to 15 opponents. None of the networks could spare even 15 seconds of precious air time to explain why keeping intact the foundational institution of human society might be a good idea.

The worst example we've seen of TV reporting on Prop. 8 protests came from the local CBS station in Palm Springs, Calif. On the grounds of City Hall, furious "gay" protesters knocked a Christian cross out of an elderly woman's hands and stomped on it. The woman remained calm and collected. When reporter Kimberly Chang tried to interview her, protesters screamed and blocked the camera with their signs. Hilariously, the station identified the victimized woman as "Phyllis Burgess, Involved in Prop 8 Rally Altercation." That's like saying Poland was involved in a border altercation with Nazi Germany. In a masterpiece of moral equivalence, CBS anchor Kris Long told viewers, "There's a lot of anger and a lot of hate, quite honestly, on both sides."

Print journalists have more freedom, time and space than their broadcast colleagues, so they should have produced a more balanced account of the Prop. 8 controversy. They did, for roughly 48 hours. Initial press reports last Wednesday and Thursday included statements by Prop. 8 supporters and the vital fact that a 70-30 majority of African-American voters pushed Prop. 8 over the top. By Friday, Nov. 7, however, news reports focused on "civil rights" street theater by fuming Prop. 8 protesters. The villains of the piece, Catholics, evangelical Protestants and especially Mormons, no longer were allowed to explain their views or even to defend themselves against ugly charges of bigotry. The pivotal support of black voters quickly dropped out of the story.

Newsrooms apparently followed the lead of the editorial pages. A Nov. 6 New York Times editorial condemned "the ugly outcome of these ballot fights," referring to votes in three states - California, Florida and Arizona - to uphold one man-one woman marriage. According to the Times, "the immediate impact of Tuesday's rights-shredding exercise is to underscore the danger of allowing the ballot box to be used to take away people's fundamental rights."

In this editorial, the Times broke new ground in political philosophy. Who needs all that Founding Fathers blather about government requiring the consent of the governed when razor-thin 4-3 judicial majorities are creating new human "rights?" Maybe America needs some new rules regarding court-concocted "rights." When a court decides to override public opinion and thumb its nose at the moral order created by nature's God, shouldn't we require at least a 5-2 majority? But I digress.

The Chicago Sun-Times editorial board chimed in on Nov. 7, describing popular support for one man-one woman marriage as "discrimination and nonsense." The New York Times ran seven letters to the editor on Prop. 8 - six by opponents.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, the Los Angeles Times posted a story headlined "Anti-Prop. 8 protests spring up in California." A photo showed angry protesters waving signs accusing Mormons of "hatred," and proclaiming "I am a second class citizen." The Times quoted several speakers at an anti-Prop. 8 rally, including a woman who called traditional marriage supporters "bigots, bigots, bigots." Ignoring minimal standards of decency, not to mention journalist ethics, the Times gave Prop. 8 supporters no opportunity defend their honor.

A Nov. 10 AP/New York Times story, "In California, More Protests Over a Vote On Marriage," focused on 1,000 protesters gathered Sunday outside Saddleback Church, the evangelical Protestant megachurch pastored by Rick Warren. The story described protesters as "advocates of equal rights for gay people." A "volunteer" from the Human Rights Campaign, a gay pressure group, accused Saddleback of spreading "misinformation" and telling "obvious lies." The reporter didn't try very hard to allow Saddleback to respond: "A message for comment left at the church's main office, which was closed on Sunday, was not immediately returned."

A secular reporter can be forgiven for not knowing that Christian church offices are usually closed on Sundays. But shouldn't he have learned, somewhere along the line, that churches themselves are open for business? The reporter was on the Saddleback campus. If he had bothered to peek through the windows, he surely would have seen a few people milling about. Did it not occur to this intrepid soul to walk into the church and ask Pastor Warren to reply? Perhaps he was too busy bonding with those angry protesters.


The Leftist love of censorship is running amok in Australia

Internet filter to block 10,000-plus "unwanted" sites. I guess that this site will be pretty "unwanted" too

AUSTRALIA'S mandatory internet filter is being primed to block 10,000 websites as part of a blacklist of unspecified "unwanted content", Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy revealed in Federal Parliament. The 10,000 blacklisted websites would be blocked in addition to 1300 websites identified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Senator Conroy revealed details of the Rudd Government's proposed web filter as he called for expressions of interest from internet service providers for a live trial of the technology. As part of the trial, ISPs will test different methods of filtering the web with subscribers who volunteer. The trial is expected to last six weeks and will start before Christmas. "The pilot will specifically test filtering against the ACMA blacklist of prohibited content, which is mostly child pornography, as well as filtering of other unwanted content," Senator Conroy told Parliament. "While the ACMA blacklist is currently around 1300 URLs, the pilot will test against this list as well as filtering for a range of URLs to around 10,000 so that the impacts on network performance of a larger blacklist can be examined."

ACMA's laboratory trial of web-filtering technology this year found filtering technology could slow internet access by as much as 87 per cent and by at least 2 per cent.

Electronic Frontiers Australia board member Colin Jacobs says live trials of ISP-based web filters would be rushed, as they were scheduled to occur as internet companies geared down for Christmas. He said large internet providers such as Telstra and Optus would find it difficult to participate, while mid-sized providers might take part in the trial simply to prove the technology "unfeasible".

Mr Jacobs said the civil liberties group was also concerned at what would be deemed "unwanted content". "It is unclear how ACMA will scale up their blacklist to 10,000 websites and what will go on the list," he said. "Conroy said the list would contain illegal and unwanted content but we still have to see what would end up on that list. "Under the current mandate that includes adult material, which would mean most material that could be rated R and, in some circumstances, material rated MA15+."

Readers of The Courier-Mail online have spoken out against the filter plan, with the majority of 191 comments posted to 11.44am yesterday revealing fears of interference from ''Big Brother.'' Britomartis of Camp Hill thundered: ''How can the government be allowed to do this? ''Block content and not tell us what it is! ''The list should be public or they should listen to the people and not go ahead with this at all!''

Johan Zetterlund of Annerley and Jason Davies of Greenslopes said the move seemed more in line with certain authoritarian, communist regimes rather than the ideals of a free nation. Paul of Carina raged: ''This is typical of a government that thinks it knows better than the people that voted them in and the arrogance of (Prime Minister Kevin) Rudd to think he should impose his morals and ideals on the population! ''This is a communist style of imposition and the dopes that voted Labor into power should wake up to themselves!'' Derek Squire of Redcliffe and Dan of Brisbane said that implementation of the policy would ensure electoral defeat for the Labor government.


Special privileges for Muslim criminals in Australia

Charges have been quietly dropped over a riot in which an out-of-control mob attacked and injured police. The policeman who laid the charges said last night he was disgusted at what had happened and he believed there was no justification for abandoning the case. Sen-Sgt Mario Benedetti, the officer in charge of Moonee Ponds police station, said he did not find out until this week about last month's decision.

He said he suspected the matter may have been dumped because those charged after the incident at Flemington one year ago were of north African descent. "That could be a factor. I wonder if that applies to youth in Sunbury or Craigieburn or Broadmeadows," he said.

Sen-Sgt Benedetti said four teenagers arrested were initially hit with charges including assaulting police, assault in company, resisting arrest and hindering police. When those charges were dropped, less serious counts, including offensive behaviour, remained; but they were also withdrawn last month.

Senior police last night did not indicate that the prosecutions were dropped because of a lack of evidence. Sen-Sgt Benedetti said the matter could not have been dropped because it would not stand up in court, as the case was "cut and dried". "It was a very strong case. The evidence is there. It wasn't circumstantial. It was corroborated," he said. Sen-Sgt Benedetti, who is on sick leave, said he had never known a case to be dropped in such circumstances. "I was never consulted, nor were any of the co-informants. I'm flabbergasted. We've been left high and dry," he said.

Violence broke out after police attempted to arrest an 18-year-old for throwing a rock. One member was assaulted and taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs, while others were abused. Supporters of the youths later claimed police had been harassing local youths.

Supt Jack Blayney said last night: "The withdrawal of these charges followed consultation with the members and youths concerned and was deemed to be the best outcome for both parties. "There are a number of pro-active projects in place at the moment which are aimed at improving relations between some youths in the Flemington area and the police, to increase social responsibility and awareness."

But Sen-Sgt Benedetti said last night he had not been approached nor, to the best of his knowledge, had the brief co-ordinator or the co-informants. At the time, police said they were surrounded after 21 officers converged on a commission housing estate on Racecourse Rd



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, November 13, 2008

An abject and ghastly failure of bureaucratic Britain

Baby 'used as punchbag' died despite 60 visits from social services. If the parents had been decent people, the kid would have been removed immediately, of course. Displays of power are all that bureaucratic Britain cares about. Everything else is just a bother

A 17-month-old boy, who was seen by social services 60 times in eight months, died after repeatedly being used "as a punchbag" and having his back broken. The toddler - known as Baby P - suffered more than 50 injuries and was on the child protection register but was allowed to stay in the care of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger. Today, his 32-year-old "step-father" and lodger Jason Owen, 36, were convicted of causing or allowing Baby P's death, a charge already admitted by the child's 27-year-old mother.

The trial at the Old Bailey heard about a catalogue of failings on the part of social workers, health visitors and police. One consultant paediatrician failed to spot Baby P's broken back or ribs in August last year - just 48 hours before his death - while police told the mother she would not be prosecuted after being arrested twice for suspected child cruelty. The court heard how she had been able to manipulate the situation with lies and even got away with smearing Baby P with chocolate to hide bruises. By the end, he was unrecognisable, his curly, golden locks shaved off, his cheeks hollow and his eyes dead to the world.

The family, from Haringey, north London, cannot be named for legal reasons. But they were under the care of the same social services responsible for Victoria Climbie, who was tortured to death by her great aunt and her boyfriend in 2000. Mor Dioum, director of the Victoria Climbie Foundation, set up to improve child protection, said: "This case is worse than Climbie. The signs were there but were not followed." There were "systematic and operational failures that led to the tragic and sad death of such a beautiful child".

Gillie Christou, in charge of social workers looking after children on the register in Haringey [She should be burnt at the stake], told the court she had agreed to keep the baby with his mother. She said: "I made the decision at the time based on the material in front of me and based on the background to the case."

A detective in the case said the boy had more than 50 injuries, 15 of them to the mouth. He described the boyfriend as "sadistic - fascinated with pain". He had Nazi memorabilia in the house. The mother was "a slob, completely divorced from reality. She was living in a dream world and put her lover before her child. She closed her eyes to what was going on".

After the case, police said they had complied with a multi-agency long-term care plan for the family. But procedures have now been toughened up to give police more confidence in challenging decisions. Detective Superintendent Caroline Bates said police errors were made which caused a delay at the start of the abuse inquiry, but these had not been significant to the outcome. She said: "With hindsight, having the benefit of a major investigation, we know quite clearly that the mother was lying and trying to subvert agencies involved with the family." The mother had appeared to be co-operating with agencies but "she constantly conspired to prevent us knowing what was going on".

In June "police officers felt very strongly that he should not be returned" to his mother. A police inspector asked twice if the threshold had been reached to start care proceedings. "This was a huge tragedy which should have been avoided. If we had only known the truth about the adults in the house," said Ms Bates. Great Ormond Street Hospital, which provides paediatric services to children from Haringey, said Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, who was involved in the failed clinic check, is no longer working there.


Britain: Single mother on welfare is moved into $2m five-bedroom house - funded by the taxpayer

ALL Nigerians should move to Britain. It's so much nicer there

A mother-of-five claiming benefits is living in a detached home worth $2million - with taxpayers helping fund her $50,000 annual rent. The luxury five-bedroom home with two sitting rooms, a conservatory and a double garage is being paid for with housing benefits handed out by her local council. Situated in a smart north London street, the $2million home is out of the price range of most families in the UK. The average house price in Britain is $450,000.

Nigerian single mother Omowunmi Odia moved her family into the home two weeks ago and last night said she was pleased to be living there - although she criticised the large house for having a small bedrooms. The family had been living in a cramped flat before the move. 'I was living in a two-bedroom apartment with my five children and only moved in here two weeks ago,' said Mrs Odia, who is in her thirties. 'They didn't have any council houses big enough for me so I found this one. I like it; the children like it,' she added.

Mrs Odia has been living in the UK for 10 years and is entitled to the home under government rules. It has recently been revealed that taxpayers have paid out $15billion for housing benefits in Britain in 2006-7.

Mrs Odia, who drives a six-year-old family car, had been threatened with homelessness when she was forced out of her flat when a court order was obtained against her. She was rehoused by Barnet council in the spacious property in Edgware, bought by its owners in 2005 for $1,300,00 but valued at $2million at the height of the property boom.

Mrs Odia said the council had tried to rehouse her in Enfield, north London, but she had held out for Edgware, close to her children's schools. One of the bedrooms, she said, was 'no bigger than a shoebox'. She lives off state handouts and has not been in contact with her husband, who remains in Nigeria, for at least three years. The property is unfurnished and most of the rooms are empty bar a leather sofa and armchairs in one of the sitting rooms.

More than $8 billion of taxpayers' money is being spent on housing benefit across London - an increase of more than 40 per cent in five years. 'Too little is being done to reduce the bill by helping people become self-reliant,' said Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance.


'Tolerance' Is Not the Lesson of Kristallnacht

Sunday was the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass. With some notable exceptions, Europe has opted to mark the occasion by missing its point. "We must not be silent," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a memorial ceremony in Berlin's renovated Rykestrasse synagogue, one of the few that was not burned down that night by the Nazis -- though 2,200 others were, as crowds of German or Austrian citizens looked on. "There can be no tolerance, for example, if the safety of the state of Israel is threatened by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran." Well said. Maybe the chancellor will turn next to the issue of the 2,000 German companies that still do business with Tehran, whose exports are up more than 14% this year.

Less well said is a "white paper on tolerance," which, along with a draft of a "European Framework Convention on Promoting Tolerance and Combating Intolerance," was presented yesterday at a conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. The meeting is generating interest in part because of the participation of representatives from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Muslim states -- none of which are especially known for their solicitude toward Jews. Maybe they've had a change of heart. Alternatively, they might have figured out that the banner of "tolerance" -- a word that means nothing -- can serve their purposes as well as the "peace" movement once served the Soviet Union.

To be sure, neither the white paper nor the framework convention is short on references to anti-Semitism and its "current increase . . . in many European countries." But the drafters of the convention also claim to be "profoundly convinced that combating anti-Semitism, while requiring a specific type of action, is an integral and intrinsic component of the fight against racism."

With this premise, the convention proposes various legal penalties for the "dissemination of any ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred," as well as policies to promote "special positive measures to further equal social development and ensure the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of all victims" of discrimination.

But if that sounds relatively anodyne, consider the ways in which radical Islamists in Europe have been using hate-speech codes to their advantage. In 2005, the Times of London reported that the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir -- proscribed in Germany for distributing anti-Semitic literature -- had launched a recruiting drive on college campuses under the aegis of a "Stop Islamophobia" campaign. In Belgium, the leader for several years of the Arab European League, which claimed to defend Antwerp's Muslim immigrant Moroccan community against police harassment, was Dyab Abou Jahjah, himself a Lebanese member of Hezbollah.

Then there is the instructive, albeit complex, case of the Cologne mosque project. An enormous structure designed to accommodate 4,000 worshippers, it was approved by city hall and sponsored by the Turkish-Islamic Union (or DITIB), an umbrella group considered to be relatively moderate. Given that 12% of Cologne's population is Muslim, it seems a reasonable accommodation.

Yet the sheer scale of the project aroused widespread unease. In September, a group called "pro-Cologne" -- some, though by no means all, of whose members had ties to anti-immigrant parties such as the Flemish Vlaams Belang -- attempted to hold an anti-Islamification Congress. They were thwarted by an estimated 40,000 protestors throwing paint bombs and chanting "No Koelsch [beer] for Nazis."

Superficially, at least, the protestors seemed to have achieved a worthy objective against some unsavory characters. Yet as John Rosenthal of the invaluable WorldPoliticsReview Web site points out, Germany's actual Nazis took a different view. "Inasmuch as it is a determined opponent of the western-plutocratic one-world policy, we regard Islam, globally considered, as an ally against the mammonistic dominance of the American east coast" went a statement published by the neo-Nazi North German Action Office, using the words "American east coast" as a euphemism for Jews. "'Pro-Cologne's' superficial populism against Islam sends a completely wrong signal, about which only pro-Israel circles could be happy."

This isn't to say that the Cologne protestors are closet neo-Nazis. Nor is DITIB a radical group, at least compared to Hizb ut-Tahrir. Yet DITIB refuses to distinguish between Islam (a religion) and Islamism (a political idea) and accuses anyone who has an unkind word to say about the latter of being a "racist."

Much the same goes for other "mainstream" Islamic groups in Europe, who would find in the proposed "framework convention" a useful tool through which to shut down serious and legitimate concerns about the rise of Islamism -- along with its usual cargo of Israel- and Jew-hatred -- in Europe. One perverse result is that these groups will now be in a position to dictate the terms of what constitutes acceptable speech. Also perverse, and a process that's already in train, is that European moderates will increasingly find themselves marching into the arms of parties like the Vlaams Belang.

So here we are, 70 years after Kristallnacht, as good an example as any of what happens when the evil of the few (or, perhaps, not-so-few) takes advantage of the cowardice of the many. If there's a lesson here, it's in the need not for "tolerance," but for moral courage. Now as before, Europe finds it in short supply.


'Spousal maintenance' for mistresses in Australia

An extraordinary misappropriation of the rights and obligations of marriage

PHILANDERING husbands could soon be forced by the courts to keep paying for their mistresses after an affair ends. That is just one outcome set to arise from laws on broken de facto relationships that will take effect early next year, The Courier-Mail reports. Under the Family Law Act reforms, de facto partners together for two years will get the same rights as married couples to seek "spousal maintenance" claims. Maintenance, as distinct from child support, may be ordered when the other party is "unable to support herself or himself adequately" following separation.

But legal experts warn the amended Act - passed in the Senate on Monday - opens the definition of a de facto couple to wide interpretation. It prescribes a de facto relationship as an opposite-sex or same-sex couple "living together on a genuine domestic basis". Yet it also stipulates that a de facto alliance can exist even if one of the partners is legally married to somebody else or in another de facto relationship.

Veteran Brisbane family lawyer Paul Hopgood said the door was ajar for jilted lovers to seek maintenance orders. "I get high-profile people from around town saying, 'I'm having an (affair) with so and so. I wine and dine her and take her on holidays. I look after her and it's been going on for five years. But I'm safe - she hasn't got the key to my house'. "You don't have to live in the same house and under the same roof to be a de facto. A lot of people are living in de facto relationships and don't think they are."

Mr Hopgood cited a couple who might not share a home because of international business commitments. "If everything else is there, apart from the common residence, they've still got a de facto relationship."

In a further twist, the laws shape as a threat to the coffers of polygamist husbands. Queensland Law Society family law chairman Julie Harrington said: "In polygamy, you have only one marriage that's recognised, so you have wives two, three and four as the de factos. "At least those women will now have some rights which they otherwise didn't (have) under the Family Law Act."

Ms Harrington said the new laws could also create a debt nightmare for others, who now face the possibility of ongoing spousal support to a string of previous de facto partners.

With married couples, maintenance orders generally end when the ex-partner receiving the money remarries. De factos will come under the same rules if they marry a new partner. But no explicit provision exists in the legislation for maintenance payments to stop should a recipient enter a new de facto relationship. "Young people might have a series of short de facto relationships - and they're potentially up for paying spouse maintenance for several," Ms Harrington said. "It could be a big problem."

However, a spokesman for federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that in this situation the payer would be entitled to head back to the family courts to show "just cause" for discharging or varying the order.

The Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Act aims to end discrimination in the treatment of married and unmarried couples after separation. Previously, Queensland's de facto couples could access the Family Court to resolve child custody issues, but property disputes had to be heard in Supreme or District courts. With the new laws, de factos can have all matters heard in a federal family law court. Claims on superannuation also are allowed.

In August, a Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry heard grave concerns about the reforms from family and religious agencies, including FamilyVoice Australia. FVA feared that by extending equal rights to de facto couples, marriage would be devalued and undermined.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Has the silent majority now been brainwashed?

The election of Obama heralds the erosion of the Republican Party's `silent majority' strategy as well as bringing to an end an important chapter in America's culture wars. The term `silent majority' was promoted by former President Richard Nixon; in a speech in November 1969 he applied it to those people who respected American institutions, did not participate in anti-Vietnam demonstrations, and who were appalled by the counterculture of the 1960s.

The term `silent majority' had very clear populist connotations. These were people who were held in contempt by the cultural elites and whose sentiments and interests were ignored by Hollywood and the media. The term also contained unspoken assumptions about the racial fears of both middle-class and lower-income and particularly suburban whites. It signalled the idea that it was okay to feel insecure about the implications of the civil rights revolution and to oppose the `unreasonable' demands associated with the aspiration of black people for a better life.

During the past 40 years, the Republican strategy of cultivating the silent majority proved remarkably successful in consolidating a base of support for the party. Its ability to attract even blue-collar Democrats in the 1980s demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach. However, the appeal to the silent majority was always fundamentally defensive in its orientation. It spoke to people who were worried about the impact of change on their lives; it tended to represent change as a negative and hostile thing. And in a world of rapid and constant change, such an outlook could provide very little guidance to people facing everyday practical problems. Until recent times, the incoherent and shallow character of the ideas contained in the `silent majority' approach did not much matter because, in many respects, this was indeed a silent conversation.

However, the silent and taken-for granted nature of this constituency's views and sentiments deprived them of any political, intellectual and ultimately cultural influence or coherence. From the outside, the silent majority was perceived by friend and foe alike as a stable block with fixed ideas. But the very fact that it relied on unspoken sentiments, particularly on the subject of race, meant that it lacked a capacity to influence American society in any significant way. Indeed, although most commentators failed to notice this fact, the group labelled `the silent majority' was itself coming under the influence of the cultural elite's views and attitudes, as institutionalised through education, the media and other institutions.

The very fact that the passions that influenced the silent majority could not be openly articulated betrayed a sense of confusion, bad faith, even guilt. Consequently, even the influence of racial fears began to diminish. And although people could still be driven by their individual prejudices, the strength of race as a public and political force gradually declined. Indeed, for some time the political significance of race has become less important than most analysts and commentators have believed.

Obama's victory is testimony to the diminished significance of race. Obama did not win the majority of white voters. But his support among whites is equal to the votes achieved by the last three white Democratic presidential candidates and represents a slight improvement on the number won by 2004 Democratic nominee, John Kerry. The exit polls indicate that Obama received 40 per cent of the votes of white men and a significant majority of the younger white people's votes. More significantly, he did remarkably well among those who were formerly part of the silent majority. He succeeded in gaining significant support from white voters in working-class areas and in many key white suburbs. He carried areas like Cambria County in Western Pennsylvania, a region dominated by white blue-collar workers. And he even won Virginia, home to the capital of the Confederacy.

The politicisation of cultural differences, which gave meaning to the silent majority, has blown up in the faces of the founders and representatives of this silent group of people. Whereas in the past the Nixon critique of the liberal media and the cultural elites could mobilise significant support, today such critiques fail to provide the Republicans with any political momentum. In fact, in the past decade the liberal cultural elites have gone on the offensive and have embraced the culture war with relish. They have successfully discredited the all-too-easy target of the Bush administration. They also ran an effective campaign against Sarah Palin and managed to contain her impact on the electorate.

The unspoken assumptions of the silent majority are no match for the very public and vociferous cultural values of the silent majority's opponents in the liberal elite. For many decades, the strategy of cultivating a silent constituency spared the Republicans the trouble of having to put forward a coherent political identity that might have engaged and inspired the public. As a result, they have lost the younger generations. Their support among Hispanics - the fastest growing constituency in America - has disintegrated. The Republicans have lost support in traditional red states in the South, Midwest and Rocky Mountains, too. Obama has a larger mandate than any Democratic president-elect since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

The election also demonstrates that America is No Country For Old Men. The only group where Obama failed to make any headway was among senior citizens. This is the constituency that is most intimidated by change and least likely to disassociate itself from the unspoken values of the silent majority. Of course, their defiant stand against the temper of the times can also be interpreted as an obituary to the silent majority.

The disintegration of silent-majority populism represents a positive development. It might encourage public debate to acquire a more open and reflective character. The only downside of this development is that it was in part brought about by the influence of the narrow-minded anti-populism of America's cultural oligarchy. Their success in demonising smalltown America and its unenlightened rednecks has often been assisted by prejudices that are in fact the mirror image of those held by their opponents. However, hopefully the fluidity that has been introduced into public life through the course of this election will create opportunities for debating issues of substance, rather than hiding behind cultural caricatures.


Freedom Now Stands Alone

Melanie Phillips of the UK Spectator is one of the few journalists to grasp the implications of Obama's victory in the USA

So the answer to my question turned out to be yes, America really was going to do this. A historic moment indeed. The hyperbole for once is not exaggerated: this is a watershed election which changes the fate of the world. The fear however is that the world now becomes very much less safe for all of us as a result.

Those of us who have looked on appalled during this most frightening of presidential elections - at the suspension of reason and its replacement by thuggery -- can only hope that the way this man governs will be very different from the profile provided by his influences, associations and record to date. It's a faint hope - the enemies of America, freedom and the west will certainly be rejoicing today.

America has voted for change, apparently. Change from what, precisely? From Bush? But in the second term, Bush stopped being Bush. His foreign policy lurched from paralysis to appeasement (redeemed only by the strategic genius of Gen Petraeus - and what price Petraeus now?) As Frank Gaffney wrote in the Washington Times yesterday, Bush's Treasury is about to open the way for sharia law to be imposed upon America's banking system. And it was a Democrat-controlled Congress that helped provoke the sub-prime lending crisis that triggered the current financial meltdown.

What this election tells us is that America voted for change because America is in the process of changing - not just demographically by becoming less white and more diverse, but as the result of a culture war in which western civilisation is losing out to a far-left agenda which has become mainstream, teaching American children to despise the founding values of their country and hijacking discourse by the minority power-grab of victim-culture.

The reaction of conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic to this undoubted change - not just in the US but in Britain too - shows the intellectual disarray caused by these profound developments. They say politicians must stop trying to hold the cultural line and go instead with the flow of change. In Britain, the Tory party has adopted this strategy. Now there are Republicans saying the same thing.

But John McCain is a Republican who does not fit the old template, who does subscribe to some of this `change' agenda on a number of issues. As a result, he was incapable of attacking Obama on the most important grounds of all: that he stood for values inimical to America's founding principles. When he did venture into this territory, it was half-cocked and far too late, appearing merely like the desperate throw of a loser. The reason he couldn't do it earlier was that he had no coherent platform of his own. So why vote for a muddled and erratic quasi-'progressive' when the real thing is a rock star?

It cannot be said too emphatically -- the Republicans lost this election. Obama ran a superbly disciplined campaign and he was an impressive candidate, particularly in his calm and stately demeanour throughout. The Republicans screwed up in government, they selected a hopelessly frail and erratic candidate, he ran a shambolic campaign. They deserved to lose.

So now we are promised a change in America's fundamental values. And they really will be changed. Obama has said in terms that he thinks the US constitution is flawed. America's belief in itself as defending individual liberty, truth and justice on behalf of the free world will now be expiated instead as its original sin. Those who have for the past eight years worked to bring down the America that defends and protects life and liberty are today ecstatic. They have stormed the very citadel on Pennsylvania Avenue itself.

Millions of Americans remain lion-hearted, decent, rational and sturdy. They find themselves today abandoned, horrified, deeply apprehensive for the future of their country and the free world. No longer the land of the free and the home of the brave; they must now look elsewhere.


Message To Conservatives: You Are Racists And Should Be Silenced

By Austin Hill, a Talk Show Host at Washington, DC's 630 WMAL Radio

For a while I thought it was just me. But in the final days leading up to the national election, I began to notice it on both local and national talk shows around the country. And now that we are a few days past Mr. Obama's election night victory, it seems quite clear: things have gotten more intense, not less. I'm writing here about the attacks that are being telephoned-in to conservative talk radio hosts around the country. I've noticed a consistent increase of people that I'll call "Obama enthusiasts" popping-up as callers on conservative talk shows, and no matter what the topic on the show may be, the assertions from the callers follow a predictable pattern.

The precise choice of words that the caller uses in their line of attack may vary, but the pattern essentially goes like this: A) The caller asserts to the host that "all you ever do is attack Barack Obama;" B) The caller then comes around to asserting to the host that "you are obviously a "racist" (or "you are a bigot," or "you think Black people are inferior to White people," or something of that sort); and then the caller concludes with C) "you should be removed from the `public airwaves'" (or some variation of the general sentiment that "you should just be silenced" or "you should shut-up").

Now let me be clear: I'm not complaining about this, not at all. In fact, I welcome it on my talk show at 630 WMAL radio in Washington, D.C. It's no secret that talk radio thrives in controversy, and conversely, a talk show can become boring if everyone is "in agreement" with the host.

But entertaining talk show content is one thing. And the broader implications of people's words outside of a talk show can be something different (I'm reminded here of the many times over the years that I've heard Rush say "words mean things"). And the implications, the "meaning," of the pattern that I've identified above, seems to be this: If you so much as question the President-elect, you are necessarily a "racist," and your voice should, therefore, be removed from the public square.

I must also add that, while the hostility I'm hearing on conservative talk radio is mostly directed at white, male hosts, it's not necessarily a "black against white" phenomena. For example, on my show last Friday while I was discussing Mr. Obama's remarks about the economy at his recent press conference, I received a call from "Roberto," a man with a Hispanic sounding accent in Arlington, VA. Roberto's opening salvo was to say that I was being "patronizing" by pronouncing his name with the traditional, Spanish "rolling R" sound.

Now, I grew up in Southern California surrounded by Spanish speakers, and I was taught by my "white Mom" that, as a matter of respect, I should speak Spanish as it was intended to be spoken, and NOT like a "gringo." But never mind that "respect" thing. As far as Roberto was concerned, I was simply offensive. And then, of course, the pattern kicked-in - - I was questioning the President-elect's remarks because I'm a racist, and therefore I should be silenced.

I've heard this rhetoric enough times, and on so many different talk shows in addition to my own, that I believe there is some organizational effort behind it. I'm not insinuating that the finger prints of our President-elect are on this, and the participants in this might be quite loosely organized, at best.

But there is a certain mindset, a certain philosophy that underlies this rhetoric, and it is becoming more widespread. It is the belief if you are not in lock-step with the President-elect's agenda, or if you merely dare to question it, you are obviously motivated by your hatred of ethnic minorities, and you have no place in the broad national debate. And it is an anathema to our freedoms under the First Amendment.

Conservative Americans in particular need to understand that in this new era, the rules have changed. And to understand this change, conservatives need to begin by reading "Rules For Radicals," a book published in 1971 by noted "community organizer" (and a man who is said to have influenced Mr. Obama) Saul Alinsky.

Column space is limited here, so you'll have to get a copy of the book for yourself. But consider this notion from Alinksy's rule #5: "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It's hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."

And consider this language from rule #11, wherein Alinsky suggests that the main job of a "community organizer" is to bait his opponent into reacting in a certain way: "The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength." Welcome to the new era.


"Campaign for Human Development": A charity that is a fraud on Catholics

The Campaign for Human Development (CHD) is an annual collection in parishes, usually on one of the last two Sundays in November. It used to be called the Catholic Campaign for Human Development but the Catholic was dropped, which is just as well since it has nothing to do with Catholicism, except that Catholics are asked to pay for it. Some bishops no longer allow the CHD collection in their dioceses, and more should not allow it. In fact, CHD, misbegotten in concept and corrupt in practice, should, at long last, be terminated.

Ten years ago, CHD was exposed as using the Catholic Church as a milk cow to fund organizations that frequently were actively working against the Church's mission, especially in their support of pro-abortion activities and politicians. Now it turns out that CHD has long been a major funder of ACORN, a national community agitation organization in support of leftist causes, including the abortion license.

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is under criminal investigation in several states. In the last decade CHD gave ACORN well over seven million dollars, including more than a million in the past year. It is acknowledged that ACORN, with which Sen. Obama had a close connection over the years, was a major player in his presidential campaign. The bishops say they are investigating the connection between CHD and ACORN. They say they are worried that it might jeopardize the Church's tax-exemption. No mention is made of abusing the trust of the Catholic faithful.

What most Catholics don't know, and what would likely astonish them, is that CHD very explicitly does not fund Catholic institutions and apostolates that work with the poor. Part of the thinking when it was established in the ideological climate of the 1960s is that Catholic concern for the poor would not be perceived as credible if CHD funded Catholic organizations.

Yes, that's bizarre, but the history of CHD is bizarre. The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you can return the envelope empty-and perhaps with a note of explanation-without the slightest moral hesitation.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, November 10, 2008

Prague, 1952: When Communists took over Nazism under the guise of antizionism

NOTE: There are a number of errors of detail in the excerpts below -- e.g. it is not Rancrac prison, but Pancrac and the Velvet Revolution refers to the overthrow of Communism in the winter of 1989 and has nothing to do with the peaceful split by Czechs and Slovaks in 2002. The broad point it makes seems of interest, however

At Rankrac prison, Prague, on December 4th 1952, 5 a.m, the prison gallows executed Rudolph Slansky, the last of the eleven high ranking mostly Jewish Czechoslovakian officials who were unjustly convicted in what came to be known as the Slansky or Prague Trial. Fifty years later in November 2002, one month before the "Velvet Revolution" that separated the Czech Republic from Slovakia, Rankrak prison hosted an international conference of 900 scholars, who attempted to understand the monstrosity of the process that had led to the Trial and the executions.

The Prague Trial remains diabolically shocking due to a multiplicity of factors; some such as the extortion of false confessions by moral and physical torture, were apparent in the 1930s Beria Trials as well as in the post WW2 Show Trials in communist Hungary and Bulgaria, vis-a-vis the independent tendencies of Tito's Yugoslavia; however, in contradistinction to these Show Trials, the Prague Trial was the first to frame and charge its defendants as agents of Zionism and the state of Israel. It stands alone as the first of its kind to camouflage anti-Semitism as anti-Zionist and anti-state-of-Israel, significantly, before the 1967 war, and without any reference to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It was the actual repertoire of the Goebbel's era, that was freely adapted into the Trial's pre-determined and dictated script, that the defendants, witnesses and prosecutors, rehearsed and then repeated during the court sessions, which were then broadcast daily on the country's radio. This pre-determined script recycled Hitleric anti-Semitic terms into the newly emerged communist Czechoslovakia, and post War-of-Independence democratic State of Israel.

The Trial's interchangeable and camouflaged `three ante-isms', although, devoid of any, or almost any, factual truth, proved, as intended by their deployers, absolutely credible and believable to the majority of the Czechoslovakian audience, accessed by the full blast of the country's media. Hence understanding the Trial, requires a thorough understanding of the use of its `three ante-isms': anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist and anti-State-of-Israel components, where, 1. As in Nazi Germany, being a Jew, or a Zionist or an Israeli is a crime in itself; and 2. Where the `three ante-isms' are not merely thematic to the Trial, but are the mechanism that due to its intrinsic popularity transforms the theme into a social and political reality.

The newsreels of the trial are chillingly effective, demonstrating clearly that the confessions are made under duress. The most prominent among the defendants, Rudolf Slansky, was identified in public documents along with ten others as "of Jewish origin." Slansky, a talented man, a good organizer, a tough political bureaucrat, (Meir Copic,, The Prague Trial - The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, Hertzel Press New York,. 1987, p. 28) had been the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia, a key figure in the anti-Nazi resistance in Slovakia and in the 1948 communist seizure of power in Czechoslovakia. His fiftieth birthday on 31.July 1951, just prior to his arrest on 24.November.1951, was celebrated as a national hero. Justman also interviewed Professor Eduard Goldstucker, the first Czech Ambassador to the United Nations, subsequently Ambassador to Israel, who was made a witness at the Trial and was later convicted and imprisoned after a second Show Trial.

Justman weaves the harrowing story from first-hand accounts by the defendants' widows and children. Sharp editing allows two voices to dominate. One is Heda Margolius Kovaly, widow of Rudolf Margolius, the talented former deputy minister of foreign trade, who having survived Auschwitz and Dachau camps, believed, idealistically in Communism as the antidote and remedy to fascism and anti-Semitism. The other is the voice of Lise London, whose husband, Artur London, also former deputy of foreign trade, later survived his hard labor sentence to publish (1968) the first major account of the period. Justman's documentary is as compelling for the painful details, as for the rigorous analysis that ties them together.

While the film "The Confession", based on Artur London's diary, was made in 1970, it took the end of Soviet dominance in Eastern Europe to invoke a serious public interest in the Prague Trial, in Czechoslovakia and in international academia.

In the immediate sense, the 2002 Rankrac Conference is indicative of efforts by post 1989 historians to assist Czech society in coming to terms with its past. Professor Bradley Abrams of Columbia University, who specializes in Czech history, was at the Rankrak conference and answered an interviewer "That maybe nothing ground breakingly new in a factual sense, no new information has come out particularly about the Slansky trial." (Interview with Dean Vuletic, Radio Praha, 26 May 2003)...

The BBC in a program about the Slansky Trial, attempted to find the origin of the fabrication. It played a recording of a speech broadcast by Goebbels in Germany in 1941, which served as a kind of justification to the mass murder of the Jews. Gobbels gave a description of a "secret meeting" in Washington at which the so-called Morgenthau Plan was drawn up - he said by order of the international Jewish capital. The BBC commented that the Prague regime lacked imagination if it needed to resort to Nazi propaganda. Indeed, the similarities between the Hitleric public expressions on Jews and Zionists and those of the Prague Trial are prevalent throughout.

As the arrests began, anti-Semitic manifestations appeared in parts of the country. Although the term "Zionist" was used, the man in the street automatically subsumed "Jew". In Bratislava graffiti "Jewish owned" appeared on Jewish homes, and slogans "out with the capitalists and the Jews". With Slansky's arrest there was an upsurge of anti-Semitism in the communist party proper. Party branches demanded to ban "citizens of Jewish origin" from party membership; and "to transfer Jews from office jobs to manual labor at which they will be able to prove their attitude to the regime" etc. (Cotic The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p. 232)

In Israel, Member of Knesset Eliezer Livneh (Mapai) lamented:

"What is happening these days has at once a global historical meaning and an immediate political one... The Cominform has become an openly anti-Semitic International. All the Jew hatred that was accumulated by Nazi propaganda has been blended anew in this trial, The Nazi spirit has come to life again. People who heard the German radio quoting from Prague in the German language thought that Ribbentrop and Goebbles, Goring and Streicher, had come back." (Cotic, The Prague Trial- The First Anti Zionist Trial in the Communist Bloc, p.186)

More here

The Islamist Role in the 2008 Canadian Elections

If you are Canadian and Islamist, you probably voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP), which won 18.2% of the vote on October 14, 2008. This was an increase in of about 1% in the vote and led to seven more seats from the 2006 elections. However, the party could not budge itself from its permanent 4th place in Canada's parliament. Endorsed by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), the left-leaning NDP has shown an incredible lack of understanding of the Islamist agenda and how soft jihadis are using democratic institutions by manipulating our respect for multiculturalism.

As a political ideology, in the long-term Islamism seeks to establish an Islamic state in the North America, but this is barely mentioned by the suave and polished young Islamists who appear in expensive suits and with a flourish of legalese and the right disarming accents. While a Taliban style overthrow is unlikely, in the short term, Islamists hope to fundamentally change western foreign policy in favor of the foreign governments that fund them and organizations they ideologically adhere to, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Recognizing this threat, Marc Lebuis, who runs "Point de Bascule", invited moderate Muslims Tarek Fatah, Salim Mansur and me to participate in a conference in Montreal to address the infiltration of Islamists into the Canadian political system, where the first real arena has been the NDP.

The NDP was founded by social democrats, and was originally, as noted by Mansur, a critical opponent of Communism, and a key element in "denying communists in Canada the opportunity to acquire any shred of legitimacy by posing as defenders of the working people." Today, however, it allows itself to be used by an equally potent ideological enemy, radical Islamism. The working class in the West now includes immigrants, who as ethnic and religious minorities complain of the classic oppression against which the NDP wishes to be a voice of protest.

But, the NDP fails to distinguish between the socio-economic concerns of Muslim immigrants in Canada and the well-funded, ideological organizations that purport to speak for them.

The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) is one such organization. The President of CIC, Mohammad El-Masry, is notorious for his anti-Semitic statements, his call for Sharia courts in Canada, and agitation for an anti-Israeli foreign policy.

Canadian Muslims mattered in this national election because they were, some argued, a swing vote in certain ridings. El-Masry endorsed the NDP, and encouraged voter registration to bolster it. Jack Layton should have repudiated Elmasry's support but did not.

Toronto NDP candidate and lawyer, El Farouk Khaki caused a stir recently when he defended a Muslim youth convicted for his involvement in a terrorist camp in Canada. After the judge threw out the youth's defense that "no real Toronto terrorist group existed because its goals were too fanciful to be achieved," Khaki stated that if you are Muslim in Canadian courts you will be presumed guilty until proven innocent. He went on to accuse the judge of having an anti-Muslim bias. This plays into the victimhood complex Islamists want Muslims in the West to fall into. Khaki was not chastised by NDP leader Jack Layton or any other party candidate.

In Montreal, the NDP paraded Samira Laouni, as "the first veiled candidate," in the province. She ran from the riding of Bourassa and made no attempt to hide her support for what she referred to as "real Shariah." She did not win. Jack Layton should have vetted out NDP candidates who favor Sharia like Laouni, whom Mansur has called a "CIC operative."

It seems strange that with Canadian forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the same support for Taliban style orthodoxy is allowed in Canada. Besides pro-Sharia politicians like Laouni, Islamists are spreading their message on the street. In Mississauga, Ontario, a woman by the name of Farhat Hashmi runs an Islamic school for girls. Hashmi wears a full niqab (face covering) and encourages young girls to emulate her. She is known for promoting a very conservative Islamic ideology that is based on Wahhabism. She, like other Islamists is in favor of Sharia in Canada.

The results of the Canadian election were an eye-opener because all Muslim candidates from all parties lost, with the exception of Yasmin Ratansi, who for some time has been trying to distance herself from her Muslim identity despite being the first Muslim woman to get elected to the Canadian parliament..

This is a clear indication that because of the incessant and unreasonable demands by Islamists, Canadians punished all Muslims. Most ordinary Canadians, well-meaning and decent folks, are fed up with demands for unreasonable accommodation and are no longer willing to put up with politics disguised as religion in the public sphere. Although Canadians are politically correct and diplomatic in public, the election result shows their true feeling about the trend that Muslims who may have an Islamist agenda are not welcome in Canada. Of course, the usual suspects are already screaming Islamophobia - again...

The lesson for all Muslims is written on the wall: If they are unwilling to stand up to the Islamists in their communities and stop the influence of Saudi Arabia and Iran, we will all suffer because of the actions of a few.


Judas bishops confronted

Anti-abortion Catholics from several Eastern states plan to pull the welcome mat out from under the U.S. bishops in Baltimore next week and replace it with protests alleging that the bishops did not take a strong enough stand against abortion during the election. The bishops' alleged inaction led to the election of Barack Obama as president, said Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue and organizer of the protests.

The demonstrations, expected to attract participants from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, are scheduled to take place outside the Marriott Waterfront hotel Sunday and Monday afternoons. The bishops are meeting there Monday-Wednesday during the annual fall meeting of their umbrella organization, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "A key factor in the election of Barack Obama was the silence of U.S. Catholic bishops," Terry said. "They had a duty to clearly and courageously defend the lives of unborn children. Most of them failed miserably. Their silence and cowardice over the last 12 months paved the way for Obama's victory, and will cost millions of innocent babies their lives."

Some protesters will wear Obama masks and carry signs proclaiming, "Bishops: Thank you for your silence!", Terry said in a news release Friday announcing the protest. Another poster will say, "Bishops: I couldn't have been elected without You!" And still other messages will be unveiled that day, Terry said.

During the run-up to the election, individual dioceses throughout the country based their programs on a statement the bishops approved during their 2007 fall meeting. That statement, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States," covered a range of topics, including abortion, violence in society, marriage issues, poverty, healthcare, immigration reform, and military force the bishops said Catholics should consider in choosing candidates.

Terry and many other advocates have criticized the statement for enveloping too many issues instead of focusing on abortion. He did so again Friday, branding the statement as "a disaster. It was used by every pro-abortion Catholic in the country to justify voting for Obama. "God have mercy on" the bishops, Terry said. "Let's hope they recognize the abject failure of 'Faithful Citizenship,' and formally abandon it, or radically rewrite it in a way that accurately reflects church teaching." A few bishops who took strong stands on the election, such as saying Catholics should not vote for candidates who support abortion, will be acknowledged and honored during the protests, Terry said.

After Obama was elected Tuesday, Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the USCCB, sent the president-elect a message on behalf of the bishops saying, "Our country is confronting many uncertainties. We pray that you will use the powers of your office to meet them with a special concern to defend the most vulnerable among us and heal the divisions in our country and our world. We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person."


Austrian TV pundit says black people 'are not civilised enough to rule'

An adverse reaction to Obama. It is true that Obama could be seen to discredit blacks in many ways -- with his extreme Leftist views, ignorance ("57 States" etc.) and malodorous associations. What is true of one black or even most blacks is not true of all blacks, however. Is this the forerunner of a process where Obama's deeds discredit black political candidates forevermore? Sad if so but Leftists might be pleased to have achieved their usual implicit aim of destruction

Austria's official state broadcaster is refusing to sack a senior political commentator who said blacks were not civilised enough to rule. Klaus Emmerich, the retired editor-in-chief of Austrian broadcaster ORF's news and current affairs service, is the station's top political commentator for U.S. affairs. Der Spiegel likened him to Wolf Blitzer, CNN's legendary political commentator. But covering the election in which Barack Obama was elected American president, Emmerich said: 'I do not want the western world being directed by a black man. And if you say this is a racist remark, I say you are damn right it is.'

Following his outburst, the moderator prevented Emmerich from speaking again. But Emmerich took an even harder line in newspaper interviews later, calling Mr Obama's victory 'a highly disturbing development' because 'blacks are not as far advanced in the civilisation process nor in their political progress'. He went on to tell Die Presse that Mr Obama has 'a devil-like talent to present his rhetoric so effectively'.

Emmerich, who has worked in the news for 61 years, made his incendiary remarks just five weeks after Austria drew international condemnation when two far-right parties won 29 per cent of the vote in national elections.

The row over his comments comes as Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was blasted for calling Mr Obama 'tanned', apparently in an inept attempt at humour. The 80-year-old pundit called Obama a 'talented man, but a branded man' - apparently referring to the president-elect's skin colour.

ORF bosses disassociated themselves from Emmerich's remarks but have refused to ban him from future work. They say they are still reviewing the situation. 'We have never had any comments from Mr. Emmerich which would indicate he has such opinions,' said Pius Strobl, head of communications at the channel.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bullies and thugs are born that way

What? It's not due to poverty?

Unusually aggressive youth may actually enjoy inflicting pain on others, research using brain scans at the University of Chicago shows.

Scans of the aggressive youth's brains showed that an area that is associated with rewards was highlighted when the youth watched a video clip of someone inflicting pain on another person. Youth without the unusually aggressive behavior did not have that response, the study showed. "This is the first time that fMRI scans have been used to study situations that could otherwise provoke empathy," said Jean Decety, Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. "This work will help us better understand ways to work with juveniles inclined to aggression and violence."

Decety is an internationally recognized expert on empathy and social neuroscience. The new research shows that some aggressive youths' natural empathetic impulse may be disrupted in ways that increase aggression.

The results are reported in the paper "Atypical Empathetic Responses in Adolescents with Aggressive Conduct Disorder: A functional MRI Investigation" in the current issue of the journal Biological Psychology. Benjamin Lahey, Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry at the University, co-authored the paper, along with University students Kalina Michaslska and Yuko Akitsuki. The National Science Foundation supported the work.

In the study, researchers compared eight 16- to 18-year-old boys with aggressive conduct disorder to a control group of adolescent boys with no unusual signs of aggression. The boys with the conduct disorder had exhibited disruptive behavior such as starting a fight, using a weapon and stealing after confronting a victim. The youth were tested with fMRI while looking at video clips in which people endured pain accidentally, such as when a heavy bowl was dropped on their hands, and intentionally, such as when a person stepped on another's foot.

"The aggressive youth activated the neural circuits underpinning pain processing to the same extent, and in some cases, even more so than the control participants without conduct disorder," Decety said. "Aggressive adolescents showed a specific and very strong activation of the amygdala and ventral striatum (an area that responds to feeling rewarded) when watching pain inflicted on others, which suggested that they enjoyed watching pain," he said.

Unlike the control group, the youth with conduct disorder did not activate the area of the brain involved in self-regulation (the medial prefrontal cortex and the temporoparietal junction). The control group acted similarly to youth in a study released earlier this year, in which Decety and his colleagues used fMRI scans to show 7- to 12-year-olds are naturally empathetic toward people in pain.


Children perform better if mother stays at home

There have been many studies (e.g here and here) showing that institutional childcare is harmful to all but the most deprived of preschool children so it is good to see more recognition of that

Babies should be looked after by their mothers in their first years of life, Tony Blair's favourite think tank signalled yesterday. It published research that admitted babies and toddlers sent for long hours in daycare learn less quickly, have worse health, and behave worse than other children. It also suggested that the children suffer because mothers who return home from work tired and unhappy are less able to give them the time and full attention they need.

The warnings over childcare published by the Institute for Public Policy Research suggest a dramatic rethink over working mothers and childcare at the heart of the Blairite establishment. Since 1997 Labour has poured billions into subsidising nurseries and childminders through the tax credit system, through direct daycare benefits, and through the troubled Sure Start project meant to help the neediest families. Persuading mothers to go back to work soon after their children are born has been a central plank of Mr Blair's 'project'.

Three years ago the Department of Trade and Industry - then headed by current Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt - published a paper describing those who do not return to jobs in the first two years after childbirth as a 'problem'. It said mothers who stayed at home were not giving the taxpayer a return on the cost of their education. Despite growing evidence from independent studies that full-time childcare can have harmful effects, new figures from the Education Department last week boasted proudly that a record number of more than 700,000 children now attend nurseries for more than four hours a day.

But two articles in the IPPR's journal said the children would be better off staying at home with their mothers. Psychologist and TV presenter Oliver James, who described himself as a 'reasonable left wing person', said he was sceptical about the drive for 'affordable childcare'.

He said: 'My proviso comes in when politicians, who have the evidence about how important early care is on children's development, decide that only people doing paid work are of any value and that there is a moral duty for us all to do a paid day's work. 'Trying to persuade parents of very young children, particularly single mothers, to leave them and go out to work, while not an unqualified no no, fails to recognise that somebody has got to be left holding the baby and that, on the whole, it is better if it is one of the child's biological parents up to the age of three.' Oliver James added: 'On the whole children who attend daycare under three are at greater risk of being aggressive. 'I am arguing for us to rediscover feminism. Let's actually have female emancipation and not the nonsense that we have got now. One part of that is definitely supporting women who do want to care for their children to be able to do so.'

A second article by US academic Janet Waldfogel told IPPR subscribers that in the first year after birth 'there are reasons to think that exclusive mother care would be best for a child.' She cited learning ability, health and social development as adversely affected for those who are in childcare before their first birthday. 'Across all three dimensions, with all things held equal, children tend to do worse if their mothers work in the first year of life,' she said. Children also did best if they lived in two-parent families, she added, in a view that conflicts with the Government's policy that claims all kinds of families are just as good as each other.

Both IPPR journal contributors said there should be 'costly' new public spending to pay salaries or give more time off work to new mothers. But critics of subsidised childcare said the best way to help mothers stay at home was to give tax breaks to help one-earner families. Jill Kirby of the centre-right think tank Centre for Policy Studies said: 'It is gradually dawning on the Government that they should do nothing more to penalise mothers who stay at home with their children. 'There is very strong evidence that childcare, and in particular the mass cheap childcare that Labour favours, is not in the best interests of young children. 'The way to help mothers is not to put even more burdens on taxpayers or employers, but to cut taxes for one earner, two parent families with young children. Tax breaks would ease the difficulties for families at the point of greatest pressure.'


'Absolute safety' is impossible and should be scrapped, says head of Royal Society for the Prevention of ACCIDENTS

The chief executive of one of Britain's biggest health and safety watchdogs has pleaded for a return to 'basic common sense'. Tom Mullarkey, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said people should be able to 'get on with' activities like walking or mowing their lawn themselves. His call for leniency to members of his watchdog follows a string of accusations that bureaucrats have attempted to eliminate all risk from all manner of pursuits to avoid costly lawsuits. The compensation culture has particularly affected children's activities, resulting in games of tag, football conkers and British bulldog being banned.

It has been revealed that Peter Miller, 88, who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Second World War and was captured during the retreat to Dunkirk, has been banned from carrying the banner of remembrance tomorrow - despite his wishes - because he has become frail and there would be a 'problem with insurance'. The health and safety axe has even come down on collecting firewood. Retired builder Mike Kamp was told earlier this year that he could no longer gather supplies in local woods for the stove at his cottage near Betwys-y-Coed, North Wales, because of the 'increasing constraints' of modern legislation.

Speaking at the charity's annual general meeting, Mr Mullarkey said the quest for 'absolute safety' was impossible and should be abandoned - and that health and safety officials should stop intervening unnecessarily in public life. Instead, he said information should be made available so people can decide for themselves whether to take part in a particular activity, by using their own judgement.

A change in mindset was needed to avoid accusations of Britain being a 'nanny state', he said. 'The application of common sense and balance is much more reasonable than the seeking of mindless increments towards 'absolute safety', a destination which is neither feasible nor, in all probability, desirable, since it would come at such cost to our freedoms,' he said. 'Accident prevention involves so many technical, legal and ethical issues, ultimately defining life and death, that there is no simple shorthand for explaining how the whole thing works for the benefit of the 60 million people who rely on it. 'Whether walking in the hills or mowing the lawn, people need to be able to get on with it themselves, ideally armed with the tools of knowledge and experience.'

He went on: 'In the middle is the tricky bit - where to draw the line between intervention and laissez-faire. 'This is typically the area where the media and the public become most incensed with what might be described as 'misplaced intervention'. 'Here is the crux - how to apply the proper balance of factors in order to exercise good judgement. 'Too prescriptive, and accusations resound of the 'nanny state' - too casual and people would undoubtedly be forced to take unknowing risks.'

Mr Mullarkey said there are areas where strict health and safety rules are needed - for example, in the nuclear, chemical or aviation industries. But in other areas of life, people should be provided with sufficient information to determine their own health and safety. In addition, he said health and safety officials should ask themselves basic questions before deciding to stop or curtail an individual's activity.

'At RoSPA, we draw the line with two simple questions,' he said. 'Is the intervention proportionate to the risk? And what would be the effect on others? 'Someone who puts only themselves at risk should have the freedom to do so; but if an act can kill or injure others, it must be proscribed or regulated. 'A solo mountain climber fits into the first category; a speeding motorist the second.'


A motoring program is politically correct Britain's safety valve

Such a crude, foul, atrocious, indefensible joke. And what a joy to hear it. Jeremy Clarkson's quip on Top Gear that a lorry driver's job amounts to "change gear, change gear, check your mirrors, murder a prostitute..." made me guffaw with relief that the BBC has not, despite the torches and pitchfork lunacy of last week, appointed some blue-pencilled Humour Tsar to deny Britain its filthy smirks.

Despite it being pre-recorded, the BBC still let it run, knowing that the smarting, exiled Ross-Brand fanbase could jack it up into a test of Ofcom: do the rules that silenced the Left-leaning, youthful, eye-linered edge apply equally to the pressed-jeaned, middle-aged mainstream? And presumably the BBC foresaw a crack about murdered women might provoke cries of misogyny, but could guess most of us were laughing at Clarkson giving Top Gear's legion of trucker fans a blithe kick in the nads.

Perhaps jokes like this will turn out to be the BBC's salvation. Last week, while abroad and thus slightly detached from the media mentalism, I heard Charles Moore on the Today programme coolly suggest that very soon people would simply refuse to pay their licence fees. It was a Voldemort moment. Dark forces were mustering. What was to stop ordinary citizens who were finally expressing their long-bottled moral distaste joining the BBC's ideological and commercial enemies in civil disobedience? Why hadn't some internet campaign popped up already - www.stuffauntie.com - getting people to pledge non-payment? What could the BBC or the Government do if 100,000, 500,000, a million households refused to fork out œ139.50, a merciless flat tax and no small sum to a recession-hit family?

There is a distinct type of defiant, individualistic Briton who would leap to this cause. The fuel-protesters, Eurosceptics, Countryside Alliance loyalists, the nation's hardy last-ditch smokers, the insouciant, hearty, bar-propping trans-fat munchers, and those bored half-crazy by always having to be good. The only programme guaranteeing their loyalty to the BBC, the only place they are heard at throaty full volume, is Top Gear.

While Hammond or May burble on about the spec of some supercar, check out the faces in the studio audience. Beaming and blissed-out. Women as well as men. Regular men, not just ugly, anoracked, classic-car nerds. Top Gear is a guilty pleasure for those, like me, who hate driving, who earnestly cycle and recycle, who own a clunky, uncool Renault Modus because it could cross the Andes on a teacup of lighter fuel.

For most of Top Gear's six million viewers the show is not really about cars at all. (We make tea during the technical blah.) Top Gear is about laughing, hard and long at three boy-men performing dangerous (in a carefully calibrated way), stupid, childish stunts like turning an MG midget into a yacht. Those who witter on that Clarkson driving a Lagonda too fast over the Alps encourages speeding or joyriding, or claim this petrol-headed insanity defies serious attempts to halt global warming, haven't watched Top Gear this century. It is not about the coolness of driving, but the manifest uncoolness of men who enjoy it too much.

Indeed Top Gear has become a societal safety valve: they drive lorries through brick walls, send a Robin Reliant into space, sip gin and tonic at the wheel or just go full throttle on an empty road, because we shouldn't or can't. It celebrates recklessness, a nose-thumbing at public bossiness or health & safety dictats, the schoolboyish impulse to shove fingers in sockets. Every time it snows and my son's school keeps children indoors in case anyone slips, whenever the binmen shove a card through my door chiding me for leaving a tin can in with the bottles or a passport controller tells me to carry my kids' birth certificates to prove I'm not a child trafficker, I too come over all Top Gear.

When the Conservatives were casting around for direction after the disaster of Michael Howard, I wondered why they did not look towards Top Gear. It is, after all, a well-spring of a natural, unforced British conservatism, since even the most collective-minded Leftie among us turns into a solitary get-out-my-way lone wolf behind a wheel. At its remotest fringes, the Top Gear tendency is the pale, weedy equivalent of the membership of America's National Rifle Association. But for the most part, it is largely tolerant and broadminded, even about such matters as gay marriage or immigration, as long as it is still guaranteed the right to make unsound jokes about them. Indeed, if Top Gear was a politican it would be Ken Clarke: plump, bibulous, cigar-smoking, jocular, pragmatic, forever putting sense before ideology.

But when the Tories chose David Cameron, an inoffensive, solar-panelled goody-goody, the Top Gear tendency found itself still stranded in political long-term parking. It is unimaginable for Dave to burn up Gambon corner in a "reasonably priced car". (Except maybe a Prius, which Top Gear would probably say is neither reasonably priced nor much of a car.) Indeed no party has the kind of rumbustious everyman with the chutzpah to carry it off. Which is a shame since watching a star streak around the race track is more revealing than any interview, exposing degrees of nervousness, timidity, courage, competitiveness and how often a person curses under pressure. Perhaps a race-off between Gordon, Dave and Nick before the next election could replace the usual yawnsome debates.

Top Gear celebrates our national gift for everyday badinage and the magnificent British trait of doing anything for a laugh. Visiting the Somme, I was told of Tommies going over the top of trenches while trying to kick footballs into German lines. The enemy thought them insane. Most of them died. It was very Top Gear.

British politics is currently so bleak and serious that we crave humorous distraction more than ever. Indeed the Brand-Ross affair seemed a self-created sideshow to take our minds off the economy. Meanwhile car sales tumbled last month, making Top Gear not less relevant but more necessary than ever. If recession turns to Depression it will make the political climate cruel, blaming, even violent. Impotent and frustrated, we're going to need to blow that safety valve. And better the release of a crude quip than something uglier and far more brutal.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Race and the vote for Obama

Comment from Australia

The crowds worshipping at Barack Obama's feet on Tuesday weren't crying tears of joy because the nation had just voted for his tax policy. The adoration of this US president-elect following his great victory isn't from voters ecstatic that the country's health system may now be reformed. And ABC Radio yesterday didn't joyously play the American national anthem because its commentators were all weepy to think the US economy would now be re-regulated.

To make what seems an obvious point, these tears, these hugs, this reverential celebration of Obama's win from Washington to Wagga Wagga have been unleashed by Americans voting for their first black president. Obama's triumph - inspiring even to his opponents - has been instantly hailed as a great healing. The racial divide that so shamefully scarred the country has at last been overcome.

But check the exit polls. That this election showed a nation overcoming its racism is a myth. But what a fine myth it is, which is why it's been adopted not just by the media, but by both sides of US politics. Obama preached it from the first line of his victory speech: "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer." John McCain was even more explicit in conceding defeat: "That (Obama) managed to (win) by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire . . . "Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth."

The Age summed up the mood more crudely in this headline: "Racial barriers fall as America looks to its great black hope." But did those barriers really fall? Was this result really a vote for America's black hope, offering healing? Or did voters simply back Obama, if reluctantly, for the usual pragmatic reasons that make voters choose one side over the stale other? I know. It seems even sacrilege to raise these questions, so powerful is the myth already of Obama the Healer. But check the exit polls of Tuesday's vote. They suggest - superficially, at least - that Obama didn't quite overcome racial divides, and may even have entrenched them.

Some 95 per cent of black voters backed the black guy against McCain, the white Republican. In the Democratic primaries it had been much the same, with as many as 90 per cent backing Obama against Hillary Clinton, the white Democrat. (If you're looking for a racist vote, start here.) Two-thirds of Latino and Asian voters chose Obama, too, but most whites stuck with McCain, 56 per cent giving the white guy their vote.

In fact, you could even blame that reluctance of whites to back Obama for making his win rather modest. Consider: Obama had twice the cash of McCain, most of the celebrity endorsements, and coverage from the media that was rarely short of fawning. He was also running against a very old and crippled man who came from the same party as George Bush, one of the most unpopular presidents in history, and had chosen as a running mate a woman the media damned as a moron and burned as a witch. Everything went Obama's way. Voters were already angry about the economy, the war in Iraq and the price of petrol, and tended to blame the lot on Bush. Then to stink up the Republican brand completely, just weeks from voting day, Wall St fell in a hole so deep that we're still waiting for the splash.

Given all that, and his near unanimous support from black voters, it's amazing Obama won by just 52.3 per cent to McCain's 46.4. What stopped him from winning huge? His race?

But even this picture, of the races lining up behind the men who most looked like them, is exaggerated and masks the real problem, which isn't really racism but culture. There isn't much evidence, in fact, that Obama shifted many votes because of his race, one way or the other. (His wins in the Democratic primaries are excepted.) Yes, 95 per cent of blacks voted for him, but that's only a bit up on the usual black vote for a Democrat candidate, (even if the turnout this year may have been greater). John Kerry got 88 per cent in 2004, and Al Gore in 2000 got 90 per cent.

Latinos likewise usually vote two to one for Democrats, and only gave Bush a higher vote in 2004 because he spoke Spanish and had worked hard for many years to win their trust. But with Republicans since cracking down on Latino illegal immigrants, Latino voters were always likely to get behind the Democrats again.

As for the whites, no Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 has ever won a majority of their votes. Obama this time did win over as many white voters as any of the past three Democrats, including Bill Clinton, and did better with poor whites, hurt by tough times, than did Kerry four years ago.

And now the pattern of this election - and the myth of Obama the Healer - becomes clearer. All racial groups swung towards Obama (the whites less so), but not so wildly as you'd expect with all that was going for him, despite his inexperience and past associations with extremists. What's more, the issue most in their minds was not race. Two-thirds of voters told exit polls the economy was their biggest issue - the strongest such result in two decades - and seven in 10 said the country was going in the wrong direction. Change is what Obama promised, and change is what they wanted. But a change in race politics? Obama never campaigned on that.

True, looking black, he didn't need to say more, and for some the mere fact of a black man running for candidate must have been exciting. Obama indeed got a swing from young white voters, so often fresh-faced idealists. But the change he symbolises in race politics may not be the change traditional black activists and race industry workers seek at all.

Obama's life story is of a man actually beyond race - more beyond it, indeed, than are many who now cheer his win so frantically. He may be black, but he was just two when his Kenyan father shot through, and was brought up by his white mother and white grandparents, mostly in Indonesia and Hawaii, far from African-American suburbs. He later tried to find a black identity, going for two decades to a militantly black Chicago church, but he would know well what a fraud it is to divide each other by race, and to negotiate as if we belonged to separate tribes.

That's what makes him such a relief to many whites, who'd rather feel good than guilty, and are so grateful to a black man who doesn't scold them. But that's also what makes him a challenge to many African-Americans, many of whom have grown up in a culture of victimhood and entitlement, and too often see government as the solution to problems no government on its own could ever fix.

Three statistics alone will show that what really divides the US is not racism but culture: 50 per cent of black children drop out; almost 70 per cent don't have dad at home; and blacks commit half America's murders. The trouble is it's easier to demand help than to find your own feet, and it's not for nothing that blacks so overwhelmingly vote Democrat, which has long played to identity politics, handout dependency and the dead-end culture of grievance.

But what has given Obama his astonishing success is none of that old-style race politics. He's not into grievance but sweat. He has succeeded by studying hard, working hard, thinking hard - values he took from his Midwestern mother. And in his victory speech he quoted most a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, also from Illinois, and praised his "values of self-reliance, individual liberty". He called not for great new government programs, but "a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder".

He's right, of course. The racial divide in America was not healed by a simple vote last Tuesday, even had that been what the voters intended. That divide will stay until there is above all a cultural change within African-American society - a change that will have kids growing up with dutiful fathers at home. That will have them finishing school and getting the learning, confidence and sense of responsibility that will help them to make a career. A life.

What must change is culture, and there Obama's work has yet to begin. All he has done is offer the shining example that anything is possible in America. A black man may be president, because the system does work, and if a man fails we might look closer to home for the reasons. But praise the myth. Admire Obama. We need heroes, so hold him up as the inspiration to at last look beyond race to character. Yet, do not forget the system worked already, and Obama merely proved it. It is America, as much as Obama, that deserves this great praise.


Obama's Post-Racial Promise

By Shelby Steele

For the first time in human history, a largely white nation has elected a black man to be its paramount leader. And the cultural meaning of this unprecedented convergence of dark skin and ultimate power will likely become -- at least for a time -- a national obsession. In fact, the Obama presidency will always be read as an allegory. Already we are as curious about the cultural significance of his victory as we are about its political significance.

Does his victory mean that America is now officially beyond racism? Does it finally complete the work of the civil rights movement so that racism is at last dismissible as an explanation of black difficulty? Can the good Revs. Jackson and Sharpton now safely retire to the seashore? Will the Obama victory dispel the twin stigmas that have tormented black and white Americans for so long -- that blacks are inherently inferior and whites inherently racist? Doesn't a black in the Oval Office put the lie to both black inferiority and white racism? Doesn't it imply a "post-racial" America? And shouldn't those of us -- white and black -- who did not vote for Mr. Obama take pride in what his victory says about our culture even as we mourn our political loss?

Answering no to such questions is like saying no to any idealism; it seems callow. How could a decent person not hope for all these possibilities, or not give America credit for electing its first black president? And yet an element of Barack Obama's success was always his use of the idealism implied in these questions as political muscle. His talent was to project an idealized vision of a post-racial America -- and then to have that vision define political decency. Thus, a failure to support Obama politically implied a failure of decency.

Obama's special charisma -- since his famous 2004 convention speech -- always came much more from the racial idealism he embodied than from his political ideas. In fact, this was his only true political originality. On the level of public policy, he was quite unremarkable. His economics were the redistributive axioms of old-fashioned Keynesianism; his social thought was recycled Great Society. But all this policy boilerplate was freshened up -- given an air of "change" -- by the dreamy post-racial and post-ideological kitsch he dressed it in.

This worked politically for Obama because it tapped into a deep longing in American life -- the longing on the part of whites to escape the stigma of racism. In running for the presidency -- and presenting himself to a majority white nation -- Obama knew intuitively that he was dealing with a stigmatized people. He knew whites were stigmatized as being prejudiced, and that they hated this situation and literally longed for ways to disprove the stigma.

Obama is what I have called a "bargainer" -- a black who says to whites, "I will never presume that you are racist if you will not hold my race against me." Whites become enthralled with bargainers out of gratitude for the presumption of innocence they offer. Bargainers relieve their anxiety about being white and, for this gift of trust, bargainers are often rewarded with a kind of halo.

Obama's post-racial idealism told whites the one thing they most wanted to hear: America had essentially contained the evil of racism to the point at which it was no longer a serious barrier to black advancement. Thus, whites became enchanted enough with Obama to become his political base. It was Iowa -- 95% white -- that made him a contender. Blacks came his way only after he won enough white voters to be a plausible candidate.

Of course, it is true that white America has made great progress in curbing racism over the last 40 years. I believe, for example, that Colin Powell might well have been elected president in 1996 had he run against a then rather weak Bill Clinton. It is exactly because America has made such dramatic racial progress that whites today chafe so under the racist stigma. So I don't think whites really want change from Obama as much as they want documentation of change that has already occurred. They want him in the White House first of all as evidence, certification and recognition.

But there is an inherent contradiction in all this. When whites -- especially today's younger generation -- proudly support Obama for his post-racialism, they unwittingly embrace race as their primary motivation. They think and act racially, not post-racially. The point is that a post-racial society is a bargainer's ploy: It seduces whites with a vision of their racial innocence precisely to coerce them into acting out of a racial motivation. A real post-racialist could not be bargained with and would not care about displaying or documenting his racial innocence. Such a person would evaluate Obama politically rather than culturally.

Certainly things other than bargaining account for Obama's victory. He was a talented campaigner. He was reassuringly articulate on many issues -- a quality that Americans now long for in a president. And, in these last weeks, he was clearly pushed over the top by the economic terrors that beset the nation. But it was the peculiar cultural manipulation of racial bargaining that brought him to the political dance. It inflated him as a candidate, and it may well inflate him as a president.

There is nothing to suggest that Obama will lead America into true post-racialism. His campaign style revealed a tweaker of the status quo, not a revolutionary. Culturally and racially, he is likely to leave America pretty much where he found her.

But what about black Americans? Won't an Obama presidency at last lead us across a centuries-old gulf of alienation into the recognition that America really is our country? Might this milestone not infuse black America with a new American nationalism? And wouldn't this be revolutionary in itself? Like most Americans, I would love to see an Obama presidency nudge things in this direction. But the larger reality is the profound disparity between black and white Americans that will persist even under the glow of an Obama presidency. The black illegitimacy rate remains at 70%. Blacks did worse on the SAT in 2000 than in 1990. Fifty-five percent of all federal prisoners are black, though we are only 13% of the population. The academic achievement gap between blacks and whites persists even for the black middle class. All this disparity will continue to accuse blacks of inferiority and whites of racism -- thus refueling our racial politics -- despite the level of melanin in the president's skin.

The torture of racial conflict in America periodically spits up a new faith that idealism can help us "overcome" -- America's favorite racial word. If we can just have the right inspiration, a heroic role model, a symbolism of hope, a new sense of possibility. It is an American cultural habit to endure our racial tensions by periodically alighting on little islands of fresh hope and idealism. But true reform, like the civil rights victories of the '60s, never happens until people become exhausted with their suffering. Then they don't care who the president is.

Presidents follow the culture; they don't lead it. I hope for a competent president.


Nasty British bureaucrats again

Street market inspectors were ordered to target a convicted "metric martyr" and his sister while ignoring other traders working in pounds and ounces because council officers wanted to "teach them a lesson"

Three former Hackney Council inspectors have told how they were instructed to single out Colin Hunt, 60 - one of the original metric martyrs - and his sister, Janet Devers, 64, for "enforcement action" because the pair had campaigned against the ban on imperial measurements. One ex-inspector, who worked for Hackney for four years, said: "The manager told us that we had to teach Janet and Colin a lesson and focus our enforcement efforts on them rather than any other traders who used imperial measures or sold goods by the bowl. We knew it wasn't fair, but if we objected the managers just said we should do as we were told. They made it clear that we had to pick on Janet and Colin even though they are good traders with a long history in the market."

Mr Hunt was convicted of using imperial measures in 2001 and fought an unsuccessful High Court battle on the issue in 2002. Mrs Devers was last month convicted on eight similar charges by Thames magistrates last month - a case that prompted the Government to announce new guidelines that would effectively ban such prosecutions for "essentially minor offences". However, the use of imperial weights remains technically illegal.

The Sunday Telegraph is now campaigning for a change in the law, to ensure that retailers are allowed to sell food in pounds and ounces. The campaign has been backed by a wide range of public figures, including former Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit, explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and the actor Edward Fox.

Mrs Devers, who faces three further charges at Snaresbrook Crown Court in January, lodged an appeal against her convictions last week.

Another former inspector, Mohammed Serdouk, who monitored the Ridley Road market, in east London, said his bosses had ordered him to impose regulations and bylaws on Mr Hunt "many times, to the point that it made me feel he was particularly singled out to the point of harassment and making an example of him." Mr Serdouk has now written a letter to the family, offering support, in which he wrote: "The application of these measures and the way they were carried out was unwarranted, needlessly unproductive and detrimental to the spirit of collaboration. "I am certain that if those measures were applied across the market, without victims, Mr Hunt would be a supporter and advocate in bettering the situation in Ridley Road market." The letter may be used as a witness statement in any future court hearings.

Another former inspector, who left the council earlier this year, told this newspaper: "Colin Hunt and Janet Devers were definitely the focus of the council's enforcement action in Ridley Road market. It was made clear to me that they were on the radar and we should keep a close eye on them." In his letter of support for Mr Hunt, he added: "My immediate managers singled out Mr Hunt and directed market inspectors to pay particular attention to him by way of taking enforcement action against him. "I feel Mr Hunt has certainly not received fair treatment and this is certainly not in the true spirit of the council's policy in working with traders and the traders association."

Mrs Devers, whose family have run market stalls in east London for more than 70 years, said: "We always suspected that we were being targeted by the council and these revelations show that we were right. The inspectors were told to make our lives difficult. "It's absolutely disgraceful. Thousands of market traders all over the country are doing the same thing as us and yet we were the ones who were prosecuted. "There are far more serious problems at Ridley Road market and elsewhere in Hackney but the council decides to waste taxpayers' money prosecuting people for weighing vegetables in pounds and ounces and selling goods by the bowl - something the Government now says councils shouldn't do."

Mr Hunt said: "I have been the target of these enforcement visits for seven years and in the past 18 months they have gone for my sister Janet as well. No other traders have been targeted in this way."

Neil Herron, director of the Metric Martyrs campaign which is also fighting for a change in the law to make it legal to sell good in pounds and ounces, said: "We thought it was more than coincidence that two of the five metric martyrs who have been prosecuted were from the same market and just happened to be brother and sister. "Now we know it is more than coincidence - and the evidence has come from the very inspectors who were ordered to be on the front line of the campaign against Janet and Colin." Mr Herron called for "a full internal inquiry into exactly what went on at Hackney council trading standards".

A spokesman for Hackney council said: "Trading Standards have taken formal action against 10 traders on Ridley Road Market for similar offences of deliberately omitting prices and quantities on produce. "The punishments have ranged from simple cautions to prosecutions where fines and costs have been awarded." The spokesman declined to comment on Mrs Devers' appeal.


A perfect day to blow up the nanny state

The cost of protecting children from death is too high when it means that millions lose the chance of enjoying themselves

No one knows who the stupidest parent in Australia is. But, whoever he is, the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau (AASB) has saved his child from a fatal car accident. It did this last year by banning a television advertisement that shows a toddler in nappies driving a four-wheel-drive Hyundai. The AASB deemed the image too dangerous to broadcast. Upon seeing it, Australia's dumbest parent may be inclined to toss his two-year-old the car keys and ask her to pop down the shops for some ciggies.

The commercial was made in New Zealand, where it had already run for many months. Surveys revealed it to be the most popular in the country and, as yet, no toddler has been found out and about in charge of the family car. The AASB, however, was unimpressed by this evidence. After all, the stupidest Australian is surely stupider than the stupidest New Zealander, if only because there are five times as many Australians to choose from. In a population of 20million, there just might be a child saved by this ruling.

Nevertheless, the ruling was wrong. The AASB should have let the child die. It is worth it for the fun of watching an amusing advert. Some will find the idea of sacrificing a child for the sake of a little entertainment objectionable. But it is not a little entertainment. When millions of people are entertained a little, that is a lot of entertainment - easily worth the life of a child.

"No amount of entertainment is worth the life of a child!" This is perfect political rhetoric, guaranteed to get the Question Time studio audience clapping their support. But it also explains why that same audience is beset by so much "nanny state gone mad" regulation. What's more, it is wrong. Anyone who thinks that no amount entertainment is worth the life of a child either overvalues children or undervalues entertainment.

Start with children. How much is it worth spending to save one? The precise amount is not as important as taking the question seriously. Children are not priceless. In a world of limited resources, nothing is. Any money spent on saving a child is money not spent on something else, including saving other children. Above a certain price, saving a child does more harm than good; the money would be better spent on something else.

The Government agrees, not just about children but about people generally. For example, when deciding whether or not to spend money on improving the safety of Britain's roads, it uses a "value of a statistical life" of about o1.5million. If a road improvement that would save only one person costs more than this, the Department for Transport prefers to let him die. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) uses similar reasoning to decide which medical treatments should be offered through the NHS. If a treatment costs more than it is worth in "quality adjusted life years", we do not get it. If the price is right, nanny is rightly willing to sacrifice her children. She is overprotective not because she cares too much for our lives, but because she cares too little for our fun.

Take fireworks. In 1997 our representatives banned the mini sky rockets and erratic flight fireworks that I used to spend my pocket money on. And in 2004 they made it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 either to buy fireworks or to possess them in a public place. What is the cost of this regulation in lost fun? If my well spent youth is any indication, the cost is enormous. I adored early November: buying the fireworks, hoarding them in my bedroom armoury and then letting them off on Guy Fawkes Night, often in public places. More fun than Christmas, and far better than the pansyish nonsense that passes for entertainment these days, such as watching "reality" on TV.

I would gladly pay $200 more for this forbidden fun than for the watered-down version that the Government now allows children. If only a million British children (10 per cent of them) would enjoy it equally, our fireworks legislation costs $200 million a year in lost fun. Is it worth more than this in reduced death and injury? In the five years before the 1997 legislation, fireworks killed one person a year and injured 1,500. Most fireworks injuries are minor, but let us be generous and say that the average injury was the kind that you would be willing to spend $20,000 to avoid. If the legislation halved the number of injuries and avoided every death, that is a benefit of only $18 million a year.

Let us not dwell on the numbers. The problem is not one of precision. Our regulators do not even try to calculate the value of the fun they forbid. When they banned adults from taking more than two children to a public swimming pool, did they calculate the cost in enjoyable outings that children will miss? When they outlawed Ecstasy, did they take account of the ecstasy that law-abiding citizens would be denied?

We have only nanny's inconsistency to thank that skiing, rugby, oral sex and all the other risks we take for the sake of pleasure are not illegal. But we cannot rely on inconsistency, especially when the regulatory trend is so clear. We need legislators who recognise that joyless immortality is neither possible nor desirable, and who can hold their nerve even when confronted with dead children.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Friday, November 07, 2008

Horrible British social workers lose for once

But only after a very expensive appeal to the High Court

A couple prevented from adopting a baby girl because they once slapped another child for swearing won a court's backing today when a judge branded the ban 'bizarre'. The 'caring and sensitive' couple had been told by a council they could not take in the half-sister of a little boy they adopted five years ago. Social workers cited the adoptive father's 'attitude to corporal punishment' after he revealed in adoption interviews he had once smacked the boy, now seven, for swearing.

But the couple, named only as Mr and Mrs A, today succeeded in their High Court bid to force Newham Council, in East London, to reconsider. It means they could yet be allowed to adopt the girl, known as K, and unite the siblings.

Outside the court, the couple said: 'We are absolutely delighted by today's outcome. 'We will continue our fight to adopt K but this was an important hurdle to overcome. 'For us, this case is not about smacking but people being treated in the correct way by their local authorities.'

Mr and Mrs A, aged 48 and 49, returned to their smart semi-detached Victorian house. They said they were unable to elaborate on their feelings as the adoption decision was still in Newham Council's hands.

The Mail Online understands the couple became foster parents, taking in a dozen children over the years, after failing to conceive using IVF treatment. In 2003 they decided to adopt a young boy - and despite a lack of support from Newham Council, eventually won permission. Because they ensured the youngster maintained contact with his natural family, Mr and Mrs A learned in 2006 his real mother had given birth to a girl, now two, who was put in care. They felt it would be ideal if she could be raised with her brother.

An initial report by an independent social worker approved the couple's application - but this was rejected after the father told of the smacking incident. A review panel then backed the parents, calling them 'strong, caring, sensitive, supportive and resourceful'. But Newham Council's senior social services executive, Jenny Dibsdall, simply dismissed the panel's findings. She said: 'Mr A does not appear to accept that corporal punishment should not be used. Such indications would normally mean an adoption application would be refused.' But ordering a re-hearing today, Mr Justice Bennett said this reasoning was 'unreasonable', 'bordering on the bizarre' and 'in dangerous territory'.

The couple's solicitor Katy Rensten said: 'The court quashed the decision of the local authority that they were not suitable to adopt - and now it goes back to the local authority to have another look at it.'

A neighbour of the couple described the boy and his foster siblings. She said: 'They are extremely polite. It's obvious they come from a very good family who go to great lengths to love them and raise them correctly. 'They are very good parents and I do not think there is anything wrong with disciplining children reasonably. 'They have very thin walls and I would hear very clearly if anything had gone too far.'

Newham Council director Kim Bromley-Derry said: 'As a result of today's decision we will be making a fresh decision as to whether Mr and Mrs A are suitable to adopt, and if so whether a further assessment is needed. We will do this as quickly as possible.


Sign of the times - we're turning into robots

Take a look around: our overmanaged, system-crazy, authoritarian society is destroying common sense and initiative

By Libby Purves in Britain

I must apologise to fellow passengers on the 0731 from Newton Abbot. I may have snorted. I know I laughed, out loud and suddenly, in the dozing carriage. This outburst of joy was occasioned by the report of a Welsh road sign near an Asda. It said: "No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only."

At least, that is what it says in English. The compulsory Welsh translation underneath, following an e-mail query to the local authority's in-house translation service, actually says: "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated." Which is "Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw waith l'w gyfieithu". Obviously, it should have said "Na chofnodiad achos 'n drwm da vehicles. residential safle ond".

Or should it? I got that translation of the correct message from an internet translation service, but when I fed it back in the other way round, it emerged as "I do entry because heartburn drum good vehicles. residential position except". So I then reversed the translation of the actual Welsh out-of-office message, and that returned "Bit I am being crookedly in the office at this time..." You can see why the council needs in-house translators. Even if they are so piously, humourlessly Welsh-speaking that they don't put their out-of-office responses into both languages.

But it was not the mere Hoffnung phrasebook joke which slew me. I saw with beautiful clarity the implications of what happened. Plainly, nobody in the traffic department that commissioned the sign spoke any Welsh (or they would have wondered why the second sentence was an incongruous length and lacked familiar words). Nor did anybody, at any stage of the proofing and manufacturing process involving non-retroreflective glass bead technology, aluminium sheeting and BS 873 standard lettering compliant with Highways Sector Scheme 9A, raise a query. Nobody: not a word of Welsh between them. And more importantly, not a flicker of curiosity.

And don't tell me the sign was made by ignorant English people, because there are at least three Welsh firms that make road signs. I cannot believe that a Welsh council would send work elsewhere. Basically, nobody gave a damn, including the workmen who put it up. The first to spot it were readers of a Welsh-language magazine, the editor of which sorrowfully says it is not a first. Cyclists between Cardiff and Penarth were baffled by a sign, the Welsh text of which warned of "an inflamed bladder". A pedestrian sign in Cardiff briefly said "look right" in English and "look left" in Welsh. A school in Wrexham had "staff" translated as "wooden staves". In all these cases, great chains of personnel must have let it all through.

Look, I have nothing against efforts to preserve the Welsh language. It is beautiful, heartstoppingly so when spoken mellifluously by my friend Mari, or recited as poetry. I applaud its being taught in Welsh schools (though the results seem dubious, given this debacle). And if the Welsh Assembly feels strongly that signs should be in both languages, even if nobody actually needs them to be, I defend their democratically endorsed decision to the last bewildering consonant. Anyway, as a visitor I rather like having the Service area beyond the Severn Bridge announce itself as a Gwasanaethau, and often make spirited attempts to pronounce it. It adds exoticism to a long journey.

No: the real hilarity of the road sign affair is that it is so beautifully typical of modern life in an overmanaged, system-crazy, authoritarian society where regulation and routine either deaden common sense and initiative, or frighten it into silence. On the same train where I spluttered helplessly over the Welsh sign, the usual announcement kept telling passengers not to leave any luggage unattended "at any time". Passengers heading for the lavatory or the buffet, however, were not hefting giant half-term suitcases and rucksacks, nor did anyone expect them to. Another safety-conscious announcement warned us to remain in our seats until the train came to a complete halt at Paddington. But if passengers getting off at Slough took this "safety" advice they would never all make it to the door with their baggage before the train shot off again. [So true!]

Look wider: it is all around you, this robotic senselessness. A village playgroup may not employ a granny well known to everybody these 50 years until she has waited weeks for a formulaic, expensive vetting certificate from the lumbering machinery of Capita's Criminal Records Bureau. Even so, if she then wants to help the Sea Scouts with their dinghies she'll need a whole new check. A small-town bank manager who has known a pensioner for 30 years still has to put him through cumbersome "anti-money-laundering" procedures to open an ISA. Doorkeepers in office buildings who have seen staff members a hundred times must make them wait for an escort if their ID card fails to bleep.

Elsewhere, a Marks & Spencer staff member refuses to speak to a small child's mother about a faulty Superman outfit because "data protection law" insists they deal with the owner. A pair of evangelists get warned off by a Community Support Officer because Christianity constitutes "hate crime in a Muslim area". A builder gets fined 30 pounds for smoking in his own private van. In those last three cases, jobsworths actually got the law wrong. But so cowed and confused do you get when you work in a huge unwieldy system, so used to not being trusted to blow your own nose without "guidelines", that these things are bound to happen. Thus somebody in a Welsh transport department thinks: "It has to be in Welsh, that stuff looks like Welsh, OK, it doesn't look as if it's about lorries, but better not query it."

It is all about the fear of stepping out of the groove, making an independent decision or asking an intelligent question. People are not naturally like that. It is fiddly systems and unimaginative management that make them that way. So employees, strike out! Ask questions beginning with "why?" at least once a day. Point out that, even if the emperor does have clothes, they're on inside out.

Incidentally, the Welsh for "the emperor has no clothes" is "r hymerawdwr has na ddillad". Only, when I reversed that again, it came out as "Group emperor ace I do garments". See? You can't trust everything that comes out of your computer. Or your rule book.


How America is like a decaying monastery

The walls are ancient, massive, and seemingly impenetrable. Built over centuries, stone by stone, they allowed those who lived within them to largely forget their existence. Their security was a given, their maintenance deemed unnecessary, the once-white radiance which glimmered from afar now pockmarked and pummeled, the mortar crumbling but unnoticed by those thus protected. The ramparts stand lightly guarded now, for few found the siege of small hideous men a threat - and many envied their crazed passions from atop the high walls, where sanctuary seemed like slavery and chaos freedom.

Those few who sounded the alarm went unheeded, for the massive stones which tumbled and thundered to earth were lightly regarded, the trembling of the ground at their impact ignored lest it disturb the revelry within. The city has been infiltrated, not with shock troops but with trollops, its defenders lying naked in the embrace of whores. The breach is imminent - yet the city sleeps, its shops shuttered, its currency squandered, its treasury depleted, its armies far abroad fighting fearlessly a war no one notices for a cause long forgotten.

The light streaming through the now-breached walls most surely represents change - and just as surely brings not hope, but new horrors.

We have been engaged for some decades in what is often called a "culture war." It is in truth far more than that - far more than simply clashing preferences or soft values at variance, more than red versus blue, big government versus small, professors versus plumbers, city versus rural. It is at its core warfare in a different dimension, in a realm we understand poorly if at all. It rages in the realm of philosophy, or perhaps more precisely, in the realm of spirit.

The increasingly-likely presidency of Barack Obama - teamed with a entrenched, empowered, and intractably secular and liberal Congress - portends a tectonic shift in these cultural clashes, with profound changes looming for those who battle to preserve and advance the causes of traditional morality, respect for life, and religious values. In addition to changes in the political landscape which may prove every bit as drastic (and destructive) as the New Deal, two recent essays peer through the looking glass, not toward this impending change in the socio-political landscape, but rather toward the ethical and moral morass into which we are about to be thrust. The view through the glass is sobering, to say the least.

Richard John Neuhaus, writing in First Things, takes a look at the culture wars and the courts in Obama, Abortion, and the Courts:
We are two nations: one concentrated on rights and laws, the other on rights and wrongs; one radically individualistic and dedicated to the actualized self, the other communal and invoking the common good; one viewing law as the instrument of the will to power and license, the other affirming an objective moral order reflected in a Constitution to which we are obliged; one given to private satisfaction, the other to familial responsibility; one typically secular, the other typically religious; one elitist, the other populist.

No other question cuts so close to the heart of the culture wars as the question of abortion. The abortion debate is about more than abortion. It is about the nature of human life and community. It is about whether rights are the product of human assertion or the gift of "Nature and Nature's God." It is about euthanasia, eugenic engineering, and the protection of the radically handicapped. But the abortion debate is most inescapably about abortion. In that debate, the Supreme Court has again and again, beginning with the Roe and Doe decisions of 1973, gambled its authority, and with it our constitutional order, by coming down on one side.

The result is the Court's clear declaration of belligerency on one side of the culture wars, endorsing the radically individualistic concept of the self-constituted self.
In like manner, Robert George at Public Discourse paints an even gloomier prognosis on the future of the defense and protection of human life based on Senator Obama's own legislative history:
Obama's Abortion Extremism

What kind of America do we want our beloved nation to be? Barack Obama's America is one in which being human just isn't enough to warrant care and protection. It is an America where the unborn may legitimately be killed without legal restriction, even by the grisly practice of partial-birth abortion. It is an America where a baby who survives abortion is not even entitled to comfort care as she dies on a stainless steel table or in a soiled linen bin. It is a nation in which some members of the human family are regarded as inferior and others superior in fundamental dignity and rights. In Obama's America, public policy would make a mockery of the great constitutional principle of the equal protection of the law.
Grim prospects, these - and surely discouraging to those who mourn over our nation's growing embrace of a culture of hedonism and death. It is difficult not to grieve over a nation so increasingly lost that it seeks salvation in soothing words while embracing that which destroys it.

Yet I have sensed for some time that we have been fighting the wrong war in the wrong way in such matters. We have massed troops and sent them heroically into the hardened defenses and machine gun nests of an entrenched secular culture. We have protested at abortion clinics; spent millions to defeat laws and propositions to legalize euthanasia, or prostitution, or gay marriage; elected pro-life candidates who too quickly compromise, or leave office shortly after discovering the futility of changing a corrupt and co-opted political culture. We have filled the radio airwaves and internet blogs with billions of words to protest activist judges and the politicians who appoint them, or expose the hypocrisy of politicians who "personally" oppose abortion as "faithful" members of their church while voting in lockstep for every abortion right - even infanticide.

Yet we have, for all our screeds and screeching, changed little - and been unwilling to change that which is most important: ourselves. We rant against the soft porn and profanity of what passes for TV entertainment - but our TV sets stay on. We abhor Hollywood, but go to their movies, obsessing about their empty hedonism while faithfully reading People and Us and Vanity Fair. We decry our materialistic age while filling our lives with costly toys and glittering bangles, as our credit cards threaten to crush and devour us. We criticize our sinful culture but never mention sin in our churches. We hate our corrupt and compromised politicians - then vote them right back into office, showing our sophistication and nuance on political issues. We resist and deplore the aggressive pro-gay agenda in politics, culture, and education - but never befriend the gay man or woman, nor learn to humbly love nor embrace the wounded soul thus enslaved. We split our churches into a million denominations, self-righteously hating those heretic Catholics, or Protestants, or charismatics, or fundamentalists, as is our wont - while fully embracing a culture which will not be content until we are all silenced and destroyed.

In ages past, the church responded to a decaying culture - violent, decadent, pagan, hopeless -by separation, drawing itself apart from a lost and self-destructive world. The monastic movement sought dissociation in order to focus on that which truly mattered, to reject the sound and fury which invariably accompanies the hollow hopelessness of men hiding from the harsh light of truth, who ridicule the eternal while reaping its rebuke. It is perhaps no accident that monasticism prospered most after the church fully embraced the corrupt culture, emerging from centuries of isolation, exclusion, and persecution to embrace the harlot in the person of Emperor Constantine. The church became wealthy, and powerful, and fashionable, and favored - and thereby lost the passion for purity, and humility, and sacrifice, and personal holiness which had been its hallmark in its first three centuries. Yet men yearned for that which is eternal, and sacrificed the comforts of culture for the discipline of devotion.

It is, I sense, time to revisit these truths and this history, to ask ourselves if we have benefited our culture and country by fighting its wars on the battlefields of its choosing. Is it not time to consider whether we, too, should draw back, not in defeat but in strength, and fight this war - and it is most certainly a deadly combat - on grounds where it must be fought, in the hearts of men - starting with ourselves. Perhaps it is time - well past time, even - to begin our pilgrimage away from a lost culture which has embraced the delusion that we control our own destinies, that our pleasures and profits will makes us happy, that freedom and peace may be had by embracing selfishness and slavery. The monastery we must seek is not some sacred sanctuary, some pastoral refuge of stone in a land far away. Our world is not the world of centuries ago; we cannot cloister ourselves in some lonely enclave, distanced and detached from debauchery and decadence far away. Ours must be the monastery of the soul, an abbey of abstinence, and devotion, and prayer, and self-sacrifice.

The call of the monastery is not a call to isolation, or hermitage, nor a call to a John Galt-vengeance on a society which has rejected our noble pleadings and higher values. The heart of the monastery requires no walls, but is instead a community, with a rule of order, spiritual discipline, prayer, simplicity of living, and hard work. It is a place where humility and honesty thrive; where prayer is a daily, even hourly, discipline; where we challenge every desire in the light of absolute values and eternal perspective; where relationships are reconciled and true peace among men can thrive. The abbey abides where we live - in our churches, our small groups or Bible studies, our neighborhoods, in coffee houses, in the warmth and hospitality of our open homes. It is here where we may truly transform our society - one heart, one soul, one life at a time.

Let the culture go where it may; we must be a true light. It is time to abandon the delusion that we may change the hopeless by becoming more like them - we must instead become a shining city on a hill, a stark contrast to the darkness which surrounds us. If what we believe is true - and it is - then those who run from truth may well see in us an answer to their failed and fruitless pursuits, to the shallow shell of a life lived in self-gratification and the pursuit of pleasure and power.

We will be misunderstood, hated, ridiculed, rejected. So be it - our strength will lie in one another, and in Him who calls us to holiness. Let us now say, "Let it begin - and let it begin, with me."


New Book recommendation: The Woman Racket

I'm reading an excellent new book called 'The Woman Racket' by Steve Moxon. From the jacket:
"Notwithstanding its provocative title, The Woman Racket is a serious scientific investigation into one of the key myths of our age - that women are oppressed by the 'Patriarchal' traditions of Western societies. Drawing on the latest developments in evolutionary psychology, Moxon finds that the opposite is true - men, or at least the majority of low-status males - have always been the victims of deep-rooted prejudice."

"Even so, you won't find me suggesting adding men to the ever-expanding list of 'victims'. As it stands there's but a minority of people who aren't already on this list... Instead the real story of men and women is the key to tearing up the entire list and throwing it away" (p2).

"The whole edifice rests on a vague imagining of an overarching description of masculinity, both within and without individual men, whereby somehow women are victimised. This is the ghost in the machine of society that somehow gave rise to 'Patriarchy'. No mechanismn for this has ever been tendered, let alone tested empirically, for the reason that researchers know that nothing of the kind does or could exist" (p18).

Moxon attempts to draw out the economic and philosophical origins of the current mess in chapter 1, after which he goes on to tell the real story of men and women, based upon scientific evidence. In some ways, this is the book that I have wanted to write for years. I highly recommend it.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Barking mad: Owners of obese dogs and fat cats could face jail under controversial new British rules

Owners of fat cats and obese dogs could be fined or jailed under controversial Government rules. New beefed-up codes of practice for pet owners published today state that overfeeding pets is a 'serious welfare concern' that can lead to unnecessary suffering. People who refuse to put seriously fat pets on a diet could be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act - and face a fine of up to œ20,000 or even 12 months' jail.

Environment Minster Hilary Benn said the toughened codes of practice were designed to remind pet owners of their responsibilities under the law and would protect animals from cruelty. But Tories branded the guidance 'absurd' and warned that much of the advice was patronising.

The draft document, published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, gives detailed advice to dog, cat and horse owners about looking after animals - and tells them how to avoid being prosecuted for cruelty. It also tells owners to provide 'entertainment' and 'mental stimulation' for pets, make sure upstairs windows are 'cat-proofed' to stop animals falling out and to avoid taking dogs for a walk in the hottest part of the day. In addition, it points out the importance of giving animals a suitable place to live and ' somewhere to go to the toilet'.

The codes follow last year's Animal Welfare Act which introduced a legal duty on owners to ensure that pets are properly looked after. The documents will be published as leaflets after an eight-week consultation period. Although breaking the code is not an offence, courts will use it to judge whether owners have been cruel. The document on cat welfare begins with a warning: 'It is your responsibility to read the complete Code of Practice to fully understand your cat's welfare needs and what the law requires you to do.' It warns that if they are taken to court, failure to follow the code could be used against them.

The code tells owners to ensure their cats are looked after when they go away and to brush them regularly. Long-haired cats should be groomed 'at least once a day'. The code also tells owners to have a cat litter tray available inside, even if their cat has 24-hour access to a garden. Dog owners are warned not to feed their pets chocolate or raisins for health reasons and to avoid giving them medicines designed for people.

Mr Benn said the new codes of practice ensure that 'no one will be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for mistreating any animal'. But the Tories' spokesman for animal welfare, Bill Wiggin, said: 'These new codes are absurd. Defra has missed the opportunity to produce a set of sensible proposals that would protect animals from abuse and mistreatment. 'Here we have this ridiculous guide which tells people not to walk their dog in the heat of the day or feed it at the table. Defra are taking people for fools.'


Sarah Palin retrospective (and prospective)

Like most Americans, I had barely heard of Sarah Palin until August 29, 2008, when John McCain selected her as his running mate. Oh, I knew she was Governor of Alaska. And that she was stunningly beautiful. I think I knew she had five children, but certainly not that the youngest had Down's Syndrome. And I most assuredly did not know that she was one of the most dynamic and articulate conservative advocates in America today.

I guess what I'm saying is that I learned about Sarah Palin at just about the same time the mainstream media did. The difference was: I loved her for what I learned. And they hated her to the core for all that she is, has been, or now strives to become.

I'm not ashamed to admit that in the past three months, my esteem for this selfless, gracious, and courageous woman has grown with every passing day. She has withstood the slings and arrows of the outraged fortunate, and has never lost her poise. She has been flung into the jaws of the hellions and harpies, and has emerged with her core values still intact, her smile still as winning and winsome as the day she first took center stage.

And surely, it could not have been easy. If there is any fairness in the annals of time, then surely some just scribe on a distant day will record that Sarah Palin was the most ruthlessly abused vice presidential candidate in American history. She was attacked for the way she walked. She was attacked for the way she talked. She was attacked for what she said, and for what she didn't say, as well. She was attacked for her choice of a wardrobe, and then attacked for letting someone else choose it for her. She was attacked for neglecting her children, and then attacked anew for taking them with her on the adventure of a lifetime.

She was bullied by the duplicitous Charlie Gibson, who falsified her statements and then called her a liar for standing true. She was entrapped by the saccharinely Katie Couric, who lured her in for a little friendly "girl talk," then edited her comments to make her seem uninformed and ill-bred. She was cruelly mimicked by a second-rate Saturday Night Live comedian, and then spurned by the mimic when she was gracious enough to share a stage.

Yet, through it all, as those who found fault but never favor continued their brutal assault, something occurred on the American scene that is as rare as Carlyle's "well-spent life," yet as real as the rising sun. Sarah Palin captured the hearts of the American people, not by backing down, but by shining through. Time and again, as the critics pilloried her every move and predicted her imminent fall, Sarah Palin "filled the unforgiving moment with sixty seconds worth of distance run."

Within 72 hours of her being named John McCain's choice for vice president, she was thrust onto the proscenium to give her acceptance speech in front of a live audience numbering in the thousands and a viewing audience in the tens of millions. Her detractors salivated at the thought of her stumbling or mumbling, of falling flat or failing the test. But, Sarah Palin didn't fall flat; she filled the moment as few before her had ever done. She "knocked it out of the park," as the pundits were forced to admit. And the truth is, they hated her for it.

Then came her debate with a 30-year Washington fixture, who prides himself on his forensic skills and oozes unction like a snail trails slime. The mainstream media exuded all of the grizzly glee of Madame Lafarge at chopping block. Joey Plugs was going to show this bumpkin up once and for all - and she may even have to be dropped from the ticket.

But, Joey Plugs didn't show her up. With a wink and nudge she parried Joe's every thrust. And you knew she had carried the day when the media elite termed it a "draw." Yes, it was a draw - as in the moosekiller from the frozen tundra drawing and quartering Joey Plugs.

Then came Saturday Night Live, when Sarah Palin's now obsessive critics predicted she would be made a fool of by some second-tier TV cue card reader named Tina Fey. Fortunate enough to look somewhat remotely like Mrs. Palin, Ms. Fey tried to parlay that gift into a last-ditch effort to salvage a sinking career. And when Sarah Palin agreed to appear on the same stage with Tina, the critics licked their chops in anticipation of a defrenestration. But, alas, her detractors should have studied up on their Edwin Markham: "They drew a circle that shut me out/Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout/But love and I had the wit to win/We drew a circle that took them in." As Tina glowered, Sarah glowed.

So sterling was Sarah Palin's performance that SNL producer Lorne Michael was moved to say, "I watched the way she connected with people, and she's powerful. Her politics aren't my politics. But you can see that she's a very powerful, very disciplined, incredibly gracious woman. This was her first time out and she's had a huge impact. People connect to her."

"People connect to her." And do you know why? Because Sarah Palin connects to people. Good, decent Americans of all races, creeds, and colors see in Sarah Palin something we all long to know is buried, perhaps deeply, within our souls. Lincoln called it "the better angels of our nature." And through three, long, grueling - often unspeakably cruel - months Sarah Palin's "better angels" made tens of millions of grateful Americans know in our hearts that we could all be better people.

At the end of the preface to her book, Audrey Meadows thanks Jackie Gleason for inspiring in those who shared his moment upon the stage all that any of us could ever ask: "He made us all run faster, reach higher, go further than we ever dreamed we could." For "one, brief, shining moment," so did Sarah Palin. And that's why this is a love letter that will last a lifetime. Thank you, Mrs. Palin, from the bottom of our hearts.


Dustbin Stasi

The marvelous writer whose work appears under his pen name Theodore Dalrymple has long argued that in statist regimes like that in the UK local authorities do little to prevent or punish real crime but use every law at their disposal to beset and harass the honest, law abiding citizens -- because it's much easier work. The end result is that the big issues of right and wrong get no attention as honest citizens are reduced to scurrying around complying with ever-increasing and ever more stupid petty regulations on their every action. Nothing illustrates his point better than this story:
More than half of town halls admit using anti-terror laws to spy on families suspected of putting their rubbish out on the wrong day. Their tactics include putting secret cameras in tin cans, on lamp posts and even in the homes of 'friendly' residents. The local authorities admitted that one of their main aims was to catch householders who put their bins out early. Many councils have been spying on residents and fining them if they put rubbish out on the wrong day
The shocking way in which the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act -- an anti-terror law -- is being used was revealed through freedom of information requests made by the Daily Mail.


Big opponents of change on the Left

"Change": the official buzzword of Campaign 2008. Everyone seems to be for change. Barack Obama and his supporters first shouted it as a slogan, but John McCain and his backers have long since dittoed their fondness for it. The "why" is obvious: Both camps desire to connect with voters, who have long been denied the political change they so overwhelmingly favor. Yet, while political folks have learned to annunciate the word "change" and to use it correctly in many, many sentences, not quite everyone is really for it.

A question on Connecticut's ballot next Tuesday makes this painfully obvious. The question automatically appears, by constitutional mandate, on the Constitution State's ballot every 20 years. It gives voters the opportunity to call a convention where delegates can propose amendments or revisions to the state constitution.

The question amounts to, in more simple language: Should we select delegates, and have them sit down, talk about and hopefully propose some changes? I note that proposing actual changes certainly seems to be associated with the whole idea and motto of "change." So, yes indeed, Connecticut voters now consider a Yes vote. A convention to debate and write constitutional changes, changes that would then be approved or rejected by the voters, might produce the kind of reform voters desire. In instances where that is not the case, poor ideas can be rejected.

Given the alternative - the special interest-dominated legislature - those who really do want change see a convention as by far their best opportunity. Top of the reform list for Connecticut voters is a process for direct voter initiative, like neighboring Massachusetts has - as do 23 other states, including California, Florida, Maine and Ohio. That's smart, because initiative and referendum is the path to all kinds of other reforms like term limits, tax limitation, protections from eminent domain abuse, and much more. Of course, voter initiative is anathema to politicians and special interests (who don't fancy giving an inch to the general public interest) and thus it is not likely to fair so well in the state legislature.

This week, a poll conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut showed 50 percent of the state's voters have voted or plan to vote Yes on calling a constitutional convention. With 39 percent opposed, there remain 11 percent undecided. That same poll found that 65 percent of Connecticut citizens favor establishing a statewide ballot initiative process.

Meanwhile, the forces opposing change (and even its mere possibility), slapped together a million dollars to begin a barrage of TV ads to frighten voters against a possible convention.

The group formed, "Vote No - Protect Our Constitution," received a $325,000 check from the National Education Association in Washington, DC, another $315,000 was quickly kicked in by the Connecticut Education Association. The state's chapter of the American Federation of Teachers plopped down another $105,000, along with $10,000 from each of the professors' unions at the Connecticut State University system and the University of Connecticut. Other big checks rolled in from groups including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Council 4) and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

These are some of the most powerful - if not the most powerful - political forces in the state, organizations designed to gain specific funds and particular policy benefits from government for themselves. And yet, they actually have the arrogance to suggest they are seeking to protect voters from the bad, ole "special interests." Like them.

In fact, it's the message of their campaign: Fear. Fear of ourselves and our ability to self-govern. Fear of special interests (like them) and their power to rip us off no matter what.

The "Vote No" campaign's television advertisements argue, "Question One means special interests set the agenda. Eliminate our basic rights. Ban gay marriage and abortion. Tax giveaways to corporations. Cut workers rights and benefits."

The arguments are almost too ridiculous to warrant a response. The so-called special interests urging a Yes vote had raised just $12,000 at the time the No forces approached the million-dollar mark. As John Woodcock, a former Democratic state legislator and a leader on the Yes side said, "We are being outspent 83 to 1. It's the individual vs. behemoth special interests. It's the grassroots vs. the establishment. It's David vs. Goliath."

Attack ads to the contrary, none of the freedoms recognized by the Bill of Rights is open for tinkering. Furthermore, supporters of a Yes vote, like the Federation of Connecticut Taxpayer Organizations, are most assuredly not seeking "tax giveaways to corporations."

It is true that the state supreme court's recent 4-3 ruling recognizing a right to same-sex marriage in Connecticut has mobilized the Catholic Church, The Family Institute and some religiously motivated activists to support a convention even more than before. The recent UConn poll, however, showed a majority of state voters opposed to a ban on gay marriage.

At the No website, one reads this ominous warning: "The public has no say on what the lobbyists propose to do to the constitution." But most certainly the public does. The people get to vote any proposed change up or down. This omission is, of course, essential to whipping up irrational fears of a convention.

Perhaps Connecticut's political bigwigs exclude this important fact also because they dare not mention what they most oppose: The voters having "more say." Voters get the final word on both the changes proposed by a constitutional convention and ballot issues proposed by citizens, should the convention lead to the enactment of a ballot initiative process.

Similar constitutional convention questions appear on the Hawaii and Illinois ballots this year, similarly mandated by their constitutions. And the campaigns in those two states echo the Connecticut campaign. Voters seeking initiative and referendum to check the power of politicians and special interests are also urging Yes votes on those state convention questions. And, likewise, find themselves bullied in the battle by the well-heeled insiders.

In Illinois, the company of David Axelrod, Barack Obama's campaign guru, has the $3 million contract to convince voters to say No to change. There is good change and bad change. The entrenched political insiders in every state and in Washington don't want either one . . . no matter what jingles you hear this time of year.

That's why the change we most desperately need is more citizen control of government. In Connecticut, there is a real chance for real change.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The annual Leftist attack on Christmas has begun

British city dumps Christmas in favour of "WinterLight festival"

There will be something missing from Oxford's Christmas lights display this year - any mention of Christmas. Traditional themes are also being dumped in favour of a 25-metre high mobile of lanterns in the shape of the solar system. Organisers say the new two-month WinterLight festival will include events marking the Hindu Diwali and Jewish Hannukah festivals as well as Christmas. It also coincides with the start of International Year of Astronomy 2009.

But religious leaders in the city condemned the change. Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, said: 'I'm really upset. Christians, Muslims and other religions all look forward to Christmas.'

Rabbi Eli Bracknell of the Jewish Educational Centre said: ' Anything that waters down traditional culture and Christianity is not positive for the British identity. WinterLight includes all festivals but it also conceals them.'

Reverend James Grote, of the John Bunyan Baptist Church, said: 'People are not offended by hearing each other's faiths.' But Ed Turner, deputy leader of Oxford council, said: 'We are not Christmas killers. There's no desire to downgrade its importance or prominence - there's still going to be a Christmas tree.'


Muslim chef sues London police after being asked to cook sausages and bacon for breakfasts

Sounds like he needs a job in a curry restaurant

A Muslim chef employed by the Metropolitan Police is suing for religious discrimination after he was asked to cook sausages and bacon for '999 breakfasts'. Hasanali Khoja accuses Scotland Yard of refusing to guarantee that he would not have to handle pork, which is forbidden in Islam. He said it was suggested he wear gloves when cooking pork products.

The 60-year-old claims the problem began when he was asked to move from his position as senior catering manager at Hendon Police College in North London, where he had been excused from touching pork. In his new role at the Empress State Building in West London, which is occupied by Metropolitan Police staff, he was expected to make '999 breakfasts' consisting of sausage, bacon and black pudding. The meal got its nickname because it is traditional for officers to insist on hearty fry-ups before starting their shift.

Mr Khoja, who joined the Met in 2005, said he was placed on special unpaid leave for a year after refusing to work without the guarantee he would not have to handle pork. He is now back at work at another Met building where he does not have to handle pork but has been downgraded to higher catering manager.

Mr Khoja, from Edgware, North London, said yesterday: 'I felt very unhappy about it. I was very upset and angry because it is not permissible in my religion. I was threatened that management would sack me if I did not follow instructions. But I never enrolled to cook pork. I refused to do it. I never did it and I never would.

'I had a letter from the human resources department saying that I would not be required to cook any pork. But this was not exactly what I wanted as a guarantee. The Met has shown no sensitivity towards my religion. Their response has been illthought and discriminatory.'

He added: 'My original contract did not include any kind of cooking. I was hired as a senior catering manager. 'I protested at the move and at having to cook pork. I was placed on paid special leave for a year. No Muslim in my position should have to face such harassment.'

Mr Khoja, who also sits on a Foods Standards Agency advisory committee on Muslim issues, is taking the Met to an employment tribunal which is expected to be heard next May. An informal agreement was reached in June excusing him from handling pork but Mr Khoja, who began his claim last year, wants it to be formalised.

His case is the latest in a string of race discrimination rows to engulf the Met in recent months, which contributed to the resignation of Sir Ian Blair. Britain's most senior Muslim officer, Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, has accused the force of racial discrimination and the National Black Police Association has urged people from ethnic minorities not to join.

Mr Khoja was originally represented by Dr Shahrokh Mireskandari, the controversial lawyer at the centre of the race war, but changed solicitors in August. His current lawyer Khalid Sofi said there was an 'important issue of principle at stake in Mr Khoja's case'. 'He has genuine and strong religious beliefs and expects that they will be accommodated,' he added. 'The Met is a very large organisation and could easily have met his demands. 'Mr Khoja's case raises the general question of the Met accommodating the needs of the Muslim community at a time when there is a lack of confidence in the police among Muslims.'

Mr Khoja is being supported by the Association of Muslim Police. The Met denies Mr Khoja's claim of religious discrimination. [Sounds like he WANTS them to discriminate -- in his favour]


British local council bans common expressions of Latin origin because they are 'elitist and discriminatory' and confuse immigrants

Bournemouth Council, which has the motto Pulchritudo et Salubritas - meaning beauty and health - has banned staff from using 19 Latin words Classics scholars have accused councils of 'ethnic cleansing' after they banned staff from using Latin words. The local authorities claim the terms are elitist and discriminatory, and have ordered employees to use often-wordier alternatives in documents or when speaking to the public.

Bournemouth Council, which has the Latin motto Pulchritudo et Salubritas - beauty and health - has listed 19 terms it no longer considers acceptable for use. They include ad hoc, bona fide, status quo, vice versa and even via. Its list of alternatives includes 'for this special purpose', in place of ad hoc and 'existing condition' or 'state of things', instead of status quo.

Mary Beard, a Cambridge professor of classics, said: 'This is absolutely bonkers and the linguistic equivalent of ethnic cleansing. 'English is and always has been a language full of foreign words. It has never been an ethnically pure language.'

Dr Peter Jones, co-founder of the charity Friends of Classics, said: 'This sort of thing sends out the message that language is about nothing more than the communication of very basic information in the manner of a railway timetable. 'But it is about much more than that. The great strength of English is that it has a massive infusion of Latin. 'We have a very rich lexicon with almost two sets of words for everything. To try to wipe out the richness does a great disservice to the language. It demeans it. 'I am all for immigrants raising their sights not lowering them. Plain English and Latin phrasing are not diametrically opposed concepts.'

Harry Mount, author of the best-selling book Amo, Amos, Amat and All That, a light-hearted guide to the language, said: 'Latin words and phrases can often sum up thoughts and ideas more often than the alternatives which are put forward. 'They are tremendously useful, quicker and nicer sounding. They are also English words. You will find etc or et cetera in an English dictionary.'

However, the Plain English Campaign congratulated the councils for introducing the bans. Marie Clair, its spokesman, said: 'If you look at the diversity of all our communities you have got people for whom English is a second language. 'They might mistake eg for egg and little things like that can confuse people. 'At the same time it is important to remember that the national literacy level is about 12 years old and the vast majority of people hardly ever use these terms. It is far better to use words people understand.'

Of other local authorities to prohibit the use of Latin, Salisbury has asked staff to avoid the phrases ad hoc, ergo and QED (quod erat demonstrandum), while Fife has banned ad hoc as well as ex officio.


Orthodox Jews fined and insulted for jaywalking in Melbourne, Australia

If they had been Muslims, all would have been fine, of course. You can't even laugh at Muslims, let alone be rude to them

Police are investigating allegations officers made "rude and inappropriate" remarks to Jewish women who flouted pedestrian crossing rules. Orthodox Jews are forbidden to touch anything electrical on holy days. Last month, two women were fined $57 each for crossing on a "red man" because their religion prevented them from touching the button at the crossings.

A Caulfield North woman was fined after crossing the intersection of Glen Eira and Hawthorn roads on the morning of Yom Kippur on October 9. Her $57 ticket has since been revoked. Nine days later a St Kilda East woman was fined for crossing at Hotham St and Alma Rd on October 18.

Police are now investigating the behaviour of officers who allegedly made rude and inappropriate comments to the women, and met several Jewish community leaders on October 28 to discuss the issue. Caulfield Insp Margaret Lewis expressed regret and concern over the incidents. She said the police investigation would take about a month.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria executive director Geoffrey Zygier said all Melbourne synagogues would be consulted to find out which intersections should have an automatic function on the Sabbath and Jewish festivals. State government, local government or the synagogues themselves would pay, he said.

Mr Zygier said he accepts police have a duty to look after public safety. "At the same time the Jewish community has religious obligations," Mr Zygier said. "We live in a multi-cultural society. "If we can make changes without inconveniencing others, I think that's fair enough."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

LGF: A Counterjihad of One

I am hoping that by reproducing the GoV post below, I too will be put on Crazy Charlie's index expurgatorius. I am feeling left out! I think I have on my blogroll all the blogs that Charlie says are Fascist. The fact that I have written extensive analyses and condemnations of both Nazism and Fascism shouldn't slow Charlie up. Charlie is pretty Fascist himself in a way. You can't post comments on his blog unless you are a privileged "registered" person. And registrations are CLOSED!

Charlie makes significant money out of his blog so I guess that he is trying to tack towards the centre to maximize his readership. He obviously thinks that the lowest common denominator is the right address for him! Below is a picture of the fine conservative writers Charlie has run over in his bus -- JR

Well, the 99th shoe finally dropped from the LGF centipede. In an open thread on LGF, Charles Johnson has officially excommunicated Robert Spencer. He removed Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch from his blogroll, and consigned Robert to the Outer Darkness where there will weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Oh, and racists. Lots of racists in that nasty Outer Darkness. Read through the comment thread for the full flavor of the lizardoids' reactions. Here's what Charles had to say:
Paul Belien of Brussels Journal is deeply connected with the Vlaams Belang, and Robert knows this. The fact that he's put them back in his blogroll speaks volumes about the choice he's made. And Gates of Vienna has turned into a reeking sewer of racism. I'm done with Robert Spencer. And very, very disappointed in him.
That's not just Dymphna and me he's talking about, ladies and gentlemen - that's you, the esteemed readers of this blog! How can you bear to be associated with a reeking sewer of racism? Another one:
Not that it matters, but when I was still bothering to check Brussels Journal, I saw some extremely hateful antisemitism at the site. I guess Robert has chosen his side. I'm sad that it's come to this.
And this:
You've chosen a different path than I have, Robert. I refuse to be associated with sites like GoV and Brussels Journal, but if you don't see why, and pretend not to notice the reasons for it - you're making a choice. And that choice obviates my support.
Robert has posted a public response, which is very unusual for him. After quoting some of Charles' comments, Robert said this:
[Charles Johnson] also wrote me, asking me to take down the "Designed by Little Green Footballs" logo that had been up on this site.

What heinous crime have I committed? Last month I restored the links here to Gates of Vienna and Brussels Journal, after speaking with Baron Bodissey, Paul Belien, and Geert Wilders in Washington, and wrote that I doubted that Fjordman was a neofascist or race supremacist.

Of course, for many, many months my list of links has carried this disclaimer: "Note: Listing here does not imply endorsement of every view expressed at every linked site." One might have thought that my linking to both LGF and Gates of Vienna was indicative of an openness to perspectives even from people who disagreed with one another and also with whom I might disagree, and not a blanket endorsement of either one or any other site. That, however, was too subtle for some LGF commenters, who dressed me up in jackboots right away, accusing me of an "apparent embrace of the neo-Nazi movement" and claiming that I support genocide.
Disclaimers are not enough. Absolute purity of association is required! And the Grand Lizard is the one who decides what is pure and what isn't - the judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one.

This time last year Charles was holding forth about who could rightfully be allowed in the Counterjihad. First Pamela was thrown off the sled, then Gates of Vienna and Brussels Journal, with Fjordman following in short order. Later on Diana West and Richard Miniter were ejected, and more recently Andy Bostom. Now we have reached the logical conclusion to all these purges, and Robert Spencer has to go.

All the old Bolsheviks have been airbrushed out of the group photo. There's no one left but Comrade Stalin the Grand Lizard. As the arbiter of membership in the Counterjihad, Charles Johnson has finally made it official: he's a Counterjihad of One.


A real dictator coming?

By Jeff Jacoby

It has been, these past eight years, a favorite trope of the Bush-bashers: The 43d president's power-lust is so insatiable, his disdain for constitutional checks and balances so complete, that he has fashioned himself into a dictator. Crackpots can always be counted on to say such things, of course, but even non-loonies have played fast and loose with the D-word.

"In terms of the power he now claims without significant challenge," Michael Kinsley asserted in 2003, "George W. Bush is now the closest thing in a long time to dictator of the world." When it emerged that the National Security Agency was sifting telephone records for possible counterterrorism leads, CNN's Jack Cafferty fumed that the administration intended to establish "a full-blown dictatorship in this country." A 2007 essay for CommonDreams declared: "Bush has granted himself an immense arsenal of powers for which the term `dictatorial' is a modest understatement." And in a recent piece for the Times of London, Andrew Sullivan informs us that "in war and economic crisis, Bush has insisted that there is no alternative to dictatorial rule."

Well, overwrought cries of "Dictator!" are an old story in American politics. Presidents great and not-so-great have been slammed as "tyrant" and "dictator," not to mention "autocrat," "Caesar," and "slavemaster." Somehow the Republic survived their administrations. Chances are, it will survive the Bush years too.

Bush as a ruthless autocrat? It would be easier to take the idea seriously if it weren't for the omnipresent clamor of voices denouncing the man. Tyrants have a way of squelching public dissent and intimidating their critics. Whatever else may be said about the Bush administration, it has never cowed its opponents into silence. If anything, the past eight years have set new records in vilifying a sitting president: "Bush = Hitler" signs at protest rallies. Crude "Buck Fush" bumper stickers. A 2006 movie depicting Bush's assassination. The New Republic's cover story on "The Case for Bush Hatred." The denunciation has been unending and often unhinged, yet Bush has never tried to censor it. Will we be able to say the same of his successor?

If opinion polls are right, Barack Obama is cruising to victory. As president, would he show the same forbearance as Bush in allowing his opponents to have their say, unmolested? Or would he attempt to suppress the free speech of those whose views he detested? It is disturbing to contemplate some of the Obama campaign's recent efforts to stifle criticism.

When the National Rifle Association produced a radio ad last month about Obama's shifting position on gun control, the campaign's lawyers sent letters to radio stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, urging them not to run it -- and warning of trouble with the Federal Communications Commission if they did. "This advertisement knowingly misleads your viewing audience about Senator Obama's position on the Second Amendment," Obama's general counsel Bob Bauer wrote. "For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should refuse to continue to air this advertisement."

Similar lawyer letters went out in August when the American Issues Project produced a TV spot exploring Obama's strong ties to former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. Station managers were warned that running the anti-Obama ad would be a violation of their legal obligation to serve the "public interest." And in case that wasn't menacing enough, the Obama campaign also urged the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation.

In Missouri, an Obama "truth squad" of prosecutors and other law-enforcement officials vowed to take action against anyone making "character attacks" on the Democratic candidate -- a threat, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt later remarked, that had about it the "stench of police state tactics."

What should we make of these efforts to smother political speech? Perhaps they are simply the overly aggressive tactics of a campaign in an adrenaline-fueled sprint to the finish. Perhaps Obama's staff is taking his admonition about confronting skeptics -- "I want you to argue with them and get in their face" -- a little too vehemently. But what if they're more than that? What if these are the first warning signs of how an Obama administration would deal with its adversaries?

Michael Barone, the esteemed and judicious author of The Almanac of American Politics, fears the worst. "In this campaign," he writes, "we have seen the coming of the Obama thugocracy. . . . We may see its flourishing in the four or eight years ahead."

Pray that Barone is wrong. Our nation's political life is toxic enough when the president is falsely labeled a dictator. It would be infinitely more poisonous if the label were true.


Ministers revolt on British rights bill

The prime minister's high-profile plan to introduce a "bill of rights and responsibilities" is in disarray following a cabinet revolt. Ministers have warned Gordon Brown that his proposed charter laying out the rights and duties of citizens is unworkable and could pave the way for a deluge of court cases.

Earlier this year Brown hailed the proposed bill as "of fundamental importance to our liberties and to our constitutional settlement" and said it "opens a new chapter in the British story of liberty". However, the plan, unveiled to the cabinet last week by the prime minister and Jack Straw, the justice secretary, has been labelled "pointless" and "provocative" by ministers, who fear they will be given a hostile reception by a public weary of the "human rights culture".

The bill is at the heart of Brown's attempt to position Labour as the party of strong national identity. He has encouraged home-owners to fly the Union Jack in their gardens and established Veterans Day to pay tribute to the armed forces. He had hoped that by matching new rights with "responsibilities", the government could avoid accusations of giving people more rights with no duties in return. Some ministers fear that any political gain from laying down new responsibilities for citizens would be outweighed by a public backlash over the new rights proposed.

The draft plan presented by Straw suggests a controversial "right to equality" and an array of socio-economic rights, such as a right to sufficient pay on which to live. Straw, who is committed to producing a green paper on the bill before Christmas, told his cabinet colleagues that it was about "establishing fair rules" and "giving people a fair say". He said the charter would bring under one umbrella European human rights and social and economic entitlements linked to the welfare state.

The government's legal advisers have warned of "massive difficulties", questioning how social and economic rights could ever be "justiciable" - enforced by the courts - and whether a new right to equality was necessary given that the government is also producing an equalities bill. Labour has already passed a Human Rights Act.

One senior Whitehall figure involved with the proposed charter said: "How will all this work? Are people going to use it to demand equality of pay with Jonathan Ross?"

At the cabinet meeting last week several ministers questioned the "point" of the scheme and whether there were "any votes in it". A cabinet source said: "The whole thing was panned. Nobody spoke up for it. It was total humiliation for Jack." Several ministers questioned whether it was appropriate to focus on such an abstract issue at a time when many voters are struggling to pay bills and fear they may lose their jobs. Brown closed the meeting by admitting the public hostility to the Human Rights Act and insisting that a solution be found.

Michael Wills, Straw's deputy, will this week try to revive the scheme by holding one-to-one meetings with key cabinet critics. This month he begins a "roadshow" of Britain, holding focus groups to draft a "statement of British values" to be linked to the bill of rights.

A spokesman for Straw admitted that colleagues had "concerns", but emphasised that the justice secretary still "hoped to get cabinet agreement". He insisted the rights would help to bring people together at a time of economic uncertainty.

The Conservatives have labelled the scheme a "dog's breakfast". Nick Herbert, the shadow justice secretary, said: "No one has a clue how vague and unenforceable socio-economic rights will work, not to mention a meaningless statement of values, and on top of this we'll get the EU's charter of fundamental rights."


Britishness is under threat from Prime Minister Brown, warns Lord Carey

The former Archbishop of Canterbury has accused Gordon Brown of undermining the identity of Britain. Lord Carey of Clifton criticised the Prime Minister for railroading through changes to the country's ancient constitution, damaging institutions such as the Monarchy and the Church of England. In an outspoken lecture, Lord Carey suggested many of Labour's constitutional reforms had lacked `joined up thinking' and had been forced through by Prime Ministerial `fiat'.

He denounced Labour's efforts to reform the House of Lords by ousting hereditary peers as `piecemeal'. And he suggested the Queen and Church leaders had been largely sidelined when Mr Brown scrapped the historic right of Prime Ministers to choose bishops.

Lord Carey also said the Government had damaged the ancient institutions `upon which Britishness is founded'. He said efforts to reform the Privy Council and the office of the Lord Chancellor in the Lords, one of the most ancient offices in the land, had left them emasculated. He said: `Some, if not most, of these acts have been undertaken by Prime Ministerial "fiat" rather than wide ranging debate. This harms the constitutional balance which has taken centuries to develop. It undermines the respect for the institutions on which Britishness is founded.'

Lord Carey cited the example of the way Mr Brown had axed the Prime Minister's role in selecting bishops. In the past, the Church forwarded two names for senior posts, including that of Archbishop of Canterbury, to the Premier, who could choose either or ask for more names. But Mr Brown announced Prime Ministers would no longer have a choice and just one candidate is now forwarded by the Church. Lord Carey said he had been `astonished' by the casual way Mr Brown had waived his historic rights. The comments reflect growing fears in the Church that it is losing the special position it has held in English life since the Reformation.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas sparked controversy a week ago when he said plans to shake up the Lords could result in the Church being stripped of its privileges within decades.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Monday, November 03, 2008

Christianity to be restored in U.S. Capitol

New visitors center will document religious heritage

Documentation of the Christian heritage of the United States will be restored, at least partly, to a new $600 million Capitol Visitors Center in Washington which earlier had been scrubbed of references to the religious faith and influences of the Founding Fathers. WND reported several weeks ago when it was revealed that the center, with acres of marble floors and walls, photographs of Earth Day, information about an AIDS rally and details about industry, would not include America's Christian heritage. The plans drew objections from members of Congress and even drew an inquiry from Chuck Norris about whether he could help fix it.

The new 580,000-square-foot center, mostly built underneath the grounds just east of the U.S. Capitol to protect the scenic views of the historic building, is about three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself, has exhibition galleries, theaters, a 550-seat cafeteria, gift shops and myriad other features. But according to members of Congress, the project run by the office of the architect of the Capitol was on course to lack a full picture of the U.S.

Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., organized a letter eventually signed by 108 members of Congress expressing concern the historical content simply was inaccurate. Now he's announced that the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to include references to the nation's religious history in the new project. "Historical buildings like the Capitol Visitor Center are there to tell the story of our nation. When religious history is removed from these displays, the American public is not able to observe an accurate depiction of our nation's story," said Forbes. "We are pleased that the Committee on House Administration and Senate Rules Committee have acknowledged this important part of our nation's history and have agreed to correct the omission of historical religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center."

He continued, "Thousands of visitors will walk through the Capitol Visitor Center each day, and the efforts of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the 108 Members of Congress that have joined in this issue will enable those visitors to experience an accurate depiction of our nation's heritage." He said among the changes that have been approved are:

* References to the nation's motto will be clarified so that visitors don't misunderstand it to be "E Pluribus Unum" instead of "In God We Trust."

* That the words "In God We Trust" be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center and that the panel describing the engraving include the proper recognition of this phrase as the national motto.

* That the Pledge of Allegiance be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center.

The members of Congress had expressed concern the center was delivering inaccurate and incomplete information, including the omission of the national motto and mistakes regarding Christian church services held in the actual Capitol as well as the excising of references to "religion, morality, and knowledge" in the Northwest Ordinance.

According to Forbes, officials also have agreed to the research and development of a permanent religious history display and have agreed to make every effort to erect the display as soon as possible.

Revisionist attempts to remove God and Christianity from America's history in Washington have been documented by WND's coverage of the work of Todd DuBord, the former pastor at Lake Almanor Community Church in California. He now serves as a special chaplain for Chuck Norris' organizations. Dubord was leading trips of tourists to Washington and nearby areas to review the nation's Christian heritage when he started noticing what appeared to be a deliberate campaign to remove references to the Bible and Christianity.

He revealed when tour guides at the U.S. Supreme Court building called depictions of the Ten Commandments the "Ten Amendments," and he followed up by disclosing a number of other apparently related efforts to wipe Christianity from U.S. history, including efforts at Jefferson's Monticello, where tour guides told him they were unable to talk about the religious influences there. He later documented how officials at the Washington Monument had placed a replica of the 100-ounce solid aluminum capstone, which is inscribed with the Latin "Praise Be to God," so that visitors could not read the words and a resulting investigation by the National Park Service prompted a change in that procedure. His large body of research, including documentation and photographs, now has been assembled on his website, NationalTreasures.org.

WND also has reported on efforts to make history politically correct, such as calling Europeans' arrival in North America an "invasion," for the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement last year, even though the first goal of those sent out to America was to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Forbes also has worked with the Congressional Prayer Caucus, whose members' signatures were among those on the letter, to restore "references to our religious heritage in the past." Officials running the Capitol also have tried to strip the mention of God from flag-folding ceremonies at veterans' funerals and previously attempted to edit "God" from congressional flag certificates, which are statements issued with flags that have been flown over the Capitol.

More here

Forcing homosexual acceptance on little kids in California

A California school system refuses to say what action, if any, it will take after it received complaints about a kindergarten teacher who encouraged her students to sign "pledge cards" in support of gays.

During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners. The cards asked signers to be "an ally" and to pledge to "not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts."

The school has acknowledged that the exercise was not appropriate for kindergartners. Parent Adela Voelker, who declined to be interviewed in depth for this report, said she was furious when she found her child's signature on one of the cards. She said she contacted a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in parents' rights. Meanwhile, a school board member, Jeff Cook, says some type of action should be taken. "We have a general rule that all instruction should be age appropriate, and this clearly was not," said Cook, who has served on the school board for five years.

Val Joyner, a school district spokeswoman, told FOXNews.com in an e-mail that when deciding what to teach on this subject matter, educators "gather materials from community agencies and other education groups" and that "the materials have grade level indicators which help determine what is age-appropriate." The district said the pledge cards were intended for middle school and high school students. Asked last week if the district planned to take action against Miller, Joyner said she would have to look into the incident. On Thursday she told FOXNews.com that she did not have an answer for the question and that she would no longer be doing any media interviews.

Joyner said in an e-mail that Miller, the teacher, "planned to teach students how to become an ally and conflict-mediation through various activities." She added that the district doesn't advocate for a specific cause and/or lifestyle, and it has "no curriculum for gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles." The district employs a "Professional Learning Specialist: Equity," who is in charge of gathering material and helping teachers decide what should be taught on the subject matter.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, the group representing Voelker, said parents at the Faith Ringgold School weren't notified of what was going to take place in the classroom. He said that teaching students as young as pre-school about gay, lesbian and transgender issues is common in California, but that there are "all kinds of material the average parent could find highly objectionable or potentially harmful" to their children. When asked if the school district did anything wrong, he said, "possibly," but he declined to go into detail or say whether Voelker would sue the district.

Dacus would not comment specifically on whether children who signed the pledge could be held responsible if the school determined that they were not honoring it. He said they are minors and there are certain degrees of limited liability, but from a psychological and emotional perspective, it's a whole different ballgame. "[There is] tremendous peer pressure put on children to accept a pro-homosexual philosophy and attitude," Dacus said.

Meanwhile, opponents of gay marriage are up in arms over the incident, which occurred as California voters prepare to vote Tuesday on Proposition 8, which would overturn the state Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage. "How do you teach a 5-year-old to sign a pledge card for lesbian, gay and transgender issues without explaining what transgender and bisexual is?" asked Sonja Eddings Brown, a spokeswoman for Protect Marriage California.


Obama rips U.S. Constitution

Faults Supreme Court for not mandating 'redistribution of wealth'

Seven years before Barack Obama's "spread the wealth" comment to Joe the Plumber became a GOP campaign theme, the Democratic presidential candidate said in a radio interview the U.S. has suffered from a fundamentally flawed Constitution that does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth. In a newly unearthed tape, Obama is heard telling Chicago's public station WBEZ-FM in 2001 that "redistributive change" is needed, pointing to what he regarded as a failure of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in its rulings on civil rights issues in the 1960s.

The Warren court, he said, failed to "break free from the essential constraints" in the U.S. Constitution and launch a major redistribution of wealth. But Obama, then an Illinois state lawmaker, said the legislative branch of government, rather than the courts, probably was the ideal avenue for accomplishing that goal. In the 2001 interview, Obama said:
If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I'd be OK

But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.

And that hasn't shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.
In his top-rated national radio show today, Rush Limbaugh reacted to the tape. The Constitution, he said, "most certainly does spell out things it must do on your behalf. He understands it. He just doesn't like it." "He's talking about giving things to people," Limbaugh said. "This is perverted. Some people call this radical. I call it perverted. "To me, ladies and gentlemen, the Constitution is a gift from God. It's not a disappointment; it's a blessing," he said.

Limbaugh cited unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, with whom Obama has had a relationship for many years, as well as Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor under whose teaching Obama attended church for two decades. Ayers has stated his Weather Underground didn't accomplish enough in the bombings on the U.S. Capitol and other locations, and Wright has called on God to d*** America. "I'm beginning to wonder just who taught whom," Limbaugh said. "How much did Obama teach Ayers, Jeremiah Wright. Obama didn't have to hear what Jeremiah Wright was saying, Obama may have half written those sermons."

The change sought by Obama, however, simply couldn't be accomplished through court action, the Democrat said in the 2001 interview. "The court's not very good at it," he said. "I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way." "You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, the court . engaging in a process that essentially is administrative," he said.

A commentator on the website American Thinker said Obama "wishes to scrap the limits placed on government powers because they get in the way of his redistributive schemes." "What powers are we talking about? Private property rights for one. Since property is distributed 'unequally' in Obama's world, policies must be shaped and laws passed to deal with that situation."

GOP presidential candidate John McCain's campaign stated the tape proves Obama is too liberal for the White House. "Now we know that the slogans 'change you can believe in' and 'change we need' are code words for Barack Obama's ultimate goal: 'redistributive change,'" said McCain-Palin senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin.

But the Obama campaign called the statements just another distraction. "In this interview back in 2001, Obama was talking about the civil rights movement - and the kind of work that has to be done on the ground to make sure that everyone can live out the promise of equality. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Obama's economic plan or his plan to give the middle class a tax cut. It's just another distraction from an increasingly desperate McCain campaign," spokesman Bill Burton said.

However, reaction to Obama's comments reached around the globe. In the Telegraph newspaper of London, Toby Harnden said the 2001 remarks are consistent with Obama's recent statement to the now iconic Joe the Plumber in Ohio, that "when you spread the wealth around it's a good thing for everybody." "Although his remarks were heavily analytical and academic," Harndon said of the 2001 interview, Obama "spoke warmly of the notion of redistributing wealth, suggesting that there were other vehicles that the courts to achieve it."

Limbaugh commented, "We know Joe (the Plumber) got Obama to reveal himself." But what would be next? "Would he quote Marx? Would he demand change in the spirit of the Soviet Union? Would he ask us to have Constitution-burning parties?" Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh contended, however, that the "redistribution" was just a distraction. "It's part of a process where the government confiscates private property and uses it to secure their own power. It's not about fairness," Limbaugh said. "They buy votes with the money they confiscate." He continued, "Redistribution is the least frightening part of socialism. What comes after and before is what shocks like a Taser."

The weblog Right Pundits.com said, "In other words, he sees our money as belonging to the government. He wants to take our money and he will decide how to spend it."


We Don't Need Another War on Poverty

The last one was a disaster

Do our cities need another War on Poverty? Barack Obama thinks so. Speaking before the U.S. Conference of Mayors this June, the Democratic standard-bearer promised to boost spending on public schools, urban infrastructure, affordable housing, crime prevention, job training, and community organizing. The mayors, joined by many newspaper editorial pages, have echoed Obama in calling for vast new federal spending on cities. All of this has helped rejuvenate the old argument that America's urban areas are victims of Washington's neglect and that it's up to the rest of the country (even though most Americans are now metro-dwellers) to bail them out.

Nothing could be more misguided than to renew this "tin-cup urbanism," as some have called it. Starting in the late 1960s, mayors in struggling cities extended their palms for hundreds of billions of federal dollars that accomplished little good and often worsened the problems that they sought to fix. Beginning in the early nineties, however, a small group of reform-minded mayors--with New York's Rudy Giuliani and Milwaukee's John Norquist in the vanguard--jettisoned tin-cup urbanism and began developing their own bottom-up solutions to city problems. Their innovations made cities safer, put welfare recipients to work, and offered kids in failing school systems new choices, bringing about an incomplete, but very real, urban revival.

Yet this reform movement remains anathema to many liberal politicians, academics, and journalists, who have ignored or tried to downplay its achievements because it conflicts with their left-of-center views. The arrival on the scene of Obama, a former Chicago community activist and the first presidential nominee in recent memory to rise out of urban politics, has given these back-to-the-future voices their best chance in years to advance a liberal War on Poverty-style agenda. As the nation debates its future in the current presidential race, it's crucial to remember what has worked to revive cities--and what hasn't.

The original War on Poverty, launched by the Johnson administration in the mid-sixties, was based on the assumption that Washington had to rescue American cities from precipitous--indeed, catastrophic--decline. It's important to remember that the cities themselves helped propel that decline. Political machines had long run the cities, and they imposed increasingly high taxes and throttling regulations on employers and often entrusted key government agencies, including police departments, to patronage appointees. The cities' industrial might protected them from serious downturns for a time. But as transportation advances beginning in the 1950s enabled businesses to relocate to less expensive suburbs or newer Sunbelt cities, and did so just as a generation of poor, uneducated blacks from the rural South began migrating to the urban North, the corrupt and inefficient machines proved unable to cope with the resulting economic and demographic shock. Urban poverty worsened (even as poverty was shrinking dramatically elsewhere); crime exploded; public schools, dominated by reform-resistant, inflexible teachers' unions, became incubators of failure, with staggering dropout rates for minority students; and middle-class city dwellers soon followed businesses out of town. Some industrial cities, scarred further by horrific race riots during the sixties, crumbled into near-ruins.

Yet the War on Poverty's legislative architects ignored the cities' own failings and instead embraced the theories of left-wing intellectuals, who argued that the external forces arrayed against the poor, such as racism or globalization, were simply too overwhelming to address on the local level. "Officials and residents in urban communities are losing control of their cities to outside forces," warned urban planners Edward Kaitz and Herbert Harvey Hyman in their book Urban Planning for Social Welfare. "Cities are relatively powerless." The answer was federal intervention. Columbia University's Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward gained an influential following among policymakers by arguing that an unjust and racist nation owed massive government aid to the poor and mostly minority residents of struggling cities. Further, to compel those residents to work in exchange for help, or even to make them attend programs that might boost self-reliance, was to violate their civil liberties.

The War on Poverty, motivated by such toxic ideas, transformed welfare from temporary assistance into a lifelong stipend with few strings attached. As everyone knows, welfare rolls then skyrocketed, increasing 125 percent from 1965 to 1970 alone, and an entrenched generational underclass of poor families emerged. Typically, they lived in dysfunctional public housing projects--many of them built as another battle in the War--that radiated blight to surrounding neighborhoods. The federal government created a series of huge initiatives, from Medicaid and Head Start to food stamps and school lunch programs, that spent billions of dollars trying to fight urban poverty. And then, to attack the "root causes" of poverty (whatever they were), the feds spent billions more on local social-services agencies, which ran ill-defined programs with vague goals like "community empowerment" that did nothing to alleviate poverty.

Despite years of effort and gargantuan transfusions of money, the federal government lost its War on Poverty. "In 1968 . . . 13 percent of Americans were poor," wrote Charles Murray in his unstinting examination of antipoverty programs, Losing Ground. "Over the next 12 years, our expenditures on social welfare quadrupled. And in 1980, the percentage of poor Americans was--13 percent."

These programs did, however, produce a seismic shift in the way mayors viewed their cities--no longer as sources of dynamism and growth, as they had been for much of the nation's history, but instead as permanent, sickly wards of the federal government. In fact, as the problems of cities like Cleveland and New York festered and metastasized, mayors blamed the sickness on the federal government's failure to do even more. Norquist recalled a U.S. Conference of Mayors session held in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. "There was almost a feeling of glee among some mayors who attended: finally the federal government would realize it had to do something for cities."

Even as tin-cup urbanism prevailed, however, some mayors began arguing for a different approach, based on the belief that cities could master their own futures. The nineties became an era of fruitful urban-policy experimentation. For instance, well before the federal welfare reform of 1996, various cities and counties, most notably Giuliani's New York and Norquist's Milwaukee (encouraged strongly by Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson), not only set limits on welfare eligibility for the programs that they administered for the feds but also pursued a "work-first" policy that got able-bodied welfare recipients back into the workplace as swiftly as possible. Welfare rolls plummeted--in New York City, from 1.1 million in the early nineties to about 465,000 by 2001--and childhood poverty numbers decreased.

State and local legislators, often prodded by inner-city parents, also sought new ways to provide urban minority kids with a decent education. In Milwaukee, a former welfare mother, enraged that her children had no option other than the terrible public schools, helped push a school-voucher bill through the Wisconsin state legislature, letting disadvantaged students use public money to attend private schools. Most states passed laws enabling private groups to set up charter schools unencumbered by many of the union-backed rules found in public school systems, such as restrictions on firing lousy teachers. Today, some 4,300 charter schools, many in big cities, educate 1.2 million kids nationally--and most are performing, studies show, better than nearby public schools.

The era's most impressive urban reform improved public safety. Under Giuliani and his first police commissioner, William Bratton, New York City famously embraced Broken Windows policing, in which cops enforced long-dormant laws against public disorder, fostering a new climate of respect for the right of all citizens to use public spaces. The nineties' NYPD also introduced computer technology that tracked and mapped shifting crime patterns, so that police could respond quickly whenever and wherever crime spiked upward, and new accountability measures to ensure that commanders followed through. Crime in New York has plummeted 70 percent since the implementation of these reforms--double the national decline. Other cities that have adopted similar policing methods, from Newark to East Orange, New Jersey, to Raleigh, North Carolina, have had big crime turnarounds., too.

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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Sunday, November 02, 2008

British "security" stupidity again

Schoolboy, 15, held as terror suspect after taking photos of railway station for school project. The British police are the ever-present terrorists

A schoolboy was held as a terrorist suspect by police support officers - for taking photographs of a railway station on a geography field trip. Fabian Sabbara, 15, was dressed in his school uniform when he was stopped by three police community support officers for taking photos of a station on his mobile phone. He explained he was taking pictures, as well as pedestrian counts and a traffic survey, as part of a GCSE project.

But PCSO Barry Reeve told Fabian, from Cheam in South London, to sign forms under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which allows police to stop and search at random anyone they suspect of terrorism. The pupil from Rutlish High School, Merton, was forced to comply or face arrest after he was stopped at nearby Wimbledon railway station.

After the incident, his mother Clare and father Felix contacted police to remove any record of the incident against their son's name - but were told it had to remain in place for six years. Scotland Yard have since wiped the record from their database, but Mr Sabbara, 48, an audio-visual installer, said the incident could have affected Fabian's future employment chances. He said the matter had also sparked fear at Fabian's school, where trips had been banned over concerns that pupils could be stopped by police for taking pictures.

Mr Sabbara said: 'Fabian was just a 15-year-old boy trying to do his school work. He had done nothing wrong. 'The point is, if this incident had remained on file it could affect him in years to come when he applies for jobs such as the RAF. 'Also if there was a terrorist attack at Wimbledon station he would be a suspect. It's just ludicrous. 'There needs to be more common sense when applying this law.'

During the incident Fabian, among 55 pupils who had split into groups, had to sign a form titled 'Stop-and-Search Terrorism Act'. Metropolitan Police spokesman Beverley Kassem said officers did not search him and no further action was taken. She said: 'Police have met with the boy, his family and representatives from the school to discuss the incident and reassure them of any concerns they may have. 'As a result of this meeting, schools and police will work closely on future school trips in the area. 'The record of the stop on the stop-and-search database has been removed.'

Merton Council cabinet member for children's services Councillor Debbie Shears said: 'We understand this incident has been resolved directly between the police, the school and the pupil's family. 'School trips are an integral part of a student's life and we are working with both schools and police to see what sort of guidelines need to be developed and put in to place.'


National identity is resurgent

By Sir Christopher Meyer, British Ambassador to Washington, 1997-2003

Those who think that there is such a thing as progress in international affairs - that we are capable of learning the lessons of history - have been brutally disabused by the Georgian crisis. You can have all the rules you like to discipline international behaviour; but they are not worth the paper they are written on if they run against fierce nationalisms and ethnic passion.

Ethnic and nationalist rivalry is as old as sin, and as inextinguishable. As a diplomat in Britain's Moscow Embassy during the Cold War, I spent time in two of the Caucasian republics, Georgia and Azerbaijan. They were then under Moscow's heel as part of the Soviet Union. Their loathing of Russians was palpable. At the time of my visits, Stalin, a Georgian by birth, was still officially a non-person, airbrushed by his successors from the annals of Soviet history. But in defiance of Moscow his portraits could still be seen in Georgian state farms and government offices. I asked a Georgian official why this was so. "Because he killed so many Russians," came the sardonic reply. The feeling was mutual. Later in Moscow I related my Caucasian experiences to Leonid Brezhnev's interpreter, Viktor Sukhodrev. "That's no place for a white man," he said with his impeccable North London accent (he had equally good American).

Recent events have shown no weakening in these ancient hatreds. But the Western powers behaved as if caught on the hop. Last year a French diplomat warned me that once Kosovo got its independence (itself the unnatural product of Balkan hatreds), Russia would feel free to make its move in Georgia. And so it has come to pass. As a Times leader put it recently, history has resumed, leaving Francis Fukuyama, the apostle of its end, trailing in its wake. But Professor Fukuyama was adrift from the very start. Once the iron fists of the former Soviet Union and Tito's Yugoslavia had been removed, nationalist and ethnic tensions broke surface with the murderous velocity of the long suppressed. Contrary to what David Miliband has been telling us, the glacial years of the Cold War were "the period of calm". The years since have been marked by the constant turmoil of history's march.

Globalisation and interdependence were supposed to have swept aside these ancient feuds and rivalries. Theories of the postmodern state now abound. Tony Blair preached how national interest would be trumped by the spread of "global values". This is self-evident rubbish. For here is the paradox of the modern world. Money, people, culture, business and electronic information cross porous frontiers in ever-increasing volume. But as national boundaries dissolve in cyberspace, so everywhere the sense of nationhood and national interest strengthens. Five minutes in Beijing, Washington, Tehran or Moscow will tell you that. What is the European Union if not the 21st-century arena for the intense and competitive prosecution of the national interest by its 27 member states?

It is useless to say that nationalism and ethnic tribalism have no place in the international relations of the 21st century. If anything the spread of Western-style democracy has amplified their appeal and resonance. The supreme fallacy in foreign policy is to take the world as we would wish it to be and not as it actually is. In Britain's case, the delusion is compounded when we are powerless to effect the outcome we desire. This has been particularly the case with Russia, where we have managed to be both impotent and provocative. If we really want to put a halt to bad Russian behaviour, let us do so where we can make a difference, and where it is justified - starting with the expulsion of the vast nest of Russian intelligence officers in London, as Labour and Conservative governments did not hesitate to do in the 1970s.

We can foolishly downgrade national interest within the armoury of British diplomacy, if we wish. But we had better not underestimate its driving force in the international behaviour of others. That is the road to dangerous miscalculation.

Take Russia, China and Iran. Each seethes at the recollection of what it considers historical humiliations visited on it by Western powers. For all three the beginning of the 21st century has opened opportunities for payback - for getting respect as a nation (just look at recent Russian newspapers). You don't have to like or approve of these regimes. But not to understand their histories is not to understand the mainspring of their external policies - in Russia's case its determination to rebuild its greatness, dismantled, as millions of Russians see it, by Mikhail Gorbachev and his Georgian Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, aided and abetted by the West. I would bet a sackful of roubles that Russian foreign policy would not be one jot different if it were a fully functioning democracy of the kind that we appear keen to spread around the globe.

What is to be done, as Lenin once put it? The first thing is to sweep away any rose-tinted illusions left from the Blair-Bush era. For the democracies of North America and Europe, relations with Russia are always going to be awkward and bumpy, at best co-operative and adversarial in equal measure. The fall of the Soviet Union did not wipe the slate clean. The Russia that we are dealing with today, with its fear of encirclement, its suspicion of foreigners and natural appetite for autocracy, is as old as the hills, long pre-dating communism. It is a Russia that will never be reassured by the West's protestations of pacific intent as it pushes Nato and the EU ever eastwards.

Most important of all, Russia and the West need to draw up rules of the road for the 21st century. Mr Miliband and others have condemned the notion of returning to the geopolitics of the Congress of Vienna which, in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, divided Europe into spheres of influence between empires and nations. They perhaps forget that what was agreed at Vienna held at bay for almost a century a general European war.

Something similar is needed today, based again on spheres of influence. Nato must renounce the provocative folly of being open to Georgian or, worse, Ukrainian membership. This strikes at the heart of the Russian national interest and offers no enhanced security to either Tbilisi or Kiev. As for Russia, it must be made unambiguously clear where any revanchist lunge westwards would provoke a military response by Nato. This may sound shocking and anachronistic to the modern sensibility. But, there is no other way to remove the scope for miscalculation, the mother of far too many wars.


It took an oldster to set an example to a cowed British public

It reminds us of what Britain once was before the Leftist takeover of British law. If either of the robbers below were to complain, it would be the oldster who would be prosecuted -- for "assault

As he waited at the bus stop William Grove, 84, was anxious about his civic responsibilities. He was due to be opening a community hall for a lunchtime gathering of his fellow pensioners. But as he paced the pavement his attention was drawn to a commotion outside the nearby jeweller's. Along with dozens of shoppers, Mr Grove saw the two balaclava-clad men smashing sledgehammers against the toughened glass windows.

"At first I thought it was a prank and that there were hidden cameras," he said. "The sledgehammers were bright orange - but when I realised it was real I went over." As scores of more able-bodied passers-by looked on, Mr Grove, who served in the RAF and helped to train the Indian Air Force, made his way towards the Ernest Jones shop in Richmond, southwest London, as fast as his legs could carry him.

"My plan was to carry out a move I had been taught in the Forces and wait for others to help. I was going to grab his head and put my knee in the man's back before grabbing him round the chest, holding him until others intervened," he told The Times. "It's unarmed combat. You creep up behind somebody and grab them. One of them had his arm through the window and I knew then that he was partially disabled. There was no way he could swing the hammer and he had to be careful about getting a severe arterial wound. I was going for his head rather than his balaclava."

But the raider's balaclava came off in his hand and the would-be robber turned, preparing to attack his assailant, only to be shocked to find it was a grey-haired pensioner. The two men ran off, dropping their sledgehammers and leaving behind the balaclava. "As soon as this happened I think they were both so taken by surprise at what I did that they just ran off. I didn't have time to be scared, it was all over in about two minutes."

The hero of the hour then turned to the gathering crowd, smiled, ambled to the bus stop and stepped on board: his crime-fighting cameo on Thursday was over. Mr Grove, a former civil servant, said he had to rush off as he was late for a meeting and, as he had the only key, he did not want people to have to wait in the cold.

Nick Thompson, a 35-year-old IT technician who works opposite the store, watched the drama unfold. "It was a busy day on the high street and there were crowds of shoppers watching. But these days people don't want to have a go in case a robber has a weapon. Everyone was standing back when this old guy at the bus stop decided he was not just going to stand there and watch. He went over and started flapping at one of the robbers. "He grabbed him from behind around his shoulders and managed to pull his balaclava off his face. The robber turned around and saw the old guy and just could not believe his eyes. He could not believe that somebody that age had taken him on. If it had been somebody younger, he probably would have whacked him. "If he had hit the old man with the sledgehammer he could easily have killed him. The old man risked his life against someone much younger and bigger. He is a hero."

But Mr Grove insisted that he was no hero. "They were just incompetent," he said, before adding: "The bravery thing has been exaggerated, please play it down." And in what is probably the last straw for the robbers Mr Grove also walked away with a Rolex watch - courtesy of the jeweller. Mr Grove said: "Well, I will probably raffle it. I have a perfectly good clockwork watch I inherited from my father, and it keeps perfect time."

Police are looking for two black men aged between 18 and 20.


Exposing a cult

That Mother Teresa was a lot less of a saint than is popularly believed has been mentioned before (e.g. here) so the following is not a great surprise

Malcolm Muggeridge's documentary about Mother Teresa, Something Beautiful For God, changed at least two lives: his own (the journalist famously converted to Catholicism afterwards) and that of Southern Highlands teenager Colette Livermore.

Livermore was a studious, confident and not especially religious school captain type, bent on becoming a doctor. But seeing Something Beautiful For God, and television images of the famine in Biafra soon after, changed all that. In 1972, at the age of 18, Livermore shocked her family by donning the blue-bordered white sari of Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity. "Trust me to express teenage rebellion in such a submissive way," she says wryly.

As a nun, Livermore lost her name, her possessions and nearly all contact with her family. For 11 years, she helped the poorest of the poor in places as diverse as Manila's "garbage mountain", Bourke, Papua New Guinea and Calcutta, receiving notes from Mother Teresa bolstering her faith or admonishing her "pride". In 1983, Livermore left the order, driven by a crisis of faith and a frustration at its methods, especially the way it discouraged independent thought.

Soon after, she began to write down some of her experiences, based on her diaries and letters. She gives the impression that the act of writing was part memoir, part therapy. "I found the whole thing so paradoxical, and so confusing, because I'd given my best to Mother Teresa's order and it had just gone pear-shaped," Livermore says.

Twenty five years after Livermore left the order, her book has been published. Hope Endures, Livermore believes, is the first inside story of a Missionary of Charity. "There are quite a lot of people that have left and I don't think their stories have been told, really. I just wanted to talk about it, and to talk about the difficulties and the constraints and the paradoxes within the order."

MCs are expected to love and serve the poor, live like them and, in Mother Teresa's words, obey commands from superiors "promptly, simply, blindly and cheerfully". Livermore found it increasingly hard to equate unquestioning obedience with goodness, especially when orders were wrong or illogical.

From the start it was a hard life. After catching the train from Moss Vale to Melbourne to begin her training, Livermore was handed a bucket (for washing, bathing and housework) and ordered not to talk between meals. Every day began with prayers at 4.40am. As she progressed towards becoming a full, "professed" Missionary of Charity, she was given a new name, Sister Tobit, and haircut, a ragged crew-cut, a blue-bordered white sari - and a wire chain with inward-pointing spikes to wear around her waist ("to share the sufferings of Christ and the poor").

The MCs' individual identities, even individual thoughts, were stripped away. Reading her book, I venture, anyone who wasn't aware of the order's good works and Christian philosophy might think . She finishes the thought for me. "You'd think you were in a cult," she says.

These days Livermore is a GP on the Central Coast but she says she had trouble settling into civilian life. She originally wanted to call her book Emerging From Mother Teresa's Shadow. Even 11 years after the death of "Mother" (as Livermore calls her), her shadow looms large. Livermore has proved her resourcefulness and intelligence working - as a nun and more recently as a doctor, in some of the most difficult places on Earth - but she speaks softly, in sentences that often trail off or end in nervous laughter.

She flips through photo albums full of brown-eyed children, sisters in saris and missives from Mother Teresa. "That's the one when I left saying that she thought it was the devil going as an angel of light and all that sort of thing," she says. "This one's, 'Come back home and I'll send you to Africa, where the suffering of the people will help you . I'm sure it's the devil, the father of lies, with his lies trying his best to destroy your beautiful vocation."'

It's odd to read such sentiments, written in the strong, round hand of the woman most likely to become a saint, while sitting on a Central Coast sofa beside their mild-mannered recipient. Some of the letters are a far cry from Mother Teresa's "angel of mercy" image. So was Christopher Hitchens's diatribe, "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory And Practice", right?

Livermore bridles. "I thought his book was quite unfair. I think Mother was a woman of integrity . He thought she was a hypocrite and she was dishonest and all that sort of thing. I don't think she was at all. I think she thought that God could use anybody to do good: God can use Judas and God can use Pilate, so God can use the guy in Haiti [Baby Doc Duvalier, from whom Mother Teresa accepted contributions]. "I don't think she was disingenuous at all. I think she was very sincere and I think she was following the maps as she saw them, but - I know it sounds presumptuous - I thought those maps were wrong."

Those maps also led Mother Teresa to "a very lonely and dark place", a trial of faith. "She talked about the terrible pain of loss, of God not being God, of God not really existing," Livermore says. "She said that there were so many questions but she couldn't really explore them because of the blasphemy . She was scared to explore them."

Livermore was suffering her own crisis as she worked with the poor, saving some and watching helplessly as others died of dysentery or tuberculosis. There were "amazing moments" but also frustrations. She came to resent the lack of training; rules that frowned on going for solitary walks or reading newspapers (MCs had to maintain "custody of the eyes") - and, especially, how any questioning was criticised as "pride". "You had to keep quiet, you had to suppress your intellect. Mother said that God uses the weak to confound the strong and the unintelligent to confound the knowledgeable, so it was almost lack of faith to try and use your head."

When Livermore was working in Manila, a rule was introduced that no new admissions could be made on a Thursday. When a desperately ill child turned up on a Thursday, Livermore was rebuked for trying to help. Her agonised letter to Calcutta got a reply telling her it was her duty to say yes to her superior and no to the person in need. Livermore begs to differ: "To me, you have to always keep the inner self in there, you have to have a life congruent with your beliefs, your own moral compass."

She was working in Bourke when she resigned. Her mother picked her up in Dubbo and took her home. It took Livermore a long time to feel comfortable in Western clothes, especially trousers, even when she enrolled at university in Queensland to study medicine.

The book makes it clear that Livermore had doubts from the start. So why didn't she leave the MCs earlier? "That's been a bit of a mystery to me," she says. "I think it was because I was in a place where I couldn't have access to outsiders to give me my bearings. It was almost like brainwashing, that I thought that this was God's will for me, that God called me to do this, and that if I left I'd be somehow cut off from God's will or something . I don't really know. Maybe I just didn't have enough strength of character to leave."

Afterwards, her faith fell away gradually. She was in Rome when Mother Teresa was beatified - a "catalyst" in her decision to write a book. She thinks there needs to be a discussion about the Missionaries of Charity "because if Mother Teresa becomes a saint, it will be solidified in stone. Everything will be hard to change because she's a saint. I just thought it should be discussed or examined or talked about, because it seems to me there is such a paradox between the image of compassion and the fairly non-compassionate attitude within the order." Mother Teresa requires another miracle to be eligible for sainthood. "And I'm happy for her to become a saint," Livermore says. "We just need to explore the paradox a bit."

Today Livermore is an agnostic who retains a sense of wonder. She believes she did good work as a nun and that the MCs continue to do much good. Although she regrets not having children, she says she had gained much from her 11 years in the order. What sort of things? "The suspicion of too much materialism and too much consumerism . and the fact that I think we have to keep on looking beyond our gate, beyond our comfort zone, to the other side. I think we're all getting a bit insular and looking after No.1," she says. "Belief is a sort of catalyst to get you beyond yourself."

She still admires the order's idea "that the sacred is in the poor and the marginalised" and worries that, if society as a whole loses belief, it will lose its sensitivity to such people. "I did quite feel my loss of belief, actually, because to me that's what gave me hope - hope that there'd be ultimate justice and hope that these kids that died, that there'd be some justice for them."

What form does hope take for her now? "It takes the form of just trying to enjoy what beauty there is. I think you find hope in the people you love and who love you, and beautiful things, and making differences in small ways."



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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Saturday, November 01, 2008

More disgust at non-existent BBC standards

There is immense respect for the Queen in Britain but among Leftists, not so much

While fury against the BBC over Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross was at its peak, the corporation brazenly aired a highly offensive remark about the Queen. During the comedy show Mock The Week on Wednesday evening, Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle made a 'disgracefully foul' so-called joke. Asked to think of something the Queen would not say in her Christmas speech, he put on a high voice and said: 'I have had a few medical issues this year - I'm now so old that my p**** is haunted.'

The decision to allow the 'joke' to be aired on the show at 10pm, hours after Brand resigned, has led to renewed anger among viewers. Boyle's 'gag', in a Mock The Week repeat, is just one example of the depths to which the BBC has fallen. The Daily Mail has uncovered further examples of bad language and degrading remarks given airtime by the corporation.

John Beyer, of Mediawatch UK, said of the Mock The Week remark: 'It is very offensive and should not have been broadcast. It is indicative of the sloppy way in which this kind of thing gets on air. 'There is a great deal of respect for the Queen and people do feel very strongly about any kind of disrespectful comments about her. It compounds what is going on at the moment.

'One has to acknowledge that the BBC is in the frontline of producing really excellent material, but when it comes to lapses of judgment like this you really have to look at the way things go on air. 'Clearly, there needs to be an assessment as to whether the chain of command that has been referred to time and again over the Ross and Brand affair is actually functioning.'

David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, urged BBC viewers who were offended to hold off from paying their licence fee until the last possible moment in protest. 'If the BBC wishes to continue to take taxpayers' money it is going to have to become accountable to the people it serves,' he said. 'Ordinary, decent people who are struggling to pay their mortgages must wonder why overpaid buffoons are being rewarded for making foul comments about elderly people who have always behaved with the utmost decorum. 'It was a disgracefully foul comment to make about any lady. 'Just because the Queen is the Queen, it doesn't mean she doesn't have feelings, and she should not be subjected to that kind of comment on a national TV programme.'


British planning laws: When a shed is not a shed (but a shedload of confusion)

James Dedman's battle with the planning laws highlights their absurdity

It has taken over a year for James Dedman to resolve his planning dispute with East Hampshire District Council, involving many hours talking with planners, planning inspectors and consultants. Perhaps what he most needed, however, was a team of philosophers to answer the question: has a building ceased to exist when it is temporarily missing three walls during reconstruction?

In August 2006, James gained planning permission to convert a redundant cart shed in the village of Froxfield into holiday accommodation. Given that the building was in a conservation area, he was under no illusions about the sensitivity required. Indeed, the planning application stated: "The external materials to be used shall match, as closely as possible, in type, colour and texture those of the existing building." But this was not a problem: he is a specialist builder in the renovation of old buildings and had worked on such projects many times before.

One thing he has learned over the years is that you cannot always convert an old farm building directly into a modern home and obey all building regulations. Sure enough, when he started working on the cart shed it became clear that the walls and roof were in such a poor condition that they would never get past a building inspector. The walls, built without modern foundations, had to be underpinned, and the rotten roof timbers had to be replaced. "So I carefully took down three of the walls, storing all the materials so that they could be reused, and took the opportunity to clear off some modern cement, which should never have been used on the building," he says.

Before James could rebuild the walls, however, an anonymous villager complained to East Hampshire District Council that the building had been demolished. The council sent out a compliance officer to investigate, and, in August 2007, sent James a letter, stating: "I must advise that as the cart shed has had almost all of the structure apart from one wall either demolished or removed, there is no cart shed left to convert, and therefore the current planning permission cannot now be implemented." The letter went on to say that Mr Dedman was welcome to submit a new application for the construction of a new building - but added that it was highly unlikely permission would be granted because "there is a presumption against any new buildings in the countryside''.

Between the lines of bureaucrat-speak exists a fascinating philosophical question: if you take something apart and put it back together again, is it the same or does it become different? Indeed, are the millions who pay to go to see Stonehenge each year being sold a pup because the structure, as it exists, is largely the work of Victorian reconstruction?

Fascinating as it was to ponder this, James would rather have got on with his building project. "It put me out of business for six months and was a very long and expensive process," he says. "But finally, I have won the case on appeal and rebuilding work will with luck be starting in six months' time."

Asked to comment on losing the case, East Hampshire District Council has replied with an anodyne statement: "Whilst ultimately deciding that the new building was acceptable, the secretary of state has put on the appropriate conditions to safeguard the area from inappropriate development." In fact, the original planning permission already provided this - stating that the original materials must be retained.

The impossible situation in which James found himself - damned if he took the building down, damned if he tried to convert it without taking it down - is far from unique. Anyone with experience of building projects, particularly those which involve old buildings, will know of the often contradictory demands of planning departments, listed building officers and building control teams who fail to speak to each other.

Just because one official tells you it is fine to do something doesn't mean that there won't be another ready to pounce on you, fine you - or even clap you in jail, as Ray Kutscher-Byrne recently found to his cost. The soldier- turned-sculptor came across two pearl mussels while undertaking a 20,000 pound project to shore up the bank of the River Doon next to his Ayrshire cottage. Many builders would have tossed the mussels back in the river but, realising that they were a protected species, he put them in a bucket and reported his find to the fisheries board.

When a survey showed no other mussels present he was allowed to continue. Or at least he thought he was, until a few months later a police officer turned up on his doorstep and charged him with disturbing a protected species, an offence which carries a sentence of up to six months in jail. He was later admonished.

"What you often find is that there are two pieces of legislation side by side that are contradictory and neither of which takes precedence over the other," says Matthew Slocombe of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

No one wants to see a situation where developers are allowed to bulldoze old buildings at whim. On the other hand, it would help if the various strands of building legislation were coherent - and the officials employed to uphold them would pick up the phone and speak to each other a little more.


Black British police guilty of embarrassing case of mistaken identity

It was a case of mistaken identity which the National Black Police Association will not repeat in a hurry. Delegates attending the opening day of the organisation's national conference were expecting a keynote speech from David Davis, the ex-shadow Home Secretary and champion of civil liberties. Their star attraction duly took to the stage, but turned out to be the wrong Conservative backbench MP. Even more unexpected was the speech he delivered, which provoked widespread outrage, heckling, slow handclapping and a protest walkout.

Instead of David Davis, the event's organisers had somehow invited David Davies, the little-known Tory member for Monmouth who happens to sit on the Commons home affairs select committee. Mass confusion and no little embarrassment in the ranks turned to astonishment when the 38-year-old MP, elected to Westminster in 2005, began to speak.

Mr Davies, already developing a reputation for his hang 'em and flog 'em approach to law and order, had decided to accuse the National Black Police Association (NBPA) of being racist for denying membership to white officers. "To me, it is a shame that full membership of the BPA is open only to those of black, Asian or Middle Eastern origin," he began. "Tackling racism and unfair treatment of ethnic minorities is something which is taken seriously by members of every race in the police force and yet the clear implication is that white people do not share this concern.

"It could be argued that this policy is explicitly racist, in that it bars white people, and implicitly racist in suggesting that white people care less about racism than people of black, Middle Eastern, Asian or African origin." Warming to his theme, Mr Davies suggested that the NBPA's membership policy "would be unacceptable and probably illegal in virtually any other organisation in this country".

The MP, who serves as a special constable in London, proceeded to offer the association some helpful advice on taking alleged cases of racial discrimination to employment tribunals. It would be a good idea, he suggested, to "try to establish the veracity of claims being made by the applicant before taking matters to the courts".

"It is human nature that if we are denied a promotion, we find it easier to convince ourselves and others that our race, religion, sex or sexual orientation is to blame, rather than our abilities." The most senior Muslim police officer in England, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, is currently pursuing a race discrimination case against the force over, among other issues, its failure to promote him. He had been due to attend yesterday's conference but was unavoidably detained elsewhere. Mr Ghaffur was thus denied Mr Davies's tip that "an organisation which brings forward unfounded or vexatious claims risks its own reputation and its ability to help people who genuinely need it".

However, Ali Dizaei, the Met Commander - currently suspended over misconduct allegations - who is also the BNPA president, was present in the conference hall at York Racecourse to hear Mr Davies's final words of wisdom. They focused on the Metropolitan Black Police Association's recent decision, in response to Mr Dizaei's suspension, to demand that all potential ethnic minority recruits should boycott the force. "As a result... the BPA has become the only publicly-funded organisation to say that the police should be for whites only."

Choosing his words carefully, an NBPA spokesman later described Mr Davies's contribution as "thought-provoking". Association members were, he said, "mature enough to listen to opinions that aren't shared by us".

Some delegates were less sanguine. When Mr Davies faced a question and answer session during the afternoon, he was slow handclapped and half a dozen NBPA members walked out of the hall in protest. Dave Macfarlane, general secretary of the NBPA's London branch, stood up to accuse the MP of being "like the BNP in the 1980s". "I'm sick and tired of white people coming here to insult us," he said.

Another delegate, Vinny Tomlinson, from Merseyside, suggested that Mr Davies had displayed an astonishing "ignorance and immaturity in his lack of understanding of racial issues".

"You invited me to come here. If you wanted someone just to turn up and give the same old speech, you should have picked somebody else," was the MP's response. Next year, they will.


Political Predictions and Nationalism

An excerpt from George Orwell -- writing in the Partisan Review, Winter, 1945

So far as I can see, all political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome. For example, right up to May of this year the more disaffected English intellectuals refused to believe that a Second Front would be opened. They went on refusing while, bang in front of their faces, the endless convoys of guns and landing-craft rumbled through London on their way to the coast. One could point to countless other instances of people hugging quite manifest delusions because the truth would be wounding to their pride. Hence the absence of reliable political prediction.

To name just one easily isolated example: who foresaw the Russo-German pact of 1939? A few pessimistic Conservatives foretold an agreement between Germany and Russia, but the wrong kind of agreement, and for the wrong reasons. So far as I am aware, no intellectual of the Left, whether russophile or russophobe, foresaw anything of the kind.

For that matter, the Left as a whole failed to foresee the rise of Fascism and failed to grasp that the Nazis were dangerous even when they were on the verge of seizing power. To appreciate the danger of Fascism the Left would have had to admit its own shortcomings, which was too painful; so the whole phenomenon was ignored or misinterpreted, with disastrous results.

The most one can say is that people can be fairly good prophets when their wishes are realizable. But a truly objective approach is almost impossible, because in one form or another almost everyone is a nationalist... The most intelligent people seem capable of holding schizophrenic beliefs, or disregarding plain facts, of evading serious questions with debating-society repartees, or swallowing baseless rumours and of looking on indifferently while history is falsified. All these mental vices spring ultimately from the nationalistic habit of mind, which is itself, I suppose, the product of fear and of the ghastly emptiness of machine civilization....

I believe that it is possible to be more objective than most of us are, but that it involves a moral effort.

[note* once you accept the immoral act as moral, you no longer have the morality to tell anymore. So once you accept that it's a moral goodness to steal from some by force for the crime of working harder and doing better, you no longer have a working moral compass to find any other moral direction. All morals then can be twisted to say what you WANT rather than what you need to know. if your compass doesn't point true north anymore, then you cant use it to get home]

One cannot get away from one's own subjective feelings, but at least one can know what they are and make allowance for them.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.


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