The creeping dictatorship of the Left... 

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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.


30 April, 2010

Another gross failure by British Social workers

They just don't want to know about the underclass. Persecuting minor infractions by the middle class is what gets them off

Social services repeatedly missed opportunities to protect a 14-year-old girl from her parents despite concerns about the family and reports of physical abuse.

The parents, who were jailed yesterday, sexually abused the girl and traded indecent images of her with an American paedophile, Plymouth Crown Court was told.

The teenager was “brainwashed” into believing that the abuse was her own fault. She refused to co-operate with the police investigation or give a statement and tried to claim that she took the indecent images herself, the court was told.

The parents, who cannot be identified to protect the girl, had been known to social services for at least three years before her birth and her older brother had been taken into care and adopted. Between her birth and 2002 the children’s department was called in seven times because of repeated complaints of abuse.

When she was seven she was taken into foster care for a short time, during which her carers expressed concern that she was “over-sexualised”. Despite this she was returned to her parents by social workers.

The court was read a comment by Judge Miranda Robertshaw, who is hearing care proceedings in the Family Court. She said: “The assessment of the local authorities is almost incomprehensible given the previous family history and the vulnerability of such a child.”

The girl was taken out of school at the age of 13 when her parents claimed she was being taught at home, but no checks were made by the authorities. A psychiatric report said the girl developed “accommodation syndrome” and became completely compliant to her father’s wishes.

The father, aged 43, admitted sexual activity with a child, four offences of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, and making and distributing indecent images. He was jailed for ten years.

Her mother, 39, admitted two counts of inciting a child to engage in sex acts, child cruelty, and making an indecent image. She was jailed for three years.

Bronwen Lacey, director of services for children at Plymouth City Council, said: “The last contact with the then social services department was in 2002. [Since then] Plymouth has made significant improvements in social care and safeguarding arrangements.” [Ho, ho!]


Leftist hate from "Slate"

'We Should Go After Them with Pitchforks, Knives, Guns, Clubs…'

Does anyone remember when the liberal intellectuals decried populism coming from the likes of Glenn Beck and other conservatives that was aimed at the direction the country is going under the leadership of President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress?

Throughout 2009, that so-called "bottom-barrel demagogy," as Troy Patterson called it in an post for Slate one year ago, was the focus of much consternation from the intellectual class that resides in the Northeastern U.S. corridor. One example was a critique of the Rick Santelli call that inspired the Tea Party movement, which John Dickerson called "impassioned, scattershot, and ultimately clownish" in a post for Slate back in February 2009.

Apparently it is OK to cry foul on so-called populist rants when the mouthpieces tend to be right-of-center. But now, with Congress debating financial regulation, this sort of above-the-fray approach has gone by the wayside, at least for Slate.com. On Slate's Political Gabfest podcast for April 22, moderator John Dickerson asked his panel consisting of Slate editor David Plotz and Slate senior editor Emily Bazelon, if Wall Street banks had a responsibility to self-regulate and do what's right as opposed to solely relying on legislation to set the boundaries. That inspired an "impassioned" populist response from Plotz.

"Can I spin this question in an entirely different way -- which is, I don't really care what Wall Street banks have to say because I'm not a politician," Plotz said. "I don't take a lot of donations from them. I think it is appalling and shocking that neither party, either President Obama who wants real financial reform or the Republicans who ought to as well have stood up and taken the reasonable American position, which is the behavior of Wall Street, is absolutely disgusting."

But Plotz took it a step further than Santelli or Beck ever have and suggested actual means to express outrage - hopefully metaphorically, but it isn't clear. He cited an April 9 story from ProPublica that contended a hedge fund called Magnetar prolonged the housing bubble and stories from Michael Lewis' much-ballyhooed book, "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine" as the sources of this outrage.

"And we shouldn't talk to them, try to persuade them," he continued. "We should burn them down. We should go after them with pitchforks, knives, guns, clubs we find, mace - anything, because it's appalling. You only need to read the story that ProPublica did about the hedge fund Magnetar and what they did or Michael Lewis' ‘The Big Short' or these stories about Goldman to realize these guys are corrupt."

Plotz expressed frustration that Wall Street has managed to command a lot of America's "intellectual energy" and no one seems to care.

"They're using -- there's way too much American intellectual energy going into creating essentially gambling instruments which have nothing to do with improving the efficiency of the American economy. And like to go at it, just tooth and nail and not to give a damn about what Wall Street says and just populist fury. There's so little populist fury. The behavior is disgusting."


Belgium bans burkas: Women who refuse to show faces to be jailed for a week under draft law

Belgium became the first European country to impose a full ban on wearing a burka last night. Its parliament approved a draft law which states women can be jailed for hiding their faces in public. The bill - which must be rubber-stamped by the Belgian senate - is set to become law by July.

Centre-Right MP Daniel Bacquelaine said last night: 'The notion of recognising people in the street is essential to maintain public order. 'It's also a question of human dignity. The full face veil turns a woman into a walking prison.'

The ground-breaking legislation comes just ten days after an earlier vote on banning the burka was scuppered by the collapse of the country's parliament and resignation of its prime minister, Yves Leterme. Despite the political turmoil, MPs in the fragile five-party coalition managed to push through the controversial law yesterday evening.

It means anyone will be banned from covering their face in a public place, including the street, shops, offices, schools and hospitals. Women will be fined £110 for the first offence. If they refuse to pay or are caught a second time, they can be jailed for a week. It is estimated up to 400 of the country's 280,000 Muslims wear the burka in public.

The move comes as other countries consider bringing in similar legislation. There is widespread support for a ban on burkas, or full face veils, and niqabs, which cover the head and face but leave the eyes visible, in the Netherlands.

In Switzerland, voters recently supported a ban on the construction of new minarets, while France is preparing to vote in July on its own law banning Islamic headwear.

Under French proposals, women would be fined up to £600 for hiding their faces, and be 'unveiled' at a police station so they could be identified. Husbands who forced their wives to wear burkas would be sent to prison.

Jean-Francois Cope, president of France's ruling UMP party, said this week: 'The prime minister has told us the new law on wearing burkas would be adopted by mid-September. 'A recent survey found 70 per cent of French people are opposed to the wearing of full face veils in public.'

Despite widespread support for a ban, France's highest legal body, the Council of State, has warned any law could be overturned by EU human rights laws. Belgium's law could also be challenged by the same legislation.


More Multicultural delights in Australia: Polynesian versus African

From what I have seen, Africans do tend to talk loudly on their mobile phones, and anybody who does that is annoying and should in my view be reminded of good manners. The reminder in this case was undoubtedly extreme, however.

I actually have used a rather good remedy in similar situations. Without looking at the offending party, I have myself spoken up in an exceptionally loud voice saying at some length how ignorant it is for people to talk so loudly that other people have to listen to their inane conversations. I have found that remedy to be effective but you probably have to be pretty assertive to use it.

A BRISBANE father-of-four brutally bashed a young rail commuter for speaking too loudly on his mobile telephone, a court has been told. The Brisbane District Court was this morning told Popani Fala Tovale, 40, fractured the nose and left cheek of Chernor Hadi Bah, 20, after punching him up to three times in a so-called “phone rage” attack while travelling on a Brisbane to Beenleigh commuter train on September 6 last year.

The court was told Tovale, a Samoan national, attacked Mr Bah after calling him an "African" and ordering him to get off the passenger train at Coopers Plains, 15km south of Brisbane, for talking too loudly on his phone.

Prosecutor Jacob Robson said Mr Bah had been on the phone speaking with his father and was in the process of trying to end the call when Tovale repeatedly punched him in the head -- leaving him with a fractured nose, left cheek bone and numerous deep lacerations.

He said Tovale told Mr Bah: "Hey, get off the train you African. Why are you talking on the phone?" "Just get off this train or move away from here."

Mr Robson said Mr Bah replied: "I think I am allowed to talk on the phone if I don't talk loudly."

The court was told Tovale punched Mr Bah so hard he was knocked unconscious and later required surgery to insert a plate to repair his cheek and suture his numerous facial cuts.

Mr Robson said Tovale later told police he attacked Mr Bah because he was in a "bad mood" after having an argument with his sister. He said although Tovale called Mr Bah an "African" it appeared their was no suggestion the attack was not racially motivated. "It's not a premeditated racial attack," he said. "The main motivation was (Tovale) was in a bad mood and it was the way (Mr Bah) was talking that upset him."

Tovale was sentenced to 18-month's jail after pleading guilty to one count of grievous bodily harm. He will be eligible for parole on October 30.

The Crown also tendered a victim impact statement, written by Mr Bah, which revealed he now feared people of "islander appearance."

Judge Greg Koppenol, in sentencing Tovale, said unprovoked and brutally violent attacks in public places would not be tolerated by the courts. "There was no provocation for this brutal attack," he said. "Brutal violence leading to serious injury should attract the appropriate (jail) sentence."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


29 April, 2010

The roots of racism are in our brains, based on empathy

The roots of racial prejudice lie deep within the brain, research has suggested. A study found that when we watch someone from our own race do something our brain simulates the action mentally as a form of empathy, known as 'mirroring'. But when we see someone of a different race do the same thing we make much less effort to empathise.

Researchers asked a group of white men to watch film clips of white, black and Asian men picking up a glass of water and drinking.

While the men watched the videos the scientists hooked them up to machines that monitored whether their brains mimicked the action. The men's brains lit up most when watching someone of their own race.

All the viewers were white but the researchers believe the results would still have been similar with any other group.

Writing in the Journal Experimental Social Psychology, Dr Michael Inzlicht said he believed people are born with a tendency to group others on how like themselves they are.

Dr Inzlicht said the research did not necessarily mean prejudice was innate, adding that discrimination about race, religion or hair colour was 'probably learnt'.

[Inzlicht is a great one for making unwarranted inferences and drawing strange conclusions. His own findings often don't seem to suit him but they are certainly interesting on this occasion. They could just show that people are more interested in people of their own race but, although not too surprising, that does seem worth stating]


A non-dogmatic feminist on female IQ

Richard Lynn, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Ulster, is a brave man. In a letter to The Times responding to a lament by Susan Greenfield about the dearth of women in science, the professor came to a stinging conclusion. It’s the stupid genes, stupid.

Women are simply not as clever as men, he wrote. Besides, they have different types of intelligence — men are stronger on reasoning and maths, while women have more verbal intelligence. Thus men are over-represented in the physical sciences and women can make successful newspaper columnists. Gee thanks, Prof.

To judge by the deluge of furious responses from Times readers, women are just a little peeved at the professor’s verdict. Amid the vitriol, however, no one paused to ponder this question: are we more stupid than men? What if the professor is right?

The liberators of women believed that once the patriarchy was overthrown, the differences between men and women would disappear. Gender was a cultural construct. My generation of women, the lucky inheritors of our mothers’ battle, grew up believing that there was no limit to what we could achieve. Yet in this post-patriarchal world, gender still looms large. Men and women are different. Some of these differences may be explicable as lingering legacies of the patriarchy, but not all of them.

Men may be from Mars, but does that mean that their brains are, as Professor Lynn implies, better?

We are at the early stage of unpicking the mysteries of the mind. We can play God, creating matter where there was none before. We can manufacture antimatter, and split the atom down to fundamental particles. But we can not yet quantify the impact of culture on grey matter. We have not untangled nature from nurture.

One of Professor Lynn’s contentions is that men have a greater range of intelligence — there are more men with very high IQs and more with very low. We women muddle along in mediocrity.

In The Strangest Man, Graham Farmelo’s book about the mathematical genius who first posited the existence of antimatter, Paul Dirac emerges as a man of extreme intelligence, and no social skills. His principal guide in theoretical physics was a quest for beauty — the more beautiful the maths, the nearer the truth. It takes a certain type of brain to see the beauty in maths.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, of the University of Cambridge, says that there is a link between the scientific brain and autism in men. He argues that men possess brains that are better at systematising and analysing. Women’s brains are more about empathy and social skills. In the Baron-Cohen view of the world, scientific genius dances with autism. The “extreme male brain” produces both extraordinary talent and absurdly poor social skills.

There is a convincing counter-argument, however, that embedded cultural stereotypes, rather than genes, are hampering women in science. The lack of female winners of Nobel prizes actually supports the nurture argument. Neither Rosalind Franklin nor Jocelyn Bell won Nobels for their respective work on DNA and radio pulsars in space: two of the most important scientific developments of the past century, yet the female contribution was overlooked and belittled...

Some of those cultural influences have not gone away. Little girls are still swathed in pink and encouraged to embrace their inner princess. They are taught early that prettiness is the apogee of female ambition. As Mattel’s Barbie famously said, when prodded: “Math is hard!”

My own view, but I fear it is based largely on faith rather than hard evidence, is that Professor Lynn is profoundly and utterly wrong. One day science, rather than faith, may give us an answer.

And herein lies the real challenge for women. At present, it is easy to rebut the likes of Professor Lynn. His studies are based on IQ evidence, and IQ data is controversial at best. But what happens in the unlikely event that someone proves, definitively, that women’s brains are, on balance, not very good at science? Or that scientific genius is a very male preserve?

When Galileo threatened the fabric of the religious orthodoxy with his observations of the heavens, which proved Copernicus’s theory about the Earth orbiting the Sun, he ran up against the might of the Catholic Church. He invited his inquisitors to look through the telescope — yet they refused.

The new cultural orthodoxy is liberalism. Yet we liberals are remarkably illiberal when faced with dissent from our cosy, equality-driven view of the world. The American academic Lawrence Summers was forced to grovel publicly over remarks that innate ability, rather than discrimination, accounted for the dearth of female scientists.

One day, a scientist may come to us, and say: here is the telescope, there is the evidence. Look. Yesterday’s feminists would have argued that the telescope was made by a man, pointed by a man at man-filtered evidence. But times have changed, and a new generation of feminists must not allow dogma to trump fact. If nature and nurture are untangled, and the results are anathema to our feminist sensibilities, we must at least have sufficient courage to peer into the telescope.

SOURCE. (The lady cannot see the telescope. There is already plenty of evidence of differences between male and female brains)

The Strategic Foundations of the US-Israel Alliance

By Caroline B. Glick

Why a strong Israel is essential for US national security

Israel's status as the US's most vital ally in the Middle East has been so widely recognized for so long that over the years, Israeli and American leaders alike have felt it unnecessary to explain what it is about the alliance that makes it so important for the US.

Today, as the Obama administration is openly distancing the US from Israel while giving the impression that Israel is a strategic impediment to the administration's attempts to strengthen its relations with the Arab world, recalling why Israel is the US's most important ally in the Middle East has become a matter of some urgency.

Much is made of the fact that Israel is a democracy. But we seldom consider why the fact that Israel is a representative democracy matters. The fact that Israel is a democracy means that its alliance with America reflects the will of the Israeli people. As such, it remains constant regardless of who is power in Jerusalem.

All of the US's other alliances in the Middle East are with authoritarian regimes whose people do not share the pro-American views of their leaders. The death of leaders or other political developments are liable to bring about rapid and dramatic changes in their relations with the US.

For instance, until 1979, Iran was one of the US's closest strategic allies in the region. Owing to the gap between the Iranian people and their leadership, the Islamic revolution put an end to the US-Iran alliance.

Egypt flipped from a bitter foe to an ally of the US when Gamal Abdel Nasser died in 1969. Octogenarian President Hosni Mubarak's encroaching death is liable to cause a similar shift in the opposite direction.

Instability in the Hashemite kingdom in Jordan and the Saudi regime could transform those countries from allies to adversaries.

Only Israel, where the government reflects the will of the people is a reliable, permanent US ally.

America reaps the benefits of its alliance with Israel every day. As the US suffers from chronic intelligence gaps, Israel remains the US's most reliable source for accurate intelligence on the US's enemies in the region.

Israel is the US's only ally in the Middle East that always fights its own battles. Indeed, Israel has never asked the US for direct military assistance in time of war. Since the US and Israel share the same regional foes, when Israel is called upon to fight its enemies, its successes redound to the US's benefit.

Here it bears recalling Israel's June 1982 destruction of Syria's Soviet-made anti-aircraft batteries and the Syrian air force. Those stunning Israeli achievements were the first clear demonstration of the absolute superiority of US military technology over Soviet military technology. Many have argued that it was this Israeli demonstration of Soviet technological inferiority that convinced the Reagan administration it was possible to win the Cold War.

In both military and non-military spheres, Israeli technological achievements - often developed with US support - are shared with America. The benefits the US has gained from Israeli technological advances in everything from medical equipment to microchips to pilotless aircraft are without peer worldwide.

Beyond the daily benefits the US enjoys from its close ties with Israel, the US has three fundamental, permanent, vital national security interests in the Middle East. A strong Israel is a prerequisite for securing all of these interests.

America's three permanent strategic interests in the Middle East are as follows:

1 - Ensuring the smooth flow of affordable petroleum products from the region to global consumers through the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal.

2 - Preventing the most radical regimes, sub-state and non-state actors from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm.

3 - Maintaining the US's capacity to project its power to the region.

A strong Israel is the best guarantor of all of these interests. Indeed, the stronger Israel is, the more secure these vital American interests are. Three permanent and unique aspects to Israel's regional position dictate this state of affairs.

1 - As the first target of the most radical regimes and radical sub-state actors in the region, Israel has a permanent, existential interest in preventing these regimes and sub-state actors from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm.

Israel's 1981 airstrike that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor prevented Iraq from acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite US condemnation at the time, the US later acknowledged that the strike was a necessary precondition to the success of Operation Desert Storm ten years later. Richard Cheney - who served as secretary of defense during Operation Desert Storm - has stated that if Iraq had been a nuclear power in 1991, the US would have been hard pressed to eject Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army from Kuwait and so block his regime from asserting control over oil supplies in the Persian Gulf.

2 - Israel is a non-expansionist state and its neighbors know it. In its 62 year history, Israel has only controlled territory vital for its national security and territory that was legally allotted to it in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate which has never been abrogated or superseded.

Israel's strength, which it has used only in self-defense, is inherently non-threatening. Far from destabilizing the region, a strong Israel stabilizes the Middle East by deterring the most radical actors from attacking.

In 1970, Israel blocked Syria's bid to use the PLO to overthrow the Hashemite regime in Jordan. Israel's threat to attack Syria not only saved the Hashemites then, it has deterred Syria from attempting to overthrow the Jordanian regime ever since.

Similarly, Israel's neighbors understand that its purported nuclear arsenal is a weapon of national survival and hence they view it as non-threatening. This is the reason Israel's alleged nuclear arsenal has never spurred a regional nuclear arms race.

In stark contrast, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, a regional nuclear arms race will ensue immediately.

Although they will never admit it, Israel's non-radical neighbors feel more secure when Israel is strong. On the other hand, the region's most radical regimes and non-state actors will always seek to emasculate Israel.

3-- Since as the Jewish state Israel is the regional bogeyman, no Arab state will agree to form a permanent alliance with it. Hence, Israel will never be in a position to join forces with another nation against a third nation.

In contrast, the Egyptian-Syrian United Arab Republic of the 1960s was formed to attack Israel. Today, the Syrian-Iranian alliance is an inherently aggressive alliance against Israel and the non-radical Arab states in the region. Recognizing the stabilizing force of a strong Israel, the moderate states of the region prefer for Israel to remain strong.

From the US's perspective, far from impairing its alliance-making capabilities in the region, by providing military assistance to Israel, America isn't just strengthening the most stabilizing force in the region. It is showing all states and non-state actors in the greater Middle East it is trustworthy.

On the other hand, every time the US seeks to attenuate its ties with Israel, it is viewed as an untrustworthy ally by the nations of the Middle East. US hostility towards Israel causes Israel's neighbors to hedge their bets by distancing themselves from the US lest America abandon them to their neighboring adversaries.

A strong Israel empowers the relatively moderate actors in the region to stand up to the radical actors in the region because they trust Israel to keep the radicals in check. Today's regional balance of power in which the moderates have the upper hand over the radicals is predicated on a strong Israel.

On the other hand, when Israel is weakened the radical forces are emboldened to threaten the status quo. Regional stability is thrown asunder. Wars become more likely. Attacks on oil resources increase. The most radical sub-state actors and regimes are emboldened.

To the extent that the two-state solution assumes that Israel must contract itself to within the indefensible 1949 ceasefire lines, and allow a hostile Palestinian state allied with terrorist organizations to take power in the areas it vacates, the two-state solution is predicated on making Israel weak and empowering radicals. In light of this, the two-state solution as presently constituted is antithetical to America's most vital strategic interests in the Middle East.

When we bear in mind the foundations for the US's alliance with Israel, it is obvious that US support for Israel over the years has been the most cost-effective national security investment in post-World War II US history.


Buckley and Reagan, Fighting the Good Fight

Wherever he was — in New Guinea; in Gstaad, Switzerland; or at his home in Stamford, Connecticut — Bill Buckley kept his eye on the state of the conservative movement, including and most especially the political fortunes of Ronald Reagan. The two conservatives had first met in January 1961, when Reagan, then the host of the popular television program GE Theater, was to introduce Buckley to an assembly of mostly doctors and their wives at a Los Angeles high school. However, it was discovered that the microphone was dead, and the control room at the rear of the hall was locked. As the audience grew increasingly restless at the delay of the program, Reagan decided to take remedial action.

The future president walked to the side of the hall and looked through the window at the ledge running the length of the building some two stories above traffic. He slipped out the window and with his back to the wall sidestepped carefully on the parapet toward the control-room window. Reaching it, he broke the glass with his elbow and disappeared into the control room. “In a minute there was light in the upstairs room,” Buckley later wrote, “and then we could hear the crackling of the newly animated microphone.”

For Buckley, Reagan’s movements that night were a “nifty allegory of his approach to foreign policy” — the calm appraisal of a situation, the willingness to take risks, and then the decisive moment “leading to lights and sound — and music, the music of the spheres.”

The Yale University graduate and the Eureka College alumnus had much in common: Each was tall (Reagan 6?1?, Buckley 6?2?), handsome, ambitious, a gifted speaker with a ready wit, an inveterate reader with an abiding interest in ideas, and a star in his profession. Each was a committed conservative — Reagan the zealous convert from liberalism, Buckley the cradle conservative. Each had a strong libertarian streak and viewed government as almost always the problem, not the solution. (One of the earliest and most important influences on Buckley was the libertarian author and social critic Albert Jay Nock.) Each was a fierce anti-Communist who believed that you could only trust the Communists to be Communists — although Reagan would come to believe that you could trust some Communists if you carefully verified their actions. A close friendship developed, reinforced by Nancy Reagan’s warm approval of Bill Buckley and his wife, Pat, who knew many of the same socially prominent New Yorkers she did.

There was a significant intellectual difference between the two conservatives: Buckley’s innate skepticism — deepened by the influence of former Soviet spy Whittaker Chambers and National Review senior editor James Burnham — about the possibility of altering the course of history contrasted with Reagan’s sunny belief that, in the words of Thomas Paine, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

When Reagan ran for governor of California in 1966, NR enthusiastically endorsed his candidacy. By the early 1970s, Buckley was convinced that “Reagan was capable of becoming President.” Following Agnew’s exit in disgrace in 1973, the magazine dubbed Reagan the leader of conservatism. But after 20 often frustrating years of building a conservative alternative to the liberal establishment, Buckley could not help wondering what there was to lead.

In a November 1975 interview, a saturnine Buckley said: “As of this moment [the movement] is going nowhere.” At the 20th-anniversary dinner of National Review, Buckley described in detail the leftward tilt of Western civilization, led by American capitalists “fleeing into the protective arms of the government at the least hint of commercial difficulty.” He suggested that survival might well depend upon something like Albert Jay Nock’s “Remnant” — what Nock described as an elite group of writers and thinkers who would one day build a new and free society on the ruins of the modern welfare state

Still, Buckley would not submit to despair, because from the right angle it could be seen that “Communism is theoretically and empirically discredited.” All over the world, he said, “enslaved people continue to dream about freedom.” Inroads against poverty were successful “in almost exact correspondence to the vitality of the private sector.” And most significant of all, “there are no signs at all that God is dead. He appears to have survived even Vatican II.”

In these remarks we see the three major ideas that guided Bill Buckley from the beginning of his career: a contempt for Communism, a firm belief in private enterprise, and an abiding faith in God. As at previous anniversary dinners, Buckley pledged that he and the magazine would continue to persevere. “We have stood together for one-tenth the life span of this Republic,” he said, “and we must resolve to stand with it, and its ideals, forever.”

In the same interview in which Buckley said that the conservative movement was “going nowhere,” he added, “That would change if Reagan were to decide to challenge Mr. Ford in the primary.” Some conservatives, including leaders of the New Right and NR publisher William Rusher (but not Buckley), were pushing the idea of starting a third, conservative party. Reagan disavowed any interest in the idea. Conservatives lustily cheered Reagan at the 1975 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) when he asked, “Is it a third party that we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all the issues troubling the people?”

Reagan hesitated and then decided to do as Buckley had suggested: challenge incumbent president Gerald Ford for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination. A turning point for Reagan had been Ford’s refusal to meet with famed Russian dissident and author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. For Reagan and Buckley there was no greater anti-Communist than the man who wrote One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago. “The public acclaim by Solzhenitsyn of the kind of thing we were doing,” Buckley said, “was an enormous stroke in the ideological heavens, and his Gulag book simply broke the back of the intellectual pro-Communist Left.”

Buckley shared the movement’s elation when Reagan sought his party’s nomination — he had been encouraging Reagan to seek the presidency since at least 1973, and he backed the bid in his column, although he played no formal role in the campaign. He felt sharp disappointment when Ford won the nomination in a heartbreakingly close vote at the national convention — 1,187 delegates to 1,070. Reagan thanked his advisers and workers, many of whom were weeping, and reminded them that although “we lost . . . the cause goes on.” And he added a couple of lines from an old Scottish ballad, “I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile; though I am wounded, I am not slain. I shall rise and fight again.”



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


28 April, 2010

False history of slavery preached by the Left

By Thomas Sowell

The history of slavery across the centuries and in many countries around the world is a painful history to read-- not only in terms of how slaves have been treated, but because of what that says about the whole human species-- because slaves and enslavers alike have been of every race, religion and nationality.

If the history of slavery ought to teach us anything, it is that human beings cannot be trusted with unbridled power over other human beings-- no matter what color or creed any of them are. The history of ancient despotism and modern totalitarianism practically shouts that same message from the blood-stained pages of history.

But that is not the message that is being taught in our schools and colleges, or dramatized on television and in the movies. The message that is pounded home again and again is that white people enslaved black people.

It is true but it is also false in its implications. Just as Europeans enslaved Africans, North Africans enslaved Europeans-- more Europeans than there were Africans enslaved in the United States and in the 13 colonies from which it was formed.

The treatment of white galley slaves was even worse than the treatment of black slaves picking cotton. But there are no movies or television dramas about it comparable to "Roots," and our schools and colleges don't pound it into the heads of students.

The inhumanity of human beings toward other human beings is not a new story, much less a local story. There is no need to hide it, because there are lessons we can learn from it. But there is also no need to distort it, so that sins of the whole human species around the world are presented as special defects of "our society" or the sins of a particular race.

If American society and Western civilization are different from other societies and civilization, it is that they eventually turned against slavery, and stamped it out, at a time when non-Western societies around the world were still maintaining slavery and resisting Western pressures to end slavery, including in some cases armed resistance.

Only the fact that the West had more firepower than others put an end to slavery in many non-Western societies during the age of Western imperialism. Yet today there are Americans who have gone to Africa to apologize for slavery-- on a continent where slavery has still not been completely ended, to this very moment.

It is not just the history of slavery that gets distorted beyond recognition by the selective filtering of facts. Those who go back to mine history, in order to find everything they can to undermine American society or Western civilization, have very little interest in the Bataan death march, the atrocities of the Ottoman Empire or similar atrocities in other times and places.

Those who mine history for sins are not searching for truth but for opportunities to denigrate their own society, or for grievances that can be cashed in today, at the expense of people who were not even born when the sins of the past were committed.

An ancient adage says: "Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." But apparently that is not sufficient for many among our educators, the intelligentsia or the media. They are busy poisoning the present by the way they present the past.


Behind the Obama policy towards Israel

No, the Obamaites are not motivated by anti-Semitism. Their sentiments are actually more dangerous. President Obama believes that he understands Israel's best interests better than Israel's American supporters, and better than Israelis themselves do.

Speaking at Cairo University in June 2009, the president explained that looking at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict "from only one side or the other" would "blind one to the truth." That truth, he continued, was that the only possible solution was "two states where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security." Obama could see, even if the benighted parties could not, "that (a two-state solution) is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest." He said the same thing upon welcoming Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the Oval Office. Earlier this month, the president told The New York Times that while "we can't want (peace) more than (the parties do)," we are "setting out very clearly to both sides our belief that not only is it in the interests of each party to resolve these conflicts, but it's also in the interest of the United States."

To Israelis, who daily read of thwarted terrorist attacks, who gave up land for peace in Gaza and were rewarded with thousands of missiles fired at Israeli civilians, who can watch Palestinian TV teach Palestinian children that "their" country stretches from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, who see public squares on the West Bank named in honor of mass murderers of Israeli civilians, who see Syria attempting to build a nuclear reactor, Iran closing in on a bomb, and a festering civil war between Hamas and Fatah, the road to a two-state solution may not appear so obvious. Perhaps they lack Obama's clairvoyance.

In addition to the conceit that Obama understands Israel's interests better than Israelis do, the administration has also repeatedly stressed in recent weeks that a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian dispute is vital to American interests, and to saving American "blood and treasure." Settling the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, the Obamaites believe, is more important for America's long-term interests than preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. In fact, multiple emissaries have warned Israel against taking military action against Iran.

The administration's strong-arming of Israel didn't stop with the infamous 40-minute scolding Secretary of State Clinton delivered to Prime Minister Netanyahu when Israel had the temerity to build homes in its own capital. Mrs. Clinton intensified the pressure last week, complaining that Israel's recent steps to ease movement on the West Bank were "not sufficient to prove to the Palestinians that this embrace is sincere." The Palestinians scarcely need a representative since the administration is negotiating for them.

This is of a piece with the Obama administration's invertebrate approach to the rest of the Middle East. President Obama bows low to the Saudi King, has sent multiple emissaries to Syria's Bashar Assad, and has proclaimed a new dawn with Iran. In that same spirit, the State Department issued a plaintive request last week for the release of three American hikers Iran has been holding in prison for nine months. Failing that, our diplomats pleaded that the hikers' families be permitted to visit them.

The Obama administration is at least consistent. The foreign policy of self-abasement, weakness, and dithering that it thinks best for the United States is the one it is attempting to impose upon Israel.


Useless British police again

Motorist walks into police station to report vandalism ... but is told to PHONE call centre. They are only interested in political crimes

When vandals damaged Andy Bevan's car, he thought he was doing the sensible thing by visiting his local police station to report the attack. But to his astonishment, he was told he could not register the crime in person - and had to make a telephone call instead.

A community support officer handed Mr Bevan, 57, a card and asked him to ring the number on it. Mr Bevan, a retired industrial chemist, described the attitude of Humberside Police as 'ridiculous'. He said he visited Peeler House station in Hessle, near Hull, after his tyres were damaged because he wanted the culprits caught and wasn't concerned about getting a crime number for an insurance claim.

However, he was told only the command centre could deal with the incident - and not the officers at the station. He said: 'I told the PCSO at the counter my car was vandalised last night. He said words to the effect "have you rung?" 'I said I'd just popped in to report it, and he said, "you can't just pop in, you have to ring".

'I said it was absolutely outrageous and if I saw bank robbers going into a bank I couldn't come in and tell them that it was happening? They said that was different as it was a crime in progress. 'He said you have to ring in and gave me a card and that was it.

'He wasn't being officious - in fact I'd give him ten out of ten for bedside manner. But I just think it's ridiculous that you can't report a crime in a police station - end of story.' Mr Bevan was then told he could use the telephone inside the police station to report the crime

Mr Bevan, who has not made an insurance claim for the damage caused by the vandals, added: 'I actually wanted someone to be caught and punished but I don't think it's the police's remit any more.'

Humberside Police yesterday failed to clarify whether a mistake had been made, but insisted crimes could be reported in person or by telephone. Chief Superintendent Paul Davidson said: 'If a person wants to speak to an officer within a police station instead of the command centre or arrange a suitable time in which to take a statement, we can provide that facility. 'If this gentleman was not satisfied with the service he received, I would like to apologise to him and invite him to discuss the matter with me personally so we can reach a satisfactory outcome.'

The incident comes just weeks after a shopkeeper stopped another Humberside Police officer to ask for help in catching teenage thieves and was told to 'call the police'. Graham Taylor, 50, was chasing two teenagers who had stolen spirits from his newsagents, also in Hessle, East Yorkshire. He stopped an officer in a marked patrol car who told him 'you had better call the police' instead of giving chase.

Mr Taylor then rang 999 himself. However, the officers assigned to deal with the crime missed the radio call because they were celebrating at a colleague's retirement party.


Parents who spank their children should be prosecuted, says Europe human rights body

Parents who smack their children should be prosecuted for assault, a European human rights group said last night. The Council of Europe is calling for a complete ban on smacking across the continent, saying even the smallest slap can leave psychological damage. One official even compared parents who smack to men who violently beat their wives.

The Council says that Britain lags behind other countries who have initiated a ban.

It claims that one of the reasons that the UK has not put in place a ban is because of the 'traditional parent-child relationship' here which they claim is one of authority.

But the call from Europe to outlaw smacking provoked fury from parents' rights groups, who said it was wrong for Governments to try to dictate what parents could do in their own homes.

Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust said: 'The Council of Europe is failing to recognise that parents are authority figures in their children's lives. 'It is parents, and not national governments, who bear the responsibility of caring for children, nurturing them, and correcting them where necessary.

'As with any other authority figure, parents need to have sanctions at their disposal when their children misbehave, and they must be free to exercise their discretion and judgment with respect to their use. 'In a free society it is vital that parents should be allowed to bring up their children in a reasonable way, in line with their convictions.

'Generations of parents have proved the benefit of moderate smacking to correct their children's behaviour, and research continues to show its positive effects when used in the context of a loving home where children are respected and cherished. 'It has become a contentious issue only because of a vocal minority who are determined to undermine the authority of parents.'

European judges ruled a decade ago that smacking could breach children's rights and in the last three years some 20 countries have implemented a ban. Britain is among a handful of European states, including France and Poland, who are holding out against the pressure for a ban.

Corporal punishment is banned in British schools but parents have a defence against assault charges on the grounds of 'reasonable chastisement'.

Council of Europe deputy secretary general Maud de Boer-Buquicchio said even smacks which did not leave a mark could cause serious psychological harm. She said: 'Children are not mini-human beings with mini-human rights. 'Even if there are no visible scars on the children there can be other scars because of the humiliating effect.

'When we talk about violence against women everyone agrees with that and the same should be true for children. Human rights do not stop at the front door of people's homes. 'It is in my view important to remove the defence of smacking from the criminal law.'

She pointed to Sweden, where smacking was banned 30 years ago, and claimed its children were not more 'wild or indisciplined' as a result.

Academic research released earlier this year found children who are smacked by their parents grow up to be happier and more successful than those who are never physically disciplined.

It revealed children who are smacked before the age of six perform better at school once they reach their teenage years, are more likely to do voluntary work and go to university. But those who are smacked after six were more likely to misbehave and become involved in fights at school.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


27 April, 2010

Southern Poverty Law Center’s ‘Enemies List’ a Fantasy

The Southern Poverty Law Center's new list of scary "Patriots" connects people as various as Alex Jones, Ron Paul, and Glenn Beck into a vast conspiracy. Robert Stacy "the Other" McCain tries — and fails — to make sense of it all

Catherine Bleish is a 26-year-old libertarian who was a Ron Paul delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention. She is a leader of the Liberty Restoration Project which, among other things, opposes the federal “War on Drugs” and denounces the Patriot Act as “an assault against the civil liberties of Americans.” Perhaps you disagree with those views, but is Bleish dangerous?

The Southern Poverty Law Center seems to think so. In a special report called “Meet the ‘Patriots’” issued last week, the SPLC named Bleish as one of 35 people “at the heart of the resurgent movement.” The report — which also names WorldNetDaily publisher Joseph Farah and Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media — describes the movement thus:

“In the last year and a half, militias and the larger antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement have exploded, accompanied by the rapid expansion of other sectors of the radical right. … [T]he so-called Patriots [are] people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps, and force the United States into a socialistic ‘New World Order.’”

The SPLC’s scary references to militias and conspiracies and a “resurgent movement” very much echo Bill Clinton’s recent conflation of the tea party with Timothy McVeigh and, like Clinton, the Montgomery, Ala.-based organization singled out Rep. Michelle Bachmann, calling her an “enabler” of the Patriot movement. Also labeled “enablers” by the SPLC were Glenn Beck and Andrew Napolitano of Fox News, as well as Ron Paul, the Texas congressman whose quixotic 2008 presidential campaign helped turn Bleish into a full-time political activist.

A graduate of the University of Missouri who majored in communications, Bleish says she has postponed her graduate studies — she aims to get a master’s degree in political science — to become involved in a variety of libertarian projects. She participated in the July 2008 “Revolution March” of Paul supporters in Washington, D.C., and attended a May 2009 conference in Jekyll Island, Ga., that also included several others named in the SPLC “Patriot” report. The SPLC says that “seminal” meeting — organized by libertarian activist Bob Schulz — “helped lay the groundwork for the resurgence of the [Patriot] movement.”

Bleish says she’s not sure why the SPLC — which typically monitors hate groups like the KKK and the Aryan Nations — is now targeting libertarians like herself.

“They’re indirectly associating people who aren’t violent and aren’t racist with violence and racism, and that’s unfortunate,” Bleish said in a telephone interview.

If Bleish is considered a “conspiracy theorist,” that’s probably because of her group “Operation: De-Fuse,” which depicts the Department of Homeland Security as part of a “police/surveillance state” that is “militarizing and federalizing our police forces.”

Bleish and others say that this isn’t conspiracy theory, but conspiracy reality. The name of Operation: De-Fuse is a reference the DHS “fusion centers” such as the Missouri Information Analysis Center, which issued a controversial 2009 report identifying Ron Paul supporters and pro-life activists (as well as fans of Rambo movies and Tom Clancy novels) as potential terrorists.

“Militia members most commonly associate with 3rd party political groups,” the MIAC report said. “It is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitutional Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian material.”

If DHS is identifying third-party political movements as threats, is it irrational for supporters of those movements to consider the DHS a threat?

Regardless of the legitimacy of Bleish’s concerns about DHS, however, the SPLC report is at least correct in portraying Bleish as part of a “movement.” Looking over the “Patriot” report, Bleish identified about a dozen names on the list — including Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party — as people she’s communicated with or met at various events. But some of the names on the SPLC’s list call to mind the lyrics of an old Sesame Street song: “One of these things is not like the others.”

Why, for example, does the SPLC list that includes 9/11 “Truther” Alex Jones also name Kincaid, whose Accuracy in Media is a well-established conservative organization devoted to identifying media bias? In fact, Kincaid denounced the 9/11 “inside job” conspiracy theory as “absurd” in a recent column warning that Jones is “playing a destructive role” that could discredit the tea party movement.

Jones and Kincaid are clearly not part of the same “movement,” and there is no connection between Kincaid and libertarians like Bleish, except for their all being named in the same SPLC report....


Dog-fighting videos: a free speech issue

A US Supreme Court ruling rightly argues that all speech should be free, not just speech that is ‘socially beneficial’

Pit bull fighting is not the most likely starting-point for a debate about freedom of speech. Yet this week, following a US Supreme Court ruling in favour of a man previously imprisoned for producing videos of the pugnacious terriers, that’s precisely what it became.

‘Generations and generations of pit fighting have resulted in a very tough animal. These dogs will continue fighting even though most of their ear or a section of their mouth has been chewed off – or a leg rendered inoperable.’ This is an excerpt from the 1983 pit bull-loving classic Dogs of Velvet and Steel, penned with enthusiasm rather than good grammar by Robert ‘Bob’ Stevens, a 68-year-old from Virginia.

Judging by the many drooling, teeth-baring passages elsewhere amongst its 400-odd pages, it is fair to say that Stevens has a bit of a thing for pit bulls. He is fascinated by them – drawn inexorably, it seems, to the breed’s ‘gladiatorial tendencies’. As he readily admits, ‘I attended many pit fights and saw some real deep, hard biters’. Unfortunately for Stevens, this love of all things pit bull was to land him in serious trouble.

So it was that in 2005, Stevens became one of the first people to be convicted under the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, serving just over three years in prison. This was nothing to do with Dogs of Velvet and Steel itself; rather it concerned a series of films he had been selling under the same title. These featured, as you might expect given the defining obsession of Stevens’ life, pit bulls fighting. Not just footage of any old pit bulls fighting, but footage of pit bulls fighting in Japan, a country where dog fighting is still legal.

The problem for Stevens, however, was that the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act covered this. Drawn up in 1999 by US Congress in response to so-called ‘crush’ films – films showing attractive women crushing small animals to death, a craze which, I suspect, passed many of us by – this law prohibited the portrayal of living animals being ‘intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed’. It was irrelevant, under the terms of the law, that the act being portrayed was legal in the country where it took place. It was enough for that conduct to violate federal or state law where ‘the creation, sale, or possession takes place’. Under this law, Stevens’ desire to express his love of pit bulls fighting was a criminal act.

Which is surely a good thing, right? After all, banning films of dogs fighting, maiming and mutilating each other is no great loss to civilisation. In fact, such ‘portrayals’, such ‘expressions’, sound pretty uncivilised, barbaric almost. A good, progressive law, then?

Well, no, not really. In fact this law contains within itself a regressive, anti-democratic, anti-freedom germ. It implies that it is up to the state to declare what is a worthy object of expression and what is not. Which is why this week’s US Supreme Court ruling, declaring the law unconstitutional insofar as it violates the First Amendment, is so welcome.

As the Supreme Court views the matter, the 1999 legislation means that the state divides up the wealth of human expression into that which is worthy of protection under the First Amendment and that which is not. So while the pit bull fighting vids of someone like Stevens were not considered to be protected forms of expression, other types of so-called animal cruelty, such as hunting videos, with, as the original statute put it, ‘serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value’, are exempt. This is a highly suggestive clause, a sentence that suggests that the state has reserved the right to say which forms of human expression are worthy or useful, and thus should remain free.

With regards to that sentence in the original statute, the Supreme Court was unequivocal: ‘As a free-floating test for First Amendment coverage, that sentence is startling and dangerous. The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the government outweigh the costs.’

And then, in a passage that brooks no compromise or concession, the Supreme Court says: ‘Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it.’ There you have it: a defence of people’s freedom, our freedom of speech, that pays heed to the universal form of freedom, not its particular exercise – whether that involves the production of a set of dog-fighting DVDs or a call for the Caliphate.

This is an important argument. Today, free speech comes with qualifications attached, caveats imposed. Often a Western politician will declare ‘I believe in freedom of speech’ before following it up with the killer conjunction, ‘but…’ They will then go on to say that not all content should be expressed, that there are some things – in the UK, for instance, the glorification of terrorism – that do not deserve to be freely expressed. Such expressions are deemed to incite, corrupt, deprave.

The logic here is indeed startling and dangerous: our governments regard our freedoms, our freedom of speech, not always to be in our own best interests. We are not able to cope with our own freedoms, freedoms that in the US have been enshrined in the Bill of Rights. It was this kind of patronising perspective that made the US government believe it was okay to pass legislation which arrogated to itself the right to decide what was worthy of protection under the First Amendment, and what was not.

The one member of the Supreme Court who objected to the ruling against the Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act, Justice Samuel Alito, argued that the court was in danger of legitimising ‘a form of depraved entertainment’. And depraved it may well be. But that is a moral argument, and as such it ought to be up to citizens, viewed as individuals capable of moral reasoning, to decide whether or not to indulge in or observe such ‘entertainment’ as part of their broader decision-making about how to live their lives.

You may not be a fan of dog-fighting videos; you may even think they sound pretty grim. But it’s still worth defending someone’s right to produce them.


Problems of Britain's welfare State

The social benefits of the welfare state are now more than outweighed by its social costs: diminished subjectivity, corroded communities, and increased state power

Over the past couple of decades, a new understanding of welfare has been put at the centre of the elite’s project to connect with, engage with and remould the citizenry. Where the old welfare state was largely about providing citizens with the material things they needed to survive, the new welfare state is a far more therapeutic institution and is about redefining what it means to be a citizen and how citizens relate to the state.

The old notion of the welfare state as a ‘safety net’ to help citizens cope with hardship assumed that individuals, families and communities were generally able to run their own lives most of the time. Social assistance, therefore, was designed to return people to a situation where they could get on with their lives unaided, as autonomous, capable human beings. But the model of welfare that has developed over the past two decades entirely rejects the idea that individuals have the capacity to run their lives. Welfare provision now starts from the assumption that individuals and communities are incapable of managing their own health and lifestyles, family life, child-rearing and informal community relations without the constant intervention of the state and its institutions to advise, train, counsel and (re)educate them.

The change has been so profound that it is really no longer appropriate to talk about a ‘welfare’ state at all. In its place there has developed what former New Labour prime minister Tony Blair described in 2006 as an ‘enabling state’. This new ‘enabling state’ might promote itself through the rhetoric of responsibility and empowerment, but in fact its impact on individuals and communities has been extremely disabling. Virtually every welfare-state intervention is now premised on the assumption that individuals are vulnerable, physically and psychologically incapacitated, and in need of constant therapeutic intervention....

The social provision of material necessities and resources to individuals who, through no fault of their own, were unable to provide for themselves is an expression of the important humanist responsibility that society has to all of its members in times of need. The recognition that poverty, illness and unemployment are social problems, and not the result of individual moral failings, was implicit in the model of welfare that was dominant in Britain from the end of the Second World War to the 1970s, and is an essential insight for anyone concerned with social justice.

However, it is important to set the positive benefits of the welfare state against the constant potential for the ever-greater intervention of the state in society, and the consequent domination and structure of dependency that this establishes, to limit the capacity of individuals and communities to take control of their circumstances. By providing a buffer against the worst deprivations caused by poverty, unemployment and social alienation, the welfare state also plays a significant role in encouraging people to accommodate to their lot.

The criteria by which any past, current or proposed welfare intervention should be judged is in terms of the capacity that it gives individuals to take greater control of their lives – to live the lives that they want to lead, with the means to take control of the resources that they feel are necessary. On this basis, it would be wrong to dismiss the gains of education, healthcare and material welfare benefits – when people are in need, a decent society should develop mechanisms to meet those needs. But it would be naive to overlook the hardnosed political origins of the welfare state, and its role in de-radicalising and controlling working-class aspiration, and to leave unexplored the increasingly problematic role that a new therapeutic welfare state plays today.

From welfare to therapy

The old aspiration, amongst social reformers at least, to provide social mechanisms that might empower people to take greater control of their lives has been entirely absent in the discussion and development of the welfare state over the past two decades. Indeed, the new ‘enabling state’, as Blair christened it, is a direct consequence of a diminished view of the capabilities of individuals and communities.

Where the welfare state was in essence an attempt to head off radical, working-class politics, the motivation for the transformation of the meaning of welfare in recent years has been a semi-conscious attempt by the state to engage with, connect to, and in numerous ways reshape and resocialise the citizenry. Let us consider two examples.

The case of children and families

One of the most progressive campaigns of the feminist movement in the 1970s and 80s was for the provision of universally accessible childcare on demand. At first sight, it might seem as if this demand has finally been achieved with Sure Start, the New Labour government’s ‘programme to deliver the best start in life for every child by bringing together early education, childcare, health and family support’. Sure Start provides children’s centres (‘service hubs where children under five years old and their families can receive seamless integrated services and information’), through a guarantee of free ‘early education’ provision for three- and four-year-olds, and the promise of childcare provision for every child between the ages of three and 14, from 8am to 6pm. The only party political disagreement over Sure Start today concerns who will do the most to increase its funding and ability to provides services.

However, two insidious ideas underpin the Sure Start initiative. First, the assumption is that most parents are at best ignorant of how to raise their children, and at worst are utterly dysfunctional. The second is a fatalistically deterministic view of child development – an idea that miscreant adults and broken communities are the result of ‘bad parenting’ from the earliest months of a child’s life.

Sure Start aims to create healthier children by ‘supporting parents to care for their children both before and after birth’ [my emphasis]. In reality this involves the state teaching parents about the moral ills of smoking and drinking during pregnancy, and ensuring that children are fed the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day, amongst other things. Sure Start even provides instructions to parents on how they should play with their children.

Such intervention undermines the authority and autonomy of parents and encourages them to view child-rearing and family life as an activity which can only be undertaken under the careful guidance of state-sanctioned experts. More than any previous social-service interventions in family life, which were traditionally directed towards a relatively small section of very deprived families, Sure Start aims to engage with families across all social classes. Sure Start assumes that state intervention is essential to produce properly socialised individuals and to keep families together, while ignoring many other problems related to childcare provision, access to decent education and the financial burden of raising children. It is all about therapeutically redirecting the population towards the right way of thinking and behaving and parenting, rather than providing them with the things and finances they might need.

Unemployment and incapacity

Over the past couple of years, society has been going through a deep economic recession, with the official level of unemployment reaching nearly 2.5million people. Consequently there has been much material insecurity and hardship for a great many individuals. However, in our response to these hardships, we have moved a long way from the period of industrial labour militancy that dominated the recession of the 1970s, and which played a large part in bringing to an end the traditional postwar welfare consensus. As Brendan O’Neill has argued, unemployment has ceased to be a political issue to which we see the possibility of social and political solutions.

In response to the current recession, the state is not readying troops of armed men to maintain social order – instead it is training an army of counsellors and therapists to help the newly unemployed cope with their changed circumstances. NHS Direct call-centre operatives have been encouraged to listen out for signs of depression amongst callers who have lost their jobs, while Jobcentres have been given the authority to refer jobseekers for cognitive behavioural therapy, with a promise that such therapy will soon be offered onsite at Jobcentres themselves.

These initiatives are only an expansion of the government’s stated intention, planned before the recession, to provide psychological therapies to the unemployed, not simply to help them cope with unemployment, but to help them to ‘develop the confidence’ to get back into work. Unemployment, in other words, is now seen as a problem of individual psychology rather than social and economic organisation. The changing understanding of unemployment, from political failing to individual handicap, is reflected in the fact that of the five million people currently out of work and claiming benefits in the UK, over 50 per cent are drawing Incapacity Benefit – they have been redefined as incapable of working rather than as being denied a job by the current social and economic framework.

While political parties do still express concern about the rising bills for the expansion of welfare, behind their rhetoric there is no real attempt to encourage any autonomy or independence. Instead, the mechanisms through which the unemployed will apparently be ‘assisted’ back into work involve an ongoing process of training, mentoring and support, which will continue even once work has been found. In other words, the assumption is that state intervention and support will be needed in order to maintain an individual’s capacity for work and employment.

The widely held assumption that many unemployment and incapacity claimants are cynically manipulating the welfare system misses the extent to which individuals have been encouraged by the new welfare state to understand themselves in terms of their physical incapacities and psychological vulnerabilities. That unemployment has come to be understood as a problem of individual incapacity and community attitudes and culture, rather than of social organisation, is expressed in the Conservative Party’s diagnosis that ‘in many parts of the country, worklessness is being passed from generation to generation’. Here, the children of unemployed families are understood as being socialised by a degenerate culture; such children are seen as being less likely to achieve at school and more likely to end up as workless in the future. Like the assumption that the abused child becomes the adult abuser, unemployment is seen to be a psychological problem caused by a failure of appropriate parenting and poor socialisation. In some ways, this takes us back to the old idea of poverty as a moral failing (or in this instance a psychological failing) rather than as a social problem – the new therapeutic state is taking us backwards.


Outrageous Sexual Violence of Islam

The sexual issues are foundational for understanding the health of a culture, and for predicting its levels of internal social violence, and how it behaves towards "the other" who is not like themselves. My extensive review of sexual and family-life conditions globally, in the book Saharasia, years ago proved the factual nature of Wilhelm Reich's clinical observations and sex-economic theory: Cultures which heap trauma and abuse on their infants and children, and later crush down the expression of developing sexual love in their young people (ie, Romeo and Juliet) with harsh and deadly taboos, will invariably turn out to be the most violent ones.

The converse being true also, that cultures with much gentle treatment of babies and children, and tolerance for romantic love expression within peer groups of their children and adolescents turn out to be the healthier, non-violent, and more productive and inventive societies. And in fact such societies do not have pedophiles, as pedophilia is something produced from children who are themselves subjected to rape and abuse. Though as with much else from childhood, the original memories are typically driven down into the unconscious where they continue to mould behavior and psyche.

So a key and critical factor for building of a healthier and more peaceful world is, the children must be protected from the pathological impulses of sexually predatory and sadistic adults. Otherwise, they turn out no better than the rapists who abused them, and go out to wreak havoc on the world. This is far and beyond the usual discussion on "sex-repression", which merely tells the young person to "stop" and "wait until you are married". This is, putting a child into the hands of a corrupted and violent male, who then repeatedly rapes them and then hands them off to another for the same, and on it goes for years. The destruction of the capacity to love, in any sense as is known in the West, is total and complete.

In this regard, Islam proves itself to be the most sexual twisted and damaged social structure in existence, given the preponderance and full legal nature of this kind of child-rape, of both boys and girls. So, that is Today's Cultural-History Lesson:

Institutionalized Pedophilia-Pederasty Within Islam.

And how the non-Muslim world commits cultural suicide by ignoring this, even as Muslim immigrant communities continue to grow within their borders, bringing exactly this same kind of stuff with them.

This is a part of the larger problem of Islamic Sexual Slavery which affects both boys and girls.

The problem outlined above exists across the entire Islamic world, and has poisoned the relations between men and women. The late Sir Richard Burton addressed the matter more than 100 years ago, calling the basic region of Saharasia the "Sotadic Zone", given how sexual inversion has developed there to such astonishingly high levels. He looked primarily at homosexuality as the major consequence of the Islamic situation, but in fact the whole matter of female hatred, the veiling of women and crushing down of them into sexual slavery, is another major expression. These are critical components of the origins of armoring question which Wilhelm Reich never had the time to investigate, as he never visited any Islamic nation to see with his eyes, a situation that was far worse than what he observed in chaotic Vienna or Russia, or elsewhere he travelled. These issues were firstly addressed as regarding the Islamic world in my Saharasia book, starting around 1980, though with far less detail than is available today.

This is the social background of the Talibans and al-Qaeda killers, of the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, and of the Iranian Mullahs, the Royal Families of the Persian Gulf oil shieks, of goat-herders in Yemen or Sudan, the Algerian Islamic fanatics who in their zeal to drive out the remaining French influences will throat-cut young unveiled women and even babies, after gang-raping them of course. And so on.

Lets view the ugly reality, without pulling punches. Here, one brave Swedish cartoonist captures the essence of Islamic pedophilia - the "ideal man" Muhammed at 53, with his 9-year old "wife", getting ready for the bed. This is an all-too-frequent reality across the Islamic world.

If you find this stuff offensive (and you should!) then don't blame the messenger. Islamic Pedophilia also comes to Islamic communities in the West

These are not "isolated cases" from individual insane sexual predators. It is part of a system and way of life, of a totalitarian culture which is smugly arrogant and proud of its pathos, and filled with hatred of anything that is healthier than itself . Go read Reich again on the Emotional Plague, if you need a reminder.

Incredible that the prevailing "status quo" liberal Dutch think this is OK, and call Geert Wilders a "right wing racist" for wanting to put a stop to it.

In France, they have prepared a new law forbidding full facial veiling of women and girls in public. If such a woman is found with full veil, or a girl-child, they will be fined, and it goes to being a criminal offense if the violations are frequent. It is an effort to stop the deliberate effort by Muslim men to keep their women in a low status, and to import the widespread concepts of "sexual dirtiness" and "female sex dirtiness" into France.

Now, just before this law can happen, a policeman stops a woman driving a car with full facial veiling. He says, she cannot see and so is an unsafe driver with that rag on her head.

The left-wing asks, why get upset about such a veil. Ignore it, they say. That is a reasonable question, but is based upon a terrible ignorance. Such facial veiling (note in the photo, the husband does not wear any such veil) it is a symbol of Islamic conquest, of the male brutality and conquest over the female and should not be tolerated in a free society. So say the moderates, concerned for their culture and children. And this one case proves the moderates (accused as "right-wing") are correct. Read on.

As publicity came on this case, it turns out the woman is one of four wives of a polygamist Algerian immigrant. The guy is networked with Algerian terror groups. The four wives have 12 children from him, collectively. They all separately go to the social services using their maiden names, claiming to be single women. "Oh Boo Hoo help me, my husband abandoned me with these six kids, and I have no job, etc., boo hoo."

So the French people are not monsters, and will give this woman plenty of social welfare, for all six kids too -- an apartment, food, clothes, car, education for the kids, you name it. How much for just that one wife? 3000 Euro per month? Times four wives that's 12,000 Euro, per month! 144,000 Euro per year. French people, where is the end of your generosity?!

Don't you think this guy is telling all his friends to come and do the same? So you wonder why your economy is suffering? Why so many of these Muslim guys ride around in Mercedes and wear slick clothes, flying here and there in the world like money is nothing, and laughing with contempt at the stupid dhimmi Western people. It is not like the shabby immigrants from Russia or elsewhere, whose clothes immediately show they are in poverty. No, they are wearing the best clothing, the men, even as their slave-women walk under full black curtains, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and so always speaking in support of their tormentors.

More HERE (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, 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 or 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.


26 April, 2010

Discrimination is necessary

Subjecting kids to weirdos undermines standards of decency

First-graders should not be forced into the classrooms of teachers undergoing sex changes. Religious broadcasters and faith-based summer camps should not be forced to hire cross-dressers. Women should not be forced to share bathrooms with people with male body parts who say they want to be females. Yet those are some of the likely results if Congress passes H.R. 3017, the so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which is due for a vote this week by the House Education and Labor Committee.

ENDA purports to "prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." Clever politically correct wording aside, this is a direct attack on common sense. On some matters, it is good to be discriminating. It is right to discriminate between honesty and dishonesty, between politeness and impoliteness, between right and wrong. And it assuredly is right to be discriminating in choosing who teaches our children. ENDA would make it impossible for a non-church-based charter school, for instance, to remove from the classroom a "she-male" who insists on exposing her pupils to her unnatural transformation.

This is no idle threat. ENDA would supersede the laws of 38 states that do not have laws treatingthose with an unusual "gender identity" as a legally protected "class" of citizens. Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition wrote in the April 20 edition of Roll Call about several examples of cross-dressing or sex-changing teachers who claimed protections under state disability laws (in the 12 states that do indeed protect "gender identity") and were able to remain in the classroom despite parents' protests. Perhaps the worst was at California's Foxboro Elementary School, where a music teacher underwent surgery to become a man, but parents originally were not even notified because administrators feared running afoul of medical privacy laws.

Even if California wants to be so foolish, the residents of the 38 states without such absurd legal strictures shouldn't be forced to do the same. States have a sovereign right to set standards governing behavioral - as opposed to immutable - personal characteristics.

ENDA does provide supposed exemptions for churches and church-based schools to refuse to employ sex-changers and cross-dressers. But the exemption is far less than meets the eye. Even religious organizations, under the standards cited, are prohibited from making employment decisions based on the worker's sex. ENDA opponents rightly cite last year's 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals note in Prowel v. Wise Business Forms that "the line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination 'because of sex' can be difficult to draw." In short, courts easily could decide that even parochial schools must hire she-males to teach their kindergartners.

Similar problems abound in this bill, which treats a conscious decision to choose a new or different sexual identity as if it were an inherent, unavoidable condition. But it's not. It's actually a psychological disorder, officially listed as such by the current American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Our children and our co-workers should not be forced by law to be held hostage to such disorders, nor should employers be forced to have psychologically troubled persons as the public face of their businesses.


PC Alert: Rev. Franklin Graham Banned by the Pentagon for Telling the Truth About Islam

Franklin Graham, distinguished Christian minister and son of an American evangelical treasure (i.e. Billy Graham) was banned from praying at the Pentagon for their upcoming May 6th National Day of Prayer event because he called Islam “evil.”

Apparently Franklin didn’t get the memo that we can’t say squat about Islam anymore. Oh, hell no. Muslims are groovy no matter what they do, and anyone who says otherwise … is … well … evil … in the eyes of the thought police who’re heading up the United States of Political Horse Smack.

Check it out: When Muslims kill 3,000 Americans, we can’t call them “wicked.” When they abuse women, cut off little girls’ clitorises, stone unruly wives, honor kill their teenage daughters for texting someone not named Achmed, and keep precious women in stone-age bondage worldwide, we can’t say that’s BS because that might offend them. And God forbid we should offend folks who’re six bubbles off level and don’t get basic women’s rights.

I’m scratching a bald spot on the back of my head on this one because we won’t put up with that bollocks with any other people or religion except with Islam; they get a free pass. Yes, we’re being whipped into believing that we’re misjudging them even though the preponderance of historical evidence indicates that those who believe they’re bogus are spot on.

I think it is legitimately safe to say—and extremely sad to say—that Political Correctness has officially seeped its fetid sewage into the brass inside the beltway.

Matter of fact, I’m wearing black today because I’m in mourning. As far as I’m concerned, it’s calamitous when the U.S. Army bans a solid Christian minister and upstanding citizen (who has added much to America’s Christian heritage and the well-being of millions of suffering people worldwide) from praying for our troops just because he called Muslim crap crap. You can read the full horror story here.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Franklin for having the holy testosterone—amidst the many craven and neutered capitulating clerics, pundits and politicians across our land—to call Islam’s actions wicked because … duh … they are. Good job, old chap. It seems as if only South Park, Robert Spencer, David Horowitz, a smattering of other analysts (mostly women) and Graham will come out and verbally hammer these cats for their “faith”-inspired atrocities against non-Muslims and their own women.

Oh, by the way: If you’re not convinced Islam is evil, check out this video.


Bill Clinton Explains How Middle East Utopia is Just Around the Corner, Just Tell Israel and Palestinians How to Make Peace

It's truly amazing what some people say about the Middle East without anyone noticing the inaccuracies and contradictions. An interview former President Bill Clinton gave to the ABC news' program "This Week" is a wonderful example of this situation.

As a friend of mine who's a policy analyst just put it in evaluating another, roughly similar article: "Everyone should have views that approximate reality. There's still plenty of room for argument within that space."

I will now show, point by point, how almost everything Clinton said, however, is outside that space. Still, Clinton-who was an okay president-is savvy enough to make one terrific argument which shows he really does understand the shortcomings of Obama Administration policy.

Of course, as a fellow former president, a Democrat, and husband of a certain secretary of state, Clinton isn't going to trash the current government's stances. But his statements force him into saying some very silly things. I will give you one point for each of them you spot. Read each paragraph, think of one or more major problems with it, and then read my analysis.

"If [Obama] decides to [issue his own peace plan], I will support it," said Clinton, suggesting that such an action would be like what he did at the Camp David meeting and later in the Clinton peace plan, both in 2000.

What's wrong with this?

Answer: Clinton did not really present his own peace plan in either case. On both occasions, he was presenting a plan which he had cleared with Israel's prime minister. This was appropriate since the Israeli government had agreed to make some major concessions if it received certain things in return. In sharp contrast, however, Obama would be proposing a plan demanding Israeli concessions which not only hasn't been approved by Israel's government but which the president knows it would oppose.

Incidentally, as we will see in a moment Clinton knows-despite his support-that this is a serious mistake. If the president puts forward a plan both sides will reject he does no good and ends up looking very foolish. Moreover, what about Clinton's own experience: offering a great deal to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and watching them turn it down. Shouldn't he be warning Obama--and his spouse--more about how the PA is unwilling or unable to make peace?

Next, what's wrong with this:

"We need to do something to deprive both sides of any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations."

Answer: If the goal is to get talks going, the way to do so is not to propose a comprehensive peace plan which both sides will certainly reject but to start with small things on which they can agree. To put forward such a plan would be the best "excuse not to engage in serious negotiations" of all!

But, by the way, might it be relevant that the PA has refused to talk for 15 months while Israel's government has been ready to meet during this entire period? So Clinton knows Israel is not looking for any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations. The PA is. But to be "even -handed," Clinton is covering up for PA intransigence. And who should know better about PA intransigence then the man who was humiliated by Yasir Arafat's refusal to make peace in 2000?

At this point, Clinton does give some good advice: "The current Israeli government, with its current coalition, almost certainly would reject it. And the argument is that that makes us look weak." Right. Why put forward a plan that's going to be rejected. The Obama Administration already looks dangerously weak. Once both sides reject its plan, things will really be at a dead end.

But soon we are back in fantasyland. So what's wrong with this:

Clinton said that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would vastly reduce the level of terrorism in the region: "Half of the energy coming out of all this organization and money-raising for terror comes out of the allegations around the unresolved Palestinian issue."

What's wrong with this?

Answer: Suppose you are the kind of Arab who supports terrorist groups politically and gives them money. Would a two-state compromise agreement make you stop doing that? Of course not, you would say that the Palestinian Authority had betrayed the Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, while the United States was a horrible enemy that had destroyed the chance for destroying Israel and creating a Palestinian Muslim Arab state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.

Consider Hamas. If an agreement was made leaving it aside, would it fold up? Stop terrorism? Cease receiving money? Lose all popular support? Forfeit the backing of Iran, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhoods? And how in Hades are you going to have and implement such a solution without the Gaza Strip?

See if you can spot the pattern: King Abdallah of Jordan made a deal with Israel and was assassinated. President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt made a deal with Israel and was assassinated. President Bashar Gemayel of Lebanon made a deal with Israel and was assassinated. Ah, "President" Mahmoud Abbas, please just sign right here and terrorism will just disappear. Nothing to worry about!

What planet is Bill Clinton living on if he believes this?

Much more HERE

Battle against the Burka is not based on bigotry

Comment from Australia

FRANCE'S move to extend its ban on the Islamic headscarf and outlaw the full-face veil appears to be catching on. Belgian MPs will vote on whether to prohibit it and similar laws have been drafted in Italy. Europe's rising Muslim population, which exceeds 20 per cent in some cities, has ensured a groundswell of support for these moves.

The debate in Europe has stirred interest in Australia too. Some commentators have seized on calls to ban the burka, which they judge to be "un-Australian". Others, including this writer, saw the French move as a xenophobic overreaction, more likely to inflame social tensions than ease them. However, this glib interpretation does not withstand an hour's conversation with a key architect of the hijab ban, French scholar Gilles Kepel, who visited Australia recently.

Kepel was a member of a commission established by the French government in 2003, which recommended forbidding the hijab, along with other religious symbols such as the Jewish yarmulke and large Christian crosses, from government-run schools.

Kepel is no xenophobe. He's the son of Czech migrants and has an Algerian wife. He is also one of the world's most esteemed authorities on political Islam.

Kepel argues persuasively that interpreting the French position as a symptom of xenophobia is a profound misunderstanding of the pivotal role of secularism in the French nation-state. He makes a considered and compelling case that, for a country founded on secularity, a policy of multi-culturalism that allows overt displays of religiosity poses a threat to the unity of the state. Whether the same can be said of Australia is a provocative idea that merits sober consideration.

The concept of laicite (secularism) is at the core of the French constitution. Its origin was a law passed in 1905 separating church and state to counter the oppressive domination of the Catholic Church. Laws passed even earlier made schooling -- until then limited and largely Catholic controlled -- mandatory, free and secular. "France had to make a law to be free of Catholic Church hegemony," Kepel explains.

"It was conceived as a reaction to the overwhelming influence of the church."

Laicite was always controversial, detested by monarchists who would prefer Catholicism as the state religion and increasingly resented by Islamists as a bar to free religious expression. Nonetheless it has remained an article of faith in French political and social life.

The French government is constitutionally prohibited from recognising any religion. Religious buildings were made the property of city councils. There is no question on religion in the French census and public schools are seen as a crucial bastion.

Generations of Muslim migrants were encouraged and obliged to embrace this conception of citizenhood. In an essay in The National Interest, Kepel writes that the promise of future French citizenship was "part and parcel of a workable imperial dominion".

"As soon as the former colonized set foot on French soil in their new migrant-worker garb, they took Paris at its word and France paid its colonial debt through a process of cultural and political integration," he writes.

Thus, like the Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Poles and Czechs who had come before them, a new generation of mostly Muslim migrants became French citizens, in an "intermingled culture, forged on a daily basis between the native Gaul and the immigrant Arab and Berber". This policy of cultural integration -- distinct from the more insidious "assimilation" with its connotations of cultural cleansing -- has "worked pretty well", says Kepel. The North African dish couscous is now the favourite food and a second-generation French Algerian soccer star, Zinedine Zidane, the national hero.

The crushing of Islamist sentiment during the Algerian civil war and a state security apparatus vigilant against its re-emergence have played an important role in France's success. But a willing "cultural acquiescence" has been the key. For most of France's Muslims, French citizenship seemed a fair trade for an overt religious identity.

Contrast this with Britain's policy of multiculturalism, under which migrants settled in enclaves in cultural isolation. "In Britain, one is born English, end of story," notes Kepel. Instead their "Islamness" became a kind of new national identity. While France banned foreign Islamists from entering the country, Britain gave them asylum, creating in "Londonistan" a crucible for the jihadist movement that would eventually blow back on Britain, which now has the worst home-grown terrorist problem in the world, illustrated by the 2005 London train and bus bombings, the attempted Glasgow airport attack in 2007, and dozens of similar thwarted plots. In contrast, France has not had a successful terrorist attack on its territory since 1996.

But back to the hijab. In 2003 then president Jacques Chirac established a commission to examine how the principle of laicite should be applied in today's France. Kepel co-authored its December 2003 report, which led to the hijab ban. He points out it applies only to minors in government-run schools, because "you can't make a law on what people wear on the street", and a majority of Muslims supported it as a necessary compromise.

Importantly, the commission called for the ban to be offset by a suite of reforms to combat socio-economic disadvantage in the Paris ghettos where many Muslims live.

The Chirac government ignored this crucial recommendation. A year later the Paris riots erupted, as mostly Muslim youths burned cars and looted shops in protest against a lack of jobs and economic opportunities. Kepel says it was a lesson to the French government for ignoring its responsibility to ensure socio-economic equality to safeguard the "cultural acquiesence" on which France's ethnic and religious harmony is built.

On a visit to Sydney's southwestern suburbs, Kepel saw many similarities to both Britain and France. "Leb-kemba" is like "Londonistan" in many respects. Inter-generational unemployment is common. Some residents live in cultural isolation, their "Islamness" the closest they have to a national identity. Kepel remarked on the open hostility displayed by some of those he encountered toward the outsiders intruding on their patch. A few angry individuals in insular communities like this have become home-grown terrorists and planned attacks on Australian soil

These similarities should neither be exaggerated nor ignored. Australia is a land of immigrants, like France, but one with an entirely different migration history and far greater ethnic, religious and cultural diversity. No convincing case has been made for banning either the hijab or the full-face veil here. But a powerful case exists for ensuring our Muslim countrymen and women have a strong stake in sharing the national identity and social harmony their fellow Australians enjoy.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


25 April, 2010

In hiding, the British mother accused of abuse for cuddling her child

A mother alleged to have 'emotionally abused' her daughter by telling her she was born by caesarean has fled to Ireland with the child. Fearing that social workers would take her daughter away, Shahnaz Malik smuggled five-year-old Amaani out of the country.

After allegations that included Mrs Malik cuddling Amaani for too long while dropping her off at nursery, social services placed the little girl on a 'child protection plan' and scheduled a child mental health assessment. But using tickets booked under assumed names, Mrs Malik and her daughter caught a ferry to Ireland from a Welsh port.

Police arrested her husband for obstructing their investigation, and raided their Birmingham home in the hunt for Amaani. Detectives even removed toothbrushes from their home to obtain DNA, in case the pair had been murdered.

Mrs Malik, who has a masters degree in social policy and has lived in Britain all her life, plans to stay in Ireland with her daughter until the family can raise enough money to start a new life in Dubai, out of the reach of the UK social services. They own four properties in Birmingham which they plan to rent out.

At her Irish hotel, Mrs Malik said she fled the UK because she feared losing her daughter. She added: 'Once social services are on to you it's a complete nightmare and no matter what you do you are deemed a bad parent. If your child is full of beans or just sitting there quietly, it is your fault.

'Amaani was born premature so we've always been protective of her and would do anything to keep her with us. 'Ideally we'd like to get the matter resolved and return home, but we know that isn't going to happen.'

Social services became involved after a dispute between the family and a private nursery. Nursery staff told social workers that Amaani had used a swear word, bit her nails, told them she was delivered by caesarean and that they had seen Mrs Malik cuddle her for up to ten minutes.

In January, Birmingham city council notified the family that Amaani was subject to a child protection plan for 'emotional abuse'. Further meetings were arranged, including a mental health assessment for Amaani a month later.

But fearing that her daughter would be taken away, Mrs Malik went into hiding at a friend's house, and social workers contacted police.

After her husband Vijay Bansal, 42, was arrested at their home, Mrs Malik came out of hiding, but before social workers could meet the family they drove to Wales and boarded a ferry as foot passengers to Ireland.

Mr Bansal, an IT consultant, has returned to Birmingham to deal with their properties, but makes regular trips to Ireland.

Mrs Malik said: 'It's been really tough on Amaani as she has left all her family and friends. We hope to leave for Dubai soon. 'We have been there on holiday and really enjoyed it. There's plenty of work out there for my husband and we have friends there too. 'The only problem is having to remortgage our properties so we can have a large deposit to satisfy the Dubai authorities we are able to settle there.'

She added: 'I told Amaani that she was cut from mummy's tummy as I wanted her to be informed, but not in a graphic way. 'As for the hugging - no mother would not comfort their child if they were screaming.'

The family are being supported by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who campaigns against abuses in the family courts. He said: 'This whole case is madness. There is no reason for the state to be involved in this little girl's life in this way.'

A spokesman for West Midlands Police confirmed that Mrs Malik and her daughter were investigated in a suspected missing persons case.

Colin Tucker, Birmingham city council's director for children's social care, said: 'It can be a case of you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. 'People want to portray things as black and white but the reality in social care is that we are dealing with very complex situations.'


Lawmakers aim to keep prayer day

Ask Obama to appeal 'misguided' decision

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers Wednesday denounced a federal judge's recent ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and said they were calling on President Obama to aggressively appeal the decision.

"What brings us together today is a misguided court decision which threatens the long-standing tradition of this country," said Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican. "I urge the Obama administration to appeal this decision and to dedicate the best and brightest minds of the Justice Department to this case."

Mr. Wolf, a co-sponsor of the legislation President Reagan signed in 1988 that designated the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer, was joined by about 20 Republican and Democratic lawmakers from the Congressional Prayer Caucus in issuing a House resolution calling for Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to appeal the April 15 decision by a federal judge in Wisconsin.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a lawsuit the group filed in 2008 that contended the day violated the separation of church and state.

"The National Day of Prayer goes beyond mere 'acknowledgment' of religion because its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context," Judge Crabb wrote in her ruling. "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience."

Rep. Mike McIntyre, North Carolina Democrat, disagreed, saying the original law stated that people "may" turn to God on that day.

"The last time I knew 'may' didn't mean 'you shall,' " he said. "I think that three-letter word clears that up."

The lawmakers expressed confidence that the case would be overturned on appeal.

Still, the bipartisanship included a mix of encouragement and criticism for Mr. Obama.

"Despite what President Obama or those in his administration may say, America is and always has been a nation of Christian values," said Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Kansas Republican. "I am calling on my colleagues to join us in fighting this nefarious ruling. Given the lengthy precedent set by the Supreme Court on this and related issues, we have no doubt this ill-advised ruling will be overturned."


The hate-mongering SPLC

By Tom Tancredo

The mainstream media and liberal commentators are awash with news stories like “Hate: Antigovernment extremists are on the rise—and on the march” in Newsweek.

In an excellent piece “What's behind the anti-Tea Party hate narrative?” the Washington Examiner’s Chief Washington Correspondent Byron York notes that “Many of the claims that extremism is on the rise in America originate in research done by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based group that for nearly 40 years has tracked what it says is the growing threat of intolerance in the United States.”

The SPLC is not only taken seriously by the liberal media, but also by the Department of Homeland Security. When they issued their now infamous report on “Right Wing Extremists” that warned “disgruntled” military veterans will become potential terrorists, they quoted a SPLC report entitled "A Few Bad Men" that claims racists are infiltrating the military.

Coincidentally, "A Few Bad Men" appeared as the SPLC attacked the American Legion for its support of immigration enforcement, which they called "Legionnaires' Disease."

This is indicative of what the SPLC is really about. Instead of monitoring “hate” and “extremism,” they are concerned with tarring patriotic Americans who oppose their left wing agenda as haters and extremists.

As a vocal opponent of uncontrolled immigration, I am a frequent target of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Their website contains over 60 articles that attack me.

Last year, I spoke at a college in New York State. After my speech, a student handed me one of his text books entitled Understanding Human Differences: Multicultural Education in a Diverse America. Given the title, I didn’t expect sympathetic treatment.

However, I was still shocked to see myself quoted as saying, "illegal immigrants were 'coming to kill you and kill me and our families.'"

While illegal aliens disproportionately commit violent crimes, I would never make such a blanket assertion. I contacted the publisher who gave the source as the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hysterical smear piece against the immigration control movement creatively titled "The Nativists."

The SPLC purported that I said this at a 2004 speech in Illinois. What I actually said was that our open borders policies allow terrorists to sneak into our country. And yes, terrorists want to "kill you and kill me and our families." But the SPLC’s intentional misrepresentation is now repeated across the internet and even in college textbooks.

In an excellent report put out by the Center for Immigration Studies, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jerry Kammer detailed the smear tactics used by the Southern Poverty Law Center to silence those in the immigration debate.

Kammer shows that the SPLC’s attacks on immigration control organizations were carefully coordinated with the National Council of La Raza. La Raza means “The Race” in Spanish. The SPLC recklessly listed the Federation for American Immigration Reform as a hate group, just as La Raza began its “We Can Stop the Hate” campaign aimed at pushing FAIR from being quoted by the media or testifying at Congress. FAIR’s board of advisors includes such right-wing racists as former Democratic Governor of Colorado Richard Lamm and the former head of the Congressional Black Caucus foundation Frank Morris.

Kammer shows that the SPLC even sees racism in the Lord of the Rings, which one of their columnists called “little more than a glorified vision of white patriarchy” in which the heroes “are manly men who are whiter than white” and “are frequently framed in halos of blinding bright light and exude a heavenly aura of all that is Eurocentric and good.”

The SPLC not only sees no problems with left wing racists, they also have no problem with left wing terrorists. Their “Teaching Tolerance” magazine fawningly interviewed Weatherman terrorist Bill Ayers, who they described merely as a "civil rights organizer, radical anti-Vietnam War activist, teacher and author" who "has developed a rich vision of teaching that interweaves passion, responsibility and self-reflection." They did not mention that Ayers set off bombs in the US Capitol, the Pentagon, and the New York City Police Department. Unrepentant, he told the New York Times in 2000 "I don't regret setting bombs…I feel we didn't do enough."

Gabrielle Lyon, a fellow with the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project co-edited a book with William Ayers and was director of his School Change Institute at the Small Schools Workshop.

That’s the SPLC in a nutshell. The Lord of the Rings is racist, but a group called “The Race” is not. Patriotic Tea Partiers are potential terrorists, but actual terrorists like Bill Ayers are civil rights organizers.


The age of bureaucracy

Comment from Australia by Miranda Devine

I make this point in trying to fathom the catastrophic failures of leadership we keep seeing lately - from the billions wasted on pink batts and school hall rorts, to the 173 deaths in the Victorian bushfires last year. Even more unfathomable is that no one seems accountable. Failed leaders can't explain what went wrong and are showered with sympathy. We seem destined never to learn from our mistakes.

When the former Victorian police commissioner, Christine Nixon, 56, admitted in the bushfire royal commission this month that she was getting her hair cut, meeting with her biographer and having dinner at a restaurant with friends on Black Saturday last year, she was enveloped in a warm group hug.

A few troglodytes, such as the former premier Jeff Kennett and the Liberal MP Fran Bailey, said she should be punished for dereliction of duty, and sacked from her $8000-a-week position as chairwoman of the Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority.

But they were quickly drowned out by Nixon supporters, such as Heather Ridout and Joan Kirner, who claimed the criticism was a sexist plot. The sisterhood enveloped her. After being forensically eviscerated by counsel assisting the commission, Rachel Doyle, SC, Nixon appeared unperturbed, saying she had been buoyed by the support from Black Saturday families.

We seem to be impressed by leaders skilled at looking confident and brazen through catastrophe, as incredible amounts of money are wasted, their core business disintegrates and, sometimes, people die. What was most telling about Nixon's testimony to the royal commission were the mundane details of her performance that day and how she perceived her role.

She was the No.1 person in the state with operational responsibility, yet she didn't know what to do. When she dropped into the State Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre about 3pm on Black Saturday, February 7, after meeting in her office with her biographer, she seemed to just float around, lost, not asking for a briefing, observing that people seemed "very busy".

"I thought the people in those areas were carrying out their responsibilities effectively, the best I could tell, and that they were very busy trying to respond to a range of issues." But, asked Doyle, "What were they busy doing?"

Good question. As for her role, "I would look at computer screens over people's shoulders. "And what," asked Doyle, "what did you glean by looking at … screens over people's shoulders?"

"I just saw that they were very busy, that people were working on a range of issues … and that people were going about their work."

"It sounds rather passive, Ms Nixon."

So it does. What the people in that control room weren't doing, for example, was warning towns in the path of the fires that they were next in line. Asked if she had "considered" whether the towns might have been warned, Nixon said she "assumed" they had.

The paralysis in the co-ordination centre on Black Saturday, as revealed in the commission testimony, is a textbook demonstration of what managerialism or bureaumania does to organisations. It causes everyone to lose sight of their core aim, which is to run an emergency response system that warns people a fire is on its way, or a police force that protects good people from bad people, or a land management system that doesn't allow fuel to build up to lethal levels in the bush.

As police commissioner Nixon became the posterchild for bloated bureaucracies everywhere.

And the media adored her. She was progressive! She took part in the gay and lesbian pride march! She was a woman! She was consultative! She relaxed uniform standards! She recruited women and minorities! She answered emails, had lots of meetings and set up myriad committees. She was the nana feminist, who humbled the most masculine, testosterone charged militaristic symbol of the patriarchy itself. She was perfectly chosen and trained to spend her days being busy doing her job, whatever that was. Busy, busy, busy. The truth is her defenders are right, she can hardly be blamed.

Christine Nixon is the perfect leader for our age.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


24 April, 2010

Das Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation – Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation - is not forgotten in Austria

The Reich concerned was of course centred on Austria and ended only in 1918 but commentators frantically link Ms Rosenkranz to Hitler while ignoring that earlier precedent to which she is referring. She seems to be little more than an Austrian traditionalist. Hitler, by contrast, was an Austrian socialist.

Student duelling clubs, for instance, long preceded the Nazis. And the Austrian emperors were NOT antisemitic, which is why so many Jews thrived in Vienna. Kaiser (Emperor) Franz Josef, "was especially noted for his exceptional attitude to Jewish soldiers serving in the Austrian army, concerning himself over the availability of kosher food of the highest standard, assuring them of access to the necessary religious articles and ensuring unhindered Sabbath observance. ...." (Quote from p. 210 of "The Heavenly City" by Menachem Gerlitz, 1979)

The voice of Barbara Rosenkranz rises above the small crowd in the Ballhausplatz as she makes the case for the far Right in Austria’s presidential elections tomorrow.

Her chin is square, her hair forms a tight grey helmet. Ms Rosenkranz, mother of ten children, is, for another 24 hours at least, the great white hope of the radical nationalists in Europe.

She is destined to lose against the incumbent President, Heinz Fischer, but if she nets more than 20 per cent of the vote it will be seen as the most significant comeback in Austria since the death of the far-right idol Jörg Haider 18 months ago.

“The family is at the heart of our society and it has been betrayed,” she says, raising her voice to drown out the hoots of left-wing demonstrators. The crowd, mainly Freedom Party supporters still mourning Haider, applaud. The word verrat — betrayal — always goes down well in Vienna. They are craggy men in green jackets, a woman shivering in a low-cut dirndl folk dress and a surprising number of young fans — there largely to see Heinz-Christian Strache, 40-year-old leader of the far Right. He and Ms Rosenkranz are the faces of the radical Right revival. He talks of a modern patriotism and the threat of Islam; she thinks that women should stay at home and breed, and that national socialists should not be muzzled.

In Western Europe Islamophobia has replaced Holocaust denial as a rallying call for rightwingers such as Geert Wilders. Austria, though, is still very much a part of Central Europe — and here the Rosenkranz message, coded though it may be, is well understood. After all, in neighbouring Hungary, once part of the great Austro-Hungarian empire, the extremist Jobbik grouping — anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy, anti-modernism — has recently won seats in Parliament and is on the way up.

Ms Rosenkranz’s voice is familar — in part because it features in a secretly filmed video that her opponents have released on YouTube. The film shows her celebrating the summer solstice with like-minded people; right-wing students in their duelling club uniforms, some tough-looking characters — and her husband, Horst, the author of nationalist pamphlets written for neo-Nazis.

Ms Rosenkranz makes a speech that goes down well. “Every whore attracts great public interest . . . but the motherly woman is mocked as being an example of an out-of-date role model,” she says. The group sings an old student song adapted by Hitler’s SS: If all are unfaithful, complete with lyrics approved by Heinrich Himmler: “We want to preach and speak / Of the Holy German Reich.” Ms Rosenkranz’s voice comes over loud and clear.

Not that she is a neo-Nazi, she insists. After campaigning to lift the ban on national socialist propaganda she came under pressure to relent — so she swore on oath, before a registered notary, that she did not doubt the existence of the Holocaust and that she had nothing in common with Nazi ideology.

Many Austrians are not convinced. She has not, for example, distanced herself from the activities of her husband, who has campaigned for imprisoned neo-Nazis. Her circle of friends includes some politically dubious characters. Her dog is called Greif — German for “attack” — and there is the strange pagan business of those solstice bonfires and torchlit meetings in forest clearings. She has renounced her Christianity and refused to have her children baptised.

Even so, she could make a significant impact. Mr Haider, after all, also had secret woodland meetings with admirers in which he praised the Waffen SS. Unlike Ms Rosenkranz he was permatanned and a Porsche driver but the far Right seems to believe that a tandem of Ms Rosenkranz and Mr Strache might conjure some of the Haider magic.

The mainstream conservatives, the Austrian People’s Party, have not bothered to field a candidate for the presidency, so some of their followers might end up voting for Ms Rosenkranz.

Columnists came piling in yesterday, nervous that she could score a symbolic victory. “If the Nazi Granny became President it would be a disaster for Austria. We would be put on a level with Iran, North Korea and Libya,” said Wolfgang Fellner, of the Österreich.

“Don’t listen to the media manipulators,” Ms Rosenkranz told the crowd yesterday. “Listen to your hearts.”


St George parade through London revived

A certain element of battiness about the details but battiness is also English

The revival of a St George’s Day parade through the City of London for the first time in four centuries was a vision of traditional Englishness. There was a man dressed as St George with a papier-maché dragon on his helmet, a marching band, a lamb and an all-terrain vehicle designed by an Austrian arms company that made guns for the Third Reich.

The Pinzgauer truck, which originated in Austria but is now made in England, was invited to take up the rear of the procession by the Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers, a City guild that last performed such a parade in 1585.

It also enlisted the help of the Band of The Parachute Regiment, the Regimental Colour Party and Pegasus, a Shetland pony that serves as a regimental mascot.

The civilian contingent included a professional jouster dressed as St George mounted on a horse, some knights and a lamb in a crib on wheels.

The lamb, which plays a symbolic part in the legend, proved to be the main draw for the crowds who turned out to see the parade. There was a tussle over its name. Christopher Waite, clerk of the company, said that she was called “Annie”, because she was an orphan. Karen Archer, 27, who portrayed the maiden apocryphally saved by St George, said that they had privately renamed her “Mint Sauce”....

Tom Tudor-Pole, a freeman of the Armourer’s Company and regimental jeweller for The Parachute Regiment, said that he organised the parade to reclaim England’s patron saint for ordinary English people.

“St George has been hijacked by the right wing,” he said. “I wanted to bring him back because he’s the patron saint of our Armed Forces and many other countries.“Next year we hope that all regiments will have similar events around the country to raise money for charity.”

Mr Tudor-Pole also constructed the mobile crib that carried the lamb. “It’s made of English oak with copper bars and a silver plaque to St George. We call it the lamb-bourghini.”

The procession travelled in a circular route from Armourer’s Hall in Coleman Street via St Paul’s Cathedral, where Company members traditionally paid tribute to a statue of St George. The statue no longer exists.

The English legend of St George is wildly divergent from an older story about a Christian soldier in the Roman army who was tortured and killed for refusing to renounce his faith.

One version of the English myth is that a dragon terrorises a kingdom and is appeased only as long as the people feed it their sheep. When the last sheep is eaten, the people send their children, chosen by lot. When it falls upon the Princess to be sacrificed, St George happens to be passing and mortally wounds the dragon. He then offers to kill the dragon if the kingdom converts to Christianity. The subjects find faith, and everyone but the dragon lives happily ever after.


Australia: Joyful Christianity banned after 9pm?

The Tokaikolo Christian Church choir's joy and dancing banned by local council. Noise restrictions for all other activities cut in at 11pm so this seems discriminatory. And where is the vaunted multiculturalism of the Leftist NSW government? This church is of Tongan origin. The people of Tonga are Polynesians with their own distinctive traditions.

A SMALL western Sydney church has been hit with a $3000 fine by the local council because its choir was singing too loudly and some choristers were caught dancing.

Council officers raided the Granville church and were alarmed to discover choir members dancing in the carpark and the door of the church open an hour after it was supposed to be closed.

The dispute has gone all the way to the office of Treasurer Eric Roozendaal, who has been asked by his fellow minister David Borger to show mercy to the musical Christians and waive the penalty.

The Tokaikolo Christian Church choir was practising Christmas carols and other songs on the evening of December 3 last year.

The "infringement" occurred at 10pm as the rehearsal was finishing. A week later the church was hit with a $3000 fine from Parramatta Council. It has been unable to pay the fine, which has been referred to the State Debt Recovery Office - which slugged the church another $50.

The council claims the church violated the conditions of its development consent by being too noisy and hosting activities outside its approved "hours of operation", which are supposed to end at 9pm.

A spokesman said: "During a site inspection conducted at 10pm on December 3, 2009, the following observations were made: Three males were observed walking up the driveway on the northern side of the premises, towards the kitchen area; a large group of people were observed dancing in the basement carpark area; and the front door of the premises was open."

Reverend Nesiasi Kolo told The Telegraph parishoners would end up footing the bill.

Local MP Mr Borger is lobbying Mr Roozendaal to have the controversial fine waived. "In considering the difficulties the church faces in balancing their community activities with their impact on their neighbours, I would suggest that strong consideration be given to the waiving of the fine and the issuing of a stern warning," he said.


Australian Federal Government gets tough on foreign ownership of real estate

This will be a generally popular move but if a conservative government had done this, it would be "xenophobia' or "racism". As a move to restrain rises in real estate prices, however, it is just tokenism. High levels of immigration and Greenie-inspired land-use restrictions are the big causative factors there

FOREIGN students and temporary residents will face tough new rules when buying a house and will have to sell on leaving Australia.

The Federal Government's crackdown, to be announced today, reverses its December 2008 decision to relax foreign ownership rules.

Bowing to public pressure, the Government will also introduce a hotline for concerned locals to "dob in" foreigners they suspect of breaching the rules. Under the rules, temporary residents and foreign students will be:

SCREENED by the Foreign Investment Review Board to determine if they will be allowed to buy a property.

FORCED to sell property when they leave Australia.

PUNISHED if they do not sell by a government-ordered sale plus confiscation of any capital gain.

REQUIRED to build on vacant land within two years of purchase to stop "land banking". Failure to do so would also lead to a government-ordered sale.

There have been growing claims that real estate prices have been forced up by wealthy Asian families, especially from China and Korea, buying up property and outbidding locals at auctions.

The Government is concerned by anecdotal reports that foreigners are "collecting" houses, often in the same street, and leaving them empty when there is a shortage of housing.

Assistant Treasurer Senator Nick Sherry said he wanted to ensure foreigners did not put "pressure on housing availability for Australians".

Treasury is investigating 50 suspicious residential buys by foreigners in Melbourne.

Senator Sherry said the changes would "ensure that investment is in Australia's interests and in line with community expectations". He said the Government would catch cheats with new powers allowing it to cross-match information from Land Victoria and the Immigration Department.

It will also rely on members of the public to report suspicious property buyers to a new hotline: 1 800 031 227. "I want to make sure everyone in the community has a direct line to report their concerns," Senator Sherry said. "If you do the wrong thing, you will be found out."

New penalties, which may be linked to the value of the property, will apply to buyers, sellers and estate agents.

There is no data showing how many properties have been bought by temporary residents.

Since the Government's 2008 change, the median house price in Melbourne has risen from $450,000 to $524,500.

Foreigners living overseas are still prevented from buying existing homes and only allowed to buy or build new ones.


Three cheers that Australia won't have charter of rights

By Bob Carr, a former Labor Party premier of NSW

THE advocates of a human rights charter must be walking around as if they've suffered concussion or been mugged by reality.

The federal government gave them an inquiry. The inquiry took nine months to agitate public opinion over rights. Geoffrey Robertson stumped the country and produced a book. And the federal cabinet said no.

It makes me feel happy about Australia. There will be no charter of rights because there's no crisis of rights in Australia. If the public believed the executive arm of government were stifling freedoms, Australia slipping behind other democracies, there would have been a decided shove towards a human rights act. Something like the political shift against big government in the US. Instead, when Frank Brennan launched his report in September, it sunk below the water, not leaving a slick of printer's ink.

Australians have a high civic IQ. They know their country is robustly free. They wake each day to see their elected leaders, state and federal, traduced in the media. They have seen victims such as Mohamed Haneef triumph against the authorities in the courts. The people have changed a federal government and have made two recent state elections look competitive.

Yet the people are probably reasonably happy that government can take action to limit liberties, as the Victorian government did in November when it gave police the power to target knife and alcohol violence. This included the right to stop and search people without suspicion (in unapologetic contradiction of Victoria's own charter).

Governments state and federal have also strengthened laws against terrorism and, far from feeling threatened, people feel more secure.

In November I debated a charter with Michael Kirby. The former High Court Judge showed he was a politician manque with a capacity to play to the gallery that I, a mere amateur, could only envy. When he noted the teachers and students of an Islamic school in our audience, he quickly adjusted his rhetoric to assert that a charter was the only way to protect the rights of Australian Muslims.

Before the month was out French politicians were stripping Muslims of the right to wear Islamic dress in public, a proposition rejected by Canberra.

Yet France is covered by the European Union charter that we were told had made Europeans freer than Australians.

By the way, Kirby was one of the few judges backing a charter. If there were no phalanx of judges behind the idea of more judicial review, what chance did it have?

No newspaper editorialised for a charter and the Left of Australian politics did not adopt it. The last ACTU congress heard a debate from advocates and opponents of the charter and declined to take a position. The national Young Labor conference voted down six versions of a charter. The Left of the parliamentary ALP evinced little enthusiasm.

In fact nobody was able to nominate a right that Australians lacked that would be rectified with a charter. Robertson tried when he referred to a hospitalised maritime worker who had his beard shaved off and a married couple who were separated in a nursing home. Both were cases easily sorted out by administrative appeals, not a shift in the constitutional balance of Australia.

Paul Kelly, writing in The Australian on February 17, made the point that Brennan's report was based on the notion that all our problems as a society could be reduced to rights and solved by having them judicially reviewed, what I would call "rights fundamentalism". This approach falls to pieces if you think how it might be applied in many areas: in schools, for example (and Robertson had proposed that a bill of rights for Australia recognise the rights of children). Do we want schools where students are agitated to assert rights, presumably the right not to be disciplined, not to take compulsory subjects, to challenge the authority of principals?

Perhaps a respectful learning environment is undercut by thinking of schools as arenas for these arguments.

Looking back, there was a simple-mindedness about the charter proponents. Give us a poetic list of rights, they said, and - oh joy, oh joy - extra litigation and judicial review will expand freedoms. What has triumphed - and we owe this to the Prime Minister - is a more politically literate view, a wisdom that understands that when you codify rights you freeze possibilities; that political culture counts more than pious abstractions.

I'm told that during the period cabinet was considering the Brennan report Kevin Rudd was reading Steven Pincus's 1688: The First Modern Revolution. That we've avoided a lurch towards a charter reflects Rudd's understanding that the untidy ebb and flow of common law, free elections and freedom of speech will keep us freer than lawyers' arguments over every word and clause in a charter. His reading would confirm it's the ethos of a country that counts, the spirit of a people. The rejection of the Brennan report shows Rudd does not feel intimidated by a leftover item from two previous Labor governments.

Apart from Brennan and members of his inquiry, the biggest loser is the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Under its chairwoman Cathy Branson, it spent an estimated $500,000 supporting one side, the pro-charter case.

It was taxpayers' money and should have been used to prosecute cases of discrimination.

That, after all, is the kind of bread-and-butter work that keeps us free.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


23 April, 2010

Fly the flag of St George and celebrate English patron saint, urges the Archbishop of York

I have the St George flag flying from my flagpole right now -- JR

The Archbishop of York has called for a display of patriotism today, St George’s Day. Failure to celebrate the English patron saint is a sign of ingratitude for the country’s heritage and a mark of cynicism, said Dr John Sentamu. He added that it was time for the English ‘to rejoice in the land that we live in.’

Uganda-born Dr Sentamu, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the hierarchy of the Church of England, made his plea for patriotism after a survey showed that many believe England has lost its national identity and feel ashamed of their nationality.

The Archbishop has long been an opponent of the multiculturalism fashionable among some of his C of E colleagues, which sees English history as disreputable and English patriotism as sinister.

He announced that he will fly the red cross of St George from his palace at Bishopthorpe in York today. A group of schoolchildren have been invited to play rounders on the palace lawn as part of a day of celebration.

Dr Sentamu said: ‘To be patriotic is to appreciate and be grateful for all that is valuable in the country you live in. It does not require you to be a xenophobe or a blinkered nationalist.

‘The failure to recognise and appreciate the goodly heritage of one’s country of residence is a sign of all-round ingratitude. Ingratitude in turn breeds cynicism.’

This week a poll by the magazine This England rated England as the least patriotic country in Europe and said that many believed if they tried to fly a St George’s flag from their house they would be told to take it down.


Hitler stimulated Arab antisemitism

The roots of Islamic fanaticism can be traced to Adolf Hitler's radio messages broadcast around the Arab world during the Second World War, according to a new book.

"Your only hope for rescue is the destruction of the Jews before they destroy you!" Hitler said in a 1942 message, one of thousands broadcast across the Middle East in an attempt to woo the Arab world.

In a broadcast aimed at provoking an anti-Semitic uprising in Egypt, he said: "A large number of Jews who live in Egypt, along with Poles, Greeks, Armenians and Frenchmen, have guns and ammunition. "Some Jews in Cairo have even asked the British authorities to set up machine guns on the roofs of their houses," he claimed.

But the Nazi's wartime broadcasts had remained a largely hidden chapter in the history of the war until the transmissions were unearthed by a US scholar, who believes they have fuelled continuing unrest in the Middle East.

"The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would have been over long ago were it not for the uncompromising, religiously inspired hatred of the Jews that was articulated and given assistance by Nazi propagandists and continued after the war by Islamists of various sorts," said Jeffrey Herf, a history professor at the University of Maryland.

In his new book, "Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World", Mr Herf argues that Nazi propagandists offered a message that neatly dovetailed with underlying prejudice.

"Islamic fundamentalism, like European totalitarianism in the 20th century, was and is a mixture of very old and very modern elements.

"It is also a product of a mixture of some indigenous currents in the history of Islam with the hatred of democracy, liberalism and the Jews that were so central to National Socialism.

Mr Herf uncovered 6,000 transmissions, produced under the propaganda minister Josef Goebbels and sent around the Arab world from 1939 to 1945.

The transcripts of the broadcasts were made by the American embassy in Cairo during the war, and classified until 1977 in Washington. But it was not until two years ago that Mr Herf became the first scholar to be given access to the files.

The Nazis relied on radio broadcasts - translated into Arabic - to sow propaganda because of high illiteracy in the Arab world at the time. Although radio ownership was small, it was commonplace for cafes and bazaars to draw large crowds to listen to broadcasts.

"This propaganda campaign comprised an important chapter in the history of the war," Mr Herf said.

"The Arab language propaganda produced in wartime Berlin was a significant chapter in the longer history of radical Arab nationalism and militant Islam."


The politics of intimidation

Justice Department blocks polling-place investigation

On the first Tuesday in November, two uniformed men arrived at a voting place and took up positions by the entry doors. In the hours that followed, they harassed voters and election officials, hurled racial epithets and physically blocked persons of other races who sought to cast their votes for president of the United States. One of the men brandished a nightstick.

Bartle Bull, a civil rights movement veteran, was there. He says it was "the most blatant form of voter intimidation I have encountered in my life in political campaigns in many states, even going back to the work I did in Mississippi in the 1960s." The crimes Mr. Bull witnessed that day were not committed in 1960s Mississippi, however. Those crimes took place in 2008 in Philadelphia.

It is regrettable that on the day when the United States elected its first black president, two thugs in Philadelphia perpetrated acts of race-based voter intimidation of the type that marred elections in segregation-era America. It also is inexcusable that President Obama's Justice Department refuses to fulfill its duty and bring those racists to justice. Led by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., political appointees at the Obama Justice Department overruled career federal prosecutors and dropped voter-intimidation charges against the men.

The Justice Department obtained only a narrow, meaningless injunction against the man who taunted voters with the nightstick. He has been enjoined from brandishing a weapon within 100 feet of the entrance to any polling place (an act which was illegal to begin with) but only until November 2012.

Now the Justice Department is obstructing the U.S. Civil Rights Commission's investigation into this case. If two white men had donned police uniforms or white robes and terrorized a voting place, we can be certain the Justice Department would have brought the full force of the law to bear against the perpetrators and vindicated the right to vote - and properly so. In this case, however, the perpetrators were black, and the uniforms they wore bore the insignia of the New Black Panther Party, a black supremacist organization.

It should not matter. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act affirmed what the Declaration of Independence and Constitution intended: that all persons are created equal and are entitled to be protected equally by our government and laws. In the decades that have followed the passage of those two acts, I and millions of others have been the beneficiaries of those twin pillars of the civil rights movement.

But while the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed to end discrimination against blacks and other minorities, federal law and our Constitution protect all Americans equally, without regard to race, color, creed or religion.

The selective enforcement of our laws, and the appearance of selective enforcement, erode faith and confidence in the administration of our justice system and undermine the fundamental rule of law that is the very foundation of our society: All persons are equal before the law, and no person stands above it.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission has picked up this case and will be continuing its investigation of the Obama Justice Department's handling of it at a hearing Friday. Thus far, the Justice Department has stonewalled the commission's work - ignoring its requests for records and information and refusing to issue and enforce subpoenas on its behalf.

The commission will press forward with its investigation. And while the Obama Justice Department continues to demonstrate apparent disregard for the rule of law by obstructing the investigation, consider the new precedent its handling of this case sets: Racially motivated voter intimidation will be tolerated, even when it is captured on video and available for all to see on YouTube. If career prosecutors bring charges, high-level presidential appointees will intervene to ensure they are dropped. Apparently, only brandishing a weapon crosses the line.

The victims of the voting rights crimes that were committed in Philadelphia in 2008, and indeed all Americans, deserved to cast their ballots free from racial taunts, fear and intimidation. They deserved a Justice Department that enforces their voting rights instead of dropping the case. And they deserved better from the president who famously decreed, "There is not a black America and a white America. ... There's the United States of America."

Mr. Obama, his attorney general and his Justice Department should reverse course, comply with the Civil Rights Commission's requests for information and aid - not obstruct - its investigation. This is the only way to restore public faith and confidence in the impartial enforcement of our civil and voting rights laws, which has been seriously damaged by the Obama administration's actions in this case.


No civil liberties for people who like to choose their waiter?

This is a great way to encourage hotels to employ blacks. If I were the hotelier I would avoid the problem by hiring Hispanics instead

A HAITIAN-AMERICAN waiter filed suit against a Florida Ritz Carlton hotel after being forbidden from serving a British family who had requested no people "of colour" or with "foreign accents" wait on them.

Haitian-born American citizen Wadner Tranchant, 40, said he was turned away after he began to serve a British family who had reportedly lodged their request with staff at the luxury hotel in Naples, Florida, Florida's naplesnews.com reported today

"My client was prevented from waiting on this couple because he was black," said attorney Michael R.N. McDonnell of Naples, who represents Mr Tranchant, who had worked at the Ritz for 15 years, with Naples attorney Scott Martin Roth.

The lawsuit was filed under the US Civil Rights Act and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

According to the suit, the incident with Brit Rodney Morgan and his family was not the first of its kind, as "Other employees ... encountered similar treatment on multiple occasions".



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


22 April, 2010

British "centrist" leader is no patriot

There is an element of truth in what he says but it is hardly a balanced view, let alone a patriotic one

Nick Clegg has claimed that the British people have ‘a more insidious cross to bear’ than Germany over the Second World War. In an astonishing attack on our national pride, the Liberal Democrat leader said we suffered from ‘delusions of grandeur’ and a ‘misplaced sense of superiority’ over having defeated the horrors of Nazism.

He said we found it hard to accept that Germany had become a ‘vastly more prosperous nation’ and that ‘we need to be put back in our place’.

His views, outlined in a newspaper article when he was a member of the European Parliament, cast grave doubts over his judgment of international affairs ahead of the second leaders’ debate this evening, when the topic will be foreign policy.

The jibes threatened to undermine the surge which has taken Mr Clegg from also-ran to serious player in the opinion polls.

The passionately pro-Europe Mr Clegg revealed his views in an article for the Guardian newspaper in 2002. ‘Watching Germany rise from its knees after the war and become a vastly more prosperous nation has not been easy on the febrile British psyche,’ Mr Clegg wrote, before attacking Britain’s approach to the war.

‘All nations have a cross to bear, and none more so than Germany with its memories of Nazism. But the British cross is more insidious still.

‘A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place.’

Tory MP Nicholas Soames, grandson of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, said: ‘These views will disgust people the length and breadth of the country. They show that Nick Clegg is unfit to lead his party, let alone the country.

‘They are an insult to the memory of Britain’s war dead and to a time when the British public all pulled together for the common good. 'They prove that Mr Clegg shares the European view of Britain rather than the British view.’

Mr Clegg, who has a Spanish wife, a Dutch mother and a Russian grandparent, began his career as a Brussels bureaucrat and moved to Westminster after a spell as a Euro MP. Ironically, his mother was interned by the Japanese during the war.

His outburst was not an isolated incident. In another article from June 2003, Mr Clegg continued to denounce ‘Britain’s culture of superiority’.

Making clear his love affair with all things European, he condemned the British ‘belief in our innate difference from our mainland continental cousins’. He went on: ‘No other culture in Europe is quite so enamoured by such a false notion of difference.

'We Brits concoct a historically illiterate notion that we are divorced from outside influences. Maybe it was loss of empire, the choppy waters of the Channel, or the last war.’

Those with recent experience of fighting for their country condemned his views. Colonel Tim Collins, commander of the Royal Irish Regiment during the Iraq War, said: ‘What he’s articulating is the Liberal Democrat view of the British people.

‘They are ashamed of them. They are ashamed of British identity and pandering to those who don’t share it.’


How evil works

An interview with David Kupelian

Let’s start by talking about the Stockholm syndrome that, as you discuss in your book, is affecting the West right now in its confrontation with Islamic Jihad. Give us your perspective.

Kupelian: Jamie, thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to talk about “How Evil Works.” In Chapter 3, “How Terrorism Really Works,” I use the Stockholm syndrome to explain the inexplicable level of weakness and appeasement we continually see in the West toward Islam – for instance, in our disastrous failure to stop Nidal Malik Hasan before he shot dozens of people at Fort Hood, killing 13, even though we knew full well he was a jihadist time bomb waiting to explode.

Everyone’s heard of the Stockholm syndrome, named after the Swedish bank robbery when two escaped convicts terrorized four hostages in a bank vault for five and a half days, during which time the hostages grew increasingly sympathetic toward their captors and antagonistic toward the police who were risking their lives to rescue them. The hostages, who had been tied to chairs, had nooses around their necks and guns trained on them day after day, ended up siding with their captors wholeheartedly, later raising money for their defense and refusing to testify against them at trial.

The syndrome, which law enforcement psychologists recognized long before it had a name, is pretty simple: When we’re seriously intimidated, in a life-threatening way, some of us start to side with whomever or whatever is intimidating us. I don’t mean just cooperating and “agreeing” with a captor as a survival strategy, which makes perfect sense. Extreme intimidation has a way of sometimes flipping our sympathy and loyalty in favor of the people doing the intimidating. In the news business, we see this in high-profile cases like Patricia Hearst, Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard.

Radical Islam is extremely intimidating – by design. The more crazy it acts, the more powerful it becomes. Just a few weeks ago, in Nigeria, Muslim gangs slaughtered 500 Christians, including many children and pregnant women and old people – hacked them to death with machetes. Islam has spread in this way – “at the point of a sword” – for centuries. As I write in “How Evil Works,” I personally lost many family members, perhaps over 100, in the genocide of the Christian Armenians at the hands of Muslim Turks. I tell one story in which my great grandfather, a Protestant minister, was martyred, along with 60 or 70 other clergymen and their wives, in Adana, Turkey, because they refused to convert on the spot to Islam. This is how it spreads, by traumatizing people. Many, just to survive, join the religion.

So the murderous Islamic tantrums we keep hearing about have a certain dark logic to them, in terms of enabling the spread of Islam. Remember the Danish Muhammad cartoons, which resulted in over 50 deaths? Or when Newsweek reported (incorrectly) that someone at Gitmo flushed a Quran down the toilet, which led to at least 15 deaths? Or the Miss World contest in Nigeria, when a single comment by a newspaper columnist about the beauty of contestants led to insane Muslim rioting in which rioters massacred over 200 people with machetes, or beat them to death or burned them alive – all because of a single sentence a newspaper columnist wrote, which wasn’t even offensive?

How do we respond to these outrageously demented and murderous tantrums? We refer to terrorist acts as “man-caused disasters.” We proclaim Islam as a “religion of peace.” Burger King recalls thousands of its ice cream cones because someone thought the ice cream swirl logo looked too much like the way the word “Allah” is written in Arabic and was therefore sacrilegious. “The 3 Little Pigs” is repeatedly censored in Britain so as not to offend Muslims, who don’t like pigs. In the U.S. we have a middle school curriculum that requires our children to dress up in Islamic garb, take on a Muslim name, memorize verses of the Quran and play so-called “jihad games.” Imagine trying that in today’s public schools with the Christian religion!

America, Europe and Britain today, in the way they deal with radical Islam and the terror threat, reveal something very akin to a low-grade, widespread Stockholm syndrome.

Bottom line, we don’t want to offend Muslims. Why? Because we’re afraid of them. We’re not afraid of Christians or Jews, because Christians and Jews don’t have tantrums and burn down other religions’ houses of worship and cut of people’s heads and commit terrorist acts. Radical Muslims do. We’re so afraid that, even after the Fort Hood attack, the Pentagon, in its 86-page postmortem report analyzing the event, did not see fit to mention the word “Muslim,” “Islam” or “jihad.” This is reminiscent of the “Harry Potter” stories, where everyone is so spooked by the villain Voldemort that they are afraid even to utter his name.

Ironically, people in the grip of jihadist fervor have nothing but contempt for our weakness and appeasement, which actually encourages more violence. Their madness is neutralized only by strength. Ronald Reagan knew this, which is why his watchword was “Peace through strength.”

Much more HERE

Dangerous to carry a walking stick in Britain

Dashing out of a shop after buying a newspaper, Andy Berry's only concern was catching his bus. But that worry was soon forgotten when he was confronted by five police officers carrying Heckler& Koch machine guns.

The 29-year-old was ordered to approach them and hand over his collapsible walking stick. His surreal predicament continued as the armed officers checked the black stick did not pose a threat - before revealing a member of public had mistaken it for a shotgun.

After realising the error, the police warned Mr Berry not to carry the stick in an 'inappropriate' fashion before sending him on his way

Mr Berry said: 'It was very scary at the time. I just froze to the spot and was a bit shaken afterwards but I can see the funny side now. 'I am just grateful that the police were not trigger-happy and prepared to shoot first and ask questions later. When I came out of the shop and saw them with their machine guns I thought, "What the hell is going on?"

'I never imagined it was anything to do with me. Then they asked me to stop. Their exact words were, "Can you come here for a moment please?".

After hearing why he had been stopped, Mr Berry said: 'I told them that it was just an extendable walking stick. It was black and I was carrying it horizontally like an umbrella but even so, it was clearly not a gun. 'I was warned not to carry the stick like that again in case it gave people the impression that it was a gun.'

The bizarre confrontation happened on Monday morning as shop assistant Mr Berry made his way to the convenience store where he works in Kesgrave near Ipswich. He bought the £5.99 stick, which is two feet long when collapsed, last year after suffering a leg injury and was taking it to work to donate to one of his customers.

However the intended recipient had found an alternative - and Mr Berry was too scared to risk venturing into public with the apparently threatening object and gave it to someone else.

The case has echoes of painter and decorator Harry Stanley, 46, who was shot dead by police in September 1999 after a caller dialled 999 to say that he appeared to be carrying a gun in Hackney, East London. It later emerged the 'gun' was a table leg he was carrying in a plastic bag.


Marriage is still the ideal

By Miranda Devine, writing from Australia

One of the most watched videos on YouTube last year was about marriage: 48 million hits and rising. The video of Jill and Kevin's Big Day shows a wedding in Minnesota in which the couple and their bridal party dance down the church aisle in a joyous celebration of love and friendship that captivated the imagination of the world. The video went viral within days of being posted by a family member, showing the perennial appeal of a happy marriage and all it implies for a stable and dynamic society.

More than two millenniums ago, Confucius sang the praises of marriage as the basic foundation of civilisation, with its main purpose to cultivate virtue, establish social cohesion and harmony. Aristotle saw the family as the foundation stone of society.

But marriage increasingly is under threat, from sky-high divorce rates and de facto unions to a push for same-sex marriage, which confuses legitimate gay rights with the undermining of a battered institution maligned as misogynistic and fostering intolerance.

Only a few days after the Jill and Kevin wedding video went up on YouTube came the spoof: Jill and Kevin's Last Day, which takes place in a divorce court, with the lawyers and judges dancing around the courtroom. While amusing, it fulfilled a pessimistic modern expectation that fairytales must inevitably disintegrate, that modern spouses are too weak and self-indulgent to weather the tempests any long marriage brings.

The most high-profile marriages - such as Tiger Woods' - seem destined to end in tears, as gossip magazines stage death watches on celebrity unions, and report break-ups with lascivious glee. Woods was the poster boy for the misery marriage narrative - the husband who seemed too good to be true, was. Not only did he excel at golf but he excelled at cheating on his wife.

When Sandra Bullock's marriage collapsed a few days after she won this year's best actress Oscar for The Blind Side, having been blindsided by her husband's Tiger-like infidelities, the story of the Oscars Curse emerged. Bullock was following a long line of actresses - Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank, Halle Berry and Helen Hunt - who won the award only to find their marriages collapse soon afterwards.

What can we make of the Oscars Curse: that as women become more successful in their careers inevitably their marriages must break under the pressure? Or that husbands could not cope with their wives' success? Or the wives suddenly decided they were worth more?

Perhaps, more likely, it is just that celebrity unions are inclined to brittleness, because of the unique pressures and temptations of that self-obsessed industry.

Celebrity breakdowns like those of Bullock and Woods show when marriages are bad, they are toxic. But they are the exception. More marriages survive than don't, especially in Australia where more than two in three remain intact, while divorce rates have been dropping and marriage rates increasing.

Regardless of Hollywood pessimism, a generation that has felt first-hand the effects of marriage breakdown and instability is embracing the institution afresh.

Instinctively they know the truth of what C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

"If you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned person for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


21 April, 2010

One result of the mostly non-existent British policing of ferals

Lawless gangs can mostly do what they like in Britain. Eventually people will take the remedy into their own hands. Now a house owner is arrested after yob urinating against his house is stabbed to death

A householder was being quizzed by murder squad police tonight after a man was allegedly stabbed to death outside his home during a violent confrontation.

The 52-year-old was detained after an incident with father-of-one Anthony Kershaw, 25, who had apparently been caught urinating against his front door.

It is believed the householder, who had suffered various incidents of anti-social behaviour outside his home, had been asleep at his flat in Rochdale, Greater Manchester when he was woken up by a group of youths outside his home.

When he told them group to leave he was met with abuse and he decided to speak to them outside. As Mr Kershaw relieved himself against the man’s front door he was allegedly knifed in the stomach.

Mr Kershaw collapsed as his three friends then chased the householder back into his property. Police found him dying in a pool of blood outside the flat in the Smallbridge area of the town.

Eye witness Kelly Holliday, 26, who lives in the block of flats opposite said: 'I went for a cigarette in my bedroom window at about 10.30pm and I heard all this shouting. I could hear people shouting. I think Anthony was there.

'At about 11pm two of them came to my door and asked for a cigarette. I said I hadn't got one. As they were going I heard someone shouting. 'I didn't think much of it because there's rumours after rumours around here but when I heard more people shouting someone had been stabbed, I went outside.

'The young men had been drinking and two men were kicking off at the flat whist a third man was holding Anthony's stomach. ''I saw the arrested guy come out in handcuffs, he walked to the police van and I saw Anthony lying there with this big slice in his stomach. 'I've never seen Anthony or his brother on this part of the estate. The guy in the flat kept himself to himself. 'It's just awful. I feel sorry for the lad's mum. Things are really going to kick off on this estate now, you can just feel it.'

Mr Kershaw died 11 hours later in hospital despite efforts to save him.

Today the householder was being quizzed on suspicion of wounding Mr Kershaw with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Friends of Kershaw were leaving Facebook tributes to him. His girlfriend Natalie Brierley said: 'I will love you forever and a day. Always your mine and Stevie's angel and I will never ever stop loving you. Why did they have to take you away from me.'

Friend Jonathan Worrall said: 'Still can't believe it. Still feels like a big dream. Ant Kersh you were a true friend, absolute legend. I am going to miss you dearly pal. 'He was a great son, father,boyfriend, brother, grandson and friend - a true legend ! My heart goes out to his nearest and dearest. 'I will always miss you four the rest of my days. Devastated isn't the word.'

Mr Kershaw's three friends aged 21, 20 and 23 were being questioned on suspicion of burglary.

The case is expected to reignite the debate about a householder's right to defend his property.

Greater Manchester Police said: 'A murder investigation has been launched after a man was stabbed in the stomach in Smallbridge. 'Just after midnight on Tuesday 20 April 2010, police were called to a flat on Great Howarth, Smallbridge following reports a man had been stabbed in a disturbance.

'Police attended and a 25-year-old man was taken to hospital for treatment. He remained in a serious condition in hospital but died at 10.50am.

'One 52-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and three men aged 21, 20 and 23 have been arrested on suspicion of burglary. 'All four men remain in police custody for questioning.’

Det Chief Insp Jon Chadwick of Greater Manchester Police said: 'This was a fairly isolated incident and we are confident we will be able to establish exactly what happened that resulted in this man's death. 'If anyone has any information about what happened, please don't hesitate to get in touch.'


But attacking decent people is all in a day's work for the cowardly British police

It's safer: Elderly couple get criminal records after confronting neighbour whose dogs were fouling their allotments [gardens]

When they set up a communal allotment, Janet Kearney and Terry Marshall were hailed as model citizens. But the couple found their hard-won reputation counted for nothing after confronting a neighbour who apparently let her dogs foul the site.

The dispute got out of hand when police turned up at their home to arrest Mrs Kearney, 63, for a public order offence. Mr Marshall, 70, started to protest at his partner's treatment and found himself arrested for a similar offence.

Both were taken to a police station where they were photographed, and had their DNA and fingerprints taken. They then spent around 20 hours in cells before being interviewed.

The couple also had to wait six months before they were told they were being charged and would have to appear in court. However, after 'reluctantly' pleading guilty to avoid a trial, a district judge has now told them it was 'not appropriate' to punish them and gave them a conditional discharge.

Yesterday, the couple, from Colchester, Essex, hit out at their treatment. They said police had failed to deal with numerous complaints about 'neighbour from hell' Helena Moraldo, who owns three Jack Russells, and officers overreacted when Mrs Kearney exchanged harsh words with her.

Grandmother Mrs Kearney claimed she had been provoked into reacting after months of abuse from Miss Moraldo, who is in her 50s. She said Miss Moraldo had verbally abused neighbours after moving into the area in March last year and her pets caused damage to the fruit and veg that residents were growing.

She added: 'She was nothing but trouble. I waited until July but then I got into a bit of a verbal with her. 'She complained to police straight away and I suffered because I opened my mouth and stood up to her. The whole thing was such a waste of time and money.'

The couple founded the Magnolia Garden Project for 24 residents of council-owned flats in 2006. Helpers receive a free share of the food it produces, including apples, tomatoes, potatoes and runner beans.

Colchester Magistrates' Court heard Mrs Kearney shouted and swore at Miss Moraldo after spotting one of her dogs on the allotment. James O'Toole, defending, said his clients felt they had been provoked. He said: 'The project has done untold good for the community. The problem is there has been vandalism at the gardens.'.

Handing the couple the conditional discharge, district judge David Cooper said: 'It is not appropriate to punish you for this matter. 'You are both doing a lot of good for the community. It's unfortunate such unkind things were said.'

Colchester MP Bob Russell said he was 'horrified' at the prosecution. 'The judge is to be commended for his common sense. It's just a great shame it got to him in the first place,' he added.

The Crown Prosecution Service defended its decision to prosecute, saying there had been sufficient evidence against the couple.

Colchester Borough Homes, which owns the flats, said Miss Moraldo had since moved. She could not be contacted for comment.


And being confident is an offence, of course

Comedian and political activist Mark Thomas has won compensation from police who illegally stopped and searched him after a demonstration. The stand-up comic was awarded £1,200 over an incident in which he was confronted by two Metropolitan Police officers in September 2007.

Thomas was returning home after giving a speech against the arms trade in London’s Docklands when his wallet and shoulder bag were searched.

One officer recorded on an official form that they were suspicious of Thomas because of his “over-confident attitude”.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force admitted falsely imprisoning Thomas and illegally questioning and searching him. He said the officer who searched him, a member of the force’s territorial support group, has received “formal words of advice”.

The spokesman added: “The Metropolitan Police Service has issued a full written apology to the claimant.”

The decision came after an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) sparked by Thomas’ original complaint. Thomas was held for 12 minutes as he attempted to catch the Docklands Light Railway home on September 11, 2007.

He had been invited by Campaign Against Arms Trade to address a protest outside the annual DSEi arms fair.

Thomas said that £1,200 for 12 minutes was “slightly more than my usual rate”. He said: “If over-confidence is a reason for a stop-and-search Jonathan Ross should never leave his house.”

Thomas added he would donate some of the money to the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation and also use some of it to fund his next live tour.

The comedian is a long-standing opponent of the arms trade and appeared on a secret police “spotter’s card” for surveillance officers several years ago. He has demonstrated against restrictions on protesting outside Parliament, the use of torture and the impact of new legislation on individual freedoms.


Success—CA. Child Custody Bill AB 2416 Passes Assembly by Unanimous Consent, Moves to Senate

At Fathers & Families we receive many letters from divorced or separated military servicemembers with painful but preventable family law problems. California AB 2416 will help protect the loving bonds that servicemembers share with their children.

Fathers & Families has worked closely with Assemblyman Paul Cook, the American Retirees Association, and others on AB 2416, and earlier this month thousands of you responded to our Action Alert in support of the bill. We are pleased to announce that this week the bill passed the Assembly by unanimous consent. The bill will now go to the Senate.

To learn more about the bill and to read Fathers & Families’ official support letter, see our AB 2416 Campaign page here.

Bills don’t pass by unanimous consent by accident—this victory was achieved because Fathers & Families’ legislative representative Michael Robinson and assistant legislative representative Nicole Silverman have spent months lobbying legislators and gathering support for AB 2416. We’ve been at the forefront of this issue, successfully working to pass military parent legislation in dozens of states.

The first major success occurred in 2005 under Robinson’s direction with the passage of California SB 1082, which helped address servicemembers’ custody and child support problems. Fathers & Families organized a campaign in support of the bill, and the Senate Judiciary Committee Analysis of SB 1082 made specific note of your calls and letters. We’ve also had some success with federal legislation on this issue–to learn more, click here.

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, 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 or 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.


20 April, 2010


MILLIONS of Britons face being snooped on by a new European intelligence agency which has been handed frightening powers to pry into our lives. Europol can access personal information on anyone – including their political opinions and sexual preferences – if it suspects, rightly or wrongly, that they may be involved in any “preparatory act” which could lead to criminal activity.

The vagueness of the Hague-based force’s remit sparked furious protests yesterday with critics warning that the EU snoopers threaten our right to free speech. It is understood the agency will concentrate on anyone thought “xenophobic” or likely to commit a crime involving the environment, computers or motor vehicles.

This could include covert monitoring of people who deny the existence of climate change or speak out on controversial issues.

Paul Nuttall, chairman of the UK Independence Party, said: “I am horrified. We thought Gordon Brown’s Big Brother state was bad enough but at least we are going to kick him out in May. These guys we cannot sack until we leave the EU.”

James Welch, legal director of campaign group Liberty, said: “We have huge concerns that Europol appears to have been given powers to hold very sensitive information and to investigate matters that aren’t even crimes in this country. Any extension of police powers at any level needs to be properly debated and scrutinised.”

Until January 1, Europol was a police office funded by various states to help tackle international organised crime. But it has been reborn as the official criminal intelligence-gathering arm of the EU and Brussels has vastly increased its powers. It can now target more than simply organised crime and the burden of proof required to begin monitoring an individual has been downgraded.

Europol has also been absorbed into the EU superstructure, so it will be centrally funded, sweeping away a key check on its independence.

Campaigners last night expressed concern over the vague list of “serious crimes” which the agency can help investigate, which include racism and xenophobia, environmental crime and corruption. Among personal details that can be gathered and stored are “behavioural data” including “lifestyle and routine; movements; places frequented”, tax position and profiles of DNA and voice. Where relevant, Europol will also be able to keep data on a person’s “political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs or trade union membership and data concerning health or sex life”.

Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance, warned that it threatened our right to free speech. “It doesn’t surprise me that Europol has been handed these rather frightening powers,” he said. “We now live in a pan-European state so it was to be expected that it would have a federal police force with powers over us. “There is a real danger that opposition to EU policies could make an individual liable to arrest.

“For example, if Brussels adopts a hard-line stance on climate change, it’s conceivable that someone who broadcasts their scepticism of climate change may be accused of committing an environmental crime because they have undermined the EU’s efforts to save mankind.”

Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative leader in the European Parliament, said: “Europol’s new mandate has significantly expanded its powers. “There is a real chance that the vague mandate will enable it to gradually extend its areas of intervention even further.”

The Home Office insisted the changes were in Britain’s interests. A spokesman said: “Europol is now in a much stronger position to better support our fight against serious and organised crime and terrorism.”


Hunting good for wildlife

Hunters have always said this but now Greenies are starting to realize its truth

The book, called Silent Summer, makes for some grim reading. Farmland birds, brown hares, water voles and many butterflies and other insects are in decline because of changing farming practices and loss of habitat, it says.

There are, however, some success stories. The otter, which between 1957 and the Seventies disappeared from 94 per cent of its habitats, is now back at more than a third of those sites, thanks to a special conservation programme.

And, controversially, the book credits field sports with helping to conserve several species, saying activities like hunting and shooting are "almost universally good" for the hunted species and many other species living in the same habitats.

The 600-page book was written by a team of experts and edited by Professor Emeritus Norman Maclean, of Southampton University's School of Biological Sciences, and a leading UK authority on fish genetics and genomics.

The book records how some farmland birds, including the skylark, have seen their population fall by more than half in recent decades. Farmland birds are a key government barometer for measuring the countryside's health.

Other species, including the yellow hammer, turtle dove, grey partridge, willow tit, spotted flycatcher, wood warbler and pied flycatcher are also in serious decline.

Robert Robinson of the British Trust for Ornithology says in the book that half the 220 bird species in Britain and Ireland " are of conservation concern". Climate change is a threat but deterioration and loss of habitat is a bigger problem, he says.

The dramatic fall in insect populations in the past 20 years has had a knock-on effects for other animals, especially birds and mammals. British butterflies in trouble include the Large Heath, Duke of Burgundy and Lulworth Skipper.

The brown hare, which has been in decline in the UK since the 1960s, has suffered from an increase in the number of predators – mainly foxes – and loss of cover, according to the book. There are an estimated 800,000 hares in the UK and although not rare or endangered, the mammal is one of the Government's priority species for conservation.

In addition to the otter, other species that have benefited from targeted measures include the buzzard – up by over 50 per cent – and the red kite, which was on the brink of extinction and now boasts a population of 1,000 breeding pairs in the UK. Sea birds are flourishing and badgers, helped by strict legal protection, have seen their numbers rise to more than 300,000.

Prof Maclean told The Sunday Telegraph: "The book is like a Domesday Book of British wildlife. There are serious concerns about many species of birds and insects. The problem is chiefly man-made and the solutions can be man-made too.

"But the picture is mixed. The evidence suggests that targeted conservation campaigns work. We have to protect the species in danger because so many other species depend on them for survival.

"And we should also protect them because wildlife is important to our quality of life."

Sir David Attenborough says in the book's foreword: "This book... gives us a benchmark. It is invaluable now and in the future it will be irreplaceable."

The book highlights the importance of field sports to the wellbeing of wildlife. Robin Sharp, Chair Emeritus of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, says that "field sports ... have been almost universally good for the hunted species and the non-hunted, non-predators that thrive in the same habitat".

Prof Sharp praises foxhunting and reveals that 86 per cent of woodland managed for hunting had vegetation cover – important for other species – compared with just 64 per cent in unmanaged woodland.

Managed areas also had an average of four more plant species, greater plant diversity and more butterfly species than unmanaged areas.

Prof Sharp also reports on a study of three areas in central England which found that all owners of land used for hunting and shooting had planted new woodland, compared with only 30 per cent of landowners who did not host hunts or shoots.

"This suggests that those who hunt and / or shoot provide significant conservation benefits," he said.

Prof Sharp calls on hunters and shooters to make more effort to explain the benefits of their activities to conservationists, policy-makers and the public.

"Overwhelmingly the target species for field sports have fared well over the last century ... More game-keeping, game crops and habitat management would undoubtedly achieve even more."


Europe struggles with Muslim dress code

Chances of seeing a burqa in Belgium are only a little better than spotting a liquor shop in Saudi Arabia. Yet Belgium soon may be the first European nation to outlaw the burqa and other Islamic garb that completely hides a woman's body and face.

Neighboring France and the Netherlands may also outlaw attire that is viewed by many in western European societies as demeaning to women. It also is considered a gateway to radical Islam, a fear that is stoking rightwing sentiment across the continent.

"There is all-party public support for this," says Leen Dierick, a conservative member of the Belgian parliament's Interior Affairs committee that unanimously backed the proposed ban March 31. The initiative is expected become law in July and would apply to all public places, including streets.

Anxieties that visible signs of Islam erode national identity are combining with complaints that immigrants are stealing jobs amid the worst economic slump in decades to deepen a sense of unease in many European countries, small and large alike, over the role of Muslims in society.

Threats against cartoonists and artists over depictions of the prophet Muhammad have also raised fears that Islam is not compatible with Western values of freedom of speech.

Swiss voters recently voted to ban the construction of new minarets. In recent years, both mosque and minaret construction projects in many European countries, including Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia have generated protests, some of them violent.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy favors a burqa ban, saying the veils compromise women's dignity. Unlike the Belgians or the Dutch _ who see a clear and straightforward public security issue _ the French are struggling with the constitutionality of outlawing a religious dress code.

Until now, it has been up to city governments in Belgium to crack down on burqa-style outfits. "Enforcement by local governments has been patchy," says Dierick. "The point is public security, the need to show one's face in public. Not religious freedom."

The proposed Belgian ban partly underscores how populist politicians across Europe are making a big imprint on attitudes and policies toward immigrants and minorities, especially Muslims.

Belgian lawmaker Filip Dewinter says mainstream politicians back a ban on burqa-type attire for fear of losing more ground to his far-right Flemish Interest party _ a fringe factor 15 years but who today hold 17 of the 150 parliamentary seats.

"We were the first to propose a burqa ban," says Dewinter. "Now the parliament votes for a ban (drafted by a) traditional government party. Whatever! It's the outcome that counts."

Umar Mirza, a 22-year-old student and editor of the Dutch Muslim Web site "We're Staying Here" says sentiment toward Muslims and immigrants began to harden in the Netherlands 10 years ago.

"People my age have not known anything else," he says, adding the prevailing view of Muslims "has gotten much harder and sharper and less targeted at solutions."

In the Netherlands, polls indicate that Geert Wilders' anti-Islam Freedom Party could nearly triple its presence in parliament and win 25 or so seats in June elections, up from nine today.

Wilders and like-minded supporters of the far-right hold that Muslims threaten European values by wearing head scarves and more conservative dress that fully covers body and head, such as the burqa, the chador and the niqab.

They say that liberal Europe can no longer afford to tolerate the illiberalism of newcomers.

"Islam is more of an ideology than a religion," Wilders is fond of saying. "I do not believe in a European Islam. The Islamization of the Netherlands and Western Europe will make us lose the freedoms we have today."

Numbers put growing fears of Europe becoming "Eurabia" into perspective.

Although their ranks are growing, Muslims make up only small minorities in Western Europe. France has the largest Muslim population of an estimated 5 million, or 7.5 percent of the population, followed by the Netherlands with 6 percent, Germany with 5 percent, Austria with 4.2 percent, Belgium with 3 percent and Britain with 2.7 percent, according to a 2009 study of the Pew Research Center in Washington.

There is broad support in the Dutch parliament to ban face-obscuring clothing except if required by law for safety or health reasons. Talk of a ban is on hold, for now. Fewer than 500 women wear such outfits in the Netherlands, out of a population of 16.5 million.

"Banning the burqa in Belgium is easy. The vast majority of Muslim women here don't wear one," says Maryam H'madoun, an activist in Antwerp for Muslim women's right to wear head scarves in public places.

Last year, the city of Brussels fined only 29 women _ down from 33 in 2008 _ for wearing a burqa-type dress, leading critics to say the regulations are an empty populist gesture. Local rules ban the burqa, but the new law would outlaw it on a national level.

In January, Denmark's center-right government called the burqa and the niqab out of step with Danish values. It held off on a ban after finding that only two or three women in Denmark (pop. 5.5 million) wear burqas and perhaps 200 wearing niqabs.

In France (pop. 65 million), the government estimates 1,900 women cover their faces with "niqabs," a scarf that exposes only the eyes, or "sitars," a filmy veiled cloth thrown over the head to cover the entire face.

France banned Muslim head scarves _ as well as Jewish skullcaps and Christian crosses _ from schools in 2004. President Nicolas Sarkozy says the burqa "is not welcome" in France, but the Council of State, France's highest administrative body, has served notice that an outright ban may be unconstitutional.

Politicians in Germany, Spain and Italy have toyed with banning Islamic wear, but so far to no effect.

Muslims say their Islamic dress expresses their freedom of religion.

The headscarves debate "shows we still aren't able to accept the fact that the headscarves are part of our society," says Mirza, the editor of the "We're Staying Here" Web site.

"In the UK, they even made special police uniforms for women with headscarves. That shows willingness from the government and improves participation in society of these groups."

Isabelle Praile, vice president of the Belgian Muslims Executive says while a burqa ban targets very few women "it speaks to a fear of the other who is Muslim. This is Islamophobia."

To Muslims in Europe, she said, "the economy, the cost of living and decent housing" are more pressing issues that worrying about a burqa ban.


England branded least patriotic nation in Europe as citizens are too scared to fly the flag

The English rate themselves the least patriotic nation in Europe, a poll suggests. Almost half said their country had lost its identity in the face of European interference and political correctness.

The findings were published in advance of St George’s Day which, as two thirds of those polled did not know, is on April 23 – this Friday.

They showed that on average, English people rate their patriotism at slightly below six on a scale out of ten, behind the Scots, Welsh and Irish and far in the wake of the Dutch, the most patriotic people on the continent.

Only one in ten would happily fly the cross of St George to celebrate the national saint’s day. Double that number said they thought they would be told by authorities to remove it if they flew it from their house.

Despite calls from public figures ranging from Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu to Gordon Brown for more celebrations of the English national day, there has been clear disapproval from many public authorities.

In 2008 St George's Day parades were banned by local authorities in Bradford and Sandwell in the West Midlands on the grounds they could cause trouble or were 'unhealthy' and 'tribal'.

Last year Mr Brown's instruction that public buildings in England should fly the flag on 23 April were undermined by the production of a European map drawn up in Brussels that wiped England off altogether and replaced the country with a series of EU regions.

One in 10 of the English are happy to fly the flag, compared with one in three Dutch people willing to fly their own tricolor. More than one in four English people said they feared being branded racist, but four out of 10 said they would happily express their national pride behind closed doors. Four out of 10 said they felt England had completely lost its national identity.

The same number said the only time they felt a real sense of patriotism was during big sporting events or competitions, with 53 per cent claiming the World Cup was the main spark, followed by the Olympics. However, three out of ten said they felt waves of patriotism in the wake of terrorist atrocities in our towns and cities.

While English people put their patriotism at 5.8 out of 10, Scots ranked their patriotism at 7.1, the Welsh at 7.06 and the Irish at 6.72.

The Dutch were the most patriotic European country at 7.18, while the French scored 6.44 and the Germans ranked their love of country just ahead of the English at 5.81.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


19 April, 2010

German Green Party Unveils a 'New Man' Manifesto

I wish them luck with their aim of feminizing German men. There are girly men in all populations but on the whole I cannot think of a male population less likely to be feminized than German men. They have been a warrior race since the days of the Roman Republic and it shows. How come a "Green" party became a feminist party anyhow? Looks like the Greens have become the refuge for all Germany's wackos.

The British Greens are an LGBT party, so I presume that applies to the German party too. Can we expect a "Pedophiles are just misunderstood" manifesto next? Or maybe a "clitorodectomy is a basic human right for Muslim girls" campaign? And if not, why not?

A new manifesto from the German Green Party aims to banish macho men for good. It has stirred debate among men, even if a number of female Green politicians remain unconvinced.

The German Green Party has made a name for itself at the cutting edge of women's rights. It was the first party to have a 50 percent quota for women in list-based elections -- and they always put a woman at the top of the list. At Green Party conferences men and women give speeches in strict alternation. No other German party takes the equality issue so seriously, and this weekend the Greens, once again, are holding a two-day National Women's Conference in the city of Bonn.

Even if some male party members think the Greens tend to exaggerate a bit on this issue, they do not dare say so publicly. Instead a new group of young party members has come up with an even stronger gender message, this time shining the spotlight on men: "We no longer need to be macho!" is the title of their manifesto which deals with "equality and male feminism."

The signatories include several Green politicians from the European parliament, the German Bundestag as well as local Green leaders. "We no longer want to be macho," it declares, "we want to be people. You are not born a man, you are turned into one."

The men's manifesto makes two main points. First, men need to break out of their traditional gender roles. "We need a new awareness of a new masculinity," write its co-authors Sven Lehmann and Jan Philipp Albrecht. Second, they argue that their fellow men need to realize that real equality will not happen without their participation.

'Boys' Days'

"We want to live differently!" writes Lehmann, a senior member of the North Rhine-Westphalia branch of the party, and the European parliamentarian Albrecht. They appeal for a slower pace of life, less focus on profit and more health consciousness. They want to start holding "Boys' Days and gender-sensitive career-guidance sessions."

"Interest in mechanical engineering is not something we are born with," they say.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the manifesto, which has recently been posted online, has sparked all sorts of angry responses. Co-author Albrecht says he was expecting the flood of insults like "bloody homos." But less expected were comments like: "What's this subject got to do with you?"

For Albrecht that was exactly the point, because "women are ahead in this issue -- now men have to take the lead," he says. Or, as co-author Lehmann puts it: "Where are men in the equal rights debate?"

The manifesto is signed by politicians from both the left and the center of the party, both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Even the party's co-chief Cem Özdemir has welcomed the initiative. "Gender justice has been a key concern for the Green Party since it was founded," he says. "Therefore, it is also an issue for men." The problems described by the smooth-talking Özdemir match the tenor of the feminist debate: "We are witnessing a public discussion by men about men, even though some men feel a bit uncomfortable about the deconstruction of the male role."

The Green co-leader himself has experience toying with stereotypes. Following the birth of his second child he took a few weeks off from party leadership, making a name for himself as the nappy-changing politician of the moment. But even that is not enough for the anti-macho manifesto writers: Are men really becoming "new fathers"? they ask. "Or it is actually a 'mirage' which merely allows fathers a prolonged break from their jobs?"

This could be read as a critique of the nappy-changing party leader, one signatory admitted, but went on to stress that a party leader is not in a position to take a prolonged stint off work, like many other fathers.

Green Women Want More

So what do female members of the Green Party make of this? Astrid Rothe-Beinlich, the Green spokesperson for women's issues, welcomes the new manifesto. "The Greens have always been a progressive party," she says, adding it was high time "that men also take responsibility for the issue of equality." But their party colleagues should not simply applaud the manifesto, she says. The question now, in her words, is, "How can it be implemented?"

Franza Drechsel, Green Youth spokesperson for gender and political affairs, also praised the new manifesto in principle. "It is good that men participate in the debate," she says, adding "this is far from enough ... the authors remain stuck in the rut of talking about two sexes." Above all, the debate is not just about men, she argues: "In the long term we can only be in this together."

But Green Party women are not exactly cooperative either, because this weekend they are keeping to themselves. The speakers at the National Women's Congress in Bonn are exclusively female. So the question remains: When will the Green anti-macho men hold their first national meeting?


Europe on path to tyranny, Church of England warns

The Church of England has accused the European Union of neglecting its Christian heritage and warned that it is at risk of creating "secular tyranny". In a hard-hitting report on the failures of officials in Brussels, the church says Europe has been left "more uncertain of its future and more mistrusted by its citizens than ever before".

Commissioned by the church's bishops, the document argues the European Parliament is suffering from a "democratic deficit" and expresses concern that the continent faces "a perfect storm".

It is critical of the way that politicians have marginalised Christianity and calls on them to build a more united society by promoting values that are influenced by religious principles.

The comments come as church leaders have stepped up their battle to defend the freedom of worshippers, with a former Archbishop of Canterbury last week attacking "disturbing" and "dangerous" rulings made by judges in religious discrimination cases in Britain.

Lord Carey was intervening in a case being brought by a Christian relationship counsellor who wants a special panel of five senior judges to hear his appeal against being sacked for refusing to counsel homosexual couples.

The church report says the drive for inclusivity and equality has led to the playing down of key elements of the EU's history. "As secular organisations, in the pluralist world of the 21st century, the institutions of the EU can tend to take for granted or avoid aspects of Europe's Christian inheritance," it says.

"If the EU is to draw inspiration from its cultural, religious and humanist inheritance with integrity, it needs to be more at ease with its Christian history and to articulate this within a Europe that is spiritually hungry for its values to be substantial and life-giving. Most European politicians are reluctant to give emphasis to the fundamental connections between the Christian faith and the values of the contemporary European Union."

In 2004 fears were raised the EU was becoming more intolerant of Christians after Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian Catholic, was blocked from becoming European Commissioner because he followed the church's teaching on homosexuality. The European Constitution - signed in the same year, although never ratified - excluded all mention of God.

The church document says "for the majority of citizens Europe is becoming less united and more distant", pointing to the rapid inclusion of 200 million people as part of the union following the admittance of several eastern European countries.

The report marked the 60th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, the the European Coal and Steel Community accord which evolved into the EU.


Australian human rights act canned as election looms

THE federal government is preparing to announce that it will not create a human rights act for Australia despite the recommendations of a report it commissioned last year.

The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, is planning to outline the government's response to the report, by a human rights consultation committee headed by the Jesuit lawyer Father Frank Brennan, in a National Press Club speech on Wednesday.

Sources say he is likely to promise improved parliamentary scrutiny of new laws for human rights issues, the addition of human rights to the national schools curriculum, and increased funding and functions for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

But, as predicted, the government appears set to sidestep the key reform - a bill or charter of rights - because cabinet is divided on its political implications.

It is unclear whether a bill of rights has been ruled out or simply shelved for further debate if the government wins a second term. Mr McClelland's office would not comment yesterday.

The expected response would be a victory for the federal opposition and Labor figures such as former premier Bob Carr and the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, who have campaigned against a bill of rights. Mr Hatzistergos was heard to quip to former Labor MP and rights advocate Susan Ryan at a recent constitutional law conference at the Art Gallery of NSW that he was ''sorry for her loss''.

Although most developed nations have one, resistance to a bill or charter of rights has centred around fears of a power shift from parliaments to judges, who would be asked to assess whether laws are compatible with human rights, although without the power of veto. There have also been fears it could prevent religious institutions such as schools from hiring religious staff.

Cabinet has considered the issue several times, and is reported to remain divided.

Some ministers are said to feel the political battle for a bill of rights is not worth the pain, especially before an election.

But others are said to be concerned about the effect of squibbing the charter issue in marginal inner-city seats where the Greens - who support a bill - are posing a threat to sitting members.

Ms Ryan, the chairwoman of the Australian Human Rights Group, said any government response that fell short of a human rights act ''would be a huge disappointment among all those organisations that work for vulnerable people and are hoping for a better deal from the government''.

If not this week, she said she expected it would happen in the future.

The Brennan report's recommendations were based on public consultations across the country and 35,014 written responses, of which 27,888 supported a charter or human rights act, while 4203 were against it.


Australian Red Cross to review its policy on banning homosexual men from donating blood

There are good medical reasons to avoid blood transfusions. This would add another one

THE Australian Red Cross is reviewing its long-standing policy banning homosexual men from donating blood.

Gay rights lobby groups have backed the review, due to begin within 12 months, which could see homosexual men able to donate blood for the first time since 1985.

Currently, men who have had homosexual sex within a 12-month period are banned from donating blood.

Australian Red Cross Blood Service spokesman Nicholas McGowan said the policy was in place because even though all samples are tested for HIV and other blood-borne diseases, they were not "foolproof". "The issue with HIV-AIDS is there's still a window that even the most sensitive tests can't detect," Mr McGowan said.

Mr McGowan said the Red Cross would consider new research and technology as part of the review but warned against expectations it would definitely result in a relaxing of the policy. "I don't think that should stop us from taking this opportunity to talk it all through." 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, 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 or 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.


18 April, 2010

Evil British social workers again

"We're from the government and we're here to help you". Ronald Reagan rightly branded that for what it was in 1986: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language" (actually ten if you include "the")

A COUPLE have won a legal battle to prevent social workers taking their five-year-old son into care after the authorities claimed that his health had been damaged by a meat-and-dairy-free diet. Social services even tried to get police to investigate the family and threatened to seize the boy’s two older siblings during the two-year ordeal.

The parents, Ken and Marie, were forced to represent themselves in court after their legal aid was removed — simply because they had insisted on contesting the case.

Last week a family court judge removed an interim supervision order on the child previously obtained by social workers and ruled that he must be taken off the at-risk register.

“It has been a nightmare and we feel our experience should serve as a warning that the system is being used to try to break up innocent families,” said Marie, 40, a trainee aromatherapist from Lewisham in London.

Her words echo those of Lord Justice Wall, new head of the family courts, who said last week the eagerness of some social workers to take children into care was “quite shocking”.

The case is seen as another example of social services preferring to seize children rather than risk the type of bad publicity sparked by the case of Baby Peter, the toddler who died in 2007 after his plight was repeatedly overlooked.

Marie and Ken’s ordeal began in March 2008 when their son, then aged three, collapsed at home. Only after he was rushed to the Evelina children’s hospital in Waterloo, central London, was it discovered that he appeared to be suffering from rickets, with very low levels of vitamin D, zinc and iron. He also had a bronchial condition. Hospital doctors alerted Lewisham council because they believed the child’s condition was caused by malnutrition.

Social workers from the council alleged that the family’s diet, which included fish but no meat or dairy products, was the cause of the boy’s rickets and said it could put him in future danger. However, the rest of the family, including another boy, now 10, and a girl, now 8, were found to be fit and healthy despite sharing the same diet.

“They implied we had selectively starved one of our children,” said Marie, who asked for her son not to be named. “They twisted things, saying we were vegans even though we eat fish. We don’t eat dairy because asthma runs in the family and that can make it worse, but we are not vegans. I always gave the children extra vitamins, too.

“When the social workers found out that we home-educate our children, we were accused of being ‘unorthodox’, which made us even more suspicious in their eyes. “We were told by social workers that they had obtained an emergency protection order in case we tried to snatch our son from the hospital, which was quite ridiculous.”

The boy remained at the hospital until November 2008 and his parents were kept under supervision whenever they were with him.

Ken, 35, said: “We found out from his dietician that when they initially gave him vitamin D his levels had gone up, but then over a period of months it dropped right back. It strongly indicates to us that he has a problem absorbing vitamin D — but social services continued to accuse us.”

The parents were said to be “in denial” of their role in causing their son’s collapse, which then became a reason in itself for seeking to remove him. In late 2008 Lewisham council applied to the family courts to have the boy taken into care, but was granted an interim supervision order instead. This allowed the boy to go home from hospital but meant social workers would visit frequently. “We were told that once they had obtained the care order, they would apply for the same for our other children,” said Marie.

Despite psychological reports that found the parents to be normal, the council attempted to upgrade to a full supervision order.

Lewisham also unsuccessfully tried to get police to investigate the family. A social worker wrote to a colleague saying they should “actively encourage” police to investigate the case in the hope that the parents would acknowledge the “harm” the child had suffered.

Marie, who gave birth to the couple’s fourth child last October, said: “After our legal representation was removed, we [requested] a judicial review of the reasons for the interim supervision order. “The day before the court hearing last Tuesday, the council called us to say that if we would agree to them ‘monitoring and supporting’ us for a year, they would drop their application for a [full] order. We agreed to a six-month period of monitoring.

“If it wasn’t for the help of other professionals, such as paediatricians outside the Evelina, we probably would not have our son with us today. The big issue remaining is that no one seems to want to find out what the real reason is for his medical problems.”

John Hemming MP, who advised the family, said: “It is just appalling the way parents are being forced to agree to councils’ demands in order to keep their legal aid.”

Lewisham council said: “The court has made no criticism ... and considered that we acted entirely appropriately to protect the child.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Evelina, said: “Patients are only referred to social services if a multi-disciplinary team of senior clinicians suspect a child is in need ... No individual doctor makes this decision.”

The Legal Services Commission, which governs the awarding of legal aid, said it could be withdrawn if the chances of success were seen to be too low.


Bigoted NASA lab accused of crackdown on intelligent design discussions

Complaint alleges harassment, secret investigation, gag order

A complaint has been filed against NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, which sent Galileo to Jupiter and dispatched a ship named Dawn to orbit asteroids Vesta and Ceres, claiming managers there discriminated against and demoted a key project worker because he shared intelligent design videos with co-workers.

The case has been filed by David Coppedge, an information technology specialist and systems administrator on the lab's Cassini mission to Saturn, which has been described as the most ambitious interplanetary exploration ever launched.

Images recently released from the project reveal lightning on Saturn.

"For the offense of offering videos to colleagues, Coppedge faced harassment, an investigation cloaked in secrecy, and a virtual gag order on his discussion of intelligent design," said attorney Casey Luskin of Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

Luskin serves as a consultant to the Coppedge lawsuit, which is being handled by Los Angeles First Amendment attorney William J. Becker Jr. of the Becker Law Firm and includes allegations of free speech violations and wrongful demotion.

"Coppedge was punished even though supervisors admitted never receiving a single complaint regarding his conversations about intelligent design prior to their investigation, and even though other employees were allowed to express diverse ideological opinions, including attacking intelligent design," Luskin said.

The complaint was filed in California Superior Court. Officials at the JPL today told WND they had not yet seen the court filing and could not comment.

The action explains that a division of the California Institute of Technology JPL operates under a contract with NASA. Coppedge was a "Team Lead" Systems Administrator on the Cassini mission until JPL demoted him for allegedly "pushing religion" by loaning interested co-workers DVDs supportive of intelligent design.

Coppedge is suing JPL and Caltech for religion discrimination and harassment, retaliation, violation of his religious rights and wrongful demotion.

"Intelligent design is not religion, and nothing in the DVDs that Coppedge shared deals with religion," said Luskin. "Even so, it's unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on what they deem is religion."

Among the coming JPL projects is Aquarius, which is to offer the first-ever global maps of salt concentrations in the ocean surface needed to understand heat transport and storage in the ocean.

Its Deep Space 1 left Earth in 1998 and tested an ion engine that could power future solar system explorers.

The case alleges Coppedge's supervisors demoted and humiliated him for advancing ideas that superiors labeled "unwelcome" and "disruptive."

The situation reach a boiling point in 2009 when a supervisor angrily harassed Coppedge, claiming "intelligent design is religion" and that Coppedge was "pushing religion."

Coppedge's complaint about that harassment resulted in a retaliatory investigation and "severe limitations" on Coppedge's free speech rights, the case explains.

The actions against him continued, even though supervisors eventually admitted they had no complaints about him, and other employees were allowed to discuss whatever topics they chose, the case explains.

The complaint said, "Intelligent design offers scientific evidence that life's development is best explained as reflecting the design of an intelligent cause, citing mainstream research in biology, cosmology, and paleontology."

The DVDs included "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and "The Privileged Planet."

The Discovery Institute notes this is just the latest in a series of disputes involving intelligent design.

Previously, the California Science Center in Los Angeles, a state agency, was sued following its "discriminatory cancellation" of a contract to screen an intelligent design film.

At Iowa State in 2006, supervisors denied tenure to and forced out a distinguished astrophysicist for co-authoring a book on intelligent-design in cosmology.

In 2005, supervisors at the Smithsonian investigated, harassed and demoted an evolutionary biologist for editing a pro-intelligent design article in a peer-reviewed technical journal.

And in University of Idaho in 2005, the university's president banned faculty on campus from teaching against evolution-theory orthodoxy.

"Anyone who thinks that today's culture of science allows an open discussion of evolution is sorely mistaken," said John G. West, associate director of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. "When it comes to intelligent design, private and government-run agencies are suppressing free speech."


America doesn't have a prayer

Public prayer does not establish an official religion

If there is one thing this country needs right now, it is prayer. Thus, it was a singular case of bad timing last week when Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., ruled that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. The observance was established in 1952 as a day when presidents issue proclamations asking Americans to pray, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation brought suit in 2008 on the grounds that the law violates the First Amendment ban on establishment of religion. Judge Crabb agrees. We dissent.

National days of prayer have been declared since the earliest days of the republic. Our Thanksgiving holiday is rooted in the 1789 decree by President George Washington that the nation "unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations ... [and] to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws." Likewise, Abraham Lincoln in 1861 called for "a day of humiliation, prayer and fasting for all the people of the nation." He recommended that Americans "observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility and with all religious solemnity."

The 1983 Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers, which upheld the right of the Nebraska Legislature to have an invocation, is one of the most cited regarding Establishment Clause issues. In it, the high court affirmed that such long-standing, nondenominational customs and practices are constitutionally sound. "It can hardly be thought that in the same week members of the First Congress voted to appoint and to pay a chaplain for each House and also voted to approve the draft of the First Amendment for submission to the states," the court argued, "they intended the Establishment Clause of the Amendment to forbid what they had just declared acceptable."

Even the fact that some opposed the practice at that time does not weaken "the force of the historical argument," the Supreme Court maintained. To those Founders who argued that a group divided by many denominations could not join in the same act of worship, Samuel Adams responded, according to his cousin John Adams, that "he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his country." Judge Crabb's decision reinforces the passions that divide the nation rather than promoting that which should unite us.

Judge Crabb counters that "recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic." But if rune magic had played as important a role in our national history as prayer did, no doubt Rune Day would be a cherished annual observance. If the first Congress convened in a sweat lodge, then hallucinations and visions would guide our public policy - that is, to a greater extent than they do in the current government.

This passage reveals the most critical flaw in Judge Crabb's reasoning. She seeks to equate things that are not equal, to elevate the obscure to the level of the commonplace. The United States is defined by its people, their culture and history, and the Constitution is part of that fabric. It is not a theoretical construct in which radical judges are free to seek utopian interpretations separate from the society that created the document and sustains the principles on which it was founded.

In the 1952 case Zorach v. Clauson, the Supreme Court observed that Americans are "a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." The National Day of Prayer does not establish religion but recognizes what already exists.


National Day of Silencing Science

April 16 is the National Day of Silence, where students nationwide refrain from speaking to bring attention to the mistreatment of gay and lesbian youth in schools. However, it’s not the LGBT students who are being bullied these days, but the thousands of young people that have unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA), the former homosexuals who have changed from gay to straight, and the researchers and therapists who dare to help them. If anyone is guilty of bullying, it’s the homosexual activists who are pushing their political agenda through the mainstream media, medical, and mental health communities.

The sexual revolution in the 1960s was supposed to encompass free love, tolerance of choice, and liberation. However, many of the activists who came out of this era are not presenting this message to youth with true fidelity. Young people growing up with same-sex attraction are being told they are gay and pressured to identify as such from an early age. Rather than presenting all the facts, students are given a lop-sided, politically correct message – and all those who dare to present an alternative are victims of intimidation and character assassination.

Take for example the American College of Pediatricians, who recently began a campaign to educate schools on sexual orientation and youth. “Facts About Youth” cites research that shows that over 85% of students with homosexual attractions will ultimately adopt a heterosexual identity as adults. The College warns that homosexual behavior carries grave health risks (especially for boys), and also notes that affirming any type of sexual behavior for young people is dangerous, as research demonstrates that early sexual debut is linked to a number of risks, including poorer social and psychological health.

But liberal medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics refuse to recognize these risks, describing the College’s campaign as “not acknowledge(ing) the scientific and medical evidence regarding sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual health, or effective health education.” The Academy instead supports the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Gay and Lesbian Task Force’ “Just The Facts,” which ignores the growing body of research demonstrating that changing one’s sexual orientation is indeed possible.

Among those being ignored is Columbia University’s Dr. Robert Spitzer, whose 2003 landmark study was published in the prestigious journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. To his surprise, Spitzer – who ironically spearheaded the removal of homosexuality from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973 –.found that the majority of his 200 subjects experienced significant change in their same-sex feelings through therapy and support groups: “Like most psychiatrists, I thought that homosexual behavior could only be resisted, and that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that to be false. Some people can and do change.”

If that’s not convincing enough, in 2009 the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality published a comprehensive overview of research, citing over 500 scientific studies spanning nearly 100 years of research that demonstrates change is possible. However, these facts aren’t being communicated to young people. What is being educated to our youth is based on political correctness, not sexual freedom.

Meanwhile, anti-ex-gay activists such as Wayne Bessen and organizations such as BashBack! are using the American Academy of Pediatrics and APA’s decrees to spread hate. Besen’s hate group called the College an “anti-gay, Christian front group” and demanded they be silenced. Besen and BashBack! routinely disrupt ex-gay meetings in the attempt to intimidate and silence anyone who disagrees with their propaganda.

These groups, as well as the APA, are guilty of the very same offense they accuse the College of committing – denying the evidence. Instead, they label ex-gays, therapists, and ministries that support youth with unwanted SSA as “dangerous” and “harmful.” In fact, a 2009 report issued by the APA on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) once again ignored a mountain of research demonstrating the efficacy of SOCE, while providing only anecdotal evidence of harm: this report was both biased and unscientific.

Rather than engage in civil debate and promote true tolerance and diversity of opinion, anti-ex-gay groups engage in smear campaigns to discredit all those who disagree with their narrow-minded worldview. If that doesn’t work, they use their professional associations as pulpits to bully any divergence of opinion or research that counters their agenda.

On April 16, militant activists will spread misinformation through the main stream media, medical and mental health communities while instructing students to voluntarily remain mute. However, those who dare to speak up and present an alternative view point; one that is based on science, while be forced to remain silent.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


17 April, 2010

Australia: Duped dads win back child payments

Sadly, Australia seems to be one of the few jurisdictions that allows such basic justice

MEN are using a new law to win back hundreds of thousands of dollars paid in child support for children they later discovered were not theirs.

New figures obtained by The Australian reveal that since January 2007, 48 men have won back a total of $434,378.64 paid through the Child Support Agency. The men used DNA testing to prove they were not the biological fathers of children they had been supporting. One man got back more than $70,000 by proving children were not his. But among the 48 orders, the sums to be repaid by mothers ranged down to less than $20.

Section 143 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act, requires the Family Court to consider issuing orders for repayment where paternity is successfully challenged and child support has been paid.

Child Support Agency deputy secretary Philippa Godwin said the agency had received no complaints about the process, but women's groups are outraged by the numbers. "Where parentage has been satisfied for child support purposes, but a parent believes they are not a parent of a child, they can apply to a court for a declaration that a child support assessment cannot be made against them for that child," Ms Godwin said.

"As part of determining this application, the court can order a DNA test to determine paternity of the child. The results of the test will be considered by the court in deciding whether to make the declaration." Hundreds of tests have proved that an aggrieved man is, in fact, the biological father of the child in question.

Sole Parents Union president Kathleen Swinbourne said the new laws were hurting children at the centre of DNA disputes. "What does this say to children about being wanted, being loved, being parented? What does this do to children whose fathers turn around and say, `I'm not your daddy anymore, I don't want you'," she said. [More to the point, what does it say about lying and deceitful women?]

"The effect of this on children must be devastating. And that's to say nothing about the financial circumstances mothers find themselves in in trying to continue to support their children while trying to pay back child support."

Ms Swinbourne said she did not accept the argument that men should be entitled to change their role in children's lives based on biology. "If you've raised these children and parented them, you can't turn around later and change your mind. It doesn't matter what the DNA says." [And it doesn't matter if women lie and cheat? It's the woman who has caused any harm to the child by her lies]

Men's Rights Agency director Sue Price said it was about time that men who had been duped by former partners were able to remedy the situation. "I think it's a good thing that children are able to know the biological father rather than their pretend father," she said. "I think it's essential that they should be able to have the money repaid to them. Why should they have to pay for another man's child?"


Israel-hating Jew barred from grandson’s bar mitzvah

Good to hear

In the face of intense pressure, South African judge Richard Goldstone has agreed not to attend his grandson’s bar mitzvah.

Following negotiations between the South African Zionist Federation and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in Sandton, an affluent suburb of Johannesburg where the event is to take place, an agreement was reached with the family that will keep Goldstone from attending the synagogue service early next month.

Goldstone was the head of a United Nations-appointed commission that investigated the Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09. The commission's final report accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Some of the participants in the negotiations were tight lipped about the decision when contacted by JTA, with Avrom Krengel, chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, saying that “We understand that there’s a bar mitzvah boy involved – we’re very sensitive to the issues and at this stage there’s nothing further to say.”

Jewish groups, including the South African Zionist Federation, had planned to organize a protest outside the synagogue if Goldstone was in attendance, according to reports.

Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag, who heads the South African Beth Din, or religious court, said he was not involved in the negotiations, but he lauded the outcome. "People have got feelings about it, they believe he put Israel in danger and they wouldn’t like him to be getting honor," he said.


Feminists believe in abortion for convenience

When conservatives point out that liberals believe in killing children for convenience sake, what do liberals usually say? Typically, it's some variation of, "Why, nobody wants more abortions. We just believe that abortions should be safe, legal, and rare!" Of course, then they follow that up by trying to make sure that as many children are aborted as humanly possible.

For example, take a look at this anti-abortion ad from Abortion Changes You:

This is not exactly a hardcore ad. There's no tiny little hand sticking out of a dumpster at the back of Planned Parenthood. There's no call to overturn Roe v. Wade. It just essentially says, "Hey, this is a big decision and if you have an abortion, you may genuinely regret it." Is that even a controversial sentiment? You'd think that even thoughtful advocates of abortion, you know, the sort who claim to want abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare," wouldn't have a problem with this ad.

Of course, back in the real world, pro-abortion advocates hate this ad campaign with the burning heat of a thousand suns. Why? Well, it shatters the illusion that an abortion is just another medical procedure, like having a wart removed, and therefore, it might convince a woman NOT to have an abortion.

That brings us to Feministing and their reaction ("Love. It.") to a "pro-choice hero" who saw this ad and "wasn't having it".

In other words, having a baby might be inconvenient, so kill it. I rest my case.


Man hanged himself as lazy British police failed to inform him case was dropped

Even a simple phone call was too much bother for these politicized goons, apparently

A man who was falsely accused of sexual assault hanged himself after police failed to tell him they had dropped the case, an inquest heard.

John Keogh, 23, was "very upset and angry" after a woman claimed he had indecently assaulted her. An investigation was launched but police decided to drop the case and withdraw all charges after interviewing him.

However, they did not plan to tell Mr Keogh until four days later - and he hanged himself with a pair of shoelaces before they broke the good news. His family believe he would not have killed himself if police had told him that he was no longer a suspect.

A jury inquest held into his death in Trowbridge, Wilts., returned a narrative verdict in which the chair juror described the delay as a "contributing factor". He said: "He took his life by hanging, however, we feel that a failure to recognise the risk of this happening to him, particularly subsequent to the police interview may have been a contributing factor."

Speaking after the inquest John's brother Christopher, 34, from Trowbridge, Wilts., said the police had been "negligent".

He said: "There was a lot of crying down the phone about what had been allegedly done. He was crying that he didn't do anything. He was very angry. "There should have been more communication between the police and mental health partnership. "The system just failed him. They were negligent. If John had been told the allegations had been dropped I don't think we would be here today. "I feel there was a total lack of communication. I hope some recommendations come along so that this type of thing doesn't happen again. "

Mr Keogh was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia aged 18 but lived alone in a flat in Trowbridge, Wilts., and had ambitions to become a landscape gardener. However, he was moved to Fountain Way Mental Health Hospital in Salisbury, Wilts., in late June 2008 after being accused of sexual assault.

He allegedly assaulted a female patient at Green Lane Hospital in Devizes, Wilts., on June 9 2008 but the attack was not reported until June 16. Wiltshire Police interviewed John on July 1 and decided to drop the case against him on July 4. Officers immediately informed the complainant but did not plan to tell Mr Keogh until July 7.

However, he was found hanged at 3.40am on July 7 in the en-suite bathroom of his bedroom at the Fountain Way Mental Health Hospital.

Former Wiltshire Police investigator Christopher Bazire, who dealt with the case, told the inquest he would have informed Mr Keogh sooner had he known about the extent of his fragile mental state.

Wiltshire Coroner David Ridley told the inquest he will be writing a report criticising the lack of communication between police and hospital workers.

A spokesman for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) said they will "consider and reflect" upon his concerns. He said: "While disappointed at the inquest's findings, we will reflect upon the coroner's letter on receipt and will respond to him accordingly. "We will continue to support John's mother. We offer his family and friends our sincere condolences."

Under the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime victims have the right to be told when a case is dropped but there is no such legislation for informing suspects.

Detective Superintendent Sarah Bodell, head of Wiltshire Police's public protection department, pledged to review this system. She said: "We recognise that there is no national policy about informing suspects but there is for keeping victims up to date. This is something we have already chosen to review."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


16 April, 2010

Girls are naturally drawn to dolls as soon as they can crawl

Baby girls make a beeline for dolls as soon as they can crawl - and boys will head for the toy cars, a study has shown. With no prompting, they will choose the stereotypical toys for their gender.

The findings - the first to show consistent differences in very young babies - suggest there is a biological basis to their preferences.

This indicates that 'politically correct' efforts to steer children towards things they wouldn't normally play with are doomed to failure.

Psychologists Dr Brenda Todd and Sara Amalie O'Toole Thommessen from City University London carried out an experiment involving 90 infants aged nine months to 36 months. The babies were allowed to choose from seven toys. Some were stereotypically boys' toys - a car, a digger, a ball and a blue teddy.

The rest were stereotypically girl toys: a pink teddy, a doll and a cooking set. The infants were placed a metre away from the toys, and could pick which ever they pleased. Their choice, and the amount of time they spent playing with each toy was recorded.

Of the youngest children (nine to 14 months), girls spent significantly longer playing with the doll than boys, and boys spent much more time with the car and ball than the girls did.

Among the two and three-year-olds, girls spent 50 per cent of the time playing with the doll while only two boys briefly touched it. The boys spent almost 90 per cent of their time playing with cars, which the girls barely touched.

There was no link between the parents' views on which toys were more appropriate for boys or girls, and the children's choices.

The researchers presented their study yesterday at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in Stratford on Avon. Dr Brenda Todd said: 'Children of this age are already subject to a great deal of socialisation. Boys may be given "toys that go" while girls get toys they can nurture which may help shape their preferences. But these findings are consistent with the idea of an intrinsic bias in children to show interest in particular kinds of toys.

'There could be a biological basis for their choices. Males through evolution have been adapted to prefer moving objects, probably through hunting instincts, while girls prefer warmer colours such as pink, the colour of a newborn baby.'


British science writer wins bitter libel battle -- but at a huge cost

"Chilling effect", anyone?

The science writer Simon Singh stands to lose £60,000 in legal costs despite winning a case against chiropractors who sued him for libel over his criticism of their medical claims.

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) dropped its action against the journalist yesterday after a Court of Appeal ruling two weeks ago found that Dr Singh’s “honest opinion” was entitled to a fair comment defence. The judgment noted that: “Scientific controversies must be settled by the methods of science rather than by the methods of litigation.”

The BCA had sued Dr Singh for libel over a newspaper article in which he alleged that the organisation promoted “bogus treatments”, such as chiropractic for childhood asthma and colic, that were not supported by evidence.

Although Dr Singh’s lawyers will pursue the BCA for costs, he is likely to recover only 70 per cent of the £200,000 he has spent on defending himself.

Dr Singh said that the bill he faced, even after being vindicated, highlighted the “chilling effect” of English libel law on freedom of expression. “My bill for a clear victory could be £60,000,” he said. “That explains why people don’t fight libel cases: even if you win, you lose. My victory does not mean that our libel laws are OK, because I won despite the libel laws.

“English libel law is so intimidating, so expensive, so hostile to serious journalists that it has a chilling effect on all areas of debate, silencing scientists, journalists, bloggers, human rights activists and everyone else who dares to tackle serious matters of public interest.”

His solicitor, Robert Dougans, of Bryan Cave LLP, said: “In the game of libel, even winning is costly and stressful. Until we have a proper public interest defence, scientists and writers are going to have to carry on making the unenviable choice of either shying away from hard-hitting debate, or paying through the nose for the privilege of defending it.”

The Court of Appeal reversed a ruling by the High Court last May that Dr Singh’s comments were factual assertions rather than expressions of opinion, which meant that he could not use the defence of fair comment.

In a statement the BCA said: “The decision provides Dr Singh with a defence such that the BCA has taken the view that it should withdraw to avoid further legal costs being incurred by either side.”

Mr Dougans said that the Court of Appeal judgment would help other scientists and science writers to defend libel actions, such as Peter Wilmshurst, a cardiologist who is being sued for raising concerns about research into a heart device. It will not now be reviewed by the Supreme Court. “It is going to become increasingly difficult to sue over public debate of scientific issues,” he said. “Dr Wilmshurst is going to have a cast-iron defence now.”

Mr Dougans noted, however, that defendants rarely recovered more than 70 per cent of their costs even when libel actions were dropped.

Dr Singh could also incur further costs if the BCA does not have the funds to reimburse him. Had he lost the case at trial, he could have been liable for costs of both sides of up to £1 million. He said that he had spent 45 full weeks working on the case over the past two years, adding: “That is essentially a year’s worth of work and earnings.”

He said that he felt a huge relief. “Fortunately the case has ended when my son Hari is only three weeks old, so I can now relax and enjoy being a father.

“The good news is that all three main parties this week committed to a libel reform Bill in the next Parliament. But libel reform has to be radical. Cutting costs by a half means that a trial will not cost £1 million but cost £500,000, but this is still extortionate. Costs need to be cut by a factor of 10 at least.”

He added: “The Court of Appeal judgment says that when a science journalist is sued for libel for criticising evidence, the defence of fair comment should be the default position. But that doesn’t stop libel tourism, or huge companies suing individual scientists, journalists or bloggers to silence them.”


Lord Carey warns of ‘unrest’ if judges continue with ‘dangerous’ rulings

Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, warned today of future “civil unrest” if judges continue with “disturbing” and “dangerous” rulings in religious discrimination cases.

He intervened in a case being brought by a Bristol solicitor and relationship counsellor who wants a special panel of five senior judges to hear his appeal against being sacked for refusing to counsel homosexual couples.

Lord Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, attacked the courts over a series of “disturbing” judgments and accused judges of being responsible for some “dangerous” reasoning which could, if taken to extremes, lead to Christians being banned from the workplace.

“Recent decisions of the courts have illuminated insensitivity to the interests and needs of the Christian community and represent disturbing judgments,” he said in a witness statement.

Lord Carey said it was “but a short step from the dismissal of a sincere Christian from employment to a “religious bar” to any employment by Christians.”

Lord Carey, who said he had the support of several other Anglican bishops and other leading churchmen, also attacked recent decisions by the Court of Appeal on the right of Christians to wear crosses in the workplace. These displayed a “worrying lack of awarness of Christian religious and cultural manifestations, he said.

“This type of ‘reasoning’ is dangerous to the social order and represents clear animus to Christian beliefs. The fact that senior clerics of the Church of England and other faiths feel compelled to intervene directly in judicial decisions and cases is illuminative of a future civil unrest.

“The effect of these decisions is to undermine the religious liberties that have existed in the United Kingdom for centuries. If there is to be a limitation of Christian liberties in Britain, this should be a matter for Parliament.”

His intervention came in an appeal being brought by Gary McFarlane, a member of a Pentecostal church, who says he will have no chance of a fair hearing if his case is conducted by judges who have already made rulings that show “a lack of understanding of Christian beliefs.”

He and other Christians say they are specifically concerned by a ruling of Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls, and other appeal judges that a registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships because they were against her Christian beliefs could no longer carry on in her job.

Mr McFarlane, 48, is challenging an employment tribunal ruling that supported his sacking for refusing to give psychosexual counsellling to homosexual couples.

His counsel, Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister, said that Mr McFarlane wants a special panel of five judges “under the direction of the Lord Chief Justice” so as to have a chance of “fair” ruling. Judges who have already shown a “lack of understanding of Christian beliefs” should stand down, he said.

With Lord Carey’s backing he also wants a permanent panel of judges to be established, with a “proven sensitivity and understanding of religious issues.”

Mr Diamond today told Lord Justice Laws, a senior Court of Appeal judge, that the case was a “seminal” one, “not just for the law but for the direction of the United Kingdon, and whether we are going to be a secular state or neutral state holding the ring between competing values. It was not for the courts to set themselves up as “ominicompetent lawmakers” but to hold the balance between competing rights, he added.

Mr McFarlane and other Christians are specifically concerned by a ruling of Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, and other appeal judges, that Lillian Ladele, a registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships ceremonies – because they were against her Christian beliefs – could no longer work as a registrar.

They claim that the effect of the ruling in December now means that the right to express the Christian faith must take second place to the rights of homosexuals under Labour’s equality laws.

The ruling about the registrar, Lillian Ladele, “does not justice to freedom of religion issues and to millions of belivers in this country and worldwide,” Mr Diamond said. “You can understand why religious leaders found that judgment unacceptable, demeaning and insulting.”

The Christian Legal Centre which is backing Mr McFarlane’s case is also running the case of Theresa Davies, a professional colleague of Lillian Ladele, the registrar who also felt unable to officiate over same sex civil partnerships as a matter of conscience.

One was Shirley Chaplin, 55, a nurse living near Exeter who had worn the cross every day for 38 years, and who recently lost her case.

She said: “I have just lost my case in the Employment Tribunal. It was held that I had not been discriminated against, even though I was not allowed to wear my cross whilst other colleagues were allowed to wear their religious symbols. I hope that the judges make it clear that Christians are to be protected from discrimination, just like anybody else.”

The Master of the Rolls is the second most senior judge in England and Wales, after the Lord Chief Justice. The Master of the Rolls, a position which dates back to the 13th century, is the presiding officer of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal.

Lord Carey said that that in a world of conflicting rights, both need to be considered and accommodated. It is therefore not acceptable that the Christian view is considered “discriminatory” by the courts, with Christians likened to “bigots”.

Lord Justice Laws reserved his decision at the end of the hour-long hearing and said he would give his reasons in writing later.

Mr McFarlane, a father of two who was in court, said that the case was a crucial one for the future and would determine “the way society is going in terms of secularisation.”


A dangerous silence

by Ed Koch

I weep as I witness outrageous verbal attacks on Israel. What makes these verbal assaults and distortions all the more painful is that they are being orchestrated by President Obama.

For me, the situation today recalls what occurred in 70 AD when the Roman emperor Vespasian launched a military campaign against the Jewish nation and its ancient capital of Jerusalem. Ultimately, Masada, a rock plateau in the Judean desert became the last refuge of the Jewish people against the Roman onslaught. I have been to Jerusalem and Masada. From the top of Masada, you can still see the remains of the Roman fortifications and garrisons, and the stones and earth of the Roman siege ramp that was used to reach Masada. The Jews of Masada committed suicide rather than let themselves be taken captive by the Romans.

In Rome itself, I have seen the Arch of Titus with the sculpture showing enslaved Jews and the treasures of the Jewish Temple of Solomon with the Menorah, the symbol of the Jewish state, being carted away as booty during the sacking of Jerusalem.

Oh, you may say, that is a far fetched analogy. Please hear me out.

The most recent sacking of the old city of Jerusalem - its Jewish quarter - took place under the Jordanians in 1948 in the first war between the Jews and the Arabs, with at least five Muslim states - Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq - seeking to destroy the Jewish state. At that time, Jordan conquered East Jerusalem and the West Bank and expelled every Jew living in the Jewish quarter of the old city, destroying every building, including the synagogues in the old quarter and expelling from every part of Judea and Samaria every Jew living there so that for the first time in thousands of years, the old walled city of Jerusalem and the adjacent West Bank were "Judenrein" -- a term used by the Nazis to indicate the forced removal or murder of all Jews..

Jews had lived for centuries in Hebron, the city where Abraham, the first Jew, pitched his tent and where he now lies buried, it is believed, in a tomb with his wife, Sarah, as well as other ancient Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs. I have visited that tomb and at the time asked an Israeli soldier guarding it - so that it was open to all pilgrims, Christians, Muslims and Jews -- "where is the seventh step leading to the tomb of Abraham and Sarah," which was the furthest entry for Jews when the Muslims were the authority controlling the holy place? He replied, "When we retook and reunited the whole city of Jerusalem and conquered the West Bank in 1967, we removed the steps, so now everyone can enter," whereas when Muslims were in charge of the tomb, no Jew could enter it. And I did.

I am not a religious person. I am comfortable in a synagogue, but generally attend only twice a year, on the high holidays. When I entered the tomb of Abraham and Sarah, as I recall, I felt connected with my past and the traditions of my people. One is a Jew first by birth and then by religion. Those who leave their religion, remain Jews forever by virtue of their birth. If they don't think so, let them ask their neighbors, who will remind them. I recall the words of the columnist Robert Novak, who was for most of his life hostile to the Jewish state of Israel in an interview with a reporter stating that while he had converted to Catholicism, he was still a cultural Jew. I remain with pride a Jew both by religion and culture.

My support for the Jewish state has been long and steadfast. Never have I thought that I would leave the U.S. to go and live in Israel. My loyalty and love is first to the U.S. which has given me, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, so much. But, I have also long been cognizant of the fact that every night when I went to sleep in peace and safety, there were Jewish communities around the world in danger. And there was one country, Israel, that would give them sanctuary and would send its soldiers to fight for them and deliver them from evil, as Israel did at Entebbe in 1976.

I weep today because my president, Barack Obama, in a few weeks has changed the relationship between the U.S. and Israel from that of closest of allies to one in which there is an absence of trust on both sides. The contrast between how the president and his administration deals with Israel and how it has decided to deal with the Karzai administration in Afghanistan is striking.

The Karzai administration, which operates a corrupt and opium-producing state, refuses to change its corrupt ways - the president's own brother is believed by many to run the drug traffic taking place in Afghanistan - and shows the utmost contempt for the U.S. is being hailed by the Obama administration as an ally and publicly treated with dignity. Karzai recently even threatened to join the Taliban if we don't stop making demands on him. Nevertheless, Karzai is receiving a gracious thank-you letter from President Obama. The New York Times of April 10th reported, "...that Mr. Obama had sent Mr. Karzai a thank-you note expressing gratitude to the Afghan leader for dinner in Kabul. ŒIt was a respectful letter,' General Jones said."

On the other hand, our closest ally - the one with the special relationship with the U.S., has been demeaned and slandered, held responsible by the administration for our problems in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The plan I suspect is to so weaken the resolve of the Jewish state and its leaders that it will be much easier to impose on Israel an American plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leaving Israel's needs for security and defensible borders in the lurch.

I believe President Obama's policy is to create a whole new relationship with the Arab states of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, and Iraq as a counter to Iran - The Tyrannosaurus Rex of the Muslim world which we are now prepared to see in possession of a nuclear weapon. If throwing Israel under the bus is needed to accomplish this alliance, so be it.

I am shocked by the lack of outrage on the part of Israel's most ardent supporters. The members of AIPAC, the chief pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington, gave Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a standing ovation after she had carried out the instructions of President Obama and, in a 43-minute telephone call, angrily hectored Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Members of Congress in both the House and Senate have made pitifully weak statements against Obama's mistreatment of Israel, if they made any at all. The Democratic members, in particular, are weak. They are simply afraid to criticize President Obama.

What bothers me most of all is the shameful silence and lack of action by community leaders - Jew and Christian. Where are they? If this were a civil rights matter, the Jews would be in the mall in Washington protesting with and on behalf of our fellow American citizens. I asked one prominent Jewish leader why no one is preparing a march on Washington similar to the one in 1963 at which I was present and Martin Luther King's memorable speech was given? His reply was "Fifty people might come." Remember the 1930s? Few stood up. They were silent. Remember the most insightful statement of one of our greatest teachers, Rabbi Hillel: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?"

We have indeed stood up for everyone else. When will we stand up for our brothers and sisters living in the Jewish state of Israel?

If Obama is seeking to build a siege ramp around Israel, the Jews of modern Israel will not commit suicide. They are willing to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians, but they will not allow themselves to be bullied into following self-destructive policies.

To those who call me an alarmist, I reply that I'll be happy to apologize if I am proven wrong. But those who stand silently by and watch the Obama administration abandon Israel, to whom will they apologize?



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


15 April, 2010

Minimum Wage Cruelty

Which allows an American Samoan worker to have a higher standard of living: being employed at $3.26 per hour or unemployed at a wage scheduled to annually increase by 50 cents until it reaches federally mandated wages at $7.25? You say, "Williams, that's a stupid question. Who would support people being unemployed at $7.25 an hour over being employed at $3.26 an hour?" That's precisely the outcome of Congress' 2007 increases in the minimum wage. Chicken of the Sea International moved its operation from Samoa to a highly automated cannery plant in Lyon, Georgia. That resulted in roughly 2,000 jobs lost in Samoa and a gain of 200 jobs in Georgia.

Given Samoa's low cost of living, $3.26 provided Samoan workers a higher standard of living than some of their neighbors on other islands. Now these workers are unemployed. What's worse is that Starkist, Chicken of the Sea's competitor, might leave the island as well. If that happens, increases in the minimum wage will have cost more than 8,000 jobs in Samoa's canneries and related industries; that's nearly half of its labor force. Samoan standard of living will be further reduced by the increased cost of goods it imports. Ships delivering goods from the U.S. and elsewhere to Samoa will not have as much cargo on their return trips, making shipping a costlier proposition.

Cannery jobs flourished in Samoa because of its location and it was one of the few American territories exempted from the minimum wage. Even the proposed 2007 increases in the minimum wage exempted Samoa. Since Del Monte, Starkist's parent company, is headquartered in Speaker Pelosi's San Francisco district and Chicken of the Sea is based in Southern California, Republicans had a field day suggesting that Pelosi's calling for Samoa to be exempted from the increases in the minimum wage reflected political payoffs and a conflict of interest. I thought that as well, as suggested in my May 9, 2007 column, but exempting American Samoa from minimum wage increases would have been the most compassionate act, short of minimum wage repeal.

The unemployment effect of minimum wages isn't restricted to American Samoa but to the mainland U.S. as well. Overall teenage unemployment stands at a record 25 percent while adult unemployment hovers around 10 percent. Also at a record high is the 50 percent unemployment rate among black teenage males.

One might ask why teen unemployment, particularly that among black teens, is so much higher than adult unemployment. The answer is simple. One effect of a minimum wage law is that of discrimination against the employment of less-preferred workers. Within the category of less-preferred workers are those with low skills. Teens are disproportionately represented among such workers and are therefore more adversely affected by minimum wages. Black teens are disproportionately represented among teens with low skills and therefore share a greater burden of minimum wages.

One of the more insidious effects of minimum wages is that it lowers the cost of racial discrimination; in fact, minimum wage laws are one of the most effective tools in the arsenals of racists everywhere, as demonstrated by just a couple of examples.

During South Africa's apartheid era, its racist unions were the major supporters of minimum wages for blacks. South Africa's Wage Board said, "The method would be to fix a minimum rate for an occupation or craft so high that no Native would likely be employed."

In the U.S., in the aftermath of a strike by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, when the arbitration board decreed that blacks and whites were to be paid equal wages, the white unionists expressed their delight saying, "If this course of action is followed by the company and the incentive for employing the Negro thus removed, the strike will not have been in vain."

Tragically, minimum wages have the unquestioned support of good-hearted, well-meaning people with little understanding who become the useful idiots of charlatans, quacks and racists.


Distortions about markets from a Leftist ignoramus

By Greg Lindsay, writing from Australia

In the introduction to the 1982 publication The New Conservatism in Australia edited by Robert Manne, the editor admits ‘to having no competence in economics whatsoever’. That has not stopped him from inserting himself into various debates about economic issues ever since.

His dismal record was highlighted in the book Shutdown from 1992 that he co-edited, which declared that economic reform had failed in Australia and that ‘the most important contemporary example of economic success is Japan’, and, well you can guess the rest.

The fact that Australia is now the strongest OECD economy and on the various scales of economic freedom, quality of life and prosperity, pretty much leads the way, seems to have escaped this academic Nostradamus. Sure, there is room for improvement and our modern democracy exhibits the usual tussles over how this might be done, but no serious observer challenges the moral and economic power of the market.

Well, I’m mostly right. An outbreak of less serious commentary began with the setting up of a straw man some years back called 'neo-liberalism'. It’s a term that started to appear in its latest manifestation in Australia more than a decade ago. We at CIS decided that it was essentially being used as a term of abuse and we would not succumb to the intentions of its promoters. We couldn’t quite work out what it really meant anyway.

In the lead up to the 2007 election, then opposition leader Kevin Rudd added his five cents worth and, with some other essays since then,’ neo-liberalism’ and ‘market fundamentalism’ marched hand in hand. ‘Economic conservatism’ seems to have been trampled in the parade. My colleague Oliver Hartwich tried his best to clarify the issue and in fact showed that the now Prime Minister was in fact a 'neo-liberal' (see here).

Of course the Global Financial Crisis gave neo-socialists of all kinds a whole new field to play on, and so they have. Professor Manne, highlighting his lack of expertise in economics once again, is back in print, this time in The Weekend Australian recently with an extract of a chapter in a new book he has edited with David McKnight. What’s regrettable about this piece is the tone Manne’s chapter exhibits.

We at the CIS admire greatly the work of F.A. Hayek. That’s no great surprise. Indeed there’s a long list of thinkers we admire stretching right back to the founding decades of the Enlightenment. The ideas of such people have taught us much and have laid the groundwork for the prosperity and freedom we see today, especially in the West.

In his recent essay, Manne attacked Hayek personally. He held Hayek responsible for everything from the collapse of the derivatives market to some colourful rhetoric of Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. It probably needs the analytical skills of an historian to make sense of all this.

Manne’s tasteless remarks about Hayek and his philosophy of liberty, however, show to some extent what liberals are up against these days. The financial crisis is eagerly interpreted by the opponents of liberty as ‘evidence’ that free markets don’t work. The troubles in financial markets serve them as a new justification for more government control, whether it is in US health care or Australia’s new broadband network.

The mistake Manne and his neo-socialist friends are making is twofold. First, they are ignoring the role that state institutions like government-owned enterprises, regulatory regimes and central banks played in the build-up of the crisis. Governments failed at least as much as markets may have.

Second, liberals have never argued that their philosophy would create heaven on earth. With free markets it’s a little bit like with democracy, to paraphrase Winston Churchill’s famous dictum: They are the worst form to coordinate human activity bar all others. Markets can be a messy business with ups and downs. Yet given the right institutions, they generally work rather well.

Markets are not perfect and few economists would argue that they are, but then again nothing on earth is. Even though utopian dreamers may believe in the omnipotence and benevolence of government, history teaches us that such belief has often led to disaster. Or, as Hayek has argued, they lead us down the slippery road to serfdom.

The current neo-liberal straw man is just that, a straw man, and should be given no credence. Markets are not going away. Yes, some institutions in some countries may have been inadequate and can be improved. Many might learn from Australia in that regard and I hope they do. And that of course is not to say that institutional arrangements here are beyond consideration for improvement to the benefit of all.

Just one last word on Hayek. One of his lasting legacies was the founding in 1947 of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international organisation of economists, political scientists and others interested in furthering the ideals of a free society. It has had in its membership some of the world’s foremost intellectuals, including eight Nobel Laureates in economics, Hayek himself being one. Details can be found here. Its 2010 General Meeting is being held in Sydney in October, only the second time a General Meeting has been held in the southern hemisphere.

The MPS conference will bring to Australia some of the world’s leading scholars of liberty and will be a symbolic and cogent reminder to those who still forget so many lessons from history.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 13 April. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Get real, ladies! Don't expect to find a man earning £100,000 who can cut down trees AND cook, says British lady who should know

Her tales of middle-class romantic yearning have earned her a multi-million-pound fortune and legions of fans. But Joanna Trollope has now claimed women have 'absurd' expectations when it comes to finding a husband.

The Cotswolds-born novelist, 66, says the growing number of women shunning marriage often have a misguided belief they will find the perfect man.

She has also criticised adulterous role models such as love rat footballer John Terry - who cheated on his wife with a team-mate's girlfriend - for promoting a 'babyish' attitude among men.

Joanna Trollope has had a turbulent love life herself, marrying and divorcing twice. She first wed at 22 to City banker David Potter, who she met at Oxford University. The couple went on to have two daughters, Louise, now 36, and Antonia, 33.

They split after 18 years when it emerged that he'd had a string of affairs. She also blamed her ambitious personality, saying: 'The sharp, high-achieving side is there and maybe it ranges from being merely irritating to downright intolerable.'

She met her second husband, television dramatist Ian Curteis, at a dinner party in 1983 and they wed 1985. She blamed her career for the breakdown of the marriage 15 years later, saying: 'It was when I was becoming more successful that our marriage began to go badly wrong.'

Twice-married Miss Trollope, who has made more than £15million from her 16 novels, insisted: 'People have to throw away this absurd Vera Wang shopping list which says of a man that he has to earn £100,000 a year, that he has to be able to cut down a tree, play the Spanish guitar, make love all night and cook me a cheese souffle.

'This is a ridiculously impossible wish list. You can change yourself and you can change the situation but you absolutely cannot change other people. Only they can do that. 'Do not go into a relationship trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. 'Be less adamant, more compromising, less whiney and princessy about it from a girl's point of view and less brutal about it from a boy's point of view.'

Vera Wang is a top wedding dress designer based in New York, whose work is worn by the rich and famous.

Referring to the latest onslaught of allegations surrounding British footballers who cheat, Miss Trollope said: 'We need modern young men to be more grown up. 'We're tired of the incontinence of the John Terrys of this world. It's babyish to behave in this stupid way.'

Miss Trollope's thoughts on women, made in a newspaper interview, echo those of MP David Willetts, who infamously claimed that the collapse of the family was being driven by a 'Bridget Jones generation' of well-educated young women who cannot find a suitable match.

In 2008, Mr Willetts said that for the first time, more women than men were gaining degrees - meaning that many were struggling to find a partner with an academic background and career prospects similar to their own.

Miss Trollope has always been outspoken on relationships. Last month, the writer, who is a grandmother, described turning 60 as 'liberating' because 'there's a cookie- cutter for each decade, but everybody loses interest when you're 60 so there's a blank sheet and you can be whoever you want to be'.

She added: 'Post menopause all sorts of relationships are quite different, and sex is too, because you're not going to get pregnant. 'There is no need to be that sort of cliché of a girl surrendering to a man and wanting to say "do you love and respect me?".'

And when asked if she would get married again, she laughed: 'No. No, no, no. I don't need to. Not as a grandmother. 'I don't want anybody saying to me, "Why are you going to see your children again this weekend, why aren't you going to be with me?" '


How the West was lost: a lack of faith in civilisation

Comment from Australia

There is a growing belief among Australia's most formidable conservative thinkers that the foundations of Western civilisation in this country are being eroded. As a consequence, the grounding that Western civilisation has given everyday society - especially the behavioural and moral influences of Christianity - is disappearing and needs to be reaffirmed.

Such views are not new; they have been espoused from time to time. Now, however, the viewpoint has become organised and it has some serious firepower behind it.

Just over a fortnight ago 84 prominent Australians gathered for a dinner at Stonington Mansion in Melbourne - the home of the art dealer Rod Menzies - to launch a program to "confront these disturbing trends".

The Foundations of Western Civilisation Program had John Howard and Cardinal George Pell as guest speakers. Geoffrey Blainey gave the vote of thanks and the columnist Andrew Bolt was the MC.

The program's chairman is former Liberal minister, Rod Kemp, and the event was organised by the conservative think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The event was over-subscribed and more than 50 had to be turned away. Those there included Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, as well as such corporate luminaries as Hugh Morgan, Donald McGauchie, Rick Allert, Steve Skala and Brian Loton.

"Sometimes Western civilisation is treated with outright hostility," read the invitation letter. "Cultural relativism has led to our education system often undervaluing the achievements of Western civilisation. "The rise of the nanny state is undermining our freedoms of association, of speech, of liberal democracy."

John Roskam, from the institute, said the evening tapped into a debate about values, where they come from and what they are grounded in - Western civilisation. "It's rounder than the concept of a threat, it's under challenge," he said.

Howard spoke off the cuff. According to those present, he argued that Australia has a secular tradition with no established church. But, while that tradition must be respected, it was his personal belief the Judaeo-Christian ethic has been the most profound moral and cultural influence in this country and it should be preserved. Other religions could be embraced and welcomed without in any way diminishing the Judaeo-Christian influence.

Howard, who never wore his faith on his sleeve, gave examples of where he saw erosion caused by a combination of factors such as post-modernism and people who think the values of Western civilisation are not worth preserving.

He contrasted the 2003 memorial service for victims of the Bali bombings with the memorial service held after the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria last year. Both were secular services with religious components. At the latter, Howard noted, the religious element was downplayed, to the extent the Anglican and Catholic bishops were referred to as leaders of significant community groups.

Howard said he found the bushfire memorial "very hollow". "I feel Australian society is losing something when we don't recognise the important role of religion," he was quoted as saying.

Howard recounted the faith and values youth forums he attended as prime minister and how he was struck by young people openly discussing suicide. It used to be taboo to talk about the taking of one's own life and Howard believes "there are no absolute taboos any more". Ultimately, he saw it as an increasing lack of meaning in young people's lives due to the waning influences of Western civilisation.

Pell went further, saying he felt suicide today was being "celebrated". Faith and values, he said, meant you're living for some reason other than yourself. He lamented that a secular view is legitimate but a religious view should not be heard in a public place, and that it was deemed permissible to speak openly of a green god but not a religious God.

Beyond religion, Julia Gillard's proposed national history curriculum was singled out for a belting, because it supposedly does not place enough emphasis on British and European influences.

Howard cited the recent push for a human rights charter in Australia as a consequence of a lack of understanding of our system of parliamentary democracy and an independent judiciary.

Both he and Pell acknowledged the flaws and blemishes of Western civilisation and the "black spots" these had left in Australian history.

But Pell referred to China, where he said an erosion of values was also occurring as capitalism took hold. "This radically different culture is now searching for the secrets of Western vitality to provide a code for decency and social cohesion compatible with sustainable economic development."

He quoted the Chinese economist Zhao Xiao's "fascinating comparison with the selfism of Western radical secularism". "These days, Chinese people do not believe in anything," Zhao asserted. "A person who believes in nothing can only believe in himself. And self-belief implies anything is possible - what do lies, cheating, harm and swindling matter?"



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


14 April, 2010

Perverted British prosecutors again

"Minorities" can do no wrong. "Not in the public interest" to prosecute them, even for gross crimes

A gang of boys who molested a girl of 14 have escaped prosecution because it is 'not in the public interest'. The eight, aged from eight to 12, sexually assaulted the teenager as she walked to a friend's house during the day.

For five minutes they 'mauled her like animals', before she escaped. A 14-year-old girl, pictured with her mother, is outraged after the CPS decided not to pursue charges against her alleged attackers

A 14-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and her mother have told of their outrage after the CPS decided not to pursue charges against her alleged attackers.

Officers arrested the five boys aged over ten - the legal age of responsibility - and recommended charges. But they are said to be furious after the Crown Prosecution Service refused to press charges, saying insufficient evidence meant it was not in the public interest.

It is thought it could prove hard to establish which of the boys, from Slovakian gipsy families, carried out different parts of the attack.

Last night the girl's 34-year-old mother condemned the authorities for failing to protect her daughter. The mother, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: 'These dangerous little thugs are allowed to walk the streets. 'I shudder to think what will happen if they attack another girl. I'm deeply disappointed with the CPS. 'Something has to be done, if only to deter these yobs from ever doing anything so despicable again. But they're going to be smug as hell.'

The girl's ordeal took place as she walked in the Hillfields area of Coventry at midday on January 6.

The boys, from local Romany migrant families who settled in the city in the late 1990s, threw snowballs at her to attract her attention before surrounding her. They then touched her 'all over', telling her she was pretty and saying they wanted her to be their girlfriend, she said.

West Midlands Police prepared a file for the CPS recommending charges be brought - but prosecutors refused. CPS spokesman Patrick Noonan said: 'The age of the alleged attackers is not a difficulty.

'I have spoken to the prosecutor concerned and they have gone through the evidence in detail and decided it is not in the public interest to prosecute.'

Last night the girl described how she still suffers from nightmares and does not dare leave the house alone. Her family have moved in with relatives at the other side of the city out of fear they will have to face the attackers again.

The 14-year-old, who wants to be a doctor when she is older, broke down as she said: 'I still have nightmares and can hear them laughing and mauling me like animals.'

The CPS decision not to prosecute left her feeling as if she had not been believed, she added. 'I did nothing wrong but still feel like I'm being treated like a liar,' she said. 'After what happened I get scared really easily. 'I can't even go out to meet my mates because I might bump into one of the people who attacked me. 'I'm not really sure how I can move on from this. I'm having to borrow my cousin's dog just to walk around because I don't feel safe.'

West Midlands Police sources said they were 'frustrated' by the decision after the girl 'was brave enough to come forward'. A force spokesman said: 'We've done all we can to try to bring the case forward - there is nothing more we can do.'


Support for Israel increasingly runs on party lines

by Jeff Jacoby

IN THE WAKE of the diplomatic fight that the Obama administration went out of its way to pick with Israel last month, two high-ranking members of the US House of Representatives -- Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Minority Whip Eric Cantor -- invited their colleagues to sign a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter reaffirmed the signers' commitment to the "unbreakable bond" and "extraordinary closeness" that exists between the United States and Israel, and declared that "our valuable bilateral relationship with Israel needs and deserves constant reinforcement."

It expressed dismay at the "highly publicized tensions" between the White House and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and pointedly counseled the administration to resolve its differences with Israel "quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies."

The letter was polite, but there was no mistaking the implicit rebuke of the president for treating Israel so shabbily. Nor, one might think, was there any mistaking its bipartisan appeal: It was signed by 333 members of the US House, more than three-fourths of the entire membership.

The Hoyer-Cantor letter wasn't the only apparent evidence in recent weeks that American friendliness for Israel crosses party lines. At the national conference of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, for example, two of the featured speakers were US Senators Charles Schumer, a staunch Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, an equally staunch Republican.

In a Gallup poll released in February, Israel was one of the five countries most positively viewed by a majority of US citizens: 67 percent expressed a favorable opinion of the Jewish state. And the president's tilt against Israel has been denounced as bluntly by GOP loyalist Liz Cheney ("President Obama is playing a reckless game of . . . diminishing America's ties to Israel") as by lifelong Democrat Ed Koch ("It is unimaginable that the president would treat any of our NATO allies, large or small, in such a degrading fashion.")

Peer a little more closely, however, and the wall of pro-Israel solidarity turns out not to be quite so -- well, solid.

Take that Gallup survey earlier this year, which found that 67 percent of Americans have a favorable view of Israel. The same survey also found that when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 63 percent of the public stands with Israel -- more than quadruple the 15 percent that support the Palestinians. There's not much doubt that the American mainstream is pro-Israel.

But look at the disparity that emerges when those results are sorted by party affiliation. While support for Israel vs. the Palestinians has climbed to a stratospheric 85 percent among Republicans, the comparable figure for Democrats is an anemic 48 percent. (It was 60 percent for independents.) And behind Israel's "Top 5" favorability rating lies a gaping partisan rift: 80 percent of Republicans -- but just 53 percent Democrats -- have positive feelings about the world's only Jewish country.

Similarly, it is true that 333 US House members, a hefty bipartisan majority, endorsed the robustly pro-Israel Hoyer-Cantor letter to Hillary Clinton. But there were only seven Republicans who declined to sign the letter, compared with 91 Democrats -- more than a third of the entire Democratic caucus. (Six Massachusetts Democrats were among the non-signers: John Olver, Richard Neal, John Tierney, Ed Markey, Michael Capuano, and Bill Delahunt.)

From Zogby International comes still more proof of the widening gulf between the major parties on the subject of Israel. In a poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute last month, respondents were asked whether Obama should "steer a middle course" in the Middle East -- code for not clearly supporting Israel. "There is a strong divide on this question," Zogby reported, "with 73% of Democrats agreeing that the President should steer a middle course while only 24% of Republicans hold the same opinion."

Taken as a whole, America's identification with Israel is as stout as ever -- the "special relationship" between the two nations still runs deep. But the old political consensus that brought Republicans and Democrats together in support of the Middle East's only flourishing democracy is breaking down. Republican friendship for Israel has never been more rock-solid. Democratic friendship -- especially now, in the age of Obama -- is growing steadily less so.


Amnesty organization now no friend of liberty

The issue between Amnesty International and Gita Sahgal is not a personnel dispute. It is about the type of organisation that Amnesty has become. Its critics charge that it has diluted its defence of universal human rights by allying with a group that rejects that principle. By its treatment of Ms Sahgal, and its grudging and euphemistic explanation for its behaviour, Amnesty has confirmed that the critics are right.

Amnesty was founded in 1961 to support individual prisoners of conscience. It built a formidable reputation for identifying nonviolent dissenters, writing to them, and collectively nagging the regimes that had locked them up. It did this vital work, of solidarity and lobbying, regardless of politics. Yet Amnesty has ended up collaborating with people who have fundamentally different motivations and values. Moazzam Begg, the British former inmate at Guantánamo Bay, and the organisation Cageprisoners do not promote liberty and pluralism. They defend radical Islam.

Begg left Britain with his family in 2001 to live under the Taleban in Afghanistan – a place of violent suppression of supposedly heretical branches of Islam, as well as the subjugation of women and the quasi-judicial murder of homosexuals. Begg now asserts “the right of people to resist the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan”. An organisation such as Amnesty, which emphasises international legal standards, is apparently unconcerned that Begg is referring to multilateral forces who operate under a UN mandate to support constitutional government.

Ms Sahgal went public with her misgivings about her employer only after repeated expressions of her concern. She found herself summarily suspended, and the breach has now been made formal. Amnesty’s public statements about her case have been reflexively obtuse. In defending its work with Begg, it insists that he “never used a platform he shared with Amnesty to speak against the rights of others” – as if the objection to Begg were about his diplomacy rather than his beliefs.

Amnesty was once so concerned not to compromise its political impartiality that, even during the mass killings by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, in the 1970s, it preferred to lobby governments directly rather than to denounce them. Yet in 2005 it described the US detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay as “the gulag of our times” and was a natural ally for extremists such as Begg.

Someone who has suffered the restriction of liberty does not become thereby the friend of liberty. Disastrously for itself and those who depend on its support, Amnesty is no longer the friend of liberty either.


The Holocaust can happen again, warns top anti-Semitism scholar

The photograph on the jacket cover of Robert Wistrich's new book on anti-Semitism shows two fog-shrouded train tracks that careful observers will recognize as leading to Auschwitz. But for Wistrich, one of the world's leading historians of anti-Semitism, this image is not only a look at the past.

While depicting Auschwitz as the culmination of where extreme Jew-hatred can lead, the photo is also meant to hint at the ubiquitous threat of anti-Semitism - what Wistrich calls a "future of uncertainty." Indeed, the British-Israeli scholar seems to suggest that while the worst is, perhaps, behind us, there may yet be another genocide just around the corner.

"We are in an era once again where the Jews are facing genocidal threats as a people," the author of the recently published "A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad" said during an interview in his Jerusalem office. "We have not been in that situation for quite a while. And maybe this is the first time since the Shoah that [Jews] feel that this is palpable."

Wistrich, who heads Hebrew University's International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, a nonpolitical research center, is referring to the threats against Israel emanating from the Muslim world, especially Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Sixty-four years after Auschwitz, the politics of genocidal anti-Semitism and the indifference that made it possible are still with us," he writes at the end of the book.

Yes, Jews said the same thing after Israel's wars in 1967 and 1973, Wistrich acknowledged. Yet he maintains the current threat is much more serious: There are people who seek the Jews' extinction and aren't shy about their intentions.

"It's not a matter of speculation, are we interpreting it right or wrong - they say it in such a brazen, open way," he said. "It cannot be a mistake."

Wistrich, who is 65 and moved from Britain to Israel in 1980, pays special attention to the first decade of the 21st century. "I think that the graph of anti-Semitism significantly exploded in this period," in terms of the volume and the aggressiveness of anti-Jewish hostility, he said. He said his analysis was based on "a substantial amount of data" he accumulated.

Weeks before a Jewish Agency study made headlines earlier this year for calling 2009 the worst year for anti-Semitism since the end of World War II, Wistrich reached the same conclusion. (However, Wistrich says it was the worst, in terms of both violent and non-violent incidents, only since 1982, which he said was the first year accurate statistics about anti-Semitic incidents became available.)

No joke

In addition to studying statistics, a historian also "has to have a feeling beyond what is quantitatively analyzable," he said. Expressing such "feelings" sometimes make Wistrich sound more like a politician or an activist than a scholar. Indeed, while virtually all reviews of "A Lethal Obsession" praised its attention to detail and richness of sources, some have called it sensationalist. One reviewer wrote that the book reminded him of the famous one-liner: "What's a Jewish telegram? 'Start worrying: Letter follows.'" But this is no joke for Wistrich, who insists there is indeed good cause for concern.

"We're way beyond the monitoring phase," he said. "We have to act, we have to mobilize opinion, we have to enlighten people about the gravity of the threat. The way I see my own contribution here as a scholar is that I have mapped it all out in a way that has never been done before and made the danger crystal-clear. Nothing is determined, there is no fatality about this unless we close our eyes and shut our eyes. And then indeed, the worst scenario could materialize."

"A Lethal Obsession" devotes a substantial chunk of its 1,184 pages to global jihad and contemporary expressions of anti-Semitism. Naturally, however, the Holocaust is another central theme of the monumental work, although only two chapters are exclusively devoted to Nazi Germany.

"Probably in as many as in 20 out of 25 chapters, the shadow of Nazism and its different manifestations and legacies - both in an earlier period and the postwar era - and the central themes and metaphors that belong to Nazi anti-Semitism are continuously evoked," Wistrich explained. "For instance, in the chapters on Muslims and anti-Semitism there are constant parallels, analogies, and also sometimes differences, which are analyzed. The reader is constantly aware [of the Holocaust], in the sense that the cover evokes: There is a menacing cloud, this obscure but rather threatening fog - and of course, we do know it ultimately leads to Auschwitz. But it also may lead into an indefinite and infinite future of uncertainty. That sense of ominous threat is there all the time and it's inextricably linked with what I call genocidal anti-Semitism, of which the overwhelmingly dominant prototype is Nazism."

British xenophobia

For Wistrich, anti-Semitism isn't just a matter of dry theory. Having grown up in England as the son of Polish immigrants, he says he felt "the brunt of British xenophobia." He estimates that roughly 90 percent of the teachers in the grammar school he attended in the late 1950s and early 1960s were classic anti-Semites. "There were two teachers, who, though they fought against Nazi Germany in World War II, were in fact Nazi-like anti-Semites who truly hated the Jewish people," he recalled.

In the mid-'60s, the climate changed in Britain and it became less accepted to display one's anti-Semitism in public, Wistrich said. But an anti-Israel movement arose after the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War, "on a larger scale than people realize today." In 1980, Wistrich left the U.K. and moved to Israel. "I wanted to make my choice a free choice, and not feel like I'm leaving the country because it's too hot," he said. "That wasn't the case in 1980. But I could see enough of what was emerging under the surface."

Wistrich believes his prediction was right. "In Britain, all the taboos that exist in polite society are long gone when it comes to Israel and the Jews," he said, adding that anti-Semitic comments are a daily occurrence, "whether it's at dinner tables, in academia or in the churches." While politicians are less apt than those less in the public eye to publicly display the same kind of animosity, anti-Semitism is widespread even among political leaders, he said. "When I look at anti-Semitism in Britain, I feel it's always been underestimated by people outside the country," said Wistrich. "Having lived with it, I would say it is structurally almost built in to British life and culture."

While the U.K. isn't necessarily the worst country in Europe, Wistrich called it "one where it's become, over a number of years now, an inhospitable climate for any self-respecting Jewish person who feels even the most minimal identification with Israel. And even if they don't, it's becoming an inhospitable and unpleasant environment where you have to constantly justify your identity. Britain is going through one of the most anti-Jewishly tinged periods of its history."

If the statistics are accurate and anti-Semitism is stronger than ever, what can we expect for the future?

"It is almost certainly unrealistic to imagine that we could eradicate anti-Semitism," Wistrich said. Although, there have been periods during which Jew-hatred has seemed to be relatively dormant, he said, "it's always there beneath the surface."

"But we can live with that," said Wistrich. "The Jewish people have always been able to live with that, and there is no reason why everybody has to love the Jews."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


13 April, 2010

Speaking freely about the unspeakable

By Luke Malpass

The performance of a play discussing the British Nationalist Party (BNP) has been banned by the town council of Dudley in the North of England for fear it would offend the local Asian community and appease right-wing sympathisers.

The play, ‘Moonfleece,’ has already been shown in racially diverse areas of Britain without causing riots in the streets. The offence to free speech is made worse by the fact the play – which features a multicultural cast – is hardly a rabble rousing treatment of the subject of race and racism.

In fact, it critically examines the ‘new-look’ BNP (which recently altered its articles to permit non-white members) and exposes the continuing brutality behind right-wing nationalism.

Racism is an unspeakable thing. But it must never become a subject we can’t speak freely about.

Insidious racism must be countered, and one way society critiques itself is through the arts. Movies, songs, and plays constantly explore the themes of diversity and acceptance regardless of race, class, or sex. This is one of the ways people challenge their preconceptions and discover their better selves.

Britain was once renowned as the home of free speech. Banning ‘Moonfleece’ to not offend anyone appears to be mindless hyper-sensitivity. But the fact that the civic fathers and mothers of Dudley thought a serious play about serious subject could not go on stage ‘up north’ has more dire implications.

This suggests the social fabric in these communities might have frayed to breaking point. The irony, therefore, is that a play dealing with the rise of right-wing extremism could not be more timely.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated April 9. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.

Judge in charge of British family courts criticises ‘arrogant social workers’

Good to hear an eminent judge saying what I have so often said

Social workers have been criticised as “arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children from their parents” by the judge who takes charge of the family courts today.

Lord Justice Wall said that the determination of some social workers to place children in an “unsatisfactory care system” away from their families was “quite shocking”.

In a separate case, on which Sir Nicholas Wall also sat, Lord Justice Aikens described the actions of social workers in Devon as “more like Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China than the West of England”.

The criticism of social workers from two of the most senior family court judges came as the number of children placed in care has reached a record high after the Baby Peter tragedy.

Social workers say that they are not prepared to take any chances after the death of the 17-month-old toddler at the hands of his mother, her lover and their lodger in Hackney, East London. He was being monitored by social workers at the time of his death.

The remarks are likely to be seen as a warning to social workers not to take children into care before all other avenues have been exhausted. They may also be seen as a signal to the family courts to challenge more robustly legal orders to take children into care.

Lord Justice Wall made his comments in a highly critical ruling against Greenwich Council, where social workers had taken two children into care and begun adoption proceedings despite their natural mother’s best efforts to change her life. The Greenwich case involved a mother known as “EH”, who is seeking the return of her son “R”, aged 5, and daughter “RA”, aged 2, from care.

The children were taken into care in 2008 after the parents had taken RA, then a baby, to hospital, where her left upper arm was found to be broken. Doctors considered that the injuries were not accidental, social services were informed and both children were removed from their parents that day.

Initially they went to live with their maternal grandmother but were moved into foster care after a dispute between the grandmother and their father. Since June last year the father ceased to have any contact with the children and the mother has attempted to separate from him, alleging domestic violence.

Social workers refused to believe that the relationship was over, while rebuffing the mother’s request for help in ending the relationship. Lord Justice Wall described the conduct of the social workers as “hard to credit”. “Here was a mother who needed and was asking for help to break free from an abusive relationship. She was denied that help abruptly and without explanation. That, in my judgment, is very poor social work practice,” he said.

“What social workers do not appear to understand is that the public perception of their role in care proceedings is not a happy one. They are perceived by many as the arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children from their parents into an unsatisfactory care system, and as trampling on the rights of parents and children in the process. This case will do little to dispel that.” The adoption order has now been set aside after the ruling made last Friday.

In the Devon case, on which Lord Justice Wall also sat, Lord Justice Aikens criticised the actions of social workers in pursuing plans to have a baby adopted without giving his mother a last chance to show that she could look after him. The Devon legal team was given time to read the Greenwich judgment and withdrew their case.

Lord Justice Wall will be sworn in today as the president of the High Court’s Family Division. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, originally challenged his appointment. Lord Justice Wall has been an outspoken critic of some government policies, including the funding of family courts.


"Can we have that conversation?"

“Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international censure—out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East—is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.” -- Thomas Friedman

I open with Thomas Friedman with reason and purpose, as backdrop to that posted recently by our go to Religious Leftist Mike at Waving or Drowning who isn't happy and I apparently had something to do with it:
With the posting* I’ve been doing about our time in the West Bank, I knew it was only a matter of time before it happened. And as you might imagine, I’ve got a few things to say about being labeled an anti-Semite......

This perfect, protected, closed system exists, and to even suggest the existence of the system itself is to be labeled an anti-Semite. We all know the saying about absolute power, and so it seems to me we're not doing anyone a favour by granting a group absolute power without any accountability. The unspeakable injustices Jews suffered during the Holocaust make a moral demand on those who stood idly by as it happened, but it does not demand that we turn a blind eye when injustices are perpetrated against Palestinians. The greatest way to respond to the injustices done against Jews is to stand against injustices committed against anyone, anywhere....

As I've already stated I am very sympathetic to how the haunting memory of the Holocaust has become imprinted in the identity of Jews everywhere. I don't expect that to change. What I am hoping to accomplish here is simply to reopen the issue of blind support for Israel from the western church. If we believe that God is a God of justice, then we must be willing to consider all issues in that light. The alternative is to state clearly that God's concern for justice applies to every people group on the planet except the Palestinians. We simply cannot have it both ways. Can we have that conversation?
I  tried to opine at Mike's place but it was deleted.  Par for the course.  So he wants to have that conversation but only with those of his choosing.  I'm not one of the chosen.  Fine.  Maybe he can have a conversation with some of these folks.

Like Cathy Young at the Boston Globe:
As Gabriel Schoenfeld documents in his forthcoming book "The Return of Anti-Semitism" (Encounter Books), the anti-Israeli backlash has often taken the form of physical attacks on Jews, including beatings of Jewish children in schools, assaults on Jews wearing religious garb in the streets, and vandalism against Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. But there is also the question of what Schoenfeld and many others regard as a more "genteel" anti-Semitic bias perpetrated by progressive intellectuals.
More genteel anti-semitism.  That seems to fit Mike a little better... he is certainly genteel in that passive aggressive sort of way.  Perhaps I should go back and amend my offensive remarks. Or perhaps I should continue this conversation, through others (naturally), with Mike.

Let's go to Jack R. Fischel:
The Left, which included both Communists and Socialists (but not Labor Zionists), argued that the solution to centuries of anti-Semitism was not the creation of a future Israel, but for humankind to confront bigotry and eliminate the evils of prejudice, which included not only anti-Semitism in particular, but racism in general.

The divide between Zionists and “universalists” did not vanish with the formation of Israel. Subsequently, many on the left continued their opposition to Israel, calling instead for the creation of a democratic Palestinian state consisting of Arabs and Jews but shorn of its Jewish identity. At the same time, a coterie of hostile opponents, which included the Arab world, right-wing extremists, such as neo-Nazis, and Holocaust deniers, as well as traditional anti-Semites, rejected the very legitimacy of Israel and, as remains the case with Palestinian extremist groups, such as Hamas and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, called for the destruction of the Jewish state. As Alan Dershowitz points out in his The Case for Israel, ever since its founding, Israel has had to defend its legitimacy in ways not required by the immigrants who settled Australia, or those who came to the United States and displaced the native American population. Dershowitz labels this double standard anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism.

What is new about the “new” anti-Semitism, according to a spate of recent books, including Dershowitz’s, is that the hatred of Jews has been cloaked behind a virulent anti-Zionism which holds the Jewish people everywhere responsible for the policies of the Israeli government in its conflict with the Palestinians. Phyllis Chesler, in her book The New Anti-Semitism, finds this especially prominent on the left, especially among her comrades in the feminist movement, where the new anti-Semitism masquerades as antiracism and anticolonialism. She concludes that inasmuch as anti-Jewish violence is justified by opposition to Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, it has become politically and psychologically acceptable to be anti-Semitic, despite increasing reports of the burning of synagogues and the vandalizing of cemeteries in Europe. Added to this situation is the silence of leftist intellectuals in response to suicide bombings in Israel, which reached endemic proportions during the past decade.
That seems to fit Mike (and more particularly, the many who think like him) to a 'T".  Virulent opposition to Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, silence in response to Palestinian (and radical muslim) atrocities against freedom loving peoples, most especially Israelis. 

Let's now go to Ralf Dahrendorf:
The more worrisome source of anti-Semitism is different and justifies speaking of a new anti-Semitism. It has to do with Israel. To be sure, America is the first name in anti-Western resentment. But its second name is Israel, the only successful modern country in the Middle East, which is also highly militarized, an occupying power, and ruthless in defense of its interests.

It is difficult to exaggerate the strange sentiment in the West which one might call Palestine romanticism. Intellectuals like the late Edward Said gave voice to it, but it has many followers in the United States and Europe. Palestine romanticism glorifies the Palestinians as the victims of Israel’s rule, points to the treatment of Israeli Palestinians as at best second-class citizens, and cites the many incidents of oppression in the occupied territories, including the effects of Israel’s “security fence.” Implicitly or explicitly, people take the side of the victims, contribute by sending money to them, declare even suicide bombers legitimate, and move ever further away from support for and defense of Israel.

Of course, it is true that in theory one can oppose Israel’s policies without being anti-Semitic. After all, there are enough critics of Israel’s policies among Israelis. Yet the distinction has become more and more difficult to maintain. Jews outside Israel feel that they have to defend – right or wrong – the country that, after all, is their ultimate hope of security. This makes their friends hesitate to speak up for fear of being painted into not just an anti-Israel, but also an anti-Semitic corner. The defensiveness of Jews and the uneasy silence of their friends mean that the stage of public debate is open for those who actually are anti-Semitic, though they confine themselves to anti-Israel language.

Anti-Semitism is disgusting in whatever form it arises. This is true also for other kinds of group hatred, but the Holocaust makes anti-Semitism unique, because it is an emotion complicit in the near annihilation of an entire people.

The new anti-Semitism, however, cannot be fought successfully by education and argument in the rest of the world alone. It is linked to Israel. If one belongs to a generation that regarded Israel as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century, and admired the way in which the country provided a proud home for the persecuted and downtrodden, one is particularly concerned that it may now be at risk.
Mike's attempt to downplay his anti-semitism is no surprise.  Downplaying his perspective is what he does best.  Hell, isn't that the Leftist way?  Downplaying your ideology to make it more palatable to the ignorant so that they'll buy into your way of thinking?  Sadly, it works.  Doesn't say much about the dumb masses out there who gullibly sign on.

I close this piece, much longer than I had intended it to be, with the following.  I think it to be poignantly wise and a beautiful summary:
"If Israel’s enemies dropped their weapons, there would be peace; if Israel dropped its weapons, there would be genocide." -- Alan Dershowitz
Might all anti-semites, genteel or otherwise, take those words to heart... assuming they freakin' have one.


Aristocracy is good?

This is a REAL example of cultural relativism. What some Europeans deplore about Australia is precisely what Australians are most proud of.

There may be more devotion to high culture in Europe but so what? I myself have a devotion to much high culture -- from Buxtehude to Janacek -- but if one of my fellow Australians enjoys reading "Phantom" comics as much as I enjoy reciting Chaucer in the original Middle English, good luck to him. As the Romans wisely said: "De gustibus non disputandum est".

Besides, it is precisely to avoid the social rigidities of Germany, Britain etc., that millions of their citizens have migrated to Australia.

Despite my "highbrow" tastes, I personally am most at ease among working class people here in Australia. I think their realism, relaxed attitude and sense of humour is hard to beat.

For Europeans, as the Swiss banker father of a friend of mine once said, Australians are the plebeians of the Western world.

The cliches were presented by the editor-in-chief of the German broadsheet Die Welt, Thomas Schmid, last year in an editorial. He argued that Australia lacks civilisation, everyone is dressed informally, there is a lack of social differentiation and the only thing setting the upper class apart from the middle is its higher income.

It is an empty place with nothing in the middle - in geography nor identity. These are prejudices Australians have had to deal with almost since the arrival of the First Fleet, a fate they shared with other New World societies such as the United States.

One reason was that while on the political spectrum undemocratic Old World societies constituted one end of the scale and democratic New World societies the other, it was the other way round on the cultural spectrum, which ranged from the distinguished, educated European gentleman to the materialistic, uncouth philistines in the colonies.

In Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, the aristocratic Frenchman lamented that the United States - the first and worst example of democratic excess - lacked an aristocratic elite, which made great art and literature possible. He found a "depraved taste for equality which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level" .

In the second half of the 19th century, Australia started looking into matters of a distinctive national identity. It found the bushman, a myth that neatly fitted into the 19th-century intellectual landscape.

It was closely connected to the notion of the "coming man", a reaction against the social snobbery the English middle-class exhibited against the colonials and amplified by Australia's foundation population.

In contrast to this larger and socially inferior group, the colonial gentry did not regard Australia as "home" but kept close and respectable connections to England, and therefore left the creation of a distinctive Australian identity to the less powerful but numerous "lower orders".

The ritual of egalitarianism helped to shape the new order. It is always what people believe that matters, yet while the idealism of the bush hardly claimed more than sentimental commitment, Australia's democracy had a real basis. It was an "egalitarianism of manners".

A highly efficient economy together with a shortage of labour after the discontinuation of the assisted migration scheme produced high standards of living for male workers. They became more independent and self-confident.

They found dignity and did not have to be humble before their "betters". There was no need for "improvement".

The manners of public life were direct, open and non-deferential. In this egalitarianism lie the deeper reasons for the condescending view upon Australia - it devalued the cultural capital of the average European intellectual.

In contrast to mass culture, the consumption of high culture implies certain competencies. We need to be able to decode a piece of art, the ability for which is conveyed by education. This helps social groups to set themselves apart from others which lack these capabilities. Everyone understands mass culture; it does not serve any form of status. Matters are different, however, with "restricted" culture; by a conspicuous refusal of other tastes, a class tries to depict its own lifestyle as something superior.

As a result, in Europe cultural distinctions functioned as social distinctions. Aversions to different lifestyles became one of the strongest barriers between the classes.

In Australia, ordinary men enjoyed "cultural dignity". Claiming to be better than the rest because one could competently talk about art did not suit a society of "common man". Tastes were often shared. Everyone met at the races. This did not mean art was not appreciated; it meant the exchange rate of cultural capital into power was less favourable than in Europe.

The "holy men of culture" and their inimitable nuances of manners and behaviour were confronted by Australia's democracy. This annoyed them to no end. Australia was not only the end of the world, it also became the end of civilisation and of any worthy cultural endeavour.

Take the Englishman John Pringle, for example. In his classic book, Australian Accent, he complains about art being just "part and parcel of the general background of entertainment and recreation".

That was exactly the problem. There was culture in Australia, however it did not not serve a political economy of power as existent in Europe. Artists were just like other people, they even lived in suburbia. Accordingly, they and their work had to be inferior. Australia became the victim of an international version of class discrimination.

It should not pay attention to the knockers. Offended European capital and the cringe should not stand in the way of recognition of its achievements. It should celebrate its achievements more self-consciously, be they culturally, socially or economic.

It survived the global crisis relatively unscathed. It is a vibrant nation in a booming region. It has more to offer than beach, beer and (alleged) crassness.

Australia enjoys culture and democracy in more equal parts. In short, it has every reason to be taken seriously, especially by a tired Europe which increasingly loses meaning on the world stage and faces almost insuperable demographic problems.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


12 April, 2010

The white-anting of American Catholicism

Eaten away from within by pretend Catholics whose real loyalties are not even spiritual. Does anybody believe that the pedophile priests were true men of God?

So much that you need to know about the Catholic Church's social policy problems can be summed up in one word: Chicago. On race, abortion, guns, immigration and "community organizing," Catholic Church officials in the Windy City have forged unholy alliances with radical left-wingers and enablers who undermine the faith -- and the faithful.

Exhibit A: the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Racial Justice and one of its most notorious priests, the Rev. Michael Pfleger. This week, Chicago Cardinal Francis George -- who also happens to be president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- presided over a gala ceremony honoring Pfleger with a "lifetime achievement award" for his "service in pursuit of dismantling racism, injustice and inequalities on behalf of African Americans and all people of color."

How, pray tell, has Pfleger achieved the officially sanctioned Catholic vision of "racial justice"? By aligning himself with the nation's worst racial demagogues and using his pulpit at the St. Sabina Catholic Church on Chicago's Southside to promote poisonous identity politics.

Pfleger (who is white) grabbed the spotlight during the 2008 presidential campaign with jive-talking defenses of his fellow race-hustler and President Obama's spiritual mentor the Rev. Jeremiah ("God damn America!" and "AmeriKKKA!") Wright and Jew-bashing hate-monger Louis (Judaism is a "gutter religion") Farrakhan. The racial justice award-winner called the latter a "great man" and welcomed him to his church.

Pfleger, a member of the Catholics for Obama Committee, stoked further racial division by mocking Hillary Clinton's skin color and accusing her of "white entitlement." It's one thing to ridicule Hillary's sense of political and ideological entitlement as part of the Clinton dynasty. But the demagogic emphasis on her race was beyond the pale.

Screamed Pfleger while wearing his Roman Catholic collar during a guest appearance at Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ: "I really believe that (Hillary) just always thought, 'This is mine (congregation laughter, hoots). I'm Bill's wife. I'm white. And this is mine. And I jus' gotta get up and step into the plate.' And then out of nowhere came, 'Hey, I'm Barack Obama.' And she said, 'Oh, damn! Where did you come from? (crowd goes nuts, Pfleger screaming). I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show. (sobs!)' She wasn't the only one crying! There was a whole lotta white people crying!"

On a roll, Pfleger mustered up his best Wright imitation and let loose on the entire country, proclaiming: "America is the greatest sin against God."

Pfleger has also embraced hate-crime hoax engineer Al Sharpton. Outraged Catholics across the country called on the archdiocese of Chicago to remove Pfleger. In response, Cardinal George meekly suspended Pfleger for two weeks over his "partisan" remarks -- and has now honored him for his "service" to "racial justice."

The sermon in 1 Corinthians 15:33 teaches us that bad company corrupts good character. Have they forgotten?

In an e-mail exchange with Pfleger this week, he indignantly accused me of not telling the "truth." When I quoted his own toxic words back to him, he accused me of being "mean-spirited."

This rogue Catholic priest has been arrested for vandalizing billboards in his community; threatened to "snuff out" a gun shop owner (Pfleger claims he didn't mean to imply he would kill the businessman, just expose his private home address); and flouted church rules limiting tenure. When the archdiocese attempted to enforce its two-term limit on Pfleger, he taunted them to "have the balls to fire" him. They didn't -- and Pfleger continues to serve indefinitely.

Mimicking Planned Parenthood and the death lobby, the Chicago archdiocese defended late-term-abortion supporter Obama as "pro-choice" rather than "pro-abortion" this week -- and did nothing in 2003 when Pfleger put radical-leftist actor Harry Belafonte on the St. Sabina pulpit to rail against former President George W. Bush's pro-life policies.

Cardinal George did think it worthy of his time to condemn the "hate literature" of Illinois Catholic columnist Tom Roeser, who raised his voice against the church's pedophilia scandal and criticized the willingness of Catholic Church leaders to sign on to the Obamacare sellout for the sake of "social justice."

For years, the far-left Catholic Campaign for Human Development forked over funding to Chicago-based, Saul Alinsky-trained outfits that employed then-community organizer Obama. And the Chicago archdiocese has also lobbied aggressively alongside open-borders groups to undermine immigration enforcement, to halt homeland security raids against employers breaking immigration laws and to demand mass amnesty.

As if the massive global sex-abuse scandal that cost at least $3 billion in litigation and inflicted immeasurable pain and grief on Catholic molestation victims hasn't done enough damage to its credibility, the Pfleger-ization of the Catholic Church goes on unabated. And the likes of Cardinal George are doing nothing to stop it.

This is not the Catholic Church I was raised in. It has left me.


Thank God for the one man who has the courage to stand up to the British ruling elite's assault on Christianity

The following encomium to Lord Carey is by Melanie Phillips, who is Jewish. Lord Carey was one of the few Archbishops of Canterbury in recent times who clearly believed in God

The Church and the judiciary are two of the most venerable pillars of the establishment. But in an explosive development, war has been declared between them over one of the most fundamental aspects of our society - freedom of religious conscience.

In an unprecedented move, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and other church leaders are calling upon the Master of the Rolls and other senior judges to stand down from future Court of Appeal hearings involving cases of religious discrimination because of the judges' perceived bias against Christianity.

The churchmen believe that because of these judges' past rulings, there is no chance of a 'fair' judgment if they hear the latest such case, which has been scheduled for Thursday .

This involves Gary McFarlane, formerly a Christian relationship counsellor for Relate. he is appealing against an employment tribunal ruling that upheld his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples.

According to newspaper reports, Lord Carey has prepared a witness statement in support of Mr McFarlane in which he will apparently accuse the Court of Appeal of making a series of 'disturbing' judgments and being responsible for some 'dangerous' reasoning which could lead to Christians being banned from the workplace.

In the light of recent events, such fears are scarcely exaggerated. For Christianity is under relentless attack from secular British institutions, as a result of which the freedom of Christians to practise their religion is being lost.

A steady stream of Christians have found themselves out of a job on account of their religious beliefs. When nurse Shirley Chaplin refused to remove her cross, for example, she was prevented by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust from working with patients.

And when Duke Amachree, a Christian homelessness officer with Wandsworth council, advised a client to put her faith in God, he was promptly suspended, marched off the premises and then sacked.

In a string of other cases, Christians have been prevented from serving on adoption panels or as marriage registrars because their religious beliefs mean they cannot sanction civil partnerships or gay adoption.

Such employment difficulties reflect a wider institutional animus against Christianity. Teachers bend over backwards to promote other religions at its expense. The BBC and the artistic world miss no opportunity to trash it or hold it up to ridicule, while the political class and intelligentsia take an axe to its moral precepts on issues such as euthanasia, sex outside marriage and abortion.

Among some churchmen, there has been rumbling alarm about this for some time. Only last month, Lord Carey and a group of bishops wrote to the Press to denounce such 'discrimination' against churchgoers as 'unacceptable in a civilised society'.

But this new initiative elevates such protest to a very different level. To prevent discrimination against Christians being set in stone, Lord Carey wants religious discrimination cases to be heard by a special panel of judges with some knowledge of religious matters. As an insult to some of the biggest wigs in the land, this could hardly be exaggerated.

By throwing down the gauntlet to the judiciary in this way, Lord Carey is mounting a full-frontal challenge to some of those who most influence our society.

The last of several final straws for these clerics was the case of Lilian Ladele, a registrar who was sacked by Islington council after she refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies because they were against her Christian beliefs. Led by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger - the second most important judge in england - the Appeal Court ruled that it was unlawful for her to refuse to do so.

It might be argued that these judges were merely ruling on the basis of anti-discrimination law and that they were right to do so. But in fact, these judges had discretion to rule in Ms Ladele's favour because the law upholds not one principle relevant to this case, but two - and they compete with each other. For enshrined in the European Convention on human Rights is the right to exercise religious conscience.

Why, then, did the judges in this case set aside the human Rights Convention, which they normally revere as holy Writ? Because, said Lord Neuberger, it only protected those religious beliefs which were 'worthy of respect in a democratic society and are not incompatible with human dignity'.

So what the Master of the Rolls effectively seemed to be saying was that Christian beliefs are unworthy of respect in a democracy, and incompatible with human dignity - a truly preposterous claim, since Judeo-Christian precepts invented the concept of human dignity

Indeed, such a ruling comes very close indeed to criminalising Christianity. For if putting Christian belief into practice is outlawed, it won't be long before Christian believers find themselves outlawed.

No wonder Lord Carey and his colleagues have been galvanised into militant action. For under the guise of promoting ' tolerance' and 'liberal' social attitudes, anti-discrimination law is deeply intolerant and illiberal.

That's because it has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with ideology. It is innately on the side of minorities on the basis that they are by definition vulnerable to the majority. So in the hands of the judiciary, it has turned into a fearsome weapon against Britain's mainstream attitudes and faith.

The result is that Christianity is now in danger of being turned into a despised and marginalised creed practised only by consenting adults in private.

Christians are already being forced into renouncing their religious beliefs if they want to remain in certain jobs. This is simply intolerable in a liberal society where freedom of religious conscience is a bedrock value.

Yet while Christians find themselves under the legal cosh, a double standard is employed towards certain minority faiths. Thus a Christian nurse is told she can't work with patients unless she removes her cross while Muslim NHS staff have been exempted from hygiene rules stipulating that their forearms must remain uncovered.

The relentless message from the top of our society is that Christianity - the foundation-stone of Western liberty, tolerance and democracy - is intolerant, bigoted and objectionable in contrast to other faiths. Their own precepts may be truly inimical to liberty or reason, but to these we must not turn a politically correct hair.

What Lord Carey has rightly grasped is that if the judiciary is not challenged and this process is not stopped, within a short space of time our society will have slid off the edge of a cultural cliff.

But he is having to fight more than the judiciary. For on this great issue - the defence of his religion and the values of this society - his successor, Dr Rowan Williams, is conspicuously silent. Indeed, more than that he is positively embracing his faith's destruction. For along with Lord Phillips, the former senior Law Lord, Dr Williams has welcomed the advance in Britain of Islamic sharia law - which really is inimical to democracy and equality.

The highest echelons of both the Church and the judiciary seem incapable of grasping why Christianity is crucial to this country and has to be upheld and defended against attempts to undermine and destroy it, from wherever such attacks may come. To which all one can say is thank God for Lord Carey - and doubtless he is saying so, too.


What You Won’t Read in the Media about the New Birth Data

Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released preliminary U.S. birth data for 2008. A flurry of news stories followed.

Two statistics dominated the headlines: the total number of births fell by 2 percent, after peaking in 2007, and teen birthrates declined as well, reversing a slight two-year uptick.

But the mainstream media completely ignored the most genuinely concerning trend in childbearing. In 2008, more than 4 in 10 children, or about 1.7 million births, were born to unmarried mothers.

For decades, unmarried childbearing has been trending unrelentingly upward. In 1960, about 5.3 percent of all births were to unmarried mothers. Ten years later, it had doubled to 10.7 percent. By 1980, it was 18.4 percent, and in 1990, 28 percent.

The 1996 welfare reform, which aimed to reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing as it is a primary cause of child poverty, slowed its growth rate for a few years, but by 2003, it resumed the dramatic climb, an increase of 17 percent in 5 years.

In 2008, 40.6 percent of all births in the U.S, were to unwed mothers, according to the new CDC report. While unwed teenage childbearing comprised one-half of all unmarried births in 1975, in 2008, the 133,000 births to those under age 18 comprised less than 8 percent of all unmarried births (22 percent if 18- and 19-year-olds are included).

Indeed, out-of-wedlock childbearing has largely become a twenty-something phenomenon. About 37 percent of all unwed births were to the young twenty-something, and another 23 percent to unmarried women in their late twenties.

Why should the steady increase in unwed childbearing concern the public?

For one, “the 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births are an overwhelming catastrophe for the taxpayers and society.” Heritage senior research fellow Robert Rector explains:

"The steady growth of out-of-wedlock childbearing and the general collapse of marriage lie at the heart of the mushrooming welfare/dependence state. This year taxpayers will spend over $300 billion providing means-tested welfare aid to single parents. The average single mother receives nearly three dollars in government benefits for each one dollar in taxes paid. These subsidies are largely funded by the heavy taxes paid by higher income married couples."

The public cost of unwed childbearing is burdensome, but weighty social concerns loom large as well. Heritage’s Robert Rector further explains:

"The U.S. is rapidly evolving into a two caste system with marriage and education at the dividing line. Children in the top half of the population are born to married couples with a college education; children in the bottom half are born to single mothers with a high school degree or less."

The disappearance of marriage in low income communities is the predominant cause of child poverty in the U.S. today. If poor single mothers were married to the fathers of their children, two thirds would immediately escape from poverty. In addition, the absence of husbands from the home is a strong contributing factor to crime, school failure, drug abuse, emotional disturbance and a host of other social problems.

And how have the Obama administration and the Congress responded to these worrying trends?

They have proposed to effectively eliminate the only remaining federal program to strengthen marriage. Instead, the administration and the Congress have created two new programs, including one in the healthcare legislation, that implicitly endorse a message of permissiveness among teens. Costing about $200 million per year, the new programs fund additional comprehensive sex-ed, and add to the existing $610 million per year that already support these programs.

For five decades, unwed childbearing has risen steadily, with no indication of relenting. Yet the only government response has been to spend more, a failing solution that also undermines the institution of marriage.


Black racism in basketball

He’s been cursed by fans from North Carolina and taunted in road arenas throughout the ACC. Still, the chant that Duke guard Jon Scheyer remembers the most occurred during an AAU game back in high school.

Time and time again as Scheyer dribbled up the court, the opposing coach stood on the sideline and barked orders to his players. “Get the white boy!” the coach said. “Get the white boy!” Scheyer was the only non-African-American on his team.

“Obviously,” Scheyer said, “he was talking about me. I had a number and a name [on my jersey]. But instead it was ‘Get the white boy!’ “

No one, though, was ever able to stop Scheyer from reaching his potential. Not at his Chicago-area high school, where he led his team to a state championship. Not at Duke, where he earned first-team all-ACC honors. And not in Indianapolis, where Monday’s NCAA title game between the Blue Devils and Butler has taken on an unfamiliar look.

Five white players could be on the court at tipoff. That’s the most since 1998, when six white players started in the Utah-Kentucky final. Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard – two of Butler’s top players – are white. So are five of Duke’s top seven players.

Even though the race issue isn’t discussed in polite company, it’s been the subject of hushed conversations at the Final Four and will be obvious to anyone in attendance or tuning in at home. The subject is so taboo that even Larry Bird bristles when it’s brought up.

The Blue Devils, who have been described as “alarmingly unathletic,” powered past West Virginia by 21 points in Saturday’s national semifinal. Hayward and Howard managed to lead small school Butler to victories over three Top 15 teams en route to a berth in the championship game.

Negative stereotypes about lack of speed, agility and leaping ability are being challenged. “For me, it was always just about being a basketball player,” Hayward said. “I’d watch some of the great white players in the NBA and say, ‘Why can’t I do that?’ “

One of those players was Bird, the NBA Hall of Famer and Boston Celtics legend, who is now the president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers. Before his team’s game against Houston on Sunday, Bird became agitated when he was asked if he still thought negative stereotypes existed about white players.

“Who cares?” Bird said. “I mean, really … who cares? If you can play, you can play anywhere. It doesn’t matter what the stinking color of your skin is.”

Like many people, Bird doesn’t like to talk about the race factor in college basketball and the professional ranks. Last summer he was heavily criticized for selecting Tyler Hansbrough, who is white, with the 13th overall pick in the NBA draft.

Hansbrough was a three-time All-American, an NCAA champion and the leading scorer in the tradition-rich history of the Tar Heels’ program. But to some critics he was just another white player on a roster that already included former Duke standouts Josh McRoberts and Mike Dunleavy and ex-Notre Dame star Troy Murphy.

Hansbrough is out for the season because of health reasons, but McRoberts, Dunleavy and Murphy combined for 50 points in Sunday’s victory over Houston. The Rockets got a team-high 17 points from rookie Chase Budinger, a second-round draft pick from Arizona who is also white.

When he was in elementary school, Budinger said his friends laughed at him when he told them his goal was to become a professional basketball player. “It was just because of the stereotype that’s out there,” he said. “It stuck with me. I told them, ‘I’m going to be a great player. You’re going to look back when I’m in the NBA and kick yourselves in the butt.’ “

For a time, Budinger was projected as a first-round pick in last summer’s draft, but he slipped into the second round. He thinks he knows why. “I heard a lot leading up to the draft that I was soft and that I wasn’t athletic or quick enough to play in this league,” Budinger said. “That stereotype came from being white and from being kind of different. “I grew up in a predominantly white suburb of San Diego and didn’t have the background some of these guys have, being from L.A. or Chicago.”

Players such as Duke’s Kyle Singler and Hayward are hoping the same thing doesn’t happen to them in the future. Both are potential first-round picks who will likely face similar questions about athleticism and speed. “For me, growing up, it wasn’t about the color of anyone’s skin,” Singler said. “I just wanted to play against the best players, no matter if they were white or black. That’s how the game should be. People should respect the game and learn to appreciate the [individual] players.”

Butler guard Zach Hahn agrees. “Everyone is born with an equal opportunity,” he said.

Duke’s Brian Zoubek, Brigham Young’s Jimmer Fredette and Syracuse’s Andy Rautins are white players who have flourished in this year’s NCAA tournament. St. Mary’s, Northern Iowa and Cornell reached the Sweet 16 with predominantly white rosters.

According to a University of Central Florida study released in 2008, 32.5 percent of Division I college basketball players were white during the 2006-07 season.

“I don’t like it when people make a big deal about me being white,” Scheyer said. “But that’s just the way it is. Ultimately, as long as you keep winning, how can people keep saying that?”



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


11 April, 2010

NHS relaxes safety rules for Muslim staff... just days after Christian nurse is banned from wearing crucifix for "safety" reasons

This is blatant hypocritical defiance

Muslim doctors and nurses are to be allowed for religious reasons to opt out of strict NHS dress codes introduced to prevent the spread of deadly hospital superbugs. The Department of Health has announced that female Muslim staff will be permitted to cover their arms on hospital wards to preserve their modesty.

This is despite earlier guidance that all staff should be ‘bare below the elbow’ after long sleeves were blamed for spreading bacteria, leading to superbug deaths.

The Department has also relaxed its ‘no jewellery’ rule by making it clear that Sikhs can wear bangles, as long as they can be pushed up the arm during direct patient care.

The move contrasts with the case of nurse Shirley Chaplin, who last week lost her discrimination battle against Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Trust, which said the cross she has worn since she was 16 was a ‘hazard’ because it could scratch patients.

Mrs Chaplin, 55, had worn the silver cross on a necklace since her confirmation. But the employment tribunal told her that wearing a cross was not a ‘mandatory requirement’ of her faith, even though Muslim doctors are allowed to wear hijabs or headscarves.

Last night she said of the sleeve concession to Muslims: ‘I don’t believe my cross is a danger so this is double standards. What can you say? It seems that life is stacked up against Christians these days.’

Politicians and Christian leaders, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, added that it showed the Government was prepared to accommodate minority faiths while Christianity was marginalised.

Lord Carey said of grandmother Mrs Chaplin: ‘The Muslim voice is very strong, so politicians and others are scared of it. We can only deduce that the hostility aimed at her is because she is a Christian.’

The revised rules, which health officials insist will not compromise hospital hygiene, were drawn up after female Muslim staff objected to exposing their arms in public.

Since the original guidance was announced by the then Health Secretary Alan Johnson in 2007, many hospitals have insisted that staff involved in patient care wear short sleeves at all times. Mr Johnson’s initiative came amid growing concerns about the number of patients catching superbugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile. Hundreds of people have died.

The guidance required staff coming into contact with patients to have their arms bare below the elbows, outlawing the traditional doctors’ white coat.

Jewellery, other than plain wedding bands and ear studs, watches and false nails, were also banned to cut down the spread of bacteria. But Muslim doctors and medical students said baring arms conflicted with the Koran’s teaching that women must dress modestly in public.

In 2008, several universities reported that Muslim medical students objected to the rules. Leicester University said some Muslim females ‘had difficulty in complying with the procedures to roll up sleeves to the elbow for appropriate handwashing’, while Sheffield University reported a case of a Muslim medic who refused to ‘scrub’ as this left her forearms exposed.

Birmingham University revealed that some students would prefer to quit their course than expose their arms. A Muslim radiographer quit at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading over the issue. Yet Islamic experts are divided about how Muslim women should dress as the Koran is ambiguous on the matter.

The revised rules, issued on March 26, make clear that staff can wear uniforms with long sleeves as long as they roll them up securely above their elbows to wash and when they are on the wards. They add that staff who want to cover up completely when dealing with patients will be able to use special disposable ‘over-sleeves’.

The guidance says: ‘Where, for religious reasons, members of staff wish to cover their forearms or wear a bracelet when not engaged in patient care, ensure that sleeves or bracelets can be pushed up the arm and secured in place for hand-washing and direct patient care.

‘In a few instances, staff have expressed a preference for disposable over-sleeves – elasticated at the wrist and elbow – to cover forearms during patient care activity. ‘Disposable over-sleeves can be worn where gloves are used but strict adherence to washing hands and wrists must be observed before and after use.’

The Department was unable to say last night how much extra it will cost the NHS to provide the disposable sleeves. But 18in polythene over-sleeves are already on offer on the internet for about £7 for a pack of 200.

The Department admitted in its new guidance that it had reviewed its rules because ‘exposure of the forearms is not acceptable to some staff because of their Islamic faith’. It added: ‘We recognise that elements of the additional guidance could be seen to be introducing differing requirements for those to whom “baring below the elbows” presents no significant problem.

‘We have considered the implications of this possibility but concluded that the overall purpose of the guidance, to ensure patient safety by adherence to good hand hygiene, is not prejudiced by the additional dress options that have now been identified.’

Health officials drew up the revised rules on the advice of Islamic scholars and a group called Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS (MSCP), which is part of the Muslim Council of Britain.

A working party was set up comprising two Health Department officials, a member of the Health Protection Agency, two female Muslim hospital chaplains, an Imam and two members of MSCP. Yet campaigners for the rights of Christian nurses to wear crosses said the Health Department had failed to consult them adequately.

Mrs Chaplin lost her case on Tuesday despite being backed by the Christian Legal Centre and human-rights lawyer Paul Diamond. She is not the only nurse to fall foul of health-and-safety laws. Last year, Roman Catholic Helen Slatter, 43, resigned as a blood collector at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital rather than remove her cross which her bosses said ‘could harbour infection’.

Lord Carey, one of seven bishops to sign a letter supporting Mrs Chaplin at her tribunal, said the Government was guilty of ‘double standards’. ‘The NHS, British Airways and all the big companies seem to be tilting in one direction,’ he added. ‘If Muslims are getting these concessions, why not Christians? There should be the same rules for everyone.’

Lord Carey, whose wife Eileen is a former nurse, added: ‘In the case of Shirley Chaplin, she has been wearing her cross for 38 years and it has never injured anyone. ‘So the argument for health and safety is very weak, very tenuous indeed.’

Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, a campaign group headed by respected microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington, said: ‘We welcomed the introduction of baring-below-the-elbows because we know that anything – whether it’s jewellery, watches or wedding rings – can harbour bacteria which can in turn transfer superbugs between patients.

‘My worry is that by allowing some medics to use disposable sleeves you compromise patient safety because unless you change the sleeves between treating each patient, you spread bacteria. Scrubbing bare arms is far more effective. ‘I’ve seen doctors and nurses fail to change their gloves, and I’ve no doubt this will see exactly the same thing happening. These sleeves are just another risk, and you cannot take risks with patient safety.’

Former Tory Minister Ann Widdecombe said: ‘I don’t mind if a Sikh nurse can wear a bangle if a Christian nurse can wear a cross. If you have a rule you have to have it for all. ‘There is no evidence that crosses are a serious health-and-safety risk. That is just an excuse to discriminate against people of faith. ‘Minority groups are unquestionably getting more sensitive treatment than Christians and this is yet more proof.’

Dr Andrew Fergusson, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, which represents 4,000 doctors, said: ‘For some reason, Christians in health care seem to be particularly vulnerable at the moment.’

The Department of Health said: ‘The revised workwear guidance gives further clarity to frontline staff about the need to have good hand hygiene when in direct patient care. It does not change previous policy. ‘The guidance is intended to provide direction to services in how they can balance infection-control measures with cultural beliefs without compromising patient safety.


Religious tolerance has put a fatwa on our moral nerve

Religious freedom has turned out to be a mixed blessing. The idea was once an article of faith with me, irreligious though I am. But my faith is beginning to weaken. Religion has turned out to be different from what tolerant people of my monocultural childhood understood by it — a system of private belief and devotion that did not intrude into the public space except through charity and uncontroversial good works.

Now, by contrast, religion is constantly claiming attention in the public space and demanding special treatment. It is also abused in the name of divisive identity politics. All this makes even the most tolerant liberal think twice about freedom of religious expression.

Last week’s case of the self-styled “crucified” nurse is a perfect example of the problem. Shirley Chaplin, an experienced ward sister and devout Christian, discovered at an employment tribunal that — despite the support of seven bishops and a mention in the Easter sermon of the Archbishop of Canterbury — she had lost her battle to be allowed to wear a crucifix at work in the wards of the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital. Her crucifix is on a long chain and although she has worn it at work for many years, a recent hospital risk assessment found that it breached health and safety rules. This decision was upheld by the employment tribunal.

“I don’t use the word crucified lightly,” said Chaplin, “but in one sense I have been crucified by the system. Every Christian at work will now be afraid to mention their beliefs.” What on earth can she mean? The reverse is the truth. The hospital suggested to her as a compromise that she might indeed wear her crucifix openly at work, but pinned to her uniform rather than on a chain — rather as nurses wear watches pinned to their frontage for reasons of hygiene — thus publicly displaying her beliefs at all times.

One can, however, sympathise with something else she feels. Commenting that Muslim hospital staff have been allowed to continue wearing head coverings, she said that “Muslims do not seem to face the same rigorous application of NHS rules”. There’s certainly some truth in that.

At the end of March it emerged that female Muslim doctors and nurses are indeed to have special treatment on National Health Service wards. Non-Muslim staff in direct contact with patients must keep their arms bare to the elbow for important hygiene reasons — to make sure their sleeves do not become contaminated and so they can wash their hands thoroughly on ward rounds.

Their Muslim female counterparts, however, have been given a special dispensation by the Department of Health. Because some Muslims consider nudity of the female forearm to be immodest, Muslim doctors and nurses are to be issued with disposable sleeves, elasticated at wrist and elbow, to cover up the erogenous zone that lies between. This is absurd, unfair, wasteful and yet another example, as Chaplin and her episcopal supporters (and I) all feel, of the bias in favour of a vociferous religious minority.

The truth is that special dispensations for such reasons are not acceptable. Everyone ought to abide by the same rules. Disposable hospital sleeves for Muslims, full veils, long dresses in public pools and ceremonial knives at school are not acceptable in the public domain. They may be unhygienic; they may be dangerous; they may be a security risk. Yet the main argument for prohibiting all these supposedly religious symbols is that they are socially divisive and disruptive without being a religious requirement at all. I applaud the decision of the General Medical Council in 2008 that Muslim doctors must not veil their faces when with patients.

To me, one of the most heartening aspects of the case of Chaplin’s dangling crucifix was the tribunal’s finding that there is no mandatory requirement in the Christian faith that a Christian should wear a crucifix. That is correct, of course. Wearing a crucifix is entirely optional and indeed historically some Christians have actually disapproved of them as graven images.

This same criterion could and should be applied to comparable claims for special treatment on religious grounds, such as the wearing of supposedly Muslim clothing. Saying this will bring protests down upon my head, but, as far as I can understand, there is no mandatory Islamic requirement for women to wear a particular kind of garment; there is merely a requirement for them to dress modestly. If it weren’t for the spirit of tolerance in this country, combined with politically correct cowardice, officialdom would have acted accordingly long ago.

Beyond all this, the awkward fact remains that there is nothing to stop anyone insisting that a certain practice — whether it is circumcising little girls or teaching creationist nonsense or turning homosexuals away from B&Bs — is indeed a requirement of his or her religion, no matter what any theologian may say.

It is useless to argue: the problem is with religion itself. Religion is a word that can be used to silence argument, not least because religious faith is by definition beyond the reach of rational argument. Yet somehow in this country we have encoded that irrationality into law — into recent human rights law and anti-discrimination legislation — with the result that we are all defenceless in the face of antisocial demands made in the name of religion.

We have put ourselves in a position in which we cannot discriminate between religions and between religious practices; even joking may be against the law now. Not taking religion very seriously ourselves, we failed until recently to understand that others do and do not consider it a private matter. At the same time, we seem to be in a state of cultural moral funk, in which even the Archbishop of Canterbury could recommend that aspects of sharia should be incorporated into English law and then wonder at the fury he aroused.

Beyond a certain point in a liberal society, religious tolerance is a loss of moral nerve.


Israel the strong horse

Much of what the West misses about the Arab world is spelled out for us in a new and masterful book. The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations by Lee Smith, is a unique and vital addition to the current debate on the Middle East because rather than interpret the Arabs through the ideological lenses of the West, Smith describes them, their cultural and political motivations as the Arabs -- in all their ethnic, religious, ideological, national and tribal variations -- themselves perceive these things.

Smith, a native New Yorker, was the literary editor of The Village Voice when Arab hijackers brought down the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Propelled by the attacks, he headed to the Middle East to try to understand what had just hit his city. Smith moved to Cairo where he studied Arabic and drank in the cultural and political forces surrounding him. After a year, he moved to Beirut where he remained for another three years.

The Strong Horse speaks to two Western audiences, the Left, or the self-proclaimed "realists," who ascribe to the belief that the Arabs have no particular interests but are rather all motivated to act by external forces and specifically by the US and Israel; and the neo-conservatives who believe that at heart, the Arabs all yearn for Western-style liberal democracy.

Smith rejects both these notions out of hand. Instead, by recounting the stories of men and women he met during his sojourn in the region, and weaving them into the tales of Arab cultural, religious and political leaders that have risen and fallen since the dawn of Islam 1,400 years ago Smith presents a few basic understandings of the Arab world that place the actions of everyone from Osama bin Laden to Jordan's King Abdullah in regional and local contexts. The localization of these understandings in turn opens up a whole new set of options for Westerners and particularly for Israelis in seeking ways to contend with the region's pathologies that involve policies less sweeping than grand, yet futile designs of peace making, or fundamental restructuring of the social compacts of Arab societies.

Smith develops six central insights in his book.

* Arab political history is a history of the powerful ruling the weak through violence.

* Islamic terror and governmental tyranny are the two sides of the coin of Arab political pathology.

* Liberal democratic principles are unattractive to the vast majority of Arabs who believe that politics is and by rights ought to remain a violent enterprise and prefer the narrative of resistance to the narrative of liberty.

* Liberal Arab reformers are unwilling to fight for their principles.

The 1,400 year period of Sunni dominance over non-Sunni minorities is now threatened seriously for the first time by the Iranian-controlled Shiite alliance which includes Syria, Lebanon, and Hamas.

And finally, that it is intra-Arab rivalries and the desire to rule and be recognized as the strong horse that motivates jihadists to wage continuous wars against Israel and the West and against regimes in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia alike.

As Smith explains, today, Arab leaders view Israel as a possible strong horse that could defeat the rising Shiite axis that threatens them. And now, as the US under Obama abdicates its leadership role in world affairs by turning on its allies and attempting to appease its foes while scaling back America's own military strength, Israel is the Sunnis' only hope for beating back the Shiite alliance. If Israel does not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, then the likes of Kings Abdullah of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak are going to be forced to accept Iran as the regional hegemon.

The recognition that a strong Israel is the most stabilizing force in the region is perhaps the main casualty of the Left's land for peace narrative and the two-state solution paradigm which wrongly promote the weakness of Israel as the foremost potential contributor to stability in the region. Because Israel is everyone's convenient bogeyman, it cannot form permanent alliances with any of its neighbors and as a consequence, it cannot gang up against another state.

Because it will always be the first target of the most radical actors in the region, Israel has a permanent interest in defeating them or, at a minimum denying those actors the means to cause catastrophic harm. Finally, although no one will admit it, everyone knows that Israel has neither the ability nor desire to acquire and rule over Arab lands and therefore there is no reason for anyone to fear its strength. For the past 62 years, Israel has only used force to protect itself when it was convinced it had no other option and it holds only territories designated for the Jewish homeland by the League of Nations 90 years ago and lands vital for its self-defense.

Smith was living in Beirut when Hizbullah launched its war against Israel in July 2006. As he tells the story, "When the government of Ehud Olmert decided to make war against Hizbullah in the summer of 2006, all of Washington's Arab allies...were overjoyed. With the Americans having taken down a Sunni security pillar - Saddam - and then getting tied down in Iraq, Riyadh, Cairo and the rest sensed the Iranians were gaining ground and that they were vulnerable. Even though they were incapable of doing anything about it themselves, the Sunni powers...wanted to see the [Iranian] bloc rolled back."

Unfortunately for them, Olmert and his government were incompetent to lead Israel in war and within weeks showed that they had no idea how to accomplish their stated aim of crushing Hizbullah. When this reality sunk in, and the Arab masses rallied behind Iran, Hizbullah and Syria against their own governments, "the Sunni regimes could abide no longer and demanded the United States move to a ceasefire immediately."

No doubt, in part as a consequence of their disappointment with Israel's military performance in Lebanon and subsequently in Gaza, today leaders like Abdullah of Jordan are pessimistic about the future. But there is also no doubt who they are rooting for. And this has profound significance for Israel, not only as it prepares its plans to contend with Iran but also as it considers it national priorities.

For too long, Israel's leaders have believed that to thrive regionally, it needs to convince the West to support it politically. But the fact is that Israel is in Asia, not in Europe or North America. To survive and thrive, Israel needs to rebuild the faith of the likes of Jordan's Abdullah that it is the strong horse in the region. And once it does that, with or without formal peace treaties, and with or without democracies flourishing region-wide, Israel will facilitate regional peace and stability for the benefit of all.


White & guilty: ‘Whiteness’ workshop helps expose your inner racist

Crazy assumptions produce crazy conclusions

Sandy, Jim and Karen work at a downtown community centre where they help low-income residents apply for rental housing. Sandy has a bad feeling about Jim: She notices that when black clients come in, he tends to drift to the back of the office. Sandy suspects racism (she and Jim are both white). On the other hand, she also notices that Jim seems to get along well with Karen, who is black. As the weeks go by, Sandy becomes more uncomfortable with the situation. But she feels uncertain about how to handle it. Test question: What should Sandy do?

If you answered that Sandy's first move should be to talk to Karen, and ask how Jim's behaviour made her feel, you are apparently a better anti-racist than me.

That, for what it's worth, was the preferred solution offered by my instructor at "Thinking About Whiteness and Doing Anti-Racism," a four-part evening workshop for community activists, presented earlier this year at the Toronto Women's Bookstore.

My own answer, announced in class, was that Sandy should approach Jim discreetly, explaining to him how others in the office might perceive his actions. Or perhaps the manager of the community centre could give a generic presentation about the need to treat clients in a colour-blind manner, on a no-names basis.

The problem with my approach, the instructor indicated, lay in the fact that I was primarily concerned with the feelings of my fellow Caucasian, Jim. I wasn't treating Karen like a "full human being" who might have thoughts and worries at variance with the superficially friendly workplace attitude.

Moreover, I was guilty of "democratic racism" -- by which we apply ostensibly race-neutral principles such as "due process," constantly demanding clear "evidence" of wrongdoing, rather than confronting prima facie instances of racism head-on. "It seems we're always looking for more proof," said the instructor, an energetic left-wing activist who's been teaching this course for several years. "When it comes to racism, you have to trust your gut."

I felt the urge to pipe up at this. Racism is either a serious charge or it's not. And if it is, as everyone in this room clearly believed, then it cannot be flung around casually without giving the accused a chance to explain his actions. But I said nothing, and nodded my head along with everyone else. I'd come to this class not to impose my democratic racism on people, but to observe.

Most of the other 13 students were earnest, grad-student types in their 20s -- too young to remember the late 1980s and early 1990s, when political correctness first took root on college campuses. The jargon I heard at the bookstore took me back to that age -- albeit with a few odd variations. "Allyship" has replaced "solidarity" in the anti-racist lexicon, for instance, when speaking about inter-racial activist partnerships. I also heard one student say she rejected the term "gender-neutral" as sexist, and instead preferred "gender-fluid." One did not "have" a gender or sexual orientation; the operative word is "perform" -- as in, "Sally performs her queerness in a very femme way."

The instructor's Cold War-era Marxist jargon added to the retro intellectual vibe. Like just about everyone in the class, she took it for granted that racism is an outgrowth of capitalism, and that fighting one necessarily means fighting the other. At one point, she asked us to critique a case study about "Cecilia," a community activist who spread a message of tolerance and mutual respect in her neighbourhood. Cecilia's approach was incomplete, the instructor informed us, because she neglected to sound the message that "classism is a form of oppression." The real problem faced by visible minorities in our capitalist society isn't a lack of understanding, "it's the fundamentally inequitable nature of wage labour."

The central theme of the course was that this twinned combination of capitalism and racism has produced a cult of "white privilege," which permeates every aspect of our lives. "Canada is a white supremacist country, so I assume that I'm racist," one of the students said matter-of-factly during our first session. "It's not about not being racist. Because I know I am. It's about becoming less racist." At this, another student told the class: "I hate when people tell me they're colour-blind. That is the most overt kind of racism. When people say ‘I don't see your race,' I know that's wrong. To ignore race is to be more racist than to acknowledge race. I call it neo-racism."

All of the students were white (to my eyes, anyway). And most were involved in what might broadly be termed the anti-racism industry -- an overlapping hodgepodge of community-outreach activists, equity officers, women's studies instructors and the like. Most said they'd come so they could integrate anti-racism into their work. Yet a good deal of the course consisted of them unburdening themselves of their own racist guilt. The instructor set the tone, describing an episode in which she'd lectured a colleague of colour about his job. "When I realized what I was doing, I approached him afterward and apologized," she told the class. "I said to him. ‘I'm so sorry! I'm unloading so much whiteness on you right now.' "

Another woman described her torment when a friend asked her to give a presentation about media arts to a group of black students -- an exercise that would have made a spectacle of her white privilege. "Should I say yes? Or is it my responsibility to say no?" she said. "But then [my friend] may say, ‘I want you to do it -- because you have a particular approach ...'

"But wait! Could it be that the reason I have that ‘particular approach' is that I've been raised to think that I could have that particular approach, that I have the ability, that I am able to access education in a particular way? All these things are in my head, in my heart, not really knowing how to respond. On the other hand, I also recognize that the person asking me has the agency to decide that I'm the right person ... so I say yes! ... But then I'm still thinking ‘I don't know if I did the right thing.' I still struggle with this all the time ..."

An especially telling moment came when someone raised the subject of Third World nannies who immigrate to Canada under government-sponsored caregiver programs. The instructor told the class that the practice was inherently "super-exploitative." She also pointed us to an article included in the week's reading, "Black Women and Work," in which Canadian author Dionne Brand argues that cynical employers use appeals such as "You know that you're part of the family" to emotionally blackmail nannies, housekeepers and elder-care workers into the continuation of abusive work relationships.

One of the students -- I'll use the name "Chris" (having promised not to identify any attendee by name) -- interjected, apologetically. Chris couldn't help but confess that her own family had employed just such a nanny, who truly did seem "part of the family." For several minutes, Chris gave details, describing all the touching, intimate ways in which the nanny's family had become intermingled with Chris's own.

This speech from the heart caused a ripple of discomfort. One woman suggested that the nanny has adopted a "coping mechanism" to deal with her subordinate situation. This led to a discussion about how we must recognize the nanny's "agency" -- a popular buzzword signifying that minority members must not be seen as passive victims. The instructor listened attentively -- but didn't offer much more except that the example demonstrated the "contradictary-ness" of anti-racism studies. We moved on while Chris sat there, looking somewhat confused, and attracting my sympathy.

In fact, I felt sympathy for just about everyone in that class. In private conversation, they all seemed like good-hearted, intelligent people. But like communist die-hards confessing their counter-revolutionary thought-crimes at a Soviet workers' council, or devout Catholics on their knees in the confessional, they also seemed utterly consumed by their sin, regarding their pallor as a sort of moral leprosy. I came to see them as Lady Macbeths in reverse -- cursing skin with nary a "damn'd spot." Even basic communication with friends and fellow activists, I observed, was a plodding agony of self-censorship, in which every syllable was scrutinized for subconscious racist connotations as it was leaving their mouths.

While politically correct campus activists often come across as smug and single-minded, I realized, their intellectual life might more accurately be described as bipolar -- combining an ecstatic self-conception as high priestesses who pronounce upon the racist sins of our society, alongside extravagant self-mortification in regard to their own fallen state.

As I watched, I tried to detach myself from this spectacle, and imagine what this unintentionally comic scene -- a group of students sitting around, self-consciously egging each other on to be ashamed of their skin colour -- would look like to, say, civil rights protesters from a half-century ago. If the instructor and her students ever allowed themselves to laugh, they might have found it funny.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


10 April, 2010

Evil British prosecutors back off

They'd prefer you to be dead rather than defend yourself

A man accused of stabbing a teenage burglar to death after catching him ransacking his mother's home is to escape prosecution. Omari Roberts disturbed Tyler Juett, 17, and his accomplice after the pair smashed windows and a door to gain entry to the property.

The apprentice builder allegedly chased off the younger of the two after the 14-year-old threatened him with a kitchen knife. During an alleged struggle with Juett the burglar was stabbed in the shoulder, severing an artery which proved fatal.

Police charged Mr Roberts, 23, with murder after the incident in the Basford area of Nottingham in March last year. At the time Crown Prosecution Service lawyers said he had used 'excessive and gratuitous force'.

But yesterday his solicitor said prosecutors would officially drop the charges next week as they cannot offer any evidence. The u-turn comes after it emerged in an earlier court hearing that Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer [a hard Leftist and a resolute enemy of self-defence] had been involved in the original decision to prosecute Mr Roberts.

Yesterday his solicitor Jonathan Epelle said: 'We are delighted for Omari that he does not have to go through a trial. 'We are also angry as it was seven months before he was charged and then seven months after that we hear they will drop it. Omari's life has been turned upside down for a year.'

He added: 'Omari came home to find two people in the house. The windows were smashed and the back door was smashed open. Juett was upstairs and another 14-year-old boy was downstairs. 'He came rushing towards Omari with a kitchen knife, there was a struggle and the boy managed to abscond out of the house after he was stabbed in the leg.

'Omari made to go after him but came straight back as there was still somebody in the house. That boy, that was Tyler Juett, came running down the stairs and rushed towards Omari. 'There was a struggle and in the struggle he got a knife through the shoulder. 'There was a lot of confusion and there is confusion even now but Omari is not hiding anything. He gave a full account to police.

'This is a young man with no history of violence whatsoever, coming back to his mother's house for lunch and finding two people who rushed at him. 'One of them has ended up dead but he was damned if he did, and dead if he didn't. 'If he didn't do what he did, we could well be dealing with a murder case against Tyler Juett.'

Mr Roberts' mother, Jacqueline McKenzie-Johnson, has run a campaign for the law to be changed to offer homeowners more protection if they use force to defend their property. The 47-year-old, who works for Nottingham City Council, said: 'Justice has been served but there are no winners.

'This was not a public place, this was my home and the CPS dealt with the situation as if it was a public environment. This was in the privacy of my own home, it was a violation of my own family.'

The case echoes that of farmer Tony Martin, who was jailed for life for murder in 2000 after shooting dead a teenage intruder at his dilapidated Norfolk home. His conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal and he was released in 2003.

In February Britain's most senior judge threw out an application to jail a father who stabbed a thug threatening his family with an axe. Kenneth Blight, 51, walked free from the Appeal Court after an application from the Attorney General to increase his original sentence was dismissed in a crucial victory for homeowners.

Baroness Scotland QC pursued the father-of-three after he was given a two-year suspended jail term for stabbing drug-crazed teenager Andrew Nelson in a bid to protect his partner and children. She argued the original sentence was 'unduly lenient'.

But Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said Mr Blight was a 'decent' and 'mild natured' man who had been 'goaded beyond endurance' and the decision to free him last October had been 'humane and justifiably merciful'.

The Home Secretary has pledged to review the law and the Tories have made a manifesto commitment that 'have-a-go heroes' should be protected from prosecution.

Yesterday a CPS spokesman said: 'We are refusing to comment until after the hearing on Tuesday. 'The DPP was involved in this decision as he is with all complex and sensitive cases.'


The destructive multicultural dogma

By Thomas Sowell

One of the most ominous developments of our time has been the multicultural dogma that all cultures are equal. It is one of the many unsubstantiated assertions that have become fashionable among self-congratulatory elites, with hard evidence being neither asked for nor offered.

But, however much such assertions minister to the egos of the intelligentsia and the careers of politicians and race hustlers, the multicultural dogma is a huge barrier to the advancement of groups who are lagging economically, educationally and otherwise.

Once you have said that the various economic, educational and other "gaps" and "disparities" of lagging groups are not due to either genes or cultures, what is left but the sins of other people?

Sins are never hard to find, among any group of human beings. But whether that actually helps those who are lagging, or just leads them into the blind alley of resentment, is another question.

None of this is peculiar to the United States or to our times. In centuries past, it was common in parts of Eastern Europe for Germans or other Western Europeans to be a majority of the population in various Eastern European cities, while the Slavic majority predominated in the surrounding countrysides.

Even in times and places where the Germans and other Western Europeans were not a numerical majority in Eastern European cities, or in Baltic cities like Riga, they were clearly an economic and cultural elite in business, industry and the professions.

They simply had the skills and education that most of the indigenous peoples of Eastern Europe and the Baltic did not have.

At that point, the German language, like other Western European languages, had a vastly larger store of written knowledge than the languages of Eastern Europe, which developed written versions centuries later than the languages of Western Europe.

One obvious way for individuals born into the local indigenous culture to advance themselves was to acquire the language and culture of the Germans, using the skills and knowledge available in that language to advance themselves. This is what many did.

What this said was that cultures were not equal, at least not at that point in history, and contrary to the multicultural dogmas of our time.

Nor was this path to individual and group advancement peculiar to Eastern Europe. In 18th century Scotland, the great philosopher David Hume urged his fellow Scots to learn the English language, in order to advance themselves, individually and collectively.

The net result was that Scotland went from being one of the most backward countries on the fringes of European civilization to being one of the most advanced countries in the world. A wholly disproportionate share of the leading British intellectuals from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century were of Scottish ancestry, and the Scots ultimately surpassed the English in medicine and engineering.

Unfortunately, most intellectuals in most lagging groups did not urge taking the path that David Hume urged upon the Scots. More commonly, the intelligentsia have promoted the path of resentment of those on whom history had bestowed a more productive culture.

A rising, indigenous educated class in 19th century Bohemia and Latvia, for example, resented having to become culturally German in order to advance. Moreover, they resented Germans and worked to get their compatriots to resent Germans as well, even though the cultural disparities at the heart of economic and other disparities were not created by the Germans but by the Romans, centuries earlier, when they invaded Western Europe and put the stamp of their culture on that region.

But explanations of group differences based on historic or geographic happenstances do not provide emotional fulfillment. Some preferred theories of genetic differences and others preferred seeing the poverty of some as being a result of the sins of those who were more prosperous.

Multiculturalism enshrines the sins and grievances approach-- and paints the poor into a corner, where they can nurse their resentments, instead of advancing their skills and their prospects. The beneficiaries are politicians and race hustlers.


Leftist hatred of the South

"This was a recognition of American terrorists."

That is CNN's Roland Martin's summary judgment of the 258,000 men and boys who fell fighting for the Confederacy in a war that cost as many American lives as World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq combined.

Martin reflects the hysteria that seized Obamaville on hearing that Gov. Bob McDonnell had declared Confederate History Month in the Old Dominion. Virginia leads the nation in Civil War battlefields.

So loud was the howling that in 24 hours McDonnell had backpedaled and issued an apology that he had not mentioned slavery.

Unfortunately, the governor missed a teaching moment -- at the outset of the 150th anniversary of America's bloodiest war.

Slavery was indeed evil, but it existed in the Americas a century before the oldest of our founding fathers was even born. Five of our first seven presidents were slaveholders.

But Virginia did not secede in defense of slavery. Indeed, when Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, March 4, 1861, Virginia was still in the Union. Only South Carolina, Georgia and the five Gulf states had seceded and created the Confederate States of America.

At the firing on Fort Sumter, April 12-13, 1865, the first shots of the Civil War, Virginia was still inside the Union. Indeed, there were more slave states in the Union than in the Confederacy. But, on April 15, Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers from the state militias to march south and crush the new Confederacy.

Two days later, April 17, Virginia seceded rather than provide soldiers or militia to participate in a war on their brethren. North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas followed Virginia out over the same issue. They would not be a party to a war on their kinfolk.

Slavery was not the cause of this war. Secession was -- that and Lincoln's determination to drown the nation in blood if necessary to make the Union whole again.

Nor did Lincoln ever deny it. In his first inaugural, Lincoln sought to appease the states that had seceded by endorsing a constitutional amendment to make slavery permanent in the 15 states where it then existed. He even offered to help the Southern states run down fugitive slaves.

In 1862, Lincoln wrote Horace Greeley that if he could restore the Union without freeing one slave he would do it. The Emancipation Proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863, freed only those slaves Lincoln had no power to free -- those still under Confederate rule. As for slaves in the Union states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri, they remained the property of their owners.

As for "terrorists," no army fought more honorably than Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Few deny that.

The great terrorist in that war was William Tecumseh Sherman, who violated all the known rules of war by looting, burning and pillaging on his infamous March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah. Sherman would later be given command of the war against the Plains Indians and advocate extermination of the Sioux.

"The only good Indian is a dead Indian" is attributed both to Sherman and Gen. Phil Sheridan, who burned the Shenandoah and carried out Sherman's ruthless policy against the Indians. Both have statues and circles named for them in Washington, D.C.

If Martin thinks Sherman a hero, he might study what happened to the slave women of Columbia, S.C., when "Uncle Billy's" boys in blue arrived to burn the city.

What of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, at whose request McDonnell issued his proclamation? What racist deeds have they perpetrated of late?

They tend the graves of Confederate dead and place flags on Memorial Day. They contributed to the restoration of the home of Jefferson Davis, damaged by Hurricane Katrina. They publish the Confederate Veteran, a magazine that relates stories of the ancestors they love to remember. They join environmentalists in fighting to preserve Civil War battlefields. They do re-enactments of Civil War battles with men and boys whose ancestors fought for the Union. And they defend the monuments to their ancestors and the flag under which they fought.

Why are they vilified? Because they are Southern white Christian men -- none of whom defends slavery, but all of whom are defiantly proud of the South, its ancient faith and their forefathers who fell in the Lost Cause.

Undeniably, the Civil War ended in the abolition of slavery and restoration of the Union. But the Southern states believed they had the same right to rid themselves of a government to which they no longer felt allegiance as did Washington, Jefferson and Madison, all slave-owners, who could no longer give loyalty to the king of England.

Consider closely this latest skirmish in a culture war that may yet make an end to any idea of nationhood, and you will see whence the real hate is coming. It is not from Gov. McDonnell or the Sons of Confederate Veterans.


Australia: Why Victoria's feminist police chief fled her post

Political correctness is a magic shield for its practitioners -- but utterly useless. She once took part in a "gay pride" march, but being of any use during a major emergency was beyond her. Comment below by Andrew Bolt

Christine Nixon was hired as our police chief not because she was a great leader. She was hired first of all because of her politics - and with the added advantage of her gender - and on Black Saturday it showed. Showed disastrously. As she was hired, so she failed, in an emblematic indictment of these Days of Seeming, not Doing.

To be brutally honest, she seems to have panicked. When this burning state needed saving through action, not group hugs, she realised she was useless. Unneeded. And so she fled, first to her office, where she hid for 90 minutes doing unrelated paperwork, and then, minutes after being warned many people would die, to a restaurant. “I had to eat!” she’s protested.

So as Kinglake burned, she went to dinner. And by the time she pushed away her plate, Marysville was in ashes, too, and most of Black Saturday’s 173 victims were dead.

A telling detail: in this hour or more she spent dining with friends, Nixon’s phone rang precisely once. I suspect that after years of her leadership, her colleagues had come not to rely on her in a crisis.

You may have already heard some of the excuses made for Nixon, mostly by Age and ABC Leftists who see in her disgrace a blow to their wider agenda.

Her astonishing - and admitted - failure to do her duty at the time her citizens needed her most is waved aside as good delegating, or a cool que sera, sera fatalism about the fires, or a prudent decision to let busy men get on with it. Besides, it’s not as if people died for her diet, right?

That such excuses can be made shows not just that people tend to defend sides rather than principles, or images above reality.

It’s frightening to have to explain why a police chief should be at her post, rather than in a restaurant, when people are dying by the score and her officers are trying to save the rest.

But those inclined to excuse Nixon should know she was not just chief commissioner of police on that day. She was also charged under the Emergency Management Act with helping the Police Minister co-ordinate the response of all emergency services to the disaster.

Yet she did not do that job, or seem to even feel any instinctive need to do something, anything, to help in that hour for which all her experience, and all the greatest police traditions, had presumably prepared her.

It’s not just that she went to dinner. Read on its website the bushfire royal commission’s brutal expose of Nixon’s serial failures.

She admitted under cross-examination that she did not attend the State Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre until noon on Black Saturday, despite knowing the fires were already out of control on a day the Government warned would be “as bad a day as you can imagine”.

Not once did she check if police had fulfilled their formal responsibility to issue warnings to towns in the path of the fires.

From 1.30pm to 3pm, she actually left the SERCC and retired to her office to clean up paperwork, neither seeking nor receiving in those 90 minutes a single briefing or call on the fires. Nor did she call any police in the fire zones to check their wellbeing, ask for news or offer help.

She did not call the Premier once, even to discuss - as is her job - declaring a state of emergency.

She did not call in her Deputy Commissioner in charge of disasters, Kieran Walshe, and he himself - perhaps following his boss’s example - did not turn up at work until nightfall, and only to give a press conference.

She failed to check that every regional commander in the fire-prone areas was at their post, and to this day does not know if they were.

It was as if she were a mere spectator. Not once did she seem to actually do anything to help. And it got worse.

On returning to the emergency headquarters at 3.30pm, Nixon did not ask for another briefing on the fires, even though she says she heard the staff say: “This is looking terrible; there are many more fires.”

“I should have, but I didn’t,” she told the commission, explaining that everyone seemed “very busy” and “carrying out their responsibilities”. They acted. She watched. And was treated as a mere watcher, too.

Her senior officials didn’t bother to tell her that nursing homes and hospitals were being evacuated in Neerim South and near Bunyip. She also didn’t check how police planned to protect fans at a country music festival at threatened Whittlesea. Nor did she ask for or read the police log in the room that noted what her officers were battling to do.

“It sounds rather passive, Ms Nixon,” the startled counsel assisting the bushfire commission exclaimed.

At 5pm, the fire service chiefs did at last brief the paralysed Nixon, warning her the fires seemed about to burn Strathewen, and there was a “real potential for people to lose their lives”. Worse, a change of wind later that evening threatened Kinglake and other towns and “we were facing a disaster”.

The Police Minister had been called in to help co-ordinate the effort. It was now about 5.30pm. And what did Nixon decide to do at this moment of crisis, with lives to save? She asked an Assistant Commissioner, Steve Fontana, to brief the Police Minister in her place while she went out to dinner.

She deserted her post. And didn’t return that night, not even after hearing whole towns had been destroyed.

Nixon has tried to mislead the royal commission, in my opinion, about how profoundly she betrayed her duty. She did not tell it she’d actually gone to a restaurant, and implied instead she’d stayed at home, keeping in touch.

She denied she’d had another appointment that night, saying only she’d “had a meal” and “was obviously listening to the radio ... and watching television”. Asked if she’d had email and web access, she said: “Yes.”

But presumably not while you were at the restaurant, Christine. You weren’t properly monitoring anything then but the menu.

I cannot think of a worse failure of duty by an Australian police commissioner than this. She did leave that job just days after the fire, but why hasn’t the Premier dumped her as head of the Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, saying such a failure of leadership could not go unsanctioned?

But that’s Nixon’s luck. She’s long been protected in this town, thanks to her socialising, her politics, her gender, her charm and her cultivating of influential friends. Her seeming has saved her, when her performance should have sunk her. And from the very start.

She was hired from the NSW force not because she’d succeeded, but because she seemed fresh, honest - and an agent of fashionable feminist change. She came vowing not to Uphold the Right, as is the police motto, but to “keep the peace”, she said. To negotiate, to be “non-deferential, anti-authoritarian and collegiate”.

This is the sweet seeming she promised. The reality, though, is that we got a feminised and demoralised force that too often surrenders the streets to mobs. One that excused away the rise in violent crime; failed to stop a gangland war until 27 people were killed; lowered physical tests to shoehorn in more and weaker women; and let the force dress like Sloppy Joe, undeserving of respect.

And in Nixon we got a chief commissioner who didn’t just blow $40 million on a dud IT system or lead a team riven by hatreds, but one who cuddled her Labor masters, hid the truth on ethnic crime, and wrongly claimed her freebie flight to the US was given by Qantas to her husband.

So she proved useless on the night she was needed most? When the times called for action? We reap what we sow.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


9 April, 2010

Britian joins the internet censors: Digital Economy Bill could see Google blocked, Wikileaks shut down

Fortunately, the bill is unlikely to get through the House of Lords. They are very valuable as defenders of British liberties

ILLEGAL downloaders could soon be banned from using the internet for life after a controversial bill was passed in the UK's Lower House of Parliament.

Sky News reported the Digital Economy Bill aims to stop people from illegally downloading copyrighted material from the internet, but critics argue it could have far greater powers and be used to censor and block free speech by ruling politicians.

The bill was rushed through the legislature before the dissolution of Parliament next Monday, ahead of next month's national election.

It was passed by 189 votes to 47 after concessions were agreed that saw the government drop a clause that allowed it sweeping powers to block sites.

But the amendment to another clause means that it could still be possible to block a site, if court approval was given.

Lawmakers who opposed the bill said it was right to do something about illegal downloads but that the new powers were too far-reaching.

One suggested that a search engine even as huge as Google could potentially be blocked.

Technology blogs claimed that the law would be way off the mark.

Techcrunch's Mike Butcher said: "In trying to support the old music industry models and tackle illegal file-sharing, the #DEBill, as it's known on Twitter, is poised to produce a new culture.

"That of legal letters from music industry bodies to (Internet Service Providers), bewildered householders and, no doubt, a manner of internet companies."

He argued that valuable sites such as Wikileaks, which carries copyrighted work, could be shut down, blocking the release of information that it was in the public's interest to know.

And paidContent:UK said: "The bill may have had a few parts stripped out and it may even be a damp squib. But the remaining 76-page Bill is still a wide-ranging piece of media and technology reform."

The Labour Party's former digital engagement minister Tom Watson earlier warned of a "catastrophic disaster", with potentially innocent people being cut off because they lived in the same building as illegal downloaders.

"It might be that a Wi-Fi network is being used in a household. You might have a parent who pays for the broadband connection and their children are illegally downloading," he said.

"The assumption in the current wording is that that parent has authorised the child to infringe copyright."


The negligent British police again

A girl of four was saved by her coat after being savaged by a police dog in a park. And no repentance by the police, apparently

The German Shepherd, being exercised by an off-duty officer, chased Erika Carter De Freitas Galiano, bit her arm and dragged her to the ground. It was only her thick pink padded coat which saved her from serious injury from the dog’s powerful jaws.

She was taken to hospital with a two and a half inch long bruise on her right arm and is on antibiotics because the animal’s teeth pierced her skin. The incident has left Erika so frightened of dogs that she won’t now even be in the same room as the family’s puppy.

Erika’s mother Kerry Carter, 24, said: ‘We were walking home from a family meal and Erika started running through the park. ‘I saw a man with a dog, but didn’t think they were a threat. ‘I glanced away and then heard a scream, I looked back and Erika was on the floor screaming. ‘The man said something to the dog then went over to Erika and was hugging her as she was curled up on the ground.

‘I was so shocked. I asked him why he had the dog off the lead and he said: “I’m a police officer, this is a police dog”.

‘You never expect a person in a position of responsibility to have a dangerous dog off a lead in a children’s park like that. ‘This is what this dog was brought up and trained to do. He said he thought there was no one there and it was the evening, so it would be safe. ‘But it was 7pm on Easter Sunday, of course people are going to be around. ‘He was very apologetic, but the damage had already been done.

‘If this was a normal person’s dog it would have been put down, but all the police have done is take the dog out of active duty.’

David Mills, 55, who witnessed the attack, said: ‘The dog flew straight towards the little girl, bit her arm and dragged her to the ground. She was screaming.’

Miss Carter added: ‘It is an awful thing for my daughter to go through and has had a terrible effect on her. ‘She won’t be in the same room as our puppy, Tia, and is scared of dogs. It is very distressing and has been a horrible ordeal.

‘This dog has been trained to attack, it just happened to be a child running past, not a criminal. If I had known it was a police dog I would never have let my daughter go into the park. ‘I think the law should be changed so off-duty dogs have to be marked by wearing a vest or something.’

Essex Police’s professional standards department is investigating the attack. A spokesman for the force said the German Shepherd would remain off duty during the inquiry. He added: ‘It is normal practice for handlers to exercise their dogs off the lead while off duty.’


Congressman Should Know Better than to Compare Tea Party Attendees to Klansmen, Black Leader Says

Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network and frequent speaker at tea party rallies, says Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)'s recent comparison of tea party rally participants to members of the Ku Klux Klan is baseless.

What's more, Project 21's Borelli notes, Cohen should know better, as he himself suffered similar charges during his last primary election campaign.

Borelli said: "Representative Cohen's comments seem to be the norm these days in the effort to dispatch anyone opposing the progressives' big-government agenda. The goal of partisans such as Cohen is obviously to demonize and discredit ordinary citizens - people who attend rallies, town hall meetings, make phone calls and visit their representatives with the simple, legitimate concern of wanting to preserve their liberty."

"The tea party movement is making a positive difference for the direction of our country in a manner that would make our Founding Fathers proud, and the derogatory comments targeting these freedom-loving citizens really only shames those hurling them," added Borelli. "And it is especially odd that Representative Cohen was the one hurling the mud this time. Two years ago, he suffered through an opponent publicly comparing him to a Klansman. He certainly must not have enjoyed that. Is Cohen that tone-deaf that he is willing to immediately turn around and use the same vitriol against others?"

Borelli continued: "Let's not forget that none of the racial allegations made against tea partiers the weekend of the Obamacare vote have yet been corroborated by video or audio. Representative Cleaver, who initially charged he was spat upon, has even begun to distance himself from his allegation."

While appearing on "The Young Turks" radio show on Sirius XM satellite radio April 1, Cohen said tea party rally participants "are, kind of, without robes and hoods" and "against any type of diversity." He later suggested the motivation behind the tea parties are not necessarily issues but "to be against Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel and the different people." He additionally called the sight of people protesting on the U.S. Capitol grounds on the day of the Sunday Obamacare vote in the House of Representatives "a very sad scene on America." The interview can be viewed on YouTube at http://tw0.us/A7W.

Cohen represents a majority-black congressional district in Memphis. In 2008, Nikki Tinker, a primary opponent, ran television ads that placed a photo of Cohen next to one of a Klansman. Tinker based the implication against Cohen on the fact that, as a member of the Center City Commission, Cohen once voted against exhuming the body of the late Confederate General (and KKK founder) Nathan Bedford Forrest from Forrest Park in Memphis.


Chile: Court custody ruling violated lesbian’s rights

Children deserve a chance at normality. To burden them with a peculiar parent just makes life harder for them. It's usually an article of faith that the best interests of the child come first

Chile's Supreme Court has been rebuked for a ruling in which a woman lost custody of her children because she was living with her lesbian partner. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said the ruling was a violation of the woman's human rights.

In 2004, the court ordered Karen Atala to hand over her three daughters to her estranged husband. The court argued that the girls could be psychologically damaged if they stayed in a same-sex household. Karen Atala lost custody of her children in May 2004.

She took her case to the IACHR in November the same year. In its findings, which have now been made public, the commission said that "the Chilean state had violated Karen Atala's right to live free from discrimination". The IACHR, which is an autonomous body of the Organisation of American States (OAS), called on the Chilean state to make reparations.

It also urged the government to take steps to adopt "legislation, policies and programmes" to prohibit and eradicate discrimination based on sexual orientation.

One of Ms Atala's lawyers, Jorge Contesse, said she had not been seeking to regain custody of her children. "She doesn't want her daughters to go through everything they went through six years ago," Mr Contesse told the BBC.

Ms Atala's aim, he said, was to make sure the government took steps towards ending discrimination against sexual minorities. "Chilean society is much less conservative than we think," Mr Contesse said. "It is the Chilean authorities, the Chilean elites that sometimes think that this is a very conservative, a very Catholic country."

The government of Sebastian Pinera, who took office in March, has indicated that it will accept the IACHR's recommendations. "The government is not going to discriminate against anyone based on their ethnic origin, religion, or sexual orientation," said spokeswoman Ena von Baer.

During the election campaign, Mr Pinera said that the rights of all people should be protected, "whatever their sexual orientation".

Gay rights groups in Chile say the IACHR's findings are an opportune moment for the president to make good on this promise, says BBC Mundo correspondent Rodrigo Bustamante.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


8 April, 2010

The Marketing of Evil

“The Marketing of Evil” is the title of one of the most important books of our day. When David Kupelian wrote it several years ago he caused many to understand that the breakdown of the family, the toxic culture, the slow chipping away at the moral fabric of our nation do not happen by accident. They happen because there are those who are intent on destroying a Judeo-Christian worldview and the goodness that goes along with it.

As we face this ugly truth, the good news is that Kupelian has written a sequel to help us “understand and overcome the destructive forces that are transforming America”. His new book, “How Evil Works” is essential for anyone who seeks to promote what is good. But be careful: sometimes the evil is “out there” – and sometimes it is in our own hearts. If you start feeling a bit uncomfortable as you read, it might be time to drop to your knees.

Kupelian writes: “Increasingly, Americans are forsaking their traditional faiths of Christianity and Judaism in favor of witchcraft and other pagan or New Age practices, while angry, in-your-face atheist manifestos top bestseller lists. Meanwhile, today’s culture of sexual anarchy manifests ever new and disturbing syndromes – same-sex marriage, people attempting to surgically morph into the opposite gender, pedophiles and polygamists striving to ride the gay-rights bandwagon to acceptance, and an epidemic of female schoolteachers sexually preying on their students.”

It’s time we discover just how we’ve become so accepting of the manifestation of evil around us. Could it be that our silence and casual acceptance are also evil? You’ve heard it said, “Where is the outrage?” But when I reflect on how Christ wept over the lost and the hurting, I also wonder, “Where is the heartbreak?”

It starts with you - by asking Christ to first examine your own heart, to try your thoughts, to reveal your own “wicked ways”. Jesus was very clear about confronting our own sins first. And, because we are all fallen creatures, we have to confess them every day. Each morning in order to fight my human tendency to take the easy path of cultural compliance, I ask God to forgive me, strengthen me with his spirit, and fill my heart with love for him and others. The only way to be strong enough to battle evil is to start with a contrite heart and replace seflish desires with the compassion of Christ. I must fight for truth not only because it secures freedom for me and my family, but because it secures freedom for the very ones who oppose and hate me. I must love them enough to endure the ridicule and the hatred they blindly spew my way.

Kupelian offers bold and wise advice as another critical step in overcoming evil: We need to reach the “decent but confused people” that have been seduced by the lies. And we do this by first recognizing that “our war is really just a huge confrontation between deception and truth.”

Speaking and living truth – boldly, consistently and with compassion – is the key to victory. It was Christ himself who said as recorded in John 8:32, “…the truth will make you free.”

“How Evil Works” is rich in the profound lessons of history and of today. Kupelian’s prescriptions for the victory of goodness are precise and brilliant – and must be read in their entirety.

A warning you will see woven throughout the book is how “those who are addicted to power are intent on keeping us off balance” in their effort to make us our own worst enemies - to resort to hostility and hate toward our cultural captors. Kupelian admonishes, “Don’t fall for it. There’s a world of difference between righteous indignation and seething hatred. One is based on a strong sense of justice; the other is self-destructive, out-of-control rage. If we can rise above the temptation to hate, we’re left with a truly righteous passion to right the wrongs in our beloved country.”


Lazy British police again

Thieves! Who cares? They are only interested in political crime. Preach what the Bible says about homosexuality and they will be after you like a shot

When two thieves stole from his store and made off on foot, shopkeeper Graham Taylor gave chase. As he pursued the thieves he encountered a policeman and asked for his help. But he was angered and bemused when the officer told him: 'You had better call the police.'

But when Mr Taylor did call the police, the officers who were assigned to deal with the theft missed the radio call - because they were celebrating at a colleague's retirement party.

Last night senior officers launched an investigation into the incident after Mr Taylor lodged a complaint.

The farce began when Mr Taylor, 50, chased the two youths from his newsagents in Hessle, East Yorkshire, after they stole a bottle of whisky and a bottle of Baileys liquor. He followed the pair on foot before running back, locking up his store and jumping in his car as the teenagers made off into a nearby cemetery.

As he circled the perimeter of the graveyard, Mr Taylor spotted the officer sitting in a marked patrol car and went over to ask for his assistance. 'I couldn't believe what he said when I asked for help,' Mr Taylor said. 'First he asked if I had reported it to the police, then asked if I had rang the police. 'He was the police; was I not reporting it there and then? Why do I need to ring the police to tell them when I told a police officer.'

Mr Taylor said he then called 999 and was assured that a patrol had been dispatched to try to arrest the thieves. But it later transpired the officers in question missed the radio call as they were celebrating a colleague's retirement party inside the police station.

Mr Taylor claims he went to the police station and found a car adorned with brightly-coloured balloons and could hear shouts and cheers coming from inside the building. He said he rang the buzzer to attract the attention of a policeman but was greeted by a Community Support Officer. Mr Taylor asked what was being done about the theft from his shop but the officer had no idea what he was talking about.

He said: 'The whole thing just became more and more farcical as we went on, it was like a scene from Carry on Constable. 'I have been raised to respect the police and the work they do. It is a really hard job and I appreciate that, but I was miserably let down when I needed them.'

The shopkeeper has since made an official complaint to Humberside Police and said he has been told by an inspector that 'mistakes have been made'. A spokesman for Humberside Police confirmed an investigation was being conducted by the Professional Standards Branch. She said: 'It is disappointing to hear that Mr Taylor feels he was given a poor service from Humberside Police.'

Police are still seeking two suspects in connection with the thefts.


Fathers matter to daughters too

Two years ago, I recounted in this newspaper the painful experience of growing up without a father. I reflected on my earliest memory, at the age of three, of 'my daddy', Donald Traynor, handing me play bricks, bending to kiss me on the head - and then walking out right of my life.

It was the winter of 1967, he was 49 and I never saw or heard from him again. For years, I dwelled on this rejection. Was he ever sad that he wasn't with me at Christmas or on my birthdays? Or did he simply never give me a second thought?

I grew up in a small Cotswold village with two half-brothers and a half-sister. Their father had died of cancer several years before our mother, Elizabeth Poulton, met and married my father. Her new husband, Donald, was said to be a charming, intelligent man who designed aircraft for a living. He became stepfather to my siblings - Bernard, Gerald and Teresa - and I arrived shortly after.

The relationship between my father and mother deteriorated quickly. They had very different personalities, and, I was later to discover, there were unpleasant and intolerant elements to his character which were untenable to my liberal, fair-minded mother. So my father packed up and left, never to return. He walked out of my life and contributed nothing to it - emotionally, physically or financially. He left without a trace.

I didn't even have a photo of him. There were no pictures of him - not even from the wedding or any other family occasion. I was left to grow up conjuring images of a faceless father. Throughout my childhood, his absence was a source of growing curiosity to me.

Our father, from all accounts, had been a larger-than-life character. I speculated about which, if any, of my traits were his genetic gifts to me. Did we look alike? Did we share the same sense of humour? Was he queasy at the sight of blood? Did bad manners infuriate him as much as they do me?

You might wonder why I didn't just ask my mother these questions, but she was ill with kidney disease during my childhood and we seldom, if ever, talked about my father. I feared that it would add to her poorly condition if I were to burden her with any of my numerous questions about him.

Occasionally, Bernard and Gerald would make comments about my father. They said he prized intelligence above all else and would reward them with pocket money if they could answer world knowledge questions he set them. Other than that, he made little impression on them as a stepfather.

My mum lost her battle with ill health when I was 11, and my older siblings - and their partners - assumed responsibility for me. I was 18 when I left for London and began my journalistic life working for a series of local newspapers in Central and West London.

As a young woman, I did not have my first serious relationship until I was 21 - which was old by the standards of my friends. I was always suspicious of men, never fully trusting their motives.

I met my long-term partner, Stephen, in the mid-nineties and found myself thinking more and more about my father after I became a parent myself. Shaye was born in 1997, and almost at once I felt a strong urge to find her grandfather.

Despite my achievement as a mother, and professional successes as a journalist and broadcaster, I never felt a complete person. And so it was that I spent the next decade searching for my father. I trawled the internet, library records, phone entries and county and electoral registers. I contacted missing person associations, including the Samaritans and Find-a-Parent. All put out bulletins to aid my search, but none bore fruit.

Little did I know that my father had died of cancer in a Leeds hospital 16 days after Shaye's birth, at the age of 79. Then, in 2007, my sister-in-law, Hilary, discovered his death notice while searching an ancestry website for family connections.

My quest had come to a close - and there was no happy ending. After that, it seemed the trail had gone cold - until one day in the autumn of 2008 when I received a note via an internet networking site. I did a double-take when I saw the sender's name: Stephen Glenn Traynor. He was my half-brother from my father's side, and eight years my senior. My mother had mentioned that my father had children from a previous marriage, but she knew nothing about them. Now here was one of them, telling me that he had been searching for me for several years, aware of my existence and keen to make contact.

Then it transpired that Stephen had a sister, Christine, who was 49. Suddenly, I had two new siblings. My joy was tangible. What I couldn't know was that this email would herald the start of a painful, but ultimately healing, journey.

Stephen told me that after he had left my mother, my father had briefly returned to Leeds — then he had upped and left for Australia. And just as he had cut off all contact with me, so he had abandoned Stephen and Christine — failing to support them or make contact during his time away. Donald Traynor remained in Australia for a decade before settling first in the U.S. and then Canada, where, in a nod to his talents as a jazz musician, he started a music school.

He returned to Britain in the Eighties, penniless, and lived close to Stephen and his family in Leeds, until his death from prostate cancer.

Our father, from all accounts, had been a larger-than-life character. He enjoyed a glass of whisky and was nicknamed General Patten by his neighbours because of his statesman-like presence and dominant manner. I learned that he had a bossy streak — a fact I found remarkable given that I had been nicknamed Bossy Sossy at primary school.

Then the details become a little fuzzy. Stephen recalled our father mentioning that he was a foundling baby who was left on the steps of the Swan Hotel in Harrogate (which Agatha Christie had famously fled to in the Twenties), and raised by the spinster owner. Despite exhaustive checks, I have been unable to confirm this story.

I do know that my father attended Harrogate Grammar School and went on to study music at the Birmingham School of Music. From there, he trained as an aircraft designer, completing his training with the RAF in Fairford, Gloucestershire. He had clearly been a highly motivated and ambitious man: professionally if not personally.

He also appeared to have been a serial husband. It emerged that long before I came along, and long before the marriage that produced Stephen and Christine, there had been an early marriage, in the Forties, which produced a daughter. Inevitably, Donald abandoned her, too.

He divorced each of his three wives, and abandoned each successive family, before re-marrying and creating more children. I was the result of his final marriage. My eldest half-sister is 62. She was born as the result of that first marriage in the Forties — and until recently, she didn’t even know I existed.

Her account of my father’s life places him as an orphan, rather than a foundling, adopted at birth by the owners of the Swan Hotel in Harrogate and left a sizeable inheritance by his adoptive parents, which he frittered away during his travels around the world.

Whichever version is correct, what remains abundantly clear is that our father was abandoned by his biological parents — a template he was set to repeat over and over again with his own children.

While I have sought to understand his actions as a consequence of his past, my eldest half-sister — so I am informed through her daughter, since she does not want to ‘rake up the past’ — remains unforgiving. She is angered by our father’s reckless attitude towards his inheritance, and that he did not put any money aside for his children.

At 45, I have accepted that his absence has wrought its share of emotional problems, and has had far-reaching consequences for me. According to psychologists, fathers act as ‘first boyfriends’ to their young daughters, and the relationship between them serves as a blueprint for the child’s future romantic experiences.

It is no coincidence, then, that my relationships with men have been ill-matched at best, and downright dangerous at worst. Almost all of my romantic attachments have been with men who were emotionally deficient, and frequently verbally and physically abusive. They all ended — and usually badly. My last serious relationship, with my daughter’s father, came to an end in May 2000.

I have chosen to be single and celibate since. According to a psychologist that I saw for several years, I have ‘failed to maintain a mature, stable relationship with a partner because of man issues’. She was in no doubt that they were inextricably linked to the lack of paternal care in my life.

The recent revelations about my father, despite the fact that they have painted him in a bleak light, have, nonetheless, given me a feeling of wholeness. Rather than only knowing my maternal heritage, I have been blessed with a fuller knowledge of who I am, and where I come from, warts and all. For years, I had told myself that it didn’t matter whether I knew about my father or not.

But that was only a defence mechanism to protect myself. It does matter. I am the result of two people. My father is 50 per cent of my DNA — and the importance of that cannot be underestimated.

Our fractured society has already created millions of half-siblings who have lost touch with each other — and the figures look set to increase, exponentially, over the next decade.

Now, I fear for the one in five children growing up in fatherless homes, because I know the long, dark journey that lies ahead for them.

I spent decades in self-destruct mode, battling with depression, eating disorders and alcoholism. It’s hard not to blame it all on my father’s absence. I now know that I am the daughter of a philandering, irresponsible, selfish man. But unlike my father, I accept responsibility for my actions and work strenuously not to repeat the way he chose to live his life.

So, despite being separated from my daughter’s father, I make it a priority to take her to see him several times a month at his London home. My child’s need for her Daddy is uppermost. I was reminded of this when I glimpsed, for the first time in 45 years, a picture of my father, given to me by my half-brother Stephen. I was stunned by my physical likeness to him. We share the same wide smile, identical apple-round cheeks and a similar mischievous glint in our eyes.

His thinning hair gleamed with the same red shade as mine. I have met Stephen and Christine and their families on several occasions, and we are affectionate with each other, despite being virtual strangers. Our other half-sister wants nothing to do with any of us. I suppose we serve only as a reminder of her unhappiness.

How do I feel about my father now? I think the best description is ‘calm indifference’. I have spent too many years raging about the man, and I’m not prepared to do that to myself any more.

I have told my daughter very little about her grandfather, and sometimes I wonder what would have happened had I had a son. Might he somehow have been infused with those genes that inspired my father to abandon three families, one after the other?

No matter how I try to rationalise my father’s actions, a nagging voice persists. It asks, over and over again, how can a parent leave a child without so much as a backward glance?


Call for civil action over racial slurs in Western Australia

One guess that the word "Boong" (Australian slang for an Aborigine, somewhat equivalent to the famous American "n-word". The "oo" is pronounced as in "book") is the target here -- amazing how they manage not to mention that though. What about "Abo"? To me it is just an abbreviation but some people get all righteous about it. There are a lot of Aborigines in Western Australia and they do have a high rate of incarceration

Interesting that vilification is already a crime but that is not enough for the bureaucrats, apparently. They want more of the action. It looks like they think the coppers are too lenient. Cops have a lot to put up with from blacks so they probably see as fair comment some things that ivory tower bureaucrats would get all hot and bothered about

The Equal Opportunity Commission wants to have the power to launch civil action against people or organisations who have racially vilified an individual in a public place.

Laws allowing civil action for racial vilification passed the Lower House in 2007 but the legislation never passed through the Upper House. It is already a criminal offence and, in at least one incident, it has been taken to court in Western Australia.

Commissioner Yvonne Henderson says racial vilification can have a major impact. "People feeling a sense of injustice and exclusion and it can lead to social problems further down the track."

The President of the Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia, Maria Saracini, supports the call. "It deters or is aimed to deter people from engaging in conduct which is considered unlawful or un-Australian."

Yvonne Henderson says she would like a racial vilification bill to be placed on the parliamentary notice paper once again. She says people who have been the subject of racial discrimination should be able to lodge a complaint with the Commission.

"Well it would have to be in a public place. It could be a sign, it could be a poster, it could be a sticker, it could be words spoken. "It could be words broadcast by means of a P.A. system. It would have to be in some kind of public place which could include a workplace."

The Government and Opposition have been unavailable for comment.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


7 April, 2010

Why a Town in Iowa Sought to Abolish Good Friday

When a town in Iowa seeks to rename Good Friday "Spring Holiday," you know America has problems

Those of us who affirm the Judeo-Christian values that have constituted the basis of America's values since before the founding of the United States expect such things on the two coasts. The West Coast and the East Coast (at least down to Virginia) have largely abandoned the God-based morality of the Declaration of Independence and all the Founders.

Yes, all the Founders. Even the so-called deists, while not theologically Christian, were ethical monotheists, i.e., strong affirmers of ethics rooted in the will of the Creator. As Steven Waldman, no conservative, writes in "Founding Faith," a book that has been praised by Left and Right, "(SET ITAL) Each (END ITAL) felt religion was extremely important, at a minimum to encourage moral behavior and make the land safe for republican government" (italics added).

We have, therefore, looked to the American "heartland" to keep the religious basis of American civilization alive. That is why, Iowa's history of "progressivism" notwithstanding, it was disconcerting to learn last week that the city of Davenport had announced it would rename Good Friday "Spring Holiday."

As reported by ABC News:

"Taking a recommendation by the Davenport Civil Rights Commission to change the holiday's name to something more ecumenical, City Administrator Craig Malin sent a memo to municipal employees announcing Good Friday would officially be known as 'Spring Holiday.'

"The Civil Rights Commission said it recommended changing the name to better reflect the city's diversity and maintain a separation of church and state when it came to official municipal holidays."

Given the importance of Good Friday to Christians, when news of the recommendation became public, there was a national as well as local outcry, and the recommendation was rescinded.

In explaining the recommendation, Tim Hart, the civil rights commission's chairman, said, "We merely made a recommendation that the name be changed to something other than Good Friday. Our Constitution calls for separation of church and state. Davenport touts itself as a diverse city and given all the different types of religious and ethnic backgrounds we represent, we suggested the change."

That the Davenport City Council did not endorse the commission's recommendation is important to note, but not significant. What is significant is that the civil rights commission and the city administrator of an American city -- a heartland city -- would recommend that Good Friday be replaced by the meaningless "Spring Holiday."

It is significant for these reasons:

1. There really is a war against Christianity.

Leftism functions as a secular religion, and its adherents understand that the major obstacle to the dominance of Leftist policies and values is traditional religion, specifically Christianity. With the demise of Christianity in Western Europe, Leftist ideas and values came to dominate that continent. America, the most religious industrialized democracy, remains the great exception.

2. Why not abolish Christmas?

If a religiously diverse population and the separation of church and state demand abolishing government recognition of Good Friday, why not treat Christmas similarly and rename it "Winter Holiday"? This was asked of Mr. Hart, the civil rights commission chairman. His response, in the words of ABC, shows the level of thought that is characteristic of the Politically Correct: "The commission, he said, discussed changing Christmas, but decided enough other religions celebrate Christmas too. Hart, however, could not name one. "

3. Civil rights organizations are not about civil rights.

The ACLU and other left-wing organizations that have noble sounding civil liberties and civil rights names have a problem similar to the one the March of Dimes had once polio was conquered: What to do now? Civil liberties and civil rights are extraordinarily well protected in America. If the ACLU and the innumerable civil rights commissions ceased to exist, and a few smaller and politically neutral groups took their place, civil liberties in America would benefit. As is obvious from the Davenport example, these groups do not really function as civil rights or civil liberties organizations. They are organizations that promote left-wing agendas. And no Leftist agenda is greater than minimizing the influence of Judeo-Christian religions, specifically Christianity, on American life.

4. Good Friday as an American holiday reminds Americans that this is a religious society.

Leftism opposes America's three great values -- what I call the American Trinity (see, for example, my video on the American Trinity at prageruniversity.com) -- "E Pluribus Unum," "Liberty" and "In God We Trust." The Left uses diversity and multiculturalism to undermine E Pluribus Unum ("From Many, One"). It substitutes equality (of result) for liberty, and the powerful state for the powerful free individual. And it seeks, perhaps above all, to replace "In God We Trust" with a secular society and secular values. If it had a motto, it might be "In Science (or Secularism) We Trust." The elimination of Good Friday as an American holiday is just one more such battle in this war.

5. Non-Christians offended by Good Friday as an American holiday are narcissists.

The Left tells us that non-Christians are offended by the government celebrating Good Friday. As a Jew, permit me to say that any non-Christian offended by Good Friday or Christmas gives new meaning to the word "narcissist." To seek to erase the name Good Friday is an exercise in self-centeredness and ingratitude that is jaw-dropping. We non-Christian Americans live in the freest society in human history; it was produced by people nearly every one of who celebrated Good Friday, and we have the gall to want to rename it?

6. PC (Political Correctness) should be renamed OTL (Offends the Left).

Most Americans will characterize the Davenport attempt to rename Good Friday "Spring Holiday" as Political Correctness. That it is. But the term itself is Politically Correct. Like everything PC, the term itself hides its true meaning, which is Leftism. Political Correctness is invariably produced by the Left. The term, therefore, should not be PC; it should be OTL, "Offends the Left." It is very unfortunate for America that it isn't. Americans would have much greater clarity as to the Second Civil War now taking place -- from San Francisco to Boston to, yes, Davenport, Iowa.


"Human rights" folly in Australia

A FUNNY thing happened in the nation's capital recently. ACT Supreme Court judge Richard Refshauge ordered the release of Gim Em Moh, a convicted criminal, after finding that the sentencing magistrate had failed to treat Moh with the "inherent dignity" he deserved as a human being under the ACT Human Rights Act.

Moh pleaded guilty to using fake credit cards and a fake driver's licence to buy electronic goods. In sentencing Moh, a Malaysian national, to six months' jail, magistrate Grant Lalor said that Moh "was turned loose to burgle the stores of Canberra with false credit cards" and "turned loose to rape and pillage the stores of Canberra".

Refshauge ordered Moh's release, claiming that sentencing obligations had not been met, and chastised the magistrate for his "exaggerated and extreme language". The judge said "anyone deprived of liberty must be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person". What was Lalor thinking when he said a fraudster and thief had behaved like a fraudster and thief? Moh must have fallen about laughing as he left Canberra not so much a convicted criminal as a victim of a human rights breach.

However, the real joke is on Refshauge. By treating colourful language as a breach of Moh's rights, the judge has unwittingly delivered a useful sermon, not on the inherent dignity of human beings but on the inherent folly of a human rights act.

Refshauge has demonstrated the irresistible seduction that happens when judges are given the chance to impose their personal preferences using a list of ambiguously worded "human rights". Barely a few years ago Refshauge was a hearty supporter of community views when it came to notions of justice.

In 2007, when he was the ACT director of public prosecutions, he told the ABC's Stateline program that sentences in the ACT were sometimes too lenient compared with other jurisdictions. He expressed concern about the trend of defendants opting for judge-alone trials in the hope of shorter sentences. "We do lose a sense of where [sic] the community thinks is a fair thing and that community involvement can be very important even though sometimes it means that the community comes to a view that's different from mine . . . But that's important," he said. "It is the community's decision."

When Refshauge was appointed to the Supreme Court in August 2008, a prescient blogger wrote: "He seemed to have his finger on the pulse as far as public sentiment was concerned. Let's hope he doesn't end up having the operation that all incumbent judges have had, where they lose all sense of what the community they are supposed to represent feels."

The Moh decision on March 26 suggests Refshauge has had that operation.

As DPP, Refshauge told a conference in 2007 that the HRA was no "rogues' charter. There have been no more acquittals or technical defeats for the prosecution than before the act, nor an express reliance on the act in ways that are different from the common law." As a judge, he has helped turn the HRA into a rogues' charter by relying on its fuzzy notions of dignity to release Moh, instead of merely using the statutory obligations under the ACT's sentencing laws.

Refshauge, who in October 2008 was alleged by a defendant to have fallen asleep during a boringly complex civil hearing, has certainly woken up to the alluring chance to defer to his own brilliant mind when defining a vague list of human rights. What was the naive blogger thinking? Community views? They don't get a look in when a judge is charged with defining what "inherent dignity" means when a criminal is being sentenced.

And here is the essential defect in a human rights act. At its core, it is anti-democratic, requiring unelected judges to answer a wide range of social and political questions once left to parliament. Previously, the Left relied on specific pieces of discrimination legislation to impose its "rights" agenda. A charter of rights is a more ambitious project. It empowers an elite cadre of unelected charter recruits to impose a broader ideological agenda that would have no hope of success under normal democratic processes. Even Frank Brennan, chairman of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, admitted that a charter is a "device for the delivery of a soft-Left sectarian agenda".

Those advocating a federal charter of human rights are keen to keep a lid on this simmering culture war. The midwives for the delivery of their agenda are not just unelected judges; Brennan's report also recommends a far more devious backdoor charter of rights where public servants will be required to exercise powers vested in them under any law in accordance with an overriding list of hazy "human rights".

As Margaret Kelly wrote on this page a few weeks ago, this is a "legal Trojan horse": unnamed bureaucrats behind closed doors will decide on highly contested human rights.

Kevin Rudd is no cultural warrior. But he is a canny politician. His government has announced that Brennan's recommended federal human rights act is "not a high priority". So you won't hear anything about it come election time. But if the Rudd government is re-elected we may see the Prime Minister staking out his position as an apparently sensible centrist by opting for Brennan's fallback position for bureaucrats.

You know the routine. Rudd can say that if he has enraged both the Left (which wants a full-scale charter) and the Right (which rejects a backdoor charter as equally anti-democratic), then he must be doing something right. Don't fall for that ruse. This is a culture war about how Australia should be governed.

Every chapter in the culture wars has its own orthodoxy. The orthodoxy surrounding a human rights act says empowering unelected judges and backroom bureaucrats to make fundamental social and political determinations is a benign process aimed at improving our human rights culture. And opponents should be treated as either mad or malevolent, or both. In fact, opponents are old-fashioned democrats who believe ordinary Australians are better trusted to make decisions about the country's future. Culture wars don't get more core than this one.


Australia: Another attack on jobs for women

Routine Leftist stupidity: First paid maternity leave and now enforced equal pay. If employers are forced to pay women more than they are worth as employees, the response may well be to hire men instead or cut back altogether

BUSINESSES could be forced to report every two years on what they are doing to reduce the widening gap between men's and women's pay.

And the Sex Discrimination Commissioner could get new powers to investigate alleged sex discrimination without waiting for a complaint.

The plans are two of the changes tipped for next month's Budget as the Rudd Government's response to a number of key inquiries into women's policy.

Despite it being almost 40 years since it became illegal to pay women less when they did the same work as men, the pay gap has not closed and is in fact growing. It now stands at 17.5 per cent, or $224 per week.

A major parliamentary report last year called for responsibility for reducing the pay gap to be taken off the federal bureaucracy and given to industrial umpire Fair Work Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard commissioned the parliamentary inquiry into pay equity and is driving change in the area.

Under the proposed changes, Fair Work Australia would research pay inequity in industries like childcare, aged care and the finance sector that have big pay gaps or poor pay for women. Its job would be to negotiate with employers on how the gaps would be reduced in four to five years.

It would achieve similar outcomes to key lawsuits that have found women in certain industries are being underpaid when their skills and the value of their work is compared with men working in jobs that require similar skill sets.

It is hoped the umpire would achieve increases in women's pay by negotiation and without lawyers becoming involved.

The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, which has responsibility for pay equity, is under review and its former director has not yet been replaced.

A review of EOWA has found it lacks power, is focused on getting businesses to report on equal employment rather than actually change their practices and that 4500 of the businesses employing more than 100 workers escape its survey net.

A separate Senate inquiry has looked at the effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act, calling for the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to get new powers to initiate inquiries.


Australia: Another useless affirmative action appointment

This makes Britain's Cressida Dick look efficient. Cressida only killed one innocent Brazilian electrician on the London underground

FORMER Victoria Police chief Christine Nixon has admitted she went home at 6pm on Black Saturday to go out for dinner with friends after she was told of the likelihood of deaths in the bushfires.

The Herald Sun reports her exit from the control centre was about five minutes after she was briefed about the possibility of loss of life from what became the worst bushfires in the state's history.

The former Victoria Police chief yesterday was questioned at the bushfires Royal Commission in her first appearance since the disaster, which claimed 173 lives on February 7 last year.

Asked who was in charge after she went home, Ms Nixon admitted it was still her job. "I wasn't in the premises, but I was still clearly in charge," she said.

Ms Nixon told the commission she had a meal and monitored radio, websites and took calls and text messages as the disaster unfolded. But last night she clarified her movements to the Herald Sun, saying she went home and then to a North Melbourne bistro for dinner with her husband and three friends and returned home later.

Ms Nixon, who was paid almost $380,000 a year as chief commissioner, was appointed to chair the Victorian Bushfire Recovery and Reconstruction Authority just four days after Black Saturday.

In evidence yesterday, the commission also heard:

MS Nixon did not speak to Premier John Brumby at all on Black Saturday.

SHE left an assistant commissioner to brief Police Minister Bob Cameron.

SHE did not consider declaring a state of disaster on the night of Black Saturday, despite the emerging numbers of deaths and loss of homes.

SHE did not request an updated briefing of the situation facing Victoria on returning to the Integrated Emergency Control Centre at 3pm, because "I didn't need to waste their time by getting another briefing."

SHE did not check whether adequate warnings were being given to towns lying in the path of the fires, because she had "assumed fire authorities had done so".

But Ms Nixon did admit she should have done better. She told the commission her husband had driven her from her office to the Integrated Emergency Control Centre at 3pm, where it was apparent the fires were escalating. Asked by counsel assisting the commission, Rachel Doyle, SC, if it was enough for the chief commissioner to assume that warnings were being given, Ms Nixon agreed it wasn't.

She said it was an "extraordinarily intense time" but said that was not an excuse. "There should have been a follow-up, and I should have done it," she said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


6 April, 2010

The hypocrisy of the British Left's hate-mongers

The Observer newspaper prides itself on its impeccable 'liberal' credentials. Indeed, the latest edition carries a splendid editorial in support of free speech.

Yet the very same paper splashed on its front page a vituperative attack on the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling, who had the audacity to suggest that perhaps people who run bed and breakfast establishments should have the right to decide who sleeps under their own roof.

Grayling's comments arose out of a story which this column carried last week about a B&B in Wokingham run by a devout Christian, who turned away a couple of gay men. For the record, I wrote that Susan Wilkinson should not have refused to accommodate Michael Black and John Morgan. In 2010, if you run a boarding house you must expect the occasional same-sex couples as guests.

I also went on to say that she was probably in the wrong business, although I condemned the fact that she had been investigated by the police for 'hate crime' and had received vile threats, including one to burn down her home.

Some of you emailed disagreeing with me, as is your prerogative. Readers argued that since this was Mrs Wilkinson's own home, she was entitled to pick and choose her guests. That's an argument I respect, even though I don't concur. It is a difference of view among friends, nothing personal.

Chris Grayling's opinion was in line with those of you who took me to task. He says that had Mrs Wilkinson been running a High Street hotel, she would have been in the wrong because discrimination is against the law. But since this was her home, different rules applied.

That is a perfectly respectable view to take. But Grayling's remarks were secretly taped and passed to The Observer, which decided that this was a major scandal, whose importance outweighed anything else which had happened in the world last week. It was cited as evidence that the entire Conservative Party is anti-gay.

The usual hysterical suspects queued up to demand Grayling's resignation. Hereditary Labour lackey Dame Ben Summerskill, the hate-mongering bigot who runs the homosexual pressure group Stonewall, predictably went ballistic. His tried-and-tested tactic is always to howl down and smear anyone who questions any aspect of his own selfish agenda. I've been on the receiving end often enough. It comes with the turf.

Even though I have been vocal in supporting civil partnerships and equal rights for gay couples in areas such as housing, health and pensions, I have been tarred as a 'homophobe' because I don't believe 'post-dusk social networking' in public toilets is a way to behave and think that adoptive children should be placed with a man and a woman wherever possible.

Self-styled 'liberals' are now trying to destroy the career of a decent politician simply for expressing a point of view which I would guess is held by at least half the population. Secret tape recordings, smear campaigns. These are the disreputable weapons of fascists, not liberals.

I have often argued in this column that those who force 'tolerance' down our throats are among the most intolerant bullies on Earth. They only tolerate opinions which chime with their own world view. Anyone who dissents must be traduced and punished. They enforce their beliefs with totalitarian ruthlessness and, under New Labour, often with the full support of the law.

Thus, old age pensioners who protest at a gay Pride rally find themselves arrested. Scottish firemen who refused orders to attend a similar event because homosexuality offends their religious devotion are fined and suspended from work.

Those who speak out against the fashionable Leftist agenda are not merely wrong, they are denounced as inherently evil.

Until the election campaign loomed, anyone who expressed even the mildest reservations about the uncontrolled level of immigration was trashed as 'BNP', 'Little Englander' or 'racist' - the guardianistas' favourite term of abuse.

Along with many of our other traditional liberties, New Labour has mounted a sustained assault on freedom of speech. The old idea of 'I abhor what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it' has been buried alive.

Even Conservative politicians are frightened of their own shadow, scared of uttering any criticism of the modern consensus around 'diversity' lest they be cast into the outer darkness.

But, as I wrote last week, 'diversity' and 'tolerance' is a one-way street. I am reliably informed there are gays-only boarding houses which exclude heterosexuals, but I have yet to hear of one being prosecuted for operating such a policy. Unlike Susan Wilkinson they have not been pilloried and threatened. Nor will they be. Nor should they be.

With the economic debate dominating the electoral landscape, it is easy to overlook the liberties we have lost over the past 13 years. Freedom of speech is precious and must be defended at all costs.

This odious campaign against Chris Grayling is a timely reminder of the nasty, vindictive, intolerant little country we have become under New Labour.


Victoria Cross hero refuses to shake British Prime Minister's hand

There is widespread animosity to Brown in the British armed forces because they were sent into battle with inadequate and unsafe equipment -- resulting in avoidable deaths

Johnson Beharry, Britain's highest decorated serving soldier, refused to shake Gordon Brown's hand in a protest during a state ceremony. The winner of the Victoria Cross said Mr Brown had repeatedly disrespected him, his uniform and the Armed Forces.

The Prime Minister has since written a letter to Lance Corporal Beharry in an attempt to make amends.

But L/Cpl Beharry said it was a personal, rather than political gesture, according to The Sun. He said that Mr Brown had not looked him or any other servicemen in the eye at a reception in Downing Street in November 2008. Then in Westminster Abbey during the Remembrance Day service last November he said the Prime Minister was “fidgeting and moving” during the two minute silence. “I've got head and back injuries that put me back in hospital in a lot of pain quite regularly, so if I could do it there's no reason he couldn't," he said. "It was very rude.

“I was absolutely furious with him. All that was going through my head was to knock him out. “So on the official line-up that time, I decided I'd get his attention and let him know how I felt. “When he offered his hand to me I just turned around and walked away. I wanted him to think about his actions and it worked.”

The NCO from the 1st Battalion, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment said Sarah Brown, the Prime Minister’s wife spotted his snub and wanted to invite him to No 10 to apologise, but no invitation materialised.

L/Cpl Beharry added: "This is nothing to do with the election, or who I want to be PM. My problem is with him personally, Gordon Brown the man."

Downing Street last night said Mr Brown was "seriously concerned" about L/Cpl Beharry's comments and had immediately written to him. His spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has the utmost respect and admiration for Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, who has shown great courage. "Mr Brown has written a personal letter to Johnson Beharry this evening to reassure him of his personal admiration and the great respect in which he is held by the whole country."


Women can go topless in Maine but men must not look

That seems to be the latest addled feminist thinking

About two dozen women marched topless from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park this afternoon in an effort to erase what they see as a double standard on male and female nudity.

A group of women and men who had shed their tops march down a Congress Street sidewalk from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park. They were promoting the freedom of women to be topless in public. The group attracted many amateur and professional photographers.

The women, preceded and followed by several hundred boisterous and mostly male onlookers, many of them carrying cameras, stayed on the sidewalk because they hadn't obtained a demonstration permit to walk in the street. About a thousand people gathered as the march passed through Monument Square, a mix of demonstrators, supporters, onlookers and those just out enjoying a warm and sunny early-spring day.

After the marchers reached Tommy's Park in the Old Port, some turned around and walked back to Longfellow Square, but most stayed and mingled in the park. Some happily posed for pictures.

Police said there were no incidents and no arrests – nudity is illegal in Maine only if genitals are displayed.

Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.

However, McDowell said she plans to organize similar demonstrations in the future and said she would be more "aggressive" in discouraging oglers.


Australian conservatives not backing net censorship plan

OPPOSITION leader Tony Abbott says there is insufficient evidence ISP filtering is effective enough to warrant his full support. Mr Abbott hasn't been convinced internet filtering can really trap net nasties as there was no substantial technical evidence.

"We certainly haven't seen the kind of technical assurances that we'd need so let's wait and see how this thing develops," he said in response to a question on the ABC's Q&A program last night. "I want to see protections in place. I don't want to see our kids exposed to really terrible stuff on the internet. On the other hand I don't want to see the internet destroyed by a filtering system that won't work so I guess for me it's a factual issue.

"Can you have a filtering system that is effective, that doesn't lull parents into a false sense of security and which doesn't in the process make the internet ineffective as the kind of marvellous research tool and educational device that it is? "I don't know at the moment ... I just don't know," Mr Abbott said.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, however, argues that his filter is "100 per cent accurate" following a live trial of the blocking process with nine ISPs.

Speaking on ABC Radio last week, he said: "The internet filter that we are proposing has been shown to be 100 per cent accurate - no over blocking, no under blocking. It's 100 per cent accurate because it targets a defined URL address ... it's an individual page within a website."

Joe Hockey is one opposition frontbencher who has made his views on the filter crystal clear. In his speech "In Defence of Liberty" at the Grattan Institute last month, the shadow treasurer expressed concern the government would take advantage of the filter to broaden its censorship reach.

"The government’s Internet filtering proposals is a scheme that is likely to be unworkable in practice. "But more perniciously it is a scheme that will create the infrastructure for government censorship on a broader scale. "Protecting liberty is about protecting freedoms against both known and future threats. Some may argue that we can surely trust a democratically elected government in Australia to never try to introduce more widespread censorship. I am not so sure," Mr Hockey said.

The federal government wants to introduce mandatory ISP filtering so online content rated RC or Refused Classification would be automatically blocked by ISPs. Legislation to force ISPs to start blocking the internet is expected to be introduced in the second half of this year.

Kevin Rudd is set to cast the online filtering net wider in the coming election, a major backflip from original plans unveiled at the previous polls.

But online experts say the definition of RC is too broad, highly subjective and can trap legal, adult material.

Labor first unveiled its internet filtering plan in the lead-up to the 2007 election and people hardly bat an eyelid since the emphasis was explicitly on the safety of children - not adults - on the internet. In his manifesto - Labor's Plan for Cyber safety – Senator Conroy, then Opposition spokesman for communications and IT, said: "Labor recognises that cyber safety today is an important part of children's overall health and well-being, yet it is one that is not being adequately addressed by the Howard government."

Senator Conroy laid-out a five-pronged plan to enhance cyber safety for children, including the introduction of a "clean feed" to stamp out net nasties. "(Labor will) provide a mandatory 'clean feed' internet service for all homes, schools and public computers that are used by Australian children.

"ISPs will filter out content that is identified as prohibited by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The ACMA 'blacklist' will be made more comprehensive to ensure that children are protected from harmful and inappropriate online material," he said at the time.

Today, Senator Conroy has his sights firmly set on stamping out RC content which he argues includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act. They are illegal to purchase in the physical world and such laws should extend to the virtual world, he says.

The Classification Board determines what type of content falls under RC and other ratings. At the moment, there are three content areas that guide the board's decisions - film, games and publications. There is no category for the internet and as such, videos on Google's YouTube site, for example, are judged as films. "As long as it's moving it's a film. Otherwise it's a publication," a Classification Board spokeswoman said.

(A public consultation process is underway to see whether there should be an R18+ classification category for computer games.)

However, Senator Conroy's definition of RC is not exhaustive and can be misleading as online free speech advocate Irene Graham points out in one of many examples. "RC material is a wide-ranging category of content which includes material deemed to 'offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults'," Ms Graham said.

The depiction of actual sexual activity between consenting adults involving lawful fetishes could also be classified as RC content and blocked by Senator Conroy's filter, she said.

Senator Conroy's office has admitted that the process is open to one's interpretation. Asked whether the government believes there are no grey areas when it comes to RC material online, a spokeswoman for Senator Conroy said: "State and federal attorney's-general decide on the guidelines for Refused Classification based on 'community standards'. "There will always be content that various individuals disagree with but importantly it is the Classification Board, an agency at arm's length from the government and representative of the community, which makes the decisions about individual cases," she said.

Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre executive director at the University of New South Wales, David Vaile, says the internet cannot be treated as a tangible product. "The internet has eroded the distinction between published and unpublished - where this meant central production and distribution, and a sale based revenue model," Mr Vaile said. "Now everyone can and is a publisher, and the volume is so high that humans cannot be afforded to classify it all. This means the classification model has broken for the internet."

Internet giant Google also believes the filtering regime is too broad. "(It) limits freedom of access to information. A broadly scoped mandatory filter could block important content which informs public debate on socially and politically controversial issues and we do not believe that governments have the right to block that information," a Google Australia spokeswoman said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


5 April, 2010

British Leftist wants to ban zoos

A Labour minister has called for zoos to be banned, describing them as cruel 'relics of the Victorian era'. Charities minister Angela Smith said it was wrong to keep animals in captivity and called for a debate on whether the Government should close all Britain's 400 zoos.

But last night colleagues slapped her down, saying her views were personal and not those of the Government.

Ms Smith is patron of the Captive Animals' Protection Society campaign group, and earlier this year she boycotted an event because it was being held at London Zoo. She said some zoos 'tried very hard' to treat their animals well, it was in general wrong to lock animals up when their natural instinct is to roam free in the wild. 'It's inappropriate to keep wild animals in captivity this way,' she said.

'You can understand the Victorians who were amazed by what they saw when these specimens were brought back, because they couldn't travel - but now they can travel and they can see animals in amazing films and television documentaries.

'You can't shut down every zoo tomorrow, but you've got to set a point in the future where we don't bring in any more animals, then set another point saying this is the last zoo.'

She said she had received letters from children upset at the conditions they have seen animals kept in. 'It's partly emotional for me,' she said. 'In my mind I can still see a polar bear with its head swinging from side to side in a concrete enclosure. It's time we moved on.

'I'd like to get a group of people sitting down and discuss how we can end zoos, but we've got to be practical about it - there are lots of animals in zoos at the moment. No one's saying they should all be destroyed.

'We've made a lot of progress recently. If you think back to some of the tatty pets' corners we used to have and the little zoo we used to have in Basildon, we've moved on. No one nowadays finds those acceptable.'

The Captive Animals' Protection Society believes zoos are part of the entertainment industry and questions the value of the conservation work they claim to do. Zoos very rarely release animals back into the wild, they say, and keep animals - such as giraffes - that are not endangered. They say it is wrong to teach children it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity.

But zoos hit back at Ms Smith's comments. David Field, director of London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo, said: 'To say stop bringing wild animals into zoos just shows Angela Smith’s incredible naivety about why zoos exist.

'Yes, we have species like giraffes that aren’t necessarily endangered, but when people come to see the giraffe they learn about all the incredibly endangered species in the next enclosure.

'It has to be a balance. We would never be able to get enough people into the zoo to be able to fund all this [conservation and scientific] work if all we were able to show was the less exciting animals.

'A zoo has an incredible power to connect you directly with nature. It’s unpredictable and different. The animals will react differently all the time. It may just be that an animal stands right next to a child – and that’s a life-changing moment.

'If I got the chance to see the FA Cup Final live at Wembley or on TV, I’d watch it live. In the same way I’d prefer to see the animals live at the zoo.'

Ms Smith's comments caused anger in Government, with animal welfare minister Jim Fitzpatrick accusing her of straying beyond her remit. He said: 'Angela doesn’t have responsibility for this area. We’re not going anywhere near zoos.'

Tonight a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: 'We have no plans to ban zoos. Animal welfare is of the highest importance and ministers have recently announced that they are minded to ban animals in circuses.'


An Easter People: The Centrality of the Resurrection

In recent weeks, some local governments and activist groups around the country have made headlines for attempting to remove Good Friday from municipal calendars in favor of the more ambiguous and inoffensive “Spring Holiday.” Not only is this evidence of the growing animosity towards the Christian religion in certain corners of American society, it also reveals a growing ignorance of (or disregard for) the immense significance of the Easter holiday to Christians. For the millions of Americans who profess Christ as their Risen Lord, Easter is not just another excuse to buy chocolate and send greeting cards.

This Sunday, Christians around the world will celebrate Easter as a memorial of Christ’s resurrection. If Christians are correct about what happened on the first Easter morning, then the resurrection is the single most important event in human history – much more than merely a “spring holiday.” If true, then in this single event Christ’s teachings were validated. He is the Son of God who came to earth as a sacrifice for our sins, and those who accept him by grace through faith will have eternal life. On the other hand, if the resurrection did not occur, then Christianity is a hoax and the claims of Christ were false.

According to some people today, however, whether or not the resurrection actually occurred is of little importance. Confronted with the bold truth claims of Jesus Christ – for example, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) – they try to obscure or avoid Christ’s declaration by saying they simply revere him as a great moral teacher, nothing more. If archeologists unearthed Jesus’ occupied tomb, it would not change their opinion of Christ at all.

Compare this mentality to that of the Apostle Paul: “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men…” (1 Cor. 15:17-19) Paul understood the centrality of the resurrection to the Christian faith. He avowed, “…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 14:15) If all we have is this earthly existence, the Apostle affirms “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Cor. 15:32) Paul understood clearly that ideas have consequences and that what we believe determines how we behave. If we believe that Christ is who he claimed to be and that he defeated death and the grave, we must live for him?in his presence, under his authority, and for his glory. But if all we have is this earthly existence, we might as well just live for ourselves because the grave is truly our final resting place.

In this age of relativism, tolerance, and inclusion, Christ’s claims of absolutism and exclusivity make many uncomfortable. It is deemed to be in poor taste to assert that there is only one way to God. Therefore, acknowledging Jesus as a great moral teacher is a convenient way of partially embracing him, while at the same time keeping him at a distance. But Jesus doesn’t allow us to have it both ways. Christ did not come to earth to merely usher in a new morality. C. S. Lewis explains, “…Christianity is not the promulgation of a moral discovery. It is addressed only to penitents, only to those who admit their disobedience to the known moral law.” In other words, Christ did not come to teach morality to those who are ignorant of it. He did not come to offer a new moral law. He came to save those who had fallen short of the existing one. Ultimately, Christ came to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15)

The Scriptures teach that salvation comes through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. In perfect, loving obedience to the Father’s will, Christ bore the curse of man’s sin. He paid the price of our salvation with his own death. Had the story ended there, one might think that God himself had been defeated, and that there is no hope for any of us. But the story does not end there. On Easter morning, light burst forth from the tomb. Christ conquered death and was risen to new life. Just as Jesus died a physical death, his physical body also rose again. It was the ultimate act of redemption, for in Christ’s resurrection, all things were made new.

For Christians, then, there is eternal hope in the death and resurrection of Jesus. With Christ we die to our sins, and in Christ we rise to new life. Christ has promised to restore all things; there is hope even for our aching bones and wrinkled flesh in the resurrection of the body. In that one historical event?the most important event in human history, when Jesus’ dead body was restored to life?the whole world was given hope that, in Christ, we too can live again. The reality of the resurrection is what prompted St. Augustine to declare, “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”

Had Christ simply told mankind of the many ways in which we all fall short of God’s perfection, the life of Jesus would have brought only despair, not hope. Who could bear seeing the stark contrast between the perfection of God and the sinfulness of men? But Christ did not bring sorrow and despair, but hope. Our hope is an Easter hope: that in the face of death and deterioration, when confronted with the many sorrows of this world, Christ has triumphed over the grave. In conquering death, Christ promised to renew all things.

This is the one true and lasting hope. Without the resurrection, the Christian religion would be cruelly deceitful. And far from being a great moral teacher, Jesus would be a malicious charlatan. During this Easter season, we do well to confront the claims of Jesus Christ. We should run with Peter and John to the tomb to see if it is really empty. If it is not, then we should grab all the gusto we can in order to anesthetize us from hopelessness and despair. If it is, we can sing “Alleluia!” for the curse has been broken, death has been defeated, and life eternal is available to those who believe.

God grant that we might proclaim with the apostles of old: “He is risen! With our own eyes we have seen it, he is risen indeed!”


No Mr. President... You're Wrong

President Obama believes that there is little difference in the faiths that people hold. The basis for this, in his own mind, comes from a lack of conviction to his own belief in his own faith, and therefore the assumption is easily transferred to those of other faiths as well.

But lest you think I'm making assertions that aren't well founded, let me back up.

During his time in office, he claims to have replaced participation in a local church with getting little messages sent to him on his blackberry. Evidently God now has an app, and as such can easily fit in his pocket. He still has infamously not found, nor attended a church in the Washington DC area and he is nigh fifteen months into his Presidency.

Digging further on his lack of belief, however, if we are to understand him from his own explanations, the last church he did attend was “pastored” by Dr. Jeremiah Wright. This was the same Afro-centric racist, "brother of the cloth,” that President Obama denounced in his run for Presidency. He denounced him for supposedly beginning to spout a whole new line of racist rhetoric, flat out lies, and distortions that while Obama "attended" faithfully for twenty years, Wright had somehow kept hidden from him.

Wright had even kept those core convictions from Obama while Wright was mentoring the young family man, baptizing his two daughters, and acting as a family pastor to the Obamas. Yet if we are to understand Obama correctly, either he had never heard the core convictions of Wright's racism preached from the pulpit, or somehow, in all the meaningful mentoring talks they had engaged in since young Obama moved to Chicago, Wright had avoided discussing them.

I find both hard to believe since there are hours of video tape of Wright screaming the garbage at the top of his lungs.

The President has attempted to be as pragmatic in his approach to faith as he has been towards foreign policy. To be blunt, constantly kicking in Israel's teeth on one hand, while going to the University in Cairo and telling the Muslim world that America shared their values on the other.

Woah big fella--female subjugation, stoning to death women who have been raped, and even female genital mutilation have nothing to do with American values.

And in this week's radio address to the nation, the President did it again. He showed either a lack of sophistication that faiths are all different, or he purposefully intends to make them such, drawing them all into--not the family of God--but the “family of man."

In honesty Obama, wants little of organized faith to be present in today's national culture. Oh sure getting the little first daughters all decked out in their new Easter dresses and letting them scurry for eggs on the White House lawn is fun and all, but anything more "faith-based" than that and we're going to have problems.

That's why he didn't just not attend a White House National Day of Prayer and Remembrance last year... He canceled it. Those people of faith are the ones causing all the problems after all.

They don't trust his government schemes because they'd prefer to keep more of their own dollars and be able to give more generously to the missions and causes they believe in.

They don't trust his view of caring for the "least of these" because every time the President attempts to, it creates worsening conditions for those who are the least.

They don't trust his view of what is sacred, because President Obama believes it's somehow moral to allow a born infant to die of starvation on the shelf of a soiled utility closet in a hospital named "Christ."

They don't trust his view of morality because he's desiring to put homosexuals in the same bunks with soldiers they are attracted to. Yet he seems to think that men lockering with women would be a problem.

They don't trust his judgement because he seems to trust others whose judgement is not even debatable. (Wright, Wallis, Ahmedinejad, Chavez) He also openly defies the sound judgement of our allies.

Mr. President there is a world of difference between the moral code of Islam, and that of Jews and Christians. Even the debate between Judaism and Christianity is an important one as the two groups couldn't be more apart on the fundamental understanding of redemption, the Messiah, and what is to come.

Your ignorance in attempting to sweep it all together and tie it up in a bow is as pathetic and dishonest as nearly any policy move you've made. (And that's admitting a great deal!)

Finally, towards the end of your radio address this week you claimed that religious faith had been openly practiced in every corner of the world for thousands of years. Mr. President, this simply isn't true.

Jews were put to death in the 30's and 40's for identifying their faith and practicing it even in secret. And for the better part of 70 years throughout the Soviet block of nations the same could be said for genuine Christianity.

And in many ways this exact persecution continues in Somalia, the Sudan, sub-saharan Africa, and for much of Asia and the middle and far east.

So Mr. President your assertions and statements in this week's radio address were either grotesquely ignorant or purposefully dishonest. Which was it sir?


Obama Removes Jesus from Easter Message

My friend Vince Haley, VP of Policy at Newt's American Solutions, wrote this wonderful piece for Renewing American Leadership about Obama deChristianizing an amazing sermon delivered on Easter at Iwo Jima in 1945. I pasted it below:
President Obama literally edited Christ out of his “holiday greeting” today when he excerpted a sermon given by a military chaplain on Iwo Jima on Easter Sunday 1945.

Below is the relevant paragraph from Obama’s holiday greeting today:

The rites of Passover, and the traditions of Easter, have been marked by people in every corner of the planet for thousands of years. They have been marked in times of peace, in times of upheaval, in times of war.

One such war-time service was held on the black sands of Iwo Jima more than sixty years ago. There, in the wake of some of the fiercest fighting of World War II, a chaplain rose to deliver an Easter sermon, consecrating the memory, he said “of American dead – Catholic, Protestant, Jew. Together,” he said, “they huddled in foxholes or crouched in the bloody sands…Together they practiced virtue, patriotism, love of country, love of you and of me.” The chaplain continued, “The heritage they have left us, the vision of a new world, [was] made possible by the common bond that united them…their only hope that this unity will endure.”

Their only hope that this unity will endure.

Now read below the same paragraph again, but this time note the additional bolded language that comes from the original audio of the 1945 sermon and its context, but which President Obama decided not to include:

There, in the wake of some of the fiercest fighting of World War II, a chaplain rose to deliver an Easter sermon, consecrating the memory, he said:

He has risen. With all due reverence, we apply these words to our beloved dead.

There are too many air call wings encrusted with the stain of their owners’ life blood, too many marine trousers upon the graves, too many symbols of American dead – Catholic, Protestant, Jew. Together,” he said, “they huddled in foxholes or crouched in the bloody sands under the fury of enemy guns here on Iwo Jima. Together they practiced virtue, patriotism, love of country, love of you and of me. Together they stand before the greatest soldier of them all – Jesus Christ, to receive the token of our triumph. For Christ has said: “Greater love than this no man hath then that he lay down his life for his friends.”

And so our beloved dead have gone from the world of hate to the world of eternal love.

The chaplain continued, “The heritage they have left us, the vision of a new world, [was] made possible by the common bond that united them in the drudgery of recruit training or here in the chaos of bursting shouts. Their only hope: that this unity will endure.”

And so our dead have risen to glory.

The American President is president of all the people, believers and non-believers alike. So when presidential messages are delivered to mark the special observances of major religious groups, it is understandable that a president will strive to provide some measure of explanation of how a particular religious observance honors values that all Americans can share.

But there are limits. A president cannot possibly hope to be a grand synthesizer of all religious traditions in the United States. Despite his skills, it is above President Obama’s pay grade to construct some kind of civic religion that stands above traditional religions and which should guide Americans going forward.

Instead of providing separate messages to Jews and Christians on the observance of Passover and Easter, President Obama said in this holiday greeting that “while we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all – Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and nonbelievers alike.

Obama then went on to say that “on this Easter weekend, let us hold fast to those aspirations we hold in common as brothers and sisters, as members of the same family – the family of man."

The problem is that when you start to water down what people actually believe in an attempt to construct a religion of the “family of man”, you start to misrepresent fundamentally the nature of the hope that is at the center of lives of believers.

In the case of Christians, Christ is our hope. Our hope is in the risen Christ, which we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

But if a president wants to water down religious beliefs in an attempt to find a synthesized religion of the ‘family of man’, you end up removing Christ from Easter, which is, strangely, exactly what President Obama did today in his Easter message.

Is this the first American president to dechristianize Easter?



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


4 April, 2010

The Abolition of the Family

America is headed down an extremely dangerous path to a potential catastrophe that is rarely discussed. It is the eradication of the family.

The top priority of Marxism was the abolition of the family; Marx laid down the strategy for its destruction. His thesis was simple: Eliminate capital -- exterminate the family [i]. More and more empirical evidence is piling up to show that this is exactly what is happening in America.

Whether or not it is being done intentionally, the federal government, using money from the TARP and Stimulus bills, has taken precise steps to undermine the family. An article titled "How a New Jobless Era will Transform America" in the March 2010 edition of The Atlantic says this:

The weight of this recession has fallen most heavily upon men, who've suffered roughly three quarters of the 8 million job losses since the beginning of 2008. Male dominated industries (construction, finance, manufacturing) have been particularly hard-hit, while sectors that disproportionately employ women (education, health care) have held up relatively well. ... [It] looks possible that within the next few months, for the first time in U.S. history, women will hold a majority of the country's jobs.

Yet very little of the stimulus money has been funneled into the male-dominated industries. Contrary to the popular impression, only a small fraction of the stimulus money has gone into shovel-ready constructions projects (where more men are employed). Outside of the initial tax breaks ($250 billion of $850 billion in the first stimulus bill), the vast majority of the money has been distributed to local and state governments, education, and the health care industries. Almost none of the funds have gone to support small businesses, where the majority of start-up jobs are created in America.

The distribution of the stimulus money is part of the reason why the unemployment rate of young black men in America is nearing a staggering 50%. There are very few shovel-ready construction, manufacturing, or other private enterprise jobs for young men (of any race) in this country. The bulk of the federal money is going into the service industries. The spending strategy of the Obama administration and the current Congress seems intended to ensure that private-sector jobs for men do not appear.

Marx stated that the family would cease to exist with the disappearance of capital. He meant that the family, private businesses, and private property were intimately entwined. And he was right.

Well over a hundred banks have closed their doors in the last two years. Young men (or women) wanting to start and grow a new business have less and less opportunity to borrow capital for such an enterprise. No new businesses means no new jobs.

That economic recessions and depressions destroy the careers of more male than female workers has been long known and often studied. Mirra Komarovsky, in her groundbreaking work The Unemployed Man and His Family (1940), showed that during the Great Depression,

The economic crisis hit blue-collar occupations harder than service jobs; as a consequence, working-class men often found it harder to find work than did their wives. And yet, traditional views of masculinity prevented many men from sharing bread-winning responsibilities: "I'd rather turn on the gas than let my wife work!" one man told her (76).

In my forthcoming book, The Idea of the Family, I demonstrate that it is not "the traditional view" of masculinity that instills in a man the desire to provide for his family. I prove, rather, that work for the male is a biological, psychological, and even philosophical necessity for the preservation of the family.

Once his participation in coitus is over, the man plays no biological part in the creation of his offspring. Unlike the woman, who carries her baby to term and then nourishes the newborn infant at her breast, the man's role in the family is necessarily ideal. He is biologically and psychologically separated from the procreative process. The man needs a reason to stay with his wife and family. If he is to remain with his family, his role (at least initially) can only be that of provider and protector [ii].

The surest and quickest way to eliminate the family is to make certain that a young man (who might wish to marry and start a family) does not have access to a job. This ensures that the young man has no reason to remain with an impregnated female.

It is not by accident that over 70% of black children in America are born out of wedlock. Almost 50% of young black men in America are unemployed. And without a job, a man has no incentive to start or remain with his family.

The Obama administration has done next to nothing to stimulate those parts of the economy that provide employment for young men and, therefore, protect and strengthen the family. This is the dirtiest and nastiest of not-so-secret secrets that no one seems to want to address.

Meanwhile, Karl Marx is laughing in his grave.


Leading British Conservative defends freedom for "Bed & Breakfast" owners

Says that they should be treated like the private homes that they mostly are

DAVID CAMERON was last night embroiled in a row over his party’s views on homosexuality after a member of the shadow cabinet was taped arguing that bed and breakfast owners should not have to offer rooms to gays, writes Isabel Oakeshott.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said he believed that people who ran B&Bs should have the right to decide whether to have homosexuals staying in their homes. Under equality laws introduced in 2007, B&B owners cannot turn away gays.

According to a report in The Observer, Grayling told a meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies think tank: “I personally ... took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”

He drew a distinction with hotels, which he said should admit gay couples. “I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away,” he said.

Labour claimed that the comments showed the Conservatives were prejudiced against homosexuals.


Christianity's Easter is welcome and protected in Jewish Jerusalem

Celebrating Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the most important holy day for Christians of all denominations, can be deadly in the Middle East. Reciting a Scripture or humming a hymn could cost your head in Saudi Arabia, and you could risk other highly valued body parts in the similarly benighted ninth-century neighborhoods abounding in the lands of caliphs, imams and ayatollahs.

Beheading is something of the national sport of Saudi Arabia, where the government has scheduled for Friday the gruesome ritual for a man, the father of five, accused of sorcery for "making predictions" in his native Lebanon. (Punditry can be risky there, too.)

Better to take your celebration to Israel, where the government will assist your visit. It's the difference between Middle East and the cultural West, between the 8th and 21st centuries, between civilized and not-so-civilized. The Israeli guarantee of religious freedom, taken for granted in the nations of the West, is part of what invites hostility and belligerence from Israel's neighbors.

Pilgrims proceed under protection today along the Via Dolorosa, believed to be the path that Christ took with His cross to the crucifixion at Calvary, and on to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Many Christians, particularly Roman Catholics, believe Christ was buried on the site three days before the Resurrection. Christians and everyone else are welcome to join the procession. Unless a suicide bomber or other evil-doer slips through security, no one will be harmed. The Israeli government guarantees it.

The Israeli Declaration of Independence, adopted in 1948, declares Israel to be a Jewish state, but further declares that the nation "will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions." It's a promise bereft of Jeffersonian eloquence, but it's plain and to the point.

In that long-ago day, in a burst of naive enthusiasm, certain idealists imagined that this example would spread to other places where religious freedom is understood to mean that you have the freedom to keep your head so long as you believe what the imams in the government tell you to believe. Israel has since enacted comprehensive legal codes to protect the hundreds of Christian, Muslim and Jewish monuments and markers and to guarantee universal access to them. Jordan, before the Six-Day War in 1967, controlled Jerusalem, and Jews were forbidden entry. Many Jewish holy sites were routinely vandalized.

Moshe Dayan, the defense minister who led the Israelis to victory in the Six-Day War, was clear about religious tolerance and protection in a radio broadcast the morning Jerusalem was captured. "This morning," he said, "the Israel Defense Force liberated Jerusalem. We have united Jerusalem, the divided capital of Israel. We have returned the holiest of our holy places, never to part from it again. To our Arab neighbors we extend, also at this hour - and with added emphasis 'at this hour' - our hand in peace. And to our Christian and Muslim fellow citizens, we solemnly promise full religious freedom and rights."

This clearly includes the right to disagree. Not every Christian regards the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as the site of Christ's burial. A tomb in a garden below Calvary was discovered in 1867 and, popularized by Gen. Charles George "Chinese" Gordon, an eccentric Bible scholar once assigned to the British military in Palestine, became known as "the Protestant tomb." The Anglican church once recognized it as the authentic tomb. Scholars are divided today on whether this is so.

The tomb fits the description in Matthew 27:58, when Joseph of Arimathea begged Pilate for the body of Jesus: "Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth. And laid it in his own, new tomb, which he had hewn out of a rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, and departed."

The stone is there today, and the track on which it was rolled away is visible in the rock. The tomb and the garden lie beneath a large stone outcropping, vaguely resembling a skull, marked by two gaping holes, as if eye sockets. Hence the name "Golgotha," or "skull," given to the site of the crucifixion.

The argument continues, as with so much about the meaning of the Scripture. But Christians agree on the Resurrection as the story of Easter, the central fact that gives the Gospel meaning. The pilgrims continue to make their way in peace to Jerusalem, scene of the holiest and most horrific events of history, watched over now with respect and reverence by Jews.


Why humanists shouldn’t join in this Catholic-bashing

The reaction to the paedophile priest scandal is as guilty of scaremongering, illiberalism and elitism as the Catholic Church has ever been

With all the newspaper headlines about predatory paedophiles in smocks, terrified altar boys and cover-ups by officials at the Vatican, it is hard to think of anything worse right now than a sexually abusive priest. Yet today’s reaction to those allegations of sexual abuse is also deeply problematic. For it is a reaction informed more by prejudice and illiberalism than by anything resembling a principled secularism, and one which also threatens to harm individuals, families, society and liberty.

When considering the problem of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, it is important to distinguish between the incidents themselves, some of which were of course horrific, and the way in which those incidents are understood in today’s political and cultural climate. The acts of sexual abuse themselves were no doubt a product of various problematic factors: the Catholic Church’s culture of celibacy, its strange views on sex, the fact that in some institutions priests were given ultimate authority over young boys and girls. But the way in which those acts are understood today – as supremely damaging to individuals and the inevitable consequence of people ‘deciding it is a good thing to abandon any commitment to fact and instead act on faith’ – is powerfully informed by two problematic contemporary trends: the backward cult of victimhood and the dominant ‘new atheist’ prejudice against any institution with strong beliefs.

With all the current claims about Pope Benedict XVI himself being involved in a cover-up of child abuse by an American priest and a German priest, and newspaper reports using terms like ‘stuff of nightmares’, the ‘stench of evil’, and ‘systematic rape and torture’, anyone who tries to inject a bit of perspective into this debate is unlikely to be thanked. But perspective is what we need. Someone has to point out that for all the problems with the Catholic Church’s doctrines and style of organisation – and I experienced some of those problems, having been raised a Catholic before becoming an atheist at 17 – the fact is that sexual abuse by priests is a relatively rare phenomenon.

Even in Ireland, whose image as a craic-loving nation has been replaced by the far-worse idea that it was actually a nation of priest rape, incidents of sexual abuse by priests were fairly rare. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which was launched by the Irish government in 1999 and delivered its report last year, intensively invited Irish-born people around the world to report on incidents of abuse in Irish religious-educational reform schools, where the majority of clerical abuse is said to have occurred, between the period 1914 to 1999. For that 85-year period, 253 claims of sexual abuse were made by males and 128 by females. It is important – surely? – to note that these are claims of sexual abuse rather than proven incidents, since the vast majority of them did not go to trial.

The number of sexual abuse claims in these institutions fell for the more recent period: for males, there were 88 claims from the pre-1960s, 119 from 1960 to 1969, 37 from 1970 to 1979, and nine from 1980 to 1989. The alleged sexual-abuse incidents ranged in seriousness from boys being ‘questioned and interrogated about their sexual activity’ to being raped: there were 68 claims of anal rape in reform institutions for boys from 1914 to 1999. Not all of the sexual abuse was carried out by priests. Around 65 per cent of the claims pertain to religious workers, and 35 per cent to lay staff, care workers, and fellow pupils.

Of course, one incident of child sexual abuse by a priest is one too many. But given the findings of Ireland’s investigation into abuse in religious-educational institutions, is there really a justification for talking about a ‘clinging and systematic evil that is beyond the power of exorcism to dispel’? As Ireland is redefined as a country in recovery from child sexual abuse, and the ‘scandal of child rape’ spreads further through Europe into Germany and Italy, it might be unfashionable to say the following but it is true nonetheless: very, very small numbers of children in the care or teaching of the Catholic Church in Europe in recent decades were sexually abused, but very, very many of them actually received a decent standard of education.

The discussion of a relatively rare phenomenon as a ‘great evil’ of our age shows that child abuse in Catholic churches has been turned into a morality tale – about the dangers of belief and of hierarchical institutions and the need for more state and other forms of intervention into religious institutions and even religious families. The first contemporary trend that has turned incidences of sexual abuse into a powerful symbol of evil is the cult of the victim, where today individuals are invited not only to reveal every misfortune that has befallen them – which of course is a sensible thing to do if you have been raped – but also to define themselves by those misfortunes, to look upon themselves as the end-products of having being emotionally, physically or sexually abused. This is why very public revelations of Catholic abuse started in America and Ireland before more recently spreading to other parts of Western Europe: because the politics of victimhood, the cult of revelation and redefinition of the self as survivor, is more pronounced and developed in America and Ireland than it is in continental Europe.

In Ireland, for example, the state has explicitly invited its citizens to redefine themselves as victims of authority rather than as active agents capable of moving on and making choices. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse discusses at length the ‘debilitating’ impact that abuse can have on individuals, to the extent that many of Ireland’s social problems – including unemployment, poverty, drug abuse and heavy drinking – are now discussed as the products of Ireland’s earlier era of abuse rather than as failings of the contemporary social system.

This, I believe, is why claims of sexual abuse in Ireland’s religious-educational institutions were so much higher for the period of 1960 to 1969 (nearly half of all claims of sexual abuse against boys during the period of 1914 to 1989 were made for that decade). It is not because priests suddenly became more abusive in the 1960s than they had been in the far harsher Ireland of the 1940s and 50s, but because the people who attended the institutions during that period were in many ways the main targets of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. They would have been in their mid-40s to mid-50s when the commission began in 1999 and many of them had suffered long-term unemployment, health problems, and other disappointments. Reporting their misfortunes to the commission offered them the chance, not only of getting financial compensation, but also of validating their difficult life experiences as a consequence of their having been abused. In a grotesquely convenient marriage, the state redefined social problems as consequences of Catholic abuse and the individual redefined himself as a sufferer from low self-esteem who did not bear full responsibility for the course of his adult life. In such a climate, not only are incidents of abuse by priests more likely to surface, but they are also more likely to be heavily politicised, turned from undoubtedly distressing and possibly criminal acts into modern-day examples of evil capable of distorting society itself. Thus did the contemporary cult of victimhood ensure that Catholic abuse was blown out of proportion.

The second contemporary trend that has elevated something quite rare into a social disaster is the rise of the ‘new atheism’. Now the dominant liberal outlook of our age – in particular in the media outlets that have most keenly focused on the Catholic abuse scandals: the New York Times, the Irish Times, and the UK Guardian – the new atheism differs from the atheism of earlier free-thinking humanists in that its main aim is not to enlighten, but to scaremonger about the impact of religion on society. For these thinkers and opinion-formers, the drip-drip of revelations of abuse in Catholic institutions offers an opportunity to demonise the religious as backward and people who possess strong beliefs as suspect.

Many contemporary opinion-formers are not concerned with getting to the truth of how widespread Catholic sexual abuse was, or what were the specific circumstances in which it occurred; rather they want to milk incidents of abuse and make them into an indictment of religion itself. They frequently flit between discussing priests who abuse children and the profound stupidity of people who believe in God. One commentator wildly refers to the Vatican’s ‘international criminal conspiracy to protect child-rapists’ and says most ordinary Catholics turn a blind eye to this because ‘people behave in bizarre ways when they decide it is a good thing to abandon any commitment to fact and instead act on faith’.

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, unwittingly reveals what draws the new atheists towards the Catholic-abuse story: their belief that religion is itself a form of abuse. ‘Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is, I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place’, he argues. He admits that physical abuse by priests is rare, but only to flag up what he sees as a more serious form of abuse: ‘Only a minority of priests abuse the bodies of the children in their care. But how many priests abuse their minds?’ In this spectacularly crude critique of religion, no moral distinction is made between being educated by a priest and raped by one – indeed, the former is considered worse than the latter, since as one Observer columnist recently darkly warned: ‘We have no idea what children are being taught in those classrooms…’

If ‘bringing a child up Catholic’ is itself abuse, there can only be one solution: external authorities must protect children not only from religious institutions but from their own religious parents, too. One new atheist has proposed an age of consent for joining a religion: 14. In an Oxford Amnesty Lecture popular amongst new atheists, a liberal academic argued that children ‘have a human right not to have their minds crippled by exposure to other people’s bad ideas’, and parents ‘have no god-given licence to enculturate their children in whatever ways they personally choose’. Here, a simplistic leap is made from protecting children from paedophile priests to protecting them from their own parents, since in the new-atheist view strong beliefs and freedom of religion – which, yes, includes the freedom of parents to bring up their children as they see fit – are the real problem. They exaggerate the extent of Catholic sexual abuse in order to strengthen their prejudicial arguments.

Whatever you think of the Catholic Church, you should be concerned about today’s abuse-obsession. Events of the (sometimes distant) past which nobody can change are being used to justify dangerous trends in the present. A new kind of society is being solidified on the back of exposing abusive priests, one in which scaremongering supersedes facts, where people redefine themselves as permanently damaged victims, where freedom of thought is problematised, and where parents are considered suspect for not adhering to the superior values of the atheistic elite. Seriously, radical humanists should fight back against this.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


3 April, 2010

Christophobia: Anti-Christian bigotry is the last fashionable hatred

Christianity is dying. It was once the bastion of Western civilization. Now, Christianity is a pitiful remnant of its former greatness. Across the West, it is in full retreat.

The sex-abuse scandal is ravaging the Catholic Church - tarring Pope Benedict XVI himself. The Anglican Church has been eviscerated, losing members as it succumbs to the liberal winds of female ordination and gay rights. Many Protestant denominations are abandoning their beliefs and fervent missionary zeal, embracing chic environmentalism and watered-down socialism as a cheap substitute for the traditional Gospel. Europe, the ancient stronghold of Christendom, has been transformed into a secular neo-pagan culture. For Europeans, God is dead; He has been replaced by materialist man.

The secular tidal wave has also hit and overwhelmed America. Since the 1960s, the United States has been the victim of the sexual revolution that glorifies hedonism and personal liberation. Pornography, abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity, the AIDS epidemic, soaring out-of-wedlock births, sky-rocketing divorce rates and the breakdown of the family - these are the poisoned fruits of the Playboy philosophy. MTV morality is in; Jesus is out.

The war waged by liberals on Christianity, however, has gone to a new, more dangerous level - one bordering on soft totalitarianism. Recently, the city of Davenport, Iowa, removed Good Friday from its municipal calendar. The Davenport Civil Rights Commission sought to change the name of the holiday to one that is less "divisive" and more ecumenical. Hence, a memo was sent to municipal employees stating Good Friday would be officially known as "Spring Holiday." City administrators stressed that celebrating Good Friday violates the separation of church and state.

"We merely made a recommendation that the name be changed to something other than Good Friday," said Tim Hart, the commission's chairman. "Our Constitution calls for separation of church and state. Davenport touts itself as a diverse city and given all the different types of religious and ethnic backgrounds we represent, we suggested the change."

After an uproar by outraged Christians, the city council decided to resurrect the name Good Friday. The multicultural secularists in Davenport have been defeated - for now.

Yet, the controversy is an ominous sign: The left is determined to extirpate Christian holidays and symbols from our society. Liberals are determined to smash traditional values and drive Christians underground. The American left is following in the shameful - and much more bloody - footsteps of Marxist regimes. Instead of eradicating religious faith through the barrel of a gun, leftists use bureaucratic dictates and mass propaganda.

The result is the same. Christianity is gradually being purged from the public square. Christmas celebrations have become offensive. "Merry Christmas" is now considered to be politically incorrect; the proper greeting is "happy holidays." The Ten Commandments cannot be displayed in courtrooms or classes. Prayer has been banished from public schools. Christians are regularly mocked in movies and TV. Taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize "art" that depicts Christ in unflattering ways. Hollywood makes films - such as "Angels and Demons" - portraying the Catholic Church as a repressive, sinister and primitive institution.

Anti-Christian bigotry is the last fashionable hatred. It is easy for Davenport's Christophobes to pick on Good Friday. What's the worst that could happen? Angry phone calls and e-mails? Town-hall meetings? Maybe public protests? But, in the end, progressive commissars realize they will not pay much of a price - in fact, they will be celebrated by liberal elites for their "enlightened ideals."

The same standards do not apply to Islam. Davenport's multiculturalists would never dare to remove say, Ramadan, from the calendar and rename it "Fasting Month" for fear of offending Muslims - and possibly triggering a fatwa. Self-preservation - and cowardice - dissuades them from attacking certain religions.

Christians, however, are an easy target. They do not believe in jihad or suicide bombing. Unlike radical Islamists, they espouse the rule of law and human rights. They accept persecution - even state-sanctioned persecution - as part of their religious burden. Liberals realize that Christianity is a genuine "religion of peace." This is why they do not fear systematically smearing it.

The Founding Fathers emphasized that the constitutional republic depended upon a vigorous religious society.

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people," said John Adams. "It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

The Founding Fathers were not secularists. On the contrary, they were devout Christians (with the exception of some Enlightenment deists like Thomas Jefferson), who feared an established church - especially, the Church of England - which persecuted dissenters. They would regard it as bizarre and repulsive were they to witness how the concept of the separation of church and state would be twisted in our time into a form of radical secularism and anti-Christian bias.

Our Judeo-Christian heritage provides the underpinnings to our constitutional government for one simple reason: It acknowledges the transcendental nature of man. Our fundamental liberties flow from God almighty - not the state. This is why individual rights - to life, liberty and property - are the essential bulwarks against government power: What God has given, no man - or regime - can take away. Once America loses its Christian identity, it will inevitably lose its freedoms.

Christophobia forms the basis of modern liberalism. Leftist progressives are determined to destroy traditional America and its seminal institutions - the Constitution, capitalism, national sovereignty and the family. This is why they have declared war on Christianity. If Christians do not rise from their apathy and man the ideological barricades, they will be driven into the catacombs once again. And with their defeat comes the end of our great republic.

We must boldly stand against any who attempt to degrade our Christian heritage. We must identify them as practicing one of the last acceptable forms of bigotry and hatred: Christophobia. Our right to embrace Christ is no less than their right to embrace a perverse lifestyle.


Australian clerics mock atheism

I think that these attacks do apply to militant atheists. Evangelical atheism as practiced by Dawkins et al. is pretty absurd

RELIGIOUS leaders have used their Easter sermons and messages to condemn the rise of atheism, with Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen describing the philosophy as an "assault on God".

A day after Sydney Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell criticised non-believers, Dr Jensen said in his Good Friday sermon at Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral that atheism was a form idolatry.

"As we can see by the sheer passion and virulence of the atheist - they seem to hate the Christian God - we are not dealing here with cool philosophy up against faith without a brain," Dr Jensen told worshippers. "Atheism is every bit of a religious commitment as Christianity itself. "It represents the latest version of the human assault on God, born out of resentment that we do not in fact rule the world and that God calls on us to submit our lives to him. "It is a form of idolatry in which we worship ourselves."

Cardinal Pell of St Mary's Cathedral delivered a similar attack on atheism in his Easter message yesterday. He praised government organisations "paid for by the Christian majority" for helping make the Australian way of life the envy of the world, but noted that atheists sponsored no community services.

The new Catholic Bishop of Parramatta, in Sydney's west, Anthony Fisher, continued the attack in his Easter message. "Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating: Nazism, Stalinism, Pol Pot-ery, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships - all promoted by state-imposed atheism," he said.

However, the Atheist Foundation of Australia said Dr Jensen's claims were "preposterous" and condemned Christianity for a spate of child sex abuse scandals. "He seeks out a scapegoat and attacks atheism without any understanding of what he is saying," foundation president David Nicholls said. "To state we hate his god or are attacking his god is nonsense. "How does one hate or attack that which does not exist?"

A spokesman for Dr Jensen denied it was a co-ordinated attack by the churchmen. But he said the comments were likely to have been spurred by the recent Rise of Atheism conference held in Melbourne, which attracted 2500 non-believers and featured renowned figurehead Richard Dawkins.

Dr Jensen went on to say in his sermon that religion can be an "even more dangerous" form of idolatry than atheism if incorrectly interpreted. "Here, too, religion can simply be the power game under a different guise ... Atheist or religious person - we all need to be reconciled to God and give him our lives," he added.


British Conservative leader defends foxhunting

David Cameron has disclosed that he went hunting as a boy as he insisted that the fox population needed to be controlled. In a frank interview the Conservative leader talked freely of his love of the countryside and said he was taught to shoot rabbits by his father.

Confirming that he would allow Tory MPs a free vote on decriminalising hunting with dogs if he were to become prime minister, Mr Cameron said: " I always thought that the ban was a mistake because I think it is very difficult to enforce. "I think it’s somewhere where the criminal law shouldn’t go and I think that the mess we have now pretty much proves that."

Speaking of the 'pest control' case for repealing the ban, he said: "The point is that the fox population has to be controlled. "Every farmer will tell you that and every farmer will also tell you that the methods now being used - in more cases gassing and shooting and trapping and snaring - are, as the Burns inquiry itself found, very very cruel."

He told Nicky Campbell on BBC Radio 5: "The case on animal welfare grounds for the hunting ban, I’ve always thought was very very weak."

Hunting with dogs has been illegal since February 2005, but the ban has only led to a handful of successful prosecutions.

Asked to explain what Campbell called "the joys of hunting", Mr Cameron responded: "I’m a country boy, I was brought up in the countryside and I love walking in the countryside and riding in the countryside and every aspect of growing up in the countryside. "I was taught to fish by a wonderful grandfather. I was taught to shoot rabbits by my dad. I’ve always been a country boy and I went hunting as well."

But conscious that images of him atop a horse dressed in full hunting costume would not go down well among most urban voters, Mr Cameron sidestepped a question about whether he would himself go hunting if the ban was repealed. "I personally have got other things I'm hoping to do," he said.

However, he promised a free vote on the issue, saying: "MPs take different views, there are Conservatives in my party who support the hunting ban. "It will be a free vote in the House of Commons and if the ban if kept it’s kept and if it’s repealed it’s repealed.


Australia: Police secrecy about attack on Indian

"Racial sensitivities" apparently. The public are too dumb and stupid to be given important information, apparently. One guess that the offender was an ethnic too -- perhaps a Polynesian (Maori etc.)

A SERIOUS alleged knife attack at one of Queensland's busiest train stations during the peak afternoon commuter period was kept quiet by authorities. The Courier-Mail has learnt that an Indian man's throat was slashed while he waited on Platform 9 at Brisbane's Roma Street Station about 4.20pm on March 17.

A 26-year-old man was charged a short time later after handing himself in at police headquarters, across the road.

It is alleged the attack on Narendrakumar Patel, 34, was seen by police monitoring the station on closed-circuit television screens. But details of the incident were never released by police despite the high-profile location. Sources have claimed that a decision was taken by authorities not to release details of the assault, which is certain to fuel fears about train station safety.

It also will spark debate about whether Indians are the target of racially motivated attacks in Queensland, an issue that has raised tension between the Australian and Indian governments after a spate of attacks in Victoria.

Police would not comment on the case, or the decision not to release details.

But Opposition justice spokesman Lawrence Springborg said the attack struck "at the heart of confidence of all rail commuters" and the public had a right to know about it. "I hope that this has not been covered up or hosed down by our authorities because of the nationality of the victim," he said.

Police Minister Neil Roberts said train stations were patrolled by 54 officers in the rail squad and more than 100 full-time transit officers and private security guards. He said the clear-up rate for crime on the rail system was "very good".

Mr Roberts also said he had been briefed on recent incidents involving people from various ethnic backgrounds. "Some are obviously racially motivated, however police advise me that in their opinion the majority of incidents involving persons from different ethnic backgrounds are not suspected of being racially motivated," he said.

The man accused of attacking Mr Patel was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and carrying a knife in a public place. It is believed the bluntness of the knife saved Mr Patel from more serious injuries. Despite police prosecutors opposing bail, the man was released and is due to face court again on April 15.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


2 April, 2010

Scientific comment trumps Britain's libel laws

The science writer Simon Singh won the right yesterday to use the defence of fair comment, in a landmark ruling at the Court of Appeal.

The strongly worded judgment by three of Britain’s most senior judges brings Dr Singh significantly closer to defeating the action brought against him by a group of chiropractors. The ruling also sets a precedent that could, in practice, make scientific criticism and debate exempt from claims of defamation by companies or organisations.

Dr Singh was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over an opinion piece he wrote for The Guardian in April 2008, suggesting that there was a lack of evidence for the claims some chiropractors make on treating certain childhood conditions, including colic and asthma.

The BCA alleged that Dr Singh had, in effect, accused its leaders of knowingly supporting bogus treatments.

In May last year, Mr Justice Eady, in a preliminary High Court ruling in the dispute, held that Dr Singh’s comments were factual assertions rather than expressions of opinion, which meant that he could not use the defence of fair comment.

However, Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Neuberger, Master of the Rolls, and Lord Justice Sedley ruled that Mr Justice Eady had “erred in his approach” last May and upheld Dr Singh’s appeal. Dr Singh described the ruling as “brilliant”, but said the action had cost £200,000 and two years of his time “just to define the meaning of a few words”. He added: “At last we’ve got a good decision. So instead of battling uphill we’re fighting with the wind behind us.”

The written judgment said that the original decision threatened to silence scientists or science journalists wishing to question claims made by companies or organisations. It said: “This litigation has almost certainly had a chilling effect on public debate which might otherwise have assisted potential patients to make informed choices about the possible use of chiropractic.”

Asking judges to rule on matters of scientific controversy would be to “invite the court to become an Orwellian ministry of truth”, the judgment said.

In a statement issued after the ruling, the BCA expressed disappointment and said it was considering whether to appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn yesterday’s ruling. “This is not the end of the road ... Our original argument remains that our reputation has been damaged,” it said.

The BCA can now either appeal to the Supreme Court, proceed to trial and challenge Dr Singh’s defence of fair comment, or withdraw its case. A BCA spokesman said that board members would decide in the coming days.

The judgment was hailed as a victory by those campaigning for the reform of libel laws. Tracey Brown, director of Sense About Science, said: “In fighting this case, Simon has shone a light in a very dark and unpleasant corner of our legal world. It is clear from this ruling that senior members of the judiciary have added their weight to the need for libel reform.”

Last month Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said he was committed to a swift reform of libel laws, should Labour win the election. He said a stronger public interest defence was needed and expressed concern over “libel tourism”, in which British courts are being used by litigants from abroad to take advantage of rules that are seen as being favourable to claimants.

In England, the burden of proof rests on the defendant, who must establish that what has been reported is true. In the United States and most European countries, the party bringing the case must prove that it is false.

Peter Wilmshurst, a cardiologist, is being sued by an American company in the English courts, over his criticism of a heart implant trial and several US publications have said that they intend to withdraw from the British market.

Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat science spokesman, said that yesterday’s “sensible” judgment was not a substitute for reform of the law. “It is no kind of justice for a scientist to spend £200,000 and two years of his life just to get halfway through a case,” he said. “The political parties must now all commit to reform of the law to free scientific speech and responsible journalism from the threat of penury.”

Colin Blakemore, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford, said: “This decision is a very significant step in the efforts to prevent the British libel laws being used to stifle legitimate criticism of unjustified claims about science and technology. The public will be the ultimate beneficiaries of Simon Singh’s brave campaign.”


The fat lady must learn to be a little thinner

We cannot justify subsidies for culture – the best will find a paying audience and the rest must go the wall

Can we just bypass the “is it art?” debate? It’s a giant, misshapen rollercoaster- type thingy, with a sort of sub-Eiffel Towery feel. It may or may not symbolise the twisted dreams of our country’s financial capital or Man’s doomed striving for the sky on his meandering path towards the grave. Or something. But let’s just call it art and be done.

The Anish Kapoor-designed, ArcelorMittal Orbital will soar above the London Olympic Park, dividing opinions, enraging taxi drivers and garnering nicknames. Personally, I love 84 per cent of it — the bit that was paid for by ArcelorMittal, the company owned by the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, which is spending up to £16 million on it. I am substantially less enamoured of the £3.1 million bit that we are paying for. Could it just be a few feet shorter with the company picking up all the bill?

We are deep in an era of big public works of art and expensive subsidies. The four arts councils for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland receive £521 million of taxpayers’ cash and £168 million from the lottery.

Total spending on culture in the UK amounts to 1 per cent of the NHS budget. But taxpayer-funded art, unlike brain surgery, is a luxury. Art is a glorious and welcome by-product of a healthy, capital-creating economy. Our economy is as crooked and twisted as Kapoor’s tower, in no shape to fund anything except recovery.

We know that cuts must come and that the public finances need more than flaccid pre-election political promises to kiss the deficit better. Every time that cuts are mooted, those who are about to be cut bleat: “Cut if you must, but don’t cut me!”

But it’s no use insisting that the arts are too small to count — unless we scrap old people or illness, the small bills need scrutinising as much as the big ones. We must count the pennies.

Those in favour of taxpayer-funded art base their argument on two pillars — the notion that a life without art is a dull, spiritually undernourished one, and the more topical argument that the creative economy is a thriving one that will help to pull the country out of its fiscal doldrums.

The problem with arts subsidies, however, is that it’s difficult to escape the notion that the poor are subsidising the leisure pursuits of the rich. At the Royal Opera House this week for Janácek’s The Cunning Little Vixen, it seemed utterly absurd that the well-heeled audience was subsidised in any way by the taxpayer. Spiritually nourished this crowd may have been; poor it was not. Yet the Royal Opera House is one of nine organisations receiving £5 million or more a year from the Arts Council — the others include the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the English National Ballet.

A survey by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport found that only 40 per cent of those in the lowest employment bracket attended an arts event in the past year compared with 84 per cent of those in the highest. As a report by the Adam Smith Institute points out, the DCMS has a pretty loose definition of art, including street arts and any “live music performance”.

The Arts Council is quick to respond to accusations of elitism by insisting that it works hard to bring art to the people. But if the people really want art, they can find it and they can pay for it. Voluntarily.

The DCMS announced yesterday a £50,000 grant for a charity called Culture24 to develop smartphone apps that allow people to find the nearest art. In the event that you must know, without delay, the whereabouts of the nearest Picasso, this is for you; £50,000 may be a tiny sum, but if there’s a market for this app, it will be made. If not, why is the Government supplying this middle-class toy?

So if we start with this ridiculous app and move on to scrap all government spending on art, what will happen? Will cultural Armageddon follow? Defenders of subsidy argue that it would mean the end of “innovative” art. But too often “innovative” is a euphemism for “rubbish”. A snobbishness pervades the cultural sector that dictates that popular art is less worthy than difficult or experimental stuff — small wonder that so many within the Establishment are terrified at what bald market forces might say about what they produce. If you can’t find the funding to put it on, and no one wants to see it, perhaps — just perhaps — it isn’t very good.

Excellence would survive. The Mountaintop, the surprise winner of Best New Play at this year’s Olivier Awards, received no subsidies. It succeeded because it was good.

The argument that the creative industries require subsidies because they contribute to the economy is a circular one. Taxpayers fund art that generates profit that pays tax to fund art. Eh? Besides, out of every £1 given by taxpayers to fund the arts 10p goes on administration. How many of the much cited economic powerhouses in the sector are subsidised and how many the product of unaided cultural entrepreneurs?

American art and culture thrive despite the lack of subsidy. The US is also the birthplace of crowdsourcing creatives — where those who are passionate about art meet on the internet and contribute to projects. One dollar makes you a shareholder on trustart.org. The difference is that the dollar is voluntary, not creamed off by the taxman.

Charities, private philanthropists and new forms of crowdsourced funding could fill the gap left by the taxpayer. Great art is no stranger to patronage — Leonardo da Vinci happily pocketed Medici gold, Shakespeare relied on the patronage of the court. The relationship is symbiotic — the artist is fed and the provider of capital gets reflected glory and status. It is only in the postwar era that arts patronage has been monopolised by the State. Let Mr Mittal have all the glory of mutant trumpet tower. And let the State keep its cash.

I can understand why people are passionate about this, and why special interest groups are so vocal. I would like to argue the case for some cash to be thrown at really important art — ie, the stuff I like. But that would mean funding opera, young writers and free museums but allowing ballet and most installation art to face the wolves of unfettered market forces — and that makes no sense at all. In the arts debate, head must rule heart and fiscal ruthlessness must prevail.



Racists! That incendiary charge hurled by Democrats at Tea Party activists protesting against ObamaCare was shown to be totally false by Jack Cashill in his article "A Closer Look at the Capitol Steps Conspiracy".

Given the Democratic Party's 150-year record of racist rhetoric and racial violence - from the days of slavery until today - it is astonishing to see Democrats sanctimoniously playing the race card. A display of unmitigated gall describes how Democrats are falsely comparing anti-ObamaCare protestors to the anti-civil rights racists of the 1960's who were Democrats. Democrats get away with this racial hypocrisy because they know with absolute certainty that the true history of civil rights has long been buried, and the racism exhibited today by Democrats against blacks, particularly black Republicans, will be ignored by the mainstream media.

For instance, the liberal media expressed no outrage and not one word of condemnation was uttered by any Democrat after SEIU (Service Employees International Union) thugs attacked Kenneth Gladney, a black man. Gladney was beaten, kicked and called a racist name while working as a vendor at a health care reform town hall meeting in St. Louis on August 6, 2009 called by U.S. Rep. Democrat Russ Carnahan.

The assault was a calculated attempt to intimidate and silence Tea Party protestors and town hall activists. On the morning of the Gladney attack, the White House presented to Senate Democrats a "battle plan" to quell the protests. The advice given to the Democrats by the White House was to "punch back twice as hard", and the first casualty was Kenneth Gladney. In the emergency room of the St. John's Mercy Medical Center, Gladney was treated for injuries to his knee, back, elbow, shoulder and face suffered in the attack.

The six people arrested in the Gladney case, including a Post-Dispatch reporter, were charged with mere misdemeanor ordinance violations, with a total of ten charges spread out among the six offenders. Not one Democrat rushed to a microphone to denounce the attack against Gladney as a "hate crime".

Based on the lack of any outrage by Democrats over the Gladney beating, it seems that the newly enacted "hate crime" legislation pushed by Democrats would not apply to cases of hateful brutality against black Republicans. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009 and is designed to punish crimes of violence against people because of their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

At the core of why Democrats are feverishly painting conservatives and Republicans as racist, especially Tea Party activists, is the need to divert the public's attention away from the fact that President Barack Obama and the Democrats in control of Congress are slowly and deliberately transforming America from a free society with a representative form of government into a socialist dictatorship. A move applauded by the Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro.

Obama is now governing as a hard-core leftist, after campaigning for president as a centrist. His cynical charade was designed to convince the majority of white Americans to vote for him, the very citizens Obama now castigates as racist.

What Obama and the Democrats are ignoring while trying to silence protestors with charges of racism is the fact that average American citizens are angry because they do not want socialism. They understand that ObamaCare and Obama's out-of-control spending will produce massive deficits, high costs for consumer goods and fewer jobs. Citizens have tried to communicate this message to Obama and the Democrats in every way possible, from protesting in record numbers to historic votes against Democrats in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts.

Obama and the Democrats have chosen, at their peril, to ignore the will of the people and enact the economy-wrecking ObamaCare with one-party rule, bribing unprincipled Democrats with sleazy deals.

The powerful video posted on YouTube called "America Rising: An Open Letter to Democrat Politicians Patriotic Resistance" implores Americans to hold Democrats accountable in the 2010 elections.

A video posted on YouTube called "We The People" provides an inspiring call for us to take back our country from the socialists.

In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this call is made for all Americans to unite, engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and vote in November to stop the Democrats from shredding our Constitution and governing without the consent of the governed.

History shows that during the 1960's Democrats used racist slurs and brutality against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Republican until the day he died, and other nonviolent activists who were trying to stop the Democrats from denying civil rights to black Americans. Today, Democrats are using similar reprehensible tactics against conservatives and Republicans, especially black Republicans, who are trying to stop the Democrats from stripping civil liberties from all Americans.

While claiming to be racially sensitive, Democrats use racist invectives to denigrate black Republicans, demeaning them as "sellouts", "Uncle Toms", "House Negroes", "House N-word", or worse. The list of black Republicans attacked by Democrats is long and includes RNC Chairman Michael Steel, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, General Colin Powell and Justice Clarence Thomas.

On the left-wing Internet website called "The News Blog," Democrats posted a doctored photograph of RNC Chairman Michael Steele while he was the Lt. Governor of Maryland and running for a Senate seat. Democrats depicted Steele as a "Simple Sambo" with a blackened minstrel-style face, nappy hair and big, think red lips. The cartoon caption read: "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house". This contemptible racist stereotype is the same one Democrats used to demean black men during the era of slavery and segregation.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice was the object of particularly vicious racist attacks by Democrats. In addition to several other appalling images of Dr. Rice produced by several Democrats, cartoonist Jeff Danziger denigrated Dr. Rice as an ignorant, barefoot "mammy", reminiscent of the stereotyped black woman in the movie "Gone with the Wind" about the slave era black woman who remarked: "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies". This is the type of racist stereotype Democrats used to demean black women during the era of slavery and segregation.

A video was shot by WKRN Video Journalist Beau Fleenor at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee that shows Al Sharpton demeaning Gen. Powell and Dr. Rice, when Sharpton was asked to give his opinions about whether Powell and Rice were "House Negroes".

An article that appeared in a Portland, Oregon paper was one of many exposing how hardly a ripple of protest was made by black Democrats when Harry Belafonte publicly denounced Gen. Powell as a "House Negro".

Posted on the Internet is an article entitled "A Black Man, The Progressive's Perfect Trojan Horse" by black entertainer Lloyd Marcus exposing Democratic Party racism toward black Tea Party protestors.

The truth about Democratic Party racism can be harsh medicine, but is sorely needed to finally eject the race-baiting poison injected into our body politic by Democrats, the architects of modern-day racism. As stated by author Michael Scheuer, the Democratic Party is the party of the four S's: slavery secession, segregation and now socialism. A prominent pundit affirmed that the Republican Party is the party of the four F's: family, faith, freedom and fairness. Civil rights history details are in the NBRA Civil Rights Newsletter that is posted on the website of the National Black Republican Association.

Written out of our history books are the following facts. The Republican Party was started in 1854 as the anti-slavery party and, after the Civil War, Republicans amended the US Constitution to grant blacks freedom (13th Amendment), citizenship (14th Amendment) and the right to vote (15th Amendment). Republicans then passed the civil rights laws to ensure blacks could exercise their Constitutional rights, including the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1867 and 1875. After Democrats took control of Congress in 1892, Democrats passed the Repeal Act of 1894 that overturned civil rights legislation enacted by the Republicans. It took Republicans nearly six decades to finally achieve passage of civil rights legislation in the 1950's and 1960's pushed through by Republican Senator Everett Dirksen over the objection of the Democrats.

In addition to their reprehensible of record of fighting against civil rights legislation, Democrats have a long history of racial violence. Recorded by liberal professor Dr. Eric Foner in his book "A Short History of Reconstruction", is the horrifying fact that Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan in 1866 to lynch and terrorize Republicans - black and white. The Klan became the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, killing over 2,000 black Republicans and over 1,000 white Republicans.

The violence against the 1960's era civil rights protestors was inflicted by Democrats. Democrat Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor in Birmingham let loose vicious dogs and turned skin-burning fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators. Democrat Georgia Governor Lester Maddox famously brandished ax handles to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant. In 1954, Democrat Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus tried to prevent desegregation of a Little Rock public school. Democrat Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in front of the Alabama schoolhouse in 1963 and thundered, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."

All of these racist Democrats remained Democrats until the day they died. One survivor from that era, Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, a former recruiter in the Ku Klux Klan, is still a Democrat and a prominent leader in the Democrat-controlled Congress where he was honored by his fellow Democrats as the "conscience of the Senate." It does not even make common sense to believe that after the Republicans spent over 150 years fighting the Democrats and won, the racist Democrats suddenly rushed into the arms of the Republicans. In fact Democrats declared that they would rather vote for a "yellow dog" than any one in the Republican Party, the party for blacks.

If our soldiers did and do voluntarily put their lives on the line to preserve our freedoms, then we can do no less. If Dr. King had the courage to fight for civil rights for blacks in the face of racist slurs by Democrats and threats of imprisonment or death, then we surely have the courage to stand up for our civil liberties in the face of such threats. This we owe to ourselves, our country and future generations..


NYC Will Stop Paying the Poor for Good Behavior

An unusual and much-heralded program that gave poor families cash to encourage good behavior and self-sufficiency has so far had only modest effects on their lives and economic situation, according to an analysis the Bloomberg administration released on Tuesday.

The three-year-old pilot project, the first of its kind in the country, gave parents payments for things like going to the dentist ($100) or holding down a full-time job ($150 per month). Children were rewarded for attending school regularly ($25 to $50 per month) or passing a high school Regents exam ($600).

When the mayor announced the program, he said it would begin with private money and, if it worked, could be transformed into an ambitious permanent government program.

But city officials said Tuesday that there were no specific plans at this time to go forward with a publicly financed version of the program. In an announcement at BronxWorks, a nonprofit social services agency, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pointed to a few examples of success: High school students who met basic proficiency standards before high school tended to increase their attendance, receive more class credits and perform better on standardized tests; more families went to the dentist for regular checkups.

But the elementary and middle school students who participated made no educational or attendance gains. Neither did high school students who performed below basic proficiency standards before high school.

“If you never fail, I can tell you, you’ve never tried new, innovative things,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “And I don’t know that this is a failure. I think it is, some things worked, and some things didn’t, and some things the jury’s still out on. And anything new you’re going to have that diversity of results.”

While payments to the families will end in August, researchers will continue to monitor them for three more years, to see if any behavior encouraged by the initial payments will continue. A final report will be issued in 2013.

The mayor has been applauded for his openness to innovative approaches to fighting poverty; one in five New York residents are poor.

But from the beginning, the program set off controversy. Conservative critics asked whether it was wise to pay people for simple behavior like going to parent-teacher conferences or doctor’s appointments; some liberals considered the approach condescending. The mayor, a believer in incentives in business and government, was determined to try it, but he avoided using public money initially.

The program was certainly expensive: Mr. Bloomberg and Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, traveled to Mexico to learn more about Oportunidades, the welfare program there on which the New York City effort was based.

About $40 million in private donations, including from Mr. Bloomberg’s foundation, was collected to finance the effort, called Opportunity NYC Family Rewards. Two years into the program, more than $14 million had been paid out to 2,400 families. An additional $10.2 million is for operating costs, and $9.6 million for research and evaluation.

While most behavioral changes were not large, the cash provided to the families had a short-term effect: Those who participated earned, on average, more than $6,000 a year in the first two years. Largely as a result, those participating families were 16 percent less likely to live in poverty.

The families used the money to pay for basic living expenses, school supplies, electronic equipment and going to the movies, among other things.

More than 80 percent of the families were led by a single parent, 43 percent had three or more children and just over half of the parents held jobs. All lived in low-income areas in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The program had a bumpy start, city officials and donors said. It was hard to recruit families from the beginning, said Margot Brandenburg, an associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation, the primary source of financing. “I think people were confused, and there was some amount of distrust,” Ms. Brandenburg said. “For some people it sounded too good to be true. It took a while to explain to people what the offer was.”

Ms. Gibbs said many families had been perplexed by the guidelines that were laid out for them. Cash payments were eventually eliminated for actions like getting a library card and follow-up visits with a doctor. “Too many things, too many details, more to manage in the lives of burdened, busy households,” Ms. Gibbs said, standing next to the mayor on Tuesday. “Big lesson for the future? Got to make it a lot more simple.”

The city has been somewhat sensitive about the results of the program. Ms. Gibbs and other city officials cautioned that the report released on Tuesday reflected only initial results, and said that they were in line with other early results from similar conditional cash transfer programs in Latin America. “There have never been these overnight, miraculous turnarounds,” Ms. Gibbs said. “These are programs that are working on deeply entrenched, long-term behaviors.”

One Brooklyn family who participated in the program said they collected more than $7,610 in two years. Janice Dudley and her 16-year-old daughter, Qua-neshia Darden, of East New York, said they received rewards for school attendance, good test scores and receiving regular medical checkups.

“It gives children the motivation to want to go to school because they know they’re going to get something back,” Ms. Dudley said, adding, “We might have a little problem next year when we don’t have money on the card.”

Mr. Bloomberg sounded philosophical on Tuesday as he spoke about the challenges that fighting poverty presents. “You always hope that you’ll come across a magic silver bullet, and you never do,” he said. “If there were simple solutions, somebody would have found them a long time ago. And you make progress incrementally, particularly if you’re trying to focus on some of society’s biggest problems.”



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


1 April, 2010

Belgium (Belgium??) prepares to impose nationwide ban on face-covering veil

The face-covering veil is set to be banned within weeks in Belgium, making it the first country in Europe to make the wearing of Muslim clothing illegal. Women who flout the ban will face from one to seven days in jail or a fine of €15 to €25.

While President Sarkozy is encountering obstacles to his plans to outlaw the face-covering niqab in France, Belgium’s main parties are united behind the move and the influential home affairs committee voted for it unanimously yesterday.

A vote in the full Belgian parliament is expected on April 22 and a “yes” vote seems assured given the political consensus. “Wearing the burka in public is not compatible with an open, liberal, tolerant society,” said MP Daniel Bacquelaine, from a French-speaking centre right party who proposed the Bill. “The burka is contrary to the dignity of women. It is a walking prison.” He added: “We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen. “It is necessary that the law forbids the wearing of clothes that totally mask and encloses an individual.”

Denis Ducarme MP, also from the centre-right Reform Movement, added: “This is a very strong signal that is being sent to Islamists. I am proud that Belgium would be the first country in Europe which dares to legislate on this sensitive matter.”

Under the proposed law, groups could apply for a temporary derogation for festivals or other special events. The legislation does not apply to headscarves, but will make it illegal to wear any garment concealing the whole face or making it unrecognisable.

The ban would be imposed in streets, public gardens, sports grounds and buildings “meant for public use or to provide services” to the public, according to draft Bill.

Isabelle Praile, vice-president of the Muslim Executive of Belgium, warned that the move could set a dangerous precedent. “Today it is the full-face veil, tomorrow the veil, the day after it will be Sikh turbans and then perhaps it will be mini skirts,” she said. “The wearing of a full-face veil is part of the individual freedoms” protected by international rights laws, she added.

While few women in Belgium wear a face-covering garment, tensions have been heightened after a prominent burka-wearer, Malika El-Aroub, was arrested along with 13 others in 2008 in connection with an alleged suicide attack plot. The arrests came on the day of an EU summit although the police did not confirm the suspected target.

Ms El-Aroub, whose first husband was killed in Afghanistan after he assassinated an anti-Taleban leader, became well-known for running a jihadist website from her home in Brussels and is currently on trial for allegedly trying to recruit fighters for Afghanistan.

A Muslim maths teacher has been given until the middle of next week to return to her classroom after a lengthy court battle to stop her wearing a veil at work.

In June last year, a Belgian MP of Turkish origin was sworn in at the Brussels regional parliament wearing an Islamic headscarf in a first for the country.

In France, the Council of State, the nation’s highest administrative body, has warned that a prohibition on full-body Islamic veils in public risked being found unconstitutional. President Sarkozy said last year that such clothing was “not welcome” in France and last week repeated his intention to ban it.


Britain has become a country that lives in fear of pervasive government regulations

When Joanna Ornowska took a series of elegant pictures of a pregnant friend, she proudly gave the digital snaps to Boots to be printed. But the store refused to process the 30 photographs - because they were too good. Workers said the portraits looked to be the work of an expert and did not believe the 25-year-old student took them.

Her model, eight months pregnant Malgorzata Kulinsha, 26, took the snaps on a memory stick to a Boots store in the Lower Precinct Shopping Centre, in Coventry, West Midlands, last week.

She was challenged by staff who accused her of breaking copyright laws, which make it illegal to print professional photographs without their owner's permission. Miss Kulinsha returned the following day with her friend's student ID and a signed letter proving she was studying for a degree in photography at Coventry University. But the Boots staff demanded a further letter written on headed paper.

Even when both women went to the store to prove that the photographer and model were happy to have the snaps printed, staff refused to back down and the pair were sent away empty-handed.

Miss Ornowska, who was born in Poland but moved to the UK three years ago, said: 'Boots said the photos looked so professional that they didn't believe I had taken them. It was crazy. 'They were demanding a letter on headed paper to prove I was the photographer, but I explained to them that I was a student and did not have my own photography business.

'They showed me a book of rules and regulations which said customers needed the photographer's permission to print pictures, but nowhere did it say anything about needing such a letter.

Ms Kulinsha planned to take the pictures back to show her family in Poland. 'The photos were special to me. I don't go home very often and I wanted something to bring back to my family'

'I could have developed the pictures myself in the darkroom. But I needed them done quickly and I couldn't see what right it was of theirs to say I couldn't have copies of my own work. Should I start taking bad photos to get them printed?'

Miss Kulinsha asked her to take the portraits to show her family at home in Poland, where they do not have access to e-mail. Her friend used a Canon digital camera to take a series of photos of the blonde cradling her bump against a dark backdrop in a studio at the university. But because of the delay caused by Boots, Miss Kulinsha caught a plane home without the snaps.

She said: 'I spent ages putting on my make-up and getting dressed up to have the pictures taken. But even with the model and the photographer stood in front of them, Boots still wouldn't print the photos for us.

'The photos were special to me. I don't go home very often and I wanted something to bring back to my family, but instead I felt I was being accused of stealing someone's work.'

Miss Ornowska's university tutor Jonathan Worth condemned the store's reaction. He said: 'Joanna has only been taking pictures for a year but she is an incredible talent. The shop has asked for proof she took them, which there is obviously no possible way of doing. It's ridiculous. 'I suppose it's a bit of a back-handed compliment to her, but it was very inconvenient.'

Austin Mitchell, Labour MP for Grimsby and a campaigner for photographers' rights, added: 'Boots are clearly barmy. It's not their responsibility to enforce copyright law and they are just being over-punctilious.'

Boots last night apologised for its 'over-cautious' staff. A spokesman said: 'We have a legal obligation to ensure that we do not infringe any copyright laws including those of professional photographers. 'In the case of Joanna our store staff were over-cautious and on reflection should have sold the pictures. We have refreshed all procedures in this particular store and the staff have been fully briefed regarding appropriate customer care.'


I-VAWA: Liberal lies tempt women to embrace a radical agenda

The International Violence Against Women Act, recently introduced in Congress, is a bill that purports to curb partner violence around the world. Who could ever be opposed to that?

But look more closely, and you’ll discover a billion-dollar manifesto that is larded with ideological assumptions, logical non-sequiturs, and outright falsehoods. Many women may come to believe its alarming statistics and demand its passage – and that’s what makes this bill so worrisome. Behind its innocent-sounding name, the International Violence Against Women Act will fund “female empowerment” programs that would serve to break up families, vilify men as abusers, and leave millions of women dependent on the state.

The bill does that by defining domestic violence expansively to include “coercion” and “psychological harm,” convincing women to call the police at sign of the first sharply-uttered word, and then slapping a restraining order on the couple that has the effect of precluding partner counseling or reconciliation.

I’m not going to claim that Democrats Sen. John Kerry or Rep. Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts truly desire to undermine the fundamental family unit. But the fact is, their bill is awash in a sea of Orwellian half-truths that are designed to scare women out of the protective embrace of the family. If even half the bills’ 15 findings were truthful, I might think about supporting the International Violence Against Women Act. But it turns out to be a sham, a scientific legerdemain that calls to mind the United Nations’ now-discredited predictions on global warming.

Take I-VAWA’s leading claim that “up to 70% of women in some countries report having being victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives.” Two years ago University of New Hampshire researcher Murray Straus published the results of a survey of university-student dating violence in 32 countries around the world. The results? About a quarter of the students acknowledged a slap, a shove, or other type of partner violence in the past year, and – get this – women were more likely to be the aggressors than men.

The I-VAWA bill deftly omits mention of that inconvenient truth.

Then there’s the indelicate qualifier, “up to.” Exactly what does that mean? Turns out the “up to 70%” points to two obscure studies from Nicaragua and Papua New Guinea -- and neither of the studies were peer-reviewed. That’s the mistake the United Nations global warming panel made when it warned the Himalayan glaciers were doomed to melt by 2035.

The I-VAWA bill makes other claims that any half-intelligent person would immediately recognize as preposterous. Like the sky-is-falling claim that “Violence against women dramatically impedes progress in meeting all of our global health goals.”

Really? Around the world, the leading causes of death are infectious diseases, heart conditions, and cancer. So TB, malaria, and measles are all caused by partner abuse? Cancer, too? I know it sounds funny, but that’s what Sen. Kerry and Rep. Delahunt want us to believe.

Kerry and Delahunt also declaim that domestic violence is contributing “dramatically” to maternal mortality. Better tell that to the Pan American Health Organization, because they’re on record as saying, “It is not yet known what proportion of maternal mortality is due to domestic violence.”

Then there’s the old chestnut that “1 in 4 women are abused during pregnancy” – that one is calculated to convince all the chivalrous souls out there to jump on the I-VAWA bandwagon. But wait! The World Health Organization’s 10-country survey of domestic violence found the real figure is closer to 4-12%, not one in four. Weren’t liberals the ones who invented fuzzy math?

Overall, the bill contains 15 findings. Of the 15, none of them are objective, verifiable, and truthful: That’s right, the International Violence Against Women Act, to put it delicately, is filled with fibs. As a result of its ideologically-driven recommendations, I-VAWA is more likely to harm than help women.


A Druze stands up to Obama

The Druze are a non-Jewish religion of partly Muslim origins. It is part of their gospel to be loyal to whatever country they inhabit

The man who is rapidly distinguishing himself as head and shoulders above 99% of the Jews in Israel just delivered a long-overdue poke in the eye to Our First Muslim President, peace be upon him. The great Ayoub Kara seems to divide his time between encouraging more Jewish babies to be born in Israel and standing up for the rights of all Jews to live in Israel. Whattaguy!!

Deputy Minister: If US Balks at Veto, Shun 'Hussein Obama'

Nisan 15, 5770, 30 March 10 10:10

by Gil Ronen

(Israelnationalnews.com) Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara reacted acerbically to a BBC report that the United States may abstain from using its veto power if the UN Security Council votes to condemn Israeli building for Jews in eastern Jerusalem.

"If Israel does not receive backing from the United States in the Security Council and the US does not veto a resolution of condemnation,” said the Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee, “we should cut off all contacts with Hussein Obama and call upon the American people to raise a cry of dissent against the belligerent policy that has been implemented of late – first and foremost by the president of the US.”

Enough 'abuse'

The “abuse” and “aggression” toward the prime minister is abuse of each and every Israeli, he said, in a reference to the humiliations Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has undergone in his visits to the White House.

Kara intentionally used Obama's Muslim middle name, leaving out his first name, which is also of Muslim origin.

Kara said Netanyahu should receive maximum backing within Israel, and particularly inside the Likud party.

Dep.-Min. Kara was hosted for the Passover seder at Pisgat Ze'ev, along with dozens of Christian Zionists who came from the US to celebrate Passover in Israel.

Dep.-Min. Kara, a Druze, is one of the most proudly and aggressively Zionist members of the current coalition. He has compared his connection to the Jewish people to that of Yitro (Jethro) and Moses. The Druze see Yitro – whom they call Shuaib – as their greatest prophet.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.


Examining political correctness around the world and its stifling of liberty and sense. Chronicling a slowly developing dictatorship

BIO for John Ray

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."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amedment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

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