Friday, October 09, 2015

British values as they were

When my dad handed me the dusty manila envelopes, I was only mildly curious about what lay inside. Dad said he'd been looking for something else when he found them at the bottom of my mother's wardrobe.

Although Mum's been dead now for more than ten years, he's left many of her things undisturbed. The envelopes were heavy and as I peeked inside, I saw they were stuffed full of faded certificates. The first one I picked up had what felt like coins inside and when I tipped it up, out tumbled two silver medals I'd won at primary school for Irish dancing.

Soon I had spread out on the table evidence of every public exam I've passed in a lifetime - starting with O-levels and ending with the professional qualification in journalism that I was awarded just before I moved out of the family home for the last time when I was 25. Then there were awards for things I only vaguely remember - public speaking and poetry recitals.

Of course, a lump rose in my throat at the realisation of how proud my mother had been of me. It wasn't that I was any kind of genius or child prodigy: just that my achievements have always seemed massive to my parents in the context of their lives.

They both left school in Liverpool at 14 without an exam certificate between them; my mother worked as a clerk and my dad on the docks. They married young and brought up six daughters on a council estate. But what struck me more forcibly was the quiet nature of that pride - in such sharp contrast to the endless roar of boastful self-promotion from social media that now forms the background noise to all our lives.

Sitting across the table, Dad must have read my thoughts. 'She never boasted about you, you know,' he said. 'It makes other people feel bad.'

She'd certainly earned the right to be proud - more for her dedication as a mother than for any triumphs I had. She always encouraged us to have a go at things. I wasn't a pretty child but she gave me the confidence to take part in the daft beauty competitions they ran in the seaside holiday camps where we stayed in the Sixties. Needless to say, I was never placed.

Those Irish dancing medals were the most evocative. They took me back to on-stage line-ups in draughty church halls on winter evenings, the flutter of nervousness before the fiddle struck up on a scratchy vinyl disk.

I was never any good at it really, but I wanted to be good, as good as the local champion who - born to dance - was lithe and graceful as a gazelle and took the gold in every class. I was much more elephant than gazelle and it took me hours of practice to get those silvers.

I couldn't have done it without my mum, travelling with me to dancing competitions on the bus because we never had a car, then sitting, wrapped in her winter coat, at the back of the hall. When I won, she didn't say anything much, just a well done and a big beaming smile, but there was a happiness that shone out from her in those moments that I now recognise was quiet pride.

As I drove away from my parents' house with those faded envelopes now in my careful possession, it struck me how dog-eared some of the certificates were. Mum certainly hadn't put them away and left them. I realised she must have been like a squirrel hiding something precious and then taking it out when her spirits needed a lift.

I saw her in my mind's eye, burying those treasures at the bottom of the wardrobe and then retrieving them, turning over the precious memories in her hands. She hadn't needed to share that pride with anyone, not even my dad.

The image forced me to ask myself, what is it about me and the rest of my generation that we boast so much at the drop of a hat? I love my garden but I can't even plant up a tub without taking a picture on my smartphone, posting it online and waiting and checking for the inevitable thumbs-ups from friends, their electronic round of applause. Those battered envelopes brought back to me my mother's modesty. It grew out of a very deep sense of what really mattered in life: duty, kindness, putting others first.

Basic kindness was what ruled out boasting, the fear that, as my dad explained it, somebody else's child might not have done so well and the negative comparison would make that person feel bad.

In my parents' book, the triumphs of your children should only ever be shared with the people who loved them and had a genuine interest - so almost no one outside the family. I thought of the people I've known who've bragged about their children and how rotten it's made me feel over the years.

I have an only child, Tony, who was born at the end of August and is always one of the youngest in class. It's not such a problem now he's 16 and an avid reader, but I remember the misery at the school gates when he was little.

He was the last child struggling with the basic reading books when other parents delighted aloud in how their kids were racing their way through the latest Harry Potter. Then there were the couple whose son was a keen swimmer - not just keen, but destined for the British youth squad.

Tony, by contrast, had no interest in sport whatsoever, just like his Mum and Dad. I'd made him take swimming lessons so he'd be safe in the water, but I usually had to coax and cajole him to the pool. There have been occasions when I've boasted about my own son, usually when he's done something I never expected and could never have attempted myself. He may have been a reluctant swimmer but dragging him to the pool certainly paid off and he was confident in the water from the age of about 12.
I couldn't have done it without my mum, travelling with me to dancing competitions on the bus because we never had a car, then sitting, wrapped in her winter coat, at the back of the hall

When we took him to California on the holiday of a lifetime, he spent hours in a surging ocean while we watched from the beach. I posted the pictures I took of him when he stood triumphantly on his surfboard for the very first time.

We don't only boast about our children, of course, but about scores of material things. We post pictures of ourselves whenever we buy anything - from a pair of shoes to a new kitchen, or a sofa or car.

Then there are the triumphs money can't buy: the flowers from loved ones, the professional prizes, the invitations to prestigious events. I blush as I write this but, yes, I have been guilty of showing off about all of those things through snapshots I've shared online with a wide group of acquaintances and friends.

Casting my mind back, I can't remember hearing my mother boasting about anything at all. For one thing, in her day most people didn't have the material goods we brag about. The War had left Britain on its uppers. Mum and Dad's childhood near the docks meant they witnessed the aftermath of the bombing raids aimed at cutting the vital supply lines from Liverpool to America. They'd both seen bodies lined up on the pavement when a shelter took a direct hit. They felt lucky to survive, to be part of what was then a huge working class.

As Mum used to put it: 'We didn't have anything but then neither did anyone else, so we didn't care.'

It's a cliche, I know, but perhaps the lack of material things can help concentrate the mind on how to develop a set of values that bring pleasure in the absence of lots of new stuff. Things do bring us pleasure, but often it's a temporary high.

The shine can wear off when we find what we've bought isn't as good as we anticipated or - worse - when we compare it with something better that someone else happens to have. All the TVs, computers and smartphones we covet so much have given us vast arrays of knowledge at our fingertips.

The huge downside is that although we may be no more likely to mix with the super-rich than my mother's generation, we know everything about them. All that they have and do is paraded before us in an endless display that is impossible to match.

No matter how lucky you are, that tour around some footballer's magnificent home featured in a glossy magazine can make you feel a little sick inside.

Even the invitations online to share a friend's views of a breathtaking sunset on holiday in Barbados can be a real downer when you can't afford a holiday this year and it's hosing down outside.

My mother's generation was spared all that. The Royal Family might crop up in the news, opening hospitals and launching ships, but they might as well have been on another planet for all the British public knew about the detail of their lives.

As it happened, the very day my dad handed me those old brown envelopes whose contents my mother had so cherished, I'd presented a phone-in about happiness on You And Yours, the daily programme I present on BBC Radio 4.

We'd been discussing whether you can learn to be happy. Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at Warwick University, was our expert guest.

He's been studying our sense of happiness for years. It's a serious business now in the peaceful, wealthy West. Our Prime Minister has even instructed the official statisticians to report on the national sense of wellbeing.

Professor Oswald had revealed an astonishing fact that morning - we haven't got steadily happier as we've become better off. 'Britain is not happier than it was in 1990 when we first started collecting careful data,' he told me. 'And in the U.S., where they started collecting happiness data in the Seventies, people are not happier than they were then.

'The standard theory about why we're not any happier is that we do so many comparisons. If you're constantly looking over your shoulder to decide how good your life is, well then unfortunately everyone is getting a faster BMW, a bigger speedboat, a bigger house at the same time as you.'

It isn't just a theory, he added. 'A lot of evidence suggests that materialism is dangerous.'

He said that in laboratory tests if you lie two strangers side by side in brain scanners, and then tell one of them that the person alongside them is richer than they are, you can read the displeasure in the activity of their brains.

Comparisons are destructive, we all know that. They were destructive in my mother's day, which is why she didn't boast.

What could Professor Oswald tell us about what makes people happy? He said that friendship is very important: my mother used to tell me that.

She modelled it over a lifetime and even when she was dying and was too frail to go out she welcomed the phone calls from friends who'd been part of her life since our childhood. I remember her face lighting up at the sound of a cherished voice.

In future, I've decided to spend a lot more time contemplating the values I regard as significant - kindness, generosity and fairness, for example. I want to forget the things I'd like to have. I plan to sit sometimes and ponder the good things I've helped to make happen, just like my mother did with my dancing medals and exam certificates.

There'll be no further need for me to post any selfies. I know I'm not the only one who'd be a lot happier for that.


Why everything you’re told about being a working mum is WRONG

By a former high-flyer who's enraged the sisterhood

The pivotal moment came one evening at a glamorous reception for heads of state and foreign ministers from all over the world. I sipped champagne, greeted guests, mingled and chatted.

But my mind kept wandering. I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son 200 miles away at home, and the urgent phone calls on an almost daily basis about his teenage transgressions.

When puberty hit, he'd become sulky, truculent and monosyllabic. He skipped homework, disrupted classes and played truant. Now he'd been suspended from school and picked up by the police for a stupid prank.

The next step was expulsion. It was unthinkable. Yet where was I when this tumult was erupting in his young life?

I was 18 months into my dream job as the first female director of policy planning for the then U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. I worked in Washington and lived there five days a week, commuting home to my husband, Andy and our two boys (the youngest was then aged 12) at weekends.

Andy was our sons' primary carer: he structured his job as a professor to fit round their routine, he ferried them to out-of-school activities, helped them with their homework, soothed them when they were sick and cooked their meals.

My parenting was relegated to a subsidiary role. When our older son was six, he drew a picture of his family and portrayed me as a laptop. Not even a woman with a laptop. Just a laptop. I shared a rueful laugh with Andy over it.

But that evening, four years ago, at the gathering of the great and the good, I wasn't laughing any more.

Instead, I had a sense of being split in two; of straddling an ever-widening crevasse. And I'd had enough. I needed to go home to my family. More than that, I wanted to.

Andy's flexibility had allowed me to be the main breadwinner, to pursue my career on its fast trajectory. But the emotional costs of my choice, I realised, far outweighed the benefits.

And although I was - and remain - a feminist, it struck me with the force of a hammer blow that, although the mantra of the movement insists otherwise, women can't have it all.

So after two years working for Clinton, I bolted for home. I'd always assumed I'd apply for a foreign policy job and stay in Washington - but the credo on which I'd built my life was shifting like quicksand.

I, a high-profile career woman - and role model - was conceding that it was impossible to juggle the demands of high office with the needs of my two sons.

I felt, too, that it would be dishonest to continue to propagate the myth that if you just try hard enough you can make it work. I wanted to point out that if I, with all my middle-class privileges - money, domestic help and a husband as main carer - could not pull it off, what hope was there for a mother struggling without these advantages?

So I wrote an article: Why Women Still Can't Have It All. What I had not anticipated was the tsunami of responses: clearly it touched a nerve.

There were women of my own age - 57 - who had delegated their child-rearing and sustained high-profile jobs, who felt I'd betrayed the women's movement.
I'd been the one telling young women they can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field they are in. But now I was on the other side

They remarked that it was ‘such a shame' I'd left my career for my kids. Others were openly aghast. ‘You of all people!' scolded one. And some were condescending: ‘I never had to compromise my career, and my kids turned out fine,' said one colleague.

But the article also gave comfort to so many young women who expressed relief at being absolved from the duty of trying to be superwoman.

All my life, I'd been on the other side of this exchange. I'd been the one wearing the faintly superior smile when yet another woman told me she had decided to take some time out to spend more time with her family.

I'd been the woman congratulating herself on her unswerving commitment to the feminist cause, chatting smugly with a dwindling number of college friends who had reached their places on the highest rungs of their professions.

I'd been the one telling young women they can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field they are in. But now I was on the other side.


Over 10,000 Attend Another MASSIVE Demo Against Migrant Invasion in Europe

Another massive rally against the Muslim invasion of Europe. The anti-islamization movement is growing every day. It is the rational response to Chancellor Merkel's vow to take in one million Muslim migrants in Germany alone.

This is Europe's version of the Tea Party.

The only mainstream media report I could find was in Japan Times. The coverage is notoriously biased - which we have come to expect. But there is nothing ‘far right' about this movement.  This is a "we the people' movement. Anyone with half a mind would oppose the destruction of their countries, economies, way of life and most of all their freedom.  -- Pamela Geller

BERLIN - Thousands of far-right protesters, many wearing T-shirts that read "refugees not welcome," gathered in Germany Monday to condemn the government for allowing an unprecedented migrant influx.

With Europe's biggest economy expecting to take in up to 1 million people fleeing war and poverty this year, anger has flared among anti-foreigner groups and backers of the anti-Islamic Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident (PEGIDA).

"Merkel is guilty, commits ethnocide against the German people," read one banner at the rally in Dresden, the historic city in the former communist East where PEGIDA emerged about a year ago and is now hoping to rekindle the movement.

At their peak the xenophobic rallies attracted 25,000, but they fizzled early this year after PEGIDA's co-founder, Lutz Bachmann, 42, sparked public uproar with Facebook selfies showing him sporting a Hitler mustache and hair-do.

But a week ago, attendance again swelled to nearly 10,000 according to German media reports. The police no longer provide crowd estimates.

Bachmann - who was charged last week with inciting racial hatred by labeling asylum-seekers "animals," "trash" and "filthy rabble" - was expected to again address the demonstration on Monday night.

As the crowd swelled to several thousand people, about three-quarters of them men and many waving Germany's national flag, police in about 10 vans looked on.

A week ago PEGIDA supporters, who often condemn what they call the "liar press" assaulted a journalist.

Supporters on Monday again yelled "we are the people," co-opting the slogan used by the pro-democracy protesters whose demonstrations a quarter-century ago preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"I'm not a right-winger, but I'm scared," said Frank, 59, one of the few protesters who agreed to speak to AFP, on condition he not be fully named.

"I think of my children and grandchildren," he said, voicing fears about the "Islamization" of his country. "We fought for our freedom 25 years ago, we have to demonstrate again.

"I am OK with welcoming sick and wounded refugees, but in the TV images we can see young men. Those are economic refugees," he added.

Uwe Friedrich, 46, said he had been with PEGIDA since the start, and wanted Muslims to leave the country. He was waving a sign that read: "We have a right to our German homeland and German culture.

Another placard quoted Hungary's hard-line Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who recently described the refugee influx as "a German problem" - with the placard adding the question "where are the life rafts for our children?"

Another, more ominous sign read: "Resistance has become a duty against our country's destruction by Merkel & Co.


Australia: Pauline Hanson’s Facebook post on Muslims gains support

Hanson is an independent conservative who is not afraid to broach ethnic matters

SHE once rose to power on a tide of anti-Asian sentiment and it seems Pauline Hanson is now tapping into concern about Muslims to help her get re-elected.

A Facebook post urging people to vote for Hanson at the next federal election, has been shared more than 25,000 times in just two days. The post says: “A vote for me at the next Federal Election will be your insurance, the major parties will have absolute opposition to any more Mosques, Sharia Law, Halal Certification & Muslim Refugees. NO MORE! Share if you agree”.

An image accompanying the post says “No More: Mosques, Sharia law, Halal certification, Muslim refugees”. It has been liked more than 18,000 times.

Hanson, who is planning to run as a Queensland senate candidate for One Nation, has called for tighter Muslim immigration laws in the wake of the “politically motivated” Sydney shooting last week.

“Both sides of parliament are not doing enough to address this whole issue,” she told Sunrise.

“What Islam stands for is not compatible with our country ... let the Muslim countries take them.”

She said Australians need to know what was being taught in Islamic schools and mosques.

“Get out of your glasshouses and go and see what’s happening.”

Many of the comments on the post are supportive, one said: “You have my vote Pauline. I don’t pay taxes to be shot in my own country”.

Another said: “For the first time in my life I will be voting for someone who actually says what most free thinking Australians want”.

But there are plenty of others which challenge her view. One from Omer Dautovic has been liked almost 2000 times and responds to another comment, it states: “I’m Muslim, my kind has been here for over 50 years (Bosnian Muslims) we don’t want Sharia law as this great country provides us with a just and moral system”. It goes on to list other issues such as domestic violence, the free trade agreement and violent criminals, saying “I think there’s a few more problems than just ‘Muslims’.”

Another says: “Pauline is racist and disgusting. I have beautiful Muslim friends who have human rights to be here ... She’s certainly not a traditional owner of this country either”.

Hanson once represented the Brisbane seat of Oxley as an independent after being disendorsed by the Liberal party. In her maiden speech she famously said she believed Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians”.

“They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate,” she said.

Hanson opposes multiculturalism, special government assistance for Aborigines, illegal boat people and foreign investment in agricultural land and established housing.

Hanson failed to be re-elected despite a number of campaigns, including standing in NSW and Queensland elections and bids for a Senate seat in 2001, 2007 and 2013.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Thursday, October 08, 2015

When is a riot not a riot?

Newspapers understandably described it as a riot but police insisted that it was not.  Why?  Because the participants were mostly black? It is hard to tell from the very grainy footage available but there does seem to be a lot of brown skin in it

A picture from the scene -- after police arrive

Police were forced to shut down an entire street this evening after a mass brawl broke out just outside Walthamstow Central tube station.

Grainy footage posted on social media sites Facebook and Twitter appears to show groups of teenagers - the majority of them young girls - grappling with one another outside the station at around 5pm.

Around 100 officers from the Metropolitan Police were forced to shut down Hoe Street, where the station is located, in an effort to get the 200-strong crowd of youths under control.

This evening while police claimed the group had moved on, on social media users continued to post videos and images purporting to show further fights and scuffles breaking out in the area - including a group of girls brawling inside a branch of Sainsbury's.

Dozens of police vehicles attended the incident in an attempt to break up the fights and disperse the crowd

Three people have now been arrested following the incident and police - who say the incident was not a riot - remain at the scene this evening.

One of the videos appears to show a young women ripping hair extensions from another's head.

Another video shows a group savagely beating a girl lying on the floor, and another shows a young woman being arrested.

The hashtag  #WalthamstowRiots began trending on Twitter soon after the incident. One local tweeted: 'There's basically a riot in Walthamstow rn'.

Another said: 'Police have the whole area sealed off - just been there, forget travelling down Hoe St'.

One tweeted he saw 'over 100' police in the area as they attempted to defuse the situation outside a McDonald's restaurant.

Samee Ullah, co-owners of Director's Cut in the High Street, told the Guardian Series: 'I looked out [the window] and I saw hundreds of kids shouting and screaming, they were coming from the Hoe Street end.  'It looked like someone had gone into Nandos and they were waiting for them to come out.

'They brought the whole street to a standstill. We asked some of them and they said it was "college fights."'

While the reason for the mass brawl remains unclear, hundreds of users on social media claimed it was sparked by an argument between two young women from rival colleges squabbling over a man.

One Twitter user even suggested the brawl had been pre-arranged and claimed flyers had been handed out outside a local college advertising the fight.

Most of the videos and pictures posted on social media appear to show young girls fighting each other

Waltham Forest Police said around 200 young people aged between 16 and 20 gathered in Walthamstow, adding they believe the majority are not from the local area.

A police spokesman said: 'Due to the large numbers and calls about a fight several police resources were deployed.   'At the time of the police arrival, the group were not committing offences but their presence in such numbers would be alarming to members of the public as would the volume of police vehicles.

'It is important to stress there has been no riot.

'The MPS Territorial Support Group were called and dealt with a large group who refused to leave.' 

A 23-year-old man told the Evening Standard: 'As I came out of the train station, I usually get a bus, however they had closed off the bus station and in the market area nearby there were about 20 police cars and a few riot vans blocking off the pathway, and surrounding it about 150 people who were involved in an incident which looked like a standoff with the police.'

The newspaper reports today's incident follows an alleged brawl which took place outside McDonalds on the same street last night. 

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy tweeted her disgust following the incident this evening.  She wrote: 'Furious to hear there is a fight outside Walthamstow Central station - will be following up with police but pls stay clear of area for now.'

Ms Creasy appeared to believe the youngsters seen in the footage may have attended colleges in the area.  She wrote: '[I] will be taking matter up with college heads once clear who involved.'

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'Shortly after 5pm today police were called to reports of a large group of youths causing a disturbance in the Hoe Street / Station Approach area of Walthamstow.

'Officers from Waltham Forest Borough and the Territorial Support group (TSG) attended the scene.  'The group then began to disperse. There are no reports of any persons with injuries at this time.  'Officers currently remain in the area.'


Protesting for the sake of protesting

Let’s be real: The “protest” was not so much a protest as a coordinated cry for attention

A group of playful protesters picketed outside the Museum of Fine Arts on Monday, expressing their dislike of painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s work.

It’s nothing personal, says Ben Ewen-Campen, he just doesn’t think French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir is much of a painter. Monday, the Harvard postdoc joined some like-minded aesthetes for a playful protest outside the Museum of Fine Arts.

The rally, which mostly bewildered passersby, was organized by Max Geller, creator of the Instagram account Renoir Sucks at Painting, who wants the MFA to take its Renoirs off the walls and replace them with something better. Holding homemade signs reading “God Hates Renoir” and “Treacle Harms Society,” the protesters ate cheese pizza purchased by Geller, and chanted: “Put some fingers on those hands! Give us work by Paul Gauguin !” and “Other art is worth your while! Renoir paints a steaming pile!”

Craig Ronan, an artist from Somerville, learned about the protest on Instagram and decided to join. “I don’t have any relationship with these people aside from wanting artistic justice,” he said.

The museum hasn’t commented on the fledgling movement, but a few folks walking by Monday seemed amused. “I love their sense of irony,” said Liz Byrd, a grandmother from Phoenix who spent the morning in the museum with her daughter and grandchild. “I love Renoir, but I think this is great.”


Cybersexism? Yet another feminist panic

The UN’s report on cybersexism is shrill and illiberal

On Friday, the United Nations released a report called Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls. Described as a ‘worldwide wake-up call’, the report was written to raise awareness about so-called cybersexism and its consequences. Calling for further surveillance and regulation of the internet, the report promotes the use of the three Ss: sensitisation, safeguarding and sanctioning.

The report gives detailed lists of the varying definitions of harassment and warns that a failure to address the supposed onslaught of cybersexism will result in women’s lives being put at risk: ‘Now that a cyber touch is recognised as equally as harmful as a physical touch, all citizens must prepare themselves to take the appropriate action.’

But the UN is precisely against citizens taking initiative and dealing with instances of unpleasant behaviour on their own. Its report calls for further government monitoring of our online interactions. This covers the UN’s first points of sensitisation and safeguarding. The final S, sanctions, will no doubt lead to more cases like that of Peter Nunn, who was sent to jail for 18 weeks for trolling Labour MP Stella Creasy. Rather than letting individuals decide what they consider to be appropriate internet usage, the UN report advocates the creation of more laws to decide what citizens can do, and what they can be exposed to, online.

Yet again, women are the main target of this victim-culture logic. The report mimics every negative view of women propagated by contemporary feminist politics. Women are presented as too weak to handle nasty words online, too stupid to report it to the website if it all gets a bit much, and perhaps even too scared to use the internet at all: ‘The respect for and security of girls and women must at all times be front and centre of those in charge of producing and providing the content, technical backbone and enabling environment of our digital society. Failure to do so will clip the potential of the internet as an engine for gender equality and women’s empowerment.’

Forgive me, but I thought the internet was for expanding our knowledge, communicating with people in different time zones, or just plain entertainment. Rather than seeing the internet for what it is – an exciting technological advancement – the UN report presents it as a tool for social engineering. It puts women on a pedestal as sacred and fragile beings who must be protected at all costs from the rest of the world. Not only is this sentiment patronising and incredibly insulting to any female with half a mind of her own — it is also extremely out of touch. As someone who grew up with the internet, I can vouch for the fact that the majority of online ‘bullying’ among young people comes from bitchy gossip – mainly produced by teenage girls.

The desire to tackle offensive speech online has become influential in discussions around crime and the law. The old playground saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ has been ditched. The UN report is explicit in its assertion that ‘cyber touch’ and ‘physical touch’ – that is, words and actions – are the same thing. But maintaining the distinction between words and actions is paramount if we are to defend our most fundamental liberty: freedom of speech. Twitter trolls can be fought with witty comebacks and hard arguments, or you can just ignore them.

The report cites examples of supposed cyberbullying – including creating fake profiles, social-media harassment and ‘technology-based violence’ – in the same breath as gang rape, suicide and child pornography. The executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, told Time that ‘cyberviolence exists on a continuum with physical violence… both problems are byproducts of a society that is inherently unequal for women’. She echoes the report’s suggestion that the murder or rape of an individual, which is out of the victim’s control, is also equitable to the decision to take one’s own life after being ‘bullied’ online. ‘Whether you are dead because your partner shot you or beat you up, or you killed yourself because you couldn’t bear cyberbullying… bottom line, we lose a life.’

This hysterical document is a wake-up call. Not to the perils of being a girl on the net, but to the way in which ridiculous feminist panics are now being taken far too seriously. Gender politics, usually confined to university societies and purple-haired reading groups, is being discussed as the potential basis for new laws. What all this misses is that women are not at risk from violence online any more than they are at risk from violence over the phone.

Trolling, 140-character threats and unpleasant posts are not the same as physical violence – because words are just words. They might make us upset, but they can always be defeated. If girls are experiencing inappropriate or unpleasant things online, this is ultimately a job for parents to sort out – or an opportunity for a group of friends to think of cutting comebacks. And if grown women aren’t enjoying their online experience, they can deal with it themselves as autonomous, capable adults. In the past, women were seen as the weaker sex, in need of protection and safeguarding. The UN wants to revert us back to that position of true inequality. We need to rip up this report.


Why I still Support Charlie Hebdo

You know the shocking story: in January 2015, two masked Islamist gunmen launched a paramilitary attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly magazine. The gunmen murdered twelve people: two police officers and ten of the magazine’s staff, including the much-loved editor and cartoonist Stéphane Charbonnier (known as “Charb”).

In the immediate aftermath, many people expressed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo’s staff and their loved ones, and with the citizens of Paris. There were vigils and rallies in cities across the world. Twitter hashtags proliferated, the most viral being #JeSuisCharlie: “I am Charlie.”

Yet, as with the Salman Rushdie Affair in 1989, many Western commentators quickly turned on the victims. In an article published in Free Inquiry (warning: behind a paywall), I responded that these commentators deserved a special hall of shame.

Charlie Hebdo has more than its share of enemies. Its style is irreverent, mocking and caustic. It attracts attention from fanatics, particularly from Islamists who are incensed by its frequent drawings of the prophet Muhammad. Importantly, however, its ridicule is aimed at fearmongers and authoritarians. It is an antifascist magazine, and it treats racial bigots with particular savagery and relish. Its most despised targets include the Front National - France’s brazenly racist party of the extreme Right - and its current president, Marine Le Pen.

While the corpses of the murder victims were still warm, however, some commentators insinuated that Charb and the other victims had it coming. Most deplorable of all, perhaps, was an op-ed piece published by USA Today within hours of the attack. This was written by a London-based radical cleric, Anjem Choudary, who has publicly expressed support for the jihadist militant group ISIS (or Islamic State). Choudary openly blamed the victims, along with the French government for allowing Charlie Hebdo’s freedom to publish.

With evident approval, he stated that the penalty for insulting a prophet should be death, “implementable by an Islamic State.” He added: “However, because the honor of the Prophet is something which all Muslims want to defend, many will take the law into their own hands, as we often see.”

While Choudary’s apologetics for murder were especially chilling, much sanctimonious nastiness issued from more mainstream commentators. All too often, it came from individuals who identify with the political and cultural Left, as with an article by Teju Cole published in The New Yorker on 9 January 2015.

To be fair, Cole’s contribution to the backlash was milder than some, and certainly more eloquent and thoughtful. He even makes some reasonable points about threats to free speech that are not overtly violent. But his article is worth singling out for comment precisely because of its veneer of sophistication.

Cole appears aware that much of what looks insensitive, or outright racist, in Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons could easily receive anti-racist interpretations when viewed with basic charity and in context. He alludes to the fact that one cartoon in a back issue of Charlie Hebdo was explicable, in its immediate context of publication, as a sarcastic attack on the Front National. Yet he dismisses this point with no analysis or evidence: “naturally, the defense is that a violently racist image was being used to satirize racism”.

Well, was it being used to satirise racism or not? Little research is needed to find the context of publication and discover that, yes, it actually was used to mock the racism of the Front National - so what is Cole’s point? And why the sneering word naturally? It is calculated to suggest bad faith on the part of opponents. The thought seems to be that Charlie Hebdo’s defenders would say that, wouldn’t they?

Despite his knowledge and intellect, Cole discourages any fair search for understanding. Despite his brilliance as a writer, he belongs in the hall of shame.

The refugee crisis in Europe

More controversy has come to Charlie Hebdo with the current refugee crisis in Europe. The magazine has ridiculed harsh European attitudes to Syrian refugees, but predictably there has been much moral posturing and hand wringing in the mainstream and social media. A recent report on the ABC News site summarises the international reaction and includes images of the relevant cartoons. Opportunistic, or merely obtuse, commentators allege that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons mock the refugees themselves, particularly the drowned Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi.

That accusation is seriously and obviously mistaken, and the point of the cartoons is not especially hard to detect. They attack what they portray as European consumerism, bigotry and heartlessness.

Nonetheless, in an astonishingly clumsy article published in New Matilda,  Chris Graham takes jabs at those of us who supported Charlie Hebdo last January. He writes: “Did you hashtag ‘Je Suis Charlie’? Blindly? Without really knowing what the publication actually represents?”

Well, what does the publication actually represent? Graham hints that it’s something rather sinister - perhaps some kind of white or Christian supremacism - but if that’s what he thinks, he doesn’t spell it out so it can be refuted.

At any rate, there is no great secret about what Charlie Hebdo actually represents: it is, as I stated earlier, an antifascist magazine. It is, furthermore, anti-authoritarian, anti-racist, anti-clerical, and generally anti-establishment. In brief, Charlie Hebdo is a vehicle for radical left-wing thought of a distinctively French kind, one with antecedents at least as far back as the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

Speaking for myself, then, I certainly did not act blindly in expressing my solidarity, and I frankly resent that suggestion. By contrast, I’ve seen many people blindly accept the claim that Charlie Hebdo is some kind of racist publication.

Graham describes the cartoons in a way that reveals his confusion. He even comments on one of them: “Apart from the fact it’s not funny, it also makes absolutely no sense. Maybe the ‘humour’ is lost in the translation.”

Maybe any humour could lose something in the literal-minded translation that Graham offers his readers. More to the point, it might be lost on someone who displays no understanding of the French tradition of satire. In any event, why expect that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons will be humorous in the ordinary way? Why shouldn’t they be bleak and bitter and fierce, with no intent to elicit giggles or guffaws?

As this episode plays out, I welcome the newly established JeResteCharlie (“I remain Charlie”) project, and I’m pleased to see a recent contribution to the debate by Salman Rushdie.  Rushdie supports JeResteCharlie, he explains, “Because we are living in a time in which we are in danger of backsliding in our commitment to freedom of expression. That is why it is important to emphasize these values yet again right now.”

I agree, and I still support Charlie Hebdo.

Critique and its responsibilities

I don’t suggest that the ideas and approach of Charlie Hebdo are beyond criticism, though I do question how far that was a priority in early January before the murder victims had even been buried. That consideration aside, there is always room for fair, careful interpretation and criticism of cultural products such as prominent magazines.

There is certainly room for debate about whether Charlie Hebdo showed good taste in so quickly exploiting Aylan Kurdi’s death to make a political point (though, again, the cartoons do not mock the boy, whatever else may be said about them). Nothing I have stated here is meant to show that Charlie Hebdo’s approach to satire is tasteful. Then again, the magazine’s willingness to flout ordinary standards of taste frees it to make timely, appropriately caustic, comment on French and international politics.

We need good cultural criticism, but we also need some scrutiny of the cultural critics. Much of what passes for cultural criticism merely examines cultural products - whether novels, movies, video games, cartoons, speeches, items of clothing, or comedy routines - for superficial marks of ideological impurity.

This approach ignores (or simply fails to understand) issues of nuance, style, irony, political and artistic context, and the importance of framing effects. It fails to discover - much less appreciate - complexity, ambiguity, or instability of meaning.

There may be occasions when the excuse of irony is offered in bad faith. When that is the accusation, however, it needs support from careful, detailed, sensitive, honest argument. Meanwhile, authors and artists should not be pressured to create banal content for fear of dull or dishonest interpreters. There are some contexts, no doubt - e.g. in writing posts like this one - where straightforwardness is a virtue. In many other contexts, that’s not necessarily so.

Fair, useful cultural criticism should display some humility in the face of art. It should be grounded in an understanding of context and the relevant styles and traditions of expression. If we propose to engage in critique of cultural products, we had better show some complexity and generosity of response. That is how we earn our places in serious cultural conversations.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Study finds that daughters benefit when moms work (?)

A feminist conclusion and an improbable one so I decided to look into it.  I had a pretty good idea of what would be wrong with the finding but I wanted to be sure. I learned that the finding was from a working paper which had an inoperative link to it.  So it certainly has not been peer reviewed and may have already been taken down in response to criticism.  Not encouraging!

If ever it resurfaces, I expect to find social class variables, including IQ, to have been very poorly controlled for, if at all.  So it could be (for instance) that the small effect observed --

"daughters of employed mothers are 4.5% more likely to be employed themselves than are the daughters of stay-at-home mothers"

-- was due to smarter women being more likely to be in the workforce.  And smarter women pass that IQ on to their daughters genetically, who also find workforce access attractive.  The effect could have been an IQ effect only, in other words, with mother's occupation as such being epiphenomenal (irrelevant).

I am used to crap research like that.  It is all too common when Leftist politics are involved.  I have had many critiques published in the academic journals about politically convenient but artifactual findings

Harvard professor Kathleen McGinn believes that many working mothers feel more guilt than necessary. As the leader of a study released this May from Harvard Business School’s new Gender Initiative, she found that daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, work more hours, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time. The study, which examined data from 24 countries and 20,000 people, also found that women whose mothers worked are more likely to hold supervisory positions. For men, having a working mother didn’t seem to affect their professional fortunes, the researchers found, but those whose mothers worked do spend more hours each week caring for family members.

McGinn says working moms should feel good about the models they’re setting for their children. “For a long time we’ve been told that being home is the best thing for our kids,” she says. But that may not actually be the case. “Working moms affect their children’s gender attitudes, their beliefs about what is ‘right’ and ‘normal’ for women. They learn that it’s reasonable for women to work and for men to be involved at home.” They also do as well, if not better, at school, both in terms of academic achievement and behavior, as kids whose mothers stay home, McGinn says, citing a 2010 study published in Psychological Bulletin by Rachel G. Lucas-Thompson.

Of course, many parents have no choice but to work — the United States is the only industrialized country that does not mandate paid maternity leave — and for many mothers there is no alternative to earning a living. But to talk to local women in families where one parent could afford to stay home is to see a world where women continue to wrestle with their choices.

Working and raising kids is inevitably a juggling act. “I feel like I’m treading water a lot of the time,” says Megan Pesce, an Acton mother of two boys, ages 8 and 11, and an interior designer. “It can be overwhelming to wear both hats. I sometimes wonder if am I doing well enough in both jobs, or just average.” But Pesce, 41, always knew she wanted to have a career.

Pesce’s mother worked the night shift as a nurse when she and her two younger brothers were growing up. “My mom was a single mother who worked out of necessity. She got her master’s degree and became a forensic nurse,” says Pesce. “She helped me realize how valuable I can be. I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to do this without her example.”

Pesce does billing at night and often has client appointments in the evenings; her husband, an entrepreneur, is instrumental in keeping the household running. “I want to be around my kids as much as possible,” she says. “I go to their sports practices and games. They understand that I work, but they know that family is very important.”

A mother who chooses to stay home can face a different struggle: the challenge of raising a family on one income. Yet for Cambridge mother Kerry McDonald, it’s a sacrifice worth making. McDonald, 38, ran a successful corporate training consulting company. “Throughout my pregnancy, I could not have imagined that I wouldn’t go back to work. My work was my baby,” she recalls. “I thought I’d take a few months off. Then I found myself feeding my daughter on demand, wearing her in a sling, being responsive to her cries, and I realized that I wanted to be there to meet all of her needs.”

McGinn notes that amid all the change in the modern workplace, parents have found ways to remain present. “The number of hours parents spend with their children has remained steady since the 1960s. . . . Back then mothers weren’t sitting around playing blocks with their kids all day. They were doing everything around the house and the kids were off outside,” she says.

That may mean that, despite having parents who may struggle to be everywhere at once, kids themselves are getting just as much attention. “The total number of hours parents spend with kids now includes fathers, who are more involved than ever,” McGinn says. “And when working mothers are with their children, their time together is more focused.”

SOURCE (Some anecdotes omitted)

Obama Justice Department Sues Town for Nixing Rezoning Plan to Build Islamic Temple

In its latest effort to protect Muslim rights in the United States the Obama Justice Department is suing an Illinois town for denying a rezoning application to convert an office building into an Islamic temple.

Failing to approve plans for the Islamic worship center violates a 2000 law known as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit filed this week in federal court. The accused are lawmakers in Des Plaines, a Chicago suburb with a population of about 60,000. In 2013 the Des Plaines City Council voted 5-3 to reject a rezoning request made by the American Islamic Center (AIC) to make a vacant office building in a manufacturing zone to an institutional zone that would allow a worship center.

The plan called for 3,661 square feet of worship space that would be used for prayer services on Fridays and Sundays as well as nightly prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan when Muslims fast and commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. The new temple would also be used for youth group events and other gatherings, according the rezoning application. In nixing the plan, Des Plaines aldermen expressed concern about the loss of tax revenue since religious institutions are nonprofits that don't pay taxes. They also cited traffic and safety issues for voting against the project.

In its lawsuit the DOJ dismisses those issues and claims that the city's "treatment and denial of AICs rezoning requests constitutes the imposition or implementation of a land use regulation that imposes a substantial burden on AICs religious exercise." Denying a city zoning change to accommodate a Muslim temple also discriminates against the Islamic group on the basis of religion, according to the feds. Attorney General Loretta Lynch wants the court to issue an order forcing Des Plaines to let AIC construct its worship center in the city.

"The ability to establish a place for collective worship is a fundamental protection of the First Amendment and our civil rights laws," said Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ's bloated civil rights division, in a statement announcing the lawsuit. "The Justice Department will remain vigilant in its mission to ensure that all religious groups enjoy the right to practice their faiths freely." The federal prosecutor handling the case in Illinois said "the freedom to practice the religion of one's choosing is a precious right in our country" and the DOJ will continue to "enforce the laws that protect this important right."

The DOJ's enthusiasm for protecting Muslim rights is in a class of its own, however. Back in 2010 Obama's first Attorney General, Eric Holder, personally reassured Muslims of DOJ protection during an address at a San Francisco-based organization (Muslim Advocates) that urges members not to cooperate in federal terrorism investigations. It was a first for the nation's top federal prosecutor to publicly condone illegal behavior. A few years later the DOJ warnedagainst using social media to spread information considered inflammatory against Muslims and threatened that it could constitute a violation of civil rights.

One of the biggest and most unbelievable moves by the DOJ came in 2012 when it issued a broad order changing the way the U.S. government trains federal agents to combat terrorism and violent extremism by eliminating all materials that shed a negative light on Muslims. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) actually destroyed instructional material that characterized Muslims as prone to violence or terrorism and hundreds of pages from the 9/11 attacks were purged because they were considered offensive to Muslims under the new initiative. In 2013 Judicial Watch published an in-depth report documenting and analyzing Islamist active measures and influence operations targeting anti-terrorism training in the U.S.


Obama at LGBT Fundraiser: Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ for Transgender Minors

Speaking Sunday at the Democratic National Committee’s “LGBT Gala,” a fundraiser held in New York City, President Barack Obama called for legally prohibiting “conversion therapy” that aims to steer minors away from being transgender.

“We’ve come a long way in changing hearts and minds so that trans men and women can be who they are--not just on magazine covers, but in workplaces and schools and communities,” Obama said at the fundraiser, according to a transcript posted by the White House.

“And to build on that progress, we should support efforts to ban so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for minors,” Obama said. "So, we've got to keep striving every day to treat each other the way I believe God sees us, as equal in His eyes."

Obama was introduced at the gala by James Obergefell. Obergefell was one of the plaintiffs who sued the state of Ohio because it did not permit two people of the same-sex to “marry.” His name is now on the Supreme Court opinion—Obergefell v. Hodges—in which five members of the court declared that a right to same-sex marriage was guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868.


Theresa May: Mass immigration making 'cohesive society' impossible

Mass immigration is forcing thousands of British people out of jobs and is making it “impossible” to build a “cohesive society”, Theresa May will say.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the Home Secretary will say that there is “is no case in the national interest for immigration of the scale we have experienced over the last decade”.

Mrs May, considered a potential successor to David Cameron as Tory leader, will warn that current levels of migration into the UK are unsustainable as she calls for a system “that allows us to control who comes to our country”.

Managing the consequences of immigration “comes at a high price” and means building new homes and creating school places for foreigners, Mrs May will say.

And she will attack the “open-borders liberal left” as she reaffirms the Government’s bid to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands”.

Net migration – the difference between those arriving and those emigrating – rose by 94,000 last year to 330,000, breaking the record set under the last Labour government.

The Government has faced heavy criticism for failing to reach the Government’s target of getting net migration down below 100,000.

“Even if we could manage all the consequences of mass immigration, Britain does not need net migration in the hundreds of thousands every year. Of course, immigrants fill skills shortages and it’s right that we should try to attract the best talent in the world, but not every person coming to Britain right now is a skilled electrician, engineer or doctor"
Theresa May

Mr Cameron wants to use his renegotiation with the European Union ahead of the in-out referendum to reduce the “pull factors” to migrants.

Already the Governent has announced that new migrants from the EU will be banned from claiming benefits in the UK for four years.

Mrs May's intervention will be seen as a sign that the government is preparing further policy aimed at addressing public concern over rising migration.

In a significant hardening of the Government’s rhetoric, Mrs May will warns that “not all of the consequences” of mass migration “can be managed”.

“When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society,” Mrs May will say. “It’s difficult for schools and hospitals and core infrastructure like housing and transport to cope. And we know that for people in low-paid jobs, wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether.”

The Home Secretary will add: “Now I know there are some people who say, yes there are costs of immigration, but the answer is to manage the consequences not reduce the numbers. But not all of the consequences can be managed, and doing so for many of them comes at a high price.

“We need to build 210,000 new homes every year to deal with rising demand. We need to find 900,000 new school places by 2024. And there are thousands of people who have been forced out of the labour market, still unable to find a job.”

She will cite the migrant crisis engulfing continental Europe and will say that people “conflate refugees in desperate need of help with economic migrants who simply want to live in a more prosperous society”.

“Their desire for a better life is perfectly understandable, but their circumstances are not nearly the same as those of the people fleeing their homelands in fear of their lives,” she will say.

“There are millions of people in poorer countries who would love to live in Britain, and there is a limit to the amount of immigration any country can and should take. While we must fulfil our moral duty to help people in desperate need, we must also have an immigration system that allows us to control who comes to our country.”

In a controversial move, the Home Secretary will say that the “net economic and fiscal effect of high immigration is close to zero”.

She will say: “Even if we could manage all the consequences of mass immigration, Britain does not need net migration in the hundreds of thousands every year. Of course, immigrants fill skills shortages and it’s right that we should try to attract the best talent in the world, but not every person coming to Britain right now is a skilled electrician, engineer or doctor.

“The evidence – from the OECD, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee and many academics – shows that while there are benefits of selective and controlled immigration, at best the net economic and fiscal effect of high immigration is close to zero. So there is no case, in the national interest, for immigration of the scale we have experienced over the last decade.”

Map: Where are the immigrants in Britain?

The Office for National Statistics in August said that 636,000 migrants came to live in Britain in the 12 months to the end of March, a year-on-year rise of 84,000, while 307,000 emigrated.

The surge was driven by EU citizens attracted by Britain’s stronger economic recovery, as many other European economies flounder.

A record 269,000 EU citizens arriving in Britain, a rise of a 56,000, or a quarter, on the previous 12 months.

Separate figures showed the number of foreign-born people in Britain has topped eight million for the first time.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

German Lawyers Instruct Citizens to Inform on Parents Opposed to Illegal Immigration

Urges behavior reminiscent of East Germany's Stasi

Citizens who oppose a mass influx of culturally incompatible immigrants in Germany risk having the state take away their children, according to the German Bar Association.

DeutscheAnwaltauskunft Magazine notes an increasing number of Germans are expressing “openly xenophobic” opinions and demonstrating against the presence of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and the third world.

Expressing these opinions may result in the seizure of children and summons before the Family Court.

The German Bar Association suggests family members concerned about the politically incorrect opinions of a parent should “collect screenshots and printouts” of social media pages and submit them to the Youth Welfare Office.

According to the magazine, even apolitical opinions expressed by parents may result in action by the state.

“Negative influence of the child, which can lead to the deprivation of rights, may not always be political,” DeutscheAnwaltauskunft notes.

The establishment media in Europe and the United States characterize growing opposition to illegal immigrants as the racist reaction of “far-right groups” to humanitarian aid.

“What we’re seeing in connection with the refugee crisis is a mobilization on the street of right-wing extremists, but also of some left-wing extremists,” German intelligence boss Hans-Georg Maassen said on Saturday.

Polls reveal 51 percent of Germans fear the mass immigration of refugees from Arab countries and Central Asia.

As a result, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has lost support.


Don't microwave sausage rolls - it'll upset other faiths! New guidelines on communal kitchen etiquette for the workplace are suggested

It may seem an innocent enough act to warm up your sausage roll in the microwave during lunch hour.  But think again, because doing so could seriously upset colleagues of certain faiths, new guidelines on the etiquette of using communal kitchens at work suggest.

Similarly, it would also be advisable to avoid keeping bacon rolls in a fridge shared with people whose religious beliefs prohibit them from eating pork.

Adam Dinham, professor of faith and public policy at Goldsmiths, University of London, has drawn up a religious literacy programme due to be presented to employers this week.

He said: ‘The microwaves example is a good one. We also say, ‘Don’t put kosher or halal and other . . . special foods next to another [food] or, God forbid, on the same plate.’

Halal and kosher food served at corporate events should be certified, and consideration should be given to whether to serve alcohol, the guidelines further suggest.

Professor Dinham warned that employers should consider new religions and cults, including Scientology, and beliefs such as environmentalism and vegetarianism, as well as the established faiths of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism.

The programme, commissioned by CoExist House, an interfaith group, will also deal with other matters including clothing, the right to wear religious symbols such as crucifixes and hijabs, and whether to allow time off on religious holidays.

Professor Dinham said: ‘We have lost the ability to talk about religious belief because of a century of secular assumptions, and most religious belief is either highly visible and we don’t recognise it, or it’s invisible and we miss it entirely.’

The guidelines are due to be presented to employers by EY, the Nprofessional services firm.

Professor Dinham told the Sunday Times: ‘We can’t be didactic. You can’t say, ‘Do this, this and this and you’ll get it right’.

‘We point out that there is no definition in law of religion and belief. The Equality Act has [made] an attempt . . . but it is so woolly as to be useless.’


The degradation of the right to petition

A once noble tradition is now used for intolerant ends

Ahead of our First Amendment conference in Washington DC, Tim Black looks at a once vital means of protest.

Thanks to online platforms, complete with auto-fill data-entry fields, and big digital buttons, the world-shaking force of the petition has been reborn., 38 Degrees, and Avaaza, to name only the most well-known facilitators of get-online-and-do-something digital activism, have all helped to reinvigorate political life through the power of the online petition. The figures speak for themselves: over six million people from the UK have signed or started a petition since the website launched in 2012; over three million people from the UK are members of 38 Degrees; and over 1,500 petitions are launched each month.

The world’s leaders are keen to listen, too. Hence the governments of the UK and the US, and even the bureaucrats at the EU, have established their own online petitions services. That ancient right, ‘to petition the Government for a redress of grievances’ as the First Amendment puts it, has been revived for the 21st century to world-changing effect.

That at least is the digital activists’ narrative. But in the course of its revival, petitioning has changed in form and function. What was once a vital means of subjecting those in power, no matter how vainly, to the interests and wishes of a section of the people has become a means of subjecting sections of the public to the wishes and interests of other sections of the public. A tool of liberty has turned into its opposite. It has become a weapon of the illiberal, a way of soliciting the power of the authorities to prohibit this, ban that, or condemn him or her.

It wasn’t always this way. From its pre-Magna Carta origins, through the English Civil War and the American Revolution, and later still, through the Chartist movement and the Dreyfusards, up until universal suffrage and mass-party democracy, the petition was one of the most important mechanisms available for subjects to air their grievances and demands before a civil authority, be it the monarch, or, later, a decidedly unrepresentative parliament.

In its pre-Civil War form, the petitions provided those without power the ability to exert some influence over their rulers. Petitions allowed for commoners to request a change to the price of foodstuffs, or to call to account the behaviour of royal officers, or to urge a reduction in corn tariffs. The petition’s tripartite form reflected its hierarchy-reinforcing function. It was addressed to an authority, mainly the monarch; it stated a grievance; and, crucially, it prayed for relief. In a semi-feudal society, the petition was the principal means by which the ruled corrected, or attempted to correct, the course of the rulers – by praying to the powers-that-be for relief.

As parliament’s struggle with monarchical authority developed during the seventeenth century, so petitions acquired an ever-more explosive aspect. They often constituted parliament’s entire agenda, as the voice of the commons against the king. But for radicals like the Levellers, affirming the potential of petitions, as the ‘right to petition against things established by law’, also exposed the limits of petitions. As a troop of Roundheads put it in 1648, parliament could simply ‘reject and slight the just directions and petitions of the people…’. So, just as the democratic instinct bloomed in petitioning (and pamphleteering) form, so it was stymied, too, by the nature of the petition. The importance of petitioning was also an index of petitioners’ ultimate powerlessness, their dependence on the whims and decisions of others.

The American colonists were immersed in this petitioning tradition. The right to petition, enshrined in countless local assemblies, was the most potent means available to the colonists to represent their interests to their English rulers. And this sense of petitioning’s importance writes its way into the First Amendment, as the crowning last-clause glory of individual liberty.

But what’s interesting is that the importance of petitioning decreases as individuals’ liberty increases. That is, as more representative, democratic forms of government emerged from the great struggles of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, so petitioning becomes less central, less vital. It’s still important, of course, but it’s important to those struggling for enfranchisement, to those without access to governance. Hence, the right to petition was important, for instance, to the Chartists in England, and to free blacks in the US – to those, that is, who were yet to enjoy the benefits of the emerging liberal polity.

But from the perspective of the committed democrat, fired up by the American and French Revolutions, petitioning was something of a sop, a consolation for those to whom the freedoms of the liberal polity had been denied. Hence Thomas Paine, in Rights of Man, slammed the paltry settlement of England’s 1689 Bill of Rights in the following terms: ‘What is [the Bill of Rights] but a bargain, which the parts of government made with each other to divide powers, profits and privileges? You shall have so much, and I will have the rest; and with respect to the nation, it said, for your share, You shall have the right of petitioning. This being the case, the Bill of Rights is more properly a bill of wrongs, and of insult.’

By the early twentieth century, the petition was increasingly seen as an obsolete form of political participation. In 1901, The Times referred to it as having only ‘sentimental value’. While that was an exaggeration, there was little doubt that the right to petition had lost much of its lustre. The struggle for universal suffrage and political challenges to the established powers were to the fore, not hierarchy-respecting petitions.

So what does that tell us about the nature of petitioning’s revival in the 21st century? It’s still called petitioning, of course, but, in a liberal polity practising formal democracy, its role has changed. Yes, there are petitions that recall that older tradition of seeking redress for particular grievances, such as the half-a-million-signed petition in 2011 that asked the UK government to reverse its decision to sell off England’s publicly owned forests. But that is an exception. More often than not, in the context of a liberal, democratic political system, the petition is being used to circumvent the democratic rights and liberties of citizens. It has become an illiberal force, a means for self-selecting cliques to ask the authorities to do something about other citizens, or to pressure individuals or companies into some illiberal course of action.

Some of them are trivial, such as the petition to make Beyoncé and Jay-Z comb their daughter’s hair. Or the petition to ‘discourage rags on head in nativity plays’ because they are a sign of ‘creeping Sharia law’. Or the petition demanding ‘No taxpayer funding for “Margaret Thatcher Memorial Museum and Library’”. But many are seriously directed at other individuals’ liberty, such as the petition last year calling for Joan Rivers’ comedy gigs to be cancelled in the UK on account of her pro-Israel views, or the petition this week calling on a student nightclub to change its name from ‘P.U.L.L’ because of ‘the expectations it creates’ for clubbers.

Petitions are no longer a way for subjects to air their criticisms of rulers. They’re a license for the censorious to call for the banning and prohibition of things and people they don’t like. They are a vehicle not for subjects to air their grievances, but for citizens to vent their prejudices. ‘How can anyone deny the world-changing power of online activism now?’, shouted a supporter of online petitions last year. And what did she claim digital campaigning had achieved? Had it overturned a particularly nasty piece of legislation, or reversed an especially restrictive new policy? Nope. It’s two crowning achievements were: getting a comedian’s TV show cancelled; and stopping an American pick-up artist from giving some talks in the UK.

And what’s more, the 21st-century petition, in all its illiberal, conformity-inducing glory, requires so little effort, beyond the click of a mouse, on the part of signatories. While illiberal cliques might be digitally active, drawing up petitions and emailing them out, the vast majority backing calls to censor a comedian, or sack a columnist, are digitally passive. As one critic notes, ‘to inflate participation rates, these organisations increasingly ask less and less of their members. The end result is the degradation of activism into a series of petition drives that capitalise on current events.’

A passive force of illiberalism. That’s the petition in the 21st century. A once vital means for subjects to protest against their rulers is now a vicious, citizen-on-citizen parody of itself.


It's time to shame 'shame culture'. All this trivial victimisation has to stop

By British actor Alex Proud

Taking offence over every little thing and forcing people to walk on eggshells is a very worrying modern phenomenon, says Alex Proud
Last week, I read a remarkable piece in The Guardian. It was by Amy Roe, an American woman who said she’d been “sweat-shamed” in Starbucks. If, like me, you were previously unaware of sweat-shaming, allow me to explain.

Ms Roe had been for a long run, prior to entering Starbucks and was sweaty. Someone else in the queue commented on this. She felt a bit awkward. End of story, right? Not a bit of it. A few minutes later, when she got into her car, she realised that this was no ordinary social interaction:

“Eventually the caffeine kicked in and it hit me: I’d been sweat-shamed. Sweat-shaming is when someone points out your sweatiness as a way to signal disapproval. Like its counterparts, slut-shaming and fat-shaming, sweat-shaming is aimed mainly at women, who are actually not supposed to sweat at all.”

I know, me too. Let’s start with the sheer solipsistic ridiculousness of this. Going into a Starbucks drenched in sweat is yucky. You created the problem. The other person in the queue was probably a bit grossed out. Perhaps they were a little bit rude. Perhaps you were a little bit sensitive. I don’t know. But what I do know is that, if anyone, male or female, was drenched in sweat next to me in a coffee queue, my natural reaction would be “eww”.

Most people shower after exercise. It’s one of those social things, like using deodorant or brushing your teeth.

But actually this had me thinking. I’m pretty sure I’ve been called out for having BO before. I’ve certainly been called out for farting. Back then, I took it on the chin and admitted liability. I’d farted. My bad. But now I realise that I was the victim. I’d been fart-shamed. Of course, if I were a woman, it would be a hundred times worse because women are not supposed to fart at all...

To most, smelling another person's flatulence is an unpleasant experience. But the world's first case study of a man who is sexually aroused by other people passing wind has now been published.

This brings us to sweat-shaming being aimed “mainly at women.” What? It has nothing to do with your gender. Nothing at all. Using your definition, I have personally been sweat-shamed a number of times. I have walked into pubs after running (or brisk walks) and had people have comment on my sweatiness. In fact, were I so inclined, I could take offence at a woman trying to “own” sweat-shaming.

As a group, men sweat far more than women and our sweat smells considerably worse. I’m pretty sure that a sizeable majority of both genders find guys’ sweat grosser than girls’ sweat. So, please, stop trying to muscle into one of the few remaining areas of legitimate victimhood left to us men.

Although, I suppose I must concede a grudging admiration for the pretzel-like logic you have used to make this utterly meaningless incident into a feminist thing.

OK, on to the important stuff because, believe it or not, there is a needle of seriousness hiding in this haystack of utter stupidity. I think The Guardian is a great newspaper – and a necessary check to the overall right-wing slant of the British press.

But I also believe that Comment is Free can be a kind of left-wing zoo full of special snowflakes, all trying to desperately to out-victim each other or find new niche reasons to get upset. Here are few samples.

Barbecue is an American tradition – of enslaved Africans and Native Americas.

I Dread The Day My Daughters Poos Get Smaller.

You Might Not Think You’re Sexist Until You Take A Look at Your Bookshelf. You get the idea.

It’s very easy to laugh these off as navel gazing, largely-imaginary rubbish. But actually, I think they are a real problem. I may not believe in sweat-shaming but I am a liberal and I support all sorts of progressive causes. The standard defence of this sort of guff is that it’s the thin end of the wedge. Yes, sweat shaming might be trivial but if we ignore the sweat-shamed today, we ignore the fat-shamed tomorrow and we’re all racists by the weekend. It’s a kind of “First they came for the socialists” argument.

However, in real life, I think it works the other way. Right-wingers had a field day with this stuff – but the trouble is, it allows them to treat huge swathes of the Left as one great big, over-sensitive PC joke. By giving things like sweat-shaming credibility you actually undermine far more important causes. So, Ms Roe’s inability to shrug off a minor, quite possibly imaginary, slight is, in fact, powerful ammunition for those who have their guns trained on things that actually matter.

More generally, taking offence over every little thing and forcing people to walk on eggshells is a very worrying modern phenomenon. Recently we saw Warwick University’s Students Union bar the ex-Muslim human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie from speaking because it was concerned she might offend Muslim students.

The ban was rescinded after a public outcry, but it’s still a very nasty development at an excellent university in a western democracy. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned but I believe that questioning religion is exactly the sort of thing that British universities should be doing.

This, of course, is one of the Left’s great Achilles heels. They often wind up allying themselves with very dubious groups and taking very dodgy positions because they worry so much about offending anyone. But by doing this they offend moderates.

Sorry guys, but the day you start arguing against free speech is the day you have people like me shaking our heads and saying, “Well, I suppose I agree with some of the Conservatives’ policies...”

Sadly, though, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have a serious, evidence-based debate about obesity and health. And this is the problem in a nutshell. A fair chunk of the current Left-wing discourse (what the right often calls “resurgent PC”) seems to be about creating an atmosphere where it’s impossible to have a proper discussion for fear of upsetting someone and being cast as a bigot by their supporters. Thus, things we desperately need to debate, get ignored.

So I suppose all I’m calling for is a bit of common sense and a return to some of the resilient, take-it-on the chin attitude that we Brits used to pride ourselves on.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


Monday, October 05, 2015

Neo-Marxist elitists in charge of the British Left

TOBY YOUNG was brought up surrounded by Champagne socialists. Hearing Labour sing their anthem brought back toe-curling memories.  Their claim to represent the worker is an absurdity.  Money insulates them from the real world.  Their anthem is "The people's flag is deepest red".  It would more frankly be: "The spoiled elite's flag is deepest red"

Frankly, I can't say I was surprised that Jeremy Corbyn had no hesitation in accepting the £125,000 salary and chauffeur-driven car that comes with his new job.

After all, this veteran campaigner against inequality was brought up in a seven-bedroom mansion and went to private school.

Like so many Labour leaders before him, it's a case of do as I say, not do as I do.

Being the son of a prominent Left-wing intellectual — and brought up in North London, not far from Corbyn's constituency — I witnessed this hypocrisy at first hand.

When I saw the footage of Corbyn singing the Red Flag at the Labour conference this week — not long after staying tight-lipped during a rendition of the National Anthem — my mind was transported back to Christmas Eve in the mid-Seventies, and a memorable supper party at the house of Anthony Crosland, then a Labour Secretary of State.

Tony was one of my father's closest friends in the Labour Party. He is probably best remembered for vowing to get rid of grammar schools, the greatest engines of social mobility this country has ever produced.

'If it's the last thing I do, I'm going to destroy every f***ing grammar school in England,' he said, shortly after becoming Harold Wilson's Education Secretary in 1965. And he was as good as his word. Today, there are only 164 grammars left.

Every Christmas Eve, my father, Michael Young, a writer and sociologist who co-authored Labour's 1945 manifesto, would drive our family over to Tony's house where the Croslands and the Youngs would break bread together and sing carols by the fireside.

Needless to say, Tony's house in Pimlico was a far cry from the cottages of his constituents in Great Grimsby, the working-class constituency he served from 1959 to his death in 1977.

It was a grand, four-storey affair, featuring six bedrooms, a beautiful dining room and a large, sweeping drawing room with a magnificent fireplace.

On the mantelpiece were stiff, cardboard invitations to various society soirees. In the lavatory, if memory serves, were framed photographs of Tony at his alma mater — the famous (and fee-paying) Highgate School in North London.

There was Tony in his cricket kit, about to open the batting against a rival establishment, and there was Tony in his tennis whites.

He was, quite literally, the picture of a privileged public schoolboy.

On this particular occasion, he'd invited his colleague Shirley Williams, then the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection and soon to become Education Secretary. Like Tony, she was determined 'to destroy every f***ing grammar school in England', and did her very best to do so, although, curiously, her own daughter went to agrammar school — just like Jeremy Corbyn's son.

Supper was pleasant enough, as always in this hotbed of socialism. Tony's American wife, Susan, was a gracious hostess and made sure guests were well fed and well watered — a selection of fine wines was on offer.

It wasn't quite Downton Abbey, but there were employees on hand to help with the cooking and the serving. Nothing but the best for these tribunes of the masses.

After supper we retired to the drawing room and Shirley Williams led us in carol singing, accompanied by one of Tony and Susan's daughters on the piano. I can picture it now — the perfect Christmas tableau. I think there were even snowflakes piling up on the window frames.

But then something happened to interrupt this chocolate-box scene. Susan broke out the 25-year-old Macallan — a favourite tipple of my father's — and as the whisky started to flow, the guests became more emotional.

Before long, the two Labour Secretaries of State, along with my father, who was a peer of the realm, were demanding something a little more 'authentic' than Good King Wenceslas.

Sure enough, they started singing The Red Flag: 'The people's flag is deepest red/It shrouded oft our martyred dead/And 'ere their limbs grew stiff and cold/Their hearts' blood dyed its every fold.'

I distinctly remember Tony Crosland, red-faced and animated, pumping his fist in the air and crying: 'Balls to the bourgeoisie.' This week, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell cut a similar figure as he raised his clenched fist while belting out the socialist anthem.

Quite what Crosland's staff made of that spectacle, all those years ago, I don't know. They hovered discreetly in the background, waiting to replenish the whisky glasses of these Left-wing firebrands. I daresay they'd seen it all before.

This was probably the most egregious example of champagne socialism I encountered in my childhood, but there were plenty of others.

I hesitate to criticise my father, whom I loved dearly, but his commitment to equality didn't extend to his choice of motorcar — a vintage Bentley.

Like Tony, he was a passionate advocate of comprehensive education, but that didn't stop him sending three of his six children to Dartington Hall, then the most expensive private school in England. He'd been there himself, paid for by a rich Australian uncle, so perhaps that was understandable.

We lived in a large, detached house in Highgate Village, and spent summers in our second home in the South of France.

No doubt my father would have been happy to share those advantages with the less fortunate if the red flag ever flew over the Houses of Parliament. He had a habit of inviting homeless people to share our Christmas lunch, so in that respect, at least, he practised what he preached.

I never asked my father about the disconnect between his socialist values and his affluent lifestyle. Every rich person I knew growing up in North London was a passionate egalitarian, so I just thought of it as normal.

It was only later, when I experienced more of the real world, that I realised how bizarre it was. Most people don't live such gilded lives, and those who do are unlikely to spend Christmas in the lap of luxury, shouting 'Balls to the bourgeoisie'.

Even today, such hypocrisy is commonplace on the Left.

For instance, Jeremy Corbyn singled out 'zero-hours contracts' in his victory speech, vowing to do away with this modern form of 'slavery' if he becomes Prime Minister.

That's a bit rich, considering 68 Labour MPs have employed staff on zero-hours contracts in the past two years. And by 'staff' I mean Parliamentary researchers, not domestic servants — although I daresay Shaun Woodward employs a few of those.

Woodward, who has a net worth of £300 million and divides his time between six houses, was the Labour Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2007 to 2010.

Andy Burnham, Corbyn's leadership rival, bangs on and on about the Tories 'privatising' the NHS, forgetting that 4.4 per cent of NHS services were outsourced to private providers under the last Labour government, while only a further 1.5 per cent have been outsourced since 2010.

Harriet Harman, Corbyn's predecessor as Labour leader, branded Chancellor George Osborne a 'posh boy' — even though they both attended exactly the same independent St Paul's schools.

The list goes on.

Perhaps my favourite moment of this year's General Election campaign was watching Ed Miliband abase himself at the feet of Russell Brand, a revolutionary socialist so committed to the cause he has a personal hairdresser on call 24/7 and travels everywhere by private jet.

Quite why the leader of the Labour Party thought turning up at the £2 million penthouse of the then 39-year-old multi-millionaire was a way to win over the 'yoof' vote is anyone's guess.

Luckily, the British public has a good nose for this type of hypocrisy.

As I discovered on that Christmas Eve in Pimlico, the red flag is made of velvet and sits on top of a corner table in a large drawing room where the expensive whisky is kept.


Political correctness causes unnecessary Loss of Life among American troops

By Walter E. Williams

War is nasty, brutal and costly. In our latest wars, many of the casualties suffered by American troops are a direct result of their having to obey rules of engagement created by politicians who have never set foot on — or even seen — a battlefield. Today's battlefield commanders must be alert to the media and do-gooders who are all too ready to demonize troops involved in a battle that produces noncombatant deaths, so-called collateral damage.

According to a Western Journalism article by Leigh H Bravo, "Insanity: The Rules of Engagement" (, our troops fighting in Afghanistan cannot do night or surprise searches. Also, villagers must be warned prior to searches. Troops may not fire at the enemy unless fired upon. U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present. And only women can search women. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said: "We handcuffed our troops in combat needlessly. This was very harmful to our men and has never been done in U.S combat operations that I know of." Collateral damage and the unintentional killing of civilians are a consequence of war. But the question we should ask is: Are our troops' lives less important than the inevitable collateral damage?

The unnecessary loss of life and casualties that result from politically correct rules of engagement are about to be magnified in future conflicts by mindless efforts to put women in combat units. In 2013, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta officially lifted the ban on women serving in ground combat roles. On Jan. 1, 2016, all branches of the military must either open all positions to women or request exceptions. That boils down to having women serve in combat roles, because any commander requesting exceptions would risk having his career terminated in the wake of the screeching and accusations of sexism that would surely ensue.

The U.S. Army has announced that for the first time, two female officers graduated from the exceptionally tough three-phase Ranger course. Their "success" will serve as grist for the mills of those who argue for women in combat. Unlike most of their fellow soldiers, these two women had to recycle because they had failed certain phases of the course.

A recent Marine Corps force integration study concluded that combat teams were less effective when they included women. Overall, the report says, all-male teams and crews outperformed mixed-gender ones on 93 out of 134 tasks evaluated. All-male teams were universally faster "in each tactical movement." The report also says that female Marines had higher rates of injury throughout the experiment.

Should anyone be surprised by the findings of male combat superiority? Young men are overloaded with testosterone, which produces hostility, aggression and competitiveness. Such a physical characteristic produces sometimes-poor behavior in civilian society, occasionally leading to imprisonment, but the same characteristics are ideal for ground combat situations.

You may bet the rent money that the current effort to integrate combat jobs will not end with simply a few extraordinary women. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told the Navy Times that once women start attending SEAL training, it would make sense to examine the standards. He said, "First we're going to make sure there are standards" and "they're gender-neutral." Only after that will the Navy make sure the standards "have something to do with the job."

We've heard that before in matters of race. It's called disparate impact. That is, if the Navy SEALs cannot prove that staying up for 18 hours with no rest or sleep, sitting and shivering in the cold Pacific Ocean, running with a huge log on your shoulder, and being spoken to like a dog are necessary, then those parts of SEAL training will be eliminated so that women can pass.

The most disgusting, perhaps traitorous, aspect of all this is the overall timidity of military commanders, most of whom, despite knowing better, will only publicly criticize the idea of putting women in combat after they retire from service.


Navy Secretary Dismisses Risks to Women in Combat

A new study reveals the disturbing facts

For Navy Secretary Ray Mabus it would appear that progressive ideology trumps inconvenient reality. In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) Mabus criticized a nine month study revealing that women sustain injuries at a higher rate than their male counterparts and shoot with less accuracy under combat-simulated conditions. “(The study) started out with a fairly large component of the men thinking this is not a good idea and women will never be able to do this,” Mabus told NPR’s David Greene. “When you start out with that mindset you’re almost presupposing the outcome.”

Apparently Mabus is immune to the irony that attends his own presuppositions. The study itself, known as the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force (GCEITF) and conducted with 200 male and 75 female volunteers, couldn’t have been clearer. As the executive summary reveals, all male squads, teams and crews “demonstrated higher performance levels on 69% of tasks evaluated (93 of 134) as compared to gender-integrated squads, teams and crews.” By contrast, gender-integrated units outperformed their all-male counterparts in two events.

In the Speed category, and regardless of Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), all-male squads were faster than gender-integrated ones in each tactical movement. Furthermore, those differences “were more pronounced in infantry crew-served weapons specialties that carried the assault load plus the additional weight of crew-served weapons and ammunition,” the summary stated.

The Lethality category showed similar discrepancies. Other than the probability of hit and miss with the M4, all-male squads demonstrated greater accuracy than gender-integrated ones with a “notable difference” recorded between genders for “every individual weapons system.” All male squads had higher hit percentages, engaged targets in shorter time periods and registered more hits on those targets than their gender-integrated counterparts, with the only exception being M2 accuracy.

In addition, all male squads demonstrated superiority in the performance of the basic combat tasks that required negotiating obstacles and evacuating casualties. “For example, when negotiating the wall obstacle, male Marines threw their packs to the top of the wall, whereas female Marines required regular assistance in getting their packs to the top,” the summary revealed. “During casualty evacuation assessments, there were notable differences in execution times between all-male and gender-integrated groups, except in the case where teams conducted a casualty evacuation as a one-Marine fireman’s carry of another (in which case it was most often a male Marine who ‘evacuated’ the casualty).”

In the Health and Welfare of Marines category, “well documented comparative disadvantage in upper and lower-body strength resulted in higher fatigue levels of most women, which contributed to greater incidents of overuse injuries such as stress fractures,” with men outperforming, or demonstrating greater degrees of strength and endurance, than women in all categories, including body composition, anaerobic power and capacity, and aerobic capacity.

The injury differences were especially stark. According to research at the Infantry Training Battalion, females undergoing that entry level training sustained injuries at six times the rate of their male counterparts. In the categories of task movements while carrying loads, males were injured at a rate of 13 percent while females sustained injuries at a rate of 27 percent. Female musculoskeletal injury rates were more than double those of males, coming in at a staggering 40.5 percent, compared to just 18.8 percent for males.

Mabus was unmoved, insisting that “empirical standards” are determined by “what you put in” the tests and that the Center for Naval Analyses have discovered ways to “mitigate this so you can have the same combat effectiveness, the same lethality, which is crucial.” He further insisted the idea that women are injured more often than men was not shown in the study, but based rather on “an extrapolation based on injury rates,” and that the Marines could have chosen women for the study better suited for the task of shouldering heavier loads. “For the women that volunteered, probably there should have been a higher bar to cross to get into the experiment,” he said, apparently ignoring what the word “volunteers” actually means.

Sgt. Danielle Beck, a female anti-armor gunner with the task force was contemptuous of Mabus’s contentions. “Our secretary of the Navy completely rolled the Marine Corps and the entire staff that was involved in putting this [experiment] in place under the bus,” she said. That sentiment was echoed by Sgt. Joe Frommling, one of the Marines acting as a monitor for Beck during the tests. “What Mabus said went completely against what the command was saying the whole time,” Frommling explained. “They said, ‘Hey, no matter what your opinion is, go out there and give it your best and let the chips fall where they may.’”

Another Marine officer took Mabus to task for the Secretary’s suggestion the test was rigged. “If you were to look at our training plan and how we progressed from October to February, you’re not going to find any evidence of institutional bias or some way we built this for females to fail,” he stated. “We consulted physical trainers from [the school of infantry] to help develop an appropriate hike plan, and we fired roughly a year’s worth of ammo for a regiment in a quarter. In the time that we had, there wasn’t a day wasted when it came to training for California … From the top down, we were trying to level the playing field.”

Congressman Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, took it one step further, calling on Mabus to resign. In a scathing letter sent to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Sept. 17, Hunter, who served as a Marine in both Iraq and Afghanistan, criticized Mabus’s assertion that he would not support any requests for gender-related exemptions before he was even briefed on the 900-page report’s findings. “This alone underscores the fact that the Navy Secretary is biased in his judgment and should be withdrawn from any decision-making with respect to the Marine Corps' gender integration plan,” Duncan wrote. In calling for Mabus’s resignation, Hunter cited the Secretary’s disrespect for the Marine Corps as an institution and for insulting its competency “by disregarding their professional judgment, their combat experience and their quality of leadership.”

Four days later, Mabus penned an editorial for the Washington Post reiterating his commitment to diversity, and once again implying the tested were rigged. “The Marines deconstructed each job in a unit to specifically detail its requirements so that individual members could function better as a team,” he wrote. “During the study, however, the Marine Corps did not rely on the data for, or evaluate the performance of, individual female Marines; instead, it used only averages. Averages have no relevance to the abilities and performance of individual Marines.”

In its Oct. 1 release, the Center for Military Readiness (CMR) refuted that assessment. “Secretary Mabus betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of statistical analysis,” CMR stated. “Data points are derived from the performances of multiple research participants – not just the highest-scoring or lowest-scoring. It matters, therefore that all-male squads, teams, and units outperformed gender-integrated teams in 93 of 134 tasks” (bold in the original).

Mabus sounded even sillier when he noted the language rescinded by former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey to integrate combat units had its roots in a 1992 recommendation by the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces that excluded women from combat. Mabus insisted the Marine Corps “relied on that language” when conducting its tests.

Yesterday was the deadline for armed service recommendations for gender integration into combat units by top U.S. military leaders. The Marine Corps has requested a partial exemption from the 2013 directive issued by Panetta and Dempsey. According to Reuters, the Army, Navy, and Air Force have “hinted that they will not seek exemptions.” Current Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford recommended maintaining the Marine Corps exemption. Secretary Carter, who stated he would “carefully review” reports from all four service branches and the Special Operations Command, remained noncommittal. “Everyone who is able and willing to serve and can meet the standards we require should have the full opportunity to do so,” he told reporters. “I am going to be very facts-based and analysis-based. I want to see the grounds upon which any actions that we take at the first of the year are going to be made.”

Few things are more emblematic of the fecklessness of Obama administration than its obsession with progressive pieties while Vladimir Putin and the Iranians are turning the Middle East into their personal playground. While Obama and company pursue the Holy Grail of diversity, our enemies pursue a realignment of the world in ways utterly inimical to our national security. If it continues, these doyens of gender equality irrespective of reality may get their wish: every soldier in uniform may be called upon to defend this nation from an unprecedented level of aggression. Aggression enabled by what is arguably one of the worst assemblages of clueless government officials and their military enablers in the history of our nation.


Class War vs Cereal Killer: a riot for poverty

Ignore the paint-flinging pillocks – gentrification is good. The British slang word "pillock" translates roughly into American slang as "jerk"

On Sunday night, a mob of 200 anti-gentrification protesters descended on Shoreditch in east London as part of an event called Fuck Parade. The event, organised by bedraggled anarchist outfit Class War, featured a burning wicker policeman, balaclavas aplenty and an alleged attack on a dog. It culminated with the mob vandalising the Cereal Killer café on Brick Lane and threatening its terrified customers with smoke bombs and burning torches. Cereal Killer’s crime? Well, according to Class War, the owners are part of the social cleansing of the previously run-down area.

Cereal Killer has become synonymous with the gentrification brought to Shoreditch by hipster culture. With customers happily paying up to £3.50 for a bowl of cereal, it is testament to the revival of the previously impoverished area. And it is this newfound affluence that provoked the anger of Sunday’s mob; the Facebook event claims that the community is being torn apart by the influx of ‘Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and homegrown Eton toffs’. The anti-gentrification sentiment that Class War expresses indicates an aversion to economic growth, and an aversion to investment in the community, which it claims to represent. Surely the most immediate threat to the local community is mob vandalism and intimidation from within, not economic investment from without.

The café was attacked while it was still open, and the panicked customers were forced to take shelter downstairs as a smoke bomb went off and red paint and cornflakes were hurled at the shopfront. The vandals wore masks and balaclavas as they shouted abuse, and one man spraypainted ‘Scum’ on the café window. Does selling expensive cereal to happily paying customers make you scum? No. But intimidating the members of the local community that you claim to defend certainly does.

The gentrification that the café represents should be celebrated. The two men who founded the café, Irish-born twins Gary and Alan Keery, employ a number of local people and are among a number of entrepreneurs who have helped to revive the previously unpleasant area. There is no agenda of social cleansing here, as the mob’s organisers claim.

The ‘progressive’ media has helped make this small business the target of such bile. Given that gentrification represents entrepreneurship and is indicative of progress, it is ironic that so-called progressives take such issue with it. The Guardian has taken potshots at the café in the past, and it even published a piece by one of the protesters hours after the Fuck Parade took place. When I spoke to the café’s manager, Matt Moncrieff, he said the attack was definitely ‘influenced by the café’s media coverage’.

Class War claims to represent a local community that is sick of rising house prices and an influx of wealth from overseas. However, Cereal Killer employs people from the local community, and many more residents come to the café to socialise and bond over a bowl or two of Coco Pops. The café remains defiant in the face of bullying and intimidation, and locals have since rallied behind it, with other businesses dropping off care packages for the owners. Moncrieff told me that footfall has actually increased since the attack.

The Fuck Parade was made up of a small core of balaclava-wearing pillocks and a lot of posers. People who rail against gentrification are, thankfully, the minority, and they have no right to speak for residents who are probably too busy enjoying new amenities and job prospects to protest.

Gentrification is not part of some conspiracy against the poor. Opportunities for people in Shoreditch to improve their lives are growing, and that is no bad thing. Fortunately, a bunch of idiots throwing cornflakes at a shopfront won’t change 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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.