Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rainbow Coalition racism

Just pretending racism doesn't exist doesn't mean it isn't there. Racism is not a forest; racial slurs pelted at black Republican candidates are not trees falling silently. People hear them, people see them and they are coming from a Democrat near you. Yes, the Rainbow Coalition party has a dirty little secret: racist practices against blacks who dare to speak differently. Democrats know how to fight and attack opponents whose skin color means they should not play for the other team.

How else can you explain Lt. Gov. Michael Steele of Maryland being pelted with Oreo cookies at Morgan State University in Baltimore? The unfunny joke -- Oreos are black on the outside, white on the inside -- shouldn't make any reasonable person laugh.

Otto Banks, a black Republican and recent Harrisburg City Council candidate, endured his share of similar racial attacks. Mailings by the Democratic State Committee portrayed him as a sellout, his signs were defaced with the word "whitey" and he was constantly called "Uncle Bush Tom." Said Banks, now an outreach director for the Republican State Committee: "An African-American Republican running for office can expect to be pictured incessantly with President Bush, linked with the NRA and gun proliferation ... labeled a sellout and compared to Strom Thurmond." Yet that has not scared him away from the GOP. One campaign Banks will concentrate on is that of Lynn Swann, newly endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate. Swann, the ex-Steeler, ex-chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and self-proclaimed conservative, is black.

Racism is based on fear and fear makes people behave in ways they might not normally consider. The Democratic Party is fearful of losing its black-voter base, so it attacks. But the same bile it hurls on a daily basis at white Republicans comes out racist when it attacks black Republicans. Just ask Condi Rice. Numerous unflattering labels have been hurled in her direction.

Something to consider, though. The superheros of the black movement -- Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton -- are noticeably absent when a black Republican is attacked. They have no problem donning their race-card capes when a liberal black is attacked. But they had a hard time finding Maryland on the map when New York Sen. Chuck Schumer's henchmen did an illegal credit check on Michael Steele. Where was their outrage? Their circus-like news conferences? Oh, wait -- Steele isn't black, he's Republican.

What made the civil rights movement so great was that it was an agenda that was not personal; it had the support of all races. But somewhere along the way, the civil rights movement was hijacked by radical liberalism. Somehow, I find it hard to believe that Martin Luther King would have advocated anyone of any color being treated in such a despicable way. Nor would he have appreciated his wife's funeral, a celebration of a life well-lived, being turned into a political rally intent on embarrassing a sitting president. This is the legacy of the civil rights movement?

No matter which way you cut it, racism is ugly, vile, and used as the lowest common denominator when all else fails. If you have problems with candidates, attack their principles or their ideas, not the color of their skin. Last time I checked, that was called racism.


Plenty of tolerance, little understanding

By Matt Price

Dumbstruck by the violence, intimidation and murder committed under the guise of anger over the Danish cartoons, I've been wondering whether the fruitcakes directly involved in the global mayhem, along with well-meaning people preaching "tolerance and understanding", recognise what's been surrendered this week. I'm all for tolerance and understanding. When its practitioners argue Islam is a peaceful creed, I'm prepared to ignore the religion's violent history and focus instead on ample evidence of Mohammed's modesty, humour and willingness to accommodate alternative viewpoints. I can empathise with devout Muslims who must peer from behind their veils at a modern world where Big Brother contestants flash their knobs on prime-time television and teenage magazines contain instruction manuals to assist pre-pubescent girls perform oral sex and wonder what in Allah's name has become of us all.

As a not-especially devout Catholic who still attends church, I can even vaguely relate to the indignation felt by followers confronted with gratuitous, childish insults to their gods and icons. But after the senseless savagery committed in the name of Islam, the tolerance-and-understanding-meter is fast running out of coinage.

Having paddled through an ocean of punditry and reportage, it was a letter to Melbourne's The Age newspaper that best encapsulated the sadness and significance of the disgraceful cartoon backlash. "I ask myself what is in the minds of people who cannot tolerate any questioning of their ways, their society and their religion," writes James from Prahran. "As a formerly tolerant and open-minded Australian who used to believe that we can accept and live with each others' differences, I now strongly believe that Western traditions, beliefs and freedoms are incompatible with the Muslim world. "I ask now, why do Muslims wish to live in Western societies if they find our freedoms so abhorrent? I ask, what do they bring to our society but venom and anger? I ask, why should we allow them into our tolerant society? I am now a racist."

If Jimmy's being tough on himself, who in the tolerance-and-understanding brigade can't relate to his misery? That a series of poorly drawn, mainly unfunny scribblings can trigger a murderous jihad defies belief. Had a dozen of Australia's prominent cartoonists - comfortably the world's best - been instructed to turn their attention to Mohammed, we'd now be preparing for World War III.

Bill Leak, this newspaper's resident inkster and incorrigible shit-stirrer, would not, I suspect, be an automatic inclusion in any reliable list of prominent neo-cons. "I'm not sure if I've been infected with something," he told me this week during a discussion about the cartoon wars. "But for the first time in my life I've found myself in violent agreement with Janet Albrechtsen. I mean, by any measure these were very ordinary cartoons - not funny, lamely drawn. And what is it now? Ten people dead, riots around the globe. Imagine the consequences had the cartoons been any good."

Members of the T&U brigade acknowledge that nobody has a right to dictate what others must find insulting or offensive. We accept the overwhelming majority of Muslims demonstrating around the world this past week were not involved in the violence and vandalism and would have been appalled at the havoc wrought in alleged defence of their faith. But what's utterly bewildering is that millions of people who find themselves driven to protest over drawings of Mohammed, first published six months ago in an otherwise completely obscure Scandinavian magazine, seem incongruously unharried by other disturbing images.

For example, the videotaped beheading of kidnap victims or people hijacking aircraft full of passengers and flying them into crowded buildings. Unsurprisingly, most newspaper editors have resisted the natural instinct to let readers know exactly what the fuss has been about by publishing the offending cartoons. It's not been worth the potential grief and public curiosity can easily be sated with a glance at the internet.

Up in Brisbane, where The Courier-Mail ran one image last week, local Muslims arranged talks with editor David Fagan. Islamic Council of Queensland president Abdul Jalal entered yesterday's meeting declaring: "I'm hoping that we'd agree on some sort of basis we could put through The Courier-Mail a weekly article portraying the correct image of Islam, and what Islam in the wider community should be doing to build a better relationship."

Read that sentence again and you get a sense of the magnitude of Mr Jalal's problem. We columnists can be remarkably persuasive but no amount of newsprint can erase the reality - forget image - of what's occurred this past week. And while Australian Muslims have been sensibly restrained in their complaints about the cartoons, I suggest what members of the wider Islamic community should be doing to build a better relationship is to direct the lion's share of their ire and disappointment towards violent members of its brethren rather than newspaper editors.

How deeply depressing all this must be for decent, law-abiding Muslims in Australia and elsewhere. What confounds T&U brigadeers as much as anything is that this spate of global mayhem comes at a time when Islam is under intense scrutiny and its image, correct or otherwise, has taken a pounding. If fanatics and extremists aren't swayed by logic, more sober believers must bury their heads in despair at the timing and context of the cartoon over-reaction....


An academic row has erupted after one of the world's leading scientific journals refused to publish an article which claims that men and women think differently. Peter Lawrence, a biologist and fellow of the Royal Society, accused Science of being "gutless" after it explained that its decision was because the piece did not offer "a strategy on how to deal with the gender issue".

In his paper, Mr Lawrence questioned why, when 60 per cent of biology students are female, only 10 per go on to become professors. This "leaky pipeline" has been blamed on discrimination and a lack of choice which, if corrected, will produce equal numbers of men and women in science. But Mr Lawrence dismissed "the cult of political correctness" that insists men and women are "equivalent, identical even" and argued that "men and women are born different".

The journal considered the article for seven months and, after making a number of changes, gave Mr Lawrence a publication date, proofs and a chance to order reprints. But at the last minute he received an e-mail from Donald Kennedy, the editor-in-chief, in which he said that the journal was not going to publish the article. The piece "did not, at least for us, lead to a clear strategy about how to deal with the gender issue," said Kennedy. "So much has been written on all sides of this problem that it sets a very high bar for novelty and persuasiveness, and although we liked your essay we have had to decide to reject it."

Mr Lawrence, a developmental biologist who works at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, said: "It was a lame excuse. I could not get it published for reasons that I think were political." Mr Lawrence's piece - Men, Women, and Ghosts in Science - has since been published online by the Public Library of Science Biology and has become one of the most popular articles over the past few days, attracting about 60 e-mails, almost all from women.

One woman reader said that the men who want to avoid the issues the article raises "are simply running scared of getting lynched like Larry Summers", a reference to the Harvard president who caused a furore with a speech in which he raised the issue of whether women have less innate scientific ability. The most vociferous criticisms of Mr Lawrence's ideas have come from Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who accused him of "mashing together true genetic differences between men and women with old- fashioned stereotypes. In so doing, he perpetuates the very problem he is trying to address about why so few women get to the top in science".

Science is reeling from having published two papers that contained the most notorious fraud of recent years, Prof Hwang Woo-Suk's human embryonic stem cell research. Over two years ago, the journal was also criticised for trying to influence a Congressional debate by publishing a widely reported paper linking the drug ecstasy to brain damage, which was subsequently retracted.


"Science" magazine is also enormously one-sided in favouring the "global warming" claim. For the latest example of that, see here

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