Sunday, January 14, 2007


As anyone in urgent need of a plumber will testify, Polish immigration has some obvious benefits — a fact that hasn’t passed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The force formerly known as the Royal Ulster Constabulary has been inundated by applications from young Poles desperate to become officers. And the wave of hopeful candidates brings with it interesting implications for a service required to recruit half of its new officers from a reluctant Roman Catholic community.

Nearly 1,000 of the Province’s burgeoning Polish community have responded to a police recruitment drive — and they are nearly all Catholics. Poles accounted for 12 per cent of the 7,749 applicants, which could provide a lifeline for a force that has struggled to attract Catholic recruits.

The move, however, will not be popular in Poland. A report by the Polish police force that was leaked yesterday complained of a shortfall in Poland of up to 16,000 officers because of the vast numbers flocking to Britain and Ireland.

Under the policing reforms, the PSNI must recruit Catholics and non-Catholics equally, a restriction strongly disliked by Unionists because it leads to the rejection of able and willing Protestant candidates. But a combination of Republican intimidation and the lingering suspicion among Catholics that the PSNI remains a Protestant police force has ensured that its make-up is still disproportionately Protestant. Only 21 per cent of its officers are Catholic.

The PSNI advertised in Polish publications north and south of the border to encourage more of the estimated 30,000 Poles in Northern Ireland into their ranks. A further 150,000 live south of the border, where the Irish police are training Polish recruits. The charm offensive was not the PSNI’s first overture to the Poles. Late last year the PSNI announced that it was to host a police officer on secondment to improve relations with the Eastern European community, which has suffered a marked increase in hate attacks. A spokeswoman for the PSNI told The Times that Poles could count towards the quota of Catholics. She said: “When anybody applies for a post it is up to them to say what religion they are — Protestant, Catholic or other. If they put themselves down as Catholic they will fall within the 50-50 recruitment policy.” She said that the force was delighted with the response from the Polish community.

Critics are already citing the loophole as proof that 50-50 recruitment does not work. Ian Paisley Jr, son of the DUP leader and member of the Policing Board, said: “It highlights how ridiculous the whole policy is. You should not recruit on a religious basis.” He added that if Polish applicants refused to specify what religion they were they would be classified as “non-Catholics” and could deprive a Protestant recruit of a place.

Alex Atwood, the SDLP’s policing spokesman, admitted that it was not the perfect tool but said it was getting results. “There are always going to be hard cases that may or may not be deemed unfair, but 50-50 has worked very well to redress the balance.” With a salary of 22,000 pounds a recruit in the PSNI can expect to earn almost four times more than his counterpart in the Polish police.



Meet the liberated college woman. You may pity her. "Unprotected" is a hard slap at the sexual free-for-all that prevails on American campuses and throughout American life. The author, revealed since publication as Dr. Miriam Grossman, a psychiatrist at the student health service at UCLA, was hesitant to put her name on this book. The orthodoxy within the academic world is a strict one, and those who transgress often pay with their jobs. Let's hope for her sake, but particularly for her patients' well being, that she is not punished for her heterodox views.

What does Dr. Grossman believe that is so dangerous to admit? Well, start with ordinary sex. She believes that casual, promiscuous sex is tough on many women. They are hard-wired to bond with those they have sex with (the hormone oxytocin is implicated), and she sees countless female students reporting stress, eating disorders and even depression for reasons they cannot understand. After all, the world sells them on the notion that sex is pure recreation, that the "hook-up" culture is natural and even empowering to women, and that love and sex are two completely different things.

She describes a 19-year-old, "Heather," who is depressed. She has a "friend with benefits," but only with the help of psychotherapy is she able to acknowledge that the relationship is causing her pain. She'd like to do things with him, like see movies or go out for dinner, but he is interested only in sex. Dr. Grossman helps Heather to see that her needs are being neglected.

Another student, "Olivia," is devastated after her first serious boyfriend breaks up with her. Her grades suffer, she weeps constantly and suffers a relapse of an eating disorder, making herself vomit up to six times a day. "'Why, doctor,' she asked, why do they tell you how to protect your body -- from herpes and pregnancy -- but they don't tell you what it does to your heart?'"

And that may be the least of it. Health service physicians and nurses at UCLA and other colleges actually cheerlead for promiscuity. The author points to, a question and answer service of the Columbia University Health Education Program. A man who was considering a menage a trois was told, after a few advisories about discussing the matter with his wife, "As far as where to find a third, often personal ads are placed in local alternative newspapers for people seeking different types of sexual encounters. And, don't forget to think about people you know as possibilities. . . . Have fun and BE SAFE!" The site also offers tips on how to clean a cat-o'-nine-tails between uses and advice on drinking urine. At the University of Missouri, "external water sports" is described as one form of "safer sex." (Hint: It has nothing to do with swimming pools.)

"Stacey" is paying a heavy price. An athlete and vegetarian who avoided preservatives, sodas and nicotine, and prided herself on discipline and a low body mass index, Stacey showed up at the health service after repeatedly cutting her forearms. Dr. Grossman reports that such self-injurious behavior is epidemic on campuses.

Stacey, it seems, had been diagnosed with HPV, a sexually transmitted disease. And while college health brochures and women's magazines suggest that the virus is no big deal, that's rubbish. In some cases it can lead to cancer. In every case it requires time-consuming and emotionally draining tests. And 43 percent of college women get it. Stacey's strain can lead to cancer, so she must be tested every six months for the rest of her life. Chlamydia, which is difficult to detect and cure, can cause infertility. Each year, 3 million women are treated for it. An unknown number never get treatment.

American campuses are, for the most part, laboratories of liberalism. You want an abortion? No problem. But if you grieve afterward, your pain is ignored or delegitimized. Dr. Grossman does not contest that most women may be emotionally fine after undergoing an abortion, but notes that a significant minority, perhaps 20 percent, do suffer depression and other symptoms afterward. Yet the politically correct position is to deny this medical reality.

No effort is spared to teach young people about the dangers of smoking, saturated fat, "unsafe sex" and even osteoporosis. But no one tells young women that if they want to be mothers they would do well to plan their careers around the unavoidable biological fact of declining fertility after age 35. The establishment encourages the fiction that women can expect to remain fertile well into their 40s. It's sad that this book is so necessary, but all the more welcome for that. Buy it for yourself, for your sons, but especially for your daughters.


Secular fundamentalists are the new totalitarians

Militant secularists like Richard Dawkins are taking their revenge on believers for their refusal to stay in the closet. A comment from Britain

There's an aspiring totalitarianism in Britain which is brilliantly disguised. It's disguised because the would-be dictators - and there are many of them - all pretend to be more tolerant than thou. They hide alongside the anti-racists, the anti-homophobes and anti-sexists. But what they are really against is something very different. They - call them secular fundamentalists - are anti-God, and what they really want is the eradication of religion, and all believers, from the face of the earth.

In recent years these unpleasant people have had a strategy of exploiting Britain's innate politeness. They realised that for a decade overly sensitive souls (normally called the PC brigade) had bent over backwards to avoid giving offence. Trying not to give offence was, despite the excesses, a noble courtesy.

But the fundamentalists saw an opening. Because we live in a multiconfessional society, they fostered the falsehood that wearing a crucifix or a veil or a turban was deeply offensive to other faiths. They pretended to be protecting religious sensibilities as a pretext to strip us of all religious expressions. In 2006 Jack Straw and BA fell into the fundamentalists' trap.

But Britons are actually laissez-faire about such things. And so the fundamentalists deployed an opposite tactic. Instead of pretending to protect religious sensibilities, they went on the offensive and sought to give offence. The subsequent reactions to the play Behzti in Birmingham, to Jerry Springer the Opera and to the Danish cartoons were wheeled out as examples of why religious groups are unable to live with our cherished freedom and tolerance.

In recent years the nastier side of this totalitarianism has become blatantly apparent. It emerged with the hijab issue in France. With the hijab ban in French schools, a state was banishing religion not only from its corridors, but also from its citizens.

It was an assertion that after centuries of the naked public square (denuded of religion referents) the public now too had to go naked. The former had been true tolerance, something exceptional and laudable. It allowed everyone to bring their own cosmic testimony to the square. But this new form of "tolerance" changed things. From everyone being welcome, it had become everyone but.

There's a background to all this. Since 2001, lazy intellectuals have been allowed to get away with repeating the nonsense that terrorism and war are the consequences of belief in God. Believers are ridiculed for being, in contrast to the stupendously brainy atheists, very dim. Listen to Richard Dawkins' comment on Nadia Eweida (the BA employee who refused to take off her cross): "she had one of the most stupid faces I've ever seen." Nice.

There's also the fact that we live in a cultural milieu dominated by postmodernism. Broadly speaking, it attempts to deconstruct power and its narratives. It tries to rescue the marginalised. A noble intent, but because it doesn't believe in truth, anything goes. The tyranny of orthodoxy has been replaced by the tyranny of relativism. You're supposed to believe in nothing, and hence nihilists and atheists are suddenly rather chic. Postmodernism has taken tolerance to the extremes, where extremists thrive. It's a dangerous form of appeasement.

The greatest appeasers, however, have been the believers. Until recently many hid their religion in the closet. They conceded that it was something private. Until a few years ago religion was similar to soft drugs: a blind eye was turned to private use but woe betide you if you were caught dealing. Only recently have believers realised that religion is certainly personal, but it can never be private.

The reasons for that "outing" of believers are complex. But what is certain is that wise agnostics pleaded with believers to take a public lead again, because the point about believers is that they are obeying (and disobeying) all sorts of commandments that the state doesn't see or understand. Because they are able to differentiate sin from crime, they have a moral register more nuanced than most. Even a wise atheist (and I've met a few of them in church, as they desperately try to get their kids into the local C of E school) knows that believers can deal with social anarchy much better than the state ever can.

That is why these fundamentalists are so in evidence. They're not only needled by their own hypocrisy; they are also furious that believers have broken the old pact to stay out of public debate. Witness, for example, Mary Riddell's astonishing sentence in the Observer last month (try replacing "religion" with "homosexuality" to get the point): "secularists do not wish to harm religion or deny its great cultural influence. They simply want it to know its place." In other words: get back in the closet.

Christians feel particularly aggrieved because we believe that Jesus invented secularism. Jesus's teachings desacralised the state: no authority, not even Caesar's, was comparable to God's. As Nick Spencer writes in Doing God, "the secular was Christianity's gift to the world, denoting a public space in which authorities should be respected, but could be legitimately challenged and could never accord to themselves absolute or ultimate significance". Christianity, far from creating an absolutist state, initiated dissent from state absolutism.

And so for centuries a combination of British agnosticism and pragmatism meant that believers were judged not by the causes of their belief, but by its consequences. Everyone could taste the fruits, even those who couldn't believe in a sustaining, invisible root. These new militants, however, believe themselves to be the only arbiters of taste; they want to eradicate the root and cause. They will dictate what you can wear and what you can say. That, after all, is what totalitarians do.


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