Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Muslim cashiers at some local Target stores who object to ringing up products that contain pork are being shifted to other positions where they don't need to, the discount retailer said Saturday.

The Star Tribune reported this past week that some Muslim cashiers at local Targets had declined to scan pork products such as bacon because doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. They would ask other cashiers to ring up such purchases, or sometimes customers would scan those items themselves, the newspaper reported.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has now offered its local Muslim cashiers who object to handling pork the option of wearing gloves while cashiering, shifting to other positions or transferring to other nearby stores.

More here

Homosexual Fairy Tales Anger Christians/Muslims In UK

Parents in Britain are angered over the nationwide plan to teach children as young as four about homosexuality through fairy tales and children's books. The plan, "No Outsiders" is being backed by the Department of Education and is designed to help schools adjust to a new law mandating the affirming of homosexual conduct in Britain's schools. The law goes into effect later this year.

One school is already using the fairytale, "King & King" to tell the story of a prince who rejects three princesses before falling in love and marrying another prince. A school in London is having children ages 4 to 11 rehearsing for a performance of an opera called "The Sissy Duckling," about a duckling who loves cooking, cleaning and art.

Stephen Green, director of the British group Christian Voice, is angered by the new program. "This is tantamount to child abuse. The whole project is nothing more than propaganda aimed at primary school children to make them sympathetic to homosexuality." Green also noted that the program could expose children to sexual predators by making them think "that two boys fiddling with each other ... is perfectly normal. "Parents should be able to have the peace of mind of knowing that school is a safe place. And to have their children indoctrinated with pro-homosexual propaganda is an abuse of the trust parent place in schools," said Green.

Tahir Alam, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain also expressed concern about the teachings. "Why are we introducing these ideas to such young children. A lot of parent will be very concerned about the exposure of their children to such books, which are contrary to their religious beliefs and values."


The sound of silence

On Feb. 20, The A.P. reported from Afghanistan that a suicide attacker disguised as a health worker blew himself up near "a crowd of about 150 people who had gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open an emergency ward at the main government hospital in the city of Khost." A few days later, at a Baghdad college, a female Sunni suicide bomber blew herself up amid students who were ready to sit for exams, killing 40 people.

Stop and think for a moment how sick this is. Then stop for another moment and listen to the silence. The Bush team is mute. It says nothing, because it has no moral authority. No one would listen. Mr. Bush is losing a P.R. war to people who blow up emergency wards. Europeans are mute, lost in their delusion that this is all George Bush's and Tony Blair's fault.

But worst of all, Muslims, the very people whose future is being killed, are also mute. No surge can work in Iraq unless we have a "moral surge," a counternihilism strategy that delegitimizes suicide bombers. The most important restraints are cultural, societal and religious. It takes a village - but the Arab-Muslim village today is largely silent. The best are indifferent or intimidated; the worst quietly applaud the Sunnis who kill Shiites.

Nobody in the Arab world "has the guts to say that what is happening in Iraq is wrong - that killing schoolkids is wrong," said Mamoun Fandy, director of the Middle East program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "People somehow think that killing Iraqis is good because it will stick it to the Americans, so Arabs are undermining the American project in Iraq by killing themselves."

The world worries about highly enriched uranium, but "the real danger is highly enriched Islam," Mr. Fandy added. That is, "highly enriched Sunnism" and "highly enriched Shiism" that eats away at the Muslim state, the way Hezbollah is trying to do in Lebanon or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or Al Qaeda everywhere.

One result: there's no legitimate, decent, accepted source of Arab-Muslim authority today, no center of gravity "for people to anchor their souls in," Mr. Fandy said. In this welter of confusion, the suicide bombers go uncondemned or subtly extolled.

Arab nationalist media like Al Jazeera "practically tell bin Laden and his followers, `Bravo,' " Mr. Fandy said. "The message sent to bin Laden is that `You are doing to the West what we want done, but we can't do it.' This is the hidden message that the West is not privy to. Unless extreme pressure is applied on Muslims all over the world to come up with counter-fatwas and pronounce these men as pariahs, very little will happen in fighting terrorism."

"The battleground in the Arab world today is not in Palestine or Lebanon, but in the classrooms and newsrooms," Mr. Fandy concluded. That's where "the software programmers" reside who create symbolic images and language glorifying suicide bombers and make their depraved acts look legitimate. Only other Arab-Muslim programmers can defeat them.



Mercer was sacked 10 days ago as his party's homeland security spokesman, after having given an interview to a Times Online journalist about life in the army, an institution in which he served for half of his 50 years, before he became an MP in 2001. During this ill-fated and deeply regretted conversation, Mercer announced that it was not unheard of for ethnic minority soldiers to be called such things as "black bastard" - just as obese squaddies would occasionally be referred to as "fat bastards". Mercer said both insults were equally tantamount to bullying and quite unacceptable. He also said he'd come across plenty of black soldiers who had howled "racial prejudice" when upbraided for their indolence or uselessness.

All of this stuff was, when published, deemed either "offensive" or "racist" or both by his party bosses, despite, when you read the quotes in context, it is plainly neither. Anyway, he insists the interview was off the record and he harbours a fair amount of bitterness towards the journalist (hitherto a family friend) who none-theless gleefully wrote the whole thing up.

Within hours he had been sacked by David Cameron without being given much of a chance to explain his side of things. At the time, he said he agreed with the decision to sack him. Time, though, has perhaps ever so slightly altered this perspective....

It is not inconceivable that he could one day cross the floor of the house - though, despite his present rancour, I wouldn't bet on it. What he is most definitely not, though, is metropolitan. Not being properly metropolitan effectively got him sacked. "Politicians have got to understand that people outside of London view the world differently from those who live in the capital. They think very different things. And you need the votes of the people outside London to win a general election. It is a different world out there."

In his constituency of Newark, in rural Nottinghamshire, he says he has been "astonished" and "overwhelmed" by the support he has received in the wake of his abrupt defenestration. The local party, I'm told from elsewhere, has taken down the photographs of David Cameron from its walls. The e-mails have poured in - some 2,500, according to Mercer. "And were any of them critical of what you said?" I ask. "Yes. Seven of them. Actually six, because one chap e-mailed me again to apologise and retract his criticism." Do you think that what you said was wrong? "No, God no, not wrong. But I phrased it clumsily, I think." You would stand by your assertion that calling someone a black bastard and a fat bastard are just about equal in their manifest unpleasantness? "Yes, of course. They're both bullying, they're both hurtful. No real difference."

Mercer is certainly not a racist; his record, as a colonel in the Sherwood Foresters, was of incessant and successful recruitment within the area's black and Asian community. At one point, all five of his company sergeant-majors - recruited and promoted by Mercer - were black. Leroy Hutchinson, who served as a corporal under Mercer, said: "He never tolerated racism. Not a single one of his men would consider him a racist."

So, it is not racism that has done for Patrick Mercer's career. It is something altogether more damaging and corrosive to modern politics: candour. This is not the first time that he has been frustrated to the point of exasperation by punishment being meted out to people who speak what they believe to be the truth, in an unvarnished manner. "It's one thing I learnt from being in the army. You speak clearly and unambiguously, directly and without obfuscation. Then people understand what you mean. In politics, the reverse is true. The whole point is to obfuscate and prevaricate, to get up on your hind legs instead of stating clearly what you mean and proceeding to act." It is now that he becomes animated, talking about the thing that truly concerns him - indeed, scares the hell out of him.

"Take security in London. Nearly two years since 7/7 and not a thing, not a single thing has been done to improve our security on the Tube. Not a thing! We are exactly where we were two years ago. And then, the other day, I received an enormous document on my desk - paid for by the taxpayer, commissioned by the government - entitled The Definition of Terrorism. A great long semantic work explaining exactly what terrorism is . . ." He throws his hands up in exasperation. "I mean, I'm sure it has its place. Somewhere. But it's not the point. People will be killed. And we are mulling over the philosophy of what constitutes terrorism."

He is loyal to the army, too, describing the recent court martial (and acquittal) of six soldiers accused of allowing Iraqi detainees to be abused as a "political show trial". But his experience of internment in Northern Ireland (where he worked in plain clothes) makes him ill-disposed towards the government's wish to detain terrorism suspects for longer than 28 days without trial.

He is as candid about his misjudgments as he is about those policies where he feels he has been proven right (or, worse, is about to be proven horribly right). For example, he was one of the Conservative party's most stoical supporters of the invasion of Iraq. Got that badly wrong, didn't you, mate? "Yes, yes, yes," he says, head in hands. "Badly wrong. I should have listened to Hans Blix [the UN weapons inspector] when he begged me and other members of the select committee to give him just six months more. We should have done that, no doubt about it." He insists, however, that he believed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

It is all too easy to consign Patrick Mercer to a box marked gung-ho backwoodsman (something that I suspect his leader has already done). But it is to miss the essential point, which is that Mercer is a plain-spoken maverick within a community of politicians where such qualities are punished rather than rewarded. For a man brought up within the rigid discipline of the armed forces he is refreshingly unconventional.

In 2000 he gave up his military career and asked me for a job on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme (where I was editor) - a brave and frankly ludicrous decision by someone who had never trained as a journalist (and a pretty ludicrous appointment on my part, too). But it worked; he was brilliant. He was a natural journalist, concise and sharp and possessed of a greater knowledge of military matters than all the other BBC defence correspondents put together. He was regarded with intense suspicion by the largely liberal-tinted producers on Today - but he won them over. Using his military intelligence, he broke a string of important stories and risked his neck from beyond the front line in Kosovo.

His interviews with the programme presenters became the stuff of legend, for their clipped and wry observations. Are depleted uranium shells dangerous, Patrick? "Spoil your day," he replied. But beneath this parody of the stereotypical army officer was a deep understanding of geopolitical forces and a gentle Conservative sensibility.

What will he do now, I ask? His options are many and varied. He could keep his head down and hope for political rehabilitation in a couple of years, although if I were Patrick, I wouldn't hold my breath too long. He seems to be inimical to the current vision of Conservatism, though I cannot think of any better-equipped politician to preserve our domestic security. Or he could coalesce around him like-minded Tories, the legions of disaffected nonmetropolitans, and bide his time, waiting for the climate to change and occasionally firing heavy ordnance in the direction of his leader.

What does Conservatism mean to you, Patrick? "Freedom of speech!" He announces, the eyes glinting. Ah yes, that. And what else? "Trusting in the individual to make the best of himself." Anything else? "Having principle." Oh dear me, principle. This is all terribly old-fashioned stuff, don't you think? So is David Cameron a man of principle, I ask him?

"He is the leader," says Mercer. Yes, I know he's the leader. I asked you if he had principle. "He is the leader," he repeats. Yes, I persist, but does he have principle? He finishes his glass of water, smiles a little, narrows his eyes and, from the other side of the table, sticks two fingers up at me. "He is the leader," he says, with finality and stands to leave, which is when the pretty waitress, intrigued by something about this man, asks him what he does for a living. Disgraced Tory politician, love. But he'll be back.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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