Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Media must promote multiculturalism?

Yesterday, 100 editors and journalists from all around the world met in Oslo to take part in an international conference about media and globalisation. UN Special Envoy for monitoring of racism and xenophobia, Dodou Diene, started the conference by asking the press to actively help to create a multicultural society. He expressed concern that democratic processes can lead to immigration-limiting political parties coming to power.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 and last year's cartoon crisis have changed international society. Cultural and religious conflicts dominate the global news in a much greater way than earlier. The conference discussed the role and responsibility of the press in a world where information flies around the world in seconds and dissimilar cultures and ethnic groups live ever closer to another.

The UN Special Envoy also claimed that European governments that have implemented a tough policy on immigration, such as those of Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark, are racists. He also expressed concern for democratic processes that could lead to immigration restrictive political parties coming to power.

Kimpolina's comment: When it now appears a great problem that clashing cultures and ethnic groups live still closer to each other, would it not be in order to at least think about changing course and dropping the ridiculous, utopian dream about the multicultural world? When reality clashes with dreams, is it then really the role and responsibility of the press to try to disguise reality? If so, I think the dream is becoming a nightmare, when unrealistic dreams are being forced upon us.

Should the press take action and take over when democracy threatens the dream, as the people vote for politicians with both feet on the ground, and because people want to move in a different direction than. who? Who is it that is really behind all this? Globalisation, perhaps? Is that the new almighty god, that one cannot or must not thwart? A natural law, that is suddenly higher than human will and force of action?

Much more here


Jeff Jacoby exposes BBC bias and misinformation

With the 40th anniversary of Israel's astonishing victory in the Six Day War has come a gusher of revisionist history, most of it suffused with sympathy for the Palestinians, disapproval of Israel, and indignation at the ongoing "occupation" that is said to be at the heart of the Middle East's turmoil. On the BBC website, for example, Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen's retrospective on the war -- "How 1967 defined the Middle East" -- begins by noting that "it took only six days for Israel to smash the armed forces of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria." It goes on to emphasize that "the Israeli Air Force destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground on the morning of 5 June 1967 in a surprise attack."

But the BBC makes no reference to anything the Arabs might have done to provoke Israel's attack, other than broadcasting "bloodcurdling threats" on the radio. The vast buildup of Arab armies along Israel's border, the expulsion of UN peacekeepers from the Sinai Peninsula by Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, the illegal closing of the Straits of Tiran, which cut Israel off from its main supply of oil -- the BBC mentions none of it.

Instead, Bowen claims that Israel's "hugely self-confident" generals couldn't wait to go to war because they knew they couldn't lose. (In reality, Israel's military and political leaders were deeply anxious; so severe was the stress that Yitzhak Rabin, the chief of staff, suffered a nervous breakdown.) "The myth of the 1967 Middle East war," declares Bowen, turning history on its head, "was that the Israeli David slew the Arab Goliath."

The BBC's account, unfortunately, is not unique. In the revisionist narrative, what is most important about 1967 is not that Israel survived what its enemies had intended to be a war of annihilation, but that in the course of doing so it occupied Arab land, some of which it still holds. "End the Occupation" is the theme of countless anti-Israel rallies around the world this weekend. The UN secretary general issued a statement remembering the victims of Middle East conflict, "particularly the Palestinians who continue to live under an occupation that has lasted 40 years." A two-page "message" from the United Church of Christ repeatedly deplores Israel's occupation: It uses some form of the word "occupy" 15 times, but doesn't mention even once the decades of Arab terrorism that have sent so many Israelis to early graves.

Considering how often the "occupation" is identified as the chief impediment to Arab-Israeli peace, you might expect 40th-anniversary discussions of the war to grapple with the fact that there was no occupation in 1967, when the Arabs were massing for war on Israel's borders. But that would mean acknowledging that Arab hatred and violence caused the occupation -- not, as current fashion has it, the other way around.

And so Time magazine's anniversary story on the Six Day War is relayed entirely from the perspective of a Palestinian who has lived all his life under occupation on the West Bank. Nowhere does the 2,500-word story pause to note that there would never have been a West Bank occupation if King Hussein of Jordan had heeded Israel's public and private pleas to stay out of the fighting. Instead, Hussein shelled Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and sent warplanes to bomb Netanya. Radio Amman announced in the king's name that all Israelis should be "torn to bits." Only then did Israel, fighting in self-defense, enter the West Bank.

Forty years ago, Time was not confused about where the sympathies of civilized people should lie. Reporting on the war in its issue of June 16, 1967, Time spotlighted Nasser's bellicose threats and noted "the Arab forces ominously gathering around the Jewish homeland." It explained to its readers in straightforward language that "ever since Israel was created 19 years ago, the Arabs have been lusting for the day when they could destroy it." (One week earlier, Time's cover had been bannered: "Israel: The Struggle to Survive.") It put Israel's alarm in the context of "a hostile Arab population of 110 million menacing their own of 2.7 million."

And it quoted the Arabs in their own words: "`Our people have been waiting 20 years for this battle,' roared Cairo. 'Now they will teach Israel the lesson of death!' . . . 'Kill the Jews!' screamed Radio Baghdad. A Syrian commander offered the rash prediction to radio listeners that 'we will destroy Israel in four days.' "

Israelis in 1967 didn't doubt that Cairo, Baghdad, and Damascus meant exactly what they said. Neither did Time. Four decades later the narrative has changed, but the facts, stubbornly, are what they are. It is a fact that if Israel had lost the Six Day War, there would have been no occupation these past 40 years. It is also a fact that there would have been no Israel.

Death penalty deters murder

The evidence on this goes back decades (See, for instance, Tullock, G. (1974) Does punishment deter crime? "The Public Interest", 36, 103-111 -- available in vol. 9 here) but it seems that we have to keep rediscovering it:

Anti-death penalty forces have gained momentum in the past few years, with a moratorium in Illinois, court disputes over lethal injection in more than a half-dozen states and progress toward outright abolishment in New Jersey. The steady drumbeat of DNA exonerations - pointing out flaws in the justice system - has weighed against capital punishment. The moral opposition is loud, too, echoed in Europe and the rest of the industrialized world, where all but a few countries banned executions years ago.

What gets little notice, however, is a series of academic studies over the last half-dozen years that claim to settle a once hotly debated argument - whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. The analyses say yes. They count between three and 18 lives that would be saved by the execution of each convicted killer.

The reports have horrified death penalty opponents and several scientists, who vigorously question the data and its implications. So far, the studies have had little impact on public policy. New Jersey's commission on the death penalty this year dismissed the body of knowledge on deterrence as "inconclusive." But the ferocious argument in academic circles could eventually spread to a wider audience, as it has in the past.

"Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it," said Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. "The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect." A 2003 study he co-authored, and a 2006 study that re-examined the data, found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. "The results are robust, they don't really go away," he said. "I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters) - what am I going to do, hide them?"

Statistical studies like his are among a dozen papers since 2001 that capital punishment has deterrent effects. They all explore the same basic theory - if the cost of something (be it the purchase of an apple or the act of killing someone) becomes too high, people will change their behavior (forego apples or shy from murder).

Source See also here

Reality bites the psychotic Left

By refusing to face modern realities, the Australian Left has dealt itself out of the national debate. Lack of reality contact is the defining mark of psychosis

FOR evidence, if any more were needed, that the intellectual Left has become completely divorced from reality, turn to page 14 of the latest edition of The Monthly, where Clive Hamilton describes the therapeutic effect of bushfires at Christmas. "As the orgy of spending reaches a climax we begin to wonder whether we have become decadent," the Australia Institute executive director writes. "The firies who battle the elements on our behalf remind us of our 'true' selves."

Since Mr Hamilton and his neo-Arcadian cohorts contend that affluence is a bad thing, 13 years of consecutive economic growth must be driving them nuts. Indeed much of the work emanating from Mr Hamilton's left-wing think tank fits the dictionary definition of the word psychosis: "marked by distorted perceptions of reality". This is the institute after all that believes in a vast corporate conspiracy to stall action on climate change, accuses David Jones and Myers of "corporate pedophilia" and claims that Australia is becoming an increasingly authoritarian state where dissidents are silenced.

This last thesis, expounded at length in Silencing Dissent published earlier this year, would seem difficult to sustain at a time when the marketplace of ideas has never been so crowded. In newspaper opinion sections and magazines and on radio and televisions and increasingly online, Australians are engaged in intelligent conversation about the issues of the day great and small. Blogs and internet chat rooms have given everyone a seat at the debating table. Technology has lowered the barriers to publishing. A host of new periodicals online and in print including The Monthly, New Matilda and The Australian's own Australian Literary Review are providing new platforms for discussion while established journals such as Quadrant and the Griffith Review are reaching new readers and providing a home for new writers. The queues outside venues at this year's Sydney Writers Festival, record attendances at similar writers festivals around the country and new events such as next month's Adelaide Festival of Ideas are public expressions of a confident, mature democracy in which informed debate flourishes.

It is hard to reconcile these objective facts with the commentary taking place in the parallel universe inhabited by disaffected intellectuals who insist that critics are gagged in the gulag they like to call "John Howard's Australia". In his contribution to Silencing Dissent, Robert Manne claimed the nation was headed on "the increasingly authoritarian trajectory of the political culture" under Mr Howard.

The hallmark of the disaffected intellectuals is their hyperbole, as evidenced from the latest tract to appear from the "silenced" Left, David Marr's Quarterly Essay, His Masters Voice: The Corruption of Public Debate under Howard. As David Burchell pointed out in The Weekend Australian, Marr wants us to believe that Mr Howard's influence over the national psyche is so intense that just about every act of suppression in our public life is somehow attributable to the Prime Minister.

The silencing of dissent thesis tells us more about the current health of the cultural Left than it does about the health of the nation. While the Left is still fighting the intellectual battles of the 1970s, the rest of the world has moved on. Progressive only in their own, inflated self image, the commentariat finds itself stranded on the outer fringes of the national debate, stuck in an intellectual cul-de-sac without the courage or confidence to retrace its steps. Their voices have not been silenced, they have simply lost their relevance. While the mainstream debate is conducted elsewhere, the progressives are stuck in the corner, muttering darkly among themselves. Seventeen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they are rebels without a cause still trapped in dialectical Marxist maze.

Irritatingly, the marginalisation of the self-styled progressives has only served to reinforce their unshakable belief in their own moral superiority. This conceit informs the kind of rigid political correctness that shuts down debate. To question multiculturalism is racist, to suggest that Aborigines would have a better future if they were participating in the mainstream economy is assimilationist. To challenge the precepts of political Islam is to demonise Muslims and to demonise any minority group is failure to recognise the superior virtue of the oppressed.

The only acceptable prejudice is anti-Americanism, which gives today's left-wingers some strange bedfellows from Cuba's Fidel Castro to the fanatical Islamists in the middle east. As Nick Cohen points out in his incisive book What's Left?, it used to be the conservatives who made excuses for fascism. "Now liberals and leftists are far more likely than conservatives to excuse fascistic governments and movements," he writes. "Give them a foreign far-right movement that is anti-Western and they treat it as at best a distraction and at worst an ally."

Closely related to their hatred of the US is their contempt for capitalism. The impact of the modern share-owning democracy has yet to dawn on them. Corporations no longer answer to the bourgeoisie, they answer to shareholders -- ordinary people who are now stakeholders, either directly or through the $1 trillion in superannuation. Karl Marx's dream has been fulfilled now that the workers truly do control the means of production.

On one of the burning topics of the day, climate change, this profound hatred of capitalism has led them down another philosophical dead end which advocates a romantic vision of suffering for a cause. Rather than objectively assess the realities of climate change and the practical task ahead they advocate symbolic, but ultimately futile, penance. By persisting with a misguided campaign to turn back the clock and demonise the Howard Government for not being harsh enough, once again, the debate has passed them by. Kyoto is giving way to a new global compact at which the US and Australia are at the centre. As research into clean coal technology for electricity generation looks set to become not just a reality but much quicker than even optimists had expected, those who advocate a return to dark nights and cold showers again look foolish.

In their retreat from modernity, the wrongly named progressives part company with Marxism which, despite its fatal flaws, was at least grounded in the spirit of the enlightenment, progress through scientific inquiry. Today's Left has allowed itself to become trapped in a parallel universe, out of touch and far removed from the mainstream where the real Australian discourse takes place. It is not just a geographical divide, though it is true the Left tends to be at its strongest in the latte belt and tertiary institutions. It is a class divide between an elite on one side and the mass of ordinary people on the other. It is not just Mr Howard they hate but Mr Average, as Marr's telling reference to Patrick White's return to Australia from Europe makes plain. White later recalled, "it was the exaltation of the average that made me panic most" and for Marr Mr Howard is "the exalter of the average". The Australian Left's reluctance to make the effort to understand Mr Howard's popular appeal is one of its most fundamental failings of the past 11 years. In the Left's narrative, Mr Howard has won four elections through a combination of luck and duplicity and on each occasion the electorate was too lazy or too stupid to make the right call. Only members of the intellectual elite are smart enough not to be fooled by Mr Howard's trickery. This threadbare analysis has helped consign the Labor Party to Opposition since 1996.

While the disconnection has certainly expanded over the past decade, all is not lost. There is a way back, a way to overcome the tyranny of distance between the Left's world and the real world. Left thinkers elsewhere in the world have moved on and cut themselves back into the cultural debate. In Britain the reformed Left has signed up to the Euston Manifesto, which aims to draw a line "between forces on the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values". In France, left-wing thinker Bernard Henri Levy has been bitterly critical of those who believe "that Islamism can be embraced and put in the service of the Left" while Medecins Sans Frontieres founder Bernard Kouchner, a fierce advocate of humanitarian intervention, has been appointed Foreign Minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy. The way forward for the Left in Australia is to acknowledge that the politics of the outsider is an adolescent phase and develop soundly based, intelligent arguments that will earn them a place at the table of national debate.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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