Friday, August 31, 2007

Biased CNN `Warriors' crosses the line

Critics of religion like to claim that the source of most of the world's ills can be traced to believers who wage wars in the name of their distorted fanatic faiths. Indeed, this thesis has led to a spate of new books advocating atheism and deriding religion in the past year.

Needless to say, critics of this trend have pointed out that the vast majority of the deaths incurred by conflicts in history's bloodiest century - the twentieth - were caused by fanatical non-believers in traditional faiths in the name of their Communist, Maoist and Nazi faiths.

But it must be admitted that violent religious extremists are, at this moment in time, the primary threat to the peace of the world. The only problem with this unpleasant fact is that the opprobrium rightly aimed at the perpetrators of this faith-based violence cannot be neatly distributed across the board to practitioners of the three major monotheistic religions.

Though present-day Jews and Christians are not all saints, there is no getting around the fact that neither of those religions has sprouted a contemporary movement aimed at world domination to be achieved by terror and war. That honor is reserved for the Muslim faith, among whose adherents Islamist terror movements have found a home in the mainstream of its culture.

Not all Muslims are Islamists. Most American Muslims are nothing of the kind. But the notion that supporters of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other assorted anti-Western and anti-Jewish terror movements are a tiny minority in the Arab and Muslim world is a delusion.

But in this age of political correctness, to single out one group for the sins of a large number of its members is considered unfair and perhaps even racist. So, instead, we are asked to pretend that there is an intrinsic connection or even symmetry between Christian, Jewish and Muslim extremists.

That was exactly the premise of a widely heralded three-part series on CNN last week. Titled "G-d's Holy Warriors," and fronted by famed international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, it was a tryptich across the globe to highlight the danger from Jewish, Muslim and Christian extremists who are all given the same treatment and air-time in the guise of even-handedness.

Thus, by its very structure of equating the three different situations, the series was nothing short of a brazen lie.

Though all parts of the series were problematic, the first of the series, devoted to threat from extremist Israeli Jewish settlers and the entire network of support for the State of Israel in this country, was as classic an example of a dishonest piece of biased programming as anything that has been broadcast on a major network.

Though a tiny fraction of the settlement movement, which itself commands the support of only a fraction of Israelis, have committed isolated acts of violence, the notion that this group is in any way analogous to Al Qaeda is nothing short of bizarre. If anything, Jewish settlers and ordinary Israelis living inside the pre-1967 borders have themselves been the victims of the intolerance, fanaticism and violence of their Muslim neighbors.

That the broadcasts' view of international law on the question of the legality of the Jewish presence in the territories is one-sided is an understatement. A strong case can be made that the Jews living in those places have every right to do so. Moreover the idea that their living in these places constitutes the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East is nothing short of fantastic especially given the events of the last several years which have shown how disinterested the Palestinians are in peace with Israel no matter where its borders are.

Even worse, the show seemingly accepts the discredited canard of Israeli and American Jewish control of American foreign policy put forth by such risible figures as former president Jimmy Carter and academic John Mearsheimer whose views were treated with respect rather than journalistic skepticism.

As such the worldwide news network lent itself to a line of argument that has rightly been termed a modern intellectual justification for anti-Semitism.

But no matter what one's view of the settlers, the main problem with the series cannot be explained away. Extremist Muslims are a threat to both peace and the West. But a few right-wing Jews are no threat to anyone and are, if anything, among the primary victims of Muslim terror.

CNN cannot be allowed to get away with this sort of despicable bias. Decent persons of all faiths need to speak out against this network and to make sure that it, and its arrogant star Amanpour, are made to hear of our outrage at every possible opportunity and in every way possible, including the use of economic leverage by both sponsors and viewers.


Homosexuals assault critics

Angry homosexual activists harassed and assaulted ex-homosexuals at the Arlington County Fair last week, according to an ex-gay educational and support group.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) reports its volunteers were distributing education materials on same-sex attraction and awareness of ex-homosexuals at their fair booth. Homosexual activists approached them and created a disturbance, spewing obscenities and dashing materials from the exhibit table. The group demanded that PFOX leave the fairgrounds, recognize "same-sex spouses" and rejected arguments that homosexuals could change their sexual orientation although they admitted they knew heterosexuals who had done the same.

The confrontation escalated after one activist struck a PFOX ex-gay volunteer after becoming infuriated over the man's testimony about leaving the homosexual lifestyle. A police officer then ejected the activist from the fairgrounds, although the ex-homosexual volunteer declined to press charges citing the example of Jesus Christ. The incident, while not uncommon in PFOX experience, continues to highlight homosexual activists' rejection of tolerance and equal access ideas opposing and competing with the homosexual agenda.

PFOX said that several homosexuals had identified themselves as teachers and would make sure that PFOX ex-homosexual materials would not reach teenagers in schools as pro-homosexual materials do.


The Racial Engineering of San Francisco

Post below lifted from American Thinker

One of the ugliest aspects of contemporary "progressive" thought is a thoroughly patronizing attitude toward African-Americans, regarding them as eternal victims unable to fend for themselves. The latest insult comes from America's most stridently left wing big city government, San Francisco, where municipal officials are fretting over recent declines in the number of blacks living within the city limits.

The nation's largest newspaper, USA Today, yesterday joined the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle in bemoaning the trend of San Franciscans of African heritage moving out of the central city. Not just to "working-class cities like Vallejo, Richmond or Fairfield" (The New York Times), but to genuine American Dream suburbs like fast-growing Tracy California, which welcomes all races and hosts a proud and growing African-American community that includes a number of people of my acquaintance.

Even more pernicious than liberal journalists lamenting blacks behaving like every other group attracted to the amenities of suburban living are the official attitude and actions of local government.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last April that:
San Francisco officials are now calling the thousands of black people who have moved away "the African American diaspora," and the mayor's office is putting together a task force to figure out what can be done to preserve the remaining black population and cultivate new residents.
USA Today helpfully updates:
San Francisco officials... vow to stop the exodus and develop a strategy to win blacks back to the city. In June, Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed a task force to study how to reverse decades of policies - and neglect - that black leaders say have fueled the flight. [emphasis added]
So taxpayer funds are already being expended for the purpose of encouraging one race to live in the city of San Francisco, and by extension discouraging other races who might instead occupy the same housing. Am I the only person who sees this as racist madness?

A thought experiment

Imagine that instead of blacks, the white population of San Francisco (which has declined significantly over the last several decades, from 89.5% white in 1950 to 53% in 2000) were the object of concern. City officials trying "stop the exodus" or "win whites" (as if they were a prize) or "to figure out what can be done to preserve the remaining white population and cultivate new white residents" would be properly accused of racism.

But the problem with the city's concern to "preserve" (not in formaldehyde, one hopes) its black population go deeper than just an unthinking and reflexive desire to see blacks as a special group deserving special rights and needing special protections from a wise and benevolent city government that knows better than they where said blacks should live. The very concept of racially engineering a city's population ought to be anathema to anyone who gives a moment's thought to the matter.

What's the "optimum" number?

How would one go about deciding how many blacks are "enough" for San Francisco? Any theory or method one might choose is deeply flawed.

The latest estimate of San Francisco's black population puts it at 6.5%, a level which is below the national average of 12.3%, but which is almost equal to the California average of  6.7%. Yet the current black percentage of the city's population already is regarded as a problem because it is too low. So apparently the thinking is that San Francisco for some reason should have a greater-than-California-average concentration of black residents. It is not merely a matter of San Francisco reflecting the average, San Francisco should exceed the average. Why? Are blacks to be stereotyped as "urban" - the kind of people who should be concentrated in certain neighborhoods? I thought we called this "ghettoization" and considered it racist.

All three newspaper articles linked above mention the history of African-Americans in San Francisco, so perhaps the thinking is that some sort of "historic preservation" principle applies to ethnic communities as well as to structures of architectural or historic significance. But anyone with the slightest familiarity with San Francisco history, or the history of practically any large American city for that matter, should see that neighborhoods change over time, as established groups prosper and move on, and are replaced by newer residents.

Historical amnesia

All three newspapers specifically mention the Fillmore District in San Francisco as a neighborhood sadly being lost by its apparently somehow rightful black inhabitants. Yet none of the papers bothers to note that African-Americans came to the Fillmore in large numbers only because the previous Japanese-American residents were forcibly evacuated to internment camps during World War II. Incidentally, it was liberal President Franklin D. Roosevelt and liberal Governor (and subsequently Chief Justice) Earl Warren who were responsible for this non-lethal ethnic cleansing. The forced evacuation handed the neighborhood by default to black immigrants from the South who flocked to San Francisco to contribute to the war effort on the shipyards, docks, and other defense facilities.

In fact, prior to World War II, San Francisco had very few black residents (well under one percent). The relatively few blacks in the Bay Area were concentrated in West Oakland, a community that had its origin as the home of sleeping car porters who worked the transcontinental railways with their terminals in Oakland. In those days of overt racism, sleeping car porters were among the best-paid blacks in the country.

Nobody tried to "protect" the Irish or Italians

There are plenty of other neighborhoods in San Francisco which have seen their ethnic character change over the past several decades. For example the Castro District, now famous as a gay neighborhood, was formerly inhabited predominantly by Irish Catholic families. I would be astonished if someone could point out to me articles in the New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle which sympathetically portrayed the plight of these families who watched the ethnic and cultural tone of their neighborhood radically transformed by affluent immigrants from elsewhere. I know of no initiatives on the part of the city of San Francisco to make itself congenial to Irish Americans, or which sought to "preserve" the Irish population. The same could be said of the city's Italian-American community.

What about Asians and Hispanics?

Another note entirely missing form the press coverage was any mention of those groups which are replacing the blacks who are moving out. It is no secret to anyone that Asians and Hispanics have been moving to the city (and to California and the United States) in large numbers. Just walk the streets or visit any of the city's famous restaurants. On what basis do city officials and the newspapers believe that these and other groups are less desirable residents than African-Americans? And why are municipal resources being spent to (by implication) discourage them from residing in the city so that blacks may instead live in the city's relatively finite housing stock?

Every group fondly remembers "the old neighborhood"

It is entirely a different matter to remember ethnic neighborhoods of the past nostalgically and recall the good times enjoyed at the churches, restaurants, barbershops, pubs, and other community gathering places. Every group does that when they have moved on. A major theme of The Sopranos, after all, was nostalgia for the old Italian-American enclave in Newark, a city now heavily African-American.

San Francisco, for all its political foibles, is city whose housing stock is in high demand thanks to views, climate, and a dynamic economy that has seen wave after wave of new firms formed to exploit cutting edge business opportunities, attracting wave after wave of newcomers to staff them. In the past, the market mechanism has sufficed to allocate the housing to those who wish to live there. One of my children is making a considerable financial sacrifice in order to live in a small apartment in the city, rather than in more spacious and less expensive accommodations elsewhere. Life is full of such tradeoffs, and I see no reason why African-Americans should be presumed less capable of making these tradeoffs for themselves than anyone else. Evidently city officials see it otherwise.

A city government entering the business of racially engineering of its population is repellant.The liberal journalists who fan this sort of racism ought to be ashamed of themselves. And the city officials who proclaim their preference for residents of one racial group over others ought to be challenged to justify their racism

Australia's Howard attacks religious `insults'

John Howard last night condemned two entries in the nation's top religious art competition, labelling them "gratuitously offensive" to Christians. A statue of the Virgin Mary shrouded by a Muslim burqa and a holographic image of terrorist Osama bin Laden that morphs into Jesus Christ submitted for the Blake Prize have drawn a furious response from politicians and church leaders.

Yesterday, Mr Howard said the pieces were insulting and lacked any artistic merit. "The choice of such artwork is gratuitously offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians," Mr Howard said. He was backed by New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma who said the inclusion of the artworks was extremely questionable. "I haven't seen either of these pieces but from what has been described to me, it's a pity they were not stolen instead of the Dutch masterpiece," Mr Iemma said, referring to the recent theft of a painting from the Art Gallery of NSW.

Last night, the Uniting Church minister who chairs the Blake Society defended the pieces. The Reverend Rod Pattenden, who awarded the $15,000 prize to the competition winner in Sydney yesterday, said his mission was to spark debate about spirituality in a world that was "cynical, degraded and in crisis". Mr Pattenden said he did not expect controversy to result from the exhibition at the National Art School Gallery "because the Christian community doesn't look at art a great deal".

Artist Luke Sullivan's entry, The fourth street of Fatima,which is on display at the gallery in Darlinghurst in Sydney, is a statue of the Virgin Mary with a rosary and a burqa - for many, a potent symbol of female oppression. Priscilla Joyce Bracks' Bearded Orientals, Making the Empire Cross is a lenticular image in which the viewer can flip between portraits of Jesus and bin Laden by shifting slightly from side to side.

Mr Pattenden said the Virgin statue embodied "iconic representations of two different religious traditions". "He (the artist) is making a comment about gender in a religion dominated by men," Mr Pattenden said. "I find it unsettling and unfamiliar and I think that's always an opportunity for new insight." As for Bracks' double image of Christ and bin Laden, Mr Pattenden said the artist was questioning "the idea that you can have absolute good and absolute evil. Life's a bit more complicated than that".

The Australian Christian Lobby said placing Jesus in the same artwork as Osama bin Laden was "a big mistake". "Jesus brought a message of love and forgiveness that has nothing to do with terrorism," spokeswoman Glynis Quinlan said.



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 INTERNATIONAL 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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