Saturday, March 31, 2007


Thousands of prisoners are being given keys to their cells in the latest farce to hit the criminal justice system. They can roam in and out virtually at will under a scheme designed to give them more "respect and decency". The astonishing measure prompted a furious response from MPs last night, who warned that the human-rights culture was out of control.

It will provoke a furious public backlash at a time when prisons are overflowing and dangerous offenders are being tagged and freed into the community. Official figures revealed that 5,747 of the 9,577 offenders in Yorkshire prisons have keys for 'privacy locks' to protect themselves and their belongings. Although many of them are at open prisons and youth offenders' institutes, others are in standard closed prisons for those who have committed serious crimes such as muggings, burglary and theft. It also emerged that some youth prisons now call offenders 'trainees' or 'residents'.

Governors in other parts of the country are also understood to have introduced the key scheme. Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies accused the Government of "turning prisons into hotels". He said: "People will be horrified to know so many prisons give inmates their own keys. It will reinforce their views that the regime is far too lax and cushy. "These people are banged up for a reason. But the Government seems more concerned about the human rights of criminals than those of their victims, who are footing the bill to keep them in increasingly pleasant surroundings."

Blair Gibbs, director of the Tax-Payers' Alliance, said: "It is hard to believe we live in a serious country any more when you hear lunacy like this. Our politicians are clearly not capable of running anything that resembles an effective criminal justice system."

Home Office Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "It's mainly used for people who are soon going to be released or in open prisons. "It's all part of providing incentives to encourage them to take more responsibility for themselves, to give them a little bit more respect and decency." He stressed that the prisoners' locks could be over-ridden by staff keys and insisted: "There are no security issues about this. The keys are for their own cells and nowhere else."

The revelation will still reinforce concern that prisoners' 'rights' are increasingly being pandered to. In the financial year that ended last March, 8.8 million in compensation was paid out to prisoners - almost 15 times as much as just two years earlier. Cases included:

2.8 million for medical treatment for a prisoner who failed in a suicide bid.

750,000 for nearly 200 drug addicts who suffered withdrawal symptoms after they were forced to go 'cold turkey'.

80,000 for three illegal immigrant convicts who were not deported quickly enough, opening the door for hundreds of similar claims.

200 each for prisoners whose DVD players were taken away because they watched pornography.

There was also the case of Gerry Cooper, who sued the Home Office after falling out of a bunk bed in his cell. Inquiries by Mr Davies showed that of Yorkshire's 15 prisons, six give keys to all their inmates and three based the decisions on category of offence and personal circumstances. The six who deny them to all offenders, include top-security Wakefield, where Soham murderer Ian Huntley is serving life.

Governors at Hull Prison, where 50 per cent of inmates have keys, suggested the practice was there to help prisoners protect themselves from others. The prison said: "The facility is overridden by staff keys and is seen as of additional benefit to vulnerable prisoners by providing extra protection."

The inquiries also unearthed the fact that young prisoners at Askham Grange prison are called 'residents', while at Wetherby they are 'trainees'. Earlier this year, Derbyshire chief constable David Coleman was accused of 'madness' after refusing to release pictures of two escaped murderers amid fears it might breach their human rights. He claimed they posed 'no risk' to local people.


Multicultural Europe and its suicide

So-called dialogue with the Islamic world and relativism regarding marriage, the dignity of women, and sexual equality in the name of multiculturalism is destroying European identity and doing away with womens rights

The ideology of multiculturalism, i.e. blind tolerance toward any culture and tradition, is destroying European identity and is above all doing away with human rights and, more specifically, women's rights. A prime example is the increasing tolerance in European countries toward polygamy.

In theory, polygamy is prohibited in Italy and in Europe. But it increasingly happens, in the name of multiculturalism, that Muslim immigrants are registered as polygamists in the European continent: if a man is Muslim and married in his country of origin with 4 wives, we cannot but accept this as a given. All this goes against European laws and constitutions - which affirm monogamous families - but, in the name of a misplaced respect for cultures, any solution is deemed acceptable.

Tolerance for polygamy?

In Italy, some constitutionalists are suggesting, for the sake of letting people have it both ways, that only one wife be recognized as such, while the others are considered concubines: this would settle the situation of various Muslims who already have a wife in their country of origin and take another in Italy. Others think that a distinction could be made between civil marriage (at City Hall, with just one wife) and religious marriage in a mosque, where polygamous marriages could be celebrated. Naturally, to do this, they are proposing that the articles of Italian civil law, which affirm monogamy and the equality of men and women, not be read. A similar trend is spreading in Greece. In certain areas where Muslims are the majority, the government has accepted the principle that they manage themselves with their own norms. And so, in Athens, polygamy is prohibited, but in Muslim-majority areas, it is allowed, again in the name of cultural respect.

Multiculturalism is doing a lot of damage. Firstly to common sense: if a man is married in Senegal with a woman and in Italy with another, this cannot be defined as monogamy. A crime remains such whether it is committed in Italy or abroad. Such tricks are actually a way to suggest loopholes for polygamy. Thus, if an Italian wants to have more than just one wife, all he needs to do is to convert to Islam!

But multiculturalism is above all damaging to the dignity of women. Polygamy in Italy is prohibited in that it is contrary to the principle of equality between men and women. It would be useful to Islam too to affirm this principle. In Islamic society, in fact, women cannot be polygamous (only men have that "right"). The same is true for repudiation, which is permitted to a man, but not to a woman who, however, can ask her husband the favour of repudiating her. Affirming monogamy is thus the way forward on the path for an overall effort in favour of women's rights.

The Imam of Venissieux and women

To understand the humiliation in which women live in the Islamic world, I would like to recall a fact that sparked much debate in France. Last February 20th, the courts definitively rejected an appeal made by Imam Abdelkader Bouziane. An Algerian-national, Sheikh Abdelkader, imam of the mosque of Venissieux, near Lyon, a polygamist and father of 16 (sixteen) children (14 of which French citizens) had been living in France since 1980.

He had been ordered on February 26, 2004, to leave the country by Interior Minister Sarkozy, for his inflammatory speeches and for incitement to hatred, but the ordinance was not enforced. On April 20, following an interview in the "Lyon Mag" newspaper, he was again served an expulsion order for his statements against women, in particular for having said that "the Koran authorizes a Muslim, in certain cases, to beat his wife," that women must subjugated themselves to their husband and were not equal to men.

On April 23rd, the administrative tribunal of Lyon suspended the expulsion ordinance and rejected the Interior Ministry's request. The imam went back to France in May 22. On October 5, 2004, the State Council cancelled the expulsion suspension, and the next day the iman was again expelled to Orano in Algeria. On June 21, 2005, the Lyon court declared him once again free, but on October 14, he was convicted in absentia. The imam filed an appeal, but on February 6, 2007, the courts definitively rejected his case.

The "Regards de femmes" Association of Lyon, which had sued the imam, declared: "The right to dignity, to respect, to the integrity of her body belongs to every woman in France. It will not be possible from now on to legitimize violence against women on the pretence of religion." .....

The Koran: wife beating is allowed

Various readers were up in arms, but in the end the imam defended himself saying that this is the Koran. And he's right. If we open the Koran at Sura 4, verse 34, we can read: "Men have authority over women due to the preference that Allah concedes to them over the other and because they spend their property [for women]; Good women are therefore obedient, guarding under secrecy that which Allah has preserved [sex]. [2] ; As for those on whose part you fear insubordination, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do nothing further against them; Allah is high and great."

Last week on Al Jazeera, I heard another imam explain the four conditions for beating a wife: not on her face; without drawing blood; without breaking bones; not in the presence of children. If all this is insufficient, one must resort to extreme punishment, i.e. the man deprives his wife of sexual relations.

The Koran is also explicit on the question of the superiority of men to women; according to the Koran, Charter 2 (The Cow), Verse 228: "Divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three periods; and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have priority to take them back during this time if they wish for reconciliation; and they [women] have rights equivalent to their duties, on the basis of good custom, but the men are superior. Allah is Mighty, Wise."

The Italian edition published by the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII) includes a long footnote (absent on the on-line version) on the phrase "but men are superior":

"In a pitiful effort to standardize Islam to Western culture, certain modernist commentators have written that superiority has only to do with the right of men to repudiate their wife, a faculty which is not reciprocal. In reality, it is a much more important and fundamental matter for the maintaining of balance at the individual, family and social levels.

"Man and Woman are two complementary realities that exist unto each other. If this were not so, Allah (glory be to Him the Most High) would not have formed Eve from Adam's rib, he would have furnished each gender with complete reproductive organs, etc., etc. "The physical structure of men is capable of great exertion and significant exploits, that of women, of steady labour and great endurance of pain.

"Male sensitivity is entirely exterior, projected outside the realm of family and tends to become public and political. That of women is interior, careful of oneself, aimed at the protection of that which has been acquired and to the acquisition of simple means of sustenance and security.

"Male psychology is imaginative, creative, experimental, risk-loving, desirous of novelty, of affirming the Self, usually ample and superficial. That of women is concrete, traditional, risk-hating, desirous of certainty, of conserving what is "mine", usually profound and limited.

"In the realm of family, the respect of the Laws of Allah and of the Sunna of the Messenger can create situations that require an affirmation of power that mortifies the complementarity of spouses. But apart from complementarity, there is the problem of leadership, in the family and in society, which does not mean predomination, oppression or the lack of recognition of female predominance in a number of sectors and circumstances. Allah (Glory be to Him, the Most High) assigns this management role to the male. It is an onerous and difficult task that men would often willingly do without, and for which he must respond before Allah."

This apologetic comment, written by an Italian converted to Islam, mirrors the opinion of traditionalistic ulemas, avoiding their excesses. It assigns specific tasks to men and to women, tasks which are unchangeable because determined by God, which claim to correspond to the nature of one and the other. It is obvious that such a distribution of roles, established by God for eternity and valid for all times and cultures, is hardly compatible with Western mentality and is often incompatible with the laws and constitutions of Europe.


Is it possible to accept this teaching in the name of the respect for cultures and religious tolerance? This is the serious question faced by all Western countries.

I don't know if the flag-wavers of multiculturalism realize how much human damage they cause. Actually, it is increasingly clear that so-called multicultural tolerance is only acquiescence to a subtle form of racism. In the name of cultural difference, in fact, everything is left to proceed on parallel tracks, without envisaging any progress, integration or betterment in the name of human dignity.

It is time for Europe to understand that religious law cannot prevail over civil law and that, above every form of tolerance, there is a country's constitution. If this does not happen, Islam will be given carte blanche to colonize our customs.



LAST Sunday was Neighbour Day. The idea behind the day is simple and worthwhile. Neighbours are encouraged to say hello to one another. Neighbour Day was started by Melburnian Andrew Heslop in 2003 and is now celebrated throughout the country. The concept has been welcomed by politicians from both sides of politics, federal and state governments and local councils.

It is ironic that governments support Neighbour Day, given government regulations are a chief cause of the decline in the sense of community in our neighbourhoods. Forty per cent of Victorians engage in some sort of voluntary activity, and voluntary organisations are central to strong neighbourhoods. Yet government rules are putting the future of those organisations and what they do at risk. Community initiative is being stifled as regulations become so burdensome that many volunteers find that their participation is simply not worth the trouble.

Fund-raising sausage sizzles are now subject to 40 pages of regulation from the Department of Human Services. It is a legal requirement that functions appoint an "event co-ordinator", who must complete a checklist of more than 30 questions, ranging from the time the event started and finished, to whether the area was free of pests, to the name, address and phone number of anyone who supplied food. To conduct a sausage sizzle will probably require two separate permits from the local council. One permit to authorise the fund-raising and another to allow food to be sold.

The purpose of all this bureaucracy is, of course, to prevent food poisoning. And, possibly because of additional regulation, a few people have been saved from an upset stomach. But there is a trade-off. As governments make it harder and more complicated to run voluntary activities, volunteers become less willing to organise those activities. People no longer attempt to help themselves, and instead they look to government for the solution to their community's problems.

It might be obvious, but what is often forgotten is that voluntary organisations are run by volunteers. Even if they wanted to, volunteers don't have the time to navigate their way through 40 pages of instructions, fill out five pages of paperwork, and then wait 14 days for council approval, all so that they can cook some sausages. Common sense has been replaced by adherence to a rulebook. Most people understand that buying food at a school fete is different from buying it at a commercial restaurant. Many of the issues council health inspectors try to solve could be fixed by simply declaring that anyone purchasing at a community event does so that their own risk.

The modern-day mania for "risk management" has eliminated a range of activities previously conducted by voluntary associations. While risk was once an accepted part of everyday life, now it is something that must be eliminated.

For a number of years a group of volunteers has operated an after-school sports program for children living on an inner-city housing commission estate in Melbourne. The program was supported by an AFL club whose players regularly visited the estate to teach drills to the 30 children who attended each week.

This year, with the program growing and consuming more time, the volunteers decided to hand over the running of the program to a local government agency. The first requirement from officials at the agency was that the program institute a "risk management" plan and that every volunteer have a "position description". It didn't matter that the worst accident any child had ever experienced was a bump on the head, and that volunteers had spent years working quite happily without "position descriptions". The result was that because none of the volunteers had the time or expertise to complete the necessary paperwork the program was cancelled.

Victorians would be surprised to know there's a state government department responsible for voluntary organisations. It's called the Department for Victorian Communities and its mandate is to work "with local people throughout Victoria with the mutual goal of strengthening communities". The department is even running an inquiry into the red tape faced by community groups. So far nothing much has happened. Maybe a new and radical approach is necessary. The best thing government could do is get out of the way. Rather than attempting to abolish the inevitable risk associated with practically anything a community group does, government could let people make their own choices. It is hoped that as attitudes change back to what they once were, we may no longer need to be reminded to say hello to our neighbours.


Can you combine a career with motherhood?

By Australian journalist Caroline Overington

YOU cannot have it all. That's the message that Carmel Tebbutt imparted to women when she stepped down from the NSW ministry to spend more time with her six-year-old son, Nathan. It's the same message that Natasha Stott Despoja sent to women, when she announced that she would not stand for re-election in 2008, to spend more time with her two-year-old son, Conrad. Tebbutt said she didn't want other mothers to think it was impossible to "combine a career and being a mother".

But it's true, you can't have a high powered career if you're a mother, not unless you: a) have a husband at home who does not work; or b) have paid help (or a doting grandma) to pick up the kids from school, supervise their homework; put them to bed; prepare the school lunches; and provided you can live with the guilt of never being there for any of the significant moments in your child's life.

Most women can't do it. It feels wrong - indeed, it probably is wrong - to be pounding away at a career while your children lie sobbing in bed, wondering why you're not home. That's why most mothers work part-time: three or four days a week, even in high-powered jobs. And that's why it's simply not true that you can't have it all.

You can, it's just that most women don't want it all - not if "all" means spending most of their waking hours away from their children. Given a choice between a career and the kids, most women will go for a bit of both, thank you. Don't tell anyone, but for most of us, that is having it all.



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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Lesbian asks court to ban homosexual adoptions

Sara Wheeler's life has become a contradiction. Once a proud lesbian, she's now a pariah in the gay community. Once in a committed relationship with a female partner, she's rethinking her sexuality. And now she's doing something she once would have considered unthinkable - arguing that gays don't have the legal right to adopt children. Wheeler is coming to grips with the fact that she's become an outcast for taking this step in a custody fight for her child. But she says that isn't what her fight is about: "It's about motherly rights."

Wheeler, 36, and her partner, Missy, decided to start a family together and share the Wheeler last name. In 2000, Sara Wheeler gave birth to a son, Gavin, through artificial insemination. Two years later, they decided Missy Wheeler should adopt the child and legally become his second parent. Georgia law doesn't specifically say whether gay parents can adopt a child, so the decision was up to a judge in the Atlanta area's DeKalb County. After an adoption investigator determined that both partners wanted it, the judge cleared the request.

The couple's relationship later soured. Missy Wheeler wouldn't comment for this story, but her attorney, Nora Bushfield, said Sara became involved with someone else and wouldn't let Missy and Gavin see each other. Sara Wheeler acknowledged the other relationship, saying "regardless of my action, it doesn't make me a bad mother."

Sara and Missy Wheeler had split by July 2004, and Missy was fighting for joint custody of the boy. The two sides do agree about one thing: The case is about a mother's rights. "Everybody seems to forget we're not talking about lesbian rights," Missy Wheeler's attorney says. "We're talking about a child who's been bonded with a mother."

Sara Wheeler made the legal argument that, since nothing in Georgia law specifically allowed gay adoption, the adoption should be tossed out. Her first lawyers warned her the case could set gay rights back a century. She hired a new attorney and asked the DeKalb County court to toss the adoption that she had previously pushed for, claiming it should never have been approved because it runs afoul of state law.

News of the tactic whipped up Atlanta's gay community, one of the largest in the South. Lambda Legal, a gay rights group, made a legal filing with the Georgia Supreme Court supporting Missy Wheeler. "There's something about this case that's just tragic," said Greg Nevins, a lawyer for the group. Laura Douglas-Brown, editor of Southern Voice, the city's main gay newspaper, penned a column accusing Sara Wheeler of "self-hating." "We owe it to each other not to lash out in ways that damage the entire gay community," she wrote. "Your own family may be destroyed, but don't destroy ours, too."

Sara said she felt like she had no choice. "I'm not doing anything else a mother wouldn't do to fight for her son," she said. "Some people may think it's the unthinkable, but if they were put in my shoes, they'd do the same thing." It didn't go so well. Her lawsuit seeking to throw out the adoption was rejected by the DeKalb County judge and then the state Court of Appeals. Then the Georgia Supreme Court, in a 4-3 vote in February, declined to hear the case. Only months earlier the court had upheld the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, which Georgia voters overwhelmingly approved in 2004. Justice George H. Carley, who voted with the minority in the gay adoption case, declared he was "at a loss to comprehend" why the court refused to consider a case of such "great concern, gravity and public importance."

Sara Wheeler is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider her case. Such a request rarely succeeds, but the narrow vote gives her hope that one justice might be swayed. "There's nothing that states this is an acceptable adoption," she said. "If Georgia wants to allow it, it needs to make proper laws." As the legal motions flew back and forth, the two women established a workable routine. The 7-year-old boy goes to Missy Wheeler's place every other weekend and on Tuesday nights. The rest of the time Sara Wheeler ferries him to karate practice, plays tag with him outside her apartment and takes him out for pizza every Friday.

The case has taken a toll on Sara. Aside from a few gay friends, she has turned away from the gay community. She no longer dates, and doesn't go to gay clubs or events any more. She said she is rethinking whether she is still a lesbian or whether she should abandon dating for good. "I just don't feel comfortable in that scene," she says. "I'm just trying to figure it all out." She knows she's seen as a betrayer; but in a sense, she feels she was the one betrayed. "Before I'm anything - gay or lesbian - I'm a mother," she says. "And the most important thing is to make sure my son has a relationship with his biological mother."



Muslim GPs fail to respect the confidentiality of Muslim women patients, Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, has claimed. Ms Hewitt, who represents a constituency in Leicester with a large ethnic minority community, said: "I have had Muslim women give me chapter and verse on very distressing breaches of confidentiality by Muslim GPs. "Some women patients feel they cannot trust their own GP. If they talk to him about a very difficult situation concerning domestic violence or sexual health problems they fear that he will share that with other members of the community." Ms Hewitt had touched on the issue earlier in a speech to the Fabian Society but elaborated her concerns in an interview in Pulse.

A report published last year by the Muslim Women's Network lends some support to Ms Hewitt's charges. It said: "Women did not trust professionals from within their own communities to be always bound by professional rules of confidentiality." The report is based on conversations with Muslim women throughout the country.

But Asian GPs reacted strongly to Ms Hewitt's remarks. Dr Vijoy Singh, chair of Leicestershire and Rutland Local Medical Committee, which covers Ms Hewitt's constituency, said: "No GP would break confidentiality because if they break it, they are liable to be sued. She's out of touch." Prakash Chandra, Local Medical Committee chairman in Newham, which has many Muslim residents, told Pulse: "It surprises me that Patricia Hewitt would make such a statement. This is not a problem I have come across."

A spokeswoman for the General Medical Council (GMC), which investigates complaints against doctors, said: "The GMC is aware that some groups of patients may have added concerns about the confidentiality of their personal information." In the past year, she said, 11 doctors had been referred to a fitness to practise hearing for allegations involving the intentional disclosure of patient information. A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association (BMA) said: "Breaching confidentiality is extremely serious and any doctor who does must be prepared to justify their actions to the General Medical Council."

Jo Haynes, editor of Pulse, said: "These are serious accusations. You would hope Patricia Hewitt has some firm evidence to back up her decision to single out Muslim doctors in this way." Ms Hewitt said: "This is not a direct accusation against Muslim GPs - it is a call for sensitivity from all parts of the health service."

Haleh Afshar, professor of politics and women's studies at York University and chair-woman of the Muslim Women's Network, said she believed that Ms Hewitt had been commenting on issues raised in its own report. "We said that this is a concern that is shared by all women, but the difficulty for Muslim women is that sometimes they don't have the option of going to a GP outside their community." Dr Reefat Drabu, a GP in Southampton, said that she found the accusations offensive. "I'm a Muslim doctor" she said. "Confidentiality is paramount not just for the GP, but for the whole practice. To breach confidentiality in my practice is a sackable offence."


Rebranding the Enemy

Post lifted from American Thinker

The Left has developed no end of tricks to manipulate debates without the trouble of making a case or putting together an argument. Many of them have been in wide use for decades without ever being identified, much less counteracted. One example widely seen in recent weeks is a technique closely related to what the PR industry calls "rebranding": taking a group that is loathed for any number of good reasons - terrorists, criminals, druggies, what have you - and subtly reworking their image over time to present them instead as victims.

One group that benefited from this style of makeover was the American criminal class. During the 1950s, research carried out by criminologists and psychologists was misinterpreted by the liberal elite to mean that criminals were not responsible for their actions, that they had been coerced into violating the law by forces beyond their control, such as poverty, lack of education, mental disorders and so on. "It's not their fault, society is to blame", became the watchword of the day. Newspaper editorials, films, and television programs repeated the concept until, by the end of the decade, it had became the consensus view. It found policy expression through such programs as decriminalization of minor offenses, sentence reduction, probation rather than prison, and a general vilification of the police. In the end, it acted as a major driver of the great crime wave of the 60s, one of the worst disasters this country ever endured, and one still not widely understood.

The same technique has been utilized to reform the reputations of drug addicts, assorted sexual deviants, the Sandinistas, the Palestinians, and other enemies of civilization. As a rule of thumb, if the group is vulnerable to counteraction by the status quo, they become victims. If, on the other hand, they can stand on their own in open defiance, like Castro or the Viet Cong, they're treated as heroes.

Recent days have seen this process applied to the Jihadis. The first example involves Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Al Qaeda's infamous KSM. You don't have to believe the account contained in his confession claiming responsibility for every disaster since the Hindenburg to be aware that KSM is quite a vile piece of work, who at this moment is exactly where he ought to be. It's a little difficult imagining anyone thinking otherwise.

That is, if you hadn't considered Human Rights Watch. No sooner had KSM's hearing taken place than Kenneth Roth, the organization's executive director, questioned its legality and whether the confession was obtained by torture.
"We won't know that unless there is an independent hearing," he said. "We need to know if this purported confession would be enough to convict him at a fair trial or would it have to be suppressed as the fruit of torture?"
This was followed in short order by comments from senators Carl Levin and Lindsey Graham -- who were present at the hearing -- calling for an investigation into KSM's treatment at the hands of U.S. forces, thus falling in with the Al-Qaeda's rule 18: always claim you were tortured. Levin and Graham (who I thought was Republican) displayed considerable sympathy for KSM in their statement:
"...he views himself as a warrior, motivated by religious teachings, and seeks his place in history."
None of these exercises is complete without the participation of an academic, preferably a full professor. Anthony D'Amato of Northwestern University assured that we were not disappointed. In a short opinion piece D'Amato compared the KSM hearing to the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s, even though the proceeding was not a trial and was not open to public view.

D'Amato was particularly upset over the confession, which, like many, he found unlikely. But instead of attributing it to good tradecraft (KSM taking credit - if that's the word I'm groping for - for many attacks might conceivably take the heat off of vulnerable Jihadi networks), D'Amato compared it to the bizarre confessions of Stalin's victims. The problem with this interpretation is that with few exceptions (the Kirov assassination, for instance) most of the purge trial "conspiracies" never took place. I don't mean to batter D'Amato unduly - though he doesn't seem to know very much about the purges - but I hope he does believe that 9/11, the Khobar Towers, and the embassy attacks actually happened. One James Fetzer is enough.

KSM was not alone. Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam Hussein's vice-president who was hanged in Baghdad last week for complicity in crimes against the people of Iraq, underwent much the same treatment. It's difficult to imagine an individual better deserving of Ramadan's fate. But here we have the International Center for Transitional Justice, and Human Rights Watch (once again) declaring
"the evidence against him was insufficient for the death penalty."
The UN also wieghed in, with human rights chief Louise Arbour contending that the trial "failed to meet the standards of due process."

What's happening in these trials is unprecedented. They mark the first time that the victims, rather than a third party or international tribunal, have sat in judgment on their tormentors. If any similar proceeding deserves disdain, it's the Hague Tribunal, which spent years on the preliminaries of Sloboban Milosevic's trial before he finally died of a heart attack. In Iraq they know the virtue of keeping things humming. While the Iraqi effort may have its failings - as any pioneering attempt will - the regime trials will be studied for generations. And we can be sure that tyrants across the wide world are having sleepless nights every time the trap falls open in Baghdad.

A little closer to home, we find yet another aspect of the same routine. A high school in Colchester, Connecticut has, in the kind of role-playing game that delights modern educators, sent teenage girls walking around wearing burqas. They got precisely the kind of response - catcalls and insults - that you'd expect from a place packed with teenage boys. But the teachers and administration were no less than aghast:
"It's unacceptable," Superintendent Karen Loiselle said. "It's imperative students who are victims of those comments report them immediately and it will be taken very seriously. In this case, it has opened an important conversation."
These role-playing games, introduced in the 60s by a third-grade teacher named Jane Elliot,have never achieved anything apart from instigating the kind of behavior they were supposed to suppress. This exercise is no exception. But it's distinctly possible it wasn't meant to be. It happens that the entire affair was arranged by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Once that's understood, it begins to become clear why American girls were sent around wearing the major contemporary symbol for human degradation. It wasn't to "start a conversation", or to bridge gaps between ethnic groups. It was a con game to kick off a confrontation, in which Muslims - and not just any Muslims, but those of the most reactionary type - could be portrayed as victims. And the teachers and administrators of Colchester, as unworldly and ignorant as almost all such, fell right into it.

Is there anything involving Muslims that the media won't attempt to exploit? Well, now that you mention it... Between March 4 and 7 an event took place in St. Petersburg, Florida that may well rank as one of the most important of 2007. The Secular Islamic Summit was the first international gathering of moderate Muslims on record, featuring speakers Ibn Warraq,Irshad Manji, and Wafa Sultan, among many others, calling for an Islamic reformation based on principles of tolerance, separation of church and state, and individual rights. It's a brave effort, one deserving of all support - and one that went virtually unmentioned in the American media.

Similarly, in late March the moderate American Islamic Forum for Democracy offered to pay the legal costs of bystanders threatened with lawsuits by the imams taken off the airliner in Minneapolis last November. The imams have threatened to sue a number of passengers who may (or may not) have reported their activities. It's difficult to see this as anything other than intimidation, and unfortunately, it's the exact sort of thing many judges enjoy waxing Solomonic about. In that context, the Islamic Forum's offer comes as a breath of fresh air.

But how widely was it reported? Not at all. A single story in the Washington Times , and that was about it.

Because, of course, there are no victims involved. The legacy media, with its customary inability to adequately address issues of complexity, has come up with a working template: that Muslims are victims and common Americans, whether in government or out, are the victimizers. Nothing about Muslims as citizens, nothing about Muslims as compatriots, nothing about Muslims as allies need ever see print or airtime in their universe.

The danger of this should be obvious. The Jihadis are working night and day to strike at this country, and eventually they will succeed. When the blow falls, the entire newsprint facade of "Muslim as victim" will be blown to pieces, a collateral casualty of Jihadi efforts. The attempt to rebrand the likes of KSM and Ramadan will fall apart. Leaving what in its place?

Leaving absolutely nothing, certainly no image of Muslims as individuals worthy of respect. We may then see the backlash against Muslims that we've avoided for so long. As has happened all too often, the media will have been instrumental in creating the very situation it claimed to be trying to prevent.

It's all unnecessary. It is not, and has never been, the media's place to carry out psychological warfare campaigns against its own audience, no matter how lofty the purpose. Simply reporting the news is more than enough. And "news" includes events such as the Secular Islamic Summit and the admirable gesture of the American Islamic Forum. With the time that's left over, they can delve into the true nature of KSM and Ramadan, not to mention organizations like CAIR. And with that information on hand, Americans can probably be depended on to draw the proper conclusions on their own.


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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


With the current breastbeating about slavery in Britain (no-one would guess that it was actually Britain that ENDED slavery), it seems important to get clear just what was actually happening before 1807. I think that the following extract from The Encyclopedia Britannica would be a total surprise to 99.9% of Brits:

Black slaves exported from Africa were widely traded throughout the Islamic world. Approximately 18,000,000 Africans were delivered into the Islamic trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades between 650 and 1905.

In the second half of the 15th century Europeans began to trade along the west coast of Africa, and by 1867 between 7,000,000 and 10,000,000 Africans had been shipped as slaves to the New World.

Although some areas of Africa were depleted by slave raiding, on balance the African population grew after the establishment of the transatlantic slave trade because of new food crops introduced from the New World, particularly manioc, corn (maize), and possibly peanuts (groundnuts).

The relationship between African and New World slavery was highly complementary. African slave owners demanded primarily women and children for labour and lineage incorporation and tended to kill males because they were troublesome and likely to flee. The transatlantic trade, on the other hand, demanded primarily adult males for labour and thus saved from certain death many adult males who otherwise would have been slaughtered outright by their African captors

I guess I am naive but is there not some cause for THANKS somewhere in there?


Of all the stories I have covered about what is now called the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, few have been more remarkable than the disaster that has just befallen David Dobbin, a 43-year-old Cheshire farmer, who derived his entire livelihood from a large dairy herd. His 567 cows, including pedigree Ayrshires and Holsteins, had won prizes, and were worth upwards of 500,000 pounds.

In 2005 Cheshire trading standards officials, acting for Defra (one hopes Cheshire's taxpayers do not mind officials whose salaries they pay acting for a government department) began a long series of visits, to inspect the documentation required for Mr Dobbin's cattle under EC rules. The more they attempted to check the animals' eight-digit ear tags against their EC "cattle passports", the more they claimed to have found "irregularities", although they failed to explain how many or what these were.

Last November, on Defra's instructions, the officials seized all Mr Dobbin's passports, making it illegal for him to move animals off his farm and all but wiping out his income. Last month, serving him with a "notice to identify", they removed his herd to another farm, stating that, under EC regulation 494/98, it was their intention to destroy all 567 animals.

Dating back to the BSE panic, this diktat says that "if the keeper of an animal cannot prove its identification in two working days, it shall be destroyed without delay" and "without compensation". These powers, as I noted when the regulation was issued in 1998, were unprecedented. Nevertheless the regulation permits officials to destroy only animals that cannot be identified. Defra has never claimed that the paperwork for most of Mr Dobbin's cows was not in order, only that the officials had found "what they believed to be an unacceptable level of non-compliance with the regulations", and that this "could have serious implications for the protection of the human food chain".

Less than an hour before slaughter was due to begin, Mr Dobbin's combative Liverpool lawyer, David Kirwan, got a High Court injunction, giving the cows a stay of execution. He also won leave from Mr Justice Goldring for judicial review, on the grounds that Defra was acting beyond its powers. But this month, as the injunction expired, Defra insisted that, unless Mr Dobbin could prove the identification of every one of his animals, they must still be destroyed. Since all his passports, the most obvious means of identification, had been confiscated, this was impossible.

Defra told the court that Mr Dobbin would instead have to provide DNA identification for each animal, within two days. This would have been technically impossible, even if Defra had not moved the cows elsewhere and refused him access. The need to proceed with the slaughter, Defra argued, was urgent, because it had no resources to look after the cattle properly, causing severe "animal welfare" problems. The judge felt he had little option but to give the go-ahead, and on March 8 and 9 the cows were destroyed.

All Mr Dobbin can now hope for is that the judicial review may confirm that Defra acted outside the law. The officials agreed in court that they had never used these powers on anything like such a scale before. It has not been claimed that Mr Dobbin's animals posed any health risk (BSE this year is down to a single case). His only alleged offence was "non-compliance" with complex bureaucratic procedures, to an extent which Defra still cannot specify. For this he has seen his livelihood go up in smoke, without a penny in compensation.


Changing a bulb is risky at the BBC

With a few simple precautions, thousands manage it every day. Yet BBC staff have been stopped from replacing lightbulbs because of concerns for their health and safety. Instead, the corporation is paying up to 10 pounds for each replacement bulb to be fitted.

The situation came to light when Louise Wordsworth, a learning project manager with the BBC, complained. "I called up to ask for a new lightbulb for my desk lamp and was told that this would cost 10 pounds," she wrote in a letter to Ariel, the corporation's magazine. "On telling them I'd buy and replace the bulb myself (bought for the bargain price of 1 pound for two bulbs) I was told that it was against health and safety regulations. So guess how many BBC colleagues it finally took to change a lightbulb (risking life and limb to do so)?"

A BBC spokesman confirmed that there had been a number of complaints, but said that each request was judged on its merits to save staff time.

As for Ms Wordsworth's unanswered question, three years ago it was calculated how many people it takes to change a BBC lightbulb. The member of staff left in the dark would need to find a clerk to get a reference number so that the repair could be paid for, then report the fault to a helpline. An electrician would ask the store manager for the part and install the bulb, making a total of five people.


The Road to serfdom: How a civilization collapses

In Israel, as in the rest of the free world, we are witnessing the death by a thousand cuts of free thought. Last month, two students at Cambridge University's Clare College became victims of this state of affairs. The students dedicated an edition of their satire magazine to the one year anniversary of the global Muslim riots which followed the publication of caricatures of Mohammed in the Danish Jyllands Posten newspaper. As the students recalled, those riots led to the deaths of more than a hundred people.

Although the British media refused to republish the caricatures, British Muslims held terrifying protests throughout the country where they called from the destruction of Britain, the US, Denmark and Israel and for the murder of all who refuse to accept the global domination of Islam.

In their magazine, the students published some of the caricatures and mocked the Muslims for their hypocrisy in accusing British society of racial prejudice while calling for its violent destruction. The Muslim reaction was apparently swift. Fearing for their lives, the students were forced into hiding. But the Muslims were not alone in their anger. Clare College set up a special disciplinary court to consider action against the students. And the Cambridgeshire police opened a criminal investigation against them in late February.

The persecution of these students provides a case study of the two-pronged offensive being carried out today against Western culture. First there are the jihadists, who call for our destruction. Then there are the leftist intellectuals and public figures who defend radical Islamists and work to silence those who criticize them by criminalizing speech and condemning free thinkers as racists. The direct consequence of this two-pronged offensive is the repression of free thought.

Four years ago, US President George W. Bush called the invasion of Iraq "Operation Iraqi Freedom." The intention was clear. The purpose of the war was not merely to bring down Saddam Hussein's murderous, terror-supporting regime. It was to bring about the defeat of the vile world view that supported the regime and to replace that view with the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy. Four years on, US forces continue to their heroic fight to bring order and security to that violent land. But the purpose of their efforts is no longer clear. The US no longer pushes the Iraqis or the greater Arab world to abandon jihad in favor of freedom.

Earlier this month, columnist Joel Mowbray gave evidence of the Bush administration's abandonment of the war of ideas in a Wall Street Journal expose on the US taxpayer financed Arabic language television network Al-Hurra. The US launched Al Hurra in February 2004 to compete with jihadist television networks like Al Jazeerah. Its stated aim was to present a liberal, pro-democracy and pro-human rights voice to the Arab world. Yet, as Mowbray reported, since former CNN producer Larry Register was appointed to lead the network last November, that aim fell by the wayside.

In December the network began allowing itself used as a platform by arch terrorists like Hizbullah commander Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Last month, when the Israeli Islamic movement began attacking Israel for conducting an archaeological dig by the Al Aksa mosque, Al-Hurra's coverage of the story was more extreme than Al Jazeerah's. Palestinian Authority mufti Ikremah Sabri was brought on live and accused Israel of throwing rocks and bombs into the mosque and of denying medical care to those it had supposedly wounded. Al-Hurra has also hosted an al Qaida terrorist who rejoiced in the Sept. 11 attacks on America.

As is the case in Britain, the Bush administration's decision to largely abandon the ideological battlefield is the result of an uncompromising and unrelenting ideological and political assault against the voices that justify the war against the global jihad generally, and against the hawks in the Bush administration specifically.

Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and John Bolton -- and arguably Scooter Libby -- were all forced from their positions in the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House after coming under unrelenting attack by the Left which all but accused these men of treason for their vigilant support of the war against Islamic totalitarianism. A central component of the onslaught against them was the repeated claim that their support for Israel is what brought these men to delude America into believing that the global jihad is a threat to US national security. One of the central players in this concerted attack has been the billionaire George Soros. Soros is an anti-Zionist Jew with a troubling past. Specifically, by his own admission in interviews with 60 Minutes in 1998 and PBS in 1993, Soros collaborated with the Nazis in seizing Jewish property in Budapest in 1944.

Author Serge Trifkovic, who is currently researching a biography of Soros tells of a Holocaust survivor in Hungary who claims that the reason Soros was allowed to remain free was "the boy's special knowledge of the Jewish community and its attempts to protect its property from confiscation." Since 2003, Soros has donated more than $100 million to radical left wing groups and to the political campaigns of far-left anti-war Democratic candidates in the US. His money has made him one of the most influential forces in the Democratic Party.

After Hamas won the Palestinian election last January, Soros turned his guns against Israel. Last October he announced his intention to work with left wing American Jewish groups such as Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, American Friends of Peace Now, and the Israel Policy Forum to form an effectively anti-Israel lobbying group that will compete with the pro-Israel American-Israel Public Action Committee. Soros accuses AIPAC of making common cause with the war hawks and so harming US and Israeli national security.

This week Soros laid out his anti-Israel views in the New York Review of Books. In a longwinded screed entitled, "On Israel, American and AIPAC," Soros presents an incoherent hodge-podge of sloppy logic and contradictory statements. On the one hand, he acknowledges that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza radicalized the Palestinians and brought Hamas to power. On the other hand, he insists that further Israeli withdrawals will cause the Palestinians to moderate. While he acknowledges that Hamas is a terror group, he insists that the US must recognize it and force Israel to recognize it and that AIPAC is responsible for neither recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political force in the region.

Soros claims to want peace for Israel. Yet he demands that the US and Israel embrace the Saudi plan which calls for Israel's effective destruction through a forced Israeli withdrawal from Judea, Jerusalem, Samaria and the Golan Heights and the demographic destruction of the Jewish state through unimpeded immigration of 4-5 million foreign-born Arabs. In effect, Soros's arguments make clear that protestations aside, the advancement of human rights and peace cannot possibly be his true goals. Rather, what seems to interest him most is the erosion of the US-Israel alliance. A US abandonment of Israel is seen as a necessary component of an overall strategy for causing the US to cease its fight against the global jihad.

In her visit here in Jerusalem next week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to pressure the Olmert-Livni-Peretz government to continue diplomatic contacts with the Hamas-Fatah terror government through PA Chairman and Fatah commander Mahmoud Abbas. In light of the administration's weakening stand on Hamas, it is clear that Soros's views have taken hold in ever-widening policy circles in Washington.

In advancing their anti-Israel views, Soros and his allies, (most recently, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof), invoke the work of radical leftist Israeli organizations like the Geneva Initiative, B'tselem and Peace Now. Like Soros, these organizations claim to act for the advancement of peace and human rights. And like Soros, these organizations effectively cooperate with pro-jihadist groups in eroding Israel's ability to defend its rights as a Jewish democracy.

The public storm that ensued this week after Jews in Hebron took control of a building they recently purchased in the city was a clear example of this leftist-jihadist collusion. In demanding that the IDF move immediately to eject the Jews from the building they had bought, Peace Now and B'tzelem ignored human rights and openly advocated the abrogation of the human rights to Israeli Jews to purchase and hold property. In so doing, they lent their support to the racist jihadist view that Jews must be barred from stepping foot in so-called Arab areas.

B'tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that whether the Jews purchased the building or not was immaterial. In her words, "Our opposition in principle is that these settlements should be evacuated anyway and that there shouldn't be these pockets in Hebron." She added that "other than watching and making sure that [the sale] was done in a legal way, the IDF has the obligation to make sure that settlers don't take over more areas."

In so arguing, Michaeli gave effective Jewish Israeli support to even more outrageous statements by Arab Israeli parliamentarians. As she claimed that the IDF's job is to fight Jews, Arab MKs Ibrahim Sarsour and Muhammad Barakei participated the PA's "Jerusalem First" conference in Ramallah. Sarsour called for "Muslims and Arabs" to "liberate Jerusalem." Sarsour declared, "Just as the Muslims once liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders, so must we today believe that we can liberate Jerusalem. It is not an impossible dream."

Barakei accused Israel of trying to "empty Jerusalem of its Palestinian inhabitants." Calling Jerusalem a "national issue, not just a religious issue," he called on Palestinians to act immediately to "reclaim the city."

As for Hebron, on Tuesday MK Taleb a-Sanaa called for an international boycott of Israel in response to the Jewish purchase and takeover of the building.

The Arab MKs spoke against the backdrop of Israel's first Arab cabinet minister Raleb Majdlah's refusal to sing the national anthem and the publication of a University of Haifa poll showing that 76 percent of Arab Israelis believe that Zionism of a form of racism and that 28 percent of Arab Israelis deny the Holocaust. Needless to say, no criminal investigations into possible treason charges have been opened against the Arab politicians.

A clear line connects the Cambridge students, the Americans in Iraq, and the situation in Israel. The leftist-Islamist front is eroding the free world's sense of justice. Rather than assert our liberal, democratic values and defend our freedoms, fearing leftist condemnation, politicians and opinion shapers have permitted themselves to become shackled to ideologies that negate everything the free world stands for.



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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Homosexuality Is Not Hardwired," Concludes Head of The Human Genome Project

Francis S. Collins, one of the world's leading scientists who works at the cutting edge of DNA research, concluded that "there is an inescapable component of heritability to many human behavioral traits." However, he adds, "for virtually none of them, is heredity ever close to predictive."

In reviewing the heritability (i.e., influence of genetic factors) on personality traits, Dr. Collins referenced the research of Bochard and McGue for the estimated percentage of these traits that can be ascribed to heredity. The heritability estimates for personality traits were varied: General Cognitive Ability (50%), Extroversion (54%), Agreeableness (42%), Conscientiousness (49%), Neuroticism (48%), Openness (57%), Aggression (38%) and Traditionalism (54%).

Such estimates of heritability are based upon unbiased, careful analyses of studies conducted with identical twins. The studies lead to the conclusion that heredity is important in many of these personality traits. It is important however, to note that even in such studies with identical twins, that heritability is not to be confused as inevitability. As Dr. Collins would agree, environment can influence gene expression, and free will determines the response to whatever predispositions might be present.

Dr. Collins succinctly reviewed the research on homosexuality and offers the following: "An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20% (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations [emphasis added]." The heritability estimates for homosexuality is substantially lower than General Cognitive Ability, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, Openness, Aggression and Traditionalism!

Dr. Collins noted that environment--particularly childhood experiences--as well as the role of free will and choice affect us all in profound ways. As researchers discover increasing levels of molecular detail about inherited factors that underlie our personalities, it's critical that such data be used to illuminate the issues, not provide support to ideologues. Citing such dangers, Dr. Collins referred to the book written by activist Dean Hamer, who declared the discovery of the "God gene" (this same author also is associated with "discovering the gay gene"). Dr. Collins noted that the "evidence" in Hamer's book "grabbed headlines," but was "wildly overstated."

A reviewer in Scientific American suggested that Hamer's book on the "God gene" should have been titled, "A Gene That Accounts for Less than One Percent of the Variance Found in Scores on Psychological Questionnaires Designed to Measure a Factor Called Self-Transcendence, Which Can Signify Everything from Belonging to the Green Party to Believing in ESP, According to One Unpublished, Unreplicated Study."

Unfortunately, much of the research in areas such as homosexuality has been misrepresented; not only in the media, but also by the scientists themselves through a tendency to overestimate the quantitative contribution of their findings. Regarding the contributions of genetics to areas such as homosexuality, Dr. Collins concluded, "Yes, we have all been dealt a particular set of cards, and the cards will eventually be revealed. But how we play the hand is up to us."


Germany's Top News Anchorwoman Leads "Anti-Feminist" Revolution

Admitted to regretting her three divorces, and condemned abortion

A leading German TV-moderator and anchorwoman of the country's top newscast caused an uproar last year when she admitted to regretting her three divorces, and condemned abortion, Die-Tagespost reported. Eva Herman published her account of the fatal flaws in a career-oriented lifestyle in a bestselling book entitled "The Eva-Principle: Towards a New Femininity", released last year. Now she's published a second book, this one containing letters from women supporting her rejection of feminist self-fulfillment propaganda, reported The Spiegal news magazine.

Her sequel, Dear Eva Herman, captures the responses of women who welcomed the admission that professional success had not compensated for the loss of genuine family life. "The fact you've been criticized as being a traitor towards women shows just what sort of femi-fascism we have to live under nowadays," one woman wrote.

In The Eva-Principle, Herman tore open the issue of abortion as a violation of the woman, blaming pro-abortion laws for minimizing the trauma of abortion as nothing worse than going to the dentist. Her book was founded on a rejection of the feminist goals of emancipation, career success and self-fulfillment, replacing them instead with the "radical" goals of motherhood, home-maker and marriage-partner. "Let's just say it loud," Herman wrote. "We women have overburdened ourselves -- we allowed ourselves to be too easily seduced by career opportunities."

Herman's books are part of a new wave of anti-feminism in Germany, The Speigel reported, with growing numbers of professional women rejecting the feminist drive for career success in favor of a return to family life and motherhood. Herman encouraged women to leave professional work environments for the "colorful world of children" and discover their "destiny of nurturing the home environment."

Response to her revelatory work was extreme, with feminists in outrage over the perceived betrayal of one of their own. Others found Herman's statements a relief. With the lowest birthrate in Europe at just 1.3 children per woman, the country's reproductive crisis lends weight to the arguments of the "new feminism"-- despite a massive government-funded initiative to encourage women to have more children, Germany's birthrate has failed to improve significantly.


When government tunes in

The First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech has complex implications, but it clearly means two things: The government cannot tell you what to say, and it cannot tell you what not to say. That is your own business, and if you conduct it in a way the government dislikes, the government can take a flying leap.

Unless by "government" you mean the Federal Communications Commission. It operates on the assumption that in its special realm, the First Amendment is a nonbinding resolution. So while Potomac paper-pushers would never dream of issuing orders to newspapers, book publishers, filmmakers or bloggers, they feel complete freedom to tell TV networks and radio stations what to do. And the broadcasters see little choice but to comply.

An example of what happens when they don't comply came in a recent dispute between the agency and Univision, the giant Spanish-language network. Federal law requires TV networks to air at least three hours of educational programming aimed at children every week. Univision put on soap operas it claimed were of educational value to kids. But the FCC disagreed and fined the network $24 million for failing to carry out its government-imposed duties.

This is just part of the agency's plan to tighten its control of what you watch. Last year, it mounted a crackdown on indecency that raised the interesting philosophical question of how the F-word can morph from indecent to not indecent. The FCC, you see, says F-words are not all alike. If Tom Hanks uses the term in "Saving Private Ryan," it's OK, but if Cher uses it on an awards telecast it's not.

In all this, the agency has the support of Congress, which last year passed legislation raising the maximum fine for violations from $32,500 to $325,000. The point of this sort of enforcement is to protect children and, in the words of President Bush, "help strengthen families." But parents who want to shield their kids from bad language on TV already have ample means to do so -- via channel blocking and V-chips that can be used to filter out programs with content they regard as inappropriate. The FCC says these methods are ineffective because parents don't use them. More likely, parents don't bother because they don't think the problem is serious enough to justify the effort to shield kids from words they've already heard on YouTube. To insert the federal government is not a way to strengthen the authority of parents but to circumvent it.

You might think a Democratic Congress would be less inclined to brook federal interference with free expression, but dream on. While Republicans like to crack down on "bad" programming, Democrats like to demand "good" programming. When the Univision fine was announced, it won applause from Rep. Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. In this regulatory environment, freedom is not a factor: Anything not forbidden is compulsory.

The idea that we need the FCC to assure educational opportunities for children is nonsense on stilts. In the first place, there are plenty of channels, from PBS to the Discovery Channel, that offer nothing but educational programming. If parents don't like what Univision offers, they have plenty of alternatives. In the second place, any parents truly interested in exposing their children to intellectual stimulation are more likely to shut the TV off than turn it on.

Even if more educational programming would be a good thing, what business is that of the government? More G-rated films would be a good thing, too, but we don't force movie studios to produce them. That goes back to the First Amendment, which puts Hollywood beyond the reach of official busybodies. Movie studios make what they choose, and moviegoers decide whether they or their kids will see them: No government required.

The Supreme Court long ago sanctioned regulation of speech on radio and TV on the grounds that broadcast frequencies are scarce and not accessible to all. But with the advent of cable and satellite transmission, which is how nearly 90 percent of Americans get their TV shows, the scarcity argument collapses. The number of potential channels is now unlimited.

Today, most viewers no longer distinguish between cable and broadcast programs. So having different rules for each makes about as much sense as having different regulations for odd- and even-numbered channels. It's high time broadcasters were placed under America's original rule on how the government should regulate free expression: Don't.



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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hero fireman faces official punishment for risking his life in a rescue

This really IS the Unhinged Kingdom

A fireman is facing disciplinary action after plunging into a river to rescue a drowning woman. Tam Brown, 42, is the subject of an internal investigation by Tayside Fire and Rescue because he breached safety rules during the rescue in the River Tay in Perth. He spent eight minutes in the cold water and at one stage feared that he would be swept to his death. But after dragging the 20-year-old woman to safety he was told by his employer that he had acted improperly by risking his life.

Mr Brown, who has 15 years' experience as a fireman, was hailed as a hero by the young woman's family but Tayside Fire and Rescue said that he had broken the brigade's "standing instructions" on safety procedures.

He said yesterday: "I was expected to watch that young girl die in front of me. As a father and a caring human being, I couldn't live with myself if I'd had to do that."

The woman, who has not been identified, is believed to have jumped into the river on March 6 as "a cry for help". A member of the public called 999 and she was thrown a rope, but she was in danger of being sucked under by the current.

Many drowning victims die before the emergency services arrive. Mr Brown said: "We had seconds to act. The girl was losing consciousness. We had one harness, so I put that on and went down 20ft on a safety line, grabbed her and held her out of the water. My colleagues tried to pull us towards steps, but the current was so bad and the rope was pulled so hard it snapped. "My own life hung in the balance as I swam for the steps with her in my arms. But we got there and were pulled out. I was in the water for eight minutes and it was heart-stoppingly cold, but we saved her."

The brigade's rules state: "Personnel should not enter the water." The fire crew should instead have tried to haul the woman out using poles and ropes. Stephen Hunter, chief fire officer of Tayside Fire and Rescue, admitted that fire engines in Perth were not equipped with the correct poles and ropes, but insisted that Mr Brown had broken the rules. He said: "Firefighter safety is of paramount importance to us. Although our duties include rescues from flooding, there is no statutory obligation to carry out rescues from moving water. "We know they broke procedure because we know he went into the water. We are investigating exactly what happened, and once that is concluded we will consider what action is necessary. That could include disciplinary action."

Steve Hill, chairman of the Perth branch of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "Not one senior officer has congratulated Tam or the other officers who attended that night. They should be elated they saved a life but are traumatised that they face disiplinary action instead." He added: "Contradicting an order can lead to dismissal. If Tam hadn't gone in, the public might have tried to save her and we could have ended up with several dead."


UK Regulations Barring Religious Schools from Teaching Against Homosexuality Approved

Sexual Orientation Regulations Pass House of Lords

The UK's Sexual Orientation Regulations, that will make it illegal for Christian schools, services and businesses to operate according to their religious principles, passed its last hurdle last night in a vote in the House of Lords. A last minute attempt to defeat the legislation failed. A motion by Baroness O'Caithain that would have scrapped the Regulations on the grounds of anti-religious discrimination was voted down 168 votes to 122. The regulations will be implemented at the end of April.

During the brief debate, Baroness Detta O'Caithain said the SORs are seriously flawed and drew attention to the now notorious breaches of proper democratic procedure by the government who, she said, did not allow proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Peers were not allowed to change the wording of the law but only to vote yes or no. With the passage of the SOR's, she said, the state had decided that "a citizen's right to manifest sexual orientation is absolute, but the right to manifest religious belief is not."

Hundreds of Christians and others concerned for democratic freedom of religious expression attended a prayer rally outside the Houses of Parliament while the debate took place in the House of Lords. While they were given little time in Parliament or the Upper House, the SOR's have been the subject of months of debate in the media since the beginning of January when the Catholic Church, the Church of England, Evangelical, Muslim and Jewish groups warned they would spell the effective end of freedom of religious expression in Britain.

In early January, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, made international headlines when he said that attempting to force Catholic adoption agencies to adopt children to homosexual couples would leave the Church no choice but to close the agencies. Others said that there was more at stake than only one group or social service, but that the democratic principle of freedom of religious expression was under direct threat. Since the January decision by Prime Minister Tony Blair, a government document was released indicating that the school curriculum would be included and faith-based schools would not be allowed to teach traditional social mores "as if they were objectively true."

While Cardinal Murphy O'Connor indicated that he still held out hopes that some form of accommodation could be found in the twenty-one month "adjustment period" granted churches, others were less sanguine about the government's good will. spoke to Fr. Timothy Finigan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark and the founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life who said, "I don't think it will be productive to negotiate with the government over this. Clearly the regulations are as they are and they have shown that they are not prepared to negotiate or make concessions. The offer of the adjustment period shows that."

While the exemption requested by the Church for the adoption agencies was turned down by Tony Blair, what they got with the government's offer of a delaying period, said Fr. Finigan, "was a kind of stay of execution. But there's nothing there for them. In the meantime, they still have to refer children to be adopted to homosexual couples." Militant gay activists, he said, will almost certainly now move on to the next phase of test legal cases against smaller Christian or Muslim institutions such as schools or boarding houses. "The one thing the government doesn't want to see right now is priests and ministers in prison. That means they are going to start with schools or businesses. They've been pushing hard in education for years," Fr. Finigan said.

Since 1944, Catholic schools in Britain have been partially subsidized by the government. Lord Pilkington of Oxenford said that inasmuch as the SOR's assert that individual "human rights" trumped the rights of voluntary societies, they challenge the democratic foundation of the state. "It is absolutely wrong for a democratic state to assert that the churches and their voluntary societies cannot follow their doctrine merely because the state pays the money. In this, as I say, they break 200 years of tradition." Lord Pilkington said.


Muslim moderate seeks police protection

One of Australia's most important Muslim leaders has sought police protection after criticising controversial cleric Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali. Tom Zreika, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association - and Sheikh Hilali's employer - said he received non-stop phone threats yesterday after he released a document urging greater integration and for Muslims to "mend their ways".

The report, prepared for a national meeting of imams in Sydney this weekend, says some Muslims are "ruining it" for all and that Australians have "had enough" of Muslims. His report also recommends that imams become involved in community activities such as voluntary firefighting and surf lifesaving.

Mr Zreika said he was threatened recently after saying, "I can't tolerate this freak show", following recent remarks by Sheikh Hilali. But yesterday, after the contents of his paper were publicised, the threats, from Muslims, came non-stop. "They just say, 'Mate if you don't shut your mouth we are going to come and fix you up'," Mr Zreika said. "I know they are Muslims because they quote Muslim prayers."

In his paper, Mr Zreika, a barrister, says the vast majority of non-Muslims understood and empathised with Islamic issues in Australia, but a small group of Muslims were inciting anti-Islamic feelings. "Only when we mend our ways and we respect our fellow country people can we demand tolerance and forbearance." Among Mr Zreika's suggestions for the new board of imams, which will be responsible for accrediting prospective clerics, are that imams should be citizens or permanent residents and not have been members of suspicious groups. He says they must do everything possible to prevent radicalism or fanaticism.



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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Why are SUVs so incorrect?

Comment from Britain

How did the 4x4 - that big-wheeled, boxy jeep beloved of `Chelsea mums' and footballers - become public enemy no.1 in the environmentalism debate? Listening to anti-4x4 campaigners, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this one breed of car is responsible for destroying the planet. It is widely expected that UK Chancellor Gordon Brown will announce in his Budget tomorrow that Vehicle Excise Duty for the 225,000 least fuel-efficient cars bought in Britain since last April - which includes most 4x4s and also sports cars - will be doubled, rising from 210 to 400 pounds a year. This falls short of what green anti-4x4 campaigners are demanding; they want road tax to be raised to somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds for `the worst offending cars', especially 4x4s, which are described as `vile', `vulgar', and damaging both to the environment and to social cohesion.

The 4x4 has become the bˆte noire of the chattering classes. Pop into any dinner-party gathering in the leafiest of Britain's leafy suburbs and you are guaranteed to hear someone bemoaning these big vehicles as they pass around the pesto. There is more to this anti-4x4 fever than a desire to protect the environment or pedestrians from exhaust fumes. Rather it seems to be underpinned by a snobbery against the `wrong' kind of consumption, especially the kind indulged by apparently unsophisticated noveau riche types who garishly like to flaunt their wealth with their mock-Tudor homes, big hair and big cars.

When you think about it, the obsessive focus on 4x4s in the debate about cars and pollution is pretty crazy. These jeeps make up a tiny minority of the cars in action across Britain. There are an estimated 30million regularly-used vehicles in the UK, and those labelled the `least fuel-efficient' - which include sports cars and other vehicles as well as the hated 4x4 - number only 225,000. Putting motorists off buying 4x4s by making them more expensive to run will do Sweet FA to reduce the level of pollution caused by car use.

The level of CO2 coughed up by a 4x4 is not that much greater than various other modern machines. Campaigners say that 4x4s emit more CO2 than most other cars - that may be true, but they emit less CO2 than some of the things we use in the home day in and day out. According to research published in 2005, one cycle of a kitchen dishwasher releases around 756g of CO2, more than double that produced by a short spin in a Range Rover Turbo Diesel, which releases 299g per kilometre. Using a petrol lawnmower for an hour releases more than 1,000g of CO2. Why are there no campaigns against `evil' dishwashers, or demands that Gordon Brown slap big fat taxes on lawnmowers?

There is also little hard evidence that, when involved in collisions, 4x4s are more dangerous for motorists and pedestrians than other cars. Of course, none of us would like to be on the receiving end of a speeding 4x4 - but nor would we want to be hit by a big red bus, a delivery truck, a black taxi or even a Mini for that matter. According to Chris Patience, head of technical policy at the Automobile Association (AA): `There is no shared characteristic of 4x4s that make them any more or less aggressive towards pedestrians compared to a "normal" car.' Patience even claims that 4x4s might be less harmful to pedestrians when there is a collision. `Typically, pedestrians hit by cars wrap around the front of the car and their head hits the bonnet', he says, and because 4x4s tend to have more space between the bonnet and the engine beneath it, they create something of a `crumple-zone for the head'.

It is not really what these cars do that winds up campaigners, but rather what they represent. They're big brash symbols of conspicuous consumption. And at a time when we're encouraged to be meek and to constantly consider what impact our behaviour might be having on the environment, buying a 4x4 and showing it off to the other mums at the schoolgates or your mates at the football ground is the contemporary equivalent of a mortal sin.

It isn't so much the car that the campaigners can't stand (after all, they like big red carbon-producing buses) but rather the people who tend to drive them - whether it's uppity working-class-done-good people, or country folk who talk in posh tones and probably watch Top Gear. You can tell this is about more than pollution and pedestrians if you listen to the language used to describe 4x4 drivers. They're talked about in the most vituperative terms, not only as polluters but as Bad People. The website of the UK campaign group the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s describes itself as a collection of `concerned citizens' and 4x4s as `The Bad Guys'. It says its aim is to make driving a 4x4 as `socially unacceptable as drink-driving'.

London mayor Ken Livingstone says mums who drop their kids at school in 4x4s are `complete idiots'. A left-leaning British think-tank, the New Economics Foundation, describes 4x4s as `Satan's little run-arounds'. In the US, a website called What Would Jesus Drive? (not a 4x4, apparently) says pollution from 4x4s `has a major impact on human health and the rest of God's creation'. So 4x4 drivers are not only dangerous and greedy and anti-social - they're ungodly, too.

These are clearly moral judgements masquerading as concern for the environment. Look into the trunk of the anti-4x4 campaign and you will find generous doses of snobbery, mean-spiritedness and neo-luddism.


Immigrants being blamed for the negativity spawned by the British Left

Can immigrants be blamed for lack of loyalty to a country that seems to have lost faith in itself?

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown's recent initiative to ensure that immigrants feel a proper sense of loyalty to Britain has been criticised for being either too little too late or just plain daft. Brown said last month that immigrants should do some `community work' before being granted British citizenship. For Brown, citizenship should be a `kind of contract' with `rights and responsibilities'. This follows on from other proposals suggesting that immigrants should be `encouraged' to learn English and should take tests to demonstrate that they know what Britain is all about and that they wish to be part of it.

Enforced community service is unlikely to engender a sense of belonging. But then, what really seems to be behind the latest demands for immigrants to buy into Britishness is a lack of any positive, coherent sense of what it is to be British amongst the British elite itself. This weakened sense of Britishness has nothing intrinsically to do with immigrants. And yet, more and more, a situation that is the result of various complex historical and political factors is being represented as a problem to do with immigration. This is itself a problem for the rest of us, as it means attention is misplaced upon immigrants and energy is misdirected towards helping immigrants to fit into something that isn't really there.

Take education. It is argued by some that there has been a `downward drag' in standards due to there being too many immigrant children in the classroom. My guess is that pupils today are more disadvantaged by an educational establishment which is not able, or willing, to assert the need for teaching English language and literature to take precedence over the need to be `multicultural' than they are by the presence of pupils who do not speak English very well.

Some believe that a big problem in the health service today is that patients don't understand their doctors, and apparently have to strain to make sense of what the man or woman with the strange accent is saying. What about all the other major problems with the health service, from a lack of resources to the transformation of the NHS into a behaviour-policing outfit? Time and time again, problems that are the result of the actions and policies of the British authorities are being ascribed to immigrants `failing to fit in'. Few ask what exactly there is for them to fit into.

Most Indian immigrants of my parents' generation felt positively hostile to certain British institutions. For example, many were distrustful of the British Army and supported the Quit India Movement, the civil disobedience movement launched in India in 1942 in response to Mahatma Gandhi's call for the immediate independence of India from Britain. Yet simultaneously they felt an affinity with British society and culture. This meant they wanted to make a break with their country of birth in order to be part of a society perceived as going forwards.

Financial gain was not uppermost in their minds. Individual freedom, meritocracy and social mobility were high on the list of attractions. Even when they arrived in the UK and realised that these things were not available to all on an equal basis, their belief in, and desire to be part of, British life remained. They believed that by working through institutions and popular organisations such as trade unions and political parties, many people - themselves included - could improve their lot.

The dynamic engendered by British society at that time was strong enough to inspire people all over the world. Today what immigrants once sought to do spontaneously (learn the language and culture) has to be imposed by government - not primarily because immigrants have changed, but because British society represents less of what they want to sign up to.

Rather than address more difficult issues - that Britain today is less than inspirational on the world stage, is less of a meritocracy, more socially stratified and a place where individuals are more closely monitored in virtually all aspects of our lives - politicians and pundits tear their hair out wondering why on earth immigrants don't appear to want to be part of and to celebrate British culture.

Maybe they do. Maybe they don't. I can see no reason why it should matter to anyone. Many people live outside their countries of birth; they work and socialise without conflict. Yet they do not feel that they necessarily belong to, or have to belong to, the country they have chosen to live in. People may feel contradictory affiliations; and something as subjective as a sense of belonging frequently waxes and wanes over time. A more confident, forward-looking society would be more relaxed about these facts.

Whatever measures or cod `solutions' the British political caste comes up with, people's subjective sense of belonging cannot be created by diktat. One of the few positive virtues of British society that politicians often cite is its tolerance. It is ironic, then, that the present government is so intolerant of people who do not conform to its increasingly long list of absurd criteria of what makes for a `good British citizen'.

Still, as long as the focus remains on what immigrants do or don't do to prove their loyalty, the heat is off looking at ourselves, and identifying what the real problems are and what some real solutions might be.


Australia's humane British founders

Leftist historians give the impression that Australia's founders were genocidal military dictators. But many of Australia's early colonial leaders were human rights activists ahead of their time, as Keith Windschuttle documents below. Australia's first governor, Capt. Phillip was anti-slavery before Wilberforce! Following the documentation below is a summary of what the Leftists say -- and a rebuttal of it

According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the 200th anniversary of his country's abolition of the slave trade tomorrow offers the chance to say how profoundly shameful slavery was. Equally, however, it provides the occasion to commemorate those who abolished the trade. In 1807, the British were the first people in the world to do so. This was one of the great feats in the history of human freedom and its originators and their motives deserve to be understood and celebrated today.

Moreover, there was a strong connection between the British colonisation of Australia and those who campaigned against slavery. Today, our contemporary historians avoid this topic. Hence, few Australians are aware of how powerful the abolitionist sentiment was in colonial Australia or how strongly English abolitionists influenced the political and moral foundations of this country.

Soon after British secretary for home affairs, Lord Sydney, appointed him the first governor of NSW in September 1786, Arthur Phillip drew up a detailed memorandum of his plans for the proposed new colony. In one paragraph he wrote: "The laws of this country (England) will of course be introduced in New South Wales, and there is one that I would wish to take place from the moment his majesty's forces take possession of the country: that there can be no slavery in a free land, and consequently no slaves."

In all of Australia's founding documents this statement stands out starkly. There are no other appeals to great principles, no declaration of independence, no constitutional preamble full of nation-building sentiment. Instead, we were founded by bureaucratic correspondence from the British Home Office to the Admiralty, the Navy Board and the Treasury, by other letters, commissions of appointment and warrants for transportation, and by one act of the British parliament concerned mostly with "the transportation of felons and other offenders". Hence Phillip's paragraph above, especially his unequivocal and spare avowal, "there can be no slavery in a free land", is probably the best founding proclamation we have.

It was a remarkable declaration to make at the time. For a start, it demonstrated that its governor and those who appointed him had more ambitious plans for the new colony than they made public. "A free land" meant much more than a dumping ground for convicts. Phillip clearly expected NSW eventually to be composed largely of free settlers. Moreover, Phillip's objection to slavery was noticeably ahead of his time. At this distance, it may seem part of the stock opinion of the day, just one more expression of the abolitionist movement that persuaded the British parliament to outlaw the transportation of slaves on the high seas. But there was more to it than that. As Phillip said, the laws of England did not permit slavery. The ownership and sale of human beings had been illegal in England since the early Middle Ages, but by the 1700s the growth of the slave trade to the Americas saw thousands of black slaves employed as servants in London, Edinburgh and other urban centres. In the celebrated James Somerset case of 1772, Lord Mansfield found that English law did not permit slavery and that black servants were free to go as they pleased.

Nonetheless slavery still thrived across the British Empire. The merchant fleet of Liverpool dominated the transport of slaves from Africa to the Americas; the sugar plantations of Britain's Caribbean colonies were dependent on slave labour; and slavery was widespread in the Muslim realms of British India. Moreover, Britain's former colonies in North America had just formed an independent union based on an appeal to freedom and equality, yet still they housed almost 700,000 slaves.

Phillip wrote his memorandum before the abolitionist movement gained public momentum. At the time, to take a stand for this moral cause put him decidedly on the progressive side of politics. The abolitionists' parliamentary leader, William Wilberforce, decided to take up the issue only in May 1787, eight months after Phillip declared his own attitude. The abolitionist evangelicals in the Church of England and their Quaker supporters were then a marginal group of activists. Their spokesman, Thomas Clarkson, had not yet begun the speaking tours of British cities that were to make abolition a popular cause. By 1791, when Wilberforce introduced his first bill to abolish the slave trade, the movement had made progress but parliament still rejected it decisively by 163 votes to 88.

Although the evangelicals were the main force behind the abolitionist movement and Wilberforce its best-known politician, Phillip had not been greatly influenced by them. Indeed, he was not an especially religious man. His 1786 memorandum discussed his proposed colony's housing, health care, clothing, relations with the Aborigines, rewards and punishments for convicts, land grants, shipping regulations, exploration and trade. Conspicuously, he mentioned neither religion nor the church. In practice, he seemed to regard religion primarily as a utilitarian device for maintaining social order and good behaviour.

Instead, he took a more secular political position that saw slavery as an offence against the tradition of "the freeborn Englishman" that defined his country. This was a political and a folk tradition that extended back at least to the English Civil War but probably much further. It meant that no one in England could be born into slavery, bondage or vassalage. All were born with inalienable rights to freedom.

Phillip was also the inheritor of the British naval tradition that looked down on Europe's original imperial powers, Spain and Portugal. Since the Spanish Armada, English Protestant sailors had been nourished on a diet of anti-Spanish stories designed to show that the adherents of the Catholic Church were capable of any cruelty. Tales of the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition and the brutal treatment of African slaves and the indigenous people of the Americas entrenched the sentiment.

A further influence on Phillip was the humanitarian movement that emerged within the British Enlightenment in the late 1700s. This movement, which had support from early British anthropologists and the Anglican Church, emphasised the unity of humankind. All human beings, whatever their skin colour, were members of the one species and were thus equal, both at law and before God. This sentiment led several Scottish intellectuals to openly condemn slavery, especially Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), plus George Wallace and Adam Ferguson. In England, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-69) made a firm break with Roman law on the subject.

In April 1787, Phillip made another memorable statement that applied this egalitarian sentiment to the Aborigines of NSW: "Any Man who takes the life of a Native will be put on his Trial the same as if he had kill'd one of the Garrison. This appears to me not only just but good policy."

Since his early 20s, Phillip had found slavery repugnant. As a junior naval officer on a tour of duty to the Caribbean in 1760-62 he saw the Spanish and British slave plantations on Jamaica, the Leeward Islands and Cuba. "By the time he left the lavish islands," writes his biographer Alan Frost, "Phillip has come to see that behind their gleaming skin lurked a gruesome skull." The evil commerce and the lot of the slaves, Frost records, made an abiding impression on the young naval officer. Phillip spent the years 1775-78 in Brazil as a captain in the Portuguese navy. During a lull in duties at sea, he made an investigation of the king of Portugal's Brazilian diamond mines. He discovered much about Brazil's "Forbidden District", where 5000 African slaves mined diamonds under the constant gaze of their individual overseers. This experience confirmed his aversion to slavery.

Phillip's successors as governors of NSW, John Hunter, Philip Gidley King and William Bligh, were all naval men who shared similar ideas and experiences. All had served in the West Indies or North America and subscribed to the same naval values and humanitarian spirit. They had directly encountered or heard tales of the slave trade to the Americas much like that experienced by Lachlan Macquarie in August 1809 while en route to NSW. Off the Brazilian coast, Macquarie's ship accosted a Portuguese slaver bound for Rio de Janeiro carrying 540 African females. Disease had broken out and, to prevent the infection from spreading, the captain had thrown 50 live women overboard. Elizabeth Macquarie was shocked. Her husband's biographer, John Ritchie, records: "Elizabeth's humanity shuddered at this monstrousness and caused her to think of the abolitionist William Wilberforce."

As well as the Enlightenment tradition of the naval officers, the Australian colony harboured a vigorous evangelical movement. Evangelicalism was a reform movement that arose within the Church of England in the late 18th century. It aimed to apply the principles of the Gospels to social life. Its main causes were penal reform, the abolition of slavery and missions to the native people of the empire. The founding of NSW as a convict society in the Pacific, where the Australian and Pacific Island tribes seemed ripe for conversion, was tailor-made for the movement. Although Wilberforce's main project was the abolition of slavery, he was also concerned with improving the living conditions of convicts, Aborigines and Pacific Islanders. From the outset, he took a close interest in NSW, soliciting reports from his evangelical followers in the colony and acting as patron of their appointments. He successfully nominated the colony's first two chaplains, Richard Johnson and Samuel Marsden.

He thought the key to good colonial order was religious observance. In 1792 he wrote to home secretary Lord Dundas saying he had information from NSW that among "the higher, as well as the lower ranks, a degree of open profligacy and vice is allowed if not encouraged there". He urged Dundas "to introduce and keep alive amongst the bulk of the people such a sense of religion as will make them temperate and orderly, and domestic and contented".

Until 1796, Lachlan Macquarie had unquestioningly accepted slavery. He was then a captain in the British army in India. At the time, India had a population of eight million slaves and the institution had existed since time immemorial. Indeed, in 1794, when he joined his regiment in Calicut, Macquarie purchased two slave boys from the market in Cochin. His first wife, Jane, was the daughter of the chief justice of Antigua in the West Indies and she owned a small number of slaves there. Jane died of consumption in 1796 and in her will she set her slaves free. Her husband followed her example and emancipated his Indian slaves, enrolling them in a parish school at Bombay to learn to read and write.

Later, as military secretary to the governor of Bombay, Jonathan Duncan, and as a friend of wealthy merchant Charles Forbes - two Englishmen who endorsed the emerging humanitarian sentiment of the time - Macquarie became a critic of slavery. He returned to England in 1807, the year of the abolitionists' victory, and caught the enthusiasm for their cause. That year he married his second wife, Elizabeth, and came under the influence of her religious outlook, especially her belief that all human creatures were equal in the eyes of God.

These views changed the course of Australian colonial history. Determined to avoid any comparison between convict transportation and slavery, Macquarie radically reformed the punitive regime for convicts, turning it into a program for their regeneration. He moderated corporal punishment, reduced life sentences to 15 years and reprieved numerous convicts sentenced to death. Where Bligh had granted two pardons during his 18-month term as governor, between 1810 and 1820 Macquarie gave 366 absolute pardons, 1365 conditional pardons and 2319 tickets-of-leave (certificates of exemption from compulsory labour). He granted land to emancipists (pardoned convicts) and expirees, and even invited some to dine with him. He appointed former convicts as magistrates, as assistant surgeon, acting surveyor, civil architect and poet laureate. To celebrate St Patrick's Day in 1810, Elizabeth Macquarie invited to dinner 58 convicts and their overseers.

Although Lachlan Macquarie's generosity and clemency sowed seeds of dissension among the free settlers that eventually brought him down, he demonstrated that a penal regime of this kind worked. Most successive governors kept his policies largely intact. The long-term result was that probably more than half of the 160,000 convicts transported in 80 years were transformed from the criminal subcultures of their youth into useful citizens: farmers, tradesmen, soldiers and, in a small but notable number of cases, successful professional and business men and women. Transportation to Australia became history's most successful large-scale experiment in penal reform.

Macquarie translated Wilberforce's agenda into policy towards the Aborigines. He established the Native Institution for Aboriginal children; he settled Aboriginal adults on a farm at George's Head and gave them seed and tools; he built huts for others at Elizabeth Bay and gave them a boat, fishing tackle, salt and casks; in 1814 he inaugurated an annual gathering and feast for all the Aborigines of the Sydney region.

Left-wing historians today record with some satisfaction that all his Aboriginal policies eventually failed. They still demonstrated Macquarie's intention towards the Aborigines, which was to give them the gift of British civilisation. He regarded them as his equals and thought that with only a little assistance they could make the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture.

In the 1820s, two other Australian colonial governors, Ralph Darling and George Arthur, owed their positions partly to the reputations they gained for actions against the slave trade. Other prominent Australian colonists who had dealings with Wilberforce in London or who gained positions here on his recommendation included navigator Matthew Flinders, lieutenant-governor Charles La Trobe, judge Barron Field; merchant and philanthropist Robert Campbell, banker and newspaper editor Edward Hall Smith, author Nicholas Liddiard, pastoralist John Leake and Anglican clergyman Thomas Hassall.


Leftist historians hide Australia's humane past

The idea that slavery was an affront to humanity that had no place in a free land was part of the original definition of what it meant to be an Australian. Unfortunately, in today's academic climate in which the Left dominates history and the prevailing mind-set is to disparage our origins, very few academic historians discuss these issues. Anyone looking to the Oxford Companion to Australian History for insight will find its editors, Graeme Davison, John Hirst and Stuart Macintyre, did not think the abolitionists worthy of an entry or even a mention in the subject index.

Moreover, although NSW founder Arthur Phillip's original anti-slavery declaration was once well known to earlier generations of students, historians today rarely mention it. Even when they do, their intention is usually to qualify it heavily. For instance, in The Europeans in Australia (1997), Alan Atkinson calls Phillip's statement "almost gratuitous", then tries to make him look the odd man out in the colony by saying that once he returned to England, the officers of the marines hoped the Aborigines "might be harnessed to a form of slavery on the current American model".

This claim is hardly credible. The sole evidence for it is half a sentence written in 1795 in the diary of the alcoholic, dissolute magistrate Richard Atkins, a long-time adversary of the officers, who did not name those concerned. Moreover, Atkinson neglects to inform his readers that the other half of Atkins's sentence mocks the very notion. The full sentence Atkins wrote was: "They seem to adopt the Idea that the Natives can be made Slaves of, than which nothing can be more false, they are free as air and Govr. Phillip's conduct was highly approved of for reprobating that idea."

Worse still, students of Australian history taught by the present generation of university lecturers are swamped by allegations that colonial officials were guilty of genocide against the Aborigines. According to Ann Curthoys and John Docker of Australian National University, joint editors of the 2001 edition of the academic journal Aboriginal History, Britain was the most "overtly genocidal" of the European colonial powers and its colonisation of Australia produced a genocide comparable to that of Nazi Germany. Most other authors in that journal agreed with them.

Since genocide is a crime of government and a crime of intent, this accusation is disturbing. If true, it means that all those Australian colonial officials who supported the abolition movement, who were proteges of William Wilberforce and who publicly declared that all human beings were equal before the law, must have been liars and hypocrites. Moreover, their words must have been the opposite of their deeds not just once but consistently across several decades and throughout many colonial administrations. In other words, the accusation is implausible on these grounds alone and is evidence not of the intentions of our founders but of how something has gone seriously wrong with the historical interpretation that prevails in this field.

Today, on the rare occasions it is discussed in Australian history books, the abolitionist movement that triumphed in 1807 usually figures only as an introduction to the campaign in the late 1830s to end convict transportation. Those colonists and their English supporters who were opposed to transportation often compared it with slavery. It is true that Britain's Molesworth Committee of 1838, whose report effectively ended transportation to NSW two years later, did use the comparison with slavery to capitalise on abolitionist sentiment in the wake of the 1833 act outlawing the ownership of slaves in the British Empire.

This makes recent historians think they are licensed to repeat the charge as if it were true. In her volume of the Oxford History of Australia (1992), Jan Kociumbas calls the convict regime variously "slavery" (her scare quotes), semi-slavery and a system of slave labour. This analogy is false since convicts could not be bought or sold in Australia and most were sentenced to fixed terms, after which they were free to remain here or return home. And unlike slaves, their children were always born free. Hence, it is historically inaccurate to use the term today to describe what the convict system was really like.

However, in an era when readers of Australian history are so readily seduced by the pseudo-scholarship of books such as Robert Hughes's bestseller The Fatal Shore, which portrays the convict era as Britain's equivalent of Joseph Stalin's gulag archipelago, bad news is obviously what sells. That Australia's founders were so closely connected to, and so strongly motivated by, one of history's great movements for human liberation is, for some perverse reason, something we now prefer not to know.



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.

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