Britain's voluntary apartheid
The Daily Telegraph recently published an article indicating Islamic extremists have created "no go" areas across Great Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. The Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, bishop of Rochester and the Church of England"s only Asian bishop, said people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.
Clearly at stake is the very future of Christianity as the nation"s public religion. With multiculturalism gaining ground as a philosophical position, Islam rides on its coattails. Since all faiths are to be treated equally according to this multicultural faith, it isn't possible to challenge publicly the call to prayer or the reliance on Shariah to adjudicate legal claims.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, who has said England is "sleepwalking into segregation," has been criticized for what some consider incendiary language. However, multiculturalism clearly has led to deep and irrepressible social divisions, what one politician called "voluntary apartheid."
It would appear the divisions can be attributed to the government's failure to integrate immigrants into the larger community. But it is also related to a diminished belief in the Church of England and Christianity in general. Most in Britain believe the church will be disestablished within a generation, severing a bond between church and state that dates to the Reformation.
Of course, there are those who contend the critique of multiculturalism is little more than a manifestation of intolerance. Yet it is the intolerance in the Muslim communities that produced this blow-back.
The Rev. Nicholas Reade, bishop of Blackburn, which has a large Muslim community, maintains it is increasingly difficult for Christians to observe their faith in communities where they are a minority. He too believes the government will be pressured into disestablishing the Church of England.
There is little doubt that Britain is undergoing dramatic change. In a mere few decades this nation with an acknowledged Christian foundation is now routinely described as a multifaith society. Clearly the large number of immigrants entering the British Isles account in large part for the shift in attitude. Yet that isn't the whole story.
The loss of confidence in the Christian vision, which underlies most of the achievements and principles of the culture, may account for a reluctance to defend the nation's heritage.
If minorities are permitted to live in their own insulated communities, communicating in their own languages and having minimal need to build relationships with the majority, the nation will sink into balkanization. Moreover, this separation feeds and endorses Islamic extremism by alienating youngsters from the nation and creating the impression ideological devotion is a mark of acceptability.
Some Muslims and Christians, of course, recognize the problem and are eager to do something about it. But can Shariah relate to British civil law? Can Shariah-compliant banking be accommodated in a free-market system? Can Christianity be maintained as the nation's public faith? Can universities transmit a sense of Britannia when multiculturalism is in the ascendancy?
These are merely several of the host of questions and issues that must be addressed by government and religious leaders. Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers and much more confusion on the part of the British public than clarity about the road ahead.
Britain urged to love a man in uniform again
THE government is to sweep away curbs on servicemen and women wearing uniforms off duty in public as part of a drive to boost popular support for the armed services. A report commissioned by Gordon Brown to honour those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq will say all service personnel should be encouraged to wear their uniforms on leave. The curbs were introduced almost 30 years ago during the IRA's bombing campaign on mainland Britain when military personnel were warned not to wear uniforms off duty.
Defence chiefs believe the advantages gained from wearing uniforms and encouraging the public to fall back in love with the armed forces will outweigh any danger from home-grown terrorists. Brown's review will also call for more parades for soldiers returning from the front line and more open days at airfields and naval and army bases. It is seeking to emulate America with cheap flights for troops and free or discounted admission to theme parks and sports grounds such as Wembley, Twickenham and Lord's.
Brown ordered the study after concern that servicemen and women returning from war zones were being ignored or even insulted by some members of the public. According to Downing Street, he wants to "encourage greater understanding and appreciation of the armed services by the British public". It has been headed by Quentin Davies, the former Tory MP who defected to Labour. Last week he toured Canada and the United States to see how well regarded servicemen and women are there in comparison to Britain. "There have been some ghastly incidents, including the insulting of British soldiers in Birmingham, and a woman who insulted crippled soldiers in a swimming baths," said Davies. "People have said they do not get the welcome of their American allies when they go home."
Davies, whose father served in the RAF in the second world war, added: "There should be more exposure to the military. We are not going to recommend people are ordered to wear uniforms on leave. It is a question of encouragement by example." The review also wants Whitehall staff to wear uniforms on days other than Remembrance Sunday, as well as more school visits and involvement from the military. Of 6,400 secondary schools in the UK, fewer than 300 have combined cadet forces.
The review team has already written to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic asking for special deals for service personnel. BA said it had no plans to do so, while Virgin said it already ran a discount scheme for the military. In America Anheuser-Busch, the brewing firm, has given more than 4m free passes to theme parks such as Sea World and Busch Gardens to members of the coalition forces since 2005. British service personnel on visits to the US have benefited from discounts in hotels and restaurants by showing their military ID cards.
Problems with non-traditional family arrangements
Comment from Australia
To the disgust of some, medical technology is not quite up to making men redundant in the baby-making business. Despite the promise of burgeoning new reproductive opportunities, increasing numbers of women who want to go it alone are finding sperm does not come without strings. A case in point was the SBS documentary 2 Mums And A Dad, which aired last week, depicting the fraught attempts by two Melbourne lesbians, Kellie and Fiona, and clucky gay sperm donor, Darren, to become a parent threesome.
Before Fiona goes into her bedroom to impregnate herself with a syringe full of Darren's bodily fluids, the trio draw up a non-binding parenting contract stating that the women are the permanent carers but that Darren has limited visiting rights, which increase with the baby's age.
The women clearly don't know Darren, 39, very well. He becomes resentful of perceived slights during the pregnancy and his behaviour goes from fawning to passive-aggressive. His desperation to be a father is almost unnerving. "Look at this bundle of joy I've got for the rest of my life," he crows to his mother in England via computer video-link, the day his son Marley is born.
Not long into the pregnancy the women realise they have a big problem with Darren, a work colleague with whom they have not socialised and have little in common. The more they see of him, the more controlling and needy he becomes. One excruciating scene has Darren reading the silent women a laundry list of petty grievances, when suddenly he dashes to heavily pregnant Fiona and proprietorally lays his head on her swollen belly. The look of disgust on her face as she endures his intrusion is sad.
It is one of the conundrums of the turkey-baster approach - a woman will have the most profound lifelong intimacy with the man whose genes are mingled with hers in their child, and yet she will never have been physically intimate with him, and may even find his very touch repulsive.
A few weeks after Marley is born, Darren arrives for his scheduled block of father time and the look of trepidation on Fiona's face as he takes the baby away is understandable. But Marley is as much his baby as hers. The women have been clear from the start: they are the family unit, "mum and mum", and Darren is a marginal extra. In other words, it's all about them. But they don't seem to have thought about how Darren might feel about his incidental role. And how will the boy feel, later, when he comprehends his father's lowly standing within his family?
At one point Darren threatens to go to the Family Court when the women renege on the parenting deal, but a sensible lawyer advises him to work out the issues privately. It's not the law that's the problem. It's people and their messy relationships.
It's at least to the women's credit that they wanted the baby's father involved in his life at all rather than selecting an anonymous sperm donor. To Darren's credit, he wants more than the crumbs of fatherhood. Let's hope they work it out.
Others are not so lucky in the minefield we create as we redefine the concept of family. Advances in medical technology have outstripped society's ethical and legal ability to deal with reproductive choices available to people who previously would never have been parents. We now have a market in babies as the fashion accessory du jour. A new American book, Knock Yourself Up: No Man? No Problem! is the most celebratory of a new genre of how-to books for lesbians and single women wanting to have a baby without the messiness of a man.
In interviews with this "new breed of single mums", author Louise Sloan exposes a deep well of selfishness from women who aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary in marriage and disregard their child's right to know his father. "There's a reason I'm single," single mother Eva tells Sloan. "Relationships involve a lot of compromise and I want to keep my voice." How then will she cope with motherhood, which requires boundless selflessness?
Spanish Socialists Attack Catholic Church in Wake of Pro-Family Demonstration
In the wake of a massive pro-marriage and pro-family demonstration that included between one and two million participants, Spanish socialists are lashing out at the Catholic Church, accusing it of hypocrisy and of attempting to intervene in the political process.
Speakers at the rally, which took place on December 30, rarely made mention of government or politics. However, the message of the rally was clear, the natural, two-parent family, consisting of a husband and wife, is the foundation of society. The Socialist Worker's Party, which currently controls the presidency and the parliament, passed a law in 2005 allowing homosexuals to "marry" each other. With barely three months remaining before the national elections, they are worried about the effect the demonstration could have on an already tight race.
According to Vatican radio, the government at first asked the Catholic bishops to "apologize" for the rally. Now the Catholic News Agency is reporting that Jose Blanco, Secretary of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party (PSOE) that currently occupies the presidency, denounced the Pope and hierarchy, asking them "to explain to me just exactly what is the Christian family, maybe by traditional family he means that the woman just stays at home and does housework." Blanco also claimed that some members of the Church hierarchy needed to "re-read the gospel", accusing them of promoting conditions of "inequality and injustice in the morning, and resolve them by praying the rosary in the afternoon." Blanco encouraged the hierarchy to "evolve".
Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has also complained, asserting that the bishops never criticized the anti-family policies of the Populist Party, the "right wing" alternative to the socialists, who lost power in 2004. However, as the Spanish website ForumLibertas points out, the Catholic bishops repeatedly criticized the Popular Party for failing to defend family values during their eight-year tenure.
ForumLibertas documents the fact that Catholic bishops repeatedly criticized the approval of the abortifacient "morning after pill" RU-486, which was approved under Popular Party leadership in 1998, and decried the "tragic consequence" of the government's liberal abortion laws, which were not altered under Popular Party leadership.
The Spanish ambassador to the Vatican, Francisco Vazquez, also chimed in against the Catholic Church. Speaking of himself in the third person, he said that "many Spaniards, among them the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, in his role as ambassador, as a politician, as a member of the Socialist Party, but, most of all in his condition of Christian and Spanish citizen," had the impression that the bishops' demonstration had ended up being "practically a political rally". In response, the Spanish activist group Hazte Oir! is calling for the dismissal of Vazquez and is maintaining an on line petition for that purpose
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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