Friday, June 13, 2008

Mixed Martial Arts: The latest candidate for do-gooder bans

If John McCain becomes president, will he leave me alone? You might think so. After all, he's got Grover Norquist in his corner, and Norquist wrote "Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives." The book makes a good case for "Americans who simply wish to be left alone by the government. They are not asking the government for others' money, time, or attention. Rather, they want to be free to own a gun, homeschool their children, pray, invest their money, and control their own destiny."

What if people want to fight each other? I ask because mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions are booming. "Mixed" martial arts is ... what it sounds like. Athletes combine boxing, wrestling, judo, karate, etc. to knock someone out or get them to submit. MMA fascinates people -- frankly, mostly male people who, like me, wondered about things like whether karate is more effective than judo. MMA answers such questions.

The big promoter of the sport, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, popularized MMA by setting rules (no eye gouging or finger twisting) and doing TV promotions with interesting fighters. People want to watch. A million viewers recently tuned in to a $39.95 pay-per-view event. Last week, one of their events hit network TV for the first time. So now kids want to do it. And some parents think that's just fine.

But some politicians say this is terrible. Sen. John McCain -- yes, that John McCain -- once called the adult version of MMA "human cockfighting." He wrote letters to the governor of every state asking them to ban it. At McCain's urging, pay-per-view events were dropped by major cable companies TCI and Time Warner. Now it is back on TV, and some states have removed bans after seeing the lost business opportunities. We called McCain's office to see if he's changed his opinion, but no one called back.

Mayor Robert Correia of Fall River, Mass., was horrified to learn that there was an MMA academy in his town, not far from his office. It teaches ultimate fighting to kids as young as 5. "That's irresponsible," the mayor told me, "To allow this to be taught to our children and for adults to stand by and cheer this on?" Correia wants MMA banned in his town and the gym shut down. It teaches kids the wrong things, he says. "It's telling them, look, the best thing to do is hurt someone."

"Nonsense," said moms at the gym. They told me the mayor was clueless and that MMA is little different from karate or judo classes. The mayor replied that some parents just don't know what's good for their kids. He'd heard that MMA is unsafe. It's not surprising that he'd heard that, since predictably, the media hypes every danger. "Good Morning America" aired a clip of pediatrician Lisa Thornton saying, "it is dangerous from a physical standpoint. It can lead to significant injuries to the neck and to the bones."

MMA could injure, of course, but a study from Johns Hopkins found that "the injury rate in MMA competitions is compatible with other combat sports," and, in fact, "the lower knockout rates compared to boxing may help prevent brain injury."

No sport is injury free. Over six years, 77 kids died after being hit in the chest with baseballs. Every year hundreds die riding bikes. No one has yet gathered comparative statistics on the risk of MMA, but even cheerleading sends 25,000 kids to hospital emergency rooms. When I said that to Mayor Correia, he replied, "That logic would say, Well, let's now add another 25,000 in mixed martial arts. That's OK?" Parents aren't responsible enough? The politicians need to make these decisions for them?

He replied, "Parents do have a chance to decide that through their elected officers. That's what a democracy is all about." Really? I had no idea democracy was about voting on who gets to tell you how to raise your kids. Give me a break!


Batty Britain again: Breastfeeding is a danger to health and safety!

Anybody in any position of authority in England just loves dictating to people

A mother was told she should not use a doctor's surgery to breast-feed her baby because she wasn't a patient there. Terri-Ann Barnes, 23, went into the practice with her three-month-old son Christian to shelter from a storm. She asked the receptionist if she could breast-feed him, as the waiting room was empty - and was told she could. But afterwards, a nurse at the Heavitree Health Centre in Exeter told her she should not have been allowed to feed him there, for health and safety reasons.

The young mother said: 'I was only in there for a few minutes but a nurse said I shouldn't use the waiting room because I wasn't a patient there. 'The waiting room was empty so I assumed it would be fine. She said it wasn't a drop-in centre. I was shocked. If you can't breast-feed in a doctor's surgery where can you?'

But practice manager Len Young said: 'The nurse asked her which doctor she was registered with, and she said she was not with the surgery. 'The nurse responded that she did not know if she should be using the facilities from a health and safety point of view.'


Palestine in 1695

Avi Goldreich is a resident of Caesarea, a lover of antiquarian books and Judaica. In Budapest, he found an old book, in Latin, which had been written by a Christian named Reland, chronicling his trip in the land of Israel in 1695/6. The outstanding conclusions are:

1. No settlement in the land of Israel has a name of Arabic extraction. The names of settlements are mostly of Hebrew extraction; some of Greek or Latin-Roman. In fact, no Arab settlement (except for Ramla) has had an original Arabic name to this day. Most names of Arab settlements are of Hebrew or Greek extraction which have been impaired and replaced by meaningless names in Arabic. There is no meaning in Arabic for the names Acre, Haifa, Jaffa, Nablus, Gaza or Jenin and the names of cities, such as Ramallah, El-Halil and El-Kuds have no historical or philological roots in Arabic. In the year 1696, the year in which the tour was taken, Ramallah, for example, was called Beit El, Hebron was called Hebron and Mearat HaMachpelah was called El Chalil (a name for Abraham of the Bible).

2. The land was, on the whole, empty and desolate; the inhabitants were few and concentrated in the cities of Jeusalem, Acre, Safed, Jaffa, Tiberius and Gaza. Most of the inhabitants of the cities were Jews, the others were Christian; there were very few Moslems, mostly nomadic Bedouins. Nablus (Schem) was different, with a population of about 120 people from the Moslem Natsha family and about 70 Shomronites. In Nazareth, the capital of the Galilee, there were approximately 700 people - all Christians.

3. The book totally contradicts the post-modern theory of "a Palestinian heritage" or a Palestinian people, and strongly supports the fact that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews and not at all to the Arabs, who stole the land, and the name Palestine, as well, stole from the Latin and still claim to possess even that.

The full name of the book and the publisher: Palestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrate / Adriaan Reland. Published by Trajecti Baravorum, Utrecht, 1714


America's Racist Left

Some pesky history: Instead of merely ignoring the problems of African Americans, socialists and progressives actively contributed to them

If Barack Obama becomes America's first black president, he will fit nicely into a radical narrative that places leftists always and everywhere combating bigotry, shattering stereotypes, and advancing race relations. Indeed, merely to oppose him, as the Clintons, Geraldine Ferraro, and the voters of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana have discovered, is to invite charges of "racism" from his enthusiastic supporters - a trend that is sure to increase now that the contest has ceased to be an intramural one.

But history rarely conforms to the scripts that ideologues write. Racism, as important to understanding the American past as class divisions are to understanding European history, stains the history of homegrown radicals just as it stains the history of the nation which those radicals sought to change so radically. The American history that the Left lambastes is the American Left's history, too.

Welsh industrialist Robert Owen effectively launched the American Left that is recognizable to us today. His "Declaration of Mental Independence," issued on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, assailed "a trinity of the most monstrous evils" - private property, marriage, and traditional religion. That program certainly sounds familiar. But one "monstrous evil" is noticeably absent from the utopian socialist Owen's list: racism.

The ill-fated communal endeavor that Owen founded at New Harmony, Indiana, demonstrates how the white Left could be as snobbish toward racial minorities as the worst of their fellow countrymen. Owen's Indiana commune excluded African Americans. "Persons of color may be received as helpers to the Society, if necessary," New Harmony's 1825 constitution condescended, "or if it be found useful, to prepare and enable them to become associates in Communities in Africa; or in some other country, or in some other part of this country." In other words, anywhere but New Harmony.

The successors of 1820s' Owenite communism, the movements inspired by Frenchman Charles Fourier that proliferated in the 1840s, exhibited a similar disregard for the plight of African Americans. Future presidential candidate Horace Greeley, future presidential assassin Charles Guiteau, and novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne were each caught up in the communal mania. But few blacks were. Like Owen, the Fourierists compared the condition of southern slaves favorably to that of northern industrial workers, providing fodder for apologists of the South's "peculiar institution."

For instance, the lead article in the inaugural issue of The Phalanx - the Fourierist's official publication - claimed, "There are other social evils growing out of the same original falseness in the present system, which are equally unjust and oppressive as slavery, and which first demand our consideration." The other injustices equivalent to slavery, the paper coolly noted, included "hireling dependence," "monastic vows," and "poverty." Though slavers had no discernable role in the Fourierist craze, neither did African Americans.

Though antebellum utopians were largely indifferent to the plight of African Americans, the socialists and progressives who succeeded them aggressively advanced racist prejudices dressed up as science and progress. Instead of merely ignoring the problems of African Americans, the socialist and progressive Left actively contributed to them.

For Appeal to Reason, the most successful publication in the history of the American Left, segregation was intrinsic to socialism. Whereas "private ownership of industries mixes up the races, reducing blacks, whites, and yellows to a common level," Appeal to Reason noted that "socialism would separate the races and lift them all to the highest level each were capable." "The white worker in the shop, mine, and factory is told that Socialism means race equality," the Girard, Kansas-based weekly explained, but in reality "capitalism has forced him to work side by side with the negro, and for about the same wage. . . . [I]n the SIGHT OF THE CAPITALIST ALL WORKERS LOOK ALIKE." The Appeal, as did so many of its turn-of-the-century leftist readers, railed against the "yellow peril" and "Mongolian hordes" allegedly stealing jobs from "American" union workers.

"There can be no doubt that the negroes and mulattoes constitute a lower race," Victor Berger, long the Socialist Party's lone congressman, contended. "You know that capitalism never examines the color of the skin when it buys labor power," the party's national committeeman from Texas complained. When socialists acknowledged racial discrimination, they paternalistically counseled black Americans to abandon their selfish "personal" struggle for the "universal" struggle of the class war, which, when won, would magically solve all problems.

Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger spoke at a 1926 Ku Klux Klan rally, used the "n" word in reference to blacks, and deemed Aboriginal Australians "the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development." "The Jewish people and Italian families," she testified to the New York legislature, "who are filling the insane asylums, who are filling the hospitals and filling our feeble-minded institutions, these are the ones the tax payers have to pay for the upkeep of, and they are increasing the budget of the State, the enormous expense of the State is increasing because of the multiplication of the unfit in this country and in the State."

Despite all this and more, a friendly historian recently judged, "Sanger was no racist." Then, by this logic, neither were Theodore Bilbo and Bull Connor. To advocate certain progressive ideas is, for fellow progressives, evidence of innocence. And to do so under the guise of progress instead of tradition or habit, and with an intellectual's accent instead of a redneck's, provides immunity. Nonetheless, the progressive era resulted in the proliferation of miscegenation prohibitions, an increase in lynchings, and a majority of U.S. states backwardly codifying eugenics.

The open hostility to blacks that characterized the progressives and socialists transformed into cynicism for the Moscow-gazing Left of the '20s and '30s, which saw racism not as a problem to solve but a tool to embarrass America.

John Reed, canonized by the Hollywood Left in the Academy Award-winning Reds and the only American buried on the grounds of the Kremlin, casually referred to African Americans as "niggers" and "coons" in his letters to wife Louise Bryant. The Communist Party that Reed helped found embraced separatism and long advanced a plan of carving a black homeland out of the American South. Lovett-Fort Whiteman, the pioneering African American Communist acknowledged as "the Reddest of the Blacks" in Time magazine in 1925, endured worse than a few ugly names hurled his way. In the midst of the late-'30s Stalinist paranoia focused on one-time rival Leon Trotsky, Fort-Whiteman's comrades denounced him in Moscow to their Soviet overlords: "Lovett Fort-Whiteman, a Negro Comrade, showed himself for Trotsky." The verbal condemnation was a literal condemnation, and Fort-Whiteman, an American citizen, died in the gulag shortly thereafter.

The Communist Party banned Japanese Americans from membership after Pearl Harbor. Party chief Earl Browder rationalized that "the best place for any Japanese fifth columnist to hide is within the Communist party." Alas, there is no honor among fifth columnists. Browder purged Japanese-American fifth columnists from the ranks not because of their seditious beliefs - actually a prerequisite for membership - but because of their ethnicity.

Upon Browder's ouster, new Communist Party totem William Z. Foster decimated the ranks of his party by embarking on a crusade against "white chauvinists." Though most of these "white chauvinists" were as real as the Trotskyites and White Guards that the paranoid Stalin perennially sought to root out, the campaign revealed a guilt-ridden vulnerability on race and an inability to address the issue with maturity. This white guilt and promiscuous use of insult terms such as "racist" in describing political enemies plagued the broader postwar Left as well.



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

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

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


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