Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sweeping Away the Traditional from the Public Square

Americans may have just embarked on these most ritualistic weeks of the year stretching between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, but something is clearly different this time around. It isn't that the customary rites show signs of change. Americans roasted ceremonial turkeys by the million on Thanksgiving Day to sustain themselves as they hunt and gather goods to disperse during Hanukkah or on Christmas morning. There will be fewer big-ticket items and more discounted goods given this year, but that's not the difference. Nor am I sensing resistance to red and green, nor a break in the continuous loop of "Silver Bells" and "Silent Night" that, by melodic rote, choreographs the patterns of holiday behavior.

In other words, everything promises to look and sound what you might call traditional. But the fact is, "traditional" is out. The rock-solid assumptions on which society is built have gone wobbly, while the guideposts to "traditional" behaviors are, of course, long gone. That's the lesson of the poisonously volcanic aftermath to Proposition 8, the ballot measure defining marriage as between one man and one woman, which California voters approved on Election Day by a margin of 52.5 to 47.5 percent.

How can "traditional" be out when what is now being labeled "traditional marriage" won at the polls? To begin with, framing husband-wife nuptials as "traditional" marriage already implies the existence of alternative forms of wedlock. Indeed, the very act of throwing open the definition of marriage to a vote reveals how dramatically notions of the traditional have already changed, transformed beyond even recognition to prior generations.

In a state that Barack Obama won, 61 percent to John McCain's 37 percent, "traditional marriage" also triumphed, clearly but not overwhelmingly, due to strong support -- exit polling indicates -- from church-going voters, senior citizens, Republicans, a slim majority of Hispanic voters, and a whopping 70 percent of black voters. Yet the question remains: despite the will of the California electorate, how has tradition fallen from favor?

Tradition as pariah is the message of the past weeks of protests, boycotts, firings, condemnation and revilement of supporters of Prop. 8, not only by same-sex marriage activists but also by leading figures in the political, media, educational and entertainment establishments. This message tells us that the public square no longer enshrines, protects or even recognizes the traditional. Indeed, this central clearing house of society, where custom, rites, communication and conduct are vetted and approved, has aggressively ejected tradition and its supporters, going so far as to stigmatize the sacred, time-tested conception of marriage as being indecent, if not anathema.

And such cultural whiplash has been weirdly accepted if not welcomed by the traditionalists, if their overwhelmingly apologetic reactions to their own political and moral ostracism are any measure. Sure, they belong to a majority backed by thousands of years of civilization, but those who dared to vote, or worse, contribute money to "restrict" marriage to one man and one woman now seek to make amends and apologize for their loudly derided beliefs. From Scott Eckern, the musical theater director in Sacramento who, having been "outed" for contributing $1,000 to support Prop. 8, resigned under pressure, to Marjorie Christoffersen, co-owner of a well-liked Los Angeles eatery, whose $100 donation in support of "traditional" marriage brought hundreds of protestors to the restaurant, the response has been one of guilty contrition.

Not coincidentally, both Eckern and Christoffersen are Mormons. The brunt of the protests and public opprobrium has been directed at Mormons, whose church strongly supported Prop. 8, with many of its followers donating generously to the campaign. Of course, other churches support "traditional" marriage, including black churches, but anti-8 activists are not boycotting businesses owned by black supporters of Prop. 8. In a shameful display of easy-mark bigotry, anti-8 activists have instead seized on the weakest link in the pro-8 chain -- Mormons -- for public flaying. Indeed, anti-8 protestors continue to plan boycotts against enterprises owned by Mormon supporters of Prop. 8, from Cinemark Theaters to A1 Self-Storage. Some anti-8 activists are pushing a boycott of the upcoming Sundance Film Festival for its ties to Utah, headquarters of the Mormon church.

The point here doesn't seem to be simply to win fair and square at the polls, which, frankly, is a darn good bet for same-sex marriage proponents come 2010. This year's large black turnout, inspired by Barack Obama and said to have put Prop. 8 over the top, is unlikely to be duplicated in an off-year election. A lower black turnout might well clear the way for a fairly speedy democratic repeal of Prop. 8. No, this current anti-8 effort seems to be about something else. Something different. Something more like cleansing the public square, ostentatiously, of tradition and its followers. I wonder whether just hanging a bunch more holiday lights will keep everyone from noticing.


The Testosterone Crisis

The sweeping Democratic electoral victory has left many conservative Americans concerned about their children's future. With the federal government, educational establishment, entertainment industry and media thoroughly in the hands of the left, disturbing questions surface concerning the kinds of values our children will begin to accept as "mainstream." Matters get worse when one considers what might become forced indoctrination in "community service" organizations as a prerequisite for college admission.

These concerns were on my mind during a recent outing with my young children to a local playground. While I watched my kids try to scale walls, climb ropes, and navigate through other challenging structures various male voices I had obviously missed on previous visits to the park suddenly resonated. "Try it on your own" or "you don't need any help with this one" the gaggle of fathers would say as their sons and daughters sized up various obstacles. And while many of the moms cringed on the benches the young ones tripped, fell, clawed, and cried at times but they usually ended up victorious.

The ancient Chinese thinkers would have called my local park a microcosm of nature -- a dynamic reciprocity between the forces of feminine yin and masculine yang. It is as natural for the moms to be overly concerned about the bumps and bruises as it is for the fathers to be encouraging independence and self-reliance. Yin and yang represent two complementary energies in nature, the balance of which determines the health and harmony of a marriage, a family, a village, and even a nation. These same Chinese philosophers warned however that unhealthy families, like unhealthy nations, are usually the victims of an overabundance of either the feminine yin or the masculine yang.

Chinese emperors for example attempted to head off this underlying and menacing threat of imbalance by castrating their ministers. Why? Too much yang testosterone in the palace would lead to dangerous factions and competition. More eunuchs around the court meant the palace would be a better reflection of the harmony in nature. Imperial concubines would also be sheltered from potential male rivals of the potentate, but this was entirely incidental to the theory.)

While an excess of yang energy was considered explosive and dangerous, what happens in a country like contemporary America when there seems to be a dangerous oversupply of feminine yin?

In his book The Suicide of Reason Lee Harris argues that our present state of liberal democracy has led to "eliminating the alpha males from our midst, and at a dizzyingly accelerating rate." Instead of supporting and valuing testosterone's virtues we're "drugging our alpha boys with Ritalin." In addition, one could view Barack Obama's election as the triumph of yin over yang. Obama's policies promise to cast the father out of America's parks and replace him with the more "caring" and yin oriented federal government. For Lee Harris however the feminization of American men comes at an extremely high price:
"The end of testosterone in the West alone will not culminate in the end of history, but it may well culminate in the end of the West."
It was in ancient Greece for example when the West began to associate the masculine yang voice with freedom and self-reliance. Why? Because when Athenian citizens perused the known world they noticed something rather curious: in no country other than Greece did citizens enjoy freedom or the virtues of democratic government. Famous Greeks like the fifth century B.C. physician Hippocrates attempted to explain this fascinating anomaly. What Hippocrates and other Greek observers all tended to conclude was that the rest of the world's subjects must be "effeminate" or else, like the Greeks, they would have demanded -- like real men -- to be left alone by their leaders.

In his essay On Airs, Waters, and Places for example Hippocrates notes that those who endure life under a despot are "cowardly, as I have stated before, for their souls are enslaved." Greeks however are "independent, and enjoy the fruits of their own labors," and in addition they "encounter dangers on their own account, bear the prizes of their own valor, and in like manner endure the punishment of their own cowardice." The good doctor concludes with a rather chilling observation: "A man's disposition will be changed by his institutions." In short, what Hippocrates argues is that the more "maternalistic" the government, the less the citizenry will value freedom.

We can now start to understand part of Obama's appeal. Alpha males in this nation have been browbeaten in every profession, most notably in education. Indeed, the largest percentage ever of young, educated Americans in a presidential contest threw its support behind Barack Obama. In addition, whereas John Kerry received 51% of the female vote in 2004, Barack Obama garnered close to 60%. When black Americans overwhelmingly supported Obama to the tune of 90%, how much of this support was a product of race and how much was simply a product of a culture in which 70% of children are raised without fathers?

Both political parties now believe that they can garner votes by playing the yin, or compassion card. We've seen this with the Bush Administration and its heavily statist "compassionate conservatism." On the other hand, Democrats in congress thought that extending loans to unqualified borrowers was an act of compassion. An excess of yin is now causing many of our states, like California, to go broke. Despite these examples an "uncaring" America was the chief rallying cry of Barack and Michelle Obama during the recent election.

In his classic work Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville entitled one of his chapters "What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have To Fear." Near the end of the chapter there is a rather sobering observation:
"It is indeed difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people."
Will Americans become so subservient under an Obama administration that a future yang style candidate like Ronald Reagan becomes impossible? A healthy nation, like a healthy family, should have a proper balance of yin and yang. Ideally, the relationship should be a balance between yang's independence, competition, and merit, and yin's more gentle, cooperative, and egalitarian energy. We're at a critical moment in our history however when the forces of yin in American threaten to bury, not complement, yang. Despite what the radical feminists might tell you, alpha male energy is natural and necessary for many things, including national survival.

There's an eight year old boy in my neighborhood who still rides his bike with training wheels. There's no father at home. Is America looking at training wheels writ large? We know that most contemporary, estrogen-heavy Europeans would like to rid America of its testosterone. They may just get their wish.


Unending media bias against Israel

By Barry Rubin

I realized something important when reading a relatively marginal feature story from the Associated Press. It shows us that Palestinians don't really exist as a society but only as a set of victims. By definition, all-or to be fair, almost all, of their problems are said to come from Israel. Yet since the continuation of the conflict and their difficult situation comes first and foremost from within Palestinian politics and society, this kind of interpretation makes it impossible to understand why there is no peace, no Palestinian state, and no end of violence.

In Karen Laub, "Amid poverty, a Renaissance villa in the West Bank," November 26, 2008, provides a great opportunity to talk about the problems within Palestinian society. The story is about a "Palestinian tycoon [who] has created a tranquil paradise on a Holy Land mountaintop, with a replica of a famous Renaissance villa, sculpted gardens and a wrought-iron pavilion that once belonged to a nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte."

We are immediately told, however, that this is to be compared, not to the impoverishment of his own society but rather to guess-who: "But even one of the West Bank's richest men cannot entirely shut out Israel's military occupation, army bases and Israeli settlements occupy hills surrounding the 100-acre estate."

Note that the mere existence of Israeli installations nearby is the "terrible" thing that allegedly cancels out this individual's Garden of Eden. Not that there is any direct effect, but the message is that all Palestinians are a subject people, no matter how rich they are. He may never meet an Israeli, he may live in a situation where he can accumulate wealth and act as a lord, he may live under Palestinian Authority rule but-we are told-this is deceptive. Because nothing matters but Israel's presence, even if it is barely in sight. I have learned not to take even the most basic claims of AP for granted so I do not assume that there are "army bases" or settlements in the area.

Only afterward however are we informed that maybe, just maybe, there is something wrong with this conspicuous display of wealth in the Palestinian context: "And some say such a display of wealth, the honey-colored Palladian mansion is visible for miles, is jarring at a time of continued economic hardship. At the foot of the mountain in Nablus, unemployment runs at 16 percent and the mayor says 40 percent of the 180,000 residents live in poverty." Jarring? How about asking the most basic questions, the kind that would be asked in covering any other society on earth?

The person in question is Munib Masri. The Masris are a large clan closely associated with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA). We are given the bare facts-he was close to Arafat, he formed a development company. But the points are made with the greatest possible delicacy: "Critics say some of the profits were made possible by a lucrative telecommunications monopoly the company held for several years." We are not told from whence this monopoly came-from the PA. The word corruption is never mentioned. Such a lack of curiosity about the sources of his wealth does not accord with journalistic practices in covering other stories. Indeed, the story of the telecommunications monopoly is one of the best-known stories of corruption among Palestinians. How PA and Fatah factions competed over the loot, how Arafat intervened directly into the issue. But for AP it is a story untold. The story should be as follows:

--The Palestinian upper economic and political class cares nothing for its own people.

--In its fourteen-year rule of the West Bank, the PA has focused on looting it rather than on raising living standards and providing good government.

--Billions of dollars in international aid donations have disappeared, probably paying for a large portion of Masri's mansion.

--The PA's failures are blamed on Israel both by the PA itself, Western governments, and the international media.

--Palestinian suffering is not primarily due to Israel but to their own leaders.

--A lot of Israel's success has been due to Jews around the world making both investments and donations. Palestinians have not been forthcoming in supporting their own "state," a point well-known in Palestinian circles. (An exception here, of course, is in backing Hamas's terrorist campaign in recent years.)

--Anyone who keeps their eyes open will see other huge, albeit less impressive than this one, mansions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Even other members of Masri's own family have been criticized for their ostentation. While this estate may be the most extreme case, it is hardly an exception in that regard.

--Wealthy Palestinians do not give charity to help their poorer cousins. The PA doesn't even have a comprehensive tax system. Thus, the international community is left to support the Palestinians, and their oversized security apparatus.

--Violence sponsored by the PA was responsible for destroying the chance for their people to work in Israel, hitherto a major aid to their economy; the destruction of infrastructure; and the hesitation of investors, who are also put off by the PA's corruption and incompetence.

--Intransigence and the failure to reach a compromise solution stem from the Palestinian leadership, including Masri's buddy, Arafat.

Meanwhile, despite the hints in this article about a stifling Israeli occupation, Masri has no difficulty in proposing huge projects costing more than a half billion dollars. I suspect that these projects will never materialize but will be scams for ripping off foreign aid money. "Masri remains optimistic, even though independence appears no closer than when he first returned to the West Bank."

Hm, I wonder why they haven't achieved it yet. I sure won't learn it from AP coverage. And to switch to the broader picture, consider another Karin Laub effort, "Abbas ads make appeal to Israelis," November 21, 2008. The subtitle is, "The Palestinian's ads detail withdrawal terms first offered in a 2002 Arab Peace Initiative." Well, if the ads detail the terms, Laub certainly doesn't.

The 12-paragraph story never gets around to telling us what's in the offer and why Israel has a problem with it. The only reference to that point says, "An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem would bring them recognition by the Arab world." Of course, Israel has already withdrawn from all of Gaza, but at any rate it would have been easy for Laub to mention that the terms are for Israel to leave all of the West Bank and all of east Jerusalem, not one centimeter less. She merely had to insert the word "all." The point is that the way it is worded makes the offer seem more attractive than it is.

But that's not the worst part. Laub doesn't mention that the plan also demands that all-there's that word again-Palestinians who ever lived in any part of what is now Israel and all their descendents must be allowed to return to Israel. That's a few million people. To distort points of fact about the terms is scandalous and shameful. A couple of decades ago, AP would have issued a correction. But that's not the way things are done nowadays, is it?

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is only paraphrased as saying "its positions on key issues such as final borders, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees are not acceptable." There's no explanation as to why it is, presumably lest Israel's rejection be understood as a rational response.

And as always there is no mention of Palestinian refusal to meet Israel's needs. As always, we aren't even told about such things, which Abbas's adds don't mention: end of incitement to terrorism, a declared end to the conflict, no foreign troops on Palestinian soil. One might think that an ad campaign by the PA would say something about Palestinian positions.

The article concludes, "Many Israelis are also skeptical about a peace deal, in part because the embattled Abbas no longer speaks for all Palestinians."

Thank goodness that while it is impermissible to criticize the PA or Fatah, at least the media can talk about Hamas. We are then given a decent description of it as an "Islamic extremist group" which staged a "violent 2007 takeover, two years after a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the territory," and its firing of "thousands of rockets and mortars on Israeli border towns since the pullout." The article then notes, "Israelis fear a West Bank withdrawal could bring more attacks."

Of course, that's in the last paragraph. But two more reasons for Israeli skepticism should also be added: the failure of the PA to keep its past promises and its demands that Israel give everything without offering anything itself. Can we coin a phrase here? Much of the coverage can be called "anti-news" because it is deceptive nature. Perhaps there should be little labels affixed, like those on cigarette packs: Warning! Reading this article can be hazardous to your intellectual health.

Article above received by email direct from Prof. Rubin

What England Means to Me

By The Rt Hon Lord Tebbit, Conservative politician and former Member of Parliament for Chingford.

We are who we are by our parents' genes, by our inheritance of history and culture and our own experience of life. That inheritance of history may reach back to a time before one's family came to this island - in the case of my father's line, in the 16th century. So, to be English today is to be an inheritor of the most powerful language in the world - literature, art, science and technology, even sport, which have done so much to shape the world, and a philosophy or culture of government which has permeated not just the Anglosphere but great countries such as India.

We English are not an introspective people. We rarely think about England (except in the field of sport) unless something malfunctions. As for Britishness, that wider concept is a way of sharing with others living in this kingdom their history and culture and our own. It provides a banner around which we can all rally for mutual aid and strength.

Since the English have influenced and been influenced by almost every other nation we know that how others see us is as much about what they are as what we are. From time to time, if it seems to affect our interests we become anxious about that, especially if we are seen as weak, a soft touch or an unreliable friend, but being mostly content within our collective English skin we are neither extrovert nor introspective and leave others to make of us what they will.

Tolerant as we are, we do not require outsiders who come to live there to put on an English identity - but we do ask that they respect not just us but our English house - its fabric and its customs. Should they not like it we would not wish to detain them there - but if they and their children wish to join our tribe we see no reason to discriminate either against them or in their favour.

Quietly, as we look back at what the English family has done, what it has given to the wider world, we take pride - not arrogant nor puffed up pride, but honest pride in our history. That pride is patriotism and without it societies disintegrate into no more than crowds jostling for shoulders in one place.

For the English the modern cry for devolution sounds like a struggle to put back the clock and chop up the United Kingdom which has been of mutual benefit to all us British islanders. If that is what the others want so be it, but they should not think that they can have both their independence bun and their halfpenny too.

However, the concept of England is changing. The false doctrines of multiculturalism and the authoritarians preaching the doctrine of the big state ruling a citizenry denied the strengths of family and of religion and of history, has ruptured the English consensus. A growing underclass, the like of which England had not seen for centuries, rootless, feckless, ill educated and violent, has begun to infest England's great cities. The ballast of the respectable working and middle class families is shifting.

They may look for a while at outsiders from the Continent of Europe to resolve our difficulties - as the Romans and Normans did in their time - and the political classes of Brussels are eager to do today. Or they may look to an English hero - a twenty first century King Alfred - to define as he did what it meant to be English. His victory at Edington was the birth of England and the English which led through to the Magna Carta, the Tudors, the Empire, the Reform Acts and the 20th century wars to the flowering of an English culture whose power and reach has been rivaled only by that of China at its greatest. The English must soon choose. To succumb like Italy after Rome - or to rediscover what Alfred found in Wessex a thousand years ago.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

The rights of criminals still coming first in Britain

As thief gets away with caution, boss who marched him to police lands false imprisonment charge

A boss who marched a thieving worker to a police station with a placard round his neck has been charged with false imprisonment. Yet the criminal himself has escaped with just a slap on the wrist.

Simon Cremer took action against Mark Gilbert after learning he had cashed a forged company cheque. He hung a sign reading `Thief' on Gilbert and paraded him past shoppers on a busy high street before handing him to police. Now, however, officers have decided the thief should receive nothing more than a caution, while throwing the book at 44-year-old Mr Cremer, who thought he was making a citizen's arrest.

Mr Cremer and three workers from his carpet fitting firm who helped him overpower the sub-contractor have all been charged with false imprisonment - an offence that carries a maximum life term. Even Gilbert has expressed surprise that the men had been arrested, admitting: `I'm the criminal here.'

The charges came on the day Whitehall statistics showed tens of thousands of serious criminals are receiving only a caution - including rapists and paedophiles. But the number of criminals being sent to jail is at its lowest level for a decade.

Mr Cremer, a father of two, said yesterday: `I can't believe the police system. This is a guy who is a proven thief, he stole a cheque, forged a signature and took money by deception, surely there's enough to charge him. But no, he's been let off with a caution.' Mr Cremer, who has no criminal record, added: `I would do exactly the same thing again, especially now he has got off with a caution. I don't regret my action, the fact I tied his hands is the only bit I regret.'

His partner Karen Boardman, 44, who has just returned to work as a receptionist at a GP's surgery after treatment for breast cancer, attacked the `topsy-turvy justice' that could see Mr Cremer and his three employees spend time behind bars. She said: `I am disgusted. I have no faith left in the British justice system. "'The person that committed the crime has walked away, completely free. He will be sitting at home over Christmas, without a care, while Simon and the other three, who are all family men, have this hanging over them. `Their judgment was maybe clouded slightly because times are tough but I will not condemn what they've done. Even giving them a caution would be wrong.'

Mr Cremer, of Little Maplestead, Essex, was alerted to the theft in September when the Cash Converters company phoned him about a bounced cheque from his firm, In House Flooring. It emerged that Gilbert, from Colchester, who earned up to 1,000 pounds a week, had taken a cheque from an old book, written it out for 845 pounds, and cashed it for holiday spending money. He claims he was owed wages but his boss had been too busy to write out a cheque - a claim Mr Cremer vehemently denies.

When Gilbert next went in to work in Witham, Essex, he was wrestled to the floor, tied up and bundled into a van before being paraded 350 yards through the streets. In a scene reminiscent of the medieval approach to justice, when suspects were named and shamed by being sent to the village stocks, a cardboard sign was slung around his neck which read: `THIEF. I stole 845 pounds. Am on my way to police station.'

Gilbert claims he was punched, threatened with tools and feared for his life. But Mr Cremer insists no violence was used, although he `restrained' his employee for his own protection. Gilbert said of his former boss and colleagues: `I feel for them and I don't want anything bad to happen to them. But it wasn't really correct what they did to me.'


Freedom of religion does not give right to flout country's laws, says EU court as it backs ban on Sikh wearing turban in ID pic

While I have a general sympathy for migrants being encouraged to assimilate, I am not sure that this judgement is wise. If he normally wears a turban, would not a photo of him in a turban make him easier to identify?

A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers' licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights. Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new licence with a photograph of him wearing a turban. Under French regulations, motorists must appear 'bareheaded and facing forward' in their licence photographs but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.

Mr Singh, 52, took his case to the ECHR but the Strasbourg-based court dismissed the case. It ruled that 'identity photographs for use on driving licences which showed the subject bareheaded were needed by the authorities in charge of public safety.'

In a statement, it recognised that the rule on photographs 'amounted to interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of religion', but judged that this was justified. Freedom of religion 'did not always guarantee the right to behave in a manner governed by a religious belief and did not confer on people who did so the right to disregard rules that had proved to be justified,' the court said.

Mr Singh had complained to the court that the French regulations made no provision for separate treatment for members of the Sikh community. The court noted that Muslim women had to remove their headscarves for some identification purposes.


An unusually "incorrect" entertainer from Australia

Rolf tells it like it is: Aborigines do very little to help themselves -- so why should we worry?

Rolf Harris regrets the racist verse on Aborigines in Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport, the song that made him famous in Britain and launched the wobbleboard on an unsuspecting music world.

In Melbourne yesterday to plug a book of illustrations of the same name, the singer and painter said he had tried to erase the lines "Let me Abos go loose" and "They're of no further use" from all recordings over the years, with limited success. "It was a mark of the times, done totally innocently with no realisation that you would offend at all . Just trying to create a fun song for a bunch of Aussies who were drinking themselves stupid on Swan Lager in London at the time," he said.

But half a century after penning the controversial lyrics, the London-based expatriate has not succumbed to political correctness. He blames traditional Aboriginal values for the dire living conditions in many indigenous communities. "The attitude is that in their original way of life they would really wreck the surrounding countryside that they lived in and they would leave all the garbage and they would go walkabout to the next place," he said. "The traditional attitude is still there and I wish there was a simple solution but I'm not certain."

He has strong views about some Aborigines lamenting the conditions of their communities. "You sit at home watching the television and you think to yourself, 'Get up off your arse and clean up the streets your bloody self' and 'Why would you expect somebody to come in and clean up your garbage which you've dumped everywhere?' But then you have to think to yourself that it's a different attitude to life."

Aboriginal children were never disciplined or expected to adhere to rules until adulthood, he said. "[Until] then they have a totally carefree life to do what they want and that quite often involves smashing everything that they have."


Australia. An old-fashioned responsible father: Good to see

Boy, 5, made to walk two-and-a-half hours to school

A NORTHERN TERRITORY man has been making his five-year-old son walk two-and-a-half hours to school every day, after he was kicked off the school bus. When Jack Burt confessed that he'd been banned for five days for hitting the bus driver in the head with an apple core, dad Sam thought he should learn the hard way. He and Jack last week were getting up at 5.10am for the dusty 13km-hike from the Darwin rural area of Herbert, all the way to Humpty Doo. Mr Burt also took the wheels off Jack's bike so he couldn't be tempted to ride to school.

At the end of the old-fashioned punishment, Mr Burt, 38, took out a public notice in the Northern Territory News. "Jack Burt and his dad wish to thank all the kind people who stopped to offer them lifts in the past week," the ad read. "It's good to see a number of good people in the community. Jack hopes to be allowed back on the bus on Monday."

But in the battle of wills between tall and short, the smart money's on Jack. "Shame it didn't work," Mr Burt told the Northern Territory News. "He got back on the bus Monday, and within three stops he was in trouble again. I couldn't believe it. "I don't understand - he's good at school, he gets awards all the time."

However, a breakthrough might be in sight. When Jack this week said he didn't mind walking - because it made him strong for fighting - he was told if he started fighting he might have to walk home in the afternoons too. Jack's eyes got a little teary. He said he might not get home before dark. Mr Burt told him not to worry - they'd leave the key out for him.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Why Don't We Hang Pirates Anymore?

It's a safe bet, dear reader, that the title of this column has caused you to either (a) roll your eyes and wonder, What century do you think we're living in? or (b) scratch your head and ask, Yes, why don't we? Wherever you come down, the question defines a fault line in the civilized world's view about the latest encroachment of barbarism.

Year-to-date, Somalia-based pirates have attacked more than 90 ships, seized more than 35, and currently hold 17. Some 280 crew members are being held hostage, and two have been killed. Billions of dollars worth of cargo have been seized; millions have been paid in ransom. A multinational naval force has attempted to secure a corridor in the Gulf of Aden, through which 12% of the total volume of seaborne oil passes, and U.S., British and Indian naval ships have engaged the pirates by force. Yet the number of attacks keeps rising.

Why? The view of senior U.S. military officials seems to be, in effect, that there is no controlling legal authority. Title 18, Chapter 81 of the United States Code establishes a sentence of life in prison for foreigners captured in the act of piracy. But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.

What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention -- ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. -- enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. A recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows foreign navies to pursue pirates into Somali waters -- provided Somalia's tottering government agrees -- but the resolution expires next week. As for the idea of laying waste, Stephen Decatur-like, to the pirate's prospering capital port city of Eyl, this too would require U.N. authorization. Yesterday, a shippers' organization asked NATO to blockade the Somali coast. NATO promptly declined.

Then there is the problem of what to do with captured pirates. No international body similar to the old Admiralty Courts is currently empowered to try pirates and imprison them. The British foreign office recently produced a legal opinion warning Royal Navy ships not to take pirates captive, lest they seek asylum in the U.K. or otherwise face repatriation in jurisdictions where they might be dealt with harshly, in violation of the British Human Rights Act.

In March 2006, the U.S. Navy took 11 pirates prisoner, six of whom were injured. Not wanting to set a precedent for trying pirates in U.S. courts, the State Department turned to Kenya to do the job. The injured spent weeks aboard the USS Nassau, enjoying First World medical care.

All this legal exquisiteness stands in contrast to what was once a more robust attitude. Pirates, said Cicero, were hostis humani generis -- enemies of the human race -- to be dealt with accordingly by their captors. Tellingly, Cicero's notion of piracy vanished in the Middle Ages; its recovery traces the recovery of the West itself.

By the 18th century, pirates knew exactly where they stood in relation to the law. A legal dictionary of the day spelled it out: "A piracy attempted on the Ocean, if the Pirates are overcome, the Takers may immediately inflict a Punishment by hanging them up at the Main-yard End; though this is understood where no legal judgment may be obtained." Severe as the penalty may now seem (albeit necessary, since captured pirates were too dangerous to keep aboard on lengthy sea voyages), it succeeded in mostly eliminating piracy by the late 19th century -- a civilizational achievement no less great than the elimination of smallpox a century later.

Today, by contrast, a Navy captain who takes captured pirates aboard his state-of-the-art warship will have a brig in which to keep them securely detained, and instantaneous communications through which he can obtain higher guidance and observe the rule of law.

Yet what ought to be a triumph for both justice and security has turned out closer to the opposite. Instead of greater security, we get the deteriorating situation described above. And in pursuit of a better form of justice -- chiefly defined nowadays as keeping a clear conscience -- we get (at best) a Kenyan jail. "We're humane warriors," says one U.S. Navy officer. "When the pirates put down their RPGs and raise their hands, we take them alive. And that's a lot tougher than taking bodies."

Piracy, of course, is hardly the only form of barbarism at work today: There are the suicide bombers on Israeli buses, the stonings of Iranian women, and so on. But piracy is certainly the most primordial of them, and our collective inability to deal with it says much about how far we've regressed in the pursuit of what is mistakenly thought of as a more humane policy. A society that erases the memory of how it overcame barbarism in the past inevitably loses sight of the meaning of civilization, and the means of sustaining it.


An entire population raised on hate

TO spend a week in Israel is to begin to understand that this country is generations away from peace with Palestinians. The people here talk about tahadiya: a period of calm. To an outsider, it is a week of alarming disquiet where each day reveals yet another culprit killing the prospect of peace. What you see and hear is disturbing enough. Even more destructive to peace is that which is hidden from you. This is how the week unfolds.

Sunday: A Qassam rocket is launched from northern Gaza into Sderot, an Israeli town within 3km of the Hamas stronghold.

Monday: Three more rockets are fired into this small town of 20,000 Israelis that has endured thousands of rocket attacks in recent years. I arrive in Sderot by helicopter just ahead of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

I see some of the mangled Qassam rockets that have hit this town. The rockets proudly bear the brand of the terrorists who launch them, written in Hebrew so the Israelis know who is firing at them. The Israelis who later collect the rockets date each of them in white paint and pile them up at the local police station. More than a hundred rockets were launched after Israel destroyed a Hamas tunnel built to attack Israel, a tunnel like the one used in June 2006 by militants to kidnap Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit from the edge of the Gaza strip. Shalit is the only Jew left in Gaza, a precious negotiating tool for Hamas. The Israeli Government has blocked access points to Gaza until the rockets stop.

Tuesday: A young Ethiopian woman, who has lost relatives to the rocket attacks from Gaza, tells me, "We don't count the rockets anymore". Three more qassam rockets slam into the fields of the Negev desert.

Wednesday: Two Qassam rockets land south of Ashkelon, a town well beyond the Gaza border, on the coast towards Tel Aviv.

Thursday: The Palestinian Authority runs advertisements in Israeli newspapers detailing in Hebrew Fatah's commitment to a peace plan. It is a meaningless commitment. Analysts call this a virtual negotiation. How can Israel negotiate peace with Palestinian interlocutors in Fatah, who have no control over Gaza, where more than 40 per cent of Palestinians live? If elections were held in the West Bank today, predictions are that Hamas would win there, putting an end to the co-operation that has stopped the terrorism emanating from that Palestinian enclave.

Friday: Another rocket is launched from Gaza into the industrial zone of Ashkelon.

Put aside the rocket attacks by Hamas, the ineffectual leadership of Fatah, the Israeli settlements that poison relations and stymie solutions, the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the other intractable hurdles to peace. The real, long-term harm is happening quietly away from the prying eyes of what the locals here call Pali-wood: the Hollywood stars, the array of doe-eyed peace activists and the knaves at the UN who simplistically side with the Palestinians. That said, no one imagines Israel is free from fault. But its Government is not creating civil institutions that preach hatred and violence.

By contrast, an entire generation of Palestinian children is being raised on a full diet of hate education, on jihad and anti-Semitism. This is the long-term hurdle to peace in this generation, and the next. Look at the website of Palestinian Media Watch ( where analysts have long tracked what the Palestinian leadership under Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is doing. Not what is said to Westerners in English or what they tell Israelis in Hebrew.

Look at what Palestinians are teaching their children in Arabic. Look at the geography books for Palestinian children that encourage children to see no Israel, books that feature maps of Israel in the colours of the Palestinian flag, and described as Palestine. Learn about the May 2008 soccer championships for young boys in honour of terrorists such as Samir Quntar and Muhammad al-Mabhuh. Or the July 2008 summer camp held for young girls named in honour of female suicide bomber Dalal al-Mughrabi, who hijacked a holiday bus in 1978, murdering 12 children and 25 adults.

Listen to Fatah-funded children's television where children are taught to continue the way of the shahids (the suicide bombers) and quizzed about Mughrabi. She is presented as "the beloved bride, child of Jaffa, jasmine flower". Or quizzes where children routinely identify Israeli landmarks, towns and ports such as Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat as Palestinian. Where children are taught that "Palestine" covers 27,000sqkm; in fact Gaza and the West Bank total 6200sqm. When the next generation of leaders is taught from childhood that Israel does not exist, how is future negotiation possible?

The irony is that this hate education is funded by the West, by countries that pour money into the PA who use it to glorify terrorism and to twist young minds against Israel, and peace. Countries such as Australia. Last year in Ramallah, headquarters of Fatah, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith lauded one of the first acts of the new Labor Government as being a pledge of $45million to the Palestinian people and $7.5m going directly to the PA. Does the minister know how the PA is using Western money?

Hillary Clinton knows about the direct flow of Western money into Fatah's sewer of hate education. Last year she launched PMW's latest report and pointed out the consequences of the toxic indoctrination of children: "We cannot build a peaceful, stable, safe future on such a hate-filled violent and radical foundation."

The other irony is obvious to anyone with any understanding of the Palestinian leadership. Fatah is a discredited, corrupt, ineffective political party filled with the remnants of the Arafat era that has lost support of its people. Hamas is a terrorist movement still committed to bloody violence against Jews. There is no two-state solution until Palestinians can agree on one voice to represent them in a genuine peace settlement.

Yet consider this. According to the PMW, more than half of the Palestinian educators in the teachers' union are affiliated with Hamas. What hope the children? What hope is there emerging from the next generation a group of moderate Palestinian leaders capable of carving out peace for their people?

These are questions not simply for the present leadership of the Palestinian people. But also for the leaders of countries such as Australia, who talk in rhetorical flourishes about a renewed peace initiative, and yet must surely know that this money is used for propaganda that kills any chance of peace.

They call this a period of calm. Surely they mean the calm before the storm unless the hate education of the next generation of Palestinians ends.


Woman netted $200,000 by making 22 claims under stupid British "ageism" laws

She was only stopped when she got too greedy

A woman has made up to 100,000 pounds by claiming 22 firms discriminated against her because of her age. Taking advantage of controversial new legislation, 50-year-old Margaret Keane made identical applications for jobs as a chartered accountant, responding only to advertisements seeking 'recently qualified' staff. She then made swift follow-up calls demanding to know why she had not been offered the posts, before immediately launching waves of age discrimination claims - even though her error-strewn CV had not included her date of birth.

Up to 12 firms, fearing huge legal costs, caved in and gave her out-of-court payouts understood to be between 4,000 and 10,000 pounds each, underlining fears raised by employers about European age discrimination laws introduced in 2006.

But Miss Keane's campaign has suffered a setback when five of her cases were rejected by an employment tribunal which accepted that she was a 'not a bona fide job applicant, but a serial litigator' purely seeking compensation. The five firms are each demanding she pays them more than 10,000 in costs.

Miss Keane, from Harrow, north London, qualified as a chartered accountant in 1991, and at one time had a 75,000 a year post with HSBC. She currently works part-time for a publisher.

On May 4 last year she applied by email for posts offering up to 60,000 a year advertised through ten accounting recruitment agencies. In her tribunal claim she said: 'All these agencies use words in their advertisements like "newly qualified", "entry level role" and "high calibre candidate", I believe to attract younger and exclude older candidates.'

Miss Keane waited two weeks before phoning the agencies and demanding to know why she had not got the job. She then began actions for damages through the Watford Employment Tribunal. Days after the first wave, she applied for jobs through another 11 employment agencies, again swiftly making follow up calls and launching more claims for age discrimination, this time through the London Central employment tribunal.

Some agents tried to explain that although she was unsuitable for the job she had applied for - often because she did not have a degree - they might be able to find her another. She showed no interest in other opportunities, however, and was described as 'rude' on the phone by one recruitment agent.

The first cases to be put to a tribunal were the 11 London Central ones, but six firms settled out of court - largely, it is believed, because of the regulations applied to discrimination cases. If a claimant can prove simply that they might have been discriminated against because of age, the employer must show its actions were not motivated by age.

The remaining five London cases were heard together in March. All were rejected. Miss Keane continued with the process of taking the first ten agencies to the Watford tribunal. After one agency told her the name of the employer for whom it was advertising the job, Sony BMG Music Entertainment UK Ltd, she added it to her list. Before the case began, six of the companies concerned, including Sony, settled out of court. The remaining five fought on, all represented by barrister Peter Linstead.

Mr Linstead told the tribunal: 'Miss Keane has suffered no detriment as these were not bona fide applications. 'The evidence suggests she made these applications with the sole intention of bringing a claim, not doing the job. 'She has not explained why suddenly she wanted to do a job apparently aimed at someone with little or no experience. 'She deliberately obstructed the process of finding herself a job, failing to tailor her applications for different roles, gave the wrong date for her qualifications and left four typing errors on her CV, and failed to apply for jobs commensurate with her 18 years of experience.'

Before the tribunal's decision, Miss Keane told the Daily Mail: 'Bringing these claims has not been easy - it's taken me full-time study almost every night to try to understand the law. If the judge decides my cases were an abuse of the system, I'm stuffed.'


Lazy British child protection bureaucrats fail disastrously again

A major investigation has been launched into the failings of police and social services in two counties after a man was jailed for raping his two daughters and fathering nine of his own grandchildren. The 56-year-old businessman from Sheffield held his daughters virtual prisoners for 25 years, moving them around houses in South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire to avoid detection. The sexual abuse, which has chilling parallels to the case of the Austrian rapist Josef Fritzl, started when the girls were eight years old. Their father would rape them up to three times a week and punch, kick and hold them to the flames of a gas fire if they refused his demands.

The women were at Sheffield Crown Court to hear a judge give him 25 life sentences for rape, with a minimum term of 19r years. The man, who cannot be named to protect his victims' identities, refused to attend. The two women became pregnant 19 times in all. Two of their nine children died at birth.

Sentencing Mr X, Judge Alan Goldsack, QC, said: "In nearly 40 years of dealing with criminal cases and 14 as a family judge the combination of aggravating circumstances here is the worst I have come across."

Politicians and child protection experts asked how the abuse was not detected by the numerous social workers, doctors, teachers and police officers who came into contact with the ever-expanding family over 20 years. Sheffield City Council has launched an independent inquiry, and the role of South Yorkshire Police, Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police will also be examined. Both councils said that the family was known to them. The court was told of several contacts with authorities that could have raised the alarm.

The details of the case have come to light a fortnight after news of the death of Baby P in Haringey, North London, sparked public outcry and fears that the entire child protection system is fundamentally flawed.

The daughters described their father's sentencing as a final escape from decades of mental and physical torture. "His detention in prison brings us only the knowledge that he cannot physically touch us again," they said in a statement. "The suffering he has caused will continue for many years and we must now concentrate our thoughts on finding the strength to rebuild our lives."

The inquiries are likely to focus on health professionals' failure to raise the alarm. James Baird, representing the defendant, said that it was inconceivable that the crimes could go un-noticed. "All the signs were indicative of an incestuous relationship," he said.

Social services in Lincolnshire had contact with the family when the daughters were young and suspicions were raised about the children's parentage. In 1997 the women's brother came forward with "hearsay evidence" of incest. Police investigated the claim, but no further action was taken. The family moved back to South Yorkshire in 2004 and social services again became involved, but the abuse went undetected.

Chief Superintendent Simon Torr, of South Yorkshire Police, defended the force from claims that it could have stopped the abuse earlier. "This has been a thorough, robust, timely and professional investigation from the moment that the victims first disclosed the abuse, and Sheffield City Council have fully supported the police in bringing about a successful prosecution," he said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks for Genocide?

Thanksgiving is coming -- a time to participate in the great American tradition of maligning and abusing our ancestors. Last year, Seattle public school administrators warned teachers that "Thanksgiving can be a particularly difficult time for many of our Native students." Accordingly, teachers were advised to consult a list of 11 Thanksgiving "myths." No. 11 read as follows: "Myth: Thanksgiving is a happy time. Fact: For many Indian people, 'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, 'Thanksgiving' is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship."

In his new book, The 10 Big Lies About America film critic and radio talk show host Michael Medved recalls the Seattle episode, as well as many other examples of self-flagellation that now characterize many of our national observances. Columbus Day? The start of a vicious subjugation. A Denver Columbus Day parade was marred last year by protesters who threw fake blood and dismembered dolls along the parade route. Plymouth Rock? Weren't the Native Americans here first after all? The 400th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown was renamed from celebration to "commemoration" in 2007 because "so many facets of Jamestown's history are not cause for celebration."

Medved, a passionate but not blind patriot, argues that our kids and the rest of us are being fed a tendentious history that wildly exaggerates the offenses of European settlers. The notion that "America Was Founded on Genocide Against Native Americans" cannot withstand scrutiny.

Like racism, genocide is a word that has lost its meaning through promiscuous overuse. Medved reminds us that the international "Genocide Convention" defines genocide as an act or acts "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group as such." In the clash of civilizations between European settlers and Native Americans, millions died. But the overwhelming majority of those deaths were attributable to diseases carried involuntarily by Europeans and spread to natives who had no natural immunities to these pathogens. That is a tragedy, but not a crime.

What of those smallpox-infested blankets that have received so much press? Medved examines the evidence and concludes "The endlessly recycled charges of biological warfare rest solely on controversial interpretations of two unconnected and inconclusive incidents 74 years apart." The first was in response to Pontiac's Rebellion (1763), a ferocious small war undertaken by the Great Lakes Indians (who had been allied with the defeated French in the French and Indian War) against British settlements. The Ottawa leader Pontiac told his followers to "exterminate" the whites. They did their best. Hundreds of settlers were tortured, scalped, cannibalized, dismembered, or burned at the stake. As the Indians were besieging Fort Pitt, Field Marshal Lord Jeffery Amherst wrote to a subordinate, "Could it not be contrived to send the Small Pox among the disaffected tribes of Indians?" But nothing seems to have come from this correspondence. The other episode is alleged by fired professor Ward Churchill (yes, the one who invented his Creek and Muscogee heritage and fabricated his academic research), and concerns an outbreak of smallpox among the Mandan tribe in 1837. There is no evidence that the whites intentionally infected the Indians in that case, and considerable evidence that the settlers attempted to prevent the outbreak.

There were terrible injustices and massacres committed by Europeans against Native Americans and some running the other way as well. The more technologically advanced civilization prevailed -- which is the usual course in human affairs. But the current fashion to distort that history into something like a war crime is, to say the least, overstated.

The Thanksgiving story is a strange one to protest. It is recalled, every year, as a time when newly arrived Europeans and Native Americans cooperated and learned from one another and then joined together for a festive meal to celebrate their joint harvest. This week, millions of schoolchildren will don tall paper hats and Indian fringes and feathers. They will recall the peaceful start of the not always peaceful history of the greatest nation on earth. And so they should -- without guilt or shame.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving - A Violation of Church and State separation?

Is the government's observance of Thanksgiving a violation of the separation of church and state? This past week, a Newsweek/Washington Post editorial labeled presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamations as "cracks in the wall of separation." The author explained, "The problem with these proclamations, it seems to me, is that they pave the way for public acceptance of gross violations of the constitutional separation of church and state." What?!

Forget for a moment that nearly every president since George Washington (and the Continental Congress before him) has given Judeo-Christian proclamations for Thanksgiving (except between 1816 and 1861) and also has declared other national days of fasting and prayer. Secularists, such as the author of the editorial, get almost giddy every time they highlight that Thomas Jefferson rejected the notion of proclaiming Thanksgiving spirituals and prayers. But the truth is Jefferson was far from the modern-day secularist they make him out to be.

Sure, Jefferson was adamant (as we all should be) that there should be no federal subscription to any one form of religious sectarianism. That is largely what the First Amendment is all about -- establishing the free exercise of religion and restricting sectarian supremacy in government, as well as government intrusion in churches.

But secularists make two grave mistakes when it comes to Jefferson and the First Amendment. First, they misconstrue his understanding of separation. Second, they overlook how Jefferson himself endorsed and intermingled religion and politics, even during his two terms as president. Let me explain, as I believe it is a timely reminder, given that we are experiencing a new round of battles in our Christmas culture war, too.

The phrase "separation of church and state" actually comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists. He told them that no particular Christian denomination was going to have a monopoly in government. His words, "a wall of separation between Church & State," were not written to remove all religious practice from government or civic settings, but to prohibit the domination and even legislation of religious sectarianism.

Proof that Jefferson was not trying to rid government of religious (specifically Christian) influence comes from the fact that he endorsed the use of government buildings for church meetings and services, signed a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that allotted federal money to support the building of a Catholic church and to pay the salaries of the church's priests, and repeatedly renewed legislation that gave land to the United Brethren to help their missionary activities among the American Indians.

Some might be completely surprised to discover that just two days after Jefferson wrote his famous letter citing the "wall of separation between Church & State," he attended church in the place where he always had as president: the U.S. Capitol. The very seat of our nation's government was used for sacred purposes. As the Library of Congress' Web site notes, "It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church." Does that sound like someone who was trying to create an impenetrable wall of separation between church and state?

Let's face the present Thanksgiving facts. President Bush likely will give the last explicit Judeo-Christian Thanksgiving proclamation that Americans will hear for the next four to eight years, as President-elect Obama likely will coddle a form of godliness in his Thanksgiving addresses (if he indeed gives them) that appeases the masses with a deity that fits every politically correct dress.

But I'm an optimist. And because so much attention is being given right now by the media and the president-elect himself regarding his parallels to and lessons learned from President Abraham Lincoln, I recommend Obama heed Lincoln's Thanksgiving wisdom. Don't mince or water down the God of the Pilgrims, as is being done in public schools across this land through the retelling of the first Thanksgiving.

Obama doesn't even need a speechwriter for Thanksgiving 2009. He simply can recite Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, in which Lincoln thanked the Almighty for America's bountiful blessings and providential care despite enduring a war and grave economic hardships. The content seems divinely timed for even such a wintry season as our own:
"No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. . I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union."
Whatever your religious persuasion, don't hesitate this Thanksgiving to bow your head, give thanks to God, and follow Lincoln's advice. And when you do, don't forget to say a prayer for our troops and their families. While they serve us so we can serve our Thanksgiving feasts safely, the least we can do is serve them a little honor and remembrance.


Big Lies that Poison Thanksgiving and Subvert Our Sense of Honor

For some of Barack Obama's most ardent supporters, his resounding victory represented the first sign of redemption for a wretched, guilty nation with a 400-year history of oppression. Filmmaker Michael Moore, for instance, considered election night "a stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair. In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity." Actually, Mr. Moore's summary of America's origins is a wholly expected distortion, shocking in its mendacity. Like so many other revered figures in the worlds of entertainment and academia, the portly provocateur thoughtlessly recycles the darkest assumptions about the generous nation that provides his privileged, prosperous life.

My new book, "The 10 Big Lies About America," represents an aggressive effort to correct the ugly smears that play an increasingly prominent (and often unchallenged) role in our public discourse. Big Lie No. 1, for instance, concerns the ubiquitous notion that the nation's founders and builders followed a policy of "genocide" toward Native Americans. In truth, disease caused 95% of the deaths that ravaged native populations of North America following European contact. Despite lurid (but historically baseless) claims of massive infection brought about by "smallpox blankets," even the deadliest germs displayed no consciously hostile agenda.

In fact, intermarriage (including frequent intermarriage with African-Americans, slaves and free) and assimilation caused more Indian "losses" than all occasional massacres by governmental and irregular forces - incidents invariably condemned by federal authorities, never sponsored by them.

My book's Lie No. 2 precisely anticipates Moore's claim that America was "built on the backs of slaves," suggesting that our wealth and prosperity came chiefly through the stolen labor of kidnapped Africans. While slavery represented an undeniable horror in our nation's early history, the slave population never exceeded 20% of the national total (amounting to 12% at the time of the Civil War). This means that at least 80% of the work force remained free laborers.

The claim that our forefathers built America "on the backs of slaves" rests on the idiotic idea that involuntary servitude proved vastly more productive than free labor. In fact, the states dominated by the slave economy counted as the poorest, least developed in the union - providing the North with crushing economic superiority that brought victory in the War Between the States.

Of more than 20 million Africans taken from their homes in chains, at most 3% ever made their way to the territory of the United States (or the British colonies preceding our nation). Americans played no part in establishing the once-universal institution of slavery but played a leading, outsize role in bringing about its abolition.

Other lies about America's past badly distort current debates over public policy. It's not true, for instance, that governmental activism provides a necessary remedy for periodic economic downturns (Big Lie No. 6). In fact, leaders who courageously resisted the temptation of major federal initiatives at times of crisis presided over shorter, less painful recessions, while the ambitious innovations of Hoover and FDR worsened and prolonged the Great Depression. (Even liberal historians admit that the New Deal never worked as "a recovery program.")

Meanwhile, the popular assumption that our founders determined to create a secular, not a Christian, nation (Big Lie No. 3) has produced widespread hysteria over the program of "the Christian right." In fact, the constitutional framers insisted on a combination of a secular government and a deeply Christian society. Even Jefferson, an unconventional religious thinker, believed that fervent faith represented a necessary element in the security and growth of the republic; he personally attended and authorized weekly Christian services in the Capitol building itself.

Secular militants, not Christian conservatives, currently strive to transform America in a way our founders would neither recognize nor approve.

Unfortunately, some of the same religious conservatives who get it right about the place of organized faith in the American fabric get it terribly wrong by signing on to Big Lie No. 10: that the United States has entered into a steep - and irreversible - moral decline. In fact, a wealth of statistics concerning marriage, teenage sexuality, drug addiction, crime, alcohol abuse and other signs of social breakdown show a recent, decisive turnaround that may represent one of the nation's periodic "awakenings." Moralists have proclaimed permanent ethical collapse ever since 1645, yet no one could claim that our path has been straight downhill for 350 years.

The big lies about America all work to undermine the sense of honor and gratitude that ought to inspire every citizen, particularly in this Thanksgiving season. They also destroy the essential sense of perspective required in significant debates as a new government comes to power in Washington, D.C. While Sen. Obama's supporters rightly rejoice at his election to the nation's highest office, they will disorient his presidency and damage society if they embrace destructive distortions about our past, and view his elevation as a rare (or exclusive) basis for pride.


CA: Traditional kindergarten Thanksgiving celebration nixed because it's ...? "racist"

Some say having students dress up as pilgrims and Native Americans is 'demeaning.' Their opponents say they are elitists injecting politics into a simple children's celebration.

For decades, Claremont kindergartners have celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans and sharing a feast. But on Tuesday, when the youngsters meet for their turkey and songs, they won't be wearing their hand-made bonnets, headdresses and fringed vests. Parents in this quiet university town are sharply divided over what these construction-paper symbols represent: A simple child's depiction of the traditional (if not wholly accurate) tale of two factions setting aside their differences to give thanks over a shared meal? Or a cartoonish stereotype that would never be allowed of other racial, ethnic or religious groups?

"It's demeaning," Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, wrote to her daughter's teacher. "I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history."

Raheja, whose mother is a Seneca, wrote the letter upon hearing of a four-decade district tradition, where kindergartners at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools take annual turns dressing up and visiting the other school for a Thanksgiving feast. This year, the Mountain View children would have dressed as Native Americans and walked to Condit, whose students would have dressed as Pilgrims.

Raheja, an English professor at UC Riverside who specializes in Native American literature, said she met with teachers and administrators in hopes that the district could hold a public forum to discuss alternatives that celebrate thankfulness without "dehumanizing" her daughter's ancestry. "There is nothing to be served by dressing up as a racist stereotype," she said.

Last week, rumors began to circulate on both campuses that the district was planning to cancel the event, and infuriated parents argued over the matter at a heated school board meeting Thursday. District Supt. David Cash announced at the end of the meeting that the two schools had tentatively decided to hold the event without the costumes, and sent a memo to parents Friday confirming the decision.

Cash and the principals of Condit and Mountain View did not respond to interview requests. But many parents, who are convinced the decision was made before the board meeting, accused administrators of bowing to political correctness. Kathleen Lucas, a Condit parent who is of Choctaw heritage, said her son -- now a first-grader -- still wears the vest and feathered headband he made last year to celebrate the holiday. "My son was so proud," she said. "In his eyes, he thinks that's what it looks like to be Indian."

Among the costume supporters, there is a vein of suspicion that casts Raheja and others opposed to the costumes as agenda-driven elitists. Of the handful of others who spoke with Raheja against the costumes at the board meeting, one teaches at the University of Redlands, one is an instructor at Riverside Community College, and one is a former Pitzer College professor.

Raheja is "using those children as a political platform for herself and her ideas," Constance Garabedian said as her 5-year-old Mountain View kindergartner happily practiced a song about Native Americans in the background. "I'm not a professor and I'm not a historian, but I can put the dots together."

The debate is far from over. Some parents plan to send their children to school in costume Tuesday -- doubting that administrators will force them to take them off. The following day, some plan to keep their children home, costing the district attendance funds to punish them for modifying the event. "She's not going to tell us what we can and cannot wear," said Dena Murphy, whose 5-year-old son attends Mountain View. "We're tired of [district officials] cowing down to people. It's not right."

But others hoped that tempers would calm over the long holiday weekend, and the community could come together to have a fruitful discussion about Thanksgiving and its meaning. "Its always a good thing to think about, critically, how we teach kids, even from very young ages, the message we want them to learn, and the respect for the diversity of the American experiences," said Jennifer Tilton, an assistant professor of race and ethnic studies at the University of Redlands and a Claremont parent who opposes the costumes.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What the destruction of traditional British values has done to Britain

Officially Bulgaria may be the EU's most corrupt country, says Kapka Kassabova of her former home, but Britain is scarier

Let's go sightseeing. I live in a central Edinburgh neighbourhood called Broughton. It's the kind of neighbourhood where the deli, health-food shop and independent wine merchant are housed in Georgian buildings and rub smug shoulders in the daytime. The night-time is another matter, especially come Friday, when the belligerent drunk hordes from downtown trickle down Broughton Street.

If you were unfamiliar with native ways, you'd think you were walking through the aftermath of a small but vicious war. Rivulets of urine crisscross the pavements as you slalom between puddles of fresh vomit, discarded takeaway cartons smeared with ketchup, and the occasional survivor swooning in an alcoholic daze in some corner, watering the nearest pot plant. In the morning, everything is swept again.

Well, not everything. On a Saturday morning, it's normal to walk past the Calabrian restaurant and find its spotless window smashed. And the boutique next door, and the cafe next door to that. On a Sunday morning, it's normal to find all the cars parked in my street with their side mirrors smashed. It's normal to find the glass entrance to my building smashed, to have it fixed, and then smashed again. And so it goes in our pleasant neighbourhood. And when, in the middle of the night, I hear the pimply youths smash the entrance door downstairs yet again, I'm too scared to go and remonstrate. When I see a lad pissing in the street, I'm too scared to say: "Oi, this is not a public toilet". In my first year in Britain, I was foolish enough to do this, and nearly got my nose bloodied a few times for my civic behaviour. I've learnt my lesson now. I just turn the other way, walk faster, pretend it's not happening. That's the British way, right?

Since I arrived in Britain four years ago, casual knife crime has multiplied. I have become frightened of random violence - and cowardly too. If I see yobs attacking someone because he looked at them "funny", would I interfere? You bet I wouldn't. And yes, I hate myself for it.

Now let's zoom across Europe and visit Broughton's counterpart in central Sofia. My family has a small apartment there. The area is called White Birches, and the balconied buildings are indeed white, though there are few birches. This is a pricey area, and last year our building enjoyed a shoot-out between two drug-smuggling rings. The brisk illegal activity explains the expensive cars that line the potholed streets, along with the beauty salons, gyms and designer-furniture shops. In the evening, women chat on broken benches. At night, homeless dogs rummage in the overflowing rubbish containers next to the parked BMWs.

Bulgaria is officially the most corrupt country in the EU. Civil society is in its infancy. The ruling classes and the law are infiltrated by organised crime. "Other countries have the mafia," said a former counterintelligence chief, "but in Bulgaria, the mafia has the country." Some guides to Sofia advise you not to go into nightclubs frequented by "businessmen" with more than three bodyguards. These men are collectively named mutri, or mugs, and they sport Gucci sunglasses and big necks.

They might have the country, but they don't have the streets. Homeless dogs, putrefying rubbish and potholes aside, I'm never afraid to walk home in the dark from the tram stop. I'm never scared of finding some drunk pissing in a doorway, or having someone stick a knife in me for looking at them funny. The glass doorway to our building has never been smashed. Angry teenagers don't carry knives. They grow up and become mutri and then they carry guns. Poor, corrupt, post-totalitarian Bulgaria is much safer for the ordinary person on the street than wealthy, civic, post-empire Britain.

So what is going on? Alcohol, I think. Alcohol, too much money, and poor food culture. The average disaffected British youth has enough money to regularly buy a drink, a knife, and the latest mobile. His Bulgarian cousin has a family to fall back on but no extra cash. He is busy looking for work or emigrating. Destroying public property is a waste of time to him. Besides, in Bulgaria practically everyone except the mutri is disaffected, but practically nobody vomits in the streets.

Not that every yob here is disaffected. Most of them are very affected indeed, with their tailored shirts or hen-party outfits, until they throw up over each other. Britain boasts a centuries-long binge-drinking tradition. You drink on an empty stomach. You drink not to enjoy, but to forget who you are. Drunk sociopathy is the norm. Why, it's almost charming. It absolves you of all crimes, because by the time you've sobered up, you've forgotten everything, which is the whole point of the exercise.

And although the Friday-night yobs that turn Edinburgh into a vomitorium don't have the country in that they don't own the police and the law, they own something as important: the streets. The streets is where we spend a lot of our time. And if on weekend nights the streets are a war zone, what sort of civil society do we have? A rubbishy one, with the dogs of self-hate rummaging in it.


Stealth Jihad: How Islam is Infiltrating Your Neighborhood

What if Christians demanded the following:

1. If anyone around Christians at work or school eats pork then they would get fired or severely chastised because we believe that scarfing down pig really offends God (and of course his people). Yep, BLTs-according to our take on Christ's commands-really ticks him off and therefore bacon should be banned. Not only that, but any food that has even trace amounts of Porky the Pig in it must be verboten and banished from our presence everywhere we go because we're Christians, and Christians don't dine on swine. This means Jell-O shots at Tu-Tu-Tango's and Jell-O served to kids at school ceases to be because Jell-O, hello, contains a wee little bit of a wee little pig, and this pisseth the Lord our God off!

2. All public schools must have several regularly scheduled 15 minute breaks throughout the school day for Christians to roll out their TBN prayer rugs and pray for revival. If not, we will raise Cain and Abel.

3. Public schools must become sex-segregated so that we, the washed, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost and fire crowd won't be sorely tempted to swap spit with the hot Daisy Mae looking chick in pottery class. Matter of fact, why don't public schools just carve out for us Christians a special school within the school, lest we become sullied via association with the unwashed masses and other religious persuasions, which we utterly detest. Howzabout that, mamasita?

4. Any and all the stupid, violent or sexually weird stuff that misguided Christians have done and are doing is to be scrubbed from the historical record, and the only thing that gets reported and taught is that we are the most peaceful, perfect people to ever schlep this planet. Anyone who thinks or speaks to the contrary will get the stink eye and be called a hater. Indeed, all criticism of Christians should be banned, and those who bring up our foibles, draw unfavorable cartoons of us, and don't parrot our squeaky-clean spin get branded as bigots or Christophobes and should be threatened with prison.

5. Footbaths are to be installed in whichever universities my brethren and I attend (at the public's expense) because Jesus was into foot washing, so I want a footbath, dammit! And if this means tuition gets hiked up to provide this for all Christians on campus, well . . . tough. I don't care. My feet must be ritually washed, or Jesus gets angry-and when he gets angry, people die.

6. Any video games that Sony or whoever puts out that might accidentally offend Christians must be 86'ed. However, if other religions get offended via video it's okay, just as long as my flavor ain't disssed, can you dig it?

7. We must receive exemptions from the IRS from paying interest on back taxes because that's against Christianity.

8. When the Christian church accidentally yields up a violent vocal dillweed from our ranks who hates America and is on the State Department's terrorist watch list, instead of throwing that loopy bastard in prison we demand that the U.S. Army make him a sergeant. Capice?

9. Encourage the Christian high school student who wants to assassinate our President by giving him the "Most Likely to Become a Martyr" award during graduation.

10. Make students in the public school system who don't believe in Jesus memorize portions of the Gospel of John, adopt Christian names and shout in the classroom, "I love Jesus, yes I do. I love Jesus. How `bout you?!"

Would any of points 1- 10 tick you secularists, atheists and agnostics off?

If Christians ever attempted any of the above they would be righteously ridiculed, castigated and condemned by the MSM, school administrators, cartoonists, talk radio, the blogosphere, Rosie, the coven on the View, religious leaders, the ACLU, Alec Baldwin and president elect Barack Obama. All of the aforementioned people would land on our crotch firmly with both feet. Heck, Christians can't even say "merry Christmas," cheer on traditional marriage, or champion the life of an unborn baby without being called Hitler, haters of humanity and intolerant bigots of other people's values. But Islam can.

Yep, Islam is making outrageous demands upon American life and culture, and we're bending over and taking it from them, though we would be insanely intolerant of any other religious group-especially Christians-who had such particular and peculiar demands.

In Stealth Jihad, Islam expert and New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer blows the whistle on a long-term plot by Islamic Jihadists to undermine the United States. According to Spencer, this effort aims not to bring America to its knees through attacks with guns or bombs, but to subvert the country from within-by gradually Islamizing America. The ultimate goal, the stealth jihadists themselves declare, is nothing less than the adoption of Islamic law in the United States, that's all!

BTW . . . this is already happening, and Robert shows the reader in blistering detail how American liberties are having to bow and kiss the ring of Islamic rules and regulations. Indeed, the stealth jihadists are already warm and snuggly within the American political, educational and media landscapes.

My advice, boys and girls, is . . . buy Bob's book, drink a red bull, wake the heck up and fight for your liberties not to be walked on by anyone anywhere.

One last ditty for the skeptics who don't think "it" could happen here: I'm sure that's what the Brits thought 20 years ago. Red Bull, anyone?


British Tories keen on allowing the return of a clip round the ear

Long overdue

The police would be formally discouraged from taking action against adults who tackle misbehaving youngsters under a Conservative government, Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Home Secretary, reveals today. Fear of legal action, not violence, holds most people back from confronting antisocial behaviour, Mr Grieve said in an interview with The Times. He said that the recent arrest of a father for smacking his seven-year-old son highlighted the need to reassert adults' rights to remonstrate with misbehaving children.

"The key issue is that if you turn up at an incident where children have been misbehaving and adults have intervened [and] the child says, `That man slapped me', and there is no visible mark on him, do you say, `This is a very serious matter and I'm taking you down to the police station', or do you say this is something that, historically, people have the discretion to do?

"If someone appears with a black eye or a bruise, or has been beaten with something, that's a completely different thing from someone making an assertion that that adult touched me in the course of telling me not to misbehave," he added. Mr Grieve also criticised ministers for failing to challenge Muslim groups when they gave platforms to extremists and holocaust deniers.


Barnardo's bunkum

Do British adults really look upon children as `vermin'. or did the charity find what it wanted to find in its latest public survey?

`It is appalling that words like "animal", "feral" and "vermin" are used daily in reference to children', said Martin Narey, the chief executive of the children's charity Barnardo's, as he unveiled a new survey this week which apparently shows that adults in Britain suffer from an `unjustified and disturbing intolerance of children' (1).

Yet who was it that introduced these foul words into the public debate about kids? Barnardo's itself! It was the pollsters employed by Barnardo's to survey 2,021 people who asked loaded questions about whether children can be viewed as `feral', even as `animals', who are `infesting' our streets.

What Narey, and the subsequent media coverage, implicitly presented as a groundswell of intolerant prejudice against animalistic children is nothing of the sort. Rather, Barnardo's has carried out a shameless piece of advocacy research, designed to discover the prejudices that it is convinced (by its own prejudicial outlook) are lurking within the adult population.

The media have had a field day with Barnardo's survey findings. `Britons fear and loathe "feral" children', says Reuters. Some media outlets have taken the research as evidence that adults have a warped view of kids (see the Guardian, for example), while others have welcomed it with open arms as confirmation that British yoof really are going to hell in a handcart. `Half of British adults are scared of children who "behave like feral animals"', screeched the Daily Mail (2).

The coverage all springs from Barnardo's press release, titled `The shame of Britain's intolerance of children'. It tells us that `more than a third (35%) of people agree that nowadays it feels like the streets are infested with children'. Something about that wording doesn't ring true. Have you ever heard anyone say the streets are `infested' with kids? I haven't, either. But then, no member of the public volunteered to Barnardo's the view that Britain's streets are `infested'. Rather, the image of `infestation' was introduced by the Barnardo's-employed pollsters.

They put the following statement to their 2,021 respondents, `Nowadays it feels like the streets are infested with children', and asked them to agree or disagree. How is one supposed to respond to such a bald, black-and-white statement, where there's no room for manoeuvre? What if you are, say, an elderly person who thinks there probably are too many kids hanging around on street corners, when they could be in youth centres or on football pitches instead, but you would not necessarily use the word `infested'? Do you say `agree' or `disagree' to the survey statement?

In the event, eight per cent `strongly agreed' and 27 per cent `agreed', adding up to Barnardo's total of `35 percent' who think the streets are infested with children. A large majority, 46 per cent, `disagreed'; and strikingly, 14 per cent `strongly disagreed', almost twice the number who `strongly agreed'. Maybe some of this 60 per cent who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea that Britain's streets are infested with children were thinking to themselves: `What a disgusting sentiment. Why am I being asked this question?

Even worse, having introduced the noxious notion that Britain's streets are `infested', and found that some people seemed to agree, the chief executive of Barnardo's then went on to say that `it is appalling. that words like "vermin" are used daily in reference to children' (3). Are they really? The survey doesn't mention `vermin' and so far as we know none of the respondents volunteered the belief that children are verminous. Rather, Barnardo's is extrapolating from its already loaded question about `infestation' the loaded idea that British adults have an `unjustified and disturbing' view of children as `vermin'. No we don't. You just think we do.

The question on whether children are `feral' was even more convoluted. `Most adults think children are feral', claimed the newspaper headlines, as if Barnardo's had uncovered a scientifically measurable prejudice against young people (4). In fact, Barnardo's put the following statement to its respondents: `People refer to children as feral but I don't think they behave this way. Do you agree or disagree?'

Eh? Come again? I write and edit words for a living, and even I was bamboozled by this statement. Does one say agree or disagree to the first part (`People refer to children as feral') or the second part (`But I don't think they behave this way')? It took me a couple of minutes to work out that I would say `agree'. Forty-two per cent of respondents agreed with Barnardo's statement (that is, they agree that people refer to children as feral but don't think that is a useful description), while 45 per cent disagreed with Barnardo's statement, which presumably means they think children are in some way feral (at least I think it does; I'm confused again). Not surprisingly, 13 per cent said `Don't know', which was by far the highest `Don't know' response for the whole survey. If there had been a choice that said `I have no idea what you are talking about', I imagine it would have been selected by, ooh, at least 20 per cent of the respondents.

Whatever this bizarre question on feral children tells us - about Barnardo's scribes; about the illiteracy of pollsters; about the duplicity of advocacy research - it does not scientifically prove that `most adults think children are feral'. Just as the responses to the loaded statement `British children are beginning to behave like animals' - with that horrid animal image being projected on to public debate by Barnardo's itself - does not tell us everything, or anything really, about how adults view, interact with and care for children.

The black-and-white nature of Barnardo's questioning must have also proved problematic in relation to the issue of `professional help'. The following statement was put to the respondents: `Children who get into trouble are often misunderstood and in need of professional help.' Forty-nine per cent of respondents disagreed, and this was held up in Barnardo's press release as evidence that adults are not sufficiently sympathetic to the plight of children. On the other hand, the response might signal a healthy suspicion towards `professional help'. Certainly the mums and dads among the 2,021 respondents might kick against the idea that troubled children need outside intervention rather than discipline or care within the family home.

Barnardo's has simply found what it wanted to find: that British adults don't understand children, and in fact even fear and loathe them, and thus we need expert charities to educate the British public about how wonderful children are and how we should look after them. Charities like, oh I don't know, Barnardo's maybe? It is telling - in the extreme - that these survey results were released just a few days before Barnardo's is set to launch its first-ever TV advertising campaign calling upon us all to `stop demonising children'. How convenient to discover that `most British adults' demonise children just before you launch a campaign against the demonisation of children. The gods have smiled on Barnardo's.

It is of course true that adult society has a somewhat fraught and even fearful relationship with young people today. As a consequence of a growing sense of insecurity, and a collapse of adult solidarity, young people are increasingly looked upon as either vulnerable victims or potentially violent tearaways. This view of youth is stoked by politicians, the media and even children's charities, all of whom feed us a constant diet of anti-social behaviour scares, stories about chavs, slags, gangs and knives, and concerns that childhood obesity and binge-drunkenness will turn our children into feckless adults. However, this does not mean that adults think children are vermin or animals that are infesting our streets. And by squeezing today's difficult relationship between adult society and young people into this moralistic straitjacket, in which everything is reposed as a war between dumb adults and victimised children, Barnardo's is only making matters worse.

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by Barnardo's advocacy research. This is a charity (founded in 1867) that has long relied upon presenting children as victims and adults as buffoons. As one study of Barnardo's early years in Victorian times says, `Barnardo's philanthropic narratives' set out to `popularise the plight of poor children. while simultaneously casting the adult poor out of the English community and calling into question their basic rights to citizenship' (5). Today, too, Barnardo's is popularising the idea that children are victims while questioning adults' moral priorities. All the better to boost the fortunes of a charity that loves to play the role of in loco parentis.



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, OBAMA WATCH (2), 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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.