Wednesday, December 31, 2008

British council disregards objections to gypsy camp from 3,000 residents -- as 'they are racist'

When residents were asked to provide feedback on council plans to build traveller camps on their doorstep they dutifully responded. More than 3,000 homeowners filled in forms outlining their views, many raising concerns over a possible increase in noise, traffic, rubbish and a detrimental effect on property prices. However, such objections were not appreciated by Mid-Bedfordshire District Council, which partially or fully rejected nearly nine in ten of the replies for including comments 'of a racist nature'.

Weeks after asking for residents' views earlier this year, the council posted an article on its website entitled 'Racist Comments Not Welcome'. It claimed the council's 'duty of community leadership' meant it had to crack down on the use of racial stereotypes, and revealed that while 400 responses would be considered, 3,100 were in some way racist and would be rejected. The council even sent letters to objectors telling them their views had been deemed offensive and would not be taken account of.

Retired company secretary Lucy Clarke from Stotfold - one of the six small towns and villages mooted as sites for the 25 traveller families - was astounded to receive her letter. Mrs Clarke, a grandmother of three, said: 'As far as I am aware I objected to the camp for entirely reasonable grounds. And yet I then get this letter from the council. 'They even accused me of incitement to racial hatred. It's ridiculous - like putting me on a par with Abu Hamza.' She added: 'I am not racist, but I am concerned about what one of these camps could do to our town.'

Even the local town council could not avoid falling foul of the censors. Brian Collier, chairman of Stotfold council said: 'We wrote a detailed response in which we summarised locals' concerns. 'There is another gipsy site not far from here that has a well-known crime problem. 'As part of our response we echoed people's worries that the same may happen here. 'We were totally shocked when we then received a letter from the district council saying that was racist. There are lots of people here who have had the same treatment.'

The district council's attitude has been criticised by local campaigners, politicians and civil liberties groups. Tory communities spokesman Eric Pickles said yesterday: 'I hope that they write a letter of apology to everyone they have accused of being racist. Otherwise, people simply aren't going to feel able to object to these camps without the fear of being branded racist.'

When contacted by the Daily Mail, a spokesman for Mid-Bedfordshire council admitted that it had been 'somewhat overzealous'. He said: 'We were worried that many of the letters contained racist slurs and objectionable comments that we felt could not be published under current race relations legislation. 'We had no intention of offending those who took the time to respond to the consultation and certainly were not trying to label residents as racist. 'Only a small proportion (around 5 per cent) of the comments were actually discounted in their entirety. The remainder were taken into consideration, either in whole or in part.'


British children banned from carrying candles in church - it may be safer, but isn't life supposed to be fun?

You may be sick of health and safety stories, but I am going to tell you a new one anyway. And this one is particularly monstrous. There is a very pretty disused estate church in Northamptonshire where an annual carol service is held on Christmas Eve, attended by some 250 people. Everybody holds aloft a candle, which makes a lovely sight. This year, however, this little event was blighted by a decree from the church commissioners that no child under the age of 15 could be allowed to hold a lighted candle: the safety risk was deemed unacceptable. As if that wasn't enough, the service then started with the reading of formal instructions about exits in the event of fire, a completely potty notion in a tiny old church with only one door.

And here's another story just as farcical. A few months ago, an engineer called at our house to correct a telephone line fault. He eventually announced that he must go away and return another day because the job would require a long ladder. I told him he could use our ladder. Sorry, he said, he would need another man to hold it while he climbed. I volunteered. 'Sorry,' he said again. 'You're not trained.'

Trained? To hold a ladder? This is madness, but a madness which all of us experience almost every day. It is sometimes claimed, not least by that iniquitous Stalinist body the Health & Safety Executive, that stories such as these are invented or exaggerated. They are not. Such things are happening all around us. Visiting the Army in Afghanistan in October, I was dismayed to hear that even on the battlefield, the spectre of health and safety rears its head, adding severely to the burden of commanders trying to conduct an exceptionally rough campaign.

The Oxfordshire coroner who conducts most of the inquests into British soldiers killed in action, and often delivers fierce criticisms of the Ministry of Defence in his judgments, thinks that he speaks and acts in the interests of our soldiers and their families. In reality, however, he often makes pronouncements that reflect his own ignorance of the realities of war. And in so doing, he makes the task of fighting the Taliban that much harder.

Let me give you an example. Weighed down with body armour, helmet, pack and rifle, it is hard to run for any distance in the intense Afghan heat - especially when under fire. Earlier this year, commanding officers discussed whether, in special circumstances, men might be allowed to discard their body armour for short periods to enable them to move faster against a lightly-clad and nimble enemy. The final verdict was that this was unacceptable. They decided that if a soldier should be killed when not wearing full protective gear, the Oxfordshire coroner would have a field day. He would almost certainly denounce the irresponsibility of officers who had failed in their duty of care.

It is hard to fight battles under such constraints. Air Marshal Lord Tedder, Eisenhower's deputy in World War II, said wisely: 'War is organised confusion.' And he was right. British officers care passionately about the welfare and survival of their men. The pain of losing a comrade is very great. It is harsh to superimpose upon this the prospect of being denounced in a coroner's court by a civilian who has never heard a shot fired in anger. And it is absurd to apply to the circumstances of the battlefield the same sort of criteria that are applied to a factory accident.

But wars aside, we must keep exposing and denouncing such follies as a ban on children carrying candles at a carol service. If we allow them to pass unremarked, the excesses of health and safety will go on and on, each day squeezing some new little moment of pleasure out of our existences. What is at stake is common sense. We must be allowed to live our lives without constant interruptions from an officialdom obsessed with the belief that every detail of the domestic round needs regulation.

Much of the trouble lies with the courts. If, for example, my telephone engineer falls off his ladder, he will almost certainly sue his employer and anybody else in sight. If regulations are found to have been breached, if there is the smallest hint that anybody in a position of responsibility was negligent, massive compensation will be awarded. Judges often seem willing to strike bold attitudes, for instance in sticking up for the rights of Muslim extremists to preach jihad, who then escape deportation, and receive generous cheques from social services into the bargain. Yet those same judges, together with tribunals which adjudicate in many compensation cases, lack the courage to fight for common sense.

Many claims deserve to be kicked straight into the long grass. But the view prevails that cash paid out by public bodies or insurance companies is not real money. It can be distributed with reckless abandon to victims of misfortunes, often in amounts larger than they could have earned in a lifetime of labour. Thus fear of litigation causes public bodies and private companies alike to impose ever sillier and more draconian restrictions on people's daily behaviour. They are terrified of being held responsible if somebody trips over a paving stone on their patch.

We, the British, often claim to take pride in our warrior heritage. Yet we are making ourselves ever more timid and cowardly. Many of us in our teens did Outward Bound courses - I myself once ran one at school. They were tremendously popular with the young because they fed our enthusiasm for adventure. I tremble to imagine what today's Outward Bound courses are like.

After a fatal canoeing accident at a school in the John Major era, new legislation was introduced. And such activities are now hedged by thick entanglements of rules designed to strip out any of the risk which we so loved. One day when, as a newspaper editor, I met the Prime Minister, I suggested that the new law was too restrictive. He responded: 'Can you imagine what everybody would have said if there had been another Outward Bound accident and we had done nothing?'

For once, I sympathised with Major. The blame culture was not invented by governments, but they feel compelled to respond to its reality. I suppose it is a sign of retarded adolescence, that even at my advanced age I still love taking risks, a joy enhanced by the feeling that I am striking back at the Health & Safety Executive. I relish ladders and chainsaws, working on the roof, and bicycling without one of those hideous helmets.

When my children were younger, I hope that I was not an irresponsible parent. But I encouraged them to climb trees, bungee jump - and carry candles at carol services. Life is supposed to be fun. In any sensible society, learning to accept responsibility for our own actions, and sometimes for painful consequences, is an essential part of growing up. Unless we fight every new manifestation of the health and safety brigade's excesses, we may become a fractionally safer society - but we shall also evolve into an unbearably dull one.


The welfare system is a monster that is slowly destroying Britain...

The year that lies ahead threatens to be one of the most grim in all British history. Hundreds of thousands of us look certain to lose our jobs, most through absolutely no fault of our own. According to some estimates, that figure may even reach a million. For some of us, the prospect is grimmer still. We will not be able to keep up our mortgage payments, and so lose our homes, as well.

This series of disasters, however, is likely to befall only those who have made the mistake of working in the private sector. Those employed in Britain's bloated public sector are pretty well immune from the effects of the economic downturn. The same applies to that section of the population-an estimated 4.8 million people-who are already dependent on out-of-work benefits.

Some of these, of course, live in genuine poverty and deserve all the help they get. But others enjoy a surprising level of affluence. As the Daily Mail revealed yesterday, an amazing 140,000 households collect more from the benefit system than they would if they earned the national average wage. Each of these families receives state handouts worth 20,000 pounds a year, or even more. However, they are not taxed on this income, meaning that their real take-home pay is worth the equivalent of someone bringing home the national average salary of 25,100 before tax-and in some cases it is considerably higher even than that.

This is obscene. Nobody-apart from a handful of deranged free-marketeers who yearn for a return to the brutality of the Victorian era-is opposed to state benefits. Our modern welfare state, drawn up by William Beveridge during World War II, is the mark of a truly civilised society. Its purpose is to ensure that Britain should never return to the horrifying levels of poverty and suffering that were part of ordinary life during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Indeed, we have rarely needed Beveridge's system of social protection as much as we do today, facing as we do the greatest economic catastrophe for three- quarters of a century.

However, it has been clear for some time that something has gone desperately wrong with William Beveridge's system. During the years immediately following World War II it admirably performed the task it was supposed to do-and gave temporary protection to those workers who, through no fault of their own, were made unemployed. Instead of being forced into the workhouse, as might have happened in the 1930s, they were allowed to maintain their human dignity. But, slowly, the system was distorted.

Partly, this was the fault of politicians. National insurance payments, for example, were soon debased so that it ceased to be a pool of money set aside for a rainy day, and instead became just another form of income tax. And, inevitably, idle and feckless workers started to take full advantage of the benefits system. Rather than use it as a system of social insurance, they started to regard it as a well-paid alternative to going out to work.

A good example is the British system of disability benefit. This was set up from the most noble and splendid of motives-so that people who were unable to work for health reasons should not suffer financially because of their disability. Unfortunately, the work-shy soon spotted that disability benefit was also the perfect excuse for idleness, while being paid for staying at home-and often doing a little extra on the black market. Today, an astonishing 2.7 million men and women are claiming incapacity benefit-equivalent to one in 15 people of working age in Britain. Many of these disability claims are obviously fake.

Indeed, David Freud, the former banker who advises the Government on welfare issues, reckons that approximately two-thirds of those claiming incapacity benefit are capable of going out to work. Freud estimates that a staggering number-he reckons about 185,000-work illegally while on benefit. Tragically, no government has ever tried to make them go out to work legally. Some ministers have actually preferred to collude with a system which effectively defrauds the public. The reason is utterly shameful-people who are claiming incapacity benefit do not register as unemployed. They therefore keep the jobless figures down, enabling governments to boast about their economic success.

Another scam is housing benefit. Once again, no decent person would ever complain about the idea behind housing benefit-namely to keep people who cannot fend for themselves off the streets. Yet, once again, the system has been milked by the feckless and greedy, often with the collaboration of incompetent or corrupt local councils-consider the recent case in West London where an immigrant family lives in a large townhouse worth approximately 2,000 pounds in rent a week.

Last week a report by the Institute Of Fiscal Studies concluded (unsurprisingly) that the over-generous benefits system has created a baby boom. It estimated that an extra 45,000 children a year have been born to young mothers since the 'unprecedented rise' in child benefits, free housing and family tax credits made it 'economically attractive' to have more and more babies.

This complex situation of benefits has created a situation which was the exact opposite of what Beveridge intended. He aimed to create a system which would enable men and woman to get by while they looked for another job. But the modern British benefits system is now so complex, so incompetently administered, so corrupt and, in some cases, so generous that it is actually a disincentive to people going out to look for work. The rewards for staying idle are so great that, perversely, men and women on benefits can be better off staying at home.

A recent study showed that around 60,000 poorly paid workers offered the choice of working more hours would effectively be taxed by an extra 90 per cent on the extra income. In other words, the welfare system Britain has devised today rewards idleness and punishes hard work. The effects of this are already being felt. It is scarcely 60 years since the end of World War II, and yet there are already housing estates where practically no one goes to work. The only source of income is the State, and there are generations of families none of whom have ever had experience of the workplace.

This is not merely immensely damaging to the British economy. It is also desperately unfair. Those people who have always worked hard and paid their taxes find themselves being heavily penalised for their efforts-while those who cheat and skive get rewarded. In the long term, this is a very dangerous situation. It brings the British system of social insurance-one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century-into disrepute. Ordinary, decent, hardworking people will start to ask whether they can support a system which so blatantly rewards the workshy and the idle.

Eleven years ago, when Labour first came to power, Tony Blair claimed that only Labour could reform the welfare system-and he promised to do so. But he never had the guts. He and his Chancellor Gordon Brown preferred to keep the blatant sham of disability benefit because it so conveniently hid the true level of unemployment. It is a tragic wasted opportunity. It would have been fairly easy to prune the bloated welfare state when jobs were plentiful over the past decade-but next to impossible now that that the job losses mount.

Writing more than 2,000 years ago, a Roman politician made the following observation: 'The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.' These words were uttered by Cicero in 55BC. Today they are every bit as apposite.


Ahmadinejad Christmas message on Britain's Channel 4

The Left are always banging on about the importance of sensitivity and making people feel "comfortable" but display precious little of any of that themselves

Channel 4 has long revelled in its puerile desire to shock but now it has plumbed new depths of indecency, perpetrating an act of sickening and gratuitous -offen-siveness. On the most -significant day in the Christian calendar it broadcast a so-called "alternative Christmas message" by Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an -Islamic fundamentalist whose regime is notorious for oppression, cruelty and anti-Semitism.

C4 has displayed utter contempt for the values of our Judaeo-Christian civilisation, treating a precious moment in our religious heritage as an opportunity for the usual anti-Western, Marxist point-scoring which passes for thinking in Left-wing circles. In the context of issuing a Christmas broadcast it is hard to imagine a less appropriate figure than President -Ahmadinejad, whose vicious theo-cracy has never shown the slightest inclination towards peace and goodwill.

To hear him last night preaching about justice and the need to fight tyranny was nauseating in the extreme. His government has promoted a brutal form of militant Islam, persecuted women, hounded Christians, and sponsored terrorism. - Despite presiding over mass poverty it has sought to build its own deadly nuclear arsenal, creating permanent tension in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad, himself drenched in the crudest form of anti-Semitism, has called for Israel to be "wiped off the face of the earth" and questioned whether the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews ever took place.

Others accused of Holocaust denial, such as historian David Irving, end up in prison. Ahmadinejad is given a prime-time Christmas Day slot on C4.

The station has an -unedifying track record of deliberately stirring up rows, particularly through the psychological freak show known as Big Brother. It has also frequently used Christmas Day as a chance to parade its disdain for the traditional -values of our culture. Two years ago the Christmas message came from a Muslim woman trumpeting her right to wear the full veil. But the -Ahmadinejad broadcast is a desperate new low. The -channel has moved from mere controversy into a sneering, treacherous rejection of all that decent Britons hold dear at this time of year.

Only in the warped mindset of an ultra-trendy, oh-so--progressive TV executive would it be deemed suitable to allow one of world's most dangerous and fanatical leaders to spout his deceitful nonsense about peace. What do C4 have lined up for next Christmas? Robert Mugabe on compassion? Kim Jong Il of North Korea on -freedom and democracy? One can imagine the excited conversations which must have taken place within C4's management before the decision was made to invite the Iranian President. "What can we do for a real outrage this year? -Ahmadinejad?

The Holocaust denier, talking on the day of -Jesus's birth? Brilliant. That'll really make a stir." The -station's executives are like a bunch of adolescent, Left-wing students, titillated by the justifiable -anger they provoke, revelling in their self-created image as -daring iconoclasts who -challenge the establishment. The absurdity of their stance is that they are an integral part of the establishment. After all, C4 is a public corporation, owned by the Government. But instead of receiving a genuine public service we have these continual displays of immature rebellion by over-paid attention seekers who think there is something original about their predictable anti-British dogma.

In 1940 George Orwell wrote of the classic Left-wing intellectuals who felt "that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution." He -described these anti-patriots as occupying "a sort of island of dissident thought". Tragically, they are no longer dissidents but are running C4.

What is equally repulsive is their epic hypocrisy. They delight in undermining Christianity and Judaism but then display a fawning reverence for Islam. They would not dream of -allowing a Muslim holy day to be hijacked by a message from a Christian fundamentalist. The same appalling double standards are just as clear in the utterings of Ahmadinejad. While lecturing us about spiritual faith, he would not tolerate for a moment an address from an Israeli rabbi about Iran's -duties to the world.

Moreover, he had the nerve to claim that if Jesus were alive today he would be campaigning against supposed Western imperialism. Yet no one in Britain can utter a squeak about Prophet -Mohammed without the threat of riots, mayhem and jihads.

It is grotesque to be hectored about peace by the world's most outspoken political advocate of a violent creed that has brought such terrible carnage over the past decade. "Love thy neighbour," the central message of the Christian gospel, is an idea -entirely alien to Islamic hardliners bent on the global -triumph of their dogma. There is an alarming parallel between the Nazis of the Thirties and today's Islamist zealots.

Morbidly anti-Semitic, stuck in a mentality of grievance, wallowing in manufactured victimhood, obsessed with submission to dictatorial authority, wailing about the iniquities of American-led capitalism, consumed by superstition and brutish -ritual, Nazism was as much a menace as Islamism is today. Like Ahmadinejad, Adolf Hitler ranted about his desire for peace but warned this could never be achieved until the "Jewish problem" was resolved.

For C4 to broadcast a message of "peace" from Ahmadinejad is the modern equivalent of the Thirties BBC giving a Christmas Day slot to Hitler. The morality of broadcasting in Britain has been sinking rapidly in recent years, as reflected in the scandal over Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross. But it has never before reached such levels of soullessness as C4 did last night.



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

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

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


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A woman on every fire engine ... the latest demand from the British PC brigade

Fire chiefs will have to put at least one woman on each fire engine to meet diversity guidelines. New targets say that at least 15 per cent of those in operational roles should be female. That means they will fill one of the five or six places for crew on each engine. Officials at the Local Government Association, which is pressing the quotas on fire authorities, said that an increased number of women firemen is necessary 'to meet the needs of local people'.

But critics warn that they are placing their targets above the need for fitness and strength. Susie Squire, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Introducing this sort of quota to the fire service is a big mistake. If ever there was a job that should be awarded on merit and physical fitness, it is that of a firefighter. 'It is ludicrous that political correctness is being put above the ability to save lives.' She added: 'This quota system will not only cost taxpayers money by introducing additional and unnecessary administration, but could risk the safety of all of us in the long run.'

At present fewer than one in ten firemen are women even in the brigades with the highest proportion of females in operational jobs. Those with the least women employ proportions of around 3 per cent. In an attempt to address this, local councillors who are appointed to serve on the fire authorities will be asked to sign up to the 'diversity charter'. One of the pledges they are expected to make is to 'work to achieve recruitment targets of at least 15 per cent for women in operational roles'. They are also asked to work towards minority ethnic representation at the same level as that in the working age population of the area. At present just over 3 per cent of firemen are from ethnic minority groups.

Anthony Duggan, head of fire services at the Local Government Association, said: 'The fire service needs to be representative of the area it serves. It is important that the fire service attracts more women and ethnic minorities so that it can work more effectively in partnership with local authorities and other organisations to meet the needs of local people.' Mr Duggan called for a 'culture change' and said that asking authority members to sign the diversity charter 'will show that those who are making the strategic decisions are serious about getting a greater mix of people working in the service'.


Morally corrupt: Britain's bishops deplore Labour's scandalous rule

There is no denying the reality of what the Bishops describe

Leading Church of England bishops have accused the British Government of being "morally corrupt" and delivered a damning verdict on Labour's rule. Five of the church's most senior figures said the Government presided over a country suffering family breakdown, an unhealthy reliance on debt and a growing financial divide. The bishops of Durham, Winchester, Manchester, Carlisle and Hulme said government ministers had squandered their opportunity to transform society, introducing policies that exacerbated inequality and hardship. Labour had sacrificed principled politics and long-term solutions to win votes, they argued, describing the Government as tired and its policies as scandalous.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader, David Cameron, accused the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, of leading the country to the brink of bankruptcy, saying the "debt crisis", which he blamed solely on the Government, would serve as Mr Brown's political epitaph.

Although speaking independently in a series of newspaper interviews, the bishops' common criticisms reflect the deepening rift between the Government and the church on social and moral issues. Relations have become increasingly fractious following condemnation of Mr Brown's spending plans by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and a report accusing the Government of marginalising the church.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Tom Wright, said ministers had not done enough to help the poor. "When a big bank or car company goes bankrupt, it gets bailed out, but no one seems to be bailing out the ordinary people who are losing their jobs and seeing their savings diminished."


The state of nature is not a state of pacifism


Reveries about human perfection do not exist solely in the enthusiastic systems confected by Karl Marx, or in the REM sleep of Hugo Ch vez, or through the utopian certainties of millenarians. There has been a persistent belief through countless societies that life is better, much better, somewhere else. In some yet-unfound reality there is an expression of our best natures -- our loving, peaceful, lyrically fair human core.

Anthropologists have been at the center of this quest, its practitioners sailing off to find that elusive core of perfection everywhere else corrupted by civilization. In the 1920s, Margaret Mead found it in Samoa, where the people, she said, enjoyed untroubled lives. Adolescents in particular were not bothered by the sexual hang-ups that plague our repressive society. Decades later an Australian researcher, Derek Freeman, retraced her work and successfully challenged its validity. Still, Mead's work and that of others reinforced the notion that our way of life was artificial, inauthentic, just plain wrong.

Enter primatology, which provided yet more questions about essential hominid nature -- and from which species we could, perhaps, derive guidance about our inner core. First studied in the wild were the baboons, which turned out to have harsh power politics and sexual inequity. Then Jane Goodall brought back heartwarming film of African chimps who were loving, loyal, fine mothers, with none of the militarism of the big bad baboons. But her subjects were well fed, and didn't need to scratch for a living in their traditional way. Later it became clear that chimps in fact formed hunting posses. They tore baby baboons they captured limb from limb, and seemed to enjoy it.

Where to look now for that perfect, pacifistic and egalitarian core? Franz de Waal, a talented and genial primatologist, observed the behavior of bonobos at Emory University's primate lab in the 1980s. These chimpanzees, he found, engaged in a dramatic amount of sexual activity both genital and oral, heterosexual and homosexual -- and when conflicts threatened to arise a bout of sex settled the score and life went on. Bonobos made love, not war. No hunting, killing, male dominance, or threats to the sunny paradise of a species so closely related to us. His research attracted enormous attention outside anthropology. Why not? How can this lifestyle not be attractive to those of us struggling on a committee, in a marriage, and seeking lubricious resolution?

Alas, Mr. de Waal also hadn't studied his species in the wild. And, with a disappointing shock in some quarters, for the past five years bonobos have been studied in their natural habitat in a national park in the Congo. There, along with colleagues, Gottfried Hohman of the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig has seen groups of bonobos engage in clearly willful and challenging hunts. Indeed, female bonobos took full part in the some 10 organized hunts which have been observed thus far. Another paradise lost.

Reveries about hidden human perfection centered in primate life have been sharply curtailed by what we've learned about the Malibu ape -- when it seeks its own food, doesn't live in an easy-hook-up dormitory, and may confront severe challenges in life. Bonobo, we hardly know you.


Modern Feminism's Matriarch Unmasked

This is an article from 1999 but what it relates still seems little known

Betty Friedan's 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, is often credited with launching the modern feminist movement in America. Claiming that too many women lived unfulfilling lives trapped as housewives, Friedan called for women to seek opportunities outside the home. One reader humorously wrote to Friedan, "To arms, sisters! You have nothing to lose but your vacuum cleaners." Her book eventually sold millions of copies and is currently required reading in hundreds of college courses worldwide. Friedan would later play a leading role in founding the National Organization for Women and other groups promoting "women's liberation" and feminism.

Central to the appeal of The Feminine Mystique was the idea that the author was writing from experience. American women purchased the book in droves because the author presented herself as just an average housewife. But as Smith College Professor Daniel Horowitz demonstrates in Betty Friedan and the Making of `The Feminine Mystique,' the self-image Friedan painted was far different from her real life's history.

If the home was a "comfortable concentration camp," as Friedan claimed in The Feminine Mystique, this is not something she knew from experience. In the years following her marriage, she worked full-time as a journalist for communist-controlled labor publications and later worked out of her home as a freelance writer. Living in a lavish mansion, she was freed from housework by the services of a full-time maid. Her husband earned a large salary and supported Friedan and the children. The parents of her children's playmates even ejected Friedan from their car pooling arrangement when they learned that Friedan sent their children to school in a taxi rather than driving them herself. The locked-up, middle-class homemaker that Friedan styled herself to be was an embroidered tale.

As far back as her student days at Smith College, the future feminist leader traveled in a world inhabited by those on the fringes of the Left. Guest lecturers, professors, required readings, and fellow students on the Northhampton, Massachusetts campus all pushed her in the direction of a near full acceptance of the Soviet line. While Friedan was at Smith, "people committed to liberal and left-wing positions dominated campus-wide public discussions," notes Horowitz with approval. "Smith hosted a steady stream of progressive speakers," the author recognizes, a group that included Soviet propagandists Corliss Lamont and Anna Louise Strong. Horowitz credits such an atmosphere with informing the ideology of Friedan, who for more than a decade served the cause of international Marxism in various capacities.

While pursuing a post-graduate degree at Berkeley, Friedan dated David Bohm, a Communist working under Oppenheimer on the atomic bomb project. Her social world included many Party members and her writings reflected a line directed from Moscow. Friedan's FBI file-labeled "a document of problematic reliability but nonetheless one that has to be reckoned with" by Horowitz-claims that she sought to formally join the Communist Party while at Berkeley. "In 1944 an informant told the FBI that [Friedan] went to a party office in the East Bay area, announced that she was already a member of the [Young Communist League], and sought entrance to the party itself, as well as a job writing for its paper, The People's World." Friedan was refused entry, and was reportedly told that she could serve the Soviet cause better from outside of the official party.

In 1943, Friedan began nine years of work as a journalist in the labor movement. The publications she wrote for-the Federated Press and the UE News-were ostensibly "union" publications, but in reality were Communist fronts. "In the 1940s," Horowitz notes, "according to historian Ronald Schatz, the UE was `the largest Communist-led institution of any kind in the United States.' In his authoritative book on the CIO, the historian Robert Zieger states that UE was `the only effectively led large pro-Soviet affiliate' of the CIO in the postwar years." Friedan even wrote articles for the Daily Worker, New Masses, and Jewish Life: A Progressive Monthly, a publication that served as an apologist for Stalin's anti-Semitism.

Horowitz claims that the fear of "McCarthyism" (a word that curiously graces the book's pages on more than 100 occasions) continues to prevent Friedan from telling the truth about her activities during the 1940s and `50s. But there is another possibility as to why she chooses to hide her years within the Communist orbit that the author fails to explore. Perhaps Friedan lied about the time she spent within the Red fold because she recognizes that she led a shameful life promoting an ideology that claimed millions of lives. Just as a former enthusiast for Nazism might likely attempt to shield his past views in pursuit of public approval, those who cheered on Mao, Stalin, and their countless minor league impersonators might likely attempt to hide their past in order to gain mainstream acceptance.

"Once Friedan became famous," Horowitz complains, "journalists, authors of standard reference works, and historians simply repeated the narrative of her life offered in The Feminine Mystique and elsewhere." Because those writing about Friedan so often sympathized with her views, they didn't bother to investigate her past and instead relied on her word. The author himself questioned whether it was appropriate to make public the inconvenient information he discovered. Horowitz claims that we live in "a world where Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, and the Christian Coalition [are] powerful, if not consistently ascendant. So I worried that I might be revealing elements of Friedan's past that conservatives could use to discredit not only Friedan but the entire women's movement."

Unfortunately, Betty Friedan and the `Making of the Feminist Mystique' raises more questions than it answers. As she has done throughout her life, Friedan continues to spin a tale about her history that has little to do with reality. She denied the author permission to quote from her unpublished work and implied legal action if he did so. She refused requests for interviews. Her complete papers are hidden from the public at Radcliffe College, kept under lock and key until decades into the new century. Horowitz has recently come under attack as a tool of the Right, despite the fact that he clearly celebrates and embraces Friedan's radical history. His argument is not so much with her Marxist past as it is with her hiding it.

If Friedan is the mother of modern feminism, the movement she gave birth to has inherited many of her traits. Whether it's the myth of domestic violence hitting its annual peak on Super Bowl Sunday or the discredited statistic of tens of thousands of women dying each year from anorexia (its actually around 100), one need not look far for examples of feminists putting forward lies to further their cause. When two Georgetown students published a booklet that included a debunking of the feminist mantra of one in four college age women being raped, angry feminists responded by stating "if one woman is not raped by publishing false statistics, then that justifies it." Betty Friedan has been exposed as a fraud. Feminism deserves such a matriarch.



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

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

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


Monday, December 29, 2008

Home for retired British missionaries loses grant - because it won't ask residents if they are lesbians

Apparently, respecting the privacy of elderly ladies is not included in socialist "caring"

A care home where elderly Christian residents refused to answer ‘intrusive’ questions about their sexuality is at the centre of a bitter legal battle after its council grant was axed. Brighton & Hove Council told the home to ask pensioners four times a year about their sexual orientation under its ‘fair access and diversity’ policies, which stem from New Labour equality laws. Council chiefs also accused the charity that runs the home of ‘institutional discrimination’, before cutting a 13,000 pound grant towards warden services.

Pilgrim Homes, which operates ten schemes for elderly Christians across the UK, says it has never breached the law and is now suing the council, accusing it of religious discrimination. Andrew Jessop, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘The council has taken overzealousness to the extreme. People in their 90s are very vulnerable and shouldn’t be treated in this way.’

Tensions began last year when the council imposed stricter criteria on organisations it supported to ‘comply’ with the Equality Act 2006 and the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007. It circulated a questionnaire to the Pilgrim Home in Egremont Place, Brighton, which houses 39 single Christians aged over 80, including former missionaries and a minister. Phil Wainwright, director of human resources for Pilgrim Homes, said he was told by the council the home had to ask residents if they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or ‘unsure’, even if they objected. Many of the elderly rebelled, however, and the home wrote to the council saying residents did not want to participate. Mr Wainwright said: ‘There was a strong feeling among people in the home that the questions were inappropriate and intrusive. They felt they had come to Pilgrim Homes because of its Christian ethos and were upset they were not protected from such intrusions.’

But Brighton & Hove Council complained about the home’s ‘negative response’ and argued that because the home had a Christian ethos, gay people might be deterred from applying. It cited the ‘resistance’ to using images of elderly gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in the home’s leaflets, saying this meant gays and lesbians ‘would not feel comfortable’ applying for a place. The council then announced it was axeing the grant because there had been ‘limited progress’ in making the home accessible to the homosexual community.

Mr Wainwright said the charity was open to anyone with orthodox beliefs. He said: ‘We have every reason to believe that we have given places to gay Christians, and no questions were ever asked. The council hasn’t demonstrated any discrimination on our part. We believe it is Brighton Council that is institutionally discriminatory.’

MPs last night backed the charity, which fears other councils that provide it with grants totalling more than 100,000, could follow Brighton’s lead. Ann Widdecombe, former Tory Home Office Minister, said: ‘The equality law does not oblige anyone to ask intrusive questions. This sort of thing needs to be nipped in the bud.’ David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, said: ‘It is absolutely disgraceful that the council has tried to get 90-year-olds, from a generation that wasn’t obsessed with sex, to put intimate information on to one of its forms.’

But Brighton & Hove Council said: ‘We have never expected any residents to answer questions about their sexuality if they preferred not to do so. ‘The Government specifically states the home must be open to the gay and lesbian community and that it must demonstrate this to qualify for funding. In the absence of any willingness to do this, funding has been withdrawn.’


British dogs must not chase sticks

And balls are suspect too. The British safety mania never lets up

Fetch, doggy – but not before listening to some vital safety information. One of Britain’s most eminent vets has warned that dogs suffer as many injuries chasing and catching sticks as they do on Britain’s roads. Owners are being advised that to protect their pets from accidental stabbing or choking, they should never throw sticks. Instead they should use rubber throwing toys or a suitably sized ball.

Dan Brockman, professor of small animal surgery at the Royal Veterinary College, has catalogued dozens of serious injuries and infections, almost all the result of animals being stabbed as they rushed after a sharp stick. “When I see people throwing sticks for their dogs in the park I just get so frustrated,” said Brockman. “I want to go and tell them to stop.” His new study, co-authored with Zoe Halfacree, a fellow small-animal expert at the college, will detail some of the injuries suffered by pets when a game of fetch goes wrong. They include:

— Dogs left paralysed after being stabbed in the back of the throat by a stick that then enters the spinal cord.

— Animals left with serious internal injuries when a spinning stick jams between the foreleg and chest as they try to catch it on the move.

— Dogs who suffer a slow death as infection spreads from tiny fragments of wood left lodged in a wound.

His advice will surprise many of the nation’s 7m dog owners. Even the Kennel Club includes pictures of dogs carrying sticks on its website. Many veterinary practices say they have become familiar with the risks because of the number of dogs they treat.

Brockman said that for owners there is another problem with throwing sticks for dogs – the huge cost of treating injuries. “I have seen injuries that have cost up to 5,000 pounds in treatment fees – but where the dog has still died in the end,” he said. Brockman added that people who get their pets to chase after balls may also be behaving irresponsibly. “You must make sure the size of ball is right for the dog,” said Brockman. “I have had to operate on dogs that have swallowed tennis balls too.”


Dismantling Diversity Dogma

Half a century ago, America was embroiled in a legal and moral struggle to end government-sanctioned racial discrimination. Under a system known as Jim Crow, our government treated citizens differently based on race. Today, America still treats citizens differently based on race under a policy euphemistically known as "affirmative action."

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order directing the federal government to take "affirmative action" to ensure that no person was denied employment based on skin color, but this policy evolved into racial bean-counting. "It was a young president's unambiguous directive that race be removed rather than added as a factor in government employment," writes Larry Purdy, author of "Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity": Searching for the Color-Blind Ideal". "Yet today, nearly 50 years after President Kennedy issued his order, affirmative action has been politically redefined by those who practice raw racial politics, a group which in 2003 included five justices sitting on our nation's highest court. The policies spawned in the name of affirmative action now mock the phrase's original meaning."

Purdy, who served as trial counsel for plaintiffs Barbara Grutter and Jennifer Gratz in race preference cases that reached the Supreme Court, offers a rebuttal to The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions, a pro-race preferences book written by former Ivy League presidents William Bowen and Derek Bok. Purdy also critiques Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, which was influenced by the book.

Bowen and Bok studied 28 highly selective schools to test their hypothesis that race made a difference in the admissions decisions for black graduates who went on to successful post-graduate and professional careers. However, as Purdy points out, nowhere do Bowen and Bok offer proof that all 28 schools actually considered race in their admissions decisions, much less the degree to which "race mattered" in admissions, if at all. In Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity," Purdy not only contends that Bowen's and Bok's data are insufficient to support that preferences are a net benefit to society, but goes further to argue that preferences, however well intended, are a net detriment to the very students they were designed to help.

Purdy highlights flaws in The Shape of the River. For example, Bowen and Bok claim that 700 "retrospectively rejected" black students went on to become doctors and lawyers in extraordinary numbers. But for the race preferences given to these "retrospectively rejected" students, they claim, none would have been admitted to their elite schools. Yet, nowhere do Bowen and Bok prove that any of the black graduates who eventually became successful doctors or lawyers were among those black matriculants for whom race made a difference in their respective admission. Indeed, the so-called 700 "retrospectively rejected" students were not real students at all. They were simply a statistical projection.

Although Bowen and Bok refused to release the study's underlying data for independent review, even without it Purdy managed to calculate and conclude that their findings were implausible. For example, again with regard to the 700 "retrospectively rejected" black matriculants: "[T]he authors' data suggest that those black matriculants with the highest entering qualifications obtained postgraduate and professional degrees at a rate significantly lower than those black matriculants who entered college with the lowest academic qualifications. This is a conclusion which defies all logic." Purdy lays bare Bowen's and Bok's deceptions, analyzes the consequences of race preferences, and debunks the so-called educational benefits of diversity.

Isolated acts of discrimination cannot and should not be used to label an entire country racist. Colorblind principles, particularly colorblind government policy, provide the best way to eradicate racism. "Getting Under the Skin of "Diversity," is a robust and informative guidebook for reaching that goal.


Bigotry of the Left

We have a long way to go to overcoming bigotry - liberal bigotry, that is

It should not be lost on any observer that, as this election drew nearer, many liberals began discarding the term "progressives" and reverted back to calling themselves "liberals." We give liberals credit of sorts for re-acknowledging their long-ago discredited brand name. Big government is big government. You can't change stripes on a skunk, as the old saying goes. Big-Government Republicans learned that the hard way. Republicans destroyed their brand by calling themselves Ronald Reagan conservatives, but governing more like Democrats.

The truer nature of liberalism was on display this last election, after years when liberals chose to cloak their views with more moderate-to-conservative speak. Liberals continued to campaign more to the right of their true agenda, but when caught off-guard, liberals were heard speaking of their spread-the-wealth socialism, their desire to bankrupt industries, and their genuine contempt for rural Americans, especially those of faith.

Many liberal bloggers, less guarded about their agenda, demonstrated the bigotry of liberalism. In this election, we witnessed the nasty bigotry of sexist liberal feminists, directed personally at Sarah Palin and indirectly at working conservative Christian mothers, with extra objection to mothers who don't abort children with special needs. That probably came as no surprise to conservative African-Americans, such as Clarence Thomas, Michael Steele and Ward Connerly, who have been subjected to the vitriol of liberal bigotry. A 1993 article titled "Black Conservatives" by one liberal says, "For most African Americans the notion of a Black conservative is an oxymoron." She writes that both conservative policies and conservatives themselves are racist. This, sadly, is the bigoted worldview of too many liberals: You are defined by your race or ethnicity and aren't allowed to think for yourself.

Liberalism's underlying premise is the superiority of government power over individual freedom. The worst regimes in history - communist, Nazi, fascist - were the combination of bigotry with government power. No such regime comes to power without using deceptive promises that government will take care of people better than freedom will. Their leaders manipulate people to support them often by accusing their opponents of the same form of treachery they seek to impose.

The worst liberal politicians employ deception both to gain votes and to intimidate critics. Race-baiting is a favorite bigoted tactic of many liberals. For example, when Barney Frank was confronted about his support for Fannie Mae contributing to the financial market meltdown, he resorted to calling those who questioned his positions "racist." How desperate and pitiful. But worse, it was the policy of bigotry in the first place that forced banks to make bad loans to uncreditworthy people.

Conservatives were called racist for opposing immigration policies pushed by the Bush administration, other Big-Government Republicans and Democrats. The wrong immigration policy, under which people here unlawfully would receive benefits at taxpayer expense, would also allow them to steal jobs from low-income Americans, and would be a slap in the face to immigrants who came to America legally through a long and sometimes expensive process.

Conservatism is a threat to liberalism because bigotry is counterproductive to conservatives, but is a cornerstone of liberalism. Economic conservatism values the productivity, work, intelligence, integrity, motivation and other virtues of the individual. Religious conservatism is based in the fundamental premise that we are all born of equal value in the eyes of God. Liberals who evade the merits of policy arguments by resorting to calling white conservatives "racists" or African-American conservatives "Uncle Toms" don't merely demonstrate their own ignorance, they cheapen the cause against real racism.

America is a center-right country not because of any particular ethnicity but because we are a unique assimilation of individuals from different walks of life, cultures and perspectives. Our greatness does not depend on any one group succeeding or holding anyone back, but precisely is due to allowing individuals to rise above the circumstances into which they were born. Americans still by and large understand our country is the land of opportunity, not the land of guarantees. America has far more Joe the Plumbers than Peggy the Moochers.

As with most things in life, those who struggle to obtain something often understand better the value of those things than those who have been given them. Perhaps that is why conservative African-American thinkers and leaders - Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, J.C. Watts, Star Parker, Armstrong Williams, Herman Cain, Jay Parker, Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., Alan Keyes, Larry Elder, etc., are among the most articulate proponents of free markets, faith and other tenets of conservatism. They were proud of their country long before Barack Obama was elected president. We're sure they understand that liberal bigotry remains a great barrier to overcome so all individuals have a greater opportunity to achieve their hopes, dreams, desires, ambitions and aspirations, no matter how simple or how grand.



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

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

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


Sunday, December 28, 2008

The British Labor Party government loves its criminals

Almost 2,200 foreign prisoners have been released from jail early with up to 168 pounds each of taxpayers' cash to compensate them for the loss of bed and board. The criminals were released back on to the streets despite a promise by Gordon Brown that they would all be deported. The total cost of funding the handouts for the foreign inmates could be as much as 370,000 pounds.

The revelations will overshadow today's announcement by the Home Office that it removed a record 5,000 foreign criminals last year. Ministers said they were fulfilling a commitment by the Prime Minister, made in July 2007, to take tougher action in the wake of the foreign prisoners scandal. Those removed last year included 50 killers and attempted killers, more than 200 sex offenders and more than 1,500 drug offenders. But the Tories pointed out that Mr Brown had said all overseas criminals would be removed when he declared: 'If you commit a crime you will be deported. You play by the rules or you face the consequences.'

Research by the Tories discovered that not only did 2,196 foreign criminals escape removal, but they were allowed to leave jail 18 days before their sentence reached even the halfway point to ease overcrowding. To compensate them for the loss of accommodation and food they would have received in prison during this 18-day period, they were given up to 7 pounds a day from public funds, up to a maximum of 168.24 each.

In a dossier released last night, the Tories revealed that an estimated 3,000 foreign criminals were released without being deported last year, including those who were set free 18 days early. And the total number of foreign inmates has actually increased by 1,000 since the foreign prisoner fiasco, which led to the sacking of Charles Clarke as Home Secretary in 2006. The scandal prompted a review of deportation procedures after 1,000 inmates were mistakenly released without being even considered for removal. But despite a series of measures being put in place to speed up removals - including the introduction of 3,000 pound bribes for those who go home voluntarily - there are currently 11,168 overseas inmates, an increase of 11 per cent since 2006. The Government is also holding 543 foreign prisoners under immigration powers, because they finished their sentences before measures could be taken to deport them. With each place costing around 40,000 a year, this 'bed blocking' is costing the taxpayer œ22million per year, according to the Tories.

Shadow Justice Secretary Nick Herbert said: 'The Government want to create the impression that they're successfully deporting foreign national criminals, but the truth is that for every three prisoners they remove, two more are released on to the streets. 'Far from paying the price as Gordon Brown promised, foreign national offenders are being rewarded by serving less than half of their jail sentence and with taxpayers' cash in their back pockets.'

Many of them cannot be deported because of a combination of EU law and the Human Rights Act. The End of Custody Licence scheme was introduced in June 2007 primarily for British inmates, to free space in the chronically overcrowded prison system. But foreign nationals - who now have three jails dedicated exclusively to their detention - have been unexpected beneficiaries.


British police uninterested in car theft

But say anything critical about homosexuality and they will be there like a shot

When Keith Harding found his son's stolen car, he thought he had done all the hard work for the police. He phoned and told them it was parked outside a nearby block of flats, and waited for action. But to his astonishment officers said all they could do was send someone to pick up the car at a cost of 125 pounds. They said they did not have the resources to investigate the case.

Mr Harding, 51, a construction manager, said: `When they told me they couldn't do anything but charge me to tow the car away, I just couldn't believe it. `The officer apologised because he was embarrassed and I was furious. The culprits were probably inside that block of flats and they were going to get away with it.'

The case follows the Daily Mail's revelation earlier this week that officers are routinely failing to investigate crimes reported by the public. Nearly four in every ten offences are `screened out' by officers who claim they have little chance of catching the culprit.

The BMW was stolen on November 21 from the Harding family's home in Rayleigh, Essex, by thieves who broke into the house and took the keys and other items, including a purse belonging to Mr Harding's wife's. The purse was found by a member of the public only ten minutes' drive away, so Mr Harding decided to play detective. He drove around nearby roads until he spotted his son's car in a private car park for a block of flats. Mr Harding immediately called the police, who took an hour to arrive. The officer then called CID to see if a detective was available to investigate how the car ended up parked in the block of flats. But after another hour, CID rang back to say that `no resources' were available.

Mr Harding then drove the car home after a friend dropped off a spare key, rather than pay the 125 pound tow fee. Forensic tests were carried out on the car the next day. Mr Harding said: `We were still scared that the thieves would come back for the car because they had the keys and knew our address, so I had to park it at a friend's house. `I think the police are just worried about statistics and making sure they are seen rather than actually solving crimes.'

A spokesman for Essex Police said the officer's advice on retrieving Mr Harding's car was `usual' and forces across the country charge 125 for this service. He added: `Investigations continue, including the review of other intelligence available to police.'


Europe's Choice for Christmas: Pink Trees or None at All

Be prepared for a homosexual parody of Christmas when you take a stroll through Amsterdam these days. The Dutch city, the self-declared "gay capital of the world," is holding its first "Pink Christmas Festival." From 18 until 28 December there is a ten-day "Christmas Festival" for homosexuals, including a "gay X-mas open-air market", gay nativity scenes - featuring Baby Jesus with either two Josephs or two Marys - several gay gatherings, a "pink ice skating rink" (for travestites), and streets lined with pink Christmas trees.

The organizers, who also organize the Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade each August, say they want to "increase the range of options for homosexual men and women during Christmas week when there is not much to do." They intend to turn the event into an annual Pink Christmas Festival and expect that in the long run Pink Christmas will become even more popular than the August Gay Pride Parade, a floating Parade on barges and boats through the famous Amsterdam canals.

The Dutch Calvinist merchants, who built the canals in the 17th century to provide easy access to their warehouses, could never have imagined that their spoilt, affluent offspring would turn the city, which they made into the commercial hub and the capitalist center of the world, into the world's showpiece of depravity. Today's Amsterdammers hold nothing sacred of what their ancestors cared for, except money.

Pink Christmas, the organizers say, is also an attempt to "reclaim Amsterdam for gays" and to counter the rising intolerance in the city. Over the past years, assaults on homosexuals have occurred with increasing frequency. Though the parades, parties and festivals continue, homosexual couples who venture into the streets risk being beaten up or thrown into one of the canals.

While the homosexuals make a parody of Christmas, mocking the Christians with an open show of blasphemy during the holy season, it is not the Christians whom the homosexuals fear. Those who pretend that "religious people" are intolerant will find few examples among the remaining followers of Christ in Holland. The attacks on homosexuals are perpetrated by Muslim youths. The growing presence of Islam in the Dutch capital, which is already almost 20 per cent Muslim, has made life in the city less gay than it used to be.

Europe's Christians, however, would be na‹ve to expect that the Muslims will have greater respect for Christmas nativity scenes. Radical Islamists want to ban them altogether. In an interview earlier this year Belgium's Cardinal Godfried Danneels said that Christians may thank Muslims for the growing respect for God in present-day Europe, but the liberal Cardinal does not seem to understand that the God of Islam is not the God of Christianity.

In Antwerp, in Danneels' own Belgium, the city authorities have decreed that public shools, even during the Christmas season, have to avoid all references to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The authorities do not want to upset the schools' large population of Muslim kids. "Christmas should be a neutral event, not focused on one particular religion, but on enjoying food and drink together with friends and family," the city officials wrote in a letter to the schools.

Even Christmas trees have been banned in Antwerp's public schools. Last year a Muslim civil servant and trade union representative demanded that the city show "its commitment to complete neutrality by banning Christmas trees and Easter eggs" from public buildings and spaces. Christmas carols are not allowed as background music, let alone to be sung, during Antwerp's traditional open-air Christmas market. Like Amsterdam, Antwerp still tolerates the word "Christmas," though. In Oxford, England, the city council has decided to ban the C-word and replace it with the term "Winter Light Festival." This is done in order "to include all religious denominations."

Meanwhile, Oxford University Press has removed other words associated with Christianity and British history from Britain's leading dictionary for children, the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Words like "bishop," "chapel," "abbey," "saint," "monarch" and "empire" have been axed. The publisher claims the changes are made to "reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society."

What multifaith means was experienced by the non-Muslim children of a junior school in Nottingham which cancelled the traditional Christmas nativity play because it got in the way of the Muslim children celebrating the Islamic Eid festivities.

In Sarajevo, Bosnia, Christmas has been abolished in all the city's kindergarten institutions. In order not to offend Muslims, even Christmas trees have been banned from the kindergarten premises. 43 percent of Bosnians are Muslims.

In Cologne, Germany, the windows of the Galeria Kaufhof department store no longer display traditional Christmas scenes. Instead, passers-by can marvel at Islamic scenes of mosques with minarets, desert abodes and puppets dressed like Arabs, including veiled women. Over 30% of Cologne's inhabitants are Muslims.

In Europe, the war against Christmas is being waged on all fronts, with the institution under attack from two sides: from secularist fundamentalists, who turn it into a mockery with two Josephs (or two Marys) amidst pink Christmas trees, and from Muslim fundamentalists who tolerate no nativity scenes and no Christmas trees at all. It is time for all men of good will to raise their banners and fight: for the family and the right of child to live and to be raised - like Jesus - by a father and a mother, instead of two fathers or two mothers; for green Christmas trees; for words and concepts like Christmas, bishop, chapel, abbey, monarch and empire; in short, for God, sanity and tradition.


Big erosion of individual liberties in Australia -- in the name of "human rights"!

St Vincent de Paul Society ordered to pay $27,500 to president sacked for not being Catholic. If religious people cannot choose to associate with people of the same religion, what other associations might be forced upon us?

The St Vincent de Paul Society of Queensland has been ordered to pay $27,500 to a voluntary president it sacked because she was not Catholic. The landmark decision in the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal has massive implications for the welfare organisation. State president John Campbell said the organisation was disappointed at the decision and had sought legal advice over whether it should appeal or try to have legislation amended, The Courier-Mail reports.

The $27,500 has been awarded to Kingston woman Linda Walsh for "offence, hurt, embarrassment and intimidation" following the society's decision to stand her down as president of the Migrant and Refugees Logan Centre. According to documents tendered to the tribunal, Ms Walsh's work for the centre was her reason "to get up in the morning". After volunteering for the society in 1997, she first became a president of a St Vincent "conference" - or group of people who respond to calls for assistance in the community, according to the charity's website - in March 2003. By the end of the year, she was working unpaid seven days a week.

But trouble started in January 2004 when objections to her not being Catholic were raised. Ms Walsh said she was asked when she first joined the society whether she was Catholic and there were no objections to her being Christian only. She also was accepted as a conference president in 2003 despite not being Catholic. But, in 2004, the society gave Ms Walsh three options - become a Catholic, resign her position and stay only as a member, or leave the society.

Eventually, Ms Walsh took her case to the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. Ms Walsh told The Courier-Mail she felt betrayed by the society to which she had devoted her life. "They put me through the wringer and back," she said. "It hurt, it really hurt." [Does it hurt to take $27,500 out of the mouths of the needy too?]

In its tribunal documents, the society argued its primary function was to "inculcate the Catholic faith in its members" and the charity aspect was secondary for presidents, which meant they needed to be Catholic.

The tribunal found the society did not prove its case and awarded compensation to Ms Walsh as well as court costs. Mr Campbell said that although Ms Walsh did volunteer work, she also was a member and they believed they should have the rights to choose their members, just as a bowling club did. He said the rule that all presidents should be Catholic was "understood", even if it hadn't been written prior to Ms Walsh's membership. He declined to comment further.



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

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

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


Saturday, December 27, 2008

The gods of liberalism

Modern-day liberals - or "progressives" as they more discreetly prefer - labor under an awkward misconception; namely, that there is anything remotely "progressive" about the fundamental canons of their blind, secular-humanist faith. In fact, today's liberalism is largely a sanitized retread of an antiquated mythology - one that significantly predates the only truly progressive movement: biblical Christianity.

While visiting the Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, Va., a few weeks back, I heard a troubling, albeit thought-provoking, sermon. Pastor John Mabray addressed the ancient Canaanite practice of Baal worship and, though he didn't reveal it by name, connected the dots to its present-day progeny: liberalism. Baal, the half-bull, half-man god of fertility, was the focal point of pagan idolatry in Semitic Israel until God revealed His monotheistic nature to Judaism's forebears.

In his sermon, Pastor Mabray illustrated that, although they've now assumed a more contemporary flair, the fundamentals of Baal worship remain alive and well today. The principal pillars of Baalism were child sacrifice, sexual immorality (both heterosexual and homosexual) and pantheism (reverence of creation over the Creator).

Ritualistic Baal worship, in sum, looked a little like this: Adults would gather around the altar of Baal. Infants would then be burned alive as a sacrificial offering to the deity. Amid horrific screams and the stench of charred human flesh, congregants - men and women alike - would engage in bisexual orgies. The ritual of convenience was intended to produce economic prosperity by prompting Baal to bring rain for the fertility of "mother earth."

The natural consequences of such behavior - pregnancy and childbirth - and the associated financial burdens of "unplanned parenthood" were easily offset. One could either choose to engage in homosexual conduct or - with child sacrifice available on demand - could simply take part in another fertility ceremony to "terminate" the unwanted child.

Modern liberalism deviates little from its ancient predecessor. While its macabre rituals have been sanitized with flowery and euphemistic terms of art, its core tenets and practices remain eerily similar. The worship of "fertility" has been replaced with worship of "reproductive freedom" or "choice." Child sacrifice via burnt offering has been updated, ever so slightly, to become child sacrifice by way of abortion. The ritualistic promotion, practice and celebration of both heterosexual and homosexual immorality and promiscuity have been carefully whitewashed - yet wholeheartedly embraced - by the cults of radical feminism, militant "gay rights" and "comprehensive sex education." And, the pantheistic worship of "mother earth" has been substituted - in name only - for radical environmentalism.

But it's not just self-styled "progressives" or secular humanists who have adopted the fundamental pillars of Baalism. In these postmodern times, we've also been graced, regrettably, by the advent of counter-biblical "emergent Christianity" or "quasi-Christianity," as I prefer to call it. This is merely liberalism all dolled up and gratuitously stamped "Christian." It's a way for left-wing ideologues to have their "religion" cake and eat it too. Under the guise of "social justice," its adherents often support - or at least rationalize - the same pro-homosexual, pro-abortion and radical environmental policies pushed by the modern-day Baal worshiper.

Though the "Christian left" represent what is arguably a negligible minority within larger Christianity, the liberal media have, nonetheless, embraced their cause and seized upon their popularity among elites as evidence that the so-called "Christian right" (read: biblical Christianity) is losing influence - that Christianity is, somehow, "catching up with the times."

Because emergent Christianity fails the authenticity test whenever subjected to even the most perfunctory biblical scrutiny, I suspect it will eventually go - for the most part - the way of the pet rock or the Macarena. But this does not absolve leaders within the evangelical community from a duty to call leaders of this counter-biblical revolution on their heresy. It's not a matter of right versus left; it's a matter of right versus wrong - of biblical versus non-biblical.

Nonetheless, the aforementioned pillars of postmodern Baalism - abortion, sexual relativism and radical environmentalism - will almost certainly make rapid headway over the next four to eight years, with or without help from the Christian left. The gods of liberalism have a new high priest in Barack Obama, and enjoy many devout followers in the Democratic-controlled Congress, liberal media and halls of academia.

Both Obama's social agenda and that of the 111th Congress are rife with unfettered pro-abortion, freedom-chilling, pro-homosexual and power-grabbing environmentalist objectives. The same kind of "hope, action and change," I suppose, that was swallowed up by the Baalist Canaanites of old. So, today's liberalism is really just a very old book with a shiny new cover. A philosophy rooted in ancient pagan traditions, of which there is naught to be proud. There's "nothing new under the sun," indeed.


Primary and Secondary Racism

Ann Coulter was right when she said the essence of being a liberal is having one set of rules for oneself and an entirely different set of rules for other people. Similarly, it could be asserted that the essence of liberal arts education is developing one set of theories that apply only to other people. Few better examples can be found than in the case of labeling theory, which derives from the pseudo-science of sociology.

Frank Tannenbaum had a number of valid points when, in the 1930s, he established some basic premises of labeling theory. He argued that, as a juvenile, everyone engages in some form of delinquent behavior. And he correctly pointed out that not everyone who engages in delinquency is caught and, therefore, labeled "delinquent." Tannenbaum was also correct in saying that parents, teachers, and peers sometimes over-react to juveniles caught in an act of delinquency. He was again on firm ground in asserting that these occasional over-reactions could actually produce more delinquency.

Surely, those who are labeled delinquent are less likely to be invited to associate with those who haven't. And ostracism from conformists can lead to delinquent associations where the strengthening of deviant tendencies can occur.

Writing just a few years after Tannenbaum, Edwin Lemert did a lot to shape labeling theory into its present form. It is a form popular with progressives everywhere. Lemert argued that people can engage in delinquency for any number of biological, sociological, or psychological reasons. Delinquency produced by any of these broad (categories of) factors is called "primary deviance." But Lemert's real contribution to various progressive causes (and socialist policies) flows from his explanation of a form of delinquency known as "secondary deviance."

Lemert believed that if an individual was caught in an act of primary deviance, he was likely to be placed under greater subsequent scrutiny by parents, teachers, and various agents of social control. This, of course, meant the child was more likely to be caught engaging in delinquency again. Adopting Lemert's premises, it is easy to understand how a vicious cycle could develop.

At some point, of course, the child might internalize the notion that he is a "deviant," a "delinquent," or just generally "bad." This could lead to higher rates of delinquency. When it does, according to Lemert, "secondary deviance" has occurred. Many of us have come to dub this process, perhaps somewhat simplistically, as the "self-fulfilling prophecy."

Notions such as "secondary deviance" and "self-fulfilling prophecy" have done much to undermine the integrity of public education in this country. If you learned to read in first grade in the 1970s, you remember the "yellowbirds," "redbirds," and "bluebirds" reading groups. Labeling theorists thought it would be better to call a child a "yellowbird" than to call him "slow."

(Author's Note: I was a "yellowbird" in first grade and we all knew we were slow. We just contented ourselves with beating up the "bluebirds" during recess. Fortunately, due to the kindness of my favorite teacher Elsie Stephenson, I eventually became a "redbird.").

Regrettably, all of this emphasis on self-esteem and negative labeling has resulted in many schools doing away with letter grades altogether. And when the kids play games at recess they are often forbidden from keeping score. They don't want anyone to suffer the emotional trauma that results from being labeled a "loser" - even if for a day.

Liberal progressives have spent years taking a theory from sociology and applying it increasingly to the field of education. These progressives have shown a clear interest in the question of whether negative labels (e.g., "criminal," "dumb") are more frequently applied to blacks and other historically victimized groups.

But, curiously, one area of research remains unexplored: What impact does labeling someone a "racist" have on his self-image - and his propensity for future acts of racism? Frank Tannenbaum, if he were alive today, might argue that everyone engages in some form of racist behavior. And he might point out that not everyone who engages in racism is caught and labeled "racist." Tannenbaum might also say that parents, teachers, and peers sometimes over-react to juveniles caught in an act of racial insensitivity. He would be on firm ground in asserting that these occasional over-reactions could actually produce more racial insensitivity.

We all know that liberals often manufacture cases of racism in order to keep liberalism alive. But we need more research in the pseudo-science of sociology in order to determine how reckless accusations of racism are actually creating more real racism in America. The research can be used to test whether liberals really believe in labeling theory and whether they are willing to apply it to their own conduct. If liberals really do believe in labeling theory, they should reconsider their own careless accusations of racism. If not, they should fess up, assign grades, and let children keep score during recess.


Wacky accusation from small-time Australian Leftists: Conservatives are "postmodern"

It's not easy being a conservative. Most of the time your colleagues and peers regard your views as embarrassingly old-fashioned. The culturati and the academy love to poke fun at you. And, when you're at a dinner party, there is no more sure-fire way to upset the bonhomie than to express sympathy for a conservative position on any subject matter.

Then, just as conservatism seemed destined to remain decidedly unfashionable, Deakin academics Geoff Boucher and Matthew Sharpe publish their provocatively titled The Times Will Suit Them: Postmodern Conservatism in Australia. Apparently, during the past decade or so, conservative ideas have not only been very much in fashion, they took a decidedly postmodern turn. The vanguard of this latest postmodern conspiracy is neither Jacques Derrida nor Michel Foucault; the culprits, this time, are John Howard and the entire editorial board of Quadrant.

The crux of Boucher and Sharpe's argument is that conservatism morphed into a form of relativism. Under the former prime minister, they claim, universalistic normative principles such as international human rights gave way to nationalistic assertion and cultural particularism. Values were appealed to "not because they are just but just because they are ours". The Howard version of conservatism also cemented in the Australian psyche a "scepticism towards the modern idea that people can make the world" better through "planned political action". In Howard's Australia, everybody was feeling so relaxed and comfortable that commitments to grand projects such as social justice and equality seemed a thing of the past.

Boucher and Sharpe's perverse use of the postmodern label raises an interesting question: What is conservatism and how do conservatives approach the kinds of issues postmodernists have been raising? The first thing to note is that unlike those other two isms of the modern age, liberalism and socialism, conservatism, on the whole, has been defined by its lack of a utopian vision. Keenly attuned to unintended consequences, and the persistence of human frailties, conservatives traditionally have preferred evolution to revolution, custom and habit to fads and fashions, pragmatic approaches and common sense to theoretical speculations and abstract generalisations. Because of the peculiarly change-oriented character of modernity and modernisation, conservatives often have felt the need to remind their fellow citizens of the value of the permanent, that the wheel doesn't have to be reinvented willy-nilly. In these and other respects, conservatives embody a certain postmodern modesty about what philosophy or theory can achieve, although their preference would be for empirical and pragmatic solutions to life's dilemmas. Along with David Hume, they also believe that having a sense of humour is a good antidote to hubris.

Where conservatives differ markedly from postmodernists is in the latter's embrace of romanticism. Postmodernism regards all critical reflection as "ironic play" and suffers from a tendency to see the world in aesthetic terms. In this respect, postmodernism has more in common with aesthetic modernism than it likes to admit. Art becomes a model for all of reality and anybody but a philistine judges art according to nonaesthetic criteria; hence, the outrage of the chattering classes regarding the public's disquiet with the depiction of children in Bill Henson's photographs. For the postmodern culturati, only a complete prude or ignoramus would see these images aspornography.

Here conservatism and postmodernism clearly diverge. Although conservatism has produced its own share of bohemians and aesthetes, conservatives are suspicious of rhetoric that puts the world views of an artistic and intellectual class above those of the much scorned middle-classes. However, it is the conservative approach to questions of art and culture that has been most open to misrepresentation in postmodern times. The conservative position that has received most publicity during the past decade is the one that has challenged literature departments embracing film and popular culture. The dominant image has been one of conservative critics railing against the postmodern tendency to equate Shakespeare with The Simpsons. No such thing as a postmodern conservative on this score.

The problem, though, is that the rhetoric surrounding the so-called culture wars has become the only measure of the conservative position on cultural matters. Conservatives are supposedly cranky, crusty, intolerant types who look down their noses at the culture of the masses. But this is a more accurate description of a circa-1950 left-wing intellectual writing for a journal such as Meanjin or Partisan Review than it is necessarily of a contemporary conservative intellectual.

Another conservative response to the postmodern question has been to admit that indeed postmodernism represents something new or at least something quite challenging for society and culture. In fact, conservative sociologists such as Daniel Bell, Christopher Lasch, Philip Rieff and John Carroll have led the way in demonstrating the kinds of predicaments that postmodern culture represents for individual identity and community wellbeing.

I would argue that these conservative theorists not only beat their leftist counterparts in diagnosing some of these changes; they also understood the unintended consequences of increased affluence, the triumph of a bohemian ethic and the loss of meaning in the sphere of culture much better than more fashionable strains of social and cultural theory.

After all is said and done, the quintessential characteristic of the conservative is that they have a deep need to confront and understand their times. As conservative American columnist David Brooks notes in his book Bobos in Paradise, the past few years have seen the emergence of "blue jean conservatives". He celebrates them as new kinds of conservative who "treasure religion so long as it is conducted in a spirit of moderation rather than zeal", who "appreciate good manners and cherish little customs and traditions" and who "reject grand rationalistic planning" and feel that the world is "far too complicated to be altered effectively by some person's scheme to shape reality". Sound postmodern? Perhaps the authors of The Times Will Suit Them went looking in the wrong places for their postmodern conservatives.


Australian social workers as arrogant and uncaring as British ones

Children taken from parents with no evidence of risk

A judge says it was a "gross abuse of power" for child welfare staff to forcibly remove two babies from their parents' care when there was no evidence they were at risk of harm. Ordering that the children be returned to their parents immediately, Supreme Court Justice George Palmer said the New South Wales Department of Community Services officers' actions had "gravely imperilled" the children's best interests. "My principal concern is that young children who have been well cared for by their parents have been removed from their care for some three months and, if the DOCS officers have their way, will be kept out of their parents' care for another three months, for no good reason," Justice Palmer said.

Although the parents were recreational cannabis users, the judge said there was no evidence that it posed a direct risk of harm to their children - a 15-month-old girl and a month-old boy. He said there was no evidence the children, who were given the pseudonyms Georgia and Luke, were neglected or physically or emotionally abused. Given that the parents were not mentally ill and had no relevant criminal history, he questioned why their children were forcibly removed and why DOCS was pursuing a care plan that would keep them in custody until May. He said there had been "a serious abuse by certain DOCS officers of the department's power to take children into custody".

The court heard that DOCS sought to meet the parents on September 12 but did not respond to their attempts to reschedule. When the couple failed to show up, three officers came to their house. The mother denied her children were at risk but the officers returned with two police officers and removed the children. The parents, who cannot be identified, applied to the Supreme Court to have their children returned, a move opposed by DOCS.

Officers' attitude showed "an intransigent refusal to acknowledge a mistake, regardless of the consequences to the children", Justice Palmer said. A psychologist who assessed the children and their parents noted: "Both parents are well able to provide for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of their infant children."

Justice Palmer last week ordered that Georgia and Luke be immediately returned to their parents. DOCS declined to comment on the case, saying it would carefully examine the judgment and consider whether to appeal.



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

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

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