Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Daily Howler" on Olberman and Miss California

"Daily Howler" is a "liberal" blogger but he seems to have some decency and capacity for thought in him so I liked his comments about the very lightweight Leftist TV talker Keith Olbermann below. Conservatives often point out hypocrisy and unprincipled opportunism on the Left so it is encouraging to see that someone inside that camp can see it too. He starts out by noting that the inescapable Marion Barry expressed the usual black contempt for homosexuality.

Is Barry right about the views of “the black community?” We hope—and assume—that he isn’t. (Our assumption is based on the 12-1 vote within the city council.) That said, Barry’s comments produced spirited reaction in, and from, the Washington Post. Three days later, for example, the Post printed an editorial condemning Barry’s statements (click here). “Mr. Barry's Ugly Words,” the headline said. “The D.C. Council member chose politics over principle in a vote against recognizing same-sex marriages.”

Barry is a major American politician, in a major American city. He sits where the rubber meets the road—inside a political body which may consider a bill to legalize same-sex marriages. We weren’t offended by Barry’s “ugly words” ourselves—although we hope (and assume) he was wrong in his sweeping assessment of the views within DC’s black community.

But it’s funny, ain’t it? You haven’t heard squat about Barry’s “ugly words” on your “progressive” cable news channel! But last night, The Dumbest Person in the World devoted another lengthy segment to ridicule of Carrie Prejean, an insignificant 21-year-old who recently made the mistake of saying something about same-sex marriage which Olbermann has never even bothered describing. (For the record, her view on the matter seems to resemble that of Barack Obama. And that of Hillary Clinton. And John Kerry and Al Gore.) The big nut went on for almost seven minutes mocking Prejean—and her breast implants. But it’s funny, ain’t it? You’ve never heard a word on this program about the things Marion Barry said.

Of course, the reasons for that are obvious: Olbermann doesn’t have videotape of Barry walking around in a two-piece swim suit. And Barry is an older man, not a younger woman. As Olbermann has made dumb-foundingly clear, he seems to live for the opportunity to ridicule young women. He never says boo about older man—perhaps understanding they could come to his studio and engage in conduct which might require him to obtain a sphincter implant.

Olbermann’s a woman-trasher—a genuine nut on this matter. And no, we hate to break the news: He doesn’t do “progressive” television. He seems to do work designed to capture the eyeballs of well-meaning young liberals. And for some ungodly reason, he does television which has long been devoted to the ridicule of women’s brains and bodies.

Marion Barry doesn’t count. An insignificant creation of Donald Trump quite incessantly does.

(Background: Trump owns the Miss USA contest. He now engineers a dispute every year, hoping to bring his product parity with the more famous Miss America pageant.)

For sheer stupidity, we strongly recommend last night’s buffoonish segment, devoted to the eternal dumbness of Miss California. (To watch the segment, click this.) Olbermann plays you every way but blue, citing those breast implants two separate times (including in his opening paragraph) and failing to tell you why Prejean might be upset about the way she’s been treated. (He always forgets to explain this.) You see, in the world of “progressive cable,” calling a young woman a “c*nt” and a b*itch” isn’t worthy of comment—if she fails to hold pseudo-progressive views, that is. “Where are the feminists?” Laura Ingraham inquired. We would broaden her limited framework: Where are the progressives?

Oh, we forgot! They’re dragging their knuckles and sucking their thumbs, watching a 50-year-old nutcase get his eternal jollies. And drive his rating among the demo, putting millions of bucks in his pants.

In this world, Barry doesn’t exist. You see, Barry is both black and male, and Keith doesn’t plan to enter such realms. For years, he has pimped you trash about women’s dumbness, while progressives have sat there and stared.

Prejean is a thoroughly insignificant figure—an invention of Trump’s latest pseudo-controversy. By way of contrast, Barry is a major player in one of our most important cities—a city known all over the world, even in Secaucus. But so what? On your “progressive” TV machine, you hear about one—but not the other.

SOURCE. Taranto also has some mocking words on the matter

Race Talk

by Walter E. Williams

What to call black people has to be confusing to white people. Having been around for 73 years, I have been through a number of names. Among the polite ones are: colored, Negro, Afro-American, black, and now African-American. Among those names, African-American is probably the most unintelligent. You say, "What do you mean, Williams?" Suppose I told you that I had a European-American friend or a South-America-American friend, or a North-America-American friend. You'd probably say, "Williams, that's stupid. Europe, South America and North America are continents consisting of many peoples." You might insist that I call my friend from Germany a German-American instead of European-American and my friend from Brazil a Brazilian-American rather than a South-America-American and my friend from Canada a Canadian-American instead of a North-American. So would not the same apply to people whose heritage lies on the African continent? For example, instead of claiming that President Barack Obama is the first African-American president, it should be that he's the first Kenyan-American president. In that sense, Obama is lucky. Unlike most American blacks, he knows his national heritage; the closest to a national heritage the rest of us can identify is some country along Africa's gold coast.

Another problem with the African-American label is not all people of African ancestry are dark. Whites are roughly 10 percent of Africa's population and include not only European settlers but Arabs and Berbers as well. So is an Afrikaner who becomes a U.S. citizen a part of United States' African-American population? Should census takers and affirmative action/diversity bean counters count Arabs, Berbers and Afrikaners who are U.S. citizens as African-Americans and should they be eligible for racial quotas in college admittance and employment?

Are black Americans a minority group? When one uses the term minority, there is an inference that somewhere out there is a majority but in the United States we are a nation of minorities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 census, where people self-identify, the ancestry of our largest ethnic groups are people of German ancestry (15.2 percent), followed by Irish (10.8 percent), African (8.8), and English (8.7) ancestry. Of the 92 ethnic groups listed, in the census, 75 of them are less than 1 percent of our population.

Race talk often portrays black Americans as downtrodden and deserving of white people's help and sympathy. That vision is an insult of major proportions. As a group, black Americans have made some of the greatest gains, over the highest hurdles, in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind's history. This unprecedented progress can be seen through several measures. If one were to total black earnings, and consider black Americans a separate nation, he would find that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world's 16th richest nation -- that is just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans are, and have been, chief executives of some of the world's largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, who headed the world's mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black American. Black Americans are among the world's most famous personalities and a few are among the richest. Most blacks are not poor but middle class.

On the eve of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed these gains possible in less than a mere century and a half, if ever. That progress speaks well not only of the sacrifices and intestinal fortitude of a people; it also speaks well of a nation in which these gains were possible. These gains would not have been possible anywhere else.


Britain’s strange, silent strangulation of liberty

The organiser of Freedom Summer explains why defending civil society from the state has never been more important

Every era has its own brand of state regulation; at different times, the repressive powers of the state are focused on different areas of social life. Today’s state is getting itself into some very strange corners indeed.

Twenty years ago, who would have thought that the state would seek to regulate mums helping out at their children’s nursery? Under the UK Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act – all nursery helpers must have their criminal records checked before being given the all-clear to watch over toddlers’ face-painting and Play-Doh sessions.

Who would have thought that police officers would force tourists to delete their photos of the architecturally interesting but otherwise unimportant Vauxhall bus station in London, in the name of preventing terrorism? (1) Who’d have guessed that under the Counter-Terrorism Act, it would become an offence to take pictures of police officers?

In previous times, the formidable powers of the state might have been used to crush demonstrations or dismantle threatening organisations. Now officials are focusing their fire on the pub darts contest, the local nursery, the amateur photographer, the drink in the park.

In 2009, if you are sharing a summers’ drink in the park, a police officer has the power to tip your bottle of wine down the drain, without any justification - and it is a criminal offence for you to refuse. Virtually every activity in pubs - from dancing, singalongs, music, to darts and chess – now requires a specific council licence. A Cambridge pub had to cancel a poetry reading recently, because it didn’t have a ‘spoken word licence’.

These are the areas of society that were previously the most autonomous – the places where people came together, to share a drink, or organise competitions and games - without using the language or methods of bureaucracy. Unlike the world of work, these were places where no forms were signed and no contracts made. This was civil society – a space that was neither the market nor the state – where people collaborated informally and freely with one another.

Yet it is precisely these most informal spheres that are becoming the most regulated. It is now almost the case that there are more rules and regulations in pubs than in the workplace; more in the nursery than in the bank.

These informal spheres are absolutely fundamental to social life. It is in these spaces that people form relationships that are not coerced, and not based on hostile contracting interests. These are the spaces where people work on getting things done together, in the interests and for the enjoyment of all. In civil society, things work differently – a list of volunteers is scribbled in the team book, not on a form; arrangements are made by phone or in the street, rather than by contract.

State intervention into these spheres of everyday life has happened quietly; it is not, generally, the subject of political discussion or protest. These issues are rarely discussed on the floor of the House of Commons, or even by many civil liberties organisations.

This summer, the Manifesto Club has organised Freedom Summer - to raise awareness about the hyperregulation of everyday life, and raise a shout of protest against it. On Thursday, at a pub in central London, we’re launching our campaign with a discussion among fellow libertarians, including Anthony Barnett from the Convention on Modern Liberty, Phil Booth from No2ID, and columnist Suzanne Moore. Over the next few months, events include: a salon in Huddersfield on the regulation of drinking; a sports day against vetting; a protest picnic on Brighton beach against booze bans; a cabaret against new visa controls for visiting artists and academics; and the launch of a new photo-book against ludicrous safety signs in public spaces.

It is important that Freedom Summer is a DIY political space – where people can propose their own initiatives, taking up the freedom issues that they are passionate about in their local areas. We hope this will become a festival of political experimentation, to work out together how we can make the hyperregulation of everyday life a political issue.

Summer is generally the time when police forces launch their Operation Public Drinking, Operation Public Dancing, or Operation Public Photography. Summer should also be the time when we start to organise a resistance to the hyperregulation our nurseries, pubs and parks.


End times for Christian America?

If you believe some partisan historians, it was dead before the American Revolution, or at least, nobody important was a Christian by then. The Founders had all moved on to deism. Then again, maybe Christian America died at the Scopes Trial during the 1920s when Clarence Darrow pinned down the non-theologian, non-scientist politician William Jennings Bryan with the power of hostile cross-examination. If it wasn’t dead by then, it was really dead by the late 1960s when every other religion book seemed to be about either the death of God movement or “secular” Christianity. The most memorable volume of the period was Harvey Cox’s The Secular City, which put a happy face of the death of public Christianity and heralded a new, more mature age of secular community.

Meanwhile, a host of prominent sociologists of religion sagely assured the public (and each other) that public faith simply could not co-exist with a world full of technological wonders like conveyor belts, cathode ray tubes, and time and motion studies. The great sociologist Peter Berger imagined tiny groups of believers huddled together against the coming of the 21st century.

In the years following Cox’s book, Christian America exploded back into the American consciousness. Evangelists popped up all over television (just as they had on radio earlier). The former Nixon hatchet man Chuck Colson (who once said he’d run over his own grandmother to help Richard Nixon) experienced a religious conversion and turned Born Again into a household expression with his mega-selling book. America followed Nixon by electing Jimmy Carter, an outspoken evangelical enthusiastically backed by\...wait for it...Pat Robertson! Disappointed with Carter, Christian conservatives became part of the coalition that elected Ronald Reagan to two terms in the White House.

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club began selling Christian books in huge numbers and better metrics often put religious titles at the top of the bestseller list (Prayer of Jabez, anyone?). Along the way, many sociologists of religion, like Berger and Rodney Stark, turned on the old secularization thesis and began to proclaim the theory more ideologically-loaded than truly descriptive. Cox, looking back on his once-important book, would eventually note apologetically that he had relied on what the sociologists were claiming at the time. Christian America, it seemed, was not actually dead at all. Not even close.

Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek, is in line to become the new Harvey Cox. In a recent issue of the magazine, he wrote a major piece on the end of Christian America. Meacham relies on a longitudinal survey of the American public (the ARIS study) which shows a 10 percent drop in the number of self-identified Christians and a 7 percent increase in the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation to suggest religious decline. Triumphant secularists and worried Christians alike are chattering away about the decline of Christianity in America.

The meme will make for good newsprint (or maybe I should say newspixels as the papers are dying much more rapidly than Christian America ever could), but it is all severely premature. Consider the work done in 2006 by Baylor University with funding from the Templeton Foundation and fieldwork by Gallup. Their findings countered the secularization narrative and tellingly showed that even among the religiously unaffiliated, nearly two-thirds believe in God or some higher power. That study got a lot less attention, in part because it did not play into the persistent story of religious decline pushed by those anxious for it to occur.

“Christianity is important in America!” is no more a story than “dog bites man.” “The death of Christianity,” on the other hand, grabs eyeballs. Secularists are joined by many Christians who assume religious decline will precede an eschatological event in which God removes his church from the earth. Thus, they expect to hear this kind of story. The narratives of ideological secularists on one hand and end-times theorists like Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth) or Tim LaHaye (Left Behind) are not as different as one might assume.

The wise observer will be more cautious. It was less than five years ago that Garry Wills, flustered by the re-election of George W. Bush, wrote histrionically for The New York Times about “The Day the Enlightenment Went Out.” He bemoaned the power of Christianity over the American people and expressed his own disbelief that his fellow citizens endorsed the Virgin Birth more readily than Darwin’s theory. Bush’s victory, a substantial improvement over his performance in 2000, was largely credited to an unusually heavy turn-out among Catholics and Evangelicals in his favor. Does anyone really think that things have changed so much in five years?

The simple truth of the matter is that America turns on the margins. A movement gets the right politician, finds the right message, and builds a coalition that can command the levers of power. Suddenly, it seems the losers have been cast out and the winners are ascendant. But it is never as simple as that. Nor is it ever really over. Barack Obama is the president. To many, particularly to many social elites, he appears to be the avatar of secular enlightenment. But don’t tell that to the overwhelming majority of his ethnic fan base or to the young, white evangelicals his campaign actively courted. Ronald Reagan was president, too. His rise seemed to augur a new era for religion in the public square. Yet that was not the reason many libertarians and corporate interests supported him.

America is a complicated place. We are a dynamic society because we are a free society. From our birth as a republic, we have been a quasi-stable partnership of enlightenment modernism and vigorous Christian belief working together for the preservation of ordered liberty. There will be more proclamations of the death of Christian America. It is as good a story as the “war” between science and religion, which gets a makeover every time we have a slow news day.

The smart money is on Christianity to be around and relevant for as long as the American republic endures. The even smarter money says the faith will outlast the republic just as it did the empire into which it was born.



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.


No comments: