Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Britain to ease up on Muslim fanatics and concentrate on whites instead

LABOUR slammed the brakes on its war against violent extremism yesterday - amid fears it had upset Muslim voters. Millions spent preventing Asian kids becoming terrorists will now be used to tackle right-wing racists in WHITE areas.

Community cohesion minister Shahid Malik admitted he was softening his stance because Muslims felt stigmatised. But a former Labour aide called the move a "dangerous dilution" of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy. Tories branded it a shameless bid to win back Muslim voters who deserted Labour over Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than £45 million a year has been spent on measures to prevent Al-Qaeda recruiting young Muslims in the UK. It included action to break up Islamic ghettos and stop university hate preachers. But Mr Malik, the first British-born Muslim MP, yesterday unveiled plans to broaden the scope of the campaign.

He announced: "We shall be putting a renewed focus on resisting right-wing racist extremism. We cannot dismiss or underestimate the threat." Mr Malik told Sky News: "You speak to any Muslim in this country and they are as opposed as you and I are to extremism and terrorism. "The frustration is they are constantly linked with terrorism as a community as a whole."

His action contrasts with the tough stance of ex-minister Hazel Blears. She broke links with Muslim groups that failed to denounce extremists. Her adviser Paul Richards said: "The good work by Hazel is being undone in the name of political correctness."

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said: "This has been watered down for purely political reasons. Labour has always seen Muslim voters as its own property."


In Britain today you approach others’ children at your peril

There’s just one element of the stories of my childhood that fascinates my own children. It’s not the absence of mobile phones, or the idea of a world before the internet. It’s the fact that so many of my small crises ended in the same way: with my being rescued by the kind intervention of an unknown man. Whether I was a nine-year-old being kicked to the ground by a gang of girls in the park, a 14-year-old lost in the Welsh hills on a walking holiday or a 12-year-old who had taken a bad fall from a horse and couldn’t ride home, it was adult men who stepped in without hesitation to stop the fighting or give me a lift or bandage my grazed arms.

I might as well be telling my children about life with the Cherokee Indians. This isn’t a world they know, where children expect to explore by themselves and where passing men and women are the people you turn to when things go wrong. Their generation have been taught from the time they start school that all strangers may be dangerous and all men are threats. So children have become frightened of adults, and adults – terrified that any interaction of theirs might be misinterpreted – have become equally frightened of them.

When my offspring and their friends have been mugged on buses, or attacked on the street by teenagers, no one has helped. Every passing adult has looked the other way. The idea that it’s the responsibility of grown-ups to look out for one another’s young is disappearing fast. That isn’t making our children safer. It’s making their lives more fearful, more dangerous and more constrained.

Last week the charity Living Streets reported that half of all five to 10-year-olds have never played in their own streets. Almost nine in 10 of their grandparents had played out and so had many of their parents, but now children were kept inside, imprisoned by the twin fears of traffic and paedophiles. As the Play England organisation has found, parents keep them in because they believe that if they aren’t watching over their child, no other adult will do it for them. Older children, too, are affected. Two years ago research by the Children’s Society showed that 43% of parents thought children shouldn’t be allowed out on their own until they were 14.

What began 25 years or so ago as an understandable desire to raise awareness of child abuse is turning into something extremely destructive – an instinctive suspicion of any encounter between grown-ups and unrelated children. It has happened without any political debate or rational discussion. It’s starting to poison our society. And with every passing month it’s getting worse.

Last month in Bedfordshire, 270 children from four primary schools had their annual sports day without the normal audience of proud parents watching them compete. All adults except teachers were banned. The reason? The organisers could not guarantee that an unsupervised adult might not molest a child. They preferred the certainty of ruining the pleasure of hundreds, and the instilling of general paranoia, to the phenomenally slight possibility of a sexual attack.

This is part of an insidious new orthodoxy that’s taking hold: that only authorised adults have any business engaging with children. It is no longer just about sexual abuse. In Twickenham last month the mother of a five– year-old who was being bullied decided to talk to the offender. She knelt by his chair and asked him politely to stop. The next day she was banned from the classroom for doing something that would have been regarded as rational and responsible behaviour at any other time in the past century.

Much worse was to happen a few days later to Anisa Borsberry, from Tyne and Wear, whose 11-year-old was being bullied by agroup of girls. She, too, asked the bullies to stop. In retaliation, and knowing what a powerful weapon this was to use against an adult, the girls claimed Borsberry had assaulted them. Within hours they admitted lying. Nevertheless, the accusation of assault against a child is regarded as so serious that Borsberry was handcuffed in her home and held in police cells for five hours before hearing that no further action was being taken.

Or there is the case of Carol Hill, the Essex dinner lady threatened with dismissal for telling a mother she was sorry her daughter had been tied up and whipped in the playground. Normal, empathetic human behaviour, you might think. That wasn’t the school’s reaction. Hill was suspended for breaching “pupil confidentiality”.

In every one of these cases a woman has been punished for daring to do what adults have always done in every society: uphold norms of behaviour by talking about them. But it has blown up in their faces because new unwritten rules about engaging with children are apparently being invented every day. The extent of society’s neurosis means the consequences of approaching children are becoming alarmingly unpredictable.

That’s as true for professionals as for anyone else. Traditionally, teachers have been thought of as potential mentors for children or confidants for those in distress. Increasingly they are being warned away from that role and told to keep their distance by schools. Nowhere is that made clearer than in a draft advice guide for teachers issued this spring by the Purcell school for young musicians.

The guide begins by telling staff: “Some adolescents experience periods of profound emotional disturbance and turmoil when they may be unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. They may even be temporarily insane. They can thus present a danger to even the most careful of teachers.” This is child as wild animal; one that may bite at any moment. Teachers are told not to talk to pupils after coaching sessions, but to “usher them out of the room in a brisk no-nonsense manner”. They are told never to text pupils from their private mobiles, but to buy a second one for school use. This “should only be used for arranging appointments; chit chat should be avoided”. Nor can a teacher ever be alone with a pupil in a car, except in case of medical emergency, when the child must be seated in the back, a written record made of time, date and place and a telephone call made to the pupil’s parents to justify it.

The guide concludes that these procedures must become second nature, as any child may accuse a teacher and “your accuser could be of unsound mind”. It finishes with this chilling sentence: “It is helpful to think of current pupils as clients, rather than friends, as a doctor does.”

That these norms are taking hold is a sign of a sick society. What we are creating here is mass mutual distrust. First, children were warned about adults; now adults are being warned about children. It is bad for all of us; bad for our humanity, our happiness and our sense of belonging to anything but a narrow, trusted group. It is also disastrous for any hope of improving social mobility or social cohesion. The effects of this coldness and detachment will be worst for those who need adult guidance and contact most: those children who are growing up without strong social networks around them.

The Labour government appears to understand none of these dangers. Obsessed with physical safety, it is bringing in a screening authority this autumn, one that will cover perhaps one in four adults. It won’t acknowledge the psychological and social disaster that’s unfolding now, nor the pointlessness of much of the exercise. Most abuse is, after all, carried out in the home, and determined abusers will always evade the rules. David Cameron has made some of the right noises by saying children’s behaviour should be a matter for all adults. It will take extraordinary determination to dismantle the walls of suspicion that we have begun to build.


Some Hispanics don't count

"For the first time in a long time," said one "Hispanic" man in the street interviewed on cable TV, "I feel really proud." Others in the "Hispanic community" rejoiced as Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in her statement at the beginning of Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, said: "Your nomination I view with a great sense of personal pride. You are indeed a very special woman. You have overcome adversity and disadvantages (emphasis added)."

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, "Judge Sotomayor, you have overcome many obstacles (emphasis added) in your life that have given you an understanding of the daily realities and struggles faced by everyday people."

Let's talk about the obstacles, adversity and disadvantages of another Hispanic nominee, one who many thought — pre-Sotomayor — worthy of consideration as the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

Born in Honduras — the child of a broken home — this nominee immigrated to America at 17 years of age, arriving with a limited command of the English language. The nominee's mother spoke no English. Four years later, the nominee graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree from Columbia University. The nominee went on to Harvard Law School, served as editor of the Harvard Law Review and received a Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude.

The nominee served as a clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, practiced law in New York and served as an assistant U.S. attorney, later joining the Justice Department as an assistant to the solicitor general for the Clinton administration.

Overcoming personal adversity? The nominee's spouse died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills after the couple suffered through a miscarriage.

The American Bar Association — once hailed by Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as "the gold standard by which judicial candidates are judged" — unanimously gave the nominee its top "well qualified" rating. Yet the nominee — despite an admirable record of overcoming personal and professional "obstacles" and "adversity" — met with a hailstorm of opposition, including a filibuster to prevent an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

The Senate had only 55 votes to end the filibuster; it required 60. If the Democrats had allowed a full vote, the nominee would have had enough Senate votes to reach confirmation. After all, Clarence Thomas got only 52 votes for his confirmation.

Finally, because of fierce opposition by Democratic senators — including a seven-month filibuster staged as a procedure-delaying tactic to deny a full Senate confirmation vote — the nominee withdrew in 2003. "This should serve as a wake-up call to the White House that it cannot simply expect the Senate to rubber-stamp judicial nominees," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

The nominee was Miguel Estrada. The year was 2001, and President Bush had nominated Estrada to the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Had Estrada won the job — and had Republicans retained the White House in 2008 — many would have placed him on the list of possible Supreme Court justices. He, not Sotomayor, could have become that court's first Hispanic justice.

Instead, the "minority sensitive" Democrats treated him like a child molester. One staff strategy memo sent to Durbin in 2001 — when the Democrats ran the Senate Judiciary Committee — called Estrada "especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino (emphasis added) and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., days before chairing a Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearing on Estrada, told the liberal Nation magazine: "(Estrada) is like a Stealth missile — with a nose cone — coming out of the right wing's deepest silo (emphasis added)." When, however, President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, Schumer regained his "compassion" for minorities: "(Republicans) oppose her at their peril."

Opposition to someone's nomination on ideological grounds or "judicial philosophy" is fair game — irrespective of the nominee's race, ethnicity or gender. But Democrats consider sob stories of Democratic nominees relevant to show "obstacles" overcome and "adversity" conquered. As to the sympathetic back story of a Republican nominee — who cares? It means little or nothing — even in the case of a racial or ethnic first — if nominated by the wrong party.

Democrats market themselves as the party of compassion and sensitivity to racial and ethnic minorities. But they do so only selectively. A Republican nominee like Miguel Estrada becomes a "sellout" or a "Tio Taco."

Similarly, Justice Clarence Thomas, following his nomination by President George Herbert Walker Bush, found himself caricatured on the cover of a national black magazine as a mammy-style, handkerchief-capped "Uncle Thomas."

"Hispanic pride" and "overcoming obstacles" count only when the "good guys" say so.


Mideast Peace Starts With Respect

Note to Obama: The Palestinians still haven’t recognized the Jewish state

More than one American president has tried to bring peace to the Middle East, and more than one has failed. So as the Obama administration outlines its own prospectus for a comprehensive settlement to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, it would do well to take note of some potential pitfalls.

Rule No. 1: Respect the sovereignty of democratic allies. When free people in a democracy express their preferences, the United States should respect their opinions. The current administration should not try to impose ideas on allies like Israel.

The administration would also do well to take heed of the Palestinian Authority’s continued refusal to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This is not a trivial matter. A long-term settlement can only be forged on the basis of mutual recognition and respect. To deny the essence of the Zionist project—to rebuild the Jewish people’s ancient homeland—is to call into question the seriousness of one’s commitment to peace.

It is a sad statement of the Palestinians’ approach to peace-making that denial of the Jewish homeland is not simply contained in the openly anti-Semitic leadership of Hamas. It is a widespread belief across the spectrum of Palestinian opinion. This reality must be confronted.

Today’s leadership must never forget that the core historic reason for the conflict is the Arab world’s longstanding rejection of Israel’s existence. The two-state solution was accepted by Israel’s pre-state leadership led by David Ben-Gurion in 1947 when it agreed to the partition plan contained in United Nation’s General Assembly Resolution 181. The Arabs flatly rejected it. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knows all too well, President Bill Clinton’s peace plans in 2000 foundered due to Palestinian rejection of the Jewish state, even as Israel, once again, accepted their right to statehood.

More recent experience in Europe also offers lessons about the dangers of negotiating with terrorists. Over the past year, officials from Britain, France and the European Union all held talks with officials from the “political wing” of Hezbollah in a bid to get the terrorist group to moderate its behavior. Hezbollah is undoubtedly grateful for the legitimacy that these meetings have conferred, but it is not laying down its arms. Indeed, according to a recent report from the Times of London, the group has now stockpiled 40,000 rockets close to the Israeli border.

To be sure, we must have hope. Peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan are useful models. Nonetheless, the recent rebuffs by Jordan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of efforts by the Obama administration to promote a more conciliatory attitude to Israel offer a salient reminder that those who started this conflict may not yet be in a mood to end it, whatever their rhetoric to the contrary.

And then there are the settlements. Undoubtedly, this is a complex matter. Yet the administration must beware of overemphasizing it. Compromises between people of goodwill can be made on the settlements, as Israel has demonstrated in the recent past. But no compromise can be made on Israel’s right to exist inside secure borders unmolested by terrorist groups or threatened by belligerent states.

That’s why an unambiguous strategy explaining precisely how Hamas and Hezbollah can be disarmed and how Iran can be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons is of central importance to any peace plan.

The administration must also be wary of letting Israel’s opponents use the settlement issue as a convenient excuse for failing to make moves of their own. The settlements matter, but they do not go to the core of this decades-old conflict.

Making peace in the Middle East is an unenviable task. It is also a noble calling. To be successful, it will require patience and fortitude. It will also require an ability to stand above the fray, to see the problems for what they are, and the courage to confront them at their source.



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 blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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