Friday, July 31, 2009

Pro-Life Nurse Forced to Assist in Abortion

The debate over conscience protections for health care professionals resurfaced last week as the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit this week against a hospital that forced a pro-life nurse to assist in the abortion of a 22-week old baby.

Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a Catholic nurse, was threatened with "insubordination" charges and the possible loss of her job if she did not participate in the abortion. According to the ADF, the woman seeking the abortion was in stable condition and did not require an immediate abortion. While the hospital knew of Cenzon-DeCarlo's objection to abortion since 2004, they refused to call in another nurse for the job. The ADF reports details just how traumautic this experience was for the nurse:

As part of her nursing duties, Cenzon-DeCarlo was forced to watch the doctor remove the bloody arms and legs of the child from the mother’s body. She was also forced to treat and deliver the bloody body parts of the 22-weekold preborn child to the specimen room.

Imagine the horror this nurse was forced to experience: she was witness to the killing of a baby who already had eyebrows and eyelashes, working vocal cords, and active brain waves.

Regardless of where one stands on abortion, or the "right to choose," the majority of Americans agree that health care professionals have a right to choose as well - to choose NOT to participate in the killing of innocent human beings at their youngest moments in the life.

Thankfully, the ADF has stood up to remind Mount Sinai Hospital, and others all across this country, that the First Amendment protection of religious freedom applies to everyone, even pro-life health care professionals.

President Bush put in place a conscience protections rule before he left office in January 2009, but Obama has since proposed the rule be repealed.


Capitalism is a human instinct

Excerpt from Michael Medved

The yen to build wealth in a market economy not only survives every sort of economic crisis and business scandal but also endures the most ferocious attempts at political repression. The Cultural Revolution in China raged between 1966 and 1976 and represented one of history’s most savage efforts to uproot and obliterate the business instinct. Literally millions of those identified as “class enemies,” “revisionists” or “running dogs” suffered violent attack, imprisonment, torture, rape, confiscation of property, and execution. Senior Communist Party historians now acknowledge that “in a few places, it even happened that ‘counterrevolutionaries’ were beaten to death and in the most beastly fashion had their flesh and liver consumed by their killers.” The most authoritative estimates of the number of murder victims suggest 500,000 in the years 1966-69 alone --- a total collection of corpses easily exceeding in number the well publicized hordes who simultaneously partied at the Woodstock Festival.

Nevertheless, a quarter century later the Chinese regime not only tolerated but celebrated the same business values and pursuit of profit that had formerly provoked unspeakable persecution and even mass cannibalism. As the brilliant French economist Guy Sorman observes in his latest book, “Economics Does Not Lie” (2009): “It is a remarkable historical event that the largest country in the world, under the guidance of a Party that tried to reinvent economics from scratch in the 1960’s, has admitted that, after all, there is only one economic system that works: the market economy.”

While others might claim that the survival of business values in China stems from the long national tradition of honoring merchants and artisans, Sorman asserts that the impulse to seek profit and self-improvement is entirely transnational. “After banishing the pursuit of wealth for fifty years,” he writes, “the Party now encourages it. It is once again permissible in China to work in order to make money. Indeed, this is the only authorized and encouraged activity. We see that the Chinese have the same aspirations as other peoples. From the poor peasant to the dynamic entrepreneur, everyone wants to improve his lot and that of his children. The homo economicus is a universal being, found in all civilizations.”

The Soviet Empire in Eastern Europe may have shed even more blood in its futile effort to wipe out that “universal being.” The Nobel prize-winning novelist and historian suggesting that some 60 million “kulaks,” or independent farmers, died at the hands of Lenin and Stalin for the crime of working for themselves rather than the state; official Soviet-era low-range estimates say “only” 700,000 met their doom. In any event, the survivors and heirs of that nightmare regime now co-exist with an aggressive business elite more flamboyant, corrupt, and ambitious than the most notorious captains of industry in America’s gilded age.

Just five years after the collapse of the old Soviet Union and the new independence of its one-time satellite states, I traveled to Warsaw for a lecture to an international media conference at the Palace of Science and Culture. This monstrous building, the tallest in Poland and the eighth tallest in the European Union, has dominated the local skyline since its construction began in 1952, and it sprawls over four square blocks with its various wings and subdivisions. Originally known as the “Joseph Stalin Palace of Science and Culture,” it featured a special throne room from which later Soviet dictators could watch the proceedings of Community Party congresses that convened regularly in the Congress Hall.

By 1994, the Poles had discovered the best possible way to insult Stalin’s evil ghost. Every day a veritable army of peddlers and merchants surrounded the Palace, setting up literally thousands of booths to sell every sort of merchandise from shoes to food to cameras to wigs to cigarettes to pirated CDs to traditional handicrafts. The intense haggling exemplified capitalism in an especially vital, even elemental form; after nearly fifty years of ideological efforts to suppress these instincts, the mobs around Stalin’s former Palace reveled in their newfound ability to buy and sell.

The people of every age who came out every day to sell all manner of junk in 1990’s Warsaw didn’t intend to make a self-conscious, pro-capitalist statement, or with the expectation that they’d get rich. They seized the chance to do business in the public square to earn a few zlotys, and to savor the festive communal atmosphere and the unstoppable energy of that moment in their history.

My own singular adventure in ground-level business building similarly stemmed from a lust for personal adventure and experimentation rather than any conscious commitment to a free market agenda. At age 17 in the summer of 1966, having completed my freshman year at Yale, I needed to earn some serious money for my continued education to supplement my parents’ contribution and my National Merit Scholarship. I initially used the university’s alumni association to secure a minimum-wage bank job near my family’s home in West L.A., but my boredom in the institution’s copy room quickly led to disaster. I liked to play around with the bank’s bulky, primitive Xerox machine, trying to produce some artistic photographic collages, but managed during my second week of employment to set the contraption on fire. The resulting blaze did no serious damage to the building but it definitively ended my banking career and led to desperation regarding my wealth-generating prospects for the rest of the summer.

Rather than doing nothing while I checked the want ads, I began auditing an American history class at the summer session at UCLA and quickly devised a scheme to try to sell notes and “study guides” to the more than 500 students who attended the lectures. I took class notes in the morning, walked over to the library to type them up on master mimeograph sheets (in a barbaric era long before the advent of laptops) and then made enough copies to hand out to every student in the class during the first week. At the bottom of the thorough notes I also began a countdown till the end of the free notes—hoping that the bulk of the huge class would become so addicted to my services that they’d buy a subscription to my newly launched company, “Stratford Study Guides.” (named for the Bard of Avon, and the classy anglophilic sound of the designation).

Everything worked beautifully and I began to sell subscriptions, but the entire scheme came close to collapse when the professor (very reasonably) objected. He could have thrown me out of the lecture hall since I’d never registered to attend or even audit his course, but instead he merely protested that my virtually word-for-word transcriptions of his talks violated his copyright and led students to ignore him since they could count on my very detailed notes. To settle the dispute, I suggested that Stratford Study Guides would become real study guides – still transcribing his lectures more or less verbatim, but leaving at least four blanks in each sentence that the students would need to fill in for themselves. For instance, I might report that: “To support the ratification of the Constitution, ____________, James Madison, and ______________ wrote a series of brilliantly argumentative essays known as ____________.”

The lecturer loved (and, more importantly, authorized) the new approach and by the middle of the summer term the overwhelming majority of students in the class had purchased one of my subscriptions. By working frantically and constantly (I can still smell the sharp alcohol tang of the master mimeograph sheets and recall their slimy feel) I managed to hand out the previous day’s lecture notes to all subscribers (as I punched their cards) at the conclusion of every daily lecture. I also began offering tutoring services (at the suggestion of some of my customers) to assist in preparation for midterms and finals. These personalized sessions led to a brief but thrilling summer romance (unfortunately not with my wife Diane, who was still in Middle School at the time and didn’t start UCLA till four years later).

The summer’s experiment with Stratford Study Guides did wonders for my self-confidence, selling ability, historical knowledge and bank account. As the term came to an end and I prepared to return to New Haven, several satisfied customers and even the initially dubious professor approached me as potential investors with the idea of perpetuating and expanding my little business. If I stayed behind at UCLA, why not replicate my successful formula in other large lecture courses by hiring a group of note-takers who could prepare study guides at my direction? Perhaps I could make some deal with the university book store to help distribute the lecture-based material, plus other student aids that I could generate to help prepare for tests and even term papers.

In one sense, I loved the idea of staying back in California and building my own business but my mother persuaded me that it made no sense to suspend my own college education so I could help other students make easier progress toward their degrees. I did hope to keep “my company” (there was no incorporation or anything of the kind) going until I could resume directing its operations the following summer, so I sold it to a friend of mine with the understanding that he’d continue running Stratford Study Guides in some capacity. I believe the purchase price for my going concern amounted to the princely fee of $50, which ended up as a total waste for the new tycoon who quickly abandoned the whole effort due to lack of focus as his UCLA course demands intensified.

Like my mom, my father wanted me to return to Yale but he watched my business develop with particularly keen interest. He had begun plotting to leave his corporate and government jobs to open his own high tech business providing “hybrid opto-electronic devices” – a far more sophisticated line of products than mimeographed lecture notes. Within three years, he’d successfully launched MERET (MEdved REsearch and Technology) and then my kind brother Jonathan also caught the entrepreneurial bug. At the University of California, Berkeley, he enjoyed conspicuous success with a company called “Meshuggeneh Brothers”--- even though none of his real life meshuggeneh (crazy) brothers managed to help him with it. He delivered over-stuffed, over-priced deli sandwiches he made from food he bought in bulk to dorm rooms and frat houses at Cal to help fortify his fellow students who needed nourishment during late night study. Jonathan has gone on to build a fruitful and internationally recognized career as a venture capitalist in Israel.

In all of these oddly assorted family enterprises we certainly hoped to make money but, like most others inspired by the romance and adventure of business, we also looked for other sorts of pay – for my father, the respect (and in fact awe) of his physicist colleagues when he turned out products they deemed impossible to produce, for Jon the grateful joy of a hungry dorm bound fellow-student into a huge, freshly prepared pastrami and rye at two in the morning before a major test, and for me the heart-fluttering experience of offering a tutoring session about Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and the Great Compromise of 1850 while a buxom California co-ed listened with rapt attention and dewy, admiring eyes. Business, even in its most rudimentary sense, builds more than profits – it builds relationships.

The importance of those relationships intensifies during periods of financial turmoil and uncertainty, helping to explain the stubborn survival of the business ethos through every crisis and challenge. “Considerable courage and perseverance are required to start and keep a good shop running,” writes Joseph Epstein of Northwestern University. In responding to Napoleon’s ill-considered dismissal of the British as a “nation of shopkeepers,” Epstein extolled the skill and determination required to “keep shop” – reminding me that even my dad, with his several dozen employees, referred to his fiber optics company as his “shop.” As Epstein wrote (in the Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2009): “Running a good shop is a service to one’s community, of much greater value, in my view, than the work of two hundred social workers, five hundred psychotherapists, and a thousand second-rate poets – and more honorable than the efforts of the vast majority of the members of Congress. A nation of shopkeepers, far from being the put-down Napoleon thought, sounds more and more like an ideal to which a healthy country ought to aspire.”

That aspiration to build and defend businesses arises from the very core of our humanity and for many Americans involves an important religious component. One of the most famous of all Biblical verses (Genesis 1:27) declares: “So God created Man in His image, in the image of God he created him…” Jewish sages have never understood the reference to connote a physical resemblance between man and God, but rather to emphasize the Godlike gift of creativity. As the Creator busies Himself eternally with the business of constant making and shaping, bringing order out of chaos (a universe once “formless and void”), so human beings, in His likeness, feel the constant urge to create, to connect and organize.

This creative urge gave rise to capitalism, with artisans and craftsmen (who used their own divine power to shape precious things with their hands) playing a decisive role. Historians often cite the 13th Century development of the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe along the Baltic and North Sea as the beginnings of medieval mercantile system. Certainly, goldsmiths (who skillfully shaped the most precious of metals according to their will) became the first bankers, making clear the creative essence of a modern financial system.

The current system will adjust to its shocks and catastrophes and continue to create, harnessing the God-given impulse of humans everywhere. Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek put the turmoil in an appropriate perspective: “What we are experiencing is not a crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of finance, of democracy, of globalization and ultimately of ethics,” he writes. “The simple truth is that with all its flaws, capitalism remains the most productive economic engine we have yet invented. Like Churchill’s line about democracy, it is the worst of all economic systems, except for the others.”

On a more ebullient note, Bertie Charles Forbes (1880-1954), the Scottish immigrant founder of Forbes magazine, once memorably declared: “Business was originated to produce happiness.” To produce happiness, maybe not, but to pursue it--- most certainly.


"Never write anything down"

That's advice that's been given to many people over the years and it may be wiser than ever these days, particularly for Australian employers. Many people are unable to acknowledge their own limitations and a lawsuit could follow if those limitations are mentioned in a recoverable way. Australian worker-protection and anti-discrimination laws mean that nothing written down about an employeee or job applicant is private

Have you ever had that creeping feeling that the reason you didn’t get a job was because someone, somewhere stuck a big knife in your back? Managers who seemed fine up until the day you left suddenly turned toxic when the reference checker called. Or perhaps an enthusiastic recruiter cooled on you after seeing your racy photos from Indy on Facebook?

The amazing thing is that you can act on your suspicions and apply to see the notes made about you during the recruitment process. That’s right. Under the existing Privacy Act you can apply to an employer or a recruiter to find out what has been said about you. And now under the Fair Work Act there could be more to check for but more on that later.

Harmers Workplace Lawyers senior associate, Bronwyn Maynard, says candidates can just apply directly to the employer or recruiter. There is no third-party process. Ms Maynard says there are some exemptions such as where the records include personal information about others or it is commercially sensitive. There is no set timeframe for employers to follow but Ms Maynard says expecting an answer back within 30 days is reasonable.

You can check to see any notes made about you during the recruitment process are accurate and relevant. If not, you can request any inaccuracies be corrected. If you deem the information “irrelevant”, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner. I did call the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and as far as they know, no one has ever made a complaint.

I will pass on what a hiring manager confided to me as a good example of info that could be deemed irrelevant. Sitting at a lunch this guy told me he didn’t hire a woman for a receptionist role because she had too many “friends” on Facebook and he was worried she would be spending all her time updating her posts. If he included this in notes made about the candidate and the candidate applied to see those notes, a claim could follow.

Social networking websites are hot with those sourcing candidates so using them to screen candidates is not a stretch. Indeed, Ms Maynard actually knows of a company that was none too happy when it discovered its line managers were collecting candidate info from social networking websites. She said the company “implemented formal policies [to] forbid the use of social media as a research tool for candidate information gathering – as they deemed this type of personal information to be illegitimate and irrelevant to their business.” “Importantly, employers must remember that these privacy obligations apply even if the information gathered was obtained from a public source as would be the case for many personal details included on an individual’s blog, twitter, Facebook or MySpace page,” she said.

The Privacy Act also requires employers and recruiters to tell you they have collected personal information about you; explain the purpose of gathering the information and let you know who else will see the information.

Ms Maynard says the Fair Work Act, which came into effect on July 1, 2009, offers candidates added protections. Under the “General Protections” section of the Fair Work Act, employers and recruiters cannot treat someone adversely for exercising a workplace right. Put in the recruitment context, this could mean that if you had made an unfair dismissal claim or worker’s compensation claim in the past, this information could not be used to discriminate against you on the job hunt.

Okay, so there is nothing to stop a savvy line manager or recruiter from not including incriminating items in their notes on a particular candidate. However, one HR manager told me she and colleagues struggle to comply with the Privacy Act so those notes are out there waiting for you.


The hate that dare not speak its name

Islamic terrorists identify their motivations and deeds as Islamic -- including Koranic references -- but we are not supposed to mention that, apparently. Comment from Australia below by Janet Albrechtsen

LANGUAGE police should stop tiptoeing and call these terrorists what they are: Islamo-fascists. The bodies of slain Australians in Jakarta were not yet back in the country when a new report warned us last week against referring to Islamo-fascists as -- dare one say it -- Islamo-fascists. If we want to reduce alienation and radicalism among young Muslims we must watch our language, says A Lexicon on Terror, a book compiled by the Victoria Police and the Australian Multicultural Foundation.

Multicultural Foundation head Hass Dellal told The Age that the wholesale branding of Islam with violence and extremism was of great concern. Speaking at a conference last week Stephen Fontana, the assistant commissioner for counter-terrorism co-ordination, said that "a comment we think is harmless, some communities read as an attack".

Would someone kindly lock up these language police for crimes against the English language? An attack is what happened in Jakarta when innocent hotel guests were murdered at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels. And it is, quite literally, the bleeding obvious to point out that the perpetrators of the carnage are a group of Islamist militants who twist the tenets of Islam to suit their ideological purposes. They seek to bring down democracy in Indonesia and punish Western nations for fighting the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, with the ultimate aim of creating an Islamic caliphate. Yet while these terrorists go to great lengths to promote their Muslim identity and their militant Islamist ideology, it seems we are not allowed to mention that now.

There is nothing wrong with crafting careful language when dealing with terrorism. For years political leaders have used terms such as Islamist terrorist or Islamo-fascist to carefully distinguish militants from the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims. But there is a difference between being careful and being cowardly. The kind of zealous language policing endorsed by the Victoria Police and the Multicultural Foundation encourages us to hide from the truth.

Their new whitewash language is not just daft, it's dangerous. Clarity of language is a critical tool if we are serious about uncovering and understanding militant Islam. After so many attacks and the murder of so many innocent people, why would we cower from identifying the drivers of their Islamist extremism?

Yet there was too much cowering and not enough clarity from Attorney-General Robert McClelland when he addressed the Australian Strategic Policy Institute last week. Endorsing the language police's Lexicon of Terrorism project, the A-G's speech was littered with references to "violent extremism", "violent extremists", "violent extremist messages", "extremist beliefs" and "extremist ideology". McClelland was too frightened to construct a sentence that included the word Islamism. Instead he quoted from Ed Husain, in his book The Islamist, who has no problem referring to "Islamist extremists". Apparently the A-G believes it is acceptable for a Muslim to speak with factual accuracy but the rest of us must resort to meaningless generalities for fear of radicalising Muslim youth.

The suggestion from McClelland and senior police that using terms such as Islamo-fascists may drive young Muslims into the arms of jihadists is dubious. I'm willing to wager that those drawn to violence have other matters on their minds and other forces pulling them towards violence than the language employed by Westerners.

If we submit a questionnaire to young would-be jihadists asking them to list, on a scale of one to 100, the reasons they might choose jihad over, say, becoming a pastry chef or a train driver, I'm guessing none are going to suggest they are fed-up with the way Westerners used the term Islamo-fascist. Instead, they may list matters such as hating democracy, achieving glory for Islam and Muslims, destroying the infidel enemies around them, wanting to bring to account those countries that sent infidel troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and so on. That's what the present generation of Islamist terrorists tells us and it may be useful to take them at their word.

In the A-G's woolly world, how exactly does a newspaper report on Islamic militancy if the only acceptable phrase is "violent extremism"? The Australian's Sally Neighbour has done a stellar job reporting on the role played by Islamic boarding schools such as al-Mukmin at Ngruki in Solo, Central Java, in the violent campaign to set up an Indonesian Islamic state. Described by its co-founder and Jemaah Islamiah leader Abu Bakar Bashir as "a crucible for the formation of cadres of mujaheddin" with a mission "to nurture zeal for jihad so that love for jihad and martyrdom grow in the soul of the mujaheddin", it becomes clear that Islam is used to fuel violence among young Muslim men.

As Neighbour reported last week, "The Ngruki school and others linked to JI -- chiefly the Darul Syahadah ('house of martyrs') and Al Muttaqin schools, both in Central Java -- have produced no less than dozens of young recruits linked to a string of terrorist attacks, starting with the first Bali bombings in 2002." Would the A-G have us refrain from reporting the truth, that a handful of radical Islamic schools is a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists?

There are no such sensibilities about calling a spade a bloody shovel when Christian extremists firebomb abortion clinics. No concerns about wholesale branding of Christianity by using the Christian word. Nor is there a fear that using the word will radicalise young Christians. In other areas, too, we don't shy away from using descriptors to explain extremism.

The US Department of Homeland Security had no misgivings about producing an intelligence assessment in April headed Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalisation and Recruitment. The nine-page report, which predicts a surge in violence given the present economic and political climate of the US, is littered with references to "right-wing terrorist and extremist groups".

Yet when it comes to militant Islam, we are asked to whitewash our language, tiptoeing around the truth for fear of offending and radicalising Muslims. One might have been forgiven for thinking we had long ago rejected this nonsense of letting the Islamist tail wag the Western dog. Since September 11, politicians of all hues have been falling over themselves to make it clear that the perpetrators of violence are fringe-group Islamist extremists who exploit Islam for their own ideological, anti-Western purposes. Politicians have made it clear specifically to praise, and seek the support of, moderate Muslims.

Wait on. Dellal told The Age that we should also avoid using the term "moderate Muslim" because it suggested to Muslims that they were not true to their faith. When the word moderate is labelled as a menacing, you know the thin blue line of the language police has become a perilously thick one.



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.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Must not satirize Muslims

It was pretty game for a Jewish comedian to do it but he does after all satirize just about anybody. But one can't expect Arabs to understand the rich tradition of Jewish comedy, of course

Sacha Baron Cohen has stepped up his security after being threatened by a militant Palestinian group angered at its portrayal in the film Brüno. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a coalition of Palestinian militias in the West Bank, said in a statement released to a Jerusalem-based journalist that it was “very upset” that it featured in the film starring Baron Cohen’s homosexual fashionista alter ego. “We reserve the right to respond in the way we find suitable against this man,” it said. “The movie was part of a conspiracy against the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.”

The London-born comic is taking the threat seriously and has improved security for himself and his family in preparation for violent reprisals.

The group is alleged to be responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shootings. It has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the United States. Baron Cohen’s Austrian character ridicules the Martyrs’ Brigades when he attempts to get himself kidnapped during a meeting with Ayman Abu Aita, who is identified in the film as the leader of the organisation.

His character is shown telling Mr Abu Aita: “I want to be famous. I want the best guys in the business to kidnap me. Al-Qaeda is so 2001.” Brüno then suggests that Mr Abu Aita remove his moustache, explaining: “Because your king Osama looks like a kind of dirty wizard or homeless Santa.”

The group condemned the use of the interview with Mr Abu Aita. “This was a dirty use of our brother, Ayman, and we don’t accept that the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is part of the film,” the statement said. Mr Abu Aita claims that he was tricked into appearing in the film and that he is no longer involved with the Martyrs’ Brigades. He has threatened to sue Baron Cohen. “This man, I think he is not a man,” Mr Abu Aita said. “He is not saying the truth about me. He lied.”

Mr Abu Aita’s lawyer, Hatem Abu Ahmad, said that he is preparing a legal action against Baron Cohen and Universal Studios alleging that the Martyrs’ Brigade reference could get his client in trouble with the Israelis and the homosexual association could get him killed by the Palestinians.

Mr Abu Ahmad said: “This joke is very dangerous. We are not in the United States, we are not in Europe, we are in the Middle East and the world operates differently here.” Aaron Klein, the WorldNet reporter who received the statement from the Martyrs’ Brigades, said: “These are terrorists. They are against feminism, gay rights and abortion. Once I asked them what would they do if they found out one of their members was a homosexual. They said they would cut off his head.”

Baron Cohen also angered Orthodox Jews during the filming of Brüno in Jerusalem when he nearly provoked a riot as he strutted down the street in a sexed-up Hasidic outfit with skintight shorts.


“Look at the evil people in the world — Saddam Hussein, Hitler, Stalin — what do they all have in common? Moustaches”

“Is it a coincidence that all the good people have long hair, like Jesus, and like hippies and, you know, Rod Stewart”

“Vassup! Being gay is the new coolest thing, so that’s why I’ve come to the gayest part of America — Alabama”

“How cool is Jesus? Is He cooler than the Backstreet Boys?”

“The rise of club music, the fall of apartheid — coincidence or not?"


No smiling, no hugging

Things sure have changed since I was a kid. It used to be okay to smile. Encouraged even. And hugging someone was considered nice, friendly, compassionate.

Today, in my home state of Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, is discouraging smiles. No, not just discouraging smiles, wiping them out entirely. The DMV is telling people not to smile — or say “cheese” — when getting their photos taken for their drivers' licenses. If they do smile, the picture cannot go on their license and they have to take another.

And all over the country, public schools are banning hugging.

Why the official suppression of friendliness and good cheer? Well, in schools the administrators apparently cannot tell a friendly hug from a sexual grope, or a jovial high-five from a bullying slap. So they're outlawing all touching.

When I was in school, I don't remember any rules against hugging or holding hands or even kissing — unless folks got carried away. And we trusted teachers and principals to make the judgment as to what was going too far. Now, any touching invites what one administrator calls a “gray area.”

The DMV may have a better excuse to suppress smiles and grins and such: They are developing facial recognition software, and smiles get in the way. It's all to protect us from identity theft, they say. And yet isn't it odd that protecting us makes us less human? Can that really be protection?


A teachable moment indeed -- because of a cop who refused to grovel

Comments below by Pat Buchanan

Sunday, professor Louis Henry Gates retreated from his threat to sue Sgt. James Crowley. Friday, President Obama retreated from his charge that the Cambridge cops "acted stupidly."

As Crowley has not budged an inch -- his arrest of Gates was correct, and there will be no apology -- there is no doubt who won this face-off. Game, set, match, Crowley and the Cambridge cops. It is, indeed, as Obama said Friday, a "teachable moment." .... the two most powerful black elected officials in the U.S., with no hard knowledge of what happened, came down on the side of a black professor, their buddy, against a white cop and his department, implying racial motivation in the arrest of Gates.

Yet there is still not a shred of evidence for their rush to judgment. Crowley's partner in the arrest was a black officer who said he stands "100 percent" behind Crowley and that Gates acted "strange." And watching TV coverage for a week, this writer has yet to hear one cop anywhere condemn Crowley's handling of the incident.

Outside the fevered imagination of Louis Henry Gates, then, where is the evidence Crowley engaged in racial profiling? The victim here is Sgt. Crowley, not professor Gates. Crowley is the one defamed as a "racist" and "rogue cop." He is the officer whom Gov. Patrick implied perpetrated "every black man's nightmare." He is the cop on the Cambridge force who, Obama told the nation, "acted stupidly."

If anyone has grounds for legal action, it is Crowley. Indeed, upon what grounds would Gates sue? That he was wrongly arrested, when Crowley, his black partner, the Cambridge P.D., the police union and 1,000 cops would gladly come to Cambridge to testify that Crowley went by the book? Moreover, no one says Crowley abused Gates in any way. And there were witnesses in the street to the arrest. And Crowley apparently had his mike open, and a recording of the incident exists.

But if Obama's racial reflexes served him badly Wednesday night, his political instincts served him well him on Friday. For he must have sensed that this confrontation was shaping up as three powerful black men coming down hard on a white cop with a stellar record who had only done his conscientious duty. Obama picked up the phone, called Crowley, regretted his choice of words about him and the Cambridge P.D., walked into the press room and told the nation Crowley was a "good guy," he himself had misspoken, that he and the sergeant had talked about getting together for a beer. It was a goodly slice of humble pie the president ate there, but it was a class act. To ask more would be churlish. As for Patrick and Gates, they, too, should eat a little crow.

The president's decision to go before the White House press corps also suggests Obama is acutely aware of the political peril here. For while his black support is rock solid, his white support is soft. And Americans will usually side with an Irish cop over a Harvard don, especially when the professor is pulling rank and the cop is right.

"This isn't about me," says Gates. Sorry, professor, it is about you. You have shown the country why William F. Buckley won laughter all over America when he wittily observed that, rather than be governed by the Harvard faculty, he would prefer to be governed by the first 300 names in the Cambridge telephone directory.


Elderly Brits kept impoverished by a socialist government that spends most of its money on a myriad of bureaucrats

Retired elderly better treated in Romania and Poland!!?? That's "caring" British socialism for you

Britain has a higher proportion of pensioners living below the poverty line than Romania, figures show. The elderly in this country are among the poorest in Europe, according to a breakdown by charities. Only in Estonia, Latvia and Cyprus are the aged more likely to be among the poorest in society. The comparisons, based on EU figures, follow a decade in which pensioners have been slipping down the league table of wealth in Britain.

This is largely because state benefits for the worst-off pensioners have slipped behind those available to the other poorest group in society, single mothers. Ministers have also acknowledged that elderly people with their own incomes and homes suffer because of the impact of soaring council tax bills.

The figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical arm, were compiled by the charities Age Concern and Help the Aged. They reveal the proportion of pensioners in each EU country who live on incomes below 60 per cent of average.

The measure does not identify how many older people have plentiful material goods such as houses and cars despite low incomes, and is often regarded as a measure of equality rather than real poverty. But the charities said they were useful to show the number of older people who are at risk of living in poverty.

In Britain nearly one in three over-65s, or 30 per cent, are on incomes below the poverty threshold. That is lower only than the 51 per cent in Cyprus, 33 per cent in Latvia, and 33 per cent in Estonia.

Britain’s 30 per cent is equal to the 30 per cent poverty risk rate in the other Baltic republic, Lithuania. In comparison, only 19 percent fall below the threshold in Romania and in Poland that figure is just eight per cent. The elderly also fare considerably better in Germany where the proportion below the poverty line is 17 per cent, in France 13 per cent and Holland 10 per cent.

Least likely pensioners to be poor are in the Czech republic, where only one in 20, five per cent, falls below the 60 per cent poverty line.

The figures also show that pensioners are more likely to be poor in Britain than other groups. While pensioners here come fourth from bottom of the table, for child poverty Britain ranks fifth from bottom and for poverty risk among adults under 65 ninth.

The study comes ahead of a major Government review of pensioner poverty due to be published this week. The charities said other research has shown that older people are skipping meals to save money and two out of five cannot afford to buy essential items.

Age Concern director Michelle Mitchell said: ‘Even before the recession set in, many older people were not keeping up with the pace at which the general wealth of the nation has increased.’



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.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hollywood's new McCarthyism

HUAC was the House Un-American Activities Committee. It preceded Joe McCarthy but had similar aims and procedures

There are indications [that McCarthyism] could be happening again. Not in committee hearings, but in the way that people’s politics and origins are being examined. We are seeing a new kind of fear — that unless a producer has a product that fulfils certain criteria, it won’t get made. It could be political, it could be old-fashioned political correctness but the film has to pass a test that, basically, is a matter of genre. The mere suggestion that the subject does not fit someone else’s idea is enough for it not even to get to a story conference. As Larry Gelbart, who wrote the M*A*S*H TV series, put it to me: “HUAC was a bad dream — but one we are dreaming again.”

The mood is no longer anti-communist, although it could easily be, and is not confined to America. In fact, those two factors came into play a couple of months ago in the shape of Ken Loach, the left-wing British director, who, had he been working in Tinseltown 60 years ago, would surely have been blacklisted, and cast into oblivion.

Loach, that believer in freedom of speech and thought, persuaded the organisers of this year’s Edinburgh Film Festival to refuse £300 from the Israeli Embassy to bring over an Israeli writer so she could see her work on the screen. If the money were accepted, he said, the festival should be boycotted. Even worse, the festival organiser, not only agreed, but said Loach spoke “on behalf of the film community”. Which film community? It was true HUAC stuff, reminiscent of the time when puppet organisations were set up in Hollywood virtually to pledge allegiance to the committee.

Sir Jeremy Isaacs sought to put the festival right. “The idea that he (Loach) should lend himself to this denial of a film-maker’s right to show her own work is absolutely appalling.” But that was exactly what HUAC did. The terrible thing is that the thought was there in Edinburgh. Eventually the festival met the expenses.

In Hollywood, the signs are perhaps less obvious. Studios don’t exist as they did when the moguls (with the exception of Sam Goldwyn) capitulated to HUAC, rather than be branded as communists themselves. But the operations are now run by multinational corporations, which do not take kindly to big business being attacked on screen. Meanwhile, film-makers are scared of being dubbed non-PC. The arrival of Barack Obama has no doubt strengthened that feeling, as has the presence of black senior military figures. There is a perception that to get movies made, it is necessary to exploit that situation — out of fear, perhaps, that minorities will resent the idea of a white male presuming to have one of those jobs.

Ever since the Harrison Ford movie Patriot Games, it has become virtually the norm for the senior admiral (general/air force commander/ judge) in a film to be black. In the brilliant TV series, The West Wing, which would never have got past the HUAC censors, the defence chief was also black. The incoming president was Hispanic.

Women have never had as many opportunities. For every harridan in The Devil Wears Prada, there is a Desperate Housewife, and actresses such as Dame Helen Mirren who played an editor in State of Play.

In isolation, these are honourable developments, but what lies behind them is worrying. Shortly before his death two years ago, my friend, the screen writer and director Melville Shavelson, who produced a documentary about the HUAC days, told me: “I couldn’t get a movie made today because I would have to please too many people. I wouldn’t be allowed to say that someone from a racial minority in high office was bad. I wouldn’t be able to upset the makers of my breakfast cereal. I couldn’t give the idea that I support Israel.” And that from a man who made a film starring Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Angie Dickinson and John Wayne about the foundation of the state of Israel (Cast a Giant Shadow).

Gregory Peck was one of America’s most attractive actors. Long after I wrote his biography, he told me: “Nobody wants to give me work, even old man parts — because I like to add lines which they think could be dangerous for 21st-century audiences.” Peck had been featured on Richard Nixon’s famous “enemies list”. “Now,” he said, “they think I am too establishment.” He died in 2003.

The traffic is not all one way. Ed Asner, who was well known as the editor in the television series Lou Grant, and is a former president of the Screen Actors Guild, said that there was still a bias against those perceived as left-wing. Asner believes that the series was cancelled, despite getting top ratings, because of pressure from the network, which thought he was involved in the “wrong” kind of politics.

Looking back, Larry Gelbart recalled, as a young man, sitting in a producer’s office and seeing the executive offering an agent work for a client — and then watching him check a sheet of paper. “ ‘Oh no,’ he said, ‘We can’t use him’. The paper was his blacklist.” As he now says: “Being on the blacklist was a badge of honour.” But it is one that any surviving blacklistee could do without. And, for people in the film business today, one with a health warning attached.


New tolerance movement needed?

In much of what is considered the period of enlightenment up to today, people and governments have been slowly realizing that intolerance is an evil that cannot be allowed if one is maintain a person's basic human rights without aggression. Religious intolerance was responsible for untold deaths and for people being forced by the state to only worship as the state allowed or risk being executed, imprisoned, mutilated and robbed. Racial intolerance has likewise caused millions of deaths, family separations, thefts, mutilations and imprisonment.

There has been a great deal of talk of tolerance in America throughout our years as nation, yet tolerance has had a hard time being accepted. Various races, cultures, genders and religions have been unacceptable to many and the outcome usually has made prejudice manifest itself in laws of aggression against the intolerable minority.

As people have become more enlightened about the equality, or at least the peaceful toleration, of the races, genders, cultures, sexual preferences and religious preferences America has learned to deal far more fairly towards all people.

Unfortunately people today in too many ways are far less tolerant then they were at the founding of our nation. Most people used to have the mindset that as long as you minded your own business and didn’t steal, defraud or harm another human that you should be left alone. They may not have agreed with you about what charities you supported, or failed to support, but they would never use force to make you support their preferred charity.

Many of our earlier countrymen and women rightly were intolerant with the horrific institution of slavery (unfortunately not enough), still even while their government had laws in place supporting the crime of slavery, very few would ever have thought to use force to keep a person from medicating themselves as they saw fit. When they knew the person was using drugs or alcohol recreationally they wouldn’t consider it a crime, even though much of this type of drug use was seen as a vice. In this respect they were far more tolerant of their neighbor’s freedoms then we are today.

People were tolerant of the right to defend oneself and their family by not using the aggression of government to keep anyone from being armed. They knew that if they were to remain secure then it was an obligation to train in the skills required for responsible firearm ownership. Certainly they recognized that to be armed and skilled in the use of firearms was not just what got them dinner. They knew firearms were for self-defense and as a last resort a defense against tyrannical government. We should all keep in mind that keeping and bearing arms is not an act of aggression. In fact it is an act of defense.

Before airlines stopped armed passengers from boarding aircraft in the name of safety, hijackings of American aircraft were all but unheard of. September 11th, 2001 shows just how much safer America has become from this policy. We fear guns in the hands of our neighbors more than we fear our government. Yet which should we be more intolerant of? Citizens boarded aircraft with guns and virtually no hijackings occurred. Citizens were disarmed and not only did hijackings occur, but also this failed policy ended with over 3000 dead. I vote we trust citizens with guns. Let’s stop the intolerance against citizen gun owners.

It really is a timely question, “What should we tolerate.” The answer, as individuals, is whatever we prefer to tolerate and what we cannot tolerate we can work to change through example and persuasion. But if what we are intolerant of doesn’t harm anyone or steal from them, but is what we consider an immoral act then using the force of government to enforce our morality is an immoral intolerant act of aggression.

A recent example of this is our own President Bush calling to have Congress pass legislation to outlaw same-sex marriages. Thomas Jefferson said “It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” He was referring to the things that government should have authority over and what it, under no circumstances, should seek to control. Marriage in general and same-sex marriages as well should not be within the purview of government regulation, recognition or control. Marriages neither pick our pockets nor break our legs and according to the First Amendment should never come under the control of government.

Marriages are spiritual acts between people and their higher power not acts to be aggressively regulated against non-violent individuals. To marry, a person must have to have permission from the state and pay the state money for a license. Few acts by our government are so openly intolerant of people’s rights. If for some reason we believe we are protecting people from disease, or lord knows what, then how come we don’t license everyone who has sex and charge them with criminal penalties for those who have sex without a license. Is the licensing and regulation of marriages and who can or cannot marry beginning to seem like an intolerant act of aggression against peaceful people? It should.

As I suggested in the title of this essay we need a new tolerance movement. Either we are a country of free responsible adults or we are a nation of intolerant wimps and busybodies who must have government force peaceful people to adhere to our version of morality.

Let’s keep in mind one thing though as we consider using the force of government to impose our morality upon all. Someone else may consider your peaceful lifestyle to be immoral and worthy of forceful government intervention to prevent you from doing what neither picks someone’s pocket nor breaks someone’s leg. Maybe then we will all recognize the need for a New Tolerance Movement!


Another crime-fighting bright idea flops in Britain

There's nothing nearly as effective as locking them up for a LONG time -- as they do in many parts of the USA. Bright new ideas for penal reform never stop coming but they never work -- as I have noted previously

A radical US-style court initiative in which judges monitor each criminal’s progress after sentencing has failed to cut reoffending rates. The results are a blow to supporters of specialist community justice courts who had hoped for better results in preventing criminals returning to a life of crime.

Community courts involve a hands-on approach by judges who monitor offenders once they have left the dock and on-site agencies to help to deal with the underlying problems behind criminal behaviour such as drugs or housing. But reconviction rates for offenders dealt with by the North Liverpol and Salford community courts were marginally worse than those who went through an ordinary court in Manchester.

Of offenders who went through the North Liverpool court, 38.7 per cent were convicted of a further crime within a year and 38.3 per cent of those dealt with at Salford, compared with a reoffending rate of 37 cent in the Manchester court.

The position was even worse on breaking the terms of punishment. “Those in North Liverpool and Salford combined were significantly more likely to breach sentence conditions than those in Manchester,” said a report.

One reason for the higher breach rate in North Liverpool may be linked to tougher monitoring of offenders by probation officers, who adopt a more rigorous approach than those in Manchester, it suggested. However, the official study said there was an indication that the initiative might reduce slightly the number of crimes committed when a criminal reoffends.

The North Liverpool Community Justice Centre opened in September 2005, and cost £5.4 million to establish and costs £1.8 million a year to run. The smaller project in Salford cost £150,000 to set up and cost £100,000 a year to run.

Based on the Red Hook Community Justice Centre in New York, the courts use a multi-agency approach, referring offenders on-the-spot to professionals who deal with their specific problems, from housing to addiction. They also seek local residents’ views on particular problems and appropriate punishment.

The idea was supported enthusiastically by Lord Woolf when he was Lord Chief Justice and by David Blunkett, when Home Secretary, who both visited the Red Hook centre, were impressed with its work and decided to create a similar community justice court in England. The Ministry of Justice said: “This report looked at reoffending in the first year of the initiative when community justice was in a very early stage of development — the initiative will need more time for the effects to bed in to give a true picture of reoffending rates.” Ministers have already abandoned plans for a network of the community courts, saying there was no money to fund them.


British regulators don't know how to regulate social workers

Now tell us something we didn't know already

The competence of Ofsted to inspect children’s services and help to protect young people from abuse and neglect has been challenged by the Government’s child protection chief. Sir Roger Singleton used his first interview in the post to warn ministers that too many Ofsted staff lacked the skill and experience to hold social workers to account and drive up standards. If matters did not improve and inspectors failed to win the respect of social workers it would be “all too easy” for their judgments and recommendations to be ignored, he warned.

Ofsted took responsibility for inspecting children’s services in April 2007. Concerns over its performance were raised a year later when it emerged that inspectors had given Haringey a clean bill of health months after the death of Baby P, who was on the child protection register and under the watch of its social workers. He died of horrific injuries in August 2007. Ministers refused to accept that the death meant Ofsted was not up to the job of inspecting children’s services, although a new system of regulation was swiftly adopted.

Sir Roger, who was made the Government’s first chief adviser on the safety of children in March, welcomed the changes but said that problems remained. “Obviously, it makes it all too easy for those who are inspected to ignore the results if they don’t have respect for the inspectors. It is important Ofsted works to build its regard and respect in this area. It is not in any of our interests to have a view that they are not competent,” he said.

He said that he had heard “quite a lot of dissatisfaction from the field” about the work of inspectors that could no longer be ignored. The main complaint was the “high rate of variability” in what they knew about vulnerable children and safeguarding in particular. “It is difficult to think there is not some substance to it,” he said.

Sir Roger, a former chief executive of Barnardo’s, noted that Ofsted had recently announced plans to hire 20 or more inspectors with direct experience of children’s social care as a sign that it recognised its problems. Ofsted also announced that it has appointed John Goldup, a former senior social worker from Tower Hamlets, as a director. He is the only person with experience of child protection to reach board level. “It will be necessary to improve the range of skills and experience that Ofsted inspectors have in relation to children’s social care,” Sir Roger said.

Fears over Ofsted have also been sounded by MPs including Barry Sheerman, the Labour chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families, who has twice asked Christine Gilbert, the chief inspector, to give evidence on the performance of children’s services.

The Conservatives are reviewing Ofsted’s future and do not rule out taking away its role to inspect children’s services. “Ofsted is basically a schools’ inspectorate that is conducting a paper exercise when it goes to children’s services departments,” said Tim Loughton, the Tory children’s spokesman. “They don’t go out on the beat. They stay in the office and look at files. They simply don’t have the right people.”

Ofsted rejected any suggestion that it needed to improve its performance. Roger Shippam, its director for children, said: “We do not recognise the criticism that Ofsted lacks social care expertise. It is understandable that there is much anxiety surrounding the inspection of social care at the moment, especially following the death of Baby Peter.”

SOURCE. More details of how hopeless and corrupt the system is here


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, July 28, 2009

Of course “Hate Crime” laws don’t protect whites!

Police are investigating a brick with an offensive message thrown into the window of an East Austin home. The brick, thrown through a 4-year-old boy’s bedroom window, read “Keep Eastside Black. Keep Eastside Strong.”

The homeowner, Barbara Frische, who is white, said she has lived in the home for 10 years. Now prepare your brain for the Newspeak as the Austin PD attempt to explain why this nakedly racial incident, um, well, isn’t…
Police have not classified this incident as a hate crime, said Austin Police Sgt. Richard Stresing, because hate crimes target an individual specifically because of an identifying characteristic, like race. Police say the incident has been classified as criminal mischief and deadly conduct.

Incidents found to be based on race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or gender are flagged as hate crimes, Stresing said, so they can be referred to the Department of Justice.
As always let’s play the fun game of “What if this happened to a Black person?” And I think it becomes pretty clear that there is at minimum a double standard occurring here.

Funny how often attacks against whites are summarily dismissed as “not hate crimes” or “possible hate crimes” when if the same attack occurred against one of our more delicious minorities the same officials that pooh-pooh hate crimes against whites might very well injure themselves attempting to call it a hate crime, no qualifications necessary.

As the inspiration for this blog recently stated in what may be the most gaffetastic testimony ever given Ag Eric Holder said…
Under questioning, Attorney Gen. Holder was surprisingly forthright in admitting that the hate bill is not intended to protect everyone, or even the majority. He said only historically oppressed minorities were to benefit. This means Jews, blacks, homosexuals, women, etc. Holder made it clear that if a white Christian male, including a serviceman or police officer, was the victim of a violent hate crime by any minority he would have to find redress from traditional law. He could not avail himself of the triple penalties and rapid government/justice system response given a protected minority.
As The Kvetcher wrote recently the whole purpose of the modern “hate crimes” bills are to show that: The Blood of Some is Sweeter Than the Blood of Others

Welcome to your ethnic cleansing white folks, there will be no hate crimes investigation as you are not of the preferred color, sorry!


Tips for identifying a racist

I am a racist. Not because of racist jokes I do not say or acts of discrimination I do not commit. The reason: I am White. That was the message preached loud and clear at a forum I attended recently at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Titled “Unveiling White Privilege,” the forum’s purpose was to examine “the impact of our racism and colorism on the quality of our relationships,” while also addressing “the barriers created by unacknowledged privilege.”

According to the moderators, all whites are racist even if we don’t know we are. We have benefited from a system stacked against individuals of other races. We hold prejudices we may not even know exist. We have thrived in a nation built on the backs of hard-working and repressed “people of color.” Never mind the millions of Irish, Italian, Russian, or Eastern European immigrants, all Whites, who suffered intense bigotry while working in the sweatshops and coal mines of this country to make a better life for their families.

After this was all made clear, we worked to define a variety of terms. Racism, according to the moderators, was “prejudice plus power.” Confused? See, a black man can never be racist. He may hold prejudices against people of other races or his own race for that matter, but he has never held the power in society necessary to act upon that prejudice.

One of the moderators, herself white, acknowledged and embraced her self-identification as a racist. Interestingly, the other moderator, the daughter of an Irish mother and Mexican father, did not identify as half-racist. “I’m either Chicana or Latina and how I identify changes by the day. It just depends on how I’m feeling,” she said. There was no mention of her Irish roots in this identification.

We then went around the room, saying what came to mind when the word “racism” was spoken. The first few responses were probably typical of what would be uttered on most college campuses: “Attorney General John Ashcroft. . .the KKK. . .” And then I decided to speak up. “Jesse Jackson,” I said politely. The moderators turned. The room fell silent. “Why do you think that?” I was asked.

“Well,” I responded. “He holds prejudices against other blacks, as well as whites and other ethnic groups.” I gave the example of when Jackson called Conservative black activist Ward Connerly “Strange Fruit” the same term used by whites in the Old South to describe blacks who had been lynched.

“Yes, but you see,” the moderator informed me, “he can’t be racist because he holds no power.” “No power?” I asked. “He had the power to swindle millions of dollars out of American corporations by threatening them with consumer boycotts based on shoddy accusations of civil rights violations.”

The moderator leading the exercise was clearly getting upset. “But he holds no governmental power,” she corrected. As proof of this type of power, she did not accept my argument that the IRS has continually looked the other way regarding Jackson’s creative accounting practices for his Rainbow Push Coalition.

It was not the factual basis of my claim she was disputing. It was the title I had assigned to Jackson she had a problem with. He is not a racist. Blacks cannot be racist. Even against other blacks. And especially not against whites.

Furthermore, this wasn’t about Jesse Jackson, I was informed. This was about me and my own racism. “As a white person, it’s not your place to determine whether Jesse Jackson is a racist,” the other moderator added. “This is a discussion that needs to take place within the communities of color.”

I came away from the forum agreeing with the moderators on one key issue. Racism is alive and well in America. It infects our college campuses, our hiring decisions, even the communities we live in. This forum was proof of that.

We did not find consensus on just who is racist, however. I am not a racist. Yes, this nation has its past sins to grapple with, including slavery, which we may never recover from. But I will not nor should I take responsibility or feel guilt for the color of my skin or my ethnic heritage. To do so would dishonor all of those who have gone before me who fought endlessly to put an end to racism in all of its forms.


British "elf 'n safety" madness even hits the Greenies

What has been "safe" for years suddenly became unsafe

Organisers of Europe’s biggest eco-awareness event have had to cancel their 15th annual festival after police and the local council raised safety fears days before it was to start. The Big Green Gathering (BGG), which was due to be attended by up to 20,000 people paying £125 per ticket, may now have to go into receivership, leaving thousands out of pocket.

Described as a “celebration of our natural world” in a village fête atmosphere, the festival combines practical advice and demonstrations on sustainable lifestyles combined with entertainment powered by the wind and the sun. Visitors to the event are shown how to become self-sustaining, including how to build their own houses and grown their own food.

The five-day festival was due to open on Wednesday but the organisers surrendered their licence yesterday after concerns, including issues involving road and fire safety, could not be resolved with police and the local council.

Directors of the BGG, which has been running since 1994, are furious. Penny Kemp, a director, told The Times: “Our barrister has said it appears the council, police and regulatory authorities have leaned heavily on the road closure people to make sure we don’t get the order.”

She added that some of the reasons given for not allowing the event included the fire precautions not being good enough, even though they were the same as last year when the festival went ahead.

An inspector at Avon and Somerset Police refused to say what exactly their concerns were. Mendip District Council was due to go to the High Court in London today to apply for an injunction to stop the gathering in the Mendip Hills going ahead.

Thousands of adults had paid £125 for a ticket and £50 for their children to attend. The Big Green Gathering is designed for people within the green movement who wanted a festival focused on green issues. According to its website, The Big Green Gathering is for “people who care about health, the environment, sustainability, our children’s future and life in general. It is a celebration of our natural world and our place within it. As such it is a place for enjoyment, learning and fun. Unhealthy activities are not encouraged. The only things taken in excess should be love, peace, joy and friendship.”

This year, Gardener’s World, BBC’s Ethical Man and many other environmental experts were said to be going to help people to reduce their carbon footprint.

Ms Kemp added that they had a multi-agency meeting on Thursday and as far as they were concerned everything was still going ahead. But as they had to cancel the event at such a late stage they may have to go into receivership as they had paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds, including £27,000 to the police. She said: “We hope to be able to pay people back, but I just don’t know. It is desperately sad that a peaceful event enjoyed by thousands of people over many years has been stopped by the police and the council for what I think are unjust reasons.”

The directors of the Big Green Gathering issued a statement saying that they had “taken extensive legal advice from a prominent QC and other eminent lawyers” and had been left with “no option” but to surrender their licence. “The event will now not take place and the directors advise and request that no one who was intending to attend the event should attempt to do so as the site is now closed and it is likely that they will be turned away by the police. “It is our intention to avoid any confrontation or public disorder in regards to this and it is our earnest hope that all of those involved will follow this advice. “It is with great sadness that we have been forced into this position and we express our profound apologies to all concerned.”

Avon and Somerset Police would only say: “It has been cancelled. The reasons are on our website.” The statement said: “Police are warning people planning to attend the Big Green Gathering 2009, that the event has been cancelled due to a number of contributing factors that could not be overcome. “Today (Sunday, July 26) organisers of the Big Green Gathering surrendered their licence to Mendip Council. “Avon and Somerset Police worked with the event organisers as well as our multi-agent partners, and subsequently went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that this event took place. However, due to a number of issues including road and fire safety that could not be resolved the event organisers surrendered their licence. “Police would now like to advise any persons planning on travelling to the area for this event not to, they will be turned away.”

Big Green Gathering Chair Brig Oubridge said: "At the multi-agency meeting on Thursday 23rd July, we were still negotiating with the police and the council under the genuine belief that things were progressing and we were continuing to spend money on infrastructure, wages and security. "If they knew they were going to cancel the event, we can only conclude that this drive to increase expenditure appears to be a deliberate attempt to bankrupt the Big Green Gathering. "The injunction served on the Big Green Gathering was primarily addressing the fact that the Big Green Gathering did not obtain the necessary road closure despite the fact that the Highways Agency had previously indicated that this would be done.

"The Big Green Gathering has been running an event since 1994 and never before has public safety been an issue. The BGG has an exemplary record on health and safety and crime levels have always been low for the number of people on site."


British bureaucracy runs amok yet again

A surfboard is a ship?

Canoes, surfboards and dinghies are to be given the same legal status as cruise liners and oil tankers in a clampdown on reckless behaviour at sea. Unpowered craft including sailboards and bodyboards are to be reclassified as ships to bring their users within regulations for merchant shipping.

Users face prison and fines of up to £50,000 if they are held liable for any accidents. A family in a dinghy or a beginner oarsman could be prosecuted if they collided with a swimmer. Anyone out on the water would be liable to a random breath test. The change was initially prompted by pressure to reduce accidents involving reckless use of jet skis, which have caused nine deaths in the past ten years. But the Department for Transport has infuriated many of Britain’s four million water sports enthusiasts by proposing to extend the regulations to unpowered craft. All watercraft would be classed as “ships” and thus bound by safety regulations enshrined in the Merchant Shipping Act, 1995. Surfers and canoeists in particular are adamant that they should not be subjected to such legislation.

Mark Wesson, a member of the British Surfing Association’s executive council, said: “We shall certainly be opposing this, and goodness knows what holidaymakers are going to make of this. It may put a lot of people off investing in a surfboard.”

Rob Barber, owner of a bodyboarding school in Newquay, Cornwall, suggested that the plan was too bizarre to enforce. “Common sense says you don’t go out on a surfboard when you are drunk — it’s not something you do,” he said.

Jason Smith, editor of Canoe and Kayak magazine, said: “There is a clear difference between a powered and an unpowered craft and it seems draconian if someone is in the sea in a beginner’s-style kayak after drinking a beer and then they may be prosecuted. I don’t think readers will like it one bit.”

Gus Lewis, legal officer at the Royal Yachting Association, the governing body for dinghies, yachts, rigid inflatable boats and sailboards, said everyone at sea should follow the same safety rules. But he said the association did not support new drink-driving rules for amateur sailors, since it is already an offence to behave in such a way as to endanger a ship or an individual.

Mr Lewis questioned whether the laws should apply to canoes and surfers. “We would include windsurfers, though, for we would say they navigate waters. If you got injured by a windsurfer or a dinghy, you’d be angry if they were somehow above the law.” The proposals, in a consultation paper, are intended to close a legal loophole identified in the Court of Appeal four years ago. Judges overturned the conviction of Mark Goodwin, of Weymouth, Dorset, who nearly killed a man when riding a jet ski. They ruled a jet ski was not a seagoing ship, so not subject to the merchant shipping legislation. The new rules would bring Britain into line with a Convention on International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea.

Most yacht and speedboat owners already comply with the equivalent of a highway code for the sea, and until the judgment most people thought both motor and sailing boats were governed by the rules. A spokeswoman for the DfT said the intention was to “prevent the irresponsible few from spoiling the fun of everyone else”. She added: “Everyone should be free to enjoy themselves on the water in the knowledge that there are sanctions to deal with those who would put their safety at risk.”



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, July 27, 2009

The British class war never stops

The Leftist government constantly looks for any means it can find to tear down the middle classes

Shocking new details of a stealth tax of up to £600 for householders with views of any kind, patios, conservatories and even a nearby bus stop are revealed for the first time today. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show millions of homes have already been secretly assessed by Labour in preparation for council tax hikes expected to target the middle class after the Election. Homes have been given 'value significant codes' which will make virtually every desirable feature taxable.

Although not every home has been assessed, so far nearly 100,000 householders face being penalised simply for having a scenic view from their windows. Even those who have a mere glimpse of a river, hill or park - or any other pleasing outlook - stand to pay more under a special category for 'partial scenic views'. Worst hit among the 11 types of view are likely to be the 26,346 assessed so far as enjoying a full sea view and the 21,709 who overlook a golf course or farmland. People with garages, conservatories and patios - and even parking spaces - are also in the firing line.

While the list is by no means complete, the figures indicate the chilling detail with which the inspectors are examining Britain's homes. The documents also reveal the sheer pettiness of the new rules. Balconies are divided into those up to three square metres, three to five square metres and so on. The 'Conservatories' category even covers lean-tos and differentiates between single and double-glazed.

The Valuation Office Agency, which is compiling the massive database of every home in England, has divided the three-quarters of a million people with conservatories into four groups. The 115,610 with double-glazed conservatories will be hit harder than the 43,821 with single glazing.

People with patios could be in for a shock. A total of 4,932 homes have been registered as having 'value significant' patios - Whitehall jargon for big ones, perhaps with built-in barbecues. There are likely to be tens of thousands more.

Others who enjoy living in a peaceful area will soon have to pay for the privilege. A total of 38,081 homes have so far been given the coding of TQ, which tells council tax chiefs that they live in a quiet street or cul-de-sac.

The UP code for those with good access to public transport, such as those living near a bus stop, may find their council tax goes in the same direction - up.

Some of the details released by the VOA resemble a manual for taxing rich householders till the pips squeak. About 13,000 homes with pools are listed, with separate categories for indoor and outdoor; as are 1,731 equestrian paddocks; 4,933 stables; 2,863 tennis courts; and 2,268 penthouses.

The system gives all 23million homes in England one of about 100 'dwelling-house codes' for each type, from modest council flats up to mansions. It takes account of architectural styles: brick, thatch or stone fascias, sash windows, age periods and size. If and when the revaluation takes place, tax will be calculated through a vast and complex formula which uses these codings. Householders with one or a number of the features could see their council tax band move up by one or possibly two levels. Moving up from Band D to Band E could mean a rise of around £300. Moving up to Band F could result in a £600 increase.

Shadow Local Government Secretary Caroline Spelman said: 'Gordon Brown's council tax inspectors have been caught red-handed preparing the way for massive tax rises on middle England after the Election, to fill the black hole in Britain's ruined public finances. There is now cast-iron proof of a council tax revaluation by stealth. 'Only Labour would think of taxing people for looking out of their own windows. Conservatives will scrap these tax-raising plans and abolish tax inspectors' rights of entry into your home.'

The Government has spent a staggering £13million on the VOA's scheme to build the new database. Ministers have secretly renewed a multi-million-pound deal between the VOA and leading property website Rightmove to access sale prices and floorplans for tens of thousands of homes. The Treasury refused to say how much information the VOA received from Rightmove, whose website has a databank comprising 400million pages of information. In addition, the Government has spent £3.7million on a US computer system that can pinpoint households on a map and list information gleaned from house-to-house inspections....

In 2005, Ministers shelved plans to revalue property, originally set for 2007, over fears of a backlash from voters who could face massive council tax rises. However, they have not ruled out going ahead with the revaluation if Labour wins the Election.

Window taxes and similar attempts to make people pay for household features have long caused controversy. In 1696, a tax on windows was introduced to replace the Hearth Tax based on the number of fireplaces in a property, which was abolished because people resented inspectors snooping in their homes. The Window Tax was assessed from outside, making it cheaper to levy. But people avoided it by blocking up windows, and it was abolished in 1851.


How Britain's cultural elite rejects middle-class values and censors debate

Conservatism as heresy

The BBC maintains the absurd myth that it is always politically neutral, but occasionally one of its senior employees writes or says something that lets the cat out of the bag. In an article earlier this week in the BBC's in-house journal, otherwise known as The Guardian, the Corporation's controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, wrote: 'We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking.'

Left-of-centre thinking! Are you shocked? Even surprised? I confess I am not. Despite ritual denials, I had assumed that the minds behind the BBC's somewhat depleted drama output were sympathetic to Left-wing ideas rather than Right-wing ones. In a similar way, many of the people who run BBC news or current affairs programmes evidently have Left-wing leanings.

Imagine that you were a brilliant young playwright who had conceived a play about the destructive psychological effects which abortion can have on women. Mr Stephenson or his sidekicks would not clap you on the back. You would be shown the door, if you had ever been let through it. The Right-wing authors who have written for the BBC over the past 30 years can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. John Osborne, who began as an anti-Establishment firebrand with Look Back In Anger and ended his days as a grumpy Tory, was given some airtime in his dotage.

Then there was Ian Curteis. His play about the Falklands War, which was sympathetic to Margaret Thatcher, was binned by the BBC, and finally shown after 15 years as a kind of historical curiosity. The decks would have been immediately cleared had he portrayed Lady Thatcher as a bloodthirsty warmonger.

Most of the BBC's culture programmes have a left-of-centre perspective. For example, the contributors invited to appear on BBC2's Newsnight Review almost invariably belong to the soft Left. The occasional Right-winger is allowed on, though he or she may feel obliged to fall in with the prevailing Left-wing consensus.

It would be silly to single out the BBC for blame. The Corporation merely reflects a general takeover of our culture by the Left. It is difficult to think of any leading novelist, poet or playwright who could be even vaguely described as Right-wing. Tom Stoppard? Ronald Harwood? Only at a pinch.

Art is more difficult to define in political terms. All that can be said is that the BBC tends to celebrate fashionable post-modern artists, many of whom have little ability other than the power to shock, while ignoring immensely gifted artists whose work is more traditional.

Over the past 30 or 40 years, the Left has captured the citadels of our culture. I don't mean the old formidable communist Left, which is dead and buried, but a trendy soft Left whose world view is promulgated by The Guardian and the BBC. This is the club which aspiring members of the cultural elite are required to join.

What is fascinating is that during most of the 20th century the Left did not exert a stranglehold over our culture. Three of the four writers who are generally seen as the fathers of modernism could reasonably be described as Right-wing, sometimes dangerously so. T. S. Eliot became a devout Anglican and small 'c' conservative. The poet W. B. Yeats flirted with Mussolini, while the American writer Ezra Pound became, I regret to say, a paid-up fascist. Two of the greatest English poets of the last century, W. H. Auden and Philip Larkin, ended their days on the Right. Auden, like Eliot, rejected the atheism of his youth, and embraced religion. Some of Larkin's political views were extremely Right-wing, and would probably lead to his being banned by the BBC were he around today.

Both Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell, two of our finest mid-20th-century novelists, were firmly of the Right, though neither of them had much time for the Tory Party. Waugh famously said that 'the trouble with the Conservative Party is that it has not turned the clock back one second'.

Of course, I am not pretending that all the great writers of the 20th century were Right-wing. Far from it. The Bloomsbury group, whose members included Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey, were the intellectuals forebears of the modern liberal-Left. Bernard Shaw was a socialist, as was H. G. Wells. Waugh's friend, the novelist Graham Greene, moved increasingly to the Left, and ended his days as a trenchant anti-American.

All I am saying is that throughout most of the 20th century there were Left-wing writers and Right-wing writers who argued and differed and were sometimes friends. There was a debate. There were choices. What we have now is a Left-wing literary monopoly, many of whose members apparently believe that it is impossible in the modern age to be a great writer and Right-wing.

You may say it is wrong to attach labels such as ' Right-wing' and 'Left-wing' to all authors. But every writer is in some sense political, even one as apparently removed from great events as Jane Austen. When Elizabeth Bennet lets fly at the odiously snobbish aristocrat Lady Catherine de Burgh in Pride And Prejudice, Austen is celebrating middle-class virtues of plain-speaking and honesty against ignorant aristocratic pretension. That is a political point.

To return to the BBC's Ben Stephenson, he doubtless sees himself as an iconoclast challenging the status quo. But in fact he is part of the status quo, conforming to the Leftist beliefs that predominate in the BBC. Courage lies in questioning the status quo. That is what artists are supposed to do. Members of our cultural consensus huddle within their ramparts, terrified of promoting ideas or thoughts they deem unacceptable.

Perennial themes in the Corporation's increasingly sparse drama are the evils of poverty, the excessive power of the State and the smugness of the bourgeoisie. I grant these can be rewarding, but there are many other important things going on in our society. Yet these would not be considered proper subjects for a BBC play.

The increasing power of the State could be examined not so much on account of its passion for surveillance as because of its apparent desire to end up by employing every worker in the country. The breakdown of the family, which partly explains the squalor, violence and human degradation visible in many of our towns, would be a fertile subject for drama. So might the social and cultural transformation brought about by uncontrolled immigration.

But the liberal-Left consensus, nourished by The Guardian and the BBC, believes in an ever-expanding public sector. It does not place much value on marriage. It is relaxed about mass immigration. So three subjects which concern many people are ruled out. They cannot even be addressed. It is equally hard to imagine a BBC play that grappled with the harmful effects of abortion, or showed religion in a sympathetic light.

We live in a cultural monopoly mediated by the BBC. Most writers believe more or less the same. Discordant voices are excluded, or at best muted. For much of the time a Leftist elite talks to itself in endless circles. All this helps to explain my feeling that we live in a narrow, boring, self-satisfied little country.


The British police have been trained to hate the middle class too

Company director arrested for attempted murder after rescuing son being beaten by yobs

A company director has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after confronting a gang of yobs who were attacking his stepson. Colin Philpott, 58, allegedly stabbed a 16-year-old in the chest during the incident in the front garden of his £500,000 Tudor-style house.

He had awoken late on Friday night to discover stepson Alex Lee being beaten by the group of teenagers. Mr Lee, 25, had gone outside to stop the gang from vandalising Mr Philpott’s Jaguar car. Mr Lee was said to have then been punched and kicked in the head, suffering a broken nose and concussion for which he needed hospital treatment.

Susanne Philpott, 51, says her husband – who owns an escalator cleaning company – rushed out to defend her son with a letter-opener he had grabbed from a shelf. It was then that the teenager was allegedly stabbed five times. He was taken to hospital and was last night said to be stable.

When police arrived at the five-bedroom house in Crowthorne, Berkshire, Mr Philpott was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Five youths, aged 16 and 17, were arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage.

Mrs Philpott said: ‘My son and I came out at about 11pm after hearing a bang and we saw two young guys outside our house. ‘They returned 15 minutes later – with three others – and all were visibly drunk. I took a digital camera and told them that if they vandalised anything else I’d take pictures as evidence. ‘One said that he would kill me and burn down my house. I was terrified and when Alex tried to calm him down, the other four got worked up and they all attacked him. Alex ended up on the ground with all five of them on him, kicking him in the head and stomach. I was so frightened for him that I screamed for Colin, who was in bed.

‘He came running out – still barefoot and half asleep – and saw the mess Alex was in so ran back into the house. He grabbed the first thing he saw, which was a letter-opener, and confronted the boys. ‘They attacked Colin and I saw one stumble into the road as Colin screamed for me to call the police. When the police arrived and then arrested Colin, I was gob-smacked. ‘It was heartbreaking to see him handcuffed and carted off like a common criminal. He is a hardworking, honest family man and was only trying to protect us.’

The mother of two, who works as a training consultant, said the quiet neighbourhood had been blighted by teenagers attacking cars and defacing gardens for several months. She claimed that just days earlier, Mr Philpott’s £30,000 S-Type Jaguar had been smothered with hair gel while it was parked on the driveway. ‘We have had lots of trouble with vandals and they have targeted us twice within a week. The worst thing is that I am now terrified in my own home. ‘The police have installed a panic button but I still don’t feel safe. My husband and I had a holiday planned but now I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my 22-year-old daughter on her own. ‘I just can’t get over how one minute you’re happy and everything is fine and the next your life has been turned upside down by some mindless yobs.’ ....

Other residents said gangs of youngsters had ripped up flower beds, thrown eggs at them and thrown objects through open windows. Neighbours have reported the anti-social behaviour to the local council and a councillor is said to have asked Thames Valley Police to take action.

Last night the force confirmed that Mr Philpott had been released on bail, pending possible charges.


The selective meddler

Good to meddle in Israel; bad to meddle in Iran

In foreign policy, President Barack Obama has demonstrated a disturbing propensity to curry favor with our adversaries at the expense of our friends.

The Czechs and Poles are rightly concerned that they will be sacrificed on the altar of better U.S. relations with Russia. And the Israelis fear that the Obama administration’s desired opening to the Muslim world will be achieved at their expense. Mr. Obama’s attempted bullying of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a case in point.

Mr. Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister on March 31. Shortly thereafter, the Obama administration confronted Israel’s new leader in a very public way regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, an area partially controlled by the Palestinian National Authority. This was an extremely unusual way for an American president to greet the new leader of a liberal democracy that’s a close ally of the U.S.

The Obama administration was not satisfied with a series of understandings crafted by the Bush administration that, while not freezing settlements, had nonetheless achieved a significant reduction in settlement construction. During a May press conference with the Egyptian foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Mr. Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”

Subsequently, Mr. Obama demanded that Israel freeze construction in east Jerusalem. Of course, Mr. Netanyahu rejected Mr. Obama’s demand. He declared that Jerusalem is an open, undivided city “that has no separation according to religion or national affiliation.” Mr. Netanyahu added that “we cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and purchase in all parts of Jerusalem.”

If Jews were prohibited from buying property in New York, London, Paris or Rome, there would be an international outcry. Why, Mr. Netanyahu wondered, should the standard be different for Jerusalem?

Mr. Obama is woefully wrong if he believes that his confrontational style will provide an incentive for the Palestinians and the members of the Arab League to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute. It will simply reinforce the long-standing Arab belief that the U.S. can “deliver” Israel if it only has the will to do so, thereby reducing Arab incentives to make concessions in direct negotiations with Israel.

As if on cue, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian National Authority, announced that he would not negotiate on any issue with the new Israeli government until Mr. Obama’s settlement conditions are met.

In addition to the building freeze in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Mr. Abbas insisted on four other unilateral, non-negotiable concessions: First, an independent Palestinian state; second, that Israel pulls back to its pre-June 1967 borders, minus a Palestinian land bridge between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; third, a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel; and fourth, resolution of all permanent status issues on the basis of the 2002 Abdullah plan calling on Arabs to normalize relations with Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. The “right of return,” in particular, is a non-starter.

If Mr. Obama seeks a Palestinian Arab state, he is going about it the wrong way. The fact is that Mr. Netanyahu has endorsed a two-state solution and an end to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank—as long as the Palestinians accept Israel as a legitimate Jewish state and cannot militarily threaten it. Israel has been willing to accept a two-state solution since the United Nations partition resolution for Palestine in 1947, but the Arabs have refused. They are not interested in creating a separate Palestinian Arab state but in destroying Israel as a Jewish state.

The Obama approach in the Middle East is predicated on what might be called the Arab “grievance narrative,” which holds that Israel was created as a result of Western guilt about the Holocaust. It is also based on the idea that, as the president suggested in his Cairo speech, there is moral equivalence between the Holocaust and Palestinian “dislocation.”

Such language illustrates an inability to make distinctions. Arabs launched a war against Jewish self-determination and the state of Israel long before any Israeli “occupation” of their lands. When Israel seized land in a defensive war, it was the Arabs, not the Israelis, who kept Palestinian “refugees” in limbo for three generations to await Israel’s destruction.

As Mr. Netanyahu reminded Mr. Obama after the latter’s Cairo speech, the Arab claim that Israel was a land grab by the great powers to salve the collective conscience of the West after the Holocaust is a slander. On the contrary, he observed, Israel’s right to its homeland rests on the longstanding historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. This right was ratified by the unanimous and legitimizing votes of the League of Nations and the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members, and validated by over 60 years of Israel’s successful, democratic statehood.

Israel’s “right to exist” was expressed best by Israeli diplomat Abba Eban in 1981. He wrote, “Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair, awaiting acknowledgment. . . . There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”

Mr. Netanyahu might also have added that Israel’s control of the West Bank (territory that should properly be called “disputed” rather than “occupied”), was the result of defeating the Arab powers who initiated the Six Day War of 1967. The status of aggressors and defenders is not interchangeable. Neither is the status of victorious powers and defeated ones.

Nonetheless, Israel has taken unilateral steps toward peace, steps not reciprocated by the Palestinians. When Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, dismantling 21 settlements and displacing over 9,000 residents, it conducted the most comprehensive test of the “land for peace” concept in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yet Israel was rewarded with the creation of a terrorist enclave governed by Hamas, rather than the peaceful, responsible neighbor Israel would need in order to accept a Palestinian Arab state.

Unlike Hamas, the corrupt Palestinian National Authority that holds sway in the West Bank has nominally accepted Israel’s right to exist but has never given up the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees.” That right, if implemented, would mean the end of Israel’s existence.

Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians requires compromises on both sides. U.S. pressure on Israel, without any on the Palestinians, will not achieve the desired outcome.

Earlier this summer, the president justified his decision to downplay even rhetorical support for the Iranian protesters who rose up against their government and its fraudulent election. He did not wish the U.S. to appear to be “meddling” in Iranian affairs. He apparently feels no similar constraint when it comes to Israel.


An old Australian way to deal with Arab attacks

To Reginald Messenger, it was "just something that had to be done". He was a trooper in the 6th Light Horse Regiment at Beersheba in 1918 when he took part in what is emerging as one of the darkest, and and most overlooked, chapters of Australian military history. Known as the Surafend massacre, it involved 200 Anzac troops, some from the famed Australian Light Horse, who retaliated for the murder of a New Zealand soldier by razing a Bedouin village in Palestine and murdering between 40 and 120 of its inhabitants.

"Dad told me about it numerous times," Reginald's son, Oliver, said. "He said that they were camped next to this Gyppo village and one day they woke up to find that some of their blokes had their throat cut and their things stolen. It had been going on for some time - the Gyppos would steal from them all the time - and so they decided to do something about it, because no one else would."

One night in December 1918 the soldiers surrounded the Bedouin village of Surafend, emptied it of woman and children, then fell upon the men with bayonets and heavy sticks. "Dad never expressed any remorse about it," Mr Messenger said. "I gather that they had put up with it for too long. They were good soldiers, those blokes, but they didn't put up with any shit."

The incident occurred shortly after the end of World War I, and has been all but obliterated from the official record. Just three pages of H.S. Gullet's 844-page official war history mention it, and neither the NSW Returned and Services League nor the Light Horse Association had heard of it.

A new book, called Beersheba, by the journalist Paul Daley, re-examines the Surafend massacre, and the long shadow it cast over the legend of the Light Horse, famed for their 1917 cavalry charge at Beersheba. Daley says that, after the massacre the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Edmund Allenby, "wiped his hands" of the Light Horse, even maliciously withdrawing citations and decorations. "Dad said that after the incident, a general - perhaps it was Allenby - addressed the men and called them cowards," Mr Messenger said. "But the men just counted him out [counted loudly, in unison]. They just drowned him out, you know?"

A spokesman for the Australian War Memorial, said: "The Anzac legend is an uplifting one but, like all legends, there are some unfortunate aspects. But this doesn't detract from acts of heroism and bravery."



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.