Friday, September 03, 2010
ABC, NPR and PBS Hosts Equate Christian and Muslim Violence
There was one thing more than any other that turned this New York, liberal, Jewish, Columbia University graduate student from modern liberalism. It was its use of moral equivalence to avoid confronting evil during the Cold War.
There was a time when liberalism was identified with anti-Communism; the liberal-led Korean and Vietnam Wars were examples. But the Vietnam War led liberals into the arms of the left, which had been morally confused about communism since its inception and had become essentially pacifist following the carnage of World War I.
After the Vietnam War, even liberals who continued to describe communism as evil were labeled "right-wingers" and "Cold Warriors." And the United States, with its moral flaws, was often likened to the Soviet Union. I recall asking the pre-eminent liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., in a public forum in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, if he would say that the United States was a morally superior society to that of the Soviet Union. He would not.
Little has changed regarding the Left's inability to identify and confront evil. And its moral equation of good guys and bad guys was made evident again in recent weeks by hosts on three major liberal networks -- ABC, NPR and PBS.
First, on May 25, PBS host Tavis Smiley interviewed Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the ex-Muslim Somali writer and activist for human, especially women's, rights in Islamic countries. After mentioning American Muslim terrorists Maj. Nidal Hasan (who murdered 13 and injured 30 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood) and Faisal Shahzad (who attempted to murder hundreds in Times Square), this dialogue ensued:
Ali: "Somehow, the idea got into their (Hasan's and Shahzad's) minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter."
Smiley: "But Christians do that every single day in this country."
Ali: "Do they blow people up?"
Smiley: "Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that's what Columbine is -- I could do this all day long. There are so many more examples of Christians -- and I happen to be a Christian.
"There are so many more examples, Ayaan, of Christians who do that than you could ever give me examples of Muslims who have done that inside this country, where you live and work."
Then, on Aug. 22, Michel Martin, host of NPR's "Tell Me More," in discussing whether the Islamic Center and mosque planned for near ground zero should be moved, said this on CNN's "Reliable Sources" with Howard Kurtz: "Should anybody move a Catholic church? Did anybody move a Christian church after Timothy McVeigh, who adhered to a cultic white supremacist cultic version of Christianity, bombed (the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City)?"
And third, on Aug. 26, ABC "20/20" anchor Chris Cuomo tweeted this to his nearly one million followers: "To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics -- before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades....study them."
I have known Smiley since the 1980s when we both worked at the same radio station in Los Angeles. He is smart, and he is a gentleman who has accorded me great respect both on his television show and off air. How, then, does such a man equate Muslims who murder in the name of Islam with Americans who "murder every day," none one of whom commit their murders in the name of Christianity?
How does Martin equate the thousands of Islamic terrorists around the world, all of whom are devout Muslims, with a single American -- one who, in any case, professed no religion, let alone Christianity?
And how does Cuomo claim that Christians cannot condemn Muslims for violence because of the Christian Crusades?
First of all, the Crusades occurred a thousand years ago. One might as well argue that Jews cannot condemn Christian and secular anti-Semitic violence because Jews destroyed Canaanite communities 3,200 years ago.
Second, it is hardly a defense of Muslims to have to go back a thousand years to find comparable Christian conduct.
Third, even then there is little moral equivalence. The Crusades were waged in order to recapture lands that had been Christian for centuries until Muslim armies attacked them and destroyed most Christian communities in the Middle East. (Some Crusaders also massacred whole Jewish communities in Germany on the way to the Holy Land, and that was a grotesque evil -- which Church officials condemned at the time.) As the dean of Western Islamic scholars, Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis, has written, "The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad -- a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war."
So how did Smiley, Martin and Cuomo make such morally egregious statements?
The answer is not that these are bad people, let alone that they are not repulsed by terrorist violence. The answer is leftism, the way of looking at the world that permeates high schools, universities, news and entertainment media. Those indoctrinated by leftist thinking become largely incapable of accurate moral judgments: They regarded America and the Soviet Union as morally similar. And today, they claim that people they call "extremists" within Christianity (who are they?) and Islamist terrorists and their supporters pose equal threats to America and the world.
That is how bright and decent people become moral relativists and thereby undermine the battles against the greatest evils -- communist totalitarianism in its time and Islamic totalitarianism in ours.
The only solution is to keep exposing leftist moral confusion. One problem, however, is that in countries without talk radio, an equivalent to the Wall Street Journal editorial page, conservative columnists and a vigorous anti-left political party, this is largely impossible.
The other major problem is that the media that dominate American life have little problem, indeed largely concur, with the foolish and dangerous comments made by their mainstream media colleagues. That is why these comments, worthy of universal moral condemnation, were ignored by the mainstream (i.e., leftwing) media. Instead, they directed mind-numbing attention and waves of opprobrium toward Dr. Laura.
More governmental stupidity
You own a business, maybe a restaurant. You've got a lot to worry about. You have to make sure the food is safe and tastes good, that the place is clean and appealing, that workers are friendly and paid according to a hundred Labor Department and IRS rules.
On top of that, there are rules you might have no idea about. The bathroom sinks must be a specified height. So must the doorknobs and mirrors. You must have rails. And if these things aren't right -- say, if your mirror is just one inch too high -- you could be sued for thousands of dollars.
And be careful. If you fail to let a customer bring a large snake, which he calls his "service animal," into your restaurant, you could be in trouble.
All of this is because of the well-intentioned Americans With Disabilities Act, which President George H.W. Bush signed 20 years ago. The ADA was popular with Republicans and Democrats. It passed both houses of Congress with overwhelming majorities, 377 to 28 in the House and 91 to 6 in the Senate.
What does it do? The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, requiring businesses to provide the disabled "equal access" and to make "reasonable accommodation" for employees. Tax credits and deductions are available for special equipment (talking computers, for instance) and modifying buildings to comply with the accessibility mandate.
The ADA was supposed to help more disabled people find jobs. But did it? Strangely, no. An MIT study found that employment of disabled men ages 21 to 58 declined after the ADA went into effect. Same for women ages 21 to 39.
How could employment among the disabled have declined? Because the law turns "protected" people into potential lawsuits. Most ADA litigation occurs when an employee is fired, so the safest way to avoid those costs is not to hire the disabled in the first place.
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of the Overlawyered.com blog, says that the law was unnecessary. Many "hire the handicapped" programs existed before the ADA passed. Sadly, now most have been quietly discontinued, probably because of the threat of legal consequences if an employee doesn't work out.
Under the ADA, Olson notes, fairness does not mean treating disabled people the same as non-disabled people. Rather it means accommodating them. In other words, the law requires that people be treated unequally.
The law has also unleashed a landslide of lawsuits by "professional litigants" who file a hundred suits at a time. Disabled people visit businesses to look for violations, but instead of simply asking that a violation be corrected, they partner with lawyers who (legally) extort settlement money from the businesses.
Some disabled people have benefited from changes effected by the ADA, but the costs are rarely accounted for. If a small business has to lay off an employee to afford the added expense of accommodating the disabled, is that a good thing -- especially if, say, customers in wheelchairs are rare? Extra-wide bathroom stalls that reduce the overall number of toilets are only some of the unaccounted-for costs of the ADA. And since ADA modification requirements are triggered by renovation, the law could actually discourage businesses from making needed renovations as a way of avoiding the expense.
A few disabled people speak up against the law. Greg Perry, author of "Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences of the Government's Protection of the Handicapped," says that because the disabled now represent an added expense to businesses, many resent them.
Finally, the ADA has led to some truly bizarre results. Exxon gave ship captain Joseph Hazelwood a job after he completed alcohol rehab. Hazelwood then drank too much and let the Exxon Valdez run aground in Alaska. Exxon was sued for allowing it to happen. So Exxon prohibited employees who have had a drug or drinking problem from holding safety-sensitive jobs. The result? You guessed it -- employees with a history of alcohol abuse sued under the ADA, demanding their "right" to those jobs. The federal government (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) supported the employees. Courts are still trying to sort it out.
More money for the parasites.
Yes, BBC was biased: Director General Mark Thompson admits a 'massive' lean to Left
BBC Director General Mark Thompson has admitted the corporation was guilty of a 'massive' Left-wing bias in the past. The TV chief also admitted there had been a 'struggle' to achieve impartiality and that staff were ' mystified' by the early years of Margaret Thatcher's government.
But he claimed there was now 'much less overt tribalism' among the current crop of young journalists, and said in recent times the corporation was a 'broader church'. He claimed there was now an 'honourable tradition of journalists from the right' working for the corporation.
His comments, made in the New Statesman magazine, are one of the clearest admissions of political bias from such a senior member of its staff. The BBC has long been accused of being institutionally biased towards the Left, and an internal report from 2007 said it had to make greater efforts to avoid liberal bias.
That report criticised the BBC for coming late to several important stories including euroscepticism and immigration, which it described as 'off limits in terms of a liberal-minded comfort zone'.
Speaking of the time when he joined the BBC, Mr Thompson told the magazine: 'In the BBC I joined 30 years ago [as a production trainee, in 1979] there was, in much of current affairs, in terms of people's personal politics, which were quite vocal, a massive bias to the Left. 'The organisation did struggle then with impartiality. And journalistically, staff were quite mystified by the early years of Thatcher.
'Now it is a completely different generation. 'There is much less overt tribalism among the young journalists who work for the BBC.'
He told the New Statesman: 'The BBC is not a campaigning organisation and can't be, and actually the truth is that sometimes our dispassionate flavour of broadcasting frustrates people who have got very, very strong views, because they want more red meat.'
Mr Thompson also connected his religious faith as a Catholic with working at the corporation. He said people joined the BBC because it is an organisation moved by a sense of values. He added: 'I do think the BBC is very much - sometimes frankly, almost frighteningly so - a values driven organisation.'
'People's sense of what's right and wrong, and their sense of justice, are incredible parts of what motivates people to join. 'I'm part of that. For me, that's connected with my religious faith but the key thing is: you don't have to be Catholic.'
Mr Thompson described relations between the BBC and the recently ousted Labour government in its last few years as 'quite tetchy'. But he said he was optimistic about a good settlement in forthcoming licence fee discussions with the Coalition.
He denied the organisation was one of 'glorious freeloading' but conceded: 'We had our moments in the past'.
The interview came after Mr Thompson gave the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival last month where he said millionaire stars face the axe or having their salaries slashed.
Yesterday it also emerged the BBC is facing the threat of strikes after thousands of journalists, technicians and other staff voted massively in favour of industrial action in a row over pensions.
Members of the National Union of Journalists and the technicians' union Bectu backed walkouts by more than 9-1 in protest at 'punitive' changes to the staff pension scheme. Unions held back from naming strike dates so that talks can be held over the next two weeks in the hope of resolving the dispute.
Australia: Online public broadcaster walks only on left side of the street
ANYONE trying to make sense of the recent election campaign would be advised to stay well clear of the articles on the ABC's opinion websites, The Drum and Unleashed.
With these sites established as an addition to the ABC's online news service late last year, the campaign was the first big test to see whether online opinion at the national broadcaster could, as ABC chairman Maurice Newman once dared hope, "walk both sides of the street".
But while Tony Abbott's 2010 campaign will be remembered as the most successful by a first-term opposition in 79 years - and, conversely, Julia Gillard's the least successful by a government - all of this seems to have eluded the chosen opinion holders at the ABC. I monitored both sites throughout the campaign. Here's the tally. Negative comments: Gillard, 327; Abbott, 353. Positive comments: Gillard, 197; Abbott, 65. In short, while Gillard and Abbott received roughly the same amount of criticism, Gillard was praised three times more often.
From the first week, articles published at these websites informed us that "Changing leaders has done no damage to Labor's chances at all because Tony Abbott is unelectable and his party is a rabble"; that cabinet meetings involving Abbott would be a "freak show" and the leader a "shameless political operator".
Marieke Hardy told us it was likely he would be "stupid enough to go strolling about the streets wearing nothing but his swimmers and a vaguely predatory leer". Bob Ellis chimed in to say Abbott should be asked about causing the premature death of asbestos-related diseases campaigner Bernie Banton.
Abbott started slowly in campaigning, but it seemed unlikely the tenor of the negative comments - running against him by about five to one at ABC online - could be easily justified.
Week two was the week of the leaks. Abbott performed well in the debate and by the weekend some polls put him in a winning position. This, you might think, would be reflected at the online opinion sites of our national broadcaster. In fact, in the week when it was revealed Gillard might not have been entirely truthful about her support for parental leave, her positive mentions doubled. Amazingly, the ABC published an item praising Gillard's announcement of a citizens assembly on climate change, somehow uncovering the only person other than Gillard known to think that "Boganhagen" would be a good idea.
Positive comment for Abbott came in otherwise negative stories: "It should be clear by now that the trend is towards the Coalition. That's despite anything they've done." But for every grudging bit of praise, Abbott was attacked many times over: "To be fair to Tony, he is a genuinely strange-looking man" and "Personally I'm of the firm belief that [Abbott's] personality is born of the loins of Satan, but it's still a personality regardless."
With the entry of Mark Latham and the advent of "Real Julia", Labor's campaign rapidly turned to farce, but we were told Gillard was "shrewd, tough and intelligent and with a modest manner". One writer followed her on the campaign trail, saying there was a "real buzz around her". Whether there was a buzz around Abbott we are yet to find out; none of them followed him on the hustings. Another concluded that the insulation scheme, which led to four deaths and wasted billions of dollars, "actually achieved some very successful outcomes in terms of retro-fitting Australian homes".
In the week of the Rooty Hill debate the ABC appeared to abandon any pretence of providing balanced opinion on its websites. Gillard and her campaign were praised 93 times - more than Abbott during the entire campaign, while he was showered with criticism. There was not a single online opinion article where a conservative substantially criticised Gillard or praised Abbott that week and at least 17 articles on the other side of the ledger.
Interestingly, the ineptitude of Labor's campaign seemed to have an inverse relationship to the rapturous reception at ABC's online opinion.
During this period, as an experiment, I submitted some comments: "To be fair to Julia, she is a genuinely strange-looking woman" and "She took a married man from his children and is likely to treat her country no better." These comments, created by substituting Gillard's name for Abbott and making small alterations to sentences that contributors had already published, were rejected by the moderators.
Unsurprisingly, an analysis of ABC online's election campaign coverage shows an enormous bias to the Left with an over-representation of policies held by the Greens.
I like to think that the work of the commentariat - or, as Kim Beazley Sr famously put it, the dregs of the middle class - contributed to Gillard's disastrous campaign, seducing her into believing that Abbott was unelectable. These assumptions came crashing down at Rooty Hill where, away from ABC land, the Prime Minister finally came face to face with people whose opinions really mattered.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.