Saturday, December 25, 2010
I wanted to send some sort of Christmas greeting to my colleagues, but it is difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So I met with my lawyer yesterday, so acting on advice I wish to say the following :
Please accept with no obligation , implied or implicit , my best wishes for an environmentally conscious , socially responsible ,low stress , non addictive , gender neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious / secular persuasions and / or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all .
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011 , but not without due respect for the calendar of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that Australia is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wished .
By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms:
This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her / him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. The wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
Best Regards (without prejudice)
Name withheld (Privacy Act).
Christmas as a symbol of freedom
No wonder Leftists hate it. Note that South Korea is mainly a Buddhist and Confucian country, though there is a large Christian minority
South Korea says a giant Christmas tree near the North Korean border will stay lit up till January 8 - a move likely to anger Pyongyang since the date marks the birthday of its heir apparent. The communist North sees the tree topped with a glowing cross as a provocative propaganda symbol.
Cross-border tensions are high after the North's deadly artillery attack last month on a South Korean border island and military drills by the South in response.
The tree - a 29-metre metal tower strung with light bulbs - was lit up on Tuesday for the first time in seven years as marines stood guard against any cross-border attack on it. The tree, atop a military-controlled hill near the tense land border, was due to be switched off on December 26.
``However, we have decided to keep it until early January 8, in consideration of requests from religious groups," defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told a briefing. ``At first, we planned to keep the lighting on only briefly because of (military) burdens but we had second thoughts as it may send a message of peace to the North."
Another spokesman said the birthday of Kim Jong-Un - youngest son and eventual successor to leader Kim Jong-Il - did not influence the timing. He said it was just a coincidence.
The South switched off the tree under a 2004 deal to halt official-level cross-border propaganda. It also suspended loudspeaker broadcasts and a propaganda leaflet campaign using large helium balloons. The South partially resumed its government propaganda campaign following the March sinking of a South Korean warship and the bombardment of a border island.
Soon after last month's artillery attack, the military reportedly floated 400,000 leaflets across the border denouncing the North's regime. The South has also installed loudspeakers along the land border but has not yet switched them on. The North has threatened to open fire on the speakers if they are activated.
Private activist groups frequently float huge balloons across the heavily fortified frontier. These carry tens of thousands of leaflets denouncing the regime of Kim Jong-Il.
Politics doesn’t need the stamp of state approval
The BNP may be racist, but it should still have the right to decide who can join and what it stands for
Last Friday, British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin, the panto season’s very own neo-Nazi, stood on the steps of the High Court in London, posing for all he was worth like some hero of the English Revolution. ‘We have won a spectacular David and Goliath victory for freedom’, he declared.
Even the BNP’s dozen or so supporters would have to admit that Nick Griffin is an unlikely freedom fighter. What he and his party – something better grasped as a self-help group for the socially inadequate – know (or care) about liberty proper could be engraved on a pinhead. It is their anti-freedom credentials that are impressive: since its inglorious inception in 1982, the BNP has been committed to separating the ‘indigenous British’ from their dark-skinned cohabitants and packing off the non-whites ‘back to where they came from’: ‘repatriation’ as the BNP would put it. Racist in principle and authoritarian in practice, the BNP would be a threat to freedom if they had any kind of substantial base of support – which, of course, they don’t.
But thanks to the state-funded-and-endorsed Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Griffin and the BNP have been able to pose as the voice of liberty. It’s an incredible reversal. The BNP and its chief henchman Griffin come over like Thomas Paine while its persecutor, the official vehicle of tolerance that is the EHRC, appears like a parody of autarchy.
And the reason for this reversal? That’s simple: the EHRC is autocratic. For over 18 months, the commission has attempted to dictate to a political association which principles it can organise around and who should be allowed to join.
The legal pursuit of the BNP has been jawdroppingly illiberal. It was back in June 2009 that the EHRC decided that the BNP’s racist ‘indigenous peoples only’ membership criteria might not only be racist, but ‘illegal’ under the Race Relations Act. With prosecution in the offing, the BNP - wily old beast that it is - decided in a meeting in February this year to change its constitution to allow non-whites to sign up.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for the EHRC. Realising that non-whites might still be put off joining the BNP because they would have to support ‘the integrity of the indigenous British’ and resist any form ‘of integration or assimilation’, the EHRC obtained a Central London County Court order demanding that the BNP make further alterations to its constitution. All the BNP had to do was stop being so discriminatory against non-indigenous peoples, not just in terms of membership criteria, but in principle, too.
The whole point of the BNP is its ‘Britain for the British’ opposition to so-called non-indigenous people. Take the new-fangled, multiculturalist-sounding racism out of the BNP and there’s nothing left: nothing ‘British’ and nothing ‘Nationalist’. Clearly reluctant to rebrand the BNP as simply ‘The Party’, Griffin resisted the court order, and last week, after months of expensive legal wrangling, the High Court finally let the BNP off the hook.
Unpalatable as it may seem to those of us who hate racism, the BNP - as an association of like-minded individuals - should be free to discriminate against those who are not of the opinion that ‘non-indigenous’ peoples should be sent back to where they came from. No one would expect a traditional political party to accept members who are fundamentally opposed to its view of how society ought to be. Just because the BNP’s outlook is racist and promotes discriminatory policies does not mean that the state should forcibly change that association’s principles.
Everyone should be free to associate with whoever they choose, on whatever basis – even if the views of those involved are offensive to the majority of society. Equally, in an open, democratic society people should be free to judge political parties for themselves rather than having the judgement of a court or a quango imposed instead. Only then will the ideas - racist or otherwise - be properly interrogated.
If freedom is not universal, it is not freedom. It becomes something else, something particular, something partial. That is, it becomes a privilege dished out by the state to those with views considered acceptable, and withheld from those with views considered unacceptable. That is the most conservative idea of all.
The greatest gift for all
Christmas is a time of traditions. If you have found time in the rush before Christmas to decorate a tree, you are sharing in a relatively new tradition. Although the Christmas tree has ancient roots, at the beginning of the 20th century only 1 in 5 American families put up a tree. It was 1920 before the Christmas tree became the hallmark of the season. Calvin Coolidge was the first President to light a national Christmas tree on the White House lawn.
Gifts are another shared custom. This tradition comes from the wise men or three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus. When I was a kid, gifts were more modest than they are now, but even then people were complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. We have grown accustomed to the commercialization. Christmas sales are the backbone of many businesses. Gift giving causes us to remember others and to take time from our harried lives to give them thought.
The decorations and gifts of Christmas are one of our connections to a Christian culture that has held Western civilization together for 2,000 years.
In our culture the individual counts. This permits an individual person to put his or her foot down, to take a stand on principle, to become a reformer and to take on injustice.
This empowerment of the individual is unique to Western civilization. It has made the individual citizen equal in rights to all other citizens, protected from tyrannical government by the rule of law and free speech. These achievements are the products of centuries of struggle, but they all flow from the teaching that God so values the individual’s soul that he sent his son to die so we might live. By so elevating the individual, Christianity gave him a voice.
Formerly only those with power had a voice. But in Western civilization people with integrity have a voice. So do people with a sense of justice, of honor, of duty, of fair play. Reformers can reform, investors can invest, and entrepreneurs can create commercial enterprises, new products and new occupations.
The result was a land of opportunity. The United States attracted immigrants who shared our values and reflected them in their own lives. Our culture was absorbed by a diverse people who became one.
In recent decades we have begun losing sight of the historic achievement that empowered the individual. The religious, legal and political roots of this great achievement are no longer reverently taught in high schools, colleges and universities. The voices that reach us through the millennia and connect us to our culture are being silenced by "political correctness." Prayer has been driven from schools and Christian religious symbols from public life. Diversity is becoming the consuming value and is dismantling the culture.
There is plenty of room for cultural diversity in the world, but not within a single country. A Tower of Babel has no culture. A person cannot be a Christian one day, a pagan the next and a Muslim the day after. A hodgepodge of cultural and religious values provides no basis for law – except the raw power of the pre-Christian past.
All Americans have a huge stake in Christianity. Whether or not we are individually believers in Christ, we are beneficiaries of the moral doctrine that has curbed power and protected the weak. Power is the horse ridden by evil. In the 20th century the horse was ridden hard. One hundred million people were exterminated by National Socialists in Germany and by Soviet and Chinese communists simply because they were members of a race or class that had been demonized by intellectuals and political authority.
Power that is secularized and cut free of civilizing traditions is not limited by moral and religious scruples. V.I. Lenin made this clear when he defined the meaning of his dictatorship as "unlimited power, resting directly on force, not limited by anything."
Christianity’s emphasis on the worth of the individual makes such power as Lenin claimed unthinkable. Be we religious or be we not, our celebration of Christ’s birthday celebrates a religion that made us masters of our souls and of our political life on Earth. Such a religion as this is worth holding on to even by atheists.
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.