Saturday, February 26, 2011
Anger as word 'marriage' vanishes from British birth statistics
Married couples have disappeared from official family records for the first time. In a further blow to the status of marriage, records of the number of women who become pregnant will no longer show how many were or were not married. Instead, Government statisticians will publish the number of mothers-to-be who were in ‘a legal partnership’ at the time they conceived – which will include both marriages and women in civil partnerships.
Eight years ago Labour ministers ordered that the word ‘marriage’ should no longer be used on official documents because they said it led to discrimination against gays.
However, there has been a growing chorus of complaints that the censorship of the word will warp official records and erase the evidence which shows that married couples and their children live healthier and happier lives.
The Office for National Statistics’ new figures show that there were 896,300 conceptions in England and Wales in 2009. But, rather than referring to numbers inside and outside marriage, they only show that 57 per cent of pregnancies began ‘outside a legal partnership’.
The disappearance of marriage statistics has come despite a plea from Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. In a major speech earlier this month, Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘I have asked my department to ensure references to marriage are included on relevant forms and research in the future.’
An old hatred revived in Britain
If it ever went away
What is worse, being falsely labelled a Tory or wrongly called a Jew? This question might have flashed through the mind of Aaron Porter, president of the National Union of Students, when police escorted him away from a group of anti-fees protesters in Manchester who taunted him with cries of "Tory Jew scum."
Given that Porter is not Jewish and is a member of the Labour Party, the choice of insult may seem bizarre. But Porter probably managed to decode the message. He knows that on the extreme fringe of left-wing activism in this country, "Jew" has become a term of political abuse.
Surprisingly, this does not always relate to Israel or Zionism — at least not directly. Shortly after the incident, Porter went on a fact-finding mission to Israel and the West Bank where he met Israeli and Palestinian students. But his venture into the Middle East imbroglio is not what annoyed the crowd in Manchester.
Porter was being heckled by protesters from that faction of the student movement who believe that the NUS under his leadership has not done enough to challenge the government's policy on university fees. They also condemn the NUS's refusal to do more in defence of those charged with various offences committed during the rioting in central London last year. They think Porter has sold out his members, not the Palestinians. So why on earth accuse him of being a "Tory Jew?"
There is a clue to this in the activity of Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Students Union. An ex-member of the Socialist Workers Party, now involved with Respect, she has consistently taken a more militant line in opposition to the hike in student fees and repeatedly outflanked Porter on the left.
In addition to her militancy on this front, Solomon has pronounced views on Zionism, Israel and the Jews. On Facebook last May, she declared that "there is no such thing as the ‘Jewish race'." She went on: "The view that Jews have been persecuted all throughout history is one that has been fabricated in the last 100 years or so in order to justify the persecution of the Palestinians."
Solomon has since apologised, explained that the offending words were written in haste and stressed that she does not dispute whether six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. She denounced unreservedly expressions of anti-Semitism. But while she has made a welcome retraction, we are left with this articulation of her unfiltered thoughts, a statement of beliefs so deeply rooted that, until challenged externally, did not merit a moment's doubt or self-questioning.
That may be because in the circles in which she moves it is the received wisdom that supporters of Israel manipulate the Holocaust for their own ends. Yet how does this ideological fixture connect with university fees and the NUS in this country? Because, in these self-same circles there is a concatenation between Zionism, Israel, Jews and everything that is perceived as bad in the world.
As if to make the point right on cue, on the same day that Porter was being barracked in Manchester, hundreds of students in central London were demonstrating against university fees with the chant, "London, Cairo — unite and fight." In the eyes of this faction, the struggle against higher fees and the Coalition government in England is at one with the global struggle against American-backed authoritarian regimes who are propped up, at the behest of the American Jewish lobby, as a carapace for Israel.
To this segment of student militants the enemy is global capitalism, which is identified with the United States which is, in turn, identified with Israel. They are convinced that Jews run the US and that any effort anywhere to thwart the thrust of progressive politics is probably the result of Jewish interference. To them, it makes perfect sense to bark "Tory Jew scum" at Porter.
Yet, even if we can find a serpentine logic to their behaviour, is it anything more than the ephemera of student politics . Is it even worth noting? Well, yes — I think it should ring alarm bells. The danger is that in the sub-culture of the far Left and in the world of student politics such received ideas go unchallenged and cement young peoples' view of the world. It is from this matrix that the leaders of tomorrow emerge. As weird and transitory as it may be, this is the breeding ground for future trades union leaders, college lecturers, journalists, MPs, and even cabinet ministers. Think of Peter Hain, Sue Slipman, Jack Straw and Charles Clarke, who were the student leaders and activists of their time.
Most of those who are protesting today will eventually learn that the anti-globalisation conspiracy theories and the demonisation of Israel which is central to them are based on fantasy, and will quietly disavow them. Some may even develop a sense of shame for the things they thought, said, and did. Others will carry their stereotypical perception of Jews with them to the top of their chosen fields. The consequences of that will be incalculable.
When Politics Overrides Justice
(Shenandoah, Pennsylvania) In 2008, two male teens got onto a late-night, drunken fight with a male Hispanic who died from his injuries.
Derrick Donchak, 19, and Brandon Piekarsky, 17, were subsequently charged with crimes of violence, including murder, in the death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez Zavala.
Donchak and Piekarsky were tried in May 2009 in Schuykill County Court on charges of murder, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, ethnic intimidation and simple assault. A jury returned verdicts of not guilty of all charges except simple assault.
Despite the acquittals, immigrant and racism activists pursued action against Donchak and Piekarsky in federal court. Legal scrabbling for an offense found that the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to interfere, with violence or threats, with a person's right to live where he chooses to live.
Consequently, for violating the Fair Housing Act, Donchak and Piekarsky were tried in federal court on charges that they interfered with Luis Ramirez Zavala's right to live where he wanted.
Yesterday, Donchak and Piekarsky were sentenced to nine years in federal prison.
The MSM has characterized the case as a hate-crime conviction since the victim was an illegal alien and the alleged perpetrators were white males. I would contend that it was a political conviction.
Think about it. The case was about a late-night drunken brawl leaving one dead and, as a result, two guys get sentenced to prison for violating the Fair Housing Act.
It has to be political to make any sense.
Muslims are not the same as earlier immigrants to Australia
ALMOST everything George Brandis said this week about Australia's successful creation of an inclusive society "receptive and respectful of people of race and faith" is true.
In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald, the senator paid tribute to Australian tolerance by recalling his experience growing up in the suburbs in the 1960s. Amid the colonial terraces and semi-detached houses of Petersham in Sydney's inner west, Chinese, Greek and Italian families lived happily alongside their Anglo-Celtic neighbours, and half the youngsters at his local school came from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
The idea that Australia under the rule of Robert Menzies did not resemble apartheid South Africa or the segregated south of the US will shock those who subscribe to the popular view that the coming of Gough Whitlam changed everything.
Brandis usefully reminded us that a multicultural Australia pre-dated the official invention of that policy by the Whitlam government in the 1970s. He also reminded us that our proud and enviable history of integrating migrants since the end of the World War II is attributable in part to the essential decency of the overwhelming majority of ordinary Australians.
Australia became a successful nation of immigrants because the egalitarianism that is central to its national character -- the principle that Jack is as good as his mate -- was extended by "old Australians" to include "new Australians".
Hence there was no white flight from Petersham or other suburbs in response to the influx of migrants from southern Europe in the 50s and Indochina in the 70s because newcomers of all colours and creeds were made welcome and accepted into the workplaces, the schools, the churches and the sporting clubs of suburban Australia.
Brandis was also right to suggest that these achievements should not be put at risk by cheap populism that seeks to exploit prejudice for political advantage. However, the senator for Queensland went too far in trying to shut down the debate about multiculturalism.
The debate was sparked in Coalition ranks by the publication of Scott Morrison's alleged remarks in shadow cabinet about Muslim immigration and community concerns in western Sydney.
"I can still remember the playground taunting of Italian kids, from which I formed my lifelong detestation of bullies who pick on a vulnerable minority," Brandis wrote in a thinly disguised rebuke to his colleagues. "Whether they realise it or not, the same sentiment that drives those who bullied those kids then, animates those who beat up on Muslims now."
This is a variation on a common grievance aired by many members of the multicultural industry: "Australia is a racist country because kids teased me about what was in my sandwiches at lunchtime."
Judging how a civilisation treats minorities based on what eight-year-olds call each other is ludicrous. To equate this with a legitimate debate about the success or otherwise of Muslim integration is just as ludicrous.
This is especially so when this debate is belatedly being had in Britain, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland and Scandinavia, now that the evidence of non-integration and the failures of multicultural policy are undeniable.
Europe has discovered that a nation of tribes united by a common welfare state does not create the harmonious society multicultural theorists said it would.
Instead, divisions between native and immigrant populations have been entrenched and the social fabric frayed. Australia does not confront challenges on the same scale, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we have nothing to worry about.
From Petersham, it is a 15-minute drive southwest to Lakemba. It is 30 years since [mostly Muslim] refugees fleeing the civil war in Lebanon received asylum in this country, and still Lakemba and its surrounds remain ghettofied.
The usual pattern of dispersal by first-generation children of immigrants has not occurred to the same extent and the area is plagued with poor educational achievement, high unemployment and crime.
The community concerns that exist in western Sydney about Muslims and multiculturalism are based on these jarring realities on the disintegration of some parts of Sydney from the mainstream, and the failure to repeat the successful patterns of integration of other ethnic groups.
To blame racial or religious prejudice, whether formed in the playground or otherwise, is avoiding the real issue. So is reaffirming the national commitment to multiculturalism, as the Gillard government has done, as if that and the proposed anti-racism campaign will be a cure-all.
The conventional wisdom among most elites is that we should not discuss these issues because it will unleash the racist sentiments that still lurk in the hearts of most Australians.
I think the opposite is true. It is because most Australians believe in the immigration and integration of all comers that what is going on in southwest Sydney is of concern.
Perceptive politicians have picked up on this. Effective politicians will honestly address the issues and propose solutions. Ineffective ones will shut their eyes and lecture an unimpressed electorate about respecting "diversity".
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.