Friday, July 08, 2011
Politicians’ Immoral Behavior Becoming Acceptable
Politicians today are getting away with higher levels of disgraceful behavior. Even just a few years ago it was a shock when a high-level political official did something immoral or promoted inappropriate values. When former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders said in 1994 that masturbation should be promoted to deter young people from engaging in risky sex, President Clinton fired her. Clinton himself was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998 for perjury relating to his extramarital liaison with Monica Lewinsky and sexual harassment of Paula Jones.
Now, the media scarcely covers most politicians’ shameful behavior. Inappropriate acts by high-level Democrats have mostly been ignored during the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arranged last month for Lady Gaga, a pop singer known for her shocking behavior and skimpy outfits, to sing at a Europride gay, lesbian and transgender festival in Rome. Gaga’s disgraceful acts include pretending to be stabbed to death during concert performances and falling on the floor in a pool of blood. Clinton’s efforts promoting someone that offensive in order to enable them to appear at a controversial festival received almost no scrutiny. No one even questioned why the State Department was inserting itself into the business of questionable pop stars.
In May, First Lady Michelle Obama invited rapper “Common” to the White House to perform at a poetry night. Common has called for the burning of George W. Bush and praises a Black Panther cop killer in his song lyrics. Michelle Obama honored singer Beyonce at the 2011 Billboard Awards and also thanked her for being a “role model” for her girls. Beyonce is known for wearing practically next to nothing and singing songs like “Naughty Girl,” about desiring a one night stand.
Contrast these music artists with those invited to the White House by prior presidential administrations; Nancy Reagan invited the Beach Boys to the White House and President Nixon invited Elvis. With all the talent in America, it would have been easy to find someone more deserving who would stand up to public scrutiny as an appropriate role model. Rock stars may not be role models, but the President and his wife certainly are looked up to as role models and their choices should reflect as such.
Although married former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was forced to resign over sexting other women, several politicians like Rep. Charles Rangel defended Weiner’s actions and received no admonition. Rangel said the new bar for acceptable immoral behavior should extend to Weiner, "I know one thing - he wasn't going with prostitutes. He wasn't going out with little boys. He wasn't going into men's rooms with broad stances. I mean all of those things I understand. I'm 80 years old."
Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer actually came out ahead after getting caught using a high-priced prostitution ring in 2008; CNN rewarded him with his own television show.
Last month, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Cal.) casually compared radical Islamic militants to “Christian militants” and the media barely batted an eye. Marion Barry, former Mayor of Washington, DC and currently a DC Councilman, regularly visits strip clubs, brazenly defending them as “erotic clubs.”
Rep. Pete Stark (D-Cal.) has probably made more revolting statements directed at conservatives than any other Democrat politician. He called former House Ways and Means committee chair Bill Thomas a "c--ks----r.” He belittled married Republican Congressman Scott McInnis, "You little fruitcake. You little fruitcake. I said you are a fruitcake." He referred to Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) as a “whore” for the insurance industry and said her knowledge of healthcare came from “pillow talk” with her physician husband. He told former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, who is black, that he is "a disgrace to his race and his profession" because he opposes Stark’s liberal positions on healthcare. He falsely said that former Rep. J.C. Watts’ (R-Okla.) children were born out of wedlock. Nothing has happened to Stark and he continues to get reelected to Congress.
At the same time, traditional moral values are being pushed out. President Obama discontinued the traditional White House prayer service on the annual National Day of Prayer. Last year, respected Pastor Franklin Graham was disinvited from a National Day of Prayer ceremony at the Pentagon, due to pressure placed upon the Obama administration by the Council for American-Islamic Relations. In 2009, Obama signed an executive order repealing a policy President Bush signed in 2001 prohibiting federal funding of research on embryonic stem cells beyond the 60 cell lines that existed at that time. He also signed an executive order overturning a policy that prohibits the use of American tax dollars to fund overseas organizations that fund or promote abortion.
The media has been complicit in this moral decay, by providing only scant coverage and avoiding any “judging” of the actions of those involved. The problem with allowing our leaders to slide into moral relativity, though, is that it is a slippery slope. If it is ok to perjure yourself regarding an extramarital affair, then why not perjure yourself about white collar crime? This collusion by Democrat politicians and the media is taking the country in a dangerous direction that will make it easier for corrupt politicians to run the country.
The wonders of British multiculturalism
'Voodoo' caretaker who trafficked young girls and made them eat hearts is jailed for 20 years
A council caretaker who smuggled two teenage girls into Britain and forced them to work as prostitutes after they were put under a voodoo curse was jailed for 20 years today.
Failed Nigerian asylum seeker Anthony Harrison, 32, also became the first ever person to be convicted of trafficking the victims out of the UK in a groundbreaking case. A jury at Woolwich Crown Court unanimously convicted Harrison of a string of trafficking charges but cleared him of two charges of rape.
The girls involved, aged 14 and 16, from Edo in Nigeria, are believed to be the first 'Juju' voodoo rites victims to give evidence in a European court.
The two teenagers - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - underwent a series of perverse ceremonies which saw one of them stripped naked, cut all over her body with razors and locked in a coffin for hours. Another ceremony saw her forced to drink blood while yet another involved eating a chicken's heart.
The Juju rituals were intended to ensure the victims were 'bound' to a medicine man and would never reveal the truth about their harrowing ordeals. Until now, those who have undergone such rituals have refused to speak out of fear that a curse would kill them.
Harrison, of Albert Square, Stratford, east London, worked for Newham council under the name Charles Pepple.
Passing sentence, Judge Philip Shorrock said: 'The trafficking of young girls from rural villages in Nigeria so they can be compelled to work as prostitutes is a vile business. 'When they are as young as these girls and their innocence and credulity is exploited by subjecting them to Juju ceremonies to terrify them into obedience and silence, it is a trade that is viler still.'
Prosecutor Riel Karmy-Jones added: 'It is the first time the crown have been able to persuade victims of this type of trafficking to give evidence in court.
Harrison led a double life as a 'key player' in a people trafficking gang which used bizarre rituals to trap the children into sex slavery.
He arrived in the UK in April 2003, claiming to be Liberian, but evidence suggested he was actually from Nigeria. Although his asylum application and subsequent appeals were refused, he was granted indefinite leave to remain under the Home Office 'Legacy' programme.
In 2009, Harrison oversaw the smuggling of the girls while he worked for Newham council. Harrison then shipped them on to Spain and Greece to work in the sex industry.
When the trial started, Judge Shorrock warned jurors that they would hear evidence of terrifying voodoo rituals and gave them the chance to absent themselves from the trial.
The case evokes memories of the five-year-old west African boy, later identified simply as Adam, found washed up next to the Globe Theatre in 2001 after he was smuggled into Britain. He had been drugged with a 'black-magic' potion and sacrificed in a Juju ritual killing before being thrown into the Thames.
Jurors heard how the two girls were sold by their families in Nigeria to people traffickers. After being subjected to Juju rituals in Africa, they were given 'scripts' to tell UK immigration staff that they were claiming asylum, having been forced to flee their country because they were accused of being lesbians.
Once in the UK, both girls were placed in care before they absconded in order to contact their handler, Harrison. Both girls were from a part of Nigeria where Juju magic or medicine 'exists side by side and in conjunction with other religions such as Christianity.'
Ms Karmy-Jones told jurors 'It is what many of us would immediately jump to call black magic, or a kind of voodoo, but we would probably be incorrect in that simplification,' she said.
'I am not going to give you any huge detail, other than to say that Juju is amongst those who believe in it considered to be very strong magic and is greatly feared.
'Both girls were subjected to ceremonies involving this magic, although each appears to have been quite different, and it has taken a long time - two years of painstaking work - for the police involved in the investigation to build up sufficient trust for these two girls to talk more openly about what happened to them.'
Jurors heard both girls feared they would die if they exposed their captors to UK authorities.
Welcoming the conviction, DC Andy Desmond of the Metropolitan Police's Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command said: 'I would like to pay tribute to the two victims who showed tremendous courage by talking to the police and agreeing to testify against their captor.
'I hope that this conviction sends out a strong message to other victims who have suffered similar experiences that you can speak out without fearing for your lives. 'The MPS is fully aware of this crime. We will listen to you, we will not dismiss you and we will do all we that we can to bring the perpetrators to justice.'
An unholy marriage of snobbery and snideyness
The cultural elite’s support for homosexual marriage is more about distinguishing themselves from homophobic plebs than fighting for equal rights
Gay marriage has emerged as one of the most controversial and divisive issues of our time. For more than a decade it has been the hot-button issue in US politics. On Friday, New York state legalised gay marriage, leading to predictions that it will become an even testier issue in the coming months. This new law ‘could propel gay rights as a political wedge in the 2012 [presidential] elections’, predicted the Wall Street Journal.
In Britain, too, many campaigners and commentators argue that it is not enough for same-sex couples to be able to enter into civil partnerships – they must also be allowed to marry. Meanwhile in Australia, the Queensland conference of the Australian Labor party (ALP) recently passed a motion demanding support for gay marriage at the ALP national conference in December. Similar resolutions have already been passed by Labor conferences in South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. It is clear that for a section of the ALP, as for many left-leaning politicians and observers across the Western world, support for gay marriage is now a matter of principle.
Whatever one thinks about the pros and cons of gay marriage, a tolerant society cannot deny the right of homosexual couples to formalise their relationships. But the campaign for gay marriage is not just about rights; it is also about the contestation of values and attitudes.
From a sociological perspective, the rise of the campaign for gay marriage provides a fascinating insight into the dynamics of the cultural conflicts that prevail in Western society. Indeed, over the past decade the issue of gay marriage has been transformed into a cultural weapon, which explicitly challenges prevailing norms through condemning those who oppose it. This is not so much a call for legal change as a cause, a crusade – and one which endows its supporters with moral superiority while demoting its opponents with the status of moral inferiority.
The campaign for the legalisation of gay marriage does not simply represent a claim for a right; it also represents a demand for the institutionalisation of new moral and cultural values. This attitude was clearly expressed last weekend by Trevor Phillips, chairman of the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission. He argued that Christians, particularly evangelical ones, are more troublesome than Muslims in their attitudes towards mainstream views. In particular he warned that ‘an old-time religion incompatible with modern society’ was driving Christians to clash with mainstream views, especially on gay issues. Incidentally, by ‘mainstream’ he of course means views which he endorses.
Phillips’ choice of words implies that opponents of gay marriage are likely to be motivated by ‘old-time religion’, which is by definition ‘incompatible with modern society’. From this standpoint, criticising or questioning the moral status of gay marriage is a violation of the cultural standards of ‘modern society’. What we have here is the casual affirmation of a double standard: tolerance towards supporters of gay marriage, and intolerance towards opponents of gay marriage.
The claim that certain values and attitudes are ‘incompatible’ with modern society tends to serve as a prelude to stigmatising and attempting to silence those values and attitudes. That is why the so-called enlightened opponents of ‘old-time religion’ more than match the intolerance of those whom they denounce as homophobic bigots.
In the Anglo-American world, gay marriage has become one of those causes through which the cosmopolitan cultural elites define themselves and construct a moral contrast between their kind and ordinary folk. What’s really important for them is the sense of superiority experienced through the conviction that ‘we’ are not like ‘them’. In this way, a clear moral distinction can be drawn between the forward-looking attitudes of an enlightened, courageous minority and the backward-looking prejudices of a homophobic majority.
It is the sense that supporting gay marriage is now a virtuous thing to do, as culturally sanctioned by a cosmopolitan elite, which encourages otherwise apolitical pops stars such as Britney Spears to tweet things like, ‘So happy! Today is a great day for love and equality’, in response to the news that a US federal judge ruled that a California ballot banning gay marriage was unconstitutional.
The rhetorical affirmation of gay marriage can speedily place a celebrity on the right side of the cultural divide. And no one with an aspiration to succeed in showbusiness can afford to be on the other side. Take the case of American comedian Tracy Morgan. After he was criticised for joking about homosexuals earlier this month, he quickly apologised. But he did not simply say ‘I am sorry’; he felt obliged to demonstrate his right-on credentials by coming out as an ardent supporter of gay marriage.
He declared: ‘I believe everyone deserves the right to be happy and marry who they want: gay, white, black, male or female.’ What his statement lacked in conviction it more than made up for with ritualistic acquiescence. In truth there was little else that Morgan could say if he wants his television career to flourish.
In the US, questioning the status of gay marriage is often depicted, not simply as an expression of disagreement, but as a direct form of discrimination. The mere expression of opposition towards a particular ritual, in this case gay marriage, is recast as more than a verbal statement – it is itself an act of discrimination, if not outright oppression.
So American journalist Hadley Freeman recently argued in the UK Guardian that gay marriage is not a suitable subject for debate. ‘There are some subjects that should be discussed in shades of grey, with acknowledgment of subtleties and cultural differences’, she wrote. But ‘same-sex marriage is not one of those’. Why? Because ‘there is a right answer’, she hectored, in a censorious tone. The phrase ‘there is a right answer’ is really a demand for the silencing of discussion. And just in case you missed the point, Freeman concluded that opposition to her favourite cause should be seen for what it was: ‘as shocking as racism, as unforgivable as anti-Semitism’.
It is worth noting that the rise of support for gay marriage, the emergence of this elite crusade against sexual heresy, coincides with the cultural devaluation of heterosexual marriage. Today, heterosexual marriage is frequently depicted as a site for domestic violence and child abuse. A review of academic literature on the subject would indicate a preoccupation with the damaging consequences of heterosexual marriage. Terms such as the ‘dark side of the family’ invoke a sense of dread about an institution where dominating men allegedly brutalise their partners and their children.
This preoccupation of professional victimologists is reflected in popular culture. Cinema and television constantly give us stereotypical stories about unhappy, failed and dysfunctional heterosexual marriages. In contrast, same-sex unions are treated with reverence in popular culture, depicted as mature relationships between loving equals.
Of course, heterosexual couples continue to get married, but there has been no time in history when the institution of heterosexual marriage has enjoyed such feeble affirmation. Indeed, these days heterosexual couples are often likely to hear the refrain ‘Why get married?’ or ‘Why wait for marriage before having children?’.
Paradoxically, in some quarters the idea that marriage for heterosexuals is no big deal coincides with the cultural sacralising of same-sex unions. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that behind the gay-marriage discussion there lurk some profound questions about how to endow intimate relationships with meaning today. And in such circumstances, elite-sanctioned snobbish intolerance is really no more acceptable than anti-gay prejudice.
The British liberal elite despise the working class
If you ever watch the later films of Mike Leigh, you will notice that all of them have a recurring character. From High Hopes through to Secrets and Lies through to Vera Drake, this character always, always makes an appearance.
And the character is that person who has left his or her working-class community. That person who has turned their back on their working-class roots and foolishly gone off in pursuit of the middle-class dream.
The character is usually a woman. She is always miserable and soulless. She lives in a big but heartless house, full of perfectly polished ornaments. And she is forever committing embarrassing social faux pas, which of course middle-class Mike Leigh fans find hilarious. Leaving aside Topsy Turvy, I challenge you to find any recent Mike Leigh film which doesn’t feature that character.
And it’s a character which speaks to a very powerful prejudice amongst today’s liberal elite – a prejudice which says that there is something weird, something unnatural, something morally dubious about working-class people who leave their communities.
It is seen as an act of betrayal. They have abandoned community solidarity and have been won over by, or rather have been brainwashed by, the rampant Thatcherite culture of consumption and one-upmanship.
In answer to the question of who or what is demonising the working classes today, I would say that that prejudice is one of the most decisive things. That prejudice against working-class people with ambition, against working-class people who aspire to own more stuff or to move to nicer, leafier suburbs or simply to have The Good Life, is really the driving force behind modern liberal snobbery.
It’s a prejudice which has been around for nearly 30 years. Right from Loadsamoney through to the attacks on ‘Essex Man’ and ‘Basildon Man’ through to the assaults on yuppies, with their vulgar fast cars and their vulgar common accents – working-class people with material aspirations have had a special place in the middle-class canon of hate figures.
They are often depicted as fishes out of water, trying to live a life that they are hilariously ill-suited for. So one group that everyone loves to mock is the footballer’s wife, drinking her Chardonnay, living in a ghastly Mock Tudor mansion, ruining Tuscany for everyone else by insisting on holidaying there. Who do these people think they are? What are they doing in our social circles?
That sentiment was explicitly expressed in a Guardian article about a nouveau-riche nightclub frequented by the footballer Wayne Rooney. It described the club as ‘a tawdry place where the clientele seem to be under the misapprehension that drinking champagne is a symbol of class’.
And it is that prejudice against the grasping, greedy sections of the lower orders which fuelled the attack on so-called chavs in recent years. Chavs are mocked for having bling, for their love of fashion labels, for daring to wear Burberry, which of course only posh people can really carry off.
Ironically, the so-called defenders of ‘chavs’ also buy into this prejudice. So in his book, Mr Jones favourably quotes Hazel Blears as saying: ‘I’ve never understood the term “social mobility” because that implies you want to get out of somewhere… And I think there is a great deal to be said for making who you are something to be proud of.’ In other words, know your place. The one thing that chav-bashers and chav-defenders share in common is a profound discomfort with working-class individual aspiration.
This liberal prejudice has even been given the stamp of scientific authority in recent years. Books by the psychologist Oliver James and the social scientist Richard Wilkinson claim it is a provable fact that our desire for more and more stuff makes us mentally ill. If you chase after material goods you will catch a disease known as ‘Affluenza’. That is how powerful and deeply ingrained the liberal disgust for aspirant working-class people has become: it has been turned into ‘science’.
What is behind this relentless cultural demonisation of working-class people who might want to leave their communities or create new lives for themselves? I think there are two points to make about this prejudice.
Firstly, it is just wrong. It is wrong to make such a savage distinction between good working-class people who stay in their communities and bad working-class people who abandon them. Or between ‘rugged individualism’, which is seen as bad, and ‘community spirit’, which is seen as good. In fact those two things inform and reinforce each other.
There is far more interplay between the individual and the community than this childish prejudice lets on. Often the youthful ambitions of working-class individuals will actually be nurtured by their family and friends, who want them to go somewhere better. And those individuals who do leave and who do make loadsamoney almost always keep a connection with their community: they might employ their old working-class friends or they might send a weekly cheque to their mother or grandmother.
The idea that it is bad to be socially mobile, and by extension that it is good to be socially immobile, is really just a rehabilitation of the old sneering prejudice that the poor should not get ideas above their station.
And the second point about this prejudice, which is far more powerful on the left than it is on the right, is that it speaks to a profound shift that has taken place in left-wing thinking in recent years. It speaks to a shift from focusing on ‘class consciousness’ to focusing on ‘class identity’; from treating working class as a political and social condition to treating it as a permanent and fixed identity.
In the past, radical left-wing thinkers, even some champagne socialists, were more interested in ‘class consciousness’. They were more interested in the working class becoming conscious of its position as a class and of its power to overthrow the class system. Indeed, the aim of radical left-wing activism was really to bring about the end of the working class.
Today, liberal and left-wing thinkers are obsessed with ‘class identity’. They have turned being working class from a social predicament, a social status, into a fixed cultural identity. They see it, not as something that might be and maybe even should be brought to an end, but as something that should be celebrated.
So they go all misty-eyed for the culture and values and spirit of these noble savages, and at the same time they have created a whole armoury of abuse and insults for any working-class person who dares to reject his identity and to try to become something else. In their fatalistic, identity-obsessed outlook, the working-class person who leaves his community is not simply trying to ‘get on’ – he is sinning against the natural order of things, against his fixed position in the world, against the whole politics of identity. Their embrace of the idea that working class is an identity, rather than a product of the capitalist system, makes them furiously hostile to anybody who dares to break out of that. Ironically, in such circumstances, the man or woman who rebels against his working-class identity, as defined for him or her by others, is striking a far better blow for working-class self-respect and self-determination than those middle-class outsiders who say: ‘Be proud of who you are.’
It’s no wonder, then, that according to a report published by the think-tank Britain Thinks last week, fewer and fewer workers are describing themselves as ‘working class’. When being ‘working class’ no longer means being powerful and transformative, but instead means knowing your place and living like a permanent exhibit in a cultural zoo that will apparently exist forever, it isn’t surprising that people want to wriggle free from that. Maybe they are refusing to to accept the Fate designed for them by those middle-class celebrators of the old, decent, back-broken working class. And of course when they refuse to accept that Fate, by making loadsamoney or by draping themselves in bling, they are severely chastised for their disobedience.
In truth, there is nothing permanent about being working class. The working class has only existed for a few hundred years, and there is no reason that this class should still exist in a few hundred years from now. I hope it doesn’t. And I hope that the next working-class uprising will be against the elitist and middle-class do-gooders who encourage working people to revel in their identity, as if they are going to live like this and work like this forever.
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.
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