Sunday, January 29, 2012
Heavy criticism for an academic who said those who display the Australian flag are likely to be racist
I think criticism of her is justified. She did apparently use the term "racist", which is very inflammatory. Many people would see it as including Hitler-type behaviour and she had no evidence that the people she described would endorse such behaviour.
There are many possible gradations of opinion about race-related matters. It may be noted, for instance, that the man who declared war on Hitler (Neville Chamberlain) was himself an antisemite of sorts -- so any implicit or explicit claim that there is such a thing as a monolithic entity called racism is unscholarly.
And any social scientist making or implying such a claim is ipso facto a very low-grade intellect. Though it might be noted that mean minds are common among sociologists. Many of them are still devoted to the writings of an obsolete economist and proven stimulator of hate named Karl Marx. The term "racist" of no use for anything except abuse. I use the term only in mockery of Leftist abuse.
I made some technical remarks about her research on 24th. but readers may also be interested in an alternative to her kneejerk reaction to the old "white Australia policy". See here for a more philosophically sophisticated look at the issues involved
A PERTH professor whose study found people who fly Australian flags on their cars are more racist than those who don't, says she has received over 70 critical emails which include demands that she go back to her "own country".
Brunei-born University of WA Professor Farida Fozdar [Judging by the name she is ethnically an Indian Muslim], who moved to Australia when she was seven, said she was shocked by the national reaction to her study which also spread as far India and the United States.
“Some emails have been quite polite and I’ve been able to reply and we’ve actually had quite a positive interaction out of it which, I really really value," Professor Fozdar said.
"But some are straight out lots of swear words and suggesting that I should go back to where I came from.
“I’ve also had a couple of emails from people implying that I’m the Grinch that killed Christmas and that now nobody is going to fly a flag because they think it shows that they’re racist.”
Professor Fozdar, a sociologist and anthropologist, said that although the study was reported “relatively accurately” in the media, some people have misinterpreted its findings.
“What has struck me most is that the media has reported the research relatively accurately in most cases, perhaps apart from some headlines, but people have taken it up in the wrong way,” Professor Fozdar said.
“People have taken it as though I was saying that anyone who flies a flag on their car for Australia Day is racist and that flying the flag generally is a racist thing to do and that certainly wasn’t what I was saying.”
Professor Fozdar said the study revealed flag-flyers were significantly less positive about Australia’s ethnic diversity than “non-flag flyers” but that the attitude is not shared by all Australians.
“The fact that there were significant differences doesn’t mean that everybody who flys the flag feel negative towards minorities but it means that a larger proportion of them did compared with people that weren’t flying flags,” she said.
Professor Fozdar said many people ignored her findings that the majority of both flag-flyers and non-flag flyers, interviewed by her research team, felt positive about Australia’s ethnic diversity.
“But that’s not what gets picked up by people,” she said. “That statistic was there, in a lot of media reports, but people took out of it that I’m saying they shouldn’t fly a flag for Australia Day because it’s racist and that we shouldn’t celebrate Australia Day. “That was just nowhere in the research and so that is what has surprised me.”
Hysteria and the moral battle to end welfare dependency in Britain
By Simon Heffer
This week’s row about welfare reform threw up several shocking facts. First, the £26,000-per-household cap on benefits that the Government seeks to impose is equivalent to a £35,000 pre–tax salary of someone in work.
Then there was the case of a parish priest who said he worked six days a week and earned £22,000 a year. Since he is in employment he does not qualify for any of the hand-outs (such as free public transport) given to some full-time welfare benefits claimants.
In a letter to a newspaper he rebuked the bishops of his own church who had voted in the Lords against the Government’s benefits cap, which would be set at £4,000 a year more than he earns.
To say that welfare is a perennially toxic subject is one of the great political understatements of our times. However unmerited some people’s financial support from the State is, the threat of its reduction or withdrawal always triggers hysteria from those unthinking elements on the Left — whether in the Labour Party, the Anglican Church or the BBC.
The truth is that, as a country, we have lost sight of the importance of every citizen striving to contribute to society, however modestly, as opposed to making a claim upon it.
As a result, perversely, those who won’t contribute are treated the same as those who do. This injustice means that they are given the right to live handsomely off the labour of the rest of us.
To sustain this grotesque state of affairs, which is an abnegation of society’s most fundamental values, would be unacceptable even in times of plenty. But in a time of economic crisis, it is simply outrageous.
Following this week’s Lords rebellion against the Coalition’s plans to cap the cost of benefit payments, the Mail has highlighted families living on small incomes who are determined to be self-reliant and to avoid becoming trapped in a cycle of welfare dependency.
Sadly, it has also been easy to find examples at the opposite end of the moral scale — people who are perfectly capable of work, but refuse to take or even look for it.
Indeed, earlier this month the media reported that some unemployed people were so idle that they couldn’t even bother to get out of bed in the morning to sign for their welfare benefits.
The fact that such behaviour is now tolerated without retribution is a shameful reflection of the attitudes of those who have governed this country over recent years.
Mercifully, there are influential figures such as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey who are determined to end this State-sponsored moral degeneracy.
This week, Lord Carey wrote an article for the Mail in which he said the scale of Britain’s public debt was the ‘greatest moral scandal’ facing the country and warned that the welfare system is rewarding ‘fecklessness and irresponsibility’.
He criticised the bishops who led the Lords rebellion, saying the senior churchmen were encouraging the culture of welfare dependency that led to ‘poverty of aspiration’. He said that they could lay no claim to the ‘moral high ground’.
Meanwhile, Mr Duncan Smith is wrestling to cut the £100 billion annual welfare bill. His initial proposals are modest, not because he lacks radicalism (for he understands exactly what must be done to wean Britain off dependency) but because his party’s Lib Dem coalition partners refuse to concede that the drastic reforms are necessary.
However, Mr Duncan Smith has two advantages that ought to help him carry through his proposals.
First, he has spent years studying the problems of poverty and he knows what he is talking about; what is more, the public trusts him because of that expertise.
Second, the dire economic state of the country means welfare reform is not being embarked upon purely as an ideological exercise. It is an urgent necessity because we have a crippling £1 trillion debt, caused by the last Labour administration, and the Government must make huge savings.
The public understands this and supports attempts to reduce the debt. The Tory Party, which is driving the reforms, is ahead in the opinion polls. This means there has never been a better time to break the culture that makes welfare dependency, for some people, a lifetime career.
Mr Duncan Smith deserves the unqualified support of all taxpayers in his attempts to start the process. The tragedy is that he appears to be fighting an almost lone battle in Westminster.
It is time his fellow Tories gave their public support to his reforms and highlighted the scandal of the way those who refuse to work (being given lavish welfare hand-outs) are treated in comparison with those who do.
Meanwhile, one has only to read the Left-wing media’s coverage of the debate about welfare to see that blackmail is being attempted to get reformers to halt their programme.
First, their opponents argue that any restriction on benefits given to the workshy will inevitably harm the claimants’ children. Also, they warn that some claimants may turn to crime if they lose their benefits.
The way to defeat such specious arguments is to make clear the distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor. Although this is often considered to be a Victorian concept, it was, in fact, first properly defined in 1563, when magistrates were told to differentiate between various types of poor in their parishes.
The deserving were deemed to be those who wished to work but couldn’t find employment. A ‘poor rate’ was levied to raise money to provide them with clothes and food.
Also deemed to be deserving were those too old, young or ill to work. They would be supported in alms houses or orphanages, and children would be offered apprenticeships to ensure that their adult lives were not blighted by poverty.
On the other hand, the undeserving poor were those — such as sturdy beggars — who avoided work. A remedy was found in 1563 when it was agreed that these idlers should be whipped until they saw the error of their ways, or moved on to another parish.
This distinction between deserving and undeserving poor was enshrined in the Poor Law of 1601, which remained until it was revised in the 19th century.
Of course, today’s undeserving poor are no longer whipped. Instead, they are kept in idleness by a state welfare system that gives them little or no incentive to work. Their weekly benefit cheques relieve them of the necessity of begging. Their children, produced regardless of their parents’ ability to provide food and clothing, are used as human shields in the fight against any cuts in welfare.
Surely the Government can devise a proper system that ensures that widows, orphans, disabled and elderly receive the full compassion of the State, while those who live off taxpayers have their life of idleness halted.
There has often been talk of ‘workfare’, a scheme used successfully in America where benefits are paid in return for state-sponsored work. The main obstacle to such a system in Britain has been the trades unions, who feared work would be found at the expense of their members.
The truth is that there are plenty of socially useful and productive tasks that could be done as a condition of receiving benefits.
For some of these people, though, this may require a major change in attitude. For example, people such as the university graduate who recently claimed her human rights had been infringed because she’d been made to work for her jobless benefits as a shelf stacker in Poundland must be made to realise how lucky they are to have gainful employment.
As for the argument that children will come to harm because their parents might lose benefits, that is not true. They would not lose out financially. Their hand-outs would simply be replaced by payments from the workfare scheme. Neither would there be a rise in crime, for the same reason.
Politicians have talked for nearly 20 years, since the time when fellow Tory Peter Lilley did Mr Duncan Smith’s job in the mid-Nineties, of ending the something-for-nothing society.
Even if a few bishops support it, the rest of the country is fed up being taken for a ride. We cannot afford it, literally or morally. Now is the time to deliver on the promise.
Vilified for telling the truth: The Christian GP whose life was made hell after he questioned the legalise drugs campaign
Dr Hans-Christian Raabe is a man of gentle demeanour and firm principle who cares deeply about his patients in the deprived area of Manchester where he works as a GP. Indeed, he chose to serve a community where unemployment is high, drug problems endemic and gang warfare rife because he wanted to make a difference.
‘I wanted to care for people in areas of most need, so I opted to work in a disadvantaged community with a high prevalence of social problems,’ he says. ‘And at the root of many of these problems are drugs.’
‘Every day I see the devastation substance abuse causes to individuals, families and communities. I see huge numbers of patients whose lives — whether directly or indirectly — have been ruined by the misuse of drugs.’
As a result of this first-hand experience — and because he felt a public-spirited compulsion to help tackle a national crisis — Dr Raabe volunteered for an unpaid post on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
However, he had barely taken up the three-year voluntary position as a Government adviser when a witch hunt against him began.
Disseminated by internet, the campaign swiftly gathered speed. Then the Home Office weighed in: in February 2011, Dr Raabe was dismissed before he had even had a chance to attend an ACMD meeting. He was given no right of appeal.
What happened? Had he committed a crime so heinous that no amount of self‑justification could exonerate him? Actually, he had not. Dr Raabe, 47, was merely guilty of holding unfashionably uncompromising anti-drugs views — namely that legalising drugs merely normalises their usage, and that we should instead try to create a drug-free society by focusing on drug prevention.
Incredibly, Dr Raabe was also criticised for being a Christian. He was stunned: ‘I was called a bigot, scum and a mad ba****d. I was accused of being a waste of space and of having no qualification to talk about substance abuse.
‘All I’d done was to offer a day or more of my time every week for three years to help improve the drug problem in the UK, and I was subjected to a vile stream of abuse and defamation. The Home Office caved in to pressure from the politically correct brigade. I believe it was spineless of them.
‘When they revoked my appointment I was not given a chance to refute any of the allegations against me. I began to feel as if I was living in a totalitarian regime — in Stalinist Russia or Ahmadinejad’s Iran — not in Britain in 2011.’
For months Dr Raabe, reeling from the shock of the onslaught, considered his position. And then he decided to fight back.
The German-born doctor has been granted permission for a judicial review against Home Secretary Theresa May, which is set to commence later this year, and is being represented by leading human rights lawyer James Dingemans QC.
He hopes to win back his committee post and, in so doing, stand up for Christians, who he believes are becoming increasingly marginalised and excluded from public office. ‘The attack on me was a confirmation that I was doing something right,’ he says. ‘The way I was treated strengthened my resolve to fight my corner.’
His determination was further bolstered this week when the Sentencing Council announced new rules under which heroin and cocaine dealers can be spared prison — serving community sentences instead. This week also saw Sir Richard Branson calling for the liberalisation of drugs laws, claiming three-quarters of young adults had tried cannabis.
The Virgin boss, who has admitted smoking the drug and using cocaine and ecstasy, said it was wrong to criminalise those with drug problems and argued that addicts should be given treatment, not sent to jail.
Dr Raabe fiercely contests this approach. ‘If you legalise drugs, you normalise their use,’ he says. ‘Do we really want to normalise the use of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and all the synthetic drugs?
‘Those who suggest legalisation is the answer have not learnt from history. It has been tried before and failed disastrously. Sweden and Japan have had painful experiences with legal drugs and, as a result, they have chosen instead to focus on drug prevention. They now have very low rates of misuse.’
Such uncompromising views have earned Dr Raabe enemies, who, he believes, sought to dredge up reasons why he should be sacked from the ACMD.
From the maelstrom of accusations and insults whipped up when he was appointed to the council in January last year, another grievance against him emerged. His opponents exhumed an academic report he co‑authored in 2005, while he was living in Canada, linking homosexuality to paedophilia.
The report, a collaboration between several doctors, was written when the Canadian Parliament was debating whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage, to which Dr Raabe — while he is not against civil partnerships — is opposed.
‘The paper summarised scientific evidence, which was in the public domain, and it was one paragraph, mentioning homosexuality and paedophilia together, which — so the Home Office tells me — caused them “embarrassment”,’ says Dr Raabe.
The offending paragraph states: ‘While the majority of homosexuals are not involved in paedophilia, it is of grave concern that there are a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among paedophiles.’
However, the Home Office also made essentially the same point in a document it published, which states: ‘Twenty to 33 per cent of child sexual abuse is homosexual in nature and about 10 per cent mixed.’
The irony of this is not lost on Dr Raabe. Even so, it was a Home Office civil servant who phoned him a couple of weeks after his ACMD appointment to question him about the report. ‘Three days later I received a letter from the Home Office saying it was “minded to reconsider” my appointment and asking for my response. I sent a detailed letter back and within two days my appointment was revoked.
‘I was told it was because I could potentially discriminate against gay people; something I have never done either in my professional or private life. I’m not anti-gay.’
There were other complaints against him. He had, it seems, compounded his ‘crime’ by holding firm opinions against legalising of drugs such as cannabis; views which set him at odds with former ACMD chairman Professor David Nutt, who believes that prohibition has failed and advocates a new approach based on teaching young people how to use prohibited drugs more safely.
Professor Nutt was sacked from the ACMD after claiming that ecstasy, LSD and cannabis were less dangerous than alcohol.
Dr Raabe, who has consistently opposed moves to reclassify cannabis from class B to C, holds the opposite view from Professor Nutt. He refuses to take the defeatist stance traditionally espoused by the ACMD — and echoed by the 30 celebrities who last year wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister asking him to consider decriminalising the possession of drugs — that the war against drugs is lost, and that children should be educated in the safest way to use them.
Instead, his aim is to try to create a drug-free society by teaching young people to say ‘no’. He is a member of an evangelical free church and his beliefs and opinions are in line with those of many of the Christian churches, which also seems to have raised hackles.
‘I take a very different view from the ones that have shaped the disastrously unsuccessful drugs policy in Britain,’ he says.
‘I’m a great fan of prevention, which is the approach used in Sweden, where the incidence of drug misuse is among the lowest in Europe. In contrast, Britain has among the highest rates of drug misuse, so current policies are patently not working.
Meanwhile, as an internet furore against Dr Raabe gathered pace, his own staff and patients — the people who use his surgery in the deprived Greater Manchester suburb of Partington and who know him best — rallied in support of him. ‘I’ve had not one negative comment, and many positive, encouraging messages,’ he says.
Meanwhile, the flurry of gratuitous insults from the legalise cannabis lobby continue. ‘It has upset me, but what worries me more is the fact that because I challenged the liberal Establishment, I was seen as a threat and had to be removed. ‘I was sacrificed on the altar of political correctness and have been discriminated against on the basis of my opinion and my faith.
‘However, something similar could happen to anyone of any faith or none if he or she dares to hold views that are not deemed to be politically correct.
The Christian Institute, which is supporting Dr Raabe’s High Court challenge to the ACMD, has called his removal from his post, ‘worryingly like some sort of anti-Christian McCarthyism.’
The Home Office meanwhile, has urged him to retract the views he expressed in the report on homosexuality that caused such uproar.
Should he not have done so?
‘I cannot retract scientific evidence,’ he says simply. ‘And if I did so, I would have to ask the Home Office to retract its own paper, too.’
The War on Political Free Speech in the USA
Two years after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, the campaign to silence opponents is becoming more censorious.
Two years ago the Supreme Court upheld the right of an incorporated nonprofit organization to distribute, air and advertise a turgid documentary about Hillary Clinton called, appropriately enough, "Hillary: The Movie." From this seemingly innocuous and obvious First Amendment decision has sprung a campaign of disinformation and alarmism rarely seen in American politics.
From the start, reaction to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has bordered on the hysterical. Rep. Alan Grayson (D., Fla.) called it the "worst decision since Dred Scott"—the 1857 decision holding that slaves could never become citizens. In his State of the Union message, within days of the ruling, President Obama lectured Supreme Court justices in attendance that they had "reversed a century of law" to allow "foreign companies to spend without limit in our elections." Neither statement was true.
In 1907, Congress passed a law—the Tillman Act, named for segregationist South Carolina Sen. "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman—prohibiting corporations from contributing to political campaigns. This law was extended to unions in 1943, and in 1947 a provision of the Taft-Hartley Act extended the prohibition to cover spending done independently of campaigns.
Citizens United overturned only the 1947 independent-spending restriction, not the earlier prohibition on corporate contributions to campaigns. Not until 1990 did the Supreme Court uphold a prohibition on corporate political expenditures independent of campaigns. Citizens United, therefore, overturned not "a century of law," but a precedent 20 years old.
Moreover, the court specifically noted that it was not ruling on the viability of the prohibition on foreign political spending—and earlier this month it summarily upheld a lower-court ruling finding that the prohibition on foreign political expenditures was constitutional.
Meanwhile, regardless of the 1947 federal law, the majority of states—including many of the best governed, scandal-free states such as Virginia, Utah, Oregon, Florida and Washington—have long allowed unlimited corporate spending in state elections.
None of this has slowed the decision's critics. Then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) began a committee hearing in September 2010 by arguing that in his small state, "it's easy to imagine corporate interests flooding the airwaves. . . . The rights of Vermonters . . . to be heard should not be undercut by corporate spending." Vermont has never prohibited corporate spending in state elections, yet it survived with its citizens' rights intact.
Mr. Leahy, at least, limited himself to foolish remarks. His junior colleague, Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), proposed a constitutional amendment last month that would not only prohibit corporations from speaking on political elections, but would prohibit any group of citizens organized "to promote business interests" from speaking about elections. Presumably, this could extend to everyone from the Heritage Foundation and the National Federation of Independent Business to the Republican National Committee and local citizens organizing against a sales-tax referendum.
Because most newspapers are incorporated, UCLA law Prof. Eugene Volokh believes that the Sanders Amendment and a companion bill in the House would even authorize the government to prohibit newspaper editorials about elections.
A national coalition, Move to Amend, seeks a constitutional amendment providing that "artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities . . . shall have no rights." The coalition seems oblivious to the fact that this would apply to campaign committees and nonprofits such as the NAACP and the Sierra Club, and would allow legislatures to make the advocacy of Move to Amend's goals illegal for most of the coalition's "endorsing organizations" (which are themselves corporations).
These amendments are based on the leftist cry that "corporations aren't people," but the Supreme Court has never said that they are. "Corporate personhood" is a legal fiction that allows natural people to sue and to be sued, to own and transfer property, and to carry on their affairs as a group. Corporations have rights because the people who own them have rights.
As Chief Justice John Marshall explained nearly 200 years ago in Dartmouth College v. Woodward, corporations allow "a perpetual succession of many persons . . . to manage [their] affairs and to hold property without the perplexing intricacies, the hazardous and endless necessity, of perpetual conveyances for the purpose of transmitting it from hand to hand." The legal concept of a corporate "person" has been with the United States since its founding, recognized in literally hundreds of Supreme Court decisions.
If Move to Amend got its way, police could search businesses, unions, clubs and nonprofits at will, without a warrant. The state could seize business property without due process or just compensation, leaving pension funds and individual shareholders holding worthless stock. Partnerships and corporations would have no legal rights in court. Incorporated churches would have no right of worship.
The absurdity should be obvious. Yet city councils around the country, including New York and Los Angeles, have passed resolutions calling for such an amendment.
Super PACs have become the latest villain du jour of the anti-speech crowd, which plays off the general public distaste for the political rancor that surfaces every election year. Critics including Mr. Sanders say that Super PACs don't disclose their donors and rely on "secret" money. This is simply not true. Super PACs, like the traditional political action committees that have existed for decades, disclose all expenditures and all donors over $200.
There are organizations that spend on politics but don't disclose their donors: traditional nonprofits such as the NAACP, the NRA and Public Citizen. These groups have never had to disclose their donors—and the Supreme Court, over 50 years ago, upheld their right to keep supporters anonymous. But reformers intentionally seek to blur the lines between these traditional groups and Super PACs in order to whip up criticism of Citizens United.
The goal of this misinformation is clear. Reformers, who sit mainly on the political left, and their Democratic Party allies hope to silence voices that they perceive to be hostile to their political interests.
Two years after Citizens United, American democracy seems as robust as ever. This may be what its critics fear most—a vibrant debate that they cannot control and fear they will lose.
The U.S. government argued in Citizens United that it had the right to ban the publication of books, pamphlets and movies that advocated the election or defeat of a candidate if they were produced or distributed by unions or corporations, such as Random House, Barnes & Noble and DreamWorks. That position is the one that deserves scorn. Fortunately, no new amendment was needed to defeat it—only the First Amendment and a Supreme Court willing to uphold it.
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. 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.