Sunday, March 18, 2012


What a lot of whining! We all feel "othered" on occasions. I was treated with occasional scorn when I was at school because I was totally uninterested in sport and spent my time reading books instead. But it was like water off a duck's back. People need to get used to the fact that there are all sorts of differences between people and that not to notice it is to ignore reality

Something that might be real reason for upset is the way men tend to ignore flatchested women and women tend to ignore short men -- but that too is just part of reality and not likely to change any time soon. Sometimes people just have to learn to cope with their circumstances -- e.g. by getting a boob job or a Filipina bride. Accepting differences is much healthier than denying them or railing against them

The term ‘microagression’ was first coined by psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce in 1970 to describe the everyday things we say or do which causes someone to feel ‘othered’. Originally a racially-related phenomenon, its definition has since evolved to include any subtle verbal or non-verbal communication that conveys insensitivity towards a person’s sex, social status, physical appearance or sexuality.

Microaggressive remarks can often come in the form of back-handed compliments. For example, “She’s gorgeous for a big girl” or “I would never be able to tell you’re GAY!” Essentially, they are messages that appear innocent enough on the surface but contain ‘demeaning meta-communications’ to its recipients.

According to Columbia University psychologist Derald Wing Sue, “Most people... harbour unconscious biases and prejudices that leak out in many interpersonal situations.” Just think of all the talk-back radio rants that begin with “Now, I’m not racist/ sexist/ homophobic, but ...” or any number of ‘well-meaning’ comments that finish with: [chuckle] “No offence”. And since most ‘microaggressors’ are genuinely unaware of any wrongdoings, this makes it nearly impossible to confront the situation without evoking paranoia.

Ironically, Sue’s research also found that most of us are actually better at handling overt acts of discrimination than subtle insults, because at least the former has “no guesswork involved” whereas victims of microaggression are “often left to question what actually happened”.

The challenge ultimately lies in making the invisible visible – however ‘insignificant’ it may be. And we can do this, writes Cultural Anthropologist Zara Zimbardo, by “returning the gaze”: “In feminist discourse, it’s when “the targeted ‘other’ look[s] back at the non-target “norm”, putting them in the spotlight of scrutiny.” Viral videos like S**t White Girls Say to Black Girls or the Microaggression Project – where contributors are encouraged to submit snippets of microaggressive insults – are great examples of putting the spotlight on the myriad ‘invisible things’ that make up a marginalised experience.

In the end, this is an awkward subject because it often requires well-meaning people to reflect on their own bias and privilege. Sure, you may object to racism, but do you speak really, reaaally slowly when you order Thai home delivery? Perhaps no one sums up the value of self-awareness better than David Foster Wallace in his famous ‘This is water' speech:

“Two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"”

It’s surprising what goes unnoticed sometimes.


Even Britain's Leftist leader is fed up with Britons who won't work

Unemployed young men and women who turn down State-backed work training schemes will be stripped of their benefits under a Labour government, Ed Miliband said yesterday. The party leader said that for under-25s without work for at least a year ‘saying no is not an option’.

Labour’s Budget would demand a tax on bank bonuses to fund six months’ work for the young, he said.

Under the ‘Real Jobs Guarantee’ scheme, businesses would be paid up to £4,000 to cover 25 hours-a-week paid experience, he told a Labour youth conference.

Mr Miliband said: ‘It is simply unacceptable to have so many talented young people out of work for an entire year, with their hopes and dreams evaporating. And that’s why my ambition is this: to conquer long term youth unemployment.’

But the policy began to unravel when Deputy Leader Harriet Harman could not say how much it would cost. Asked on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme, she floundered, saying: ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that.’

The tax would raise £1billion, she added – although the party later said it would be £2billion.

Mr Miliband also used his speech in Warwick to tell how the extraordinary life and death of his father taught him to make the most of opportunities.

Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, who fled the Nazis in Belgium, died when Ed was 24. The Jewish refugee had arrived in London at 16 knowing no English and earned money clearing rubble. Within three years, he had a place at the London School of Economics.

Mr Miliband said: ‘He succeeded because he was given a chance. And the opportunity he was given was matched by his sense of striving.

'He worked hard to make something of himself and that is one of the things I learned from him: hard work and its value. It was just a sense that you shouldn’t waste your potential.’

In a personal interview in The Times yesterday, he attributed his and his elder brother David’s careers in politics to their father. ‘He was a lodestar, something to steer by.’

His father’s death at the age of 70 in 1994 had been the ‘worst thing that happened in my life’, Mr Miliband said.

He admitted that having an older father made him less likely to rebel, as he did not want to put a strain on the elderly man.

Ralph Miliband wanted his youngest son to be an academic but realised that he was more driven by politics.

But Mr Miliband said: ‘The idea that two of his children would be MPs and me the leader, that would not have been what he would have expected.’ Mr Miliband said he still had not apologised to his elder brother for inflicting a shock defeat over him to take the Labour leadership. He said ‘we’ve sort of moved on’ 18 months later.

Mr Miliband married the mother of his two children, Justine Thornton, last year.


Myths about social mobility in Britain

I heard an interesting interview on BBC Radio Four’s Today program the other morning. It was with The Guardian journalist Stephen Armstrong, who has retraced George Orwell’s 1937 journey to Wigan Pier and tracked down some of the sons of men Orwell interviewed for The Road to Wigan Pier. Here’s what Armstrong said:
Orwell met a lot of people on the road to Wigan Pier and he disguised a lot of names. We discovered that we know three of them quite well: a man called Gerry Kennan, who was a union activist, a man called Sid Smith, who was selling newspapers, and a guy called Jim Hammond, who was unemployed, a black-listed communist miner who really wasn’t getting any work.

So I went back to try to meet their sons. Gerry Kennan’s son, unfortunately, died at the end of last year. Sid Smith grew his shop into the largest independent retail newsagent in the north-west and his son Trevor now lives in a large house in green fields on the edge of Wigan. And Tony Hammond is now a retired High Court judge.

The BBC interviewer was astonished. These are only two cases, of course, but social mobility like this is not what The Guardian and BBC journalists expect to find when they go sniffing around northern, working-class towns like Wigan. This story just doesn’t fit with their familiar narrative of class privilege.

For years, I have been trying to convince anyone who will listen that social mobility in Britain is extensive. Like most other advanced capitalist countries, Britain is an open, meritocratic society where talent and hard work count for much more than social origins. Employers are interested not in who your father was but in what your competencies are.

But no matter how many times I set out the statistical evidence, politicians, academics and left-wing journalists refuse to believe it. Government is so convinced there is a problem that it is threatening to withdraw funding from top universities like Oxford and Cambridge unless they accept more working-class entrants on lower grades. Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed a social mobility ‘Tsar,’ Alan Milburn, who describes Britain as a ‘closed shop society.’ Milburn told the BBC last year: ‘In Britain, if you’re born poor, you die poor.’ This despite the fact that 80% of people born to parents under the poverty line in Britain avoid poverty when they reach adulthood.

We might hope that Armstrong’s stories of the retail magnate and the High Court judge might help correct some of these prevailing myths and misconceptions. But when a BBC interviewer gets together with a Guardian journalist, it doesn’t take long for them to revert to type.

Armstrong went on to tell of a 12-year-old in Wigan who thought that to become a High Court judge nowadays, ‘a magician would have to cast a magic spell.’ Armstrong concluded from this that mobility doesn’t exist anymore: ‘The opportunities that they [Orwell’s generation] had seem to have been closed off.’

He went on: 'Poverty is back to 1936 levels. I met a girl, Sarah, who is living on £2 a day.'

This does sound like appalling poverty. Except it turns out that Sarah had failed to attend an appointment at the Job Centre, so her unemployment benefit was docked. Instead of arranging a new interview, she was living in a homeless hostel and had apparently taken up with some undesirable men. Armstrong concluded from this:

'So Victorian style poverty and fates worse than death are increasing.'

'Yes,' said the BBC interviewer, now safely back in his comfort zone. And with ruffled feathers back in place, Radio Four moved on to its next story.


Open Doors and Closed Minds in America

There is simply no intolerance like that of so-called gay rights activists. In recent years, they have passed feminists as the most censorious political faction in higher education. Homosexual activists at Ohio University demonstrate that the gay rights movement is not about equality. It never has been. It is about forcing your views on others and forcing your opponents into closeted lives as second class citizens.

The most recent outbreak of homosexual hysteria began in the Fall Quarter of 2011. The Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) decided to fund religious speaker Frank Turek. Then, Open Doors, the campus LGBTIQQA (alphabet soup of victimhood) union protested due to Turek’s opposition to same-sex marriage. In other words, Open Doors wanted OU to close its doors to Turek because he is not as tolerant as they are. How queer is that logic?

The SAC is a commission of the Ohio University Student Senate that uses a portion of student general tuition to fund student organizations and student events. Any student organization program that uses university funding is under the direction of SAC’s general assembly. That includes Ratio Christi, a religious student organization that I have spoken for on more than one occasion.

Ratio Christi focuses on logical reasoning for the belief in the Christian worldview. So it made sense for them to invite Frank Turek to speak at OU. Turek spoke about his book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” He did not, however, speak about his book “Correct, Not Politically Correct: How same-sex marriage hurts everyone.”

Despite the fact that Turek came to speak on matters wholly unrelated to homosexuality, Open Doors opposed SAC’s allocating of their tuition money to fund Turek. Even when the subject is not homosexuality, the homosexuals have to change the subject to homosexuality. Their lives revolve around it. They simply cannot function unless they are proclaiming their victimhood.

The SAC did not capitulate to Open Doors demand that the Turek speech be cancelled. However, they did something almost as bad: they apologized to Open Doors. This is totally unacceptable.

Imagine what the conversation must have been like as SAC apologized to Open Doors. Maybe it went something like this: “We are truly sorry that you had to endure the thought that someone was present somewhere on campus – even for a couple of hours – who did not share your views on a subject he was not discussing. We know this was a trying time for your emotionally fragile constituency. We also know you were upset that not all student funds go to people who agree with you at all times and on all issues. So, we’re going to make it up to you. We’re buying extra condoms and contraceptives this year and using only student fees to do it. That will make the Christians just as angry as you were!”

How stupid are these people? Well, “stupid” is not a good choice of words. Let’s listen to their own words as quoted by a local newspaper reporter: “We were really confused and kind of pissed off,” said Open Doors co-chair, Michael Pistrui, after learning about SAC’s decision to fund Turek.

“Confused” and “pissed off” pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it. Gay activists are confused by a First Amendment that applies equally to everyone. And that pisses them off because they don’t really support equality.

But the story at OU gets worse. SAC is actually considering changing funding rules to ensure that such an incident never happens again. And that should be easy, shouldn’t it. Keeping homosexuals from getting angry is a pretty simple task. You just reward them for being angry and censorious and suddenly they become happy and tolerant, right?


SAC Treasurer Chris Wimsatt was quoted by The New Political as saying “We can’t decide to de-fund it after we already decided to fund it” suggesting that the principal moral and legal issue concerning the speech was contractual, not constitutional. In other words, cancelling the speech would have offended an isolated contract rather than offending a bedrock constitutional principle. Wimsatt said the effort to protest the matter was, “too little, too late” somehow suggesting that an earlier protest might have succeeded.

Regardless, the way forward is very simple. Conservatives should sponsor a speech next year called “The Gay Assault on Free Speech Equality.” When the Open Doors Gaystapo succeeds in shutting the doors to the speaker, they will humiliate themselves in the court of public opinion. Then my friends at the Alliance Defense Fund will come in and sue the SAC for viewpoint-based discrimination in the allocation of student activity fees.

What is needed is a plaintiff willing to put his finger in the glory hole of gay hypocrisy. Shaming the shameless will never be enough to prevent the fall of Athens.



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 is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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