Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Samantha Brick again
A comment below from Australia. He says that the "nuclear" global response to her has proved her point.
Like most people, however, he seems to have missed the point that she intended to write in a light-hearted way, hence the apparent narcissism. But the topic was such a fraught one to many that it all came across as deadly serious
As the body count has grown on the streets of Syria, and the people of Burma have enjoyed their first taste of democracy, the number-one issue which has dominated the opinion pages in the western world this past week has involved a column by an English woman called Samantha Brick who is worried about being too pretty.
Brick, a regular columnist with London’s Daily Mail, set some sort of world record for self-absorption with a 1000-word rumination on the curse of being attractive, specifically taking aim at her female friends (and ex-friends) for being intimidated by her apparently stunning looks.
The column was a shining demonstration of first world problems. Brick talked about how she dreaded going to dinner parties and would even dress as a frump so as to not show up the other poor women in attendance, who even then would pale in comparison to her untameable beauty.
“I’m tall, slim, blonde and, so I’m often told, a good-looking woman,” Brick wrote. “I know how lucky I am. But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks. “
Much of the discussion around Brick’s column has centred on the point that she appears to be labouring under a serious delusion about how hot she is. The one passage of her column which really resonated with me was her brief and uncharacteristically modest disclaimer that she’s “no Elle Macpherson”. On this point she is dead right. Still it is probably best not to dwell on the matter of her looks as her husband, a fiery Frenchman by the name of Pascal Rubenat, has now threatened to kill anyone who ridicules her appearance.
It will be quite a massacre as in the week since she put pen to paper Brick has been the subject of tens of thousands of tweets and dozens of newspaper columns pointing out that she is no oil painting.
In a perverse way the nuclear global response to Brick’s column has proved her central point – that if you are attractive, or if you are simple happy with your looks, you will invite pure hatred from those who are unhappy with their looks or possessed of inferior looks, and that the hatred will come with most venom and intensity from fellow women. However vain and inane Brick’s column was in its execution, it has worked (possibly accidentally) as a demonstration of the body image issues and questions of appearance which bend so many women out of shape.
It is all a bit hard to fathom as a bloke because one of the defining features of being a man is that you don’t fret about your appearance, and you don’t care or even notice what your mates are wearing, or whether they’ve gained or lost a few kilos. When it comes to our appearance the best we generally hope for is the ability to “scrub up alright”, a self-deprecating phrase which suggests that looking good is still not that big an issue anyway.
It’s one of the reasons that men in the public eye who obsess about their appearance, such as the metrosexual Michael Clarke or the man-scapers at the St Kilda Football Club, will be regarded by other blokes as prissy and weird.
Brick’s point about the way women treat each other was beautifully demonstrated on Q and A a few weeks ago, bizarrely enough by the mother of modern feminism, Germaine Greer. By way of a bizarre non sequitur, Greer concluded a negative critique of Prime Minister Julia Gillard by attacking her dress sense and body shape, saying: “You’ve got a big arse Julia, just get over it.” As an amusing aside on the night the program was aired someone inside the ABC’s studio covertly pegged off a close-up photograph of Greer’s backside on their iPhone when the panellists were backstage having drinks.
The image suggests that when it comes to bum size Germaine Greer is standing in a glass house armed with a bucket of rocks. Setting that schoolyard point aside, Greer’s comments that night strongly endorsed Brick’s point about the way women treat other women.
Beyond that though is the bigger issue of the mindless self-absorption and superficiality which defines our culture. Brick might have had a valid point in her column but it still seems remarkable that she would choose to write about it in such an incredibly up-herself fashion, and then feign amazement at the ferocity of the reaction.
The reaction is still amazing though – hundreds of thousands of words across social media, independent blogs and mainstream newspaper pages. The fact that people care about this issue at all suggests that we have all got far too much time on our hands, and are in desperate need of something serious to worry about.
Britain's Tory party has lost sight of its true values -- 'Decontaminating’ the brand has alienated voters – but there is a way back
The latest polls will not make for happy reading in No 10. After a torrid post-Budget fortnight, Labour has a strong lead. If there was an election tomorrow, they would be returned with a big majority.
In 43 years as a volunteer for the Tory party, I have always believed that the values of our activists have been at the heart of our electoral success. Yet, in recent times, there has been an almost evangelical focus on the “modernisation” or “detoxification” of the Conservative brand. The result has been a growing disconnect between the party leadership and the grassroots, and a loss of clarity, principle and policy direction.
The Conservative Party has, at its best, always been radical and reforming. Under Disraeli and Shaftesbury, it introduced social reforms before Labour even existed. But “detoxification” saw us ignore issues where we were clearly in tune with the voters, such as immigration and Europe. Even just talking about them was seen as reinforcing the supposed “nasty party” image and alienating voters.
In fact, this approach weakened our appeal among large sections of the electorate. Even against a discredited Gordon Brown, in the midst of an economic crisis, modernisation failed to produce the election victory it was meant to secure. The Tories not only failed to win over new voters but failed to win back more than three million who supported us in 1992. This was due to a lack of clarity about our values, and a lack of understanding of the electorate’s aspirations.
What can we do about it? First, the party needs to have the courage to stand up for its traditional values. If we stop, voters – at best – forget what we stand for. At worst, they think we stand for nothing but getting into power. We should be unashamed about promoting our ideals and principles. Most voters want controlled immigration. Most oppose further European integration. Most share our support for freedom under the law and free markets, and recognise the importance of opportunity and social mobility. These are all inherently Conservative values. So, in the Budget, we should have had the courage to say that cutting tax for the low-paid and cutting the top rate were not alternatives, but two sides of the same coin. We should have stated plainly that axing the 50p rate will increase revenue, create jobs and drive growth.
Second, we need to re-establish the Conservatives as the party of aspiration: the kind that in the Eighties led to more home and share ownership, more new businesses, and the re-emergence of pride in our country. Tragically, for most of the Blair years we allowed Labour to portray itself as the party of aspiration. Unless we take practical steps to show voters that we understand and share their hopes, many of those who voted Tory two years ago will come to regard the party as out of touch.
To reconnect with its values and its voters, the party leadership must also re-engage with its members and activists. In the short period since the election, membership has fallen significantly. Why?
One reason is that we give people so little incentive to join. Once, members could table motions for party conference and shape party policy. Now, conference is no longer a forum for debate but an exercise in media management. Until recently, members could always choose their local candidates. But under the open primary system, an ordinary voter has the same say as a paid-up member. What is the point of paying to join when you can get the main benefits for free?
Then there is the significant decline in contact between the leadership and the grassroots. Every year at conference, Margaret Thatcher spent two hours receiving cheques from local treasurers. No amount was too small for a personal thank-you: a £50 cheque from a small branch in the Welsh Valleys was received with the same gratitude as £25,000 from a wealthy association in Surrey. This commitment paid huge dividends in terms of volunteer motivation and engagement.
Of course, Thatcher had a majority, and perhaps some compromise is essential in coalition. Yet being in coalition means it is more, not less, important that the party does not lose sight of its values.
So how should the leadership reconnect with the grassroots? For a start, ordinary members should be given more of a say in how the party is run. Candidates should be chosen by members, not just anyone who turns up. The party chairman should be elected by members, not hand-picked by the leader. Activists should have more contact with senior parliamentarians, and more chances to debate and shape policy.
Members and activists are the lifeblood of any party, and the custodians of its values. “Detoxification” has seen the party lose touch with its grassroots and with the values that brought it so much success. It has seen it lose loyal voters without winning enough new ones.
As with a successful business, it is vital to get it right inside the organisation first. Only by reconnecting with its members will the leadership rediscover the clarity of vision, principles and purpose that it needs to win the next election.
How the Enemy Uses Political Correctness to Divide and Conquer America
Ask an active duty intelligence officer to explain the reason for the existence of the intelligence community, and they might tell you (if they’re willing to say anything at all) that the main purpose of the intelligence community is to inform, if not warn, policy and decision-makers about threats to national security. The duty to warn the public (as opposed to just warning officials) is more nuanced; but suffice it to say that somewhere within the government’s hierarchy these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
Following the attacks of 9/11, there was a public outcry for information, and a demand that intelligence agencies warn the public on virtually all threats to the homeland. They did—and, if memory serves, the public subsequently decided they didn’t want to know. The information provided was considered to be too much and too scary. In fact, rather than face the reality of living in a country under constant threat, many pundits resorted to calling intelligence officers, military service members, and government officials “scare-mongers.” Detractors placed members of the intelligence community (as well as the entire administration) in the uncomfortable position of being slapped with negative connotations on a continuum from “negligence” to “zealotry.” In some quarters, they were simply referred to as “war criminals.”
Thankfully, intelligence analysts continued to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, however, in the wake of post-9/11 attempts to secure the nation, name-calling (essentially “friendly fire”) has become increasingly incorporated within the information operations carried out by those who wish our country harm. The verbiage that exudes from these adversarial info-warriors is then picked up by “friendly facilitators” (a.k.a. “useful idiots”) and further weaponized with overestimations of “good will” on the part of the enemy, assumptions of “bad will” on the part of our own forces, and underestimations of enemy intent.
Our own warriors (information and otherwise) are handcuffed with stilted language and difficult to implement requirements supposedly invented to stifle misunderstandings and bias, but which only serve to further the disinformation of an enemy that we are no longer allowed to “know” (see Sun Tzu). Citing the power attributed to positive thinking (or political correctness), the enemies’ sympathizers ironically resort to personal attacks and character assassination in efforts to close down conversation and divide the populace. In fact, the manipulations that “friendly facilitators” not only agree to, but participate in, ensure that in looking for the enemy, we turn on ourselves.
The result? Employees who refuse to walk the politically-correct line are replaced by others who know and heed the new rules. Those who remain are no-doubt confused as to what enemy they should be confronting, and probably become worried when descriptions of adversaries start to resemble people they have grown up with, or even worked beside for decades. In short—when political correctness outweighs national security interests the entire government becomes vulnerable to infiltration. No department, no agency is immune.
Why is this important? It’s important because we live in a world with many threatening actors who know exactly how to influence us, and we are being manipulated daily. We fool ourselves if we believe that we can successfully keep those threatening actors at bay simply because we try to make them happy while using (or not using) wording and references that their representatives recommend. We fool ourselves if we think that by giving in to demands, we can show everyone how nice we really are, and avoid confrontation. We fool ourselves by assuming that terrorists (oops, I mean “violent extremists”) will remain singularly, as opposed to cooperatively, threatening.
We pull a gigantic piece of wool over our own eyes if we think that our adversaries don’t already know how to divide us and conquer us. They are already doing it—we just haven’t figured it out yet.
‘Race Wars’ Part 1: The Shocking Data on Black-on-Black Crime
Black-on-black crime is a sensitive subject in this increasingly polarized nation. While covered in academia and occasionally addressed by talking heads on television, some believe it rarely, if ever, receives the type and depth of attention it deserves. Instead, critics argue that this national tragedy is usually swept under the rug by powerful interest groups and individuals more concerned with elevating their own racially-driven agendas than addressing the real issues at hand. The Trayvon Martin case is only the most recent example of this grim hypocrisy.
Indeed, statistics support a very different narrative than the one usually offered by “race hustlers,” as Pastor C.L. Bryant calls them, who routinely portray an America where members of the black community are selectively targeted and brutalized by white racists.
A 2007 special report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reveals that approximately 8,000 — and, in certain years, as many as 9,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States. This chilling figure is accompanied by another equally sobering fact, that 93% of these murders are in fact perpetrated by other blacks. The analysis, supported by FBI records, finds that in 2005 alone, for example, African Americans accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in the US — again, almost exclusively at the hands of other African Americans.
To put these number in perspective, recall that over 6,400 U.S. service men and women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined over the course of a decade-long war fought in those nations. During the Vietnam War, which lasted nearly 13 years, some 58,000 Americans were killed — nearly 13 percent of whom were African American.
Extrapolating black-on-black crime data reveals that, by comparison, approximately 100,000 African Americans have been killed on our own streets at the hands of other African Americans in roughly the same stretches of time. It is difficult to find anyone who would white-wash these mind-numbing statistics.
Equally as startling, the same study reveals African Americans were victims of an estimated 805,000 nonfatal violent crimes in just one year alone. What’s more, blacks comprise roughly 12.5 percent of the U.S. population.
While fatalities persist in every major metropolitan area across the nation, there are of course certain cities most impacted by violent crime. Take Cincinnati, for example, where, after the fatal shooting of a young black man by a white police officer in 2001, a wave of riots ensued. Since that time, Cincinnati has set the record for the number of murders carried out each year, with a persistent violent crime rate at a staggering 88 percent.
The now all-too-familiar statistics reveal that black males are killed far more often than any other demographic: “The vast majority of people being murdered are African American in the City of Cincinnati,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor, Joe Deters in an interview.
“The vast majority. Well outside the 40 percent of the population it should be. In 2009, the City of Cincinnati did not have a single white victim of a homicide. (That) tells me that we have a subset in the underclass of Cincinnati which is committing a lot of violent crime and they tend to be black. And the reality is, you almost always commit murder within your racial classifications. So when we’ve got a young black man up in the coroners office, it’s almost always a result of another young black man shooting him.”
That same year, 2009, no white men were killed in Cincinnati, but 44 black males and 11 females were the victims of homicide in the city.
One city that has perennially come under fire for racially charged violence is Chicago. In just the span of three days alone — March 16th-19th of this year — 41 people, mostly African-American, were shot and killed in Chicago. Ten were killed in President Obama’s former neighborhood. Incredibly, these atrocities on our very own streets barely received a turn of the head by activists, nor did they receive any media coverage.
In response to President Obama’s decision to raise the profile of the Trayvon Martin case, T. Willard Fair, president of the Urban League of Greater Miami, recently told The Daily Caller that the “the outrage should be about us killing each other, about black-on-black crime.”
He asked rhetorically, “Wouldn’t you think to have 41 people shot [in Chicago] between Friday morning and Monday morning would be much more newsworthy and deserve much more outrage?”
More than 500 people under the age of 21 were killed in Chicago in 2008. This figure fell only slightly in 2009 and 2010 and, of course, does not represent the many others who have been shot or injured as a result of these attacks. Records reveal that nearly 80 percent of youth homicides occurred in 22 black or Latino communities on Chicago’s South and West sides.
In just the first three months of 2012, 109 people have already been murdered in the city of Chicago. So rampant are the killings in fact, that crime in the President’s adopted hometown was even the focus of an April 5th report featured on The O’Reilly Factor:
In the poignant words of one man interviewed for the segment, “We’ve got to stop referring to people as African-American, Hispanic-American.” “These are American kids and they are being slaughtered by other American kids.”
According to recent studies, Illinois isn’t the only state in the Midwest to see a marked rise in the number of African-American homicide victims over the course of just the past few years. A study conducted by the Washington D.C. based Violence Policy Center revealed that for the third time in the past five years, Missouri is vying for Cincinnati’s role, leading the nation in black on black violent crime.
Perhaps surprisingly, Wisconsin, too, is ranked as one of the top ten states with the highest percentage of black murder victims. Spanning the rest of the country, the other nine states found to have the highest murder rates among African-Americans include Michigan, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, California and Nevada.
Where is the outrage?
Recently, The Blaze featured a report on Rep. Corrine Brown, who, after professing in an interview to care about “all the children” who fall victim to murder, could not remember the name of a little girl from her district who was murdered and then dumped into a Georgia landfill. While Brown fumbled to find the words, she ultimately could not recall Somer Thompson’s name. She did, however, have much to say about racial profiling and how Trayvon Martin was selectively targeted for his race. For some reason, Brown and others who have followed suit in this case have failed to address or acknowledge the epidemic of murders occurring within their very own communities.
But Brown is not alone. Not by any stretch. Which begs the questions: where is the outrage from prominent members of the African-American community? Where are the words of condemnation and sorrow from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, or Rev. Al Sharpton, over the fact that members of their own communities are summarily executing each other? Critics believe that acknowledging the unfortunate, irrefutable statistical truth negates the left’s narrative about a black community selectively exploited and targeted by white racists. Some might also argue that fanning the flames of racial discontent, especially in an election year, serves a useful and powerful campaign purpose.
Thus far, hundreds of thousands of African Americans have been slaughtered at the hands of each other since the dawn of the Civil Rights movement. Is this the realization of Dr. King’s Community of Man?
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.