Monday, April 08, 2013
U.S. Army instructor Labeled Evangelicals as Religious Extremists
A U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania, Fox News has learned.
“We find this offensive to have Evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church to be listed among known terrorist groups,” said Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of wrongheaded characterization.”
The incident occurred during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism. Topping the list is Evangelical Christianity. Other organizations listed included Catholicism, Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan, Sunni Muslims, and Nation of Islam. The military also listed “Islamophobia” as a form of religious extremism.
Army spokesman George Wright told Fox News that this was an “isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army.”
“This slide was not produced by the Army and certainly does not reflect our policy or doctrine,” he said. “It was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command’s knowledge or permission.”
Wright said after the complaint was lodged, the presenter deleted the slide, and apologized. “We consider the matter closed,” he said.
The incident was made public by a soldier who attended the briefing. He asked for copies of the presentation and sent them to the Chaplain Alliance.
“He considers himself an evangelical Christian and did not appreciate being classified with terrorists,” Crews told Fox News. “There was a pervasive attitude in the presentation that anything associated with religion is an extremist.”
The Archdiocese for the Military Services was shocked to learn that the Army considered Catholicism to be an example of extremism.
“The Archdiocese is astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist,” the Archdiocese said in a statement.
They want the Dept. of Defense to “ensure that taxpayer funds are never again used to present blatantly anti-religious material to the men and women in uniform.”
“In the notes it was clearly stated that the presenter was not a subject matter expert, and produced the material after conducting Internet research,” Wright said.
So if the presenter was not an expert, what were they doing presenting the material, Crews asked.
He said he had a chance to speak with the officer who conducted the briefing and she told him that she got her information from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“Why is there such dependence upon the work of the SPLC to determine hate groups and extremist groups,” Crews said. “It appears that some military entities are using definitions of ‘hate’ and ‘extreme’ from the lists of anti-Christian political organizations. That violates the apolitical stance appropriate for the military.”
But Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Fox News they did not provide the military with any list about religious extremism.
Crews said he is extremely disappointed in the military’s handling of the incident and said they need to fix the “gross distortions presented in the briefing.
“Those soldiers who were presented this material – they need to have a new briefing with corrected materials,” Crews said. “They need to undo the damage that was done.”
He also wants the military to consult with chaplains about matters involving religion.
“All religious issues of this sort in the U.S. military should be channeled first through the Chiefs of Chaplains offices for review,” he said. “Do they really want to classify evangelicals and the Catholic Church as extremist groups?”
Air France fined for forcing non-Jewish passenger off flight
They were just trying to be realistic. Israel would not have allowed a pro-Palestinian activist to land -- and made the airline take her back on board to return to France
A French court on Thursday ordered Air France to pay a 10,000 euro ($A12,400) fine for having ordered a pro-Palestinian activist off a flight to Tel Aviv because she was not Jewish.
The court also ordered the French flagship carrier to pay 3000 euros in damages to the passenger and her legal fees.
Horia Ankour, a nursing student, had attempted to fly to Israel from France last April to take part in the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign, which saw hundreds of activists seek access to Israel in a bid to travel to the Palestinian territories.
Europe's main airlines faced a wave of passenger fury during the campaign after cancelling some 300 tickets following heavy Israeli pressure.
Ankour was taken off the plane in the southeastern city of Nice after an Air France employee asked whether she had an Israeli passport and then, when she replied "no", whether she was Jewish.
When the 30-year-old answered "no" again she was escorted from the flight.
French prosecutors had backed her in the case, saying it was a clear case of discrimination.
Air France had said her name was on a list of undesirables provided by Israeli authorities and it was certain she would not be allowed into the country.
And now it's a crime in Britain to hate the Sex Pistols
Greater Manchester Police have revised their definition of what constitutes a ‘hate crime’ to include violent incidents involving punk rockers and heavy metal fans.
Not before time, you might think. Round up the lot of them and throw away the key. Or, as my Geordie mate Black Mike always jokes when he spots a Sid Vicious lookalike gobbing his way down the High Street: ‘Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it.’
But that isn’t what the bold Plod have got in mind. The new rules aren’t designed to protect society from gangs of punks and heavy metal headbangers. They’ve been drawn up to protect them from the rest of society.
GMP is becoming the first force to extend ‘hate crime’ status to those with ‘alternative sub-culture identity’. In future, these groups will be granted the same special treatment as racial, religious, gender identity, disabled and sexual minorities.
The police are also pressing for a change in the law which would mean anyone accused of violence or abuse towards one of these ‘vulnerable minorities’ would receive a stiffer sentence.
Which in the case of Black Mike could mean five years in The Scrubs if his trademark ‘Gi’ us a stick and I’ll kill it’ crack is ever overhead by a passing off-duty copper or vigilant member of the public.
The absurd GMP Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: ‘The launch of this new strand of recordable hate crime is a major breakthrough. ‘We must recognise the impact that alternative sub-culture hate crime has on its victims and the wider community, we can offer better support and risk assess the potential for repeat victimisation.’
Manchester cops are to be given special sensitivity training in handling complaints from punks, ‘metallers’, goths and ‘emos’.
I’ve been trying to imagine the training session at GMP headquarters. ‘Now then, listen up. OK, yesterday we learned about goths. This morning we’re going to talk about dealing with emos.’
‘Emus? Has one escaped from Chester Zoo, guv? Isn’t that a job for the RSPCA?’ ‘Not emus, Hollis, emos.’
For the uninitiated, goths look like they’ve just wandered off the set of a Hammer horror movie.
Think Morticia from the Addams Family. Emos look pretty much the same to me, but they’re said to be a lot more sensitive. Emotional, geddit?
I’m assuming most people can spot a punk a mile off. The heavy metal brigade dress like Lemmy from Motorhead; long hair, dirty jeans, scruffy T-shirts and leather jackets.
If you’ve ever been to a heavy metal concert, the audience won’t have struck you as all that ‘vulnerable’. Upset one of them and you’ll probably end up with a motorcycle chain wrapped round your head. And that’s just the women.
According to the latest figures available, in January there were 25,411 crimes reported in Greater Manchester, including 2,500 burglaries, 10,800 incidents of anti-social behaviour and another 2,500 involving violence.
I wonder how many victims of violent crimes were drawn from the goth, punk, heavy metal or emo communities? Precisely. So why this sudden emphasis on members of ‘alternative identity sub-cultures’?
All this was sparked by the tragic death of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was attacked along with her boyfriend in a park in Bacup, Lancs, by a mob who took exception to her goth clothing and stark make-up.
That was back in 2007. Since then, her courageous mother has been campaigning tirelessly for such senseless attacks on people with ‘alternative lifestyles’ to be treated as ‘hate crime’.
It is perfectly understandable that a grieving mum would want her precious daughter’s memory kept alive. But there is always a danger in changing the law on the basis of a single case, however horrifying.
This is not to belittle the sad loss of Sophie Lancaster — or the sheer barbarity of the attack on her — but the laws to prosecute her killers were already on the statute book.
Are we now saying that attacks on punk rockers, goths and emos are more heinous than, say, a violent mugging of someone who doesn’t belong to a ‘vulnerable minority’. Is one life worth less than another?
Violent attacks on anyone because of their skin colour, religion or sexual proclivity are repellent.
Those responsible deserve exemplary punishments. The motivation behind the crime is something a court can take into account when passing sentence.
But once you start giving preferential treatment to people on the basis of their dress sense or musical tastes, how many other ‘alternative sub-culture identities’ will this be extended to include — mods, teddy boys, New Romantics, skinheads? That’s the problem when you single out any individual group under the law. There’s no limit.
To be honest, I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea of a ‘hate crime’ statute. How do you decide what is a ‘hate crime’ and what isn’t? More to the point, who decides what is a ‘hate crime’?
Increasingly, the definition is being expanded to include ‘hate speech’, which the Left pretend covers any criticism — however legitimate and justified — of the behaviour of one of their favoured client groups.
The truth is that most ‘hate speech’ comes from the Left these days, as they seek to demonise, prosecute or ruin professionally anyone who challenges their intolerant orthodoxies.
You would expect this new initiative to find favour with the former Met Police chief Ian Blair, who worshipped at the altar of ‘diversity’ and embraced every passing Left-wing political fashion.
Yet, speaking on London’s LBC Radio yesterday, he said trying to equate crimes against punk rockers and heavy metal fans with hatred directed at genuine minority groups was a bridge too far.
And when even Ian Blair says it’s bonkers, trust me. It’s bonkers.
The Great British Welfare Myth: The chattering classes are peddling a poisonous myth - that the poor cannot survive without the soul- deadening embrace of welfarism
It was the week the battle over benefits exploded into life as liberals howled about Tory cuts. But here a leading Left-wing thinker says the chattering classes are peddling a poisonous myth – that the poor cannot survive without the soul- deadening embrace of welfarism.
The thing about receiving incapacity benefit is that you really start believing you’re incapable. The Government tells you you’re incapable, and it sinks in: I’m useless, I can’t work, I must be looked after.’
So says an old friend of mine who lives in the most deprived ward in Barnet, North London, where we both grew up. After suffering anxiety attacks, he’s been ‘on the sick’ — that is, receiving some form of sickness benefit — for nearly five years. It is, he assures me, an unpleasant existence.
‘You get sucked into a life of uselessness. The Government gives you enough money to live on, but you don’t live. You do the same thing day in, day out. See the same people, watch the same TV, drift off to sleep in mid-afternoon.’
The welfare system subjugates the poor, ensnaring them in a trap of dependency, and crushing their horizons
The welfare system subjugates the poor, ensnaring them in a trap of dependency, and crushing their horizons
He says he’s pleased Iain Duncan Smith is shaking up benefits paid to ‘the incapable’, alongside other forms of welfare. More than two million Brits receive sickness-related benefits, and my friend reckons many of them must be like him: not really sick, but simply treated as sick by a welfare system with more money than sense.
He agrees with Grant Shapps, chairman of the Conservative Party, who says of the army of sickness claimants: ‘It is not that these people were trying to play the system, so much as these people were forced into a system that played them.’
This is the side to the welfare debate we rarely hear about, at least not from Left-wing politicians and commentators: how the welfare system subjugates the poor, ensnaring them in a trap of dependency, and crushing their horizons.
Over the past week, as IDS’s welfare reforms have kicked in, we’ve heard quite the opposite from middle-class liberals who have been tearing their hair out over the fact that the poor aren’t rising up against them.
They’re bamboozled as to why the down-at-heel haven’t peeled their eyes away from the Jeremy Kyle Show, got off their subsidised sofas and marched to Whitehall to demand: ‘Leave our welfare payments alone.’
Where well-off, Left-leaning do-gooders in Britain’s leafier suburbs are weeping into their macchiato coffees over the Tories’ trims to welfare spending, the poor seem unmoved. What is wrong with these ungrateful urchins, plummy-voiced radicals wonder?
What the posh warriors for welfarism don’t understand is that the poor do not share their enthusiasm for the welfare state, for one very simple reason: like my friend, they know what the welfare state is like, and what a corrupting influence it can have on individual ambition and community life.
They have seen with their own eyes what the intrusion of welfarism into every nook and cranny of poor people’s lives can do.
They know it is not a liberating force, but a soul-deadening one, which doesn’t improve less well-off communities but rather turns them into ghost towns, maintained by faraway faceless bureaucrats rather than by the community’s own members.
The chattering classes now refer to Monday, April 1, when the Government’s benefit reforms were enacted, as Black Monday. They call IDS a ‘Tory toff’ who is launching an ‘ideological war’ against the poor. Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee has said that the poor will be hit by an ‘avalanche of cuts’ which will propel them into ‘beggary’.
In this lip-smackingly Dickensian view of what will become of Britain, we might soon expect to see women in shawls selling soap on London Bridge and children in torn trousers going back up chimneys.
IDS might only be putting a cap on the annual increase in benefits people can receive, slightly reducing some people’s housing benefit, and rethinking Disability Living Allowance, yet his increasingly shrill critics paint a picture of him turfing the downtrodden out of their homes and into a gutter-based life of Oliver Twist-style precariousness.
When the pro-welfare lobby isn’t wildly exaggerating the severity of IDS’s chopping, it is demonising those who dare to raise questions about the impact welfarism has had on poor communities.
So anyone who suggests that Mick Philpott’s decadent, deeply unproductive lifestyle in Derby may have been a product of welfarism, of the thoughtless casting of the welfarist net across entire poor communities, is shot down in flames.
Some commentators, and now the Chancellor George Osborne, have said that the Philpott case raises questions about the way the state has sustained, ad infinitum, those who don’t work or contribute to society.
But they’re mercilessly attacked by pro-welfare activists, who treat any attempt to critique welfarism as tantamount to committing a hate crime against the poor and ‘vulnerable’.
Yet no matter how much these observers ramp up the rage, still they fail to inspire those who are actually on benefits to join them in their battle.
In fact, far from wanting to fight in defence of welfarism, less well-off people seem positively suspicious of the welfare state, and this drives middle-class campaigners crazy.
John Harris, a columnist for the Guardian, this week expressed his dismay that anti-welfare ‘noise’ always gets ‘louder as you head into the most disadvantaged parts of society’.
Indeed, earlier this year a study by the Left-leaning Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust found that poor families, including those affected by welfare cuts, take ‘the harshest anti-welfare line’.
The study’s lead researcher was thrown by this. "Logically, I’d expect those at the sharp end of things to be pro-welfare,’ she said. ‘But if anything, many had internalised a Thatcherite every-man-for-himself mentality.’"
Other studies make for interesting reading, too. A British Social Attitudes Survey in 2003 found that 82 per cent of people on benefits agreed that ‘the Government should be the main provider of support to the unemployed’, but by 2011 that number had fallen to 62 per cent.
The proportion of working-class people in work who agree with that statement has fallen from 81 per cent to 67 per cent in the same period.
In 2003, 40 per cent of benefits recipients agreed that ‘unemployment benefits are too high and discourage work’; in 2011, 59 per cent agreed. So a majority of actual benefits recipients now think the welfare state is too generous and fosters worklessness.
Surely those well-off welfare cheerleaders, when shown these figures, would accept that perhaps they don’t know what they’re talking about. But no, they have simply come up with a theory for why the poor are anti-welfare: because they’re stupid.
The Trades Union Congress says the little people have been ‘brainwashed by Tory welfare myths’.
They claim the masses have been duped by Right-wing politicians and newspapers that spread myths about ‘welfare scroungers’. Consequently, ordinary people are apparently consumed by ‘prejudice and ignorance’ about welfarism.
One commentator says the problem is that not enough people read the Guardian. In a column for that paper on why the less well-off aren’t fans of the welfare state, she said: ‘Are the public stupid, or simply people who don’t read the Guardian? Well, yes ..."
This is a spectacularly patronising view. The idea that the only reason the poor are critical of welfarism is because they’ve been ‘brainwashed’ suggests a view of those people as utterly gullible.
In truth, there’s a far simpler explanation. Most of those who have experienced a life reliant on benefits have come to understand the detrimental impact it has had on their lives. The cult of welfarism also fosters divisions in less well-off communities.
Those who work, who leave the house at 7am to earn a wage for themselves and their families, start to feel antagonistic towards those who don’t work, whose curtains remain firmly closed well into the late morning.
Three of my brothers work in the building trade, and the one political issue that riles them is what one of them calls ‘subsidised laziness’.
This isn’t because they hate the poor, or think everyone on the dole could magically get a job tomorrow morning if they got their fingers out.
Nor is it because they’ve been brainwashed by anti-welfare tabloid newspapers, as liberal campaigners would have us believe.
Rather it’s because they recognise that the exponential expansion of the welfare net, the transformation of welfare-reliance into a permanent state of existence for many of the poor, makes worklessness into a way of life rather than a temporary predicament.
It actively encourages people to give up, to stay home, to be ‘kept men’ rather than working men. And naturally, working men don’t like that.
Indeed, there’s a long-standing tradition of poor communities expressing profound hostility to welfarist assistance, even when they have needed it.
In the Thirties, when early forms of state welfare were introduced, many of the unemployed came to resent their ‘new status as citizen beneficiaries of state welfare’, as one academic study put it. They found claiming state welfare humiliating.
In 1945 — the year the modern welfare state was born — a former cabinet-maker from the East End of London published a book about his life, titled I Was One Of The Unemployed. He described how, in Thirties and Forties Britain, he and many others who found themselves out of work felt an ‘innate morbid sensitivity’ towards ‘having to depend upon state welfare’.
The poor experienced a ‘sense of wounded pride at being driven by hunger to ask for cash benefits’, he said.
Even the most radical old Leftists, unlike today’s uncritical, poor-pitying Leftists, issued cutting criticisms of the welfarist ideology.
In 1850, Karl Marx described very early forms of top-down ‘welfare measures’ as a ‘disguised form of alms’ that were designed to make people’s less-than-ambitious lives seem ‘tolerable’.
That is, welfare was a way of placating the poor, lowering their horizons and acclimatising them to a life of mere survival.
As Pat Thane, a professor of history at King’s College, London, pointed out in a 1999 essay on early forms of state welfare, the less well-off were suspicious of welfarism that seemed ‘to imply that poor people needed the guidance of their “betters”
The end result of this propping-up of communities is the kind of world Mick Philpott lived in
Working-class mothers hated the way that signing up for welfare meant having to throw one’s home and life open to inspection by snooty officials, community health workers and even family budget advisers.
They didn’t want ‘middle-class strangers’, as they called welfare providers, ‘questioning them about their children’. They felt such intrusions ‘broke a cultural taboo’.
And the use of welfare as a way of allowing society’s ‘betters’ to govern the lives of the poor continues now. Indeed, today’s welfare state is even more annoyingly nannyish than it was 80 years ago.
As the writer Ferdinand Mount says, the post-war welfare state is like a form of ‘domestic imperialism’, through which the state treats the poor as ‘natives’ who must be fed and kept on the moral straight-and-narrow by their superiors.
Mount describes modern welfarism as ‘benign managerialism’, which ‘pacifies’ the lower orders.
Working-class communities feel this patronising welfarist control very acutely. They recognise that signing up for a lifetime of state charity means sacrificing your pride and your independence; it means being unproductive and also unfree.
The cultivation of such dependency on the state has a devastating impact on community life in poor parts of Britain. Because if an individual’s or family’s every financial and therapeutic need is being met by the state, then what need is there for those people to turn to their own neighbours for help or advice?
Welfarism doesn’t only destroy individual pride and independence — it also eats away at social solidarity, the glue of local life, by encouraging people to become more reliant on the state than on their friends and neighbours.
The end result of this propping-up of communities is the kind of world Mick Philpott lived in, where a sense of entitlement to state cash overpowers any feeling of personal moral responsibility for improving one’s life, or any sense of duty to the community.
So to my mind, there’s no mystery as to why the poor are refusing to join the fight to preserve the massive and unwieldy welfare state: it’s because they live in the very areas where welfarism has wreaked its worst horrors.
It is the bleeding heart campaigners fighting to defend welfarism who are spreading a poisonous myth: that the less well-off could never survive, far less thrive, without financial assistance,
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, 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.