Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Kenya terror attack: disgracefully, the BBC still won't call these murderers 'terrorists'
Here's how the BBC describes the terrorists who have slaughtered at last 69 people in the Westgate mall in Nairobi:
Now, we don't expect the Beeb to describe the al-Shabab killers as "animals" in a news report. That was the word used, perfectly appropriately, by Louis Bowa, who is waiting for the bodies of his wife and eight-year-old daughter to be recovered from the shopping mall. It's a metaphor and would look strange in a piece of reporting. The right word is "terrorists". For example:
"British businessman condemns terrorists who murdered his daughter" … which is a Telegraph headline. And, from the body of one of our reports: "As the terrorists roamed the mall with guns and grenades…"
Let's get this straight. There is nothing wrong with using the term "militants" to describe the al-Shabab gunmen. But they are terrorists, by any criterion, and that word should also be used.
The Beeb won't do it, however. It virtually bans the word from reporting, lest it be used "inappropriately". Many BBC journalists, who are overwhelmingly on the Left, support the causes for which armed gunmen fight in, say, Palestine. Therefore there's no question of describing Hamas as a terrorist organisation. This I can just about understand, given that Hamas is also a powerful political party, though I don't agree with the policy.
But in what universe are Islamists who spray women and children with bullets in a shopping centre not terrorists? The BBC may say: we have a rule and we have to apply it universally. This is nonsense. That's what editors are for.
But hang on. On re-reading a BBC report, I see that it does use the T-word: "Kenyan officials said earlier that three "terrorists" had been killed, and that 10 people had been arrested."
Those inverted commas are more contemptible than not using the word at all. And remember: Britons pay for this.
In Name Only
By Lawson Bader
Traipsing through Dulles Airport the other day, my eyes were drawn to a series of wall poster advertisements. Each one featured a supposed “foreign aid success story”—a smiling man or woman under a very familiar phrase: “Fiscal Hawk,” “Beltway Outsider,” “Job Creator.” The fourth one, “Venture Capitalist,” broke the proverbial camel’s back for me.
What struck me was not that the message was aimed at a Beltway political audience. I have long grown accustomed to bus and street billboards advocating certain weapons systems, federal health care open enrollment or software to improve government services. Created by Oxfam America, the ads at Dulles were clearly promoting the continuation of current U.S. foreign aid policies.
Let’s leave the foreign aid battle for another day. For now, let us focus on the use of phrases and concepts that come straight from the free enterprise playbook—fiscal hawk, job creator, and venture capitalist—clearly appropriated to promote increased government spending and intervention.
Maybe we should be pleased. Maybe there is an argument to be made that the Left’s adoption of market language amounts to an implicit recognition our free market ideas resonate with the public. They resonate, we might add, because they are innate concepts—natural rights and all that.
Oxfam isn’t the only organization to make smart, selective use of free market language to advance a big government agenda. Fuels America, a coalition of agribusiness firms and biofuel advocacy groups, is currently running ads that declare, in big block letters, “There Is a Choice.” The fine print calls for maintaining the federal renewable fuel standard, which mandates the level of renewable fuel blended into transportation fuel and so decidedly diminishes consumer choice. But why let facts get in the way of good marketing?
Legislation is often named in ways that mislead the public. Take the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes from out-of-state businesses. Think the Founders would have something to say about “taxation without representation” being passed off as “marketplace fairness?” Then there’s the “Dairy Freedom Act,” which provides federal insurance for participating dairy producers. Does freedom still mean what I think it means?
The marketing of cap-and-trade proposals provides a great example of Orwellian wordsmithing. Proponents call the scheme a “market-based” approach to reducing emissions, but cap-and-trade is actually a cap-and-tax system. Dressing up the proposal in the language of “trade” and “economic incentives” may fool some, but it doesn’t make it any less of a tax.
Then there’s Obamacare. “Health Insurances Exchange” has a nice market-friendly ring to it. “Exchange” sounds less like socialized medicine than a big flea market! But that doesn’t change what it is. The coverage mandates and fines … er, taxes … for non-participation are still there.
Politicians’ populist, superficial use of market rhetoric is a bittersweet thing. On one hand, it reaffirms the American people value capitalism, choice and smart spending. On the other, it disguises statist policies as market solutions.
To make things worse, politicians and pundits on the Right not only have allowed this casual dilution of market language, they’ve actively participated in it. Think about how often Republican lawmakers casually drop free enterprise buzzwords when shilling for restrictive copyright legislation, burdensome immigration rules, wasteful agriculture subsidies (or almost any subsidy, for that matter), or the latest infrastructure boondoggle.
Washington, D.C., is full of smart people who know how to bend and stretch the meanings of words until they have little relation to their original definitions. It’s a city of politicians and public relations wizards, where misleading is elevated to an art. But that’s no excuse to fold our arms and simply watch the merry-go-round, convinced we can’t stop it.
Language matters in the war of ideas. If the Left and Right are going to have real debates about the issues that matter—issues such as energy, finance, and immigration—we should stop using the same words to mean different things. We should stop conflating “capitalism” with “cronyism.” We should acknowledge closing factories in the name of clean energy does not “create jobs.” We also should acknowledge that easing immigration restrictions will not “destroy jobs.”
Vigilance is required to sift the rhetorical wheat from the chaff. Certainly, not every free market approach is equal, but we need to expose those that were never free market to begin with—except in name.
Sen. Vitter: Military Suppressed Religious Rights In 42 ‘Documented Cases’
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) urged Deborah Lee James, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, to look into specific cases in which the military allegedly suppressed service members’ religious rights before she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. "We're going to give you about 42 specific examples as a followup," Vitter told her.
“A lot of us are very concerned about what in our opinion is political correctness run amok on steroids quashing legitimate exercise and expression of religion in the military, things like… telling somebody they can’t have a Bible on their desk - that’s a documented case. Telling a Christian chaplain he can’t end a prayer in Jesus’ name – that’s a documented case,” Vitter told James at her nomination hearing Thursday.
“Do you think these sort of issues are a problem and if so, what would you do about it?” the Louisiana Republican asked.
“I have actually read the policy of the Department of Defense and I know what that policy says,” James replied. "It says that the open ability to worship, there shall be freedom of all religions so long as within good order and discipline. And I know that the chaplains, the whole point that they put forth, is that there shall be dignity and respect for everyone, of course.”
Noting that she was not familiar with the particular cases Vitter referred to, James added, “Of course, it’s a question of if you have a policy, the policy seems good to me, but then you have some people who don’t follow the policy, so these individual cases we’ll have to look into.”
Vitter persisted. “Do you think those actions should be barred in the military?”
“So having a Bible on your desk, that doesn’t seem like it should be barred to me, no,” James said.
“And a Christian chaplain ending a prayer in Christ’s name?” he asked.
“It does not seem bad to me, and I’ll have to, if you’ll allow me to consult with the chaplaincy corps to find out some reason I’m not thinking about, but no, it certainly does not trouble me,” James replied.
“Religious freedom is one of the core principles that make our nation great,” Vitter said later in a press release. “Unfortunately there are far too many cases of the military restricting the men and women who serve our country from expressing their faith. That’s just not right, and I want to make sure the Air Force Secretary nominee does everything she can to fix it.”
Vitter referred to a recent report by the Family Research Council (FRC) criticizing the military's “opposition to conservative Christian beliefs, reportedly including banning Bibles, labeling evangelicals and Catholics extremists, and trying to force a soldier to endorse gay marriage.” (See A Clear and Present Danger.pdf)
However, committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich) said during Thursday’s hearing that “in terms of the reference to prayer, depending on where a prayer is made, if it’s made to a general audience, it could be a different responsibility for a chaplain than if it’s made to an audience of his own religion.
“This is a very sensitive area, because we want to protect freedom of religion for chaplains and for our troops, but we also want to protect the freedom of religion for people who are listening to chaplains,” Levin continued. “And so it’s a very serious subject which has been raised and it’s deserving of all of our attention.”
Levin referred to an alleged incident reported by Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, who told CNSNews.com in July that a 23-year veteran Air Force officer was told by his superior, “You cannot put your Bible on your desk because it may offend someone.”
Levin also asked James to look into the incident “and see what action was taken to correct it, because we’ve had difficulty confirming it.”
James agreed to report her findings to the full committee, adding that “the idea of dignity and respect for all religions, to include those who have no religion at all – it’s all equally important.”
Back to the future with Marxist Miliband: If Britain falls for Ed's socialist farce, it really will be a tragedy
By Richard Littlejohn
So now we know Ed Miliband’s master plan. He wants to bring back socialism. No great surprise there, then.
Miliband’s late father was one of Britain’s most prominent Marxist ‘intellectuals’. In other words, he was spectacularly wrong on every single major issue.
My old man’s a Marxist,
He wears a Marxist’s hat,
He wears old corduroy trousers,
And he lives in a £2 million flat.
(In Primrose Hill).
Pity Ralph Miliband isn’t still alive. I’d have loved to hear his views on Labour’s proposed ‘mansion tax’. But clearly some of his discredited ideas have rubbed off on his youngest son.
Whatever’s wrong with modern Britain, the solution isn’t socialism. We tried that and look where it got us.
I’m not talking about the blood-soaked socialism which led to gulags and genocide in Eastern Europe and China. Or the sociopathic socialism which has turned North Korea into a Mad Hatter’s prison camp.
Let’s consider the particularly British brand of socialism, which still has plenty of devoted disciples in the Labour Party, including its weird leader.
The idea that the State could and would provide has been tested to destruction. Rampant socialism turned post-war Britain into a bankrupt basket case.
Nationalisation robbed industry of the incentive to modernise. For decades, Britain turned its back on the free market economics which once made us the richest nation on earth.
Unions exercised a stranglehold on the means of production and distribution. In the name of the ‘workers’, stroppy shop stewards called strikes at the drop of a hat.
Most of the union leaders on parade in Brighton this week salivate at the prospect of turning the clock back to that era of debilitating, daily disruption.
When I was covering British Leyland in the 1970s, there was a grand total of 27 separate strikes across the company on a single day. When the toolmakers went back to work, the delivery drivers walked out. At Longbridge, workers on the night-shift were literally sleeping on the job.
Billions of pounds of public money was poured into subsiding products no one wanted to buy.
I’ve written before about the taxpayer-funded excesses at British Steel. On the day the corporation’s chairman, Mr Pastry-lookalike Sir Charles Villiers, announced a record £1 billion loss, he threw open the doors to the executive dining room and invited Fleet Street’s finest to join him in a sumptuous feast from an all-you-can-eat buffet, groaning with suckling pigs, whole salmon, roast sirloins of beef and vintage claret.
Still, what’s a couple of grand on a jolly-up when the taxpayers are already lumbered with a billion-pound tab?
And what was the upshot of all this largesse at the public’s expense? British Steel and British Leyland both went bust because they couldn’t withstand the chill winds of foreign competition.
Back then, it took six months to get the Post Office to install a telephone in your home. Try telling that to a generation who upgrade their mobiles every five minutes.
If you wanted a cooker, you could buy one only from the nationalised electricity or gas boards and then wait obediently until they could be bothered to hook it up.
Council tenants couldn’t even paint their front doors without permission in triplicate from a gauleiter at the local authority.
Had Labour won the 1979 election, inefficient, loss-making coal mines would still be open and Arthur Scargill would be sitting in the House of Lords. At least we might have been spared all those hideous wind farms cluttering up the countryside.
Commuters moan about the private rail companies, but if the railways had remained nationalised they’d still be running filthy, dilapidated rolling stock and Bob Crow’s RMT union would be on strike most of the time.
Old Labour presided over a siege economy. At one stage, you weren’t allowed take more than £50 out of the country when you went on holiday. The top rate of tax was 97 per cent, the standard rate 35 per cent. Someone had to pay for all this glorious socialism.
Mrs Thatcher changed all that. The 1997 New Labour government was forced to accept her settlement. But the Left resented Thatcher with a toxic hatred, which came bubbling to the surface when she died.
The hardline socialists didn’t disappear, however. They simply mutated into local government and the institutions.
Those organisations still under the yoke of socialist bureaucracies — such as the NHS and most Town Halls — are notorious for centralised control, waste and almost total lack of accountability.
Whereas once the socialists wanted out of Europe altogether, they now embrace the EU and all its works as a device for imposing their will on an unwilling public. The EU itself is a socialist construct, top-down and anti-democratic.
After the nationalised industries went belly-up, the socialists set about nationalising every aspect of our daily lives, through quangos such as the Health And Safety and Equality Commissions and the ‘human rights’ racket.
The entire ‘diversity’ industry is a socialist front aimed not at eradicating discrimination, but persecuting individuals and criminalising Christianity, which has traditionally been socialism’s sworn enemy.
In the name of ‘equality’, Labour smashed the grammar schools, hobbling social mobility and harming the very people it claimed it was trying to help.
Gordon Brown’s creation of a vast, supplicant state was the imposition of socialism by any other name. He paid for it by letting the banks run riot rather than raising income tax. But the end result was bankruptcy, as it always is under Labour.
Ed Miliband hasn’t yet spelled out his vision of our socialist future, but the policies we know about give us a reasonable idea.
Labour’s answer is a re-run of the tax-and-spend disaster movie which got us into this mess in the first place.
The modern face of socialism manifests itself in the shape of the same old ‘bash the rich’ politics of resentment, a war on wealth creation and a shopping list of generous ‘giveaways’ funded by reckless borrowing and higher taxes.
Ed Miliband’s father could have reminded him of his beloved Karl Marx’s observation that history always repeats itself, ‘first as tragedy, second as farce’. If Britain falls for Miliband’s socialist farce, it really will be a tragedy.
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. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.