Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Zagmuk conquers all!
L. Neil Smith
Conservatives have long whimpered about corporate and goverment policies forbidding employees who make contact with the public to wish said members "Merry Christmas!" at the appropriate time of the year, out of a moronic and purely irrational fear of offending members of the public who don't happen to be Christian, but are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, Rastafarian, Ba'hai, Cthuluites, Wiccans, or worshippers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The politically correct benediction, these employees are instructed, is "Happy Holidays".
As a lifelong atheist, I never take "Merry Christmas" as anything but a cheerful and sincere desire to share the spirit of the happiest time of the year. I enjoy Christmas as the ultimate capitalist celebration. It's a multiple-usage occasion and has been so since the dawn of history. I wish them "Merry Christmas" right back, and I mean it.
Unless I wish them a "Happy Zagmuk", sharing the oldest midwinter festival in our culture I can find any trace of. It's Babylonian, and celebrates the victory of the god-king Marduk over the forces of Chaos.
But as anybody with the merest understanding of history and human nature could have predicted, if you give the Political Correctness Zombies (Marduk needs to get back to work again) an Angstrom unit, they'll demand a parsec. It now appears that for the past couple of years, as soon as the Merry Christmases and Happy Holidayses start getting slung around, a professor (not of Liberal Arts, so he should know better) at a nearby university (to remain unnamed) sends out what he hopes are intimidating e-mails, scolding careless well-wishers, and asserting that these are not holidays ("holy days") to everyone, and that the only politically acceptable greeting is "Happy Midwinter Break".
He signs this exercise in stupidity "A Jewish Faculty Member".
Two responses come immediately to mind, both of them derived from good, basic Anglo-Saxon, which is not originally a Christian language. As soon as the almost overwhelming temptation to use them has been successfully resisted, there are some other matters for profound consideration.
First, what we are seeing here, in both the "Happy Holidays" and "Happy Winter Break" instances, is the yawning gulf of difference between pluralism, on the one hand, and multi-culturalism on the other.
The former accepts and allows everything. Nothing is compulsory and nothing (barring the initiation of physical force) is forbidden. Pluralism is frank and open, and it has standards. It doesn't tolerate priests as child molestors or "honor killings" of errant children. We all get to laugh, and eat each other's food, enjoy each other's music, and dance each other's dances. It's the essential American way. As a nation, we don't always manage to measure up to that standard, but we try.
Pluralism is a good thing. A very good thing.
The latter crouches in xenophobic terror, rejecting everything that might indicate that people are different from one another. or have different opinions. Multi-culturalism allows nothing to be said or done, but locks the world in eternal frozen conflict. It's a sort of pathological isolation in a crowd that is humiliated by its own humanity.
Multi-culturism is a bad thing, trying to disguise itself as pluralism.
My old friend, the late Aaron Zelman, the founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, used to observe that some individuals value their victimization so highly, they'll sacrifice anything -- fortune, family, anything -- in order to hold onto it. Look at the way black people often ignore the fact that none of them were ever slaves themselves, and no one living today was ever a slave owner, in order to establish a claim to what they see as infinite entitlement.
My own ancestors were slaughtered in the thousands by their evil conquerors (who posed to the world as benefactors and bringers of civilization), forced at swordpoint and gunpoint to grow, harvest, and ship crops out of the country in record amounts while millions of them starved to death, and were finally captured and sold into slavery overseas.
My ancestors are Irish.
To my knowledge, none represent themselves as social arbiters, prescribing to other folks the right thing to say or the way to say it.
Finally, there is this: if you were to fly all the way to Australia on vacation, would you be grateful or disappointed if all the Australians you met said "Hello" to you, rather than a hearty "G'dai"?
My then-wife (not Cathy, born and raised in Cheyenne) was deeply embarrassed that I accompanied her to London in 1976 wearing cowboy boots, jeans, and brightly-colored Western shirts. She learned better. Her friends all seemed to love the way I dressed and for the first -- and last -- time inb my life, I was a sartorial hit. Most people from around the world expect us to be different. That's why they came to see us. Part of that difference is Christmas, which many (especially the Japanese, and, it now appears, the Chinese) have adopted as their own.
Those from foreign parts who have come here to live, and benefit from what freedom has made possible, should learn to practice pluralism, rather than multi-culturalism. As for that professor, an Easterner who'd dearly love to think of himself as a real live cowboy, he should know better by now than to tell Westerners what to say and do.
They're likely to respond by telling him, "Merry Christmas!" Or "Happy Zagmuk!"
British Department store chain faces furious backlash from customers over Muslim policy
Marks & Spencer's official Facebook page is deluged with messages from customers furious at bosses' decision to let Muslim staff refuse to serve pork and alcohol to customers
Marks & Spencer is facing a boycott from hundreds of customers furious at the store’s decision to allow Muslim staff to refuse to serve customers buying alcohol or pork products.
The policy was revealed after customers trying to buy pork or alcohol from a Muslim shop assistant in central London were told they would have to use another till because of the cashier's religion.
The chain has admitted, however, that it has breached its own internal policy - by forcing its staff to choose between their beliefs and their responsibilties to the supermarket.
A spokesperson for M&S said that it works closely with employees with specific beliefs that restrict what food or drink they can handle, but on this occasion it had to “regret” that it had not followed its own guidelines.
“Where we have an employee whose religious beliefs restrict food or drink they can handle, we work closely with our member of staff to place them in suitable role, such as in our clothing department or bakery in foods. “We regret that in the case highlighted today we were not following our own internal policy.”
The official M&S Facebook page was today deluged with vitriolic messages from previously loyal customers.
Meanwhile a Facebook campaign group calling on people to boycott the store attracted hundreds of ‘likes’ within just a couple of hours of being set up this afternoon.
Writing on the group's Facebook page, called Boycott Marks and Spencer, customer Matt Syson accused M&S of creating “division and hatred within our communities”.
He wrote: “M&S if you read this you have gone over the top. “If you have Christian workers who wish to refuse the sale of ladies garments to male homosexuals or men's trousers to lesbians, I do hope you will equally stand by those workers’ religious or personal beliefs…
“Or perhaps if an atheist worker notices a customer purchasing hot cross buns during Easter and wishes to refuse sale to that particular customer based on beliefs that conflict with their own, I do hope you will not punish such workers for their actions surrounding refusal of sale…
“If not then I would like you to know that my family and I shall no longer purchase any goods from your company due to the implementation of this 'one rule system' that creates further division and hatred within our communities.
“It's the customers who pay your wage and profits, it's the customers who wield the power and dictate success or failure within a company. Something you will soon realise when word spreads.”
And another customer Angela Phillips posted: “If M&S go ahead with this they are going to lose so many loyal customers… if they do not want to serve people with pork or alcohol they shouldn’t work in the food hall… simple!”
Meanwhile, Heather Playdon posted on M&S's official Facebook page: “I shan't be shopping in M&S anymore. The quintessentially British retailer bows down to Muslim beliefs. And in turn alienates the majority of Christian and non-religious customers. Outrageous.”
Another customer using the name Mike Hubby Coneman Pearce posted: “PC gone mad! WHAT?! I don’t get it you walk into a shop, you want some bacon, you get served by someone who is a vegetarian do they then get the right to refuse to sell you meat? NO”
And Tony Frost posted: “I hope the halfwits behind this insulting idea are ashamed. I will never shop in your stores again & will be spreading the word in the hope you lose maximum customers.”
In an earlier statement an M&S spokesman said: “We recognise that some of our employees practise religions that restrict the food or drink they can handle, or that mean they cannot work at certain times.
“M&S promotes an environment free from discrimination and so, where specific requests are made, we will always make reasonable adjustments to accommodate them, whilst ensuring high levels of customer service.”
The spokesman said the policy applied throughout its 700-plus stores and to other religions as well. For example, Christians who did not want to work on Sundays and religious Jews who chose not to work on Saturdays would also be excused
More than 100 sex offenders - including one who raped a girl under 13 - use human rights ruling to get names taken off British register
More than 100 of the country's most dangerous sex attackers - including paedophiles and violent rapists - have had their names secretly removed from the Sex Offenders' Register, it has been revealed.
The criminals have used a human rights ruling to remove themselves from the list, arguing that they no longer pose a threat to the public.
The 108 convicts who have successfully used the argument, include one offender convicted of rape of a female under 13, another of burglary with intent to rape and one sentenced for buggery.
One police force removed a criminal convicted on seven counts of indecent assault on a boy under 16 from the register.
The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information act, and asked for details of the number of convicted sex offenders who had their names removed from the register since the law was passed in September last year.
Nearly half of those who applied were successful, at rate of nearly four a week.
Those whose names have been removed from the list were once placed on it for life, but now no longer now no longer need to tell the police where they are living, or if they move near a school or young family.
It comes following a human rights ruling last year, which decided offenders who have been monitored by officers for 15 years are now free to apply to have their details taken off the register.
Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said: 'It's downright dangerous that so many sex offenders are effectively able to remove themselves from the Register.
Mr Saunders, who was abused as a child abuse himself, said: 'The victims and survivors of sexual abuse suffer a life sentence at the hands of these people, coping with the miserable consequences.
'It seems inordinately unfair that so many could be removed from something which simply keeps them on the police radar. 'I can't think of anyone who would challenge that apart from the perpetrators themselves.
'Everything we know about sex offenders leads us to believe firmly that they will probably always be a threat to children and to others.'
Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said:
'It is recognised that the legislation under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the multi-agency public protection arrangements provide some of the most effective tools in the world to manage registered sex offenders.
'Protecting the public from harm is a fundamental role for the police service but we recognise that this must be balanced with the rights of individuals, as highlighted by the Supreme Court judgement.
'We have worked closely with the Home Office and other key partners to develop a robust review process that ensures a full assessment of the risks posed before an offender is removed from the notification requirements.
'The reality is that the risks posed by some offenders can never be completely eliminated, but we will continue to do all in our power to keep them to a minimum and believe that the proposed review process strikes the right balance between individual rights and public safety.'
Labour Party should not be afraid to 'do God' in order to stop the persecution of Middle East Christians says shadow foreign secretary
The Labour shadow foreign secretary has said his party should 'do God' in order to stop the persecution of Christians and shouldn't be put off by the fear of causing offence.
Douglas Alexander, who is a Church of Scotland follower, has said that a 'misplaced sense of political correctness' is to blame for people feeling 'embarrassed' to talk about God.
His calls follow a speech by Prince Charles this week in which the heir to the throne warned that Christianity was beginning to disappear from its birthplace because members and places of worship were being targetted.
Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Alexander says: 'Across the world, there will be Christians this week for whom attending a church service this Christmas is not an act of faithful witness, but an act of life-risking bravery. That cannot be right and we need the courage to say so.
'People of all faiths and none should be horrified by this persecution. We cannot, and we must not, stand by on the other side in silence for fear of offence.'
Mr Alexander added that persecution of Christians should be viewed in the same way as anti-Seminism or Islamophobia, and not just opposed by lone voices.
He said he had felt 'very personally' an attack on a Church of Scotland place of worship in September which killed 122 including the mother, nephew, niece, two uncles and other friends of the priest.
Earlier this week Prince Charles said that bridges between the Islamic and Christian communities he had worked to foster were being 'deliberately destroyed'.
Speaking at an event for Middle East Christians in Clarence House, he said: ‘It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are increasingly being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants.
‘Christianity was literally born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ.’
Others have also issued warnings on the issue, including Baroness Warsi who delivered a speech to the House of Lords last month on the 'mass exodus' of Christians from the Middle East, and former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.
Mr Alexander's comments come in stark contrast to the Labour government's stance under Tony Blair, when Alastair Campbell famously said that the party 'doesn't do God'.
Since retiring from politics Mr Blair himself has become a Roman Catholic, and says he was a believer while in office but was too afraid to admit it in case he was viewed as 'a nutter'.
The article by Mr Alexander marks a shift towards religion in politics, with David Cameron being an active member of the Church of England - though he admits his faith can be patchy - and Ed Miliband saying he has a 'huge respect' for people who believe in God, despite being an atheist himself.
Mr Alexander’s words were welcomed by Church leaders. The Rt Rev Lorna Hood, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: 'Too often these situations are ignored by politicians worried at offending someone. Such silence should be offensive to all who cherish the right to live safely in a pluralistic society.'
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 and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.