Sunday, February 16, 2014
Pathetic Canadian media too quick with homophobia label
Harper and the Homophobes. Not an edgy punk band from the early 1980s, but, according to the Globe and Mail's Tu Thanh Ha, the story of Harper's visit to Israel
Stephen Harper and the Homophobes. No, not an edgy punk band from the early 1980s, but, according to the Globe and Mail 's Tu Thanh Ha, the story of the prime minister's visit to Israel.
If, like me, you thought the event was all about supporting the Jewish state and opposing anti-Semitism, you got it terribly wrong. It was actually yet another example of the Conservatives' repugnant hidden agenda and hatred of gays.
Because among the more than 200 people accompanying the prime minister is a Christian minister who dares to hold Christian views about the nature of sexuality. Rev. Shawn Ketcheson from Ottawa's Trinity Bible Church has, " On at least two occasions, recorded on his church's website, he is critical of homosexuality." Good Lord, at least two! Incredible, outrageous.
He is then revealed to have quoted the Bible, on a church website. I mean, where will it end? That 99% of what he says is not about homosexuality at all, and that when he does speak of sexuality he is more critical of heterosexual lust than anything else, is apparently irrelevant. The Globe is incredulous that a man, who believes in a Bible written by Jews and in a Jewish messiah, is visiting a Jewish state lived in by lots of Jews.
But then Ketcheson goes even further, darker, deeper. "Reached in Israel by e-mail," writes the effusive Tu Thanh Ha, "Mr. Ketcheson said he couldn't be available for comment. 'Thanks for your interest in the message. I am presently out of the country and would be pleased to talk with you when I get back at the end of the week. Sorry that I can't be more accommodating at the moment,' he wrote." What a total swine!
Quick, contact NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar. "Homophobia doesn't represent Canada. The prime minister must explain why he chose the people on his delegation." OK, now off to Liberal foreign affairs critic Marc Garneau: "I find it regrettable that his delegation includes someone who is homophobic."
But hold on just one racist, sexist, homophobic moment. On the one hand, Harper is condemned by his leftist critics for being too supportive of Israel, the only country in the entire Middle East that accepts gay people. On the other, he is condemned by his leftist critics for having in his travel party one or two people who, while treating all people equally, believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
More than this, Justin Trudeau and numerous NDP leaders have met with Muslim leaders and spoken to their organizations without taking on their religion's dogma that homosexuality is evil and unacceptable and often regarded as on offence punishable by death. Why so little protest from the Globe and the other usual suspects about this genuine scandal?
This is juvenile, contrived, politically driven drivel and the Globe should be ashamed. But it won't be. Another product of Harper Derangement Syndrome and journalists who know painfully little about the Middle East, religion and freedom of thought and expression.
Black Supreme Court judge says he is treated 'worse' by northern liberals than southern segregationists
He is as renowned for his reticence as his conservatism on America's highest court, remaining respectfully silent for seven years when lawyers presented their arguments before him.
But with his robes off, Clarence Thomas, the only black Supreme Court justice, has now caused controversy by lamenting that modern America is too sensitive about race.
Mr Thomas, 65, who grew up in Georgia during the tumultuous civil rights protests against racial segregation, also said that "northern liberal elites" treated him worse than whites in the segregated South of his childhood, in comments obtained by Yahoo News.
"My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school," he told students at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a Christian college in Florida.
"To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up.
"Now, name a day it doesn't come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn't look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I'd still be in Savannah."
Mr Thomas, who was brought up in poverty, speaking Gullah creole as his first language, developed a strong libertarian philosophy at college after winning a scholarship to Yale.
He was confirmed as the second black justice in the Supreme Court's history only after bruising Senate hearings during which Anita Hill, an African-American academic, accused him of sexual harassment.
His judicial career has been built on his belief that individual action rather than social welfare programmes are needed to overcome adversity and in the last year he has twice penned Supreme Court opinions that have angered many blacks and indeed northern liberals.
The court reined in affirmative-action laws and struck down key provisions of voting-rights legislation passed in the 1960s to ensure access of ethnic minorities to cast ballots.
He also told the students that throughout is career he has experienced more instances of discrimination and poor treatment in the North than the South.
"The worst I have been treated was by northern liberal elites...not by the people of Savannah, Georgia," he said.
He has previously described how long-established law firms took little notice of his Yale law degree, apparently believing that he was the beneficiary of the sort of affirmative action programmes that he opposes.
His comments prompted an inevitable backlash.
"Maybe the reason race came up so rarely was not that the racial situation was better in 1960s Georgia," wrote Jonathan Chait for New York magazine, a prominent commentator and who Mr Thomas would doubtless include in the "northern liberal elite" category.
"Maybe the reason race came up rarely is that the racial situation in 1960s Georgia was extremely terrible. Terrell [a majority black town] had a total of five registered black voters -- possibly because African-Americans were so satisfied with their treatment that they didn't see any reason to vote, or possibly because civil-rights activists in Georgia tended to get assassinated."
And Keli Goff, an African-American political analyst, told The Telegraph: "Nearly all black Americans would disagree with his implication that life was better for them in the 1960s in the South, when they had to attend inferior schools, drink at separate water fountains and travel at the back of the bus.
"My parents grew up in small Southern towns at the same time as Clarence Thomas and their experiences were certainly not of a better life. It is true that no group or party has a monopoly on bias, but he is speaking now from a position of power and privilege that few can imagine."
There is no doubt that racial issues remain at forefront of public debate in America, more than five years after the country elected Barack Obama as its first black president.
Mr Thomas was speaking in the same state where a middle-aged white man is currently on trial for murder after shooting repeatedly into a car containing several black youths playing blaringly loud "thug music".
The racially-charged case, which is being closely followed across the country, has raised inevitable comparisons with the murder trial last year of George Zimmerman, a white-Hispanic neighbourhood watch activist who shot dead an unarmed black teenage.
The acquittal of Mr Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, who he said was acting suspiciously, prompted national protests about racial profiling and a rare emotional intervention on race by Mr Obama.
Israel at a Point of No Return - In the Right Direction
by David P. Goldman
I should like to advance a conjecture which I lack the qualifications to adequately develop: The global Left, and the Israeli Left most of all, perceives that the clock is running out, and has worked itself up into a froth of hysteria against Israel. The world of John Lennon's "Imagine," where there are no countries and no religions, is about to dissipate like last night's marijuana fumes. The demographic time bomb that worries the Left is not the relative increase of Arab vs. Jewish populations between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, speciously cited by John Kerry and a host of other errant utopians: it is the growth of the Jewish population itself, and Israel's transformation into the world's most religious country.
Israel now has a religious majority, as Times of Israel blogger Yoseif Bloch observes:
"According to our Central Bureau of Statistics, 43% of Israeli Jews are secular, 9% are haredi, and the remaining 48% are somewhere between masorti (traditional) and dati (religious): 23% the former, 10% the latter, and 15% smack in the middle. These five groups do not parallel the five groups identified by Pew, e.g. Orthodox is a denomination, while dati is a declaration."
So 57% of Israelis practice a form of Judaism that for the most part Americans would call "Orthodox," in that it recognizes normative Judaism in the rabbinic tradition (the presence of the "progressive" Reform and Conservative movements is almost imperceptible and largely limited to transplanted Americans). Many Israelis who are dati are far from completely observant, but there is a great gulf fixed between a semi-observant Jew who knows what observance is, and a "progressive" who asserts the right to reinvent tradition according to personal taste.
This majority seems to be expanding fast. I spent the second half of December in Jerusalem promoting the Hebrew translation of my book How Civilizations Die and was struck by the increase in commitment to religious observance, including among people who were steadfastly secular. Almost half of Israel's army officers are "national religious" and trained in pre-army academies that teach Judaism, Jewish history, as well as physical training and military subjects. The ultra-Orthodox are going to work rather than studying full time, little by little, but the little adds up to a lot. Naftali Bennett's national-religious party "Jewish Home" has created a new political focus for the national-religious. Outreach organizations like Beit Hillel are bringing once-secular Israelis back to observance. Beit Hillel's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth, was in New York recently lecturing about Israel's religious revival.
Anecdotally, I see this in my own small circle of Israeli acquaintances. A musician friend told me that he attends a Talmud class every Shabbat - he can't stand praying, but he is hungry for Torah. A journalist friend dresses her young boys in the tallit katan, the fringed undergarment of the very observant. It is becoming normal in Jerusalem restaurants to wash hands before bread and to recite the Grace after Meals.
This is a crucial, counterintuitive story: Israel is swimming against the secular current, becoming more observant as the rest of the world becomes more secular. Perhaps the explanation lies in the observation of the Catholic sociologist Mary Eberstadt, who argued in a brilliant 2007 essay that it is our children who bring us to faith. Last year Mary expanded the essay into a book which I had the honor to discuss in Claremont Review of Books. It is a commonplace of demographers' correlation that people of faith have more children: Mary argues that the causality goes both ways, that having children reinforces our faith. Israeli is a standpoint in the modern world with a fertility rate of 3.0 children per woman (the closest second is the U.S. with just 1.9). Excluding the ultra-Orthodox the number is 2.6 children per woman, still outside the range of the rest of the industrial world. Secular Israelis are having three children. Not only does that defuse the much-touted "demographic time bomb." It ultimately changes the character of the country. It validates the hundred-year-old argument of Rabbi Isaac Kook, one of the founders of religious Zionism, that identification with the Jewish people eventually will lead Jews back to Judaism.
This national religious revival is not occurring at the expense of Israeli or West Bank Arabs. On the contrary, the Arab population between the River and the Sea is flourishing as no modern Arab population ever did. A fifth of Israel's medical students are Arab, as are a third of the students at the University of Haifa. Ariel University across the "Green Line" in Samaria, the "settler's university," is educating a whole generation of West Bank Arabs. The campus is full of young Arab women in headscarves, and the local Jewish leadership reaches out to Arab villages to recruit talented students. Israel's expanding economy has a bottomless demand for young people of ability and ambition. The Left calls Israel an "apartheid state" the way it used to call America a "fascist state" back in the 1960s.
The Israeli Left, with its soggy vision of univeralist utopianism, may be at a point of no return. It is becoming marginalized and irrelevant. The Europeans, whose experience of nationalism has been uniformly horrific, are equally aghast. Liberal Christians who abhor the Election of Israel because they abhor Christian orthodoxy cannot suppress their rage. And "progressive" American Jews, who have been running away from Judaism for the past three generations, are upset that Israel has embraced the normative Judaism they worked so hard to suppress. American "progressive" and unaffiliated Jews, one should remember, have the lowest fertility rate of any identifiable minority in the United States. Even if most of them did not intermarry (and the intermarriage rate in the past ten years approaches 70% according to the October 2013 Pew study) their infertility would finish them off in a few generations. Meanwhile 74% of all Jewish children in the New York area live in Orthodox families. The center of gravity of Judaism will shift decisively to Israel in the next generation, and the segment of American Jewry that most identifies with Israel-the Orthodox-will set the tone for American Judaism and eventually become the majority in a much smaller American Jewish population.
It is up to the Israelis, to be sure, to draw out the implications of these trends. But I am encouraged by the perceptions of religious leaders like Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth, who perceive this revival in their daily work.
This is good news for Christians as well as Jews. The secularization thesis is refuted: a country with the world's greatest record of high-tech innovation is also becoming the industrial world's most religious country. It is devastating news for Lennonists as well as Leninists. The "Imagine" world turns out to be imaginary. Israel, as Franz Rosenzweig said of the Jewish people, is there to be "the paragon and exemplar of a nation." For all its flaws, the State of Israel stands as a beacon to people of faith around the world. It is honored by its list of self-appointed enemies. Will Israel prevail against the unholy coalition against it? As we say, b'ezrat Hashem. [Insh'allah]
Being homosexual is only partly due to gay gene, research finds
If homosexuality is mostly based on environmental and social factors, there should be no problem with claims that homosexuality can be cured
Homosexuality is only partly genetic with sexuality mostly based on environmental and social factors, scientists believe. A study found that, while gay men shared similar genetic make-up, it only accounted for 40 per cent of the chance of a man being homosexual.
But scientists say it could still be possible to develop a test to find out if a baby was more likely to be gay.
In the most comprehensive study of its kind, Dr Michael Bailey, of Northwestern University, has been studying 400 sets of twins to determine if some men are genetically predisposed to being gay. The study found that gay men shared genetic signatures on part of the X chromosome - Xq28.
Dr Bailey said: "Sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice. Our findings suggest there may be genes at play - we found evidence for two sets that affect whether a man is gay or straight.
"But it is not completely determinative; there are certainly other environmental factors involved. "The study shows that there are genes involved in male sexual orientation.
"Although this could one day lead to a pre-natal test for male sexual orientation, it would not be very accurate, as there are other factors that can influence the outcome."
Dr Alan Sanders, associate Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University, who led the study said that it was it was an 'oversimplification' to suggest there was a 'gay gene.'
"We don't think genetics is the whole story. It's not. We have a gene that contributes to homosexuality but you could say it is linked to heterosexuality. It is the variation."
The study builds on work by Dr Dean Hamer from the US National Cancer Institute in 1993 who also found an area of the x chromosome that he believed was linked to male sexual orientation.
Last year Canadian scientists found that the more older male siblings a man has, the greater change he will be gay.
They believe that the immune response produced by a pregnant mother increases with each son, increasing the odds of producing more feminine traits in the developing brain of the foetus.
Each older brother raised the odds that a man was homosexual by one third.
Researchers at the University of California believe that homosexuality can be explained by the presence of epi-marks - temporary switches that control how our genes are expressed during gestation and after birth.
Daryl Bem, a social psychologist at Cornell University, has suggested that the influence of biological factors on sexual orientation may be mediated by experiences in childhood. A child's temperament predisposes the child to prefer certain activities over others.
Interestingly no similar genes have been discovered which influence female homosexuality. "No-body has found something like this in women," he added.
Dr Bailey said environmental factors were likely to have the biggest impact on homosexuality. He added: "Don't confuse "environmental" with "socially acquired." Environment means anything that is not in our DNA at birth, and that includes a lot of stuff that is not social."
Richard Lane, of Stonewall, said that while studies into the origins of homosexuality have yet to produce firm evidence, they do to point to a biological root.
He said: 'The thing that's consistent across all of them is that they all point to sexual orientation being something fundamental to a person rather than the lifestyle choice some opponents of equality repeatedly suggest.'
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.