Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Political values aren't coded in skin color
Jeff Jacoby below hangs a lot on the fact that blacks once voted Republican. He ignores the fact that it was no evolution on their part but rather a big switch on the part of the Democrats -- from being the party of segregation to being the party of handouts. Blacks changed their vote for what they saw as a better offer
A more interesting case is the Church of England. In recent decades they have acquired a very "modern" Green/Left clergy. So has that eliminated the traditional conservative lean among Anglicans? Far from it. The Tory vote among Anglicans has in fact INCREASED in recent years, now outnumbering Labour voters almost 2 to 1. Perhaps hearing a lot of tosh from the pulpit inoculates you against it elsdewhere
A FEW DAYS before the Super Bowl, MSNBC embarrassed itself with an obnoxious tweet implying that "rightwing" conservatives are such bigots that they were bound to "hate" a Cheerios commercial featuring a biracial couple and their adorable daughter, Gracie. The backlash was blistering and instantaneous, and the cable channel apologized and deleted the tweet.
When it comes to playing the race card against anyone to its right, MSNBC is a recidivist. The smear over the Cheerios ad came just a few weeks after an on-air panel smirkingly joked about Mitt and Ann Romney's newly-adopted black grandson and how incongruous he appeared in the family's Christmas photo. That flap also triggered an uproar, followed by multiple apologies.
Count me among those who can't imagine anyone this side of the fever swamps viewing that sweet Cheerios ad or the Romneys' quiver full of grandchildren with any kind of racial disapproval, let alone one driven by politics. That some on the left can so casually traffic in such slander reflects nothing but their own bigotry against conservatives.
If you asked me, I'd have said that was self-evident. (As a right-winger with kids of different colors, I may be biased.) But Jim Lindgren, a law professor and sociologist at Northwestern University, decided to double-check. He turned to the General Social Survey, a comprehensive national survey that for years has been compiling sociodemographic statistics on US residents — including (among many variables) data on respondents' political leanings and the racial makeup of their families.
Not surprisingly, Lindgren found, there was nothing in the data to back up MSNBC's suggestion that conservatives are more likely than liberals to frown on biracial families.
"Among families with step-children or adopted children," he wrote for The Volokh Conspiracy, a legal blog hosted by The Washington Post, "11 percent of conservatives were living in mixed-race households compared to 10 percent of liberals." Broadening the analysis to include families with biological children of an interracial couple (like Gracie in the Cheerios spot), Lindgren found that 11.9 percent of self-identified conservatives live in mixed-race families compared to 11.4 percent of liberals. When the numbers were sorted by party affiliation, they showed 9.5 percent of Republicans living in mixed-race families vs. 11.2 percent of Democrats. Crunching the stats by both race and ideology, 2.0 percent of white conservatives live in mixed-race families, while 2.4 percent of white liberals do.
None of these differences are statistically significant. Taken together, they reinforce the ugliness of MSNBC's taunting insinuation that to be politically right-of-center is to be racially intolerant, or that there is something inherently liberal in forging ties of love across the color line.
But there is also a message here that conservatives and Republicans should be taking to heart, one that has nothing to do with liberal closed-mindedness.
In the ongoing debate over immigration reform, there are reasonable arguments on all sides — arguments about the economic, social, and environmental impact of increasing the number of immigrants, sealing the US-Mexican border, or offering amnesty to illegal immigrants. What is not a reasonable argument, it seems to me, is the claim that more immigrants must mean fewer Republicans.
"At the current accelerated rate of immigration — 1.1 million new immigrants every year — Republicans will be a fringe party in about a decade," writes Ann Coulter in a recent column. She cites a wide swath of polling data showing that most immigrants not only come from "societies that are far more left-wing than our own," but that "they bring their cultures with them." Hispanic and Asian immigrants may have little in common economically or culturally, but "both overwhelmingly support big government, ObamaCare, affirmative action, and gun control. . . . How are Republicans going to square that circle?"
The color of their skin doesn't predetermine their political values. Neither does their immigration status.
But that kind of essentialist argument is as flawed as the claim that interracial families must be left-wing, or that a conservative message of liberty, opportunity, and patriotism can only appeal to voters with white skin.
For more than half a century after the Civil War, blacks were a solid Republican constituency, and the most Democratic-leaning states were the most hostile to black voting rights. Yet attitudes change — sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not — and voting patterns with them. Political values aren't coded in our DNA. Party loyalty isn't a function of immigration status.
Where do you stand on amnesty? Whom you support for president? Would you ever watch MSNBC? If you're looking for the answers in the color of your skin, you're definitely doing it wrong.
Female grey power? It's a feminist's fairytale...
By Janet Street Porter
You’ve heard of the pink pound. Now self-help books, successful movies (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and television series (welcome back Birds Of A Feather) are targeting the spending power of the older woman — the ‘female grey pound’
Feminists argue that we must assert ourselves, and stop being invisible once we pass 50. It’s time to ‘age with attitude’.
As a well-preserved pensioner who regularly behaves like a teenager, I’d like to claim that when I enter a room, folk remark how fabulous I look. Sadly, life is not like that.
Once you say goodbye to your 40s, and your dress size sneaks up to 14, the only compliments are from other women and the odd gay man. Certainly not from the average heterosexual man.
This band of authors telling us life is fabulous at 60 can’t be living in the real world, where most women are earning less, working part-time against their will (having had their hours curtailed), looking after grandchildren (unpaid) and are with partners they went off years ago but cannot afford to divorce.
The notion of female grey power is a middle-class conceit. For many of us, each day brings fear — about the lack of a decent pension, of cancer and ill-health, of loneliness. A huge number care for aged parents, as funding for social services dries up.
Until women have real power — making up 50 per cent of the Commons, of Ministerial jobs and half of all public appointments — talk of grey female power is premature. We might get excited because one 62-year-old models underwear, but in fashion magazines it’s still business as usual. The main purchasers of expensive clothes are career woman over 40 — yet they’re nowhere to be seen. Ads still feature thin young girls having simulated sex with handbags.
Historian Mary Beard is giving a lecture this week on ‘the public voice of women’, examining how women through the ages have struggled to make them-selves heard.
She reckons ‘granny is sidelined’ and women are only allowed a voice if they are ‘turned into freaks’ like Margaret Thatcher, who consciously changed her voice and had hair like a helmet.
Mary says powerful women like Theresa May pay a far greater price than men to get heard. She’s right; and God help them if they have a wrinkle! Mary herself was subjected to horrible abuse on Twitter for daring to present a television series with grey hair.
Yes, 67-year-old actress Susan Sarandon might have a gorgeous 36-year-old bloke, but that’s hardly the norm.
The best news for older women is not a bunch of new books about grey power, but the Law Commission’s proposals to make pre-nuptial agreements legally binding. If relationships fail, we will be able to walk away with decent financial provision.
Of course, a bunch of MPs (mostly male) will have to vote this sensible plan into the statute book, so don’t hold your breath.
Handbagging for Hattie, high priestess of PC
Leading the charge against the Tories over the fact barely 15 per cent of their MPs are women is Harriet Harman, high priestess of political correctness.
The deputy Labour leader is a champion of the party’s policy of all-women shortlists in winnable seats - when it suits her.
The policy was mysteriously abandoned by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee in the run-up to the 2010 General Election in the safe Labour seat of Birmingham Erdington.
Harman was conveniently absent from the meeting that dropped the diktat. It enabled Jack Dromey, deputy general secretary of the Unite trades union, to secure the candidacy and become the MP.
And who is Dromey married to? None other than Hattie Harman. She, of course, has never been able to forgive the Tories for the fact they chose a woman as leader.
So much so that when she was equalities minister, Harman commissioned, at public expense, a document saluting the role of women in political life that omitted Margaret Thatcher.
The likes of Diane Abbott, the first black woman MP, and Baroness Uddin, the first Muslim woman peer (suspended for 18 months and ordered to repay £120,000 of fiddled parliamentary expenses) were featured. But there was no reference to the election of a woman as Tory leader in 1975.
The only reference was: ‘1979: UK’s first woman prime minister.’
Pointedly, there was no mention of Lady Thatcher’s name, which will endure in history long after Harman’s has been forgotten.
The Left’s long march will be hard to stop
Committed political agitators tell lies, even if with honourable intentions
By Janet Daley
Labour spent a lot of time last week making furious complaints about Conservative ministers filling public posts with Tory sympathisers. A predictable portion of the media actually took this seriously. The rest of us fell about laughing. As was frequently pointed out amid the hilarity, the last Labour government was spectacularly successful at stuffing every public body, quango and national institution within its reach with soft-Left placemen who could be relied on to cultivate the ground for its programme.
Now, Conservative ministers are left facing a wall of institutionally embedded, mutually supportive ideological enemies, snugly ensconced in virtually every arm of the country’s social, educational and cultural apparatus. And so, they are forced into an apparent war of political patronage – and are doubly disadvantaged by having to deny that they are engaged in any such thing.
Because the Left has politicised so much of public life, particularly in areas that affect mass opinion, such as the broadcasting media and education, the dismantling of that process itself becomes a political act: appointments that might once have been non-partisan and politically neutral must now be part of a campaign to counteract a deliberate manipulation of public influence. Having created the problem, Labour then gets mileage out of its opponents’ need to unravel it.
But let’s leave that aside. Michael Gove can fight the small battle of who will be the chairman of Ofsted with his usual unblinking determination. Deciding who is to be head of this, and director of that, is the least of the problems that his department, and any Conservative government that truly wants to change social attitudes, has to face. By far the more insidious – and more intractable – power-grab of the past generation was by the hard, not the soft, Left, and it was quite independent of any government direction. It was, in fact, a phenomenon about which New Labour was deeply ambivalent.
The Labour party in the Eighties may have had a highly publicised struggle with the Militant Tendency in its own membership, but it never confronted the infiltration of wider civic life by Left-wing activists, partly out of cowardice but mainly because the rabid anti-Toryism, which those activists could be relied on to inculcate, was not unhelpful electorally.
So as someone who spent her youth as a Left-wing activist, let me try to explain how we got here. Lots of people this week have referred to that memorable slogan of infiltration, “the long march through the institutions”, and most of them have wrongly attributed it to the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci. In fact, it was coined by one of the iconic New Left figures of my generation, Rudi Dutschke, in the late Sixties. The prevailing philosophy of our time was that violent revolution – a mass uprising by the organised working class – was largely out of the question. Bourgeois capitalism was too monolithic and too successfully deceptive: the proletariat were deluded, forced into a state of false consciousness, and would never spontaneously rebel against their oppression.
The only solution to this was to invade the areas of life that were most directly responsible for opinion-forming and the bending of minds: to “work from within”, as we used to say, to alter the consciousness of the masses, who would then be made to see the reality of their own situation and become more receptive to the message of revolution. I had dozens of comrades on the New Left who became union officials, broadcasters, teachers and lecturers (the old polytechnics were full of such people) with this explicit motivation.
Anti-capitalist, class-war jargon permeated public discourse in the Seventies to an extent that now sounds risible. The Haringey primary school that my children attended was forced to end its Suzuki violin classes because the NUT representative on the staff declared the violin to be “a bourgeois instrument”. Later, the national curriculum turned subjects such as geography into polemical condemnations of colonial empires. The worst of this may be past now in the schools, but not before whole generations were put through a sheep-dip of hatred for their own historical culture. For Mr Gove, the deconstruction has only just begun.
But there is a larger story here – and one that is even more difficult to uproot than the takeover of state education by what used to be called “vulgar Marxism”. It is about the obsessive dedication of political activists who believe themselves to be on a moral mission, and the almost insurmountable difficulty for Conservative or apolitical people in dealing with them.
It is almost impossible for those who lead normal lives with private preoccupations to win out over professional activists who are trained in the techniques of public influence. An example of this is the way in which groups of activists conduct themselves at public meetings. We were always instructed not to sit together but to scatter ourselves through the audience, so that when we made noise (which we were encouraged to do) it would seem as if the whole hall was joining in.
This is precisely what Left-wing activists in BBC Question Time audiences do, by the way. Whenever I’ve been on the panel, I have been struck by it. The audience is not, as the folks at home often think, overwhelmingly on the Left: it is just that the Leftist groupies have positioned themselves around the room and are causing enough ruckus to intimidate those who disagree with them. The producers of this hapless programme always claim that they screen out activists with their advance audience questionnaires. So let me tell you something else about committed political agitators: they tell lies. And they do that – I mean this quite charitably – with the most honourable intentions.
In the name of the exploited working class, any amount of deception is justified: any intervention in battles about which you know little, any instruction to go along and help the comrades in their struggle at such-and-such a factory or in such-and-such a borough, with your mass-produced placards and your copies of Socialist Worker. Shove your placard in front of the cameras, chant your slogans and create a sense of organised momentum. Dominate the news coverage and distort the public perception of the event. Any tactic – vote-rigging, outright election fraud, the orchestration of a party leadership contest – is done in the name of the proletariat against which such great historical crimes have been committed.
The version of Marxism that was disseminated was garbled and diluted but its main tenets came through clearly enough: wealth creation is generally wicked, and poverty is an inevitable product of capitalism. Showing why both those statements are wrong and dangerous is going to be a long slog.
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.