Thursday, July 24, 2014
It's like 1938, says Israeli ambassador to Germany: Outbreaks of anti-Semitism on the rise across Europe
Jewish people are being attacked and abused on the streets of Germany as though the country were back in the Nazi era, political and religious leaders warned yesterday.
Escalating violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has prompted a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in Europe in the last few days.
Murderous slogans dating back to the days of Hitler have been chanted at pro-Palestinian rallies in Germany. Jewish-owned shops were attacked and burned in riots in France at the weekend.
The Israeli ambassador to Germany, Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, said: ‘They pursue the Jews in the streets of Berlin… as if we were in 1938.’
Jewish groups expressed disgust over the tide of hate crimes and warned of ‘a new level of hatred and violence in all of Europe’.
Foreign ministers from Germany, France and Italy yesterday issued a joint statement condemning the rise in anti-Semitic protests and violence and vowed to combat hostility against Jewish people.
In Germany, there have been reports of protesters chanting ‘Jews to the gas chambers’. Police in Berlin have banned race-hate slogans that reappeared after being originally used in the days of the Nazis.
Officers had to protect an Israeli tourist at the weekend after protesters spotted his yarmulke (a small, round cap) and reportedly charged towards him shouting ‘Jew! We’ll get you.’
Fourteen people were arrested in the western city of Essen on suspicion of planning an attack on a synagogue. The imam of a Berlin mosque is under investigation after allegedly calling on Muslims to murder ‘Zionist Jews’.
Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the rise in attacks was a terrifying reminder of an era that was thought to be in the distant past.
He said: ‘We are currently experiencing in this country an explosion of evil and violent hatred of Jews, which shocks and dismays all of us.
‘We would never in our lives have thought it possible any more that anti-Semitic views of the nastiest and most primitive kind can be chanted on German streets.’
The Jewish population of Germany has increased in the past two decades to around 250,000, most of them migrants from the former Soviet Union who came after German reunification.
Court: ‘No Obligation’ Under European Convention to Allow Same-Sex Marriage
The European Convention on Human Rights “enshrines the traditional concept of marriage as between a man and a woman,” and there is ”no obligation on Contracting States to grant same-sex couples access to marriage,” the European Court of Human Rights ruled last Wednesday.
Article 12 of the European Convention, which governs the Council of Europe, states that “men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.”
The Council of Europe is a regional human rights body composed of 47 nations, 28 of which are also members of the European Union. Currently, only 11 European nations recognize same-sex marriage, while 39 others do not.
“While it is true that some Contracting States have extended marriage to same-sex partners, Article 12 cannot be construed as imposing an obligation on the Contracting States to grant access to marriage to same-sex couples,” noted the majority opinion in Hämäläinen v. Finland.
The case came before the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, France in 2009 after Finland - which does not recognize same-sex marriage - refused to recognize Heli Hämäläinen’s sex change without a divorce or a civil partnership.
Hämäläinen, who married a woman in 1996 and had a child with her, underwent a male-to-female operation in 2009 but wanted to stay married instead of getting a divorce. A same-sex marriage “was an unintended and accidental outcome of legal gender recognition,” Hämäläinen argued.
According to court documents, since Hämäläinen’s “wife had not given her consent to the transformation of their marriage into a registered partnership,” as required under Finnish law, “the applicant’s new gender could not be recorded in the population register.”
The Court ruled that since a registered partnership “was a genuine option which provided legal protection for same-sex couples that was almost identical to that of marriage,” Hämäläinen’s rights had not been violated.
In an open letter to the court, Hämäläinen said that the couple would stay married, adding that "the easiest option this time could be detransition and adoption of the former male forenames."
However, transgender rights advocates like Amnesty International decried the ruling, calling it “disappointing and unjust.”
Jezerca Tigani, deputy director of Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia Program, noted in a press release that “with this deeply disappointing and unjust ruling, the European Court of Human Rights is condoning Finland’s repressive laws affecting transgender people and reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes.”
“These laws are disproportionate and discriminatory,” Tigani added. “They are forcing Heli to choose between legal recognition of her gender identity and staying married with her partner. Having to choose one over the other is a violation of her rights….The discriminatory laws preventing same-sex couples from marrying should not be used to deny Heli the enjoyment of her right to private and family life."
But social conservatives, including Ireland’s Iona Institute, supported the court’s decision.
“While the ruling still leaves it up to signatory countries to decide what form marriage should take in their legal systems, it makes it harder for campaigners to argue that same-sex marriage is a ‘fundamental right’ let alone ‘the civil rights issue of this generation',” the Institute said in a Friday newsletter.
Do Blacks Need Favors?
By Walter E. Williams
Earlier this month, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act was celebrated. During the act's legislative debate, then-Sen. Hubert Humphrey, responding to predictions, promised, "I'll eat my hat if this leads to racial quotas."
I don't know whether Humphrey got around to keeping his promise, but here's my question: Is it within the capacity of black Americans to make it in this society without the special favors variously called racial preferences, quotas, affirmative action and race-sensitive policies? What might a "yes" answer to that question assume and imply about blacks? Likewise, what would a "no" answer assume and imply? Let's look at it.
There are some areas of black life in which excellence can be found without the slightest hint of racial preferences. Young blacks dominate basketball, football and some track-and-field events despite the fact that there has been a history of gross racial discrimination in those activities. Blacks are also prominent in several areas of the entertainment industry. Those observations mean that racial discrimination alone is not an insurmountable barrier to success. By the way, I can't think of any two fields with more ruthless competition.
You say, "OK, Williams, everyone knows about the success of blacks in sports and entertainment, but what about the intellectual arena?" A few inner-city junior high and high schools have produced black champion chess players, schools such as Philadelphia's Roberts Vaux High School and New York's Edward R. Murrow High School. Last year, two black teens — from Intermediate School 318 Eugenio Maria de Hostos in Brooklyn, New York — won the national high-school chess championship. All of this is in addition to quite a few black international masters and grandmasters in chess. Moreover, there's a long list of former and current black inventors and scientists. So there's no question that black people have the capacity to compete intellectually.
Civil rights organizations and their progressive allies, who all but suggest that blacks cannot achieve unless they are given special privileges, grossly insult and demean black people.
But worse than that, when civil rights organizations and their progressive allies pursue special privileges for blacks in college admissions and when they attack academic performance standards as racially discriminatory, they are aiding and abetting an education establishment that delivers fraudulent education. They let educators off the hook, thereby enabling them to continue to produce educational fraud.
You say, "What do you mean by educational fraud, Williams?" There are many inputs to education that are beyond the control of educators, such as poor home environment, derelict parental oversight and students with minds alien and hostile to the education process. But there's one thing entirely within the control of the education establishment. That is the conferral of a high-school diploma.
When a school confers a diploma upon a student, it attests that the student has mastered the 12th-grade levels of reading, writing and arithmetic. If, in fact, the student cannot perform at the seventh- or eighth-grade levels, the school has committed gross fraud. Even worse is the fact that black people, including those holding fraudulent diplomas, are completely unaware. It has absolutely nothing to do with racial discrimination. In fact, black education is the worst in cities where blacks have been the mayor, chief of police and superintendent of schools and where most of the teachers and principals are black.
Racial preferences in college admissions give elementary schools, middle schools and high schools a free hand to continue their destructive educational policy. If colleges did not have special admissions practices for black students, there would be far fewer blacks in colleges, and the fraud would be more apparent to parents. They might begin to ask why so many blacks with high-school diplomas could not get into college.
If the civil rights establishment and the progressives have their way, blacks will have to rely on special privileges in perpetuity.
Moral Equivalence Is Usually Moral Negligence
By David Limbaugh
Efforts to proclaim moral equivalence are not always misguided; sometimes each side is equally at fault or close enough. But these efforts are often misguided and unhelpful — and sometimes harmful.
Throughout my life, there has been an increasing trend to attach moral equivalence to all kinds of disputes and conflicts, such as Israel vs. Hamas, which is the subject of a future column. I assume this is mostly an outgrowth of our culture's descent into moral relativism, but it's also a product of our intellectual laziness.
We see it everywhere. It is a common practice in describing marriages gone wrong. "It takes two." "Who's to say who is more at fault?" Well, that sounds good and is often true, but how about in the case of the spousal or child abuser?
But where I find it most troubling is in partisan politics. There the trend toward moral equivalence is the wrongdoer's best friend. If we dismiss every despicable and corrupt act with the mindless cliché "everyone does it," then we excuse the wrongdoer for his misconduct and encourage further misbehavior.
Sure, both sides are often at fault, but that isn't always the case, and it doesn't make you a better person to say otherwise if it isn't true.
For example, I don't know a single conservative who supports muzzling leftist thought or speech, no matter how repugnant he may find it. Yet leftists are strongly supportive of various measures to suppress, even outlaw, conservative speech, from campus speech codes to the Fairness Doctrine. There is no way to describe this disparity in terms of moral equivalence.
I sincerely believe there is a reason liberals engage in this behavior far more than conservatives. It is because many of them believe that their ends, which they believe are vastly superior, justify their means. I've seen it so much that I suspect it is inherent in leftist ideology.
See the irony? Liberals, who are usually the first to throw up moral equivalency arguments when caught red-handed, are skilled practitioners at judging us — their political opponents — all the while claiming they just want everyone to get along. Through such moral shaming about moral judgments, the left intimidates conservatives from making and articulating their own moral assessments.
Modern manifestations of this practice are the left's virtual weaponization of political correctness, its obsession with so-called "diversity" and multiculturalism, and its rejection of the idea of American exceptionalism.
Multiculturalism is, for many of its most ardent leftist proponents, an Orwellian tool to disparage Western civilization and Western culture. The multiculturalist professes that all cultures are equal and in the next breath condemns Western culture because, in his view, it is unfairly exclusive, intolerant and bigoted.
He sees no conflict in making this negative judgment, because to him, it's not intolerant to refuse to tolerate cultures and worldviews he believes to be intolerant.
It's the exact type of warped and muddled thinking that leads him to justify muzzling conservative speech; in other words, conservative ideas are so despicable that they don't deserve protection. But his argument is self-defeating because while he says it's intolerant to judge other cultures, he is judging ours.
But there's a big difference between treating everyone — all people and cultures — with respect and treating their ideas as equally valid and profitable. Though I agree that we can borrow and have borrowed great things from other civilizations and peoples, I believe that the American idea is exceptional and that it has led to the freest, most prosperous and most beneficent nation in world history.
That's hardly a racist or nativist idea, for Americans truly are — at least up until recent times — a melting pot of all races and ethnicities. It is the American idea that is superior, not the American people. America is about freedom, made possible by limited government, established by a Constitution anchored in Judeo-Christian values.
Our nation, based on a superior system of government, has been the beacon to the world. This system was crafted by 18th-century giants who knew that certain ideas are superior to others and that the political history of the world provides the clues. They designed our system to allow what is great about human beings to flourish and to keep in check our evil propensities.
But when we abandon our God-given gift to make intellectual distinctions, when we surrender our duty to make discriminating moral judgments, we forfeit our own intellectual integrity and moral authority. When we can't hold up certain standards as preferable, we descend into irrelevance and meaninglessness.
The United States, despite its faults and missteps, has, among nations, been the greatest force for good in history and can continue to be if we return to our roots and our founding ideals.
President Barack Obama and his leftist ilk outright reject these ideas. They don't believe in American exceptionalism and the superiority of the American idea, which explains why they have no problem managing the decline of our military power and refusing to zealously protect our borders.
Conservatives, for their part, need to overcome their timidity and quit trying to appease and emulate the left and mollify the gods of political correctness. It's time that we start championing our ideas — based on the American idea — as if we believe they are superior.
We must remember what has made us unique and great and rededicate ourselves to re-establishing those founding principles. There is no room for moral equivalence here and nothing moral about pretending there is. We forsake the American idea at our peril.
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.