Friday, August 01, 2014
My Fellow Canadian
by Mark Steyn
"Canadians" protest against Israel at Queen's Park this weekend
Ever since the weekend, I've been looking at the photo above. It's a close-up of a picture that forms part of Richard K's photographic scrapbook of the annual "al-Quds Day" rally in my home town of Toronto. "Al-Quds" is the Arab name for Jerusalem, and this event, if not quite as big as the LGBTQWERTY parade, enjoys a similar official imprimatur: the Government of Ontario gives permission for it to be held at Queen's Park, home of the provincial parliament. At this year's shindig, Gaza was the big grievance, and there was a lot of undisguised Jew-hatred in the air.
But, as I said, it's the photograph at right that's been weighing on me: A man at the rally holding up a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini. We can't see his face, but he's wearing a baseball cap and in his left hand he's holding a smart phone. So he looks like a perfectly assimilated immigrant. And yet with his right hand he's proudly displaying a photograph of the Ayatollah - presumably his, and evidently a picture he's fond of, because he's gone to the trouble of putting it in a frame.
And the guy alongside him is evidently unconcerned about being next to a fellow brandishing a framed portrait of Khomeini.
This is Toronto on a summer weekend in 2014.
A third of a century back, BBC TV had a comedy show called "Not The Nine O'Clock News", starring among others Rowan Atkinson (of Blackadder, Mister Bean et al). One week, Pamela Stephenson sang a song called "Ayatollah, Don't Khomeini Closer". If memory serves, the lyric was by Richard Curtis, who went on to films such as Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones' Diary and Love, Actually, and who married my old "Loose Ends" pal Emma Freud; and the music was by Howard Goodall, to whom I have a certain antipathy because back when I badly needed the money Channel 4 fired me from a telly gig and got Howard in instead. But, personal bitterness aside, Goodall and Curtis did a rather good job with the Ayatollah Khomeini song. I always liked this quatrain:
Though you are stubborn as a mule
I want you to be my man
I may be in England
But my heart's a hostage in Iran...
"Ayatollah, don't Khomeini closer..." You could do numbers like that 34 years ago because you could assume that almost everyone watching thought Iran's leader was a barbarian nut rather than a pin-up for your drawing room.
Can you still do satirical songs about Khomeini on the Beeb? Or do too many viewers have framed photos of the great man on their mantle? In the intervening years, the Ayatollah has come a lot closer. In Canada, short of delivering the Throne Speech inside the building, he can't get much closer: he's proudly on parade at the legislature of the Dominion's most powerful province - and nobody minds.
As it happens, in the three "human rights" suits the Canadian Islamic Congress brought against me, one of the complaints was that I'd quoted the Ayatollah. (There's an exhaustive account in my piece "The Shagged Sheep", which is included in my book Lights Out, available in personally autographed hardback edition from the Steyn store, or in non-autographed instant-gratification eBook edition from Amazon et al.) Specifically speaking, in the course of reviewing a book by Oriana Fallaci, I'd quoted some of the Ayatollah's dating advice:
A man who has had sexual relations with an animal, such as a sheep, may not eat its meat. He would commit sin.
The Canadian Islamic Congress and its sock-puppet "plaintiffs" considered this "hate speech". Pearl Eliadis, the "human rights lawyer" - ie, bigtime state-censorship enthusiast - wrote:
Mark Steyn's blurring of the lines between Ayotollah Khomeini's views on sex with animals and children and "contemporary Islam" goes further, I think, than most Canadian journalists have ventured before.
In the famous edition of TVO's "Agenda", in which I wound up meeting the three sock puppets face to face, Khurrum Awan took the same line as Ms Eliadis - that Khomeini was an "obscure figure", and by quoting extremists I was implicitly linking them to Canadian Muslims.
Yet here are Canadian Muslims explicitly linking themselves to Ayatollah Khomeini. Nor was he the only Iranian bigshot on display at Queen's Park. Among the others was Khomeini's successor as Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
I wonder if any of the non-Muslim Jew-haters out and about on Saturday looked at that Khomeini portrait and felt a little queasy. You sign on for a little light anti-Semitism - getting your pension fund to divest from Israel, which is the 21st century equivalent of getting your country club to nix the Jews - and next thing you know you're standing next to a fellow who's hot for the Ayatollah. And at that point, if you've got any sense of self-preservation, you'll realize it's not really about the Jews anymore, it's about you.
Canada used to be a country proud of its role in helping keep some of those American embassy staff out of the Ayatollah's clutches. The Khomeinibopper at Queen's Park would gladly have handed them over. Yet he's as Canadian as you, at least de jure. And given Canadian immigration and demographic trends how many more who think like him will be at the al-Quds rally by 2020?
Here's another quote from Maclean's that Pearl Eliadis didn't care for - from my colleague Barbara Amiel:
Normally, a people don't willingly acquiesce in the demise of their own culture, especially one as agreeable as Western democracy, but you can see how it happens. Massive Muslim immigration takes place and at the time, no one gives much thought to consequences.
One consequence is the man in the baseball cap with a smart phone in one hand and a Khomeini pin-up in the other.
Ayatollah, don't Khomeini closer? Too late.
~South of the border, at The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, they're already assimilating with the incomers, with one of those everything-in-the-west-comes-from-Islam pieces that really ought to have their own category in the Pulitzers by now:
Some scholars believe that Muslims came to America from West Africa and Europe (Muslim Spain and Portugal) long before Columbus. The theory is still not widely accepted, but it is based on interesting evidence. There is no doubt that Muslims made up a considerable portion of the West Africans who were enslaved and brought to North, South and Central America during the four grueling centuries of the Atlantic slave trade. Conservative estimates say they made up one out of every 10, but sometimes (in states like South Carolina and Louisiana) they made up as much as one out of every three.
The Muslim slaves of antebellum America left some of their culture behind. Many musicologists believe that the American blues and jazz traditions owe much to West African Muslim folk music, especially the beautiful West African Muslim songs sung with the 21-string kora.
I knew most western literature was Muslim - from Sheikh Speare to Louisa May al-Cott - but the jazz and blues thing was new to me. Must remember to check out some of those great little jazz joints in Riyadh next time I'm there. Incidentally, if you woke up this morning and your sheep done left you, the Ayatollah Khomeini recommends you sing a 12-baa blues.
Women Against Feminism blog sparks fierce backlash over statements such as 'I like it when men compliment my body'
A provocative Tumblr blog called Women Against Feminism is kicking up a predictable storm amongst women who do identify as feminists.
The blog collects photos of women posing with hand-written signs that all begin: 'I don't need feminism because...' - and are peppered with a variety of reasons, common themes including: 'I am not a victim,' 'I'm proud to be a stay-at-home mom,' and 'I love chivalry.'
Largely, the response to this blog - especially to posts such as 'I don't need feminism because I like when men say compliments about my body!' - has been less than favorable, with reactions ranging from mockery and disregard, to all-out horror.
The campaign is reminiscent of the 2012 Who Needs Feminism Tumblr, which invited women to share their reasons for being pro-feminist, although Women Against Feminism don't claim their blog is a response to it.
Women Against Feminism has triggered countless angry responses, largely accusing submitters of having completely missed the concept of feminism, and branding them 'naive,' 'selfish,' and 'poorly educated.'
Posts such as these were especially criticized: 'I don't need feminism because my self-worth is not directly tied to the size of my victim complex!' And: 'As a woman in the Western world, I am not oppressed and neither are you!'
As a point of reference, the dictionary definition of the term describes feminism as: 'The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.' The anonymous founder of the blog feels, however, that many modern feminists don't subscribe to this.
'Feminism is not what it claims to be,' she writes. 'Anyone can recite a dictionary definition. But my rejection of feminism comes from more real-life reasons.'
'I don't need feminism because I don't need to grow out my body hair to prove I'm equal to men,' one submission reads.
Another vented: 'Respecting my husband as the MAN in our marriage does not make me less of a woman! I don't need to demonize men.'
'How the f**k am I supposed to open jars and lift heavy things without my husband?'
Also found on Women Against Feminism are frequent posts from stay-at-home moms, such as: 'I don't need feminism because I made my own choice to be a stay at home mother and my working husband should not be harassed.'
Then there were several mentions of rape, with one woman posting: 'I don't need feminism because getting drunk at a party and having sex with a stranger is just irresponsibility, not rape!'
The blog prompted one feminist, writer Rebecca Brink, to respond with a slew of satirical posts.
'I don't need feminism because I want boys to like me,' reads one, while another states: 'I don't need feminism because the only way I think I can get along in this world is by pandering to the status quo and sh***ing on other women.'
She also fed into the shared view of several others, that many of the Women Against Feminism submitters were simply too young to fully understand certain issues surrounding the concept.
'I don't need feminism because I'm a teenager who hasn't entered the workforce yet and I don't know what constant sexual harassment or watching unqualified people get promoted over me feels like,' Ms Brink posted.
Joanne Sandler, a feminist who has been working with women's right initiatives in more than 80 countries for over 40 years, spoke to MailOnline about her view on the Women Against Feminism blog.
She said: 'If the women "don't need" feminism because they have transcended gender discrimination and inequality, more power to them... They've achieved a feminist utopia. That's good news!
'The fact that they understand feminism in a way that is different from my daily reality and understanding is something that I can live with.
'I hope they keep talking about feminism. We need the publicity. It will guarantee that feminism will still be there when and if they are interested.'
In response to the backlash they have faced, Women Against Feminism issued the following statement on its Facebook page, which has amassed over 13,800 'likes' and counting: 'So feminists have been calling us lots of names lately.
'Basically they are saying, "You're too stupid to know what you want. You need us to tell you what's good for you. And if you try to get away, we will throw insults"... Are all feminists like this? No. Are a lot of them like this? Yes. Just look at how the "feminist media" has treated us this week.'
Don't be embarrassed to challenge Muslim treatment of women, justice minister says
Britain should not be “culturally embarrassed” about challenging Muslims over wearing veils or segregating women in mosques, the justice minister has said.
Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat minister, said women and men must be allowed to sit together to “challenge people’s beliefs and practices” and take on Muslim “hardliners and fanatics” who oppose equality.
Mr Hughes said that a “cultural shift” was working its way through Britain’s Muslim communities in favour of equality. Those who were unwilling to accept examples of such parity, such as men and women worshiping in the same mosques, were now “losing the battle”, he said.
Speaking at an event highlighting the illegal practice of female genital mutilation the Justice minister said: “Islam absolutely values women from the beginning, women were tremendously important at the time of the prophet Mohammed… there were huge numbers of statements about equality and participation.
“And that is a cultural shift that is now working its way through the community and the hardliners the fanatics who are unwilling to accept equality are losing the battle - the last example is obviously many mosques still have separate worship.
“That’s fine, but not all do. “There are mosques here which now have women and men worshiping in the same mosque at the same time whether it is during Ramadan or another time.”
Last year Jeremy Browne, the then Home Office minister, prompted criticism when he called for a “national debate” about banning whether the state should step in to protect young women from having the veil “imposed” on them.
Mr Hughes said since then it has more acceptable to challenge other cultures and religions on traditions that appear to conflict with established British values of equality.
Part of this shift, he said, was that political leaders had made a “personal commitment” to challenge communities publicly about FGM.
He added: “There was a nervousness that you were trespassing on a cultural space that was inappropriate a bit like the nervousness there sometimes is about what clothing people can wear, what veils people can wear, face covering people can wear at school, that issue that is it disrespectful that if you give evidence in a court you should be required to lift your veil – and there was lots of cultural embarrassments, and we have broken though that now.
“It is no longer culturally embarrassing in this country challenge people’s beliefs and practices. That is the difference, and now that people are clear, like after the European Court Judgement, that they are allowed to wear things that indicate their faith – in that case it was a cross, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your work.
“I think people feel much more that they can challenge other things. So there is now an ability to take on the debate and to challenge the people who have very traditional views and misinterpret views.”
DOJ Says Pa. State Police Discriminated Against Women Who Flunked Physical Fitness Tests
The Obama administration is suing the Pennsylvania State Police for requiring both men and women applying for entry-level trooper jobs to pass the same physical fitness tests.
Because more men than women pass the tests, their use is discriminatory and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Justice Department says.
Because female applicants failed the 2003 physical fitness test and the revised 2009 test at "statistically higher rates than male applicants, female applicants were less likely to proceed through the selection process and thus less likely to be hired as entry-level troopers," DOJ stated in its lawsuit.
The Justice Department notes that from 2003 through 2008, the Pennsylvania State Police used a physical fitness test consisting of five events: a 300-meter run; sit-ups; push-ups; a vertical jump; and a 1.5-mile run. Applicants were required to pass each event to continue in the selection process for entry-level troopers.
From 2003-2008, approximately 94 percent of male applicants passed the test, while only 71 percent of female applicants passed.
In 2009, the state police added new elements to the physical fitness test, and between 2009 and 2012, approximately 98 percent of male applicants passed the revised test, while approximately 72 percent of female applicants passed.
In both time periods, the female pass rate was less than 80 percent of the male pass rate, which DOJ considers "statistically significant."
Justice Department employees figure it this way: "If, between 2003 and 2012, female applicants had passed the 2003 PFT (physical fitness test) and 2009 PFT at the same rate as male applicants, approximately 119 additional women would have been available for further consideration for the position of entry-level trooper, resulting in approximately 45 additional women being hired as entry-level troopers."
DOJ concluded that the 2003 and the 2009 tests were "not job-related" and "not consistent with business necessity..."
The lawsuit stated, "There are alternatives...for screening and selecting applicants for entry-level trooper positions, that have less disparate impact on women and would serve (Pennsylvania State Police's) legitimate interests."
But the Pennsylvania State Police website makes it clear that the job of a State Trooper can be physically demanding.
"Essential job functions" of Pennsylvania State Troopers include:
-- Arresting people, "forcibly if necessary";
-- Subduing resisting suspects;
-- Pursuing fleeing suspects and performing rescue operations "which may involve quickly entering and exiting law enforcement vehicles; lifting, carrying and dragging heavy objects; climbing over and pulling up oneself over obstacles; jumping down from elevated surfaces; climbing through openings; jumping over obstacles, ditches and streams; crawling in confined areas; balancing on uneven or narrow surfaces and using body force to gain entrance through barriers."
-- Performing rescue functions at accidents, emergencies and disasters, which includes "directing traffic for long periods of time, administering emergency medical aid, lifting, dragging and carrying people away from dangerous situations and securing and evacuating people from particular areas."
The Pennsylvania State Police website notes that successful applicants "must be able to perform ALL of the above essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation upon completion of the training program."
The Justice Department lawsuit faults the Pennsylvania State Police for refusing to take "appropriate action" to correct its discriminatory practices; and refusing to "make whole" (compensate) female applicants who were harmed by the "unlawful use" of the physical fitness tests.
The compensation would include back pay with interest, offers of employment, retroactive seniority, and "other benefits to women who have suffered losses or will suffer losses as a result of the discriminatory policies and practices" alleged in the complaint.
“The Department of Justice is deeply committed to eliminating artificial barriers that keep qualified women out of public safety work,” said Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, in announcing the lawsuit. “The Justice Department will continue to challenge discriminatory hiring practices that unnecessarily exclude qualified applicants on account of sex.”
The lawsuit seeks a court order that would require the Pennsylvania State Police to stop using the challenged physical fitness tests; develop hiring procedures that comply with Title VII; and compensate individual women who have been harmed as a result of the defendants’ use of the challenged physical fitness tests.
This is not the first time the Justice Department has sued a police agency.
Several years ago, the Justice Department took legal action against the Corpus Christi, Texas police department on similar grounds.
That case, finally settled in May 2013, required Corpus Christi police to replace the physical fitness tests it had been using for applicants; and distribute $700,000 in back pay to eligible female applicants who took and failed the challenged physical abilities test between 2005 and 2011.
Title VII prohibits both intentional discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion as well as employment practices that result in a disparate impact upon a protected group, unless the practices are job-related and consistent with business necessity.
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.