Sunday, December 28, 2014
The Race Card Can Ruin Us All
The cold-blooded murder of two New York City policemen as they sat in their car is not only an outrage but also a wake-up call. It shows, in the most painful way, the high cost of having demagogues, politicians, mobs and the media constantly taking cheap shots at the police.
Those cheap shots are in fact very expensive shots, not only to the police themselves but to the whole society. Someone once said that civilization is a thin crust over a volcano. The police are part of that thin crust. We have seen before our own eyes, first in Ferguson, Missouri and then in other communities, what happens when there is just a small crack in that crust, and barbarism and arson burst out.
That can happen anywhere. So can what happened in New York. “Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”
It is a painful irony that, on the eve of the murders of these two police officers in New York, some of the city’s police were already saying that, in the event of their deaths, they did not want Mayor Bill de Blasio to attend their funerals.
We can only hope that Mayor de Blasio has some residual decency, so that he will not defile these two officers' memorial services with his presence. No politician in the country has done more to play the race card against the police and spread the notion that cops are the big problem in minority communities.
It so happens that the police officers killed were both members of minority groups – Officer Rafael Ramos, Hispanic, and Officer Wenjian Liu, Asian. It so happens that a substantial part of the New York City police force are members of minority groups.
But you might never know that from the story told by demagogues who depict the black community as a “colonial” society being “occupied” by white policemen who target young blacks. Mayor de Blasio joined the chorus of those saying that they have to warn their black sons how to cope with this situation.
“What can we say to our sons?” some demagogues ask. They can say, “Don’t go around punching strangers, because it is only a matter of time before you punch the wrong stranger.”
Mayor de Blasio has made anti-police comments with Al Sharpton seated at his side. This is the same Al Sharpton with a trail of slime going back more than a quarter of a century, during which he has whipped up mobs and fomented race hatred from the days of the Tawana Brawley “rape” hoax of 1987 to the Duke University “rape” hoax of 2006 and the Ferguson riots of 2014.
Make no mistake about it. There is political mileage to be made siding with demagogues like Al Sharpton who, as demagogue-in-chief, has been invited to the White House dozens of times by its commander-in-chief.
Many in the media and among the intelligentsia cherish the romantic tale of an “us” against “them” struggle of beleaguered ghetto blacks defending themselves against the aggression of white policemen. The gullible include both whites who don’t know what they are talking about and blacks who don’t know what they are talking about either, because they never grew up in a ghetto. Among the latter are the President of the United States and his Attorney General.
Such people readily buy the story that ghetto social problems today – from children being raised without a father to runaway rates of murder – are “a legacy of slavery,” even though such social problems were nowhere near as severe in the first half of the 20th century as they became in the second half.
You would be hard pressed to name just five examples from the first half of the 20th century of the kinds of ghetto riots that have raged in more than a hundred cities during the second half. Such riots are a legacy of the social degeneracy of our times.
Calling this social degeneracy “a legacy of slavery” is not just an excuse for those who engage in it, it is an excuse for the ideology of the intelligentsia behind the social policies that promoted this degeneracy.
Let those who have laid a guilt trip on people in our times, for evils done by other people in past centuries, at least face their own responsibility for the evil consequences of their own notions and policies. If they won’t do it, then the rest of us need to stop listening gullibly to what they are saying.
The race card is nothing to play with. It can ruin us all.
Religious people much happier and have more 'life satisfaction' than others, according to a new study
Does religious affiliation contribute to happiness? A recent study by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture found that a strong correlation exists between religious affiliation and personal happiness.
The institute surveyed a sample of 15,738 Americans between the ages of 18 and 60, according to the Breitbart News Network.
Of the more than 15,000 sampled, 45 percent of those who attend a religious service on a weekly basis described themselves as 'very happy,' while only 28 percent of those who said they 'never' attend said the same.
Those who said they never attend religious services are twice as likely to say they are 'very unhappy' as those who attend services weekly.
According to the study, this connection between religion and happiness stems from social support within the religious communities. Being surrounded by friends and a congregation who share common beliefs and motivations is reportedly a key way in which faith and happiness connect.
Though many other factors play a role, the study found that the sense of community among those who attend and engage in religious services is the most plausible theory to explain the connection.
The link between faith and happiness is nothing new.
Past studies -- both in America and overseas-- have found that, generally, those with a faith have higher levels of 'life satisfaction' than those without, BBC News reports.
Along with generally higher levels of happiness, BBC reports that studies find that religious people are better able to cope with difficult situations, such as losing a job or a divorce.
The Austin Institute study included controlled variables such as self-reported physical health, marital status, age, educational attainment, race/ethnicity, gender, and marital happiness.
But the end results proved that the statistics tying religious affiliation to happiness have held and are continuing to hold true.
US may lift lifetime ban on homosexual blood donations
US Federal health officials are recommending an end to the nation’s lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, a 31-year-old policy that many medical groups and gay activists say is no longer justified.
The US Food and Drug Administration said today it favours replacing the blanket ban with a new policy barring donations from men who have had gay sex in the previous year.
FDA officials said that policy is supported by research and would put the US in-line with other countries including Australia, Japan and the UK.
The lifetime ban dates from the early years of the AIDS crisis and was intended to protect the blood supply from what was a then little-understood disease.
But many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, say the policy is no longer supported by science, given advances in HIV testing.
Gay activists say the lifetime ban is discriminatory and perpetuates negative stereotypes of homosexual men.
The agency will recommend the switch in draft guidelines early next year and move to finalise them after taking comments from the public, FDA officials.
FDA Deputy Director Dr. Peter Parks declined to give a time frame for completing the process but said, “we commit to working as quickly as possible on this issue.”
All blood donations are screened for HIV, however, the test only detects the virus after it’s been in the bloodstream about 10 days. That allows a brief window when the virus that causes AIDS can go undetected.
According to government figures, men who have had sex with other men represent about 2 per cent of the U.S. population, yet account for at least 62 per cent of all new HIV infections in the US.
Tuesday’s announcement is the culmination of years of government discussions re-examining the ban.
Last month a panel of blood safety experts convened by Department of Health and Human Services voted 16-2 in favour of doing away with the lifetime ban.
The panel recommended moving to a one-year ban, which bars donors who have had male-on-male sex during the previous 12 months.
Some gay activists said Tuesday that policy remains unrealistic and will still stigmatise gay and bisexual men.
“Some may believe this is a step forward, but in reality, requiring celibacy for a year is a de facto lifetime ban,” the organisation Gay Men’s Health Crisis, a New York-based non-profit that supports AIDS prevention and care, said after the announcement.
The FDA implemented the ban in 1983, when health officials were first recognising the risk of contracting AIDS via blood transfusions.
Under the policy, blood donations are barred from any man who has had sex with another man at any time since 1977 — the start of the AIDS epidemic in the US.
The push for a new policy gained momentum in 2006, when the Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers called the ban “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
Last year the American Medical Association voted to oppose the policy.
Patient groups that rely on a safe blood supply, including the National Hemophilia Foundation, have also voiced support for dropping the ban.
The year the Culture Wars went global
Turning geopolitics into a battlefield over values is a really bad idea
A century after the outbreak of the First World War, it seems humanity is confronted with new cultural disputes that have the potential to mutate into violent conflicts.
The experience of the past century has demonstrated that the politicisation of culture always ends badly. And little wonder: cultural crusaders create a climate of intolerance towards the norms and values of their cultural targets. They are often censorious and seek to devalue their opponents. In its more extreme forms, cultural politics leads to the mutual dehumanisation of the antagonists.
Such dehumanising sentiments were far too evident a century ago. The Armenian genocide of 1915 represented the most extreme and destructive manifestation of this lethal synthesis of culture and militarism. Tragically, almost a century later, the spectre of culturally motivated violence haunts that region once more. Until recently, the great Armenian church in Deir el-Zour in Syria served as a memorial to the mass killings that occurred during the Great War. Earlier this year, however, in a savage act of vandalism, a group of Islamists blew the church up. They destroyed its archives, and the bones of hundreds of victims of the 1915 massacre were left strewn in the streets.
Today, the most extreme exponents of the politicisation of culture are the jihadist zealots who regard the lives of those who do not share their faith as unworthy of moral value. But the depravity and barbarism of a movement such as the Islamic State can obscure the disturbing reality: namely, that the politicisation of culture, and its intolerant consequences, is gaining strength across the world. It has certainly contributed to the hardening of the rivalry between the West and Russia. And it is this, the emergence of a caricature of the Cold War, that is arguably the most significant international development of 2014.
It seems that disputes about lifestyle, family life, sexual orientation and the nature of community life are no longer confined to the domestic sphere. The Culture Wars have gone global. Muslim jihadists are not just fighting with bombs; they are directly assaulting Western liberal values and denouncing them as immoral. For his part, Russian president Vladimir Putin has sought to present himself as fighting for traditionalism and the Christian way of life. In turn, Western diplomats have criticised Russia for its patriarchal and sexist culture.
There is little doubt that the Russian government is a willing participant in what it regards as a war over moral values and beliefs. In September 2012, Putin stated that ‘cultural self-awareness, spiritual and moral values [and] codes of values are an area of intense competition’. He said that to ‘influence the worldviews of entire ethnic groups, the desire to subject them to one’s will, to force one’s system of values and beliefs upon them, is an absolute reality, just like the fight for mineral resources that many nations, ours included, experience’.
In recent years, the Putin regime has claimed that the Russian way of life and its values have been the target of hostile foreign interests. The Russian government has expressed concern about the influence of the Western media over its national life. It regards Western NGOs operating in Russia as agents of alien interests, which is why in June 2012 it passed a law that requires any Russian NGO funded from abroad to register itself as a ‘foreign agent’.
Putin self-consciously cultivates the image of Russia as a moral crusader fighting for the survival of human civilisation. Last December, in his annual state-of-the-nation speech, he responded to Western criticisms of Russia’s attitude to homosexuality by lamenting the decline of morality in the West. He drew attention to what he perceived as the morally disorienting consequences of Western social engineering: ‘This destruction of traditional values from above not only entails negative consequences for society, but is also inherently anti-democratic because it is based on an abstract notion and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.’ He claimed that traditional family values were the only effective defence against ‘genderless and infertile… so-called tolerance’.
Although ostensibly directed at the Russian public, Putin’s denunciation of the ‘genderless and infertile’ lifestyles of Westerners was also directed at a global audience. Just a few days before the delivery of this speech, an influential Kremlin-linked think-tank published a report titled Putin: World Conservatism’s New Leader. The report sought to present Putin as the global saviour of traditional values. The report claimed that ordinary people throughout the world yearn for the stability and security offered by traditional values. It argued that people believe in the traditional family and regard multiculturalism with suspicion. Dmitry Abzalov, a spokesman for the think-tank, told the press that ‘it is important for most people to preserve their way of life, their lifestyle, their traditions’, and, because of that, they ‘tend toward conservatism’.
Western commentators frequently claim that Russia is waging a cultural conflict against tolerant, liberal and democratic values. It is certainly the case that of all the protagonists, Russia is the most self-conscious exponent of a values-based public narrative. But Moscow’s use of a moralistic discourse of tradition and Russian nationalism should be seen as a variant of the values-driven ideology of Western governments themselves.
Western institutions and governments are hardly shy when it comes to demanding that their values and lifestyles be adhered to by all societies. In fact, societies and cultures that do not adhere to Western values face pressure to fall into line. Take the case of Japan. During the summer, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination exhorted the Japanese government to pass an American-style law that would criminalise certain forms of speech as hate speech. What is remarkable about this intervention is that it was not confined to calling on the Japanese to deal with racial discrimination; it actually prescribed an Anglo-American legal innovation for the policing of free speech in Japan. It is entirely legitimate to criticise a nation’s government for failing to deal with racial discrimination. However, the demand that a sovereign nation regulate public speech in accordance with the values and methods of Western societies is a form of cultural colonialism.
The problem with international cultural crusades is not the actual values – many of the sentiments promoted by Western institutions are worthy and enlightened ones. No, the problem is that such crusades assume that Western states possess the moral authority to question, undermine and change the laws and values of communities throughout the world. When diplomacy and geopolitics become entwined with the attempt to affirm the moral superiority of a way of life, the outcome is always unpredictable.
The real danger with the globalisation of the Culture Wars is that it threatens to confuse diplomatic problems with existential questions that touch on a people’s way of life. Take the case of US president Barack Obama’s high-profile address to European youth. In this speech, he linked his criticism of Russia’s behaviour in the Crimea with criticism of those who oppose his political agenda in the US. He celebrated the politics of identity and permissiveness, and denounced the ‘older, more traditional view of power’. He added that ‘instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights’. In all but name, Russia served as a proxy for Obama’s desire to attack his traditionalist foes back in the US.
When domestic cultural conflicts in the US are recast on the global stage, diplomacy may become hostage to them. Diplomacy could become, in short, an extension of a domestic moralistic crusade. Such international values conflicts may appear relatively benign compared to those that led to the outbreak of the First World War. But do not be fooled. Cultural rivalries, and disputes over lifestyles and values, are extremely difficult to resolve because they are intimately linked to basic moral questions, even to the meaning of good and evil. As a result, these disputes are rarely susceptible to pragmatic solutions and can easily escalate into dangerous rivalries. Let 1914 be a warning to all those who presume to lecture other nations’ inhabitants about how to live their lives.
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.