Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Top violator of women's rights around the world? It's Israel says UN

The U.N. sends itself up again.  Why is the USA still a member of this ratbag outfit?

Guess who is the number one violator of women’s rights in the world today?  Israel.  Violating the rights of Palestinian women.

At least that is the view of the UN’s top women’s rights body, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).  CSW ends its annual meeting on Friday, March 20 by condemning only one of the 193 UN member states for violating women’s rights – Israel.

Not Syria. Where government forces routinely employ rape and other sexual violence and torture against women as a tactic of war. Where in 2014 the Assad regime starved, tortured and killed at least 24,000 civilians, and three million people – mostly women and children – are refugees.

In fact, not only is there no possibility that the UN Commission on the Status of Women will criticize Iran, Iran is an elected member of CSW.  Sudan – whose president has been indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity – is currently a CSW Vice-Chair.

Not Saudi Arabia. Where women are physically punished if not wearing compulsory clothing, are almost entirely excluded from political life, cannot drive, cannot travel without a male relative, receive half the inheritance of their brothers, and where their testimony counts for half that of a man’s.

Not Sudan.  Where domestic violence is not prohibited.  There is no minimum age for “consensual” sex.  The legal age of marriage for girls is ten. 88% of women under 50 have undergone female genital mutilation. And women are denied equal rights in marriage, inheritance and divorce.

Not Iran. Where every woman who registered as a presidential candidate in the last election was disqualified.  “Adultery” is punishable by death by stoning.  Women who fight back against rapists and kill their attackers are executed. The constitution bars female judges. And women must obtain the consent of their husbands to work outside the home.

In fact, not only is there no possibility that the UN Commission on the Status of Women will criticize Iran, Iran is an elected member of CSW.  Sudan – whose president has been indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity – is currently a CSW Vice-Chair.

The 2015 CSW resolution on Israel will repeat, as it does every year, that “the Israeli occupation remains the major obstacle for Palestinian women with regard to their advancement, self-reliance and integration in the development of their society…”

Not Palestinian men.  Not religious edicts and traditions. Not a culture of violence. Not an educational system steeped in rejection of peaceful coexistence and of tolerance.

Instead, the fault for a UN statistic like this one – an average of 17% of Palestinian women are in the labor force as compared to 70% of Palestinian men – lies with the Jewish scapegoat.

That fact comes from one of only nine official documents produced by the UN for the 2015 annual CSW meeting.  Eight were procedural or general in nature, and one was entitled:  “Situation of and assistance to Palestinian women.”

By comparison, there was no report on Chinese women and girls, half a billion people without elementary civil and political rights, who still face the prospect of forced abortion and sterilization.

There was no report on women in Somalia, where female genital mutilation is ubiquitous, sexual violence is rampant, and women are systematically subordinate to men.

There was no report on women in Yemen, where the penal code goes easy on the killers of women for “immodest” or “defiant” behavior, there is no minimum age for “marriage,” and women have no equal rights to property, employment, credit, pay, education, or housing.

And the women’s rights scene is not the only liberal sham at the UN.

The UN’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council (HRC), will wrap up a major session next week by adopting a minimum of four times as many resolutions slamming Israel than any other country on earth.

Condemnations of Israel will include a resolution demanding Israel immediately give back the Golan Heights to Syria – the place where Syrians run from their own government for life-saving Israeli medical care.

Tallying all the resolutions and decisions condemning a specific state over the history of the Human Rights Council, one-third has been directed at Israel alone.

Remember Ukraine? In the past year, there have been at least 5,500 confirmed killed – with recent reports from Germany suggesting the total may be as high as 50,000 dead – in addition to a million people displaced.  But the score is 67 Council resolutions and decisions attacking Israel and zero on Russia. 

So who is calling the shots at the Council? A closer look at its members reveals human rights luminaries like Qatar – that bankrolls the terrorist organization Hamas – along with China, Pakistan, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

It is impossible to add this all up and conclude that the UN’s treatment of Israel is anything but wildly discriminatory. In the twisted language of UN rights, the means is the verbiage of equality, while the end game is prejudice.

The Obama administration has an answer to this dilemma. Vote against the resolutions, while paying the fees to run the bodies that adopt them. Join and legitimize the institution, while consoling the delegitimized that it feels their pain.

As Secretary Kerry told the Council on March 2, 2015: “President Obama and I support the HRC…” and “the HRC’s obsession with Israel actually risks undermining the credibility of the entire organization.”  “Risks undermining” – as opposed to “has grossly undermined already.”

This attitude towards the UN’s demonization of Israel foreshadows the administration’s Israel policy in the days ahead – a policy unaffected by Israeli election results.

The Palestinians will continue to use the UN and the International Criminal Court to attempt to accomplish with lethal politics what they have never been able to do with lethal force.  And President Obama will hold open the door.


Courts remind EEOC again: Background checks don’t equal racism

The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices displays dozens of “amazingly useless gadgets,” including such oddities as the Battle Creek Vibratory Chair, which shook patients violently to increase oxygen flow, and the Cosmos Bag, a radioactive cloth sack designed to cure arthritic joints with radium-laced water.

Modern medicine would easily identify these devices as absurd and unworkable. A clever pitch man claiming professional credentials can make something up and sell it to a gullible audience, willing to try anything to get the desired result.  

Trying anything to get the desired result, however, is not a good strategy for engineering social change through litigation, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was recently reminded (again) by a federal Court of Appeals.  

In EEOC v Freeman, the commission once again relied on the statistical analysis of an industrial psychologist to try to prove that an event planning company discriminated against black male job applicants when it ran credit and criminal background checks.

On Feb. 20, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the statistical case presented by the EEOC was “rife with analytical errors,” “completely unreliable,” and contained a “mind-boggling number of errors and unexplained discrepancies.”  The Fourth Circuit judges tossed the EEOC’s case, just as the Sixth Circuit did in 2014, when the EEOC relied on the same expert whose report was rejected for containing the same types of fatal flaws.

For years, the EEOC has doggedly pursued litigation against companies whose background check procedures it deemed too expansive and discriminatory. The EEOC’s strategy relies on the observation that, under certain circumstances, the use of criminal background and credit checks as a pre-hiring screen tends to eliminate minority applicants in disproportionate numbers.  The EEOC claims that this violates Title VII.

But wait a minute.  Just because your arthritis got better doesn’t mean it was because of the Cosmos Bag.  Correlation and causation are not the same thing.  

Statistical data show that a higher proportion of minorities have criminal records than non-minorities.  The NAACP reports that African Americans and Hispanics makeup 58 percent of prisoners, despite making up only a quarter of the general population.  There are undoubtedly a variety of factors that influence those numbers, but employers who perform routine background checks on prospective hires have no control over whom police arrest, governments prosecute, or juries convict.  If there is injustice in the justice system, employers performing background checks are not the ones to blame.

The reason that criminal background checks reveal more convictions for minorities is because more minorities have been convicted, not because employers who run pre-hire background checks are engaging in unlawful discrimination. 

The EEOC’s insurmountable hurdle, therefore, is proving race discrimination, which the agency must do through statistics.  If a criminal background check were racist, it would have to screen out minorities in a higher proportion than the rate at which minorities have been convicted of crimes.  

To date, the EEOC’s efforts to prove disparate impact through statistics have had roughly the same level of success as the Battle Creek Vibratory Chair. 

Last year, the Sixth Circuit called the EEOC’s statistical case against an employer “a homemade methodology, crafted by a witness with no particular expertise to craft it, administered by persons with no particular expertise to administer it, tested by no one, and accepted only by the witness himself.”  The commission then used the same expert again – with the same result.

If the EEOC’s theory were statistically supportable, it would not be so hard for the EEOC to find statistical support.  Yet, as Judge Roger Titus wrote when dismissing the EEOC’s case at the trial court level, the commission’s race discrimination argument is a “theory in search of facts to support it.”  Court after court has panned the EEOC’s approach.

The goal of promoting employment for qualified, rehabilitated individuals with criminal records is a worthwhile one.  The EEOC, however, has no statutory mandate allowing it to pursue that goal.  Strong-arming companies by filing unprovable disparate impact lawsuits is not the best model for engineering social change.

Fortunately, there is a better way.  States like Georgia have enacted laws that allow reformed ex-offenders to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation.  Employers who hire these ex-offenders receive immunity against negligent hire claims.

The Georgia program addresses head-on the worthwhile goal of promoting employment for rehabilitated ex-offenders and does so in a way that provides critical legal safeguards for employers. This carrot-based approach provides ex-offenders a path for re-entry into mainstream society, while giving employers the legal protection they need so they can reasonably take a chance on giving someone a second chance.

That is a much more common sense approach than the EEOC’s discredited statistical gadgetry.

In 2002, the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices closed, and its collection was donated to the Science Museum of Minnesota, where curiosity seekers can still hook themselves up to a phrenology machine that measures intelligence and morality based on the size of bumps on the head.

It remains to be seen whether the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision will prompt the EEOC to change its much-maligned approach to background checks.  If the EEOC is finally ready to retire its repeatedly discredited expert statistical papers, the museum is accepting donations.


When state trumps church

By Anthony Furey

“Ignorant” has got to be one of the most misused words today. An ignorant person is someone who is uninformed, missing some key information.  Not someone who holds an opinion that you don’t share.

Are the people who support banning the niqab during citizenship oaths ignorant? For some, sure. It could be a knee-jerk position they’ve latched onto without much reflection. But – memo to the politically correct! – it’s also possible to oppose the niqab from an informed and educated position.

I’ve read the Qur’an multiple times. I’ve done the crash course in Islamic history and jurisprudence. I routinely chat with Muslims, both supremacists and liberal. Heck, I even watched Lawrence of Arabia as a kid.

So when I argue that wearing the niqab is a pretty bad choice to make and that the government is completely right to insist women remove it during citizenship oaths, I’m not saying that out of ignorance.

It’s actually the sad faux-feminists out there aligning themselves with a religion that has misogyny bred in the bone who are the ignorant ones.

The more I study religion, the more I don’t like it. This goes particularly for Islam, the religion that demands absolute submission (hey, that’s more or less what the name means).

We heathens can’t tell you how the universe was created or what the meaning of life is. But that doesn’t in turn mean the many dodgy claims made by religions are automatically correct.

I highly doubt a god actually told ancestors of my Jewish friends to take a knife to their genitals. I don’t believe Jesus’ mom never had sex nor do I believe it’s possible to turn water into wine. (Although if that last one does turn out to be true, I’ll return to the Roman Catholic Church in a heartbeat, jaw open, head tilted back.)

And I most certainly don’t believe that Muhammad was visited by an angel – while alone in the desert without any witnesses! How convenient! – and received the final revelation of god.

That over a billion people disagree is immaterial. Truth is not determined by mob rule.

The above is simply to illustrate that it’s permissible to view religion with knitted eyebrows. It’s okay to have disdain for one or all of them.

If we can passionately bicker over which hockey team sucks more, we certainly can and should do it for something of greater geopolitical consequence as religion.

Yet too many politically correct posers in the West think this shouldn’t be the case. In a speech last week, Justin Trudeau put the vice grip on free thought by accusing critics of Islam of “stoking anxiety and fomenting fear.”

Western society routinely makes degrading jokes about Christians. Anti-Semitism abounds (with friends like these…). Nobody gets too freaked out about this.

But somehow Islam – the one lacking a critical culture, the least self-reflecting, least humorous and therefore most troublesome monotheism – is treated like a victim when exposed to legitimate criticism.

It’s pathetic to see the social media misfits hash-tagging away their #dresscodePM antics – facetiously acting like the prime minister wants to approve all public female clothing choices because he doesn’t want the niqab worn during citizenship oaths.

Okay, we get it. You don’t like Harper. But do you have to embarrass yourself by deliberately misunderstanding the issue and, in turn, siding with the theocrats?

This is not about how women dress at all. It’s about how some people destructively believe random religious edicts should be able to dictate civic procedure in a non-theocracy.

The niqab conversation is a sectarian issue. It’s a religious choice – a choice one should be free to make when out and about in a free society. It’s dictatorial to tell people how to dress in public and outright burqa bans are wrong.

But the rules change when you go from walking about on the street to interacting with the state in an important civic matter. Your primary identity in these interactions is not, for example, as a Muslim woman. It’s as a citizen.

It would be lovely if religious and civic responsibility never came into conflict. But evidently they sometimes do. And in the civic sphere, civic duties come first.

It’s deeply troubling that an aspiring citizen would attempt to assert the superiority of her religion over the state while fulfilling her first civic responsibility.

Why is Harper the one being called intolerant? It’s these new Canadians who are being intolerant of a country gracious enough to extend them citizenship.

Any serious country must assert that a citizen’s religious duties come second to their civic responsibilities. If not, it’s not a country anymore. It’s just a land of appeasement begging to be walked all over.

And what happens when two groups with equally earnest but contradictory claims to special treatment come into conflict? That’s when we realize what a joke accommodation has become.

It’s not ignorant to argue this. It’s not sexist. It’s about understanding the sanctity of civic life.


Stop Smearing Critics of Islam as Islamophobes

Branding everything a "phobia" stifles meaningful debate

The UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission has disgusted everyone who owns a moral compass by giving its international “Islamophobe of the Year Award” to Charlie Hebdo.

Yep, that’s right—not content that the editors and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo have already been summarily executed for the “crime” of Islamophobia, the IHRC now wants to posthumously insult them, metaphorically branding their corpses with the i-word so that everyone remembers what scumbags they were.

The IHRC, a charity founded in 1997 to research, study, and bleat about anyone who is less than fawning about Islam, initiated the Annual Islamophobia Awards in 2003. The winners are, of course, not actually anti-Muslim bigots, but simply people who have had the temerity to criticize some aspect of Islamic faith or culture.

So Ayaan Hirsi Ali has won one for failing to show sufficient respect to the religion that ruined her childhood. How dare she! Tony Blair was awarded one as well, proving that even painfully PC politicians who go around quoting the Koran and saying what a wonderful religion Islam is can still find themselves labelled haters.

And now, eclipsing even those previous undeserving winners, Charlie Hebdo has been dishonored with an award. On March 7, exactly two months after the massacre—nice—the IHRC christened that mag the worst of the international Islamophobes. No one from the magazine was available to pick up the award, of course, since many of its writers are now dead.

The IHRC’s labelling of freshly-killed satirists is like a post-mortem justification for the massacre itself, a reminder of the “crimes” these people committed prior to being shot at their desks. In fact, it’s merely a less bloody version of the Islamic State’s habit of hanging a placard around the neck of some poor bloke about to be crucified or pushed off a building: a reminder of the wickedness done by these individuals who are being, or have been, executed.

It isn’t surprising that the IHRC’s giggling at the dead of Charlie Hebdo has been met with outrage. But now we need to go further. We need to reject, not only the grisly handing of an Islamophobia award to dead cartoonists, but also the very idea of Islamophobia—the word itself, the notion that to criticize or mock Islam is to be disordered and therefore in need of reprimanding or a cure.

We live in an era of phobias. They are apparently spreading like a ravenous blob, turning more and more human minds black with prejudice. Today, it isn’t only fear of spiders, clowns, or open spaces that is branded a phobia—so are certain ways of thinking, certain beliefs, moral viewpoints that fall outside the mainstream.

Islam is protected from ridicule not only by the slur of Islamophobia, but also through accusations of “hijabphobia” against anyone who criticizes the veil, and “shariaphobia,” which is used to brand as sickly those who think Western democratic nations should have one, universal law applicable to everyone rather than different courts for different folks.

One Muslim writer describes hijabphobia as an “irrational fear" that has “crept into the subconscious of the unsuspecting all over the world.” So you might think your dislike of the veil is motored by secular, liberal concern for the treatment of women as frail sexual creatures who must always be hidden, but actually you're sick; you've been infected by a fear of the Other.

Shariaphobia is, according to one dictionary, “fear or hatred of sharia law.” The heated debate about the introduction of a sharia tribunal in Texas has led to accusations of shariaphobia. A writer for the Texan paper the Star-Telegram said commentators’ criticisms of the tribunal show that “shariaphobia is back.” So even the suggestion that we should have one law for all—a pretty standard Enlightenment idea—is now rebranded a weird, dark fear.

The purpose of all these utterly invented phobias is to delegitimize moral criticism of Islam by depicting it as irrational, fuelled by fearful thoughts that the mass media probably implanted in your unwitting brain. It’s like an informal, non-legal enforcement of strictures against blasphemy. Whereas the Inquisition branded disbelievers as morally disordered “deniers,” today’s intolerant protectors of Islam brand critics of that religion as morally disordered “phobes.” In Europe, a hotbed of phobia-policing, people have actually been arrested, convicted, and fined for the crime of “Islamophobia”—a direct echo of the Inquisition’s trial and punishment of those who, in retrospect, we should probably call Bibliophobes.

It isn’t only Islam and its sympathizers who use the phobe label to chill legitimate moral debate. Everyone’s at it.

Gay-rights activists have become way too fond of using the word “homophobe,” not only to attack actual anti-gay bigots but also to slam people who simply oppose gay marriage, for religious reasons, or who aren’t in love with every aspect of the gay lifestyle. Here, too, legit moral viewpoints are reimagined as irrational fears and in the process demonized. Homosexuality was once treated as a mental illness; now criticism of homosexuality is described, in the words of psychiatrist and writer Martin Kantor, as an “emotional disorder.”

Heaven help anyone who criticizes any aspect of transgender politics. Question the idea that boys who identify as girls should be allowed to use the girls’ toilets at school and you’re a transphobe. Wonder out loud if gender is at least partly biological and you're a transphobe. Accidentally call Chelsea Manning Bradley Manning and you’re the most foul, irrational, phobic creature in Christendom.

There’s also biphobia, lesbophobia, whorephobia (used against feminists who, wrongly in my view, want to outlaw prostitution), fatphobia, ecophobia (for people who aren’t eco-friendly and, what’s more, think green politics is a crock), and on it goes.

What we’re witnessing is the pathologizing of dissent, the treatment of edgy or just eccentric ideas as illnesses requiring silencing or even treatment. It’s a cynical attempt by certain groups and their media cheerleaders to opt-out of the battle of ideas by branding their opponents as irrational, and therefore not worthy of engagement.

Pathologizing moral thought has long been the favored tactic of the most authoritarian regimes. Think of the Soviet Union dumping dissenters in lunatic asylums. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, O’Brien, the torturer in Room 101, offers to cure Winston Smith of his anti-authority outlook: “You are mentally deranged," he tells him. “Shall I tell you why we have brought you here? To cure you! To make you sane!”

The 21st-century West is rife with O’Briens, keen to cure us of our phobias. We should respond by challenging the phobia-accusers to ditch the name-calling and instead take part in real, honest, moral debate.



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


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