Friday, April 10, 2015
The ‘We Need To Have A Conversation’ Malarkey
You know just how scholarly a policy paper is when it is studded with a clichéd expression like “we need to have a conversation about …” The pop-phrase is familiar from these farcical usages:
“We need to have a conversation about race”—when, in reality, we do nothing but subject ourselves to a one-way browbeating about imagined slights committed against the pigmentally burdened.
“We need to have a conversation about immigration”—when such a “conversation” is strictly confined to a lecture on how to adapt to the program of Third World mass immigration. This particular “conversation” involves learning to live with a lower quality of life, poorer education, environmental degradation; less safety and security, more taxation and alienation.
In this mold is a policy paper by Jennifer Bradley, formerly of the liberal Brookings Institute. Bradley had a stroke of luck. Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report found fit to link her essay on his eponymous news website site. Titled “The Changing Face of the Heartland: Preparing America’s Diverse Workforce for Tomorrow,” Bradley’s Brookings Essay would have been more honestly titled “Get-With the Program, Middle American. Demography Is Destiny.”
Disguised as scholarship, the Bradley essay schools Middle America at length on how to prepare its diversifying workforce for tomorrow. Thus, for example, she states that “America is on the cusp of becoming a country with no racial majority, where new minorities are poised to exert a profound impact on U.S. society, economics, and politics.” The implication here is that this seismic shift is due to a mystic force beyond the control of the host population, rather than to willful policies in which the native population has never had a say and will likely never have one.
Bradley’s particular concern is with “two demographic shifts.” The one is the aging of the predominantly white (and presumably productive) generation of Americans born after World War II. Another is the concomitant influx of “Mexicans, Hmong, Indians, Vietnamese, Somalis, Liberians, and Ethiopians.”
“According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, the Asian, black, and Hispanic populations in the state tripled between 1990 and 2010, while the white population grew by less than 10 percent. This trend will continue,” warns Bradley: “From 2010 to 2030, the number of people of color is expected to grow twice as quickly as the number of whites.”
There goes that mystic force again.
“As Minnesota and the region go, so goes the nation,” states Bradley, matter-of-fact.
As Bradley sees it, a feature of the diversity explosion in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Midwest microcosm is a widening “race-based education and achievement gap” that will “become a drag on workforce growths unless something was done to reverse these trends.”
Translated, this means the immigrant population isn’t measuring up.
I can think of a few unexplored options to narrow the gap described. One is to welcome immigrants who’ll add value to the economy, rather than drain taxpayer resources. Bradley, however, is here not to strike up a true conversation—which would include exploring all options—but to dictate the terms of the “conversation.”
Indeed, the raiment of scholarship she sheds as quickly as a prostitute sheds her clothes (only less admirably; working girls deserve respect). Bradley brays about the need to “reframe the conversation about race-based education and achievement gaps in Minneapolis-St. Paul—turning what had been a moral (and insufficiently effective) commitment to its underserved communities into an economic necessity. Leading figures from the worlds of government, business, and academia, and public and private groups throughout the region [all stakeholders, but you] are now trying to figure out how to undo the effects of decades of neglect, tackling the problem from many perspectives and with an ever greater sense of urgency.”
Because the imported population is failing to achieve parity with the host population, Bradley has inferred that the newcomers are “underserved”; that they require more resources, when the fault could just as well lie in the kind of incompatible immigrant being privileged by policy makers. The essay’s premise is that America is “underserving” her immigrant population, when it is the other way round:
Averaged out, the immigrant population is underserving the American economy.
In this “conversation,” the social “scientist” recommends throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the causality quagmire. The mass-immigration imperative, moreover, is presented as the antidote to a declining birth rate and an aging population, when in fact mass immigration is the excuse statists make for persevering with immigration policies that are guaranteed to further undermine civil society and shore up the welfare State.
Demographics need not be destiny. The West became the best not by out-breeding the undeveloped world—not due to huge numbers—but because of human capital; people of superior ideas and abilities, capable of innovation, exploration, science, philosophy.
How can a child of three need transgender counselling?
There are few things more upsetting than having an unhappy child — especially if, as their parent, you can't work out what you're doing wrong.
Every parent compares their son or daughter with classmates or friends' children — you never want to think your own is the odd one out, the misfit.
But all children are different, often brilliantly and creatively so, and the progress of the world depends on oddballs.
The best advice is: 'Give it time, support them, love them as they are, listen to what they're saying.'
In today's world, however, we like neat labels on everything.
There can be comfort in slapping a scientific name on your child's behaviour, as if you were diagnosing an illness. And there is a powerful risk that professionals, fascinated by their own academic discipline, collude in that.
We know too many children — improbably many — are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with symptoms including inattentiveness and impulsiveness.
Or perhaps it will be another newly-named 'condition', such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder — which 'often involves arguing ('opposing') and disobeying ('defying') the adults who look after them', according to the NHS website.
In the process, tens of thousands of children are put on drugs to control their behaviour, without sufficient resort to sensible measures such as restricting their screen time, ensuring enough sleep and feeding them sensibly.
Others get labelled as clinically depressive, when the reason for their sadness is rational: divorce, bereavement, abuse.
And now we learn that there is a boom in the small but significant number of children below the age of puberty being referred to clinics with 'gender dysphoria' — the conviction of being born in the wrong body, previously known as transsexualism.
The Tavistock clinic and others report ever more children referred to them by anxious parents, some as young as three. Boys who want to be girls, girls who assert that they are really boys. One charity specialising in the condition says it's being contacted by 20 families a month.
Now, I believe gender dysphoria is real. It has been well-known for decades. No one quite knows why it happens.
Maybe it's abnormal development before birth, perhaps simply an oddity of nature — even one to be celebrated, rather than fretted over.
In the past, it was unrecognised or condemned as perversion. Today, understanding is greater, and those — an estimated one in 125,000 — who are genuinely, deeply unhappy have the option of 'transitioning', both socially and surgically.
There's a respectable history to this. Jan Morris, previously the star journalist James Morris, who reported from the conquest of Everest in 1953, lived as a woman in the late Sixties, went abroad for final surgery in 1972 and wrote a brilliant, wise, sensitive book called Conundrum, which demystified the transgender condition for many of us.
James was married; now, Jan and the same beloved wife are legally same-sex spouses, living a quiet life in Wales.
In another social sphere, April Ashley was born George Jamieson in tough Liverpool circumstances.
Aged 25, and having saved £3,000, she paid for reassignment surgery in Morocco in May 1960 and worked briefly as a model until her story was exposed in a red-top newspaper a year later.
She has spent a lifetime campaigning for gender equality and three years ago was made an MBE.
Understanding has grown, gradually, and that is good. Even Coronation Street has seen the much-beloved character of Hayley Cropper, who at first horrified the Street by admitting she was born as Harold, but subsequently married and became a stalwart of the community, and was only ever mocked by the nastiest character available (poisonous Tracy Barlow, who hates everyone anyway).
A 2004 Act of Parliament gave full rights to those in their new gender who, with medical and psychiatric help, manoeuvre themselves into the body they always needed.
Strange, but there it is. Even I wrote a novel (Passing Go) in which a transgender teenager is rejected by his/her angry father, only to prove the calmest and kindest member of the family.
The question now is whether the acceptance of this rare condition (I repeat, only one in 125,000) is panicking parents into misunderstanding or crazily encouraging young children in their innocent fantasies; and then feeding them to a psychiatric profession hungry for subjects with a fashionably interesting syndrome to study.
Some clinicians are quoted as saying that 1 per cent of us 'have transgender feelings to some extent' — which is 1,250 times as many as might be diagnosed with the full gender dysphoria.
But not every quirk of behaviour is a symptom. Small children, let's face it, often live in a fabulous, magical world in which they may be a dog, a cat, a rabbit, or even a railway train.
My favourite exchange with one child on the subject came when I was asked: 'Do wishes come true?' 'Well, sometimes, darling, if you work hard...' 'No! I just wished I were an elephant, but I don't want to be!'
And often, at that age, you fancy joining the other gender. A small boy plays dressing-up or covets dolls — he may well be expressing a perfectly normal range of male personality, and support you in your old age with his couture designs.
That girl in dungarees and spiky hair who desires to be Spider‑man? She may just be rejecting (quite rightly) the boring modern pressure to covet pop‑tarty looks and shriek a lot.
Either child may refuse to dress in the conventional way for their sex, and announce that they want to belong to the other gender. It's often a temporary thing, just a normal phase of childhood.
If that goes on and on towards puberty and makes them unhappy at school, then it is reasonable enough to explore, with a counsellor who is not obsessively over-interested, whether — by rare chance — the real condition lies at the root of this behaviour.
But we risk falling into the trap of seeing a problem where there is none at all, with children coming under terrible pressure to behave in a textbook way, as their parents' anxieties about deviations from 'normal behaviour' are fed by the medical lobby.
Surgery in cases of gender dysphoria is still strictly for over-18s. But, alarmingly, some clinics seem willing to prescribe drugs that delay the onset of puberty because of the 'distress' of what is normal development.
The drug route should only be a desperate resort. As one doctor at a Canadian gender clinic, Kenneth Zucker, puts it: 'Suppose a black kid came into your clinic and wanted to be white. Wouldn't you try to understand what is happening in the child's life that is making him feel like that? You certainly wouldn't recommend skin-bleaching.'
So, wise psychiatrists will listen calmly, and say: 'Wait and see.' As for pre-schoolers, the Tavistock clinic does not 'generally consider it helpful to make a formal diagnosis in very young children'.
There is a school of thought, though, that is more gung-ho and which reckons that, especially with male-to-female transition, you can't start too early, preventing puberty with drugs to stop a voice breaking and beard growing in adolescence.
How horrifying that anxious parents might be encouraging a child in that direction even though, given time, he might later accept that he is male. A happily feminine sort of male, perhaps, with a woman's sensibility and maybe an attraction to his own sex, but a bloke nonetheless.
The problem is that we live in an age of labelling, medical neurosis and extreme parental anxiety, coupled with a trend — weird to us Sixties tomboys — of old-fashioned stereotyping.
We see pinkified, princessified little girls being taken to nail bars and makeover parties at five, to be made as vain and prissy as their mums.
Boys, meanwhile, are harassed by the need to be a tough-guy, shooty-bang or football-hero stereotype. No wonder some rebel.
It might help if schools made their uniforms less specific — trousers and open-necked shirts for all — to resolve morning dress-battles with children who need to work out who they are in peace.
Yes, it's good that counsellors and charities are offering support to genuinely baffled parents.
I only hope that they do not act in haste, but say sensible things such as: 'Let them be. Call them whatever name they favour, keep an open mind.
'Either way, it's not the end of the world. And, statistically, the odds are he or she will grow out of it.'
Some Gays Defending Indiana RFRA, Apologizing for ‘Mean-Spirited Attacks’
Instead of attacking Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), some gays are defending the state law against “civil rights shakedown grifters” and apologizing for the “mean-spirited attacks.”
Bruce Majors, a gay man who ran for mayor of Washington, D.C. last year as a Libertarian, had some hard-hitting words for the liberals who targeted Indiana over the state’s RFRA last week.
“Once again, the gay lobbyists and bureaucrats are seeking more employment, money and power as ‘civil rights’ shakedown grifters at the expense of real progress for gay people,” Majors told CNSNews.com. “I reject all these fascists.”
The original RFRA signed into law by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on March 26 would have allowed private business owners to cite religious objections if they were sued by potential customers for refusing to serve them.
However, after the state law was criticized by liberals and gay rights activists nationwide, Pence signed a revised law that made sexual orientation a protected class in 11 Indiana communities that already prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians, effectively nullifying the RFRA because religious belief could not be used as a defense in a discrimination lawsuit.
However, Majors observed that the law could have a negative impact on gay businesses as well.
“These laws forcing people to associate against their will mean that any gay business – from cruise ships, bed and breakfasts, and gay senior communities and nursing homes that developers have been contemplating – can be stopped by anyone claiming that they are being discriminated against,” he said.
Majors also spoke in support of the “Memories Pizza” shop owners in Walkerton, Indiana who said they could not in in good conscience cater a gay wedding.
“If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Crystal O’Connor, one of the shop’s owners, told a local television station.
The pizza shop received so many threats of violence that it was forced to shut down indefinitely, with one high school golf coach even sending out a request on Twitter for help to “burn down” the shop. The coach, Jess Dooley, was later suspended.
One liberal Website said of the shop’s ordeal, “Sounds like an open and closed case of bigotry rearing its ugly head and quickly being slapped down by the good people of the world, right?”
But Majors pointed out that viewpoints on RFRA were not monolithic, even among gays. “They do not speak for me, nor do they speak for all gay people, as one can see from the openly gay people donating to their relief fund on GoFundMe,” he said.
Majors was referring to a webpage created to help raise money for the pizza shop’s owners in light of their ordeal. Contributors donated $842,442 as of April 4th. They included a woman who identified herself as Courtney Hoffman, who sent $20 - along with an apology on behalf of the gay community.
“As a member of the gay community, I would like to apologize for the mean-spirited attacks on you and your business,” the message read. “I know many gay individuals who fully support your right to stand up for your beliefs and run your business according to those beliefs. We are outraged at the level of hate and intolerance that has been directed at you and I sincerely hope that you are able to rebuild."
Other gay individuals have also come out on the issue in recent days. In a column published last week, Casey Given, another D.C. resident, wrote that the harsh reaction to the Indiana law had backfired.
"As a gay man, I would... likely would avoid Memories Pizza if I were a Walkerton resident (that is, unless their pies are spectacular).
“However, there are many people I encounter on a daily basis that have radically differing views to me. That doesn’t give me an excuse to batter them on their politics just because we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything. Doing so is just downright rude,” Given wrote. “Far from its intended goal of facilitating tolerance, modern progressivism seems to make individuals more hostile to each other."
Given, who is the director of communications at Students for Liberty, continued. “For the sake of sanity, it’s time for society to realize that politics is just one small characteristic of our complex makeup as individuals.”
“We can still be courteous to those who disagree with us; the world would be a very mean and lonely place otherwise,” he concluded.
Majors was even more forceful in his criticism of RFRA opponents, saying that “so-called anti-discrimination laws are largely a sham and have helped no one, other than making pompous liberals feel superior.”
Congressman: ‘Disturbing’ for Military Chaplains to Be Punished Over Views on Sexuality
While the nation debates whether Christian business owners should be forced by the government to cater same-sex marriages, the military is embroiled in its own dispute over religious freedom.
In two high-profile cases, military chaplains have been punished for citing their religious beliefs during private counseling sessions and other official events, sparking questions about what military chaplains are allowed to say in the name of faith.
Last fall, Capt. Joe Lawhorn was punished for making references to the Bible and distributing a handout that cited the Christian scriptures during a suicide prevention seminar at the University of North Georgia.
The most recent example involves Lt. Cmdr. Wes Modder, a decorated chaplain of the Base Chapel Naval Weapons Station at Joint Base in South Carolina. Modder was removed from his unit after several of his fellow service members in the Navy complained about his views on homosexuality and sexual relationships outside of marriage.
Among the allegations, the Navy wrote in a Feb. 17 “Detachment for Cause” that Modder told students, “homosexuality was wrong,” insinuated that he had the ability “to ‘save’ gay people,” and “berated a pregnant student for becoming pregnant while not married.”
The Navy contends that Modder “failed to show tolerance” and that on multiple occasions, “he discriminated against students who were of different faiths and backgrounds.”
But others argue that the military is being intolerant of Modder’s beliefs.
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the only U.S. congressman to also serve as an Air Force Reserve chaplain, believes the military has gone too far in punishing Modder and others like him.
“It’s First Amendment rights for a reason,” Collins told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview. “Not because you agree with it.”
Last week, Collins, along with 34 other members of Congress, came to Modder’s defense in a letter demanding that the Navy “provide information on the nature of the accusations and investigations” and “confirmation as to what steps the Navy is taking to reinforce the policies and protections in place for service members and chaplains to freely exercise their religiously-informed beliefs.”
Though Collins contends that chaplains have a responsibility to “self-monitor” their language, the congressman also says that Modder’s beliefs shouldn’t come as a surprise to those seeking his counsel.
“He’s not going to give an atheist perspective if he has a cross on his uniform,” Collins said. “That’s just not going to happen and it shouldn’t be expected to happen.”
Former Army Capt. Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, a non-profit organization representing “atheists and humanists in the military,” has been an outspoken critic of Modder’s case.
He said that while a chaplain “shouldn’t have to advocate for somebody else’s beliefs,” they are required to serve in a pluralistic religious environment.
“Nobody’s expecting them to come in and say, ‘Hey, being gay is awesome.’” Instead, Torpy said:
Have a civil, compassionate and professional discussion using all of the professional chaplain skills that you have. That’s the reasonable expectation. It’s unreasonable for people to browbeat people or belittle them in any context.
Collins, who served a tour in Iraq as a military chaplain, believes that Modder and others like him are being used to send a “chilling effect” throughout the military.
“They’re being told that they can’t say certain things, which are all founded within their faith tenets,” he said. “It’s been very disturbing to me.”
Modder’s attorney, Michael Berry, director of military affairs for the Liberty Institute, maintains that chaplains have a legal right to cite their faith in official duty.
In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Boerne v. Flores, which decided that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) only applies to the federal government, Congress included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that incorporates RFRA’s strict scrutiny standard as the legal measure that the Defense Department must satisfy in order to deny religious accommodation requests.
“In other words, Congress directed the [Defense Department] to apply [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] to the military, which it did in January of 2014,” Berry said.
For the same reason, 20 states—including Indiana—have passed their own religious freedom laws.
“Congress made it very clear that service members do not lose their First Amendment religious liberty,” Berry said. “This means military commanders are going to have a much more difficult time justifying their hostility to religious freedom. It also means those commanders are often breaking the law when they discriminate against service members of faith.”
Torpy, on the other hand, maintains Modder has a right to those beliefs but a responsibility as a military chaplain to accommodate all.
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.