Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Muslims first in Britain

For years it has served as a place for reflection for the Roman Catholic relatives and friends of sick patients.  So a plan to turn the hospital chapel into a Muslim prayer room has outraged worshippers.

Bosses at North Manchester General say the switch is under consideration because they have to offer facilities for Muslims praying for loved ones.

But Catholic priests say their faithful will now have no space of their own.  ‘St Raphael’s chapel contains the blessed sacrament and mass is celebrated weekly,’ said Father Ray Matus, of St Chads, Cheetham Hill.  ‘It is well used and highly valued by patients, staff and visitors at the hospital. Worship spaces are going to be provided for Muslims, Jews and Protestant Christians, and even a quiet room for people of no faith at all.  ‘Yet it is proposed that Catholics should have no space of their own.’

Father Ged Murphy, of St Patrick’s and St Malachy’s, has started an online petition and the number of signatures has reached 5,000 in a matter of a few days.  He said: ‘The chapel has been there for about 15 years. It is welcoming and people get great comfort there. Different faiths use it.

‘It is used during the week for mass. We are not against the Muslim community having a prayer room, but don’t see the sense in taking away a chapel that is serving one community to serve another.’

Sarah Reid, 42, who used the chapel when her father was in the hospital, said: ‘It is appalling they are going to take away the Catholic chapel.  ‘They have a room for people who are Jewish but can you imagine the anger if that was suddenly changed into a Muslim prayer room.  ‘They have picked on Catholics because we are the least controversial target. What they need to do is find some money to build a room for Muslim worshippers.’

Around 50 per cent of the population of North Manchester is Christian and Catholics, who make up 7 per cent of this group, have 12 places of worship. Muslims make up 16 per cent of the population and are served by six mosques.

Pat Karney, who is a Manchester councillor, said: ‘I am very disturbed to hear of these plans. Thousands of Catholic families in north Manchester, including my own, have used this mini chapel. I will be meeting the hospital bosses to clarify their intentions.’

A hospital spokesman said a move to convert St Raphael’s into a Muslim prayer room was just one proposal that was being considered.  He said: ‘It is commonplace for hospitals across the country to have a joint Catholic and Protestant facility and that is just one of a few proposals being considered.’

The Rev John Hall, chaplaincy co-ordinator at The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘We recognise and fully support the important role of faith leaders in supporting patients, carers, relatives and staff during often difficult times in hospital.

‘We also make great efforts to ensure that we have dedicated rooms and facilities which meet the needs of various faiths and also for people of no faith.

‘We have a number of different chapels and rooms at North Manchester General Hospital and we are currently looking at how these are used so that we have the best possible arrangements that meet everyone’s needs.

‘We have no plans to close any facilities including the Catholic chapel. We are about to start consultation with the local community, faith groups and relevant staff members to discuss all our current issues and to listen to all views and opinions.’


Should "Gone with the Wind" Be Banned?

Tragic events provide platforms for political opportunists—remember we can’t let a good crisis go to waste—and the mass shooting of African Americans by a white racist at a Charleston, S.C., church has created a plethora of opportunities. The one on my radar screen today is New York film critic Lou Lumenick’s argument for banning the Academy Award–winning film Gone with the Wind. It’s a great reminder of why we don’t want film critics in charge of social policy.

Lumenick notes, accurately, that the film, based “on a best seller by die-hard Southerner Margaret Mitchell, ‘Gone with the Wind’ buys heavily into the idea that the Civil War was a noble lost cause and casts Yankees and Yankee sympathizers as the villains, both during the war and during Reconstruction.” Lumenick also says that the movie, and the Confederate flag, represents slavery and a defense of slavery.

Leaving aside the question of whether an artistic endeavor should be judged on its factual content and accuracy rather than artistic contribution, Lumenick is showing a pretty profound ignorance of history. True enough, Margaret Mitchell was an apologist for the South, and Gone with the Wind is presenting a distinctly Southern view of the Civil War and slavery. It never pretended to be anything else.

But Lumenick is assuming that movie viewers are both ignorant of the Civil War and unable to critically evaluate the content of the movie. The idea that Gone with the Wind should be considered or valued not for its artistic merit but only on whether it fits with the sensibilities of an elite (in this case a New York film critic)–and should be banned–is disturbingly Orwellian.

I remember seeing Gone With the Wind when I was about 12 years old in a movie theater. It remains the only time I have seen the entire movie in one sitting. My biggest recollections as a pre-teen?

The intermission was weird, and I didn’t like it;

A lot of people died, and lot of suffering happened during the Civil War;

Southerners romanticized the war and secession with the result being complete social and personal devastation;

Scarlett O’Hara was a self-centered brat, and I couldn’t see why Rhett Butler would have anything to do with her.

Apparently, according to Lumerick, it’s not enough for a movie to show the devastation of war. It also has to place his politically correct narrative at the center.

Beyond this, was the Civil War only about slavery? No, and this is why Lumerick borders on an Orwellian approach to speech, expression, history, and art. He (and others) are spinning the public narrative to fit a profoundly selective view of history and politics.

Slavery was indeed the proximate cause of the Civil War—sorry Southern apologists, you have to own this. Without pressure by Northern states to limit the expansion of slavery and the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln, the war probably wouldn’t have happened.

But concerns over states rights were very real, even if controversial. Lincoln’s election and the growing abolitionist movement precipitated a constitutional crisis. Southern states believed—with good reason—that it was just a matter of time before enough free states would be admitted to garner the three-fourths majority they needed to amend the Constitution and prohibit slavery within their borders, violating (they believed) the self-determination implied in the Constitution. Many southerners were fighting for sovereignty, not necessarily to preserve slavery. (And even this interpretation is simplified as this essay by Robert Higgs of the book Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, eloquently points out.)

Robert E. Lee, perhaps one of the nation’s most effective generals, was one of many Southerners offered a commission in the U.S. Army on the eve of the Civil War but turned it down because his loyalty was first to his native state of Virginia. (More than 300 regular U.S. Army officers resigned their commissions to fight for their home states in the South.) Moreover, Lee freed his family’s slaves in 1862, well before the war turned against the South, and proclaimed in private letters the slavery was an evil institution.

None of this justifies slavery, constitutes a defense of the South, or, for that matter, justifies using the Confederate battle flag as a symbol of independence. Rather, my intention is to point out the folly of Lumenick’s argument—that complex social issues and historical events can be whittled down into one narrative, and that narrative should then be used to condemn or laud art. It may work in art, but it doesn’t work in reality. We don’t have to celebrate Gone with the Wind as an example of objective documentary filmmaking before we can recognize its cultural contribution as art or, in this case, a representation of a point of view that is different from our own.

In his column, Lumenick writes: “But what does it say about us as a nation if we continue to embrace a movie that, in the final analysis, stands for many of the same things as the Confederate flag that flutters so dramatically over the dead and wounded soldiers at the Atlanta train station just before the ‘GWTW’ intermission?”

The answer to this Yankee is simple: It recognizes the objective value of individual freedom of expression and a commitment to meaningful public discourse.


Evangelical Leader: ‘We Didn’t Make Up Our Views on Marriage and Sexuality, And We Can't Unmake Them'

While the odds are stacked in the short-term against Christians who oppose same-sex marriage, they are “not going to simply surrender” their views because of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, since they did not make them up in the first place, an evangelical leader said Sunday.

“People have to understand that people who hold my view based on deeply-held religious convictions aren’t going to simply surrender those things. We can’t,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“For us to change our views on marriage and sexuality would mean repudiating what we believe has been handed to us by Jesus and His apostles,” he continued. “We didn’t make up our views on marriage and sexuality, and we can’t unmake them.”

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4  ruling declaring that same-sex marriage is a right, Moore said evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox and other people of faith would continue to hold their views on marriage and sexuality, believing those views to be “in the common good.”

“We understand that, short-term, things are very stacked against us here. But we ought to have the sort of pluralistic American environment where we can agree to disagree and where we can make our case without having our consciences paved over by those who would seek to do so.”

Moore said supporters of traditional marriage would have to emulate the pro-life movement and accept the struggle will be a long-term one.

“I don't think that an infinitely elastic view of marriage is sustainable. And I think that we have to be the people who keep the light lit to the old ways when it comes to marriage and family,” he said.

“And that’s going to be a generation-long skirmish. It’s not going to be something that’s going to be resolved in a presidential election or two.”

Asked what he would advise believers when a family member or friend enters into a same-sex marriage, Moore replied, “We believe in loving all people and respecting all people, including our gay and lesbian neighbors.”

“And so holding to our convictions doesn't mean that we dispense with human kindness and actually with gospel-, spirit-driven kindness. It means that those two things go together. We have to be people of both truth and grace, of conviction and kindness,” he said. “And I think that’s what most Christians are doing now and have been doing for quite some time.”


Enough With the Outrage Police: Free Speech Matters

Americans take justifiable pride in their right to free speech. People may be muzzled by their government in places such as Cuba and North Korea, but not here. You can say what’s on your mind without fear of prosecution.

But can you do so without fear of persecution? More and more, it seems, the answer is no. Say the “wrong” thing, and the Outrage Police swarm you. Do we need a communist government to shut down debate when we’re eager to do it ourselves?

To be sure, political correctness isn’t a new phenomenon. Aggrieved parties throughout history have struggled to suppress viewpoints they disagreed with. But we live in an age where, for example, refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding qualifies you for a figurative firing squad (figurative as of this writing, but at the rate things are going, watch out).

Perhaps a better sign of how things have changed for the worst on the free-expression front is the “open letter” that a San Diego State student named Anthony Berteaux wrote recently to comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld had been quoted as saying he doesn’t play colleges anymore because of how politically correct (PC) they’ve become. Berteaux took issue with this.

Did Berteaux deny that colleges are PC? No. Did he say, “Say whatever you want, Jerry—it’s a free country”? No. Berteaux had a higher mission:

“[C]omedy in our progressive society today can no longer afford to be crass, or provocative for the sake of being offensive. Sexist humor and racist humor can no longer exist in comedy because these concepts are based on archaic ideals that have perpetrated injustice against minorities in the past.

“Provocative humor, such as ones dealing with topics of race and gender politics, can be crass and vulgar, but underlying it must be a context that spurs social dialogue about these respective issues. There needs to be a message, a central truth behind comedy for it to work as humor.”

It is, of course, amusing to see one of the world’s most famous comedians getting amateur advice about what will “work as humor.” But the underlying message—say the right thing in the right way or get lost—is no laughing matter. If we’ve gotten to the point where we’re more afraid of offending people than we are about losing our freedom to speak up, our so-called “progressive society” is actually regressing.

I wish I could say Berteaux is the exception to the rule, but a disturbing number of people, especially in his age bracket, are more concerned with shutting down a debate, not trying to win it. They’re the reason, for example, that campus speakers known for their un-PC views are often told not to bother coming. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), in fact, refers to commencement time as “disinvitation season.”

The idea of hosting speakers with a provocative message—of engaging them in debate and actually, oh, learning something—seems lost on these students. They’ve grown up in such a bubble—nurtured by overprotective teachers and parents, and reinforced by the self-Balkanizing nature of social media—that they’re scandalized by the very idea that an opposing viewpoint even exists.

Fortunately, there are students willing to buck this trend. Groups such as FIRE can supply many examples, but one I found particularly striking was the case of Anthony Vizzone. He ran afoul of school administrators when he was trying to recruit members for his Young Americans for Liberty chapter at the University of Hawaii.

His offense? Handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution outside of the “free speech zone” on campus. The good news is, it ended well: Vizzone worked with FIRE to join a lawsuit against the university and get this policy overturned.

But how many students are willing to push back? For that matter, how many adults challenge the Outrage Police?

It’s up to all of us to ensure that the shelves in the “marketplace of ideas” remain well stocked.



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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