Sunday, August 16, 2015
Leftist Jews are a strange lot: Michael Brull, for example
Most Leftist Jews are in the USA but there are quite a few in Israel too. Australia has one (though not the only one) in the person of Michael Brull, who writes for the far-Left "New Matilda". In a recent article he condemns Israel as "racist". The way Leftists use "racist", it usually means something like "normal" so that is of scant interest.
What got me was the way he wrote of Israel's most recent intervention in Gaza: "Israel invaded and bombed Gaza last year". No mention that it was an attempt by Israel to stop the constant rocketing of Israel from Gaza. It was even pretty successful at that. How does anyone manage to close their eyes to that? The man seems deep into Freudian denial, a serious neurosis. As an articulate Jew he can hardly be unaware of the whole story.
And we have this from him:
"In a way, Australia’s an extreme example. A lot of racism passes without comment or condemnation here. Perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising: Australia’s history is among the most racist on the planet. Because of the White Australia policy, and the devastation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Australia is still overwhelmingly white. Ethnic minorities have struggled to gain enough power, influence, and even visibility to successfully resist the kind of bigotry and prejudice that pervades our society, major institutions and halls of power."
He completely overlooks Australia's biggest minority -- about 5% of our population: The Chinese. There are people from various Asian sources in Australia but, regardless of source, most of them are Han Chinese. Why is that? Because the unfortunate Han are persecuted everywhere in Asia except in their homeland. There are Chinese minorities throughout Asia, particularly in SouthEast Asia. There are even Chinese restaurants in Bombay. I ate in one once.
But whenever there is some sort of political upheaval, the Han are blamed for what is wrong and get it in the neck. Their homes are burnt, their businesses looted and they are all to often killed or driven out: Quite reminiscent of Jewish history in Europe. And the Han are of course well aware of their marginal status in the countries concerned. So at every opportunity many who can do so get out -- mostly to countries with European populations, such as Australia.
Australia? That hotbed of racism? The Han clearly don't share the Leftist view that Australia is a hotbed of racism. They have been coming for many years so would have heard by now if Australia was indeed a hotbed of racism.
There have always been Han in Australia. My mother's grocer was a Chinaman. But the big influx started in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. Most of the "boat-people" from Vietnam were Han, fleeing racist Vietnamese. They got onto rickety boats and came to Australia at the risk of their lives. Many of them disappeared at sea.
Like John Howard, I was apprehensive about the Chinese influx. I was aware of the old "White Australia policy" from Federation days (abolished by the conservative government of Harold Holt in 1966) so thought that the Chinese influx might incite race riots. Both Howard and I were wrong. We underestimated our fellow Australians. The Chinese were absorbed without a murmur.
But were they? I personally have certainly seen no evidence of animus against them but statistical evidence is hard to find. I have been a keen reader of the news for most of my 72 years and I recollect no accounts of anti-Chinese riots. I have heard grumbles once or twice about them but that is all. And race-relations are after all a major interest of mine. I have had over 100 papers on the subject published in the academic journals. So neither in the popular nor the academic literature have I seen any mention of anti-Chinese upheavals in Australia. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence but I think it is pretty indicative in this case.
There are of course tales of minor discrimination at school and such places but the "cool kids" at school discriminate against members of their own ethnic group so that means nothing if taken in context. The upshot is that the Han move unhindered among us as our medical specialist, our pharmacist and our restaurateur (etc.)
And something that is very vivid about race relations in Australia is the huge frequency of little Chinese ladies paired with tall Caucasian men. I see examples of it almost every day in the shopping centre I usually go to. Neither the man nor the girlfriend on his arm seem to realize that they are racists!
So why is all that important? Because it shows that Australians are NOT racist. If they were, a visibly different group like the Han would surely be persecuted. They are not. So if Australians are critical of other ethnic groups, it is because of something other than racism. Southeast Asians are demonstrably racist but Australians are not.
And it is far from clear that Australians were ever racist in any serious sense. As is set out extensively here, the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901 was primarily devoted to protecting existing Australian workers from low-wage competition. Some of the speeches made in support of the Act utilized the racist beliefs that were common worldwide at the time but the basic motivation is perfectly clear if you look at all of what led up to the Act.
There were some anti-Chinese riots on the goldfields of the 19th century but they were again largely economically motivated. The Chinese miners were taking away a lot of the gold. And most of the people on the goldfields at that time were immigrants, not native-born Australians. A bit more on racial attitudes in Australia of the early days here
Now that I have looked at what Brull did not cover, let me look at what he did cover. The bulk of his article is an assemblage of criticisms of Islam. He rightly says that Islam is not monolithic and that the majority cannot be blamed for the deeds of a few.
Since it is clear that Australians are not racist, however, such criticisms cannot be taken as flowing from racism. Even more fundamentally, Islam is a religion, not a race. Muslims are of many races and you can change your religion but not your race. So on that ground also Brull's claim of Australian racism falls by the wayside.
But is criticism of Islam legitimate and proper? Brull clearly thinks not. But why not? Leftists sometimes make swingeing criticisms of Christians so why are similar criticisms of Islam not allowed? Both are major religions. I await Brull's article assembling and condemning Leftist criticisms of Christians.
So what is wrong with Brull? Why all the selective reporting? I cannot believe that he is unaware of the sort of thing that I have just covered and he seems too articulate to be a raving nutter. So I must conclude that he knows perfectly well that what he writes is propaganda, not balanced reporting. He knows that, in typical Leftist style, he is reporting only those things that suit him. He is a crook.
But why is he a crook? It is because his writing is a servant to his hate, not any attempt at an accurate picture of the world.
But why is he suffused with hate for the world about him? In his case it is moderately clear. He is a Jew. And the world that Jews inhabit has been incredibly hostile to them. Hating that world is understandable, if stupid. The world has changed. Outside Muslim lands, Jews are no longer endangered. But Jews do tend to feel the burden of the past heavily upon them, which is why a big majority of American Jews are Leftist. Leftists are people who, for whatever reason, hate the world about them: "the system" or the "status quo" if you like. Brull has joined that sorry fraternity.
But it is surely strange that, despite their great intellectual gifts, so many Ashkenazim seem incapable of truly critical thinking where politics is concerned. From Moses onwards, the Hebrew prophets condemned Jews for their whoring after false Gods. Not much seems to have changed. Emotion swamps reason still.
Another one of Britain's wonderful multiculturalists
A dim-witted dad is being deported from Britain - after refusing to pay a £20 bill at a Frankie and Benny's restaurant.
Dozy Amit Naithani, 30, did a runner from the New York-style chain eatery and led police on a high-speed chase - which ended with him crashing a stolen Mercedes.
Driving at up to 40mph above the speed limit, Naithani drove through red lights, "dangerously" overtook a vehicle on a blind bend, and even struck an off-duty police officer, while speeding through Crawley, West Sussex.
The father-of-two, whose partner is currently pregnant, will be deported back to his former home of Kenya after serving a 20 month jail sentence.
At Lewes Crown Court on Monday, he admitted charges of aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst disqualified, fraud, failing to stop when ordered to do so by a police constable, failing to give a specimen of breath and driving without insurance.
Kriston Berlevy, prosecuting, told the court: "The car, a new 15-plate A-class Mercedes, was stolen from Brent Cross on July 5.
"Some 12 days later this defendant entered an eatery in Crawley, where he ordered £19.30 worth of food and alcohol. "He was refused a final drink by waiting staff and attempted to leave without paying, before being challenged by one of the management.
"He said he had a friend inside who would pay, before claiming he had money in his car. "The defendant went out to the stolen Mercedes, where he shut himself inside the vehicle and locked the doors.
"An off-duty police officer who happened to be in the area became aware of the situation and approached the vehicle. "As he did so the defendant drove off and hit a black Lexus before striking the off-duty officer. "It made him stumble but he did not suffer any noticeable injuries."
The off-duty officer managed to write down the number plate of the Mercedes, which led to police heading out to find the car.
The court heard Naithani refused to give a breath specimen at the police station and told officers "f*** this I can't be arsed".
Lance Whiteford, defending, said: "It is mystery why this bright young man gets into huge amounts of trouble. "He has just completed a degree in forensic science and sociology at London Metropolitan University, where he achieved a 2:1."
Mr Whiteford added that Naithani moved to the UK with his mother at the age of four and has recently been served papers by immigration officers seeking to deport him back to Kenya.
Naithani was jailed for a total of 20 months and disqualified from driving for four years. During sentencing, Judge Charles Kemp said: "This is a blatant piece of thoroughly dangerous driving.
"It is fortunate, and I am surprised, no one was injured.
"You drove through red lights and onto the opposite lane of the road causing traffic to swerve to avoid you."
Christian baker who refused to make a gay wedding cake cannot use his religious beliefs as a defense, court rules
A Christian baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay marriage ceremony cannot use his religious beliefs as a defense, a court has ruled.
Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop near Denver, Colorado, was accused of discrimination after refusing to bake a wedding cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012.
Philips said forcing him to make cakes for gay marriage ceremonies violated his right to freedom of speech and his religious freedoms, but today the Colorado Court of Appeals rejected his argument.
The three-judge panel said that refusing to bake a cake for Mullins and Craig clearly violated Colorado's anti-discrimination laws.
The judges said the Colorado Anti Discrimination Act (CADA) prohibits businesses from refusing services on offer to the general public to people based on religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.
Philips will now face a fine if he refuses to bake another one of the cakes, is required to train his staff in anti-discrimination law, and will need to submit a quarterly compliance survey.
The case began back in 2012 after Mullins and Craig had gone to Massachusetts to get married, as Colorado only permitted same-sex civil unions at the time.
Once they had returned to Colorado they planned to celebrate with family and friends, and ordered the cake from Philips.
Philips refused, and when he was taken to court, argued that wedding cakes inherently carry a celebratory message about gay marriage, and therefore baking one was akin to asking him to support gay marriage, which his religious beliefs forbid.
In 2013, Judge Robert N. Spencer of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts ruled that Philips had broken the law.
His decision was backed up by a similar ruling the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in May 2014.
However, Philips appealed, and today the Court of Appeals delivered its verdict, agreeing that he had breached the law.
In their ruling, the judges said: 'Nothing in the record supports the conclusion that a reasonable observer would interpret Masterpiece's providing a wedding cake for a same-sex couple as an endorsement of same-sex marriage rather than a reflection of its desire to conduct business in accordance with Colorado's public accommodations law.'
The judges said that Philips remains free to continue espousing his beliefs, both inside and outside the bakery, including opposition to gay marriage.
'However, if [he] wishes to operate as a public accommodation and conduct business within the State of Colorado, CADA prohibits it from picking and choosing customers based on their sexual orientation,' the judges added.
Lawyers representing Philips said they had not ruled out taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that many more cases are likely to occur following a recent ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage.
In recent cases elsewhere, a bakery in the Portland, Oregon, area that declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple two years ago was ordered to pay $135,000 in damages in July.
The owners of Sweet Cakes, Melissa and Aaron Klein, refused to make a cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer saying doing so would violate their religious freedom, but the argument was again rejected.
Two years ago, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a photographer who wouldn't take pictures of a gay couple's 2006 commitment ceremony violated the state's anti-discrimination law.
And in Washington state, a florist has been fighting a lawsuit filed after she refused to provide services for a gay wedding in 2013.
The EU is digging Orwell’s ‘memory holes’ across the internet
To all of Google’s glowing self-descriptions, it appears we must add another: Google as global fighter for freedom of expression and information. The internet giant has just made headlines around the world by rejecting a demand from the French data protection authority to extend the EU-backed ‘right to be forgotten’ across all of its platforms. This would mean, for example, that if the company granted a request to remove a link from google.fr or google.co.uk, it would automatically be obliged to remove the same link from google.com.
In response to the French demand, backed by threats of repeated fines, Google declared that, ‘as a matter of principle, we respectfully disagree with the idea that a national data protection authority can assert global authority to control the content that people can access around the world’.
You need not search very hard to find that, ‘respectfully’, the search engine’s bold words are empty google-degook. Anti-corporate critics have pointed out that Google itself seems to have few qualms about controlling what information people are permitted to publish online. More pertinently, Google has done all in its power to enforce the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ rules within European states, apparently striving to live up to Jeffrey Rosen’s warning when the rules were first proposed in 2012 that the company risked becoming ‘censor-in-chief for the European Union’.
Google’s ‘defiant’ response to the French authorities’ latest demand even began by pleading that ‘we’ve worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten ruling thoughtfully and comprehensively in Europe, and we’ll continue to do so’. Some defiance. The latest recorded figures show Google had received 290,353 requests to remove web links under the 2014 ‘right to be forgotten’ rules, covering more than one million web pages, and agreed to remove some 41 per cent of them. Google might have made a token PR stand against the internationalisation of the right to be forgotten, but it seems happy to support a form of ‘censorship in one country’.
Of course, for all its hipster-style pretensions, Google remains just a corporation, not a political campaign, and nobody should rely on it to fight their battles. Behind the posturing there is a need to remind the world that the EU’s right to be forgotten rules pose a real threat to freedom of expression for us all within every state, and reinforce a wider culture of conformism and safety-first creeping across the internet.
As my book Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? observes, ‘The concept of “Memory Holes”, down which inconvenient truths of history can be dropped and forgotten, was introduced into fiction by George Orwell in 1948, in his classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Memory Holes were eventually opened up in the real world (or at least, the internet) by the Orwellian powers of the European Court of Justice in 2014.’
In its landmark ruling of May 2014, the European Court of Justice upheld the so-called ‘Right to be Forgotten’ by ordering Google to remove a link to a Spanish newspaper article. A Spaniard, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, wanted to bury a 1998 report that his house was to be auctioned off to pay his debts. Señor Gonzalez complained that, anytime anybody Googled him, this embarrassing reminder of past financial difficulties was still prominent among the search results. He not only wanted to forget about that episode, but wanted to force everybody else to forget about it, too, by effectively purging it from the internet. Europe’s top court concurred and insisted the rules would be enforced across the web.
What harm could it do to allow anybody to draw an online veil over their past indiscretions? And what does gawping at other people’s embarrassments have to do with free speech, anyway? In fact, the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling has far-reaching implications for freedom of expression online, potentially stretching over the Atlantic and right around the worldwide web.
The European law gives individuals and institutions the right to demand that search engines such as Google must de-list postings containing ‘outdated’ or ‘irrelevant’ information. The Euro authorities insist that this cannot be construed as censorship, since the material will not actually be removed from the internet – it will simply not be linked to by Google and Co anymore. When plans for these regulations were first announced in 2012, the European Commission’s vice-president said: ‘It is clear that the right to be forgotten cannot amount to a right of the total erasure of history.’ That sounds like rewriting history. If material is not listed by search engines, it is effectively invisible to most online and ceases to exist as public information.
No, no, say the authorities, of course we are not banning this controversial book! We are simply ordering all libraries and bookshops to remove it from their shelves and websites forthwith. You will still be at liberty to read it – if you can find a copy anywhere, or even spot a reference to its existence . . .
Supporters of the right to be forgotten will insist that ‘this is not a free-speech issue’. They claim that the EU’s new rules are intended simply to defend the privacy and personal data of innocent people, not to encroach on anybody else’s freedom. Today, nobody ever admits that they are attacking freedom of expression. They are only ever upholding the inalienable rights of some victims – even if it is, in this case, the hitherto unheard-of ‘right’ to be forgotten and erased from the internet. But the right to be forgotten is a free-speech issue. It strikes at both the historic freedom to report the truth – and the liberty to read it, and to remember.
The right to report events and put history on the record has long been a central part of the struggle for freedom of expression and of the press. One of the first great fights for that freedom in Britain was the eighteenth-century campaign fought by John Wilkes and other heroes for the liberty to publish reports of what politicians said in parliament. That battle was eventually won, after Wilkes and his allies had been imprisoned, sent to the Tower of London and outlawed, and 50,000 Londoners had rioted outside parliament in their support. Until then, it was illegal for anybody to expose what His Majesty’s Government was up to behind the walls of the Palace of Westminster. Britain’s rulers ruled in effective secrecy – and were determined to retain their right to be hidden from history, or at least to write their history as they saw fit.
The right to record and to remember what has happened, and who did what to whom, is a crucial component of the freedom of expression. And there is a flipside to freedom of speech that is far too often forgotten. That is the right of the reader, listener and viewer to access all of the facts and every side of an argument, and then to judge for themselves what they believe to be true.
The ability of the reader or viewer to act as a morally autonomous adult is as vital a freedom as the liberty to speak. It means making choices and decisions on the basis of all the available information and ideas, without intervention from any other parental figure saying You-can’t-read-that. The ‘right to be forgotten’ undermines both sides of the free-speech principle – the ability to tell and record the truth as you understand it, and the freedom to think and to judge everything for yourself.
Everybody has things in their past they would rather erase from memory. That’s life, and it can be tough. The ‘right to be forgotten’ is too high a price to pay for retrospectively trying to protect somebody’s feelings.
Such an attempt at mass memory-erasure echoes Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. In Orwell’s novel, Big Brother’s system of authoritarian control was brutal. As O’Brien of the Thought Police tells the protagonist, Winston Smith, ‘If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever’. But it is not just about brutality. It also involves thought control and the manipulation of history. One of Big Brother’s slogans is, ‘Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’.
To that end, Winston Smith’s job at the Ministry of Truth involves continually rewriting and deleting articles from past editions of the official newspaper, The Times, so that the historical record will suit the regime’s current political needs. The fact that today’s mortal enemies had been yesterday’s close allies can be conveniently removed from the records; and a former leading Party member who has fallen from favour can have his past achievements erased from official history overnight. The slots into which these excised stories are stuffed are nicknamed ‘memory holes’:
‘When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.’
Later, when O’Brien tortures Smith, the member of the Thought Police produces a photograph that Smith knows is evidence of a cover-up by the ruling Party. Then O’Brien stuffs the evidence into a memory hole, and denies that it ever existed or that he has any memory of having seen or destroyed it. ‘“Ashes”, he said, “Not even identifiable ashes. Dust. It does not exist. It never existed.”’
True, the EU court has not ordered any torture or sanctioned any stamping of boots on human faces. Europe’s highest court has, however, brought to life something that Orwell could only fictionalise, and in the heart of the democratic West. Its legal endorsement of the ‘right to be forgotten’ risks creating huge memory holes at the heart of the internet, into which people can cast all manner of unwanted memories and facts from the past.
It sometimes seems as if, on one hand, our culture is unhealthily obsessed with alleged conspiracies and sex crimes from the distant past, often based on little more than rumour and gossip. On the other hand there is a willingness effectively to erase hard but inconvenient facts about the recent past from the internet. In this context the ‘right to be forgotten’ is not just a narrow legal problem, but reinforces a wider culture of conformism and if-in-doubt-take-it-down on the worldwide web.
We should remember (if we are still permitted to) that the internet has been such a boon to writers and readers partly because it made it so much easier to research and recall what has been said and done. The old cliché about today’s newspapers being disposable, ‘tomorrow’s fish-and-chip wrappers’, is no longer true – what is written or reported in the press and elsewhere can now be there for good, for all to see, paywalls allowing. Some are obviously uncomfortable about this. But that’s no reason to allow them to use the modern language of exaggerated ‘rights’ to turn recent history into today’s disposable fast-food wrappers.
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.