Tuesday, August 18, 2015
When Corbynites attack
Like the cybernats, Jeremy Corbyn’s fans can’t stomach dissent. Corbyn is a British far-Leftist
With his plain and pious words about peace, equality, disarmament and solidarity, and his devout, priestly demeanour, it’s no wonder Labour leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn cuts something of a messianic figure. Whereas that buffoonish demagogue Russell Brand only looks like Jesus Christ, our evidently sincere JC does have more of the aura of an earthly saviour, a man many entrust to perform miracles. Yet, as experience tells us, devotional fervour can easily tip over into hysteria.
This week, Alastair Campbell said that the current eruption of ‘Corbynmania’ was akin to ‘what happened when Diana died’. Worse still, popular delirium can foster a herd mentality that leads to the persecution of dissenters and opponents. This is especially the case when a movement’s mentality is half-detached from reality. Protecting benefits, ending austerity, raising taxes on the wealthiest, abolishing university tuition fees, reopening coal mines: Corbynomics is basically the equivalent of saying ‘wouldn’t it be great if all this Monopoly money was free?’.
On Tuesday, Rachel Sylvester of The Times remarked on ‘the online Corbynite bullies who describe the supporters of other candidates as “fascists”’. This doesn’t surprise me. Twitter and the comments section of the Guardian confirm Sylvester’s observation. And as a Guardian profile of Corbyn noted this week: ‘Labour’s grief-fuelled madness [represents an] angry backlash at the party leadership for the mistakes of Blairism’; and Corbyn’s creed of Bennite socialism represents the ‘long overdue awakening by the true keepers of Labour’s soul’.
The Corbynite movement’s heady cocktail of mesmeric utopianism and intemperate self-righteousness against the evil, selfish Tories and impure Labour apostates is borne out of a sense of grievance. And no one does sanctimonious fury better than resentful, self-styled victims – of capitalism, globalisation, privatisation and David Cameron and his rich Etonian pals and chums in the City.
In this respect Corbyn (who by all accounts is a pleasant man) is a successor to that bellowing clown George Galloway – a man who neatly combines plenty of pleasing anti-military, pro-equality platitudes with obnoxious behaviour and dubious remarks about Israelis. The Corbynistas are comparable to the Socialist Workers’ Party or the Scottish National Party, organisations that tick all the nice, obligatory leftwing boxes, yet whose shouty hardcore are likewise renowned for their bullying and hooliganism.
This mindset also afflicts today’s pietistical, aggrieved feminists, who not only want to censor anything that might further belittle their poor old selves, but also who are especially antagonistic towards women who dissent from their belief in ‘everyday sexism’. And it’s no coincidence that the most hideously intolerant and violent of all these groupings, the Islamists, are also those who have nurtured the most monstrous sense of self-pity and injustice - against the West, women and those two successful states, the USA and Israel. They also possess the strongest beliefs and a sense of unshakeable righteousness. To paraphrase Yeats, the worst types are always full of passionate intensity.
And the best lack all conviction. The paradoxical thing is that in politics, you barely ever get any of this belligerent carry-on from traditional conservatives, those supposed ogres who are meant to be horrid and uncaring. This is because traditional conservatives are pragmatists and empiricists who aren’t spurred on or shackled by ideology (as opposed to neocons, neoliberals and right-wing libertarians, who are ideologues). Conservatives don’t become enraged when people don’t adhere to their dogma or fit into their vision of the world - because they are free from dogma and ideology in the first place. Appreciating, too, that humans are flawed and that life can just be unfair sometimes, they are also not given to a sense of victimhood.
The more idealistic and the more conspicuously compassionate is a voter, the more unpleasant and intolerant he or she is likely to be. As Nietzsche – that arch-idealist – wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883): ‘Alas, where in the world have there been greater follies than with the compassionate? And what in the world has caused more suffering than the follies of the compassionate?’ We should forever beware the believers and braggarts who loudly profess to care.
Former Broadcaster Sues Fox Sports for ‘Pigeonholing’ Him as ‘Anti-Gay’
Craig James, a former professional football player and respected sportscaster, is suing Fox Sports Southwest, alleging that the broadcast network fired him because of his religious beliefs on homosexuality and marriage.
After working at the network for only a few days—and hosting one broadcast—James was terminated by Fox Sports on Sep. 1, 2013.
A senior vice president at the network suggested that the decision was based on statements James made about homosexuality and same-sex marriage—expressed more than a year prior to being hired at Fox Sports while campaigning to run for Senate.
James ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2012, eventually losing to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
“We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department,” Lou D’Ermilio, Fox Sports Southwest’s senior vice president of communications, told the Dallas Morning News in early September 2013. “He couldn’t say those things here.”
In a 2012 Republican debate, James said he thinks being gay is “a choice” and that society “should not give benefits to those civil unions.”
“The fact that a major corporation would reach back into my past and hold something against me because of an honest answer that the public deserved—from me as a candidate—and fire me, that’s troubling,” James told The Daily Signal in an exclusive interview.
Companies can typically terminate employees for a range of reasons, but under the Texas Commission of Human Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate against employees because of religion (among other characteristics such as sex, age and race).
Texas does not have employment laws protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation, but James maintains he did not say “one thing” about his faith while working at Fox Sports.
According to his lawyer, James has never faced discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation, either.
James said the backlash he received after Fox Sports spoke out about his termination left him “unable” to get a job in the sports broadcasting agency.
The network, he said, “pigeonholed me into this anti-gay guy.”
“My agent immediately told me I was radioactive,” James said. “If someone stepped out and hired me right now, they would have to answer to a very vocal minority.”
James has since taken a job at the Family Research Council, a conservative non-profit based in Washington, D.C., and said the situation cost him “friends, business relationships and numerous business opportunities.”
In the lawsuit, filed on August 3, James’ attorneys argue for significant damages, including “monetary relief of $100,000 or more, declaratory relief, punitive/exemplary damages and attorney’s fees.”
Yet James maintains that the lawsuit is about more than money.
“Religious liberty is on trial,” James said. “It’s really important that people recognize this isn’t about me. This is about all of us being able to enjoy our religious liberty and freedoms. That is so important.”
Fox Sports denies allegations that its decision to terminate James was based on his religious beliefs and told The Daily Signal:
"[T]he decision not to use Craig James in our college football coverage was based on the perception that he abused a previous on-air position to further a personal agenda. Mr. James is a polarizing figure in the college sports community because of that perception. The decision not to use Mr. James had nothing to do with his religious beliefs and we did not discriminate against him in any way. Fox respects every person’s right to freedom of religion and prohibits discrimination in any form, including discrimination based on religion. The allegations are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves against them."
When asked specifically about the senior vice president’s interview with the Dallas Morning News shortly after the network parted ways with James, Fox Sports declined to comment.
James says his situation reflects a growing trend in corporate America, to “hold down” politically unpopular opinions.
“What I believe has happened is we’ve got more employers being emboldened to hold down employees of religious belief systems, particularly Christians,” James said. “They are holding it against a Christian for their belief, and that’s not right.”
Hiram Sasser, who is one of James’ lawyers at the conservative Liberty Institute, argued that in today’s political environment, it’s almost impossible to work at a “Fortune 500” company and hold religious views about marriage.
If you work for a Fortune 500 company and you have religious beliefs that compel you to believe in traditional marriage and you have expressed those beliefs in a public forum, there’s only two reasons you haven’t been fired: One is your boss doesn’t know about it. Or two, which is related to that, is that no one has come after you to try to get your boss to fire you.
Fox Sports has until the end of the month to respond to the lawsuit.
Show me the way to poverty
In a recent speech in Bolivia, Pope Francis voiced his indictment of what he calls “the globalization of exclusion and indifference.” Speaking of what he believes to be problems universal to Latin America, he wishes, “May the cry of the excluded be heard in Latin America and throughout the world.” But who, I wonder, are they listening to?
It is true that the plight of the poor in Latin America can be tragic. Francis shared the harrowing stories he heard about people struggling to survive, lacking basic human rights and the means to support themselves. But it is not at all true that their voices have not been heard. As Samuel Gregg recently pointed out, Latin American politics have been dominated by demagoguery for decades. And unfortunately the Pope’s own solutions to the problems of the poor are difficult to differentiate from the same protectionist populism that has kept so many in poverty in Latin America for so long.
Pope Francis boldly calls for “change, real change, structural change.” What change would Pope Francis like to see? He makes this clear: “It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life.” So far so good. Who doesn’t want that?
So what stands in the way, according to the pontiff?—“corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor.” Really?
Business, credit, trade, and fiscal responsibility are marks of healthy economies, not the problem, popular as it may be to denounce them. Indeed, these are also marks of economies that effectively care for “Mother Earth,” whose plight the Pope claims “the most important [task] facing us today.” That’s right, more important than the plight of the poor, to His Holiness, is the plight of trees, water, and lower animals.
That moral confusion aside, is there any way we could study what policies correlate with the Pope’s laudable goals? As it turns out, there is. The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) ranks countries based upon an aggregate rating of economic growth, care for the environment, and health and living conditions—precisely the measures the Pope seems to care most about. Yet of the top 20 countries on the most recent HDI ranking, 18 also rank as “free” or “mostly free” on the most recent Heritage Index of Economic Freedom.
The only two exceptions were Liechtenstein, which wasn’t ranked at all by Heritage, and France, which was ranked 20th of the 20 according to the HDI, and which once was far more economically free. The takeaway? Nearly all of the top countries that have the sort of economies the Pope wants are also characterized by fiscal responsibility, openness to trade, accessible credit, and generally business-friendly environments. That is, precisely the policies that the pope decries.
Now, it might be unfair of me to criticize Francis for not being an economist . . . or, for that matter, not even being familiar with the basic conditions of economic growth taught in any Econ 101 course. At least he didn’t forget to mention Jesus. But it shouldn’t be controversial to say that he is still speaking outside of his competence and vocation. It is one thing to call attention to the moral roots of economic problems; it is another to pass judgment upon which prudential policies are the best means to moral ends.
Gone are the days of a pontiff who would only speak with great caution and nuance on such matters, and then in favor of, rather than against, the basic tenets of a free economy. As Pope John Paul II put it in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus:
Can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?
Acknowledging the answer to be complex, he cautiously answered yes, and rightly so, proposing that the free economy “ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World.” Too many of these countries, including in Latin America, are still yet to experience such freedom, however. And John Paul’s most recent successor isn’t helping them see what a help it could be.
Instead, while actual dictators, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and the Castro brothers in Cuba, sit at the head of Latin American countries, Francis prefers to denounce the “subtle dictatorship” of the economic freedom so few Latin Americans have been fortunate enough to enjoy. And it is for this reason, whether they know it or not, that the poor are excluded and cry out for justice.
It is not economic liberty but high taxes and overregulation that prop up “the domination of the big corporations” in Latin America. Only big corporations can afford to pay such taxes, hire the legal help to comply with such regulations, or otherwise bribe their way into business, undermining the rule of law. The profile of Latin America called Doing Business 2014 ranks it as one of the most difficult regions in the world to start a business. Bolivia, where the Pope decried the supposed evils of economic freedom, ranks 171 out of 189 countries in the world. Maduro’s Venezuela ranks 181.
The Pope is right to say, “This system runs counter to the plan of Jesus,” who came “to preach good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18). But he is wrong to identify that system with basic pillars of economic freedom. With the exception of Chile, economic freedom is just as scarce in Latin America as are other basic human rights, not to mention effective care for “Mother Earth.”
The poor there still wait for good news regarding their material circumstances, despite the Pope’s best intentions to spread a “globalization of hope.” He told the people there that they could take action themselves, and admirably so. But as long as their hands are tied by protectionist measures, and as long as popes and politicians continue to commend such policies to the people, I’m afraid they will excluded from the prosperity for which they hope.
That air-conditioning story – desperately seeking sexism
‘Is office air-conditioning a sexist conspiracy?’, asked Jezebel recently. In this instance, it seems a simple ‘no’ will not suffice. A recent report published in the austere journal Nature and Climate Change suggested that recalibrating air-conditioning systems could save companies money as well as reduce carbon emissions. It also claimed that most air-conditioning systems are hopelessly out of date, as they are calibrated in accordance with the metabolic rate of the average 40-year-old man.
This anodyne observation – in a journal with a readership that can’t amount to many more people than the authors themselves – has nevertheless been widely reported and commented on. Signs of sexism in society, it seems, are now sought out in even the driest of academic publications. So it was that this report was swiftly recast as a comment on male privilege in the workplace - it was even argued that the report proves that while men bend their environment to their will, by making sure the temperature is comfortable for them, women are simply forced to adapt.
Reading some of the coverage, you might think large numbers of women work in industrial fridges. A piece in the Telegraph even listed the various health problems that might arise from a cold working environment. The injustice is truly heartbreaking.
But there’s hope yet for frozen female office workers: the hot air produced by this story is enough to keep anyone warm.
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.