Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Why after this weekend I cry for England and St George
It's a funny old thing being English. We can't talk about death because it's upsetting, men die from prostate cancer because they would rather not show their bottom to a doctor, and we wait until we get in the car before yelling at our husbands for showing us up in front of our friends.
When something becomes a bit awkward or unsightly, we try to hide it away, replacing it with something better, more acceptable.
Politicians hide bad news behind major announcements or in the summer recess when journalists are on holiday and families are stuck in Sharm El Sheikh.
Girls hide their faces behind make-up and filters to better fit in with their friends, and women buy a new necklace when they feel frumpy, because jewellery doesn't judge you on last night's fish and chips.
Just look what we've done with Saint George — consigned him to the corners of our country where only a patriotic few celebrate him, and given his place to a new, more forgiving figure: Shakespeare.
Shakespeare was everywhere on April 23, the 400th anniversary of his death and, oddly, also the 452nd anniversary of his birth.
He managed to monopolise the attention of the BBC, take over Google Doodle, and focus the attention of a whole new generation in schools across the country.
Clearly we owe a lot to Shakespeare but as people gathered around open-air screens in the sleeting rain to watch Twelfth Night, dear Saint George was shoved unceremoniously into the wings.
Perhaps my view was skewed; I was in London, the multicultural Mecca, where, unless you are non-binary, a gender-fluid-Druid or an asylum-seeker from Syria, your credibility rating is on the floor, my friend.
If you need a visual reference for Acceptable Britain, the cherry-picked crowd fawning over President Obama (who almost bored himself to death talking to students) was a perfect example. That audience was more highly choreographed than Strictly Come Dancing.
Benedict Cumberbatch was there (nod to Shakespeare), Karren Brady was there (nod to leave EU), and so were a few hundred kids who learned English as a second language and speak to their mothers in Persian.
I appreciate that in far-flung corners of our beautiful island the stalwart few clung onto the ideals of our proud nation and flew the flag for Saint George.
In Liverpool and Manchester there were street parades to mark the occasion. Rural villages held tea parties, and Farage was wheeled out in UKIP country to demand a Bank Holiday.
My own children helped cement our flagpole into the garden and I invited my local Labour MP around to point at my flag and mock my intellect.
But all these efforts were slightly in vain. It seems Saint George is no longer the acceptable face of England – too nationalistic, too traditional, speaking to a pride it is no longer acceptable to feel.
My grandfather, who fought in the war, is still soldiering on at 98, but I am supposed to be more proud of a sexually 'non-binary' student who decided not to tell her parents about her choice not to identify as having male OR female sexuality but to announce it to the visiting President Obama instead.
Maria says s/he (depending on the day) has been overwhelmed by the support s/he has received. The Guardian says Maria is a true hero. I think of my grandfather and our forefathers and sigh.
Bristol City Council went for full disclosure and acknowledged they would not be celebrating Saint George's Day because the city was far too multicultural. They said: 'Bristol is a city with 91 different languages and cultures. It would be very difficult to commemorate them all.'
Which kind of misses the point. Bristol isn't in 91 different places, it's in England. There's a clue in that big red cross on the Union Jack. Or should we be getting rid of that too?
I have no doubt the city finds the budget to pay for translation services for these individuals, and to celebrate events that are part of Acceptable Britain, but clearly Saint George is no longer a part of this picture.
And I wonder just how much this picture has been retouched to accommodate the new order of things.
For now Shakespeare is culturally acceptable, despite some questionable things he wrote about a Moor (Othello) and a Jew (Shylock). So, for how much longer?
In time, Shakespeare will undoubtedly give way to an even more multicultural face for Britain — Malala's, perhaps. Or Idris Elba's.
Just as Boris — now portrayed as a racist for not buying into the doom-mongering of Obamageddon — may be replaced by the Muslim mayor-in-waiting, Sadiq Khan. And the new Head of the National Union of Students is another Muslim, who is fiercely critical of other faiths.
As I resist the relentless imposition of Acceptable Britain, I believe we need to celebrate the pride we had in the country we knew and to push back on obligatory multiculturalism. We need leaders who will challenge extremists and the communities who feed their brand of hate.
Most people still (just about) know the story about Saint George and the dragon. What is less talked about - and no doubt does him no favours - is the fact that his mother came from Palestine and that he was also venerated by the Crusaders.
To this day he is known and feared by Muslims but loved by Christian cultures throughout the Middle East as a symbol of protection against persecution and jihad.
Nobody is calling for a new Crusade. But as we watch the extremists burrow ever deeper into our Muslim communities, and brace ourselves for the next Isis atrocity in Europe - perhaps on a Mediterranean beach near you this summer - maybe we need St George now more than ever.
As Shakespeare wrote: 'Follow your spirit and upon this charge, cry God for Harry, England and Saint George'.
Demonizing Christianity as a Global Menace
By David Limbaugh
Can you believe anyone even organizes a "white privilege" conference these days — seven years into Barack Obama's presidency? Well, you'd better believe it, and you should also know that at least one of the speakers at this conference is militantly Christophobic.
The 17th annual White Privilege Conference was held in Philadelphia from April 15 to 17. Blake Neff of The Daily Caller attended the conference and reported that "activist and author Paul Kivel" actually claimed that "almost every dysfunction in society, from racism and sexism to global warming and a weak economy, is united by the ideology of 'Christian hegemony.'"
What's the problem, you ask? Well, in the United States, according to Kivel, between 7,000 and 10,000 predominantly white Christian men run the major institutions and "colonize our mind" with Christianity's core ideas, which leads to most of the world's problems.
Kivel identified three particularly severe problems in the modern world that are caused or worsened by Christianity. First are wars in the Middle East, which he says are a result of Christianity's effort to spread Western ideas and influence.
The Bible does direct Christians to spread the "good news" to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20). But Christianity started in the Middle East and spread outward from there. By A.D. 100, the Christian church had been established in regions throughout the Mediterranean, largely because of the Apostle Paul's missionary journeys (Acts 16-20) and the evangelism of Peter, John and others.
The Middle East has switched hands countless times throughout history — Romans, Byzantines, Persians, Seljuk Turks, Mongols, Ottomans, British, French, Italians and others.
Perhaps Kivel had in mind America's wars with Iraq in the past quarter-century and our effort to plant self-rule in the region. Though the wisdom of our nation-building effort can certainly be debated, our involvement is hardly the reason for the age-old conflicts in the Middle East, which, in all likelihood, will continue as long as the world does.
The second problem Kivel attributed to Christianity is the economic destruction it has caused because, wrote Neff, "it provides that God-like 'invisible hand' that supposedly drives market forces within a flawed capitalist system."
It is tragic that the left has successfully rewritten history to demonize capitalism as the source of poverty rather than the great engine of unprecedented prosperity it has been for the United States, the Western world and beyond.
Kivel identified the third problem as Christianity's conflict with "global warming," wrote Neff, "because under Christianity mankind has dominion over the Earth, rather than requiring that humans treat the Earth itself as 'sacred.'" Interestingly, Kivel is lexiconically challenged, as he failed to use the proper terminology for this vexing menace — "climate change."
The Bible gives man dominion over all other living things (Genesis 1:28), but it does not sanction man's abuse of the environment or other creatures. The Bible does not exhort mankind to deify "Mother Earth" as radical environmentalists do. But it does promote prudent stewardship, from the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) to God's commanding that the fields and vineyards be sown and harvested for six years but left fallow in the seventh year to replenish the soil's nutrients (Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-7).
Christianity, argued Kivel, also orients us to distinguish between good and evil, which forces us to adopt a "with us or against us" mentality. "There's nothing inherently good or bad about the weather or about people," Kivel insisted.
I'll concede that though the weather can be a destructive force, it is not capable of good or evil. But yes, the Bible definitely distinguishes between good and evil, and it is quite clear that all men are fallen.
Next, Kivel made the irrational leap that to distinguish between good and evil leads to condemnation of various things as worthy of destruction. From my perspective, however, it is not Christians but leftists such as Kivel who are most intolerant toward people and ideas of other religions or secularists.
Finally, Kivel castigated Christianity's "hierarchical" views that place "God over people, men over women, parents over children, (and) white people over people of color," which, in his view, inevitably leads to systems that justify or glorify oppression.
The Bible does — big surprise — place God (the Creator) over man (the creature), and it places parents over their children for the purpose of raising them through their formative years — an idea no doubt shocking to such leftists. But it does not teach that there are differences in human dignity; all people (male and female) are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27), which is intrinsically irrespective of race. It is rich for Kivel to argue that the Bible glorifies racial oppression when Christians were the leaders in the anti-slavery movement.
Before you dismiss all this as the thinking of a fringe leftist, please consider that it is a logical extension of "progressive" thinking that liberals, especially in the universities and the media, engage in every day. Indeed, it would be intellectually dishonest to deny that leftist race- and gender-baiting, as well as capitalism-bashing, permeate our university curricula throughout the United States. Everything involves identity categories — race, gender, income and the rest. Ironically, the left's obsession over race, gender and the like tends to diminish, rather than promote, human dignity and individuality.
Despite the skewed thinking and propaganda of leftists such as Kivel, Christianity, as abundant evidence demonstrates, has been a force of good in this world and continues to be.
Your Daughter Must Share a Restroom With a Man, and You Will Be Compelled to Agree
By Ben Shapiro
The rules of bigotry, according to the left, represent a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of nonsense.
This week, we learned that if you don't want your small daughter sharing a restroom with a man who thinks he is a woman, you are a bigot; if you are a woman who is uncomfortable with a man who thinks he is a woman whipping out his male genitalia to urinate in front of you, you are a bigot; if you are a religious person who doesn't want to participate in an activity you consider sinful, you are a bigot.
Conversely, if you are a man who thinks he is a woman and you want to force a small girl to pee next to you, you are a freedom fighter; if you are a large man who thinks he is a woman and you want to be one of the girls, right down to hulking into a Macy's ladies room, you are a hero; if you are a gay man and you want to force a religious person to serve you, you are a hero.
If all of this seems odd, that's because it is.
It's obviously logically incoherent, to begin with. The left insists that a man who believes he is a woman must be treated as one, even if his biology dictates that he is a male. However, if a man believes he is a man, he cannot discuss vital issues of national import (like abortion) since he lacks the vital prerequisite: a womb. Men cannot understand women, the logic seems to run, unless they are women.
But men cannot be women, of course, except in the fevered imaginations of people on the left. Even the left doesn't believe that: Leftists simultaneously want to enshrine unchangeable sexual differences (although, according to them, men and women are inherently and unchangingly different with regard to their abortion perspectives) and deny that these differences exist in the first place. (Caitlyn Jenner's twig and berries are irrelevant to the issue of gender, they say).
"This is nonsense," you say. "Shut up," they say.
In the end, leftists don't have to be coherent — they just have to control the government gun.
The baseline definition of freedom in Western Civilization has been this: You do not get to force me to serve you, and you do not get to force me to think the way you want me to think. As follows, you cannot force me to think that you are a woman if you are a biological man. You cannot force me to spend my taxpayer dollars to pretend along with your mental illness. You cannot force me to run my business as you see fit because I have no affirmative duty to you.
But the left doesn't believe in freedom — except the freedom to destroy the right. Thus, leftists believe that Bruce Springsteen has an absolute right to cancel concerts in North Carolina, but that bakers in North Carolina can't stop baking wedding cakes for same-sex couples. The left believes that the government must compel elevated pay rates for women, but government should compel men to be treated as women based on their subjective feelings on the subject.
The kaleidoscope of leftist morality never stops shifting. But in the end, only one moral counts: the left's ultimate insistence on use of government force to compel obedience to their kaleidoscopic morality.
Now the Left are turning on a feminist icon
By Dominic Perrottet, a minister of the crown in NSW, Australia
Recently I received a letter, as NSW Finance and Property Minister, demanding that I urgently remove the ‘Germaine Greer’ plaque from the Sydney Writers Walk in Circular Quay.The reason for the demand, sent from a concerned, vigilant citizen, was that Ms Greer holds horrifically bigoted views on transgender issues, so her name can no longer defile public places in NSW.
Although it was just one letter, it’s a telling example of the Left’s ruthless totalitarian reflex. As Stalin erased Trotsky from Soviet photographs, so Ms Greer must be expunged, our public places sanitised – that’s progress, comrade.
Ms Greer is a particularly interesting target for the Left because she was once its darling; a feminist pioneer at the vanguard of the gender revolution. She stuck it to the man, and is still sticking it to him.
Unfortunately for Ms Greer, these days the man sometimes identifies as a woman, which means the once-celebrated feminist is now guilty of le thoughtcrime du jour: transphobia. Explaining her position on Q&A last week, Greer didn’t retreat: ‘If you’re a 50-year-old truck driver who’s had 4 children with a wife and you’ve decided the whole time you’ve been a woman, I think you’re probably wrong.’ See, this insolent fuddy duddy refuses to grasp that such thoughts are no longer ‘acceptable’. In the ever-shifting hierarchy of progressive issues, the trans-agenda now trumps feminism. So for Ms Greer, it’s confess, recant, conform, or you’re out.
That anyone would think it appropriate to denounce Ms Greer to a Minister of the Crown came as a shock to me. But this is the world we are in: public office holders are under increasing pressure to use state power to enforce the ‘progressive’ agenda. Sadly, too many are caving.
Take Germany, where a comedian is now the subject of a government-approved criminal investigation – for making jokes about the president of Turkey. Or Tasmania, where the Catholic Archbishop is being dragged before the anti-discrimination commission for publishing a pamphlet explaining his own Church’s teaching on marriage. Or Scotland, where the Glasgow police – providing locals with some helpful advice on the perils of social media – recently tweeted: ‘Think before you post or you may receive a visit from us this weekend…’
That’s right McDougall: you’re just one Facebook post away from hearing the friendly local constabulary’s jackboots crunching up your driveway.
Defending freedom doesn’t mean agreeing with every offensive statement anyone makes. A case in point: a few weeks ago some unruly footy fans unfurled a banner at the MCG emblazoned with ‘STOP THE MOSQUES’.
The reaction was swift and ruthless. Eddie McGuire told the ABC that those responsible should be banned from footy. AFL boss Gillan McLachlan got busy ‘talking to the Victoria Police to see how they may prosecute’. No matter that there are no grounds for prosecution: where there’s a will, there’s a gulag.
When a similar banner was unfurled at a game in WA, the police jumped straight in, marching the fans out and banning them from the ground.
When I’m watching a match, I prefer not to be distracted by louts with offensive banners trying to stir the political pot. But if footy codes are going to politicise games with statements about refugees and rounds where players wear rainbow bootlaces and the like, it’s not clear to me why one set of political statements is permitted, and another isn’t; why we’re free to use the game to spruik (invariably left-wing) political views on some issues, but get bundled away by cops for voicing opinions on others.
If you’re banning the Sydney University Evangelical Union for the unspeakable crime of requiring its executive to believe in Jesus (Marx forbid!), more power to you. If your target is George Pell, or Tony Abbott, or some other conservative punching bag, go ahead and spew your hate-filled bile from the rooftops. You’ll be lauded as brave and a hero and get interviewed on ABC, and maybe even nominated for Australian of the Year (or at the very least a Logie).
But if you want to use your freedom to challenge the dogmas of the new orthodoxy, I’m sorry comrade, that’s not what freedom’s for, so put a sock in it. Or else.
As Ms Greer’s cautionary tale illustrates, conservatives aren’t the only ones liable to find themselves on the wrong end of a progressive truncheon.
The revolution always eats its own, because there is no rhyme or reason to the opinions ‘progressives’ endorse from one day to the next. Their beliefs – no matter how ruthlessly enforced – may be useful in advancing ‘progress’ to some fabled utopia, but once their utility has expired, those beliefs can be discarded like last season’s flared corduroys. That’s where serious thinkers like Ms Greer run into trouble. Because serious thinkers have serious arguments rooted in serious principles that can’t simply be jettisoned.
When you abandon your principles, it’s hard to see the point of debate, other than to see who can shout the loudest. Contests of ideas degenerate into contests of fists. That’s not progress.
True progress demands a truly free exchange of ideas, because the best ideas are forged in the furnace of fierce disagreement – the battle of ideas, where wits are sharpened, arguments blunted, minds expanded, and gradually, truth revealed.
Nothing has made this clearer to me than the responsibility of legislative decision-making. Free debate is simply indispensable in that process. But I have felt the chill setting in – the reluctance to speak out, even among colleagues, on matters of huge importance, for fear of falling foul of the PC police.
This is the path to dead-end, unthinking government. If democracy is to survive, we must defend freedom. We must resist the growing pressure to deploy the state’s firepower to enforce a ‘progressive’ agenda that criminalises dissent. Because you can only have progress with a contest of ideas. And you can only have a contest of ideas if you are free.
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.