Tuesday, July 19, 2016
An amusing example of superficial analysis from the Left
The author below makes a mistake very common among even academic Leftist writers: Assuming that correlation is causation and that they "know" in which direction the causal arrow points. One of the first things you learn in Statistics 101 is that correlation is NOT causation and cannot determine causation.
The finding concerned below is a correlation between anti-Muslim sentiment among the host population and pro-ISIS sentiment among the local Muslim population. Inferred from that is that anti-Muslim sentiment drives Muslims into the arms of ISIS. And indeed it may do. But let's look a bit further back along the causal chain. Could it be that anti-Muslim sentiment is high in some areas because Muslims seem particularly obnoxious in certain areas? So the causal chain runs: Obnoxious Muslim behaviour ==> Anti-Muslim sentiment ==> ISIS-liking Muslims. Or maybe ISIS-liking Muslims ==> Obnoxious Muslim behaviour ==> anti-Muslim sentiment.
It could be any or all of those things. The case is indeterminant without proper before-and-after research. I append to the article below the academic journal abstract and I note that the author there quietly admits towards the end of the abstract that the results are largely driven by "reverse causation", which I take to mean the sort of causal chains I have outlined. But it's all just opinion, of course.
Finally, let me flesh out out briefly what I suspect really underlay the findings. Anti-Muslim sentiment is huge in the old East Germany. Why would that be? Because the East retains at some level the values drummed into them by their old Communist regime: which are values of brotherhood and solidarity between people. And Muslims breach that. By holding themselves apart in so many ways, they destroy social solidarity. They offend against basic East German values. So even if they are not in fact unusually obnoxious in the East Muslims will be seen as unusually obnoxious there
So the East German case is pretty clear. In other countries other or similar influences may be at work. In Britain, for instance, anti-immigrant sentiment is by far the strongest in the North, as we saw in the Brexit vote. And where is the North ideologically? Solidly socialist. They are the great redoubt of the British Labour party. And as such they too have strong values of brotherhood and social solidarity. So we see again that anti-Muslim sentiment is in fact associated with LEFTISM. Not the Leftism of the elites, of course, but the Leftism of the people. The gulf between the Leftism of the elites and the Leftism of the people has of course been much discussed in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
And who in history was by far the greatest hater of minorities? The socialist Hitler. Hitler united socialist and nationalist thinking in the propaganda placard below -- a Wochenspruch for the Gau Weser/Ems. The saying is, "Es gibt keinen Sozialismus, der nicht aufgeht im eigenen Volk" -- which I translate as "There is no socialism except what arises within its own people". You need social solidarity to have real socialism, in other words. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
MANY PEOPLE WANT their political leaders to take a harder line with immigrants and Muslims, but new research suggests that this approach may, as President Obama has repeatedly asserted, make us less safe.
A political scientist (who “worked four years as a counterterrorism research officer in the Israeli Directorate of Military Intelligence”) scoured about 15,000 accounts of ISIS activists and their social networks on Twitter. She “matched users’ location data to local-level administrative data” and found that “local-level vote share for far-right, anti-Muslim parties in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium is a significant predictor of online radicalization.
In substantive terms, an increase of one percentage point in the local-level vote share for far-right parties is associated with a 6 percent, and 3 percent increase, respectively, in the probability of a user being flagged as ISIS-affiliated and being among the top 1 percent posters of radical content.”
Local unemployment or immigration were not associated with pro-ISIS Twitter activity; in fact, “the proportion of asylum seekers and/or asylum seeker centers in a location is negatively linked to these radicalization outcomes.”
The fact that pro-ISIS Twitter activity increased right after anti-Muslim protests across Europe on Feb. 6, 2016 — but only in those areas with high levels of far-right, anti-Muslim voting — suggests that local voter attitudes are driving local radicalization, not the other way around.
From Isolation to Radicalization: The Socioeconomic Predictors of Support for ISIS in the West
The steady stream of foreign fighters from Western countries to join the Islamic State has gripped the attention of scholars and policymakers around the world. In this paper, I provide the first systematic micro-level study of the socioeconomic predictors of online radicalization and support for ISIS in Europe. I argue that lack of integration in Western countries, coupled with anti-Muslim discrimination and hostility, drives individuals to support ISIS on social media. From December 2015 to May 2016, I collected real-time data on the activity of thousands of ISIS activists and the full social network of their followers on Twitter, a central platform for the organization’s recruitment efforts. I captured and analyzed the online activity and textual content produced by ISIS supporters before their accounts were deleted from the Internet. Using data on the geographic location of ISIS supporters, I matched online radicalization indicators with offline data on voteshare for far-right, anti-Muslim parties in Europe to examine whether the intensity of anti-Muslim hostility at the local level predicts support for ISIS on Twitter. Results show that local-level support for far-right parties is a significant and substantively meaningful determinant of pro-ISIS radicalization online, including posting tweets sympathizing with ISIS, describing life in ISIS-controlled territories, discussing foreign fighters, and expressing anti-West sentiment. An event study of the marches organized by the anti-Muslim movement PEGIDA in 2016 suggests that the results are not entirely driven by reverse causality. Of particular relevance to the current debate over refugee policy, I also find that the number of foreigners or asylum seekers in a locality are not significant predictors of radicalization.
How Obama Left Us More Racially Divided Than Ever
If you think America is a land of oppression instead of a land of freedom, you will sow social discord. That’s President Obama’s legacy.
My mother is a huge fan of Barack Obama. The house is decked out with portraits of the president and Michelle, including some from his inauguration, which she attended. I’ve never seen her this excited for any president, including Bill Clinton.
This type of sentiment is typical of many black Americans, who have a brimming sense of pride over the first black president. This is not so much because they agree with his policies—in fact, many black Americans, while Democrats, identify as conservative—but rather due to a sense of victory that after so many years of slavery and segregation, we’ve finally arrived at the point where the American people are willing to accept a black president.
Yet all is not well. Under President Obama, many black folks think racial division has increased, not decreased. A family friend, who is a Democrat and an Obama supporter, recently curiously remarked, “I’ll be glad when Obama is out of office.” He said this not as an affront to President Obama, but as an acknowledgement that the state of racial affairs seems to have gotten worse under him.
Many whites feel the same way, which is one reason Donald Trump is popular. His outright rejection of political correctness that many Americans are sick of seems like a step in the right direction to his supporters, who hope removing PC will allow for honest dialogue without fear of being called racist amidst an environment that has become increasingly charged and accusatory.
Why is this the case? How did we get to a spot where black and white perceptions on race are so divergent, and we are more divided than ever? It starts with how you view our country.
Either You’re an Optimist or Pessimist
My view of America is that we are a place of great promise and opportunity, where someone like me, who is the grandchild of illiterate black Southern sharecroppers, can achieve success and reach the American dream. We are a place occupied by fair-minded, hard-working people whose culture and values have built a nation that is the envy of the world. I am proud to be a part of that culture.
Our Founders, while imperfect and a product of their times, were visionary heroes who made hard choices and compromises to give us the successful system we have today. Because Americans are good, we’ve worked hard over time to right the wrongs in our society that our Founding Fathers could not eliminate in their time. In summary, we are a fundamentally decent people blessed to live in a phenomenal land with a rich heritage.
But not so for President Obama. His view of our nation seems to be very different than mine and that of many other Americans. I believe that when President Obama thinks of America, more so than a place of hope or opportunity, he thinks of a place where racist white Christian fundamentalists came here from Europe, committed genocide against Native Americans, enslaved and segregated black people, denied women, gays, and other minorities their rights, and used capitalism and a rigged legal system to oppress poor people for centuries. He also believes this is still continuing today.
Given this view of America as an evil place in need of forceful justice for her sins, the president’s overarching goal has been to eliminate what he sees as the structural, institutionalized discrimination that defines America. He has done this by taking every opportunity to see disparities between groups as evidence of discrimination, then using all available resources to fight this perceived discrimination by going to war against the Americans he believes are responsible for it, who are almost always whites, men, police, and Christians.
A small sampling of the ways he has done this are: accusing whites of “white privilege,” which means having an unfair advantage due to being white, an advantage built upon oppressing minorities; accusing the police and justice system at large of racism; blaming pay differences between men and women on discrimination; and casting Islamic radicalism as a legitimate response to discrimination (ostensibly by white Christians).
This strategy has had two effects: 1) It’s caused the alleged victims of the perceived discrimination to become more militant, hostile, and only willing to make demands and not willing to engage in dialogue due to increasing their sense of victimhood, and 2) It’s caused the alleged perpetrators of the perceived discrimination to feel unfairly blamed for problems that are not their fault, thus less willing to engage in dialogue with people who will do nothing but accuse them of wrongdoing.
In other words, both sides are moving away from each other. This means that, contrary to unifying the nation, the president’s leadership has caused division and discord.
Discrimination Is Not the Biggest Problem for Minorities
In addition to failing to unify the nation, the president’s leadership philosophy has also failed to solve the underlying problems supposedly caused by discrimination. This is due to his failure to understand two critical truths: 1) Unequal outcomes do not constitute proof of discrimination. Thus policies attempting to produce equal results between groups through eliminating discrimination will accomplish nothing when the unequal outcomes are not caused by discrimination in the first place, and 2) While actual discrimination exists, most of the ills minorities face in today’s America are not caused by discrimination, but rather by factors such as complete family breakdown engendered by the welfare state and reduced employment prospects due to globalization, illegal immigration, and automation. So again, policies to remedy discrimination will do nothing to solve problems that are not caused by discrimination in the first place.
Sure enough, this is exactly what the data shows. With the exception of the unemployment rate, black Americans are worse off in many categories under President Obama, including: labor force participation, the percentage of people below the poverty line, real median income, the number of black people on food stamps, the percentage of black people who own homes, and the black-white test score gap in education.
Thus, far from unifying the nation, and far from ending the social ills he believes are caused by discrimination, President Obama has—perhaps unwittingly—caused America to become more polarized and divided, and brought us no closer to solving the key problems stunting black achievement.
EU set for U-turn over whether firms can legally ban Muslim headscarves after senior legal officer rules it IS discriminatory
The European Union's top court could be set for a U-turn on whether companies can legally ban women from wearing Muslim headscarves after it was ruled discriminatory.
The European Court of Justice has been hearing a case from Muslim Asma Bougnaoui, who was dismissed from her job with Micropole SA as an IT consultant in France, after clients complained about her wearing a headscarf.
It comes after a previous case brought to the same court by a Belgian woman who was also fired from her job for wearing a veil.
In that case, the court's advocate general said companies may ban Muslim headscarves if they are enforcing a general prohibition on religious symbols in the workplace.
However, in the case of Ms Bougnaoui another advocate general Eleanor Sharpston today said that the court 'considers that a company policy requiring an employee to remove her Islamic headscarf when in contact with clients constitutes unlawful direct discrimination.'
The senior lawyer, whose opinion must be considered by the court when it makes a final ruling at a later date, found 'nothing to suggest that Ms Bougnaoui was unable to perform her duties as a design engineer because she wore an Islamic headscarf.'
'Indeed, (her employer's) letter terminating her employment had expressly referred to her professional competence,' she added.
The EU court will now examine the two cases and may give its judgement in a joint decision by the end of the year, a legal source told the AFP news agency.
Opinions expressed by the EU court's advocates general are only initial views and not binding rulings, but usually the court follows the senior lawyer's advice when eventually giving its judgement.
The court could decide to give a general clarification on headscarf bans in Europe and how they may work while still obeying EU law.
The wearing of headscarves and full-face veils has been an increasingly contentious debate in Europe between the forces of secularism and sections of the continent's Muslim minority.
France brought in a ban on full-face veils in 2010, despite claims that the ban was discriminatory and violates freedom of expression and religion.
Belgium and some parts of Switzerland have followed France's lead and similar bans have been considered in other European countries.
Australian TV host calls for Australia to close borders to Muslim migrants
Sonia Kruger has called for Australia to stop Muslim immigration because she wants to 'feel safe'.
During a fiery Today Show panel discussion Monday, the TV host argued there is a correlation between the number of Muslims in a country and the number of terrorist attacks.
'Personally, I would like to see it stop now for Australia because I want to feel safe as all of our citizens do when we go out to celebrate Australia Day,' the media personality said.
The television host said she had 'a lot of very good friends' who were Muslims and peace-loving, beautiful people. 'But there are fanatics.'
The remarks have sparked a social media firestorm but in response Kruger said 'it was vital to discuss these issues without automatically being labelled racist'.
She told the panel Japan has a population of 174 million people and 100,000 Muslims and the country never suffers terrorist attacks.
Her remarks drew a passionate response from the morning program's co-host David Campbell, who interrupted her as she began to talk about journalists being 'threatened' and freedom of speech.
Hands waving, Campbell replied: 'I'd like to see freedom of religion as well! As well as freedom of speech! They both go hand and hand!'
'We're talking about immigration, David,' Kruger replied. She then asked if people were allowed to talk about the issue.
Campbell said the article they were talking about - written by conservative columnist Andrew Bolt in News Corp newspapers - 'breeds hate'.
'So you're not allowed to talk about it?' Kruger replied. 'You're not allowed to discuss it?'
'I would venture that if you spoke to the parents of those children killed in Nice then they would be of the same opinion.'
She argued 'good Muslim people' were dying as a result of terrorist acts, pointing out the first person to die in the Nice terror attacks last week was a Muslim woman.
When host Lisa Wilkinson asked her directly whether she wanted the borders totally closed to Muslim migrants, Kruger said: 'Yes, yes I would'.
Wilkinson pointed out closing the borders to Muslims was the 'Donald Trump approach'. 'Well, perhaps it is,' Kruger said. 'For the safety of our citizens here I think it's important'.
The US presidential candidate has called for a 'complete shutdown' on Muslims entering the United States 'until our country's representatives can figure out what's going on'.
Kruger's remarks sparked fierce debate on social media, with viewers writing in criticism, praise and mockery.
And she responded to the criticism in a combative statement on Monday afternoon, writing: 'Following the atrocities last week in Nice where 10 children lost their lives, as a mother, I believe it's vital in a democratic society to be able to discuss these issues without automatically being labelled racist'.
Kruger is a media personality who first came to fame playing the role of Tina Sparkle in the 1992 Australian film, Strictly Ballroom.
She has worked as a dance teacher, a Seven Network entertainment reporter and long-time host of Dancing With The Stars.
In 2007, Seven apologised 'unreservedly' after Kruger made derogatory comments about a 'sweatshop full of immigrants' working on her Melbourne Cup dress.
Most recently Kruger has worked for Nine as the host of hit series The Voice Australia and Today Extra, which was formerly known as Mornings.
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.