Monday, May 22, 2017

After Decades Of Involvement Mormon Church Cuts Ties With The Boy Scouts

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints announced last Thursday that it will be cutting most of its ties to the Boy Scouts of America, allowing younger boys aged 8-13 to remain in scouting while pulling the 185,000 older boys aged 14-18 from all scouting activities.

The Mormon Church has maintained that the move does not follow the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow gay troop leaders, a topic the church still rebukes, but instead wants a new program run by the church worldwide and more closely tailored for Mormon teenagers, ABC News reports.

For decades the Mormon Church has been allied with the Boy Scouts, being that the two organization’s values have been closely aligned. However, in the cultural shifts the country has seen, the Boy Scouts have diverged from Mormon principles.

In Thursday’s announcement, the church stated that the scouts have been discussing allowing girls into their ranks but remained fervent that the decision was separate of such talks.

“The church is wedded very much to traditional gender roles and they see the Boy Scouts of America increasingly move away from that,” Matthew Bowman, a Mormon scholar and history professor at Henderson State University said. “That means that they have come to see it as less of a hospitable place.”

For as long as most can remember, the Boy Scouts of America has been synonymous with Mormon culture. It is almost a requirement for the young boys to become apart of the organization. The withdrawal will deal a heavy blow to the Boy Scouts, whose numbers have decreased in recent years.


Labour: the party of the non-working class

The Tories are winning over those abandoned by Labour

Theresa May’s Tories have certainly been making eyes at ‘proud and patriotic working-class people in towns and cities across Britain’, as May herself put it last week. This week, the flirtation has continued, with May’s announcement of the ‘biggest extension of workers’ rights’ under a Tory government. And it appears to be an effective strategy. Polls suggest the Tories’ support among skilled and unskilled workers, and even the unemployed, now dwarfs that of Labour.

The Tories’ posture as the party of ‘ordinary working-class people’, as May characterised it last autumn, might not be entirely sincere, not least because some of the policies announced alongside statutory rights to unpaid leave for carers and bereaved parents look more likely to divide workers, rather than help them. In particular, Tory plans to force companies to publish data on racial pay gaps threatens to racialise the workforce, pitting workers against each other according to skin pigment. Still, while the Tories’ posture may not be convincing, it is revealing. Just not about the Tories.

No, it says far more about the transformation of the party that for much of the 20th century dominated and represented the working class: Labour. That’s the story here. Not that Theresa May has won the support of vast swathes of still-working-class Britain, but that the Labour Party has lost them, abandoned them, ignored them. That’s why the Tories are in a position to speak for working-class voters – because Labour is not.

Remember this is the Conservative Party we’re talking about here. Yes, it’s channelled the hopes and aspirations of many working-class people before, especially during the 1980s, when the promise of self-betterment understandably resonated. But that was a long time ago. More recently the Tory party has appeared to be little more than a post-Oxbridge venue for Old Etonians to trot out New Labour hits. What it has not been is an electoral destination for ‘ordinary working-class people’. And yet, just a few weeks before the General Election that is what the Tories have become: if not a working men’s club, then at least a Wetherspoons.

It makes perfect sense when you look at it, though. While May is donning the proverbial donkey jacket and talking about workers’ rights, what is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn doing to ‘woo working-class voters’, as the Guardian inaccurately described his latest policy announcement? He’s promising to save the NHS, of course, with a promised £37 billion cash injection over the course of the next parliament. The recourse to a ‘save our NHS’ gesture is predictable, but it’s revealing, too. It captures a party that knows not how to speak for its one-time social base, only to speak to it, as an agglomeration of the poor and needy, people in want of treatment. Because that’s what the working class is for Labour now: patients in waiting, objects of public-health prohibitions, and sermons about fizzy drinks and fags. That’s why the NHS has become the sacred cow to whose udders Corbyn et al are determinedly attached. Because in Labour’s eyes, it’s what people need: beds and no circuses.

Not that Labour’s estrangement from the working class can be laid solely or even mainly at the sandals of Corbyn. Its social base has been atrophying for years – at least since the collapse of the postwar consensus in the late 1970s. As one study reveals, in 1966, 69 per cent of manual workers voted Labour; by 1987, only 45 per cent did. That’s a third of its working-class support haemorrhaged in a couple of decades. And this wasn’t, as the standard leftish narrative maintains, down to the evil influence of The Murdoch Press or an epidemic of home-owning selfishness; rather, it was a result of Labour’s having become a party of the state and, with it, the public sector, an increasingly careerist enclave that spoke for the interests not of the working class, but of the subsidised and the middle class.

Admittedly, under Tony Blair, whom Labourites now universally despise, demon eyes and all, Labour did increase its share of the working-class vote once more – but then, such was New Labour’s late 1990s appeal, burnished by the decrepitude of the Tories, that it picked up support from all sections of society. What is more telling, as one former Labour pollster pointed out earlier this year, is that while it was in government New Labour largely hung on to its middle-class base and lost the working class. ‘Between 1997 and 2010’, he writes, ‘for every voter Labour lost from the professional classes it lost three unskilled or unemployed workers’.

And so it continues. While May turns the Tories into the Party of the People, Corbyn, breathing sweet NHS-things into his supporters’ ears, almost unwittingly pushes on with Labour’s long metamorphosis into the party of the non-working class: the students, the vulnerable, the ill, and other ‘victims’ Labour now longs to look after.


In Limited Praise of Charlie Elphicke

British Libertarian Sean Gabb is voting Conservative

Last Sunday, my daughter assisting, I delivered about three hundred leaflets in North Deal for Charlie Elphicke, my Conservative candidate in the General Election. This was the first time in thirty years I had lifted a finger for the Conservative Party. I explained the electoral system to my daughter. I canvassed a dog who tried to eat one of the leaflets. I got into a kerbside debate that may have brought over a few Labour households. It brought back memories of my youth.

When I mentioned this on Facebook, one of my friends responded that Mr Elphicke had not been a Conservative Member of Parliament of the kind I would once have let myself support. I will not quote this response. It seems to be both accurate and damning. For his lack of commitment on the European issue, Mr Elphicke would, at the beginning of the present century, have been one of the easier targets of my Candidlist project. Now, I am willing to vote and even to campaign for him. I defend my choice with these observations:

First, Mr Elphicke has been a decent constituency MP. In 2010, I approached the British Council in Slovakia, to ask for its assistance in promoting my books. I was told that the officials there were too busy lobbying for action on “global warming” to find time for the promotion of English literature. I wrote to Mr Elphicke, who wrote sharply and at once to the relevant funding agency. Ever since then, the British Council has helped me pay my gas bills from the Slovak translations of my novels. I know other people with similar tales.

Second, and following from the above, he has been willing to put up with me for seven years. He gets an e-mail of denunciation from me on average once a fortnight. He usually answers these at length, and sometimes with confidential admissions that make it impossible for me to publish the correspondence. Indeed, after the Referendum, in which he had campaigned on the wrong side, I wrote him a nasty open letter of denunciation. He joined in the Facebook debate over this, and entered into another confidential e-mail exchange. He has not since then visibly avoided my company. The last time we met, he spoke to me in Greek.

These two are important observations, particularly the second. There are countries – I think of America – where parliamentary representatives are hardly ever accessible to their electors. I am lucky to live in a country where I can see my Member of Parliament walking about the streets without armed guards. I once bumped into Mr Elphicke while he was at my daughter’s school. One of my students once made fun of him in the local Tesco. Everyone knows where he lives.

You can, of course, say this about most Members of Parliament. England is a country with a limited record of political murder, and even Cabinet Ministers are expected to show themselves in public. Mr Elphicke, though, steps somewhat beyond the minimal custom. You can ask him for help. You can make a nuisance of yourself, and have some chance of being tolerated. The Labour man he replaced in 2010 answered about one in three of my letters, and always with an unsigned postcard.

Most Members of Parliament are less than ideal guardians of the public interest. So far as I can tell, about half of them are nasty pieces of work. There is nothing to be done in the short term about this first. When you find yourself represented by a reasonable human being, you are under some obligation to re-elect him.

But I come to my third observation. Let us agree that Mr Elphicke is a man without any principled view of the European Union. When the Conservative leadership was in favour of staying in, so was he. Now the leadership is of a different view, so is he. I do not blame him for this. It does not in itself make him a bad man. It does not hold me from voting for him with a clean conscience.

The European issue appears to be settled in all but its details. Theresa May – herself a woman of no fixed principle – has committed herself to leaving. Her present peace of mind and her place in the history books both depend on how well she extricates us from the European Union. She seems clever enough to know this. She looks the sort who can bully or blackmail her way to an advantageous deal. Whatever else she has said or done, whatever else she may stand for, is not presently important. All that matters is that she should get the biggest possible mandate next month, and that the men we elect to sit behind her should be reliable. Mr Elphicke strikes me as completely reliable, and he therefore gets my support.

All this being said, I move of one of the more absurd wisdoms of British politics, which is that Conservatives are sentimental loyalists, and Labour is a party of hard-faced ideologues. The truth is exactly the opposite. Labour stopped being recognisably the party of ordinary working people at the end of the 1970s. After a fifteen year struggle, during which it split, the party was taken over by a charismatic liar fronting a generation of apparatchiks who proceeded to do well for themselves and for nobody else. During these thirty five years, Labour hung on to its core voters. It did badly in 1983 because of the Falklands War. It did badly in 1987 mainly because of the electoral system. It is only now that ordinary working people are responding to Mrs May’s revised brand of One Nation Conservatism.

The Conservatives core cote, on the other hand, has been far more volatile. We abstained in large numbers in 1997, because of Europe. If all of us who abstained or voted UKIP in 2001 and 2005 had voted Conservative, Labour would have at least lost its majority. The Conservatives could have got an overall majority in 2010, and could have won a big majority in 2015. The main reason Mrs May seems headed now for a crushing majority is because almost none of us will vote UKIP. Large numbers of conservatives take a purely instrumental view of the Conservative Party. There is little brand loyalty. When it seems likely to do something conservative, it gets support. When it seems a lost cause, it is dumped.

About twenty years ago, I listened to Peter Tatchell’s explanation of why he could no longer support the Labour Party. I forget what had upset him, but I do recall that he was almost in tears at the thought of no longer being a member of the Labour Party. It was a reaction I found hard to understand. Conservatives abstain, or vote UKIP, or come back to the Conservative Party, without a twinge of guilt; and returners are generally welcomed without recrimination.

In 2010, I voted Conservative for the first time this century because I feared Labour more than I despised the Conservatives. It was the same in 2015 – and because, in spite of all else to be said against him at the time, I rather liked Charlie Elphicke. Because the present election is effectively a rerun of the Referendum, I will vote for him again. However, a big win for the Conservatives this time may leave the political landscape so altered that other options will emerge.

Until then, Mr Elphicke, and through him Mrs May, will have my support. I may even accept his invitation, come polling day, to sit as a Conservative teller….


Inflating Muslim Claims To Jerusalem

Last Tuesday, coinciding with Israel’s 69th Independence Day, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution entitled ‘Occupied Palestine.’ The resolution denies Israel any sovereign claim to its own capital city, Jerusalem, and falsely describes Israel as the city’s “occupying power” and speaks of the “cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem.”

Clearly, the intention of the UNESCO resolution is to achieve internationally the direct repudiation of Israel’s Jewish history and sovereignty in favor of Arab claims.

Lying behind this Arab diplomatic offensive is an Arab street and Muslim world, neither of which have reconciled themselves to Israel’s existence nor even the peoplehood of the Jews and thus the Jewish immemorial association and claim to Jerusalem.

However, this clamor and fixation on Jerusalem, quite recent in Muslim history, has led many to conclude that Jerusalem is holy to Islam and central to Palestinian Arab consciousness. This is, however, a propaganda fiction.

Though possessing important Muslim shrines, such as the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosques, Jerusalem holds no great significance for Islam, as history shows.

Jerusalem rates not a single mention in the Quran, nor is it the direction in which Muslims turn to pray. References in the Quran and hadith to the ‘farthest mosque,’ in allusion to which the Al Aqsa Mosque is named, and which has sometimes been invoked to connect Islam to Jerusalem since its earliest days, clearly doesn’t refer to a mosque which didn’t exist in Muhammad’s day.

Indeed, the site of the biblical temples is called Temple Mount, not the Mosque Mount and –– in contrast to innumerable Palestinian Authority statements today –– was acknowledged as such for decades by Jerusalem’s Muslims.

Throughout the British Mandate period, the Jerusalem Muslim Supreme Council’s publication, ‘A Brief Guide to the Haram Al-Sharif’, stated of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount on p. 4 that “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” (After 1954, all such references to the biblical temples were excised from this publication).

During the illegal annexation and rule of the historic eastern half of Jerusalem by Jordan (1948-67), Amman remained Jordan’s country’s capital, not Jerusalem, even as Jews were driven out and their property and sanctuaries laid waste: the Old City’s 58 synagogues destroyed and Jewish gravestones used to pave roads and latrines. Jewish access to the Western Wall was also forbidden, in contravention of Article 8 of the 1949 Israeli/Jordanian armistice.

Historically, Jerusalem under Muslim control was no more a capital city than Mecca or Medina in Saudi Arabia or Qom in Iran. Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem enjoyed neither the attention nor affection of the Arab world or its rulers.

Quite the contrary: the eastern half of the city became a backwater, infrastructure like water and sewerage were scanty or non-existent, and its Christian population, denied the right to purchase church property, also declined. No Arab ruler, other than Jordan’s King Hussein, ever visited. As Israeli elder statesman Abba Eban put it, “the secular delights of Beirut held more attraction.”

Significantly, neither the PLO’s National Charter nor the Fatah Constitution, the latter drafted during Jordanian rule, even mention Jerusalem, let alone call for its establishment as a Palestinian capital.

This would never be obvious from the tenor and content of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim pronouncements on the city today, which are as emphatic as to the Arab, Muslim and Palestinian primacy of the city as they are in denying its Jewish provenance.

Conversely, Jerusalem, the capital of the biblical Jewish kingdoms, is the site of three millennia of Jewish habitation — hence the ‘Jerusalem 3000’ celebrations initiated in by the government of Yitzhak Rabin.

The holiest of Judaism’s four holy cities, Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Hebrew Bible and alluded to in countless prayers. Major Jewish rituals, including the conclusion of the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur service, end with the age-old affirmation, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’

Jerusalem is the only city in the world in which Jews have formed a majority since the 1880s. Today, Jerusalem, in addition to being home to Judaism’s greatest sanctuaries, is the seat of Israel’s government, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the National Library and the Hebrew University. Its population is two-thirds Jewish.

It is only under unified Israeli rule since 1967 that the city as a whole has been revitalized, enjoyed stunning growth and also, at last, full freedom of religion for its mosaic of faiths ––precisely what would be threatened by its redivision, as is already obvious in the Christian exodus from Palestinian-controlled Gaza and Bethlehem.

Whatever form a final peace settlement might one day take, there is no morally just or legally sound reason inflate or fabricate Muslim claims while denying Jerusalem’s Jewish primacy and history.

The Trump Administration rightly condemned the UNESCO resolution. It should now defund UN bodies that practice this form of delegitimizing political warfare, starting with UNESCO.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


1 comment:

Paul Weber said...

The United Nations needs to go the way of the League of Nations.