Thursday, July 27, 2017

Western Values Are Superior

By Walter E. Williams

Here's part of President Donald Trump's speech in Poland: "The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?"

After this speech, which was warmly received by Poles, the president encountered predictable criticism. Most of the criticism reflected gross ignorance and dishonesty.

One example of that ignorance was penned in the Atlantic magazine by Peter Beinart, a contributing editor and associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Beinart said, "Donald Trump referred 10 times to 'the West' and five times to 'our civilization.' His white nationalist supporters will understand exactly what he means." He added, "The West is a racial and religious term. To be considered Western, a country must be largely Christian (preferably Protestant or Catholic) and largely white."

Intellectual elites argue that different cultures and their values are morally equivalent. That's ludicrous. Western culture and values are superior to all others. I have a few questions for those who'd claim that such a statement is untrue or smacks of racism and Eurocentrism. Is forcible female genital mutilation, as practiced in nearly 30 sub-Saharan African and Middle Eastern countries, a morally equivalent cultural value? Slavery is practiced in Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Sudan; is it morally equivalent? In most of the Middle East, there are numerous limitations placed on women, such as prohibitions on driving, employment and education. Under Islamic law, in some countries, female adulterers face death by stoning. Thieves face the punishment of having their hands severed. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in some countries. Are these cultural values morally equivalent, superior or inferior to Western values?

During his speech, Trump asked several vital questions. "Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?" There's no question that the West has the military might to protect itself. The question is whether we have the intelligence to recognize the attack and the will to defend ourselves from annihilation.

Much of the Muslim world is at war with Western civilization. Islamists' use multiculturalism as a foot in the door to attack Western and Christian values from the inside. Much of that attack has its roots on college campuses among the intellectual elite who indoctrinate our youth. Multiculturalism has not yet done the damage in the U.S. that it has in Western European countries - such as England, France and Germany - but it's on its way.

My colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell reveals some of the problem. He says, "Those in the Islamic world have for centuries been taught to regard themselves as far superior to the 'infidels' of the West, while everything they see with their own eyes now tells them otherwise." Sowell adds, "Nowhere have whole peoples seen their situation reversed more visibly or more painfully than the peoples of the Islamic world." Few people, such as Persians and Arabs, once at the top of civilization, accept their reversals of fortune gracefully. Moreover, they don't blame themselves and their culture. They blame the West.

By the way, one need not be a Westerner to hold Western values. One just has to accept the sanctity of the individual above all else.


State Department Lawyers Removing References to ISIS `Genocide' Against Christians, Other Religious Minorities

Obama holdovers

The State Department's top lawyers are systematically removing the word "genocide" to describe the Islamic State's mass slaughter of Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria from speeches before they are delivered and other official documents, according to human rights activists and attorneys familiar with the policies.

Additionally, Democratic senators are delaying confirmation of Mark Green, Trump's pick to head the U.S. Agency for International Development who has broad bipartisan support.

These efforts guarantee that Obama-era policies that worked to exclude Iraq's Christian and other minority religious populations from key U.S. aid programs remain in place, the activists said.

Richard Visek, who was appointed by President Obama as head the State Department's Office of Legal Adviser in October 2016, is behind the decision to remove the word "genocide" from official documents, according to Nina Shea, an international human rights lawyer who directs the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.

"I don't think for a minute it's a bureaucratic decision-it's ideological," said Shea, who also spent 12 years as a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, or CIRF, from 1999 to 2012.

A State Department spokesman on Monday said he would look into the matter and respond.

The latest moves from the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser appear aimed at rolling back then-Secretary of State John Kerry's March 2016 genocide determination. Kerry's much-anticipated genocide designation came after months of equivocation and detailed documentation by interested parties that the Islamic State is responsible for genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.

It was one of the few times in history that the United States designated ongoing mass murders against ethnic or religious minorities as meeting the legal definition of genocide laid out in a 1948 treaty. That agreement requires signatories, including the United States, to take steps to "prevent and punish" genocide.

A bipartisan group of Capitol Hill lawmakers and activists, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R., Ala.) were hoping the designation would help direct millions of dollars in U.S. relief funds to Christian, Yazidi, and other persecuted religious minority communities.

ISIS murders and kidnappings have decimated the Christian population in Iraq, which numbered between 800,000 and 1.4 million in 2002, reducing it to fewer than 250,000 now. Without action, activists and charities say, Christians could disappear completely from Iraq in the near future.

After meeting with Pope Francis in May, President Trump vowed to do everything in his power to defend and protect the "historic Christian communities of the Middle East."

Activists and Catholic leaders are now calling on Trump to turn the rhetoric into action on the ground and help get U.S. aid to these persecuted communities trying to rebuild their homes and their lives in Iraq.

These advocates want the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations to allow church groups and other religious-affiliated relief organizations to receive government aid, a practice prohibited during the Obama administration.

In early May, Congress allocated more than $1.3 billion in funds for refugee assistance and included specific language to try to ensure that at least some of the money is used to assist persecuted religious minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims-all groups the State Department deemed victims of genocide in 2016.

Nevertheless, only $10 million is specifically earmarked for Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities. The Trump administration has until the end of September, when the stop-gap funding bill runs out, to ensure it distributes the funds in the most effective way.

"There is congressional legislation . that calls for the U.S. government to stop excluding the genocide-targeted minorities in Iraq," Shea said. "This has been a pervasive problem that this aid has not been getting to them."

"Iraq is home to one of the four largest remaining Christian communities in the Middle East that are about to become extinct," she said. "Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama made catastrophic mistakes that left these communities on the brink of extinction, but it's going to be on President Trump's watch as to whether they survive or become extinct-it's going to be his policies that make or break the situation."

Instead of going through Iraqi government agencies or other internationally recognized groups, activists say the best way to get the aid to Christians and other persecuted minorities is through local Iraqi Catholic dioceses and parishes and other religious organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, which have spent years on the ground working with these communities.

The money would be specifically designated for relief efforts for these persecuted communities and could not be used for other purposes, such as church-building or more general church operations.

Groups say the special allocation is needed because Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities often do not go to Muslim-dominated refugee camps out of fear they will be targeted, killed, or kidnapped.

After the Iraqi army retook Mosul from the Islamic State with the help of U.S. forces, much international attention has focused on helping rebuild the Sunni community so that ISIS cannot regain its influence there through sleeper cells or other supportive Islamic terrorist groups.

Shea said Christians will also play a key role in stabilizing the area in and around Mosul if they have enough aid to rebuild their homes in the area and other parts of Northern Iraq.

They could also combat Iran's colonization of northern Iraq, where pro-Iranian militias are buying up Christian land in the area to try to broaden their influence.

"Christians and Yazidis need to be able to go back to their towns just to hold them-it's a big national security priority for the U.S.," she said.

In late June, Rubio, along with GOP Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to ensure that the 2017 omnibus appropriations are distributed to "vulnerable and persecuted religious minorities, including victims of genocide designated" by former Secretary of State Kerry.

"It would be a deathblow to pluralism and the prospect of religious freedom and diversity in any future Iraq," the senators wrote, if these victims of genocide don't receive the humanitarian aid Congress tried to direct to them.

In responding to the senators' letter on July 10, the State Department avoided the question of whether it would allow Catholic or other charitable organizations to receive the appropriations in order to help the Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities.

Instead, Charles Faulkner of State's Bureau of Legislative Affairs cited a list of U.S. efforts to help the "plight of religious minorities in Iraq" and said the department "shares your grave concern about the situation facing Iraq's religious and ethnic minorities."

The letter also restates the State Department's policy and that of the United Nation's of distributing U.S. relief based on means-tested need, instead of the genocide designation providing some priority for targeted communities on the verge of extinction.

"The U.S. government has also provided more than $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance since 2014 for vulnerable Iraqis in Iraq and in the region," the letter stated. "This assistance is distributed according to individual need, and many members of minority groups have benefited from it because of their unique vulnerabilities."

Faulkner said the State Department "makes efforts" to ensure that the needs of "minority community members" are "taken into consideration," when there are concerns that these communities don't have access to assistance.

In addition to U.N. stabilization projects in Iraq, he said State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor is managing 22 grants and "interagency agreements" in Iraq, and "since 2004 has been the lead U.S. government entity programming directly to support inclusion of religious and ethnic minorities and other marginalized populations in Iraq."


The Left's backward-looking racial narrative.

Conflating past and present is politically expedient for liberals, but it doesn't help black Americans

President Barack Obama traveled to Alabama on March 7, 2015, to deliver a speech marking the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," when 600 peaceful protesters seeking the right to vote were beaten and tear-gassed by mounted police as they tried to march across Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge. It was one of the more symbolic moments of a deeply symbolic presidency - an opportunity to remind the country of how much racial progress had been made over the past half century. But Obama was interested in more than just commemorating a turning point in the civil-rights struggles of the mid 20th century. And so a speech rightly honoring "the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod" and "keep marching towards justice" was laced with Democratic talking points and comparisons between the problems that blacks faced during legal discrimination and the problems they faced five decades later.

To that end, Obama's remarks invoked "unfair sentencing" and "overcrowded prisons" in the criminal-justice system while making no mention of black-white disparities in crime rates. He also suggested that voter-identification laws threaten the black franchise and suppress turnout. Yet in 2012, blacks voted at higher rates than whites, including in states with the most stringent voter-identification mandates. And in 2014, voter turnout among all groups was slightly higher in Texas, which has a strict voter-identification law, than it was in New York, which does not.

    Parallels between America under Jim Crow and America under a twice-elected black president and two black attorneys general may be tortured, but Obama also knew that such rhetoric plays well politically for the Left and distracts from liberalism's poor track record in helping the black underclass. The goal is to keep black voters angry, paranoid, and content to put the onus on others to address racial disparities and negative black outcomes. The identity politics practiced by liberals today treats blacks not as individuals with agency but rather as a group of victims who are both blameless and helpless. "Liberalism in the twenty-first century is, for the most part, a moral manipulation that exaggerates inequity and unfairness in American life in order to justify overreaching public policies and programs," explained the author Shelby Steele. This liberalism is

invested in an overstatement of America's present sinfulness based on the nation's past sins. It conflates the past into the present so that the present is indistinguishable from the ugly past. And so modern liberalism is grounded in a paradox: it tries to be progressive and forward looking by fixing its gaze backward. It insists that America's shameful past is the best explanation of its current social problems.

    This liberal conflation of the past and present is without a doubt politically expedient - note how Democrats regularly dismiss any Republican criticism of liberal social policies as being motivated by racial hostility towards blacks - but it's hard to see how diverting attention from far more credible explanations of racial gaps today helps blacks advance. "Despite frequent assertions to the contrary, many of the seemingly intractable problems encountered by a significant number of black Americans do not result from racial discrimination," wrote economist Walter Williams in Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination? "That is not to say discrimination does not exist. Nor is it to say discrimination has no adverse effects.

For policy purposes, however, the issue is not whether or not racial discrimination exists but the extent to which it explains what we see today." The political Left wins votes by telling black people that racism, in one form or another, explains racial disparities that only government programs can address. And groups like the NAACP raise money and stay relevant by pushing the same narrative - a narrative that also maintains broad and largely unquestioned support in the mainstream media.

    A few days after Obama's Selma address, National Public Radio aired an interview with the city's mayor, George Evans. The interviewer wanted to know how "what happened in Selma 50 years ago fits into the current conversations about race relations in this country." But Evans, the city's second black mayor, didn't see a clear connection between the problems that blacks faced five decades ago and current obstacles.

    "I'm not sure how it fits," Evans responded. "We have a lot more crime going on in 2015 all over the country than we had in 1965. Segregation existed, but we didn't have the crime. So now, even though we've gained so much through voting rights and Bloody Sunday, we've stepped backwards when it comes to crime and drugs in the jail system - things like that."

    Apparently, that wasn't the answer the interviewer was looking for, and so she pressed the mayor. "What's life like for the average black citizen in Selma," where 80 percent of residents are black, she asked. "I mean, your city does have challenges. You've got chronic unemployment rates. What are the biggest problems from your vantage point?" Still, the mayor refused to do what Obama had done in his speech and make facile historical parallels.

    "Well, from the standpoint of jobs, we have a lot of jobs," said Evans. "It's just that there are a lot of people who do not have the skill level to man these jobs. And that's the biggest problem we have. There are industries and businesses here that are searching for people to come to work. But many times they're not able to get the jobs because they're not going back to pick up that trade or that technical skill that's needed in order to take that job"

    The mayor may not have been telling NPR what it wanted to hear, but his views were perfectly sensible. After having declined significantly in the 1950s, violent crime began surging in the late 1960s. Although it has fallen since the early 1990s, the violent-crime rate in 2014 was higher than it was in 1965 and has since returned to 1990s levels in major cities. Evans's observation that a high unemployment rate can result from factors other than a shortage of jobs also jibes with the social-science research.

Moreover, sometimes the problem isn't a lack of jobs or even job skills so much as a lack of interest in filling jobs that are available. The 2015 Baltimore riots that followed the death of a black suspect in police custody were linked by some observers to high unemployment rates in the ghetto. But a black construction worker at a job site that had been looted told a reporter that in his experience the neighborhood youths who were "protesting" seemed to have little interest in finding legitimate employment. "I see about 30 people walking by here every day, and only about two of them will bother to ask whether we're hiring," he said. "You have some brilliant kids, extraordinary talent, but they don't see opportunity."


Having kids is much more fun than parents make out

A MEMO to fellow parents of young children: I'm starting to worry that we're doing a truly terrible PR job.

Our performance hasn't yet reached catastrophic birth-rate-dropping-off-a-cliff levels but if we were actually being employed to market parenthood to the masses? The termination of our collective contract would be imminent.

Last week I was having lunch with a group of friends, most of whom have kids, when one of our number announced that his partner is pregnant. "Wonderful news!" We all chorused, ordering another round of flat whites to celebrate. Before proceeding to warn our mate of the abject horror that lies before him.

Say goodbye to long luxurious brunches and weekends with nothing in particular planned. Prepare to sacrifice half your income on nappies, childcare fees, and overpriced prams. Forget about listening to music you like, The Wiggles and the `womb noises' setting on the baby sleep app are the new soundtrack of your life.

Welcome to tantrums, latching issues, constant whining and a complete lack of privacy. Sex will become a distant memory because on the rare occasion that one of you is in the mood, the other will be too tired. And speaking of tired . have we mentioned yet that you will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN? EVER.

It was a sick, indulgent pleasure to scare him in this way. We relished the opportunity to complain about how tough parenting can be to an uninitiated newbie. Rolling our eyes at one another in solidarity, smug in the knowledge that our unsuspecting childless mate couldn't possibly get it. Well, not yet, anyway.

A few days later I caught up with a colleague from a previous job. We'd worked together before I became a mum. She hugged me tight when I arrived, looked meaningfully into my eyes and said, "You look really, really well".

It was as if I'd recently recovered from a prolonged illness. There was pity and concern in her expression. It took me a moment to realise she was referring to my not-so-recently-acquired status as a parent.

"How is it going?" she asked, after a suitable period of small talk. "It must be incredibly hard. You know, I've always wanted a family but sometimes I'm honestly not sure if I could do it. Or if I even want to do it anymore."

For as long as the world can remember, bitching about parenting - particularly motherhood - has been off limits. Children were to be cherished, pregnant women protected, and the miracle of life was not a burden but a blessing, and all that.

You weren't supposed to confess that raising a family is actually incredibly hard work. You weren't supposed to complain.

So the mothers of times gone by pushed through, stoic in their silence. When women began entering the workforce in large numbers - and realised that paid work was comparatively easier than child rearing - things began to change.

We started becoming more honest about parenting. The internet created new communities where parents could gather together, joke, bitch and laugh at how tough looking after little people can be. Honesty gave way to camaraderie.

It became socially acceptable to admit that entertaining a child all day can be deathly dull. Complaining about lack of sleep and fantasies of running away to the nearest cocktail bar and never looking back became a method of parental bonding. So we did more of it, and more of it and more and more and more until . many of us simply forgot to talk about the good stuff at all.

I don't write this to be preachy. Becoming a mum is unquestionably the most difficult thing I have ever done.

Less than 14 days into my son's time on this planet, I may or may not have sobbed to my husband that I'd ruined my life. Those first few months made it abundantly clear to me why sleep deprivation is a torture device. There are days when the grind of toddler-wrangling utterly grind me down.

I am most definitely guilty of scaring non-parents about what's to come.

And yes, I've enjoyed doing it.

But becoming a parent has also been the single best thing that has ever happened to me. My kid brings joy and delight to the everyday. I am rediscovering the world through his eyes, finding the exceptional in the ordinary and marvelling at it all.

My husband and I laugh more than we ever did before our kid was born. And speaking of my husband, I've fallen in love with him all over again, watching him become a dad.

So, fellow parents of small people, next time you're having a whine, or a bitch, or a vent to someone without kids: Try to remember the good stuff. Don't pull back on your complaining because gosh dammit, toilet training is the very definition of hell on earth. But just try to throw in some of the good stuff as well.

The parents of the future will thank you for it when it's their turn.



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.  Email me (John Ray) here


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