Friday, June 22, 2018

Church Forced to Remove 'Anger-Provoking' Billboards Declaring 'America Is a Christian Nation'

Billboards promoting a celebration of faith and freedom at the First Baptist Church in Dallas were removed after complaints from Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas Morning News.

The patriotic billboard campaign included the title of the sermon Dr. Robert Jeffress planned to deliver on June 24 — “America is a Christian Nation.”

“We were told by the billboard company that the message was divisive,” Jeffress told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show.”

The sermon title was inspired by comments made by Supreme Court Justices John Jay and David Josiah Brewer, both of whom described America as a Christian nation.

“The message will present the historical evidence for the bedrock of faith upon which America was founded,” said Jeffress.

However, the Dallas Morning News and Mayor Rawlings blasted the pastor’s sermon title by suggesting it was hateful and divisive.

“That is not the Christ I follow,” the mayor told the newspaper. “It’s not the Dallas I want to be — to say things that do not unite us but divide us. I never heard those words — that voice come out of Christ. Just the opposite. I was brought up to believe: Be proud of yours, but do not diminish mine.”

Columnist Robert Wilonsky started the controversy with a scathing column on June 7 titled, “First Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress’ gospel of division does not represent my Dallas.”

Wilonsky was apparently triggered by the patriotic billboard while stuck in traffic and suffered a massive microaggression.

“My rabbi warned me there would be days like this,” he wrote. “All I saw Wednesday was someone telling me and everyone else who does not worship Jesus Christ that we do not belong here.”

The following day the church received a message from the billboard company that its signed contract was being canceled and the billboards would be taken down.

“We are getting hammered by the media for the ‘America is a Christian Nation’ tagline on the billboards,” a representative of Outfront Media wrote to a church leader. “Dallas Morning News and other news affiliates are doing stories on how it’s offensive and bigoted. Someone called our corporate office in New York about the ‘offensive’ billboards and following our lawyer’s advice, we have to take them down ASAP.”

The church offered to revise the sermon title to “Is America a Christian Nation?” but that, too, was rejected by the billboard company.

“We were told that the title was ‘anger-provoking’ rather than ‘thought-provoking,’” the pastor told me.

The local representative was apologetic — but it was clear the New York-based company was no match for angry anti-Christian radicals.

“The reason those on the Left do not want people to hear my message is that they know the historical evidence is on my side that America was founded on the principles of the Christian faith,” Jeffress said. “We will not be deterred as we defend the foundational values of our country.”

City Hall spokesman Scott Goldstein defended the mayor on Twitter. “Mayor @Mike_Rawlings speaks for the real Dallas. The guy on the billboard does not,” he wrote.

To be clear, First Baptist Dallas has no beef with Outfront Media. It is a privately owned company and it has a right to decide who it does business with.

“We support the right of businesses to refuse service to customers based on religious conviction,” said Jeffress, who is also one of the top spiritual advisors to President Trump.

The problem, he said, is the Dallas Morning News and Mayor Rawlings. “It should greatly concern people of any faith when those in the press or government proactively seek to defeat, censor or silence any religious message with which they disagree,” Jeffress said.

I reached out to the mayor’s office for a comment. I asked one simple question: Did the city of Dallas directly or indirectly put pressure on the billboard company?

The mayor’s office did not respond to that question.   “We don’t believe Dallas city officials have any right to directly or indirectly be involved in censoring a church’s message,” Jeffress told me. And what about the Dallas Morning News?

“For the Dallas Morning News — who pose as champions of free speech — to try to censor our church’s message is gross hypocrisy,” the pastor said.

The key word is “try.” It turns out another billboard company offered to put up the church’s message on 20 billboards, not two.

In other words, Mr. Wilonsky might want to find another way to work — or else prepare for another traffic-jam microaggression.


Feminist professor asks bluntly in WaPo column, ‘Why can’t we hate men?’

The column was written by Suzanna Danuta Walters, sociology professor and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University. She proposed that men “lean out” by stepping away from positions of power and leaving them for women.

“Lean out so we can actually just stand up without being beaten down,” Walters wrote. “Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power.”

Glenn’s take:

“I’m not going to get outraged because she’s idiotic,” Glenn dismissed the piece. “The article stands as one of the more divisive, inflammatory pieces of rhetoric coming out of the radical left.”


UK: Tyranny of the minorities: We live in an age of mob rule by minorities in which anybody who disagrees with them is censored and freedom of expression is something only THEY enjoy

ONE of the great lines in 20th century films comes from Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire Dr Strangelove. The scene is a nuclear missile control bunker. With World War III imminent, two men scuffle until their boss, played by Peter Sellers, cries: ‘Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room!’

Er, what is a war room for if not fighting?

That gag came to mind this week when our so-called liberal Left went into convulsions of illiberality after author Lionel Shriver mocked the latest diversity madness. Writing in The Spectator, Ms Shriver poked fun at box-ticking, multi-cultural political correctness at publisher Penguin Random House, which is planning to commission authors on the basis of racial, gender and other quotas.

Such sacrilege proved a timebomb. Tick, tock, tick, tock — KABOOM! Bien pensants, when they heard accounts of Ms Shriver’s article, exploded. They were furious.

As Dr Strangelove might put it: ‘We can’t allow diverging views about diversity!’

No we can’t! At our universities, which are meant to be bastions of free thought, guest speakers are barred for fear they might so much as question Left-wing dogma. This happens to even such distinguished liberals as Germaine Greer and Peter Tatchell.

The forces of political correctness impose their unyielding views everywhere.

At Oxford and Cambridge, there are calls for statues of historic benefactors to be torn down because they do not comply with fashionable modern positions on minority rights. At Newcastle University, meanwhile, the students’ union demanded sanitary bins in men’s loos so as not to upset any students ‘with a range of genders’.

Supposedly apolitical charities try to thrust correctness down the gullets of their staff. The National Trust instructs country house guides to wear gay pride badges. The RNLI sacks long-serving lifeboatmen for using tea mugs with risque images of women.

Theatre companies are left in no doubt that they will not be given Arts Council subsidies unless they cast a number of ‘non-traditional’ actors — i.e., women playing Shakespearean kings or Afro-Caribbeans as English Regency fops.

Firms ban employees wearing crosses in case they offend non-Christians or atheists (but it’s fine to wear a burka).

Elsewhere, a popular fun run is told it should no longer ask runners to declare if they are men or women (campaigners insist that ‘non-binary’ athletes might take mortal offence).

The Armed Forces are pressured to spend precious funds on almost totally unnecessary gender-neutral lavatories.

Cake decorators are told they must accept commissions from gay couples, and that fool the Mayor of London removes the male and female symbols from pedestrian signals in order to conform with the latest hare-brained theories about gender.

We live in an age of the minority mob. An odd expression, I know. Mob rule used to be an assertion of power through violence by the great unwashed, be it in the French Revolution or America’s racist deep south, when it lynched individuals.

It has been replaced by the no less illogical (and hardly less chilling) hysteria of a knot of activists who weaponise minority rights — they seem particularly obsessed with lavatories — and wield them as a political threat against the majority. More often than not, these agitators themselves are not part of the minorities that have allegedly been offended. They belong instead to a class of professional busybodies who seize on the minorities game for their own ends.

‘Diversity’ is now a booming employment sector and it offers hefty salaries. More insidiously, others exploit it for political ends and furtherance of their own ambitions.

The Twittersphere is full of these self-appointed stewards of indignation who see it as their job to police the media and shout down anyone who dissents from received opinion.

Their strategy is to expunge divergence of views and crush resistance to their creed of racial and sexual egalitarianism. Freedom of expression is something only they can enjoy.

Lionel Shriver was swiftly condemned this week by people who pretty clearly had not read her article and were interested only in hurting her. They called her a neo-colonialist, a relic of ‘status quo bias’ and a supporter of ‘ingrained, insidious racism’. In short she was convicted of being a very nasty person (#human garbage, as they say online).

A gang of new writers from Penguin was organised into signing a denunciation of her and she was sacked from a literary awards judging panel run by a feminist magazine. Its editor was honest enough to admit that she was not distancing herself from Ms Shriver on account of her actual article. She was sacking her on account of the kerfuffle the article had caused.

The BBC and Left-wing media outlets such as the Guardian promptly piled into the melee, gleefully reporting these barbs against Ms Shriver. Someone was criticising quotas for minorities? Outrageous! Let’s authenticate her critics — and whip up further rage —by organising a phone-in or holding a studio debate on Radio 4’s Today programme!

It is worth looking at Ms Shriver’s article to see what she actually wrote. She began by noting that Penguin Random House had come up with a ‘company-wide goal’ that its authors must ‘reflect UK society by 2025’. Penguin announced: ‘We want our authors and new colleagues to reflect the UK population taking into account ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social mobility and disability.’

Such things would be more important, it said, than the matter of whether or not a prospective employee had been to university.

Ms Shriver proceeded to cite a questionnaire sent to Penguin authors about gender, sexuality and ethnicity. What had this to do with their writing ability? She concluded that Penguin was ‘drunk on virtue’ and no longer regarded its raison d’etre the ‘acquisition and dissemination of good books’.

‘Rather, the organisation aims to mirror the percentages of minorities in the UK population with statistical precision. Thus, literary excellence will be secondary to ticking all those ethnicity, gender, disability and sexual preference boxes.

‘We can safely infer from that email that if an agent submits a manuscript written by a gay transgender Caribbean who dropped out of school at seven and powers round town on a mobility scooter, it will be published, whether or not said manuscipt is an incoherent, tedious, meandering and insensible pile of mixed- paper recycling.’

In any sane country, Lionel Shriver’s article would be acclaimed as common sense. She was putting a meritocratic case — ie, people should be judged on their ability and talents. And who can really argue with meritocracy?

When we board an aeroplane, do we worry what sexuality or ethnicity the pilot has? No. We merely hope she or he knows how to operate the controls.

When we visit a dental practice, do we demand the medical professionals reflect the UK population’s minority profiles? I am more interested in their ability to drill and fill.

For the egalitarian commissars, higher considerations apply. For them, talent and ability come second to quotas of race, gender and sexual inclination.

This is because they want to broadcast that they are morally superior beings who support minorities. The politicians among them hope that, by appealing to those who identify themselves as minorities, they will win votes. This is called identity politics, but really it is the politics of the lunatic asylum.

There is a profoundly worrying problem with this tyranny of the minorities. By insisting every minority has preferential rights, you end up denying the majority their rights.

Imagine that you are applying for a job. You have all the qualifications and the necessary experience. But, as per that memorandum from Penguin Random House, you do not help the company ‘to reflect the UK population’.

Apologies, say your prospective employers, we can’t give you the job as another candidate has a disability/sexual preference/skin colour we haven’t yet ticked off our staff lists. We’d have loved to hire you, we really would, but our diversity policy means we need a one-legged Latino goat-fancier.

Diversity is supposed to stop discrimination. But what is this if it is not discrimination? Diversity is supposed to provide greater opportunities for people no matter their colour, creed, sexuality, gender, ethnicity or inside leg measurement. A reasonable onlooker will say ‘but we should encourage minorities’. Of course we should. But Penguin’s appalling policy will achieve the very opposite, for it will force the company to recruit a mirror image of the population.

The entirely noble idea of diversity thus becomes an inflexible rod. It becomes a menace. This will not make the majority feel more kindly towards minorities. It will ignite resentment. And how exactly does it comply with equality laws which forbid treating people differently according to ethnicity, race, sexuality or disability?

A few months ago, I had an experience like Ms Shriver’s when I criticised the Royal Shakespeare Company for what I felt was some clumsy, minority-quotas casting in a Restoration comedy. I asked if the RSC was being leaned on by the Arts Council (which places inordinate store by its diversity policies). Did it fear that unless it cast black actors in historically white roles it might not be given such big dollops of public cash?

Like Lionel Shriver, I did not suggest that minorities were creatively less gifted than anyone else. Not in the slightest. I merely questioned the wisdom and morality of putting political correctness before raw merit. For this, I was swiftly and repeatedly maligned and misrepresented. Whoomph!

The RSC denounced me as a racist and numerous blowhards in the subsidised theatre world pretty much compared me to Satan. Behind the scenes, senior theatre practitioners told me they completely agreed with me — but feared that if they said so in public, their careers would be damaged.

In medieval Spain, the Inquisition caused terror by chasing down anyone who uttered public heresy (i.e. questioned Roman Catholic dogma). The Inquisition itself was small, but it was brutally effective at snuffing out dissent. With fire and torture, it came down hard on a few prominent free-thinkers and that was enough to create widespread repression.

Spain’s population saw the way so-called heretics had been pulled limb-from-limb and it thought ‘crumbs, we’d better do what we are told’.

In medieval days torture was physical — men were boiled, put on the rack, or subjected to the Pear of Anguish, the Judas Cradle or the Saw, brutal instruments which concentrated pain on the most sensitive areas of the anatomy.

In more recent times, political regimes such as Mao’s China and Hendrik Verwoerd’s South Africa have suppressed dissent. I remember, as a child holidaying in Sixties Spain, being told never to utter out loud the name of the country’s fascist dictator, General Franco. ‘It’s just safer not to say it,’ said my mother.

Maybe someone should have given similar advice to Lionel Shriver. Maybe someone should have said: ‘Don’t mock diversity — it’ll only land you in the most frightful trouble’.

Under this tyranny of the minorities, that may be what you should do for an easy life. But the thing about tyrannies is that they are ruled, ultimately, by bullies. The way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them, as Lionel Shriver has done with such brave clarity.

British public life is not like Dr Strangelove’s war room. It is a place where the lively conflict of views should be welcomed as an essential part of a flourishing democracy. Freedom of expression has been fought for with blood over the centuries and is vital for liberal, civilised behaviour. No minority mob should ever be allowed to destroy that.


The UN Redefines What It Means to Be a 'Human'

In blatant violation of international law, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has unveiled a startling new campaign that claims "you have human rights since birth."

The unsettling image, which depicts a baby's arm with the statement written on a hospital bracelet, makes clear the position of this U.N. body-human rights should not be afforded to human beings until after they are born.

Abortion advocates might applaud this claim, but the position of the body flies in the face of established, and binding, international law on the rights of the unborn.

As the U.N. body in charge of human rights, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is mandated to uphold the international legal framework. Deploying the poster at strategic vantage points at the U.N. in Geneva serves as a provocative, and jarring, assault on the fundamental principle of the right to life enshrined in international law and the countries that continue to defend it.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the pre-eminent international treaty on children's rights, leaves no room for ambiguity in its preamble. "The child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth," it states.

Other international treaties unequivocally reference the right to life of the unborn, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In this treaty, the death penalty is prohibited for pregnant women to "save the life of an innocent unborn child," as explained in its accompanying interpretative documents (A/C.3/SR.819, paragraphs 17 & 33).

Although shocking, the ease with which the office goes against international law is not without precedent. Led by a high commissioner for human rights who functions largely without check, the office frequently has veered into areas that lack member state approval, running multimillion-dollar campaigns and issuing policy recommendations that overtly contravene international law, not to mention the will of member states.

Countries are subjected to regular policing in which they aggressively are urged to change their laws on matters that fall under domestic jurisdiction and have no bearing on human rights.

It is difficult to navigate the fine line between respect for a state's self-determination and the urgency of U.N. interference when human rights are at stake, but the activities of the human rights office far surpass the work of ensuring fundamental human rights.

The new round of posters, tied to the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reveals just how far the office is willing to go in its mission to overhaul international law to further a nonconsensual activist agenda that defies the traditional, religious, or ethical values that so many countries and peoples hold sacred.

The declaration, as with the other founding documents of international law, was expertly drafted to protect these values and leave room for crucial national self-determination. It is a great irony that the campaign is tied to the declaration, which is still considered the most important reference point on human rights today.

The mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is to promote and protect human rights and to coordinate the many human rights mechanisms of the United Nations to monitor and improve member states' compliance with the treaties they have signed.

It claims to be an "objective voice" on human rights, but it regularly issues highly coercive recommendations to states under the guise of human rights and uses a complex network of special rapporteurs, independent experts, and working groups to aid with enforcement.

These procedures are purportedly impartial and autonomous, but the human rights office's efforts to force countries to change their national laws on an array of highly sensitive social issues demonstrates a marked disregard for state sovereignty.

Much of the lack of accountability surrounding the office stems from the inherent tension in monitoring human rights. By its very nature, the task of overseeing countries' human rights records requires a fair amount of independence. The office must be free to make unbiased assessments regarding what is going with human rights at the country level.

But the subsequent autonomy that it enjoys has resulted in a flagrant disrespect for the very international legal documents that it was created to uphold. As evidenced by these posters, the time has come for increased accountability for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-the rights of the unborn all around the world are at stake.


Winning propaganda strategies for Israel

by David Weinberg, Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.

I’m just back from a speaking tour in Europe, where I was confronted with the challenge of justifying Israel’s actions on the Gaza border and even the country’s very legitimacy as a nation among nations.

The deep “psychological asymmetry” (as Dr. Irwin Mansdorf calls it) employed by Hamas and Fatah as a strategic weapon against Israel – is working. The Palestinians exploit civilians in order to meet strategic goals, by placing them in danger or condemning them to unending refugee life.

The ensuing misery gnaws away at the conscience of well-meaning and naïve observers around the world, and they find it hard to justify the “imbalance” in suffering between the Palestinians and Israel. The soft bigotry of low expectations (by Europeans of the Palestinians) excuses Mahmoud Abbas and Yihye Sinwar of any responsibility for their people’s predicament.

Then there is the radical progressivism which has captured much of mainstream political discourse in the West. This makes liberal people uncomfortable with the use of force by nation states in almost all cases.

Israel’s “over-dog” position and its frequent recourse to military action to defend itself is then magnified and manipulated by malign and much less naïve actors to skewer the Jewish state.

On this particular trip I also encountered a growing proclivity to take refuge in a false, manufactured dichotomy between “good old Judaism” and “bad new Zionism.”

The ancient Jewish faith is something to be admired and commemorated, you see. Jewish heritage is hip and Jewish history is interesting – all across Europe. (Perhaps this is the European way of awkwardly atoning for centuries of persecution of Jews).

But modern-day Jewish nationalism as expressed in the powerful State of Israel is a sin. Israel is a sinful country committing criminal acts against its neighbors and even against Judaism itself – I was told.

Only Palestinian statehood can redeem Israel’s rotten record, it would seem – even though there is no basis to believe that such a state will be anything other than one more failed, fractured and violent Arab country – perhaps radically Islamist – at war with Israel and its other neighbors.

Without admitting it, people speaking this way are deeply anti-Semitic in effect. The Jew they (claim to) like and (very belatedly) admire is a weak, cerebral Jew; a Diaspora Jew whose Talmudic literature is all-of-a-sudden filled with wisdom, and whose art and poetry is unexpectedly so very 21st century cultural.

But then there is the Jew they love to hate; the mighty and brawny Zionist Jew that wields the most formidable army in the Middle East and whose economy to just too damn overwhelming. That Jew is just too robust and zealous. Too vicious and potent. That Jew needs to be cut down to size.

BEYOND ALL THE USUAL pro-Israel talking points and debate tactics with which I am well familiar, I found on this trip that there were five key strategies that had some impact on my interlocutors.

First, don’t play the victimhood game. People out there don’t care, alas, how many dunams of fine Israeli agriculture have been burned by Palestinian incendiary kites, or how many Israeli women and children have been murdered by Hamas suicide bombers, or how many missiles Iran is giving Hizballah to fire into Israel.

The recounting of Arab atrocities, no matter how egregious, doesn’t wash. European liberals simply don’t see Israel as the underdog.

Second, history matters. The Six Day War was not an act of Israeli aggression, but a defensive war, and the Arab side lost fair and square. There never was a Palestinian state. Settlements are not colonialist outposts but express a Jewish “right of return” to ancestral lands. Israel placed three full-scale peace proposals on the table over the past 15 years involving Palestinian independence and almost-complete West Bank dominion – yet Abbas rejected all offers and preferred to fight on.

Few care much about this history, but it needs to be re-stated because it isn’t known and it goes to the core of Israel’s case.

Third, you have to emphasize, over and over again, that Israel seeks conflict resolution, not jihad; that Israel wants to resolve conflicts through compromise, not end conflicts by annihilation of the enemy. Say that Israel wishes to live at peace and cooperate with its neighbors, not to conquer Arabic and Islamic nations from Tunisia to Indonesia.

No matter how ridiculously self-evident this seems, the repetition of this truth is extraordinarily important. It isn’t obvious to many Europeans.

Fourth, it is simply not enough to explain Israel’s security dilemmas or revisit Israel’s diplomatic generosity towards the Palestinians. What’s needed is a much more basic restatement of Israel’s cause and purpose: Israel as a grand historic reunion of people and land, and as a just and moral actor in the medieval and violent Arab Middle East. Israel wins when you speak about justice and the Jewish nation.

Fifth, and most important of all, don’t be embarrassed by Israel’s strength. Admit to it. Flaunt it.

As counter-intuitive as this may seem, especially in contrast to the “outstretched hand for peace” narrative described in a previous paragraph, never apologize for using “disproportionate” force. Instead, articulate the reasons why and the circumstances under which Israel must use force to defend its homeland, and don’t be shy about it.

Largely, this means sharing Israel’s dilemmas with your audience. It’s okay to agonize a bit over the need to be a ferocious military power; dwelling on this is truly Israeli and it is humanizing. But never ask for forgiveness or suggest that Israel will pull its punches just to win a nice guy award.

I have found that forthright, unashamed talk has salutary impact. Without being nasty or unfeeling regarding our adversaries, one can convey a deep sense of sincerity and believability by verbalizing Israeli red lines and enunciating core Zionist commitments. People are forced to respect that, even if they won’t impute to you awe-inspiring humanity. Better shock-and-awe than shrink-and-whimper.

Grudgingly, even Europeans come to see that you have a point; a perspective that might be tough and gruff, but that also might be reasonable under the circumstances.



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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