Monday, January 14, 2019

Fury as councils ban 'politically incorrect' Australia Day celebrations because they are 'offensive to Aboriginals'.  (Australia day commemorates the landing of the first white settlers in Australia)

Very selective respect.  What about my heritage?  This disrespects my heritage as a 5th generation Australian.  Members of my family were here in the days of the Sydney penal colony.  My ancestors helped build this country up to what it is today and I honour them. They and those like them brought civilization to a vast and generally inhospitable land. I will of course be celebrating Australia Day -- in the great Australian tradition of a family BBQ -- JR

Councils across the country are axing Australia Day celebrations, to the fury of some residents, while some Greens MPs will attend 'Invasion Day' rallies instead.

Byron Bay in New South Wales, Fremantle in Western Australia and Victoria's Darebin, Yarra and Moreland councils are among the first to cancel official events on January 26.

The changes have been made out of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who see Australia Day as a time of mourning. 

The national public holiday recognises the date in 1788 when the First Fleet arrived and British sovereignty was declared on the land that would become Australia.

Recently however, many have questioned if the historic date of the celebration should be changed.

Inner-city Melbourne's Yarra City Council last year became the first in the country to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26.

Similarly, the City of Fremantle has held its Australia Day celebrations the day after the rest of the country for the past three years.   

City of Darebin Mayor Susan Rennie in Melbourne's north told SBS News her council 'will not be marking January 26 by holding any events' for the second year in a row.

The Byron Shire Council will hold celebrations on the evening on January 25 with citizenship ceremonies held the following day.

While the changes have been lauded by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, they have sparked backlash in other facets of the community.

Online, Perth residents expressed fury and confusion at the councils' desertion from January 26-based celebrations.

'It's all noise being made by loud greens voters and socialists. I can't imagine ever being so fragile I need to use atrocities of yesteryear as a red herring for me to project my insecurities onto happy Australians,' wrote one man.

'So your saying I can celebrate in city then again in Freo. How is that a bad thing?' joked another in reference to Fremantle's January 26 celebrations.

The comments come as it was revealed by The Australian that Greens MPs will attend 'Invasion Day' rallies around the country on January 26.

The move is part of a bid to pose political pressure toward Bill Shorten and the Labor Party to change their sway of support for Australia Day.

Greens' Indigenous affairs spokeswoman, Rachel Siewert told the publication that Mr Shorten's opposition to support changing the date was out of step with the majority of Australians.

'He says 'yeah we know a lot of Aboriginal people aren't happy with it', but he still thinks we should be celebrating on that day. He is trying to have it both ways,' she said.


Democrat Denounces Sen. Hirono’s ‘Religious Bigotry’ Against Catholic Judicial Nominee

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) denounced fellow Hawaii Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono’s “religious bigotry” against a U.S. District Court nominee’s membership in a Catholic charitable organization.

Last month, Sen. Hirono repeatedly grilled judicial nominee Brian Buescher regarding his membership in the Knights of Columbus – even suggesting Buescher should quit the charitable organization, if confirmed, Fox News reported at the time:

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, raised concerns about Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher's membership as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee's review of his nomination by President Trump to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, as first reported by the Catholic News Agency.

In a series of questions sent to Buescher, Hirono asked whether his membership in the Knights of Columbus would prevent him from hearing cases “fairly and impartially” and, if confirmed, whether he would end his membership in the Roman Catholic charitable organization.

In her written questions to Buescher, Sen. Hirono asked if, given the “extreme positions” taken by the Knights of Columbus on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, Buescher would quit the organization and recuse himself from all cases in which the group has expressed an opinion:

“If confirmed, will you recuse yourself from “all cases” in which the Knights of Columbus has taken a position?”

In an opinion piece published by The Hill on Tuesday, Hirono’s colleague, Rep. Gabbard condemned Hirono’s suggestion that Catholicism and membership in Catholic organizations should disqualify any judicial nominee:

While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus. If Buescher is “unqualified” because of his Catholicism and affiliation with the Knights of Columbus, then President John F. Kennedy, and the 'liberal lion of the Senate' Ted Kennedy would have been “unqualified” for the same reasons.

Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that there "shall be no religious test" for any seeking to serve in public office.....

While I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state as a necessity to the health of our nation, no American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based, service organization in order to hold public office.

On Wednesday, Sen. Hirono fired back at Gabbard, accusing her of being “misguided” and manipulated by “right wing ideologues.” In a statement by Hirono’s spokesperson published by Hawaii News Now, Hirono also asserted her right to scrutinize the religion of any judicial nominee:

“Senator Hirono, asks all judicial nominees – particularly those who have expressed very strong personal ideological views in conflict with Supreme Court precedent – if they can be fair. She asked Mr. Buescher, who has a clear record of anti-choice activism, whether he could separate his personal beliefs from decisions he would make if confirmed for a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. Over the past two years, the Senator has been attacked by right wing ideologues for her examination of Donald Trump’s ideologically-driven nominees to the courts. It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Gabbard based her misguided opinion on the far-right wing manipulation of these straightforward questions.”


Patreon is a threat to the free internet

We need to stand up to the Silicon Valley censors.

Inspired by the hippy culture of the Bay Area, Silicon Valley’s pioneers once waxed lyrical about an open internet of the future, in which empowered citizens could express themselves freely without fear of censorship or government control. Over the years, the internet and social media have become a de facto public square: central to political organising, campaigning and debating. Yet now, the big-tech firms of Silicon Valley want to sanitise this public square and are using their corporate muscle to silence certain voices.

The latest site to start purging wayward users is Patreon. Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that has become a key source of income for internet personalities, YouTubers, podcasters and more. Subscribers are usually offered rewards and exclusives, depending on how much money they are willing to pledge per month.

Recently it banned some controversial figures, including YouTuber Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, and the self-pronounced ‘dangerous faggot’ and failed author, Milo Yiannopoulos. Both Benjamin and Yiannopoulos are famous for their tirades against PC culture, both are deliberately provocative, and both have previously been banned from other platforms like Twitter. Whatever you think of these two and their politics, the reasons Patreon gave for banning them should worry us all.

In Benjamin’s case, he was banned for breaching Patreon’s rules against ‘hate speech’. Patreon pointed to his use of racial and gay slurs in a livestream last year, in which he referred to a group of alt-right trolls, who had been harassing him, as ‘niggers’ and ‘faggots’. In a YouTube video addressing his ban, Benjamin says he was using the white supremacists’ own language to get back at them.

Benjamin, of course, is no stranger to controversy. It is not the first time he has used ethnic slurs, gay slurs or sexist taunts. While it is not unreasonable to find this kind of language offensive – in an interview last week, Benjamin told spiked that being politically incorrect is ‘what I do’ – defending free speech means that no words should be off-limits, even if you intend to be insulting or provocative.

But in this case, the offending comments were not even made on the platform that expelled him. And nor were they made on Benjamin’s channel, which is largely funded through Patreon subscriptions. They were made on a livestream hosted by a minor YouTuber.

This might seem like a minor detail (and certainly does not excuse the comments) but there are worrying implications to this. It appears that tech companies like Patreon are now taking it upon themselves to police not only the content that you post on their own platforms, but also what you say and do in all other corners of the internet. We have become used to advertisers tracking our every click around the web — perhaps soon we will have to get used to every platform’s moderators following our every move.

Benjamin had been using Patreon for several years without any issues. Contributions from subscribers, known as ‘patrons’, made up half of his income until his ban. Yiannopoulos, on the other hand, was new to the platform before he was kicked off. Reported to be over £1million in debt, he joined Patreon to extend the begging bowl to his followers, offering fans the chance to join ‘Milo’s Big Gay Army’ of patrons for $2.50 per month or more.

Patreon banned Yiannopoulos for his past association with the Proud Boys, a men-only grouping of self-described ‘Western chauvinists’, formed by Vice co-founder turned right-wing YouTuber Gavin McInnes. Last year, the Guardian revealed that McInnes’ group was being tracked by the FBI, who classified it as an ‘extremist group with ties to white nationalism’. Both Milo and McInnes have distanced themselves from the Proud Boys since then.

Dubbed an ‘alt-right fight club’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its frequent brawls with Antifa groups, the Proud Boys is an undeniably unpleasant outfit. But Patreon even acknowledges that Yiannopoulos’s association with it was in the past and ‘since disavowed’. Nobody should be held responsible for the words and deeds of other people no matter how objectionable they may be, especially if you disavow them. Besides, is Milo not outrageous enough on his own?

In any case, bans like this are worrying because they set dangerous precedents for internet censorship. Patreon’s treatment of Benjamin and Yiannopoulos has shown that you can now be punished by one platform for what you say on another. And you can also be punished for what others say and do, even when you distance yourself from them.

The ‘Patreon purge’, as it has become known, has rightly angered many of its high-profile users, like Sam Harris, and a huge numbers of customers too, many of whom have vowed to boycott the service. YouTuber Dave Rubin and author Jordan Peterson are working to set up alternative crowdfunding platforms to circumvent the Silicon Valley oligopoly.

Let’s hope the big-tech censors remember their earlier mission to create an internet that is open and free.


UK: We must be free to criticise Islam

Why the UK government should not adopt a proposed new definition of Islamophobia

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims is calling on the government to establish a legally binding definition of ‘Islamophobia’, akin to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. Last November, the APPG launched its landmark Islamophobia Defined report, offering the following definition: ‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.’ To tackle what it calls Islamophobia, the report calls for ‘appropriate limits to free speech’ and for the policing and regulation of matters ‘far beyond what can be captured as criminal acts’.

Hatred towards Muslims has certainly resulted in some horrendous crimes, like the Finsbury Park van attack, where an innocent worshipper was murdered. Women in hijabs are also vulnerable to attacks, particularly following major terror events, due to their visibility as Muslims.

Nevertheless, there are serious problems with the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia, and indeed with the term Islamophobia itself. It is far too vague and it conflates attacks on Muslims (and non-Muslims) with criticism of Islam and of the behaviour of a minority of Muslims.

The charity I work for — the Network of Sikh Organisations — provided written and oral evidence to the APPG for the report. We argued that non-Muslims can also be victims of what is called Islamophobia. Sometimes this is because of race. For instance, in 2010, a pig’s head was thrown into the drive of a former government minister, Parmjit Dhanda. Dhanda is a Sikh. He doesn’t wear a turban and the last time we met he was clean shaven. The morons who hurled the pig’s head must have assumed that Dhanda was Muslim, purely on the basis of his ethnicity.

But ‘Islamophobia’ is not always rooted in racism. For a start, racism cannot adequately describe discrimination against either white converts to Islam or European Muslims like Bosniaks, Kosovars and Albanians.

Moreover, there have been a number of so-called mistaken-identity attacks since 9/11, where turbaned and bearded Sikhs have been targeted (and even killed) as they were mistaken for Muslims. The first person killed in ‘retribution’ for 9/11 was Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas-station owner in Mesa, Arizona.

In cases like this, religious symbols play a larger role than race. The Sikh dastaar (turban) and beard are often confused with Osama bin Laden’s keffiyeh or al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s turban. In fact, this phenomenon predates al-Qaeda, with the menacing images of the black-robed and turbaned Ayatollah Khomeini. In Sodhi’s case, his religious attire was confused with the symbols of the West’s enemies.

Similarly, some orthodox Rastafarian priests were prevented from boarding a US flight after 9/11. More absurd still, Swedish hipsters with beards were stopped by police who mistook them for members of ISIS. White British hipsters have not been spared this ignominy, either. In these cases, it was clearly their hirsute countenance, rather than their race, that led to them to be mistreated.

According to freedom-of-information disclosures I obtained from the Metropolitan Police, crimes against British Jews, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics have all been recorded as ‘Islamophobic’ hate crimes.

One major problem with a term like Islamophobia is that, even with a working definition, it is inherently subjective. When it comes to speech, who judges what is sufficiently ‘offensive’ to constitute a phobia? Who adjudicates what is permissible within the boundaries of free speech and what strays into forbidden, ‘phobic’ territory? Legitimate criticism of aspects of Islam could be silenced under the proposed definition of Islamophobia, or criminalised as ‘hate speech’.

For example, according to the APPG report, ‘claims of Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating minority groups under their rule’ may be ‘Islamophobic’. But that could censor discussion of historical facts, such as the gruesome aspects of the Mughal and Ottoman Empires or the Moor conquests, not to mention the crimes of modern-day ISIS.

The National Secular Society (NSS) has warned MPs that the term Islamophobia ‘confuses hatred of, and discrimination against, Muslims with criticism of Islam’. Liberal and secular Muslims, ex-Muslims, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners have all been labelled ‘Islamophobes’ for voicing opposition to Muslim clerics on issues such as women’s rights, gay rights, gender segregation in schools and forced hijab-wearing. In a letter to the home secretary, published in The Sunday Times, the NSS, Maajid Nawaz, Amina Lone, Mohammed Amin and others called the proposed definition ‘unworkable’. ‘Far from combating prejudice, erroneous claims of Islamophobia have become cover for it’, they write.

Those Muslims who put their head above the parapet to criticise Islam often face extreme prejudice from other Muslims. For instance, Britain’s counter-extremism czar, Sara Khan, writes in the Huffington Post of the ‘increasing anti-Muslim hatred’ that she receives ‘from fellow Muslims’. ‘It is contradictory and unjust to recognise non-Muslim perpetrators yet ignore Muslims who engage in active hostility, abuse, hatred and discrimination against other Muslims’, she writes. As the counter-extremism czar will know all too well, one ugly manifestation of this has been sectarian murder on Britain’s streets, whose victims include Asad Shah, an Ahmadiyya Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, and Jalal Uddin, a 71-year-old imam in Rochdale.

Furthermore, one of the victims of a Rotherham grooming gang argues that ‘non-Muslim hate’ or hate against ‘those with a perceived lack of Muslimness’ should be taken just as seriously as discrimination against Muslims. ‘As grooming victims, my friends and I were called vile racist names such as “white trash” and “kaffir girl” as we were raped. Our Sikh and Hindu friends who were also targeted by Muslim Pakistani gangs were disparagingly called “kaffir slags” too.’ The APPG’s Islamophobia Defined makes four references to grooming gangs. But it makes no effort to examine the motivations of the perpetrators. Instead, it suggests that discussion of grooming gangs could be Islamophobic.

The government will have the final say on whether to adopt the proposed APPG definition of Islamophobia. It must tread carefully. The adoption of this definition could have serious consequences for free speech. Its vagueness leaves it open to all kinds of abuse from religious extremists, who could use it to shield bigotry and abuse from challenge.



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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