Wednesday, February 27, 2019

SPLC's Hate Hoax: A New Report on 'Extremism'

There are many good reasons to treat SPLC's work as nothing more than leftist pablum.

In the midst of the endless news cycle surrounding Jussie Smollett’s hate-crime hoax, our own Louis DeBroux highlighted just how prevalent such hoaxes are. Ask yourself a simple question: Do we really live in a nation filled with hate groups committing rampant hate crimes when the hip new thing is to perpetrate fake hate crimes to get attention?

The nation’s premier hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, laughably insists the answer is yes and that it’s getting worse under President Donald Trump. In its newest Intelligence Report (try not to laugh), the SPLC calculates that the number of “hate” groups in the U.S. supposedly increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2018. Citing the report, The New York Times warns, “The law center said the number of hate groups rose by 7 percent last year to 1,020, a 30 percent jump from 2014. That broadly echoes other worrying developments, including a 30 percent increase in the number of hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. from 2015 through 2017 and a surge of right-wing violence that the Anti-Defamation League said had killed at least 50 people in 2018.”

U.S. News & World Report laid bare the blame game with the headline “Trump ‘Fear-Mongering’ Fuels Rise of U.S. Hate Groups to Record.” Clearly, this SPLC report is political, not an honest assessment.

Two points about reports from the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). First, as we observed in November, the reason “hate” crimes are supposedly on the rise is because hundreds more law-enforcement agencies have begun reporting such a category. So if that category is to be taken seriously instead of dismissed as political and subjective, all it means is that we’re now keeping count. Second, assume for a moment that the leftist ADL’s numbers are even remotely accurate (they’re not). Fifty murders is 50 too many for any reason, but blacks kill 50 other blacks in American inner cities every week. Is it a worse crime when the race of the perpetrator is white?

That brings us back to the SPLC. The organization is a tax-exempt, charitable organization with an endowment of $432.7 million. This war chest is used to tabulate a few actually hateful groups, but much of the organization’s very uncharitable efforts are spent serving as a bludgeoning tool for the Leftmedia and the Democrat Party. Why else would the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom be listed as “hate” groups? Or why would the SPLC warn about “members of Congress who traffic in hate and extremism” but only include Republicans and not, for example, actual anti-Semite Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar? A qualification for this political hate? Opposing same-sex marriage, just as Barack Obama did until 2012.

Despite — or rather because of — all this political chicanery, the SPLC is routinely cited by Leftmedia outlets as a “nonpartisan” and “objective” source for tracking hate in America. That is the essence of fake news.


Chicago has a very political police chief who closes his eyes to the real problems in the city

Now that the Chicago Police Department has, to its credit, solved the Smollett hate hoax, the comments from CPD superintendent Eddie Johnson beg closer scrutiny.

No doubt in Barack Obama’s hometown, there was a lot of pressure on Johnson to solve the “race hate-crime” case, but his attempt to pivot to “gun violence” was unacceptable, though consistent with the party line. After all, Johnson was fast-tracked by leftist Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be his superintendent, bypassing the three candidates selected by the Chicago Police Board.

In Johnson’s remarks, after the PD investigation shifted from one of hate-crime solving to hate-hoax-crime solving, he opened with this observation: “I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we are giving to this particular incident.”

Those lives do deserve more attention, but suffice it to say that if Johnson was sincere about that pivot, he would admit that the “gun violence” problem is actually a culture problem that is the direct result of generations of statist Democrat policies giving rise to the urban violence.

Regarding the hoax, Johnson said that the investigation shift “recognizes that [Smollett] took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.” Of course, most (not all) of the “pain and anger” in this era is the result of leftist political rhetoric to keep “people of color” beholden to the Democrat Party. Johnson may be so deep in that ruse that he actually believes it.

Johnson asked, “Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?”

In the next breath he answered his own question: “This phony attack received national attention for weeks. Celebrities, news commentators, and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor.” Smollett knew he could depend on the mainstream media and politicos to make his “attack” national news. But he badly overestimated his acting skills.

The sum total of the Left’s “weigh in” became part of the farce. Johnson said, correctly, “Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who is in need of support by police and investigators as well as the citizens of this city.”

He concluded, “I only hope that the truth about what happened receives the same about of attention as the hoax did.” But it didn’t and won’t. None of the Leftmedia talkingheads were as breathless in their coverage of the hoax as they were of the original hate-crime report.


Don't rant at Jordan Peterson – understand his appeal, then do better

This is one of many articles by intelligent Leftists that concede that Peterson has a point and could teach Leftists a lot

As Jordan Peterson tours Australia to promote his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, he is being met with protests every stop along the way. Peterson, whose roadshow continues on Monday night on the ABC's Q&A, has been attacked by some protesters for his purported sexism, racism, homophobia and other bigotry.

I find many of Peterson’s views appalling. From his advocacy of enforced monogamy to his  arguments in favour of social hierarchies, they can be regressive and reactionary. Yet, attending the protest in Canberra before his talk, I became confused.

A crowd of maybe 20 protested, chanted and gave speeches as people entered the theatre, but didn't engage with them at all. They yelled and labelled his supporters as sexists, racists or, as one speaker asserted, "incels [involuntary celibates] and pathetic basement dwellers".

I was dissatisfied with this approach. Despite the hyperbole, if you actually look at what Peterson says, it's easy to understand why he appeals to so many people. Our society is going through massive changes that bring rising social and economic insecurity and growing distrust of  democratic institutions.

Peterson provides a framework to understand these changes. His book is part self-help, part philosophy. He argues society is finely balanced between order and chaos, the latter emerging from our loss of shared meaning and values. He attempts to give readers a way out of the chaos. While mocked, his rules, ranging from "stand up straight with your shoulders back" to "pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)", present often sensible techniques for individuals to navigate life's difficulties. In these more psychological areas, Peterson is empathetic and insightful.

He offers a level of order and certainty through self-improvement and individual action, an approach best viewed in a BBC video in which he sits with young men at a boxing ring in a working-class area of Manchester. Peterson listens and connects the dots between their challenges and broader social change.

This doesn't mean we should accept his arguments. In providing his framework, Peterson blames the wrong people, and ignores the massive economic shifts caused primarily by neo-liberal capitalism. Offering individualised solutions to big social issues, he sells snake oil.

But it's not enough to dismiss Peterson and his followers as racists, sexists, homophobes, incels and pathetic basement dwellers. Yes, reject the bigotry, but we must connect the dots better than he does, understand the root causes of societal insecurity and address them. People are disenfranchised and looking for alternatives. Offer better ones than Peterson.


Many people do not believe that Australia's Cardinal George Pell is guilty of child sex offences

Nor do I.  We must note that he has not had his opportunity to appeal the verdict yet. It is common for verdicts to be overturned on appeal. So regarding the case as closed could be most unwise and expose those who do leap to conclusions to some contempt. John Crowley of St Patrick’s College in Ballarat certainly runs that risk.

One needs to note that the case boils down to one person's word against another and that fantasies about sexual matters can be readily taken as true when they are not -- as we saw in the hugely disgraceful matter of "Nick" in Britain, who is now being prosecuted for his lies.  He wrecked the lives of several people before he was disbelieved

It is reminiscent of the Nick affair that in this matter many of the details the complainant gave were improbable, if not impossible.

That the conviction is very fragile can also be seen in the fact that the first trial of the matter left a hung jury.  It was only on retrial that His Eminence was convicted. It seems likely to me that in such a finely balanced matter knowledge of misdeeds by other Catholic clerics swung the verdict towards guilt.  That is of course guilt by association, long recognized as a grave injustice

News of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for child sex offences is being greeted with disbelief by shocked Catholics around the world.

Pell is the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be found guilty of these offences and apparently, some just can’t believe it’s true.

Ed Pentin, the Rome correspondent for the oldest national Catholic newspaper in the United States, the National Catholic Register, has pointed to conspiracy theories circulating in the Vatican that Pell was set up.

“Most people here don’t believe the verdict,” Pentin told the Nine newspapers. “Most here believe Pell is innocent, certainly those who worked with him.”

Pentin said there was scepticism about the guilty verdict because Pell was investigating Vatican corruption and there was suspicion about the timing of the charges.

Suppression orders were lifted in Australia today that has allowed the conviction to be reported, although the judgement was handed down in December and reported by some international news outlets.

In an article for the Register, Pentin notes that after news broke in December about the verdict, a source told him, “People in court saw how flimsy the evidence was.

“This is an act of outrageous malice by a prejudiced jury. The media convicted him long ago in the court of public opinion and he did not receive a fair trial.”

Pell has faced years of negative coverage over what he knew, or should have known, about the activities of paedophile priests including the notorious Gerald Ridsdale, a former friend of Pell’s who was convicted of the abuse and indecent assault of 65 children, some aged as young as four years old.

Pell’s own hometown of Ballarat had such a high incidence of sexual abuse that the city was used as a case study in the final report of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, which Pell gave evidence at in 2016 via video link from Rome.

Some believe Pell became a poster child for all that went wrong with the way the Catholic Church handled the abuse scandal.

Victorian County Court’s Chief Judge Peter Kidd acknowledged this, telling the jury at his trial that “you must not scapegoat Cardinal Pell”.

Peter Westmore, Pell’s friend of two decades and who attended the trial, told reporters outside the court: “I think the public mind has been so contaminated by the misdeeds of the Catholic Church and by the complaints, which people have raised, which have not been dealt with, that they said, ‘Well, he must have been guilty.’”

Others believe Pell didn’t help himself by refusing to give evidence in his own defence.

“Pell didn’t take the stand, and that definitely made a negative impression; it doesn’t look good if you won’t deny it with your own lips,” one source told the Catholic News Agency in December.

However, Father Frank Brennan, a Jesuit priest who attended some of the Pell proceedings noted that the complainant’s evidence must have been compelling for the Cardinal to be convicted.

The media and public were not allowed to be present when the complainant gave his evidence, which is normal in sexual assault cases.

But the case hinged on this testimony and in the end, the verdict came down to the jury believing the complainant was telling the truth.

“I was very surprised by the verdict. In fact, I was devastated,” Father Brennan wrote in an opinion piece in The Australian.

He noted that Pell’s defence barrister, Robert Richter QC had poked holes in the complainant’s evidence but ultimately the jury had still found the Cardinal guilty.

“Although the complainant got all sorts of facts wrong, the jury must have believed that Pell did something dreadful to him,” Father Brennan wrote.

“The jurors must have judged the complainant to be honest and reliable even though many of the details he gave were improbable if not impossible.”

Pell’s old school St Patrick’s College in Ballarat has also announced it will remove the Cardinal’s name from a building that had been named in his honour. It will also revoke his status as a Legend of the school and a line will be struck through his name on a College honour board listing ordained former students.

“The jury’s verdict demonstrates that Cardinal Pell’s behaviours have not met the standards we expect of those we honour as role models for the young men we educate,” the school’s headmaster John Crowley said.

Mr Crowley said the college must respond to the jury’s findings, although it reserves the right to revisit the decision if the conviction is overturned on appeal.

Today Pell’s lawyers confirmed they have lodged an appeal against the conviction and Pentin does not believe it’s likely Pope Francis will take any action until this has been heard.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not commented on Pell’s conviction and either has Liberal MP Tony Abbott, a Catholic and vocal supporter of Pell in the past.

But senators Derryn Hinch and Sarah Hanson-Young are calling for the Cardinal to be stripped of his Companion of the Order of Australia.

Meanwhile, senior Catholic figures in Australia have also expressed shock and disbelief at the verdict.

“While acknowledging the judgment of the jury, I join many people who have been surprised and shaken by the outcome,” Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli said in a statement.

“I fully respect the ongoing judicial process, noting that Cardinal Pell continues to protest his innocence. An appeal against the verdict has been lodged. It is important that we now await the outcome of this appeal, respectful of the ongoing legal proceedings.”

He said his thoughts and prayers were with all victims who had been abused by clergy, religious and lay people in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

“I renew my personal commitment to do all I can to ensure victims of such abuse in Melbourne receive justice and healing,” Archbishop Comensoli said.

“I also acknowledge all in the Catholic Church who are walking with survivors and communities harmed by the scourge of abuse, and who are committed to building a culture of safety for our children and vulnerable people.

“At this time, may I assure you that I keep all involved in my prayer.”

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge released a statement on behalf of national body, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

“The news of Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on historical child sexual abuse charges has shocked many across Australia and around the world, including the Catholic Bishops of Australia,” the statement said.

“The Bishops agree that everyone should be equal under the law, and we respect the Australian legal system.”



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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