Friday, June 05, 2020

When a White Man Can’t Breathe

Cary Aspinwall and Dave Boucher are investigative reporters for The Dallas Morning News. They deserve a Pulitzer Prize for an article written last summer that apparently no one in America has read, which is why I am summarizing it here today. It was about a man named Tony Timpa who cried for help more than 30 times as Dallas police officers pinned his neck to the ground. Before he died, Timpa shouted repeatedly, “You’re gonna kill me!”

And kill him the police officers did. After Timpa became unconscious, the officers who had him cuffed assumed he was asleep. As the minutes passed, the officers joked about waking him up for school and making him waffles for breakfast.

Body camera footage shows first responders waited at least four minutes after Timpa became unresponsive to begin CPR. Even worse, the police officers pinned his handcuffed arms behind his back for nearly 14 minutes and zip-tied his legs together. Shortly after he was loaded onto a gurney and put into an ambulance, Timpa was pronounced dead.

This culminated an incident that began when Timpa called 911 from the parking lot of a Dallas porn store. He told a dispatcher he suffered from schizophrenia and depression and was off his prescription medication. Later, police incident reports falsely claimed Timpa’s behavior that night was aggressive. In stark contradiction, the police video shows Timpa struggling to breathe and asking the officers to stop pinning him down.

In another contradiction, contained in a portion of a custodial death report submitted to the state of Texas in 2016, the department answered "no" to questions about whether Timpa resisted arrest or otherwise behaved aggressively. Indeed, a private security guard had already handcuffed him before police arrived.

Shockingly, footage from the police video shows officers mocking Timpa as he struggled to live. Shortly after one officer ridicules Timpa’s cries for help, an officer observes that he appears to be “out cold.” Nonetheless they joked that he was merely asleep and tried to wake him saying, “It’s time for school. Wake up!” One officer mockingly says, “I don’t want to go to school! Five more minutes, Mom!”

One of the medical responders to the scene falsely claimed, “I was unable to assess the patient due to his combativeness.” However, police video footage shows that the responders attempt to take Timpa’s blood pressure while he is still conscious, about five minutes before administering a powerful sedative.

Timpa died within 20 minutes of police arriving at the scene. An autopsy ruled Timpa's cause of death sudden cardiac death due to "the toxic effects of cocaine and the stress associated with physical restraint." Nonetheless, a criminal case against the police officers that were present never made it to trial.

The three officers -- Kevin Mansell, Danny Vasquez and Dustin Dillard -- were indicted by a grand jury in 2017 on charges of misdemeanor deadly conduct. After two days of testimony, the grand jury's indictment stated that the "officers engaged in reckless conduct that placed Timpa in imminent danger of serious bodily injury." However, in March, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot dismissed the charges.

The Dallas Police Department's internal affairs investigation resulted in Dillard, Mansell and Vasquez being disciplined for "conduct discrediting" the department. However, those allegations were later dropped. Vasquez and another officer present at Timpa's death also received written reprimands for "discourtesy" and "unprofessionalism." 

Mansell and Vasquez were placed on administrative leave in December 2017. Dillard was also placed on leave in March 2018. But the officers returned to active duty in April after Creuzot dropped the criminal case against them.

The police video shows that Dillard pins Timpa to the ground with his knee in his back for more than 13 minutes. When the officers first arrived at the scene, they told Timpa he would be OK. “We’re going to get you some help, man,” one of the officers tells him. But within 15 minutes, Dillard can be heard saying: “I hope I didn’t kill him.” Finally, Dillard turned to someone before shutting off his camera and said, “Sorry. We tried.”

This is how three police officers presided over the death of Tony Timpa. There were no George Soros funded protests. There were no Antifa riots. He was only 32. And he was only white.

Nonetheless, it is time to re-open this case in the court of public opinion, if not a court of law. Only then will we learn whether current outrage over the death of George Floyd is based upon righteous indignation or political opportunism.


Bush Condemns Riots but Promotes Myth of Systemic Racism

He calls for unity by capitulating to the "social justice" dogma that America is a racist nation.

George W. Bush released a statement calling for unity and racial justice while expressing solidarity with those currently protesting the unjust death of George Floyd while in police custody. However, rather than question the leftist “social justice” activists’ dubious narrative of “systemic racism” — a charge that has been repeatedly debunked by hard data and a variety of studies — Bush simply echoed the same narrative as Barack Obama. “It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country,” Bush lamented. “It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future. This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?”

The former president added, “The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.” In other words, anyone who dares question the “social justice” dogma of “systemic racism” is condemned as “part of the problem.” Feelings trump facts.

The only means to finding a genuine solution to any problem is to first accurately identify the problem. Unquestioningly accepting a narrative — in this case one that is itself based upon radical racial identitarianism — as the gospel truth will only lead to false solutions that may only exacerbate the genuine problem.

While Bush, like almost every American, is justifiably upset and angered by the callous, indifferent, and deadly actions taken by four Minneapolis police officers, that doesn’t excuse him or anyone else from propagating a false narrative. “Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason,” he asserts. “Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions.” Is that true? Is it only black Americans today who suffer repeated violations of their rights with no response from American institutions? Not according to the data. Do black Americans suffer repeated violations of their rights at a higher rate than other Americans? Again, not according to the data. Do black Americans feel their rights are violated more often than other Americans? Clearly many do, though thankfully not all, as there is a small but growing number of black Americans who reject this racist narrative — our own Patrick Hampton and Willie Richardson among them. But this subjectivity of feelings is being used as the primary “evidence” of “systemic racism.”

We’ll give Bush credit for speaking out against rioting and violence. “We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means. Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress,” he wrote. “But” — and there’s always a “but” — “we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all.”

Recognizing that many people across the country are angry over a crime is understandable. Blaming wholly innocent people for somehow being a cause of the crime is unjust, and Bush should know better. After all, was he not falsely labeled a racist by many on the Left following Hurricane Katrina? Then again, maybe his own bitter experience is why he issued this statement.


De-platforming in Daily Life

Complaining about censorship ahead of the 2020 elections, President Trump signed an executive order that encourages the Federal Trade Commission to probe whether Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media are biased against conservatives.

Such an order raises questions about de-platforming – excluding those who have the wrong politics on grounds that they are haters – to a new and welcome level. But it is mistake to focus only on companies dealing with information and communications, as is the case now. Yes, the educational system, traditional media, social media, non-profit organizations, and advertisements are problematic. Of course, information has vast importance; but de-platforming has quietly and ominously crept much further and affects much of daily life.

Left-wing organizations (the Southern Poverty Law Center in the United States, Hope Not Hate in the United Kingdom) drive this trend by pressuring businesses to refuse commerce with "haters." (Never mind that SPLC has its own severe problems). And while universities and the social media giants make a show of reaching out to conservatives, that's mere tokenism. In fact, de-platforming overwhelmingly targets those on the right, including social conservatives, limited immigration advocates, anthropogenic climate change skeptics, Islamism critics, and Israel supporters.

Some examples of de-platforming in daily life:

The Red Hen restaurant expelled Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Hospitality providers have jumped into the de-platforming business with gusto. On a micro scale, a restaurant owner expelled a White House official dining in Lexington, Virginia, for political differences. After this incident, Rep. Maxine Waters called on fellow-leftists to "harass" Trump aides: "they're not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they're not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they're not going to be able to shop a department store." The subsequent verbal assault on Tucker Carlson's daughter must have pleased Ms Waters.

On an institutional level, Eventbrite canceled issuing tickets for a talk by Pamela Geller for the New York Young Republican Club. Norwegian Cruise Line dropped Rebel Media after it had booked and advertised a cruise. Hyatt Hotels and Mar-a-Lago canceled events hosted by Act! For America. Airbnb de-platformed Jewish hosts living on the West Bank (while still accepting Palestinian ones). Uber and Lyft expelled Laura Loomer from their car-share services on account of her tweets.

Amazon Smile, a service that designates one-half of one percent of Amazon sales to non-profits, excluded organizations listed by the SPLC as "hate groups." O2, a UK internet provider, essentially blocked access to my website, Internet de-platforming can have direct financial consequences: YouTube demonetized (another neologism: removed the ability to make money) videos presented by Dennis Prager and Tommy Robinson.

Financial institutions joined the movement. Citibank gave the Israel Independence Fund one month to decamp. Capital One dropped Appalachian Gun, a store in rural Georgia. MasterCard and Visa refused to process donations to the David Horowitz Freedom Center. PayPal suspended the accounts of United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) members and donors. Reviewing the role of credit-card companies in what he calls "financial blacklisting," Allum Bokhari of Breitbart concludes that "the encroachment of progressive ideology into the financial industry" poses a "terrifying new threat to freedom" in Western societies.

Add governments to the de-platforming trend. The federal U.S. tax authority improperly denied tax-exempt status to Z Street, a Zionist organization. In a first step toward denying tax-exempt status to 60 organizations that the SPLC deems to be "hate groups," Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing in September 2019 on "How The Tax Code Subsidizes Hate." The German government already took this step by withdrawing the tax-exempt status of, a conservative website. Leading German politicians hope to exclude members for the Alternative für Deutschland party from holding civil service jobs. The British government refused entry to Geert Wilders, as did the Australian to Milo Yiannopoulos.

A unit of the British National Health Service, followed by the whole of England, announced that patients who engage in "racist or sexist language, gestures or behavior ... will be challenged and warned"; then, should the problem continue, treatment will be "withdrawn as soon as is safe." How soon before NHS employees exploit this regulation to deny service to a polite critics of climate change or Islamism?

A restaurant, a ticketing service, ride-share companies, a cruise line, a hotel chain, President Trump's private club, a lodging broker, a retail store, an Internet provider, a video hosting company, banks, credit-card companies, a payment system, governments, and hospitals: the list is long, scary, and constantly expanding.

For conservatives, these deprivations threaten livelihood, dignity, and enfranchisement. They do constitute a "terrifying new threat to freedom" and deserve much more attention, planning, and resources than at present. Resistance must be organized; new, neutral institutions must be established. The time is now, without waiting for government action, and before the walls close in further.


Are You a White Supremacist?

A chart circulating on social media depicts “overt white supremacy” that is “socially unacceptable” above all the various things that amount to “socially acceptable” “covert white supremacy.”

Clearly, everyone but actual racists would argue that lynching, burning crosses, displaying swastikas, and using the N-word are indeed unacceptable and should have no place in American society.

But that’s where the chart jumps the shark. There are more than 50 other practices, thoughts, or phrases that the “woke” folks peddling the chart say amount to prevalent and accepted white racism. A few of the things are understandably labeled as such — when they’re actually happening. Ironically, though “Make America Great Again” makes the list for white supremacy, “mass incarceration” of blacks was largely brought about by the man who wants to defeat President MAGA, Joe Biden. And Donald Trump has taken concrete steps to rectify the system.

For the most part, however, this list of skin sins is largely the pulp fiction of the Left’s alternate reality. Several of the items are so absurd we’ll admit we had to look them up just to even know what the chart maker meant. (Did anyone else know what the heck “fetishizing BIPOC” means?)

Others are the same tired cultural battles we’ve been fighting for decades. “Celebration of Columbus Day” is not white supremacy. Sports mascots are not racist. (Who names a team after something they want to degrade? Do these yahoos even watch sports?) Exceptionalism is not bigoted. Saying “we’re all one big human family” should be unifying (E pluribus unum, and all that), not evidence of some phantom prejudice.

We could go on but why bother? This is not a thoughtful exercise prompted by those who love our country and want to encourage racial healing. It’s the petty airing of grievances by angry leftists who want to classify every white conservative as a white supremacist and every black conservative an Uncle Tom. It’s political horse pucky, not cultural advancement.



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

Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Left Couldn't Care Less About Blacks

Dennis Prager

Virtually every conservative in America knows the title of this column is true. Virtually every leftist knows it, too, but lying for the cause is what the left does (think "Russian collusion"). And those liberals who have become increasingly indistinguishable from leftists know it's probably true but won't say so -- lest they side with conservatives and, more importantly, be branded "racist" by the left. How the left brands a person now determines many people's moral and political positions.

If the left cared about blacks, leftists would work to raise blacks to universal academic standards, not lower and abolish standards as they have done for decades, most recently in abolishing the SAT exam at the University of California.

If the left cared about blacks, leftists would work to elevate all people, including blacks, not only to universal academic standards but also to universal personal/moral standards. Perhaps the most obvious of these is that women should marry before having children, and men should stay in the lives of children they conceived -- ideally as the husband of their mothers, but at least as a father, mentor and breadwinner. But when University of Pennsylvania Law School professor Amy Wax wrote a column advocating such "middle-class, bourgeois" standards, leftists denounced her as a "white supremacist" (as if those are "white" values -- a racist view if there ever was one) and "racist." Nearly half her Penn Law colleagues denounced her.

If the left cared about blacks, they would encourage a vibrant religious life in the inner city (and everywhere else, for that matter). What proportion of black (or nonblack) murderers had attended church the Sunday before they committed murder? But the left despises traditional Judeo-Christian religions as much it despises America.

If the left cared about blacks, leftists would increase -- not lobby and demonstrate to decrease -- police presence in black neighborhoods, where blacks are murdered, raped and beaten in the thousands each year by other blacks -- almost never by whites, whether policemen or anyone else. In 2016, the last year for which I could find FBI data, 2,870 blacks were murdered. Of those, 2,570 of their murderers were black; 243 were white.

A typical left-wing reaction to all this was written in June 2019 by journalist Michael Coard in the Philadelphia Tribune: "Today's black so-called thugs/monsters are created by the evil American system that miseducates them, unemploys them, underemploys them, over-polices them, and over-incarcerates them. America is Dr. Victor Frankenstein." Note "over-polices."

Coard is correct about one thing: Today's blacks are often miseducated, which leads to their unemployment, underemployment and other terrible consequences. Who has been running America's schools for decades now? (Hint: Not the right.) But that doesn't cause violence. Black murderers and rapists are the only people in America told that no matter what they did, they are not responsible for it. America is. And the people telling them that are all on the left.

Why does the left do this?

First, because, as opposed to liberals, the left -- everywhere in the world -- hates America. And why does the left hate America? Because it is a living refutation of left-wing ideology. America is the most successful country while also being the most capitalist, most religious and most nationality-affirming of all the industrialized democracies.

The left-wing mantra of "America is racist" has little to do with caring for blacks; rather, it is indispensable to bringing America down.

Second, without a lopsided black vote for the left-wing party, the Democrats, no Democrat could get elected to national office. It is therefore imperative to repeat as often and as vociferously as possible how anti-black America is. The angrier a black person is at America, the more likely he or she is to vote Democrat. Some years ago, after talking to listeners of every race on my radio show for decades, I came up with this riddle:

"What do you call a happy black person?"

Answer: "A Republican."

To the left, blacks are not real people as much as they are an electoral bloc. How else to explain Joe Biden's recent comment, "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black." The contempt for blacks -- from the sentiment that one is "not black" unless one is a Democrat to his use of the word "ain't" -- is obvious to any nonleftist.

Further proof that the left doesn't care about blacks is that the left doesn't care about any group in whose name it speaks. The left uses groups to attain power and to give themselves moral legitimacy.

The communists never gave a damn about workers, but they preached incessantly on workers' behalf.

Left-wing feminists don't give a damn about women. Girls in Connecticut and elsewhere routinely lose track competitions to biological males who identify as female. Every rational person knows this is unfair to female athletes. But feminists, with very few exceptions, side with the biological males who identify as female. And the few who speak up on behalf of women -- such as the lifelong gay and feminist activist, tennis champion Martina Navratilova -- have been rejected as LGBT or feminist spokeswomen.

And whereas liberal Jews constituted a bedrock of support for Jews and the Jewish state, left-wing Jews, like George Soros, don't give a damn about Jews or Israel. Likewise, their support for Palestinians has nothing to do with care for Palestinians; it is all about hatred for Israel and America.

Tears for George Floyd are universal and justified. Anger at what happened to him is universal and justified. But for leftists, that poor soul is little more than a weapon to be used in their ongoing rage against America, the police and white people. And to further enrage blacks against them.


Trump Holds Bible in Front of Church, Libs Everywhere Are Triggered

President Trump provided the nation a perfect social media snapshot of why so many of us are way beyond being able to see the American Left as anything but a bunch for raving lunatics.

Yeah, I may be a little over the top now, but I think I’ve been drowned in so much hyperbole and anti-Trump hysteria AMID THE PANDEMIC that I now feel like responding in kind.

It began when Trump gave a speech from the Rose Garden addressing the violence of the past few days that expressed some sentiments that are difficult to find fault with:

“All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd,” Trump said, adding that “For George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain. But we cannot allow the righteous cries of peaceful protesters to be drowned out by an angry mob.

“The biggest victims of the rioting are the peace-loving citizens in our poorest communities. And as their president, I will fight to keep them safe.

“I will fight to protect you. I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters,” Trump said.

Trump then pointed out what has been plain for all to see: there has been a complete failure of leadership in every city where the violence has gotten out of hand. He was polite and didn’t mention that they were all Democrats running those cities.

We all know the drill well by now: the liberals are going to complain no matter what Trump does. Prior to the speech, they were complaining that he was hiding. Then they bitched about the speech. Then they really lost it over what he did next. Victoria covered it here:

"And then he walked off and lead a group of government officials, including Attorney General Bill Barr and Defense Secretary Mark Esper and walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House. The White House press corps was not aware of the plan."

Trump’s former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders captured the proper sentiment of the symbolism of the moment:

The desecration of St. John’s church by an angry mob was an act of cowardice. President Trump standing before it and holding a Bible is an act of courageous leadership. Let’s honor #GeorgeFloyd by peacefully standing up against injustice and loving one another as God loves us.

Yes, it was a photo op. They happen all the time in politics. Politicians and media hacks who pretend to be outraged by them are generally full of crap. Some of them are rather pointless. Others — like this one — can be powerful and necessary.

Less than 24 hours earlier, St. John’s was on fire and the riot types were wreaking havoc all around the White House. Trump’s quick walk over to the church provided the message that the none-too-peaceful protesters would not prevail. It wasn’t offensive, but we’re living in the era of ORANGE MAN BAD.

Liberal heads were immediately on fire. Both the pastor of St. John’s and the local Episcopal bishop let the leftmedia know that they were unhappy with the president. That actually reflects more poorly on the Episcopalians than it ever would President Trump.

The very same people who were offended by Trump posing with a Bible have been twisting themselves into knots to pretend that all of the burning and looting going on across the country is the result of just a “few bad seeds” who happened to be interfering with all of the fine young protesters out there.

The Democrats do love to gravitate toward criminals and publicly badmouth all law enforcement

Almost every high-profile Democrat who’s spoken publicly about these riots has lied. I would say they all have, but I may have missed the one good seed out there. They would rather go easier on the people who are setting churches on fire than on a president who wants to de-escalate tensions.

It’s not difficult to pick sides here.  Yeah, I Like This Guy


De Blasio Infuriates New Yorkers When He Explains Why Protests Are Allowed But Prayer Services Aren't

Mayors and governors were quick to shut down their cities and states in the wake of the coronavirus. But some of those same officials seem just as eager to encourage citizens to go out, break social distancing guidelines and protest.

Americans certainly have the right to protest the brutal Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, who went motionless as officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for several minutes. But riots are not the answer. And it can be argued that large scale protests run the risk of spreading COVID-19, right when it seemed the number of cases was starting to decline.

Mayor de Blasio is encouraging New Yorkers to peacefully protest, which made some reporters wonder why religious New Yorkers couldn't exercise their First Amendment rights as well.

Hamodia reporter asks why protest is allowed when prayer services aren’t.@NYCMayor @BilldeBlasio: “400 years of American racism, I’m sorry, that is not the same question as the understandably aggrieved store owner or the devout religious person who wants to go back to services”

New York continues to be a disturbing epicenter of violent riots. On Monday, multiple police officers were run over by protesters. Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo charged that the mayor just isn't doing his job and that last night was a "disgrace."


America's Binary Lens - We Will Never End Racism With Racism

After protests and violent riots erupted across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, many resorted to the familiar attempt to segregate people into one of two categories - the good and the bad. Unfortunately, the American propensity for categorizing individuals by immutable characteristics results in descension into arguments over irreconcilable differences, promoting nothing but further division and hatred.

For some, the protests and riots were conflated as an equally valid expression of rage in the face of systemic racism and vicious police brutality. For others, they were seen as an opportunistic excuse to justify violence, destruction, and looting.

For some, Black Lives Matter is an entirely just cause, fighting against the perception that black lives are seen as less valuable in the eyes of law enforcement or general society. For others, Black Lives Matter is seen as a violent political activist group who judge the validity or invalidity of deaths solely by the racial characteristics of the victim and alleged perpetrator, while simultaneously ignoring a multitude of politically-inconvenient victims and politically-inconvenient perpetrators.

For some, All Lives Matter is built solely upon the refusal to acknowledge the notion of racism at any level in our society, or the existence of individual racists. For others, it is the acknowledgement that every innocent life that is lost is an avoidable tragedy which should be equally condemned, regardless of political implications.

The problem is that there are elements of truth and falsehood in every categorization, with a broad spectrum of positions in the ideological No Man’s Land which exists in between. However, with the destruction of nuance, objectivity, and respect, the extreme viewpoints are the only positions given any oxygen in our vicious political arena.

The Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter movements should be arguing in favor of the same objective - the prevention of the destruction of innocent life. Instead, both sides are deliberately misinterpreted to solidify the division. Black Lives Matter becomes a movement which sees every police officer as a figure of racial injustice, and All Lives Matter becomes a movement which dismisses the notion that any single police officer is guilty of wrongdoing with racist intent.

Such binary categorization is the foundation of the very racism which many claim to abhor. While this foundation remains in place, nothing will change. Until we see people as individuals and judge their actions and choices accordingly, we will be incapable of achieving justice for those who fall victim to racial violence. Until we see people as individuals, we will be unable to separate the protesters from the rioters, the genuine activists from the political opportunists, or the consistent anti-racists from the sporadic anti-racists.

This past weekend was one of the worst in recent American history. However, through the smoke and the blood and the rage shone the moral righteousness that is at the heart of the American spirit. People of all races, all genders, and all backgrounds came together to protest peacefully and voice their valid opinions. They came together to decry the violence and protect businesses and police officers from violent attacks. They even volunteered to clean the streets in the mornings after the violence had temporarily subsided. These people didn’t share a skin color or a political affiliation, but they did share a common compassion and empathy for their neighbors, exemplifying what it means to be an American.

The toxicity of binary ideology is poisoning our country’s very core. Instead of acknowledging the broad and virtually unanimous position that racism is deplorable, it is seen as one of America’s most reliable political footballs. Politicians rush to blame their opponents, the media rush to focus on the worst amongst us, and we rush to categorize ourselves and our opponents as the entirely “good” or the entirely “bad.” Meanwhile, racism continues unchallenged.

Instead, let’s focus on where we agree. Let’s focus on what should be our common goal. Let’s focus on moving forward together in the objective fight against racist individuals, rather than allowing the fight against “systemic” racism to be hijacked by the politically hypocritical who only seek to fuel further hatred, division, and violence.

Judging those around us solely by skin color is racist, and we will never end racism with racism.



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

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Roberts Fails to Uphold First Amendment Religious Rights

SCOTUS rules 5-4 against California church's challenge of Gov. Newsom's restrictions.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against San Diego’s South Bay United Pentecostal Church in its lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s restriction limiting places of worship to meetings no larger than 25% of a building’s capacity or no more than 100 people, whichever is less. Tellingly, Newsom has not applied these restrictions on secular venues such as supermarkets, offices, and restaurants — none of which are listed in the First Amendment. This conflict has been a theme during lockdown.

Siding with the four liberal justices against the church, Chief Justice John Roberts contended, “Similar or more severe restrictions apply to comparable secular gatherings, including lectures, concerts, movie showings, spectator sports and theatrical performances, where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time. And the order exempts or treats more leniently only dissimilar activities, such as operating grocery stores, banks and laundromats, in which people neither congregate in large groups nor remain in close proximity for extended periods.” Essentially, Roberts views church services as “nonessential” activities. So much for the right to peaceably assemble and freely exercise religion.

Rejecting assertions that Newsom’s order violates Californians’ First Amendment right to religious liberty, Roberts argued a rather tortuous “states rights” rationale for refusing to challenge the constitutionality of the order — and in so doing threw the Court’s credibility under the bus. Roberts lectured, “Where those broad limits are not exceeded, they should not be subject to second-guessing by an ‘unelected federal judiciary,’ which lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.” In short, Roberts both hid behind a reticence to be an “activist” and appealed to that tired trope of “trusting the experts,” as if all experts are always in unanimous agreement, in order to avoid actually addressing the issue.

Writing for the dissent, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was unequivocal: “I would grant the Church’s requested temporary injunction because California’s latest safety guidelines discriminate against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment. Absent a compelling justification (which the State has not offered), the State may not take a looser approach with, say, supermarkets, restaurants, factories, and offices while imposing stricter requirements on places of worship.” Kavanaugh added, “The State cannot ‘assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work or go about the rest of their daily lives in permitted social settings.”

Finally, it has become increasingly clear that Roberts can’t be counted on to be constitutionally consistent, demonstrated by his chastisement of the conservative justices’ dissenting opinion. What is the job of the judiciary if it is not to judge whether the actions of an executive or the laws passed by legislators are in conformity to the Constitution?


Mayhem: Rioters Set Historic Church Ablaze Near the White House

It's past the 11 p.m. ET Sunday night curfew in Washington, D.C., but hundreds of people are still out rioting in the nation's capital. For several nights in a row now, major cities have been upended by rioters and looters in reaction to the police killing of an unarmed, African American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis last week.

The mayhem in D.C., it seems, began in full force at Lafayette Park, not far from the White House. Demonstrators jumped the gated barrier, forcing park police to move forward and try to push individuals back.

The night only devolved from there. One of the most devastating scenes of destruction in D.C. has to be the fire at St. John’s Episcopal Church on H Street, which has stood in D.C. since 1816. Just how historic is it? Every president since James Madison has worshipped there at some point. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. But rioters, it appears, lit the church on fire Sunday, and the inferno was captured on camera by Fox News reporter Kevin Corke.

Thankfully, D.C. fire crews rushed to the scene and appear to have put out the fire.

At least 50 Secret Service members were injured in the riots.

Former D.C. homicide detective Ted Williams, who was sickened by this evening's scenes, said part of the problem was that the D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser set an "ignorant" 11 p.m. curfew, because law enforcement is at a disadvantage at this time of the night.

"This is no longer about George Floyd," he said. It's about committing crime.


It’s Not About Race

The Left exploits another black victim

David Horowitz

A black man is arrested and murdered in an act of heinous violence while handcuffed and defenseless. Three fellow officers, in close proximity to the killer cop, watch the crime, listen to the black man plea for his life and do nothing to stop it. For the next several days angry mobs tear up American cities, looting stores, burning buildings, police cars and American flags and even killing individuals in their path.

The rationale offered for their violence and criminal acts is that they are protesting a racist system - or in Senator Bernie Sanders more colorful words, “a grotesque system of ingrained racism and economic disparity that now more than ever needs to be ripped down.” These attacks on America are what the riots are really about. Sanders’ “grotesque system of ingrained racism” is a leftwing fantasy that fuels the rage of the rioters and their violence, which is directed not only against white Americans but also black Americans whose neighborhoods and shopping centers and businesses Sanders’ comrades are pleased to torch.

No one knows for certain the motives that actually led Officer Derek Chauvin to take George Floyd’s life and to do so in such a brutal manner. Chauvin was a bad cop with a long dossier of misconduct complaints and three killings already on his record. But let’s posit the most logical explanation: he was a racist. And so were his three accomplices. What does this say about “a grotesque system of ingrained racism” in America? Absolutely nothing.

Is there a cop, or a politician from the president on down, or a publication that in the week of George Floyd’s murder rose up to defend the murderer? Is there any public voice claiming that there were extenuating circumstances – that he was resisting arrest for example – that would justify the act? There wasn’t. The attorney general for the state of Minnesota is black; the police chief is black; the vice president of the city council is black, the congresswoman for the district is black. A normal view of this matter would recognize it as an isolated incident involving four bad cops who should long before have been removed from the force by the Democrat politicians who control the state.

But these are not normal times. In the same statement, Sanders accused President Trump of “advocating violence” against black communities across the nation because he called for law and order, while at the time praising those demonstrators who were actually protesting and doing so peacefully. We live in times when the Democrat Party and its leaders conflate the black community with its criminal element in order to indict white Americans as “white supremacists,” bearers of “white skin privilege – a term coined by the Weathermen, a domestic terrorist organization in the 1960s.

Fueling the flames of hate against white people, against police, against America’s president and America itself is the daily message of Democrat leaders like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams and Joe Biden. This hatred is magnified by the Trump-hating and America-trashing leftwing media. This hate has now born bitter fruit across the nation.

There are voices, however – black voices on the left - who see through the hypocrisy. Atlanta is a major American city that has been run by black politicians for decades. In Atlanta  rioters attacked the CNN Center, site of a channel that is relentless in attacking Trump, white America, and its allegedly racist system. CNN is openly blaming “white supremacy” for the riots. An Atlanta black rapper named “Killer Mike” had this to say about CNN’s role in fueling the hatred whose chickens had come home to roost: “I love CNN, I love Cartoon Network. But I’d like to say to CNN right now, ‘Stop feeding fear and anger every day. Stop making people feel so fearful. Give them hope.’”

Virtually every official in Minnesota with influence over the Minneapolis police and the decision to keep Derek Chauvin on the force despite his alarming record is a Democrat: the governor, the attorney general, the Minneapolis congresswoman and the mayor. The city council consists of 12 Democrats and a Green Party member. The Democrat Party is the “system” that protected the bad cop and led to George Floyd’s death.

Just as the Democrats protected the bad cops, so they encouraged the rioters by fueling the myth of America’s systemic racism, by not providing a sufficient police presence, when the mayhem started, to nip it in the bud, and by attacking Trump for “glorifying violence,” when he warned the rioters that if the local authorities failed to protect law-abiding citizens he would meet force with force.

The organizers of the violence were two far left organizations – Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Until the Minneapolis riots Attorney General and former DNC head, Keith Ellison featured a picture on his website advertising the Antifa handbook for conducting civil war. The proximity of the Antifa-spearheaded riot in Minneapolis prompted Ellison to remove the photo, because Antifa’s destruction of his capital city would obviously lead to bad press.

The racist organization Black Lives Matter, which has led the war on cops for several years, is officially endorsed by the Democrat Party, was invited multiple times to the Obama White House, and is funded along with Antifa by Democrat donors like George Soros.

The Democrat Party’s leaders without exception have spread the lies that there is an open season on black Americans conducted by (white) police. They neglect to mention  that police departments in major cities are frequently run by black Americans; that black cops are actually more likely to kill black suspects than white police officers, and that an unarmed black is less likely to be killed by police than to be struck by lightning.

Black males are 6% of the population but they are responsible for more than 50% of the homicides and violent crimes. This is why virtually every civil rights cause celebre of the last fifty years has involved encounters with the law rather than racist vigilantes from the general populace.

Democrat leaders like Sanders, Warren and Harris feed the myth that economic inequality is a systemic oppression of blacks when the majority of African Americans are in the middle class, and the source of gross poverty is the bad behavior of individuals. It has been statistically shown that not having children out of wedlock and getting a high school education will lift an individual out of poverty. The Democrat Party controls virtually all the failed public schools in the nation where year in and year out 40% of the students drop out before they graduate and 40% of those who do graduate are functionally illiterate.

Democrat welfare policies and political dependence on teacher unions are 100% responsible for these deficiencies. The Democrats’ defense of their indefensible behavior is to blame Trump and Republicans for the resulting inequities and to call all their critics racists. Democrats are wedded to a collectivist ideology called Identity Politics, which erases the individual and individual accountability in order to indict and hold races responsible, as it happens the white race. This is the poisoned well of Democrat politics and it is why self-anointed champions of “black folk” have felt so free to dishonor the memory of George Floyd by burning American cities in order to advance their civil war against the United States.


Erie County DA Makes Surprising Observation About Weekend Protests in Buffalo

Erie County, New York District Attorney John Flynn told the press on Sunday that police made 10 arrests the previous evening during riots in the city of Buffalo. It was the sixth straight night of protests around the country in the aftermath of the police killing of an unarmed African American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis. One of the Buffalo rioters, 21-year-old Daniel D. Hill, was arrested for breaking into a liquor store, throwing bottles at police officers, and other violent acts. However, thanks to the state's recent bail reform, Hill was released Sunday morning and is expected to return to court on July 15.

Flynn's hands are full of investigations. His office is currently assessing this weekend's damage, including acts of arson, an attack on a young woman who is currently at ECMC with a serious injury, and an attack on a WIVB cameraman. There's also the incident involving a man who threw a flaming object through the window of city hall in Buffalo, an act which earned him the title "idiot" from the city's mayor, Byron Brown.

But, Flynn noted it could have been a lot worse.

"Buffalo police did a great job last night," Flynn said, adding that officers from neighboring cities came to help too. "All law enforcement last night did a fantastic job."

The riots we've seen in major cities across the country have been flooded with signs sounding off on "police brutality," or likening cops to the KKK. Derek Chauvin, the arresting officer who was filmed pressing his knee into Floyd's neck until he went motionless, and kept his knee there after Floyd was unresponsive, was white. Yet, Flynn perhaps surprised people in his remarks when he noted that the majority of the arrests Saturday night were of white individuals. The African Americans who came out to protest, the DA said, were largely peaceful.

"Just so you know, the overwhelming majority of the 10 individuals who were arrested last night, were white," Flynn said at the Sunday presser. "They were not African Americans. The African Americans who were down here last night were peacefully protesting, doing the right thing, as I have seen all across the country."

He charged that it is "white individuals who are the agitators and that is true here in the city of Buffalo."

Buffalo officials were forced to issue an emergency order Sunday night, and enforce a curfew. It appears to have worked because Mayor Byron Brown said the evening was largely peaceful.



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

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Walter Williams: It's Full Steam Ahead for Left-Wing Insanity

Is it important to have racial or sexual diversity in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic?

Heather Mac Donald suggests that some think it might be in her City Journal article "Should Identity Politics Dictate Vaccine Research?"

The funding priorities of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control suggests that they think diversity is an important input in making headway in the fight against the coronavirus. On April 20, NIH and CDC announced the availability of grants to increase the "diversity" of biomedical research labs. For example, academic virology researchers studying respiratory failure could receive hundreds of thousands more taxpayer dollars if they could find a woman or a minority to add to their project.

High school students and college students are eligible for the program, even though they cannot contribute anything of value. No scientific justification for the new diversity hire is needed. The scientists must promise to mentor the new hire, which will take time away from their research with no offsetting gain.

Mac Donald has written another article on academic insanity, "The Therapeutic Campus," bearing the subtitle: "Why are college students seeking mental-health services in record numbers?" Many colleges have created safe spaces where students can be sheltered from reality and not have their feelings hurt by others exercising their free speech rights.

Yale University has created a safe space that would be the envy of most other universities. It has named it the Good Life Center.

Mac Donald says it has "a sandbox, essential oils, massage, and mental-health workshops" and that "the center unites the most powerful forces in higher education today: the feminization of the university, therapeutic culture, identity politics, and the vast student-services bureaucracy."

George Mason University has a Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, headed by a chief well-being officer. At George Mason, well-being refers to social justice and "building a life of vitality, purpose, resilience, and engagement," the Center's chief well-being officer told The Chronicle of Higher Education. By the way, a George Mason University student can minor in well-being as a part of his college education.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in justifying his draconian coronavirus measures, said during a press conference: "This is about saving lives. If everything we do saves just one life, I'll be happy."

Cuomo knows that many Americans buy into such a seemingly caring statement that would be easily revealed as utter nonsense if one had just a modicum of economic knowledge. If one looked at only the benefits of an action, he would do anything because everything has a benefit. Prudent decision-making requires one to compare benefits to costs.

For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2019, 36,120 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Virtually all those lives could have been saved with a mandated 5 mph speed limit. Those saved lives are the benefit. Fortunately, when we consider the costs and inconvenience of setting a 5 mph speed limit, we rightly conclude that saving those 36,120 lives isn't worth it.

There are other news tidbits about politicians drunk with power that we Americans have given them. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told city residents who disobeyed her stay-at-home order: "We will arrest you and we will take you to jail. Period. We're not playing games."

Meanwhile, in violation of her own stay-at-home order, Lightfoot slipped out and got her hair done. She explained her decision, "I take my personal hygiene very seriously."

Ventura County, California, health director Dr. Robert Levin said that his department would forcibly remove COVID-19 infected people from their own homes and put them "into other kinds of housing that we have available." Facing stiff criticism, Levin later explained: "I either misspoke or it was misinterpreted. I'll take the blame of having misspoke."

The biggest casualty from the COVID-19 pandemic has nothing to do with the disease. It's the power we've given to politicians and bureaucrats. The question is how we recover our freedoms.


The Folly of Twitter’s Fact Check

No American, not even the president, has an inherent right to a social media account. Tech companies are free to ban any user they see fit.

They’re free to fact-check anyone they want, to create a framework of acceptable speech, and to enforce their policies either consistently or capriciously. They’re free to accuse Donald Trump—and only Trump, if they see fit—of being a liar. They’re free to do all of these things.

Even if they shouldn’t.

Yesterday, after years of pressure from media and Democrats, Twitter labeled two of Trump’s tweets—in which he had claimed that the use of mail-in ballots for large numbers of people would be “substantially fraudulent” and result in a “rigged election”—as “potentially misleading.”

It’s a mistake for any platform to drop its neutral stance and take on fact-checking duties, a task that’s going to be impossible to accomplish either objectively or effectively. It’s going to corrode trust in the brand, but it won’t change a single mind.

Once Twitter begins tagging some tweets and not others with “what you need to know,” it will be staking out partisan positions. The Trump tweets that precipitated its first fact check are a good example of this.

It would have been far more reasonable for the social media giant to label Trump’s ugly and slanderous tweets about Joe Scarborough as misleading. Instead, Twitter decided to inaugurate its policy by alleging that Trump had dishonestly claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to “a Rigged Election.”

Even if this contention were entirely baseless, it would be as untrue as saying Russia rigged the election—a claim that politicians such as Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, along with most major media outlets, have been making for years.

But while the president’s rhetoric about voting is debatable, it is also well within the normal parameters of contemporary political discourse.

It’s not exactly “unsubstantiated” to assert that more mail-in ballots “would lead to voter fraud,” as Twitter holds. There are dozens of instances of potential voter fraud investigated every year. The Heritage Foundation has cataloged 1,285 prosecuted cases.

Which is to say that contending that “voter fraud” is a problem is no more misleading than contending tax cuts will hurt the poor or that repealing net neutrality rules will destroy the internet.

In practice, “voter fraud” is no more a conspiracy theory than is “voter suppression.” Both happen on occasion, yet there is no evidence that either has toppled the outcome of any modern election.

The problem is that only one of these two issues will earn a “more information” tag from Twitter, because only one of these two issues offends the sensibilities of the liberals whose concerns Twitter ultimately cares about.

In another tweet, Trump claimed that everyone in California will be mailed a ballot. This is factually untrue. But so is the pinned tweet of former Vice President Joe Biden: “I can’t believe I have to say this, but please don’t drink bleach.”

The president never instructed anyone to drink bleach, yet Biden repeats this incessantly, along with numerous other misleading statements about his record and GOP policies.

Which brings us to the problem: Who will Twitter designate as its judge? Its fact-checking page redirects users to debunkings by CNN, The Washington Post, Vox, HuffPost, and other outlets that often deceive their audiences with far more sophistication than the president. These outlets like to appeal to the authority of experts, but not experts whose conclusions contradict their own.

There is a reason we debate issues rather than appoint “truth magistrates” to hand down verdicts: For the most part, politics is a dispute not over facts but values.

As is often the case, Trump immediately ceded the high ground by threatening to “strongly regulate” or shut down social media platforms. Such threats are nothing new for this president, who has often menaced media with regulations and legal action, although one cannot help but notice a paradox.

Trump never follows through on his destructive threats to inhibit speech but does follow through on his promise to cram the courts full of judges who have deference for the First Amendment, while those who talk in the loftiest terms about the press tend to pressure tech companies to constrain interactions, to ban accounts, and to “fact check” their partisan foes.

The distress over social media is predicated on the idea that average Americans are too dim to grapple with the messiness of unfettered speech. Many leftists—those who wanted to institute Fairness Doctrines or overturn Citizens United—admit this openly when they suggest that unregulated speech is corroding “democracy.”

Trump is the first president to take advantage of direct, instantaneous access to millions of Americans. Whether this is helpful to his cause is debatable. Certainly, we are blessed that the president’s policies and rhetoric are often disconnected. Whatever the case, though, we have an entire industry that stands ready to challenge the veracity of his statements.

We don’t need Twitter to join in the fact-checking game. Silicon Valley doesn’t have the resources, knowledge, or people to do it correctly.


Mayor Frey Gives Masks to Rioters But Says Opening Churches Would Be a 'Public Health Disaster'

What happens when virtue signaling and rabid ideology collide? You get Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

His (dis)Honor has presided over the most shocking display of nihilism and anarchy in an American city since the draft riots in New York during the Civil War. But by gum, if you’re going to burn his city down, you damn well better be wearing a mask.

And while you have Frey’s tacit permission to burn and pillage, under no circumstances are you to attend church services.

Fox News:

Before George Floyd died in police custody this week, triggering destructive riots as large crowds protested in Minneapolis, the city’s mayor, Jacob Frey, warned that allowing 25 percent capacity in churches would be “a recipe in Minneapolis for a public health disaster” due to the coronavirus.

Now, as his city is overwhelmed by crowds causing property damage and clashing with police, Frey’s own government said that it is giving out masks to the rioters — even though the state has prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people because of the pandemic.

Truly surreal. The statement that accompanied the “suggestion” that rioters wear mask cannot be believed.

“The City encourages everyone to exercise caution to stay safe while participating in demonstrations, including wearing masks and physical distancing as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” a press release read. “The City has made hundreds of masks available to protesters this week.”

“Remain calm. All is well.”

So when do the adults decide the kids have played at running the city long enough and it’s time for them to come home and wash up for dinner? After another night of mayhem last night, it may be sooner than anyone thinks. Trump has asked the Pentagon to put military police on alert to go to Minneapolis.

Associated Press:

As unrest spread across dozens of American cities on Friday, the Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty U.S. military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked the widespread protests.

Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy within four hours if called, according to three people with direct knowledge of the orders. Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people did not want their names used because they were not authorized to discuss the preparations.

It should go without saying that military police do not have the training to deal with an urban riot. The irony is that the Minneapolis police are very well trained to handle urban unrest but have been told to stand down by the mayor. Trump is courting disaster if he sends MP’s to do the work of cops.

The issue is how to get Mayor Frey to do his job and not look upon the rioters with “understanding and compassion.” Everyone is sad George Floyd is dead. No race, no ethnic group has a corner on sympathy when the police make a fatal error involving an unarmed civilian.

But Frey’s forbearance in the face of violence and anarchy is misplaced. This isn’t some social experiment where Frey can be allowed to tinker with mob psychology. It’s a riot. And the anti-social criminals who are looting and burning do not want or deserve our “understanding.” They don’t care.

Frey has opened Pandora’s Box and unleashed forces he can’t possibly understand. Someone has got to intervene and take control of a situation that is still spiraling out of control.


For Those Who Love Justice, ‘White Fragility’ Cannot Be an Issue

Two years after its release, Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, is a national bestseller. In fact, as I write these words, it is the number one bestselling book on Amazon. This is a very rare achievement for a book when it is first released, let alone 24 months later. DiAngelo obviously hit a nerve.

According to the New Yorker, “The value in White Fragility lies in its methodical, irrefutable exposure of racism in thought and action, and its call for humility and vigilance.” And note that word, “humility.”

Author Resmaa Menakem used the same word when reviewing the book, calling it, “A rare and incisive examination of the system of white body supremacy that binds us all as Americans. . . . With authenticity and clarity, she provides the antidote to white fragility and a road map for developing white racial stamina and humility. White Fragility loosens the bonds of white supremacy and binds us back together as human beings.”

Now, if you are white, you might already be reacting to the phrases “white fragility” and “white supremacy.” But rather than react, why not ask yourself a series of simple questions?

1) Do you want true equality for every American?

2) Is justice a value that you affirm?

3) Do you believe that, ultimately, there is one race, the human race?

4) Do you reject the idea that people of color are inherently inferior?

5) Do you reject any form of apartheid or segregation?

6) If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, do you agree that the spirit of racism is contrary to the spirit of the gospel?

I would hope that every person of conscience would answer the first five questions in the affirmative and that every follower of Jesus would also answer the sixth question in the affirmative.

That being the case, there is no reason for “white fragility.” If something is wrong, let us fix it. If the problem runs deep, let us look for deep solutions. If we are part of the problem, let us be part of the solution. That’s what humility calls for. Let the truth come to the light.

There is no reason for fragility. Let us do what is right. And if we are falsely accused, let us push back with the truth.

If some of our earliest laws enshrined racism, let us acknowledge it. No one claims that America has been perfect, plus we weren’t the ones who made those laws.

That means that we can praise our founders for the good they did and remain indebted to that good while also acknowledging the wrong they did.

There’s no reason to be fragile when it comes to our history. Like the history of every nation, the history of our nation is mixed. And when it comes to the present, where this is wrong, let us face it. That’s what humility does.

It is those who are secure who can be humble. The insecure take refuge in carnal pride.

But being humble when it comes to race issues doesn’t mean that we justify today’s looters and rioters. Or that we follow the lead of professional race baiters. Or that we automatically affirm a group like Black Lives Matter. Or that we accept every claim of injustice.

Each instance must be judged on its own merit and each charge evaluated for itself.

For example, the Department of Justice, under the direction of Eric Holder, produced a scathing report on the practices of the Ferguson police department in the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, my namesake. (See here for the full document.)

But when it came to Brown’s death, that same Department of Justice cleared Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Brown. As the report stated, there “is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson’s stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety.”

Yet many white conservatives who rejected the, “Hands up, don’t shoot” claims from Ferguson are outraged over the death of George Floyd. (I’ll be documenting this in a separate article.)

But, to repeat, there’s no reason for “white fragility.”

I am secure in the fact that I am not a racist. But when I have a blind spot when it comes to the treatment of a fellow American, I want to be made aware. I would hope you would feel the same.

That doesn’t mean we walk around feeling guilty. (Why should we, unless we are guilty?)

That doesn’t mean we embrace identity politics or intersectionality.

That doesn’t mean that we agree with every solution being put forth.

That doesn’t mean that we encourage others to have a victim mentality.

And that doesn’t mean that people of color bear no responsibility or are above criticism.

It simply means we are willing to ask the difficult questions, including the systemic questions, and that we are committed to working towards justice and equality for all.

Why be fragile about that?



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

Monday, June 01, 2020

UK: The two other casualties of the coronavirus crisis... our humanity and the truth

What will she tell her grandchildren in years to come? Holding up a placard saying ‘Cummings you are full of sh*t!’ as she joined a screaming mob haranguing the Prime Minister’s senior adviser outside his house, where he lives with his wife and four-year-old son.

Perhaps she’ll proudly show video footage of the scenes. And the newspaper articles. It’s probably too much to hope she’ll look back with any semblance of shame.

It’s become a feature of British political life – especially on the liberal Left – that the moral certainty of a position only exists in direct proportion to the viciousness deployed in defence of it

We’re near the end now. The point at which Coronavirus 2020 stops being our lived experience and enters the realm of legend and myth. Government Ministers privately acknowledge lockdown is collapsing.

Schools and shops are gradually reopening. Soon, what for the past ten weeks has been ‘the new normal’ will be elbowed aside by a return to the old realities of life.

When it does, we’ll begin to tell our own tales. Just like our parents and grandparents did with their wartime experiences. Of sacrifice and hardship and collective endeavour.

The Thursday evening clap for the NHS. The children’s rainbows spontaneously appearing in windows across the country. The Queen’s moving promise that ‘we will meet again’.

But there are things that will be forgotten. In particular, a convenient veil will be drawn over the fact that the population initially confronted Covid-19 with trademark British humour and stoicism. And then, slowly but surely, were driven to the edge of collective madness.

On one level, Dominic Cummings has no one but himself to blame for the firestorm that engulfed him and the Government. He’s characteristically fought his battles with ‘a no quarter asked or given’ brutalism.

And he can hardly complain when his enemies – having finally cornered their prey – opted to repay him in kind.

‘He can’t recover from this,’ said a normally loyal Minister.

‘He’s been exposed for the elitist he is. He’s been overrated since he won a referendum against a very poor Remain campaign and has worked to create an image of a mad genius that I’ve never seen a shred of evidence to support.’

But the last week hasn’t really been about Cummings the man. It’s been about us as a nation. And the way a country already being pushed to the brink by an unprecedented global crisis finally lost its way.

First, there was the gleeful savagery with which a mob turned not just on the PM’s aide, but on his family.

It’s become a feature of British political life – especially on the liberal Left – that the moral certainty of a position only exists in direct proportion to the viciousness deployed in defence of it.

So we had neighbours behaving like vultures, leaning out of their windows and baying at Cummings. As local Labour MP Emily Thornberry proudly proclaimed: ‘The people of Islington South and Finsbury can always be relied on to say it as it is.’

But, for me, the defining moment came during Cummings’s Downing Street rose garden inquisition.

It was his revelation that while isolating in County Durham, his sick son Cedi had to be taken to hospital by ambulance.

Normally a child’s serious illness would elicit nothing but sympathy. But not in Britain in 2020. Not in the Age of Coronavirus. This was a national scandal.

His family were condemned, literally, as plague-carriers. Being sick and having visited a ‘rural’ hospital, they were irresponsibly risking spreading their infection.

This is the prevailing distorted mindset. To take your ill child to hospital is a crime. One punishable by summary justice at the hands of the self-styled Covid vigilantes.

But if one of the first casualties of this crisis has been our sense of common humanity, another has been that other perpetual victim in our twisted culture. The truth.

On Wednesday, BBC bosses announced they had – correctly – censured Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis for breaking impartiality guidelines over an introduction to the programme’s coverage of the Cummings story.

Her deliberately controversial opening statement – ‘Dominic Cummings broke the rules, the country can see that. But it’s shocked the Government can’t see it’ – was, her defenders angrily claimed, justifiable because it was a statement of fact.

It wasn’t. But let’s put that to one side and test just how important facts and truth really are.

The saga started eight days ago with headlines in The Guardian and Daily Mirror such as ‘Dominic Cummings investigated by police after breaking coronavirus lockdown rules’.

He hadn’t been. In fact, the police had been contacted by Cummings’s father.

He wanted advice on security issues about having the PM’s adviser staying on his property.

Durham Police have confirmed: ‘At the request of Mr Cummings’s father, an officer made contact.’ There was no issue about breaking lockdown rules.

As the police later added: ‘We do not consider that by locating himself at his father’s premises, Mr Cummings committed an offence.’

That initial sensational allegation wasn’t true. Just as the subsequent claim Cummings had driven to London, then back to Durham wasn’t true. And the claim he had been seen strolling along and observing ‘aren’t the bluebells lovely’ wasn’t true. And the claim from a so-called eye-witness ‘we were shocked and surprised to see him’ wasn’t true.

But it doesn’t matter. In the Age of Coronavirus, we again have to pick a side. Forget facts. Forget reality. By choosing to protect his family, Dom Cummings transferred off our team. So he must be destroyed. Along with those around him.

On Tuesday, I was invited on to The Emma Barnett Show on Radio 5 to comment on the affair. I raised the question: What should anyone do in a situation where they and their partner were coming down with the disease and realised there would be no one else to care for their vulnerable child?

To which the answer is simple. You use common sense rather than be rigidly governed by guidelines. Your priority is to take your child somewhere safe.

In response, Ms Barnett told of a friend who had texted her. She had been in that position, too. But she hadn’t sought help, she said, because ‘she would have been scared to be stopped by the police’.

This is what we have become in the Age of Coronavirus. Citizens of a country in which mothers are terrified of seeking help for their sick children for fear of being stopped by the police.

It’s time to call a halt to this grotesque charade. It’s ending anyway, so let’s bring it to a close with some degree of decency and dignity. No more baying mobs. No more coppers’ narks. No more police road blocks.

Over the past week, a nation lost its way. It’s time to find it again.


Protest troublemakers mostly white, police say

Nearly two-thirds of the 60 people arrested during protests in downtown Detroit over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis were from the city’s predominantly white suburbs, police say.

Thirty-seven of those taken into custody on Friday night were from places like Warren, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield and even Grand Blanc, which is about 96 kilometers northwest of Detroit, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Saturday.

Detroit was one of a number of US cities where protests were staged, but didn’t see the levels of violence, damage or altercations with law enforcement that occurred elsewhere.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz blamed destruction Friday night in Minneapolis - including setting a police station on fire - on out-of-state instigators. In Detroit, the message given Saturday by Craig, Mayor Mike Duggan and local activists to outsiders was clear: Stay home.

“To those who threaten the safety of our community, our police officers, who damage property, we will not tolerate your criminal actions,” Craig told reporters. “Our response will be both measured and effective.”

Although Detroit is about 80% black, many of those arrested were white. “We support the right to free speech. We support peaceful protests,” Craig added. “If you want to disrupt, stay home and disrupt in your own community.”

One person died in downtown Detroit after someone fired shots into a vehicle during a protest over Monday’s death of Floyd


Pastor: Mayor Sent Police to Shut Down Sunday Services

Courtney Lewis, the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Chicago, was in the middle of his sermon when he heard loud banging on the front doors. It was the police.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had dispatched three squad cars and two unmarked cars along with a representative from the mayor's office.

(On a side note - I warned Americans in my new book that the left would try and shut down American churches. Click here to read "Culture Jihad: How to Stop the Left From Killing a Nation.")

Pastor Lewis said the intent was to shut down their Sunday services. It was "like the Soviet-style KGB," he said.

"The only thing she hasn't done yet is beat the doors down and arrest our members," the pastor said.

Pastor Lewis tells the "Todd Starnes Radio Show" that the men of the church were instructed not to open the doors during the services -- per protocol. The officers were in fact denied entry.

"Thankfully our doors were locked as a normal safety precaution we take each service to protect our members from the escalating gun violence in Chicago," the pastor said.

A church usher, who is typically positioned outside the building during the services, saw the mayor's goon force attempt to enter the building and began taking photographs.

Even more disturbing, an individual in an unmarked car with tinted windows was seen filming and photographing church members as they arrived to worship Jesus Christ.

"The mayor wants to educate everyone into compliance - which means intimidate," the pastor said.

Rev. Lewis wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney John Lausch pleading for help and protection against the city's Democrat mayor and her jackbooted thugs. Click to read the Letter of Grievance.

He said the church has gone out of its way to follow CDC guidelines by having online services, outdoor services and engaging in social distancing. All church members must also have their temperature taken before entering the sanctuary.

"We are trying to follow the laws of man as much as reasonably possible but when the laws of man conflict with the laws of God I as a pastor have a duty to follow the laws of God," he wrote. "We will not be intimidated by this overhanded government bully, but we are requesting the assistance of our president and our Justice Department in correcting this grave miscarriage of the law."

Pastor Lewis said Christian pastors are under attack in Chicago and they need help.

"All we are seeking is the same consideration and trust that is being tendered toward the liquor stores, abortion clinics and Walmart," he told the "Todd Starnes Show".


Pritzker Drops All Church Restrictions After Lawsuit Exposed Him 'Ignoring the Science'

On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.) dropped his coronavirus restriction capping attendance at religious services to ten people, after five churches filed the latest of many lawsuits, claiming the governor’s church restrictions were “ignoring the best science.”

Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, which represented churches in three of the lawsuits, condemned Illinois for having “the harshest shutdown order in the country, with little regard for the rights of people of faith and ignoring the current best science. Every one of Illinois’ neighboring states has ‘followed the science’ and taken strong steps to safely reopen both their for-profit businesses and their not-for-profit houses of worship.” Yet Illinois did not revise its limits on churches until Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday afternoon, Pritzker announced that the Illinois Department of Public Health “has provided guidance, not mandatory restrictions, for all faith leaders to use in their efforts to ensure the health and safety of their congregants.” In other words, Illinois effectively lifted all restrictions on religious services.

“This is a total and complete victory for people of faith,” Breen said in a later statement. “Illinois’ governor and his administration abused the COVID-19 pandemic to stomp on the religious liberty of the people of Illinois. By issuing guidelines only and not the previously announced mandatory restrictions, he has handed a complete victory to the churches in Illinois.”

The Thomas More Society represented three separate lawsuits over the coronavirus restrictions, the latest of which involved five churches that filed the lawsuit on Wednesday.

Dr. George Delgado, M.D., served as an expert consultant to the churches. In a declaration to the court, he argued that “a limit on the number of persons attending church services diminishes the risk of transmission to a far smaller degree than other prophylactic measures that churches can implement.” He claimed that the risk of transmission in churches celebrating indoors with the appropriate social distancing measures is “far less than the risk of transmission in ‘essential business’ activities like grocery stores and manufacturing plants operating without attendance limitations.”

Delgado’s studies showed that “the calculated risk of contracting COVID-19 at a house of worship is 0.125 or 12% the risk [of contracting it] at the supermarket, and no one is arguing that going to the grocery store is not safe.”

One of the five churches in the lawsuit, Zion’s Christian Assembly, operates a state-funded community food pantry in the church’s building. That food pantry was allowed, even encouraged, to serve the community, and it had 25 people in the building on May 21. But the same church building was forbidden to host a service with more than ten people.

“There is no logic that can defend why a Sunday worship gathering would be more dangerous to one’s health than a food pantry distribution in the same location, with the same number of people. Yet the former is prohibited, and the latter encouraged,” Thomas More Society Senior Counsel Martin Whittaker argued. “That is blunt defiance of the Illinois Constitution’s Bill of Rights and of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

Called out on this horrendous violation of religious freedom, Pritzker caved, and now Illinois churches can open with no restrictions, only guidance. This comes just in time for Pentecost this Sunday, the holiday that celebrates the birthday of the Christian Church. What a celebration that will be in Illinois!



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

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The World Health Organization Was Against Quarantines Only Last Year

I recommend to you a document written in saner times, and published by the World Health Organization: “Non-pharmaceutical public health measures for mitigating the risk and impact of epidemic and pandemic influenza.” It came out in 2019. I’ve embedded it below.

When the document says influenza, it is referring to any influenza-like infection which is inclusive of COVID-19; that is, any pandemic virus that happens to come along. In the last 100 years, they give examples of four prior to the current virus.

The point of the report is to examine a series of what are called non-pharmaceutical interventions, which can cover the full range of strategies of disease control, from hand washing to surface cleaning to mask wearing to quarantines to travel restrictions. The document contains both good and regrettable material, both of which are covered below. But the standout points for us today are that the World Health Organization only last year solidly recommended against quarantines even if it is only limited to the exposed and sick.

It never even considered the notion of universally locking down an entire population. In that sense, it is an improvement over current practice, and evidence that governments around the world threw out long-standing law and tradition in a disease panic, shattering human relationships and the global economy.

That said, a major problem with the document is its overly formal approach that seeks to model disease severity and government response.

The pandemic influenza severity assessment (PISA) framework was introduced by WHO in 2017. The severity of an influenza epidemic or pandemic is evaluated and monitored through three specific indicators: transmissibility (referring to incidence), seriousness of disease, and impact on health care system and society. The severity is categorized into five levels: no activity or below seasonal threshold, low, moderate, high or extraordinary. The PISA framework is being tested and improved during seasonal influenza epidemics; the aim is to help public health authorities to monitor and assess the severity of influenza, and to inform appropriate decisions and recommendations on interventions.

Almost everything here rests on the ability to discern and model disease severity in real time. The trouble is that we have to make the judgement call in the midst of this pandemic. Dr. Fauci in late February wrote that “the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza.” By WHO standards, that would qualify as “moderate.”

A few weeks later, fear of hospital bed shortages and a lack of ventilators caused that assessment to change. In a few short days, we moved from thinking this was a seasonal problem to treating it as the most severe pandemic since 1918, and it’s not really clear why. The more we know about the virus, the more we realize that Fauci’s original assessment was closer to the truth, especially when considering how it targets especially those with very low life expectancy, exactly as John Ioannidis predicted on March 7.

Deciding whether and to what extent non-pharmaceutical interventions might be necessary is easily modelled on paper but far more difficult to assess in real time. Everything is clear looking backwards. We can know what we need to know about managing the pandemics of 1968, 1957, 1948-51 (during which times government did almost nothing and left disease mitigation to the professionals), and 1918, when some governments used powers condemned by medical professionals later.

But planning backwards in time is not what the WHO proposed last year. They expected high-end health professionals to become central planners in real time, in the midst of enormous confusion over data. It’s just not possible to do that. Empowering governments with the responsibility to make such extra decisions over people’s lives and freedom might not be the wisest route to take.

Nonetheless, there is a fairly large gap between what the WHO recommended in 2019 and what governments actually did in 2020.


Here's a Relief: Corpus Christi Jihad Attack Condemned by...Catholic Bishop

Few Americans even know that there was a jihad attack in Corpus Christi, Texas last week. But Michael Mulvey, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Corpus Christi, is well aware. Last Thursday, a 20-year-old Muslim migrant from Syria named Adam Salim Alsahli, according to CNN, “attempted to rush the security gate with a vehicle.” Then, after “security deployed a barrier to stop the vehicle,” Alsahli “exited the vehicle and opened fire…and naval security forces returned fire.”

Alsahli was “neutralized.” After his attack, officials “identified various social media accounts, which initial reports indicate are likely associated with the shooter….Online postings by these accounts expressed support for ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).” But you can relax now: the Roman Catholic Bishop of Corpus Christi has condemned the attack, so all is well.

As far as we know, Mulvey had nothing to do with the attack, but nonetheless, as Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported, he announced Thursday: “I condemned the act of terrorism that was perpetrated this morning at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. These acts of violence are heinous, but they will not undermine our resolve to work for peace in our hearts, and our society. Our prayer is with the sailor who was injured this morning.” CNA noted that Mulvey “pledged to be a force for peace in the face of evil.”

Well, that’s a relief. You know that concerned citizens all over the country were on the edge of their seats, wondering whether the Catholic Bishop of Corpus Christi was going to applaud or condemn the attack. Now he has come down on the side of the angels, we can all relax and go about our business.

Mulvey’s statement was similar to dozens of condemnations of jihad terror attacks that politicians and other public figures have issued after jihad massacres all over the world in the last few years. It is unclear what moves them to make these statements. Did anyone really think that Michael Mulvey, a Catholic bishop, might be in favor of Adam Alsahli’s jihad attack?

Are there people out there who suspected that Michael Mulvey helped Adam Alsahli buy his gun or otherwise prepare for his jihad, and were such suspicions so persistent that the good bishop felt it necessary to clear the air? Does Michael Mulvey think that his condemnation will stop future jihadis from carrying out their attacks, for fear that the local Roman Catholic bishop will condemn them?

If Michael Mulvey is sane, which presumably he is, then he knows that the answer to all those questions is no, and so there was no reason whatsoever for him to issue his condemnation except to signal his virtue. Mission accomplished.

But the bitter irony here is that no matter how thunderous Mulvey’s condemnation was, and no matter how resoundingly it inspired pangs of conscience in jihadis everywhere, and no matter how hard Mulvey tries to be a “force for peace,” he will find himself unable to persuade jihadis to lay down their arms and stop waging war against unbelievers, because those jihadis consider that war a divine command (cf. Qur’an 9:29).

What’s more, the Roman Catholic Church in general is indefatigably committed to Pope Francis’ ridiculous claim that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” That is, the Catholic Church is institutionally committed to ignoring and denying the ideological wellsprings that give rise to attacks such as that of Adam Salim Alsahli.

Consequently, no matter how much Mulvey works to be a “force for peace,” he will find himself confronted with jihadis who, in his view, persistently misunderstand their own religion. But he can’t deal with that problem in any realistic manner; to do so would be to deny one of the modern-day Catholic Church’s most cherished newly-minted dogmas, that Islam is a religion of peace.

It is worth noting also that both Adam Alsahli and Mohammed Alshamrani, who attacked another naval air station in Florida in December, were foreign nationals; Alsahli came to the U.S. as a “refugee” and Alshamrani as a foreign student. The Catholic Church strenuously opposes any efforts to reform the programs by which they entered the country.

And so Michael Mulvey might as well go the whole way and have printed a whole pad full of his condemnations of jihad activity, so that all he has to do is fill in blanks for the place and date of the attack. He will find that he will go through such a pad with remarkable speed.

“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)


When the personal becomes political

By Scott Sumner

When I was young, the Democratic Party included African Americans, factory workers, nerdy intellectuals, and many other diverse groups. Democrats and Republicans were roughly equally likely to be pro-choice or pro-life. In many ways, that was a healthy state of affairs. Recently, however, we have increasingly sorted into blue and red tribes, in a number of dimensions.

At some point, even seemingly non-political lifestyle issues became political. President Trump recently announced that he was taking the drug hydroxychloroquine as a precautionary step (and then later stopped doing so). A few days ago, he visited a Ford factory and did not wear a mask in the public part of the visit. (Later he did wear a mask when he was off camera.)  President Trump frequently describes himself as a germaphobe.  Thus I suspect that his reluctance to wear masks in public settings has a political dimension.

Inevitably, everything the president does is criticized by some and defended by others. But in this post I’m more interested in the way that lifestyle choices become increasingly seen through a political lens.

Consider the following two lifestyles: One person likes to eat lots of juicy steaks. They get high cholesterol and take a statin to control the problem. Another person likes to eat lots of sushi and kale salads, which they view as a healthy diet. Which person is more likely to vote for Trump?

In the 1950s, the question would have seemed absurd. What does diet preference have to do with political affiliation? Today I suspect that most people would see the steak eater who takes a statin as more likely to vote for Trump.

If I told you I had a somewhat “macho” friend who thought wearing a mask was effeminate, and who strongly believed in the effectiveness of taking hydroxychloroquine, who would you guess that he would vote for?   And is it a healthy state of affairs to be able to predict political affiliation based on lifestyle issues (or scientific judgments) with no obvious connection to politics?  Is it healthy for a country to increasingly sort into red and blue tribes?

I see libertarianism as the ideology that tries to make fewer things political.  Thus I’m not pleased to see us move toward an “everything’s political” world.  It’s not so much that there’s anything wrong with different points of view on wearing masks or taking particular drugs, it’s that I’d prefer those points of view not be linked to unrelated political ideologies.


‘This virus doesn’t want to kill us’

This is the inside story of how Australian scientists in some ways got the jump on the world.  Australia has had great success in controlling the virus.  Was the early understanding of the virus among Australian scientists part of that?

“This virus doesn’t want to kill us. It has no brain, no will. It just wants to grow and reproduce, to obey the laws of evolution and natural selection.” So says Professor Peter Doherty, a man who knows a thing or two about unpicking a virus. If the virus that causes COVID-19 did have a brain it would probably avoid coming up against the 79-year-old, Brisbane-raised, Nobel prize-winning immunologist who in the mid-1990s unlocked the secret of how our body’s immune system gives viruses a good kicking.

His name has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight again as patron of the research and public health organisation that bears his name, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. No organisation in Australia has been more prominent in tackling COVID-19, not only in the lab but in shaping government policy through the findings of its public health scenario modellings. “I’d just written my retirement book,” Doherty laughs down the phone from his home in Melbourne, where his age means he’s under strict isolation. “I thought I was fading into the distance and now suddenly I’m back as a talking head.”

There’s a lot to talk about. If we are in an ­enviable position in this war against COVID-19, with the tantalising prospect of life returning to normal seeming closer every day, it’s in part due to the early work of scientists at the Doherty Institute.

It’s easy to forget those early days back in ­January, when bushfires preoccupied the country and no one suspected a mysterious virus in China would within two months result in unimaginable global upheaval. But in the age of globalisation, viruses can move faster than even the news cycle, and so can those who fight them. Within hours of Australia’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 landing on our shores, the Doherty Institute had grown the virus in culture and shared it with the world (the first lab outside China to do so), sequenced the entire genome of the virus, mapped the human body’s immune response to the infection and was supplying the modelling that informed the Federal Government’s response in imposing the lockdown restrictions. Now its ­scientists are collaborating on a vaccine and testing possible treatments. Things have happened so fast that you could almost swear they were waiting for this virus.

Actually, they were. Doherty director Sharon Lewin calls it “peacetime preparations”: all the work that goes on when you’re not in the grip of a pandemic, when you’re not sure what sort of infectious disease will hit next but you know it will and you’d better be ready for it. It was SARS that primed the institute for COVID-19, but its bread-and-butter work is annual outbreaks of influenza, tracking cases in the community and developing new vaccines and treatments. “SARS was very infectious but the difference was people would only spread the virus when they were unwell,” says Lewin, “so you knew who was spreading it because they were sick and usually in hospital. But nothing like this new coronavirus has ever affected us.”

A collaboration between The University of ­Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Doherty Institute was born out of another disaster – the Global Financial Crisis – as a recipient of the Rudd government’s 2009 stimulus splash in the tertiary sector. It was established to deal with the exact sort of crisis we’re in right now.

The first cases of a mysterious pneumonia-like illness emerged from the wet markets of Wuhan, China in late December. It was soon confirmed to be a new type of coronavirus, and on January 7 China revealed to the world its genetic sequence – like sharing a fingerprint from a crime scene. “That’s when people started getting nervous,” says Lewin. “It was different to SARS. It set alarms off around the world.” The impetus for countries outside China was then on designing a diagnostic molecular test (called a PCR assay), so they’d know if the virus washed up on their shores. But Australia was a step ahead. We already had the test.

“The tests were designed in the wake of SARS and MERS, predicting that this would happen again and we’d need a test capable of detecting an unknown coronavirus,” says Mike Catton, director of the Doherty Institute’s Victorian Infectious ­Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL).

Having the virus’s genetic sequence meant ­Catton and his team could quickly tailor their test to the new virus. From January 15 they started testing samples from anyone arriving from Wuhan displaying cold-like symptoms. Catton jokes that if anything urgent is going to happen, it’ll be on the Friday night before a long weekend. On Friday January 24, the lab got a call from Monash Hospital. Another return traveller from China had presented with corona­virus symptoms and a sample from the patient was taken back to the lab for testing. By 2am they had preliminary results, and by 4am had completed the entire genome sequencing, confirming the matter beyond all doubt that the fingerprints matched. COVID-19 was here.

Getting a positive ID was just the beginning. The next step was to try to grow the virus in cell culture. If growing a virus is an art form then Julian Druce is the artist. Druce is the senior scientist at VIDRL’s viral identification laboratory, where he tends to cultures in flasks with the tender touch of the finest orchid grower. Other labs had failed to get it to sprout, but Catton says if anyone in the world could grow it, Druce could. The practice of growing cultures was once de rigueur, but is now almost antiquated since the molecular test revolutionised virology in the late 1980s. While a molecular test will place your suspect at the crime scene, only by having a viable virus strain grown in culture can you fully interrogate the virus and learn its nature and characteristics, allowing you to potentially design antiviral drugs and vaccines.

Over the weekend Druce and Catton watched their virus grow, sometimes in the lab during the day, sometimes in the middle of the night. When unable to sleep, they would periodically open the laptop and hook into a webcam pointed at the flask back at the office. “It was really exciting,” says ­Catton, adding drolly: “if that’s your idea of excitement.” By the time Australians were back at work on the Tuesday, VIDRL had uploaded the genome sequence to an international database and were spreading the virus round the world, but in a good way, with the hope it could still be contained.

Sharing the virus before having it accepted into an academic journal was a bold and unusual move. Researchers will usually keep their discoveries closely guarded until the findings can be published. It’s possible that at least two other labs around the world had grown the virus before the Doherty Institute, but were sitting on it. Julian Druce says they didn’t have time for that. “We wanted to get the genie back in the bottle. It was clear to us here that public health came before publication.”

Collaboration would also come before commercialisation, with the COVID-19 crisis heralding an unprecedented flurry of global scientific ­co-operation through the sharing of information, materials, expertise and facilities. “I think it sent a message to the world about how we should be playing this thing,” says Catton.

Immediately after sharing the virus, VIDRL focused on helping public health labs, diagnosing samples sent in from New Zealand and states without local capacity. Throughout March the focus was on getting Victorian hospitals and ­community pathology labs set up with their own testing programs. Australia now has the highest per capita testing rate in the world.

Having a viable virus in the lab meant that labs around the world could start work designing antiviral drugs to treat patients, test vaccine candidates and begin serology testing to detect antibodies deployed by our immune system to fight the virus.

At the same time as VIDRL was growing the virus, the institute was claiming another world-first. An early patient had her immune response to the virus scrutinised, providing vital information on how the body fights COVID-19. The 47-year-old woman from Wuhan became the first person in Australia to be tested under a platform called ­Sentinel Travellers and Research Preparedness Platform for Emerging Infectious Disease (SETREP-ID). Doherty Institute infectious disease physician Irani Thevarajan helped set up SETREP-ID two years ago, around the time when the world was getting jumpy over new diseases such as ebola and zika. The platform – with pre-approved ethics – allows for testing and research of any travellers returning to the country with an emerging infectious disease. “We set it up knowing that new infections could walk through the door any day,” says Thevarajan. “So we wanted to be able to do immediate detection and research, to gain an understanding of it when it arrived.”

Thevarajan activated SETREP-ID on January 7, back when the world wasn’t even sure if human to human transmission was possible, and calibrated it to recruit data from any return travellers from China. When the woman arrived at hospital in late January and tested positive to COVID-19, a team led by Dr Oanh Nguyen and Dr Katherine Kedzierska immediately started taking blood samples and mapping her immune system response.

“We wanted to know right away what the immune system does when it sees this new coronavirus, because no one knew at that stage,” Thevarajan says. It was mild case of COVID-19 but the study revealed valuable information about the immune response. However, Thevarajan says a vital part of the puzzle is still missing. “What we don’t fully understand is what’s driving the really severe disease. We don’t yet fully understand why most people recover but some don’t.”

Nor do we fully understand what we stand to lose as collateral damage in the battle against COVID-19. On February 3, a collaboration of researchers led by the Doherty Institute convened a workshop with the Office of Health Protection and jurisdictional representatives in Canberra to discuss modelling the impact of COVID-19 on our health system.

Modelling was released to the public on April 7, two months after being provided to the Federal Government, which used it to inform its public health response. It’s this modelling and the delay in releasing it to the public that’s subsequently become the most controversial and debated element of the early initiatives, and the one that may prove to have the most serious long-term consequences. Doherty director of epidemiology Jodie McVernon led the team that built the model. She says at that early meeting the team proposed a “very broad brush set of initial scenarios based on influenza pandemic preparedness assumptions about severity, which was then highly uncertain”.

Back in 2009, McVernon had led a team of modellers responding to the H1N1 influenza ­pandemic that killed half a million people globally. So when COVID-19 came along and a preparedness model was needed in a hurry they brought out the influenza plan as a template, updating data specific for COVID-19 as it came in. “It’s our business to be surprised. That’s what emergencies are about,” says McVernon. “The reason this [modelling] could be done so fast was because the government had invested in preparedness for a very long time. So the toolkit, the thinking and the strategies were ready, but as the data came in it became clear this was beyond the influenza scenarios.”

The modelling, though, came in for criticism for basing its assumptions on overseas data, for not taking into account Australia’s case numbers, ­different demographics, geography and health care system. Australia never saw the widespread virus transmission of places like Italy, Spain and New York. Some say this is because of the strict social distancing measures the government put in place. Others say it’s because Australia never had the effective reproduction number (the number of people infected by each person carrying the virus) that Wuhan did, our population isn’t as elderly as ­Italy’s, our rate of smoking is relatively low, we don’t have high-density slums, and a thousand other differences that mean a one-size-fits-all model was never going to be an accurate representation.

McVernon says they had no choice but to use overseas data, as that’s where the epidemics were occurring. She says they simply didn’t have time to wait. “We’re acutely attuned to the fact we have to contextualise this to our local setting,” she says, “but you have to start with what you have. Yes, there were uncertainties, but the model is there to help you come to a consistent set of decisions. You ask yourself if any of those uncertainties would change your decisions.”

The modelling revealed that an unmitigated COVID-19 epidemic in Australia would have been a disaster, quickly overwhelming the health system. Suddenly “flattening the curve” became a phrase every Australian was familiar with. The curve was soon flattened, but at what cost? We won’t know until later the legacy of shutting down the economy, consigning so many Australians to the unemployment queue, or the other social impacts. One million Australians have become unemployed, and the Federal Government’s economic support packages are costing the country $320 billion.

McVernon admits she’s nervous about the ­collateral damage but stands by the measures. She says it was their job to avert a crisis. “It’s not a stretch to compare COVID-19 with the plague. ­People are saying that public health is being allowed to run the ­government. Well, I think there was definitely a need for public health to lead the charge to avert a catastrophe. That was our single task.”

The world waits for a vaccine. Doherty Institute virologist Dr Damian Purcell says more than 100 vaccine concepts are being worked on. “It doesn’t take a lot of time to produce a vaccine candidate,” he says, “what really takes time is the testing.” The institute’s collaboration with the University of Queensland to design a vaccine is one of those 100. Purcell says UQ started the work on ­January 20 and it’s now being tested on ferrets in the Netherlands prior to human trials. Elsewhere overseas, other vaccine candidates are already at the human trial stage.

In-house, the institute is working on its own vaccine candidates, thanks to a $3.2 million donation from the Jack Ma Foundation. Meanwhile, two ­international groups, one from Britain’s Oxford University and another from US group Inovio, are testing vaccine ­candidates at the CSIRO in Geelong. CSIRO has partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), part of a global alliance aiming to speed up the development of vaccines, and in April was given $220 million by the Federal Government to upgrade its biosecurity research facilities and help expedite the quest for a vaccine.

Purcell says international collaboration and funding are the keys to unlocking a vaccine. “Funding is the thing that fires up the rocket sled. But things are highly accelerated now because people are sharing information in real time. A lot of the problems with vaccine development is it’s so expensive to manufacture at a high grade and going through the larger scale testing, so we’re speeding up the process of the early phase testing. As soon as things look remotely good and we get the safety signals, we pull the trigger and manufacture.”

If it sounds simple, don’t kid yourself. Developing a vaccine is one thing, but working out how to safely mass produce what is a very complex biological product for the consumption of millions, to fight a virus we still don’t know a lot about, and doing it by yesterday, requires navigating seemingly insurmountable problems. Purcell believes we will get a vaccine, but he’s just not sure if it will be the elixir the world is expecting. “It may be difficult to achieve effective vaccination of the elderly, we just don’t know. Therapeutic antibodies or anti-­viral drugs may turn out to be more important. That’s why we need to advance all fronts.”

Other fronts include a trial led by the institute involving 2500 people in more than 80 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand (called the ASCOT trial) to assess the effectiveness of two antiviral drugs, lopinavir/ritonavir (used to treat HIV) and hydroxy­chloroquine, the antimalarial drug touted by ­Donald Trump and Clive Palmer.

It’s also partnering with Monash University on a study of the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin. Early experiments done at the Doherty Institute days after the virus was identified in Australia showed that Ivermectin killed SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, within 48 hours in cell culture. Dr Kylie Wagstaff from Monash Biomedical Discovery Institute says anecdotal evidence is good, but getting the dosing right is the key before human trials in Australia can start.

Peter Doherty, who still has a key research advisory role with the institute, remains relaxed and grounded, an endearing everyman infected with an incurable case of humility. On April 27 he tweeted what was meant to be a Google search: “Dan Murphy opening hours.” Even strict isolation comes with occasional caveats. Rather than delete the tweet, he let it stay and gather likes and laughs. “Only flawed humans can be loved,” he later tweeted. “And I certainly qualify.”

The real work is more sobering. Doherty says the worst virus he’s ever seen is smallpox. It killed about 300 million people in the 20th century, about 30 per cent of those it infected. Ironically, it’s also the only human infectious disease ever to be eradicated, the last case occurring in 1978. “We’re probably not going to eradicate COVID-19,” says Doherty. “So whatever people think of what’s being done, we need to build up the armamentarium against this thing. It’s lethal.”


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