Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Two Americas

There are two Americas, John Edwards likes to say. He's right, but the difference is not between rich and poor, but between free and less free. You can desecrate the sacred rite of communion in a Catholic church, as some mocking gays in nuns' habits did in San Francisco, and enjoy the explicit support of the mayor. However, you can't erect a manger scene on public property during Christmas. You can't say a prayer in a public school. If your city seal has any remotely religious image on it, your city will be sued by the ACLU.

You are free to kill an innocent child in the womb. However, you are not free to discourage that violent act within a few hundred feet of facilities where it occurs or where it is encouraged.

You are free to attend the college of your choice. If you attend Harvard, you can take classes studying gender differences in government and sociology. However, if you are the president of Harvard, and suggest that there are differences between the way men and women think, which is obvious to anyone who has more than a one-weekend relationship with a member of the opposite sex, then you can be hounded from your position by radical feminists and their allies.

You can even be the leader of a nation that hates this one, a leader who supplies terrorists with the weapons to kill American soldiers and innocent civilians, a leader who denies the Holocaust that thousands of Americans gave their lives to end, a leader who openly pursues nuclear weapons and threatens neighboring nations with them, and still be invited to speak before students at Columbia University.

However, if you're a member of a citizen organization dedicated to stopping illegal immigration, and you, too are invited to speak at Columbia University, you won't get very far. You will be heckled, shouted down, accosted, and strong-armed off the stage by protestors in the time-honored tradition of fascists.

If you're a student at Columbia who has made the selfless and noble decision to dedicate a portion of his life to the defense of this country, you are free to participate in the ROTC program, but only since Columbia was forced by federal law to make that program available. But you will be required to leave campus, hop a subway to a remote location, and attend your ROTC classes somewhere other than the university that enjoys federal subsidies because Columbia's administration wants to make the path of the patriot as difficult as possible.

This is the ultimate irony, because the freedoms Americans enjoy are defended by those very Americans who make the choice that Columbia University and the Left so disdain. USA Today this week noted that those who serve and have served in the military are more likely to vote than those who have not. Perhaps this is because they know the cost of freedom, having paid it themselves.


Liberals vs. the First Amendment

Until the FCC scrapped the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, it required broadcasters to provide equal time to all sides of "controversial" issues. In practice, this led to what Bill Monroe, a former host of NBC's "Meet the Press," called "timid, don't-rock-the-boat coverage." On radio, Newsweek's Howard Fineman notes, it "effectively kept partisan shows off the airwaves," so that in 1980 there were a mere 75 talk radio stations. Today there are 1,800.

But the Fairness Doctrine has always had fans in the corridors of power because it gave incumbents a way of muzzling their opponents. The Kennedy administration used it as a political weapon. Bill Ruder, Kennedy's assistant secretary of commerce, explained: "Our strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters and hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue." The Nixon administration similarly used the doctrine to torment left-wing broadcasters.

Democrats who have become "Fairness" mongers insist they simply want to restore civility and balance to the airwaves. Al Gore, in a typically overheated speech last year bemoaned "the destruction of [the] marketplace of ideas" which he blamed in part on the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, after which "Rush Limbaugh and other hate-mongers began to fill the airwaves."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein rails against "one-sided programming" that has pushed the American people into "extreme views without a lot of information." She thinks Americans deserve to know "both sides of the story." Isn't it enough that National Public Radio, subsidized by the government, serves as a vehicle for liberal voices in just about every community in the country?

True, commercial radio is dominated by conservatives, but perhaps that's because liberal arguments in their full-throated glory just haven't sold as well. Air America, the liberal talk radio network that debuted in 2004, is in perpetual financial trouble. Then there's the GreenStone talk radio network started last year by feminists Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem. It offered cutting-edge liberal thinking pitched to a female audience--and flopped completely.

Rep. Pence says he knows all about the power of talk radio because he used to host a statewide show in Indiana, where he describes himself as "the decaf Rush Limbaugh." He believes the Fairness Doctrine would "amount to government control over political views expressed on the public airwaves." In June his first effort to impose a one-year moratorium on any revival of the Fairness Doctrine by the FCC passed, 309-115, with nearly half of House Democrats voting in favor. But a one-year moratorium was an easy vote, because there is no reason to expect the Fairness Doctrine to make a comeback before 2009, when a new president--perhaps a Democrat--appoints a majority of FCC commissioners.

That's why Mr. Pence is proposing the Broadcaster Freedom Act, a bill that would permanently bury the Fairness Doctrine. Because House Democratic leaders are unlikely to allow it to come to the floor for a vote, Mr. Pence has launched a "discharge petition," a device to bypass House committees and move the bill directly to the floor. He needs 218 members--a House majority--to sign the petition. He has collected 185 signatures, but all from Republicans. Democrats are being told by their leadership that signing such a petition would undermine their control of the House.

Mr. Pence, says that "freedom should not be a partisan issue" and that he is optimistic that he can collect the signature of every Republican and then pluck off some 20 of the Democrats who voted for his one-year moratorium last summer (he'd need at least 18). The stakes are high. "Lovers of liberty must expose calls to restore the Fairness Doctrine for the fraudulent power-grab that they plainly are," writes Brian Anderson, editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.

That's because the attempts to control the airwaves won't stop with so-called equal time rules. Al Franken, the liberal former Air America host who is now running for the Senate in Minnesota, is already slipping into the role of potential legislative censor of his old industry. "You shouldn't be able to lie on the air," he told Newsweek's Mr. Fineman earlier this year. "You can't utter obscenities in a broadcast, so why should you be able to lie? You should be fined for lying."

In fact, you can be "fined" for lying, if the person you lie about successfully sues for defamation. But the First Amendment makes it exceedingly difficult for defamation plaintiffs to prevail, especially if they are public figures--and for good reason. Under a more pro-plaintiff legal regime, "the pall of fear and timidity imposed upon those who would give voice to public criticism is an atmosphere in which the First Amendment freedoms cannot survive," Justice William Brennan wrote in New York Times v. Sullivan (1964). Justice Brennan used to be a liberal hero. If he were alive today, he would surely be dismayed to learn that liberals seem to have concluded they have no use for the First Amendment.


Our Depressogenic Media

Can the media make you sick? It is a real question. Do you read a news headline and get that sinking feeling in your stomach? Or have you learned to avoid those headlines completely? I know one woman who can burst into tears from reading the newspaper. A medical doctor I know feels close to despair on an everyday basis, set off by media headlines --- most of which are dubious or plain false. Other people I know hate George W. Bush, not because of anything real, but because they have been constantly indoctrinated with media falsehoods, day after day after day.

The recent smear campaign against Rush Limbaugh provides an excellent example: Even though the facts were entirely clear, the mainstream media reports still suggested that Rush had insulted the US military. No knowledgeable person believed that, since Rush has his own mass media megaphone to counter the lie. Anyone could find out the truth simply by turning on the radio or reading the web. But the established media still peddled a plain lie. Only the really indoctrinated fell for this particular piece of disinformation. But those are the people who cannot exercise normal skepticism when it comes to the news. They would never just fall for a used car sales pitch or a Nigerian email scam. But they are constantly victimized by the depressogenic media, which are about as objective on political issues as an email scammer. The liberal media harm their own gullible audiences most of all.

"Depressogenic" is one of those overly long medical words, meaning "to cause depression." We know what causes depression in many individuals --- it is the overly harsh and constantly repeated self-criticism that many of us train ourselves to rehearse in our minds, and which can become automatic and uncontrollable after years of practice, in much the way that an annoying little habit can become uncontrollable. Musicians often develop such little out-of-control habits; Glenn Gould could not stop himself from singing during his piano recitals, as can be heard on his studio recordings. That is even more true for habits like our inner monologue, which we rarely understand to be habits. We tend to take our inner monologue for granted.

For decades, research has shown that excessive self-critical thoughts can lead to depression. A little self-criticism is obviously healthy. Out-of-control and unrealistic self-criticism can be pathogenic. People sometimes commit suicide because of depression, and those with a biological predisposition could actually kill themselves statistically more often, because of the atmosphere of gloom that is constantly spread by our established media, which are almost sadistic in the intensity of their anti-American hatred. It is a pathogenic condition, just as one can see pathogenic situations in families and organizations.

It is the high achievers in the world who are often the most self-critical, and therefore the most vulnerable to self-inflicted depression. The habit of compulsive self-criticism allows high achievers to leap hurdle after hurdle in schools and careers. But the psychological cost can be a kind of out-of-control self-loathing, self-doubt, and discounting of one's own achievements. Ultimately nothing is good enough. Some high achievers have a pervasive feeling of being impostors, always having to prove to themselves that they are really as good as everyone else believes them to be.

The media do to our national conversation what depressed people do in their inner monologue. They are compulsively self-critical to the point of national self-hatred. It is not far from the truth to talk about our self-loathing media, except that the media don't loathe themselves: They exempt themselves from criticism. Instead, they hate our country, and teach millions of their psychological victims to do the same. This pattern has now gone way beyond the healthy self-criticism that any nation needs. It has turned into the compulsive anti-Americanism of the American media. (The Europeans are all too happy to echo our own anti-American media, which makes them feel a lot better about themselves.)

The sources of our media self-hatred are not as important as the solution. Depressed people don't have to dig into the history of their self-critical thoughts. Rather, they just need to gently guide their thoughts into saner and less self-destructive directions. Psychiatrists have long helped depressed people learn to spot their excessively self-critical thoughts, and to "argue" against them in the inner monologue.

We have a depressogenic media. Diagnosis is a useful step toward a cure. For better national mental health we need a balanced or even an optimistic media, in exactly the same way individuals thrive with an optimistic or at least a balanced attitude to themselves. News consumers are finally figuring out the media's sadistic "flagellate-America" style. They are now changing in droves to more constructive media voices. That process should accelerate and snowball, with new media emphasizing a more balanced understanding of America's virtues, and more constructive solutions for our problems. The present established media are far too stuck to change. We need a New Media for improved national mental health. The media could start by taking a long course in saner thinking themselves.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Selective Censorship of Speech

Since this country's inception a variety of our rulers have, from time to time, impinged Americans' freedoms of expression. For example, John Adams' Sedition Act outlawed critical writing and speech against the U.S.; a 1907 Supreme Court decision favored nationalism over property rights and free expression; in 2001, a reporter was interrogated by the Secret Service for writing an editorial asking Jesus Christ to smite George W. Bush; and in 2006 a man was jailed for assault after telling Dick Cheney U.S. policy in Iraq was reprehensible. While there have been numerous governmental freedom faux pas, the truth is we are blind to the true stewards of censorship -the American public.

Granted, our public servants make much better boogeymen, but it is our own cowardice that facilitates the further erosion of freedom. Every time we say, "There ought to be a law," apologize for expressing ourselves or use our right of expression to stifle someone else's views, we are guilty. Perhaps it has always been this way. Maybe somewhere along the line a great many people simply decided they have the right not to be offended. They took donations, formed groups and greased the palms of those who passed legislation on so-called hate speech and decency legislation when all these citizen tyrants needed to do was ignore the insulting material, thereby removing its power.

First they changed "manhole cover" to "person-hole cover," and "chairman" to "Chairperson." The next thing you know, retarded people are no longer retarded, they're mentally challenged. And while I'm still white, blacks are now African American--regardless of whether they were born in Idaho or Sudan. And while I was born in America, I am not a native American, and I'm still not sure whether to refer to Indians-feathers, not dots-as Indians or Native Americans.

In his book N*gger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, Randall Kennedy discusses the controversy over who can and cannot employ the so-called N-word. The idea that there exists a race-specific license on what words one can and cannot use is nearly as frightening as it is ridiculous. And, as asinine, juvenile and repulsive as I find people who dislike others based on race, religion or sexual preference, they have every right to engage in free speech, even the hateful kind. As with every other infringement on liberty, those oppressors claim to stifle us for our own safety and mental health. Of course, the result from subjective enforcement is an evermore skewed sense of who can say what and when.

Even more contradictory is the disparity between epithets the PC police will and won't allow. While I can get away with saying "Redneck, whitey, cracker, Canuck, pollock, flapdragon, frog, limey, Mohawk and mongrel," no one would stand for me calling an Irishman a "mic" or an Italian a "wop." And before you break out the "Death to Gohs" stationery, I'm not dropping slurs just for the hell of it. My job consists of words, language and the nuances therein. And few things terrify me more than being told I am barred from using certain aspects of the language simply because I may offend someone. If I cannot write or say one word today, then what won't I be able to write or say tomorrow?

I'm not calling for people to start dropping F-bombs or N-words willy-nilly in newspapers, on TV or radio, and I'm certainly not begging Buddha to bugger Bush, but when a radio shock-jock loses his job for saying, "Nappy-headed hoes," or anti-freedom zealots 'round the country scream for the head of the editor of a college rag who used "Fuck" in a headline, political correctness has gone too far.

I doubt not for a second that Imus' poor word choice hurt some feelings, but if he would have made nasty comments about fat people, white people, Canadian people or gays, he would today remain unscathed-Now where is the decency in that?

Like Spencer Tracy's character Henry Drummond in "Inherit the Wind" said, "I don't swear for the hell of it. Language is a poor enough means of communication. We've got to use all the words we've got. Besides, there are damn few words anybody understands." Following is a three-step emergency plan for those of you easily offended by free speech:

1. Stock up on tissue paper - Warning: Excessive weeping may require something more absorbent such as a beach towel or bedspread.

2. Do not turn off the radio nor close the offending book or newspaper - the side effects of doing so include personal responsibility and diminished indignation.

3. Punch yourself in the stomach, because you are a whiny little dork and I don't have time to do it for you - Repeat as necessary.

Even with all the expletives, slang and jive on the planet, there is nothing more damaging to the fruition of ". . . liberty and justice for all" than the censorship of free expression.


It's Not About Freedom, But Whose Freedom

Freedom is the ultimate double-edged sword. It can allow us to reach our dreams or construct our nightmares. It allows people to make something of their lives or make their lives a mess. It allows governments to become havens for happiness or dens of despair. It permits politicians to wax eloquently or spew rubbish. Freedom allows us to be informed and entertained or deceived and indoctrinated. It can provide our children with a better future or no future at all. It cannot be destroyed; it can only be redistributed.

Liberal Hobby

Liberals love to wail on about freedom of this and freedom of that, waving a litany of freedoms we are on our way to losing it we do not blindly follow their lead. That litany typically includes freedom of speech, freedom of lifestyle, freedom of choice, freedom from religion and so on. As usual, liberals live by presenting themselves as saviors of freedom, noble knights out to slay the intolerant, racist, greedy and insensitive dragon of conservatism. Conservatives eat our freedoms for lunch, the liberals tell us.

We are warned of phone-tapping, violations of privacy, random searches, profiling, invasions into our private lives and bedrooms and all manner of foul and sinister wounds on our freedom at the hands of conservatives. At the end of the day, liberals are nothing but sly mechanics who wave a little oil in the finger as a sign that we need major car repairs and we better have them service our car at regular intervals as well. They are not about where our freedom can take us but rather how our freedom can be taken from us. Oh, by the way, they are the ones taking our freedom. Ironic, isn't it?

It is About Redistribution

I have come to believe that freedom is never lost from the scene; it is merely redistributed. The freedom you lose is the freedom someone else gains. If I put you in prison or stop you from expressing yourself, I am taking your freedom from you but using that freedom for myself. I am creating a freedom, albeit destructive, for myself to confine or shut you up.

The liberal will tell you that freedom of speech should be protected, but he will therefore protect and defend speech that harms someone else's freedom from vulgarity, treason or invasion of their family unit. Meanwhile, that same liberal will use his freedom to censor someone else's freedom of speech should that speech offend the liberal. In the end, it is not about freedom at all but rather redistributing labels and concepts as needed. Hate speech is what I hate to hear. Intolerance is when you do not tolerate my views. Diversity is my kind of diversity.

In the end, liberals are not fighting for freedom. Rather, they are merely fighting to redistribute your freedom back to themselves, giving them the right to control, censor, moderate and define the issues, conversations and path that our national debate takes. You can dispel any doubts on this point by asking yourself if liberals are interested in conservatives being free to express their views on any topic. The next time a liberal tells you that he is about freedom, mention The Fair Use Doctrine.

It's My Freedom and I Can Cry If I Want To

We have been told many times over that liberals are intellectual babies, that they think that they are always right and that they want things their way or no way at all. Since liberals have convinced themselves that conservatives are simple-minded, superstitious hicks holding a Bible on one hand and moonshine on the other, it should be no surprise that they wonder why anyone should be exposed to any conservative's opinions about whiskey, much less society, politics, law, justice, religion and immigration.

Remember the Columbia University affair a while back when imbeciles stormed the stage to prevent Jim Gilchrist from speaking about border security? They claimed to be fighting for freedom from "racist intolerance" and "hate speech" even as they trampled on Gilchrist's right to speak. What more evidence do we need of just how absurd, hypocritical and selective liberals' definition of freedom really is?

In a Perfect World

In a perfect world, people would be able to enjoy their freedom within the confines of decency, some semblance of social and civic order and respect for life, family, nation and tradition. In case you have not noticed, this is not a perfect world or society. Here we have people abusing their freedom by turning it into a vehicle of selective hypocrisy, legislative and judicial abuse, wanton treason against our national self-interest and betrayal of much of what this nation should stand for.

Liberals are not just seeking to sell the farm; they are trying to sell it to our worst enemies and have us pay those same foes rent as tenants of that which we once owned. Liberals are not just slapping our troops in the face; they are mocking the blood that our brave military have shed over the long history of this nation. Nobody should be surprised to see liberals mocking and disrespecting our troops in Iraq. After all, did they not do the same in Vietnam?

Liberals tell us that they are for freedom against racism, yet history shows that the Democratic Party created the KKK and the Democratic Congress was the greatest obstacle to much of the civil rights legislation that came down the river since then. Liberals tell us that they are for freedom from discrimination and patronization, yet their affirmative action policies and entitlement programs merely spread closet racism, victimization and patronization under the guise of governmental and institutional compassion.

Finally, liberals speak of protecting our national interest and freedoms, yet they passionately fight to transfer our freedom as citizens and lawful residents of this great nation to those who mock our laws, spit at our flag and invade our country unlawfully. They take the freedom of a family lawfully in this country to send their child to college at a reasonable cost and transfer that freedom to a family unlawfully in this country. The next time a liberal tells you that he is about freedom of education at a fair, just cost for our lawful residents, mention the Dream Act.


This is not a discussion about freedom. It is, however, very much a discussion about whose freedom, and that is where each of us has to draw the line in the sand and choose a side. One side believes that freedom is a beautiful gift that must be earned through lawful respect, reasonable civility, loyalty to nation, awareness of a noble history and humble obedience to a Higher Power. This is the freedom to achieve dreams through hard work and obeying our laws and loyalty to flag and country. Simply put, it is the freedom to apply everything our founders intended and demonstrate everything they believed.

The other side believes that freedom is an entitlement conferred only upon those who toe the line, buy the script and accept the spin. Their freedom is the freedom to practice blatant hypocrisy, selective tolerance and disrespectful arrogance. It is the freedom to point fingers and not look in mirrors. It is the freedom to expect entitlements and handouts, preferences and labels and embrace patronization and victimization as the easy way to goals. At the end of the day, one side defines freedom as the right to serve this great nation while enjoying and recognizing its great gifts while the other defines that same freedom as the right to walk down a street naked or crawl under a border fence. Freedom never disappears; it is just defined in different ways.


Poverty exaggerations

AUSTRALIA'S welfare lobby is at it again. In a report issued last week, an alliance of welfare groups claimed that more than 11 per cent of Australian households are living in poverty, and that their numbers are rising. The Uniting Church president described this as scandalous. A St Vincent de Paul activist said it shows the need for a national vision instead of piecemeal programs. And the head of the Australian Council of Social Service came right to the point by demanding more funding for essential services.

Working people in this country are paying tax to support more than 700,000 disability support pensioners, about 600,000 welfare parents, nearly half a million unemployed and two million aged pensioners, not to mention more than three million families claiming Family Tax Benefit.

While unemployment figures are at 30-year lows, total welfare dependency is at record highs. A workforce of 10million is supporting two million welfare claimants of working age, plus another two million aged pensioners. The cost is phenomenal: more than $70 billion on social security and welfare payments alone. Yet ACOSS says we should be spending even more.

Few Australians begrudge helping those who really need support, but they do resent paying for people who could be supporting themselves. Research a few years ago found 56 per cent think the welfare state makes people less willing to look after themselves, and only 34 per cent want more of their taxes spent on welfare benefits for the poor.

The welfare lobby is well aware of this public resistance to higher welfare spending. That's why it persists in producing wildly exaggerated and misleading reports about the size of our poverty problem. They think if they can get us to believe that huge numbers of our fellow citizens are suffering, our sense of fairness will lead us to support their demands for more government spending. They even called their latest report Australia Fair.

There are two reasons why we should refuse to go along with this.

The first is that their definition of poverty is entirely arbitrary. They say anyone is poor who has less than half the median income. On this definition, 11 per cent of Australians are poor. But their report also says you could define poverty as an income less than 60 per cent of the median income, in which case 19 per cent of Australians are poor. We could play this game indefinitely. To increase your poverty estimate, simply draw your line at a higher level.

What this report is really doing is measuring income dispersion, not poverty. It shows that the proportion of the population receiving less than half the median income has grown from 10per cent to 11 per cent during the past three years. It calls this an increase in poverty, but all it really means is incomes have become slightly more spread out.

Comparing the incomes of people at the bottom with those higher up tells us about the difference between them, but it tells us nothing about whether they are poor or rich. This slight increase in the income spread has actually coincided with a rapid rise in real incomes at all levels, so everyone has been getting better off. To describe this as a growth of poverty (and even as sad and scandalous, as the Uniting Church did) is clearly absurd.

The second reason for taking this report with a pinch of salt is that it takes a static snapshot rather than looking at people's incomes over time. Household incomes fluctuate, so most people who appear under any arbitrarily drawn poverty line do not stay there long. Research following a panel of Australian households for several years found 12 per cent had less than half the median income in the first year, but only 6 per cent had an income this low for two years running, and just 4 per cent stayed under the line for three years. Sustained poverty, as against a temporary income drop, is thus much lower than the welfare lobby would have you believe.

Moreover, people adjust to fluctuating incomes through their lifetime by changing their pattern of borrowing, saving and spending, so their living standards actually vary much less dramatically than their incomes do. Research at the Melbourne Institute has found people on low incomes do not necessarily consume less food, clothing, transportation, gas, electricity, health insurance, alcohol, meals out or home maintenance than other people do. Living temporarily on a low income does not necessarily translate into poor living standards.

The Melbourne Institute study combines income and consumption into a single measure of poverty. It finds that only 3 per cent of the population comes out as poor at any one time on this measure, and just 1 per cent remains poor over two successive years. The study concludes: "Existing income-based measures (of poverty) are seriously in error. The results they give are much too high."

Some of us have been saying this for a long time, but it is not a message the welfare pressure groups seem willing to listen to.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, October 29, 2007

KKK's 1st targets were Republicans

Dems started group that attacked both blacks, whites -- something else that the Leftist control of history teaching has ALMOST removed from memory

The original targets of the Ku Klux Klan were Republicans, both black and white, according to a new television program and book, which describe how the Democrats started the KKK and for decades harassed the GOP with lynchings and threats. An estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites died at the end of KKK ropes from 1882 to 1964.

The documentation has been assembled by David Barton of Wallbuilders and published in his book "Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White," which reveals that not only did the Democrats work hand-in-glove with the Ku Klux Klan for generations, they started the KKK and endorsed its mayhem. "Of all forms of violent intimidation, lynchings were by far the most effective," Barton said in his book. "Republicans often led the efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws and their platforms consistently called for a ban on lynching. Democrats successfully blocked those bills and their platforms never did condemn lynchings."

Further, the first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, no Democrats voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves and, to this day, the party website ignores those decades of racism, he said. "Although it is relatively unreported today, historical documents are unequivocal that the Klan was established by Democrats and that the Klan played a prominent role in the Democratic Party," Barton writes in his book. "In fact, a 13-volume set of congressional investigations from 1872 conclusively and irrefutably documents that fact.

"Contributing to the evidences was the 1871 appearance before Congress of leading South Carolina Democrat E.W. Seibels who testified that 'they [the Ku Klux Klan] belong to the reform part - [that is, to] our party, the Democratic Party,'" Barton writes. "The Klan terrorized black Americans through murders and public floggings; relief was granted only if individuals promised not to vote for Republican tickets, and violation of this oath was punishable by death," he said. "Since the Klan targeted Republicans in general, it did not limit its violence simply to black Republicans; white Republicans were also included."

Barton also has covered the subject in one episode of his American Heritage Series of television programs, which is being broadcast now on Trinity Broadcasting Network and Cornerstone Television.

Barton told WND his comments are not a condemnation or endorsement of any party or candidate, but rather a warning that voters even today should be aware of what their parties and candidates stand for. His book outlines the aggressive pro-slavery agenda held by the Democratic Party for generations leading up to the Civil War, and how that did not die with the Union victory in that war of rebellion. Even as the South was being rebuilt, the votes in Congress consistently revealed a continuing pro-slavery philosophy on the part of the Democrats, the book reveals.

Three years after Appomattox, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting blacks citizenship in the United States, came before Congress: 94 percent of Republicans endorsed it. "The records of Congress reveal that not one Democrat - either in the House or the Senate - voted for the 14th Amendment," Barton wrote. "Three years after the Civil War, and the Democrats from the North as well as the South were still refusing to recognize any rights of citizenship for black Americans." He also noted that South Carolina Gov. Wade Hampton at the 1868 Democratic National Convention inserted a clause in the party platform declaring the Congress' civil rights laws were "unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void." It was the same convention when Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the KKK, was honored for his leadership.

Barton's book notes that in 1868, Congress heard testimony from election worker Robert Flournoy, who confessed while he was canvassing the state of Mississippi in support of the 13th and 14th Amendments, he could find only one black, in a population of 444,000 in the state, who admitted being a Democrat.

Nor is Barton the only person to raise such questions. In 2005, National Review published an article raising similar points. The publication said in 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, deployed the 82nd Airborne Division to desegregate the Little Rock, Ark., schools over the resistance of Democrat Gov. Orval Faubus.

Further, three years later, Eisenhower signed the GOP's 1960 Civil Rights Act after it survived a five-day, five-hour filibuster by 18 Senate Democrats, and in 1964, Democrat President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act after former Klansman Robert Byrd's 14-hour filibuster, and the votes of 22 other Senate Democrats, including Tennessee's Al Gore Sr., failed to scuttle the plan.

More here

Competitive sport making a partial comeback in British schools

In Tom Brown's Schooldays (1857), written by an alumnus of Rugby school during Thomas Arnold's headship, the eponymous hero states: `[F]ootball and cricket, now one comes to think of it, are such much better games than fives or hare-and-hounds, or any others where the object is to come in first or to win for oneself, and not that one's side may win.' It's not therefore competition per se that was deemed morally suspect, but self-interest - hence the emphasis on team sport. Moreover, the moral claims made on behalf of certain team sports drew on their intrinsically competitive nature, indeed, made of it a virtue. Instrumental it may be, but the ends are not extrinsic to the means.

Adding a touch more Empire to this morally robust mix, a later Victorian homilist, TL Papillon, was equally certain of sport's value to a public school boy, especially one who, lacking academic aptitude, `has devoted a great part of his time and nearly all his thoughts to athletic sports': for he will still bring `away something beyond all price, a manly straight forward character, a scorn of lying and meanness, habits of obedience and command and reckless courage. Thus equipped, he goes out into the world, and bears a man's part in subduing the earth, taming its wild folk, and building up the Empire.' (4) It is doubtful that any equivalent rhetoric exists for pedometers.

In an article published in The Tribune in December 1945, George Orwell famously echoed the sentiments above. But he did so darkly: `Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.' (5) The occasion for such a tirade may have been Arsenal's defeat of Dynamo Moscow, but it doesn't take a historian to figure out that the context of recent World War, and incipient Cold War, provided the frame through which Orwell rendered competitiveness as the essence of militarism. Furthermore, the focus of Orwell's declamation is illustrative. For it is always in terms of the competitive element, the very element both regulated and exalted in sport throughout its nineteenth-century development, that sport is judged. The disparagement of school sport during the late 1980s and 90s is no exception. On the basis that competitive sport cultivated selfishness, competitive sports days appeared as free-market induction sessions. While many lost their livelihoods during the 1980s and early 90s, in the anti-competitive parallel sporting universe, wrongs were to be set right by ensuring that eggs were glued to spoons.

But times change. `It was an absurd and perverse political correctness which caused competitive sports to be banned in some schools and I hope we never see a return to such nonsense' announced then education secretary Alan Johnson earlier this year (5). Indeed, school sport has rarely been so high up the policy agenda, nor investment so forthcoming. As last year's School Sport Survey extolled: `Physical Education (PE) and sport play an important role in school life. They help to raise standards, improve behaviour and health, increase attendance and develop social skills.' In other words, school sport does a lot of things the government is keen on doing. Not only that, it also seems to be pretty successful. As David Conn reported, in 1994, only 25 per cent of primary and secondary school pupils in Britain were doing the recommended two hours of PE a week (6). The figure is now 86 per cent (7).

There's no doubt that the stats are impressive. But it's what is driving the newfound sporting zeal that is more troubling. As with many other aspects of education, school sport seems to be acquiring its current meaning in a context of social estrangement. In this sense it appears as no more than a vital mediation between the dislocated state and the populace it seeks to manage. But in the process of reducing school sport to a policy mechanism, a management tool, the authorities run the risk of emptying sport of content, reducing it to an abstraction, units of exercise applicable to everyone - sporty or not. As such it can just about refer to anything that involves a degree of movement, hence its ability to colonise informal aspects of kids' lives - dance or skateboarding, say - and institutionalise them as another school sport.

Likewise, competition changes meaning, and becomes more of a byword for participation, a demand that children find something they're good at. To wit, James Purnell, secretary of state for culture, media and sport: `Schools are offering a greater variety of sports than ever before and children now have more opportunities to try out and find a sport which is right for them.' (8) That is by no means a terrible thing, but as the deathlessly quantitative nature of the research indicates, the aim seems to be to increase the numbers participating in `sport' without thinking about what they're actually participating in. Ed Balls at least has the advantage of honesty here: `The way in which schools provide sports after [the age of 11] has a big impact on participation. Particularly for girls. If you have a wider range of sports on offer, more alternative sports, more things like frisbee or yoga which are as health driving as any other in schools.' (9)

Though Orwell or Thomas Arnold would have argued about the worth of sport, they would at least have agreed that such meaning as it had lay in its inherently competitive nature, and the self-realisation and expression that entails. Today's notion of school sport is in danger of limiting the latter to aerobics.


Scotsmen criticizing Scots is "racial hatred"??

Sir Jackie Stewart, the former motor-racing world champion, has accused his fellow Scots of being lazy and overdependent on public sector "jobs for life". The racing legend, from Dumbarton, who now lives in Buckinghamshire and Switzerland, said he was astonished at how workshy his countrymen had become. Stewart, the son of a garage owner who overcame dyslexia to become one of the country's greatest sportsmen, said he rarely heard a Scottish voice when he visited hotels and restaurants in his native country.

Praising Poles and Australians, who he said were prepared to work hard in the service industry, he accused Scots of relying on cosy jobs in the country's burgeoning public sector. "I am constantly disappointed by the fact that the Scots don't want to work," he said. "In things like the service sector which is absolutely vital for tourism, I'm served by South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders and Polish people who are really working hard.

"I think social services are too prolific. If you have a job in government you're not going to be sacked. You have a job for life. You don't have to work too hard and you don't have to present yourself well because it is not competitive."

The 68-year-old's comments have reignited the debate provoked by Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of The Sun, who claimed Scotland was a nation of subsidy junkies. As a panellist on the BBC's Question Time programme earlier this month, MacKenzie, whose grandfather was born in Stirling and was allegedly a Highland Games champion, accused Scots of living off wealth created in the southeast of England. "Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism, like in London and the southeast. The reality is that the Scots enjoy spending it, they don't enjoy creating it, which is the opposite of down in the south," he said.

MacKenzie, who is being investigated by police for allegedly inciting racial hatred, said he was delighted a prominent Scot had now endorsed his comments. "The Scots may not want to take notice of someone like me but I hope they take notice of someone like Sir Jackie," he said. "When their own countrymen and someone who has made a success of their life starts making these statements then maybe Scots should think a bit more rather than hitting out. I am not anti-Scot but I am anti the fact we are subsidising a part of the country that should be able to look after itself."

In a separate interview Stewart recalled his own youth when he used to serve petrol in his father's garage in Scotland. "I have heard too many of my compatriots saying: `Oh, I wouldn't want to do that job, it's too menial'," he said. "But I was proud to be involved in a service industry, it taught me how to communicate, gave me confidence, and encouraged me to be positive, because I knew that if I was nice to people, they would like it and give me a bigger tip."

Other Scots disagreed. Sir Tom Hunter, Scotland's richest man, said: "Everyone is born with the same intelligence, just some are dealt a bad hand in terms of opportunity. No one wakes up and thinks they don't want to work, or go on the dole. It just happens that some people find themselves in tough situations. Sometimes they just need a little bit of extra help." Gordon Ramsay, the Glasgow-born celebrity chef, added: "Scots have tenacity, hunger and determination and, most importantly, a pair of balls. That costs nothing and that is how they will succeed


Evangelical atheism

Richard Dawkins's campaign urging atheists to `come out' and be counted, is oddly reminiscent of an evangelical rally where born-again Christians are implored to rush down to the stage.

Closet atheists in the pious USA and worldwide are to be welcomed with open arms into the sceptical fold. And if sales of Dawkins's The God Delusion and other recent books like it are anything to go by, there is no shortage of people ready to join up. While some critics have labelled Dawkins and co `atheist fundamentalists', the real similarity between atheism and religion today is less fanaticism than a palpable yearning to belong. There is nothing wrong with this very human impulse, but non-belief is an odd basis for belonging.

Of course, the resurgence of interest in atheism is a reaction to the perceived rise of religion, whether in the form of Islamic fundamentalism or US-style Christian conservatism. But in taking their cue from resurgent religions, atheists also adopt something of their inward-looking focus. From attempts to popularise the term `bright' as a positive identity to calls for atheists to be included on the roster of BBC Radio 4's `Thought for the Day', it seems that some want to establish atheism as an alternative, non-religious camp for people to belong to. But atheism itself ought to be the least interesting thing about atheists, who surely have various and often conflicting beliefs and passions of their own.

The most promising term used by some atheists to describe a more positive outlook is humanism, evoking a rich tradition going back to the Renaissance. But this won't serve as a label for the non-religious for the simple reason that humanism does not preclude religious faith. Indeed, those of us with a positive belief in the human potential do not especially need to distinguish ourselves from others who share that belief while also identifying with a religious tradition. Certainly we will object to religious bigotry, but then so do most avowedly religious people. And equally, we will share opposition to antihuman ideas propagated by some atheists, such as biological determinism: the idea that humans are little more than fleshy machines.

The desire to establish atheism as an alternative identity is ultimately conservative. Rather than joining together with others who share a positive vision of the future, self-styled atheists define themselves against an external threat. Worse, it is no longer the conservatism of religion that worries non-believers, but its radicalism, its seemingly irrational passion. Where once religion was disdained as `the opium of the people', today it is seen as more akin to the alcopop of the people: a dangerous and toxic influence that makes people behave in irrational ways. If coming out as an atheist means subscribing to an ersatz religion with the fire taken out, atheists can expect to remain in the cold.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Media myths about the Jena 6

By Craig Franklin

By now, almost everyone in America has heard of Jena, La., because they've all heard the story of the "Jena 6." White students hanging nooses barely punished, a schoolyard fight, excessive punishment for the six black attackers, racist local officials, public outrage and protests - the outside media made sure everyone knew the basics.

There's just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.

The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side's statements - the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they'd read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue. The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It's time to set the record straight.

Myth 1: The Whites-Only Tree. There has never been a "whites-only" tree at Jena High School. Students of all races sat underneath this tree. When a student asked during an assembly at the start of school last year if anyone could sit under the tree, it evoked laughter from everyone present - blacks and whites. As reported by students in the assembly, the question was asked to make a joke and to drag out the assembly and avoid class.

Myth 2: Nooses a Signal to Black Students. An investigation by school officials, police, and an FBI agent revealed the true motivation behind the placing of two nooses in the tree the day after the assembly. According to the expulsion committee, the crudely constructed nooses were not aimed at black students. Instead, they were understood to be a prank by three white students aimed at their fellow white friends, members of the school rodeo team. (The students apparently got the idea from watching episodes of "Lonesome Dove.") The committee further concluded that the three young teens had no knowledge that nooses symbolize the terrible legacy of the lynchings of countless blacks in American history. When informed of this history by school officials, they became visibly remorseful because they had many black friends. Another myth concerns their punishment, which was not a three-day suspension, but rather nine days at an alternative facility followed by two weeks of in-school suspension, Saturday detentions, attendance at Discipline Court, and evaluation by licensed mental-health professionals. The students who hung the nooses have not publicly come forward to give their version of events.

Myth 3: Nooses Were a Hate Crime. Although many believe the three white students should have been prosecuted for a hate crime for hanging the nooses, the incident did not meet the legal criteria for a federal hate crime. It also did not meet the standard for Louisiana's hate-crime statute, and though widely condemned by all officials, there was no crime to charge the youths with.

Myth 4: DA's Threat to Black Students. When District Attorney Reed Walters spoke to Jena High students at an assembly in September, he did not tell black students that he could make their life miserable with "the stroke of a pen." Instead, according to Walters, "two or three girls, white girls, were chit-chatting on their cellphones or playing with their cellphones right in the middle of my dissertation. I got a little irritated at them and said, 'Pay attention to me. I am right now having to deal with an aggravated rape case where I've got to decide whether the death penalty applies or not.' I said, 'Look, I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. With the stroke of a pen I can make your life miserable so I want you to call me before you do something stupid.'" Mr. Walters had been called to the assembly by police, who had been at the school earlier that day dealing with some students who were causing disturbances. Teachers and students have confirmed Walters's version of events.

Myth 5: The Fair Barn Party Incident. On Dec. 1, 2006, a private party - not an all-white party as reported - was held at the local community center called the Fair Barn. Robert Bailey Jr., soon to be one of the Jena 6, came to the party with others seeking admittance. When they were denied entrance by the renter of the facility, a white male named Justin Sloan (not a Jena High student) at the party attacked Bailey and hit him in the face with his fist. This is reported in witness statements to police, including the victim, Robert Bailey, Jr. Months later, Bailey contended he was hit in the head with a beer bottle and required stitches. No medical records show this ever occurred. Mr. Sloan was prosecuted for simple battery, which according to Louisiana law, is the proper charge for hitting someone with a fist.

Myth 6: The "Gotta-Go" Grocery Incident. On Dec. 2, 2006, Bailey and two other black Jena High students were involved in an altercation at this local convenience store, stemming from the incident that occurred the night before. The three were accused by police of jumping a white man as he entered the store and stealing a shotgun from him. The two parties gave conflicting statements to police. However, two unrelated eye witnesses of the event gave statements that corresponded with that of the white male.

Myth 7: The Schoolyard Fight. The event on Dec. 4, 2006 was consistently labeled a "schoolyard fight." But witnesses described something much more horrific. Several black students, including those now known as the Jena 6, barricaded an exit to the school's gym as they lay in wait for Justin Barker to exit. (It remains unclear why Mr. Barker was specifically targeted.) When Barker tried to leave through another exit, court testimony indicates, he was hit from behind by Mychal Bell. Multiple witnesses confirmed that Barker was immediately knocked unconscious and lay on the floor defenseless as several other black students joined together to kick and stomp him, with most of the blows striking his head. Police speculate that the motivation for the attack was related to the racially charged fights that had occurred during the previous weekend.

Myth 8: The Attack Is Linked to the Nooses. Nowhere in any of the evidence, including statements by witnesses and defendants, is there any reference to the noose incident that occurred three months prior. This was confirmed by the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, Donald Washington, on numerous occasions.

Myth 9: Mychal Bell's All-White Jury. While it is true that Mychal Bell was convicted as an adult by an all-white jury in June (a conviction that was later overturned with his case sent to juvenile court), the jury selection process was completely legal and withstood an investigation by the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Court officials insist that several black residents were summoned for jury duty, but did not appear.

Myth 10: Jena 6 as Model Youth. While some members were simply caught up in the moment, others had criminal records. Bell had at least four prior violent-crime arrests before the December attack, and was on probation during most of this year.

Myth 11: Jena Is One of the Most Racist Towns in America. Actually, Jena is a wonderful place to live for both whites and blacks. The media's distortion and outright lies concerning the case have given this rural Louisiana town a label it doesn't deserve.

Myth 12: Two Levels of Justice. Outside protesters were convinced that the prosecution of the Jena 6 was proof of a racially biased system of justice. But the US Justice Department's investigation found no evidence to support such a claim. In fact, the percentage of blacks and whites prosecuted matches the parish's population statistics.

These are just 12 of many myths that are portrayed as fact in the media concerning the Jena cases. (A more thorough review of all events can be found at - click on Chronological Order of Events.) As with the Duke Lacrosse case, the truth about Jena will eventually be known. But the town of Jena isn't expecting any apologies from the media. They will probably never admit their error and have already moved on to the next "big" story. Meanwhile in Jena, residents are getting back to their regular routines, where friends are friends regardless of race. Just as it has been all along.


The Leftist media mistake Vietnam movies for real life

Because they know so little of real life. Article below by Peggy Noonan

"I love chicks that have been intimate with EDS's," he announced to his fellow soldiers sitting in the chow tent in Camp Falcon in Baghdad. "It really turns me on--melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses." The soldiers laughed so hard they almost fell from their chairs. They enjoy running over dogs in Bradley Fighting Vehicles, luring them in and then crushing their bones as they whelp. When a soldier comes upon a mass grave, he picks up a human skull, places it merrily on his head, and marches around.

This is from the now-famous "Baghdad Diaries," in The New Republic, carrying the byline of soldier-writer Scott Thomas. They are an attempt to capture the tragedy and dehumanization of war, how it coarsens men in ways that you, safe in your bed, cannot fathom. They are a lost generation, battered by war, and struggling, with the real weapons of war's survivors--mordant wit, pitiless humor, the final surrender to nihilism--to survive in a world they never made. Do I overwrite? Do I sound like an idiot? I'm just trying to fit in.

To read the Thomas pieces was, simply, to doubt them. And to wonder if its editors had ever actually met a soldier on his way to or from Iraq, or talked to any human being involved in the modern military. The diaries appear to be another case of journalistic fabulism. This week came word, via the published transcript of a telephone conversation between "Thomas," who is actually Scott Thomas Beauchamp, and his editors. It is actually painful to read. The editors almost plead with him to stand by his work, after months of critics' picking them factually apart. He won't do it. He doesn't want to talk to "the media." He's said enough

Everyone in journalism thought first of Stephen Glass. I actually remember the day I read his New Republic piece on the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington in 1997, a profile of young Republicans as crude and ignorant pot-smoking alcoholics in search of an orgy. It, um, startled me. After years of observation, I was inclined toward the view that there's no such thing as a young Republican. More to the point, I'd been to the kind of convention Mr. Glass wrote about, and I thought it not remotely possible that the people he painted were real. I also thought: Man, this is way too convenient. The New Republic tends to think Republicans are hateful, and this reporter just happened to be welcomed into the private world of the most hateful Republicans in history.

On the Thomas stories, which I read not when they came out but when they began to come under scrutiny, I had a similar thought, or a variation of it. I thought: That's not Iraq, that's a Vietnam War movie. That's not life as it's being lived on the ground right now, that's life as an editor absorbed it through media. That's the dark world of Kubrick and Coppola and Oliver Stone, of the great Vietnam movies of the '70s and '80s.

If that's what you absorbed during the past 20 or 30 years, it just might make sense to you, it would actually seem believable, if a fellow in Iraq wrote for you about taunting scarred women, shooting dogs, and wearing skulls as helmets. This is the offhand brutality of war. You know. You saw it in a movie. If you'd had a broader array of references, and were less preoccupied by the media that is the great occupying force in our own country, and you were the editor of the Thomas pieces, you might have said, "Whoa." Just whoa.

I'll jump here, or lurch I suppose, to something I am concerned about that I think I am observing accurately. It has to do with what sometimes seems to me to be the limited lives that have been or are being lived by the rising generation of American professionals in the arts, journalism, academia and business. They have had good lives, happy lives, but there is a sense with some of them that they didn't so much live it as view it. That they learned too much from media and not enough from life's difficulties. That they saw much of what they know in a film or play and picked up all the memes and themes.

In terms of personal difficulties, they seem to have had less real-life experience, or rather different experiences, than their rougher predecessors. They grew up affluent in a city or suburb, cosseted in material terms, and generally directed toward academic and material success. Their lives seem to have been not crowded or fearful, but relatively peaceful, at least until September 2001, which was very hard.

But this new leadership class, those roughly 35 to 40, grew up in a time when media dominated all. They studied, they entered a top-tier college, and then on to Washington or New York or Los Angeles. But their knowledge, their experience, is necessarily circumscribed. Too much is abstract to them, or symbolic. The education establishment did them few favors. They didn't have to read Dostoevsky, they had to read critiques and deconstruction of Dostoevsky.

I'm not sure it's always good to grow up surrounded by stability, immersed in affluence, and having had it drummed into you that you are entitled to be a member of the next leadership class. To have this background in the modern era is to come from a ghetto, the luckiest ghetto in the world, a golden ghetto beyond whose walls it can be hard to see. There's much to be said for suffering, for being on the outside or the bottom, for having to have fought yourself up and through. It can leave you grounded. It can give you real knowledge not only of the world and of other men but of yourself. In some ways it can leave you less cynical. (Not everything comes down to money.) And in some ways it leaves you just cynical enough.

Journalistically, I was lucky enough to work at CBS News when it was still shaped by the influence of the Murrow boys. They knew and taught that "everyone is entitled to his own opinions"--and they had them--"but not his own facts." And I miss the rough old boys and girls of the front page, who'd greet FDR with "Snappy suit, Mr. President," who'd bribe the guard to tell them what the prisoner said on the way to the chair, and who were not rich and important but performed an extremely important social function.

They found out who, what, where, when, why. And they would have looked at the half-baked, overcooked junior Hemingway of Scott Thomas Beauchamp and said, "That sounds like a buncha hooey."



In the cause of equal rights, feminists have had much to complain about. But one striking piece of inequality has been conveniently overlooked: lifespan. In this area, women have the upper hand. All round the world, they live longer than men. Why they should do so is not immediately obvious. But the same is true in many other species. From lions to antelope and from sea lions to deer, males, for some reason, simply can't go the distance.

One theory is that males must compete for female attention. That means evolution is busy selecting for antlers, aggression and alloy wheels in males, at the expense of longevity. Females are not subject to such pressures. If this theory is correct, the effect will be especially noticeable in those species where males compete for the attention of lots of females. Conversely, it will be reduced or absent where they do not.

To test that idea, Tim Clutton-Brock of Cambridge University and Kavita Isvaran of the Indian Institute of Science in Bengalooru decided to compare monogamous and polygynous species (in the latter, a male monopolises a number of females). They wanted to find out whether polygynous males had lower survival rates and aged faster than those of monogamous species. To do so, they collected the relevant data for 35 species of long-lived birds and mammals.

As they report this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the pattern was much as they expected. In 16 of the 19 polygynous species in their sample, males of all ages were much more likely to die during any given period than were females. Furthermore, the older they got, the bigger the mortality gap became. In other words, they aged faster. Males from monogamous species did not show these patterns.

The point about polygyny, according to Dr Clutton-Brock, is that if one male has exclusive access to, say, ten females, another nine males will be waiting to topple the harem master as soon as he shows the first sign of weakness. The intense competitive pressure means that individuals who succeed put all their efforts into one or two breeding seasons.

That obviously takes its toll directly. But a more subtle effect may also be at work. Most students of ageing agree that an animal's maximum lifespan is set by how long it can reasonably expect to escape predation, disease, accident and damaging aggression by others of its kind. If it will be killed quickly anyway, there is not much reason for evolution to divert scarce resources into keeping the machine in tip-top condition. Those resources should, instead, be devoted to reproduction. And the more threatening the outside world is, the shorter the maximum lifespan should be.

There is no reason why that logic should not work between the sexes as well as between species. And this is what Dr Clutton-Brock and Dr Isvaran seem to have found. The test is to identify a species that has made its environment so safe that most of its members die of old age, and see if the difference continues to exist. Fortunately, there is such a species: man.

Dr Clutton-Brock reckons that the sex difference in both human rates of ageing and in the usual age of death is an indicator that polygyny was the rule in humanity's evolutionary past-as it still is, in some places. That may not please some feminists, but it could be the price women have paid for outliving their menfolk.


Suburbs attacked because the middle-class hates plumbers in big houses

Comment by Michael Duffy, from Australia. When I lived in Sydney, the electrician I used for maintenance jobs on my properties lived in Vaucluse -- an elite suburb. But he was very clever at his job and a fast worker so he earned it fair and square

Sixty years ago this month something happened on Long Island near New York that was to help shape Australian cities. It deserves to be better known. The first homeowners moved into Levittown, a 17,000-residence housing estate built by Bill Levitt. Essentially, Levitt applied the principles of Henry Ford's production line to housing. In the process he brought prices down so much that suburbia became available to the working class. This did more than perhaps anything else to democratise the prosperity of the postwar economic boom.

Of course, Levitt couldn't put a house on a production line. So what he did was bring the production line to the house. He broke up the construction process into several dozen separate tasks. Then he broke up his workforce into teams, each specialising in just one task. Each team would do its job on one lot and then move on to the next house and do it again. (Levittown had just three house designs.)

When those around him refused to share his passion for cutting costs, he simply went around them. The unions didn't like his work practices so he hired non-union labour and paid them top dollar. When suppliers wouldn't give him satisfactory discounts for his bulk purchases he bought forests and timber mills and nail factories to supply himself. He reformed conveyancing practices to help low-income clients who had never been able to afford a lawyer before.

As a result of the innovations Levitt and other developers introduced, house prices tumbled. At a time when the average manufacturing worker was earning $US2400 a year, Levitt was selling a basic Cape Cod for $US7990. He went on to build other large housing estates, providing decent accommodation for hundreds of thousands of (white) working class Americans and inspiring developers in other countries, including Australia.

Another legacy of his success was the vitriolic criticism he attracted from intellectuals, people such as academics, writers, professionals, and government policy experts. The negative attitude to the outer suburbs that formed then has persisted to this day.

Lewis Mumford, the most respected writer on cities of his time, was particularly contemptuous. He said Levittown was socially "backward", inhabited by "people of the same class, the same incomes, the same age group, witnessing the same television performances, eating the same tasteless prefabricated foods, from the same freezers, conforming in every outward and inward respect to a common mould manufactured in the same central metropolis." This criticism of suburbia was to be repeated by thousands of intellectuals around the world from then to now. The grounds for the criticism have changed a bit over time, with environmentalism now providing the flavour, but the level of hostility has been pretty consistent.

A persisting feature of the criticisms of the intellectuals is that most have been mere assertions without basis in fact, and have been proved wrong once anybody bothered to test them. Eventually a sociologist named Herbert Gans went to live in one of Levitt's estates and published a book called The Levittowners in 1967, disproving just about all the assertions of Mumford and the other critics. He found there was a rich diversity of human beings living there - but his findings were largely ignored by the intellectuals, who continued to be unable to see beyond the buildings to the people living in them.

A similar blindness affects much criticism of so-called suburban sprawl today. For years it has been asserted by intellectuals that the outer suburbs, compared with areas closer to the city, are socially and environmentally inferior. There are now numerous studies disproving this (for example, the recent one showing lower density improves sociability, by Jan Brueckner and colleagues at the University of California), yet the intellectuals continue to assert it. Why so?

It comes down to self-interest. First, jobs: most of the criticism of sprawl is used to justify an alternative vision of the city where intellectuals of various kinds would play a strong role in planning and regulation. The media is happy to promote this view because a planned city, with all the reports and regulations and formalised disputes this entails, is much easier to report on than a city made of the spontaneous decisions of thousands of individuals.

Another reason for the persistent anger is middle-class status anxiety. Most intellectuals are members of the middle class, which defines itself in part by possession of an old inner-city pad or a nice house and garden in an inner-ring suburb. To see mere tradesmen in the 1980s acquiring bigger houses than those owned by many lawyers and academics sent a shiver through the middle class, and helped create an audience for absurd criticisms of prole housing, of the sort embodied in the term McMansion.

Does any of this matter? I suspect it does. I believe that over time the relentless criticism of the new suburbs helped create the intellectual and then the political environment in which governments were able to impose massive levies and taxes on new homes for the first time in history. This was one of the worst cases of intergenerational inequity this country has seen, and did much to produce the housing affordability crisis we face today. I suspect governments were able to get away with this only because the intellectuals had denigrated new suburbs to the point where they had almost no defenders among the ranks of the powerful and the influential.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Must support homosexuality to be a foster parent in Britain

A Christian couple who have taken in 28 children have been forced to give up being foster parents after they refused to promote homosexuality. Vincent Matherick, 65, and his 61-year-old wife Pauline were told by social services that they had to comply with legislation requiring them to treat homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality.

They said that officials had advised them that if children in their care expressed an interest in homosexuality, they would be expected to take them to gay support group meetings.The couple said that while they would neither condemn nor condone homosexuality, they could not actively promote it because of their religious beliefs. The couple, who faced being removed from the carers' register, decided to stop fostering early. As a result, their 11-year-old foster son is being moved to a children's unit.

Mr Matherick, a Christian minister and a primary school governor, said: "We have never discriminated against anybody but I cannot promote homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God. It's terrible that we've been forced into this corner. "They were saying that we had to be prepared to talk about sexuality with 11-year-olds, which I don't think is appropriate anyway, but not only that, to be prepared to explain how gay people date."

Mrs Matherick said: "We feel we are being discriminated against as Christians, and many others are finding themselves in our position." The Mathericks, who have three children of their own, are ministers at the non-conformist South Chard Christian Church, near their home in Chard, Somerset. They have cared for 28 children through Somerset County Council's social services department.

In February this year a social worker told the couple that the council was obliged to implement the Government's sexual orientation regulations. The rules, enacted this year, make it illegal for the suppliers of goods or services to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality.

David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, said: "It's absolutely horrendous that Christian men and women doing their bit for the community are being discriminated against because of their beliefs. I'm quite certain that social services would never dare to ask a member of any other established religion to agree to such a stance on homosexuality."

Valerie Riches, the founder president of Family and Youth Concern, said: "This is rather typical of the distorted view of equality that this Government seems to have."

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said that it was obliged to implement the regulations. "I am not suggesting that it is not very difficult for some people, but there is still an obligation under the law," he said. A spokesman for the council's children's and young people's directorate said it was about "equality issues" not homosexuality. "It is not about promoting homosexuality, it is about foster carers being aware of equality issues," he said, adding that the council did not expect to lose any more carers as a result of the rules.


Federal attack on property rights and local control

Woe betide you if you own property in one of the huge new "heritage" areas

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the "Celebrating America's Heritage Act" (H.R. 1483) which would send over $135 million of federal pork to special interest groups in select members' districts. The bill would create six new national heritage areas, including the controversial Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) heritage area, and increase federal funding for nine existing heritage areas by 50 percent. The bill passed by a vote of 291-122, along mostly party lines.

Although the bill passed, the measure faced more opposition than any heritage area bill in 13 years, a sign that the momentum is now against such boondoggles, says the National Center for Public Policy Research. "It is encouraging to see a growing number of congressmen reject this brand of pork barrel self-dealing," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The National Center for Public Policy Research. "However, far too many in Congress would still rather load the coffers of pet special interest groups at the expense of fiscal sanity, local rule and the rights of property owners."

National heritage areas are creations of Congress in which special interest groups, whose work at times has been funded through secret congressional earmarks, team up with the National Park Service to influence decisions over local land use previously made exclusively by elected local governments and private landowners.

"The House was asked to choose between the rights of constituents and the demands of lobbyists, and 291 members chose the lobbyists," said David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "Celebrating America's Heritage Act is a bill by lobbyists, for the benefit of lobbyists, with the taxpayer picking up the tab."

Donald Pongrace, a lobbyist with Akin Gump, wrote the legislative language for JTHG and serves on the board of the JTHG Partnership, according to the group's website. JTHG is one of the special interest groups that would receive $1 million per year under the initiative. Mr. Pongrace's wife, Olwen Pongrace, works at the JTHG Partnership as vice president. Earlier, the JTHG Partnership received a one million-dollar earmark through the 2005 transportation bill. At the time, the group was not incorporated. "A $1 million earmark buried among 6,372 others to an unincorporated group ought to raise a huge red flag," said David Ridenour. "This leaves open the possibility that taxpayer funds were used to lobby for more taxpayer funds."

H.R. 1483 passed despite the objections of Representatives Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Virgil Goode (VA), Robert Goodlatte (VA), Thelma Drake (VA), J. Randy Forbes (VA) and Joe Pitts (PA), who represent three of the four states that would be affected by The Journey Through Hallowed Ground heritage area designation. The heritage area would cut through Representative Barlett's and Representative Goode's districts, posing a direct threat to the rights of their constituents. It could present problems for constituents of Representatives Forbes, Pitts, and Goodlatte, as the members' districts are near the Route 15 corridor. House members were provided with a map number (P90/80,000), but not the map, outlining the heritage area's boundaries.

"Representatives Bartlett and Goode asked that their districts be removed from the heritage area, but their request was rejected in Committee," said Peyton Knight. "To refuse such a reasonable request is a rather stunning breach of House tradition."


Incompetent scholarship

A few excerpts below from a very thorough review by Walter Russell Mead of "The Israel Lobby" by John J. Mearsheimer, Stephan M. Walt

Summary: Sloppy execution means "The Israel Lobby," however commendable the intentions of its authors, will have the opposite of its desired effect: impeding new thinking about U.S. policy in the Middle East rather than advancing the debate

What was true for Clinton in 2006 was true overall. Pro-Israel PACs contributed slightly more than $3 million to House and Senate candidates in the 2006 election cycle -- less than one percent of total PAC spending in that cycle. There were a few individual races in which pro-Israel contributions played a significant role -- especially Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman's -- but in the overall context of U.S. campaign finance, "pro-Israel" money is a drop in the bucket. Moreover, in both 2000 and 2004, much more "pro-Israel" money went to Democratic candidates than went to Republican candidates, and Jewish voters overwhelmingly opposed George W. Bush. If Jewish voters overwhelmingly voted against Bush in both elections, and pro-Israel political groups gave much more money to Democrats than Republicans, how, exactly, did the lobby later control the Republican Congress it so signally opposed? And why should it bear particular blame for the policies of a president whose election it tried and failed to block?

None of this means that the role of pro-Israel groups in campaign finance should not be studied, or that relatively small amounts of money strategically placed and timed cannot have an impact. But Mearsheimer and Walt do not even list, much less take on, the various topics that an examination of the limited role "pro-Israel" money plays in U.S. politics would have to address. This is not serious scholarship.


As one might expect from international relations specialists, the book treats the geopolitics of the Middle East more professionally than U.S. domestic politics. Mearsheimer and Walt concede that U.S. and Israeli interests overlapped during the Cold War; for somewhat different reasons, both the United States and Israel wanted to keep the Soviets out of the region. They argue, however, that the strategic link weakened significantly after 1989. They find the close U.S.-Israeli relationship since then increasingly anomalous; the two countries' interests, they believe, are diverging even as U.S. policy remains firmly aligned with Jerusalem. Since this alignment, Mearsheimer and Walt argue, is not driven by common strategic interests or common moral values, it must be driven by the power of the Israel lobby.

Their geopolitical analysis of Israel's position is interesting and in many respects useful. But Mearsheimer and Walt seem not to see how it undercuts the importance of the Israel lobby. According to them, Israel is the dominant regional power, and its enormous advantages in weapons and technology are so great that it has relatively little need for U.S. support at this point. Both the military and the economic aid that the United States offers, Mearsheimer and Walt tell us, can be substantially reduced or even eliminated without undermining Israel's security. But they do not carry this point through to its logical conclusion: if U.S. aid is of relatively limited value to Israel, then threats to trim or withhold that aid will have relatively little impact on Israel's behavior. And if such aid is of relatively little importance in the regional power balance, then the efforts of the Israel lobby to extract more aid from the U.S. Congress are not really that important. In short, U.S. aid does not change the power balance, and withholding that aid would have little impact on Israel's negotiating position -- meaning that the Israel lobby, whatever its makeup or power over the U.S. political system, plays no significant role in determining the course of events in the Middle East.

Mearsheimer and Walt also significantly underestimate the importance of the U.S.-Israeli alliance to the United States. If Israel determined that U.S. foreign policy was shifting in a hostile direction, it would have the option of diversifying its great-power base of support. Given Israel's overwhelming military position in the Middle East, and its ability to provide a new partner with advanced U.S. weapons and intelligence information, China, Russia, and India might find an alliance with Israel well worth the cost in popularity points across the Arab world. Israel has changed partners before: it won the 1948-49 war with weapons from the Soviet bloc, partnered with France and the United Kingdom in 1956, and considered France (the source of Israel's nuclear technology) its most important ally in 1967. This potential shift is of major concern to the United States. One of the key U.S. objectives in the Middle East since World War II has been to prevent any other outside power from gaining a strategic foothold there. Alliances between other great powers and Israel -- the dominant military power in the world's most vital and crisis-ridden region -- could create major problems for U.S. foreign policy and significantly reduce the United States' ability to advance the Middle East peace process. Accordingly, maintaining the United States' relationship with Israel while managing its costs is the real challenge for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Mearsheimer and Walt are correct that returning Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table -- with proposals based on but in some ways going further than those that President Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak presented at Camp David in 2000 -- is probably the best way to go. But as Mearsheimer and Walt show, Washington cannot simply impose that agenda on Israel by making threats. Israel cannot be compelled to negotiate on U.S. terms; it must be persuaded. Mearsheimer and Walt's goal of a fresh start in the peace process requires carrots, not sticks. And if and when those carrots are put on the table, will Mearsheimer and Walt denounce the offer as yet another triumph for the Israel lobby, or will they see it as an instance of the United States promoting its interests by coordinating policy with an indispensable local power in one of the world's most explosive regions?


Domestic politics, geopolitics: next is cultural politics -- and especially the question of anti-Semitism. There have already been public charges of anti-Semitism, and more will come. Let me be unambiguously clear: those charges go too far. Mearsheimer and Walt state very clearly that they are not anti-Semites, and nothing in this book proves them wrong. That said, some of the criticism that they will receive on this score is the result of their own easily avoidable lapses in judgment and expression. A little more care on their part could have done wonders in keeping what was bound to be a very heated discussion focused more tightly on the merits of the case.

The authors do what anti-Semites have always done: they overstate the power of Jews. Although Mearsheimer and Walt make an effort to distinguish their work from anti-Semitic tracts, the picture they paint calls up some of the ugliest stereotypes in anti-Semitic discourse. The Zionist octopus they conjure -- stirring up the Iraq war, manipulating both U.S. political parties, shaping the media, punishing the courageous minority of professors and politicians who dare to tell the truth -- is depressingly familiar. Some readers will be so overpowered by this familiar bugbear that they will conclude that the authors are deliberately invoking it. In fact, Mearsheimer and Walt have come honestly to a mistaken understanding of the relationship between pro-Israel political activity and U.S. policy and strategic interests. It is no crime to be wrong, and being wrong about Jews does not necessarily make someone an anti-Semite. But rhetorical clumsiness and the occasional unfortunate phrase make their case harder to defend.

One problem is that Mearsheimer and Walt decontextualize the activity of Jews and their allies. Attempts by pro-Zionist students and pressure groups to challenge university decisions to grant tenure or otherwise reward professors deemed too pro-Arab are portrayed as yet another sign of the long reach and dangerous power of the octopus. In fact, these efforts are part of a much broader, and deeply deplorable, trend in American education, by which every ethnic, religious, and sexual group seeks to define the bounds of acceptable discourse. African Americans, Native Americans, feminists, lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons -- organizations purporting to represent these groups and many others have done their best to drive speakers, professors, and textbooks with the "wrong" views out of the academy. Zionists have actually come relatively late to this particular pander fest, and they are notable chiefly for their relatively weak performance in the perverse drive to block free speech on campus.

The authors also end up adopting a widely used tactic that has a special history in anti-Semitic literature. When anti-Semitic writers and politicians make vicious attacks, Jews are in a double bind: refrain from responding with outrage and the charge becomes accepted as a fact, express utter loathing at the charge and give anti-Semites the opportunity to pose as the victims of a slander campaign by venomous Jews. Nazi propagandists honed this into an effective weapon. Anyone who lived through or has immersed himself in the history of the golden age of European anti-Semitism is keenly aware of this tactic, and when one sees it employed in writing about Israel or the Israel lobby, one naturally assumes the worst: that the use of a tactic long popular among anti-Semites is a sign that a contemporary writer shares their deplorable worldview. The greatest living practitioner of this passive-aggressive form of provocation (and not just against Jews) is former President Jimmy Carter, whose recently published Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid set off a firestorm by implying a parallel between the Israel of today and apartheid South Africa. Mearsheimer and Walt wag their fingers at those awful Jews who "smeared" the meek and innocent Lamb of Georgia. How dare the lobby be provoked by Carter's provocation!

A mental disorder that invades minds, bodies and society

A review of "The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion" by Bernard Harrison

In this absorbing book, Harrison examines the New Antisemitism as it manifests today on the Left Liberal side of the political spectrum, with special reference to the BBC and publications like The New Statesman, The Guardian and The Independent. In the opening chapter, he defines the meaning, differentiating between "social" and "political" Antisemitism. The political variety is that in which Jewish people collectively are viewed as being involved in a conspiracy to promote political agendas objectionable to those on the Liberal Left. They are moreover seen as an obstacle to world peace because of the existence of the State of Israel.

In the second chapter he dissects the January 14, 2002 issue of The New Statesman with its infamous cover art and articles by Dennis Sewell and John Pilger, as well as the faux apology by editor Peter Wilby that followed reader complaints. The brilliance of this chapter lies in the understated and tactful way that Harrison exposes the rhetorical techniques employed to slander the Jewish people under the guise of criticizing Israeli actions. In the same cautious manner he reveals the lies, inconsistencies and contradictions of people like Robert Fisk and others.

Chapter 3: Jews Against Israel, demonstrates the absurdity of the notion that all Jews support Israel. Harrison calls it "diversity denial", which is nothing else but an aspect of racism that has always been a feature of political Antisemitism. He deals not only with the overwhelming evidence of Jewish sympathy with the plight of the Palestinian Arabs versus the lack of such by Arabs towards Jews, but also with those vicious Jewish enemies of the Jewish people and the state of Israel like Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, with reference to the work of Sartre, Alan Dershowitz and French author Daniel Lindenberg amongst others.

The next chapter explores the ways in which moral hyperbole and deliberate disinformation are used to demonize Israel. Quoting Thomas Friedman, he queries why this stance, which draws upon a phony humanitarian justification, is so universal amongst the liberal elites in the arts, academia and media. Criticism of Israel is not Antisemitism, but singling out Israel out of all proportion to the situation in the Middle East and the world at large definitely is. In the rest of this chapter he refutes many of the smears against Israel based on concepts like colonialism and the single state solution, the proponents of which ignore the massacres, acts of terror and statements of Arab leaders before and after 1948. Also discussed is the 1919 agreement between Emir Faisal and Chaim Weitzmann.

Next, Harrison looks at definitions of fascism. The phenomenon is not confined to the political Right, since the USSR was as fascist as the Third Reich. Nor is it absent in the Third World. The inability to distinguish between people and their leaders is a fallacy often made by patronising Western intellectuals. As for the accusation that Israel is a "racist, apartheid" state, the author argues that it is instead a nearly textbook example of a multicultural society. There are Black Israelis and Arab Jews and anyone can convert to Judaism. In Israel the holy places and right to worship of all religions are respected, which is not the case over vast areas of the planet.

One reason for the hysterical criticism is that the Left has abandoned economics and history for morality. Chapter 8 deals with the notion of guilt and shows how extravagant the Left has become in its moral condemnation and accusation. The grotesqueries of inter alia Orla Guerin of the BBC and Robert Fisk of The Independent are examined here. In this view, all Jewish Israelis are "guilty" while the Arab World bears no responsibility whatever for the plight of the Palestinian Arabs. See also Can We Trust the BBC? by Robin Aitken.

The concluding chapter attempts to find the reason for this state of affairs. Harrison believes that a longing for simple answers and instant moral conviction - the easy soundbite - is part of the problem. But he also shows that much of the nature of the criticism resembles the "old" Antisemitism - same assumptions, imagery and concepts are employed. The fad of Moral Relativism is not applied to both sides; it is used for justifying suicide/homicide bombings but never to the measures taken by Israel to defend itself. Some victims are more equal than others.

The Appendix is a bibliography of books and articles devoted to carefully documented examples of the New Antisemitism, including La Nouvelle Judeophobie by Pierre-Andre Taguieff, The Return of Anti-Semitism by Gabriel Schoenfeld, The New Anti-Semitism by Phyllis Chesler and Occidentalism by Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit. On the subject of Jews opposed to Israel, Jewish Divide Over Israel, edited by Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor and Those Who Forget the Past by Ron Rosenbaum and Cynthia Ozick are excellent books. UK government sources and the relevant website addresses of the two main political parties in the UK are also provided. The book concludes with an index.

Despite the disturbing subject matter, The Resurgence Of Anti-Semitism is a gripping read on account of its eloquence. As a polemic, it perhaps treads too softly, trying to persuade by reason. I agree with Andre Glucksmann that the concept of a contagion of hatred must be taken literally as a mental disorder that invades minds, bodies and society. Such an outbreak inoculates itself against those who oppose it and is immune to reason.

It is interesting to compare Harrison's approach with that of Nick Cohen in What's Left?. In my opinion, the most valuable book on Antisemitism, exploring all its shape-shifting manifestations down the ages and across the political-religious spectrum, is Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, as it engages with the neglected spiritual dimension of this mental disease. I recommend The Dawn: Political Teachings of the Book of Esther by Yoram Hazony, to learn how to deal with it.



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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.