Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A woman on every fire engine ... the latest demand from the British PC brigade

Fire chiefs will have to put at least one woman on each fire engine to meet diversity guidelines. New targets say that at least 15 per cent of those in operational roles should be female. That means they will fill one of the five or six places for crew on each engine. Officials at the Local Government Association, which is pressing the quotas on fire authorities, said that an increased number of women firemen is necessary 'to meet the needs of local people'.

But critics warn that they are placing their targets above the need for fitness and strength. Susie Squire, of the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: 'Introducing this sort of quota to the fire service is a big mistake. If ever there was a job that should be awarded on merit and physical fitness, it is that of a firefighter. 'It is ludicrous that political correctness is being put above the ability to save lives.' She added: 'This quota system will not only cost taxpayers money by introducing additional and unnecessary administration, but could risk the safety of all of us in the long run.'

At present fewer than one in ten firemen are women even in the brigades with the highest proportion of females in operational jobs. Those with the least women employ proportions of around 3 per cent. In an attempt to address this, local councillors who are appointed to serve on the fire authorities will be asked to sign up to the 'diversity charter'. One of the pledges they are expected to make is to 'work to achieve recruitment targets of at least 15 per cent for women in operational roles'. They are also asked to work towards minority ethnic representation at the same level as that in the working age population of the area. At present just over 3 per cent of firemen are from ethnic minority groups.

Anthony Duggan, head of fire services at the Local Government Association, said: 'The fire service needs to be representative of the area it serves. It is important that the fire service attracts more women and ethnic minorities so that it can work more effectively in partnership with local authorities and other organisations to meet the needs of local people.' Mr Duggan called for a 'culture change' and said that asking authority members to sign the diversity charter 'will show that those who are making the strategic decisions are serious about getting a greater mix of people working in the service'.


Morally corrupt: Britain's bishops deplore Labour's scandalous rule

There is no denying the reality of what the Bishops describe

Leading Church of England bishops have accused the British Government of being "morally corrupt" and delivered a damning verdict on Labour's rule. Five of the church's most senior figures said the Government presided over a country suffering family breakdown, an unhealthy reliance on debt and a growing financial divide. The bishops of Durham, Winchester, Manchester, Carlisle and Hulme said government ministers had squandered their opportunity to transform society, introducing policies that exacerbated inequality and hardship. Labour had sacrificed principled politics and long-term solutions to win votes, they argued, describing the Government as tired and its policies as scandalous.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader, David Cameron, accused the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, of leading the country to the brink of bankruptcy, saying the "debt crisis", which he blamed solely on the Government, would serve as Mr Brown's political epitaph.

Although speaking independently in a series of newspaper interviews, the bishops' common criticisms reflect the deepening rift between the Government and the church on social and moral issues. Relations have become increasingly fractious following condemnation of Mr Brown's spending plans by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and a report accusing the Government of marginalising the church.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Tom Wright, said ministers had not done enough to help the poor. "When a big bank or car company goes bankrupt, it gets bailed out, but no one seems to be bailing out the ordinary people who are losing their jobs and seeing their savings diminished."


The state of nature is not a state of pacifism


Reveries about human perfection do not exist solely in the enthusiastic systems confected by Karl Marx, or in the REM sleep of Hugo Ch vez, or through the utopian certainties of millenarians. There has been a persistent belief through countless societies that life is better, much better, somewhere else. In some yet-unfound reality there is an expression of our best natures -- our loving, peaceful, lyrically fair human core.

Anthropologists have been at the center of this quest, its practitioners sailing off to find that elusive core of perfection everywhere else corrupted by civilization. In the 1920s, Margaret Mead found it in Samoa, where the people, she said, enjoyed untroubled lives. Adolescents in particular were not bothered by the sexual hang-ups that plague our repressive society. Decades later an Australian researcher, Derek Freeman, retraced her work and successfully challenged its validity. Still, Mead's work and that of others reinforced the notion that our way of life was artificial, inauthentic, just plain wrong.

Enter primatology, which provided yet more questions about essential hominid nature -- and from which species we could, perhaps, derive guidance about our inner core. First studied in the wild were the baboons, which turned out to have harsh power politics and sexual inequity. Then Jane Goodall brought back heartwarming film of African chimps who were loving, loyal, fine mothers, with none of the militarism of the big bad baboons. But her subjects were well fed, and didn't need to scratch for a living in their traditional way. Later it became clear that chimps in fact formed hunting posses. They tore baby baboons they captured limb from limb, and seemed to enjoy it.

Where to look now for that perfect, pacifistic and egalitarian core? Franz de Waal, a talented and genial primatologist, observed the behavior of bonobos at Emory University's primate lab in the 1980s. These chimpanzees, he found, engaged in a dramatic amount of sexual activity both genital and oral, heterosexual and homosexual -- and when conflicts threatened to arise a bout of sex settled the score and life went on. Bonobos made love, not war. No hunting, killing, male dominance, or threats to the sunny paradise of a species so closely related to us. His research attracted enormous attention outside anthropology. Why not? How can this lifestyle not be attractive to those of us struggling on a committee, in a marriage, and seeking lubricious resolution?

Alas, Mr. de Waal also hadn't studied his species in the wild. And, with a disappointing shock in some quarters, for the past five years bonobos have been studied in their natural habitat in a national park in the Congo. There, along with colleagues, Gottfried Hohman of the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig has seen groups of bonobos engage in clearly willful and challenging hunts. Indeed, female bonobos took full part in the some 10 organized hunts which have been observed thus far. Another paradise lost.

Reveries about hidden human perfection centered in primate life have been sharply curtailed by what we've learned about the Malibu ape -- when it seeks its own food, doesn't live in an easy-hook-up dormitory, and may confront severe challenges in life. Bonobo, we hardly know you.


Modern Feminism's Matriarch Unmasked

This is an article from 1999 but what it relates still seems little known

Betty Friedan's 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, is often credited with launching the modern feminist movement in America. Claiming that too many women lived unfulfilling lives trapped as housewives, Friedan called for women to seek opportunities outside the home. One reader humorously wrote to Friedan, "To arms, sisters! You have nothing to lose but your vacuum cleaners." Her book eventually sold millions of copies and is currently required reading in hundreds of college courses worldwide. Friedan would later play a leading role in founding the National Organization for Women and other groups promoting "women's liberation" and feminism.

Central to the appeal of The Feminine Mystique was the idea that the author was writing from experience. American women purchased the book in droves because the author presented herself as just an average housewife. But as Smith College Professor Daniel Horowitz demonstrates in Betty Friedan and the Making of `The Feminine Mystique,' the self-image Friedan painted was far different from her real life's history.

If the home was a "comfortable concentration camp," as Friedan claimed in The Feminine Mystique, this is not something she knew from experience. In the years following her marriage, she worked full-time as a journalist for communist-controlled labor publications and later worked out of her home as a freelance writer. Living in a lavish mansion, she was freed from housework by the services of a full-time maid. Her husband earned a large salary and supported Friedan and the children. The parents of her children's playmates even ejected Friedan from their car pooling arrangement when they learned that Friedan sent their children to school in a taxi rather than driving them herself. The locked-up, middle-class homemaker that Friedan styled herself to be was an embroidered tale.

As far back as her student days at Smith College, the future feminist leader traveled in a world inhabited by those on the fringes of the Left. Guest lecturers, professors, required readings, and fellow students on the Northhampton, Massachusetts campus all pushed her in the direction of a near full acceptance of the Soviet line. While Friedan was at Smith, "people committed to liberal and left-wing positions dominated campus-wide public discussions," notes Horowitz with approval. "Smith hosted a steady stream of progressive speakers," the author recognizes, a group that included Soviet propagandists Corliss Lamont and Anna Louise Strong. Horowitz credits such an atmosphere with informing the ideology of Friedan, who for more than a decade served the cause of international Marxism in various capacities.

While pursuing a post-graduate degree at Berkeley, Friedan dated David Bohm, a Communist working under Oppenheimer on the atomic bomb project. Her social world included many Party members and her writings reflected a line directed from Moscow. Friedan's FBI file-labeled "a document of problematic reliability but nonetheless one that has to be reckoned with" by Horowitz-claims that she sought to formally join the Communist Party while at Berkeley. "In 1944 an informant told the FBI that [Friedan] went to a party office in the East Bay area, announced that she was already a member of the [Young Communist League], and sought entrance to the party itself, as well as a job writing for its paper, The People's World." Friedan was refused entry, and was reportedly told that she could serve the Soviet cause better from outside of the official party.

In 1943, Friedan began nine years of work as a journalist in the labor movement. The publications she wrote for-the Federated Press and the UE News-were ostensibly "union" publications, but in reality were Communist fronts. "In the 1940s," Horowitz notes, "according to historian Ronald Schatz, the UE was `the largest Communist-led institution of any kind in the United States.' In his authoritative book on the CIO, the historian Robert Zieger states that UE was `the only effectively led large pro-Soviet affiliate' of the CIO in the postwar years." Friedan even wrote articles for the Daily Worker, New Masses, and Jewish Life: A Progressive Monthly, a publication that served as an apologist for Stalin's anti-Semitism.

Horowitz claims that the fear of "McCarthyism" (a word that curiously graces the book's pages on more than 100 occasions) continues to prevent Friedan from telling the truth about her activities during the 1940s and `50s. But there is another possibility as to why she chooses to hide her years within the Communist orbit that the author fails to explore. Perhaps Friedan lied about the time she spent within the Red fold because she recognizes that she led a shameful life promoting an ideology that claimed millions of lives. Just as a former enthusiast for Nazism might likely attempt to shield his past views in pursuit of public approval, those who cheered on Mao, Stalin, and their countless minor league impersonators might likely attempt to hide their past in order to gain mainstream acceptance.

"Once Friedan became famous," Horowitz complains, "journalists, authors of standard reference works, and historians simply repeated the narrative of her life offered in The Feminine Mystique and elsewhere." Because those writing about Friedan so often sympathized with her views, they didn't bother to investigate her past and instead relied on her word. The author himself questioned whether it was appropriate to make public the inconvenient information he discovered. Horowitz claims that we live in "a world where Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan, and the Christian Coalition [are] powerful, if not consistently ascendant. So I worried that I might be revealing elements of Friedan's past that conservatives could use to discredit not only Friedan but the entire women's movement."

Unfortunately, Betty Friedan and the `Making of the Feminist Mystique' raises more questions than it answers. As she has done throughout her life, Friedan continues to spin a tale about her history that has little to do with reality. She denied the author permission to quote from her unpublished work and implied legal action if he did so. She refused requests for interviews. Her complete papers are hidden from the public at Radcliffe College, kept under lock and key until decades into the new century. Horowitz has recently come under attack as a tool of the Right, despite the fact that he clearly celebrates and embraces Friedan's radical history. His argument is not so much with her Marxist past as it is with her hiding it.

If Friedan is the mother of modern feminism, the movement she gave birth to has inherited many of her traits. Whether it's the myth of domestic violence hitting its annual peak on Super Bowl Sunday or the discredited statistic of tens of thousands of women dying each year from anorexia (its actually around 100), one need not look far for examples of feminists putting forward lies to further their cause. When two Georgetown students published a booklet that included a debunking of the feminist mantra of one in four college age women being raped, angry feminists responded by stating "if one woman is not raped by publishing false statistics, then that justifies it." Betty Friedan has been exposed as a fraud. Feminism deserves such a matriarch.



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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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