Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Austrian integration expert calls for burqa ban on public sector, Muslims offended

Heinz Fassmann, an Austrian expert who is consulting the government on integration, has called for a ban on the burqa to be enforced throughout the country’s public sector. Speaking to the newspaper ‘Die Presse’, Fassmann bravely said, “When asked whether teachers in public schools should be allowed to wear a headscarf, I would clearly say: No”.

Fassmann went on to say that “you run the risk of importing certain religious conflicts into the civil service” if the burqa continued to be legal. It should be emphasised that the burqa facilitates violence and terrorism due to its ability to provide the wearer with a form of disguise. Even ISIS banned the burka because it allowed a female assassin to kill two of its soldiers.

He also said that it should be permissible for teachers to wear crosses or other symbols associated with Christianity, despite promoting the ban on the burqa. And rightly so, as Christianity defines Austrian heritage and should be prioritised by the government in order to ensure the continued preservation of this heritage. Christian values are of immense importance to the Western world because of the latter’s inextricable connection with the former. Other religions are simply new entrants to Austria, thus justifying the special position afforded to Christianity.

However, Austria’s Islamic community has aired its opposition to this proposal for obvious reasons. Spokesperson for the Islamic organisation IGGiO, Carla Amina Baghjati, unable to comprehend that “something so anti-integrative comes from an integration expert”. Did she not expect an Austrian integration expert to recommend banning a dress that would pose a danger to the public sector?

A responsible migrant would expect and embrace a certain degree of assimilation when moving to a different country. Calling a burqa ban an act of discrimination, as IGGiO did, is completely irresponsible as it ignores the association between the burqa and terrorism. Opposing the fact that Christian symbols would be allowed while the burqa ban is in place is even more irresponsible, and downright disrespectful, as it shows that Islamic migrants do not acknowledge or respect the culture and heritage endemic to Austria. They would not sacrifice their own religion in favour of migrants in the Middle East, so why get offended at the Austrian government prioritising its own religion in comparison to those of migrants?

This is not the first attempt for the burqa to be banned in Austria. The country’s Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, attempted to enforce this ban late last year but had no success due to interference from left-wing parties.

France already bans the burqa along with all other religious symbols from being worn by public servants. This may seem commendable, but the fact that its ultimately flawed is evident in Christian symbols also being subject to the ban. France constitutes the other extreme within this debate: banning Christian symbols alongside those of Islam in the name of equality. A Western country should not ban Christian symbols because, as mentioned earlier, its culture is inextricably linked to the religion. Banning Christian symbols in the name of equality is also regressive, and is a grave act of disrespect to one’s own heritage.

While Fassmann’s words are of immense service to society, it has to be noted that he also denied that it was the state’s role to promote any religion. This is something not all conservatives may agree with. While preserving secularism is useful, it has to be emphasised that the state should benchmark its policies with religious beliefs that define its country’s heritage. However, government should not cave in to the pleas by Muslims to keep the burqa legal. National security and preventing terrorism are more important than catering to the feelings of migrants.


Social psychologist Roy Baumeister challenges bias

Gay marriage. Student harassment. Racial vilification. There’s an endless list of social issues dominating Australia’s culture wars, with ferocious lobby groups working hard to close down views that challenge the trendy orthodoxy. Well, there’s an eminent newcomer to town who loves getting up the nose of those trying to shut down proper debate.

American psychologist Roy Baumeister is known for ruffling feathers. One of the most highly cited psychology researchers in the world, Baumeister has recently moved from Florida State University to take up a professorship at the University of Queensland. The gender warriors should be on notice because Baumeister has a long history of using research evidence to take on their arguments.

He didn’t start out in this territory. Baumeister first made his mark exploding myths about self-esteem. He was touted in a profile describing his work as the “man who destroyed American’s ego” for proving high self-esteem is not a panacea for society’s ills. Baumeister was originally a believer in the self-esteem movement and began his studies assuming, like most people, that it was a good thing to boost kids’ self-esteem. To his surprise, that’s not what the research actually showed.

He ended up leading a team reviewing the literature for the American Psychological Society. “The first computer search on research on self-esteem came up with 15,000 papers. We had manuscripts stacked waist high,” he recalls, speaking from Brisbane during a recent trip.

This was in the 1980s when everyone was assuming if you boosted self-esteem you would also boost kids’ school performance, but that’s not how it turned out. “When they tracked people over time, the grades came first and then the self-esteem. High self-esteem was the result of good grades, not a cause.” Contrary to popular assumptions, boosting self-esteem also didn’t make people more likable, nor help their relationships. It didn’t prevent children from smoking or taking drugs, nor did it reduce violence.

That wasn’t what many people wanted to hear. “It was a shock to a lot of people,” reports Baumeister — a result he clearly rather enjoys. “I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian,” he explains, mentioning a time when he was just starting high school and noticed his mother, a teacher, giving a big sigh as she ploughed through a pile of exam papers she was marking. When he quizzed her about her reaction she replied it was so boring because most papers make exactly the same arguments.

“I remember thinking that if I could just answer the question differently, teachers would be more interested,” he says.

So he got into the habit of trying to approach things in a different way, looking for answers that were not what people would expect. “Both my successes and my failures have resulted from this strategy,” he says with a chuckle.

Much of Baumeister’s scholarly work is actually uncontentious. He’s a leading researcher on the difference between living a happy life and a meaningful life, and the role of conscious thought. He has also shown willpower is like a muscle — we can fatigue it if we overuse it, but we can also strengthen it through time and practice. Baumeister has authored more than 500 publications and been cited more than 100,000 times in research literature.

Yet some of his biggest successes have come from challenging current thinking in areas where the prevailing view is actually nonsensical. Like gender differences in sex drive. Even since the 1970s when there was much excitement about research showing women’s capacity for multiple orgasms there’s been a strong feminist push arguing women’s sex drives are generally as strong as those of men. The psychology literature is replete with articles by women arguing this case — yet out in the real world everyone knows that’s not true. Baumeister suggests we only need to think about the prevalence of jokes about men wanting sex and women knocking them back. He mentions the old chestnut from comedian Steve Martin: “You know that look women get when they want sex? Me neither.”

Well, Baumeister was the first to seriously investigate the truth of the matter, embarking in a series of studies, along with some female colleagues. One of these, Kate Catanese, started off totally convinced by the feminist rhetoric that there are no gender differences in sex drive, but as the evidence piled up ultimately she realised that was wrong.

The researchers examined more than 150 studies and concluded there was overwhelming evidence that men have more frequent sexual desires than women. The findings: men think about sex more often, desire more partners, masturbate more, want sex sooner, are less able or willing to live without sexual gratification, initiate more and refuse less sex, expend more resources and make more sacrifices for sex, desire and enjoy a broader variety of sexual practices, and have fewer complains about low sex drive.

“It’s pretty damn conclusive,” says a recent article in Psychology Today. Yet Baumeister still reports regular encounters with female academics, including some on his recent trip to Australia, claiming it just ain’t so.

Baumeister ended up as one of the world’s leading scholars in gender issues in sex drive, particularly famous for his notion of “erotic plasticity” — the idea that women have a more variable sex drive than men that is far more responsive to surrounding circumstances, while men have a more fixed, biologically determined drive that is relatively insensitive to context.

Baumeister illustrates his research findings with a quip from the movie When Harry Met Sally: “Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place.”

Common sense, you might say, but sadly academic psychology often does lose its way, captured by the latest ideology and deviating far from such self-evident truths.

Baumeister remains optimistic. “A nice thing about science is that one can assume the truth will win out in the end,” he says.

“To be sure, that requires freedom of thought, freedom of inquiry and freedom of speech. On politically charged topics there are strong and influential minorities who actively work against those freedoms.”

Gender, sexuality, and race are key areas in which there is limited openness to new ideas and new facts, suggests Baumeister. He resents what he sees as left-wing bias in social psychology: “White prejudice is studied frequently while inter-minority racism is comparatively ignored. If you have a finding that says the conservative viewpoint did better, no one wants to publish it.”

One topic that is hardly likely to win brownie points in the current social climate is research suggesting that men are better than women in anything whatsoever. That is precisely what attracted Baumeister — like a moth to the flame. He explains: “I’m not a gender researcher but I do follow research findings and started to notice a pattern. If you pay attention to what is covered in the mass media (or in the scientific journals) about gender differences, some will say there are no differences. Plenty say that women are better than men in this or that way. But it’s very rare to hear a story saying that men are better than women at anything at all.”

He concluded that most people who write about gender are “too intimidated by the feminist establishment to conduct an open-minded consideration of the relative advantages and disadvantages of both genders. The basic feminist dogma is that women are equal to or better than men at everything, and that all women’s problems and failures must be blamed on men.”

Take the common assumption that women are more social than men. Psychologists often make this claim but Baumeister points out the evidence is actually weak and applies mainly to one-to-one close relationships. He says if you define “social” in terms of large groups or networks, it is men who are more social as shown in team sports, military groups, even children’s playing styles.

“It was men’s ability to co-operate with casual acquaintances and strangers to work towards common goals that led to men creating wealth, knowledge and power — which led to the gender inequality that our society is struggling to overcome,” concludes Baumeister, who is happy to label himself a feminist.

Men’s unique social skills were a key theme when Baumeister found himself addressing the American Psychological Association in San Francisco on the topic “Is there anything good about men?”

This led to a book of the same name looking at how culture exploits men. In it he argues differences in gender roles are a trade-off. A few lucky men are at the top of society and enjoy the culture’s best rewards. Others, less fortunate, have their lives chewed up by it. One mistake of many modern feminists, he writes, is that they “look only at the top of society and draw conclusions about society as a whole. Yes, there are mostly men at the top. But if you look at the bottom, really at the bottom, you’ll find mostly men there, too.” His examples: The homeless; the imprisoned; or people who do dangerous jobs (92 per cent of deaths at work are male).

It is refreshing to find such a serious scholar who doesn’t steer clear of controversy. It will be interesting to see whether Baumeister’s gravitas can lend some balance to the distorted public discussion of so many issues, particularly around gender, in his newly adopted country.


Political Correctness an Important Tool for Terrorists

The man who interrogated noted terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad explained how political correctness in Western nation’s is an important strategic tool used by radical Islamic terrorists to sow hatred and confusion.

For example, political correctness allowed a lone wolf Muslim terrorist to roam free in Germany before the horrifying attack in Berlin:

    “[It] was political correctness and their unwillingness to get this person out of their country who had no business being there because he didn’t have the right paperwork to prove who he was,” said Dr. James Mitchell, referring to Anis Amri.

Radical Islamic terrorists consider political correctness just another extension of the flaws in western civilization:

    Mitchell said that he and Mohammed, commonly known as KSM, had discussed the damaging potential of smaller, “lone-wolf”-style attacks more than a decade ago. Mitchell noted that Mohammed had been particularly struck by the terror caused by the 2002 D.C. sniper attacks.

    “For him, what surprised him was how much paralysis it caused given how few deaths were involved, few from his perspective,” Mitchell told host Sandra Smith. “And what he said to me was our civil liberties and our openness and our willingness to be responsive to other peoples’ cultures … were weaknesses and flaws that his God, Allah, had put into the American culture so that we could be defeated.”

The blueprint for imposing Shariah Law on Western states is pretty clear according to KSM through Mitchell:

    “He said that like-minded jihadi brothers would immigrate to Western democracies and to the United States, they would wrap themselves in our civil liberties for protection,” Mitchell said, “they would support themselves in our welfare systems while they spread their jihadi message, and then, when the time was right, they would rise up and attack.”


Why Does Everyone Seem to Be against Free Speech?

Free speech is one of the most settled principles of law and public policy, or so you might think. We recoil at censorships of the past. We acknowledge the freedom to speak as an essential human right. We are taught the legend and lore of the struggle for it in all our years in school.

And all of this is fine … until it is actually exercised, as it is moment by moment today, thanks to the mass distribution of communication technology. We are finally getting what we always wanted – the universal right and opportunity to reach the universe of humanity in an instant with thoughts of our own choosing.

And it turns out everyone hates it.


The Left says the Right is lying with fake news. The Right says the Left is lying with fake news. Mainstream commentators on all sides are annoyed that extremists have crashed their once-stable ideological culture, while the speech rebels say that the mainstream has never been truthful.

The whole battle is growing increasingly tense. The Center-Left is shaken to the point of documenting every nutty thing you find on the Internet. Vox showed how fake news in 2016 “filtered into the mainstream again and again: at the end of the election, fake news on Facebook outperformed real news, and 17 of the 20 highest-performing fake news stories were anti-Clinton.”

The Populist Right is warming to the Trump plan for dealing with press he doesn’t like. "One of the things I'm going to do if I win,” said Trump, “I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” People at his rallies ate it up. And you can find hundreds of thousands of people on various pro-Deplorable groups on Reddit and Facebook who passionately agree with him.

The problem: the freedom to criticize the President has been an established feature of American law since the election of 1800 led to the repudiation of the Alien and Sedition Acts which made it a crime to criticize the top of the ticket. The laws criminalized anyone who would “write, print, utter, or publish … any false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the president. Voters wisely noted that the first amendment surely invalidates such laws.

Freedom or Control

Freedom creates conditions under which truth stands a chance to emerge from the clamor.We don’t do that anymore, based on a general conviction that freedom for all is better than the attempt to control. Why? Freedom creates conditions under which truth stands a chance to emerge from the clamor, while the attempt to control ends up politicizing what we are and are not permitted to hear. Yes, freedom does not guarantee any particular result, but it does give good results a fighting chance while reinforcing other important things like human rights.

These days, that’s not good enough for some people. The Obama/Clinton crowd continues to believe that bad information flowing around the public square is what accounts for an otherwise-perfectly executed campaign. On the other side of the fence, there is a growing fear bordering on paranoia that Twitter, Facebook, and other social venues are punishing politically incorrect thought while boosting regime-approved ideas.

What’s so striking about these debates is that censorship has never been less viable than it is today. Try to suppress access in one venue and it immediately pops up on another one. Make it clear that some ideas are not welcome here, and you inspire an invisible army of champions of that idea to build yet another venue. You can block, ban, and exclude through known technologies only to have the same pop up in another technology you didn’t know about.

And herein lies the brilliance of a decentralized and highly competitive system of information-sharing and distribution. Consider this: from the end of World War II through the Reagan presidency, there prevailed only three television networks. The government itself exercised the primary influence over the content. These networks began to think of themselves as public utilities, a ruling class, a protected elite, and they dispensed canons of the civic religion on a daily basis.

Monopoly Broken

All of that has blown up. The cartel crumbled in the late 1980s, creating an avalanche of speech that only grows in power. Now the Big Three combined take up only a small percentage of people’s attention relative to the millions of other possible venues. And speaking of millions, the Big Three has become hundreds of millions of people with instant live television cameras in their pockets which they can use to broadcast to the multitudes, with zero civic control on the content.

There is no shutting this system down.And it’s more epic even than that. The establishment media was delivered a stunning blow with the election results of 2016. Following 18 full months of dismissing and denouncing the eventual winner, while predicting the certainty of an outcome that did not happen, the public credibility of the old-line establishment news source has hit new lows.

And so, there is a turn to something new. Incredibly, the man elected to be President of the United States prefers Twitter, a free platform similarly available to everyone. And it’s free! We’ve come a very long way from a time when FDR’s fireside chats were the only option.

There is no shutting this system down, despite all the talk of curation, censorship, lawsuits, algorithmic fixes, and so on.

Does this mean fake news, hate, mania, immorality, and so on are going to continue to thrive unchecked? In a word, yes. Every manner of everything will continue to be accessible to everyone. We need to learn to revel in and celebrate finding videos, podcasts, Twitter accounts, and Instagrams featuring ideas you find disgusting, abhorrent, false, and dangerous. Their freedom to speak protects your freedom to speak.

Everyone participates in, but no one finally wins, the argument. It’s a never-ending process.

How can we tell truth from untruth in such a chaotic environment? There is no substitute for trusting the individual human mind to sort out what is true news or fake news, valuable information or valueless information, meritorious or useless communication. No authority can substitute for the activity, creativity, and adaptability of the human mind.

Welcome to freedom, friends. This is how it works. And it’s beautiful.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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