Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Those anti-Trump protests in Britain were really, really weird

This was atomised middle-class angst dressed up as radicalism.

We have to talk about those anti-Trump protests. We have to talk about how unusual they were. We have to talk about what a disturbing spectacle they were.

Some people claim the protests were in keeping with a long tradition of radical gatherings in Britain, from Suffragettes confronting coppers, to the mass rallies against the Vietnam War, to marches in solidarity with striking miners. But this is wrong. The anti-Trump protests were something new, and something very strange. These weirdly playful carnivals against Trump, people’s dancing and prancing and tweeting of their emotional disgust with the American president, speak to a new kind of apolitical protest, in which the aim is not to change the world but to trend online; in which people come together not to make a political statement but to make a personal one.

To those of us who take politics seriously, virtually everything about these protests was annoying. There were the cloyingly twee placards, desperately designed to make a stir on Twitter. You know the kind: ‘Things are so bad even introverted people are protesting’; ‘I hate Trump so much I hope he gets stuck on the Central Line in rush hour’; ‘Not usually my thing, marching – but honestly’, etc, etc.

There was the childishness: kids were everywhere, holding anti-Trump, anti-Brexit, anti-border control placards as if they know the first thing about politics. I wonder if they are the sons and daughters of well-connected Remainers and Guardianistas, by any chance…? Indeed, the Guardian published a piece by an eight-year-old explaining why she attended the demo. Of course it did. ‘I want Donald Trump to know we don’t like what he’s doing’, the brat said, which is funny because that infantile take on global affairs summed up the entire demo. And when an eight-year-old can capture the spirit of your protest, you know you have left the realm of adult politics for the playpen of emotionalism.

There was the disorganisation. People wandering around aimlessly, no one leading chants, no one really knowing where they were going, or more importantly why. Some people complained about imminent climate collapse, others worried about the return of Nazism, some were concerned that Trump would embarrass the queen. You could listen to one protester say the world will shortly end courtesy of eco-criminal Donal Trump, and another saying, ‘Oh my god, his tiny hands will touch OUR queen!’.

Get some structure, people. Get some focus. Is the world ending, or not? What was your key complaint? What do you want politicians to do? Because if you can’t answer these questions then your demo just looks like a rowdy middle-class picnic at which a hundred thousand people are in essence letting off personal emotional steam. This was less a coherent mass statement, as protests have traditionally been, than it was a few thousand declarations of personal angst, or moral superiority. Witness the placards saying things like, ‘We care’ and ‘I care, do you?’. It was strangely atomised. It wasn’t a political force, it was a lonely crowd: disparate individuals joining together as much to say something about themselves as about the world.

And there was the identity politics, too. I’m sorry, but to refer to the collective of drag queens who were spreading their legs for the cameras and instructing Trump to keep his hands off their (non-existent) pussies as ‘The Resistance’ is an insult to actual resistance movements that stood up to actual fascism. The self-aggrandising title of ‘resistance’ felt utterly out of place on a demo where people weren’t saying anything politically serious, weren’t saying what they were for, and looked absolutely knackered by the time they got to Trafalgar Square – I’m not sure these folks would have lasted long in the Spanish Civil War or running messages to rebels in Vichy France.

What all of this points to is a new kind of protest. There is a new generation for whom protesting is largely indistinguishable from a music festival. It has the same vibe, the same style, and the same constituency: the non-working classes, who define themselves through culture rather than labour, and who see themselves as having more in common with global technocratic institutions like the EU than they do with some of the people who live in their own towns (but on the other side of the tracks). If this is radicalism – which it isn’t – then it is passive radicalism. It is an entirely contradictory phenomenon, where on the one hand protesters are telling us actual Nazism is making a comeback, but on the other hand they’re not going to do anything about it except chill out in Trafalgar Square and post to Instagram a photo of them and their friends holding a ‘FUCK TRUMP’ placard.

The contradictory nature is captured in their use, or rather misuse, of language. To the leaders of these protests, everything is white supremacy; every bad Trump policy is an echo of the Holocaust; everything they disagree with – whether it’s the Brexit vote or clampdowns on immigration – is proof of the imminent return of fascism. This is a deeply cynical exploitation of the crimes of history to try to give their lame, shallow, playful protests a sense of historic meaning and urgency. Recognising, at some level, that it is bizarre to try to cohere a new movement around an American president who, historically and politically speaking, is not that different to other American presidents, they have to look for a way to justify their disproportionate anti-Trump obsession and emotionalism – and they do it by rebranding Trump ‘Hitler’ and therefore themselves as ‘The Resistance’. Never mind cultural appropriation – this is historical appropriation, the marshalling of 20th-century horrors to inject some depth into their childish, festival-like expression of middle-class angst.

That is perhaps the most disturbing thing about the new apolitical protest. Such is the playfulness that even history becomes their plaything. Even the Holocaust becomes their plaything. They denude these crimes and events of meaning and turn them into memes to make themselves look good. That really is unforgivable. In the process of bigging up themselves, they demean the unique barbarism of the Holocaust and fascism’s other crimes.

And the aim of it all? To trend. To make a spark on Twitter or Instagram, which is increasingly the only public spheres the disconnected political and cultural sets have access to. The new left gets as excited about trending online as the old left did about helping to get a wage rise for hard-up workers. Contrast the shrillness and hyperbole and moral self-righteousness of this anti-Trump lobby with the principles and patience of Brexit voters. And yet the latter are continually insulted while the former are celebrated. We should turn this on its head. You want to see some genuine political radicalism in Britain today? Look to Brexit. That was a calm, grown-up demand for sweeping political change, whereas the posh rage against Trump is little more than a pining for the old status quo dressed up as a new edgy resistance.


The British Labour Party’s problem with Jews is getting worse

The message is clear now: we trust you less than other minorities.

The left treats Jews by a double standard. And this week we’ve seen that made crystal clear. Compare and contrast what happens to people who criticise Islam and people who criticise the Jewish State. A couple of days ago, grouchy New Atheist Richard Dawkins expressed dislike of the Islamic call to prayer. It sounds ‘aggressive’, he said. He said that, despite being godless, he prefers the sound of church bells. He was instantly denounced as bigoted. Even racist. Prominent Corbyn supporters branded him far right. He was a fascist simply for criticising an aspect of Islam.

At the same time, precisely as these denunciations of Dawkins were taking place, Labourites were arguing that public life must find a way to accommodate stinging, even ugly criticism of the Jewish State. As part of the debate about Labour’s new code against anti-Semitism, some insisted that ridicule of the Jewish State must be tolerated because it is illiberal to ‘curb’ legitimate discussion in relation to political and ideological matters.

Why is open and free discussion important on Jewish matters but not Islamic ones? Why is it always Islamophobic to criticise the call to prayer or ridicule the Koran or question the wisdom of women wearing the veil, but it is not anti-Semitic to obsess over the Jewish State and write it off as evil, racist and nasty? Or consider how leading Labourites, including Emily Thornberry, responded last week to Donald Trump’s mild criticisms of London mayor Sadiq Khan for his handling of terrorism. Trump’s comments were ‘racist and Islamophobic’, they said. The accusation of Islamophobia made instantly when a Muslim public figure or an Islamic belief is criticised, yet when the Jewish State is demonised, as it so often is by the new left, Labour says we have to stop and think before we say it is prejudiced speech — why?

It should be clear to everyone by now that the left treats so-called Islamophobia more seriously than anti-Semitism. Or to put it another way, modern leftists and liberals are incredibly sensitive when it comes to public discussion of Islam, overly sensitive, to the extent that they convince themselves that any questioning of Islam or its adherents is borderline fascistic. Yet they suddenly become more measured – an unusual trait for them – when it comes to discussion of the Jewish State. One ideological outlook is off-limits, the other is fair game.

This pertains to the controversy over Labour’s newly adopted code on anti-Semitism. Following the exposure of numerous instances in which Labour figures, including Jeremy Corbyn himself, were found to have expressed or shared or commented favourably on explicitly anti-Semitic imagery and ideas, Labour has been promising to stamp out anti-Semitic thinking in its ranks. From shrill memes accusing Israel of joyously spilling the blood of Palestinians to a mural showing hook-nosed old men overseeing the world’s economic affairs (the one Corbyn commented on favourably), the socialism of fools has been evident a great deal lately in what passes for radical circles today. And so Labour promised it would boost its rules against anti-Semitism. Yet in the process it has found itself coming in for even more flak.

Labour has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) definition of anti-Semitism. This is the definition of anti-Semitism that is used by various governments, including the UK government. It describes anti-Semitism as ‘a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews’. It gives various examples of speech that can be considered anti-Semitic, including when Israel is referred to as a Nazi entity or when Jews are said to be more loyal to Israel than to the nation they live in.

And Labour has landed itself in hot water because while it has adopted the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, it has changed or left out some of the IHRA’s 11 examples of what constitutes anti-Semitism. For example, Labour’s code says it is ‘wrong’ but not necessarily anti-Semitic to say Jews are more loyal to Israel. And it says comparing Israel to the Nazis is only racist if ‘anti-Semitic intent’ can be proven on the part of the person making the comparison.

Jon Lansman, a member of Labour’s national executive committee and key supporter of Corbyn, says Labour made these tweaks – others call them ‘fudges’ – in order to ‘protect freedom of speech’ on Israel. And here’s the thing: Lansman has a point. It is important that we maintain a distinction between hatred for Jews and criticism of Israel. That can be difficult these days, as anti-Zionism is very often a sly cover for old hatreds. Witness the way Israel is treated as a uniquely destabilising force in the world, as the puppeteer of the Western foreign-policy establishment, as a peculiarly bloodlusting state: anti-Semitic tropes refashioned as anti-imperialist critique. And yet we must defend the right of people to slam Israel without their automatically being written off as racist.

But there remains a question for Lansman and for others in the Corbyn camp: why is it suddenly important to know the true ‘intent’ of the speaker and to defend his or her freedom of speech when it comes to Jews or the Jewish State, where that isn’t important when it comes to Islamophobia, transphobia, misogyny?

We should be sceptical when Labour talks about freedom of speech, because this is a party that does not believe in freedom of speech. At all. This can be seen in everything from Corbyn’s threats against the tabloid press, to the threatened expulsion of female members who criticise transgender ideology, to, indeed, the instantaneous mauling of Dawkins by Corbynista Twitter. Yet on the Jewish State, and Zionism, and the question of whether Israel is evil, freedom of speech suddenly becomes important.

What Labourites are really talking about here is not freedom of speech, which, by its very definition, must apply to everyone, including people who want to ‘blaspheme’ against Islam or question trans thinking. No, they are talking about the freedom to hate Israel. The quite specific, seemingly specially protected freedom to say certain things about the Jewish State. And again that huge question, that question they cannot convincingly answer, looms into view: why the double standard? Why do you utter the words ‘freedom of speech’ almost exclusively in relation to hating Israel?

Many criticisms can be made of the IHRA code. It doesn’t account for the fact that anti-Semitism is increasingly expressed in an underhand way. And to those of us concerned about freedom of speech – all of the time, Mr Lansman, not only when someone wants to rage against Israel – there is indeed a concern that the IHRA code could be used to delegitimise normal criticism of Israel. And yet Labour’s bristling at the IHRA code doesn’t make sense from the perspective of Labour’s own views on prejudice and identity.

For example, Labour accepts the Macpherson definition of racism as any act perceived by the victim to be racist – except on anti-Semitism, where sometimes the intent of the speaker must override the perception of the victim. Labourites and other leftists continually blur the lines between legitimate criticism and prejudiced thinking, on everything from Islam to transgender – except on anti-Semitism, where suddenly rigid lines distinguishing illegitimate views (hatred of Jews) from legitimate views (hatred of Israel) are necessary. On anti-Semitism, it’s clear now: Labour applies a tougher burden of proof than it does to any other form of prejudice.

spiked is a longstanding critic of the Macpherson approach to prejudice, on the basis that it makes hatred such a subjective experience that almost any interaction can be branded ‘racist’, if the victim, or anyone else for that matter, feels it was racist. And spiked defends free speech for all, including Israel-haters. And including even anti-Semites (in that we don’t believe there should be state punishment of anti-Semitic thought – it is of course fine for parties and organisations to refuse to associate with anti-Semites). But Labour isn’t a critic of Macpherson. And it isn’t a defender of free speech. Except on Jewish prejudice.

Why? It is hard to avoid the conclusion that much of the left views accusations of anti-Semitism sceptically, and thus feels the need to devote more resources to questioning them than it would to any other form of prejudicial speech. The message seems clear: we are cynical about anti-Semitism; we don’t always believe it; we think it is sometimes weaponised to shut down our radical ideas; we believe Jews less than we believe Muslims, trans people, black people. This is the double standard in action. Jews are treated differently to everyone else. Jews are trusted less. If only there were a name for such behaviour.


Bathroom Wars Reach Critical Mass

Just how unpopular is the transgender movement? Even Massachusetts isn’t buying it! Two years after the legislature opened up the state’s bathrooms and showers to both sexes, even Bay State voters are drawing the line. The fight has been an eye-opener for Democrats, who are scrambling to protect their agenda from an embarrassing loss in one of the bluest states in the union. Turns out, you don’t have to be a conservative to understand how dangerous gender politics can be!

No one — including Gov. Charlie Baker (R) — saw the opposition coming. In 2016, party leaders were apparently reading their own press releases and watching MSNBC and thought the countermovement was a joke. Now, two years and more than 50,000 petitions later, no one is laughing — least of all Democrats.

Before Baker’s signature was even dry, Keep MA Safe went to work, sending an army of volunteers and church groups to neighborhoods all across the state. In 45 days of door-knocking, the coalition did what no one thought was possible: It not only hit the 32,000 threshold for signatures but it exceeded it by 17,000! Now, thanks to their hard work, a repeal is on the ballot this November, and LGBT activists are panicking that common sense might win.

Like other sexual orientation-gender identity laws (SOGI), this one affects everything from hotels, bars, and restaurants to gyms, libraries, and theaters. Even private schools would have to open their stalls to anyone on days when they’re hosting public events. Object, the state says, and go to jail. That goes for parents who don’t want men sharing private spaces with their little girls to students who are scared to change for gym with teenage boys in the room.

In an op-ed that desperately tries to downplay the risks of Massachusetts’s policy, state House Speaker Robert DeLeo makes the ridiculous claim that there’s been no fallout from laws like this one. “Opponents to this common-sense protection routinely and falsely claim that the law could be abused by criminals seeking to harm women and children in public restrooms,” he writes. “The facts simply don’t support this fiction.”

He apparently doesn’t shop at Target! What does DeLeo call this laundry list of police reports here and here? The threats associated with Massachusetts’s law aren’t something conservatives invented (unlike the Left’s latest definition of gender). There are very real patterns of voyeurism, harassment, and abuse that result from open-door policies like this one.

Still, DeLeo insists, “I’ve had the good fortune of meeting transgender residents of our Commonwealth one-on-one, and I recognize that they only want to go about living their lives just like all of us.” Where have we heard that before? Americans have been down this road of “coexistence” for the last two decades, and all they’ve gotten in exchange are attacks on their religious liberty, personal safety, parental authority, and financial livelihoods. If DeLeo and company were truly interested in letting people go about their lives, he’d let business owners and school boards make their own rules — not force them to adopt extremists’.

Fortunately, a lot of Massachusetts voters agree. According to polling, the repeal effort is dead even, which has come as a huge shock to leftist Democrats. Even DeLeo is acknowledging that liberals have zero margin for error, “We can take nothing for granted. Recent public polls show this as a 50/50 race.” Yvette Ollada, the campaign manager for Keep MA Safe, says the coalition is confident that “a strong education effort about the dangers of this law will ensure a victory for our side in November.”

But, she cautions, “though we have a very good chance of winning, it’s all reliant on a well-funded campaign. We need resources to get our message out to voters… Once voters learn that a man can just say he is a woman; in order to access bathrooms, dressing rooms and locker rooms; it only makes sense to vote ‘NO’ to protect women, children and vulnerable minorities. The other side may have the mainstream media and a lot of money on their side, but if we focus our resources strategically, we will defeat them on Election Day.”

She’s right about the money. This week, the far Left announced a million-dollar ad buy for a massive push this fall. Of course, that over-the-top spending wouldn’t be necessary if its policy was as popular as LGBT activists say it is! For conservatives, meanwhile, there’s a very real opportunity here to send a message to the nation that transgender politics are out of step with even the most liberal Americans! As Massachusetts Family Institute’s Andrew Beckwith says, we can’t underestimate the importance of this moment.

This is an important fight for the Commonwealth and the pro-family movement, since Massachusetts could be the first state to attempt to repeal a law like this at the statewide level. We are ground zero! We need help, though, from faithful people across this country, because the other side is well funded and well organized. If we all come together we can and will defeat this horrible law.


African gangs: It’s not racist to name it for what it is

Ayaan Hirsi Ali comments on African gang violence in Melbourne, Australia

How should we think about recent incidents of violence and anti-­social behaviour by first and second-generation immigrants? Or should we just not think about them at all, for fear of thinking something politically incorrect?

Last Friday Victoria police announced they were investigating the attack and robbery of a 27-year-old man by a group of young people “perceived to be of African appearance” while he paid for a parking ticket in Melbourne’s central business district.

Earlier this month a group of young people, described by their victim as “African”, were reported to have bashed a 73-year-old man living opposite a house in Hawthorn they had rented for an all-night party.

We heard the same story in April when a group of young people — again of “African appearance”, according to police — rented a North Melbourne property online for a short-term stay using a stolen credit card and false identity. They partied hard, trashed the house and, on their way out, were reported to have stomped on police cars and thrown garbage bins at police.

In December, homes in Werribee and Altona as well as a community centre at Tarneit, in western Melbourne were trashed, and police acknowledged an ongoing problem with “a small cohort of African youth”.

This pattern of behaviour is not an aberration. It is a feature of failed integration policies in liberal societies the world over. Illustrative of the problem is the reluctance of police, government and the media to name and shame the community groups responsible.

Integration is a perennially difficult policy question. It’s something I have been researching since I settled in The Netherlands in the early 2000s. Since that time, no matter the reality on the ground, tender-hearted multiculturalists have insisted that immigrants import only positive cultural ideas when they arrive. Liberal democratic societies are expected to turn a blind eye to any problematic cultural behaviour they bring with them, especially if the immigrants have brown skin.

Of course, many South Sudanese immigrants and refugees have settled successfully and adapted to their new lives here. And all-night parties, property damage and assaults are carried out by hooligans of all ethnicities. My concern is only with those immigrants who have adjustment problems. We are living in denial if we do not attempt to identify those values that some bring with them that may have been necessary for survival in their countries of origin but lead to conflict and stunt their opportunities here.

One of those is the glaring difference in attitudes towards violence between Westerners and war-torn communities such as South Sudan. As a migrant from that troubled region of East Africa I was accustomed to the use of viol­ence as a way of life in a society up-ended by civil war. In the communities where I grew up in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, children were taught that might was right and conflicts were resolved by physical force. Hitting a child or wife was how misbehaviour was corrected; it was not seen as a crime. Children were encouraged to fight out peer squabbles and affronts to the clan. If a child was bullied at school, the parents or siblings didn’t complain to the teacher but mobilised relatives to beat up the bully after class.

In communities such as ours, the police were not viewed as a disciplined service maintaining public order. Interactions with police were always bad news. They only showed up to extort, beat or haul people off to prison, not to resolve conflicts at the neighbourhood level. In Australia and other developed countries, by contrast, the state has the monopoly on viol­ence. Citizens are not permitted to exert physical force over their families or anyone else. When I explained this conceptual difference towards the use of violence to my parliamentary colleagues in The Netherlands 15 years ago, one MP remarked that it sounded medieval. It surprised me to hear Victoria police commander Russell Barrett say the Australian Sudanese community was “just as shocked as the broader community in relation to the incidents we’ve seen recently”. He may be shocked but, if they’re being honest, the Sudanese must be reminded of home.

As set out in this newspaper in May, Victorian Crime Statistics Agency data shows Sudanese immigrants are six times likelier to be arrested than those born in Australia. A disproportionately high incidence of violent crime among immigrant populations is not a uniquely Melburnian phenomenon. It is noticeable in many Western regions that have welcomed and then cocooned new immigrants.

Victoria police are taking great pains not to make any connection between culture and violence among South Sudanese youth in Melbourne. A police spokesman stated in May that “the problem is not tied to any particular cultural community, but rather it is young people more broadly who tend to be involved” and that the force has a “zero-tolerance policy towards racial profiling”. Yet they have established an African-Australian Community Taskforce to consult community members about preventing these crimes. This special “African” infrastructure conveys the message that Sudanese immigrants and their children need their own style of policing.

In a twisted way, this approach is truly racist. It is an example of the “poverty of low expectations”, which puts political correctness over cultural realities.

Media reporting on the rising incidence of crime among the Sudanese immigrant community has been portrayed by some commentators as racially motivated discrimination. Politically correct apologists have been quick to point the finger at socio-economic disadvantage and institutional racism. One South Sudanese community spokesman suggested that property owners using Airbnb were partly to blame for the increase in crimes committed by his community’s young people.

Most are concerned that revealing the ethnicity of the culprits could cause a backlash against the South Sudanese community. The Victorian bureaucracy is singing from the same hymn book. Equal Opportunity and Human Rights commissioner Kristen Hilton said: “The majority of Victorians who champion multiculturalism should not have to put up with journalists and politicians undermining their communities and workplaces with racially divisive rhetoric.”

Placing this type of taboo on the cultural factors associated with crime is also a feature of the debates in Sweden, the US, Germany, Austria and Britain, all of which are grappling with the same issue. Authorities and media commentators in Europe also worry that pointing out ethnic or cultural roots of crime will spark backlash and ignite race wars. The Asian “grooming” gangs in the north of England and the mass groping of women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2016 are two examples of stories the mainstream media was reluctant to report.

More HERE 


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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