Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Top Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx subpoenaed over Jussie Smollett case

Blacks covering for blacks is unsurprising but this was gross

Chicago’s top prosecutor, Kim Foxx, has been subpoenaed to appear at a hearing over her handling of the Jussie Smollett case, according to a new report.

The Cook County state’s attorney was slapped with the subpoena by a retired judge who’s pushing for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into how Foxx dealt with the controversial case, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ex-appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien also subpoenaed Foxx’s top deputy Joseph Magats, and filed a document requesting that Smollett appear at the hearing, the report said.

Foxx came under fire when her office suddenly dropped 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against the “Empire” TV actor. Smollett, who is black and gay, was accused of staging a hate-crime attack on himself for personal gain and lying to cops about it.

O’Brien charged that Foxx’s handling of the case was “plagued with irregularity.

“Foxx’s conflict in this matter is beyond dispute,” O’Brien wrote, adding that Foxx should have sought appointment of a special prosecutor. “Instead, Foxx misled the public into believing that Smollett’s case was handled like any other prosecution and without influence.”

The former judge asked that Foxx and Magats produce all the original documents in the case to prove “that they have not been altered or destroyed and will not be destroyed throughout this case.”

Foxx’s office is also undergoing an independent inspector-general investigation on how she handled the case. Three members of her team, including her chief ethics officer and chief spokesman, have left the office.


Noise from the ‘constantly offended’ is breeding a kind of cultural fascism — and we all stand to lose

Bret Easton Ellis.

Somewhere in the past few years — and I can’t pinpoint exactly when — a vague yet almost overwhelming and irrational annoyance started tearing through me up to a dozen times a day. This annoyance was over things so seemingly minor, so out of my usual field of reference, that I was surprised by how I had to take a deep breath to dismantle this disgust and frustration that was all due to the foolishness of other people: adults, acquaintances and strangers on social media who offered up their rash opinions and judgments, their mindless preoccupations, always with an unwavering certitude that they were right. A toxic attitude seemed to drift off every post or comment or tweet, whether it was actually there or not.

This anger was new, something I’d never ­experienced before — and it was tied in with an anxiousness, an oppression I felt whenever I ventured online, a sense that I was going to somehow make a mistake instead of simply offering an opinion or making a joke or criticising something.

This idea would have been unthinkable 10 years earlier — that an opinion could become something wrong — but in an infuriated, polarised society people were blocked because of these opinions, and unfollowed because they were perceived in ways that might be inaccurate.

People began to instantly see the entire humanity of an individual in a cheeky, offensive tweet and were attacked and unfriended for backing the “wrong” candidate or having the “wrong” opinion. It was as if no one could differentiate between a ­living person and a string of words hastily typed out on a screen. The culture at large seemed to encourage discourse but social media had become a trap, and what it really wanted to do was shut down the individual.

What often activated my stress was that other people were always angry about everything, presenting themselves as enraged by opinions that I believed in or thought were simply innocuous. My pushback against all of this forced me to confront a degraded fantasy of myself — an actor, as someone I never thought existed — and this, in turn, became a constant reminder of my failings. And what was worse: this anger could become addictive to the point where I just gave up and sat there exhausted, mute with stress. But ultimately silence and submission were what the machine wanted.

As I was completing my novel American ­ Psycho in the fall of 1989, I showed some pages of it to the ­person I’d found myself having a relationship with at the time, a lawyer on Wall Street who was a few years older than me. Since we’d been together for a year, Jim naturally was curious about what I’d been working on, and because I hadn’t shown anyone a word from the book since I’d begun writing it two years earlier, I thought it would be OK if I let him take a look. In a few minor respects he had influenced the creation of Patrick Bateman, even if it primarily was a novel that expressed my personal pain when I was struggling and failing to accept adulthood in those lost yuppie years of the late 1980s.

After reading two chapters that had caught his attention, Jim turned to me and said, “You’re going to get into trouble.” I remember very clearly my flash of panic, and also the confusion swirling around me as I turned to him and asked, “What do you mean?” He’d just finished the section that leads into the first rape, and subsequent murder, of a woman, and simply said, “You’re going to get into trouble for that.” I instantly became annoyed and dismissive because this had never crossed my mind. But I also realised that if Jim — a level- headed Princeton grad who was always calm and low-key, never prone to drama — thought this might be true then it automatically carried a weight, particularly given how matter-of-factly he’d said it. I stared at him and asked, “Who am I going to get in trouble with?” And he said, “Everybody.” He read out loud a few lines about a rape that devolves quickly and viciously into murder — hard-core violence, definitely, but something I felt was justified within the context of who and what I was writing about.

Hearing Jim pull out those isolated lines, I supposed, could offend someone, though not within the narrative itself. This was an aesthetic intention of the portrait I was trying to paint — with those colours, with that brush — and I felt the explosions of violence were necessary to my vision. This was my dramatic instinct. There were no rules.

While Jim’s initial response didn’t have any impact on the book — I changed nothing on account of it — his reaction was always hovering somewhere in my mind, even after I turned in American Psycho to my publisher that December and it started moving through the usual production schedule. But as it was read and edited by my editor, then copy-edited, then handed over to the book designer, the rumblings began. People at Simon & Schuster were offended. Women were especially offended, but the mixture of violence, sexuality, and the sick-joke sensibility made the book seem shockingly misogynistic to some men as well. Just as Jim had predicted a year earlier, I was definitely in trouble.

The book was cancelled in November 1990, two months before the release date. Bound galleys had been distributed, and some early readers defended (whether they’d read it or not) the book I believed I’d written — a black farce with an unreliable narrator — but this didn’t matter: the noise from the offended was too loud, and I got kicked out of a corporation I hadn’t even known I’d belonged to. Ultimately, I was allowed to keep the advance, and another publisher (actually more prestigious) bought the rights and published the book as a trade paperback in the spring of 1991.

As the years passed by and the controversy ­surrounding American Psycho faded, it finally was read in the spirit in which it had been created — as satire. And a few of its biggest supporters were women, feminists, including Fay Weldon and the filmmaker Mary Harron, who went on to adapt the novel into a stylish horror-comedy starring Christian Bale that was released nine years later. My one takeaway from this drama was that I came to understand I wasn’t any good at recognising what would or wouldn’t tick people off, because art had never offended me; I understood all works of art were a product of human imagination, created like everything else by flawed and imperfect individuals. Whether it was de Sade’s brutality or Céline’s anti-Semitism or Mailer’s misogyny or Polanski’s taste for minors, I was always able to separate the art from its creator and examine and value it (or not) on aesthetic grounds.

Before the horrible blooming of “relatability” — the inclusion of everybody into the same mindset, the supposed safety of mass opinion, the ideology that proposes everybody should be on the same page, the better page — I remember emphatically not wanting what our culture now demanded. Rather than respect and niceness, inclusion and safety, likeability and decency, my goal was to be confronted by things. (The fact that I came from a “conventional” background — although in many ways it certainly wasn’t — might, I suppose, have encouraged my desire to see the worst.)

What did I want? To be challenged. To not live in the safety of my own little snow globe and be reassured by familiarity and surrounded by what made me comfortable and coddled me. To stand in other people’s shoes and see how they saw the world — especially if they were outsiders and monsters and freaks who would lead me as far away as possible from whatever my comfort zone supposedly was — because I sensed I was that outsider, that monster, that freak. I craved being shaken. I loved ambiguity. I wanted to change my mind, about one thing and another, virtually anything. I wanted to get upset and even be damaged by art. I wanted to get wiped out by the cruelty of someone’s vision of the world, whether it was Shakespeare or Scorsese, Joan Didion or Dennis Cooper.

And all of this had a profound effect. It gave me empathy. It helped me realise that another world existed beyond my own, with other viewpoints and backgrounds and proclivities, and I have no doubt that this aided me in becoming an adult. It moved me away from the narcissism of childhood and into the world’s mysteries — the unexplained, the taboo, the other — and drew me closer to a place of understanding and acceptance.

Lee Siegel, a writer and cultural critic, astutely predicted where we’d all end up in an essay defending Stanley Kubrick’s enigmatic dream-film Eyes Wide Shut, whose mysteries were much derided by literal-minded audiences and critics upon its release. What Siegel worried about almost 20 years ago could now be said to define our ­culture: the growing inability to accept any ­viewpoints that differ from the “morally superior” status quo. By coincidence I happened to be rereading this essay while listening to various ­college commencement speeches on YouTube in 2016, when it seemed more imperative than ever to advise students not to “Be Safe”, as so many of these speakers seemed to suggest, but rather to advise them to boldly “Be Unsafe” by refusing to live meekly within the bubble of the parenthesis.

The idea that if you can’t identify with something then it’s not worth watching or reading or listening to is now commonplace — and sometimes used as a weapon to attack others: for not being more “woke” by failing to make something relatable; for being racist when perhaps the offender is, for instance, just an uninterested or clueless white person; or for being a sexual predator instead of, occasionally, plainly a douche, a boor, a loser. “I can’t relate to it” had come to be shorthand for “I won’t watch it”, much as “I can’t identify with it” now means “I won’t read or listen to that”.

You hear this increasingly as a rallying cry, and not only from millennials, yet the idea behind it serves no progressive purpose; it marginalises not only artists but also, ultimately, everybody on the planet. In essence, it’s fascist. Here’s the dead end of social media: after you’ve created your own bubble that reflects only what you relate to or what you identify with, after you’ve blocked and unfollowed people whose opinions and worldview you judge and disagree with, after you’ve created your own little utopia based on your cherished values, then a kind of demented narcissism begins to warp this pretty picture. Not being able or willing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is the first step toward being not empathetic, and this is why so many progressive movements become as rigid and as authoritarian as the ­institutions they’re resisting.


The resurrection is the central mystery of the Christian faith

Erick Erickson debunks "modern" Christians
As I do every year, I wrote my Holy Week column about Easter. Major historians, even atheists, recognize that the execution of a man named Jesus around A.D. 33 is one of the most — if not the most — significant events in human history. Christians go a step further. They believe Jesus rose again from the dead. And therein lies the problem.

Last week, I noted that “there are many who call themselves Christians, but only those who actually believe in the physical resurrection of Christ are truly Christian.” It is not a controversial statement, or at least, I did not think it was. But a lot of people took it as one man’s opinion and thought the statement was open for debate.

Around the same time, Nicholas Kristof, an opinion writer at The New York Times, produced another in an ongoing series of interviews he conducts with theologians about Christianity. Kristof interviewed Serene Jones, the president of Union Theological Seminary. Jones calls herself a Christian but says belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus is not necessary to be a Christian.

In fact, Jones says: “For Christians for whom the physical resurrection becomes a sort of obsession, that seems to me to be a pretty wobbly faith. What if tomorrow someone found the body of Jesus still in the tomb? Would that then mean that Christianity was a lie? No, faith is stronger than that.”

The problem here is that Christianity would be a lie if Jesus had not been physically raised from the dead. It is in scripture. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.” Some progressive theologians get around this by claiming Paul corrupted Christianity, but the Apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 3:16, gives Paul’s epistles the same authority as other scripture, including the Old Testament.

The 21st century is overrun with people who think that unless they experience something themselves or have firsthand knowledge of a fact, there is no truth. This is deeply destructive. One need not go to space to know the Earth is a sphere. If you think the physical resurrection of Jesus being a necessary part of Christian faith is just one person’s opinion, it is time to stop thinking flat-Earthers are wrong.

With the same logic as those who reject the physical resurrection of Jesus but call themselves Christians, men who love women can call themselves lesbians and those who love to eat meat can call themselves vegetarians. After all, facts no longer matter and everything is opinion. Thinking a person can be a Christian while rejecting the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is akin to anti-vaccine advocates believing vaccines cause autism. Just because supposed experts make the claim does not make the claim credible.

We have two thousand years of Christianity. We have the words of Holy Scripture itself. We have the writings of the apostles. We have the writings of the men who studied under the apostles. We have the writings of the people those men taught. We have three major branches of Christianity in the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches, with denominations in the latter abounding. Every single one of them worships with an unbroken 2,000-year-old belief in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is the height of white Western arrogance to think one can be a Christian while rejecting settled, shared 2,000-year-old orthodoxy that has tied together a bunch of Christians who agree on almost nothing except that Jesus Christ physically rose from the grave. If one can be a Christian while rejecting the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, someone can also eat a steak tonight and rest well knowing he and his fellow vegetarians will probably live long lives so long as they do not fall off the edge of the Earth.


Fabric of democracy fraying under weight of the mob

GERARD HENDERSON writes from Australia

Isaac Butterfield was, until now, a little heard of stand-up comedian — until he included Holocaust material in his gig at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this month.

According to a report in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, a Jewish woman emailed Butterfield complaining about some of his material. He replied: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the oven.” The original saying referred to “the kitchen”.

Butterfield’s word usage in this instance is brutally telling, especially when knowingly directed at a Jewish woman. It is an established fact many of the Jews who were murdered by Nazi Germany with poison gas were cremated in ovens. So how did the MICF handle the situation? Well, a spokeswoman said performers were able to express their views, even opinions viewed as offensive. Apart from that, the organisation went into no-comment mode.

This is the same MICF that recently dropped its Barry Award, following comments by comedian Barry Humphries describing transgender as a fashion. Similar comments in recent years have been made by the likes of Julie Burchill and Germaine Greer. The former’s views were removed from the Guardian website.

So, according to the MICF, it is appropriate to strip the name of Australia’s most famous comedian from its key award for making a comment about trans­genderism. But it’s quite OK for Butterfeld to dismiss the views of a Jewish Australian with a tasteless reference to ovens.

In a recent discussion with a young comedian, I asked what remains of humour when so many take offence, often on behalf of somebody else. He replied that it’s still legitimate to make jokes about conservatives. It was a reminder that in the contemporary West it is the Left that is into censorship of thought — and its targets are invariably conservatives.

In his 2019 Keith Murdoch Oration, News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson spoke about “the seemingly powerful global companies that panic and prevaricate at the first mutterings of the … media mob”.

His specific reference was to Google’s decision to surrender when “a mob of Google employees” objected to their employer’s decision to appoint Kay Coles James to an advisory council on artificial intelligence.

The problem was that James is president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. She is also a 69-year-old black American who, as a girl, suffered discrimination when integrated into a white school in Richmond, Virginia.

Thomson commented: “There is no doubt that a mob mentality has taken hold in much of the West and among the most pronounced of the mobs are illiberal liberals, who are roaming the landscape in the seemingly endless, insatiable quest for indignation and umbrage.”

The reference was to the North American use of liberal, meaning Left or left-wing in Australian word usage. He added: “It is vituperation as virtue.”

The latest expression of mob outrage in Australia has been directed at Israel Folau, a rugby union player and committed Christian. His secular “sin” was to post an Instagram warning to drunks, homosexuals, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters that hell awaits them — unless they repent. This was a selection of “the works of the flesh” nominated in St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

Now it appears that Folau breached a warning from Rugby Australia not to make homophobic comments. But St Paul’s mes­sage to the Galatians was not confined to those termed gays today. Even if it were, a lifetime ban for a professional footballer is an enormous punishment for an expression of a religious belief.

The pile-on against Folau seems to begin with companies that advertise with Rugby Australia — most particularly Qantas, whose chief executive, Alan Joyce, apparently suffers no conscience pangs due to the fact the public company of which he is an employee has business dealings with some Muslim nations that are not exactly gay-friendly. And it goes all the way down to sneering secularists such as Nine newspapers’ Peter FitzSimons.

On ABC television’s Offsiders program on April 14, presenter Kelli Underwood and panellist Caroline Wilson bagged Folau and talked down fellow panellist John Harms, who, while not agreeing with the footballer’s comments, argued that his “religious position has to be respected”. Underwood accused Folau of attempting to “hide behind religion” to engage in “hate speech”. The inference is that it’s now hate speech for a Christian to quote St Paul and urge repentance.

What Thomson refers to as “a mob mentality” has even reached the doors of the Australian judicial system. In his judgment in the NSW District Court on December 6 last year in R v Philip Edward Wilson, judge Roy Ellis warned about the “potential for media pressure to impact judicial independence” in child sexual abuse cases.

Ellis’s concern was about “perceived pressure for a court to reach a conclusion which seems to be consistent with the direction of pubic opinion, rather than being consistent with the rule of law that requires a court to hand down individual justice in its decision making process”.

This was an important statement by an experienced judge — which appears to have been ignored by the NSW government. This trial did not involve a jury.

In his sentencing judgment in R v George Pell on March 13, Victorian County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd had this to say: “We have witnessed outside of this court and within our community, examples of a ‘witch-hunt’ or ‘lynch mob’ mentality in relation to Cardinal Pell. I utterly condemn such behaviour. That has nothing to do with justice in a civilised society.”

Again, this was a significant statement about the presence of a mob hostile to the defence and defence counsel by a senior Victorian judge — which appears to have been ignored by the Victorian government. This was a trial by jury.

Democracy has succeeded through the decades because its principal institutions — the executive, the legislature and the judicial system — prevailed against mob opinion.

Let’s hope this remains the case, otherwise intolerance and injustice will prevail.



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

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

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


Monday, April 29, 2019

Islamist barbarism thrives on West’s weak response

Here’s the most horrific thing from the barbaric assault on Christians and holiday-makers in Sri Lanka. In the Zion Evangelical Church in the eastern city of Batticaloa, Christian children were gathered for Sunday school. Given it was Easter Sunday, their teacher asked them a special question: “How many of you are willing to die for Christ?” According to a teacher who survived what was about to happen, all the children put their hands up.

The children then spilled out into the church grounds to play. Photos show them looking sunny and happy. Minutes later, an Islamist terrorist, who had failed to get into the church itself, walked among the group of children and blew himself up. Twelve children were killed. Many of their teachers were killed, too. Their crime was to be Christian.

Details such as this demand an urgent and serious assessment of the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism. Because this terrorism, even by the historical standards of terrorism, is peculiarly hateful, misanthropic and barbaric.

What drives someone to detonate a suicide belt while standing among children? It brings to mind the suicide bomber who in July 2005 drove his car into a group of children who were accepting sweets from a US soldier and blew himself up. Twenty-four children were killed. Or the female suicide bomber in Iraq in September 2006 who blew herself up among families that were queuing for kerosene.

Try to imagine what happened next. A terrifying glimpse was offered by a witness report in The Washington Post: “Two pre-teen girls embraced each other as they burned to death.”

It brings to mind the twin suicide bombings at All Saints Church in Peshawar in Pakistan in September 2013, when an Islamist extremist blew himself up among poverty-stricken Christian women and children who were queuing outside the church for a free meal, while his associate blew himself up inside the church where people ran to take cover. One hundred and twenty-seven people were killed.

And of course it brings to mind the Manchester Arena bombing of 2017, which faded strikingly fast from the forefront of British political consciousness, in which an Islamic State-inspired extremist blew himself up among parents and children leaving an Ariana Grande concert. The youngest victim was an eight-year-old girl. It’s likely many people in Britain don’t even know her name. It was Saffie Roussos. These are only a handful of the thousands of acts of barbarism carried out by Islamist extremists in recent years. From the US to Europe, from the Middle East to the subcontinent, tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered by Islamist extremists.

This terrorism seems to have utterly dispensed with the old rules of engagement. Its battleground is as likely to be a church or a school or a hospital or a queue of children as it is a piece of land claimed by an opposing military outfit. It follows no moral code whatsoever. Its defining feature is a glaring and terrifying absence of moral restraint. Anything is acceptable. Anyone can be killed. There is no code or rule or even basic human impulse that says to these groups: “Don’t do that. Not here. Not at a Sunday school.”

This means the new barbarism is very different to the violent groups that existed in the 1970s and 80s. These outfits, such as the Palestine Liberation Organisation or the Irish Republican Army, were usually, though not always, restrained by their political motives and ambitions, contained and controlled by their political beliefs.

Their claim to represent a political outlook and a political constituency meant they tended to behave within a basic moral framework. Their claim to be serious political actors meant they carefully tailored and targeted their militaristic acts. Their acts of violence were frequently bloody, of course, but they rarely did what Islamist terrorists do today: seek to kill as many people as possible, ideal­ly women and children, in a kind of perverse display of pornographic misanthropy, and with no higher aim than to devastate lives, communities and the human family more broadly.

For a few years now, some observers — not nearly enough — have tried to get to grips with the new barbarism, with this utterly unanchored, unrestrained, death-glorying violence. A 2005 New York Times piece titled “The mystery of the insurgency” commented on Iraqi insurgents’ massacre of civilians and how historically unusual it was. This “surge in the killing of civilians” reflects “how mysterious the long-term strategy remains”, it said.

The writer arrived at a horrifying conclusion: that maybe there was no long-term strategy; that maybe killing civilians was the strategy, was the overriding aim. Death for death’s sake.

“Counter-insurgency experts are baffled,” said the NYT piece, because these civilian-targeting groups in Iraq had “developed no alternative government or political wing and displayed no intention of amassing territory to govern”. Of course this changed later, with Islamic State, which did amass territory. But even this contained within it “the mystery of the insurgency”, given that the Islamic State territory was defined by its perverse celebration of extreme ­violence, which it recorded and distributed online. If anything, its territory looked less like a traditional state or guerilla nation than a staging post for the internationalisation of “the surge in the killing of civilians”. A piece of land from which spectacles of deaths could be organised.

What was really unfolding in Iraq back then was the new barbarism. The Western leftists who excused, and in some cases even celebrated, the “Iraqi insurgency” were utterly missing the point of what was happening — not an anti-imperialist rebellion, as they dreamed, but the spread of a new, unhinged breed of violent misanthropy. Of something we had not previously seen, certainly not in our lifetimes.

This is post-state, post-political, post-morality violence. It speaks to and is no doubt inflamed by the hollowing out of political and international norms in recent years. It feels genuinely apocalyptic. But there is another factor that, it seems increasingly likely, is contributing to the intensification of the new barbarism: the striking and self-defeating reluctance of many in the West to condemn this barbarism or even to speak openly about its origins or uniqueness.

The aftermath of the attacks in Sri Lanka captures Western liberal elites’ caginess about morally and politically confronting the new barbarism. There has been no talk of fascism and hatred and our moral responsibility to stand up to these things, as there was after the mosque massacres in Christchurch. There has been no emergence of a Christian solidarity movement, in contrast with the numerous, and correct, cries of solidarity made to Muslims after Christchurch.

Indeed, focus too much on Islamist terrorism these days and you risk being accused of Islamophobia. “Christians used to do this kind of thing,” they will say, inaccurately, to deflect attention from their own unwillingness to take a strong moral stance on Islamist extremist violence. Or they will point out that the US and Britain and other nations are still engaged in violent conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, even though they must know, somewhere inside their moral universe, that there is an immeasurable difference between America’s military campaigns in the Middle East (which are wrong) and the wilful slaughter of children queuing for sweets or teenage girls collecting petrol.

Whether it is their accusations of Islamophobia or their morally relativistic comparison of today’s new barbarism with the behaviour of Western armies, the liberal elites’ key aim seems to be to avoid having to take a strong position on this new, strange, spectacularly anti-human violence. And this moral cowardice has now crossed the line from being irritating and has become possibly dangerous in itself. Certainly it does nothing to challenge, far less try to stop, the rise of the new barbarism.

A weak and morally disoriented West that will not strongly condemn the nihilistic ideology behind the slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka, or the bombing of children in Manchester, or the gunning down of rock fans in Paris, is a West that cannot feign surprise when such violence continues. It is no longer enough to say “That’s awful” and then move on; we need a serious reckoning with the war on Christians, the rise of seventh-century barbarism, and the collapse of any semblance of moral restraint among the new terrorists.


Judge accused of helping an undocumented immigrant escape an ICE officer

A Massachusetts judge and a former court officer are accused of helping a twice-deported undocumented defendant elude immigration authorities by slipping out a rear courthouse door.

Newton District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph, 51, and former trial court officer Wesley MacGregor, 56, were indicted Thursday on obstruction of justice and other federal charges.
They face counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, obstruction of a federal proceeding, aiding and abetting, according to an indictment in US District Court in Boston. MacGregor was also charged with one count of perjury.

"This case is about the rule of law," US Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement. "We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law."

Joseph and MacGregor appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon. They were released without bond after pleading not guilty, CNN affiliate WCVB reported.

Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, "believes no one should obstruct federal law enforcement officials trying to do their jobs and supports the Supreme Judicial Court's decision to suspend Judge Joseph without pay," his office said in a statement. His administration has filed legislation to allow court and law enforcement officials to work with immigration authorities "to detain dangerous individuals."

"Everyone in the justice system -- not just judges, but law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defense counsel -- should be held to a higher standard," Lelling said. "The people of Massachusetts expect that, just like they expect judges to be fair, impartial and to follow the law themselves."

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the indictment was "a radical and politically motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts" and that the matter could have been handled by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Trial Court.

"It is a bedrock principle of our constitutional system that federal prosecutors should not recklessly interfere with the operation of state courts and their administration of justice," she said in a statement.

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, called the case "preposterous, ironic, and deeply damaging to the rule of law" and said it had "everything to do with enforcing the president's anti-immigrant agenda."

Federal prosecutors said the charges stemmed from an April 2, 2018, incident in which Richmond and MacGregor allegedly allowed an undocumented immigrant at a criminal court hearing to escape detention by an ICE officer.

Newton Police had arrested and charged the undocumented immigrant days earlier with being a fugitive from justice and drug possession, according to the indictment. Authorities later learned he had been deported from the US in 2003 and 2007 and was prohibited from re-entering the country until 2027. ICE issued an immigration detainer and warrant of removal.


Federal Judge's Bizarre Views of Justice for American ISIS Terrorist and the Bereaved Mother of His Victim

To forgive and forget - or to punish and stand vigilant. That is the question about how to treat Americans who fought for the territorially defeated ISIS as they reenter society, presumably with battlefield experience, atrocities, and religious zealotry for bloodletting baked in.

In Texas, judges of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals are grappling for an answer in a bizarre case in which a federal judge doled out what prosecutors say was a "substantively unreasonable" 18-month sentence for a returned ISIS recruiter and fighter who caused the battlefield death of at least one American. Prosecutors asked for at least 15 years.

Houston-based National Security Division prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas appealed the sentence after Reagan-appointed U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes scoffed at their arguments, expressed a paternal sympathy for the convicted terrorist, and dismissed input from the dead victim's bereaved mother (present in court) as "only her grief...sad but not cogent."

The 18-month sentence was given to Asher Abid Khan, a 24-year-old University of Houston engineering student, after he pleaded guilty to one count of material support to ISIS for trying to join them with a high school friend in 2014, who was killed in action.

Transcripts of the sentencing hearing show the judge readily accepting Khan's narrative that he quickly matured after he was tricked into returning in 2014, no longer believes the propaganda, and that he made one bad youthful mistake. Khan professed to having straightened out his life while free on bond that Judge Hughes granted Khan after his 2015 FBI arrest, despite opposition from prosecutors.

"Given the right breaks, most young people...if you can get their attention and give them some guidance, will quit doing that particular stupid thing," Judge Hughes scolded prosecutors after they pointed out that Khan continued to proselytize online for ISIS after he returned to Texas.

The judge dismissed all that.

"I don't think we need to lock you up for 15 years, and I have been pleased with your progress while you have been under my care. You would be surprised that some people don't take that as a hint."

Judge Hughes offered a parting word of advice to Khan at the sentencing hearing: "Work hard – fly right. Got it?"

"Yes, your honor," Khan replied.

The appellate court's decision holds potential national implications as more Americans return from ISIS; as many as 150 traveled overseas to join the group in Iraq and Syria while about 100 others were prosecuted after they were caught trying.

One obvious gamble inherent in the forgive and forget approach is addressed in studies of terrorist recidivism, including this one by The Soufan Group, which concludes that terrorism supporters often do not 'age out' of their motivations. Those caught leaving or returning might view an 18-month prison stint more as delayed gratification than as wait-just-a-minute deterrent.

U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas, argued as much in a brief filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month, that "The district court's error was not harmless. Indeed, the magnitude of its error was enormous."

The U.S. Attorney's office wants a new sentencing hearing.

"The sentence," the brief explained "... did not reflect the gravity of Khan's conduct and would not sufficiently deter others from taking the first step along the path to radicalization. The sentence also results in unwarranted disparity with sentences of similarly situated defendants who have received far more serious sentences."

A counter-brief by Khan and his attorney, David Adler, is expected sometime in the coming weeks.


In new S. Africa, some in 'Coloured' community nostalgic for apartheid

The 'Rainbow Nation' is a big lie!" complained Dalene Raiters, a South African mother from the "Coloured" community. "We are not black enough," added her sister who has also been unemployed for years.

"We are not part of this country. We were marginalised during the apartheid and even now," lamented Dalene, getting into her stride about the discrimination of which she insists she is a victim.

"Our people live like mushrooms. Four generations under the same roof," said Elizabeth Raiters, seated in the living room of the family home in the majority "Coloured" township of Eldorado Park, an outlying suburb of Johannesburg.

In total, nine people -- soon to be 10 with a baby due -- live in the property, which has a small bedroom and a hut in the yard.

Elizabeth applied for social housing to ease the squeeze -- but that was 17 years ago, and failed. She is convinced it is because of the colour of her skin.

Apartheid legally divided South Africans into groups of whites, blacks, Indians and "Coloured," a term meaning people deemed to be of mixed race.

The remnants of system were swept away a quarter-century ago, and today the notion of race remains as discredited as is segregation.

Yet the term "Coloured" is still widely used today -- and complaints of exclusion are common.

"We are constantly in the middle," complained Elizabeth, a woman with a small frame and hair held back with a headband.

The "Coloured" community itself also comprises several ethnic groups, notably including the San (bushmen) and Nama -- both indigenous to southern Africa.

They are often referred to as the country's "first nation," according to Keith Duarte, a representative of the community living in Eldorado Park.

In 1994, when the ruling African National Congress (ANC), spearhead of the anti-apartheid fight, was propelled to power, "we all felt that the ANC would represent us, would be inclusive," he said.

"It was the biggest mistake ever... We need to be treated equally," he insisted.

- 'The forgotten sheep' -

In the down-at-heel Eldorado Park township, where the traffic lights sometimes show amber and red at the same time, the small brick homes offer an illusion of comfort.

Behind each home there are courtyards which host cabins made of whatever was available that are home to entire families.

To enter the home of Chesney Van Wyk -- a hut with just three square metres (30 square feet) of floor space -- one does not have to push the door, but instead lift it with two hands. It has neither a handle nor a hinge.

Van Wyk and his partner, who share a small mattress, use a small peach tree behind the door as a bag rack. The shack, made with plastic-covered cardboard, floods whenever it rains.

Chesney makes ends meet thanks to the small jobs the neighbours give him.

But today he was focussed on another task.

Along with dozens of other nearby residents toting picks and shovels, Van Wyk cleared a vacant plot of land before marking out locations for their future homes with branches.

"We are claiming this land. We know it is illegal but every time we apply for a (social) house, we need to fill up some documents and they never get back to us," he said.

"For us it's like we are the forgotten sheep."

During apartheid, "we were not white enough, and now we are not black enough," he added.

- 'I prefer apartheid' -

"They say we are nothing. We are bastards. We are not white, nor black," said Violet Bouwers, a woman in her fifties who was also helping to clear land.

Local youths have limited job opportunities and many have turned to drugs.

In the township, a hit of highly-addictive crystal meth sells for 50 rands ($3.20).

The drug has ravaged many lives.

In April three mothers made criminal complaints against their addicted children for attempted murder and domestic violence, said Dereleen James of the Yellow Ribbon Foundation which fights drug abuse.

One mother recently killed her addicted son.

"She could not handle it anymore," said James, before commencing a lengthy pursuit in her car for a young addict whose mother requested he be detained.

Patients young and old insist they are in their dire situation because of their skin colour.

There are several drug rehabilitation centres in the township where many people see themselves as victims of an unfair system.

If one goes by official figures, this picture of marginalisation is somewhat different.

Household income among the "Coloured" community is twice as high as the black majority who make up 81 percent of the population.

Unemployment stands at 30.5 percent among the black labour force while it is 23 percent for the "Coloured" community.

"Coloured people have always been marginalised under colonial and apartheid rule," said Jamil Khan, a researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand's Centre for Diversity Studies in Johannesburg.

"Post-apartheid South Africa has not addressed that legacy substantially and aggressively enough."

The sense of injustice has persisted to the point that several community members lament the fall of apartheid under which "Coloured" people had neither the freedom to move around nor vote.

"The blacks have all the opportunities," complained pastor's wife Janice Jacobs, 49.

"We were much more comfortable during the apartheid. They would provide us a school pack with all the stationery. We had nurses in the schools. There was order and discipline. If you set a place alight, you would end up in jail.

"The apartheid government used to look after education, health, housing. (This) government does not look after us. I prefer apartheid."



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

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

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


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day: Revisiting Islam’s Greatest Slaughter of Christians

Today, April 24, marks the “Great Crime,” that is, the genocide of Christians—mostly Armenians but also Assyrians—that took place under the Islamic Ottoman Empire throughout World War I.  Then, the Turks liquidated approximately 1.5 million Armenians and 300,000 Assyrians.

Most objective American historians who have studied the question unequivocally agree that it was a deliberate, calculated genocide:

More than one million Armenians perished as the result of execution, starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical abuse.  A people who lived in eastern Turkey for nearly 3,000 years [more than double the amount of time the invading Islamic Turks had occupied Anatolia, now known as “Turkey”] lost its homeland and was profoundly decimated in the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century. 

At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000….  Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, eyewitness accounts, official archives, photographic evidence, the reports of diplomats, and the testimony of survivors, denial of the Armenian Genocide by successive regimes in Turkey has gone on from 1915 to the present.

Similarly, in 1920, U.S. Senate Resolution 359 heard testimony that included evidence of “[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death [which] have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages.”

In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (consistent with Islam’s rules of war).  Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross,” she wrote, “spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.”  Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs.

Whereas the genocide is largely acknowledged in the West, one of its primary if not fundamental causes is habitually overlooked: religion.  The genocide is usually articulated through a singularly secular paradigm, one that factors only things that are intelligible from a secular, Western point of view—such as identity and gender politics, nationalism, and territorial disputes. Such an approach does little more than project modern Western perspectives onto vastly different civilizations and eras.

War, of course, is another factor that clouds the true face of the genocide.  Because these atrocities mostly occurred during World War I, so the argument goes, they are ultimately a reflection of just that—war, in all its chaos and destruction, and nothing more.  But as Winston Churchill, who described the massacres as an “administrative holocaust,” correctly observed, “The opportunity [WWI] presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race.”  Even Adolf Hitler had pointed out that “Turkey is taking advantage of the war in order to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes, i.e., the indigenous Christians, without being thereby disturbed by foreign intervention.”

It’s worth noting that little has changed; in the context of war in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, the first to be targeted for genocide have been Christians and other minorities.

But even the most cited factor of the Armenian Genocide, “ethnic identity conflict,” while legitimate, must be understood in light of the fact that, historically, religion accounted more for a person’s identity than language or heritage.   This is daily demonstrated throughout the Islamic world today, where Muslim governments and Muslim mobs persecute Christian minorities who share the same race, ethnicity, language, and culture; minorities who are indistinguishable from the majority—except, of course, for being non-Muslims, or “infidels.”

As one Armenian studies professor asks, “If it [the Armenian Genocide] was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?”

Indeed, according to a 2017 book, Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide:

[The] policy of ethnic cleansing was stirred up by pan-Islamism and religious fanaticism.  Christians were considered infidels ( kafir).  The call to Jihad, decreed on 29 November 1914 and instigated and orchestrated for political ends, was part of the plan” to “combine and sweep over the lands of Christians and to exterminate them.”   As with the Armenians, eyewitness accounts tell of the sadistic eye-gouging of Assyrians and the gang rape of their children on church altars. According to key documents, all this was part of “an Ottoman plan to exterminate Turkey’s Christians.

To understand how the historic genocide of Armenians and Assyrians is representative of the modern-day plight of Christians under Islam, one need only read the following words written in 1918 by President Theodore Roosevelt; however, read “Armenian” as “Christian” and “Turkish” as  “Islamic,” as supplied in brackets:

the Armenian [Christian] massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey [the Islamic world] is to condone it… the failure to deal radically with the Turkish [Islamic] horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense.

Indeed, if we “fail to deal radically” with the “horror” currently being visited upon millions of Christians around the Islamic world—which in some areas reached genocidal proportions—we “condone it” and had better cease talking “mischievous nonsense” of a utopian world of peace and tolerance.

Put differently, silence is always the ally of those who would liquidate the “other.”  In 1915, Adolf Hitler rationalized his genocidal plans, which he implemented some three decades later, when he rhetorically asked: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

And who among today’s major politicians speaks—let alone does anything—about the ongoing annihilation of Christians by Muslims, most recently (but not singularly) seen in the Easter Sunday church bombings of Sri Lanka that left over 300 dead?


Born That Way? Research Says No

Transgenderism's "born the wrong way" claim is undercutting the homosexual lobby.

The argument that homosexuals were “born that way” — that their orientation should be viewed as an immutable characteristic rather than a chosen behavior — has long been the primary justification for the extension of nondiscrimination laws to include an individual’s “sexual orientation.” However, as the sexual revolution has continued its crusade to destroy all traditional norms, the rise of transgenderism and the concept of “gender fluidity” has ironically undercut the whole “born that way” argument.

A recently published analysis by Peter Sprigg, a Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, finds, “Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation Can Change.” Sprigg points out that:

The truth is, “sexual orientation” is a multi-faceted concept, involving a combination of attractions, behaviors, and personal identity. These four studies all demonstrate that significant change in each of the elements of sexual orientation is possible. The percentage changing from homosexuality to heterosexuality ranged from 13% to 53% (while the percentage changing from heterosexuality to homosexuality ranged only from 1% to 12%). In one survey of “same-sex attracted respondents,” up to 38% of men and 53% of women “changed to heterosexuality” in only a six-year period.

Confirmation of this has come from a surprising source. Scholar Lisa Diamond (who herself identifies as a lesbian) has long studied and written about the “sexual fluidity” of women. In a 2016 article with her colleague Clifford Rosky, she declared, “Given the consistency of these findings, it is not scientifically accurate to describe same-sex sexual orientation as a uniformly immutable trait.”

As many Christians and conservatives have long pointed out, there is a tremendous difference between state of being and choice. Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, those desiring to throw off the moral restraints of America’s historic Judeo-Christian culture sought out numerous ways in which to challenge those long-accepted norms. Homosexual behavior was long understood to be a matter of practice rather than an immutable human characteristic. As such it found very little acceptance within the broader culture. It wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that the broader culture began to acquiesce to the “born that way” mythology.

There was never any real biological basis for this change; rather as the emotive nonsense of “if it feels right, it is right” took hold within the American culture, the argument against homosexuality being a biologically innate characteristic lost out to the new “truth” of personal emotive experience. As a result, to question a person’s feelings became tantamount to questioning the legitimacy of their being.

But consistency has always been the Achilles heel of emotive-based reasoning, and nowhere has this been more evident than in the reaction by the Rainbow Mafia against those who have left the homosexual lifestyle. No matter their personal experience, the Rainbow Mafia loudly ridicules the possibility that these former practicing homosexuals are no longer homosexual. It is therefore interesting that the rise of transgenderism and its arguably more consistent commitment to the emotive ethic with its “born the wrong way” declaration has the Rainbow Mafia at loggerheads.

Suddenly, the primary justification for the recognition of homosexuality as a protected class based upon immutability is undercut. No longer can homosexuality be claimed as an immutable characteristic. Instead, it returns to what it always was: a choice.


Handshakes could be banned under new workplace rules to avoid expensive sexual harassment claims, an expert has said

Handshakes could be banned under new workplace rules to avoid expensive sexual harassment claims, a UK expert has said.

Kate Palmer, an associate director of advisory at human resources consultancy Peninsula, said employers may ban all forms of physical contact to avoid confusion about what kind of touch is appropriate.

Ms Palmer said the #MeToo movement had forced employers to think about implementing more “black and white” policies.

“Some employers may put a complete ban on physical contact,” she told Metro. “Whether that’s going too far or not is a question I would pose, because it’s contextual. Does shaking someone’s hand go too far? They may just say ‘no contact at all’ because there’s no grey area.”

She said a handshake is “probably safe” unless an employer bans it, then it is a rule that needs to be followed.

It comes as three out of four people want a complete ban on physical contact in the workplace, according to a recent survey of 2000 adults by Totaljobs.

Ms Palmer added putting a hand on someone’s back or giving them a hug when they are upset could be “too personal” and staff should be “mindful” of that kind of touch. She said the level of appropriate contact varies from person to person but also from industry to industry.

For example, patting someone on the back on a construction site may be more acceptable than if it was an office.

The associate director said employers should make it clear what their policies are.

She said added the workplace does extend outside the office — including leaving drinks or the Christmas party.

Ms Palmer said employers should remind staff to “be sensible, but don’t cross the line”.


Cousins, aged five and six, are tasked with navigating their way around London with no adults in daring TV experiment

Frankly, to any modern responsible parent, it sounds tantamount to child abuse.

Who in their right mind would bring a five-year-old boy — and one who has never even been to a big city — to London, put a map in his hand and wave him off?

Who would leave this child — able to distinguish his left from his right, but only just — outside the Imperial War Museum and tell him to find his own way to the London Eye, by bus?

His only companion will be his cousin, who is also five. Actually, it would be considered highly neglectful, were it to happen for real. London bus drivers are instructed to alert the authorities if they suspect a young child is travelling alone.

This situation would be a Code Red, in London Transport speak, and the police would be called.

That they didn’t in this case was because it was a meticulously planned social experiment, for an ITV show investigating how much freedom we give our children — and whether they could benefit from more.

In this particular case, seven children (three groups, aged from four to seven) were set the task of getting themselves across the busy capital unaided.

Planet Child, hosted by doctor twin brothers Chris and Xand Van Tulleken, contrasts the freedom given to children in other parts of the world with the rather wrapped-in-cotton-wool existence British children have.

Are we too protective? We are reminded that most British kids are so heavily supervised that they spend less time outdoors than prison inmates.

In the show, we find out how other cultures do it. We meet a six-year-old in Tokyo who routinely travels alone across the city to get to school.

In Namibia, we are introduced to a seven-year-old and his five-year-old brother who walk miles from the safety of their village, not an adult in sight. They may not have to negotiate traffic, but they do have to be alert to wild dogs and elephants.

Another world? Certainly, in the UK, our parenting style is much more hands-on.

‘I think we were interested in the fact that children get treated very differently around the world,’ admits Dr Xand. ‘We wanted to see if the assumptions we make about parenting in the UK could be challenged.’

Dr Chris adds: ‘It’s about kids and how they behave. We provoke them and put them in weird situations — and we’ve found it’s surprising how they respond.’

In Planet Child, children are asked to take part in a range of experiments, from climbing trees to going shopping, to assess their attitude to risk and their ability to cope without adult supervision.

The London experiment is the most radical. So how do the children get on?

Well little Kieran Robinson and his cousin Rita, who live on a farm in rural Yorkshire, almost fail at the first hurdle when they succumb to the lure of the play area in the Imperial War Museum Gardens.

At the point where the production crew think they should be boarding the allotted bus, the pair — oblivious to any idea of timetables — are having a whale of a time on the slides.

What happens when they do finally leave? Well, your heart is in your mouth watching the two little figures heading into the heaving city streets, and trying to find a particular bus stop.

They ask a lady at the bus stop for help. Clever? Or downright worrying, given our preoccupations with Stranger Danger?

Of course, the children were never in any actual danger during the filming. Their parents had been asked to allow them to take part with full assurances that they would never be entirely alone — although, crucially, the children were not told this.

The London bus they would be getting on was rigged with cameras which would follow their every move. Adult ‘minders’ would be there, at a distance, posing as passengers.

At the first sign the children were distressed, they would quickly intervene.

Nonetheless, it makes for tense viewing. Perhaps the most astonishing thing is that the adults never have to step in. The children really aren’t fazed by the task.

There are a few bumpy moments. They aren’t told when to get off the bus, and there are some panicked little faces as they see the London Eye come into view, then go out of sight again as the bus follows its route.

As a viewer, it’s excruciating. How can these kids possibly negotiate all this?

Without giving too much away, they do — much to their delight, and the adults’ astonishment. They just got on with it, admits Dr Xand. ‘Left to their own devices, they do what they are asked to do.’

What about their parents, who were not able to follow their children’s progress on camera and had to rely on updates from the film crew? Suffice to say, they were all a bag of nerves.

‘I spent a lot of the time thinking: “What have we done?”’ admits Laura Robinson, Kieran’s mum.

‘Having grown up on a farm, Kieran maybe has more freedom than most. He can go out and play in the fields. But although he’s very independent, he’s never been to anywhere bigger than Skipton, and even then I won’t let go of his hand.’

Waving him off in London was something else. ‘I was worried about the traffic. The crew kept us updated with how they were getting on — “They’ve got on the bus now”; “They are fine” — but our hearts were still in our mouths. When we saw their heads bobbing towards us at the London Eye, I was so relieved.’

Interestingly, while some of the parents involved were reduced to tears during the experiment, none of the children was.

There were other experiments that weren’t quite so epic, but fascinating nonetheless.

One takes place in the Roses’ garden. An assault course is set up for Darcee and Judah and their little brothers. Then random equipment is left near a big tree — and the parents are asked to let the children get on with it. Cameras record what happens next.

‘There was a ladder,’ says Becky. ‘I knew immediately that the older two would put it against the tree. Then Darcee started to climb.’

Never had the older twins attempted to climb this tree. ‘And if they had, I would have gone running out to say “stop”. This time, Darcee got halfway up before she said: “It’s not stable”, which was a relief. It meant she was aware of the danger.’

Darcee continued, cautiously, until she was high in the tree. No one fell that day. There were no trips to A&E. But there were children punching the air with how much they had achieved.

Since then the Roses, like the other families, say they have made a concerted effort to allow the children a freer rein. ‘We’ve been blown away about how much it’s made us rethink things,’ says Tim.

Can we all learn from this programme? Dr Chris admits he is now less of a ‘helicopter parent’ with his own toddler daughter. ‘Now, I don’t assist her coming down a short flight of stairs because if she falls down two steps, she’s less likely to fall off a building or off a wall when she is confronted by those [as she will better assess the risks].’

Bottom line, we are unlikely to kill our children by letting them climb a tree; but we might be putting them in danger by failing to let them learn how to climb.

‘If you look at the statistics of child fatalities, the vast amount of incidents are around things like car accidents,’ says Dr Chris. ‘They don’t generally die in playgrounds, falling off swings.

‘We underestimate children constantly. They are capable of far more than we think.’



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


Friday, April 26, 2019

This Supreme Court Case Threatens the Left’s View of Group Identity, Victimhood

Oral arguments heard at the Supreme Court Tuesday were ostensibly about whether the 2020 census could include a question about citizenship.

But don’t be fooled. The reason this case rocketed to the Supreme Court and has been so hotly contested is that the debate hinges, at bottom, on two starkly different visions of America.

In one vision, what matters is loyalty to and affiliation with a nation-state that is self-contained, independent, civic, and colorbind. In the other vision, priority is given to one’s membership in a subnational group that is based on subjective self-identity (like race or sexual orientation), and association with that group yields benefits and preferences in everything, from hiring to contracting, employment, housing, and even electoral redistricting.

The divide essentially comes down to a commitment to America as a nation vs. a commitment to one’s subgroup and the hierarchy of victimhood.

This is one of the great debates of our time—not just here, but around the world.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides—and an opinion is needed by summer if the Census Bureau is to meet its deadline of printing millions of forms—rest assured that this debate will not go away any time soon.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the nation-state seem to have been greatly exaggerated. Despite pressure from above—from sovereignty-draining, transnational institutions like the United Nations and the European Union—and from below, i.e., from identity groups based on race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, and anything else that can confer conceptual victimhood (and thus special rights) on an individual, the nation-state has shown remarkable resilience.

Defenders of the nation-state remind us that democracy, the rule of law, self-determination, liberty, and everything else Americans and like-minded people hold dear depend on territorially and culturally defined nation-states. Its opponents like to portray the nation-state as archaic, unnecessary, and a gateway to authoritarianism, if not worse.

The Trump administration has championed the sovereignist view, and in 2017 recognized the importance of citizenship by requesting that a question on citizenship be added to the 2020 census.

Progressive groups have left no stone unturned in their bid to frustrate the administration on this front. Notably, these same groups defend a panoply of other census questions that divide Americans by sex, ethnicity, and race.

These groups argue that the citizenship question would depress responses among certain marginalized groups, especially Hispanics. Yet the Census Bureau says it has no credible evidence that the question would affect the quality of the data.

Dozens of progressive organizations brought suit in New York, joined by 18 states and the District of Columbia. They won in district court in New York, thus the case Tuesday was Department of Commerce v. New York.

The hearing Tuesday did not in the least devote itself to these large questions of nationhood, sovereignty, and the like. Instead, there was a lot of technical and statistical back-and-forth between liberal justices and United States Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who represented the administration, and between the conservative justices and New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood; Dale Ho, the lawyer for the New York plaintiffs; and Douglas Letter, the lawyer who represented the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. All of these latter individuals argued against including the citizenship question.

It is difficult, as usual, to predict which way a court will go. Ho did his side no favors by admitting at one point that, yes, the Trump administration is right that citizenship data is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

At issue is the fact that the Voting Rights Act does indeed call, in some places, for drawing districts where at least 50 percent of the voting population are members of a racial or ethnic minority.

Ho, perhaps unwittingly, made the case that “if the minority group has relatively low citizenship rates, for example, as is the case with Hispanic populations in some circumstances, then you need citizenship data to make sure that you’re drawing a district in which minority voters are, in fact, a majority of the population.”

That data is now provided by the American Community Survey, a smaller census product that goes out to fewer households. But some states, ironically including some of those suing the Trump administration, have complained that that data is not reliable.

Justice Neil Gorsuch thus jumped on Ho’s argument and pointed out that “some of the states who are now respondents before us have in litigation, including in this court, argued that [American Community Survey] data should not be relied upon for purposes of citizenship or other purposes, that the census data is more accurate. What do we do about that? It seems to me like you kind of put the government in a bit of a catch 22.”

It is the unified left that is in a catch 22, however—and the Voting Rights Act, as it is currently interpreted, put it there. The left does not mind (it in fact loves) the racial gerrymandering that is aided by census questions on ethnicity, race, and so forth. But because what is actually needed is voters, the administration can now say it needs citizenship data, since only citizens are allowed to vote.

The left is terrified by this prospect. It now realizes that available citizenship data will allow jurisdictions to apportion and redistrict seats according to voter, or citizen population, not total population, as they are constitutionally entitled to do. That would, for example, prevent liberal districts from swelling their numbers by adding populations of non-voting noncitizens or even illegal immigrants.

This essentially means citizenship data on the American nation itself—not arbitrary subgroups—would determine the shape of the House of Representatives, and the number and composition of electoral votes at election time. Our elections would more accurately represent the America that really exists, not the faux America envisioned by intersectional activists.

To win this issue, not just in the Supreme Court, but in the all-important court of public opinion, those who believe in the nation-state must constantly make the case that its view of the nation is nonracial, but instead is truly inclusive and colorblind. We must show that the other vision leads to balkanization, conflict, and ultimately, national splintering.


The banishing of Kate Smith isn't 'sensitive' — it's ridiculous

by Jeff Jacoby

OUTSIDE THE WELLS FARGO ARENA in Philadelphia is a nondescript, grit-strewn concrete slab. It is all that remains after the Flyers hockey organization last weekend hauled away the statue of an exuberant Kate Smith that had stood there for 32 years. Gone too is the plaque that explained Smith's cherished place in Flyers history:

"Blessed with a voice and presence which led her to stardom on Broadway, radio, and television, Miss Smith came to symbolize joyous, homespun American patriotism. Kate Smith had a special relationship with the Flyers. . . . Her live performance of 'God Bless America' helped inspire the Flyers to become Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in 1974. This statue, honoring one of America's greatest patriots, is a gift from the Philadelphia Flyers to the people of our great country."

For decades, Smith's recording of "God Bless America" was embraced by Flyers fans as a harbinger of luck; the team went 101-31-5 in games when the song was played. The New York Yankees had a Kate Smith ritual as well: After 9/11, Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" was heard during every seventh inning at Yankee Stadium.

Both traditions screeched to a halt last week. The Yankees and the Flyers announced that they would no longer play the Smith soundtrack — and in the Flyers' case, would immediately remove her statue — because early in her career she had recorded two songs with cringe-inducing racial lyrics. By 21st-century standards, the songs — "That's Why Darkies Were Born" and "Pickaninny Heaven" — are undeniably grotesque. But there is no indication that Smith's recordings were motivated by racist hatred. In fact, "Darkies" was a biting satire of white supremacist bigotry, which explains why it was also recorded in 1931 by Paul Robeson, the formidable African American baritone whose father had been a slave.

Smith was one of the most popular American entertainers of her time. She recorded some 3,000 songs and sold 19 million records over her long career. During World War II, she traveled more than 500,000 miles to entertain the troops, and sold an astonishing $600 million in War Bonds to help finance the war effort. Her 1938 recording of "God Bless America" was so influential that both of the 1940 presidential candidates, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie, made it their official campaign songs. To this day, millions of Americans know Kate Smith for that iconic patriotic anthem. Until last week, almost no one remembered the two songs with the offending racial stereotypes.

The Flyers and the Yankees are private companies and free, if they wish, to treat Smith as a pariah after decades of celebrating her legacy. They shouldn't get away, however, with pretending to be doing something enlightened. A Yankees spokesman claimed Smith's "God Bless America" was being dropped because the team "take[s] social, racial, and cultural insensitivities very seriously" and is "erring on the side of sensitivity." But obliterating every reference to the memory of honorable men and women on the grounds that, by today's benchmark, they were imperfect isn't "sensitive." It's ridiculous — and chilling.

If Smith had been newly exposed as a lifelong bigot who despised African Americans and championed Jim Crow, the case for declaring her persona non grata would be strong. No one has suggested anything of the kind. On the contrary: In 1951, Smith invited Josephine Baker to appear on her popular TV program, the first time the controversial black entertainer was seen on American television.

There are times when it is appropriate to expunge the name of honorees from the public square. I strongly favor the removal of every memorial to the Confederacy, and of rechristening every school, military base, or highway named for the politicians and generals who went to war to perpetuate slavery and dismantle the United States. The Confederate cause was a hideous one, and nothing about it ever deserved public esteem.

But that's a far cry from retroactively dishonoring someone whose life was largely admirable, if imperfect. Even great people can have lamentable flaws, especially when viewed in retrospect. Rarely is it wise or fair to let the flaw nullify the greatness.

Before deciding that someone's name or image (or recording) be purged from a place of honor it has long occupied, I propose a two-part test: (1) Was the person honored for unworthy or indecent behavior? (2) Is the person known today primarily for unworthy or indecent behavior? If the answer to both is No, the honor or memorial should stay.

Kate Smith was a beloved singer who brought joy to millions, raised America's spirits in dark times, and materially aided the war against Nazi Germany and its allies. That is her legacy, not a couple of dubious, long-forgotten songs.


Mass.: Officials close ranks in defense of secret courts

Massachusetts’ “secret courts” will remain secret for the foreseeable future. So much for transparency in our justice system.

The show cause hearings — preliminary hearings held by clerk magistrates, who are not even necessarily lawyers — will remain largely behind closed doors in the wake of the latest report from a trial court working group. The report was released, not surprisingly, on the same day as the Mueller report. A cynic might conclude that the members of the committee — all current or former judges, clerk magistrates, or other court personnel — wanted to deliver their homage to the status quo on a day when it probably would be buried beneath an avalanche of breaking news.

The widespread use of these closed-door hearings was exposed in a recent Globe Spotlight report that found inconsistencies in how the policy of private hearings was implemented from one courthouse to another and a range of abuses, especially when it came to cases involving public officials.

But the working group, headed by retired District Court Judge Paul LoConto and Boston Municipal Court Judge Kenneth Fiandaca, recommended only that “the magistrate should consider opening the hearing to the public when the accused or complainant is a public official or public employee. However, the fact that the accused or complainant is a public official or public employee should not, by itself, be a basis to make a hearing or the records available to the public.”

And it added, “When determining whether the accusations are of legitimate public concern and the accused is a public official or employee, the magistrate should consider whether the accused’s conduct is relevant to the conduct of his or her office, misuse of authority, or are allegations of official wrongdoing.”

By that standard, a bothersome DUI or an assault on a spouse or girlfriend probably wouldn’t come close.

One of the few sensible recommendations: “The magistrate should consider whether there has been prior publication of the name of the accused or the conduct for which the accused has been charged.” This calls to mind the case of Kevin Spacey. The actor’s show cause hearing on sexual assault charges on Nantucket was duly recorded, and that recording made public.

As for recording those secret hearings on a routine basis — in the event there is a question about their content, propriety, or outcome — well, that apparently will hinge on the outcome of a suit brought by the Globe, to be heard by the Supreme Judicial Court next month. The report did note that show cause hearings held by a judge are “required to be electronically recorded,” but not hearings held by clerk magistrates.

The report also revealed that only about one-third of the 62 District Court divisions routinely record show cause hearings, and that doesn’t include Boston Municipal Court.

The working group found absolutely no need to change policy when it comes to clerk magistrates — who, remember, are not judges — holding hearings in felony cases.

The only good news — however slim — was that the group punted on a full review of standards for show cause hearings, suggesting “a new cross-departmental committee be formed.” A committee that isn’t already wedded to the status quo might be a good place to start.

Just because a system has operated for decades under the premise that such closed-door hearings are “for the protection and benefit of the accused” is no reason it must continue to do so. The system continues to cry out for more transparency, for greater regard for the public interest, and for the rights of victims.

Bills filed in the House and Senate this session would require such hearings generally be open, unless there’s a good reason to close them, and would mandate they be recorded. That’s certainly an option, given the unwillingness of the judicial branch to reform itself.


Persecution of Christians being taken to extremes

The barbaric and evil attack on Christians in Sri Lanka is yet a further illustration of what Christian activist Patrick Sookhdeo in The Death of Western Christianity describes as Christianophobia: “a state of fear and hatred against Christianity and Christians”.

Sookhdeo argues that we are living across the globe in an intolerant and oppressive “anti-Christian age” where those committed to the Bible suffer oppression and violence, and in extreme cases torture and death.

In China the communist government creates a climate of fear and intimidation where Christians are treated as second-class citizens and the Catholic Church is denied the freedom to act independently of government.

In Egypt the Christian Copts are also oppressed: in April 2017, on Palm Sunday, 45 worshippers were killed when two churches were bombed by Islamist terrorists. A year earlier in Pakistan, 75 Christians were killed and hundreds injured while celebrating Easter in an attack by Islamist militants.

And as explained in the just-released book The Thirty-Year Genocide by Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi, detailing the treatment of Christians in what is now Turkey, there is a long history in the Middle East of extreme and inhumane violence and cruelty.

During the period from 1894 to 1924, covering the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the establishment of the Turkish republic, Christians suffered under a state-mandated strategy of “premeditated mass killing, homicidal deportation, forced conversion, mass rape and brutal abduction”. Indeed, such is the barbaric treatment currently inflicted on Christians that Muslim commentator and author Mehdi Hasan argues online in The Intercept that commentators and politicians in the West should do more to acknow­ledge their brutal and merciless treatment.

After noting the widespread condemnation in response to the horrific attack on the mosques in Christchurch, Hasan writes: “I am a Muslim, and I consider myself to be on the left, but I’m embarrassed to admit that in both Muslim and left circles the issue of Christian persecution has been downplayed and even ignored for far too long.”

As to why there is an aversion in the West to admitting Christians are suffering and that more needs to be done to make public what is happening, the reasons are many and complex.

Italian academic Augusto Del Noce, in The Crisis of Modernity, argues the prevailing orthodoxy dominating the West is one of secular humanism inspired by neo-Marxism, critical theory and scientific rationalism. Since the end of World War I, Christianity as a moral and spiritual system based on the New ­Testament and the word of God has been supplanted by an ideology committed to creating a ­man-made utopia based on empiricism and the belief that political and economic factors deter­mine how societies are structured.

Such is the hostility that secular critics argue we are living in a post-Christian age where the belief system based on the New Testament that has nourished and underpinned Western civilisation for thousands of years is obsolete and irrelevant.

As detailed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, the dominant mode of thinking and relating to others and the world at large is characterised by relativism and subjectivism. Christianity, on the other hand, is based on the word of God and the conviction that there are ­absolutes.

In this postmodern world of critical theory the Bible is simply one text among many that has to be critiqued and deconstructed in terms of power relationships and how it imposes a Eurocentric, mis­ogynist and heteronormative view of the world — one guilty of privileging whiteness.

The subservience to multiculturalism and uncritically celebrating diversity and difference also help to explain why Christianity is not being given the recognition and attention it deserves.

For years schools and universities have taught students that there is nothing special or unique about Christianity and that all cultures and belief systems deserve the same recognition (with the exception of Western civilisation).


Best illustrated by the national curriculum, Christianity is absent or considered on the same footing as indigenous spirituality. Harmony Day and Sorry Day are on the same level as Christmas and Easter, and Dreamtime stories are given the same emphasis as Genesis.

Evidenced by those hundreds of academics who have signed open letters condemning universities for entertaining the possibility of hosting a Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, the aversion to Christianity is widespread in the academy.

The hostility and indifference to Christianity in Australia is not limited to schools and universities. Whether it’s the ABC’s The Drum and Q&A or The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald,most commentators are cultural-left and more concerned about identity politics and politically correct victimhood than the plight of Christians.



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

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

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


Thursday, April 25, 2019

Supreme Court to Weigh In: Who Has the Power to Rewrite the Law?

Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan has been ministering to grieving families for over 100 years.

But if government officials with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) get their way, they will punish this family-owned business.

Tom Rost owns Harris Funeral Homes. He and his employees strive to minister to families grieving the loss of a loved one. And they have done just that, serving their community with compassion. In 2011, Tom won the Preferred Funeral Directors International Parker Award for demonstrating exemplary service; and his family business, located in the Detroit area, was voted “best hometown funeral home” in 2016.

Harris Funeral Homes’ priority is for families to focus on their loss and their grief – which is why its policies, which include a sex-specific dress code, are crafted to emphasize professionalism and encourage employees to blend in to the background.

But it’s that dress code that has landed him in court, after Rost was informed that a male funeral director would no longer be wearing the men’s uniform, but would be dressing in women’s clothing instead. Because of that decision not to comply with the dress code, the funeral home felt that it had no choice but to part ways with the employee. And then the EEOC filed a lawsuit.

This should have been an open-and-shut case. After all, small businesses are allowed under the law to differentiate between men and women in their dress codes. Even the EEOC’s own employee manual states that a “dress code may require male employees to wear neckties at all times and female employees to wear skirts or dresses at all times.”

But the EEOC has elevated its political goals above the interests of the grieving people Tom and Harris Funeral Homes serve.

In order to achieve its own political goals through the courts, the EEOC decided that the definition of “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin – should mean “gender identity.”

But businesses have the right to rely on what the law is – not what government agencies want it to be – when they create and enforce employment policies.

It’s also worth noting that the former employee was free to dress however that employee wanted outside of work. Harris Funeral Homes simply expects its employees to follow the dress code during work hours, since the dress code is a crucial component to how it serves grieving families.

The EEOC doesn’t see it that way. And the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has sided with the EEOC. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case. Alliance Defending Freedom – representing Harris Funeral Homes – is asking the Court to answer the question: Who has the authority to rewrite federal law?

Here’s the bottom line: “Sex” and “gender identity” are not the same thing.

“Sex” treats whether someone is male or female as an objective fact based on biological truth. “Gender identity,” on the other hand, is a fluid, difficult-to-define concept based on subjective perceptions.

Replacing “sex” with “gender identity” in Title VII should not be taken lightly. Only Congress has the authority to make such a drastic shift – a change that has widespread consequences for everyone.

It would undermine equal treatment for women – allowing women’s scholarships to be given to men who believe themselves to be women, for example;

It would jeopardize the dignity and privacy of women – forcing organizations to open women’s shelters, locker rooms, and restrooms to men who believe themselves to be women; and

It would put employers in difficult situations – requiring them to treat men who believe themselves to be women as if they are in fact women.

These are important issues that you and I have the right to decide through our elected officials. Unelected officials – whether bureaucrats or judges – don’t have the power to make these choices for us.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has an opportunity to make this clear.


On liberal authoritarianism

Bowing to the authority of experts saps the lifeblood of democracy.  The idea of "experts" on political questions must be met with a sneer.  Even on non-political questions, the experts are often wrong

Political liberalism has evolved over nearly three centuries from a philosophy of safeguarding freedoms into a philosophy of demanding rights.

There have been good reasons for this shift. Liberals have come to realise that freedoms on their own are not always sustainable. People sometimes vote to relinquish their freedoms. Very often people use their freedoms to enslave others. Freedom may be just as likely to be used irresponsibly as it is to be used responsibly. Thus the mainstream of liberal opinion has come to the view that the protection of basic human rights, especially the protection of minority rights, is an indispensable prerequisite for the maintenance of individual freedom.

To some extent this is true. But the principle that some human rights must be ensured prompts the question of which ones. Someone has to decide, and if that decision preempts democratic decision-making, then clearly the decision cannot be left up to the people. In fact, among liberal political scientists, the whole idea that the people should define the scope of basic human rights is now sneeringly referred to as ‘majoritarian’ democracy, qualified as if it were no kind of democracy at all.

Mainstream liberals have reasoned that the delineation of the set of human rights that are necessary for the maintenance of individual freedom can only be properly performed by experts. Those experts, the experts in human rights, are by definition educated professionals like academics, lawyers, judges, journalists, civil servants, social workers, medical doctors and lobbyists. By virtue of dedicated study and professional practice they have made themselves the legitimate authorities on the subject. And they truly are the legitimate authorities on the subject. When you want an authority on chemistry, you consult a chemist. When you want an authority on human rights, you consult a human-rights lawyer.

The whole idea that the people should define the scope of human rights is now often sneeringly referred to as ‘majoritarian’ democracy, qualified as if it were no kind of democracy at all

The problem is that politics is a unique field of human activity. Authoritarianism in chemistry may be unproblematic, even desirable. Authoritarianism in politics is dangerous, even when the authorities themselves are above reproach. In the contemporary liberal worldview, certain policies are mandatory, others are beyond the pale, and only the experts can tell which is which. Liberal democracy thus requires the obedience of the voters (or at least the citizens) to expert authority. The people are the passive recipients of those rights the experts deem them to possess.

As the domain of rights expands, experts end up making more and more of the decisions – or at least more of the decisions that matter – in an ever-increasing number of the most important aspects of public life: economic policy, criminal justice, what’s taught in schools, who’s allowed to enter the country, what diseases will be cured, even (in many cases) who will have the opportunity to run for elective office. In these areas and more, experts arrogate to themselves the authority to adjudicate competing claims for public resources and private benefits. As society evolves, the areas reserved to expert adjudication seem only to expand. In the course of normal politics, previously depoliticised policy domains rarely return to the realm of democratic determination.

The new authoritarianism of the 21st century has nothing to do with the Trump presidency. It is neither a right-wing authoritarianism, nor a nationalist authoritarianism, nor even a conservative authoritarianism. The new authoritarianism of the 21st century is, paradoxically, a liberal authoritarianism. It is a tyranny of experts.

Though it may pain teachers to hear it, critical-thinking skills teach the habit of obedience, not because teachers value obedience, but because of the very criteria on which success in critical thinking must be judged. Critical thinking teaches students to reason toward the correct answer. But what if there is no correct answer? Or what if there is a correct answer but it is impossible to know what it is? Most public-policy questions fall into these two open categories. In such cases, independent thinking won’t necessarily lead people to the right answers. What independent thinking does is give the thinker – in this case, the citizen – a stake in the answer.

For example, consider the question of whether the US should have intervened earlier in the First World War. If it had, millions of lives might have been saved, Russia might not have fallen to the Bolsheviks, and Germany might have been more comprehensively defeated, changing German attitudes and preventing the rise of Nazism and the coming of the Second World War. Or perhaps the 20th century would have turned out even more horrifically than it did. We will never know. But we do know that the delay in America’s entry into the war left time for the issue to be comprehensively discussed, for ordinary Americans to form opinions for and against getting involved, and for them to express those opinions, whatever their merits.

As a result, when the US did go to war in 1917, it was with the support of the American people. Those who were initially against intervention, who may even have voted for Woodrow Wilson on the basis of his isolationist slogans (‘America first’ and ‘He kept us out of war’), patriotically joined in the cause.

Contrast that process with the politics behind America’s more recent wars waged in south-east Asia and the Middle East, hatched by cabals of experts with little genuine public debate. Despite their (current) unpopularity, it is impossible to say for sure whether these wars were right or wrong, successful or unsuccessful, because the relevant counterfactuals will never be known. What we do know is that there was no consensus among ordinary citizens about America’s participation in these wars.

Free-thinking citizens might have made even worse decisions. History is littered with the stories of democratic countries going to war for all the wrong reasons, from Athens’ gratuitous invasion of Sicily in 415 BC to America’s avaricious war on Spain in 1898. Independent thinkers are not necessarily better thinkers. But they take responsibility for their decisions in a way that obedient subjects do not. Independent thinking is more important for the health of democracy than is the success or failure of any particular policy decision.

Discretionary wars brightly illustrate the rise of the new authoritarianism because they crystalise decision-making processes into discrete, well-known events. But for the quality of democracy itself, the most important policy questions are those about freedoms and rights: who has them, who can grant them, and who can take them away. These are fundamentally questions about sovereignty and where it is located. The traditional American answer is that sovereignty resides in ‘We the People’. The traditional French answer is the state, and the traditional British answer is characteristically something in between: parliament.

But these traditional answers are now being challenged. Experts increasingly assert the existence of universal human rights that are beyond the political power of the people or the state to regulate. Whereas universal freedoms may be ‘self-evident’ (reserved rather than granted), universal rights must be granted by someone. Under the new authoritarianism, that someone is the expert class.

It might be sensationalist to claim that a self-appointed and self-perpetuating human-rights aristocracy is running roughshod over Western democracy. But with less hyperbole, there has been in the West a slow but comprehensive historical evolution from the broad consensus that governments derive their legitimacy from the people via democratic mandates to an emerging view that governments derive their legitimacy by governing in ways that have been endorsed by expert authorities. And that is a development that should worry democrats everywhere.


Allen West: Situational Ethics of Progressive, Socialist Left Should Be Disconcerting to Us All

I spent Easter weekend in South Florida and was invited to a Passover Seder on Good Friday. Our dear friends invited us up to Palm Beach Gardens, and it was great to see them. As I sat down to enjoy the evening, there were two ladies seated next to me, of a different political philosophy, and they knew who I was. Yes, you know it. I was engaged in a political discussion, especially since the Robert Mueller Special Counsel report had been released. But, as the Boy Scout – oops, can’t say that anymore, I guess – the Scouts motto says, “Be prepared.”

The dinner conversation began with the ladies asking me about the challengers to President Trump. I responded by stating I did not support a political philosophy that is rooted in socialist principles. And of course, the response was that the proposals of these Democratic Party challengers were not socialist. Having two advanced degrees on the subject, I explained the basic tenets of socialism. I also confided that I did not support these presidential candidates who were advocating for “reparations.” One of the women told me that none of them had said anything about reparations, that she had not heard that. Therefore, we have a Media Research Center that evidences the utter bias in the mainstream media. I was compelled, between bites of food, to use an iPhone to bring up an article about the Democratic presidential candidates, who, at the behest of Al Sharpton, agreed to support the issue of reparations.

But what became the crux of the conversation was the topic of the Mueller report. I had to contend with the progressive, socialist left talking point about President Trump’s obstruction of justice. The ladies did not want to talk about how the entire Mueller investigation charade was started. That seemed to hold no interest for them. What they did express was an abject emotional response and a belief that President Trump has perpetrated a gross lie against the American people. And so I asked them if their outrage was politically based, or if they condemned any lying, by anyone.

I think you all know where I am heading, right?

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has come out criticizing current Attorney General Barr, stating that Barr has made mistakes. AG Holder has asserted that AG Barr is the AG for the American people, not the president. However, it was AG Holder in an interview with Tom Joyner who claimed that he was President Obama’s wingman. It was also AG Holder who once said that he was an “activist” Attorney General, and we can all agree with him on that. Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell has called upon the resignation of AG Barr, but where were the voices calling for the resignation of Eric Holder after the revelations of Operation Fast and Furious. Maybe we have forgotten, but as a result of that scheme, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent named Brian Terry lost his life.

I brought up the lie of President Barack Obama relating to the Islamic terrorist attack in Benghazi. As a retired Army officer, I remain appalled that an American president, and a presidential candidate, would abandon Americans to die, and then delude the public about it. One of the ladies responded that she did not want to hear about President Obama. She only cared about President Trump and his lies. And therein lies the crux of where we find ourselves in America. The progressive, socialist left plays the game of situational ethics. If it is something that advances their ideological agenda, ya know, “If you like your doctor, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor,” it is not a lie. It is not a lie because the ends justify their means. When it comes to four Americans dying in an Islamic terrorist attack, “what difference, at this point, does it make?” is the refrain.

However, if there is an investigation that was started based upon a questionable dossier, and then the target of that investigation – who is by all accounts innocent – expresses his disgust, then that is proof positive of a criminal offense. But it is a criminal and impeachable offense only in the minds of those who seek a certain political outcome. And the ethics of the progressive, socialist left adjust to fit the situation based upon how it benefits them politically.

AG Loretta Lynch secretly meeting with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix – that is fine. The Clinton Foundation getting large sums of money from foreign sources – that is fine. Barack Obama telling a Russian president that he will have more flexibility after his reelection – that is fine. Weaponizing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) against the American people, particularly constitutional conservatives – that is fine. After all, they were the political opposition. Sending billions of dollars to the world’s biggest sponsor of Islamic terrorism, Iran – that is fine. Releasing Islamic jihadists from detention at Guantanamo Bay (GITMO), to include five senior Taliban leaders – that is fine. Denying there is a crisis on our southern border – that is fine – especially when your ideological agenda is about open borders. Denying free tuition benefits to Gold Star families while granting the same to illegal immigrants, well, that apparently is also fine.

The situational ethics of the progressive, socialist left, their utter hypocrisy, should be disconcerting to us all. Consider the current House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who is demanding the fully unredacted Mueller report … but who spoke out against the same for the Ken Starr report, on then President Bill Clinton.

What happened at the end of the dinner? One of the women, a hard New York City liberal, progressive asked to take a picture with me. The other confided that she would vote for me for whatever because I was a calm, informed, rational, and intelligent man. The lesson learned: objective truth will always win the day over situational ethics.


Australia: Fraser Anning speaks following Sri Lankan bombings

What the senator says seems simply factual to me.  What has he said that is not true?  There are fashions about things that must not be said but that is all the more reason to say them, it seems to me

Senator Fraser Anning has claimed he was “right all along” in an  anti-Muslim Twitter rant following the Sri Lankan bombings.

The Sri Lankan Government has blamed the attacks on Islamic extremist group National Thowheeth Jama’ath.

Senator Anning wasted little time using the attacks to announce he was “right all along” about the connection between Islam and violence.

“I was right all along. Islamic populations do indeed create violence.”

The Queensland senator went on to call out New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who was pictured donning a hijab out of respect following the Christchurch mosque shootings last month.

“Where is all the condemnation around the world on extreme radical Islam,” Senator Anning wrote. “Our politicians are quiet. What about the New Zealand PM who is now wearing a hijab, embracing Islam and playing the Islamic call to prayer?”

 Where is the world coming together for Christianity after almost 300 are dead and churches bombed in Sri Lanka?

This is one of the largest Islamic terrorist attacks ever, and yet the mainstream media is far less outraged compared to during the Christchurch shootings.

The media were next in the firing line, with Senator Anning claiming mainstream news outlets have been giving less attention to the Sri Lankan bombings than they gave to the Christchurch massacre.

He then took a swipe at “egg boy”, also known as Will Connolly, who gained the nickname after cracking an egg on Senator Anning’s head in the wake of his controversial comments about Christchurch.

“Almost 300 dead due to Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka. Where is egg boy now?” the tweet read.

 What I said and has been proven completely true is that Islamic populations when they increase in number will result in an increase in violence.

I also said during Christchurch, that whilst Muslims had been the victims, Muslims are usually the perpetrators in terrorist attacks.

The Islamophobic comments Senator Anning made following the Christchurch shootings were slammed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as “disgusting”.

But the widespread backlash didn’t deter the senator from last night reiterating and standing by what he said.

“I also said during Christchurch, that whilst Muslims had been the victims, Muslims are usually the perpetrators in terrorist attacks,” he tweeted.

Senator Anning finished off his rant by warning Australians there will be more terrorist attacks here if the government continued to allow Muslims to enter the country.

He even went as far as telling people they would “face death” if they didn’t heed his advice.

Senator Anning’s controversial posts have racked up thousands of comments, both from people condemning the senator’s actions and from people praising him.



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