Friday, June 27, 2008

Lame Excuse

American Political Science Association: Fudging the Issue of a Pro-Gay Boycott

The American Political Science Association, according to its Constitution, is not supposed to take positions on controversial public issues.

Unfortunately, nothing so insubstantial as a Constitution can stand in the way of a bunch of politically correct liberal professors caving to a politically correct interest group.

But what if the issue pits racial political correctness against gay political correctness?

The gay lobby within the APSA wanted to boycott New Orleans because voters in Louisiana had the temerity to vote to restrict marriage to one man and one woman.

Yet the race lobby within the organization, represented by the Committee on the Status of Blacks in the Profession, favored a convention in New Orleans as a means of helping revitalize a city whose (heavily black) citizens were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

So what is a politically correct bunch of professors supposed to do if caught between two lobbies toward which they instinctively genuflict?

The answer: fudge.

From an APSA press release:
Washington, DC—The Council of the American Political Science Association voted yesterday to revise its site selection policy for meetings but not to move the association’s Annual Meeting from New Orleans in 2012. The new policy is aimed at speaking out against state legal restrictions on same-sex unions, reflecting a preference for engaging with the state of Louisiana on these issues rather than to boycott New Orleans.

The vote by the Council was based on concerns that Article 4, paragraph 15 of the Louisiana state constitution, adopted in 2004, discriminates against the rights of same-sex couples and their families. For example, association members attending the APSA Annual Meeting may not be permitted to make medical decisions on behalf of their partner or family members.
So the convention remains in New Orleans, but the APSA is going to “engage” Louisiana on the issue.

Of course, the APSA has no right to “engage” anybody on any public issue, since its Constitution says “The Association as such is nonpartisan. It will not support political parties or candidates. It will not commit its members on questions of public policy.”

Sometimes, taking a middle position can be seen as a matter of principle, a compromise between legitimate concerns.

But in this case, it has nothing to do with principle. Rather, it’s a fudge.

It’s well known that college professors are not merely liberal or left, but that they are increasingly intolerant of views at odds with their own.

And the APSA’s actions send a message of intolerance. As Matthew J. Franck puts it:
No moral or religious reasons not to abandon the consensus of all of civilized history will be given a hearing by these [APSA] members, or even be admitted to exist as a good-faith matter in the minds of intelligent, decent colleagues. For the advocates of a “welcome environment,” the welcome will not be complete until everyone else agrees with them or shuts up.
Any student in a political science class will get this clear message, indeed, has probably already gotten it.

As Charlotte Allen has noted:
The best approach for the APSA might be to follow the counsel of Daniel Lowenstein, a specialist in electoral politics at UCLA’s law school: “The whole purpose of the organization is to provide a forum where politics and the political process are researched and debated, not to take sides on controversial political issues.” Are these academics prepared for such a radical idea?
The answer is simple: no, they aren’t.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Comedian George Carlin Dies

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yet More Environmental Fascism: Put Global Warming Skeptics on Trial

From The Guardian:
James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.

Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech (pdf) to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the “perfect storm” of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.

Speaking before Congress again, he will accuse the chief executive officers of companies such as ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy of being fully aware of the disinformation about climate change they are spreading.

In an interview with the Guardian he said: “When you are in that kind of position, as the CEO of one the primary players who have been putting out misinformation even via organisations that affect what gets into school textbooks, then I think that’s a crime.”
This is just the latest example of how the environmental jihadists advocate punishing those who disagree with them about anthropogenic global warming.

They, of course, invoke the precedent of the tobacco companies, who supposedly lied about the negative effects of smoking. But the looting of the tobacco companies was a shameful episode in the history of American jurisprudence.

Leaving aside the fact there there is plenty of room for skepticism about global warming, and plenty of reputable scientists who reject the hysteria, deciding your opponent is “lying” and therefore should be prosecuted for saying things you disagree with is simply way too convenient a way of silencing dissent.

The prevalence of this sort of fanaticism actually casts doubt on the scientific judgment of the scientists trying to shut up the debate.

If they are so driven to punish people who question anthropogenic global warming, are there some things about their beliefs and personality that cause them to (conveniently) exaggerate the threat and interpret the data in a biased way?

Are they not moralistic crusaders whose scientific views and legal views are both being driven by their fanaticism?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Unsavory Obama Buddy

From FrontPage Magazine:
SHOULD A MAJOR PARTY CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT, WHO HAS PLEDGED HIS SUPPORT FOR OUR TROOPS, REJECT THE MONEY AND SUPPORT of an anti-American extremist who thinks Osama bin Laden had a “valid” argument on 9/11 and says she is currently acting “to undermine the war effort”? Barack Obama should be forced to make that decision about the ample funds he has received from Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans.

According to Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen, Evans has “raised at least $50,000” for the Obama campaign. As long ago as February 2007, the Code Pink co-founder and pampered divorcee co-hosted a Hollywood fundraiser for Obama with her ex-husband (financier Max Palevsky) and Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen of DreamWorks studios.
The article goes on to quote a talk radio interview with Evans in which she, when asked about Osama’s claim that he attacked the U.S. because of U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, and whether that was a valid argument said “Sure. Why do we have bases in the Middle East? We totally violated the rights of that, that country. Why do we get to have bases in the Middle East?”

Further:
Evans’ revealing performance could serve as light radio comedy – (e.g., she later blurted out, in earnest, “Why is being a Communist anti-American?”) – if it did not mask a long history of actions designed to demoralize soldiers in harm’s way, vilify the military (and the United States as a whole), provide monetary and military support to jihadists, and popularize the views of Islamic radicals who believe terrorists who kill U.S. troops are “guaranteed Paradise.”

Her statement that “you can’t go to war if you don’t have any soldiers,” dovetails with her work to break the morale of soldiers fighting in Iraq. In July 2003, Jodie Evans joined the Advisory Board of Iraq Occupation Watch (IOW) as a founding member. Castroites Medea Benjamin and Leslie Cagan established IOW in Baghdad to convince American soldiers serving in Iraq to obtain “conscientious objector” status and get sent home. As part of this process, they recycled anti-American news stories to the troops in Iraq, and spread “first-hand” accounts of mythical U.S. “atrocities” back home. At least one fellow Advisory Board member called for the murder of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Tiring of rhetoric, Code Pink tended to the material needs of those who killed U.S. troops or tended to the “insurgents.” In December 2004, Evans and Code Pink delivered $600,000 in cash and supplies to “the other side” in Fallujah, a recent battlefield and terrorist stronghold infamous for killing American soldiers.
In another statement, Evans made it clear that she viewed terrorist death squads as morally superior to American troops.
We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi people and defending their right to resist. I can remain myself against all forms of violence, and yet I cannot judge what someone has to do when pushed to the wall to protect all they love. The Iraqi people are fighting for their country, to protect their families and to preserve all they love. They are fighting for their lives, and we are fighting for lies.
Will Obama return the money she has raised for him?

If he wants to distance himself from this kind of anti-American fanaticism, he will.

But unfortunately for him, Evans views about the war don’t seem too much different from his own. Obama’s judgment and his patriotism are already questionable. If this particular association breaks into the media, they will be a big problem for him.

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Stubborn Mule

Friday, June 20, 2008

Marquette Basketball Alumni: Class Acts

We don’t cover sports very much, but on occasion we like to point out that the Marquette basketball program has included some very fine young men whose later lives have been a credit to the school.

Two turned up in newspaper columns in the past few days. First, a reminiscence about Glenn (Doc) Rivers, from a sportswriter at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
Doc Rivers was a winner in my book long before he hoisted the NBA championship trophy late Tuesday night as the coach of the victorious Boston Celtics.

He was 20 and going by his given name of Glenn when I first met him. He was born Oct. 13, two days before the official opening of the college basketball season. I always thought that was perfect, as if he couldn’t wait to start playing the game he loved.

I wasn’t much older than he was - 26 - and although I wasn’t exactly a cub reporter with The Milwaukee Journal, I was the new beat reporter covering my alma mater, Marquette University. He was the first big star I ever covered.

Only he never acted that way - not from the first day we were introduced to the last time I saw him - after the Celtics beat the Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals earlier this spring. He is one of the most genuine individuals I’ve ever known. He comes from a great family, has a good heart and a great sense of humor.
And then there is a much more recent alumnus, Dwyane Wade:
Barring a last-moment change of plans, Dwyane Wade is heading to Beijing.

Wade, the Miami Heat guard who led his team to the 2006 NBA championship and has been battling injuries for much of the two years since, will be named to the U.S. Olympic basketball team Monday, according to a person familiar with the decision. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because USA Basketball won’t announce the team until Monday.

It would be Wade’s second Olympics; he was part of the bronze-medal winning squad in Athens in 2004. And his workouts in Chicago over the past few weeks have been going on with a gold medal at the forefront of his mind.

“It would mean everything to me,” Wade told The Associated Press last month. “It’s what we talked about after getting the bronze, right after getting that medal, and I really want to be part of the team that puts the USA back on top.”

Wade missed 31 games last season because of injuries, and the Heat suffered mightily, finishing 15-67 the worst record in the NBA.
U.S. professional basketball players have sometimes been accused of taking a jaded and lackadaisical attitude toward the Olympics. We won’t see that from Wade.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Another Academic 9/11 Conspiracy Promoter: Working for the U.N. This Time

From Fox News:
Critics are calling for the resignation of a U.N. official who publicly supports investigating theories that the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were an “inside job.”

Richard Falk, the special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, investigates alleged Israeli violations of human rights law for the U.N.’s Human Rights Council.

But the former Princeton professor would also like to investigate whether “some sort of controlled explosion from within” destroyed the Twin Towers, he told FOXNews.com.

“I do think there are questions that haven’t been answered, questions about the way the buildings collapsed and the failure to heed a variety of signals that there was danger coming,” Falk said.

In 2004, Falk wrote the forward to “The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11,” a book written by David Ray Griffin, a Sept. 11 conspiracy theorist.

Griffin’s book argues that the Twin Towers may have been brought down by a “controlled demolition” — not by two airliners hijacked by Al Qaeda operatives — and that the Pentagon may not have been hit by a plane at all.

Griffin “doesn’t take a so-called conspiracy view and he raises questions that haven’t been answered,” Falk told FOXNews.com. “I think [the book] deserved to be published and I have no regrets about that.”

Falk said that while he supports alternative theories behind the World Trade Center attack, he doesn’t claim the U.S. government was responsible.

“I’m an agnostic on the issue,” he said.
This, of course, is equivalent to being agnostic on whether the holocaust happened.
But Bolton is hardly agnostic on the issue of Falk’s views.

“It’s just an example of the inmates running the asylum,” Bolton said. “It’s a particularly graphic example for Americans, but this is not an aberration — this is, unfortunately, typical of much of what goes on” at the U.N.

In an online article for the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research last year, Falk — prior to his appointment as an unbiased human rights investigator — compared Israeli actions in Gaza to the Nazi treatment of Jews. This may have led to his appointment as the rapporteur for the Palestinian territories, Bolton said.

“He was picked for a reason, and the reason is not to have an objective assessment — the objective is to find more ammunition to go after Israel,” Bolton said.
This is yet another piece of data to consider when leftist critics of the Bush Administration accuse it of a “go it alone” attitude toward international affairs, or of “ignoring world opinion.”

There are doubtless plenty of occasions when it it prudent and useful to work through the U.N., and when U.N. projects are helpful.

But the United Nations simply has no moral authority. It’s a bunch of bureaucrats in a big building on the East River who, like all bureaucrats, have their own agenda. The agenda might be ideological, it might be nationalistic, or it might simply be the protection of their own perks and privileges. Its agenda is not morally binding on the U.S. taxpayer, nor on the U.S. government.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Welcome to Etihad Airways, the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates

Via an a-mail from a friend who is knowledable about aviation matters.

Etihad takes off ... sorta ...

You might enjoy this ... A340-600 at TOULOUSE FRANCE

These are pictures of a brand new A340-600 in November 2007 -- it had never flown. Brand spanking new right out of the hanger, the Etihad aircrew of nine were in the aircraft but not one employee from French Airbus was present. The aircrew taxied out to the run-up area then they took all four engines to takeoff power with virtually an empty aircraft. This was their first mistake. They obviously didn’t read the manual and had no clue just how light an empty Airbus really is.



No chocks were set, not that it would have mattered at that power setting. The brakes will not hold it back at full power either. The takeoff warning horn was blaring away in the cockpit because they had all 4 engines at full power. The aircraft computers thought they were trying to takeoff but it had not been configured properly (flaps/slats, etc, etc). Then one of these brain-surgeon-like pilots decided to pull the ‘Ground Sense’ circuit breaker to silence the alarms. This fools the aircraft into thinking it is in the air.

That was their last mistake. As soon as they did that, the computers automatically released all the brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward.



The ground sense indicator is a safety feature so pilots can’t land with the brakes on. There was no time to stop and no one smart enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting. So the rest is as you see it below.



Of Note: No one is talking and it didn’t make the mainstream media

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Obama: May Prosecute Members of Bush Administration for “War Crimes”

We blogged about this back in April, but it has come up again.

From Patrick McIlheran, how the candidate of getting beyond divisiveness and achieving national unity would treat members of the Bush Administration.

From the blog of Will Bunch:
Tonight I had an opportunity to ask Barack Obama a question that is on the minds of many Americans, yet rarely rises to the surface in the great ruckus of the 2008 presidential race -- and that is whether an Obama administration would seek to prosecute officials of a former Bush administration on the revelations that they greenlighted torture, or for other potential crimes that took place in the White House.

Obama said that as president he would indeed ask his new Attorney General and his deputies to “immediately review the information that’s already there” and determine if an inquiry is warranted -- but he also tread carefully on the issue, in line with his reputation for seeking to bridge the partisan divide. He worried that such a probe could be spun as “a partisan witch hunt.” However, he said that equation changes if there was willful criminality, because “nobody is above the law.”
And then Bunch goes on to quote Obama directly:
What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.

You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I’ve said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law -- and I think that’s roughly how I would look at it.
Let’s see: a party loses an election. Members of that party are put on trial by the new regime, and punished for this or that supposed “crime.”

What kind of government is that? Not a democracy.

But then, given the friends that Obama has, why wouldn’t we expect this from him?

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marquette’s Own Kevin Barrett: Wacky Conspiracy Theories in a Class on “Post-Modern” British Literature

A lot of college professors believe wacky things, but generally there is a kind of orthodoxy about the wacky things they believe. Many thought, during the 60s and 70s, that Fidel Castro was a great guy. Most think, today, that socialized medicine is a good thing.

But sometimes professors believe things that are just wacky (although usually left-wing wacky).

Thus it was with 9/11 conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett, who taught a course about Islam at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

And thus it is with John Boly, who is currently teaching English 146, “The Postmodernist Period in British Literature” here at Marquette. Boly is teaching classic “dystopias:” 1984, Brave New World, Clockwork Orange. Boly thinks the dire predictions of these books have come true in American society.

He has spent a lot of class time talking about conspiracy theories. Yesterday (June 11) for example, he spent 10 minutes of a 95 minute class analyzing texts, and the remainder outlining his conspiracy theories for students.

And he has quite a lot of them. He spent considerable time near the beginning of the term, for example, explaining how Prescott Bush, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and Calvin Coolidge supported (supposedly) the work of a scientist who later worked for the Nazi regime in Germany, and whose work is still important to the procedures of the Food and Drug Administration.

Why don’t historians reveal the full scope of this evil? Because “Harvard historians” have been bought off with Rockefeller money.

Conspiracy theories have kept reappearing as the summer has moved along. At one point, he asked students to identify a recent “mother of all false flag operations.” A students answered “the 9/11 attacks,” and he replied that she was correct!

The term “false flag,” widely used by 9/11 conspiracy theorists, means that the supposed terrorist attacks were mounted by the U.S. government, using people posing as Arab militants.

He then proceed to recite some of the standard 9/11 conspiracy lore, such as that the fire in the World Trade Center towers was “not hot enough to melt steel,” and that the towers were brought down by a “controlled demolition.”

At another point in the class, the discussion concerned Orwell’s 1984, and a “character” in the book named Emmanuel Goldstein, a hated enemy of society. Goldstein, according to some interpretations of the book (and Boly’s own interpretation) did not exist, being merely a character invented by the Party to be the target of society’s hatred.

Boly asked the class whether they knew of anybody like that today. A student answered “Osama bin Laden,” and was told that was exactly the right answer!

Boly also spents considerable time in class condemning the Federal Reserve Bank, which he views as a large conspiracy of “New York bankers” which produces “money printed out of thin air.” This situation, he believes, is so outrageous that “if Americans knew how the banking system works, there would be a civil revolution.”

He has commended a rather obscure book called The Creature from Jackal Island which according to one Internet blurb is:
. . . the story of how the US Reserve bank was spawned at a secret meeting on Jackal Island. The US Reserve Bank is really a cartel of bankers and the USA government and has made the banks very wealthy by allowing it to lend non-existent money (paper money) to the government and charge a very healthy interest on it. This all has not been in the interest of the American people.
The JFK Assassination

Of course, Boly believes that a conspiracy killed JFK. He discussed Operation Northwoods, a real series of plans for some rather dirty covert anti-Castro operations produced during the Kennedy administration – at the behest of Kennedy administration officials.

According to Boly, Kennedy’s failure to implement Northwoods resulted in his murder.

Evidence Not Needed

When asked for evidence on these points, Boly has blandly replied that “it’s on the Internet.” Of course it is. As is the “fact” that aliens from space have not only visited the Earth, but live among us.

We e-mailed Boly to ask him about his theories, and he supplied the following cryptic response:
I teach some dystopian novels, but these are works of fiction. Unlike conspiracy theories they make no claims about actual events.

As for history, I’m sure all of Marquette’s faculty encourage students to respect well documented facts.
Facts documented, presumably, by Internet sites.

Students, who at first seemed to by taking all this in with wide-eyed credulity, have turned skeptical. Hallway conversations among class members show a consensus that Boly is bonkers.

Interpretation

Is this situation some kind of outrage? We can’t see how, since students are much more likely to be mislead, indoctrinated and bamboozled by our more plausible sounding liberal colleagues than by Boly.

Does academic freedom protect Boly’s right to teach all this? In principle, not necessarily. In practice, yes.

The classic cannons of academic freedom don’t protect the right of a professor to spout off about issues far from the subject matter of the class. But arguably the claim that evil things that Orwell and others predicted have come true is relevant. Academic freedom also does not protect the right of professors to indoctrinate students. Yet actually defining indoctrination is such a sticky issue that nobody – liberal or conservative – can want a ban on “indoctrination” enforced.

Clueless Humanities Professors

This has to be placed in the larger context of how academics, especially in the humanities, spout off about factual matters of which they are basically clueless. Our students, for example, have been indoctrinated by Philosophy and English professors to believe that blacks are over represented on death row. The truth, which any criminologist would know, is that blacks are under represented on death row.

Likewise, English professors bluster about supposed “racial disparity” in the incarceration of blacks. One such professor was challenged by a student we know who interned with a law enforcement agency. She asked “don’t blacks commit more crimes than whites?” The professor replied “no, it’s the fault of racist cops,” and then added “you’re part of the problem.”

Ideological Bias

But it’s not simply cluelessness at work here. Professors, especially in English and Philosophy, live in a narrow world of political correctness where absurd notions – provided they demonize the right sort of people – are routinely accepted. Boly, for example, was among an overwhelming majority of English professors at Marquette who signed a statement saying that returning to the “Warriors” athletic nickname would be “offensive” to Indians, a notion that is embraced by only a tiny minority of Americans, and indeed by only a tiny minority of American Indians.

So what we have here is one little case emblematic of a much larger academic reality: the corruption of academia generally, and especially the humanities, by attitudes that are fundamentally hostile to sound history and sound social science.

And unlike Kevin Barrett (formerly at Madison), Boly has tenure.

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Keeping an Eye on the Top Cop

“Flynn Watch” is blog dedicated to chronicling, and evaluating, the performance of Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn.

We can’t think of a person more important to the welfare of people living in (or working in) the City of Milwaukee than the Police Chief.

The blog is brand new, and it remains to be seen whether it has legs, but we wish it well.

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Stay There Until You Learn Some Economics

Biased Use of Quotes in the Media: New York Times

From the Media Research Center’s “Times Watch” blog: the way in which the paper shows its liberal bias with the use of quote marks.

Insight check here: how does the following paragraph frim the Times show bias?
The economy has emerged as the top concern of voters in the presidential race, supplanting terrorism and the Iraq war as gasoline prices and unemployment have gone up and housing values and stock prices have gone down.

Their differences on the economy are every bit as stark as the difference on the Iraq war, where Mr. Obama favors beginning to withdraw United States troops while Mr. McCain wants to keep them there until they achieve “victory.”

Mr. McCain wants to extend the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, cut corporate taxes and keep capital-gains taxes low. The tax cuts he promotes as benefiting the middle class include doubling the size of the exemption people can claim for each child. And his call for repealing the alternative minimum tax, while it would still help some middle-class taxpayers, would still largely benefit the wealthy: some 80 percent of the benefit would go to the top 10 percent of earners, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.

Mr. Obama wants to let the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy lapse, and he wants to raise the tax on capital gains and dividends and to tax the windfall profits of oil companies. He also wants to keep the estate tax, which many Republicans deride as the “death tax,” on people with estates valued at more than $3.5 million; Mr. McCain would exempt people with estates valued at up to $10 million and would impose a much lower tax rate. Mr. Obama wants to use some of that money to pay for his middle-class tax cut and for the elimination of income taxes on retirees.
There is, of course, plenty of bias here, including calling the Tax Policy Center “a nonpartisan research group.”

But the thing that stands out is that Republican concepts and talking points (the death tax, victory in Iraq) are put in quotes.

But Democratic concepts and talking points (the wealthy, excess profits) are presented as though they are objectively defined obvious facts.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

America: Lone Beacon of Free Speech

From the International Herald Tribune, an article on how widespread regulation of speech -- under the doctrine of “hate speech,” is in Western democracies.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia: A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatened Western values. The article’s tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States did not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.

Things are different here. The magazine is on trial.

Under Canadian law, there is a serious argument that the article contained hate speech and that its publisher, Maclean’s magazine, the nation’s leading newsweekly, should be forbidden from saying similar things, forced to publish a rebuttal and made to compensate Muslims for injuring their “dignity, feelings and self respect.”

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, which held five days of hearings on those questions in Vancouver last week, will soon rule on whether Maclean’s violated a provincial hate speech law by stirring up animosity toward Muslims.

As spectators lined up for the afternoon session last week, an argument broke out.

“It’s hate speech!” yelled one man.

“It’s free speech!” yelled another.

In the United States, that debate has been settled. Under the First Amendment, newspapers and magazines can say what they like about minority groups and religions - even false, provocative or hateful things - without legal consequence.

Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.

Last week, the actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined €15,000, or $23,000, in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a Muslim ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep.

By contrast, U.S. courts would not stop the American Nazi Party from marching in Skokie, Illinois, in 1977, though the march was deeply distressing to the many Holocaust survivors there.
While traditionally political liberals have favored free speech, that support has clearly flagged -- as anybody surveying the academic scene today can see -- as liberals and leftists have gained the power to shut up speech they don’t like.
Some prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech.

“It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken,” Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher, wrote in The New York Review of Books last month, “when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.”
The articles further notes:
Many foreign courts have respectfully considered the U.S. approach - and then rejected it.

A 1990 decision from the Canadian Supreme Court, for instance, upheld the criminal conviction of James Keegstra for “unlawfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group by communicating anti-Semitic statements.” Keegstra, a teacher, had told his students that Jews are “money loving,” “power hungry” and “treacherous.”

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Robert Dickson said there was an issue “crucial to the disposition of this appeal: the relationship between Canadian and American approaches to the constitutional protection of free expression, most notably in the realm of hate propaganda.”

Dickson said, “There is much to be learned from First Amendment jurisprudence.” But he concluded that “the international commitment to eradicate hate propaganda and, most importantly, the special role given equality and multiculturalism in the Canadian Constitution necessitate a departure from the view, reasonably prevalent in America at present, that the suppression of hate propaganda is incompatible with the guarantee of free expression.”
So if you want to shut up somebody, all you have to do is explain that their speech isn’t compatible with “equality” or “multiculturalism.”

The problem, of course, is that hate speech laws will never be enforced in an even handed way.

Politically correct groups (Muslims, homosexuals) will be protected, but disfavored groups (Christians, capitalists) will occupy a free fire zone. The Bill Mahers of the world will never have anything to fear.

And the political left will define who is politically correct. Just as on university campuses.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Down the Media Memory Hole: The Mythical “Haditha Massacre”

“Haditha” was, liberals hoped, to the Iraq War what My Lai was to the Vietnam War: an example of the brutality of American soldiers that would help turn public opinion against the war.

But unfortunately for them (but fortunately for the country) that narrative has collapsed. From FrontPage Magazine:
THIS WEEK YET AGAIN PROVED THE PARTY OF DEFEAT’S KING WEARS NO CLOTHES. On Wednesday, a jury found Lieutenant Andrew Grayson “not guilty” of covering up the (un)massacre at Haditha. The 27-year-old had been accused of multiple counts of making false official statements and one count of attempting to deceive by making false statements. A charge of “obstruction of justice” had been thrown out the day before.

More than simply another exoneration of those accused of wrongdoing in Haditha – the sixth of eight accused – this verdict will go a long way to redefining Haditha and refuting those who insist on slurring “baby-killer” Marines and the United States herself.

In the atrocity story churned out by left-wingers and “mainstream media” newscasters (but then, I repeat myself), four U.S. Marines murdered 24 blameless Iraqi civilians on November 19, 2005, as their victims cowered, some “as if in prayer.” The then-ascendant face of American surrender, John Murtha, made this story his own in a dramatic press conference in May 2006, insisting his fellow Marines acted “in cold blood” even as an internal investigation was taking place.

The story at once illumined the Left’s imagination like nothing since Abu Ghraib. More than a massacre, its obsessive observers saw in Haditha a “cover-up,” a conspiracy. The official press release stated these civilians had died during an explosion, rather than by gunfire, yet investigators understand they were killed by ammunition fired at close-range. The narrative became set: the Bush White House ordered American soldiers to slaughter innocent civilians every opportunity they got (My Lai by the dozen); the service covered up the story; and a compliant media hid it all from the American people. The fact that Time magazine broke the story gave them little pause. They became keepers of the dirty secret: America, a genocidal nation since 1492, is at it again.

This is a necessary corollary of the fact that there was no such “massacre.” The defendants – who are, it is too infrequently pointed out, U.S. Marines who pledged to give their lives if necessary to keep America safe from terrorists – have maintained the “insurgents” initiated the firefight; hid among civilians (as terrorists often do); and the Marines heard rifles cocking in the smoke-filled room when they inadvertently killed the Iraqis (whom they also pledged to protect from terrorists at the cost of their lives).

Photographs of the scene revealed the curtains and walls were riddled with bullet holes – indicating a two-way firefight. And these “cold blood”-ed killers have broken down in tears at the remembrance of their actions.
Of course, the mainstream media, which incessently reported on the original charges against the Marines, have had little to say about their vindication.

It doesn’t fit the narrative.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Get Out of the Central City?

Blogger James T. Harris lives in the central city of Milwaukee, and thus has a first hand view of realities that both suburban conservatives and East Side liberals pretty much see only through the lens of ideology.

That’s why his blog is such compelling reading.

In his most recent entry, he mulls over the question, does a black family that wants a decent environment for its kids need to simply move out.
Milwaukee is getting scary. That’s the word among friends. Yesterday, I had a conversation with a couple that is considering moving “further out.” Their neighborhood changed overnight because of one rental property.

I told them that for the first time in a long time I was feeling nervous. My son is entering high school. It’s a private school, and because of that he will stand out like a sore thumb in my neighborhood. He doesn’t have to wear a uniform, per se, but his attire is nothing close to “urban wear.” My friend sat in his chair and stared at me.

It’s the culture, stupid.
Further:
Adding fuel to the fire, the boy who was assaulted on the bus the other day is speaking out. He gave the reason for the beat down. The thugs didn’t like the clothes he was wearing. He wasn’t dressed like a gang banger, he wasn’t dressed like a rapper, so the gang bang rap wanna be thugs kicked his ass.
Obviously, we have here a self-reinforcing cycle: as people like Harris move out, the neighborhood declines, prompting others to leave.

But doing something about it requires things like tough law enforcement, school choice, and reducing welfare dependency. In other words, things liberals don’t want to do.

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The Ugly Side of Feminism: Alice Walker

Via the Dave Casper Experience, the daughter of feminist icon Alice Walker chronicles her mother’s fanatical views.

First, the editor’s introduction:
She’s revered as a trail-blazing feminist and author Alice Walker touched the lives of a generation of women. A champion of women’s rights, she has always argued that motherhood is a form of servitude. But one woman didn’t buy in to Alice’s beliefs - her daughter, Rebecca, 38.

Here the writer describes what it was like to grow up as the daughter of a cultural icon, and why she feels so blessed to be the sort of woman 64-year-old Alice despises - a mother.
Now the younger Walker woman tells of her experiences.
The other day I was vacuuming when my son came bounding into the room. ‘Mummy, Mummy, let me help,’ he cried. His little hands were grabbing me around the knees and his huge brown eyes were looking up at me. I was overwhelmed by a huge surge of happiness.

I love the way his head nestles in the crook of my neck. I love the way his face falls into a mask of eager concentration when I help him learn the alphabet. But most of all, I simply love hearing his little voice calling: ‘Mummy, Mummy.’

It reminds me of just how blessed I am. The truth is that I very nearly missed out on becoming a mother - thanks to being brought up by a rabid feminist who thought motherhood was about the worst thing that could happen to a woman.

You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women. I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale.

In fact, having a child has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Far from ‘enslaving’ me, three-and-a-half-year-old Tenzin has opened my world. My only regret is that I discovered the joys of motherhood so late - I have been trying for a second child for two years, but so far with no luck.

I was raised to believe that women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. But I strongly feel children need two parents and the thought of raising Tenzin without my partner, Glen, 52, would be terrifying.

As the child of divorced parents, I know only too well the painful consequences of being brought up in those circumstances. Feminism has much to answer for denigrating men and encouraging women to seek independence whatever the cost to their families.

My mother’s feminist principles coloured every aspect of my life. As a little girl, I wasn’t even allowed to play with dolls or stuffed toys in case they brought out a maternal instinct. It was drummed into me that being a mother, raising children and running a home were a form of slavery. Having a career, travelling the world and being independent were what really mattered according to her.

I love my mother very much, but I haven’t seen her or spoken to her since I became pregnant. She has never seen my son - her only grandchild. My crime? Daring to question her ideology.

Well, so be it. My mother may be revered by women around the world - goodness knows, many even have shrines to her. But I honestly believe it’s time to puncture the myth and to reveal what life was really like to grow up as a child of the feminist revolution.

My early childhood was very happy although my parents were terribly busy, encouraging me to grow up fast. I was only one when I was sent off to nursery school. I’m told they even made me walk down the street to the school.

When I was eight, my parents divorced. From then on I was shuttled between two worlds - my father’s very conservative, traditional, wealthy, white suburban community in New York, and my mother’s avant garde multi-racial community in California. I spent two years with each parent - a bizarre way of doing things.

I was 16 when I found a now-famous poem she wrote comparing me to various calamities that struck and impeded the lives of other women writers. Virginia Woolf was mentally ill and the Brontes died prematurely. My mother had me - a ‘delightful distraction’, but a calamity nevertheless. I found that a huge shock and very upsetting.

According to the strident feminist ideology of the Seventies, women were sisters first, and my mother chose to see me as a sister rather than a daughter. From the age of 13, I spent days at a time alone while my mother retreated to her writing studio - some 100 miles away. I was left with money to buy my own meals and lived on a diet of fast food.

But the truth was I was very lonely and, with my mother’s knowledge, started having sex at 13. I guess it was a relief for my mother as it meant I was less demanding. And she felt that being sexually active was empowering for me because it meant I was in control of my body.
It is one of the more astounding notions of feminists: that a girl or woman is “in control of her body” if she is promiscuous. The common sense view would be just the opposite.
Now I simply cannot understand how she could have been so permissive. I barely want my son to leave the house on a play-date, let alone start sleeping around while barely out of junior school.

A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries and makes the world safe for her child. But my mother did none of those things.

Although I was on the Pill - something I had arranged at 13, visiting the doctor with my best friend - I fell pregnant at 14. I organised an abortion myself. Now I shudder at the memory. I was only a little girl. I don’t remember my mother being shocked or upset. She tried to be supportive, accompanying me with her boyfriend.

Although I believe that an abortion was the right decision for me then, the aftermath haunted me for decades. It ate away at my self-confidence and, until I had Tenzin, I was terrified that I’d never be able to have a baby because of what I had done to the child I had destroyed. For feminists to say that abortion carries no consequences is simply wrong.

As a child, I was terribly confused, because while I was being fed a strong feminist message, I actually yearned for a traditional mother. My father’s second wife, Judy, was a loving, maternal homemaker with five children she doted on.

There was always food in the fridge and she did all the things my mother didn’t, such as attending their school events, taking endless photos and telling her children at every opportunity how wonderful they were.

My mother was the polar opposite. She never came to a single school event, she didn’t buy me any clothes, she didn’t even help me buy my first bra - a friend was paid to go shopping with me. If I needed help with homework I asked my boyfriend’s mother.

Moving between the two homes was terrible. At my father’s home I felt much more taken care of. But, if I told my mother that I’d had a good time with Judy, she’d look bereft - making me feel I was choosing this white, privileged woman above her. I was made to feel that I had to choose one set of ideals above the other.

When I hit my 20s and first felt a longing to be a mother, I was totally confused. I could feel my biological clock ticking, but I felt if I listened to it, I would be betraying my mother and all she had taught me.

Although I knew what my mother felt about babies, I still hoped that when I told her I was pregnant, she would be excited for me.

‘Mum, I’m pregnant’

Instead, when I called her one morning in the spring of 2004, while I was at one of her homes housesitting, and told her my news and that I’d never been happier, she went very quiet. All she could say was that she was shocked. Then she asked if I could check on her garden. I put the phone down and sobbed - she had deliberately withheld her approval with the intention of hurting me. What loving mother would do that?

Worse was to follow. My mother took umbrage at an interview in which I’d mentioned that my parents didn’t protect or look out for me. She sent me an e-mail, threatening to undermine my reputation as a writer. I couldn’t believe she could be so hurtful - particularly when I was pregnant.
Read the entire piece, detailing how things went downhill after that.

Good Point, Hillary

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More Academic Fascism: Ideological Litmus Test on Israel

From the Spectator:
Today, the Universities and Colleges Union is discussing whether universities should single out Israeli and Jewish scholars for active discrimination.

Yes, you read that correctly. The UCU is debating a motion which not only raises the spectre yet again of an academic boycott of Israel but demands of Jewish and Israeli academics that they explain their politics as a pre-condition to normal academic contact. The motion asks colleagues
to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating . . . the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions. . . Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.
The implication is that, if they don’t condemn Israel for the ‘occupation’, or practising ‘apartheid’, ‘genocide’ or any of the other manufactured crimes laid at Israel’s door by the Palestinian/Islamist/neonazi/leftwing axis, they won’t be able to work. Their continued employment will depend on their holding views which are permitted.

What makes it all the more appalling is that it is Israelis and Jews alone who are being singled out for this treatment. No other group is to be barred from academic activity unless they hold ‘approved’ views; no state-run educational institution controlled by any of the world’s numerous tyrannies is to be ‘grey-listed’.
Why Israel should be the bete noir of leftist academics is a bit of an intellectual puzzle.

Perhaps it is because Israel is a democracy, and leftist academics instinctively prefer dictatorships and anti-democratic forces -- leftist ones preferably but right-wing ones in a pinch. Maybe it’s because Israel is an ally of the United States, and thus we have anti-Americanism displaced onto the Jewish state.

Maybe it is because the Jews have committed the sin — both of western societies and in the state of Israel — of succeeding. Thus like Asians (who are derided by politically correct types as the “model minority”) they have failed to play the proper role of a victim group.

Whatever the cause, a bunch of leftist academics who thought maintaining scholarly intercourse with academics in Communist countries was a mark of their enlightenment wants to isolate and stigmatize Israel.

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New Marquette Faculty Blog

Associate Professor of Theology Mark Johnson has blogged for a while, but he’s recently picked up the pace and turned to political subjects.

Check out, for example, his recent posts “What should Obama do? What does Hillary want?” and “The historical importance of Obama’s nomination.”

Will he turn his attention to campus issues? That would be dandy, although we have no idea whether he is so inclined.

Faculty bloggers at Marquette are terribly sparse. Some might say that that’s because most faculty have better things to do, but we think it’s because faculty are excessively reticent about engaging in public debate -- which can be rather rough and tumble.

Blogs are part of the common culture at Marquette, but not nearly so big a part, nor nearly so involved with the faculty, as they should be.

We look forward to reading his blog, and perhaps taking issue with him if we think he’s off-the-mark.

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Hard Headed

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pro-Abortion Censorship on Canadian Campuses

From the National Post:
In response to a series of controversies over abortion debates on Canadian campuses, the student government of York University in Toronto has tabled an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion.

Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students, said student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it “within a pro-choice realm,” and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance.

“You have to recognize that a woman has a choice over her own body,” Ms. Massa said. “We think that these pro-life, these anti-choice groups, they’re sexist in nature . . . The way that they speak about women who decide to have abortions is demoralizing. They call them murderers, all of them do . . . Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women’s rights.”

The school’s administration condemned the decision as contrary to its academic mission.

He said denying students access to the various aspects of the abortion debate was not in keeping with the school’s mandate, and that the administration would try to compensate by providing its own venues and resources to legitimate debates.

Margaret Fung, co-president of York’s Students for Bioethical Awareness, the school’s only anti-abortion group, was not consulted.

“What is happening is anti-choice groups coming on to campus under the guise of debates or through student clubs, to promote anti-choice sentiments, and then student unions responding to it, and then receiving very organized backlash ... A lot of these groups are funded and organized under a larger organization,” Ms. Massa said, citing the Genocide Awareness Project, a university-targeted poster campaign of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a privately funded U.S. organization with a Canadian branch in Alberta.

The situation at York came to a crisis in March, when a speaker from that organization, on Ms. Fung’s invitation, came to debate abortion with a member of the school’s Free-thinkers, Skeptics and Atheists club.

The York Federation of Students (YFS) executive, fearing the effects of gruesome imagery and hostile argument, hastily voted to cancel the event, which prompted the administration to publicly declare its support for free speech and provide an alternate venue.
Translation: the campus leftists feared that, if the issue was openly debated, at least some students would be convinced by the pro-life position.
In a recent editorial about the conflict, the editor-in-chief of York’s student paper called the federation’s stance on free speech “dangerous,” and wondered about its claim that the “vast majority” of students support its position. “When did these people take it upon themselves to decide what we think?” Zalina Alvi wrote.

Meanwhile, similar controversies are unfolding across Canada, with anti-abortion groups at Capilano College, the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, Lakehead University and Carleton University stripped of official club status and funding, at least once by fiat of a single member of student council. Some clubs have regained status, while others appealed their cases to human rights commissions.

Efforts to formalize the York ban on anti-abortion groups began in earnest last weekend, when the YFS brought a successful motion to the annual meeting in Ottawa of the Canadian Federation of Students, a national umbrella group of student unions.

“Be it resolved that member locals [of the CFS] that refuse to allow anti-choice organizations access to their resources and space be supported. And further, be it resolved that a pro-choice organization kit be created that may include materials such as a fact sheet, buttons, contact information for local pro-choice organizations and research on anti-choice organizations and the conservative think-tanks that fund them,” the motion reads.

A similar policy, specifically to ban “anti-choice” groups at York, is to be voted on this weekend at the first board meeting of next year’s YFS executive, which is composed largely of student politicians who are entering their third year on the five-member executive.

“I’m confident that it’ll pass,” Ms. Massa said.
The first appalling thing about this is how utterly ordinary it is to find that the politically correct leftists wrapping themselves in the mantle of “women’s rights” (or “gay rights” or “anti-racism”) and working to shut up speech they don’t like.

For a chilling reminder of how these fascists think, check out a letter written to the National Post by a group supporting the ban in response to an editorial supporting free speech.
I was disgusted when I read this editorial. The York Federation of Students (YFS) is taking a stand on behalf of its members and refusing to allow anti-choice groups spread hate speech against women. There is a very clear difference between pro-life and anti-choice: Anti-choice groups actively attack women’s autonomy over their own bodies and lives. This is flagrant sexism. And sexism is not a mere “thought crime” as the editorial asserts, but rather is a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code because it is a serious and systemic problem that has consistently subjugated women all throughout history.
Thus those intolerant of speech invoke “human rights” in an effort to shut up those with whom they disagree.

Which, of course, underlines a key problem with the concept “human rights:” it can pretty much mean what you want to mean. And for these politically correct feminists, it most certainly doesn’t include free speech.

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Politically Correct “Diversity” in Cartoons

From a Chicago e-mail correspondent.
The Public television station in Chicago has a weekly “local celebrity-amateur movie critic” feature for the recently released features. One of the latest reviewers was the weekend Fox TV anchor, and he watched “Prince Caspian,” the movie adapted from the C.S. Lewis book.

His two comments were that the plot was formulaic (and, in my humble opinion, if it was faithful to the books then there’s not much more you can ask for: that’s far more of a book criticism than a movie criticism): and he also said the movie “lacked diversity.”

This particular book was first published in 1951 in Great Britain. Lewis was about age 52 at that time, and its impossible to know exactly when the stories were written or even imagined. But it was certainly not anywhere after the very early post WWII period; Great Britain still had food rationing that continued even after 1951. It was hardly life as we know it it today. Lewis wrote a fantasy-it contains not only youngsters but talking animals, trolls and things like that.

I really think its more of a comment on the current mindset that all movies must have black actors (down to the idea that if you have a cartoon one of the voices must be Queen Latifah or Eddie Murphy) or else its unacceptable today. Left unmentioned (and also unquestioned by the PBS host) was the basic premise “so where would you want to see ‘diversity’ inserted into this movie? And would that have been fair to C.S. Lewis’ work?”

This is another example of political correctness, and it brings to mind the proposed statute of the World Trade Center-Ground Zero picture. Either you like the original snapshot or novel or you don’t; but you cannot change an artist’s work to suit your PC needs for “diversity.”
If there is any area of American life in which blacks have “made it,” it’s the entertainment industry.

And, in spite of a bit of affirmative action here and there (we still remember the silly Sidney Poitier movies from the 60s) they have made it on the basis of talent. So issues like this are the very last place where anybody should be playing the race card.

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