Saturday, February 28, 2009

We Think We Will Risk the Vehicles

From the Telegraph (U.K.) -- Click on Photo to Enlarge

More Academic Fascism from Radicalized Muslims and Leftists

From the American Thinker:
The virulence of anti-Israelism and antisemitism at The University of California, Irvine campus, for instance, has been so flagrant and endemic in recent years that it actually prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the findings of which were issued in a damning 2007 report. But San Francisco State University is not far behind in the ignoble way it has enabled its Muslim students’ organizations to create a veritable reign of terror on campus against Jewish and pro-Israel students, while simultaneously attempting to silence voices of opposition, a situation made evident this January when SFSU’s College Republicans were once again pushed into the limelight for their outspoken challenges to the school’s ubiquitous Palestinianism.

Playing off the recent indignity suffered by former president Bush when an insolent reporter hurled a shoe at the President’s head during a press conference, the College Republicans had set up a booth to let students who so wished to sign an anti-Hamas, anti-terror petition and throw a shoe at a Hamas flag. Deeply “offended” by the Republicans for daring to condemn terrorists, rather than the Israeli state in defending its civilians from genocidal attack, members of SFSU’s General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) and socialist club overturned the table, seized the Hamas flag, and were physically aggressive enough in their assault of the Republican students to result in two of their members, Muhammad Abdullah and Jeremy Stern, being put under arrest.

The outcome of this event, one would think, would be fairly straightforward, since the pro-Hamas protesters clearly violated SFSU’s own rules for student behavior, which clearly prohibit “conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person within or related to the university community, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, [or] harassment,” all of which the Republican group experienced.

But in the morally-inverted world of academia, the Republican group, for the third time, find themselves the target of punishment and censure, not their attackers, and the “offended parties” -- the GUPS and the socialist club -- have made some breathtakingly audacious demands to the SFSU administration: the College Republicans must be punished or sanctioned for throwing shoes at the Hamas flag; pending charges should be dropped against the two protesters who assaulted the College Republicans and seized the Hamas flag; and, most ominously for defenders of free expression on campus, a forum should be created to “educate” students about what forms of speech the “offended” students deem acceptable or unacceptable, including what the Left regularly tries to proscribe as “hate speech.”
Of course, “hate speech” is simply speech that you don’t like.

Expressing hatred of whites, males or Christians is an absolutely normal activity around any university.

Of course, one could say that the College Republicans’ protest was rather provocative and uncivil -- a relevant observation if you think only genteel speech is protected by the First Amendment.
Were only the College Republicans acting out in a provocative way on an otherwise peaceful SFSU campus, they might well be rebuked for being crude and demonstrating impolite and impolitic behavior. But not only has the campus gained notoriety for the outrageousness of some of its morally-defective protests, but the same “offended” parties who sought punishments for the College Republicans, the General Union of Palestinian Students, have continually been at the center of a succession of riots, protests, and anti-Israel, anti-American hate-fests and counter-protests at which radical speakers regularly, and with unbridled invective, denounce and demonize Jews, Zionists, Israel, Republicans, and America.

Most notorious, for example, was the Muslim student-sponsored, pro-Palestinian April 2002 demonstration that included odious flyers and posters depicting a dead Palestinian baby on a soup-can label imprinted with the words “Palestinian Children Meat, slaughtered according to Jewish rites under American license,” echoing the centuries-old blood libel of European antisemitism that accused Jews of murdering Gentile children and using their blood to bake matzos -- a slander that has, not surprisingly, currently gained credence in the Arab world. Even if the perpetrators of this cruel protest consider this type of expression merely “academic free speech” and legitimate debate about Zionism, and also disingenuously claim that that there is no underlying Jew-hatred here, only debate about Israeli policies, and even if they are to be believed, might not such flyers possibly offend Jewish students on campus? Could accusing an ethnic group of infanticide possibly be construed as “intimidation” or fostering “incivility” on campus?
Fascists, here as elsewhere, simply aren’t willing to apply their anti-free speech doctrines in an even-handed way.

Which is why, in some borderline cases, we are less disturbed by restrictions on speech than about even-handedness. If people who want to shut up speech know that they might be subjected to exactly the same restrictions they want to impose on others, that would constitute a built-in protection against excesses. The situation, in other words, would be a prisoners’ dilemma.

But on a modern university campus, where all people are divided into politically correct “victim” groups and politically incorrect “oppressor” groups, even handedness is hard to find.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Dictator Hugo Chavez

We generally expect PBS to lean to the left, but the Frontline documentary on Hugo Chavez, leftist Venezuelan near-dictator, is honest and straight down the middle.

You can watch it online at the PBS website.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Could Call that “Stimulus”

The 15 Strangest College Courses In America

Check this out.

Here is one of our favorites:
The Joy of Garbage is a Santa Clara University course that actually deals with real science through the lens of garbage. Students study decomposition, what makes soil rot, the chemicals that give garbage an unpleasant odor, and they also learn about sustainability when it comes to the things we throw away. Classes don’t just study household garbage either, there’s also a section on nuclear waste. And topping things off there are even field trips, with students visiting local sanitation plants and landfills.
Of course, it’s possible to use a sexy tag to package a course with perfectly serious content.

We, for example, teach a course on the Kennedy assassination.

Here at Marquette, we have Phillip Naylor teaching “The History of Rock and Roll.”

But look over the list of fifteen courses. Some doubtless involve packaging a perfectly reputable academic enterprise in an appealing way. But some others involve self-indulgent professors doing “their own thing” to the detriment of students.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How Popular Is Obama?

While the Mainstream Media swoon over Obama, a sober look at public opinion polls shows him to be pretty much an average president in terms of public approval.

From Gary Langer of ABC News:
There are a couple of data points worth keeping in mind . . . as we digest an aide’s claim today, as Jake Tapper reports, that his strong approval rating is “earned.” One, while his rating is high, it’s also dead average for a new president. The other is the impressive partisanship beneath it.

We have approval ratings for each of the last nine elected presidents after their first month in office, back to Dwight Eisenhower. (We’re leaving Johnson and Ford aside.) There’s been a healthy range, from a low of 55 percent for George W. Bush after the disputed election of 2000 to a high of 76 percent for his father 12 years earlier. (I’m using ABC/Post polls since Reagan, Gallup previously).

But the average? Sixty-seven percent. And Obama’s? Sixty-eight percent, as we reported in our new poll yesterday. His initial rating, then, is strong – but it’s also generally typical for a new guy.
In fact, the current approval rating of Obama is best estimated as 62.5%, according to an average of polls on Real Clear Politics.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Langer is understating the case. Since he is using ABC polls consistently (at least since Reagan) his conclusions on the comparative standing of Obama are quite likely valid, even if the exact numbers can be quibbled about.

In the meantime, Gallup is showing a 10% decline in Obama approval since the Inauguration. It now stands at 59%, according to the organization that invented the concept (and much else in polling).

While Obama’s standing isn’t low, by any means, the American public hasn’t gotten the memo about how he is the Messiah who will lead the citizens to the Promised Land (and yes, we know we are mixing Biblical metaphors).

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Five Self-Righteous Ways of Messing Things Up

From Cracked, a rather profane and irreverant dissection of the behaviors of people want to “save the planet.”

Bottom line: when your behavior is really for the purpose of making you feel very good and moral, you aren’t inclined to ask questions as to whether it actually serves any good social purpose.

Here is just one of the five:

#5.Buying Organically Grown Food

Why People Do It:

Seems like a no-brainer. Organic food eliminates the use of chemical fertilizers, hormones and pesticides. Getting rid of all those nasty chemicals means healthier foods and less contamination to the planet.

And anything that’s organic or natural has to be better for you, right? It’s like you’re eating the opposite of Twinkies here.

Why They Shouldn’t:

So what’s the problem with eating healthier food and saving the Earth? Nothing, except that the food may not be any healthier. And that’s even if you can afford the (much) higher prices. Oh, and the impact on the planet may actually be worse.

The funny thing about those chemical fertilizers and pesticides is that they were invented for a reason, and that’s to increase food production. Turns out organic farming is pretty damn inefficient. Holding hands and thinking peaceful thoughts does dick all against pests that want to eat your crops and weeds that want to choke them out. The current acre of farmland produces 200 percent more wheat than it did 70 years ago. The same goes for meat and poultry. The chemicals did that for us.

Take them away, and suddenly you’re getting less food per acre of land. According to some guy who won a Nobel Prize, we could feed 4 billion people if we went all organic. This sounds great except maybe to the 2.5 billion people who would be left without anything to eat.

A tiny fraction of the people organic food would leave starving.

Despite all the claims that chemicals used in farming are bad for us, it turns out cancer rates have dropped 15 percent since farmers began using chemicals. How is that possible? Well it’s mainly due to people being able to afford more fruits and vegetables, because the chemicals allow more to be grown. That’s one reason the average life expectancy in the US went up by almost 10 years between 1950 and 2000.

As for the environment, it turns out organic farming has its own issues. Because it is much less efficient, there is actually a shortage of organic food available. This leads to people having the food shipped in from much further away. We’re no scientists, but we think that doing things like shipping organic milk 900 miles over the highway in a truck belching diesel fumes is probably canceling out any environmental benefits you might have gained from going organic.

Oh, and did we mention organic farming uses a lot of manure to fertilize crops? This results in a greater risk of contamination. Although organic produce only accounts for one percent of the food supply, it accounts for eight percent of the E. coli cases in the U.S.

Basically, you are at greater risk of eating a s**t sandwich, which is admittedly organic, but still.

Check out the others.

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Immigration Debate Today

We are participating, later today, in a debate on immigration sponsored by the Les Aspin Council.

The liberals on the panel with be Ed Fallone, a professor at the law school, and Barbara Graham, an immigration lawyer for Catholic Charities.

The conservatives will be us and State Senator Glenn Grothman (R)from West Bend.

It will be in Raynor Libraries Conference Center, Rooms B & C, at 5:30 this afternoon.

We expect a rather vigorous debate.

Our position will be simple: nothing makes any sense unless we control the border. Control the border, and everything else eventually falls into place sensibly. Fail to control the border, and the problem continues.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Women Drivers

Yes, we know feminists are offended by the notion that women drivers are poor ones. But watch all the way until the end.

video

Eric Holder: Race Hustling

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Attorney General Eric Holder may get the dialogue on race that he called for Wednesday in a speech marking African American History Month. But the terms he offered are likely to promote division more than unity.

Holder’s speech demonstrated the contradictions that doom these dialogues before they start. The most quoted - and dumbest - line from his speech is, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been, and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

If Americans don’t talk enough about race, it’s because they’ve learned from long experience that such efforts are often futile. If no action is ever enough, how could words help? At the end of almost any dialogue, Americans know the refrain will remain: We still have a long way to go.

The implication is that we still have widespread, deep-seated racial hatred in this country. Not so. Actually, our remaining differences on race have little to do with legal barriers to equality or opportunity. The debate today is about the means of achieving racial parity, not the end itself.

Holder addressed one of those means, affirmative action, in his speech. He said there can be “very legitimate debate” on the issue - “nuanced, principled, and spirited.” But too often, he said, the conversation is “simplistic and left to those on the extremes.”

I’m guessing that the “extremes” include people who oppose race-based policies such as affirmative action. That was the view of the Clinton administration, which made much of its national dialogue on race, but whose distinguished commission included no one who had fundamental disagreements with the use of racial preferences.

In other words, let’s have an “honest and open” dialogue on race, but don’t bring up certain views, or you will be labeled an extremist - i.e., racist. This is about the convener’s photo-op, not your concerns.

Holder takes this model further. Now, if you fail to join the chat under the stated preconditions, you’re a coward, too.
The simple fact is that an “honest and open” discussion of race is something that liberals don’t want.

Such an honest and open discussion would raise issues they don’t want discussed. It might involve discussing the decline of family structure in the black community. It might involve discussing high levels of crime committed by blacks.

Liberals will do their best to silence discussion of these issues, as some Marquette students have learned when they tried to raise such issues in classes.

Simple fact: an open and honest discussion would put liberals on the defensive. That’s why it’s the last thing in the world they want.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cry About Your Future

Climate Control Rent Seekers

From FrontPage Magazine, a list of good reasons to be skeptical of anthropogenic global warming:
We’ve all read and heard about shrinking polar ice, receding mountain glaciers, endangered polar bears and a variety of other environmental phenomena that supposedly reflect the allegedly harmful effects of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Alarmists have tried to induce the public to think that simply because the Arctic ice cap has shrunk on our watch, for example, then industrialized man must have caused it. The reason they do this is because they have been unable to prove their fundamental contention in the global warming debate - that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases drive global climate - despite the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars on climate research over the last 25 years.

Here are three indisputable scientific facts about climate that are sufficient on their own to throttle any claims of manmade global warming. First, we know from studies of Antarctic ice that, over the last 650,000 years or so, warmer temperatures have preceded increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by hundreds, if not thousands of years. The ice studies indicate that the carbon-dioxide-causes-global warming theory is precisely backwards.

Second, during the 20th century, there is simply no correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature. Not only did most of the century’s temperature rise occur before most of the century’s manmade greenhouse gas emissions, but during 1940-1975 global temperatures actually declined while atmospheric carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide emission levels steadily increased.

Finally, the ultimate test of a scientific theory is whether it has predictive value. We used Newton’s laws of physics, for example, to land men on the moon. Unfortunately, there are no climate models that predict trends and changes in global climate with any degree of accuracy. Think about the recent failures with hurricane season predictions or even the risk of relying on what your local weatherman predicts for tomorrow’s weather - and you’ll start to get an idea of how far away science is from predicting global climate 10, 50 and 100 years from now.
So what is the impetus behind government’s move, under Obama, toward massively expensive policies to combat something that probably doesn’t exist?
You may be surprised to learn that it’s not only or even mostly due to the persuasiveness and persistence of environmental activists. After all, how many people really believe Al Gore and Greenpeace? Ironically, we’re in crushing jaws of global warming regulation thanks to big business and other rent-seekers, including Gore, who hope to profit from new laws.

Leading the lobbying charge on Capitol Hill is the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a big business-environmental activist group coalition that is urging Congress to enact a so-called cap-and-trade bill. Under such legislation, Congress would issue permits to emit greenhouse gases (also called “carbon credits”) to electric utility companies and other major emitters. The permits represent more than mere regulation since they have monetary value and are tradable among emitters. An electric utility, say, that emits more greenhouse gases than it has permits for, would be forced to purchase additional permits from another utility that had excess permits. Under cap-and-trade, Congress would issue more than one trillion dollars worth of permits over the programs first ten years - so there’s a lot of money at stake. Who’s set to profit from all this?

Manufacturing companies and USCAP members like Alcoa, Dow Chemical and Dupont want Congress to award them free carbon credits for actions they’ve taken since 1992 to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. - like moving manufacturing operations to other countries. They’ve not reduced their emissions so much as they’ve displaced them.

Other USCAP members include electric utilities like Exelon, Florida Power & Light, and NRG Energy. They use emission-free nuclear power to generate much of their electricity and anticipate having extra carbon credits that they can sell at high prices to major greenhouse gas emitters like coal burning utilities. Wall Street is also a big proponent of cap-and-trade in anticipation of investing in and facilitating the trading of carbon credits. Goldman Sachs, for example, owns part of the Chicago Climate Exchange and European Climate Exchange where carbon credits would be traded.

Many would-be climate profiteers don’t care so much about cap-and-trade per se as they do any legislation that would mandate America’s switch to new and more expensive forms of energy production and energy efficiency. USCAP member General Electric, for example, wants to sell wind turbines, pricey equipment for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired utilities and high-priced but more energy-efficient industrial and consumer products. Al Gore is a partner in the venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins which, as described in a New York Times Magazine cover story hopes to make billions of dollars of profits off global warming legislation.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Skunk By Any Other Name

Gay “Censorship?”

Consider the following story from Pink News:
A local television station in the United States has pulled a one hour programme paid for by a notoriously homophobic “family” group.
“Homophobic” here, of course, simply means “Christian.”
The American Family Association (AFA) had paid for airtime on WOOD-TV in Michigan to screen Speechless: Silencing the Christians.

It claims to “reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation and religious freedom.”

WOOD-TV General Manager Diane Kniowski said earlier this week that it would not run the AFA programme this Saturday as planned.

“Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else’s fight,” she said.

“Ours was a fair offer and we are removing ourselves from this matter.”

The programme, which is available online, claims hate crimes laws target preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality, gays play a key role to play in the spread of all STDs and HIV/AIDS and employment protection based on sexual orientation will force churches to hire homosexuals.
Of course, all of this is true, if politically incorrect to mention.
The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organisation, had urged its members to contact the station and ask that they pull the programme.
The same website trumpets “McDonald’s defiant as homophobes call for boycott,” obviously happy that the fast food giant is resisting a boycott from the American Family Association.

So while they are bringing pressure to bear on a Michigan TV station, they are happy that another company is paying little heed to pressure brought from the other side.

In fact, the article on McDonald’s complains that the AFA has “advocated censorship of print and electronic media.” This from an organization that advocates censorship of print and electronic media.

We, in fact, think that anybody has a right to buy from, or refuse to buy from, anybody they want. If you don’t like the policies of a company, you have a right to shop elsewhere. If you don’t like what a TV station shows, you can switch the channel.

It’s only really censorship when government is involved, and the gay lobby is happy to get government involved in trying to shut up opinions they don’t like, via “hate speech” laws.

In fact, private markets provide a strong incentive for business enterprises to avoid controversy and not get far outside the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable. For example, Pink News complains that:
Last year in a dramatic u-turn Wal-Mart, the largest grocer in the US and the second largest in the world, stepped back from the active support it was previously giving to gay-rights groups.

The AFA threatened to boycott Wal-Mart’s next big sales period and condemned the blanket support it offered to gay-friendly business initiatives.
And further complains that “Heniz [sic] shrugs off gay boycott with soaring sales figures.” Heinz had shown a commercial with two men kissing. In the wake of complaints Heinz explained:
The advertisement was intended to be humorous, not designed to cause offence to anyone.

Clearly it failed in its intent to amuse and that is why we took the decision to withdraw it.
Bottom line: the next time somebody accuses somebody on the other side of the ideological spectrum of engaging in “censorship,” look around and you are likely to see them rooting for exactly the same kind of “censorship” from their own side.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Run Wild

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The Kind of Health Care Obama Wants To Impose on the Nation

Via Modern Commentaries, an article from the Wall Street Journal on what socialized medicine has meant in Canada. Some tidbits:
  • In Ontario, Lindsay McCreith was suffering from headaches and seizures yet faced a four and a half month wait for an MRI scan in January of 2006. Deciding that the wait was untenable, Mr. McCreith did what a lot of Canadians do: He went south, and paid for an MRI scan across the border in Buffalo. The MRI revealed a malignant brain tumor.

    Ontario’s government system still refused to provide timely treatment, offering instead a months-long wait for surgery. In the end, Mr. McCreith returned to Buffalo and paid for surgery that may have saved his life. He’s challenging Ontario’s government-run monopoly health-insurance system, claiming it violates the right to life and security of the person guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • Shona Holmes, another Ontario court challenger, endured a similarly harrowing struggle. In March of 2005, Ms. Holmes began losing her vision and experienced headaches, anxiety attacks, extreme fatigue and weight gain. Despite an MRI scan showing a brain tumor, Ms. Holmes was told she would have to wait months to see a specialist. In June, her vision deteriorating rapidly, Ms. Holmes went to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where she found that immediate surgery was required to prevent permanent vision loss and potentially death. Again, the government system in Ontario required more appointments and more tests along with more wait times. Ms. Holmes returned to the Mayo Clinic and paid for her surgery.

  • On the other side of the country in Alberta, Bill Murray waited in pain for more than a year to see a specialist for his arthritic hip. The specialist recommended a “Birmingham” hip resurfacing surgery (a state-of-the-art procedure that gives better results than basic hip replacement) as the best medical option. But government bureaucrats determined that Mr. Murray, who was 57, was “too old” to enjoy the benefits of this procedure and said no. In the end, he was also denied the opportunity to pay for the procedure himself in Alberta. He’s heading to court claiming a violation of Charter rights as well.
Of course, one might argue that the liberals and leftists who favor socialized medicine are themselves at risk in the same way as ordinary citizens.

But they are not.

In any massive bureaucratic system there are enclaves that provide decent service for people who know how to play the bureaucratic game, who have connections and also have the ability to raise hell if they get poor quality care.

Thus, socialized medicine is really something that they want to impose on us.

In principle, it’s just like forcing people to have a smaller “carbon footprint,” while the liberal elitists are using a massive amount of electricity and jetting around the country in private jets.

Politics in America really has resolved itself into a battle between the liberal New Class that wants to dictate peoples’ lifestyles and ordinary Americans who still hold to the notion that they live in a free country.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Bush Vindicated on Wiretaps

When Barack Obama, at his inauguration, took a smarmy swipe at President Bush on the issue of the “rule of law,” he did what liberals typically do.

He assumed that the law means what he wants it to mean.

But Bush, not Obama, was right about the law, at least according to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review.

From the Wall Street Journal:
Ever since the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was exposed in 2005, critics have denounced it as illegal and unconstitutional. Those allegations rested solely on the fact that the Administration did not first get permission from the special court created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Well, as it happens, the same FISA court would beg to differ.

In a major August 2008 decision released yesterday in redacted form, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, the FISA appellate panel, affirmed the government’s Constitutional authority to collect national-security intelligence without judicial approval. The case was not made public before yesterday, and its details remain classified. An unnamed telecom company refused to comply with the National Security Agency’s monitoring requests and claimed the program violated the Fourth Amendment’s restrictions on search and seizure.

But the Constitution bans only “unreasonable” search and seizure, not all searches and seizures, and the Fourth Amendment allows for exceptions such as those under a President’s Article II war powers. The courts have been explicit on this point. In 1980, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held in Truong that “the Executive need not always obtain a warrant for foreign intelligence surveillance.” The FISA appeals court said in its 2002 opinion In re Sealed Case that the President has “inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information” and took “for granted” that “FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”
Of course, the Clinton administration claimed the authority of conduct searches connected with national security without a warrant.

But the media somehow didn’t remember this when it went ballistic over Bush’s supposed “illegal” wiretapping.

Lesson: the law doesn’t necessarily mean what you want it to mean. To use the concept “rule of law” to bash somebody who simply disagrees with you on policy is the ultimate show of contempt for that concept.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Indoctrination at Marquette: Communications 167 -- Race and Gender Issues in Mass Media

Another post that’s not news: a “diversity” course at Marquette that is one-sided indoctrination. A course which, like all politically correct courses, divides all Americans into two groups: “victim” groups and “oppressor” groups. Of course, all claims of victimhood are to be accepted at face value, else one risks being called a “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobe.”

Following is a short critique from a student in the course.
Given how much Marquette students already pay for tuition, it is a true shame many are forced to take ridiculous cultural sensitivity courses like Comm 167 -- Race and Gender Issues in Mass Media. Communication students are required to either take this course or one of similar content—both which aim to indoctrinate students on the evils of racial stereotyping and white “privilege” in the media. No one denies that racial stereotyping has occurred in the media, but this course takes aim at people typically ridiculed by the academic left – white, free market, capitalists.

The course is designed to deconstruct modern media in light of corporate interests that are often demonized as selfish and insensitive to “minority” interests. The class is structured into mainly in three parts: videos, lectures, and discussion. Special-interest propaganda videos are shown every 90 minutes class period and take most of class time. Any time that is left is typically lecture by the instructor, who essentially reinforces the ideals propagated in the video. Little room is left for discussion. The biggest problem with the course is a lack of independent thought and actual learning.

Most students sit in class, lapping up what the videos offer and then listen and agree with the instructor. Independent thought is not encouraged. Discussion in class occurs, but only politically correct ideas and comments are welcomed. Most importantly, this course does not teach communication students anything. It is a required seminar that does not edify or improve the skill set of any student. I understand the need for well-rounded and ethically trained professionals. But this course is more politically motivated, and does not offer solutions to the problems it poses. Students would be better served to be required to take a course that might actually be useful and pertinent to their field of study, without the politically-correct propaganda.
A careful examination of the course syllabus, and the books and videos used in the course shows this analysis to be exactly on target.

The course is dominated by biased videos in every class session, and nothing but politically correct leftist readings are assigned.

We asked the student where any consideration was given to the stereotyping of politically-incorrect groups – groups presumed to have evil attitudes. Specifically, we asked:

Did the course ever deal with:

  1. Stereotyping of devout and conservative Catholics?
  2. Stereotyping of fundamentalist Christians?
  3. Black racism toward whites?
  4. Feminist stereotyping of men as sexist?
  5. Stereotyping of Southerners?
  6. Stereotyping of working class people? (As in “All in the Family” or the movie “Joe”)
  7. Stereotyping business executives?
The student replied:
There is really the only one exception to your list. To note, big business and corporations were extensively criticized for controlling all media that has such a (in the views of our texts) detrimental affect on society. We often discussed how old, white, men controlled the corporations that owned the media and what is why the media is so inconsiderate of other racial and ethnic groups.
In other words, “old white men” who are business executives were constantly stereotyped!

Of course, these old white business executives are the media elite that overwhelming supported Obama. Not only are the mainstream news media composed almost entirely of liberals (by at least a 9 to 1 ratio) but the entertainment elite in Hollywood is a huge cash cow for every liberal candidate and cause.

But in “Communications 167, Race, Gender in Media,” they aren’t sufficiently politically correct.

The readings for the course followed precisely the politically correct template.

Politically Correct Principle 1: Claims of Grievance Are Not to Be Questioned

Politically correct people are rigidly opposed to critically examining any claim of grievance.

One is never allowed to ask “is this really a bad thing, or are activists going bonkers over something trivial?” Nothing in the reading assignments or the videos shown in the class encourages any student to ask this question.

Consider, for example, the Frito Bandito, used to advertise the corn chips in the late 60s and early 70s. In the course text Racism, Sexism, and the Media (Third Edition), it is noted that the ads used “visual and language stereotypes” and that “Latino activists” protested the ads (p. 147).

Was this really a demeaning stereotype? Does presenting Robin Hood with an English accent demean the English? Given the tendency, in many cultures, to romanticize bandits and robbers like Robin Hood, Jesse James and Bonny and Clyde, it’s hard to see how this was something to get upset about.

But such critical analysis is not encouraged in Communications 167. Indeed, the instructor, Prof. Ana Garner, admits it is “rare.”

Likewise, on the following page of the text (148), it is claimed that “advertisers have also used images of Asian Pacific Americans that cater to the fears and stereotypes of White America.” The example given is a “Got Milk” ad showing Asian American actress Zhang Ziyi slicing a milk bottle in two with a karate chop. Is this really offensive?

From a feminist standpoint, one could claim that showing a strong female martial arts persona is a good thing. And of course, these stereotyped Asian martial arts characters are the heros of a vast number of movies. Is this stereotyping? Yes. Is it oppressive? Only if one believes that anything related to cultural differences has to be sanitized out of media portrayals.

Racism, Sexism, and the Media vigorously opposes the notion that minorities need to assimilate to prevailing U.S. cultural patterns. But then it seems to insist that any portrayal of cultural differences is evil “stereotyping.”

The attempt to find grievances goes on and on in this tendentious and rigidly politically correct textbook.

On page 199, for example, it shows a Sports Illustrated cover with a gorgeous Latina, and claims “Sixy, Sizzling, Bikini-clad Latinas perpetuate the ‘fiery’ stereotype. . . .” But just how does Sports Illustrated treat gorgeous Anglo women? And is “fiery” (essentially: “passionate”) actually a bad thing? Feminists, of course, slam Sports Illustrated for treating women as “sex objects.” This is doubtless true, but it isn’t a legitimate ethnic grievance, since the magazine is an equal opportunity objectifier.

In this context, the text mentions a 2001 New York Times article (that’s right, the liberal New York Times) written by one Ruth La Ferla (that’s right, an Hispanic writer) titled “Latino Style Is Cool. Oh, All Right: It’s Hot.” This was supposed to be offensive. Latinos are not, apparently, supposed to be presented as distinguishable from Anglos. But then, assimilation is bad in the wacky world of these politically correct ideologues.

Politically Correct Principle 2: Even the Most Benign Things Can Be Made Into a Grievance

The authors point out that “. . . advertisers have actually helped bring recognition to important dates, events, and people in the live of people of color. But advertisers also make culture a commercial commodity by piggybacking their advertising on the recognition of such events, leaders, and heroes. People or actions that in their time represented protests against slavery, oppression, and discrimination are now used to sell products.” (p. 166)

And why not? Advertisers are happy to latch onto any holiday to try to sell products. Given the orgy of commercialism that Christmas is, should one get upset if some advertiser uses a Martin Luther King theme in an ad?

Politically Correct Principle 3: Never Question the Activists

There is never any shortage of claims of grievance from activists who claim to represent this or that victim group. But of course, quite frequently the activists don’t represent whom they claim to represent.

The clearest example of this is the use of American Indian nicknames for athletic teams. The authors of Racism, Sexism, and the Media lament that “Native Americans and others have long protested the marketing of these racial team names and images. . . .” (p. 148)

But in this case, polling of actual American Indians (not the grievance mongering activists) has been done, and it seems that rank-and-file American Indians see nothing wrong with Indian team names. A national survey commissioned by Sports Illustrated found that 81% of Indians opposed high schools and colleges dropping Indian team names (S. L. Price, “The Indian Wars,” Sports Illustrated, March 2, 2002). And 90% of American Indians in a University of Pennsylvania poll had no objection to the team name “Redskins.”

Of course, nothing in the textbook nor other course material raises questions like this. If ethnic activists have a grievance, you are supposed to accept it at face value. Don’t ask whether rank-and-file Hispanics really minded the Frito Bandito or whether Latina women object to being portrayed as “hot.”

Politically Correct Principle 4: Distort Facts if Necessary

Distorting media content to fit the standard grievance template is standard in courses like this, since getting the facts straight might water down the politically correct message. When the text takes out after “Gone With the Wind” it claims that “Blacks played the happy, faithful, and sometimes lazy slaves.” Further, under a photo from the movie, it claims that “Hollywood usually depicted Black slaves as being delighted with their servile roles.” (pp. 80-82).

But in fact, when Scarlet returns to Tara from Atlanta, she finds all the slaves besides the house servants gone. She asks “Where are the other servants, Mammie?” The reply: “Miss Scarlet, there’s only me and Paul left. The others moved off during the war and ran away.”

And Mammie, rather than being some sort of inferior person, is described by Rhett Butler as “one of the few people whose respect I’d like to have.”

It’s most certainly true that Mammie is faithful (this is supposed to be bad?). It’s also the case that she is perhaps the most formidable character in the film. Especially when most of the whites in the film (and some of the blacks) are airheads.

Politically Correct Principle 5: You Can Interpret Everything Two Different Ways

While we are discussing “Gone With the Wind,” we might note that racial political correctness is not the only way to approach it. A volume titled Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies (Henry Holt, 1995), analyzes the movie from the standpoint of gender political correctness (rather than racial political correctness) and lauds it, since Scarlet O’Hara is portrayed as a “strong woman!” But in a text whose theme is that minorities are always the victims of the media, this interpretation doesn’t fit.

Politically Correct Principle 6: It’s Fine to Stereotype Politically Incorrect Groups

As we have discussed above, no objection is raised in the course to stereotyping politically incorrect groups – groups presumed to have bad political opinions. The text Racism, Sexism, and the Media explicitly discusses “All In the Family,” and offers a lengthy treatment of whether it “reduced prejudice,” but says nothing about what should be the most obvious thing about the show: it was a vicious stereotype of a working class man.

Politically Correct Principle 7: The Victim Groups Keep Changing

Sometimes groups can be politically correct victims, but lose that status when they become stereotyped as having the wrong political views. There is absolutely no mention in Racism, Sexism, and the Media of Catholics as victims of stereotyping, nor of Jews. But both groups have been victims of discrimination, sometimes severe. (In the case of the Holocaust, as severe as one can imagine.)

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Catholics have lost their victim status because they are stereotyped as opposing abortion and gay marriage, and Jews because they are stereotyped as supporting Israel. One could claim, of course, that both groups have done well in American society, and thus no longer qualify for victim status. But Racism, Sexism, and the Media treats Asians as victims, in spite of their success and prosperity.

Politically Correct Principle 8: It’s Alright to Stereotype, if it Serves Our Political Agenda

The authors complain that “The media coverage of people of color has often focused on the bizarre or unusual elements of minority communities, such as youth gangs, illegal immigration, or interracial violence . . . . resulted in a new stereotype of racial minorities as problem people.” (p. 29)

Another book assigned for the course (Gender, Race, and Class in Media, Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. 2nd ed) claims “every word and image of such programmes are impregnated with unconscious racism because they are all predicated on the unstated and unrecognized assumption that the blacks are the source of the problem.”

But politically correct people are fine with discussing pathologies in the black inner city, so long as they can use such rhetoric to promote their agenda. They are happy to recite a dire litany of problems so long as the “solution” is more spending on government programs, more affirmative action and (absurdly) more lenient treatment of criminals.

But when this intense coverage leads to politically incorrect ideas – questioning whether social programs have done much good, or whether blacks themselves ought to act more responsibly – all of a sudden we have racist stereotyping going on.

It Gets Really Bizarre

The last book we mentioned, (Gender, Race, and Class in Media, Eds. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. 2nd ed) is even further out than other course material. For example, one of the authors is a hard-left Marxist named Stuart Hall.

And then there is Kristal Brent Zook, whose claim to fame is writing three sympathetic articles about the “victim” in the Duke Lacrosse rape case. In fact, of course, the “victim” was a slut who was mentally disturbed and lied to police and prosecutors.

The rhetoric here is the dense and arcane babble of the academic hard-left, such as:
“As the negative of the denigrating [minority] images sketched above, there emerges a top-dog position, whose profile is approximately as follows: white, western, civilized, male, adult, urban, middle-class, heterosexual, and so on. It is this profile that has monopolized the definition of humanity in mainstream western imagery. It is a programme of fear for the rest of the world population” (Jan Nederveen Pieterse – “White Negroes” p. 114).
And of course, an author who blames black sexism on whites:
“The assertion of black male subjectivity achieves its most problematic manifestation over the bodies of women. In order to understand this phenomenon, we first must think about black masculinity in relation to white masculinity. It is, in fact, a sense of powerlessness in the face of white masculinity, and the fear of being pimped at the hands of the wealthy white recording moguls, that guides the hyper-masculinist moment, and the heterosexist moment as racial anxiety is articulated through a patriarchal lens when fear of being ‘bitched’ finds artistic expression.” (Imani Perry – “Who(se) Am I? The Identity and Image of Women in Hip-Hop”)


Barbie a Lesbian?

An almost comedic essay in the Dines and Humez text deals with Barbie. Oddly, it had both good and bad things to say.

It notes the “heterosexualization” of young females, who from junior high on are taught to place “a boy or young man at the center of their lives.” But on the other hand many features of Barbie render her sexuality ambiguous and allow her to bridge the world of “lesbigay sexualities” with the world in which “heterocentrism and heterosexism prevail in no uncertain terms.” Further, this ambiguous sexuality allows “room for ‘queer’ interpretations” a further step in “mass culture’s power to define, commodify, and mutate sexual identity.” (Mary F. Rogers – “Hetero Barbie?”)

We bet you never thought of that!

We haven’t even gotten around to describing the videos that students are required to watch – videos that occupy the majority of class time. They are, without exception, on the same wavelength as the readings.

Ana Gartner Responds

Prof. Ana Gartner kindly returned our phone call, and was willing to discuss the points we have raised.

She insisted that in class she does talk about stereotyping of working class whites. She did not remember talking about bias against Southerners, and when asked whether she talks about bias against conservative Catholics, she insisted course activities “don’t talk about religion.”

She insisted she talks about “stereotyping of both genders,” but also admitted that she talks about the white male ownership of the media, because it’s “relevant.” We asked her about the liberal politics of the media elite, and she insisted that’s often not relevant, since the media are “market driven.”

Of course, if this is true, the race and gender of the owners is irrelevant.

We asked her whether black prejudice against whites is ever discussed. She said it is “some semesters.” She said she “can’t say” whether there is more prejudice against blacks than against whites in the media. She insisted that students “do argue that” when we asked whether a student might ever question the offensiveness of the Frito Bandito or the stereotype of a “hot Latina.”

Gartner explained for us her ideas about how various groups might be complicit in their own “subordination.” She gave the example of the “Dating Game” with “one guy and all these women making fools of themselves.” She would not commit herself on whether men “make fools of themselves” in the media more often than women. But if she really believes that the media “subordinate” women, her answer should have been “yes.”

She pointed out that students do their own projects, analyzing media, based on the readings they have been assigned. She insisted that “readings are designed to promote discussion.” I asked how often they come back with conclusions contrary to the “minorities as victims” thrust of their readings. Her answer: “Frankly, not very often.”

She claimed “I don’t go into this class purporting one view over the other.” This, unfortunately, is hard to square with the content of the textbooks and videos used in the course.

Garner is doubtless sincere when she claims to want to “promote discussion” and that various views are welcome in her class.

The problem is that the content of the course is so badly stacked that students apparently do what students are prone to do: play the game the way the professor wants it played, and not make waves. The net result is stifling orthodoxy, whatever Garner’s intentions.

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For the Faculty, It’s 1968

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Obama and Foreign Policy: Following in the Footsteps of Jimmy Carter

From Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe:
EARLY IN HIS PRESIDENCY, Jimmy Carter set about to alter US policy toward the Soviet Union. Six days after his inauguration he sent a letter to Soviet ruler Leonid Brezhnev, hailing the two countries’ “common efforts towards formation of a more peaceful, just, and humane world” and saluting Brezhnev’s supposed “aspiration for strengthening and preserving . . . peace.” In a commencement address at Notre Dame, he declared that Americans had shed “that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear.” In the months that followed, Carter slashed the defense budget, scrapped the B-1 bomber, welcomed the takeover of Nicaragua by a Marxist junta, and launched diplomatic relations with the Castro dictatorship in Cuba.

Carter’s failure to understand the threat posed by the Soviet Empire had costly consequences for America and the world. Will this pattern now be repeated with Barack Obama and the global threat from radical Islam?

Ever since taking office two weeks ago, Obama has been at pains to proclaim a change in US-Muslim relations. In his inaugural address he invited “the Muslim world” to embark on “a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” Six days later he gave Al-Arabiya, an Arabic-language satellite channel, his first televised interview as president. This week he continued his charm offensive with a friendly letter to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents 57 Muslim governments. He has promised to deliver a major address in an Islamic capital by spring.

The president cannot be faulted for using his bully pulpit to reach out to the world’s Muslims, especially given his Muslim roots and family ties. But running through Obama’s words is a disconcerting theme: that US-Muslim tensions are a mostly recent phenomenon brought on largely by American provincialism, heavy-handedness, and disrespect. Missing is any sense that the United States has long been the target of jihadist fanatics who enjoy widespread support in the Muslim world.

“My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy,” Obama said, although “we sometimes make mistakes” and “have not been perfect,” and even though “too often the United States starts by dictating” and fails to use “the language of respect.”

Such apologetic pandering is inexcusable. For decades, as commentator Charles Krauthammer noted last week, “America did not just respect Muslims, it bled for them.” To liberate oppressed Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Americans risked -- and in many cases lost -- their lives.

Even more troubling is Obama’s seeming cluelessness about US-Muslim history.

“The same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago -- there’s no reason why we can’t restore that,” the president said on Al-Arabiya.

Well, let’s see. Twenty years ago, in 1989, American hostages were being tortured by their Hezbollah captors in Beirut and hundreds of grief-stricken families were in mourning for their loved ones, murdered by Libyan terrorists as they flew home for Christmas on Pan Am Flight 103. Thirty years ago, in 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran, proclaimed America “the Great Satan” and inspired his acolytes to seize the US embassy and hold scores of Americans hostage for nearly 15 months. That same year Islamist mobs destroyed the US embassies in Pakistan and Libya, and staged anti-American riots in other countries.
Obama, like Carter, is simply your garden variety liberal. As such, he believes that if we have any enemies it’s our fault that they don’t like us. It couldn’t possibly be that there are evil people in the world (like Communists and radical jihadists) who hate us because of our superior institutions and belief system. Rather, our institutions and belief system are (at best) no better than others, or (more typically) inferior.

Thus, all one needs is to “understand” the point of view of our enemies, and “dialogue” with them.

Ronald Reagan was willing to “dialogue” with Communists, but only from a position of strength, and with the clear understanding that Communism was an evil philosophy and that the Cold War was their fault. Which is why he was a great president, and Carter is an object of ridicule.

Jacoby concludes:
The global jihad, like the Cold War, will only end when our enemies lose their will to fight -- or when we do. Let us hope [Obama’s] a quicker study than Jimmy Carter.
There is no evidence he will be.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

More Intolerance of Christians in the Secular U.K.

From the BBC:
A Christian nurse from Weston-super-Mare has been suspended for offering to pray for a patient’s recovery.

Community nurse Caroline Petrie, 45, says she asked an elderly woman patient during a home visit if she wanted her to say a prayer for her.

The patient complained to the health trust about Mrs Petrie who follows the Baptist faith.

She was suspended, without pay, on 17 December and will find out the outcome of her disciplinary meeting next week.

Power of prayer

Mrs Petrie, who carries out home visits in North Somerset, said she had asked the patient if she would like a prayer said for her after she had put dressings on the woman’s legs.

The patient, believed to be in her 70s, refused and Mrs Petrie insists that she left the matter alone.

The sick woman contacted the trust about the incident and Mrs Petrie was challenged by her superiors.

Mrs Petrie said: “The woman mentioned it to the sister who did her dressing the following day. She said that she wasn’t offended but was concerned that someone else might be.

“I saw my patients suffering and as I believe in the power of prayer, I began asking them if they wanted me to pray for them. They are absolutely delighted.”

A spokesman for North Somerset Primary Care Trust said: “Caroline Petrie has been suspended pending an investigation into the matter.
Again, as is the case so often, Christian speech is forbidden speech.

It’s true, of course, that some atheist might object to an offer of prayer. But then, a Christian might very much appreciate the offer. Do the prejudices of atheists outweigh the good felt by those (far more numerous, even in the U.K.) who welcome the offer?

It seems that the sensitivity of a few atheists who might object trumps the free speech rights of Christian employees.

And if we are going to be so terribly “sensitive,” why is utter insensitivity toward Christians -- indeed hostility toward the Christian faith -- OK? Why are atheists free of the burden of hearing expressions they might disagree with, but not Christians?

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