Friday Ephemera
Friday Ephemera

Elsewhere (59)

Mark Steyn notes a standard media narrative:

The killer of French schoolchildren and soldiers turns out to be a man called Mohammed Merah. The story can now proceed according to time-honoured tradition. Stage One: The strange compulsion to assure us that the killer is a “right wing conservative extremist,” in the words of NRO commenter ExpatAsia. […] The insistence that the killer was emblematic of an epidemic of right-wing hate sweeping the planet is, regrettably, no longer operative. Instead, the killer isn’t representative of anything at all.

So on to Stage Two: Okay, he may be called Mohammed but he’s a “lone wolf.” Sure, he says he was trained by al-Qaeda, but what does he know? Don’t worry, folks, he’s just a lone wolf like Major Hasan and Faisal Shahzad and all the other card-carrying members of the Amalgamated Union of Lone Wolves. All jihad is local. On to Stage Three: Okay, even if there are enough lone wolves around to form their own Radio City Rockette line, it’s still nothing to do with Islam. […]

And then, of course, Stage Four: The backlash that never happens. Because apparently the really bad thing about actual dead Jews is that it might lead to dead non-Jews: “French Muslims Fear Backlash After Shooting.” Likewise, after Major Hasan’s mountain of dead infidels, “Shooting Raises Fears For Muslims In US Army.” Likewise, after the London Tube slaughter, “British Muslims Fear Repercussions After Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.” Oh, no, wait, that’s a parody, though it’s hard to tell.

Oh, and don’t forget the Guardian’s contribution.

George Will on the size and scope of government.

James Q. Wilson, America’s preeminent social scientist, has noted that until relatively recently, “politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything.” Until the 1930s, or perhaps the 1960s, there was a “legitimacy barrier” to federal government activism: When new policies were proposed, the first debate was about whether the federal government could properly act at all on the subject. Today, there is no barrier to the promiscuous multiplication of programmes, because no programme is really new. Rather, it is an extension, modification or enlargement of something government is already doing.

The vicious cycle that should worry [economic adviser, Larry] Summers is the reverse of the one he imagines. It is not government being “cut back” because of disappointments that reinforce themselves. Rather, it is government squandering its limited resources, including the resource of competence, in reckless expansions of its scope. “There has been,” Wilson writes, “a transformation of public expectations about the scope of federal action, one that has put virtually everything on Washington’s agenda and left nothing off.” Try, Wilson suggests, to think “of a human want or difficulty that is not now defined as a ‘public policy problem.’” 

And related to the above, Tim Worstall on Zoe Williams and her suggested jobs of choice:

When the desirable jobs are spending other peoples’ money, reporting on spending other peoples’ money and lobbying to spend other peoples’ money, then you know that the society is fucked.

Feel free to add your own.


carbon based lifeform

Try, Wilson suggests, to think “of a human want or difficulty that is not now defined as a ‘public policy problem.’”

E.g. Sandra Fluke's sex life...

Mr Eugenides

Re: Steyn: I have a bit of trouble with the phrase What’s left of Jewish life in Europe is being extinguished remorselessly, one vandalized cemetery, one subway attack at a time, which I'd say is unfortunate hyperbole. The rest is pretty much spot-on.



You only have to flick through the Guardian to see why it’s surprisingly difficult to think of something that isn’t or couldn’t be interfered with by government. Take Polly Toynbee. Whatever the problem is – from misbehaving children to sedentary gorging - the solution is always to enlarge the state and extend its reach into other people’s lives. At your expense. Don’t forget Toynbee’s insistence that obesity is caused by a lack of socialism: “It is inequality and disrespect that makes people fat.”


Mr E.,

Yes, it’s a tad hyperbolical. But, sadly, not entirely without foundation.


The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read.


You’d think spammers would at least flatter the bloggers whose traffic they hope to filch.


Best spam ever!


Splendid from Mark Steyn on Toulouse.

I haven't all the sources to hand but I understand that the story from the Guardian/BBC went from "Rightwing nutter" to "Frenchman angry about deaths of Palestinian children*"

The Beeb tend not to mention when somebody involved in a crime is a Muslim - to save us from our racist tendencies and general stupidity - but I notice that they had no difficulty with naming a man called Zimmerman involved in a shooting in Florida, that they used to 'balance' the news in typical BBC style.

The impression I get of the BBC is of a) an flagrant bias that contradicts its "impartiality" credo and/or b) such naively incompetent journalism that they don't realise that skewing the news both ways for dubious reasons (as above) is a bias in itself.

* The Beeb were also keen to tell us that Merah was also "protesting against French military interventions overseas"


* The Beeb were also keen to tell us that Merah was also "protesting against French military interventions overseas"

Would one want to protest French military interventions overseas, and were one "angry about the deaths of Palestinian children" I cannot help be agree that murdering French children, of Jewish extraction, would be the perfect way to show it.**

How many anti-psychotics are they currently taking over there in Television Centre? Perhaps they should consider upping the dose in the water coolers.

**As this is the internet I unfortunately feel the need to point out that my "agreement" is entirely sarcastic.


Pack of Lone Wolves...



Re the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin saga, Heather Mac Donald notes the preferred narrative and adds a little perspective:

[New York Times columnist, Charles] Blow went on to claim that it is the “the burden of black boys in America” to be at high risk of being shot by non-blacks: “This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them ‘suspicious.’” Blow is right about one thing: Black boys do face a much higher chance than non-blacks that they will be shot when they are “out in the world.” Black males between the ages of 14 and 24 were seven times more likely to die of homicide in 2007 than white and Hispanic males of the same age group combined. But the danger they face comes overwhelmingly from other black males, whose homicide offending rate in the 14 to 24 age category was nearly ten times higher than that of young white and Hispanic males combined. […]

Blow’s fear that his children will be blown away by a white [person] is particularly ludicrous in New York City. Blacks commit 80 percent of all shootings in the city — as reported by the victims of and witnesses to those shootings — though they are but 23 percent of the population; whites commit 1.4 percent of all shootings, though they are 35 percent of the population. Add Hispanic shootings to the black tally, and you account for 98 percent of all of the city’s gun violence. In New York, as in big cities across the country, the face of violence is overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. […]

[T]he racial storyline that has been imposed on the shooting does not fairly represent contemporary America. That storyline is not just wrong; it is dangerous, because it only feeds black alienation and anger. Family breakdown, not white racism, is the biggest impediment facing blacks today, producing such casualties as the 18-year-old gangbanger who fatally shot a 34-year-old mother picking up her child from school in Brownsville, Brooklyn, last October. Sharpton and the national media didn’t show up for that killing, just as they don’t for the thousands of other black-on-black killings each year. By all means, demand justice for Trayvon Martin. But when that justice comes, as it most surely will, perhaps some small part of the energy devoted to securing it could be redirected towards stigmatizing black criminals and revalorizing the role of fathers in families.

The rest.


"Mr Othman said the BBC ‘has been much more favourable about him in its coverage. That’s what he likes to see.’"

Guess about who?



“The BBC seems to think that Osama Bin Laden’s old mates come somewhere near Simon Hughes or perhaps Peter Tatchell on the political spectrum.”

It’s almost funny. And then I remember we’re paying for it.


Mark Durie Interview regarding Islam


David Gillies

AC1: that Paris Match article is both alarming and sickening. It is clear that France's problem with its Moslem population is not one of 'alienation' but that there now exists an overtly hostile counter-culture, embedded to the point where uprooting it is now virtually impossible without resort to the sort of actions that we all had hoped Europe no longer entertained. This is not the legacy of 'racism' or 'Islamophobia' or whatever weak-tea excuse the multi-cultis would have us believe, but pretty much its exact opposite. A tribal, grievance-ridden underclass has not merely been allowed to emerge, but has been encouraged to do so.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

David Gillies:

I seem to recall when the young immigrants in France were burning cars back in 2005, one of the things the Media Class was telling us was that marginalization leads to violence, and so we must not marginalize immigrants. (Watch also for the catch phrase, "social exclusion".)

After Breivik's violent murders, the Media Class told us that the way to treat people with wrong thoughts about immigrants was that we need to marginalize them more. As if this somehow wouldn't lead to violence.


"Frenchman angry about deaths of Palestinian children"

Those darned Frenchmen, hey? I bet they're still livid about Agincourt too. Oh wait, he wasn't all that French, was he? And the cult he belongs to gets pretty angry over most anything, including girls having the audacity to go to school or women not wearing their scarf all the time or the fact that people dare to tell the truth about their behaviour or... Well, mad about everything you can think of, really.

Anger management courses in Arabic, anyone?



"When the desirable jobs are spending other peoples’ money, reporting on spending other peoples’ money and lobbying to spend other peoples’ money, then you know that the society is fucked."

Well... desirable jobs according to Zoe Williams, anyway, and presumably Grauniad readers. It's one of those strange middle-class western prejudices - as if all those people out there in manufacturing, or trades, or agriculture, are somehow less worthy.

Also: any examples of these other jobs happening near you are bad too. Down with the factories impeding your nice view, the smoke stacks with all their unsightly smoke, even the wind farms. But paradoxically, when the loss of jobs in industry/manufacturing/agriculture are mentioned in the papers, this is bad.

It's bizarre, as if one class of people want to enjoy all the benefits of a modern economy while continuing to insult and ignore the majority of people who make that modern economy work.


OT But it made me laugh.

Reality is finally catching up with an academic charlatan.


Oh, AC1, that's priceless!

"And they have a strong cultural resistance to the influence of outsiders, dubbing all non-Pirahã "crooked heads." They responded to Everett's evangelism with indifference or ridicule."

We could take lessons from them.


John Fund’s piece on Saul Alinsky, whose Rules for Radicals is evidently still in vogue:

Alinsky argued for moral relativism in fighting the establishment: “In war the end justifies almost any means... The practical revolutionary will understand [that] in action, one does not always enjoy the luxury of a decision that is consistent both with one’s individual conscience and the good of mankind.”

And hey, Alinsky’s “social justice” tactics couldn’t possibly go wrong.

Horace Dunn

Thanks AC1, for alerting us to the Ramadan piece. Or maybe not: it hasn’t done my blood pressure much good, Ramadan being such a sly and dishonest writer, as well as unbearably smug and patronising. I particularly marvel at this:

“Religion was not Mohamed Merah’s problem ; nor is politics. A French citizen frustrated at being unable to find his place, to give his life dignity and meaning in his own country, he would find two political causes through which he could articulate his distress : Afghanistan and Palestine.”

Sentence one states: this isn’t about politics.
Sentence two states: this is about politics.

Hmmm. Clever chap that Ramadan. No wonder they gave him a professorship at Oxford.


And speaking of media narratives


Further on the same narrative, New Scientist 17 March, "The God Hypothesis", Victor J. Stenger:

"When faith rules over facts, magical thinking becomes deeply ingrained and warps all areas of life. It produces a frame of mind in which concepts are formulated with deep passion but without the slightest attention paid to the evidence. Nowhere is this more evident than in the US today, when Christians who seek to convert the nation into a theorcacy dominate the Republican party."

Presumably situations such as that in Somalia, where women are routinely stoned for adultery, are a relatively mild example then. I expect when perople come round to Stenger's way of thinking, there will be a mass exodus from the US into the relatively benign climate afforded by the various Islamic dictatorships that are available. After all, anything is better than living in a country where the majority of one major political party subscribe to a single religion. Better by far to be in a regime where homosexuals are sentenced to death by hanging.


Jeff Goldstein spots a little projection.

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