Religion

Elsewhere (151)

Roger Kimball on the unacknowledged charms of Swedish multiculturalism: 

In 1975, the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogeneous Sweden into a multicultural country. Forty years later the dramatic consequences of this experiment emerge: violent crime has increased by 300%. If one looks at the number of rapes, however, the increase is even worse. In 1975, 421 rapes were reported to the police; in 2014, it was 6,620. That is an increase of 1,472%.

Christopher Snowdon on why BBC documentaries aren’t always to be trusted: 

To be clear, nobody is snaffling anybody’s cake. The cake has been getting bigger for all, including those in the rest of the top [income] decile. But whilst inequality has not risen in the nation as a whole, it has risen sharply within the upper echelons. It is not the richest ten per cent who have “pulled away from the pack.” It is the very rich who have pulled away from the rest of the top 10 per cent. It is, then, the upper-middle classes who may feel that they are having their cake scoffed. If so, it may explain why there is currently such a sense of resentment and antipathy from the wealthy (a group that includes politicians, professors, television presenters and BBC editors) towards the very rich.

And Mark Steyn on the blatherings of the Most Clever President Ever: 

“Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding,” says the President. You might think that Islam has been entirely irrelevant to “the fabric of our country” for its first two centuries, and you might further think that Islam, being self-segregating, tends not to weave itself into anybody’s fabric, but instead tends to unravel it - as it’s doing in, say, Copenhagen, where 500 mourners turned up for the funeral of an ISIS-supporting Jew-hating anti-free-speech murderer.

Feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for. 


Elsewhere (147)

Christopher Snowdon on nicotine and the prohibitionist’s dilemma: 

In scenario number two, you are a journeyman public health advocate picking up a nice, steady wage from the government every month. You hold lots of meetings and you go to lots of conferences. You and your colleagues developed a plan of incremental prohibition in the early 1980s and you have it all mapped out… And then something comes along that you didn’t expect. A new product that gives smokers a way to enjoy nicotine without the health risks of smoking cigarettes. You didn’t come up with the idea. The government didn’t come up with the idea. It came from the private sector, and private businesses are making money out of it. Worse still, after a few years of monitoring the market, the tobacco industry buys up a few companies and now they’re making money out of it. Sure, lots of people are giving up smoking as a result, but not in a way that was part of The Plan. Where does this leave you?

Brendan O’Neill on a popular conceit: 

The idea that there is a… culture of hot-headed, violent-minded hatred for Muslims that could be awoken and unleashed by the next terror attack is an invention… The thing that keeps the Islamophobia panic alive is not actual violence against Muslims but the right-on politicos’ ill-founded yet deeply held view of ordinary Europeans, especially those of a working-class variety, as racist and stupid. This is the terrible irony of the Islamophobia panic: The fearers of anti-Muslim violence claim to be challenging prejudice but actually they reveal their own prejudices, their distrust of and disdain for those who come from the other side of the tracks, read different newspapers, hold different beliefs, live different lives.

Thomas Sowell on milking pretentious guilt: 

Our schools and colleges are laying a guilt trip on those young people whose parents are productive, and who are raising them to become productive. What is amazing is how easily this has been done, largely just by replacing the word “achievement” with the word “privilege.”

And again, on the equality racket

And Daniel Hannan chats with some unhappy, scowling socialists:  

Don’t make the mistake of judging socialism as a textbook theory but judging capitalism by its necessarily imperfect outcomes. Judge like with like. In the real world, you find me a functioning socialist country that has delivered more than a free-market alternative.

As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.


Elsewhere (137)

Daniel Greenfield learns of more racism that’s invisible to the sane: 

Are there not enough black people who build ships in bottles? There must be something racist about it. It couldn’t possibly be that black people aren’t as interested in building ships in bottles.

Remember this

Roger Kimball on that pernicious little tool in the White House: 

Just yesterday, the president of the United States… stood before the United Nations and heaped praise on Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a Muslim cleric who has endorsed a fatwa calling for the murder of U.S. soldiers. Yep, Bin Bayyah is Obama’s candidate of the week for the prize of being a “moderate Muslim.”

And Heather Wilhelm weeps at the suffering of “Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women,” Ms Emma Watson: 

While Watson, to her credit, did give a few shout-outs to actual oppression around the globe — child brides and uneducated girls in Africa, specifically, along with an admission that “not all women have received the same rights I have” — her speech [to the U.N.] was an unfortunate reflection of the “we’re all victims,” zero-sense-of-proportion mishmash that makes up modern Western feminism. If you don’t believe me, here is what Emma Watson, Hollywood actress, actually complained about before a body of 192 member states, some which have more terrifying dictatorships than others: 1. She was called “bossy” as a child; 2. She was sexualised by the media as a young movie star; 3. Many of her girlfriends quit their sports teams because they didn’t want to grow muscles.

Now, if, for instance, Ms Watson had directly addressed the representative of each member country in which women really are treated appallingly – and listed that country’s sins in graphic detail – I’d have been more than happy to applaud. But that didn’t happen, and was never going to happen. What we got instead was a piece of flimsy theatre that we’re expected to applaud anyway. It’s the U.N., after all. But it seems to me that if you’re going to use a U.N. gathering to shame backward cultures and their various representatives – shame them into change - it’s best not to appear clownish and morally frivolous while you’re attempting it. And if you want to highlight real oppression in the world – say, women being disfigured by Muhammadan savages – it’s probably best to avoid moaning about having once been called “bossy.”*

Ms Watson’s feminist credentials have been noted here previously

*Added via the comments. Feel free to share your own links and snippets below. 


Then She Set Off the Jollity Klaxon

Meanwhile, in where-to-go-on-that-foreign-holiday news: 

One of the most senior members of the Turkish government sparked an outcry on Tuesday, after declaring that women should not laugh loudly in public. The deputy prime minister, Bülent Arinc, one of the co-founders of the ruling Islamic Justice and Development party (AKP), made the comment while lamenting the moral decline of modern society. “A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent,” Arinc said in a speech on Monday, in the western Bursa region for the Bayram holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. “She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times,” he added.

Mr Arinc also shares his wisdom on other matters.

He denounced the excessive use of cars, saying that if even the “river Nile was filled with petrol” there wouldn’t be enough to go around. Arinc also slammed the excessive use of mobile phones in Turkish society, with women “spending hours on the phone to swap recipes.”

An equally pious Guardian reader adds this

Right up there with… keeping [women] barefoot and pregnant, oh wait, that’s only in America.

Any forcibly barefoot American women are welcome to respond. 


Elsewhere (111)

Via TDK, Theodore Dalrymple on rhetorical leverage and ‘progressive’ self-flattery: 

Professor Lakoff uses the term ‘progressive’ freely. Now there is a framing metaphor if ever there was one. What person of goodwill could possibly be against progress, that is to say betterment of the human condition? So if you are a person in favour of progress – in short, a progressive – only the malevolent could disagree with you.

However, there is a rather large question begged here, namely ‘What is progress?’ There is rarely gain without loss, and loss can easily exceed gain. Human action has unintended and unforeseen consequences, sometimes beneficial, often not. Progress in society is not the same as progress in internet speeds… It is possible for reasonable people to disagree… Yet Professor Lakoff seems to use the term ‘progressive’ as if those he calls progressives brought about progress ex officio, as it were, merely by virtue of their self-designation. This is a form of magical thinking.

I’m reminded of the modesty of Mr George Monbiot, a man who also deploys the word ‘progressive’ as if it were a talisman, and who dismisses his political opponents as dullards struggling with “low intelligence” and racial phobias. 

BenSix on learning to be mute and befuddled: 

These posters and drawing hardly seem to be the stuff of Voltairian pamphlets. They do not renew the liberal flames in me. What should inspire one, though, is the response to them. It is alarming that our national media feels that it cannot publish a drawing of a cartoon man for fear of violent reprisals. If people are scared to show innocuous cartoons, how might they react to a novel that may provoke controversy, or to academic research that might inspire outrage? …If, indeed, Rory Bremner is scared to joke, or Grayson Perry to make art, how many commentators, novelists and scholars have allowed their thoughts to be repressed?

And Jonah Goldberg on hammers, sickles and not saying certain things: 

In its opening video for the Olympic Games, NBC’s producers drained the thesaurus of flattering terms devoid of moral content: “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments. But if politics has long shaped our sense of who they are, it’s passion that endures.” To parse this infomercial treacle is to miss the point, for the whole idea is to luge by the truth on the frictionless skids of euphemism.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.


Elsewhere (95)

Chris Snowdon on booze, sponsorship and publicly subsidised temperance zealots: 

With tiresome predictability, Alcohol Concern says this must all be done for the sake of “children.” There is, it seems, no interference into adult pastimes that cannot be justified in the name of those who are prohibited from engaging in them. For the moral busybody, all the world is a crèche.

Peter Wood ponders the bean-counting world of campus gender equity: 

To be “representative of the student body,” approximately 55% of the 52 Title IX Coordinator positions should have been held by women. But in our sample, 83% are held by women. Likewise, women appear overrepresented in the staff positions of the relevant campus offices, but the level of overrepresentation was less than for the top positions (73.1 percent of the positions are held by women). Considering that the overwhelming preponderance of sexual harassment allegations are directed by women at men, the disproportion of women to men in the positions charged with interpreting and enforcing the sexual harassment rules is a legitimate concern. Are male students who are accused of sexual harassment likely to receive fair-minded treatment in these offices? 

Mark Bauerlein* on do as I say not as I do:

When white male President Mills pledges to press for race-based affirmative action, the right reply is this: “Well, then, sir, you must resign your post immediately and call for Bowdoin to hire a racial or ethnic minority in your place.” Keep it simple and direct. Every white male board member of the ACE should receive a message to step down. Let’s ask white male campus leaders to stand up for their own principles and do the thing they want everybody else to do. When white women acquire a disproportionate number of jobs in campus leadership, yet still call for more diversity, they, too, should be asked to withdraw. This is the logic of affirmative action, and if diversity proponents who are white follow it to its conclusion, they should relinquish their positions as soon as possible. 

Jennifer Kabbany notes the difficulties of gendered nouns:

The University of Leipzig has voted to adopt the feminine version of the word for ‘professor’ as its default. In German, professorin refers to a female professor while professor is the male equivalent. Under the new measures, written documents will use the term Professorinnen when referring to professors in general. A footnote is to explain that male professors are also included in the description. Physics professor Dr Josef Käs suggested the change as a joke because he was becoming weary of extended discussions about gendered language. To his surprise, the university board voted in favour of the idea.

And Theodore Dalrymple on jihad, entitlement and Michael Adebolajo:

It is not true that the society in which he lived offered him no opportunity for personal betterment. Adebolajo was for a time a student at Greenwich University, graduation from which, whatever the real value of the education it offered him, would have improved his chances in the job market, especially in the public sector. But it was at the university that he encountered radical Islam, that ideology that simultaneously succours people with an existential grudge against the world and flatters their inflated and inflamed self-importance. It also successfully squares the adolescent circle: the need both to conform to a peer group and to rebel against society.

As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. [ *Added, via Rafi in the comments. ]


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.


I’ve Locked the Liquor Cabinet

Your host is off in search of blogging mojo. By all means dull the pain by browsing the updated greatest hits

Its intrigues include a brief guide to leftist psychology, a vivid demonstration of pretentious guilt, and a glimpse at what happens when presumption and callousness become badges of feminist virtue. On a loftier note, the arts coverage may be of interest. And there’s plenty to entertain readers who find the comment pages of the Guardian inadvertently hilarious and morally bewildering.

Back in a few days.


Elsewhere (35)

Anton Howes pays a visit to a London squat:  

I had expected people struggling to get by and occupying someone else’s property as a last resort, but the iPods and laptops suggested otherwise… Given they professed to have reclaimed the place for the people, I tried to explore. However, I was stopped when trying to go upstairs: it was apparently “private.” I complained that this surely contradicted the whole justification for occupation but was told, “If you’re going to be like that, you can fuck off then.”

It seems the slogan “property is theft” has quietly been modified to something a little more honest, if scarcely less stupid:  “Your property is theft. Mine is out of bounds.” 

Heresy Corner on blame, condescension and burning Qur’ans:  

One might as well blame the 9/11 hijackers, or the rioters against the Danish cartoons, without whose actions it would never have occurred to Mr Jones that the Qur’an was a book worth burning. By all means criticise the Qur’an-burning if you disapprove of it on grounds such as respect for religion or for the feelings of believers. But to condemn it on the grounds that it incites violence betrays severe moral confusion.

Of the kind explored at length here and here.

And Quentin Letts casts an eye over Arts Council spending:  

In the past five years, the Arts Council, which has been through six restructurings since 1993, has spent more than £300,000 on public opinion research. In 2009, it spent £100,000 on media monitoring and £107,000 on legal fees (down from £455,000 in 2008). Some £50,000 was blown on office Christmas parties in two years. Christmas cards accounted for another £22,000 in 2009. The spending has been like something out of The Great Gatsby. Arts Council buildings cost £2.7 million a year to rent, while latest figures show an annual administration spend of £48 million. Oh, and 20 staff had ‘diversity’ in their job titles last year, while almost 40 had ‘communication’ on their business cards. All of this money has been spent before a single play, a single concert or a single exhibition was staged.

Arts Council chair and noted Guardianista Liz Forgan has taken great exception to Mr Letts’ piece, in particular his reference to the organisation’s “multicultural nomenklatura of senior lieutenants.” As Guido Fawkes notes, Ms Forgan is now demanding “‘sincere and personal apologies’ to the entire Arts Council board and senior management team for suggesting that they might have been token appointments who won their jobs on anything but open competition.” Which may not be the soundest footing for public umbrage, given that the Arts Council and its protégés openly celebrate taxpayer-funded racial favouritism.