Friday, September 30, 2011

Don't confuse me! I'm a girl!

Walt regrets not having space for a larger copy of this ad, which appeared earlier this week in Canada's National [sic] Post. Just click on the ad to enlarge it to a readable size.

This ad, already being panned by the LGBT critics, is directed at next week's election in the province of Ontario. The suggestion is that if the McGuinty Liberals are re-elected, Ontario kids will have the "OKness" of homosexuality and the LGBTQ and other perversions thrown at them as early as Grade 3, following a curriculum first proposed by former Education Minister Kathleen Wynne.

Ms Wynne, a well-known fancier of sushi and sensible shoes, was shuffled into another portfolio following a public outcry over the new pro-queer curriculum. However, she is standing for re-election as Member of Provincial Parliament, and if her party gets back into power, who knows.

A press release from The Institute for Canadian Values, the sponsor of the ad, asks its 52,000 members and like-minded citizens to call on the leaders of the three main parties contesting the Ontario election to commit to removing age inappropriate gender teaching from the school curriculum.

The ICV's President, Charles McVety, said parents across Ontario are outraged children are still being taught these subjects while being forced to do gender role plays and make posters for Gay Pride parades.

If you're an outraged Ontarian, click here to read and sign the IVC's petition. And don't forget to pass it on to other like-minded -- read "straight" -- people.

"Bless you!" - not in Calilfornia!

Quick now. What do you say, without even thinking, when someone sneezes? "God bless you!" Right? No. Not right -- that is, not politically correct -- in Steve Cuckovich's classroom in Vacaville CA.

The teacher has banned his students at Will C. Woods High School from saying "bless you" -- even if God's name isn't invoked --when someone lets one rip. [You need to make it clear you're talking about a sneeze! Ed.] He has gone so far as to lower students' grades if they let a blessing slip past their lips.

And get this. Mr. Kookovich says it has nothing to do with the political correctness plaguing California even more than the rest of the once-Christian country. Here's how he explains himself.

OK, so he's a wingnut. California is full of them. There's a nation-wide network of ultra-PC teachers. [Are you talking about teachers unions? Ed.] And Mr. Cuckovich has since been forced to lift his policy. So who cares?

Well... let's not forget that, while banning "bless you" is certainly a bit extreme, "public" schools in North America and Europe have been forced to phase out religious -- read "Christian" -- artifacts and dress for years now.

France, having banned Christian symbols from its state schools over two centuries ago, outlawed Islamic headscarves and other religious symbols from in 2004. In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Italy to remove all crucifixes from schools. (Italy appealed and won, so the crucifix remains, much to the dismay of the secular humanists.)

In 2002, New York prohibited Nativity scenes from its public school system, while an Ottawa school gained notoriety in 2007 for dropping the word "Christmas" from a rendition of "Silver Bells".

The campaign of the liberals and "progressive thinkers" -- exemplified by Teacher Kookovich -- continues. If this kind of thing outrages you, do what the parents of Vacaville did. Say something! Don't hold your tongue when people are being punished for expressing even a mild belief in the existence of God.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book review: P.J. disappoints

At one time, I was a big fan of P.J. O'Rourke. His writing for National Lampoon -- particularly the 1964 High School Yearbook -- was both highly satirical and hugely funny. His earlier books, notably Holidays in Hell and All the Trouble in the World, made me LOL. They served up of humour, with a side of political commentary. Good stuff, with lots of fun poked at American society and American culture for relish.

At about that time -- the 1980s -- someone called P.J. a "Gonzo journalist", so he started trying to live up [or down? Ed.] to Hunter Stockton Thompson's image. Perhaps the person who hung the tag on P.J. was thinking of "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink", a March 1979 National Lampoon article, since republished twice. But that piece was derivative, clearly inspired by HST's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Being inspired by someone is one thing. Emulating the source of your inspiration is another.

[Get to the new book, please! Ed.] OK OK! My point is that when O'Rourke was trying to be funny, with political and social commentary a secondary goal, he usually succeeded. But when he decided to make political and economic analysis the main point, with humour used as a polemical device, he didn't fare so well.

Parliament of Whores and, more recently, On the Wealth of Nations, were neither funny nor politically effective. Sort of like when Norman Lear got the religion of political correctness. All in the Family was never the same afterwards.

Now we have Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010). I only chanced on it at my local library this week. I don't recall seeing it reviewed or even mentioned in passing in the lamestream media. Perhaps that's because there is very little to be said for or about it.

This latest opus is little more than a collection of quotes from other works on politics and economics, strung together at considerable length. O'Rourke helps himself liberally (in the sense of "freely") to the expressed thoughts of the great classical writers, such as John Locke (really!), Thomas Jefferson and Jane Austen (more really!). Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations (published in 1776) gets no fewer than nine citations in four pages, and that's just in one chapter.

So my first quarrel with this book is that a large part of it was written by others. P.J. must thank God that copyrights don't last forever. O'Rourke himself says, on the first page, that his book "is not too original, and I mean that in a good way. Nothing is worse than a too original political theory..." But Walt doesn't demand original thinking, only original writing.

It wasn't enough for P.J. to rehash the thoughts and words of others. Oh no. He quotes himself too, time and again, ad nauseam. To justify doing so, he quotes (will it never end?) Oliver Wendell Holmes. "Imagine the author of the excellent piece of advice, 'Know thyself', never alluding to that sentiment again." And, says O'Rourke, "I've used that before too, in The CEO of the Sofa".

So, gentle reader, if you've read Parliament of Whores, All the Trouble in the World, Eat the Rich, and/or On the Wealth of Nations, you can safely give P.J.'s latest "opus" -- and I use the word in its loosest sense -- a pass.

Don't read, let alone buy Don't Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards. It will just encourage P.J. O'Rourke.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saudi women, don't drive to the polls!

In case you haven't been paying attention to the news from Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah announced on the weekend that, as part of a policy of "reform and opening up", Saudi women would at last be allowed to vote...effective in 2015.

They will even be permitted to stand as candidates for election to what passes in Arabia for a parliament. Presumably their election posters won't feature photos because, errr, what would be the point?

Meanwhile, Associated Press reports today that a Saudi woman has been sentenced to ten -- count `em, ten -- lashes for driving a car, in defiance of the kingdom's ban on women drivers.

Shaima Ghassaniya was found guilty Tuesday of driving without the government's permission. No laws prohibit women from driving, but conservative religious edicts have banned it. [Sounds sensible to me. Ed.]

Who were Amos 'n' Andy?

Amos 'n' Andy was one of the first radio comedy series, written and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, two whities who had ebonics down pat! The show ran as a nightly radio serial from 1928 until 1943, as a weekly situation comedy from 1943 until 1955, and as a nightly disc-jockey program from 1954 until 1960.

A television adaptation ran on CBS-TV from 1951 until 1953, and continued in syndicated reruns from 1954 until 1966. Ed. has found a clip from the TV version.

You can find the rest of this episode on YouTube. Search "Amos 'n' Andy" and look for "Call LEhigh 4-9900".

The show was a victim of the "civil rights" movement of the 60s, but radio and TV episodes are still floating around. Since the demise of Amos 'n' Andy, African-Americans have, of course, been portrayed on TV with sensitivity and extreme political correctness, as in such shows as The Jeffersons and Good Times.

What's "ebonics"? What's an "end-man"?

Following up my first post of the morning, to save you checking with Wikipedia, here's what you need to know.

Ebonics (from the words "ebony" -- like the magazine -- and "phonics" -- like "old learning") is a term that was originally intended to refer to the language of all people descended from African slaves. Since 1996, Ebonics has primarily been used to refer to African American Vernacular English (AAVE), a dialect distinctively different from Standard American English.

AAVE is the politically correct term for what used to be called NNE, "Nonstandard Negro English". "Ebonics" was coined in 1973 by social psychologist Robert Williams, formerly a Negro but now an African-American. His intention was to give a name to the language of African-Americans that acknowledged the linguistic consequence of the slave trade and avoided the negative connotations of other terms.

With all respect to John McWhorter -- see previous post -- ebonics or AAVE or NNE or whatever you call it is non-standard English. God help the USA if public officials must talk "jive talk" to make themselves understood to the citizenry.

Speaking of jive talk... an end-man was a character in a black-and-white minstrel show, popular in the USA, Canada, and even in the UK in the 19th and 20th centuries. Blackface minstrelsy was the first distinctly American theatrical form. In the 1830s and 1840s, it was at the core of the rise of an American music industry, and for several decades it provided the lens through which white America saw black America. The Wikipedia article says: "On the one hand, it had strong racist aspects; on the other, it afforded white Americans a singular and broad awareness of significant aspects of black-American culture."

The end-men, in the picture, are the two performers sitting at the ends of the group. Traditionally they were Mr. Tambo (who played the tambourine) and Mr. Bones (you figure it out). They, and all the characters except Mr. Interlocutor (who was white) talked like Amos 'n' Andy.

I guess what they were speaking was "ebonics". If President Al aspires to reach that level, he needs more practice. If he'd been around 50 years ago, he could have joined a minstrel show. Sadly, minstrelsy, like Amos 'n' Andy, was killed in the 1960s, another victim of political correctness.

Does the Prez really talk like a [you know what]?

You probably didn't see Al O'Bama's speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on Saturday. Walt couldn't make it. But you likely saw a clip on TV or read the transcript.

Associated Press quoted the Prez of the Former Most Powerful Nation on Earth as telling African-Americans to "Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'. [My emphasis. Walt] We are going to press on. We have work to do."

Woah! Did the Man really drop his G's like that? Maybe not. Other outlets cleaned up the transcript, making the relevant sentences read "Stop complaining. Stop grumbling. Stop crying." That's the way a college graduate would say it, right? Not to mention a senator or a president.

So why did AP use what a linguistics expert called an "interpretive translation"? On Chris Hayes' MSNBC show, African-American author Karen Hunter called AP's version "racist". [Gee. That didn't even take 24 hours. Ed.] Walt assumes she meant that the politically correct thing to do would be to clean up Al's speech -- specifically including the dropped g's -- so he wouldn't sound like an end-man.

But noted linguistics expert John McWhorter argued the g-less version "is actually the correct one," noting that the president's victory in the 2008 election was due, in part, to how effortlessly "he can switch into that dialect." [Emphasis still mine. Walt]

McWhorter argued that "Black English" -- an oxymoron if ever there was one -- is becoming the lingua franca of American youth, and that "America, including non-black America, loves that way of speaking."

Rumour has it that all candidates for the Democractic nomination will henceforward be required to demonstrate their proficiency in the USA's other language -- ebonics. Walt thinks the last contender who spoke really well was William F. Buckley, Jr.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Conservative values -- the deep stuff

Around election time -- and in the USA it always seems to be election time -- we hear a lot of talk about "family values". Conservatives and Tea Partiers say the mainstream politicians and parties don't pay enough attention to the Christian family values that have made the West strong in the past. If only we could get back to those basic truths, they say, we could find a way out of the mess that is our 21st-century society.

Humanistic liberals take the other tack. Christian/family values, they argue, led to repression, persecution of minorities, ethnic cleansing, yada yada yada. The only social value they like is the ideal of the hippy-dippy 60s: if it feels good, do it!

Here's what Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper wrote in Report Magazine in 2003:
Conservatives would be well served by preserving historic values and moral insights on right and wrong. These are debates where modern liberals have no answers. They are trapped in their framework of moral neutrality, moral relativism and moral equivalence.

Lawrence Martin quotes this passage in Harperland (Viking Canada 2010), his excellent study of what makes "Call me Steve" tick. Martin opines that, although he has never said so publicly, Harper is almost certainly a Straussian -- a follower of the political philosophies of Leo Strauss.

Strauss (20 September 1899 – 18 October 1973) was a political philosopher who specialized in classical political philosophy. He was born in Germany to Jewish parents and later emigrated to the United States. He spent most of his career as a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he taught several generations of students and published fifteen books.

He is widely known for defending natural right, especially in its classical form, against the challenges of relativism and historicism, reopening the quarrel between the ancients and the moderns in political philosophy, emphasizing philosophy as a way of life, sharply criticizing value-free social science, and stressing the centrality of the theological-political problem.

There are conservative political philosophers other than Edmund Burke. This link will take you to the University of Chicago's Leo Strauss Center, where you can learn more about Leo's Strauss's thinking and teaching. Walt wishes that American politicians who want to lead the right would take a few seminars there, so they'd know what they're talking about!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Have you given yet to help Somalia? Don't!

Have you been moved by the pictures of the starving children in famine-stricken Somalia? Have you sent your widow's mite to World Vision or Oxfam? Do you think your contribution is going to improve the lives of those poor (but somehow attractive) kids you see on TV? Before you reach for your credit card, think again.

Back in November 2009, in "Foreign aid: hurts us, hurts them", Walt talked about the bureaucratic mess that is USAID and its Canadian counterpart, CIDA. I've forgotten which impoverished hellhole was the "victim of the month" at that time. That was before Haiti, wasn't it? So perhaps it was Rwanda or Somalia, or some other African hellhole.

The same countries keep appearing in the Top Ten Aid Recipients. The droughts and famines recur again and again. And guilt-ridden white westerners -- the Volvo liberals, I call them -- keep raising money to throw at the problems of the Third World, money which is for the most part wasted, misappropriated or stolen by the corrupt and venal dictators and warlords who rule the world's poorest places.

Today's case in point is Somalia, where famine is officially widespread. The United Nations implores the rich countries to forget about their own problems and send billions of dollars to feed the hungry in the Horn of Africa. Just as we did about 20 years ago, the last time Somalia was the biggest basket case.

Michael Maren writes of his experiences in Somalia (and other sandpits) in The Road to Hell (The Free Press, 1997). The subtitle says it all: The ravaging effects of foreign aid and international charity. Here are a couple of pertinent paragraphs.

Aid distribution is just another big, private business that relies on government contracts. [Aid organizations] are paid by the U.S. government to give away surprlus food produced by subsidized U.S. farmers. The more food [they] give away, the more money they receive from the government to administer the handouts.

Food aid attracts people to refugee camps, where they die from dysentery or measles or other diseases they wouldn't have contracted in the bush. Is there really a food shortage when anyone with money can find all the food he wants, when the aid workers themselves enjoy meals that the locals could never get even in the best of times? And why does it always seem that a group of local elites finds a way to get rich from the disaster? Are we contributing to the problem by dealing with the businessmen-politicians who lease Land Cruisers and homes to the aid agencies and who provide trucks to transport food?

Maren goes on to make the connection between famine and dictatorship.

No country was ever transformed from being famine-prone to food self-sufficiency by international charity. As Harvard economist Amartya Sen has shown, famines always occur in authoritarian states, when the government mismanages the economy. Famines disappear when those countries become market-sufficient. India, for example -- the epitome of the famine-afflicted land when I was a child -- no longer suffers famines despite its huge populations.

And some targets of charity get worse. Today, after huge infusions of international aid, Somalia and all its formerly self-sufficient neighbors are chronically hungry and dependent on foreign food. It becomes increasingly difficult for aid workers to ignore the compelling correlation between massive international food aid and increasing vulnerability to famine. "Our charity does not overcome famine, and may help to prolong it", someone will always lament. Those who spend the time to study the local economies see that the people have now geared their own activities not to returning to their old lives but to getting their hands on aid.

The emphasis above is mine. Please keep in mind, dear reader, that Maren wrote those words in the mid-90s. Has anything changed in Somalia as the result of the billions of dollars of our money -- yours and mine -- poured down that rathole in the 15-20 years since the last "crisis"? Evidently not.

The dark side of success

Reuters reports from Kiev that a 77-year-old Ukrainian man won a jar of smetana (sour cream) for coming first in a vareniki (dumpling) eating contest and then promptly died.

On September 18th, Ivan Mendel ate ten dumplings in half a minute to win first place and a one-litre jar of sour cream in the contest held in the town of Tokmak in the southeastern Zaporizhya region of the Ukraine, Fakty I Kommentarii newspaper said.

Shortly afterwards, Mendel became unwell and died, according to local news websites.

Vareniki are a staple of Ukrainian cuisine and are often stuffed with a range of fillings from mushrooms to cherries. The trick is not to stuff yourself with vareniki.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The perniciousness of bad grammar

Ed. here. Sometimes I wish I were editor of the Times (of London). They get excellent letters to the editor, so well-written, so witty, and frequently so odd. At least one book has been made of such interesting letters.

The Economist gets its share as well. This week's number includes one which I can't not share with you.

A new word order

Sir - I must object in the strongest terms to the use of the oxymoronic neologism, "bottomless shallows", in a Banyan column (August 27th). Please inform your Mr Banyan that oxymorons must be stamped out wherever found, and are particularly galling in a newspaper of your standing and heritage. I am certain that Messrs Samuel Johnson, Walter Bagehot and Henry Watson Fowler are all spinning in their respective graves at this slight, albeit at different speeds.

You know well how lapses like this affect school truancy, foment social disorder and encourage a preference for margarine on one's scones. Sin not again.

Ernie Jurick
Portland, Oregon

I cannot but admire Mr Jurick for his forthright stand against the dire effects of bad grammar. Good on yer, Ernie.

What happened to the Native Sons of Canada?

Agent 3 wrote that he was surprised that the Native Sons of Canada hadn't weighed in on current issues of multiculturalism, "Islamicization" (pace Steve Harper), Muslim prayers in the "public" schools, etc, ad nauseam. Since Walt wasn't familiar with that group, he checked it out on Google, and came up with this:

This organization...was incorporated in 1922. Its aims were to foster Canadian national spirit, the creation of a Canadian nationality, the adoption of a distinctly Canadian flag, and the abolition of such shackles on Canadian autonomy as appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It also urged the employment of Canadians by Canadians, and opposed Oriental immigration. It was, in fact, a nativist movement, somewhat less compromising than the "Canada First" movement of the seventies.... During recent years, with the partial achievement of some of its objects, its importance has somewhat declined.

Agent 3 says he (being almost as ancient as Walt) can remember the Native Sons campaigning hard on the flag and national anthem issues in the 60s. When the Liberal government of the day gave Canada the now-famous maple leaf flag, and gave official status to O Canada, over the objections of the Tories, the IODE, and the Orange Lodge, the Native Sons' work seemed to be done. And yes, it seemed that they faded into obscurity.

But there's more to the story. The Native Sons of Canada were, like Amos 'n' Andy in the USA, among the first victims of political correctness. Think about it...

The First Nations (formerly known as Indians) didn't like the appellation "native", saying that they, the aboriginal people, were the only true natives of Canada.

The wimmin didn't like "Sons" because that term is misogynistic, sexist and exclusionary.

Immigrants objected to "Sons of Canada" because it represented the policy of the Native Sons that only those born in Canada could become members. Someone born in London, England could be just as much of a Canadian nationalist as someone born in London, Ontario, they said.

And of course there was the predictable ranting, in the era of civil rights, that the Native Sons were anti-Semitic, anti-Negro (as African-Canadians were then called), and anti-French. (There was already an organization for the pure-laine canadiens. That would be the Société Jacques-Cartier, otherwise known as La Patente.)

Since the hippy-dippy 60s, it is politically incorrect to be anti-anything. We're supposed to be pro-everything, eh. Strength in diversity, multiculturalism is the future, and all that bullshit.

These days, supporting (publicly at least) the ideals of the Native Sons of Canada makes about as much sense in Canada as supporting the ideals of the White Citizens Council in the USA. So such organizations no longer exist. They have been silenced. But, as the Jesuits say, just because you've silenced a man doesn't mean you've converted him.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Burning out: the Western way vs the Middle Eastern way

Yes, gentle reader, there IS a difference between how we do things and how "they" do things. Turn on the sound and check this out.

Thanks to Agent 6 for the laugh.

Friday, September 16, 2011

More bad news for European Muslims

Hard on the heels of news of the Dutch proposal to ban burqas -- see Walt's post earlier today -- comes word that citizens of Paris will no longer be treated to the sight of 1000s of Muslim bums pointed skywards on Fridays.

This picture was taken today -- Friday -- by Patrick Kovarik of Agence France Press. While these Parisian followers of the Prophet were beseeching him to smite the Dutch (or hit Gadhafi with a lightning bolt or whatever), the French government announced that effective immediately it would enforce its ban on praying in the streets.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant directed Muslims in Paris to temporary spaces made available pending the building of a huge new prayer space and warned that force would be used if necessary as police end their tolerance of street prayers.

France has the largest Muslim minority (in percentage terms) of any European country. Marine Le Pen, France's (much better) answer to Michele Bachmann, has described the growing phenomenon of praying on the streets and sidewalks as an "invasion".

In France, you see, a strict separation of church and state has been in force for a century, and public displays of religious activity are frowned upon. Sort of like the USA, you might say. Might...

Muslim eyes aren't smiling -- Dutch to ban the burqa

Associated Press reports that the Dutch cabinet is moving to ban veils that fully cover the face, such as the burqa worn by some Muslim women. The usual multiculti suspects are already wringing their hands, calling the measure illiberal, and an attack on the rights of women to dress as they please. Walt calls this argument politically correct rubbish!

Just to be clear -- and Walt has been thanked before for explaining this -- the burqa is a full-body garment that acts as a barrier between its wearers and those around them. Even the wearers' eyes are hidden. The Dutch law does not appear to include the niqab, the veil covering only part of the face, leaving the eyes visible. More Muslim women wear the niqab, in Europe as well as America, and this in spite of bans previously adopted by France and Belgium.

Muslim women who choose (or are forced) to wear such traditional costumes are sending a disturbing message. They are not making a fashion statement. They are saying, in effect, that women and men are not equal, and that neither can be trusted to even look at the other.

But never mind, say the wimmin's rights whiners. After all, in the Netherlands only 100 or so Muslim women wear the burqa. How, then, are the rest of us threatened? Why should it be necessary to make its wearing a criminal offence?

Here's the answer. We all make certain sacrifices to live in and enjoy a healthy secular democracy. [Is that really what we have here? Ed.] Showing one's face in public so as not to make the majority of society nervous and uncomfortable is a pretty small sacrifice to ask for.

As for the argument that not many Dutch women choose (or are forced) to wear the burqa, let us suppose that only 100 Dutch women chose (or were forced) to walk out in public naked. Would that make it OK, then? Even in the liberal Netherlands, you can be arrested for public nudity. Why? Because it makes the rest of us nervous and uncomfortable.

Human beings are social creatures, and operate according to a set of social norms, however broad these might be. Being totally covered or totally uncovered is, in a word, anti-social.

It is said that the eyes are the windows of the soul. If we can't see the looker's eyes, he becomes virtually soulless. That's why the police and the military love sunglasses, especially mirrored sunglasses. They intimidate the lookees.

Putting a barrier in front of one's features can only alienate people from each other. Of course, this is precisely what the burqa is designed to do -- to act as a barrier between Muslim women and the rest of us. It is not just anti-social, but barbaric. The sooner it's banned, the better. And to hell with political correctness.

Jamaican Olympic team starts training

Much interest in Montréal as a group of young people with black faces and Jamaican accents assembled at the Université de Montréal stadium for a light workout in track and field sports.

Much consternation when it turned out the athletes were students at the Hautes Études Commerciales, the Université de Montréal’s business school. Evidently inspired by the almost-forgotten black-and-white minstrel shows -- popular in Canada and Britain as well as the USA well into the 1950s -- the kids painted themselves in blackface and chanted "Ya man!" for a frosh-week stunt.

Participants were encouraged to dress in Olympic-themed costumes, with one group choosing to portray Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. Along with donning the colours of the Jamaican flag, several students also covered their face, arms and legs in black paint.

The colourful attire included at least one Rastafarian hat and a pair of green shorts patterned with monkey faces. A large stuffed animal resembling a green monkey -- "un vrai Jamaican eh" -- was paraded around as a mascot.

Much soiling of silks by the school's administration and university officials, who were predictably accused of racism the moment vids appeared on YouTube and the lamestream media. One witness, who is of Jamaican descent, said he was shocked to hear some students chanting, “Smoke more weed.” More shocking still was the fact that they were chanting in English, contrary to Québec's language laws!

Law student Anthony Morgan said he found the display deeply offensive because of "the troubling historical connotations of blackface.... It is connected to a longer tradition of minstrel shows, reducing black people to pretty much jokes. They're put on as a spectacle, to almost look grotesque."

A spokesman for the business school said Morgan must have misunderstood the point of rap and hip-hop concerts, not to mention such events as the Caribana weekend. There were no ill intentions, said Michael Lartigau, but "the students interpreted the theme poorly."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

10 years on, America still afflicted by siege mentality

I wrote almost nothing, on Sunday, about the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The last sentence of "Bathos and bravado" was, "Let's move on."

My point was that I'd had enough of the endless talk about 9/11 and how it's changed our world for the worse. I expected a torrent of abuse, particularly from American readers in whose lives 9/11 might be expected to be a defining or cathartic moment. But I haven't had a single comment or e-mail.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that enough is enough. Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin wrote an excellent piece today entitled "Ten years after 9/11, the great power still cowers". Here's the penultimate paragraph.

The U.S. embassy in Ottawa bears testimony to the degree of intimidation. It’s still barricaded on its west side by no less than three security walls, the idea being, as nutty as it sounds, that the ramparts might slow down advancing terrorist hordes. The symbolism of the blockades can be summed up in three words: “We are afraid.” Ten years on, just as the enemy would hope, the great power still cowers.

It's true. The Excited States of America is in the grip of a deep and abiding paranoia, as witness all the talk of "credible threats" of some atrocity to be perpetrated on the Big Day, and fighter jets being scrambled to escort a couple of airliners to their destination because... errr... well, just because.

When will the USA conquer its unreasoning fear of a handful of sand niggers? Can America -- and the rest of the world -- ever get back to normal? I wouldn't bet on it.

At rest in Mexico

Agent 1 favoured us with a collection amusing epitaphs. The one which made me laugh loudest was this one. In English it reads

Here rests
Pancrazio Juvenales

Good husband
Good father
But lousy electrician

or something like that. Please don't take issue with my translation. Spanish is not Walt's second language.

Sharia law for the "new" Libya?

Anne Barnard of the New York Times reports that yesterday the chairman of Libya’s "transitional" government exhorted Libyans to support a democratic system that honours Islam, respects the rule of law and repudiates the personality cult of Moammar Gadhafi.

The rule of law? What kind of law? No prizes for guessing that Mustafa Abdul-Jalil means sharia law. This is what he said. “We strive for a state of the law, for a state of prosperity, for a state that will have Islamic sharia law the basis of legislation.”

Executioners are reportedly sharpening their swords, so as to be ready when Gadhafi [How are we spelling his name today? Ed.] and his family and friends will be brought to "justice"...Islamic justice, that is. But don't hold your breath. Even though it's been six months since NATO started pouding the sand [Sand??? Ed.] out of Libyan cities and civilians, they haven't quite succeeded yet in ousting the Mad Colonel.

There were other indications Monday that efforts to declare "complete victory" over Gadhafi and his holdouts were moving slowly or, errr, stalled. Two days have passed since a deadline for remaining Gadhafi loyalists to surrender, with no indication that they have lost their will to fight, and NATO says its work is not yet finished.

Prime Minister "Call me Steve" Harper told gullible Canucks that once Canadian forces were out of Afghanistan, there wouldn't be any more...or at least not much more...waste of lives and money in the Middle East. But this morning the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that troops wearing the maple leaf are on the ground in Tripoli. Is anyone surprised?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Killing unborn babies as a form of "retroactive birth control" is something we associate with the benighted Third World, right? Not the civilized West. Wrong! Here are some shocking statistics from closer to home -- New York City.

The Chiaroscuro Foundation is dedicated to reducing the rate of abortion in New York. In a just-released study of NYC abortion stats, the Foundation says that 41% of the recorded pregnancies in the city end in abortion: a rate nearly double the national average.

The Foundation also found that more than half are obtained by women who have had at least one prior abortion, and more than one-third are financed by Medicaid.

What are the worst areas for baby-killing? Brooklyn is bad. Queens is worse. And the Bronx is the worst of all. Check out the map to see how your zip code stacks up

The scale of the human tragedy of abortion in New York City demands action. But what can we do? The Chiaroscuro Foundation offers some practical suggestions. If you're a New Yorker -- or even if you're not -- their efforts deserve your support.

No compromise, Faith comes first! -- SSPX

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, has indicated that the SSPX will not agree to a Vatican requirement that they accept the authority of Vatican II teachings, in order to be reconciled to Rome.

Monsignor Fellay is in Rome for meetings to discuss the results of discussions between Vatican and SSPX theologians. Before going, he assured supporters, “If their aim is still to force us to accept the second Vatican Council, the discussions have been clear enough in showing that we have no intention of doing any such thing.”

"There are those who say that up until now, [the Vatican] have always tried to shove the Council down our throats.... All I am saying is: We are moving on. We have our principles, above all faith.... Without faith, God can never love you, so our decision is made. Faith comes first, no matter what; it even comes before recognition by the Church. We need to be strong."

Click here to read "Lefebvrians say they will never accept Council", from the Vatican Insider.

Bathos and bravado

Lots of bathos and bravado in the air today. As is normal in the USA, everything is being overdone. And the rest of the "free" world follows along.

The Belgian stock exchange had a moment of silence before the opening bell on Friday. Belgium! How many Belgians died at the WTC?

Canadian Prime Minister Harpoon has decided today should be a "national [Oops! Be careful with that word in Canada. Ed.] day of community service", whatever that means. Oh, and the NDOCS should be continued every year on this date. Eh?

Walt has had enough. 9/11 is over. As the media never tire of saying, nothing will ever be the same again. Ten years of hand-wringing and being suspicious of "the others" is enough. Let's move on.

Friday, September 9, 2011

First confession

A few evenings ago, Walt's parish priest was being honoured at a special dinner. After 25 years in the parish, and nearly 50 since his ordination, he was retiring at last.

A leading local politician and member of the parish was chosen to make the presentation and to give a little after-dinner speech. However, he was delayed, so the priest decided to say his own few words while we waited.

Said the father, "I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, was able to lie his way out of it. He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his employer, had an affair with his boss's wife, taken illegal drugs, and infected his sister with an STD.

"I was appalled. But as the days went on I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people."

Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived, full of apologies at being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and gave the speech he had prepared.

"I'll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived," he said. "In fact, I had the honour of being the first person to go to him for confession!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Islamicism" on the march in Nigeria

My earlier post contained a reference to Muslim extremism -- or "Islamicism" as Canadian Prime Minister Harper now calls it -- in Nigeria. Ed. tells me I should have given an example, so here's one.

You've heard of al-Qaeda and Hizbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, right? Add to your list of Muslim fundamentalist, Quran-inspired terrorist groups "Boko Haram". Boko Haram means “Western education is sacrilege” in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria. A terrorist group proudly bearing this moniker claims responsibility for a rash of killings in Nigeria, targeting security officers, local leaders and clerics.

They claimed responsibility for a bomb that tore through the United Nations’ Abuja headquarters on Aug. 26, killing 23 people and wounding 81. It also has claimed responsibility for a bombing at the nation’s police headquarters that killed two people in June. And in the latest espisode of "holy war", 18 people were killed and 10 wounded in central Nigeria on Sunday night.
What's it all about? Boko Haram's stated aim is to implement a strict version of Sharia law in Nigeria. In that, they are united in spirit and in goals with those who wish to import Sharia (at least for Muslims) into the legal systems if the USA, Britain and Canada. Perhaps this is what Canadian Prime Minister Harper means when he speaks of "Islamicism" being the greatest threat to his country.

Canadian PM calls "Islamicism" biggest threat

"Islamicism", "Islamization", "Islamic fundamentalism"... Whatever you call it, what we fear most is having a bunch of ragtops, tentheads, camel jockeys or whatever take over our country and turn it into Afghanistan.

Who says so? Certainly not Hussein "Al" Obama. Surprisingly, it was none other than Canadian Prime Minister "Call me Steve" Harper, speaking in an interview with CBC News. The interview will air tonight, September 7th. Tune in to "The National" and you will hear Mr. Harpoon tell Pete Mansbridge that "the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 is Islamic terrorism."

Canada's Dear Leader goes on to say that the country is safer than it was on 9/11, when al-Qaeda attacked, errr, a country to the south, but that "the major threat is still Islamicism.... There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats."

Harper warned that terrorist threats can "come out of the blue". It is not clear whether he was referring to a political party or something else. The example he gave was the recent outrages in Norway, where a lone gunman who hated Muslims killed 77 people. Why this qualifies as an act of Islamic terrorism was not explained, but Harper said terrorism by Islamic radicals is still the top threat, though a "diffuse" one. [It must be defused! Ed.]

"When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of some place in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world," he said, citing terrorism in Nigeria, where (as Walt pointed out recently) Muslim extremists have fallen into the habit of burning Christian churches, often with the believers still inside.

The PM said "home-grown Islamic radicals in Canada are also something that we keep an eye on." Harpoon said his government will bring back anti-terrorism clauses that were brought in in 2001 but were "sunsetted" in 2007 because... well... because the Mounties never found any Islamic radicals, home-grown or otherwise, to use them on.

No word yet on when the Prime Minister will be prosecuted under section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act for inciting hatred against a religious minority. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why a Catholic congressman left the Church

File this under "Believe It Or Not". Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison (Democrat, of course) was baptized Catholic. But he left the Church because “I just felt it was ritual and dogma.” So he converted to Islam.

You can read and hear the reasoning [sic] of America's first Muslim congressman in the CNN report, here.

Obama's "federal family": feel the change, feel the hope

We rarely lift an entire article from a newpaper website or other source. But this one, from the Palm Beach Post, deserves to be read in its entirety.

FEMA'S use of term "federal family" for government expands under Obama

Don’t think of it as the federal government but as your "federal family."

In a Category 4 torrent of official communications during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has repeatedly used the phrase "federal family" when describing the Obama administration’s response to the storm.

The Obama administration didn’t invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights. "Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast," a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.

The G-word — "government" — has been nearly banished, with FEMA instead referring to federal, state and local "partners" as well as "offices" and "personnel".

"'Government' is such a dirty word right now," says Florida State University communication professor Davis Houck. "Part of what the federal government does and any elected official does is change the terms of the language game into terms that are favorable to them."

"Family" can evoke favorable thoughts of motherhood and security. But it can also conjure images of Big Brother and organized crime.

The phrase “federal family” has been used in connection with FEMA at least as far back as 1999. Under President George W. Bush, FEMA officials sprinkled the alliterative euphemism into congressional testimony and statements. When former FEMA Director Michael Brown promised help to hurricane-battered Floridians in 2004, he vowed that "the federal family is dedicated to staying for as long as it takes."

During the Clinton administration, Vice President Al Gore responded to 1999 flooding in Iowa by pledging that "the federal family is committed to providing the necessary resources to comfort every person and family devastated by this disaster and to help them return to their normal way of living as fast as possible."

A Google search shows the phrase appearing 10 times on FEMA’s website during the Bush years. Since Obama took office, "federal family" has turned up 118 times on, including 50 Irene-related references. Among them: statements that the Obama administration "is committed to bringing all of the resources of the federal family to bear" for storm assistance and that "the entire federal family continues to lean forward to support the states in their ongoing response efforts."

Houck doubts all the "family" references will give the public a warm and fuzzy view of FEMA and the federal government. "That one is so blatantly obvious that I think people’s rhetorical radar is going to go off," Houck says.

On the other hand, Houck says, "If FEMA can come in and really do a great job, maybe that 'federal family' thing would stick with the people on the ground."

FEMA did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Palm Beach Post researcher Niels Heimeriks contributed to this story. Thanks to John Vennari at Catholic Family News for passing it along.

Technical difficulties with comments

Hi! Ed here! Agent 9 was moved this weekend to comment on a recent post. But he reports encountering "technical difficulties", since his comment didn't appear after he clicked on the submit button.

It's time, then, for me to explain that Walt Whiteman's Word is moderated. That means your comment won't appear instantly. Perhaps it will never appear! LOL

The way Blogspot works is this. If you're viewing the home/landing page, and want to comment on a post, first click on the headline of the post. The article will then open up in a separate window, with a window at the bottom in which you can write your comment.

When you click on "submit", your comment gets sent to me, and I will decide whether or not to publish it. If you're in favour of abortion, against the Church, or pushing multiculturalism as the answer to the world's problems, you can expect your comment to float around in the ether forever, like the Flying Dutchman.

If you're still having trouble sending a comment, you're welcome to e-mail Walt. We may not publish your comment, but we read each and every one!

Where religious persecution bites hardest

Economists love graphs and charts of this sort. So do writers and pundits, because at least 1000 words of text are required to interpret the picture to the average reader. Here's what this one means.
"Rising Restrictions on Religion", a worldwide survey published in August by the much-respected Pew Forum, shows an increase in restrictions on and violence directed against believers in religion. The top offenders are Egypt, Pakistan, and India. Among the Muslim countries, the only one going against the trend is Turkey. The most mistreated group is... wait for it... faithful Christians.

More than 2.2 billion people – nearly a third (32%) of the world’s total population of 6.9 billion – live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009, the period covered by the study.

The survey was done before the "Arab spring" now causing turmoil in northern Africa and the Middle East. But it promises nothing good about future developments there. Even before the Islamists began fomenting rebellion, the indicators were signaling deterioration almost everywhere. In fact, Pew did a similar survey three years earlier, and the situation now shows a widespread increase of persecution, torture and killing of the faithful.

The graphic above focuses attention on countries with populations of more than 50 million inhabitants. That includes Pakistan and Nigeria, from where we get disturbingly regular reports of the execution of Christians and burning of churches. One has only to follow the RSS feeds from a site like Catholic World News (which Walt recommends highly) to see such stories virtually every day.

Then we come to the two giants -- India and China -- where the persecution of Christians just gets worse and worse. India remains the record holder for hostilities among religious groups, which are added to the already burdensome legal restrictions there. They even have laws against the conversion of non-Christians, which effectively prohibit not just foreign missionaries but local Catholic clergy who have been serving India for six centuries, from ministering to their communities. One might expect such laws in Islamist states such as Afghanistan and Iran, but according to its constitution, India is supposed to be a secular state. Ha!

China continues to hold the record – challenged only by Iran and Egypt – for political restrictions on the Roman Catholic Church and other religous groups such as the Falun Gong. (Falun Gong is a rather eclectic mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and taiji. It has the qualities of a religion -- a belief system and numerous adherents -- and was banned by the Communist government of China in 1999.)

Walt has written many times about the schismatic and heretical Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, the so-called "Catholic" church set up by the Communists after they seized power in 1949. In "Communist Chinese persecution of Catholic Church intensifies", I explained how the Chinese government is grinding the heels of its jackboots even more fiercely into the bodies of the faithful, in spite of the Vatican's misguided and now discredited attempts to make nice with the atheistic Communists.

More instances of the increased persecution -- and execution -- of Christians may be found in "No summer stop to Chinese repression", published September 2nd on the AsiaNews website, which I also read regularly.

Conclusion: If you're a Christian -- especially if you're a Catholic living in the Third World -- the Islamists, the Hindus and the Communists are out to get you! They have declared war on Holy Mother Church. How much longer must we turn the other cheek?

King of Swaziland too tired to dialogue?

There seems to be a lot of interest in my post of April 13th on prospects for change in Swaziland, the last absolute monarchy in Africa. [I can't imagine why! Ed.] So here's an update.

On Friday, a "meeting of civil society" was convened in Mbabane, the nation's capital, to discuss democratic reforms. King Mswati III -- he of the many wives and concubines -- was invited to deliver the opening address. Unfortunately, he thought it inappropriate or inconvenient to attend a convention whose aim must be to depose him, so decided to give it a miss.

In retaliation, the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, the country’s largest labour group, walked out of the meeting. The labour group argued HRH, by snubbing the meeting, had not shown a commitment to dialogue.

“Our position is that the king has refused to entertain the question of dialogue. He said this as recently as last year. It would appear that instead of strengthening our mass power we are busy talking dialogue, a language that the king refuses to embrace,” said national organizer Fundizwi Sikhondze.

Apparently the SFTU failed to consider the possibility that Mswati, who has around 67 wives at last count, might have been just too tired.