Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Leftist witch-hunt

Brilliant Australian comedian Barry Humphries (Dame Edna) is fairly conservative on the rare occasions when he is being serious and one of his serious comments appears below.  It appeared as a letter in "The Australian" newspaper, a Murdoch creation.  He is appalled at the furore generated when some private emails from a  professor of poetry at the University of Sydney, Barry Spurr, were leaked to the Leftist press. I think I should add a few points here in addition to the points made by Humphries.

The opinions expressed by Spurr were basically old-fashioned these days and being an oldster myself, I share many of them.  But the main thing that has the Left up in arms is the type of language Prof. Spurr uses.  His vocabulary is the antithesis of political correctness, probably deliberately. For instance, when describing the undoubted increase in obesity in recent years, he refers to "fatties" instead of "people of girth" or whatever the politically correct term is these days.

And obesity figures prominently in the ways Spurr disapproves of modern life.  He bewails a loss of standards these days and thinks that social customs, values and such things were better in the old days.  And the fact that people were a lot slimmer back in the '40s and '50s is one of the examples he gives of slipping standards these days.  But that is simply truthful.  Politicians worldwide have declared a "war" on obesity, accompanied by a claim that we and our waistlines are going to the dogs these days. Spurr is right that standards have slipped.

Basically, Spurr offends against Leftist pieties without, I believe, saying much that would disturb the average Australian.  But people who breach those Leftist pieties publicly earn such a torrent of Leftist abuse that people have become cautious about plain speaking.  And the dominance of the Left in the media, in education and in the bureaucracy has made plain speaking simply dangerous to one's career on many occasions.

And Prof. Spurr was clearly aware of that.  He confined his uninhibited language to private emails.  But, with typical Leftist lack of scruple, someone (presumably someone involved in looking after the university email system) "hacked" Spurr's emails and forwarded them to a far-Left publication, which promptly reproduced them.  Read them here for yourself.

And the very mention of some social groups is automatically called "racist" by Leftists, let alone claiming differences between those groups, and let alone using mocking language about such groups.  So Spurr's references to Muslims as "mussies" is deep-dyed offensiveness to leftist minds. 

And Spurr's failure to respect feminism was also deemed offensive, despite the fact that most men and many women would concur with that.  We even had some good evidence of that in Australia a couple of years ago, when our Leftist Prime Minister, Julia Gillard,  made an angry feminist speech condemning "misogyny".  The speech was applauded by feminists worldwide but it sank Julia.  Her popularity among men reached such catastrophic low in the public opinion polls that her own party booted her out of the Prime Ministership not long thereafter.

Spurr also despairs of the obsessive attention paid to Aborigines in Australian universities and elsewhere.  You cannot go to a graduation ceremony in an Australian university these days without being addressed by some Aboriginal person about things that have little or nothing to do with the university.  It is just political correctness and I deplore it too. It is simply boring and irrelevant.  It does nothing for anyone as far as I can see.  I am sure that the drunken Aborigines who infest many public places in Queensland, where I live, are not uplifted by it.  It is just Leftist tokenism.

And it seems unlikely that even Leftists believe in their own pieties.  Every now and again their real beliefs do leak out.  A prime example comes from the constant arguments about voter ID in America. There is a lot of fraudulent voting in America.  As that great authority on crime, Al Capone, said:  "Vote early and vote often". In response American conservatives have pushed hard for people to present photo ID before they are allowed to vote. But because a lot of the fraudulent voting is in favour of Leftist candidates, Leftists have repeatedly gone to court to block the requirement for voters to present photo ID. 

And what argument do Leftists constantly use to support their case?  They argue that it would "disenfranchise" blacks.  They claim, in other words, that blacks are too dumb to be able to acquire such ID, even though you need photo ID to do almost anything in America.  And the whole Leftist program of "affirmative action" reveals a barely hidden belief that blacks are unable to make it in open competition with whites.  With their constant obessing over race, it is Leftists who are the real racists and the big hypocrites.  More on that here

I saw that hypocrisy repeatedly in my research career.  Although nothing could be more authoritarian than Leftism (they want to MAKE people behave in a way they approve of) my survey research always revealed great reluctance for Leftists to approve of anything authoritarian or pro-authority.  They could not admit their own motivations.  Leftists rely heavily of the psychological defence mechanisms of denial and projection.  On many issues, they just cannot let  reality in at all. 

And I showed long ago. that Leftists will espouse views that they actually disagree with if it suits their purpose.  And in the run-up to the 2004 American presidential election, John Kerry and other Leftists even argued for the status quo and something very similar to the venerable Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 in order to criticize GWB's military excursions in the Middle East! See here and here

And their condemnation of "racism" is of a piece with their hypocrisy. As  psychological research has often shown, it is completely natural for people to have a preference for people like themselves, for their own group.  And they do.  But say so out loud and Leftists  will come down on you like a ton of bricks.  As human beings, they too have such feelings but for political expedience, they deny it.  There are many Barry Spurrs out there and many of them will be Leftist.


HAS Australia gone slightly mad? I read in the London press of some poor professor in Sydney who has been persecuted and suspended for sending emails to a friend in which he employs outrageous vernacular epithets for race which would be offensive if they were not so clearly jocular.

His reported response to the storm in a teacup which followed this revelation is, unsurprisingly, bewilderment. How could anyone take such deliberate touretting seriously? The answer, I fear, is that there are a lot of Australians these days who are totally bereft of a sense of humour. The new puritanism is alive, well and powerful.

Not long ago some poor guy was actually prosecuted for saying that the Aboriginal welfare services were sometimes exploited by faux Aborigines, even though we knew it was true.

Recently, I announced that when I curate next year’s Adelaide cabaret festival I will ban the F-word, and there was a howl of protest, indeed outrage, particularly from comedians. What kind of comedians were they, do you suppose? Why, comedians with no sense of humour of course! Or comedians whose stand-ups would be meaningless if deprived of one over-used word.

We really ought to be aware of this malignant brand of cultural fascism, and restore our reputation as a funny country before it’s too late.

Barry Humphries, London, UK


Say no to Australia's  coal killers

CONVICTED killer, now Anglican priest, Evan Pederick is the perfect poster boy for the fossil fuel divestment campaign. The convicted and self-confessed terrorist has been taken into the bosom of the Anglican Church and joined forces with other churches to divest their institutions of investments in fossil fuels (and some minerals).

That other church of green ideology, the Australian National University, has done the same.

Pederick willingly and knowingly set out to destroy a life, that of the Indian prime minister, by planting a bomb in Sydney in 1978. He missed and killed three others instead. Divestment activists, perhaps unwittingly, also will harm innocent people.

Instead of Killers against Coal, why not Christians for Coal?

The moral calculation is simple. An effective divestment campaign would increase the cost of power and harm the poor.

It would substitute the possible risk of some harm to life from climate change decades into the future with the certain harm to life from denial of access to cheap ­energy now. An ineffective campaign, which is more likely, would waste the opportunity to put funds to better use.

Had the ANU, for example, announced that it would devote more of its (taxpayer supported) trust’s investments to low carbon energy research, building on its actual contribution to society, education, few outsiders would have quibbled. Except, of course, the trustees, who bypassed the opportunity because the investment would have been high risk and harmed its own income.

Instead, ANU trustees took a moral preening stance with low risk to its own income and high risk of harm to the poor. While accepting taxpayers’ money to train engineers, the ANU trustees and its vice-chancellor treat the work of those engineers with a likely future in fossil fuel and minerals mining with disdain. In the spirit of undergraduate activism that now infects the ANU at the highest levels, I urge all engineering aspirants to boycott the ANU.

The mystery is why the disease of divestment has spread so far and wide. Partly, it is because the climate change research pool has been tainted by a culture of silencing dissent in pursuit of public funds. Partly, it is a consequence of the growth of green non-government organisations, most with taxpayer privileges, and partly because industry has given up arguing the case for science in the service of progress.

Industry, especially companies with head offices in Europe, allowed itself to be demonised. It got sucked into the social licence to operate gibberish. It ceded legitimacy to a bunch of moralists who would keep the poor poor.

“Beyond Petroleum” was the tag adopted by a BP too embarrassed to face the public about the fact the public, indeed, the poor, needed hydrocarbons. BP chief executive John Browne’s ­famous 1997 speech signalled that “We in BP … must now focus on what can and what should be done, not because we can be certain climate change is happening but because the possibility can’t be ignored. If we are all to take responsibility for the future of our planet, then it falls to us to begin to take precautionary action now.”

At that time of climate change hyperbole BP (and many others) failed to defend its role in society. Of course, the greens never accepted the ploy, renouncing it as Beyond Belief. Indeed, from its 2000 announcements of investments in bio fuels, wind and solar, by 2011 BP had sold the solar business and by 2013 had attempted to sell the wind business. Bio-fuels remain beholden to huge taxpayer subsidies, harming the poor.

As Browne wrote in his 2013 book Seven Elements That Have Changed the World, one of which is carbon, “the prospects for meaningful international agreement on climate changed (sic) have diminished with each passing year”. He also concedes that political leaders “need to prepare us to adapt to a different set of climatic conditions”. Adaptation is the new reality, not the fantasy of abatement, which is at the heart of the divestment strategy.

Shell, on the other hand, has decided to fight back. Last week, Shell’s chairman in Australia, ­Andrew Smith, said rising activism was “fast becoming one of the greatest challenges facing Australian growth”.

Many more must join the fight, the first task of which is to name the enemy within — the killer priest, the ANU vice-chancellor and trustees, and scores of green NGOs. These should be made to feel the cold steel of rationality, which by the way, cannot be made without coking coal.


Murdoch lashes Abbott on journalists law

News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch has invoked his grandfather's reporting of Gallipoli to lash the Abbott government's new national security laws that could jail journalists for up to 10 years.

Mr Murdoch said Australia's press freedom was under threat and had already fallen dramatically by world standards.

"It might surprise you that today Australia ranks 33rd, just behind Belize, on the Freedom house index. 20 years ago we ranked 9th," Mr Murdoch said during the Keith Murdoch Oration at the State Library in Melbourne on Thursday night.

Mr Murdoch said the government was frequently asking Australians to trust them 'we're from the government', when attempting to censor the media.

"But trust is something that should not be a consideration when restricting our fundamental freedoms. Our freedom of speech and freedom of the press are not things we should blindly entrust anyone."

Mr Murdoch singled out the government's national security laws that could jail journalists for up to 10 years for revealing "special intelligence operations".

Many, including human rights commissioner Tim Wilson, have condemned these laws, saying they would restrict legitimate scrutiny of Australia's secret agencies.

Mr Murdoch said the government's terminology, particularly "secret intelligence operation", was ambiguous.

"It's left up to government agencies at the time to decide. Would the Gallipoli campaign have been a special operation?"

Mr Murdoch's grandfather Sir Keith Murdoch revealed the devastation of Gallipoli, which killed more than 8000 soldiers, in a letter to then Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, despite reports from the battle field being censored by the military.

"Incredible as it seems today, Fisher … had received little notice of the Gallipoli invasion.

"Would Sir Keith have been arrested … to spend the next 10 years in jail? And remember, the taking of that letter … a private communication to the prime minister, was tremendous overreach by the military at that time.

"A century ago, Keith Murdoch's Gallipoli letter was Australia's boldest declaration that our nation had the right to know the truth."

Mr Murdoch also took aim at the previous Labor government's attempts to introduce a public interest media advocate to oversee all media as the "most draconian attack on the press this country has ever seen in peacetime".

Failure to comply with advocate could have seen the removal of the Privacy Act exemptions, which "are essential for journalists to do their work", Mr Murdoch said.

"And, if all else failed, a single unnamed 'super expert' could apply his or her own undefined 'public interest test' and punish an organisation commercially," he said.

"Censorship should be resisted in all its insidious forms. We should be vigilant of the gradual erosion of our freedom to know, to be informed, and make reasoned decisions in our society and in our democracy.

"We must all take notice and, like Sir Keith, have the courage to act when those freedoms are threatened."


The modern-day Left dislike patriotism

By TANVEER AHMED (A psychiatrist of Bangladeshi origin)

“IT is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during God Save the King than of stealing from a poor box.” So wrote George Orwell. His sentiments could scarcely be more applicable in modern Australia.

On patriotism, as with other national characteristics and policy strategies, Australia sits between individualist, nationalist America and collectivist, patri­otically reluctant Europe.

Recent stormy debate over a T-shirt bearing an Australian flag and the slogan ‘Love it — or leave’ illustrates how difficult it is for Australian progressives to embrace outward displays of patriotism, lest they be stained by, or confused with, chest-beating hyper­masculinity or perceived exclusion of minority groups.

Patriotism is a dirty word. Indeed, hip-hop artist Matt Colwell not only labelled the Australian flag “racist” on the ABC’s Q&A, he said later: “The way those people have used the flag has so tarnished the flag for me personally that it stands for a sort of swastika symbol in my mind.”

American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt writes in The Righteous Mind that conservatives have a broader matrix of moral worlds than progressives, who are skewed towards caring for the weak and distributing wealth. He compiled a catalogue of six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity.

When psychologists talk about authority, loyalty and sanctity, those who identify with the Left spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia.

Two world wars left a deep scar on the European psyche, especially on the notion of nationalism, which was seen as causing the rise of fascist Italy and Germany.

This ambivalence spawned a belief that countries such as Britain should be a culturally blank canvas; that patriotism is an old fashioned trapping of empire and countries such as Britain could be shaped afresh with new cultures living side by side in unity.

While we may lack the imperial guilt, there can be little doubt this view is apparent in Australia, perhaps even more so given our relative youth and more malleable historical and cultural foundations.

Orwell made a clear distinction between nationalism and patriotism.

He qualified nationalism as “the worst enemy of peace”, the belief one’s country was sup­erior to others while patriotism was an attachment to and admiration of a nation’s way of life and “of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally”.

While Islamic terrorism is attractive to a very small proportion of the population, it highlights a weakness of liberal democracies in their lukewarm, sometimes conflicted promotion of a collective identity.

The gap for Islamists is filled by the fierce transnational identity that the Islamic notion of the ummah can build, a piety so strong they are prepared to sacrifice their lives. Macabre, evil and disgusting the actions may be, but the intensity of belief is in stark contrast to the relative apathy of mild-mannered secular atheists.

French philosopher Michel Onfray said in an interview last year on the topic of the decline of the West: “Who is ready to die for the values of the West or the values of the Enlightenment?”

Onfray questions the will of Westerners to fight for anything, believing we have been numbed by consumerism in a secular age that creates no attachment to God and country.

The strong patriotism of the US that integrates its extremely diverse population so successfully may explain why so few American-Muslims, as a proportion of the population, have gone to fight in Syria, compared with many thousands from Europe. The several hundred estimated to have travelled from Australia, as a percentage of our Muslim population, are many multiples greater than in America.

While an Australian republic is traditionally derided in conservative circles, there is a direct correlation with Tony Abbott’s Team Australia rhetoric and the intensification of patriotism a republic is likely to promote. It holds promise as a key plank in fostering a greater collective identity.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane championed a greater patriotism for the Left in his 2009 book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives. The reaction to a harmless T-shirt promoting love of country suggests the task has a considerable way to go.


Australia to grant 500 work visas to Israelis

Israeli ambassador calls deal ‘a substantial and important reinforcement of bilateral relations’ 

Israel and Australia signed an agreement Wednesday according to which Canberra will grant 500 work visas per year to Israeli citizens who meet certain requirements.

“This agreement brings Israel in line with other countries that have a similar agreement with Australia,” Israeli ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben Shmuel said, according to the Israeli news outlet Ynet. “It is a substantial and important reinforcement of bilateral relations between the two countries, and will also enable our two peoples to strengthen their connection and learn about each other’s cultures, which will open the door for more partnerships in the future.”

Israeli citizens aged 18-30 who have completed either military or national service, among other criteria, will be eligible to work legally in Australia for up to one year.

Israelis suffer from a bad reputation in numerous countries worldwide, including Australia, for working illegally, in places such as Dead Sea product mall kiosks, and using aggressive sales tactics.

The egregious maneuvers utilized by the Israeli salespeople, coupled with the fact that many of them are working illegally, have roused the suspicions of the FBI, US Homeland Security, embassies around the world trying to combat labor fraud, and journalists who are uncovering questionable sales tactics.

Though Israelis can enter the European Union, Canada, or Australia without a visa interview, they are not allowed to work unless they get a special working holiday visa.


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