Wednesday, May 25, 2016

QUACKS: 'Conversion Therapists,' the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality

From The Southern Poverty Law Center:  https://www.splcenter.org/20160525/quacks-conversion-therapists-anti-lgbt-right-and-demonization-homosexuality
 
Mark Potok
Senior Fellow
May 25, 2016

This is a report about junk science and some of the people who propagate it. It is not about silly, perhaps amusing theories about ESP or life on the moon or even purported miracle cures for cancer. The “science” examined here actively harms people, leading with grim regularity to suicide, depression and an array of self-destructive behaviors. It demeans, defames and defrauds human beings, typically at their most vulnerable moments. And, as if that weren’t enough, it regularly lays the blame for the alleged malady of homosexuality at the feet of gay people’s parents, despite the fact that they are wholly innocent

Executive Summary

Will standing in a circle of naked men deep in the woods turn gay men straight? Is disrobing in front of a mirror alone with your therapist and then touching “your masculinity” a cure for homosexuality? Does beating a pillow representing your mother really help develop “healthy” relationships with other men?

The men and women who people this industry known as “conversion,” “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapists are like modern-day phrenologists, the “experts” beloved by the Nazis who thought they could identify inferior human beings by measuring their subjects’ skulls. They employ theories that have been thoroughly debunked by virtually all relevant medical associations. They cite bizarre studies that were shot down decades ago as key documents. They use techniques that were described in court by one expert as “worse than snake oil.” They are quacks.

Many of them are doubtless sincere. Some describe their own struggles with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” But sincere or not, the promotion of conversion therapy has a cynical side. If being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is merely a chosen behavior, one that can be “fixed” with the right mental health treatment, then criticizing LGBT people for their sexual choices is akin to simply criticizing bad behavior. Unlike attacking someone for their skin color, reparative therapists can condemn the gay “lifestyle” and still claim that they are not LGBT-hating bigots.

The real science is perfectly clear. A consensus of the vast majority of psychiatrists, psychologists and other counselors and their professional organizations agree that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. Likewise, they condemn reparative therapy and other attempts to change sexual orientation.

This report is built around revelations that emerged from a lawsuit that was tried in New Jersey last year. Represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other attorneys, several gay plaintiffs sued Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH (formerly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality), under a state consumer fraud law.

The case did not go well for JONAH. The judge in the case barred almost all testimony from the six experts proffered by the defendants, saying that “the theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel but like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it instead is outdated and refuted.” In the end, the plaintiffs won a hands down victory and JONAH went out of business. But in depositions and the trial itself, the creepy world of reparative therapy was laid bare.

Nude group exercises and one-on-one therapy, re-enactments of past sexual abuse, group cuddling, and counseling blaming parents were normal. Bizarre practices included using anti-LGBT slurs, basketballs and even a pair of oranges representing testicles. Plaintiffs were told that living as gay men would reduce their lifespans, subject them to terrible diseases, and ensure miserable lives.

The practice of reparative therapy, which one expert estimates has been administered to one in three LGBT youths in recent years, is unconscionable, particularly when it is forced on young people by parents who are often trying to do what they think is best for their children. A number of experts have shown clearly that such therapy is unethical and utterly counterproductive.

Based on this study, the SPLC recommends several steps:

Continue reading at:  https://www.splcenter.org/20160525/quacks-conversion-therapists-anti-lgbt-right-and-demonization-homosexuality

Dear Creepy Heterosexual Men Guarding Our Bathrooms

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kasey-rosehodge/dear-creepy-heterosexual-men-guarding-our-bathrooms_b_10105512.html
 
Kasey Rose-Hodge 05/23/2016

My entire life, I’ve been told to fear you in one way or another. I’ve been told to cover my body as to not distract you in school, to cover my body to help avoid unwanted advances or comments, to cover my body as to not tempt you to sexually assault me, to reject your unwanted advances politely as to not anger you. I’ve been taught to never walk alone at night, to hold my keys in my fist while walking in parking lots, to check the backseat of my car, to not drink too much because you might take advantage of me. I’ve been told what I should and shouldn’t do with my body as to not jeopardize my relationships with you.
I’ve been warned not to emasculate you, to let “boys be boys,” to protect your fragile ego and to not tread on your even more fragile masculinity. I’ve been taught to keep my emotions in check, to let you be the unit of measure for how much emotion is appropriate and to adjust my emotions accordingly. I’ve been taught that you’re allowed to categorize women into mothers/sisters/girlfriends/wives/daughters but any woman outside of your protected categories is fair game.
So to those of you who think you’re being helpful by “protecting” me and my fellow women, you’re like a shark sitting in the lifeguard chair. I wasn’t uncomfortable until you showed up at the pool and the only potential predator I see is you.
Your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives and daughters don’t need you to walk them to the bathroom for safety. Your fathers, brothers, friends and sons need to walk themselves away from their own double standards. Women are sexually harassed and sexually assaulted on school campuses, on the street, at their jobs, on the Internet, in their own homes, in ANY public place. And it has been excused or ignored for so long because of what you and I are taught from the first years of our interactions with each other: You, as a male, are not accountable for your own actions. It’s MY responsibility, as a female, to not “provoke” you. But then you get to knight-in-shining-armor your way through life for those in your protected categories and I am expected to applaud you. Why the outrage now over bathrooms? Why aren’t you outraged every single day?
If you’re telling me that there are high volumes of boys and men out there, in schools or in general, who are just waiting for a “loop-hole” to sexually assault girls and women, we have bigger problems on our hands than bathrooms. The first problem would be your apparent lack of knowledge of how often it happens OUTSIDE of bathrooms, with no “loop holes” needed. This isn’t about transgender bathroom access. This is about you not trusting the boys and men in your communities and/or fearing that they’re all secretly predators. Why do you have this fear? How many fathers have panicked when their daughters started dating because they “know how teenage boys can be because they used to be one”? How many times have girls been warned “boys are only after one thing”? A mother can bring her young son into the women’s restroom and that’s fine but a father bringing his young daughter into the men’s restroom is disturbing because men are assumed to be predators and “little girls” shouldn’t be exposed to that.
So instead of picking up your sword and heading to Target or the girls’ locker room to defend our “rights,” why don’t you start somewhere that could actually make a difference? Challenge your children’s schools to end sexist dress codes and dress codes that sexualize girls as young as age 5. Advocate for proper (or any) sex education classes in all public schools by a certain grade level. Focus more on teaching your sons not to rape vs teaching your daughters how to avoid being raped. Stop asking “How would you feel if that was your mother or sister?” It shouldn’t take the comparison to clue you in to what’s right or wrong. Question why you’re more worried about your daughter being around men than your son being around women in bathrooms and dressing rooms. Stop walking by Victoria’s Secret with no problem but covering your son’s eyes if a woman is breastfeeding in public. Stop treating your daughter’s body as some fortress you’re sworn to protect as if that’s all she’s got to offer the world.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It's illegal to discriminate 'because of sex.' But what does that actually mean?

From The Los Angeles Times:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0515-thomas-title-vii-evolution-20160515-story.html
 
By Gillian Thomas
May 16, 2016

 
he Department of Justice last week threw down the gauntlet in North Carolina, filing a lawsuit alleging that the state violated federal anti-discrimination laws by restricting trans individuals' access to bathrooms in state government buildings. One of those federal laws, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, forbids employment discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion – and sex. DOJ says that North Carolina has engaged in sex discrimination, because, in DOJ's view, “sex” includes “gender identity.”

The government's interpretation of that word — “sex” — has broadened significantly since Title VII's passage. Indeed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency created by Title VII and vested with primary enforcement authority for the statute, initially understood “because of sex” to mean no more than overt disadvantages to women in favor of men, and showed no interest in enforcing the provision at all. It's taken decades for the legal understanding of sex to arrive at where it is today, and it's a progression that maps, and mirrors, our cultural understanding of sex as more than just biology.
———————
“Sex” was added to Title VII's list of protected characteristics at the last minute by Rep. Howard Smith of Virginia, an avowed opponent of the Civil Rights Act. Although Smith was, incongruously, a longtime supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, his jocular tone during much of the floor debate on the sex amendment suggested that he was less than serious about winning its adoption. (Historians have come to believe that Smith likely was sincere, if only because he feared that an employment rights bill that protected against race but not sex discrimination would place white women at a disadvantage in the workplace.) The amendment ultimately passed, but not without a good deal of bemused commentary from House members — only 12 of whom were women — at the notion that women should stand on equal footing in the workplace.

The unceremonious addition of “sex” to Title VII prompted a dismissive attitude among the EEOC's leadership. When a reporter at a press conference asked Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., the agency's first Chair, “What about sex?” he had only a joke for an answer. “Don't get me started,” he said. “I'm all for it.” Another of the agency's first leaders wrote off the Title VII sex provision as a “fluke” that was “born out of wedlock.”
 
Not surprisingly, then, although fully one-third of the charges filed with the EEOC in its first year of existence alleged sex discrimination, the agency was slow to articulate what illegal discrimination “because of sex” even meant. It waffled, for instance, on whether to sanction job ads that were separated into “help wanted — male” and “help wanted — female,” or the airline industry's widespread rules that female flight attendants couldn't be married, over the age of 30 or pregnant.
But thanks to pressure from feminist lawyers within the EEOC, as well as forces outside it — notably the National Organization for Women, founded in part to protest the agency's cavalier Title VII enforcement — the agency began to right itself.

In 1968, it ruled that sex-segregated ads violated Title VII, and that flight attendants should not be subject to marriage and age restrictions. In 1972, it updated its “Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Sex” to prohibit pregnancy discrimination and sex-differentiated terms in employer pension plans. In even later versions of the Guidelines, the EEOC disapproved “fetal protection policies” that disqualified women from jobs that involved exposure to dangerous chemicals, declared bias against workers with caregiving responsibilities to be a form of sex discrimination, and adopted a definition of pregnancy discrimination that imposed robust obligations on employers to accommodate pregnant employees' physical limitations.

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0515-thomas-title-vii-evolution-20160515-story.html

Why Are Jews the Only Minority We Don’t Protect On College Campuses?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-my-campus-jews-are-the-only-minority-we-dont-protect_us_572a9b98e4b046ff51c08a44

Michael Sitver05/05/2016

Last week, some students at University of Chicago, where I attend, proposed a resolution to our College Council to divest from Chinese weapons manufacturers, in protest of China’s severe human rights abuses and its long-standing occupation of Tibet.

Members of the council were quick to condemn the resolution, and for good reason. The members noted it was political, and disrespectful to Chinese students. Other members noted that Chinese students should be given time to respond to the presenters with a counter-presentation. One representative even suggested that the College Council issue an apology to Chinese students for even considering the resolution. The resolution was tabled indefinitely.

Curiously, when a few weeks earlier the same College Council passed a nearly identical resolution condemning Israel, no one suggested an apology. These same representatives argued why it was their moral imperative to condemn Israel. They were determined to push this through at all costs, and despite requests, they didn’t even offer the other side an opportunity to present.

Over the past few weeks I have been told that Jews “don’t count” as a minority. I have been accused of using anti-semitism to justify oppression. All I want to know is why my campus doesn’t treat anti-semitism with the same rigor with which it treats any other forms of bias.

When Jews stood before the council, and asked that it recognize the Jewish right to self-determination, a basic right for all people, people in the room laughed. One representative noted that “If we were to affirm the right to Jewish self-determination … it takes away from the intent of the resolution”.

Students in the room that day called us racists and murderers and “apartheid supporters”, for even thinking we, as Jews, could have a voice in the discussion over the one small state we call our own. A Jewish student was chided “You are racist and you are against me and my family’s existence”. It was uncivil, and unproductive, but the council-members did not once that day condemn the personal nature of these attacks, or defend the rights of the opposition to make their case.

At one point, a student questioned the presenters, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), about their organization allegedly holding a moment of silence for Palestinians who were killed while trying to murder Jewish Civilians. One of the presenters confirmed the moment, then responded without missing a beat “Palestinians have a right to honor their martyrs”.

If the killing of any other ethnic group had been celebrated, the University would make grief counselors available. It would send out mass emails of condemnation. They would suspend the organization responsible, and possibly the students involved in it. The organization would certainly not have any credibility to present to the student government. Since the victims were Jews though, their celebration of murder went unchallenged. The representatives never even brought the issue up.

On the third slide of the presentation in favor of the resolution, presenters claimed that voting against the resolution would mean “maintaining a system of domination by Jews”. The presenters were relying on one of the most common, long-standing, overtly anti-semitic tropes to make their case, and our representatives said nothing.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-my-campus-jews-are-the-only-minority-we-dont-protect_us_572a9b98e4b046ff51c08a44

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Antisemitism has rocked Labour’s self-belief

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/28/antisemitism-rocked-labour-self-belief

Party members assumed they were the good guys, incapable of prejudice. But now Ken Livingstone and Naz Shah have laid bare the left’s capacity for racism

Thursday 28 April 2016

Actually, you’re just like a concentration camp guard. You’re just doing it because you’re paid to, aren’t you?” If you’re Jewish, and live in London, you might dimly recall those words. But if not, here’s a clue. They were spoken to a Jewish reporter a decade ago by the man who today indignantly described himself as having fought a lifelong battle against discrimination – shortly before being suspended from the Labour party for potentially bringing it into disrepute with clumsy references to Hitler.

Rereading the transcript of that 2005 exchange between Ken Livingstone and a hapless Evening Standard reporter today, what takes the breath away isn’t the rather tasteless suggestion from London’s then mayor that anyone working for a paper whose owners he disliked was probably “a German war criminal” in a previous life. It’s that when the reporter explained he was Jewish and was offended by the Nazi reference, Livingstone didn’t stop. He doubled down on the concentration camp stuff, took his spade and kept digging. And he got away with it. There were calls for his resignation, of course, but he got away with it.

He carried on being mayor for another two years, and has carried on ever since being feted by people who would have bayed for the blood of any Tory making racially insensitive remarks to a black reporter. He went on blithely to suggest that Jews have stopped voting Labour because they’re rich, and still didn’t really seem to see what the problem was; but then, he was surrounded by people who didn’t seem to want to see the problem either.

And that’s one explanation for how a politician as naturally gifted as Livingstone could ever think it a good idea to summon Hitler as a witness for the defence, when defending his party against allegations of antisemitism.

Perhaps he has simply lost sight of how it looks, outside the circles – once fringe, now mainstream in the Labour party – in which he moves. You could see today’s extraordinary day of bloodletting – which saw first the suspension of the Labour MP Naz Shah for pre-election Facebook posts suggesting Israel be forcibly transported to the US, and then that of Livingstone for only making matters worse – simply as payback for all the times someone got away with it. Fail to challenge dubious attitudes and they quickly seep into the mainstream.

But there is another possible explanation, and that’s the belief found close to many left wing hearts that they, and they alone, are the good guys – the champions of equality and fairness – and therefore incapable of prejudice. They don’t need to question their assumptions, or take a long hard look in the mirror, because the racists are the other guys.

As Ken explained in injured tones to the BBC’s Martha Kearney today, real racism is when you’re rude to your neighbour’s face in Stoke Newington, which he’d never do. And anyway, racists would hardly be attracted to Labour, would they? To which one could almost hear his colleagues screaming at the radio; well if they weren’t before, mate, they might now.

Continue reading:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/28/antisemitism-rocked-labour-self-belief

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/29/left-jews-labour-antisemitism-jewish-identity

The row over Ken Livingstone and Labour antisemitism has exposed people who think they’re anti-racist – but make a curious exception for Jews

Friday 29 April 2016

Let’s imagine for just a moment that a small but vocal section of the left was consumed with hatred for one faraway country: barely an hour could pass without them condemning it, not just for this or for that policy, but for its very existence, for the manner of its birth, for what it represented. And now let’s imagine that this country was the only place in the world where the majority of the population, and most of the government, were black.

You’d expect the racist right to hate such a country. But imagine it was that noisy segment of the left that insisted it would be better if this one black country had never been created, that it was the source of most of the conflict in its region, if not the world. That its creation was a great historical crime and the only solution was to dismantle it and the people who lived there should either go back to where they – or rather, their grandparents or great-grandparents – had come from; or stay where they were and, either way, return to living as a minority once more. Sure, living as a minority had over the centuries exposed them to periodic persecution and slaughter. But living as a majority, in charge of their own destiny – well, black people didn’t deserve that right.

And now imagine that the people who said all these things insisted they had nothing against black people. On the contrary, they were passionately against all forms of racism. In fact it was their very anti-racism that made them hate this one black country. Their objection was only to this country, its conduct and its existence, not to black people themselves. You surely were only inventing this horrible accusation of racism to divert attention from the wicked black country and its multiple crimes.

Most on the left would give such a view short shrift. They would be suspicious of this insistence that loathing of the world’s only black country was separate from attitudes to black people in general, especially because most black people had a strong affinity with this country, seeing it as a constitutive part of their own identity. The left would not be swayed by the fact these critics could point to a handful of black activists who shared their loathing of this country and wished it gone. They would want to listen to the mainstream black community and be guided by them.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Jews have watched the events of recent days with a weariness that might surprise many, given how shocking they must seem: the sight of Ken Livingstone suspended by the Labour party over antisemitism, along with the Bradford West MP, Naz Shah. Weary because they have known of these attitudes, indeed warned that they had found a warm space to incubate on the left, for many, many years.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/29/left-jews-labour-antisemitism-jewish-identity

Monday, May 9, 2016

Free Speech and Islam — The Left Betrays the Most Vulnerable

From Quillette: http://quillette.com/2016/05/05/free-speech-and-islam-the-left-betrays-the-most-vulnerable/
 
by Jeffrey Tayler May 5, 2016

When surveying the ill-informed, shoddy work that at times passes as in-depth journalism regarding Islam these days, a rationalist may well be tempted to slip into a secular simulacrum of John Bunyan’s Slough of Despond.  In reputable press outlets, articles regularly appear in which the author proceeds from an erroneous premise through a fallacious argument to a fatuous conclusion.  Compound all this — especially in the main case I’m about to discuss, that of the British former Islamist turned reformer, Maajid Nawaz — with the apparent intent to defame or cast aspersions, and you get worthless artifacts of journalistic malfeasance that should be dismissed out of hand, but that, given the seriousness of the subject, nevertheless merit attention.

For starters, a few words about premises and some necessary background.  Those who deploy the “stupid term” (see Christopher Hitchens) “Islamophobia” to silence critics of the faith hold, in essence, that Muslims deserve to be approached as a race apart, and not as equals, not as individual adults capable of rational choice, but as lifelong members of an immutable, sacrosanct community, whose (often highly illiberal) views must not be questioned, whose traditions (including the veiling of women) must not be challenged, whose scripturally inspired violence must be explained away as the inevitable outcome of Western interventionism in the Middle East or racism and “marginalization” in Western countries.

Fail to exhibit due respect for Islam — not Muslims as people, Islam — and you risk being excoriated, by certain progressives, as an “Islamophobe,” as a fomenter of hatred for an underprivileged minority, as an abettor of Donald Trump and his bigoted policy proposals, and, most illogically, as a racist.

Islam, however, is not a race, but a religion — that is, a man-made ideological construct of assertions (deriving authority not from evidence, but from “revelation,” just as Christianity and Judaism do) about the origins and future of the cosmos and mankind, accompanied by instructions to mankind about how to behave.  Those who believe in Islam today may — and some do — reject it tomorrow.  (Atheism has, in fact, been spreading in the Muslim world.)

Calling the noun Islamophobia “sinister,” Ali A. Rizvi, a Canadian Pakistani-born physician and prominent figure among former Muslims in North America, told me via Skype recently that the word “actually takes the pain of genuine victims of anti-Muslim bigotry and uses that pain, it exploits it for the political purpose of stifling criticism of Islam.”  In fact, denying Islam’s role in, for instance, misogynist violence in the Muslim world, said Rizvi, is itself racist and “incredibly bigoted, because you’re saying that it’s not these ideas and beliefs and this indoctrination [in Islam] that cause” the “disproportionately high numbers of violent, misogynistic people in Muslim majority countries, it’s just in their DNA.”

Also, remember that Islam claims jurisdiction not just over its followers, but over us all, with a message directed to humanity as a whole.  Which means Islam should be susceptible to critique by all.  People, whatever their faith (or lack thereof) deserve respect; their ideologies?  Not necessarily.  In fact, the cornerstone of any free society is freedom of expression – a freedom impeded by labeling as “phobic” those who would object to an ideology.

Continue reading at:  http://quillette.com/2016/05/05/free-speech-and-islam-the-left-betrays-the-most-vulnerable/

‘They’: the singular pronoun that could solve sexism in English

I've been using "they" and "their" as both singular and plural pronouns since the 1970s when I rebeled against the use of "he" and "his" as the supposedly gender neutral singular pronoun.  When I was told that a pronoun couldn't be both singular and plural I responded, "You must be kidding, as "you" and "your" are regularly used that way.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/may/05/they-the-singular-pronoun-that-could-solve-sexism-in-english

You only need four letters to take a stand against the prejudice embedded in the English language

Thursday 5 May 2016

I got in trouble over a four-letter word the other day. None of the ones you are thinking of: it was “they” that caused a fracas that Jeremy Clarkson would have been proud of.

At the start of 2016, the good folks of the American Dialect Society got together to crown their Word of the Year. They (see what I’m doing here) have decided that the word could now be used as a singular pronoun, flexing the English language so a plural could denote a singular, genderless, individual.

They has long been used in the singular in English, but not to denote genderlessness. One of the earliest examples comes from Geoffrey Chaucer in 1395, who wrote in The Pardoner’s Tale: “And whoso fyndeth hym out of swich blame, They wol come up…” Shakespeare followed in 1594, in The Comedy of Errors: There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me/As if I were their well-acquainted friend”. It took a few centuries for they to pop up in reference to women: Jane Austen uses they in the singular 75 times in Pride and Prejudice (1813) and as Rosalind muses in 1848’s Vanity Fair: “A person can’t help their birth.”

Around 1809, Samuel Taylor Coleridge rejected “he” as the generic pronoun (“in order to avoid particularising man or woman, or in order to express either sex indifferently”, he wrote in his notebooks), settling on “it” as an ideal, neutral solution. Roughly around the same time, the philosopher John Stuart Mill was struggling to define the philosophy of language itself: what we could know – if anything – beyond our language? Mill came to the conclusion that language tells us what is thinkable, possible; so, if a young woman never sees the word “she” or “they”, could she naturally know that “he” represented her, too? No. In this sense, women were inherently excluded.

Growing up almost two centuries later, I was just supposed to understand that language excluded me because I was a girl: I was out, except when it came to naming hurricanes and referring to ships. I was once told as a kid that all hurricanes were female because women were so destructive; a barbed comment I never questioned because at the time I already sensed some things were easier if you were a boy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2016/may/05/they-the-singular-pronoun-that-could-solve-sexism-in-english

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Left's hatred of Jews chills me to the bone

From The Telegraph UK:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/28/the-lefts-hatred-of-jews-chills-me-to-the-bone/
 
Stephen Pollard 28 April 2016

As a young boy, I used to think my grandma very strange. In her bedroom she kept a suitcase, packed and ready for use at a moment’s notice. “Just in case,” she’d tell me when I asked where it was that she was always waiting to go to. “You never know when they’ll turn on the Jews.”

Her house in Northwood was epitome of suburban comfort, and I couldn’t understand what on earth she meant. Until, that is, I learned some history – including the history of the Jews. Which is, in short, that pretty much everywhere, they have turned on the Jews.

From my teens through my twenties and thirties, the fact that I am Jewish meant little to me beyond the Jonathan Miller sense of being Jew-ish. I adored beigels, matzoh balls, Seinfeld and Woody Allen more than your average gentile would think they deserved. And that was about it. If you’d asked me, I’d have told you that after the Holocaust, real, serious anti-Semitism – the sort where Jews were killed for being Jews, rather than the odd nasty comment – was a thing of the past, in civilised Europe, at least.

Then something happened. 9/11, to be specific. I realised something was up that I didn’t really understand. So I read and read and read. And then read some more – especially the words of the terrorists and their fellow Islamists. They were explicit and open. Jews were the enemy. All their "issues" with the West pivoted, in the end, on their Jew hate. So I immersed myself even more in the issues around terrorism and Islamism. Because, you see, it mattered.

It matters, of course, to all of us, because – as we have seen both on 9/11 and ever since, Islamist terrorism is not specific in its targeting. But it matters to me more, I would say, than anything else I can think of. Because although these maniacs will happily kill anyone, they say, and their subsequent murders show, that – quite specifically – they want to kill me. A Jew. So on level I am not in the least bit shocked, or even surprised, by the reemergence of Jew hatred as a thing in recent years. By what arrogance would we think that our generation, alone in history, would be free of the oldest hatred?

But on another, more visceral level, it chills me to the bone. And it’s not the terrorists. They threaten me, of course, as they threaten us all. Yet to me, the real chill comes from their fellow travelers – the useful idiots of the terrorists and Jew-murderers who say they do not have a racist bone in their body, but when it comes to Jews, a blind spot emerges. The likes, to be blunt, of the now suspended Ken Livingstone, who claims never to have come across a single example of Anti-semitism in the Labour Party. He clearly has never looked in the mirror. Much has been written – especially by the brilliant Nick Cohen – on the "Red/Green Alliance"; the phenomenon by which a swathe of the Left has linked up with radical Islam, leading to the bizarre spectacle of Leftist feminists supporting Islamists who would cut off the hands of women who read books.

With "anti-Western-imperialism" as part of the glue binding the alliance, everything else falls into place. So Hamas and Hezbollah might have as their defining goal the elimination of an entire people from the face of the earth, but that unfortunate consequence for Jews is by the by, because Hamas and Hezbollah are freedom fighters.

Continue reading at:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/28/the-lefts-hatred-of-jews-chills-me-to-the-bone/

When Slogans Replace Arguments

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:  http://chronicle.com/article/Slogans-Have-Replaced/236099
 

April 17, 2016 


Many critics of the students protesting racism so vociferously on college campuses these days say they are just "whiners" who need to accept that life isn’t perfect and get back to their books. Political correctness has run so rampant, these critics say, that it threatens freedom of speech. Both claims are reductive analyses of something more complex.

But the fact is that one need not suffer from residual bigotry, or even mere incomprehension, to find something amiss in the furious building takeovers, indignant slates of radical demands, and claims that life on today’s college campuses is an endless experience of racism. Protest is crucial in an enlightened and complex society, but something has indeed gone wrong — and college leaders and the faculty share as much of the blame as the students.

The "whiny" analysis is hasty — the now-famous lists of students’ demands always include some legitimate concerns. For example, if I were an undergraduate at Princeton today, Woodrow Wilson’s name on university buildings would rankle me. I am given neither to street-style protest nor to the idea that public buildings must be purged of the names of all figures whose social views we now find unpleasant. But Wilson, for all of his accomplishments, was especially bigoted even for his era and Southern origins.

More to the point, the claim that a college campus should be a locus of absolutely unfettered free speech is a pose. There are certain opinions and topics which an enlightened society can today justifiably exclude from discussion. No university any of us would want to be associated with would entertain "free speech" in favor of genocide, slavery, or withdrawing women’s right to vote, even in the vein of airing them in order to review the arguments against them, as John Stuart Mill advised be done with repugnant ideas. There comes a point where all will agree that we have made at least some progress in social history and, in the interests of time and energy, need not revisit issues that have been decided. The question, however, is which issues, and this is where our current student protesters err in their confidence.

The tenor of their protests is founded on an assumption — tacit but, like most tacit assumptions, decisive — that they are battling something as unequivocally, conclusively intolerable as genocide, slavery, or the withdrawal of women’s suffrage: namely, "racism." And of course, none of us are in favor of racism, which allows their rhetoric a certain potency. One resists opposing a battle declared on such terms. However, these students have been allowed to suppose that racism is a much simpler concept than it is. The reason they come off as "whiners" is because their demands address problems more specific than "racism," ones that are very much up for intelligent, civil debate.

For example, what is a microaggression? What is the proper response to experiencing one, or being accused of having committed one? These are rich issues. In New York City it has been classified as a microaggression for affluent, white high school students to discuss their expensive vacations around black students. But then, on most campuses, it is also considered a microaggression to assume that most black people are poor. What is the etiquette here? Respectable minds will differ. Black campus protesters have claimed that it is a microaggression when a black student is expected to testify to the black experience in a class discussion. However, this runs up against one of the main planks of race-conscious admissions policies: that having black students on campus is valuable for exposing others to black experiences and concerns. There is no easy answer here, which is why, again, a discussion is appropriate. To dismiss as "racist" any questions about such issues is simplistic.

Continue reading at:  http://chronicle.com/article/Slogans-Have-Replaced/236099

Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond

From The New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/thriving-at-age-70-and-beyond/
 
By Jane E. Brody April 25, 2016

A recently published book, “70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade,” inspired me to take a closer look at how I’m doing as I approach 75 and how I might make the most of the years to come. It would be a good idea for women in my age cohort to do likewise. With a quarter of American women age 65 expected to live into their 90s, there could be quite a few years to think about.

It’s not the first time I’ve considered the implications of longevity. When one of my grandsons at age 8 asked, “Grandma, will you still be alive when I get married?” I replied, “I certainly hope so. I want to dance at your wedding.” But I followed up with a suggestion that he marry young!

Still, his innocent query reminded me to continue to pursue a healthy lifestyle of wholesome food, daily exercise and supportive social connections. While there are no guarantees, like many other women now in their 70s, I’ve already outlived both my parents, my mother having died at 49 and my father at 71.

If I have one fear as the years climb, it’s that I won’t be able to fit in all I want to see and do before my time is up, so I always plan activities while I can still do them.

I book cycling and hiking trips to parts of the world I want to visit and schedule visits to distant friends and family to be sure I make them happen. In a most pragmatic moment, I crocheted a gender-neutral blanket for my first great-grandchild, but attached a loving note in case I’m no longer around to give it in person.

Of course, advancing age has taken — and will continue to take — its incremental toll. I often wake up wobbly, my back hates rainy days, and I no longer walk, cycle or swim as fast as I used to. I wear sensible shoes and hold the handrail going up and down stairs.

I know too that, in contrast to the Energizer Bunny life I once led, I now have to husband my resources more carefully. While I’m happy to prepare a dish or two for someone else’s gathering, my energy for and interest in hosting dinner parties have greatly diminished. And though I love to go to the theater, concerts, movies and parties, I also relish spending quiet nights at home with my Havanese, Max, for company.

Continue reading at:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/25/thriving-at-age-70-and-beyond/

Liberal Redneck - American Family Association Boycotts Target

I've never much felt a need to go through life avoiding offending people.  I remember people being offended with my being a hippie, a dyke and a whole bunch of other things.

This is why I'm so anti-political correctness.  I have a hard time seeing much difference between left wing and right wing Social Justice Warriors.  They all want to infringe on other peoples rights.