Displaying posts published in

March 2018

Is Greece about to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital? by Maria Polizoidou

Two distinguished members of Greece’s parliament, whose party has a good chance of defeating the current leadership, are breathing new life into the political system and reinvigorating crucial partnerships with Israel and the United States.

“The positions of the Palestinians are maximalist and dangerous, since they actually propose the Islamization of the city. Palestinian Islamist organizations, like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have repeatedly launched threats against the non-Muslim population of Jerusalem. Islamists visualize a Jerusalem without churches and synagogues. On the other hand, the Israeli Knesset has recognized since 1980 the multi-religious character of Jerusalem and is committed to the unimpeded access of all believers to places of worship…” — MP Makis Voridis, a former minister from the New Democracy party, writing in the Greek daily Kathimerini.

On his return from a recent two-day trip to Israel — where he met with high-level officials — Adonis Georgiadis, the vice president of Greece’s opposition party, New Democracy, declared his support for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In an interview with Skai Radio on March 7, Georgiadis called it “almost funny to discuss whether Jerusalem is a Jewish city or not.”

“[It] was founded by the Jews… in ancient times. You can read Flavius Josephus or read Diodoros Siceliotis and see the references to the city of Jerusalem, where there was the High Priest of Solomon’s Temple and that it was the city of the Jews. This is the reality.”

The Girls of Revolution Street, Waving Their Veils By Annika Hernroth-Rothstein

Brave Iranian women are risking their lives in the fight for freedom. We owe them our support.

In Iran, women and girls in recent weeks have been removing their veils, waving them in the air like flags of freedom. With this gesture, they’re staging a nonviolent protest against the mullahs’ regime and the law, imposed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, that requires women to wear the hijab.

The campaign started just before the New Year, as part of a larger anti-government protest, after a photo of a young woman, dressed in black and silently waving her white hijab on the end of a stick, went viral. That young woman was Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother of one, and the image of her bravery inspired many of Iran’s women to join her in solidarity and protest.

Vida Movahed took off her headscarf on Enghelab Street in Tehran. “Enghelab” is the Farsi word for revolution, so the movement she inspired was soon dubbed “The Girls of Revolution Street.” Day by day, with the help of social media, the movement has grown. There had been seeds of protest before, most notably in the online social movement My Stealthy Freedom, in which Iranian women shared images of themselves without the compulsory hijab. And online activist and exiled Iranian Masih Alinejad had started the hashtag #WhiteWednesdays to protest the forced hijab. But the hijab-waving of Vida Movahed brought that movement from the Internet to the streets, at great personal risk for those who dare to participate.

The Big Tech Backlash By Theodore Kupfer

Cultural conservatives and social democrats find a common enemy.

‘Conservatives are zeroing in on a new enemy in the political culture wars: Big Tech.” So say Michael M. Grynbaum and John Herrman in the New York Times, and there is plenty of evidence to support the claim. Grynbaum and Herrman report that the author of Clinton Cash, Peter Schweizer, is making a movie about the left-wing bias of social-media titans. James Damore, the erstwhile author of the Google Memo who was fired for questioning the company creed on diversity, is now a conservative favorite thanks to his naive decision to associate with opportunists such as Stefan Molyneux and CPAC. If three makes a trend, look no further than these pages, where Ben Shapiro argued this past Wednesday that tech companies are engaged in viewpoint discrimination against right-wing journalism.

Conservatives fear that Silicon Valley, where employees and executives are generally liberal, will suppress conservative speech on their platforms. But they aren’t the only ones questioning the once-prevailing wisdom that Silicon Valley, a bastion of free enterprise and creative capitalism, is a positive force. On the other side, some liberals blame Facebook and Twitter for putting Donald Trump in office or otherwise corroding our democracy, and argue that tech companies should be more censorious. Even further to the port side, progressives assail the industry for both being too profitable and epitomizing late-capitalist decadence. It all adds up to a strange-bedfellows backlash against Big Tech, new for an industry accustomed to amiable public relations.

The worry that Facebook and Google will suppress conservative speech might be the latest fixation of resentful, exasperated right-wingers. But it is also a concern about something that has already happened: Facebook was caught suppressing conservative news, and the new fact-checking service on Google seems to have a skew of its own. As Michael Brendan Dougherty has warned, such bias could worsen if c-suite executives in Silicon Valley listen to the stern clarion calls of their fellow elites.

Yet what makes an alliance of strange bedfellows possible is that the progressive critique of Big Tech is striking a chord. The attacks on its business practices point to a potentially real problem, though occasionally go too far. But as the carefully preened reputation among hipster tech tycoons and employees that their business was unlike other industries collapses, left-wing skepticism of the culture of Silicon Valley is becoming more resonant.

The Sliming of Bari Weiss By David French

If you follow at all the ideological war that’s erupted around the New York Times editorial page, then you know Bari Weiss. It’s too much to call Bari conservative. A better description might be heterodox. On some issues, particularly social issues and immigration, she’s a woman of the Left. On others — regarding, for example, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, she’s on the right. She’s a also stalwart in the defense of civil liberties and has written powerfully against the excesses of the #MeToo movement, the embrace of the terrorist Assata Shakur by the leaders of the Women’s March, and has most recently decried the shout-downs and intolerance of the “woke” campus Left.

The backlash has been furious. Like most public figures, she’s subject to more than her fair share of online attacks, but in her case it’s been particularly vicious and silly. Recently, she had to endure a multi-day torrent of abuse because she had the audacity to tweet “Immigrants: They get the job done” after the American daughter of Japanese immigrants won an Olympic medal. That was “othering,” the online mobs claimed, and internally at the New York Times, at least one colleague hysterically compared her tweet to Japanese internment. Yes, to Japanese internment.

While it’s never pleasant to face the social-justice mob, serious people paid no mind to attacks on Bari’s tweet, but now there’s a new charge, that she’s committed the last remaining sin in American public life. The charge is hypocrisy, and elements of the online Left, led by Glenn Greenwald, have tried her and found her guilty.

They’re wrong. The claims are absurd. I know. I was there.

I’ll get to my involvement in a moment, but the substance of the charge against Bari is that during her college days at Columbia, she was guilty of the exact kind of campus bullying that she now decries. Her critics claim that she tried to silence and intimidate pro-Palestinian professors at Columbia, that she was a threat to academic freedom. Greenwald claims that she has a “history of trying to ruin the careers of Arab and Muslim scholars for the crime of criticizing Israel.”

He then details her involvement in a controversy I know very, very well. In 2004, an organization called the David Project published Columbia Unbecoming, a short documentary. In the film, 14 current and former Columbia students recounted alleged incidents of anti-Semitism and intimidation in what was then the university’s department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures.

New Left Thinkers: Pursuing Utopia or Annihilation? A review of Roger Scruton’s “Fools, Frauds and Firebrands.” Bruce Davidson

How did we arrive at a world where the New York Times and other prominent mass media extol leaders of the brutal North Korean regime at the Olympics? The answer is that our current mainstream journalists and educational establishment are largely the ideological offspring of the European and American thinkers of the New Left.

Thanks to Roger Scruton’s book Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left, I can now better understand my own experiences of contemporary academia. Until fifteen years ago I devoted a lot of effort to promoting critical thinking in higher education in Japan and Asia. Then I came up against widespread resistance among academics to the inculcation of rationality and eventually gave up on many of those efforts, mystified by the current ascendency of relativistic thinking in the university world. Even more puzzling has been the emergence of Marxist thought among evangelical intellectuals like Tim Keller.

A conservative British philosopher and prolific writer, Roger Scruton does a superb job of explaining how this state of affairs came about. He probes the writings of many influential European and American New Left thinkers, such as Sartre, Said, Foucault, Adorno, Derrida, Rorty, and Zizek. Rather than trying to cover his analysis of these writers in detail, this review will bring out some prominent themes of the whole book that impressed me, including some representative quotes.

To begin with, the New Left thinkers clearly revealed their hostility to ordinary people and their traditions. Like the older Marxists before them, they demonized the bourgeoisie, which basically means middle-class people. Only industrial laborers and leftist intellectuals escape this broad condemnation.

That stance helps account for the apathy of these intellectuals toward the atrocities carried out by leftist leaders like Stalin and Pol Pot. For instance, the French Maoist Badiou made light of the damage caused by China’s Cultural Revolution. Scruton comments that Badiou “expresses a kind of dismissive contempt towards the many Chinese people who had the impertinence to cherish their traditional culture at a time when the French intellectuals had, in their ignorance, waved that culture to extinction.” That disdain usually also applied to bourgeois ideas like human rights.

Speakers Cornered The anti-free-speech mob comes to Britain. Theodore Dalrymple

One of the most beautiful towns in England, Lewes is relatively unspoiled by the twentieth-century British architectural incompetence that has proved so destructive of urban grace, spreading the most hideous ugliness almost everywhere as a kind of metonym for social equality. From Lewes’s streets can be seen the lovely, rolling downs of Sussex, and it is curious how the sight of green hills from the center of a town or city (still possible in Dublin, for example) soothes the mind. Among Lewes’s most famous residents were Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of Man, and Charles Dawson, the man most likely to have forged Piltdown Man, the hoax human fossil whose inauthenticity was not exposed until 40 years after its “discovery” in 1912. To my great delight, Lewes’s High Street has three excellent secondhand or antiquarian bookshops.

I had been invited down to a literary event, the Lewes Speakers Festival, to talk about my recently published memoir of life as a prison doctor, The Knife Went In. I was to be the penultimate speaker, followed by a controversial conservative journalist, Katie Hopkins, who was to talk about her own recently published memoir, Rude.

The event ended in violence.

The festival organizer, Marc Rattray, had informed me in advance that there might be trouble from demonstrators who would want to prevent Hopkins from speaking. No doubt it is a measure of how detached I am from the ordinary life of my country that I had until then scarcely heard of her, for she is either loved or abominated by millions of my fellow countrymen. (I would have guessed, if put to it, that she was an actress or a pop singer.) Some love her because she says things that many think but dare not say, while others abominate her, accusing her of bigotry and spreading hatred—hatred directed at the wrong people, that is.

To say that she is unafraid of controversy or criticism is to understate the case. They are her stock-in-trade. Whatever her other qualities, she is certainly valiant. Now 42, she suffered most of her adult life from severe nocturnal epilepsy, enduring many dislocations of her shoulder as a result, until she underwent a successful operation to remove the epileptic focus in her brain. Many people with such a condition would have retired from life, as it were, especially when the state makes it possible for them to do so, but Hopkins carved out an eminent, or at least a prominent, career in journalism for herself instead.

Cali vs. USA Can leftists win the legal fight over sanctuary cities? Matthew Vadum

The Trump administration launched a long overdue legal assault this week on grotesquely unconstitutional new state laws in California that punish compliance with federal immigration laws and provide legal cover for state and local officials to continue brazenly flouting immigration laws and obstructing federal agents trying to enforce them.

Under the longstanding doctrine in American constitutional law known as “dual sovereignty,” states cannot be compelled to enforce federal immigration laws, but they are obliged not to hinder their enforcement. The so-called sanctuary cities that form the bulk of the sanctuary movement really ought to be called traitor cities because they are in open rebellion against the United States, just like the slave states that seceded from the Union before the Civil War.

The sanctuary movement gave illegal aliens permission to rob, rape, and murder Americans by, among other things, stigmatizing immigration enforcement. Some left-wingers use the dreadful euphemism “civil liberties safe zones” to describe sanctuary jurisdictions. The phrase deliberately blurs the distinction between citizens and non-citizens by implying illegal aliens somehow possess a civil right to be present in the U.S.

“Immigration law “is the province of the federal government” and while there may be “a wide variety of political opinions out there on immigration,” the law is on “the books and its purpose is clear,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told law enforcement officers attending the California Peace Officers Association’s 26th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day on Wednesday in the state capital of Sacramento.

Reforms That Could Save Lives How to prevent an incident like Parkland in New York by DJ Jaffe Chief Mike Biasotti (Ret.)

In the wake of the shootings at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 people, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature should look closely at the state’s gun and mental-health policies—both are in need of reform. New York was ahead of the curve in 2013, when it passed the NY SAFE Act requiring therapists to report the names of mentally ill people under their care believed to be dangerous and to have guns. The law requires county mental-health directors to investigate the reports, and if appropriate, instruct criminal-justice authorities to seize guns from the disturbed individuals and enter their names into a database, with the goal of precluding them from purchasing guns in the future.

The legislature should amend the SAFE Act to require more than just the removal of guns; it should mandate that officials evaluate these mentally ill individuals for inclusion in Kendra’s Law, New York’s most successful program for dealing with potentially violent, mentally ill people who fail to comply with treatment. Kendra’s Law lets courts order individuals who have engaged in “one or more acts, attempts or threats of serious violent behavior toward self or others” to receive up to one year of treatment while they continue to live in the community. It has reduced incarceration, homelessness, and hospitalization by around 70 percent, saving taxpayers 50 percent of the cost of care.

Kendra’s Law itself needs to be made permanent and strengthened. We have identified more than 20 technical changes that would keep patients, the public, and police safer, but perhaps the most important change is to get the New York State Office of Mental Health to take leadership in implementing the law. At the Joint Budget Hearing on mental health in February, OMH Commissioner Ann Sullivan did not even mention Kendra’s Law, in spite of multiple questions from legislators on how to reduce the mental illness-to-jail pipeline. OMH regularly sends its speakers to community events, but none of the brochures they hand out tell family members how to get loved ones into Kendra’s Law. Governor Cuomo should insist that mental-health departments focus on helping the most seriously ill, rather than concentrating on the “worried well.”

Study: Climate Change May Cause More Heart Attacks By Tom Knighton

Climate change is amazing! In addition to being responsible for colder temperatures, warmer temperatures, less snowfall, more snowfall, and terrorism, now it seems that it can also cause heart attacks.

Yes, someone really said that.

University of Michigan cardiologist Hedvig Andersson recently stated: “Global warming is expected to cause extreme weather events, which may, in turn, result in large day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. … Our study suggests that such fluctuations in outdoor temperature could potentially lead to an increased number of heart attacks and affect global cardiac health in the future.”

In other words, as we experience more extreme weather, it will put more strain on people’s hearts, thus creating more heart attacks.

Anderson notes that while the body has processes for dealing with fairly extreme weather, it might be too much for our natural systems to deal with. “While the body has effective systems for responding to changes in temperature, it might be that more rapid and extreme fluctuations create more stress on those systems, which could contribute to health problems,” he said.

The truth is that this was an epidemiological study that simply looked at the weather and hospital records and looked for a correlation. As we all know, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. In this case, the greater the temperature swing, the greater the supposed risk for a heart attack.

Feminist prof says husband’s repeated requests for sex were violations By Ed Straker

Vox had a very long op-ed by an anonymous feminist professor who claims she was violated every time her husband had sex with her. She “acquiesced,” learning coping strategies, such as reading a book to keep her upper half occupied while her husband engaged her lower half.

On the nights when I couldn’t get out of it, we used a method that I had taught myself to tolerate and that he, astoundingly, tolerated as well: I read a book to distract myself for as long as I could while he did the thing he needed to do. I did not let him kiss me for the last several years of our marriage. That was the rule: You can f— me, but you can’t kiss me, and I don’t have to pretend to like it.

Isn’t this terribly insulting to the husband, to read a book while he is trying to have sex with her? I don’t even know if it is possible; I know I can’t read in cars or elevators. Isn’t it really impossible to read when the book keeps bouncing back and forth?

How could my husband listen to me say what I said – even once, even timidly – and sleep well that night, much less continue to insist on sleeping with me?

Of course, the counter-question is, how could any woman have stayed married if she was so unhappy with the sex? The answer to that question comes in a bit. But first, a little about the author of this screed:

I am a humanities professor who teaches feminist theory, models feminist behavior for my students and my own children, and has achieved success in a male-dominated field.

Wait. Feminist theory is a male-dominated field? She must be talking about all those transgender feminist professors.

Last year, my teenage son and I chanted in support of women’s reproductive rights at the Women’s March in Washington.