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Category Archives: Political Correctness
Posted: January 18, 2020 at 11:26 am
Jim Miskel Published 4:37 p.m. ET Jan. 16, 2020
An important legacy of the last couple of decades is the increased polarization of our politics and society. Now, the two main political parties feud like the Hatfields and McCoys, and the result is paralysis in addressing worrisome economic, ethnic and ideological divisions in our society.
Polarization is a global phenomenon that started in the United States before the Trump Administration took office, so it would not be fair to lay the responsibility for it at President DonaldTrumps feet.Moreover, many actors have done their best to polarize us and the politicians who represent us.
Interest groups in Washington and around the country have long encouraged voters to base their votes (and their campaign contributions) on single issues, rather than what is good for the country as a whole. Additionally, the media mullahs of political correctness have generated resentment in many middle-of-the-country neighborhoods by their criticism of traditional values. Washingtons history of paying lip service to the problems of rural and Rust Belt communities has not helped either.
Polarization, though, has noticeably worsened on Trumps watch, and it is high time to do something about it.
The problem is not going to vaporize in a burst of spontaneous "Saul on the road to Damascus" conversions to civility and civic values like putting national interests over partisan self-interest.
Democrat and Republican leaders have invested too much of themselves in the status quo to turn over new leaves without pressure for change.
A skillful presidential campaign could create that pressure. A candidate who offered concrete, practical ideas for breaking down the barriers between Democrats and Republicans could energize the voters and spark reflection in party heads.
Joe Bidens recent statement that he would consider selecting a Republican as his vice-presidential nominee is not one of those ideas. It is not practical: His party would never put forward a ticket putting a Republican a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Such a ticket might also put that Republican in the pole position for the 2024 presidential election.
Declaring partisan bygones will remain bygones is an obvious first step.Expressions of good intent dont hurt, but their effects are transient. Another obvious step would be a pledge by Democrats to appoint respected Republicans to senior positions in the new administration.
Jim Miskel(Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM JIM MISKEL)
Reaching across the aisle is nothing new: Democratic Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and BarackObama each appointed Republicans as their secretaries of defense. Unfortunately, this too had only a temporary effect on the partisan divide. More importantly, neither of these steps energized the voters to push for an end to polarization.
A more consequential step might be to call for a bipartisan commission or two to set policy (not just make recommendations) on national issues whose resolution would directly benefit voters on both sides of the partisan divide.
Those benefits might be incentive enough for voters from both parties to push for Democratic and Republican cooperation.A commission could, for example, set the priorities for upgrading our highways, seaports, airports and air-traffic control systems.
Anyone who travels knows the transportation infrastructure needs improvement and that improvements will benefit the country, not just the residents of the affected port cities and air hubs.
Subsequent commissions could set priorities for federal spending on election security and protecting our digital infrastructure.
Presidents and presidential candidates have the power to lead by example, but good intentions and fine words are not enough.
Reducing political polarization requires foregoing retaliation for yesterdays perceived offenses and sustained effort at creating situations in which there are incentives for hatchet-burying and cross-party cooperation.
Jim Miskel is a former professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He and his wife are year-round residents of Vero Beach.
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Posted: at 11:26 am
Daily Point Throwing around their weight
As the leadership of the troubled Nassau University Medical Center turns over and the facility faces a wave of potentially devastating challenges, the CSEA will seize the opportunity to make its muscular political presence felt.
Thursday's board meeting was NUMC chairman and interim chief executive George Tsunis last in the job. Bob Detor, a longtime health care administrator from Port Washington who previously ran South Oaks Hospital in Amityville and chaired the countys federally qualified health clinics, was named chair at that meeting. And Detor is expected to name as chief executive one of two finalists for the position: Tom Stokes, a former deputy county executive under Democratic County Executive Tom Suozzi, or John Gupta, a longtime hospital executive.
And at 5 p.m. Thursdaythe CSEA also held what it touted as a major protest and discussion of what it alleges are back-room deals made by the countys only public hospital.
The CSEA, with 3,000 members employed at NUMC, is deeply concerned that the enormous, outdated and underutilized facility, losing money and with an uncertain future, could move forward in a way that costs jobs or shifts them to Northwell Health.
Northwell Health has partnered with NUMC in an increasing variety of ways over the past few years and that role is generally expected to increase.
In its release, the CSEA said it will discuss dozens of back-room contracts between Nassau Health Care Corp. and private vendors that have yet to be released for public consumption, and call for a freeze of 23 contracts with Northwell Health.
Call it the first shots fired in a war over a hospital where jobs and political clout are as important as the health of patients and finances.
Go inside New York politics.
Just before New Years, philosopher and longtime Long Island progressive David Sprintzen wrote a blog post about the political challenges in 2020 and what he sees as a misplaced focus by the left, an intense debate even on the national level.
I have become deeply distressed by the recent tendency I have seen among many groups on the Left of developing an increasingly intolerant racialized politics, he wrote.
The piece argued that many progressives have taken to blaming white people, often particularly white males, as the cause of the suffering of black and brown people.
Sprintzen, 80, who is white, is not just a local blogger. He was a leader and founder of the left-leaning Long Island Progressive Coalition, and until recently a board member of LIPC and influential progressive group Citizen Action of New York.
He was removed from both of those board positions last year.
Sprintzen says his removal is related to the kinds of views expressed in his December blog post in which he urged a more inclusive progressive vision focused on general societal issues [affecting] all working people.
Its not a new subject for his blog, which also features an earlier piece headlined On Targeting White Males. The issue came to a head at a July Justice Works political strategy workshop that featured what Sprintzen calls a heated and contentious discussion regarding white males culpability for various wrongs in a memo shared with The Point. Not long after the Albany workshop, hosted in part by Citizen Action, he was removed from the CA board.
Both CA and LIPC declined to comment about the reasons for Sprintzens removal. But Sprintzen says hes concerned about the overall direction of progressives identity politics, beyond his personal board situation.
Its a ripe issue in the national conversation, from debates about language to former President Barack Obama warning late last year against purity and too much focus on being always politically woke. Questions of representation and insensitivity vs. political correctness haveled to intra-party and generational arguments that bleed into campaign ads and candidate speeches about how Democrats should pitch themselves, particularly in a crucial presidential race.
Sprintzen, who says he remains a state committeeman for the Working Families Party, says he doesnt have a preferred 2020 candidate but has a goal: I want to beat Trump.
For more cartoons, visit http://www.newsday.com/opinion
2020 Democratic contender books series Part 7: Who has which view about the state of the country?
See previous answers and questions here.
Posted: at 11:26 am
When all the worlds stages are safe places, when the tragedy of life is that none of the players are comics, when comity is the enemy of comedy, everywheres a college campus: a land of speech codes, trigger words, and grief counselors.
One comic who refuses to abide this environment is Jerry Seinfeld, because the sounds he loves are a crime his critics hate. The sounds not only of laughter and applause, but of Germans and Italians screaming at each other.
The sounds of the descendants of master engineers who share a torrid past and a storied history, starting with service on behalf of the failed architects of a master race and beginning anew with the sounds of gentlemen starting their engines. The sounds of sundry Porsches and Ferraris, and Cadillacs, Corvettes, Volkswagens, and Mercedes-Benzes too.
Such is the sound of each episode of Seinfelds Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
True to its title, and yet more than the sum of its comedic or automotive parts, the series suffers the occasional breakdowna stalled DeLorean with Patton Oswalt, a temperamental trip with Steve Martinbut achieves transcendence when certain guests do their respective bits.
The bits form a set in the same way a person brews a cup of coffee. The result is mild, bitter, or strong, regardless of whether a waitress pours it from a glass decanter with an orange handle or a barista roasts it in a drum with more gauges than all the knobs and needles inside Seinfelds most exotic car. The result is always distinctive, but never tasteless, not even whenespecially whena comic like Norm Macdonald turns tastelessness into fun.
That Macdonald gets Seinfeld to laugh until he cries, based on a story whose punchline is the punch, the sucker punch at the end of a story about something unfunny, the murder of prostitutes; that Macdonalds joke is in the delivery, that what he says reads like tragedy and sounds like comedy, is a testament to ingenious timing.
Macdonald hits Seinfeld again, on Macdonald Live, with a bit about Richard Nixon and David Frost and wigs. In both segments, and in his conversations with Robert Klein and Steve Harvey, Seinfeld values irreverence. He reveres Kleins disregard for decorum, he relishes the chance to see him perform, he revels in the performance Klein delivers as an opera pimp: a white man in black voice, or a white man voicing a black character from a decade that matches Kleins age, the 1970s, in which the pimp has a retinue of female opera singers (Kleins ex-wife among them) in New York City and San Diego.
Steve Harvey has a similar aversion to political correctness, despite his apologies for being so offensive as to be funny. He answers the why behind his apologies by making a joke of the need to apologize. Because he has a talk show, and because his sponsors need to satisfy the demands of viewers, Harvey explains why companies need to sound righteous. The apology is a lie, the righteousness a ruse, which is why some comicsthe ones rich enough not to workwill never apologize.
Ricky Gervais is that comic. His bit about Christmas at Auschwitz leaves Seinfeld in yoga-like poses of laughter, until he regains his composure and tells Gervais what he believes is the funniest part of the joke. The light Seinfeld provides, the relief comedy offers in the midst of darkness, the respite humor brings when the lightness of being feels unbearable, these things make life bearable. To have the insufferable extinguish the light is intolerable.
Posted: at 11:26 am
On January 8, fitness guru Jillian Michaels appeared on Buzzfeeds morning show AM to DM on Twitter.
During the segment, host Alex Berg praised singers like Lizzo for preaching self-acceptance. This led to the following exchange between Berg and Michaels:
MICHAELS: I love her music, yeah, 100%. I dont know anything about her. Im sure shes a cool, awesome chick.
BERG: Yeah, and I love that theyre putting images out there that we normally dont get to see of bodies that we dont get to see being celebrated.
MICHAELS: But why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Thats what Im saying. Why arent we celebrating her music? Because it isnt going to be awesome if she gets diabetes. Im just being honest. I love her music, like, my kid loves her music, but theres never a moment when Im like, And Im so glad shes overweight. Like, why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?
Well, thats the clip that blew up on social media. Theres actually some more context. The full exchange between Berg and Michaels about fat acceptance and the unhealthy nature of obesity can be read at the end of this piece.
Following the interview, Michaels got smacked on social media for her comments about Lizzo. The fitness guru received backup as well.
On Wednesday, Michaels posted a photo to her Instagram from when she was 14 years old and 175 lbs. She captioned the image: Heres me at 50 tall and 175 lbs. If I can do it anyone can. Share your story
Some indeed shared their stories below the post.
User Kimberspores wrote: I was close to 180lbs at 53 at one point. Now Im at 145 and working on losing more with your help. I honestly have never felt more inspired than when youre yelling at me from my tv screen.
User Thesarahsaurus13 wrote: You helped me go from 165 to 120 lbs! But better than that, you give me the motivation to get up and care about myself every day! Thank you!!
Others thanked Michaels for not backing down.
User irrevelry wrote: Started following you after your comments about heavy entertainersnothing personal against overweight people its just the truth. Thank you for standing by your statements. Gravitas for sure. We need more of your voice of reason.
Honestly I was asked a question [if] I celebrate her being overweight. Had zero intention to involve her. I dont celebrate ANYONE overweight because it kills people. BUT it doesnt mean I dont celebrate the actual person. Sorta like if your best friend was a smoker you love them, celebrate them, but certainly wouldnt celebrate the fact that they smoke @prettybitches_bychloe Im looking at you.
As of publication, Michaels throwback photo has over 25,600 likes on Instagram.
Below is the full exchange between Michaels and Berg from AM to DM:
BERG: Well, youve said before that you think political correctness has gone too far in the health and fitness world. What did you mean by that?
MICHAELS: Political correctness has just, like, come so I cant even I think its insane, and its like, the pendulum, just, as far as it swings in one direction, it swings back in the other, right? And youve got these crazy extremes whereas, Oh, shes, you know, shes too fat to be a pop star! Well, you say things like that, and you know, then theres gonna be, you should never be able to say things like that, right? But for years, people were. They could fat-shame, and they could exclude people, and they could make people feel less than in all forms of media, and we should always be inclusive, but you cannot glorify obesity. Its dangerous. It kills people. Its the number one cause of bankruptcy in our country.
So, theres a middle ground here. Now its like, Oh, that woman is 250 pounds! Good for her! and its like, it shouldnt be one way or the other. Its really no ones business to comment. Its not something you should judge. Its not something you should celebrate. That womans health is up to her but, I mean, 250 pounds, I would say 999 times out of 1,000 is going to mean heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune issues, and early death.
BERG: I have to say, I personally found, and I love celebrities like Lizzo or Ashley Graham who are really preaching self-acceptance.
MICAHELS: I love her music, yeah, 100%. I dont know anything about her. Im sure shes a cool, awesome chick.
BERG: Yeah, and I love that theyre putting images out there that we normally dont get to see of bodies that we dont get to see being celebrated, and
MICHAELS: But why are we celebrating her body? Why does it matter? Thats what Im saying. Like, why arent we celebrating her music? Cause it isnt gonna be awesome if she gets diabetes. Im just being honest. I love her music, like, my kid loves her music, but theres never a moment where Im like, And Im so glad that shes overweight! Like, why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?
BERG: For a lot of people, that image resonates that they feel good enough, and actually, I want to get to a tweet about this that was in response to your conversation with Wendy Williams yesterday when you spoke a little bit about body positivity, and Cocoa Popps tweeted: Saw Jillian Michaels talk about people celebrating obesity. Body positivity isnt about celebrating being unhealthy. (and you can be overweight and be healthy.) Its embracing yourself without societys permission. Very disappointed by what she said and the presumptive tone. So, what do you say to a response like that?
MICAHELS: Okay, I would say, first of all, most people that are that are morbidly obese are not healthy. Now, if theyre working on losing weight and because theyre working out and theyre eating right you can reverse that stuff pretty quick but I mean, Ive been doing this a real long time. I have yet to meet a person thats gotten themselves to 200, 250, 300 pounds, and the doctor goes, Looking good! I mean, no. Just no. Just no. So, I would say to Cocoa Popps, like, first of all, this isnt what you do, so you dont know. You havent been to the doctor with person after person after person after person thats 100 lbs overweight and looked at their labs like, you just, you dont know. Thats not what you do.
Im not saying, and never have I said, that we shouldnt be inclusive and accepting. Im saying that I dont love Lizzo because shes overweight. I like her because of her music and by the way, if you said to me, like, Hey, Lizzo can live to be 90 and motivate people, or she can die at 60 and motivate people, why wouldnt I say, like, I really hope shes as healthy as she can be? Its not about saying that I dont respect her, [that] I dont think shes awesome. I absolutely do, but I also would hate to see her get sick, and I mean its the number one cause of bankruptcy in the country, like, come on! Its a problem. These are facts.
Continue reading here:
Posted: at 11:26 am
Last week, in a much-needed and well-timed satire of snowflake hand-wringing over the Australian bush fires, the Suns politically incorrect columnist Jeremy Clarkson declared the continent unfit for human habitation and welcomed scorched whiteys back to the motherland, unaccompanied minors and all.
The inevitable complaints will have already been offset by Sun accountants against the traffic Clarkson drives through the papers website. In the short term, mass extinction can be monetised, in a carbon trading of manufactured offence versus advertising revenue. Those short-beaked echidnas did not die in vain and Rod Liddle will still receive his Sun Christmas hamper of suet and saveloy sausage.
Clarksons suggestion that Australians needed to come home, while unconsciously prefiguring the mass migrations the climate crisis will cause in this decade, could read as a slap in the face to Indigenous Australians, for whom the continent has always been home, even before it was officially discovered for them by a helpful Dutch bloke in 1606.
Indeed, Indigenous Australians had been mapping the stars, creating complex mythological cycles and learning to view massive grubs as treats quite happily for 120,000 years at least, before our ancestors brought them alcohol, forced abduction and a manmade climate crisis. But clangers like Clarksons are no longer a bar to popularity, acclaim or office.
The Wokefinder General has been praised by Sarah Vine, which is worse than losing a loved one prematurely
Does Clarkson gaze at Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Cake Bumboys Vampires Haircut Wall-Spaffer Spunk-Burster Fuck-Business Fuck-the-Families Get-Off-My-Fucking-Laptop Girly-Swot Big-Girls-Blouse Chicken-Frit Hulk-Smash Noseringed-Crusties Death-Humbug Technology-Lessons Surrender-Bullshit French-Turds Dog-Whistle Get-Stuffed FactcheckUK@CCHQ 88%-lies Get-Brexit-Done Johnson and wonder why he isnt prime minister?
Instead, Clarkson, a car man in idiots trousers, doggedly pursues relevance, as the harder alt-right opinion-hits available in the unregulated online shitosphere consistently outperform his quaint grandad-motorist fist-waving.
A Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, covered in actual swastikas and driven by an armed incel blogger who has a deal with Steve Bannon, has run Clarksons Lexus LFA, the one with a Honk if you hate snowflakes sticker in the back window, off the rightwing road. Clarkson struggles out of the crumpled passenger door, stamps his brogues in the ditch water and throws his driving cap down in a rage. Bah!
Both Clarksons and Turdss careers have flourished by exploiting the notion that they are lone voices of sanity against a politically correct snowflake cabal intent on silencing normal blokes like them. Their comedy counterpart Ricky Gervais has managed to monetise this notion spectacularly, saying the things that he is apparently not allowed to say, on a variety of global media platforms, for millions of dollars, with the full co-operation and approval of the legal representatives of the institutions on which, and about which, he says the things he is not allowed to say, his functionally adequate standup act having been overpromoted worldwide off the back of his pitch-perfect contribution to the groundbreaking Office sitcom two decades ago.
Last week, a slew of right-leaning sources cited Gervaiss just jokes liberal-bating Golden Globes set as vindication of a populist backlash against political correctness, investing its harmless waspish jibes with a political dimension they didnt really have. Meanwhile an obviously hoaxed article by the clearly fabricated Jo Murch in the perpetually gullible Independent created a humourless liberal straw man to vindicate the rights adoption of Gervais, probably placed by one of Gervaiss libertarian collaborators.
In the Daily Mail, Sarah Vine ripped the lid off the rotting kitchen food waste bin of her mind to retch forth some choice owl pellets of praise for Gervaiss performative outrage. For Vine, Gervais was a knight in shining armour, saviour of humanity, saviour of comedy, restorer of sanity and undisputed Wokefinder General, the latter comment surely the title of his next tour if he wants to attract only furious moronic c**ts. The Wokefinder General could be photographed in a puritan hat smoking a cigar and winking. I can see this working. Lets do this!
Vine then went on to commend the sharp edge of viciousness the Wokefinder General directed to limousine liberals and sulky schoolgirls, the latter presumably the climate-crisis activist and eco-mystic Greta Thunberg, who I dont remember being specifically targeted, but whom veteran opinion-column vultures of Vines vintage seem to have a special problem with, like the mean girls in American high-school movies who shit in the clever ones shampoo bottle.
Of course, when I did a joke about Vine, in my critically acclaimed Content Provider show, she condemned its vicious prejudice. They dont like it up em. It appears whether viciousness is justified or not depends on its direction of travel, ideally away from you and towards people you personally dislike. In the Wokefinder Generals case, its often downwards, towards transgender people, for example, and the disabled, or mongs as the Wokefinder General once said.
In the Wokefinder Generals mawkish sitcom After Life, the Wokefinder Generals character considers suicide because his wife dies of a terminal illness. But in real life, the Wokefinder General has been praised by Sarah Vine, which is worse than losing a loved one prematurely, and so the Wokefinder General should do the decent thing, not prevaricate like his cowardly sitcom character, and kill himself immediately.
The fact that someone like Vine praises his work should at least make the Wokefinder General wonder if he has any responsibility for the cultural ripples caused by those who appropriate his just jokes. Clarkson, Turds and the Wokefinder General are narcissistic populists, all clever enough to know better, who continue to court the attention of angry impotent people and take no personal responsibilty for the consequences of their words, other mortals merely collateral damage, rabbits churned up in the combine harvester blades of their ongoing ambitions.
I am aware that I am supposed to be a so-called comedian and that this column reads like a blunt polemic. So here is its central thrust represented in the form of a traditional working mens club joke which, remember, is just a joke.
A Ricky Gervais Netflix standup special walks into a pub with a massive pile of stinking dogshit on its shoulder. The barman says: Where did you get that massive pile of dogshit? And the dogshit says: Netflix. Theyve got bloody loads of them!
Extra London dates of Stewart Lees latest live show Snowflake/Tornado have just been announced at the South Bank Centre in June and July, and it tours nationally from January
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Join the Inquisition or lose your job: wasn’t Hong Kong meant to give peace a chance? – Hong Kong Free Press
Posted: at 11:26 am
It is difficult to take seriously the governments claim that it respects Hongkongers fundamental rights and freedoms, when officials find it so difficult to talk honestly, or even accurately, about them.
Consider a story the other day which started like this: Education Secretary Kevin Yeung has denied infringing upon teachers freedom of speech by penalising them for what are regarded as inappropriate comments on social media.
Kevin Yeung. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.
This paragraph was entirely borne out by the ensuing story, and indicates a truly shocking state of denial or ignorance.
Now watch closely Kevin: inappropriate comment + penalty = infringement of right to comment. It may be a justified infringement, a lawful infringement, or a trivial infringement, but infringement it is. Denying this fundamental feature of the situation suggests that we have a Secretary for Education who should not be teaching in a kindergarten.
And of course this is true. Reputable educators are strangely reluctant to join what its leaders laughably call the government team. Mr Yeung joined the ranks of the political and (supposedly) accountable secretariat after a blameless career in the full-time civil service.
He was announcing a rather sordid exercise in which the Education Bureau is pressuring school principals to take action against teachers with political views which the government disapproves of. That is not, of course, quite how they put it.
Principals are required to investigate complaints about teachers, whether they concern the teachers work or not. And then?
Yeung said that if a school believed the teacher did nothing wrong the bureau may consider the attitude and stance of the school and principal to be problematic. If we believe a principal is unfit to discharge their duties, we can dismiss them as principals. Every principal is appointed by thePermanent Secretary for Education. We have the legal power to do so, but we will be very careful to exercise this power, he said.If the situation is serious to the extent we believe the principal cannot even be a teacher, we can cancel their teacher qualifications, he said.
In other words, dear principal, if you are an insufficiently enthusiastic participant in the Inquisition, you will not only lose your job as a school principal, but will be disqualified from teaching of any kind.
It is appalling that the education officials are prepared to make such spectacular sacrifices on the altar of political correctness. Hunting for inappropriate verbiage on teachers social media feeds is a very minor part of a principals job. Good principals are hard to find and removing one is disruptive. Have we no sense of proportion?
In his latest defence of this policy Mr Yeung seemed to be offering a sort of way out. He told the Legislative Council that schools must provide a reason if they dont investigate complaints against teachers who are accused of being unprofessional over their activities linked to the ongoing anti-government protests.
So let us see if we can provide some helpful suggestions. Teachers who post things on-line outside office hours are still citizens of Hong Kong and enjoy the right of freedom of speech as provided in the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights Ordinance. Both these instruments provide that restrictions must be provided by law. They do not make exceptions for teachers, or any other professional groups.
So the fact that some members of the public think a comment is inappropriate, or that the Education Bureau agrees with them, is not relevant. The complainant should be told that if he or she believes the offending comment is illegal it should be referred to the police. If it is believed to be unprofessional it can be referred to the relevant professional council.
If it is in neither of those two categories then it is an exercise of the constitutional right to free speech which principals, like the rest of us, are supposed to protect.
The Education Bureau. File Photo: Apple Daily.
No doubt this will result in no action being taken about some postings with which many of us would profoundly disagree. This is a bearable outcome. The idea that children who can barely be persuaded by bribes or threats to crack a textbook are voluntarily spending their free time looking at their teachers social media posts is outlandish.
It seems most of the complaints are about social media posts, but some are of inappropriate teaching materials. Now clearly the principal is perfectly entitled to take an interest in what is going on in his or her classrooms. It is his responsibility to ensure that teachers are fulfilling reasonable expectations of teaching content and methods.
Principals will, one hopes, be more aware of the difficulties facing teachers in the current atmosphere than the complainants are. Students are expected and encouraged to take an interest in current events, to read newspapers and to discuss their contents.
Teachers will, of course, be well aware that this is not an opportunity to impose their views on students or even, indeed, to expound them. One tries to stick to the facts. But sooner or later someone is going to raise a hand and say Sir, what do you think?
At this point almost anything the teacher says will offend someone, if accurately reported, and if inaccurately reported as is quite likely may offend a lot of people. But we would not, I hope, expect him to lie.
Photo: Kevin Cheng/United Social Press.
The depressing thing about all this is that the government has clearly succumbed to the bombardment of complaints from the pro-Beijing corner that all our recent travails are a result of the failings of the Hong Kong education system.
In the more lurid versions of this, which you can find in the English-language version of the China Daily, it is traced right back to kindergarten where, a recent op-ed writer complained, children had been told that in China the rivers were polluted and in America, they were not.
Similar nutty stuff proliferates. One charming suggestion was that the local universities could be closed. All existing students should be sent to mainland universities where they would be straightened out.
By an interesting coincidence, the Economist reported only last week on a piece of research which set out to test the theory that educated people in America tend to be democrats because of their exposure to four years in liberal-infested universities.
Not so. Students political views were carefully tracked over the four years and did not change a bit. Nor is this surprising. Most university courses offer no opportunities for political indoctrination even if the teacher is so unscrupulous as to attempt it.
This lump of scientific evidence will, of course, have no effect on people who wish to believe that the absence of national education is the root of all evils. But this sort of rhetorical overkill threatens to turn a civic dispute into a civil war.
Photo: Apple Daily.
The most distressing recent story was of a young lady who barred her father from her own wedding because he was a policeman. It may be that the gentleman concerned is a tactless martinet who was, as they say, asking for it. Still, it seemed to me that this was the sort of decision which might lead to bitter regret in a year or twos time.
Some of the published comments from the other side also look like a prolific cause for retrospective embarrassment. It seems that if the level of violence is declining the level of verbal abuse ought to subside a bit too.
The other night I caught a government ad or Announcement of Public Interest as they call it for peace and quiet. It started by appropriating the oldCampaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) symbol. This was an error: the CND logo incorporates the semaphore signals for ND, meaning nuclear disarmament, which is hardly relevant here.
The ad went on to say Say no to violence, a bit rich from people who are so generous with tear gas and other chemicals. When governments say no to violence they are merely seeking to preserve their monopoly of it.
Then we had Give peace a chance, in what I fear is not quite the sort of context which John Lennon intended when he penned thephrase. But still, a worthy sentiment.
Mr Yeung needs to get with the programme. If the government is losing on the streets then opening a new front in local classrooms is not the way to peace, only to conflict of a different kind.
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Chris Selley: Preston Manning’s cachet had faded, but there is no one to replace him – National Post
Posted: at 11:26 am
Preston Mannings retirement as head of the Manning Centre, which will occasion an unlikely rebranding exercise at the Calgary-based think tank-cum-political training school, feels less like the end of an era than the belated acknowledgment of an eras passing. The annual Manning Centre Networking Conferences in Ottawa used to be an electromagnet for conservative leaders, would-be leaders, pundits, strategists, ambitious youngsters and rank-and-file supporters. In recent years, it very noticeably lost its pull.
There used to be big-name keynote speakers. In 2013 those ambitious youngsters went absolutely nuts for Ron Paul, the libertarian ideologue in a land of so very few, and almost as nuts for Nigel Farage, the grinning anti-Europe gadfly. The whole audience did, really, despite delivering messages that had absolutely no relevance (and were in some cases anathema) to Canadian politics. In an age where the constitution is untouchable and a four per-cent disagreement on small-business tax rates counts as a major policy difference, those ambitious youngsters couldnt ever hope to deviate from the mean half as much as Paul or Farage. But they could dream. Manningstock was, in part, a sort of conservative fantasy camp.
The conference used to award significant cash prizes to people with innovative conservative ideas. There were hospitality suites from various conservative think tanks and advocacy groups, with canapes and booze not from the lowest tier on the catering menu. Manning Rocks the Capital was an actual event on the Friday night, and it lived up to its billing. Jamming yourself into a bar full of people you cant hear over the band isnt my idea of a good time, but it was for a lot of ambitious young conservatives. The grownups would drop by after Hys and shake their heads good-naturedly at the bacchanal.
There were policy sessions too, but they were often a bit perfunctory, and they were never the point. The conference was designed as an annual family reunion a place where differences could be set aside, relationships formed and mended, and the conservative movement reinvigorated as a whole.
Its not like that anymore. In 2019 in particular, the event having moved from the Shaw convention centre to the smaller boardrooms and theatres of the adjacent Westin Hotel, Manning did not rock the capital. Manning made the capital a bit sad, if anything. It was a shadow of its former self.
Manningstock was, in part, a sort of conservative fantasy camp
Preston Manning wasnt just about networking. He had ideas, too. And they certainly didnt help sell tickets to his conference. For years he tried to push carbon pricing as a natural conservative approach to climate change, concern for which he packaged as a natural result of conservatives concern for environmental conservation. What little progress he made went straight out the window when carbon pricing became a signature Justin Trudeau policy, and no amount of reason is going to bring it back inside.
At a time when free speech and political correctness have become leading preoccupations within the conservative movement, Manning has continued to preach from his hard-won lessons as leader of the Reform Party. His message, basically, is to muzzle anyone with controversial opinions as best you can, and throw them under the bus if they wont keep quiet. Dont rock the boat, or the media will tip it over. It may well be good advice, but people dont want to go to a conservative conference to be told that their big, controversial or particularly conservative ideas arent welcome.
No doubt, in part, its just generational: Reform ceased to exist nearly 20 years ago. But Manning clearly doesnt command the respect and attention he used to as an elder statesman. And there doesnt seem to be anyone waiting in the wings to replace him someone more associated with the conservative movement and the reformed conservative coalition than the parties that currently represent them. Indeed Manning was never a capital-C conservative; he founded a whole party based on Western disdain for what passed for conservatism on Parliament Hill in the late 1980s. For that reason, he made all the more compelling a figure of unity in a movement, a coalition, that only reformed 16 years ago.
Potential leadership candidates like Erin OToole and Rona Ambrose might play unifying roles within the party in the short term. But after a campaign that left a lot of questions open, not least where and how social conservatives fit into the conservative coalition, Manningstock in its heyday would have provided an excellent chance for everyone to step back from the horserace and discuss these existential questions, in friendly environs, a little more in-depth.
Parties dont need figures like Manning, of course. The Liberals dont have one. But Canadian capital-l Liberalism isnt a movement; its a tool for winning elections. But with its endless boutique tax credits, milquetoast balanced-budget targets, shameless pandering to Quebec nationalists even when they attack individual and religious rights, and just plain dumb ideas like ending clean-needle distribution in prisons, the Conservatives 2019 platform looked a heck of a lot like a tool for winning as well.
It didnt win. It might next time. Whether that left conservatism any further ahead in Canada would have made a good panel topic at some future Manning Networking Conference.
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Posted: at 11:26 am
In 1893, three years before Utah became a state, the Salt Lake Temple was completed after 40 years of sacrifice-filled construction. As is customary, a dedicatory prayer was offered by Wilford Woodruff, then president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the end of the prayer President Woodruff pleaded for heavens help on a very secular issue which remains a pressing problem in Utah and across the nation 127 years later.
Woodruff prayed, O God, Thou seest the course Thy people have been led to take in political matters. They have, in many instances, joined the two great national parties. Campaigns have been entered upon, elections have been held, and much party feeling has been engendered. Many things have been said and done which have wounded the feelings of the humble and the meek, and which have been a cause of offense.
I find it fascinating that in a remote territory of the American West, President Woodruff felt the need, in a prayer of dedication, to address the right and wrong way to engage in political conversations.
We find ourselves still wandering in the political wilderness. Presidential campaigns, a soon-to-begin legislative session, local elections heating up and burning social issues are all part of a combustible combination that is raising the temperature of public rhetoric, reducing real listening and upending rational thinking.
As the 2020 election cycle begins in earnest, we would be wise to remember the old axiom, Speak in anger and you will deliver the greatest speech you will ever live to regret.
Many have come to believe that silence is weakness, that calmness is cowardly and that you must engage in a tit-for-tat exchange of point and counterpoint, claim and counterclaim to compete and survive in the 21st century. We would do well in all our personal interactions, whether in the public square or within our personal circles, to focus on desired outcomes instead of emotional outbursts and come to people with questions instead of accusations.
The airwaves and internet sites are filled with pundits, experts and even those we call friends on social media who constantly badger or bombastically blow up anyone who might disagree with their point of view. While this might be entertaining talk radio, primetime television or Twitter banter, it has produced a horrible precedent and pattern for dealing with the only thing that matters in the end our relationships with people.
We all know that if an unwanted fire breaks out in our home the last thing we want to do is throw gasoline on it. Yet far too many of us cannot resist the urge to throw our last bit of emotional fuel on the interpersonal fire and then spar, thrust-and-parry and go back-and-forth, often, long after the source of the problem has been completely consumed. The age of rage is incinerating reason and ruining relationships.
Usually it is the preservation of ego that keeps us engaged in verbal combat. We somehow have come to believe that having the last word will win the day. Learning to check your ego at the door, and determine what truly matters most is key, not only to successful relationships and interactions, but to our own happiness and peace of mind. It is also important to remember that the solution to any problem actually begins when someone says, Lets talk about it, or asks, What do you think? and is then willing to engage in real listening and deeper dialogue.
Whether speaking to someone in person or going back-and-forth in email, texts or tweets, you must ask yourself if the messages you are about to speak or send are going to move the conversation, and more importantly, the relationship forward, or whether they will simply fuel more anger and angst. Winning a verbal battle at the expense of losing a war for a relationship is never wise.
It has been said that Gen. Robert E. Lee was once asked his view of a man he had had many public disagreements with. Lee reportedly responded that the man was a good, just man, who he happened to disagree with greatly. The questioner then stated that the man in question did not hold such a respectful view of the general and often expressed that negative opinion to others publicly, to which Gen. Lee replied, You asked me my opinion of him, not my view of his view of me. My view is the only one over which I have control. The way you communicate with those you disagree with speaks volumes about who you are as a person. Petty, personal attacks never produce positive results and often keep us a safe distance from real solutions.
All this is not to suggest in any way that we should retreat from public debate or abandon our commitment to stand on principle. Passive political correctness is not the solution. America is always at its best when we are the country of big ideas especially when those ideas cause us to have open, passionate and challenging disagreements and debate. We can disagree without being disagreeable, we can have uncomfortable conversations about difficult issues and we can communicate in ways that elevate ideas and promote sound principles and the best intentions of everyone.
The edifice of the Salt Lake Temple is undergoing a four-year renovation to strengthen, revitalize and renew this venerable structure. Perhaps there is a lesson in it to renovate our approach to politics in 2020.
Many will continue to speak in anger with contempt for opponents fueling divisive, society-damaging rhetoric. When it comes to the war of words, text tirades or social media rants whenever in doubt dont! Check your emotions and your ego. Silence can be strength, a kind word can carry a conversation, stepping away can be the best step forward.
Returning to President Woodruffs 1893 prayer, he concluded his petition to God relating to the politics of the people with these wise words that apply to people of every faith and to those of no faith: We beseech Thee, in Thine infinite mercy and goodness, to forgive Thy people wherein they have sinned in this direction ... Enable Thy people hereafter to avoid bitterness and strife, and to refrain from words and acts in political discussions that shall create feeling and grieve Thy Holy Spirit.
We the people can, and must, do better. As in most important matters in America, community, culture and individual citizens will lead and then the politics and the politicians will eventually follow.
Editors note: Portions of this column were previously published in the Deseret News in 2016.
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Posted: at 11:26 am
Sadly, militant reductionists have no time for nuance.
The scourge of identity politics also means that examples of racism against white people are overlooked. Take the child abuse scandal in Manchester. This week, a detective claimed that a grooming gang, predominantly men from Asian backgrounds, was free to roam the city and abuse young girls because police officers were told to find other ethnicities to investigate. This is disturbingly reminiscent of cases from Rotherham to Telford, where the abuse of white girls by ethnic minority males was ignored, as shrugging sexism collided with crushing political correctness.
How did it come to this? Things looked promising when the baby-boomer generation, who grew up more accustomed to non-white faces than their parents, came of age. But then something interesting happened. Communism collapsed and the Lefts struggle shifted, for the sake of its own survival, from the collective to the individual. What has to be done? morphed into Who am I? The result is Manichaean navel-gazing.
One particularly toxic subplot is the medicalisation of victimhood. It was, after all, a professorof counselling psychology at Columbia University, Derald Wing Sue, who invented the term microaggression. That he was partly inspired by RD Laing will surprise few familiar with the baleful maverick who famously asked whether mental illness is a sick response to a healthy situation, or a healthy response to a sick situation.
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Posted: at 11:26 am
By Letter to the Editor on January 17, 2020.
The squeaking wheel will always get the grease.
Sadly those who make the wheels squeak are often malcontents with thin skin who take offence needlessly. In that regard they take to social media to air their perceptions. As a result they get others to sympathize and soon they get laws that dilute our freedoms. The end result is political correctness which is slowly and incrementally driving our country to pass laws that, if we dont stop this nonsense will drive us to the same level of intolerance of opinions as countries like Iran, China, Russia and others that use intolerance to muzzle free expression. Our brave warriors would turn over in their graves if they knew the direction we are going.
In this country we have rights and freedoms that are the envy of many people in the world. However, if we keep watering down our rights like the saying of Merry Christmas we will soon our rights to think or speak our minds because of a few who will feel slighted at the smallest utterance. Get over it and learn to use common sense, reason, patience and understanding. Learn to see how others around you live and open your hearts and minds. Malcontents, will, sadly, look at the negative side and never see the sunny side of the street.
Canada is the most welcoming country I know of. We welcome all newcomers from different cultures and speaking all languages. I would not have it any other way. Let us all count our blessings.
We must continue on a path of forward thinking to reinforce our rights and freedoms.
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