Why Islamic violence?  "New Matilda" has no answers

Megan Giles, who wrote the article I excerpt below, has a significant academic background.  It is however a solidly Leftist one, so we cannot expect much in the way of balance or academic rigour from her. She mainly seems to be a do-gooder.  Anyway, she knows a bit about history.  And she parades that history as if it excuses or at least explains the current epidemic of Muslim violence. She spells out the tired old comment that Christians and Christian countries have been violent in the past too.  As if nobody knew that!

There she is. Isn't she gorgeous?

But it is not history we have to deal with. It is the present. So why is the present-day world's flood of political violence coming from Muslims?

She seems to think that it is Muslims "getting even" with the West for colonialism.  But de-colonization took place around 50 years ago.  And, after some initial eruptions, the decolonized world was mostly peaceful.  What has suddenly caused it to erupt? And why are Indo-China and other non-Muslim ex-colonies not erupting?  And why are the people being killed at the moment overwhelmingly Muslim, rather than the wicked colonists?

Megan has not apparently thought of those questions.  Her conventional Leftist hates are all she has to explain anything, whether they fit or not.  She is a procrustean.

I and many others point to the way in which ISIS and other violent Muslims are just doing what the Koran says.  Megan thinks that cannot be the explanation as Christians have been similarly vicious at times too.  But that is a non-sequitur. A particular type of behaviour can arise from many causes. And that normal human selfishness has caused Christians to GO AGAINST New Testament teachings proves nothing.  But Muslims don't have to do that.  The Jihadis are not going against ANYTHING in their religion.  Their deeds and faith are in harmony. So we at least need to note that.

And that makes a difference to what adherents of the two religions hear.  Both Mullahs and priests tell their adherents to do as their holy books say.  So Christian priests overwhelmingly preach peace and kindness while the Mullahs overwhelmingly preach conquest.  And preaching can be influential.  Why do it otherwise? For most people -- Christian or Muslim -- it goes in one ear and out the other. They usually accept the wisdom of it but don't act on it.   But some do. So on the one hand we have the provision of Christian hospitals and schools while on the other we have gruesome violence.

So what the Koran says is indeed central to the Muslim problem -- because it is what most of the Mullahs preach --  and what the Mullahs preach is influential.

But why is it that we have the upsurge of violence now?  Megan does not even attempt to tell us.  She had no answers about the causes of Muslim violence at all.

But I think the cause is pretty clear. It is in that history that Megan thinks she knows about. It is a product of ham-fisted European intervention. A skeletal outline:

It all started with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  Afghanistan had been a reasonably secular State up until then.  But it was part of the Ummah, part of the Muslim world. So it was devout Muslims who chased the Soviets out.  The invasion aroused the devout Muslims and eventually made them the only effective force in the land.  And they used that power to transform Afghanistan into a Koranic State, a centre of Islamic righteousness and virtue.

And it might have stopped there except for the fact that the Afghan upheavals had attracted a very rich Saudi who became instrumental in defeating the Soviets: Osama bin Laden.

And Koranic virtue does preach attack on the infidel, the kuffar. So after helping to defeat the Soviets, Osama bin Laden was "feeling his oats" and sought new fields to conquer -- and consequently organized the attack on the exceedingly un-Muslim USA, with results we all know about.

And since then it has been push and counter-push. An Afghanistan-enmeshed organization -- Al Qaeda -- attacked the USA so the USA attacked Afghanistan in an attempt to root them out.  And once the USA under George Bush was mobilized, they thought that the sabre-rattling coming from Iraq sounded dangerous too so decided that a pre-emptive war there was needed to avoid another "9/11".

But in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Americans had no reasonable idea of an end-game. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they assumed that destroying the hostile regime would enable them to give the grateful natives the blessings of democracy. But there is no history of democracy in the Middle East and no hankering for it. Instead there is a 4,000 year history of tyrannies. So the semi-democratic regimes set up by the Americans had no legitimacy in the eyes of the people and consequently had little control over anybody or anything. Instead we have had chaos.

But nobody likes chaos and many influential Muslims of the Middle East have put their hands up as the new tough-guy leader who will restore peace and unity -- and maybe even become the new Caliph.  And that is what has been going on.  Can it have escaped anyone's notice that 98% of the people dying are Muslims?  Much of the the Middle East and North Africa is in the midst of a civil war to determine who the next tyrant will be.  The people there want a strong tyrant not a wishy-washy democracy.

And amid those struggles aspiring leaders will do everything they can to acquire legitimacy.  And attacks on the West are a good way of doing that.  It enables the aspiring tyrants to claim Islamic righteousness.  So what constitutes Islamic righteousness does matter.  And we find that in the Koran.

And all the excitement of the struggle does catch the attention of people in the Western world whose ancestry is in Muslim lands.  And a tiny minority decide that they want a part of the action.
So some of those go to Syria, while others attack individuals in their country of residence.

So is it reasonable to target the whole Muslim minority of a Western country in some way?  I think it is.  But no half  measures will do.  Tentative measures will just exacerbate the problem.  The small minority of radicalized Muslims can do a lot of damage and cause a lot of disruption, social and otherwise.  And the populations of Western countries are becoming increasingly intolerant of that, as they should.  We wouldn't accept such disruption from anyone else so why should we accept it from young Muslims?

But how can we get violent young Muslims out of our countries? How do we detect in advance who they are?  We cannot.  So the only way of getting the violent young Muslims out of our countries is to get ALL Muslims out of our countries.  I believe it will come to that.  Muslim populations ARE a breeding-ground for terrorists and that undisputable fact endangers their continued long-term acceptance in Western countries.


Now listen to Megan. I have omitted her more sulphuric comments about Pauline Hanson:

Hanson states that the New Testament, unlike the Qur’an, is devoid of any violence, as if the relative peace and prosperity enjoyed by the Western world is somehow solely attributed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Hanson and many others fail to recognise the context of time, place and circumstance that permits the usurping of Quranic verses for such violence.

They fail to scrutinise what it is that separates the millions of Muslims, and millions of others of faith, who can read their sacred scriptures in their historical contexts, from those that totalise and literalise religious doctrine and wrongly champion it as the impetus for their savagery.

In the late 20th century, regimes across the Arab world shaped and utilised Islamic ideologies to solidify and mobilise support against Western liberalism. And so it goes, on and on through history. Past contexts magically transforming to suit present and future contexts.

When we place blame we go directly to the original source, without acknowledging how that source has been manipulated to accommodate contemporary political objectives.

Though all of this, in our current debate, is near-irrelevant. Focusing on the details of religious texts will lead us nowhere since we have, right in front of us, countless examples that help us understand the rise of Islamic State and specific historical, albeit complex and multi-faceted, justifications for North African and Middle Eastern violence.

Indeed what is missing from mainstream debates about contemporary terrorism is the very heavy historical baggage it carries.

Tony Blair has apologised for “mistakes” made during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The US government’s hasty state-building policies after the disbanding of the Iraqi army left thousands of young men angry, armed and unemployed.

Unfortunately, only few commentators will reach back far enough into history to examine the brutal, incendiary and utterly destructive legacy of colonialism in the Middle East to understand contemporary violence.

While ‘we’ in the West have moved on from colonialism and want everyone else to just ‘get over it’, post-colonial states were never given space to – they live its continuity in the neocolonial economic policies of the Washington Consensus and the ubiquity of a militarised national consciousness where violence pervades and reproduces.

The late Algerian psychiatrist Franz Fanon has written passionately on the impact of colonialism on the colonised individual’s psyche, and its propensity for creating violent separatist and regionalist factions, long after independence.

“At the individual level, violence is a cleansing force. It rids the colonized of their inferiority complex, of their passive and despairing attitude… Violence hoists the people up to the level of the leader.”

Despite the horrors of history committed on every continent, our right to anger and grieve over the bloodshed in Paris is doubtless. It must be denounced with the loudest possible voice and responded to with the strongest possible deliberation and vigilance.

Good people lost their lives because they represented the freedom we all hold dear, no matter our race, nationality or religion. Though we must fall short of dismay that Middle Eastern wars have somehow spilled over onto a bystanding Europe caught up in the crossfire.

These wars belong to the Great Powers and they always have. As Gordon Adams has noted, “France has been a central arena for the confrontation between Islam and political-religious Christian Europe for 1,300 years.”

The proceeding centuries were characterised by a vicious brand of colonialism under the guise of exporting a concept of citizenship that was highly exclusionary at home, and anti-Islamic domestic policies leaving hostility an omnipresence weaved through France’s social and political fabric.

Adams states, “France needs to undergo a deep self-examination, and a fundamental revision of the current practice of sidelining its large Muslim population, leaving them disaffected, poorly educated, underemployed, and ripe for recruitment to terrorism.”

All religious texts have the capacity to unite or divide humanity. Our conversation must start centering on the dark, ugly side of human nature and the contexts that breed violent extremists of which our own states are often complicit in.



Bible study resources

Challenging around 17 centuries of Christian scholarship requires not only boldness but also a lot of resources.  So I thought I might make a brief note of the resources I currently hold and have found useful.  With the demise of the Bagster publishing house a lot of Bible-study aids are no longer available but I have been studying the Bible for nearly 60 years so what I have reflects the past as well as the present.

For a start, the Lexicons.  I have a 1956 printing of  Abbott-Smith for Biblical Greek and the 1888 version of Liddell & Scott for classical Greek.  Both are good for extensive examples of the word discussed.  Abbott Smith is in fact pretty close to a concordance of the NT in Greek.

And I have three recensions of the Greek New Testament text: The early Griesbach one, the still popular 19th century Westcott & Hort one and a Nestle version. The Nestle version I have is not by Eberhard Nestle but by Erwin Nestle of the Privilegierte Württembergische Bibelanstalt, son of Eberhard (with G.D. Kilpatrick) so has had the advantage of drawing on more early manuscripts than the original Nestle recension.  It was published by the BFBS and is dated 1958.  I see that I paid 12/6 for it -- if anybody still understands that notation..

Of the three recensions that I have, only the Nestle has been printed complete with the original marginal notes and footnotes, but I have had some advantage from marginal notes elsewhere:  The redoubtable Companion Bible, where the notes are sometimes more voluminous than the text.  And the notes are from the viewpoint of committed Christians so are probably a useful thing for all serious Bible-students.  And another such set of notes come from my copy of the Geneva version of the Bible. I have a recent printing of it but the notes from 1599 have been preserved.  They can be a bit combative but the underlying scholarship is surprisingly good for the times.

And, as far as cross-references are concerned, "The treasury of scripture knowledge" from Bagster is a huge resource.  It gives related citations for almost every word of the NT. My copy is not dated but announces that it is the 27th  edition -- so was obviously wildly popular among serious Bible students once.

And something I have which is now not available after the demise of Bagster is a twin-text (Greek and English) version of the Septuagint, which is handy for those of us who are familiar only with New Testament Greek.  The Septuagint is of course the Bible version that Christ and the apostles usually quoted -- at least as far as the New Testament writers tell us. My copy was printed in 1879 so Bagster obviously held it in stock for a long time.  I wonder were there any remaining when they closed down?

I have three concordances, a very old (1828) printing of Cruden, probably taken off the original plates, and a Strong's Exhaustive, both of which, of course index the KJV.  To trace more modern text I use the "Comprehensive Concordance" put out by the Watchtower Bible & Tract society for their "New World" translation, which, being very literal, is a useful resource in its own right.  I would like a Young's Analytical concordance too but I had to call a halt somewhere and I felt that three concordances should be enough.

And I also have a couple of Bible dictionaries, a big 1963 version of Hastings as revised by Grant & Rowley plus the very comprehensive Watchtower one, called "Insight on the Scriptures".  Both of course are written from a particular viewpoint but that does not vitiate them

And I have of course a considerable range of Bible translations.  I have just counted them: 8. I have had more but every time I move house I give half my books away so a few of the less-used translations have gone in that way.  I rather regret giving away my copy of the Luther Bible in German, nicely printed in Gothic script.

Because it is very popular, I often consult the NIV but it is clearly the servant of Protestant theology so is not to be trusted. I say more about that here.  For ease of reading I prefer the  RSV or the "New English Bible". My copy of the latter is a BFBS printing of 1974.

Finally, I have many volumes of commentary, mostly written from an Anglican viewpoint, but despite their extensiveness, I have yet to find anything useful in them so will not enlarge on exactly which publications they are.  I will probably give them away soon.

In my previous comments on Bible topics, I have rarely given much detail of the resources I was using so I hope this post will clear up any  uncertainty about my exact sources.  I also hope that the links and comments I have given above will point others to useful study aids


Psychologizing Jihadis

I reproduce below the introduction to a long article in the Left-leaning "New Scientist" which is reasonably scholarly but which ignores what Jihadis say, and, indeed, what the Koran says.

It looks at the functioning of brain regions and finds only very equivocal evidence for the view that  Jihadis have different brains.  So they then resort to discussing Jihadis in a group  dynamics context.  In an academic way they draw the familiar conclusion that the Jihadis "just got in with a bad crowd".  And they firmly reject the conclusion that Jihadis are evil.  And they do eventually conclude that Jihadis are not psychologically  abnormal.

But is getting in with a bad crowd sufficient to explain the extraordinarily evil behaviour that we get from (say) ISIS? Their behavior is a long way away from the civilized norms in which most of the Jihadis have grown up, so surely needs detailed explanation.  And similar behaviour by the Nazis also needs to be explained.  But what does explain it?  The article below offers next to nothing towards such an explanation.

But the explanation is no mystery at all. Nazis, Jihadis and their ilk have in fact been keen to explain themselves to us.  Given their assumptions, what they do is perfectly rational.  What they do, they do in expectation of a great reward.  It is very similar to what happens in a field we know well: capitalism.  If the expected reward is great, some people will take all sorts of risks to get it.  Why does anybody start up a business when he knows (or should know) that around 90% of new businesses go broke within a year?  Because he expects to make a "killing".  Note the parallelism.  The businessman's "killing" simply means a lot of money.  Great profits are expected.

So Nazis and Jihadis do what they do because they expect a large reward from it.  Normal rules can be disregarded because of the magnitude of the reward.  So what is that reward?  The article below puts it well when it notes that "Young people need a dream. Appeals for moderation will never be attractive to youth, yearning for adventure, for glory, for significance”.  Not all Nazis and Jihadis have of course been young but it does seem to be mainly young people who have flocked to such movements.

And Islam in fact offers rewards of that sort to young and old.  The aim of Jihad is to subjugate the world to Islam. So that offers adventure, glory and significance to anyone who participates.

Nazism offered similar heroic visions.  Nazis  fought for Führer, Volk (race) and Vaterland (homeland).  Their ideals were Courage, Honor, and Loyalty. The "Nazizeit" was a immensely exciting era for Germany.  The song of the Hitler youth below may give you some sense of it. The translations are good but do not match the power of the original German

Music is very powerful emotionally and Nazis had the unparalleled German talent for music at their disposal.  The German lands are home to the timeless music of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven.  And that does matter.

And for Jihadis too there are many rewards. As well as the worldly rewards mentioned above, there is religion. It is easy for us to mock it but don't forget that most of the world is  religious.  Jihadis really believe what the Koran tells them: That if they die in battle fighting the infidel they will pop off straight to heaven and be waited on there forever after by seventy beautiful women. And, given the puritanical nature of Islam, that may be the only sort of woman many of them will ever get. So, at the risk of putting it too frivolously, Islam has great sex appeal!

And one thing that Jihadis and Nazis have in common is that both have taught adherents that they are special and superior by virtue of their beliefs.  Being a member of a master race or master religion obviously feels good.  The Nazis were not however looking to an afterlife.  They thought that once they had conquered the vast lands to their East, each German could become a gentleman farmer with serfs to do his bidding.  Most of Europe was once organized on feudal lines like that so it was not an unrealistic  dream.  That was not the whole of the Nazi incentive system but I have written about that in much detail elsewhere.

So where does that leave us with the Jihadis?  It leaves us where we are with the Nazis. You cannot appease them, you cannot change them, you cannot buy them off, you cannot deter them, you cannot talk them out of it.  The rewards that lure them are too great for any of that.  You can only destroy them.

And destroying them will be unlikely to be possible without destroying much of their support system, which is the whole Muslim world.  To adapt a saying by Mao Tse Tung, the Jihadis are fish who swim in the sea of their people so the sea may have to be drained to eradicate them.  Many Muslims may have to die from bombing etc. if a serious attempt to eradicate the Jihadis is made.  And, if that seems too harsh, do note that exactly that is happening right now in the lands occupied by ISIS.  Does anybody seriously think that it is only Jihadis who are dying in the bombing campaigns?  Most of the dead will simply be people from the sea in which the Jihadis swim.

So if a nuclear device were dropped on the ISIS headquarters of Raqqa, it would just do at once what is already happening gradually -- but would also be an unambiguous sign to the Jihadis that their Jihad cannot succeed.  In 1945, nukes tore the heart out of the Bushido warriors of Japan, real tough guys. They should have a similar impact on the slime of ISIS, or what remains of them

And President Trump might just do it.


Now to look at what "New Statesman says

WHY would an apparently normal young adult drop out of college and turn up some time later in a video performing a cold-blooded execution in the name of jihad? It’s a conundrum we have been forced to ponder ever since a group calling itself ISIS declared war on infidels. But 70 years ago we were asking something similar of guards in Nazi concentration camps – and, sadly, there have been plenty of opportunities to ponder the matter in between.

What turns an ordinary person into a killer? The idea that a civilised human being might be capable of barbaric acts is so alien that we often blame our animal instincts – the older, “primitive” areas of the brain taking over and subverting their more rational counterparts. But fresh thinking turns this long-standing explanation on its head. It suggests that people perform brutal acts because the “higher”, more evolved, brain overreaches. The set of brain changes involved has been dubbed Syndrome E – with E standing for evil.

In a world where ideological killings are rife, new insights into this problem are sorely needed. But reframing evil as a disease is controversial. Some believe it could provide justification for heinous acts or hand extreme organisations a recipe for radicalising more young people. Others argue that it denies the reality that we all have the potential for evil within us. Proponents, however, say that if evil really is a pathology, then society ought to try to diagnose susceptible individuals and reduce contagion. And if we can do that, perhaps we can put radicalisation into reverse, too.

Following the second world war, the behaviour of guards in Nazi concentration camps became the subject of study, with some researchers seeing them as willing, ideologically driven executioners, others as mindlessly obeying orders. The debate was reignited in the mid-1990s in the wake of the Rwandan genocide and the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. In 1996, The Lancet carried an editorial pointing out that no one was addressing evil from a biological point of view. Neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried, at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to rise to the challenge.

In a paper published in 1997, he argued that the transformation of non-violent individuals into repetitive killers is characterised by a set of symptoms that suggests a common condition, which he called Syndrome E (see “Seven symptoms of evil“). He suggested that this is the result of “cognitive fracture”, which occurs when a higher brain region, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) – involved in rational thought and decision-making – stops paying attention to signals from more primitive brain regions and goes into overdrive.

“The set of brain changes has been dubbed Syndrome E – with E standing for evil”

The idea captured people’s imaginations, says Fried, because it suggested that you could start to define and describe this basic flaw in the human condition. “Just as a constellation of symptoms such as fever and a cough may signify pneumonia, defining the constellation of symptoms that signify this syndrome may mean that you could recognise it in the early stages.” But it was a theory in search of evidence. Neuroscience has come a long way since then, so Fried organised a conference in Paris earlier this year to revisit the concept.

At the most fundamental level, understanding why people kill is about understanding decision-making, and neuroscientists at the conference homed in on this. Fried’s theory starts with the assumption that people normally have a natural aversion to harming others. If he is correct, the higher brain overrides this instinct in people with Syndrome E. How might that occur?



Trump Reveals Plan to Defeat ISIS

In a new radio ad, Donald Trump outlines his plan to defeat ISIS:

    "The tragic attacks in Paris prove once again that America needs to get tough on radical Islamic terrorism. President Obama and other politicans have consistantly failed us. Just hours before the attacks in Paris, President Obama said ISIS had been contained. It is amazing that the United States could have a president who is so out of touch. It is also dangerous.

Obama has no strategy to defeat ISIS and now he is preparing to let hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria into the United States. I will stop illegal immigration. We will build a wall on the southern border, and yes, I will also quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS.

We'll make the military so strong, no one and I mean no one, will mess with us. If I win, we will not have to listen to the politicans who are losing the war on terrorism, we will make America safe, and we will make America great again.

Unlike President Obama, Trump makes no bones about calling the problem- radical Islam- out by name. It's this plain spoken certitude that has made him the favorite of GOP voters.


"If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live."

Greenies love that quote because it gives a veneer of profundity to their totally ignorant scares about fluctuating bee populations.  They even attribute the quote to Einsten, even though it in fact comes from the writings of Maurice Maeterlinck, who was a Belgian poet.  And Maeterlinck was wrong if honey bees were what he was talking about, which he probably was and which Greenies clearly are. Honey Bees Are Not Native to North America so how did the Indians get on before the white man introduced them?  Did they starve?  Hardly. Background article on that below.  More on the 20,000 species of bees here.  Something I didn't know but which seems obvious when you know it, is that bees are descended from wasps

Honey bees are among the most recognizable and beneficial of the insects that live in North America. But these insects are not even native to the Americas. Like most of the livestock associated with American farms, honey bees were imported by European settlers.

Prior to the arrival of the Old World settlers, honey bees were unknown to Native Americans. In fact, several early American writers, including Thomas Jefferson, reported that honey bees were called “white man's flies.” The name was recognition that the appearance of honey bees in America was associated with the arrival of the Europeans.

There was a close association between the westward migration of Europeans and the establishment of wild colonies of honey bees. Native Americans were said to have noticed that shortly after colonies of honey bees were discovered, white settlers would not be far behind.

So when did the first colonies of honey bees arrive in the New World? These bees probably came from England and arrived in Virginia in 1622. By 1639 colonies of honey bees were found throughout the woods in Massachusetts. Some of the colonists who arrived at Plymouth likely brought bees, as well as sheep, cows and chickens on the trip across the Atlantic.

Once the bees were introduced, they, like other insects, were able to increase their range by moving into new territory. Honey bees increase colony numbers by swarming. Swarms are able to fly several miles to establish a new colony.

Such migrating swarms brought honey bees to Connecticut and Pennsylvania by the mid 1650s. Honey bees had swarmed their way into Michigan by 1776 and Missouri, Indiana, Iowa and Illinois by 1800. In the next 20 years or so, bees had made their way to Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as Wisconsin.

Further westward migration of the honey bee was slow. In 1843 it was reported that there were no honey bees beyond Kansas. However, Mormons arrived in Utah, and the first bees were taken there on the back of a wagon in 1848. So successful was this introduction, it was reported that a considerable amount of honey was being made in the southern counties of Utah. By 1852 the swarms had reached Nevada.

Bees were finally introduced into the Pacific Coast states by using a sea route along the East Coast and crossing Panama, before using the Pacific Ocean for the final part of the journey. It was in 1853 that botanist C. A. Shelton used this route to introduce the first honey bees into California. Only enough bees from 12 colonies survived to establish one colony, but it was enough to allow history to credit him with starting the honey bee industry in the golden state.

Transporting colonies of bees either by sea or land in the 1700s and 1800s was not easy. The sea voyage from England lasted six to eight weeks, and it was not easy to keep bees alive for that length of time while confined. Many of the attempts to transport bees were unsuccessful as many stories relate.

For once in our history, the introduction of a foreign insect has a happy ending. After all, honey bees are a very important part of agriculture in this country, and we really can't do without them. Even if they do sting us once in a while!



'Whitesplaining': what it is and how it works

Leftists usually run away from any contact with conservative discourse because the factual points made by conservatives are toxic to Leftist beliefs. As a conservative, however, I have no fears about Leftist discourse and am always ready to learn so I read quite a lot of Leftist writing, even though I am often disappointed by its vacuity.

So I read with interest the attempt below by Catriona Elder (an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney) to explain some very fashionable Leftist tropes.

There she is, complete with feminist haircut

Sadly, however, amid her long ramble 
below I have found nothing but opinion. I would have thought that a social science professor might have brought some facts and data to bear but she has not done so.

And even her reasoning is just a ramble. I have read the article carefully, with particular attention to her view that being "colour-blind" is somehow wrong. Why is it wrong? She does not say -- but simply asserts that we are not in fact colour blind. Our behaviour does not match our beliefs. That is no new point, however; psychologists have been saying that since the 1930s.

But surely being color blind is a worthy goal? Perhaps not. It is difficult to get a grip on what she is saying but she seems to think that we should become MORE race-conscious. She wants us to SEE racial differences rather than ignore them.

That is very naive. The whole motivation behind the colour-blind people is to avoid us seeing too much. There ARE real race differences in educational attainmemnt, occupational attainment, crime-rates, IQ and much else. In one way I could be seen as her ideal person. I DO look at and report race differences. I have many published academic journal articles on race-related topics. And, as a psychometrician, I always feel free to mention black IQ if it is relevant.

Is that what she wants? I doubt it. She wants some ideal world where people see only those things that she wants them to see.

And her comments on privilege are frankly Marxist. Marx said that what you see depends on where you are. While that is trivially true in some ways, Marx meant that there was no objective truth and that what you see as truth will depend on your social class position. Catriona thinks the same, except that she sees your race as the important influence on your perceptions.

The nature of truth is a very large philosophical topic so, despite my interest in such matters I will forgo any attempt to address it fully here. Suffice it to say that those who deploy the "no absolute truth" weapon aim a gun at their own heads.

For example, if there is no absolute truth, why should I believe anything that Catriona says? She might simply be seeing the world from her own privileged viewpoint (I think she does) and all her resultant conclusions from that might simply be wrong and worthy only of being disregarded. She evidently wants to say that nothing is right excerpt what she says. Which is roughly what Mussolini said. She is a neo-Fascist.

So as far as I can see, what she says is an expression of muddled and poorly-founded opinion that expresses a diffuse sense of rage but achieves nothing more. I certainly fail to see from her writing that "race-blind" people are doing anything unworthy. Given that there are real and not always congenial differences between the races, I think that they are in fact rather heroic people. Ignoring race differences may be the best most people can do when it comes to fostering harmonious race relations

I am not entirely sure that I am spending my time wisely in commenting on the addled lucubration of an airhead like Catriona but her position in a senior university post is significant. The feebleness of her "explanations" should help to confirm in the minds of my fellow conservatives that even the smarter end of Leftism is intellectually incompetent. Had her screed been presented to me as a student essay in my time teaching sociology at Uni NSW, I would have failed it on the grounds of its incoherence.

Have you ever had an experience where someone is explaining to you, maybe in a lot of detail, something you actually already know quite a lot about? Possibly about your own life?

It’s frustrating. But it’s not a random occurrence, and it’s often about power. There’s a word for it: “whitesplaining”.

It’s a term that’s been in high rotation over the past couple of weeks, thanks to Hollywood film star Matt Damon and Australian radio and TV personality Kyle Sandilands, whose comments around issues of racial diversity and sexuality have sparked debate around issues of white privilege and “colour-blindness”.

Let’s reexamine their comments:

While appearing on Project Greenlight two weeks ago, Matt Damon - in the midst of a discussion about forming a directorial team for a reality show - argued the decision to appoint a director should be based on merit rather than diversity.

His comments suggest diversity is only an issue when casting actors, not behind-the-scenes crew such as directors.

A short while later, Damon gave an interview to The Observer where he argued gay actors should remain private about their sexuality:

"But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play."

As Nigel Smith pointed out in The Guardian, Damon’s point negated the interview he then gave, which spanned such personal topics as how he met his wife, their children and family life, his childhood and his political views.

Closer to home, Kyle Sandilands last week explained to the Australia television viewing public that the lack of non-white contestants on a new season of The Bachelorette is irrelevant:

"I think a lot of young people don’t think like that. They don’t think 'Oh we better have a black, we better have a brown'."

Being ‘colour-blind’ and why it’s a problem

Let’s begin by unpacking Sandilands' comments. His perspective is one that suggests “people are people”.

About 20 years ago academic Ruth Frankenberg studied the phenomenon of white people explaining away race and difference by declaring “people are people”. Her book White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (1993), explores the unspoken racial hierarchies around us.

In her terms, Sandilands self-identifies as “colour-blind”. It means you say you don’t see racial difference. Often making reference to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote about being judged not “by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character,” proponents argue that drawing any attention to race is, in fact, more racist.

An extreme form of a colour-blind attitude to race can be seen in the US movement Unhyphenate America, which argues terms such as African-American are divisive:

"Cultural cohesion and connectedness are more important than having a 'diversity' of skin colour. Anyone can choose to be a part of this culture, because the principles aren’t ethnically exclusive."

Sandilands made his on-air comments in response to his guest Sam Frost’s defence that The Bachelorette producers didn’t even think about race when casting the show.

But in a “colour-blind” world, they should have thought about it - because all the contestants for The Bachelorette are the same colour. In fact, Australian television in general fails to reflect our diverse population. So what’s happening here?

The selection process for who ends up on our screens is not neutral because, like it or not, we do notice difference, including race or ethnic differences, and we act on this awareness in subtle ways.

Ways that end up suggesting that the bachelors of Australia are white.

This is where the episode of Damon “whitesplaining” the world of race to an African-American woman is useful to explore. Richard Dyer, another scholar of race and culture, describes these situations in terms of white invisibility and white privilege:

"White people create the dominant images of the world and don’t quite see that they thus construct the world in their image."

White people move through the world in a way that is made to suit a particular worldview. Damon, in explaining away any need for affirmative action, or awareness of race in film and TV, is only saying: I, personally, did not need it. He does not see his whiteness and all the privileges that come along with it.


Whitesplaining - derived from “mansplaining” - is a new, zietgeisty, word, but it’s essentially an expression of privilege: the unconscious, unearned and largely un-examined benefits of prejudice.

The concept of “privilege” was fully articulated in its modern form by Peggy McIntosh in her 1988 essay,White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

In it, McIntosh lists specific and personal examples of her white privilege. Point number thirty is particularly relevant here:

"If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of colour will have."

Sandilands and Damon are white, famous, middle-aged men. They used their platforms to make statements about the nonexistence of social issues that actively benefit them.

All of this is not to say Damon or Sandilands are necessarily racist. Their comments, however, are examples of how easy it is for those with privilege to assume their experiences are universal. Because our media, our government and our cultural institutions constantly reflect whiteness back at us, it is easy act as if is the default.

Privilege is insidious because benefiting generally involves little to no effort. It is often the result of other people’s actions towards you, and requires simply that you look a certain way. Conversely, perpetuating privilege means acting on invisibly socialised patterns of behaviour.

Calling out whitesplaining is not about saying white people can’t talk about race: it means prioritising the voices of those with experience, not those with the loudest megaphone.



The Jehovah's witness version of John 1:1 is not mine

My translation is actually rather orthodox in scholarly circles. But I have found some new fun later on in John 1!

A reader has sent me a link to an exegesis which refutes the translation of John 1:1 preferred by Jehovah's witnesses.  She evidently did not see any difference between that and my account.

I could cavil about the exegesis concerned -- its apparent reliance on the Septuagint, which is itself a translation, for instance, their apparent reliance on the textus receptus when much better recensions are now available, and their apparent failure to grasp that "ho theos" was the normal pagan Greek word for any local god  -- which gave the NT writers something of a dilemma that they did not always resolve consistently,  but I will leave such points aside as I think they get there in the end.  I in fact agree with their final conclusion. I quote:

"Hence, the Word belongs to the category of theos (“God”) as to His essence or nature—not His personal identity".

Or as they put it more succinctly in their Conclusions:  "θεος in John 1:1c is qualitative, not indefinite"

Anarthrous theos indicates a quality not a person.  So it does NOT say that Jesus was God in the way that we would normally understand it.  It does not identify Jesus as God, which is what the trinitarians want it to do.

I did point out that anarthrous theos could be translated as "a God" -- which is what the JWs do -- but I myself saw the meaning as referring to divine attributes in line with the "morphe theos" of Philippians.

My correspondent also sent me another exegesis which allegedly addressed the meaning of "morphe theou" in Philippians but it did not address my points.  It was concerned with the particular usage of "theos" rather than "morphe".  I could in fact have taken issue with the theos usage in that passage but I had already grumbled about the translation of three other words in that short passage so I called a halt at that point.  I think I had already shown that the passage indicated that Christ was LIKE God but not God.  It was a simple statement that had been overinterpreted by theologians.

But I am always learning so in reading the second exegesis I came across something that is great fun indeed:  The usage of "monogenēs theos" in John 1:18.   A begotten god!  Is that not clear enough that Jesus was created, despite having divine attributes?

I could not believe I had missed that point before.  I guess I still use the KJV too much, which has "begotten son". And the Griesbach recension has that usage too "monogenes huios", begotten son.  So I was unaware that both Westcott & Hort and Nestle give "monogenēs theos".  "theos" must be better attested than "huios" in the early MSS.

Huge fun however is the way most modern translations render "monogenēs theos".  They either miss out "monogenes" entirely or say simply "only". And some stick with "son", despite that not being in the best renderings of the original Greek text.  Though the  NIV has the grace to put "son" in brackets!  It is obviously a hugely embarrassing passage to them.  Embarrassing enough for them  to mistranslate it deliberately.  They are just incapable of saying that Christ was both  "genes", "born", "conceived" (perhaps "generated" in modern terms) but also a "theos", a god!   "A born God".  Let those words sink in.

I suppose trinitarians will waffle their way around that, as they usually do, but there is nothing unclear or mysterious in the original text.  If the text had said a born son, it could have meant Christ's incarnation. But it does not.  It was not a man that was born. It was a God.

Needless to say, the theologians and exegetes have gone wild trying to tell us that the text does not mean what it says. They say that μονογενὴς (monogenes) just refers to a particular person etc.  And they then give a pile of excerpts from classical and Biblical Greek in support of that. They also quote Liddell & Scott's definitions in support of their claims.   But all the examples they give are in fact of naturally born people and people identified by their particular birth.  Putting it another way, Greeks would on occasions refer to people as "borns", for various reasons. But born still meant born.

But let's leave the μονο aside and just look at γενὴς. They won't like Liddell & Scott's first definition of "genea", which is "of the persons in a family".  Not the mystical persons of the trinity but the individual persons of a normal family.  And let us look at a word we all know:  "Genesis".  It's exactly the same word in Greek and English and it's a form of γενὴς.  And we know what it refers to, don't we?  A beginning. So Christ was a god who had a beginning, a birth. QED

I would have been burnt at the stake for saying that at times in the past


Australia is a nation of white privilege?

Despite the unceasing efforts of many Australian governments to improve the lot of Aborigines, we find a big whine from a part-Aboriginal man below.   Clearly he feels saddened by some of his life experiences but he is that way because of a lack of perspective.  He fails to factor in the great efforts to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal that have been made by many Australian governments over the years.  Those efforts have largely failed but it is Aboriginals who have failed to take advantage of what they have been offered.  You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

Australia does have an informal version of America's "affirmative action" in that the standards expected of Aborigines are lower than what is expected of whites but that has still done little good.  How is the rest of Australia to blame for that? The efforts have been made but Aborigines have failed to respond.

As well as that deficiency in perspective, the writer seems to suffer from something like delusions of reference.  He attributes all his difficulties to the color of his skin.  He seems to think that only Aborigines have problems.  That society also gives whites problems appears to be quite beyond his ken.  The problems whites and blacks have may be different but the problems whites have can be very severe.  We often read of young white people suiciding but I have yet to hear of an Aborigine doing the same.  Particularly in Britain there are stories of suicides among young white children and teenagers in the papers most days.

There is no doubt that children can be cruel to one-another  and that seems mostly to be behind the suicides I have mentioned.  Children will pick on almost any deviation from the norm and mock it.  In my youth I was mocked for being unsporting but I just ignored it and the mockery ceased.  That children also mock dark skin is therefore completely normal and unlikely to change.  If the guy below did not have dark skin he might well have been picked on for some other attribute.  Calling a society racist for what some children acting like children do is absurd.

In using the word "privilege", the writer is using an expression that often implies that a person is getting something undeserved.  But the whole idea of privilege in the field of race-relations is just a leftist slur.  It asserts that some people or classes of people were/are given certain things unfairly rather than working for them, earning them or deserving them

If a high IQ person makes a scientific breakthrough, is that privilege?  I can't see it.  He may be amply rewarded for his breakthrough but that reward is a reward for his work, not privilege.

Being born bright could be seen as a privilege but that is conferred by genetics not society -- and being bright of itself may mean little.  I knew a very high IQ man who could only find work supervising garbage bins.  It's the work you do using your brain that matters and which gives you any rewards. And the results of work are not "privilege".  They are justly earned  rewards

And a rejection of a job application by a black is also a justly earned reward, though the individual black himself might not have earned it. If Leftist privilege-critics can talk in terms of such broad categories as "whites", why can employers not think in terms of such broad categories as "blacks"?  And the well-known poor performance of both Australian and American blacks in many ways will often give rise to a reasonable fear that any given black may perform poorly in tasks relevant to the job in question. If the task involved singing and dancing or running fast, an application from an American black could well be given priority.  Who would be "privileged" then?

Any attempt at answering that question shows immediately that the whole idea of anchoring your analysis of wellbeing or success in such  broad and diverse categories as "whites" or "blacks" is near brain-dead.  It indicates an inability at detailed thought or a lack of fine-grained perception.  It is just a typical Leftist overgeneralization. There all sorts of whites, rich, poor and in-between.  Are they all equally "privileged" by being white?  Only a Leftist would think so

An intelligent appraisal of various forms of success in society would require much, much more than such childish categories as "whites".  Pre-schoolers can tell whites from blacks and Leftists  would appear not to have got beyond that infantile stage in their thinking.  Leftist politicians do talk of 'nuance' but they rarely display any of it

But nothing in Leftist "privilege" discourse is remotely intellectual.  It is just an attempt at stirring up racial antagonisms.  It is racism pure and simple. 

The guy below should stop obsessing about past slights and get on with living.  As an totally unsporting person, I manage to survive happily in a sports-mad nation so I can see no reason why an articulate part-Aboriginal man cannot survive happily in a mostly white nation.  Wise people make the best of what they have instead of whining about what they have not

Chinese, Japanese and Indians look different and are different in some ways but they do well in Australia.  The whiner below needs to ask himself why Aborigines fail to do likewise.  Within living memory, Italians Greeks and other Southern Europeans were treated with suspicion by "old" Australians but their children are now well and truly in the mainstream.  Why has that not happened with Aborigines?  Minor discrimination clearly does not hold anyone back in Australia if they have the drive to get out and do something for themselves rather than sitting down on their behinds

I have just returned from Jamaica, where I gave a keynote address on Black Consciousness as part of the country’s Heritage Week Celebrations. I spent a week feeling “black, loud and proud”, embraced for my Aboriginality and acknowledged by my international peers as an authority in my field.

But I returned home to discover yet another storm of racial vilification brewing. This time it was targeted against actress Miranda Tapsell, whose only crime was to be honest and heartfelt when interviewed about racism in Australia.

And, once again, anger was being aimed at retired footballer Adam Goodes – now due to his role as a David Jones ambassador.

And, last week, a video showing a group of black African students being asked to leave an Apple store in Melbourne went viral. It clearly showed an Apple staff member telling the boys that they had to leave the store because staff were concerned they were going to shoplift. Apple later apologised.
The reality of white privilege

It doesn’t take long as an Indigenous Australian returning from overseas to be reminded that we are a nation of white privilege. Examples of such privilege include people being able to experience the following:

    assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender or sexual orientation as you are;

    assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race or gender; and

    not have to think about your race, gender, sexual orientation or disabilities on a daily basis.

For me, it starts before the flight home. My daughter is the youngest-ever graduate in the Australian Public Service traineeship program, black or white. She also celebrated her 18th birthday in Paris after negotiating a dollar-for-dollar deal with her mother and I.

But rather than reaffirm her identity, Maiala’s success denies her Aboriginality, with people often shocked when they hear how well she is doing.

If she was beaten, abandoned and on substance abuse she would fit her racial profile. This is white privilege in action: assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race or your gender. If Maiala fit her racial profile her failures would be attributed to her being Aboriginal – but no-one assumes this of her success.

Our failure is a consequence of being Aboriginal. But any success is clearly only due to our having white blood.

Being black in white Australia

Everywhere we travel overseas as a family we are asked our ethnicity. Whether in Europe, the US or elsewhere, people are generally shocked to find out we are Indigenous Australians. Why? Because they had no idea black people, let alone Indigenous black people, come from Australia.

Australia is known exclusively as a country of white people. Could you imagine thinking of New Zealand without any idea that Māori people existed, or the US without black people or Native Americans?

My wife and children are very Aboriginal in their appearance. The welcoming faces they receive from other Australians when overseas quickly turn to shock, and replaced by a look we Aboriginal people see all our lives. People look down as we pass them, or slide across in public seats so we can’t sit next to them. Yes, this happens. And we see it, we feel it – and yes it hurts.

The situation almost becomes surreal on the plane. Generally every staff member is white on every major Australian airline. So here we are as black people, jumping on an aircraft of white people being served by white people, immersed back into a world of whiteness.

Just look at these in-flight air safety videos from Australia, the US and New Zealand. If ever there was a demonstration of Australian white privilege this is it. The US and New Zealand videos clearly show black and Indigenous people not only existing, but as being essential to the culture, the company and the identity of the institution. The Australian video is a world of whiteness.

History repeats itself

Australia just isn’t progressive and our people continue to suffer. There’s no better example of this than the fact that we are losing more of our children today than during the Stolen Generation. Not having been reared by my own Aboriginal mother, it is a situation that raises feelings of anxiety within me every time I return home from overseas.

The greatest demonstration of white privilege is that Australia consistently ranks near the top in the annual United Nations Human Development Index – which measures health, economic well-being and life expectancy.

But if Australia’s Indigenous population were to be ranked separately, it would come 100th out of nearly 200 nations. In other words, Australia is one of the richest Western countries in the world built on an industry of mining from the lands of Aboriginal people who remain living in third-world poverty.

As with Tapsell, my daughter Maiala, Goodes, black kids denied access to Apple stores and many others, the atmosphere is toxic. It affects us all and we have to call it for what it is: white privilege.



Agreement between Philippians 2:6 and John 1:1

 Ten years ago, I offered some comments on Philippians 2:6 which accepted the traditional understanding of the Greek word "harpagmon".  Since then, however, I have caught up with current scholarship on the translation.  So I thought it best that I started ab initio on a discussion of the text.  Hence my recent posts on that text.

It is interesting to note that even with the traditional translation of "harpagmon", I was able to show that the text is uncongenial to the hopes of the trinitarians. Nothing can get around the fact that Jesus was described as "morphe theos" rather than "ho theos"  -- "in the form of a god", not God himself.

And as I sometimes peskily note, Jesus also had a beginning.  He is a created being. John 1:1 says so: "In the beginning was the Word".  But the creator has no beginning.  He is eternal.  So Jesus is not the creator!  And John 1:1 agrees with Philippians 2:6  in saying that Jesus had divine attributes even if he is not the creator.  It says Jesus was "theos", not "ho theos". Both texts are careful to say Jesus was not THE God (in Greek).

I have commented on anarthrous "theos" several times previously and given authorities on the translation of that usage but I have recently acquired a copy of that massive repository of textual scholarship, The Companion Bible.  Its editor/author,  E. W. Bullinger, was theologically conventional but even he notes that anarthrous "theos" indicates divine qualities rather than the supreme being.  The qualities he suggests are conventional: "Infinite", "eternal" etc but those are his speculations.  The important thing is that he recognizes that "theos" and "ho theos" are not the same thing.  Neither Paul nor John are explicit on what were the divine qualities that Jesus had but his existence as a spirit being would seem to be the obvious interpretation, or at least the most parsimonious interpretation.

While we are discussing anarthrous Greek nouns, I might note that "arche" in John 1:1 is anarthrous too.  So it could reasonably be translated as "In a beginning was the Word".  That would seem to be an explicit claim that Christ was created. I can see a way around that conclusion but that is the obvious conclusion.

And for those who would use the predicate status of "theos" as a get out of jail free card, I have dealt with that elsewhere.


New Matilda gets an audience

The two-man army that is New Matilda feigned surprise a few days ago that Australians and Westerners generally are little moved by Muslims killing Muslims.  The article got picked up by overseas media, "going viral" as they say.  I add to their success by reproducing the article below.

The article closes in the usual Leftist way with an accusation that the indifference to Muslim deaths is all due to "bigotry".  We are not allowed to be satisfied when people are hoist with their own petard, apparently. 

The French have done us no harm but Muslims never stop their attacks.  So seeing some of them go to their doom at the hands of their own kind is some cause for satisfaction.  Reducing the ranks of the enemy is usually a good thing, regardless of their race or religion.  And Muslims make it very clear that they are our enemy

New Matilda, of course, persists with the desperate fiction that ISIS are "bad" Muslims who do not represent mainstream Muslim aspirations. So how come young Muslims are streaming from all over the world to join ISIS?  And how come ISIS is doing exactly what the Koran instructs?  Read the Koran starting from Sura 9 if you doubt it. 

And Turkey is the most Westernized Muslim nation so how did they see the Paris attacks?  When asked for two minutes silence to honor the dead, a Turkish crowd responded  not with silence but with loud and massed cries of "Allah Akhbar"!  -- plus whistles and boos. The REAL Muslims are the  Jihadis.  Most Muslims are not jihadis simply out of cowardice, not disapproval of Islamic teaching or loyalty

As France enters yet another period of mourning, Lebanon is just emerging from one. Not that you probably heard anything about it. Chris Graham reports.

If you didn’t know better, you could be excused for believing that the planning behind the latest terrorist attack in Paris is about more than just causing widespread death and fear in the West.

It looks like it’s also designed to highlight our selective outrage.

Overnight, dozens of people have been confirmed dead in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris.  News sites have fired up live blogs. Serious news Channels such as Sky are providing blanket 24-hour coverage of the event, and, as with all things tragedy, media are competing with each other for scoops and gory videos.

World leaders are also out in force, condemning the attacks. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held a press conference in Berlin a short time ago, after sending out this message of solidarity with the French people.  He was joined by his Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.  Labor’s Tanya Plibersek also tweeted in support.

French president Francois Hollande has declared a national State of Emergency, and closed its borders.

Meanwhile, in a brown part of the world, as the attacks began in Paris, Lebanon was just emerging from a National Day of Mourning, after 43 people were killed and 200 more were injured during a series of coordinated suicide bombings in Beirut.

The attacks – for which ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility – occurred in the southern Beirut suburb of Burj al-Barajneh, a predominantly Shia community which supports the Hezbollah movement. Not counting Israel’s assaults on Lebanon, the slaughters represent the deadliest bombings in Beirut since the Lebanese civil war ended more than two decades ago.

Like suspicions around the attacks in France, the bombings in Beirut are believed to be in response to Hezbollah’s decision in recent weeks to send in troops to support efforts in northern Syria against Islamic State.

But the bombings in Lebanon drew no tweet from Malcolm Turnbull, no social media statement from Barack Obama, no live media blogs from Western media, no wall-to-wall media coverage. And no twitter hashtags from Australians in solidarity with the Lebanese.

It’s a curious state of affairs, when you consider that there are around three times as many people of Lebanese descent living in Australia, compared to French nationals.

You’d think if we were able to identify with anyone, it would be with Lebanese Australians – after all, so many of them are among the most beloved in this nation, and have contributed enormously to public life.

Marie Bashir – perhaps the most admired Australian governor in history – is the child of Lebanese immigrants. Her husband, Nick Shehadie is as well – he’s the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, and a member of the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame.

Queensland parliamentarian Bob Katter has Lebanese roots. Former premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks does as well. One of the most loved rugby league stars of all time is Hazem El Masri. Benny Elias’ parents come from Lebanon. So do Robbie Farah’s.

In the AFL there’s Milham Hanna and Bachar Houli, and the current coach of the Australian Wallabies, Michael Cheika, is of Lebanese descent.

The Lebanese contribution to Australian business has also been immense – John Symond, the founder of Aussie Home Loans has Lebanese heritage. Jacques Nasser is the former CEO of Ford Motors in Australia. Ron Bakir of Crazy Ron’s mobile phones was born in Lebanon, and migrated to Australia.

There have, of course, been many great contributions by Australians with French heritage – commentator Richie Benaud, actress Cate Blanchett, businessman Robert Champion de Crespigny, politician Greg Combet, and the iconic AFL star Ron Cazaly.

But how do we explain our identification with French suffering and our apparent indifference to Lebanese suffering? Or more to the point, how do we explain our indifference to the suffering of people we perceive as different, Lebanese, African, Hazara, Muslim…. Brown people.

The sad reality is, Australia has been here before, and just 11 months ago. A few days before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, terrorist organisation Boko Haram razed the town of Baja in Nigeria, killing more than 2,000 people.

The world’s media – and most of its politicians – were mostly silent. Last month, at least another 30 people were killed in another attack on Nigerian mosques by Boko Haram.

That followed 10 people killed in a coordinated attack near the Maiduguri Airport, again by Boko Haram.

In Islamabad Pakistan, at least 20 people were killed in a suicide attack on minority Shias. That came a day after 12 were killed in an attack on another Shia shrine, this time in the province of Balochistan.

It is the Shia who were manning many of the boats that we turned away a few years ago, as sectarian violence reached unspeakable levels in towns like Quetta in Pakistan. When the Pakistani Taliban targeted the Hazara community in Quetta in September 2010 at the Meezan Chowk (a market in the middle of the city), they managed to kill at least 73 people and injure 160 more. In the background of the bloody carnage is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning Hazaras against the dangers of getting on a boat to come to Australia.

The Meezan Chouk attack in Quetta, In September 2010. In the background is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning locals of the danger of getting on a boat to seek asylum.
The Meezan Chouk attack in Quetta, In September 2010. In the background is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning locals of the danger of getting on a boat to seek asylum.

In September, at least 117 people were killed at a mosque in Nigeria, again at the hands of Boko Haram. The simple fact is, Muslims are far more likely to die at the hands of other Muslims – or more to the point, Islamic extremists who bear no resemblance to average Muslims. They’re also more likely to be killed by Westerners, who are seeking to kill Islamic extremists.

The difference is, they’re unlikely to see an outpouring of grief in Australia, or most of the rest of the world. But unlike Parisians, they already live in a state of perpetual terror. That’s why many of them have fled the Middle East for Europe, a reality which prompted this tweet this morning from American movie star Rob Lowe, a man who adequately sums up the outrage and frustration of white bigots everywhere.



Bimbo gives scientific advice

Only problem:  It isn't scientific.  She has no idea of the regulatory hurdles businesses have to get over in order to release a new product.  And her usage "linked to" can mean anything.  Let me do some of it:  Christie Brinkley is a Communist. I have no idea if she is or not, but now I've said that other writers can accurately say: "Christie Brinkley has been linked to Communism".  Easy, isn't it?  How to prove nothing in one easy lesson

Supermodel Christie Brinkley is speaking up about Monsanto, genetically engineered foods, or GMOs, and the role these controversial crops play in our health.

The 61-year-old’s new book, Timeless Beauty, provides insights on living a healthy lifestyle. One topic she’s particularly concerned about is food and how Big Food impacts our lives.

“I think there are so many issues with our food industry that are blatantly disrespectful to our planet and us as individuals,” Brinkley told FoxBusiness.com.

Brinkley spoke of the threat of monocultures on the honey bee population, in which enormous tracts of a single type of GMO plant such as corn or soy appear to make it hard for pollinators to thrive.

“The bees are suffering right now and without the bees—well, Einstein said when the bees go, the next thing that goes are people,” Brinkley said.

In response to Brinkley’s statement, Monsanto told FoxBusiness.com:

“We were surprised to hear Ms. Brinkley’s comments. Honeybees are essential in agriculture. Monsanto’s own fruit, vegetable, canola and alfalfa seed businesses depend on healthy pollinators to be successful. We have made significant investments in collaborations and research for the betterment of honey bee health. All GMO crops are tested for potential impact on honey bees, as was glyphosate herbicide. These products, when used as intended, do not impact honey bee health.”

Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup, kills every plant except for the genetically modified (“Roundup Ready“) plants that are designed to grow right through it. While neonicotinoids are usually pegged as a chief culprit to the country’s devastating honey bee decline, scientists have linked the monarch butterfly decline to the near eradication of the milkweed, a critical food source decimated by Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller.

Glyphosate formulations have also been linked to a slew of negative human health effects, including cancer. Monsanto denies these allegations.

During Brinkley’s interview with FoxBusiness.com, she also made it clear that she’s an advocate of GMO-labeling, something that nearly 90 percent of Americans are in favor of.

“What I don’t like about GMOs is that we’re the guinea pigs. The testing—if there’s testing—we’re the ones doing the testing and that is not fair and furthermore it’s not labeled so we don’t know if we’re the ones eating them,” Brinkley said.

“All the time we’re finding various links and I want my food pure and it can be done,” Brinkley added. “Monsanto and these giant companies are just taking over and their disrespect for our health and our rights is really maddening.”

Brinkley, who is a vegetarian, eats organic food but recognizes that not everyone can afford it.

“The more we all join in and demand organic foods, the better off that we’re going to be because every day they’re linking the chemicals, insecticides, pesticides and herbicides to men becoming sterile and with women it could be linked to the breast cancer epidemic that we’re seeing,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley also suggested other ways we can learn more about what’s in our food. “One way that’s very easy to get involved is for people to Google Monsanto and read about what’s going on,” she said.

She urges people to sign online petitions and have discussions about GMO food labeling, and to “make yourself heard so we can clean up the food industry and know what we’re eating.”

Brinkley is not the only celebrity involved in the contentious GMO food fight. Musician Neil Young dedicated his entire last album to taking on big corporations like Monsanto.



Now New Matilda is defending the Paris terrorists

Their contributor, Dr Lissa Johnson, writing below, is a psychologist/sociologist, as I am.  And what she does in the excerpt I reproduce below  is to excuse the terrorists by saying in effect "We all do it".  Saying that baldly would be too absurd to be worth saying so she repeats broad generalizations of the kind that psychologists have often made. 

She regurgitates the conventional wisdom in psychology -- the claim that most people love their own group and that leads to them hating other groups.  Rather amazingly, however, there has been little testing done of that claim. It just seems obvious to Leftist psychologists.  So they actually embody it in a definition.  They prefer to speak of "ethnocentrism" rather than racism and they define ethnocentrism as the combination of ingroup love and outgroup hate that I have just mentioned.  They embody in a definition what is in fact an empirical claim.

So how does the claim stand up when tested?  I have been involved in most of the surveys concerned and have uniformly found negligible correlation between ingroup and outgroup sentiment. So her implicit claim that the Paris massacres were simple psychological normality is built on sand.  Patriotism does NOT lead to a hatred of other nationalities and there were more than normal psychological processes behind the Paris massacres. 

What WAS behind the massacres is a mystery only to Lissa Johnson and her Leftist allies.  The Jihadists themselves told us that they hated what they saw as Parisian decadence compared to Muslim purity and their cries of "Allah Akhbar" are unanmiguous in  claiming that their thinking was Muslim.  And it was.  Read the Koran from Sura 9 onwards and you will see that the Jihadis were doing just what Mohammed commanded

So the Lissa Johnson whitewash won't work.  She and her fellow Leftists need to remove the scales from their eyes


Cashdan, E.  (2001)  "Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia: A Cross-Cultural Study"  Current Anthropology Vol. 42, No. 5.  pp. 760-764

Heaven, P.C.L., Rajab, D. & Ray, J.J. (1985) Patriotism, racism and the disutility of the ethnocentrism concept. Journal of Social Psychology,125, 181-185.  

Ray, J.J. (1971) Ethnocentrism: Attitudes and behaviour. Australian Quarterly,43, 89-97.  

Ray, J.J. (1974). Are racists ethnocentric?Ch. 46 in Ray, J.J. (1974) Conservatism as heresy Sydney: A.N.Z. Book Co.

Ray, J.J. (1984). Half of all racists are Left-wing.Political Psychology, 5, 227-236.

Ray, J.J. &Lovejoy, F.H. (1986). The generality of racial prejudice. Journal of Social Psychology, 126, 563-564.

Excerpt from Lissa Johnson:

In short, we know what makes people capable of unthinkable atrocity. Psychologists have understood it for quite some time.

Put simply, it involves an ‘us-versus-them’ mindset, in which ‘we’ are human and ‘they’ are not.

These processes are exacerbated by fear and intergroup competition, which are predictably exploited by leaders and popular media at times of crisis such as this.

Fear and intergroup competition breed not only outgroup hostility and dehumanisation, but also ingroup glorification and collective narcissism. Victims of ‘our’ violence are not only less human, but our violence is necessary and noble. Only ‘theirs’ is abominable.

The overlap in the psychology of our own and extremists’ group-based violence, however, is barely acknowledged in the psychological literature on extremism.

Where intergroup processes are described, there is little reference to their parallel role in ordinary law abiding citizens’ support for state-sanctioned violence (torture, war, military force, civilian death and injury), despite extensive literatures on the subject.

Rather, when applied to violent extremism, intergroup processes are often framed as particularly Islamic. They are described in terms of “Islamic youth”, “Islamic violence”, “Muslim extremists”, “prescription to obey the laws and rules of Allah”, the “extreme Islamic person”, “Muslim in-group superiority”, “Alienated and frustrated Muslims” and so-on.

Were the literatures on terrorism, radicalisation and extremism to acknowledge the shared psychological foundations with Western collective violence, two consequences might follow.

We would be forced to acknowledge that radicalised intergroup violence is not different, strange, unusual, unfathomable or foreign. Given the fierce hostility of global intergroup relations, particularly our and our allies’ devastating actions in the Middle East, group-based violence and hostility towards Westerners is predictable. And, unfortunately, human.

We would also need to acknowledge that our own intergroup violence is scarcely different. It is no more covered in glory, despite what our leaders and mainstream media would have us believe.

In the psychological passages above, for instance, while the third and fourth quotes relate to US citizens’ acceptance of US violence in Iraq, the sixth relates to contempt for asylum seekers and opposition to refugee intake in Canada.

Were we able to look past our own ingroup glorification we would see these very self-deceiving, self-defeating, base psychological processes at work in our own intergroup hostility, with origins in our very distant ancestors, whose knuckles still dragged along the ground.


A hot October

If you believe the manipulated data put out by NASA, Yes.  The worldwide average for October 2015 was a fifth of one degree above the equivalent figure last year. No news on the satellite data yet, strangely!

Even the crooks at NASA have had to admit, however, that the El Nino oscillation is at least "partly" to blame for the uptick.  How do we know that it was not WHOLLY to blame?  We do not. There is no way of telling.  Given that the usual temperature rises churned out regularly by NASA are in the hundreths of one degree, it seems likely that El Nino was responsible for MOST of the rise.

 A suitably dramatic media report excerpted below, with a lot of irrelevant comparisons and a lot of pretty pictures. If you look closely at the pretty pictures you will see that, overall, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of only about 0.64°C per century, a figure that has been with us for a long time

It's looking almost certain that this year will be the warmest on record.  According to the latest figures from Nasa, October has been the hottest such month since 1880.

Global average surface temperatures last month were 1.04°C above the long-term average - the greatest increase of any month ever recorded.

October 2015 also marks the first time a monthly temperature anomaly exceeded 1°C in records dating back to 1880.

The previous largest change was 0.97°C from January 2007, according to a report in the Washington Post.

The global average temperature for the year so far gives 2015 a 99.9 per cent chance it will beat 2014 as the warmest year on record.

This is according to Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who keeps the temperature records.

'Probability that 2015 will be a record warm year now 99.9 per cent based on Jan-Oct GISTEMP data,' he said.

This year is also likely to finish with global temperatures at about 1°C above pre-industrial levels.

The is halfway past the international goal of limiting temperature rise to no more than 2°C from that baseline.

Scientists say the trend is down to increased greenhouses gases in the atmosphere, as well as a very strong El Niño.



EU "refugee" influx all due to global warming

This claim had to come of course. But since there has been no global warming for over 18 years it CANNOT be true.  Things that don't exist don't cause ANYTHING

The satellites are the only way of obtaining a truly global temperature reading and for the last 18 years they just show random fluctuations around a constant mean. Here's the graph:

And even the terrestrial datasets show no statistically significant global temperature change over the last 18 years.

Global temperatures are anything but uniform, however, and there may have been some local warming in some places which was offset by cooling in other places.  But local warming is not global warming, to be reluctantly tautologous

Climate change can affect agricultural productivity and the incentives of people to remain in rural areas. This column looks at the effects of warming trends on rural-urban and international migration. In middle-income economies, higher temperatures increased emigration rates to urban areas and to other countries. In very poor countries, however, higher temperatures reduced the probability of emigration to cities or to other countries, consistent with the presence of liquidity constraints.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), which is the most comprehensive and relevant analysis of climate change, concludes that hundreds of millions of people will be affected by climate change. Its consequences will be felt directly and indirectly via resource availability and population movements, spreading consequences across the globe.

For this reason, the EU’s foreign and security policies, as well as official publications and strategies, have devoted increasing attention to climate-related factors. For instance, the joint report by Javier Solana and the European Commission defines climate change as a ‘threat’ multiplier, as it could be responsible for political and security risks affecting European interests (European Council 2008). Environmentally induced migration is quoted among the various threats identified in the report. According to the Council Conclusions on EU Climate Diplomacy, adopted in June 2011, climate change is a global environmental and development challenge with significant implications related to security and migratory pressures (European Council 2011).

The idea that climate-related migration could generate repercussions for European security is related to the possibility of large inflows of people from the areas adversely affected by climate change. Predictions of these flows, however, are extremely imprecise and based on a very wide range of hypotheses. The number of predicted migrants range wildly from 25 million to one billion over the next 40 years (IOM 2009). Vulnerability to climate change in poor countries, while certainly increasing the incentive to migrate, does not necessarily imply that migration will occur. Climate change, by decreasing the available resources, may constrain the ability to emigrate, and some vulnerable individuals may find themselves less mobile and less likely to migrate (Barrett 2008, Cattaneo and Massetti 2015, Gray and Mueller 2012, Foresight 2011).

New research

In a recent paper (Cattaneo and Peri 2015), we tackle the connection between increasing temperatures and migration by analysing the effect of differential warming trends across countries on the probability of migrating out of the country or migrating from rural to urban areas. A crucial insight is that by impoverishing rural populations and worsening their income perspectives, long-term warming affects migration in different ways, depending on the initial income of those rural populations. A decline in agricultural productivity, causing a decline in rural income, seems to have a depressing effect on the possibility of emigrating in extremely poor countries where individuals live on subsistence income. Lower income worsens their liquidity constraint, implying that potential migrants have a reduced ability to pay for migration costs and to afford travel and relocation costs. In this case, global warming may trap rural populations in local poverty. In contrast, in countries where individuals are not extremely poor, a decline in agricultural income strengthens the incentives to migrate to cities or abroad. Decreasing agricultural productivity may encourage a mechanism that ultimately leads to economic success of migrants, benefitting their country of origin and shifting people out of agriculture into urban environments.

Using decade changes between 1960 and 2000 for 116 countries, ranging from very poor to middle income, we perform a regression analysis that controls for country effects, decade effects, and several other geographic variables and allows for a different impact of temperature on emigration and urbanisation rates in poor and middle-income countries.

We find that increasing temperatures are associated with lower emigration and urbanisation rates in very poor countries.
In contrast, in middle-income countries they are associated with positive changes in emigration and urbanisation rates.

The incentive effect driven by lower agricultural productivity prevails in middle-income countries, and rural population is driven to cities, speeding the country's structural transformation and ultimately increasing income per person. In poor countries, the worsening of the liquidity constraint due to lower agricultural productivity prevails, and urbanisation and emigration are slowed.

Urbanisation and industrialisation are crucial mechanisms for GDP growth. For countries with intermediate levels of income per person, warming can push towards these gains. However, for countries where agricultural productivity is so low as to trap rural populations at subsistence levels, warming may instead slow economic transformation. These effects could contribute to divergence of income between poor and middle-income countries.

Where do people migrate to in response to warming?

Does warming produce large scale movements of individuals from middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to rich countries in Europe and North America? Or does it produce more local migrations in the regions?

We find that growing temperatures are mainly associated with emigration to non-OECD destinations that are close to the countries of origin (especially those within a 1,000km radius).
Emigration to OECD (i.e. rich) countries does not seem affected.
This result is consistent with the idea that climate-driven emigration is associated with a worsening of local opportunities and migrants move where they have better chances of finding a job given their current constraints. This ‘push’ factor (decreased rural income) increases migration to similar economies rather than to OECD economies. On the other hand, the migration-reducing effect for poor countries (due to worsening opportunities) affects both types of destination, as potential emigrants become less likely to leave the country altogether. Combining the effect on poor and middle-income countries, it appears that increases in average temperatures may actually decrease overall emigration to OECD countries. Middle-income countries are not more likely to experience emigration towards those destinations, while poor countries experience a reduction in emigration rates altogether. These findings suggest that climate change is unlikely to be the driver of large migrations to Europe as the impact on poor countries seems negative and climate-related migrations seem more local.



She likes him

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin

Forgive my sense of humor breaking out amid the present dark hour but if we let ISIS stop us laughing they will have won

Mr Turnbull is in Germany at the moment and making a good impression.  He represents Australia well.  And if he has won the heart of Frau Merkel so much the better.

I reproduce part of his speech below.  An interesting comment in it is his mention of the Devil.  I doubt that he represents many Australians by believing in the Devil.  But I believe in the Devil too.  There are many conceptions of the Devil -- a man in a red suit with horns and a tail; a fallen spirit being or the evil and destructive side of human nature.  I hew to the latter.  And that means that the the Devil is REAL and a great threat

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned brutal terrorist attacks in Paris, France, as an attack on worldwide freedom.

Speaking from Berlin on Saturday, where he has been visiting Germany to discuss economic and diplomatic issues, he echoed US President Barack Obama in calling the devastating assaults an attack 'on all humanity'.

Mr Turnbull said he had spoken with Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) who did not believe an increase in Australian's terror threat alert level was justified at this stage.

Australia's sympathies, thoughts and prayers were extended to the people of France after the attacks, which occurred on Friday night in France, killing many and injuring more.

The people of Australia stood with them in solidarity through the tragedy, he said.

'Protecting Australians, protecting freedom is a global battle. It is a global struggle for freedom against those who seek to oppress it and seek to assert some form of religious tyranny. A threat in the name of God, but is truthfully the work of the devil.'


Another domino falls: Southern California College Dean Resigns Amid Racial Issues

Parading their superior wisdom to the adult world is something students have always done, no matter how shallow or conventional their "wisdom" in fact is.   And that takes the form of "protests" against adult authority.  But the Left are so fully in charge of the universities and colleges that there is little of a conventional sort to protest about.  So nowadays they pick on tiny things and demand the impossible.  There HAS to be something to protest about that will draw attention to themselves.  Their "protesting" will give them warm feelings of righteousness and heroism for many years to come

The dean of students at a small Southern California college resigned Thursday after protests linked to racial concerns on campus.

Mary Spellman, who held the position at Claremont McKenna College since 2010, announced her resignation in an email to students.

"I believe it is the best way to gain closure of a controversy that has divided the student body," she wrote.

"I hope this will help enable a truly thoughtful, civil and productive discussion about the very real issues of diversity and inclusion facing Claremont McKenna, higher education and other institutions across our society," Spellman added.

Student protesters had demanded her resignation amid complaints that her office wasn't doing enough to deal with the concerns of students of color and others who felt marginalized.

Last month, Spellman responded to a college newspaper piece by a Latina student discussing her concerns by saying that Spellman would work to help students who "don't fit our CMC mold."

"This was her decision. She did not consult with anyone in the administration before making her decision," college spokesman Max Benavidez said.

However, "it was the right thing to do given the situation," he said.

Spellman's decision also follows Monday's resignation of the University of Missouri's president and chancellor in the face of racially tinged protests.

The liberal arts school east of Los Angeles has a high academic reputation and around 20 percent of its students are international students. School figures showed that as of last fall, the campus had 1,325 students, including 57 African-Americans, 180 Hispanics and 137 Asians.

Last April, about 30 students wrote to President Hiram E. Chodosh to say they felt excluded and among other things asked for a mentoring program and more diversity in hiring.

There also were tensions over a photo that appeared on social media showing the junior class president with white women who were wearing false mustaches, sombreros, ponchos and holding maracas at a Halloween party.

Spellman's resignation came a day after the school president announced the creation of new "leadership positions" on diversity and inclusion in student and academic affairs.