Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anti-Roma Prejudice And Noticing Group Differences

The Roma people have endured awful persecution for generations- most famously they were one of the groups targeted for extermination by Hitler in the Holocaust. Even today they are met with hostility and prejudice by many people in Europe. I wouldn't claim to be wholly immune to that prejudice even though I find them an interesting group.

This article denouncing Nick Clegg and David Blunkett for worrying about Sheffield's new gypsy population is the standard liberal reaction to fraught relationships with the Roma.

When prejudices are based on nonsense they are easy enough to erode but the problem is that many of the prejudices about the Roma are not based on misinformation but come from people noticing patterns that exist. This doesn't mean that discrimination against blameless individuals is wrong but the existence of cultural traits that are destructive and unpleasant to the majority population. These include Romany attitudes to things like stealing from outsiders and violence. This article- by an almost cluelessly right on liberal offers many examples:

The following day, while chatting with a group of Gypsies in the small Transylvanian village of Dealu Frumos, I get an insight into a side of the Roma that I have been constantly warned about but have not yet encountered. A young man and his friends are telling me about tsigani de casatsi—house Gypsies—"bad ones, who don't work on the land like us but just steal for a living." Without warning, he wrenches my notebook from my hands and shoves me against the car. I am punched in the kidneys, and my arm is twisted behind me. A blade is held to the side of my neck, and suddenly I am surrounded by roaring Gypsies, maybe 30 of them, more appearing every few seconds from the surrounding houses. My translator, Mihai, is punched in the head. "Money! Money! Money!" his tormentors bellow. I am allowed into the car to retrieve my bag, but Mihai is kept outside, a hostage to my ransom. I offer all the money from my wallet, and Mihai pulls free and throws himself into the back seat. As we drive off, we do an inventory of our injuries. Apart from bruises and shock, my main injury is to my hitherto benign image of the Roma as a wronged and misunderstood people.
That reporter went to Eastern Europe had clearly intended to write an article about how gypsies are persecuted by bigoted Slovakians and Romanians- but when behaviour like that is widespread in a community then someone who refused to prejudge Roma might be admirable but would also put themselves at unnecessary danger.

In other words the only way prejudice against the group will stop is if there is a clamp down on anti-social behaviour within the group.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Denis Macshane's False Claims

Denis Macshane's guilty plea to the charges of false accounting mean that he is destined for prison. I can't say I'm unhappy about this.

It is not his political beliefs that made him poisonous but his modus operandi- which was spreading repulsive smears about his opponents for the most minute political gains. Macshane neglected his constituency in favour of stealing public funds to swan around in Europe yet had the nerve to blame the rise of the BNP in his backyard on..... Conservative euroscepticism. He lied non stop about the supposed Nazi sympathies of the Tories' allies in Europe even suggesting that the Conservatives supported the Holocaust.

He  is a genuinely terrible human being.

The most hilarious aspect of all this is that he is apparently in a relationship with Vicki Price, the ex wife of Chris Huhne.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blairite Chutzpah

In the Independent John Rentoul attacks John Major's record on social mobility in comparison to St Tony. There is much in the article that strikes me as nonsense but this is particularly disingenuous:
But what did Major do to work to change the system while he was Prime Minister? He sneered at Tony Blair as “another public school-educated Socialist” in his 1995 Tory conference speech. That would be the Tony Blair who sent all his children to state schools, the first prime minister to do so. The Tony Blair who raised standards in state schools especially in London, under Major an under-invested disaster area for the education of working-class children. The Tony Blair who introduced academy schools to replace schools that had failed their disadvantaged pupils.
The state schools that Blair sent his children to were hardly "bog standard comprehensives", but the what is really incredible is praising academy schools.

Academy schools are a great idea but when Labour introduced they weren't exactly an entirely new idea. They are almost identical to the Grant Maintained Schools introduced by the Conservatives which flourished under John Major and were then abolished by Tony Blair. To compare Blair to Major favourably by pointing to Academies is simply ludicrous.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

A Tale Of Two Cities

New York has just elected a mayor whose politics make Ken Livingstone look like Norman Tebbit and it is the first time in twenty years that this heavily Democratic city has elected a Democratic mayor.

The main reason for this is that New York used to have a horrendous crime problem until Rudolph Guliani took office and reduced it massively and Bloomberg continued the process. Under the two Republicans (very nominally so in Bloomberg's case) the Big Apple became a liveable city once more.

Washington has undergone a similar transition lately, with crime falling considerably. It used to be one of the USA's most violent cities, ranking alongside Baltimore, Detroit and New Orleans but since 2008 the homicide rate has fallen by half from 31 per 100,000 to 14 per 100000. This is still a very high rate by most standards but it is a massive turnaround for a city that had seen rates over 80 per 100000 in the recent past.

New York rewarded the leaders who slashed the crime rate by re-electing them repeatedly over two decades. Washington has taken a different approach- with the mayor who presided over this unprecedented turnaround being unceremoniously turfed out of office.

Monday, November 04, 2013

National Treasures

I was going to do a post about how "national treasure" seems to be a code for overrated idiot.

However while preparing to take pot shots at smug celebrities like David Attenborough and Stephen Fucking Fry I came across a piece by Nick Cohen on rather more sinister national treasures, Cyril Smith and Jimmy Savile.

Well worth reading.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Keep Women Drivers Off The Roads Says Guadian Columnist

The Guardian publishes an article by a Saudi Arabian man about women drivers. As you will be aware women can't drive.... and in Saudi Arabia it's illegal too.

 [pause for laughter].

Anyway the Guardian has published this article about by a Saudi man about how women in the kingdom don't really want to be allowed to drive because... well I didn't really follow the line of reasoning. I'm just too flabbergasted that a mainstream paper that has been publishing countless articles suggesting that western society is insanely misogynistic recently would actually publish something like this.

Sample quote after surveying female students:

I offered them anonymity in their answers, but even so, some wanted to be recognized.
Exactly how they could be recognised while wearing sacks over their heads wasn't explained.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Shooting Nazis- Not A Good Idea.

Greece's Golden Dawn party is a neo-Nazi organisation that has apparent ties to political violence. Even so the people responsible for murdering two of their activists are as bad themselves.

They are also idiots. Assuming that the killers are far left activists- which seems reasonable given Greece's historic problem with murderous Marxists- the aim is presumably to curtail Golden Dawn's electoral appeal. We have seen this before.

Pim Fortuyn of the Netherlands was not in any way a Nazi but he was libeled as such by the media, so his killing provides a good example of what happens when the fight against supposed extremists is carried out by murder.

In the subsequent elections his party they gained so many votes that they won a place in the Dutch government, while this didn't last long (because Fortuyn wasn't a good party organiser and without him there was no real institution to act in a coherent manner) government is not where Golden Dawn should end up.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Diverse Influences

I was just reading the Wikipedia entry for Steven Pinker earlier today and see that among the "influences" listed in the article it names Noam Chomsky and Thomas Sowell.

There can't be many public intellectuals who are familiar with the work of two such diametrically opposed thinkers as Chomsky and Sowell.