Saturday, May 22, 2010

A true human rights outrage

I can't believe, in this day and age, that two grown men could be given 14 years of hard labor simply for exploring their sexuality.
Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were given the harsh sentence for committing "unnatural acts."
Unnatural acts—like daring to find someone of the same sex attractive; for daring not to breed; for daring to be human.
If ever there was a human rights case worthy of the title, this is it. We're not talking about some scummy terrorist who entered Britain on a student visa and can't be sent back to Pakistan because, oh no, he'll be tortured or possibly killed there! Who the fuck cares? I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep.
This is different; this is the very case for which human rights is entirely applicable. Yet, Britain, one of Malawi's biggest donors, has not withdrawn aid, though it condemned the Malawian judge's decision. No Western country, as far as I'm aware, has withheld aid to protest the sentence. (I'm not much for giving aid to Africa anyway, since it never seems to help and therefore seems like a waste of resources. I'm content to leave it to charities to help out there.)
Now, I'm all for any culture deciding what to do with themselves. If a people want to be soulless sticks-in-the-mud by disapproving of homosexuality, that's their business. I'm no fan of gay militancy, which disregards any other way of life as valid or worthy of respect. It's one thing to discourage homosexuality as long as human rights are protected and no-one gets hurt. But a culture that despises gays and will lock them up in a tough prison where they may not live to see out those 14 years? That's an outrage.
Furthermore, this wasn't just one judge's decision. Most Malawians approve of the sentence. Some even shouted "you deserve death" at Monjeza and Chimbalanga.
Right now, I don't care how badly Malawi or any other homophobic African country needs our aid. They can struggle and starve until they get with the 21st century. Anti-gay fervor of this type is an outrage and the West should send a message that's every bit as strong as the sentence.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It's the Dave 'n' Nick show!

We finally have a brand-new government here in Britain—and it's being run by a Clam.
The election resulted in the predicted hung parliament—which means no party won enough seats to claim a majority rule—but the Conservatives won the most. Labour came second and the Liberal Democrats third.
For five days, there was a lot of political wrangling. There was a lot of handshaking, hand-wringing and deals being struck. But, despite their second-place showing, Labour knew their time was up, and Gordon Brown executed perhaps his greatest decision of his entire five-year tenure by stepping down. Technically, he had the right to stay at No. 10 till September, but he intelligently chose to resign, paving the way for a new coalition government to take over. Gordon Brown eventually showed his mettle and recognized the will of the people, and we must give him credit for that.
The Conservative leader David Cameron is now Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (the British equivalent of a Vice President) is Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. The two managed to hammer out a Cabinet that is mostly Conservative in make-up but with enough of a sprinkling of Liberal Democrats to, what they hope, will reign in the more strident Right-wingers of Cameron's cabinet.
It's really weird, having a Deputy PM that is of a different party—and different political outlook—than the Prime Minister. But the two leaders have promised to work together closely for the next five years. They have both received a warm congratulatory response by President Obama.
Cameron, without too much trouble from Mr. Clegg, has solidified Britain's commitment to Afghanistan, set an annual limit for non-EU immigration, protected their promise to reform education by raising standards and weakening teachers' union power, appointed a tough Home Office to deal with crime and to cut the red tape for more effective policing, and scrapped Labour's ID scheme. Hopefully, this will mean a significant loosening of our stifling database state. A return to greater civil liberty will be much welcomed.
The new government will also hopefully tackle the welfare culture, getting millions back in jobs, and slash benefits for slackers. They plan on cutting the deficit through the public sector, not by raising taxes.
If there are any roadblocks or unpopular decisions, both parties will bear the burden of blame. That, right there, is one benefit of a coalition government.
David Cameron is a gentleman as well as a pragmatist and Nick Clegg, Leftie idealist though he may be, is no less of a likeable man. And they're both young. Both men are only 43 years of age. Gordon Brown was already active in campus politics by 1972; in that same year, Clegg and Cameron were going grocery shopping with their mommies and asking if they could have the sugary cereal. I'm proud to have two of my fellow Gen-X'ers in charge.
Both men appear to have forgiven any election campaign rancor and buried whatever axes they may previously have tried to swing at each other. (One editorial cartoon, published in the wake of the Rose Garden press conference, showed Clegg as Jerry and Cameron as Tom!) I do believe, not even naïvely, that these two mean business.
Cameron and Clegg—Clam for short—represent a refreshing and much-welcomed change of government. Well done, fellas. Now get to work, because there's a heck of a lot to be done.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Election night thoughts ... (Good riddance, Labour?)

This guy may be a Labour candidate, but if I lived in the community he hopes to represent, I'd vote for him.
This is what parliamentarian hopeful Manish Soon had to say about Gordon Brown on his webpage:
"Immigration has gone up which is creating friction within communities. The country is getting bigger and messier. The role of ministers has gone bureaucratic and the action of ministers has gone downhill—it is corrupt. I believe Gordon Brown has been the worst prime minister we have had in this country. It is a disgrace and he owes an apology to the people and the Queen."
Now, not even I think Mr. Brown should have to apologize to Her Majesty (the Queen, in recent years, seems to have only just herself realized her duty to the people), but he certainly owes every member of the voting public an apology.
Whatever happens as a result of tonight's election, whatever type of country we wake up to tomorrow, can I just say that Labour could badly do with more MPs of your ilk, Mr. Sood.
At London's Methodist Central Hall earlier this week, Gordon Brown was moved at the sight of 14-year-old Tiara Sanchez crying as she delivered a personal testimony to him. When the Prime Minister asked her what was wrong, she responded that her family, who work as cleaners, are condemned to a life of poverty. Brown responded in a most heartfelt manner that she, and other poor, struggling families, could count on him to be a "friend" and a "brother."
Oh, please! This is politricking at its best—or do I mean worst? Brown is trying to save his own skin. We saw the real Gordon Brown last week when he called a hard-working 65-year-old woman a bigot, during what he thought was a private conversation with his staff, because she dared to voice her concern over the flood of immigrants swallowing up the country's resources.
This girl and her family are finding it hard to make ends meet, Mr. Brown, because you've budgeted millions worth of government money to meet the greedy, utopian and, more than anything else, anti-British demands of the European Union. Hardly a red cent you've provided for loyal British troops, to ensure the health of the British armed forces and the U.K.'s commitment to NATO.
You've also doled out plenty from the state coffers on multi-culti programs, and toward bailing out the banks, only you didn't give the banks millions; you gave them billions.
Funny how a family named Sanchez doesn't seem to have benefitted much from the diversity-praising society you've created. Not to mention all the money you've allocated toward child benefits. People should have families based on their own budgets, not the government's.
Well, as I've already noted, at least no-one can accuse you of spending too much on defense.
Nightdragon endorses David Cameron and the Conservative Party for tonight's general election. I don't feel particularly glad that fox-hunting enthusiasts may return to power, but there are other issues that badly need sorting out in order to promise the nation some sort of future. If the Tories would simply follow Ann Widdecombe's example, they'd be perfect—something they're currently not. But they're the best choice for the next five years.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Avatar overload and the "anti" agenda

(Previously published by Blogcritics)

That's all I'm seeing lately. A close-up of a blue face with a yellow cat-like eye staring at me from every bus stop, and 1,001 versions of newspaper advertisements and television commercials extolling the apparently overwhelming need for your own DVD or Blu-ray copy of what has been declared mankind's all-time motion picture achievement. It's Avatar overload. I don't think I've ever witnessed such fawning saturation of the market for any film before this one.
If Avatar had stuck purely to its message of respect for the environment and people's rights, then fine, I might be willing to watch it and perhaps even agree with the sentiment. I have no love or respect for corporations who plunder and ruin the environment for no other good reason than profit. But director James Cameron takes things much further.
Uncle Sam had to get up to his devilish ways and try to destroy everything and everyone on the Avatar planet in order to fulfill a thirsty desire for a rare mineral found there. This storyline is every bit as puerile as it is predictable.
Cameron, like most self-styled Left-wing heroes, conveniently ignores that fact that the United States is to be reckoned with with respect to environmental technology and that the majority of Americans approve of conservation. If Cameron's message was that America was being controlled by some sinister lobby which ensured that the film's fictional administration had to provide the mineral at all costs, that would be one thing. A stretch, but at least some sort of excuse. Instead, Cameron gets all Michael Moore on us, gleefully informing worldwide audiences that America, through its rock-solid belief in capitalism and its armed forces, is always reckless and dangerous.
As one sentinent critic observes: "James Cameron believes that the way forward is to tear down the factories, to tear down the cities, and give up on all mod cons."
Then there's the charge of racism as it pertains to Avatar. That one of the leading human characters, a white researcher, defends the Avatarians, enforces the notion that a fictional race of other people of color should need and rely on white assistance in order to defeat a threat to their way of life.
As this review makes clear, in Avatar, "the narcissistic fantasy of the white hero who leads people of another color in a struggle of liberation presents whites a pleasing images of themselves as saviors rather than oppressors. The racial masquerade is another fantasy solution to white guilt in which the white hero crosses over and pretends to be black or native American."
Gee, let's all smile and hold hands, shall we? This fantasy is very adept at perpetuating the notion that Caucasians—especially Anglo-Saxon ones—are deeply suspect, sinister and even evil unless they turn their backs on and reject their fellow war-like, rampaging whites. Whoever coined the phrase "blue-eyed devil" was a natural at PR and Cameron was only too eager to extrapolate on this theme.
Again, this very conveniently ignores the fact the great majority of environmentalists are, and have been, whites. When you think of a member of Greenpeace, the Sierra Club or Friends of the Earth, what's the first image that pops into your head to define the look of the average member? That's right: I'm thinking Shaggy from Scooby-Doo myself.
(Besides, let's not forget that Avatar's director is the same man who was happy to see several domesticated rats drown in the attempt to perfect a scene in an earlier film of his, The Abyss. Some nature-lover.)
If racism and civil rights is what you're concerned about, you only have to look at the way most Americans have reacted with horror to Arizona's tough anti-illegal immigration law to know that the nation's civil-rights consciousness is stronger than ever. (A completely misguided sense of civil rights outrage, mind you, but surely admirable in the eyes of Cameron clones nonetheless.)
In other words, I'm sick to practically the point of death—surely a good thing according to whackjobs like Cameron on account of my being white—of Avatar due to its only-too-predictable anti-Western, anti-American, anti-white, anti-capitalist bias. There is nothing "pro-" about this film. It has "anti-" written all throughout its screamingly obvious agenda.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where's-a de outrage-a?

Please click on this link, watch the 20-second commercial and then be prepared to spend another five to ten seconds simply being amazed at what you've just watched.
Or, I can only hope you'll be amazed. Because if there's any such thing as political incorrectness, this would classify as such.
This is just one example of the type of TV commercial that Dolmio produces. There are scores of others. But you get the gist. This is going into territory that should not be crossed.
Or should it? It's not really the political incorrectness of the ad that bothers me—I am not known for developing a squeaky wheel on the matter of political correctness, far from it. It's the double standard that frustrates me.
Why pick on Italians? You wouldn't put over-inflated characterizations of Africans, Asians or Latinos on the TV, so how in the name of God's great Western society is Dolmio getting away with this?
I once saw a shirt in Harvard Square that showed three drawn men crawling along the ground and puking above which were the words "Irish Yoga." The Boston Irish community poking fun at itself, no doubt. We've long since accepted that it's fine for people to poke fun at their own ethnicities (blacks do black jokes, Jews do Jewish jokes, etc.). But are Italians doing these commercials? I doubt it; they're British advertisements. Which brings me back to the question of why or how they exist in the first place.
Britain doesn't have a particularly large Italian community—though, being part of the European Union, we have people from all over Europe living here—so maybe the British company directors of Dolmio judged it safe for their Anglo-Saxon kith and kin to laugh at silly, stereotyped cartoon Italians during the commercial breaks that interrupt the latest episodes of Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing and Simon Cowell Takes A Shit (otherwise known as Britain's Got Talent).
I asked an American of Italian heritage with whom I work about these Dolmio commercials. He replied that he wasn't particularly bothered by them, but agreed with me that they probably wouldn't survive more than a moment in America. The Anti-Defamation League would surely have a field day with them. Either that or the higher-ups at Dolmio would "be swimmin' with de fishes."
I just wish we could all read from the same page and agree on the same language being used here. Either it's acceptable to poke fun of and stereotype ethnic groups or it isn't. A fella named Guiseppe Zaccharri, let's say, can market cartoon characters on the TV and radio like those in the Dolmio adverts as long as Signor Zaccharri makes it clear that he and his people are behind such a thing. (One reason why In Living Colour was so successful and unthreatening was because it was absolutely clear from the get-go that the black comedians running the show were making fun of black culture.) Otherwise, in my opinion, it just doesn't fly.
Dolmio, methinks, has some explaining to do. I doubt they will.

The Nightdragon interview

Mike Thomas, who operates the excellent site, has recently published an interview with yours truly.
Click here.
Vote for me, or consider having your own interview conducted. There are prizes to be won, if you prove popular enough!
Thanks again, Mike, for considering my input on your site and publishing the interview.