Rex Murphy: ‘White privilege’ on the march

Rex Murphy, in a typical rant, misses the point entirely and the evidence that “white” or European privilege exists. Yes, some academics and activists take this to ridiculous extremes but that does not mean that it does not exist, and that those of Caucasian origin should not be more mindful of any advantages that they have.

But to use historic examples of how whites suffered through famines and wars while being silent on slavery shows an incredible blindness, as does his silence on more contemporary examples like US police disproportionate shootings of blacks or Toronto police carding:

To even set up white privilege as a category is prima facie racist. It is to reduce the sum of a person, his dignity, his drive, his worth and his soul to the colour of his skin; it is to posit skin colour as the point of departure for all interactions with that person, to found judgments on that skin colour, to draw feverish and deliberately negative conclusions from it.

That such a pseudo-concept even exists, and has full annual academic conferences to elaborate on its tedious fancifulness, and undergraduate courses to inject it into half-formed sensibilities, testifies — one more time — to the modern university’s descent into fatuousness. That any institution which claims to be one of higher learning even allows such trivial exchange offends the dignity of expression, and purporting to offer “instruction” under its banner is just the latest fulfillment of Alexander Pope’s prophetic alarm: A little learning is a dangerous thing. Emphasis on little, very little.

Some universities have become parodies of themselves, shops of petty moral vanity, given to feverish exhibitions of their putative sensitivity and moral preciosity. Hence “trigger warnings” for Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the hysteria over “rape culture” and, as here, activist sideshows masquerading as academic courses. (Exhibit A, from Columbia University’s Spectator: “Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom.”)

It is to the great shame of modern universities that they have debased themselves to the pursuit of these follies

The obsession of seeing everything in race-coloured terms is itself racist. Anti-racism pursed by zealots transforms itself into the very vice it deplores. This is the cost of identity politics, and its close bedmate, victimology enterprises — the desire to judge, define, represent and indict the individual by the group he or she belongs to. Every human being’s experience in its infinite particularities and potentials transcends category.

It is to the great shame of modern universities that they have debased themselves to the pursuit of these follies, and that they do not cast this cant aside as being hollow, sublimely tendentious and utterly shameful to the idea of, or the aspiration to achieve, an educated mind. Wasn’t Doctor King’s most famous prayer that he hoped to see the day “when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character?”

Fatuousness is not limited to universities as Rex demonstrates all too well.

Rex Murphy: ‘White privilege’ on the march

Why Obama invoked the Crusades — and what it says about how he views terrorism – and Related Commentary

Carefully thought out strategy:

Obama, though, is not budging. And his comments on the Crusades and the Inquisition represent the latest ratcheting up in his quest to change how people talk about terrorism. He views Islamist terrorists as exploiting their religion; his opponents believe there is something about Islam that creates fanatics who are willing to carry out terrorist attacks.

For what it’s worth, Americans used to sympathize more with Obama. But the rise of the Islamic State appears to be pushing things in the opposite direction. A Pew poll in September showed, for the first time, that 50 percent of Americans viewed Islam as more likely to encourage violence than other religions. Another 39 percent said it was not more likely to encourage violence.

This could be part of the reason Obama is upping the rhetoric. Words matter, and the way this issue is framed is going to go a long way toward determining how the “war on terror” will be waged. Moreover, the rise of the Islamic State — along with the lesser-publicized Boko Haram — has ramped up the debate over terrorism and its roots to the highest point since perhaps after Sept. 11, 2001. This is a key moment in defining the terms of the debate. Both Republicans and Obama recognize that.

Obama’s critics believe he’s being Pollyannaish about the nature of the threat and how it is inherently tied to Islam. Without recognizing the seeds of terrorism, they reason, how can you combat it?

Obama disagrees wholeheartedly with that characterization and thinks attributing violence to Islam is unfair and damaging to relations between Christians and the broader Muslim population.

It’s perhaps the defining semantics debate of his presidency.

Why Obama invoked the Crusades — and what it says about how he views terrorism – The Washington Post.

Commentary from Richard LeBaron, a former U.S. ambassador (ret.) and the founding coordinator of the U.S. Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications Strategy:

The United States and its allies are in a conflict with certain groups that would like to convince the world that they are the true representatives of Islam.

We will succeed in that war only if we stay focused on the key element of counterterrorism strategy: excellent intelligence gained through maintenance of a first-rate intelligence community and sharing of intelligence with others; the ability to project deadly force when needed against specific groups and targets who wish us harm; and enlistment of Muslim and non-Muslim countries and communities around the world to do their fair share in combating terrorism and addressing its root causes—be those poor governance, weak states, religious incitement, or psychologically marginalized individuals looking for outlets for their rage.

Preventing the attraction to terrorism, as opposed to attacking known terrorists, is a long-term project that requires a serious approach. The contrived debate about labeling terrorism is both counterproductive and at odds with an American value system that separates religious belief from political considerations.

Those actually doing the fighting against terrorists deserve better than bumper sticker slogans to guide their actions. They should not be asked to fight a dimly understood religious war.

Declaring War on Radical Islam Is Not a Counterterrorism Strategy

The Globe Editorial on the Canadian government response is along similar lines:

Canada’s small number of terrorists thus far have been mostly self-radicalized. Think of the St-Jean-sur-Richelieu murderer Martin Couture-Rouleau or parliamentary shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Both were deeply troubled men who at some point grabbed onto ideas floating about on the Internet, and decided that the purifying appeal of violence was the answer for what ailed them. They weren’t sent here by ISIS; it would be more accurate to say that they caught a virus, albeit one that the intellectual immune system of the overwhelming majority of Canadians of all faiths is thus far resistant to.

They were also self-Islamicized. Their made-up religion of endless war had little to do with the Islam encountered in Canada’s mainstream mosques. Otherwise, this country might be overrun with Couture-Rouleaus and Zehaf-Bibeaus. It is not.

On the day of the Parliament Hill shooting, this newspaper editorialized “against exaggeration, hysteria and despair” and “in favour of calming the hell down.”

Over the past few weeks, the Prime Minister has seemed intent on riling people up and making the most of the terrorist threat. He has exaggerated the danger of ISIS and its connection to possible terrorism in Canada. That’s wrong. At a time like this, the PM should be the chief minister in charge of deflating hyperbole, putting things in perspective – and reminding Canadians that we must continue as we always have, on guard but free.

 A ‘war on terrorism’? No thanks. There are smarter ways to meet the threat 

Lastly, shallow commentary by Rex Murphy:

There have been many sins committed by many faiths, and there are tragedies even now underway. But it is a very displaced analysis that seeks to offer corrections to Christianity during a period of Islamic turmoil, and seeks out forgotten sins to ignore those so very close to mind.

He forgets history provides context and cautions us not to jump on bandwagons and the meme of the day.

Rex Murphy: In Obama’s impulse to absolve Islam, he offers a rebuke to Christianity

Rex Murphy: The case for revoking the citizenship of Canadian terrorists

Rex Murphy makes the case for revoking citizenship.

Like Wente (How can we stop the jihadi tourists? – Margaret Wente), he forgets, either by design or by ignorance,  to mention that this means different treatment for the same crime based upon whether one has Canadian or dual nationality:

Priests are defrocked; medals from honour societies have been imperiously stripped from their holders; soldiers are court-marshalled and drummed out in disgrace; lawyers disbarred, judges swept from the bench, Senators tossed from caucuses, and even Presidents impeached.

The soldier who flees in combat and exposes his fellows to danger is seen as not worthy of being a solider. The judge who has oiled his palm with a bribe is seen as not worthy of being a judge. Treason and excommunication are long-standing responses to ultimate disfealties — and they are surely a kind of cancellation of status, one by the death penalty, the other by exclusion from the community of believers and the possibilities of salvation.

To my mind, these are all of an inferior enormity to the case of a citizen who abandons the country in which he was born, or to which he gave the oath of citizenship, who then pledges his fealty to a murderous band professing a murderous creed.

It’s a strange world in which we have even to contemplate such exigencies, but it is a strange world we find ourselves in today, in which nationals of the democracies willingly travel abroad to invest themselves in the orders of international terrorism, spit on their achieved citizenship, and threaten the safety of their onetime fellows in nationality.

The denial of passports is a stage toward the denial of citizenship. But the denial or witholding of passports is not a sufficient signal of the detestation a country and its people hold for those who so contemptuously forsake the gifts of loyalty and respect that a country rightfully commands from real citizens.

So to use his examples, decisions to defrock a priest do not depend on whether he was born into that religion or converted.

Neither are medals stripped, soldiers court martialed, lawyers disbarred, judges swept from the bench, or Senators tossed on the basis on the distinction whether they are single or dual nationality.

It is the crime or infraction that determines the punishment, with the same punishment for the same crime.

Passport cancellation applies to all, Canadian-born or naturalized, single or dual nationality, and thus consistent with the fundamental principle of equal treatment.

So pursue relentlessly, punish through the Canadian justice system but don’t make a distinction between nationality. After all, we have any number of Canadian-only nationals involved in extremist activity (e.g. Damian Clairmont, the Gordon brothers, John Maguire).

Rex Murphy: The case for revoking the citizenship of Canadian terrorists

In Justin Trudeau’s world, Christians need not apply

An odd post by Rex Murphy on religion and politics, prompted by Justin Trudeau’s decision that Liberal party candidates and MPs must toe the party line on abortion:

What kind of politics are they which require an MP to renounce his deepest moral commitments; indeed, to go beyond renunciation and declare himself positively in favour of ideas and actions that his faith condemns, his Church forbids, and his conscience cannot abide?

Religion, under these conditions, cannot survive political engagement. An understanding of politics based on an exclusion of thoughtful and engaged religious people — on the rejection of ideas and understandings offered by the great religious teachers and the massive legacy of thought our churches have to offer — is radically incomplete.

As things now are, a truly religious person must actually stay out of politics — must forgo an active role in democratic government — because in our brazen and new age, he or she will be faced with irreconcilable moral choices. If elected, he or she will be required to betray their faith and themselves, and on those very issues that matter most: issues of life, family, autonomy and the dignity of persons.

Whatever one’s views on abortion, the broader issue, as Rex points out, is the relationship between religion and politics. But his view breaks down when we look at other religions, where I suspect he would be less absolutist.

Would Rex support a party allowing an Islamist candidate opposed to equality for women? Advocating for sharia?

What about traditional Sikh or Jewish candidates who disagree with equality for LGBT persons?

What is different about Catholic orthodoxy compared to other orthodoxies that makes it more unchallengeable?

In the public arena, one has to temper one’s personal religious beliefs with the reality of living in a diverse, multicultural and pluralistic society. Most leaders get this and it is no accident that PM Harper has kept his social conservatives in line on abortion and other issues.

This is not to diminish the moral, ethical and faith dilemmas that abortion and other social issues pose for politicians, but it’s part of the “job description.” And there are plenty of ways to live your faith on a wide variety of other economic and social policy issues.

Rex Murphy: In Justin Trudeau’s world, Christians need not apply




‘Check your Privilege’ Debate

A fairly typical rant by Rex Murphy on ‘check your privilege’:

It is a direct effort to impose guilt where gratification should reign. It is to make those who work hard, try to conduct themselves responsibly, who apply themselves to study, feel that none of these attributes, none of their honest effort, has earned them success. Why should all a young person’s effort and sweat, holding on to a moral code, and determined application to make something of their life be turned against them, be denied its efficacy, and everything praiseworthy about a person be dismissed as merely a gift of their ethnicity?

What’s most obnoxious about this trend is its blatant attempt to chase effort, merit, industry and determination off the field entirely. The privilege movement seeks to sully and taint  the commonplace eternal virtues, so that when one of us sees another happy in marriage, perhaps, or successful in business, and maybe temperate and easy in private life , we should all shout in envy and hate. It is bitterly ironic that the anti-racist message has been reduced to this: You have all that you have only because you have white skin.

It is the cheapest form of racism, no subtlety at all … and it finds fullest expression in those academic institutions most attuned to any whiff of prejudice. Only in the very best universities would you ever be able to find so stupid a thought being given such frantic attention. And Orwell’s famous taunt about some ideas being so stupid only an intellectual would support them is sadly truer now, by far, than when he wrote them.

Rex Murphy: Check your bigotry

Which in turn, provoked a good debate, starting with Dawn Black in iPolitics (pay wall):

Asking people to check their privilege isn’t a matter of keeping certain voices out of the conversation – it’s about ensuring that all voices, especially those that have historically been kept silent, have the chance to be heard. It’s not about blaming white people for their achievements – it’s about knowing that we can’t end racism until we understand how and why it continues to exist. It’s not about humiliation – ultimately, it’s about empathy.

Social inequality is, unfortunately, a fact of life. Recognizing that inequality exists – and trying to find ways to eliminate it – is a fundamental part of responsible citizenship. Trying to shut down discussions of privilege won’t make that privilege disappear; it will only make inequality harder to fight.

Check your privilege, Canada:

And echoed by Deborah Douglass in the National Post:

Let’s be clear: To acknowledge the role of privilege does not negate the role of self-determination and personal responsibility. They are understood. Even I cringe at new speech-policing concepts such as trigger warnings, which are used to control speech on university campuses. And those on the losing end of privilege could stand to watch how they couch their argument when calling it out. Often, they, too, possess some form of privilege. I know I do. Sometimes people elevate their victimhood to suggest that’s the extent of their value and comes across as a form of emotional blackmail others cannot access.

The beautiful thing about being part of a democracy is the notion of perfecting it. The least we can do is to open our minds and hearts. That’s a nice way of saying that if you’re white or male or upper-middle class or athletic or skinny or good-looking or privileged in any way, you cannot go on assuming everything that comes to you belongs only to you, and that there’s something wrong with those who aren’t as privileged.

It is said that to whom much is given, much is required. That same famous source also cautions against suffering fools, which means challenging foolish notions and weeding out racism or sexism in all its nuanced and structural forms.

Weeding out racism

One of the issues Minister Kenney and his staff had with multiculturalism policy and G&C proposals was reference to “white power,” an essentially similar concept.

One can view ‘check your privilege’ as another way to slow down one’s thinking and assumptions, to shift from System 1 automatic to System 2 deliberative thinking, to use Kahneman’s phrase, to allow for more open-ended discussion. I think Douglass’ comments have it about right; Rex has remained within his System 1 “mental prison” to use a Gilles Paquet term.

Rex Murphy: It’s not Islamophobia to call a jihadist, a jihadist | Full Comment | National Post

Rex Murphy: It’s not Islamophobia to call a jihadist, a jihadist | Full Comment | National Post.