Monday, July 19, 2010

The Witch Finder's Almanac, 2010

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Witch hunters are busy in Africa. Their prey: children.

From the BBC: "An increasing number of children are being accused of witchcraft in parts of Africa, the UN children's agency says.
A new Unicef report warns that children accused of being witches - some as young as eight - have been been burned, beaten and even killed as punishment. The belief that a child could be a witch is a relatively modern development, researchers say. Until 10-20 years ago, it was women and the elderly who tended to be accused. …

The agency said there was little it could do about the belief in witchcraft itself, and that it was not trying to eradicate the practice.
Well, thank goodness for that! Can't have outsiders interfering with tribal customs! That would bring to mind the horrors of imperialism.
But it said violence against children was wrong, and that it would do everything it could to stop it.
How sensitive. Africans who accuse people of witchcraft, well, that's their tradition, who are we to say, impose our value judgments, etc., etc. But anybody who'd accuse a child of being a witch might spank a child as well. It's a slippery slope.
Most of those accused of witchcraft are boys aged between eight to 14 - who often end up being attacked, tortured and sometimes killed. Also, children have had petrol poured into their eyes or ears as a way of trying to exorcise "evil spirits" that healers believe have possessed them.
Meanwhile, the Tea Party — Tea Partyers? I'm never sure how to refer to them — have entered the exorcism contest.
Tea Party federation expels group over racial writing

WASHINGTON — The Tea Party political movement saw a major split over the weekend, with the National Tea Party Federation expelling a member group after its spokesman wrote an online post satirizing a fictional letter from what he called "Colored People" to President Abraham Lincoln.

On its website, the federation stated it had given the Tea Party Express, through direct contact with one of its leaders, a deadline to rebuke and remove spokesman Mark Williams.

"That leader's response was clear: they have no intention of taking the action we required for their group to continue as a member of the National Tea Party Federation," the federation stated. Therefore, effective immediately the National Tea Party Federation is expelling Tea Party Express from the ranks of our membership."

National Tea Party Federation? Tea Party Express?
Williams, who said his letter was satirical, started it like this: "Dear Mr. Lincoln, We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"
I am not about to defend this. It's crude and doesn't even work as satire. Williams may have some kind of point, but if so, this is no way to express it.

However, it is distressing that the Tea Party Federation has reacted by excommunicating him and his group. It is distressing, in fact, that there is a "National Tea Party Federation." The Tea Party was supposed to be a true grassroots phenomenon, determined to avoid the perils of "leaders" and sectarianism. Its strength was to be decentralization.

I've been cautiously — very cautiously — optimistic about the Tea Party movement. Cautious because to do any good it would have to get past two great pitfalls.

The first was being co-opted by the Republican Party's Old Guard who would adopt some of the language of the Tea Party to reel in their votes. So far that doesn't seem to have happened, and I'm impressed by the good sense the rebels have shown.

The second danger was exactly what does seem to be happening: going defensive at the inevitable accusations of racism, the R-bomb the Left releases (usually with devastating effect) on its opponents as a matter of routine. The Tea Partyers should have seen this coming and had a counter-strategy: simple denial. Instead, they have put themselves on trial.

It's the same old surrender that has dogged American conservatism for years: trying to fight the corrupt and ruthless Left while accepting the Left's categories. NAACP says you've racism in your ranks? Quick, crank up the show trials! Start the purges! Expel the deviationists. Down with the Tea Party Trotskyists.

This "national federation" seems to believe there's little it can do about the belief in its racism, and is not trying to eradicate the practice. But it will protect its children who cannot stand up to bullying.

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July 20: What did I tell you?

The National Tea Party Federation didn't buy itself any goodwill by kicking out this Williams dimwit. According to Eugene Robinson, writing in the supposedly conservative Real Clear Politics:

WASHINGTON -- That was quick. We now have proof the NAACP was right.

When the nation's leading civil rights organization passed a resolution condemning displays of racism by tea party activists, leaders of the movement reacted with umbrage so thick you could cut it with a knife -- then demonstrated that the NAACP's allegation was entirely justified.

The Tea Partyers have now scored a big goal — against themselves. How many more anathemas will be pronounced against people in the movement who don't follow the political correctness style book? How many Tea Party "leaders" will take it on themselves to kneel in the snow outside NAACP headquarters or Jesse Jackson's office to plead forgiveness?

There should be no central Tea Party Politburo deciding who is and isn't on the team. The response to any racial Mafia that questions the Tea Party's bona fides should be, "This is a movement composed of individuals. We understand that the concept of individuals is puzzling to you, since you believe in group rights and authoritarian organization. However, people in our corner speak for themselves. We don't tell anyone what they can and can't say. If individuals offend you or anyone, that's their own problem, or maybe you have a problem. Now back off."

The National Tea Party Federation (whatever that is) has swallowed the bait and taken a no-win position. I'm ashamed of them. Many Tea Partyers are good people who want to restore a constitutional republic in this country, but it seems they now have self-appointed leaders subverting them. That's the trouble with "leaders."

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10 comments:

Sandy said...

I've been called a witch by a Nigerian man that I work with. He gets away with calling me that, but for some reason I get in trouble every time I refer to him as a superstitious @sshole. I've even been asked not to look him directly in the eye because it is inappropriate for a woman to do so in his culture. My response has been that in my culture you can't trust someone who won't look you in the eye.

I don't like fighting with anyone, but if I didn't fight back, this guy would have me dressed in a burka.

Rick Darby said...

Sandy,

Do you think that people sense you have had unusual psychic experiences?

Sandy said...

Rick,

In this case the guy didn't have to sense anything. When we were arguing his laptop shut down and the florescent light above my head started to flicker.

But yeah, some people are uncomfortable around me and I would guess that somehow they do know I'm a bit different. Some people like being around me for the same reason. And for whatever reason, total strangers will often come up and tell me about paranormal experiences they have had.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, if your coworker is "uncomfortable" with America and American culture and prefers his own, the answer to his problem is achingly obvious: go home.

Thanks for relating your experience (the kind of experience no American in America should have to endure).

-Jas

Rick Darby said...

Jas,

Sandy is Canadian. But your comment still applies.

Sandy said...

Jas,

I've always liked the Canadian ideal of multiculturalism. But embracing the many cultures that contribute to Canadian society should not include tolerating behaviors that harm others. Discrimination and subjugation of woman has no place in modern society anywhere in the world.

Sadly, I see the tolerant attitude of Canadian society being used by bad people for bad means. The Nigerian man I work with came to Canada to get citizenship so that he could leave the country and travel throughout the middle east with the protection of a Canadian passport. He is currently trying to get work in Saudi Arabia.

This man was never interested in being Canadian. Hates the climate. Doesn't like the culture. But he wants the passport. I wish our government would do something about such people. They threaten the security of all nations.

Rick Darby said...

Sandy,

Americans like to say that Canada has no national identity, but that is only partly true, and it wasn't true at all until the past half century. Canada was traditionally Scottish/English and French, and in both cases, proud of their heritage.

Unfortunately, the tension between Anglophone and Francophone regions made British Canada suspicious of its tradition. Keeping Quebec in Canada (why?) led to the effacement of Britishness and today's "Bonjour/Hello" culture. Associating nationhood with strife, Canada tried to make itself a blank slate that immigrants from anywhere in the world could write on.

Canada's "we are the world" openness and decency are admirable but naive. When you say come one, come all, a not insignificant proportion of arrivals will be people who don't like it where they are and come to Canada just to game the system and take advantage of your country's generosity.

You could say, "We should only accept immigrants who believe in our values," but in the Leftist Establishment that is an absolute no-no: it's discrimination! And to liberals, any kind of discrimination for any reason is the greatest sin.

The left-wing governments in power in every Western country (the U.S. included) understand that most of their citizens don't want multi-culturalism, and so it must be forced on them, with reverse discrimination against indigenous people to clinch the deal.

In the long run, I don't think a balkanized Canada (any more than a balkanized U.S.) can work as anything more than a centralized state bureaucracy that deals political patronage to various ethnic groups and demonizes any opposition to multi-culturalism, as in the recent ordeal of Mark Steyn and his colleagues.

Sandy said...

Rick,

I've lived both in Canada and the States, and I don't think I understood just how different Canadians are from Americans until I lived outside of Canada.

I don't think placing value on a variety of cultural traditions is such a bad thing. Not one of my grandparents spoke the same first language, but somehow they overcame their differences to create my family heritage. Bagpipes, perogies, cabbage rolls, shortbread cookies, and sucre a la creme all have a place in my family traditions.

I think that problems arise when people equate genetics with culture. As an English girl married to a Francophone I was shocked at the discrimination towards such "mixed couples" in Quebec. We actually had trouble getting hotel rooms if I forgot myself and used English. It wasn't something I ever expected to happen, but my then-husband said it was commonplace. He told me that by marrying a non-Catholic Anglophone, he was a traitor to his race. Until then I had no idea that French was a race and not a language. Because for me, English is just a language I prefer to use.

Genetics do not define culture. Neither does language. There are valuable things we can learn from new immigrants. But they need to learn things from us as well. I don't like seeing women in burkas, for instance. Every woman I have every asked why she wears one has told me, in private, that she has to because her family would disown her and possibly even harm her if she didn't. That's oppression, not culture.

I think Canadians sometimes worry about being eclipsed by the US, but we have our differences. I like universal health care. I think gay marriage should be legal and abortion should be a woman's choice. I like feeling safe in my country. (I'm probably not any safer here than when I lived in the US, but in the US people kept telling me how unsafe the world was.) I find living here is much more laid back.

And no offense, but the beer here is so much better than what you guys have!

Rick Darby said...

Sandy,

I feel somewhat different. Genetics and language influence culture very strongly. People are not just standardized parts that can be plugged in anywhere, like light bulbs.

Our mass market beers like Budweiser aren't anything to brag about, but neither is Molson's. We have micro-breweries that turn out distinguished beers, as I'm sure Canada has also.

Anonymous said...

Sandy,
Please excuse my assumption about your nationality. And at the risk of seeming all-too "Amero-centric," may I invite you to try an Anchor Steam Beer some time?
;-)

But seriously, here's an article that at least tangentially relates to the topic here:
http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/07/the_modern_state_against_the_c.html

Regards,
-Jas