These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 18, 2014.
Friday, 18 April 2014
Time Marches On: Pathe Newsreel Of Iraq In The 1950s
Travelogue, propaganda piece, but still somethingof Iraqi reality -- before Islam came back, with a vengeance -- comes through. The flight of Baghdad's Jews, who in the 1920s constituted one-third of the population of Baghdad (and far more of its professional and intellectual class), is not mentioned.
Friday = Day of Rage. Good Friday = Day of Outrage
To Regent's Park where Anjem Choudary and his group Need 4 Khilafah were demonstrating, urging Muslims to rise up against the British anti-Muslim 'Crusade'. This was to be countered by the EDL.
When I got to the Mosque things were already in full swing. Need 4 Khilafah were outside the main entrance to the mosque; the EDL and other patriots including Britain First were contained on the opposite side of the road.
As Friday Jummah was over worshippers were pouring out of the Mosque and many stopped to watch. This is what they saw. And heard.
Offensive at the best of times; not really what I wanted to see on Good Friday.
What was noticable that although we are told that 'ordinary Muslims' and 'moderate Muslims' dislike Choudary and his merry men, none of them were tackling the group. Some were shouting 'Nazis' at the EDL. Others were filming and calling to their friends to take a look. But when the chants of "EDL, go to Hell", and "EDL, you will pay, the Muslims are on our way", changed to the war chants of Allah Akbar, Takfee! etc, they all joined in.
The small children on their father's shoulders were sweet, but some boys of about 10 will be a big problem within a year or 18 months.
Young men gave out information sheets about the terrible British Crusade against them. Apparently it is our fault that the Muslim population in Prison is so high. I thought it was the jihad inspired crime wave. Silly me. We are also to blame for conspiring with our stooge Mustapha Kemal Ataturk and engineering the demise of the last Caliphate in 1924.
"Whilst this crusade against Islam and Muslims takes place under our noses we cannot be passive bystanders".
Choudary's sidekick Abu Izzadeen (real name not so clever Trevor Brooks of Hackney) and a few henchmen managed to cross the road to get nearer to the EDL enclosure.
The police were managing to keep one lane of traffic moving at a time. The drivers held up by the protestors/bystanders (and some observers) milling across the road were not happy.
I thought this was an excellent poster - it says it all!
The police decided to move the EDL and Britain First down Park Road away from the Mosque
Some of the masked henchmen (henchboys? That doesn't sound right, but they were not what I grew up thinking of as men) decided to follow the procession. I dislike seeing masked men and women walking the streets.
Paul Golding of Britain First and some companions were travelling by car. There was an altercation at the traffic lights, which turned into fisticuffs.
Which the police dealt with by tackling the miscreants, unmasking them, and I believe they were arrested.
Nobody from the EDL was arrested and they dispursed into the underground system.
I don't know what time Need 4 Khilipha went home to MAMA.
What the swan has been to French literature, and the swan and the nightingale and the lark to English literature, lastochka, the swallow has been to Russian literature. Derzhavin, Fet, Maikov, Khodasevich ("Lastochki") all have poems about swallows. And in Nabokov's "The Gift" Fyodor Godunov-Cherdyntsev composes a short poem ("One night on the old bridge"), in which the speaker asks the girl standing beside him on the bridge if she too saw' "von etu lastochku" which Nabokov englished as "that particular swift that went by."(because the swift is close, though not identical, to the swallow, and the line required a monosyllable).
Click on the link again. Take another look .It's a city swallow, not a barn swallow. But with all this blu dipinto di blu nobody's standing on that Linnean ceremony.
The self-satisfaction and self-delusion of our billionaires, including the bejeaned philosopher-kings of Silicon Valley, those through whose bucolic company-campuses the employees are encouraged to coast on roller-skates, must be pricked and the air let out.
Houghton Mifflin World History: Patterns of Interaction
Last Friday in Tallahassee, April 11, 2014, the Republican controlled Florida Senate passed SB864 sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) by a narrow vote of 21 to 19. The measure would eliminate State Department of Education control over selection of textbooks returning that role to Florida’s 67 school districts, requiring open public hearing on texts used in courses. The bill reflected in part concerns of conservative Groups over the Common Core Curriculum State Standards, sponsored by the National Association of Governors and Council of Chief State School Officers seeking to impose national standards. Despite that criticism the Common Core has been adopted in Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).
However, SB864 was largely prompted by a different issue; objections of parental groups in several Florida counties in about the treatment of Islam and Muslim culture in world history textbooks on the Florida State Department of Education list of approved texts. A companion bill (HB 921) is working its way through the Florida House sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton. That version would provide a local option to districts to review texts; however, the selections must still meet state standards. Gaetz was quoted in a News Herald editorial saying: “I think there’s an increasing frustration by parents in our state, that they don’t have a lot of say regarding the content and materials their children use in the classroom.”
Local advocates here in Florida drew attention to misrepresentations of Islam in protests in Volusia, Brevard and Sarasota Counties. Our Iconoclast post on the subject, “Sarasota, Florida’s biased Islam textbook problem”, highlighted the relentless efforts of citizen activist Aya Sewell. Ms. Sewell is of Iraqi Jewish heritage, members of her family were subject to a 1941 pogrom against the Jewish population in Baghdad, the Farhud. Sewell led a campaign against such texts locally in Sarasota, as well as before the Florida Department of Education. Elsewhere in the US, Tennessee parents have also raised objections to similar course material extolling Palestinian suicide bombers. Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) in Boston accused the Newton, Massachusetts school board and superintendent for permitting use of texts and course materials that engage in promoting false information regarding both Islam and demonization of Israel. APT undertook content and bias analysis and promoted their findings that included placing ads in local area media and a petition campaign.
An article in the current edition of Education Week noted the debate over the pending Florida textbook legislation:
[Sen. ]Hays said the legislation was needed so that school board members will be accountable to parents and voters. He said school board members have blamed the state for the textbooks they picked.
"This bill imposes on the local school board members the responsibility and accountability to their citizens," Hays said.
Opponents complained it would cost districts money to review textbooks. Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said she was worried that some districts would wind up censoring some books, while other senators raised questions about whether districts would pick textbooks aligned to the state's current standards.
Even Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart questioned Hays' bill.
"From a practical standpoint it lifts a burden from us," Stewart said. "But we heard loud and clear from districts that they rely on (the state review). They need that. They don't have the resources to be able to do that."
Following the Florida Senate vote on SB864, CAIR-Florida unleashed an ad hominem campaign against Sen. Hays. CAIR undertook an Action Campaign sending Florida Legislators an inflammatory Daily Beast opinion column by Dean Obeidallah, that headlined, “Islamophobic Florida Republican Would Legalize Textbook Censorship”. Obeidallah (which means “little servant of God in Arabic”) is a former lawyer, self-styled Arab American standup comic, son of a Palestinian father and mother of Sicilian ancestry who grew up in Paramus, New Jersey. Self proclaimed Muslim Obeidallah has been involved in several controversial issues including an apology to the Romney family. CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group, was listed as one of several unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation Trial involving funneling tens of millions to Hamas, an MB affiliate.
This latest action by CAIR-Florida followed earlier criticism of SB386, also sponsored by Sen. Hays, on the acceptance of foreign laws in certain cases by Florida’ s court system as “bullying legislation against Muslims and other minorities”. Both SB386 and companion house version (HB903) are currently pending floor votes in both the Senate and House prior to the end of the 2014 Legislative session on May 2nd in Tallahassee.
To illustrate the concerns of Floridians that prompted Sen. Hays and Rep. Gaetz to sponsor SB864 and HB 921, we investigated an assessment performed by Jacksonville-based Verity Educate (VE) of one the texts on the approved list of the Florida State Department of Education. It was Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Holt McDougal high school text book called World History: Patterns of Interaction. VE is a non-partisan, independent organization that uses scholars to examine and provide thorough reports on content accuracy and objectivity in textbooks and curricular material. VE has performed such assessments at the request of parental groups in Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas.
A letter we requested from the executive director of VE, Dr. Ellen R. Wald, noted the scope of their investigation of the Houghton Mifflin high school text book:
Verify Educate examined the 2012 Tennessee edition of World History: Patterns of Intercation. Verify Educate's analysis concerned only the sections of the book dealing with the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as other related topics, including certain events in India, Spain, the United States, and the region around the Black Sea. This was done at the request of parents who specifically felt that their backgrounds were insufficient to examine these topics.
VE’s findings from its analysis are:
The reviewed sections of this textbook exhibit regular flaws of factual inaccuracy, dishonesty, and bias. The primary concern with this textbook is the desire to make arguments and instill opinions in the students. These arguments come at the expense of instilling a fluency in the material (a knowledge of the language and facts). An additional effect of the focus on arguments is the lost opportunity for students to practice and develop critical thinking skills.
The most prevalent flaws in this textbook include the following:
• The text presents religious texts and tradition as historical evidence even absent independent corroboration. The text regularly uses the Koran and other religious writings to relate events as history and fails to mention when no independent corroboration from sources outside the religion exists. In most cases the text fails to differentiate between history and religious tradition.
• The text portrays religion as the defining characteristic of the Middle East and Central Asia throughout history, such that essentially all accomplishments and events are based on religion. Among the detrimental effects of this argument are lost opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking, distorted views of history, and the denigration of the inhabitants of this region. Limiting the basis for the history of the Middle East and Central Asia to a narrow focus on religion disparages and demeans the people, politics, geography, and historical events that occurred, particularly when religion is not highlighted in other regions.
• The text repeatedly asserts that the religion of Islam dictates “tolerance” of nonMuslims and that Muslim rulers have historically practiced “tolerance” towards the non-Muslim populations under their rule. This argument is promoted at the expense of examining historical facts honestly and fostering critical thinking. Students are presented with a conclusion and historical facts are often manipulated or stripped of nuance to convince students, even in cases when this conclusion is false. The focus on religious “tolerance” is unique to the sections of the text discussing Islam, and it borders on obsession and bias.
• The text depicts the depth and breadth of “Muslim contributions” as unique in history and as the result of Islam. In this regard, the text consistently attributes the successes of diverse societies to religion alone, even when these societies are geographically dispersed and chronologically distant. For example, the text connects the mathematical advances of a 9th century Spanish mathematician to the architectural exploits of a 17th century Mughal emperor in India based solely on their religion. The diverse Muslim populations over a 1500-year period do not constitute one society. In addition, the attention devoted to “Muslim contributions” far surpasses the attention given to any other society’s accomplishments.
That leads to the question of who wrote such misleading entries about Islam that the VE analysis uncovered in the Houghton Mifflin publication.
One of those groups relied on by major textbook publishers is the Council on Islamic Education known as the Institute on Religious and Civic Values (IRCV). Its founder, Shabbir Mansuri, is listed as an academic reviewer on a textbook used in Brevard County.
In 2001 the OC Weekly newspaper in California interviewed Mansuri about comments Lynne Cheney made lamenting the amount of time schools were spending teaching cultures that were not American. Mansuri took her comments as a personal attack.
“For the past 11 years, Mansuri has waged what he calls a ‘bloodless’ revolution: promoting an increased emphasis on world cultures and faiths – including Islam – inside American junior high and high school campuses,” the newspaper reported.
The IRCV had Saudi funding to pay Muslim scholars writing those chapters in the Prentice Hall, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and other world history text books.
Back in 2002, this writer ran interference for the American Jewish Committee chapter in Connecticut in an episode involving federal funding of a Da’wa program on Islam run with Muslim instructors as a summer program for public high school teachers at a state university. During that episode we made the acquaintance of Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institute at the time on this issue. Kurtz wrote a series of investigative articles for the NRO about the Title VI USDOE Higher Education Act grants for Middle East Studies programs dominated by Islam and Palestinian apologists. Universities, as Kurtz pointed out who benefitted from US Higher Education Act Title VI grants were engaged in preparation of work books for teachers in K-12 that engaged in role playing for fourth graders costumed as Arabs.
That effort led us to the forensic reviews –Islam in the Classroom – conducted by Dr. Gilbert T. Sewall of the American Textbook Council (ATC) on world history texts produced by the four major US textbook publishers. Sewall found those treatments biased and in some cases prepared by the Saudi-financed and California based IRVC. We later found out that effort had begun in the “image studies” funded by American oil partners of ARAMCO in the early 1970’s objected to in the mid 1980’s by a study conducted by a school district in Tucson, Arizona. The latest edition of the continuing ATC review of Islam in the Classroom What the Texts Tell us by Dr. Sewall was published in 2008. Its conclusions corroborate the findings of Dr. Wald’s analysis in the VE report. To wit:
Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and conflicted view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.
• Misinformation about Islam is more pronounced in junior high school textbooks than high school textbooks.
• Outright textbook errors about Islam are not the main problem. The more serious failure is the presence of disputed definitions and claims that are presented as established facts.
• Deficiencies about Islam in textbooks copyrighted before 2001 persist and in some cases have grown worse. Instead of making corrections or adjusting contested facts, publishers and editors defend misinformation and content evasions against the record. Biases persist. Silences are profound and intentional.
• Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially those on campus, to advance and justify the makeover of Islam-related textbook content.
• Particular fault rests with the publishing corporations, boards of directors, and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue.
Publishers have developed new world and U.S. history textbooks at three different grade levels. Errors about Islam that occurred in older textbooks have not been corrected but reiterated. Publishers have learned of contested facts and have had the time to correct imbalances. But instead of making changes, they have sustained errors or, in deliberate acts of self censorship, have removed controversial material.
In an interview, Dr. Wald of VE analyzed the effects of Florida Senate Bill SB864 :
While SB864 leaves all of the Florida state standards intact, and even highlights further standards to ensure fairness to all ethnic, religious, and diversity groups, the bill provides for parents and communities to have a greater say in the local education system. Given that the standards are maintained, I can't see how this bill could engender any more censorship than would come out of the current state review process. In fact, the bill has the potential to severely decrease censorship. Whereas now the state board can reject material for the entire state, under this bill, each community would make its own decision, and a rejection would only impact that community.
We commend Florida Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Matt Gaetz for their sponsorship of SB864 and HB 921. Given the analyses of Drs. Wald of Verity Educate and Dr. Sewall of American Textbook Council Florida may lead the nation to reign in the misleading depiction of Islam in World History texts. By devolving reviews of leading publishers to local school districts in the Sunshine State that may allow concerned parents to sponsors such studies forcing publishers to finally correct errors of both omission and commission. We look forward to the reconciliation of the Senate and House versions leading to passage and ultimate enactment into law.
While casting about to find something to write about apart from another lamentation over the weakness of most Western political leadership, the collapse of fiscal integrity in all but a few countries, the charade of Iranian nuclear discussions, and the decline and fall of practically everybody, my thoughts alit on Herbert the Raccoon, as my wife christened him, who has largely been living in a little half-moon balcony adjacent to my wife’s third-floor dressing room. In the cold snap in March, my wife put a heater up against the window and Herbert gratefully attached himself like a limpet to the window, turning about every hour to give the benefit of the heat to his other side. A young raccoon, Herbert was just big enough to reach the ledge on the balcony with his front paws and peer out over the view of several miles, his little pointy ears confidently breaking the horizon when we looked out the window from behind him, within the house. His dark, ringed eyes surveyed the scene with the worldly detachment of Jacques Cartier grasping the immense proportions of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence nearly 500 years ago, and famously concluding (rather negatively, as it turned out) that “it is the land God gave to Cain.”
This house is set on a relatively large urban property in Toronto, bordered along one side by a ravine, and we have an unusually high incidence of wildlife, including foxes, deer, skunks, possum, and feral cats. My wife’s two magnificent Hungarian Kuvaszok, white dogs of over 100 pounds that are devoted to their owners but skeptical about everyone else, generally keep the non-domestic animals at a distance, except for the skunks, of course, who go where they please. But last year, a feral kitten fell down a runoff pipe beside the house, and the constant meowing of the kitten, and its sibling at the top of the pipe, eventually alerted us to their presence. To the distant pleasure of their brave and resourceful mother, gardeners dug up the pipe, opened it, and the kittens were conveyed to the veterinarian like two matched Infants of Prague. They returned after a few days in cracking health and undiminished voice and rule the housekeeper’s attached home with the feline assurance of the MGM lion, princes of beasts, and are even deferred to by my wife’s dogs, who are very proprietary with everyone else.
We were somewhat complacently contemplating our status as helpers to nature’s tenacity of life, when the head of the work crew that has been repairing water damage under the copper roof on a pavilion of this house advised that a raccoon and her newborn cub were at the center of the work site, nestled snugly in the newly deployed insulation (cleverly adapted to the requirements of maternity). We all traipsed up the steps to take a view, and only a heart of stone would not have been touched by the sight: Herbert, it emerged, was Henrietta, and her cub was too little to walk or open its eyes, and its mother kept one paw on it at all times, stroking reassuringly. Once again, severe options were out of the question, and Google gave us a crash course on what to expect. As in the affair with the kittens, the local animal-rescue people were utterly hopeless. A year ago, they advised us to starve the kittens to death in the pipe; now, they told us that a mother and her cub could not be moved and there was nothing for it but to concede to the squatters and turn the work site into a veterinary maternity ward for up to eight weeks.
More ingenious heads, especially Henrietta’s, prevailed. As the housekeeper, the felines’ friend, arrived, with a cage trap in one hand and the familiar thick (dental-resistant) gloves in the other, Henrietta conducted an exploration prompted by the workmen’s use of the microwave. The foreman gently removed the cub to a warm, grassy place within an adjacent walled garden. This was the moment of truth, as there is apparently some chance of a mother raccoon’s abandoning a cub who has been handled at all at a young age by a human. But Henrietta, walking with authority despite her youth and fatigue after what must have been a very enervating act of birth, appeared and was seen by my wife scampering at speed with her cub in her mouth to the comparatively under-populated orchard. It too is fenced, as this entire property is zoned into areas so we can rotate the dogs and gardeners around without the dogs’ chasing the gardeners up the trees and forcing them to call for help with their cellphones. There are also the foibles of neighbors to be considered, as some of them are hostile to dogs and manifest this in unseemly ways designed, successfully, to rouse these essentially friendly if protective dogs to simulate the Hound of the Baskervilles and other legendarily terrifying canines. So other fenced areas can provide buffer zones, cordons sanitaires, with neighbors. Henrietta puzzled the system out with great acuity, and she moves between zones with her little passenger; she sometimes returns, when the coast is clear, to the two warmer places, in the roof and on the balcony, that, by her talents as an explorer, she discovered for herself. There have now been enough sightings for me tentatively to claim victory in this little drama for the party of life.
I cannot claim that the point to this mundane story is obvious, yet it all seems reassuring to me — reassuring because everyone, including the workmen, had the same instinct that we must help young life, even though raccoons are at times notoriously irritating animals. And reassuring also because after such a severe winter, the rites of spring have begun, and however challenged and apparently stifled, life always has what it must to go on. Despite the banality of the thought, we have all found it uplifting to see this small confirmation that despite every natural and human challenge and unkindness, life has waged a battle that it has never lost. I should probably apologize for this platitudinous little yarn, but I will not — I have reviewed what other columnists and bloggers have written in the last few days on the more frequent current political and economic personalities and subjects, and Henrietta and her cub are more interesting and more admirable. We would rather have them sheltering in or near our house than almost any contemporary political leader I can think of.