Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cruising the Web

The Guardian speculates on how victory against ISIS could lead to even more terror attacks.
Conventional troops might be able to dislodge the group from Raqqa within weeks, but even taking the de facto Isis “capital” would not end the threat it currently poses to Europe.

The collapse of the statelet would not destroy the group’s ideology or shatter its cells of fighters. Still filled with deadly intent, but shorn of its state and the mundane security jobs it provided on the frontline, at checkpoints or on guard duty, Isis might become even more dangerous to western nations.

“Isis has an apocalyptic world view, and such organisations can become even more violent when their prophetic expectations are disappointed,” said Berger. “Fighting an insurgency requires a lot more people than terrorism does. If the Isis state falls, especially to an outside invasion force, the short- to medium-term result will likely be a massive wave of terrorist attacks.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islam who has literally risked her life to expose how Islam treats women, has some harsh words for feminists.
“That’s what feminists used to fight for — the access for girls to education,” Hirsi Ali said. “They used to fight for the recognition of girls as fellow human beings and recognition of their personal liberty.”

She spoke of growing up in Somalia, where women aren’t allowed to leave the house without asking permission from a male guardian and need to be accompanied by a male guardian.

“If something wrong were to happen to me, and where I come from that happened all the time — you were groped, you were harassed, you were raped — you had no recourse because you weren’t supposed to be where you were,” Hirsi Ali said. “You were married off as a child and you had to obey the person that you were married to, it was just your luck.”

“Feminists in this country and in the West fought against that and won the battle,” she added.

But now, Hirsi Ali said, feminism has taken that victory and squandered it.

“What we are now doing with the victory, and I agree with you if you condemn that and I condemn whole-heartedly the trivial bulls*** is to go after a man who makes a scientific breakthrough and all that we as women — organized women — do is to fret about his shirt?” Hirsi Ali said, referring to the controversy generated by the shirt featuring cartoons of scantily-clad women worn by the scientist who helped land a robot on a comet. “We must reclaim and retake feminism from our fellow idiotic women.”

But, Hirsi Ali said, we should not throw away feminism, because that would be like throwing away the civil rights movement. Instead, feminism needs to fight the real war on women: Radical Islam and other parts of the world where women don’t even have the right to an education or to leave their home without a male guardian.

Here's a discouraging report about our fight against ISIS.
American forces made one of their most effective hits against the Islamic State on Nov. 15, when U.S. planes destroyed 116 tanker trucks used by the terrorist organization to transport the stolen oil that is its financial lifeblood.

American A-10 and C-130 warplanes targeted a group of about 300 trucks near Abu Kamal, in Syria. Given that the Islamic State is thought to have just over 1,000 trucks in its entire fleet, the group of 300 represented a huge target for U.S. planes.

At a Pentagon news conference last Wednesday, reporters wanted to know why American forces did not take out more than 116 trucks. Why not all 300, or something close to that? A U.S. official said the American attackers simply ran out of ammunition.

"There were 300, I think, to begin with, and then you hit 116. Why didn't you go back?" a reporter asked Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren.

"Frankly, the aircraft expended 24 500-pound bombs, and all of their ammunition," Warren answered. "So they — they shot everything they had and then they had to go home."

Journalists had another question: If oil is vitally important to the Islamic State, why didn't the U.S. hit the tanker trucks long ago, given that the American anti-ISIS operation began in September 2014?

"If it's so important to cut off the oil shipments, the critical revenue source for ISIS, why did it take so long to take out 116 oil tanker trucks?" a reporter asked.

Warren explained that American officials were deeply worried about harming the truck drivers, who were working for the Islamic State but might not be ISIS themselves. U.S. officials settled on a plan to drop leaflets on the trucks about 45 minutes before the raid, warning the drivers that an attack was coming, while U.S. pilots flew low passes over the area. Planning all that took time.
So, after lots of delay, they had the 300 ISIS trucks all in one place just sitting there in the desert. But they only went in with enough ammunition to destroy 116 trucks and left behind 184 trucks.

Kevin Williamson thinks that we have a very shaky and rotten sense of who elites are in this country.
Pat Buchanan, who practically grew up on Air Force One and hasn’t had an unpublished thought in 40 years, complains that “Republican party elites” are being beastly to that nice man Donald Trump. “There is a plot afoot in the Washington Post Conservative Club to purge Trump from the Republican Party before the primaries begin,” he wrote over the summer. In case you’re wondering, “Washington Post Conservative Club” means “George Will.” Will is something of a hate object for the populist Right at the moment, having had the bad taste to suggest that Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Reagan is a poor piece of work. “You’re a hack!” O’Reilly raged. O’Reilly, who attended private schools, holds a graduate degree from Harvard, and is paid $20 million a year to read aloud to his audience on Fox News, dismissed Will as an “elitist.”

Perhaps “elitist” now simply means “Burn the Witch!” It is indeed difficult to think of a definition of “elite” that excludes Pat Buchanan, once a president’s right hand and still an enormously influential voice in public affairs, or Bill O’Reilly, the most prominent face of the country’s most successful cable news network. Sometimes “elite” means a person with ties to the formal leadership of the Republican party or to organs of government, which again would include Buchanan, a former Nixon aide, and any number of professedly anti-elitist tea-party veterans who are actual senators, representatives, and governors. Ted Cruz boasts that “Washington elites despise me,” which is awfully buttery rhetoric for a man who is, after all, a United States senator — one who very well may be the next president of these United States. If the Senate isn’t the establishment, there is no establishment.

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PJ Media reports on something from Ted Cruz's personal biography I hadn't known about - his time working at the FTC as the director of Policy Planning.
At the FTC, Cruz’s agenda could have been written by Milton Friedman.

Cruz promoted economic liberty and fought government efforts to rig the marketplace in favor of special interests. Most notably, Cruz launched an initiative to study the government’s role in conspiring with established businesses to suppress e-commerce. This initiative ultimately led the U.S. Supreme Court to open up an entire industry to small e-tailers. Based on his early support of disruptive online companies, Cruz has some grounds to call himself the “Uber of American politics.”

Moreover, and perhaps surprising to some, Cruz sought and secured a broad, bipartisan consensus for his agenda. Almost all of Cruz’s initiatives received unanimous support among both Republicans and Democrats.

Ted Cruz a consensus-builder? He was, at the FTC.
Interesting. Read the rest.

Politico reports that more and more Republicans are seeing the contest in Iowa coming down to one between Cruz and Rubio. There is the assumption/hope that Trump is going to eventually fade. Then it will become a battle between Cruz's support among evangelicals and Rubio's efforts to attract the rest of GOP voters while trying to peel away some of those Christian conservatives.

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This is a poll result of the opinions of Syrian refugees about ISIS that will surprise all those who see them as fleeing ISIS.
The poll shows thirteen percent of Syrian refugees have a completely positive opinion of ISIS with another ten percent having mixed feelings on the terror group, suggesting that nearly one quarter are open to recruitment by ISIS.
Clearly, hatred and fear of ISIS would not be what was motivating their fleeing Syria. That would be in accord with the argument that many have made that the people flooding into Europe are going there for economic reasons rather than fear of Isis. Given that there is no screening that our intelligence sources could do to tell us what people believe in their hearts, there is even more reason to be wary about bringing in people from the entire region.

Marc Thiessen reminds us of how Bill Clinton handled a refugee problem even when there was no corresponding fear of terrorism. Hillary tells us that it would not be the American way to slam "the door on refugees."
Funny, because when her husband was president, he “slammed the door” on refugees — the cell door at Guantanamo Bay.

In the early 1990s, tens of thousands of refugees fled Haiti and sought refuge in the United States following the military coup that overthrew President Jean Bertrand Aristide. They did not include Islamist terrorists, but many posed another perceived threat: They had HIV. Instead of admitting them into the United States, President Bill Clinton ordered the Haitian refugees be held at Guantanamo, and then repatriated back to Haiti.

During the 1992 election Clinton criticized President George H.W. Bush’s practice of repatriating Haitian refugees as “cruel” and “immoral,” and promised to end the practice. But after winning the presidency, Clinton reversed course, and tried to stop the Haitian exodus by declaring that the refugees would be intercepted and sent back to Haiti. It didn’t work, and eventually he decided to house tens of thousands of Haitian refugees in Guantanamo. A federal judge declared Clinton’s policy of detaining refugees at Gitmo “outrageous, callous and reprehensible” and criticized him for inflicting on the Haitians “the kind of indefinite detention usually reserved for spies and murderers.” After an American-led force restored President Aristide to power in 1994, the Clinton administration told the remaining refugees they had to return home, declaring: “Under no circumstances will any Haitian currently in Guantanamo be admitted to the United States.”

Did Bill Clinton “betray our values” in refusing to admit these refugees?
We know that there are security concerns about the Syrian refugees because Obama administration officials have testified to Congress that they can't fully vet these refugees. And who knows how many of them actually support ISIS. The poll results are not encouraging.
These are serious security issues. But instead of working with Republicans to resolve them, and finding a bipartisan way forward to help the refugees, President Obama is politicizing the issue — and Hillary Clinton is joining the political bandwagon. She ought to be careful. It’s tricky claiming the moral high ground on refugees when President Clinton’s preferred solution was to send them to Guantanamo Bay.
We'll see if anyone in the media questions Hillary about her husband's choices.

Ramesh Ponnuru ponders the inability of Democrats to acknowledge that terrorist attacks have anything at all to do with Islam.
John Kerry, Clinton's successor as secretary of state, said a few days before her speech that the Islamic State's barbarism "has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism -- I mean, you name it."

Nothing to do with Islam? Does anyone think we're going to find professed atheists among these psychopaths? Kerry obviously wanted to condemn Islamic State and its allies while not lumping in most Muslims with them. He could have simply noted that most Muslims reject terrorism, that many call it a perversion of Islam, and that he hopes this view prevails among more and more of them. Unlike what he actually said, none of that would have been absurd....

At the most recent Democratic debate, Clinton condemned "radical jihadist ideology" in her opening statement. She used versions of "jihad" five other times that night. Everyone knows the religion with which jihad is associated. She didn't call it a "radical Crusaderist ideology." She's talking about a subset of Muslims, just as the Republicans who talk about "radical Islamic terrorists" are.

If using the word "Islam" in the vicinity of "terrorism" is a bad idea, then so is using the word "jihadism" to mean, well, Islamic terrorism. So it isn't surprising that the J-word has run into the same criticism. In 2009, John Brennan, then an adviser to President Barack Obama and now head of the CIA, said that the administration disavowed the term "jihadism" for pretty much the same reasons Clinton dislikes "radical Islamic terrorism": It "risks giving these murderers the religious legitimacy they desperately seek" and "it risks reinforcing the idea that the United States is somehow at war with Islam itself."

All this tortured diction is pointless. We're at war with people who believe that Islam justifies mass murder. There's no way to conduct that war without giving some people the impression that we're at war with Islam, period.
There is a fearfulness of offending Muslims that seems to trump any other characterization of what we're facing.

Ken White writing at Popehat, has an excellent post about the liberal tropes in the media about free speech controversies.
But it's harder to detect the subtle pro-censorship assumptions and rhetorical devices that permeate media coverage of free speech controversies. In discussing our First Amendment rights, the media routinely begs the question — it adopts stock phrases and concepts that presume that censorship is desirable or constitutional, and then tries to pass the result off as neutral analysis. This promotes civic ignorance and empowers deliberate censors.

Fortunately, this ain't rocket science. Americans can train themselves to detect and question the media's pro-censorship tropes. I've collected some of the most pervasive and familiar ones. This post is designed as a resource, and I'll add to it as people point out more examples and more tropes.

When you see the media using these tropes, ask yourself: what normative message is the author advancing, and does it have any basis in law?
He examines talk about "hate speech" which is not an actual exemption to the First Amendment. Some advocates of censorship like to tell us that "not all speech is protected." That is certainly true, but the guidelines to when there are exceptions to the First Amendment are quite clear. All the additional exceptions that pro-censorship members of the media want to support don't have any basis in the history of Supreme Court rulings on free speech. Read the entire post; it is very educational on what the Supreme Court has actually said on the subject.

Glenn Reynolds rejects the President's attacks on Republicans as a failed attempt to hide Obama's own contributions to the refugee crisis.
And Democrats kind of sense this, too, as David Brooks noted on NPR: “For Democrats, I think there's a sense of responsibility here. You know, President Obama waxed self-righteous about the Republican bill and the Republican behavior, but he's made a series of cold and, to me, amoral decisions over the past five years to allow this genocide. And maybe they were the right decisions, but they were not moral decisions.”

Now that those decisions — along with the war on Libya, which toppled strongman Moammar Gadhafi and unleashed chaos in Libya and still more refugees on Europe — are bearing unfortunate fruit, Obama wants to talk about what big meanies the Republicans are.

But reality remains, no matter what you say about it, the same. And the reality is that Obama’s record in the Middle East has been one of unparalleled debacles, of which Syria and Islamic State are perhaps the worst. (How bad? So bad that Jimmy Carter is calling Obama feckless, noting that Obama “waited too long” to address ISIS and commenting that “I noticed that two of his secretaries of defense, after they got out of office, were very critical of the lack of positive action on the part of the president.” Indeed.)

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Nate Silver takes to his blog at 538 to give comfort to those of us fretting about Donald Trump's continued lead in the polls. Remember that polls are quite iffy. And most people haven't made up their minds.
If past nomination races are any guide, the vast majority of eventual Republican voters haven’t made up their minds yet.

It can be easy to forget it if you cover politics for a living, but most people aren’t paying all that much attention to the campaign right now. Certainly, voters are consuming some campaign-related news. Debate ratings are way up, and Google searches for topics related to the primaries1 have been running slightly ahead of where they were at a comparable point of the 2008 campaign, the last time both parties had open races. But most voters have a lot of competing priorities. Developments that can dominate a political news cycle, like Trump’s frenzied 90-minute speech in Iowa earlier this month, may reach only 20 percent or so of Americans.
Exit polls of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire indicate that around a third of them make up their minds in the last month of the campaign. So at this point, only about 20% of the voters have firmly decided whom they will vote for.
So, could Trump win? We confront two stubborn facts: first, that nobody remotely like Trump has won a major-party nomination in the modern era.4 And second, as is always a problem in analysis of presidential campaigns, we don’t have all that many data points, so unprecedented events can occur with some regularity. For my money, that adds up to Trump’s chances being higher than 0 but (considerably) less than 20 percent. Your mileage may vary. But you probably shouldn’t rely solely on the polls to make your case; it’s still too soon for that.

I just noticed that one of my favorite political analysts, Henry Olsen, has a blog at National Review in which he analyzes poll results. It's worth checking out.

Byron York puts forth a theory about why Trump says outrageous things. He points out that many people agree with his ideas. Or maybe he's conducting his campaign the way he would conduct bargaining to make a deal - by asking for more than he actually wants.
Perhaps deporting all illegal immigrants is the political version of asking for about three times more than you want.

Trump has repeated his deportation vow many times. But few have noted that when Trump rolled out his written immigration plan, posted on his campaign website, there was nothing about mass deportation. In addition to Trump's famous "beautiful wall," the plan had a lot of mainstream conservative proposals about securing the border and tightening interior enforcement.

The effect of Trump's deportation proposal was to pull the Republican immigration debate toward immigration and further right — that is, where Trump wanted it to go. When Trump made an actual written proposal, even an abbreviated campaign-style proposal, it was more measured.

Asking for about three times more than he wants helps Trump keep up his image with supporters. Perhaps the biggest part of Trump's appeal to those supporters is that they see him as strong, and other candidates as weak. Trump has to keep sounding strong to keep their support — even if the things he says scandalize others.
So those who are attracted to Trump because of what he's actually saying, they might want to ponder that he might not mean what he's saying. And given that he'd never be able to get such policies through Congress anyway, Trump can get the benefit of the shock value of saying some of these things. What I notice is that he manages to say one of these things that causes a brouhaha in the political media ever few days. So he keeps himself at the top of the political news cycle. That might drive a lot of people to dislike him even more, but it certainly keeps himself in the forefront of people's minds. Even those people not paying attention to the news; they'll still know what Trump has said.

Nicole Russell makes an interesting comparison between Donald Trump and Jesse Ventura and their appeal to voters. They're both Alpha males and delight in that persona. They are full of braggadocio, although Trump downplays his braggadocio while praising himself and telling us how much money he has. They also have other commonalities.
While on the one hand Ventura made his name with his bombastic personality and unique political views, on the other hand, it hurt his—and Minnesota’s—reputation. No political leader who is in the limelight 24/7 can avoid a gaffe or misstep, but Ventura seemed to seek them out. He referred to the press as “media jackals,” a term that even appeared on official press passes. When Minnesota author and humorist Garrison Keillor wrote a book about Ventura, he responded angrily to the jokes (although he later offered Keillor an olive branch).

Ventura was also litigation-hungry. He filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration, then later against the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle for defamation. When Kyle was killed, Ventura swapped in Kyle’s wife as the defendant. Granted, a jury found in Ventura’s favor to the tune of $1.8 million. But who continues a lawsuit against a SEAL’s widow? Seems like bad form, even if he was legally in the right.

Trump, likewise, has thin skin and has said some outlandish things. He’s sure of his skills, despite never having held political office, and he puts down others to demonstrate that. “We are led by very, very stupid people….We will have so much winning if I get elected, that you may get bored with winning.”

Trump called Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer “a totally overrated clown.” He tweeted, “Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
And the catalog of outrageous and outlandish things each has said could go on and on. Ventura was a failure as governor. He made a lot of money out of being governor but the state suffered. It doesn't augur well for Trump.
Ultimately Ventura was like a giant chocolate Easter bunny: all sweet promises, but hollow inside. As a candidate, Ventura vowed, “As governor, I will veto any new taxes and any increase in existing taxes. And I keep my word.” Yet less than four years later, “the governor proposed body-slamming Minnesota taxpayers to the tune of almost $2 billion in the next biennial budget.” After four years with Ventura at the helm, the annual general fund “ballooned 30 percent, to almost $14 billion.”

It isn’t hard to surmise what Trump would do if elected. No doubt he’d be all bark, no bite. Lewis’s observation of Ventura remains relevant today, when you consider it with Trump in mind: “Perhaps Jesse Ventura’s difficulty in matching his actions with his rhetoric is due to his background as an entertainer. Professional wrestling is built on illusion. Nothing is for real. One might say the same of Ronald Reagan’s pre-political career, but Reagan had one thing Ventura lacks: an ideology.”

Ventura didn’t have time to bleed. Trump doesn’t have time to garner an ideology. And we, the American people, don’t have time for either.
One problem was that Ventura had no allies in the Minnesota legislature and had trouble working with them. Can you imagine Trump having allies in Congress? That might seem like a plus to his followers, but that isn't how our system works. Obama has been able to used executive orders to achieve his goals because he knows that his flunkies in Congress will block any effort in the Congress to roll back his actions. Could Trump depend on either Republican or Democratic congressmen to have his back in Congress? I doubt it. So he would have a lot more trouble governing by executive order. If the Republicans controlled both houses, they might be able to pass their agenda and then just hope that Trump would sign it, but who knows? For all his boasting about all the great deals he'll make with everyone imaginable, we actually don't have any idea of what a Trump presidency would really look like.

David Drucker points out how similar Trump's foreign policy is to Barack Obama's and Rand Paul's.
Obama often advocates for reducing the U.S. military footprint overseas so that Washington can focus on investing and rebuilding infrastructure "here at home." So does Trump. Paul regularly questions America's role as the West's global guarantor of security, urging a "noninterventionist" foreign policy tailored to homeland defense. So does Trump. Indeed, Trump has gone further than Obama or Paul in challenging the bipartisan consensus on foreign policy that has held since World War II....

Trump's vision for U.S. foreign policy, as he has described it, can be inconsistent (and, his critics might add, incoherent).

Last week, he made waves by suggesting that extra-constitutional measures should be taken to surveil Muslims in the U.S. The New Yorker likes to describe himself as "militaristic," and occasionally sounds like a muscular Republican, modeled after President Reagan. Trump, who has advocated military action in Iraq and Syria to dismantle the Islamic State, says he would invest heavily in the military, and strenuously opposed Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

But in September, during the Republican debate hosted by CNN, the real estate mogul and reality television star suggested that he would be disinclined to use force against the Islamic State. "Syria's a mess. You look at what's going on with ISIS in there, now think of this: we're fighting ISIS. ISIS wants to fight Syria. Why are we fighting ISIS in Syria? Let them fight each other and pick up the remnants," he said.
Drucker goes on to give several examples of how Trump has suggested in interviews and in debates how he would pull back from America's historical military alliances. He wants to pull back from patrolling the South china Sea and South Korea. And he refuses to say whether he would pull out of Obama's deal with Iran.

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Jonathan Tobin details how the New York Times misleads in its reporting on murders of Israelis by Palestinians.
Today, another Israeli was killed and two more were wounded in a stabbing attack at a gas station by a Palestinian terrorist. On Sunday, another Israeli, a 20-year-old woman, was stabbed at an intersection near where 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Sharon, Massachusetts was killed. That attack was one of three assaults by Palestinians on Jewish targets that took place that day in which Israelis defending themselves killed all of the terrorist assailants. How did the New York Times describe it in their initial report on the events of the day published on its website Sunday evening? The headline read as follows: “1 Israeli and 3 Palestinians Killed in the West Bank.” This was a classic example of moral equivalence in which Israeli victims are equated by mainstream media bias with terrorists.

By Monday that headline was changed to: “Israeli Woman and 3 Palestinian Attackers Killed in West Bank.” But before we give the Times too much credit for correcting the prejudice against Israel that was demonstrated in the initial headline, it’s important to note that the story was just as imbalanced as it devoted far more space to information about one of the attackers than the Israeli that was killed. But in spite of that tilt, it also contained some important information the demonstrated the way the “moderate” Palestinian Authority was encouraging violence. In other words, the story was every that was wrong in the Middle East contained in one bad article.

The instinct to lump in together all those killed in the last two months as Palestinian terrorism surged into what is being called the “stabbing intifada” stems from a belief that what is happening is merely part of a “cycle of violence.” Seen in that way, there are no terrorists or victims, merely two sides that are equally to blame for the problem.

This ignores the fact that the conflict is driven by the Palestinian belief in the illegitimacy of Israel within any borders. That is something that has been made evident by their repeated rejections of peace offers that would have ended the Israeli presence on the West Bank and given them the independent state they say they want. Yet the Palestinians continue to seek out random Jews to kill on the streets and do it in the name of their desire to end an occupation that could have been finished long ago if they were not still obsessed with Israel’s destruction.
The NYT should explain why they think that murder victims and murderers should be treated as equivalents. Just like John Kerry, they seem to think that there is some sort of legitimacy or rationale behind the terrorist actions of Palestinians. This is how some of our nation's elites think when it comes to Israel or to those who dared to draw cartoons of Mohammad. When Kerry made those idiotic statements last week, he left out the Jews who were killed in the Jewish deli. Perhaps he thought that there was some rationale in killing French Jews shopping for dinner. Tobin continues,
It’s not often that one not particularly remarkable article could sum up everything that is wrong with the Middle East and the way Western liberals think about it, but the Rudoren piece does just that. So long as Palestinians get this kind of favorable coverage, it’s little wonder that they persist in their belief that sooner or later the West will hand them Israel on a silver platter.

Politically correct idiocy continues. Now a yoga class at the University of Ottawa has been cancelled because some sensitive snowflakes fear that it will be regarded as "cultural appropriation."
Student leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students, ending a free on-campus yoga class over fears the teachings could be seen as a form of "cultural appropriation."
Jennifer Scharf, who has been offering free weekly yoga instruction to students since 2008, says she was shocked when told in September the program would be suspended, and saddened when she learned of the reasoning.

Staff at the Centre for Students with Disabilities believe that "while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students ... there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice," according to an email from the centre.
The centre is operated by the university's Student Federation, which first approached Scharf seven years ago about offering yoga instruction to students both with and without disabilities.

The centre goes on to say, "Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced," and which cultures those practices "are being taken from."

The centre official argues since many of those cultures "have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy ... we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga."

The concept of cultural appropriation is normally applied when a dominant culture borrows symbols of a marginalized culture for dubious reasons -- such as the fad of hipsters donning indigenous headdresses as a fashion statement, without any regard to cultural significance or stereotype.

But Scharf, a yoga teacher with the downtown Rama Lotus Centre, said the concept does not apply in this case, arguing the complaint that killed the program came instead from a "social justice warrior" with "fainting heart ideologies" in search of a cause celebre.

"People are just looking for a reason to be offended by anything they can find," said Scharf.
Oh, barf! Gosh this sort of stupidity infuriates me. Why won't these people worry about actual persecution of real people rather than making up mini-controversies. Eugene Volokh writes,
Bunk. Total bunk.

Yoga, whether you’re a fan of it or not, doesn’t exclusively belong to some group of people who share the same skin color or language or culture or religion — just as classical music or Western medicine or modern physics doesn’t belong to the Europeans. It, like all such ideas, is the common heritage of all mankind. That means of each and every one of us, even those of us who have a genetic background or culture that some people feel aggrieved at.

We (Indian, American, African, Oceanian, anyone else) are entitled to use it, to adapt it, to merge it with other ideas. There’s no improper “appropriation” here because there’s no “property” here in the first place. I think it makes sense to view this as our honoring other ideas: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and so is adaptation and modification, since it represents the view that the thing be imitated, adapted and modified is worth our time and attention.

When Mitsuko Uchida or Itzhak Perlman plays Mozart, that isn’t Japanese or Jews somehow taking something away from Austrians or Germans (however you choose to slice European culture there). Rather, it is two people contributing to world culture, including by contributing something that can in turn be used by future Austrians and Germans. And it is a mark of how enduringly appealing classical music is. Indeed, appeal to people whose ancestors came from quite different places and cultures is one of the greatest compliments that can be paid to a culture. The same is true for jazz, yoga and a vast range of other cultural artifacts.

In a few situations, our legal system reserves to inventors a 20-year monopoly on ideas that they come up with, as an incentive to come up with ideas and contribute them to the common heritage of mankind. (Copyright law also reserves to inventors a longer — in my view, too long — but still limited monopoly on their particular expression of an idea, but not to an idea or genre itself.) But these are limited monopolies, justified by the perceived need of incentives to create, monopolies that a far narrower than what the critics of cultural “appropriation” would seek.

But no rule of law or ethics gives some ethnic, religious or cultural group a perpetual monopoly on the right to use yoga just because its creators happened to share a broad location, language or bloodline with the members of the modern group. Of course, it’s human nature for some people to want to lock up ideas for themselves, whether for financial gain or for the ability to boss people around and the pleasure of asserting special entitlements. But if people try to do that to you, point out their supposed moral theories for the nonsense that they are.

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