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Yesterday, I was most surprised to discover that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Obama paid Muslim groups not to harm Americans.
It is possible that Americans are finding out about this only now that Trump is in office. Some of these organisations no longer want DHS money, even though substantial sums have been paid in previous years.
A Trump administration official said that the Obama administration came up with this programme in 2011 as a way of:
“countering Islamic extremism.” The official, who has knowledge of the discussions, was not authorized to speak publicly about the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Trump administration wants to change the name of the programme, which seems to be part of the reason some groups are now rejecting the money. Currently, 20 per cent of the $10m in earmarked funds has been rejected.
A greater element involved is that the groups sense that Trump will go through with plans and policies that are anti-Islam.
On Friday, February 11, 2017, the Sacramento Bee featured an article on Bayan Claremont, the fourth Muslim group to reject DHS money.
Bayan Claremont would have received $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combating Islamic extremism. This would have covered half the Muslim graduate school’s annual budget. However, Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his recent Executive Order — halted for the moment by the Ninth Circuit — changed their administrators’ minds. Bayan Claremont’s president, Jihad Turk (yes, really), made the announcement on Friday.
The comments following the SacBee article are well worth reading. Americans are astounded and angry that tens of millions of dollars from their taxes have gone to supporting … religion.
Bayan Claremont, incidentally, was founded in 2011. It is part of the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. That said, students from many different Christian denominations attend CST, which is also home to the Episcopal Theological School and Disciples Seminary Foundation.
Among the other groups in the United States which receive DHS’s money are Unity Productions Foundation of Potomac Falls, Virginia, which has declined a $396,585 to produce anti-extremist films; Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities in Dearborn, Michigan, which has rejected $500,000 for youth and health programme development and Ka Joog, a Somali non-profit organisation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which turned down $500,000 for youth programmes.
All this is money saved that the DHS can put into other areas. After all, as Jihad Turk said:
school officials already had reservations about the CVE strategy under Obama because they felt there’s no clear or proven pathway to violence for someone with a particular extreme ideology.
In closing, this sounds awfully lot like voluntary protection money — non-imposed jizya.
To follow up yesterday’s post on making school lunch great again, I ran across two helpful resources which might be of interest to parents.
With all the nonsense about Michelle Obama’s national lunch programme (2010) and the USDA rules about fruit and vegetables in school meals (2012), students and parents are finding what should be an enjoyable midday break difficult.
A New York Times article from 2015, ‘Parents, Not Schools, Should Decide What to Pack for Lunch’, describes the frustration, anxiety — and sometimes sadness — accompanying school lunch (emphases mine):
Based on our review of the available research, we estimate that 10 to 15 percent of all American children and up to 80 percent of those with special needs struggle with feeding challenges. This is not an insignificant concern. These kinds of school incidents can lead to significant setbacks for children with complex food anxieties or challenges. Some children may have special needs around food that aren’t immediately obvious to a teacher, like the sister of a 13-year-old in the hospital from complications of anorexia nervosa, whose parents are desperately trying to teach the girls that all foods, including Oreos, have a place in a healthy diet. Or there is the instance of the little boy with autism spectrum disorder who eats well at home but is so overwhelmed in the loud cafeteria that for him to get enough calories and energy for the afternoon he has to have his most familiar and safe foods. If someone shames him for his sugary squeeze yogurt and Ritz crackers, he may eat nothing.
One child we worked with, who had had multiple surgeries and was weaned off a feeding tube as a toddler, enjoyed fruit cups packed in light syrup as her only fruit. Her teacher held one up in front of the class, calling out the sugar content as unhealthy, and asked the kindergartner to not bring it again. The girl was upset that her cherished teacher thought her food was bad, and refuses to eat it anymore.
Parents have the right to decide what to feed their child, with input from a doctor or dietitian, if necessary. Children have the right to enjoy lunch at school without undue scrutiny, and certainly without being called out in front of peers for a choice the parent makes.
The authors of this article, Dr Katja Rowell and Jenny McGlothlin, recommend that parents enclose a laminated ‘lunchbox card’ stating:
“Dear ____________, Please don’t ask __________________ to eat more or different foods than she/he wants. Please let her eat as much as she wants of any of the foods I pack, in any order, even if she eats nothing or only dessert. If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at _______________. Thank you.”
They acknowledge that the child might be reluctant to do this, so parent and child should rehearse at home before putting this into practice.
They also say that concerned school administrators or teachers should contact the parent rather than confront the child — or, I would add, confiscate his or her food.
School districts have become increasingly authoritarian. The Ellyn Satter Institute, which deals with child nutrition, has a useful page from 2011 on what students encounter. ‘School Nutrition Horror Stories’ spells it out clearly. Recommended reading. Examples and excerpts follow:
All public schools in the St. Paul, MN, district will be declared “sweet-free zones” and second helpings banned by the end of this school year. Reminders have been sent to teachers, students and parents that “sweet, sticky, fat-laden and salty treats” aren’t allowed during the school day.”
New Hampshire schools have authoritarian dinner ladies who humiliate children asking for a brownie as well as hectoring dietitians who patrol the lunchroom criticising pupils who eat a cookie before starting the main course. The end result was that one woman’s son:
was so traumatized that he’s not eating any lunch at all. He tries to find reasons not to go to the cafeteria.
Some parents have been so intimidated by school officials that they related their experiences to the Ellyn Satter Institute only on condition they could remain anonymous — even when they were successful in getting schools to back off!
The Institute recommends that parents talk with the teacher first to get her side of the story, then to explain that you are packing foods your child will actually eat (some nutrition is better than none). If that does not work, take it up to the principal in a non-adversarial way (don’t make it against the teacher, but an information-gathering session).
They also recommend that parents push for a school-wide policy on non-interference with packed lunches:
This might involve the principal, school counselor, school nurse, lunchroom personnel, PTO. It is a lot of work, but it is that important.
Wow, apparently so. We can only hope the Trump administration reverses Michelle’s Meals as soon as practicable.
Nearly five years ago, in October 2012, I wrote about Michelle Obama’s awful school lunch plan, which left American children hungry, even when they managed to eat what was on their plates.
That post has videos of Michelle saying she loves fried food, which she forbade children from eating at school, not a place most of them want to be, anyway.
Now that Donald Trump is in the White House, readers of The_Donald hope that he will:
Hope springs eternal, boosted by a report in the Conservative Tribune, ‘BOOM: GOP Looks to Shut Down Michelle O’s lunches’ (complete with photos of the current offerings):
Donald Trump and the Republicans aren’t just making America great again. They’re making Taco Tuesday great again, too.
Just think, the new, tasty versions could even be called Trump Lunches: a stroke of branding genius we have come to know and love from the Donald.
They could include a taco bowl, possibly based on the Trump Tower Grill recipe. What’s nicer than a huge deep fried taco piled high with salad? Yum. Brings back fond memories of lunches I enjoyed as an adult in the 1980s.
Of their photographs, one of which has an industrially-stamped sandwich bun, the Conservative Tribune says:
Not exactly Anthony Bourdain we’re talking here. Little wonder, then, that even Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s prisoners ate better than some of our nation’s schoolchildren.
The report says that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 was never going to work, even if it:
started out with the best of intentions. Who doesn’t want their children to eat healthier, after all? However, the legislation made two fatal assumptions.
First, it assumed that local school districts weren’t, for whatever reason, trying to make healthy food for their students. Second, it assumed that a one-size-fits-all series of laws and regulations could fix the problem.
They wished to believe that, given time, these unworkable regulations would turn our nation’s lunchrooms into veritable Whole Foods cafeterias.
Unsurprisingly, it hasn’t worked. It’s time for Michelle Obama’s lunch rules to be tossed.
Fox News has more:
A document released by the office of Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., called for repealing certain aspects of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – the legislation that helped put Michelle Obama’s hallmark program into law. The initiative is part of a broader plan released by Meadows titled, “First 100 Days: Rules, Regulations, and Executive Orders to Examine, Revoke and Issue.”
The document calls for the Trump administration to reverse nearly 200 rules and regulations, including the requirements of the 2010 law.
A related report from the House Freedom Caucus shows:
The regulations have proven to be burdensome and unworkable for schools to implement. Schools are throwing food away that students are not eating.
Another report, released by the University of Vermont in 2015:
found even though students added more fruits and vegetables to their plates, “children consumed fewer [fruits and vegetables] and wasted more during the school year immediately following implementation of the USDA rule.”
The USDA rule mandating fruit and vegetables came into force in 2012, as a result of Michelle’s 2010 mandate (emphases mine below):
Titled “Impact of the National School Lunch Program on Fruit and Vegetable Selection,” the [Vermont] report noted that average waste increased from a quarter cup to more than one-third of a cup per tray. Observing students at two northeastern elementary schools during more than 20 visits to each, researchers took photos of students’ trays after they chose their items, as they were exiting the lunch line and again as they went by the garbage cans.
Admittedly, Vermont studied only two elementary schools in the Northeast, however, this tweet shows what a typical Michelle Meal looks like:
While her daughters enjoyed a daily choice of lunch items at the prestigious — and private — Sidwell Friends school, American children were left with unappetising selections resembling cat food.
Worse, the amount of food is paltry:
The Fox News report says that the documents they examined showed that:
some schools had to get creative in disposing of the food waste, feeding leftovers to pigs and other animals at nearby farms.
Before Michelle Obama got involved, many American high school students remembered yummy treats.
Several readers at The_Donald recalled lunch after 2010 (I’ve cleaned up the language in places):
They took away our French fries.
I know they removed soda from the machines and replaced with juice or some[thing].
Salt. My high school HAS NO SALT. There is plenty of pepper, but no salt to be found.
That’s funny considering you even get salt in jail
Underground privatized freedom cafe BTFO dystopian government tasteless “we’ll tell you what to like” food. Epic win.
At my school they started only letting kids have 1 condiment packet.
I graduated in 2015 and our lunches were so horrible that eventually the school didn’t make us pay for them
Ours were free too, and we still didn’t eat ’em.
The calorie restriction completely [mess]ed [up] athletes. Nothing says Lefty policy like bringing down the top performers.
Trump and the Republicans could really clean up with this for mid-term elections in 2018 and the next general election in 2020:
A lot of fifteen year old future Trump voters made today.
I imagine this will make quite a few Gen Z voters happy.
This will red-pill an entire generation. Crazy.
Some remembered luncheon delights before 2012, when the rules were fully implemented around the country:
I just graduated in ’16. The food my school was forced to serve after my freshman year was slop. We went from delicious stuffed crust pizza, bosco sticks, and food the great cafeteria cooks would make..to saltless garbage. I stopped eating it and so did many kids there. Its a shame too because I live in a decently poor rural area in TN so for a lot of kids it was their only meal, and it was complete garbage on a tray.
My school in Massachusetts once had a sandwich bar, nice white buttery pasta with Parmesan cheese, a la carte with fresh chocolatey cookies of several varieties.. Ice cream bars, Hoodsie cups.. Then it started to go [downhill]. My sophomore year, 2011, the subs, sandwiches were gone. Then the cookies lost their moisture, sweetness, and flexibility. The pasta became wheat. Dry, and hard. Then, the cookies and a la carte disappeared. Then, the pasta.. Students were left with utterly [awful] chicken patties, watered-down off-brand condiments, or the viscerally repugnant daily hot lunch.
Was Michelle’s programme confusion or conspiracy? Probably a bit of both, which is a bit rich coming from a woman who often enjoyed wagyu and kobe steak with her husband and friends over the past eight years.
In closing, here’s a brief flashback into history. Mao Tse-tung cut off trade routes to Hunan province, thereby increasing the price of salt. People in Hunan had to form co-operatives, pooling money to purchase it.
A reader at The_Donald posted this:
One of Mao’s biggest problems was the Chinese who would attempt to defect by swimming to Taiwan.
He restricted salt knowing that if these people did not have a certain amount of this necessary nutrient, they could not make the trip.
When I read that severe salt restriction was a part of Michelle Obama’s nutrition plan, again, I chuckled out loud.
They just couldn’t resist their tyrannical impulses.
In other words, ‘For me, but not for thee’. I would be disappointed, but not entirely surprised, to find that Michelle knew of the health implications regarding calorie and salt content of her lunches and implemented them anyway.
Isn’t there a division of church and state?
The short answer is that the First Amendment protects religious freedom and prohibits the establishment of a national church and state churches. It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote of the ‘separation between church and State’ in 1802 in a letter to the Danbury Baptists. They were concerned about their tax money supporting the Congregational Church, the state church of Connecticut at that time.
There is more to the story, detailed below.
However, Conservapedia tells us that there was a constitution that had a division of church and state (emphases mine below):
A phrase close to “separation of church and state”, but used for malevolent purposes and expanded to name education, does appear in Article 52 of the constitution of the Soviet Union (1977): “In the USSR, the church is separated from the state, and the school from the church.”
The First Amendment
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Conservapedia makes the argument that the First Amendment has its origins in the Bible:
The protection for free speech was largely motivated to safeguard the preaching of the Bible. Several passages in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, support a right of free speech, including Numbers 11:26-30 (Moses allowed free speech by declaring, “If only all the people of the LORD were prophets!”); Mark 9:38-41 (admonition by Jesus not to stop strangers who cast out evil in his name).
George Washington’s farewell address
In his farewell address of September 19, 1796, George Washington said:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men & citizens. The mere Politican, equally with the pious man ought to respect & to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private & public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the Oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure–reason & experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
Ronald Reagan’s address to the Alabama State Legislature
Nearly 200 years later, on March 15, 1982, Ronald Reagan addressed the Alabama State Legislature:
And I know here that you will agree with me that standing up for America also means standing up for the God, who has so blessed our land. I believe this country hungers for a spiritual revival. I believe it longs to see traditional values reflected in public policy again. To those who cite the first amendment as reason for excluding God from more and more of our institutions and everyday life, may I just say: The first amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.
What Jefferson said
In 1801, a committee of the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut wrote Thomas Jefferson to ask about about their tax money supporting the Congregational Church, the state church of Connecticut at that time.
On New Year’s Day 1802, Jefferson replied, in part:
I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
Connecticut did not change this mandate until 1818. That year, their constitution finally stated:
Article VII. Section 1. It being the duty of all men to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and their right to render that worship in the mode most consistent with the dictates or their consciences, no person shall by law be compelled to join or support, nor be classed with, or associated to, any congregation, church, or religious association; but every person now belonging to such congregation, church, or religious association, shall remain a member thereof until he shall have separated himself therefrom, in the manner hereinafter provided. And each and every society or denomination of Christians in this State shall have and enjoy the same and equal powers, rights, and privileges; and shall have power and authority support and maintain the ministers or teachers of their respective denominations, and to build and repair houses for public worship by a tax on the members of any such society only, to be laid by a major vote of the legal voters assembled at any society meeting, warned and held according to law, or in any other manner.”
Jefferson worshipped in Capitol building
Atheists are fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson and have adopted him as their secular hero. However, three days after Jefferson wrote his ‘separation between church and state’ letter to the Danbury Baptists (italicised emphasis in the original here, purple emphases mine):
he attended church in the largest congregation in North America at the time. This church held its weekly worship services on government property, in the House Chambers of the U.S. Capitol Building. The wall of separation applies everywhere in the country even on government property , without government interference. This is how it is written in the Constitution, this is how Thomas Jefferson understood it from his letter and actions, and this is how the men who wrote the Constitution practiced it.
Worship in the Capitol ended only after the Civil War. Therefore, it lasted for five decades.
Conservapedia provides more examples of Jefferson’s support of Christianity in government:
David Barton, Founder and President of WallBuilders, states that Jefferson voted that the Capitol building would also serve as a church building, praised the use of a local courthouse as a meeting place for Christian services, urged local governments to make land available specifically for Christian purposes, set aside government lands for the sole use of religious groups, assured a Christian religious school that it would receive “the patronage of the government”, proposed that the Great Seal of the United States depict a story from the Bible and include the word “God” in its motto, and agreed to provide money for a church building and support of clergy. And that like support of religion by the federal government militates against the extreme separatist position.
The Bible and American government
Conservapedia tells us that God is mentioned in all 50 state constitutions.
Until the 1960s, the Bible had a pre-eminent place:
Every new president has made a religious reference in his inaugural address. Dwight D Eisenhower wrote his own prayer. Dr Jerry Newcombe compiled a list of all of these references for the Christian Post just before Donald Trump’s inauguration. (He, too, mentioned God — more than once.) Here are a few:
1. George Washington said, “It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe….”
3. Thomas Jefferson prayed to “that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe.”
6. John Quincy Adams quoted Scripture: “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in Vain.”
7. Andrew Jackson referred to “the goodness of that Power whose providence mercifully protected our national infancy.”
16. Abraham Lincoln stated, “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.”
24. William McKinley declared, ” Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers.”
25. Theodore Roosevelt thanked “the Giver of Good who has blessed us.”
32. Harry S. Truman referenced “that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God.”
Dr Newcombe rightly concludes:
The atheists are the Johnny-come-latelies. Demands to ban God and the Bible from the Inauguration should be denied.
It is not surprising that many Americans and other people around the world now think that Christians in the United States are being unreasonable when they lament that the Ten Commandments have been removed from county courthouses along with Christmas crèches on government property.
I grew up with these displays. No one ever had a problem with them, other than the occasional crank.
However, all that changed in the 1960s. In addition to Madalyn Murray O’Hair‘s successful case against school prayer which effectively banned it — along with Bible readings — in state schools, the Supreme Court under Earl Warren dramatically changed the way all of us view the First Amendment (emphases in the original here):
Jefferson simply quotes the First Amendment then uses a metaphor, the “wall”, to separate the government from interfering with religious practice. Notice that the First Amendment puts Restrictions only on the Government, not the People! The Warren Court re-interpreted the First Amendment thus putting the restrictions on the People! Today the government can stop you from Praying in school, reading the Bible in school, showing the Ten Commandments in school, or have religious displays at Christmas. This is quite different from the wall Jefferson envisioned, protecting the people from government interference with Religious practice.
Therefore, one could make the case that over the past 50 years, America has been drifting in practice towards a Soviet-style restriction on Christian displays, the Bible and prayer outside the home on government property.
If you think I am exaggerating, stories have been appearing in local newspapers and conservative websites over the past 12 years about teachers who have taken Bibles away from children silently reading them during lunch hour. There was an instance in Texas in 2003 I remember where the teacher took a child’s New Testament away at lunch hour and threw it in the wastebasket. He was not allowed to retrieve it.
In June 2016, WND published an article about a school in Palmdale, California, where a seven-year-old got his classmates interested in the Bible verses and stories his mother gave him every morning. The mother intended for her son to have religious encouragement during the day. She was not attempting to proselytise. However, the child was so thrilled by these verses that he couldn’t help but share them with others at lunchtime. It wasn’t long before his friends asked him for copies of the verses and stories. One girl who received a story showed it to the teacher, commenting on its beauty:
Then, however, C [the boy] was reprimanded by his teacher in front of the whole class, twice, and told to stop talking about religion or sharing his mother’s notes, and he went home in tears, Liberty Counsel said.
Even as the crowd of students asking for the after-school Bible notes grew, on May 9, Principal Melanie Pagliaro approached Zavala [the mother] and demanded that the notes only be handed out somewhere beyond school property.
With the school not satisfied with only the banishment, Liberty Counsel said, “a Los Angeles deputy sheriff knocked at the door of C’s home, demanding that C’s note-sharing cease altogether because ‘someone might be offended.’” …
The letter to the district said Liberty Counsel, “having reviewed the above facts, district policies, and applicable law, it is clear that the actions of the district staff in this instance, in prohibiting voluntary student religious expression during non-instructional time; then completely banning such student expression from school property entirely, and finally calling the police to report the same are simply unconstitutional.”
“These actions must be disavowed and reversed, to avoid liability for civil rights violations,” the letter said.
It gave the district a deadline for responding of June 1, which was ignored.
I think this will change — somewhat — over the next four years. While the Ten Commandments might not make a comeback in courthouses, Christmas crèches are likely to reappear. And teachers might start to lay off students sharing the Bible at lunchtime.
Tomorrow: Religious persecution and state churches in American colonies
For the past 20 years, I have made a conscious effort to articulate views in conversation without saying ‘I feel’, instead using ‘I think’ or merely making a statement.
I knew a business professor at the time, now retired, who often introduced his conversational opinions with ‘I feel that …’ He said it so often that I began listening for those words from others, including friends, acquaintances and colleagues. There was a lot of ‘I feel’ among them as well as in television interviews with famous people.
SpouseMouse also noticed this.
Were we the only two who had?
We had a long wait, but, finally, it now emerges that other people have had enough of ‘I feel’. Before exploring their criticism of those words, let’s look at a bit of background from the late 20th century to today.
Thinking is being
Until recently, secondary school and university students took an introduction to philosophy course.
They read René Descartes, the French philosopher who wrote in his Discourse on the Method in 1637:
Je pense, donc je suis.
In 1644, he wrote the statement in Latin in Principles of Philosophy:
Cogito ergo sum.
Translated in English, it means:
I think, therefore, I am.
This proposition became a fundamental element of Western philosophy, as it purported to form a secure foundation for knowledge in the face of radical doubt. While other knowledge could be a figment of imagination, deception, or mistake, Descartes asserted that the very act of doubting one’s own existence served—at minimum—as proof of the reality of one’s own mind; there must be a thinking entity—in this case the self—for there to be a thought.
St Augustine of Hippo wrote similarly in the 5th century in his works The City of God and the Enchiridion, in discussing the errors of sceptics. By being alive, we are prone to error:
… one cannot err who is not alive. That we live is therefore not only true, but it is altogether certain as well …
Other philosophers and great thinkers also addressed the certainty of our existence, which revolves around the ability to think and to reason.
My point here is not to engage in philosophical discussion but rather to point out that thinking was seen as the foundation for rational expression.
When I was growing up, my parents asked me to substantiate my opinions with facts. Facts require thought in order to process the information therein. Facts give us solid reasons to support certain perspectives.
Thinking is not emotion. As my parents used to say, ‘Any fool can feel. You’re supposed to use the God-given gifts of thought and reason.’ To some that will sound tough, but it will produce critical thinking.
The therapeutic era
Most people under the age of 35 or even 40 will have encountered a therapeutic approach to language rather than a rational one.
If this approach to linguistics does not begin at home, it will certainly be taught at school.
Everything must be couched in inoffensive terms. Prefacing an opinion or even a fact with ‘I feel’ is understood to be more acceptable than using the more definite ‘I think’ or making a direct statement.
Defenders of ‘I feel’ think they and others who use those words are demonstrating humility, gentleness and openness towards others. ‘I feel’, they say, signals a willingness to change one’s mind if a good case can be made to the contrary.
However, there is also a manipulative side to ‘I feel’ when it is used by people who self-identify as victims. It is a passive-aggressive way of saying, ‘I’m a delicate little flower. Therefore, please don’t contradict me, because that will invalidate my feelings. Truth be told, I am not interested in what you have to say, anyway, unless you agree with me.’
The case against ‘I feel’
On May 1, the SundayReview in The New York Times featured an article by Molly Worthen, an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a contributing editorial writer to the NYT. Worthen’s most recent book is Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism.
Her article, ‘Stop Saying “I Feel Like”‘, is a must-read for both supporters and detractors of that perspective. The accompanying illustration of a woman opening her mouth with flowers falling out of it makes the point perfectly.
Worthen begins by saying she has been hearing people opine on the presidential candidates this year. Too many of them make statements similar to the following:
Personally, I feel like Bernie Sanders is too idealistic
or, as someone said of Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz, the ex-Canadian:
I feel like I can trust that he will keep his promises.
Worthen points out (emphases mine):
The imperfect data that linguists have collected indicates that “I feel like” became more common toward the end of the last century. In North American English, it seems to have become a synonym for “I think” or “I believe” only in the last decade or so. Languages constantly evolve, and curmudgeons like me are always taking umbrage at some new idiom. But make no mistake: “I feel like” is not a harmless tic. George Orwell put the point simply: “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” The phrase says a great deal about our muddled ideas about reason, emotion and argument — a muddle that has political consequences.
Although women use the phrase more often than men, she says that among her own students:
male students begin almost every statement with “I feel like.” The gender gap is vanishing because the cultural roots of this linguistic shift were never primarily a consequence of gender.
Some students Worthen interviewed are making a conscious effort not to say the words:
Jing Chai, a senior at the University of Chicago, said: “I’ve tried to check myself when I say that. I think it probably demeans the substance of what I’m trying to say.”
As I said above, ‘I feel’ can be a passive-aggressive conversation stopper. Worthen agrees:
“I feel like” masquerades as a humble conversational offering, an invitation to share your feelings, too — but the phrase is an absolutist trump card. It halts argument in its tracks.
When people cite feelings or personal experience, “you can’t really refute them with logic, because that would imply they didn’t have that experience, or their experience is less valid,” Ms. Chai told me.
You know, we can’t have that these days. The atmosphere on campus is meant for victimhood rather than learning. Worthen says that Bradley Campbell, a sociologist at California State University, Los Angeles, has written about the shift:
from a “culture of dignity,” which celebrates free speech, to a “culture of victimhood” marked by the assumption that “people are so fragile that they can’t hear something offensive,” he told me.
People like that should not even be at university, regardless of their intelligence. University is for people who can think critically and encounter new ideas. It’s a place for well-reasoned, tempered debate and discussions which result in learning. Yet, for all their linguistic kindness, today’s university students, sometimes aided by lecturers or professors, violently shut down opposing viewpoints. Think of the Chicago ‘protests’ (assaults and vandalism) a few months ago by university students — encouraged by radical professors — which prevented a Trump rally from taking place. Elsewhere, earlier this year, one student purposely damaged a Trump supporter’s laptop because he couldn’t stand looking at the bumper sticker on it. Trump aside, many universities — including those in the UK — have had to cancel certain speakers’ appearances because they are not politically correct. This is in response to student protest and threatened violence. The wimpy ‘I feel’ is, in reality, manifesting itself as physical harm or damage. But I digress.
Worthen also interviewed Christopher Lasch’s daughter Dr Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, a historian at Syracuse University, who is carrying on her late father’s fine work in social commentary. If you have not read Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, you are missing out on a treat. I read it in the early 1980s and it analyses our society to a T.
Of ‘I feel like’, Lasch-Quinn told Worthen:
It’s a way of deflecting, avoiding full engagement with another person or group because it puts a shield up immediately. You cannot disagree.
In 2001, Lasch-Quinn’s book Race Experts lamented that no real improvement is being achieved with equality or economics. Instead, the Left focusses on sensitivity training. ‘I feel like’ is part of this pattern:
a means of avoiding rigorous debate over structures of society that are hard to change …
“Cultivating the art of conversation goes a long way toward correcting these things,” Dr. Lasch-Quinn said.
Her father wrote about what, today, Americans call ‘self care’. Worthen explains:
… “self-care” — can lead to what the writer Christopher Lasch called “pseudo-self-awareness.” It can leave us too preoccupied with personal satisfaction to see the world clearly. “The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety,” Mr. Lasch wrote in his 1979 book “The Culture of Narcissism.” “He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life.”
Unfortunately, times have moved on. In the 2010s, it is all too apparent that those who are emotionally-driven actually do seek to inflict their own certainties on others, either by shutting down opposing viewpoints or threatening people. ‘I feel like’ is a contributing linguistic factor to this phenomenon.
Although philosophers have for centuries acknowledged emotion as essential to thinking, we can take our feelings too far. When Worthen spoke to the neuroscientist Dr Antonio Dimasio, who teaches at the University of Southern California, he agreed that ‘I feel like’ is:
“bad usage” and “a sign of laziness in thinking,” not because it acknowledges the presence of emotion, but because it is an imprecise hedge that conceals more than it reveals. “It doesn’t follow that because you have doubts, or because something is tempered by a gut feeling, that you cannot make those distinctions as clear as possible,” he said.
The best gift parents and teachers can give children is to get them to figure out why they like or dislike and agree or disagree with something or someone. Insist that they think about it and articulate it factually, without one-word answers or labels. Furthermore, when they see a soundbite from someone they disagree with, ask them to research further. Did they understand the full context in which a statement was given? Did they read or hear the full quote?
Saying ‘I feel like’ prevents our getting the full story. Using ‘I think’ or — even better — doing away with the first person preface altogether will produce sharper thought processes and a more reasoned point of view, easily articulated to our listeners and readers. Children should learn that as quickly as they can. It will serve them well in life.
As far as most Westerners are concerned, there is no greater evil than tobacco, especially where athletic prowess is concerned.
An issue of Tobacco & the Elderly Notes from 1998 examplifies the anti-tobacco stance with its feature which deplores past sports stars advertising cigarettes. Yet, my post yesterday showed that a number of top athletes enjoyed their smokes and still went on to break records during their satisfying careers.
I wonder what the editors of Tobacco & the Elderly Notes would think of the increasing drug use prevalent among high school, college and professional athletes? Is that a better proposition than tobacco?
I used to support the legalisation of cannabis until I saw what it did to a friend of ours. He never quite recovered from his use of skunk during the 1990s. What started out as recreational led to divorce and estrangement from his child, by now an adolescent. Even now that he’s gone straight, he’s still irritable, excitable and paranoid.
For those my age and older, it’s impossible to get the old strains which are now so last century. Every variety of cannabis on the market today has some psychotropic element to it. It’s no longer a case of a happy or sleepy high. It’s affecting people like our friend adversely.
Furthermore, use of other drugs, including K2, is on the increase by athletes.
College athletes and marijuana
Recreator has a series of excellent graphics and NCAA statistics which everyone should have a look at.
It will surprise many.
The survey is taken every four years. Results published are from the 2013 survey.
More than 20% of athletes smoked dope in 2005 (21%), 2009 (23%) and 2013 (22%).
One quarter of male athletes smoked it in 2013 versus 17% of women athletes.
Use by NCAA division statistics are as follows: Division I is 16%; Division II is 20% and Division III shows a significant 29%.
Statistics for marijuana use by sport revealed that 46% of lacrosse players smoke. Next are swimming (32%) and soccer (31%), followed by football (23%) and, finally, basketball (19%).
A 2012 article in Time on American football players states (emphases mine):
What is surprising is the frequency, proliferation and seeming constancy of the confessed drug use. ESPN The Magazine‘s Sam Alipour begins with a detailed scene of an Oregon football player, fresh off this year’s Rose Bowl victory, kicking back by rolling a joint. The unnamed player (there are many unnamed sources in the article, which isn’t surprising given the content) estimates that about half of the team smokes marijuana on a regular basis. The magazine also cited interviews with 19 current and former Ducks going back a decade and a half who put that number at between 40 and 60%.
The article states that, even more unusual is that, generally speaking, some football players get high before practice — or a game.
It used to be that such activity could harm one’s chances for a professional career. Today, it’s less of a problem:
For many athletes, the only downside to being caught using marijuana is a drop in their draft status, but there is an interesting catch-22 in which NFL scouts and executives assume that because so many athletes have used marijuana, they don’t believe those who claim they haven’t.
An article on draft picks on NFL.com, also from 2012, looked at the same ESPN Magazine report that Time did. We learn the following:
Four out of 10 draft-eligible prospects from the 2012 class failed at least one school-administered drug test for marijuana; two in 10 failed multiple times, per a CBS Sports report from April.
“About 70 percent” of prospects at the combine admitted to using marijuana, per an ESPN report.
The NFL.com article considered the ESPN report alongside three marijuana-related arrests in the Detroit Lions that year:
Lomas Brown, now an ESPN analyst, claims at least 50 percent of NFL players likely smoke marijuana, according to a report in the Detroit News
“I just don’t think you’ll be able to curb this,” Brown told the newspaper.
In Brown’s eyes, this is actually an improvement. Brown claims up to 90 percent of players league-wide smoked marijuana when he began his career with the Lions in 1985.
K2 — undetectable — popular with youths and pros
Three years ago I wrote about the dangers of synthetic drug K2, which is widely available and legal. It is sold in filling stations and malls.
K2 looks like a little packet of potpourri and all packets say ‘not for consumption’.
ThePostGame has an excellent article on the increased popularity of K2 with athletes, from high school to professional level.
K2 is smoked and mimics cannabis. It is also undetectable in drug tests:
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 14 cases of K2 exposure in the 48 states plus the District of Columbia in 2009. In 2010, that number exploded to 2,888. Already this year, there have been nearly 1,000. In the last four months alone, 151 Navy sailors have been accused of using or possessing the drug.
The U.S. Naval Academy expelled eight midshipmen last month for using K2.
Jay Schauben, director of the Florida Poison Control Center, warns:
The possible side effects include significant hallucination, cardiac effects, seizures, rapid heart rate, hypertension, severe agitation, passing out, and panic attacks.
Anyone who takes K2 is playing Russian roulette.
Secondary school use
ThePostGame‘s article opens with a profile of an 18-year-old K2 user who committed suicide. David was a notionally all-American boy living with his mother and father. He ended his life just after attending a high school graduation party. His parents had no reason to believe their son was using any sort of unusual substance until his girlfriend spoke with them a few days later.
My aforementioned post from 2012 recapped a drowning incident involving a 19-year old high school football player in Florida who took K2 with a friend. He didn’t want to go home and the friend left him alone, never imagining the youth would drown himself in a nearby creek.
Athletes at university level like K2 because drug tests cannot detect it. Consequently, it is being heavily marketed on campuses all over the US:
“We’re receiving more reports of its use in the athlete population,” says Frank Uryasz, director of the National Center of Drug-Free Sport … ‘We’re getting reports from colleges, where athletes are asking about it.”
One such report to the Drug-Free Sport hotline, from an NCAA athletic trainer, reads:
“Three student-athletes were breaking apart cigarettes, mixing it with K2, rolling it back up into papers and then smoking. One young man, who had NO past medical history, had a seizure and lost consciousness. He was found outside the dorm by campus security convulsing. His heart rate was elevated above 200 for enough time that he was admitted for 24 hours of observation … When asked why he did it: “I didn’t think it would be that much of a rush, I had no control over my body in that I could see but could not talk or speak.”
Just because they are young and fit does not mean that university athletes are immune to harm from K2, especially when combined with another substance:
Performance-enhancing drugs may add yet another layer of risk. “If you combine these products and steroids, I can’t begin to predict the negative consequences,” says Anthony Scalzo, director of toxicology at St. Louis University. “If you add these stresses to the heart, someone’s probably going to have a heart attack from it.”
One pro explained his drug-taking strategy:
“I go straight weed in the off-season,” one NFL veteran told ThePostGame.com on condition of anonymity. “Then, in-season, when they test, I go to [K2].”
It is highly possible that within the next few years we might see unexpected deaths in fit athletes — including professionals — using K2.
And people rail against tobacco and nicotine!
Good news for children who cannot tolerate breakfast.
I was one of them and still don’t eat it unless I’m on holiday and, therefore, relaxed enough to enjoy a 45-minute low carb high fat repast. At home, I have two cups of coffee and a multivitamin. In both cases, the next meal is dinner, no lunch.
The French news site Obs recently featured a column on the subject by one of their experts, Dr Patrick Tounian, a paediatrician and nutritionist.
He says that if children want to skip breakfast, even on school-days, let them do so. However, give them a small snack they can eat later in the morning.
Above all, he says, parents should
never force a child to eat in the morning.
Over the years he has noticed two types of patient:
- Those who are not hungry in the morning and who can last without food until lunchtime. Those types must be left alone. It seems totally unjustified from a nutritional and scientific perspective to force them to eat.
- A minority of patients who are not hungry at breakfast time but who have hunger pangs at around 11 a.m. These schoolchildren have the right not to eat in the morning and should not be forced to do so. On the other hand, do make sure they have something in their pocket that they can eat later on which will tide them over until lunch.
For those who do eat breakfast, Tounian says any type of meal will do, according to personal preference:
We need to sweep aside the idea of an ‘ideal’ breakfast: the only good breakfast is the one you want to eat.
Where children and adolescents are concerned, he says that parents should try to follow the ‘four pillars’ of nutrition:
- Two portions of meat a day.
- Three dairy products a day.
- One or two portions of fruit or vegetables a day.
- Fish once or twice a week.
This seems sensible advice, even if it does not correspond to current Western medical recommendations. (France’s health ministry currently recommends seven portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Yuck.)
I’ll feature more next week on the myth of breakfast being the most important meal of the day. If you do not see the point of it, you’re not alone!
At the beginning of June 2015, the Belz sect of Hasidic Jews in London issued instructions that their women were not to drive cars.
In fact, Belz rabbis said that mothers would be prohibited from dropping their children off at the sect’s schools starting in August. The Jewish Chronicle reported:
According to the letter — which was signed by leaders from Belz educational institutions and endorsed by the group’s rabbis — there has been an increased incidence of “mothers of pupils who have started to drive” which has led to “great resentment among parents of pupils of our institutions”.
They said that the Belzer Rebbe in Israel, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, has advised them to introduce a policy of not allowing pupils to come to their schools if their mothers drive.
Whilst this is serious — more about which below — the head rabbi of the Belz sect, Belzer Rebbe (his title), gave these instructions to female adherents in 2014:
“You should shave your entire head and not leave even one single strand of hair,” Rokeach thundered.
“You should not eat at a home in which the woman does not shave her head because the food is not kosher,” Rokeach added.
Rokeach also prohibited women from applying makeup.
“The only makeup that is allowed is that of a natural color, and any eye makeup is prohibited,” the rabbi said during his speech.
The rabbi said that women should not use any perfume.
Rokeach did not forget to attack women’s shoes.
“You should not wear any shoes that make noise while walking, as noisy shoes was the reason God destroyed ancient Israel,” he said.
It is difficult to know whether that is a satire. However, an anonymous commenter wrote that the rabbi is in competition with others to make sure one of them is the most observant — ‘frum’ — as ‘kosher’ refers to food laws. Emphases mine:
This time you are exaggerating,
I have the letter in front of me. What he actually did was put all the rules in writing. Belzer women have been shaving their heads for years and years as do all women from Hungarian, Galitzianer and Yerushalmer Chassidus. Only Russian Chassidus does not do this. He said that this is perferable and no hair should be sticking out of their tichel. If they need to wear a shaitel they should also wear a hat or headband on top so that it is obvious that it is a shaitel … for the word loud regarding the shoes, he meant not noisy but loud colors that attract attention. What bothers the women is that all of a sudden clothing that was permissible for their mothers and grandmothers became forbidden, as for makeup this was always his rule, he just never was strict about it but all of this was taught in his girl’s schools for years
You need to be accurate and not go overboard even though you and most others find his “takonos” ridiculous. Don’t forget he is in competition with his brothers in laws the Vizhnitzer Rebbes, The satmer Aharonis and Skver as to who can be the frummest!
However, another controversy in the Hasidic community arose in London — once again in 2014. Stamford Hill’s Shomrim group help to patrol the area. Posters suddenly appeared telling women on what side of the street they should walk (photo courtesy of the London Evening Standard via Twitter) . The Shomrim reaction was that the public overreacted:
Chaim Hochhauser from the Stamford Hill Shomrim group, whose Jewish volunteers support policing in the area, said …
“Everyone knows this story has blown everything out of proportion. I have spoken to the organisers of the parade – they have apologised [for the signs]. They did not think it would get so public. It was just a misunderstanding.”
Thankfully, this did go public. A 26-year old filmmaker Sam Aldersley put up signs saying:
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO WALK WHEREVER YOU WANT ..
Stamford Hill West councillor for Hackney, Rosemary Sales, deemed the Shomrim posters ‘unacceptable’ and Hackney Council removed them.
However, Sam Aldersley’s posters telling women to walk freely through the borough were also taken down (see the photo of the young boy on a bicycle). He would have said the posters were up for a Torah procession which, for some sects, demands a segregation of the sexes.
That said, are private citizens allowed to dictate how the public byways may be used — where people can walk — even in religious processions? It seems unlikely. Why did Hackney not see this sooner?
Now back to the driving controversy. Not all Hasidic — or mainstream Orthodox — communities forbid their women to drive. The Jewish Chronicle explains:
One Stamford Hill rabbi said that it had “always been regarded in Chasidic circles as not the done thing for a lady to drive”.
But although some Chasidic sects discourage women from driving, others such as Lubavitch have no such policy. The wives of some senior non-Chasidic strictly Orthodox rabbis drive.
One local woman said that the policy “disables women. The more kids they have, the more they need to drive.” But she believed that some women would take no notice of the policy. “They say one thing, they do another,” she said.
A Briton writing for the Daily Kos adds that there is a practical basis for Hasidic women to drive:
Stamford Hill is, well, hilly. It is built on part of the escarpment of the Thames’ river valley and as such is quite steep. For mothers with large families, the use of a car eases the burden of taking children to school, especially if the children’s ages mean they go to several different schools or nurseries (kindergarten) or to separate boys’ and girls’ schools.
Some of us will wonder how the women obtained permission from their husbands to get a driving licence in the first place. Now, all of a sudden, it’s forbidden. Hmm. There’s a story here. When an update is available, it will appear here.
Some readers might say, ‘This is a Jewish problem’. No, it is not. It is a universal issue of faith. If some are reminded of the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia, they would not be wrong. More mainstream Jews have objected to the Belz ban on women drivers.
I bring this story to Christian attention to warn against the dangers of insularity and extreme views. May we not fall into the same trap.
I have said in the past that a great danger faces Christians in that we are easily slipping into the mores and legalism of our brethren of other world faiths. Let’s look more closely
before we then refuse to leap.
More on the prohibition of Belz women drivers:
My thanks to cyberfriend Lleweton for this news item.
On May 14, 2015, the Daily Express reported that Aberystwyth University will no longer place Gideon Bibles in student accommodation because they are
inappropriate in a multicultural university …
Those words did not come from a university spokesperson, however, but from Aberystwyth student John David Morgan.
He and another student, Daniel Brothers, are behind the move.
The Students’ Union conducted a poll to gauge support for the Bible restriction. Aberystwyth University has 10,000 students, but only five per cent of them turned up to participate. Although 63 per cent approved of the restriction, that was only 300 students.
The article refers to a ban, but it is a call for the routine placement of Bibles in every room to be stopped.
An earlier vote took place on campus last year, garnering a similar small participation with a huge negative result:
A survey of students at Pentre Jane Morgan halls of residence, conducted by Aberystwyth Students’ Union in 2014, found almost half felt the compulsory inclusion of the holy book placed in rooms by Christian evangelists Gideon International was “uncomfortable” or “unacceptable”.
It also reportedly found only four per cent stated their inclusion in rooms were a “good idea”.
But the Students’ Union has been blasted for passing a motion that gathered so few votes in its favour.
On its website, the Students’ Union said the 475 votes cast was “almost double the minimum requirement” as set out in their “democratic structure”.
A spokesperson added: “475 students voting is a higher number than any attendance at a democratic meeting and so we are delighted that we have managed to open up democratically to this extent.”
According to John David Morgan, students will still be able to request a Bible.
How long, though, before being seen reading one will be taboo?
As for Aberystwyth’s administration, the Huffington Post says:
The university said it would review the situation, pending on the SU vote.
Let’s hope they overturn the proposal, approved by such a small number of students.