April 14th 2007

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Howard's Coalition - fewer options left as election looms

EDITORIAL: The high cost of 'symbolic' politics

THE ENVIRONMENT: Bushfire victims take NSW, Vic govts to court

WATER: Details of PM's water plan - disaster for farmers

NSW STATE ELECTION: When will Liberals, Nationals ever learn?

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Why young people read less / NSW's Knight with the Mournful Countenance / Journalistic hooliganism / The Easter Rising

INTELLIGENCE CORNER: Losing the war on the home front / Assessing the terrorist threat

SCHOOLS: Labor's standard threat to schools

MEDICAL SCIENCE: New developments in stem-cell science

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Australia caught between Beijing and Washington

SRI LANKA: Bloodbath looms in war-torn Sri Lanka

OPINION: An ABC of the ABC - a listener's guide


Millions squandered (letter)

Regional rail networks (letter)

Labor's Mugabe dilemma (letter)

David Hicks (letter)

Russia's Putin should not be demonised (letter)

CINEMA: Story to scare the daylights out of you - Lives of Others

BOOKS: How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Books promotion page


News Weekly, April 14, 2007
Love me, I celebrate diversity

In academe, the word "diversity" still functions as a rhetorical trump card, always uttered with the tonal implication that the speaker is taking some kind of brave moral stand.

But, these days, saying you support diversity has all the merit of standing up proudly, folding your arms on your chest, holding your head high, and saying, with a resolute air, "I don't know about you people, but I, for one, am opposed to terrorism."

The speaker usually casts his or her eyes about the room, looking for the person who is not humming and head-bobbing with enough enthusiasm.

One does not wish to oppose diversity, any more than one wants to have a nuanced conversation about paedophilia. To raise issues with diversity has become grossly déclassé. And that's the real source of its power.

It doesn't take much theoretical sophistication to recognise power. All you have to do is think about what you are afraid to say. What kind of questions must not be asked? What kind of projects must not be undertaken? Whose interest does that serve?

Maybe I am misreading some members of my profession. But when people who claim to be in favour of diversity actively help economically disadvantaged people of all colours; … when they support the constitutional rights of people who disagree with them on ideological grounds, or on matters of faith; then I will believe that they mean what they say about diversity.

Instead, what I see is that race has become a proxy for all the forms of diversity that elite institutions can't, or don't want to, include. But perhaps that is the real purpose of higher education as it is currently organised, or at least that is how it looks to growing numbers of excluded people.

- from Thomas H. Benton, Chronicles of Higher Education (Washington DC), December 4, 2006. The original complete article may be found at: chronicle.com/jobs/news/2006/12/2006120401c/careers.html

Teen faith brightens family ties

Both popular culture and its derivative, youth culture, tend to set adolescent children against the culture of parents.

Yet a new study on the role of faith in the family by two University of Texas sociologists suggests that teen religiosity can temper the subversive effects of pop culture by making teens consistently more satisfied with their families and their parents.

In their first set of tests, they found that teen religious saliency, which they measured with rankings of how important religion is to the respondents, was correlated with teens reporting better relationships with fathers and higher levels of satisfaction with their families.

More important, teens that said religion is important to them were more likely to indicate that their relations with their mothers and fathers improved and that their satisfaction with their families increased during the course of the study.

So teen religiosity not only contributes to better family dynamics, but also improves those dynamics over time.

In explaining their findings, the two researchers conclude:

"Adolescents for whom religion is important - and certainly among those for whom religion has grown in importance between study waves - are more likely to understand, think about, and act upon the implications of their religious commitments for family life."

- extract from study by Mark D. Regnerus and Amy Burdette, "Religious change and adolescent family dynamics", The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 1, Winter 2006.

Twenty years from barbarism

When it comes to rearing children, every society is only 20 years from barbarism. Twenty years is all we have to accomplish the task of civilizing the infants who are born into our midst each year. These savages know nothing of our language, our culture, our religion, our values, our customs or our interpersonal relations.

The infant is totally ignorant about communism, fascism, democracy, civil liberties, the rights of the minority as contrasted with the prerogatives of the majority, respect, decency, honesty, customs, conventions and manners. The barbarian must be tamed if civilization is to survive.

- Dr Alberta Siegel (1931-2001), professor of psychology at Stanford University, quoted in the Stanford Observer, October 1973. Alberta Siegel was famed for her pioneering research on the effects of televised violence on children.

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