Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 7: ...up is down, and down it up...

It was just a day ago that Brent Mazerolle showed what a good journalist he can be with his story on a tragic failure of our justice system. Today ---

Look. His front page story on Moncton High and the Royal Oaks development is beneath contempt. It shows no sense of ethics or of honesty or even of some simple form of intelligence. It's not, in any sense of the term, a news story. It's an opinion piece pretending to be news. In fact, it's not even opinion. It's free propaganda for the Royal Oaks developers.

No ethical or competent editor would dream of putting such an article on any page of a respectable newspaper. Here is an article that sums up what is wrong with the Irving media, what is wrong with Moncton City Council, and what is wrong with New Brunswick.

There is no public debate in the province. What we have instead are dog and pony shows put on by promoters of various sorts while politicians sit looking on with their tongues hanging out and wagging their tails. All this presentation to city council last night was a prescripted show - and Brent Mazerolee was there as just one, more player.

He writes that the moving of the school was always a fait accompli because the provincial government can put a school anywhere it wants to. Sure. But a city council can make representations to a provincial government. Provincial politicians can be made aware that local members can get heat for displeasing Moncton priorities.

None of that has happened or will happen. Moncton City council has been with this thing all the way.

I thought City Council said, many times, it had a development plan. Where is it? And if we have one, why are we approving a house, lawn, and garage development of the 1950s? A plan is something for the future. Do they seriously believe the 2050s (or even the 2020s) are going to be the 1950s all over again?

That is one of the thousand and more questions that Mazerolle never bothered to ask.

Even the headline "MHS myths dispelled" is thoroughly unprofessional. Whether anything was dispelled is an opinion, not a piece of news. And since Mazerolle's piece was so obviously pandering to the developers and to that collection of social leftovers on city council, I have no reason to believe that anything was dispelled.

Only one group benefit from this decision. The Royal Oak developers. In the short term, they'll make money. In the long term, we'll be stuck with an obsolete housing area that's expensive to maintain, and has an expensive school in the middle of it.

This is the history of New Brunswick in four sentences. Developers wanted something. They got it. Times and Transcript joins politicians in asking developers to bend over so they can be kissed where it counts. Rate payers inherit costs and future problems.

No newspaper that would carry such cheap and obvious propaganda can be called a serious newspaper. Offhand, I can't think of anything to call it that is low enough.

Then, there's Norbert. It's not just that I agree with this column. It's that Norbert shows some real courage. Read this one.It's on the editorial page. It's well informed. It's well expressed - but,oh, this is risky.

It's about Harper's official position as cheerleader for the Israeli government. Norbert says this is dangerous for us - and dangerous for Israel. I think he's very right. But the reality is there is one hell of a powerful and vicious political lobby that doesn't like people to say that.

You can criticize Harper - and nobody will call you anti-Canadian. You can criticize the mayor of Moncton - and nobody will call you anti-Moncton. But, oh, if you criticize the government of Israel (not Israel itself; not Israelis, not Jews of any sort. Just the government of Israel) - oh, then you're an anti-semite and probably an admirer of Hitler.

You'll have B'Nai Brith and Jewish Council, both once quite respectable and useful community organizations, vilifiying you, maybe even setting you up for a charge under anti-hate laws.  In Montreal, I spent much of my life in the Jewish community, so much that some people thought I was Jewish. But the atmosphere has changed. I still have good friends today in Montreal who are not only observant Jews, but very public zionists.  But they think the Israeli government is wrong. They think it is an oppressor. They want peace now with the Palestinians.  So they often find themselves ostracized and called anti-semites.

 Imagine, observant Jews who are zionists, some of whom are actually Israeli citizens, are denounced by the Iraeli lobby as anti-semites. (A few, like me, are even on an American list as terrorist sympathizers simply because we have criricized the government of Israel.)

Harper is playing to that powerful, Israeli lobby. He and his cabinet freely issue hate-filled statements about Moslems.  But you, even if you are yourself Jewish, dare say a word critical of Netanyahu, and you're in trouble.

I think Norbert's right. I think Israel is on a self-destructive course, one that threatens to pull the rest of us along with it. Hats off to Norbert for having the courage to say so.

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