Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jan. 4, 2014: If people want to know how cold it is....... don't hold up a picture of cold. In fact, there is not such thing as a picture of cold. So you tell them the temperature.

Unless you work for the Irving press.

It seems to have a tradition of wasting space in Section A with a regular page of pictures  that tell us nothing. Today, it's page A5, with pictures of cold. Enjoy.

Almost all the rest of Section is a waste of time - police station news (which costs little to get), trivia...
But two stories looked as though they had possibilities.

A2 has a story on the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Alas! Like most political news stories it has no meaning for anyone who lacks a a basic understanding of how this all happened. Why is there such friction between most (not all) Israelis and most (not all) Moslems?

The answer is us - you and me. I"ll  return to this if I have space at the end of this post.

Then there was a story on changes in the high school curriculum. It's a long article, consisting heavily of statements by Education Minister Jody Carr. Unfortunately, she seems to speak only bafflegab, and the reporter, like most Irving reporters, made not the slightest attempt to convert it into any useful meaning at all.

So passeth Section A.
NewsToday has a big story on an American senator who has dual (American/Canadian) citizenship. He wants to get rid of his Canadian citizenship.


Who cares?

And that pretty well skims the cream of NewsToday.

The editorial is about - wait for it - light bulbs.

Bill Beliveau assures us that if he were a political leader, he would lead with facts. Gee! Does that mean most of our leaders lead with lies? If so, could be please name them - and tell us what the lies are?

As it is, his column simply tells us things we already know, and have already been told by the politicians. And, like them, he completely ignores the role of the rich who avoid taxes and who also hit us for special deals like loans, grants, etc.

Norbert tells us the world is the most peaceful it has ever been. And I think I know where he got that crock. A Montrealer, now teaching in the US, wrote a book that, like more than a few academic books, was written to make him famous. In it, he claimed the world is actually getting more and more peaceful than it has ever been.

There are just two problems with that.

1. There are no reliable statistics of how many wars the world has had throughout history, or of how many have been killed. Even for a recent war like Vietnam, I've seen figures between 2 million and nine million. What are the real figures for World War 1? Who knows? We have a pretty good idea of how many soldiers died in that war. But only the vaguest idea how many civilians died because of the war. Ditto for the century of chaos and starvation we caused in China.

And the older the war gets, the less reliable our figures.

2. There isn't even agreement about what a war death is. If a person dies because the hospital that could have saved him was bombed out a few weeks earlier, is he a war death? Many official figures say no. When US drones and assassination squads kill people, are these war deaths? No - because no war has been declared. When people die because US sanctions have cut off food and essential medicines for them, are these war deaths? No.When babies, even today, die because of horrible defects still caused by Agent Orange, are they war deaths? No.

When masses of native peoples were deliberately allowed to starve to death in the 1880s, were those war deaths? I've never seen them recorded as such.

Oh - and our wars now carry the high probability of leading to nuclear war. I don't think that's a sign things are getting better and better.

I know you like reading books, Norbert. Now, learn to use your own head, too.

Norbert goes on to trivialize the damage caused by espionage. He says - yawn - everybody does it. Oh, well, that makes it okay.

Oh, as for the Pope, big news for you Norbert. Despite your scorn, the Pope DID say something different during the holiday season that his predecessors didn't say. For the first time, he singled out the US for its aggression and brutality. That's different from anything you or your paper (or your Faith page) have ever said. It's a hell of a lot more than I have heard from the Protestant churches.

(Today's faith page has a gem of silliness. Heaven, it seems, is a place where we will be laughing and playing all the time. I have no idea where that information comes from. Neither, I bet, does the minister who wrote it.)

Brent Mazerolle is, as  usual, trivial. It's all about how cold weather is - you know - cold.

The only item in the whole paper worth reading is the final opinion column which comes from the Dean of the school of Public Health at University of the city of Los Angeles. (UCLA). This is intelligent, informed and well written.

Okay - our role in creating hatred between Jews and Moslems.

When Hitler came to power, Canada was already one of the most racist and anti-semitic countries in the world. We were right up there with the US. Indeed, there were leading businessmen in both Canada and the US who were willing and even eager to support Hitler with money and propaganda in his hatred of Jews.  (And we shall politely forget New Brunswick's and Nova Scotia's (especially Nova Scotia's) shameful history of anti-African behaviour - Canada's equivalent of the deep south.)

Anti-semitism in Canada began with the large immigration of Jews that began about 1890. Earlier, the Jews in Canada had been tolerated because they were too few to hate, and they were of the gentlemanly class.

But from 1890 on, they were poor and prominently so as they packed the slums of Canadian cities. And this also came at a time when Darwin's theory of evolution was encouraging the notion that some people (especially us white ones who spoke English) had evolved into a higher type than others. Similar thinking spread across Europe, through France, The Netherlands, Germany, Eastern Europe, Russia. Winston Churchill, a young man in the 1890s was, like most British of his time and class, a raving racist. That's why he wrote his history series (that captivated me when I was fourteen), The History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

In Canada, the finest and best-educated people became anti-foreigner in general, and anti-Jewish in particular. In Canada, the most socially-concerned and even saintly politician ever produced in this country wrote a book about the threat of immigration of inferior types - especially the immigration of Jews. It is titled "Strangers Within our Gates" (1909).

Its anti-semitism caught the popular mood in Canada as businessmen who had once accepted at least      wealthy Jews now shunned them. Yacht clubs and other sporting clubs, well into recent times, refused to accept them. Landlords refused to rent to Jews of any income level. Rental signs, again well into the 1960s, commonly specified "Select clientele only". That meant no Jews, no Africans, no orientals.

In Quebec, where all public schools were either Catholic or Protestant, Catholic schools refused to accept Jewish children. Protestant schools accepted them, though with no great enthusiasm. However, it was slower to accept Jewish teachers. (It also refused to accept African teachers until about 1960.)

Things got tougher in the 1930s. Even before the rise of Hitler, Canada's department of immigration (with the full support of the prime minister and both the Liberal and Conservative parties) effectively banned Jewish immigration to Canada.

Some, by paying hefty bribes, could come here. I knew such a family; and the cost was the equivalent of several years' pay. But most were turned back.

Just before the war, a boatload of German Jews managed to get out, and appeared in Canadian waters seeking refuge. The Canadian government ordered them out though, by then, it was well known what Hitler was doing. President Roosevelt also denied them entry. And so they were returned, to be met by police who would take them to the camps.

During the war, some 200 Jewish children were spirited out of Germany to Spain. The Spanish government would not accept them, but would allow them to go to another country if one would accept them. By then, both Canadian and American governments knew what the fate of those children would be in Germany. And both said no.

When Canada agreed to take in British children to escape the bombing, it specified that it would not accept any Jewish children, not even if they were British born.

For an excellent book on Canada's treatment of Jews in the Nazi era,  read Irving Abella and Harold Troper, "None is too Many".

At the end of the war, when everybody knew about the horror of the death camps, Canada still refused to accept Jews.  The only difference  between us and Hitler is that Hitler actively murdered Jews. We let Hitler do it for us.

Nor were Jews welcome anywhere in Europe. When Dutch Jews returned home, they were presented with tax bills for missed payments during the years they were in death camps. So what to do with them?

Some Jews who had advocated Zionism, a return to what they considered the Jewish homeland, were already active in slipping into what it now Israel, and pioneering terrorist warfare, directed mostly at the British who were in control of it by conquest in World War 1.

It's not likely that many European Jews had any great desire to go to Israel. Jews were already living in the region, and  had been for millenia, living on good terms with Moslems. But the Jews who had been living in peace all those years with their Moslem neighbours were Sephardic Jews. They had never lived in Europe except in small numbers. They were very different from the Ashkenazi Jews who lived in Europe, had few to no roots in the Middle East, and who even looked markedly different from the Sephardics.

World leaders had decades earlier promised European Jews a land of their own. But neither they nor most of the Jews had thought of modern Israel as that land.  (There were much more attractive places to go.) In any case, the world's political powers had no right to give what is now Israel to anybody. It wasn't theirs. It belonged to the Sephardic Jews and the Moslems who lived there.

But there were a lot of Jewish refugees. And they had to go somewhere. And that somewhere could not, absolutely not, be in Canada or the US - despite the huge areas available in both.

So we forced them on Israel.  Moslems saw this as the western powers creating a state made up of what were really Europeans, and one that would serve as a base to restore western power in the middle east. And the Moslems were right.

That's where the anger and hatred and violence came from. We in the western world did it. And we did it for the same reason Hitler murdered Jews - because we would not accept them.

There are columnists who will babble about how Islam is a naturally hating and murderous faith. That's part of the campaign to make us hate Moslems so government can justify spying on us, destroying democracy, and invading Moslem states that have oil.

Moslems and Jews lived together for many, many years. It was us who made them hate each other. We fought World War Two for several reasons. But saving Jews was not one of them.


  1. Pictures of cold? I would prefer to see a picture of God.

  2. I'm trusting that its a typo or a weird joke that you call Jody Carr 'she'.

    I like your criticisms for the most part, but it would be nice to see a little more context than 'this is a waste of is this'. Most of us don't actually read it, so a lot of the time its unclear what you are talking about.

    I also think its a bit of a stretch to be saying 'we' in the western world. As if 'we' created the problems in Israel, or were racist against jews. I can appreciate holding people responsible in some ways for what their government is doing, but what it did fifty years ago? Its a stretch to even say it of Canada, but to say that 'we' are those 'in the west', really stretches. Canada played little role in settling jews after the war. And you really can't fault a new brunswick daily for not giving a history of the middle east in each story, its not a journal.

  3. Ah, your professorial style of writing brings back memories of so much that I disliked about universities....

    1. Sorry about forcing a gender change on Jody Carr. It happened because as I wrote that I was thinking about the Judy who wrote the excellent column on health care.

    2.The point of the blog is not only to say that TandT is a bad paper - but to show why it is. If you know of a way I can do that without referring to the articles, please share your wisdom with me.

    3. It is quite common (among us common people) to use we as I did. I suppose I should have said your mummies and daddies - but I thought that, too, would raise objections.
    My point was the problem and the hatred were western made. And I did not say it was just the fault of our government. It acted as it did because the Canadian people were in agreement. Canada was profoundly racist. Not many Canadians know that. They should.

    I should add that I had some personal experience of anti-semitism. i worked for the YMHA one summer - and so I commonly wore a YMHA T shirt with a big star of David on it. One day I visited a lake that was cottage country for Montreal's wealthiest anglos. There, I joined a game of softball - wearing my T shirt.

    That night there was an emergency meeting of the lake's property owners, Montreal's best families, to find out who had invited the Jew to the lake.

    4. You're quite right that Canada played little role in settling Jews after the war. That's because the Canadian people didn't do anything, and didn't want to. Their major concern was keeping Jews out of Canada.

    5. I don't fault a new brunswick daily for not giving a history of the middle east in each story. That kind of information to help us understand the news is what opinion columns are supposed to be for.
    I fault a new brunswick daily for using most of its opinion columns instead for trivial story-telling, half-baked opinions, and propaganda pieces to please the boss.

    Incidentally, racism is still alive and well in Canada. African-Canadians are NOT equal. You probably have not noticed it - but they have. Native peoples are still subject to racism - as a recent Conservative flier indicated. Quebec's attempt to define and enforce its "cultural values" is an intellectual farce and, essentially, an act of racism to be used not only against the English "race", but against Haitians and Moslems as well.

    You might also want to check out the racial composition of our prisons.

  4. Dude, relax:) What I said was you should give more context to the articles you are discussing, not less. You only refer to them, you don't actually refer to anything IN them, which means your criticisms often don't work nearly as well as they could. Some quotes would be helpful.

  5. dude?

    How very sixties! So you, too, are retired.

    In fact, I often quote items to illustrate my point. However, it's often hard to quote when there is really nothing there. In any case, the article is there. and, if, as you say, nobody reads that paper anyway, then why are they reading a blog about it?
    p.s. don't use "quotes" as a noun.

  6. No, I use dude in the 1860's form, I'm actually not even hitting my bicentenary year.

    I didn't say NOBODY reads the paper, I said anybody who actually pays for the paper, which is virtually everybody who reads it, isn't likely to also be spending their time reading a blog about how bad it is (it begs the next question...why would they pay to read it?).

    For those equally as critical as you, its helpful to know what to be critical about. I'm not about to pay to read the thing, but from your blog I don't even get an idea of what it is you are complaining about usually.

    And seriously, I see why they say that those on the left are their own worst enemies. Heck, I even said I agreed with almost everything you said and all you've done is insult me.

    And PS, 'quotes' has been recognized as informal english for over a hundred years, being short for 'quotations'. Surely somebody who uses 'we' any way they want wouldn't object to somebody else using informal english. And you called my short comment professorial??


    And PPS, while there is an argument to be made for individual responsibility in an open society, by your logic 'we' are responsible for all of the hatred and violence in the world because 'we' are not forcing our government to do something about it.

    There is a big difference between institutional racism, and popular racism. The eugenics movement in both canada and rest of 'the west' was largely run by elites. Irish immigrants may not have got along with swedish immigrants for a variety of reasons, but they weren't based on racist notions of superiority.

    There is a reason why there is virtually no written record of the residential school's genocidal policies, because they were hidden from society. Canadians may have been racist against natives, but they still weren't clamouring at their elected officials to exterminate them.

    If we lived in a democratic society where we all voted on policy matters then it would make sense to say 'we' when talking about government policies. Its pretty apparant right now just how little canadian's views matter when it comes to policies of their government.

    I doubt many would disagree there is racism in Canada, heck, in english canada its a national pastime to hate quebecers, and in quebec its a 'national' pastime to hate everybody else. When that falls short, virtually anytime natives do anything then the racism comes front and center.

    But thats different from institutional racism, where you have a canadian media fascinated with 'black pete' in holland, yet not a word about the blackface increasingly in use in canada.

    While the population may have racist views, they aren't out there calling up MP's to make sure natives live in third world conditions or that native women keep disappearing with little police interest. Its true 'we' aren't carrying billboards in front of MP's offices demanding the opposite, but thats certainly been tried, usually with little effect.

    Its pretty well known now that the neo nazi movement out west in the eighties was pretty much a construct of the RCMP. They couldn't find enough people to be even marginally racist enough to do anything.

    So I disagree with the notion that the populations racism led to, or influenced governmental policies. If anything it is the reverse, it usually takes something catastrophic like 9/11 for people to even raise issues of nationalism, and its government policies against those minorities which single them out and create much of the racism.

  7. Well, you will find very, very few people of minority "races" in this country who will agree with. My experience was largely with African Canadians (especially those who fled to Montreal to escape the intense racism of the maritimes. It was also heavily with Jews - and some with native peoples. They were very aware that they had experienced racism - and still experience it.

    Oh, and I should add I had experience of it as a member of a minority. I was an anglo who grew up in a French district. Ever have your flat invaded by neighbours? Every have your church stoned, and the windows smashed? Ever go for a quiet walk with three friends, and end up with your backs to a house facing a mob of hundreds who want to beat the shit out of you because you're English? Ever sit with a premier of Quebec who pours out his hatred of you with tales of how rich us English are? While his father died after a life of hard work leaving an estate of only a quarter million. He wouldn't believe, of course, that my father worked hard, too, and left an estate well under, way under, a quarter million. In fact, anyone who knows how to read a census would be able to learn that the Anglos were distinct only for having so many at the bottom of the working class. That's why Montreal has a rich history of anglo gangsters - the Irish mob (docks), the Jewish mob (gambling), the West End Gang (drugs and banks).

    But you do raise an important question early on. If the people who read my blog already know that the irving press is terrible, and don't read it, why should I waste my time, plug up my life, and make enemies to write the blog?

    I wish I knew the answer.

    The closest I can come is that those who are opposed to the intellectual and moral vacuum that this province is need to feel they aren't alone.

    It has to change because there is no limit to how bad it will get under the present regime.

    If you see another purpose I should have, I would - quite earnestly - be happy to hear it.

    As to my harsh tone, it was a response to yours. Your tone was arrogant and bullying. That's how i guessed you were an academic.

    However, if you have suggestions for a broader or different purpose for the blog, I would be most interested in reading it.

    Oh- I'm aware that words change meaning over the years. The trouble with that is that they soon lose any meaning held in common - or even lose any meaning at all - left, right, conservative, liberal...oh -and "parameters".

    And I also think it's a big mistake to gloss over our history, and just pick out the nice parts.

    In summing, I'm not much interested in being lectured. But I am most interested in any suggestions you might make.

  8. Dude, I MADE an innocent suggestion, in a comment that was only three paragraphs long. So where was the 'bullying'?

    Then you go on to say that you don't like academics, but want those 'opposed to the intellectual vacuum in New Brunswick' to not feel alone. Man that is one weird way to promote solidarity. Your blog is basically "I don't like academics and being here is my academic lecture". I have to say, the tendency to give lectures, and not like to hear them...well, you don't find a much better definition of 'professorial' than that.

    As for racism, I now live in a community where 'white' is the minority. I have DOZENS of immigrant friends, and many native ones as well, and NONE disagree with me, in fact my thinking was largely formed by talking to them (and no, I don't face gangs of them because I am white and anglo, so what does that tell you?).

    I certainly didn't say that there is no such thing as racism outside of government policies, but there is a pretty clear history of WHY french people in Montreal held animosity for the english, and it wasn't because they felt that they were racially superior. You basically proved my point for me with your example, so thanks for that. As for african canadians, why not go ask a group of them who gives them more trouble- white racist gangs made up of civilians....or the police.

    So again, here is my simple suggestion : Your blog is called "good and bad: the moncton transcript", yet the ONLY thing you don't have is any in depth criticism of the Irving press, the ONE thing that anybody who reads that title would be looking for.

    Ironically, you are doing Irving a big favour, because if anybody wants to have any idea what you are talking about...they have to actually go out and buy the paper! So Alec Bruce's article is worth reading....well, I guess I should go buy the Irving paper in order to read it! You are quite literally 'lecturing' to people who have just finished reading the Irving paper, and TELLING them which parts of the paper its ok for them to like.

    So just maybe, instead of - or even in addition to, giving a hugely long lecture on native studies or racism, you could actually say WHY those articles are good and bad, with, like I said, a couple of quotes. Thats all my first comment said....some quotes would be helpful.

    And oh, I"m pretty sure that 'quotes' as a noun is in no danger of losing its common meaning.

    Anyway, its a shame it denigrated to being so critical, because I only had one minor thing to say. I got your blog listing from the progressive blog list, so I read many of the same sources you do, and like you I'm disgusted with how bad the Irving monopoly is and that NBers are subjected to such bad media (although other places aren't a whole lot better). On a more positive note, I think you should join the media co op in New Brunswick and post your articles there. Since one of your main themes seems to be what is lacking in Irvings press, at least your blog would be available to people who are looking for alternative media.

  9. re racism - you simply don't have a clue what you are talking about. I grew up in a setting in which certain groups were barred access to institutions because of perceived genetic differences.

    Blacks were not admitted to "white" nightclubs. Black entertainers were not allowed to speak to white customers. Ritzy hotels did not accept Blacks or orientals. One of my closest friends was put into a concentration camp at the age of six because he was Japanese-Canadian.

    African Canadian women were excluded from jobs in offices or as clerks in stores. Ditto for the men.

    As for anti-semitism, I listed a book on the subject which you obviously haven't bothered to read.

    And do you have even a clue about the depths of racism in Nova Scotia? Even today?

    As to your tone, I recognized you immediately as an academic of the more obnoxious sort. And, it seems, I was right.

    My sympathy to your students.