Monday, January 6, 2014

Jan.6: When the going gets tough...

...the powerful pick on the weak...

Some months ago, Harper announced a general get tough policy on Native Peoples. You may have read of it through fliers distributed through his flunky mps. And I'm sure it had nothing to do with native people protesting against his oil and mining industry plans. Now, the great man has made his move.

A Cree group, the O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi First Nation, is being audited for its spending. Read all (or a bit) about it on C1, "Manitoba First Nation audited for loans and staff payments". (Actually, the audit has been going on for a  couple of years. Odd the government never mentioned it. Odd the press never even knew about it.)

Our Aboriginal Affairs minister says "We will not tolerate the abuse of tax dollars."

Right. We could play games and lie and stall when the abuse was carried out by senators and Conservative party insiders. We could slap Mulroney on the wrist for his corruption. We could ignore 47 dead at Lac Megantic. But, hey, the core group of righteous Conservatives will not tolerate that behaviour from native peoples.

And who are these desperadoes we're tracking down at great expense? (and will we get a report on the connection between the federal Conservatives and this auditing firm? And on the fees for the audit?)

The story doesn't mention it; but O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi number some 475 people. None of them is over 79.Of those 475 people, only 65 have full-time, year-long jobs. Of the 285 families,115 had a total income per year of less than $5,000. Another 45 had 5,000 to 10,000.

Few had post-secondary school training of any sort.

Of the 130 dwellings, 95 needed major repairs.

None of this was in the news story - though it was a simple matter of looking it up in the census. In the same way, it would have been a simple matter to track any connection between the auditing firm and the Conservative party. Reporters really should learn that they are not simply stenographers. They're also supposed to question, to do just a little bit of research. That makes a big difference in our ability to get meaning out of the news.

This story also illustrates another point. The reserve system as it is was intended to segregate native peoples until they integrated with us. It's not working. It's not going to work. And every time we try to inflict more of being like us on them, the worse the situation gets.

What happened to native peoples is that they were colonialized. Their traditions and values were shattered. That is a process that conquering peoples have spread over the whole world. Their justification, usually, has been that they are spreading civilization. You can read about it in the Kipling poem "Take up the White Man's burden".

To get the poem, just Google Take up the White Man's Burden. Kipling wrote it in praise of the US invasion of The Phillipines just over a century ago. That's where the US helped the people by killing half to two-thirds of them, and introduced the torture of water-boarding.

It's also racist. The assumption is that the conquerors are racially superior, so they have a right to do whatever they like to inferior peoples - and are justified in killing large numbers of them in order to civilize the survivors. That's a message that pours (unconciously) out of history books like Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples. (Churchill was as racist as they come.)

The result is almost always the same. The conquered people are shattered, and take centuries to adjust to the new situation. Slavery and its racism are still forces to be dealt within the US though slavery was abolished about a hundred and fifty years ago. The chaos we now see in Africa and most of Asia is the result of our shattering of those societies  for two centuries and more.

That is what created what we call "extreme" Islam. That is what created - and still creates - terrorism.

It also creates poverty. Poverty is not the result of stupidity, and is only rarely the result of laziness. There is no evidence that the rich have higher intelligence than the rest of us.

The Irvings are born into families in which excellent education is a normal expectation. Result, they get more education than the average person. But I know of no evidence they have superior - or even average - brains. It's simply the world they grow up in.

That's why a low-grade intelligence combined with alcoholism and drug use did not prevent George Bush from getting a master's degree in business administration, and then becoming president - even though he was close to illiterate.

The child growing up in poverty usually grows up with no expectations of success and, as a result, continues to be poor for life.

The conquest and the reserve system that followed it shattered lives that had been, and replaced them with separation, isolation, and poverty. The results should have been foreseeable.

The reserve system doesn't work. For a start, most reserves are far too small to permit native pride and conciousness to recover. And Native power is far too limited for them to set their destinies - and they do have to set them. We have over two centuries of proof that we can't do it.

But Mr. Harper's not going to do that. He's going to get tough. And that way,  he'll continue to get the vote of every moron (including the rich ones) in Canada.
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The editorial is the  usual, half-wit idea about how to make Moncton big and rich in just one move. Steve Malloy's column is a useful corrective to that sort of nonsense.

Alec Bruce's column is well worth reading, too.  And Malloy and Bruce are the only two items in the whole paper worth reading.

P.S. For Malloy and others - the new Disney film, The Snow Princess, is the film I knew was coming for a long time - but never expected to see. The makers were well aware they were breaking new ground. that's why it starts with Disney's original Mickey Mouse flick - Steamboat Willie.

The Snow Princess is not a great film - despite some superior 3D work.  It's the scenery and the actors who are the breakthrough. The scenery is stunning - and all in animation - and it beats the real thing. Some of the characters are simply the usual cartoon figures - and deliberately so.

But others are more real that real ones in their clothing, facial features, expressions, clothing texture.

We are very close to the film that doesn't need real people or real scenery on screen.

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