Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19: Funny how us people think (part 2)

Sorry to be late. I was within a sentence of finishing it when the cat cleverly stepped on my keyboard, and I got a blank screen.


Firday's banner headline on page 1 bothered me. "Holocaust survivor shares emotional story". It's really an excellent story about a survivor of the death camps who gave a talk in Moncton. I knew many death camp survivors in Montreal. Some were very close friends who I loved dearly, and miss profoundly. For others, the experience had made them racist, self-centred, and time bombs of hatred. It was understandable, if not admirable, given their experience.

Mr. Phillip Riteman went into a death camp about the age of 8 or 9. There he saw all the horrors it is possible see and endure. The headline says the speech was an emotional story. I'm sure it was. I've heard many of these accounts; and the emotional reaction never leaves. But the story is much, much more than emotion.

The quotation that struck me in that report is "By love you conquer the world. By hate,  you destroy everything. You destroy yourself."

When I was head counsellor of a Jewish camp, one of my staff had a been a child prisoner in Poland, then was liberated and grew up in Israel.He despised, loathed, hated Palestinians. He saw them as an inferior race - just as Hitler saw Jews. He thought they should all be killed - just as Hitler thought all Jews should be killed. All that he learned from the death camp was to think in the same way as his captors.

But Phillip Riteman is made of different stuff. This is a real mensch. (Learn some yiddish. It's good for you.) I wish the TandT had quoted more of his speech. And yet....

.....I'm still wary of this as the banner headline, front-page story. It comes on the same day that Israeli troops are moving toward 400 killings of Palestinians, most of them civilians, many children.

From what I've read in the TandT, I like and admire Mr. Riteman. I completely agree with him. But he is on a tour. Who is paying for this? Could it possibly be the Israeli lobby paying through one of its Canadian agencies like B'Nai Brith?  The same Israeli lobby that preaches hatred of Palestinians? The lobby supported by the same Israeli government that has spent most of seventy years as jailers to Palestinians, squeezing them like animals for the slaughter into a tiny, impoverished area while it steals Palestinian land and wrecks conferences on a peaceful settlement?

And that takes us to the funny way us people think. Most people read a news story quickly, and commonly read on for only a few paragraphs. They  take away only a general idea of it. For such a person, the message of this story is not the very intelligent and compassionate position that Mr. Riteman takes.

The message is Naziis killed Jews. Therefore (this is the invisible ink our mind pick up), therefore Israelis have the right to kill Palestinians.

Oh - I know. Israel is just defending itself against rocket attacks from Hamas. Ever wonder why you never see a story that explains why Hamas is shooting rockets?

In short, I distrust the motives of the editors of the TandT in making this story at this time their banner headline.

Oh, before you shout "anti-semite", consider this. Palestinians are a semitic people. Most Israelis are not.
Anti-abortion folks, wrapped in the cloak of the Lord, are cheering that the Morgentaler Clinic is closed. They opposed abortion as being against a commandment. In fact, the commandment is much broader than that. It forbids the killing of ALL people,. So will the anti-abortionists be hustling their butts on this?

I think,, for example, of Harper and Obama cheering on the Israelis in their indiscriminate attacks on Palestine. I think of Canada sending troops to help the US in an illegal war against Afghanistan, and one that had nothing to do with us. I think of Canada sending aircraft to kill indiscriminately in Libya. I think of the US murdering millions of innocents in Vietnam. And, if dead babies and adults don't interest them, they can consider the fact that the dumping of Agent Orange so horribly deforms human embryo that most die while still babies.

Oh, sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt your prayer telling Jesus how good you've been.
Norbert was in great form on Friday, writing about the fighting in Gaza. Yes, I agree with him. But that's not why I say he's in great from. There is no name-calling, no ranting, no caricaturing. This is solidly reasoned; and the quality of writing would be a compliment to any newspaper.

He's also in good form for Saturday when he does a fine job on minimum wage laws.

I love you, Norbert.

Alec Bruce gets mad in the Friday edition. Ever hear the saying that only your best friends will tell you that your breath smells awful? Think of Alec Bruce as your best friend. Words like parochial, mean-minded, fear-mongering fill his column, and they're always linked to Atlantic Canada. Unfortunately, he left out other words that would have given us a fuller picture - unthinking and self-righteous spring to mind.

Well, sometimes it's good to let off steam.

Alas, it's even worse than Bruce says. We live in a Canada, indeed in a world, of parochial, mean-minded, fear-mongering, self-righteous, nose-in-their-own-belly-button people. Sometimes, I can't even stand myself.
Saturday has Gwynne Dyer's column. It's about the shooting down of a Malaysian Air passenger plane over Ukraine. Pay special attention to his last sentence.  "It's already ugly; and it's going to get uglier."

Obama responded with the charge this was a global tragedy. The flight carried 298 people.

You know, when Obama ran for the leadership, I thought he was a zero. But he could at least read and write - which put him miles ahead of Bush. I was wrong. Obama is a thoroughly irresponsible disaster.

This, like Gaza - is a situation that needs calmness, not battlecries. It was a global tragedy? That's certainly how it's played in the news media. Apparently, both the news media and Obama have forgotten the passenger plane of some years ago that was shot down by the US navy over the Mediterranean. He has forgotten the 300,000 innocent civilians murdered under US leadership in Guatemala, the millions killed and maimed by the US in Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan, the tens of thousands of innocent Syrians being killed by "rebels" who are really mercenaries hired, trained, and equipped by the US and Saudi Arabia.

(As a sideline, there are the thousands who die every year because the US runs out of  money to buy medication for them. It runs out because the drug companies insist on getting the full, American retail price (a grossly inflated one) for every pill they send.)

But that brings us to the "funny" way us people think.

Shooting  civilians and children on land is quite acceptable.Britain invaded and murdered in countries covering a fifth of the world. And the churches praised the empire. The American fire-bombing of Tokyo was a deliberate attack on civilians, and it killed a hundred thousand of them. Who even hears of it now?

Admiral Perry who appeared with the American fleet on the coast of Japan opened an American trade with Japan which Japan had forbidden. The school books say he did it just by appearing. Actually, he didn't just appear. He shelled defenceless coastal cities killing an unknown number of civilians.

Yep. Us people kill other people all the time in huge numbers - on land.

But read history books. Killing them when they're civilians travelling on a passenger ship - and you get some very bad press. In recent years, killing them by shooting down a civilian airliner has the same impact. It strikes an emotional response that doesn't happen when they're slaughtered on land - even though the numbers on land are usually much,  much greater.

For some reason, that sort of killing strikes a deep emotional chord in us. And the press and the politicians play to it. "World leader demand answers..."  That's nice. Odd they haven't demanded answers for the many millions we've killed on land.

"Canada calls plane shootinig a 'brutal act of terror'". Gee. Canada never called the massacre of 300,000 Guatemalans a brutal act of terror. Not even when one was a Canadian lay missionary. It never called the killing of over a million Iraqis an act of terror.

(I have no idea whether the Ukraine killing was an act of terror. Nor does anybody in Ottawa have any idea. But it plays well on the emotions.)

This is the kind of incident that touches a deep, emotional chord in us so that we can be manipulated into a war.

I think that's why Dyer says "'s going to get uglier."



  1. That's quite a gap in there! Keyboard get away from you?

    While I agree with you on the gist, two things are worth mentioning. For anti abortion protestors, I don't think its necessarily true to say that such a stand is unjustifiable or logicially inconsistent simply because said protestor hasn't added the caveat ".....but I also protest any government intervention in the world which has killed people as well".

    That would make it impossible to say virtually anything about any topic. Pro choice supporters would be deplorable because 'they are only speaking out for the rights of women and not the rights of indiginous people or whales or mother earth or insert your pet claim here'. It sort of parrallels our conversation about Chomsky where a main argument against him is that he's talking about issue X, and not talking about issue Y. I know lots of people who are against abortion and probably don't lose much sleep over the clinic closing, I suspect my own father would be one of them, but that hardly means he's a supporter of any kind of military operation anywhere (though he may be).

    Anybody who wants to criticize these anti choice protestors actually has the most powerful semantic weapon at their disposal. Access to abortion is a federal regulation. New Brunswick is disobeying a federal regulation, which means New Brunswick is breaking our national social contract. If they are refusing federal laws, then why should you or anybody else not refuse provincial laws?

    Those who support this move are anarchists. They advocate breaking the social contract and federal regulations 'just because they don't like them'. They are worse anarchists than those protesting shale gas, most of whom did so legitimately. These people are committing one of the highest federal crimes-treason. What if tomorrow I said "well, murder is a federal law, but I don't agree with it, I'm going to go shoot somebody". Is it more legitimate if a provincial government does it?

    The bigger news story on that issue is the absence of Brian Gallant, who only sent a representative to give a statement saying "we'll look into it". Its unfortunate that the election is so soon, because finally there's a youth issue which the NDP has a statement on, and while I'm not a fan of the NB NDP, its worth noting that it was youth movements in Nova Scotia which won them the campaign. I don't know that the NDP has the talent or the time to capitalize on it, particularly since Charles Leblanc pointed out that the protestors didn't even know where the legislature was, so the idea that they would vote may be a spurious one.

    As for Obama, I'm no fan of his either, but at least he chose his words much more carefully than Canada did. He called it a tragedy, which it clearly was.

  2. the argument for closing the clinic was always based on one point - that the fetus is human and, therefore, by biblical commandment, cannot be killed.

    I have not objection to people protesting against abortion (or anything else). But I expect them to show integrity and at least a little bit of courage.

    If abortion is wrong because it involves killing a human, then all forms of killing humans are wrong. But those same people are, at most, silent about the killing that is going on all over the world.

    That is hypocrisy. And it confirms my impression from the Faith Page of the TandT that Moncton is knee deep in hypocrites.. (In which respect it is not much different from any other city I have seen.)

    As for Obama, yes, he chose his words carefully. He said the killing of 289 airline passengers was a global tragedy. He said that while at the same time, and without evidence, blamed Russia for it. That does not strike me as being a whole lot different from what Baird said.

    Incidentally, from the start, the North American press has been almost unanimous in blaming Russia for the incident. How is that possible? It takes a long study by many experts to determine the cause of such a crash.

    So far, there has been no study at all.

    Did Putin do it? I should think that very unlikely. He is the one who stands to lose most by it.

    Was it done by Russian-speaking Ukrainians? Possibly. I don't know. And Obama doesn't know. If it was,how many millions of innocents do we kill to avenge the 289?

    Was it done by the US government? It has the most to gain from this. And it has already fought for fifty years and killed millions on the basis of lies. Remember Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction"?

    Obama made his "carefully worded" speech on the same day that a couple of hundred innocent Palestinians . including something well over a hundred women and children were killed by Israeli troops. But he didn't call that a tragedy of any kind. It was a day that hundreds of Syrians were killed by mercenaries paid for and trained by the US. But he didn't mention that as a tragedy, either. He's very selective in his tragedies.

  3. I was just going by your quote, I didn't actually read or hear what Obama said, I just saw your reference which didn't include any mention of Russia, so, yeah, my mistake, but thats why I wish you'd have more quotes on things you are talking about. Legally you are allowed to cut and paste entire paragraphs if the purpose is criticism, so again, just as a reminder, probably a good percentage of your audience doesn't actually read the Irving papers. Its virtually the only newspaper chain which is completely behind a firewall.

    I understood your point about the abortion protestors, I just don't agree with it. I'll repeat my example, which is that the reason pro choice supporters argue in favour is because its a question of 'rights'. Yet meanwhile, there are other 'rights' which they are not talking about, for example, new brunswick is the only province where 'begging' is against the law, that is an infringement on their rights. Yet these protestors 'seem fine' with the idea that their government infringes on the rights of the poor.

    I don't make that argument because they are two separate issues. If you are talking about specific things you are seeing in the newspaper, I can't comment on that because I don't know what they are.

    However, even in such plain cases it is still a 'logical argument'. There is a whole theory behind 'justifiable killing' and even a 'just war' theory. So people CAN easily hold most views. Its important to note as well that many of the people commenting about abortion are merely against the idea of TAXPAYERS having to pay for it, not against abortion itself, which takes away the whole aspect of violence. So anyway, IMHO, thats a specious argument, whereas the anarchy and social contract argument is simply a statement of fact. It IS a federal regulation. As I said on the CBC comments, hopefully these women will start another fundraiser to restart Morgentaler's legal challenge.

  4. Well, the commandment that they draw on says Thou shalt not kill. (And we presume that means people.)
    So why do we assume that means only unborn fetuses? I can understand them fighting only one kind of killing at a time. But, in fact, that one kind is the only kind they object to. They actively support other kinds of killing.

    I didn't realize that begging was actually illegal here. I'm accustomed to begging since it's very common in Montreal. But I guess I'm not surprised to see it illegal here. New Brunswickers, with the aid of the their politicians and news media, have a habit of blaming the poor for being poor. I've even seen editorial opinion blaming the poor for causing the recession. It's the result, I guess, of the habit of seeing life from the point of view of a particularly self-righteous villager.

  5. I've debated abortion with a fair number of people, and actually the commandment rarely comes up. Like I said, if you go to the CBC comments section and look at the over 700 comments, its far more common to see people complain about the taxpayer status of abortion. The next common point is NOT that its 'killing', but that its killing an unborn and defenceless 'person'.

    A person can 'object' in numerous ways. There are the very active abortion protestors who regularly hit the legislature, and which is why this current situation exists, but a lot of 'objection' is simply people writing on blogs or just saying 'I don't like it'. There is also the point that in war and the world in general, the 'ends justify the means'. So people dying in Afghanistan isn't a sufficient reason to protest 'killing' if it results in whatever said person thinks it does, which is why democratic countries make a point of saying they are going to war for perfectly wonderful reasons and any civilian casualties are 'unintentional'. In short, propaganda exists to delude people into thinking their government is on the side of angels and that any 'killing' is unintentional or somebody elses fault. Obviously I don't agree with that foolishness, but IF you believe that, then you are not being inconsistent in opposing abortion-although of course lots of people are inconsistent in applying logic.

    I wouldn't go quite that far in blaming New Brunswickers because like you, I suspect few New Brunswickers are aware, and even less are aware that the courts have recognized it as free speech. It is mostly the business commmunity and some organizations which push this on communities. Back when Saint John was the second city to pass a bylaw on it, the Fredericton Police made a presentation to the Saint John council saying just how wonderful a bylaw it was. It was then passed even though Saint John's own legal staff as well as three councillors informed them that it would never pass a constitutional challenge. But they figured that those being charged wouldn't know, or even have the funds, to launch such a challenge. So for hypocrisy, you can just imagine 59 men who sit in the legislature and begin each session with the lord's prayer, all while this is going on. Say what you want about Jesus, how he felt about the poor was pretty obvious.

    Mind you, on The Daily Show, they showed american citizens actually blockading buses filled with central american children who were coming into the country to find their parents, one woman was yelling "Jesus would have gotten a job!"

    Even as Fredericton is now trying other alternatives, it seems Moncton is thinking of passing its own specific bylaw making it illegal. Even in the US there are no states which are that draconian, so like the abortion issue, it makes NB look like some alien, cruel planet.

    While its not my fault such a law exists, I know about it and should do more to get it out there. I did have a website for awhile, now that I'm feeling more guilty about it, I should at least get the website back up and at least doing something, otherwise, from experience we know that NB is perfectly happy to stay looking like its living in the 1800's.

    Any people in Moncton should contact their councillor, I"m not sure whether its been voted on or not, I know they were thinking about it in the spring.

    But PS, there have actually been SEVERAL media stories on panhandling, both in Irvings rags AND the CBC, and in NEITHER case did they inform the public that courts in every other province have recognized that begging is a protected form of free speech, so again, while there are no doubt plenty of NBers who would round up and deport the poor, most aren't aware of the issue or the context. But I won't lie, years ago I contacted several churches, not many, but a couple, to try to get this issue out there, and the response was non existent.

  6. I can see that there is a lot of piling on by politicians and media on the Ukraine air disaster. Baird is quite the manly man, growling about how mean the Russians are. it's all very depressing. No big media people are saying anything intelligent, just endlessly repeating the company line.

  7. That's true, almost always, about politicians, however, while the media coverage of Israel is incredibly one sided, I did see a few media articles on Ukraine that were asking questions about the 'evidence' or lack thereof.
    What is really sad is what toadies the media are-even as Harper shuts them out, every time his government opens their mouth, they run to cover it. Since he gave an embargo on giving public statements, the media should refuse to advertise every time his government makes a pronouncement (or at least question it).