Monday, January 12, 2015

Jan. 12: Matthew 7:5

Today, the Irving press joined the stampede of hypocrisy over the Paris shootings. It's all over the editorial and op ed pages in a massive display of ignorance, racism, and irresponsibility. And Alec Bruce leads the charge. And this time, it's dangerous because they've missed what this issue has become.

(The editorial says nothing but to babble about the new high school. They don't seem to have an editorial writer who has ever even heard of a world beyond Champlain Mall.)

We are being led into a very dangerous situation, terminally dangerous. The news media are being manipulated into creating that dangerous situation. They babble about freedom of speech. But freedom of speech is not the issue. We are being manipulated by our own racism. And we are likely to pay one hell of a price for that.

And our news media have utterly failed to give us the information we need. So let's take it in stages.

1. Whenever one society interferes with another, you get a social breakdown in one of them. In the early  to mid-19th century, Turkey eagerly tried to westernize. It encouraged trade with Europe, copied European economics, built European-style universities It tried passionately to become European.

The result was a Turkey that, by late nineteenth century, was called "the sick man of Europe". It was broke. Its traditional society, its craft-based economy, had been shattered with disastrous effects on the lives of ordinary families. The people were lost in a strange world in which none of the values they had been raised had any meaning. And this was in a country that wanted to be European.

China went through a similar experience, and descended into a chaos of starvation, poverty,abuse, civil wars - often just wars of bandit gangs supported by the western powers - heavily dependent of opium which Britain had forced on them. It took China a century to even start on the road back, another half-century to get where it is now, and it still has a long way to go before its people feel they are a society again.

It is quite possible, even probable, that the US is facing such a breakdown. this one a breakdown caused by racism (black, hispanic) and class privilege (the super-rich above everybody else). It is very, very close.

There are examples of this all over the world- as with native peoples in Canada and the US. Often, the experience will drive people to religious extremes - as it did with the French Catholics in Quebec after the British conquest. Until the mid-nineteenth century and later, schools were organized by religion; the churches ran hospitals, child welfare programmes, social programmes of all sort. No Quebec government would have dreamed of passing legislation without first getting the approval of the Catholic bishops.

2. Us. For centuries, the west had the advantage of being way ahead in industrialization, global transport, weaponry, military skills. It used that power to destroy societies and values of the rest of the world. (They called it bringing civilization.) They didn't give a damn about the people. They didn't. And we don't. And the reason we don't is..

3. racism. All western leaders I have ever heard of were openly racist. (Yes, that includes Abraham Lincoln. He freed the slaves. But he would never dream of letting his daughter marry one.) They were racist. Most of them still are. And we are.

That's why the US could kill over a million Muslims in Iraq, men, women and children, and destroy everything those people needed to live on - and we didn't care. They could murder a quarter million Guatemalan civilians - and it didn't even make the news. Nor do I recall candlelight vigils when French troops were torturing and murdering in Vietnam, Tunisia and Algeria.

We are racists. We are smug about it. We  lie to ourselves about it. But we are racists. Either that, or I missed the columns when Alec Bruce ever called the Americans or French, or Dutch, or British (or us) barbarians. He has never called us obscene. And, irony of ironies for a man who writes for the Irving press, he babbles about our commitment to freedom of the press.

And de Adder's cartoon is a sample of righteous anger at this attack on the freedom of cartoonists? I must have missed his cartoon about the Irvings. I must have missed the one about American slaughters of innocent people all over the world. I must h ave missed the ones about Canadian mines that abuse people in other countries, work them as worse than slave labour, and kill them on a whim.

What a collection of ignorant, racist and/or gutless hypocrites!

I have no doubt some people will read this and say I am supporting extremists. In fact, I have not said anything about the extremists. What I'm saying is we ALL have the flaw of being open to extremism and we have ALL do it.

4. The issue is freedom of speech? Oh. So how come we have not condemned Canada's language laws which we call laws against hate speech? And if we have freedom to speak, how come people who say the wrong things can go to jail? And if our news media have freedom of speech, how come they all sound pretty much the same?

Did the US allow free speech in Vietnam? in Iraq? in Afghanistan? in Guatemala? Did France allow it in Tunisia?  In Indo-China? In Algeria? If not, (and they most certainly did not) why didn't we hear about it?

5. Craig Babstock offers a column, again on free speech, but even sillier and shallower. He talks about the importance of satire and the right to satire. Well, we all like satire. But we only like the kind of satire that we agree with. A satirist plays to an audience that already agrees with him.

If you don't think so, try doing a standup comedy sketch about Jews in Belsen - and do it in a synagogue. In fact, we have laws against that.

The cartoonists should not have been killed. But let's not kid ourselves about what they did. Their satire wasn't just making fun of people. If I were to call Craig Babcock a half-wit, that would not be satire. It would simply be an insult. In the Charlie cartoons, I have yet to find any satire. There are only insults, and insults publicly thrown at a whole society.  Tell you what, draw a cartoon of Muhammed urinating on Jesus, and show it around at a Baptist church service. See how many call it satire. (In fact, you might get arrested for doing that in a bar.)

6. Steve Malloy says that our free society is fragile. Steve, we are watched constantly by domestic spies who report us to various power groups in Canada and outside.Almost every election in Canadian history has been won by a party with big, corporation money behind it. You work for a newspaper that rigidly controls what information was are allowed to get.

Tell you what. If you are big on a free society, then write some columns on what we need to do to get one. Criticize our news media for not being honest. Raise questions about domestic spies. Find out how much money Irving gives, and to which parties. Then we'll talk.

7. The biggest danger here is that this incident is being used to manipulate us.  Some people want a war. No matter who it is, we would be damn fools to give it to them. Any such war would quickly become a world war, complete with nuclear weapons.  Any such war would be the last one.

1 comment:

  1. Some true and telling observations Graeme. I'm glad you aren't the only one who is now saying these things.
    Seeing the 'world leaders' in their parade at the weekend was sick and hypocritical in the extreme.