Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Feb. The Irving Press is so boring and trivial......

.....that we won't say much about it this time. Well, I can't miss the headlines of Jan. 2 and 3. Both told the world we'd had a blizzard the day before. But maybe some people didn't notice. And we'll skip the big news story that Horton's is bringing back 'roll up the rim'.

Both days have excellent columns by Alec Bruce. Then it goes downhill. Feb. 3 has a column that is really a free ad for Siemens, a German firm that works with NB Power. No. It's more than that. According to the column Siemens is a member of our community. And we are members of the Siemens community - whatever all that means. Yep, We're all just buddies. And so it goes plodding on, sounding impressive but really saying nothing. And, oh, it is tedious reading. (It reminded me of Gallant's recent speech on his economic plans.)

But the writer, a senior exec at Siemens must have had a reason for writing this bafflegab. So notice his references to green energy toward the end. This smells like something written at the request of the Gallant government to reassure us that is is committed to protecting the environment. The idea is to ease concerns when he tells us that his experts have determined that shale gas (with the world's strictest regulations) is perfectly safe.

NewsToday is equally limp - though with interesting spots. Dennis Oland is at last going to court to be tried for killing his father----maybe. Meanwhile, he's still wandering free. Compare that to Bourque who was instantly jailed, tried and sentenced. I'm sure there's a lesson in there, somewhere.

On B3, we learned that Japan is horrified and outraged by the ISIL beheading of  a Japanese citizen. Oh, what savagery!  Well, I guess they've never heard of World War 2 and Hong Kong where wounded Canadians were bayonetted to death in their  hospital beds. Or of Singapore where a boat load of nurses were murdered, and where Chinese civilians were slaughtered in tens of thousands -  not to mention their ruthlessness in raping and or killing Chinese civilians by the million. There are lots of pictures of these, great heaps of the dead, which, obviously, are not soldiers.

But we, too, are selective in our memories. I haven't seen any western report on the Japanese reaction that mentions the Japanese record.

(None of the above is to suggest that Japanese are savages. I worked hard to get restitution for Japanese-Canadians who had been put in concentration camps during World War 2. In fact, the Montreal Japanese community chose me to thank the government when restitution finally came through. Japanese are not evil. Muslims are not evil. And western Europeans and the people of North America are not good. We are all capable of savagery,and have proven it many times. The anger at Muslims is manufactured by our news media - and it goes down well with those who think, with supreme self-righteousness, that Christians would never do such a thing. Perhaps, between burps after a pancake breakfast, one of the clerics on our Faith Page could write a column on the theme "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

Oh, and there is a hilarious story on B4 about our foreign affairs minister, John Baird, making the idiot speech of the year. He says that the more Cubans accept American values and American capitalism, the freer they will be.

What an ass!

Cuba was dominated by American Capitalism and American Values for fifty years. It had American-appointed dictators. It lived in terror. It was also heavily controlled by the Mafia  (one of the American values, I guess.)  Cubans grew up for decades with almost no access to education or health care. They suffered from the American values of torture and brutality.

(For Christ's sake, Baird, you ignorant twit, the US stole a part of Cuba that it still controls - and has used as  the most notorious torture camps in the world. As well, the US does not like the word free. Any Latin American leader who tries to make his country free ends up getting shot, like Allende in Chile, or getting ousted, as more recently happened in Haiti.)

Since their rebellion, the Cubans have made education available to everyone all the way through university. They also offer full access to medical care for their people. US capitalism and values have done neither in the US or anywhere else. Oh, and poor, little Cuba has had to do it under heavy US trade embargos.

Above all, for Feb. 2, section D, page 1 (Sports) check out the photo of the Miracles' basketball game at the bottom of the page.  Don't look at the players. Look at the stands. Count the spectators. It won't take long. That, not the game, is the real story.

Of course, if we had a real events centre, I bet it would be packed every time with people coming from all over the world.

Enough about the wretched Irving press.

In almost all our news media, we find Muslims associated with savagery and evil. That's deliberate. Powerful people want to destroy the Muslim nations.  But it has nothing to do with savagery. It has to do with oil. (It is extremely rare to find a war at any time in history that was fought for anything but economic reasons. That is why the western world put Israel where it is. That is why the US is hostile to Iran. That is why it invaded Iraq. That is why Canadians are now risking their lives in a war that isn't a war.)

Conquerors have commonly used the  word 'savages' to justify their conquests. After all the practice of conquest is extraordinarily brutal. It kills large numbers, destroys whole cultures, exploits the survivors as cheap or even free labour, and loots the land for its farming and minerals. Us Christian need an excuse for that.

Our excuse, for centuries, has been that the conquered people are savages. So it's okay to kill or abuse them and steal from them. They are racially inferior to us. They aren't real people like us. That goes a long way to explain the centuries of racism in Europe. And in the Americas.

The Japanese killed helpless victims in World War 2. So they were savages, and some of their leaders were hanged. The US, with just two bombs, killed or wounded some 250.000 people, almost all of them civilians. (That's a conservative estimate,)

But that's okay because there was a reason for it. I mean, Americans are civilized - like us.

When the Europeans discovered (invaded) the Americas, they defined the people as savages. Therefore, it was only reasonable to kill them. They had no cultures, no philosophy, no concept of a society. Not like us superior types.

That's why Canadians and Americans destroyed the buffalo herds. They knew they were killing off the basic food supply of Plains Indians. But they didn't care.  And, as the Plains Indians died of starvation, John A. Macdonald, like his American counterparts, deliberately let them die. All the easier, then, to take their land and distribute it to immigrants. (But you won't find that in many history books.)

The truth about native people was much different. For a start, they were almost certainly healthier than Europeans. Plagues did not come to them until AFTER the Europeans arrived.

And they not only had their own religions, but were a great deal more religious than the Europeans were.

The status of women in the tribe was commonly higher, much higher, than the status of women among Europeans. Here, if there was savagery, it was on the European side.  Even today, some of that higher status remains. That is why it is so common to see native women at shale gas demonstrations, and playing a major role.

Native peoples were way ahead of the Europeans in transportation. European settlers would have had a rough go without the birchbark canoe, the snowshoe, and the toboggan.

There were substantial and prosperous settlements of some native peoples - like the Iroquoian tribes. These had to be moved every twenty years or so to maintain agriculture, so the housing was simple. But the Europeans, again despite myth, were often lousy farmers. That's why they would go to war so often - to steal native land. That's a major reason why the US invaded Canada in 1812 and, later, Mexico. .

(By the way, the trigger for that war was that American settlers, like Davy Crockett, were bringing their slaves with them - and slavery was against the law in 'savage' Mexico. Most of the defenders of the Alamo were slave owners and slave traders - and land speculators.)

To continue native settlement, the native peoples were the ones who knew how to farm. They commonly taught the Europeans how to do it.

The wigwam, often dismissed as primitive, was a brilliant stroke of engineering for a people who had to move frequently to follow the buffalo, and who had to survive savage winters. I've spent many a month living under canvas, and the best tent I ever found was the bell tent, a copy of the wigwam.

Politically, native peoples were at least as sophisticated as the Europeans. Indeed, the Iroquoian tribes were developing a concept of a UN centuries before the rest of the world even thought of it.

In their arrogance, the Europeans looked at the Americas, but saw only what it was convenient to see. They looked at civilizations. But all they saw were "savages" who were therefore, eligible for killing, displacing, sometimes enslaving.

That sort of thinking still affects us. That's why we accept our federal government's often illegal treatment of native peoples. In fact, there was still strong feeling in the United States for killing all native peoples until quite recently. That was the basis of a popular book called The Wizard of Oz. (The author's widow was furious that the film changed it to a child's story.)

To this day, the 'savagery' of others lives on as our excuse for the savageries we commit. You can read it every day in the Irving press, and in almost all news media in North America.

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