Saturday, October 3, 2015

Oct.3: An apology

Yesterday's blog was an important one - if depressingly so. But I did something wrong, and couldn't retrieve it. And I just don't have the heart to write it all over again. I should mention, though, that the commentaries by Norbert Cunningham, Justin Ryan, and Alec Bruce in  yesterday's paper were superb.

There was also an excellent column by student columnist Mhairi Agnew on C4. It's about school, and the value of extracurricular activities in helping students to discover their interests and to expand their thinking. That's very true. When I taught high school, I looked after the debating club, the film club,  current events, and the dance committee. All this was done after the school day was over. For students, these clubs developed social and thinking skills, and broadened their interests - things much harder to achieve in a classroom.

But the rise of the school bus put an end to most of that. Too bad.
When I realized I was never going to get my Oct. 2 blog again - and depressed by that as well as by the tone of the blog, I turned on television. Bit mistake.

President Obama was on, giving a press conference. His lies depressed me so much, I just turned off the TV.

In reponse to a reporter's question, Obama said the U.S. invaded Iraq to bring it democracy. And none of the journalists laughed.

The way to bring democracy is to kill a million people? to create hundreds of thousands, probably more, cripples and orphans? To destroy whole cities and a whole nation? To create millions of refugees? Obama went on, following this theme. He wanted to bring democracy to Syria. Sure. That's why the U.S. hired mercenary terrorists, labelled them as "moderate rebels", and killed at least a quarter of a million Syrians and refugeed millions, few of whom he (or Harper) will accept as refugees. He brought democracy to Libya,  too. It just hasn't caught on yet.

No reporter asked the obvious questions. 1. Who gave the U.S. the right to bring any kind of political system to any country? Isn't it up to the people in each country to decide what kind of government they want? 2. It is illegal to attack any country unless it is a clear threat to you. Did Syria (or Iraq) ever threaten to attack the U.S.? (And, yes, I know about 9/11. I also know Syria and Iraq had nothing to do with it. For that matter, more Americans, far more, are killed every year by American police than are killed by terrorists.)  3. If a country asks the U.S. to come and give it democracy, then the U.S. can respond. It has no right to intervene in order to change a government. But Americans think they do. Of all the nations in the world, only the U.S. has that right. It's called American Exceptionalism. 5. If the U.S. invaded Iraq to bring it democracy, why didn't Bush ever mention that? Why has nobody ever mentioned that until now.?... 6. And if the U.S. is so keen on bringing democracy to the world, why has it destroyed so many democracies and threatened others. It destroyed democracy in Guatemala, in Egypt, in Haiti, in Chile, in Egypt, in Ukraine. And it's now covertly trying to destroy it in Venezuela. And, as Americans forget, they are the ones who would not permit democracy in Cuba. That's why there was a Cuban revolution.

How can Obama get away with this?

1. All foreigners are typecast as inferior, exactly as Hitler  typecast Jews. That's a daily staple of American news. 3,000 American dead on 9/11 is remembered as a horror. But millions of dead in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Guatemala, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen....and many more....don't count.

2. Americans are trained to believe in a national history of goodness and innocence and freedom, a national history that is mostly myth.

All of those millions were slaughtered to please big business in oil, mining, agriculture.... All of them.

But not a single reporter asked a question about any of this. I felt such dismay that I could not go on watching.

Obama is Donald Trump. Both are campaigning in a nation saturated in fear and hatred of anybody who's different from them - and campaigning to a nation that has been steeped in fear and hatred by its news media and TV and films.

Obama is Donald Trump is - Stephen Harper. All of them are campaigning on fear and hatred. And it works.

Harper has us wasting an election on fear of the niqab. That's not different from Trump's Mexicans or Obama's Muslims. In fact, there is no Niquab issue. Women wearing the niqab have been permitted to take the oath of citizenship for years. I taught some of them. They were Canadian citizens.

It's very simple. For an orthodox Muslim woman, the niqab is an essential item of dress. And, like other essential items of dress, it cannot be removed in the presence of men.

So the oath can be taken before a female official of the court. Where's the problem?

We have similar rules for our airports and border crossings. Women cannot be strip-searched by men or in sight of men. Wanna change that one, Steve baby? Let's see how your polls react. Of course, we can do this to a Muslim woman because she's different from us. Therefore, she's inferior.

It works particularly well in Quebec. I can understand that. For some twenty years, I was on the provincial board of Alliance Quebec, the anglo rights group, at the height of separation fever. I well remember the street mobs, the arson of our offices, the threats, the meetings held in secret, the sheer hatred. There was bigotry on both sides. There were lies on both sides, lies to encourage hatreds, lies that were actually  taught in the schools. (I find New Brunswick far superior in that respect. Louis Robichaud did a good job.)

That hatred and fear and sense of our own racial superiority. marked in Quebec but strong in all provinces, can quite possibly make Harper Prime Minister again. If it does, Canadians will deserve the prime minister they get.

We are, we REALLY are, the Germany of the 1930s. It's all here. The torture, the secret police, the cultivation of hatred and fear, the sense of racial superiority are here. If you don't think so, tell me the difference.

When I turned away from the TV set in disgust and profound depression at what we have become, I checked CBC news on my computer. Big mistake.

Yes, yes, good Canadians will soon have a tip line so they can report unCanadian behaviour  by - you know - those inferior foreigners.

What is unCanadian behaviour? Well, you know, it's - like - preserving the Canadian culture, like Canadian values.

And what are Canadian values? Well, Canadians go to church. Or they used to. Canadians like hockey. Or most of them do. Maybe. They murder native women. Most of them like beer.

The reality is - there is no definition of what a Canadian value is. This is just like the big fight over the preservation of Quebec culture. The Parti Quebecois worried over that for decades. I can recall being at a meeting with a group of Quebec separatists. One of them passionately and dramatically snapped his pencil. "We must define our culture."

The PQ tried to. It produced the Charter of the Quebec Culture. It was hilarious. One section on Quebec culture said that Quebeckers smoke too much, and this would have to be cut down. Think about that. If they smoke too much, that's a part of their culture. So it should be encouraged, not cut down. The whole charter was like that. Oh, it also said Quebec culture was secular. Sure. It is now. But well through the twentieth century, it was one of the least secular cultures in the world. And that's one of the problems of defining cultures. They're constantly changing.

Nobody has ever been able to define a national culture or a national set of values. Nor would it be a good idea to do so. The world changes - and we have to change with it or we don't survive.  As I write this, I'm looking at a very old photo of an ancestor. She's wearing a full length dress with a bustle. She didn't have the right to vote. She couldn't possibly have found a job except as a domestic servant or a laundress.

I taught many students who were blacks or Jews. Just a generation earlier, few of them would have been permitted to attend any Canadian university. I can name a university in a maritime province which wouldn't accept a black student until 1965.

But Harper has decided we have national values - so we gotta watch them there refugees. That's not a policy. That's racism.  And they're barbaric. There's a mark of inferiority right there. (Too bad Harper doesn't know that western civilization is largely a product of Islamic civilization of a thousand years ago. The Islamic world had a flourishing civilization when Harper's ancestors were still piddling in public.)

Sieg Heil!

Incidentally, speaking of values, when families arrive here to escape the horrors of the wars that we and our friends inflict on them - you know what we do?

Well, usually, of course, we don't let them in at all. But those who get through and apply for citizenship get put, children and all, into one of our prisons for adult criminals. They are commonly left there for months, and even for years until their cases are heard.

Canada and the U.S. have become vile,  vicious, ignorant and racist places. And so it is we have produced Trump and Obama and Harper.

Luckily, we have the Irving press to tell us that nothing is happenning anywhere. (You can skip section A news.)

The deep thinker who writes editorials looks over this world war, mass murder, starvation, racism - and zeroes on the really big story of the day. "Two moose seasons is a good idea...."

Norbert is critical of those who won't vote, but will void their ballots. Good criticism. But then he puts all the blame on the politicians. What? Hey, what about wealthy people who buy the the politicians, and who actually run this province? What about the most placid, uninformed and generally stunned population I have ever seen? What about a newspaper that tells us nothing? - except what the boss tells it to tell us? What about a province that cares so little that half of its people can't read? What about the general lack of  willingness to do anything about it?

There's a column that says New Brunswick needs immigrants. I agree that it does - but not for the reason given in this article. It says we don't have enough population to get some extra seats in Ottawa to influence the government. Well, for a start, this influence doesn't mean a whole lot. Tell us about all the wonderful things Goguen has done for New Brunswick. In any case, there is no possibility of the maritimes getting anywhere close to the influence of the big provinces.

We do need immigrants, though. We need them to boost the economy - and we need them to put some life into this province.
And the big headline for Canada&World? The Oland trial. It seems the experts couldn't find any fingerprints at the crime scene. Wow! Forget Yemen. Forget Syria. Forget refugees. Stop the presses! We have a huge story. They couldn't find any finger prints.

Equally prominent is the story about the shootings in Oregon. It tells us roughly what it told us on the first report. And I don't give a damn.  If this paper thinks shooting will sell papers, then get off  its editorial butts and find out where and how Bourque got the guns to kill three police in Moncton.

There's nothing else in the secton that tells us anything. And, of course, Yemen doesn't exist.

In a world in which Canada is drifting back to racism, when our prisons are stuffed with thousands of refugees, when Canadian pilots are cooperating in massive killing, when tens of millions of people are refugees, when tens of millions are dying of starvation and we're not doing anything, the sermonette is a discussion about whether the human soul is in the brain - or the heart - or the appendix. (I'm not kidding.) And the churches are listed as doing things that require nothing except swallowing and burping.

I can't imagine Jesus looking at this world and being so impressed with it, that He would only look at it,  and burp. Do the clergy never discuss what is happening in the context of  Christian thought? Or are they hired simply to organize apple pie sales, and to make sure that nobody thinks about anything? Now wonder this province has such high illiteracy.
The news is not looking good. In fairness though, it doesn't look as bad as the churches do.

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