Saturday, November 7, 2015

Nov. 7: little - again - in the Irving press

There's an interesting development in the fighting in Syria. Both the U.S. and Russia have assigned fighter jets to the region. And that's a little odd. Some fighter jets are equipped to carry bombs as well. Jets like that are called fighter bombers. But others are equipped to fight only other aircraft. Russia and the US are both sending pure fighters.

Now, ISIS has no aircraft. Syria has an airforce equipped with fighters and, as they have been for decades, they are all Russian, though many are outdated. (Gee - could that relationship with Russia explain why the U.S. wants to get rid of Assad?)

So why are the U.S. and Russia now sending fighter jets to Syria? Who are they intended to fight? Each other, of course. We're stretching bluff to a dangerous degree.

The Irving press didn't have room for this story. It needed room for a BIG story on how important Dominic Leblanc is.
Section A has two new stories worth reading.

One is about a legally blind photographer who has an international reputation for his photos of the night skies. The other is really an opinion piece; but it appears as the headline story of the day. It's about Canadian Peacekeepers, and remembering them on the Remembrance Day.

Founded by PM Lester Pearson, they brought a world respect to Canada for its international efforts to avert wars. And it was dangerous. The Peacekeepers could not initiate violence - but they had to respond to it. There was a high risk in that delayed response.

Up to the 1990s, their missions brought wide admiration and respect for Canada on the international stage. Then we blew it.

When the U.S. army invaded Haiti to overthrow the only honestly elected government that country has ever had so that American billionaires could go back to bleeding it, it asked Canada to pretend this was peacekeeping, and to send peacekeepers to make this seem legitimate. Since then, Canada has been simply an American poodle. And its international reputation promptly went down the toilet.

We should certainly remember the peacekeepers on Nov. 11. They did us proud.
The only column worth reading is the one by Jo-Anne Moore. It's a poignant column about Nov. 11; and it broadens the list of those we remember by including police.

Then there's one about the glorious building of the CPR, 130 years ago. It's by Pat Murphy who admits he's not an historian. He sure isn't. (Nor was Pierre Berton, the writer he often quotes. Pierre didn't even do the basic research for those books. And they were written to make money, not to tell the truth) Apparently, Pat Murphy never heard of the thousands of native peoples we deliberately starved to death to build that railway. Or of the metis we killed. He mentions that Chinese workers were used on the dangerous work of   dynamiting. He doesn't say why. Wanna guess? Nor does he seem to know about the terrible way we treated the surviving Chinese for at least a century after the building of the railway.

The major figures in building the railway, he says, were George Stephen, Donald Smith, and William Van Horne. --- uh,well, they were certainly the beneficiaries. (I've often been in the mansions of both Stephen and Van Horne, and they are stunning.) The Van Horne Mansion was demolished by a very wealthy speculator. The Mount Stephen is now a club for the wealthy.

But they weren't really capitalists. The borrowed the money on very good terms. And the reason they could get the good terms was because Canada  guaranteed repayment of those loans. We are the ones who took the risk. But they are the ones who got the mansions.
Again, there is no world news (or news of any importance)in the Canada and World section. Well, there's an amusing story that Republican candidate Ben Carson lied when he said he had earned a West Point scholarship.

I do not understand how the editors of this newspaper can miss all the big stories when anybody with a computer could find four or five just while having a coffee. They can't be as clued out as they appear to be. There must be a reason for this. It has to be deliberate stupidity. But why?
On the Faith Page, planned church activities seem to be largely of the sort that lead to burping. The sermonette makes the mistake that most Nov. 11 sermonettes do. It glorifies war. Those who went to war did it to defend freedom, and fought out of love and hope. It was all glorious.

But that's just  not the way people think or behave. I remember the boys from my father's scout troop visiting to say goodbye. They were 17, 18, most with grade 9 education - tops. They had no idea what the war was about. My uncle joined to get away from his wife and family. For the rest of his life he talked about nothing but the war - not about Dieppe or D day  (he was at both). All he talked about was the dances and parties he went to and the girls he met. My father joined, I think, because it was his last chance for adventure. Many, many joined because it was a depression, and they couldn't feed their families. But once the war economy picked up, the rate of enlistment dropped.

I was too young for Korea, but old enough to know many of the kids who joined up for it. I can't remember one who did it out of a passion to defend Korea or to bring it democracy (and, in fact, we did not bring democracy to South Korea.)

Those who did go to defend freedom and democracy were betrayed. Both Britain and France refused to let their empires go free. The U.S. did not introduce freedom and democracy to a single country. In fact, since 1945 it has fought almost every year to impose or to support puppet dictators - which is why it invaded Canada, then invaded Mexico to take its land, carried out a holocaust against its native peoples, and invaded almost every country in South America.  It destroyed democracy in Egypt. The U.S. and Britain now support a new Turkish leader who openly plans to make himself a dictator.

And we didn't fight the war to defend Jews against mass murder. In fact, we refused to give them the slightest help. Same with the U.S.

Our leaders lied to us. When Congo tried to establish a democracy, the western powers killed it. It took a very long time to bring freedom and equality to South Africa -- and when it did come, it was largely Black South Africans who brought it. The U.S. now claims, with no objection from us, the right to impose its will on the whole world. What does this have to do with freedom and democracy?

We owe our veterans and peacekeepers. We owe them the right to know why they risked death. We owe them the responsibility to ensure that if another war comes, we will take the trouble to study why they should go - before sending them. (We also owe full medical treatment for the damage they have suffered.)

What we don't owe them is a glittering parade of lies that make war glorious.

I have some news items. In particular, it is worth wondering why the U.S. and Britain are so eager to spread word that the Russian airliner that crashed in Sinai was destroyed by a bomb. However, it's getting late, and I want to get in another bit about the rise of the super-capitalists, and their sense that they are a superior group who are entitled. And just to be quirky, let's start with the sweater of a hockey player for the Detroit Red Wings.

It has a crest with an automobile wheel that has wings. Makes sense. When they adopted that crest in the 1930s, Detroit was the automobile city. But it's actually a modified copy of the crest of what began as a bicycle club for the wealthy of Montreal. It was called the Montreal Winged Wheelers, dating back to the days of bicycles with huge front wheels, and tiny rear ones.

And that, surprisingly, is connected to the revival of the modern Olympics as amateur games, and to medieval knights who jousted. And it's part of a tradition that was brought to the Americas by the British army.

The British army was officered by men of the upper classes who believed that their skills in organized, amateur sports were what gave them a right to command. Thus the fox hunts and polo. Sports -organized sports - were what created gentlemen of leadership and honour.

Of course, the common soldiers could not be permitted to take part because they would be neither leaders nor gentleman. All they needed was muscle. So they were encouraged to box and wrestle. In colonies like India, the British sometimes set up native regiments. These might have a few native officers who were permitted to play polo with British officers ( but were not permitted to join the British officers at meal times because they really weren't gentlemen.)

There are still reminders of this in Britain. Cricket originated as a game of the upper classes only. It, too, built character and the finer qualities of leaders required of those in the upper classes who were born to be leaders and to exercise authority over common people. They were born superior to the lower classes, and with that superiority came privilege. Over the years, as cricket professionalized, it became possible for the lower classes to play for money. But the class distinction remains. I well remember passing a cricket stadium with two entrances. One was labelled "Players", and the other, "Gentlemen".

This attitude to sport is very old. Knights jousted. Any peasant who took it on himself to joust would soon be dismissed. The same was true of fox hunting, hawking and other sports that "built character." A later one, prized by elite private schools as a character builder, was rugby. There were no written rules because a gentleman grew up knowing the game, and did not need instruction.

The new, capitalist class in Britain and the colonies took up these ideas of class and status and privilege with enthusiasm. That's why rugby became an early fixture in the universities that wealthy parents sent their children to. (That created a problem in North America, though. because the North American capitalists had not grown up in aristocratic circles. So it was hard to play a game with no written rules. So the Canadians wrote rules, inadvertently creating the game we now call football. In Rugby, for example, there was a player called a quarterback who played a quarter of the way back in the field. Montrealers made him into the man who would receive the ball from snap. We also invented downs.)

The capitalists played these sports in expensive clubs. It was important to keep out the poor and middle class out because, as my mother used to say, "They would be reaching above their station."  Making the clubs expensive took care of that. (of course, every club wanted to win, and sometimes, they were tempted by athletic poor people. So they would let them join free, and even give them a sort of fictional job working for one of the wealthy members. That's how my father could play football for the Montreal Winged Wheelers.)

The worship of organized sport ( but only if played by amateurs) blossomed with the re-recreation of the Olympic Games in 1896. Their revival had everything to do with building a leadership class of the better sort of people. So they were strictly amateur, designed to keep out people who had ever dirtied their hands by playing for money. The games were controlled by the most arrogant and privileged of the very wealthy. (Olympic games gradually professionalized in the 1980s because it improved TV revenues.)

My this is turning out to be too long.

In short, amateur sport was taken up by leading capitalists in order to give themselves aristocratic rank. It was quite deliberate. Like the aristocracy, they see themselves as born with a right to exercise authority, to command obedience, to be arrogant, and to see most people as being here to take orders from them. They see themselves born to talents that we can never possess. They also, like the aristocracy, create dynasties with power passing from father to son, always assuming the father has brains and the son, too, has them by birth.

And some people buy that. Read most of Norbert Cunningham's columns.

Oh, where do women fit in to all this? They don't, though they have  been forcing their way in lately. Women, going back for centuries, might play tennis, but just lobbing the ball and giggling - while wearing full dress, corset, etc. And, once a year (even into the twenieth century), they might be permitted to use a golf course - but just once a year for lady's day.

After all, women, even aristocratic ones, were not born to command.

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