Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 10: 2016: something a little different

I have a friend who is devoutly Christian. As a Christian, he believes in the concept of the "end times" when the world will come to an end, Jesus will return to earth, and the dead will rise, and all people living and dead will be judged, and sent to heaven or to hell. Some Christians I have known are almost hysterical with joy that the end times are here. All the signs they look for are here - the unending wars, the re-creation of Biblical Israel, nuclear weapons. And now, fer sure, fer sure, the fighting in the middle east. That's a big sign I have known some so hysterical with joy  that they can't speak of it without giggling.

As I write this there are Christians, mostly American, who have devoted their lives to going door to door in Israel to tell them that the end times are here, and one of the signs of them (in their reading of The Bible) is the conversion of the Jews so that they, too, can be saved.

You can find this in almost any of the Christian churches,  but mostly in those we classify as 'fundamentalist' - that is Baptist, Pentecostal - the ones who are strong in the U.S. 'Bible belt' and who are major supporters of Donald Trump. In their view, his tough talk is a sign of the end times.

Then there are those in another religion who feel pretty much the same. Like Christians, they believe that the end times are here, that Jesus will come back to earth  (and get married), and that, coupled with the return of another person, will mark the end times, the judgement of sinners, and the emergence of two escalators - one going up, and the other going down.
The other person who will appear is Muhammed.

Muslims who believe this will have a heavy tendency to be of the Sunni group, the  equivalent of our fundamentalists. Those Sunnis who are most severe are of the belief called Wahhabism. These dominate in Saudi Arabia.

However, these differences go back  well over a thousand years, and mostly without fighting each other. In fact, they have fought each other far less than Christians have. And only a minority, even of Sunnis, support the fighting that is going on now.

But religion has always been a great way to get people to fight each other. The wars which result rarely have anything to do with religion, though. They're about power.

The reason the U.S. is fighting in the middle east has to do with power and profits for the oil industry. The reason that Saudi Arabia is fighting Yemen (and supporting terrorist groups in general) has nothing to do with Islam. It has to do with over a thousand years of decline of the Arab states, of their exploitation and powerlessness in the face of it, and a race for national power among those states.
We claim, for example, to be fighting terrorism and extremism. We aren't. In fact the most extreme form of Islam is that of our good friends in Saudi Araba.   The U.S., Canada, and Britain sell weapons to them. They are also major supporters of terrorism.

In fact,    both sides (expecially including the U.S.) use terrorism. They just use it for different reasons.

The U.S. uses it to win wars. That's a method of winning that became the rule in World War 11. The major weapon has been the bomber used to kill indiscriminately and massively through carpet bombing,  cluster bombs, poison gas like Agent Orange and, the ultimate terror weapon - the nuclear bomb.
Our news media never call that terrorism. But it is, and it's the most destructive form of terrorism in today's world. However, the ones we call terrorists use it for a different reason.

They don't have the industrial resources to use aerial bombing. What they have are human resources, the volunteers, the true believers who think that blowing themselves up will guarantee them an immediate entry to heaven. There is no possibililty they can kill nearly enough people to defeat even a tiny country with that. In the U.S., for example, It hasn't killed nearly as many people  as American police have. And far, far less than drunk drivers.

What they can do is to drive a Donald Trump (or a Cruz or a Hilton) into making racism respectable in the U.S. And what they say can drive more Muslims into the arms of the terrorists. Big, panicky news stories have the same effect. They can reinforce the image of Christians as racists. They can build on the humiliation of over a thousand years of decline for the Arab world. And they can spread this effect far, far beyond the middle east to the Muslims of Africa and Asia.

It's been a very successful form of war. For the cost of a few martyrs and a bomb or two, you can make the western  media and politicians do the job for you. The real job of re-inventing an Arab world.
I didn't write a blog yesterday, partly because it sometimes seems a waste of time to bother with it, partly - as I began to realize through the day - because I needed to rethink what I was doing. The paragraphs above are a sort of start at that.
Section A of the Irving press had nothing but trivia. It's only noteworthy point was the space given to ads. Something over 9 of the 12 pages were given to ads and obituaries.

The headling was a long story about how we now have 3 mayoral races. What are the the issues? Who knows? And the Irving press doesn't care. None of the candidates has yet said anything noteworthy. And the main story says nothing at all.

News editors are supposed to seek out areas of questioning. Reporters are supposed to ask questions. None of this ever happens in section A. Are there important issues the paper should be raising? Where is the study of the impact climate change is likely to have on Moncton? We don't have all that much time to get ready. What are the plans for the pattern of future metro growth? For the requirements of housing layout and construction? For a functioning transit system? ( The latter, by the way, is what would revive Main Street. A hockey rink won't.)
The editorial headline is "Let the battle be joined, with democracy the victor". This is about the mayoralty elections. And that headline tells it all. Or, to be more blunt, the editorial has nothing to say.

Norbert has a useful column on 'guaranteed annual income'.

Brian Murphy has a pretty accurate column on the decline of the NDP. Just to add a little - the Tommy Douglas' of the old CCF, the ones who effectively laid out the social programmes of post-1945, were done in by, of all people, the leaders of the major unions.

The CCF never had much money. Of course not. The big money to fight elections comes from corporations. They give their money to the Liberals and Conservatives because they can be trusted to do what the corporations want them to do. And I'm sure Mr. Murphy knows that.

The CCF needed money. Unions seemed a likely source since both unions and the CCF were motivated essentially by  concern for the average Canadian. But the big unions set a price on their support. The CCF had a large socialist component in its programme. The big unions said that had to go. In effect, the party had to become moderately Liberal - and change its name. I guess the unions didn't like the first word in Cooperative Commonwealth Federation.
That was over fifty years ago. And the party has gone nowhere as the NDP.
The big unions, really, are a part of the capitalist system. And the capitalist system has serious failings. It has never in its history considered the needs of most of our people. Its treatment of labour has always been brutal. It still is in most of the world, - that most that the Irving press never talks about.

All good things do NOT flow from capitalism. They never have. Capitalism is openly based on creating wealth for the investor, not for the general population. Capitalism did NOT throw its weight behind medicare. In fact, capitalism would still love to privatise it. Capitalism did nothing to help Canadians in the great depression - quite the opposite.  And it has created massive poverty and suffering over most of the world.

Yet most of our news media never hint at any failing in capitalism. Most of them haven't done it even in the case of the Panama Papers.

There's no point in having another capitalist party. We already have the burden of two of them. We need a political party that goes beyond that. The NDP doesn't.    
The column suggests that a socialist party is irrelvant because it will never have power. Maybe so. In that case, we should write off the German socialists who opposed Hitler, and admire those Germans who supported Hitler because his party would bring them power.

The guest column is yet another piece of propaganda from the Fraser Institute. Alec Bruce's column is, as always, well written. Too bad it has nothing whatever to say.
Canada&World is almost all trivia, and rarely gets out of Canada - or even New Brunswick. There is, however, one story that is well written and of importance. It's by John Chilibeck, and it's about the dangers of asbestos in New Brunswick. This is a well-balanced story of solid reporting.
 The Faith Page has a sermonette that I wish had gone just a step further. It ends with a note that we are called on to love even those who are different from us,,,,,,even those who may be actively against us.

It's a good point. But it doesn't have much effect as it is. The kind of people who read sermonettes will nod in approval, perhaps see it as a sign of their spiritual perfection, and never give it another thought.

The reality is that we are trained to hate - and Christians are as prone as anyone else to learning to hate. We are taught to hate by our news media, by our political leaders. Watch any American leadership debate. Read any news story about the middle east. Talk to a U.S. southerner about blacks.     You will find language and colour and religious hatreds all over Canada.

Like almost all the sermonettes in this paper, this one stops short of stepping into the real world.

Many, probably most of those who read this, do hate. Take us that extra step so we are forced to think of who we hate and why. Point to a news story or a speech that encourages people to hate. The obvious and easy examples are the hatred by Donald Trump is exploiting. There are people who are hated for being poor - or for being rich. We all have hatred.

The Gospels are very  practical. Sermonettes should be, too.
 I thought this next item a useful one. But as I enter it now, I think of something nobody has mentioned. All the people caught in the Panama Papers are capitalists. Guess what your chances are of getting honest treatment from them.
Can you imagine the press reaction if they had been socialists? Instead of the irving press ignoring the issue in its commentaries, we'd be getting fiery editorials and commentaries on how this just goes to show how deeply corrupt socialists are.  
And here's an aspect on climate change that hasn't been looked at - the mass migrations it is causing. Climate change will have (is already having) an enormous effect on daily life all over the world. The oil billionaires have provided no leadership whatever on this, except to insist it isn't happening, and to delay doing anything to prepare for what is coming.

We are, at every level, unprepared for what is happening. That's why it's important, even at the municipal level to get information on what might expect, and to plan for it. That's even more important than getting a bandstand and a skating rink for the events centre.

1 comment:

  1. I know an older man who lives in the area near the rotary in downtown moncton, apparently people who live in that area were told by the city that it will be flooded in the future. I can't verify the story but if it's true then the city knows the damage and effects and is doing nothing about it.

    On a separate note I hope you keep writing for however long you wish or are able. When living in a world of hate, lies and exploitation a dose of reality is welcome.