Friday, August 11, 2017

August 11: Thinking....

Nobert Cunningham, in his daily commentary for the irving press, says on Thursday that our schools should be teaching children to think. That was a brave thing to suggest because, if they did think, nobody would buy his paper. (One of Thursday's big, world news stories in his paper is that a truck in Arkansas spilled it's load of frozen pizzas all over the road. Wow! Gotta think about that.)

In all my life in  education as student and teacher, I cannot think of any level at which I was taught to think.  To memorize, yes. But think - very rarely. And, when I tried to teach students to think, I could expect fireworks from angry parents and educational authorities. Many parents - most - wanted their children to think as they did - which was not thinking at all.

As a university professor, I tried to build learning to think into my courses. But it's not as easy as it might seem. Inevitably, I was often teaching students to think as I thought - but, like other people, what I thought was affected by my social outlook and values. It was by no means the truth carved in stone.)

We are not computers. What we think is shaped profoundly by our religious, political, economic views - and by our natural  wish to fit in with everybody else.
All of us are shaped by daily propaganda from our news media, by hatreds of other peoples for various reasons, and by a forgetfulness about our own, thoroughly unChristian greed and brutality in Canada and all over the world. And what comes out of reading and hearing all this is not thinking, but reaction.  The result is that we react with fears and hatreds. (Wasn't it terrible how those Muslims killed 3,000 Americans on 911. But when the Americans killed millions of innocent Muslims and refugeed tens of millions? Dum de dum.)

Some Christians will line up in front of hospitals to denounce abortion. Those same Christians really don't care our modern warfare deliberately targets civilians, including babies and pregnant mothers. (Certainly, I've never seen them protest about it.)  Today, for example, the U.S. is deliberately starving millions of civilians, including babies - especially babies - to death in Yemen. So how come the anti-abortion crowd doesn't protest that? How come Norbert Cunningham doesn't write a column on how Canadians should send food for the starving in Yemen?

I  taught high school history early in my career. One thing I taught was World War 2. Let's see now, suppose I had taught what I know to be true. 1. The U.S. did not join the war until 2 1/2 years after it started. Want to know why the delay?  2. The U.S., especially big business, supported Hitler in the 1930s and later, supplied him with money and equipment. Why? Two reasons. 1. It didn't give a damn about Britain or Canada. 2. It WANTED HITLER TO DEFEAT RUSSIA. It was afraid of Russian communism (or any form of socialism) spreading. 3.

The real interest of the U.S. in World War 2 was to add China to the American empire. This was a long-cherished dream of billionaires - the China market. It's interest in Europe didn't develop until the Soviets started beating the Naziis. Then the concern of the U.S. because limiting the Soviet expansion.

In fact, the whole American navy, from 1919 on, was designed for fighting in the Pacific. That's why it turned to aircraft carriers, to supply ships that could keep fighting ships at sea for longer periods, to fighting ships of very long  range.

After the war, the victorious powers did NOT spread democracy over the world. They all split up the nations of  Africa to loot them; and they usually established dictatorships. The U.S. also re-established dictatorship in The Phillipines.  And it maintained dictatorships in South America like Cuba and Haiti - and it also established them in what had been democracies like Guatemala.

Can you imagine the effect that would have on parents of high school children?
I did teach them that in university. But that wasn't teaching them to think. That was just teaching them what I thought. And I was always careful to make it clear that there was a difference between that and teaching them to think.

I tried to encourage them to think. I did it by getting them interested, and willing to look at issues with an open mind, by encouraging them to disagree with me. But even that falls short of teaching them how to think. I'm not at all sure there is any mechanism you can create to teach people to think.

We aren't computers. We can't be programmed to think. (We can programmed to react by, say, propaganda, or by our fear of thinking differently from everybody else.) We can only be encouraged to think by speaking about things openly, and by encouraging others to respond with their own ideas.

But to do that they need to be encouraged to think - encouraged by news media, encouraged by tolerance for their views, encouraged by teachers AND by parents.
And that will be tough in New Brunswick because this is a province dreadfully served by most of its news media,  and one in which people are afraid to have an opinion that is not exactly like everyone else's.

Tell you what Norbert, you wrote a fierce and angry column on how our provincial government is overspending on frills like education and health? How about writing one on how our governments HAVE to overspend because the very wealthy don't pay taxes. They hide their money in tax  havens. They also constantly whimper for tax forgiveness on things like millions of dollars worth land, and for handouts for various projects. They're allowed to buy crown land at bargain basement prices.

Who knows? That might start people thinking.

No. I guess not.  Much nicer to go the Irving Chapel where there is no danger one will ever have to think.
I'm not sure why the following story should be a story at all. Civilians have been the major targets in wars going back to World War Two, and rising spectacularly in the Korean War when 30% or North Korea's population was killed. That's the reality of modern war.
Most papers, but not the irving press, have noticed the sudden surge of Haitians crossing from the U.S. into Quebec. The federal government has had to create a    town to hold some 500 of them just inside the border. Similarly, Montreal's Olympic stadium has been turn into a huge camp for them.

Why are they fleeing the U.S.? Probably because of American racism. Why did they flee Haiti? Because it has been ruled by U.S. dictators most of the last hundred years. And the dictators have kept the Haitians in poverty, ignorance and wretchedness for the benefit of American capitalists. (Though I have not seen a news report that says that. Most of them blame the Haitian  earthquake of some years ago.

Reaching Quebec may not end their problems.  Quebec, like most of Canada, has an ugly record of racism.
The general response to the North Korean crisis is that the North Koreans are crazy.  Well, yeah, after all they're foreigners. But why are they crazy for wanting a nuclear bomb when the U.S. feels it quite proper to have the world's largest arsenal of them?

And consider another possibility. China cannot afford to allow the U.S. to conquer a country on the China border. How would Americans react if China sent an army of conquest to Mexico? This is no time to play power games.
And here's another story of the U.S. record

And why was all this killing done? It was for the usual reason - like the killing in the American revolution, the genocide of native peoples, the conquests in  Latin America, in The Philippines, even the U.S. civil war. These were all to benefit the wealthy of the time. (Yes. Even the civil war. It was NOT fought to free the slaves. Lincoln did not announce that until well after the war had started.)
Here's an interesting look at New Brunswick. (Sorry. I meant to say Borneo.)
The irving press is a big buddy to propaganda 'think-tanks" like Atlantic Institute of Market Studies. They also play a powerful role in U.S. politics spreading propaganda for their masters who pay them. I guess that's what Norbert Cunningham would call teaching people to think.
Unnoticed by most of our news media, the lavish apologies and promises of just a few years ago to our indigenous peoples have added up to ---nothing. What do the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Trudeau think about these issues? So far, they aren't thinking about them. It's more important to spread photos of Trudeau jogging.
Geegollywhiz. We should try to get this guy for pastor at the Irving Chapel.
The Duran is a  very, very extreme right-wing news site. It is often simply a propaganda house - something like the irving press, but much much higher in its range of coverage.   Anyway, this commentary in it makes a lot of sense.
The  western powers have been monstrously abusing Africa for centuries. That's what the slave trade was all about - and the British, French, Italian, Belgian, Spanish and German invasions killed many millions, enslaved millions, plundered the land, impovershed the people and that we hailed as glory of god's will, and the splendour of the European military who bravely murdered, tortured, and plundered Africa. "For Britons, never, never, never shall be slaves...."

No, indeed. The U.S. joined the parade early with the slave trade, and has now joined in the general plunder and killing. The benefits have all gone to the super-wealthy.  But be aware that they would just as happily kill, torture and rob you.
That's why today, Africa and the middle east are so unstable and in chaos. We created that. God bless America.
The greed of our upper business class has created a wildly unstable world that, if left under their control will destroy all of us - including the very wealthy.
If you want to learn what's going on in Israel, don't waste your time on any North American news medium. They are all very much under the thumb of the so-called "Israeli lobby", capable of putting enormous pressure to make sure that only the 'official' version of news comes out of Israel.

Though I was routinely a speaker for large, Jewish audiences in Montreal, I was singled out by the "Israeli lobby" to get cut off from speaking, and also fired from radio (to be replaced by an Ultra Israeli lobby supporter.)

No, if you want to know about Israel, read the Israeli "Haaretz".
When the arab country of Quatar wanted to found a newspaper that would move that country into the 21st century, it turned to a Canadian CBC journalist, Tony Burman. He led the building of a news system that was to be a model of intelligence, fairness, and honesty for the world.

And he succeeded. Of course, that automatically meant it would be looked down on by the western world.

All Jazeera has slipped somewhat since its founding. But, if not as strong as Haaretz, it's still far superior to the commercial press of most of the world.
And here's Al Jazeera's take on a film that has been praised all over the western world.

I haven't seen the film. But parts of this review sound reasonable to me. Dunkirk did not save Britain. Quite the contrary, it was at Dunkirk that Britain lost the war. Churchill's speech on carrying on the war from Canada or Australia was absurd. Dunkirk was the crash of Britain and of the British Empire.

It would be rescued by  no, not by the U.S. or Canada. It was rescued by Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. (No. It was not saved by the U.S. In fact, when the U.S. did enter the war, it did its best to help destroy the British Empire and to destroy Britain as a major power. That's why, in 1945, Britain effectively became a colony of the American Empire.)

Still, it might be a good film. We'll see. At the worst, it could be a reminder of how various parts of the world will see historical events quite differently.
Estimates are there are some 13,000 slaves in Britain. (Canadian and American jounalists haven't bothered to look in their own countries.) These are household slaves, sex slaves (many of themm children). Around the world there are uncounted millions of slaves, many of them kidnapped in the turmoil of our wars.
And here's some common sense that no western news medium would dare to deliver.

The world can look very different depending on where you are standing. That's why it can help to read Al Jazeera.
And then there's the CBC which Norbert Cunningham from his lofty  perch in irving press thinks is dreadfully inferior.        

Of course this can't be true. If it were, mr.  Irving would insist that his newspapers carry the story.
As a very unhappy footnote, it is quite possible that the U.S. is now making its final turn into fascism. And it's not just because of Trump. It's because capitalism requires fascism. Remember, the economic system that gave rise to Hitler and that supported him was capitalism. Ditto for Mussolini.

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