Monday, April 30, 2007

May Day: "The Idea of a Proletarian Celebration"

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says it was forced to cancel May Day celebrations in four provinces after militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party allegedly threatened to murder union officials if the celebrations went ahead.
Hak Mao noticed. Will recalled an old song.
I was thinking about Joe Slovo, who was among the first to notice how badly things had gone, and to look for a better way:
Among a diminishing minority there is still a reluctance to look squarely in the mirror of history and to concede that the socialism it reflects has, on balance, been so distorted that an appeal to its positive achievements (and of course there have been many) sounds hollow and very much like special pleading. It is surely now obvious that if the socialist world stands in tatters at this historic moment it is due to the Stalinist distortions.
This is how it began.

An Insider's Account of Friday's Cairo Debriefing

It is now abundantly clear that the core leadership of Canada’s so-called anti-war movement consists of obsessive Israel-haters, apologists for theocratic fascism, and admirers of the death cult Hamas and the totalitarian Hezbollah.

Nobody can accuse me of “smearing the peace movement” anymore. The leadership of the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Toronto Stop the War Coalition and other such groups now openly boasts of its progress in converting the “antiwar” movement in Canada into a joint venture with the Islamist far right.

Last Friday in Toronto, these people made a full and self-congratulatory accounting of themselves and the promises they made at the recent “anti-war” convergence in Cairo ("Towards an International Alliance Against Imperialism and Zionism"), attended by some of the world’s most foul jihadists, Islamists and Jewish-conspiracy fetishists.

The most enthusiastic accounts last Friday came from Abigail Bakan and Chantal Sundaram, senior members of the formerly left wing sect that runs the Canadian operations of the British Socialist Workers Party. The SWP is a Stalinist groupuscule that allied with the Muslim Council of Britain to take over the British “anti-war” movement and construct the base for the Mosleyite George Galloway and his “Respect” Party.

Bakan and Sundaram were preceded in their presentations by Cairo attendees (and fellow I.S. national steering committee members) Sid Lacombe, campaign coordinator for the “umbrella” Canadian Peace Alliance, and Toronto Stop the War Coalition spokesman James Clark, who is also a member of the CPA steering committee.

CPA steering committee member and Cairo attendee Ali Mallah also gave a glowing report about his guided tour of the illegal Hezbollah police statelet inside Lebanon, from which he returned only last Monday.

Cairo attendee John Riddell, who still fancies himself a “peace activist” gave a positively euphoric account of his personal transformation in Cairo (Riddell was a socialist back in the Vietnam era, and still masquerades as one), and I am pleased to see that he told the Friday night Steelworkers Hall audience that he was most upset with my Georgia Straight column of last week.

All I have to say for now is, be very careful about what you say, comrades. It's just like this. I already know everything that each of you said last Friday evening in Toronto. Every last word.

We'll be paying close attention to this, too.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Canada and Afghanistan: The Vancouver Debate

Thursday night’s debate in Vancouver renewed my hope that there is a way forward in this country, out of the fog of the New Democratic Party’s well-meaning incoherence, and out of the mire of the so-called anti-war movement, towards some kind of a consensus on how we might rededicate ourselves to the people of Afghanistan.

The debate, at the Alibi Room on Alexander Street, was a bracing contrast to the impression you get from the mainstream media, and from The Tyee comments-box bedlam, for that matter. There actually is a civil, intelligent, non-partisan and vigorous conversation about Afghanistan underway among Canadian liberals, progressives and leftists.

A few of the usual “anti-imperialist” gibberish-mongers showed up Thursday evening, but those who didn’t scurry away even before the discussion began (wouldn’t want to actually learn something, would we?) slithered out long before it was over (suffering the trauma of hearing overwhelming evidence of how wrong they are, I expect).

It was a good crowd, and I was especially happy to notice that a strong anti-fascist contingent had turned out, from across the spectrum - Ian King, and Jonathon Narvey, for instance. My happiness may have been slightly enhanced by the free whiskey that was made available to me but I would have been happy nonetheless.

My fellow panelists were Jared Ferrie, Lauryn Oates and Michael Byers.

Jared is a brave and thoughtful young journalist who’s just returned from his second sojourn in Afghanistan. Lauryn is a committed and articulate young women’s rights activist who’s spent the past several years doing difficult duty in Afghanistan, bringing desperately-needed resources to the women of that country. Byers is the academic director of the Liu Centre for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, and a senior adviser to the NDP on these kinds of questions. Lauryn stole the show.
Of course, I would say that. I’ve long been clear about my conviction that the kind of contribution we should be making as Canadian civilians – as trade unionists, progressives, feminists, socialists, and so on – is precisely the kind of inspiring and dedicated work that Lauren has dedicated her life to doing.

Jared was also tremendous. Jared cleaves to the undiminished virtue of relying upon facts and evidence to make sense of what’s happening in Afghanistan, and he persists in demanding answers to the important and uncomfortable questions - What would happen if we actually did bring the troops home? – that the “left” in this country is sadly reluctant to ask.

Michael was not exactly at the top of his game, but he should be forgiven for this, since he’d spent the week on a related file in which he speaks with authority and he'd been working night and day helping the national press gallery in its not-unjustified effort to unseat Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor over the Taliban-prisoners affair.
Michael was also working at a bit of a disadvantage, being alone among the four of us on the panel on such questions as whether Canada should encourage negotiations with the Taliban, and whether Canada should withdraw from counter-insurgency operations against the Taliban. At times, Michael was not exactly clear what he was proposing, and the crowd wasn’t with him, either. That said, he held up his end quite well.

What follows is a synopsis of my main arguments.

Afghanistan is on the front lines of a war that has been grinding its bloody way through the Muslim masses of the world for some time now. It is a war being waged by theocratic and "secular" fascists against modernity, against democracy, against the Jews, against the emancipation of women, against the liberation of gay people, and against everything that we, as Canadian socialists, progressives, liberals and democrats, have ever loved and believed in and fought for.

The Taliban were and are as savage, cruel, misogynist, violent and cunning as any of the battalions the enemy has deployed, and the people of Afghanistan continue to suffer their depredations. Canada has been honoured with the privilege and the opportunity to be fighting this war on the side of the Afghan people, at the request of the Afghan people, shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan people.

To my dismay, the "left" in Canada has by and large failed to properly comprehend the nature of this struggle. To put it charitably, the Canadian "left" has not demonstrated any noticeable leadership in this struggle, and indeed has, with notable exceptions, failed to join the struggle.
It is commonplace for popular NDP pamphleteers to engage in such disgraceful histrionics as to call the struggle in Afghanistan "an occupation being resisted by indigenous militants" and to casually dismiss as "lies" the great victories that Afghans have won, and continue to win, against overwhelming odds. The Taliban persists in beheading teachers and burning down hundreds of schools every year, but even so, enrolment among Afghan girls has gone up from less than six per cent - mostly in private, home-based operations - to 40 per cent. But it is a "lie" that Afghan girls are even going to school, we are told.
It has gotten so that well-regarded members of this country's leftish nomenklatura can get away with arguing that Canada and its NATO allies should pull out of Afghanistan - even though the likely consequence would be “a fascistic theocracy.” This open admission of moral bankruptcy will not cause you the slightest embarassment in fashionable Toronto parlours. Indeed, you will be drawn more affectionately to the bosom of Canada's pseudo-left commentariat.
All the better for your "left-wing" credentials, too, if you cite as your authority Eric Margolis, the millionaire Taliban-admirer and founding editor of Pat Buchanan's American Conservative magazine who you can now read at your leisure in the pages of Canadian Dimension. Endorsed by NDP leader Jack Layton as "thoughtful, persistent, challenging and unflinching," Canadian Dimension is the primary megaphone of a certain James Petras, who will be happy to tell you that Jewish bankers run American foreign policy and lured America into its Iraqi debacle. Petras will also explain how the culprits behind last year's "Mohammed cartoons" conniptions, which involved embassy-burnings and riots and at least 139 deaths, were - you guessed it - Mossad agents.
I'm sorry, but to notice this kind of thing, and to write about it, is not to "go over to the dark side." You don't have to be a neoconservative or a reactionary or a "gatekeeper to the Ziocon hegemony" to point out these things or to observe that the NDP has demonstrated an astonishing incoherence on the question of Afghanistan from the very beginning. It is not traitorous to find it difficult to stifle a chuckle at the spectacle of the NDP, for all its complaints about American influence in Canadian politics, conducting its affairs on the matter of Afghanistan as though it were a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American counterculture left.
The NDP started out in all this by opposing Canada's participation in the worldwide effort to drive the Taliban out of Kabul. Then, while propping up Paul Martin's minority Liberal government, the NDP demonstrated some tepid support for the Afghan mission. Then the NDP's Jack Layton declared the he opposed Canada pulling its weight in NATO's plan (first articulated by the Afghan Women's Network) to drive the Taliban from its remaining redoubts in Afghanistan's southern provinces.
Then came last year's NDP convention, where delegates adopted the exact wording of a brand-name American slogan referring to the U.S. occupation of Iraq: "Support Our Troops. Bring 'Em Home." It was billed as the NDP's "clearest message yet", but the NDP got its own convention resolution completely wrong. The NDP statement was that delegates had voted for an "immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan," when in fact delegates had voted for the retreat of Canadian troops from the southern counter-insurgency operations. Then Layton surprised his party's "anti-war" supporters -- by saying that no new policy was adopted at the NDP convention.
As recently as April 19, on this very issue, the NDP completely contradicted itself, at least three times, in an official party statement about its position. You can't blame the right-wing news media for this. The NDP statement itself, paradoxically, also blasted the Liberals for engaging in a "flip flop" in its Afghanistan policy and said Canadians were demanding "clarity" on the Afghanistan question. This was just after the NDP had voted with the ruling Conservatives against a Liberal motion calling for Canada to rotate out of its NATO counter-insurgency role in the Afghan south by 2009.
But it doesn't matter much what I think about all this. What matters is what the people of Afghanistan think, and here's what we know about that.
Around the same time, another public opinion poll showed that 85 per cent of Afghans said living conditions had improved since the Taliban's rout, 75 per cent said security had improved, and 87 percent said the overthrow of the Taliban was a good thing. And by the way, as for the Afghan people being irredeemably backward and priest-ridden and reactionary: Nearly 90 per cent of Afghans believe women should be educated and should have the right to vote.
So let's be honest. Everything Canada has fought for in Afghanistan, everything our soldiers have died for, everything Afghanistan's women have won, and everything Afghanistan's progressives and democrats have won, will be lost if the so-called “anti-war” movement gets its way.
Last year, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada, Omar Samad, had this to say about the Taliban and its allies in Afghanistan: “Their goal is to use time and a battle of nerves to tire us, to intimidate us, to make us doubt our objectives, to sow dissension and to turn it into a contentious political debate. In Afghanistan, this debate does not exist.”
It should be painfully obvious to observant grown-ups that the "anti-war" movement in Canada is playing a similar role on Canada's left: Intimidate, sow dissension, sow doubt, and turn the duty of solidarity we owe our Afghan comrades into a matter of "contentious political debate." That debate does not exist in Afghanistan, and it is disgraceful that the debate exists in Canada, especially on the Canadian left.
There is much debate to be had, alright, but our Afghan allies should be leading it, and we have anti-war, progressive, socialist Afghan counterparts to whom we might turn for guidance. And I don't mean RAWA, which by now almost certainly has a greater membership among the rich, white liberal ladies of Santa Barbara, California, than among the women of Afghanistan.
Most notably, among the Pashtun people of the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands who remain the Taliban's greatest victims, Canadian social-democrats have their counterparts - the young men and women of the Pakhtunkwa Milli Awami Party, who recognize the Taliban, not NATO, as the war-maker and the aggressor. You can bet that the NDP has not consulted with the Pakhtunkhwa, or sought their counsel in any way. You can bet that the NDP hasn't even heard of them.
You can betray our Afghan comrades if you like. Ignore the Pakhtunkhwa, ignore the Afghan Women's Network, ignore the United Nations, ignore W4WA. For your leadership and counsel on these thorny questions, go ahead and follow George Galloway and Zafar Bangash and Eric Walberg and all the rest. I ask only one thing. Spare me your pleadings.
Stop pretending you're a liberal, or a progressive, or a socialist, or a democrat, because you're none of these things. Just look at yourself. Spiffy new uniform you're wearing. Nice boots.
The rest of us are moving on. Just be careful you don't get in the way.
. . . Anyway, that's more or less what I said last Thursday. And I'm pleased to report that I was warmly received. . . or at least I made no new enemies. I made a few new friends, honoured some old friends, and enjoyed myself altogether.
Thanks to Richard Warnica and Vanessa Richmond who did a tremendous job organizing and moderating the panel. Mark Collins, who contributes here and here, deserves my thanks for his advice on certain complicated aspects of military policy. Thanks also to General Theory of Rubbish for some important sleuthing last week, and to Dave Oullette, whose La convergence entre la gauche radicale canadienne et les islamistes progresse advances last week's inquiries.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Socialism of Fools: Reports From The Front

UPDATE: Is it possible that there's not just one but two neo-communist, pro-Islamist, Jew-bashing Canadian translator-journalists who live or lived until very recently in Tashkent, Uzbekistan? "Simon Jones" admits he's using that name as an alias, but he says he's not Eric Walberg. He also says Adolph Hitler "copied the zionist programme to the letter" so take what he says with a grain of salt; besides, his former editor outed him. When I called Metta Spencer, editor of Toronto's Peace Magazine (which has run articles about Uzbekistan under both bylines, Walberg and Jones), to find out more about this Eric Walberg character, I asked who "Simon Jones" was, and Metta said: "Oh, that's his pseudonym. He needed a pseudonym because of where he was living, you see."

For an account of the recent strategy sessions in Cairo that brought together Canadian and British "anti-war" activists with some of the world's most violent and sinister Islamists and jihadists, the English-speaking world was obliged to rely almost exclusively upon an account ("Anti-Globalists Reach Out to Islamists") in the Egyptian weekly Al Ahram, written by a certain Canadian by the name of Eric Walberg.

There was something odd about his report, I thought. There was a weirdly euphoric tone about it, and it was also a kind of hybrid as these things go. It was partly a celebration of the ongoing convergence between the Islamist far-right and a certain far-left groupuscule that has insinuated itself into the leadership of the "anti-war" movement (in Canada, it runs the Toronto Stop The War Coalition, the umbrella Canadian Peace Alliance, the War Resisters Support Campaign, etc.). The report was also partly a work of dutiful stenography, in service to the conference participants themselves.

Curious to know why this Eric Walberg would be so happy about the moral squalor he had witnessed and participated in, I made some conventional journalistic inquiries about him. You can make up your own mind about whether the result adequately explain Walberg's obvious delight at the prospect of an ongoing convergence of the far-left and far-right. You can make up your own mind about how significant the Cairo conference was in that phenomenon.

Walberg, who appears sometimes to write under the pseudonym Simon Jones, is a Canadian economist and a frequent contributor to Canada's Peace Magazine, a reputable journal based out of Toronto. Walberg has also been a regular contributor to the deliberations of a notoriously anti-semitic thinktank known as the Adelaide Institute, whose leader, Frederich Töben, has done hate-speech jail time in Germany. Töben was one of the more prominent guests at Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial conference last December.

A survey of Walberg's writings show that he regards Jews as having been the authors of their own misfortunes over the past 2,000 years, and all the great wars of the past century can be laid at the feet of shadowy Zionists - even the "still mysterious collapse" of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11. He has written approvingly of the contents of the Protocols of The Elders of Zion - that classic text of pathological Jew-hatred.

As far as I can determine, Walberg's last real job was a public-relations gig in Tashkent, in the Office of Uzbekstan President Islam Karimov - a dictator who reportedly murders his opponents by boiling them in oil. I've also confirmed the substance of an Adelaide Institute report that Walberg was turfed out of Uzbekistan after being sloppy in the work of hiding his identity behind the pseudonyms he adopts. Writing favourably about underground Uzbek Islamist groups was not so smart, it would seem.

I should point out that it was with the help of a fellow journalist and Walberg's former friends and associates in Canada that I assiduously confirmed Walberg's impressive cirruculum vitae - his degrees from Cambridge, from the Pushkin Institute in Moscow, and so on - and his strange trajectory from a Stalinist campus "peace activist" in Toronto to true-believer in the restoration of the Caliphate, as well as his various personae and noms de plume.

And I should point that by now, you should see whay Walberg was so happy about what went on in Cairo.
In the absence of any in-depth report from a legitimately independent journalist about what really happened at the Cairo conference - about what oaths were pledged, what commitments were made and what vows were uttered - we are left to rely upon Walberg, upon a videotape provided to the Reuters news agency (from which Reuters cobbled together a "news" report), and upon the accounts of the participants themselves.
The "anti-war" participants, thankfully, are not especially reticent. They are not ashamed of their conduct. They are proud of it.
And just in case you think this is all just a matter of cross-cultural ecumenism or something, and the poor dears from Hamas and Hezbollah at the Cairo conference are merely defending the honour of Muslims against the war-making agression of the infidels, you should have heard what Hezbollah's Ali Fayyad had to say about his co-religionists:
We in Hezbollah and in the Lebanese resistance see that secular fighters in Venezuela or in any place in the world, secular or Christian, are nearer to us than the Muslims or Arabs who cooperate with imperialism.
Try to imagine, if you can, the chill that would overcome you, reading those words, if you happened to be a liberal or progressive or a gay Muslim living within the police-state confines of Hezbollah's illegal Lebanon statelet.
The Canadian participants in the Cairo conference will be boasting of their escapades tomorrow night at the Steelworkers Hall in Toronto. If you're anywhere near the neighbourhood, by all means, go and take it in. And be sure to ask Ali Mallah about his Hezbollah-guided side trip to Beirut. It appears to have been very illuminating for him.
Meanwhile, I've touched on a lot of this in my Georgia Straight column today (most of what I submitted appeared in the column, anyway). It begins this way:

During the Israel-Hezbollah war last summer, this column examined Canada's so-called antiwar movement, and concluded that its conduct was squalid, and its "peace" was really about opposing Israel.

I expressed support for the struggles of the Palestinian people, but I pointed out that there's another, much larger, war going on. It's a war against modernity, against the emancipation of women, against the Jews, and against everything any self-respecting liberal or socialist or democrat has ever stood for.

This time, I'm here to say Canada's main "antiwar" groups have finally, fully, and openly exposed themselves to be active participants in that war. And they're on the side of the enemy.

For those of my readers who will continue to insist after reading this that that they are "shocked" and "appalled" that I write disparagingly about the key leadership of this country's "anti-war" movement, I'm afraid we no longer have anything to discuss.

For the last time, I am not "smearing the anti-war movement." The anti-war movement has disgraced itself. It is Eric Walberg who has disgraced Peace Magazine and the magazine's fine and decent editor, Metta Spencer. I haven't smeared her. Walberg has, by his mere association with her. And I expect there are many sincere peace activists who will be disgusted by what I've had to point out here.

Well, to them I say, now's your chance. Denounce these frauds. Disown them. Stand up and be counted, and started acting like grown-ups. If you don't, you're no better than them.

As for me, I'm outta here. You won't be reading anything more from me in either the Georgia Straight or the Tyee for some while. I have a life to get on with.



Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Thoroughly Shameless Act Of Self-Promotion

That's what this post is. It's a brazen appeal to my teeming masses of American readers to drop whatever it is they're doing and rush out immediately to their local bookshops to pick up my book, now out in Amerikay, The Sixth Extinction: Journeys Among the Lost and Left Behind (Thomas Dunne / St. Martin's Press, NY), which can of course be ordered via Amazon at that last link as well. It's the American edition, more or less, of this book.

Here's some raves:

“A haunting reminder of the scale and breadth of what can only be described as a catastrophe of the human spirit and imagination. Glavin’s remarkable book leaves little doubt that this is indeed the central challenge of our times.”--Wade Davis, author of One River and Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society

"A startling new definition of extinction that includes not only loss of animal species but also disappearing aspects of the human condition. In prose that tempts the reader to linger over each word, he turns a book of science and natural history into an elegy to the world in which we live and so casually disregard, creating nonfiction with a poet's heart and a message of the utmost importance."--Booklist

"With just a handful of representative stories—a localized effort to reestablish a vanishing macaw, an international debate over whaling, a resurgence of cougar attacks—Terry Glavin explores the complex relationship between humanity and extinction with remarkable depth and emotional appeal. Glavin’s thorough and honest look at connections between different types of diversity will appeal to skeptics of the environmental movement and
ecomaniacs alike." --Seed Magazine.

“Glavin is one of the prophets of our time. He is able to see things that others do not or will not see, and then put together these disparate pieces to make a new whole. Not only can he see them but he can spin them into stories that speak to the deepest, most primal parts of the human brain.”--The Literary Review of Canada

"Striking and original. In a fresh and eloquent synthesis of diverse phenomena, Glavin describes some of the consequences. Insightful and poignant."--Publishers Weekly

“Asks us to care, deeply, about living in the midst of the greatest extinction rates of the past 65 million years. If there’s room for hope, it can be found in a book like this.”--The Globe and Mail

“In his engaging and powerfully written work Terry Glavin takes the reader on a cook’s tour of the catacalysmic; the linked global extinction of wildlife, foods, cultures, and language. Like Rachael Carson, E. O. Wilson, and others of vision, Glavin documents the blank terror, complexity, and danger of the human enterprise’s impact on our living planet while also finding hidden springs of hope and purpose. After reading The Sixth Extinction you may find surprising cause to smile through the tears.”--David Helvarg, author of The War Against the Greens and Blue Frontier

“An urgent, necessary book. Glavin writes with both passion and authority. Do yourself and this struggling world a favor: let this book . . . break your heart. Let it stir your soul.”--Mark Abley, author of Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages

“A wise and eloquent writer whose clear-eyed intelligence explores our conflicted relationship with nature. What Glavin has to tell is urgent, important, and well said.”--Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress

“I don’t have the space here to do full justice to Glavin’s poignant personal odyssey. But I will say that for all the ominous portents, he’s no apocalyptic environmental Jeremiah fired with misanthropic zeal. He’s an optimist. He has faith in humanity. He sees glimmers of hope already coalescing in the gathering storm.”--The Vancouver Sun

I see there's a wee excerpt of one of the more nuanced bits in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

Meanwhile, tomorrow night in Vancouver I'll be on a panel to debate Canada's policy in Afghanistan with Michael Byers, an expert in war law, a senior adviser to the New Democratic Party and academic director of the Liu Centre in International Relations at UBC; Jared Ferrie, a fine and brave reporter who's just come back from his second trip to Afghanistan; and Lauryn Oates, the vice-president of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (if ye don't have the decency to buy my book at least send W4WinA some money for Pete's sake).

At The Alibi Room, 157 Alexander Street at Main, 7:30 p.m.

Carry on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Here's The Hole in the Heart of American Politics

Right at the moment in American history when the power of the big media corporations was being seriously undermined by new forms of media -- everything from political-commentary blogs to easily-produced film documentaries -- the American left had no compelling narrative to offer.

It was crippled by its retreat into identity politics and the postmodernist acceptance of a world where there is no universal truth, where facts don't matter, everything is relative, and all reality is contingent and constructed. Just like a Michael Moore documentary.

In a world like that, there's little use for proper journalism. In a world like that, documentaries have little value except to entrench pre-ordained narratives and affirm political identities. Advocacy journalism becomes the work of telling your side what it wants to hear instead of what it might actually need to know.

It's all perfectly democratic, of course, and tailor-made for the marketplace. You get to pick the propaganda you want. You'll find demagogues like Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly down one aisle, and the equally fatuous and shrill Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell down the other aisle. Take your pick.

That's from my Tyee column today. Michael Moore fans won't like it.

Further reading for you:

Jesse Larner's Forgive Us Our Spins: Michael Moore and the Future of the Left. Also The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't be Jammed, by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter.

And make sure you take in a real documentary: Manufacturing Dissent, byDebbie Melnyk and Rick Caine.

Monday, April 16, 2007

"Support our comrades, always and everywhere"

I'm especially pleased to see that it's in Adbusters magazine that Max Dunbar is asking these questions. I've been asking the same sort of question myself lately (as in here, here and here).

Dunbar continues:

. . .We forget that most victims of Islamic zealotry are Muslims - from the bombings ordered by the cleric Sheik Abdullah bin Jabreen to the genital mutilation suffered by countless young women in the Islamic world. It shouldn't make the slightest difference that some of the fanatics also have a problem with Dubya. By supporting these fanatics, the left is backing the oppressor over the oppressed and the rich over the poor.

Read it all.

On Yom Hashoa, Show Solidarity With The Living

Am Yisrael Chai.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Slaves Still Waiting To Be Free: 12-27 Million

This year being the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade, there has been a fair amount of sober reflection on the iniquity of that institution. There's been a fine movie, Amazing Grace, and some useful contemplation upon the "original sin" of the American republic. But there's also been a wholly insufficient amount of attention paid to the persistence of slavery in the world.

That's what I'm on about in my Chronicles column this week. My argument is twofold.

First, the ritualized demand-and-supply of apologies and regrets arising from historical European enslavement of Africans places an overemphasis on colonialism and racism that tends to overlook important contradictions and exceptions. North Africans captured at least a million Europeans and sold them into slavery between the 16th and 19th centuries. Tens of thousands of Irish people were sold into slavery in the Caribbean by 17th-century British slavers. On Canada's west coast, an "octoroon" colonial governor took pains to eliminate aboriginal slavery. And so on.

Second, if you place an overemphasis on race and colonialism you'll overlook the category of class, where slavery more fundamentally belongs, at the very bottom rung of a hierarchy of wealth and power. If you fail to notice that, you'll fail to pay sufficiently urgent attention to the present. You might completely overlook the fact that today, slavery is big business. It's bigger than it's ever been.

The contemporary global slave trade is worth roughly $32 billion. Today's slaves are routinely children. They are sex slaves in Southeast Asia, field labourers in India and Turkey, textile workers in Bangladesh, and house servants in Chad.

The United Nations estimates that around the world today, between 12 million and 27 million people are slaves.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

It's 91s and 9s And Samson Crushes The Philistines

Since this weekend occupies the most important place in the liturgical calendar of my tribe - 91 years since the Easter Rising and 9 years since the Good Friday Agreement , by the way- I got to thinking.

Instead of portraying Samson as a Jewish suicide bomber in Gaza circa 1946, three blocks away from the oldest synagogue in Canada, in the middle of Passover, I wonder how things would have turned out if they'd gone with Cuchullain, portrayed as an Irish suicide bomber, in Dublin circa 1916, and it opened tonight, in say, South Boston? Here's the crowd they'd have been up against in Southy:

And here's my toast: War is over; Death to tyrants the world round. Here's some more fine pikey opposition to zombies. . .

. . .and two nice Protestant ladies singing a Passover song (The Jews safely crossed while Pharaoh's host was drownded in the waters and lost..):

UPDATE: That Dropkick Murphy who goes by the name of Rex has his way with Samson-tampering in the Globe, here, and this morning six of our own were blown up on the outskirts of Kandahar. I won't be feeling any empathy for the thugs who did it, thankyou.