Saturday, June 28, 2008

On Zimbabwe: Where Are You, Comrades?

Consider the following scenario:

An international mining conglomerate is poised to honor a $400m deal which will bolster an African dictator currently visiting murderous violence upon his people. Said dictator is following through with a sham election which the opposition, as a result of grotesque intimidation, has been forced to pull out of. The conglomerate is headquartered in a democratic country governed by a party affiliated with the Socialist International; said government has urged companies not to conduct business with the dictator. But the mining conglomerate is defending its position by pointing to the economic benefits of the deal, neglecting to mention that, as a result of the dictator’s abuses, inflation is so off the charts that not even the IMF can track it anymore.

Now the question: what should the left do?

As most of you will have worked out, the above isn’t a hypothetical. The dictator is Robert Mugabe, the country is Zimbabwe, the conglomerate is Anglo-American and the left is…where, exactly?

The question is put by my comrade Ben Cohen.

Sensible answers are welcome. The usual evasions about "smearing the left" are unwelcome.

Stand up for our Zimbabwean brothers and sisters.

Friday, June 27, 2008

V is for Victory, Valour, and A Vote Boycott

A glorious morning in Bulawayo.

Long live the Zimbabwean people. Death to tyrants everywhere.

(Thanks to Will for finding the poster.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Our Beloved George

Born June 25, Motihari, India.

From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.

Highly recommended: Why Orwell Matters, by Christopher Hitchens.

"Like Orwell, Hitchens is a leftist who dislikes the pacifist “pinks” (Orwell's phrase) who define official leftism. He devotes one-third of his book to refuting Orwell's leftwing critics, who see conservative tendencies in his work, both in his stand on cultural issues and in his reverence for tradition."

Thanks for reminding me, Comrade Hakmao.

Lots of George here. Also here.

Meanwhile, Mugabe's overthrow is overdue:

"The battle in Zimbabwe today is a battle between democracy and dictatorship, justice and injustice, right and wrong. It is one in which the international community must become more than a moral participant. It must become mobilised."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tarek Fatah: Canada's Media Provide Enough Platforms To The Islamist Far Right

"It is not just the Toronto Star that has left readers to believe right-wing orthodox and conservative Muslims are the only true face of Islam in Canada. The Globe and Mail's only regular Muslim columnist is Sheema Khan. Khan is a former president of CAIR, the U.S.-based Islamist organization that receives Middle East monies and has been declared an unindicted co-conspirator in a Texas terror trial. Of course, Sheema Khan is no longer with CAIR and has written some excellent op-eds and has a bit more courage to write the truth than the men in the movement have.

"There is more. Khurrum’s guru, Elmasry, had a regular column in the National Post until the good professor declared all Israeli civilians valid military targets on live TV.

"The SUN group of newspapers has a Muslim columnist in Prof. Salim Mansur, but I guess the good professor is too good-looking to be considered an "authentic" Muslim. Similarly, the Hamilton Spectator has a bi-weekly column by Pakistan-Canadian poet and writer Tahir Aslam Gora. I suppose he too is not ugly enough to fit Khurrum’s definition of a 'brother.'

"Khurrum suggests there is no place for him to air his views. Really? There are over 12 weekly Arabic newspapers in Canada, including one that is the voice of Hezbollah in Canada. There are 24 newsweeklies in Urdu, seven in Bangla, a dozen in Persian and many more in Turkish and Somali that churn out hundreds of pages every week. In addition, there are at least a dozen TV shows dedicated to Islam, which churn out propaganda for Islamists under the cover of multiculturalism."

An excellent essay.

The same point appeared here in only a slightly different context. Also here.

And here: "A 'curtain of fear' has descended upon Canada's intellectual class . . . partly because multiculturalism has rendered many Canadians incapable of recognizing fascism when it comes in an 'ethnic' or 'religious' guise. . . there is a certain tendency, especially among leftists, to regard radical Islamism as a defensible response to western imperialism."

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'd Like To Accept This Award On Behalf Of A Certain Mr. Bing, If That's Allowed. . .

At the National Magazine Awards Gala in Toronto this evening, I won the Silver prize in the Essays Category for Looking For Mr. Bing, which appeared last year in that great quarterly, the Vancouver Review. The Gold went to George Jonas for his Meditations on Israel (Queen's Quarterly). Good on ye, George.

Honourable Mentions went to Nicolas Langelier for De l'utilisation du mot pute par la jeune femme moderne, in L'Actualite; Mark Steyn, for The human drama the jury didn't see, in Macleans; Edward Keenan for Markham & Lawrence East, in Spacing Magazine; Jonathan Garfinkel for A House Divided, in The Walrus Magazine; Rick Salutin for The Autobiography of an Idea, also in The Walrus Magazine; and last but in no way least, my colleague Charlotte Gill, for Eating Dirt, also in the Vancouver Review.

I also see my friend Tadzio Richards (one of my students!) won the Gold in the investigative journalism category for Burning Water, in Maissoneuve.

If I'd been at the event, I'd have made a mushy acceptance speech to profusely thank Vancouver Review editor Gudrun Will and her ace photographer-artist colleague Mark Mushet; Historian Jim Wolf; Historian and heritage adviser Jennifer Iredale; My dear comrade Todd Wong; Chang Bo, consular officer with the Guangdong Foreign Office; my companions and colleagues Peng Yangyi and Guo Xu Yue in Guangdong, and all the kind people there who took me in for tea and conversation.

If I'd been sufficiently liquored up I expect I might have asked the awards-ceremony revelers to spare a thought for the millions of workers who toil in China without benefit of free trade unions or civil rights protection, and I would probably have mentioned Hu Xinyu, a 25-year-old who was worked to death in a Guangdong factory a couple of years ago, and Yang Xixiang, a Guangzhou toy-factory worker who died from brain-stem bleeding last year after working a 21-hour shift.

But as for thanks, I would have reserved my most heartfelt appreciation for our beloved Mr. Bing, a kind man in a Homburg hat and a black greatcoat who showed my family great kindness when were hillbilly immigrants without a clue about the new world we'd come to, many, many years ago.

Corky Moves On

Corky Evans, Yank-turned-Canadian, then logger-turned-politician, and always one of ours:

"I was raised in a country, the United States, where to say you are a socialist is to so limit your career options that nobody would vote for anybody stupid enough to make such a statement. Imagine my surprise and wonder when I found myself living in a country where socialists not only say what they believe but sometimes win and, once and a while, in the odd Province, even govern."

Evans, author of The Return of The Ruling Class, could have been (should have been) elected leader of the New Democratic Party. But rather than imagine what it would be like to have him as premier, we are now left to imagine the British Columbia legislature without him.

Corky may be leaving the big house, but don't for a moment think that's the last we'll hear from him.

Here's Vaughan Palmer's tribute to Corky.

Corky in Question Period: "I quit reading newspapers when I realized the press gallery wouldn't walk 100 metres to listen to farmers unless they were bribed with free liquor, and wouldn't print a story anyway unless the farmers would agree to attack the government."

And this: "The market goes up and the market goes down. It always has. In 1982 the market was in the basement. We had to hide our Cat in the bush to keep the repo man from taking it away. But we came back. The job of the minister is to see to it that the people are there when the market comes back. My question to the minister is: Were you instructed to kill this industry, or are you doing it on your own?"

Always the liberal democrat, too:

"I believe in it. I am like the Jew who has lived among the refugees in Palestine and still believes in Israel. I am like the Catholic investigator of abuses by the clergy and still believes in the church. I believe in the idea of citizens choosing their leadership. I really, really like to live in a country where you can make a credible run to be Premier on money raised at bake sales. I tell kids all the time that societies choose governments with votes or with guns and votes are better."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Counterpunch, Official Organ of the Reactionary Left, on Afghanistan

This latest contribution from Counterpunch, written by the raging anti-semite Eric Walberg - former publicist for Uzbek tyrant Islam Karimov, contributor to the holocaust-denial Adelaide Institute, "anti-war" activist, etc. - contains a variety of lies and ugly slanders, all wrapped up in a nice little package of openly pro-Taliban propaganda, brought to you by uber-pseud Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn.

To Walberg (about whom more here), Canadian soldiers are "kuffar. . . non-Muslim foreign occupiers. . . who invaded the country illegally and have killed hundreds of thousands of resistance fighters and innocent civilians illegally," and now they have murdered scores of Afghan "locals" in Pashmul. The Taliban, meanwhile, constitute the "legitimate government" of Afghanistan, and are, of course, "patriots."

And as for "the bizarrely named Princess Patricia's Light Infantry Company," it's actually the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Second Battalion.

Meanwhile, I'm sure the fascist scum at Counterpunch will be similarly displeased with this news, too:

Yesterday, under sunny skies, the Afghan team beat out Nepal. Within seconds of the win being declared, the field was stormed by Afghan flags and celebration. Most of the team dropped to their knees and thanked Allah. Their win means that they are now guaranteed a spot in Div. 4, which is one step closer to the World Cup qualification. In October, they will travel to Tanzania to compete in that championship.

Today is the final against Jersey, a team made up of investment bankers, and moneyed professionals. It is expected the crowds will be in the thousands, as people turn out to see the Afghan "kamikazi" style talent taking on the Jersey home team.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Thanks very much, sister Aaju: I'd like some raw, with soya sauce and wasabe, please.

What looks gruesome to urbanites, says Aaju Peter, an Inuit from Iqaluit, in the Nunavut Territory, looks “delicious” and “natural” to her. She also politely suggests that Europeans look first to their own boar and deer hunts, not to mention their slaughterhouses. And fair play to brother Jim Winter of the Canadian Sealers Association, too, who says: “I'll be damned if I let them sons of bitches write my epitaph as a barbarian.”

Long live Nunavut. Long live Newfoundland. Support Our Swilers.