Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Well. Look At What The Cat Dragged In.

Okay, six weeks without posting here. I am very bad. I've been very busy. So we'll work backwards from my column today:

Another day, another pogrom in Pakistan: What Canada can do about any of this is a question worth debating, but the criticisms of the Office of Religious Freedom initiative have been mainly parochial, stupidly partisan and churlish, especially the notion that it is likely to show some sort of unseemly favouritism to Christians. The ugliest insinuation along these lines came from the notoriously creepy Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose Amira Elghawaby couldn’t resist sneering that Ambassador Bennett’s Catholicism would make him “biased toward Christian groups.” 

One can only hope that Bennett will not overcompensate to show his even-handedness, given what is now evident to everyone from the Economist magazine to the Vatican, from the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom to the Pew Research Center, and from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Rupert Shortt, the religion editor of the Times Literary Supplement: the overwhelming majority of the religious who suffer persecution throughout the world today happen to be Christians.

But who said the dumbest thing about the Office of Religious Freedom? My vote goes to Liberal MP David McGuinty, who "also criticized the move as a blurring of the time-honoured line that separates church and state. He said Canada already has a safeguard for religious freedom. 'We have a document in this country that does that, it's called the Charter of Rights.'"

(Insert sound of crickets here).

McGuinty appears to have mistaken Pakistan, the Sudan, Tibet and Iran for jurisdictions covered by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He also appears to be in desperate need of someone to disabuse him of his delusion that Canada is the United States, where there really is a line separating church and state.

Anyway. On the subject of theocratic bullies and crackpots, what to do about the Khomeinists and their ten-year unblemished record of nuclear subterfuge, shell-gaming, lies and defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council? I don't know, quite frankly.

Nobody wants a war with Iran, but sanctions clearly aren’t working. China — Iran’s main trading partner — adamantly opposes any further sanctions. In Canada’s submission to the IAEA this week, the word “sanctions” doesn’t appear once. “The crisis over Iran’s nuclear program has persisted for ten years and the international community simply cannot allow this impasse to continue,” Canada’s report asserts. “Should Iran continue to refuse to cooperate with the IAEA, against the wishes of the Board of Governors, the Board must consider additional robust action.” 

Whatever that “robust action” might entail, a very safe bet is that it will produce no discernible result unless and until bombs begin falling on Iranian targets. Nobody wants that to happen. But nobody wants a nuclear-armed Iran, either. In any event, the carnival has to be brought to an end. 

Now. How about that Hugo Chavez guy, eh? What's his legacy? I'm not impressed:

He leaves behind a broken and corrupted judiciary, the upper echelons of the country’s armed forces infested with drug lords, millions of Venezuelans living in fear of the knock on the door in the night, a currency worth only a fifth of what it was a decade ago, food shortages, crumbling roads, collapsing bridges, crippling inflation, ballooning deficits, a rigged currency, an epidemic of street crime, and rolling electricity blackouts.

Boy did that one ever get me in trouble with a certain class of person. You know the type. Bernard Henri Levi call it the "posthumous cult of Chavez," and notices that it "swells and grows more toxic" the more putrid el commandante's corpse becomes. James Bloodworth is very much worth reading on the subject, from a proper democratic socialist perspective (James is always worth reading, actually). At the Globe and Mail, Doug Saunders helpfully notices that there has been a revolution of sorts going on in Latin American in recent years, and the poor and dispossessed have been benefiting from it, and Hugo Chavez has had nothing to do with it at all.  

For some reason I can't help but think that Justin Trudeau would have gone just all squishy with excitement to have had the chance to hang out with Hugo and Sean and Naomi and Oliver. Certainly his Castro-fetishizing brother Alexandre would have felt right at ease, but it will not be, c'est dommage, and so I guess I'll just have to settle for pointing out how spectacularly easy it is to invite comparisons between Justin Trudeau and Sarah Palin, and Silvio Berlusconi.

Here's what is not easy: watching this video without laughing yourself sick.Perhaps not so funny: Canada’s very own Liberal Party is on actually the verge of handing its crown to someone it would not be entirely wrong to call a largely talentless and insufferably foppish celebrity drama queen.

You know who's a smart guy and a good egg? Kennedy Stewart. He's an NDP MP. He's got some idea about how to make Canada's democracy work better. Long story short: Kennedy Stewart is no jackass. There are dangerous ideas hovering at the edges of his private member’s bill, but they’re not all stupid ideas. Not by a long shot. Stewart should be allowed to proceed. But he should proceed with extreme caution.

Here we go: everybody gets all angsty and shouty about Canadian history. Odd, the fallout. There was lots of it, for things I didn't write and ideas I don't have. The thing is, my shelves fairly groan and creak with the cultural and social histories certain academic historians decided I don't like. Odd. I think its because so many of them are still furious with Jack Granatstein for having interesting things to say. In any case, if nothing else I will have introduced Christopher Dummit to a wider audience. Here's his take on the subject of my column. 

Er, actually, his ideas were the subject of my column. Oh you know what I mean. Just keep an eye on Christopher Dummitt. He's proper smart.            

For sticking with me this far, a treat. Here's a pack of fine gadgies kicking up a storm in the North Carolina Mountains, I believe 1962, at Old Man Bascom Lunsford's Place:


Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Others noted at comment at CDFAI's "3Ds Blog":

"Chavez Not Quite Lenin or Stalin"


1:21 PM  

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