Friday, April 30, 2010

Canada-Israel Committee hails MEC membership's wisdom

Nothing much happened at the MEC AGM last night. There was some anti-Israel pamphleteering outside by a few lonely senior citizens, but none of that was brought inside and no one tried to use the meeting to make political speeches. Since it was announced that the special resolutions put on the recent ballot were passed by the membership, no one could attempt to advance an anti-Israel resolution at the AGM. Nonetheless, despite the uneventfulness of the AGM, members should consider attending future AGMs to keep informed and engaged with our Co-op. And besides, the catering at the end of the night constituted a decent feast.

April 29, 2010

BUYcott Victory at Mountain Equipment Co-op

VANCOUVER, BC - Supporters of Mountain Equipment Co-op’s (MEC) ethical sourcing policy and friends of Israel were pleased with the results of the recent MEC elections, released Thursday night. Canada-Israel Committee, with the support of Canadian Jewish Congress – Pacific Region and Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver, called on MEC members to vote “yes” on five special resolutions that safeguard the co-op’s constitution against abuse from single-issue political activists.

“Mountain Equipment Co-op members must be commended for passing these five resolutions. These measures will prevent groups that seek to misuse MEC’s organizational structure to make controversial and divisive political statements from doing so,” stated Dr. Michael Elterman, Chair of the Canada-Israel Committee Pacific Region.

Over the last 12 months, Canada’s pro-Israel community has mobilized in defense of MEC’s ethical sourcing policy. Combined with the support of MEC members, this resulted in the rejection of a boycott proposal at last year’s AGM. The boycott effort ended up backfiring on its proponents, with MEC sales of Israeli products actually increasing by some 2000% in a single day last November, following a demonstration of solidarity by the Jewish community and MEC members.

“Organizations like MEC should never be used as a platform for offensive political messages. We have every confidence that the MEC board will continue its record of support for the co-op’s existing ethical sourcing policy,” Elterman concluded. “These resolutions are a step in the right direction towards preserving MEC the way it should be – a cooperative that unites its members and puts politics aside.”


For more information, contact:

Dan Schloss

Manager, Advocacy

Canada-Israel Committee - Pacific Region


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Out, damned spot! out, I say!

Gordon Brown heard on mic calling a voter a 'bigot' | The Sun |News|Election 2010
BLUNDERING Gordon Brown has been caught on microphone calling a voter a "bigot".

The Prime Minister was heard describing an exchange he had just had with lifelong Labour supporter Gillian Duffy, 65 — on the campaign trail in Rochdale, Lancs, today — as a "disaster".

He made the comments as he got into his car after speaking to Mrs Duffy — not realising that he still had the Sky News mic pinned to his shirt.

He told an aide: "That was a disaster - they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It's just ridiculous."

Asked what she had said, he replied: "Everything, she was just a bigoted woman."

The PM was approached by the grandmother in the street after visiting a community payback scheme in Rochdale.

She tackled him on a series of issues including the national debt, taxes, student financing and immigration.

Mrs Duffy, a widow, said she was "very disappointed" with Mr Brown's remarks.

After hearing what the Prime Minister had said about her, she said it was "very upsetting".

She added: "He's an educated person, why has he come out with words like that?
Well Mrs. Duffy, this reminds me of something one of the more learned people Canada has ever produced, Northrop Frye, once wrote: education doesn't make bad people good; it makes them more dangerous.

In the world view of the most dangerous people in the West, a woman politely raising concerns about immigration becomes a disaster and a bigot. Pretty much sums up the Gnostic's war against the common people and the nation which can never live up to his world-transforming fantasies. However, it seems that Gordon Brown is now learning what all Gnostics are fated to experience: humiliation at the hands of the unaccomodating reality of ordinary people

Mrs. Duffy has declared she won't vote in this election. Her longtime Labourite faith has been dashed. Too much reality all around. And as Duffy notes the would-be elect are not even trying to transform the most unbending object:
he's not doing anything about the national debt and it's going to be tax, tax, tax for another 20 years to get out of this mess - and he's calling me a bigot.

(Mrs. Duffy on hearing what Gordon Brown thinks of her - from video here)
More Video and commentary.

RELATED (Roger L. Simon):
I have said something like this before, but at the risk of being a bore, and because of the times in which we live, I will repeat myself:

The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism is that contemporary American-style liberalism is in rigor mortis. Liberals have nothing else to say or do. Accusations of racism are their last resort.

The European debt crisis — first Greece, then Portugal and now Spain (and Belgium, Ireland and Italy, evidently) — has shown the welfare state to be an unsustainable economic system. The US, UK and Japan, according to the same Financial Times report, are also on similar paths of impoverishment through entitlements.

Many of us have known this for a long time, just from simple math. Entitlements are in essence a Ponzi scheme. Now we have to face that and do something serious about it or our economy (the world economy) will fall apart.

Liberals, leftists or progressives — whatever they choose to call themselves — have a great deal of trouble accepting this. To do so they would have to question a host of positions they have not examined for years, if ever, not to mention have to engage in discussions that could threaten their livelihood and jeopardize their personal and family associations...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another reason "Islamism" is a useful concept

Islam has a history that makes it more than what its true believers often argue; both Muslims and anti-Islam polemicists often think the question of what is Islam is exhausted by the foundational texts and so, given the relentless pitting of believers against (frequently cursed) unbelievers in these texts, it is pointless to distinguish, say, radical "Islamism" from Islam. Yet Islam remains a work in progress, as great propagandists have always known, and we need ways to denote what is particular to our times:
Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World :: Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Ideas the Nazis spread in the Middle East have had an enduring twofold legacy. First, as in Europe, they built on existing prejudices against Jews to transform that prejudice into something far more paranoid, aggressive, and murderous. One U.S. intelligence report from 1944 estimated that anti-Jewish materials constituted fully half of German propaganda directed to the Middle East. The Nazis saw virtually all developments in the region through the Jewish prism and exported this obsession.

The fruits of this effort are seen not only in decades of furious Muslim anti-Zionism, personified by Arafat and Ahmadinejad, but also in the persecution of ancient Jewish communities in countries like Egypt and Iraq, which have now shriveled to near-extinction, plus the employment of Nazis such as Johann van Leers and Aloïs Brunner in important government positions. Thus did the Nazi legacy oppress Jewry in the Middle East post-1945.

Second, Islamism took on a Nazi quality. As someone who has criticized the term Islamofascism on the grounds that it gratuitously conflates two distinct phenomena, I have to report that Herf's evidence now leads me to acknowledge deep fascist influences on Islamism. This includes the Islamist hatred of democracy and liberalism and its contempt for multiple political parties, preference for unity over division, cult of youth and militarism, authoritarian moralism, cultural repression, and illiberal economics.

Beyond specifics, that influence extends to what Herf calls an "ability to introduce a radical message in ways that resonated with, yet deepened and radicalized, already existing sentiments." Although a scholar of Europe by training, Herf's detective work in the U.S. archives has opened a new vista on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Islamism, as well as made a landmark contribution more broadly to an understanding of the modern Middle East.

Vancouver readers and MEC members, this is for you

Dan Schloss of the Canada Israel Committee is looking for pro-Israel members of Mountain Equipment Co-op to turn out to the AGM this Thursday evening.
Over the last 12 months, Canada’s pro-Israel community has mobilized in support of Mountain Equipment Co-op’s (MEC) ethical sourcing policy, increasing their sales of Israeli products by some 2000% in a single day on November 29, 2009.

We need to show our continued support for MEC’s commitment to corporate responsibility, while opposing its politicization by members only interested in demonizing Israel.

MEC members as of January 8, 2010 are asked to attend the MEC AGM on Thursday, April 29, 2010 between 6 pm and 8:30 pm at the Simon Fraser University Segal School of Business at 500 Granville Street.

BUYcott Israel Alert: Mountain Equipment Co-op – AGM Call to Action « BUYcott Alerts

I believe Dan thinks there is a chance that the meeting could be hijacked by the anti-Israel group that did so last year, if the special resolutions proposed by the MEC board and on the recent election ballot do not pass (results to be announced at the AGM).

I see on the CIC web site this interesting observation on the mob frenzy of the Israel boycotters, the unthinking push to find a scapegoat for the world's ills, as the basis for the "solidarity" of today's ever-more networked global village.

However, Israel, as a multiethnic and multilingual nation is worthy of our support for being a real model of how to marry globalism and the need for small nations as a guarantor of democracy and self-ruling freedom. The possible illustrations of this I could point to are endless. But here's one I came across today, a site devoted to reconnecting "hidden Jews" with the family that is Israel. Check out the video on Shavei Israel's homepage.

"Mom, You Look Like A Hooker"

...says the 17-year old daughter to her 40-something divorced mother, in a new battlefront in the age-old war between youthful rebellion and the "wisdom" of one's elders.

Originally from Seventeen magazine, an article counseling on "...a new wave of moms [doing] more than making you blush: They act so sexy and flirtatious, they make you question their judgment — and your own sanity."

... Meghan, 17, says her 46-year-old mom dated the same guy who'd dated one of her 18-year-old friends; Hunter, 18, sometimes feels as if her friends like her cougar mom more than they like her; and Jessica, 16, reports that ever since her parents got divorced last year, her mom "dresses up in short skirts and dates guys who are barely 25, then tells me everything about her sex life. It's so awkward."
[G]irls who are cool with cougar moms are the exception: The majority of girls who shared their stories with Seventeen wished their moms would change their embarrassing ways. Take Erica, 17. After her parents split up two years ago, her mom dyed her hair blonde and started wearing clothes "so tight they could be mistaken for a second skin." But that wasn't as traumatizing as what she says her mom started doing next: partying all night at clubs and sometimes not even coming home. After a few months, Erica says her mom even drained Erica's college tuition money to buy herself breast implants. "One night, a friend called to tell me she saw my mom leave a club with some guy," Erica says. "Hours after the call, my mom still wasn't home, so I made my dad drive around town with me to look for her — I was worried she could be hurt or in an accident." When Erica arrived at the club to look for her mom, she found her — in a car, hooking up with a guy who'd recently graduated from Erica's high school! "I was so humiliated and angry. I shouldn't have to be a 17-year-old babysitting a 40-year-old woman. It's not cool at all to have a cougar mom. I feel totally robbed of being a teenager."
But some moms do change. Jessica, 17, says that after her parents' divorce, her mom was a total cougar. "She started dressing younger than she was and went through younger boyfriends like crazy," Jessica says. "I felt like her new life was more important to her than I was. But one day when she came out wearing a fishnet tube top and super-short shorts with three-inch heels, I flat out told her, 'Mom, you look like a hooker.' She treated it like a huge wake-up call, and it got us talking. ... Soon after that, everything changed: She broke up with her boyfriend, got a job, started acting her age, and made me a priority."

It's seems pretty hit-or-miss whether or not a parent can successfully pass their values along to their children, just as there's no guarantee that every student will automatically absorb the lessons laid out by their teacher.

When we witness examples of bad kids emerging from good homes, we might despair at these lack of guarantees. In the big picture view, however, I wonder whether the incalculability of the learning process is, in fact, the Lesser of Evils, if it allows for young people seemingly hopeful of living good lives, to see brazen examples of how *not* to become better people, and to possess the reasoned ability to reject them.

Surely this is preferable to the alternative, that would see the young student of life simply adopting modeled behavior unquestionably, unhesitantly, with no self-examination involved in the process; for what happens when, as in the above examples, the student is presented with a far-from-worthy teacher?

As my best teacher, my mom, once put it to me after I had been too successful, and too unquestioning, a student of unworthy behavior:

"If your friends all jumped off a cliff, would you jump off too??"

Thank God for the gift of Free Will, acting sometimes as brake as well as gas pedal to help us negotiate the many roads we travel through life.

[Thanks to Laura at The Thinking Housewife, home to many thoughtful discussions about all the important lessons that you'd never learn in school]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Radio Memories: False Mirrors

History is ultimately story; a narrative based on that most imperfect of sources, the human mind, and its most unreliable contents, human memory.

Our Sunday series of Radio Memories posts has usually tried to modestly sharpen our understanding of history by unearthing buried relics from the dearly departed art form of radio drama; a re-examination of stories fallen through the cracks of memory, hopefully illuminating a side of ourselves that had been forgotten. So much of learning involves re-learning, after all; remembering hard-earned lessons too quickly forgotten, too readily mis-understood.

Family memories of the days before television inevitably include stories of the hours spent devouring the audio art of theatrical radio: radio drama, the theater of the mind. Comedy, adventure, thrillers, romance... a wide variety of programming involving sound effects, mood music, evocative acting and provocative story-telling, of such power that decades later a request to share those memories inevitably sparks the warmest of smiles, the fondest of memories, from those fortunate enough to have experienced them firsthand, through the 1930s, '40s, and '50s.

One engaging series that deserves more attention is CBS' valiant attempt at making history interesting to those under the mistaken impression that history was, somehow, a boring subject. The brainchild of the mercurial humorist Goodman Ace, You Are There was premised on a delightful whimsy tailor-made for the imagination-based medium of radio drama: what if CBS' news department had been in operation at the major events in past history, using the same pool of correspondents that had recently covered the epic Second World War?

Last April we offered the You Are There episode on the suspenseful capture of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth; in a related sequel this Sunday we jump ahead a few years to the dramatic high point of Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson... and the beginning of a false memory, a distortion of history.

When we know anything about the impeachment of President Johnson at all, we might think that he was bullied and bruised by extremist "Radical Republicans", by "...a Congress, determined to avenge the devastation and slaughter of The War, turned its anger on President Johnson for advocating Lincoln's policy of a charitable peace, based upon his well-remembered words, 'with malice towards none'," as John Charles Daly himself sets the stage in the February 27 1949 broadcast below.

I respectfully propose that we all think a second time about how trustworthy that memory might be.

Let's look at Andrew Johnson's life, as prologue to the re-enacted concluding chapter presented on the You Are There show.

Democrat Andrew Johnson was one of the 12 slave-owning Presidents of the United States, although he is one of the four who did not own slaves while serving as President. Elected mayor of Greenville Tennessee in 1834, he started his political career by helping pass a new Constitution for that state which denied freed blacks the right to vote. After representing Tennessee in Congress in the 1840s, where he voted in favor of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, he became Governor of Tennessee in 1853. As Governor he signed into law legislation that required blacks freed from slavery to be deported; not to another state, but deported to Africa.

During the fractious 1860 Presidential election, the Democrat Party split in two, seeing the Southern States nominating former Vice President John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky as Presidential candidate, since the candidate selected at the Democratic National Convention, Illinois Senator (and perennial Lincoln rival) Stephen A. Douglas was viewed as not bigoted enough on the issue of slavery to be worthy of support. The split enabled the candidate of the newly-formed Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, to win the Presidency with only 40% of the vote.

Johnson supported Breckenridge in that contest.

Despite his support for slavery, professed again and again on the Senate floor, War Democrat Andrew Johnson nevertheless remained loyal to the Union. He continued to represent the state of Tennessee as its military governor through the early years of the Civil War. In 1862, Johnson persuaded the Republican President to exclude his state from Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, ensuring that slavery would continue in the Southern state of Tennessee, as it would in Northern slave states.

President Lincoln faced a tough re-election campaign in 1864: in an effort to broaden their appeal to War Democrats the party name was changed from Republican to the National Union Party, and the convention selected Johnson to fill Hannibal Hamlin's Vice Presidential seat. What followed was a curious choice for a party founded on abolishing slavery, but ends justify means in politics then as today, it seems: it was thought that Democrat Andrew Johnson would attract enough northern Democrat votes away from Peace Democrat candidate General McLellan to help make up for increased defections in the Republican ranks. The most pro-abolitionist wing of the party, known as the "Radical Republicans", were disappointed with Lincoln's slow moves to end slavery during the war, and in particular his vetoing of the "Ironclad Oath", a measure that would prevent slavery-supporting Confederates from holding political office after the war. They set up a new party of their own, the Radical Democrat Party, and held their convention a month before the Republicans had scheduled their own. Former Lincoln-supporting abolitionists such as Wendel Phillips turned once again to the original Republican Presidential standard-bearer, John C. Fremont, as their candidate.

The assasination of Lincoln in April of 1865 thrust Democrat Johnson to the Presidency, and with Congress recessed until December of that year, the immediate burdens of forging peace fell upon the former slave-owner's shoulders. The state governments installed under his approach to "reconstruction" saw former Confederate combattants emerge in positions of political prominence, enabling the exact opposite result intended by the "Ironclad Oath" favored by the Radical Republicans: the Southern states returned to office the same kind of pro-slavery Confederate Democrats that had been in power prior to the war. These Democrat politicans promptly enacted 'black codes' calculated to circumvent the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which had abolished slavery in the United States.

When the Republican-dominated Congress finally reconvened, they tried to renew the authority of the wartime government office of the Freedman's Bureau, charged with providing medical aid, food and shelter to the freed black slaves. President Johnson vetoed the bill to renew, but his veto was successfully over-ridden by the Senate, despite every single Democrat voting to sustain Johnson's veto.

Reacting to the Southern Democrats black codes, which stripped millions of blacks of their legal rights, Republican Congressmen passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, in an attempt to guarantee the right to vote for anyone born in the United States of America. President Johnson vetoed the Act, but the Senate once again overrode his veto, as did the House, allowing the Act to become Law.

In January 1867 President Johnson vetoed a bill to grant the right to vote to blacks living in the District of Columbia, the very capital of the country. His veto was over-ridden by the Senate and the Congress the following day.

The "Radical Republicans" tried to thwart Southern Democrats' efforts to continue to deny blacks the right to vote, through the First Reconstruction Act in early March 1868. This Act was vetoed by President Johnson; once again the Senate and Congress managed to over-ride his veto.

The Second Reconstruction Act of March 1868 was also vetoed by President Johnson; this time his veto was over-ridden the same day, March 22nd.

Two more Reconstruction Acts were vetoed by the President, and twice more his vetoes were over-ridden by an increasingly frustrated Senate and Congress.

In his State of the Union message delivered on December 3rd, 1867, President Johnson devotes paragraph after paragraph to his views on why it was such a mistake to give black-skinned citizens of the US the right to vote:
The morality is always false which excuses a wrong because it proposes to accomplish a desirable end. We are not permitted to do evil that good may come. But in this case the end itself is evil, as well as the means. The subjugation of the States to Negro domination would be worse than the military despotism under which they are now suffering.
It is not proposed merely that they shall govern themselves, but that they shall rule the white race, make and administer State laws, elect Presidents and members of Congress, and shape to a greater or less extent the future destiny of the whole country. Would such a trust and power be safe in such hands?
This is the historical background leading to Johnson's impeachment by the Congress, and the history-making vote in the Senate dramatized in this Sunday's installment of Radio Memories, below. Keep the above record in mind as you listen to the demonizing of the "Radical Republicans", determined to right the wrongs of history and establish the equal rights so long denied so many citizens of the Republic of the United States of America.

History is story, based on memory. Memory is faulty, in need of constant renewal; lack of such refreshing of memory in this case has resulted the story of President Andrew Johnson's impeachment becoming distorted like a funhouse mirror, re-shaped to serve the pressing political needs of the present age.

In his mammoth 1,200-page chronicle of another President Johnson, "The Years Of Lyndon Johnson Vol 3: Master Of The Senate", Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert A. Caro describes the 1865-1868 period as "[f]our years of struggle between a Congress dominated by Radical Republicans determined to solidify the equality of races and humble the Confederacy and a President more interested in reconciliation than revenge..." [page 24]

"Reconciliation", indeed. But, it's the "story" that we all know, the faulty memory we seem fated to remember.

Another author, Bruce Bartlett, recently revisited the historical record to refresh his, and our, memory on this chapter of North America's story. Bartlett summarizes his findings on the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson as follows:

"The textbooks still portray Johnson as the injured party and Republicans as the bully -- using extra-constitutional methods to usurp presidential power.
In fact, Congress had ample grounds for impeachment. It's mistake was in believing that it had to find Johnson guilty of violating the law to justify removing him from office, rather than simply saying that Johnson was not doing his job properly and removing him for that reason. But Johnson hadn't really broken the law, and the specific grounds upon which the House based impeachment were extremely weak. The Senate was right not to convict on them."
["Wrong On Race", Chapter 2, page 37]
The 1868 Presidential election was won by Republican candidate (and former US General) Ulysses S Grant; when the 15th Amendment was passed the following year, guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race. The last gasp of Reconstruction occurred in 1875, with the passing of Republican Senator Charles Sumner and Republican Benjamin Butler's Civil Rights Act, legislation designed to curb the ongoing discrimination against blacks in the South.

Unfortunately the many Republican attempts to bring equal rights to blacks in the South were undone in 1876, with the election of the next GOP President, Rutherford B. Hayes. The world got to hear quite a bit about the Hayes-Tilden disputed election of 1876 as it witnesed the disputed Bush-Gore election of 2000; what we didn't hear much about, was the compromise agreed upon to help resolve the deadlock in various southern state legislatures. Federal troops stationed in the former Confederate states were finally withdrawn, and with them went the will to enforce the various anti-discrimination measures enacted by the Republican-dominated Congress over the previous decade. In their place came the Jim Crow segregation policies, poverty, illiteracy, and misery that characterized the Democratic "solid south" record on race for almost a full century.

It took another Civil War, this time within the Democratic Party itself, to finally see the stirrings of conscience, the beginnings of justice, and the promise of peace.

In fact, broadcast as it was in the aftermath of the 1948 Presidential election, the listeners to this show would have been familiar with the latest Democratic Party split: the formation of the States Rights Democratic Party, or "Dixiecrats"... southern Democrats determined to preserve the "southern way of life" in the face of Democrat President Truman's stalled efforts to finally, finally, see a country where every citizen could vote.

And could rightfully say, as he looked in his mirror, that he presided over the Land of the Free.

Previous 2010 Radio Memories posts:

Great Gildersleeve: 1947 Easter show
Lux Radio Theater: Hitler's Children
Biography In Sound: The Story Of Science Fiction
Mr President: Romance In The White House
Frontier Fighters: George Pickett
Destination Freedom: Citizen Toussaint [Toussaint L'Ouverture]
Ports Of Call: Haiti

For a list of our 2009 Radio Memories listings, go here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breathing New Life Into The American Trinity

There is much truth to be found in fantasy, which helps explain, I suppose, our ongoing fascination with dreams. And cartoons.

No matter how old I get I hope I never grow too old to enjoy cartoons. Watching some childhood favorites again through Youtube, I see them today with new eyes, as exhibits of something I absorbed but never understood, when first observing them at a younger age.

The Hollywood theatrical cartoon of the forties and fifties is so delightfully, unapologetically, indelibly American. The best of them reflect the best of American civilization: its capacity for keeping faith, its belief in re-invention... both cultural tenets joining as one, in the form of the Happy Ending. (In the above example, a pragmatic Happy Ending, making it all the more quintessentially American: where else is it so ingrained to take lemons and turn them into lemonade..?)

A further American trait I see on display in many of the old cartoons, going hand in hand with the ideal of re-invention, are their many examples of forgiveness. Old enemies putting aside deeply-held grievances in order to rally and address a new and greater problem, exhibiting the rare self-discipline of not holding a grudge.

Growing out from the ability to keep faith in oneself, benefiting from the belief in the Second Chance formula of “try, try again”, comes the true arena for success: a forum that preserves the freedom to fail, so that by trial and error you may learn what you are best suited to become. We are not born to follow in our parents' footsteps unless that ends up being the choice we select for ourselves.

Put them all together and what do you get?

In God We Trust (the most self-renewing source of self-confidence), e pluribus unum [“from the many, one”] (the recipe for moving on from old grudges arising out of old relationships, looking to see what may be shared in common as well as where there may be differences), and Liberty (the freedom to fail while searching for the best version of ourselves to become): the three stages of the American Trinity, as described on American coinage... and older American cartoons.

For how much longer will this Trinity prevail, with anti-theism on the march, with old grudges increasingly unforgiven, with ever increasing suffocation of Liberty, the fragile laboratory so necessary for innovation and self-discovery?

These besieged older values desperately need to be re-animated with a fresh breath of new life, a new will to forestall a final fade-to-black on the last best hope on Earth.

I imagine we will find a way to win, in the end; it's a dream I picked up from watching a lot of old cartoons...

[With thanks to Dennis Prager]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Gnostic sense of humour

Ariz House: Check Obama's Citizenship - Phoenix News Story - KPHO Phoenix
PHOENIX -- The Arizona House on Monday voted for a provision that would require President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate if he hopes to be on the state's ballot when he runs for reelection.

The House voted 31-22 to add the provision to a separate bill. The measure still faces a formal vote.

It would require U.S. presidential candidates who want to appear on the ballot in Arizona to submit documents proving they meet the constitutional requirements to be president.

Phoenix Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema said the bill is one of several measures that are making Arizona "the laughing stock of the nation."
What's so funny about asking a supposed reality merely to confirm itself?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The brutal reality that cannot be spoken, lest it undo the fanciful authority of our appeasing elites

Fitzgerald: The New York Times, and That Business At the Cathedral In Cordoba - Jihad Watch - Hugh Fitzgerald, quoted below, tells us what happened, at the end of his long but worthwhile account of what the New York Times will never talk about....
A deliberately-planned display of Muslim force took place in the cathedral of Cordoba on April 2, in the very middle of Holy Week, the holiest time of the year for Christians. Nearly 120 Muslims from Austria slowly filtered into the cathedral, so as not to attract the attention of guards and, using walkie-talkies, arranged to meet at a certain time, in one of the naves of the cathedral. There a number of them began, in the hush of the Christian services, to turn toward Mecca and prostrate themselves, and to loudly chant in unison. When asked by the security guards to please stop, they refused, and began to threaten the guards who, in turn, had to call for reinforcements from the Spanish police. When the Spanish police arrived, thus further disrupting the holy hush of ancient sacrifice, and the spiritual tranquility of the Christian worshippers, they found the Muslims unwilling to stop. At least one pulled out a knife, and at least two of the Spanish guards, one policeman and one from the cathedral detail, were wounded sufficiently to go to the hospital.

And here's Phyllis Chesler also telling what the MSM won't.

Islam must always have the final word

Perhaps you have read much about the absurdities of the United Nations "Human Rights" Council. But there is nothing like seeing it in action to really appreciate how we can no longer take seriously, and must work to disband, an organization that refuses to allow any comments that touch on, and might be critical of, "religion", i.e. in this context, Islam.

It is a central belief in today's Islamic world that anyone who does anything that might lead Muslims to call into question their unquestionable faith in their "religion", or the declarations of its powerful representatives, must be silenced. There can be no God - no "human right", no campaign against violence against women - ever higher than the God of Islam. It is simply unthinkable.

Have a look and you will better appreciate why our relations to the Islamic world necessarily involve questions of war or surrender. June 2008 video, edited by vlad tepes
(follow link for additional information and texts) via Gil Bailie.

UPDATE: video currently unavailable (follow comments here for updates and see also full transcript of the video.)

Littman UN video rev 4 from Vlad Tepes on Vimeo.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What is the tea party about?

Funny that a Filipino-Australian has a clearer idea than the media and political elites of America:
Belmont Club » The Washington Monument

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why they hate the Jews

David sent us this short video for Israel lovers on why Israel is so great. It struck me that inasmuch as it is an attempt to rebut "Israelophobia" by showing all the good things about Israel, it is really just showing what the Judeophobes already see and answer with their conspiracy theories and blood libels, because they resent a success that does not seem available to all.

If you are one of those who gets tired of the "look how smart and successful" Jews are promotions, maybe you can fall in love with the little things. Here's a little list making the rounds of Israel lovers on the web
Loving Israel is in the details

By Joel Chasnoff · April 14, 2010

NEW YORK (JTA) -- In honor of Israel’s 62nd birthday, I’ll forgo the expected Op-Ed about Israeli government corruption, the Bibi-Obama drama, or the Israeli Rabbinate’s stranglehold on marriage and divorce.

Instead, I offer this love letter to Israel: "Top 10 tiny details about Israel that make it the most wonderful country on earth."

10. Egged Bus #394: The midnight ride from Tel Aviv to Eilat. The trip begins in the gray-stucco slums of south Tel Aviv. Two hours later, you’re rolling through the desert beneath a blanket of stars. You crack open the window. The desert smells dry and ancient, like an attic. At dawn, you pull into Eilat as the city comes to life.

9. The way Israelis refuse to cross the street on a red light. Drivers blare their horns the instant the light turns green. Yet pedestrians refuse to cross the street until the sign turns green. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon at 3:00 a.m., the streets bare and not a car in sight.

8. The Jewish soul of even the most secular Israelis. I served in the Israeli Army with kibbutz kids who were so anti-religious that they never even had a bar-mitzvah. But on Friday nights, as the brigade sung the Sabbath Kiddush en masse, I could see my secular comrades mouthing the words.

7. Flush handles on Israeli toilets. Almost all Israeli toilets, both public and in homes, have two flush handles -- one for “light” loads, and one for heavy ones. This saves Israel’s most precious natural resource: water. And it’s genius.

6. Drop-dead gorgeous Israeli soldiers. The men are hunky, the women beautiful. Try not to drool as you watch them strut down Ben Yehudah Street in their olive-green uniforms, M-16s slung across their backs. It’s not so much their physical beauty that charms us as what they embody: Jewish power.

5. Shuk Ha-Carmel on Friday afternoons. So many things about Israel drive me mad. The bureaucracy is crippling. Government offices operate when they want, for as long (or short) as they want, usually something like 8 a.m. until noon Mondays, Wednesdays and every other Thursday. Each week, another group goes on strike -- schoolteachers, garbage men, postal workers, phone operators, cable guys, bus drivers, doctors, nurses, paramedics, airport baggage guys, and the old men in blue jumpsuits who walk the streets of Tel Aviv stabbing pieces of trash with meter-long spears have all struck in the past year -- so the country never runs at full power.

The Knesset, Israel’s 15-party parliament, is trapped in a state of perpetual gridlock. And yet, when I step into the Carmel Market and hear the shopkeepers barking their wares, smell the mixture of frying lamb, goat cheese, and human sweat, and watch the people line up to buy flowers for Shabbat, I remember why I love Israel so much. It’s the excitement of the place, but also the Middle Easterness of it -- the barking, the bargaining, the haggling that’s at once friendly and brutal. At pushcarts and stalls, middle-aged men with gold chains and raspy cigarette voices sell mangoes, lemons, whole and quarter chickens, cow lungs, cow tongues, cow testicles, sheep brains, 50-plus varieties of fish, calculators, knockoff Nikes, carnations, sponges, girdles, batteries, and men’s and ladies’ underwear.

Friday afternoons, with only a couple of hours until sundown, the peddlers shout their last-minute pre-Sabbath bargains: “Tangerines, 1 shekel, 1 shekel!” “Pita, hummus, chickpeas-- yallah! Shabbat, Shabbat!” Whenever I walk through the souk, I think about all those American diplomats who call Israel the America of the Middle East. If those diplomats really want to understand Israel, they should leave their fancy Jerusalem hotels and take a stroll through the Carmel Market.

4. Chocolate milk in a sack. Half a liter of Kibbutz Yotvateh chocolate milk sealed in a palm-sized plastic bag that you rip open with your teeth and then squeeze, causing the milk to shoot into your mouth in a way that makes you feel like you’re drinking straight from the udder of a chocolate cow. Need I say more?

3. The incredible bond between Israelis. Maybe it’s a remnant of shtetl life in Europe, or perhaps it has something to do with living so close to your enemy. Whatever the reason, Israelis act as if everyone is everyone else’s next-door neighbor. The first time I experienced this unique bond was the week I arrived in Israel to begin my army service. I was driving to Tel Aviv in a rental car when a guy pulled up next to me at a stoplight and beeped his horn. “Hey, achi!” he called. “My girlfriend’s thirsty. You got water?” Beside me, on the passenger seat, was a bottle of water. But it was half empty.

I held up the bottle. “It’s already open,” I said.

“No problem,” he replied, and stuck out his hand.

A week later, I was at my girlfriend, Dorit’s, family’s apartment with her parents. It was dinnertime and we had ordered pizza. Finally, after two hours, the pizza guy showed up on his motor scooter. He was disheveled and sopped with sweat. “I got lost,” he whimpered.

“So come inside! Sit!” said Dorit’s mother, Tzionah. “Coffee or tea?”

“Coffee,” said the pizza guy. “Milk and two sugars.”

While Tzionah made the coffee, Dorit’s father, Menashe, opened the pizza box. “Please take.” He offered a slice. The pizza guy waved him off. “Nu! You’re offending me!” said Menashe. “What’s your name?"

“Oren,” said the delivery guy.

“Oren. I insist. Eat.”

And I’ll be damned if Oren the pizza guy didn’t sit down at the kitchen table and eat the pizza he’d just delivered. As we ate, I thought about all those porno movies where the lonely housewife invites the pizza boy inside and seduces him on the kitchen table. In the Israeli version of the story, the pizza boy doesn’t make love to the housewife. Instead, he sits down with the family and eats pizza.

2. Dropping off a passenger at Ben-Gurion Airport. You pull up to the Departure door, hug your loved ones goodbye, and watch them walk into the terminal. Then you inhale a breath of sweet Israeli air, look up at the cloudless Tel Aviv sky, and think, “They have to leave...but I get to stay in Israel.”

1. ____________________________________________ . I leave this one up to you. What do you love most about Israel? E-mail me and I’ll post your responses on the blog page of my Web site.
Do you have to be a Jew to live in a nation like this? I see no reason to think so. But it would require seeing through a lot of the anti-national ideology of our times and start modeling your own life on others you admire.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Free speech (and Kathy Shaidle) championed in Canadian Senate

Senator Nicole Eaton recognizes free expression is not just an "American thing", but fundamental to Canadian history (HT: Catfur):

April 13th, 2010

For immediate release

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to address the state of freedom of speech in Canada.

Like other Senators who have spoken before me on this matter, I am alarmed by the erosion of this most essential right; alarmed because freedom of speech is an inextricable part of our Canadian identity. If we lose that freedom, we lose a part of our Canadian-ness. Freedom of expression in all of its many forms – including freedom of speech, the press, the arts, and religious and cultural expression – has always been one of Canada’s most important national qualities.

It is a golden thread, woven through our great historic moments and all of our great public controversies, and it has guided us to peaceful resolutions of our disagreements and helped us reach our highest aspirations. And, in our increasingly multicultural, pluralistic society, it ensures that everyone in Canada can find their voice, and have their say.

Freedom of speech is the great equalizer for Canadians who seek to address their claims by appealing to our national conscience. In Canada, one doesn’t need to have power or money to make a case – merely a passion to express an idea. This is one of the most attractive qualities we offer to new immigrants, many of whom come from countries where political or even religious dissent is a crime.

But free speech isn’t just part of our Canada today. It is also a great Canadian tradition. In his opening remarks on this subject, Senator Finley mentioned in passing the case of Joseph Howe. I’d like to expand on that, because it set such an important precedent for the freedoms we enjoy to this day.

In 1835 – nearly 200 years ago, and a generation before Canada was born as our own country – Joseph Howe was put on trial for seditious libel, because the newspaper he published had embarrassed local Halifax politicians by exposing their corruption. Howe knew that his own freedom was at stake – if he lost, he could have been imprisoned. But he also knew that much more was on trial that day: the right of citizens to scrutinize and criticize their government was in question.

Some would call that the right to offend!

Here’s what he said to the jury about what would happen politically if he were convicted:

“Were you to condemn me, these [politicians] would say there is no truth in those charges, there is nothing wrong, and matters would continue in the old beaten track. If you acquit me, as I trust you will, they must form themselves into a court of inquiry for self-reformation ; they must drive out from among them those men who bring disgrace on their ranks, and mischief on the community in which they reside…”

At the time, Halifax had fewer than 15,000 citizens. It was still a very new place, and its political and legal culture were still being formed. Howe’s case would set a precedent for Nova Scotia, and the rest of Canada, for centuries to come. Had the jury chosen to side with the Halifax elites – the politicians and other polite company who had been offended and embarrassed by him – corruption would have flourished, and democratic criticism would have withered. Howe’s passionate defence of freedom worked. The jury defied the judge’s instructions and acquitted Howe. And that great triumph set him on course to one day become Nova Scotia’s premier.

But let me quote one more passage from Howe’s speech. Remember, his trial was not long after the American Revolution, and the War of 1812. Canadians and Americans had taken two separate paths, and were still wary of each other.

Howe clearly rejected the American way. He regarded their revolution as an act of rebellion and disloyalty. He was a fiercely proud Nova Scotian. But here’s what he said:

“Let not the sons of the Rebels look across the border to the sons of the Loyalists, and reproach them that their press is not free.”

Howe wasn’t trying to impress the Americans. And he certainly didn’t believe that freedom of speech was only for Americans. In fact, the opposite: in his defence, he constantly referred to the Canadian and British traditions of liberty. To Howe, all modern free peoples enjoyed freedom of speech. Far from being merely an American concept, Howe regarded it as quintessentially Canadian.

Joseph Howe set a great precedent. But the nature of freedom of speech is that it constantly must be supported, for there are would-be censors in every generation. In 1935, exactly a century after Howe’s acquittal, across the country in Alberta, William Aberhart became premier, and like the political elites of Howe’s Halifax, he found Alberta’s newspapers to be troublesome and offensive.

Aberhart’s election came in the face of nearly universal opposition by the newspapers of the day. By 1937, he was so frustrated that he introduced the Accurate News and Information Act, that required every newspaper in the province to run a rebuttal or a “correction or amplification” when ordered to do so by the government.

Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor refused to proclaim the law until the Supreme Court could assess its constitutionality; he was punished by being stripped of his official residence, car and staff. Even without that law, Aberhart prosecuted his war against the press. The Alberta Legislature ordered that a reporter for the Edmonton Journal, Don Brown, be jailed for misquoting a government back-bencher. Luckily, national ridicule caused the government to back down before they could arrest him.

In the spring of 1938, the Supreme Court ruled that Alberta’s Press Act was illegal, and that it violated Canada’s unwritten bill of rights – the same code of freedom that had protected Joseph Howe. And for its efforts in fighting against Aberhart’s censorship, the Edmonton Journal was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize, the first time the citation was awarded outside of the United States.

It was a great Canadian moment.

There are many of these moments in our history – some much more recently.
It wasn’t until 1955 that the University of Toronto shut down its “Art Room”, where, until then, students had to prove they were free of “mental problems” before reading controversial books like Ulysses. The books were later moved to open shelves.

In the 1980s, in the case of Vancouver’s Little Sisters book store, Canada Customs followed Memorandum D911, which arbitrarily declared any description of gay sexuality to be obscene – a vague rule that was eventually thrown out by the Supreme Court. Little Sisters continued its fight against Customs and Canada Post well into the 1990s.

And until Prime Minister Brian Mulroney overturned the order 48 hours later, customs police briefly made Canada the only Western democracy to seize copies of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, after Iran’s fatwa.

We’re in the 21st century now, and one would think that censorship would be obsolete, universally considered a relic of less enlightened times. But nowadays it’s not prudish customs agents or thin-skinned politicians who are the main threat.

It’s Canada’s “human rights commissions”, which would have struck George Orwell as being perfectly named.

These commissions were started with the best of intentions – to help the poor and the weak from being bullied out of a job or an apartment. But they have become censors, policing not death threats or incitement to violence, or any other real crime, but rather the fake crime of hurt feelings.

They have become what author Kathy Shaidle calls a “Tyranny of Nice”.

Section 13 of our own Canadian Human Rights Act makes it against the law to evoke feelings of “hatred or contempt”. But hate is a normal human feeling. What’s not normal is to make those feelings against the law. Of course we don’t want people to turn their hard feelings into crimes –that’s why we have the Criminal Code. But to have a government agency monitoring the Internet, searching for certain political views to prosecute is anathema to a liberal democracy.

In 2008, Maclean’s magazine was put on trial for a week for publishing excerpts from Mark Steyn’s best-selling book on Islam. And the Western Standard’s publisher, Ezra Levant, was prosecuted for 900 days for publishing pictures of the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Those are two famous cases. But there are plenty more people who have been investigated by the government merely for having a certain point of view.

Like pastor Stephen Boissoin (buzz-ON), who was given a lifetime speech ban by the Alberta human rights commission. And Father Alphonse de Valk of Toronto’s Catholic Insight magazine, and the Christian Heritage Party and Bill Whatcott of Saskatchewan.

Each of these men were prosecuted for expressing their religious belief. Not for doing anything harmful; just for saying something that someone else found offensive.

This shows a systemic bias in our human rights commissions – and that’s exactly the problem with vague, political censorship. It’s not about the law anymore. It’s about political favourites. But that’s just not how we settle our disagreements in Canada. We don’t have the state intervene in political or religious disagreements.

We let people decide for themselves.

There is a common thread to each of these free speech battles. In each case, the targets of censorship were declared “offensive” or “troublesome”. But in each case, the success of those troublesome critics helped make Canada more inclusive and more democratic. Canada is the most peaceful and tolerant country in the world, precisely because we allow people to disagree with each other passionately – and even offensively.

That clash of ideas is often noisy and occasionally upsetting. But through those vigorous discussions, we have been able to navigate our way through hundreds of years of challenges – and our national purpose has never been stronger.

Mr. Speaker, freedom of speech is not just an abstract Canadian ideal.

It is an active, living part of being Canadian. It is an integral part of the Canadian identity. Our citizens use it every day, more often than any other freedom. To study our history is to see each generation of Canadians stand up for that freedom when it is challenged like it has been several times recently with the Steyn, Levant and Coulter episodes. And to learn from our history is to know that we must protect that great inheritance today and whenever in the future it may be challenged again.

Thank you.”

Speeches By Senators Finley, Wallin, Duffy & Tkachuk
Those are all Conservative Party Senators, by the way, in case anyone is wondering where the Liberals stand on freedom of speech. I sure don't know.

Britain's terminal flight from reality

Don't let the voters know we face bankruptcy - Telegraph
Clearly, with no serious political opposition, with the nation-destroying Labour Party still an electoral contender, the UK is dead (it's like British Columbia, which has a mad hatter as its Premier, because no intelligent opposition can emerge in a corrupt post-national culture); can any rebirth occur once the inevitable crisis can no longer be postponed, or will there only be years of ransacking to come? And will Canada offer sanctuary to our Head of State and Her clan, let alone the millions of others who will soon want to escape? I weep.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day, Part 2

Virtues of Memory. Six Decades of Holocaust Survivors' Creativity

Artist: Etju Schoenfeld

Download the music, here:
Gideon Klein's Duo for Violin and Cello, previously lost, was among the compositions that his sister, Eliska Kleinova, found in a package in June 1990. The first movement is dated (in Klein's own hand) 6 November 1941. The second movement is incomplete, the act of composition interrupted by his transport to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in December 1941. This incomplete work is tragically symbolic of Klein's truncated life and career. Karl Ancerl (the renowned conductor) wrote: "Had he survived, Gideon would have achieved the highest standard as piantist, composer and conductor."
Klein was among the first to be sent to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp where, incarcerated among many other artists, composers, and writers, he soon became an extraordinary force as a pianist, educator, conductor, and composer. But even this exceptional creative activity amidst horror and deprivation was short-lived. Like almost all of those who did not die in Theresienstadt, Klein was sent to other camps: first to Auschwitz and finally to Fürstengrubbe, where he died in late Janary 1945.

Those compositions which survive reveal the influences of Janacek and Schoenberg and a blending of expressive folk elements from Gideon Klein's Moravian background. But these works are not derivative; rather they display a deeply mature and creative command of compositional techniques, especially in Klein's treatment of thematic material and use of tonal textures.

In this world premier recording of the Duo for Violin and Cello, the listener will not hear a reconstructed version of the second movement. Instead, it ends abruptly, unfinished as Klein left it. Perhaps what is unheard speaks most powerfully.
Some Notes about Musical Culture in Terezin
by Gideon Klein

While inspecting the weekly music program published by the Freizeit Gestaultung,* people who never lived here will look at the multitude of music reproduced here with admiration and amazement. They will admire both the feasibility of producing demanding works and the multitude of choices.

The quantitative (cultural) calculation of Theresienstadt would correspond to the cultural activity of a metropolitan area. Of the highest standard are the performances by instrumental soloists; these musicians played a major role in the musical life of their respective countries. If we consider the demands of the programs connected with the strain on the artist who lives in a changed setting under unfavorable living conditions we will understand that these artistic efforts cannot be evaluated alone by the standards of a metropolitan critic.

Written 20 August 1944 at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. Translation by Dr. George Homer.

* "Administration for Free Time Activities," a prisoner organization responsible for organizing cultural activities in Theresienstadt.


Theresienstadt was not just a Concentration Camp or a transit point to the Nazi death camps. It was a propaganda device, which the Nazis used to deny the existence of the Final Solution.

On 24 November 1941, a transport of Jews was sent to transform the small garrison town of Terezin into the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. In this camp the Nazis incarcerated some of Europe's most gifted artists, musicians, and writers. Despite the inhuman living conditions, an active cultural community sprang up. Musical instruments were smuggled in and performances were given secretly in the barracks.

But these very activities were co-opted by the Nazis and used as part of a plan to deceive both the international community and Jews under German occupation. Performances were staged for a visit of the International Red Cross; the camp was transformed into a Potemkin-like village with gardens, playgrounds, and an outdoor music pavilion for a propaganda film entitled "The Fuhrer Presents the Jews With a City," all designed to give the impression that Theresienstadt was a "Paradise Ghetto" for the Jews.

But of the 140,000 people who were transported to this "Paradise Ghetto," 33,000 died from starvation, lack of medical care, disease, starvation, overcrowding, and torture. Of the 87,000 people transported from Theresienstadt to the Nazi death camps, five percent survived. Of the 15,000 children who passed through, only 93 survived.

Artist: Ilka Gedo

Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Study: It Took Three Years for Polish Jewry to Wake Up - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News
A new study by Dr. Chavi Dreyfuss Ben-Sasson analyzes the experiences of Polish Jewry as they dealt, or didn’t deal, with their neighbors and friends who suddenly became enemies and Nazi collaborators.

The study appeared several months ago in a book entitled, “We are Polish Jewry?” The book researches the relations between Jews and Poles during the Holocaust – relations that have been termed the “most complex and charged” of the entire Holocaust period.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew newsmagazine on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Dreyfuss said that the picture that arises clearly is one of an “ongoing attempt to prettify the reality in the early war years and try to see the positive sides of Polish society. When [the Jews] encountered grave incidents, they termed them ‘marginal’ and ‘not representative’ of Polish society at large.”

The study is based on documents, letters and other written material, “from which the same consistent picture emerges,” she said. “It is hard to depend on oral testimony, because people don’t quite remember what they thought then. That is why I relied solely on written documentation.”

The picture collapses
Poland was overrun and conquered by Nazi German in September 1939, and the above picture was accurate for about three years. “But in 1942,” Dreyfuss said, “there was a turnabout in the way Jews saw things. Their picture of Poland and Poles collapsed. There was great disenchantment and bitterness. The Jews were apparently then exposed to what was really going on, to the dimensions of the mass murder and the reality of total liquidation. Until then, they thought that if the worst happens, the Poles would not cooperate with the Nazis, but it was proven to them otherwise. From then on, people began to say things like, ‘the Poles are worse than the Nazis.’”

Dr. Dreyfuss feels that the approach taken by German Jewry, which also chose to misinterpret, at first, the evil unfolding in front of their eyes, was very different than that of Polish Jewry. “German Jewry was smaller, because many of them had left at the beginning of the war; those few who remained saw themselves as an inseparable part of Germany – and suddenly Germany turns its back on them. This was truly difficult for them to absorb. But Polish Jewry underwent a totally different process. They were involved in the Polish society, but suddenly an outsider came on the scene and told them, ‘You’re not part of this; you’re not even human beings.’ … In addition, the Polish Jews were placed into ghettos, while German Jews still lived among the Germans until October 1941; the Jews there were able to see how the German society was becoming more Nazi, while the Poles didn’t see what was happening.”

Friday, April 09, 2010

Guy Earle "Trial" - Part 8

I attended the closing oral arguments this afternoon and will post something at Covenant Zone over the weekend. It was largely Ms. Cousineau counsel for Lorna Pardy going through her legal and factual arguments for 1.5 to 2 hours, and Sam Ismail for Zesty's spoke for about ten minutes in a disorganized manner. Sam had started the afternnoon asking for more time and the Tribunal gave him another week to hand in his written arguments and then Pardy's new lawyer (since Cousineau is going on maternity leave) will have a week to reply. And then who knows when the decision will come. Tribunal entertained arguments on the question of jurisdiction but Cousineau basically argued it is not for the Tribunal to make constitutional rulings and so that should just be left for any appeal to the BC Supreme Court. More later, when I unpack Cousineau's legal arguments...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Arabic-speaking "students" target "Zionists" with machete attack in Ottawa

Blazing Cat Fur: Machete Attack at Carleton - "Around 1:45am, as we were leaving the bar, and we heard the shout of "Zionist" in Arabic"

The original report, from Nick Bergamini, the VP-Student Issues at Carleton University, and an outspoken supporter of Israel, apppears here: The cost of supporting Israel « Take Back Your School:
Tonight I went out to the bars downtown. It was a great night with my roommate Mark Klibanov. Around 1:45am, as we were leaving the bar, and we heard the shout of “Zionist” in Arabic. As it stands now, we weren’t sure if the shouts were directed at myself, a known a supporer of Israel, or Mark, an actual Israeli.

Quickly, we both responded that yes we were Zionists. All of a sudden we were surrounded by 10-15 men who began to shout at us in Arabic. We tried to back out and run away. All of a sudden, I was struck in the back of the head. I’m not sure if it was a fist, a rock or a pipe but it left me dazed and bleeding.

We quickly ran back to the bar and stood beside the bouncers. The crowd of anti-Israel thugs dispersed.

About 10 minutes later, assuming that it was safe, we began to walk home. We were walking through a parking lot when a car pulled up next to us. The driver shouted “I fucking hit you, you Jew.”

We stood our ground. Quickly we had three guys around us. We were able to push them away. As the cowards that they were, they retreated. Then I heard, shouts of “Open the trunk!” One of them opened the trunk and I saw glistening in the street light the reflection of a 12-inch machete. “Fucking Jew,” he shouted. I began to run for my life as he was only 5 or 6 feet away.

I ran, and as I looked back, I saw the long shiny blade slicing through the air about 12 inches from my neck. I ran as fast I could and, thanks to my grade 9 track and field training, got away.

People who were around the scene said the blade came within inches of my neck.

Now, the debate on campuses has reached the next level. In this country, people are no longer safe if they support Israel. But you know what? I will never take back my beliefs. I support Israel 100 per cent.

But I will say this. Some of the guys who tried to kill us are Carleton students and I recognize who they are. What is this country coming to?

The report is yet unconfirmed, but it sounds like what we can expect now that Ontario universities are going out of their way to recruit Arab students. Either the universities are ignorant of the pervasive and hysterical antisemitism in the Arab world, taught in schools, mosques, and the state media, not to mention ignorant of the entire history of Islamic imperialism, or they actively want to make their schools uninhabitable for Jewish students, and soon for all who won't take up the dhimmi's bow. Frankly, even schools without Scimitar Studies programs can't be that ignorant, that blinded by their worship of the Other, can they? (Alternatively, the universities are recruiting Arab students so that the latter can be taught a lesson about antisemitism, but somehow I doubt that's the schools' motivation, though it must now become ours.)

Meanwhile, it's time for ordinary Canadians to decide if they want a country in which Jews and other infidels can live without fear. For starters, they might tell Dalton McGuinty to give up his desire to recruit rich Arab students as a funding source for Ontario universities; and we can demand of federal politicians changes on immigration policy, like restrictions/screening when it comes to admitting people from pervasively racist and totalitarian cultures. Write a letter, hold a meeting, today.

Meanwhile, Blazing Cat Fur suggests the Ottawa Citizen is working on this story. UPDATE: here is the Citizen story.

When a 13-year old makes more sense than a professional academic, you know...

Terry Glavin introduces us to Alaina Podmorow's Butterflies and Wheels Article:
I need help. I need help to understand how and why someone would write a story about how Canadian Women are forcing their beliefs upon Muslim Women. I pasted this chunk below:
At the heart of the relationship between feminism and imperialism is an Orientalist logic that posits Western women as exemplary and emancipated in relation to “Other” (Afro-Asian/colonized) women, thereby charging the former with the responsibility of saving the latter from their backwards (i.e. Muslim), uncivilized cultures.
And even though I don’t understand at all the words Orientalist or feminism theory, I do understand what this chunk means, and now I want to speak my truth.

I am the founder of Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan. I founded this organization 3 years ago, when I was 9 years old. In the fall of 2006, I found out that the privileges that I have, other girls in our world don’t get. I learned about this when I went with my Mom to listen to journalist, author and human rights activist, Sally Armstrong speak about Afghanistan. She told stories about the terrible things that happen to little girls in Afghanistan. I was so moved. It was so upsetting to me that these girls weren’t able to exercise their rights. They were not able to go to school and sometimes they didn’t go to school because they were afraid they would be hurt or even killed.
No one will ever tell me that Muslim women or any women think it’s ok to not be allowed to get educated or to have their daughters sold off at 8 years old or traded off at 4 years old because of cultural beliefs. No one will tell me that women in Afghanistan think it is ok for their daughters to have acid thrown in their faces. It makes me ill to think a 4 year old girl must sleep in a barn and get raped daily by old men. It’s sick and wrong and I don’t care who calls me an Orientalist or whatever I will keep raising money to educate girls and women in Afghanistan and I will keep writing letters and sending them in the back pack of my friend Lauryn Oates as she works so bravely on the ground helping women and girls learn what it is to exercise their rights. I believe in human rights so I believe everyone has the right their own opinion, I just wish that the energy that was used to write that story, that is just not true, could have been used to educate a girl in Afghanistan. That’s what the girls truly want. That’s what the Women in Afghanistan truly want. I have a drawer full of letters from them that says just that.
Alaina disrobes the professional academic, while nonetheless insisting (in reference to Afghanistan) that "Education=peace". There's a bit of a contradiction and some innocence there to be worked through, but it can be done; anyway, I'm impressed that a thirteen-year old can see so clearly the evil of the Western academy's victimary mindset. One might add that it is precisely the white guilt of today's academy that underwrites the postmodern version of the "white man's burden"; on the other hand, the honest recognition of some fundamental cultural differences can be (may be) a way of building more productive, reciprocal, relationships that are not based on guilty assumptions of victimhood. But there will always be some kind of relationship in our global village: one has to be an academic fool to think that crying "hands off Afghanistan" is not just another way of bringing decadent Western desires to bear on the history of that country.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Radio Memories: Easter Renewal

We talked of many things, of the changes that living with cancer brings, of the changes seen by eyes living through eight decades of love and loss, growth and decay, grief and joy.

Many of her oldest friends have passed on, and she bears their loss on shoulders frail with age, in a body failing her in ever increasing measure. Yet just as the cane supports her fragile frame, her faith supports her spirit, allowing her to persevere through the decline with grace, gratitude, and a smile beaming with hope.

As our lunch went on, our talk moved from insights about the present to memories of the far past, eventually to her previous life as a high school teacher. "Are the teenagers of today any different than the teenagers of your time?", I asked her. "Despite all the changes in the world around us, have young people themselves really changed all that much, since you used to teach them?"

Her eyes looked into space, as if turning the pages of a large book, and after a pause she related an anecdote that instantly hit home with me. About how when they think nobody is looking they will come to you after class and ask to talk, and the young person sitting there, crushed by their insurmountable problems, hoping there is someone to go to for answers, that this young person is the same person in every age, looking for confirmation of the same eternal truths.

Our time was almost up, and I ventured a last question on a subject untouched so far: the future. "Are you hopeful?", I asked.

"Yes and no", the former teacher answered, hesitating, clearly favoring the "no" but not willing to go against her hard-won positive attitude. She did permit herself a quick glance in my direction, as she gathered her things to leave our table, adding a final caveat through a whimsical smile:

"Well, maybe a little more hopeful than I used to be..."

That humbling Good Friday experience was the perfect prelude to Easter Sunday, and the spirit of renewal in general.

It's Sunday, and when time allows it I take advantage of Sundays to slip in another in our series of Radio Memories, a weekly pause spent listening to, and learning from, echoes from the past.

There's much to enjoy from television's predecessor, the dead-but-not-forgotten medium of dramatic radio, the theater of the mind.
One of the most entertaining programs from that bygone time was the comedy series "The Great Gildersleeve", following the adventures of Uncle Gildy's challenges in raising his orphaned niece and nephew. Sponsored throughout the majority of its run by Kraft Foods, to help sell the (relatively) new wonders of Kraft Processed Cheese and fast-cooking Kraft Macaroni, the show matured in style year after year, abandoning its initial cartoon-like trappings (although not losing the voice talent of supporting actor Arthur Q Bryan, more recognizable to modern audiences from his lifetime job as cartoon star Elmer Fudd, than from his busy radio work of the time), evolving closer to soap opera, with plotlines stretching through the length of entire seasons.

One of those later serialized stories proved to be profoundly bittersweet, centered as it was on Gildersleeve's stumbling attempts to kindle a romance with his nephew's piano teacher. The listening audience cringes in sympathy as week after week Gildy never seems to catch the break he needs, never seems to find the right word for the right occasion, and we begin to sense that this is a romance that is not meant to be. We tune in, episode after episode, not so much to learn how he will win, but instead to discover how he'll handle the eventual, inevitable heartbreak.

This particular story overlapped with the series' Easter tradition, where the last few minutes of the show would be turned over to the Seventy Two year-old patriarch of the Kraft Foods company, Mr James L Kraft himself. Last Easter we introduced you his poignant, 1943 wartime Easter broadcast; this Easter we bring to you the message he delivered Wednesday, April 2nd, 1947.

At the 26-minute mark of the show, star Harold Peary assumes an uncharacteristically solemn tone to introduce what, by that year, a cherished moment for the audience listening at home, the annual visit from the elderly gentleman considered as much a part of the Gildersleeve family as Gildy himself.

Mr Kraft's 1947 Easter message:
Again this year it gives me the greatest pleasure to send Easter Greetings to Kraft men around the globe, and to friends both known and unknown everywhere.

The Easter season is a time for rejoicing all over the Earth. A time for renewing faith, and re-examining the true values of life. Even nature, at this time of the year, seems to join in this affirmation of eternal hope and everlasting life.

A long time ago it was said, “know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” To find eternal and unchanging values amidst so much that passes away, had always been a goal of men. And much of modern science, invention and education, holds this knowledge of the Truth as their objective.

Yet, in the field of the human spirit and moral conduct, it is of even greater importance that we seek out the unchanging Truth, that it may make us free.

Our Truth may be regarded as an abstract quality, a far-away goal to be desired by the seeking mind. But it is also, and more vitally, a living quality, revealed in a way of dwelling in harmony with one’s fellow men.

This Living Truth was expressed perfectly in the life of Him who’s death and resurrection from the dead the whole Christian world observes this week.

I’ve been reading once again the story of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. It is a profoundly moving story. You will remember that after Pilate’s interrogation of Christ, Jesus said, in substance, “I came into the world, that I should bear witness of the Truth.”

Then Pilate asked a question, which many before him and many since have asked: “What is Truth?”

By His death and resurrection as by His life among men, Christ gave the answer to that question. For only as men are able to live humbly and unselfishly together, expressing by all that we do the Truth that is in us, will we be able to solve the great problems of the world today. Only by casting aside all pettiness and selfishness, and by following a straight and simple path of doing unto others as we would have others do unto us, can nations and people learn to live in peace and harmony together.

At this Easter season, let us all witness by our daily living, the Faith and Hope and Truth that in us lie, let us walk daily in our great faith, and hold the flame high for all to see.

Only thus can the eternal promise of this sacred day come to flower on the Earth.

Previous 2010 Radio Memories posts:

Lux Radio Theater: Hitler's Children
Biography In Sound: The Story Of Science Fiction
Mr President: Romance In The White House
Frontier Fighters: George Pickett
Destination Freedom: Citizen Toussaint [Toussaint L'Ouverture]
Ports Of Call: Haiti

For a list of our 2009 Radio Memories listings, go here.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Cat Fur catches someone from taxpayer-funded Palestine House call for another Holocaust

In case you don't yet know that underneath the mask of "anti-Zionism" lies a genocidal desire to remove the Jews from history:
Blazing Cat Fur: Palestine House Thugs Screams "You need another Holocaust"

Next time you are on Commercial Drive, eat at Zawa

Gay protest hurting business, owner says

Brian Hutchinson's wrap-up on the Pardy-Earle "human rights" hearing

Funny business at B.C. human rights hearing
Two lawyers, a lesbian, a gay-positive Iraqi-born Christian restaurateur and a bunch of comedians walk into a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing. The punch line? There isn't one. Not in this scenario. What transpired this week inside BCHRT Hearing Room Four might have been unintentionally funny, but it wasn't comedy.

See also Hutchinson's report on day two of the hearing.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Heil Gaia (because James Lovelock won't do) !

James Lovelock on the value of sceptics and why Copenhagen was doomed | Environment |
We need a more authoritative world. We've become a sort of cheeky, egalitarian world where everyone can have their say. It's all very well, but there are certain circumstances – a war is a typical example – where you can't do that. You've got to have a few people with authority who you trust who are running it. And they should be very accountable too, of course.

But it can't happen in a modern democracy. This is one of the problems. What's the alternative to democracy? There isn't one. But even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.
But the interview as a whole reveals Lovelock as intellectually incoherent. He also bewails the corruption of scientific integrity in the Climategate scandal and calls for scientific transparency and openness to criticism. Just how he thinks that is going to be possible in a more authoritarian society, I have no idea (to call for a less democratic society is to call for a more authoritarian society, not a more authoritative) one.
Fudging the data in any way whatsoever is quite literally a sin against the holy ghost of science. I'm not religious, but I put it that way because I feel so strongly. It's the one thing you do not ever do. You've got to have standards.
Of course Lovelock does not stop to ask why a non-religious man has to rely on religious language to make such a point. This reveals his lack of depth in questions anthropological, his inability to grasp the necessarily "religious" nature of human bonding in any shape or form (I'm not saying you have to believe in God or in highly ritualized social life but I am saying there is no conceivable form of social life that is not in some way historically derivative of belief in God/the supernatural and ritual). The secular is just another form of the sacred.

Lovelock doesn't see how his own position is just another form of religion, and given his naivete about religion, he doesn't really understand how humans can be bound by any set of authoritative norms within a democratic or non-dictatorial society. (It's not entirely true that the nations which won the two world wars put democracy on hold - to a degree, yes, but only to a degree and they relied for their wartime resiliency on banked social capital that would eventually have run out if they remained for long non-democratic.) And so he implicitly calls for a dictatoriship of "scientists", without thinking through how good science - free-thinking and self-critical - and dictatorship could ever be compatible. Men are not angels, not even the best scientists.

However, we can be, on occasion, angelic. Lovelock does not appreciate how democratic covenants can come into being to give humans both authoritative norms and freedom in their continual re-iteration, exchange, and modification of shared norms. (No shared norms, no freedom - just the dictatorship of one arbitrary authority or another.) Perhaps it is when we are being angelic that we are most open to the revelatory quality of events, the revelations that if communicated - and accepted/exchanged/changed - can provide a way to a new understanding of shared norms/imperatives and new forms of exchange or reciprocity. In short, the angel, as the messenger between God and man, may bear the promise of a new covenant.