Thursday, October 01, 2015

Stephen Harper and the Niqab

Please click THIS LINK to see the latest installment of my video blog. This week's topic: The niqab and the election.

Stephen Harper and the Niqab

Our present Prime Minister is opposed to women wearing the niqab when taking the oath of citizenship.  I agree.  I have to bite my lip as I write these words as Stephen Harper to me symbolizes doom and darkness, not only for women, but for the earth itself.  I personally believe that Mr. Harper would pump and drill the earth to utter destruction if he had his way, lock half the population in prison and drop as many bombs as possible on people unknown and unknowable to him.  And surprise, surprise, Harper doesn’t like woman one bit.  For instance a little something that for me, at least, symbolizes Harper’s idea of women…he had the words “women’s equality” erased from every document within the Canadian Status of Women ministry. The Status of Women is now a joke.

Margaret Wente wrote a great article in the Globe and Mail “Why the niqab matters, now and in the future” (Sept. 29, 2015).  Wente points out there is a difference between how Quebecers view the niqab and the views of the rest of Canada.  She writes: “It’s a tale of two solitudes.  Inside Quebec, feminists and progressives are dismayed by the niqab.  They see it as an attack on the collective right to be free of religious symbols.  In the rest of Canada, feminists and progressives are enraged at the Conservatives’ attack on a woman’s right to choose”.

Harper knows the sensibilities of Quebecers around the niqab better than his challengers and is using this to the 9th degree in Quebec. And Harper’s polls have risen since the niqab debate in Quebec and Quebec is so important in this election.  Isn’t it bizarre?  That a man obsessed with his own misogynist religion and who thoroughly dislikes women is making gains as a protector of Canadian women against the threat of the symbols of another misogynist religion? He succeeds because the Muslim symbols of the Islamist religion are strange and frightening to the people of a province that was “priest ridden” for so many years, and where the people were held hostage to the power of the Catholic Church.  It stands to reason that Quebecers would be more sensitive to the power of religion and religious symbols. And there is another reason that we all should take note of.
As Margaret Wente asks in her article when speaking of the limits of tolerance: “How far are we prepared to go to accommodate religious and cultural difference?  At what point must newcomers be prepared to accommodate themselves to Canadian society and values?”  Yes.  Where exactly is that point?

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Stephen Harper on the refugee drownings

Stephen Harper on the refugee drownings

How quickly Mr. Harper turned from the image of the lifeless body of little Aylan Kurdi  being carried away from the Turkish beach front that had once promised a gateway to bicycles and bananas (the two things mentioned in interviews that Aylan and his brother loved) to our Prime Minister’s perceived  need for more war in Syria.  The boy’s aunt, Fatima Kurdi, said clearly in her first interview that “the war must end.”  And I thought I heard her add “the Kurds have a right to live.”  I can’t seem to find these words again from Mrs. Kurdi’s live interview.  Did anyone else besides me hear her say these words?  And why should it matter?  And it shouldn’t, but politically, it does.  At least to Mr. Harper.  Because the little boys and their mother were Kurds.
And why should the fact that the little boys and their mother were Kurds bother Mr. Harper?  Because Mr. Harper just doesn’t like it to be brought to public attention that he has dragged Canada into the fighting in Syria that isn’t what most Canadians think it is.  We are now as a nation part of a coalition that is composed primarily of the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. But the coalition is doing good things there, right?  Trying to kill more of ISL (ISIS)?  Anyway, that’s what the coalition want us international political illiterates to think.
There is a pattern to this US led interference in other countries and off we go again, this time to Syria with our own Prime Minister leading the Canadian charge. We’re pumped up to be hot to trot to kill ISL (ISIS) in Syria. Then why are we as a coalition bombing more Kurds than ISL (ISIS).Why? Because Saudi Arabia and Turkey want us to.   

Saudi Arabia has the same extreme form of Islam that ISL (ISIS) does, it’s called Wahhabism.  The Saudis also behead people they don’t like, insist the women wear full burka’s covering all but their eyes, women can’t drive or leave their house without a male relative, the princes are very nasty to the displaced people who work for them, and in general the Saudi Arabia princes seem to be extremely arrogant, unpleasant people.  The Saudis want to kill Kurds more than they want to kill ISL (ISIS).  Again, why?

 Because the Kurdish people practice a more tolerant Islam. They embrace democracy and show respect for women and they are gaining ground politically. The Saudi’s fear that this kind of Islam presents a serious challenge to strict Wahhabism.   The Saudis are terrified not of ISL (ISIS) as after all, they are religious brothers to this group, but much more fearful of the rise of the Kurds.

And Turkey? Why does Turkish President Erdogan hate the Kurds so much that he had rather bomb them than ISL (ISIS)? In an article by Patrick Cockburn (Information Clearing House Aug. 31, 2015) Cockburn reports “ In return for a deal (between US and Turkey) signed on 22 July,  (ISIS) has been hit by only three Turkish airstrikes, compared to 300 against the bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKKK).  It swiftly emerged that Ankara’s (Turkey’s capital) real target was the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.”  Again, but why?
There are a lot of Kurds in Turkey and they vote.  They have also started running for office. The PKKK even won twelve per cent of the seats in the last Turkish election because even non-Kurds voted for them.  This denied Erdogan the majority he was looking for and as he seems to refuse to form a government coalition with the Kurds, there will have to be another Turkish election soon.  In the meantime, as he obviously can’t bomb the Kurds in his own country, Erdogan can and is bombing them in Syria along with other members of the coalition.

 And Harper’s war drum beating?  Well, first, Mr. Harper is always on the lookout for any signs of the Armageddon.  And if it isn’t coming soon enough, well, perhaps he can help nudge it along.  But it does make Harper look kind of chicken-pooey when it comes to public attention that our Prime Minister is going all gung-ho to bomb the Kurds, because the US, UK and the Saudis and Turks of the coalition, of which Canada is now a part, say so.  This means that our country has become partners in an unholy alliance that is bombing and killing the very people whose little drowned boys broke our hearts last week. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

On turning 87

Feeling the Ages

Please click on the video above to view my birthday message.

First, I want to thank everyone who sent cards and took to the internet to wish me happy birthday.  I enjoyed them all, especially the songs and music. I turned 87 this month.  I feel my age, as most people in their 80s do, but I also have become increasing aware of how technology has profoundly separated the old from the young and it’s  kind of weird to be in a big room with a lot of other people and know you’re the oldest person in the room.  Because that also means that you have the earliest time memories that happened way before these other people were born.

For instance, I personally remember the depression of the thirties (I was a child but I remember) that was relieved only by the build up to the Second World War. I remember the Chinese and Cuban revolutions as they occurred (1949 and 1959) and while I wasn’t around for the Russian revolution itself (1917) I remember the buildup of hostility toward the Russian revolution by the US which of course continues to this day and is accelerating.  Because I remember the struggles of these three countries which started from abject poverty of their people to try to build economic equality and justice for all, and what they went through to try to achieve this, I could never consider them enemies no matter how much my own countries (US, Canada) insisted I must.  How could I hate and fear Russia? They lost over twenty million people fighting off the Nazis, and have struggled to build their country back up several different times and are still doing so and never give up.  They are a very strong, resilient people and worthy of our respect. Cuba?

How could I hate the Cubans as I was advised to by the US government who said they were terrorists? I didn’t believe it. I remembered that the extreme poverty and illiteracy of Cuba stemmed from US corporate ownership of the island.  Before their revolution an estimated half of Cuba’s women were working as prostitutes to feed their families; most were illiterate, and now Cuba sends their doctors and medical staff, many of whom are women, all around the world to help others.

China?  I remember reports of Mao Zedong’s long march through the Chinese provinces talking to hungry poverty stricken people suffering from food scarcity in the wake of the aftermath of World War Two and the horrific Japanese occupation of China and somehow Mao Zedong and his group of marchers gave the people hope with a different vision.

We are being taught today to hate and fear both Russia and China (Cuba has been temporarily  excused) who are not threatening anybody while US led forces are accelerating the building of new air force bases on Russia’s borders. I believe from all of the trash talk directed at Russia, and the demeaning of China, that the US and the NATO countries, including Harper’s government, are preparing to invade Russia.  I believe they are so self-deluded that they may think Russia won’t fight back, or that China will allow the invasion.  But China will never allow an invasion to go unanswered. She knows that if Russia is attacked and especially if defeated, that she will be next.

On the economic level I think the future is going to bring more trouble than falling stock markets.  Because in an effort to drive up the lagging economies of both the US and Canada, the capitalist thinking may very well turn to war as a solution, given the enormous amounts of money that can be made out of a really massive prolonged  war.  The same international bankers that are squeezing and threatening debt bedevilled countries already, will happily loan billions to both sides of such a war, just as they did in World War Two.  I think now this is the biggest danger facing us; an invasion of Russia by US led NATO forces. Both China and Russia have sophisticated atomic weapons just as we do. We should be afraid.  And super careful who and what we vote for.  I am not absolutely sure about the NDP or the Liberals, if they are strong enough to avoid being dragged into the plans of the US Pentagon, but I feel absolutely confident that a vote for Stephen Harper is a vote for war.  Thanks again for the birthday wishes.  Till next time.