Monday, April 30, 2007
An Insider's Account of Friday's Cairo Debriefing
Nobody can accuse me of “smearing the peace movement” anymore. The leadership of the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Toronto Stop the War Coalition and other such groups now openly boasts of its progress in converting the “antiwar” movement in Canada into a joint venture with the Islamist far right.
Last Friday in Toronto, these people made a full and self-congratulatory accounting of themselves and the promises they made at the recent “anti-war” convergence in Cairo ("Towards an International Alliance Against Imperialism and Zionism"), attended by some of the world’s most foul jihadists, Islamists and Jewish-conspiracy fetishists.
The most enthusiastic accounts last Friday came from Abigail Bakan and Chantal Sundaram, senior members of the formerly left wing sect that runs the Canadian operations of the British Socialist Workers Party. The SWP is a Stalinist groupuscule that allied with the Muslim Council of Britain to take over the British “anti-war” movement and construct the base for the Mosleyite George Galloway and his “Respect” Party.
Bakan and Sundaram were preceded in their presentations by Cairo attendees (and fellow I.S. national steering committee members) Sid Lacombe, campaign coordinator for the “umbrella” Canadian Peace Alliance, and Toronto Stop the War Coalition spokesman James Clark, who is also a member of the CPA steering committee.
Cairo attendee John Riddell, who still fancies himself a “peace activist” gave a positively euphoric account of his personal transformation in Cairo (Riddell was a socialist back in the Vietnam era, and still masquerades as one), and I am pleased to see that he told the Friday night Steelworkers Hall audience that he was most upset with my Georgia Straight column of last week.
All I have to say for now is, be very careful about what you say, comrades. It's just like this. I already know everything that each of you said last Friday evening in Toronto. Every last word.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Canada and Afghanistan: The Vancouver Debate
The debate, at the Alibi Room on Alexander Street, was a bracing contrast to the impression you get from the mainstream media, and from The Tyee comments-box bedlam, for that matter. There actually is a civil, intelligent, non-partisan and vigorous conversation about Afghanistan underway among Canadian liberals, progressives and leftists.
A few of the usual “anti-imperialist” gibberish-mongers showed up Thursday evening, but those who didn’t scurry away even before the discussion began (wouldn’t want to actually learn something, would we?) slithered out long before it was over (suffering the trauma of hearing overwhelming evidence of how wrong they are, I expect).
It was a good crowd, and I was especially happy to notice that a strong anti-fascist contingent had turned out, from across the spectrum - Ian King, and Jonathon Narvey, for instance. My happiness may have been slightly enhanced by the free whiskey that was made available to me but I would have been happy nonetheless.
My fellow panelists were Jared Ferrie, Lauryn Oates and Michael Byers.
Jared is a brave and thoughtful young journalist who’s just returned from his second sojourn in Afghanistan. Lauryn is a committed and articulate young women’s rights activist who’s spent the past several years doing difficult duty in Afghanistan, bringing desperately-needed resources to the women of that country. Byers is the academic director of the Liu Centre for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia, and a senior adviser to the NDP on these kinds of questions. Lauryn stole the show.
Jared was also tremendous. Jared cleaves to the undiminished virtue of relying upon facts and evidence to make sense of what’s happening in Afghanistan, and he persists in demanding answers to the important and uncomfortable questions - What would happen if we actually did bring the troops home? – that the “left” in this country is sadly reluctant to ask.
Michael was not exactly at the top of his game, but he should be forgiven for this, since he’d spent the week on a related file in which he speaks with authority and he'd been working night and day helping the national press gallery in its not-unjustified effort to unseat Defence Minister Gordon O’Connor over the Taliban-prisoners affair.
What follows is a synopsis of my main arguments.
Afghanistan is on the front lines of a war that has been grinding its bloody way through the Muslim masses of the world for some time now. It is a war being waged by theocratic and "secular" fascists against modernity, against democracy, against the Jews, against the emancipation of women, against the liberation of gay people, and against everything that we, as Canadian socialists, progressives, liberals and democrats, have ever loved and believed in and fought for.
The Taliban were and are as savage, cruel, misogynist, violent and cunning as any of the battalions the enemy has deployed, and the people of Afghanistan continue to suffer their depredations. Canada has been honoured with the privilege and the opportunity to be fighting this war on the side of the Afghan people, at the request of the Afghan people, shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan people.
To my dismay, the "left" in Canada has by and large failed to properly comprehend the nature of this struggle. To put it charitably, the Canadian "left" has not demonstrated any noticeable leadership in this struggle, and indeed has, with notable exceptions, failed to join the struggle.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Socialism of Fools: Reports From The Front
For an account of the recent strategy sessions in Cairo that brought together Canadian and British "anti-war" activists with some of the world's most violent and sinister Islamists and jihadists, the English-speaking world was obliged to rely almost exclusively upon an account ("Anti-Globalists Reach Out to Islamists") in the Egyptian weekly Al Ahram, written by a certain Canadian by the name of Eric Walberg.
There was something odd about his report, I thought. There was a weirdly euphoric tone about it, and it was also a kind of hybrid as these things go. It was partly a celebration of the ongoing convergence between the Islamist far-right and a certain far-left groupuscule that has insinuated itself into the leadership of the "anti-war" movement (in Canada, it runs the Toronto Stop The War Coalition, the umbrella Canadian Peace Alliance, the War Resisters Support Campaign, etc.). The report was also partly a work of dutiful stenography, in service to the conference participants themselves.
Curious to know why this Eric Walberg would be so happy about the moral squalor he had witnessed and participated in, I made some conventional journalistic inquiries about him. You can make up your own mind about whether the result adequately explain Walberg's obvious delight at the prospect of an ongoing convergence of the far-left and far-right. You can make up your own mind about how significant the Cairo conference was in that phenomenon.
Walberg, who appears sometimes to write under the pseudonym Simon Jones, is a Canadian economist and a frequent contributor to Canada's Peace Magazine, a reputable journal based out of Toronto. Walberg has also been a regular contributor to the deliberations of a notoriously anti-semitic thinktank known as the Adelaide Institute, whose leader, Frederich Töben, has done hate-speech jail time in Germany. Töben was one of the more prominent guests at Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial conference last December.
A survey of Walberg's writings show that he regards Jews as having been the authors of their own misfortunes over the past 2,000 years, and all the great wars of the past century can be laid at the feet of shadowy Zionists - even the "still mysterious collapse" of the World Trade Center in New York on September 11. He has written approvingly of the contents of the Protocols of The Elders of Zion - that classic text of pathological Jew-hatred.
As far as I can determine, Walberg's last real job was a public-relations gig in Tashkent, in the Office of Uzbekstan President Islam Karimov - a dictator who reportedly murders his opponents by boiling them in oil. I've also confirmed the substance of an Adelaide Institute report that Walberg was turfed out of Uzbekistan after being sloppy in the work of hiding his identity behind the pseudonyms he adopts. Writing favourably about underground Uzbek Islamist groups was not so smart, it would seem.
I should point out that it was with the help of a fellow journalist and Walberg's former friends and associates in Canada that I assiduously confirmed Walberg's impressive cirruculum vitae - his degrees from Cambridge, from the Pushkin Institute in Moscow, and so on - and his strange trajectory from a Stalinist campus "peace activist" in Toronto to true-believer in the restoration of the Caliphate, as well as his various personae and noms de plume.
During the Israel-Hezbollah war last summer, this column examined Canada's so-called antiwar movement, and concluded that its conduct was squalid, and its "peace" was really about opposing Israel.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
A Thoroughly Shameless Act Of Self-Promotion
Here's some raves:
“A haunting reminder of the scale and breadth of what can only be described as a catastrophe of the human spirit and imagination. Glavin’s remarkable book leaves little doubt that this is indeed the central challenge of our times.”--Wade Davis, author of One River and Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society
"A startling new definition of extinction that includes not only loss of animal species but also disappearing aspects of the human condition. In prose that tempts the reader to linger over each word, he turns a book of science and natural history into an elegy to the world in which we live and so casually disregard, creating nonfiction with a poet's heart and a message of the utmost importance."--Booklist
"With just a handful of representative stories—a localized effort to reestablish a vanishing macaw, an international debate over whaling, a resurgence of cougar attacks—Terry Glavin explores the complex relationship between humanity and extinction with remarkable depth and emotional appeal. Glavin’s thorough and honest look at connections between different types of diversity will appeal to skeptics of the environmental movement and
ecomaniacs alike." --Seed Magazine.
“Glavin is one of the prophets of our time. He is able to see things that others do not or will not see, and then put together these disparate pieces to make a new whole. Not only can he see them but he can spin them into stories that speak to the deepest, most primal parts of the human brain.”--The Literary Review of Canada
"Striking and original. In a fresh and eloquent synthesis of diverse phenomena, Glavin describes some of the consequences. Insightful and poignant."--Publishers Weekly
“Asks us to care, deeply, about living in the midst of the greatest extinction rates of the past 65 million years. If there’s room for hope, it can be found in a book like this.”--The Globe and Mail
“In his engaging and powerfully written work Terry Glavin takes the reader on a cook’s tour of the catacalysmic; the linked global extinction of wildlife, foods, cultures, and language. Like Rachael Carson, E. O. Wilson, and others of vision, Glavin documents the blank terror, complexity, and danger of the human enterprise’s impact on our living planet while also finding hidden springs of hope and purpose. After reading The Sixth Extinction you may find surprising cause to smile through the tears.”--David Helvarg, author of The War Against the Greens and Blue Frontier
“An urgent, necessary book. Glavin writes with both passion and authority. Do yourself and this struggling world a favor: let this book . . . break your heart. Let it stir your soul.”--Mark Abley, author of Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages
“A wise and eloquent writer whose clear-eyed intelligence explores our conflicted relationship with nature. What Glavin has to tell is urgent, important, and well said.”--Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress
“I don’t have the space here to do full justice to Glavin’s poignant personal odyssey. But I will say that for all the ominous portents, he’s no apocalyptic environmental Jeremiah fired with misanthropic zeal. He’s an optimist. He has faith in humanity. He sees glimmers of hope already coalescing in the gathering storm.”--The Vancouver Sun
I see there's a wee excerpt of one of the more nuanced bits in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.
Meanwhile, tomorrow night in Vancouver I'll be on a panel to debate Canada's policy in Afghanistan with Michael Byers, an expert in war law, a senior adviser to the New Democratic Party and academic director of the Liu Centre in International Relations at UBC; Jared Ferrie, a fine and brave reporter who's just come back from his second trip to Afghanistan; and Lauryn Oates, the vice-president of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (if ye don't have the decency to buy my book at least send W4WinA some money for Pete's sake).
At The Alibi Room, 157 Alexander Street at Main, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Here's The Hole in the Heart of American Politics
It was crippled by its retreat into identity politics and the postmodernist acceptance of a world where there is no universal truth, where facts don't matter, everything is relative, and all reality is contingent and constructed. Just like a Michael Moore documentary.
In a world like that, there's little use for proper journalism. In a world like that, documentaries have little value except to entrench pre-ordained narratives and affirm political identities. Advocacy journalism becomes the work of telling your side what it wants to hear instead of what it might actually need to know.
It's all perfectly democratic, of course, and tailor-made for the marketplace. You get to pick the propaganda you want. You'll find demagogues like Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly down one aisle, and the equally fatuous and shrill Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore and Rosie O'Donnell down the other aisle. Take your pick.
That's from my Tyee column today. Michael Moore fans won't like it.
Further reading for you:
Jesse Larner's Forgive Us Our Spins: Michael Moore and the Future of the Left. Also The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't be Jammed, by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter.
And make sure you take in a real documentary: Manufacturing Dissent, byDebbie Melnyk and Rick Caine.
Monday, April 16, 2007
"Support our comrades, always and everywhere"
I'm especially pleased to see that it's in Adbusters magazine that Max Dunbar is asking these questions. I've been asking the same sort of question myself lately (as in here, here and here).
. . .We forget that most victims of Islamic zealotry are Muslims - from the bombings ordered by the cleric Sheik Abdullah bin Jabreen to the genital mutilation suffered by countless young women in the Islamic world. It shouldn't make the slightest difference that some of the fanatics also have a problem with Dubya. By supporting these fanatics, the left is backing the oppressor over the oppressed and the rich over the poor.
Read it all.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Slaves Still Waiting To Be Free: 12-27 Million
That's what I'm on about in my Chronicles column this week. My argument is twofold.
First, the ritualized demand-and-supply of apologies and regrets arising from historical European enslavement of Africans places an overemphasis on colonialism and racism that tends to overlook important contradictions and exceptions. North Africans captured at least a million Europeans and sold them into slavery between the 16th and 19th centuries. Tens of thousands of Irish people were sold into slavery in the Caribbean by 17th-century British slavers. On Canada's west coast, an "octoroon" colonial governor took pains to eliminate aboriginal slavery. And so on.
Second, if you place an overemphasis on race and colonialism you'll overlook the category of class, where slavery more fundamentally belongs, at the very bottom rung of a hierarchy of wealth and power. If you fail to notice that, you'll fail to pay sufficiently urgent attention to the present. You might completely overlook the fact that today, slavery is big business. It's bigger than it's ever been.
The contemporary global slave trade is worth roughly $32 billion. Today's slaves are routinely children. They are sex slaves in Southeast Asia, field labourers in India and Turkey, textile workers in Bangladesh, and house servants in Chad.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
It's 91s and 9s And Samson Crushes The Philistines
Instead of portraying Samson as a Jewish suicide bomber in Gaza circa 1946, three blocks away from the oldest synagogue in Canada, in the middle of Passover, I wonder how things would have turned out if they'd gone with Cuchullain, portrayed as an Irish suicide bomber, in Dublin circa 1916, and it opened tonight, in say, South Boston? Here's the crowd they'd have been up against in Southy:
And here's my toast: War is over; Death to tyrants the world round. Here's some more fine pikey opposition to zombies. . .
. . .and two nice Protestant ladies singing a Passover song (The Jews safely crossed while Pharaoh's host was drownded in the waters and lost..):
UPDATE: That Dropkick Murphy who goes by the name of Rex has his way with Samson-tampering in the Globe, here, and this morning six of our own were blown up on the outskirts of Kandahar. I won't be feeling any empathy for the thugs who did it, thankyou.