Archive for March 2010

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MORE ON COULTER AND THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA – IDEAS? WHAT IDEAS? SHE’S A SIDE SHOW PERFORMER OF HATE

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JOHN ALLEMANG IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

How very tiresome to see repeated over and over rubbish about diversity of opinion and free speech.

This event involved neither of those. Neither did it involve ideas.

I defy anyone to provide samples of Ms. Coulter’s ideas.

There are none. Had she any, I would feel differently about the event, despite my being against right-wing views.

Coulter is nightclub performer or a circus side-show act. She gets paid to make people laugh at ugly, abusive statements.

She was simply given the old hook off the stage by a large audience who did not want to hear her, much as performers in vaudeville were years ago when the audience booed.

And, by the way, she was given it by her own staff, not by the university.

Ms. Coulter’s every joke drips with venom for groups she dislikes. She makes prejudice funny.

She is every bit as unwelcome as would be Ernst Zundel doing an hour of stand-up comedy. One can imagine the subject of that.

In this case, I applaud the students for exercising their right to free speech too.

And I think it should be noted that besides being a hate-monger, Ms Coulter is coward who ran away from the effects of her own foul mouth.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TORONTO SCHOOL BOARD’S DIRECTOR ANNOUNCES ACADEMIES: A NEW BERNIE MADOFF PONZI SCHEME FOR EDUCATION

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

It is indeed a stupid idea.

The fact is that it has already been tried in other places. It simply does not work.

In Chicago, most of the poorly performing schools in black neighborhoods were years ago renamed into various academies.

Sometimes one academy changes into another academy when the poor performance catches up with them.

Toronto’s new Director of education, Chris Spence, spent his last several years in Hamilton as Director. The sum total of his real achievements is zero.

Everywhere the man ever went, a retinue of cameras followed him to produce shots like the one you have leading this story.

When the cameras were turned off, so was the Director, typically rushing out to the next place.

Football players with education degrees just won’t do it. Indeed, it is time to get genuine management and analytical ability heading our schools. Education degrees are just academic fluff.

You’ll only get the best ideas in education from the best people, something our public schools fail to understand.

And that goes for the quality of teachers too. There are far too many who should never have been given a classroom. Get some people with real skills in computers and science and music in the classrooms, even if they do not have education degrees.

A name change, a photo op, and some rah-rah change nothing.

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The grand thing about schemes like Chris Spence’s is that by the time everyone discovers what a waste of time and money it has all been, he’ll be off somewhere on a gold-plated pension.

Truly, a professional mediocre bureaucrat’s dream, and it’s the kind of thing that keeps getting repeated over and over again in public education, which I am sad to say sometimes resembles a giant Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme rather than a serious institution.

A new fad every decade at least. All of them flops. New silly lingo. New pretensions. New nonsense.

Meanwhile, absolutely nothing real is done about the quality of kids’ education.

Truly nothing.

And nothing will until the management of education is taken out of the hands of teachers and ex-teachers with fluff education degrees and fluff ideas.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: QUEBEC AND THE NIQAB – A CASE SURELY OF ABUSING CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND A DOWNRIGHT FOOLISH BUSINESS

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“That piece of fabric, however, negates years and years of fighting for rights and equality for women…”

I’m sorry, but that is complete nonsense.

The writer, and others here, has no basis for judging why a woman wears the veil.

For all this writer knows, the woman behind the veil is a tigress. Indeed, I have heard one interview with a conservative Muslim woman who struck me as a very forceful person.

A few decades back, in films, the niqab was viewed by our public as alluring and fascinating. There are many scenes exhibiting these aspects in old films and serials, scenes made to appeal to our sensibilities.

Now, it has completely turned around with people attributing the most outlandish motives. It’s just the backwash from America’s insane war on terror, fed by Bush’s lame stuff about women when what he was about was killing.

The picture the Globe uses to accompany this article, perhaps a staged shot, shows that quality in spades. The eyes – the face’s greatest communicator of emotion and intelligence – are brought into focus. It is a beautiful image.

These women were admitted as immigrants to Canada with their niqab. What right do we have to say high-handedly, after they have moved their lives here, they must do away with it? None.

This is the attitude of the intolerant and those who do not understand what they are talking about, using flimsy excuses like women’s rights. A woman’s rights include wearing what she wishes, does it not?

The reasons for this garment are complex – social, historical, and not just religious, but for devout wearers religion is very important, more so than its secular critics can understand.

At any rate, the number of Muslim woman who wear the niqab is miniscule. I’ve never seen one on the street, although the hijab (a handsome babushka) is common. So why this inordinate outrage over it?

Almost all immigrants eventually give up their native dress. It is up to them to decide on that, not shrill accusers in a newspaper column.

Those shrill demands are the way Americans behave. It’s one of their most unpleasant qualities. Live and let live so long as people are not being hurt – that’s the Canadian way, or at least I thought it was.

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“Imagine what even this newspaper would look like if all the pictures of women had their faces all covered up.”

Sorry, but we get unthinking comment after unthinking comment.

A tiny minority of humanity wears the niqab, and a tiny fraction of them is in Canada.

You could also say, by that kind of “logic,” what if the newspaper were full of people wearing the gear of Watusi tribes people?

Please, some tolerance and intelligence are needed here.

Ridiculous.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: DAVID FRUM FIRED FROM THE AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

This is good news on all sides.

First, Frum, a bag of wind who has worked with America’s ugliest neo-cons in advocating American imperialism all over the globe, loses his post.

But perhaps more important, this act is a sharp confirmation of what the American think tanks actually are, propaganda mills play acting as academic institutions.

The American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute all operate on the same basis as those television commercials for over-the-counter remedies featuring actors in white lab coats pretending to be doctors.

They offer only one point of view, always.

And now we know they don’t even keep staff who even once do not toe the line.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE ANN COULTER CIRCUS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA: CALLING THIS A MATTER OF FREE SPEECH IS SILLY

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO AN EDITORIAL AND A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“…the free exchange of ideas….”

What pompous nonsense!

Coulter exchanges no ideas, only attitudes, hateful attitudes.

And she was not there to speak and inform – she was there to entertain those who laugh at the jokes of nasty-mouthed twelve-year olds.

This woman is a hatemonger without redeeming values.

Had she attacked the appearance or customs of Orthodox Jewish people, as she does those of others, the Globe would be patting itself on the back while pronouncing that Canada has no room for her.

And in that case, you would be right.

As it is, you could not be more wrong.

And your pompous phrasing takes no account of the fact that the University of Ottawa did permit this seething lump of intolerance to speak.

It was a large group of people, exercising their own rights of speech, who shouted her down.

And, as someone who dearly embraces free speech and hates censorship, I applaud them.
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What Ann Coulter really represents – apart from intolerance and the retarded-development humor of a frat boy – is the triumph of info-tainment.

America is awash in info-tainment, having even at least one entire network dedicated to it, Fox.

She was here to make her offering on an organized tour with promised profits, just as Cirque du Soleil does Los Vegas.

Indeed, circus performer – of the kind from the old days of “freak show” tents – would be one accurate way to describe what she does.

Ideas and information are no more part of her act than they are for nude lap-dancer at a men’s lounge.

It is truly absurd to discuss her in any other light: to do so is to buy in to the idea that Americans are informed by Fox Television.
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Ian Hunter offers us a remarkably vacuous article.

What Mr. Hunter has done here, thinly disguised as a defense of free speech and quality education, is attack Allan Rock, obviously a politician he does not like.

The issue of free speech is truly not present in this incident.

Ms Coulter is a paid performer.

And an audience booed her off the stage.

It used to happen all the time in Vaudeville.

Remember the old jokes about the cane dragging an unpopular performer off the stage?

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICA IS NOW ASKING CANADIAN TROOPS TO STAY IN AFGHANISTAN BEYOND THEIR AGREED DEPARTURE IN 2011

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The sick influence of even our limited involvement with Afghanistan is apparent in the very words of some of these remarks.

“Our boys”!

Canadians never traditionally spoke this way. It is the speech of belly-over-belt American politicians from Mississippi.

“The women of Afghanistan”!

As though the writer had any idea at all, and besides, “the women” were George Bush’s ace propaganda ploy.

America did not go there to help women. It went there to kill, and it has killed a great many people.

We have squandered many lives and billions of dollars trying to make the Pentagon smile at us.

That’s enough.

Staying longer would be proof that American insanity is catching.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: HILLARY SPEAKS AT AIPAC – ISRAEL’S RECENT SHAMEFUL BEHAVIOR – THE SILLINESS OF BIBLICAL CLAIMS TO GREATER ISRAEL

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY GIDEON RACHMAN IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

There is something almost shameful that an American Secretary of State feels obliged to address the Lobby for Israel on so basic a matter as Israel’s recent behavior towards the United States.

Moreover, Aipac is an organization which has been involved in some very dodgy activities in the past, as reflected in extensive FBI investigations.

Israel publicly insults the Vice president of the United States on a high-level visit and then argues with American officials over their view of the fact.

What other country in the world could get away with such behavior?

And then the prime minister, a man whose intolerance and brutality are a matter of public record, gets a tête-à-tête in the White House?

Israel’s ugly seizure of Arab homes in East Jerusalem violates every international agreement.

Israel’s entire recent behavior – mass murder in Gaza, assassination, brutal blockade, and taking the property of others – is little different to what Serbia was doing when the United States went to war against them.

If you want peace, you talk to your neighbors, you stop abusing your neighbors, and you stop stealing from your neighbors.

But if what you want is other people’s homes and farms, minus the people, in a vast slow-motion ethnic-cleansing, you behave exactly as Israel behaves.

The only nation on earth which can push Israel towards civilized behavior towards its neighbors is the United States, yet because of the campaign-financing efforts of outfits like Aipac under America’s ghastly campaign-finance laws, that needed push is rendered almost politically impossible.

All quite absurd, the most powerful country in the world, a country which has been unbelievably generous towards Israel, has its foreign policy heavily bent by a place with the population of Ecuador.

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When people write about Israel’s additional territorial claims in terms of Hebrew Scripture, for most of the world’s people it makes as much sense as modern Greece claiming Turkey owing to the Iliad.

If you can quote Scripture as authority in Middle East affairs, you can justify anything, including killing all non-Jewish residents, for that is what the Biblical Hebrews were enjoined to do, over and over.

Many countries could have a claim on the territory we call Israel if this approach were valid, including the Egyptians (who long, long ago ruled there, the Lebanese (viewed as the descendants of the ancient Phoenicians who also ruled there), and perhaps even the Iraqis.

The silliness of this claim is made even greater by the important research of an Israeli scholar who says that the Palestinians are, for the most part, the actual descendants of the ancient Israelis.

When Rome conquered territories, it typically did not remove the inhabitants and it did not interfere with their religion, so long as they accepted Roman rule. Just because, after two turbulent millennia of history, most of the Palestinians are Muslim does not invalidate this concept. Moreover, DNA testing is tending to support this view.

So what we are really talking about with Israel’s modern activities is removing the descendants of ancient Israel who have lived there countless centuries in favor of new immigrants from New York or London. If that isn’t imperialism, I don’t know what is.

On still another level, Biblical claims must be rejected simply because they are dangerous and de-stabilizing. Greater Israel as it has been defined by Zionist scholars – and mind you, there are no maps in the Bible – includes the West Bank and Gaza and pieces of Syria and Lebanon. Does claiming that, or any portion of it, resemble anything but a certain formula for endless war and unrest?

Personal religious views and 2,500 year-old books have no place in international affairs.

In the end, if Israel wishes to be regarded as a state like any other state, then it must behave as we expect other states to behave, and that does not include undefined borders which constantly ooze out over the property of others.