Archive for July 2011

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ANDERS BREVEIK – NONSENSE ABOUT MASS MURDER AND THE INTERNET – BUT CERTAIN MAINLINE COLUMNISTS INFLUENCED BREVEIK – NATURE OF APHORISMS – NORWAY’S EXAMPLE VS AMERICA’S

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENTS TO A COLUMN BY TIMOTHY GARTON ASH IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Sorry, Breveik fed on a lot of “mainline” writers, people like Mark Steyn.

I do wish we could counteract the flood of Islamophobia and propaganda by apologists for Israel’s brutality, but there are such people writing for every newspaper in the Western world.

It is their thinking – the kind of stuff Margaret Wente periodically expels about the Middle East – that Breveik fed on.

We should not be intimidated by these horrible events into putting all the blame on the Internet – that would be foolish and it would be wrong.

The subtler forms of prejudice and injustice we regularly receive from people like Thomas Friedman or Margaret Wente or Charles Krauthammer or Jeff Jacoby or Mark Steyn is far more dangerous than blogs on the Internet.

Why?

It comes wrapped in the robes of noted newspapers, giving it a sense of weight of authority or importance for the weak-minded or unanalytical, and some of it has far greater circulation than most things on the Internet.

There is no question that a man like Breveik respected symbols of authority – he was totally captivated by things military.

No Joe Blow on a blog would have appealed to him the way a Mark Steyn did.

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A reader quotes:

“All that is required for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing. “

A wonderful quote.

But like all aphorisms, it leaves the details out – a bit like a prescription without all the ingredients.

“Doing something” is not the same thing as “doing the right thing.”

The examples of Norway and the United States are important.

Norway has chosen deliberately to keep its openness, freedoms, and rights. It struck out at no one, not even killing Breveik in capturing him.

The United States – after one terrorist incident, which by the way was actually smaller than Norway’s as a proportion of population – has gone berserk.

It has started two wars, bombed half a dozen countries, killed maybe a million people itself, passed stupid, anti-democratic laws, and turned its borders into those of a fascist state.

I’ll take the Norweigian response any day.

Your response is that of the United States or of that other place which partly inspired Breveik, the garrison state, Israel.

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JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: IN THE WAKE OF ANDERS BREVEIK’S MASS MURDER A SMUG COLUMNIST SAYS WE NEED TO EXPOSE DANGEROUS FICTIONS – AND AN OBTUSE COMMENT ABOUT ISLAM

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY DOUG SAUNDERS IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Dangerous fictions?

Which of the hundreds which humans adhere to should we busy ourselves with exposing?

We are chimpanzees with big brains, the big brains only making us more dangerous than our murderous ancestors.

Just as one example, we are inundated with dangerous fictions about the Middle East, and these are fictions which helped motivate Mr Breveik.

Israel murders 400 children in Gaza, but that’s hardly worth commenting upon.

The United Nations’ raporteur for Palestine, Richard Falk, distinguished academic and an American Jew, recently reported that Israel’s forces in their various attacks and punishments and raids have killed 1,335 Palestinian children since the year 2000.

I don’t see you or other columnists getting worked up over that.

And the United States started an illegal war in Iraq – mainly to wipe off the board Israel’s number-one enemy – which ended with the deaths of the best part of a million people, countless cripples, and an entire society set back for a generation.

Indeed, the killing the United States has been doing in recent years makes Mr Breveik look like a piker when it comes to murder.

How about all the crazy religious beliefs and values which motivate so much of the world into terrible injustice? Bride burning in India? Treatment of young widows in India? Selling girls to old rich men in India and Thailand and other places? The fairly routine murder of prostitutes in Mexico? The ghastly ritual murders in parts of Africa? Africa’s brutal female mutilations, 3 million a year? Africa’s common practice of men raping young girls in villages? The Catholic Church’s countless thousands of abused children in all the corners of the world?

One of the dangerous fictions at the Globe is that Doug Saunders thinks before he writes.

The other is that he has anything worth saying.

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I just love one particularly obtuse comment starting with “Let’s be honest.” I love it because after those words everything said is prejudiced, ignorant, and unbalanced.

“There is an inherent incompatibility between the Western culture and the teaching of Islam (Think “slut-walk” or “gay-pride”) “Freedom” and human rights in the West are inimical to Islam.”

Things like “slut walk” are no more acceptable to the Ultra-orthodox Jews who largely determine Israel’s policies and laws.

Only a few years back in Israel, a group of women, known prostitutes, were mysteriously burned alive when their house, near an orthodox neighborhood, was burned down.

It is quite typical for Ultra-orthodox men to drive “loose women” off their streets with violence and vituperation.

And are you trying to tell me that “slut walk” would be acceptable to the millions of American Christian fundamentalists who support Israel and help distort American policies to its benefit? Or gay rights?

Try “slut walk” in strongly Catholic parts of South America? There would be some new murders of women.

Your comments are nothing but unthinking ignorance with no perspective, the same kind of prejudice which clearly motivated Breveik.

You are promoting Islamophobia.

Simply appalling.

You are the perfect example of why Doug Saunders’ column is nonsense.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: CLIVE CROOK COMMENTS ON REPUBLICAN AND TEA PARTY BEHAVIOR DURING BUDGET TALKS

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

The Republican behavior has a long history.

Barry Goldwater, a decent though extreme politician, back in the early 1960s was fond of saying, “…extremism in defence of liberty is no vice…”

The “Tea Party,” really just a sub-caucus of the Republican Party, adhere to that kind of simplistic declaration of faith.

One senses in such adherence more than a tinge of another American social phenomenon, the notion of the endless possibilities of self-improvement held almost as a kind of intense faith in wish fulfillment.

If I want it to be so, and wish or pray for it hard enough, it will be so.

The outer limits of these attitudes are seen in the large groups of fundamentalists who periodically sell their homes and gather in some location, waiting for the Second Coming at a predicted date – something which has happened dozens of times.

Another reflection of the phenomenon was highly visible at the turn of the century. Huge numbers of otherwise seemingly reasonable Americans predicted social collapse and stocked freeze-dried food and ammunition.

We do have millions of American fundamentalists who support Israel out of some bizarre set of thoughts from the Book of Revelations that when certain events transpire in the Mideast, Christ will return. Thus they support Israel in a kind of nihilistic embrace of death.

I believe these extreme attitudes and views have a Puritan origin. They are in the genes, not learned.

That makes them pretty well unchangeable over any reasonable time horizon.

Whenever a bizarre subgroup has leverage over a political system, owing to that system’s inadequate institutions, we get paralysis.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: AMERICAN BUDGET PARALYSIS – JEFFREY SIMPSON SAYS SHOCK THERAPY IS NEEDED – AND EVERYTHING’S FINE IN DOROTHY’S KANSAS

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TOP A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

If you study American history, you will know that this is a nation which never, never anticipates or plans ahead.

It has gone through many crises only after having pounded its head into a wall many times.

That observation has remained true from the creation of the Constitution – after the pathetic Articles of Confederation – to entering World War II.

Another debilitating American characteristic is its obsessions. There are always obsessions, and the Tea Party is only the latest manifestation of this.

Of course, it never hurts to endlessly be told you are number one in just about everything: it becomes pretty hard for those who adopt this naive faith to believe the country is being driven over a cliff. How can that be for Number One?

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A reader in the U.S. writes:

“Everyday life down here isn’t all doom”

Oh yes, indeed, everything is just fine in Dorothy’s Kansas.

Americans are busy demanding homes with three-car garages, five bedrooms, three baths, and central air out in godforsaken desert sprawls like Arizona or California or Nevada where the future water supply is non-existent.

Or building such crappy chipboard villages on valuable farmland in places like the Midwest.

Granite counter tops as far as the eye can see, and Jack-and-Jill sinks from coast to coast.

All of it requiring more roads, more cars, more fuel, more electricity generation, more maintenance with absolutely no thought for the future at all.

And so many of the buyers have saved no money for what they think they deserve.

And meanwhile you keep hundreds of bases abroad and an armed forces of over two million butting into everyone else’s business. And you cannot even run your own affairs.

You are killing civilians daily in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Yemen, and supporting Israel doing the same in Palestine.

But how very nice that your weather is beautiful.

The quoted reader demonstrates exactly why the United States is declining, declining in economics, declining in ethics, declining in democratic values.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: WILL KIRSTINE STEWART SAVE CBC? ASKS A PUFF PIECE – THE ANSWER IS PRETTY OBVIOUS FROM HER RESUME

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY MICHAEL POSNER IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

‘Ms. Stewart’s conversation tends to sound like that. Outwardly cool, if not icy, she has clearly mastered the vocabulary of modern corporatese, all those “bottom lines” that, “at the end of the day,” will allow us to “move the yardsticks.” ‘

Ms Stewart sounds a rather tedious person, not the type needed to save the CBC from descending into meaninglessness.

“…she dated George Stroumboulopoulos…”   That, in and of itself, is proof of extremely poor taste. Stroumboulopoulos is a man of no outstanding quality save his sense of his own world-class coolness.

She has “a degree” in English Literature – the “a” undoubtedly means a BA – just as several hundred thousand others, including many marginally employed, have.

Without good quality serious talk, sound news shows, and genuine arts and culture programs, there is no point to CBC television’s existence. And right now, the only one of those that it has is the news, but even that has its weak sections.

CBC television misses many good opportunities, including not taking full advantage of documentary films and genuine cultural critics. People like the late Brian Linehan or today’s immensely talented Jesse Wente are the kind of people CBC should always use.

Now, CBC Radio has always been another matter. With people the caliber of Anna Maria Tremonti, Bill Richardson, Eleanor Wachtel, Robert Harris, Bob McDonald, Bernard St-Laurent, and a few others, we have some world-class excellence in radio – the kind of things not remotely available on commercial networks and not equaled by American NPR.

But CBC has been playing nasty games in recent years with radio too. Mediocrities like Jian Ghomeshi and his platitudes, cheap record promotions, and outbursts of poor taste are dumbing-down the radio too. And Radio Two has also substituted people who talk like teenagers sometimes rather than just entertaining authorities.

And when the excellent people I speak of retire – none of them are young – and if the trend towards intellectual mediocrity continues, CBC Radio too will largely not be worth keeping.

Who needs pop music and pop interviews with Americans on CBC when commercial radio and the Internet are replete with them?

If CBC can’t offer what commercial networks cannot – a showcase of Canada’s best and most thoughtful – it has no raison d’etre.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE HORROR IN NORWAY – WHAT TO MAKE OF IT – A NOTE ON THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENTS TO A COLUMN BY DOUG SAUNDERS AND TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

“What did Norway do to deserve such devastating attacks?”

Sorry, Doug Saunders, but that title represents utter stupidity.

Undoubtedly, the killer is seriously mentally unstable.

There is no protection from the occasional explosions of such people.

They are simply part of the human condition.

That way of thinking plays into the hands of all the lunatics out there looking for a political or mystical explanation of such matters, as it does to all the paranoid who would have us all live in fortresses with layer after layer of mindless security.

The guy responsible was a known right-wing, Nazi-like extremist.

He actually came to the island, armed to the teeth, dressed as a police officer.

Police have him in custody, an amazing feat when you consider what American police would have done, and they will learn what little there is to learn from this very sick man.

The horrific number of victims is owing to the nature of the island. The BBC has an aerial photo of the place. The victims were like fenced-in prey.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14259356

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“Shame on us all for instinctively blaming Muslim terrorists for the tragedy. We have been too much brainwashed here in the West.”

It is absolutely the measure of how inundated we are with anti-Muslim propaganda that people would jump to this conclusion.

In fact, he is a Christian, a representative of the bloodiest religion in all of history.

How bloody has Christianity been?

http://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2009/05/26/of-war-islam-and-israel/

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“Why does the Nobel prize keep getting inserted into these articles about how peaceful Norway is?”

Yes indeed, and look at the last Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama, a man who has now killed something on the order of 2500 innocent people in Pakistan with the modern version of Hitler’s “buzz bombs.”

All in the process of trying to murder people who are nothing but suspects, exactly the fashion of the old South American military death squads making people they don’t like disappear.

And who keeps a secret chain of CIA torture prisons going.

Who never closed Guantanamo.

Who keeps troops in Iraq.

Who keeps troops in Afghanistan.

And who is also secretly bombing in Yemen and Somalia.

Who never says a word about Israel’s horrors done to a captive people.

The Peace Prize has come to mean nothing.

Past recipients included an American war criminal, a man of great treachery with the blood of thousands on his hands, an old terrorist for the Israeli’s Irgun gang, and the father of Israel’s atomic bombs.

All of it no reflection on poor Norway, of course, but a definite indictment of trying to induce peace with prizes.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE CENTENARY OF MARSHALL MCLUHAN – SOME PERSPECTIVE ON A MUCH OVERRATED INTELLECTUAL FIGURE

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED COMMENT TO A COLUMN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

The McLuhan phenomenon must be seen in proper historical perspective.

The tweedy man and his mystical mutterings became famous at a time of great social change and unrest, a time of love-ins, LSD, communes, Mao, and many other now passé things.

I’ve always regarded McLuhan as greatly overrated, and I believe the efforts now to puff him back up into a significant figure are doomed to failure.

I met him once and I liked the tweedy quality, but the mutterings were just that, almost like the work of a bright man with a brain disability.

Yes, here and there, there is a clever, pithy observation, but they are almost like the one-liners of a stand-up comedian – they go nowhere.

I’ve heard contemporary followers of his trying to explain how prescient and advanced his thinking was, but they remain utterly unconvincing, generally themselves sinking into the same incomprehensible strings of clap-trap phrases that McLuhan entertained himself with.

I believe he was likely a professor of above-average classroom interest and the kind of curmudgeon many students were happy to experience, but I do not believe he was a man of far-sighted vision or a revolutionary thinker at all.

His eccentric sense of humor in appearing in a Woody Allen film I think almost certainly summarizes what he was doing when he was making cryptic pronouncements to groups of puzzled faces and being paid handsomely for doing so.