Friday, 30 December 2011

Stephen Harper's Canada: Not Texas North; Alabama North

I hope you are enjoying as much as I am the civility dividends of Stephen Harper's glorious "law-and-order" crusade. Canada is so much the better for it.

Sure. Cranks may decry Canada's unprecedented gang violence and gun crime epidemic. Closer to home, obdurate Ottawa malcontents might be vexed at our record number of unsolved murders. Me, I see these events as character-building opportunities for Canadians to become the gleefully (and non-Northern European) self-slaughtering crypto-Americans our prime minister has always wanted us to be. Besides, even if this recent uptick in nihilist brutality were disagreeable, blaming the federal government for the national crime rates under its watch (when law enforcement and the administration of justice are provincial responsibilities) is precisely the kind of cheap irrational demagogy that a cheap irrational governing party would no doubt deplore after having deployed their cheap irrational demagogy against various Liberal governments, relentlessly and to not inconsiderable effect on the credulous, for a decade and a half. So, one mustn't do that.

How to explain, then, the ugliness currently underway in Newmarket?

A string of racist vandalism against a black man and his white partner has shocked a collegial Newmarket neighbourhood and pushed a couple to the brink.

The latest of three incidents happened sometime between Christmas Eve night and early Christmas morning, according to York Region police.

Rita Brown, who along with her partner, Seun Oyinsan, moved into a home this summer on quiet suburban Hodgson Dr., discovered the “N” word scratched on the hood of her car Christmas Day.

That came nearly 3 ½ months after two other attacks on their home and vehicles. During the first, on Sept. 10, swastikas were spray-painted on the couple’s garage and their SUV was defaced with the “N” word and acid thrown on the sides. Nails hammered into small pieces of wood were also left under their tires.

Most alarmingly, Brown said, police received a message. She was told it said the couple wasn’t wanted in the neighbourhood, called her a “whore” and threatened: “We will kill if necessary.”

Surely, this kind of thing has happened before--perhaps, say, ten years ago, in the days when we, almost despairing of succour, were crying out in vain to the heavens for an agent of blessed deliverance as mighty as the hand of Stephen Harper, that he might smite the evildoers and cleanse the land of their depredations. Surely, this is a recrudescence--a backslide into the Liberal Dark Age of scofflaw impunity, when the nation languished under the unrestrained twin flagrancies of murder and rapine. Or perhaps not:
Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen said he was “deeply disappointed and concerned that something like this could happen anywhere, let alone in my community.”

Van Bynen spoke with the couple earlier in the fall and said he would do so again this week. In the 30 years he’s lived in Newmarket, this is the first such incident, he said.
How fortunate for Stephen Harper that he and the other chief purveyors of facile attribution of criminal acts to the federal government became the federal government almost six years ago; the kind of slander once casually launched at Jean Chretien and Paul Martin would make for a silly and uncomfortable spectacle now, especially since a link that, in their hands, was so specious, seems so much more plausible in this case.

After all, no one outside of the barking kennel of Reform/Alliance berserkers really believed that there was something inherently crime inducing about the nature of a Liberal government, a claim always immediately empirically neutralised (to the satisfaction of the reality-based community, at least) by a couple of decades' worth of steeply declining crime rates. A party willing to hazard its credibility upon the ceaseless iteration of a connection so effortlessly disproved would be sorely tempted to wonder aloud why an unprecedented racist attack would occur on the watch of a party whose founder was mentored by and received key policy advice from virulently anti-Canadian white supremacists and neo-Nazis, that employed violent racists as "security" and riding personnel in its formative years in Ontario, and that once truculently announced its opposition to "any immigration based on race or creed or designed to radically or suddenly alter the ethnic makeup of Canada".

Yes, indeed. What a relief it must be to Harper to have been elevated to a dignity that makes the performance of that oft-rehearsed Reform/Alliance idiocy impracticable. It would be a relief to me, too, if what had occasioned the suppression of that species of idiocy had not also unleashed so many others.


Monday, 26 December 2011

Season's Creepings

In describing the pagan desecration of holy places, early medieval accounts such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle observe a euphemistic fastidiousness that, while acknowledging the Viking zeal to denude shrines of their relics and tabernacles of their gold and silver, leave implicit or entirely unuttered the grosser heathen habits of profanation, such as lustily evacuating or performing bloody sacrifices upon the altars of monasteries and abbeys.

I was reminded of the old monks’ proto-Canadian pudeur when imagining Canadians’ likely response to Stephen Harper’s Christmas message. My guess is that the few Canadians aware of the existence of the soporifically banal, annually hissed testaments to Stephen Harper’s utter inability to rise above vacuity even when inspired by one of the holiest days of the faith he pretends to profess will, generously, merely note that his vaporous flaccidities are bereft of the silver and gold with which his words might have been imbued were he capable of anything even touching the hem of a competently simulated sincerity, candor, or authentic commitment.

For myself, growing ever more impatient of polite euphemisms as I age, whenever I hear crypto-religious pieties from reptilian frauds such as Harper or any among the cowed, invertebrate caucus of castrati over whom he presides, my mind runs immediately to visions of Norseman emptying mead-filled bladders onto ciboria and squatting over the scattered bones of saints, for, though I am willing to assume that history’s vomitorium of rhetorical hypocrisy contains far viler blitherings than Harper’s, there is little in Canada’s history of prime ministerial conceit and pretension that offers impudence equal to that with which Harper consistently preens himself as a credit, rather than a disgrace, to the Christianity the key beliefs of which his core political and economic principles (and his executive proclivities) daily violate.

Ecco homo, this avid disciple of Pilate, boasting of how his government promotes “the things that unite us as Canadians” mere months after providing Jack Layton with state obsequies in order to pour bleach over his party's despicable “Taliban Jack” vilification program (inspired by Layton’s espousal of a common-sense view shared by the vast majority of Canadians and that has since become official NATO policy), not long after accusing the Liberals of being Taliban sympathizers, not long after sponsoring the gravest truncheon-wielding violation of civil liberties in post-war Canadian history in order to make Toronto safe for the scumbag emissaries of corrupt totalitarian regimes, and a mere handful of years after accusing a Canadian prime minister of enjoying the sight of children being raped.

Behold the verminous pork-barreling hack, luxuriating in his prime ministership after having spent decades dancing attendance upon corporate elites whilst managing to keep his threadbare CV untainted by the slightest evidence of volunteer (or even avocatory) service to his community, lecturing Canadians on the importance of “remember[ing] those who are less fortunate” not long after conspicuously failing to see any reason to get off his ass and personally assess the ongoing humanitarian disaster on a Native reserve and only a few years after unrepentantly cheerleading one of the half-century’s most disastrous, civilian-butchering military interventions, one whose Christmastide is a perpetual Massacre of the Innocents.

Note that Harper’s message is a smarmy exhortation to remember the less fortunate; it is not directed at the less fortunate. Harper does not deign to address the less fortunate: he prefers to speak over their heads. They are to be spoken about; they are not to be spoken to. The prime minister, as Harper conceives the office, must not stoop to a direct communication with the poor and marginalized, though he may sometimes, when decorum demands, acknowledge their existence when chatting to those who actually matter (he is a populist, after all). Prime ministers don’t talk to losers, and they confine all collateral reference to their humanity to a few smug, oblique shibboleths exchanged with their smug constituencies at this time of year, designed to reinforce each other’s high self-regard.

Christ stood with the poor, the outcast, the victimized. Harper stands with the hateful, the criminal, the cretinous. Harper’s is not really a Christmas message; it is an Easter message, graven with a nail, and delivered in much the same spirit as that which wrote and hoist atop a cross a sign reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”.

Friday, 3 June 2011

A Fiasco Brought to You by Harper’s Cabinet of Callow Cretins: One Down, Thousands More to Go!

I find it odd that our media have neglected to mention, if only in passing, that Canada has just undergone the most mortifying foreign affairs debacle of its diplomatic history, courtesy of a cabinet that, having spent five years mistaking squalid pork-barrel hackery and petty partisan larceny for statecraft, is still not anywhere near being ready for primetime, as evidenced by a Foreign Affairs minister who gives scant evidence of being able to locate Israel on a map, let alone offer a meaningful observation upon it.

As far as we can tell, Stephen Harper made clear that his vision of the Middle East “peace process” [*cough*] required that it evolve according to norms not only totally unacceptable to the Arab world but completely contrary to Canada’s traditional Middle East policy, to the 1967 UN resolution that has ever since stood as the framework for negotiations, and to President Obama’s explicitly stated position.

Thus, Harper managed, without having any realistic hope of pursuing the alternative and futile trajectory he was proposing, to destroy Canada’s credibility as a proponent of the two-state solution while simultaneously undermining the public solidarity of the G8 and the authority of the United States, the only nation with the clout to condition the Middle East’s negotiating environment and the hyper-power to which Harper otherwise pledges undying loyalty. I will challenge anybody to find a precedent wherein a Canadian prime minister’s contribution to a multilateral forum has had this blend of incoherence and brattish uselessness as its main ingredients.

Shortly thereafter, the Honourable John Baird staggers out, blinking and stammering, and announces that Canada has reconsidered its position and now fully supports Obama’s view. While reporters wonder whether it was a consultation with a ouija board, a realization of Canada’s fundamental geo-political irrelevance, or a belated awareness of the idiocy of Harper’s initial position that changed the government’s mind, Baird proceeds to give every indication of being utterly unaware of what “1967” actually means to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He then shuffles nervously like an awkward sixth-grader and mumbles that he had no idea that UN resolutions on Israel were so important for a Minister of Foreign Affairs to be aware of, presumably whilst engaging the rueful, silent rumination that a career of banging fists on desks and screaming spittle-drenched taking points ill prepares one for a grown-up’s job.

Meanwhile, as this cheap vaudeville act unfolds, our media blandly report events as if they are not helping Canada become even more completely to the G8 what Poland is to the EU—a parochial, unambitious, and slightly dim gaggle of slap-happy bumpkins who’ve become so deeply convinced of their abject inability to offer the world anything of value that their only significant cultural export is their own poltroonish collective persona.

Allow me to become nostalgic for a moment—not for Lloyd Axworthy, the last Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs to have an overall ministerial value greater than that of his cufflinks collection—but for a time when Canadians could get angry about being made to look ludicrous on the international stage. By my reckoning, that would be 1979, when Joe Clark was eviscerated in the press, and rightly, for promising to move Canada’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. That misstep, seen as hugely embarrassing, was considered by many even in the Tory-friendly media to be enough to bring Clark’s fitness for office into question. Now, having grown inured to the self-abasing incompetence of their elites, Canadians appear immune to shame.

The Harper era has demonstrated a hard truth: a great nation cannot be long ruled by moral midgets without eventually being cut down to their size.