Seeing that things have finally started to quiet down in the good ol' USA - after a crazy summer dominated by all those rabid, angry, crazy, incensed right-wing teabaggers, birthers and townhall shouters with all their mad cries of "Socialism!" and "Fascism!" and "Obama was born in Kenya!" - I was thinking it might be safe to once again venture down there for a vacation.
It appears that the rednecks have put their guns away for the moment. At least until Obama tries to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
"I'll go along with the charade
Until I can think my way out
I know it was all a big joke
Whatever it was all about"
- Bob Dylan, "Tight Connection To My Heart"
Whatever one may think about the so-called "War On Terror", there are certain stories that both boggle the mind and dramatically highlight just how ridiculous this War Without End really is. One such recent story concerned the release of yet another innocent man, Mohamed el-Gharani, from America's notorious gulag down there in Guantanamo Bay.
Now, sadly, the release of an innocent man from Guantanamo is hardly a rare or unique occurrence, but this case, as you'll see, was particularly disturbing.
"Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game"
- Bob Dylan, "Hurricane"
Imagine, if you can, a justice system where justice is, in fact, part of the system.
Imagine a country where those in a position of power and authority can actually be held to account when they abuse it. A place where cops not only can't get away with beating on innocent people, but where those innocent people can in fact fight back in self-defense without finding themselves in prison convicted of "resisting arrest" and "assaulting a police officer".
"Terrorism doesn't just blow up buildings; it blasts every other issue off the political map. The spectre of terrorism - real and exaggerated - has become a shield of impunity, protecting governments around the world from scrutiny for their human rights abuses"
- Naomi Klein
"If you listen to the politicians, you might think we are all terrorists"
- Loesje (International - originally Dutch - free speech organization)
"Our position is clear and frank... We consider the military occupation of our land a terrorist act"
- Yasser Arafat
So, with the war in Sri Lanka now over and the Tamils having been crushed and brought to their knees, I'd like to ask just one question: Are we happy now? With the Tamils' decades-long struggle for self-determination quashed and their dreams of an independent homeland shattered, are we fully satisfied? Should we give ourselves a pat on the back?
Because there's no denying that this result is largely due to us here in the freedom-loving West. Specifically, I'm referring to how the governments of Canada, America, Australia and the European Union all decided to take sides in this civil war - this brutal ethnic civil war.
Not only did we impose an embargo on one side - the Tamil minority - while fully supporting the other - the Sinhalese majority - but we even went as far as to label the Tamils as "terrorists", while actively working to shut down all of their overseas funding and their ability to arm themselves. Both sides may have clearly been guilty of committing some pretty heinous atrocities, but for some reason we decided that the best thing to do was to condemn the one side, while cheering on and supporting the other.
Worst of all, we sided with the wrong side.
Whether you've been following the sad, tragic tale of Robert Dziekanski's brutal death at the hands of those four RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport back in October 2007 or you're simply concerned about police brutality in general, you absolutely have to watch Terry Milewski's fantastic piece that aired earlier this week on CBC's flagship nightly news program, "The National" (see link below).
Specifically, everyone needs to see the interviews with Tunney Moriarty and Al Clarke, two retired RCMP officers who have a combined 61 years on the force between them. We're talking about two people who spent most of their working lives serving in the RCMP, but who now feel so incensed by the Dziekanski case and, particularly, the way it's been handled by the force that they feel they have no other choice but to speak out and speak up. And have they ever! These guys are a real inspiration.
And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and
Our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our woman
Why we rape our woman
Do we hate our woman?
- 2Pac (Tupac Shakur), "Keep Ya Head Up"
As if you needed any more proof. But here it is anyway, two more stories demonstrating once more (and once and for all) the joy of tradition, the jubilation of superstition and, most of all, the glory - and glorious compassion - of organized religion.
Oh, and not to forget the awesome ability of men to take their beloved misogyny and sexism and make it an integral part of just about every major religion worldwide.
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Leonard Cohen, "Everybody Knows"
Cowards. That's the one word that continuously comes to mind when I hear about these out-of-control cops and their tasers.
There have been numerous cases of these weapons being unleashed on harmless victims in recent years, but I think two cases in particular highlight just how cowardly some police have become.
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
Bob Dylan, "Blowin' In The Wind"
What's going on in Gaza right now is so incredibly tragic and unjust, not to mention unbelievably brutal and barbaric.
But I'm not here to discuss how it is we came to this horrific situation. No, that has been written about much more eloquently by others, people such as Avi Shlaim, an Oxford professor of international relations and an Israeli himself. I'd strongly recommend that everyone read his recent piece "How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe". It's a definite must-read for anyone wanting to really understand this conflict and the whole long, sordid tale of Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinian people.
You who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears
Bob Dylan, "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll"
The cops who brutally attacked newly-arrived immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport on Oct. 14, 2007, tragically causing his death, will face absolutely no criminal charges. That's right, none.
A year ago when I wrote my sad and angry piece, "Kill, Duck and Cover: The RCMP Rant", I was outraged and sickened, but at least I knew that, with the video evidence the whole world had just seen, there would eventually be some sort of justice for Dziekanski and his heartbroken mother, Sofia Cisowski. But, sadly, I was wrong. There will be no justice. None whatsoever.
Driving, according to the Bush Administration, is the newest war crime. Yes, war crime.
Obviously, things have been quite farcical in the Land of Bush and Dick (Cheney) for years now, but it would seem that, as of the past week, they've actually reached a whole new level of lunacy.
At a monkey trial down there in Guantanamo Bay, at the infamous Land Of Freedom Gulag, some guy named Salim Hamdan was just found guilty of war crimes for driving Osama bin Laden around from 1997 to 2001. I'm not making this up.