Insignificant Others

Freedom Denied! Are We Happy Now: The Crushing of Sri Lanka's Tamils

"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.

Excommunicate This!! The Misogyny Running Wild Rant

    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.

Eight Years of Insanity: Bush, Israel and The Slow Destruction of Palestine

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.

The Throwin' Off The Shackles Rave: First Kosovo, Now The World

Yesterday was a great day for all those of us who truly value freedom and strongly believe in the right to self-determination. The people of Kosovo are finally free. And they definitely deserve their independence and their freedom from Serb domination and oppression. Simply put, they wanted their own country and, therefore, they deserve their own country.

And, hey, you know it's a rare day indeed when I applaud a decision by George W. Bush, but, after his quick recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation yesterday, he simply must be praised... even by the likes of me. And, no, I'm not being sarcastic here.

Bush, The Veto and The Little People: The WPE Rant

Would you go after children, I mean really go after them in a vicious heartless sort of way, just to win a campaign? Because that's exactly what Bush has just done. As you're probably already well aware by now, Bush, for some years now, has been running an aggressive, some would say ruthless, campaign for the title of Worst President Ever (WPE). It's true, sometimes he does blow it by showing tiny amounts of concern or even regret - no, regret is too strong a word - about the nearly-4000 dead American soldiers in Iraq, but no one can deny that he's mastered the whole aura of indifference when it comes to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead and the destruction of their country. And, really, you have to admit he's run a brilliant campaign when you consider not only the debacle in Iraq, but also other things such as Katrina, the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay, his passionate defense of torture, his massive budget deficits, etc, etc. But going after poor sick kids like he's doing now, well that's truly a masterstroke. I really don't see how he could possibly lose after this.

Touching The Untouchables #8: Mandela

Ok, I know what you're thinking: "This guy isn't really going to rant about Mandela, at least not THE Nelson Mandela. The same Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison and inspired his country and the world in the fight against apartheid. There's just no way he has the nerve or the audacity to attack one of the greatest men of the past century. One of the greatest, most dignified, most inspiring people in world history". Well, maybe I do, maybe I don't.

Beyond Insignificant: The Blatantly Insignificant Others Rant

It just doesn't get much more blatant than this! Usually you have to compare your Insignificant Others to your Significant Beloveds in general comparative terms, it's a rare chance indeed to be able to compare their relative value in real time. In fact, I do believe this is what scientists would call absolute proof of a hypothesis. But this is exciting for more reasons than that. I mean, how often do you get a chance to see the lives of a group of people treated with such complete and utter disdain, contempt and indifference right before your very eyes as you sit and watch the news?

Insignificant Others: The Value of Human Life Rant

Westerners are killed and it's a tragedy, non-Westerners are killed and it's a minor item. It goes on and on like this. It drives me crazy! While watching the news this morning I was once again completely struck by the different value put on Western lives compared to those of The Insignificant Others. I mean, I notice it just about every single day, but today was pretty extreme.

The Asinine Situation Rant (Ten Thousand Palestinians Rotting Away In Israeli Jails)

Last night I watched Avi's fourth show on CBC (The Big Picture with Avi Lewis Part 4 - Hot House), which was about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and, more specifically, at least as a starting point, the Palestinian leaders in Israeli jails. It was, as you'd imagine, a fiery debate, the most intense of the four shows so far. Avi said at the outset that if you already have a fixed perception then you'll simply see what you already know, but I couldn't help being unable to see past the fact that there are 10,000 Palestinians wasting away in Israeli prisons for supposed crimes against Israel, but no Israelis in Palestinian jails serving time for crimes committed against Palestinians - even though far more innocent Palestinians have been killed over the years than Israelis. Like everything else in this conflict it's a ridiculously unfair, unjust and unbelievable reality. Once you reject the silly notion that Palestinians killing Israelis is "terrorism" while Israelis killing Palestinians is not, you're left with the pretty asinine situation of 10,000 Palestinians in jail, while all the Israeli killers walk free, often right into the highest posts of government.

The Blame The Victims Rant (Up with the strong, down with the weak)

I'd like to ask one simple question: Just what kind of country are we? What kind of people are we? And I'm not just talking about Canada and Canadians, but the whole Western world. Do we really see ourselves as the champions of the strong over the weak? Are we really for the oppressors rather than the oppressed? The colonizers rather than the colonized?

Yes, I'm at least partly referring to Israel and their treatment of the Palestinians (and at times the Lebanese as well), but I'm also talking about many other conflicts around the world. It seems that we now, in almost all cases, side with those in power; that is, those doing the most killing, oppressing and terrorizing; those committing the worst war crimes and human rights abuses. And when I say "we" I, of course, mean the "we" represented by our governments and the majority of our media.

Aside from the Darfur conflict in Sudan, it seems we've taken sides AGAINST the weak, the oppressed, the downtrodden and the victimized in just about every conflict and struggle around the globe in recent years; AGAINST people who are only fighting for that which we all take for granted and accept as our inherent rights. So, seriously, what the hell's wrong with us? That's what I want to know.

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