One thing I think everyone can agree on is the fact that this past decade has had more than its fair share of dicks. While almost everyone can agree on the dickishness of certain slimy characters out there, certain others inexplicably have their passionate defenders.
To my mind, however, over the past ten years quintessential dickishness has been defined by a select few.
So here it is, my list of the Biggest Dicks of The Decade:
"Morality is doing what is right, regardless what we are told. Religious dogma is doing what we are told, no matter what is right."
- Elka Enola
Whatever you may think of his days in power, there's really no denying that since leaving office back in 1981 Jimmy Carter has become perhaps the greatest ex-president in American history. And now he's taken one more, very significant, step towards wrapping up that title once and for all: He's just quit his church of more than 60 years out of disgust at their sexist, bigoted views concerning women.
"The theory of the free press is not that the truth will be presented completely or perfectly in any one instance, but that the truth will emerge from free discussion"
- Walter Lippman (1889 - 1974)
A rather frightening and totally ridiculous reality, one that has been with us for many years now, is currently in the process of becoming even worse, at least down in the United States. This reality - the labeling of all criticism of Israel as "anti-Semitic" - threatens not only free speech and open debate, but the search for peace in the Middle East itself. Check out this article by Paul Craig Roberts and see if you don't agree: "The End of Free Speech? Criminalizing Criticism of Israel".
Roberts, it should be noted, is no left-wing radical. He's the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and he's even referred to as the "Father of Reaganomics".
We're all well aware of this idea, put forward by the pro-Israel lobby and much of the media, that any sort of criticism of Israel, no matter how deserving, is indicative of one thing and one thing only: anti-Semitism. However, it doesn't take a genius to see this argument for what it really is: A load of nonsensical bullshit and highly irrational buffoonery.
- "There's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail." - Oct. 4, 2001. George W. Bush, in Washington, D.C., remarking on a back-to-work plan after 9-11, though, of course, he just as easily could have been talking about his entire presidency.
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.
Below you'll find a link to a must-read article by Carel Moiseiwitsch and Gordon Murray concerning the extremely biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by all CanWest-owned newspapers (such as The Vancouver Sun, The Vancouver Province, The National Post, to name just three of CanWest's numerous papers across Canada).
The most telling thing in this whole article is the incredibly honest quote from CanWest founder, Israel "Izzy" Asper:
“In all our newspapers, including the National Post, we have a very pro-Israel position….We are the strongest supporter of Israel in Canada.”
It's been a pretty inspiring few days this past week or so, what with Barack Obama wrapping up the nomination for the Democratic Party and all. And then Hillary Clinton finally - four days after it was over and in probably the best speech of her entire campaign - conceding defeat and vowing to do everything she can to help Obama win the White House. Hers, like Obama's, has been a historic and inspirational run and hopefully someday soon we'll see a woman as president. Just not this time. This time the more inspirational candidate won.
Like Stephen Lewis speaking some truth about the HIV/AIDS catastrophe in Africa, John Dugard, U.N. human rights "special rapporteur", doesn't shy away from telling it like it is when it comes to the Israeli treatment, and illegal collective punishment, of the Palestinians... even when it's clearly something some (i.e. Israel and America) do not want to hear. Dugard may not have experienced it himself, but he certainly knows mistreatment of one group by another when he sees it, he is from South Africa after all.
It was great to learn this past week that homophobia actually has a good productive side. And it was truly great to see some fundamentalist freaks coming together in a show of solidarity. A solidarity of hatred, that is. I'm talking, of course, about the coming together in common cause of Jewish, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists in Jerusalem earlier this week to oppose that city's Gay Pride March. I mean, isn't it wonderful to see people putting their hatred aside to unite for the purposes of... er... hatred? Hatred of others though, rather than of each other. How special.
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.