Last week, in honor of Canada Day, I decided to whip off a list of The Top Ten Reasons We Here in The Great White North Should Be Both Proud and Ashamed of Being Canadian.
However, I soon realized that it wasn't something that could simply be whipped off in a few minutes, so I decided to take a few more days to think about it and here, finally, is my official list of the top ten things I love and hate about this country:
"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.
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.
Rightwing-Dominated, Hypocritical and Riddled With Double Standards
Why is it that a nation such as Canada - with its largely liberal to left-of-center population - must endure, year in and year out, such a right-wing national media? In America conservatives complain about "the liberal media bias", but here in Canada we have exactly the opposite problem. And, unlike in America, our problem actually exists.
You want to watch something that'll get you thinking? Well, then check out this short 7-minute film by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein about Naomi's new book "The Shock Doctrine" and learn all about "disaster capitalism" and its greatest proponent, that nasty Milton Friedman, friend and advisor to Thatcher, Reagan and, yes, even Pinochet.