Nov 082012
 

Betsy Ross Flag 168x100Many Canadians grew up considering the United States, despite its many faults, as a nation to admire. It was the first nation created solely and explicitly to protect the individual rights of its citizens. It was the first nation to have a written constitution to limit the powers of its government and as a result, was the most prosperous nation this planet has ever seen. That is quickly coming to an end. There is a parasitic rot spreading rapidly throughout the US. It is the rot of envy, of greed, of wanting something for nothing at the expense of your neighbour (neighbor), and it is embodied in the person of Barack Obama, The Great Destroyer.

When Obama was elected for the first time in 2008 he was unknown, even to most Democrats, and as such the American people could have been forgiven their mistake. But having endured four years of crippling debt, massive unemployment, a weakened position amongst the world community and an economy all but in ruins there is no forgiving his reelection. He was reelected with deliberate intent with full knowledge of the damage he can cause.

The United States as many of us had come to know it, a noble country, vibrant and dynamic, an economic powerhouse, a country built on freedom and individual rights, a benevolent super-power, has ceased to exist. It is now just one amongst many countries whose people seek handouts and demand entitlements they have no right to. It has blended into a morass of socialist nations whose governments treat their people with disdain and contempt. It has lost its center, its identity as a unique nation among nations. It is experiencing its decline and the world will be forever poorer for its inevitable fall.

Words like “live free or die”, the motto of the State of New Hampshire, Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death”, Francis Scott Key’s “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” are now mere bromides repeated as by rote by adults and school children alike who have no implicit understanding of what those words mean.

It saddens me to think as we approach Remembrance Day, Veteran’s Day in the United States, that the very concept of freedom is quickly being lost. Perhaps one day we can regain our sanity and rekindle the fire that is freedom, individual rights, honesty, integrity, productiveness, creativity, common sense, and maturity.

Perhaps one day we can look back at the envious, greedy, childish society we live in today and shake our heads and ask ourselves how could we ever have sunk to such depths? How could we have let such an idea as freedom escape our grasp?

 

Nov 082012
 

Obama_Romney_168x100I don’t claim to understand the American political system. It is quite complex and has actually changed several times over the years, but in general it goes like this:

The United States of America, contrary to what most people believe, (including many Americans) is not a democracy – it is a republic – a federation of states. Each state may be called democratic, if by democratic we mean that it elects its representatives in each state legislature and each state government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.

The US federal government on the other hand is elected by the states themselves and not by the popular vote of the nation as a whole. So the US is a mixture of a democratically elected House of Representatives, a State-appointed Senate, and a President elected by the States with each State having selected its electors by popular vote within each State, the only exceptions being Maine and Nebraska.

It is the Presidential election system of winner-take-all based on a plurality of votes in each state which keeps out smaller parties who would have to demonstrate a very broad appeal to be able to command the ballots of a majority of the electorate. Hence we have two historical parties develop over the years to dominate the system; the Republicans and the Democrats.

Try as they might, smaller parties like Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Party or Jill Stein’s Green Party face a Herculean task of pushing out either the Democrats or Republicans to take first place and get any electors in the Electoral College.

Write-in candidates like a Green Ralph Nader or a quasi-Libertarian Ross Perot didn’t stand a chance with the winner-take-all system of electoral votes. Consider that Ross Perot, in the 1992 election received 18.9% of the popular vote, almost 20 million votes but not one Electoral College vote.

Running for the House of Representatives or the Senate is somewhat different for independents and several have been elected to these Houses but the Presidency will probably be forever beyond the grasp of any third party.

Thus, Americans are left with two parties to dominate the political scene for the foreseeable future.

The differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the US are much starker than the differences we see here in Canada between the Liberals and the Conservatives. In fact, this election has made me consider the duality of voters in the US and to a similar extent here in Canada.

With a large degree of generalization I would say that these are the two types of voters.

One is a producer; the other a parasite or moocher.

One has personal integrity; the other is willing to sell his soul to the highest bidder.

One asks no one to sacrifice himself to him; the other demands others sacrifice themselves to him.

One has pride in accomplishment; the other takes pride in destruction.

One is peaceful; the other violent.

One is patriotic; the other wishes to destroy the state.

One tells the truth; the other lies.

One is willing to listen to the argument of the other person; the other has no time for debate.

I leave it up to you to decide which of these would vote Republican and which would vote Democrat.

I’m sure there were both liberals and conservatives who placed themselves on the side of the peaceful, productive, truthful, patriotic, creators and thought that their opponents were on the other side. In fact there is some truth to that. There are people from both sides of the aisle who could be said to fit one description or another. There are no doubt Democrats who believe they are genuinely truthful, productive and patriotic as there are Republicans who are truthful, productive and patriotic.

That is the problem the US is having; not necessarily with a two party system, but with having each party represents only one aspect of a complete truth.

The Democrats are considered to be the defenders of individual liberties such as the right of a woman to choose the destiny of her own body, the right of gay people to enter into consensual relationships and marriages (If I can use that term), the right to consume mind altering drugs, the right to behave in ways not conforming to tradition.

The Republicans are considered to be the defender of economic and property rights, the right to self-defense and to bear arms, the right to own and keep property, the right to treat one’s home as one’s castle, the right to create and amass wealth, the right to trade freely with others.

But each Party has its list of faults. The Democrats are seen to be destroyers of business, wealth re distributors, protectionist, squanderers of the public purse, and pacifists. The Republicans are seen to be war mongers who are anti-gay, anti-women, against personal liberties and any aberrant yet peaceful behaviour such as consuming mind-altering drugs.

In general these observations are accurate. And yet while the US has had the Democratic Party control both Houses and the Presidency for the first two years of Obama and the Senate and the Presidency for the last four years, the war on drugs has escalated and they are still in Afghanistan and have active military operations throughout the world. When the Republicans were in power we saw a massive increase in regulations and government spending and debt.

It seems that regardless of which Party achieves power Americans are doomed to see the steady erosion of both personal and economic rights and liberties. I don’t believe anyone can say with absolute certainty that a Romney Presidency would be any better than an Obama Presidency; although personally I believe Obama to be the absolute worst President our neighbour has had the misfortune to endure.

I can say this with certainty. Unless one or both parties begins to adopt the perceived positive policies of their opposing Party the United States is doomed to fail as a nation.

Oct 042012
 
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser

When Saudi nationals perpetrated the September 11th attacks in the United States it did not go unnoticed that there was dancing in the streets in many Muslim nations. It is not a secret that millions of Muslims around the world and even those living in Western countries despise Western values and refuse to integrate into the free and civilized world.

Even today we have prominent American and Canadian Muslim organizations and leaders who are in league with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabi Mullahs of Saudi Arabia and are working tirelessly to destroy the West and every good it stands for.

Not all Muslims are against freedom and capitalism. Not all Muslims are our enemy.  But where are these Muslims? Why don’t we hear from them? For the celebrity few who do speak out, like Ayan Hirsi Ali, or Sam Solomon there are death threats and intimidation. Many keep silent for fear of retribution from the greater Muslim community.

I was invited by Salim Mansur, professor of Political Science at Western University and a frequent quest on our show, to attend and video the September 30th launch of a new voice for the many Muslims in Canada who have either remained silent, or who have spoken out with nobody willing to listen to them. The new organization is called Muslims Facing Tomorrow. Salim Mansur is the Vice President of MFT while activist and author Raheel Raza is the President.

At the meeting journalist and television host Christine Williams spoke and the keynote address was delivered by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, ex-USA Navy Seal Lt. Commander and Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).

What I heard at that event is precisely what I had been longing to hear from an organization of Muslims; a call to reject all violence, to embrace Western values and freedoms, including the freedom to offend as with The Innocence of Muslims video trailer.

I did not hear a single note of reticence in their condemnation of those Muslims calling for the curtailment of free speech or any other individual right protected by both the US and Canadian Constitutions. In fact, during the question period one man stood up, gave his name and declared that he was a Muslim apostate and suggested that the crowd give up their belief in superstition. There were no gasps of shock at such an admission, in fact a few people even applauded.

If such a man can stand up in a crowd of about 160 Muslims (by my count) and declare his apostasy without fear then I knew I was in the right room.

While ideas matter it is not ideas which kill people it is people who kill people and even though there are many tenets of what many have come to understand as Islam which are antithetical to peace, freedom and justice it is not the notion of Islam which kills. It is individual Muslims who kill. Those who espouse evil should be routed out as evil and likewise those who espouse freedom and peace should be lauded for their courage to do so.

I have wrestled with the apparent contradiction of what I understand to be Islam and the individual actions of Muslims. That evening I listened as speaker after speaker affirmed that there are many types of Islam. There are Muslims who, much as many Christians do, pick and choose those things attributed to Muhammad in the Koran. Dr. Jasser outright rejected the notion, for example, that Muhammad consummated a marriage to nine year old Aisha. He simply does not believe it. He rejected the call to kill Infidels or Jews regardless of what it says in the Koran. We have seen this before in Christianity as many choose to reject those aspects of the Bible which are inconsistent with civilization and have relegated such passage to history and myth. This may be how a religion reforms itself.

As if in answer to my own thoughts Dr. Jasser also addressed the Muslim notion of al-Taqiyya. He was asked by conservative blogger Dr. Roy Eappen; ‘How does one know that they are not being hoodwinked by moderate Muslims?’ He said that putting his position on the public record and doing it consistently through word and action should be enough to convince people of his sincerity.

When a Muslim stands up publicly to denounce anti-Semitism, misogyny, violence, homophobia, arranged marriages to six year olds and acts consistently to show that he is sincere what more do we need to know to accept the fact that Islam to him is completely different than it is to the Osama-bin Ladens and Wahhabis of the world?

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #270, October 4, 2012.)

Jun 142012
 

When the “war on poverty” first began after the Second World War the intentions of those involved were said to have been good. But since all of the data collected since then has quite clearly demonstrated that every single intervention by government to combat poverty has created more poor, more illegitimate children, more ghettos, more unemployment, and more crime, one can only conclude that the efforts of today’s politicians to combat poverty are not based on good intentions.  Their welfare schemes and wealth redistribution efforts can only be described as willful, deliberate, methodical, cold-hearted, immoral, and evil. In the face of overwhelming evidence that social welfare programs, minimum wage laws, regulations, licenses, biases in favour of closed union shops, and social housing ghettos have had the exact opposite consequences than those they have purported it is abundantly clear that the politicians have ulterior motives.

As an example let’s look at Regent Park in Toronto, the home to the gang members involved in the recent Eaton Centre murders. This project was built in the 1940s as a government social housing experiment and at 69 acres is the largest of its kind in the country. It involved the demolishing of the center of the neighborhood called Cabbagetown and the erecting of cookie cutter apartment complexes where the poor could pay whatever they were able. It is currently run by Toronto Community Housing and has become an enclave of economic refugees who are corralled together in what has become a ghetto of crime and poverty where the residents have very little hope of ever getting out.

One of the inherent problems of concentrating the poor together is that when everyone you know is poor; your friends, classmates, neighbours, friends of friends there are no role models to emulate to get out of poverty. There is no one to teach them the personal habits necessary to prosper.  If all you know is poverty then that is all you can come to expect.  The result is despair.

This government-created problem can be solved by allowing the tenants of these apartments to buy their units outright. Home ownership leads to pride of ownership. It allows them to have equity and capital which can then be leveraged to their economic advantage.

It should not go unnoticed that the representative politicians for Regent Park are from the extreme left of the political spectrum. Locally there is Pam McConnell of the NDP, provincially Glen Murray of the McGuinty Liberals, and federally Bob Rae – one time NDP Premier of the province and now the interim leader of the federal Liberals – is the MP for the area. . It should be obvious that they have no intention in doing anything to correct the problem of Regent Park. It can also be easily surmised that these politicians need this society of victims to hold up as motive for their wealth redistribution schemes.

Let’s leave Regent Park and look at the broader picture of growing up in today’s world where many of the adults in positions of responsibility over children have either immoral or amoral ideas about how one should live their lives.

This week we saw the speech of David McCullough, Jr. at the commencement ceremonies of Wellesley High School in Massachusetts go viral and hit the media talk shows. The speech admonished the graduates for being coddled by their parents and too self-centred. Not one pundit had anything bad to say about the speech. Even though, to me the speech is a prime example of what not to say to any child.

These are Mr. McConnell’s closing remarks:

“Exercise free will and creative independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion and those who will follow them, and then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Not one radio pundit could correctly identify that it is this instruction to sacrifice yourself to the service of others which is at the root cause of all of our problems, all of them.  Altruism is the belief that your life is not your own and that you should devote it to the service of others.  This goes against the very nature of an individual human being who knows with every fiber of that being that his life is his own and that no one else has claim to it.

But the philosophy of altruism is drilled into children today from their parents, teachers, politicians, and from the pulpit. With such positively revolting guidance it is no wonder that youth of today despair.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #254, June 14, 2012)

Mar 082012
 

Stockholm SyndromeLast week the Fraser Institute released a ranking of the schools in Ontario based on the scores each school received from the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

The EQAO is an arm’s-length Crown agency of the Government of Ontario instituted under the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris in 1996.  Its mandate is to conduct province-wide tests at key points in every student’s primary, junior and secondary education and report the results to educators, parents and the public.  The question on EQAO’s tests are developed by Ontario educators and linked directly to the learning expectations in The Ontario Curriculum. The EQAO has an annual budget of approximately $33 million.

When I was a trustee on the London Board of Education I remember the reaction of the teachers, administrators, trustees and unions to this form of standardized testing. They were opposed to it.  But not opposed on any solid educational grounds.  They opposed it purely on partisan political grounds.  The memory of the hatred the teachers unions had for the Mike Harris years is still seared into the minds of many today.  That was a time when the common pronunciation of the word “harASSment” was changed to “HARisment” to reflect the harASSment the teachers felt they were being subjected to by the HARRIS govt.

Every time the EQAO scores are released we see the same teachers and administrators line up to condemn the results mainly because of the sense of effrontery they feel at having their profession assessed by the government.

And no wonder.  The results (although I have to admit many failings in the validity and reliability of the testing) have always shown how poorly the public education system is at achieving the results mandated by their own curriculum.  And while the nature of the curriculum is a topic for another day, suffice it to say that it is a failure in itself; a failure to teach the necessary literacy and numeracy skills to proceed to the next stage in their lives.

The ranking of school scores is always frowned upon because it reveals something of the education system which teachers and boards would like to ignore.  First, areas of lower social demographics or immigration do poorer than schools that have children from more affluent and established families, and second, that if these factors are accounted for what is revealed is the poor teaching ability of the staff at particular schools.

In London the elementary school which scored the lowest was Sir John A. MacDonald, a school which is in a lower income area of town and has a considerable number of immigrant children. However, these same demographics can be found in many other schools in this city and in the province and these schools scored higher than Sir John A. MacDonald.  In fact almost every school scored higher since “Mac” had a score of zero out of ten.

What I find most interesting is not that a school can perform so poorly on the EQAO tests but that the parents of the children attending this school don’t protest but instead actually praise the teachers and staff at the school.

I believe they are suffering from a form of “Stockholm Syndrome”.

From Wikipedia:

“In psychology, Stockholm Syndrome is an apparently paradoxical psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.

“Stockholm Syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”

Perhaps the most infamous victim who exhibited “Stockholm Syndrome” was  Patty Hearst, kidnapped by the so-called Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. After two months in captivity, she actively took part in a robbery they were orchestrating.

Parents of these poorly scoring schools, in fact most parents who have children in the public education system, a system which graduates many children who are illiterate are incapable of functioning at the same level as say students who graduated in the earlier half of the last century, seem to rally around in defense of the school system whenever it feels threatened by things such as standardized testing.

Why?  They, like a kidnap victim, are presented with little choice.  They are forced to have their children educated in the Ontario Curriculum (whether in public or private schools).  They are forced to pay into the system even if they wish to send their children to another school or home school they are still forced to pay into the public or Catholic education systems.  They feel bewildered at the array of the ever increasing complexity of the curriculum deliberately made so by the teaching profession with the sole purpose of excluding any layman from doing what is actually a rather simple task – teaching.

Left with this feeling of being captured in a system of force they, like Patty Heart actually support the system even when data shows the harm that it is doing to their children.

Here is an excerpt from one parent who had children in Sir John A. Macdonald which aired on the Andy Oudman radio program here in London:

“I have no problem with the education my children have received at Sir John A. MacDonald.  I see remarkable things at that school every day.  The staff are incredible!  Just incredible.  And I’ve seen a lot of teachers. I’ve probably seen a hundred different teachers over the last 12 years and this group of people are a team.  You can feel it when you walk into the front door of that school; the camaraderie, the compassion the care and the excitement for teaching.  They want to see every child succeed, and whether that’s one step ahead or 10 steps ahead, every step ahead is progress for our students regardless of their background, regardless of their ability. That’s what we focus on.

“I’m not a teacher and I know that the foundation they received from Junior Kindergarten to grade eight was exceptional.

“We’ve considered moving not because of the school. We would find a way to get our kids back to the school if we moved out of the area. Mac is an exceptional place.”

This after hearing that her children’s school was ranked 2,689th out of 2,695 elementary schools in the province.

Stockholm Syndrome can be the only explanation for why parents praise a school system which is crippling their children’s minds.

But the education system is not the only area where we see the “Stockholm Syndrome” at work.  It can be found in any area where force is used to, in-effect, victimize or capture the public with no alternatives just as with actual kidnap victims.

When we are told that fire-fighters make over $100,000 a year we don’t hesitate to praise the good work they do, even though the good work they do is done so infrequently and is usually done by unpaid volunteers in countless communities in the country.  The same praise is given to policeman even though the police department has refused to come in under budget year after year.

Our health care system is praised as the best in the world even though it clearly is not.

We have, as a society become a mass of kidnap victims who have become sympathetic towards our captors, repeatedly giving them salary raises, re-electing them to Parliament, and singing the praises of the essential work they provide us even though we somehow know deep down that they are essentially harming us, and leaving us with little or no alternatives.  We either side with them or accept the fact that we are all victims, held captive, by force, every day of our lives.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #240, March 8, 2012)

Mar 012012
 

239 - Gunning for Liberals 168x100Sometimes an event encompasses so many of government’s problems that it becomes a lightning rod for condemnation by just about everyone.

From the National Post:

“Last week, Jessie Sansone of Kitchener, Ont., was arrested inside his children’s school when he arrived to pick them up after class. He was strip searched and thrown in a cell, while his wife was brought into the police station and his children taken by Family and Children’s Services. After several hours, Sansone was suddenly released with apologies, and told the entire ordeal was triggered when his four-year-old daughter’s teacher reported there may have been a gun in Sansone’s home. The basis of this allegation was a picture she’d drawn of her daddy shooting monsters and bad guys. Sansone is not a firearms owner, and the closest thing to a gun the police found after searching his home was a plastic toy.”

The victims in this story are of course Mr. Sansone, his wife, and their children.

The villains? Let’s make a list;

The teacher who upon seeing what must have been a remarkably rendered drawing for a four year old of a toy gun decides to tell the principle of the school of a potential threat to the welfare of the child.

The principal who calls Family and Children’s Services,

Family and Children’s Services who immediately call the police,

The police, who show up to the school in marked cars and uniforms who handcuff Mr. Sansone and take him away in front of children and neighbours to be stripped searched and held for hours,

The Superintendent of Education at the Waterloo Region District School Board, Gregg Bereznick, who defended the actions of his staff saying that educators are “co-parents,”

And Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty who defended the action of the school.

To be clear at the outset, any adult who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child in their care is being mistreated by anyone should report their suspicions.

That being said here is what was wrong with the behaviour of all of the villains I have listed. They are insane. They are nuts. They are lunatics who should not be in the charge of children, arresting people, running school boards, or running a government. That’s my knee-jerk opinion of course. The same opinion held by almost anyone who has heard this story.

A more considered analysis would take the following form:

It is not unlawful for Canadians to own guns, even handguns under special permission. Therefore if a child draws a parent with a gun shooting monsters and bad people then the proper action for the teacher should have been, “That’s nice, dear. I hope he got them all.” Who among us, males especially, as children have not defaced their school work with drawing of tanks, jet planes dropping bombs, zombies and blood covered NAZIS? Of course the older ones among us remember a time when guns were thought of as weapons to defend ourselves and to hunt with. They still are but unfortunately around the late 1960s the liberal revolution of the state education system implemented a systemic program of indoctrination into the pacification of the populace. I remember as a School Board Trustee on the London Board that some Trustees would even correct other Trustees if they referred to the little dots preceding a point in a written document as “bullets.” They were told to call them “fuzzy dots” or something equally as inoffensive.

Such a dangerous philosophy as pacifism has disarmed us and has given many of us adults and our children the incorrect notion that guns, whether long guns or hand guns, are evil and that they should be abolished. Well that is of course wrong. Guns are tools which can defend your life and that of your family. If anything children are to be taught anything about guns it should be on how to use them. People should be allowed to buy and carry handguns. It flows from our basic right to our life that we have a basic right to defend it and there is no better means than a .44 strapped to your hip.

That leads me to the police. They could have stopped this witch hunt in its tracks by telling the principal that a drawing of a gun does not give them probable cause to arrest and strip search anyone. It does not give them cause to enter into anyone’s house and search it. They should have chastised the principal and the Family and Children’s Services personnel and directed them to stop wasting their time. But, unfortunately the police in this country have been led to believe, erroneously that they are the only ones who should be entrusted with guns. They believe, erroneously that they have an exclusive monopoly on their possession and use and that any civilian in possession of one is a danger to their children and the public.

As the police were taking Mr. Sansone into custody Family and Children’s Services were taking the children into their custody. And these are the villains we must watch the closest. While the police eventually let Mr. Sansone go with an apology, these were the words from Alison Scott, the executive director of Family and Children’s Services “We’re still investigating this one,” The parents should move out of town now that Family and Children’s Services have their eyes on their children.

Superintendent of Education, Gregg Bereznick’s comment about how teachers are “co-parents” has perhaps riled up people the most in this sordid affair. An educator definitely acts in loco parentis or in place of the parents as any adult does who is given temporary charge over a child while the parent is away, such as a baby-sitter. But in loco parentis does not mean that an educator can indoctrinate the child in contrast to a parent’s wishes. In loco parentis is restricted by the nature of the relationship between the parent and the adult given temporary charge of the child. In this case a teacher’s responsibility is to teach the child and not attempt to ferret out dirt on the parents so that the state can arrest them. Co-parenting implies an equal responsibility in the upbringing of the child. This is not the case. It doesn’t even come close to the case and any notion that a teacher might have that he or she is a co-parent of their student must be dismissed here and now and once and for all.

The raisson d’etre of the state education system is the political indoctrination of children. This case illustrates that purpose perfectly. My advice to any parent with a child in public school is to get their children out of there as soon as possible. If not, then I would strongly suggest that when your child returns home you ask them about their teachers and what they have learned and that you de-program them. At the very least teach them to be free thinkers and to suspect that anything a teacher tells them to be true is probably incorrect and that they must prove for themselves that it is correct.

Finally, to the biggest villain of them all, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Although if Tim Hudak and the Conservatives, or Andrea Horvath and the New Democrats were in power I would addressing this to them as well because they are three peas in an intellectual pod. Get out of our children’s minds. Stop filling their heads with lies. Abolish the School Boards, put every public school up for sale and let parents have a choice in where they send their children and their tuition. Dismantle this indoctrination machine called the Public Education System and let Ontario children grow up unencumbered by your anti-intellectual, anti-reason, garbage spewed at them every day in the classroom.

(Originally aired on Just Right #239, March 1, 2012)

Feb 162012
 

237 - Interpol 168x100On February 4th a 23 year old Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari posted three tweets on his Twitter account referring to Mohammad.

 “On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

Within hours there were tens of thousands of Twitter responses calling Mr. Kashgari an apostate and a blasphemer and that he should be executed.  A Facebook page was created to call for his execution with over 13,000 people joining it.

Fearing for his life, Kashgari boarded a plane for New Zealand on Sunday.  Unfortunately for him it had a stop-over in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country.  Upon landing he was arrested and repatriated back to Saudi Arabia.  Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpur said Kashgari was detained at the airport “following a request made to us by Interpol” the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities.

Interpol has issued a rather vague statement distancing itself from the case.

 “The assertion that Saudi Arabia used Interpol’s system in this case is wholly misleading and erroneous.

“(Interpol) has not been involved in the case involving a Saudi blogger arrested in Malaysia and   deported to Saudi Arabia. No Interpol channels, its National Central Bureaus in Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh nor its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France were involved at any time in this case.”

It is difficult to determine whether or not Interpol was involved because the statement it released does not answer the question directly.

It says that it is misleading and erroneous that Saudi Arabia used Interpol’s system. Erroneous perhaps but how is it misleading? Did any other Muslim country ask Interpol to red flag Mr. Kashgari’s flight? They don’t say.

Interpol also refers to a “Saudi blogger” which may or may not be Kargashi who is a journalist and not primarily a blogger. There is a lot of evasion and possible misdirection in Interpol’s statement.

On the other hand the Malaysian police have been pretty clear that they arrested the man due to Interpol’s involvement at the request of Saudi Arabia. If this is true then Interpol has a lot to answer for.

Here are some facts regarding Interpol:

It is not a police force. It does not make arrests. It is primarily a central hub of information between national police forces from 190 countries. It collects and relays information on individual criminals and suspects alerting police departments as to their whereabouts. It’s headquartered in Lyon, France and has several offices throughout the world. In Canada it shares offices with the RCMP in Ottawa. Canada’s annual contribution to their budget is $2 million.

According to Interpol’s website it does not involve itself in political or religious matters and follows the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights when determining when to get involved in disseminating information. Part of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights is the right to free speech which is contained in its preamble, and freedom of religion.

Clearly, if Interpol had any involvement in the arrest of this man for simply saying that he did not want to pray for Muhammad, and if Mr. Kashgari gets executed for his beliefs then Interpol should consider itself complicit in his execution. If such is the case, whoever was responsible for passing on to Malaysia the fact that Mr. Kashgari was on the flight to New Zealand must be held personally accountable.

Malaysia should not get off scot-free either. Their extradition of Mr. Kashgari, without any due process, back into the hands of the Saudis is unforgivable. They don’t even have a formal agreement on extradition with Saudi Arabia. Anyone traveling anywhere near Malaysia should take note that if at any time in their past they may have said anything about Islam which might be taken as offense they may end up being executed for it, thanks to Malaysia. Besides Saudi Arabia, a despotic, backward country of homophobes and misogynists which should be ostracized by the civilized world we can now add Malaysia to the list of pariah nations.

As for our own involvement in Interpol I think our government should demand a clearer statement from Interpol regarding this case, and if they find they were involved should seriously consider restricting the information it shares with this organization for fear that innocent Canadian be rounded up for their religious or political views.

To be sure, on the face of it an organization like Interpol which has been around since 1923 may very well play an important role in the capture of real criminals and terrorists but since many of its member nations are predominantly Muslim (including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran) then its commitment to non-involvement in political and religious crimes is suspect.

Feb 022012
 

235 - 12 Angry Men 168x100“Is it proper to compel someone to sit as a juror?”

The issue has come about due to a rather unusual event which took place here in London where 20 people were rounded up in the street and told to appear before a judge the next day as potential jurors.

Here is what happened:

On January 17th, three men were being tried for the serious offenses of assault, forcible confinement, and threats.  It had been over two years since the crimes and this was the third attempt at beginning the proceedings when the judge ran out of jurors having vetted over 130 already.  There was still one vacancy for an alternate juror called a talesman.  Not wishing to see trial delayed any further Justice Kelley Gorman ordered the Middlesex County Sheriff and the London police to round up 20 bystanders off the street and order them to appear in court the next day as potential jurors.

Here are the observations (from the London Free Press) of one of these hapless people, a mister Scott Johnston who likened his experience to bullying.

 “I was walking to my car on a darkened street corner when approached by a woman.  I was asked if I could be spoken to for a minute. I decline and politely indicate am in a hurry.  All of a sudden, out comes a sheriff’s badge pointed towards me and I am told that I “have to speak to her and that I cannot leave.

“At that moment, a uniformed officer who was standing a bit of a distance away walked over to the side of the woman and looked at me but said nothing.  I thought to myself that I have no option but to remain because if I tried to leave there would have been a chase or worse.

“I was asked two questions: Are you a Canadian citizen? Are you over 18? I answered yes. I was then presented with a piece of paper and asked for identification in the form of a driver’s license. I produced it and the sheriff started writing down my name and address information on a clipboard. I was informed I must show up in court the very next morning at 9:30 am for jury duty.”

These 20 people were being rounded up under a little used provision of the Canadian Criminal Code called section 642(1) Summoning other jurors when panel exhausted.  It reads:

 “If a full jury and any alternate jurors considered advisable cannot be provided notwithstanding that the relevant provisions of this Part have been complied with, the court may, at the request of the prosecutor, order the sheriff or other proper officer to summon without delay as many persons, whether qualified jurors or not, as the court directs for the purpose of providing a full jury and alternate jurors.”

When I first asked the question whether or not people should be compelled to sit as jurors I am willing to bet to anyone not familiar with these events that you might find it reasonable to receive a letter in the mail asking you to report in two to three weeks’ time, plenty of time for many of us to put their affairs in order, and report to the courthouse for jury duty.  You might also have expected that you would be given the opportunity to get out of jury duty due to extenuating circumstances.  And you would be right.  This is how it is usually done.  But many of those rounded up had missed trains (as Mr. Johnston had), or work, or had to arrange for baby-sitting, or any other myriad of excuses that 20 people might have had given the order to forget about what you had planned for tomorrow because you are going to court.

This Criminal Code provision, while an obvious attempt to allow for speedy justice, is unjust in itself.  What it does is take innocent people, subject them to force and given no option but to comply regardless of circumstance.

But is jury duty under any circumstances justified?

Consider this quote from Cicero:

“We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.”

By this I take it that the Roman Statesman was acknowledging the fact that in order to be free in a political context there must be laws, and by implication a system of justice.  If we accept this then must we accept to have our rights infringed upon from time to time as a price to pay for the enacting of this system of justice?

On the one hand I would agree that the right to a trial by a jury is a fundamental component of a system of justice.  The alternative would be that for every serious offense you are to be prosecuted by the state and judged by an employee of the state.  To be able to plead your case to a community of peers is a fundamental component of our judicial system.

But must we compel citizens to sit in judgment of us?  I don’t believe so and for the following reason, you are compelling someone to think.

Put yourself in the shoes of those 20 people rounded up.  Section 642(1) states that while it is the judge who gave the order it was at the request of the prosecutor.  So here you are, totally inconvenienced and possibly at great expense sitting in judgment of three people the same prosecutor wants you to find guilty. Do you think that it is possible that out of resentment for the actions of the prosecutor you find in the defendants favour just to spite the prosecutor?  In other words, the compulsion to attend has tainted your ability to think through the facts of the case without bias.

I would contend that only a jury made up of volunteers, properly compensated for their time, is able to properly consider the facts of any court case without bias for or against the accused due to the manner in which they were asked to act as jurors.

There are thousands of eligible citizens in this city willing and able to perform the function of a juror if they were treated with respect, if their rights were not violated, if they were properly requested to attend, if they were given opportunity to decline, and if they were compensated for their time.

Yes, by today’s law you may be able to lead a juror to court but you cannot make him think.  And that after all, is exactly why he is there.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #235, February 2, 2012)

Feb 022012
 

235 - Shafia Family 168x100This week a jury in Kingston, Ontario convicted three people of first degree murder: Afghan immigrant Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their son Hamed Shafia. Dead are Mr. Shafia’s three daughters and his first wife.

While the facts of the case were interesting in their own right, to me the most important feature of the trial was the labeling of the murders as either “honour” killings or simply just another case of domestic violence.

After the verdict was handed down the local talk shows gave considerable air time to a prominent local feminist. During that time she correctly pointed out that “This is about violence against women. This is about power and control.” I would agree with these obvious facts as any would. She then tried to pursued the listeners that there was no comparison between these killings and other common domestic disputes involving a dominating male over a female. Her claim was that any any distinction in culture or religion was irrelevant to the case. To her the fact that a man killed females is all that is of interest to this case and all that should be focused upon.

This is a superficial simplification of what is actually a much more complex affair. Yes, honour killings are typically men murdering their wives and daughters but it is not simply the same as any other domestic violence.

The reason for the crime is what is at issue here, not simply that a man killed another women (ignoring Tooba Yahya’s involvement) or that it is inherent in the male sex to want to dominate and control the female sex, which is a patent falsehood. Many feminists see this as simply a male-female issue ignoring or misidentifying the root cause of this kind of violence, that being the culture, the religion, or the philosophy of the killer. Why does one kill his wife or daughter? That is the question that can’t simply be glossed over with the pat statement that it is a lust for control by a man over women.

The feminist’s argument runs like this: since women are being killed in Canada as well as Islamic countries and since some Christian men have also killed their wives then the issue is not one of religion or culture but one of men and women.

Of course it is true, that domestic violence occurs in Canada to non-immigrants and that Christian men have been know to murder their wives or daughters. What is also true but is being deliberately ignored is that the prevalence for non-Muslim male-female violence in Canada is lower than similar violence in Muslim countries and that the reason non-Muslim men kill their wives or daughters is substantially different than the reason Muslim men kill their wives and daughters.

Shafia Family MurderA man and women get into a fight. Who do you think will come out the survivor? The stronger of the two of course (in most cases.) The fight could be over money, jealousy, housekeeping, what to watch on TV, drunken idiocy or any number of motives. Rare is it that a non-Muslim Canadian will kill his daughter because she went out on a date or chatted with someone on Facebook or didn’t want to wear a particular piece of clothing, or gave birth to a daughter.

Although honour killings are not exclusive to Muslim societies, the fact is that predominantly Muslim societies have a long tradition of treating women as property. Men often, quite literally get away with murder in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia because their tribal cultures, rooted in Islam, has given the authority over women to men.

Canadian Muslim, Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress published an article in the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post on December 7th called “A Man’s Honour Lies Between the Legs of a Woman.” In it he quotes the particular verse in the Koran, verse 4:34, sanctioning the right of a husband to beat his wife:

“Men are in charge of women by right of what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend for maintenance from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard. But those wives from whom you fear arrogance – first advise them; then if they persist, forsake them in bed; and finally, strike them.”

If we cannot acknowledge this part of the Muslim religion as being key to the second-class status Muslim men give women then it will be impossible to move towards true liberation for women in predominantly Muslim societies and Muslim families here in Canada.

Mr. Fatah goes on to say that Sharia law sanctions the stoning of women for adultery. A practice that is continued today in many Muslim countries. He cites Professor Shahrzad Mojab of the University of Toronto, who testified at the Shafia trial that women embody the honour of the men to whom they belong – first fathers and brother, later husbands.

“A woman’s body is considered to be the repository of family honour. Honour crimes are acts of violence committed by male family members against female family members who are held to have brought dishonour onto the family. Cleansing one’s honour or shame is typically handled by the shedding of blood.”

It wasn’t until 9/11 that many Canadians even heard of “honour killings.” But since then our focus has turned, as it has been forced to, to Islam and Muslim culture. Since then our knowledge of this common practice of the ownership of women by Muslim men has increased and we can properly address the situation.

Many of us correctly identify the murders based on the motive of keeping the family’s honour. For prominent feminists to disregard motive in the murder and abuse of women is only prolonging the suffering of these people. To fix a problem you must first properly identify the root cause of it. In the case of honour killings it is the religion and the cultural practices of the men and women who commit the murders. We can’t forget that women also take part in committing these honour killings.

It is ironic that in Canada we have people refusing to call something by its real name when in Muslim countries it is identified for what it is. In Pakistan, for example honour killings are known as “karo kari.” While the Pakistani government is supposed to prosecute these killings as they would any ordinary killing the practice by the police and prosecutes is to often ignore it. In a sense there are some Canadians who are ignoring it as well. Not the crime but the cause.

If we consider the problem of honour killings even further we understand that it is not simply a matter of religion or culture but of social metaphysics. In an article for the Objectivist Newsletter of November, 1962 (vol. 1 no. 11), Nathanial Brandon defined social metaphysics as

“…the psychological syndrome that characterizes an individual who holds the consciousnesses of other men, not objective reality, as his ultimate psycho-epistemological frame-of-reference.”

He explains,

“There is an invisible killer loose in the world. It has claimed more victims than any other disease in history. Yet most of its symptoms are commonly regarded as normal. That is the secret of its deadliness.

“These symptoms may be observed all around one: in the lives of all those who are dominated by an obsessive concern with gaining the approval and avoiding the disapproval of their fellow me.; who lack a self-generated sense of personal identity and who feel themselves to be metaphysical outcasts, cut off from reality; whose first impulse, when confronted with an issue or called upon to pass a judgment, is to ask not “What is true?” but “What do others say is true?”; who have no firm, unyielding concept of existence, reality, facts, as apart from the judgments, beliefs, opinions, feelings of others.”

This defines the perpetrators of honour killings. They seek honour in the approval of others, be it their family, their friends, or their tribe. While this syndrome crosses all religious and cultural spectra it is more prevalent in those countries lacking the history of individual freedom we enjoy here in the West.

It is this syndrome which must be argued against when dealing with the warped sense of honour which would cause a parent to kill a child or a man to kill his wife because of any perceived shame they may have brought them in the eyes of others.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #235, February 2, 2012)

Jan 262012
 

Canadian PassportThere has been a recent controversy surrounding the dual Canadian/French citizenship held by Federal NDP leadership hopeful, Thomas Mulcair. It is thought that to be the leader of a federal party which one day (hopefully not in my life) could propel said leader to the Prime Minister’s Office he should renounce his French citizenship. I would agree.

Historically Mr. Mulcair would not be the first federal leader to possess dual citizenship. Prime Minister John Turner had Canadian and British citizenship. Of course before 1947 there was no such thing having Canadian citizenship per se. We were all British subjects. From 1947 to the early 1980s all Canadian had dual Canadian/British citizenship. After that we achieved the singular Canadian citizenship dropping the British while also accepting the fact that Canadians can possess multiple citizenships.

Most countries, including the United States, accept the fact that a citizen can simultaneously be the citizen of another country. It’s interesting historically to know that 10 US Presidents were also British subjects. Eight of course were born into the British North American Colonies but two were British after independence; Chester Arthur, and Barack Obama. Obama was British and then Kenyan by virtue of his father who was born into Kenya which was a British colony at the time. Obama lost his Kenyan citizenship when he turned 23 as Kenya law prohibits dual citizenship for adults.

Let’s leave citizenship by descent and by birth aside and talk about oaths of allegiance or oaths of citizenship which I believe to be much more to my point. Being born here most of us did not have to take an oath declaring our allegiance to the Queen of Canada but to become a naturalized citizen or to enlist in our military, or to become a member of Parliament one must take an oath swearing loyalty to the Queen.

The Canadian Oath of Citizenship reads as follows:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen o f Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

I contend that anyone taking this oath immediately renounce any allegiance to any other nation, or leader of any other nation. It would be a blatant division of loyalty to swear allegiance to the Queen of Canada and also have, for example, an allegiance to the Republic of the Untied States of America. It would be a contradiction. It would be a lie. To not renounce citizenship in another country would make a mockery of the oath one just swore to become a Canadian citizen, or to enlist in our military, or be a Member of Parliament. It would be like having two spouses. A form of citizenship polygamy. (It has been suggested that such a renunciation would be unnecessary for citizens from other Commonwealth nations as they too are subjects of the same Sovereign. Such a distinction I will leave for the time being.)

Upon taking this oath I would suggest that anyone possessing prior citizenship in other nations publicly renounce the same and hand over any passports to that country. Not to do so would suggest that the oath was simply a formality.

Further I would suggest that any Canadian citizen, whether Canadian by birth or by blood who actively seeks the citizenship of another nation, and in doing so swears and oath to that nation, must lose his Canadian citizenship. Allegiances cannot be divided. You either swear allegiance to one country or another. You can’t have it both ways.

In 2005 our former Governor General, Michelle Jean was sworn into that office. Two days before that very swearing in which made her Commander in Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces she renounced her French citizenship. This was the right thing to do and I think she set an example for anyone wishing to actively participate in elected federal politics and our military.

Interestingly, France prohibits its citizens from participating in any foreign military or government but in Michelle Jean’s case the French Embassy in Ottawa assured her that they would make an exception in her case. And why not? To have a French citizen as Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces would have been quite the bloodless coup.

Besides being deceitful, dual citizenship, if by choice, has been a major financial burden on Canada as many take advantage of the socialist programs Canada has to offer and become citizens of convenience. Often this scheme involves fraud as in the case of hundreds of Lebanese Canadians who received permanent resident status without having left their home country. This particular case1 centered around a man, one Ahmad, El-Akhal, who obtained2 citizenship for hundreds from the Middle East and at the same time receiving hundreds of thousand of dollars from the federal Government in the form of benefits and tax refunds.

Such scams could be eliminated by requiring Canadians applying for citizenship under our naturalization rules to report to Canadian officials on a regular basis and to provide evidence of their residency. Relinquishing their foreign passports upon taking the oath of Citizenship would also dramatically reduce these con artists who only want Canadian citizenship as a means of having a safe-haven should things turn sour in their real homelands. Much as it did in July of 2006 when Canada evacuated thousands of Canadian citizens from Lebanon costing us $85 Million. While, to be sure some of these citizens were only in Lebanon on holiday, many were permanent residents there and were using their Canadian citizenship to get away from the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel.

An oath once meant something. It meant a person’s honour was on the line should the oath be broken. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that today such a thing as swearing an oath has become a simple formality to be performed and then forgotten. Or worse, to be performed and laughed at as the one taking the oath knows full well that he has no intention of keeping his pledge of fealty to Queen and country.

To break an oath of allegiance to a country should be considered the same as breaking of a contract and if a naturalized citizen, a member of our military, a Member of Parliament or any other who has taken such an oath be found to be working for another country’s government or against Canada by breaking its laws, which is a part of the oath, then the proper course of action for the government would be to rescind Canadian citizenship or, in the case of non-naturalized citizens, remove them from the military or from public office.

  1. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/on/news-nouvelles/2011/11-01-06-gta-rgt-ip-eng.htm

  2. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/on/news-nouvelles/2011/11-12-05-gta-rgt-ip-eng.htm

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #234, January 26, 2012)