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Dear Rocket Surgeons (A Climate Change Memo)

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m afraid that you may have fallen victim to LCD Syndrome (Lowest Common Denominator). It seems that many of you have concluded that you have disproved any suggestion of climate change by licking your doorknobs and getting your tongues stuck. Yes, it is cold in many parts of the world. However, I regret that I have to be the one to tell you that your tongue is not stuck to the doorknob for the purposes of science, but simply out of stupidity. 

You see, my friends, global warming is not a myth – it’s a dumbed-down concept for the masses. Climate change, on the other hand, is very real. The issue is not that human action is making the globe warmer. We have a great deal of evidence that it is not, in fact. So good on ya for noticing. But global climates are becoming increasingly erratic and it seems rather obvious that this is -at least in part – the result of human activity. 

Again, I’m sorry that I had to be the one to tell you this. I don’t feel good about the fact that I – someone who dropped out of high school chemistry and has gleaned his knowledge primarily from a first year university class entitled State of the Earth’s Environment: Contemporary Issues – would have to explain this to you. But alas, I’m all you have.

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Filed under: Oh, Canada

The Jihadist Next Door

I’ve begun this post about a dozen times, before inevitably turning back with the knowledge that the response from the internet’s lowest-hanging knuckles would be too loud to make the post worthwhile.

In a recent missive on his website, Ezra Levant chastises the Canadian Jewish Congress and CEO Bernie Farber, in particular, for not embracing those elements of the intolerant right – Kate McMillan, Kathy Shaidle, et al – who he describes as “Jew-loving Christian Zionists.” I felt compelled to respond.

The litmus test for intolerance is rather straightforward for most people, including myself. If you suggest that “A-rabs” are “violent retards” or refer to the poor as “stupids and parasitical” as Shaidle has, for example; or if you’re someone who draws numbers on their arm to look like a concentration camp tattoo as a “prank” as McMillan did, you should expect to be branded intolerant.

Intolerance is no longer measured in this country by which groups you are intolerant towards. It was not that long ago that discrimination against Jews was acceptable; more recently that one could discriminate against Aboriginals; and we are only finally emerging as a nation in which it is no longer socially acceptable to refer to people as fags and queers. Too many Conservatives in this country seem convinced that so long as they rationalize their intolerance – against Muslims by claiming defence of human rights or opposition to terrorism; against Quebecers on the basis of the attention they receive from the federal government; against homosexuals on the basis of biblical teachings; or even against the poor by rationalizing that their situation is of their own making – it is a principled position and not bigotry.

For most Jews, racism is not the abstract concept that it is for many. Growing up, we were taught about the Holocaust, Russian pogroms, the Christian Crusades and countless other organized acts of mass anti-Semitism. My classmates and I were regularly subject to swastikas painted on our school, on our places of worship, our cemeteries and occasionally our homes. We received bomb threats in those same places. We have statistically gravitated towards liberal political parties because of the belief – as a community that has been targeted or ignored by its government on numerous occasions – that cultural relativism (the notion that all cultures are equally valid) is our best hope for security and prosperity.

At the same time, many (if not most) Conservatives reject the notion of cultural relativism/multiculturalism. They point to multiculturalism as a primary cause of moral decay and – arguing the logical extreme – suggest that cultural relativism is dangerous because it would imply that totalitarian regimes like the Taliban or Nazi Germany are equal to modern Western culture. Now this is obviously not the case, but by arguing the logical extreme it is easy to discredit any philosophy. There is certainly room within cultural relativism to argue that any culture that would seek to bring another to an end must be stopped.

For minority communities for whom the threat of discrimination is real, cultural relativism is more than a belief, it is an imperative. As soon as we grant license to people to rank religions or cultures, there is no reason to believe that we won’t end up the loser.

Now to get back to Ezra’s suggestion that the CJC should embrace “Jew-loving Christian Zionists” like McMillan and Shaidle… Over the last decade, Christian Zionist organizations in North America have grown louder and stronger. They are amongst the most vehement supporters of Israeli government policies, and Kate and Kathy are no exception to that rule. They are embraced by many elements of the Jewish community as a necessary coalition. Though I certainly count myself as a supporter of Israel, I have personally never been comfortable embracing these organizations as I am largely suspect of their support for Zionism.

There are many Christian Zionists who I hold in the highest regard and whose support I am proud and grateful to have. I would count Warren Kinsella as one of the more vocal and public members of this group, there are simply too many to name. I am proud to have their support because I don’t believe there are any strings attached to their support. I cannot speak to the motivation behind Shaidle’s support or McMillan’s. What I can say is that significant elements of the Christian Zionist movement support Israel based on the belief that in order to achieve the Second Coming of Jesus, it is necessary to unify Jewry in Israel. What seldom gets mentioned is that in the End of Days that they are working towards achieving, non-believers (which includes Jews) will not be spared.

I am also fearful that many of those on the right that offer their unconditional, blind support for Israel do so out of a hatred for Arabs and Muslims more that a respect for Israeli sovereignty and security. I suspect that the basis for their support is based primarily on their view of Islam as an inherently radical theology that is at war with western society.

Islamophobia is generally masked by its practitioners behind a guise of a rejection of Islam’s totalitarian nature. They argue that Muslims are on a jihad and will not be satisfied until the whole world accepts Shariah Law. I will not argue that there aren’t elements of Islam that feel that way, or even that there aren’t Muslim Canadians that feel that way. Whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Catholic or atheist, there are many people in this country who support radical doctrines that are anathema to modern Canadian sensibilities.

There are those in this country that are engaged in a clear jihad. They have admitted boldly and frankly that they are opposed to the liberal sensibilities of western society, which in their opinion, have led to the corruption of our moral fibre. They believe that our society should be governed more closely according to ancient biblical law and seek to limit the freedoms and liberties of many groups – including a woman’s right to choose and the right of gays to marry. They see modern society as being under siege by “militant secularism” and see it as their job to fight back. Of course this is the predominantly Christian right that has expressed these views, not radical Islam. I don’t know that there’s a better way to describe this than a holy war.

I would like to stress that I know there to be Canadians of all faiths – the majority of religious Canadians, in fact – who have found a way to express their faith in a positive and constructive way (in charity, in living righteously) that do not believe it is their place to force their religious views on me or anyone else. They understand that the choices they have made are for what is right for them, and everyone must have the right to make the choice for themselves. That is the essence of cultural relativism – the notion that your decision to devoutly practice Catholicism or Lutheranism or Hinduism is no more or less valid than someone else’s decision to live an entirely secular life.

Just for the record, I do believe in God – insofar as we define God as being some sort of order to the universe – though I am not especially observant. I believe that we each find our own way to express our belief, be that through going to church every week or in some other way.

To welcome the endorsement of folks like Kathy Shaidle and Kate McMillan is to endorse their beliefs. Frankly, they preach the same hatred that radical Islam preaches without the radical violence. The hatred is the problem, the violence only a manifestation of it. My goal as a Jew, as a Liberal and as a cultural relativist is to support an environment that allows each of us to celebrate believe and live as we do  without fear of persecution. Shaidle and McMillan are preaching an intolerance that makes that impossible.

UPDATE: I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as I am to learn that blazingcatfur thinks I’m an idiot. My feelings are hurt, but I’ll trudge on.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

The Locals Will Love This

“At the university level, it’s even worse. We have illiterates of the second language.” – Conservative MP Daniel Petit. 

This is sure to curry favor with the locals in Quebec come the next election. I enjoy that even Conservative MPs from Quebec compare Quebec unfavorably to Alberta. I suppose when Harper gave up on Quebec, his MPs did the same.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

Boys Becoming Men. Men Becoming Wolves.

I know it’s a poor decision to engage the tin foil hat brigade. But come on…! No-Libs.com was brought to the world’s attention by Burke NewsRot. The site is the manna from heaven that Canadians have long been waiting for – a cultural centrepiece that brings together videos of Conservative SO-31s bashing Kinsella and photos of half-naked women (to be fair, Sun Media really pioneered the convergence of Conservative propaganda and half-naked women, but I digress).

Today, the site calls the Canadian Jewish Congress (among many others) on the carpet for not admonishing NBC’s 30 Rock for a music video included in one of their episodes entitled Werewolf Bar Mitzvah. The author seems to find evidence of substantial anti-Semitism. To no great surprise, he clearly has no idea what he’s talking about.

Here, the explanation of the concept from one of the show’s Executive Producers, Robert Carlock, courtesy the New York Times:

Robert Carlock, an executive producer of “30 Rock,” said he came up with the idea as the writers mulled the breakup of the marriage of Tracy, played by the comedian Tracy Morgan. In the box of detritus that his wife delivers to him is the gold record from his recording of “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.”

Cut to the video — a “Thriller”-like montage of badly made-up werewolves sporting lame disco moves while celebrating a coming-of-age ceremony: “Boys becoming men. Men becoming wolves.”

Tracy Jordan, the character played by SNL alum Tracy Morgan, is a buffoon. That’s the schtick. Among his other accomplishments are:

  • Running down the 405 in his underwear while repeatedly shouting “I am a Jedi!”
  • Trying to stab talk show host Conan O’Brien and claiming to be a “stabbing robot” while he was being interviewed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
  • Getting arrested for walking naked through LaGuardia Airport.
  • Falling asleep on Ted Danson’s roof.
  • Biting actress Dakota Fanning on the face (Liz mentions that Tracy’s version of the story makes it sound like she deserved it).
  • Doing the robot walking backwards into a Starbucks while holding a dog that he had apparently stolen (although this was in fact misinterpreted as an act of normalcy).
  • Looting a television “because the Jets lost!”
  • Believes he said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing”, though this is attributed to Edmund Burke.
  • Forgot his name while being arrested in a Chuck E. Cheese’s. “Do you know who I am?!Seriously, do you know who I am?”
  • Yelled at a pair of nuns thinking he was at his high school reunion.
  • Hides his money in Kenneth’s page jacket. Also created a panic from comments on Larry King Live.

The video is a joke. It’s not anti-Semitic. Some people need to get a life. You can watch the video make your own call on whether or not it’s a hate crime.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

The Only News That Matters

While I’m sure that Conservative MPs will serve their constituents nobly today in the House of Commons by marshaling their colleagues’ attention to the issues that really matter to Canadian families – you know, issues like Warren Kinsella – this is the only story that matters right now.

Global Insight managing director Dale Orr said the country will lose 100,000 jobs in the first three months of 2009, and he believes Canada has already entered its first recession in 17 years.

I know that if I lost my job and was worried about how I would make my mortgage payment, pay to put gas in the car and food food on the table, I would want my government to be focusing on the most important issues to me and my family – who is going to run the Liberal war room in the next election.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

Really… This Is Your Expert?!

I understand that a certain“news” site (rhymes with Fork) threw objectivity out the window and ran over it like the neighbours’ cat the second that they started a pay-for-play format. So it’s no surprise that he’s following the lead of the rest of the employees of the Conservative Party in focusing his attention on Warren instead of the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in this country on their watch. But the last couple of days, he has been relying on links to no-libs.com (objective news, I’m sure). Really, Burke? Has it come to this? Do you really need to link to a blogger that gets his traffic by posting photos of half-naked women? With Chrysler threatening to cut another 9,000 Canadian jobs, are you really prepared to argue that cheap-shots at unelected members of non-governing parties posted by quasi-pornographers are more relevant to your readers? And if so, how stupid are your readers?

Filed under: Oh, Canada

The Recession is Real Now

Last night, for the first time in my lifetime, my life was touched by a recession. At only 26 years old, I have only lived through one previous recession (1990-92), which I was too young to feel. Neither of my parents’ jobs were affected and – as I assume is the case for most middle class Canadian families – the household budget was always a topic of discussion and a source of concern for my father.

Last night, I learned that a friend who works for a major technology company had been informed that he was being laid off. He had done nothing wrong and was simply a victim of the old last in, first out rule. He doesn’t have time to mourn. He had to be back at work early this morning. So like thousands of Canadians, he’s going to get up every morning for the next two weeks and continue to do the job that he’s paid to do with the knowledge that in only a matter of days, he’s not going to have a job to go back to. And like millions more, he’s going to be kept awake at night wondering nervously what the immediate future has in store for him; how he’s going to find a new job when the economy continues to deteriorate; and how he’s going to find the money to pay the rent and put food on his table.

It’s one thing to read about thousands of auto workers getting laid off; 300 employees at Sears losing their jobs;  Air Canada laying off 340 flight attendants; 230 Canadians being cut by 360Networks; 125 Labradorian miners getting the axe; the more than 200,000 Canadian jobs lost since Stephen Harper went back to Canadians to ask for a renewed mandate or the thousands more whose jobs are in jeopardy as the companies they work for file for bankruptcy or publicly consider it. It’s another thing to see those losses affect your friends and family. 

The challenges facing Stephen Harper in turning around this economy are well known and understood. But as much as Harper’s got an economic problem, he’s got a bigger ideological and rhetorical one.

Conservatives have rationalized their distaste for the social safety net with their argument that the people who rely on the system take advantage of it. People are on welfare, the story goes, because they’re too lazy to get jobs. There are images of these folks living high off the hog and spending every cent on liquor, cigarettes and lottery tickets. The problem is, the people losing their jobs have done everything right. They’ve worked hard to pay the bills and raise their families. And now the rug’s been pulled out from under them.

Stephen Harper got himself elected by convincing Canadians that he was one of them. He’s just an average  Tim Horton’s swilling hockey dad. Remember? He wasn’t an ivory tower intellectual like those Liberals. He was just like us and was going to be the Prime Minister for the average family. He’s spent a lot of time and a lot of money targeting voters in southern Ontario – ground zero for the recession in Canada.

Conservative columnists and the news sites that sell their headlines and race car sponsorships to the Conservative Party seem to be tripping all over themselves to denounce any potential bailout of the auto industry. This despite the fact that 30,000 Canadian jobs are on the line.  Now the Conservatives have to choose between their ideology and their responsibility to Canadian families.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

A Question For the Honourable Minister

Does the Immigration Minister feel it is appropriate that so many of his colleagues refer to him by the monicker Minister for Curry in a Hurry? I ask this question in light of the tremendous indignation that Conservatives across the country feigned when an unelected, unpaid volunteer for the Liberal Party of Canada joked about a Chinese restaurant that he used to frequent. It would seem to me that if the Minister felt it necessary to create an award to present to the aforementioned eatery, it would only be appropriate that he inform Canadians why this particular joke is more appropriate and which elected Conservative officials refer to him by this name.

Filed under: Oh, Canada

The Reviews Are In

Like many Canadians, I watched as CBC breathlessly covered every second of Obama’s Canadian vacation. And reading the reviews afterwards, one article caught my eye. Some highlights:

On trade:

The prime minister responded by giving the president a bit of a lecture, remarking that Canada’s stimulus package “actually removed duties on some imported goods.”

The exchange was an awkward moment in a visit that was intended by both leaders to emphasize their countries’ friendship and longstanding bonds.

On America’s relationship with Canada’s Next Government (patent pending):

If Mr. Obama is not entirely simpatico with Mr. Harper, he may have more in common with Canada’s opposition leader, Michael Ignatieff of the Liberal Party. Mr. Ignatieff is an author (like Mr. Obama) and a former director of a human rights center at Harvard, where he worked alongside Samantha Power, who advised Mr. Obama on foreign policy during his campaign. 

And of course my favorite part of the trip:

Filed under: Damn Yankees, Oh, Canada

…And They Sure Don’t Build Yachts Like They Used To!

In an interview with a conservative talk show host, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has once again embarrassed herself. Posted by the blog Dump Bachmann and picked up by the MN Progressive Project, the clip has the Minnesota Republican telling KLTK’s Chris Baker that she opposes she stimulus because we’re “running out of rich people in this country.”

Steve Benen organizes some more of the stupidity:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)
* many members of Congress have “a real aversion to capitalism.”

* the stimulus bill includes a measure to create a “rationing board” for health care, and after the bill becomes law, “your doctor will no longer be able to make your healthcare decisions with you.”

* the recovery package is part of a Democratic conspiracy to “direct” funding away from Republican districts, so Democratic districts can “suck up” all federal funds. Bachmann doesn’t think this will work because, as she put it, “We’re running out of rich people in this country.”

* the “Community-Organizer-in-Chief” is also orchestrating a conspiracy involving the Census Bureau, which the president will use to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power for up to “40 years.” When the host said he was confused, noting that congressional district lines are drawn at the state level, Bachmann said Obama’s non-existent plan is an “anti-constitutional move.”

Courtesy Huffington Post.

Filed under: Damn Yankees