Archive for the ‘politix’ Category

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The Sky is Falling!

1 November, 2007

I’m already sick of the latest conspiracy theory. You may not have heard of it yet, but it’s gaining steam, so it’s probably only a matter of time before you stumble across it.

You may not have heard. There is a conspiracy of military, corporate and political interests to dissolve the borders between Canada, the US and Mexico, and create a single North American Union under their despotic control. This going on in secret (of course), with the willing collaboration of our elected officials (of course) and the intentional silence of the mainstream media (of course!).

For some people, this will sound like a no-brainer (and ironically, it is). Others may require a bit of evidence. And boy, is there evidence! Website after website containing page after page… of… well… not much evidence at all. I know, I’ve waded through much of it, and it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

Most of it is pure speculation. It typically starts by pointing out that these talks have gone on in secret. You might rightly ask how, if the talks are held in secret, do the conspiracy theorists know what is going on in them? Hey, Mister, if you’re trying to use logic, you already don’t belong in this crowd. The answer is that they fill in the unknown blanks with pure speculation, which they back up by quoting each other. That’s right, conspiracy theorist A backs up his claims by quoting from conspiracy theorist B, with a link to the website of conspiracy theorist C. As you can imagine, it gets very incestuous, very fast. And it inevatibly ends up involving pictures of the twin towers coming down, because hey, all this shit is interconnected.

The hard part was finding anything at all that came from a valid, verifiable source. Eventually, I found the official website for the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. It refers to an agreement between the three gov’ts in question, to cooperate on such foul skull-duggery as… combatting avian flu. Real evil stuff.

I even managed to see a copy of the minutes of one of the meetings, obtained through the Access to Information Act. Again, it revealed discussions on such evil-doings as border security and emergency management. Merger of the three nations into one? Nope, not mentioned.

But aha, you say. These traitors would never actually admit to their conspiracy or its aims. Well, to that I say, show me the evidence. You can’t just say that because we can’t see behind this door, that proves there must be a three-headed monster behind it. Until you can actually bring the monster into view, all the wild speculation in the universe isn’t going to convince an intelligent observer.

Because, really, let’s get serious. Let’s imagine that Stephen Harper has worked so hard, for so long, to become the Prime Minister of Canada… only so that he can hand over the keys to the country. If that doesn’t strain your credibility, then try imagining that Jack Layton and the Bloc Quebecois know all about it and are dancing right along with the tune of assimilation into the US. Please tell me that’s hard to believe. Next imagine that the entire mainstream press has agreed to keep it all hush-hush so as not to alarm the masses. Good heavens, if you’ll believe all that, then just give me all your money, and I promise I’ll keep the elves from stealing your tin-foil hat. Might I also recommend the Flat Earth Society?

Might I dare to point out that, if you think war is bad (and it is), then perhaps diplomacy is good? Perhaps it’s a good idea for nations to talk to each other, and where it is beneficial to both nations, to cooperate? Trust me, we want our leaders to have communication and dialogue. We want our leaders to pursue and make international agreements. It’s the way forward, not some evil plot to steal your country from underneath you. What if we all lived our lives that way, refusing to speak to one another, trade, make agreements, etc? It would be a very different world indeed, and not a better one.

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Thermopylae

11 March, 2007

I went to see 300 last night. It was awesome, though it played pretty loose with historical fact. Or at least, what we believe actually occurred 2500 years ago at Thermopylae. The movie made it seem like the Spartans were the main body of Greeks at Thermopylae, when in fact, they were a relatively small contingent. What is significant is that it was the Spartans who chose to stay and die in the pass once the Persians had found a way to encircle it. But even there, the Thespian contingent also elected to fight to the end alongside the Spartans. In some ways, I find their sacrifice more moving. As city militia, they would not have been career warriors like the Spartans, not raised from birth to crave a death in battle.

Still, a few quibbles aside, I loved the movie. I’ve always been gripped by the story of the battle of Thermopylae. The theme of noble sacrifice, of people knowingly facing certain death, has always fascinated me. There’s also the element of betrayal, in Ephialtes showing the Persians a path around the guarded pass. On the one hand, you have hundreds of men willing to sacrifice everything so that the rest of Greece could escape conquest by the Persians. And all of it is rendered pointless by the greed of a single traitor.

I think there’s a moral there (every Greek story has a moral, right?). It’s that the nobility and effort of many can be undone by a petty few. That may seem pessimistic, but I’m convinced it’s true, that it’s a true principle of the world. The human race prospers, generally, because of the vast majority of people who work hard, love their children, and deal fairly with their neighbours. What misery and conflict there is exists because of a minority who see profit in violence and conflict.

Look at the sectarian violence in Iraq, if you want an example. I’m convinced that most of the Sunnis and Shia in Baghdad want to live in peace and watch their children grow up. They’d rather have reliable electricity than plant a roadside bomb. I’m sure most young Iraqis would rather have a cool cellphone and prospects for a future than kill an infidel. But you have a few leaders preaching hate, and some few hundreds or thousands who are willing to buy into it. There isn’t open warfare and clear battle lines (such as we saw in the former Yugoslavia, for example) because the majority just don’t want violence. But the small minority that does want violence trumps the majority who want peace and reconstruction. One car bomb or suicide bomber can kill scores of people whose only wish was to get home from work safely and see their families again. A few motivated death squads can stir up enough fear to paralyze a nation and make the conflict spread.

Look at the building of girls’ schools in Afghanistan. Aid organizations build them, and incredibly brave Afghan women teach in them. What moves me is that so many parents, knowing the danger, send their daughters to them. Whatever the traditionalism and narrow interpretations of Islam, they want to see their daughters have a better future. Until the radicals show up and shoot the teacher, burn the school. There it is again, ordinary people wanting to move forward, while a minority filled hate and a small-minded religiosity deny them the opportunity.

Notice how the early stages of ethnic conflict often involve targeting not just the opposite ethnicity, but the moderates on the same side. It takes effort to polarize a population. And the sad truth is that it’s in the nature of a radical to expend far more effort to unleash chaos than an ordinary honest citizen will expend to hold it at bay.

I can’t propose any solutions to this. The truism persists. Men of integrity will build; men without it will tear it down. If there’s a bright side to it all, it’s that we’ve made it this far because we’ve been able to build so much more than war, conflict and criminality has destroyed. We’ll make it much farther, I’m sure, but we’ll never live in a world without conflict. John Lennon was as willing as anyone to “give peace a chance,” and those words still fall from millions of lips, but all that pacifism couldn’t do a thing to save him from one madman with a pistol.

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Clear the Tracks!

26 February, 2007

Iran’s top wingnut, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared that Iran’s nuclear program (entirely peaceful, of course, and completely unrelated to his earlier remarks that Israel would be wiped off the map in a fiery explosion) is now an unstoppable train without brakes or reverse gear.

Isn’t that reassuring? I know I feel better.