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A. Picazo: Colin Powell’s Lesson For Republicans

This column ran in The National Post on August 11, 2016. Sixteen days before the 2008 presidential election, George W. Bush’s former secretary of state, Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.), appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press to reveal his much-coveted endorseme… . . . → Read More: A. Picazo: Colin Powell’s Lesson For Republicans

Bill Longstaff: Is Christ Christian? Reflections on the niqab debate.

Pondering the late unlamented election debate about the niqab, I took to wondering just what a religion is. Not the dictionary definition or what theologians say it is, but how it is practiced by its followers. Take Christianity, for example, the re… . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Is Christ Christian? Reflections on the niqab debate.

LeDaro: Donald Trump is trumping his own trump.

Donald Trump will ban all Muslims entering U.S if he is elected president.This time G.O.P has taken notice and many Republicans have condemned his remarks. . . . → Read More: LeDaro: Donald Trump is trumping his own trump.

Left Over: Don’t Send Us your Tired and Poor….

More than 30 U.S. states refusing Syrian refugees on ‘shaky legal ground’ In wake of Paris attacks, governors of at least 31 U.S. states announce plans to bar Syrian refugees By Matt Kwong, CBC News Posted: Nov 18, 2015 3:02 PM … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Left Over: Don’t Send Us your Tired and Poor….

Cowichan Conversations: Rafe: Not all immigrants created equal in Canada…and that needs to change

Originally posted in the Common Sense Canadian By Rafe Mair Before starting, let me state that there is no excusing the massacre in Paris, nor 9/11. When it comes to death of innocent civilians Read more… . . . → Read More: Cowichan Conversations: Rafe: Not all immigrants created equal in Canada…and that needs to change

Politics, Re-Spun: Islamophobia: Donald Trump Reveals His Inner Hitler

Racist. Ignorant. Clueless. Donald Trump has just levelled up. He has acquired his Hitler badge and is proudly displaying it for all to see. You’re fired. Denounce the Donald. Send this to everyone; we all need to denounce him and the Republican horse he rode in on. Donald Trump said tonight he’d implement a database … Continue reading Islamophobia: Donald Trump Reveals His Inner Hitler

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Islamophobia: Donald Trump Reveals His Inner Hitler

Politics, Re-Spun: Islamophobia: Donald Trump Reveals His Inner Hitler

Racist. Ignorant. Clueless. Donald Trump has just levelled up. He has acquired his Hitler badge and is proudly displaying it for all to see. You’re fired. Denounce the Donald. Send this to everyone; we all need to denounce him and the Republican horse he rode in on. Donald Trump said tonight he’d implement a database … Continue reading Islamophobia: Donald Trump Reveals His Inner Hitler

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Islamophobia: Donald Trump Reveals His Inner Hitler

Bill Longstaff: We’re on the international stage—for our bigotry

The latest issue of Press Progress includes an article commenting on the attention the Prime Minister’s divisive anti-Muslim politicking is getting around the globe.

For instance, The Economist carries the headline “Muslim-bashing is an effective campaign tactic” and goes on to say, “The fuss is a godsend for Stephen Harper, who hopes voters will . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: We’re on the international stage—for our bigotry

wRanter.com: Cultural and religious issues dominate as election day nears

Thank God for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I say that not because trade is an inherently Jewish issue, nor because I know for certain the recently negotiated deal will be good for Canada, especially since its details have yet to be released. Irrespective of its long-term effects, the TPP might be our only hope to . . . → Read More: wRanter.com: Cultural and religious issues dominate as election day nears

Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS


Recently the Toronto Star posted a piece on Thomas Mulcair and the fight against ISIS:  Mulcair Would Pull Canada From U.S. Led Mission in Mid-East if Elected.

This is a big mistake, not only politically, but from a humanitarian angle.  There is no argument that George Bush’s ill-conceived war in Iraq, or in fact the decades of invasions in the region, gave rise to ISIS; but abandonment is not the answer.

As part of his reasoning, Mulcair claims that this is neither a NATO nor a UN mission, but he is wrong. Nato is involved and were involved in most, if not all, engagements in the Middle East.  The United Nations has resolved to stop the flow of money and arms going to ISIS, but many of the arms they are using, are those left by the Americans

And the NATO missions that Mulcair is promoting, have destabilized regions, making them ripe for terrorist takeover.  You can be a pacifist and oppose war, but if you support any war, you are no longer a pacifist. His stand is a bit confusing.

As to stopping the flow of money going to ISIS that too will be difficult.  The west has been bombing oil refineries, one source of revenue, and some nations are refusing to pay ransoms, and yet the organization is still able to pay their bills, as well as provide money to run, according to the Economist, “services across the areas it controls, paying schoolteachers and providing for the poor and widowed.”

We run the risk of further alienating the occupied, if ISIS can blame the west for not being able to take care of the people.  We need to stop bombing, but we can’t just leave.  Humanitarian aid and training is still necessary.

Radicalization and NDP Naivete

When Stephen Harper announced that he would stop Canadians from travelling to countries engaged in “terrorist” activities, Mulcair said he would support the initiative, but questioned whether it would help in the fight against “terrorism”.  He went on to say that C-51 did not do enough to combat the “radicalization of youth”.

This was actually a topic for debate in the Commons, as the NDP tried to push through an amendment to C-51, reading in part, that the Bill “…does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as providing support to communities that are struggling to counter radicalization.

What communities do they mean?

I rarely agree with anything Peter Van Loan says, but he did raise the issue that it was “ill defined”.  Do they mean Muslim communities?  Peter Julian had this to say:

The mosque that is in my riding in Burnaby—New Westminster was the mosque the man who murdered Cpl. Nathan Cirillo attended. I travelled to that mosque within a couple of days of what happened on October 22 here on the Hill. What the mosque members told me was quite stark. They said that they knew he had profound mental illness. They knew that he had a drug addiction. They tried to seek help, and there was nothing available. This is something we have heard from communities right across the country.

It sounds like the issue is more about mental illness and drug addiction, issues that are discussed in many places, and not confined to Mosques.  It would appear that the NDP believe, like the Conservatives, that terrorism is associated with Islam.  This is not only Xenophobic but incorrect.  While the Islamic State is using the religious angle, their motives are not religious, but political.

According to Huffington Post, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed, the two Brits who went to Syria to join the rebels, first purchased off Amazon, two books:  Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies  They were not devout Muslims.  Nor were the 9/11 hijackers who reportedly used cocaine, drank alcohol, slept with prostitutes and attended strip clubs, but never belonged to a mosque. 

A 2008 report published in the Guardian, dispelled the stereotypes of those who become involved in terrorism:   “ They are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices. Nor, the analysis says, are they “mad and bad”. and “Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly.”

Didier François, a French journalist who was held by Isis in Syria for ten months before being released in April 2014, has provided some insight into the life of those fighting for ISIS, in a CNN interview.

“There was never really discussion about texts.  It was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.  It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran. We didn’t even have the Quran. They didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”

This is a political movement, not a Jihad one.  President Obama has been trying to stress that, but his words are falling on deaf ears. I often learn a lot by reading the comments section of media reports, and in one, there is a debate between two readers.  One was trying to stress that all terrorists are Muslim but their opponent fired back by saying: “Christians are also terrorists.  They just call it ‘shock and awe'”.

It is not religion that is fuelling this war, it’s war itself.

The Radicalization of Youth Has Little to do With Communities

Al Jazeera also published the results of a study, defining the risk factors for  violent radicalization:  Youth, wealth and academia appear to predispose individuals to sympathizing with acts of terrorism.

Perhaps surprisingly, religious practice, mental health, social inequality and political engagement were not significant factors.

“We’re offering a new paradigm for sympathies as an early phase of radicalization that can be measured,” Kamaldeep Bhui, the study’s lead author and a cultural psychology professor at the university, told Al Jazeera. 

While just 2.4 percent of people expressed some sympathy for violence overall, researchers found that those under the age 20, those in full-time education rather than employment, and those with annual incomes above $125,000 were more prone to express sympathy for violent protests and “terrorism.”

The attack on Parliament Hill was perpetrated by a mentally ill, homeless man, but mental illness is a separate issue, just as drug addiction and homelessness are.

“One explanation for homegrown terrorism in high-income countries is that it’s about inequality-related grievances,” Bhui said in a phone interview. “We were surprised that [the] inequality paradigm seems not to be supported. The study essentially seemed to show that those born in the U.K. consistent with the radicalization paradigm are actually more affluent or well off.” 

Two other findings stood in conflict with prevailing stereotypes about so-called homegrown terrorism in the West: Immigrants and those who speak a non-English language at home, as well as those who reported suffering from anxiety or depression, were less likely to express sympathy for terrorist acts.

If we really want to “stop the flow”, we need to stop invading countries, and taking part in “regime changes”, simply because they are not willing to conduct business on our terms. Many of the sympathizers are well educated, and intelligent enough to know that there have been grave injustices committed, while society at large blames the victims.  Who are the “terrorists”?

I agree with supporting “at risk” communities, dealing with poverty and youth unemployment, but that will not stop terrorists.  As studies have found, they are not poor, uneducated or unemployed and rarely religious.  In fact, the stereotypical description of radicalized youth, are often the ones who believe that all terrorists are Muslims.

That’s where we have to “stop the flow”.  Misinformation.

. . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS

Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS

Recently the Toronto Star posted a piece on Thomas Mulcair and the fight against ISIS:  Mulcair Would Pull Canada From U.S. Led Mission in Mid-East if Elected. This is a big mistake, not only politically, but from a humanitarian angle.  There is no argument that George Bush’s ill-conceived war in Iraq, or in . . . → Read More: Pushed to the Left and Loving It: Why Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair Have Got it so Wrong on ISIS

Bill Longstaff: Why Britain is culpable for the slaughter of its citizens

British Prime Minister David Cameron is enraged at the massacre on a beach at the Sousse resort in Tunisia last week. And well he should be: thirty of his countrymen and women were slaughtered. He has pledged a “full spectrum” response, whatever that means. But while Mr. Cameron is engaging in his full spectrum response, . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Why Britain is culpable for the slaughter of its citizens

Bill Longstaff: Oaths, niqabs, and respecting the rules

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander made a curious statement recently when being asked about the government’s proposed Bill C-75 which states that a person taking the oath of citizenship must “swear or affirm the oath out loud and with their face uncovered,” and furthermore, “If a person is required to take the oath of citizenship at . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Oaths, niqabs, and respecting the rules

Bill Longstaff: Zehaf-Bibeau had a point

At the risk of being investigated by the 130 agents RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has working on the Michael Zehaf-Bibeau case, I must say I think the man made a valid point.

After watching his now famous video, or at least the portion big brother has allowed us to see, I cannot dismiss all . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Zehaf-Bibeau had a point

Left Over: Can’t Tolerate Bigotry…

Time to put the brakes on our slide to intolerance: Tim Harper A government which deals with only symptoms and refuses to look at root causes is part of the problem.

By: Tim Harper National Affairs, Published on Sun Mar 01 2015

(with thanks to Montreal Simon’s blog for the reference: montrealsimon.blogspot.ca)

 

What has . . . → Read More: Left Over: Can’t Tolerate Bigotry…

Bill Longstaff: Harper fails Conservative citizenship criteria

Over the signature of Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, the Conservative Party of Canada recently emailed a petition to its supporters, rallying them against face covering during citizenship oaths. Apparently Conservative ire was raised by a Federal Court of Canada decision that struck down the ban on Muslim women wearing niqabs when taking . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: Harper fails Conservative citizenship criteria

Bill Longstaff: ISIS and the grand imam—not so different

That ISIS is a scourge of major proportions is agreed on across the globe. Driven by some religious mania, they persecute other religions, behead infidels, burn enemies alive—all with sickening zeal and an obsession with publicity. Other Muslims are as outraged as any of us. A host of Arab governments and Muslim religious authorities have . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: ISIS and the grand imam—not so different

Bill Longstaff: French hold most favourable views of Jews and Muslims

How the French view their minority populations after the violent events earlier this month will probably take a while to sort out. But a poll conducted last year suggested they were about the most tolerant in Europe.

Eighty-nine per cent of French men and women hold a favourable view of Jews and 72 per cent . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: French hold most favourable views of Jews and Muslims

Bill Longstaff: The legitimate anger of the jihadis

As the season of wallowing in warrior worship wanes, we might think upon those warriors we love to hate—the young Muslim men from around the globe migrating (or trying to migrate) to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.

Their motivation is much discussed. Some, alienated from their society, seem driven by nothing more than . . . → Read More: Bill Longstaff: The legitimate anger of the jihadis

Politics and its Discontents: Critical thinkers, Take Heart

Dispelling misconceptions is never well-received in the media:

Recommend this Post

THE FIFTH COLUMN: The Bottom Line on the Parti Québécois Proposed Values Charter

I was going to write a long blog post on this but since so much has been written about it I think this captures the spirit and intent of the proposal succinctly. The bottom line on Quebec’s proposed values charter is that you can visit a hospital name… . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: The Bottom Line on the Parti Québécois Proposed Values Charter

THE FIFTH COLUMN: The Bottom Line on the Parti Québécois Proposed Values Charter

I was going to write a long blog post on this but since so much has been written about it I think this captures the spirit and intent of the proposal succinctly.

The bottom line on Quebec’s proposed values charter is that you can visit a hospital named after a saint with a crucifix in . . . → Read More: THE FIFTH COLUMN: The Bottom Line on the Parti Québécois Proposed Values Charter

Melissa Fong: On bombings and who gets our compassion

“Do I advise you to love thy neighbor? I suggest rather to escape from thy neighbor and to love those who are the farthest away from you. Higher than the love for thy neighbor is the love for the man who is distant and has still to come.” -Nietzsche (This post is dedicated to a . . . → Read More: Melissa Fong: On bombings and who gets our compassion

drive-by planet: Video message for FEMEN: ‘saving Muslim women one bra strap at a time’

A Muslimah from Manchester, England, gets her message across in this funny yet pointed video in which she thanks FEMEN ‘from the bottom of her heart’ for showing her how to campaign for women’s rights:

My parents got it wrong, they seriously got it wrong…. they thought that by sending me to . . . → Read More: drive-by planet: Video message for FEMEN: ‘saving Muslim women one bra strap at a time’

drive-by planet: Muslimahs say "no thanks" on being ‘liberated’ by FEMEN

The Ukrainian-based all-women protest group FEMEN draws attention to its actions with naked in-your-face campaigning. While the approach definitely grabs media attention, in the case of attempts to “liberate” Muslim women it could end up being badly counterproductive.

The targeting of Islam in FEMEN campaigns has led to accusations of Islamophobia and . . . → Read More: drive-by planet: Muslimahs say "no thanks" on being ‘liberated’ by FEMEN