Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pearson's Despair

Like Chris Hedges, Michael Harris speaks truth to power. Today he takes on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians -- and the Harper government's Middle East policy:

Question for Stephen Harper, John Baird, Jason Kenney and Peter MacKay: if you were in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, instead of sitting in front of a fire in Ottawa with an NFL game on TV, if you were in the morgue in Gaza looking at the men, women and children now dead even though they were not members of Hamas, would you still say it was okay? Would you still write that blank cheque to the government of Benjamin Netanyahu?

Is making war on men, women, children and journalists to get at your declared enemies acceptable? Is that what Canada now stands for?

But he's equally hard on the Liberals and the NDP:

The Liberals and the NDP have been equally gutless in the struggle for justice on the Middle East file (the outstanding exception is MP Libby Davies), equally egregious in their sickening hunt for political advantage — or more accurately, the avoidance of political damage.

That process apparently extends to silently endorsing the lawless notion of group punishment and a breathlessly excessive use of force, and a big middle finger to the Geneva Conventions. A nuclear power against people in tents? A terror group with Iranian rockets running a rag-tag government that wants the other side annihilated? These are the groups that are left to decide the issue?

We have come a long way from the days of Lester Pearson. And the journey -- like our tax system  -- has been all about regression:

If one were looking for a quote that shows the extent to which we have lost our moral clarity in this world — on this festering issue in particular — this one would do as well as any: “Human sovereignty transcends national sovereignty.”

Think about the resonance of those words. Where did they come from? Who spoke them? They just happen to have come out of the mouth of the only Canadian ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, then-minister of External Affairs Lester B. Pearson was quoting prime minister Mackenzie King. Both men believed that the world would be a better place if individual nation-states gave up some measure of their sovereignty to an international authority in the interest of peace and security.

Surely, Mike Pearson would despair over what has become of his Canada.


thwap said...

Mulcair's zionist stupidity is one of the reasons I didn't support the twit.

Anytime some asshole says something about Israel's right to defend itself I make them prove to me that they're not anti-Arab racists born out of a culture of hate and death.

Owen Gray said...

Pearson was so much wiser than this crop of leaders, thwap. That's why we got medicare, the Canada Pension Plan and a flag -- in a minority government.

Lorne said...

Thanks, Owen. Every so often we need to be reminded about our past to see how great our fall has been. And by our past, I don't mean the jingoistic propaganda being spewed out by the Harper regime about the War of 1812 in its efforts to promote a faux nationalism.

Owen Gray said...

Perhaps Pearson's belief in internationalism had something to do with his service as a pilot in World War I.

He'd be the first to say he had avoided the insane violence of that war, Lorne. But he knew much more about the real thing than Stephen Harper.

Pearson was no armchair warrior.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I am embarrassed for my country and the unconditional support for the right wing government of Israel. Their treatment of the Palestinians involves many war crimes as they seek to steal the land of the Palestinians using criminal means including collective punishment for acts of a few. Here you will find a summary of the plight of the Palestinians

Giving the history of European Jews in the last century, you would think they would be more compassionate toward others rather inflict the Palestinians with methods used by their former oppressors.

Gaza,in particular, is nothing other than a large concentration camp with the Israeli as the prison guards.

I am ashamed for Jews when their only response to any criticism of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians is the "ad hominem" attack of calling the critic an anti-semitic as if this is an answer to the problem.

Owen Gray said...

And we, as a nation, should be able to see both sides in the conflict, Philip.

But for our present government, seeing the other side of an issue is a sign of weakness.

Anonymous said...

Mike saw the bombs falling on London. He saw the bodies being pulled from the rubble. He understood the insanity of the inhumanity.

The fat idiots who now claim to stand for Canadian values are merely fat idiots who know nothing of Canadian values.

I will lay another pebble on Mike's grave.

Owen Gray said...

That's perhaps the best way to honour him, Anon, seeing that the Conservatives are working mightily to expunge references to Pearson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Beijing York said...

This government is beyond the contempt they have already been accused of. They have branded every living being in Gaza as terrorists.

And frankly, the elected Hamas government is no more terrorist than the Sinn Féin in Ireland or the PQ in Quebec. Their roots/sympathies do not brand their governance. Let's not forget the terrorism that pre-dated the official creation of the state of Israel.

The bottom line is that the Palestinians are an severely oppressed people who deserve some justice.

Owen Gray said...

This government is incapable of seeing two sides to an issue, Bejiing.

And, as Scott Fitzgerald noted,
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

Anonymous said...

Never forget the IDF deliberate targetting of UN observation posts.

Their motto should be:

"Ask us no questions; We'll tell you no lies"


Owen Gray said...

Looking the other way will not bring peace to the Middle East, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gray -

Sorry you misunderstood me - I am all in favour of the harsh light being brought to bear...

I find the willingness of the MSM to accept the blatant discrimination perpetrated by the descendants of the victims of such hatred especially galling.

Call it what it is. Theft of land, imperialism, conquest. The terms mean little in the context of the current silence.

And as always, label your critic. Just like our government labels environmental scientists as communists, socialists, ecoterrorists, those who speak out against the terror perpetrated against the palestinians become bigots and other such.

In and of itself, the latter is one of the best reasons to forego theocracies. That way a critique of the government cannot be construed by the "ignorant masses" as an attack on their religion.


Owen Gray said...

I'm sorry I misled you, Anon. I was referring to our present government -- which looks the other way when the IDF uses force against civilians and other innocents.

I do not mean that terrorist attacks against Israelis are justifiable. They are not.

However, there certainly is a double standard at work. And, as you say, this government labels anyone who draws attention to that double standard an enemy of the state.