Terror and freedom
Re: London defiant as IS claims attack by British ex-con, 52 (March 23)
It is very sickening to hear about yet another ruthless attack that has taken the lives of innocent people. My heartfelt condolences go out to the victims and the families of the London terrorist attack. It is very unfortunate that whenever a tragedy like this takes place, the immediate reaction of most people is to focus on the background of the attacker so they can start pointing fingers and labelling entire groups as the culprits. Classifying an entire group based on individuals does not serve to be of any benefit. Rather, it only creates further division — which is the intent behind these attacks.
It may be true that the perpetrator of the London attack is of the Muslim faith. However, there are more than a billion Muslims around the world who condemn this act and don’t follow such vile practices.
Horrific, barbaric, a senseless act of terrorism; these are but a sampling of the words being used to describe the killings in London last week.
Yet as truthful as they may be, they raise a troubling question: how do we describe the deaths of more than one million Iraqis in a war now commonly acknowledged to have been based on a deliberate lie?
Killing is no less awful simply because it has been sanctioned by our state; fear and terror no less odious when they are generated to advance our corporate interests.
The wars we launch for geopolitical advantage are as horrifying, barbaric, incomprehensible and terrifying to the people who suffer them, as was the dreadful attack that shook Westminster.
Only by utterly rejecting a calculus that judges the lives of others to be of lesser value than our own; only by recognizing that our appetite for human rights, for freedom and peace and prosperity, is mirrored in the lives of people in every nation, can there be any real hope of peace on earth.
Simply put, to change the world, we must start by changing ourselves.
Re: Maher embodies anti-Muslim left (March 27)
In his piece criticizing Bill Maher for contributing to "fearmongering stereotypes", Stuart Chambers makes the following statement: "Globally speaking, Muslims overwhelmingly reject suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam."
Maher has pointed out, however, that even if only a small minority of Muslims worldwide support suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets, there are still a sizeable number of Muslims who do support suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians.
As Maher has pointed out repeatedly, the same Pew Research Center report (which was based upon surveys conducted worldwide among Muslims in 2011) upon which Prof. Chambers relies to make his case, can also be used to show that even if only three per cent of Muslims worldwide say suicide bombings and attacks against civilians are justified, if there are 1.54 billion Muslims in the world, that means there are still 4.62 million Muslims worldwide who do support suicide bombings and attacks against civilians. Further, in the United States, where there are 2.75 million Muslims, if seven per cent say such attacks are sometimes justified, that means 192,500 Muslims in the U.S. do say such attacks are sometimes justified.
Canada’s NATO commitment
Re: Trump’s military spending increases don’t add up (March 21)
Thankfully, we have individuals like Scott Taylor to put forth the truth regarding our stupidity in commitments to NATO, or following the Americans into reckless abandon. We had spent more than a decade in Afghanistan, wasted 158 lives, countless maimed, and those suffering PTSD, plus roughly $20 billion, all the while being fed the usual bull and propaganda of how we were there creating democracy and freedom, as told by our mainstream media; essentially the CBC and CTV, and to a lesser extent the print media. Let us not forget the outright lie by the Chrétien Liberals that we went there to escape a commitment in Iraq. Well, we did serve there by assisting the Americans.
Now we have followed NATO into Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine to harass the Russians until something goes wrong, plus some sort of a commitment in Africa; not for the first time.
We had been inundated daily with the carnage in eastern Aleppo by the Russians and Syrian military, followed by the White Helmets arriving just in time to save children buried in the rubble.
For some reason we have been spared the grief of viewing such carnage in eastern Mosul, Iraq, by the American and Iraqi military; no White Helmets lifting children from Mosul rubble.
Why is that? Are we to believe there are no civilian casualties, or might it be because the British- and American-funded White Helmets lost their cameras and their way to Mosul? Maybe its because showing the destruction, death and carnage does not fit with the propaganda we are fed by the CBC and CTV.
This is of course quite odd, given that some 300 civilians were killed by American bombing over the last week in western Mosul.
The reported story by CNN from the Pentagon is that the people were forced into the buildings by IS. Of course, no such consideration was given the Russians or Syrians in eastern Aleppo, in that civilians were forced to remain in the buildings by al-Nusra or al-Qaida terrorists.
Well, I guess I will just have to wait for Scott Taylor to write another column, providing us with the truth in Mosul.
On demagogues and tyranny
Re: Democracy and Duterte (Letters, March 25)
It would seem that Gregory Unger takes exception to Gwynne Dyer’s equating populism with demagoguery and writes in defence of a view of democracy as majority rule.
He expresses doubt that the majority could all be "bribed, bullied or brainwashed" into a particular view. Sadly, evidence of the ease with which a population can be coerced or "bamboozled" is obvious throughout human history. One need only consider the imposition of state religions, or communism, or apartheid, as relatively recent examples.
Further evidence is suggested by Unger’s own rant against an "already well-drugged population."
I am not sure how it was that Unger and others in Canada as well as the Philippines — perhaps even a majority — have come to this view, but it would not have come about through thoughtful and critical analysis of the facts.
The essence of a democracy is not so much majority rule as adherence to the rule of law and the defence of the right of the minority to hold and express views contrary to the majority. And if a law turns out to be egregious, as has happened in our history, mechanisms exist whereby the law can be changed.
It appears to me that so-called "vice" laws, such as prohibition of alcohol, gambling or even prostitution — prohibitions now defunct — are more representative of a tyranny of the majority at the time than of a true democracy.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte disregards the law and does not respect minorities or human rights. He boasts of being judge and executioner.
A majority may well support him but that hardly qualifies as a democracy. A tyranny of the majority is still a tyranny.
Gwynne Dyer is right to sound a warning.