Quotulatiousness

September 6, 2017

QotD: Suicidalism

The most important weapons of al-Qaeda and the rest of the Islamist terror network are the suicide bomber and the suicide thinker. The suicide bomber is typically a Muslim fanatic whose mission it is to spread terror; the suicide thinker is typically a Western academic or journalist or politician whose mission it is to destroy the West’s will to resist not just terrorism but any ideological challenge at all.

But al-Qaeda didn’t create the ugly streak of nihilism and self-loathing that afflicts too many Western intellectuals. Nor, I believe, is it a natural development. It was brought to us by Department V of the KGB, which was charged during the Cold War with conducting memetic warfare that would destroy the will of the West’s intelligentsia to resist a Communist takeover. This they did with such magnificent effect that the infection outlasted the Soviet Union itself and remains a pervasive disease of contemporary Western intellectual life.

Consider the following propositions:

  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal.
  • Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself.
  • But “oppressed” people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.

These ideas travel under many labels: postmodernism, nihilism, multiculturalism, Third-World-ism, pacifism, “political correctness” to name just a few. It is time to recognize them for what they are, and call them by their right name: suicidalism.

Eric S. Raymond, “Suicidalism”, Armed and Dangerous, 2005-09-13.

May 7, 2017

QotD: The privilege of colourblindness

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

In Slate magazine, SF author Ursula LeGuin complains that the producers of the new Earthsea miniseries have butchered her work. One form of butchery that she zeroes in on is by casting characters who she intended to be red, brown, or black as white people.

I have mixed feelings. LeGuin has every right to be POed at how her intentions were ignored, but on the other hand my opinion of her has not been improved by learning that she intended the books as yet another wearisomely PC exercise in multiculturalism/multiracialism.

I liked those books when I read them as a teenager. I didn’t notice any character’s skin color. I would really prefer not to have had my experience of those characters retrospectively messed with by LeGuin’s insistence that the race thing is important.

Note: I am not claiming that all casting should be colorblind. I remember once watching an otherwise excellent Kenneth Branagh production of Much Ado About Nothing that was somewhat marred for me by Branagh’s insistence on casting an American black man as a Renaissance Italian lord. This was wrong in exactly the same way that casting a blue-eyed blond as Chaka Zulu or Genghis Khan would be — it’s so anti-historical that it interferes with the suspension of disbelief. Fantasy like LeGuin’s, however, doesn’t have this kind of constraint. Ged and Tenar don’t become either more or less plausible if their skin color changes.

But what really annoyed me was LeGuin’s claim that only whites have the “privilege” of being colorblind. This is wrong and tendentious in several different ways. Colorblindness is not a privilege of anyone, it’s a duty of everyone — to judge people not by the color of their skin but the content of their character, and to make race a non-issue by whatever act of will it takes. (It doesn’t take any effort at all for me.)

Eric S. Raymond, “The Racist of Earthsea”, Armed and Dangerous, 2004-12-16.

February 26, 2017

QotD: Tibetan cuisine

Filed under: Asia, Cancon, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

… even in Parkdale we have good restaurants. There are now seven Tibetan chop shops (yak stops?) along Queen Street. I think this qualifies us to be called “Little Tibet,” and get special street signs from the the municipal multicultural patronizing bureaucracy. Though when I accompanied an excessively white friend into one such establishment, he was filled with anxiety. “I sure hope the food isn’t authentic,” he commented.

It was, earlier today, starting with the salted butter tea. Or rather, it wasn’t. Everything tastes different, this close to sea level.

The same remark can be made for chillies, as can be made for wine. Except, chillies often grow well in the mountains. But this depends on the mountain face, in relation to the sun’s course; on the soils, and temperatures; on the rains in their seasons; on luck, and the art of the chilli farmer. Gentle reader will guess I am about to pump Tibetan Tiger Chillies.

Now, Tibet is no country to grow chillies, overall. Some katabasis is usually required. Go south, down the mountains, perhaps to Bengal; then east, to the hills behind Chittagong; or into the lower hills of Assam; and there, I solemnly believe, you will find the finest chillies in the world. The Naga Morich, grown there, have been attempted elsewhere, always with dispiriting results. The conditions can be reproduced artificially, and hybridizations can be tried to square the circle, as it were. Some gentleman in England topped the Scoville table, a few years ago, by triangulating from the Naga Morich, the Bhut Jolokia (or, “ghost pepper,” closely related), and the Trinidad Moruga (or, “butch scorpion,” with linguistic variants). But the hybrid was unstable and he lost the competition the next year.

I love very hot chillies, and those above 1,000,000 Scoville units are much appreciated. (The hottest Habaneros get only half way there.) But I also love chillies, in themselves, and this includes quite mild ones. You see, as chilli-haters refuse to be taught, there is more to them than capsaicin. Even the heat is produced by compounds: the scientists, always counting, don’t know where to start. The customer who wants only pain can hit 16,000,000 with the synthetic chemical in its wax form. … Go ahead. … I’ll watch.

A Canadian (white) may say, “How can you taste your food with all those chillies?” There is no polite answer to this. It’s a typically Canadian passive-aggressive stance: to ask the unanswerable question. You just have to shoot them.

David Warren, “Elevated Discourse”, Essays in Idleness, 2015-06-11.

January 14, 2017

QotD: The intellectual monoculture of universities

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Among the great ironies surrounding the state of academia is the continued insistence on hearing more and more “marginalized voices” and increasing “diversity” on campus, as if there is some kind of archaic conservative establishment making that difficult to do.

One would likely be hard-pressed to find a more left-leaning group than college professors and admissions officers, who prioritize pulling marginalized groups out of their marginalization and adding people of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to campus conversations.

Yet in their efforts to achieve a more egalitarian conversation, left-wing academics and their students completely ignore (at best) and marginalize (at worst) students and the rare colleague who disagree with them politically.

And therein lies the ultimate irony: The very voices that decry inequality in all its manifestations either accept or turn a blind eye to the stunning dearth of conservative academics and the de facto censorship of right-wing students on overwhelmingly left-wing campuses.

Were it some other group suffering such a marginalization, there is no doubt that the left would be up in arms, crying discrimination and demanding rectification.

Some might even call such a monopoly on prevailing campus orthodoxy a type of “privilege,” defined as an asset “of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to,” to quote Peggy McIntosh, the matriarch of privilege’s modern construction.

While the marginalization of right-wing thinkers on campus in no way compares to the experience of black Americans throughout history, it might behoove left-wingers on college campuses to think about the various privileges from which they benefit simply by being members of the overwhelmingly dominant group in their academic communities.

Tal Fortgang, “38 ways college students enjoy ‘Left-wing Privilege’ on campus”, The College Fix, 2015-06-24.

October 1, 2015

“Welcome to the new war on cultural appropriation”

Cathy Young trips over cultural appropriation everywhere:

A few months ago, I read The Orphan’s Tales by Catherynne Valente. The fantasy novel draws on myths and folklore from many cultures, including, to my delight, fairy tales from my Russian childhood. Curious about the author, I looked her up online and was startled to find several social-media discussions bashing her for “cultural appropriation.”

There was a post sneering at “how she totally gets a pass to write about Slavic cultures because her husband is Russian,” with a response noting that her spouse isn’t even a proper Russian, because he has lived in the United States since age 10. In another thread, Valente was denounced for her Japanese-style LiveJournal username, yuki-onna, adopted while she lived in Japan as a military wife. In response to such criticism, a browbeaten Valente eventually dropped the “problematic” moniker.

Welcome to the new war on cultural appropriation. At one time, such critiques were leveled against truly offensive art — work that trafficked in demeaning caricatures, such as blackface, 19th-century minstrel shows or ethnological expositions, which literally put indigenous people on display, often in cages. But these accusations have become a common attack against any artist or artwork that incorporates ideas from another culture, no matter how thoughtfully or positively. A work can reinvent the material or even serve as a tribute, but no matter. If artists dabble outside their own cultural experiences, they’ve committed a creative sin.

To take just a few recent examples: After the 2013 American Music Awards, Katy Perry was criticized for dressing like a geisha while performing her hit single “Unconditionally.” Last year, Arab-American writer Randa Jarrar accused Caucasian women who practice belly dancing of “white appropriation of Eastern dance.” Daily Beast entertainment writer Amy Zimmerman wrote that pop star Iggy Azalea perpetrated “cultural crimes” by imitating African American rap styles.

And this summer, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has been dogged by charges of cultural insensitivity and racism for its “Kimono Wednesdays.” At the event, visitors were invited to try on a replica of the kimono worn by Claude Monet’s wife, Camille, in the painting “La Japonaise.” The historically accurate kimonos were made in Japan for this very purpose. Still, Asian American activists and their supporters besieged the exhibit with signs like “Try on the kimono: Learn what it’s like to be a racist imperialist today!” Others railed against “Yellow-Face @ the MFA” on Facebook. The museum eventually apologized and changed the program so that the kimonos were available for viewing only. Still, activists complained that the display invited a “creepy Orientalist gaze.”

January 21, 2015

“Sir, please put the Sriracha down. Now!”

Filed under: Cancon, Health, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Megan McArdle worries that the otherwise welcome introduction of spice to the awesomely bland North American diet of yesteryear may have gone just a tad too far:

It has come to my attention that some of you are becoming unable to eat good food unless it is spiced to within an inch of its life.

I’ve been noticing this for a while. It started with friends who put hot sauce on everything, even on dishes that were perfectly good without hot sauce. With dinner party hosts who proudly declared that the secret to good cooking was just to douse something in Cajun spices until you noticed the powder forming drifts on the side of the pan. With people who reported that an Asian restaurant was “good” because it had left their taste buds numb for hours.

Then, during the holiday season, I saw a Slate food writer declare that American apple pie is not as good as French apple pie because it is “bland and goopy,” and I began to suspect that something had gone seriously wrong with our food culture. When I saw an article on restaurant chefs who are daring to bring back prime rib, I became sure of it.

I’m as excited as anyone about the majestic spread of foreign food throughout our nation’s urban downtowns, its strip malls and cookbook aisles, its fruited plains and amber waves of grain. I can’t think of a national cuisine I don’t like, and that includes foods that will sear the taste buds off a water buffalo’s tongue at 20 feet.

I love me some spices … but I also like the idea of not feeling my tongue in pain for hours after I’ve finished eating my meal.

May 18, 2014

When #hashtags don’t deter modern-day barbarians

Filed under: Africa, Asia, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:53

Victor Davis Hanson on the limitations of #hashtag activism to combat real-world evil:

Nigeria’s homegrown, al-Qaeda linked militant group, Boko Haram, brags openly that it recently kidnapped about 300 young Nigerian girls. It boasts that it will sell them into sexual slavery.

Those terrorists have a long and unapologetic history of murdering kids who dare to enroll in school, and Christians in general. For years, Western aid groups have pleaded with the State Department to at least put Boko Haram on the official list of terrorist groups. But former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team was reluctant to come down so harshly, in apparent worry that some might interpret such condemnation as potentially offensive to Islamic sensitivities.

Instead, Western elites now flood Facebook and Twitter with angry postings about Boko Haram — either in vain hopes that public outrage might deter the terrorists, or simply to feel better by loudly condemning the perpetrators.

[…]

But if we are postmodern and sensitive, what do we say or do about premodern racists with nuclear weapons, like the North Koreans?

A recent article from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency suggested that President Obama “does not even have the basic appearances of a human being … It would be perfect for Obama to live with a group of monkeys in the world’s largest African natural zoo and lick the bread crumbs thrown by spectators.”

How does the West deal with a mentality like that, originating from a country armed with nuclear weapons? Pyongyang owns no television show that we can boycott, no sports team that we can root against.

What do we do in the face of 19th-century evil that is unapologetic, has lethal weapons at its disposal, and uses savage rhetoric to goad us? Tweet it to death?

What about the sultan of Brunei, who just enacted sharia law that orders stoning for women found “guilty” of adultery or for homosexuals engaged in sex acts? That is a different sort of war on women than that invoked by Sandra Fluke, who lamented that she did not have free birth control from the government.

June 4, 2013

Sanandaji – Sweden’s problem is too many libertarians

Filed under: Europe, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:40

Okay, that headline is unfair, but Tino Sanandaji does go out of his way to include the vast hordes of notoriously dogmatic and highly influential Swedish libertarians as part of the problem triggering the recent riots:

While immigrant unemployment is high, recent unrest can hardly be blamed on austerity. Successive governments have poured billions into problem areas in public investments, with limited success. In addition to free health care and other services, a family of four in Sweden is entitled to around $3,000 in welfare benefits each month. Last year, every middle-school pupil in one of Husby’s public schools received a brand-new iPad. (A total of 2,300 tablets have been distributed to local schools.)

Nor is Islam the cause of the riots. Radical Islamism is a problem, but it’s not related to this unrest. Most rioters appeared to be secular, even atheist. Some were Christian Assyrians. Frankly, most young immigrants in Sweden today do not care much about Islam. A far more potent influence than Islam on the Swedish ghetto is American gangster rap.

[. . .]

Making matters worse, multiculturalism morally privileges Third World cultures over Western culture. It preaches a modern version of original sin, damning Western civilization for historical crimes such as colonialism and racism. Much of public discourse today is devoted to endlessly reciting the historic crimes of the West. The problem with this discourse is not that the West is innocent of these crimes; it is not. The problem is that the blame-the-West interpretation of world history is one-sided. Endlessly recounting Western crimes against humanity while ignoring similar crimes committed by non-Westerners creates a dark and biased image of Western civilization. Meanwhile, the West’s contributions to humanity — such as democracy, the scientific revolution, human rights, and the industrial revolution — are downplayed or falsely credited to other cultures.

Resentment toward the West makes integration harder. Immigrants learn — and make use of — the message of victimhood, which fosters hostility toward their host society. And claiming victim status is appealing from a psychological perspective, as it confers moral superiority. Immigrants who wish to integrate and adopt a Swedish identity are accused of “acting white” or being “an Uncle Tom.” The latter is not a translation from Swedish; the American phrase “Uncle Tom” is the actual term of abuse.

In the face of this litany of crimes, Swedes have developed a deep sense of collective guilt and consequently lack the cultural self-confidence to integrate immigrants. The former leader of the Social Democratic opposition famously stated: “I believe that this is why Swedes are jealous of immigrants. You have a culture, an identity, a history, something that binds you together. What do we have? We have Midsummer’s Eve and other lame things.” Not to be outdone in the department of self-abasement, the current right-of-center prime minister added: “The fundamentally Swedish is merely barbarism. The rest of development has come from outside.” Note that this fierce hostility toward Swedish culture does not originate with Muslim immigrants; it comes from Swedish elites, including liberals to the left and libertarians to the right (there are no conservatives in Sweden). Swedish libertarians are, if possible, even more militantly hostile toward Sweden as a nation-state and to the very notion of patriotism.

While I’m sure that Swedish libertarians exist, I have to say that they’ve managed to stay pretty carefully out of my view.

November 25, 2012

UK bureaucrat removes foster children from home of UKIP supporters

Filed under: Britain, Bureaucracy, Government, Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:30

I heard about this case yesterday, and I’d hoped that it was just a mangling of the report, not an appallingly bad exercise of municipal power:

The stunning decision by Rotherham Council to remove three children from a foster home (where they were happy) because the foster parents support UKIP shows that the “culture war” here in Britain is being waged not by the Right, but by the Left.

Joyce Thacker, the council’s director of children, who said her decision was influenced by UKIP’s sceptical take on multiculturalism, is the mirror image of those mad American right-wingers who want to outlaw abortion clinics and homosexuals. Unlike them, though, she is in a position of power. Hers is the latest in a series of increasingly chilling actions of this nature taken by bien-pensant officials.

[. . .]

The special interest of the Rotherham case — and no doubt why Ed Miliband was so quick to condemn it — is that in five days’ time the town has a parliamentary by-election. Labour is already in a bit of trouble here — about 80 of the 114 members present at the meeting to select its candidate walked out in protest after the favourite, local man Mahroof Hussain, was excluded from the shortlist. Many of them said they wouldn’t campaign for the woman Labour chose, Sarah Champion.

October 23, 2012

Bilingualism and multiculturalism, “the Siamese twins of Canadian social policy”

Filed under: Cancon, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:34

In Maclean’s, Heather Scoffield wonders if the twin keystones of “official” Canadian identity (as defined by the Liberal party in 1969) are actually in opposition to one another:

Have the two forces that have defined Canadian culture for the past 40 years — multiculturalism and bilingualism — turned on each other?

The final release of 2011 census data this week will offer Canadians some insight into the answer.

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada will publish language data showing how many people speak English, how many speak French, and how many speak a myriad of other languages — a consequence of increasingly diverse immigration.

In the last census, in 2006, the number of people who called French their mother tongue was almost — but not quite — on par with the number of people who identify other languages as their first.

If the trend lines continue, as the experts expect they will, they could cross come Wednesday. Measured in terms of percentage of the total population in Canada, French is expected to continue its long, slow decline as a mother tongue and “other” languages will continue their ascent, with the number of allophones — those with a mother tongue other than Canada’s two official languages — surpassing their francophone counterparts.

So have we reached the point where the twin forces unleashed during the 1970s are now competing forces, with multiculturalism drowning out bilingualism?

August 24, 2012

The diminishing importance of borders in a supranational world

Filed under: Government, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:11

At sp!ked, Angus Kennedy reviews The Significance of Borders, a new book by Thierry Baudet:

A controversial Dutch columnist for NRC Handelsblad, a lawyer and historian at the University of Leiden, Baudet argues that representative government and the rule of law is impossible without the nation state. But today, he argues, the nation is under attack from two directions.

First it is under attack from supranationalism, that is, from institutions like the European Court of Human Rights, the UN Security Council, and, most dramatically, the European Union. So while nations retain sovereignty at a formal level, increasing degrees of ‘material sovereignty’ have been acquired by supranational organisations. Baudet argues, for instance, that the official aim of the EU ‘is the negation of the concept of statehood’, because the nation state is held responsible, most notably by German theorists, for war. The EU’s immanent federalist logic leads to the necessary extension of its bureaucratic power (taking more and more countries into its orbit). Or — as an illustration of the attack on the democratic basis of national sovereignty — take the contempt in which the ECHR holds Britain for denying convicted prisoners the right to vote: this despite the fact that parliament voted 234 votes to 22 against the proposal. It seems the ECHR is happy to demand Britain change laws upheld by its own democracy.

Second, self-government is also under attack from below. Firstly, in the form of multiculturalism and its official support, legal pluralism (where the law is applied with cultural ‘sensitivity’ rather than justly). Secondly, from cultural diversity, which rejects the idea of a British or a Dutch identity in favour of overlapping multiple, provisional and lightly held, identities. Baudet gives the example of the Dutch crown princess, Máxima, who declared in 2007 that ‘the Dutch identity does not exist’, that the world has ‘open borders’ and that ‘it is not either-or. But and-and.’ When royalty — once the very symbol of national sovereignty — refuses to discriminate between citizens and outsiders, then even the most ardent internationalist might begin to smell a rat.

As Baudet argues, without a community of interest, a ‘we’, there is nothing. He notes that the ECHR outlaws ‘discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status’. Everyone must be treated equally. Baudet is correct to point out that such a widely drawn attack on discrimination ‘must necessarily implicate the citizens’ indifference towards those criteria’. Any form of particularity, of which nationality is one, is denied in the name of a totalising universality. The effect is not the widening of ‘minds and sympathies’ but rather their ‘Balkanisation’. In the process, the law becomes ‘no longer “ours” or “from within”, but from “out there”’. Our responsibility is eroded and our capacity to decide for ourselves (however we constitute that ‘we’) is further diminished, both at the level of the nation state, historically the basis for constituting a self-governing ‘we’, and at the level of the individual citizen.

July 19, 2012

Multiculturalism and suttee in the Raj

Filed under: Britain, History, India, Law, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:30

ESR on a famous incident in British India in the 1840s:

The first lesson is for the various sorts who call themselves “multiculturalists” and “moral relativists”. Napier showed us that these ostensibly liberating doctrines actually translate into “might makes right” — that, in the absence of a common normative ethical framework, disputes about “custom” will be won by the tribe with the most ability and will to use force.

The second lesson is for people who, having noticed than relativism and multiculturism are a road to ruination and blood, then argue that we must fall back on religion as the only possible source of truly universal ethical norms (If God is dead, is anything permissible?). Notice that the would-be widow-burners are priests? The “custom” they are arguing for is exactly their bid in the game of if-you-accept-my-religious-premises.

Napier, in promising those priests a hanging, says nothing of any religious counter-conviction of his own. And it would make no difference to the lesson if he had — except, perhaps, to underline the point that religion is just another form of tribal particularism and thus fundamentally unable to lift us away from the bloody muck of might-makes-right.

September 28, 2011

Ed West: The utopian pipe dreams of the European project

Filed under: Europe, History, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 08:55

Ed West bids an unfond farewell to the Euro (and the European Union):

The diversity delusion and the euro delusion are both symptoms of a similar pseudo-religious mania. Both sprung from a noble attempt to ensure that the horrors of 1914-1945, inspired by nationalism and scientific racism, were never repeated. Both make them more likely to be repeated. Jean Monnet, architect and first president of the European Coal and Steel Community, conceived the idea of a United States of Europe in order to ensure such wars never happened again, through a new empire in which nationalism had been erased. Because Monnet was opposed by Charles de Gaulle, who favoured a Europe of nations, he therefore he developed the “Monnet method” of “integration by stealth”, a policy that ultimately led to the tragedy of economic union.

Perhaps more influential still was Alexandre Kojeve, who set up the embryonic European Union and influenced a generation of pro-EU thinkers in France. He came up with the “end of history” theme, whereby national boundaries and exclusive communities would wash away and a new world without borders would emerge. The EU’s vapid motto, United in diversity, reflects this neo-Christian utopianism.

Without exception the guilty men of Europe also shared, and still, share, the diversity delusion. The Liberal Democrats have entirely signed up, and most of the Labour Party too, although the Tories must share the blame too. Only one senior Tory spoke up against both mass immigration and the Common Market, Enoch Powell (who was also a voice in the wilderness in opposing Keynesian policies — only Paul the Octopus in recent years has been more right). Powell’s provocative language certainly helped his opponents, but as immigration is by its very nature a more toxic subject, so milder opponents have been silenced, leaving only the cranks, oddballs and extremists to represent opposition to this new utopia. This in turn makes it easier to present critics as extremists, just as even a couple of years ago opponents of the euro were labeled extremists and xenophobes. Contrary to what proponents of this delusion claim, it is not about xenophobia or racism; the issue, as Charles Moore wrote on Saturday, is one of sovereignty, and sovereignty relies on the legitimacy that only nations can provide.

Instead, as Roger Scruton noted, European intellectuals tried to “discard national loyalty and to replace it with the cosmopolitan ideals of the Enlightenment… The problem… is that cosmopolitan ideals are the property of an elite and will never be shared by the mass of human kind.”

The European project was a utopian idea, and I suspect that Britain’s peripheral part in the third great stupid, European idea of the last century will soon be over. National loyalty, whatever the elites feel, is here to stay. I guess we’re all extremists now.

June 24, 2011

“Damn! Another cursed Mordecai!”

Filed under: Books, Cancon, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:02

Barbara Kay takes issue with the token that Montreal has chosen to commemorate Mordecai Richler:

Mordecai Richler is Canada’s biggest claim to literary fame. If he had been born and lived in any other province but Quebec there would have been an outpouring of ideas on how to commemorate his life and achievements: perhaps renaming streets in his honour, building schools bearing his name, or erecting a statue featuring the disheveled genius wryly peering over his pince-nez at a smoked meat sandwich on wry…er, rye.

Instead Montreal’s political mandarins have decided he is getting a gazebo — a crummy little open pavilion at the foot of Mount Royal, with no known connection to the author. A place for people to come in out of the rain. Not quite a public toilet, but close.

That’s like naming the change house at an outdoor skating rink after Margaret Atwood, a pellet dispenser at the zoo after Yann Martel, or a maintenance shed after Margaret Laurence. But then, if Mordecai Richler had been born outside Quebec, maybe he wouldn’t have been inspired to the kind of savage indignation that made him such a household word (and often not in a good way) in his native Montreal.

She provides a rather more appropriate memorial gesture:

Here’s an idea: Montreal is riddled with potholes. The French for “pothole” is “nid-de-poule,” literally a chicken’s nest. How about if the word is officially changed to “mort-de-caille(ou)” which means “death of stone” (well, death of pebble, close enough). Henceforth let all Montreal potholes be called Mordecais. In this way, his name will forever be on every Montrealer’s lips, because Montreal potholes are ubiquitous and eternal, and yet not in a good way – “Damn! Another cursed Mordecai!” I think Richler himself would have appreciated the irony, and approved.

June 9, 2011

Those ungrateful peasants

Filed under: Europe, Government, Humour — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:09

I had wondered about the origins of that bit of verse:

I asked if people were perhaps not tricked, but legitimately voting against the left because they objected to socialist policies such a massive spending and multiculturalism.

He responded that these issues were indeed difficult for ‘common people’ to comprehend, and therefore for the right to take advantage of. He reiterated however that the problem was not with the policies, it was that people did not ‘understand’.

This was a revealing statement, for it is a typical line of thinking across the left-wing political spectrum, from the most hardened communist to the most moderate social-democrat. While all leftists claim to be for the ‘people’, at the same time they have utter contempt for the people.

They believe they know what is best for the people, and if the people — uppity ungrateful peasants — object, then the people be damned.

Bertolt Brecht — ironically himself a dedicated Marxist — poked fun at this leftist mentality in a now famous poem, Die Lösung (The Solution), following a workers uprising against the Communist East German government in 1956.

    After the uprising of the 17th of June
    The Secretary of the Writers Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

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