Saturday, May 31, 2008

Argue Like Right Wingers

I think it's time to consider whether or not we on the progressive, left wing of politics ought to start arguing with right wingers the way they argue with us.

You might be thinking: don't we all argue the same way, using facts, logic, reason and persuasive rhetoric?

No, actually we don't. You don't have to look too far to find that the debating tactics of the left usually rely on reasonable argument based on concern for fellow human beings, both within one's nation and outside of it and tolerance of different ideas. Yes, there's name calling on both sides, but the right wing has a different set of tactics. I can demonstrate this by arguing the left wing point of view in the manner of right wing argumentation.

I will begin now:

Why do you conservatives hate Canada?

Your knee-jerk anti-Canadianism disgusts me. Every time anything happens anywhere in the world, all that you people can do is blame Canada first. You blame the health care system that the majority of Canadians support. You blame our attitude of collective responsibilty for one another. You blame our desire for peaceful resolutions to all of the international conflicts in the world. Why do you hate the peace, health and cooperation that Canadians love? Why do you hate Canada?

Why do you hate our troops so much?

The majority of Canadians want our troops to be used to support international peace and defend our nation. But you right wingers want them out there fighting aggressive wars in other countries. You want our troops to be in danger. Therefore, you must hate the troops. Why do you hate them so much?

(Please note: this is really easy. I had no idea until I tried how little brainpower it takes to "argue" like this.)

You right wingers are so unpatriotic.

You don't support any of the ideals that have made our country great: our care for fellow human beings; our desire for peace; our economic security. How can you consider yourselves Canadian and not stand for these Canadian ideals? You're a bunch of Canada haters, is what you are ... a bunch of self-hating Canadians. When are you going to grow up and realize that in the real word, adults use peace and diplomacy as the real answers that lead to real happiness? When will you learn that war-mongering is just a waste of resources and this childish "war is unavoidable" thing you have going on is just ridiculous playground bullying and not supported by history?

(Oops, I may have used a "fact" there. That doesn't belong in this style of rhetoric.)

Also, you act just like Hitler used to. I don't have to back that up. It's enough just to shout "Hitler" at you, or maybe just mention Big Lie Theory and let the implication ride.

Now I want all you knee-jerk anti-Canadian, troop-hating, unpatriotic, Hitler-like right wingers to top those "arguments".

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Friday, May 30, 2008

The Death of Multiculturalism

I don't read the Toronto Sun very often, but this particular piece on the death of multiculturalism caught my eye. It's a little bit creepy, a little bit of a declaration of holy war, and also a good chunk of simply wrong.

I was a bit confused at first by how the writer felt that the attacks of September 11 could bring an end to halal delicatessens, freedom of religion, Caribana, Oktoberfest, multi-lingual Canadians and people who wear different hats.

It took me a while to understand why. The author is so ensconced in his own strawman definition of multiculturalism that he didn't bother telling the rest of us what it really means until further down the article:
The idea that all cultures are equal in merit and deserving respect ...

Is that what multiculturalism means? I had no idea.

I thought it meant that we accept people from other cultures with different ideas and different traditions. I thought it meant permitting people to practice their various traditions. I thought it meant absorbing what we like in to our own way of life without discrimination based on appearances.

Indeed, we should be and we are practical and rational about this. We took a long time to consider whether a Sikh should get to wear his headgear as opposed to the standard uniform of a police officer.

But if you come from a place where it's permissible to kill your daughter because she got pregnant out of wedlock or married the wrong guy then you're going to find yourself in jail. No deference to "multiculturalism" is going to save you. It doesn't work for Christians and it doesn't work for Muslims or anyone else.

No one who believes in "multiculturalism" thinks it means running jets in to buildings to kill people. Nor do I see any justification for thinking that allowing people to bring their beliefs and traditions with them was even a proximate cause of 9/11. The root cause of 9/11 was the American government breeding religious fanatics in Afghanistan and then forgetting to keep track of them and meanwhile taking actions that enraged their fanaticism.

I do not write this to justify 9/11, but to explain why it happened. And it had nothing to do with multiculturalism.

If it did, why did 9/11 happen in the United States and not in Canada, which has policies much more amenable to multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism doesn't mean letting people come to your country to do whatever they want.

It means not being afraid of people who are different. It means not forcing people to conform simply because you're afraid.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Murdering Indians

One of the difficulties with being an atheist is the lack of really good curses. I have to admit that this is one area where the religious people absolutely excel beyond us without question.

The Canadian government, since its inception so long ago, has always led a campaign to take everything they can from the native population. I sometimes wonder if the conservative fears about Muslim immigration stem from the knowledge that, yes, it is possible for immigration to wipe out a culture. After all, we've nearly done it, haven't we?

So the Canadian government, long ago, established Indian Residential Schools - basically hellholes (again, a non-religious reference simply doesn't do) where Indian children had their culture and language literally beaten out of them. And if the beatings didn't work, they were simply beaten until dead. Or starved. Or left out in the snow to die.

Now you'd like to say, "Naw, that didn't happen. It's left wing, liberal, progressive, blame-Canada-first jerks making it all up."

That argument now fails.

An independent tribunal has now identified 28 different locations - all across Canada - where children are buried in mass graves. The natives are protecting these sites so that they are not covered up by the government and the churches who created them.

Mass graves - in Canada.

Non-religious curses utterly fail me at a time like this. This is not the behaviour I expect from my country.

But there's nothing in the press about this dark, depressing chapter of our history - a chapter over a century long that ended only two decades ago. If people knew, would they make a change? Would the people force the government to change its treatment of the native population that it has abused so long?

Do people even care?

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On Feminism and Things I Used to Believe

I remember reading that young people are liberal and progressive and as they get older they get more conservative.

I'm noticing that the opposite is true for me. Sure, my high school had these psycho women who would yell at you for giving a door a polite extra shove open. And sure, my university newspaper would print articles with inflammatory feminist rhetoric that began with "Men, rape is wrong!".

Yes, these and other stupid techniques were actually alienating the men that they needed on their side and so they consigned themselves to an adversarial campaign that they could not win.

But then I watch a video like the one here and I realize that, yeah, the feminists were right to protest their treatment. There is no "reverse discrimination". There is no bias against white men. If Janet Jackson being vilified and fined because someone ripped off her clothes doesn't prove something is wrong, I don't what does.

White men have all the opportunity they could ever want. No one criticizes Stephen Harper for wearing loose t-shirts that don't look masculine enough. No one worries about the area of chest flesh shown off by a man. You never hear about a politician sounding too much like our overbearing or too-distant fathers.

Oh, what I would give to have heard an editorial start with, "Ralph Klein will lose the votes of women this time around after his drunken tirade in a mission shelter. He's simply reminding too many women of their drunken, molesting uncles."

No, I'm not a Hillary Clinton fan. While she and her husband started out with a bold, progressive plan to bring national health care to their country, they wimped out and Clinton is now owned by the private health care industry. But seriously, why did we have all of this ridiculous analysis of her clothing, her aura of "calculation", her "nagging" voice and all of this other nonsense?

Long way to go. Long way to do.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Arguing with the Religious

If this doesn't epitomize every Interwebs argument I've ever had with a religious person, I don't know what else could. The certainty without evidence, the unwillingness to test, the denial, the anger ...

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Bernier Resigns?

This absolutely floors me. Of all the stupid scandals and ridiculous things this Conservative government is doing, it's the biker girlfriend bit that actually causes a resignation.

I wrote a while back that I didn't care about Maxime Bernier's girlfriend and I still don't. The fact that she hung out with biker gangs (what, people can't change?) doesn't alter the fact that he was apparently leaving classifed documents at her place.

Breaking up is hard to do smoothly, though, so it can't always be on the best of terms. If your girlfriend is going on TV to trash you, you know it didn't go well.

Still, this government has worse things going on - like sending Canadian troops in to Iraq, like continuing to turn prisoners over the Afghanistan government, like promoting North American Energy Security over Canadian Energy Security.

And we go after the guy with the biker girlfriend?

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