Dumb and dumber about Canadian history (including occupying Iceland)

Posted December 20th, 2010 in Canada, International by MarkOttawa

A post very much to the point at Taylor Empire Airways:

Avoiding history

…There is a certain strain of thought in the Canadian body politic that likes to imagine the past not as it actually was, but as one might have wished it to be through the lens of current opinion.

In giving way to such tendencies we partake in what Jean-François Lyotard called “memorial-forgetful history”; this is the construction of a historical narrative which distorts the story of the past into its own present image, conveniently forgetting all that might be contradictory.  I’m a little disappointed that Craig and Mark Kielburger—men who have earned one of the country’s highest honours for merit, the Order of Canada—seem to engage in this practice.  Writing in the National Post‘s Full Comment blog, Mr. Matt Gurney takes the Toronto Star‘s Kielberger brothers to task for having a particularly narrow view of Canadian history.

There’s a lot to pick apart in their column, but let’s start where they did. Here’s their intro:

Last month, archaeologists unearthed a street lined with sphinxes in the Egyptian city of Luxor. We have to wonder if they found any remnants of Canada’s once-strong record on foreign policy down there.

Maybe that’s a little harsh. Nonetheless, Canada’s prominence on the international stage started back in 1956 when Lester B. Pearson launched the world’s first peacekeeping mission during the Suez Crisis.

… the contention that Canada sprang into being the moment Mr. Pearson accepted his Peace Prize, while much beloved of starry eyed progressives, kind of skips over a few chapters of Canadian history. History isn’t for everyone, of course, so while I might not expect them to know much about the Reciprocity Treaty, it’s not unfair to expect to them to know that there were two really big wars — world wars, very much on the “international stage” — that Canada played a major, disproportionately large role in. Right?…

Read on for Iceland.  In fact one might well argue that the Suez Crisis was just about the last time Canada played so prominent a role internationally (Trudeau got sporadic attention abroad as a celebrity, not for his policies or influence); and it is telling that today almost no-one outside Canada mentions that role–see, e.g., here and esp. here.


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The accelerating decline of Mother Corpse, radio version

Posted December 16th, 2010 in Afghanistan, Canada, International, pop culture by MarkOttawa

When will the fall be made final?  Quelle misère out of which it should be put. At Taylor Empire Airways:

I am Canadian’ pitchman joins As It Happens

I gave up on CBC Radio right around the time my twenties disappeared into the rear-view mirror…

Just to age myself I started giving up on their radio about 15 years ago moving into my late 40s. All I can listen to now (despite the global warming fixation) is Quirks and Quarks, almost always pretty interesting. Ah, for Basic Black.

From a 2006 post at Daimnation!:

CBC radio dying too/Sook-Yin Lee sucks

In the car, with nothing else to consider, I listened Saturday, July 22, for a while to Definitely Not the Opera. The show was spending large amounts of our money to do special programs from New Orleans.

Host Sook-Yin Lee achieved a truly great moment in postmodern irony. She asked some nice old black guy she was interviewing whether he considered her a lady. He replied that he certainly did unless evidence otherwise came to his attention, for instance that a woman was, say, truly sexually loose. Ms Lee ragged him about this for some time (what a hoot) knowing full well that the fellow did not know this: “Sook-Yin Lee Funny Porn Movie Shortbus”.

How utterly disgusting, arrogant and condescending. And you’re paying for it.

Thank goodness for this:

Of course, the fact that Lee isn’t particularly good looking helps make her being naked and having sex un-erotic.

Chris Taylor has another post, with great photos, of CBC types outside the wire:

CBC Radio, 1943-44

There was a rather different view about reporting one’s country’s wars a while back or, as the French say, autres temps, autres moeurs.


The Grand Mufti and the Nazis–and the NY Times

Posted December 12th, 2010 in International, Islam, united states by MarkOttawa

The Gray Lady has interesting priorities.  Here’s the headline:

Declassified Papers Show U.S. Recruited Ex-Nazis

Then there’s this, starting at the fourth para and not considered worthy of a headline mention:

In chilling detail, the report also elaborates on the close working relationship between Nazi leaders and the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini [see the photos here, plus "The Mufti and the Holocaust"], who later claimed that he sought refuge in wartime Germany only to avoid arrest by the British.

In fact, the report says, the Muslim leader was paid “an absolute fortune” of 50,000 marks a month (when a German field marshal was making 25,000 marks a year). It also said he energetically recruited Muslims for the SS, the Nazi Party’s elite military command, and was promised that he would be installed as the leader of Palestine after German troops drove out the British and exterminated more than 350,000 Jews there.

On Nov. 28, 1941, the authors say, Hitler told Mr. Husseini that the Afrika Corps and German troops deployed from the Caucasus region would liberate Arabs in the Middle East and that “Germany’s only objective there would be the destruction of the Jews.”

The report details how Mr. Husseini himself was allowed to flee after the war to Syria — he was in the custody of the French, who did not want to alienate Middle East regimes — and how high-ranking Nazis escaped from Germany to become advisers to anti-Israeli Arab leaders and “were able to carry on and transmit to others Nazi racial-ideological anti-Semitism.”

“You have an actual contract between officials of the Nazi Foreign Ministry with Arab leaders, including Husseini, extending after the war because they saw a cause they believed in,” [co-author of the report] Dr. Breitman said. “And after the war, you have real Nazi war criminals — Wilhelm Beisner, Franz Rademacher and Alois Brunner — who were quite influential in Arab countries.”..

The report, “Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence and the Cold War,” grew out of an interagency group created by Congress to identify, declassify and release federal records on Nazi war crimes and on Allied efforts to hold war criminals accountable. It is drawn from a sampling of 1,100 C.I.A files and 1.2 million Army counterintelligence files that were not declassified until after the group issued its final report in 2007…

One photo:


Update: A version of this post is in the National Post’s “Full Comment”:


A non-PC former politician, or, keeping some faith, baby…

Posted November 15th, 2010 in Canada, International, Islam by MarkOttawa

…in Western values and the need to change some others.  Evan Solomon, on CBC News Channel’s Power & Politics, seems a bit flummoxed by Tony Blair–especially on the, er, challenges facing Islam.  Canadian, and American, politicians just do not speak like this.  Video here and here.

As not-too-distant (one might just think) background, a story about how Prime Minister Mackenzie King put it in 1939:

Canadian Soldiers Defend Faith Prime Minister Says

Present Conflict for Freedom of Mind and Soul As Well As Nation


Autres temps, autres…And heck, I’m just an atheist child of the enlightenment. That of which that other religion just might need a bit. One of Mr Blair’s points.

Whilst today:

What certain Muslims want: “self-imposed isolation”

Not much enlightenment there. Almost mediæval one might almost say.



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Rory the Tory

Posted November 12th, 2010 in Afghanistan, International by MarkOttawa

I cannot imagine that Mr Stewart has not read Patrick Leigh Fermor, who also did considerable walking (see here) and some remarkable things during the Second World War moreover–e.g. this at the website devoted to Mr Leigh Fermor.  I do not think that Mr Stewart quite measures up to the same standard.

But then perhaps he really thinks he is Winston.  ¿Quién sabe? Rory the Tory’s views on Afstan from last year are here.  Still, one would like to have done some of the things…


“Bloodlands”: Where WW II in Europe was really fought…

Posted October 18th, 2010 in International, united states by MarkOttawa

…and preceding horrific things.  From a fair and balanced review of Timothy Snyder’s new book, by Matthew Kaminski:

Savagery in the East
How Stalin and then Hitler turned the borderlands of Eastern Europe into killing fields

The story of World War II, like that of most wars, usually gets told by the victors. Diplomatic and military accounts are set largely in the West and star the morally upright Allies—the U.S., Britain and Soviet Union—in battles against fascism. The Holocaust gets its own separate history, as a case apart in its genocidal intent and human tragedy.

Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” forces a dramatic shift in these perceptions. First, there is the setting: the flat and marshy eastern borderlands—inhabited by Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians and others—that Stalin and then Hitler turned into what Mr. Snyder calls the “bloodlands.” No GIs fought on or liberated this soil, so the fate of its people never entered the collective Western imagination. Yet this was the true heart of the European conflict. By Mr. Snyder’s “conservative” reckoning, 14 million people were shot, deliberately starved or gassed while Hitler and Stalin were in power. All these dead were noncombatants. Mr. Snyder puts a third of the total on Stalin’s account…


…far from minimizing Jewish suffering, “Bloodlands” gives a fuller picture of the Nazi killing machine. Auschwitz, which wasn’t purely a “death camp,” lives on in our memory due in large part to those who lived to tell the tale. Through his access to Eastern European sources, Mr. Snyder also takes the reader to places like Babi Yar, Treblinka and Belzec [more here on the latter two and other extermination camps that very few now know about; they were the essence of the massacre of the Jews outside the Soviet Union before Auschwitz]. These were Nazi mass-murder sites that left virtually no survivors.

Yet Mr. Snyder’s book does make it clear that Hitler’s “Final Solution,” the purge of European Jewry, was not a fully original idea. A decade before, Stalin had set out to annihilate the Ukrainian peasant class, whose “national” sentiments he perceived as a threat to his Soviet utopia. The collectivization of agriculture was the weapon of choice. Implemented savagely, collectivization brought famine. In the spring of 1933 people in Ukraine were dying at a rate of 10,000 per day.

Stalin then turned on other target groups in the Soviet Union…

In the grim postscript to World War II, millions of Poles, Ukrainians, Balts and Germans were ethnically cleansed from lands they had occupied for generations. Churchill and Roosevelt let Stalin redraw Europe’s borders, and all the bloodlands fell into his hands. Unlike Hitler, Stalin realized his dreams of a global empire. His last murderous act was to launch another anti-Semitic purge, in late 1952, before he himself died in early 1953.

“Bloodlands” manages to clarify as well as darken our view of this era. “To dismiss the Nazis or the Soviets as beyond . . . historical understanding is to fall into their moral trap,” Mr. Snyder writes. “The safer route is to realize that their motives for mass killing, however revolting to us, made sense to them.”

Articles by Mr Snyder in the New York Review of Books are here.


Crude horror, or, let the U-boats win

Posted July 30th, 2010 in Canada, Climate Change, International, united states by MarkOttawa

To watch this NBC Nightly News video piece is perhaps only to conclude that oil is just too dangerous to produce.

To read this Globe and Mail news story is perhaps only to conclude that oil is just too dangerous to move by pipeline.

Skip back to 1942 for this story:

U-boat tanker sinkings rise relentlessly
Environmental costs call Allies’ war effort into question


And that tanker did not even sink.

Update alternative: Really?


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