Monthly Archives: September 2015

Enter the Dragon

001The French language debate – a rite in which each leader demonstrates his or her grasp of French and Quebec issues – turned up something interesting. Mulcair and Trudeau think the niqab is perfectly suitable attire for taking your citizenship oath: Harper and Duceppe don’t.

Neither, it turns out, do 80% of Canadians and 90% of Quebecers. There’s a fine old fight going on at Dawg’s blog in which Dawg himself says,

The niqab, after all, is just synedoche for the Muslim presence in Canada. In the service of hatred and fear, articles of ethnic clothing are completely interchangeable.

The electorate has become a mob. And how easy it was. dr.dawg

While I certainly don’t agree that the electorate has become a mob, I think Dawg is exactly right when he says that the niqab has become “synedoche for the Muslim presence in Canada” (synedoche means a part which represents the whole (yes, I had to look it up too)).

All of a sudden the people of Canada have the opportunity to express their views about Muslim immigration. Perhaps not directly – after all the niqab is not a particularly good proxy for Islam as it is not required religiously and not all Muslim women feel compelled to wear it – but far more overtly than the topic has ever been broached before.

Dawg ascribes all manner of sinister motives to Harper, his Aussie advisor and the CPC in bringing this up at all. For all I know this may very well be an exercise in wedge politics. If it is then it is about time that this wedge be tested.

Immigration policy in Canada has never really been put to any sort of popular test. Nor has the ruling class’s conviction that the only thing which matters about Islam is Islamophobia. Dawg lines up nicely with the ruling class and, in the lively comments, states,

There IS no legitimate debate about the degree a government should be prepared to extend human rights to minorities. Rights should never be up for debate, and frankly I don’t give a damn what Chantal (Hebert) says to the contrary. dr dawg

Apparently, well over 80% of Canadians disagree with this position.

Partially, I think, the debate turns on whether one sees Muslim immigration as just another instance of immigration or if one sees such immigration, particularly from the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia, as potentially more problematic than other sorts of immigration.

There are thousands of Muslim immigrants to Canada who lead rich, full integrated lives as Canadians. I am thinking particularly of the several hundred thousand Ismailis who arrived as refugees in the 1970s and have gone on to build vibrant, integrated communities all over Canada.

However, there is a growing minority of Muslims who have moved to Canada but who seem incapable of leaving their old countries, customs and culture behind. The burkas at Walmart are one thing, the demand for segregated swimming times another, the terrorism and support for Sharia law yet another.

Over at Dawg’s the argument seems to be that even noticing that there are Muslim immigrants who do not integrate well into Canadian society is bigoted or racist. Which it may well be; but Canadians have the right to at least discuss how they would like their country to evolve. Should we welcome immigrants from parts of the world where anti-Semitism is matter of fact? Where women are treated as chattels? Where support for the barbarity of Sharia law is a religious duty?

Harper – perhaps by design, perhaps by accident – has given Canadians the opportunity to discuss and, maybe, vote based upon their particular answer to the question of whether, in general, we should accommodate the religious, cultural and political demands of Islam.

I suspect he has won the election by giving Canadians that choice.

[And, as a bonus, I rather doubt that there are any Canadians other than the editorial board of the Globe and Mail, who don’t take a certain satisfaction when convicted terrorists are stripped of their Canadian citizenship. Just as few Canadians lamented when various Nazi war criminals lost their citizenship.]

Tagged , , ,

A Distant Sound of Hooves: EKOS

Canadian Election

Is this the race we’re watching?

Canadian mainstream media knows only one way to cover an election: it is always a horse race with polls coming out weekly or even daily in which one party or another edges ahead or falls behind by less than the margin of error.

Polls are funny things: they give a particular picture of the race at a particular time without providing much by the way of explanation. And, in Canada, the most reported “national” polls measure a race which does not exists. We don’t vote nationally or even province by province: we vote riding by riding.

The bright boys in the Conservative and NDP war rooms know this and, apparently, someone has been kind enough to explain the rudiments to the geniuses surrounding Trudeau. The fact is that the election turns on, at most, 100 ridings scattered across Canada. Amusingly, these are not the same ridings for each party.

With less than a month to go to election day, but with a month of campaigning and polling behind them, each of the parties will be able to focus its efforts on a) marginal seats where that party’s sitting candidate may lose, b) competitive ridings where that party’s candidate might win a riding previously held by another party.

Talk of the Blue Wave or Orange Crush is like the English pre-WWI talking about rolling the Huns up by Christmas: now we are in trench warfare. And now, small differences are all that matter. Exciting as it may be for the Greens to run 5% nationally, they are running more or less even in Victoria which would up their seat count to 2 and knock an NDP held seat off Mulcair’s search for a plurality of House of Commons seats. And there are ridings like this across Canada.

At the same time, the trench war is influenced by the perception of who is actually winning the overall election. Political scientists talk about bandwagon effects. Here Harper has the huge advantage of incumbency. For every Harper Derangement Syndrome voter out there, there are at least one or two voters who, while they don’t love Harper, prefer the devil they know.

EKOS is out with a poll which has the CPC ahead with 35.4, the NDP with 24.5 and the Libs with 26.3. And there is this:

The poll results now show the Conservatives with clear leads in British Columbia, Alberta, the Prairie provinces and in Ontario, where 38.7 per cent of respondents are backing the Tories compared to 30.3 per cent for the Liberals and 19.9 per cent for the NDP. toronto star

If that Ontario number is even close to right it suggests that for all the noise, neither Trudeau nor Mulcair have actually connected with the voters they need. Because this poll deviates from the rest of the polling suggesting a very close race indeed, it is going to be called an outlier. And, coming three weeks before the election, it is not terrifically predictive; but it will certainly motivate the CPC troops as they fight riding by riding.



False Hope

migrants, europe, syrian“Why are they stopping us now? We came to Europe because we saw the Germans on TV telling us they wanted us to come to Europe, saying welcome, welcome,” said Mohammed, 28, who worked at a cellphone shop in Aleppo, Syria, and spent a night at the hotel in Zagreb. “And now there are all these problems and all this confusion.” washington post

There is a difference between giving respite to refugees from a war zone and offering economic opportunities to economically desperate people. Both are laudable but huge trouble can erupt when one is conflated with the other.

With refugees the objective is to get them out of harms way and to take care of them. This can be achieved pretty much anywhere that is not in danger of direct attack. So, for example, the displaced Syrians in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are all in relative safety. They need to be taken care of but that is a matter of money and logistics.

Taking on economic migrants is about what those migrants have to offer and what the host country needs. No country needs more welfare recipients. Most European countries could use young, well trained, workers as their populations are aging and their birth rates falling. But to get those workers these countries need to be selective.

The tragedy in Syria – where the civilian population is trapped in a multi-dimensional war zone – has created refugees and economic migrants. But the Europeans persist in the illusion that all the people heading north should be considered refugees.

There will be a bitter day of reckoning when this illusion is exposed. bitter for the Euros who were sucked in by their governing classes and bitter for the economic migrants who will discover that the skills they have, are not the skills which the German economic juggernaut can really use. The Euros, and especially the Germans, need to eliminate the sloppy thinking and loose language which are luring people like the poor Syrian quoted to a bleak future in countries which do not want or need them.

Tagged , ,

The End of Abbott

1442215778612Our friends in Australia play politics as a blood sport. Tony Abbott, Prime Minister for less than two years, was dumped in what the Aussies delightfully call a “party room spill” which is basically a vote of the party MPs. He will be replaced by the guy who he stabbed a few years previously, Malcolm Turnbull. I say will be, in fact, the replacement has already taken place. Turnbull will be the fifth Prime Minister Australia has had in five years.

Abbott was a profoundly conservative man. But, unfortunately, he felt he had to hedge his conservatism much like Harper has hedged his. He refused to follow the logic of his positions allowing the idea of governing moderately to displace the idea of governing well. For example, he campaigned against the carbon tax introduced by Labour (after promises not to) knowing full well that the science behind CO2 hysteria was deeply flawed. However, instead of just scrapping the tax he replaced it with a system of payments to large carbon dioxide emitters which cost a great deal of money and which would not have made the slightest difference to world temperature. He repeated this sort of behaviour on a number of other files.

Not that it did him the slightest good. Abbott was reviled in the Australian media – especially the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – and some of the newspapers. If you think Harper Derangement Syndrome is bad in the Canadian Media Party you simply would not believe the levels of vitriol Abbott attracted down under.

I suspect he could have survived all that had he, instead of trimming to placate his critics, driven his conservative agenda much harder. And that would have included dumping Turnbull from the Communications portfolio where he was notionally in charge of the ABC. He could have done much better by scrapping the whole idea of carbon dioxide reduction and appointing a serious, and properly sceptical, Royal Commission to look into both the science and economics of climate alarmism.

Conservative politicians need to realize that there is nothing to be gained trying to placate the media and the left. The media party is never going to like you or give you a fair shake. You will be just as hated pursuing a forthright conservative agenda as you will if you tip toe in the direction of the right.

I am sorry to see Abbott go. Turnbull is a proven skunk and a wet when it comes to everything from climate to the boats which Howard and later Abbott succeeded in stopping. But the sort of cocktail circuit compromises Abbott felt he had to make to keep the jackals in the press at bay, doomed this very decent man.

(Andrew Bolt is the Oz go-to guy and the comments are worth reading. The conservative interest in Australia is not a happy camp. Not happy at all.)

Tagged , ,

The Lazy Left, Migrants and Jeremy Corbyn

gettyimages-487150944There are large patches of decent, well-meaning, people on the left whose eagerness to help anyone who might be “oppressed” is matched only by their zeal in denouncing people who question if such help may be doing more harm than good.

At the moment, there are around 800,000 migrants either in Europe or on their way. The luvvies on the left see each one of these migrants as a potential Anne Frank fleeing the evils of ISIS, Assad and assorted other nasties. Every one of the migrants is granted instant refugee status in the good hearts of the lefties because these kind souls are too lazy to even try to make distinctions.

Making distinctions is what intellectually engaged people do. There is an apparent difference between a family driven from their home a week ago and unable to register at a refugee camp and the young men who, the week before, were driving such families from their homes. But once the hunter and the hunted head off in the general direction of Germany, the lazy left transforms them into “refugees” and any attempt to sort sheep from goats is nothing but racist, fascist oppression.

Suggesting that the migrant flow might best be contained in the Middle East or that it would be a good idea to take on ISIS seriously and get rid of Assad are seen as failure of compassion. The idea that Europe might imitate Australia and turn the refugees back so as to discourage others from coming is entirely beyond the pale.

When I say “the left” above I used to be speaking of a particular sort of activist leftie who, in Canada, would usually be found at Rabble and at the more virulent anti-Israel events or suggesting the something be Occupied. The time these people saved by not thinking very hard was redeployed into adopting really hard line positions on issues of little concern to the average voter. For various reasons, mainly because the media are equally lazy and nutbars protesting pipelines or announcing that “No one is illegal.” are colourful easy stories to cover, this activist left is surprisingly influential. While it does not make policy, it can shout its agenda into the national conversation and can exercise a heckler’s veto over opinions it disagrees with.

It is no surprise at all that, as soon as the migrants started rolling into Europe, the lefties immediately embraced their cause as a test of Europe’s humanitarian resolve. This happened in Europe and here in Canada where there is a bidding war going on between Mulcair and Trudeau, along with assorted provincial premiers, as to who can promise the greatest compassion by demanding Canada take in ever more “refugees”. The fact neither of these leaders nor the provincial premiers have thought very clearly about the security, social or cultural implications of their bids shows how powerful the luvvie claque can be in Canada.

However, for the moment – and possibly excepting young Justin – the adults still run our politics. The far fringes of lefty thought, while over-represented in the media, are largely ignored in the day to day working of the Canadian Parliament. While a Mulcair government would have more than its fair share of left wingers, almost all of them would be capable – when it came to the point – of making the important distinctions necessary to tell the difference between a refugee, a migrant and an invader. And, perhaps as importantly, they would see a good reason to do so.

The lefties in the UK, having been defeated in the last General Election (which they had convinced themselves they were going to win), have decided to abandon adult supervision and elected Jeremy Corbyn as their next leader. Mr. Corbyn is out on the looney left of Labour. He likes Hamas and Hezbollah, has stated that he can see no proper role anywhere abroad for Britain’s armed forces, wants – of course – to tax the rich, renationalize the railways, is resolutely anti-nuke, deep Green and, needless to say, welcomes refugees in unlimited numbers. To say he is a radical left winger is understatement veering toward sarcasm. And he is terrifically earnest in each and every one of his beliefs.

Corbyn and the luvvies in general are predictably dogmatic because they have largely abandoned any pretence of critical thought. There are no complications in Corbyn land, no ISIS members floating over with the rest of the refugees. And, indeed, from a Corbynite perspective, even if ISIS was sending on battalions of terrorists, Corbyn says he will not bomb ISIS, he wants to talk instead.

There is a wonderfully childlike quality to Corbyn which I can’t help but admire. Unlike the last seriously left wing Leader of the Labour Party, Michael Foot, Corbyn is not an intellectual and has spent no time in and around government or the security services. He has managed to preserve his activist’s innocence of any knowledge of Palestinian terrorism, ISIS atrocities or other bad things in the world apparently by repeating the mantra – “It is America’s fault.”

You don’t have to think very hard once you have that essential key. And it allows you to preserve a touching naivete in the face of everything from migrants to the IRA.

The adults in the Labour Party are appalled. Front benchers are resigning, commentators are taking odds on how long Labour will be out of power, donors are heading to the exits; but it does not matter. For the activists, for the true believers, the election of Corbyn represents the pinnacle of the magical thinking which powers the dogmatic left. They can count on Corbyn to stick to his principles and their agenda no matter what the electoral consequences. There will be no trimming with Corbyn.

All of which will be deeply comforting for the activists because it will ensure that no hard choices, no difficult thinking, will be required of the newly pure Labour Party. Old fuddy duddies, the fiscally responsible, the war mongers who think, perhaps, ISIS might deserve a bit of bombing, the racists who fail to embrace every last migrant with open arms, people who think it important to have a productive as well as fair economy – they are all yesterday’s men. They lack the purity of purpose and the clarity of vision it takes to be a Corbynite and they will be tossed on the ash heap of history in a matter of months if not weeks.

Lazy thinking has triumphed in the Labour Party which, I suspect, means that the Labour Party, as we know it, is over. The adults will take their money, organization and abilities to make hard choices and play somewhere else. Which also means that the Conservative Party will be in government for at least one and perhaps two or three more elections.


Tagged , ,

14 years on – the Crusaders were Right

PolacypodAntiochiI walked down Dunbar Street in Vancouver which had a clear view of YVR. Planes were lined up on the runway in a way I’d never seen. I had been watching the news and took my then 11 year old son up to the bank to pull some money on the principle that cash was always good in a crisis.

In the fourteen years that have passed I have had one more son. I have watched the evolution of the narrative from the Islam is not responsible to the “let’s not be Islamophobic” to the bizarre spectacle of the left trying to make a migrant wave into a test of compassion. I have watched the ham-fisted attempts of the Americans and their allies to fight sensitive wars against barbarians.I have watched victories in Iraq and Afghanistan turn to dust under the inept leadership of Obama and his coven of soft power ninnies. I have watched the West welcome Muslim immigrants with the barest of security checks. I have watched Islamic terror in France, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, England, the United States and, sadly, in Canada.

Several hundred years ago the black tide of Islam rolled across the Middle East, North Africa and on into Europe. Slaughter, rape and vast population displacements brought Islam to an unsuspecting world. And then, odd assortments of Europeans began to fight back. Crusades were launched to take back the Holy Places of Christianity from the Islamic invaders. The Crusaders were a brutal, bigoted lot, just as happy to kill Jews and Orthodox Christians as Muslims. But they understood the essentials: the invading Muslims posed an existential threat to Christian Europe and they had to be stopped.

We are all a little older and a little hardened to the sheer brutality of the Islamists. Some of us, mainly on the left, would like to believe that the terror of 9-11 and all the rest has nothing to do with Islam. They would like to believe that al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and the Muslim Brotherhood have nothing to do with Islam. They would like to believe that if we just left the Middle East alone to get on with its sectarian struggles and the eradication of Israel all would be well with the religion of Peace. When the alarm rang on 9-11 a large part of the left looked, saw largely brown people, concluded “racism” and went back to sleep.

The right’s reaction was, I’m afraid, conditioned by the left. Who wanted to be called a racist for pointing out that Islam was entirely incompatible with liberal democracy? Why court the harassment which attended to pointing out the female genital mutilation and keeping your women in bags was anti-feminist? Suggesting that Islam, at root, was medieval and, by doctrine, incapable of reform got you called Islamophobic and worse. So, unfortunately, the mainstream conservative parties – Republicans, Conservatives in Canada and the UK – bent over backward to disassociate terror from Islam. Even ISIS, that most fundamentally Islamist of organizations was touted by the right as an aberration, not Islam at all.
In the end we either learn the hard lesson of 9/11 – that Islam is antithetical to Western liberal democracy and the values it requires – or we don’t. So far we haven’t. So far we have pretended that radical political Islam is somehow an aberrant offshoot of a housebroken, enlightened Islam. We have ignored the fact that there is no moderate Islam. We ignore men like Turkey’s Erdogan who said,

“The term “moderate Islam” is ugly and offensive — Islam is Islam.

Fourteen years ago, walking down Dunbar, I was expecting the other shoe to drop, another target for mass murder to be taken out. That day the Twin Towers fell, the Pentagon was attacked and half a dozen heroes died as the first casualties of the new war on Islam as they took back control of their plane before it could reach its target.

Read a bit of history and you begin to realize that Islam is, was and always will be the religion of the sword. Our leaders, left and right can pretend otherwise but, ultimately, containing and then pushing back the black tide of Islam is the only way the things we hold dear will survive.

The Crusaders were right.

Tagged ,
%d bloggers like this: