Multiculturalism Is Doomed to Fail

Meant to post this awhile ago…

Much ado has been made about Chancellor Merkel’s comments in regards to multiculturalism in Germany, that it has “utterly failed.”  At least they tried.  Certain former leaders of Germany were decidedly against multicultarism.

But frankly, I’m not surprised.  Multiculturalism is doomed to fail because too many immigrants are stuck in their ways, unwilling to integrate themselves into their new home.  This is partly why the whole idea of emigration has always baffled me.  Here you have people who are so proud of their country that they decide to leave it.  Huh?  Sure, many countries are poorer but if you truly loved your country you would stay there and try to build it into something great.  Of course the receiving nations’s national pride often evolves into xenophobia which is never a good thing but is worse if your country is the kind of place people like to immigrate to.

Of course it goes without saying that this doesn’t apply to refugees.  Refugees are those that leave their homes due to persecution: they don’t have a choice.  I love refugees, but said love has little to do with the people themselves.  I love refugees because I jump at any and every chance to ridicule foreign states possessing subpar human rights records.

Now here comes the twist: none of this applies to Canada, and to a lesser extent, Australia.  Founded by British subjects and populated with an assortment of European immigrants, our two countries were forged in the fire of the two world wars.  Since then it has become increasingly evident that our national identities are fairly shallow.

The Canadian nation began to die after the fall of the Diefenbaker government and we’ve been constitutionally multicultural since 1982.  As for down under, after the demise of White Australia their proximity to Asia and it’s plethora of unpleasant regimes made mass immigration inevitable.  With each passing year the Anzac legend dies a little bit more. Canada is beyond hope but republicanism could still save Australia, provided they want to be saved.

And it is only here, in countries void of a strong central identity, that multiculturalism can truly flourish.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee Redeems Itself… Somewhat

On the 8th of October it was revealed that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize would be awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.  Since the award was first given out in 1901, China has undergone massive change.  Widespread unrest led to the overthrow of the 2000+ year old empire and the institution of a republican government.  The ensuing power vaccuum led to the rise of warlords and the country was only unified in 1928.  Soon after that civil war broke out, followed by Japanese invasion, followed by more civil war resulting in communist takeover of the country. The Nationalists retreat to Taiwan ultimately introducing democracy in the 1990s.

Formal organizations like the Tongmenghui (later the Kuomintang) and the Democracy Party; and loose groupings that emerged from the New Culture, May 4, May 30 and Tangwai movements, the Democracy Wall, the Tiananmen square protests, etc. produced many worthy peacemakers.  And so here is the complete list of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureates:

Liu Xiaobo.

…Well, better late than never I suppose.

Some other possibilities/missed opportunities:
Sun Yat?sen
V. K. Wellington Koo
Y. C. James Yen
Elsie Tu
Wei Jingsheng
Shih Ming?teh
Hu Jia

Here’s hoping that this decade of prizes won’t be as terrible as the last one.

“Woman Is the Nigger of the World”

This one is long and disjointed but it’s important.

Woman Is the Nigger of the World” – John Lennon wrote that song in the early ’70s and I only just recalled it when I was part way through this post. Sadly, although there have been many advances, the phrase still rings true today.

There’s also something else I read from this phrase though I’m unsure if Lennon meant it to be seen this way.  We are obsessed with the idea of racism as the king of all evils.  During the apartheid era, due to its treatment of black people as second?class citizens, South Africa was ostracized by the international community, and rightly so.  But yet today, there are dozens of countries in Africa and Asia that treat women as second?class citizens and not only do they escape ostracism but many are recipients of Western aid.

The common justification for all this is “tradition”, which is b?b?b?bullshit.  Tradition is the reason people play the violin on top of buildings, it doesn’t justify the deprivation of basic human rights.

Last year I visited a local mosque, the Waterloo Masjid.  The imam seemed nice enough but there were a few things that really bothered me.  First, there were separate entrances for men and women.  That by itself, would irritate me but I could live with it.  What was completely unacceptable was that there were segregated worship spaces.  Only men were allowed in the main sanctuary and women had the “choice” of praying in an enclosed balcony above or in a separate room where the prayer leader was visible via closed?circuit television.  Now I’ve heard various reasons for why this is done, most of them from non?Muslim sources but really, I don’t care.  What if at my church (which, incidentally has a female pastor) it was decided that all the Asian people would be banished to a little room by themselves.  That would easily make the front page of the local newspaper; the outrage would be legendary.  Sex segregation is common in mosques worldwide.  Ironically one place where men and women worship together: Mecca.

Not to single out the Muslims, many churches, the Roman Catholics in particular, bar women from their most influential positions (e.g. priesthood).  Justification for this stems from an obsession with 1 Timothy 2:12 and a few other select verses, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. It should be noted that none of these passages are present in the four gospels but rather come from the letters of the Apostle Paul who has a reputation for inventing shit that Jesus himself never said.

I realize race and sex are not the same thing.  There are some forms of sex segregation that have proven quite useful, for example, sports and washrooms.  These relate to the biological differences between men and women and not some imaginary social constructs.  As far as washrooms go, I haven’t been in a women’s washroom for quite some time but from what I can recall as toddler, they truly were separate but equal.  I think more should be done to promote women’s sports although it has to be noted that Canada and the U.S. are way ahead of the rest of the world in this regard. Physically speaking, women have a tendency to be smaller and less strong but if need be they should be judged on those individual properties not on the fact that they are female.  If a job involves heavy lifting you would want to hire a strong person, male or female.  You wouldn’t hire a fat guy if the job involves tight spaces.

I could end this thing right here and I probably should but I’m not going to.

Now let me qualify all this.  I regard myself to be a first?wave feminist, albeit with some modern adaptations.  While women in the Western world still have some obstacles to overcome, I believe they are relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.  When faced with bride kidnapping, legal spousal rape and female genital mutilation, income inequality somehow doesn’t seem quite as important.  Well I’d prefer not to take such a materialistic world view, the social capital of Western women is often overlooked.  Money, while important, is far from the being only asset needed to get ahead in life.  I have some specific theories but no real hard evidence so I’ll leave them alone for the time being.  But take my family for example: While my father has always earned more than my mother, she has always wielded considerable, arguably more, power over the day?to?day workings of the household.  And I know the modern woman often wants to distance herself from being seen as a homemaker but domestic power should not be overlooked.

But women in much of the third world don’t have these powers.  For example, the withholding of sexual relations, a tactic that dates back at least to ancient Greece, is fairly useless in a society where rape is an accepted practice.  Third?wave feminism was supposed to have broadened its focus to beyond the developed world but it really hasn’t gone far enough.  Action must be taken.  Societies not up to snuff must be penalized.

Again, I probably should have left those last two paragraphs out but that’s just not who I am.

Musings on StarCraft II

StarCraft II is, in a word, awesome.  The graphics are awesome, the levels are awesome and the cinematics are awesome.  The new units: awesome.  The old units: still awesome.  Raynor: awesomer than ever.  So, yeah… awesome.

But, lest I be branded a fanboy, or what hip hop fans describe using the wonderfully crude term “dickrider,” I also have some negative criticism too.

12GB of HD space is excessive.  I might be able to overlook it if the load times were fast, but they’re not.  They are painfully slow.

With StarCraft II Blizzard is obviously trying to appeal to people outside the traditional StarCraft/Warcraft fanbase (“Warcraft” referring to the original 3 RTS games).  Now this is perfectly sensible.  Video games aren’t like art, they generally need to be popular in the here and now.  In 40 years time noöne is going to rediscover Daikatana and declare it a lost masterpiece.

Some of the efforts are purely cosmetic, for instance the “Easy” setting is instead called “Casual” which is another way of saying “I suck but I don’t want to admit it.” All these little things make absolute sense from a commercial standpoint.  Nevertheless I will never be able to accept that Cylon lady as the voice of Kerrigan. In Glynnis Talken Blizzard already had a great, albeit unknown, voice actress.  Talken was originally confirmed and then unconfirmed for the role.  Tricia Helfer’s fees would have undoubtedly been much higher but I’m sorry to say that this ploy to rope in casual sci?fi fans at the expense hardcore StarCraft fans (most of whom probably play the game primarily for its multiplayer aspect and therefore don’t care) will probably a successful one.

Sort of splitting hairs I know.  As I said initially, StarCraft II is, and remains, awesome.

Also, as a side note, in my imagination Blizzard has a special Subtitle Department.  Seriously, look at some of these:

Tides of Darkness
Lord of Destruction
Reign of Chaos
Eternity’s End
Terror of the Tides
The Burning Crusade
Wings of Liberty
Heart of the Swarm

Although, their originality may be slipping:
Path of the Damned
Legacy of the Damned
Legacy of the Void

What Happened to Queen Elizabeth I of Canada?

When King James VI of Scotland ascended to the throne of England he dropped his regnal number for his new title becoming simply “James of England.”  This is because England, unlike Scotland had had no previous rulers named James and it made explicit that, despite being in a personal union, England and Scotland were still very much independent kingdoms.

Similarly, Eric of Pomeria possessed three separate titles: Eirik III of Norway, Erik VII of Denmark and Erik (XIII) of Sweden.  Although the Scandinavian kingdoms came under a variety of different personal unions, they always remained independent, at least on paper.

Now on July 8, 1821, a man whom I’ll call George Augustus Frederick Hanover was crowned George IV of the United Kingdom despite the fact that he was only the UK’s second monarch.  Now obviously math was not a strong subject for whoever was in charge of these things.  Perhaps it was George himself, or maybe the Archbishop of Canterbury, I don’t know but it is an error that persists to this day.

It’s true his father had already taken the title George III of the UK, but it’s well known that George III was a few bricks short of a load so we’ll let him off the hook for that one.  But our current reigning monarch, Elizabeth II is certainly of sound mind, so maybe just noone has told her there weren’t any previous queens named Elizabeth (actually…).

I can tell you with absolute certainly there was never a Queen Elizabeth I of Papua New Guinea. The only way the name “Elizabeth II” would make sense is if she was Queen of England or Empress of Russia.  But I know for a fact that the Kingdom of England ceased to exist in 1707 and modern England has yet to be given devolved government like the other countries in the UK.  Likewise, I’m pretty sure Vladimir Putin is the reigning Tsar of Russia.

A foreign monarch has landed on our shores

In welcoming Elizabeth II, Queen of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (incidentally also the name of my favourite doo wop group), prime minister Stephen Harper made the interesting claim that the queen had visited Canada more times than any other Commonwealth country.  Now the key words here are “visited,” “more times” and “Commonwealth country.”  So let’s review a couple facts:

  • There are 54 Commonwealth countries, 16 of which have Elizabeth II as there head of state
  • The United Kingdom (UK) is most definitely a Commonwealth country
  • The reigning Duke of Normandy has travelled to and spent far more time in the UK than in Canada
  • One does not visit one’s home but rather returns to it after visiting other places

In order for Mr. Harper’s comments to be true the UK must be considered the home of the former queen of Pakistan and thus not a place she can “visit.”  In turn since she does “visit” Canada then this country must not be considered her home.  Therefore, Elizabeth II, Paramount Chief of Fiji is indeed a foreign monarch.

All that being said, the Lord of Mann does speak fluent French so I’ll give her kudos for that.

The Poor Palestinian People

On the 24th of June, 1948, the Soviet Union, then the occupying power of what would become known as East Germany began a full blockade of the three sectors of Berlin soon to become known as West Berlin. The Soviets were sure the Western Powers would soon give up and they’d have hold of all Berlin in no time.

But that’s not what happened.  Flying over 200,000 flights for a period of nearly a year the RAF and the USAF brought vital supplies to the 2.5 million civilians of West Berlin.

The dwellers of Gaza have no such guardian angels. Of course, the Berliners weren’t firing rockets at anyone.  But I don’t think you can necessarily blame the average Gazan for that.  True, they voted the terrorists into government but to me that’s just a sign of a truly lousy education system.

You won’t hear it in the news but Egypt, that’s the Arab Republic of Egypt has also kept a blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007, seemingly with the full blessing of the Arab League.  This is the same Arab League that kicked Egypt out in 1979 for merely acknowledging Israel.

You see, the Arab world hates Hamas even more than the West does: they’re deathly afraid the religious crazies in their own countries will take power.

Hamas themselves have become the new Tamil Tigers in that their hunger for power has displaced any ideology they once might have had.

The West doesn’t care because there is no money to be made in Palestine.

The Third World has their own shit to deal with.

And finally the international activists are more interested in getting attention and ridiculing Israel which is why they never take Egypt or Syria or Hamas to task.

So when you break it all down nobody cares.  Those poor Palestinian people.  God help them… because no one else will.

The fun side of diplomacy

The following is an unproven hypothesis that I nevertheless consider to be very likely.  Either that or it was serendipity.

Georgia’s entry to Eurovision 2009 was the most genius diplomatic manœuvre I have ever seen.  Faced with a militarily humiliating (but diplomatically empowering) defeat at Russian hands, Georgia was not too keen to be attending any contests hosted by Russia.  Adding to that is the possibility that should Georgia perform especially poorly on Russian soil would be to add insult to injury.

But at the same time, Georgia wants to take the high road and not look like they’re chickening out.  Enter “We Don’t Wanna Put In”: a song whose political connotations (i.e. “We don’t want a Putin”) are obvious enough to ensure disqualification, but yet subtle enough for Georgia to claim Russian interference.

As for the song itself, it’s not bad but it sounds a lot like “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps.

* * *

Speaking of the Eurovision Song Contest, this year was quite a disappointment.  I found the overall quality of the songs to be much lower.  But I did enjoy the winner, Lena:

Lena Meyer-Landrut

I mean, isn’t she just ridiculously adorable?  Especially with that fucked up faux?English accent that mysteriously disappears whenever she’s speaking German.

But most importantly, thanks to Lena’s victory, her grandfather, a former West German diplomat, now has his own Wikipedia page.

VE Day, the military, gratefulness, intervention, neutrality

Date: May 8, 1945 (Victory in Europe Day)

Scene: VE Day celebrations, Ireland
“Yay! The Nazis surrendered!”
“And no thanks to us!”

Scene: VE Day celebrations, Sweden and Switzerland
“Yay! The Nazis surrendered!”
“In spite of us!”
“And I hope no one noticed how we aided them while maintaining the façade of neutrality!”

The Canadian military has a history of being uniquely selfless.  During both world wars there were periodic U?boat attacks along the Atlantic shoreline (many of which were directed at Newfoundland so technically not even Canada).  Apart from these, the last international conflict fought on Canadian soil was the War of 1812.  Time after time, our loyalty to the Empire and other allies has seen our young men and women being sent to all corners of the globe.  And that “women” part is key, too, as we possess one of the unfortunately few completely integrated militaries in the world.

Observing recent ceremonies in the Netherlands it was heartwarming to see how much respect our military can still command in light of the ungratefulness exhibited by more recently liberated peoples.  I guess some people just aren’t big on democracy.  Not that the liberation of Europe was seamless: there were plenty of people upset with the post?war status quo both legitimately (Forest Brothers, cursed soldiers) and not so much (Red Brigades, EOKA). But nobody as persistent or as popular as the Taliban.  Those guys reeeealy like their theocracy.

In the future I propose we only intervene in countries that have been democratic within the last 20 years and/or have significant cultural ties with us.  First stop: Fiji!

P.S. Oh, to add to that bit at the beginning.  I reserve a special kind of loathing for neutral states.  To be neutral is to say there is no right or wrong.

Learning the Holocaust

Today is the 67th anniversary of the beginning of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It’s also Holocaust Remembrance Day in Poland. It’s not the international Holocaust memorial day (which is on January 27) nor is it the Israeli one (27th of Nisan) but for reasons I won’t get into, I prefer this date.

Now, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, I’m going to be a little critical of Holocaust education.  One can argue that, because there are many people who don’t know about the Holocaust or, even worse, know of it but reject its existence, we should focus on just getting out the message period, quality being secondary.  I see that point but I disagree.

When I first learned of the Holocaust and for many years after the impression I got was that it occured in a vacuum.  That is, the European Jewry were happily living their lives, not a care in the world, and then the Nazis came along and pulled the rug out from underneath them.  This of course is so very not true.  The Holocaust, while undoubtedly the most heinous instance of antisemitism ever, was “merely” the culmination of over two thousand years of Jewish-targeted persecution.  I don’t seek to try and use Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember every victim of antisemitism ever nor am I trying to diminish the uniquely horrible nature of the Holocaust but rather I think it is advantageous for us to observe the bigger picture.

The story of the Holocaust is therefore incomplete I think without the mention at least four things from history: the Jewish–Roman wars and their aftermath, the Inquisition, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and, probably the most relevant, Luther’s writings on the Jews and culture of antisemitism they helped spawn in Germany.  And that’s just the minimum.

I think it is very important that we learn the exact context that the Holocaust occured in.  Not so that it can be somehow justified or written off as inevitable but so we can precisely understand why it happened and make certain that it never happens again.

Never Again

« Previous PageNext Page »