Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Slipping Into Fear and Loathing

Canadian activist blogger Justin Podur has a recent post with some cutting observations about the growing promotion of irrational fear and hate in the Canadian political culture, not just by Stephen Harper but recently and disgustingly by a Canadian general named Hillier. It all seems to be designed "to try to make the Canadian political context (never *that* different) the exact same as that of the US."

And if we fall for it? He sums it up: "Canada has atrocious foreign policy, hate, fear, crime, punishment, and a beaten up social welfare system with socialized health care. Look south and look at the future. More atrocious foreign policy, more hate, more fear (terror, even), more crime, more punishment, and no health care."

And U.S.-based blogger Jim Ingalls follows up by recapping the highlites from Podur's post and by quoting some pretty disturbing comments from a different Canadian military officer about our intensifying commitment to supporting the military adventures of the U.S. empire: the occupation of Afghanistan and, by extension because it frees up U.S. troops, the occupation of Iraq. Oh, and don't forget Haiti.


Andrew said...

Psssst.... Hillier talks like a soldier - ge over it.

Scott said...

Well, first of all, you're being a bit unfair to soldiers...not all of them are racists and not all of them are enthusiasts for imperialism...U.S. General Smedley Butler is a classic example, and retired Special Forces commando Stan Goff is a more recent one. As well, quite a few Canadian veterans from World War I came back and took on very left-wing politics.

But you are right that the military as an institution does promote both racism and imperialism, and selects for those characteristics to at least a certain extent as it fills the cogs in its machine with human bodies, so when such cogs display those characteristics it shouldn't be cause for surprise.

The question is, is that an excuse? I would argue that the fact that it is common for soldiers to say things like that should be a marker that encourages us to take a deeper look at the institution of which they are a part, and its role in racism and empire, both historically and currently.

In any case, even those of us who have mixed feelings about the state as an institution at all are still in meaningful ways represented by the state in which we reside and hold citizenship. That means that representatives of the Canadian state are, in some sense, representatives of us...meaning, me too. And I strenuously object to a ranking representative of the Canadian state promoting imperial war and racism, and advancing an understanding (if you can call it that) of current global political issues which is just dumb and wrong.