Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Georgia Strait's Big Dicks

For those avid readers flung further afield, I must briefly disambiguate that the Georgia Strait is not the Strait of Georgia, itself a busy waterway, subsumed now within the Salish Sea, and environmentally degraded by the otherwise progressive Winter Olympic City -- you know: the one that doesn't get any winter. Nay the Georgia Strait is a venerable and illustrious Vancouver weekly, once, though no longer, fashionably radical, but still always politically correctly tinged.

Recently, queuing up for all the meaningless but endlessly fascinating end of decade listmania, the Strait, distinguished itself from other compilers with the -oooh- sexist epithet for its targets: "the biggest dicks of the decade." Crude even for the inheritors of the once radical 60s rag, the article was penned by one Mike Cowie, apparently a frequent proselytizer for this journal. Exactly why Mikey's list should be of interest to the world, given his still formative stage of journalistic achievement, one pauses to wonder. But I am a sucker for lists and so perused his litany of decadal villains. Really, not much new or surprising. George Bush and Dick Cheney win, with Bin Ladin in second and other notable malefactors including - hooray from me - "the Dictators of China."

Predictably, given the paper's politics and the world's knee-jerk pick on the Middle East's sole democracy, "the Israeli Government" makes the "biggest dicks of the decade" grade. In the tried and true recitation of that country's wrongdoing, Mikey cites the invasion of Lebanon and Gaza and blithely goes on to rant about creating the world's largest prison camp (i.e. Gaza), failing to acknowledge that Egypt seems no less interested than Israel in hemming in the fiefdom of Hamas.

Naturally, yours truly could not refrain from pointing, in posted comments,how the occludedly learned compiler had missed Hamas itself. That murderous and largely cowardly organization managed to split the already dis-empowered Palestinian "nation" by maintaining a position of annihilating Israel and encouraging its primitive but vicious operatives to provoke their powerful neighbour. When writing his anti-Israel screed, Mikey spoke of how he found it, "fun to listen to Israel's kneejerk defenders explain why all of this oppression and land stealing is not just ok, but is actually the Palestinians own fault." But then - sound of clarion trumpets please! - he shares with us, as only a young Vancouver-based journalist can - THE TRUTH, i.e. "that this (Israel) is one of the last bastions of outright brutal colonialism in the world." Well, of course -- and if he wanted to he could even cite the fact that Israel has by far the highest number of human rights investigations ongoing by that pinnacle of impartial rectitude, the UN Human Rights Council! By way of review, that's the body that has processed more than three times as many resolutions against Israel than it has for North Korea, Sudan, and Burma combined since 2003.

But, for those with such profound consciences, one need not stray quite so far afield to find "bastions of colonialism:" try just driving on down from the Strait's Kitsilano coop, to the pitifully constricted Musqueam homeland in South Vancouver or any of the other 200 or so BC First Nations who, in spite of what Stephen Harper has to say about Canada's imperial history, remain the indentured on-reserve "Indians" of a not-so-post-colonial nation. So much more comfy to point fingers across the sea than to come to terms with the extent to which Cowie like most Lotuslanders, sings praise for living in a "paradise" invaded and then stolen from the original inhabitants.


Anonymous said...

Hey Norman
Mike Cowie here. I'm not going to get into a back and forth about Israel with you because it'll never go anywhere. I just want to say that I always find it amazing that people like yourself who stand up for justice and against oppression in every spot around the globe can somehow turn a blind eye to Israel's brutal decades-old oppression of the Palestinian people.

The Tibetans, the blacks of South Africa under apartheid, the Natives of Canada (and of all the Americas), the people of Darfur, etc. etc. - all these people deserve justice, but not the Palestinians.

Oh and by the way, Israel is not "the only democracy in the Middle East" as Turkey is, of course, a democracy and is part of the Middle East.

And in regards to your final point: "So much more comfy to point fingers across the sea than to come to terms with the extent to which Cowie like most Lotuslanders, sings praise for living in a 'paradise' invaded and then stolen from the original inhabitants." Let me just say that I fully understand the horrific legacy of this country's treatment of its Native inhabitants. In fact, I placed it at #2 on my list of The Top 10 Things To Hate About Canada:


I also wrote about it, in part, here:

"Finally An Apology: The Canadian Native Residential Schools Rant"



N. Grouse Dale said...

Thanks much for reading and responding. I am going to be my courteous self and leave you the last word on Israel, 'cause I always find it so amusing when someone begins, as you do, "I'm not going to get into a back and forth about Israel" but then tries to get the last word in....several times! Oh well, I was young and impetuous once too! But you are right that we sure as heck are not going to converge on this point although I suspect we may on many others.

This said, be assured that I will ponder your points and, if you come back here (and I hope you do), much more will be said in future blogs about asymmetric perspectives on Israel as on inconsistent perpsectives about colonizers and their paradisaical gratifications.
Meanwhile you have inspired me to add a new category of links for fellow carpers. I do like your blog.

Anonymous said...

On the 13-1-10 I posted a comment to the Georgia Strait website in response to a comment posted by a Mr. Norman Dale, who in turn was responding to a piece written by Mr. Mike Cowie. My comment never received a reply. The comment can be found here:


I wrote:

Norman Dale writes: 'Hamas which encouraged the prolonged and provocative missile attacks which gave the Israelis justification for invasion'

The Israeli spokesman Mark Regev admitted that it was not Hamas who broke the ceasefire by the firing of rockets but other Palestinian factions. Hence, the Israeli position is being misrepresented by Mr. Dale. The admission by Mr. Regev can be found here:


Also: 'Egypt seems quite as interested as Israel is in containing the Gaza Palestinians'. This occurs because they are paid by America to do as they are told.

And: 'there are far fewer restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank' The regime there has been described as worse than apartheid in South Africa by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mr. Dales commentary is akin to saying that because a man merely beats his wife to the extent that she no longer needs hospitalisation then it is acceptable. Maybe the blacks in South Africa should also have been grateful for their bantustans.

This is a very uninformed commentary. There is not a mention of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948, Israels 'original sin', which is at the heart of this conflict. Not a single historical reference, simply start the clock at the point of each retaliatory attack by Palestinians and then present Israels behaviour as a 'response'.

End of comment

It can be excruciatingly embarrassing when our position is undermined by the very people that we support. This is the only reason that I can think of for the lack of response by Mr. Dale, and moving instead to a safe haven to continue the lie that official Israel itself has discredited is highly suspect. In addition, if anyone wrote about Israeli Jews in the same rabid manner as Mr. Dale writes about the Palestinians they would be called anti-Semitic, and that would be fairly accurate.

Jack O'Neill

N. Grouse Dale said...

I have belatedly responded to the Mr. O'Neill back at Mike's site - the response awaits approval there. I will only repeat here what I said that even a more balanced and profound rebuttal than Mr. O'Neill's would never scare me off responding and that not doing so previously was due to not seeing his bons mots rather than, as he suggested, "embarrassment" -- an emotion I do not often suffer from!

N. Grouse Dale said...

I wonder if Mike Cowie and jack O'Neill are going to give a close reading to the retraction that Justice Goldstone is now making, based on admitting that he basically found Israel guilty of crimes for which there was no evidence. Remarkably for a man of his legal stature Goldstone now apologizes explaining that "allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion." In other words, since he had nothing to go on he figured that condemning Israel would play well amongst the Commission he reported to - you know the one that has Qaddafi's Libya as an active leading reviewer of human rights issues.