I SPENT THE DAYS following the recent Quebec election in Norfolk, UK, with a bunch of academics and journalists, and tried to raise the alarms set off by the return of the Parti Québécois to power.
“Actual secession is not on the table—yet—but there are worrying trends in culture and language policy,” I told them. “And they took down the Maple Leaf in the assembly.”
“Is it true that Canada’s economy has actually been okay since 2008? ” the English wanted to know.
“Pauline Marois will certainly make Stephen Harper’s life miserable,” I said. “Will Thomas Mulcair and his sizable Quebec caucus skew federalist, or see PQ sympathy as a way to undermine the Conservatives in Ottawa? ”
“What’s the population of Canada anyway? ”
“This business about veils and religious symbols is ominous,” I went on. “You sometimes feel the rumble of nascent racism in Quebec. And the police are practically paramilitary.”
“Is the median family income higher there than in the States? ”
“And then there are all the structural problems,” I insisted. “Crumbling infrastructure, high dropout rates in schools, underfunded universities, corrupt businesses, and a shrinking tax base. People say Quebec is the Greece of Canada. You know, Greece? ”
“Hey, do you get to vote in the American election? ”
Some international perspective is all it takes to remind you that the only thing more boring to the world than the enduring mystery of Canadian identity is the eternal question of Quebec’s future. But I am old enough to remember a time when Quebec separatists offered the closest thing Canada had to serious political violence. The very existence of the Front de libération du Québec served to satisfy the “issue envy,” as Mordecai Richler called it, that ever afflicts peaceable, well-ordered Canadians when they view gritty world affairs. Our very own terrorists! Suck on that, America!
When Wade Michael Page strode into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and began to kill, it was the culmination of more than a decade in the neo-Nazi movement. The best evidence suggests that Page came to his racist beliefs while serving at a North Carolina Army base that was then a hotbed of white supremacist activity — beliefs that were further honed by years on the white power music scene.
The Southern Poverty Law Center today released the latest issue of its investigative magazine Intelligence Report, and its cover story analyzes the background and ideological development of Page, who murdered six people and wounded four others last August before putting a bullet in his own head. An accompanying sidebar details the modern history of right-wing extremism in the American military, and a related editorial traces the growth of political violence aimed at Muslims.
‘Wade saw the military as a transformational time in his life,’ one expert who was also a personal acquaintance of Wade told the Intelligence Report. ‘He always said, ‘If you don’t go in the military a racist, you’re sure to leave as one.”
While the U.S. debates same-sex marriage, Cameroon hosted a “Gay Hate Day” and on Thursday the White House condemned Zimbabwe’s “violent arrest and detention of 44 members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe on August 11 and a second raid by police on August 20.”
The White House said several of the arrested Zimbabweans “sustained serious medical injuries from the attacks and were detained without charges…The United States stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe’s civil society, including LGBT activists. We are deeply concerned when security forces become an instrument of political violence used against citizens exercising their democratic rights.”
This week the Catholic Archbishop in Cameroon said that while one should be tolerant, homosexuality belongs with pedophilia and bestiality and called it an “affront to the family, enemy of women and creation.”
An organization in Cameroon also celebrated “Gay Hate Day” this week. The Kenyan Daily Post reported, “the chosen date marks the savage murder and alleged rape of Narcisse Olivier Djomo Pokam by, a 31 year old student, by what the association labelled ‘gay mafia’.”
Allout.org organized a response from African human rights activists. “A poster announcing the ‘Gay Hate Day’ claims that hemorrhoids, incontinence and various infections are consequences of homosexuality,” Yves Yomb, director of Alternatives-Cameroun, an organization working for the rights of sexual minorities in Cameroon, said in a statement released by the group.
Palestinian youth hurling fire bomb at IDF position near the Qalandiya checkpoint, Sept. 21, 2011. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
A new study by a team of American, Israeli and Palestinian researchers identifies rising trends of violence among children in the Middle East, as a result of the protracted Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, examined reports of displays of violence among more than 1,000 children, and the findings show a correlation between children’s exposure to political violence and their own violent behavior.
The researchers examined a sample of 451 Jewish children, 450 Israeli Arab children and 600 Palestinian children (64 percent from the West Bank; 36 percent from the Gaza Strip ) during three points in time between 2007 and 2010.
The children were asked about their exposure to political violence, including on television. About 10 percent of the Palestinian children said a relative had died in an event tied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the figures among Israeli Jewish children and Israeli Arab children were seven percent and three percent, respectively.
However, when asked if a friend or acquaintance of theirs had died in the conflict, 55 percent of Palestinian children answered “yes,” compared to 13 percent of Israeli Jews and three percent of Israeli Arabs.
From FAIR blog, “a lengthy list of violent events and reckless rhetoric compiled by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, I’ve excerpted the cases that involved gunfire or other overtly deadly acts; the complete timeline includes numerous other episodes in which police disrupted violent plans before they were carried out:”
Includes this quote:
These individuals no doubt have a range of relationships to reality, and their ideologies may likewise vary from Tea Party orthodoxy to idiosyncratic conspiracy mania. (One person on the list appears to be a genuine ecoterrorist.) But it’s hard to deny that this seems like a remarkable amount of political violence in a little more than two-and-a-half years. (This impression is bolstered statistically by reports that the Secret Service has had to deal with a 400 percent increase in threats against the president, that U.S. Marshals are facing double the number of threats against judges and prosecutors, and that Capitol Police found that threats against congressmembers tripled in the first quarter of 2010.)
Some excellent points made here on how the stigmatization of the mentally ill following this sort of event goes hand in hand with disingenuous attempts to absolve the purveyors of political hate speech and incitements to violence of responsibility:
It is extremely hard for people with mental illness, particularly mental illnesses popularly considered violent, like borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia, to “come out”, as a result of social attitudes about mental health. Every time a horrific event splashes across the headlines and people start screaming “mental illness”, the mentally ill community is reminded that we are considered unsafe and dangerous, despite stigma-reduction campaigns. This has real impacts, making it harder for us to seek treatment, find work and engage with society.
Second, the attribution of violent crime to mentally ill “outliers” makes it difficult to hold people accountable for inflammatory rhetoric and political activities. Politicians, commentator, and others who issue incitements to violence can fall back on the claim that “only mentally ill people” would take their suggestions seriously, and “no sane person” would commit such acts. This allows them to evade responsibility for their actions; and it is clear that many are well aware of this and exploit attitudes about mental illness to avoid accountability.
Full article : guardian.co.uk