Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Will wonders never cease ? Amazingly enough it seems like one of the schemes of our dearly beloved comrade leader Prime Minister "Sneaky Stevie" Harper has actually come back to bite him hard on the ass. What's this all about. As previously reported on this blog and elsewhere the federal Conservative government has long been stocking the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada with a fine collection of Holy Rollers and various neandertals from the extremist wing of their party. See THIS REPORT from the Harper Index (and past posts on this blog) for details. As I have expressed before on this blog Harper has to throw the extremist wing of his party the occasional bone, just to keep the preachers of Holy War lecturing the congregations to see failure to vote for the Conservatives as a sure ticket to eternal damnation. To date his tactics have been more than slightly successful. The bones that are thrown "look good" to the "Christian soldiers" while, at the same time being insignificant enough to not produce any major scandals that would be bad PR for the Harperites.

That is what Harper's appointments to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada seemed to promise. To say the least the majority of Canadians don't stay awake at night worrying about their decisions. It's a plum job. Sit through an hour of a public meeting every once in awhile. Read about a case for 15 minutes. Sit and bullshit about it for half an hour with your other old friends on the Board, and adjourn for the mandatory $200 a plate tax payer provided fine dining afterwards. All this as part of God only knows how many tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in honoraria as the "baseline" before expenses. Great work if you can get it, and a bonus for the neandertals is that they get to act out their fantasies of kicking those of the non-white persuasion behind the closed doors of a bureaucracy.

Really a great perk for the beneficiaries of the pork and more than sufficient to keep them rallying their troops to the ballot boxes-and an even better enticement and example for those who may get such non-work in the future. On the other side of the bargain the more intelligent section of the Conservatives surely thought that this was a great bargain as well. Get the support and put the crazies in positions where they can't do any public harm to the party image. Or so they thought. With an initiative of what can only be termed as "massive creativity" the Harper appointees have actually managed to provoke an international firestorm by their decision to grant "refugee status" to a white South African, Brandon Huntley, on the grounds that he is persecuted "as a white man" in his home country. I'll get back to comment on this claim later, but for now let us say that it has become a worldwide story, giving Canada a black eye all the way from Katmandu to Lviv to Sao Paulo to Karachi to Lagos. The government is in full damage control mode, and it may yet escape domestic repercussions, but the international news is one of the worst possible things that could happen diplomatically.

There's a lesson in all this. Always assume that half-wits can do you damage no matter how thoroughly you think you have contained and bought them off. Never trust your own schemes 100%. Here's the basic story from the New York Times Blogs. The same thing is being repeated gleefully all across the world and in Canada too.
White South African Claiming Racist ‘Persecution’ Is Granted Asylum in Canada:
By Robert Mackey
South Africa plans to ask Canada to review a ruling last week by an immigration board in Ottawa granting asylum to a white South African carnival worker who claimed that he was forced to flee his homeland after being attacked seven times because of the color of his skin.

As The Ottawa Sun reported on Friday:
A Canadian immigration and refugee board panel ruled Thursday that Brandon Huntley, 31, could stay in Canada because he presented “clear and convincing proof of the state’s inability or unwillingness to protect him.”

“I find that the claimant would stand out like a ’sore thumb’ due to his color in any part of the country,” tribunal panel chair William Davis said in his decision to grant Huntley refugee status. "

Mr. Huntley, 31, claimed that he was called a “white dog” and a “settler” by black assailants while being mugged seven times during the years he lived outside Cape Town. According to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Huntley said that he had failed to report any of these attacks to the police in South Africa because he “did not trust them.”

The immigration and refugee board ruling said that Mr. Huntley had proven that the South African government, through “indifference and inability or unwillingness,” was failing to protect “white South Africans from persecution by African South Africans.”

The Ottawa Sun reported that Mr. Huntley said violent crime against white South Africans by black South Africans was racially motivated: “There’s a hatred of what we did to them and it’s all about the color of your skin.”

The Globe and Mail noted that the decision “has ignited a firestorm of controversy in South Africa, damaging relations between the two countries and denting Canada’s image in a country where it was once seen as a stalwart of the anti-apartheid struggle.”

On Tuesday Reuters reported that a spokesman for the African National Congress, which now rules South Africa, said “Canada’s reasoning for granting Huntley a refugee status can only serve to perpetuate racism.”

On Wednesday Agence France-Presse reported that Sue van der Merwe, South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations, said the decision “shows a lack of familiarization with the facts and reality of South African society.” Another A.N.C. official called the ruling, “preposterous and laughable.”

A spokesman for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada told The Globe and Mail that the body is intended to operate independently, but added that Canada’s federal government does have the power to ask for judicial review of any decision.

In South Africa, the BBC found a unanimity of opinion from seven citizens of various races who said that while crime is a problem, Mr. Huntley’s claims were “absolute nonsense,” since “thugs attack you because they believe you have something they want.”
So how does one judge such claims ? I think the last paragraph above says it all, even if some of Huntley's claims seem a bit over the top. He says that he has been mugged seven times, on some of which occasions he was stabbed. Yet he walks. Either a)he is one of the best street fighters in the world or b)he should really trying out for one of the Olympic track teams or c) that he so regularily walks with his horseshoes on across fields of four leaved clovers that I really want his advise on lottery numbers. I have no doubt that South Africa is a dangerous place. I also have little doubt that their are many blacks in the country who harbour a lot of dislike for white people. I will also grant that such racial hatred may account for almost 5% of the attacks on whites by blacks as compared to the more likely explanation that many criminals assume that whites have money or other valuables. I also have little doubt that Mr. Huntley may be in as much as 10% of the danger experienced by the ordinary black citizen in South Africa in terms of being victimized by criminals. In other words, probably about the same as an ordinary Mexican in a fairly bad place (but not the worst) in Mexico. Ahhhhh....

There's the point. A couple of months ago (on May 2 and July 22) Molly had articles on the opposition to the Canadian government's decision to require visas for anybody visiting Canada from Mexico and the Czech Republic. The idea was obvious- to keep out both Mexicans and Roma (gypsies) from Eastern Europe. Now there is little doubt that the Roma do experience racist persecution in several European countries, especially in Eastern Europe. I refer the reader to the above mentioned articles, amongst others, on this blog.

Let's see now. According to the Conservatives the Roma do not experience persecution and efforts have to be made to keep them out of Canada-special efforts no less. To date I have not seen this obvious comparison made, though I have little doubt that there are others who are writing about it even as I am. Yet there are others who do have a clue about world events, even if the neandertals that Stevie appoints do not. See the following story and understand why I am giving this free advise to the Conservative government: "Appoint Madonna to be the Chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada". The only thing that might be wrong with this brilliant suggestion is that Madonna would probably not properly appreciate the various petty freebies that go along with such "jobs". But if Stevie were to do it right, however improbable it might seem, he'd get somebody who could put in a good word to far more sheep (I mean loyal voters) than the Holy Rollers can. Here's what happened to Madonna a few days back on Romania. I call for this appointment because pretty well any rational person would chose to be interviewed behind closed doors by the subject of photograph "a" as opposed to that of photograph "b". Ahhh, love that interrogation technique.
Madonna booed in Bucharest for defending Gypsies:
By ALINA WOLFE MURRAY (AP) – 6 days ago
BUCHAREST, Romania — At first, fans politely applauded the Roma performers sharing a stage with Madonna. Then the pop star condemned widespread discrimination against Roma, or Gypsies — and the cheers gave way to jeers.

The sharp mood change that swept the crowd of 60,000, who had packed a park for Wednesday night's concert, underscores how prejudice against Gypsies remains deeply entrenched across Eastern Europe.

Despite long-standing efforts to stamp out rampant bias, human rights advocates say Roma probably suffer more humiliation and endure more discrimination than any other people group on the continent.

Sometimes, it can be deadly: In neighboring Hungary, six Roma have been killed and several wounded in a recent series of apparently racially motivated attacks targeting small countryside villages predominantly settled by Gypsies.

"There is generally widespread resentment against Gypsies in Eastern Europe. They have historically been the underdog," Radu Motoc, an official with the Soros Foundation Romania, said Thursday.

Roma, or Gypsies, are a nomadic ethnic group believed to have their roots in the Indian subcontinent. They live mostly in southern and eastern Europe, but hundreds of thousands have migrated west over the past few decades in search of jobs and better living conditions.

Romania has the largest number of Roma in the region. Some say the population could be as high as 2 million, although official data put it at 500,000.

Until the 19th century, Romanian Gypsies were slaves, and they've gotten a mixed response ever since: While discrimination is widespread, many East Europeans are enthusiastic about Gypsy music and dance, which they embrace as part of the region's cultural heritage.

That explains why the Roma musicians and a dancer who had briefly joined Madonna onstage got enthusiastic applause. And it also may explain why some in the crowd turned on Madonna when she paused during the two-hour show — a stop on her worldwide "Sticky and Sweet" tour — to touch on their plight.

"It has been brought to my attention ... that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe," she said. "It made me feel very sad."

Thousands booed and jeered her.

A few cheered when she added: "We don't believe in discrimination ... we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone." But she got more boos when she mentioned discrimination against homosexuals and others.

"I jeered her because it seemed false what she was telling us. What business does she have telling us these things?" said Ionut Dinu, 23.

Madonna did not react and carried on with her concert, held near the hulking palace of the late communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

Her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, said Madonna and others had told her there were cheers as well as jeers.

"Madonna has been touring with a phenomenal troupe of Roma musicians who made her aware of the discrimination toward them in several countries so she felt compelled to make a brief statement," Rosenberg said in an e-mail. "She will not be issuing a further statement."

One Roma musician said the attitude toward Gypsies is contradictory.

"Romanians watch Gypsy soap operas, they like Gypsy music and go to Gypsy concerts," said Damian Draghici, a Grammy Award-winner who has performed with James Brown and Joe Cocker.

"But there has been a wave of aggression against Roma people in Italy, Hungary and Romania, which shows me something is not OK," he told the AP in an interview. "The politicians have to do something about it. People have to be educated not to be prejudiced. All people are equal, and that is the message politicians must give."

Nearly one in two of Europe's estimated 12 million Roma claimed to have suffered an act of discrimination over the past 12 months, according to a recent report by the Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights Agency. The group says Roma face "overt discrimination" in housing, health care and education.

Many do not have official identification, which means they cannot get social benefits, are undereducated and struggle to find decent jobs.

Roma children are more likely to drop out of school than their peers from other ethnic groups. Many Romanians label Gypsies as thieves, and many are outraged by those who beg or commit petty crimes in Western Europe, believing they spoil Romania's image abroad.

In May 2007, Romanian President Traian Basescu was heard to call a Romanian journalist a "stinky Gypsy" during a conversation with his wife. Romania's anti-discrimination board criticized Basescu, who later apologized.

Human rights activists say the attacks in Hungary, which began in July 2008, may be tied to that country's economic crisis and the rising popularity of far-right vigilantes angered by a rash of petty thefts and other so-called "Gypsy crime." Last week, police arrested four suspects in a nightclub in the eastern city of Debrecen.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia also have been criticized for widespread bias against Roma.

Madonna's outrage touched a nerve in Romania, but it seems doubtful it will change anything, said the Soros Foundation's Motoc.

"Madonna is a pop star. She is not an expert on interethnic relations," he said.

AP Writers Alison Mutler in Bucharest, William J. Kole in Vienna and Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Rocktown Rebel said...

Lots of white folks here in the US get called nasty names by black folks. (I know I have) And I know for a fact that many white folks do not trust the police here in the U.S. (I know I don't) It doesn't mean we're persecuted BECAUSE we're European, because we're certainly not. It might be different in South Africa, where we're the minority, but I doubt it.

PS: Thanks for linking

mollymew said...

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Knives, however, are a different matter entirely.
I have little doubt that outside of the 'Cultural Studies' departrments of various North American universities and the political cults that all too often derive from them that people are calling each other nasty names pretty frequently. When "some" nasty names are forbidden in some social circles other names are used either as euphemisms or as "counter names" to describe the presumed enemy. Not being of the opinion that such nonsense has any political use whatsoever beyond the disruption of more productive political initiatives-to the benefit of the "powers that be" I pay little attention to it. My own experience, for what it is worth, is that "name calling" depends pretty much on the social context of a particular group and ACTUALLY would have little effect on the efforts of SKILLED organizers EXCEPT to sabotage such efforts.
All that being said I detect a more than slight odour of bullshit about the claims made by the guy who has been granted asylum. Having actually ONCE been knifed in the leg (an unusual location during a mugging) and being able to handle it on my own (beyond winning the fight) without medical attention I SERIOUSLY DOUBT his claims of up to three knifings.
I think that I have covered my doubts very well in my comments above, and I also stand by my suspicions of the "white guys are good guys" prejudice of our Prime Minister's appointments to the Board that delivered this absurd ruling. Further international comments have more than affirmed my own "moderate" comments on how much South African BLACKS have to fear from criminals in their country, and if asylum is to granted because of "danger" that pretty well EVERY SA BLACK should be granted asylum because they are in danger just from the simple fact of breathing and walking. I also very much stand behind my comments about our government's hypocrisy about trying to bar Mexicans and Roma from this country while claiming that whites in South Africa are a special case.
Let me assure you that I have been an opponent of the "identity politics" that has hamstrung not just anarchist but general leftist organizing for decades for a similar number of decades. At the same time "the truth is the truth", and I stand by the comments I have made in the article.