Truth before reconciliation: An interview with Nickita Longman

19 February 2017 - 7:02pm
February 19, 2017'I may never know what it looks like': 'Uncomfortable truths' line road to reconciliation in CanadaPhilip Dwight Morgan interviews Indigenous writer and activist Nickita Longman.

White people have no right to criticize Yusra Khogali's anger

17 February 2017 - 5:10pm
J. BaglowFebruary 20, 2017Anti-Racism

Yusra Khogali, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Toronto, has been in the news recently for calling Prime Minister a "white supremacist terrorist." She's had a few other interesting things to say as well in the recent past. She asks Allah to prevent her from committing violence. She refers to whites as genetically defective. She's really angry. And, from what I know second-hand about racism and misogyny, I don't blame her.

We can argue about the strategic usefulness of deploying inflammatory public rhetoric, shorn of context and explanation, that divides and excludes—I do, as a former union leader who knows what draws people in and what doesn't—but that isn't the issue. Khogali is expressing the anger of the oppressed, she has a right to do it, and she is accountable only to the people in her movement. White folks calling for her removal as a leader rather make her point. They would prefer that oppressed people remain polite and respectful and use their indoor voices at all times: otherwise these outside commentators feel uncomfortable. But put up their discomfort against the everyday racism, the personal and institutional violence, that is a Black person’s life experience, and there is simply no contest.

Besides, the content of her most recent remark bears a little attention. As others have noted, you can indeed argue her case against Trudeau. White supremacy is not just the ideology of Nazis. Terrorism is more than shooting up a mosque or a nightclub. Trudeau's refusal to accede to a court ruling and two compliance orders by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal continues to victimize First Nations children simply for being First Nations. His sale of arms to the Saudis, not to mention the training that the Canadian military throws in, is certainly terrorizing a lot of civilians in Yemen at present, as well as enabling the House of Saud's bloody rule at home.

Discomfort is the point at which we privileged white folks can either move forward or stay in place. Confronting and reflecting upon our own socialized attitudes is not infrequently unpleasant. This isn't a moral matter: we aren’t necessarily "guilty" of anything. Most of us simply sleepwalk in our privilege. But when we're called on it, we should be willing to learn.

Well, here is what I have learned, for what it's worth. Khogali's remarks take place in a context of oppression, and they should be interpreted in that manner. She's not just another talking head on a reassuring TV panel show: she's a pissed-off Black activist, every atom of whose being is engaged in resistance. Must we expect that she follow polite rules of discourse established by the very society that oppresses her? Very little real-world resistance is drawing-room. A lot of it can be raw and ugly. And the white liberal response is too often to wag a finger. They liked Martin Luther King for his non-violent resistance; Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, not so much.

But here is what King himself had to say about them:

First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action;" who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a "more convenient season."

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. ~Letter from a Birmingham Jail

When I read Khogali's commentary, I'm not surprised or offended. Asking Allah to help her check her rage is hardly worth the ink spilled by affronted pundits attacking that Tweeted prayer. As for the alleged genetic defectiveness of white people, I have no reason to believe that she is not entirely sincere about that amalgam of pseudo-science and mysticism, but I can't help being struck by its ironic effectiveness. She is holding up a cracked mirror to hundreds of years of white pseudo-science about "race" and Blacks in particular, and just look at the shock and outrage she's been causing among the chattering classes. Three or so remarks! Imagine the emotions they might have caused to well up in us were the historical tables turned.

None of this is to say that anything goes, particularly if one is attempting to build a mass movement, but, rather, that we should try to understand how what we might regard as rhetorical excesses are generated by the very system that is now clutching its pearls. Can the subaltern speak? You betcha. And we won't always like what we hear -- but that's the whole point, isn’t it?

Image: Facebook/Yusra Khogali


The West has been ripping off Africa for 700 years. Not the other way around

17 February 2017 - 2:30pm

According to The New York Times, Donald Trump's transition team wanted to know: "Why should we spend funds on Africa when we are suffering here in the U.S.?" Curiously enough, most Americans probably would have agreed with Mr. Trump that this was a real question. But they all share an entirely false premise.

America and the rest of the rich world have actually been ripping off Africa for the past 700 years, ever since the Portuguese began the slave trade, all the while insisting that Africa has been the beneficiary of this relentless exploitation. It's been one of the great hoaxes of the past millennium.

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Liberals' pension reforms fall woefully short for Canadian workers

17 February 2017 - 9:45am
Friday, February 17, 2017

While changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) recently adopted by the current federal Liberal government offer some improvement, they do not go far enough.

The legislation includes an increase to the annual payout from 25 per cent to 33 per cent of pre-retirement earnings. In addition, the maximum amount of income covered by the CPP increases from $54,900 to about $82,700 -- once it is fully phased in. However, because the changes do not fully come into effect until 2025, most workers will not have saved enough or contributed a sufficient amount to the CPP and therefore many will be retiring in poverty.

For a government that claims its legislation is fact-based, it has clearly misread the facts.

The facts are:

While changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) recently adopted by the current federal Liberal government offer some improvement, they do not go far enough.

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Why is Canada so offside with world opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

17 February 2017 - 9:01am
Trudeau has continued Harper's blanket support for Israel in recent UN votes and in the process left Canada isolated from almost all other nations. Trudeau's pro-Israel stance offside with Canadians -- and hampers bid for UN seat

What happened to liberal politicians? Sadly, they got smart.

17 February 2017 - 8:51am
Friday, February 17, 2017

Whatever happened to liberals? Sadly, they got smart.

For this insight I'm indebted to U.S. journalist Thomas Frank, whose 2004 book, What's the Matter with Kansas? explained the success of right-wing populism in the George W. Bush years and whose recent, Listen, Liberal, described the Hillary Clinton debacle in advance. He lectured in Toronto last month. It served as a booster shot.

I was always perplexed by Obama's infatuation with "smart guys" like Bill Gates or Larry Summers. I'd assumed anyone who knows these certified smarties must also know they come with limits and are less than advertised.

Smartness has subtly insinuated itself everywhere -- except, apparently, among voters. Smart won't ever replace fair; that's just stupid.

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Canada's Conservative Party, a once-great national organization, is being overwhelmed by its own extremists

17 February 2017 - 1:25am

The refusal by Conservative MPs to agree to an anti-Islamophobia motion and their mockery of an Edmonton Liberal MP for having once worked as a bus driver are both additional evidence their once-great national party, like its Republican counterpart in the United States, is increasingly controlled by an extremist, offensive fringe.

Not that additional proof was really needed. The blowhards and bigots crowding the Conservative Party of Canada's interminable leadership race should be evidence enough.

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B.C. only province in Canada without poverty reduction plan

16 February 2017 - 7:36pm

Low welfare rates, minimal childcare support and skyrocketing rents mean B.C. has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada. The B.C. Poverty Reduction is organizing a week of action to raise awareness about the issue in the lead-up to the provincial election in May. Trish Garner is with the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition. She speaks with Redeye host James Mainguy.

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Canadians at odds with their government on Israel

16 February 2017 - 7:09pm
Friday, February 17, 2017

As the future of Israeli Jews and Palestinians spirals down into an inevitable and inexorable apartheid struggle, Canadians are being denied their fundamental right in a democracy. That is the right to an honest and frank debate about one of the most important issues faced by the international community -- the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the brutal suppression of Palestinian human rights. 

It's not that Canadians don't care or don't try to inform themselves. It's that both the media and federal governments are loath to even talk about it. With these two institutions maintaining a steadfast silence there can be no genuine debate. And so we betray both Israelis and Palestinians by condemning them to a future of violence.

Pro-Israeli government policy is built on a foundation of untested assumptions about Canadian attitudes. A new EKOS poll reveals this to be convenient but quite false.

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What do you hope Trudeau said to Trump during their diplomatic tête-à-tête?

16 February 2017 - 4:40pm

Well, they shook hands. We know that much.

Such is the diminished state of politics that because Donald Trump shakes hands like a maniac, if Justin Trudeau comes away looking only slightly constipated, our mainstream presses bray like Canada scored a major coup. But, there was important policy to discuss too, you know. Like the Liberals' bill that will cede sovereignty to U.S. border officials.

Choices "¡NO PASARÀN!" "If we give your border guards the right to interrogate Canadians on Canadian soil, will you leave us alone? No? Oh, you joker." "Softwood lumber. Softwood lumber. Softwood lumber." "Your regime is reckless and incompetent. Your policies are dangerous and hateful. Your appointments are terrifying and cartoonish. Canada will do everything it can to obstruct your administration and its dangerous goals." "Yes, of course I'm a feminist. But I never let that get in the way of my politics or signing agreements with misogynist regimes." "I'd be happy to let all that racism, homophobia and sexism go if we could just build a few pipelines. Awesome." All of the above None of the above.

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Trudeau's pro-Israel stance offside with Canadians -- and hampers bid for UN seat

16 February 2017 - 3:03pm
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Aiming to outshine the U.S. on the world stage isn't exactly setting the bar high these days. Outshining Norway and Ireland, however, might present a challenge.

And these two small countries are the main competitors if Justin Trudeau is to realize his dream of nabbing a seat for Canada on the United Nations Security Council.

For all the focus on surviving his meeting with Donald Trump this week, the real prize for Trudeau lies at the UN as he seeks to position himself, particularly in Canadian eyes, as a peacekeeping-loving, refugee-embracing, women-buttressing internationalist, leading a Canada that is "back" engaging with the world.

While Trudeau's persona of a progressive internationalist has won him kudos at home and abroad, his staunch support for Israel at the UN has left Canada significantly offside with public opinion.

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Occupy Vancouver - The Vets Who Took Hotel Vancouver

16 February 2017 - 10:20am

In Vancouver, finding a place to live can be difficult. Options for affordable housing are limited as new spaces rarely open. Unfortunately, the lack of options has pushed many to the periphery as they are forced to live on the streets. For some, this tenuous situation is unacceptable and a group of activists decided to occupy an empty building within the city. In recent news, housing advocates squat in empty buildings in order to highlight the lack of affordable housing in larger cities. However, this story takes place over sixty years ago.

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Defeats of Andrew Puzder and Michael Flynn reveal power of grassroots movements

16 February 2017 - 9:22am
Thursday, February 16, 2017

"When the people lead, the leaders will follow" are the oft-quoted words attributed to Gandhi. This week, massive grassroots organizing helped defeat the nomination of Andrew Puzder, a multimillionaire fast-food CEO, as Donald Trump's secretary of labour. He was widely accused of running companies rife with wage theft and sexual harassment. His personal life was marred by accusations of hiring an undocumented immigrant, tax evasion and domestic violence. The push for his defeat was led by some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, and serves as a lesson in the importance and power of movements.

The engine driving both the ouster of Andrew Puzder and Michael Flynn are movements of thousands upon thousands of people across the U.S., saying "no" to hate, bigotry and injustice.

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Basic Canadian civic rights are being whisked away by the Trudeau government

16 February 2017 - 8:51am
The Liberal government is in the process of passing an extraordinary piece of legislation, C-23, which effectively cedes Canadian sovereignty to U.S. border officials. Trudeau prepares to cede Canadian sovereignty to U.S. border officials

What you should worry about when you worry about President Trump -- hint: not where Ivanka sits!

16 February 2017 - 2:02am

It's actually pretty hard to know who to root for the emerging war between U.S. President Donald Trump and the mainstream media.

I mean, seriously people, I find Mr. Trump as scary as the next sane person -- although apparently not for the same reasons as the MSM, which seems to think he hates Russia with insufficient fervor.

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Faking it: Donald Trump's deep ties with the racist, sexist world of professional wrestling

15 February 2017 - 5:15pm

If you want a hint at how far Donald Trump's presidency will go, look no further than professional wrestling.  The owners of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) -- the infamous McMahon family -- and President Trump have arguably formed the greatest tag-team of white supremacy both inside and outside the squared circle.

Trump's cabinet includes Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of the WWE, as leader of Small Business Administration. While this stunned some, Trump's close friendship and affiliation with the WWE and the McMahon family goes back 30 years. Trump twice hosted WWE's showcase event Wrestlemania and also appeared as a WWE performer -- each time with vast sums of money exchanging hands.  

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Calling Trudeau a 'terrorist' isn't as far off as you might think

15 February 2017 - 1:38pm

Is calling the Prime Minister a "white supremacist terrorist" hate speech?

Black Lives Matter - Toronto spokesperson Yusra Khogali's description of Justin Trudeau as a "white supremacist terrorist" at a recent rally against Islamophobia has sparked significant backlash. Right-wing media are using it to attack BLMTO while liberal commentators have called on Khogali to resign as spokesperson. A number of individuals have even labeled Khogali's comments hate speech.

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Trudeau prepares to cede Canadian sovereignty to U.S. border officials

15 February 2017 - 10:59am

Political deep integration continues apace. The Liberal government is in the process of passing an extraordinary piece of legislation, C-23, which effectively cedes Canadian sovereignty to U.S. border officials.

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Next-gen augmented reality will target human sensorium

15 February 2017 - 9:50am
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When most of us think of augmented reality, thanks to Google, we think of dorky glasses with an ugly camera mounted on the frame. But what about the other senses? What if all of them were augmented and all those augmentations worked in concert?

That broader view of AR might be closer to what tech companies will be unveiling in the next couple of years. Humans take in enormous amounts of sensory input every second. We make judgements about threats, reactions, choices and pleasures from subtle and dramatic changes in the patina of inputs we're swaddled in. 

Some decisions are made on minuscule cues -- a wink, a flicker at the periphery of vision, a rough burr on a flat surface, a chirp.

When most of us think of augmented reality, thanks to Google, we think of dorky glasses. But what about the other senses? What if they were augmented and all those augmentations worked in concert?

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Kinder Morgan opponents move forward with legal challenges against pipeline

15 February 2017 - 8:37am
While governments may have announced their support for Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, opponents are continuing to strengthen their fight against the project in court. Lawsuits pile up as Kinder Morgan opponents prepare next pipeline battleground in the courts