Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Against One’s Self-Interests: Local Bad Choices on a Global Scale

Text © Robert Barry Francos
Images from the Internet

There are two local stories going on in the news right now, both of which are raising eyebrows on an international stage. Here is my take.

The 9/11 Pig Roast

The Saskatchewan Party is running this province right now. It is a new political organization which has a strong conservative curve that makes the Republicans in the States seem moderate. Their election to higher office has much to do with the traditional bent of rural communities whose population is wary of government spending on cities and social programs, and not paying enough attention to farming needs (there are just over a million people in Saskatchewan, but less than half in the two major cities of Saskatoon and Regina). The Prairies have long been leaning this way, despite the relatively liberal (as opposed to Liberal) leanings of Saskatoon, though currently under the thumb of the Mayor Don “me-me-me” Atchison (sort of like New York City under Giuliani or Bloomberg).

As a fundraiser for the Saskatchewan Party, they are throwing themselves a pig roast on April 11 in the local town (oh, sorry, recently declared city) of Martinsville, about 10 miles north of Saskatoon. As a guest, they have invited New York City fire chief Richard Picciotto, who was trapped in the North Tower on 9/11. Why conservatives love to drag out 9/11 for their own means even after all these years is another question, but one that this particular blog does not concern.

To publicize the event, they chose Nancy Heppner, the Minister of the Environment, to design the flyer. This is where the controversy starts. She chose an image of the Twin Towers burning, in itself not a wise choice, even as Picciotto was one of the surviving heroes of the attack (yes, attack, by Saudi nationals… I’m not into conspiracy theories… but I digress…), even with some benefit of the doubt. To have the buildings burning, as a promotional image though, seems a bit heartless. Okay, we are talking about conservatives, so that’s not so far off (again, their vision is “me, me, me”).

[The flyer (click to enlarge)]
And here is where the fun begins. On top of the image, it says, “Pig Roast.” I’m not sure about in Canada, but in the states, “pig” is also used as a derogative term for the members of the organizations who were the first responders to the scene. There were 341 firefighters and 23 police officers acknowledged to have been killed in the burning and subsequently collapsing towers. To use this image under the term “pig roast” is beyond an oversight, it is cruel. Definitely a lose-lose vision: If it was meant intentionally, it is disingenuous at best. If it was not meant intentionally, well, who wants someone that thoughtless in control of the government?

All governments have slip-ups, I know, such as Bushie Jr. sending out Hanukkah cards with a Christmas image, and there was one recently with the Obama administration that I can’t remember off-hand, but this is something that seems occasional with the liberals, but pretty consistent with conservatives. They are so focused on themselves and how to crush anyone they deem under them that they lose sight of what they are doing, and how they are achieving it. Liberals (Democrats in the US; NDP in Canada) seem to want to focus on spending for social programs and physical infrastructure, but conservatives (Republicans in the US; Conservatives and Liberals in Canada) want instant bottom line everything, make monuments to themselves (stadiums in New York, for instance; River Landing in Saskatoon), and create a caste system between wealth and poverty (when the liberals try to make it more level, the conservatives cry “socialism!” and try to scare everyone).

[Nancy Heppner]
Another part of this situation I don’t understand is why Picciotto is still showing up, as both he and the Fire Department of New York have both publicly denounced the use of 9/11 imagery for political purposes (hear that Giuliani? Oh, yeah, that’s right, you stated that no terrorism occurred on U.S. soil during Bushie’s administration, even when you practically use “9/11” as your phone number). This Saskatchewan Party is the same group that demanded the resignation of a NDP staff member for referring to Bushie Jr. as “Shrub.” Reminds me of how many Republicans called for Bill Clinton’s resignation after the whole Monica debacle, though many were caught with their own peckers where they didn’t belong (right, Giuliani?).

The province of Saskatchewan is equivalent to New York state, in that the majority of the people seem to vote against their own self interests, in fear of liberal social programs, and would rather see the money that would have served them go to commercial organizations and corporations that wouldn’t give a sou about their own workers, let alone the rest of the population.

Perhaps next time I’ll discuss a Saskatoon / Humboldt Minister of Parliament (U.S. equivalent is local Senator) who wants to end all funding to Planned Parenthood because he is against abortion (like that is all PP do). But again, I digress… Now back to the topics at hand.

The First Nations Leader for National Socialism

[David Ahenakew]
Recently, it was announced that David Ahenakew passed away in Saskatchewan, about an hour north of Saskatoon. The 76 year old was / is certainly a controversial figure. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has been lauding him for the good he has done in his life, and it is quite a lot, such as being in the army for 16 years (including serving in Korea), being elected Chief of the FSIN (serving 10 years), helped establish the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College and the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now called the First Nations University of Canada, which I pass nearly every day), and helped bring updated technology to many of the poorer areas. Ahenakew even received the Order of Canada distinction in 1978. All well and good, and he should be noted for that. But some of his other stances should not be passed over, including his statements that Jews are a “disease” who started World War II, and that Hitler helped "clean up Europe" when he "fried six million of those guys.” He then stated that the Israel was going to help start a new world war (in a joint effort with Bushie Jr.). These comments were physically recorded with his knowledge, not in some ambush taping. His Order of Distinction, I should note here, was stripped from him in 2005 in disgrace.

So, here is a man who had spent his life helping out the needy and oppressed First Nations, who have been mistreated by the majority, stripped of rights, placed into ghettos, and scapegoated for the ills of the nation, and yet has a problem seeing the connection between the treatment of the First Nations and the Jews at the time of World War II of, well, everywhere.

What especially amazes me is the shortsightedness of the topic of the Holocaust. During WWII, the Arab nations sided with the Nazis in the destruction of Jews. If the Nazis had won, after the Jews were gone, next would have been the Arabs. And if they made it here to the North American continent, the First Nations would also have been exterminated as being non-Aryan (as would the Latinos, the Blacks, the Catholics, and the list goes on).

The WASPs of the 19th Century did their best, as it was, to rid this continent of First Nations people in their march towards “Manifest Destiny.” And what do you think the Jews contribution to that was? How many Jewish homesteaders were there then? Jews were certainly not allowed in the Army at the time, and certainly not allowed to own land in the New West. And yet Ahenakew defends the Nazis, representing the very people who would have sought to wipe his people out, and blame a minority that was as oppressed as his own. Yet another tale of voting against one’s self interest.

Jews have a history of support for those oppressed, such as participating in the Civil Rights marches of the early ‘60s, and helping to start the NAACP; if there was a positive cause, there were Jews backing it, and sometimes leading the charge. My mother would have mah jongg games with all the winnings going towards some social cause; this was common practice in the period of time when Ahenakew claims the Jews were a “disease.”

Some people, such as Ahenakew’s lawyer Doug Christie, is saying that Ahenakew’s comments should not be held against that many years of dedication. Well, I’m mixed about that, because he was not just a person spouting a misguided belief; rather, he was in a leadership position, and his opinion is the equivalent of inciting a riot. He was initially found guilty of hate speech, but was then exonerated in court in appeal, because they said it was just an opinion. However, he was in no less power than James Keegstra, the popular teacher from Eckville, Alberta (near Red Deer) who was a staunch Holocaust denier in the classroom, and who was consequently found guilty of that same charge.

I am not saying that Ahenakew should have been thrown in jail, but his comments should stick like the stigma it should be, as rightfully so with Jesse Jackson’s “Hymietown” statement, or John McCain’s “Bomb, bomb Iran” ditty. These are leaders, and should be held accountable. If it was some shmoe living down the street, I’d tisk and be done with it. I know people who have jokingly made racist jokes and statements, but they were not in a position of power and influence. There comes a point when one must realize that everything they say will have some import to someone.

Another point is that this lawyer, “Christie,” said that he only said this once, and under dire circumstances (new medication, being in a press conference, etc.). But this comment is much like seeing a single cockroach in a kitchen. If you see one, there are many more hiding out. If the man said this statement once, then the odds are there is a lot of ice under the surface of the water, and we’re only seeing the tip. This can effect this person’s decisions in his power-position, and it is important to note that, and not to sweep it under the carpet of the good the person has done. It should be like a pile of shit that sits on top of the carpet, for all to know. Let the people judge how they like the carpet, but know that the pile of shit is there.

[Sources: TheStarPhoenix.com, Wikipedia.org]


  1. 343 New York City Fireman died on September 11th not 341

  2. Thank you for that important correction! And, of course, even that number is low when one adds in the people who continue to sicken and die because of the toxic soup of hazardous material they breathed in... oh, wait, Christine Whitman and the Bush administration said the air was safe, yeah, that's the ticket!