Archive for March 2012

Papa wears the sombrero

March 27, 2012

So we have the Pope in Mexico wearing a sombrero and the cardinal of Toronto wearing a Maple Leaf hockey sweater—both obvious attempts to mask their underlying agendas.

In Canada the agenda is :nothing changes. No discussion of celibacy, women priests,a new sexual ethic.

In Mexico the hopelessly uncharismatic 84 year old pope who drones on and on—but wears a sombrero-has an agenda.

Stay away from the capitol city—there the “secularists” have a stronghold. Go to the most conservative area Guanajato, wealthy and a big supporter of Felipe Calderon’s PAN party.An election is coming and the most Catholic party needs all the supoport it can get as its losing in the polls. Hey, why not a sombrero on the pontiff’s head.and have Felipe Calderon take communion from the pope.

Needless to say Calderon’s platform is very much pro-business and anti gay and anti- abortion.

Hence the sombrero-wearing pontiff’s this time and in this place.

Bill Maher’s vision of Catholicism goes up in smoke

March 24, 2012

Poor Billy Maher ,pungent wit, politically savvy was gobsmacked on his March 23 HBO show.

Wha hoppen?

He read from the paper that cartoonish  pres hopeful uber-Catholic Rick Santorum was decidedly unpopular with Catholics.

How can this be?

Well,Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan filled him in.

Billy, you got Catholicism all wrong.

Catholic does not equal the Vatican!

Andrew then wenrt on to give Bill a refresher on Vatican ll and the Church as

the People of God, And actually used the words “sensus fidelium”.

Now Bill has a lot of fun ridiculing God and believers in general but is often

hopelessly misinformed on the nature of the catholic  Church.

Friday night was a prime example of Maher’s limited knowledge about believers and Catholicism

Robert Bales proud American, mass murderer of Afghans

March 20, 2012

War perverts and destroys you. It pushes you closer and closer to your own annihilation—spiritual, emotional and finally physical. It destroys the continuity of life, tearing apart all systems—economic, social, environmental and political—that sustain us as human beings.

Chris Hedges

Poor uneducated man, a guy who beat up his girl friend, did his “anger management” course, a guy like most of these conscripts who join the military for “work”, They have absolutely no idea of the country they are tossed into by the likes of war-evaders like Cheney(5 deferments) and Bush Jr whom they couldn’t find as he ducked out of the reserves but never visited the rice paddies of Nam.

Bales was a pure victim of the 9/11 fall out.He wanted to go somewhere, anywhere to avenge his country.He signed up and sealed his poor unreflective fate.

Now we learn Bales applied to be a sniper.

Kurtz had it right  in Apocalypse Now: “The horror.”

As one soldier told correspondent Neil Shea:”“This is where I come to do fucked-up things.”

Interviewed on Democracy Now, Shea said the following

I’ve seen soldiers and marines sort of build up through these cycles of aggression, to the point where they start doing—they begin with small things. They’ll insult Iraqis or Afghans behind their backs, and that’s sort of the very mild beginning of it. And then they sort of move up the chain, if we can call it that, into more serious acts of aggression, where they’ll kill animals or they’ll beat somebody or treat them roughly, and it sort of builds up from there.

What I saw with these guys in Afghanistan when I was with them was that several of them had already been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they had reached a point where they hated Afghans, they hated the country, and they were really not interested in doing any of the hearts and minds stuff anymore that’s a crucial part of the mission. So by the time I reached these guys, they had already been sort of—they had been building up anger and aggression in strange ways for a number of years. And when I saw them, they had just shot a dog that had been a pet in an Afghan home that they had confiscated during the mission, and they treated Afghan civilians fairly roughly, and they took a few prisoners and treated them very roughly, as well. Nothing that would rise to necessarily the—sort of a crime at that time, but the way that they talked about things and the way that they sort of handled themselves was really aggressive. And it was only—it seemed to me only to be barely kept in check.

It is all too sick—what war does to people, particularly dopey Americans with their hubris, their misplaced “exceptionalism”, their absolute failure to learn foreign languages, travel or even become curious about other cultures.  ONly 30% of Americans  have a passport. Why travel when you live in Paradise—and speak English! The deep south of course leads the team in “No Passports.”

Eric Margolis in a Paddy’s day post nailed it:

Foreign occupation and garrisons inevitably spread corruption, prostitution, junk culture, and venereal disease. The foreign troops increasingly keep to fortified bases, sallying out to take reprisals and show the flag. The notion that 20-year old soldiers from the bottom of western society can win hearts and minds of Afghan tribesmen is one of the most ludicrous myths of our times.

From all of the above one can see the truth of Chris Hedges’s remark that “ the psychological leap to murder is short.”  And shorter when you’ve deployed four times

He’s back!—with a terrible idea—Casinos for Toronto

March 15, 2012

He’s back—and generally at a larger salary than before,the ultimate free market Conservative, Paul Godfrey—friend of Mike Harris, Jeff Lyons and Tom Jakobek -the great purveyor of NFL football and free money from the public for a baseball stadium.

This time a truly terrible idea—a casino for Toronto.

Yes Paul Godfrey the shill for  Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation  was singing the praises of a major casino for Toronto.

The Baptists are right…gambling is a fool’s game and publicly promoted gambling nothing but a tax on the poor and credulous.It panders to  our baset instincts–something for nothing! No hard intellectual or honest slogging needed. What a message. Evidently 30% od the lost cash comes from problem gamblers.A real homewrecker.

Not to mention the added cost for coppers,shrinks, family counselors.

Keep them away, let them stay on the borders where the Yanks can come and blow their cash.

It will be iteresting to see how Metro Councilors deal with this mug’s game.

Councillor Maria Augimeri spoke for me when Downsview Park in her ward was mentioned as a site:

“Over my dead body. I see nothing but bad news from casinos. They’re just bad for the human soul. So many families end up in pain — prostitution, the drug trade, good planning goes out the window, traffic congestion.


Catholic teachers:stuck at charity?

March 8, 2012
I will be attending the AGM of Ontario’s Catholic teachers in Windsor, handing out leaflets to the assembly.
My hope is that we may evolve  to more than a teacher welfare organization,
more than a charity” cup of water” grouping to one that takes a stand on the side
of the oppressed…here the Palestinians

 Here is my hand out:

In an interconnected world Catholic teachers are automatically involved. We owe a “double solidarity” first  to the preservation and safety of Israel as a modern state but also to the humiliated face of the Palestinian people suffering a 5 decades long illegal occupation of their ancestral land. Catholic teacher unions must not be silent on this major issue of our time. To be silent for whatever reason is to side with the oppressor.

The Impact of the Conflict
on Children

125 Israeli children have been killed by Palestinians and 1,471 Palestinian children have been killed by Israelis since September 29, 2000.

“The majority of these [Palestinian] children were killed and injured while going about normal daily activities, such as going to school, playing, shopping, or simply being in their homes. Sixty-four percent of children killed during the first six months of 2003 died as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks, or from indiscriminate fire from Israeli soldiers.” Catherine Cook

Source: Remember These Children, a coalition of groups calling for an end to the killing of children and a fair resolution of the conflict. (View the complete list of the victims, which was last updated on September 17, 2011.)

Remember These Children has not yet documented a number of the Palestinian children killed during Israel’s Dec 27, 2008 – Jan 18, 2009 assault on Gaza.). B’Tselem has documented that Israel killed 318 Palestinian children in Gaza during this time. We do not doubt the validity of this higher number as they are extremely careful in their documentation.

Must reading:  Judaism doe not Equal Israel by Marc H. Ellis
Israel and Palestine  by Avi Shlaim     Fatal Embrace by Mark Braverman
An Israeli in Palestine by Jeff Halper
Intellectual slovenliness ill behooves educators.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
See for yourself! In July join Fr.Bob Holmes on his Peace and Justice Pilgrimage to Israel/Palestine
Read for ongoing coverage from a Gospel perspective

J’accuse: Israeli’s most famous novelist holds up a mirror to a corrupted society

March 5, 2012

David Grossman, Israel’s pre-eminent novelist has once again jeld up a mirror tp a severely corrupted society. that of his homeland, Israel.

In a February 24 article in the daily Haaretz, Grossman using his brilliant writing skills told the shocking story of a Palestinian Omar Abu Jariban who in May 2008 stole a car then  was injured in a car accident, then was released from a hospital, handed over to the local Rehovot  police and,dumped, catheter, diaper  and all by the roadside. The hospital report had stated  “Orientation − off and on. Communication skills − off and on. Mobility − not stable when walking. Periodically confused. Probability of falling. Way of eating: Needs partial help. The patient was washed and attended to in bed. Urinates via catheter. The patient is confused. Needs help eating and drinking.”

Despite this shocking analysis It was decided in the callous argot of  the Israel police that he should be “returned to the territories, code for “get rid of this Arab”.  He was left at the side of the oad to basically die Two days later he did just that and was  found dead of dehydration at the side of the road. He was thirty-five years old. Since then the buck has been passed as to the culpability for this outrageous inhuman act.  Abu Jariban’s brother Mohammed says that the family is outraged by the death. “They simply threw him to the dogs,Had they brought him to the Erez border crossing, we would have taken care of him.”

The four year old case caught the attention of  Grossman who used it as a fitting metaphor for the increasingly callous country he lives in. His long article was printed only in Hebrew but was thought to be so telling that  Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service in Melbourne Australia translated it for a wider internet audience.

Grossman’s conclusion:

I know that they do not represent the police. Nor do they represent our society or the state. It’s only a handful or bad apples, or unwelcomed weeds.  But then I think about a people which has dumped a whole other nation on the side of the road and has backed the process to the hilt over 45 years, all the while having not a bad life at all, thank you.  I think about a people which has been engaging in a brilliant genius-like denial of its own responsibility for the situation. I  think of a people, which has managed to ignore the warping and distorting of its own society and the madness that the process has had on its own national values. Why should such a people get all excited over a single such Omar?


Bob Davis, requiascat in pace

March 1, 2012

“What the pupil needs are not text books but text people.”
Rabbi Abraham Heschel

My friend Bob Davis left this earth on Feb 22.

The following Globe obit sketches the essential details of Buffalo Bob’s meaningful life.

William Robert (Bob) Davis Canadian education thinker and activist William Robert (Bob) Davis died vacationing in Cuba February 22. Born June 11, 1934 to late Aubrey Acheson Davis and late Bishop W.W. Davis (Helen Davis), Bob was a larger than life innovative educator. In the 1960s he co-founded Everdale Place school community and This Magazine is About Schools and later Mudpie Magazine. He was active in teacher politics and developed an engaging, effective teaching of working-class and racially diverse students. Founder of The Spadina Road Tabernacle Band, Bob brought to life a unique Canadian justice-oriented musical culture. He authored books on education, music and politics.

Bob always wore his great cowboy hat so years ago I dubbed him “Buffalo Bob”. We met in the early 80s as he was engaged in critical curriculum work in the public school system, similar to my own work in Catholic education.To me he was the quintessential public educator.His life was also a living text, an open book which reflected the liberation perspective of the many courses he taught in both high school and university.Maybe his most amazing feat was developing and teaching a Black History curriculum as a white man. Such was his deep sympathies for those on the margins of history.

Bob never stopped thinking and writing about what teaching is all about.

How ironic and fitting that he dies in Cuba visiting places of the Revolution.And reading Malcolm X’s biography.Man that was a fitting exit for the Buffalo man. Education as liberation.

To me Bob was a master teacher, always listening, reading, thinking, revising and caring about those with little voice.He was also a regular member of my “communion of saints”, a fellow traveller on the Kingdom road of peace and justice.

How fitting as well to have a funeral on Oscar Romero Day at Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Square, Toronto Eaton Centre, 3 PM March 24.