Sunday, November 15, 2015

Of Courage and Cowardice

I'm beginning to fear that our society is more seriously, intractably divided than I had imagined.

The Harper Decade of Darkness was spent focusing on the dark art of wedge politics  with fear mongering and appeals to base instincts and biases. These are the tools Harper employed on his supporters. He made them fear the "other" lurking about waiting to pounce on rightwing righteousness.

Harper knew that he didn't have to get that many voters to claim power, even an outright majority. He knew that, with the fearful and the bigots, he was a shoo-in.

In the wake of the Paris bombings I've read a lot of rightwing reaction to Justin Trudeau's decision to end Canada's participation in America's hapless bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. They uniformly slam Trudeau for cowardice.

Cowardice? What is that but a fear reaction in the face of some threat of death or bodily harm? If withdrawing those six CF-18s is cowardice then sending them must somehow be courageous. When it came to Harper I never saw any sign of courage. In fact the only event I can remember is when Harper bolted into the janitor's closet leaving his caucus to possibly face the gunman firing outside. That was cowardice. Ordering a little dollop of jet fighters hither and yon isn't courageous, it's politically expedient.

Yet as I read these remarks there was something almost Tea Partyish to them. They seemed disconnected from fact. I began to sense that Harper may have actually radicalized at least a good segment of the rightwing base which may ensure that we'll remain a sharply divided society. These types are quite venomous. We've had their kind on the Left also but we didn't really tolerate them much less cultivate them. The Right, however, may see these radicals as the building blocks for their restoration and I think that should worry all of us.

The presence of a radical right could well surface if the moderates seek to reclaim the Conservative Party from its Reform wing. We'll just have to wait as the leadership candidates emerge.  If the radical right is cultivated, mobilized for the leadership contest, then I think we're looking at the continuation of a sharply divided society for years to come and just at a time when we need social cohesion more than ever.

A divided society is not simply unpleasant. It's a weakened society, one that invites, even rewards, somewhat more extreme political ideologies. This, in turn, makes it more difficult to find the common ground that unites all of us. Politics becomes a feud. I so hope we don't succumb to that.

Cross your fingers.


Scotian said...

I was away from from home Friday late afternoon until yesterday evening, and when I came home I checked Kinsella's site as one of my first places to see how the reaction to the Paris attacks were going. I ended up leaving a comment in the thread you linked to in your prior post, where I went after this notion of Trudeau needing to walk back the commitment on the combat planes being withdrawn, the underlying reasons while Trudeau is still correct to make the shifts he has already planned on, and how disgusted I was seeing this move being so grossly misrepresented as cowardice and running away when it is clearly no such thing. In the nearly 24 hrs since I left that comment it has been curiously ignored while others have been attacked for being not militant enough and for being on the side of the surrender monkeys (not that anyone there was using this phrase, but the attitude is the same as those that used it to browbeat Americans in the run-up to Iraq War insanity 03), despite my making clear at the end after dealing with the actual merits of the military choices made by Trudeau IMHO that I found the partisan way some there were using/abusing the Paris attacks truly offensive.

I'm noting this because usually when I leave comments like this there I get at least some trashing by the usual suspects, but this time they are leaving me entirely alone, and I'm finding that interesting, because I was making clear that their core argument was a fundamental lie, that shifting to working with training ground troops and such was still being an active member of that coalition against ISIS. That in terms of actual military logic and our capabilities we were getting about the worst bang for our buck with the combat planes approach, and that we would be making far smarter and better resource use by shifting the resources they were draining into the training and refugee management components of the coalition work, and that there were clear strategic arguments for this need, and that we as a nation were one of the best equipped for doing so. Far more so than with those six combat planes. Namely that this would be a far better bang for the buck, and that it would be contributing to actually fighting smarter to try to win as opposed to satisfying this need to beat one's dicks.

Indeed, I made specific reference to Trudeau's whipping out the F18s argument and its wisdom, if bluntness, and to how the Harper mission approach with the planes was about imagery and trying to play dick beating games and not about actually trying to fight and win this conflict in a serious way. So I was expecting some shots, yet none came, at least not so far, and I have to wonder if they are actually afraid to try this time because I made an argument they cannot refute without showing their own lack of clothes situation. I then after leaving that site came here and saw your own thread reacting to that post at Kinsella's and the reaction it was getting from too many on the CPC side of things, and while I chose to not respond last night I did take note of it.

I think your conclusions in this thread about the Harper CPC having radicalized a certain percentage of the hard core right in this country carries weight. Sadly, I've always known there was a certain degree of that out there, you cannot live in a city like Halifax and not see some of it given how much military culture and heritage exists around here, but to be seeing it manifesting the way it is these days is something new and very disturbing. It is something the rest of us are going to need to keep a careful watch on. You and I do not always see eye to eye on everything military, but we both understand realities dealing with it, whereas these folks clearly do not, and when talking about something as serious as this area is, that is incredibly dangerous for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Harper said that we would not recognise Canada when he was through with it!!
those words were his legacy to Canada.
We now live in a less caring, more frightened selfish ,self centred version of this country I have ever experienced.
Needless to say the properties that will be effected by climate change will protected by both Federal & Provincial Governments with aid from their supporters in the development and real estate industries( aka Gordon Campbell).
At the end of the day the deniers will be , well, protected at the expense of the masses( and reality).

Toby said...

Mound, I have long been curious in the irrational fears of old people. The older they get the more irrational the fears. One would think that older Canadians would be more fearful of politicians cutting the health care budget but there is greater fear of terrorists. That the chance of being a victim of terrorism in Canada is greater than winning the 649 jackpot twice provides no solace to those inclined to such fears. Stephen Harper preyed on such people.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Scotian. This is the perfect stuff for chickenhawks. Those who scream loudest and usually those least likely to see themselves in battle dress, either in the past or especially in future. War is far more appealing to some from a safe distance.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Toby - When we're young we think of ourselves as immortal. We're more apt to go looking for challenges such as racing bikes or learning to fly fast jets, that sort of thing.

As we get old we become enfeebled. Much of it can't be helped. Our senses dull, sometimes vanish. We feel vulnerable, less able to repel boarders so to speak. This makes us susceptible to fearmongers. Harper knew this full well and it served him very effectively.

Scotian said...


Chickenhawks really tend to irk me in special ways. I spent years of my teens as a cadet, was planing on reg forces as an adult but ripped up my right knee less than two months after turning 19, which put an end to that notion, and I come from a family rich with military service within its heritage, including a father who was in the army reserve in his youth and the prior generations in both World Wars. It never ceases to amaze me how many of these chickenhawks have little to no real connections to the military in any serious way, they just seem to glamourize it and service, but put their own skin, or the skin of those they care about on the line, and suddenly it stops seeming so glamourous to them, doesn't it.

This is one of those things where I take matters very seriously, if you recall I was absolutely livid back in the Harper minority days when it was first being revealed that our soldiers were being ordered to violate the Geneva Conventions by turning over prisoners to those who we knew used torture and then covered it up. The element of it that had me so infuriated was how it exposed these soldiers to future war crimes prosecutions, and because they were in a combat theatre the odds that they would refuse were low given what that would buy them too, so they were put between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea indeed by those that claimed to be the only ones who really honoured our military and our veterans. To that point it was the thing that most infuriated me with the Harper government, which when you consider all the issues I had had with it from literally day one says a lot now, doesn't it.

So to now be hearing these same voices trashing Trudeau for actually being sensible with our military and military commitments, saying he has to continue the disastrous and frankly stupid Harper combat mission with the jets, well it causes that old deep seated rage to come up again. This is for me as much about our honour as a nation and of those that have served honourably in the past and do in the present as it is foreign policy. I have a special place in my heart for loathing those like this. Especially when they allowed themselves to have as a standard bearer someone who proved himself to be a total physical and moral coward when his moment came last year with the Parliament Hill shooter. We know how quickly it all happened, so we know that what Harper did reflected his first impulse and basic nature, and it was to flee and cower and leave everyone else as stalking goats to protect him. He could have led from the back and given moral support, but no, he found the nearest place to hide and cower in and did exactly that. Yet he is still venerated by the same voices that cheered on his whipping out the F18s, and want Trudeau to continue following in those footsteps.

What a sick, twisted, and perverse way to deal with this serious issue, and what a disgusting way to abuse a tragedy for partisan purposes before it has even been 24hrs old. Yet these are the same people who claim to care about honour, integrity, and see themselves as the only true defenders of the Canadian legacy of nobility. To call that irony, to call that oxymoronic, is to so understate reality I know not the words to truly describe it.

Toby said...

At the barber shop this morning I got an earful of nonsense about the Paris attacks, about Trudeau doing everything wrong, about awful immigrants (Syrian, East Indian) gang warfare and how Harper did such a good job. Very little actual facts. One wonders how the eternal gabfest creates the fantasy.

One thing is obvious: if the Paris attacks had happened two days before the Canadian election Harper would have another majority.

Anonymous said...

Anyong said: Toby, "I have long been curious in the irrational fears of old people. The older they get the more irrational the fears." I have to say I am old or considered to be so by some. But I can tell you, that if I had to pick up a gun to defend anyone being attacked I would. And, I am female. And I am quite aware of Harper's fear mongering. Having said that I would like to add; people are saying not all Muslims are monsters. Imagine a bowl of M&Ms with 10% of them poisoned. Would you eat a handful?