Saturday, February 25, 2017

Immigrant rant

Let me ask you:

A President or a Prime Minister does something against the will of Congress or Parliament, like signing an executive order to do something. Is this an example of leadership, or abuse of authority?

What's funny is if the answer changes depending on if the President/Prime Minister is your party or not, that's a sure sign you are a political nut bar. It shouldn't matter. It's right or wrong no matter which party.

I've been getting more and more appalled by politicians as I get older. There's a saying that if you love sausage you shouldn't watch the process of making them. Perhaps over the years I've just become more aware of what's happening as laws get made, or unmade.

It's impossible to escape Trumpism. He is the complete personification of what is wrong with American politics, and because he's fooled the Republicans (not a difficult thing to do) into thinking he's one of them, they won't do anything about it. They are completely amoral about gaining and keeping power. They'd do a multi-year investigation if they woke up thinking Hillary Clinton had used a toothbrush manufactured in China, or one of her aides had talked to someone who talked to a Russian about politics, but will turn a blind eye to the many issues Trump has, from conflict of interest, to taking payments, to being susceptible to being blackmailed by the Russians.

But it's happening elsewhere too. Europe has always had a strain of nasty right wing politics. Canada had escaped until recently. Harper unleashed the full power of wedge politics, emphasizing the differences between Canadians and driving them further apart for political purposes. Disagreeing with Harper, as the environmental protesters did, got you called a terrorist.

Now some of his short-pants brigade are carrying on, trying to stoke fears of immigrants in general and Muslims in particular. They talk about values, and personal freedom, and removing "crushing regulation." That's dog whistling code. It just means they want to eliminate social spending because everybody should have the freedom to provide for themselves and their families. That or starve on the streets, but only streets where the rich wouldn't drive. Regulation that ensures a level playing field and that safety standards are met is deemed to be an assault on free enterprise. Any payroll taxes are anti-business in spite of the fact that all businesses are subject to the same rules, and thus are not a differentiating factor. More code, meaning they think only people that own businesses count.

Mostly they appeal to fear. They stoke fear of change, fear of people different than "us", fear of hazy impossibilities like Sharia law. Fear that the people talking a different language are talking about you and plotting something. Fear that the people minding their own business and going to church are somehow doing something different than what you do when you go to church. Fear that taxes might go up and (gasp!) somebody else might get a slice of it or be spent on something you don't approve of. They yearn for the good old days. Yes, the days when women and brown-skinned people "knew their place."

And those values they prate about. The "Canadian values." Who gets to decide what they are? If it's the PC party, clearly tolerance for immigration is not one of those values. Being Christian would certainly have been a Canadian value in times past, but certainly not now. Except maybe in certain politician's minds. At one time genocide of the Native peoples was a Canadian value, and I'd like to think nobody would think it now is. It's all just more dog whistling code, meant to reassure the voters listening to the politician that their values are the important ones. The next town might have a subtly different set of values, and the politician will cheerfully pander to them too.

All that is bad enough, but what really annoys me is the stupidity of the messaging. It's an insult to the intelligence, but it seems to work. They have mastered and applied the Mencken saying "No one has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby."

Every day I see something that causes me to think to myself, "who could be stupid enough to believe that?" And yet they do. I don't know if it's that they're blinded by fear and grasp any straw that validates that fear or a way to escape it, or they don't see the logical impossibility of it, or overlook their human experience because they approve of the person saying it. Sort of like Groucho Marx "Who are you going to trust, me or your lying eyes?"

Who are you going to believe? Trump and his wanna-be cohort in the PC party, or your day to day experience with your neighbours and coworkers? It's pretty safe to say that the victims of "Muslim terrorism" in Canada is a minuscule number. I mean actual victims, not some weenie cowering in fear of an imaginary possibility. If anything, the Muslims are the victims of oppression by segments of society that treat them all like terrorists. Cows kill more people every year in Canada than Muslim terrorists.

Outside of Canada? ISIS or DAESH, and Al Queda, and who knows how many other extremist groups are horrible people, driven to torturing and killing anyone that doesn't agree with them. Oddly enough, much like the Catholic Inquisition mostly killed Catholics, it's Muslims that are mostly the victims of these groups. The NRA is much the same in the USA, enabling the slaughter of thousands of innocent people a year.

Should something be done about it? In a theoretical sense, yes. In a practical today's world sort of sense, I'm not so sure, mainly because I'm not sure what exactly should be done. I'm reasonably convinced that dropping bombs on them, using drones to fire missiles, or sending an army to fight them is the wrong thing to do. Bombing didn't destroy British moral during the blitz, or German moral during the remainder of the war, so I'm fairly sure it's not going to work on religious extremists of any stripe. It just fuels their recruitment drives. That situation is what has created the Muslim refugee crisis in the first place.

Just as you or I would be, the refugees are desperate to escape a horrible situation. The world they knew has been destroyed. None the less, Muslim refugees are the last people on earth I would worry about when they come here. They've already been through hell and a vetting process that I'm pretty sure that some people born in Canada couldn't pass. The various waves of refugees that have come to Canada over multiple generations all say the same thing. They want a safe place to raise their families and give their children a better life. The last thing they want is to see is this place de-stabalized.

I'm the demographic that the fear politicians are pandering to. They are trying to make me and people like me afraid. I'm born here, white as they come, a boomer, a male, could pass for a Christian though I'm not, and lots of people would say I'm rich. I'd beg to differ on that last point, but it depends on what your standards are. I say FUCK YOU! Take your fear and shove it where the sun don't shine.

My next door neighbours are immigrants. Good people, hard working till they retired, live quietly, and I couldn't dream of them being in trouble with the law. I've worked with lots of people born in other countries, some devout Muslims, but mostly I never knew or cared what religion they were or where they came from. None of my business. I'm not afraid of change, and I'm not afraid of being around people different than me. They bring new ideas and a fresh perspective, to say nothing of awesome cuisine.

The safest Canada, if that's your goal, is one where everybody has the chance to contribute and be respected, to get the education they want, to pursue the career they want, and not be held back by artificial barriers of race, skin colour, religion, or anything else. The investment in getting immigrants settled, that is, helping them find a place to live, build connections to the local community, learning to speak English or French, to find jobs, is small compared to the lifetime of productivity from them and their children.

And yes, before you get started, the same should be true of the various Native peoples and the homeless. It's a shame that most Native people do not have access to safe drinking water, and that's just a start. There's lots of issues there, different ones, and they need to be resolved too. The important thing is that Canada is not so poor that it's an either or situation. Getting all these people into the economy is a step forward, and the investment is small compared to the reduced social costs, and return from increased economic activity.

I've said this many times. The Canada of today, for better or worse, is built by immigrants and their children in a complex mix with First Nations Canadians. It is the height of hypocrisy to declare your opposition to immigrants, unless you are one of those First Nation's people. I'll take it from them, because by their standards I'm an immigrant and a Johnny come lately. The people whipping up anti-immigrant fury deserve your contempt, expressed whenever and where ever you find it. That alone is reason to vote against them.

Overwhelmingly, the people leading the Western world have been old, white, (nominally) Christian men. They sent young men to be slaughtered by the millions in various wars. They've whipsawed the economy to their personal benefit at the cost of nearly everyone else. They lay off workers here and set up factories overseas where they can get cheaper labour and little or no safety standards because it's good for their company and them personally. They rig the voting rules and gerrymander districts to retain power. They don't believe in climate change if it impacts their way of life, and ecological considerations don't apply when they want to build a factory or pipeline.

Are they really doing such a good job of running things? I'd say not. I laughed out loud at the woman who said she wouldn't vote for any female politician because she'd start a war, boom, if it was the wrong time of the month. It isn't the female politicians starting wars. As an aside, tell me again why or how a Muslim country has had a female Prime Minister, while our only female Prime Minister achieved the position via the peculiarities of the Canadian political system and didn't survive the next election, and the USA ended up with Trump rather than Clinton.

I sometimes wonder if we should ban those old (say over 30) white men from running for office. Maybe we should have a few hundred years where only women and brown skinned men are allowed to run for office. Look, by any objective measure Obama was one of the best Presidents the USA has ever had. Nenshi has been a superb mayor of Calgary. There are other examples. Just think, could they possibly do a worse job?

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