Nazi Monuments in Canada?

A few months ago I reviewed a Michael Powell film called the 49th Parallel, where he dramatized Canadians of German descent rejecting attempts by Hitler’s agents to recruit them into the Nazi Cause. Well it turns out to have been more complex than Powell’s great but admittedly propagandistic film. After the Second World War, the Canadian government went out of its way to recruit Ukrainian fascists, mostly, it seems, to break unions in the mining industry. Canada even has officially sanctioned monuments to the Waffen SS.

Graffiti spray-painted on a monument to Nazi soldiers in a small Canadian city is being investigated by police as a hate crime – a move that has prompted disbelief among human rights advocates.

Around 21 June, the words “Nazi war monument” were spray-painted on to a cenotaph commemorating soldiers in the 14th SS Division in an Ontario cemetery, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

It’s stuff like this that makes me so wary of Russiagate, and how much power the Ukraine Lobby has gotten over the Democratic Party in the United States. Sure, Russia is a corrupt, right-wing capitalist oligarchy (kind of like the United States), but every time I look at social media and see gangs of shrieking banshees calling for more sanctions on Russia it makes my bullshit detector go off. For the love of God let’s not replace the influence of the Israel Lobby (which itself replaced the right wing China Lobby) with the influence of the Ukraine or Saudi lobby.

It also seems that one of the most powerful politicians in Canada is the granddaughter of a Ukrainian collaborator.

When asked at a press conference on March 6 about the allegations that her maternal grandfather was a Nazi collaborator, Chrystia Freeland, newly appointed Foreign Minister of Canada, former journalist and a writer, a master of words, found only clumsy sentences to deliver what would have earned no more than a ‘C’ in a high school debate class.

“It’s no secret that Russians do not like you and banned you from the country,” began the question. “Recently, there has been a series of articles in pro-Russian websites about you and your maternal grandparents, making accusations that [your grandfather] was a Nazi collaborator. I’d like to get your view—is this a disinformation campaign by the Russians to try to smear you and discredit you, which they have a tendency to do?”

My long standing impression of Canada as the United States with healthcare and without the racism was naive.

Contrast that to how the Canadian government handled a related issue last year when the Russian Embassy in Ottawa tweeted out that, “There are monumets (sic) to Nazi collaborators in Canada and nobody is doing anything about it.”

A monument in Oakville commemorates those who served with the 14th SS Galizien Division. Another monument in Edmonton honors Roman Shukhevych, the leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

As my Postmedia colleague Marie-Danielle Smith discovered, the Russian tweet sent bureaucrats at Global Affairs Canada into overdrive as they tried to defend the SS unit and Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. Documents she received through the Access to Information law show government officials were under a lot of pressure from the “Centre” (the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister’s Office) to counter the news about the monuments to Nazi collaborators. The bureaucrats came up with a strategy. The would label the tweet as “disinformation” and they came up with a plan to spread the word to the news media as part of their efforts to defend Ukraine’s Nazi collaborators.

I guess this is the ideal, not the reality.

RIP John Lewis

John Lewis has lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.

His later support for the Clintons and the Democratic Party establishment was disappointing, but there’s no question that he was one of the most important leaders against the totalitarian one-party, segregationist state that existed in the South until 1964, the year before I was born.

Whenever you hear a “conservative” talk about the evils of “big government,” it’s important to keep in mind the most repressive social order in American history was implemented, not by the federal government, but by state and local governments in the Jim Crow South.

Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Loving vs. Virginia in 1967, “government” in the Southern states could tell you who you could marry, who you could socialize with, where you could go to the bathroom, where you could live, and where you could go to school. It was totalitarianism on a massive scale administered, not by SS Gauleiters or Soviet Commissars, but by uneducated hick politicians and pot-bellied local sheriffs. It lasted from the disputed election of 1876 almost into my lifetime. It was as bad as anything in Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa, and John Lewis risked his life multiple times in an ultimately successful effort to bring it down. In many ways, as evidenced by the election of Donald Trump, the evil spirit of segregation and white supremacy haunts us to this day.

Steven Salaita on “Free Speech”

The pro-Palestinian college professor (now bus driver) who lost his academic career because he took the idea of “free speech” a little too seriously is probably better qualified to write about the issue than I am.

In short, free speech isn’t merely an ideal that allows everyone to have a say, commie and Nazi alike.  It is a politic, a sensibility, a custom, a rhetorical device outfitted to the reproduction of bourgeois common sense.  It elides the relationship of access with subservience.  It pretends to be a universal liberty while maintaining a slick ability to rationalize fine-tuned mechanisms of blacklisting and persecution.  It unconsciously facilitates the status quo.  The Nazi always comes out ahead in this arrangement.

p.s. Unlike Salaita, I like Ulysses Grant, Max Blumenthal and Matt Taibbi but the central argument of his essay is pretty sound. The idea of “free speech” is pretty meaningless outside of a political and economic context. So I guess we’ll just have to disagree on the 18th President of the United States.

Does “free speech” matter in a world where words are meaningless?

Yesterday a group of elite intellectuals and journalists published an “open letter” in Harper’s Magazine defending the idea of “free speech.”

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms.

On the surface the letter sounds reasonable. You shouldn’t be fired from your job or have your life ruined just because you have an unpopular opinion. Take it from someone who has been “canceled” on social media by a digital mob who accused me of being “ableist” and “transphobic” simply because I recommended that people read Mark Twain on the French Revolution, social media “illiberalism” on the left has gotten out of hand. The letter was signed by people I admire, Noam Chomsky and David Blight, by people that I despise, Malcolm Gladwell, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and by a few nobodies trying to make a name for themselves.

So what’s not to like? Open closer examination you notice that the letter was also signed by several prominent opponents of “free speech,” Bari Weiss, who spent her undergraduate career at Columbia snitching out professors she considered insufficiently pro-Israel, and Carey Nelson, who destroyed Steven Salaita’s academic career at the University of Illinois. It also includes Michelle Goldberg, who jump started her career in journalism by providing “liberal” cover for Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The anti-war movement, she argued back in 2003, were all a bunch of dirty commmies. The Harper’s letter, in other words, is a massive exercise in hypocrisy.

But it goes a lot deeper than that. Just because a few neoconservatives and Zionists signed a letter supporting the idea of “free speech” doesn’t make the letter wrong. You don’t refuse to sign an “open letter” because someone you don’t like signed it the day before. Half the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the most famous “open letter” in history, hated one another’s guts.

Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill defined the liberal idea of “freedom” in the late 18th and early 19th Century. Back then you could disagree about politics, or even about the meaning of words, but everybody in the educated, English (and French) speaking-world were, to state the obvious, “educated.” They were elite, bourgeois men, and some women, who grew up writing letters, spending long periods of time reading books, who studied Latin and Greek in college, and who agreed upon certain “rules of debate.” For the British government, who gave Karl Marx political asylum, that he argued for the destruction of capitalism was less important than the fact than he was a “gentleman,” that he had a PhD from a German University and the support of rich capitalists like Frederick Engels. It also didn’t hurt that he had been kicked out of Paris by the French since pissing off the French has always been a favorite British pastime. “Hey we English value open debate. What’s wrong with you Frogs and Krauts?” Had Marx been Indian, African, or even Irish his treatment would have been a lot different, but even then, as the example of Frederick Douglass shows, if you could master the language of the educated bourgeoisie, you could get an audience, even among people who disagreed with you.

These days words are meaningless. Words are no longer words. They’re more like “variables” in Python or C++. The ruling class, the people who have access to the media and the universities, can redefine, or to use the more appropriate term, “overwrite” them any time they want. So for a Zionist like Bari Weiss, Carey Nelson or Michelle Goldberg, supporting Palestinian rights and criticizing Israel isn’t “speech.” It’s “antisemitism.” For people like Cary Nelson, banning Steven Salaita from the University of Illinois is no different from the German government banning statues of Adolf Hitler in the public square or the French government outlawing Holocaust denial. There’s no contradiction in their minds between destroying Steven Salaita’s academic career and signing an open letter virtue signaling about “freedom.” On the other hand, when a nice English lady like J.K. Rowling argues that transgender men and women aren’t men and women, we shouldn’t be rude and call her a “terf.” That’s just wrong.

Noam Chomsky is at the very least consistent. He believes that fascists deserve “free speech.” Most of us don’t. The problem is that for Bari Weiss and Cary Nelson, people like me, and Steven Salaita, anti-Zionists who support Palestinian rights, aren’t simply political opponents. We’re the Nazis. We’re the ones who should be tarred and feather and driven out of town. In theory, it’s an argument for “free speech.” The word “antisemitism” means different things to different people. So let’s have an open debate. In reality, Bari Weiss and Cary Nelson have the ability to redefine what words mean. I don’t. Think of it this way. Think of the public discourse as a data center. I know JavaScript and Node.js pretty well. Does that mean Amazon is going to let me overwrite functions on their servers? In 2020, there’s simply no such thing as a “public discourse.” There are hundreds of compartmentalized private discourses, any one of which, like my Twitter account, can be shut down any time the owner wants it to, and all of which operate within a rhetorical framework written by the NY Times, MSNBC, Fox and the Washington Post.

Over the past few years, Bernie Sanders has been “canceled,” labeled “racist and sexist” by the educated, liberal elite because he argues that we should abolish the health insurance industry, that healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. In other words, he’s a threat to their yachts and their kids trust funds. Joe Biden, who has vowed the veto Medicare for All if it ever came up for a vote, and Hillary Clinton, who has pointed out that single payer healthcare in the United States will “never ever happen,” don’t come out and say “I’m in favor of for profit health insurance and 8 figure salaries for the CEOs of companies who produce Oxycontin.” Of course they’re for the idea of healthcare as a human right. They don’t even bother pointing out that they’re for “access” to healthcare and not necessarily “healthcare.” They simply say what they think you want to hear and carry out the agenda of the ruling class anyway. What exactly are we going to do about it? Nothing. Without the power to overwrite words, words are meaningless.


Social Media Shaming Versus Guns

Yesterday two wealthy middle-aged lawyers in Saint Louis were so terrified of a group of Black Lives Matter protesters who marched into their gated community that they stood on their front lawn in front of their gaudy mansion brandishing their guns.

I suppose the protesters were guilty of trespassing, but rarely has one image so perfectly summed up how Americans look to the rest of the world.

Donald Trump and the right-wing media have already started putting this couple up on a pedestal, calling them heroes.

In the short run,  I suspect that both of them are going to learn that the soft power of social media shaming is more powerful than an AR-15. Who exactly wants to hire a lawyer so paranoid and hateful that he, or she, would murder people for trespassing? A confident ruling class has no need for threats. It rules by propaganda, by its ability to convince the rest of us that it’s deserving of its power and privilege. These two look ridiculous. I suspect that even among their fellow bourgeois elites they’re going to be very lonely for the next few years.

In the long run, however, this is a sign of the ugliness to come.The (mainly black and brown) working-class is starting to feel more confident about violating the gates and the boundaries society has set up to keep them down. A lot of rich, hateful white assholes are just dying to shoot somebody. It’s also why I’m a rare person on the far-left who’s in favor of gun control.  Absolutely nothing good can come of any of this.

Arrest Trump

The Iranian government has issued an arrest warrant for Donald Trump.

Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked Interpol for help in detaining US President Donald Trump and dozens of others it believes carried out the drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad.

The American corporate media is going to treat this as a joke. After all, the only people who get prosecuted for war crimes are Serbians and Africans. But the Iranians are well within their rights to demand justice against the criminal government that ordered the assassination of one of their top generals. The Democratic Party and the Clinton crime family have demonized Russia for years simply because of an alleged hack of (idiot Boomer) John Podesta’s email. Can you imagine how the American government and media would react if the Iranians ordered the assassination of one of the Join Chiefs of Staff?

So end the double standard between the Global North and the Global South. Someone make a citizens arrests of Trump and lock him up. It would solve (many of the) problems of both Iran and the United States.

Tik Tok Teens Have Managers?

In addition to being unbelievably sad, there’s something quite revealing about the story of Siya Kakkar, a 16-year-old New Delhi girl who had over a million followers on the Chinese streaming media service. She not only committed suicide. She had a manager.

In the social media post, Viral wrote: “Arjun Sarin who just spoke to her last night for a song collaboration, and he says she was in a good mood and perfectly alright. Even he has no clue what went wrong that she had to go this way.”

I have no idea if Arjun Sarin is a big time entertainment executive or just a family friend, but it’s clear that Tik Tok, which has recently been declared the authentic voice of Generation Z, is also a marketing platform. Does a 16-year-old girl just become an overnight media sensation? Or is Tik Tok promoting children as viral stars in order to build a platform which can be used later for advertising, propaganda, or political disinformation? Who knows? The last time I was part of the demographic Tik Tok is targeting, Ronald Reagan was President. But it’s always worth examining any company that just kind of appears out of nowhere and suddenly changes the social media landscape.

Twitter, for example, was originally marketed as a hangout for outsiders and edgy radicals. Just ask any liberal about “Black Twitter” and she’ll probably tell you it’s the second coming of the Civil Rights Movement. But it seems clear to me that Twitter has always been a way for corporate America to corral independent journalists and left wing political activists into an online sheep pen where they can more easily be controlled, and where the discourse on the “left” can be brought into an intellectual framework that favors American imperialism. The number of “anarchists” on Twitter agitating for regime change in Syria and Iran is revealing. Get a little too out of line, the way I did last year, and you will immediately be de-platformed. Also, notice how Twitter’s “trending hashtags” blur the boundaries between advertising and organic discourse that comes from below. How many of them are genuine? How many have been paid for. And how exactly does Twitter make money anyway.

In any event, RIP Siya Kakkar. When I was 16-years-old I felt completely alone. I guess you felt the exact same way. I guess you can have a million followers and still not have anybody who really understands you.

Every once in awhile I realize just how much we deserved 9/11


So we now have a genuine American war criminal as a spokesman for public safety, offering himself up as the symbol of a “real man” to assure our brainwashed, fundamentalist Christian, inbred redneck masses that wearing a mask during the Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t make you a candidate for gay conversion therapy or a minion of George Soros. How charming. Well, I suppose that if Hitler had won the war, and the Wehrmacht had brought back some nasty bug from the frozen Russian steppe, we might have had Hermann Göring or Albert Speer, or maybe Baldur von Schirach doing a similar PSA. “Protect yourself Germans. Real Ayrans wear masks. Don’t let the Jews, Slavs and Gypsies win. We didn’t exterminate the Poles just so we could kill our grandfathers and grandmothers with the ‘Warsaw Virus.'”

The United States is not a democracy

Yesterday, in Kentucky, there was massive voter suppression. It got so bad that people were banging on the windows to protest their inability to vote. Whether it was the Democratic Governor’s Covid regulations or the Republicans preparing for November doesn’t matter. If this were a scene from Iran or Venezuela, every newspaper in America would be calling for immediate regime change.

(Come to think of it, sending the Marines into Kentucky might not be a bad idea).

In any event, things aren’t looking good for Trump in the polls. So expect a lot more of this in the Fall. If the Republicans can’t win a fair election, they’ll try to steal it the way they did in 2000. My prediction still stands. This November, the Republicans are suddenly going to find that they love social distancing and will close down a majority of the polls “for our safety.” Nancy Pelosi, in turn, will make a point of ripping her mask off in public just before she votes. Going maskless will then become a “badass” feminist statement.

A Surprisingly Honest Headline


Poland is one of the four dumbest countries on the planet. The United States is another. Here are the other two (shithole countries).

Poland loves the U.S. president. Unlike their neighbors Germany, where a Pew poll showed only 13 percent of citizens have confidence in the U.S. president “to do the right thing in global affairs,” Polish citizens have faith—51 percent of Poles polled trust the president on the global stage. Poles also have a highly favorable opinion of the United States, which at 79 percent was only beaten by the Philippines (80 percent) and Israel (83 percent).

It would be tempting to say that the Israelis are dumber than the Poles, but we all know that’s not the case. The Israelis buy American weapons, but they do it on American money. The Poles are just begging to pay the United States “protection money” under the illusion that the United States military will keep their little homophobic, white supremacist, Islamophobic shithole of a country safe from the big bad Russians.

In March 2018, Poland signed a contract worth nearly $5 billion for the Patriot air and missile defense system.  Poland is also procuring the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), worth $411 million, which will improve its indirect fire capabilities.  Poland is considering purchasing 32 F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters plus services and support worth ~$4.5 billion under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program overseen by the U.S. Department of State.  This procurement will help Poland replace its fleet of aging MiG-29 and Su-22 aircraft.

Currently, the U.S. has $10.52 billion in active government-to-government sales cases with Poland under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system.  FMS cases notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant sales include:  the F-35, the HIMARS, F-16 follow-on support, AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), and the Integrated Air and Missile (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS)-enabled Patriot Configuration-3+ with Modernized Sensors and Components.

From CY 2010 through CY 2018, the U.S. has also authorized the permanent export of over $1.8 billion in defense articles to Poland via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process.  The top categories of DCS to Poland were aircraft ($780 million); electronics ($277 million); and gas turbine engines ($260 million).

Seriously if the current government of Poland were managing a Starbucks they would have taken this deal.