Should Mohamed come to hill or hill should come to Mohamed?

Στην αγωνια της ομογενειας, η απαντηση δεν ειναι εθνο/ευρω-κεντρικες αηδιες σαν τους πανελληνες.

Η απαντηση ειναι να συνειδητοποιησουμε ποιοι ειμαστε, να συνειδητοποιησουμε πού ειμαστε.

Και να πιασουμε δραση στο εδω, στο τωρα.

Αλλωστε, το μονο που πρεπει να παρατηρησουμε ειναι οτι οπως ο Ζισκαρ λεει οτι η Ελλαδα ειναι “οχι-ακριβως-Ευρωπη”, ετσι ακριβως εδω μιλανε για “Νορθ Αμερικα” και εμμεσα αφηνουνε απεξω οτιδηποτε δεν ειναι κατατασσεται ως “Λαντ οφ δε Γουαιτ Πιπολ”: το Μεξικο, την Καραιβικη, τους καταυλισμους των Ινδιανων. Ε λοιπον που λες Ζισκαρ, “ηρθε ο Μωχαμετ στο βουνο“:

Should Mohamed come to hill or hill should come to Mohamed?

Justice overdue for Grassy Narrows

(Το αρθρο το εγραψε η συντροφισα Ναταλι για δημοσιευση στο rabble.ca.)

Over 50 people of all ages from Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) are travelling 2000 km to Toronto by foot, bus and rail from their territories 80 km north of Kenora, Ontario.

They are travelling such great distances for the 2012 River Run, a week of educational, media and social movement-building events June 5-8. They’re demanding justice for a series of health, economic and environmental wrongs that are still being ignored by the provincial and federal governments.

Grassy Narrows led a similar series of events two years ago to raise awareness about their community’s struggle for clean water, after the Ontario government allowed a Dryden pulp and paper mill to dump mercury into the English-Wabigoon River for eight years from 1962-1970.

Demanding action on water contamination 

The contamination has led to health concerns, impacts on their water, and affected fish, the basis of their subsistence and economy. With glaring inaction by governments to address their concerns, Grassy Narrows returns this year with a newly updated health study, speaking events, and a challenge to Premier McGuinty to come eat their community’s fish.

The week of action will culminate with a dramatic ‘River Run’ march to Queen’s Park, with 15,000 square feet of blue fabric which will be used to mimic the way the river should flow in their northern communities.

Though governments seem unwilling to address Grassy Narrows’ health concerns – including incidents of delayed development in children, cerebral palsy and seizures – Grassy Narrows is hoping today’s release of a newly updated health study on their community by renowned Japanese mercury expert Dr. Harada will garner the irrevocable attention of governments and Ontarians.

According to River Run 2012 organizers, Grassy Narrows are coming to create a “wild river that will flow to Queen’s Park to demand long overdue justice for their people and protection for the waters and forests on which they depend.”

Strong alliances of support for Grassy Narrows

Though it is unclear if governments will break with tradition and decide to take action to help clean up and monitor the impacts of mercury on these peoples’ water and health, what is clear is that the people of Grassy Narrows have been very successful in building awareness and support within a broader movement of environmental and indigenous solidarity activists across Ontario and other provinces and nations.

In addition to coping with the devastating impacts of the mercury-contamination scandal, members of Grassy Narrows have also led extraordinarily direct action blockades since 2002 to protect their forests from industrial logging. They’ve maintained the longest road blockade in Canadian history and built alliances with groups like the Christian Peacemakers and numerous environmental organizations who support their land defence, assertion of their Aboriginal rights and share their goals to protect Ontario’s threatened boreal forest.

Grassy Narrows’ inspiring direct actions continue. Last year, a group of women in Grassy Narrows blocked the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) from trying to interfere with their communities’ maintenance of bridges and back roads on their territories, used to access hunting, trapping, wild rice, medicine and berry picking areas.

Retaliation against community resistance

Ontario stopped maintaining the back roads in retaliation for Grassy Narrows’ strong stance against clearcutting. When Grassy Narrows took up the maintenance work themselves, they were visited by enforcement officers who issued threats of massive fines for their continued road and bridge maintenance.

“The MNR attempt to stop maintenance of the roads is an attack on our community’s self sufficiency,” said Roberta Keesick in 2011, a Grassy Narrows grandmother, trapper, and blockader. “It is another attempt by the Province to assert unilateral control over the Territory in violation of our inherent and treaty rights.”

The direct action forced the Minister to intervene and commit to fix the bridge at the governments expense, but grassroots Grassy Narrows organizers won’t stop until their right to make decisions on their own land is respected.

Youth take long walk for justice 

The community of Grassy Narrows continues to spawn new projects of resistance and strength in the face of such challenges, including the “Makade Mukwa Walk for Water”. A group of Indigenous Anishnabe youth have been walking since late April to make the 2000 km journey to Toronto for this week’s River Run.

Youth walker Edmond Jack says “we are walking with a group of young people to raise awareness about chemical dumping and mercury poisoning that the government and corporations have caused over the past decades, and to keep that message strong for the next generation, to carry on that message so that people don’t forget that the water is still being poisoned.”

Through their persistent direct actions, initiatives and events like the River Run, Grassy Narrows continues to inspire new generations of land defenders who are willing to take direct action to protect forests, waters and assert indigenous rights. Grassy Narrows’ grassroots leadership fosters a broader environmental justice movement by connecting the dots across social and environmental struggles, from human rights to safe drinking water, deforestation and impacts on wildlife and indigenous sovereignty.

Grassy’s ongoing community and movement building work extends to allies outside of their territories and northwestern Ontario. Over the decades, larger non-governmental organizations such as US-based Rainforest Action Network, Amnesty International, the Council of Canadians and Greenpeace Canada have helped publish reports and garner media attention for Grassy Narrows’ story and demands for justice.

Through personal relationship building with dedicated activists and supporters, newer grassroots organizing continues to sprout in different communities, like the Indigenous People’s Solidarity Movement in Winnipeg, which started as the Friends of Grassy Narrows solidarity group; and in Toronto the newly-founded Earth Justice Action: Supporting Indigenous Land Defense, which directs solidarity projects to support Grassy Narrows.

Though Grassy Narrows continues to assert their rights, demand justice through action and grow their support base, more advocates are always needed. Grassy Narrows invites everyone to join this year’s River Run events in Toronto and “continue a tradition of community led action for justice – for our people, and for the protection of the water, air, and forests that give us all life”.

Natalie Caine is a writer and community organizer based in Toronto, Ontario with a special interest in supporting environmental and social justice struggles through communications, media, research, facilitation and music. She is supporting the community of Grassy Narrows through education and outreach for the 2012 River Run.

Justice overdue for Grassy Narrows

RCMP McCarthyism

The CBC has a brilliant article on the “Joint Intelligence Group” set up by the RCMP (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s iconic version of the FBI) to spy on activists before (and apparently after) the G8/G20 protests last year. Read it here: G20 case reveals ‘largest ever’ police spy operation.

The article quotes extensively from the JIG’s records. Do read the entire article, there are some very good points made by comrade Kalin Stacey about the character of undercover investigations. But below I’m quoting some especially interesting -and chilling- parts of the article, some of which quote these records:

The JIG’s targets included activists protesting the Olympics, the migrant-justice group No One Is Illegal, Southern Ontario Anarchist Resistance and Greenpeace.

I’m a bit offended that RoR was not included in the list, but at any rate, NOII and …Greenpeace were deemed dangerous enough to plant undercovers in? It’s entirely insane. But then again, insanity is the basis of McCarthyism, isn’t it?

“The 2010 G8 summit in Huntsville … will likely be subject to actions taken by criminal extremists motivated by a variety of radical ideologies,” reads a JIG report from June 2009, before the G20 summit was scheduled, that sets out the intelligence group’s mission. “These ideologies may include variants of anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, nihilism, socialism and/or communism.

“The important commonality is that these ideologies … place these individuals and/or organizations at odds with the status quo and the current distribution of power in society.”

There you have it. Good-old, pure Cold War anticommunism. We are talking about such a pure version of anticommunism that the RCMP even classifies socialism as a “radical ideology”. Glenn Beck would be proud. It makes me wander whether the RCMP is also running spying operations on Canada’s official opposition party, the NDP that still refers to socialism in its charter.

The criminalization of dissent is breath-taking. Being “at odds with the status quo and the current distribution of power” is seriously considered as a reason to be spied upon. It’s not “what you do”, it’s “what you think”, it’s about what political opinions you have and express.

(I’m finding the “and/or communism” reference at the end of the first paragraph particularly hilarious. It’s entirely indicative of the old-school anticommunism permeating the RCMP’s thinking. Consider nihilism: it’s bad enough on its own, eh? But combined with communism! ZOMFG, the horror!!)

But other than the McCarthyist ideological slant of the RCMP’s rationale for setting up the spying operation, there are some other interesting points. For example:

The same document indicates that the RCMP-led intelligence team made a series of presentations to private-sector corporations, including one to “energy sector stakeholders” in November 2011.

Yeah, just to be clear who the RCMP serves. It’s not the people, and it’s not the “public safety” they keep pushing in their public statements. Otherwise, they would be also at least mildly concerned with ensuring the public’s right to safe and peaceful protest, to protection from arbitrary arrest, kettling, the defense of habeas corpus and all those other dirty hippy ideas. No sir. It’s the corporations to which they gave series of presentations. No, they didn’t care to inform the public about its rights. The public was lied to and deliberately terrorized with phony laws.

Oh, and when they say “energy sector stakeholders”, I cannot but think of one particular industry, one that supposedly Canadians are “proud of”.

Finally, this little piece demonstrates the ridiculousness of the entire affair:

In all, the RCMP-led joint intelligence group — a conglomeration of federal, provincial and municipal police tasked with G8/G20 reconnaissance — employed more than 500 people at its peak, the records show. The group ran undercover operations, recruited confidential informants and liaised with domestic and foreign governments, law enforcement agencies and even corporations.

And all this intelligence gathering against the “internal enemy”, what did it produce? 6 people pleading guilty to “counselling mischief”. That’s it. “Counselling mischief”. “Mischief”, for crying out loud.

Anyway, here’s the statement from those 6 people and their co-accused. It’s definitely worth a read. Compared with the insanity of the RCMP, it’s an oasis of reason.

RCMP McCarthyism

28-10-11

Δεν το ειχα σκοπο, γιατι ειναι και λιγο αστειο για Τοροντο, αλλα βλεποντας το τι εγινε στις παρελασεις, μου τονωθηκε το φρονημα. Να λοιπον.

Αλληλεγγυη και τιμη στα λεβεντοπαιδα, κοριτσια και αγορια, που γυρισαν το κεφαλι αριστερα, που σηκωσαν μαυρα μαντηλια, που παρελασαν με πανω, που βγηκαν απο την παρελαση και ενωθηκαν με τους διαδηλωτες γονεις τους, που περαλασαν φορωντας μαυρα.

28-10-11

The “lazy Greek” stereotype in the G&M.

Today, the Globe and Mail ran a terrible cartoon by the otherwise brilliant Brian Gable that perpetuates the “lazy Greek” stereotype. You can see the cartoon here. I have never sent a “letter to the editor” before, never contacted a newspaper to complain. I’m just not that kind of person. But maybe it’s my exhaustion after seven months of very intense work that have culminated in three hellish work-weeks (the last week having put in more than 12-14 hours of work daily) to write three academic papers, that I feel really touchy about being called …lazy. So this time, I sent a letter:

Dear Mr Gable,

I am contacting you to express my indignation regarding your September
30th, 2011 editorial cartoon (http://is.gd/XUTpu1), that depicts a
laid-back, apparently lazy Greece, lying on a recliner besides a pool,
getting handouts from an oh-so-laborious Germany in a work suit.
Please do not get me wrong: I deeply believe in editorial and artistic
freedom, but this freedom also means that you should be open to
sincere criticism.

I feel deeply frustrated by your cartoon’s stereotyping of an entire
people, who is facing austerity so tremendous that for the first time
in generations has led middle class citizens turn to dumpster-diving
to find food… It makes me wonder whether you would feel as
comfortable promoting similarly racist stereotypes about other ethnic
and religious groups or maybe even entire races.

I am also deeply saddened by your cavalier disregard for reality and
facts regarding the “laziness” of Greeks. For this, I refer you to the
05/19/2011 article by Sven Böll and David Böcking in the German
magazine Spiegel “The Myth of a Lazy Southern Europe: Merkel’s Clichés
Debunked by Statistics” (available online: http://is.gd/WTcAEe).

In the introduction of his momentous book “The Balkans: Nationalism,
War & the Great Powers, 1804-1999”, Misha Glenny writes: “[…]
generalizations about the peoples who inhabit the region, and their
histories, were spread by media organizations, that had long ago
outlawed such cliches when reporting from Africa, the Middle East or
China. The Balkans apparently enjoy a special exemption from the rules
against stereotyping”.

I hope you have the honesty and courage to reflect on how you have
insulted my struggling family, my unemployed relatives and my friends
and colleagues who are pushed to either poverty or immigration just to
make ends meet.

Yours sincerely,


Michalis Famelis
__________________________________
PhD student,
Department of Computer Science,
University of Toronto

http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~famelis

Just to be clear: this is not a “good Greeks” versus “evil foreigners” case. We Greeks have many faults and are often more than happy to turn a blind eye to them. But lazy? Fuck no.

If you plan to write yourself to Mr. Gable, I urge you to not send a verbatim copy of my email. There’s no point in that, it only serves to dilute the message. Rather write down your own thoughts and feelings, write a real, personal email. And keep it respectful, of course.

The “lazy Greek” stereotype in the G&M.

Γεννησαμε!!

Στα μεσα καλοκαιριου, δυο φιλοι φευγοντας απο το Τοροντο μου αφησανε κατι ντοματιες. Δεν εχω ξαναπροσεξει σοβαρα καποιον ζωντανο οργανισμο, δεν εχω ιδεα απο κηπουρικη (να τα ποτιζω μονο και οτι σε καποια φαση χρειαστηκανε μεγαλυτερες γλαστρες) και δεν απορησα που μεχρι τωρα δεν ειδα ντοματες. Μου λεγανε και οι φιλοι και συναδελφοι οτι τελειωσε το tomato season, παει το καλοκαιρι τελειωσε. Τα βλεπα και γω τα καημενα ακαρπα και στερφα να μαραζωνουνε και να μαραινονται και ελεγα, νταξει τι να κανουμε ετσι ειναι η ζωη και τετοια.

Και σημερα το πρωι, πριν φυγω για το εργαστηριο παω να τα ποτισω και τι βλεπω?

Γεννησαμε!!