Thursday, March 18, 2010

John Ibbitson's Amoral Analysis

Who thinks John Ibbitson really is an amoral freak and that's why he gravitates towards supporting the harpercon party of Canada, and who thinks that Ibbitson is just a pathetic suck-up and displays of sickening amorality are what he imagines is the price of admission to their smelly ranks?

In his column "All quiet on the Afghan-detainee front"Ibbitson attempts to affect the tone of the world-weary, jaded political columnist, all in some sort of sad attempt to help the revolting stephen harper conservatives weather the storm created by their blatantly illegal, immoral, inhuman behaviour. In this attempt, Ibbitson has lost sight of the fact that being "jaded" is supposed to be a bad thing. Certainly, in an insane world, with no obvious moral foundations, it's understood that intelligent people can become jaded and cynical, to a degree. This is especially true if one observes politicians for an extended period of time. Politicians are forever trying to appear far more selfless and noble than they really are, and they're ALSO trying to appeal to an electorate that is often maddeningly unaware of its own hypocrisy and stupidity.But there comes a time when cynicism descends into callousness. When "jaded" no longer means being inherently suspicious and dispirited but instead becomes a barrier to any sort of acceptable moral behaviour at all. For example: A cop who sees someone who was abused by a drug-addicted parent turning out to be a drug-addicted parent themselves who prostitutes their own children to feed their habit would be understandably jaded about humanity, but if they retained the ability to do their job and to try to help the people they encounter, we would not consider them to have left morality behind, however much we think they doubt its reality. We would not say the same thing about the formerly abused individual who now prostitutes their own children to pay for their drugs. That person is damaged. That person is sick. That person has crossed a boundary somewhere.

It's the same with Ibbitson. Some reporters are inherently suspicous of politicians and the public. They have a hard time taking all the high-flown rhetoric of both sides seriously, but they maintain their interest in their work (of exposing government chicanery, conveying important disputes among the parties, informing and educating the public) in order to make a positive contribution to this imperfect political entity called "Canada." Canada and Canadian politics might make them pull their hair out in frustration at times, but they still recognize that there's something behind all the talk about rights and values and freedoms and that it's worth protecting. Ibbitson however, either believes or wants us to believe, that Canada stands for nothing. That human rights don't really mean shit to Canada and Canadians. That everything is all a sick, sad game and that it's "hooray for he who wins, for I am on his side!" Ibbitson wants us to believe that none of the opposition politicians struggling to get information on whether Canada willingly handed people over to be tortured actually cares about this issue. It's all just political gamesmanship. He (for reasons known only to himself) supports the harpercons, so he wants to portray the opposition as cynical, hypocritical opportunists.

Of course, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that this whole political crisis is a display of hypocrisy. I don't think that it is, but I can't really prove that. The thing is though, that if it is hypocrisy, then decent people should either support the side that is (hypocritically or not) trying to expose the government's crimes, or they should be outraged that Canadian values can be so contemptuously spat upon. Ibbitson doesn't appear to care because he's not outraged the hypocrisy on display so we're to assume that torture is just another day at the office for him. Who cares if Canada tortured people? Who cares if Canada signs treaties about human rights without any intention of honouring them? Who cares if the "mission" of creating a free, democratic Afghanistan was really just a load of hooey constructed to win favour with voters who don't really give a shit about these things anyway? Who cares if we end up sending 200 young Canadians to their deaths for this exercise in cynicism and imperialism? Who cares if we wasted ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars to prop-up a corrupt, torturing narco-state, all so that we could placate the United States of America and keep the trains and trucks going back and forth on our border with them?

Well, I do, for one. And there are lots of dedicated, decent, sane individuals in this country who do. We're people who respect what other dedicated, decent, sane individuals were able to accomplish in this country and we want to do more. But sadly, it's an uphill struggle when our leading national newspaper has national political columnists who have lost any moral sense and who think that all our so-called "Canadian values" are a joke.

As a public service, I shall here dissect Ibbitson's column in order to identify those elements in it that are they symptoms of his malaise:

The detainees issue is dead in the water.

The Parliamentary committee examining the treatment of Afghan prisoners resumed hearings Wednesday, with nothing on offer but rhetoric.

Starved of new information, and stymied by a Conservative government that has relentlessly delayed releases, suppressed information or discredited witnesses – as the occasion warranted – government and opposition members were reduced to chasing their own rhetorical tail.

That's all it is for Ibbitson then. Rhetoric. Canada's international obligations. Canada's international obligations to human rights. Rhetoric. Parliamentary supremacy? Rhetoric. The "mission" in Afghanistan? Rhetoric. The possibility that we committed war crimes? Rhetoric. None of these politicians genuinely cares about these ideas and neither does Ibbitson. The politicians are just spewing rhetoric. None of our parties genuinely cares whether or not Canadian soldiers turned over prisoners to be tortured. For that matter (following Ibbitson's logic) it's possible that none of our politicians, our representatives, would care if our own soldiers were doing the torturing. If human rights doesn't mean anything, then they don't mean anything, right? If nobody really fucking cares that we handed over some poor sap to be beaten, frozen and electrocuted, why should we care whether we had somebody else do the torturing or we did it ourselves? It's abundantly clear that Ibbitson wouldn't, because instead of condemning the emptiness of this show and saying we should take this serious issue seriously, he's trying to present it as basically a non-issue that is being dissipated by the wily procedural moves of stephen harper.

I'll point something out - Ibbitson states that the harpercon government "relentlessly delayed releases, suppressed information or discredited witnesses – as the occasion warranted." That's not entirely correct. The harpercons tried to discredit Richard Colvin but they only ended up discrediting themselves.

Ibbitson then describes testimony before the Afghanistan Committee saying that harper's Iacobucci is going to take a long time and it's not going to produce anything of importance. He then says how even the media has been unable to find new information that will "reawaken public outrage."

It certainly won't be the jaded, "don't-give-a-shit-about-human-rights" John Ibbitson who will "reawaken public outrage." He doesn't seem to care about the subject at all. Ibbitson goes on about numerous other obstacles to our ability to find out if we broke international human rights laws. He dryly states that the "Military Police Complaints Commission, which is also examining the issue, may overcome legal challenges and its own inertia and actually investigate something."

You see, that's an interesting way of putting it. "Legal challenges"? That's Ibbitson's way of saying "harper's legal challenges." "Its own inertia"? That's Ibbitson's way of saying that harper removed Peter Tinsley, the head of the MPCC who actually tried to do his job, and replaced him with someone who has yet to display the same sort of diligence on this vital issue. (Sorry Mister Ibbitson, but some of us do think that Canada's being an accessory to torture is actually, a very serious thing.) The way Ibbitson writes on this subject, you'd think he was trying to make his readers fall asleep, or throw up their hands in impotence at the bureaucratic morass, and thereby take some of the pressure off of his detestable, scum-bag hero, stephen harper. It seems Ibbitson wants to help stephen harper get away with war crimes!

Ibbitson then goes on to try to dull things down even more:

But barring the unknown and unexpected, we may have as much by way of answers as we ever will to the only two questions that matter:

Question: Did Canadian Forces soldiers hand Afghan detainees over to local authorities in 2006 and later even though they knew or should have known those prisoners would be tortured? Answer: Probably, though things got better as time went along.

Question: How do you know things got better when the government doesn't provide any informaton?

Answer: I don't. I'm just a stupid hack.

Question: Did the Conservative government abuse the justification of national security to suppress politically embarrassing information on the matter? Answer: We may never know.

Question: By "politically embarrassing," don't you mean "legally incriminating," as in 'the harpercons are trying to get away with war crimes?'

Answer: No comment.

Question: By saying "we may never know," are you hoping that we never know, because you seem pretty fucking blase about the entire subject?

Answer: Pretty much.

Ibbitson then reiterates all the stalling, delaying tactics that the harpercons have been using to try to delay and dissipate our democracy's attempts to expose the harpercons criminal disregard for human rights (including an after-the-fact resort to a more active voice to describe harper's frustrating the MPCC - "and the government has been throwing one legal roadblock after another to limit its mandate" but the damage has already been done) finishing with the following constitutionally-challenged assertion:

The opposition parties could still ask Speaker Peter Milliken to order the government to turn over all documents related to detainees, as Parliament decreed in December.

But the government would resist such an order all the way to the Supreme Court, and there is no settled law on the powers of Parliament versus the rights of a government when questions of national security are at stake.

Actually, you dunder-headed fool, this issue has already been decided. Long ago. Unless you believe that Canadian governments have carte blanche to do anything they want in a time of war, regardless of Canadian or international law! If you don't believe that stephen harper can have an Afghan village massacred so that he can feast on the corpses of the dead, then you must concede that our governments cannot hide behind "national security" to get out of handing over the most basic of information about our conduct in wartime. Parliament is supreme. Parliament is us. Parliament has the right to hold the government accountable.

Mr. Ibbitson, if you don't understand how our system of government works, or if you don't care how that our governments are committing war crimes in our name, if you don't believe in anything described as "Canadian values," then why the hell do you think you're fit to be a columnist on national affairs???

Ibbitson probably sensed (vaguely) that he's pushing the envelope on amoral scuzziness, so he attempts to come back to the moral mainstream towards his conclusion:

Should the Conservatives congratulate themselves on their skillful suppression of a potentially damaging scandal? Not at all.

People who haven't followed this complex issue, and who don't care much about the fate of Taliban fighters or sympathizers in any case, still frowned at the Harper government's hardball tactics. The Tories are tied with the Liberals in the polls. That's part of the reason why. And something may yet turn up to revive the controversy.

But in Question Period Wednesday, there was little mention of detainees. The opposition parties, too, may sense it's time to move on.

The detainees issue will not go away. But it's not going anywhere, either, and it's taking its own sweet time getting there.

1. It's not a "complex issue." It's about covering-up war crimes. It's as black-and-white as you could possibly have it. You moron.

2. People "don't care much about ... Taliban fighters or their sympathizers"????

  • The insurgency isn't even all the evil, misogynist "Taliban" and furthermore, war crimes are war crimes. Torturing people who haven't taken up arms but who only "sympathize" with the insurgency is supposed to be all right with the "Tim Horton's Crowd" and that's what we're supposed to base our commitment to human rights on? You fucking maniac.
  • Richard Colvin and many, many, others have credibly said that we've arrested and turned over COMPLETELY INNOCENT PEOPLE!! If assholes like John Ibbitson could mention that once in a while, maybe even their imagined "Tim Horton's Crowd" could be stirred-up to give a shit. (In so doing, this supposed "Tim Horton's Crowd" would join the MAJORITY of Canadians.)

3. "The opposition parties, too, may sense it's time to move on"? That's what you and your revolting hero would like, isn't it? Fuck you.

4. "It's taking its own sweet time getting there." That's your way of saying that harper has used every trick in the book to cover-up his war crimes, right?

There you have it folks. Ibbitson is a disgrace.

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