Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sun columnist ignores Harper's Canada-bashing

The following is a letter to the editors of the Ottawa Sun and Toronto Sun, as submitted.


Anthony Furey thinks it's a “hazing ritual” for left-leaning columnists to speak ill of Canada in foreign publications (Stop smack-talking my country, Sept. 20), but he conveniently ignores Prime Minister Stephen Harper's own history of bashing this nation, whether for foreign or domestic audiences.

As Harper himself said in a June 1997 speech to the U.S.-based Council for National Policy at a gathering in Montreal: “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.” While these remarks may have been in jest, they betray the same contempt for this country that led him to co-author a letter calling for a firewall to separate Alberta from the rest of Canada.

Given that no such firewall separates Sun Media from the Conservative Party of Canada, it is undertandable that Furey would rather shortchange his readers by employing a selective memory than cross his partisan puppet masters.

James Deagle
Ottawa, Ontario

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Niqab opposition: so much manufactured outrage

The following is an letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, as submitted on September 19, 2015.


The fervor to keep Muslim women from wearing niqabs during public ceremonies, as echoed by columnist Mark Milke (Government right to challenge niqab ruling), is just so much manufactured outrage, and is but the latest front in a longstanding battle to force darker-skinned people to surrender their cultural identity by increments. The first increment, of course, is the attire most identified with one's religious or cultural background.

In the late 1980s, the battle centered on the right of a Sikh Mountie to wear a turban in lieu of the traditional Stetson while in uniform. If the anti-turban contingent had won the day, it likely would have opened another avenue of debate over what a Sikh Mountie should do with his long hair if not put it up in a turban. Pony tail? Perm? Cut it off? (Like I said: increments.)

In some quarters the demand for assimilation extended to other realms. As I recall of heated conversations at the time, some "old-stock Canadians" fumed that Sikh war veterans should "take the damn thing off" before entering a Legion. I also heard others say that they would refuse to get on an OC Transpo bus if the driver was wearing a turban.

More recently, the anti-turban sentiment has included unsuccessful efforts to have it banned from soccer fields.

And then earlier this year, Rania El-Alloul was banned by a Quebec judge from wearing her hijab in court because he simply didn't think it was "appropriate".

Niqab opponents such as Milke claim that the issue is of one of openness as well as opposition to a perceived "anti-woman" cultural practice. The way I see it, given the litany of attempts to get minorities such as Muslims and Sikhs to remove their distinctive head-coverings for a series of continuously shifting rationales, the current 'openness' craze is simply a faux concern pulled out of a hat for the sake of a general dislike of those cultures.

It would be nice if there was a little more 'openness' about the real motivation behind the petty yet persistent drive to force our brown-skinned neighbors head-first through the meat grinder of assimilation.

James Deagle
Ottawa, Ontario

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Niqab ban is unreasonable non-accommodation

The following is a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, as submitted on September 16, 2015.


The central assumption of the government's case against Zunera Ishaq is that by wearing the niqab during her citizenship oath, she is concealing her identity, which somehow compromises the integrity of the exercise. The underlying message here is not that the niqab may actually comprise part of a Muslim woman's identity as much as any facial feature, but that the Islamic faith, by its very nature, cannot be trusted if it involves hiding one's identity. From there it would follow that Islam is incompatible with Canadian citizenship.

Nowhere in this logic is there room for the possibility that Ishaq is being open about who she is as a woman of faith by wearing the niqab during her ceremony. In a world where people have been persecuted or even killed for their religious identity, and for the sake of a demographic that is often demonized for the sins of its most extreme brethren, I'd like to think Canadians (including our Prime Minister) have enough emotional intelligence not to mistake the niqab for disloyalty or dishonor by way of supposed identity concealment.

This situation is disturbing, as it seems our government is asking women of a particular faith to choose between their religion and their country where by default others are asked no such thing. This is a case of unreasonable non-accommodation, and to me reveals a very small vision of our country.

But with the news that the government plans to fight the recent Appeals Court decision at the Supreme Court, it would appear that this boorish exercise in anti-Muslim social engineering will continue for the foreseeable future.

I miss my country.

James Deagle
Ottawa, Ontario

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Senate reform made easy

The following is a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen in response to its editorial,  Mulcair's Senate 'strategy' lacking, as submitted.


Under the Harper government, many pieces of Federal legislation have been struck down by the Supreme Court, having been deemed unconstitutional. If our Conservative-dominated Senate had been doing its job, then these errant bills wouldn't have been allowed out the door without drastic changes, if at all.

But as the Mike Duffy affair has shown, the current Senate intelligentsia views itself as the Prime Ministerial sock puppet, as evidenced by Senator Carolyn Olsen-Stewart's cringeworthy email to Nigel Wright as the scandal was still unfolding, in which she assured him that she's “always ready to do exactly what is asked.”

Under no circumstances should a sitting senator ever feel obliged to swear an oath of fealty to a sitting Prime Minister's Chief of Staff.

Given Harper's well-known penchant for keeping cabinet members of his own House leashed and muzzled at all times, and also given that our first-past-the-post electoral system is democracy of the 'kinda/sorta' variety, it is critical that we have an Upper House with a fiery streak of independence and an unbending commitment to 'getting it right' on behalf of Canadians. The Senate should be guarding the constitutionality of our government like a rabid pit bull, and not be falling into dereliction of duty by allowing itself to be the Lower House's frisky little lap dog.

And so if we're looking to pick the low-hanging fruit first, perhaps an initial round of Senate reform should consist of Upper House members simply doing their job adequately and professionally, rather than Supreme Court justices having to do it for them.

James Deagle
Ottawa, Ontario

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mocking the fear of terror is a moral imperative

In my post from yesterday, I made an offhand remark about terrorism being far less of a threat than automobiles or spoiled cheese. For those who like numbers with their cheekiness, in 2010 there were 13,186 deaths worldwide attributed to terrorism. That same year, automobiles took the lives of 1.26 million people all around the world. Therefore, terrorism deaths in 2010 amounted to 1.0465% of automobile deaths in the same period.

I couldn't find hard numbers for people felled specifically by spoiled cheese, so I widened the scope of my numbers hunt. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that "foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year." If roughly 5,000 are estimated to be killed by food-related illness in the United States alone, one can imagine that the worldwide figure would easily swamp the 13,186 lost to terrorism in 2010.

Not that I'm an expert by any means, but mounting an effective terror campaign must take a serious commitment of time and money, not to mention the risk of arrest, imprisonment and God/Allah-knows-what-else should one's plot be uncovered before it can be executed. Going by the above numbers, therefore, it seems that would-be America-haters who wish to see that country's streets runnning with blood would be much better off buying stocks in car and food companies than making bombs or hijacking planes. Then they could really taunt the free world  by posting videos of themselves and their followers chanting "Death to America!" as they wave annual shareholders reports in the air.

Likewise, if all the billions (or more) that governments spend on anti-terrror activities foiled 100% of all terror plots, it would still only make the world 1.0465% safer (by 2010 numbers) than if they decided instead to simply bomb all car manufacturers and outlaw motorized vehicles. (I really like cheese, so let's keep the dairy industry out of this.)

By this point you may be thinking that I'm making light of human tragedy and the specter of deadly political violence. I'm not. Well, not exactly.

Allow me to explain.

As noted in a previous post, Merriam-Webster defines terrorism as "the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal." It is because of the political nature of terrorism that governments feel the need to involve the military and the intelligence community despite the comparatively fractional threat it actually poses.

Don't think for one moment, however, that this politically-motivated violence is morally abhorrent to the powers that be - rather, it is politically useful for those who wish to engage our military resources in parts of the world where we're trying to establish an economic foothold, such as the Middle East. After all, if our leaders were sincerely concerned about preventing terrorism, they'd take a different tack on foreign policy in unstable regions of the world. Witness the internal intelligence report commissioned by none other than Donald Rumsfeld in 2004, which concluded:

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.

Against that kind of insight, one can only conclude that instability in the Muslim world, and any resulting blowback, is not some tragic result of Western military adventurism, but largely the point of such exercises. And when terroristic events end up claiming innocent lives, the legitimate sense of shock that results can be easily parlayed into further military actions, thus funneling even more profits into the pockets of military contractors.

As a corollary to the above, our leaders don't really care for your safety, but they sure need and appreciate your sense of fear, as it is an essential ingredient of their program. This program, as we have seen, tends to involve stripping away our rights and freedoms, and normalizing the idea of governments taking ethical shortcuts in the name of safety and security.

Now that the shock of 9/11 has long worn off, I think it is high time we focus on honoring the victims of that tragedy by defending constitutional rights and freedoms (through legal and peaceful means) against incursions by a self-appointed (if undeclared) enemy, which in this case has turned out to be the government, rather than giving into the widespread moral panic that serves as a cover for misbehavior by those in power.

The best place to start for such a defense is for us to stop giving them our fear.

Fear of terrorism can be powerful, but one way to reduce that power is to mock it for all it's worth at every opportunity, and to drag it into the light of reason so that all can see that it is much punier than the long shadow it continues to cast.

Friday, September 11, 2015


What always comes to mind when I think about September 11, 2001 is the overpowering sense of disorientation I felt. Like many other office denizen, I experienced the events of that day via the Internet, particularly through the low- to medium-resolution video streams offered by the CNN and Washington Post websites at the time. (I seem to remember the Post stream being smoother, perhaps due to lower bandwidth congestion.)

What started out as a minor (but manageable) startle at the initial footage of what at first looked like a much smaller aircraft hitting one of the twin towers gave way to genuine shock when the other tower was hit. What originally seemed (to me) like an unfortunate and small-scale accident was now undeniably a coordinated effort, particularly as we learned about the Pentagon being hit and what was originally reported as a commercial airliner being shot down in Pennsylvania by fighter jets.

The peak of my anxiety came while I was on the phone with a friend who had the day off. On my end, the whole office was abuzz with the unbelievable tragedy unfolding on multiple fronts, which meant the company's business was effectively ground to a halt. From somewhere in the commotion all around me in the cubicle village, I heard a voice say that one of the towers had collapsed. (Say what?) Before I had a chance to fully process that information, I heard my friend's wife in the room at the other end of the phone conversation say that it was just announced on TV that the other tower had now collapsed, too.

At this precise moment I had the feeling of falling down a bottomless well as the historical enormity of the day's events settled in. I couldn't give words to what was happening inside of me at the time, other than to say I was 'freaked out', but with the luxury of hindsight I can now say it was as if the glue holding my sense of the world together was suddenly dissolving, allowing that mental structure to break apart and fall away.

I can't remember how the phone conversation ended, but not long after some local news came over someone's desktop radio that a suspicious package had been found behind Parliament Hill here in Ottawa, and that a bomb squad was already on the scene. At that point the employer told us all to take the rest of the day off.

I drove home in a haze of anger and fear, as well as a frustrating sense of not knowing which way was up in a world I thought I knew.


All these years later, the uncertainty about the world I came to feel on 9/11 has long been shunted aside by a very cynical uncertainty about what actually transpired on that day. While I'm loathe to buy into conspiracy theories, the fact that the official story has always seemed like one of the less likely explanations only bolsters the 9/11 Was an Inside Job school of thought. And for all the dubious rhetoric at the time about the attacks having been provoked by Western rights and freedoms, it is now painfully obvious that the establishment powers never held those same rights and freedoms in high regard either.

Was it really terrorists with a hatred for America (and all it represents) who were responsible for the 9/11 attacks? For the sake of argument, let's say “yes” unconditionally. That understanding is, in and of itself, a tragedy beyond measure, if that's how it really went down. Just as troubling, however, is how the events of that day served to break the seal, as it were, on darker, more fascistic instincts in a part of the world that had long prided itself on being the official representative of humanity's best behavior.

We're now in a world where torture and undue mass surveillance are not only up for debate but largely accepted as a given by many as the price we pay for living in an Age of Terror. Forget that far fewer people per year are killed by terrorism than, say, automobiles. Or spoiled cheese. It's not that we're really that much more threatened by terrorism than we ever were, but that we live in a time where fear of terror (however remote) is the de rigeur state of mind.

On the other hand, the countless mass shootings that occur with sickening frequency in the U.S. pose much more of a “clear and present danger” to public safety, and yet the establishment mindset is that these admittedly unfortunate events should not serve to curtail gun ownership rights one iota. But then these shooters are never called “terrorists” by the authorities – unless they happen to be Muslims. (In this New McCarthyism, “terrorism” and “Islam” have replaced “communism” as the kneejerk scare words for the unthinking.)

Taking all of the above into consideration, I'm just not sure how I'm supposed to feel whenever another 9/11 anniversary rolls around. What I do know, however, is that the anger, fear and disorientation I felt that day as I drove home has never been the kind of emotional nor intellectual foundation upon which our society should rest, either in general or in how we respond to unexpected attacks.

I'd like to think we're better than that, but I'm often left with the feeling that for too many of my fellow citizens, anger, fear and disorientation constitute a preferred societal frame of reference, rather than a passing malaise.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I am Mike Huckabee's secret weapon

The following is an email sent to Mike Huckabee.


Dear Michael,

I want to thank you for your September 9 email in which you told me about your visit with Kim Davis at the Carter County Detention Center. I always enjoy your sparkling insights and your way with words. One beef I have, however, is that you address me simply as 'Friend' - while I certainly treasure our friendship more than anything in these woebegone times, I think we've reached a stage where you can call me 'James', 'Jim', or even 'Jimmy'.

While I can live (for now!) with the impersonal 'Friend', there is another aspect of your email that I think may cause trouble with the sticklers of the world, and that is your assertion that Kim Davis' detention is "removing all doubts about criminalization of Christianity in this country." Yowzers! I'm glad you ran this text by me first because if you let this puppy out into the wild without proper oversight, there's no telling what kind of confusion it could cause.

That is why it's good you have the kind of ace up your sleeve for which any American presidential hopeful would kill without remorse: a Canadian like me to guide you around the many pitfalls that await your more capricious rivals. So if you find yourself suddenly drawing a blank on how this glorious American system works, don't sweat it, brutha - a Canuck has got your back. (I can picture that Trump kid yelling "Unfair advantage!", but we'll just have to deal with that as it comes according to our usual issues management plan. This is no time to lose sleep over a weird little monkey like him.)

Now that you're heaving a billowing sigh of relief, let's get back to the unpleasantness pertaining to Kim Davis, as alluded to above. If someone were to call you out on your implication that she was jailed because she is a Christian, they may try to say au contraire, she was jailed not for her status as a Christian but for contempt after having defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. They may further point out that she is unfairly singling out gays - after all, as far as I know she didn't refuse marriage licenses to any other committers of grave sins, including murderers, adulterers, thieves, bearers of false witness, defrauders, or dishonorers of fathers and mothers.

All things being equal, she should be refusing marriage licenses to fornicators of any description, or so those heathen constitutional types would have us believe. What they don't realize is that when the constitution of your great country was drawn up, it was simply understood that any clauses therein, as well as any amendments added by way of future legislation or legal decisions would have to be filtered through the specific tenets of the Apostolic Christian Church. What damned fool would need such obviousness pointed out to him? The fact that this denomination didn't yet exist is entirely beside the point.

In any case, I realize that the story behind the story here is not Christianity, per se, but toe-curling satisfaction that you and your brethren get from oppressing gays. Of course, in today's climate you can't just come out and say you hate the homosexual and will use your public office to fulfill that hatred at every opportunity. That would come across a little déclassé, particularly to the New England Biffs and Muffies, whom the Evil One has long seduced.

My advice is to keeping working the Christian angle, and don't stop conflating the Christian faith with homophobia. The commoners seem to be buying it, so don't mess with success! If you want to strategize further in real time, just let me know. I'm here for you.

By the way...I'm having trouble with my hard drive, so just to be on the safe side I'm saving a draft of this on my blog,, just so it's within reach whenever I need it. Feel free to access it for reference purposes whenever the need arises.

James Deagle


From: Mike Huckabee - Personal
To: James Deagle
Sent: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 11:17 AM
Subject: I was in a jail yesterday

I visited Kim Davis in the Carter County Detention Center yesterday afternoon and had the honor of walking out with her as she was released.
When I warned that the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage would lead to the criminalization of Christianity in America I was dismissed by many as an alarmist and my comments were mocked by the chattering class. Now, just two months after the court's lawless ruling, an elected county clerk was put in jail by an unelected judge for refusing to issue a “marriage" license to a same-sex couple, removing all doubts about criminalization of Christianity in this country.
This threat to our faith is real and we need a President who understands this. I will fight for Religious Liberty and reject judicial tyranny. I am the only candidate with a detailed plan to stop this out-of-control Supreme Court. Will you help me win this campaign - so we can win back this country we so dearly love - by making a secure donation now?
$25 Quick Donate -->$25 
$45 Quick Donate -->$45 
$90 Quick Donate -->$90
Mike Huckabee

Sent from my iPad