“Behind closed doors”: How domestic violence led to a rampage in Austria

graz-memorial

Another day, another rampage, another vigil. This time, it’s in the downtown pedestrian zone of Graz, where a young man drove at full speed into a crowd…on purpose. What lurks behind such “senseless” violence? EMMA investigated, and found the following:

Just imagining it puts a lump in one’s throat. On a summer day around 12 noon in the middle of Graz, a man flooring it at 150 km/h in a pedestrian zone kills three people. Exactly where passersby stroll and people sit at café tables. He just mows them down with his green SUV, adults and children alike.

Then he gets out and attacks a couple with a knife. Gets back in, and races on through the inner city. Three people die immediately, 36 are injured, some of them clinging to life. “The inner city is like an open wound. It will take a long time to heal,” says Austrian minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

The man in question is a 26-year-old truck driver. He grew up near Graz, after leaving war-torn Bosnia with his family as a small boy. He is believed to have suffered a psychotic break on the day in question, according to authorities. But at the same time, he must have planned his crime exactly. Otherwise it would be impossible to explain how he could have backed up for such a distance with his SUV before he hit the gas and then raced toward the people and chased them down in a targeted manner. Psychologist Salvatore Giacomuzzi, of the University of Innsbruck, speaks of “ice-cold calculation”.

The Bosnian man who drove his green SUV into the pedestrian zone is now sitting in the Jakomini jail in Graz. His process has just begun; until now, he was impossible to talk to. So we still know very little.

In the report of the rampage in the Styrian capital city there is, however, another detail that brings a lump to one’s throat. But the fear, in this case, creeps up rather slowly. When local police director Josef Klamminger speaks of a “relationship crime”. The 26-year-old has already previously “shown himself to be violent”. But not in public; behind closed doors at home. In May, he was charged with violence against his wife and two sons in their home. Even before that, the police had been called to the scene several times. Once, the police confiscated a rifle. The wife, according to various media, has fled with the children to Bosnia. According to other press reports, the wife was arrested and interrogated in Graz on Sunday, but had known nothing of her husband’s plans. She had filed for divorce some time ago.

A man very injured in his pride, who is capable of driving his SUV at 150 into a pedestrian zone — what could he be capable of doing behind closed doors, where no one can see him?

Of course, such a rampage doesn’t just create a nationwide shock, but a wave of sympathy for the victims and their loved ones, too. Of course such rampages are followed by expert analyses over violence in general, and the question of what could drive a 26-year-old to do such a thing, and how it could be prevented in future.

But just as naturally, precisely because of its details, this case should become an occasion to talk about a form of violence that, even in 2015, is blanketed in silence and in this case, is directly connected: Domestic violence. Which happens every day, without anyone knowing about it. Which unleashes no national shock or public mourning. Even though thousands, if not millions, are affected by it. All the women, who fall victim to the terrorism of their boyfriends and husbands each and every day: rampagers behind closed doors.

In Austria, on average, an estimated 30 women are killed by their (ex-)husbands or (ex-)boyfriends every year. “Often, the murder is the terrible climax of a long history of violence, and usually, the murderers make their crimes known ahead of time,” according to the Austrian Women’s Help Line Against Violence in their yearly report from 2014. The femicides are “just the tip of the iceberg; the level of reported violence against women is very high and the number of unreported crimes is presumably much higher still.” Of the more than 8,000 callers to the hotline that year, 7,000 were female.

Meanwhile, the Agency of the European Union for Basic Rights found in a Europe-wide study that every fifth Austrian woman over the age of 15 falls victim to physical or sexual violence. Every tenth one suffers violence from a partner or ex-partner. In Germany, it’s no better: Every third woman falls victim to physical or sexual assault, every fifth one within or after the breakup of a relationship. Germany represents the European average with those figures. And this too is in the report: The majority of these victims don’t report partner violence to the police or an aid organization.

Even rampages, according to recent history, are all too often motivated by hatred toward (strong) women. Two examples among many: In Montréal, Québec, in 1989, Marc Lépine opened fire on female students in an engineering school with the words: “I hate feminists!” 25 years later, in Santa Barbara, California, mass killer Elliot Rodger wrote, before his rampage: “I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman….I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.”

Such statements, so far, are not known in Graz. But looking at the depressing details of that rampage, one question keeps coming up: How can we get large violent outbreaks under control, when we ignore the small ones so criminally? It’s not surprising that violence that goes on unhindered for months or years behind closed doors can explode, can at some point break out on a larger stage — such as the downtown core of Graz. Above all, when the lightning rod suddenly disappears. For the wife of the rampager of Graz has dared to do something, that most victims of domestic violence take a long time to do, if at all: She escaped from her tormentor.

Translation mine.

So we can see a number of layers of social trouble at work here. Domestic violence as precursor to violent rampages in the street; the lingering mental torments of the Balkan wars in survivors; the shockingly high number of assaults on women by intimate male partners in both Austria and Germany (and remember, these countries represent the European median for inter-partner violence of this nature); and the prevalence, throughout the world, of spoiled, entitled males exacting a gory “revenge” on women when they don’t get their way, be it in work or in love.

Most significant, for me, is the fact that this man (and presumably, his wife as well) is a survivor of the Bosnian conflict. In the Balkans, violence against women was a weapon of war, and a grotesque means of “ethnic cleansing”. Raping a woman on the enemy side, leaving her pregnant with an enemy’s child — this happened thousands of times. It’s a trauma that has marked and scarred women and girls from the 1990s to this day. Yet as traumatic as it is for the female survivors, none of them to date has gone on a violent rampage. It’s always been their partners. Why?

Could it be, maybe, the fact that their “manhood” was somehow offended by all the mass assaults on “their” women — a reproach against their “failure” to “defend” their “honor” properly? And that ever since that time, they’ve been trying to “get their manhood back” by taking out their rage and controlling impulses on the women, rather than dealing with the unresolved pain of that time in a more constructive manner?

If that’s the case, then it’s little wonder that this one ran amuck when his wife left him. When she escaped his violent, bullying control, she stripped him of what was left of his perceived “manhood”.

The only really surprising thing, in the end, is that this hasn’t happened more often. It’s not as if there’s any lack of motives, means or opportunity. Machismo and sexism are global problems. And that’s why trying to prevent individual rampages like this will probably fail; society is failing to tackle the root causes of male rage and vengefulness. Instead, it’s putting the onus and the blame on women, when it should be teaching men to stop viewing women as “property” that is “ruined” by another man’s hand. Until we collectively make machismo, rage and violence obsolete, we can only expect more of the same.

Posted in Balkan Yogurt, Bullies, Confessions of a Bad German, Isn't That Illegal?, Law-Law Land, Men Who Just Don't Get It, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on “Behind closed doors”: How domestic violence led to a rampage in Austria »

German women take on brothel ads

brothel-ad

Karina Alteweier, a physician assistant in Leverkusen, Germany, points out an example of the kind of advertising she’s fighting in her city. Right next to it, a children’s musical is advertised. The brothel’s name, address, and other details are blocked out, but you can see that a day pass to enter the premises costs 55 euros. That’s dirt cheap, considering what it costs the women and girls who are typically imported from Eastern Europe to service those places (because there are not many German women who would freely contemplate such a job). EMMA interviewed Karina about what she does when she sees such ads…which, by the way, are illegal according to the local vice code.

EMMA: Frau Alteweier, you’ve been fighting for years against brothel advertising in your city. You’ve even gone to the complaint department of the mayor’s office.

KA: Exactly. I informed them there that according to Paragraphs 119 and 120 of the vice code, advertising for brothels is not allowed.

EMMA: How did you get involved against brothel advertising?

KA: One morning in 2011, on my way to work, I saw a huge billboard for the megabrothel “Pascha”, in Köln. My head exploded. I can’t accept that prostitution gets advertised as if it were ice cream — as if it were the most normal thing in the world. For me, as a woman, that’s discriminatory. And what image of women does that give our young people? I’m the mother of a 21-year-old son, and it’s horrific for me to imagine him going to a bordello. When I asked him about it, he got mad and said, “Mama, how can you think such a thing?”

And moreover, what effect must such an ad have on the victims of sexual abuse? For a woman who was abused as a child or a teenager, it must be like a slap in the face to see the sexual availability of women being advertised so casually.

EMMA: What did you do?

KA: I complained everywhere. I even called the police. There, they were very cranky and downright rude. And at the company that rents the ad space, an employee waved me off: “What’s the matter with you, that’s a chic photo!” So I went to the city offices, where there’s always an open ear for me. I also turned to the press. They reported it in a big, critical way. Some of the ads also hung along a school route, and mothers protested against that as well. Then the ads disappeared.

EMMA: The Pascha ads haven’t appeared again since then. But now there’s a megabrothel in Erkrath advertising for some time with the headline “100 Girls”.

KA: It all started with small flyers pasted up on bridges. I also complained about that to the city. So then the city put up signs in various places: “No advertising!” Meanwhile, this brothel has been putting up huge billboards. I counted them. Here in Leverkusen alone, there are at least ten. So then I called the city offices and had those ads taken down too, but it took three weeks. So my complaints have almost always had results.

EMMA: But that’s not enough for you.

KA: No. I don’t want to have to complain again and again every time there’s an ad. I want the city to make clear that it won’t tolerate any brothel advertising, and that ad space must not be rented to brothels in the first place. For that reason, on May 11, I wrote another letter of complaint to the city and asked to make use of my right to speak to the complaint department.

EMMA: How did the department react?

KA: Before the session, they sent me back a letter saying that there is a “changed understanding on the part of the public regarding prostitution”, and that one would have to deal with the advertising on a “case by case” basis. For instance, one would have to see if there were hints of “forced” prostitution, or “prostitution of minors”. As if they would write that on their billboards! Also, there are other cities, like for example Bremen, that don’t allow any brothel advertising at all.

EMMA: How did the complaint department respond to that?

KA: I told them again that advertising for prostitution is illegal, and then read them the corresponding paragraphs. I also told them that I know many people in my area who are not at all tolerant of prostitution, and don’t find this brothel advertising acceptable at all. But some of the department members didn’t listen to me at all, and just talked amongst themselves. They didn’t want to discuss it, either. After my presentation, they decided to keep things as they were. Luckily, a lady from the press was sitting next to me. She was disgusted at their ignorance and offered to write an article about this consultation.

EMMA: Meanwhile, you have the support of equality commissioner Sabine Rusch-Witthorn.

KA: She accompanied me to the sitting at my request, and plans to keep going with the topic.

EMMA: You too?

KA: Naturally! I have so much support. My chief physician and my colleagues all share my opinion completely. Whenever they read an article on the matter in the paper, they say: “You’re completely right, we see it that way too!” And there are always lots of supportive letters from the readers. That affirms and encourages me, naturally. I’m sticking with it; I can’t do otherwise. Every time I see such an ad, my motor starts running again.

Translation mine.

Karina’s battle is uphill, and little wonder: Germany’s bordellos bring in billions of euros a year in gross revenue. There are nearly half a million women in prostitution there, most of them foreigners. It’s a vicious circle: Legalization creates normalization; normalization creates demand; demand spurs traffickers to increase the supply of prostituted persons from out of country; more supply, more normalization; more normalization, more money!

And as long as the brothel operators pay their taxes and the police don’t get too many calls about violence on the premises (even though it happens, and far more often than is mentioned in the media), the city authorities don’t much care what goes on in there. It takes nothing less than the most flagrant human rights abuses, disease outbreaks, and accusations of human trafficking that stick before a bordello gets shuttered. The money apparently matters more than the well-being of the girls, who are typically under 20 and speak little German (or English) beyond what it takes to reel off a price list and negotiate a transaction. It’s a situation where abuse isn’t a glitch, it’s a feature.

And if you think it’s any safer in brothels than it is on the street, read Rebecca Mott’s interview here and find out why pro-prostitution campaigners are so eager to push the “indoors = harm reduction” meme. You’ll see it has a lot less to do with prostituted people’s safety than it does with lack of accountability, and the abusers’ and exploiters’ ability to get away with everything (up to and including murder). Off the street is out of sight, and out of sight is out of mind…or so the pimp lobby reckons.

Of course, as brazen as they are, they reckoned without the likes of Karina and her colleagues, who aren’t fooled by all this defensive, dismissive talk of a “changed morality” in Germany. It’s a bald-faced lie that all German women support prostitution, seeing it as an “escape valve” for “dangerous impulses” that would otherwise lead to rape. Rape is still happening, and in fact is more rampant than ever; unprostituted women are now afraid to walk through red-light districts because drunken brothel patrons often accost them on the street! (Normalization creates demand, remember?)

It’s also a lie that the country is better and happier since prostitution was legalized in 2001. It might be richer in some small parts, thanks to horny foreigners on sex tours, but that’s not an improvement! The wealth is not trickling down. Most prostitutes are desperately poor when they enter, and no better off when they exit. Women are still being assaulted, abused and murdered, and many of them are in prostitution when it happens. The closed doors of the brothel conceal a multitude of crimes against humanity. And the spillover from that reaches onto the streets, too…where prostitution hasn’t exactly abated, either.

These activists, however, know their local laws and are disgusted with the blatant abuses going on under their noses. And they will not stop opposing the pimps’ efforts to turn a profit at everyone else’s expense. Even those with no children to worry about can figure out for themselves what it must feel like to someone who was sexually abused at an early age to see acts similar to those committed against her being “legally” advertised for sale…on a billboard, a wall, or a city bus. To such individuals, the city authorities’ reluctance to step in and stop it must feel like a whole fresh round of abuse.

A few random thoughts about race and gender (and religion, guns and terrorism)

whoever-fights-monsters

Ahem. For the past week or so, my mind’s been getting messed with by people who are idiots when it comes to race and gender. Not all of them the usual suspects of FUX Snooze, either. So I’ll beg your pardon pre-emptively if I ramble or explode along the way.

Where to begin?

Well, I’ve unfriended some Facebook friends, and been unfriended too — and all of these ex-friends and un-friends had one thing in common: They staunchly refuse to get a grasp on what gender actually means. They claim it’s a binary (actually, it’s a spectrum), and are trying to erase it and replace it with an actual binary called, merely, SEX. Only two options available: Male and Female, assigned at birth, immutable. Intersex people, if acknowledged at all, are only grudgingly done so (mostly as “rare exceptions” — awful white of you, sisters.) They thus stubbornly refuse to accept trans women as women. They even believe, absurdly, that trans women are part of some Men’s Rights plot to infiltrate and eliminate all women’s spaces with the wave of a willy. Uh, no. Actual MRAs, like themselves, are all “ewwww, trannies ICKY!” Ironic, no? They claim to stand up for the most oppressed, but actually, they are the meanest kids on the feminist playground when it comes to women who get killed for being trans as well as women, and they are perversely proud of that.

Several of my friends have been viciously purged, too. All for the same reason. And yet, these women call themselves radical feminists. The most sisterly of the whole feminist sisterhood! Whoopee!

What could be so radical, or so feminist, about excluding an entire category of women from consideration AS WOMEN, simply by falling back on the (false) binary sex assigned to those women at birth, I do not know. I do know that they are incredibly hostile to even the slightest challenge to their simplistic received wisdoms (which all seem to come from some very outdated and elaborately stupid books of theory) and that their skins are so thin that the merest poke of intruding reality makes them explode.

They’re also downright snarky about trans women’s allegedly “fake” gender (which is actually their real one, coming out from behind a lifelong wall of the very toxic masculinity that self-styled radfems ironically claim to be trying to dismantle). And snotty as hell about “women’s lived experiences” (completely ignoring the actual lived experiences of a woman who has been forced by society to occupy the body and mannerisms of a man). Apparently, you’re not a real woman to them unless you were born with the full standard set of female parts — because, in their rigid, sex-essentialistic binary view of things, only those girls born with proper girly bits have the requisite “female energy”.

Oddly, these same “radicals” glorify good ol’ apple-pie motherhood as one of those “lived experiences”, chock-full of “female energy” that all “real” women allegedly share. Which is ironic coming from them, after all the decades feminists have spent campaigning for birth control, body autonomy, abortion rights, and the right to forego motherhood altogether if one so chooses. (Guess I’m a fake woman for going on the Pill, and later having my tubes tied, and choosing to be the mother of nothing except maybe creativity and cats. Thanks so much for all that validation of my lived experiences, sisters.)

Most ironic of all, they’re vying so hard to be lefter-than-left and feminister-than-feminist that they’ve somehow come out on the far right. They’re so transphobic — oh sorry, “gender-critical” — that they actually get their “scientific information” about trans women from Lifesite, one of the most unscientific, anti-woman sites there is. Some are so scared of people taking hormones for therapeutic purposes (ahem, irregular periods here) that they’re even now campaigning against the Pill, and again relying on odious anti-choice sites from the Religious Reich (which are full of outdated and false information) to make their “scientific” case for them. Incidentally, a lot of tinfoil-hatted MRAs share their pharmacophobia (because drugs are “emasculating”, natch!) with this particular brand of “feminist”. Ironies, like bigotries, tend to cluster!

I’ve lost count of the number of far-right articles and websites I’ve seen them toss at others in their desperation to beat back real, radical social change. In addition to the Religious Reich misogyny of Lifesite, there was Alex Jones’s Infowars, which hurls shit at feminists every chance its flying-monkey crew get. I’ve even seen VDare — a notorious white-supremacist siteused to back up their transphobia. (I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked, in retrospect; this same bunch of so-called radical feminists also bristled against the phrase “white feminism”, which was coined to make clear that we’ve still got a long way to go on matters of racial equality, justice, and liberation from all manner of racism. Now why would they not welcome a reminder of THAT?)

In short, these former friends won’t be missed, at least from where I sit. On the contrary, my Facebook feed smells fresher without their ideological dungheaps on it.

What really clinched the decision to unfriend, for me, was a spate of ideological diarrhea which takes a remarkably similar line about race, trying (and failing) to tie it in to the gender mess somehow. And all of it was prompted by the outing of Rachel Dolezal, the white professor and former Spokane NAACP leader who claimed to be black. This was followed by a lot of smug “gotcha” spitballing about how, if racial identity could not be faked, then why wasn’t that also true of gender? Why wasn’t anyone screaming about Caitlyn — oh sorry, “Bruce” Jenner having the temerity to pass “himself” off as a woman? (Coming from people who pooh-pooh all talk of intersectionality, this issue-mixing is downright rich.)

Of course, as usual, they own-goaled themselves. While they were all so busy chasing their tails around their own little misguided interpretations of gender (and, no doubt, batting away all well-earned charges of their own unexamined racism), they completely ignored what any genuine radical feminist, white or otherwise, should be aware of in the Dolezal case: the fact that Rachel Dolezal’s white biological parents were also religious home-schoolers of a strict (and horribly abusive) kind. That her own biological brother was a molester and a racist, and no doubt protected, much like the notoriously transphobic Josh Duggar, by those same abusive parents. The same who later piped up just to out Rachel as fake-black when some hate mail she allegedly received was being investigated by the authorities. Not to excuse any of the wrong (and possibly illegal) things she has done, but let me just say this: If those were my parents, I’d be tripping all over myself to get them the hell out of my life, too. So yeah, I’m not a bit surprised that Rachel Dolezal tried to disown them in the most radical way she could think of (and indeed, in a radical way most of us would NEVER think of): by trying to pass as a person of another color.

And neither am I surprised that the awfully white “radfems” of my acquaintance again missed the point, and sided with what really are all of feminism’s sworn enemies. By sniping at trans people’s cross-gender “passing” and taking cheap shots at “transracialism” (which is not a thing, much less one related to transgenderism), they pretty much convinced me that they are nobody’s friends. When your “gender-critical” viewpoint on trans people and abused women starts to smell just like the overt bigotries of ‘winger idiots like Keith Fucking Ablow and Michelle Fucking Duggar, or tinfoil hatters like Alex Fucking Jones, I don’t even want to be in the same room with you. You’re not a radical; you’re not a feminist; you’re not anywhere on the left anymore. Take off your false “radical feminist” identity, and fuck off. You may as well cop to being a far-right woman-hating racist, because that is the group you have joined forces with.

And if that is your ideology, then maybe you should heartily approve of what Dylann Storm Roof has done in Charleston. He invaded a historic black church. He shot blacks. He killed blacks. Most of them were women. And he did it because, to paraphrase what he himself said, black men rape white women. How killing black women is supposed to stop interracial rape, I don’t know. His imagination is a drug-addled pornographic fever swamp of antebellum southern racism. No doubt he was hoping for some kind of “racial holy war” to break out in the wake of his terrorist deed, and for more gun-toting whites to go on more anti-black purges. He has three Confederate flags on his South Carolina licence plate, and two flags from colonial, white-rule Southern Africa on his jacket. (I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if his browser history, like that of my so-called radfem acquaintances, shows a lot of visits to Christian right and white supremacist sites. Politics, strange bedfellows, etc.!)

And if you don’t want to endorse his actions, you might do well to sit down, wake up, knock off the defensive jibber-jabber, stop looking to far-right extremism for your justifications, and finally face all the oppressive -isms and -phobias you’ve internalized so very well. Have you forgotten that these systems were put there to keep women and non-white people in “their” place, which is squarely under the bootheels of white men? Have you forgotten that just like trans women are doing now, lesbians and black women have had to fight for inclusion as women and feminists, and that the movement is better for having them in it? Need I remind you, sisters, that it won’t lift ANY women up when you throw other women under that ol’ bus?

If the best you can do to back up your so-called radical feminism is to flail your arms and spout viewpoints identical to those of the most reactionary, racist, and antifeminist of all conservatives, you’re not just doing intersectionality wrong; you’re doing radicalism and feminism both wrong. And if you want to do it right, you need to fight that sexist, racist, transphobic bigot in yourself. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing a lot more than just a slew of friends who have, collectively, gotten sick of your shit.

Happy Juneteenth, BTW.

Puerto Ricans march for independence, again

puerto-rican-demo

“Independence NOW!” reads the banner that headed up this march through the smoking hot streets of San Juan. And, with UN debate on the matter now less than a week away, it appears that this issue is coming to a head:

In a massive demonstration that took place in the streets o the capital, San Juan, thousands of Puerto Ricans protested against the United States and demanded their country’s independence after 117 years of colonial oppression.

[…]

This popular demonstration took place for the second year in a row, and comes just one week before the case of Puerto Rico will be debated in an audience with the Decolonization Committee of the United Nations.

The proponents of the case in the UN decolonization forum consider that the support offered by countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua is not the only key part in the presentation, which is to take place on June 22, but that it is also crucial to add other supports from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Independence movements called for unity, and ratified their commitment to the cause. They also celebrated the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in the re-establishment of diplomatic ties with the US, an event which the demonstrators believe will strengthen the independence struggle of Puerto Rico.

After decades of struggle, this march for Puerto Rico’s independence once again brought together diverse political and social sectors, who advocate an end to colonialism and call for the full sovereignty of a territory which for 117 years has been under control of the United States.

Translation mine.

This also comes less than a week after some Menz Rightzer idiot from the US called for his crackpot co-religionists to move to an island to get away from the evils of feminism and the imminent takeover of their country by nasty-wasty wimminzez. The island in question? Puerto Rico.

Somehow, I get the impression that the Puerto Ricans won’t be ceding these guys a third of their country. If what Filiberto Ojeda Ríos says in the clip at the opening of this Calle 13 video is any indication, the MRAs and MGTOW factions won’t be welcomed with open arms, but arms of a very different nature:

“How is it possible that we could permit invaders to disrupt the peace of our home? They’re meddling in our homes and are in fact attacking us in the way they intend to attack us. I have no intention of allowing them to do that. Not because I’m the bravest man in the world. It’s a question of dignity and honor.”

Filiberto died bravely ten years ago at the hands of the FBI, but the people of Puerto Rico have taken up the struggle in his wake. And as he says at the video’s close: Que viva Puerto Rico LIBRE. ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

Posted in Cuba, Libre (de los Yanquis), Men Who Just Don't Get It, Puerto Rico, Gente Pobre, The United States of Amnesia, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Puerto Ricans march for independence, again »

Quotable: Meryl Streep on losing patience

Posted in Quotable Notables, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Quotable: Meryl Streep on losing patience »

The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women

mother-canada

Meet “Mother Canada”. If you’ve never heard of her, you’re not alone. She’s a figment of Harpocratic imagination, with no real basis in Canadian culture or history. And she’s supposedly meant to honor the veterans and the dead of World War II. But those whom she’s meant to please aren’t so impressed:

“It’s vulgar and ostentatious. It doesn’t do anything for veterans or definitely not for the people who are dead,” says Valerie Bird, a 93-year-old Second World War veteran.

And environmental experts are even less enthused:

“It will be a huge scientific loss to the whole Canadian scientific community if this project goes ahead.”

The statue by the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, dubbed Mother Canada, would be 30 metres high and feature a woman with her arms outstretched toward Europe. The plan also includes parking for 300 vehicles, a restaurant, souvenir shop and an interpretive centre.

Howard said the complex isn’t compatible with Parks Canada’s mandate to preserve and protect the land for future generations. He believes it will deter visitors who are attracted to the region and the Cabot Trail for its geography and natural beauty.

“It will go right over the most precious part of the geological formation,” he says. “There’s nothing like it in national parks before. They’ll do a lot of damage by Christmas, unless we stand up now.”

But hey, guess who loves it? Yup, Cons with a fetish for war…and European immigration:

Lewis MacKenzie, a retired major-general, is one of the prominent backers of the project. He said the location is ideal because it may have been one of the last parts of Canada seen by people leaving for the First World War and the Second World War, and one of the first seen upon their return.

“The design, when you see it, is extremely attractive,” he said. “It’s extremely welcoming not only to the souls of those interred abroad, but also for new Canadians. If it’s a spot for reflection, I can’t think of a better one.”

And what about new Canadians coming from Africa, Asia, Oceania, the US, Latin America and the Caribbean? What monuments do they get to see, beyond the arrivals centre of whatever airport they flew in through? Will there be a replica of this statue on every baggage carousel, or what? Somehow, I just can’t see any Mother Canada figures facing west or south. Apparently, people from those directions are less likely to be white, and since we didn’t fight on their behalf during the world wars, but only for England, well…sorry, folks, you just don’t count.

But don’t feel too bad. You’re not the only ones who don’t count for Harpo & Co.:

Federal Conservatives have suggested they will reject calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for both a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and Canada’s implementation of a landmark United Nations document on First Nations’ rights.

On Tuesday, the TRC released a long-awaited report on the shameful legacy of the residential school system. The push for a national inquiry and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People were both included among 94 wide-ranging recommendations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has previously ruled out taking both actions and, in question period, hinted its position was unlikely to change.

[…]

Canada was the only country to flag objections about the declaration at a special UN General Assembly meeting in September. Ottawa expressed concern at the time over legal wording that could be construed as giving a possible “veto for aboriginal groups.”

Last month, Conservatives also voted down a private member’s bill from Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash — a residential school survivor — that sought to align Canadian law with the declaration.

So there you go. Native Canadians, especially missing and murdered women (who were often sold in human trafficking and prostitution) get nothing. No monument, no public inquiry, and certainly no say in what gets done about the injustices done to them over many decades. Nothing. Nada. Bupkus. Zippo. Zilch. Nothing but empty words of “apology” from Harpo, and an even emptier “I already said it, what more do you want?”

And this even though an indigenous child’s chances of dying horribly in residential school were roughly equal to a Canadian servicemember’s odds of dying in World War II, which “Mother Canada” is meant to commemorate.

So, there’s the Harper Legacy in a nutshell. You’ll get hideous monuments to war and Europeanism, and even to the “victims of Communism”. But if you don’t fit Harpo’s narrow, racist definition of a “real Canadian”, you get bugger-all. And a tanked economy, too.

Mother Canada really ought to turn Harpo over her knee and spank him. Too bad she’s not his real mom, eh?

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Environmentally Ill, Isn't It Ironic?, Isn't That Racist?, Not So Compassionate Conservatism, Teh Injunz, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on The Harper Legacy: empty monuments, nothing for native women »

A few random thoughts on the Duggar scandal

duggars-persecution

Would you trust these people to teach YOU morality? If the answer is yes, you just might be a Pharisee.

So, this happened. Finally, after years of parading their nauseating Quiverfull sanctimony on the Internets and TV to the tune of big, BIG bucks, the Duggars are off the air. How come?

Well, it seems that their eldest son, Josh, was a very naughty boy. And a very hypocritical man, too, for years after the fact. And they themselves aided and abetted him by sweeping his abuse — much of it downright incestuous — under the rug. And by throwing his victims — their own daughters — under the bus.

So it’s kind of sweet to see them finally reaping a little bit of what they sowed. And no small relief to know that they’ve been denied at least one major media mouthpiece for their despicable views. I’m guessing that ol’ Jim Bob and Michelle might want to put off trying for Sprog #20 indefinitely now, seeing as their gravy train — or clown car, rather — has screeched to a sudden halt.

But hold your hosannas, folks, because there’s not much to cheer about here.

For starters: Josh Duggar never did any time for his crimes. The abuses in question all took place over a decade ago. For a dozen years or more, several girls have been carrying this heavy secret around, effectively covering for their abuser. They don’t dare speak out themselves, because that would call the entire Quiverfull movement (a cult, really) into question. Because its teachings are heavily to blame for both their molestation and its cover-up.

And then there’s the big question of how they were treated following the assaults. Did they get proper counselling and treatment for the traumas they endured? I don’t know, but somehow I doubt it. Did they get slut-shamed by the all-male cult “headship” for “tempting” him with their budding young bodies? I don’t know either, but I certainly wouldn’t doubt it. For a fertility cult, the Quiverfulls sure do rely a lot on female chastity. And they make sure it’s enforced through a strict, home-schooled “purity culture”, heavy on patriarchal dogma and light on useful knowledge. Their overall education is far from comprehensive (or accurate), so I’m guessing that their sexual education is at best sketchy. Knowledge is power, and the fact that the junior Duggars have been brought up on an unholy broth of ignorance and lies doesn’t bode well for their future autonomy. Unless, of course, they do what a growing number of the Phelps clan have done, and exit the family cult. (Run, Jinger, RUN!)

And then there’s the fact that Josh Duggar has actually done quite well for himself and his own Quiverfull brood in the interim, working for an infamous right-wing stink tank, the Family Research Council. He had to resign when this scandal finally grew beyond all hope of damage control, but the real damage he did while in their employ is still being felt by women and queerfolk. After all, those wingnuts he worked for helped keep Arkansas in the transphobic Dark Ages. And they did it by enlisting Josh’s mom, Michelle Duggar, to record a disgusting robocall about evil, wicked trans people out to rape everyone’s sweet, virginal daughters. It worked, too: Arkansas’s proposed anti-discrimination law didn’t pass.

Never mind that the biggest threat to women and girls is not the imaginary man-in-drag claiming to be a woman so he can break into bathrooms to sexually assault little girls, that “queer” variation on the hoary old theme of Stranger Danger. Never mind that actual cases of women or girls being assaulted by such individuals simply don’t exist. No, let’s all go on ignoring the real threat, that smirking dough-ball in a suit, who pushed crapaganda about phantom menaces while keeping his own very real sex crimes hidden in the old family closet.

Even some otherwise intelligent radical feminists have fallen for that lie, which is a testimony to the insidious power of the Duggars and their ilk. It’s also a testimony to the power of dogma and antiquated ideology. Here’s a pro tip, my rad-fem comrades: If you find your views on gender dovetailing inextricably with those of the Religious Reich, you’re not pushing for women’s liberation anymore. You’re pushing against it, and you don’t even know it.

And here’s another, just for good measure: Trans women are not “really men”, they are really WOMEN. And they’re being abused by the same people who are selling you those dirty lies about their gender. When a trans woman is forced to use the men’s room because she doesn’t “pass”, and she gets assaulted for it, that’s abuse. That’s on all of those who pushed to keep trans people’s rights unprotected. And if you joined in that push, congratulations: You’ve made common cause with the enemies of all women.

You want to liberate women from patriarchy? Great! Then recognize your trans sisters as women. Stop fretting over what’s between their legs. Learn their concerns; you’ll find that they mesh nicely with yours. Bigotries tend to cluster, so a unified front — that’s the real meaning of intersectionality — is needed to combat them. Don’t do the bigots’ work for them! Fight the patriarchy and its dogmas, not the trans women who are their victims.

And if you meet a trans woman in the public toilets, don’t panic. Remember, she’s there for the same reasons you are. You didn’t come to perpetrate a sexual assault? Good, because neither did she. Isn’t it a relief to know that she’s only there to relieve herself, same as you?

And if any man is lurking in the vicinity, waiting for victims, I doubt very much that he’d bother to dress in drag first. Unless, of course, his costume is that of the fine, upstanding family man who can do no wrong. That one fools the whole world, every single time.

Mike-jacking moron gets a mike check…and a pink slip

Warning: This video is infuriating.

Yeah, that’s right…even under the watchful eyes of the security guy, these bozos tried to spring a “Fuck her right in the pussy!” on CityTV’s Shauna Hunt as she tried to report from outside a Toronto FC soccer game Sunday night.

Contrary to what the one wank-stain says, though, this is neither “substantial” (nice choice of words, dudebro) nor “fuckin’ hilarious”. It’s old, it’s tired, it’s based on a bullshit hoax, and nobody over the age of 12 with more than two brain cells to rub together finds it funny. Least of all a reporter who has to hear it about a dozen times daily, as Shauna Hunt says she does.

And of course, it invariably gets sprung on female reporters. Because “weaker sex”, and blahblah.

Well, looks like the laugh’s on the wankers, because Shauna not only talked back, she made sure this story went viral:

shauna-hunt-tweet

And everyone from the Kingston Police to the Premier of Ontario got to boosting that signal.

And now, one of the unfunny jokesters has reaped some substantial consequences:

Ontario’s largest electricity provider, Hydro One, issued a statement today saying it has fired one of its employees in connection with the lewd disruption.

A Hydro One official identified the employee as Shawn Simoes, but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to name him for privacy reasons.

Simoes is shown in the video using an expletive and calling his friend’s remark hilarious before telling the reporter she is lucky they didn’t have a vibrator.

[…]

The men also face a one year-ban from all games of the soccer club and other teams owned by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which include the NHL Maple Leafs and NBA Toronto Raptors.

‘We’re appalled that this trend of disrespectful behavior would make its way to our city, let alone anywhere near our stadium,’ MLSE said in a statement.

‘We are working to identify the individuals, and when we do they will be banned from all of our facilities.’

Guess you shouldn’t have had so much to drink before the game, eh fellas?

And yeah…if you’re gonna yell stupid shit into a live TV mike, you should be aware that your boss could be watching. And that the security guy standing right next to the reporter will be remembering your faces and your names, too.

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Isn't It Ironic?, Men Who Just Don't Get It, Schadenfreude, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Mike-jacking moron gets a mike check…and a pink slip »

Music for a Sunday: Mother, let me fight

I know I’ve posted this before, but Alí Primera’s great song about revolutionary mothers and the lessons they teach their children bears repeating. Especially in light of the fact that Mother’s Day didn’t start out as a commercialization of motherhood and sentimentality, but a revolutionary statement against capitalism and its wars, by mothers of those who died in them. Alí turns the issue around, recognizing a need to fight against capitalism and imperialism because his mother taught him to love his people and nature. It’s a song that has inspired many a Venezuelan (and other Latin Americans, too) to fight for their rights against a commercial juggernaut that would only too gladly swallow them…mothers and all.

Posted in Huguito Chavecito, Music for a Sunday, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Music for a Sunday: Mother, let me fight »

Good morning, Alberta!

Like my man Robin says, this is not a test. Last night, out West, THIS happened:

orange-new-blue

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, and you don’t need to adjust your monitor. Mordor has a new premier, and she’s a progressive. Rachel Notley is in the house!

Is that a bleat of fear in Harpo’s voice? Maybe the tiniest little oily black track of a bituminous tear down his cheek when he woke up seeing his “base” turned such an un-Albertan color? Maybe. But don’t forget, kiddies, his actual origins are in the very same Toronto elites he pretends he’s not from. He’s no more a real Albertan than Dubya was ever a real Texan. Any tears he sheds over this will be strictly the crocodile variety. But he should be afraid, VERY afraid, because if Alberta could throw his cronies out in such a big way, guess who might just get the bum’s rush next, come federal election day? (And on that note, don’t forget to send him a message on C-51 today. If THAT gets rammed through, he’s gonna damn well deserve all the bum-rushing he gets.)

Meanwhile, Jim Prentice, the former premier of Oilpatch Inc., has taken his ball and gone home in a snit. He won’t even be occupying his local seat in the legislature. Bitter, Party of One? Right this way to your table behind the door, sir. One silver platter of sour grapes, coming right up.

As for the rest of the arrogant, smug, old-line politicians, let this be a lesson to you. If you can’t coast on your establishment status even in Alberta, you can’t coast anywhere. Better start listening to the people and learn to lead by following the popular will. Otherwise, it’s the bum’s rush for YOU, too.

Posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Schadenfreude, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Good morning, Alberta! »