ACROSS CANADA ON SATURDAY, THERE WERE A SERIES OF DEMONSTRATIONS IN SUPPORT OF AMERICAN WAR RESISTERS WHO HAVE FLED THE U.S. FOR SANCTUARY NORTH OF THE BORDER.
National elections are looming in both countries and there's all the politically-charged rhetoric that would normally entail.
But heightening all that bullsh*t and the millions of dollars in campaign ads is that the Bush-led War on Terror has the Americans fighting a hopeless war in Iraq and Canadian troops fighting an even more hopeless war in Afghanistan.
Everything about the two wars and who's in power in both countries and the history of our two nations and Canada's more customary role as a peacekeeping nation rather than a fighting nation post-World War II is part of the idealogical landscape.
Even the words used to describe the Americans who have fled to Canada are partisanly packed with power -- much the way the crapola terms Pro-Life and Pro-Choice are used in the debate over abortion.
The U.S. and supporters of the war, of course, call these American Armed Forces personnel who are seeking refuge in Canada DESERTERS, implying a lack of allegiance to America the Beautiful and its values and its warring ways.
The more accurate and appropriate and nonjudgmental term is RESISTERS, which is what these American troops are doing. And I'm all for them. And I could find 10,000 pictures to show why, but here are a few:
We're way past the whole stupid argument of why and whether Bush, in the wake of 9-11, should have invaded Iraq.
We're way beyond debating all the non-reasons and that there were no WMD's there and that the U.S. had covertly supported Hussein all those years before.
He got his photo op on a U.S. aircraft carrier that made people forget about how stupid he looked when he was told about 9-11 while reading a book in an elementary school classroom, and how idiotic he appeared to be.
He got Hussein's head on a platter, his pound of flesh from an evil dictator the Americans had supported for years, as long as his terror benefited them.
He threw thousands of young Americans' lives away in a war no one can win.
It doesn't matter that the U.S. spent billions on supplying arms to the Taliban in the Afghanistan-USSR war before when it suited them.
Or that they supported the Shah of Iran before the Ayatollah came into power (remember the hostage crisis?)
And now Canada is basically throwing away its own young peoples' lives in Afghanistan, the heart and soul of a people who have been taunted and teased and victimized and used by America's government.
And who, naturally, have decided they're not going to take it. That's what 9-11 was all about. And that's what all of this continues to be about.
And so here we are, with federal elections in the U.S. and Canada on the horizon and all the billions of dollars being spent by all the interest groups and the political parties themselves saturing our airwaves.
And the demos, this weekend in Canada, calling on the Canadian government to change its laws so that these American troops can stay here and not be sent back to the U.S. to serve jail time for abandoning a war they don't believe in.
So let's look at the optics.
Let's go beyond the sound bytes, the 10-second clips that you might see on TV which mean absolutely nothing, and investigate the real motivations here and the dangers to political parties on the campaign trail.
You're Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper.
You have supported Bush and been his weenie lap-dog, sucking his political cock, supporting the war in Iraq and pushing to keep Canadian troops in Afghanistan fighting a war they cannot win.
Almost 100 Canadian soldiers dead now.
You're right-wing. Bush is right-wing. McCain is right-wing. Yep, the surge has worked and all that crap. Or it hasn't.
How can you possibly support the idea of harboring American Iraq war resisters, against America's wishes, when you have come out in support of the Iraq War and when you've sent thousands of troops to Afghanistan, at the U.S.'s behest?
Duh. Polls of Canadians have suggested they don't want Canadian troops doing what they're doing.
Do the feds care? No. You just count the body bags, you honour those troops coming home with state funerals, yada yada yada, send out press releases about how they were great, loyal servants of their country...
And such pap.
And they SHOULD be honoured for dying for their country.
I'm talking about the political pap of the politicians and the political machines back home that throw out these news releases about life and death as though it's the latest stats on inflation and interest rates.
And as far as Americans who come to seek asylum in Canada to avoid an Iraq war they couldn't believe in and don't want to die for? How can you give them asylum AND still be supportive of the U.S. military effort in Iraq?
You can't. So you don't. You come up with some lame excuse that you're not going to change the laws for allowing immigrants into Canada. So you boot those American soldiers out of the country so they can go back to the U.S.
And get thrown in jail. There you go. That'll solve that.
God forbid that soldiers actually have a conscience and a brain to -- hello -- actually wonder about what they're doing and where they're deployed to and who, on any particular day, they're supposed to kill or control, and why.
This is different from Vietnam, of course. Back then, the U.S. drafted people into the Armed Forces. There was MORE reason for Canada to take in so-called deserters then in a war America detested.
But there was no 9-11 to react to back then. And this time around, there's been no draft that forced Americans to enlist. Still, it's been a contentious war that some American soldiers don't want to be in.
And another difference is that we, as Canadians, haven't railed against the Americans and the Iraq War and the War on Terror as I believe we should have, if we had actually had the balls to do it.
Instead, we've more or less joined the Americans in it.
So we've made ourselves part of it now. And as far as I'm concerned, we need to unmake ourselves as part of it. We need to get out of Afghanistan. We need to tell the Americans we don't agree with their actions.
We need to be what we used to be, but no longer are -- a small mouse, if loud and persistent, a voice of reason, scurrying beneath the gigantic elephant's feet, trying to shout out -- if they can hear us -- how stupid they've been and how wrong they are.
And one of the tiny things we can do, in our historic role as a reasoned, peace-loving people of sobre second thought, fairness and sensibilities, is to allow these American war RESISTERS is to allow them to resist and to stay here.
That's what I think we're all about, not about being the United States2.
Snippets from one story on this:
--Anti-Harper sentiment coursed through those attending the rallies, which were initially scheduled to coincide with the 10-day countdown to Iraq war resister Jeremy Hinzman's deportation.
--"It's not just about the price of gas in this election," Lee Zaslofsky, who dodged the Vietnam draft in 1970, told a crowd of several hundred in Toronto. "It's about what this country is, and Stephen Harper thinks what this country is is disgusting and weepy and feminine and ... he's going to turn it around and make it just like the United States."
--"I'm thankful, it's good to see some solidarity with us," said the resigned looking 29-year-old Hinzman, whose wife and two children will return with him. He said he still hopes to get word he and his family can remain in Canada.
"But if we're not (permitted), I'll be proud to go to jail rather than kill people. Whatever happens, happens. We've tried to do everything we can."
--"(Deported soldiers) will be marked in the United States as traitors," said one 1968 draft dodger. "They're told a long story that turns out not to be true and sent to the front for what is essentially an assassination of poor civilians."
--At a United Church in Calgary, U.S. Navy officer Chuck Wiley spoke about his decision to flee to Canada after 17 years in the military. "It seemed to a lot of us that Canada had refused to enter the Iraq war on virtually the same basis that we didn't want to fight the war any longer."
--Some 12 former American soldiers are seeking refugee status in Canada. One former soldier was deported back to the U.S. in July.