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Monday, January 30, 2017

Extremism, fear and scapegoating: Quebec shooting, the Muslim ban and the "BLM kidnapping"

Usually, I wouldn't talk about terrorist acts, after all it's almost a routine by now... France comes to mind. However, since it happened in Quebec, my province, I suppose it's only fair that I take the opportunity to express my thoughts on the matter.

If you don't know yet, this weekend a man by the name of Alexandre Bisonette went into a mosque in the city of Québec and started shooting people while they were praying. 6 men died, 5 other persons were injured. At first a man by the name of Muhammad was also arrested as a suspect, however turn out he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He saw what happened and tried to help those injured, when he saw the police, armed, he flipped out, being the only person left standing in the mosque. Like an idiot he ran away and was thought to be a suspect. After interrogation he was released. But for a while, who did it and for which motives were nebulous.

I saw, both in real life and on the internet, people eagerly waiting to know the shooter or shooters skin color. The left wanted to see a right wing white supremacist bigot, the right wanted to see an Arab Muslim refugee that hate his fellow Muslims for not being with ISIS or something. Let me say this: when your priority in a mass shooting is to know the identities of the victims/shooters to further your identity politics, you seriously lack empathy and should really reconsider your priorities in life. People died, people were injured. Innocent people, that were peacefully praying, were shot in the back. There were children inside too.

Your identity politics are racist. There, I said it. Whether you are a right leaning or left leaning identity politics afficionado, if you care about people skin color or religious beliefs above the simple fact that innocents were murdered you are bigoted and racist. I was working this evening, and I was baffled to see customers (the TV was set to the news) reacting to the events. Most were shocked and sad, of course, but some seriously lacked empathy and said things like "they should have remained in their country". You don't get it dude: Canada is their country. Many were second generation immigrants. One man that died was even an university Laval professor. They were very well integrated members of my society.

One woman living in the area was interviewed and was asked this question : " How do you explain such events to your children?" Her answer? " I teach them to view people as individuals, not a group. I tell them that some people get blinded by hate and fear." And you know what? She's right. I don't know her but if she does teach that to her children, she is on the right path for parenting in my book.

I , of course, send my condolences to the families of the victims. No one, no matter their religion, skin color or whatever, should have to suffer through this.

And now we come to the scapegoating part. Who's to blame? If you ask news outlets and the internet, Trump is a clear target. Was I kind of annoyed that his press release basically used the occasion to say "see? That's why I did the Muslim ban!" Even though the victims are Muslims and so this statement makes less sense than if the perpetrators were Muslims, but whatever, we know how clumsy Trump's entourage is with the press. Do I think this is partly Trump's fault? Fuck no. It's as nonsensical to say that Marine Le Pen is responsible, since the shooter apparently liked her on Facebook. Should we blame her to have maybe  inspired him? No, and neither should we blame Trump. Can we question the extreme right views that could have inspired him? Of course. To say this is Trump's fault would be removing responsibility from Alexandre Bisonette actions and the rethoric he sought online.

Many used this occasion to draw attention to Trump's temporary ban on immigration from majority Muslims countries, saying his attitude is encouraging violence against Muslims and "Islamophobia".

By the way, I wanted to say that for a while, but am I the only one that think that Islamophobia is the worst way to say what should essentially be renamed Muslimophobia?  Because , ethymologically  speaking, Islamophobia would be the irrational fear of the ideology of Islam, but fearing Islam, by that I mean the ideas of Islam, is perfectly reasonable. There is a lot of scary shit in the Coran. A lot of scary rethoric and religious laws too. Muslimophobia would be more appropriate to describe an irrational fear of Muslims. I also think the phobia words tend to be sometime overused... End of the parentheses.

Ahem, so as I was saying, many people dislike Trump's last executive decision, and I do too. How could a three months ban do more against terrorism than the last ten years of fighting it? Nonsense. But even if you support the ban, can we agree it was poorly handled? Even permanent American residents were barred entry! It's only an example, but we all heard of all those cases that are revolting by how nonsensical they are. Can we also reminisce about Trump's inauguration and how he lied about how many people went to it to protect his fragile multi-millionaire president of the most powerful country ego?  Needless to say, Trump is someone to keep an eye on. The only thing he did yet I approve of is his rejection of TPP, that trade deal was shady to say the least, so good thing he rejected it.

Extremism, from all sides, is rising, and I wouldn't blame Trump for it. Is he a symptom of this "extremization" of politics? I think so, after all his rethoric is shared by people way more extreme than him... And he was elected. But to blame him alone is removing the agency of the little folks that think those same things, or way worse.

To remember you that extremism is rising from all sides, not just the right or Islamists, I thought I would talk about the "Black lives matter kidnapping". It was called like that because many blamed the rethoric of the movement for the kidnapping and torture of a mentally handicapped young white man by four black kidnappers , two women, two men. Of course, blaming black lives matter activists for this is as ridiculous as blaming Trump or Marine Le Pen for the Quebec shooting. Could their rethoric have inspired them? Maybe. But as it is the case for Trump and Marine Le Pen, scapegoating them would remove the responsibility of those who spread those ideas first, before it became more mainstream.  Ideologues aren't lone wolves.

The kidnapping was by all accounts racially and politically motivated, in the Livestream video they broadcasted on Facebook (yes those fucktards were that stupid and gruesome) we see them hurt him with a knife, make him drink toilet water and other forms of torture or humiliation (we can even see his cranium bone at some point). We also hear some interesting things, like "white boy", "fuck Donald Trump" and " it's your fault [white people/Trump voters]!". Terrible hate crime... Which is why I was puzzled to see it wasn't considered as such first.

Many were excusing those four teens actions, diminishing the impact. Some other people are convinced the only reason they were charged with hate crime is because the victim was mentally ill not because he was targeted for his skin color or (presumed) political beliefs. If that's true it's quite sad. I remember seeing a police officer saying it's "just kids being stupid" and cringing very hard...

I bet many right wing folks will try to excuse or justify Alexandre Bisonette's own hate crime the same way leftists tried to justify or excuse those black teens.  We will hear the usual answers: it's the environment's fault, it's the fault of X religious/racial group ("it's muslim/white people fault's if he/they killed/kidnapped! Muslims/Whites are the ones to blame!") , It's him/them being young and foolish, it's the fault of a politician current rethoric or actions... I am sure it will come soon enough. And I am tired of people doing mental gymnastics whenever someone from "their side" does something that would hurt their identity politics. I want to teach you the same thing that woman I mentioned will teach her children: view people as individuals, not as a collection of identities in conflict with yours. So that's all for today, hope you have a nice day... And let's hope extremism disappear, because I don't want to see those events as "just another one". -KeLvin

Saturday, January 21, 2017

"Raising the minimal wage is bad!"

So, I'm sure you heard that one before: " Raising the minimal wage from X to Y would be terrible! It would​ means that Z number of people would be at risk of losing their jobs! Better to have a low wage job than no job at all huh?! It would also means prices would rise! How horrifying!"

This kind of argument pisses me off. This argument is using fear to scare people off the idea that we should raise the minimal wage. Usually, the argument is that if, say, 7 million Americans lose their jobs because the minimal wage changed, then changing the minimal wage is an undoable idea. Bollocks. Let me use the same formulation as before "well raising the minimal wage would sure mean some people would lose their jobs, but if that means that all those who didn't can now have living wages isn't that better?" That is the important part, yet people forget about it. Oh, and about those jobs losses, you know it would only be very temporary right? Why? Well, what happens if all the remaining minimal wage workers now have more disposable income? They consume more. What happens when people consume more, that the demand rise? Prices rises, true. But what else? Companies want to raise the offer now that it's profitable to sell whatever, and how do we do that? Oh, that's right! We produce shit. And to do that you need plenty minimal wage workers. And once the offer rise, once again, prices will drop. We all win, on the long term. Sure, short term? Many people will suffer from it, but not the majority, and they will get their jobs back soon enough. Plus isn't the fact that most minimal wages workers can barely live is the biggest problem out there? Who cares if there is enough jobs if those jobs are barely better than not having any? So that was a short one, but I hate seeing that "raising minimal wages is worse than not doing it" argument. See you later. -KeLvin