Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I was reading about John Taylor Gatto, the 1991 New York City school teacher of the year, and I was most amused about how he responded to the award--he quit his teaching career and began a life for himself on a farm with his wife. Although he quit teaching, he didn't stop trying to help us learn. He is the author of several books on the perils that forced schooling are inflicting on generations of students all around the world. These days, he is an advocate of home schooling and a supporter of the Libertarian party.

From what I've seen, the core of his argument is that going to school crushes your individuality, teaches you to use external measures of self-worth, and neglects to properly prepare you for a healthy, fulfilling life. Instead, it collates and sorts photocopied graduates to be filed in the Human Resources department of our corporations.

Although I have had some positive learning experiences in my time, I would agree for the most part. I have always enjoyed reading on my own and learning from my parents (who are both teachers, giving me an unfair chance!). I only questioned the idea of going to school when I was five years old and vowed that I would hide underneath my bed when the bus arrived to cart me off. That thinking was long dead, until now.

I know that if I want to write for a living, I'll have to go back to Concordia University eventually. (McGill missed out on a great prospect when they scoffed at my mountain-range chart of high and low marks...they vary from 19 in Vectors and Linear Algebra to 100 in History of Western Civilization) The diploma I receive in Journalism won't teach me to write--it will teach me to pull my punches at the behest of an editor, to follow the "rules", and to make deadlines and get real world experience in the field. So far, the only real journalism I've ever done is for Spec Newspaper, and only an op-ed piece on the 2001 FTAA summit in Quebec City. Unless you count this blog, of course.

I wish I knew a lawyer who's well versed in international law because I have a whopper of a question. I'm wondering if the United States is voiding its lease in Guantanamo Bay by holding "enemy combatants" in a prison there.

According to what I've read about the history of how the U.S. acquired the right to use this slice of Cuba for its own purposes, it appears that the original lease stipulated:

"(a) The area must be used only for a coaling and naval station."

Guantanamo Bay has been occupied by the U.S. since 1898. Since they are clearly using it for purposes beyond those sanctioned in the original agreement, it should technically become null and void, or at least it seems so. If there are any lawyers who I've caught reading this, please send me a message in the msg board to the right & help me to understand the legal logistics of this thing!

I just read an article in by Linda Chavez. She is the President of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a "think tank" that tries to promote the assimilation of immigrants and cultural monoversity (the opposite of diversity?). They also oppose affirmative action programs, certain types of education ("racialist 'Afrocentric' curriculum of dubious merit", as they say on their mission statement), and they absolutely reject bilingualism. It is a good thing that we don't have a branch of CEO up here in Canada! The Quebec government would be in an uproar. Assimilation? English only? It wouldn't fly up here.

After reading her Dean article, I decided to write her a letter and call her on her background information. She says that Howard Dean is proving to say things recklessly and then she tries to use this as a cattle prod, using his misquotes to jab at his nomination chances. Where I took offense was when she says "But to say that Americans are no safer with Saddam behind bars is just plain strange." Then, I began to lose track of my focus and I descended into a rant about her organization. I hope to receive a reply. If she responds, I'll see if I can post it up here, to allow her a chance to defend her potentially-heinous organization.

Here is the letter, unabridged.


I was reading your article about Howard Dean's "wacky" and "irresponsible" statements and how they may hurt his chances during the 2004 election. This is a matter of speculation, however since George W. Bush is the architect of two foreign invasions & the world record holder for both the "Largest Deficit by an American President in History" and the "Most protesters opposing American President in History", there is a good chance that the Democratic candidate will win by a slim majority. Whether Dean will be the nominee is a matter to be seen.

The capture of Saddam Hussein is a triumph for human rights and justice since he and his brutal regime must be judged by an internationally-sanctioned war crimes tribunal. His capture doesn't necessarily mean that America will be safer. Ba'ath Iraqi Fedayeen and other Saddam loyalists are not the only players in the Iraqi insurgency (resistance). Shi'ite Fundamentalist militia and other agents are also involved in the guerilla warfare and other assymetrical tactics versus the American occupiers.

For this reason, Howard Dean was right to say that America wasn't safer with the capture of Saddam Hussein. The troops occupying Iraq will still face resistance for the months or years to come.

Also, Al Q'aida has not been subdued. The attack on Pakistani President Musharaf may have been one of their operations. Osama Bin Laden remains at large.

Let us not forget North Korea, which has taken a harder tack since America refused to make a non-agression pact and chastised North Korea for its nuclear programme. This is also a danger to the United States and a member of the Axis of Exil (With Iraq removed from the list, has the White House considered a replacement? Syria or Iran? The choices!).

Plus, Taiwan has a referendum coming up which has angered the Chinese Communists. They are committed to reuniting with Taiwan but there is a Taiwanese Separation movement that has gained control of the government. If Taiwan declares itself a sovereign nation and is accepted by enough states, China could go to war to seize what she sees as her possession. This uncertain time calls for calm and mutual respect. Foreign policy must be done with concern for other nations and their interests.

So, long story short, the capture of Saddam didn't necessarily make America safer. It did, however, give President Bush a feather in his cap which he will carry into the 2004 election.

I saw your website (CEO) and I wanted to say that my province (Qu├ębec) is bilingual. We love speaking both French and English. Most of my population speaks two languages and we have cultural and economic links with Europe as a reward. Instead of trying to melt down your population into a congruous mass, why not celebrate everyone's culture and background? Why assimilate and attempt cultural genocide?

With a small minority of Americans still hindered by the taint of racist beliefs, it is necessary to have programs like affirmative action. Since many of the policies of the past were against visible minorities (before the civil rights movement), many families are still trying to achieve the American dream and make a better life for themselves. What is your explanation for the CEO stance against affirmative action and for assimilation?

Please comment.


Philip Shearing

Linda's group also has the vaguely conservative acronym CEO (meaning Center for Equal Opportunity), possibly to represent the Bush administration. After all, former CEO Cheney now has the opportunity to give no bid contracts to his friends at Haliburton, former CEO Bush is reminding Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin that before Canada-U.S. relations are to equalize, we'll have to sign on to a missile-defense treaty, and poor Colin Powell just got the opportunity to survive cancer thanks to a lengthy operation. Out of all the Bush minions, Mr. Powell is one that I respect. (And Condoleeza Rice equals just a question mark. I am truly indifferent to her)