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Dr. Dawg's Blawg
John Baglow is a former VP of PSAC, currently a writer and researcher, public policy consultant, occasional academic and poet. He blogs at drdawgsblawg.ca and no longer tweets.
Disclosure: I'm now a septuagenarian. Sounds better in Latin.
The odd thing is, I don't feel it. Not a bit. So when I first encountered ageism, I went into denial. Or laughed as though it was a joke.
But it isn't. Ours is one of the few human societies in which the default position for age is disrespect. You have to earn your stripes all over again. You either become invisible, or are too often shrugged off with amused or not-so-amused contempt.
"He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it." - George Orwell, "Shooting An Elephant"
Much has already been said on the Boyden scandal, more than likely too much. I would be foolhardy indeed to attempt to recapitulate the eloquence of indigenous writers and scholars like Hayden King, and will not make any such attempt here. Instead, as a white, relatively comfortable Canadian, I'd like to come at the issue tangentially: in particular, regarding the question of identity itself.
The Liberal government, trying to recover from Minister Maryam Monsef's astonishingly bumbled performance in the House of Commons last week, has decided to seek a little consultation camouflage, using an online survey that has already been roundly mocked for its heavy-handed tendentiousness.
"Evidence-based policy" is a cant phrase that has been around for a while. I first heard it used -- repeatedly -- at Justin Trudeau's coronation in Montreal in 2012. It was clearly a term that was intended to set the Liberals off from the Conservatives, who governed in the teeth of evidence, facts, logic and science.
But once in power, this fresh new approach to governance was not to be. Climate change? Here are a couple more pipelines. And mind your manners, Injuns—we've got police and the military to sort you out if need be, and you've seen that movie before.
"Trump's election is going to be the biggest 'fuck you' ever recorded in human history -- and it will feel good....He is the human Molotov cocktail that they've been waiting for, the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system."
-- Michael Moore
Last night I learned a lesson. And I now have questions about everything I have lazily taken for granted over the decades of my life, both political and personal.
I think Moore got it right several months ago, but it runs much deeper. Not everyone who voted for Trump was financially ruined by free trade and Wall Street. Not all of them were racist and sexist hooligans.
The woman being brutalized by America's finest in the photograph is an elderly person holding a prayer staff. Local authorities claim that she was brandishing a gun. She is one of a number of "water protectors" who have been protesting the laying of an oil pipeline that threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Lakota and Dakota reservation. (A brief background to the conflict may be found here.)
UPDATE: CBC is reporting that Capay has been moved from his solitary confinement cell, where he has spent the last four years, to a different cell "with appropriate lighting and access to day rooms, spending time out of their cell for showers, phone calls and access to TV."
Adam Capay, a young First Nations man, has spent four years in solitary confinement in a plexiglass cell where the lights are kept on 24 hours a day. He has not had a trial. He is now likely to be clinically insane. He has no idea whether it is day or night, his speech is slurred, and he has hallucinations.
"There was something in his face that made one trust him at once. All the candor of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity. One felt that he had kept himself unspotted from the world….He was made to be worshipped." - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
One year ago, we had our made-in-Canada Hope and Change moment. A dark decade of brutish and nasty rule had been replaced overnight. Even hardened cynics like myself dared to feel the warmth of sunlight streaming through the windows the next morning.
Bob Dylan's Nobel prize for literature is richly deserved; it was an audacious and inspired choice. Some of his songs are better than others, and you can't point to any one song and claim greatness for it. But one has to take Dylan's entire oeuvre as one thing: a cartography of the American mythos. He has extended an enormous reach through space and time.