Matthew Behrens

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Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who coordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. His column "Taking Liberties" examines connections between national security and civil liberties. Behrens has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. "national security" profiling for many years.
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Lost in the '50s with Harper's anti-terror pablum

Photo: James Vaughan/flickr

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Last Friday, viewers of the CBC's flagship news program, The National, could be forgiven for thinking they were back in the Leave it to Beaver 1950s. Indeed, they ran a saccharine story that would have done proud former Soviet and East German state news agencies. In fact, had it run during the Cold War, it would hopefully be touted in today's journalism schools as an embarrassing parody of what their profession is supposed to be.

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A Canadian in Paris: Hassan Diab's indefinite jail journey

Photo: www.justiceforhassandiab.org

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Was Ottawa 'terror' arrest timed to support repressive new legislation?

Photo: GRC - RCMP - DIVISION C - QUÉBEC/flickr

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Troubled times ahead with new anti-terror legislation

Photo: CPOA/flickr

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Just in time for an election campaign in which Stephen Harper is positioning himself as a war-time prime minister, Bill C-51 (Anti-Terrorism Act 2015) was recently introduced to play a dual role: granting extraordinary new powers to already hyperactive and unaccountable state security agencies, and baiting as "soft on terror" anyone who questions the bill's necessity and the human rights violations it will further legitimize.

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No Chelsea morning for hypocritical world leaders in Paris

Photo: European External Action Service/flickr

When a former U.S. army private awoke in her jail cell just over a week ago -- some 17 months into a 35-year jail sentence -- she could have been forgiven for thinking, in the immediate aftermath of the terrible Paris magazine attacks, that the commutation of her punitive sentence for exercising freedom of speech and conscience was about to be placed on President Obama's desk. Obama, like many world leaders, had just issued stunning, passionate statements about freedom of the press, human dignity, and all the great things that make countries like Canada and the U.S. just so undeniably terrific.

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No room at Canada's inn

Photo: Sara Prestianni/noborder network/flickr

Usually lost in the bustle of Christmas commercialism is the reminder that when Jesus' parents were looking for a place to stay, there was no room at the inn. For refugees worldwide, that same demeaning sign is hung at the entrance of far too many countries: you are not wanted, you are not admissible, you are undesirable, you are dangerous, you are alien, you are illegal, you are a virus, you are a threat.

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Militarism degrades, disrupts and destroys democracy

Photo: VAC-ACC/flickr

As the Canadian government plays at fighting wars in Iraq/Syria and in eastern Europe, we see daily examples of how militarism ultimately degrades, disrupts and destroys democracy. Indeed, we are subjected to a gravitational pull of obedience to martial values that blinds us to a series of uncomfortable realities that are visible in plain sight but unmentionable in mainstream discourse. While a slavish media hangs on every General's word, Ottawa refuses to release the costs of its overseas adventures. Politicians who voted against the Middle East mission now say we must rally around the troops.

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Will Canada disengage from its increasingly militarized culture?

Photo: Ashwin Kumar/flickr
Matthew Behrens provides insightful reflections about the violent events that happened in Ottawa on Wednesday Oct 22.

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Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa

Photo: Ashwin Kumar/flickr

I often find it hard to feel empathy for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But when I saw the grim picture of him talking on the phone following the end of his confinement in the locked down House of Commons yesterday, I sensed in him a vulnerability he rarely exhibits. Harper, like his fellow MPs, Parliamentary staff, media, visitors and children in the downstairs daycare, had likely hunkered down behind locked doors, no doubt traumatized by uncertainty when an armed gunman entered the building. Because no one knew who the gunman was after, all were potential targets.

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Demonizing those Canada calls 'radicalized'

Photo: Scott Barron/flickr

Scare headlines about young people becoming "radicalized," going overseas, being transformed into robotic Super Muslims, graduating from Beheading School, and being returned to Canada ready to strike at the heart of our values, freedoms, and traditions have filled the media in the past few months, leading to an upcoming Canadian campaign of bombing Iraq and repressive new legislation to be introduced this week in Parliament.

Given the Fourth Estate's role as stenographer to power, it is unsurprising that the many articles asking "why" young people are attracted to overseas adventures are all playing into the same "blame Islam" game that results in horrible "jihad" headlines, increased fear, and suspicion of anyone who does not look like the CBC's Peter Whitemansbridge.

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