If it's cushiness you want, try the Ramada
Christopher Johnson demonstrates his complete ignorance of backpacking culture with his overhyped and dramatized portrait of hostel accommodation (NOW, July 6-12).
To compare hostels and hotels is to completely miss the point of travel for many backpackers.
Yes, we are budget-conscious, and no, we are not backed by "hotel security, chauffeurs, tour guides and local business and diplomatic connections." Thank god.
Travellers choose hostels for the people, atmosphere and networking possibilities. After 10 years of travel, Mr. Johnson seems not to have gained an appreciation of this.
Yes, security and cleanliness are issues at hostels, but they're a manageable part of backpacking.
Accidental tourist should've stayed home
I have two words for Christopher Johnson: stay home. It seems that little has changed in the attitudes and assumptions of western backpackers since the original backpacker, Christopher Columbus, set sail in 1492.
Travellers like Johnson have the wealth, privilege and opportunity to travel globally, only to constantly complain about their treatment.
And what is it exactly that western backpackers contribute, besides their money to "family-run businesses and local markets"?
Witness the formation of backpacker enclaves across the world to provide the traveller with his/her western amenities (yogurt anyone?) and shield him/her from coming too close to the realities of Third World life.
As one worker told me proudly in a Jaipur hostel, "We don't allow Indians. It bothers the foreigners."
Keep right-wingers' nutbar letters coming
Good for NOW for printing a letter demonstrating how empty the right wing can be.
O.G. Pamp (NOW, July 6-12) is quite alarming. Never mind his vulgar name-calling or his totally insupportable claim that anyone who showed up at Queen's Park for any reason deserved what they got.
No, the worst part of his letter is his assumption that "being a responsible adult" consists of submitting meekly to beatings rather than voicing concern over the behaviour of those who are hired to maintain public order.
That is a total denial of the role of the citizen in a democracy, and is more dangerous to public safety than any brick lobbed through the window of a building.
They've got guns, but we've got numbers
Re Riotous motley crew. I've always enjoyed observing O.G. Pamp work himself into a righteous libertarian lather over "neo-Marxists, anarchists and other befuddled twits of the loony left."
Consider this, Mr. Pamp: all the guns are on your side. So what are you afraid of? Perhaps that "so many young people believe in this collectivist crap?"
Clueless on design and disability issues
If there's one thing NOW writers know less about than disability, it's design (NOW, July 6-12).
Deirdre Hanna replicates the time-honoured failed logic of art critics when approaching design: "I know art, so I must know design, since the latter is merely a debased, utilitarian stepchild of the former."
She sallies forth and combines that ignorance with the utter cluelessness about disability issues that we expect from a publication that never quite learned that "progressive" politics aren't limited to Annex leftists' Holy Trinity of feminism, racism and homophobia.
Just a couple of things, Deirdre.
If this exhibit is specially accessible to blind and visually impaired visitors and wheelchair users, what does that say about the DX's previous exhibits?
If the DX is suddenly so committed to accessibility, why does its Web site violate so many recommended practices for accessible design?
Genocide exhibit piece a pure fabrication
Re: No, it's my Genocide
(NOW, June 22-28). Enzo Di Matteo was clearly determined not to let the facts get in the way of a sensational story. His intention with this article was to fabricate a backdrop of conflict and give the impression that Canadians for a Genocide Museum (CGM) are at each other's throats while competing to win top billing in a genocide exhibit.
This is untrue. When interviewed, I stressed repeatedly CGM's position that no single case of genocide should be centrally featured in any government-supported genocide museum or exhibit. In addition, Di Matteo was provided with a copy of the final report of Parliament's Canadian heritage committee, which clearly shows that there was a virtual consensus in support of this position -- the only exceptions being B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress, both of whom advocate a government-supported Jewish Holocaust-centred exhibit/museum.
Di Matteo then goes on to quote an unidentified source as saying that the bill seeking to establish an inclusive genocide exhibit was simply used "to take a shot at the Jewish community." This serves to cast a pall over all those who support the bill -- any number of whom have now been labelled anti-Jewish.
Moving from his attack on Sarkis Assadourian's bill, Di Matteo then proceeds to vilify CGM and its member associations. After finally admitting that there are 33 member organizations in CGM, and naming a number of them, he mentions that one of them is "a Tamil group considered a terrorist front by Canadian law enforcement." By focusing exclusively on this unsubstantiated allegation (what Canadian law enforcement group?), Di Matteo proceeded to assassinate the character of the Tamil organization and, by extension, the entire CGM.
Di Matteo then twists the facts by portraying the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) and the Canadian Arab Federation as anti-Jewish. His contention that UCCLA is an organization that shields Ukrainian war criminals from prosecution is untrue; the issue is whether these war criminals should be tried in Canada.
Finally, Di Matteo seeks to portray me as a Holocaust denier with his statement, "(I)t doesn't take long for Kafieh to start condemning what he calls the 'five myths' of the Jewish Holocaust." I never used the words "myth" and "Holocaust" in connection with each other. Furthermore, it didn't take long because I was addressing the first question Di Matteo asked -- my reaction to B'nai Brith's submission to the standing committee on Canadian heritage.
He went on to quote me out of context and left readers with the false impression that I believe that the Holocaust is a canard.
In fact, I only responded to his question by quoting CGM's response to the five arguments B'nai Brith presented as reasons for having a separate Jewish Holocaust-centred museum/exhibit.
I have never held the belief that the Holocaust is a "myth." In fact, I have dedicated years of my life to equitable and inclusive education on genocide. Each of Di Matteo's misleading statements is a serious matter. Taken as a whole, I believe this article was driven by a malicious agenda, the intention of which was to damage the work of CGM.
James Kafieh Secretary, Canadians for a Genocide Museum
Editor's note: Enzo Di Matteo did not intend to suggest that James Kafieh is a Holocaust denier. Kafieh's mention of "myths" should have been more clearly identified in the story as referring to his arguments about B'nai Brith's position on a proposed Holocaust museum.
Seniors stomped by cops at Queen's Park
D. Silver's version of
what happened at Queen's Park, with protestors viciously attacking helpless police (NOW, June 29-July 5), is way off the mark.
There were more than 1,000 marchers from Allan Gardens to Queen's Park, including church representatives and many seniors, like my wife and I.
We were proud to participate in a protest against the terrible poverty and homelessness in Toronto.
A few young protestors at the barricades may have broken the law, but there was no valid reason for the police to so viciously attack everyone else.
Hard drug choices for psychiatric survivors
Pat Capponi and her fellow psychiatric survivors seem so clear-minded, they must have been wrongly diagnosed in a time when psychiatrists were stamping everyone with the catch-all label "schizophrenia."
Where there are alternatives, the administration of cheap anaesthetics to people with a diminished capacity is unethical.
But what of the case of parents who can either have their schizophrenic son treated or watch him slowly kill himself with his constant use of laxatives because every time he gets gas from a bottle of cola he thinks he has stomach cancer?
Are you saying NOW's an old whore?
Re Leah Rumack's column on the Northern Ink Xposure tattoo convention and her reference to the locale of said event being "as deserted as an old whore's heart" (NOW, June 22-28) . Read the back of your paper and do some math. That's the hand that's feeding you.