Hitchens tunes into Falwell
What the hell has happened to Christopher Hitchens (NOW, November 7-13)? It appears that the debris from the September 11 attacks has severely damaged his capacity for intelligent and logical thought.
First, he supports a position of war against Afghanistan that leaves tens of thousands dead, millions homeless and a nation run by drug-peddling Russian-backed Northern Alliance butchers.
Now, Hitchens sounds like some right-wing Christian fanatic who tunes into Jerry Falwell and looks for signs of biblical prophesy.
The al Qaeda link to Iraq completely destroys what little credibility Hitchens may have had left.
In fact, Osama bin Laden suggested after Iraq's invasion (of Kuwait) that instead of relying on U.S. troops, Arab regimes should arm him and his Afghani warriors to overthrow Saddam Hussein. This important fact is nowhere to be found in the "new" Hitchens finding Islamic fundamentalists under every Middle Easterner's bed.
Christopher Hitchens once again shamelessly uses controversy to garner attention for otherwise suspect contentions in A Case For War On Iraq.
Sounding more like Bush or Blair in one of their daily 1984 fear-mongering monologues, Hitchens unleashes a bunch of loose arguments for attacking Iraq but ultimately attempts (unsuccessfully) to link Saddam to 9/11 to lend some credence to his position.
His piece suggests (that) some connection (exists) between Iraq and bin Laden. He later states that it was "70 per cent likely" (what incredible mathematical accuracy!) that Atta came to Prague "to meet" (so did they meet or not?) Al-Ani.
He declares passionately that he's against "those who initiated the aggression" (are we still talking bin Laden or have we switched to Saddam?) and "who are planning future ones." I heard him suggest during his talk at the Toronto International Authors Festival that he'd be happy after a war on Iraq as it would allow the Americans to say "fuck you" to the Saudis. What a sorry excuse for a liberal!
I found Mary-Lou Zeitoun's interview with Raja Alem fascinating (NOW, November 7-13).
The sexism in Saudi Arabia is appalling, but I wonder if calling a dignified, mature woman and respected novelist a "saucy scribe" for the sake of alliteration in a headline doesn't reveal NOW's own brand of sexism?
Memo to Chomskyites
I see noam chomsky has brought his act to Toronto.
Am I to understand from your promotion of the event in Grassroots (NOW, November 7-13) that there are still people out there who take Chomsky seriously?
His remaining credibility should have been killed off when he wrote the introduction to French Holocaust-denier Robert Faurisson's book Memoire En Defense.
Memo to Chomskyites: if you ever want to be taken seriously, it's best not to idolize kooks who think we'd all be better off had the USSR won the Cold War.
Spare me bleeding hearts
RE city doesn't know squat (NOW, November 7-13).
According to this article, if the bureaucrats stopped curling the ends of their Snidely Whiplash moustaches for a minute they could snap their fingers and turn empty buildings into cheerful community residences whose occupants, no doubt, would treat these places with the utmost respect and would soon no longer require assistance of any kind.
Who is going to do the work? Is it the "misunderstood" street life I pass on Queen Street on my way to work every morning, snoring loudly from their nests of empty malt liquor bottles?
When these residences inevitably turn into pigpens (because you never respect something given to you for free), who is going to compensate the legitimate home and business owners in the area when their property values plunge?
I've had it with the bleeding hearts in this city. Six years in the military showed me just how sweet it is in this country.
One less place to sleep
I have a bit of a sad story to add to your City Doesn't Know Squat. For years our Hunger Patrol used to feed homeless people who took shelter in the doorways of 10-12 Hagerman.
One guy we used to find on Saturday evenings would be quietly reading a book. We'd give him soup, juice, socks, maybe a blanket or a sleeping bag.
Another guy came out to us in bare feet in the middle of winter. I gave him a couple of pairs of socks. He phoned later to thank me and to tell me someone else had given him a pair of shoes. I could have cried!!
Some time later, some officious character ordered those doorways boarded up. They weren't doing any harm, leaving a mess or causing damage. No reason to act in such a mean-spirited way. Just one less place for the homeless to sleep.
Rev. David R. Burrows,
Hunger Patrol, St. Olave's Anglican Church
NDP coverage hijacked
I've been reading now's coverage of the federal NDP leadership race since the contest began in July. Not once have I seen even a reference to Bev Meslo, the Socialist Caucus candidate, the only woman among the six candidates, a prominent social housing advocate and an organizer of the Woodward Building squat in Vancouver.
Glenn Wheeler's latest, NDP's Invisible Race (NOW, November 7-13), is no exception.
No one should expect NOW to become a publicist for Meslo. Evidently, you've chosen to do that for Jack (Layton), who, like the other candidates for the NDP leadership, has increasingly echoed her call for the NDP to "turn left."
Echoes are better than silence. But readers should expect coverage of at least some of what each of the candidates is saying, including the source of the ideas increasingly setting the tone of NDP debates.
Bev Meslo for NDP Leader Campaign
Welfare rip-off refreshing
In a society where progress is determined by wealth, where people are viewed only as consumers and where we differentiate ourselves by what we buy, use or consume, it's refreshing to read "Maggie Jones"'s take on welfare (NOW, October 31-November 6).
A minimum-wage salary is one way to measure your contribution to society, but why should that standard apply to everyone?
Not all people on welfare are TV-addicted zombies just waiting for a job.
What about involvement in grassroots politics, painting just for the beauty of it or, god forbid, raising your children? How can we put a price on those things?
Living in bizarro-Toronto
This year's best-of list bites (NOW, October 31-November 6)! I can't believe that a group of supposedly artistic and intelligent people honestly believe that the best BBQ in the city comes from Swiss Chalet!
Best homegrown band BNL? Best Chinese food Mandarin? Best Greek food Mr. Greek? This list looks like it was compiled by the T-dot tourism board. Come on, we all know the Docks is not the best place to party unless you don't mind the worst pickup lines of all time!
If Burger King is the runner-up best burger joint, I must be living in bizarro-Toronto.
Real cyclists don't smoke
I'd like to clear up a little misconception that some of your (especially younger) readers might get from that smoking ad you always run showing the off-road cycling racing team.
In general, cyclists are fit, healthy, strong and (dare I say?) smart.
Smokers, on the other hand, seem to be unfit, unhealthy, relatively weak and not so smart (the definition of being smart having something to do with taking good care of your body).
So, although those two dudes in the smoking ad would appear to be endorsing smoking, I'd say that smoking and cycling do not go together, and I'd bet my best pair of wheels that those two guys are not, in fact, smokers.
Brown and white
I just saw Bollywood/Hollywood, and while I applaud the fact that a mainstream film finally makes overt use of a Toronto setting (NOW, October 24-30), the subtext of racism that runs throughout is disturbing.
The white girlfriend of the East Indian son is called "the white whore" by the boy's mother and grandmother at their first meeting, and this is played for laughs.
This position is never challenged or even directly addressed by any of the characters. A happy ending is only guaranteed by the son's eventual acceptance of an appropriately Desi girlfriend.
If the situation were reversed -- a white mother calling her son's Indian girlfriend "the brown whore" -- would we be laughing, or calling for Deepa Mehta to wake up to the reality of a multicultural Toronto?
The article big oil's Kyoto party in the October 24-30 issue stated that Guy Giorno sent e-mails to MPPs. The e-mails were in fact sent by National Public Relations, the lobbying firm for which Giorno was working at the time.