RIP Jack Layton: His Death Is Only The Beginning

by matttbastard

In the end, we should have known it was fanciful, even selfish, to expect Jack Layton to make it back to Parliament in the Fall.

The man who, weeks ago, stood before a stunned nation to announce he was stepping aside (temporarily, it was insisted)  to once again battle cancer, gaunt and wholly drained of the vigour that defined his upbeat, energetic campaign style, was not the same one who, just one short month prior, had almost single-handedly carried the NDP to its best electoral finish in party history.

This was someone who, if not at Death’s door, was certainly on its footpath.

But before Jack the Fighter became Jack the Martyr, he was Le Bon Jack, the man who, in the words of CP’s John Ward, “slew the Bloc Quebecois and saw the long-dominant Liberal party reduced to a battered hulk” while simultaneously bringing his once-terminal, perpetually-marginalized democratic socialist party into the national mainstream (and, in the process, welcomed Quebec back to the Federal scene after nearly two full decades in the political wilderness). As  James Laxer rightly notes, “When [Layton became NDP leader, he took a party that had seen better days and led it to become a force that can win the next election. His breakthrough in Quebec is historic, a transformative event in Canada’s political history. “

Over the next several days we’re going to be buffeted by many heartfelt tributes to Layton and his legacy. Conversely, we’ll no doubt witness insincere remembrances from those who, quite frankly, despised the man and his pragmatically progressive politics, but cynically know it bodes well to avoid speaking ill of the revered dead. We’re also going to see an increasingly histrionic debate over what to do about iterim leader Nycole Turmel, the party’s newly-minted Quebec rump, and its overall future.

And though Dippers and progressives deserve time to grieve (and Layton is indeed worthy of memorializing) we mustn’t shy away from these contentious issues, lest the momentum that propelled the NDP to historic gains is further halted as the party tries to reorient itself in anticipation of the post-Layton era.

Just to help kick off the frenzy of posthumous speculation re: What Happens Next, here’s a brief excerpt from Warren Kinsella’s latest Sun Maida [sic] column:

For [Jack Layton's] NDP – because it was his NDP – sad and bad times lay ahead. There is no possibility, none, that they can ever expect to maintain what they achieved with Jack Layton Nor can the party’s blasé dismissal of a union with the Liberals be allowed to remain unchallenged. Our democracy will suffer if the Harper government is not facing an effective Opposition. All of us – Stephen Harper included – need the NDP and the Liberals to consider the gravity of the moment, and abandon their pride and hubris. Now, more than ever, progressives need to come together for the good of Canadian democracy.

Whatever your feelings on uniting the Canadian left (and let it be clear, I lean towards Kinsella’s position that only a strong, united centre-left opposition can ever hope to topple the Harpercons), one thing is undeniable: Jack Layton quite literally died to get the NDP — and the Canadian progressive centre-left — to this point; now it’s up to progressive activists, regardless of party affiliation, to continue the fight that ultimately took his life.

Update: And as if anticipating renewed calls to reopen the unification debate following his passing, here’s Layton, from his already-legendary final letter:

 There will be those who will try to persuade [NDP members] to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

So, at least we know what Jack wanted (which doesn’t necessarily make it right, but…).

Something kinda like this:

So, let’s do it.

Layton photo: mattjiggins, flickr

Sidewalk photo: Paul Dewar, Yfrog

Slacker Friday: “Islamophobia Promotion Week”; Breast Cancer Is Sexier (And More Marketable) Than Domestic Violence UPDATED 10.27

by matttbastard

Earlier this year, the upstanding, freedom-loving folks at FrontPage magazine and the Terrorism Awareness Project proudly announced that, from Oct 22-28th, that ever-so-lovable wing-nutty Islamophobe modern-day Cassandra, David Horowitz, would valiantly and courageously shine the spotlight on the evil evilness of stupid neologismsIslamo-Fascism” in a surge of Islamophobic idiocy Horowitz cleverly dubbed Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Apparently this existentially-threatening scourge is being unwittingly enabled–nay, directly and deliberately aided and abetted–by *gasp* stateside liberalpinkosocialistfeminazi fifth columnists like Michael Moore (who is fat and Communist), in concert with “THE ANTI-AMERICAN CURRICULUM OF THE TENURED LEFT [sic] which teaches that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic, imperialist “Great Satan” whose little Eichmanns deserve what they get at the hands of Medieval religious fanatics armed with the latest technologies of death.”

Be still my Merika-hatin’ heart.

According to Hatewatch, Horowitz has been “traveling to American university campuses to attack those who criticize the “War on Terror” and — parenthetically — those who see global warming as a major world threat.” Global Warming?! Yeah, betcha didn’t know Osama and Al Gore were homeboys; reportedly they bonded years ago over a shared interest in hatin’ ur Americaz and a deep, abiding affection for the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers.

(No word on whether BNP head honcho Nick Griffin’s recent campus speaking tour was at all affiliated with Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, nor whether Griffin also decided to throw in some superfluous anti-climate change propaganda just for the hell of it.)

Alas, as the folks at Sadly, No! pointed out back in late September, Horowitz has nagging issues reconciling paranoid bigotry and eliminationist rhetoric with the deadliest weapon in the fifth column’s arsenal: reality.

Goddamn facts – how maddeningly inconvenient.

More: Channelling Tom Lehrer, Kieren Healy of Crooked Timber has penned a tribute in verse to honour these brave warriorz 4 freedumz; Josh Marshall of TPM provides a tongue-in-cheek investigative video report on David Horowitz and Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Also check out this statement from Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, which accuses Horowitz and co. of adopting “a calculated strategy to inflame fear of Muslims and ultimately to soften up the American public to support the next assault in the “War on Terror:” war against Iran” (gee, ya think?) Oh, and you know this week-long exercise in excruciating eliminationist hysteria is a bust when even Uncle Jimbo sez Horowitz’s anti-Sharia sideshow “sucked Hoover.”

[Update: Oh hell no - he didn't just go there, did he? Watch the footage, then check this instant-classic post Mandolin wrote earlier this year. To paraphrase, criticism !=nooses.]

[Update 2 - 10.27: Chet Scoville believes that tactics like those utilized by the students @ Emory only play into the hands of professional martyrs like Horowitz:

...these sorts of protests worked well forty years ago, when neither the media nor political figures knew what to do about them. Now they know; they have the skill to spin them and fit them into their own narratives. The way to disrupt their message is to do something that doesn't fit their narratives -- like emptying the campus for a day and having them speak to an empty auditorium. Now that would have made for crappy footage, and it wouldn't have been shown.]

Related: In case y’all weren’t aware, some of the Islamophobes are apparently down with teh Belgian racist right, to the (dubiously admirable) consternation of LGF head honcho Charles Johnson, who isn’t quite ready to make a logical ideological progression. Still, good old fashioned non-Islamic fascism seems to be a-ok with Pamela Geller, Paul Weyrich and Co. (even Roger Scruton…? Jesus), as long as teh Brownshirts from Brussels feign mad love for teh j00s and pay lip-service to the Holocaust (oh, and most importantly, phear teh Muslims)

Talk about the ultimate marriage of convenience.

[Update 3 - 10.27: Oooo, the spat between Johnson and Geller is gettin' good /popcorn

To quoth D. Aristophanes, "When Johnson actually addressed a topic other than the latest truck backfiring in Damascus, it was as if he had suddenly ripped an IV from his arm that had been pumping 9/11 freakout juice into his veins for the past six years." Hell, Johnson unequivocally effing OWNS here.  And now I'm going to go wait for the inevitable collapse of the known universe.]

Elsewhere:

- Lucinda Marshall, founder of the indispensable, superlative Feminist Peace Network, has a must-read article up @ AlterNet detailing how women’s magazines use breast cancer as a cheap marketing ploy–while domestic violence against women receives little focus:

October means falling leaves, ghosts and goblins, and pink, lots of Pepto-Pink as we observe National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). From Campbell’s Soup to Breast Cancer Barbie, it seems as if just about everyone has jumped on the pinkified bandwagon. And although October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), we’d much rather be aware of breasts, even sick ones, than talk about black eyes and things that aren’t supposed to go on behind closed doors. That point is reflected in women’s magazines, which devote much more space in their October issues to breast cancer than they do to domestic violence.

Of nine publications that I recently found on a grocery store magazine rack, all of which advertised breast cancer articles on the covers of their October issues, only two also contained coverage of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (and mentioned that on their covers).* And, what’s worse, of the coverage dedicated to breast cancer, much of it was offensive, superficial, misleading, or flat-out wrong.

This year there is even called Beyond Breast Cancer that cheerfully proclaims that there are “10 Good Things About Breast Cancer.” Who knew? And just what are the pluses of getting this dreaded disease? According to the bubblegum-colored magazine, one perk is a pair of new boobs that “will face the horizon, not the South Pole.’ Better yet, they will be paid for by insurance. Oh, and you get lots of cards and flowers.

[...]

While it is questionable that additional awareness of breast cancer is useful, in the case of domestic violence, more coverage would be helpful. Domestic violence is the most common type of violence experienced by women both globally and in the United States. The Family Violence Prevention Fund reports that one out of every three women worldwide is “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.” Here in the United States, the rate is one in four. In 2005 (the latest year for which statistics are available), 976 women in the United States were killed by by men that they knew. Yet because we tend to see this violence as a private, shameful issue, only 20 percent of rapes and 25 percent of physical assaults against women in this country are reported to the police.

Related:

stop_violence.jpg

  • Be bold, be brave, be red. Wear red on October 31, 2007. Take a picture or video of yourself and friends wearing red. Send it to: beboldbered@gmail.com. We’ll post it!
  • Take Your Red to the Streets! Know of a location where violence occurred against a woman of color? Have a public location where you feel women of color are often ignored? Make violence against women of color visible by decorating the space in red. Be sure to send us pictures and or video of your display!
  • Rally! Gather your friends, family, and community to rally. Check out the Document the Silence website for the litany we’re asking participants to read together on October 31st. Be sure to send us pictures and/or video of the event! You could even gather where you created a display!

More details on how you can participate @ Document the Silence.

(h/t FPN and The Thin Black Duke)

- Dana @ The Galloping Beaver on cognitive dissonance and Afghanistan:

At the same time Rickie is saying 10 more years and Stevie is saying 4 more years there is a former United Nations High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from Great Britain who says, “We have lost, I think, and success is now unlikely.”

And on the same day Britain’s most senior armed forces leader, Air Chief Marshall Sir Jock Stirrup said: “There is a common misperception that the issues in Afghanistan, and indeed elsewhere around the world, can be dealt with by military means. That’s a false perception.”

Regardless of how long is deemed necessary to delay the inevitable (perhaps close to 40 years, according to Brigadier John Lorimer, commander of UK forces in Helmand), the wide gap between Hilliar’s estimate on how long it will take to train Afghan security forces and that of the PMO is indicative of just how desperate the effort to maintain the illusion of progress has become for the Stephen Harper Party.

Dave @ TGB:

The fact is, Hillier’s assessment is believable because it’s based on the current metrics. Whether the ANA kandaks being trained by the Canadian Army are, in fact, “top-notch” doesn’t really enter the picture. What is true is that it takes three years to train a single Afghan infantry battalion and we’re only half-way there. That doesn’t even take into account that the ANA has virtually nothing in the way of combat support and logistical support elements. Adding those in would make Hillier’s assessment optimistic.

Hillier has forwarded something which the Harperites know will cause Canadians to balk: the idea of war-without-end. If the ANA is unable to deal with security situation in Afghanistan on its own, the dismal picture being presented is that Canadian troops will continue to be involved in the same kind of asymmetrical warfare they are now engaged in and will continue to suffer losses – unless we can convince other allies to take on that part of the mission – even for a while.

- Antigone Magazine updates Uncle Steve’s ongoing war on the Canadian womens movement and offers the following defiant postscript:

After publishing this post I realized that there was something that I forgot to add. Ah, yes…. They can take away our funding but they can’t take away our feminisms! (and the political pie will wind up on their face!). That was my idea of a war cry. Let it reverberate through the blog0sphere!

PREACH!

- Last but definitely not least, please extend a warm welcome to the newest member of the bastard.logic family, the inimitable sassywho, who has graciously agreed to help expand our humble crime-fighting trio to a more-foreboding quartet. Check out her intro post and first three offerings and feel free to show her some comment love–or, conversely, level baseless accusations of hatin’ teh babiez. Hey, c’mon now – we here at bastard.logic absolutely adore pre-bornz – especially marinaded overnight in brown-sugar hickory sauce, grilled lightly on both sides and served on a bed of wild rice garnished with fresh cilantro.

On that note, dinner.

Happy Friday!

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