Letters to the Editor – Oct. 28, 2009

RE: Break it to my grandma (Oct. 21, 2009)

Fruit flavored rolling papers for the kids, fruit flavored booze for the grown ups, and rose colored glasses for politicians and their sheep.


Bruce Codere
Fox Creek, AB

RE: The Speedo, the square and the jammer (Oct. 21, 2009)

When I saw this week’s issue of The Manitoban, I was happy to see an article related to swimming. Swimming isn’t exactly the hot topic among sports lovers, so I was hoping to read something interesting and informative. What I found, however, was disappointing.
I spent nearly a decade of my life swimming competitively, and in that time I developed a decent knowledge and understanding of all the swimming equipment available to me. Naturally, the bathing suit is a big part of that. While Ben Clarkson does a decent job of presenting a basic image of the different styles of bathing suits available for men, his information isn’t completely accurate. First of all, Speedo is a brand name, not a term synonymous with “unnecessarily revealing men’s swimsuit”. Their company makes bathing suits, yes, but they also manufacture goggles, caps, stopwatches, track suits, running apparel, and an array of other things.

Speedo has also evolved. Clarkson mentioned that “as they react to the chlorine they are going to become less and less comfortable and create more drag” and “the nylon begins to disintegrate”. Speedo’s bathing suits are by far the most endurable swimsuit I’ve ever worn, and I’ve worn a lot of swimsuits. There newer training suits (Endurance, Endurance +, Endurance ++) are all made with polyester and can last a couple years if they’re treated properly. And it’s been years since I’ve seen a bathing suit wear down to the point of transparency, and even if it did, maybe that’s a sign that you need a new one.

Sarah MacDonald

RE: Scrutinizing the American propaganda machine (Oct. 14, 2009)

I want to comment on one of the article’s I read in the Manitoban in the October 12 issue. The specific article is called “Scrutinizing the American propaganda machine,” by Peter Zystra-Moore.

My first thought after reading this article is that Peter is promoting his own version of Propaganda. After a more careful reading of the article, I am a bit more considerate of his views. But, some of his article seems to be propaganda and not objective, whereas some of the article is written in such a way as to be considered an intellectual effort with less bias.

1) Peter”s scepticism about the motives of U.S. Presidents and of America may have some merit, though it does reflect a bias by Peter. I was interested in Peter’s viewpoint even though I frame the discussion differently.

2) Peter then proceeds to defend and justify the actions of Iran’s secrecy in building a second nuclear facility and he justifies Iran’s Nuclear program. Peter ignores the fact that Iran is perceived as a country that is more likely to use a nuclear weapon if given the opportunity.

Specific policies of Iran put it on a collision course with Israel. If Iran were to have nuclear weapons, then I personally worry about a nuclear war between the countries. I will point out that Israel has never used a nuclear weapon against any country. I am not so confident that the same would be true about Iran if circumstances were reversed.

Peter denies that Iran is capable of making nuclear weapons, particularly with it’s current technology. I wonder if anyone truly knows what Iran is capable of and how far along their nuclear weapons technology is.

3) Peter seems to defend (he does this by offering a clarification) Iran’s President, Ahmadinejad, and his views about the Holocaust. After reading Peter’s article, I decided to listen to Ahmadinejad’s speach to the UN, but the YouTube version is not translated to English. Benjamin Netanyahu spends much of his speech to the UN responding to Ahmadinejad’s speech because it apparently denied the holocaust.

I did see an interview where Ahmadinejad had a translator. My interpretation of Ahmadinejad’s words is that he is concerned about the Palestinians and he dismisses events of the past pertaining to the Holocaust as not being relevant to the Palestinian people. Accordingly, Ahmadinejad dismisses any lessons learned from the Holocaust about humanity. There is also no acceptance of the fact that Israel as a Jewish state, is a country that will continue to exist. Accordingly, Ahmadinejad feels any action against Israel is justified. I am not sure if Peter feels the same, but his article is biased against Israel, perhaps to justify Iran’s actions.

4) Peter describes Israel as having “brutal policies of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the hapless Palestinians.” Already, Peter’s words demonstrate a bias against Israel. This part of his article demonstrates blatant propaganda by Peter – which is ironic considering his article criticizes propaganda.

I will agree that Israel is less than perfect in their treatment of the Palestinians. But I will point out that in Israel, the Palestinians are protected by Israeli law, co-mingle with the Jewish population, and have opportunity for a better life than those in the West Bank or in Gaza.

I will also point out that the Palestinians do not want Jewish people on their land, which goes even beyond Apartheid.

I looked up the definition of Ethnic Cleansing on Wikipedia. The term ethnic cleansing is not to be confused with genocide. Ethnic cleansing is similar to forced deportation or ‘population transfer’ whereas genocide is the “intentional murder of part or all of a particular ethnic, religious, or national group”.

Israel is not attempting to deport the Palestinian population out of Israel. If that were the intention, it would have been done already, but nothing is further from the truth. The focus instead is upon those that intend ill harm upon the Jewish population of Israel. The unfortunate consequence of extremist and militant groups within the Palestinian population is that all Palestinians have suffered because of the actions of the militants.

The world is pursuing a two state solution to the Israel/Palestinian situation. That is because Jewish people need to be secure and free of violence within the Israeli state, and a two state solution is the only way this is possible. The actions of Palestinian militants make this the only solution that can work for both peoples.

While there has been military conflict, rightly or wrongly, there has been no effort at ethnic cleansing, except perhaps by the Palestinians who do not want Jewish people to live in the Muslim world.

As for brutal policies of occupation, Peter blatantly ignores the fact that Israel no longer occupies Lebanon or Gaza. Those military conflicts were a temporary response to circumstances, with the intent of bringing safety for the people of Israel.

While Peter is entitled to his views, I do believe that his article has some bias. In an academic environment, his article can be called under scrutiny as possible propaganda – particularly when he writes an article criticizing propaganda.

Respectfully submitted,

Royle Derbitsky
Alumni of the University of Manitoba

Misspeaking, and other unforgivable crimes against humanity

These days, leftists love obsessing over past governmental follies — the older and less contemporarily relevant, the better. You will rarely hear a young protester debating current economic issues with as much furor as they do screaming about, say, our country’s history of racism. For a lazy left-wing activist, the racism issue has it all—it is easy, it doesn’t require any real, comprehensive, analytical thought, and it is so explosive that people rarely fight back. Best of all, it gives them the quasi moral high ground that they are so addicted to, by being able to accuse everyone else of being stuck in the dark ages while they are the educated, enlightened ones, without ever really needing to back that up.

Sheldon Birnie published a ridiculous article a few weeks back throughout which he subtly accused Stephen Harper of being a racist because he misspoke at an conference in the United States. Birnie mentions but then discards the economic talk (see first paragraph) and instead focuses on a quote from Harper that claimed Canada did not have a colonial past.

Of course Canada does have a colonial past (as anyone who paid attention in seventh grade social studies knows), which just might explain Birnie’s main grievance: why this non-story wasn’t picked up by the mainstream media.

For starters, it had the defining characteristic of a non-story – Leftists everywhere were obsessing over it as if they had finally found a bootlegged copy of the new Michael Moore movie on the Pirate Bay. While today’s mainstream media has very few commendable qualities, one is that they can usually tell between a story and a non-story. And this, my friends, was a non-story.

Surprisingly, Birnie goes on to dismantle his own assertion – that Harper is either an idiot or a liar – by noting that Harper is an accomplished academic, and that he apologized publicly to the residential school survivors only one year ago. Yet Birnie still decided to run with the “Idiot or Liar?” title.

While it is expected that anti-Harper enthusiasts everywhere would raise hell about such a minor event, it is ironic that Birnie of all people would overreact with such venom. This is of course the same Sheldon Birnie who last year insisted that a “Sandy” Glover was running for MP in “Ste.” Boniface. One wonders if Birnie was introspective enough at the time to look in the mirror and ask if he himself was a liar, or just an idiot.

Birnie quoted Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo who said “the prime minister must be held to the highest standard, especially when speaking to the international community. There is no room for error.”

Indeed the PM should be held to a high standard, but of course as politicians (and human beings) prove relentlessly, there is always room for error. The first dictionary definition of error is “a deviation from accuracy or correctness; a mistake, as in action or speech”. How else could Harper’s quote be described?

Birnie attempts to address that question by posing “to whom is [Harper] lying?” Great question! The answer is, no one! He was not lying!

Harper has been called a “grand chess master of politics”. No doubt would he would tell a white lie to get a nudge in the polls or to knee-cap his opponents, but considering that he was at a G20 conference where the entire world was watching, there were no political points to be gained, and no photo opportunities to be earned by stretching the truth in such a way. In fact, purposefully downplaying the importance of such a controversial period in our nation’s history had the potential to be politically devastating. Of course the reality of the situation is that he simply misspoke. The media, and most people who paid attention, managed to pick up on this.

The fact that Birnie and some others find it absolutely incomprehensible that Harper, amid his hectic speaking schedule, could have simply misspoken is somewhat puzzling. Needless to say, it speaks volumes to their own political agenda. To claim that Harper is an idiot or a liar after conclusively proving in the very same article that he is neither reeks of journalistic (if you can call it that) opportunism and partisanship.

Even in an opinion column, one would hope that an editor of a paper would aim just a little bit higher.

Tyler Kelsch would appreciate a little more intelligence in the pages of The Manitoban.