02.27.2011 07:22 AM

In today’s Sun: hypocrisy abounds

Some days, people in the Third World can be forgiven for being unimpressed with the rest of us.

Take the pro-democracy protests continuing to sweep the Middle East, for example. The way a few are going on, you’d think westerners were on the front lines in Tahrir Square in Cairo, battling the forces of repression themselves.

Instead of watching it, you know, from the comfort of their living room. On a big flat-screen.


  1. Brammer says:

    Hypocrisy abounds – no question.

    If Obama officially recognizes the coming results of true democracy in the middle east, he may just retroactively earn that Nobel.

    Time will tell.

  2. jbro says:

    thats what i said, but no one seems to care.

    if the shoe were on the other foot, i’d remember who supported the tyrant who made everyone’s life hell.

    meddling with the fabric of peoples’ lives is NOT the way to go in the long run, if you believe in principles, morals, and stuff like that.

  3. Kephalos says:

    Two things really, really impress me about these peoples’ revolutions: the solidarity of the army with the people, and the repressive police. East Germany, Russia, Tunisia, and Egypt all came to a new day because the army said to the leaders “We stand with the people, we will not shoot them for you.”

    I watch the CBC 5th Estate last Friday night. I thought “This is like the brutality (not as brutal like they didn’t kill or cripple but the same idea) the police used in Egypt: arrest a lot of people, hold them in open cells so that many could hear the interrogation and torture of a few; etc.”

    Somebody in Canada ordered the G20 police tactics. Who? Federal or provincial or in collaboration and complicity.

  4. Steve T says:

    Great point about Cuba, Warren. We Canadians forget that it is a dictatorship, too, when we go there and support it with our tourism dollars.

    • Lipman says:

      And it doesn’t stop at tourism. How about Canada’s own Sherritt International, which is making money hand over fist in Cuba with resource extraction and other lucrative ventures.

  5. Patrick Murphy says:

    “Great point about Cuba, Warren. We Canadians forget that it is a dictatorship, too, when we go there and support it with our tourism dollars.”

    I don’t think anybody has to apologize for injecting large amounts of foreign currency into Cuba. Or Egypt. Or even, maybe, the US. Sure some of it will be used by the local governments to buy guns or whatnot. That’s what governments do. For instance if you spent any money in Florida in 2004, you subsidized American soldiers shooting Iraqi children and Egyptian tanks. And many other unpleasant things.

    But that money also goes to schools, medicine and people in the tourism industry buying foreign consumer goods they couldn’t otherwise afford. And it’s not like people in Florida really need foreign currency in the way Cuban’s do.

    And the tourist-only beeches aren’t evidence of the Cuban government being pure evil. First of all Cuba doesn’t appear to be short of beaches for the locals. On my first visit to Cuba, a beach for locals was 10 minute walk away. On my second, and last visit, the beach was a shared beach, tourists and locals.

    And it’s not exactly like there is anything in Communist doctrine that restricts some beeches to foreigners. I suspect the Cuban gov. has practical reasons for the restrictions.

    • Shaun says:

      Totalitarian? Cuba is far from totalitarian, very far from it. Just because it is a socialist country lead by a dictator does not mean that the dictator controls the totality of social relations and individual conduct and consciousness. And Cuba’s socialism isn’t the sort that would qualify it as communism: there is a great deal of private ownership in Cuba, despite state ownership/intervention in several sectors of the economy. Indeed, most resorts and their beachfronts are privately owned. If I were trespassing on privately owned property, the police in Canada would be sure to escort me off the property and issue a fine at the owner’s request. I’m sure that if I were to run away, the police would pursue me. I could, in fact, fall on rocks and cut my leg. That’s what makes Warren’s story about the ‘Canadian scar’ so unexceptional.

      Above all, Cuba’s ‘totalitarian’ regime seems to provide much better social services, such as health care, than the US’s ‘democratic’ regime, odd. Social inequality can be just as restrictive on individual freedom as formal laws found in totalitarian regimes.

      • Michel says:

        But Castro’s regime does recognize limits to its authority and it doesn’t regulate every aspect of public and private life. Cuba is far from, say, communist China. For one, Cubans have freedom of conscience, among numerous other freedoms enjoyed by individuals in democratic societies.

        The shoe doesn’t quite fit, Gord.

    • Patrick Murphy says:

      I don’t do moral relativism. In my experience, when that term is used in US/Canadian discussions, it is used by right wing douche-bags to justify evil actions (mass murder) on behalf of the US and Israel. It’s basically the ‘theory’ that ‘good’ countries cannot commit evil acts against ‘evil’ countries. Because they are ‘good’. It is a complete abdication of moral responsibility, on par with Jack the Ripper murdering hookers on account them being evil.

      It is strangely ironic the term moral relativism is used to justify a complete lack of a moral code. But sadly it is.

  6. james Smith says:

    What I’ve found interesting is the contrast between the reaction in the press & the blog-O-sphere of getting Canadians out of Libya to getting Canadians out of Lebanon a couple of years back. For some reason the sentiment seems to be we are not doing enough to extract for Canadians working for the regime in Libya (all be it at arms length, airlines & oil companies etc). In the case of Lebanon there was a lot of crit placed at the feet of Canadians who were, in many cases back in Lebanon for an extended visit. “They should have known better” was a common sentiment.
    I have to wonder if the difference had more to do with one group having brown eyes & this group has blue eyes.

    • james Smith says:

      See this is exactly what I’m talking about. For some reason we make this judgement that somehow Lebanese Canadians “were abusing the system” while Canadians lately in Libya are more deserving because they’re working for an oil company. To Mr K’s point in his column, these individuals AND companies have been supporting this regime by their presence & participation in keeping the oil wealth flowing to this tyrant. These individuals & companies are at some level accomplices. My point is we should be helping Canadians abroad regardless of their reasons for being abroad. Perhaps the lesson from these two crises (& your comment) is I should be travelling abroad with my American Passport and not my Canadian one. Funny, I remember bringing CDN Flag patches for my American cousins to sew on their backpacks.

      • Eric says:

        it is interesting to contrast the reaction to the Lebanon vs Egypt situations. One thing that is rarely brought up is that many of the ex-pat employees are making a huge premium over what they would earn for similar jobs in Canada and many of them are not paying any Canadian income tax on their international earnings.

        Should these people be ‘more deserving’ of being evacuated? IMO the only people who deserve an evacuation are the diplomats and/or soldiers we are working in a government capacity. Anyone else is a private mercenary who is being heftily rewarded for their services and should have saved some of this money in an rainy day (civil war) fund.

        I make these statements having worked in that region for a year a more last decade.

  7. dave says:

    Yes, I noticed that all kinds of oursiders have been tkain g credit for what is happening across North Africa and the Middle East, almost as if the people there are doing what we Westerners claim that we did some time in the past.
    As for interventions, I was thinking of turning it around and suggesting that maybe China and its allies should send in military help for th people of Libya, that Russia should offer to supply air power for a no fly zone, that perhaps the UNO with Brazilian or Indian leadership should send a peace keeping force.
    Sometimes I think that the attitudes about the ‘white man’s burden’ are still very much alive in the West.

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