Month: April 2012

Alberta Election: The Rise of the Moderates

By: James Di Fiore

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For a minute there Alberta was starting to look like a Tea Party caricature. Crazy preachers, vocal white pride and an increasingly loud base of bitter partisans peppered the province, giving the media the impression that a next chapter was about to be written. All the polls were giving Wild Rose leader Danielle Smith an easy victory, sending the 41 year reign of the Progressive Conservatives out to pasture and putting Alberta on a path of fierce ideology.

Then, in a classic example of cooler heads prevailing, the crazy folks lost the election. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, even in Alberta most Canadians are moderates. Insane, I know. But it’s true.

And let’s not quibble over the use of the word “crazy”. Wild Rose supporters are already on the pathological, post-election attack, complaining about the Progressive Conservative fear merchants in a rich example of hypocritical finger-pointing by the most vitriolic ideologues in the country. If you don’t want to be called crazy, you should muzzle your babbling preachers and oblivious Caucasoids who in short order turned this election into a disastrous screen test for a would-be premier. Smith, who is handcuffed to bigots, religious nuts and secessionists, couldn’t muster the courage necessary to be a true leader by admonishing even the most vitriolic supporters. By taking a page out of the Republican Party handbook and not addressing the viruses in her midst, Smith succeeded in infecting her entire campaign. In Canada, you can’t simply wave away the mosquitoes. You need to smack those critters, wipe away the blood and make sure your repellent is strong enough for the next ones. In other words, despite her base and their strong conservative leanings, Smith should have said the following:

“Saying that gay people will die in a lake of fire is absolutely insane and I urge the candidate responsible for those words to step aside immediately.”

Nope, that would show weakness, and according to the people who throw kindling into that lake, weakness is what makes people gay in the first place. Forget about the Alberta firewall spawned by Prime Minister Harper when he was the Reform Party pied piper. That was different. In those days the political acumen was strong enough to recognize that while many Reformers were bigots, showcasing those views would have been disastrous. And now that Albertans have cemented itself into the land of the sane, perhaps rebuilding that firewall on the US border would be more productive. No offense to our American cousins, but they can keep their cartoonish political climate, thank you. We do not need nor can we sustain the views of whack jobs. It just isn’t in our national DNA to collectively deny science, hate homosexuals and praise the communications prowess of white people. In short, we aren’t a nation of ideologues.

And let’s all thank god for that.

Trayvon Martin & George Zimmerman: the new faces of a Polarized State

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By: James Di Fiore

George Zimmerman is now facing 2nd degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. As you read that lead sentence, half of you nodded approvingly while the other half shook their heads. And with that, this has become the most poetic and tragic case in recent memory.

George Zimmerman has also made bail. Cue the opposite, cerebral reactions one more time.

For the pro-Trayvon people, the idea that charges took this long to be laid in the first place is already an abomination, a politically and racially motivated delay of justice for a dead teenager and his grieving family.

For the pro-Zimmerman crowd this is a clear example of knee-jerk reactionary politics, born out of an epidemic need to paint everything as racism.

And for Trayvon and George it is already over, and beginning again. On and on it goes…

As more facts emerge we begin to see the politics from both sides in plain sight. In case you have not yet heard, Zimmerman’s recorded racial slur “fucking coon” has now been digitally enhanced and to some sounds more like “fucking cold”. That slur is one of the linchpins of certainty among the left, the pillar of proof needed to claim this was a case of racial profiling and murder.

George first claimed he was beaten up by Trayvon, shooting him in self defense after his head was bashed on the concrete and his nose was broken. Then came the police video, showing no visible signs of serious injuries, plus no blood on his shirt from the alleged broken nose. Then came the photo, showing Zimmerman with blood trickling off the top and back of his head, making self-defense an obvious justification for lethal force among supporters.

Predictably, each side of this case is being championed by the usual mouthpieces. Those mouthpieces, drenched in their own brand of fierce ideology, give their opponents a mechanism of doubt, citing the inflammatory pasts they commonly share with one another. Al Sharpton. Rush Limbaugh. FOX News. MSNBC. Those personalities and entities have become the combatants long after Trayvon and George crossed paths, tinting the lens a muddier shade than necessary to sort through the facts of the case.

The centerpiece of divide is the controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which allows Floridians who feel threatened to use deadly force against their attackers. The left see this law as a recipe for disaster, handing out arbitrary death sentences to people involved in relative acts of vigilantism. The right see this as a bi-product of being free, protecting oneself from certain harm against violent attackers. The law puts gun rights back in the spotlight as both sides cement themselves in familiar positions, creating yet another layer of polarization and conflict among the most vocal Americans.

Whatever the outcome, and despite any future evidence of guilt or innocence, pre-existing tribal lines have been highlighted and manipulated for ideological purposes. America is weaker because of this divide and the collective inability to debate rationally. If you support Zimmerman, you are a racist. If you do not support Zimmerman, you are reactionary.

And with that, the current state of America is anything but united.