The so-called Appeal of Conscience Foundation has ruined any small shred of credibility that it had (not that it ever had much) by giving a statesman award to a man like Stephen Harper. Besides the fact that one would have to be in a coma to ever imagine Harper as a "statesman" of any kind, standing on the podium with him on the reception of the award was none other than international war criminal Henry Kissinger. Now, just imagine it from an objective observers point of view. This foundation is giving awards for statesmanship with a guy who is wanted in several countries for crimes against humanity. And coming in a week when Stephen Harper seemed to go out of his way to demonstrate that he is not a statesman (given his actions and remarks regarding the UN), and the entire event takes on a tragicomic appearance.
The whole affair both demonstrates and belies the old adage that the victor writes history. One the one hand, Kissenger and the Americans actually lost the war in Vietnam and yet Kissenger (who should be in prison) is still treated as a statesman by many people and organizations all over the world. If the victor really wrote history Mr. Kissenger would a figure of shame and derision. On the other hand, Western rightwing, neo-conservative capitalism still has something of strangle-hold on prevailing ideology and so it is entirely fitting that Harper is still presented as a "statesman" rather than the anti-democratic activist that he really is.
The one-sided, ideological attitudes continually presented in our media concerning such things was brought home this week as I watched some commentator (whose name now escapes me) on CBC talking about the speech given by Iranian president Ahmadinejad this week at the UN. The commentator talked about Ahmadinejad in the most abusive terms imaginable, calling him a megalomanic, psychopathic, suggesting that he had a narcissistic personality disorder, and even suggesting (in contradiction to many of his other claims) that Mr. Ahmadinejad was motivated in many of his actions not by politics but by a need to be famous and have his face in the news. Now many of the things said concerning Ahmadinejad may, in fact, be true, and he certainly is not what most of us would call a "humanitarian." However, what struck me was the casual, off-hand manner with which these charges were levelled at the president of Iran. The commentator said these things as though they were self-evident and that everyone simply accepted them on face value. Furthermore, these charges were made in a way that a priori delegitimized any and all of Ahmadinejad's political viewpoints; as though it is simply "insane" to oppose Israel or US neo-colonialism. And when the commentator called Ahmadinejad a narcissist Kathleen Petty smiled in agreement without any thought of doing her job and actually questioning the blatant ideological bias of her interviewee.
Even if the "victor" doesn't always write history, the prevailing ideology always prevails. I think a serious argument can be made that Stephen Harper is, in fact, mentally ill and suffers from a distinctly narcissistic personality disorder. I believe that one can make an informed and cogent argument that Israel's existence is a dubious historical event, let alone its continual expansionism and blatant abuse of millions of Palestinians. And Harper's blind support of Israel derives from nothing more than a quasi-insane religious fervor known as dispensationalism. I think Harper is an intensely dangerous man who is destroying the constitution and democracy of a nation, and is no less evil than Ahmadinejad. (In a different political context it is hopelessly naive to believe that Harper would be any less fanatical and dangerous than his Iranian counterpart.) But while Harper receives awards for statesmanship from a war criminal, our self-satisfied media pundits belittle anyone who is not a blind adherent to a capitalistic fervor that is systematically destroying civilization. Yet can you imagine anyone saying these things on major news forums such as the CBC, let alone saying unchallenged?
But it seems that history seldom changes. While Jefferson and his democratic allies opposed the Federalists for their tyrannical (read British) tendencies, they also kept slaves.
So it goes.