All posts filed under: Society

The Trouble With Proud Boys

Gavin McInnes looks like someone you’d see at an avant-garde art exhibit, or discussing Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy over a craft beer…at a Father John Misty concert. That’s according to conventional reasoning. In reality, McInnes is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Or more jcisely, an abrasively parochial nationalist in prototypical hipster attire — certainly not a combination you see every day. As the impresario of the belligerent Proud Boys group, McInnes is a self-proclaimed “Western chauvinist” who “refuses to apologize for creating the modern world”. He denies any harbouring of misogynistic or racist sentiments, and espouses an ideology teeming with contradictions. In fairness, the Proud Boys, a quasi-cultish consortium possessing excess levels of testosterone, doesn’t disavow members from visible minorities. McInnes rightfully points out, on numerous occasions, unfounded journalistic conclusions categorizing the group as neo-Nazi in design. Despite that, it’s his rigid conception of Western identity, and its alleged superiority, that imply the more malignant underpinnings. Just because he’s not a proponent of eugenics doesn’t exonerate him from latent, crude prejudice. After all, McInnes slams the …

Why Donald Trump is Poised to Throw Billions of Dollars Away

  In fairness, we were warned. “On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall”. The rhetorical pledge captured a pivotal moment in time, and President Donald Trump hasn’t yet abdicated that assurance. The initial comment – which appeared to be a hyperbolized metaphor pulled from the recesses of the 45th President’s wildest fancies – has transformed into an imposing beacon of hope for his base, and a crude manifestation of exclusionary populism for others. On top of that, leveraging DACA extensions to suborn bilateral support for construction is, quite frankly, concerning. Moral outcry aside, the wall needs to be viewed in the context of what it purports to address: illegal immigration. It is arguably the cornerstone of Trump’s agenda, image, and appeal. As such, it’s worth seriously considering whether the construction of a wall is the most cost-effective way of addressing the issue, as well as exploring the current tenor of illegal immigration. To end the suspense, it’s far from a panacea – instead, serving to compound …

Meet Harrison Lee: A Voice Not To Be Drowned

Today’s political and cultural landscape is one of intimidation and censorship, both explicit and implicit. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that the field of academia is overwhelmingly reflective of one particular stream of thinking. It’s pretty much groupthink. While that stream of thinking is present if not ubiquitous among the student population, many actively disagree. Discovering one’s own values and principles requires the act of seeking knowledge, and that cannot be done without the freedom of speech and expression. In high school classrooms all across America, education is shaping up to be a tool for indoctrination and propaganda, a consequence from almost a century of plunder and deceit. As William F. Buckley Jr. wrote in God and Man at Yale, “a free association, within a free society, shaping an educational institution toward its own purpose, is practicing a freedom which totalitarian societies would never permit to do.” Pointing out an obvious bias on campuses in North America, Buckley warned of a present and existential threat towards one’s right of free expression and …

The Bitter Pill of Syria: From Militant Optimism to Desperate Compromise

As hard as it is to believe now, barely six months ago it appeared that the Damascus-based regime of Bashar Al-Assad was on its last legs. Pressed by both Western-backed moderate rebels and ISIS alike on a front ranging from Idlib in the north and Homs in the east, and with his own forces disintegrating under an increasing number of both defections and desertions, the main question seemed to be whether Assad would even be able to hold on to his western Syrian, Alawite coastal strongholds and the capital city itself, or if even those pillars of loyalty to the regime were now in danger. The days of the House of Assad as the rulers of Syria appeared to be numbered.   Well, that was then and this is now. President Putin, determined to rescue his puppet and Russia’s sole naval base in the Mediterranean, choose to directly insert himself into the conflict under the guise of fighting ISIS, but in reality directing the bulk of his fire upon opposition rebel forces. Buoyed by the …

Winning Back the Land: Indigenous Peoples and International Law

By: Claudia Dessanti The relationship that indigenous peoples’ have with their land goes far beyond its monetary and productive value. Land is both a fundamental aspect of the their identity and a necessary means for their cultural and physical survival.  Since the 1970s, the transnational indigenous movement has pushed for greater recognition of their rights on international fora. Gradually, their efforts have produced treaties, UN bodies, and a series of domestic constitutional reforms. Not surprisingly, obtaining the right to access traditional lands forms an integral part of this struggle. The indigenous right to collective land ownership is affirmed by the two main international legal instruments on indigenous peoples’ rights: the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Convention No. 169 (C169), and the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Access to traditional lands has become widely recognized as a fundamental indigenous right. Historically, these lands were taken from indigenous peoples around the world using a combination of force, threats, and deceit. In theory, states agree that what sets these communities apart from other minorities under international law is their special privileges, including land rights, that result from this history. …

New Policies, Same Old Communism: Cuba – Pt. III

  By: Tannishtha Pramanick Since the time of Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba, after overthrowing the corporate-minded and corrupt Fulgencio Batista in 1959, the country has seldom been on positive terms with the United States. Castro’s Marxist-Leninist policies were not to the taste of the United States, and rightfully so. In theory, Castro looked to promote a higher standard of living for Cubans, as well as liberation from the consequences of the wealth-gap that had originated under the power of the sugar plantations and corrupt businessmen. In practice, these policies only served to deteriorate Cuba’s economic conditions, leading to a decline in the quality of life of most Cubans. Despite Castro’s regime operating under communist policies, the United States did, initially, recognize the nation and its government. As time wore on, Castro increased trade with the Soviet Union, as well as nationalized businesses, mainly American-held ones, and increased tariffs on US imports. In retaliation, the United States began a series of economic sanctions, each one more severe than the last. The process began …

Colombia: The Quest for Peace

  By: Adriana Baiz   Colombia’s armed conflict is among the oldest in contemporary history. Characterized as one of the most serious cases of internal human displacement in the Americas, it has involved an extensive use of violence on behalf of its belligerents – mainly the government, guerrillas, and paramilitary groups. Colombia’s conflict has attracted scholars from across the world who seek to find the political, judicial, and military balance needed to end the situation. This obscure quest for peace has pushed the Colombian state to attempt a wide spectrum of strategies, from military tactics to actual negotiations with the armed groups, to an interesting effort to implement transitional justice (as used by South Africa, Chile, and Argentina in the past). On their behalf, civil society has also begun to take bottom-up action to fight for the rights of victims and demand an end to the situation. Recognizing the contentious nature of this conflict is crucial for understanding why Colombia seems far from achieving a successful transition into peace. Many argue that the root of …

New Policies, Same Old Communism: Cuba – Pt. II

  By: Tannishtha Pramanick Since the time of Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba, after overthrowing the corporate-minded and corrupt Fulgencio Batista in 1959, the country has seldom been on positive terms with the United States. Castro’s Marxist-Leninist policies were not to the taste of the United States, and rightfully so. In theory, Castro looked to promote a higher standard of living for Cubans, as well as liberation from the consequences of the wealth-gap that had originated under the power of the sugar plantations and corrupt businessmen. In practice, these policies only served to deteriorate Cuba’s economic conditions, leading to a decline in the quality of life of most Cubans. Despite Castro’s regime operating under communist policies, the United States did, initially, recognize the nation and its government. As time wore on, Castro started increasing trade with the Soviet Union, as well as nationalizing businesses, mainly American-held ones, and increased tariffs on US imports. In retaliation, the United States began a series of economic sanctions, each one more severe than the last. The process …

Sweet Molly Malone: Ireland’s Accidental Legalisation of Ecstasy and a Whole Host of Other Class A Drugs.

By Ultan Gannon Ireland has long had a reputation internationally as a nation of drinkers, with half the world celebrating the Irish national holiday by painting their city’s street green with vomit. The reputation is well earned with the country coming top five in the World Health Organization’s drinking ranking, despite being beaten to the top spot by those beer loving Germans (but as you say in Toronto, “there is always next season”). What many outside the Emerald Isle might not realise is that modern Ireland’s famous forty shades of green are as likely to be found in zip-locked bags of weed as in fields of grass with the average Irish person now smoking more marijuana than the stereotypically dope loving Dutch according to the UN’s 2011 drugs report. In the last EU elections the small rural, formerly extremely conservative and staunchly Catholic country even elected a pro-cannabis legalisation campaigner by the name of Luke “Ming” Flanagan to represent them. A man who gained his nickname by running his first campaign for the national parliament dressed …

New Policies, Same Old Communism: Cuba – Pt. I

  By: Tannishtha Pramanick Since the time of Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba, after overthrowing the corporate-minded and corrupt Fulgencio Batista in 1959, the country has seldom been on positive terms with the United States. Castro’s Marxist-Leninist policies were not to the taste of the United States, and rightfully so. In theory, Castro looked to promote a higher standard of living for Cubans, as well as liberation from the consequences of the wealth-gap that had originated under the power of the sugar plantations and corrupt businessmen. In practice, these policies only served to deteriorate Cuba’s economic conditions, leading to a decline in the quality of life of most Cubans. Despite Castro’s regime operating under communist policies, the United States did, initially, recognize the nation and its government. As time wore on, Castro started increasing trade with the Soviet Union, as well as nationalizing businesses, mainly American-held ones, and increased tariffs on US imports. In retaliation, the United States began a series of economic sanctions, each one more severe than the last. The process …