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Witchcraft and bestiality at Gitmo

MEMRI does the Lord’s work by uncovering incredible new evidence of war crimes at the monstrous and illegal Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  In an interview with Al-Jazeera (Qatar), a former inmate makes some preposterous astounding claims: namely that Jews used witchcraft on prisoners, and nearly caused him to be sodomised by a cat.  The interviewer asks “But there wasn’t really a cat there?” to which the former inmate replies “Absolutely not.”

Which begs the question of how one can identify a cat as the perpetrator if it can’t be seen or heard.  Prior experience, perhaps.

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Avoiding history

One of the reasons I enjoy learning about human history is that the past often presents analogues to current-day situations, and someone who knows history will know what choices and alternatives have been explored already—to positive or negative effect.  Those who operate without that benefit would be at risk of repeating history’s lessons.  There is a certain strain of thought in the Canadian body politic that likes to imagine the past not as it actually was, but as one might have wished it to be through the lens of current opinion.

In giving way to such tendencies we partake in what Jean-François Lyotard called “memorial-forgetful history”; this is the construction of a historical narrative which distorts the story of the past into its own present image, conveniently forgetting all that might be contradictory.  I’m a little disappointed that Craig and Mark Kielburger—men who have earned one of the country’s highest honours for merit, the Order of Canada—seem to engage in this practice.  Writing in the National Post‘s Full Comment blog, Mr. Matt Gurney takes the Toronto Star‘s Kielberger brothers to task for having a particularly narrow view of Canadian history.

There’s a lot to pick apart in their column, but let’s start where they did. Here’s their intro:

Last month, archaeologists unearthed a street lined with sphinxes in the Egyptian city of Luxor. We have to wonder if they found any remnants of Canada’s once-strong record on foreign policy down there.

Maybe that’s a little harsh. Nonetheless, Canada’s prominence on the international stage started back in 1956 when Lester B. Pearson launched the world’s first peacekeeping mission during the Suez Crisis.

… the contention that Canada sprang into being the moment Mr. Pearson accepted his Peace Prize, while much beloved of starry eyed progressives, kind of skips over a few chapters of Canadian history. History isn’t for everyone, of course, so while I might not expect them to know much about the Reciprocity Treaty, it’s not unfair to expect to them to know that there were two really big wars — world wars, very much on the “international stage” — that Canada played a major, disproportionately large role in. Right?

— Gurney, Matt. “Would it be wrong for the Kielburgers to learn some history?National Post, 15 December 2010.

Mr. Gurney’s snark-meter is turned up a little, but it is worth reading for the impressive list of achievements in Canadian arms and influence.  There’s a lot of history that is poorly taught, dimly understood, or willfully ignored because it is contradictory to the prevailing political or popular winds.  In Canada it is generally our martial history which tends to get papered-over, in our vain rush to convince the world (and ourselves) that we were born a post-modern nation, free of the bloodshed, strife and sins of the Old World.  The danger in intentionally forgetting our past—even the unpleasant bits—is that at some point, a future generation will be forced to relive it—but without any benefit of hindsight, since we will have struck any potential lessons from their collective memory.

RELATED: Another little-known episode in our military history, Canada’s occupation of Iceland.

Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Z-Force occupation patch, from the collection of Hinrik Steinsson.

CBC Radio, 1943-44

Canadian war correspondents in a jeep, Modica, Italy, 13 July 1943. (L-R): Peter Stursberg, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Ross Munro, Canadian Press; Captain Dave MacLellan, Public Relations Officer; Lieutenant Al Fraser, Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit. (Capt. Frank Royal / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-204808)

Matthew 'Matt' Halton, CBC war correspondent making a recording in Sicily on 20 August 1943. (CBC/Library and Archives Canada)

Engineer Paul Johnston of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation setting up equipment to record a broadcast by CBC correspondent Matthew Halton, Catangora, Italy, 14 September 1943. (Capt. Frank Royal / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-206169)

War correspondent Peter Stursberg of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recording a radio broadcast, Potenza, Italy, 22 September 1943. (Capt. Frank Royal / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-145343)

War correspondent Benoit Lafleur of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation near San Vito Chietino, Italy, 8 April 1944. (Sgt. J. Ernest DeGuire / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-197554)

A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter interviewing two parachute-qualified officers, one from the Royal 22e Régiment, who are part of the First Rotation Leave, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 8 December 1944. (Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-213625)

Category: Historica, Media  Tags: ,  One Comment

Stunt casting

‘I am Canadian’ pitchman joins As It Happens.

I gave up on CBC Radio right around the time my twenties disappeared into the rear-view mirror. A decade and a half ago CBC’s radio services were much more interesting and thoughtful than they have become in recent times.

But I have to wonder, on behalf of everyone who still tries to practice honest-to-God journalism at the Mother Corp, did they run out of actual radio journalists sometime in the past year? Joe Canadian (of the worst beer money can buy) is the best you could do?

Programmatic diversity

I have no idea how Discovery’s Military Channel manages to retain viewers in large enough numbers to continue justifying their broadcast license. Every time I tune in, they seem to have programmed a show I’ve already seen—and what’s worse, they program similar items together in a block. Here’s a chunk of today’s lineup:

7:00 am — X-Carriers (60min, TV-PG, CC)

From super-computer design facilities to liquid-metal cooled, nuclear propulsion systems, the top secret future of the U.S. Navy’s most dangerous weapons are revealed.

8:00 am — Mega-Carrier, Episode 1 (60min, TV-G, CC)

Over 18,000 men and women have been brought together to build the world’s most technologically sophisticated aircraft carrier: The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. From initial construction, to its first day at sea, follow the story of its builders.

9:00 am — Toughest Carrier Jobs (60min, TV-PG, CC)

The Toughest Carrier Jobs highlights the skill, training and commitment of the men and women who have the honor of working on what is essentially a floating city: A U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier, which is full of amazingly difficult jobs.

10:00 am — Carrier – Fortress at Sea (60min, TV-G, CC)

Life aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is thrilling, tedious, demanding and dangerous all at the same time. En route from San Francisco to the Persian Gulf, the crew’s extraordinary adventure unfolds.

11:00 am — Mega-Carrier, Episode 1 (60min, TV-G, CC)

Over 18,000 men and women have been brought together to build the world’s most technologically sophisticated aircraft carrier: The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush. From initial construction, to its first day at sea, follow the story of its builders.

12:00 pm — Sinking of an Aircraft Carrier (60min, TV-PG, CC)

Nearly a quarter of a ton of explosives are set to sink the Oriskany Aircraft Carrier during the world’s largest non-military exercise to sink a ship. Bad weather, flooding, short tempers, and grueling labor conditions threaten to halt the project.

1:00 pm — Extreme Machines – Carriers (60min, TV-G, CC)

Footage of the Navy’s huge floating fortress, the John C. Stennis, demonstrates the sophistication and complexity of today’s carriers.

2:00 pm — A Supercarrier is Burning: The U.S.S. Enterprise (60min, TV-G, CC)

A fire aboard a supercarrier detonates the ship’s weapons. The harrowing minutes that follow are packed with terror, heroism, sacrifice and courage. There are 18 detonations, 15 aircraft destroyed, 17 damaged, 28 dead and 343 wounded.

3:00 pm — City of Steel: Carrier (60min, TV-PG, CC)

The construction of the new aircraft carrier, the Reagan, vividly illustrates the remarkable scale of these floating cities and the weapons onboard. A new carrier, the Truman, is put through its paces on its maiden outing.

I like aircraft carriers as much as the next guy, but holy mackerel, that’s nine solid hours of carrier junk. Four hours devoted to carrier design and construction, three to day-to-day operations.

Enough is enough, fellas. Every single one of these shows has been aired a half-dozen times already, and they are not what we would call current. Some still feature the F-14 Tomcat, a fighter that was retired from USN service four years ago.

I seriously wonder how the channel manages to retain viewership.

Sometimes it’s better not to look

Paul Wells provides valuable insight into how General McChrystal got burned—and how, given that reporter’s prior history, COMISAF should have seen it coming.  Unfortunately it will also tend to reinforce lousy opinions about the media for those of us with a cynic’s view.

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Take up our quarrel with the foe

The Company regrets to note the closure of Canada’s foremost milblog, The Torch.

In the Canadian media hothouse—and its even more stultifying coverage of military matters—you tend to hear from the same four or five voices all the time. Veteran journalists who have spent decades building a particular spin and brand; spokesmen for “non-partisan” institutes whose entire raison d’être is campaigning for the reduction of Canadian military spending; and my personal favorite (in the years before Lewis Mackenzie and Rick Hillier rose to prominence) the administrative and logistics colonels our national broadcasters would chuck onto our television screens in times of crisis, billing the rear echelon types as tactical and operational experts.

The Torch was a much-needed antidote to all of that, and was the most interesting and well-rounded of all Canadian military blogs.  In their honour, the Company is pleased to present “The Black Bear”—the traditional march out/return to barracks tune of many Scottish regiments.  This version (embedding disabled, sorry) is a massed band variant from the 2007 Québec City Military Tattoo.

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