Tuesday, 26 September 2017

I Stand With Kurdistan and Catalonia

Yesterday, the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq held a referendum asking people if the region and adjacent Kurdish territory should become an independent state. On October 1st, people in the Spanish-ruled region of Catalonia will vote in their own referendum on independence. Both the Kurdish and Catalan people face overwhelming odds in their quest for self-determination. In fact, it seems that everyone is dead set against either of these peoples having a country of their own.

The Kurds are being threatened with sanctions and even military force if they attempt to secede from Iraq. Indeed, if the Kurds were to declare independence, they would be surrounded by hostile enemies on all sides. Gee, where have I seen this scenario play out before? Well, 69 years ago, a little country called Israel declared independence. For the first time in two thousand years, the Jewish people had a country to call home. But almost immediately, the neighbouring states attacked the nascent Jewish state, seeking no less than its utter annihilation. The Kurds are basically facing the same almost insurmountable odds that Israel's founders did nearly seven decades ago. Actually, one could argue that the Kurds face even greater odds. Israel ultimately had to fight for its independence and still fights to maintain it to this day, but its establishment had at least been sanctioned by the international community in the form of the United Nations resolution to partition the then British Mandate of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. Moreover, on the eve of declaring independence, Israel received diplomatic recognition from the United States. In contrast, there has never been a resolution at the U.N. calling for the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, at least to the best of my knowledge. And unlike in the case of Israel, the U.S. has come out against Kurdish independence, calling on the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq to cancel the referendum on independence. The only meaningful international support the Kurds have received has been from, guess who? The State of Israel, both officially and unofficially. As a matter of fact, leaders in countries neighbouring the KRG have recently referred to an independent Kurdistan as a "second Israel" (see: Turkey warns Kurds 'Israeli flags won't save you'). In a way, I think they're right, because the rise of an independent Kurdistan would effectively be the second instance in history in which an indigenous people in the Middle East throws off the chains of their Arab, Islamist conquerors and takes back what is rightfully theirs.

Meanwhile in Europe, the Catalans are hoping to achieve their right to self-determination. Fortunately, the Catalans don't face the threat of military force like the Kurds, though it doesn't mean that they don't face consequences for their efforts. Indeed, pro-independence leaders in Catalonia have been threatened with criminal prosecution for trying to bring the independence referendum to fruition, and the Spanish government is doing everything it can to disrupt the vote and prevent it from taking place. But as with the Kurds, the Catalans have very little support from abroad. No country in Europe wants an independent Catalonia, because it could bolster support for an independent Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Brittany, Corsica, etc.

I find the lack of international support for the independence of Kurdistan and Catalonia distressing, not to mention the lack of support for other peoples deserving of independence, like the Tibetans or the West Papuans. Right now, it seems that the only people the international community has deemed worthy of self-determination are the Palestinian people. It should be no surprise, then, that more international attention is paid to the aspirations of the Palestinians than to anyone else seeking self-determination, even if those aspirations include the destruction of another people's state, namely the Jewish people's State of Israel. The drive to annihilate another state is actually unique to the Palestinian national movement, because no other credible movement for self-determination calls for the destruction of another people's country. The Kurds do not call for the destruction of Iraq or any other country in which large Kurdish populations reside. The Catalans do not call for the destruction of Spain. The Tibetans are not intent on eliminating China as a country, nor do the people of West Papua seek the annihilation of Indonesia. And yet, it is the Palestinian movement, the only movement that promotes the extinction of another people's independence, that gets all the love and respect of the international community. I don't know about you, but I see something seriously wrong with this picture.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Hands Off Our Dope!

Today, I have yet another reason to hate Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her government. They just announced their plan to regulate marijuana once their federal cousins legalize it. They plan to make it so that no one other than a soon-to-be created subsidiary of the LCBO will be able to sell and distribute marijuana products. I knew this was coming and I'm sure a lot of other people did, too. It shouldn't be a surprise. Wynne's government is a power-hungry, nanny state-loving cabal that will stop at nothing to control the lives of Ontarians as if we were children. It's bad enough there's a government monopoly on booze. Now there will be one on our dope.

Actually, to tell you the truth, I don't use marijuana. I never have, so the new regulations won't affect me personally. But they will affect many Ontarians who use the drug for recreational or medicinal purposes and who will soon have to rely on a government monopoly that will likely sell them an overpriced and poor quality product. To top it all off, the Wynne government has also announced an impending crackdown on currently-existing marijuana dispensaries. But of course! They want to make sure that no one stands in their way of reaping all the profits to be had from the sale of the popular green leaf. When all is said and done, it will probably be harder to get your hands on some high-quality marijuana when it finally becomes legal. How ironic and stupid is that?

In my humble and honest opinion, monopolizing the sale and distribution of marijuana is an attack on our freedom - the freedom that is supposed to come with the legalization of the substance. So I'm calling on those of you who love freedom and oppose this latest attempt by the Wynne government to control our lives to fight back. Support your local marijuana dispensaries. Don't let Wynne's henchmen close them down. Hell, barricade them if you want to. Fight for your right to freely buy and sell marijuana and tell Wynne and her government to keep their hands off our dope!