Friday, January 11, 2013

The Media Assault on Idle No More

There was an incredibly revealing moment today. A moment that summed up the way many in the MSM have been going after Chief Spence and the Idle No More movement.

And like it has been all along, it was both banal and brutal.

Shawn Atleo, the AFN chief, had just finished addressing reporters in the National Press Theatre. He had talked about the preparations for the critical meeting with Stephen Harper. He had talked about what was at stake, and what his suffering people were hoping to accomplish.

But when he asked reporters for their questions this is the first one he received. 

The first issue raised then was the case of a journalist who had been ordered to leave the Attawapiskat reserve earlier this week. Did Mr. Atleo consider that “appropriate?”

Can you believe that? As if the story of a reporter asked to leave a reserve was more important than the incredible story of the native struggle for justice that is rocking this country to its foundations.

It couldn't be more condescending, or more colonial, or more grotesque. But what followed from Shawn Atleo was magnificent.

“Is it appropriate that First Nations rank around 67th on the UN human development index when Canada ranks in the top seven? Is it appropriate that when Amnesty International released a report that said that there’s a grave human rights crisis amongst First Nations in Canada … is that appropriate? In 2011, when Sheila Fraser said that after 10 years of audits and over 30 audits specifically on Indian and Northern Affairs, that conditions were getting worse, is that appropriate?”

“This is what our people are saying. That poverty is killing our people. That the history of colonalization and unilateral action on the part of governments will stop now...We said we would be at a tipping point with the growth of our population exploding, over half under the age of 25. That tipping point is now.

Because of course that's the real story, and Atleo had every right to be angry at the way the Con media has somehow managed to turn their mediocre coverage of the native struggle into an all out assault on Chief Theresa Spence.

I've written about their disgusting bullying behaviour before, how unfair it is, and how it is fuelling a racist backlash.

But still old hacks like Andrew Coyne, just can't stop attacking her. 

To be clear, whether Spence attends the meeting is of no importance whatever. A flair for self-promotion and the credulousness of the Canadian media may have landed her on the front pages for a few weeks; she may imagine herself, as such, to be in a position to dictate terms to the Queen, the Governor General and the Prime Minister, not to mention her fellow chiefs (who were instructed not to attend in her absence). 

But the mundane reality, with the continuing revelations of just how thoroughly she has mismanaged her tiny hamlet, is that her career in the race hustling business is very nearly at an end. No one person has done more to damage the native cause with the general public, and no native leader who hopes to enlist the public’s support will want to have much to do with her.

As if a pompous ass like him, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, had the moral authority to dismiss a woman from one of the poorest communities in Canada. As if she was a maid. As if the native struggle for justice depended on the goodwill of other Canadians.

When she's putting her life on the line for her people.

She was the one who forced Stephen Harper to agree to a special meeting.

And as Dr Dawg so excellently puts it, she may be an ordinary woman, but her actions have made her extraordinary.  

By her actions she affirms that every one of us, whatever our personal shortcomings, has the capacity of spirit to stand up for what is right, regardless of personal risk. She has, by example, allowed us all to hope. For that reason alone we should freely give her the tremendous credit she is due, and put to shame her cynical detractors.

For in a country where aboriginal people live on average 20 years less than the rest of  us her protest has moved many to ask themselves some hard questions.

Like how long we can live in a country where the dreams of so many aboriginal kids  are doomed to be shattered?

Or their poverty scarred lives doomed to be short ones.

So what can you say about those in the media who knowing all that would still blame the victims? Or focus on the accounting errors of a tiny impoverished community, or smear its humble chief, or feed the disgusting bigots who are spewing filth all over the place. 

Instead of looking at the big picture, and blaming Stephen Harper for triggering this crisis with his reckless, irresponsible, and anti-democratic behaviour. Harper the bully, the fanatic, the tool of Big Oil, the destroyer of nations. 

What can you say about those who would treat the poorest Canadians with contempt? Or accuse them of being crooks. While kissing the ass of the most crooked regime in Canadian history.

Except shame on them, how small they are, how cheap and how grubby.

Here's to Chief Spence, an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things.

Here's to all the aboriginal kids whose dreams must not be shattered. 

The tipping point is now.

Stephen Harper and his foul Con regime must be brought to their senses, or brought to their knees.

Idle no more...

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  1. Shawn Atleo's statement was brilliant and if this doesn't resonate with the citizenry of this country, we are truly a shameful bunch. I had the displeasure of watching global's coverage of this issue this week and the poor "journalist" wasn't allowed into the community, poor thing. Not a second of coverage asking the tough questions of our crime minister of why he orchestrated yet another national disgrace against first nations. Why isn't the question asked that he can spend millions in taxpayers money creating "free trade" agreements but can't address our most important domestic issue.

    1. hi bcwaterboy...yes Atleo's reply was brilliant. He really gave it to that pathetic reporter, and everything he said was so true. As you know I don't usually go around blaming the MSM for everything, but their coverage of this story has been simply outrageous, and totally unforgivable. And yes, it is time to ask if we can spend billions on the military, how come we can't protect aboriginal kids, and make the lives of all our marvellous First Nations better? It's a matter of priorities and it's time we got ours in order. Which of course means getting rid of the Harper Cons, because nothing can be done as long as they are in power...

  2. I was following some MSM journalists on twitter yesterday, who were covering Atleo's press conference. Every single one of them were in high dudgeon over his response, accusing him of not answering the question. Much hand wringing indeed.

    1. hi double nickel...I've seen some of that twitter stuff and it really is appalling. They seem to think that they are some kind of little club, and sneer at idealism and at the way our aboriginal people express their culture. When they're not going after Chief Spence like a pack of rabid animals. It has been a sordid spectacle, they have shamed themselves beyond repair, and we will remember...

  3. Hi Simon Some Chiefs expressed their frustration that the media was sneering at them and of course they are justified in that belief for it is in fact the case. Lets hope our partners, the first nations peoples will have the last laugh.

    1. hi Kev...the chiefs are right, that's exactly what the media has been doing. I can barely watch even the CBC coverage, for it suffers from the same kind of Parliamentary Press Gallery group think. But as I just told Double Nickel they are only shaming themselves, and we will make sure to hold it against them...

  4. Anonymous11:10 AM

    Simon, it seems that the Rupert Murdoch school of journalistic brutality is alive and well in Canada..because the media really does believe that it is the's not about the facts, just all about the precious, precious media and their 'rights'....
    Now that things are in motion, just watch the media turn on itself and talk about how the authorities were indifferent to the 'media's' efforts to 'expose' the injustices..sound familiar? All of this is exactly what happened during the missing women from the Downtown went from smirky racism initially to the 'media' patting itself on the back for their 'coverage' much for a free press....
    These days, the only real disinterested media seems to be those of us who aren't focused on getting the big bucks from corporate ownership..but only the truth.

    1. hi lefty...yes the Murdoch school is alive and well, particularly at the National Post and the Sun who seem to be competing to see who can be more crudely anti-native. No doubt in the pay wall era it's all about attracting a certain demographic. I only hope that decent Canadians will teach them a lesson by refusing to subscribe to their tainted products. Because that's the best way to teach them that bigotry doesn't pay...

  5. I sat up straight at that first question to Atleo... and I saw the flash of incredulity on his face... what an awesome comeback, he didn't attack but he sure put that questioner in his place...
    great blog you have, thanks

    1. hi Jan.... I had the same reaction, and I must say I have to compliment Atleo for being so polite, because if I was in his place I wouldn't have been. ;)
      But it was a magnificent response, and it summed up the situation so well. If anyone wasn't moved by that they must be considerably less than human...

  6. Could you imagine British PM Cameron, the leader of a nation, who's economic mismanagement is and will forever be legendary, being disprespected in the way that Harper and the MSM disrespect the leaders of Aboriginal nations?. When the leader of bankrupt Spain, comes to Canada seeking understanding, should we expect an audit of his country, splashed across the front pages of the newsnetworks, in lower than derogatory, slanderous terms, and with no more than the intent of humiliating our guest, in the eyes of the Canadian public. Bigotry and racism are huge problems, at the best of times in this country. Unfortunately things don't appear to be getting any better, especially, if we keep placing some of the most vile of them, in the seats of our Parliament. And worst still, into the seats of national leadership.

    Great post, as always MS

    1. hi of course I can't imagine the Harper government being so disrespectful towards the leaders of other nations. But of course that's the problem isn't it. Because so many Canadians don't have a clue what kind of country we live in, they don't understand that we are a country of nations, they don't know their own history, the Harperites are able to get away with turning us into a cardboard cutout and appealing to the worst instincts of the mob.
      But that's OK, you can only deny reality for so long. It's catching up with them now, and hopefully it will eventually defeat them...

  7. Andrew Coyne is a gigantic right wing blowhard, as are so many of today's media hacks. So many douchebags, so little time. Fuck off Andrew Coyne. Although he is one of the worst, I wonder if half of them even graduated from high school because of the abundance of sheer ignorance in the otherwise empty noggins of these TV bobbleheads and hack writers. Oh, and vain? These reporters think they are the most important people on earth, telling us 'facts' we 'need to know.' What BULLSHIT. All they care about is exploitation for ratings sake.

    I was actually THROWN OUT of journalism school many many years ago when the dickweed heading the program literally demanded a piece be headlined 'Christmas tragedy' where a family was horrifically and sadly killed in a house fire. I said, 'I am not writing or saying that, you fuckin vulture; it's a tragedy ANYTIME something like this happens, not just at Christmas. Where's your sense of fucking DIGNITY?' Nonetheless this confrontation escalated and a fistfight ensued, and I was expelled. HAPPILY. Ever since I've been disgusted by the media and in these days of CON media, it is only WORSE.

    And you have hit the nail on the head here, in this case, concerning First Nations. The media more often than not fans the flames of intolerance, hatred and misunderstanding. And the further right the media outlet, the higher and hotter the flames.

    Atleo's response was undeniably marvelous. You would think it would resonate across the land. Although I don't think half the so-called journalists even paid attention to it, or understand the issue fully enough, to even care.

    1. hi wazz...thanks for that story about what happened to you at journalism school. Judging from what I see these days I would consider that a badge of honour. For even the standards at the CBC have slipped dramatically. They cover some of the stupidest stories, and ignore some of the most important ones. I can't even watch their news channel for long because it's like a variety show, with some of the stupidest anchors I have ever seen blabbing away about nothing. I'm willing to forgive almost everything, for we live in an idiot age. But failing to cover the First Nations story properly is simply unforgivable...

  8. Anonymous1:32 PM

    The media are propaganda machines for the government. I canceled all my newspapers long ago. There is no such thing as, good honest journalism and reporting in Canada anymore. The media are a disgrace to their professions. Most of the time, I am actually embarrassed for them. Hoping other country's don't see and hear their shameful bias.

    Harper is a monster. His personality is very little different, than past evil Dictators personalities. Harper is very little different, than Dictatorship third world leaders are today.

    There is a very good article from a Doctor, who attended F.N. people's health since 1967. The F.N. People plight is no different that the said, third world country's people are. Harper idolizes Communist China's citizens Human Rights because, they don't have any.

    Most Canadians don't see, Chief Spence is speaking for all we 99%. Harper is destroying our Democracy. Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken from us. Our Freedom of Speech is under attack. Our Human Rights are being eroded.

    I say. Harper is a Traitor to our country. Harper's omnibull bill, gives himself permission to pollute waterways, fish and F.N. hunting grounds. Harper can in fact, destroy all provinces eco-systems. Harper is handing Communist China our country, on a silver platter. Harper's omnibull bill, gives Red China the right to sue, any Canadians getting in China's way. China sued in BC, to take the mining jobs. If F.N. block the Enbridge pipeline, China will sue them. However, we are supporting the F.N. in BC. Lawsuits and all. BC's judicial system, has been under question since, Gordon Campbell's reign of terror.

    Not one damned word has ever been mentioned, by Harper nor the BC Liberals. The F.N. food sources under threat, by Harper's insane Enbridge pipeline and the massive dirty tankers in BC's ocean. There have been multiple earthquakes in BC. The stupidity of stringing a pipeline across BC, is totally braid dead.

    In BC we know all about the media? That is for damned sure.

    1. hi anonymous... I also plan to stop reading most of our hapless MSM as soon as all the pay walls go up. For I'm willing to sacrifice to pay for Canadian journalism, but not that kind of trash. And as I said above that's the best way to teach them a lesson...

  9. Anonymous12:01 AM

    Simon, I noticed you are linking to Terry Glavin. What do you think of his latest post on INM?

    BTW your post is great, Glavin's not so much...

    1. hi anonymous...Terry Glavin's name has been on my blogroll from about six years ago, when we agreed on some things, and I thought he had something to contribute from the old left corner. But sadly over the years he has become more and more bitter, he hates popular movements, doesn't understand that all change begins like that, in a frenzy of formless agitation, and as for the article you linked to all I can say is that it's better than the one he wrote a few days ago, which was absolutely appalling. When he dismissed what Chief Spence is doing in a very brutal manner. Still he does know a lot about native issues, he does have many good qualities, and I'm still fond of him. But he is in great danger of becoming just another bitter, cynical, grumpy old man. And goodness knows there are a lot of them...

  10. e.a.f.12:56 AM

    Chief Spence is extrodinary! She is alive & well after having survived being a First Nations Person in Canada.

    Coyne & the rest of his ilk do not seem to understand that extrodinary things are done by ordinary people every day. When Smokie Smith won his medals in WW II was he an extrodinary person? Yes, when he did what he did. Up until then he was just an ordinary person. When people take incredible risks to save others are they extrodinary people or ordinary people who have done something extrodinary.

    You don't see many celbs., politicians, multi milionares, billionaires risking their lives for others. So the press who thinks "only extrodinary people" do extrodinary things, they have it very wrong. It is ordinary people who do extordinary things which change the world.

    People like Coyne want "leaders" to have a PHd., dress like a model out of Vogue, look like a glamour queen, & have piles of money. They do not have a firm grasp of life. When the communist party was brought down, it was by an electrician in a ship yard in Poland. Mother Theresa was a nun who had no money, had taken vows of poverty, chasity, & obedience. Just another Nun, yet looked at what she accomplished.

    there are very few "extrodinary" people in the world. Mostly there are ordinary people who do extrodinary things without thought to their own safety or benefit. I doubt Andrew C. will ever do anything extrodinary and neither will those asking such stupid questions of Chief A.

    1. hi e.a.f....As I pointed out Coyne is the son of a former Bank of Canada governor so he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and as time goes by he is becoming more and more reactionary. I can't understand why so many progressives give him the time of day, because although he poses as a sophisticate, whenever the shit hits the fan he shows his true colours. Once I at least respected him, now I think he's just another Con loser...

  11. Anonymous2:59 PM

    It is the media that have the power to put forth a message that they want. It is a tactic that they use to start trouble and spreading rumors about Indigenous people. That is why it is important to stop watching movies that keep enforcing this stereotyping of Natives. Have a media coverage that is fair and focuses on the objectives. Who ever is narrating the story is the only one perspective of an situation. Spread the truth and educate and show everyone what is at stake(earth) and who is trying to protect their human existence and expose climate change. Don't give these mean people any momentum.