5.10.2009

genocide is more important than traffic

I am one of the many people in the Greater Toronto Area who are being inconvenienced by protests by and in support of the Tamil people.

Right now I should be on a bus, on my way home. Instead I will be several hours late. I've had a long day, and I'm tired.

To say this pales in comparison to what is happening to the Tamil people is beyond understatement. It can't even be said in the same sentence.

I'll get home. We'll all get home. People are being slaughtered. Rich, comfortable nations won't help because they've decided a group of people are terrorists. The Tamil protesters are refusing to be silenced. We must stand in solidarity with them.

* * * *

As another GO passenger complained to the driver about the inconvenience, I interjected, "There's a genocide going on. It's much more important than how long it takes us to get home."

The passenger, a young black man, said, "I know that. I'm not unsympathetic to their cause. But they've been called a terrorist group, so anything they do will be interpreted badly."

I said, "Anybody can be called a terrorist. Today's terrorist is often tomorrow's hero."

He smiled. "I know that," he said. "It's true. I'm not opposed to what they're doing. I just want to go home."

I thought that was pretty good. The driver said, "I hear you, and I agree with you. But some of them got aggressive. They attacked police."

I said, "I've been to too many protests to just accept that protesters attacked police. It's usually the other way around."

The driver nodded and said, "I know. That's true. But in this case, I do think there were some violent protesters, not connected to the main peaceful protests happening at the consulate. And it doesn't do their cause any good. You know if they're violent, that's all the media will show."

I don't know if the protesters were violent, but the driver was reasonable. He was listening. And he wasn't dismissing the protesters, their cause, or even the idea of protesting.

I thought, I like this town.

Another passenger said, "What's the protest about? Tamelles? Who is that? What are they?"

The young black man looked at me and said, "You'd have to be asleep for the last month to not know about this."

I said, "Maybe she was."

Then I called Allan to see how we could get home.

[Kim in TO blogged about this today, too.]

* * * *

Learn more at the Canadian Peace Alliance and at TamilNet.

20 comments:

Kim_in_TO said...

Thanks for posting! It's interesting to hear people's reactions. Me, I've just posted a response to a really ignorant comment made by an acquaintance on Facebook. It's just like the stuff you read in the comments to online newspapers. *sigh*

L-girl said...

" It's just like the stuff you read in the comments to online newspapers."

Best avoided!

impudent strumpet said...

Looking at what time it is, I just hope this doesn't cause people to miss the last train/bus home. Being delayed a few hours is one thing, being stranded overnight is another.

JakeNCC said...

There was spokesman for Human Rights Watch on CTV tonight who said the situation concerning Tamils in the civil war in Sri Lanka is much more complicated than the diaspora of Tamils portrays. He said the Tamils are refusing to let their civilians flee in many cases keeping them as human shields. It also said they use child soldiers and suicide bombers. I guess there are always two sides to a story.

Of course I'm not up on Sri Lankan politics or war but I do wonder where the other Sri Lankans in this country are and what are their views. Surely more than just the minority Tamils have emigrated to Canada.

I also read earlier tonight that the Tamils were considered the educated "upper" class in Sri Lanka during colonianl times and the British administered the colony through the Tamils. I assume the Sri Lankan majority have longterm animosity to the Tamils for what they considered collaboration with the Brits.

Having said all this you have to think things are very dire for Tamil-Canadians to protest as strongly as they are doing. It does seem that this is really more about saving lives than just politics.

JakeNCC said...

I'm at work and with not much to do have been googling the tamil tigers and the civil war in sri lanka and man they dont have a good reputation. They are some bad dudes. I've tried to just read mainstream articles and such but theres not alot of sympathy for these guys. This is where you come in Laura. Why should we support these GTA protests and why do you think the moral high ground lies with the Tamils? btw I can't find anybody but the Tamils that call whats happening a genocide and even the media who reports on the hundreds/thousands of deaths say they are being caused by both sides.

Get to the bottom of this L. ( like you have nothing else to do ).

Cornelia said...

Glad the driver was reasonable and you had a worthwhile nice interesting conversation with him! Yeah, of course genocide is way worse...

Cornelia said...

Some things are really best avoided altogether, that's for sure, hey!

I hope the same, impudent strumpet. Taxi cabs are expensive!!

L-girl said...

"Looking at what time it is, I just hope this doesn't cause people to miss the last train/bus home. Being delayed a few hours is one thing, being stranded overnight is another."

All the buses were running, they were just taking crazy circuitous routes.

I saw no reports of violence either, so I don't know what the bus driver was on about! I'm assuming if there was violence, we sure would have heard about it.

L-girl said...

Jake, you're welcome to your middle-ground-two-sides-to-every-story-point-of-view on every genocide (Palestinian, Tamil) but I don't share it, and I don't enjoy defending my views each time you comment.

Suggesting that somehow these protests might be about "politics" - even if you've decided they're not - is the kind of thing I expect from right-wing trolls.

You feel the way you feel, you disagree with me, fine. But repeatedly asking me to educate you and defend my viewpoints is tiresome. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

James said...

Lori & I were heading up the DVP when three police cars zipped past, heading south... Then another... Then two more... Seven or eight in all. Fortunately, we didn't get caught in the traffic, as we were heading away from the problem.

While their cause is good, climbing onto the Gardiner was ill-advised. The petty resentments it will have caused in many people won't help their cause.

L-girl said...

"The petty resentments it will have caused in many people won't help their cause."

I think that's a legitimate concern.

OTOH, they've catapulted their story into front-page news. And they cleared out peacefully around midnight, so avoided any very high stakes confrontation.

I'm so relieved that bus driver was mistaken about the violence.

James said...

OTOH, they've catapulted their story into front-page news. And they cleared out peacefully around midnight, so avoided any very high stakes confrontation.Do you know if they ever got a rep from the PMO to talk to, like they wanted?

And why isn't Dick "Saddam Hussein gassed his own people!" Cheney calling for a full-scale invasion of Sri Lanka over them shelling their own people? Or is that sort of thing only a problem when US-made chemical weapons are used?

L-girl said...

In the 1980s, I kept a political cartoon on my bulletin board. A black man was lying on the ground, and a white soldier labeled "South Africa" was stepping on his neck. Ronald Reagan was observing, saying, "Gee, all that pressure on your foot must be really difficult."

That sums up my feelings about seeing the other POV in people's freedom movements.

JakeNCC said...

I'm sorry Laura if I'm not up on every conflict in every country in the entire world. Sometimes a question is just a question and others besides me may have the same questions. Thank you however for posting the Coalition to Stop the War link. If they are supporting the Tamils thats good enough for me.

And to be fair I've asked about the Palestian-Israeli conflict and the Tamil conflict. That's it. I am a avid supporter of the war resisters and make probably as many calls on that as anyone on this board. I belive in most all your views from social justice, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, women's rights, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered rights, the NDP ( i'm probably a bigger supporter than even you, i've voted NDP in every federal election in my life ), labour rights, almost everything on the left. I'm not the boogeyman and I'm not a troll but you will have my cooperation. I'll just read from now on.

L-girl said...

"I'm sorry Laura if I'm not up on every conflict in every country in the entire world."

No one is up on every conflict, and there's a lot of things about the Sri Lanka / Tamil situation I don't know.

"Sometimes a question is just a question and others besides me may have the same questions."

I'm sure they do, and there are excellent sources all over the internet to learn more about this.

"Thank you however for posting the Coalition to Stop the War link. If they are supporting the Tamils thats good enough for me."

This post also links to the Canadian Peace Alliance, to which TCSTW belongs.

"And to be fair I've asked about the Palestian-Israeli conflict and the Tamil conflict. That's it."

Actually, that's not it. Many times you seem to take a devil's advocate position and ask me to defend my views - Palestinians, seal slaughter, Tamils, and there have been several other instances. If it had been twice I would not have said anything.

"I am a avid supporter of the war resisters and make probably as many calls on that as anyone on this board. I belive in most all your views from social justice, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, women's rights, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered rights, the NDP ( i'm probably a bigger supporter than even you, i've voted NDP in every federal election in my life ),"

I wasn't questioning your credentials or how progressive you are. And it's very likely you are a bigger NDP supporter than me, because I'm not into party politics at all, and feel quite critical of the NDP right now.

"I'm not the boogeyman and I'm not a troll"

Nor did I say you were.

I post my own point of view, and I can't be expected to do your research for you. The same internet that's available to me to gather facts for you is available for you to gather facts for yourself.

I'm happy to answer questions if I can, but it does get very tiring to be asked - not once or twice, but frequently - to explain why *you* should support something. You might answer that question for yourself.

"I'll just read from now on."

That's up to you. I'm not asking you not to comment.

I'm sorry if my comment offended you. I knew it might, but I try not to ignore questions, yet enough of your devil's advocate questions piled up and I found it a little irritating. I would have emailed you privately, not in the blog, but you don't make your contact info public. So I addressed it as best as I could on the blog.

Hopefully you will not make such a big deal over it that you will never comment again, but that's up to you.

L-girl said...

Also, the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War has an email list. It's an excellent way to stay updated on many of these issues. Here's the link to join.

They have a Facebook group, too.

JakeNCC said...

I forgot about the seals and you are probably right that this has become a pattern that I didnt realize. I'll try to catch myself next time. And you wouldnt be you if you didnt say what you felt.

As for as research I spent like two hours last night on the Tamils. I'm surprised they are losing the conflict cause they are some tough dudes. Got to give them that. It just gave me pause when even the European countries who support Palestian rights label the Tigers terrorists. Some of these European countries are left-leaning and I have respect for them so it's confusing.

Another interesting thing is that Canada is home to the largest Tamil community in the West. Somehow that makes me proud because one of my heros is Trudeau and if it werent for him there wouldnt be this Tamil community in Toronto or dozens of other communities.

I was being petulent when I said I wouldnt post. Sorry. But I really didnt know seals were used for fur. :>

JakeNCC said...

I finally get it and apologize for downplaying the Tamil protest. Judy Resnick was on As It Happens tonight and she made it crystal clear. You must separate the human rights and the politics of the Sri Lankan crisis. She said while both sides have committed atrocities over the years its the Tamils that are being slaughtered right now. And that word slaughter is being used by UN which is rare that the UN uses such language. She also said its the Sri Lankan government that is in charge and has the duty to protect ALL its citizens. She said she and the peace movement are about protecting innocent citizens and not getting into decades-long political battles. She was wonderful and was so eloquent. Also AIH had reports from Sri Lanka which were just horrific and I really feal ashamed for thinking more about the history of the conflict than about the human suffering happening RIGHT NOW.

L-girl said...

Jake, thank you so very much for your openness and willingness to engage. You are a rare person who is willing to hear, listen and re-think.

I do apologize that I offended you. It wasn't my intent, but it was a side-product of my intent, and I'm sorry for that.

You can be petulant sometimes, we're all entitled. :)

Thanks for the great info on the Tamil crisis. In retrospect I see that I should have specifically said that my concern is the genocide, not "who's right". I didn't realize people might interpret the post through that lens.

Thanks again for being such a cool guy.

Kim_in_TO said...

I've tried to just read mainstream articles and such but theres not alot of sympathy for these guys.Why on earth would you limit yourself to "mainstream" articles? They tend to all slant the same way, and the corporate-editorial ties are sometimes so blatant. You really need to look at independent media - sometimes the only way to get some of the "real" story. And it' so easy to do with the internet.