The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Canada Day, Canada’s Shame

It’s a muted Canada day this year because of the discovery of dead children at residential schools for natives.

The residential schools were boarding schools for native children. The children were taken from their parents by force (some parents were killed for resisting). Once there, they were treated badly, not allowed to speak their native language, and inculcated in Christianity, which is why they were run by the Catholic Church.

The reasoning was that the only way to “civilize” the natives was to make them Christians, and to remove them from their culture.

So far, over a thousand children have been found in unmarked graves this year. More will be found. The BBC estimates 2,000 dead, but I’m betting it is more.

The children at these schools were abused, they were not treated with love, and when they returned to the reservations, many of them acted as adults who were abused children not treated with love; reservations have huge amounts of alcoholism, drug use, and abuse. This trauma, combined with the other generational trauma natives endured, plus the systematic mistreatment of natives on reservations, has lead to reservations being third-world enclaves in a first-world nation, and anti-native racism is rampant in Canada — especially in rural areas.

This has lead to a lot of canceling, some of it unquestionably justified, some of it less so.

The Atlantic Magazine wrote a good defense of John A. MacDonald (even if it was written by Frum), Canada’s first Prime Minister, for example: He supported residential schools, but in his time they were voluntary and his policies, for the time, were relatively enlightened towards the natives — including some attempts to feed them during the famine caused by the US genocide of the bison herds.

The key paragraph is:

This is not a “reckoning with history.” It’s a refusal to reckon with the actual possibilities open to the people of the past. This is not “moral responsibility.” It’s a flight from responsibility into rituals of self-purification through denunciation and destruction. It is easier to perform outrage than to improve outcomes in education, addiction, and economic development.

The real problem here is that modern day natives live in slums and are treated terribly. The simple fact of the matter is that a real attempt was made to genocide their cultures (that’s what compulsory residential schools were part of) and that putting them in reservations and treating even the adults like children (that was pretty much their legal status), then failing to care for them, makes Canada culpable for the state they are in.

There is no getting around this easily. What was done cannot be undone, but Canada could do what it can to make it right, and the simplest way to start would be with money. There are a million “status” Indians in Canada, and just giving them a boatload of cash is something Canada can afford to do, and should do. (We spend about $200 billion on various business subsidies, including for oil and gas; we can find the money.)

On their side, the natives need to understand that countries rarely self-dismember, and that turnaround (taking away the rights of non-natives) is a no-go, and would be stupid and self-defeating. Canada would have to give natives a fair bit of land, but that land would not be fully sovereign; they would not be separate countries. Something like provincial powers or even provincial status would be appropriate, but it must be done in a way that respects democratic and civil rights. If Indians want settlers off their returned land (settlers who have sometimes been there for over a 100 years), those people will need to be compensated, and it’s reasonable for the Canadian government to bear those costs.

The price tag for all of this will be in the hundreds of billions. Canada can afford it, and it is the right thing to do, but it must also come with genuine reconciliation over time.

In the meantime, Canada is right to be ashamed, and the Pope needs to get off his ass and apologize as well — because the Catholic Church are who perpetrated the actual administration and the actual, day-to-day abuse. (This reminds me of the dead bodies found buried secretly near Irish Catholic-run orphanages.)

Like every other state in the Americas, Canada is a settler state. We were built on conquest and genocide. I have little patience for constant self-whipping over the fact; it is what is, and most people still alive today had nothing to do with it.

But we are responsible for our behaviour today, which is still very bad, and we are responsible for making right what can be made right — things that were done by those who came before us, those who created and maintained this country on land stolen from the natives, while they continued to hurt those natives, pretending instead that they were caring for them.

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  1. Plague Species

    I don’t think throwing cash at damaged people is the answer. It only makes the dysfunction worse. A best fit solution if there is one will require money, but not money as in cash thrown at the damaged to spend on dysfunctional behavior.

    Full assimilation is the only answer. Not treating the indigenous as separate and apart from and not wanting to be treated separate and apart from. The indigenous of Canada and all the Americas need to use the Batista Cubans and the Jews as their example on how to exploit the Western system of faux democracy and milk it for all its worth. They can still distinguish themselves as an exclusive subculture within the larger system and use that system to increase their power at the expense of those who don’t belong to power groups.

  2. Ian Welsh

    Unfortunately, after things like the residential schools, full assimilation is precisely what they don’t want.

  3. Plague Species

    I do not blame them for not wanting it, but I don’t see any other way for them especially when you consider everything else that’s hitting the fan now and is going to hit the fan in short order.

    Of course, I was being sarcastic about learning from the Jews and the Batista Cubans, but the satire has a point. It’s a democracy of power groups, not individuals. If you want power, you have to be part of a mobilized and motivated power group. Otherwise, you’re a casualty.

    As far as throwing money at it, I stand by that point and it isn’t satirical sarcasm. Throwing money at dysfunction is a waste of money. The dysfunction must be acknowledged and addressed, otherwise the money just feeds the dysfunction. Like education in America, for example. Making tuition free for all isn’t a viable solution without a total reform or replacement of the current education system. All it would do is just make tuition rates rise even higher and out of control spending by colleges and universities will continue unabated.

  4. Dan Lynch

    Similar to reparations for descendants of slaves, giving natives a bunch of money or any other type of preferential treatment will create massive resentment. Then there is the question of how much & how long this must go on before everyone agrees that the debt has been paid? If we give them a one time payment, does that settle the score forever and ever? Then the question of how to determine who is a native / slave descendant — i.e., if a DNA test says a person is 25% native, should they get 25% of the benefits, or 100%? (it seems that many enrolled tribal members avoid taking DNA tests because all too often the test reveals that they are mostly of European heritage, which is not what they want to hear).

    I prefer programs that lift up all poor people, regardless of ethnicity or pigmentation. The more universal, the better. The universality minimizes resentment and makes the program more politically viable and sustainable, plus it helps more people. Use highly progressive taxation to claw the benefits back at the top end.

    While I agree that the boarding schools were, in hindsight, an ugly thing (though it’s hard to imagine any policy that would have had a happy ending for the Natives) we cannot assume that the deaths of the children were due to foul play or even neglect. Most likely they died due to diseases for which there was no treatment at that time, and for which the Natives had little built-in immunity. Packing them into dormitories probably increased transmission, but if they had been living at home with their folks a bunch of native kids still would have died of diseases because that was a common thing before we had vaccines and antibiotics.

    I’m into genealogy, and it was common for my white ancestors to have several of their kids die of diseases before adulthood, and it was common to bury those kids in an unmarked grave. Be grateful for modern medicine.

  5. Ché Pasa

    Ian is coming up with ideas for alternatives to what we might call mob action to redress some of the grievances and calamities visited on the Native Peoples of Canada — and by extension, the United States of America, as the policies and processes of Native genocide were and are very similar.

    1) Stop the genocidal policies and do not allow them to return.
    2) Pay abundant compensation to the survivors.
    3) Return large tracts of land stolen from the Natives.
    4) Demand and get apologies from those institutions (like the Catholic Church) that engineered and implemented genocidal policies toward Natives. (The residential schools were, for example, intentional cultural genocide.)

    Assimilation? It’s an interesting issue, one that isn’t easy. Many Natives in Canada are assimilated — and they would rather not be. They would rather be much closer to their tribal cultures, societies and languages than they are. On the other hand, there are plenty of Natives quite happy to assimilate.

    The issue is not so much assimilation as it is compulsion: being compelled to assimilate is no good, neither is being compelled to live and die in the wretched conditions and violence of some but not all reservations and reserves.

    Ms. Ché is Native and grew up in an almost entirely white suburb in California. When she was a child, she was advised by her mother not to tell anyone she was Native, because in those days it could be terrible for an Indian child among white kids. Just don’t say anything. Her mother was educated through the eighth grade at a Native boarding school which left her deeply scarred the rest of her life, but also provided her with surprising coping skills in a non-Native environment. She was one of the lucky ones in that she didn’t lose her language, nor did she lose most of her Native culture, both of which she passed on to her children. The problem was there was no social or cultural support for Natives in California. The local California tribes supposedly had been exterminated (most were but there were survivors, too.) The various other Native peoples who were relocated to California from other places in the 1940s had very little opportunity to get together with one another for mutual support.

    And so coming to New Mexico where Native society is extensive and Native culture is strong was magical for Ms. Ché. It was a whole new world where she found a warm welcome among other Native peoples — and no animosity from Anglos — and where she could flourish as she never could in California.

    That’s not to say anything is perfect here. It’s far from that. But I think whatever else happens to redress the crimes committed against Native peoples, it has to start with respect. And in New Mexico, despite many problems, at least there is a consciousness that Natives are owed respect (and a lot else) and mostly get it. Ms. Ché attributes at least some of that to the efforts of a rich white lady from Buffalo: Mabel Dodge Luhan who moved to Taos in the ‘Teens, married an Indian, and advocated for Native rights, land and culture the rest of her life.

    It was a start.

  6. Trinity

    “it has to start with respect”.

    This needs to be repeated, and please also convey my respects to Mrs. Che.

    As for the article, the whole thing sickens me, and is just as bad on this side of the border.

    My guess is that it was as much about converting them into “good little consumers” as it was about forcing them to abandon their own culture, which does not focus on private property or being richer than everyone else and therefore is useless for inculcating the consumerism that creates the slave labor required to amass power and wealth.

    And the Catholic Church? Same thing, but a different approach in the form of over populating the world with Catholics in order to … amass massive power and wealth. The biggest monopoly corporation in the world. Reminds me of the stories coming out of Ireland about “schools for orphan girls” run by nuns.

    Canada should give them all the land they can because they will definitely take better care of it, unless they are themselves controlled by a Native subgroup focused on double dealing or outright theft by under-the-table selling of mineral rights, leases, etc. in order to … amass massive power.

    This was timely for me, as I watched Thunderheart last night, right before it left Prime. Filmed in the 1990s but set in 1970s South Dakota near the Black Hills and Wounded Knee, it illustrates the clash between the FBI, native Americans, and the internal fight between “traditional” native Americans, and “government” native Americans. The “government” native Americans were doing dirty deeds for money in order to … amass power.

    What a world we inhabit.

  7. Ian Welsh

    I generally prefer a lift up all boats approach, too. But I think some recognition that native ills really are a result of what was done to them (and remember, in most cases we wrote treaties which in many cases we really have not kept.)

    They won’t get everything they want, but some of what is done to help them needs to be what they want.

    And, as with poor people, I rather suspect just giving them money will be very helpful. Studies of giving poor people money always find that they waste a lot less than bureaucrats and are good at knowing what they need and want.

    A lot of what is wrong with natives really is, in a society like ours, just “not enough money” and much of what is wrong can be fixed with money.

    Not all of it, but a lot.

    Probably need a post on this, in more general terms.

  8. Watt4Bob

    I am currently reading “Craft An American History” by Glenn Adamson.

    This history includes the history of schools intended to prepare American Blacks, recently emancipated, for the trades, and native Americans for assimilation, at times, in the same schools.

    Assimilation was more or less openly intended to be cultural erasure.

    Richard Henry Pratt, who had led Black soldiers during the Civil War was the man who later set the template for Indian education after the Dawes Act of 1887 that mandated native children be educated only in white-run, english-language schools.

    From the book;

    “I am a Baptist” Pratt wrote, ” I believe in immersing the Indians in our civilization, and when we get them under, holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked.”


    “Kill the Indian in him, save the man”

    It seems obvious, assimilation as regards Native Americans in the context of American, and Canadian history is to be understood as cultural erasure.

    In both countries, I think it would be wise to first ask those who’ve been the target of erasure, what sort of remedy/reparations might be preferred.

  9. Mary Bennett

    Trinity, may I use your phrase ” inculcating the consumerism that creates the slave labor required to amass power and wealth.” ? I think that is the best description I have seen yet of what underlies much of our present predicament.

    Ian Welsh, How much can Canada afford? Can Canada afford to do 1. what is right by its’ own native citizens, and 2. continue it’s present generous immigration policies? Are Canada’s communities of immigrants from overseas willing to go along with what you have suggested? I ask, because there is not much evidence of support for native rights in such communities here in the US. Certainly the entire and highly influential Middle European diaspora (Jewish, Catholic and Orthodox) couldn’t care less about native rights, unless to make a rhetorical point once in a while. Has anyone considered the effects of the warming Arctic Ocean? There will surely be increased trade through that ocean, but also a need for more military spending. China has now decided it is a “near Arctic” nation and expects to be included, and, I am afraid, so does our govt. in DC.

  10. Ian Welsh

    We can afford a great deal, if we’re willing to subsidize the rich and corporations less. They’ll be fine. Could even raise taxes back to the rates of, say, the 90s.

    It’s simply a matter of priorities, as with everything else.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about competition between countries, a lot of stuff is going to change soon-ish.

    There’s only one country that’s a real threat to us: the US. Russia could be a problem. Everyone else is essentially irrelevant, if we chose to handle our own affairs properly, which we haven’t even tried to do since about the 70s.

  11. Soredemos

    @Dan Lynch

    The Spanish colonial casta system, but woke! Any proposal for race based reparations inevitably starts to fall apart once you try to get into the specifics of who gets reparations and who doesn’t. Much better to do universal programs that disproportionately help descendants of slaves and the colonized.

    This is all entirely academic though. Because few people are actually serious about any of this, in either the US or Canada. The point about reparations talk isn’t to actually seriously consider reparations. It’s to 1. throw a wrench into any up and coming left wing movement by getting it to start infighting over what is a politically divisive and DOA concept (Adolph Reed has written quite a bit about how reparations is cynically deployed in this way), and to 2. virtue signal how enlightened someone is by supporting a thing they know will never come to pass.

    My favorite example of number 2 is people opening meetings by ‘acknowledging’ that they’re on colonized land. Okay…and? You gonna do anything more than that? You gonna, like, give your house to some natives or something? Oh, what’s that, no, you aren’t? So you get to make yourself feel better, but the actual material conditions don’t change in the slightest. It’s about virtue signaling, and about doing performative self-abasement while waxing poetic about things like a nation’s ‘original sin’ (in reality something as nebulous as a nation doesn’t have ‘sins’).

    @Ché Pasa

    I’m gonna be a blunt dick here, but assimilation is the only future any native tribe ultimately has, whether they do it willingly or not. It varies a bit from tribe to tribe, but basically none of these are real, living cultures anymore, and they haven’t been for a long time. They’re husks. That was my reaction when I visited the Black Hills: a culture that largely only lingers on in the form of traditionally manufactured crafts to be sold to tourists.

    If anyone has read the Dune books, what ultimately happens to the Fremen, becoming a tiny remnant catering to tourists on little patches of preserved reservation desert, is directly inspired by the natives of Frank Herbert’s home state, specifically the Quileute (he even wrote a now forgotten novel, Soul Catcher, which was highly sympathetic to natives and their plight).

    Look to the Ainu of Japan for the ultimate endgame of any indigenous minority. The majority integrate into the dominant society to the point that they completely lose touch with their heritage, and eventually themselves stop even being aware that they are from a minority lineage. A small minority continue to maintain the ‘old ways’ as a weekend hobby to get money from tourists.

    Cultures go extinct, it’s simply a thing that happens. Literally no one identifies as a Pict anymore, as an example. Even what language they spoke is forgotten. They weren’t wiped out, modern Scots share a significant amount of DNA with them. They simply stopped being Picts over time.

    @Ian Welsh

    You can easily afford to do both reparations and subsidies for the rich and corporations. Not saying you should, but lack of money is never an issue for a monetarily sovereign nation. MMT. Where will the money come from? The same place all money comes from: it’s legislated into existence. Have Parliament pass a budget funding reparations. Done.

  12. Mark Pontin

    The ‘cultural genocide-native’ aspect is a big complication. But the primary feature of what’s happened here is the Catholic Church, which has equal form in other countries of having ‘schools’ that kill poor children of the white populations there.

    In Ireland, for instance, the Magdalene Laundries scandal finally cratered the Catholic Church’s political legitimacy there , with the discovery of over 800 baby skeletons in a septic tank near Galway. This from 2014 —

    ‘In 1975 two young boys broke open a concrete slab while playing in Tuam, county Galway and uncovered an old septic tank filled with hundreds of small skeletons – a priest said prayers at the site and it was resealed.

    ‘This week it was revealed that the site contained the remains of hundreds of children who died in the care of Bon Secours nuns between 1925 and 1961, and was not a famine grave as originally claims in the 70s.

    ‘The babies are believed to have been secretly buried at the home for unwed mothers, dubbed “fallen women”, which had an extraordinarily high infant mortality rates – with children dying of TB, pneumonia, measles and gastorenteritis.

    ‘A report from the institution in 1944 revealed emaciated childen, mothers suffering with mental health issues and overcrowding.

    ‘The Bon Secours sisters, a Roman Catholic organisation, began providing healthcare in Ireland in the 19th century and is now the country’s largest private healthcare provider. The sisters said they were shocked and saddened by the reports, they ran 10 similar homes across Ireland and three of the others are believed to have plots with the remains of 3,200 babies and infants ….’

    A simple question boggled my mind: how do you kill children in these numbers, whether in Canada or Ireland? It seems to be mostly the result of starvation allied with medieval hygiene, as far as I can make out.

    So, stinting on spending on both food and medical care to an extent that shows an utterly depraved indifference to human life was the business model of these Catholic ‘schools’ — which actually rather more resembled concentration camps for poor (and in the case of Canada, native) children.

  13. Che Pasa

    I remember one year at Indian Market in Santa Fe a man was going around to some of the booths of Pueblo artists asking where they were from. Cochiti. Pojoaque. San Ildefonso. Places the guy never heard of. He said “Do they look like Indian pueblos?” Meaning Taos pueblo, the only one he’d ever seen a picture of.

    The people in the booths would say “They’re where we live. They’re pueblos. They look like pueblos.”

    “But like Taos?”

    “No. They never did. ”

    So the man was confused. Pueblos were supposed to look like it. Like Taos. Surely the native culture must have been destroyed if the pueblos didn’t look like Taos.

    What he couldn’t wrap his brain around was that they never did.

  14. nihil obstet

    I wonder how it would work if majority native areas were created — maybe with current reservations as the center and legal administrative districts that include lots of “modern culture” residents. The native tribes could run the areas according to their cultures and traditions and the immigrants would need to assimilate to that culture. It might at least offer some clarification on the issues and suggestions about how to address the political and economic disadvantages of tribal members in the greater society.

  15. Hugh

    I do not believe in special rights or special
    punishments, but I believe absolutely in equal rights. A citizen is a citizen is a citizen. Citizens if they are not whole should be made and kept whole. It is what we owe each other. It is what we should want for each other. That does not mean lip service to equal opportunities but more ensuring equal outcomes.
    The tie that binds us is our citizenship, but that still allows us plenty of space to respect other identities and allocate resources for, not just first people’s but any of us to explore and express them.

  16. Willy

    I once saw an economists comparison between two socialized oil rich companies. He said the Venezuelan government gave most oil profits to the masses to do with as they pleased. He said the Norwegian government had experts manage most oil profits for the benefit of future economies. There was a lot more to those stories but that was the gist of it. And we all know the results, so far.

    He never speculated about which direction would be best if the USA found themselves in that situation. I’m guessing it’d be a disaster either way, with American integrity culture currently being at such a low ebb for both patrician and plebe.

    Maybe this is why reparations is such a tough call for Canada. There’s not much of a science about predicting economic results, mostly ideologies. Would a drug trade mafia blossom? Would the natives invest in casinos for nonnatives to waste their savings on, to then have most of the profits stolen by nonnatives?

  17. Ché Pasa

    Cultures and societies change, adapt, grow, and diminish. They may become overwhelmed by outside cultures, be absorbed by them, though not necessarily assimilated. Think of the British and Irish or Scottish, or Welsh. The dominant culture may dominate, but it isn’t the sole cultural or social benchmark. It’s one of several or many.

    In my example of the man confused by the fact that Native Pueblos in New Mexico don’t “look like” Taos Pueblo — except for Taos, of course — the point is that there was always a variety of Native lifestyles, cultures and languages differed, and how the Natives interacted with newcomers (Spanish, Anglo, etc.) differed as well. Too many Americans — and Canadians too — don’t understand that. Natives live in houses today (HUD houses, the bane of Native society, yet they’re liked by many of their residents.) They drive pickups and cars. Use computers and smart phones. Lifestyles aren’t what they were. On the other hand, many tribes have preserved ceremony and language from the long past, and where ceremony has been lost, new versions of old ceremonies and altogether new ceremonies are developed.

    Assimilation is possible but not necessary.

  18. KT Chong

    … while accusing China of committing genocide against Uyghur in Xinjiang. Hm.

  19. nihil obstet

    Venezuela vs. Norway — an impoverished poorly educated country with virtually no infrastructure compared to a highly developed well educated country. Gee, I wonder which country had the best economy. Economists making the comparison. Gee, I wonder whether the economists found the best outcome from spending the money on the poor or from handing it over to economists. These the guys that bailed out the financial institutions and helped loot the homeowners here in the U.S.? Inquiring minds want to know.

  20. Hugh

    KT, the Canadian residential school system peaked in the 1930s and the last was closed in 1996, some 25 years ago. The Uighur concentration camps imprison millions, continue to be defended by the Chinese government, and are in the here and now.

  21. Hickory

    Also, Venezuela’s the target of years-long intense sanctions by the USA, plus outright theft of oil distributor Citgo in the us and its overseas gold holdings by the Bank of England. Comparing Venezuela and Norway is apples to oranges.

  22. Soredemos

    @Ché Pasa

    What you’re describing *is* assimilation. Many of the Indian reservations are complete backwaters, kept afloat by things like casino revenue. In the US many of the poorest counties in the country are Indian reservations. To the point that the vast majority of US Natives more than 75%) don’t live on reservations.

    Additionally Irish, Scottish, and Welsh are specific national identities. Native America/ Indian/Indigenous/First Nation aren’t; they’re generic labels for hundreds of different tribes, none of which has more than 400,000 members (and many far less). These are groupings that are essentially doomed to gradually become subsumed into the wider cultural landscape. There’s just so little incentive to stick close to (what’s left) of the ancestral lands and culture. Stubbornness and a personal emotional investment in a culture can only get you so far. Kids increasingly just don’t see much point in doing things like learning a tribal language.

    Also I don’t see the outright fabrication of new ceremonies as a positive. That seems like a desperate attempt to keep a guttering flame alive, to replace something whose very loss is evidence of a decline (within this specific context anyway. Cultures are actually constantly inventing ‘traditions’, usually for political ends. My favorite example is the Emperor of Japan’s ‘ancient Shinto enthronement ceremony’. Hmm, yes, so ancient: it was literally made up by a bunch of Meiji bureaucrats sitting in an office in the second half of the 19th century).

  23. Ché Pasa

    Wow. What a 19th Century White Man’s Burden view of What To Do With The Indians.

    From the outset of European invasion/settlement (beginning around 1540 in this area) Natives have been able to keep their ways alive while having relations with the newcomers. Sometimes unpleasant ones, sometimes leading to genocide, but look, the Indians are still here; so are the descendants of the newcomers, and they are still interacting as they have from the beginning. A friend from Taos Pueblo said, referring to the Anglos, Spanish and Natives in Northern New Mexico, “You go back four or five generations, and we’re all related.”

    Native cultures are not static and never were. They change and grow or decline, pretty much like any other. Casinos are neither unmitigated good nor evil, but they can generate huge amounts of revenue for tribes — which isn’t always a good thing, either, but it’s better than neglect and abuse from the BIA.

    There are still serious problems of poverty in Indian Country. Not so much material poverty — though that’s a problem, too — as a kind of despair not solely over what’s been lost but also over the fact that for too many on the rez, there’s no way forward at all. Yes, most Natives don’t live on reservations (or the pueblos in NM). At first they were taken away against their will, but now it’s more a matter of choice. Or something more complicated.

    I think we have different ideas of what “assimilation” is. In my view it is loss of all distinctly Native cultural/spiritual ties and adoption of the culture of the dominant society. I know some Natives who are that assimilated. But most of those I know aren’t and don’t want to be.

    No, the Irish were not a nation when the British invaded and settled. They were a collection of tribes, living on an island, usually fighting among themselves, and in some ways they still are. If anything, the British invented the nation of Ireland. But the Irish speak English and drink tea and go to the cinema, don’t they? Nevertheless, they’re Irish, not English.

    It’s not that different with Native Americans, except that there’s no universal singular identity among them. And that’s more a problem for Anglos than it is for Natives.

  24. Geof

    To my surprise, given all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Canadian media, I pretty much agree with your assessment, Ian. I feel that we would have a duty to help anyone in such a miserable situation, regardless of responsibility. But of course the residential schools did destroy culture and families – and damaged the ability of generations to be parents. We have a responsibilty to aid those living today, and that includes committing resources. Ensuring they are well allocated might be an insurmountable challenge: still, we have to try.

    The Canadian government has apologized many times, as is appropriate. However, I strongly object to the idea that Canadians should be ashamed. There is far too much shame and guilt going around these days. It is counterproductive. Though my ancestors presumably benefited from the dispossession of the natives, I refuse to be ashamed of accidents of my birth, even where they privileged me. And when the interests of native and non-native Canadians clash, I think we need to stand up for ourselves and negotiate honestly and with respect.

    I have seen anti-native racism in comments on mainstream news sites: Natives are lazy sods. They should be grateful for having been colonized – they get smart phones and health care! I find it astonishing to see people spouting such claptrap. Over 90% of the native population died of disease. Rates of poverty, alcoholism and other dysfunction are through the roof. Some gift of “civilization.”

    As to assimilation, people must not be treated like children. That is something native people need to decide for themselves. Different people will choose differently. So be it.

    However, the whole issue is made toxic by the insanity of contemporary social justice. I have a child in school. Teachers are drilling half-truths into the heads of students with constant recitation of historic wrongs. The fact is, many Canadians of decades past believed that the residential schools were a noble project to improve lives. Kindly people donated to the cause. Of course they were wrong: the aim was to forcibly wipe out a culture. I see the schooling of non-native children children in “justice” today as an echo of the same mentality. Back then, European Canadians believed that natives were degenerated who needed to be “fixed” by indoctrinating their children. Today, European Canadians believe that their fellow citizens are degenerate and racist (some are, as I said) – and they need to be corrected by indoctrining the children. The past wrong is greater: but it is of the same kind.

    Meanwhile, I know for a fact that academics are chickening out of helpingh natives for fear they will make a wrong step and be called racist. Not by natives, in all likelihood, but by their sanctimonious non-native fellows. Our abiltiy to treat natives as human beings has been kneecapped by identitarian idocy. We need to stop putting native people on pedestals (as so many do), or treating them as fragile creatures to be protected (as women once wer), and find ways to get to know them as fellow human beings. My experience is that despite the destruction of their culture they have wisdom to share, from which we could all benefit – but this needs to be done in a spirit of fellowship and equality, not grovelling shame.

  25. Astrid

    There Hugh goes, propagating American imperialist’s slander against China again. There are not millions of Uighur imprisoned in Xinjiang. Even the training center, which never received anything best millions of Uighurs ( there are only 12 million Uighurs total) have been shut down and their trainees released to society. If there were, there would be millions of refugees flooding the neighboring countries, not a handful of xenophobic extremists and US MIC associated fabulists.

    Here are the people Hugh supports. People who attacked thousands of Uighurs and Han people’s until recently. Same as the head choppers in Syria and Chechen terrorists who executed civilians in movie theaters. This is what Hugh’s ” humanitarian intervention” supports.

  26. Astrid

    Hugh would rather focus in the easily disproved guilt of the Chinese, Russians, Iranians, Syrians, Libyans… than recognize the actual harm brought by US sanctions, US weapons, US supported terrorists, US “blob”. He might occasionally mouth disapproval of Israel or the Democratic party, but he’s always ready to demonize others at their command.

  27. Ven

    Well said Astrid. The Grayzone have done a great job of tracing most of these claims back to one man, who appears to be a Christian fundamentalist.

    It is amazing that for western governments and media that have a track record of consistently lying to sensitise their population against a foreign enemy, is consistently believed.

    As for “ We were built on conquest and genocide. I have little patience for constant self-whipping over the fact; it is what is and most people still alive today had nothing to do with it.”.

    There is a pattern. The people alive today are responsible for not facing up to the crimes of the past, but also not facing up to the crimes of the present, with many supporting, or at best indifferent to their governments present actions around the world. Most people in the west choose to avert their eyes and in a deep way feel that mistakes may have been made but evil was not intentional. So no one owns the crimes of the present let alone the past.

  28. Plague Species

    At one time, China was the most prodigious slave trader on the planet, historically dwarfing the slave trade of the West. I’m waiting for its apology to the its countless victims and to its reparations.

    Listen to Thomas Sowell. Don’t cancel him. Keep an open mind. He makes some valid points.

  29. Plague Species

    So Astrid can attack any and all with all manner of ad hominem, and yet I’m the one who gets thrown into moderation? That’s fair. If you can’t be fair in your own backyard, how can you admonish unfairness anywhere? Astrid is skilled at what it’s doing. What it’s doing is by design. It’s a strategy to drown independent, objective, critical analysis and create a consensus around false and erroneous conclusions. Knowledgable doesn’t equal intelligent. It’s what you do with that knowledge that matters.

  30. Plague Species

    There Hugh goes, propagating American imperialist’s slander against China again.

    This is clearly a sentence crafted by an oriental asian masquerading as a Westerner. These slips occur all too often with the person occupying this screen name. Prove me wrong. I so want to be wrong about this.

    Riddle me this, why would high and almighty China, beyond reproach China, need the services of the scumbag Erik Prince and why would and does China prefer McDonald Trump as POTUS versus Biden considering McDonald’s crude and crass blustering about China?

  31. Astrid

    (Plague Species trolls by going out of his way to point out irrelevant physical and potentially identifying details about commenters he dislikes, in a manner that almost certainly is intended to unnerve and silence them. He also accused them of things that have no evidentiary basis in their comments. Usually this happens to anyone who questions the narrative in his head about how all the really bad things in this world are caused by Donald Trump and China, such as mentioning that Donald Trump has peacefully left the White House or that the Chinese government has not fired a bullet against any American in the last half century, which is not something you can say for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Columbia, or any police department in the USA.

    I respond to Hugh’s lie against China on this thread with evidence debunking his specific slander and point out Hugh’s history repeatedly debunked false accusations against Russia, China , and other countries unacceptable to the current USA regime. I’ve never seen him respond to me about the evidence I provided. He just slinks away to resurface on other threads with the same lies again and again.

    Others can decide if these are the same but I’m very sorry to be feeding the troll(s) again and will try to do better from now on.)

  32. Plague Species

    It’s a classic Catch-22. If you remove the reservations from the auspices of the BIA and allow the indigenous to own their own land directly and govern directly, in short order Capitalism will plunder it. Don’t hand me that claptrap that the indigenous wouldn’t let that happen. Yes they would. Some are clamoring for it, in fact.

    Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves.

    Now, a group of advisors to President-elect Donald Trump on Native American issues wants to free those resources from what they call a suffocating federal bureaucracy that holds title to 56 million acres of tribal lands, two chairmen of the coalition told Reuters in exclusive interviews.

    The group proposes to put those lands into private ownership – a politically explosive idea that could upend more than century of policy designed to preserve Indian tribes on U.S.-owned reservations, which are governed by tribal leaders as sovereign nations.

    The tribes have rights to use the land, but they do not own it. They can drill it and reap the profits, but only under regulations that are far more burdensome than those applied to private property.

    “We should take tribal land away from public treatment,” said Markwayne Mullin, a Republican U.S. Representative from Oklahoma and a Cherokee tribe member who is co-chairing Trump’s Native American Affairs Coalition. “As long as we can do it without unintended consequences, I think we will have broad support around Indian country.”

    That last paragraph is quoting an influential Native American. A Cherokee, in fact. These are the indigenous who are going to have their way ultimately. This is what complete sovereignty will come to mean. Guaranteed. Anyone who cares one iota about the environment, cannot support this naivete and still be considered credible.

    However, the Catch-22 part, if the arrangement remains as it is, we have this.

    For many in Native American communities across the nation, the problem of missing and murdered women is deeply personal.

    “I can’t think of a single person that I know … who doesn’t have some sort of experience,” says Ivan MacDonald, a member of the Blackfeet Nation and a filmmaker. “These women aren’t just statistics. These are grandma, these are mom. This is an aunt, this is a daughter. This is someone who was loved … and didn’t get the justice that they so desperately needed.”

    MacDonald and his sister, Ivy, recently produced a documentary on Native American women in Montana who vanished or were killed. One story hits particularly close to home. Their 7-year-old cousin, Monica, disappeared from a reservation school in 1979. Her body was found frozen on a mountain 20 miles away, and no one has ever been arrested.

    There are many similar mysteries that follow a pattern: A woman or girl goes missing, there’s a community outcry, a search is launched, a reward may be offered. There may be a quick resolution. But often, there’s frustration with tribal police and federal authorities, and a feeling many cases aren’t handled urgently or thoroughly.

  33. Willy

    Nihil, I answered your questions in my comment. I then asked a question about how reparations might possibly be most effectively administered. Maybe I would better informed about whatever reparations I might receive from the nations which stole all of my own ancestors generational wealth?

  34. Ven

    “At one time, China was the most prodigious slave trader on the planet”

    What an idiotic comment. That is why there was something called the Chinese revolution.

    Do you not get that there is a one-sided fight between rich and poor? Albeit cloaked in patriotic fervour . Unfortunately enough of the poor make it into the middle ranks of technocratic managers, to maintain the illusion: for themselves as much as anyone else.

  35. Hugh

    As Astrid shows with her dismissal of Uighurs, Anglos are far from the only racists on the planet.

  36. Plague Species

    Astrid is in good company. Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola and Erik Prince agree that China is not using forced labor, a euphemism for slavery.

  37. Jan Wiklund

    Cash won’t help any, particularly if it comes in the form of welfare cheques. Rich countries have heaped cash over poor countries for decades, but the inequality chasm goes on widening.

    In the case of countries, the only thing that helps is if the poor country gets (or takes) its right to do what it pleases, in the economical field. That is, is not punished for doing it. This was what made some of the poor countries of the 19th century rich. And this is what is making China rich today.

    So some kind of benign neglect may perhaps help, also in the case of minorities within nations? Perhaps coupled with scholarships for those who want to try something new?

  38. Astrid

    Again. Hugh not actually countering with any evidence against what I brought up, but happily slandering me and the Chinese government further. The Chinese government is far from perfect on their human rights record, but from what I observe, it’s far stronger and supportive of Uighur and Tibetan heritage than anything found even in contemporary Western societies, nevermind the past as Hugh likes to bring up humanitarian disasters from 1960 to justify sanctioning and condemning China now.

    Earth to Hugh. If he’s consider use of prisoner labor to be done sort of bright line, then he should definitely call for overthrow and sanctioning of the US government, where there are laws REQUIRING priority use of prison labor, for which prisoners are paid pennies per hour. This isn’t speculation by USA hating fabulists but published US laws and regulations.

  39. Astrid

    It’s racist against Uighurs to dismiss their majority support of the Chinese government, to economically sanction and boycott their local industry based on debunked lies, and have the NED support East Turkistan separatists who want to force Uighur women back in their homes and commit genocide against non-Uighurs.

    It is racist to not even read and acknowledge evidence, and at least make a good faith attempt to debunk the evidence if it is false, just because Hugh wants to feel good about himself and how he’s standing up for a people that he probably didn’t even know about until the NED decided to use it against the Chinese government.

    Hugh comes from the grand tradition of white men knowing what’s best for brown people, even though they can’t even find those brown people on the map.

  40. Willy

    Maybe it’s just me, but while Hugh and PS positions have been fairly easy for me to figure out, I have no idea what it is that Astrid stands for.

  41. Trinity

    @Mary Bennett, please do feel free to share my phrase. Share it far and wide, maybe it will help, but probably not.

  42. Soredemos

    @Ché Pasa

    Yes yes, I know. I’m a colonialist racist. Okay.

    My point isn’t that ‘we’ ‘need’ to ‘do anything’ with them. They’ll gradually assimilate on their own, because there’s little incentive not to. These are declining cultures. I’m not happy about it, I’m merely observing. This is usually what happens to all cultures over time. No one identifies as Samnite or Etruscan anymore, as another couple examples.

    Casinos are a very bleak thing to make a cornerstone of an economy, but they’re relied on mostly because there’s not much else to use to generate revenue. Some reservations have farming as well, but that’s usually in addition to casinos, because the farms don’t bring enough in on their own.

    “It’s not that different with Native Americans, except that there’s no universal singular identity among them.”

    This is a massive difference. The Irish clans shared a common language (or at least very closely related dialects), culture, and religion when the English colonized them. It’s beyond ludicrous to claim there was much similarity between the pre-colonized Irish and pre-colonized Natives. You’re comparing a quite small island to a continent thousands of miles across (I’ve been restricting myself to North America). The Irish also successfully threw off colonization, in a way North American natives never did.

    Perhaps it’s useful to compare the Irish, who threw off colonization, the Scottish and Welsh, who were never really colonized to begin with (not that you’d know it from listening to their most vocal nationalists), and the Cornish, who effectively completely ceased to exist as distinct identity.

  43. Soredemos


    There’s always something inherently absurd about notions of national, collective guilt and responsibility. Particularly for things that happened before anyone alive today was even born.

    History is often ugly. Shitty things happened. If I could go back in time and prevent shitty things, I happily would. But I can’t. Both the victims and the perpetrators of past crimes are no longer alive. That’s the end of it. The only responsibilities anyone alive now has is to try and rectify current existing problems.

    Things are even more ridiculous for those of us whose immigrant ancestors post-date most or even all of the atrocities in question. My Anglo-Dutch-Irish ancestors didn’t even come over until at least well into the second half of the 19th century (the Anglo part didn’t come over until after WW2 when she married my GI grandfather). My lineage had fuckall to do with either colonialism or slavery, and I don’t appreciate being expected to abase myself for my ‘white guilt’.

    Regarding Uyghurs, I have no idea what is actually going on with them. And neither does either Astrid nor Hugh and Plague Species. The Chinese are certainly doing *something* to them. At minimum reducation camps are a thing, and the CCP itself has admitted to doing stuff like embedding Party members into Uyghur households. Does it constitute genocide? No, not remotely, and to say it does is idiotic hyperbole (incidentally, it’s also idiotic to describe Israel’s crimes against Palestine as genocide. Genocide isn’t killing a few hundred people every couple years. Ethnic cleansing, yes, genocide, no). If it’s intended to be genocide, it’s an incredibly inept, ineffectual one.

    The larger issue is China being in Xinjiang in the first place. The only reason Beijing is there at all is because it’s planned to be a crucial part of the Belt and Road trade routes. China is only there for the same reason it’s in Tibet: it judges that it has a strategic need to directly control the region. Otherwise it wouldn’t cost them anything to just let the Uighurs have their sparsely populated desert. Chinese presence in Xinjiang is inherently colonialism, regardless of how bad their treatment of the Uyghurs is or is not.

  44. different clue

    So Plague Species supports cultural genocide for the First Nations today, for finishing the job. Good to know.

    Of course First Nations people would not accept assimilation into the culture and standards of a country which invented Residential Re-Education Camps to begin with.
    In the face of their rejection and refusal, would Plague Species recommend giving them the ” Uighur Treatment”?

  45. Troy

    Honestly, if Canada did nothing, it’d be much better than what Canada has done historically. Canada, historically, has worked in opposition to First Nations, often running roughshod over us.

    In design, every Canadian agency that has anything to do with First Nations is designed to either extract rents/profit out of us and/or our lands, or erode claims, treaties, and rights.

    This has in overall effect has worked to radicalize First Nations. We’ll endure this humiliation for the time being but we’re also preparing to take back our own destinies. We’re working to take back our self-determination, and this has been an on-going process that has taken a number of years to bring about.

    Eventually, Canada will witness a number of First Nations announce new united governments. These will not be pliant Indian Reserve Chiefs and Councils that Canada can replace upon a whim. These governments will replace individual Chief and Councils, and unite populations, reserves, claims, and titles. These united governments will be announced as being the new structure to replace the Indian Act for the nations that announce them.

    First Nations are done asking Canada for permission. We’ll do as we must from now on.

  46. Plague Species

    Hugh comes from the grand tradition of white men knowing what’s best for brown people, even though they can’t even find those brown people on the map.

    Are Uyghurs brown? Because they’re Muslim? ALL Muslims are brown people? Hmmm.

  47. different clue

    As I think about the couple of comments upthread about how the Indian Nations should just assimilate and get it overwith already . . . a question has occurred to me.

    Why would Indian people want to assimilate into the culture and civilization which causes global warming and the sixth mass extinction?

  48. Astrid

    The Chinese are obviously doing what’s best for them. Xinjiang and Tibet are arguably far more important than Taiwan (though a Taiwan hosting a large US military presence i is like NATO on the border of Russia, a clear and present danger to the national security of the Chinese heartland). Xinjiang because of natural resources and to ensure that there’s no terrorist jihadis attacking China and Tibet because it’s the source of major rivers for east, southeast, and south Asia. There’s a reason why India insistently controls and oppresses Kashmir and somewhat more loosely controls Bhutan. It’s water and frontiers.

    But just because there is a strategic interest doesn’t mean there can’t be meaningfully different methods to ensure control. The Chinese have largely tried to provide prosperity, some modicum of local control, and retention of ethnic identity, as long as the Uighurs and Tibetans stay firmly within China. That part isn’t negotiable and I’m sure they would try stick method if the Carrie wasn’t working. But the carrot is working and racists like Hugh just came believe that another government can gain the support of their people better than his precious Democrats’ gaslight and tokenism approach.

    Part of the benefit to all the Uighurs and Han and all the other ethnicities living in Xinjiang is ensuring East Turkistan jihadis are not attacking people. That they can live securely and prosperous lives. Yet that security doesn’t have to be extremely oppressive, it can be done through education and policing, just as the US used to do for juvenile delinquents and even adult criminals. Again, if the Chinese are actually so oppressive in a part of the world open to internal and external tourists, why aren’t there footage of oppression as you will see for Kashmir and Burma, which have far more strict border and media control? Why is it all traced to one MIC funded Christian fundamentalist self proclaimed communist hater, a handful of NED tied East Turkistan separatists who have been caught in lie after lies, and the Falunggong cult?

    As for why I give a damn about this in a rather obscure of the internet. Well, I know a bit about China so emotionally, I don’t want what happened to Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, etc to happen to them. That’s what Hugh and PS advocates, sanctioning and exterminating “America’s enemies”. That got my heckles up. Then once I bothered learning about how much of a lie the Uighur genocide story is, not exaggerated, not sensationalized, but just straight out MIC manufactured lies, I felt that somebody needed to stand up to these lies, at least in this small corner of the internet. If my information is wrong, have at it and convince me otherwise. Hugh and PS never tried. Hugh said he doesn’t even bother to read my responses to him, he just doubles down on the name calling. PS responses by spinning endless fantastical speculations about my identity in a transparent attempt to bully me and others who disagree with him.

  49. Temporarily Sane

    Two or three decades ago it was fashionable for westerners and their governments, with a little help from the media, to “care” about Tibet and regularly denounce the evil Chinese commies for oppressing Tibetans.

    Fast forward to today and “caring” about the Uyghurs is all the rage.

    Why do trolls like Plague Species and American exceptionalists like Hugh “care” so much about the Uyghurs while letting ongoing American and Western wars on Muslim majority countries, that have to date killed and displaced tens of millions of people, slide without comment?

    Why do they not “care” about Tibetans, has “the CCP’s” Tibet policy changed since it was cool to “care” about what happens there?

    No, of course not. They are simply parroting Western media propaganda. That’s all there is to it. Thanks to a lifetime of absorbing by osmosis American media propaganda they believe the west, and particularly the USA, has a right to dictate, by coercion and force if necessary, to the rest of the world how it should conduct its affairs.

    They don’t question, or fact check, the latest claims about the official enemy du jour. Whether the claims are logical or coherent matter not a bit to people like Plague Species and Hugh. They don’t even recognize the rank hypocrisy of the most murderous and human rights abusing state of the post-1945 era lecturing others on matters of human decency.

    As American government and media propaganda shifts its attention from the USSR to Russia, from Tibet to Xinjiang, from Darfur to Syria from Iraq to Iran…Hugh and Plague Species “coincidentally” discover which oppressed foreigners they should “care” about next.

    They will be heartened to learn, I’m sure, that the government of Israel has also discovered that it deeply “cares” about Uyghur Muslims in China.

    It’s especially bizarre to hear people like the aforementioned duo express outrage at Trump or racism in America. If they just go along with whatever their media of choice tells them to think, do they really care or are they just reacting like trained seals to the latest mass media driven propaganda campaigns and confusing defense of their egos with defense of principles they genuinely care about?

    I’m sure they love their families and they may even be kind and considerate people in real life. But their hyperbolic “caring” for the oppressed and downtrodden, whether at home or abroad, is fueled more by media and ego than by genuine concern.

  50. different clue

    As I thought about my last comment up above, it occurred to me to amplify the purely pragmatic side of my speculative question.

    Psycho-cultural and moral-ethical questions aside, what if “assimilating” into Westernistic Moderndustrial Civilization at this particular point in its ongoing Kevorkicide looks to the Indians of today like a Mega Darwin-Award Fail of Epic Proportions? Just for that crudest-of-all-reasons, why would they even consider it?

    ( I’m willing to read any reasons that anyone can offer as to why they might consider it).

  51. different clue

    Well! . . . look at this recent footage of a fire raging on top of the ocean after a Gulf of Mexico oil or maybe gas pipeline ruptured.

    This is quite an . . . umm . . . achievement. You have to admit that it would never have occurred to any of the Indian Nations to start a fire on the surface of the ocean.

  52. Astrid

    I don’t think maintaining meaningful separation from a mainstream society is impossible. The Amish and Mennonites have all been able to maintain their status quo for centuries without getting subsumed by their hosts’ main stream cultures. But they work from a much stronger communal foundation and rule set, and there’s always the danger that at some point, the mainstream society will turn against them because of their differentness, as occurred with Jews in Europe during medieval pograms and of course more recently. Differentness, even when it’s clearly delineated and of no obvious threat to mainstream society, will always be under threat.

  53. Hugh

    The Uighurs illustrate the hypocrisy and double standards of China-apologists and defenders. Oppress and abuse a small minority in Canada or the US –bad. Do so in China and the only bad is in noticing it.

  54. Astrid

    Whereas Hugh cares so much about the Uighurs that he won’t read any interpretation of events that don’t fit the US government’s story, won’t logically think through the plausibility of that story, or recognized that US sanctions and US sponsored color revolutions are extremely harmful even to populations that are living under highly oppressive regimes (which Iran, China, Venezuela, are not, at least compared to US allies like Saudi Arabia, Columbia, and India). In Hugh’s mind, anyone who might recognize that there are multiple sides to every story and the US side is a pack of manufactured lies, is an China apologist.

    Hugh is the worst kind of 19th century, white man’s burden, racist. Can’t be bothered to find out anything about the people he’s so passionately “protecting”.

  55. Ché Pasa

    My point isn’t that ‘we’ ‘need’ to ‘do anything’ with them. They’ll gradually assimilate on their own, because there’s little incentive not to. These are declining cultures. I’m not happy about it, I’m merely observing.

    Wow. Perfect example of late 19th Century/early 20th Century beliefs among the genociders. And it was true at that time Native society was on a steep decline, not only in North America but in many parts of the world almost always due to colonial/settler policies of supression, genocide and extermination. “These cultures are declining. They won’t be here 20-30-50 years hence. The survivors, if there are any, will be assimilated. End of discussion.” You can find similar thoughts and beliefs in text books as recently as the 1960s. It was certain among the academic classes that Native society and culture and most Native peoples would shortly be… gone. (I have an 80+ year old friend in California who sincerely believes that Natives are almost all gone, their societies extinct, and the few pitiful survivors all live in gross poverty on wretched and god-forsaken reservations. It’s not true. Not even close. But no amount of argument or contrary evidence will convince him otherwise. This is what he was taught in school in Iowa, and this is what he believes. End of discussion.)

    The fact is that despite every effort of the dominant colonial/settler society to make Native culture and society disappear, it was unsuccessful. Not all tribes and Native nations are still here, but many are, and they don’t intend to disappear. They don’t intend to be assimilated and absorbed into the dominant culture, either.

    That doesn’t mean they won’t make use of it. And this may be some of where the confusion lies. Natives are not monolithic, they don’t all do and look and behave the same way, they mostly don’t live on reservations, they are spread throughout the dominant society, most do not live the way their ancestors lived (but then, their ancestors didn’t necessarily live the way their ancestors lived), and most are quite capable of using elements of the dominant society for their own purposes. And at the same time, they are able to maintain social and cultural elements special to themselves and their people. My goodness, how can they do it when obviously, they are “assimilated” — or they don’t exist at all?

    How does any minority do it? Hm?

    Not all do, not all will. That doesn’t mean those who do and continue to don’t exist now or won’t exist in the future.

    The logic of the “disappearing Indian” is antiquated and is now absurd.

  56. Soredemos

    @different clue


    I’m not saying they ‘should’ assimilate. I’m saying that it’s largely an inevitable long term outcome because there are many incentives to do it, and little incentive not to.

    As for why anyone would join a culture/civilization that is killing the planet, few people conduct their lives based on large scale thinking like that. Because at the level of the individual all of that is very abstract. Whether industrial civilization is heading for a cliff (actually it’s already over the cliff) doesn’t change the reality that in day to day life there is little incentive to keep up traditions on a backwater reservation, and plenty of reasons to venture out and integrate with the wider world.


    Er, have you missed that Uighur jihadism is closely tied to Uighur nationalism? Saying China needs to be in Xinjiang to combat terrorism that exists because the terrorists want China out of Xinjiang is a bit circular, don’t you think?

    @Ché Pasa

    Look up the declining indigenous language skills of most Native youth. These in fact are cultures in gradual decline, whether you admit it or not.

    But yes, I’m an evil 19th century colonialist racist, okay. What else you got?

  57. Astrid

    Uighur extremism is a teeny portion of the overall populace. Maybe 10,000 jihadis, maybe 10% of the Uighur population is supportive of separatism. Furthermore, it’s not an organic movement but one fueled by Saudi money and ideology, Turkish logistics support and training, and US backing. To say that the Chinese should leave ( and abandon Han, Mongols, and other ethnicities that constitutes about half of Xinjiang’s population to ETIM, a terrorist group that has killed many Uighur and Han people) makes as much sense as saying the US needs to leave Nevada (and let it become a client state of China) because of the Bundys.

  58. Astrid

    All those who say the Chinese need to leave Xinjiang are just saying that the Uighurs deserve to live in Afghanistan and Xinjiang’s non-Uighur population should live like ethnic Russians who used to or something live in Ukraine. This is what you are advocating for. This is why people of China overwhelmingly support the Chinese government, because they know what Western “freedom” actually brings. Ditto Syria. Ditto Iran. Ditto Russia. Ditto Venezuela.Their local governments are far from perfect, their lives may be hard especially if they live with US sanctions. But it’s far better than living in Libya or Idlib.

  59. Willy

    In Iran the condition of womens rights is abysmal. In China when Xi proclaims that nothing shall stand in the way of his belt and road, a million perceived uppity Uyghurs wind up in camps with the rest being techno surveilled. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International gives both Venezuela and Columbia poor marks. Of course India has its caste system. I don’t know why so many Canadian native kids had to die. Hell, if you get off the plane smelling of liquor at the Riyadh airport the odds are you’re going to prison. Imagine being a woman in that place caught drunk driving.

    Not to be outdone, the hypocrisy of the American governments take on “human rights” is about as legendary as its stance on “liberal democracy”, at least when dealing with other nations.

    Why can’t this hypocrisy be seen as being fueled by personal power interests, with all else being part of intentionally deceiving and/or rationalization campaigns driven by all of the respective PTBs?

    I saw the video of a very old looking Dianne Feinstein condescending to school children about their climate change concerns, arrogantly telling them that there’s no money for green deals and that she’s “been doing this a long time”. Her Tahoe vacation house is up for sale for $41 million. Whatever pathology she’s got, seems to be at the root of all of these various problems.

  60. Astrid


    You may acknowledge US situation but you really have no idea what’s happening outside of it. Iranian women are far more educated and capable than than their regional cohorts. They can vote, drive, pursue professional careers, divorce their husbands in certain situations without his consent, attend university in higher proportion than men. Just because the theocratic government impose restrictions on their lives does not mean they don’t have agency over their lives.

    Please an least read this story before you repeat the Uighur imprisonment line. If it’s false, please tell me why you think the US MSM is more credible than this story.

  61. Willy

    First of all and the best I can tell, the Grayzone has a mixed reputation, somewhere between Huff Po and the Epoch Times.

    Secondly, Trump did call for sanctions against China for human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, and then Biden reiterated the same in spite of his Chinese “norms” comment. With guys like that, one usually demands that somebody show them the money. As in, what’s in it for them, their investigative agencies, and most news outlets all saying the same thing? What’s the motive? There always has to be a motive for there to be a crime, right?

    In other news, the masks I got at Costco were reputedly made by Uyghurs. But that’s according the Daily Caller, which has a reputation somewhere between Breitbart and the Epoch Times.

    It sure was a lot easer when Walter Cronkite would say “And that’s the way it is” and you knew damned well that that was the way it was. Today I get most of my news from Dusty Smith, who I suspect is either high and/or drunk during most of his Youtube broadcasts, although he always does seem to back up everything he opines about with actual videos.

    So anybody know why all the Canadian native children died?

  62. Astrid


    Do you have any evidence that The Gray Zone got a major story wrong and didn’t issue a proper correction? The recent Jacob Fauci story was retracted once they realized it was a misidentification, but it seems like a good faith effort from start to finish. Any evidence that they accept money from any foreign government as they’ve been accused if numerous times and they refuted categorically? I read a good chunk of their stories now and they make sense to me. They seem intended truthful and I have not seen any good debunking of their stories, just a lot of groundless smears and guilt by association.

    If you have information that actually brings Gray Zone reporting into question, please share it. Otherwise it just sounds like another baseless drive by smear + dismissal.

    Also, did you never ask yourself where are the video evidence of Xinjiang oppression, as we’ve seen for Gaza, Kashmir, and Columbia?

  63. Astrid

    If you want to be a cynic all around, why repeat MSM lies? Why repeat their lies for them for free? At least get them to pay you a good hourly consulting fee for repeating their official line.

  64. capelin

    It’s much simpler than all this abstract condescension.

    Settlers stole the land, within recent, recorded history, from existing nations.

    Settler society and individuals continue to acrue the benefits of that theft, and the ongoing repression.

    For example, in Canada, the continuation of the residential schools is that an indigenous child in care receives 63 cents for every dollar spent on a non-native child in care. And current gov’s have spent millions in court fighting to block change. Check out Cindy Blackstock on this.

    WHAT DO THE INDIGENOUS WANT is the question. How do they want to handle this going forward.

    That’s the starting point.

    Kind of a paradign shift, eh?

  65. Willy

    Do you have any evidence that The Gray Zone got a major story wrong and didn’t issue a proper correction?
    No, because I’ll need to book my flight to Urumqi first, which’ll have to be after I’m done with my Chinese language, undercover reporting, spycraft and tech surveillance classes. Getting actual eyewitness reporting from on the ground is the only way we’ll know for sure. We’ll discuss this again in several years, if I’m able to return.

    Otherwise it just sounds like another baseless drive by smear + dismissal.
    How do I know that disregarding a widely held opinion by many credible-sounding experts and reporters and all their videos isn’t just another baseless drive by smear + dismissal? Uh oh. Sounds like a standoff to me.

    Also, did you never ask yourself where are the video evidence of Xinjiang oppression, as we’ve seen for Gaza, Kashmir, and Columbia?
    You provide video evidence of Zinjiang non-oppression first. Otherwise, I’m here to figure out why the native children died under the watch of the Catholic church.

    If you want to be a cynic all around, why repeat MSM lies?
    Okay, I hereby take back what I said about the Uyghurs. Not too long ago I thought they were just a buncha diehard Chinese Nintendo fans (Wii-gurs, get it?). Big media is after all, owned by just a handful of giant corporations in the pocket of other giant corporations.

    I’m actually only a cynic about certain types of people, and certain other people under certain types of circumstances. Everybody else is usually pretty cool, mostly.

  66. Plague Species

    Settler society and individuals continue to acrue the benefits of that theft, and the ongoing repression.

    Yes, all the down and out homeless need to cough up. Afterall, they are part of Settler Society. Same goes for all the Settler Society folks living on the margins. You need to cough up. Pay for your sins. You murdered the Native Americans afterall and stole their land. Now it’s time to pay even if you can’t.

  67. Ché Pasa

    Ms. Ché’s cousin was a scholar and Native linguist who wrote a definitive dictionary of their tribe’s language and taught the language to young people until his passing last year. It’s true that Elders fluent in Native languages are passing quickly — last year was terrible, so many Elder speakers lost to the COVID — but many tribes and Native nations have maintained the language and have extensive teaching facilities in local schools, camps, online and by other means. Some Native languages have faded out, it’s true, but others are strong and growing.

    The thing that gets me is that some people (perhaps with an agenda?) look at one end of the spectrum and assume or confidently state “that’s all there is,” and it’s bullshit.

    As a side note, in New Mexico, in addition to English and Spanish, we hear Native languages all the time. Primarily Navajo (Diné) but not exclusively. Hopi and Tewa too. Not just among people we know but also on the radio and on television. Many, maybe most Natives in this region speak or understand their own languages, English, and Spanish, and it’s not such a big deal, not like it is with Anglos who still resist learning or speaking any language but English. If you learn when you’re young, it’s easy to be multi-lingual. When you’re older, it’s harder, but it’s not impossible at all.

    Because of the multiplicity of Indigenous languages in the Americas before colonization by Europeans, I’m sure many, if not most, of the First Peoples in this land spoke and understood a variety of languages and considered it quite natural to do so. For whatever reason, the Anglo and Spanish colonizers and settlers did not. They insisted that only their own languages be learned and spoken and tried to force Natives to speak and understand only English or only Spanish, and luckily by now many people understand what an idiotic policy that was and is.

    No, not every kid in Native societies is learning their own language, but more are than was the case not that long ago.

  68. Astrid


    What the hell. It’s not my job to prove a negative. The Gray Zone article I linked to debunked the number, debunked the specific stories of several prominent separatists. More evidence of people living normal lives can still be dismissed as propaganda or what the abuse is hidden. Even China state TV finding relatives of separatists reported missing but were living their lives, “camps” that are actually schools and factories, and BBC video claiming “sterilization” footage showing old people attending a health clinic, are not good enough for western MSM. But here we go:

    If you want to go through a bazillion Bilibili videos of people traveling and eating their way through Xinjiang, have at it.新疆. But I have a family that I usually like and a job completely unrelated to China that pays me twice a month. I’ve been neglecting both a bit too much recently.

  69. Willy

    Whenever I Google, Duckduckgo, or Bing: “proof of Uyghur repression” + videos, I find many personal testimonies. What’s the motive for all these people making up these lies?

  70. Astrid

    Because it’s easier to find liars who can be motivated by NED money than create convincing fake videos of Xinjiang repression. (Though they try, footage from Turkey and elsewhere outside of China had been used and debunked).

    See these two videos for an example.

  71. Astrid

    Also, Google and YouTube clearly hard or soft censor a lot of this content. I had a really hard time finding a lot of videos I’ve seen with actual interview footage. That’s why I linked to Bilibili even though it’s not a site I usually use.

  72. Willy

    There’s possibility and then there’s plausibility. For some people they’re the same thing. For me not so much. For me stuff has to jibe. Stuff has to fit together with all the adjacent pieces when viewed from all the multiple angles. The completed puzzle can’t look like a stubborn little kid used a hammer to fit mismatched pieces together. It can’t look like climate change denier tried to put together a simple kid puzzle either.

    I’m fully aware that every good and well-intentioned organization can be coopted by nefariousness. I’m fully aware that any good and well-intentioned organization can have its leaders bought.

    Which brings us to NED, which seems to have started out somewhat questionably already. So what’s the motive for this NED of which we speak?

  73. capelin

    Plague Species wrote:

    Settler society and individuals continue to acrue the benefits of that theft, and the ongoing repression.

    Yes, all the down and out homeless need to cough up. Afterall, they are part of Settler Society. Same goes for all the Settler Society folks living on the margins. You need to cough up. Pay for your sins. You murdered the Native Americans afterall and stole their land. Now it’s time to pay even if you can’t.

    And there it is, the bombastic white straw argument. Usually it’s “well we can’t all give all the land back where would we go whaaaa! so therefore nothing can be done case closed”.

    At least you wrapped a little faux homeless concern in with it.

    I have never heard an Indigenous person float anything like this, but it’s the default spew from most settlers.

  74. Ché Pasa

    The notion that the funds for restitution and restoration of what was stolen from the Native Peoples of North America has to come out of someone else’s pocket is nonsense.

    The money needed is already available and will be for the foreseeable future. No one is the less because of it.

    As Ian points out, it’s a matter of priorities. Governments can allocate money (that governments create, out of “nothing”) as they see fit. They don’t have to take it from anyone else.

  75. Willy

    Let’s assume that NED meddles in the internal affairs of numerous foreign countries and organizations to “keep the labor agitation down … don’t rock the status-quo boat”.

    Let’s assume that under the guise of supporting democracy, NED is actually in the business of destabilizing entire governments and organizations for the sake of the power and profits of a handful of plutocrats.

    Let’s assume that NED needs to smear the Chinese government as oppressors of the Uyghurs, and has enough influence to make media organizations as disparate as Fox News, MSNBC, the Daily Sun, Guardian, Washington Post, Washington Times, Voice of America, South China Times…, as well as multiple human rights groups, as well as disparate government officials including Trump and Biden, to all hire expert actors to play the part of mistreated Uyghurs.

    That’s one helluva massive hoax, likely involving thousands of players and millions of dollars.

    So what’s the motive? Why expend all that effort to try and destabilize a China which is so critical to enhancing the power and profits of the handful of plutocrats who also fund NED?

  76. Plague Species

    The notion that the funds for restitution and restoration of what was stolen from the Native Peoples of North America has to come out of someone else’s pocket is nonsense.

    It DOESN’T have to, but it does. That’s the way THIS system works. Let me know when another system materializes. IN THIS system, the wealthy elite pay for nothing. Instead, they get everything. What is and what should and could be are two entirely different things.

  77. Plague Species

    I have never heard an Indigenous person float anything like this, but it’s the default spew from most settlers.

    Engage in Asian Hate much? Smearing American Koreans with the “Settler” label is a form of prejudice and thus a hate crime in some circles.

    Who gets the “Settler” label versus who doesn’t? Anyone who is an American citizen who has less than 7% Native American DNA?

  78. Astrid


    Because Chinese industrial power and companies have become powerful enough to challenge the US backed multinationals that profited greatly from China’s”rise” but are now threatened by its “arrival”. It’s also a good opportunity for the MIC to fearmonger and sell their overpriced and nearly useless weapons. Sure there are a lot of companies that still want to continue normal relationships with China, but right now the sanctions aren’t really affecting them much and they’re a much more diffuse interest group. Think about why universal public healthcare is not available despite been proven to be more effective and far cheaper than the US system. That’s one instance of a small portion of the event holding the rest of us hostage. Even if most Americans and American corporate interests want to normalize (they may not, since corporate interests are nowadays more about rentiering than growth) with China, the MIC and the blob will do everything it can to keep China down or at least as Murika’s enemy du jour.

    The Blob has been on a warpath for 30 years, it started tentatively in the Balkans and Horn of Africa, then Iraq and Afghanistan, then was supposed to isolate and weaken Russia and China by either turning (Ukraine) or destroying (Syria) their allies. The fact that they destabilized and destroyed lives for terms of tens, maybe hundreds, of millions of people doesn’t bother the blob in DC. I’ve interacted with some of these people, not on China but just socially and occasionally for work. The way they abstract flesh and blood people into”adversary”, “asset”, “advantage”, “setbacks” is chilling. The fury that the week credentialed preppies of The Gray Zone tear into the Blob is an anger I feel. I understand the need for policy makers to have some detachment from their subjects, but often what I see is no understanding and not really masked contempt of their subjects as people. I grew up with this cohort and most are nice people who want to do good things with their lives. That they’re mostly serving Manon in someway (so am I, really, just not nearly as directly) and don’t fully realize it or do realize it but feel like they have no other choice, is really sad.

    You don’t need actors or much of a budget to pull off the Uighur genocide story. Just a few liars and malcontents as you will find in any population, give them money and logistical support and an unquestioning media. Make sure all the editors rush their bright young things or “stars” aka embedded spooks who will write up any lie told by their unnamed sources, to publish the unvetted sensational claims. Then cite to each other’s unvetted stories as vetting, while strenuously ignoring actual footage and reporting countering their narrative as fake news, old news, or no news.

    Just look at the blackout on the Assange prosecution and OPCW faked chemical attack stories. Once the PTB had a compliant media that’s in the control of a few deep state tied billionaires and killed off the few independent agencies that got the Iraq WMD story right, they can use it to spin their stories ( which might even occasionally be truthful) on any topic they like.

    Just pay off a few Uighurs who will lie for money, are motivated by Saudi funded fundamentalism and Turkey funded Turkic nationalism, or who just hate China or fellow Uighurs for whatever reason, then have a totally uncredentialed analyst make eyepoping claims based on misreading Chinese reports and finding camps on Google maps, and they’re ready to go.

  79. Astrid

    Also, the plutocrats don’t personally fund the NED, the US taxpayer or the US printing press does. That’s the thing about our oligarchs. Not only are they vile and brutal, but they’re also cheap as hell and never willing to pick up the check for anything. The only thing they will spend money on is grooming and buying off the cheap clown politicians, for which they expect a 10,000% return after the portfolio gets into office. For the rest of us, they’ll demand that we buy the bullets for our own execution, as we see with Biden’s infrastructure plan.

  80. Willy

    I once worked in an office for a large manufacturing company. I’d occasionally visit an in-law who also worked there as a shop floor assembler. His job looked like easy money. Low stress, not mentally or physically taxing, with good pay and union benefits. I asked him how he got so lucky. He pointed and said “I used to work over there.” I looked over there and saw dozens of guys working their asses off doing an obviously very difficult job. “Most guys only last a year over there. And it’s hard to transfer out. I want to retire from this company. So I found a way to get away from over there, and now I’m here.”

    It’s not hard to imagine a reporter interviewing employees, getting two completely different attitudes. Reporter #1 interviews my in-law who says “It’s a pretty good job for a pretty good company”. Reporter #2 interviews somebody from “over there” who says: “It’s a goddamn hellhole. Not only do they work you to death, they psychologically torture you by surrounding you with all these losers doing easy jobs with no way to transfer.”

    Make sense? Why call thousands of people liars when it risks making you look like yet another loud and proud conspiracy theorist to be ignored? Concerning the Uyghurs, why not just state the plausibly obvious? Depending on how they’re being managed on an individual level, some Uyghurs don’t mind their situation, while others hate it. And then the PTB, media or otherwise, are free to cherry pick whatever opinions they wish proclaiming that to be the whole truth.

    Black and white thinking with one side always right and the other side always wrong will come back to bite you. Such thinking will always be used skillfully by those whose highest competency involves doing exactly that.

    Just because the CCP elites outfoxed the greedy American capitalist elites to where now the student is surpassing the master, doesn’t mean they aren’t themselves, every bit as authoritarian-elite as any other concentration of elite power has ever been in all of human history. I say that every concentration of unchecked power always winds up the same way – self-serving and oblivious to their masses. And they’ll always cherry pick whatever facts to keep things that way.

  81. Astrid


    Okay, you showed your cards. No amount of information provide is actually going to get looked at or make you reexamine your views, which are formed by the three things you constantly refer back to – your childhood experienced of standing up to bullies, your old company’s terrible hollowing out by psychopaths at the top, and your corrupt brother in law busting out a good clinic for profit. Those are interesting information that helped inform my view of the world, but you seem fixed at those three points in time.

    I’m not going to convince you to actually look at any of the information I dug up to respond to you. I was never saying the Chinese are presenting the full picture or that they are altruistic, in fact I have said that they are not.
    I am simply asking your to look at evidence that the American line you are repeating had been debunked so please stop repeating the proven lies. To me the evidence clearly present a story there is a mostly right and lawful side and a completely evil side, as in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, etc, the US is on the evil side.

    You will always come up with something and not change your mind, no matter what kind of evidence you’re presented with. I’ve finally learned my lesson and will stop eating both of our times. Honestly I have a far easier time with the MAGA cousin in-laws I spent my weekend with than liberals.

  82. Willy

    My time is extremely limited. People need to tease me with their very best right from the get go to get me to invest precious time slogging through hour long videos and reads. Been there done that. Too many times, whenever I’ve raised questions and concerns about such videos and reads, I’ve been met with idiotic shaming just because my cognitive bias and closure needs don’t precisely align with their own. Those kinds of neurosis I can do without.

    But since you claim to prefer the company of MAGAs over liberals (however the hell you define them both), maybe amusing myself at your expense henceforth is showing promise as an efficient way to spend my free time?

  83. Astrid

    Willy, you’re not too busy to waste my time asking for evidence that you were never going to consider. Or repeat America’s line on Uighur genocide long after you been made that there’s an alternate story. Sounds like you just enjoy fucking with me. Well congratulations asshole, I’ve been had. You “win”.

    No, my MAGA cousins would never be so ungracious. They also made their money building a successful business from scratch, so I have had plenty of interesting conversations with them. They have interests beyond obsessive hatred of one man or one country.

  84. capelin

    Plague Species wrote:

    I have never heard an Indigenous person float anything like this, but it’s the default spew from most settlers.

    Engage in Asian Hate much? Smearing American Koreans with the “Settler” label is a form of prejudice and thus a hate crime in some circles.
    Who gets the “Settler” label versus who doesn’t? Anyone who is an American citizen who has less than 7% Native American DNA?

    Now the Strawmen are Gish-Galloping.

    I was speaking with a friend last night about the whole Landback thing, and he said, a fellow at his work had said, “Time to get serious about this. Start with giving all the crown (gov owned) land back.”

    And that, to me, is a very logical place to start.

  85. capelin

    My friend and his buddy are grunts at a flooring company. And that’s the conversations they’re having.

    It’s been a long time building, but something has finally cracked open in the Canadian consiousness.

    First Nations have been slowly healing, building their numbers, clawing back their political and economic power, and communicating clearly for decades; then, thousands? of dead kids in unmarked graves across the country (confirmed – it was an open secret, but “easy” to not think about).

    The PTB and racist folks scared of change can try to minimize that, but it’s not going to work near as good as it did before.

  86. Plague Species

    And that, to me, is a very logical place to start.

    Go ahead, start then already. Calling us Settlers is not a start. It’s a deflection. Should you “start” manifest, it won’t fyi, make sure that land is used productively considering the topic of the latest post. It begs the question, is operating a casino on First Nations land productive, let alone constructive? Is tar sands oil production productive and constructive? Fleecing tourists with sh*t no one needs and playing “Indian,” is that productive and constructive? Or is it undignified and pathetic?

  87. Plague Species

    They have interests beyond obsessive hatred of one man or one country.

    Oh, I’m sure they do. I’m also sure if you were as forthright with them as you are with us, you wouldn’t be speaking so fondly of them or sharing much time with them.

    Yes, they hate MANY men and women and many countries rather than just one of each. They particularly hate women who have abortions and don’t carry rape children to term.

    Did you discuss the Wuhan Lab Leak possibility with them? Vaccine efficacy? Whether the whole COVFEFE-45 thing is a psyops hoax perpetrated by the New World Order and Agenda 21? Dr. Seuss? The long overdue Wall McDonald promised yet never delivered but maybe he will during his second term to come?

  88. Soredemos


    Grayzone is pretty variable in quality, though to ever compare it to Epoch Times is pretty hyperbolic. Basically, Max Blumenthal has variable credibility (he’s good on the GOP and on Israel, not so much on much else), Ben Norton has zero credibility (the episode where he destroyed an ex-pat living in Hong Kong’s life by smearing him as a foreign agent provocateur is a particular low point. Norton wasn’t even doing new reporting, just regurgitating other people’s work), and Aaron Mate has high credibility, except on Syria, where he seems to be mostly just trusting in his colleagues narrative and following along with it. I’d encourage anyone to watch the interview he did with Robert Ford. Ford ultimately comes across as filled with imperial hubris, but he kind of also makes a fool of Mate and severely undermines the narrative that the US intentionally supplied and funded jihadists for the purposes of destroying Syria. Syria was more complex than that, and its dismemberment was ultimately a Turkish, Qatari, and (to a lesser extent) Saudi project, with the US attempting to counter balance these and to pressure Assad to negotiate his own loss of power by supplying, yes, ‘moderate rebels’ (who really did exist, and still do to a very limited extent).

    Grayzone is in the orbit of what I call the Moon of Alabama crowd (though, hilariously, b of MOA seems to kind of hate them. He’s correctly pointed out that Blumenthal, Norton, and Khalek were all supporters of the Syrian revolution before, for whatever reason, they found it convenient to turn against it. Which would be defensible if they acknowledged this and said their opinions changed, but instead they tried to purge the internet of their past positions). The stance of sites like MOA is basically a kind of inverted or nega version of American exceptionalism, where nothing can happen anywhere in the world without it being a CIA engineered plot. In this thinking no else has any agency, and domestic factors don’t exist. The citizens of other countries are basically just idiot children, sitting around waiting for a white man from Langley to organize them into a ‘fake color revolution’.

    (It was MOA’s de facto support for the Myanmar coup and the way it instantly jumped to claiming opposition to it was foreign engineered that finally drove me to jump off the bandwagon. b only has one tool, a hammer, and everything is a nail to him).

  89. Astrid


    Can you point to that Hong Kong expat story?From what I’ve read from The Gray Zone, the stories seem largely credible though I haven’t gone out of my way to do fact check. I am concerned about facts, not ideology. They are strongly anti-imperialist, so they tend to minimize oppression and corruption on the other side. But I haven’t found glaringly wrong information and in know how to account for the biase (and admittedly, am sympathetic just because the badness of the other side tend to be a tiny fraction of Western imperialist badness). If they covered stories using false or grossly misleading facts, I would rather know even if I’m sympathetic to TGZ ideologically.

    I have to say that I’m not at all sympathetic to the HK ” pro-democracy” movement. I used to be 10-20 years ago, but found their rhetoric to be xenophobic bordering on racist against mainland Chinese, Indians, and SE Asians. The funding source and support seems to come from specific groups that benefit from less mainland oversight (billionaires who want to continue their stranglehold over portions of the HK economy, barristers who can only work in a British common law system).

    The specifics of 2019 protests also look really bad, as it’s against a law to permit extradition of criminals and the protesters were violent and targeted mainland Chinese and pro-China locals for harm. No functional government would tolerate that kind of behavior for months after months. I think that’s why it stopped receiving much coverage after late 2019, HK is too much of a known quantity for the kind of wildly false coverage that is possible for Uighur “genocide” story.

  90. Astrid

    Now TGZ’s Myanmar story did raise my eyebrows. I know local conditions and geopolitics gets complicated, but that is a place where being reflectively anti-imperialist can get you in trouble and lose credibility.

  91. capelin

    Excellent interview today on CBC “The Current” with Perry Bellegarde;

    One point that stood out for me is that the TRC (Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission) formally noted the existence of and need to investigate unmarked graves at residential schools across the country, 6 years ago, in their 2015 report, which can be found here;

    For an America’s-wide historical overview, I recommend “A Long and Terrible Shadow” by Thomas Berger

  92. Astrid

    I have heard Max mention in recent interviews that he supported the anti-Assadists before the Jihadis stepped in. My impression is that they are pro leftist movements in any country, but once US or its allies step in, they prefer the local despot to whatever the US wants to install.

    Aaron mentioned of his latest visit that he talked to people who were anti-Assadists until they saw what the “moderate rebels” were doing. In addition, TGZ broke the OPCW fake gas attack story. It seems pretty reasonable for them to change sides and recognize that Assad is the less bad side. They don’t talk about the negatives of the Assad regime but they don’t pretend that it doesn’t exist, just that it’s much better for most Syrians than the US proffered alternative.

    You talk about complexity of Syria but neglect to mention the Syria was allied to Russia and hosts millions of Palestinian refugees. This wasn’t just a Turkey and Gulf Arab project with grudging US involvement. It has Israel’s fingerprints all over it. Given TGZ’s position on Israel and Palestinians, it seems pretty obvious why they were sympathetic to an intact Syrian state, versus what US and it’s allies wanted to do.

  93. Astrid

    It’s this the incident you’re thinking of? It credits Max as author, but that’s the one I can find any trace of.

    If it is and there was clear evidence tying this guy to the Chinese online identity, I have no problem with this fabulist getting outed. It’s not a victimless crime to lie in a manner calculated to inflame hostilities in another country. You speak as though the color revolution in Ukraine, the US abetted right wing takeovers in Latin America, and near coup in Turkey and Belarus didn’t happen.

    Russia-gate was about alleged Russian meddling by disclosing truthful information, here it was lies. What’s wrong with unmasking the liar in this instance?

  94. Plague Species

    You talk about complexity of Syria but neglect to mention the Syria was allied to Russia and hosts millions of Palestinian refugees.

    Assad is a scumbag and the CIA is a malevolent, evil organization that serves as global enforcer for the wealthy elite and their multi-national corporations.

    I have no dog in this fight whatsoever. They’re ALL scumbags who deserve equal opprobrium. Assad gassing his own people may well be false, but we know for a fact he abused his own people, those he determined to be enemies, by virtue of the fact Syria was the go-to torturer for victims of rendition. He also was happy to abuse and torture for hire those who were not his people. And then the snake he was dancing with bit him. Boo f*cking hoo.

    For Syrians, the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, commonly known as the “CIA Torture Report,” are not surprising. They have long known about the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program to their country, which resulted in the CIA sending several suspected terrorists to Syria, despite well-founded knowledge of the Assad regime’s widespread use of torture.

    A 2013 report by the Open Society Justice Initiative found Syria to be “one of the most common destinations for rendered suspects” with deplorable detention conditions and practices. Nine men – some of whom remain unaccounted for – were extraordinarily rendered to Syria through the program, including Maher Arar, a dual Canadian and Syrian citizen detained by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in New York City in 2002.

    Instead of being handed over to Canadian officials, Arar was accused of ties to Al-Qaeda and sent to Syria where he claims that he was immediately arrested, blindfolded, and sent to a detention center. Repeatedly beaten and tortured, he remained in captivity for over a year. Canada later apologized and settled out of court with Arar, but both Canada and the U.S. continue to insist that Arar’s case was one of deportation and not extraordinary rendition. Since the CIA Torture Report was released, Arar has been active on Twitter, calling for the U.S. to address its moral culpability for the torture violations rather than merely acknowledging their occurrence.

  95. Soredemos


    Yes, that’s the story. He wasn’t a ‘fabulist’. His identity was well known among Hong Kong activists. Kong Tsung-gan was a nom de plume (also his avatar was not of an ‘unknown Asian person’ as TGZ claims; it was a picture of one of the Tienanmen square student leaders). Hong Kong has a long history of adopting enthusiastic expats. There’s literally nothing in the story to indicate he was anything other than someone who fell in love with the city and moved there. He’d lived in Hong Kong for a decade with his family. Last I read he had fled after TGZ shat out their hit piece, where they’re effectively accusing him of being a CIA agent because he once worked for Amnesty International.

  96. Astrid


    Going to have to strongly disagree. Firstly, it sounds like you don’t actually find TGZ not credible, you just did not like their angle. Missing a minor detail about the avatar for isn’t false, though it’s a bit surprising that their local informants didn’t fill them in on the information.

    His identity might be known amongst going Kong activists, but it’s a false representation of what he is. He had multiple identities and was assuming the roles of being a local and bring a Mainlanders, when he was neither.

    He was coordinating these protests against the Hong Kong government. Protests that by
    August of 2020, were becoming violent and destructive. There are videos of them beating and intimidating Mainlanders, the police, people who disagrees with them. Why is he entitled to anonymity when he was lying to the public about his identity and encouraging violent sedition against his host city?

    As for whether he is a CIA agent or not. I suspect not directly, but I’ve seen this play out way to many times in Latin America and in the Ukraine. What he was doing is not harmless. People have gotten hurt. And he’s not entitled to stay in a city whose government he wants to overthrow.

  97. Astrid

    Whatever I think of a local government, I am at the point when I am always opposed to US intervention. It’s always disasterous for the locals and perpetuates in decades of terribleness without the ability to rebalance or self heal. And you always find out that it’s never about human rights but because the US wants something or do something against someone.

    If the locals of Hong Kong wants to fight the Chinese, they can do it on their own. They can figure out a way to reach an accommodation with the CPC, or they can all go claim refugee status in the UK or US or Australia. But once they accept US logistics and financial help, they are agents for the US and acting against the local government and peoples. They are traitors. I see no problem with exposing traitors and their helpers for what they are. And there’s enough bad Amnesty International takes that I would readily believe that this guy is being supported by NED tied NGOs.

  98. Astrid

    I think this is a consistent stand for me. I would not tolerate Russian or Chinese agents supporting Occupy or BLM ( to state two movements that I actually support) or QANON. If I was actually a Chinese agent, if I previously worked for CGTN or Xinhua, and especially if I was regularly providing high visibility support to anti-US movements, I would have no grounds to complain if I was exposed as such.

  99. Astrid

    As it is, I know everytime I post my opinion online, I am subject to risk of discovery and in the current neo-mccarthyite environment, anything outside of tiny Overton Window that constitutes US political discourse could get me fired and ostracized. I do it because I hope the actual risks are low since I’m not posting on actually seditious actions and because Ian would keep my information in confidence.

    So if that’s all you got on Ben and Max, I guess I’m not going to stop reading them yet. This seems like not a breach of trust at all, compared to all the MSM overt lying and lying by omission.

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