Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CTV will help Fascist China Stick-It-To Tibetan Resistance and Smother Foreign Outrage

Fascist China is flipping out. Senior party cadres have been bursting blood vessels, appalled by the audacity of the "Dalai Clique" to resist Chinese authority. The Tibetans were ordered to "surrender" or die. Those who did "surrender" and now they are being tortured for the names of their friends before being shipped off to Chinese labour camps. Their families are unlikely to see them again. Most will join the "disappeared" of previous generations.

Yesterday the Chinese embassy in Canberra offered Australia some Chinese soldiers to protect the Olympic torch from angry Tibetan supporters. The Chinese, ever obsessed with symbolism, are terrified that a protester might manage to seize and be photographed with the Torch. (Beijing would interpret that simple act of protest as a national defeat, equivalent to the Vietnamese landing troops in the Spratly Islands.) The Aussies, politely... declined, noting that Australian citizens have the right to protest unmolested.
The Olympic Torch Run was a state sponsored spectacle created by Nazi sports officials for the 1936 Olympiad. It was intended to promote the image of the Third Reich. The intensity of the P.R.C.'s emotional investment in their 2008 torch run is scary. The "Great China" brand of national fervor is reminscinent of what we saw in Berlin 72 years ago.

Vancouver is off of Beijing's list, completely. No torch run for us... there are too many Falun Gung dogs living in Vancouver for the Chinese political taste. Our cops won't cooperate with Beijing and bust the heads of Falun Gung protesters, as the Olympic hosts are certainly preparing to do this summer, on the vast concrete wastes of Tiananmen Square.

The PLA moves in, Saturday March 15th. These are ZSL92 infantry fighting vehicles, armed with 25 mm cannon. Just the thing for riot suppression. Why China would deploy amphibious AFVs to mountainous Tibet (note the twin outboard props on the rear) is another matter.


CENSORSHIP of course, is not new to "official" Olympics coverage. Our state owned broadcaster, for decades, shamelessly censored Olympics television coverage, and no CBC manager or techie has ever been punished for it. A case in point... hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese Canadians got their collective faces slapped every single time they watched the opening ceremonies via CBC stations. They covered the arrival of teams from every rinky-dink African pest hole, from every sweaty Pacific coconut atoll, but blacked out countries which Ottawa disfavours. I've seen many Taiwanese-Canadian families strain their eyes, hold their collective breath, waiting intently for the briefest glimpse of the Taiwan team in the ceremonial parade of athletes. That tiny privilege has ALWAYS been denied them. At the behest of the Chinese fascists, CBC techies would cut away to an advertisement or some inane announcement.

CTV as the "official" Olympics broadcaster, will be no better. We can expect full, slavish CTV compliance with PRC editorial demands on broadcast feed. Chinese security personnel are assigned to dog every foreign broadcast technician and sports journo, and there will be no mistakes tolerated. Indeed as Canadian "journalism" is represented in China by the likes of meat puppet Brian Williams, we can be certain that Beijing's propaganda triumph will be greater than Hitler's Nazi Olympiad of 1936.

If you can't strike a blow for Tibetan freedom, you can BOYCOTT CTV's coverage of the 2008 Fascist Olympics.

Not convinced that the Olympics are an over massaged, censored, piece of info-tainment? Consider this. When was the last time you enjoyed watching the Olympic shooting events? Shooting events?! Does anyone remember the disgraceful treatment of Linda Thom by the CBC in 1984 at Los Angeles? Her crime was to excel in a sport that the CBC has never considered to be a sport and did not like to cover. Thom was to compete in the Ladies 25 meter pistol match.

How significant was Linda Thom's win? She won Canada’s first gold medal at the 1984 Olympic Games, and did so at 4:30 pm on the first day of competition. It was the first gold medal win by a Canadian since 1968 AND our first female gold medal since 1928. Canadians did not see Thom's moment of triumph. She was on her own, because CBC didn't schedule coverage of shooting events. Most Canadians don't even know that the Olympics includes events like sport pistol and shotgun skills. The CBC doesn't even have video of Linda Thom competing in 1984! Canadian Gold medalist in pistol shooting , Linda Thom and her coach Joe Liota after her win in Los Angeles, 1984.

Contrast if you will, Canadian domestic tastes in competitive sports to those of the Chinese. The Chinese put great emphasis on shooting and plan to gun down all competition. Pun intended.The Beijing 2008 Shooting Venue. Expect the Chinese to sweep all the medals. Many of their "athletes" are serving security personnel.

Chinese gold medalist Tao Luna will win gold again in 2008. CanadiansWILL watch her performance because China will insist. For the first time Canadians will be watching Olympic shooting events. Should Linda Thom be offered a job as a CTV commentator, or will we have to listen to Brian Williams pretend he has been following Olympics shooting all these thirty years? My vote says Lying Brian.

And, oh yeah. In case anyone wants to lecture me about whether China is "fascist" or "communist," all I can say is that the world has changed, but Canadian high school textbooks have not. China has a mixed economy with more millionaires than Canada can boast, and it transitioned to private ownership of real property years ago. [95% of Canada's national territory is state owned, while China is fast approaching a larger proportion of its national territory passing into private hands.] China's inhabitants privately pay for their own health care and education and are permitted foreign travel. They live in a one party state, which is protected by a heavily armed security apparatus. They seized neighboring territory, such as Tibet, and covet further territory like Taiwan. That, boys and girls is fascism. If you can't assimilate those facts and react to it, then the peace loving Tibetan people and their culture are DOOMED.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Old Books - Sometimes the past owner is more interesting than the book

I think it's a fairly common practice among bibliophiles to devote a few moments to Googling the name of an author previously unknown to us, or perhaps to check the name of previous owner of the book if we sense a story. If you buy enough books you cannot help encountering interesting ephemera once used to mark a page or affinity items which relate somehow to a previous owner's enjoyment of their book. Occasionally I do buy a volume knowing that I intend to research its provenance.

This morning I purchased a book which teased three of my interests - Poetry, African history and World War II. The book is OTHER MEN'S FLOWERS, (1944) an anthology prepared by Field Marshal Viscount A.P. Wavell while he was serving in India. I was interested in the selection of war poetry which Wavell favored, as well as his anecdotes about sharing verse with Churchill and Allenby. Ian Jack wrote a marvelous backgrounder on the Wavell book for The Guardian in 2005. He even quotes the publisher's wounding rejection letter.

The previous owner had used her copy as a repository, and that was a bonus because it promised to reveal a bit of her life experience if I cared to press. I got a bit carried away - investing at least two hours researching the photos, clippings and her annotations. Writing this short Blog completes my learning experience.

Verna Mabel Finlayson of Galiano Island signed the flyleaf in 1945 and later added a bookplate. Galiano is found in the Georgia Strait, a body of water which is currently under consideration for renaming as "the Salish Sea". Her pencil annotations and mementos hinted that she might have lost a son in WW II. Further, following the war she had corresponded with a Catholic Priest in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and probably involved herself in fundraising for church missions.A Catalina flying boat arriving at Sullom Voe in the Shetlands, after a mission hunting German U-Boats. Many Canadians flew from the busy Flying Boat harbour.

U-Boat hunters in the North Sea : Within a few moments I learned that she had indeed lost a son, Flight Sergeant John Norman Gilbert Finlayson, R.C.A.F., killed in 1943. The sergeant was seconded to the R.A.F. and serving with 190 Squadron when he died. His parents were living on Galiano Island at the time of his death but Sgt. Finlayson had been born in the old gold mining town of Wells, B.C. The Province of B.C. honoured the airman in 1955 by naming a peak after him - Mount Finlayson.

I wanted to know more. Fortunately the details of the wartime crash were accessible. I learned that Sgt. Finlayson was one of nine crew aboard a Catalina, a "flying boat" based at Sullom Voe, in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Their mission was convoy protection and duty often required long flights searching for German U-Boats inside the immense ocean triangle formed by the Shetlands, Iceland and Murmansk, Russia. On April 22, 1943 Finlayson's Catalina flew into a sheer cliff at the head of a Fjord in the Faeroe Islands and the compacted wreckage fell to the base of the wall.

A rescue party from 9th Field Hospital, Torshavn in the Faeroe Islands was dispatched by fishing boat but there were no survivors at the wreck site. It took three days to extricate the bodies and the unexploded depth charges. Sgt. Finlayson and the others are buried in the cemetery at Torshavn. The book of poetry constitutes a memorial of sorts in that Mrs. Finlayson underlined and annotated lines of verse. In Rudyard Kipling's poem "My Boy Jack" she found meaning in: Then hold your head up all the more, ... he was the son you bore, And gave to that wind and that tide! The B.C. mother gave particular attention to a more famous poem. It is "An Irish Airman Forsees His Death," by W.B. Yeats. She underlined only one of Yeat's lines, "Those that I guard I do not love". In the margin she added, "John wrote this in his log book Apr/41". And so two years before his death the Canadian airman sought inspiration or comfort in verse, pondering his future and his fate. His grieving mother later clipped Binyon's verse "They shall Not Grow Old" from a Vancouver paper, and taped it inside the back cover.

The White Fathers in Northern Rhodesia: An equally interesting story derives from a photo preserved in the book. On the back is a message written in tiny, neat handwriting and signed Father H. Marsan, W.F. I spent only an hour at it, but learned more about him than is suitable for a Blog article. No doubt I will learn more when I consult the Africana section of my library. "White Fathers" seemed an unfortunate and paternalistic name for a Missionary Order working in Africa, but it is nothing sinister. They took their name from the white cassock they wear, a pactical garment in Algiers where the Order was founded in 1868.

Quebec born Father Henri Marsan with three local Catholic priests at Fort Rosebery. He chose Africa and served over fifty years as a teaching missionary in what is now Zambia.

It seems that postwar Mrs. Finlayson gave her time to charitable work on behalf of foreign missions. Father Marsan sent her Christmas greetings in December of 1952, adding an envelope " containing small souvenirs, but large enough to bring a smile". Lost to us is a copy of his annual letter to his family and friends in Canada. Intrigued, I sought to learn where in Canada he once lived, something of his family, and of course more about the mission station at Fort Rosebery. "Decolonizition" initiatives by assorted governments have completely redrawn the map of the continent, especially in Zimbabwe and Zambia, but I managed to find a map of Fort Rosebery as it was in 1961, little more than a cluster of Mission schools and a hospital. It is now called Mansa and is located approximately 50 Km in from the Congo border.

For over a century the White Fathers, a Catholic missionary teaching order, operated dozens of schools in Central Africa. Father Marsan of Fort Rosebery corresponded with Verna Finlayson.

I found a few published references to Father Marsan, sufficient to learn that he had arrived in the Copper Belt quite early and that approximately 25% of the native population had been converted to Catholicism. "In March 1911, Father Henri Marsan, a French Canadian, was asked to begin a serious course in English for the catechists" a mission diarist recorded, because "the varnish of English" common to the mixed clergy was impeding the work. Priests and Catholic nuns were going out from a half dozen countries, including Canada, France, Belgium, and Ireland, and required a common tongue.

Fifty years later Father Marsan was still hard at work. The author of a book published in 1961, MUD AND MOSAICS, reported, "At the mission I met Father Marsan, a Canadian of 75 years of age, who was one of the first missionaries out here. He still goes on 'trek' on a push-bike and is still full of enthusiasm. He loves his Africans and they would do anything for him.”

An Accomplished Quebec Family: Henri Marsan was following his father's example when he became a teacher priest. His father, Amedee Marsan, was an agricultural engineer who taught for thirty years at the school of agriculture in Ste-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Quebec. Henri's parents, married in 1871 and had twelve children, nine of whom made it to adulthood. An article in a genealogical newsletter (2003) records that two brothers entered the priesthood. "Probably inspired by their mother's two brothers who were priests and by their three aunts who were nuns on their father's side, their son Henri joined The White Fathers, a missionary order, and Ernest was ordained priest in 1907." There is a wiki page for the White Fathers here.

I don't yet know what became of Father Marsan but I'm hoping he simply died of old age. In 1964 began the horrible campaign of mass murder of Christian missionaries in the neighboring Congo, and I am sure his great heart would have been broken by the senseless decimation of his co-workers. As the so-called "wars of liberation" spread throughout the region, many Catholic priests and nuns took a stand against Marxist ideology and scores of them (the Black with the White) were butchered by guerrillas in Zambia and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.

By the mid-1950s the African National Congress (ANC) established a base of operations in Fort Rosebery, secretly assisted by two Black leaders in the Catholic Church. From that point onward the political views of foreigners ("settlers") like the Father Marsan were monitored by the revolution. ANC members soon defected to the ZANC, and when the Zambian government under Kuanda became a client of the Red Chinese in the 1960-70s, the political atmosphere was choking. The irony is that the very ANC revolutionary leaders who made their early reputation at Fort Rosebery, were themselves purged by a succeeding Zambian regimes and became deeply embittered. Such is the internecine nature of politics in the region. The only constant in many black lives were the schools and churches run efficiently by the Catholic orders for the benefit of all.

I already have several books on Chinese, Indian and African auxilliaries in World War I, but I missed this monograph which was published in London. I wonder if Father Henri Marsan had Great War service?

If you can peel back another layer of today's onion, please contact your Runagate Blogger... Ron Jack in Vancouver, B.C.