The contradictions of radical activists

Bambi’s mother-in-law is a smart lady who can be sarcastically funny sometimes. About 30 years ago, a group of ecological young activists were loudly demonstrating in Montreal in front of McDonald’s. Why? They were calling for the boycott of meat products. Sounds noble to you and quite contemporary? Well wait to hear the end of the story. Bambi’s mother-in-law approached one young girl and took her jacket between her fingers gently whilst asking her” “Nice outfit. Is this made of leather”? The young girl naively said: “Yes, thanks”. The sarcastic yet accurate answer back to her was: “Do you know from what leather is made of? Silence followed the latter question. “From cows”, said Bambi’s mother-in-law. Oups ?.

Today, we have a group of activists who are “illegally” preventing our trains from moving. In their overzealous social justice/ecological activism, they did not stop to think about all our first nations people (i.e., Wet’suwet’en in BC) who could benefit from this project by becoming richer, and thus, perhaps even more independent from the government. They also forgot about the rest of us (including first nations), taken hostage by all this Canadian drama. An economic blockade does not distinguish between people. We are all in the same boat, as we cannot be in the same train yet.

Today, Bambi learned that there is a company in this Wet’suwet’en community of BC that would have been doing business with the natural gas Canadian company in question. Our activists who walked out of university campuses (e.g., McGill University in Montreal and perhaps Toronto as well) forgot about this reality, just like the young lady in the 30-year-old story above.

Pushed to the extreme, we can even argue that their “anti-colonial” activism is now falling into a new form of colonialism, to use the words of journalist Richard Martineau (today’s article): the one that is keeping our first nations people (and in a few years, keeping us with them, Bambi is adding) stuck in an economically under-developed place (to save our planet). Plus, in their particular case, some seem to be fantasizing about keeping them in a certain romanticized stereotype. Regardless of all this, how sad when we, voluntarily or not, forget about diversity in groups (there are so many different native communities, including the Cree Nation who just 3 days ago signed a 30-year-economic deal with Québec!). In addition, it is a shame when we do not politically address governance issues for real, not just in empty words.

Another example of a contradiction in activism came from the Middle East today (i.e., Lebanon). It seems that Mr. Nasrallah, the Chief of the Hezbollah, called for the boycott of US products. However, he forgot that in one of the public pictures, his own son is seen wearing a T-shirt made in the United States. Lebanese people went on social media to mock this contradiction ?.

Even worst than that, in the name of justice for the Palestinian people (in relation to the “deal of shame” of Mr. Trump in the Middle East), Hezbollah’s supporters produced a video, as part of a large movement of so called BUP (“Boycott US products” by Muslim countries, like Pakistan, etc.).

Bambi was able to locate the video on FB:

Needless to add that the video is disturbing to Bambi for two reasons: (1) It seems (even if that was not the purpose) anti-semitic, mocking (Orthodox) Jews. Mind you, Bambi does not use this term lightly as she finds that people jump on this word too fast whenever someone criticizes Israel (and she is one of the first people to do so). Anyhow, to come back to these people who are disguised as so-called Jews in the video, the producers of the video were probably thinking of Israelis or observant Jewish-Israelis (the idea is to “boycott American products so these folks do not come to you”). However, the men in the video may have been Canadians from Montréal’s Avenue du Parc or Van Horne Street. They may have been Jews who also fight for the same cause, who knows? They could have been the owners of Saint-Viateur’s, the delicious bagel place in Montreal? Or closer to Beirut, they could have been perhaps Jewish-Lebanese (if they still exist in any significant number?) or Jewish tourists/guests or international journalists and (2) In all the three languages used in the ads (Bambi can understand two of the three), they are shaming people for using US products. We can see the reactions of the drivers: “Who are those freaks?”, they seem to be silently thinking. Perhaps they were on their way to their banks to spend a few hours to get US$150 for this week in the middle of Lebanon’s financial crisis? Or maybe they were eager to go home to use their iPhones and maybe WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook? Or to watch their Netflix or wash their Jeans? Aren’t all these US products?

Whether in Canada or in Lebanon, human beings are full of contradictions, Bambi cannot help not to think to herself. Deer too for sure, make no mistake ?… but on the topic of imposed train blockades, Bambi clearly thinks that this should stop, regardless of the protesters, including those with noble causes. As for boycotts, Bambi is of course for free self-boycott (eat what you want or listen to the music you like!) but, for God’s sake, do not impose it on the rest of us and do not shame us if we are not interested in embarking… OR if we think that you are being stupid, despite your (so-called) noble intentions.    

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