May the memory of “Monsieur Patate” be eternal…!

Rest in peace Mr./Monsieur Patate….

Until where can we push the funny excesses of political correctness?

The world is devastated by the tiny yet dangerous coronavirus.

The economy is falling apart… here and there and everywhere.

Everyone is too busy with life, work, school, quarantines, and/or concerns.

Kids need entertainment and continuity in their lives, perhaps now more than ever…

Well, in the name of “inclusiveness” and kindness, even “Monsieur Patate” and “Madame Patate” deserve our respect for their longevity. Instead, the company producing them decided to cancel (or eliminate) them. Of course, ultimately, this decision belongs to this private American company.

More seriously now, many of us played with “Monsieur/Madame Patate” literally around the world and in many languages. Younger toy consumers may be more attached to these characters. Older ones may be torn with mixed feelings (i.e., not caring and sarcastically laughing); like many reporters from Québec, France, and Switzerland. Bambi will spare you these news documentaries as they are all in French.

To conclude this post on a lighter note despite the obituary, Bambi would like to use this fun video to pay tribute to Monsieur/Madame Patate whilst welcoming any new “Potato” character. If she may, she would like to also dedicate this cute kids’ song to her now adult nephews and nieces. Like their aunt, they have a sense of humour, despite any sorrow :).

Long live all the potatoes of the world! They are delicious, with or without titles.

“Vive les patates du monde entier”! Elles sont toutes délicieuses”. Mmm.

Thanks to the Bloc Québécois for defending freedom of expression in our world… and best wishes to Ms. Ensaf Haidar!

Bambi just read that Ms. Ensaf Haidar will be seeking the Bloc Québecois (BQ) nomination in Sherbrooke (Québec). Wow and best wishes to Ms. Haidar!

As for the BQ, this party has been playing an excellent opposition role in Ottawa. Bravo to Mr. Blanchet and his team for standing up for freedom of expression.

Ms. Ensaf Haidar is Mr. Raif’s Badawi’s spouse. The latter is in jail in Saudi Arabia. In an earlier post, Bambi described how he was “sentenced to 1000 lashes, a 10 year sentence, and a fine of 200,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (CAD $69,381). Even if he gets out of jail, he cannot leave his country to join his family in Sherbrooke, PQ, Canada for at least 10 years. His kids are growing up without him nearby. He and his spouse have not seen each other for God knows how long. All this because he was accused of blasphemy“.

https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/ensaf-haidar-steps-up-for-nomination-as-bloc-quebecois-candidate-in-sherbrooke-1.5334948

https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1775157/ensaf-haidar-badawi-candidate-bloc-quebecois-sherbrookehttps://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1775157/ensaf-haidar-badawi-candidate-bloc-quebecois-sherbrooke

Well, this story is reminding Bambi of Mr. William Sampson who sadly passed away in England in 2012, according to the National Post (https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/william-sampson-dead-canadian-survived-prison-torture-in-saudi-arabia). As per Radio-Canada and many other media (https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/114050/sampson-torture), the BQ helped free Mr. Sampson from jail (along with the UK, as he held the double citizenship). A BQ party member even travelled to Saudi Arabia and met with him in jail. Tragically, Mr. Sampson was accused of false yet very serious accusations. He even suffered from torture, but thankfully he survived his ordeal. He spent the last ten years of his free life clearing his name.

To conclude this post, may Mr. Sampson rest in peace. May the BQ continue to stand up for freedom of expression in Canada. May Ms. Haidar and her children be finally reunited with Mr. Badawi. It is about time for this innocent dad to find himself where he belongs that is with his family, in their beautiful Sherbrooke (Québec) and among us all in Canada.

A Canadian singer, Ms. Nicole Arrage, pays tribute to Beirut

It has been seven months since the Beirut surrealistic port explosion.

NO accountability yet.

NO (new) government yet.

This week, the Lebanese Lira (or pound) fell to 10,000 to the American dollar. This means that it lost about 85% of its value. If Bambi understands the situation there well, the minimum salary is now worth US$62 per month. Can you imagine the magnitude of this economic tragedy?!

Oh, Bambi almost forgot… there is also the Covid-19 pandemic.

To conclude this post devoted to Beirut, Bambi just came across this moving song (called “Pray for Beirut subtitled in English). It is performed by a Montreal-born singer called Ms. Nicole Arrage (with pianist, Mr. Guillaume Dion). The song is by Mr. Joseph Attieh.

What a beautiful tribute to Beirut… all the way from Canada. Bravo and thank you!

Dr. Frederick Bastien: “The racialist excesses of Projet Montreal” [“Les dérives racialistes de Projet Montréal”]

Bambi will not spend much time commenting this article. It speaks for itself.

Many thanks to Dr. Bastien for his lucidity.

Why are we doing this to our beautiful cities?

Mind you, Montreal is not any city for Bambi.

This is where her Canadian journey began.

It is both shocking and sad to read about the narrow-minded, divisive “vision” that some have for their charming cosmopolitan city.

Without further ado, here is a quick translation of Dr. Bastien’s article (https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/03/04/les-derives-racialistes-de-projet-montreal):

“We already knew that for Montreal mayor [Ms. Valérie Plante], systemic racism exists in the city, especially within the police force. We did not know, however, that some within Valérie Plante’s party are pushing for a racialization of municipal institutions.

Those who doubt it can only listen to the remarks made by city councilor Marianne Giguère during a meeting of the Montreal Executive Commission, which was held on February 24. In order to promote diversity, the elected official from the Plateau Mont-Royal would find it interesting for the city to set up “safe spaces” for people of colour. It is, in her words, “to have instances where there are no whites, people find themselves between them as a safe space …”.

Divide people according to their race

For my part, it seems to me that dividing people according to their race, activity X for people of such and such a race, event Y for people of such and such another race, is the worst thing to do to build a society that promotes living together. Moreover, it is necessary to emphasize here that the colour of the skin of the people does not in any way determine their culture or their way of being.

Anyone of any race can belong to any nation or culture. In all Western countries, for example, you have people whose ancestors came from Asia or Africa, but who have adopted 100% of the culture of the country in which they live. It is the same in Québec, where many of our fellow citizens have origins other than European, but have nonetheless become, over the generations, 100% Québeckers [why do we always seem to forget that immigrants also have a responsibility in their own adaptation process to their host cities/countries?]. This gradual process of assimilation into the nation, and I use the word assimilation in its noblest sense, is absolutely vital to the functioning of our society [true…].

With its racialist excesses, that is exactly what Project Montreal is attacking. First, it is about locking people into a racial box and establishing a system of separation between them. The next step is to deny that two people with different skin colours can share the same culture.

Pairing system …

But Councillor Giguère is not stopping there. She also wants a system of pairing municipal councillors to be established. Each of them would be forced to have a diversity advisor. This would be a kind of political commissar. He would act as a duplicate of the elected official and would be responsible for monitoring and educating him so that he conforms to the racial and diverse orthodoxy that many espouse at Projet Montreal. This would, I imagine, reinforce messages of the type that Bill 21 constitutes systemic racism and makes Québec a model of supremacism, as Bochra Manaï, the anti-racist expert recently hired by the city, has already said.

I close by addressing Montreal Mayor. In her election year, it is imperative that she disown her advisor and make a clear promise that she will not go down this path. Racializing our institutions would be one of the worst things that could happen to us [indeed…]”.

How to improve our critical thinking?

How can we foster our intellectual curiosity, creativity, and decision-making skills?

How to broaden our minds, encourage debates, and reach out to others to welcome all the shades of different opinions and perspectives?

Perhaps one key element to achieve all the above is to continuously invent ways to nurture and deepen our critical thinking.

But what is critical thinking, to begin with?

As shown in the video below, it can be described as the process of “deliberately” analyzing information in order to make wiser decisions.

Could this wisdom be applied to both real and online lives (i.e., social media)?

To what extent can we be (or learn to be) congruent at all times, that is in our real and online lives?

What about respect? Or at least self-respect? Is the latter the cornerstone of this congruence?

Self-respect is a must in order to genuinely respect others by treating them well.

Respect does not mean hypocrisy.

Respect does not mean censorship.

Respect is a choice.

Respect is a re-choice.

Respect has a twin. It is called trust.

In both respect and trust, there are beautiful ingredients called integrity and transparency.

To conclude this post, Bambi will spare you her philosophical questions. She will just ask the following: In life, is there anything more simple yet beautiful than treating everyone with respect… and earning their respect back? Or is it self-respect that comes first? Oh, it is getting late…. time to sleep now.

Dr. Mathieu Bock-Côté: «The undemocratic risk of social networks» [«Le risque antidémocratique des réseaux sociaux»]

Bambi is happy to read this text by one of our big and lucid brains in this country, Dr. Mathieu Bock-Côté. Bambi’s faithful readers know that she has the utmost respect for him… and perhaps now more than ever. Not only he has a brain. He has a spine when it is the time to defend democracy.

Without further ado, here is his thoughtful article published today in the Journal de Montréal (https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/03/03/le-risque-antidemocratique-des-reseaux-sociaux).

How can Bambi not agree with Dr. Bock-Côté when she spent her life reading all opinions and media (even in a country torn by civil war when it was much easier to choose to hate others for their different opinions… or bombs)?

Same for her youth in Québec. Collectively, her friends do not share the same political opinions about Québec (the second referendum and its aftermath). Her own opinion changes also, etc.

So, why are we falling into the trap of narrow-mindedness, censorship, intolerance, and even totalitarianism?

All different opinions/voices matter in life… It is called democracy.

Plus, we learn from others. We challenge our thoughts.

Yes, we learn from those whom we do not agree with.

We also learn from those we agree with on this or that topic.

We learn, period… and we can de-learn and re-learn. It is called critical thinking.   

We even learn from enemies, so-called enemies (of a country or a cause)… or so-called racists.

Perhaps this is why Bambi likes to take the time to check the primary source of information. She reads what this or that person is saying, and not only what she is reading about this or that person.  

All this being said, here is a quick translation Dr. Bock-Côté’s article:

“Donald Trump wanted, in recent days, to start his comeback. We don’t know if he really plans to show up in 2024: that would be surprising. We know, however, that he wants to exist politically.

The man is energetic, of course, but he struggles to renew himself and mentally locks himself in the myth of electoral fraud. His speech was laborious. Trump is making the same mistake he made in his 2020 campaign: he is stepping forward, but not carrying an agenda that could, beyond a few slogans, sketch a vision for the future for the United States.

Whatever people think of him, he remains a central figure in American politics. He still dominates the Republican Party. He even embodies, for the moment, the main opposition to Joe Biden.

Trump

This raises the question of his presence on Twitter.

A few weeks ago, Trump lost access to his Twitter account. He was banned for life. In other words, knowing the role that social networks play in contemporary politics, he was kicked out of public space. A little too quickly, several applauded.

But it is more than a man, as troubled as he is, who has been driven out: it is a whole political movement that is targeted through him.

Because Trump, let us not forget, gathered around his name more than 74 million voters last November.

And even though many Republicans are tired of him, he remains the spokesperson for a large part of the American people, who cannot be confused with the fanatic weirdos who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

But the essential is elsewhere.

Is it really up to social networks, these supranational digital empires of our time, to decide who has the right to access public space? Do they really have to master the public debate?

Can they sort between legitimate opponents and those who are not? Are they entitled to ban from the city, according to the ancient laws of ostracism, a whole political stream of democratic debate?

And who will be the next to suffer the same fate, and in which countries? Because they will come.

This is not about loving Donald Trump, but about remembering that in a democracy, no one has the right to muzzle or dissolve someone they don’t like.

Above all, social networks show a terrible arbitrariness in their definition of what is acceptable and what is not.

Twitter

If they see hate speech in a tough or even subtle critique of diversity ideology (I’m not talking about Trump, here, who is less muscular than garish, and especially not subtle!), They don’t see it in those who hate to hate him the wicked white man, turned into the scapegoat of our time. Against them, hatred is allowed.

One thing is for sure, this takeover of the public debate by Twitter and the like is far bigger than we would like to say.

There it is, the real coup against democracy.

Thank you “Canada in Lebanon”

Thanks Canada for your continuous support to tiny yet eternal Lebanon.

Bambi learned from Naharnet that our Canadian Ambassador in Beirut, Ms. Chantal Chastenay visited “Lebanese Army Logistic Brigade“, along with Brigadier General Michael Wright, Commander of Joint Task Force Impact and Defence Attaché Lieutenant Colonel David Jones and a delegation of our Canadian soldiers:

http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/279853-canadian-ambassador-visits-lebanese-army-logistic-brigade

A picture taken from the Canadian Embassy’s Twitter account of “Embassy of Canada to Lebanon

Thanks to our men and women in uniform for supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces (or Forces Armées Libanaises) in keeping Bambi’s loved ones as realistically safe as possible.

Bambi will conclude this post with the comment of one Naharnet reader (in Beirut): “Oh Canada” :)!

Mr. Georges Moustaki: “Ma liberté” (subtitled in both French and English)

Bambi adores Mr. Georges Moustaki!

He left our world in 2013 (at age 79)… but luckily, music is immortal.

Mr. Moustaki was born under the name of Giusseppe Mustacchi in Alexandria, Egypt. His parents, originally from a charming Greek island called Corfu (or Kerkyra), were both francophile.

Thank you Mr. Moustaki for your beautiful song called “Ma liberté“.

Mr. Mario Dumont: “Amnesty International has lost its compass” [“Amnistie internationale a perdu sa boussole”]

Like Mr. Dumont, Bambi also noticed the sad change in Amnesty International. Here is a very quick translation of his interesting article published in the Journal de Montréal yesterday:

https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2021/02/27/amnistie-internationale-a-perdu-sa-boussole

As a CEGEP student [CEGEP refers to professional or pre-university college system unique to Québec], I had participated in a few Amnesty International activities. The organization played an important role in exposing the plight of prisoners of conscience and challenging authoritarian regimes to secure their release.

I liked this organization, as I liked the offensive it led to defend the rights of Raif Badawi. Badawi is a glaring example of an individual who has committed no crime and finds himself incarcerated strictly because of his writings [absolutely!!]. Because his political convictions tarnish the image of the Saudi regime.

How surprised I was to read this week that Amnesty International no longer considered Russian opponent Alexei Navalny to be a prisoner of conscience! Yet Navalny is probably the number one prisoner of conscience right now.

After having denounced Putin

As he returns home after receiving treatment in Germany for a “mysterious” poisoning, his plane is hijacked and he is taken to an airport where he is stopped. The Russian authorities have nothing concrete against him except that his words could stir up Russian revolt.

Indeed, he broadcasted the images of what appears to be the royal palace of Vladimir Putin on the shore of the Black Sea. Putin denies it, but no one can clarify who really belongs in the ultra luxurious domain. All this in a country where assassinations and poisonings of opposition leaders have almost become commonplace.

According to the latest information, not only will he be jailed without valid justification, but he will be transferred to a labour camp. Material for Amnesty International.

So why, after certain steps to obtain his release, does Amnesty International no longer consider him a prisoner of conscience? Because he would have made nationalist and anti-immigration remarks twenty years ago. Positions he no longer holds today anyway. He is jailed for his opinions, but Amnesty International no longer considers him a prisoner of conscience because it dislikes his opinions … from twenty years ago. Odd, right? [absolutely, the issue is not this or that topic. The issue is freedom of expression or free speech, period!].

The breadth of the causes that are heard

What must be understood is that Amnesty International has lost its compass and has become a ninth movement of the so-called “woke” left [she does not know about you, but like Mr. Mario Dumont, Bambi misses the more beautiful left of her youth. It has genuinely been about protecting people’s rights and about truly standing up for justice]. On the organization’s website, there is less and less talk of prisoners of conscience and more and more of all the leftist themes in vogue.

The environment, racism everywhere, police violence, logging, all wrapped up under the guise of human rights. One more organization to repeat the refrains of this left which is radicalized. One less organization to defend the most fundamental causes for anyone who believes in democracy and freedom.

Let us recall the fight of Amnesty International against Bill 21 on secularism in Québec. Amnesty is more worried about an elected government that frames secularism for its employees in authority than it is about an opposition leader imprisoned in a labour camp under an authoritarian regime. Welcome to 2021!”