sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 Discuss. I'm going to sleep. Hope there's still a world when I wake up.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (clean all the things)
Imagine you've fled unthinkable horror in your homeland to journey over 9000 km to a country where you don't speak the language. You have nothing but what you've managed to carry with you. Maybe you're living in a hotel, maybe some stranger's basement. You are desperately trying to get your life back together.

After all that, would you want to be reading Twilight?

(Fun fact: Twilight is the most frequently donated book.)

If you don't want used binders and notebooks that your kid has scribbled on with half the pages missing, why would a Syrian refugee?

Same with rusty kitchen stuff.

No one wants your dictionaries. Paper dictionaries are obsolete. That goes for people who donate to my Little Free Library too, by the way.

If you donate dirty kitchenware and appliances and don't wash them, I am silently judging you out loud to the other volunteers. Have some self-respect.

How about that trend for making French onion soup in French onion soup bowls? It was kind of weird, wasn't it? I see we all regret that phase of our lives. I'm craving French onion soup, though.

Unlike the refugees, you allegedly speak English. Why not read what we do and do not accept, and thus save a volunteer (i.e., me) a trip to Value Village in -30°C weather to drop off clothes we can't accept?

If at any point in this blanket's history your baby has puked on it, I guarantee that I will be able to smell it. I don't care how much you washed it. I don't care if no one else can smell it because they all have kids and are used to it. I still smell it and it will haunt my nightmares.

How can one man amass so many kitchen tongs? And yet it all came from the same guy. Are kitchen tong horders a thing?

People who donate pillows still in their packaging: You are my fucking heroes and I hope you get all the Valentine's Day orgasms you want.

People who donate anything still in its packaging, especially if there is a picture of the thing on the packaging: We love you and I hope you are showered with unicorns and puppies and love.

Whoever brought the red velvet and white chocolate cookies: I could fucking kiss you.

People who raid hotel rooms and donate the little bottles of shampoo: What is wrong with you? Reconsider your life choices.

Companies who give out water bottles with their logos on it: You know where those things end up, right?

The moral of the story: Don't donate trash. You know what happens when you donate your trash to charity? Some volunteer has to throw it out or donate it to another, less discerning charity. And they'll probably throw it out. They might even need to pay for junk removal. So you are hurting the cause, not helping. You know the difference between useful things and garbage, so why not donate useful things and throw the garbage out yourself?
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
I spent a few hours volunteering at the East Toronto Families for Syria hub this afternoon. It was a few hours well spent. Like everyone there, I have been wanting to do something, anything (well, I've gone to some benefits and rallies, but that's not very direct) and then this opened up, which is kind of perfect.

It's repetitive, non-thinky work. I spent half the time sorting through coat hangers. There were about six bags of coathangers, taking up valuable floor real estate. So I sorted out the good coathangers from the dry cleaner coathangers that someone thought would be useful, and bundled them into child-size and adult-size and skirts and suits, and within the hours, all the bags were gone. Coathangers aren't something that you think about people needing, but of course people need them. You don't carry coathangers with you when you flee your war-torn country. A lot of the refugees are still living in budget hotels so most of them went there with one of the drivers.

I spent the rest of the day helping the refugees who came in find what they needed, wrapping dishes in plastic bags and newspapers so they wouldn't shatter, restocking the shelves, bringing back boxes of new donations to the back to be sorted, taking out boxes and bags to be loaded into vans and sent out to wherever the refugees are. Sorting out the garbage that people think is helpful to donate. Smiling at the little kids and making small talk with the other volunteers, translators, and sponsors. The refugees didn't speak much English but they knew "thank you" and I know "shukraan." They were all so grateful; it was almost embarrassing. I'm just a person who showed up for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.

All of the volunteers save one were women, the vast majority working age, with jobs and families. It's not glamorous work, but they didn't have a shortage of people flailing around and asking what they could do, people showing up with armfuls of donations. I think we all felt like we weren't doing enough. One woman was there with her 13-year-old daughter. The girl was going through a stage where she was very into Greek myths, and we had a discussion about Sisyphus and Prometheus, and whose fate was worse (I recommended that she read Camus) as we sorted cutlery and knick knacks.

It's not often that you can do a thing that's uncomplicated good. So much of organizing is sitting in meetings debating, or doing work where you can't see an immediate payoff or maybe you haven't done anything useful at all. Sometimes you just need to sort coathangers.
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Well, that honeymoon was short-lived. Dustin Waterhole's government has already met my expectations. Canada has caved to the terrorists, of both the ISIS and racist white variety, and will only be admitting women, children, and families as refugees.

You will hear me once, non-ironically, say: What about the men?

Seriously, I think I've found the one thing that feminists and MRAs can both get behind, which is to say that this is stupid. It's wrong. It's fractal wrong.


Here are the reasons why it's stupid:

1) What about gay men? Or trans people? Asexual men, even. Most of whom would presumably need to be closeted. There is a special last-minute exemption, but that sounds like the kind of thing that is very dangerous for LGBTQ++ people in practice. (And then it becomes useless anyway, as gay men, trans people, and asexuals can all be terrorists as easily as heteros.)

2) Did your wife and family get murdered by ISIS? Too bad, you can't come to Canada. Serves you right for not becoming the Punisher.

3) This is security theatre. Like all security theatre, it is harmful (in this case, to young men), and it is useless (as women can be terrorists too).

4) Assuming that the goal is security, which it isn't (spoiler: the goal is optics, because the Liberals crave popularity and post-Paris, 51% of the population now opposes bringing in the refugees), leaving a shitload of unattached young men, the prime demographic for terrorist recruitment, in refugee camps or at risk of being sent back to a warzone, seems strategically asinine.

Ultimately, this is a condemnation of Dustin's pledge to govern "from the heart outwards." You know why rationality is useful in politics? Because any sensible person would have immediately found four obvious flaws in the plan. It's also an indictment of Dustin's particularly condescending brand of Feminism Lite (anyone remember Justin Unplugged? Just me? Okay then!), which pays lipservice to gender equality while failing to address structural inequities.

On the plus side, fucking everyone is making fun of Dustin's global fedora-tipping, so I bet you they'll back down on this before the end of the week.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (wall)
Created by Allan Bassi, link to original here.

If you read comments on the SUN or Star websites, the red bit is a million times funnier.

ETA: Elsewhere, [ profile] bcholmes pointed out—rightfully so—that you shouldn't donate to the Red Cross. So if you are actually using this flowchart for advice, donate to MSF.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (wall)
I don't have much to contribute to that thing that happens whenever a Western country experiences a horrific attack. It's all been said by people smarter than me. All I can do is extend sympathies to people who are near or have family in Paris—and Beirut; to be honest, I know a lot more Lebanese people than I do French people—and feel sad and shocked and disgusted.

But I wanted to share one really good thing. This is the first good thing on LJ I'm going to say about Dustin Waterhole's government, though I've mentioned a few good things they've done elsewhere. And I think, in general, they're reprehensible opportunists. BUT.

One of their election promises was to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the year. There's been a lot of talk about how difficult that's going to be, both logistically and politically. Personally, I don't think 25,000 is enough—this is a humanitarian crisis beyond the scope of my imagination, and if we're not doing everything we possibly can, we are failing—but it's a good start and better than Harper would have done, of course.

The attacks on Paris yesterday would have been a chance for the Libs to back out of their commitment and score political points with the hawks and racists. (The attacks on Beirut, of course, would have no affect either way, because doesn't that sort of thing happen all the time over there to those people? No need to light up the CN Tower or change our Facebook icons to the colours of the Lebanese flag.)

They have confirmed, as of today, that they are still going ahead with it.

This is absolutely the correct decision. After all, the horrors we saw in Paris are the selfsame horrors that Syrians and others—oh yes, don't forget that Syria is not the only refugee crisis—are fleeing. It was the correct thing to do a few days ago and it is the correct thing to do today.

It is, furthermore, how the world should react to terror and tragedy—with compassion, empathy, and levelheadness.

So colour me surprised and impressed.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (wall)
I'm going to talk about the photo of the dead Syrian toddler. You've been warned. I won't show the picture itself, or the other ones like it, because you've all probably seen it by now and I want people who have chosen to not see it to read this entry.

But I'm going to start with a story that I've probably told before, and probably even told on this blog, about images. The year is 1990. My country, among other countries, goes to war with Iraq. Like a good peacenik child of peacenik parents, I am opposed, and am as outspoken about the issue as a precocious 11-year-old can be, which is to say that everyone in school thinks I'm weird. I have lived my entire life in the shadow of the atom bomb, with Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes ringing in my ears. I know what war does.

And yet I didn't. The images in the newspaper, on the television, were of sanitized battle, red dots and green night-vision like a video game, with nothing like the photos of the My Lai massacre to drive it home. One could be forgiven, watching the news, for thinking that smart bombs were so smart that they managed not to kill anyone at all.

As a teenager, I saw the images the news hadn't shown. Banned in Canada, the photo was of the charred corpse of an Iraqi soldier. You can Google that too. He was the enemy, a bad guy, the guys our brave soldiers had fought, and he spent last moments trying to escape a burning car, screaming in agony. This was why I'd opposed the war. I wondered, had those around me seen it, would they have opposed the war too? It's so easy to erase the identity of the enemy, of the Other, when you don't see his suffering.

As a country, we went to war meekly, unquestioningly, like we typically do. Today, I see kids watch those sanitized video game images, dream of going to war themselves. They play Call of Duty and watch drone footage of bombing and relish in the carnage. The victims, real and virtual, are not human to them.

Which brings me to Aylan Kurdi, age three.

Social media does what social media does. The leftists post about the crisis in Syria, washing up on Europe's shores. They cry out for someone to do something. Along comes a shocking photo that jolts everyone. Those previously uninvolved and unaware share it. Facebook bans the images. The discussion shifts from the tragedy to the image of the tragedy. The tone shifts. Everyone becomes a monster.

Sorry, I'll need to talk more about the image of the tragedy than about the tragedy itself. In this post, anyway. If you want to talk about ways to help, that's what the comment section is for, and I'll post any useful information I glean.

The first disclaimer: I speak only for myself, not anyone on either side of the debate.

The second disclaimer: Despite how ugly the tone has gotten online, we're all actually on the same side. Unless you voted Tory or UKIP or are secretly Donald Trump, you probably are pro-migrant justice. If you're not, please do the world a favour and DIAF.

The first strawman: No one on the pro-sharing-the-photo side is saying that anyone is a bad activist or too much of a sensitive special snowflake to look away.

The second strawman: No one actually wants to look at pictures of dead kids on their FB newsfeed, okay? No one wants to see this image. No one wants kids to die.

I managed to find the post with all of the dead kid pictures, remove the thumbnail, and share. It took me about ten minutes to decide whether I should and then figure out how to remove a thumbnail on FB's newest redesign. I personally believe these photos should be seen. I am also aware that they're horrible to look at, and I don't want to see them, and they make me cry. I don't want to trigger anyone.

I posted a second article from the photographer that included a thumbnail with a less graphic photo. That was all last night.

This morning several of my friends posted that they would unfriend anyone who posted the dead kid pictures. Okay. Several other of my friends posted the dead kid pictures. Statistically, if you're interested, 100% of the people I saw write against posting were white Canadians. All of them were parents. Many of the people who posted the photos were people I knew from migrant justice activism and a few of them are Syrian. One of the latter commented on the irony of white Westerners ignoring all the Syrian toddlers butchered by Assad, which is a fair point. Some were parents, some were not. All of the people in this discussion, on both sides, are people that I respect and whose opinions I respect.

(By this afternoon, everyone had moved on to talking about Canada's culpability; the children and their mother would be alive if the Tory government hadn't refused their application for refugee status. The social media cycle is short like that.)

For years, involved in Palestine solidarity and anti-war activism, I posted dead kid pictures, thinking that they would shock the apathetic into action. Then I stopped, because I felt it was disrespectful to the dead and their families, and because I think we get desensitized to pictures of dead bodies. I think the global reaction to the pictures of little Aylan Kurdi illustrates the importance of these images, no matter how horrible it is to look.

A few points of discussion:

Consent of the family: This is the single most important question. Until this afternoon, we didn't know whether Aylan's family wanted the photo of his corpse to be shown. Now we know. The father, who has suffered the worst a person can suffer, wants his child to be a symbol of the refugees' plight. He wants this to be seen.

The feelings of the community: How do these images represent the lives of people in the broader community? I'm not Syrian; when I posted the pictures, I was taking the lead from people more directly involved than I am.

On that note: A friend pointed out, rightly so, that we never see the bodies of dead white children. (I'm not sure if that's entirely true; we certainly did in the Sandy Hook massacre and the Oklahoma City bombing.) It's only black and brown bodies that are reduced to the moments of their deaths rather than to their lives.

The feelings of victims of trauma: The parent who's lost a child, for example, or the survivor of a war zone. That's why I don't think these photos should be forced on anyone (other than Tories, who deserved to have it shoved in their faces). LJ and Tumblr have mechanisms built in to prevent people from being triggered; FB is of course terrible at it. But this deserves consideration, of course.

Bottom line is that these images getting out has already had an impact. The atrocity stares you right in the face. It makes the Conservative politicians responsible duck for cover, at least for a few minutes. It shakes up the apathetic. Which is why I think they need to be seen. Otherwise, little Aylan is just another statistic; after all, don't brown kids always die in large numbers?

Images have power. I can't say why one has more than another—my Syrian friends have been posting horrific images of dead children for years, with little noise generated outside their community—why this one has the potential to topple governments and maybe even save lives.

This is why, personally, I can't look away.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (go fuck yourself)
It's really hard to have a thoughtful and nuanced discussion on What Is To Be Done About Syria. (For the record, I desperately want to see Assad's regime go down in flames, but I'm not convinced that U.S. military intervention is going to accomplish that without making things much worse. And no, I don't have a solution. I'm Sabotabby From the Internet, not a geopolitical mastermind.)

Facebook is particularly bad in that I have a wide spectrum of opinions represented on my feed, most of which are quite stupid. There are also a wide spectrum of opinions represented on my LJ friends list, but even when I disagree with you guys, you've at least got the brains to back up your opinions with facts and arguments instead of posting memes.

But hey, you know what I think that we can all agree won't work? Fasting for peace, then posting about it on Facebook. Fuck a bunch of smug, pretentious hippies. Did I fall asleep and wake up in the fucking 60s or something? I'm sure the multitudes of starving Syrian refugees honestly give a shit that you're forgoing food on their behalf. I am amazed that, of all of the bad options presented to deal with this humanitarian clusterfuck, someone I know has managed to find the worst one.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
Here are today's top stories, courtesy of the Star:

The IDF kills 13 Palestinian protesters. "Oh, but I bet they were Hamas members lobbing home-made rockets at Israeli civilians!" you say (well, no, you wouldn't say that). Nope, the only "attack" they were planning was against the fence at the border of Syria and Israel. Nevertheless, according to Netanyahu, "These protests aim to undermine the very existence of Israel," presumably necessitating the slaughter of (as far as I know) unarmed protesters.

Speaking of Syria, 850 people have been killed there since mid-March. This hasn't been highly publicized compared to the uprisings in Arab countries where we aren't so heavily invested in the status quo, and despite rampant and horrifying abuses of human rights, our illustrious government is keeping mum. To add a personal note, the new Minister of the Interior is the guy who arrested and tortured the father of a friend of mine, so you can imagine what the rest are probably like. Said friend suggests writing to your MP, given that Canada has been silent on the international stage.

On a happier note, Byron Sonne has, nearly a year since his arrest, been granted bail! Here's hoping that he gets off and is able to turn around and sue the bastards.

The IMF continues to screw the working class. Literally, and non-consensually.

Stay classy, Disney!

And in local news, Shorter Rosie DiManno: It's all about MEEEE. Is it just me or do her articles never make a single lick of sense?


sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)

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