Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ladytron, Rockism, Iran, Terrorists.....

We got a signal to leave you alone
We'll try to leave you
We'll try to find you
If I give you sugar, will you give me
Something elusive and temporary

1. If you haven't heard or heard of Ladytron, do yourself a favour: go here and press "listen" on any one of these songs. I prefer "Weekend" and "Seventeen".....I just heard of them yesterday. They are kind of like the Breeders, if the Breeders dug Luscious Jackson, Peaches, and Oakenfold.

2. Slate gets into "Rockism", the new word promoted at the Experience Music Project conference last month. Basically, rockism is a critical ideology that creates a dichotomy of music: real and fake. Pop/synth/R&B/Hip Hop etc is deemed to be crap, and Nirvana, The Boss and AC/DC are king. By that definition, I am a rockist. Sorta. I, um, ashamedly am a fan of one britney spears song "Toxic"...and the Nine Inch Nails mashup with "Bite the hand that feeds you" is brilliant. I love hip hop. R&B is in a big time slump (my opinion) since Pee Daddy (aka R Kelly) jumped on it, but I'm still kind of a fan....It's not all bad...Craig David introduced garage beats to the genre.

Having said that, I still (sometimes) go by the code being brought up in a time when Nirvana ruled in rock ideology: false, manipulative music is crap. Singing crap made up by professional record company writers is karaoke, not art. If you don't live it, you probably shouldn't even begin to sing about it, or even pretend to be down. For a long while, I didn't even listen to any rock band that had a synth-they were obviously fake-ass, 80's style wankers (NIN excepted). Anyways, as usual, the paradigm changes and I realized that was a narrow view...I guess when considering music, it helps to at least to be aware of your own prejudices so you don't exclude certain genres at the expense of having a great musical experience.

*Shudder* I'm still not going to listen to country. For *ugh* now. I just vomitted in my mouth a little.

2. Bad, Bad Ahmadinejad met with Bambang in Indonesia today/tomorrow (Indonesia time). Bambang still has the coolest international leader name. Probably only..oh, say...Evo Morales comes close. Sounds like Devo. Give the past the slip....What a bastard.

Turning back to Indonesia for a minute...this whole interlude in the South Pacific is interesting, no? The key ally/go to guy of the US in the muslim world is usually Turkey...the triangulator of all triangulators, the ancient ground zero of east vs. west, blah blah. The problem from the West's point of view, is that Turkey is becoming a problem, so in tricky situations with geopolitical opponents in the ME, the largest muslim country on earth is getting the call.
Some observers wonder if Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is so disgusted by the efforts of such EU countries as France and Austria to erect new hurdles to Turkey's membership that he is giving up on Europe.... Disillusion with Europe may also explain his government's flirtation with Iran, Syria and Hamas.

The west needs Turkey to be close to the other side. But not that close.

Meanwhile, Bambang is stepping to the plate to pinch hit:
Yudhoyono was expected to ask Ahmadinejad to ease the escalating diplomatic fight with Washington.

“We want Iran to be more transparent in its program,” Wirajuda told reporters. “We also want Iran’s nuclear development program ... to fulfill the standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Still, there is room for Turkey to be of assistance, possibly..
[Iran's national security chief Ali] Larijani, who is visiting Turkey upon the invitation of Turkish National Security Council (MGK) Secretary General Yigit Alpogan, will meet Alpogan, PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and FM Abdullah Gul.

Ankara will recommend Larijani that Iran should be ''more open and transparent'' about its nuclear activities as a signatory to the NPT, and convey international community's expectations.

Old Larry is kind of second-fiddle in the grand scheme of things....but hey! At least Iran's getting the same "transparency" message from its friends. That's a clear message from the Great Satan to you, neighbour!

4. Terrorists Vs. Gang members. Who's worse? Better Question: Who's who?

Historically, terrorists and the mob have been interchangeable figures in the anarchist havens of the world. In nationalist resistance movements, the organizations that have fought repressive or foreign forces (Sicily, Ireland, South Africa) have succumbed to gangsterism. West Belfast is still a no-go area for police, as it is still under IRA mob rule. Johannesburg is the most gunned-up city on earth, as its own resistance movement that armed the city to the teeth, hasn't exactly been able to disarm the murder capital of planet earth. Sicily is still dealing with its 500 year old "resistance" forces.

And yes, these movements have been called terrorists at one time or another. They all became alternate, parallel powers during their "resistance" tenures and (without taking away the legitimacy of some of these nationalist movements..particularly the S. African) the idea is no different than the gang rule, where the idea of a "monopoly of violence" exercised by the government is underminded by a parallel violent force.

Take for instance the Hells Angels' East Van clubhouse. Local residents were initially upset about the RCMP/VPD raid on the club because the Angels had provided a safe block on which to live. No one dared make a scene on the Angels' block, and for good reason. Er, until the next violent coup of the city's drug lords means a massive bloodletting at next Neighbourhood Watch meeting...but hey! Until then, things will be great! (see West Belfast, comparison of..)

So now that they have similar methods, and an interchangeable history, what are we left with? A mental block. The public will simply not equate gangs with terrorism. Despite the fact that 8 dead bikers had ended up in the trunk of a car on an Ontario farm recently..um gang members just kill each other, right? Well, can you imagine the outcry had those "gang" related deaths been characterized (rightly or wrongly) as "terror" related?

We'd be going apeshit.

In the US, this is a similar phenomenon. The troubles in N. Ireland killed less than the murdercity of Detroit over the same period of time....But it was accepted that those violent deaths in Detroit would occur, at some level. If a drive by in Compton that kills 4 people isn't mentioned in the news, why is the non-event of "terrorist" related of the "Anthrax" letters cause for mass panic?

Now the authorities are starting to see terrorism (potential or real) as a motivator for stirring public outrage against gang related activity:
Zaccardelli told the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence yesterday that organized crime is an "equal threat" to terrorism in Canada.

He cited the presence of motorcycle gangs, Asian gangs as well as street gangs — a big worry in Toronto — which he said have become a "major feeder" system into the other crime groups.

"Our concern, of course, is our ability to tackle them and what are the resources that we have," Zaccardelli said.

Now I can't fault the guy for using terrorism as a lever for more cash/resources and as a tool against organized crime. Clearly, the differences are negligible.
His comments immediately raised concerns among committee members who have previously warned about the unchecked growth of organized crime, especially in airports, and at ports and border crossings.

"We have an incredible distribution network that would put UPS to shame in terms of how drugs are distributed across the country," said Senator Colin Kenny, chair of the committee.

"Where you have organized criminals with the capacity to move anything through a port, that same method can be used by terrorists.... Smugglers aren't too picky about what they move," he said.

No, they aren't. If they are so heartless as to bring people into Canada in containers on freighters, only to let them die, suffocating to death in their own filth, they probably aren't too worried about a foreign countries security concerns. And who is facilitating this? The same people the Port Authority of Vancouver can't get rid of: organized crime. Think the ports are spic and span? Nope. Customs has been trying to recruit people for years to become regulators of the longshoremen shenanigans of the ports...no dice...It's not much better at the airports, where baggage handlers have been mobbed up for years, shipping contraband all over the country through passenger bags.....In fact, one of the key points of favour of Schappelle Corby's innocence (sp?)(remember the girl who was found with several kilos of pot in an airport in Bali?) last year, was the fact that the Australian baggage handlers were incredibly mobbed up. Almost grounds for reasonable doubt....

Bottomline, you have to consider what gangs actually accomplish: illicit profits at the expense and safety of the public. The only differnce is that terrorists usually have a political goal in place of profits (but then, that is usually for self-righteous reasoning at times, isn't it?) , but still...they usually succumb to the lure of the dollar as well. The IRA main source of income has always been bank robberies...but they're freedom fighters, right?
Interesting aside in the Star about another criminal group:
The RCMP drew flak over Christmas for its bombshell announcement — in the middle of the federal election campaign — that it had begun a criminal investigation into the possibility of a leak from the Liberal government before a November announcement on taxation of income trusts.

That's some good work guys. Now if only they could get the man responsible for Ian Bush's death.

Psst! He's probably the guy who fought Ian in the jail cell, a la NWA:
To be beatin on, and throwin in jail
We could go toe to toe in the middle of a cell

Pullin out a silly club, so you stand
With a fake assed badge and a gun in your hand
But take off the gun so you can see what's up

We started with Ladytron, ended with NWA. Thus concludes one more outta control rant.
I did my thang in the club
Every chance I get, I tear it up
Dance floor, jam-packed
I got 'em goin', goin' outta control


Anonymous said...

I think you’ve begun to hit the reason why the public won’t equate gangs with terrorism when you discuss their perceived reason for existence - the perception that gangsters exist to make money and terrorists exist to cause terror. Obviously terrorists do need funds, and gangsters do use violence and cause terror to achieve their goals. However, I think there is a perception that the people getting killed by bikers or asian gangs are other bikers and asian gangs, and that if you are not involved there is a certain level of safety, or that this violence is avoidable by main stream society. People think that if you choose to deal drugs, even go out to a shady club, you assume some of the liability for gangsta consequences. However, when terrorism brings that violence to mainstream societies everyday life in unavoidable situations, like taking a train to work, it portrays terrorists as well, terrorists. Terrorism targets are innocent people, and could be, as terrorists want us to believe, anyone at anytime. There is of course crossover, when kids riding their big wheels get killed in gang driveby’s for example, but this violence is believe to be an unintended consequence of an attack as opposed to the target. As a member of mainstream society, gangsters may kill me unintentionally or negligently, but terrorists are out to murder me on purpose.

Finally, I think the gangster mentality of taking money and power quickly and by any means necessary appeals to a lot of people, even if they wouldn’t do it themselves in that manner, whereas bombing something to kill a bunch of people to prove your point of view is something we can’t get our heads around. Violence to get rich, when generally at the expense of other gangsters (without getting into consequences of drug use in society, etc) is ok, where as violence against random people for political purposes is not.

Shamrocks! said...

You're right.

The main difference is the target of these supposedly different groups. Like you have stated, terrorists have a political goal and make targeting the general public with a terror campaign a priority.

But, as you probably notice, since you seem to be a pretty keen observer...the line does overlap considerably.

For instance, the LTTE/Tamil Tigers- a bone fide terror group-have been shaking down naturalized Tamils for cash in Canada using the threat of force to coerce payment.

The IRA has morphed into a local mob with its own bloated clubhouse, er "compound" smack in the middle of terror/gangland West Belfast.

But I see where you are coming from. Lots of the violence caused (in Canada, mind you) by gangs, is associated with people and places that are risky, thus the public assumes some risk when they enter shady clubs, etc.

But, again, don't the Angels extort money from businesses? Don't they control a the Vancouver Port Authority keeping east vancouver about as drugged up as possible? Don't the Asian/Iranian/East Indian/Irish gangs flood BC with guns? Why is it that non-gang members are ending up in trunks in the west end? - I personally walked by the "lexus with the dude in the trunk" for a week on my way to work...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that just because gangs aren't always directly the cause of harm to the public, doesn't mean they aren't a cause of harm. I think in many ways in north america, we have simply accepted the existence of organized crime despite the fact that it is probably a greater threat than terrorism.

I think again, you are right that there is a sympathy for the "get rich quick" bs that the gangs glorify...at least in the upper eschelons....

But let me ask you a question: in your lifetime (say pre-9/11 and since), have you ever really felt (in Canada) more afraid of terrorists, or organized violence?

What do you perceive as a bigger threat to your safety? Intentional or not, gangs are statistically more likely to harm you than terrorists.

One thing-I don't want to downplay terrorism. I support the WoT, but I think gang violence/parallel power structures are as dangerous.