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5 December 2016

Sexual Violence Policy

The Board of Governors approved a new sexual violence policy on 1 December 2016. The version of this policy that was passed (here or see the meeting materials posted online for 1 December 2016) was essentially identical to the draft released by the administration on 6 October 2016, a version that many stakeholders on campus were highly critical of. Provincial law mandated that a sexual violence policy be fully implemented no later than 1 January 2017.

Discussion of the sexual violence policy at the open session of the Board started with the former chair of the Board moving that the Board pass the proposed policy without amendment. Things were then handed-off to the vice-president for students and enrolment, who did little more then hand-off matters to her director of student affairs. This director, who is usually very good, proceeded to drone on for 35-minutes with a monologue that either lacked content or contained content in a Trump-like fashion. One way to suppress discussion is to monopolize all allotted time with a soliloquy.

When discussion of the policy finally did begin amongst all Board members, the Board’s executive was adversarial, as noted in the Ottawa Citizen. The former chair of the Board said that he simply wanted this matter to go away: “I’m interested in getting a policy over and done with.” A student governor asked that interested and knowledgeable stakeholders – the ones that were critical of the 6 October 2016 draft policy – be allowed to express their concerns to the Board, something that had not and was not allowed. The vice-chair of the Board then browbeat that governor so much that the student governor had to leave the room (see here). The vice-chair forcefully said to him, “I have a governance point: If you don’t feel you can speak for graduate students, then why are you here?”

There are two profound ironies to the above quote by the current vice-chair that were directed at the student governor [other than that these two individuals having a history, with the vice-chair previously and unapologetically accusing this student of using “the tactics of Brownshirts and Maosists”]...
Root Gorelick reporting on Carleton University's Board of Governors
Well, this is escalating quickly.

As the government increasingly turns to appalling violence in their efforts to subdue the unshakable will of the Standing Rock Sioux, the protesters fighting to protect their sacred lands have a new ally – our veterans.

Hundreds of veterans are planning to travel to North Dakota to join the protesters and assemble as “an unarmed, peaceful militia to defend water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL Security.” A Facebook page devoted to the event has 600 confirmed marchers and 4500 potential more. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) will be joining them at the protest site.

“This country is repressing our people. If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic” says prominent veteran and former Baltimore police officer Michael A. Wood.

“I’ve been watching the news, how they’re spraying everybody and using rubber bullets, and these guys are fighting for what they believe in and as a veteran we took an oath. We’re not just there to protect Americans in foreign countries. We’re here to protect this country inside of it, too” said former Marine Jade Emilio Snell.

The protesters are in desperate need of more support as police turn to riot suppression tactics commonly used in authoritarian dictatorships. Since beatings, mass arrests, and targeted sexual humiliation has failed to break the spirit of the protesters, they have turned to outright violence, using water cannons to soak protesters in freezing temperatures and unleashing brutal fusillades of rubber bullets and concussion grenades.

Hundreds have been injured from bullet fire. One protester will lose her arm after a grenade detonation sliced through her muscles in a gruesome fashion. Five to six hundred have been treated for hypothermia after being hit by water cannons. The veterans, however, are undaunted at the prospect of violence. “Bring Body armor, gas masks, earplugs AND shooting mufflers (we may be facing a sound cannon) but no drugs, alcohol or weapons” reads the Facebook page...

Hundreds Of Veterans "Self-Deploy" To Standing Rock To Defend Protesters
Lion's Roar: On your second trip to Standing Rock, you attended in your capacity as a priest, along with other clergy. What can you tell us about that gathering and the common ground that was (or was not) found there?

Wendy Egyoku Nakao: Rev. John Floberg, who has had twenty-five years of relationship with the Standing Rock Sioux through the Episcopal Church in North Dakota, issued a call for clergy to come “Stand with Standing Rock.” He’d hoped for 100, but in the end, over 500 clergy representing some fifteen denominations attended. The unifying factor was to stand with Standing Rock against the DAPL and for the protection of the water for all. I spotted at least seven Buddhist clergy there.

Rev. John laid out the agreement of the participants: Prayerful. Peaceful. Nonviolent. Lawful. We were asked not to engage in any violence and to treat law enforcement with respect. We were free to express our faith through our dress and speeches and to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux nation.

One of the most important moments was the repudiation of the 15th-century Doctrine of Discovery by eight Christian Churches on the morning of the gathering. This doctrine, issued through Papal Bulls which are still on the books of the Catholic Church, sanctioned the domination and destruction of indigenous peoples by explorers and missionaries in the interests of the spreading of Christianity. The effects of this colonizing document reverberate in the world today through our laws and basic attitudes of racism. (In 2014 at the Zen Peacemaker retreat, Steve Newcomb, a Native American lawyer who has dedicated his life to having this document renounced, taught us about its pernicious effects.)

The ceremony for renouncing the document began with representatives from eight Christian churches, which had already repudiated the document, each taking turns reading a statement of renunciation in front of Tribal Elders. Then copies of the document were given to each Elder and subsequently burned. All clergy and people at the camp in attendance were witnesses, with Rev. Floberg stating that “We [the Protestant churches represented] were wrong” about the document. Very powerful.

Following the ceremony, each clergy member was smudged with sage and then joined a procession to the bridge where a violent confrontation between militarized police and unarmed Native Americans had taken place a week prior...

Among the Bodhisattvas at Standing Rock - Lion's Roar
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 - 1870)

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Following on a previous transcript of the Alt-Right event by the New York Times' Joseph Goldstein, the Atlantic has released a video of Richard Spencer's before his organization, the National Policy Institute.

WASHINGTON — By the time Richard B. Spencer, the leading ideologue of the alt-right movement and the final speaker of the night, rose to address a gathering of his followers on Saturday, the crowd was restless.

In 11 hours of speeches and panel discussions in a federal building named after Ronald Reagan a few blocks from the White House, a succession of speakers had laid out a harsh vision for the future, but had denounced violence and said that Hispanic citizens and black Americans had nothing to fear. Earlier in the day, Mr. Spencer himself had urged the group to start acting less like an underground organization and more like the establishment.

But now his tone changed as he began to tell the audience of more than 200 people, mostly young men, what they had been waiting to hear. He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”

As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back...

Alt-Right Exults in Donald Trump’s Election With a Salute: ‘Heil Victory’ - The New York Times

The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura

The Book of TeaThe Book of Tea by Kakuzō Okakura

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Okakura's approach explains the philosophy and spirit of Japan to Western nations in a manner in keeping with a light sense of humour and irony, and the ancient adage that the wisdom of the sages, in its simplicity, sounds like the foolishness of children to the unwise. Hence, a book on the history of tea. A desirable read for students of modern Western philosophy, as Okakura does an admirable job of translating the wisdom of Dao, Zen, and Confucius into the familiar orthodoxy of German idealist language, while subtly tripping up its pretences with a smile.



View all my reviews

The Greek Tyrants

The Greek TyrantsThe Greek Tyrants by Antony Andrewes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


An intelligent overview of the history of tyrannies in ancient Greece. Andrewes quibbles unadvisedly with Aristotle and Plato over the issue of "good tyrants" - which betrays his relatively narrow reading of their theoretical work on the issue - but does much to reconstruct the murky story of Greece's earliest tyrannies and the political conditions which made them possible.



View all my reviews
Natural Bravery: Fear and Fearlessness as a Direct Path of AwakeningNatural Bravery: Fear and Fearlessness as a Direct Path of Awakening by Gaylon Ferguson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Archaya Gaylon Fergson's new book provides a novel and direct path for contemplating and practising bravery, from either a secular or Buddhist approach. For Shambhala teachers and meditators, the Archaya's book also provides a very revealing new way to contemplate, to understand, and to practice the meaning of the Four Dignities and many other key parts of the Shambhala dharma.



View all my reviews
It might be preposterous in this, the year of Trump, to even think about conservatism as an intellectual movement. Trump’s unexpected rise seems to lay bare a simple fact — that conservatism has not only lost the battle of ideas but ceded the terrain of sophisticated thought altogether.

But a deeper understanding of the intellectual currents that have coursed beneath modern conservatism is essential to explaining why those currents now appear to have dried up. Ever since George W. Bush declared Jesus Christ to be his favorite political philosopher, Republican presidential candidates have competed in a sort of anti-intellectual sweepstakes, each seeking to outdo the others in disavowing science, higher learning, and any deliberate cultivation of the mind. How did a movement once defined by intellectual intensity become so hostile to ideas?

As it happens, the year of Trump also marks the 40th anniversary of a book that has done as much as any work to explain American conservatism. In 1976, a Harvard Ph.D. named George H. Nash came out with The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. The book may not be well known to general audiences. But for scholars then and now, it has been foundational, one of those rare works that didn’t just say something new but opened up an entire field of study.

Nash presented an influential portrait of conservatism as a river fed by three tributaries of thought: Christian traditionalism, anti-Communism, and libertarianism (or classical liberalism). Although each could be rendered as a popular impulse or unthinking reflex of the mass mind, Nash insisted that all three were fundamentally intellectual traditions, nourished by a cast of characters who deserved both respect and extended study, among them James Burnham, the former socialist turned anti-Communist; Friedrich Hayek, the Austrian classical economist; and Russell Kirk, America’s answer to Edmund Burke. In Nash’s telling, these were the men (and they were almost all men) who created conservatism in the postwar years.

Nash's book illuminates a central reason for conservatism's historic success, and its recent failures.
Where is conservatism today?

What Was Conservatism? - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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