Boyce Richardson: Unseemly American jubilation of dancing in the street over the death of an adversary
Boyce Richardson was born March 21, 1928 in in Wyndham, Southland, New Zealand. Today he resides in Ottawa Canada.
It was Invercargil, New Zealand, Richardson began his career in journalism at the Southland Times and later the Southland Daily News. After a brief stint as a reporter in Australia, and inspired by Nehru he went to India to live and work at Nilokheri, a utopian community north of New Delhi. In 1951 he moved to Britain, where in the depressed still rationed postwar economy, he had great difficulty finding any kind of employment. Of this period in his life he subsequently wrote in his autobiography:
"I suppose this experience of unemployment was valuable for me. I discovered that it is almost the most debilitating experience a person can have in life, totally sapping one's self-esteem, and plunging one into a maelstrom of depressive thoughts and feelings from which, eventually, one despairs of ever emerging. It certainly gave me a respect for the problems of laid-off workers, so airily dismissed by the media and their consulting economists, during times of what they nowadays call 'economic downturn'. Full employment should be the first social good of any decent government."
Serendipitously he answered an ad in the New Statesman that landed him at Newbattle Abbey College where he studied writing under the great Scottish poet, Edwin Muir. In 1954 Richardson emigrated to Canada, first joining the Winnipeg Free Press then the Montreal Star . From 1960 to 1968 he was the newspaper's correspondent in London.
Richardson supported aboriginal peoples seeking justice in their struggle against the massive James Bay Project. In films made with the National Film Board of Canada (Cree Hunters of Mistassini, 1974) and books (Strangers Devour the Land, 1976) he created "a chronicle of the assault upon the last coherent hunting culture in North America, the CreeIndians of Quebec, and their vast primeval homelands". He did prescient work on anti-globalization like the NFB documentary Super-Companies in 1987. This explored the role of multinational corporations such as Alcan; scooping films like The Corporation by more than a decade. When an article he wrote: Corporations: How Do We Curb Their Obscene Power? was rejected by a "progressive" periodical he posted it to the Internet in 1996, to worldwide interest. It was an early instance of distributing writing which might not otherwise see the light of day in mass media. Indeed, in that same year Richardson began what he described as his "sounding off pages": Boyce'sPaper as an alternative means of publishing his views. Years later it may be one of the oldest continuing examples of what has become the ubiquitous Blog.
His work has won a number of awards, including co-winning a 1961 National Newspaper Award for a series of articles on Canada and the European Economic Community, published by the Montreal Star. Cree Hunters of Mistassini won the Flaherty Award for 1974, from the British Society for Film and Television Arts, for the best documentary in the tradition of Robert Flaherty, and a special Award from the Melbourne Film Festival, 1975. Super-Companies won the Golden Apple Award at the 1990 National Educational Film and Video festival in the US; and the Red Ribbon Award at the American Film and Video Festival in 1990.
The article that follows appeared on Richardson's blog on May 3, 2011.
Source: adapted from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boyce_Richardson
My Log 245
I thought maybe it was just me, but I am happy that I have heard one person on TV, and read one letter to the editor by people who share my distaste for the horrible American jubilation at the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Okay, the guy is dead. Okay, he wasn’t a nice man, he was a killer himself. But surely I wasn’t the only person who felt it was beneath the dignity of the President of the United States to announce that he had personally ordered and had carried out the murder of this man, living in a foreign country which was never notified of the attack. Killed, the body secured, then dumped at sea. Was this some kind of Mafia operation?
For a while, as I registered my feeling that there was something wrong with this celebrating in the US streets, I began to be overcome by a creeping fear that maybe I was, sub-consciously, some kind of closet Christian. A fate worse than death, I would say.
Anyway, not to keep making jokes about my unexpected compassion, there were also political reasons for my feeling that the news should be met with a decent, hands-off dignity. The fact is, the Americans have always, since the day the 9/11 attack happened, made too much of it. They acted as if no one in the world had ever suffered a similar disaster. Of course, the number of people killed was exceptionally large, but that was a result of a circumstance which even the terrorists involved could never have expected, the total collapse of these tall buildings in New York. Without that unexpected event, the death toll would have been about the same as in many such incidents that have happened over the years around the world. In other words, the only exceptional thing about the attack was that it happened on American soil, and took the lives of American citizens. As we know, the assumption in the United States is that an American life counts more than does the lives of any number of other nationalities.
Thus, the assumption that the death of the so-called (but even this is unproven) mastermind of the incident is an event of epoch-making importance because it is somehow an act of American revenge for the death of Americans is all of a piece with the assumption that the original attack on the World Trade centre was an event of exceptional importance because it happened to Americans.
It is all, I suppose, part of the colossal error of judgment by George W. Bush to launch the United States into a “war on terror”, and to declare that whoever was not with them was against them in what he called a war on evil --- as if evil is waiting out there, armed to the teeth, and ready to launch an assault at any moment on the Army of the Good, comprised of young Americans.
Consequent on this colossal misjudgment has come the building of the special prison at Guantanamo Bay where people who have never been charged can be kept incarcerated indefinitely; and that, too, presupposes a change in the underlying concepts of justice administered through the rule of law that the United States always boasts is its peculiar contribution to the goodies in this world.
In describing these peculiarities of the US system of government, I am inexorably forced back on to one overwhelming fact: the basic document by which the US system of government was established, known as the Declaration of Independence, not only dedicates the nation to the concept that all men are created equal, but was drawn up --- no doubt with tongue firmly implanted in cheek --- by slaveowners. This is a contradiction, or, if you like, an hypocrisy, that has informed the whole history of the United States ever since it was founded. And its existence has led inexorably to this moment where the people are dancing in the streets because their president has presided over the illegal murder of an adversary.
It makes me shudder, this while thing.
Source: Richardson's blog: http://boycerichardson.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-log-245-unseemly-american-jubilation.html