Thursday, November 02, 2006

Teach-In On Afghanistan

Last week, I attended a teach-in on the topic of Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan. The speakers included two professors, a representative from the University chapter of Journalists for Human Rights, someone from the Muslim Student's Association, and a young woman who was chosen to speak because she had "been to" Afghanistan and was going to talk about her experiences. It turned out that she was actually in the military and was working in intelligence. As well, she brought a cheering section in the audience of other military who had been on the same mission as her. They took some of what was said out of context and accused the speakers of glorifying suicide bombers, comparing Canada to the Third Reich, and stated that Canada is not an occupier but rather was invited (by the Karzai government). I am actually grateful to the soldiers for coming; they presented the other side of the issue and actually hearing their reasonings for why Canada should be there reaffirmed the stupidity of it for many of us present. Honestly, they believe they are doing the right thing and all have the same arguments. It's one thing to be giving humanitarian aid or being there as peacekeepers -- which are badly needed in Darfur but instead the troops are being sent to Afghanistan -- and another to be toeing the U.S. party line and trying to forcibly instill Western values and culture. Is that wrong? You decide. Here is one of the academics who spoke. His name is Dr. Tony Simmons, and he is with Athabasca University in the Centre for Global and Social Analysis.

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