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The Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

web posted April 23, 2001

It's official, violence is legitimate in achieving your political aims.

Don't worry, you aren't caught in time warp. We're not talking about Adolph Hitler's use of street thugs to control the political process and we're defiantly not referring to the battles in the streets of the late Roman Republic between conservatives and anti-conservatives. We're talking about 2001. Anti-globalization activists recently have come out in defence of vandalism as a sometimes legitimate form of protest and one that is distinct from violence against people.

Non-violent protestors concealing their faces and clad in black destroy the car of a news team sent to cover the protests
Non-violent protestors concealing their faces and clad in black destroy the car of a news team sent to cover the protests

In case you had missed it, people in support of the protests at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City this past weekend declared at a news conference that some violence wasn't really violence. Leftist luminaries like Naomi Klein, a columnist with the ostensibly conservative Globe and Mail, and Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, declared that vandalism and property damage that may occur during the protests wasn't really violence, but a legitimate expression of rage against the "corporate globalization" of the world. If you feel threatened by a free trade pact, said Barlow and Klein, it's only natural that you will want to lash out and smash the tools of oppression. You know, like store windows for middle class merchants.

Barlow was speaking in support of José Bové, the French farmer who has been lionized by anti-globalization forces for destroying a McDonald's restaurant in France. Bové said ahead of the summit that smashing windows in the fight against free trade is not violence.

Non-violent protestors destroy a security gate for their cause
Non-violent protestors destroy a security gate for their cause

"Even if some windows are going down on Saturday, that is not violence. Violence is the free market," he told reporters on April 18, also stating that the 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle as non-violent.

Klein agreed completely, stating that, "We have to make a distinction between violence and vandalism."

If you believe in the core mission statement that drives this magazine, you know what we believe property rights are a fundamental human right. Having your property attacked is no different from your being attacked. You heard them. You know what to do now, don't you? When the inevitable happens, don't blame us. Talk to Barlow, Bové and Klein.

The Vinegar in Freedom Award

There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.

web posted April 23, 2001

While we can't state that we are entirely behind the Summit of the Americas process hoping to bring a free trade agreement to the western hemisphere, this journal does look at it as a step forward.

United States President George W. Bush confers with Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the beginning of the Summit of the Americas opening session on April 21, in Quebec City. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley looks on.
United States President George W. Bush confers with Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the beginning of the Summit of the Americas opening session on April 21, in Quebec City. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley looks on.

It's no secret that free trade zones are really trade exclusion zones. The free trade pact between Canada, the United States and Mexico has brought tangible benefits to all three nations, but countries that sit outside of that deal have seen few benefits, regardless of whether they would be solid members who would bring greater access to markets and greater economic freedom for their peoples.

That said, the current process does promise rewards for the entire hemisphere. With the exception of Cuba, a communist tyranny that continues to murder its own citizens, all nations who wished to be there were represented at the Quebec City meeting. Countries who join into any future agreement will be required to respect the human rights of their citizens and continue to promote democratic institutions, proving once again that free trade and political freedom are inexorably linked.

Any deal that comes out of this process will be leagues better than the bureaucratic, statist worshipping nightmare that the European Union is. Doubtless that deal wouldn't be welcomed with open arms from people who believe in total and free trade, but as we said, it will be a step forward.

Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? Email ESR with your candidates!




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