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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shame on NY Times for 75 years of genocide denial

Well, if Canadian papers are starting to get it right, it seems their esteemed colleagues south of the border are still getting (and giving) it wrong.

William F. Jasper writes in New American:

The New York Times prides itself on being the national "newspaper of record" and still carries its longtime motto, "All the News That's Fit to Print" in the upper left-hand corner of its front page. If we are to believe the Times' motto, the week-long Holodomor commemoration didn't take place, or at least it didn't qualify as "news." A search of the Times website — using both visual scan and their own search engine — yielded zero results for current or recent stories. ...

There was plenty of Times coverage of other breaking European and World "news" on November 22: an increase in boar hunting in Germany, the semi-retirement of famed French chef Olivier Roellinger, Russian President Medvedev's trip to Venezuela, an inquiry into the alleged crimes of General Franco in Spain during the 1930s, etc.

The Times neglect of the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor is especially inexcusable, inasmuch as the Times served as an indispensable handmaiden to Stalin as he carried out this horrendous crime against humanity. While the communists carried out the mass annihilation of the Ukrainian farmers, the Times assured the Western world that all reports of starvation in Ukraine were merely anti-Soviet propaganda. ...

The Times' defense in recent years — that Duranty pulled the wool over the eyes of the Times — is shown to be likely false. The Gordon Dispatch indicates that it was the Times itself, not merely Duranty, that was responsible for the pro-Stalin, pro-Soviet slant in the Times' pages. But in the case of Holodomor the Times was guilty of far worse than "slanting" the news; it was a willful collaborator in a "crime of the century," a willful collaborator in blatant propaganda to cover up that crime. The Times has never mentioned the Gordon Dispatch. ...

As far as the Times is concerned, apparently, they will be airbrushed out of history, along with the Holodomor commemoration this year and the original victims of the Holodomor 75 years ago.

Full article here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Canadian media finally acknowledging enormity of Holodomor

What a difference 25 years makes.

I recall during the 50th anniversary commemorations in Winnipeg there was a lot of disbelief in media circles about the facts surrounding the Holodomor. That media disbelief is described pretty thoroughly in this article originally published in The Ukrainian Weekly.

... On this gruesome anniversary, the Ukrainian community in most Canadian cities fought an uphill battle in getting the newspapers and television stations, especially the CBC, to inform the public about this almost unknown genocide. "Too academic," "too historical," not newsworthy enough," "we can't mark every anniversary that comes along" and "that issue has been well-covered in the past" were the replies of a Winnipeg Free Press city editor to inquiries why events related to the anniversary were not reported. Only one letter to the editor was printed at the time, even though many had been sent in. It took a whole month of inquiries at first, then downright badgering by angry individuals before the Winnipeg Free Press printed three articles about the Famine [April 9, 1983]. Ironically, after all that, one of the articles carried the headline "Famine in Stalin's Russia [sic]." A separate box carried the statement:

"Few events of such enormity have attracted so little public clamor or more press apathy that the government-programmed famine which led to the extermination in 1932-33 of 8 million people in Ukraine. The Free Press was a party to this apathy -- in the years immediately after the famine and in efforts this year to publicize its 50th anniversary. Editors took for granted it was a matter best left to history books and academics, ignoring much significant
new research on the subject. Readers have noted the shortcomings. These pages acknowledge it."

Fortunately, these days there seems to be less press apathy, as this recent Winnipeg Free Press editorial illustrates.

Based on the numbers alone, body for body, victim for victim, murder for murder, the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933 may be the single greatest crime against humanity that has ever been committed.

... [The world] is a worse and more dangerous place ... because of the continuing refusal of many people, many governments even, to acknowledge that the Ukrainian Famine occurred and that it was a deliberate act of genocide committed by Stalin and the Soviet government against the Ukrainian people. ...

There is, and never was, any rational reason for accepting the Stalin line on the Ukrainian Famine, yet the West eagerly bought into it, and many people still do. The time has past, however, when honest denial of the Holodomor is possible, just as honest denial of the Holocaust is no longer possible. The Famine, too, should be engrained in our conscience and our consciousness lest we remain its accomplices.

Full editorial here.

Also this weekend, the National Post newspaper published an article about two British journalists, Malcolm Muggeridge and Gareth Jones. These two men courageously reported the truth of what was happening in Ukraine in 1932-33. For their efforts, Muggeridge lost his job and Jones lost his life under "mysterious" circumstances.

... They told the truth when all around them their press colleagues were inadvertently (or, in one case, deliberately) misleading the public.

Gareth Jones ... found people starving everywhere he went, and he wrote about it. The Western press corps, mostly confined to Moscow ... rejected Jones's reports.

As the world now knows (although it took more than half a century and the opening of Soviet archives to confirm), approximately 10 million people were deliberately starved to death by the collectivization policies pursued by Joseph Stalin...

[I]n the spring of 1933, young Malcolm Muggeridge ... described a man-made famine that had become a holocaust: peasants, millions of them, dying like famished cattle, sometimes within sight of full granaries, guarded by the army and police. ...

Few believed him. ... He was sacked by the Guardian and forced out of Russia. He was vilified, slandered and abused. Walter Duranty's voice led the chorus of denunciation and denial, although privately Duranty [said] at least 10 million people had been starved to death ...

Beatrice Webb -- Muggeridge's aunt by marriage, and a longtime Soviet apologist -- said that Muggeridge's famine reports were "base lies." The very Reverend Hewlett Johnson, Anglican Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, from the pulpit praised Joseph Stalin's "steady purpose and kindly generosity." George Bernard Shaw made a whirlwind tour of Russia and pronounced himself satisfied that there was ample food for all in the worker's paradise.

Vindication for both Jones and Muggeridge was a long time coming. ... Today, 75 years later, vindication is complete, as [they] posthumously receive the Ukrainian Order of Freedom. If there is a comparable Award for journalistic integrity, they deserve that too.

Full article here.

Maybe one day, denying that the Holodomor happened, and/or that it was a genocide, will be universally considered a hate crime, just as Holocaust denial (rightly) is today.

I just hope it doesn't take another 25 years to progress to that point.

American astronauts display good taste in music

According to a NASA report issued last Friday:

... Endeavour crew members, Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Don Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Greg Chamitoff, and the station crew, Commander Mike Fincke and flight engineers Yury Lonchakov and Sandra Magnus, were awakened at 8:05 a.m. CST.

The music was for Piper. The song was in the Ukrainian language, which she learned as a child. It was "Unharness Your Horses, Boys," ... performed by The Ukrainians.

The full NASA STS-126 Report #14 report can be read here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New award for multiculturalism announced

The Canadian government is honouring the memory of the "father of multiculturalism" with the annual Senator Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism, which will be presented each year to an individual or an organization that has demonstrated excellence in promoting the multiculturalism for which Senator Yuzyk stood.

The announcement was made by Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism at the Canadian Club in Winnipeg on Nov. 13, 2008.

Yuzyk was undoubtedly inspired by the prescient words of Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir (John Buchan), who in 1936 told a Manitoba audience from the Ukranian community that “You will all be better Canadians for being also good Ukrainians.”

Paul Yuzyk paid tribute to the French and British founding, and the Aboriginal peoples who were here before. But he added, in his maiden speech in the Senate in 1964, that “with the setting up of other ethnic groups, which now make up almost a third of the population, Canada has become multicultural in fact.”

He became known as the “father of multiculturalism.”

Today, to perpetuate his memory, and to strengthen the vision of “unity in diversity” to which he was so devoted, I am pleased to announce that the government is creating the annual Paul Yuzyk Award, which will be presented each year to an individual or organization that has demonstrated excellence in promoting the multiculturalism for which he stood..

The full transcript of Kenney's speech can be found here.)

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress sent out a press release today welcoming the award.

"Senator Yuzyk is widely regarded as the chief architect of Canada's multiculturalism policy and it is fitting that this award be established in his memory," said Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Senator Yuzyk was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, becoming the first Ukrainian Canadian to achieve this honour. He served in Canada's Upper Chamber for 23 years, until his death in 1986. Senator Yuzyk was born in 1913 in Pinto, Saskatchewan. His encounters with discrimination as a young teacher in search of a teaching position, which he was denied because he was a 'foreigner,' forged his determination to seek recognition for non-British, non-French-Canadian citizens. In his maiden speech in the Senate, entitled "Canada: A Multicultural Nation" he voiced the concerns of many ethnic groups that Canadians must accept the fact that Canada is not a country of two solitudes. Multiculturalism was the subject of rancorous debate until 1971, when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced an official policy of multiculturalism.

"Our community eagerly awaits the announcement of further details and looks forward to honouring the first recipient of this award," said Grod. "We commend Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, for recognizing the contribution of Senator Yuzyk to Canada."

One of the things that struck me in Kenney's speech is the emphasis on how well Ukrainians have integrated into mainstream Canadian society. While I appreciate the kind words, as someone who can be considered a "born-again Ukrainian," I see this high praise as somewhat of a "positive spin" on past societal pressures to assimilate. Especially since there was no mention made of them, or the personal consequences suffered by many Ukrainian Canadians... particularly those by Sen. Yuzyk.

But aside from that, I had a bit of a deja vu feeling. Back in about 1991, I recall his Conservative predecessor, Gerry Weiner, saying his government was getting away from funding support for "3D multiculturalism" ... the 3 D's standing for "diet, dress and dance." Kenney just used a different alliteration and a warmer, fuzzier delivery for what seems to be essentially the same message and overall philosophy. (Which, I might add, the Liberals were all too happy to adopt as their own.)

Some have said that the multiculturalism of the 1970’s was about food and folklore.

Now, as you can tell, I’ve had my share of great ethnic cuisine. And we all get a kick out of celebrations like Winnipeg’s famous Folkorama. (Prime Minister Harper certainly enjoyed his visit to the Filipino pavilion this year).

But today Canada’s cultural communities are strong enough to stand on their own, and showcase what’s best about their cultures, without depending on government handouts.

And today many of those communities are so robust that there may be a temptation amongst some new Canadians to stay within their familiar social and cultural networks, rather than venturing out into our broader society. Staying within what academics call “ethnic enclaves.”

But that would impoverish us all. It would be like a Folkorama where everyone just stays put in their own pavilions, all the time. And that wouldn’t be much fun.

But having criss-crossed this great country; having attended hundreds of events and talked to thousands of new Canadians, I am certain of this: we all want a multiculturalism that builds bridges, not walls, between communities.

We want a Canada where we can celebrate our different cultural traditions, but not at the expense of sharing common Canadian traditions.

Well, if "Canada’s cultural communities are strong enough to stand on their own" these days ... particularly the Ukrainian community, it's certainly not due to a lot of "government handouts" in the past for "food and folklore" type of celebrations.

It would be nice if that little fact were acknowledged ... and perhaps that stronger government support of Canada's cultural communities (including ethnic ones) might help along that integration process today that he is calling for. A warmer, fuzzier approach to encouraging assimilation, perhaps. And that, I think, would be a good thing.

But lest I be accused of "looking a gift horse in the mouth" I tip my hat to minister Kenney and prime minister Harper for the commendable gesture of creating this award. To their credit, this government has so far been much kinder to Canada's Ukrainian commmunity than previous ones have been.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Canuck is a Uke from Saskatchewan

Darcy Hordichuk is an exciting team addition for Canuck fans of Ukrainian descent, and of special pride to those who hail from Darcy's hometown of Kamsack, Saskatchewan ... or thereabouts.

This dedicated, determined professional athlete is drop-dead gorgeous and by all accounts an all-round nice guy well-loved by fans, friends and family. According to this article, he is also very proud of his Ukrainian small-town roots ... much to the chagrin of his wife who can't seem to get the hang of Ukrainian cookery.

Q. You're from a Ukrainian background and you love your perogies and cabbage rolls and borscht. Is your wife also of Ukrainian descent?

A. No, she's got some Swedish in her and some Irish. She's an American, from Fresno, California...

Q. Have you managed to convince her of the delights of Ukrainian food? Is she a fan?

A. Oh, yeah. That's one of the things you have to do if you want to be a Hordichuk. You have to like my Baba's cooking... It's tough on my wife because I want her to make the perogies and borscht and she can't do it quite like Baba. The standards are pretty high.

Hmm, well I suppose he could always suggest she try volunteering for a local perogy supper to get some experience... :-)

He's a pretty scrappy guy with a (well-deserved, apparently) rep as a brawler. If that sort of thing turns your crank, he's got a fight gallery on his website. Here's a recent scrap:

Personally I think brawls tend to kill the momentum of the game but I also appreciate that for a lot of hockey fans fights make the game. So I guess the NHL has found a balance of sorts...

But being a pacifist, I was pleased to see that Darcy has a softer side that has him keeping in touch pretty regularly with his fans via his website and blog, as well as the Canucks players blog.

And another surprise - he's an unabashed, outspoken Christian. He tells the story of his life, career, and faith here:

This season is turning out to be pretty exciting for Canucks fans, after a dry spell following the end of the Bertuzzi/Burke era. So I'm looking forward to seeing more of Darcy and his team-mates on TV. And who knows, maybe he'll bring the missus to a perogy supper somewhere in Metro Vancouver one of these Fridays. (You can find out where there are, and when, at the NH website.)

From Australia, with ignorance

Everyone in the entertainment and media world is all abuzz about the new Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko.

Understandable. The lady is undeniably gorgeous, and she got to play a rather unprecedented role... her character doesn't sleep with 007 and apparently is cast as a more than just another great body pretty face.

But come on. What kind of a lame title is From the Ukraine with love for this article?

It's understandable that media writers and/or editors would try to be cute and capitalize on a pop culture metaphor like the title of a well-known and related movie, "From Russia with Love."
News flash: It's 2008. Putting "the" in front of "Ukraine" is as dated as the movie the title refers back to.

No wonder the newspaper industry as we know it is dying. Isn't the "news" supposed to be, well, new?

Oh well. Long live the blogosphere!

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing Quantum of Solace, blunders notwithstanding. Bond films are so entertaining.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Russia dubs Holodomor commemorations "Ukraine's Great Famine stunt"

Wow. There's certainly little respect for the dead (specifically, Ukrainian dead) in Russian political circles, as illustrated by this article in the publication Russia Today.

[Russian president] Medvedev says it’s completely unreasonable for Kiev to describe Holodomar as a deliberate genocide against the Ukrainian people when a full and independent inquiry into the tragedy is yet to be carried out.

Well what, one may ask, have they been waiting for? It's been 75 years! But, interestingly enough, Moscow politicians haven't exactly been leading the charge for any inquiry into why, in the glory days of soviet communism, millions of Ukrainian food producers starved to death in a single year.

Much research actually has been done by many highly-credentialled and independent non-Ukrainian and non-Russian scholars and experts. The material is readily available for the use of this yet-to-be-formed inquiry and it would no doubt add some fullness to the records Moscow is still keeping under wraps.

For starters, they can send their independent inquirers to sites like this and this to start their quest for truth. Because, of course, for a full picture they would need to get all sides of the story, right?

Assuming, of course, they have any interest in any one else's side of the story.

Which may be debatable. Given that the successors (and would-be revivors?) of Russia's old gory glory days feel compelled to enter a public debate. This is the best they can do to rebut the experts:

Extreme drought and forced nationalisation of land and property are thought to be the main reasons behind the tragedy.

So there you go. Mix in a bit of truth (nationalisation of land and property) with total bunk ("extreme drought") for a 21st century stalin-era agit-prop remix.

Well, maybe that little teeny bit of truth is as much independence of thought as they can tolerate.

As for Ukrainians, after 75 years, there is no hope of anything like a Nuremburg trial ever bringing the perpetrators of this genocide to justice. They're all long dead. But after 75 years, you'd think at least the people alive today would stop the genocide denial.

What would it hurt to say "Vichnaya pamyat"? And/or maybe even "We're so sorry for your loss and will ensure nothing like that happens again"?

Yeah, well. Dream on, I guess.

Original article (and links to more like it) can be found here.

In the meantime, here's an independently-produced video with some links to resource sites... for inquiring minds genuinely interested in a full picture of this genocidal tragedy.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Return to Paradise

The other day, Molly Anne Warring's 3rd book in her Paradise Acres series arrived in the mail. After dinner, I sat down with it and a cup of tea, intending to thumb through it for a few minutes to whet my appetite for a more leisurely read later. Several hours later (and way past my bedtime), I had finished the book ... still in the same spot and my tea long gone cold.

There are few books that will keep me glued to a chair when bed is beckoning, just so I can find out "what happens next." But I could not bear to put down Return to Paradise until I did.

Such fascinating and well-developed characters and situations ... the crazy American woman, those hillbilly horse-whisperers, the black lady lawyer, the Native family, the seedy trucking tycoon, the madame, the priests, the cops and spies ... not to mention of course the main cast of Stry-Ker family members, their growing fortunes, and all the family dynamics. Some of the scenes are seared into my memory bank, particularly the wild one where the cursed Rolls Royce exploded. That story line alone would make a great Hollywood horror flick. (Gave me the chills, that's for sure.)

I liked how the story was placed in the context of Canadian historical events, such as the Air India investigation and political regime changes. I found it added depth to the storyline and colour to the historical events. Nice touch to wrap up the trilogy with a Stry-Ker returning to Ukraine.

Another emotional roller-coaster ride, with an entertainining mix of happy, sad, and mysterious characters and events in a unique western Canadian setting.

List price: $19.95.
Publisher: Borealis Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Published: August 1, 2008
ISBN: 9780888873651

The other titles in the trilogy are Paradise Acres and Lost Paradise. The set (or any individual novel) would make an ideal gift. Books can be purchased through Chapters as well as Borealis Press and Molly's website.

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