Why is a right-wing student group being promoted on rabble?

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remind remind's picture

Read over every post to see who endorsed anti-intellectualism and did not find one.

 

Found a couple of ragingly horrendous mixed metaphors and some American ideology that typifies the worst of Americans, but not much more than that.

 

 

Lots of people have education and very little intellect, and they spend most of their time trying to pretend they do...we need only look at the likes of this CON governemt to see excellent examples of this, and I will throw Iggy in for good measure.

 

 

alex alex's picture

rasmus wrote:

Quote: As far as I can tell, John Bonnar's blog posts consist entirely of regurgitated press releases from NGOs and advocacy groups. He could be replaced with a PHP script.

Wow Rasmus this is really harsh. John Bonnar's done tremendous work reporting on poverty and social housing issues, not to mention all the photos he shares with activist groups to try and raise awareness on these issues. Why do you feel it necessary to attack his integrity when you disagree with him?

Caissa

Skdadl wrote:
I think it is always good to be reminded, though, that progressives can be srsly derailed when the politics of resentment leads us to endorse anti-intellectualism, just as when we find ourselves on the defensive in the face of attacks on organized labour as elite, or when some progressives lose faith in civil liberties because they are supposedly dated bourgeois values.
Caissa agrees that this is something we should never forget.

Stargazer

And Stargazer agrees with skdadl and Caissa

Michelle

I'm kind of distressed by this thread, because I respect everyone involved, including John Bonnar, and including spatrioter and others who disagree with him on this issue.

But can we remember the person behind the blogger's name, here? Remember John? The guy who takes a million gorgeous pictures at every rally and event in the Toronto area? The guy who donates tons of his time to publicizing a lot of really progressive left-wing causes and events?

If what I'm hearing here about OUSA is true, it also sounds to me like it's kind of a regressive organization. I don't really follow student politics as much as maybe I should. But is this really how we respond to friends and allies on the left? By freaking out on them, smearing them, sending them hate email, etc.? By claiming they can be "replaced by a php script"?

I don't think John can be replaced by a php script. I highly doubt a php script could do the kind of photography and advocacy that John does. I think that it's possible that he might be mistaken in his support for OUSA, but good grief. Did you see the first comment after his blog post? She calls him a "right-wing stooge" and compares his blog to something you'd read in Maclean's. What a vicious attack.

It's just so over-the-top. No wonder he was deleting comments (and apparently he was deleting ALL comments, including supportive ones, as a way of dealing with attacks on him, according to the publisher - I guess he didn't want to be accused of only deleting critical ones).

Is this really how we treat our allies in response to what might be a mistake? This is the way to convince people? By assassinating their character and dehumanizing them? This is progressive?

Here's a sample of some of the other titles of the blog posts by this supposed "right-wing stooge":

Hardship looming, union stands firm
NDP slams McGuinty on workplace safety inspections
Healthcare advocates plan their own hearings on the future of rural and northern Ontario hospitals
Union president reacts to bill to declare TTC an essential service
Report finds Ontario coal plants to be phased out in 2010
Conference board report on P3's biased and superficial, says CUPE economist
Rally recalls murdered and missing Indigenous women

etc. etc. etc.

Caissa

The OUSA- OFS (CFS-O) split in the early nineties was multi-faceted.

There was a partisan aspect with many of the founders of OUSA being supporters of either the Libs or the Cons.

There was the old debate over what constitutes a "student issue".

There was the debate over tactics. Those who founded OUSA tended to support lobbying instead of a combination of direct action and lobbying as advocated by OFS/CFS-O)

There was debate over policy especially the abolition of tuition fees and ICLRP plans.

There was the debate over wighted voting. IN OFS schools had between 1 and 4 votes depending upon their size. This was abolished with the assistance of a large school like York FS (4 votes) and replaced with one Federation/One vote.

There was the debate over congruency. OFS was becoming a component of CFS and all OFS members would have to be members of CFS and represented at both the national and provincial level. Many of the OUSA schools had only been members of OFS.

Compounding it was the inability of the right to elect a candidate that reflected their point of view. The year I was elected both of the candidates would easily have been in the left of the NDP. We both supported the same policies. I ended up being elected with a vote of 16-14 with one abstention, with my support coming from the graduate associations and many of the schools that left to form OUSA. I almost lost the latter's support in the candidates debate by supporting plicies that they found anathema. They eventually voted for me because they saw no other alternative. However, they learned that they had little influence in the Federation and decided to form their own lobby group, OUSA.

At the same time some of the conservative graduate schools left CFS and formed the Canadian Graduate Council.

The early 90s were turbulent years in the student movement.

spatrioter

Michelle, I agree. I usually love John Bonnar's contributions, which is why I was surprised to see so many blog posts that seemed to endorse OUSA. It's why I was initially apprehensive about starting this thread in the first place.

But when I noticed that cmkl's critical comment of a previous blog entry (which was not vicious at all) was deleted, and then my comment was deleted this week, I thought we needed to have this discussion on Babble. If discussion had been allowed on the blog about OUSA and whether their campaigns should be promoted uncritically on Rabble, there would never have been a need for this thread.

I know the tone of this discussion has sometimes gone over the top, but I understand why people are angry. OUSA is seen by most progressive student activists in this province in the same way that most trade unionists view CLAC. I imagine that if a Rabble blog posted news from CLAC without any critical analysis, you'd have a lot of angry trade unionists commenting on it. And if their comments were deleted, the tone would become elevated.

There are plenty of mainstream forums for groups like CLAC and OUSA to have their news releases posted and their opinions heard. That is why people can get defensive when progressive spaces like Rabble -- which are rare -- are used to further disseminate their messaging.

But yes, John Bonnar's coverage is usually excellent, and I hope we can discuss this without personally attacking him.

pogge

Michelle wrote:
It's just so over-the-top. No wonder he was deleting comments (and apparently he was deleting ALL comments, including supportive ones, as a way of dealing with attacks on him, according to the publisher - I guess he didn't want to be accused of only deleting critical ones).

I understand what you're saying but maybe rabble should consider some kind of orientation or prep session when you bring someone on board as a blogger. If you're going to blog with an open comment section, you're going to get people who criticize and they'll range from quite civil to completely despicable. I've been called every name in the book. Personally I think each blogger should have control of his comment section and certainly should delete obvious trolls. But blogging is partly about building community and you don't do that by simply deleting all comments. If you do that, are you blogging or just writing a column with a commbox at the end that people may as well ignore? This isn't meant to be a personal dig at John Bonnar. This kind of political blogging isn't for everybody.

And that's probably enough off-topic from me.

remind remind's picture

Thanks for that history Caissa, too bad conciliation did not happen way back then, perhaps under good leadership it may have.

Caissa

Yeah, we nineties student leaders just weren't all that good.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

pogge wrote:
If you're going to blog with an open comment section, you're going to get people who criticize and they'll range from quite civil to completely despicable. I've been called every name in the book. Personally I think each blogger should have control of his comment section and certainly should delete obvious trolls. But blogging is partly about building community and you don't do that by simply deleting all comments. If you do that, are you blogging or just writing a column with a commbox at the end that people may as well ignore? This isn't meant to be a personal dig at John Bonnar. This kind of political blogging isn't for everybody.

This is a great point, relevant (for a change--mea culpa) to the OP, and worth repeating.

Unionist

Michelle, your defence of John Bonnar (who appears to be a wonderful photographer and to take a keen interest in popularizing important causes) is kind of an ad hominem in reverse.

Rasmus's point struck home with me - John's blog, on a quick scan, didn't look like "real" blogs - it looked like a digest of press releases from various organizations, without any opinion being added. If his strengths are in photography and reporting (in the sense of getting behind the headlines and analyzing, if not also providing opinion and assessment), none of that is in evidence.

I'm sorry he was apparently subjected to threats or abuse (which I didn't see), but rasmus - and I and others - are entitled to describe his blog for what it is. All this is besides the fact that it's not good to uncritically give space to opinions by OUSA (or anyone) that leave one scratching one's head as to why they're on rabble.

 

pogge

Catchfire wrote:

This is a great point, relevant (for a change--mea culpa) to the OP, and worth repeating.

I think blogging got so trendy that a lot of the media sites decided to stick commboxes at the bottom of the op-ed pages and call the editorialists "bloggers." But from what I've seen, most of them never show up in their own comments and I don't even look any more. This is one thing that I think Maclean's got right. People like Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne often participate in both their own comment threads and each other's. Same for Kady O'Malley when she was there (and from what I've seen she carried the practice over to the CBC). It makes a difference. I don't spend a lot of time in the comments on Paul Wells blog but you'll notice his comment section is really busy and there is a sizeable number of faithful visitors. If the point is to build a community and build traffic, they've succeeded.

I'm usually the one who argues against putting too restrictive a definition on a medium that's relatively new and is, after all, based on the name of a software platform that can be used in a variety of ways. But there is definitely a culture that has developed around political blogging in particular and if you're going to set up shop as a blogger and then ignore that culture, it can backfire. There are exceptions, though.

 

rasmus

Yeah, what Unionist said (hi Unionist!).

John Bonnar's protest photos are great. His reporting might be useful (I can't say - I haven't really seen it, though from his blog I can see how he might be a serviceable reporter). But I stand by my description of his blog. 

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

pogge wrote:
I think blogging got so trendy that a lot of the media sites decided to stick commboxes at the bottom of the op-ed pages and call the editorialists "bloggers." But from what I've seen, most of them never show up in their own comments and I don't even look any more. This is one thing that I think Maclean's got right. People like Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne often participate in both their own comment threads and each other's. Same for Kady O'Malley when she was there (and from what I've seen she carried the practice over to the CBC). It makes a difference.

Speaking of php scripts, I think I could be replaced by one that quoted pogge and then posted "+1" after it. At least when it comes to blogging. This is stuff rabble should really pay attention to. At the very least, John Bonnar's "blog" is not.

lover0fighter

Michelle wrote:
She calls him a "right-wing stooge" and compares his blog to something you'd read in Maclean's. What a vicious attack. It's just so over-the-top.

I sympathise with the defense of John as a long time supporter of progressive causes, activist photographer and diligent chronicaller of the events and campaign of left-wing institutions. But as someone who admits that they do not follow campus activism too closely, I think that it is also worhtwhile to understand the frustration that many campus activists feel.

Whether it is at Macleans on Campus, Globe Campus or in the plethora of conservative blogs and campus papers - campus activism within the institutions of students' unions and as grassroots collectives - are under attack. It is disappointing for people like me who really enjoy the thoughtful coverage of Rabble on most other spheres of social justice causes only to find that when it comes to student activism or post-secondary education issues Rabble is subpar. The bloggers not not plugged into either campus radicalism nor students' unions, so some foundational understanding of universities and colleges is lacking. Plus, Rabble sometimes misses reporting on some important events and issues.

I think that both sides should see that attacking John personally is misplaced, and should move forward and attempt to reform Rabble. I have emailed the editor and offered to make a list of progressive student journalists and activists from across the country who could help fill out the coverage a little more. Seeing the work and issues of the student movement misrepresented by a cut-and-paste off of a splinter group is upsetting. With more diverse voices who are authentically part of the vairous student movements, a few misplaced articles like John's would not be so upsetting.

I have not heard back yet from Rabble, but I am really hoping that this disucssion can be resolved through building a stronger Rabble.

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