What I Meant to Say
Like all my other cousins, I love Freddy very much. Fred is a heavy user of social networks, for both social and business reasons.
Fred has a wedding coming up in Mexico in a couple of weeks time. So, in the good Facebook tradition of it's easier to pick my friends' brains than look on my foreign ministry's website, he posted the following, "Fred is wondering if anyone knows whether Canadians need any kind of visa for travel to Mexico".
I'm not criticising Fred, because lazy Menachem would do the same thing, but as also in Facebook tradition, a post can potentially go anywhere -- it can develop a life of his own -- and it often does. The first comment posted, from one of Fred's nephews, succinctly answered the question, "nope! you don't". And outside of the artificial world of social networking, it would have ended there.
But Facebook has its own dynamic. "No. I think Mexicans may now need visas to come to Canada, but no way the Mexican gov't would reciprocate, and give us yet another reason to vacation in Cuba or the D.R. instead." Maybe this is known Canadian doublespeak, but it does not enlighten me.
"U need a tourist visa. I think you can get one on arrival or through a travel agent."
And everyone knows an expert. "My Canadian friend says no to needing a Visa."
As most of you, my dedicated readers know, I can never resist a good kibbitz -- I have something to add to just about every conversation, even if I know naught about Canadian or Mexican immigration procedures, nor care too much. But social network sites were tailor designed to answer my social cravings.
So my tuppence worth was, "If u need a visa, what's the point of nafta?"
N.A.F.T.A. is the North American Free Trade Agreement, a trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico designed to encourage free trade between the countries of North American.
NAFTA is a very powerful agreement. So powerful in fact that is overrides the sovereign rights of its constituent members. I remember a case a few years back where a U.S. company (I can't recall the company name -- I'm lazy today -- so I'll allow you to find it on the web) which opened a factory in the Canadian outback. The [few] locals didn't like the way this plant was polluting their environment [and it was polluting it]. The Canadian Federal government agreed and the democratically elected parliament passed (general) legislation, in essence forcing the U.S. company to clean up its act, at not inconsiderable expense I may add. The company complained to the NAFTA controlling commission. The commission ruled in favour of the company, effectively overwriting Canadia's constitutional government. Unknown faceless foreigners controlling my country, my atmosphere, my water, my national resources.
I'm not sure whether or not the next post on Fred's thread was targeted at me. It said, "There is a country in between you know!" Well, yes I did know that, but what has that got to do with price of tea in China, or of cheap clothes manufactured in Mexico. I assume there are direct flights between Mexico and Canada. Or does the U.S. require a flyover visa, just in case of an emergency landing? Or must the aircraft fly this route over the Atlantic Ocean, outside the U.S. territorial waters?
Next postt, "Nope . . . but Mexicans need a visa to come to Canada". Again, I'm can't be certain to which question or correspondant "Nope" refers.
To which I responded (I should say I think I responded -- my post was mysteriously missing), "Of course, the Mexicans are second class humans".
I assumed my thoughts on this post were been obvious, but I'll explain them here quickly. I would expect a trade treaty to at least attempt to level the playing field between the populations in the signatory countries. I would expect that the treaty to allow freedom for people, not for just their goods. Thus if the Canadians (or Americans) require a preapproved tourist visa for Mexicans entering their fatherland, how can they expect their citizens to be allowed to enter Mexico at will, unless of course the Mexicans are second rate people, vis-à-vis the other NAFTA members?
But we all know better than that. The treaty was more likely brought into being as a result of the greed that exists in our [first world] societies. The Americans and the Canadians want cheap manpower. They could achieve this by allowing Mexicans into their countries to work, but "we don't want them living in our country" -- not them, not their wives and certainly not their children. The Mexicans signed the agreement because it brings work/jobs into their third world economy.
The treaty also allows one country with stricter environmental regulations to pollute its neighbours at will.
Fred sent me a private email. "Please put only politically correct comments on my Facebook page. It is read by hundreds of people and I don't want to monitor it."
My reply: "I'm just honest. Sorry." And I am, honest that is. And I don't buy this P.C. rubbish.
This above correspondance raises a couple of issues. First, Facebook is a dangerous environment. Fred has 525 friends (might be 524 after this article sees the light of day). My daughter has more than 1,400. Lots of people reading. Are they really all friends? What are they monitoring? There are many cases of potential employers demanding access to a prospective's Facebook page. Scary.
Any [undeleted] post will be viewable forever. Your old political views may change, but in the Facebook world they are static. It's like speaking a few words and the words continue to echo around the world forever and ever. Scary. And there's no way of predicting who may hear your words, whenever in the future.
Do my friends' opinions reflect on me? negatively or positively? How about the length of their noses? Their badly tagged photographs?
My friend and I may understand what we mean, but strangers? and in writing? without intonation? Facebook posts lack body language.
Is my friend's friend my friend? And my friends' friends? And then there are all the knowledge predicates. What I know about my friend, you may not, so I can't make any assumptions.
As a forby myself, I guess I am expected to be more sensitive to P.C. Perhaps I would be if it was reciprocal. But it isn't. An Englishman is not allowed to call another citizen of his country a towelhead or a paki, but the latter are free to express any language to describe the indigenous Englishmen. Gordon Brown was last week called on to resign by Muslims in England because he is a traitor to Islam. He must be immediately replaced by a Muslim. And this is the same Gordon Brown who bent over backwards in July, to ban ministers from using the word 'Muslim' in connection with the terrorism/terrorists.
It is now so absurd, that one is not permitted to criticise POTUS. Because criticising the black president is considered racist. Like "if he were white you won't dare say that". Because, so goes the assumption, criticism cannot be separated from the man's skin colour. The logical conclusion is that because I disagree with him, no matter how strong and logical my argument may be, I am only arguing with him because he is black and because I am a racist. America today has attained reverse racism.
Poet, Emma Lazarus, whose poem The New Colossus is inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty at the entrance to New York harbour, symbolically welcoming immigrants to American shores, wrote, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . I lift my lamp beside the golden door!".
Clearly this dictum does not apply to all of America's NAFTA partners.
Menachem Kuchar, 29th October, 2009
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