The tragedy of the left’s discourse on Iran

The electoral coup and the subsequent uprising and suppression of the revolting voters in Iran have prompted all sorts of analyses in Western media from both the right and the left, wrote York Professor Saeed Rahnema in the first of a two-part opinion piece published in the Daily News Egypt Sept. 8. The right, mostly inspired by the neo-con ideology and reactionary perspectives, dreams of the re-creation of the Shah’s Iran, looks for pro-American/pro-Israeli allies among the disgruntled Iranian public, and seeks an eastern European type velvet revolution. As there is very little substance to these analyses, they are hardly worth much critical review, wrote Rahnema.

As for the left in the West, confusions abound…Some intellectuals signed petitions along with their Iranian counterparts, while others chose to remain silent. But disturbingly, like in the situations in Gaza or Lebanon, where Hamas and Hezbollah uncritically became champions of anti-imperialism, for some other people on the left, [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad has become a champion because of his seemingly firm rhetoric against Israel and the US.

One of the most shocking analyses of the situation in Iran is by the renowned controversial left writer and academic James Petras. wrote Rahnema. In his piece “Iranian Elections: ‘The Stolen Elections’ Hoax”, Petras conclusively denies any wrongdoings in the Iranian elections and confidently goes into the detail of the demographics of some small Iranian towns, with no credibility or expertise in the subject.

The most stunning aspect of the Petras piece is the total absence of any sympathy for all the brave women, youth, teachers, civil servants and workers who have been so vigorously campaigning for democracy, human rights, and political freedoms, risking their lives by spontaneously pouring into the streets when they realized they were cheated. Instead we see sporadic references to “comfortable upper class enclave”, “well-dressed and fluent in English” youth, etc., wrote Rahnema. 

Women are not mentioned even once, nor is there any recognition of their amazing struggle against the most obscurantist policies such as stoning, polygamy and legal gender discriminations. Neither is there any reference to trade union activists, writers and artists, many of whom are in jail. Instead, the emphasis is on crude class analysis.

Conservative ideals drive Hummer ownership

A team of researchers has found that Hummer owners say their vehicle choice is strongly related to their personal morals, wrote Keith Barry in Wired Sept. 24. Of course, those morals are guns, guts and gas guzzlers.

According to an article published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Americans who believe in rugged individualism and the frontier myth see an H2 as John Wayne on wheels. “As we studied American Hummer owners and their ideological beliefs, we found that they consider Hummer driving a highly moral consumption choice,” wrote the authors, which include Markus Giesler, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “For Hummer owners it is possible to claim the moral high ground.”

Researchers Marius Luedicke, Craig Thompson, and Giesler interviewed 20 “US-born and raised” Hummer owners who said their vehicles are rolling representations of their beliefs, the same way that environmentalists might be more likely to choose a Prius or Starbucks-haters might be proud to sit at an independent coffee shop.

“Our analysis of the underlying American identity discourses revealed that being under siege by (moral) critics is a historically established feature of being an American,” the authors wrote. “The moralistic critique of their consumption choices readily inspired Hummer owners to adopt the role of the moral protagonist who defends American national ideals.”

Proponents see red over green plan

The tricky business of going green in Ontario just got more complex on Thursday as the McGuinty government introduced a mandatory "Buy Ontario" component for new solar and wind projects, wrote the Ottawa Citizen Sept.25. But in trying to strike a balance between competing interests, the Liberals appear to have rattled all sides in the debate.

“The back and forth here is remarkable,” said York University professor Mark Winfield, who teaches in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. “It’s almost erratic.”

Winfield pointed to the decision forcing wind turbines to be at least 550 metres away from the nearest building. That setback is a “fairly restrictive approach,” he says, one that will hamper wind development in densely populated southern Ontario. (Turbines near noisy highways will be exempt.)

Winfield said the decision “really kind of caves in to local objections to wind projects.”

Alzheimer’s expert among Brock alumni honoured

York grad Mary Guerriero-Austrom (MA ’83, PhD ’89)is about to become one of the world’s foremost leaders in the field of Alzheimer’s disease and aging, wrote Niagara This Week Sept. 24.

Guerriero-Austrom holds the Wesley P. Martin Professor of Alzheimer Disease Education at Indiana University in Indianapolis, the world’s first and only endowed professorship for Alzheimer disease education.

After graduating from Brock University in 1981, she obtained her master’s degree and PhD in psychology at York University’s Faculty of Health.

Osgoode grad part of i4i patent battle

Risks don’t faze Loudon Owen (LLB ’83) much, wrote The Globe And Mail’s Report on Business Magazine Sept. 25 in a story about Toronto software manufacturer i4i Inc.’s patent court battle with Microsoft Inc. Indeed, as the hard-driving business guy who complements i4i’s nerdy programmer, founder and chief technology officer Michel Vulpe’s, he completes the array of clichés for a screenplay. Owen, 51, has an MBA from the prestigious INSEAD international business school in Fontaine-bleau, France, and a law degree from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. He remains managing partner of McLean Watson.

Ottawa to vet Nortel’s US selloff plan

The federal government will review the US$900-million sale of Nortel Network Corp.’s enterprise division to New Jersey-based Avaya Inc., Industry Minister Tony Clement announced, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 25.

Analysts said the deal is likely to go forward regardless of any review, given the free-market philosophy of the current government.

The review for the sale of Nortel’s enterprise unit to Avaya, a global communication systems company, “would have happened anyway,” said Theo Peridis, a professor of strategic management and international business at the Schulich School of Business at York University. But because of the politicized atmosphere around the approval of the wireless assets sale and the subsequent backlash, he said, federal Industry Minister Tony Clement called a news conference to announce it because “they need to show that they…are not here to sell out Canada.”

Schulich executive MBAs are best paid, says Globe

Go [to the] Schulich School of Business at York University if you long to play in the big leagues: Schulich graduates command an average salary of $170,000, the highest of any Canadian EMBA program, wrote The Globe And Mail’s Report On Business Magazine Sept. 25. Students complete a two-week residency at the Kellogg School of Management in Chicago, and a 10-day international study seminar at partner schools in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Alumni may take elective courses at Kellogg or Schulich tuition-free.

Association is part(s) of the solution

Canadian auto parts makers are getting back on track in the slowly reviving global auto industry, thanks in large part to the efforts of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, wrote The Edmonton Sun Sept. 25 in a story about a Business Development Bank of Canada measure to financially support struggling parts suppliers by funding part of their costs to fill new orders until the economy stabilizes.

“Parts makers usually get working credit from banks based on their accounts receivables. Because they haven’t had orders to fill, they haven’t been able to get credit. Now that orders are coming in, they don’t have money to buy the raw materials to fill the orders,” says Gerry Fedchun (LLM ’80), president of the APMA and a graduate of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. “This initiative will really help the supply base until they can get back to business as normal.”

The son of a lifelong auto-plant worker, Fedchun was born and raised in Windsor. “My father worked in the industry from the time he came home from World War II until the day he retired. It was an industry everyone enjoyed and you worked hard but you were well paid,” Fedchun says.

Fine Arts grad enters film in Calgary festival

Mexican-born director Nicolas Pereda (BFA ’05, MFA ’07) has strong connections to Canada – he has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts – and has created a quiet, contemplative look at relationships centred around an unseen lost dog, wrote the Calgary Herald Sept. 25 in a story about his film Juntos, which is entered in the Calgary International Film Festival.