“U of T graduate refuses degree in convocation protest”

Michael Vipperman doing 'something' - David Cooper/ Toronto Star

Michael Vipperman doing ‘something’ – David Cooper/ Toronto Star

Toronto News: U of T graduate refuses degree in convocation protest – thestar.com.

*edit/ June 16, 2012 – I’ve added a Real News Network video (while YouTube allows it), and a link to some others that are related, addressing the question “Where is America’s industrial policy?” They are at the bottom of the post. Where is Canada’s industrial policy? We’ve got Dutch Disease, more or less, and our government is intent on propping up dirty, dangerous oil, which, thanks to ‘trade’ agreements, we ‘have to’ give to the US, even once we don’t have enough for ourselves. Check out Gordon Laxer’s article titled “Canadian Energy Security.” While we import oil, not from safer northern states like Norway, but from OPEC. Keep in mind that as oil goes, so do armies, at least as we know them. And if uncle Sam, who drinks deeply of our oil, is anything, he’s militarized.

*edit, June 17, 2012 – I apologize for this overly long post. It may come across as a little choppy. I don’t know. What happens is that I take on a big (post) project and, because I want it to be good, I try not to rush it. The problem is, I can’t stick to it. There aren’t enough hours in the day. And I’m single! So I lose ‘my’ focus. I even get my material mixed up. In addition, In between 12 hour shifts, I have only a little time and energy for working on my blog. Therefore, I don’t really try to. I flit from website to website. The problem with that is, pretty soon other news items and developments, sometimes relating to the post I was working on, come across my radar, increasing my disconnect from the post I was working on. Sometimes I tack that extra stuff onto the post I started then abandoned, when I finally get around to it. I don’t think that’s the ideal way to build a post. I just now noticed that I had a previous draft for this post, with a different working title. It has material in it that this one doesn’t. That’s life. At this time.

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

** In a sea of smiling, young faces and black graduation robes at Thursday’s University of Toronto Convocation Hall ceremonies, one person stood out: the serious young man with the red, floppy brimmed hat, long brown hair and red square pinned to his gown.

He stood out even more when he advanced toward the podium and had words with a marshal who wanted to know why he was carrying a sign that said “no’’ and suggested he not go further with it.

But after a few awkward seconds, while the announcer waited for the small drama to be played out, the young man’s name was announced and Michael Vipperman went up to the podium, where various U of T officials and other dignitaries were seated. He turned and faced the audience, held up his “no’’ sign and said, “I hereby renounce this degree.’’

The 26-year-old also handed out pamphlets to a few people on the podium explaining why he was rejecting his honours bachelor of arts degree and left the stage. **

My online comment in response to the above linked-to article follows:

** Students see fascists coming for them – and most do nothing. As did their parents. As their offspring will do. Yes, The monster that capitalists and their tools created is scary and will devour any – worshippers and non worshippers – who stand [in] it’s way, but the rational approach to that (now) giant problem isn’t to pretend it doesn’t exist. Of course, Only students who care bother to ponder how to respond. The thing is, those who do ‘something’ have probably figured out that it starts with caring. Solutions flow from that, rather than from some authority or expert saying exactly what we should do. And they’ve figured out that each will do what each is able to, according to the talents possessed and the opportunities available. ‘That’ is the solution. If the CIA (as documented) can sneak student spies into schools, I think we can make room for students who object. **

“As David Price has brilliantly documented, the CIA and other intelligence agencies “today sneak unidentified students with undisclosed links to intelligence agencies into university classrooms. A new generation of so-called flagship programs have quietly taken root on campuses, and, with each new flagship, our universities are transformed into vessels of the militarized state.”

“The Pentagon’s desire to turn universities into militarized knowledge factories producing knowledge, research and personnel in the interest of the Homeland (In) Security State should be of special concern for intellectuals, artists, academics and others who believe that the university should oppose such interests and alignments…

“There is more at stake here than the corrpution of academic fields, faculties and the overall ideal of the university as a democratic public sphere. There is the total transformation of the state from a liberal social one into a punishing state.” – Henry Giroux (pg 225 of an entry titled “War Colleges” in “Hopeless – Barack Obama And The Politics Of Illusion,” edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank)

But it figures. The people are (unnecessarily) the enemy. Who do you send to deal with the enemy? For one thing, As long as corporations have desired to and felt the need to capture governments, there is no reason for us to expect them to ignore educational institutions. (And if that’s happening down south, my fellow Canadians, reast assured it’s happening here or will be.) As Thomas Friedman said, “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas.” (See Third World Traveler’s section titled “Corporate Control Of American Democracy.”)

Corporations and the Pentagon are partners, like a husband and wife, like banks and our tax dollars in (captured) government treasuries, like ceos and preferred stock options, like priests and their flocks, like the good cop Democrats and the bad cop Republicans (who Dennis Kucinich referred to as Demipublicans). And if it isn’t the Pentagon, because Canada doesn’t have a Pentagon, then it’s simply whatever organs of war making and repression the state wields, always in concert with what uncle Sam wants, risking vaporization for thinking and behaving differently. Corporations are taking over educational institutions via privatization and indoctrination and when the husband is boss you can take that to mean the wife is also your boss.

A book I recently bought and then lost when I left it on a bus, fortunately not before reading it, mentions Peter Munk’s influence within the University of Toronto. The book is “The Trouble With Billionaires” and it’s authors are Linda McQuaig and Neil Brooks. I found the details of the story about Peter Munk to be very interesting. I can’t quote from the book, until I replace it, but I can quote from a Toronto Star excerpt of it:

** This aspect of philanthropy is rarely mentioned in the public feting of wealthy benefactors. On the contrary, the role of philanthropy in funding universities — as well as hospitals, museums, art galleries, concert halls and opera houses — is typically advanced as one of the reasons we shouldn’t be concerned by the rise of billionaires. After all, we’re told, our public institutions need money, following the cutbacks of the 1990s.

Of course, the problem is circular. If governments hadn’t cut tax levels so deeply — particularly for those at the upper end — there would be sufficient revenue to sustain our public institutions, as there was in the early postwar years.

The public also has an inflated sense of how much financing wealthy donors actually provide through philanthropy. For instance, there was much celebration in April 2010 when it was announced that a new $35 million donation from Peter Munk would enable the University of Toronto to establish a school of global studies. The new Munk School of Global Affairs (incorporating the existing Munk Centre for International Studies) is to be housed in a century-old stone building on fashionable Bloor Street West, and feature an elevated pixel board flashing the latest world news headlines.

But, although it wasn’t mentioned in the announcement, Munk will receive a $16 million tax reduction for his $35 million contribution, reducing his actual personal contribution to $19 million. So he will really be paying just a little more than half the cost of his contribution, while the government (Canadian taxpayers) will be paying just a little under half. For that matter, if Munk made his donation in the form of shares in publicly traded companies — as most donors do — then his tax savings will be considerably larger (possibly by millions of dollars) and his personal contribution far smaller than $19 million.

The Ontario and federal governments also announced that they would each contribute $25 million to the new Munk school, bringing the total contribution of Canadian taxpayers to at least $66 million. But when it came to naming the building, the taxpayers’ $66 million simply disappeared; only Munk’s $19 million (or less) counted. Accordingly, the new school, with its flashy building on Bloor Street, has been named after Munk, ensuring that the thousands of people passing by daily will be confronted with a constant reminder of Peter Munk’s commitment to higher education and global understanding…

But, according to Munk’s written agreement with the university, the Munk donations will be paid over an extended time period, with much of the money to be paid years from now — and subject to the Munk family’s approval of the school. For that matter, the school’s director will be required to report annually to a board appointed by Munk “to discuss the programs, activities and initiatives of the School in greater detail.” This sure sounds like Munk will have influence over the school’s direction — and will indeed be able to withhold money if the school doesn’t please him.

Equally disturbing is the fact that the agreement stipulates that the school will also house the Canadian International Council — a right-leaning think-tank that has been pushing to replace Canada’s earlier role as a leading UN peacekeeping nation with a more prominent role in U.S.-led war efforts. **

I’m surprised that more leftwing writers haven’t said more about Vale Inco’s (former, it appears) influence over television in Ontario. It isn’t just mining for gold, etc, that these companies are doing. They’re mining our institutions for the kinds of hearts and minds that they can use to further their insane corporatist goals.

There are a number of RNN videos dealing with this subject. To see them, click here: link to RNN videos about American industrial policy

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