Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mayor Nenshi

Well, Calgary's got a new mayor. I suppose I could say lots about this, but I'm tired, so just a few observations...

1) I'm excited for my hometown. Like Nenshi, I was born and raised in Calgary, and I remember how much of a rarity that was becoming into my high school and university days. It's good to have a Calgary-born dude in office.

2) I've been following the later stages of the campaign as much as I can from here in Korea and it's been exciting. I feel badly for Barb Higgins being treated as she was in the last few days, but those became missed opportunities for her to really respond with poise.

3) I'm relieved that Nenshi got in. With early poll results coming in, and Nenshi way back in 3rd, I had my doubts. I was getting all worked-up and ready to start name-calling good ol' Calgary for being unable to shake its red-neck past. Of course, that's not anything approaching fair, as a vote for others does not equate to a red-neck victory or even red-neck intention. Still, it says a lot about a conservative hot-bed of a city that would elect a flamboyant Muslim mayor today. Interesting.

4) It's been fun watching facebook turn purple with young people supporting Mr. Nenshi. He certainly ran the best campaign - and no, it wasn't just a popularity contest. Had it been, Barb Higgins would have won in a land-slide. Honestly though, if you have ever seen one of his town-hall meetings on youtube or checked out his policies as they were rolled-out, you would know that he was the most capable and certainly the most inspired candidate. Dude knows what he's talking about.

5) It's also been fun watching people fall over themselves with the fact that they know the guy (not such a a rarity as he is a Calgary guy). I used to know of Naheed Nenshi - but that was sometime ago. I can report from my Elementary School days however that Naheed Nenshi was, as a student of a "Gifted and Talented Education" program through Calgary Public Schools, clearly somebody destined for bigger and better things. I'm pretty sure that I got into that program on a paperwork error, while Naheed Nenshi - Mr. Debate Club, Student Council President, Model UN spokesman, etc., etc., etc., went on to rule the Student Union at U of C, then to Harvard, then to the actual UN, and so on. I barely knew him at all as he was a few grades ahead of me, but for those in the know (being those in Oakley Centre circa 1985/'86), his name became synonymous with academic achievement. To those of us who even knew him only then, "Mayor Nenshi" is not a surprise.

6) Which brings me to my last observation before my pillow observes my head at close range: It's staggering to see how many people are uncomfortable voting for a person who they might deem as being "too smart" or "too educated". Blue collar Calgary seems to have a distinct fear of egg heads. Personally speaking, for a city, province, or country, I'm thinking that we need the smartest cat for the job. If that's true, there are few who best Naheed Nenshi in that regard. Of course, you could say similar things about Mr. Obama south of the border. I'm still in his corner, if only because I still at times feel the hope (the word is still there) through (and of) which he speaks. Here's hoping that Nenshi doesn't get railroaded from "across the aisle" as Obama has been so far. Let the man do his work, folks.

7) Calgary is still not immune to the things other Canadians make fun of us for: in this case, being reactionary right-wing and anti-whatever-seems-"foreign". Perusing the message boards on the Calgary Sun website after the results were in, I found more than a few racist, anti-muslim, and homophobic remarks directed at the new mayor. These folks should really just move south and join the Tea Party, who it appears are always on the lookout for new ignorance in their ranks. Hold tight, Mayor Nenshi - because you're going to face some undue and unfair criticism that makes what Higgins got from Mike McCourt on Breakfast Television look like a ringing endorsement. Let's hope Calgary can rise above this and condemn to public shame those of their own who feel the need to publicly mutter what amounts to hate speech. What we will look back on as relics as a less-developed age...


Kid Atomic said...

I was glad to see this, too. It speaks volumes that a city viewed by much of Canada as 'redneck' is the first to elect a Muslim mayor. Given the amount of anti-Islamic rhetoric I see on internet message boards, I was concerned that would be a factor, but it's nice to know that the internets do not necessarily reflect the vox populi.

I'm excited to see what he does, even if I don't live there anymore. Nice to have a bona fide intellectual in office.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Yeah, I'm actually quite proud of this. I've got my own issues with certain muslim doctrines, but then again I have my issues with all religions. I don't think we were about to have an open athiest running for mayor, so I'll gladly take Nenshi instead, if only because it shakes-up the status quo.

Unlike some bloggers, I'm not of the belief that he will work to install Sharia Law in ol' Cowtown, or that he will try to "blur the lines of church and state".

Watch for mentally-unstable conservative factions of the old guard trying to haphazardly organize over the next few weeks to get some wrongly-motivated momentum going against the new mayor. Didn't take long for people to organize against a new "outsider" president down south.

Sadly, a brick through the window in campaign time was likely only the beginning.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

And here's a comment on the Herald's site from today:

"Read history, it it the road with no return. See what happended in Turkey. Turkey was the great eastern Christian roman empire until it was invaded by muslims. Look what happended to the Great Persia, after it was invaded by the muslims it became Iran, never came back. The only country that fought back was Spain.
Dear moderator, you can delete my post or block me but you cannot change history."

Another one warns Calgarians to "remember this in 2012."

It's a wonderful world we live in.

Kid Atomic said...

Wow, man. The statement is so ridiculous it almost doesn't bear reply, and his comparison of a democratically-elected mayor taking office and a military invasion stretches all credulity.

But I feel obliged to comment, as someone who studied some history, that the Byzantine empire (the glorious eastern Roman empire he speaks of) was actually in steep decline long before 1453, when the Turks finally sacked it. Their territory was limited, at that point, to almost solely the city of Constantinople. The earlier blow, struck in 1204, from which Byzantium never really recovered, was the sacking of the city by Christian crusaders who were ostensibly off to the Holy Land and decided to plunder their Greek Orthodox hosts instead.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

You see, Rob - perfect evidence of why proper education wins arguments. I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg for Calgary as far as knee-jerk prejudice goes. Could be an interesting year.