Wednesday, June 30, 2004

All your followers are blind

Ottawa Sun columnist Earl McRae interviews average Ottawans on the election: "I've always voted Liberal," was Heather Whelan's answer. "Besides, all that garbage, if it even happened, took place under Chretien, not Paul Martin." "With me, it was Harper," said her husband. "The guy scared me. He gave you the feeling he was up to something he didn't want you to know about." Like what? "I'm not sure, but Martin said he was and that was good enough for me." You know, I don't think I've ever believed anything said by the Conservatives, Canadian Alliance, PCs, or Reform Party just because the leader said so. I would certainly like to think I consider the facts and come up with an opinion on my own, which may differ from the official party line. Which is to say, whose support is coming from unthinking ideologues here, exactly? Scarier yet: "They're warmongers," said Don. "They're out to take over the world. They remind me of the Germans in World War II." No points for guessing who he suspects of attempting to enact the Fourth Reich. Even more illustrative is the precise nature of popular anti-Americanism. "The bloody Americans. I hate the Americans." "You can't trust them." "They're ignorant. They don't know anything about any other country." "They're not our best friends, they're our worst enemies." "I don't think they're all bad, I've got American friends." If these statements were made concerning any other group - Arabs, say, or the Swiss, or dentists - how fast would hate speech charges be leveled against the speaker? When I read something like this, it makes me genuinely despair for Canada, and Ottawa in particular. I may dislike what it's become. I may have no end of complaints about this country and this city. It may make the nervous tic in my neck twitch on a more or less constant basis. But it's mine, damn it. In some perverse way I am proud of my home, and it pains me to see such willful delusion in what are, for the moment, still my fellow-countrymen. No, I suppose the Tories are never going to win an Ontario populated by those who genuinely think the United States a more immediate threat to their lives than terrorism. They're also never going to win as long as there are those that will extend infinite gentle patience for Liberal corruption, but will reject a Conservative leader for vaguely-defined feelings of unease. I can't even understand how one can get to this point; it simply Does Not Compute for me. I just don't get it. I don't mean to belabor the point, but I simply don't understand at all. What kind of rhetorical gymnastics are required of one's internal monologue to draw these conclusions? Is there any evidence in the world that would convince this sort of person that Canada's history is not one of peacekeeping, Americans are not bad people, but convicted criminals are? I've told myself I'm not going to turn into a bitter, one-tracked-mind crank, but are you people blind or stupid? ... ...There. Now that's out. Calm calm calm caaaaalm. I'm still a little bitter, y'see. But despite that, I'm going to try to give the minority government a chance. I really am. Maybe Paul Martin can prove that he's not the leader of choice of irony-bereft ignoramuses like these interviewees, but a competent and honest leader despite their votes of confidence. I hope so, anyway, because if not my neck's going to get sore pretty quickly. (Via The Shotgun.)

2 Comments:

Blogger Kacie said...

I'm an American myself, and stories like that make me want to spend a semester or two studying in Canada, just to prove to your countrymen that Americans are actually pretty decent people, if you're not actively trying to blow us up.

It also makes me want to point out to them that our armed forces are, what? 10 times the size of Canada's? And if we're really the insane murderers we're made out to be, insulting us is probably not a good idea. :P

Actually, spending a semester studying abroad in Canada would be pretty cool, and probably a lot cheaper (and less smelly) than, say, France. Could you recommend a university?

6/30/2004 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Denton said...

For the full Canadian experience minus having to learn French, I'd suggest any of the finer institutions of Ontario or BC; you've got your choice of silly Eastern leftism or silly Western leftism, that way. All I can get more specific than that from my personal experience relates to the two local schools. U of O is compact, downtown, historic, and in a general sense focused more on social sciences and arts, while Carleton University is suburban, sprawling, ugly, and focused more on hard sciences and engineering.

If you're genuinely interested, I'd suggest finding a copy of the weekly Maclean's annual university guidebook.

6/30/2004 07:25:00 PM  

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