September 08, 2002



The Sunday edition of Canada's largest newspaper is a remarkably consistent howl of outrage today... against the United States. It really is a remarkable bit of advocacy journalism... the thesis could be described as "everything bad that has happened since and including Sept. 11 is America's fault, because they acted badly when they were attacked."

I would have thought at least some criticism of the Islamofascist terrorists for throwing the world into an uproar might have been necessary, if only to give the illusion of balance, but no.

Among the sentiments expressed, in long-essay format:

*"This is still a one-superpower world and no terrorist outfit has so far succeeded in changing that," Oakland Ross writes, clearly disappointedly. "As America pushes blindly ahead with its war on terrorism it may have missed a golden opportunity to really change the world," reads the subtitle. The piece blames the U.S. for not doing more in the last year to fight AIDS, among other things, instead of terrorism, while openly hoping that China may be in a position to challenge the U.S. for world dominance by 2050.

*"The Palestinian side believes it is fighting a war against an illegitimate occupation, but the American government perceives it as terrorism," writes Sandro Contenta, who is at a loss to understand why. To Contenta, Sept. 11 is only the handy excuse for the Israeli government to "reoccupy" the Occupied Territories (um... okay), "with American backing and American weapons." Palestinians dancing in the streets on Sept. 11 are never mentioned. A sidebar at the bottom refers to Osama Bin Laden as the "prime suspect" in the Sept. 11 bombing. Suspect? Contenta also writes that Islamofascists are really frustrated by the existing "infidel lackey" governments of Saudi Arabia, etc., not out of a "clash of civilizations," but because they won't go to war for the Palestinians against Israel (and presumably now America). Well... that's okay then.

*Lewis Lapham writes that America has even screwed up next week's ceremonies of remembrance, which will be characterized by "bleached and antiseptic pathos... inoculations against the disease of thought." America "possesses the power to poison the earth any yet possesses neither the desire nor the courage to know itself."

*William Walker, in a piece on America as the new Rome, approvingly quotes Michael Hersh. "Every great empire in history, no matter how enduring, has fallen eventually to its own hubris, having built up a tide of resentment among its subjects or enemies. The United States is doing that already by veering too far down the path of unilateralism," Hirsh writes, hopefully. America has "no real commitment to anything enduring except American security," he adds. Imagine that! Walker also quotes Donald Snow approvingly as saying an invasion of Iraq would be "naked aggression." "We signed the United Nations Charter to exclude that sort of thing." The accompanying sidebar makes fun of Americans' geographical illiteracy.

*Michele Landsberg writes of how Afghan women still live in misogyny, which makes the whole war on terrorism a failure: "Women's liberation has had many cynical and insencere allies, but George and Laura Bush must trump them all."

*Lynda Hurst writes how America's press has been censored and suppressed since Sept. 11. "Serious journalists who sought a less myopic perspective on the war were handicapped from the start by the emergence of patriotism into the picture that's never entirely been excised." Patriotism? Didn't we get rid of that with the Nazis? Serious coverage of Guantanamo bay and the "human rights violations of hundreds of detained Muslims, many of them U.S. citizens" is not being written because "it wouldn't be welcomed by the public." Neither is the "multi-layered backdrop" to the Sept. 11 attacks. "There has been less access to information in this war than all others before," she writes, apparently in total ignorance of her subject matter. "Americans expect the news to reflect their own point of view." Those silly Americans! Fortunately, she adds, the BBC World News and the Canadian CBC still make a "valiant effort to give the other side of the story."

*The paper's daily editorial sympathizes with Toronto's Muslim community, which suffered through having a Mississauga learning centre's windows smashed by vandals last Sept. 15 for some reason. Toronto has seen a "surge in hate crimes" in the last year, it writes, without giving evidence, and criticizes non-Muslim Canadians for being "small minded... rock throwing vandals." The apprehension in Afghanistan, revealed last week, of a 15 year-old Torontonian for shooting a U.S. Special Forces sergeant is, curiously, not mentioned.

*Linda McQuaig writes that America, unlike Canada, no longer believes in "the rule of law" because it has intervened on Exxon Mobil's side in a U.S. lawsuit by oppressed Indonesian villagers. "I can think of few better ideas, both in terms of making the world a safer place and freeing up resources for the world's many urgent problems," than if the United States were to cut its military spending, she adds.

It goes on... pages and pages it goes on... all without a single criticism of anyone but the United States (and anyone in Canada with similar views). I encourage everyone to pick up a copy: it may mark the point where Canada's ruling journalistic elite has finally parted ways with reality.

UPDATE: Due to really bad rushed hyperlinking in the first line of this, I initially confused a lot of people, including the "looks great in hats" Matt Welch, about what paper I was referring to, and led some to believe I was trying to avoid comparisons between what I said and what the Toronto Star actually ran. My apologies to all, especially Matt. I think it's also fair to say that people looking at any individual article are not going to see the overall impact that page after page in the printed newspaper has, without interruption. The combination of all those articles, in close proximity to one another, in the Sunday paper before Sept. 11, was no more or less an attack on America than Jean Chretien's ill-advised remarks three days later. In both cases, if they meant to do it, they were delusional: if they didn't, they were dopey.

Posted by BruceR at 10:16 AM