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"Five axiomatic propositions of Canadian Nationalism vis-a-vis the Americans:

1. Boy, we hate Americans.

2. We really do.

3. Really.

4. I'm not kidding. We really hate them.

5. So how come they never pay us any attention?"

--Will Ferguson, Why I Hate Canadians, Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997, p.105.


Monday, June 24, 2002

Anagram of the day.


Sign of the apocalypse? I am living in a bizzaro world where Heather Mallick speaks pearls of wisdom and John Ibbitson foams at the mouth. What gives?

Both Mallick and Ibbotson write about the recent Supreme Court decision that deems the execution of mentally retarded criminals as unconstitutional. in her Saturday column, Mallick assembles 800 thoughtful words without even calling any of the U.S. Supreme Court justices "morons." She even includes a couple of sentences that hint at actual research about other cases on which the Supreme Court has ruled recently. Granted she's no Dahlia Lithwick, but this week she's no Heather Mallick either. And I mean that as a sincere compliment.

John Ibbitson, in contrast, raises the question "why did the U.S. still execute retarded criminals until last week?" and divines this response:

The answer lies in grasping a great contradiction within American society: its unshakable belief in its moral superiority over all other nations, even as it enshrines laws and punishments that other civilized peoples abhor.

Indeed. And after talking a bit about why the U.S. still has capital punishment, does Ibbitson give credit to the Supreme Court decision? No. Instead, Ibbitson works himself into a lather when discussing the dissenting opinions:

But what truly enraged the court's minority -- it prompted Chief Justice Rehnquist to write his own dissent -- was a footnote (a footnote!) in Justice John Paul Stevens's majority decision that mentioned that professional organizations, opinion polls and other governments oppose executing mentally handicapped criminals. (The European Union, in particular, has vigorously protested against what it considers an egregious American violation of human rights.) That judges would give weight to such views appalled the dissenting justices.

"The views of professional and religious organizations and the results of opinion polls are irrelevant," wrote Judge Scalia. "Equally irrelevant are the practices of the 'world community,' whose notions of justice are (thankfully) not always those of our people."

There it is. Opinion polls are not trustworthy. Professional elites are not in touch with the true popular will. Most important, foreigners have nothing to say that Americans need to hear, because they are morally inferior to Americans. Only American legislatures and the laws they pass legitimately reflect the public will.

No, John, this isn't about the moral inferiority of foreigners. For those justices who claim to be strict constructionists -- for better or worse -- their job is to interpret the intentions of those who wrote the Constitution, and in particular to avoid constraining state legislatures in ways not specified by that document. You ought to learn a bit about how the U.S. government works if you are going to continue to serve as the Globe's reporter on all things American.

Incidentally, Ibbitson's piece includes this gem:

It is reasonable to suspect that most Globe and Mail readers (though not most Canadians) are disgusted by capital punishment in principle, never mind capital punishment for the mentally handicapped. [emphasis added]

Yes, we are all of noble moral character here. But what to make of this parenthetical comment? Could it be that most Canadians do not abhor capital punishment as Ibbitson claims that all non-American civilized people do? In fact, although Canada outlawed the death penalty in 1961, this anti-capital-punishment site notes that "A national poll conducted in June, 1995 found that 69% of Canadians moderately or strongly favoured the return of the death penalty, exactly the same level of support as 20 years ago," although polls that played with the wording of the question managed to get this down to a 48% pro / 47% con split by the end of the century. The site goes on to note that "The present Canadian government is opposed to the return of capital punishment and has rejected calls for a national referendum on the issue." So much for the death penalty being a penalty that non-American civilized people abhor.

[NB: I am personally opposed to the death penalty, a position toward which I gradually migrated sometime in my early 20s. But I am even more opposed to lame newspaper columns about the death penalty.]

CNN atoning for its sins? From an article posted today (thanks to Matthew Sheren):

If you go to a baseball or soccer game tonight and look around, and say, half the stadium is filled, you'll see about 25,000 other fans. If you were living in Israel, it is likely that one of you would be killed in a terrorist attack in the next six months....

One of every 26,392 Israelis has been killed in a terrorist attack in the past six months. The same ratio applied to the population of the United States would equate to 10,888 American citizens. That's more than three times the number of people killed in the September 11 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and aboard United Airlines Flight 93.
Match the newspaper to the headline. Here are the on-line headlines as of 9:30pm regarding Bush's speech today.

1. "Bush calls for new Palestinian leadership"
2. "Bush Demands Arafat's Ouster Before U.S. Backs a New State"
3. "Bush says Arafat must go"
4. "Bush Urges Palestinians To Elect New Leadership"
5. "Call For New Leaders"
6. "Bush speech disappoints Arab world"
7. "Bush fails to give concrete ME plan"

a) Arab News
b) CNN
c) Globe and Mail
d) Guardian
e) New York Times
f) San Francisco Chronicle
g) Washington Post

You'd be surprised...

1.b); 2.e); 3.d); 4.g); 5.f); 6,c); 7.a)

Yep. That's Canada's own Globe and Mail with headline #6. Interestingly, Arab News doesn't mention Bush's take on Arafat until the second or third paragraph of the article.

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