Friday, October 10, 2008

Rick Salutin: Urbane, Sophisticated, Genteel, Vacuous, Wrong.

Slippery, too, so much so that one does not know quite where to start. But it's where it ends up, in Salutin's subtle, fashionably passive-aggressive way, that matters: The Conservatives are engaged in a dark plot to underfund and undermine Canada's "beloved social programs" by blowing the treasury on military spending, "a superb way to tilt an economy away from social goals."

If you can think of a better example of the addled, bourgeois, sanctimonious rot that has eaten away at the intellectual life of the Canadian "left," by all means, send in your suggestions.

The rot spreads, I am now convinced, owing to the substitution of what used to be called "class analysis" with a form of ideology that regards the illusion of relative power as the only criterion upon which to choose sides ("We now identify with the big guys, against the little scumbags," Salutin laments), and which rests entirely and completely on the unexamined presumption that facts simply don't matter.

Thus unhinged from the hard ground of objective reality, you should not expect that anyone among the legions of activists, aesthetes and pseudo-intellectuals that constitute Salutin's peers will be bothered in the slightest that he can get away with this libel against the Afghan people: "Sixty per cent want foreign troops out."

For a dozen Afghan public opinion polls, focus group surveys and analyses that demonstrate the disgraceful depths of that persistent lie, see the appendix to this document. The most recent Environics poll (pdf) shows that 43 per cent of Afghans want foreign troops to remain in their country "however long it takes" to defeat the Taliban and restore order, 15 per cent want foreign troops to remain for three to five years, 12 per cent say two years, and 11 per cent said another year should do the trick.

In sum, the Afghans who support the presence of foreign troops (which, in another deliberate distortion, Salutin calls "the Afghan occupation") outnumber those who don't by about five to one.

As for his obligatory utterance of that other comforting lie ("Social progress has been minimal") that Canada's misnamed "anti-war" crowd ritually repeats to itself, over and over and over, here's how untrue that is, just in Kandahar, where progress has been slower than anywhere else in the country.

Meanwhile, as Salutin enjoys every benefit that the comfortable sinecure the Conservative-supporting Globe and Mail affords him, the little scumbags that he so fervently wishes Canada would not be so beastly about are redoubling their efforts to deny the Afghan masses the right to elect their own leaders:

Afghanistan began registering voters Monday for next year's presidential polls, an election likely to be the most dangerous and challenging since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001.

Sorry, Rick, but you really should be more careful. Sooner or later, the people will win.

FURTHER to the point I've been making (here and here, for instance) about the delusions necessary to sustain both the "politics" and the "journalism" Salutin typifies, Rosie DiManno notices: "There's really no excuse, in these days of instant reporting verification, to misquote or misrepresent a quote. Unless, of course, the intention is to manipulate and deceive."


Blogger Minicapt said...

From the column: "Imagine what the guy could do with a majority."

Cut Rick's salery in half; force him to moonlight; offer him an entry-level job at Yuk-Yuks? I don't know ...


12:41 PM  
Blogger Max Fawcett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Max Fawcett said...

I'm not sure that Rick's column is as much an indication of the source of the left-rot you rightly identify (and worry about) as it is the result of the Globe's policy of handing people lifetime memberships to their comment pages. Columnists are like tires in that they need to be rotated regularly, and the Globe hasn't rotated theirs in a very, very long time. If columnists are given the kind of tenure that the Globe affords them they tend to produce the worst kind of editorial writing, a blend of stale ideas and predictable opinions that appears to have no regular contact with the world the rest of us live in. Columnists, if they are to offer anything of use, need to be in touch with a world that is both bigger and smaller than the friendships they've kept and the intellectual perimeters that they've grown used to observing.

What's potentially worse is that many people see Rick (fairly or not) as a spokesperson for the left when he's really just a spokesperson for himself and his own views.

1:18 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Actually, I think many people see Rick as a spokesman for what moves a certain kind of lady in a certain kind of Toronto cafe, over a bottle of wine. The hand that rocks the cradle...

1:49 PM  
Blogger bp said...

I think Chris Selley summed up the column pretty well in his Megapundit blog:

"This is breathtakingly stupid, even for Salutin."

3:06 PM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Is Rick Salutin Heather Mallick?

6:45 PM  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Blazing Cat Fur: Mr Salutin lacks Ms Mallick's intellectual audacity. And hair.


7:36 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

For an antidote to Salutin,
check this out:

4:56 PM  
Blogger cousinarlo said...

Mr Salutin demonstrates that one can be learned but still intellectually blind. He and his brethren are like Carroll's Queen of Hearts, deciding what words and ideas mean. He'll never let the truth get in the way of his argument.

Our soldiers are making a huge difference in Afghanistan, allowing changes like girls going to school and not being locked away like cattle. Maybe that's not important to Mr Salutin; only he knows.

craig, I am pleasantly shocked that Ms Dimanno can and did speak up as she has. The Star allowing dissent? Wow.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Patrick Ross said...

It's no surprise.

Many opponents of the war have forwarded their opinions under deliberate mischaracterization of what's going on there.

Their formula is actually quite simple:

Focus on failures, recast any remaining challenges as evidence of failure, and acknowledge no successes -- at any cost.

For example, take their triumphal pointing to suggestions that we may negotiate with insurgents as acceptance of their suggestions that we negotiate with the Taliban, more specifically.

Meanwhile, there are numerous insurgent groups active in Afghanistan -- aside from the Taliban -- who have often proven themselves willing to (at least temporarily) agree to brokerage-based political deals. The biggest and most active of them is Hisb-i-Islami under Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

I once challenged a particularly pompous individual with this knowledge. His defense was "the mainstream media doesn't talk about them". He then accused me of being "arrogant" for bringing it up, then refused to discuss the topic.

(If you want another good example of the intellectual impoverishment of the Canadian left, consider this individuals attempts to politicize incompetence by ascribing "principles" to it. It's pretty amusing stuff.)

Long story short, you simply can't expect intellectual honesty from the most extreme opponents to the Afghan war. You'll simply never see it.

1:03 PM  

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