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2007 10 22
Support our Troops: Give ‘em Jack

This article was so not going to be about Jack Layton. Sure, Jack Layton was going to get mentioned fairly often. But this absolutely was not going to be about him. This was going to be about how the Globe and Mail turns its back on genuine democracy. No choice now, though. Not any more. Not after how I didn’t shake Jack Layton’s hand last Friday.

Couldn’t shake Jack Layton’s hand. Not on Friday, October 19th. Maybe no other day of the week -– or year –- either. Not after what I’d written about him.

Except it wasn’t really me writing those terrible things. Not exactly.

Wasn’t exactly me. Been decades since I began exploring (not only) media, democracy and public spheres. Since last year, under the alias of “Lie Detector”, I embedded myself under deep cover to specifically investigate Globe and Mail reader forums. To find out what consent and dissent got manufactured there. Whether Globe forums inflated or deflated public spheres. And it was at those wild and riotous Globe forums that, as Lie Detector, I found myself self-expressing as I never otherwise would. Guess virtual anonymity is like that. Makes us write and do things we never otherwise would. Point being that it wasn’t really me wrote them terrible things about Jack. It was Lie Detector.

So what was I to do? It was Friday, about half past noon, and there I was holding office hours in Vari Hall. No warning whatsoever. One moment everything was routine. The next, it was as if some great spotlight penetrated an invisible fog to reveal Jack Layton not twenty feet away. Jack Layton aglitter with surrounding media apparatus.

Curious what occasion brought Jack to York University, some students and I slunk behind the media bobbing in his wake. And, just slightly external and aside the glass Vari Hall front door, I somewhat made it out. Not tuition fees. Not the subway extension. None of the above. Went something like this: “… Afghanistan.. must understand that.. Afghanistan… Therefore.. Afghanistan.”

“What’s he talking about?” inquired one student.

“Not the subway extension. Not tuition fees,” I replied. “Afghanistan.”

“Oh,” said the student. Rolling his eyes.

“I’m from Afghanistan,” said another student.

“Really? Maybe you should ask him something,” I encouraged.

“Like what?” She made the notion sound extremely marginal. Very dubious.

“Anything. I just wish I’d brought my camera,” I complained.

“I’ve got my camera,” she showed me. “But I’m not taking any picture of him.”

Just about then Jack came up to the clump of us. Yet another student brandished a camera, requesting Jack pose a moment.

“Sure,” grinned Jack. “But make it snappy.”

Had to laugh. Thought Jack was both witty and charming. Pretty darned photogenic, too. Nevermind how great it would have been to have Jack pictured by me for this article. If only I’d brought my camera.

Stepped right back when Jack started pumping the manual flesh, though. Nothing against manual pumping, but no way could I shake his hand. Not in good conscience. Not after what Lie Detector had written about him. All those terrible things.

What got Lie Detector bleeping off the scale? Can’t be certain. Not entirely -– since the Lie Detector persona is not really me. More like some very strange and alter ego Hyde-ing beneath the floorboards of my mind. But I strongly suspect it was those two headliners the Globe ran consecutively September 29th and September 30th. Afghan president seeks peace with Taliban after suicide bomb and Taliban peace deal possible, says Karzai. About how Afghanistan’s Karzai was hoping to negotiate with the Taliban.

That’s what I suspect. That it was those two headliners -– and the tone of comments following. Comments such as this one from 'Jack Robertson':
Given that Karzai has offered the Taliban a place in Afghanistan's government, it now appears that Canada's soldiers really have been dying in vain. This is not surprising however. If Canada and other NATO countries ever believed that they could introduce 'democracy' to Afghanistan, they were truly delusional. There is not one predominantly Muslim country in the world in which liberal democracy has succeeded or where it can succeed. With apologies to Stalin for the paraphrasing, 'Western liberal democracy fits the Islamic world like a saddle fits a cow'. This 'mission', if there ever was one, was lost from the beginning. We should hope that Ottawa does not add insult to the injury of needlessly sacrificed Canadian lives by welcoming Karzai and his cronies as 'refugees' once the Taliban have regained control.
Or 'Richard Roskell's':
What cognitively-functional Canadian ever remotely imagined that it would turn out differently? The only thing in doubt was how many Canadian lives would be lost along the way.
'No use for a name from Toronto:
“Taliban' Karzai?...Isn't that what the braying morons called Jack Layton for even daring to suggest negotiations with the Taliban?”
Frank Stogre from Vancouver:
Taliban Jack was right and the right wingers are wrong again an again an again ...
Carl Hansen from Canada:
So now we can surrender and go home?
Opinion in Toronto from Toronto:
So, Canada lost the war and the Taliban win...
Denis Love from Victoria:
I seem to recall Jack Layton saying folks should be talking to the taliban. Some folks, especially here made fun of him by calling him Taliban Jack. Now it seems the folks who run the country have the same idea as Layton…
Comments like Stevo the Orange’s from Winnipeg:
Is Jack Layton going to say 'I told you so'? It seems there is only one federal leader with any brains when it comes to making peace. The liberals have already completely failed a the conservatives are failing as we speak. Give the NDP a chance and I guarentee you through diplomacy and rational thought we can find peace. Guns and bullets will never create Peace. Brains will. Vote NDP.
And, of course, like the incomparable Yvonne Wackernagel’s from Woodville:
That’s when I noticed hair sprouting from my palms. When Lie Detector started banging my keyboard:
When Taliban Jack kept demanding we talk to the Taliban and stop our military spending -- i.e., just surrender already -- the lefties were all like, 'Yay!' But now, when Karzai demands keeping NATO troops in Afghanistan while talking to Taliban -- i.e., don't just surrender but do negotiate already -- the lefties are all like, 'Oh my gawd, that NeoCon traitor!' Is it hypocrisy? Nope. Not sufficiently coherent for hypocrisy. When NATO shoots back at Taliban and hits innocent civilians, lefties are all like, 'The Canadian military is murdering innocents!' Doesn't matter how not intentional NATO killing innocent civilians was. Doesn't matter what efforts Canadian troops go to, what extra hazard to own life and limb Canadian soldiers take on, how much farther into harms way they go to avoid killing innocent civilians. Doesn't matter to lefties. Far as lefties are concerned, it's murder. But when Taliban, as usual, fully intentionally kill innocent civilians -- not a peep. Nevermind how killing innocents intentionally is what 'murder' means. Nevermind. If Taliban did it then that's fine. Not a problem. Cheerleading terror like that? While our troops are engaged trying to halt -- at least slow it? By appeal from Afghanistan's first ever elected government? Used to be called treason. Most places, it still is. But not so, far as lefties are concerned. No way. What it is, lefties say, is supporting our troops. Get it? Support our troops -- disband the Canadian military. Or, at least undermine the Canadian military. Make sure our gals and guys over there fail too bad ever to try anything military again. Is this sufficiently coherent to qualify as hypocrisy? What lefties mean when they say 'support our troops'? Pretty much. Coherent enough to qualify as treason, even.
Some posters did not appreciate Lie Detector’s contribution, of course. Peter Bell, for instance:
Excellent meisterspinning from Lie Detector at 10.32 am. Now, where does this come from. All government offices are closed on weekends. Not the GOP headquarters or the Manning School. They are open 24-7 and working overtime about the Karzai story. Which of the two among others supplied this meisterspinning. Was is GOP headquarters in the states or the Manning School. Was it straight from the Ten Neo Commandments. It is all meisterspinning. Nobody is buying.
But Peter Bell’s comment only seemed to embolden Lie Detector. He probably loves it when anyone mistakes his diatribing for some sort of official policy.

N B, however, actually tried communicating sense with Lie Detector:
Lie Detector from Toronto You blame the wrong people for the problems in Afghanistan. The war was lost the moment American invaded Iraq. The majority of NATO countries knew the brain dead right wing strategy of not knowing what motivates your enemy and never compromising or communicating with them was wrong. The right wingers believe we must beat them into submission and force them to become something we want them to be. Good luck, it's never worked before.
Lie Detector wasn’t the least interested. Pounding my keyboard, he made complete nonsense of N B’s comment. Thus:
… N B you are too hasty leaping to that conclusion. I am against idiotic ideology -- regardless left or right. See? I almost agree with you. Just only except for slight elaboration. Like this: The military wars -- whether Afghan or Iraqi -- were won faster than flashes in pans. The ideological police actions were then immediately lost. The ideological, incoherent, ignorant police actions seeking to impose democracy at gunpoint were lost. Of course they were lost. Democracy means never imposing at gunpoint. Right? No gunning is democratically legitimate other than in self-defending. Bush has done incomparably more harm to democracy than militant Islamic fundamentalism. The Bush regime has scuttled the former bastion of democracy -- United States -- and set back democratic culture in the tolerant West a couple centuries. See? Just because I stand against the ideological left doesn't mean I stand for the ideological right. Not while I stand against ideology.
There was lots more –- all in the same gushing vein. Much as I might resent Lie Detector’s eruptions, however -– secretly I was cheering for him. Especially following this particular comment:
Derek Holtom wrote: "cbc just reported the Taliban said no thanks" Sure, Derek. But they thought about it. They're still thinking about it. You got'ta have some understanding how they feel, Derek. Islamic Jihad of Taliban and other varieties ran off full scale Soviet invasion. And now what? They can't run off 2000 NATO (especially) Canadian troops? While reading all about the "support our troops -- disband Canadian military!" leftie hysteria here in Canada? It's hard to swallow, Derek. Try to appreciate how they feel. Like, which side is god on, anyhow? Is it worth it? Our Canadian troops even being there? Until such time as Taliban gives up on militant Islamic fundamentalism sufficiently to cut some workable governance deal with Karzai? Hell, no. Not as far as I'm concerned. But still. It's debatable. Maybe after 50 years of additional futility, Taliban might start forgetting how great god is. Not likely. Maybe not even possible. But conceivable. And hence, debatable. What's not conceivable is how lefties agitate supporting our troops. What they mean by supporting our troops. As if slandering our troops and cheering terror were not treason but civic duty. As if being Canadian was all about totalitarian fundamentalism.
Anyhow. There was no way. After the terrible things Lie Detector wrote about Taliban Jack –- and me secretly cheering for Lie Detector -– how could I possibly shake Jack’s hand last Friday?

On the other hand, Rosie DiManno’s I would have no second thoughts shaking. And not only since her Saturday article -- Afghans see progress that we ignore –- when she wrote:
NDP leader Jack Layton wants Canadian troops out now and Liberal leader Stéphane Dion wanted them out by early 2009 (although I'm not really sure what he favours at the moment). They've argued.. the assignment isn't working, the overall approach to Afghanistan ruinously unbalanced, the insurgency impervious to military intervention and the citizenry increasingly disillusioned, pushed by NATO further towards the neo-Taliban. Anyone who's been to Afghanistan, spent time in the company of ordinary Afghans, knows this to be emphatically untrue. It's heartening that a detached poll has borne that out. Afghans get it… [T]hey know enemy and they know friend.
Yeah. But for absurd ideology, more of us would know friend from enemy as well. Not a single second thought about shaking Rosie DiManno’s hand.

[email this story] Posted by Peter Fruchter on 10/22 at 01:01 PM

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