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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Toronto Star: Conservatives in the Mist

Marci McDonald's report in Friday's Toronto Star entitled How Canada's Christian right was built is such an appalling piece of journalism that I think it should be included in every Grade 9 English curriculum as an example of bad writing, and an encouragement to clueless and barely coherent teenagers that, if all else fails, a career at the Star is always a possibility.

Ezra Levant has already posted on McDonald's ridiculous diatribe, but even Ezra doesn't do this piece justice. McDonald writes about Christians like Dian Fossey wrote about the "gorillas in the mist" in Rwanda - they seem to be almost an alien species to her. I can almost picture her hanging around coffee hours at parish halls in Alberta with her Moleskine notebook, frantically scribbling "the alpha male dressed in black I've nicknamed 'Reverend Dave'; as he moves about the tribal group the others seem cowed into submission, as if he demands respect".

McDonald reminds me of anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, who spent almost thirty years among the primitive Yanomamo tribe in the Amazon basin. In 1968 he turned his research into a book, Yanomamo - the Fierce People, which has become a sacred text in undergraduate anthropology classes ever since.

Chagnon writes about the Yanomamo:
The Yanomamo are thinly scattered over a vast and verdant forest, living in small villages that are separated by many miles of unoccupied land. They have no writing, but they have a rich and complex language. Their clothing is more decorative than protective. Well-dressed men sport nothing more than a few cotton strings around their wrists, ankles and waists. They tie the foreskins of their penises to the waist-string. Women dress about the same. Much of their daily life revolves around gardening, hunting, gathering wild foods, collecting firewood, fetching water, visiting with each other, gossiping, and making the few material possessions they own: baskets, hammocks, bows, arrows and colorful pigments with which they paint their bodies.
Here's Marci McDonald on those primitive Christians:
Waving their bright flags on the lawns of the Parliament Buildings, extolling the country’s Christian roots to a compelling soft-rock beat, they might seem to offer a refreshing recipe for morality and national pride, but their agenda—while outwardly inclusive and multi-racial — is ultimately exclusionary
When she's not treating her subjects like lab animals, McDonald makes some of the most outrageous statements ever to cross an editor's desk. Like this:
Already, their alumni have landed top jobs in the public service, MPs’ offices and the PMO, prompting one official from the National House of Prayer to boast in an unguarded moment, “If the media knew how many Christians there are in the government, they’d go crazy.”
Christians? In the Federal Government? How did this happen? Certainly not during the administrations of Roman Catholic Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. Is McDonald suggesting that being a Christian should somehow prohibit one from seeking a career in the civil service?

Then there's the strange case of Stockwell Day. McDonald tells us that
To social conservatives like Stockwell Day, who became the leading cheerleader for its island rival Taiwan, the mainland republic of Mao represented a twofold cause for concern: like the former Soviet Union, it was officially godless, and it had viciously persecuted Christians. That strategy left Canada at a marked disadvantage as China became a global powerhouse that controlled America’s financial fate in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown.
Day must not have much in the way of faith, for in the very next sentence she tells us
When free-trade treaties with the U.S. proved no bulwark against congressional Buy America bills, a parade of Conservative heavyweights, led by Day — by then Harper’s minister of international trade — began shuttling to Beijing in search of new markets. In 2009 alone, seven ministerial missions visited China, almost as many as in all of the previous four years.
I could go on line by line, but I'll close with the most outrageous thing McDonald has written in this execrable piece of so-called analysis:
In their idealized Christian nation, non-believers — atheists, non-Christians and even Christian secularists — have no place, and those in violation of biblical law, notably homosexuals and adulterers, would merit severe punishment and the sort of shunning that once characterized a society where suspected witches were burned. Theirs is a dark and dangerous vision, one that brooks no dissent and requires the dismantling of key democratic institutions. A preview is on display south of the border, where decades of religious-right triumphs have left a nation bitterly splintered along lines of faith and ideology, trapped in the hysteria of overcharged rhetoric and resentment.
Excuse me? If Harper has his way, we're only a short step away from "dismantling key democratic institutions" and burning homosexuals and adulterers at the stake? Seriously? What, no gratuitous reference to Hitler and the Gestapo?

I know a lot of devout Christians who would be appalled at this characterization of their faith. Marci McDonald should be ashamed of herself, and the Toronto Star should be embarassed to have published this nonsense. I suppose there's an upside to this, though - if the left is as clueless about their Conservative opponents as Marci McDonald is, it should be an easy romp to victory in the next election for Stephen Harper, evil genius.


hunter said...

As a Catholic, I wonder if I can take her to a HRC because she has smeared my religion....oh never mind, the HRC's think like she does as we have seen in many of their rulings.

Most Christians just want to be left alone to practice their faith. Most do no harm, and many volunteer in places like Haiti, to help make Haitian lives better.

I say, send little Miss Christian Hater (and her hate is clear in this article, it positively drips with it), to Africa, to negotiate peace in the Congo. I would read the book she writes after that experience.

Catlove said...

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

This piece is so disgusting, I can't believe it's journalism. Comparing a Christian society to witch hunts? Suggesting that Christians are actually closet racists and anti-democratic? It's so outrageous, I don't even know where to begin.

ck said...

Why is the piece so terrible, because it exposed the truth about Harper you & your commenters kept hidden?

She only exposed your dream come true; are you ashamed of wanting evangelical rule in Canad?

Eric said...


Ah, yes - the old "Hidden Agenda" canard. How long are you lefties going to flog that dead horse?

I don't know if you actually associate with any Christians, but most of them just want to be left alone to raise their families and quietly practice their faith. "Evangelical rule"? Please.

Anonymous said...


Illuminate my world, please. In your estimation, what exactly constitutes that which you so aptly describe as "...evangelical rule..." for some place you call "...Canad..."(sic)

I mean, if they want to try to bring this sort of stuff into CANADA, I'd like to know what the hell it is that I should be on the lookout for.

Should you not be able to enlighten my on this issue, maybe you should indeed, shut the fork up.

The more you blather, the more proof you provide of the shallow, hateful, misinformed stupidity that all seem to guide your thoughts & pronouncements.

We await, with bated breathe, your enlightened utterings, and instructive pointers.



Alberta Girl said...

CK - do you have proof or examples of that "hidden agenda"....really - after four years you don't think that you can rest easy that we are not going back to the stone age?

Geesh....I just have to shake my head at the gullibility of some people that they can't think for themselves. I really do think they are stupid.

richardson of montreal said...

Like many Canadian women, she read The Handmaid's Tale and believed it. Freud was usually wrong, but right about hysteria.

David MacDonald said...

Yes... how outrageous... Christians wanting a job in Government... hmmm... I wonder how many pro abort, pro SMS folks work on the Hill...