It isn’t the racism of Canadian pundits that is so distasteful so much as the combination of smug confidence and ignorance. Take Jeffrey Simpson, a frequent commentator and purveyor of conventional thoughts on various topics, in his analysis of the Canadian political landscape relative to Israel/Palestine. He talks about the shifts from the parties, and then attacks the NDP – most of whom are no friends to Palestinians – for their “utterly uninformed positions”. This is where the above mentioned combination of smug confidence and ignorance that characterizes Canada’s mediocre punditry comes in.
“It was discouraging at the recent NDP convention in Quebec City to listen to the overt hostility that speakers directed at Israel. And it was scary to hear the booing against those who sought more modulated party positions and the uncritical (and therefore utterly uneducated) lamentations about what had been done to Palestinians, as if they hadn’t done anything to themselves.”
Well, let’s see. Some questions.
Discouraging to whom, exactly? To Simpson, presumably, because “overt hostility” (to which we’ll return) ought not to be directed at Israel (only at the those Israel invades, occupies, and massacres, presumably?)
“Overt hostility” – according to who? And what is this overt hostility? Simpson provides no quotes of what these “speakers” said. Might it have been just reporting on what Israel has been doing recently, killing over a thousand in Lebanon and hundreds in Gaza over the past months? We don’t know.
“Scary” – again, Simpson is very easily scared, when he gets scared to see a party that has little chance of gaining power – a party he doesn’t support or vote for, I’ll wager – saying rather timid things against an ongoing slaughter of a helpless population. He didn’t find it scary that Israel killed a thousand people, has 10,000 in prison, sowed southern Lebanon with cluster bombs. No, he finds some speeches at an NDP convention that probably mentioned some of these things (timidly) scary.
And then, we have Simpson begging for nuance. How Canadian, to look at an utterly unbalanced conflict and call for modulation and nuance, so that we can be even-handed between the person who has a boot on the other’s neck and the person who’s being strangled. That’s a standard tactic and a long-standing way of opposing Palestinian rights in particular. It was the line taken by the Liberals when they switched their voting pattern at the UN. It was Harper’s line on the UN resolution on the Lebanon war. It’s because Canadians – including Simpson – can’t understand the difference between the aggressor and the victim.
And then Simpson makes a foray into the revolting, talking about uncritical and uneducated lamentations, “as if Palestinians hadn’t done anything to themselves”. Yes, Jeffrey, those Palestinians are starving their own children in Gaza by blockading themselves behind an electric fence, they are blowing up their own children on beaches, they are stopping themselves at checkpoints, they are building walls through their own lands, they are killing four or five or more of themselves for every Israeli who dies. How utterly educated of Simpson to express his knowledge of the subject. How critical of him to show how he understands all these things Palestinians have done to themselves.
With mediocrities like Simpson as our leaders of public opinion, it’s no wonder we’re so ill-informed.