A McCarthyist suppression of dissent is precisely what The Walrus is advocating with Justin Ling's full-throated call, in “Why Google Has a Responsibility to Fight Fake News” (The Walrus, January 5, 2018), for Google to put a prominent Canadian political-commentary website, the Centre for Research on Globalization, out of existence.Read More
This letter was copied to other members of the Editorial Board and to members of the Board of Contributors of The Canadian Charger. It has not previously been published.
To: Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, 1 December 2013
I'm writing to you, with regret, to declare my resignation from the Editorial Board of The Canadian Charger.
This is a matter of sorrow to me. It has been a pleasure and an honour to have been involved with you in this news-commentary-and analysis website since its early planning stages; and I continue to believe that the project of bringing together voices from the Muslim community and the Canadian left is an important one.
However, the editorial published on November 27, “Canadians: List Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group,” makes it impossible for me to continue my association with The Charger.
I do not claim any expertise on recent events in Egypt. However, I have read enough to be aware of some of the ways in which a sequence of stupid political misjudgments, errors, and illegalities committed by President Morsi and his entourage fractured their previous support, persuaded many Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood was determined to impose a theocracy, and made his government vulnerable to military intervention. It is understandable that the initial response of many secular and Coptic Egyptians to the military overthrow of the Morsi government was a feeling of relief. But over the past five months, the violently anti-democratic intentions of the military junta and its obvious continuities with the Mubarak dictatorship have been repeatedly made evident. To deny that the coup was a coup, as The Charger's November 27 editorial appears to do, is fatuous.
On principle, I oppose political parties whose actions and policies are guided, openly or otherwise, by sectarianism. (Such parties include the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the U.S. Republican Party, most of the parties in the Israeli Knesset, and the governing party of this country: witness its insistent Christian Zionism and Islamophobia.)
But that does not mean one should automatically believe everything that is said or written to the discredit of such parties.
In the case of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, there is substantial evidence that a propaganda campaign conducted by the Egyptian military junta and its supporters in the international media has sought to blame the Muslim Brotherhood for the appalling acts of violence that have occurred since the beginning of July. (For a sample of critical analyses of this campaign, see two articles by Esam Al-Amin, “The Grand Scam: Spinning Egypt's Military Coup,” CounterPunch [19-21 July 2013], and “Putting Egypt's Coup on Trial,” CounterPunch [8-10 November 2013]; and a further article exposing the fabrication of supposed Muslim Brotherhood atrocities: Mohamed Malik and Mohamad Omar, “How Amnesty International was Played by the Egyptian Junta,” CounterPunch [25 November 2013].) To this should be added the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood's official English-language website, Ikwanweb.com, has repeatedly denounced acts of violence, whether directed against the military and the police, against ministers in the coup regime, or against members of Egypt's Coptic minority and their churches.
One might well want to weigh critical analyses of the kind I have cited, as well as the statements posted at Ikwanweb.com, against news reports of an opposing tendency. But distressingly, I do not find any hint of an attempt to weigh competing claims and sift out probable truths in The Charger's editorial.
The above matters might be understood as questions of editorial imbalance that could be corrected by a follow-up editorial. But the November 27 editorial offers clear support to the Egyptian military as a force aligned with the interests of the Egyptian people, and it demands that the Harper government label the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group and reject any Egyptian refugee claimants stained by association with this party. I reject these positions, and refuse any association with them.
Since when does The Canadian Charger concede to the Harper government—which since it came to power in 2006 has without fail supported Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which boasts of having “punched above its weight” in the NATO bombing of Libya two years ago, and which has pressed for aggression against Syria and Iran—the moral authority to make such a determination?
In its demand for the criminalization of the party overthrown by Egypt's military coup, and in its reference to the Palestinian political party Hamas, the editorial is lending The Charger's support to the policies of the Egyptian junta and of the Harper government—and to the use by both of them of the discredited rhetoric of the “war on terror.”
I oppose political parties guided by sectarian principles. I also oppose, more adamantly, military dictatorships, not least because their guiding principle is state terrorism.
One of the things that needs urgently to be said about the Egyptian coup is that its consequences have included not merely a harshly augmented infliction of state terror on Egyptians, but also—through the closure of the Rafah crossing and the tunnel systems—a radical intensification of the state terrorism inflicted by Israel and its allies on the population of Gaza, in punishment for having freely elected a Hamas government in 2006. (Bombing a captive and defenceless civilian population is state terrorism: so also is depriving them of drinking water, food, medicine, sewage facilities, employment, and contact with the outside world.)
The November 27 editorial supports the Egyptian military coup, and it supports Mr. Hassan Sherif's call for the Canadian government to “be consistent” and list the Muslim Brotherhood along with Hamas “as a terrorist group.” Whatever the editorialist's intentions, the text carries an implicit endorsement of these consequences as well. I find this intolerable.
Yours sincerely and respectfully,
Professor Emeritus, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph
cc: Members of the Editorial Board and Board of Contributors
Terry Glavin made a defamatory reference to my Israeli Apartheid Week public lecture, “'Dark Hope': The Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine” (University of Guelph, March 7, 2012), in an article he published in the Ottawa Citizen on March 8 and the Vancouver Sun on March 10. My letter responding to this defamation was published by both newspapers—as “Words were misinterpreted,” Ottawa Citizen (14 March 2012), http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Words+were+misinterpreted/6297753/story.html; and in abbreviated form as “Attack on critics of Israel distorts, ignores facts,” Vancouver Sun (14 March 2012), available at http://www.ottawcitizen.com/news/Attack+critics+Israel+distorts+ignores+facts/6298790/story/html. The other correspondence reproduced here has not previously been published.
The newspapers integrated into Conrad Black's media empire received a hard right-wing stamp from Black and the editors he hired—an ideological slant that remained unchanged when his Canadian holdings passed into the hands of Israel Asper's CanWestGlobal chain, and that has persisted in the mutation of that chain's ownership into something calling itself Postmedia.
With honourable exceptions, journalists writing for this chain have learned that their job description includes an element of ideological police-work, which involves seeking to discredit people of opposing viewpoints by any means available. Terry Glavin, who writes for the Ottawa Citizen, and whose articles are often carried by other Postmedia newspapers, has made himself an expert in this kind of work.
On March 7, 2012 I delivered a public lecture, “'Dark Hope': The Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine,” as part of Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of Guelph. (That title, as I made clear in my lecture, echoes the title of a book by Israeli scholar and peace activist David Shulman, Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine.) The online poster advertising the IAW event was noticed by Glavin, who incorporated a defamatory reference to my lecture into an article, “The pseudo-left marches away from reason,” published by the Ottawa Citizen on March 8 and by the Vancouver Sun on March 10.
I reproduce here my correspondence with the Vancouver Sun, which may be of interest for what it reveals about the difficulty, once one has been smeared by newspapers in this chain, of exercising what used to be known as the right of reply.
I will not offer any recital, beyond what is contained in the correspondence, of the vicious inanities contained in Glavin's article: anyone interested in the full details of his text can look it up on the Ottawa Citizen's website.
One of the subjects on which Glavin exposed his ignorance and vented his hatred was the Israeli attack, in international waters, on the humanitarian relief vessel Mavi Marmara, the flagship of an international flotilla that was seeking peacefully to break Israel's illegal blockade of the Gaza strip.
I chose in the letter I sent for publication in the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun to mock Glavin's stupidities; it remains a fact that the nine civilian peace activists who were murdered by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010 were shot a total of thirty times, and that five of the victims, as The Guardian reported, “were shot either in the back of the head or the back.”1
1. Letter to the Editor, Vancouver Sun (sent March 11, 2012)
To the Editor:
Terry Glavin's shillelagh-swinging is a treat to watch, even when it's oneself he's trying to whiff with his little cudgel (“The pseudo-left marches away from reason,” March 10, 2012).
What other journalist could consign opponents to “The Zombie Octoplex” and produce scoops at the same time? Who'd have guessed that the rights and liberties Arab activists struggle for across the Middle East are “already guaranteed” by Israel? The news will be a relief to the anemic women and stunted children of the blockaded Gaza strip, and to the Palestinian prisoners held without charges and dying on hunger strikes in Israeli jails.
Glavin tells us the Mavi Marmara's humanitarian aid mission was a “disgraceful hoax.” Let me guess: zombies again? Is that why Israeli commandos used head shots on “so-called peace activists” they killed?
A third example exposes Glavin's method. My Israeli Apartheid Week lecture, the online poster said, would reveal in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign “a humane, rational, and peaceful approach to solving the conflict.” With a wave of the Glavin shillelagh, this becomes “a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful necessity of Judenstaatsrein.”
When they're not zombies, peace activists are neo-Nazis; human solidarity is a hoax; and the blockaded are free. How clever!
Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph
2. Second letter to the Vancouver Sun (sent March 11, 2012)
To: The Editor, Letters Page, The Vancouver Sun
I sent you a letter early this-morning, responding to Terry Glavin's smearing of me in the article “The pseudo-left marches away from reason” that you published on March 10.
Although my letter is within the 200-word limit that you specify, and although you very clearly owe me a right of reply, I have not yet heard back from you.
My letter points out three flagrant falsifications in Glavin's column.
The third of these falsifications appears in the paragraph Glavin devotes to me. Let me explain to you why Glavin's words are defamatory as well as false.
The University of Guelph's Israeli Apartheid Week organization advertised my March 7, 2012 lecture, “'Dark Hope': The Resistance to War and Ethnic Cleansing in Israel/Palestine,” in an online poster. That poster, which Mr. Glavin very clearly read, stated that my lecture would argue “that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign offers a humane, rational, and peaceful approach to solving the conflict.” But Mr. Glavin informs your readers that I delivered “a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful necessity of Judenstaatsrein.”
The statement that I used that last word is of course false. But are you aware of the word's implications?
“Judenrein” (meaning “cleansed of Jews”) is a term that was used by the Nazis to describe the goal of a murderous antisemitism that culminated in the Shoah.
“Judenstaatsrein” (meaning “cleansed of a Jewish state”) is a polemical coinage invented by supporters of the policies of the state of Israel as a means of smearing opponents of those policies. The claim that is made by people who deploy this word is that criticisms of Israeli policies amount to a devious continuation of the antisemitic project of the Nazis. Nazi antisemites wanted a world that would be “Judenrein”; their successors (call them what you like: neo-Nazis or new antisemites) now supposedly want a world that would be “Judenstaatsrein”—and the continuity of their hatred is implied by the resemblance of the two words.
I hope you understand now, if you didn't before, why Mr. Glavin's statement that I myself used that word is a defamatory smear.
I hope you understand as well that I regard this as a very serious matter.
Your newspaper, by publishing Mr. Glavin's article, has defamed me. I expect from you a right of reply—by which I mean that I expect you to publish my letter, in its entirety.
I would like to hear from you at your earliest convenience.
p.s. I am appending to this letter a copy of my 'Letter to the Editor'.
3. Third letter to the Vancouver Sun (sent March 12, 2012)
From: Michael Keefer
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 2:06 PM
To: Valerie Casselton, Executive Editor, The Vancouver Sun; Nicholas Palmer, Senior Editor, The Vancouver Sun; Harold Munro, Deputy Managing Editor, The Vancouver Sun; Fazil Mihlar, Editorial Pages Editor, The Vancouver Sun
Dear Valerie Casselton, Nicholas Palmer, Harold Munro, and Fazil Mihlar,
On March 10, The Vancouver Sun published an article by Terry Glavin, “The pseudo-left marches away from reason,” a short paragraph of which was devoted to me.
Mr. Glavin's remarks included a statement that is both false and defamatory.
Early on March 11, I sent a 'Letter to the Editor' to the address firstname.lastname@example.org. In that message, sent from my g-mail account, I provided my home address and telephone number; and in a follow-up message sent several minutes later, I gave you my University of Guelph email address as well.
When by yesterday evening I had not heard back from The Vancouver Sun, I sent a follow-up message to the same address (email@example.com).
Mr. Glavin stated in his article that I had delivered “a lecture on the humane, rational and peaceful necessity of Judenstaatsrein.” His wording implies very clearly that I used the word “Judenstaatsrein” (which, by the way, Mr. Glavin evidently believes to be a noun rather than an adjective).
I did not use the word, and in my follow-up message I explained very clearly why Mr. Glavin's ascription of it to me is defamatory as well as false.
Having given this explanation, and having indicated that I regard this as a very serious matter, I am, frankly, astonished not to have heard back from The Sun.
I would now like to have a prompt assurance that this matter is being dealt with in a manner consistent with professional journalistic standards and common decency.
Professor Emeritus, University of Guelph
p.s. I append a copy of my follow-up letter, and of the original Letter-to-the-Editor.
4. The Outcome
At 5:08 p.m. on March 12, I heard from Fazil Mihlar, the Vancouver Sun's Editorial Pages Editor: “Dear Prof. Keefer: This is the first I am hearing of this; will read and get back to you.” Mihlar wrote again ten minutes later to say that “We will run the letter in its entirety in wed's paper.” The Sun didn't quite come through on this promise: the letter appeared on March 14, 2012 in a slightly abbreviated form, though with my mockery of Glavin largely intact.
In the mean time the Ottawa Citizen, which whom I had a similar but briefer correspondence, published my letter without changes, though with a stultifying headline: “Words were misinterpreted.” (It would seem that in the mental universe inhabited by the Citizen's editorial staff, a gratuitous insinuation of neo-Nazi antisemitism counts as “misinterpretation.”)
A satisfactory outcome? Hardly—even if it was a small pleasure to see language diverging from the uncritically pro-Israel party line appearing, however briefly, in two Postmedia outlets. For it would seem that Terry Glavin himself had the pleasure of knowing he had got away with yet another smear.
“Dieu me pardonnera,” wrote the poet Heinrich Heine: “c'est son métier.” Terry Glavin's métier has become the production of vicious libels. But perhaps, in his ongoing practice of this debased sub-journalism, Glavin may make the mistake of smearing someone who has the leisure and the inclination to press libel charges.
I was content to mock Glavin's idiocies in the same Postmedia outlets where he makes his living; before too long, some other recipient of his abuse may feel inclined to impose a more substantive penalty.
1 Quoted by Moustafa Bayoumi, “Introduction,” in Bayoumi, ed., Midnight on the Mavi Marmara: The Attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and How It Changed the Course of the Israel/Palestine Conflict (New York: OR Books, 2010), p. 3.
The primary content of this piece was first published among the comments to an article by Robyn Urback, “Research grant to fund conspiracy theories? University of Lethbridge student awarded $7,714 to investigate war on terror 'truth',” Maclean's (26 November 2010), http://www.macleans.ca/education/university/research-grant-to-fund-conspiracy-theories/.
The short texts reproduced here were occasioned by a minor outbreak of McCarthyist journalism in the autumn of 2010. It was initiated by Jonathan Kay of the National Post, who had recently published Among the Truthers, an attempt to explain, in the inept vocabulary of pop psychology, the phenomenon of scepticism about the official narrative about the events of September 11, 2001 and the “global war on terror” which that narrative legitimized.
On November 25, 2010, Kay devoted his column to what might seem a bizarrely petty subject: the fact that the University of Lethbridge had awarded a quite modest graduate fellowship to Joshua Blakeney, a student who planned, under the supervision of Professor Anthony Hall, to write an MA thesis that would “evaluate the content, quality and veracity of the body of literature that both supports and criticizes the government version of history used to justify the invasions and domestic transformations that make up the GWOT [Global War On Terrorism].”1
My own assessment of such a research proposal would be that, barring rigorous selectiveness as to how much of the field it attempted to cover, the subject risked being much too large for an MA thesis.
Kay thought it deficient in other respects—first, because he knew that both Professor Hall and Joshua Blakeney had expressed vocal doubts about the veracity of that “government version of history,” and secondly because Blakeney's research proposal indicated that his and Professor Hall's interest in “debates and controversies concerning the originating events of the GWOT” had been stimulated “by the scholarship of a number of academics including professors David Ray Griffin, John McMurtry, Michel Chossudovsky, Graeme MacQueen, Michael Keefer, Peter Dale Scott, Stephen Jones, Niels Harrit, and Nafeez Ahmed.” These names, Kay remarked,
effectively constitute a who's-who of the most influential Canadian, American and British 9/11 Truth conspiracy theorists. [....]
In other words, the University of Lethbridge—and, through the province of Alberta's funding arrangements, the taxpayers of Alberta—are paying a British graduate student $7,714 to pursue his conspiracy theory that the 9/11 attacks were staged by Washington.
Does anyone else see a problem with that?2
I would have liked to post a comment on the National Post website, indicating that I saw two problems with Jonathan Kay's own column—the first being a transparent McCarthyism, and another more serious one being a matter of intellectual dishonesty.
That might seem a severe judgment, but Kay interviewed me at length in 2009 for his Truthers book. Knowing him to have had a scientific education, I gave him detailed guidance during that interview and in follow-up correspondence as to the scientific studies and the physical, chemical, and materials-science evidence that underlies my own rejection of the “government narrative” of the three World Trade Center skyscraper collapses on 9/11. One would not guess from Kay's book, or from anything else he's written on the subject, that such information as this existed.
It would be absurd to demand that others automatically assent to my own interpretations of such matters. But I do observe that Jonathan Kay knows very well that scepticism about the government narrative of 9/11 is supported by a substantial body of unchallenged peer-reviewed scientific evidence, some of it published by Stephen Jones and Niels Harrit. He should also know, if he has read any of the books on 9/11 by David Ray Griffin, Michel Chossudovsky, Peter Dale Scott, and Nafeez Ahmed, as well as essays by John McMurtry, Graeme MacQueen, and others, that a large amount of other evidence points in the same direction. For him to give no hint of this, while smearing as “conspiracy theorists” the scientists and scholars who have helped to assemble and to analyze this evidence, is dishonest.
I am not writing out of any animus over my own treatment in Jonathan Kay's book. Aside from his suppression of serious evidence with which I know him to have been acquainted, my only objection to the three pages he devoted to me in the first chapter of Among the Truthers would be that he gave readers an inflated impression of my academic reputation as a scholar of Renaissance literature and early modern philosophy.
I would have liked to raise a parallel objection to being included among a list of “influential” 9/11 sceptics in Kay's November 25th article: I am indeed a 9/11 sceptic, but the characterization “influential” is in my estimation untrue. (In this case, to be fair, the error was Joshua Blakeney's: Kay merely quoted and commented on his list.) However, I was unable to post a response to Kay's article on the National Post website. Since no comments of any kind appear under the article in question, I suppose that the comments function must have been deliberately disabled.
Kay's stirring of the pot was quickly taken up in Maclean's magazine by Robyn Urback, who on the next day, November 26, 2010, published a short article whose title ends with a question mark: “Research grant to fund conspiracy theories?”3 Perhaps she hoped the grant would be withdrawn.
Urback's trajectory in this piece is interesting. To her mind, the “lunacy” of using tax dollars “to fund conspiracy theories” was “readily apparent.” But unexpectedly, she deviated into what looked like a defense of academic freedom, writing that “the expectation of graduate research is that it challenges the status quo and seeks to break through conventional belief.” Though feeling “little faith” that Blakeney's MA thesis could amount to more than “9/11 jabber,” she proposed that “academic freedom would be compromised if taxpayers could suddenly decide which theses were worth their dollar.” But then another swerve took her to her real goal:
Indeed, I think the outrage is warranted [...], but if anything, this situation just reinforces the need to establish a fully private post-secondary education system.4
I took this as a starting point in commenting on Robyn Urback's article.
1. Comment on Robyn Urback “Research grant to fund conspiracy theories? University of Lethbridge student awarded $7,714 to investigate war on terror 'truth',” Maclean's (26 November 2010), posted on 27 November at 4:52 p.m.
Let's ask ourselves a simple question. Why do Canadians think it important to pay for publicly funded universities—including paying the salaries of real scholars who do actual research as well as teaching, and including the provision of research grants to support graduate students who will go on to become university researchers and teachers themselves?
One reason, I would suggest, is that Canadians still see some value in being able to distinguish between critically sifted historical actualities and the miasmal deceptions of propaganda. We still see some value in being assisted to an understanding of the forces at work in contemporary history by people who (as Shakespeare's Hamlet put it) can show “the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”
Professor Anthony Hall of Lethbridge University is a scholar of high distinction whose two books, The American Empire and the Fourth World (2004) and Earth Into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism (2010), both published by McGill-Queen's University Press, are major contributions to an understanding of North American history.
The sneering attacks by Jonathan Kay and now also by Robyn Urback on the quite modest research funding that the University of Lethbridge is offering to Professor Hall's graduate student Joshua Blakeney are easily identifiable as McCarthyist gutter journalism. But it may not be immediately obvious how much is at stake in this apparently quite minor controversy.
A significant number of young Canadians, serving in good faith and courageously in a war whose only justification is the official narrative of the events of 9/11, have been killed and maimed in Afghanistan. (Let us add that a much larger number of Afghans have been killed, maimed, or tortured as a result of our presence in their country.)
But that official narrative about 9/11—that official conspiracy theory—is, from top to bottom, untrue. The key evidence adduced by the 9/11 Commission Report was all based upon torture, and the pseudo-scientific explanations of the destruction of the Twin Towers and World Trade Center 7 that were offered by the US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have been refuted by independent scientific studies that show the buildings were brought down by explosive demolition.
I am a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada. In early October of this year, I stood on the College's parade square with several hundred other ex-cadets, including more than fifty from the class in which I graduated forty years ago, and watched as two currently serving officer cadets were presented with awards given to them by the bereaved families—parents, widows, and small children—of two RMC graduates recently killed in Afghanistan. I grieved then for the loss of those young lives, and I grieve now.
I do not want to see any more young Canadians killed or maimed in a war that is grounded in a pack of lies about the events of 9/11.
How then would I describe the behaviour of those, whether journalists or fellow citizens, who seek to obstruct, through mockery or through threats of de-funding, the honest research of scholars in Canadian universities into what happened on 9/11, and into the ways in which the events of that day have been so thoroughly obfuscated?
I have one word to describe that mockery, and those threats. They are contemptible.
2. An addendum, posted on 27 November 2010 at 6:18 p.m.
How interesting: the British newspaper The Independent has named Professor Hall's Earth Into Property as one of the best books of 2010. (See “The best books for Christmas: Our pick of 2010,” The Independent [26 November 2010].)
3. A response by David Leitch, Ph.D., 27 November 2010 at 9:07 p.m.
One of the first posts in response to Robyn Urback's article had been by David Leitch, who identified himself as “a recent graduate of a Ph.D. program here in Canada,” and professed himself “fairly appalled at the fact that government-dispensed grant money is going to fund such nonsense. [....] What I cannot fathom is that some granting agency actually gave credence to a verifiably false thesis: that the United States government somehow orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.” Expressing his faith in NIST's report on the collapse of the Twin Towers, Dr. Leitch marvelled that anyone could “honestly believe” that a government incapable of preventing the leaking of hundreds of thousands of documents relating to its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and including confidential diplomatic cables, “could possibly keep a MASSIVE conspiracy under wraps” for a week, let alone nearly a decade.
Dr. Leitch responded aggressively to my first post:
“You're accusing the NIST of pseudo-science? Do you have advanced degrees in Civil, Structural, Mechanical, and Materials Engineering? Architecture? Physics? Do you even know what the NIST is actually tasked with, or how many other agencies and groups contributed to that report? The NIST is NOT the US government—they are about as apolitical as you can get. Throw in for good measure the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Society of Fire Protection Engineers, National Fire Protection Association, American Institute of Steel Construction, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, and the Structural Engineers Association of New York. But I guess all these groups are in on the conspiracy too hey? Just how many tens of thousands of people are 'in the know' about 'the truth,' and why have none of these people come forward with any shred of evidence to support the controlled demolition theory? And where are these independent scientific studies that refute the NIST report? Are they published? Certainly the NIST report is not perfect, no scientific paper ever is, but making the leap to controlled demolition is ludicrous. Ever heard of Occam's Razor? Everyone in the entire world saw planes hit those buildings. Why is there a need to invoke an astronomically complex plan to blow the buildings up? And no, analyzing YouTube videos does not count as scientific. [....]”
4. My response, posted on 30 November 2010 at 8:54 p.m.
A quick seminar for David Leitch, who doesn't like criticism of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.
i. “As apolitical as you can get?”
NIST, an agency of the US Department of Commerce, was under direct Bush administration control. A NIST whistleblower went public in 2007, claiming that NIST had been “fully hijacked from the scientific into the political realm,” and that their work on 9/11 evidence was done under direct surveillance by the National Security Agency, senior officials of the Department of Commerce, and President Bush's Office of Management and Budget. (See David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, pp. 11-12.)
ii. Some scientific studies:
(a) Steven Jones at al., “Extremely high temperatures during the World Trade Center destruction,” Journal of 9/11 Studies (January 2008);
(b) Kevin Ryan et al., “Environmental anomalies at the World Trade Center: evidence for energetic materials,” The Environmentalist (August 2008);
(c) Graeme MacQueen and Tony Szamboti, “The Missing Jolt: A Simple Refutation of the NIST-Bazant Collapse Hypothesis,” Journal of 9/11 Studies (January 2009);
(d) Niels Harrit et al., “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,” The Open Chemical Physics Journal 2 (2009).
iii. Plus two studies of witness evidence, both by Graeme MacQueen:
(a) “118 Witnesses: The Firefighters' Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers,” Journal of 9/11 Studies (August 2006);
(b) “Waiting for Seven: WTC 7 Collapse Warnings in the FDNY Oral Histories,” Journal of 9/11 Studies (January 2008).
iv. Occam's Razor
Yes, I've heard of it. If David Leitch cares to look up William of Occam's Reportatio II (Book 3 of his Super quatro libros sententiarum), q. 150, he'll learn that Occam himself thought the so-called “Razor”—his injunction against “multiplying entities” in causal explanations—doesn't apply to observations of physical events.
Of course two hijacked aircraft hit the Twin Towers. But NIST's account of the buildings' destruction has been refuted, and the clear scientific evidence that explosives were used is massively supported by the testimony of witnesses.
v. Since we've strayed into medieval philosophy....
Let's hear what another English Franciscan, Roger Bacon, said in the opening section of his Opus Maius about the causes of error.
“The four chief obstacles to grasping truth,” he says, “are submission to incorrect and unworthy authority; the influence of custom; popular prejudice; and concealment of our ignorance, accompanied by an ostentatious display of our knowledge.”
Ouch. (That last phrase hurts.) Does the shoe pinch you as well, Dr. Leitch?
5. An objection by 'George', posted on 1 December 2010 at 3:42 a.m.
Dear Michael Keefer,
I hope you know your use of “scientific evidence” is terribly misguided, and that you are just pretending and are performing a study to see how people react to your statements... Sure the Journal of 9/11 Studies and The Open Chemical Physics Journal contained peer-reviewed “science”—to the ability of those peers. There's a reason who those “peers” are stuck submitting their articles into the open version of a real science journal, and the Journal of the 9/11 Conspiracy.
“...the clear scientific evidence that explosives were used...” What is this scientific evidence exactly? I fear you mean “the clear YouTube video analysis...”
6. Signing off, on 2 December 2010 at 11:04 p.m.
I'm sorry—I forgot to mention that the six studies I mentioned are all available online: Google will fetch them for you in an instant. Do please read them and form your own opinion of their significance.
1 Joshua Blakeney, MA research proposal quoted by Jonathan Kay, “University of Lethbridge pays student $7,714 to pursue 9/11 conspiracy theories,” National Post (25 November 2010), http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/11/25/university-of-lethbridge-pays-student-7714-to-pursue-conspiracy-theories/.
2 Kay, “University of Lethbridge pays student $7,714.”
3 Robyn Urback, “Research grant to fund conspiracy theories? University of Lethbridge student awarded $7,714 [to] investigate war on terror 'truth',” Maclean's (26 November 2010), http://www.maclans.ca/education/university/research-grant-to-fund-conspiracy-theories/.
On February 14, 2010 I gave an invited lecture on “Media Self-Censorship and the Threat of Government Censorship” at the Islamic Society of York Region's Crescent Centre in Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto. My talk received hostile coverage in the National Post in an article by Joseph Brean published on February 16—to which I responded in a letter to the editor, sent very early the next morning.
My ensuing correspondence with two National Post editors is of some interest for what it reveals about the ethics of this newspaper. Letters editor Paul Russell stated on February 17 that he would print my letter (though not until after the 18th), and Jonathan Kay agreed that I was owed a right of reply. In the interim, the National Post printed on February 17 a letter which attributed to me an opinion Brean's article had snidely insinuated must be part of my belief system—and on that basis made a direct accusation of antisemitism. On the afternoon of February 21, by which time it was obvious that my original letter had been flushed down the memory hole, I wrote again to Paul Russell and Jonathan Kay. The last text here is Paul Russell's two-sentence message of apology (if that's what it is).
Cyril Connolly wrote in The Unquiet Grave that “Imprisoned in every fat man a thin man is wildly signalling to be let out.” One might say, by analogy, that within each of these two editors of the National Post a person of some decency was making rather pallid efforts—not, alas, sustained—to make himself visible.
Smear Tactics of the National Post: Correspondence with Paul Russell and Jonathan Kay, February 17-21, 2010
1. Michael Keefer to Paul Russell (Letters editor), February 17, 2010
From: Michael Keefer
Sent: Wed 17/02/2010 1:42 a.m.
To: Letters (National Post)
Subject: Letter to the editor (responding to Joseph Brean's Feb. 16 comments on me)
Joseph Brean's report on my talk at the Islamic Society of York Region's Crescent Centre illustrates very neatly some of the points I made about systematic omission, distortion, and deception in the news.
Mr. Brean wished elsewhere in his article to insinuate that an Iranian video shown earlier in the evening had stupidly exposed warlike nuclear ambitions on Iran's part. Naturally, then, he avoided mentioning that one of my examples of media falsehood was the deployment against Iran of the same lies about WMDs that were used to legitimize the invasion of Iraq in 2003—this despite the 2006 US National Intelligence Estimates, which declared that Iran was at least a decade away from being able to produce key components of a nuclear weapon. (The IAEA's rigorous inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities have of course never found any sign of a weapons program.)
I referred also to scientific analyses, published in the online Journal of 9/11 Studies, which show unequivocally that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by planned demolition—and noted, as one of my examples of deception-by-omission, that the corporate media have avoided mentioning these very newsworthy studies. Mr. Brean also managed not to mention their existence.
As for the Toronto 18 group, its only two or three members who had dangerously fanatical ideas had been under close surveillance for years. The group as such was assembled by one police agent, given the idea of making bombs by a second, and provided with expertise, financial assistance, and materials by a third. Until Mr. Brean can propose a better name for this pattern of events, “police frame-up” will do just fine.
2. Paul Russell to Michael Keefer (and replies), February 17
Letters (National Post) wrote (Feb 17, 6:10 a.m.):
Thanks for your letter. It will be considered for upcoming editions
Michael Keefer wrote (Feb 17, 12:04 p.m.):
Thanks for your quick reply.
My text is perhaps longer than you normally print in the letters column. However, I do think the National Post owes me the right to respond to Mr. Brean's remarks about me.
Would that fall more under Jonathan Kay's editorial responsibilities than yours? I'll send him a copy of my letter.
p.s. I note that for some reason the apostrophes have dropped out of my text in the form you have it. I'm re-sending it to you as an attachment to this message.
Letters (National Post) wrote:
I'm planning to run your letter, so no concerns.
Michael Keefer wrote (Feb 17, 2:32 p.m.):
Letters (National Post) wrote:
Thanks, and FYI, there is no room tomorrow.
3. Michael Keefer to Jonathan Kay (and replies)
Michael Keefer wrote (Feb 17, 12:22 p.m.):
I'm attaching a copy of a letter I wrote in response to Joseph Brean's February 16 column, in which I received his unflattering attentions at some length.
I sent the letter last night to the Post's letters page, and received a very prompt response from Paul Russell. I've replied to him saying that I would guess my text is longer than the Post usually publishes on its letters page—but that I do think the Post owes me a right of reply.
I also guessed that right-of-reply issues might be your editorial responsibility, and said I'd send my letter to you: I've attached it to this message. (For some reason, all the apostrophes dropped out of the version that Paul has.
Kay, Jonathan (National Post) wrote (Feb 17, 12:30 p.m.):
Let me talk to the letters editor
I think you should have the right to respond ...
4. Michael Keefer to Paul Russell and Jonathan Kay (and reply), February 21
From: Michael Keefer
Sent: Sun 21/02/2010 4:29 p.m.
To: Letters (National Post); Kay, Jonathan (National Post)
Subject: Re: Letter to the editor (responding to Joseph Brean's Feb. 16 comments on me)
Dear Paul and Jonathan,
Unless I've been more than usually unobservant, the National Post hasn't run my letter. I would guess now, since we'll soon be five days on from the time I sent it in, that it's not going to be published in the Post. So much, then, for the right to reply.
I don't reproach either of you, but I do reproach whoever countermanded the good intentions you expressed in your notes to me.
In my letter, dated on the 16th but actually sent very early on the morning of the 17th, I replied just to Joseph Brean's article.
But let me draw your attention to the little twist the Post gave to the story by publishing on the 17th a letter from a person in Thornhill who asserted that Brean “quotes Michael Keefer as saying 9/11 was a planned demolition run by Americans (which was obviously a product of the all-powerful Zionist lobby in Washington).”
Most if not all readers will understand that sentence to mean that everything after “as saying” was actually quoted by Joseph Brean from the talk I gave. Not so: Brean didn't quote the bracketed words from me, for the very good reason that I said nothing of the sort.
Of course, without the implication that I blamed 9/11 on “the all-powerful Zionist lobby in Washington,” the direct accusation of antisemitism in the person-from-Thornhill's last sentence wouldn't work quite as smoothly. (Unless one has something plausibly antisemitic to start with, it's a long jump to the blood libel.)
The profound indecency here isn't Joseph Brean's—he was just doing his job, which seems to consist of repeated exercises in what I've termed “subtractive politicizing.” Nor should it be laid at the door of the letter writer with the Passover-Seder-hymn name, who's probably no more than a clever schoolboy.
The real indecency is on the part of a newspaper that amuses itself by dancing in the waltz-time of Two Smears-No Reply.
Letters (National Post) wrote:
I'm sorry, but while Jonathan and I generally supported the idea of running your letter, other senior editors had concerns with it, and hence its lack of publication. But thanks for your note and your observations about the other letter.
NP letters editor
First published in University of Toronto Quarterly 74.1 (Winter 2004-2005): 541-42.
Review of Marcel Danesi, Forever Young: The Teen-Aging of Modern Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2003)
The central argument of this book is announced in its preface: “Teen tastes have become the tastes of all because the economic system in which we live requires this to be so, and it has thus joined forces with the media-entertainment oligarchy to promote its forever young philosophy on a daily basis.” But is this “media-entertainment oligarchy” somehow distinct from our economic system? Isn't it rather an essential component of that system, the means by which popular assent even to its grossest depredations is manufactured? Whatever the case may be, a reader interested in analysis of the economic and ideological concomitants of the cultural “juvenilization” that is the subject of this book will be disappointed.
Marcel Danesi's first chapter offers an outline both of the reconceptualization of childhood since the mid-nineteenth century, and also of the twentieth-century invention of adolescence (a supposedly universal “developmental stage” unknown to many societies)—in which a key moment was the business world's discovery in the late 1960s of “how to incorporate the powerful images of youth protest into the 'grammar' of everyday life.” The following chapter, “Looking like Teenagers,” analyses in terms of fashion and cosmetics the delinking of physical from social maturity in our culture. Chapters 3 and 4, “Talking like Teenagers” and “Grooving like Teenagers,” provide an entertaining account of the absorption into mainstream discourse of teenage slang, and an unsteady (and sometimes flatly misleading) history of the development of pop music from early rock to rap. In an admonitory final chapter Danesi proposes the elimination of adolescence as a socio-cultural category, urging as steps towards this goal “three obvious things: (1) eliminating our social-scientific view of it; (2) restoring worth to the family as an institution; and (3) imbuing media representations of adolescence and family life with more dignity.”
But by his own account, two at least of Danesi's proposed remedies are non-starters. Social scientists' interpretations of adolescence may indeed be in need of revision—and urgently so if the US National Academy of Sciences and the McArthur Foundation were in 2002 “pegging the end of adolescence” at the startling ages, respectively, of thirty and thirty-four. Yet unless Danesi intends radically to alter the social and educational structures that have produced the phenomena his colleagues are seeking to describe, it seems silly to speak of “eliminating” their interpretations. The notion that the media might be persuaded to reform a system of representations that has proven its value in marketing and manipulation seems equally futile, especially given Danesi's argument that there's no point trying “to censor or repress media images of any kind.”
An awareness of the futility of his project may be one reason for the repeated outbursts of petulance that Danesi permits himself. He seems particularly exercised by the possibility that some of the best rock-to-rap music might belong to the category that Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble have recently defined as “rebel musics,” and declares that any such music that “appears to have a transgressive or subversive intent” is actually, “like all other things in modern society ... nothing more than the shrieking of a pampered group of self-anointed pseudo-activists whose ultimate goal is to get teens to buy their CDs and music videos.”
Descents of this kind into the declamatory invective of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity seem symptomatic of a larger conceptual failure. Cultural history of the sort that interests Marcel Danesi should require, at the least, clear analyses of late twentieth-century racial politics and of the interactions of the “media-entertainment oligarchy” with the cultural productions of a racialized underclass and of youth subcultures pushed into dissidence by an open-eyed awareness of global and systemic injustices. To these I'd add usable notions of cultural appropriation, of the recuperation of subversion (a subject thoroughly explored during the 1980s and 1990s by scholars in the field of cultural studies)—and also, if one wishes to avoid foolish comparisons between Chuck Berry and Beethoven's Appassionata sonata, of generic difference.
Having abstained from work of this kind, Danesi should not be surprised if his book gets a better reception from radio shock jocks than from cultural historians.
The four short texts reproduced here, which date from 2002, may be of interest as samples of the routine exclusion by the Canadian media of voices dissenting from a pro-Zionist political orthodoxy. These texts have not previously been published.
1. Margaret Wente and Ariel Sharon: Letter (unpublished) to The Globe and Mail, 9 March 2002
To the editor, Letters Page:
Margaret Wente enlists support for the Sharon government by claiming that Israeli “fair-mindedness and compromise have led to a murderous dead end” (“Why they booed Bill Graham,” March 9).
Would she describe as “fair-minded” the processes of expropriation, settlement and cantonization that went on under South African apartheid? Why does she find similar processes acceptable when applied to the Palestinians of the occupied territories?
As for “compromise,” it was the Sharon government that closed down all negotiations. Twice in recent months when lulls in the violence opened the possibility of renewed talks, Israel launched renewed attacks (including targeted assassinations that might fairly be described as “murderous”).
Wente paints a dismaying picture of Muslim anti-Jewish sentiments, and of Yasser Arafat's duplicity. Given the enormously greater power held by the Israeli Prime Minister, his record is rather more dismaying. Sharon's paratroop unit perpetrated well-documented massacres of civilians in 1953, and there is compelling evidence that the appalling 1982 massacres in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila were carried out under his orders.
Current Israeli reprisal attacks upon civilians reveal a willingness to repeat this behaviour on a massive scale. Canadians should unequivocally condemn these acts of state terror.
2. Phone-In (not broadcast) to the Talk-Back line of CBC Radio's “As It Happens,” 11 March 2002
This is Michael Keefer calling, from Toronto. I'd like to respond to the claims made on your show by the scholar from the “conflict resolution” institute at Bar Elam University in Israel whom you interviewed yesterday.
The violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestine conflict is sickening, but there's no need to misrepresent historical facts as he did. Since 1977—that's twenty-five years ago now—the PLO has repeatedly offered to renounce violence and to recognize Israel's statehood in return for a Palestinian state in the occupied territories. It's a fact that the Sharon government unilaterally shut down all negotiations. It's a fact that the Israeli occupation, the building of settlements, the bombing of civilians, and the bulldozing of houses are all violations of international law.
And finally, there's good reason to believe that Prime Minister Sharon is guilty of war crimes. This is the man who oversaw the massacre of 2,000 civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982.
It looks as if he's up to his old tricks again.
3. Rex Murphy's Abuse of NDP MP Svend Robinson: Letter (unpublished) to The Globe and Mail, 20 April 2002
So what is it exactly that Rex Murphy finds so contemptible and absurd about Svend Robinson? The state of Israel is enforcing its continuing illegal occupation of territories conquered in the war of 1967 by deploying overwhelming military force against Palestinian cities, towns, and refugee camps. Not merely are Israeli forces rocketing and bombarding civilian populations; they have also attacked hospital facilities, ambulances, and medical personnel. Civilians injured by Israeli military action have been actively prevented from receiving medical assistance, and left to die in the streets. There is mounting evidence that hundreds of civilians have been killed, and that Palestinian fighters and civilians captured by Israeli forces have been tortured and summarily executed.
These policies are being directed by an Israeli Prime Minister who provoked the present intifada eighteen months ago by invading the precincts of the Dome of the Rock with a large “protective” force of police and soldiers; who sabotaged and cancelled the already faltering peace negotiations as soon as he came to power; and who has, in addition, a well-documented record as a war criminal that now stretches back almost a half-century. (Ariel Sharon's responsibility for the massacres of civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in September 1982 is well known—but he first made a name for himself in August and October 1953, when the paratroop Unit 101 which he commanded massacred over 100 civilians in night-time “reprisal” attacks on the El-Bureig refugee camp and on the Jordanian village of Qibya.)
In the face of George Bush's declaration that Prime Minister Sharon is “a man of peace,” Svend Robinson is one of the very few politicians in this supine country who has had the guts to speak out against Israeli state terrorism, and to make the more significant gesture of travelling to the places where war crimes are still being committed to speak out against them there.
Robinson must have guessed that many in his own party would be too confused or too cowardly to follow his lead; he must have anticipated that Canadian supporters of Israel would attempt to smear him as an antisemite; and I'm sure he knew that his principled acts would be subjected to ridicule by every oily orthodox pundit in the country.
I honour Svend Robinson for his courage in defending human rights and international law.
(Professor) Michael H. Keefer
4. Incitement to hatred: Letter (unpublished) to The Toronto Star, 2 December 2002
I am writing in response to Rosie DiManno's grotesquely one-sided column (“Latest attack on Jews,” 2 December 2002), to express my shock that the Star would print what amounts to an incitement to sectarian and racial hatred.
One premise of DiManno's column is entirely correct: people everywhere, no matter what their religious or political commitments, should be prompt in condemning terror attacks upon civilians. She is thus right to criticize Muslim authorities who have failed to condemn the murderous attacks upon Jews in Kenya.
But let us pretend for a moment that the old notion of journalistic balance has some meaning. DiManno characterizes Palestinians as “bleat[ing]” when they plead for justice in the face of an illegal occupation in which they are subjected to Israeli state terror—which includes ethnic cleansing, indiscriminate attacks upon civilians, and a systematic denial of medical assistance to the victims. When has DiManno ever raised her voice against these crimes? Would she dare to describe as “bleating” the outcries of Israeli civilians who have been injured or bereaved by suicide bombers?
DiManno compares violent Islamicists who commit acts of terror against civilians to “cockroaches.” Would she dare to describe as vermin those members of the Israeli Defense Force who have committed acts of terror against Palestinian civilians? Would she, for that matter, apply to Judaism or to American Evangelical Christianity the same analysis that she applies to Islam?
Whether one believes, with DiManno, that Islamicist terrorists are motivated by an irrational hostility to the West and to Jews, and only opportunistically took up the cause of the Palestinians, or whether one sees a connection between the state terrorism inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinians and the retail terrorism practised by violent Islamicists, there can be no excuse for speaking of an entire people in language normally reserved for farm animals.
This short essay was written in December 1996, in the village of Chite in the hills south of Granada where we lived for seven months. I shopped it around to several Canadian newspapers, which were (unsurprisingly) not interested in printing a critique of their own bondage to advertisers. The piece has not previously been published.
Even in December the white adobe houses of this mountain village are washed in a strong Mediterranean sunlight.
Most of the young adults have gone off to join the twentieth century in cities like Motril or Granada, leaving the middle-aged to herd goats or lead their mules every morning down to the orange and olive orchards that surround the village, and the old men to display their leisure in public by clustering in the hottest corner of the square to gossip and grumble together.
The women are invisible, except for occasional sorties, until late afternoon. Then they emerge to dominate the paseo, strolling through the village in twos and threes, while the men retreat to Carmen's bar or the Noche Azul: the Blue—or let's get poetic—the Azure Night.
There one or another may raise his voice in the quavering lamentations of the flamenco cante jondo, or deep song. I have heard this same wonderful music from the throat of an elderly neighbour as she sat husking almonds by her open front door.
All very exotic, no? Especially if we add the high sierras brooding over an arid landscape, and the many traces, from the Alhambra in Granada to the irrigation system that gives this village its orchards, of a once-glorious Islamic culture.
But this corner of Andalusia, scarcely touched as yet by the mass tourism that has spoiled the Costa del Sol, is no more typical of contemporary Spain than the fishing villages of Nova Scotia or the Pacific northwest are of Canada.
The thought tips me into comparisons of this foreignness with the land I know best, and more particularly with the Ontario “heartland” that is my home.
By the measure of GNP, for what that's worth, Spain has for some years had more right than Canada to sit at the table of the G7 industrialized nations. But Spain's economic spurt since it emerged from the long darkness of the Franco dictatorship has come at a cost.
Traffic congestion in Barcelona or Granada is only slightly less nightmarish than—well, than Toronto's. And Spanish political leaders seem nearly as benighted on environmental issues as—well, as Mike Harris and his environment minister, if there's still such a post in the Ontario cabinet.
Let's turn to newspapers. In Canada, some 60 percent of all dailies are now owned by Conrad Black, under whose guidance they are becoming ever more completely vehicles for the sale of a tranquillized readership to the papers' commercial advertisers.
Try by comparison Ideal, the main regional daily of Andalusia. A typical midweek issue contains 56 pages, tabloid format. Almost three-quarters of the copy in front of me (41 and two-thirds pages) is devoted to news stories, for the most part written by Granada-based journalists rather than wire copy, and to editorial comment. Classified ads and small announcements by municipal or regional governments take up ten percent of the remainder, leaving some eight and three-quarters pages for commercial advertising—about 15.6 percent of the total space.
Compare these ratios with those of any of the papers in Conrad Black's Canadian stable: it's an instructive way of spending fifteen minutes. You'll see at once why Mr. Black's wallet is so fat and why, despite the physical bulk of his papers, their news and editorial content seems so thin.
El Païs, the principal national newspaper, has a ratio of news and editorial content to advertising similar to that of Ideal. In a typical Saturday issue of El Païs, you'll also find eleven or twelve full pages of book reviews, and a further ten pages of commentary on music, theatre, art, television and popular culture. Though I retain a perverse fondness for English Canada's “national newspaper,” the Toronto Globe and Mail, I have to admit that it doesn't come off very well in any comparison with El Païs.
Turn on the radio, then. (When I'm not listening to my small collection of cante jondo tapes—mostly singers of the 1930s who rejoiced in names like Niño Gloria, Niño Isidro, and Pericon de Cadiz—I have the radio going by my writing desk.) On the FM band there are two, count 'em, public networks with national and regional programming. One is devoted to news and public affairs; the other, Drrradio Clásica (I'm spelling it as I hear it), offers a rich blend of classical music, baroque to contemporary, and of folk music from around the world.
I think by comparison of CBC Radio, which thanks to Jean Chrétien's broken election promises is firing hundreds of technicians, programmers, and announcers.
But my neighbour is singing again. I turn off my radio and listen to her voice rising from the other side of the narrow street. It is an old song, of a young man taken from his girl and his orange grove to fight against Napoleon's army and stain the soil of a distant hilltop with his heart's blood.
My neighbour does not read El Païs or Ideal; nor does she listen to Radio Clásica or the news. Apart from what the TV soaps have taught her, I suspect that she knows as little of the world outside this pueblo as I know of Mars. Yet if the news media of our countries have any say in the matter, her grandchildren in Andalusia have a better chance of growing up into well-informed citizens than my children—or yours—do in Canada.