Monday, June 01, 2009

Stephen Harper and cosmopolitans

What is it with the Conservative Party of Canada and ignorance of the English language? I mean, say what you will about Brian Mulroney, but the man swallowed the frickin' Blarney Stone. He could string some words together.

But these guys? Boy, I don't know. Stockwell Day had no idea "spearchucker" meant something other than "person who throws spears" and, of course, Pierre Poilievre claims ignorance of the meanings of the phrase "Tar baby."

And now we get this from The Globe's Lysiane Gagnon (h/t to Susan Delacourt):

At worst, there is the suspicion that a cosmopolitan such as Mr. Ignatieff is not a loyal Canadian.

(In both French and English, the word “cosmopolitan” has some pejorative connotations, depending on the context. In France, the word cosmopolite is used by anti-Semites as a code word for Jew.)
I'm actually going to have to claim ignorance on this one too, as this connotation is news to me. But then, so is using the word cosmopolitan in a negative sense, as the Conservatives are doing.

And so did Joe Stalin, by the way:
After World War II, Stalin's anti-Semitism was revealed in a series of public attacks against Jews in the Soviet Union. Jews were labeled "cosmopolitans without a homeland," code for not being patriotic enough. By 1949, these attacks led to the abolition of the JAC, and the dismissals and arrests of thousands of Jews.

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Anonymous said...

The piece overall sort of rambles. But what stood out to me is her assumption that the current attacks wouldn't work as well in the US, where they respect achievement more (her words, not mine).

I think that one statement sort of obliterates her credibility on making any assumptions about the effectiveness of these ads.

If anything, a similar situation of a politician achieving success in another country would be devastating to a politician in the US. They would never even become party leader with that resume. I'm sure this is why the conservatives find the attack so appealing, since they march lock-step with the political mentality of their Republican counterparts. I'm sure it sounded like a no-brainer to them.

One wonders what they will resort to as it becomes clear that it is Canadians who are actually much more concerned with their party's deplorable record while in government.

RuralSandi said...

Interesting - isn't Harper a fan/reads about Stalin?

Barcs said...

“Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects.”
– Lester B. Pearson

"since they march lock-step with the political mentality of their Republican counterparts."

Not like Iggy who was the foremost academic supporting Bush's policys on terror. Those evil conservatives have stepped over the line drawing poor Iggy into their republican party shenanigans.

Maybe they have just read all the market data that suggests negative branding works against your opposition as well as positive advertising works for you. Like Chretien vs the tories, the Provincial NDP in Saskatchewan vs the tories. The provincial liberals in Quebec vs the PQ, The provincial tories in Quebec vs the liberals.

Fear and Smear man.. it works. And the proof you have for that is that people keep pushing the style. Take Joseph's "republican mentality" for example. Attach the fear to your opponent.

I do agree that some of the stuff said does cross the line (like you I didn't know cosmopolitan was a slur... other than to mean "elitist" or to us rednecks: "citified") Tar baby is one of those things that should never be said. But it is neither the first time I have heard name calling in parliament, nor is it the worst insult hurled. It is not proprietary to a single party either.

I think we should condemn people like Polivere for hurling such insults.

“Gentlemen, we all must realize that neither side has any monopoly on sons of bitches.” - C.D. Howe while representing Canada in a trade dispute with the US.

or the big Deifenbaker: “What is the difference between a cactus and a conservative caucus? On a cactus, the pricks are on the outside.”

Maybe Bob Rae back when he was premier: “The Liberals are a beanbag kind of party that looks like the last person that sat in it.”

Or liberal MP Carolyn Parish" “Damn Americans, I hate those bastards.” (who by the way said several such things that Chretien defended until he ultimately had to ask for a resignation.... several)

And Jeff, I apologize for the language used by the extremely tolerant and in no way mean at all liberals that I quoted. And also none of those quotes are from any liberal MP who may or may not be accused of abusing minorities that might work in a caregiver role in her house either.