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Jonah Goldberg versus the wimps

By Jackson Murphy
web posted November 18, 2002

Canadians seem to get up in arms every time somebody says something remotely critical of the nation. It is not as if there is a wave, or even a ripple for that matter, of anti-Canadianism. But the moment one or two guys in the US say something about Canada then, well, you get the point.

Let's ignore Pat Buchanan's "Soviet Canuckistan" business-because I think the secret is out: we give away free healthcare and money to our people, shhhhh. What comment you say? Well nobody heard it because seriously, who watches "Buchanan and Press" on MSNBC anyway?. Exactly. But that didn't stop Canadian radio shows and water cooler chats from overanalyzing what a two-time losing presidential candidate said about Canada.

More important was a National Review cover article by Jonah Goldberg, the editor of National Review Online. It featured some Mounties and the words "WIMPS" boldly printed across. Shocking! Inside the article was actually called "Bomb Canada: The Case for War." Forget the whole Soviet business, this was serious-a unilateral strike against all Canadians.

What is funny about both incidents is that one provocative article, one incredibly well staged magazine cover, and one cable news talking head have people recalling how Canada torched the White House in the War of 1812. Or what about the majority of Hockey players being Canadian. Huh! Ya, you heard us Goldberg what do you think about that?

Some comments that Mr. Goldberg received and then giddily printed on NationalReview.com went like this: "So go ahead, knock yourself out. Insult your allies. Create enemies and then bomb them. Hide in your gated communities from the monsters created by the very nature of your pathetically superficial society. Revel in the majesty of your 'culture'; cheap beer, pro-football, Wal-Mart, Britney Spears and handguns!"

Fantastic comeback! If you want to get into mocking culture, the cheap beer, Wal-Mart, and Ms. Spears seem pretty damned good compared to maple syrup, poutine, Celine Dion, expensive beer, the CFL, and Canadian Tire. Oh and don't forget that all that precious yummy water we're hording for the apocalypse. Not exactly a good place to take an argument. I'll take the US culture any day if Britney, cheap beer, and handguns (not in any order of preference) are involved-especially if I don't have to watch the pathetic CFL.

But Goldberg revealed something besides Canadians who are a bunch of overcompensating ‘sensitive-Susans.' His point was that a little bit of a stiff hand might get Canada back into the geopolitical game. Canada is no longer serious as a power. As Goldberg tells it, "It has internalized the assumptions of U.N.-ology: not just anti-Americanism but also the belief that Western nations don't need military might."

Even in a constituency that would otherwise cozy up with the National Review crowd there are critics. Colby Cosh is a senior editor at The Report funnily billed as, "Canada's independent conservative newsmagazine." He thinks Goldberg was writing what he already thought he knew about Canada and suggests that it is, "pathetic." Then he goes right into urging Jonah to look at Canada's illustrious past in war. Again, this is a crazy argument. It is like saying, that we should judge Saddam Hussein on the times when he was happy simply to gas his own people. It is just too dangerous to coast through the 21st century on the very old and musty coattails of the 20th century.

Some people get the failures of modern Canada. Another reader of National Review came to Jonah's defense: "Most Canadians are like the British, mindlessly reciting the cliché that our health service is "the envy of the world" for years, until they finally look up and realize that the hospitals are filthy and understaffed, the doctors who haven't fled are demoralized, a trip to Emergency with your child for a few stitches will last 14 hours, and the rest of the world has long since left us in the dust."

Basically what Goldberg and others are beginning to ask is this: what have you done for me lately. Sure Canada has a long and noble history, but so do a lot of nations. That doesn't mean that we'll be able to trod throughout the world and simply because we have a Canadian flag sewn upon our backpacks we'll be treated like royalty, forever.

Sooner or later people are going to figure out that we're just like everyone else: Obnoxious beer drinking nitwits. And there is nothing wrong with that, but our inflated superiority, a complete inability to allow criticism, and a surprising absence of a national sense of humor are disheartening. The latter is most significant from a nation that has produced comedy genius the likes of Dan Aykroyd. But I digress.

Goldberg writes about many things-his dog Cosmo, his couch, meat snacks. And he has written extensive, probably in a Guinness record way, French bashing columns (I think annual affairs really) where he has written, "Survey after survey reveals that raccoons bathe more than the average Frenchman." Now everyone knows that the French are smelly cowards, but I doubt they wouldn't get their Brie in a knot over a few columns highlighting their bathing and surrendering habits. But that's France. Hey they have the bomb and all.

Canada on the other hand breaks out the high-test malt liquor and starts talking trash about wars that happened almost 200 years ago. Well at least he didn't speak ill of Tim Horton's donuts! That would make us really mad…Hey Jonah, they are terrible donuts and we long to be liberated by Krispy Kreme.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political commentary 24-7. You can contact him at jacksonmurphy@telus.net.

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