Sunday, June 18, 2006

No Facts Please, I'm A Canadian Journalist

Heather Mallick, always good for a dose of bizarre reasoning and twisted thinking, has really outdone herself in this latest ramble for CBC's Viewpoint. Her target today is Christie Blatchford of the Globe and Mail.

Let's go back to the beginning. At the press conference held to announce the arrest of 17 suspects on terrorism charges, the police announced that the suspects were a diverse group from all strata of Canadian society. Blatchford took exception to this. She wrote:

"The accused men are mostly young and mostly bearded in the Taliban fashion. They have first names like Mohamed, middle names like Mohamed and last names like Mohamed. Some of their female relatives at the Brampton courthouse who were there in their support wore black head-to-toe burkas … which is not a getup I have ever seen on anyone but Muslim women."

Mallick is 'horrified' by this paragraph. Most of her column is then devoted to material written by Robert Fisk - well, it saves having to write your own column if Fisk has already done it for you, I suppose. Fisk is well dealt with by Andrew Coyne here, so we can pass over his contribution.

Mallick also quotes 'brave and unstoppable' Antonia Zerbisias, omitting to mention that the column she praises so mightily had to be withdrawn and re-written, and Zerbisias had to apologize for calling Blatchford a Nazi - apparently Mallick feels that Zerbisias had it right the first time.

Mallick re-quotes the offending paragraph with Jewish names, in pursuit of the Blatchford-as-Nazi plot, but then clarifies that 'of course Christie Blatchford didn't write that'. However, that's what Mallick apparently read - she's now decided that she is such a supreme journalist she doesn't actually read what's written on a page, she makes it up for herself. That this is her approach to reading the work of others, goes some way to explaining the quality of her writing.

Mallick further takes exception to a witness quoted in the Globe, who describes two of the suspects as 'brown-skinned'. Apparently, she feels that the Globe should not have printed this statement. No matter that the quote was that of a witness - that he said this is a fact - and no matter that the individuals concerned are brown-skinned, another fact. No, get the facts out of news reporting at the Globe, please.

Finally, Mallick objects to a distinction being made in this case between Canadian and Canadian-born men. The distinction is important, because there has always been a perception that terrorists were recent immigrants. To find that a group of men that were mostly born and raised in Canada harbour enough rage agains their own nation to plot such an attack has shocked many people and is certainly relevant to any discourse on the prevention of terrorism. Mallick deliberately interprets the distinction as being racist, as if between a white and non-white Canadian, when in fact it is nothing of the kind. But Mallick is not interested in the prevention of terrorism - no, we racist, conservative, white, Nazi Canadians - us Globe & Mail-ites, we deserve to be blown up, don't ya know.

What we have then, is a leading journalist in this country's public broadcaster who feels that we should not report any fact that might make us uncomfortable. We should suppress any truth that doesn't fit her worldview. No matter that leaders in the Muslim community are already acknowledging the common thread of radical Islam that runs through the 17 Toronto suspects. No matter that their actions were clearly motivated by religious faith, no matter how misguided. No truth here, this is the CBC.

No, says Mallick, we must not mention that the Toronto 17 were Muslims, even though they are. We must not mention that they were Canadian-born, even though they were. Anyone who does? She's a Nazi, says Mallick.

Funny how someone who professes to despize Nazis and similar regimes should make such great use of some of the Nazi's own tools - propaganda, hiding the truth, distorting facts and labelling anyone who disagrees with her with a nice. simple, hateful badge.

Unless, of course Mallick is just taking a name-calling pot-shot at the newspaper that fired her. But no self-respecting writer would ever do such a thing on the back of an issue as serious as either terrorism or racism... would she?