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On Being A Traitor to My Country

Posted on 19 April 2010

Before I start, I need two extremely important disclaimers.

First, as always, the opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else.

Second, my criticisms here are not leveled at the entirety of the Citizen staff. Unfortunately, the views being expressed in their editorials are unsigned and therefore, rightly or wrongly, tend to reflect on the editorial board as a whole.

I tend not to get too political on this blog, at least not beyond the local governance level. There are a few reasons for this, primary among them being that we have a robust public sphere that I don’t feel is hurting too much from the lack of my own commentary.

But I do feel the need to respond to the editorial printed into today’s issue of the Prince George Citizen. One reason is that as the local daily, it may, to some extent, deem to speak for the citizenry of Prince George (look at what it’s called). And as a citizen, I am allowed to respond.

But my primary motivation for responding is that it is addressed to me, specifically. Yes, that’s right– today’s editorial takes aim at a wide host of targets, myself among them. Not only am I parasite, but as it turns out, I just might be a traitor to my country.

And what earns me this title in the eyes of the Citizen’s editorial board? I work for the CBC. Granted, I’m only there once a week, and my role is largely relegated to tracking down stories on souffle and new rules at the mall, but they seem to be painting in broad enough strokes that I’m implicated along with the rest of the organization. Here’s what they say: (full editorial:

“From self-serving politicians in the Liberal and NDP parties, and the left wing B.C. Civil Liberties Union backed by their friends in the CBC and Toronto Star, the campaign to discredit our brave men and woman fighting in Afghanistan continues unabated…

“Not only do our soldiers have to deal with the post-traumatic stress of the horrors of war and seeing their brothers maimed and killed but now they have to contend with parasites back home seeking to cast doubt about their competency and their honour. Shame…

Thank God the B.C. Civil Liberties Union wasn’t around during the Second World War, filing complaints against out troops for violating the rights of Nazi storm troopers?

War is hell and it is certainly no place for politicians looking for an excuse to discredit their opponents.

By asking our soldiers to risk life and limb on our behalf, in that quagmire where so many have perished, we owe them the benefit of our full and unequivocal support.

The time for second guessing and the whining of intellectual Quislings can wait until after 2011, when Canada has vacated Afghanistan for good.

In the meantime, those pushing for public inquiries and media exposes should be viewed for what they are – traitors.

Traitors to those in the midst of battle and traitors to the memory of the 142 Canadians who have paid the ultimate price. “

I’m not going to get into a debate about the efforts in Afghanistan, the detainee question, or any of the other politics. What I am going to get into is the implication that anyone who seeks to question the military and/or government is a traitor, akin to a Nazi collaborator.

Before we proceed, let me make it clear: I have never been involved in reporting or covering anything remotely related to the war in Afghanistan in a professional capacity. Lest someone fact check me, I will go ahead and say that I did write on it a few times as a volunteer at my university newspaper. If you search “andrew kurjata”+afghanistan on Google, the top hit is an editorial I wrote criticizing Dr. Michael Byers for employing a logical fallacy in his argument that Canada should no longer be involved in Afghanistan. So when it comes to criticizing faulty arguments about Afghanistan, I am an equal-opportunity offender.

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

The editorial implies that all those who seek to criticize or question the methods of those in power should be viewed as traitors. I can’t believe I actually have to make such an elementary point to a someone who purports to be a professional journalist, but isn’t the ability to criticize and question those in power the exact point of democracy? And isn’t that exactly what our military is meant to defend and uphold?

What if the BC Civil Liberties Union had been around during World War II? the Citizen asks. Well, what if it had? Better yet, what if it had been around on the German side? And actually had power? And the German citizenry had the power to find out exactly what their government and military were doing, and then had the power and tenacity to question it, and maybe open some inquiries? No, wait, that would make them turncoats and parasites, at least in the Citizen’s eyes. Better that we blindly follow our leaders, then. Lord knows that never has negative consequences.

Again, I’m not implying that Canada’s governing parties are akin to Hitler’s upper echelons, nor am I seeking to draw parallels between the Canadian military and the Nazis. But I would ask the mysterious writer of Citizen editorials that the next time they decide to start shouting out “traitor” and “parasite” to anyone who seeks to take advantage of the freedoms afforded to us by this country (and defended by our military), that they take a moment and think about the sorts of people who have used these tactics in the past.

Filed under: Best Of, journalism

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