Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a response to the National Post column: "Layton’s death turns into a thoroughly public spectacle"

Christie Blatchford, a pro-war, pro-police, conservative propagandist writing under cover of popular journalism and op-ed commentary at the National Post, has published a particularly vapid and sensationalized attack on progressive values and human connectivity.

Under the lock 'n load banner of cutting edge tough talk about maudlin, if not subversive, emotional displays and the scam opportunism of a life devoted to public service, Blatchford characterized the death of Jack Layton as "a thoroughly public spectacle." The naive and indecorous Canadian public is evidently too soft for the job of repressing their troublesome and sentimental concern for one another, neither can it be trusted to discriminate between fantasy, reality and the ideas worth having that Blatchford proposes to be her particular expertise.

Written just 10 hours after his passing on Monday, the columnist was evidently mobilized by the prospect of a groundswell of national mourning and bittersweet admiration as the news of Layton's untimely death spread in units of shock and disbelief. Decrying Layton as a blatant political opportunist, Blatchford is guilty of her own accusations. Using her position as mouthpiece for backwater conservative values dressed up in practical urbanity to mislead and confuse the issues, this carefully crafted effort to manipulate political and private sentiment along knee-jerk, bipartisan lines falls flat in the shallows.

We begin with the tacit suggestion that Layton is somehow suspect because he pursued a professional life with vigor and commitment, happily living "his entire adult life in the public eye and who was a 24/7 politician who was always on." So what? Would you say the same of the many other professions that could easily be characterized this way?

The columnist wants to quibble with an NDP MP's comment that Layton, "gave his life for his country." For promulgators of conservative culture, only war and violence have stock in the sacrifice queue. To suggest that Layton's lifelong "24/7" commitment to political engagement and governance was something of a willing sacrifice for his country would be to besmirch the glorification of those who follow orders, don uniforms, abandon their critical rigor and ultimately loose their lives servicing the violent campaigns of hatred and fear that Blatchford and her ilk find so satisfying and virtuous.

That Layton worked well in public formats and had a natural, likeable ease on camera or on foot is cause for Blatchford to invite subtextual speculation as to his character and motives. Anyone who's good at getting under your skin, who works resolutely, giving their all to the path they choose is someone who's not quite playing the game of a sheeple society and so is dangerous. People with polish or style or who seem well-prepared invite resentment from those who really would rather dial it in. Layton smiled too much, persisted too long, gave consistently good soundbyte, and struck a handsome figure. Worst of all, he showed his care and concern for society and its advancement on his sleeve. The guilelessness and charm of these qualities, especially Layton's indefatigable aspect, made reactionaries uncomfortable. You're not supposed to try too hard or care too much about anything, unless its slandering 'multi-culti' socialism, inciting ethnic bigotry and hatreds, curtailing freedom, suppressing ideological evolution, or consolidating wealth and power for selfish purpose at grave cost to the planet and our persons. Casting himself as he did in tireless opposition to these nightmare refrains are what truly made Layton "singular."

The Blatchford mockery of the gravitas that swept the country and a good majority of its working media, who routinely had contact with Layton over the years, is posturing machismo at its worst. Ridiculing the response of grief, shock, and sadness has only one aim, to ensure that people on the fence who are beginning to have questions about our unsustainable ways of life and the fatuous policies of our governments are not lured into the tide of affect sweeping the nation, not galvanized by Layton's example into new involvements in their communities and families.

That PM Harper delivered a zero-charisma, out of touch and meaningless statement, struggling to keep the corners of his mouth from turning up into a nervous grin as he contemplated the wide berth he believes fate has just handed him, is somehow morphed into the height of tact. That his handlers had the ingenious idea to make sure that the Layton announcement was not the sole order of business for that particular scrum, sidebaring it with gratuitous references to the death of a six year old girl in a blatant attempt to subordinate and sweep aside the surge of sorrow and admiration for Layton, is lauded as the height of good taste, leadership and reasonableness.

But its Blatchford's attack on Layton's dying missive to Canadians that's so galling. The fact that two days before death Layton's thoughts were on his legacy and the future of his life's work as he lay preparing for singularity is offered into evidence as remarkable for its "canny" relentlessness, "a gimlet eye on all the campaigns to come." In truth, it was a high point of achievement and a gesture of incomparable grace under pressure. It demonstrates that the seat of his action in life was genuine concern for others, seeing himself as but one pearl on a chain of actions that can lead to important future developments. To make it seem that something sinister and trite was afoot that Layton took some time as things got grave to enlist the help of a couple people to put his thoughts together for the sake of his own closure and peace as much as ours is truly unconscionable.

I, for one, am extremely gratified that Layton didn't pull his punch about the disgrace of our fallen reputation in the world at the hands of the dullard and fascist "Government of Stephen Harper." The charge of 'vainglorious' for the remark, "All my life I have worked to make things better," is the bitter backwash of the rationalist, materialist worldview that delights to drown your dreams of truth, goodness and beauty in vitriol.

Blatchford chastises Canadians for being so fey as to shed a tear, or collect on the streets and outside constituency offices in order to memorialize the man who gave them hope.

As Joshua Errett writes in NOW Magazine, "When a police officer dies, as Blatchford wrote in the Globe on January 13, a motorcade of police cars lining the highway is an acceptable tribute. When a police officer dies, a public outpouring of grief is beyond criticism. The same applies in military deaths. It would appear her simplistic rules evaporate when a uniform is involved. (Or, more like it, when the politics align.)"

Layton is allowed to come into a mere hint of his technicolour courage only once and its in the context of his personal journey with cancer. Even then, Blatchford snipes that everyone battles bravely with cancer, not just Layton. For a 'journalist' who prides herself on being politically incorrect, its a sign of her limited experience with anything other than her own dogma that she fails to realize her own error. Not everyone battles bravely with cancer. Most, locked into the high-tox low-yield of conventional medicine are so weakened and fearful, they don't handle it well at all, and that's the inconvenient truth. Layton's forward-looking optimism was remarkable and noteworthy and sets an almost impossible standard for most people to live up to. The fact he stayed true to his choice to live in joy, contentment, harmony and love even as the disease escalated was the single greatest gift by example he might have given us. That Blatchford claims this as mere strategy and cleverness, that it was not spirit or quality of soul, but cagey artifice that led Layton to raise his cane to the level of symbolic asset, is repellent.

Christie Blatchford and broadsheet culture are quite possibly the most odious promulgators of philistine brainwashing ever gifted the enemies of peace, freedom, nurture, or culture in Canada. The military-corporate complex who's interests they represent want to posit everything in terms of power dynamics and fear. Thru that lens, anything which touches the heart or extolls immanent values like love, community, or nurture are to be derided as inferior, desperate as they are to posture like tough guys, smirking in the face of so-considered feminine weaknesses like emotional displays or concern for the welfare of others and the world.

The fascist stacked deck now at play intends to make unilateral shifts in this perceived vacuum of power. Some are already predicting the progressive movement will find itself in the wilderness for many years. The real political opportunists want to ensure that there's as little tolerance as possible for any display of passion lest it sweep the country, fueled by the ideas Layton led with and the concern we share with him for the dreams of justice and peace that set every great struggle in motion.

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