The problem with headline writers

February 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

On the website of The Gazette, Montréal’s Anglophone newspaper, there is this headline: “Canada can decide its own future in Afghanistan: US.”  In other words, the United States of America, paragon of democracy, is actually allowing a foreign sovereign state to decide on where it will send its military.  Oh, thank you, great overlords! 

BUT, click on the link, read the story and it’s a rather different story being reported.  In actual reality, the Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen said something very different.  He said that he has not, and will not, ask Canada to extend its combat role in Afghanistan beyond the 2011 deadline agreed to by the governing Conservatives and some of the opposition parties last year.  That, said Adm. Mullen, is something for Canadians to decide, though he’s, not surprisingly, love to see Canada extend its mission.  But he will not, he repeats, formally ask Canada to do so.  In fact, Adm. Mullen seems to be aware of the political minefield the Afghan mission is in Canada and would like to stay far away from that.

So, what in the name of God is The Gazette up to?  No good, it would seem.  There is a very strong sentiment of anti-Americanism in Canada.  It’s a good way to score cheap points, politically, and also, it seems, in a newspaper.  It’s not as if this anti-Americanism isn’t entirely justified.  Former US Ambassador to Canada Paul Celucci did, at one point, tell the Canadian government to spend less money on healthcare and more money on the military.  Former US President Lyndon Johnson did shake former Canadian Prime Minister Leaster B. Pearson by the lapels for having an opinion on the Canada-US Auto Pact that didn’t jibe with Johnson’s.  There are other examples, but the point is less that than the fact that Canadians do have an historic right to be suspicious of American designs and goals.  

But, The Gazette is purposefully mis-leading its readers here.  And while I’m not usually a big fan of The Gazette at the best of times, this is just a cheap shot.  There is nothing in the story to connect to the headline.  Instead, the newspaper is going for the cheap, lowest common denominator.  And that is just wrong.

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