Saturday, February 19, 2005

This is why Canada is so great

This is a bit old (a few weeks). I don't care. It's too good not to post.

Back on January 26th, CBC's news show The Fifth Estate (which I have not seen, but my SO says is excellent) broadcast a one-hour special on the hijacking of the American media by conservative bullies. As would be necessary for any show on this subject, Ann Coulter was interviewed.

As Laura (from Is There a Blogger in the House) pointed out: "And the smake, it is laid down upon thee, and in all thy obnoxious glory, I say to you: HA!"

Coulter: "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?"

McKeown interrupts: "Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter: "I don't think that's right."

McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."

Coulter (looking desperate): "Indochina?"

McKeown: "Uh no. Canada ...second World War of course. Korea. Yes. Vietnam No."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, took a pass on Vietnam."

Coulter: "I think you're wrong."

McKeown: "No, Australia was there, not Canada."

Coulter: "I think Canada sent troops."

McKeown: "No."

Coulter: "Well. I'll get back to you on that."

McKeown tags out in script:

"Coulter never got back to us -- but for the record, like Iraq, Canada sent no troops to Vietnam."

via This is Rumor Control


Anonymous said...


Shows like the Fifth Estate are prone to displays of a smugness toward Americans in general, and social conservatives in particular. There's definitely an anti-American flavor to the CBC coverage of the American political and social issues.

I think Coulter got it partly right which is more than most American commentators could probably accomplish when it comes to Canadian military history. The Canadian government sometimes encouraged involvement and by 1972 had passed laws to obstruct the entry of draft dodgers even while the Trudeau government openly criticized the US military presence in South Vietnam.

Before you read any further, predict how many Canadians volunteered to serve in Indochina and how many served in the Vietnam War; and how many never came back. Also, without checking sources, pretend that a 5th Estate reporter has tape rolling and asks you what was the extent of Canadian involvement in Vietnam during the period in question.

Canada's Secret War: Vietnam

Vietnam may have been America's war but Canada was heavily involved - for and against. Canada harboured American draft dodgers and helped supervise ceasefires. But at the same time, about 30,000 Canadians volunteered to fight in southeast Asia. And there was Canada's involvement in secret missions, weapons testing and arms production. CBC Archives looks at Canada's role in the Vietnam War.

Canadians Killed in the Vietnam War

Canadian Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Canadian Military Heritage Project

Canada was not directly involved in this war but it did have a role. Canada provided intelligence info to the USA, allowed companies in Canada to supply weapons used in the war, contributed money to South Vietnam, and supported, for a short time, American air attacks on North Vietnam.

The estimate of Canadians who fought with American forces in the Vietnam War is 10,000.


About 20,000 American draft dodgers migrated to Canada.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that a general in the Canadian military is currently the 2nd-ranking officer heading the Coalition forces in Iraq? Or that a dozen or two servicemembers are serving in the Canadian military alongside Coaliton forces in Iraq -- on the same missions?

It would be understandable, even forgivable, if your instincts would prompt you to express doubt and perhaps almost certainty that this could not be possible today. You might even pause a moment and say that you'd have to check and get back on that.


Iraq commander is Canadian, eh?

Peter Worthington
Toronto Sun
January 5, 2005

While it's not exactly a secret, not many Canadians know that the second top-ranking soldier fighting "insurgents" in Iraq is a general in the Canadian army.

Maj. Gen. Walter Natynczyk, once Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, is now deputy commander of the U.S. Army's III Corps in Iraq.


Until ordered to Iraq, III Corps was based at Fort Hood, Texas -- one of the largest army bases in the world. It was responsible for North American defence, if such was needed, and traditionally a Canadian general has been deputy commander, along with a U.S. general as deputy commander.

A high command role in Iraq is an odd role for a Canadian general -- not because he's ill-trained or unqualified, but because his country, Canada, has opposed U.S. policy in Iraq. And that's putting it mildly.

In fact, there may be 20 or 30 Canadian soldiers involved in the Iraq war and its vicious aftermath -- soldiers attached to British or American units who've stayed with these units. At least one officer has been wounded. A Canadian general as deputy commander of a legendary body like III Corps is also a considerable honour.


Today, III Corps is officially a multinational corps, comprising the military coalition trying to bring peace and order to Iraq, and working with the new Iraqi military and police. Still, it's unusual that the Americans would trust a foreign national with the responsibility of deputy commander.


Looks like Coulter had a broader point that was obscured by a change in the subject of her interview.

Why did this male interviewer attempt to discredit an outspoken woman in this way? It was not merely a Canadian vs American thing -- or even a liberal vs conservative thing.

Anonymous said...

So is "anonymous" above saying that American pundits appearing on The Fifth Estate don't get challenged regarding confusion of opinions and facts-- unless they're American WOMAN pundits ? Or is "anonymous" above suggesting that only American CONSERVATIVE WOMAN pundits get to talk out their asses and be hailed as "outspoken" by other conservatives ?

I'm confused, but perhaps that's because I've never seen the show. Maybe someone else can help out here... --alsis38.5

Anonymous said...

Why is the reflex to assume the male reporter was credible on this topic but the female pundit was not?

The interviewer was wrong to the extent that Canadians did participate in significant numbers in South Vietnam and the Candian military is highly represented in Iraq. But his mocking voiceover clearly omitted these details and context.

Australia made a similar contribution in South Vietnam, but they did so under their own flag. As they do in Iraq today. This is a good comparison that was inadvertently introduced by the CBC interviewer, but this was also left unexplored.

It is extraordinary that Canadians contributed to the South Vietnam war in the way they did. But it is not unprecedented since thousands of Americans joined the Canadian forces to fight in WWII prior to the Japanese attack on the USA. These veterans count. Another detail that would have supported Coulter's opinion.

The two countries share military histories that transcend governmental policies. No other example comes to mind of two countries being so thoroughly interconnected in modern times. This is important context that would have supported Coulter's understanding of both Vietnam and Iraq. At the very least it would have made explicit the classic ambivalence of Canadians on the use of military force abroad and their very close ties with their American neighbors. But that would have placed Coulter's strong opinions in a better light not conducive to easy ridicule.

So we have an outspoken and aggressive female opinion-maker who was mocked by a self-assured and self-serving male interviewer. The man's certainty depended on a certain parsing of the historical record but that depended on disregarding important details and context. He depicted the woman as ill-informed and he did so by with-holding relevant informtion from his audience. He had power of position and used it unsparingly.

If we defend him by assuming that he would have been better informed as a Canadian, then, his omission would just become that much more eregious. The woman in this scenario did display bravado and that was the man's target, not her substantive opinion. He hid behind civility to attack her bold attitude and he seems to have gotten away with it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant egregious -- flagrant.

bean said...

Canada did not send troops to Viet Nam. No matter what else happened, it is blatantly wrong to say that Canada, as a nation, sent troops to Viet Nam. Coulter was even given numerous opportunities to "correct" what she said. She didn't. And couldn't. She was wrong. The host was right.

And, FTR, the attempts to show that Coulter was somehow right are ridiculous enough. To make them worse by then saying she was wrong about Canada not sending troops to Iraq is just fucking hilarious. Even in your lame-ass attempts to vindicate her, you end up showing how she's wrong. Fucking hilarious!!!!

Anonymous said...

The real issue here has become the extent to which you'd go to diss a strong female voice and to lend moral support for a male interviewer who was wrong about Vietnam and wrong about Iraq. I'll answer your comment at length because it appears your view is based on a genuine lack of knowledge and may not be based solely on a lack of esteem for Coulter.

To maintain support for the CBC interviewer's omissions, you'd disregard those tens of thousands of Canadian veterans who served in the US forces in that period, the thousands who did serve in Vietnam itself, and those many who were wounded or killed in action. You'd also disregard the granite replica of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall that was erected on Canadian soil.

Also, you'd miss the point that while the US Military increasingly depended on conscription, the Canadian forces at that time were comprised entirely of volunteers. While the Canadian government reduced the size of its military, Canadians volunteered for the escalating fight in Vietnam. They became US Marines at a rate that was 3 times that of Americans and, thus, suffered disproportionate casualties. By all accounts, for a country of about 22 million, theirs was an extraordinary contribution -- both in means and in volume and in outcome. It is hard to think of another country that made anything near the contribution under the US flag in Vietnam. It ought not to be so easy to disregard.

You'd also turn a blind eye to the interconnection of the Canadian and American populations. Even when their home government maintained the appearance of neutrality, Americans volunteered to fight in the Canadian military during previous wars, particularly WWII, just as Canadians fought in Vietnam in the American military. Discounting this historical interconnection means pretending that the appearance of neutrality meant that the populations -- and the governments -- did not take sides in actuality.

That is not nearly as hilarious as you seem to think it is.

You also seem to hang your hat on the technicality that the government of Canada did not send Canadian units. However, on that technical note, more than 1800 ICCS medals were awarded to members of the Canadian forces who served in Indochina -- primarily Vietnam - from 1954 to 1973. Technically, yes, Canada did send troops in Canadian uniform.

And it is undoubtedly true that the second ranking officer leading the Coalition forces in Iraq today is a distinguished general in the Canadian military. And that dozens of Canadian service members, in Canadian uniform, have served under the flag of the US and other Coaltion nations during the current war in Iraq. And that hundreds of Canadian military personnel will train Iraqi security forces. Meantime, Canadian volunteers for the US military also answered the fight against terrorism.

The interviewer was wrong on the details and on the overall context. He interrupted a brash female voice (and an openly polemic commentator) and mocked her for appearing to be confused about the classic Canadian ambvilence toward the use of military power and to their strong ties with their American neighbours. To what end?

It is not like that ambivalence has not confused the typical Canadian -- or even CBC interviewer on television who poses as being better informed. The ambivalence is a distinguishing feature of Canadian-American militlary history. It is not unusual that this migh confuse some folks on the American side of the border -- including both the anti-war crowd and the pro-war crowd. The CBC missed an opportunity to inform rather than pose.

But that's just background for something I find more interesting in this TV moment.

Before she was interrupted, Coulter was attempting to describe (admittedly from her biased viewpoint) her opinion about the comparison of the threat of communism during the Vietnam war and the threat of islamofacism during the current war. A reasonable interviewer might have pursued that line of thought first before attempting to play gotcha. But his programme was really about gotcha rather than civil discourse. How else to explain his omissions?

Given the way this played out in the programme and also in various discussions that followed (here for instance), do you truly think that there's nothing significant about Coulter being a woman and the interviewer presenting as the calm and superficially credible man?

Robbie said...

"But his programme was really about gotcha rather than civil discourse" (Anonymous above)

That's an excellent description. The show was ironic in that way - it was an example of the partisan discourse that it was reporting on.

I disagree that this is about male-female bias though.

Anonymous said...

To maintain support for the CBC interviewer's omissions, you'd disregard those tens of thousands of Canadian veterans who served in the US forces in that period . . .Yes. Those Candadians that served did so in the US Forces - not the Canadian forces.

They became US Marines at a rate that was 3 times that of AmericansSee, they were Canadians that were also US Marines.

Coulter brought it up in the first place, and she was wrong. She started the game of "gotcha", and she got shown up. Deal with it.

-other anonymous

Anonymous said...

Deal with it? Ann Coulter was more right than wrong.

There's little to say about the show's airing of Al Franken's tearful reaction to criticism, but there's gleeful talk of "clobbering" Ann Coulter for being passionate about partisan politics.

Anonymous said...

Not to beat this into the ground, but Ann cannot be "more right than wrong".
Her statement was not that "some Canadians participated in the Vietnam War". This was an explicit attempt to play "gotcha" within the context of official Canadian Military policy.
She said: Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?Do you see that? She wants to imply that the Canadian Government somehow sanctioned Vietnam because, by golly, they[the government] sent troops then, and further, that this would make their current stance on not sending troops to Iraq suspect.
However, the Canadian Military did not participate in Vietnam, or Iraq for that matter.
Just because Canadian citizens served there in a military capacity, mostly by joining the American armed services, does not make Canada responsible. To imply that would be to imply that America has sent "troops" to act as terrorists in foreign lands because John Walker Lindh, a terrorist, is an American. This position would be nonsense!

- other anonymous

Anonymous said...

You appear to be trying to rationalize the very thing that the CBC interviewer wanted you to feel. Bought it hook, line, and sinker. The case is not as black and white as you may wish it to be.

The Canadian government did side with the USA prior to the wind-up of the fighting in Vietnam -- especially at the outset. The Canadian population did send tens of thousands of volunteers (i.e. troops) during the conflict. The Canadian government did send Canadian units as the almost 2,000 medals show. Veterans of that period have been honored with a replica of the US monument in Washington. This all tilts toward Coulter's point.

You may have construed her correctly, but we didn't get a chance to learn that because the interviewer interrupted her.

The CBC interviewer could have done his job. He could have asked her if she meant the volunteers or the special units that the Canadian governt sent. Although he mentioned Australia, he did not compare that society's contributions to the Vietnam War with the similar contributions of Canada. He could have asked if she thought Korea would have been a more clear example in support of her point. Perhaps the differences between Korea and Vietnam were worth exploring in light of the differences between Afghanistan and Iraq. Nope, he just played a game and went fishing for the very sort of reaction you seem to have felt.

Why has he not been criticized for his omission of the fact that a few dozen members of the Canadian military have served alongside the Coalition forces in the Iraq war? His voiceover would not have been nearly as enticing if he had disclosed that Coulter's remarks were made in light of the fact that a Canadian general is a leader of Coalition forces in Iraq today. Canadians seek a lot of shades of grey; and that both underscored Coulter's point and colored the theme of the program -- which, afterall, was for a Canadian audience.

In other words, this male interviewer pretended he knew better but demonstrated he was just being manipulative of his audience.

The tendency here seems to be, give the guy a break and parse history his way; but dump on the woman he dissed because she is passionate and forceful. Meanwhile Franken gets away with tears and lip-biting.

Anonymous said...

Why not criticize the manner and the substance of the assertions of the CBC's reporter / interviewer?

McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."

False. Canadian government twice sent troops in special units to Vietnam during the conflict; about 1,800 medals were awarded for that service. Canada also freed-up volunteers in its own military who then joined the US Military and the armed forces of allied countries.

McKeown: "No. Canada took a pass on Vietnam."

False: Tens of thousands of Canadians volunteered for service in the US and allied militaries during the Vietnam War. Thousands served in Vietnam itself. The Canadian government directly supported South Vietnam and the US war effort. The Pentagon Papers revealed that Prime Minister Pearson gave the thumbs-up for the bombing of North Vietnam six months before it began.

McKeown: "[F]or the record, like Iraq, Canada sent no troops to Vietnam."

False: The Canadian Defence Department has acknowledged that, "Yes indeed, we do have personnel that are performing roles with U.S. units that are involved in the war on Iraq right now."

Also: The New Democratic Party called for the Prime Minister to pull out the Canadian troops. The Alliance Party (now part of the Conservative Party) demanded that the Government support the Canadians in Canadian uniform who are in the Iraq war.

Also: The independant Polaris Institute in Ottawa said that because the facts on the ground contradict the Government's foreign policy - "Policy incoherence would be an understatement."

McKeown acted as if he were entitled to misrepresent the truth as long as it helped him to "clobber" a woman who had a better grasp of the facts and the context of the subject being discussed.

Anonymous said...

The tendency here seems to be, give the guy a break and parse history his way; but dump on the woman he dissed because she is passionate and forceful. Meanwhile Franken gets away with tears and lip-biting.I'm still waiting for someone in the know who might be able to say whether FOX he-pundits (a la' Savage) get on this particular show and also receive scrutiny for their routine disregard for facts. Is that what the Franken comment was about ? Hell, I don't like Franken or most of the rest of the Air America crowd, but why "tears and lip-biting" would be any worse than acting bordeline psychotic (as Coulter, O'Reilly, et al routinely are) is beyond me. "Anonymous Coulter fan" is on one hand claiming that sexism, not Coulter's own squirrelly little brain, is to blame for her treatment on the show. "Anonymous Coulter fan" believes that Ann is being persecuted for daring to take on the masculine perogatives of being "forceful" and what not. And yet, "Anonymous Coulter fan" does not aparently wish anyone to take Franken seriously if he takes on the presumably *feminine* perogative of being weepy in front of the camera.

Nothing like getting to have your cake and eat it, too... --alsis38.5

Anonymous said...

Actually, Franken's tearful nonsenses was his dramatic response to criticism. It was not womanly, it was infantile. As in "wah-wah-wah".

Not even good polemics. But the interviewer took that performance at face value. Even as he was wrong on the facts and background that he used to diss Coulter. So he tried to help Franken hide behind the claim that Coulter was uncivil in the political discourse and wah-wah-wah Franken was victimized by her.

I'm a fan of outspoken and passionate persons. Women standout in the crowd of male voices in the newsmedia. Coulter is abrasive but she is also very sharp on the facts. Unlike the interviewer in this case.

Anonymous said...

"...She is very sharp on the facts..."

[snort.] Sorry I wasted my time taking you seriously, Anonymous Coulter Fan. Coulter has a long-documented history of frothing and gleefully ignoring any facts that get in the way of her hate screeds. Furthermore, a woman who routinely uses such charming phrases as "pie wagons" to describe women of other political stripes whom she does not like (redundant, I know) is no friend of feminism.

If Coulter is "sharp" at anything but promoting Ann Coulter to a cowardly faux-balanced media and a bunch of starstruck buffoons who fancy themselves knights on steeds because they try to protect this "stand-out" woman against any criticism of her drivel-- then I'm Koko Taylor.

I wonder how many of these gallant defenders would give a damn about defending Coulter if she weighed two hundred pounds, sported a buzz cut, and wore long tweed skirts on the air. Oh, wait, if she looked like that, she wouldn't be on the air, would she ? [rolleyes]

Not all those who criticize Coulter are to her political Left, BTW. The CoulterWatch site is run by a conservative, for instance.

P.S.-- Still waiting to hear if the hosts of the TV show routinely have Rightwing Fox he-pundits on their show whom they routinely give a pass on their belligerant defenses of outright falsehoods. --alsis38.5

Another Anon. said...

The CBC guy flubbed multiple points. However, both he and Ann Coulter were mistaken about Canada and the Iraq war. That made the CBC guy look stoopid for trying to best Coulter on the wrong point.

But this incompetent guy supposedly clobbered her?

That's not to be taken any more seriously than alsis38.5's talk of frothing and hate screeds or the stereotpyical buzz cut and such.

A female is now considered fair game for a hit piece by an ill-informed interviewer so long as she is not "a friend of feminism"? She has proven to be sharper on the facts than most of her over-heated critics.


Anonymous said...

IOW, you don't want to answer my question of whether or not blowhard male conservative pundits on the show get the same treatment Coulter does. Got it. Feminists should just take your word for it that Coulter was put upon by the host because she's just such a dang cool standup female.

I guess you won't bother to read Coulter Watch and take dutiful note that even other conservatives are often dismayed at Coulter's extremely shaky grasp of facts and her penchant for needlessly nasty screeds against her ideological opponents.

Whatever. :/ Nice job of missing my other points, too. Really. I give it four-and-a-half stars. --alsis38.5

Another Anon said...

Why change the subject? This is not about your rating someone else's comments.

Without watching the interview you seem very confident that you have something to say about that interview.

Sure, you have talked of Coulter's physical appearance. And you have reflexively sided with the CBC interviewer who made the misleading interuptions. He edited a 3 hour interview about broader subjects and attempted to trip Coulter on the nuances of Canada's confusing foreign policy. But her overall point was that the policy was incoherent. The interviewer changed the subject (like you have done) and made his own significant errors of omission and assertion.

But Coulter has blonde hair and long legs and she makes it her business to express her factbased opinions. Skip the facts and the opinion that she voiced in this interview. Skip watching the show. Jump to predetermined conclusions.

Fox News will be competing against the Fifth Estate in the Canadian market very soon. The interviewer did not disclose this conflict of interest.

alsis38.5 said...

Oh, horseshit, "anon." All I'm doing is expanding on the subject, not changing it. You yourself brought up the notion that Coulter was being picked on because the host is male and she's a "strong" female. Given the chance to back up your assertion, you'd rather evade my challenge, because you just don't feel like addressing it. Fine, be a chickenshit. Not my problem.

We don't get Canadian TV in my neck of the woods, so it's unlikely I will ever see the show. However, I have never been a fan of Coulter's, and never will be. Why do I need to see the show when the excerpt upon which the thread is based was here for all to read ? How much evidence do I need before I am, in your eyes, entitled to express an opinion ? If I see and smell dog poop on the street, I generally trust my instincts enough to not bother stepping in it just to make sure that my senses are telling me the truth. Same applies in this case.

Others have adressed the attempts to prove that Coulter's original statement was correct. It's nothing more than spinning and pathetic attempts to make a psychotic, self-centered bully look like a deep thinker being wrongfully persecuted for her gender by evil, bad men. Have you made such an assertion on any non-feminist blogs covering this little episode ? Or do you just like to guilt-monger feminists ?

"Conflict of interest" ? So now the host has to disclose that he might be on a show that competes with FOX in the U.S. at sometime in the future ? What does that have to do with the price of socks in Belgium ? I thought Righties loooooved competition and open markets; That they wouldn't under any circumstances confuse such competition with a "conflict of interest." Last I heard, the latter term had to do with an attorney (for instance) excusing himself or herself from a case in which they had a previous relationship with a current client;Either the attorney's duty to engage in adversarial relations with or to fairly represent that client would be damaged by the disclosed prior relationship.

But Coulter was not invited onto the show to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" with the host. I also gather that they hadn't been previously working together for the same organization. So that's either an interesting slippage of terminology on your part --revealing your belief that "stongwoman" Coulter had every right to expect coddling and not challenges to her nonsensical assertions-- or a deliberate straw man . Either way, it doesn't score you or your "strongwoman" idol any points, "anon."

Another Anon said...

alsis38.5, to paraphrase your last remarks: whah-whah-whah.

Great opinion you voiced there.

You could view the show by going to the CBC's website. It might change your pre-opinion. Or maybe not. You have already declared that your horsehit doesn't stink. Or was that doshit you left behind you?

And it is too bad that someone who thinks she can speak for feminists can't see the blatant sexism in the attack on Coulter. But, you didn't actually bother to watch the very thing about which you have so much opinion to blather about.

The conflict of interest is that the CBC now competes with Fox in Canada. This show was a pre-emptive strike. It was not all about Coutler. This interviewer was very accomodating to the tearful Liberal guy. No kidding. Watch the segment.

No slippage on my part. Not even a hint that the interviewer had worked with Coulter. They did a 3 hour interview on video. The guy edited it down to the 30-second clip. And he showed no sign that he comprehended the Canadian foreign policy on Iraq, let alone the basic Canadian history in Vietnam. He looked like he was out of his league.

Too bad, because in years gone past he was not a bad reporter. Must be nervous about Fox. If there is anyone who really dislikes competition, it's CBC longtimers.

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