ROBERT WRIGHT
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Crisis, What Crisis?

More history, less hysteria

His Mansbridgeness

When CBS's This Morning came a-courtin' in 1988, Peter Mansbridge said no thanks.  He was the un-Gretzky—a hero for staying in Canada.  On July 1, 2017, Canada's sesquicentennial, Mansbridge will retire as anchor of CBC's The National, adding a degree of pathos to an anniversary already beset by anger and confusion.  But before he goes, he will enjoy "a long goodbye," touring the country and allowing Canadian journalists and citizens alike a last opportunity to bask in his glory.  Many nice things will be said of our Peter this week, but he's heard them all before.  It will be the end of an aura.

Restoration

The Canadian Press reports that a statue of "baby Jesus" in Sudbury, Ontario, was decapitated by a "troubled teen" about a year ago.  Repairs were delayed because the first estimate for replacing "the head" came in at "an arm and a leg"—hardly a trade-off that would appeal to parish faithful.  Temporary repairs by a local artisan (shown on the left) were redolent of the cartoon character Lisa Simpson, so the permanent repair unveiled this week (at right) comes as a welcome Restoration.

Canadian Sniper

Polls taken in the 2000s showed not only that Canadians preferred peacekeeping to war-making but that they were confused about what their soldiers were actually doing in Afghanistan and elsewhere.  A national debate about Canada as a warrior nation ensued, but the ambiguous talk—"Canada’s soldiers in Iraq don’t do combat"—persisted.  Yesterday we learned that a Canadian sniper took out an IS insurgent at 3,540 metres, shattering the world record for distance-to-a-confirmed-kill.  There's no ambiguity about that.  Just ask NDP leader Tom Mulcair.  From London to Washington, Canada's steely-eyed snipers are the toast of our allies.

Thought Crime

We live in an age of intellectual obeisance.  After the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord, the CBC's flagship science program Quirks and Quarks ran a story featuring a burning-Earth graphic and a headline claiming that President Trump was ignoring "all of the science."  Everyone knows that this assertion is false.  We know it because dissenting scientists write books and blogs, and because their enemies maintain blacklists.  The meaning of the word all is immutable.  It cannot be made to signify some, or much, or even 97 per cent.  It forecloses on inquiry, banishes heresy, and insists upon proselytization.  We must call it what it is.  It is intellectual tyranny.

IdeasRobert Wright
Media Malpractice

Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel is no fan of Donald Trump, to say the least, which makes her recent critique of U.S. "media malpractice" all the more salient.  Our fixation on "palace intrigue and White House scandals has come at the expense of substantive policy coverage," she writes, citing press (and even Congressional) indifference to Trump's climate and health-care policies.  Vanden Heuvel has a dog in this fight, of course.  The Democrats need to get on with building a "bold, inclusive, populist agenda," says she.  But her broader point stands.  We can't spend four years with anti-Trump delirium cranked to 11.

Serve Chilled

Canadian newspaper publishers have banded together to ask Ottawa for a $350-million fund to prop up legacy media, and a majority on the Commons heritage committee has agreed that this is a great idea.  One argument in favour is that Canadian culture is already awash in subsidies.  Another is that "news aggregators" like Google are sucking down all the ad revenue.  Meanwhile over at Google, "50 expert NGOs" have been enlisted not only to fight terrorism online but to take "a tougher stance on videos that do not clearly violate our policies."  If you like the sound of bureaucrats and NGOs filtering your information flow, this all comes as excellent news.