Saturday, January 26, 2008


Whenever I have a chance to sit down and watch the Wizard of Oz, my childhood is reawakened by its technicolor charm, a generally gentle nature (but occasionally dark and scary in its tone) and its clever, comedic and eternal wisdom.
However, when someone like Stephen Harper tries to tie his dog-n-pony show to it ala 'The Northern Star' -- even if it is to those who'd embrace carpetbagging as a friendly sport -- I get a little indignant.
It's a film for the children in all of us and has been venerably kept pristine by most political figures. But Harper, in a speech to his starchy supporters the other day, tried to induce some kind of kindred spirit by invoking a moment from MGM's masterpiece by saying: "These apologists remind me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the wizard says, 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

Harper was referring to those who record and report statistics on such incidents on crime, punishment, whoever may disagree with his overall agenda, which is that only one person and one person only should be deemed the truth-teller. Obviously he's not referring to a control freak who likes to hide his own fingerprints on anything when his plans go south.
Certainly, Harper isn't the first or last to try to train the public into distrusting empirical evidence, compiled often over a long period of studies. But Steve V at Far'n'wide does a bang-on job of dissecting Harper's mischief while succinctly wrapping up the so-called leader's aim to eliminate reason from the discussion.
Pay no attention to the stats, Harper urges. Believe in your fears and misconceptions. Let me tell you what is real and what is fiction.
Sounds very Stalin-esque. But thankfully, at his side is Stockwell Day, who believes men walked with dinosaurs. Fear is a powerful tool -- just look at how the Republicans have used it to legitimize dozens of foolish, even dastardly decisions over the past six years.
Coincidentally, one of the Vancouver Sun's finest columnists, Douglas Todd, wrote in today (Saturday) edition on just this thing -- and how the media, too, has failed to be a real inquisitive guardian of public interest at times.

If Harper had to pull a quote from the Wizard of Oz, I would have suggested something more in tune with his personality...

"[crying] You're right, I am a coward! I haven't any courage at all. I even scare myself. [sobs]"

"...(S)ome people without brains do an awful lot of talking... don't they?"

"You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you're confusing courage with wisdom."

"Put 'em up, put 'em up! Which one of you first? I can fight you both together if you want. I can fight you with one paw tied behind my back. I can fight you standing on one foot. I can fight you with my eyes closed."

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