Friday, September 24, 2010

Anti-Intellectualism is as Much an Export as an Import

Lawrence Martin posted a column yesterday: Anti-intellectualism: Political venom moves North

In it he suggests that remnants of the Tea Party movement have headed to Canada, creating a bumper sticker mentality.

However, as I've posted before, much of this anti-government, anti-intellectual sentiment, was home-grown. We exported it.
Canadians became exporters of neo-con innovation in the 1990s. 'I would say Margaret Thatcher and Mr. [Preston] Manning are the two non-Americans we learned most from'', said U.S. Republican House Speaker, Newt Gingrich in 1995.

'I know him [Preston Manning] because I watched all of his commercials. We developed our platform from watching his campaign.' Like cowboy culture, Canadian neo-conservatism is a growth industry, spawning a whole generation of
Will James outlaws in hot pursuit of political power." (1)

Gingrich created an "us against them" campaign that has only gained momentum within the Republican movement.

And while the world saw hope when Obama was elected; that intelligence would replace the sheer stupidity of the Bush administration; with the help of Fox News and their spin-off Tea Party movement, they were able to paint the president as un-American ("just visiting"?), a communist and even a terrorist. And they took control of the political debate.

If the trend toward placing only the ignorant into government continues, what can this mean for a country with so much military might? Does anyone really want Sara Palin anywhere near the "red button"? Even if it's only metaphorical, the fact remains that she could start a nuclear war.

And just as the Religious Right infiltrated the political structure, the corporate funded Tea Party movement is doing the same thing. And many Americans are concerned about this, and rightfully so. In fact, many Republicans are now concerned about this.

Extremism Thou Name is Stephen Harper

One of the Tea Party candidates who will be vying for a senate seat is Sharron Angle, from Nevada. Angle is being described as an 'extremist' because of her views on a wide range of issues. However, I read through that list of 'extreme" views, and guess what? They represent the Reform Party platform, and could be espoused by most of Stephen Harper's caucus. In fact several of them, we have heard from Harper himself.

1. Angle: believes that the U.S. Department of Education should be eliminated ... She claims the Department of Education is "unconstitutional" and should not be involved in dictating educational standards.
Harper and the NCC [National Citizens Coalition] endorsed a private school tax credit proposed by Ontario's Progressive Conservative government in 2001 [Jim Flaherty*], arguing that it would 'save about $7,000 for each student who does not attend a union-run public school'. Education Minister Janet Ecker criticized this, saying that her government's intent was not to save money at the expense of public education. (2)
At a Reform Party Assembly
The Reformers gathered in Saskatoon saved perhaps the loudest cheers, whistles, and applause for [William] Gairdner's last shot: 'And my favourite proposal, by the way, is returning choice to education by privatizing every school in the country'. (3)
2. Angle: Angle believes in United States withdrawal from the United Nations, saying it is a bastion of liberal ideology and "the umpire on fraudulent science such as global warming."

Though Stephen Harper is working to get an undeserved seat on the United Nations Security Council, he has always opposed the body.

3. Angle: supports the Federal Marriage Amendment to ban same-sex marriage. She believes that single-income households are the best way to raise a family

We already know how Harper and his party feel about same-sex marriage and this quote sums up the party's beliefs: "We should try to keep our mothers in the home and that’s where the whole Reform platform hangs together." - Garry Breitkreuz

4. Angle: favors the privatization of Medicare.

So does Stephen Harper. Remember his quote, "It's high time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act"

5. Angle: has said that the Social Security system should be "transitioned out".

The Reform Party wanted to privatize both CPP and the Old Age Pension. Still do.

6. Angle: has stated that she opposes legalizing marijuana and has said that she feels the same about alcohol.

Not sure about alcohol but our new marijuana laws are about as Draconian as you can get.

7. Angle: quoted as saying: "What is a little bit disconcerting and concerning is the inability for sporting goods stores to keep ammunition in stock ...

Hello - NRA - Gun Culture.

8. Angle: proposed a bill that "would have required doctors to inform women seeking abortions about a controversial theory linking an increased risk of breast cancer with abortion."

Can you say Maurice Vellacott?
Three years ago, [Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott] helped to bring an American doctor and activist to Parliament Hill to tell Canadian women that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. It turned out that the doctor, Angela Lanfranchi, was speaking from a defined religious point of view that had little apparent basis in science.

And, at the time, the link between the procedure and the disease had been discounted by the National Cancer Institute in the United States, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (and their U.S. counterparts), as well as the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Breast Cancer Network.
So if Americans believe that Sharron Angle's views are extreme, but they are the same views held by our current government, can we expect to read a headline in the New York Times: Anti-intellectualism: Political venom moves South?

They may have the Tea Parties, but we brewed the tea.


*When Jim Flaherty was running against Ernie Eves for the Ontario Conservative leadership in 2002, an American freelance journalist wrote of Flaherty: His full-bodied, conservative platform of tax cuts, privatization, and school choice, first caught the attention of grassroots conservatives with his unexpected announcement in last year's budget of a $3,500 ($2,300 USD) per-child tax credit for parents who send their children to independent schools. The measure, according to Laura Swartley of the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation for School Choice, is the most generous education tax credit in North America. It alone has won Flaherty the support of social conservatives and minority religious groups. (4)


1. Slumming it at the Rodeo: The Cultural Roots of Canada's Right-Wing Revolution, Gordon Laird, 1998, Douglas & McIntyre, ISBN: 1-55054 627-9, Pref. xiv-xv

2. Stephen Harper's Biography

3. Preston Manning and the Reform Party, By Murray Dobbin Goodread Biographies/Formac Publishing 1992 ISBN: 0-88780-161-7, Pg. 165-166

4. Looking North: Election time in Canada. By David Curtin, March 18, 2002

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