Rachel Marsden. I’d love to know how that name first got mentioned for a job with the National Post. Was it a simple case of forgetfulness? I can see the paper’s editorial board now, sitting around and thinking about hiring a new columnist, sifting through resumes of right wingers (and a few centre-rightists they can pass off as token lefties), and then Marsden’s comes to the top of the pile.
“Who’s this? Pundit, Republican, right wing think tank member, radio show... she’ll be great. Why’s the name familiar, though? Something to do with swimming?”
Maybe they actually forgot. About the swim coach she accused of raping her at SFU. And the other SFU professor who said she harassed him. About the radio host she was charged with harassing. About her stint as an employee of Gurmant Grewal.
Or maybe they were counting on this kind of reaction, to get people on the left screaming mad, thus drawing more publicity.
But let’s forget all that. The late 1990s and, well, early 2000s are a long way away, this is 2005, kids! Live in the now! Who cares what Rachel did when she was young and posing for Republican Babe calendar photos. What’s she been up to lately? And can she write?
Well, lately she’s apparently been on a number of right wing US talk shows, which I don’t see as Fox News is still stewing away south of the border only.
As for the writing... well, I’ve seen better, but I’ll be charitable about her style.
She tends to string together two or three descriptive elements in every sentence, using colloquialisms in an attempt to achieve a breezy, folksy writing style. It doesn’t quite work, but I’ll admit that if she was on my side, I’d probably like it.
On the other hand, she doesn’t seem to be able to hold a coherent argument together. Structurally, her columns are a mess.
Her “The World According to Linda McQuaig” column, published June 16, is all over the place. She starts by attacking the Toronto Star (“Canada’s Pravda,” according to Marsden) over its coverage of the Supreme Court ruling on health care in Quebec. Ho hum, typical right wing diatribe. She takes a few shots at Linda McQuaig, at Dr. Henry Morgenthaler, trots out the old “class war” claims, and tosses out some more positive comments about private health care. She veers into an attack on some left-wingers for calling for the imposition of the Notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to block the Supreme Court ruling. She could have taken this theme and run with it - there’s a good point to be made here about both right and left wingers trying to take cover under Notwithstanding for their pet causes - but then she goes right off the rails.
Here’s the relevant section of her column:
True humanitarianism always takes a back seat to leftist ideology. Human rights abuses by dictators like Fidel Castro in Cuba and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe get pushed aside by left-leaning groups like Amnesty International in favour of the greater cause of telling off the United States for the umpteen millionth time. That’s because on the international stage, America occupies roughly the same demonized spot that "rich" people do here at home.
In conjunction with the release of its annual report last month, Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director, Dr. William F. Schulz, issued a statement calling on foreign governments that are party to the Geneva Convention to arrest and prosecute Bush administration officials—including the U.S. President himself, former CIA director George Tenet, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld—or to extradite them to a country that will prosecute them for the “torture” of suspected jihadists at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
No doubt he’ll take this week’s entire underwhelming Time Magazine revelations of using Christina Aguilera music to torture detainees as further proof of U.S. cruelty—rather than praising them for not unleashing any Kathy Lee Gifford CDs.
In its efforts to spread democracy and stop serious human rights abuses around the world, America is treated by the left like an A-plus student who gets grounded for coming home with a B while the all the lefty dictator D students are allowed to scribble all over the walls, eat the crayons, and are given gold stars just for spelling their names right.
Huh? What the heck did any of that have to do with health care? Or abortion? Or Linda McQuaig? Nothing, that’s what.
In the last paragraph, Marsden tries to tie it all together, and fails. She can’t think of enough things to say about health care to hold together a not-terribly-lengthy column.
Her Christina Aguilera comments are typical Bush-buddy boilerplate. The actual Time article paints a rather disturbing picture of the way the Guantanamo inmates are viewed by their captors. They forced him to bark like a dog, let him sleep four hours or less per night for days, and once pumped him full of fluids with an IV, then refused to allow him to go to the bathroom. He pissed in his pants while strapped down in restraints.
Her attack on Amnesty International is even farther off topic, and it’s demonstrable crap.
Amnesty International regularly takes Cuba, Zimbabwe and other horrible little dictatorships to the woodshed for a verbal beating. Here’s the introduction to the group’s 2004 report on Zimbabwe:
The government continued its campaign of repression aimed at eliminating political opposition and silencing dissent. Hundreds of people were arrested for holding meetings or participating in peaceful protests. The police, army, supporters of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and youth militia were implicated in numerous human rights violations, including torture, assault and arbitrary detention. Despite compelling evidence that Zimbabwe would continue to experience food shortages, the government terminated most international food aid programmes. In December parliament passed legislation banning foreign human rights groups from operating in Zimbabwe and imposing restrictions on local human rights organizations, including prohibiting them from receiving foreign funding for human rights work.
Yeah, that’s a gold star all right.
The National Post is noted for being right wing. You expect this kind of demagoguery from their editorial and OpEd pages. You just don’t expect it to be done this badly.