MAIL BAG

‘I agree with your critic about Jon Stewart. Shouting doesn’t make things funnier.’

February 19 2007
MAIL BAG

‘I agree with your critic about Jon Stewart. Shouting doesn’t make things funnier.’

February 19 2007

MAIL BAG

‘I agree with your critic about Jon Stewart. Shouting doesn’t make things funnier.’

OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT

YOUR COVER ARTICLES always interest me, but what’s up with your story on Barack Obama (“Guess who’s coming to the White House,” World, Feb. 5)? Six pages dwelling on whether or not America is ready to elect a black man says loud and clear that you’re still living in the sixties. We want to see Obama as a presidential candidate, not a black presidential candidate. The American people have enough trouble organizing a valid election and picking a competent leader without you trying to force them to vote on hundreds of years of racial history. Whether Obama wins or loses, let’s give Americans the benefit of the doubt and say that his race didn’t influence their choice.

Lynn O’Brien, Lindsay, Ont.

BARACK OBAMA the next U.S. president? I doubt it. As much as Fd like to see him achieving that goal, that’s not going to happen. Why? America, as a whole, never mind the powerful Washington political elite, isn’t yet ready to accept a black man as president. Obama seems to be an honest, sincere, dedicated person with high moral principles. Those attributes, though, probably won’t be enough to stop Hillary Clinton. And that’s a pity.

Bel de Pinho, Newmarket, Ont.

ONE LINE in your article really hit me: “each serious candidate is going to have to raise US$100 million by the end of this year to make a serious run.” A hundred million! That puts a dent in even a baseball player or soccer star’s wallet! In short, then, only billionaires, or those in the pockets of billionaires, need apply. How can one expect such people to have any understanding of the struggles of the middle class, let alone the poor, once they get into office? How can one expect them not to be totally subservient to the rich and to big business? Our whole world might be better off if a convenience store manager who lives in a mobile home could become president of the most powerful country in the world.

Dave Ruch, Oshawa, Ont.

FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES

YOUR STORY contained an inaccuracy regarding my recent visit to the Middle East (“The Harper Doctrine,” National, Feb. 5). Contrary to your depiction of my reception being “chilly” during my visit to Jordan, I was received as a friend and a partner. My meetings with Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit, Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib and the director of the office of his Majesty the King, Mr. Bassem Awadallah, allowed for a great deal of detailed and fruitful discussions of bilateral and regional issues. These talks served as a testament to the excellent, warm relations between Canada and Jordan. My Jordanian interlocutors echoed comments I received from Palestinians and Israelis that Canada’s role in the region—as

a supporter of a two-state solution and a central player on the issue of Palestinian refugees—was as important and needed as ever. They welcomed increased involvement by Canada’s new government and I committed to doing just that.

Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ottawa

I CANNOT BELIEVE how wimpy we Canadians have become. We finally elect a strong Prime Minister who speaks out against human rights abusers and gets world leaders to issue statements based on the truth and what is the result? Statements such as these in your story about the PM’s foreign policy: “[Harper’s] movement away from the familiar Liberal traditions of soft power and eager multilateralism is lamented by those who feel such policies defined Canada.” Soft power defined Canada? Give me a break. Tell that to our vets and then report their reactions.

Alex Mills, Winnipeg

JON STEWART’S EDGE

JAIME J. WEINMAN attempts to hop on the next hot bandwagon by chronicling all the reasons why The Daily Show is no longer as fresh or as funny (“What’s happened to ‘The Daily Show’?” TV, Jan. 22). But Weinman misses several key points. That talented cast members have gone to do other things is inevitable (the show couldn’t remain fresh if this didn’t happen). But successors like the dry expert analyst John Hodgman and the overtly British John Oliver aren’t just filling in, they are hilarious, and add new dimension. That The Colbert Report occasionally steals some thunder from The Daily Show may be true, but it still benefits from its relationship with its lead-in big brother. When I watch Jon Stewart serve tea to the president of Pakistan before asking him where Osama bin Laden is, I don’t get the impression of a comedian or a TV show that has lost its edge.

Kevin Wilson, Victoria

COULDN’T AGREE with Weinman more concerning Jon Stewart. Shouting doesn’t make things funnier. On the other hand, Stephen Colbert is quiet and easy to listen to. Sure he is a pompous ass, but we all know that. Louise Woods, Kingston, Ont.

RECENTLY did a paper on my favourite critic or television analyst and I chose Jaime Weinman, although I have one problem with his article about Jon Stewart. In it he talks about the lack of a good cast member on the current show, yet he fails to mention Jason Jones, who is definitely a crowd pleaser. I highly recommend watching, if only for Jones. Dillon Mullock, Baltimore

SOLDIERS’ STORIES

IT IS SHAMEFUL and embarrassing to see the government first make a mistake in boosting soldiers’ salaries, then try to claw back the money while excusing its behaviour under the guise of bureaucratic regulation (“Danger and taxes,” National, Jan. 29). The Canadian Forces are our best ambassadors, respected around the world. Due to their bravery, courage and professionalism in performing their missions, Canada’s flag is

respected globally. Canadian politicians and bureaucrats of all stripes are the only ones who tarnish our image. The armed services and their families do not deserve to be shortchanged.

Jacob Kasperowicz, Kirkland, Que.

WHILE I DO NOT agree with the war in Iraq, I can’t agree either that U.S. army deserter and author Joshua Key will make a good Canadian citizen (Interview, Feb. 5). The armed forces are not trade schools for plumbers and electricians, although soldiers do those jobs, too. Their business is war and Key joined the U.S. army to fight, whether he knew it or not. Key was naive and credulous, but that is no reason to accept him as a refugee. He wouldn’t do his duty for his own country, why would he do it for Canada? Ship him across the border. M. A. Rhodes, Nelson, B.C.

GOOD FOR Maclean’s to give space to Joshua Key. However, the interviewer, Kate Fillion, came across like a prosecuting attorney. Her questions suggested he was either stupid or completely irresponsible and should be sent back to the States for appropriate punishment. This soldier has been through hell, facing not only the dangers of any combatant in a war-torn foreign land, but being forced to engage in a mission he soon realized was unjustified. I can only hope that Key and his family will be permitted to live a peaceful, happy life here in their new, chosen land. Betty Eckgren, Victoria

THE BLAME FOR CHEATING

REGRETTABLY, your editorial (“Universities simply have to do better”) and your story (“The great university cheating scandal,” Cover, Education, Feb. 12),put the primary blame for the deplorable lack of integrity of a large segment of the university student population on the backs of the universities. There can be no question but that the testing and examination system should be such that potential cheaters are discouraged because of a high probability of getting caught. However, shouldn’t the primary blame for cheating be assigned to the parents of these students and to their earlier schooling and even society as whole? Standards of honesty seem to have slipped all over the place: in professions, in politics, and in commerce. But we seem to be blaming the lack of detection and punishment rather than the shortsightedness of poor parenting and inadequate education. If kids leave high school with a lack of integrity and unable to cope with the demands of a university education, it is already too late. Even if they get caught cheating at university and are denied their degree, they are likely to continue to fail in their re-

sponsibilities as employees and citizens and, in the long run, they will fail in life. Eugene Strauss, Toronto

‘Steyn’s complaint seems to be that Muslims in ‘Little Mosque’ are scaled down from a security threat to low-key What’s with that? ’

PERHAPS the 50-plus per cent of students cheating at university are the ones who oughtn’t to be there in the first place. The massive influx of academically disinterested students entering the universities has done more to devalue degrees than cheating ever could. This influx, the consequent dishonesty and the refusal of schools to discipline or expel wayward “funding units” go back to a common origin: the failure of most administrations to remember that universities exist for higher education, and not just for higher incomes. Jeremy Johnson, Brampton, Ont.

‘LITTLE MOSQUE’ FANS

SO, MARK STEYN doesn’t like Little Mosque on the Prairie (“The little mosque that couldn’t,” Media, Feb. 5). That’s fine, but his real complaint seems to be that the Muslims on the show are scaled down from a global security threat to warm, low-key domesticity. Well, what is wrong with that? Does he think that all Muslims are a global security threat? Dan Horsman, Fredericton

I AM CANADIAN Israeli and a fan of Little Mosque on the Prairie. Its creator, Zarqa Nawaz, has taken a very brave step despite what would seem to be significant challenges to present a show that at least starts to bridge the gap and show our shared humanity. As a Jew, I know that humour has served us well in dealing with our issues and to break down barriers. I much prefer this sort of effort at communication among Canadians than that preached by the so-called leadership in the Canadian Muslim world who claim victimization while denigrating others. Bravo to Zarqa and all of those involved in the project. George Muenz, Vancouver

IN PASSING

Syd Shulemson, 91, earned a Distinguished Service Order during the Second World War, becoming Canada’s most highly decorated Jewish soldier of the war. The Montreal-born fighter pilot was later part of a group that readied the Israeli armed forces for the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Shulemson, who was active in the Canadian Jewish Congress until the early 1990s, died in Florida following a heart attack.

Ahmed Abu Laban, 60, Denmark’s leading imam, was a key figure in last year’s uproar over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. He accused Denmark of being disrespectful of Islam and Muslim immigrants, which some say sparked last year’s deadly riots. Abu Laban died in Copenhagen after battling lung cancer.