The Mail

The Mail

June 7 1999
The Mail

The Mail

June 7 1999

The Mail

Culture or religion?

Your coverage of the new Star Wars movie was melodramatic (“The second coming,” Cover, May 24). Why does your magazine, and other media, hop onto every bandwagon to promote what has already been beaten into our heads? Must each blockbuster film be a cultural phenomenon? In the past 100 years, there have been thousands of pop culture phenomena, from Charlie Chaplin

to the jitterbug to Elvis Presley to The Phantom Menace. This pop culture religion is manufactured by people seeking profit, not a prophet.

Kevin McGowan, Nepean, Ont.

I’ve never read such a pile of intergalactic hogwash in my life. When we sit down to be carried off to strange worlds,

we have already checked reality along with our coats. The Star Wars movies are such grand escapism we allow George Lucas a great deal of scientific licence because we are being entertained. Relax—enjoy the Star Wars movies for what they are.

Gene Le Tallec, Tappen, B.C.

I object to your suggestion that pop culture, and more specifically Star Wars, has become the new religion. Certainly it is an example of the modern philosophy, and does an admirable job of describing how good and evil are so intertwined, while appearing so disparate. I camped out in line for this movie with my church (religiously satisfied) friends, not to worship, but to participate in the culmination of perhaps the ultimate earthly dream: a vivid and detailed imagination, backed by all the resources needed to effect its creations. Beyond that, this is my explanation for the Star Wars phenomenon: at the end of this rapidly accelerating-to-its-end millennium, it is the twentysomethings who are experiencing, and are willing to pay for, their nostalgia.


My thanks to former colleague Allan Fotheringham for a friendly look at my battle for free speech in British Columbia (“A lifelong fight for freedom,” May 24). It is not often that we of the school of political incorrectness get fair treatment in the media. As far as my war record is concerned, however, I must point out that there were some inaccuracies. It is true that I escaped 10 times from Nazi prison camps, as described in my book PO. W: A Soldier’s Story of His Ten Escapes from Nazi Prison Camps. But I was never in Stalag Luft III, and there-

fore could not escape from it. Nor did I “pass through” Auschwitz, unless it was the village. What happened was that my fellow escaper and I ran into the concentration camp at night after getting out of a POW camp in Silesia. We had no idea what it was, but could see that it was not for us. I must also correct Foth’s view that as a 19-year-old sergeant with the Gloucestershire Regiment I was “an unlettered lad.” I had no letters after my name, but knew my letters perhaps better than some of today’s university students. Anyway, thanks again, Foth.

Doug Collins, West Vancouver

Allan Fotheringham waxes nostalgic about his good old buddy, Foth’s gutsy 1960s newspaper colleague and supposed Second World War hero, Doug Collins. Whatever Collins did or didn’t do as a sergeant in the British army 50 years ago does not give him, or anyone that will publish him, an absolute right to repeatedly vilify people for their ethnicity and religion. Even though I subscribe to Maclean’s, I found Foth’s article already posted on a Canadian white supremacist, neo-Nazi Web site, long before I received my copy in the mail. I heartily recommend that the Macleans editorial board and Foth take an extended look around just this one Web

Balancing the picture

You paint a relentlessly negative picture of the state of Ontario’s environment and lay the blame squarely on the Conservative government (“Open for business,” Canada, May 24). There are positive endeavours that you either fail to mention, minimize or dismiss as inadequate. You chose to ignore the World Wildlife Fund’s statement that Ontario’s granting of protected status to more than 2.4 million hectares of Crown lands was the most important conservation achievement in Canada over the past year. This land represents fully half of all the new areas placed into nature reserves in the entire country. You also do not refer to the WWF’s annual report card, which raised Ontario’s grading from a D-plus to a B-plus in April. In the interests of fairness, especially around election time, all the facts should be presented, not just those that support a particular political bias.

Marilyn Baker, Richmond, B.C.

Letters to the Editor

should be addressed to:

Maclean’s Magazine Letters 777 Bay St., Toronto, Ont. M5W IA7 Fax: (416) 596-7730 E-mail: Maclean's welcomes readers’ views, but letters may be edited for space, style and clarity. Please supply name, address and daytime telephone number. Submissions may appear In Maclean's electronic sites. E-mail queries about subscriptions or delivery problems should be addressed to:

The Mail

site, or the Feb. 3, 1999, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision that ruled four of Collins’s North Shore News columns were “likely to expose Jewish persons to hatred or contempt.” I don’t wish to seem alarmist, but this war hero stuff has been a convenient facade for Collins for quite some time.

Harry Abrams, Victoria

Allan Fotheringham’s deification of his friend, Doug Collins, gready disappointed me. As a recent inductee into the Canadian News Hall of Fame, and as a veteran journalist, Fotheringham should know how to distinguish between what is real and what is not. The reality of Doug Collins is not difficult to ascertain. Over many years, and mostly in Vancouver’s North Shore News, Collins—Fotheringham’s champion of free speech—used his freedom to write the following:

“Organized Jewry is our biggest threat to freedom of speech.”

“The issue is whether the so-called Holocaust took place. . . . More and more, I am coming to the conclusion that it didn’t.”

“I do not believe the six million story that is thrown at us daily on TV... ‘mass gassings’ were a technical impossibility.”

“Does [Jim Keegstra] believe that the Holocaust was a hoax? I don’t believe the six million story either.”

There is plenty more like this, for anyone with the stomach for it. Gays are “homos” and discussed in the context of “filth” and “dirt.” At least one group of immigrants are “illiterates” and “scum.” It is “good” to be intolerant. That, to me, is the reality of Doug Collins: antiSemite, racist, Holocaust denier.

Warren Kinsella, Toronto

Not just the young

The article referring to a University of Calgary scientist possibly uncovering a vital clue to create a vaccine against Type 1 diabetes is not entirely correct (“Understanding juvenile diabetes,” Health

Monitor, May 24). While Type 1 (insulin-dependent diabetes) mosdy affects children and young adults, it also remains with diabetics throughout their lives and is not limited only to children and young people. I have been an insulin-dependent diabetic since recovering from a Type 1 diabetic coma in 1968. If a vaccine against this disease is created, it will take its rightful place alongside the vital discovery of insulin. Kathleen P. Barnes, Victoria

‘A nagging feeling’

So, former prime minister Brian Mulroney thinks that if he were to step back into the political arena Prime Minister Jean Chrétien would have “some real opposition on his hands” (“Mulroney takes aim,” Canada, May 24). This from a man who is so despised that he all but wiped out the federal Progressive Conservatives. He’s tanned, rich and self-satisfied, and he knows all the right people. But he still doesn’t get it. For most of us who love this country, he’s nothing but a loser.

Mark Giberson, Ottawa

Brian Mulroney was given two overwhelming mandates by the Canadian electorate. Over the course of these, he managed not only to disappoint the electorate, like ordinary politicians ordinarily do, but to generate a hostility that rages unabated in the hearts of this electorate. It is nothing specific. It is not the slew of ministers that were either forced to resign, dragged into courts or pushed aside out of the public eye. It was not the Pearson airport affair, or the Airbus affair. It is just this nagging feeling that we have been had. In spite of his candid declarations about the uses of patronage, he is still seen as the most devious in his use of it. Rather than being the most misunderstood politician in the history of this country, he might well be the one politician that the Canadian electorate feels it finally understood.

W. G. Radlein, Victoria