Satire Or An Honest Statement?
I read through this article two or three times and got more confused each time. I am suspecting that it was written as satire in view of recent news reports of warnings for further terror attacks. However, Canadian humour being what it is sometimes, (and being Canadian myself) I think I am confused on the issue at hand. Outside comments are solicited on this one.... This was an editorial from the National Post and is written in the format of a letter.
What's that? You're not panicking? We're doing our best to change that.
Paul Wells National Post Friday, November 15, 2002
OTTAWA - Dear Sir or Madam: Please stop panicking. Come out from under that bed or table. We are pretty sure your odds of being personally maimed or killed by Osama bin Laden are relatively low.
You weren't panicking?
Well, this comes as some surprise to those of us in the newspaper and television industries. Ever since Canada was listed as a terrorist target on an audio tape that came from Osama bin Laden -- unless it came from the prank shop at the Riyadh Town Centre Mall -- we have been operating on the assumption that you, the Average Canadian, felt this revelation to be:
(c) more disturbing than life in the early 21st century already was;
(d) the sort of news any of us can do anything about.
I am shocked to discover, after two days of unscientific polling among Average Canadians who have the misfortune to work outside the newspaper and television industries, that this may not in fact be the case. Despite our best efforts to inform you, I fear many of you have responded to the Osama or Osama-esque Terror Tape (Deluxe Maple Leaf Edition) with all the wrong reactions, to wit:
(a) "I knew that."
(b) "What did you expect? A special exemption for Canadian infidels?"
(c) "We sort of figured out on Sept. 11, 2001, that we were in for some grim business, Einstein."
(d) "While we wait for you folks in the newspaper and television industry to climb in off the ledge, the rest of us will get on with our lives, if you don't mind."
This display of sober-mindedness is disturbing evidence that Canadians remain the hypocritical cowards they have always been. Therefore a consortium of news organizations will produce a series of special newspaper sections and prime-time news specials about the Maple Terror Tape. The project's tentative working title is WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.
Actually, as long as it's just you and us chatting among friends, sir or madam, we must admit to some disappointment at learning that Osama (or a highly entertaining Osama imitator) considers Canada an enemy. It would have been easier for us to wallow in neurotic national self-contempt if we had been left off the list. In fact, on the assumption we would be, we dummied up a few excellent headlines which now, unfortunately, must go unused. Among our favourites:
Snubbed by the Nutcase: Canada's Shame
'This is What I've Been Saying All Along' -- Stockwell Day
Bush: 'The Guy's Stealing My Best Routines'
Since bin Laden refuses to write off Canada's contribution to the war on terrorism, we have had to take up the slack. This required a change in vocabulary that might have proven difficult, given that the largest Canadian expeditionary force since Korea travelled to Afghanistan to put bullets through the heads of bin Laden's helpmates, at the not-inconsiderable cost of four Canadian soldiers dead.
Fortunately we're up to the task. On Jan. 9, our editorialists called the Canadian military force in Afghanistan "proper." Yesterday we downgraded our adjective, saying it had never been more than a "token" force. Much better.
So now we soldier on in the proper Canadian way, heads bowed in shame. Fortunately we have acquired a list of bin Laden's 22 terror targets, which goes some way toward simplifying our palsied lives. Thanks to this authoritative list, anybody in any corner of the Dominion who is not close to one of the 22 targets can breathe a little easier.
So if you attend the Montreal Jazz Festival, or fly WestJet, or shop at the West Edmonton Mall, have no fear. If you like to take a drink at Cowboys in Calgary or the Ship Inn in St. John's, tipple in peace. If you have tickets to The Lion King in Toronto, enjoy the show. None of those crowded and unpoliced public places is on the list. So nobody will bomb you or wrestle you from the skies or take you and your fellow patrons hostage.
The peculiar mix of forced panic and false security we have offered you all week with your morning coffee is our way of fulfilling our obligation to you, the Average Canadian. Don't mention it.
© Copyright 2002 National Post