Elusive Answers; Chronicle of a Death Foretold; Absolutely Nothing; Self-Reliance; The Truth Is Out There; Tusk, Tusk

Elusive Answers; Chronicle of a Death Foretold; Absolutely Nothing; Self-Reliance; The Truth Is Out There; Tusk, Tusk
Illustration by Chris Kuzma

A policeman’s lot is not a happy one, as Gilbert and Sullivan pointed out, but it is a breeze compared with a limousine socialist’s. Take your conflicted writer, Pasha Malla (“The Question Remains,” December).

Malla “situates [himself] ideologically on the socialist left,” yet he has a “pretty capricious” relationship with “street-level protest,” by which he means G20 rioters smashing and burning things. He isn’t sure if “offending people rall[lies] support,” but quotes with approval CLAC members Robyn Maynard and Jaggi Singh’s observation that “in a world which is defined by, and maintained by violence… there can be no tears shed for the cars and windows broken by those who have had enough with the forces profiting from their exploitation.”

Since Malla finds Singh’s dedication to the anti-globalist movement admirable, I feel duty bound to call his attention to a virtually identical maxim expressing the same idea more economically: “Terror must be broken by terror.” It was the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA) slogan from the early 1930s, before the dedicated disciples of “direct action” made Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism the leading political creed in Germany.

Malla hasn’t made a commitment to anarcho-terrorism yet. Even his guru Singh hasn’t. Nevertheless, Singh’s admitted purpose is to acclimatize the multitudes to the certainties of the Malla-Singh axis, so the radical becomes the mainstream in both media and society, and the language of radicalism becomes the acceptable and eventually the obligatory. Shades of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia not quite a century ago…

If The Walrus were looking to reincarnate itself as the Völkischer Beobachter by offering Canada’s conflicted intellectuals a friendly forum in which to morph from limousine socialists into limousine Nazis, all this would make some sort of (sick) sense. As The Walrus is unlikely to have such ambitions, it makes no sense at all.

Peter Munk
Toronto, ON

I am a Toronto resident who was deeply affected by the G20 events this past June, and reading “The Question Remains” was like reading my own thoughts. I would love to get in touch with Pasha Malla—if only to get a dialogue started, to rid myself of lingering feelings of helplessness, and to feel better about the possibility of positive change.

Kathleen O’Hagan
Toronto, ON

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Being in my twilight years, I can identify with Dave Cameron’s father (“Approximate Directions to a Burial,” December); nowadays, I go to more funerals than weddings, as the old adage goes.

It is exceedingly unfair that a person, having lived a purposeful life, must end his days in agony and infantile helplessness. The process is particularly hard for family caregivers—Cameron’s description of changing his father’s diapers makes me cringe—and it speaks well for voluntary euthanasia. As we celebrate birth, we should celebrate a life well lived by allowing our loved ones to depart on their own terms when they are ready.

Sigmund Roseth
Mississauga, ON

Though my husband’s brain tumour is of a less aggressive nature, Dave Cameron’s memoir hits very close to home. He captures what it is like to wander through the ever-foreign hallways of cancer care, and it is a tribute to the understated delicacy, humour, and quality of his writing that I was compelled to finish reading, despite identifying so closely. Well done.

Kelly Milne
Winnipeg, MB

Absolutely Nothing

The other day, I was sitting in a barber’s chair—that fount of knowledge—having my hair clipped by a lady of Afghan heritage. The war in Afghanistan came to mind, and I ventured the question, will any of this make a difference? “No,” was her measured response.

I thought of this while I read the last sentence of Matthieu Aikins’ article (“Last Stand in Kandahar,” December): “It’s not possible to end it.” This statement is attributed to Mohammad Anas, an Afghan who worked for the Communists, the mujahedeen, the Taliban, and now the Karzai regime.

Afghans everywhere are telling us the truth about the war. Why does the international community refuse to listen?

Peter Jacob
Richmond, BC


Heather O’Neill’s “On Deadbeat Dads” (December) is a powerful analysis of the behaviour and impact of its subject matter. Jane Austen had it right: selfish men make poor partners and even worse parents.

Single mothers bear enormous pressures, and ought to receive every form of support that governments and communities can provide. However, it is important to instill self-esteem in young women, and teach them to make responsible choices about partnership, parenthood, and—crucially—career. Long-term employment is a matter of economic survival for all Canadian women today. It provides mothers and wives with a measure of protection from deadbeat dads, as well as loss of income resulting from a partner’s unemployment, illness, accident, disability, or death.

I’m teaching my daughter to value her autonomy and aspirations, and to consider a career a lifelong pursuit, as necessary as breathing.

Holly Leclair
Toronto, ON

The Truth Is Out There

“So far, of course, there hasn’t been so much as a peep from ET” (“Alien Notion,” December). Not true. Come on, people. Read a little.

Anonymous (online)

Tusk, Tusk

In “Howdy, Neighbour” (January/February 2011), Jean Chrétien is incorrectly referred to as a head of state. He was, of course, head of the government. The Walrus regrets the error.

This appeared in the March 2011 issue.

“The time has come,” The Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a letter, an email (letters@thewalrus.ca), or a tweet, or post on this website. Comments may be published in any medium and edited for length, clarity, and accuracy. Mail correspondence to: 411 Richmond St. E., Suite B15, Toronto, Ontario, Canada  M5A 3S5

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