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November 30, 2004

The children of M*A*S*H

The big news in Canada today is the state visit of George W. Bush. The way the media will play it is to focus on protesters and their clever signs and chants. War is bad, Bush started a war, therefore Bush is bad -- and Canadians are speaking out. It's a simple narrative, and one they won't find too many people disagreeing with.

The idea that war is always horrible and always wrong is now unquestioned in Canada. It's very difficult to find from our leaders or in our institutions any consideration that there are some things worth fighting for, and sometimes when you must stick to your guns, even if lives are at risk. Even our new War Museum has decided to overlook why men fought to instead concentrate on imparting these four thoughts to its visitors:

  • War has affected Canada and all Canadians.
  • War has affected my life in Canada today.
  • War is a devastating human experience for people like me.
  • I must remember.
The ideals and motivations that our soldiers fought for are being taken from them, and they've been turned from heroes into victims.

This represents the triumph of the M*A*S*H interpretation of warfare. In the show, there was absolutely no mention of why there was fighting in Korea, only that it was horrific and meaningless. The only person supporting the war was the cretinous Frank Burns, a crude characature the show used to skewer those 'squares' that believed in what the military told them. There were also young innocent soldiers brought in to weep over, and unfeeling generals to feel contempt for. The point-of-view with regards to war was cleverly made out to be self-evident. The show was as manipulative as TV gets.

Years of daily reruns of M*A*S*H has had an effect on our collective conciousness. Canadians are now too 'sophisticated' to support military intervention -- even if the alternative is much worse (as it would have been in Korea). What will it take to shake us out of this trance?

Posted by Bruce Gottfred at November 30, 2004 09:30 AM | TrackBack
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