Friday, February 27, 2004


In a recent issue of Harpers magazine John Ralston Saul writes an essay entitled 'The Collapse of Globalism.' I've been meaning to get my hands on a copy of the magazine but somehow, despite having no classes to attend this week, I have not. So, I can't speak to the article itself, but luckily for me I don't have to because the editorial board of the Globe and Mail has done my reading for me.

Today the editors of the Globe allocate two-thirds of their editorial space to engaging in an intellectual spat with Dr. Ralston Saul. They begin with this disclaimer,

John Ralston Saul's marriage to Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson yields him name recognition that most authors can only dream of. It also brings him an uncommon degree of scrutiny, some of which may be unfair. Mr. Ralston Saul was an essayist and polemicist long before he became, after a fashion, a public servant. He has a right to his opinions, regardless of how at odds they may be with the reigning orthodoxy of the day. If he chooses to cast himself as Noam Chomsky in a morning suit, so be it.

That said, if a writer spouts high-sounding but fundamentally meaningless generalizations, as Mr. Ralston Saul does with alarming regularity in his books, he should steel himself for a measure of ridicule. And if he strays into obvious nonsense, as the Governor-General's consort does with great zest in the current issue of Harper's magazine, he deserves an intellectual cold shower.

So why is it that the editors of the 'national newspaper' are devoting so much space to one essay in one American magazine? You could argue that as husband to the Governor General, Ralston Saul deserves to be held to a higher standard. But, again, is this kind of response from the Globe editors really necessary? The Governor General, let alone her husband, does not affect government policy in any way. If the G-G started holding press conferences in which she advocated the views or her husband, or any other for that matter, I imagine the PMO would quickly tell her in only a few more words to sit down an be quiet.

No, today's Globe editorial is a result of sophmoric intelectual oneup-manship. The editors were sitting around reading thier latest edition of Harper's and became so incensed by the views of one man they chose to avail themselves of their substantial pulpit in order to oppose those views. Well, good on them. It certainly doesn't smack the least bit of juvenile overkill. If the Globe editors want to engage in this type of editorializing I suggest they start a blog.

Posted by Matthew @ 1:08 p.m.