ESSAYS & REVIEWS
Maclean's magazine goes over-the-top with racist, provocative story
October 27, 2006

For some time now, Maclean's has been morphing from a rather staid mouthpiece of Canada's elites into a shrill, increasingly offensive and downright racist publication. Even before they went right over-the-top, the founders of Seven Oaks were cranky about what was, at least until recently, Canada's "magazine of record". When we starting our modest little on-line journal, we printed promotional stickers with an unsubtle wink to the vocabulary of television censorship: "Forget Maclean's, Read SevenOaksMag.com".

This week's issue of Maclean's (October 23-30, 2006), however, renders obsolete such corny little pokes in the eye at what has become a glossy weekly of hate mongering. The cover and accompanying story, "Why the future belongs to Islam," written by Mark Steyn, is an overtly racist piece of propaganda.

At the end of this article I've included Maclean's contact information, for those individuals and organizations that feel compelled to make formal complaints or mount letters to the editor campaigns. At a minimum people should encourage unsubscription (for anyone one might know who still subscribes to the decreasingly popular magazine) and to generally expose this outrageous racist provocation. Of specific concern is the fact that Maclean's still features "teacher subscription rates" for classrooms and school libraries: Among other things educators and school administrators should be asked to cancel their orders.

Before I briefly describe the putrid "thesis" of the article, a description of the cover picture is in order. The dark, ominous image features a background mass of people entirely covered in full black face veil. In the foreground, a young pre-teenaged girl -- the only one with her face uncovered -- looks up with a dark menacing stare. The subheading on the cover hints at Steyn's argument: "The Muslim world has youth, numbers and global ambition. The West is old, barren and exhausted."

The fear mongering rolls out from there, barren of logic and exhausting all the old racist notions imaginable. Steyn asserts that the "Muslim World" -- which is defined, of course, to "other" even and especially those of Muslim faith who live within and/or are citizens of the "western" world -- represents a menace that threatens to overcome good, non-Muslim (though he doesn't identify Christian specifically), "western civilization". Although the article focuses on the influx of Muslim populations into Europe, the fear mongering is obviously designed to be universal. Europe, Steyn laments, is "too enfeebled to resist its remorseless transformation into Eurabia..."

Steyn's language mirrors some of the far-right rhetoric warning of a "reconquista" of the United States by Mexicans and other Latin Americans (much of the southwest United States was, after all, stolen through war from Mexico). This alone makes his writing despicable. Seen within the "War on Terror" hysteria aimed at criminalizing Muslims in general, the rise of Islamophobia fanned to help at once justify war abroad and repression at home, and the particular context of the ongoing outrage at the infamous cartoons, Steyn's article must be understood as a deliberate, hateful and provocative act.

Some brief excerpts should suffice to illustrate the nature of the article, beginning with the author's adoringly absurd attempt to identify the "social democratic welfare state" as a cause of terrorism and societal decline. 

-"Big government is a national security threat: it increases your vulnerability to threats like Islamism, and makes it less likely you'll be able to summon the will to rebuff it."

-"The children and grandchildren of those fascists and republicans who waged a bitter civil war for the future of Spain now shrug when a bunch of foreigners blow up their capital." [The fascists won that "civil war", given their superior foreign backing from Germany and Italy (Steyn doesn't tell us which side he'd have been on), and the 2004 ousting of their Iraq War supporting government is among the Spanish people's greatest victories since the end of Franco.]

-"In the old days the white man settled the Indian territory. Now the followers of the badland's radical imams settle the metropolis. And another difference: In the old days, the Injuns had bows and arrows and the cavalry had rifles. In today's Indian territory, countries that can't feed their own people have nuclear weapons." [I think Steyn just converted the North Koreans to Islam. He also unwittingly confirmed what leftists and indigenous activists are always told to stop bringing up: That there is a direct connection between the racist, colonialist genesis of today's imperial centres and their racist, neo-colonialist war-making in the hinterlands/"Injun territory" of today.]

-"Of course, not all Muslims support terrorists -- though enough of them share their basic objectives (the wish to live under Islamic law in Europe and North America) to function wittingly or otherwise as the 'good cop' end of an Islamic good cop/bad cop routine. But, at the very minimum, this fast-moving demographic transformation provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to move around in."

Anyway, I wish I could conclude by saying that it is only the wing-nut editorial board of Maclean's we need to worry about, but sadly it's getting harder all the time to distinguish the Maclean's/National Post "bad cop" from the Globe and Mail "good cop" in their right-wing routine.

In terms of the future belonging to Islam, let us hope that the future belongs to people of all faiths, ethnicities, and backgrounds, who will learn to live together on our fragile planet in equality, genuine sustainability and justice. We might also wish for a future where the peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, in particular, will no longer have to live under the gun of wars of occupation and resource-theft. Surely the future, in fact, can and should belong to the world's poor majority, so long excluded, marginalized, scorned, criminalized, and blamed for their own oppression.

The good news is that Maclean's, the National Post and the rest of the corporate print media are in sharp decline, their influence ever waning, albeit too gradually. The more determined we are in developing and popularizing critical, independent media and in organizing against empire-building and racism in all its forms, the sooner Maclean's will belong to the past, and the sooner the future will belong to all of us.

Email comments to letters@macleans.ca

For a comprehensive index of alternative Canadian media, see: http://www.independentmedia.ca/

 

 

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