Hearts and Minds: Do the Tories Have Either?

A Soldier's Reaction, Upon Hearing of Four Canadian Deaths

Apparently not. It appears to be more important for the newly-elected Tories to distinguish themselves from the Liberals than it is for them to honour the four Canadian soldiers who died while serving in Afghanistan under their rule. Actually, scratch that.

They have no intention of honouring any future fallen soldiers either.

The newly elected Conservative government will no longer lower the flag to half-mast every time a Canadian soldier is killed, saying the automatic flag-lowering was a break with tradition by the Liberals.

Indeed it was, but that tradition has been broken continuously for the past thirty years; at a certain point, it becomes a new tradition.

This decision makes no sense as a PR stunt except that it will reduce public awareness of the fatal toll in Afghanistan, and it does effectively point up the differences between the Tories and the Liberal party. In so many ways.

As William S. Burroughs said:

"It's the little touches that make a future solid enough to be destroyed."

This gesture, flying the flags at half-mast to honour Canadians who have given their lives in what is, at least on paper, a peacekeeping mission, is a gracious and solemn one, and one that does not cost the taxpayers anything whatsoever. It's not cheaper to run the flags halfway up, but it's no more expensive either. The sight of flags at half-mast is resonant and historic; people everywhere know its import. They stop, dead. For just a second. And they contemplate, which people seldom actually do today. A flag at half-mast, in this secular and insular world, has wider emotional impact than a crucifix, or a pentagram. It is more universal than an SOS, more visible than a news story, and communicated completely democratically to everyone who is out in public in a given region. Like radio waves connecting distant points, for a moment it knits together the viewer with the country, and the country with the fallen. In that moment we experience the burden and the majesty of citizenship: of civilization.

That the Tories have heartlessly dumped this tradition for short-term political branding gains shows that they are concerned with none of the real issues of government. In fairness, they never pretended to be patriots; they ran as slavering priests of free-marketry and loyal Ameri-neo-cons. Well, Emerson ran as a patriot; we just didn't realize he was the Benedict Arnold type.

When the Tories go, no-one will fly a flag at half-mast for them. I suggest, in a return to a very old tradition indeed, that we salute their leaving office with the hoisting not of flags to half-mast, but something more petard-based.

Half Mast at the Peace Tower

5 thoughts on “Hearts and Minds: Do the Tories Have Either?

  1. Where are the heirs of Guido Fawkes, just when we need ’em?

    This “Conservative” (spell that with a large “C” as in “fasCist”) government has thus far been displaying all the media-savvy of the Bush league. This is also referred to as “Mushroom Media Management”.

    Keep ’em in the dark, feed ’em bullshit, and if anything ever breaks through into the light of day, make sure it gets swallowed up.

    Harper stopped the traditional post-question-period scrum with reporters–a valuable source of sound bites and masterful policy summations–which used to occur following cabinet meetings.

    Harper must practically personally proof and approve all government messages, just in case one of his wilder horses blurts out his Master Plan of social change, which should bring us more into line with the US.

    And now he’s decided we have better things to think about than dead Canadians, who were sent to this war not solely to bolster Afghan attempts at peace, but also to remind the US that we DO stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies–only we’d prefer to have an honest reason to do so.

    Shame, Mr. Harper. How long until you forbid reporters to take pictures of returning caskets?

    –Sorry. I suppose this should really be a blog posting of my own.

  2. Pingback: raincoaster » Operation Global Media Domination: Politics Day

  3. Sometimes being psychic is a royal pain in the freshly-plucked ones, y’know?
    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Stephen Harper, Infant Terrible (otherwise known as . . . aw forget it) is going to have to abandon his plans to re-ban gay marriage in preparation for the act he’s about to perform on Da Chimp.

    May the god Stephen Harper professes to believe in (but only sees in the mirror) afflict him with that most terrible of things–a conscience.

    Or boils.

    Either one.

    Telepathy would be fun too. Imagine him saying the things he usually says, while broadcasting the things he usually thinks.

  4. Pingback: raincoaster » Coffin for one, Prime Minister?

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