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June 21, 2011

Toronto Globe And Mail Writer: Conservatives Are To Blame For Vancouver Hockey Riots. Also: Andrew Sullivan Is a Gullible Fool

John Doyle is an Irish ex-pat who has lived and worked in Canada for 30 years. He also seems to be the only TV writer dumber than Tom Shales.

Doyle saw the Vancouver riots and decided they were the product of too many years of Conservative governments. No seriously, he did.

What happened in Vancouver was a failure of policing and an indulgence of male rage that is part and parcel of the hockey culture. It’s a short step from all that bellowing on TV about “establish the fore-check” and “get more shots and get traffic in front of the net” to rage on the street.

Hockey has political salience in Canada. A sometimes beautiful and sometimes brutal game, it has been co-opted by the Conservative government to become an allegedly defining Canadian quality, one of toughness, as the Conservatives try to remould Canada into a warrior nation, proud of being much more militarized. Putting so much emphasis on hockey as defining us in our new toughness – especially when done by figures in authority – only pushes up the temperature surrounding hockey. It’s asking for trouble, though nobody wants to admit that. Instead, most media coverage, especially television, spews forth material about “thugs” and “mayhem.” As if the culture of connecting hockey to military might could not be blamed.

This is the work of someone who knows almost nothing about hockey or Canada.

According to this native Irishman, hockey and toughness are only recently connected in the minds of Canadians. Perhaps he's never heard of Eddie Shore...you know "Old Time Hockey". Shore is famous for many feats of courage and even brutality.

Or how about Bobby Clarke in the 72 Summit Series. Clarke basically made his name and spot in Canadian history by breaking the ankle of the Soviet's top player.

The "Flin Flon Bomber" also earned the despise of many as he is of course remembered for a vicious two handed slash on Soviet superstar Valeri Kharlamov's sore ankle, which caused him to miss the final game. Many have chastised Clarke for his dirty actions. It is a bit of a trademark image for Clarke, who was known as a gritty but sometimes dirty player who would do whatever it took for his team to win.

Clearly Stephen Harper, then 13, was to blame for Clarke's tough guy act and the acclaim he received for it.

As for riots, let's not pretend that this is the first hockey riot in Canada, hell it's not even the first hockey riot in Vancouver. Behold the 1994 Stanley Cup riots. Oh and the Prime Minister of Canada in 1994? Jean Chretin, who was most assuredly not a Conservative.

Of course the most famous hockey riots of all time were the so called "Richard Riot". This riot wasn't over a lost sereis but over the suspension of Montreal Canadien star Maurice "The Rocket" Richard for punching a linesman. This was 1955 and the Canadiens (the actual team) are actually kind of proud of it.

So please Mr. Doyle, spare us the lectures about the dangers of evil and militarist conservatives and spend a little more time learning about your adopted country.

Now, why does this show Andrew Sullivan is a gullible fool because he linked to the above crap by noting that the writer "undresses" the riot and the famous photo of the couple kissing during it.

It's like facts don't matter to Sullivan, just as long as "Conservatives" somewhere are being slandered, he's your man.

Added: I didn't want this to be a hockey post. My larger point was going to be sometimes immigrants like Doyle and Sullivan don't know their adoptive countries as well as they think they do. What's new to even long time immigrants is sometimes just part of a larger tradition they missed out on not having grown up in the culture.

This isn't to say that immigrants can't be good, productive citizens of their adopted homes (200+ years of American experience shows otherwise) but that their "outsider" critiques would often be improved by a bit of modesty about the deeper traditions of a society.

I think it's something to consider when you see guys like Sullivan, David Frum and Fareed Zakaria opine about 'real conservatives' in the American context. And it works both ways. There are a lot of people who talk about countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and even less "exotic" places like the UK, who haven't the slightest clue what life is like there or the myriad of subtleties that influence issues great and small on a daily basis.

Added Part II- AmishDude makes a great point in the comments.

Steyn is also an American immigrant, but he loves all of the stuff that people like Sullivan hate. Sullivan is happy to make more money and pay less taxes, but Steyn actually loves American culture.

That's why I was hesitant to add that part....the danger of over-genalization. As I said, it's not that immigrants can't contribute or comment, it's just that the perspective of someone who grew up in a different culture is going to be, well different, from someone who did.


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posted by DrewM. at 02:58 PM

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