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Sally C. Pipes - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Sally C. Pipes is President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute [go to Pipes index]

The Old Feminist's Tale
Canada's Margaret Atwood vs. America…
[Sally C. Pipes] 6/9/05

In Canada, my native land, the novelist Margaret Atwood is a very big deal. In fact, she’s a national hero. Canadians are taught to praise her not only as an artist but a fearless and compassionate commentator. Her latest book calls for some revision on that score.

Writing with Intent is a collection of Atwood's nonfiction and includes her "Letter to America." The story here is that, in Margaret's World, America was once a wonderful place. "You were the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comic books I read in the late 1940s," she writes.

America used to be a "ton of fun," with the Andrews Sisters, Jack Benny, Our Miss Brooks, Ella Fitzgerald, the Platters, and, of course, Elvis. But that is all ancient history. Atwood, a militant feminist, then launches into a rant that sounds like a Howard Dean stump speech.

The "Iraqi adventures" have been "ill-advised" and a "tactical error." Apparently the Canadian feminist has brushed up on military and diplomatic strategy. She's an expert on our domestic affairs too.

"You're gutting the Constitution. Already your home can be entered without your knowledge or permission." Atwood then dons her economist cap. "You're running up a record level of debt," and "torching the American economy."

This essay was first published in The Nation, America's premier left-wing journal, which is further evidence that feminism is the women's auxiliary of socialism. Atwood published the essay some 18 months after terrorists committed mass murder in New York and Washington. The terrorists – she calls them "extremists" – would seem to be a more appropriate subject for Atwood's wrath, but her prime target is America. Recall The Handmaid's Tale, her 1985 novel in which the United States becomes Gilead, a theocracy that seizes women's bank accounts, takes their credit cards, and turns women into chattel. The nation has also lost its economic might.

More than 20 years later, Atwood's Gilead is nowhere in sight and America remains free and prosperous. Atwood, who sells a lot of books here, could have chosen to write about a number of real-life Gileads that do indeed repress women. Afghanistan under the Taliban is one example, as are Sudan and Iran. North Korea is a Stalinist gulag where a lot of women go hungry. Never mind. America remains the preferred target. While that may seem strange, it makes perfect sense for Margaret Atwood.

Anti-Americanism is the national ethos of Canada's chattering classes, which delight in beating up their friends but praising dictators such as Fidel Castro. In these circles, it takes no courage whatsoever to tee off on the United States. Criticism of Canada, on the other hand, would indeed require courage.

Despite vast natural assets, the nation is not exactly an economic powerhouse. The once-proud Canadian military would be hard pressed to deal with any threat, foreign or domestic. On peace-keeping missions, Canada is more in a league with Bangladesh.

Canada's vaunted health-care system is the keystone of national identity. Despite praise from American politicians and media, the system has plenty of problems. It results in long waiting lists, rationed care, and a lack of the latest technological equipment. Yet, criticism of the system is forbidden, because that would play into the hands of the evil, capitalistic United States. Better to attack America, even though that’s where Canadian’s go for treatment when the wait for care is too long.

The intrusive Canadian nanny state also merits criticism, along with the ongoing constitutional crisis and politically correct policies that give preference to "visible minorities." Then there is the ongoing kickback scandal in Ottawa.

Margaret Atwood, who in her mid-60s now resembles the late Pierre Eliot Trudeau, has always written "with intent." She may well be Canada's greatest writer of feminist tracts and anti-American polemics. As she enters her emeritus years, Atwood remains an utterly predictable professional Canadian, a feminist of the most fevered kind, and a writer who styles herself as daring but prefers to indulge anti-American bigotry rather than focus on the countries that really do oppress women. tRO

copyright 2005 Pacific Research Institute




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