Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Just a Jump to the Left

There must be something in the water at Toronto City Hall, or at least whatever Rob Ford and his steadily dwindling circle is drinking. Yesterday morning Hizzoner da Mayor of Greater Etobicoke went on AM640 talk radio, and I guess he may have been hungry from his new "rabbit diet" so he went and shoved his foot right in his mouth and chewed on it for a bit. By which I mean he made another statement that says "really? This man is actually the mayor of Toronto? This isn't just some extended joke like Vermin Supreme's presidential campaigns?"

So far I haven't encountered a recording or transcript of the broadcast, so I don't know the context in which Ford made his statement; though I'm hard-pressed to think of a context Rob Ford would be speaking in that would legitimize it. Nevertheless, here's what's got me all wound up today - his characterization of five of his particularly strident opponents in Toronto City Council as being "two steps left of Joe Stalin."

In some respects this both is and is not a surprise - it is because you would expect that basic standards of professional decency would dissuade you from openly likening your opponents to one of the worst dictators in history, yet it isn't because come on... this is Rob Ford we're talking about here. It seems like the man barely has a filter between his brain and his mouth. I would not be shocked if his thought process was something along the lines of "Stalin was a communist, communists are left-wing and bad, my opponents are left-wing, therefore my opponents are as bad as Stalin."

Though to be honest I cannot imagine Rob Ford ever using the word "therefore."

It's been too long since I brought this flag out, but at last its hour has come around again.

Some people - most likely the scattered remnants of Ford Nation - might be asking what the big problem is. It's certainly simple to find statements like that in newspaper comment threads. If you want to see the problem, just turn it around. Imagine that Adam Giambrone, say, was Mayor of Toronto today, and he referred to Rob Ford, Giorgio Mammoliti, and Denzil-Minnan Wong as being "two steps right of Adolf Hitler." He would have been burned to a crisp within hours, and rightly so. The front page of the Toronto Sun would not have been dominated by the "dead baby found in suitcase" story that it actually is today. I still remember the "Giam-boner" Sun covers after those emails came out a few years ago - in that sort of scenario, I have no doubt that the Sun's front cover would feature a picture of him with a toothbrush mustache photoshopped on.

The fact is that neither scenario is okay. Both dictators committed horrible crimes against their people and against humanity - for Stalin, look no further than the gulags or the Holodomor - and one of the only major differences is that we were never actively at war with the Soviet Union, so we're not accustomed to looking at Stalin through the "bad guy" lens. For Ford to attempt to tar his opponents with the brush of a dictator not only speaks volumes as to his evidently profound lack of historical awareness, but the content of his character as well.

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