Memo to Christie Blatchford: Hire Fact-Checker for Breathy Rants
Oh, Christie. What have you done?
I wasn't surprised by C-Bomb's jingoistic and vaguely racist tirade in today's Globe. But I was surprised by the gigantic, godzilla-sized factual error smack in the middle of the article.
She's on about Islamic 'thuggery', and her primary example is how Taliban insurgents launched the assault that killed 3 Canadians from inside a school
Quoth the Blatchster:
In most civilized parts of the world, schools are places of learning, places for children, places of peace; to the Taliban, and to all those who would keep their fellow Muslims in perpetual poverty and ignorance, so that they might be made into martyrs, schools are buildings to be burned down, trashed, defiled and turned into launchpads by those who, if they understand nothing else about the West, understand that Western soldiers, with their regard for education and soft spot for children, must struggle on some level to seriously regard the school as a likely spot to set up an ambush.
There are several problems with this statment:
1) It's badly written. That's one clunky, 101 word, 10 comma monstro-sentence. I had to take a brief nap in the middle of it.
2) It makes ridiculous, over reaching statements that suggest that, simply by virtue of being Western, Canadian soldiers have a magical reverance for children and schools. That may be true for some, maybe most, of our soldiers, but there's no way to prove it as a universal trait. And I hardly think that Taliban insurgents sit around the campfire and say, "Generally, Canadian values are a mystery to me, and they confoud my attemtps to understand. But I tell you one thing I know: they sure love schools. Let's put an ambush there". C'mon, now. That's just silly.
3) And the zinger: it's just not true. In the same newspaper, not ten pages earlier we find a story written by real journalists
who are actually on the ground in Afghanistan. According to them:
Stealthy Taliban forces had formed a horseshoe around the troops holed up in a tiny schoolhouse surrounded by land mines, then launched a volley of rocket-propelled grenades their way.
So, basically, the Canadians were hiding inside
the school. Interpret that little nugget however you like, but it seems Blatchford's theory is based on an error. That's just bad journalism.
I'm not sure how to explain this little lapse. Maybe Blatchford is working on a book about Taliban indifference to schoolhouses, or is just phoning in her columns. But one thing is for sure; there's no way that should have gotten past the Globe's editors. More to the point: why is this person writing a column? I'm sure there are dozens of excellent writers who, while not having Blatchford's gift for aspersion, innuendo and rhetoric, could at least get the facts right.