Sticks and stones … and hyperbole (4)
Arvamus 01 Mar 2010  EWR
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“…. (We) all know Canada lives in the shadow of its larger neighbour to the south. The abject cruelty shown by Canadian soldiers in international conflicts is scantily referred to, as indeed is the utter incapacity of this country to host a major international event, due to its inferiority complex, born of a trauma being the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States and a colonial outpost to the United Kingdom, whose Queen smiles happily from Canadian postage stamps. Maybe it is this which makes the Canadians so…retentive, or cowardly…. Vancouver is mutton dressed as lamb. Take off the outer veneer, and the stench is horrific.” Pravda, Feb.19, 2010.

“The Soviet Union did not collapse. It simply disengaged, on a voluntary basis, as foreseen in the constitution. No sweat, no problems, no big deal…. It is not Moscow’s fault that the Baltic States decided to side with NATO not out of any animosity towards Russia but more so because it is good business and greases a few palms, but don’t tell Washington. It is not Moscow’s fault Georgia is run by a tie-chewing homicidal maniac who should be strung up by is balls.” Pravda, Feb.28, 2010.

These passages were written by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, a British subject and self-proclaimed “one of the leading song-writers of the 1980’s” who has been on the permanent staff of Russia’s foremost newspaper, Pravda, for several years.

Bancroft-Hinchey once wrote that the “main trait most journalists must have is modesty.” This makes one wonder what mental and moral gymnastics a non-Russian writer for Pravda must undergo to have his comments regularly published.

Let’s try to simulate his thought process as he settles in at his computer keyboard to type out the above two comments: “Let’s see…. that which irritates Canadians the most is being called inferior to the U.S. Yeah, reminding the world that ‘Canada lives in the shadow’ of the U.S. will really make Ottawa cringe. I bet they haven’t heard that one before. I’ll call Canada ‘the skinny and weakling bro to a beefy United States’. Boy, the Canucks are sure to cower with that one. And I’ll throw in a ‘bro’ to show them I know Afro-American idiom. Hey, maybe I can use ‘dude’ somewhere here.”

“Ok, so I’ve worked the Olympic fiasco to death. I’ve got to get on my regular beat now. Hmmm…’The Soviet Union did not collapse’. That’ll rattle them. ‘It simply disengaged, on a voluntary basis.’ Oops, Putin’ll have a fit. He saw the U.S.S.R.’s cave-in as the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century. I know, I’ll balance this off with some snide references to the Baltic states and corruption within NATO and I’ll call Saakashvili nuts who should be strung up by same. The Yankees will wince for sure. That’ll show ‘em.”

Watching Moscow demonize the USA has been a time-honoured pastime for a few generations. But rarely do we see Pravda (a.k.a. the Kremlin’s mouthpiece) attempt to ridicule and humiliate Canada with such ‘over-the-top’ excess. Ah, yes Mr. Bancroft-Hinchey, many think that you have a sought-after prescription for medication called ‘vials of wrath’ that elevates your conniption level accordingly.

One can sympathize with the frustration of world-ranked Russian athletes, whose trip to the winner’s podium was cut short by a fraction of a second or an elusive judge’s point. One may even understand coaches, journalists, yes even prime ministers, searching for answers in the most implausible places. But one must adjust one’s cognitive filter for crudeness/boorishness to handle Bancroft-Hinchey’s prose. One must assume it’s OK. It passes Pravda’s quality control.
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