Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How 70,000 became 300

If you read some media, you’d think that Canadians are supporting our war against Afghanistan in growing numbers. Just all the nauseating hullabaloo about the “Red Friday” rally in support of the troops that happened at the CNE last week was enough to make you lose your lunch. It was going to be massive, they promised. They had the ruling Conservatives building the rally. They had the military. They had major media figures like perennial asshole Don Cherry and pre-publicity in the Toronto Sun and other outlets. This is gonna be big, they told us. Big like that “Save Canada” invasion of Quebec prior to the last referendum (that actually swung votes in favour of a “yes”).
“Organizers are hoping tens of thousands of people will gather to support our troops in a mass Red Friday Rally at the CNE grounds,” the Toronto Sun reported.
“Organizers are anticipating Friday's rally could bring thousands of red-clad supporters to the CNE. ‘If we can beat Ottawa (10,000 demonstrated in 2006), that's good news for me,’ Capt. Wayne Johnston told CTV News on Friday.”
On the Tuesday prior to the Friday rally the Toronto Scum had a headline, which screamed: “Organizers of this Friday's Support Our Troops rally at the CNE are hoping to see red. 70,000 are expected.”
Sorry guys. As you can see from the photo, they only got about 300 people. Coverage of the event said hundreds. Even the looming presence of leopard tanks couldn’t fill up the space they booked. Not too worry though, if you believe the movie of the same name, since it only took 300 Spartans in meat suits to turn the tide against those obscurantist Persians.
The utter failure of that rally shouldn’t be any surprise. The war in Afghanistan is remarkably unpopular, no matter what the government does to promote it. According to a July Strategic Counsel survey, 59% oppose sending troops to Afghanistan, as opposed to the 36% who support the policy. Between May 2006 and June 2007 the numbers of people who thought that the “price to be paid was too high” vs those who felt “that is the price that must be paid” did an absolute reversal. From 36% and 59% respectively the numbers switched to 60% thinking it was too high a price and 36% accepting it was the price to be paid. And is it any wonder, according to an Angus Reid poll, 49% of Canadians consider the mission a failure. Only 22% think the mission is a success. That’s only a little bit higher than the increase in this year’s opium crop in Afghanistan – at 17%. Of course the absolute decline of support would be anything but clear if you were to just follow the media. In fact, it would get downright confusing. For instance two articles, almost exactly the same word for word posted on on Friday. With the same information the headlines are totally different, with the first being "Canadians split on Afghan mission, poll shows" and the other headlined "Support for Afghan war effort stable, poll reveals." Somebody give Chomsky a call.
And for some reason the wonks, the politicos and the professional commentariat can't figure out why people aren't throwing themselves whole-heartedly into this Afghanistan thing. I guess we must just be stupid. “Mario Canseco, director of global studies for Angus Reid Strategies, said the numbers reflect a lack of understanding about the mission…”
It seems to me that Canadians understand things all too clearly.
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