So the other day we posted an item about Canada's "Governor General" Michaelle Jean taking a knife to a seal and eating it's heart. In a playful attempt at absurdist humor, we compared Jean to America's own lady killing machine, Sarah Palin. This did not go over well in Canada.
Judging by the voracity of some of the comments from Canadians in the post's thread, we sort of suspected that perhaps we'd touched on some raw, exposed collective Canadian nerve, but we'd no idea that we'd send Canadian journalists into hysterical fits of misplaced nationalism, as we did to Anne Kingston of Macleans magazine.
Governor General Michaëlle Jean is smart enough to know that gutting a freshly-killed seal and then eating a piece of its raw heart on the first day of her visit to Nunavut was likely to generate headlines. After all, how often are two such contentious Canadian bickering points-the seal hunt and the GG-served up in such a delectable package? So it was a surprise that the weirdest salvo came not from Canadian media but from south of the border. And brutish it was: "Meet Michëalle Jean, the Sarah Palin of Canada" read the headline on Gawker.com, a New York City-based media website known for its snark.
"Brutish," really? We thought that maybe we'd get a note from our editor saying that it was a million other things, but not "brutish." But hey, whatever.
Clearly there was no clue that likening the cosmopolitan GG with the Annie Oakley of the GOP is like comparing former governor general Adrienne Clarkson to Roseanne Barr. Or George Clooney to Tom Green.
What is most amusing about Gawker's bogus compare and contrast, though, is its blithe ignorance about the comedian-spewing country to its north-which is responsible for the stunning disparities between the two women. Jean, who fled Haiti with her family as a refugee at age 11, speaks fluent French, English, Spanish, Italian, and Haitian Creole. Palin, on the other hand, is most fluent in front of a teleprompter.
The most obvious similarity between the two women that Gawker failed to note is, ironically, at root of their greatest difference. Both Palin and Jean arrived on their national political stages as tokens. When named John McCain's VP running mate, Palin was touted as a brash political change agent-a promise decidedly unfulfilled. Yet Jean, literally a token figurehead with no political power, has stealthily become an agent for change-in suspending parliament, in forging alliances with the President and now expressing unambiguous support for sealers at a time when they're under cultural and economic assault. Just this month, the European Union banned their sale. Chewing bloody seal muscle (which Jean reported tastes "like sushi") won't win her friends among the European-or Canadian-chattering classes. Not that she can admit to political motive. When asked if the gesture was in solidarity with the Inuit hunters she was appropriately oblique: "Take from that what you will," she said. That would be Canadian for "You betcha!"
Now wait just a minute here Anne Kingston! You have every right to launch imbecilic rants in defense of your little communist utopia up there, but don't you dare go talking shit about Sarah Palin! Yeah, she's a complete and total nutjob, but she's OUR nutjob, okay? So back off!
Now, we reckon that it never dawned on Anne Kingston or any of the other offended Canadians that the post in question wasn't meant to be a serious analysis of the similarities between Palin and Jean, something we actually thought was rather thinly veiled, but was instead intended to be logically inappropriate in every possible way, thereby serving to not only bring attention to a truly ridiculous piece of political news from our neighbors to the north, but also to lampoon this country's blissful ignorance of all life outside of its borders at the same time. We suppose our expectations were set a wee bit too high. Point duly noted. We're also sure that an argument can be made for us offering an apology for hurting your delicate feelings Canada, but we're absolutely not going to do that.
However, we will say this—-Canada, some of us really have a deep respect and admiration for you and your people (Hell, some of our ancestors have been traced back to Nova Scotia!), but please do us all a favor and get your big, salmon-eating heads out of your asses, and lighten the hell up.