February 7, 2002
Bush spoke last week of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an axis of
evil, some of us reached the hasty conclusion that he was nuts. After all,
Iran and Iraq are next-door neighbors and bitter enemies. Didnt Bush know
theyd recently fought a long and exhausting war, with more than a million
deaths? Didnt he know about their profound religious, cultural, and
As for North Korea, its an isolated,
lunatic Communist regime at the other end of the worlds largest continent.
The idea that its on the same axis as either Iraq or Iran is
daffy. Its hardly in the same universe.
And what would an axis of evil
be, anyway? Do wicked people say to each other: Hey, why dont us
evil guys get together!?
Evil is an evaluation, not a
substance or a quality. In the language of Thomistic philosophy, evil is a
privation of good. It has no positive existence.
And very few people, including mass
murderers, think of themselves as evil. Its always the other fellows
fault. Check out Stalin and Trotsky, or Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
So why is Bush talking this way? Well, we
now have the answer. And we should have known it wasnt his idea.
Whenever a dimwitted that is to say,
Republican president utters a striking phrase, its only a matter of
hours before a speechwriter steps out from behind the curtain to take a bow. Why
should the ventriloquist let the dummy get all the credit?
In this case the ventriloquist was one
David Frum, a Canadian Zionist journalist for whom evil means
enemy of Israel. The word axis was intended to
equate the odd threesome of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea with the original Axis of
Germany, Italy, and Japan. Never mind the minor distinction that the original Axis
really was a working alliance, whereas the axis of evil trio
arent even on speaking terms.
Frums wife, Danielle Crittenden, who
is also a journalist, expressed her connubial pride at the phrase in an e-mail to
friends, one of whom forwarded it to Slate, which published it over her
So now we know the phrase axis of
evil wasnt really coined by an American president. It wasnt
even coined by an American! You have to watch those Canadians every minute.
Theyre always trying to get this country to fight their wars for them, just
like their British cousins.
I realize that by saying this I may have made
it impossible for me to take my next vacation in Quebec. I will probably be barred
from Canada under their stringent hate-speech laws, and my rather innocuous
remarks will probably fall under that heading in their hypersensitive minds.
Ill be accused of fomenting hatred against all Canadians.
Well, let the chips fall where they may.
Canadians can go around calling other countries evil, but if you
suggest that they themselves have their little shortcomings, youre a bigot.
The double standard is flagrant.
I dont suggest that all Canadians are
evil. Ive known several who werent Marshall McLuhan,
Northrop Frye, and the Montreal Canadiens, for example. But they have their own
angle, and you have to deal with them with due wariness.
Canada is a lovely place to visit, but I
wouldnt want to live there. For one thing, taxes are stupendous
though it doesnt matter much, since the official currency is essentially
counterfeit anyway. The value of the Canadian dollar shrinks so fast you need a
stopwatch to time it.
On the other hand, Canada is a democracy and
our only reliable ally in the region. Its rich in natural resources and every
year exports thousands of Newfie jokes, which are now considered hate crimes.
Hate crimes! They are among Canadas chief contributions to Western
culture. True, the premise of the jokes is that the noble people of Newfoundland
have IQs somewhere in the Bush range. But every country has its seething ethnic
tensions, and humor can be a healthy release. The whole problem could be resolved
by giving the Newfies their own homeland.
Call me a nativist, but Im getting just
a little weary of Canadians pouring into this country to dodge taxes, take our
women, and get us into wars. Do they take us for a bunch of Newfies?