Preserving The Legacy


Mat Wilson

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Chapter Fourteen

Politically Motivated Murder

Law enforcement agencies lack the resources and the training to solve politically motivated murders. Moreover, corruption runs deep, and the capacity to pervert and divert the law evidently dominates. Regardless, it would be extremely naive and ignorant to dismiss the significance of politically motivated murders simply because there is no prosecutorial track record to acknowledge them. Like the fraudulent denial of organized crime when it reigned supreme, the fact that organized zealots commit politically motivated murders cannot be credibly dismissed. At the same time, common ignorance and corruption is certainly a serious roadblock which has effectively denied the prosecution of the so-called "patriots" who have established a clear record of getting away with murder. Clearly, when the politically motivated murder of a celebrity like John Lennon is matter of factly ignored by the vast majority, one gets a very clear sense about the incredible power that censorship and propaganda commands. But even as the rest of us slept, Fenton Bresler, an incredibly precocious British lawyer, debunked the nonsensical assertion that John Lennon was just another victim of another deranged gunman. When Bresler convincingly argued, [The Murder of John Lennon] that John Lennon was actually a victim of a massive, illegal domestic intelligence operation, of the sort that Richard Nixon and fellow zealots sponsored, the world should have taken notice. Instead, he was ignored.

When all else fails, history is the retreat that provides the insight and the confidence to make otherwise bizarre assertions like the claim that Vincent Foster was ultimately the victim of Unseen Assassins.Norman Angel, another distinguished British gentlemen, described the bizarre phenomenon in 1933, when he wrote:

The greatest evils which devastate our civilization and at times nearly destroy it are not due in the main either to the wickedness or the evil intention of men... We do not desire to create social or economic evils, to impose injustice and bring about war, but we apply policies in which those results are inherent because we fail to see the implication of the policies. Those unperceived implications are the Unseen Assassins of our peace and welfare.1
In the context of Unseen Assassins, Clinton aide Vincent Foster was murdered in order to create a "window of opportunity" to scandalize the Clinton White House. Rumor and innuendo "with a purpose" has a definite source, and while political predators may conceal their identities, the propaganda they disseminate ultimately betrays the fact of behind-the-scenes manoeuvres which lead the media to focus upon absurd speculation and to consequently compromise the opportunity to promote the truth. Intelligent reporters like Anthony Lewis of the New York Times may report the fact that "the political right has tried to use the death [of Vincent Foster] to attack President and Mrs. Clinton", but Lewis also calls Foster's death a suicide, and when controversy and propaganda mix, the ultimate consequence is a one-sided invitation to speculate.2 While the distortion that Lewis promotes is extremely subtle and inadvertent, hatemongers like Rush Limbaugh reflect the glaringly obvious, deliberate purveyors of anti-Clinton propaganda. Quoted in Newsweek on March 21 1994, Limbaugh said, "Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton."3 On November 22, 1983, Limbaugh even had the audacity to use his so-called "influential" television show to claim that Bill and Hillary Clinton were the benefactors of Vincent Foster's murder. According to the propaganda that Limbaugh disseminated, Foster was a source of financial disclosures that scandalized the Clintons, and he was murdered to cover up the so-called scandalous, Whitewater truth. The fact that Foster was a lawyer who protected rather than challenged the interests of the Clintons, conveniently escaped Limbaugh's notice. But that is not at all surprising because Rush Limbaugh operates on the level of Richard Nixon's Minister of Propaganda -even now that Nixon is dead.

In retrospect, the media unfolding of the Foster "suicide" is extremely enlightening. After the so-called suicide of Marylin Monroe, J. Edgar Hoover used his personal propaganda machine, the Crime Records Division of the FBI and sympathetic reporters like syndicated columnist Walter Winchell, to promote scandalous rumour about Marylin Monroe and the Kennedys. Hoover even had hollywood at his beckon call through Maurice Reis, president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American ideals, the hollywood equivalent of the un-American activities committee. In particular, Reis fuelled the unsubstantiated, patently false rumour that Robert Kennedy and Marylin Monroe were having an affair. Right wing fanatics like Frank Capell even wrote a book alleging that the Kennedys had murdered Monroe to cover up the alleged affair, and J. Edgar Hoover enthusiastically delivered a copy of the seventy-page pamphlet to Robert Kennedy. It was all lies, rumour and innuendo, but it was promoted so aggressively and so often that many people in fact believe that the Kennedys are indeed responsible for the murder of Marylin Monroe. In a similar fashion, if the anti-Clinton assault persists without challenge, they will ultimately be assigned responsibility for the murder of Vincent Foster.

The press is certainly too confused to sort out the fact from the fiction. On March 14, 1994, Newsweek reflected the general confusion through wishy washy inquiry like; "is Whitewater a chronic case of political ineptitude and inattention to appearances, or the biggest legal mess to enmesh the White House since Iran-contra? Or is it both?" The fact that it is evidently the largest politically motivated witch hunt in American history, was not even contemplated.

In April of 1994, Newsweek's cover story, ironically titled The Mystery of Suicide, was adorned with inset photographs of Vincent Foster, Abbie Hoffman, Marylin Monroe and Ernest Hemingway. Three of the four mentioned suicides are the subjects of Preserving the Legacy, and they certainly did not kill themselves. To be sure, ignorance is bliss, and Hemingway' s own wife had claimed that Hoover's FBI was an "imagined, illusory threat" even though J. Edgar Hoover practised "hit squad Justice". Regardless, suicide is supposed to be a profile free affliction, yet the subjects on the cover of Newsweek shared the fact that they were all fiercely independent-minded individuals. In general terms then, is it not more reasonable to conclude that they were all murdered because their independence could not be compromised? To be sure, generalizations are often unreliable, but the claim that they all committed suicide is absolutely absurd.

The symbolism of the Foster "suicide" is ironic -his body was found on a bluff in a civil war-era park overlooking the Potomac River in Virginia. It took a single day to rule his death a suicide -when a man is found with a bullet in the head and authorities do not have a clue as to how it got there, a suicide verdict is a relatively safe retreat. But paramedic, George Gonzalez, the first rescue worker to see the body on the scene, described how Foster was gripping the gun in his right hand and experts indicated that in most suicides, guns are catapulted up to 20 feet away from the body.4 The obvious implication is that Foster was murdered and the gun was placed in his right hand to make it look like he committed suicide. Compelling doubt has certainly made it impossible to reconcile the evidence with the claim that Foster committed suicide. Gonzalez even raises further doubt when he says: "The face was white and pale, and only a thin trickle of blood oozed from one corner of his mouth. Usually a suicide by a gunshot is a mess".5The mystery that surrounds the death of Vincent Foster has been dubbed the question that "just won't go away", and such intriguing overtones are certainly far more consistent to the fact of a politically motivated, murder/cover up, rather than to a relatively simple, provable suicide. In particular, the outrageous refrain that the Clintons are responsible for the murder of one of their closest and dearest friends, reflects the anti Kennedy-style propaganda at work -complete with the routine, sex scandal addendum -the claim that Hillary Clinton and Vincent Foster were having an affair. Despite the rumour, the innuendo and the official confusion about the murder of Vincent Foster, the unofficial verdict that Foster was murdered, is consistent. Interviewed on Inside Washington, on March 12, 1994, staunch Republican ally Charles Krauthammer said: "I have talked to two very level headed people on the Hill, who are not conspiracy theorists, who think, who speculate, based on how botched the investigation of the Foster suicide was, that it is possible that his body was moved -that the forensic evidence doesn't ad up to the current story."

If the so-called "reasonable" and the "official" are inclined to believe or to at least promote the claim that Vincent Foster committed suicide, the practise is entirely understandable. Indeed, Fiske hadn't even concluded his investigation when Robert Bartley, the editor of the Wall Street Journal, confidently dictated the claim that Robert Fiske would ultimately cite death by suicide, to explain the fate of Vincent Foster. In the words of Robert Bartley: "Now let me tell you something about the Special Prosecutor. This Special Prosecutor is appointed under the Justice Department and he is bound by rule 6 (e) of the Federal rules of criminal procedure, which you as a lawyer know.. okay, I'll tell you what it is. It says, if you don't indict, shut up. And that means that he's going to have all this subpoena power, all these documents... but he can't produce a complete report."6 Between December and April, Bartley had written sixteen Whitewater related editorials, and the insight that he offers is intriguing, despite his self-admitted, anti-Clinton bias. According to Bartley, "we are a conservative editorial page. I run the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and kind of fall naturally into the position of opposition to a democratic administration".7 Since Robert Bartley is evidently an ally of anti-Clinton propagandists, he is obviously prone to advance the hidden Whitewater agenda, and his commentary is certainly right on cue, because the flawed implications of the questions he raises are essentially a direct hit that seeks to undermine the credibility of the Clinton White House. According to Bartley, "the big suspicion about the Vincent Foster suicide is not whether it happened at Fort Marcy park and so on -the big suspicion is what happened afterwards. What happened to Whitewater documents in Vince Foster's office..."8That may very well be the "big suspicion" in the eyes of anti-Clinton propagandists, but in the face of a reasonable analysis, the big suspicion is "why was Foster murdered?", not "how can his death be used to promote Whitewatergate?" The suggestion that the Clinton White House deliberately tampered with Whitewater files in Foster's office, reflects the anti-Clinton witch hunt, which is seeking to "develop" evidence of a White House sponsored cover up. Foster had worked on Whitewater as the Clinton's personal lawyer and there is every reason to believe that the documents in his possession protected the Clintons from allegations of wrongdoing -so if anybody had a reason to tamper with Foster's files, it certainly was not the Clintons. Unfortunately for the Clintons however, Foster is dead and he is no longer able to confirm or deny the authenticity of Whitewater documents. At the same time, Clinton's enemies are selectively promoting "big suspicions" because the integrity of Whitewater files is now subject to fraud and manipulation, rather than to conclusive verification. As the Clinton's closing attorney in the Whitewater deal, Vincent Foster was in the best position to defend the Clintons against manufactured allegations of wrongdoing, and now that he is dead, the Clintons are forced to defend themselves.

In the final analysis, the unsubstantiated, widely promoted suggestion that the Clintons are guilty of cover up at best, murder at worst, reflects the pattern of propaganda that aims to restrict focus and to direct attention away from the truth. The confusion, the suspicion, the mystery and the desire to get to the bottom of the elusive truth is all alluded to through commentary like: "Seven months latter, the story won't go away. New revelations continue to dog the White House, threatening Bill Clinton with the death of a thousand cuts. Did Vince Foster really commit suicide? Or was he murdered? The irony is that the man who's hurting the president in death was one of Clinton's dearest friends."9 Indeed, the murder of Vincent Foster threatens to become as mysterious and as controversial as all the other national security-motivated murders -Kennedy, Monroe, King...

Ignorance, rumor, shock and propaganda has successfully created a "frame of reference" which measures every so-called fact through the prism of anti-Clinton bias. If, for example, Foster committed suicide, it was allegedly because Whitewater threatened to destroy the Clinton presidency and he could not stomach the battle. If he was murdered, it was allegedly to cover up the truth about Whitewater. The fact that there is absolutely no substance behind such absurd, conspiracy theories, do not appear to bother the press. In the final analysis, beyond all the absurd speculation and the ridiculous conspiracy theories, Whitewater is the first so-called scandal in American history, where nobody has in fact exposed what is being covered up -and that's what you call an unadulterated triumph of propaganda.

To date, the FBI has fared no better than the press in its tendency to promote absurd speculation. When, for example, a senior FBI investigator testified before Congress on July 29 1994, he said that Vincent Foster committed suicide and that "Whitewater" [as it is popularly misunderstood?] could have been a relevant factor. The FBI conclusion does not exactly inspire confidence because it obviously places the cart before the horse -Whitewater became a national issue after, not before the murder of Vincent Foster. Is the FBI suggesting that Vincent Foster committed suicide in order to give political opportunists the opportunity to manufacture the so-called Whitewater scandal?

At the very least, the FBI should be able to acknowledge the fact that Whitewater is about nothing beyond a politically motivated witch hunt that is targeting the President of the United States. The simple facts of the so-called Whitewater scandal are very clear. In 1978, James McDougal and the Clintons bought 230 acres of undeveloped land in Arkansas and the Whitewater Development Corporation that was supposed to manage the project went bankrupt when interest rates skyrocketed. James McDougal was also the head of the Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, and since that operation failed, McDougal's dealings were subjected to intense scrutiny. In his own words:

I was tried on thirteen counts after I had been subjected to a four year investigation by the FBI, the Justice Department and five other agencies of government. I was totally and absolutely exonerated on everything I've ever done in my life. Because in four years they spent millions of dollars looking at it. Hale [the Whittaker Chambers of the 1990's?] simply dragged me back into this because he thought I'd be a good patsy simply because I'm a friend of the President.10
David Hale was a municipal judge ["an ex-traffic judge," in the words of McDougal] and a Little Rock entrepreneur who, according to McDougal, "stole alot of money from the government." If there is any redeeming value in the character of David Hale, the press has certainly failed to disclose it. According to McDougal:
I'm saying that Hale is a con, a cheat and a forgerer. I've had previous experience where he forged documents and introduced them in court trying to get out of trouble where he had stolen some of his relatives land.11
In other words, Hale is evidently the sort of person who is inclined to pervert the course of justice through fraud and deceit. As late as January 1994, Hale was under a federal fraud indictment in connection with his S.B.A. [Small Business Administration] dealings.12In the meantime, Hale is evidently the voice behind "a ton of documents" which will produce "evidence" of a so-called S.B.A./Whitewater scandal. To the surprise of David Hale however, "documented" evidence is as reliable as the credibility of the voice behind it. David Hale does not, by any stretch of the imagination, merit any credibility at all, and the current attempt to "build a case" against the Clintons is the domain of intelligent and honest law enforcement officials, it is not subject to the "ton of documents" that Hale may or may not produce.

In the final analysis, the FBI should acknowledge the fact that Jim McDougal, the head of the failed Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, was initially indicted and exonerated after an intensive, federal investigation, and the current assault which suggests that Bill Clinton is a manifestation of the corrupt-ridden, coast-to-coast savings & loans scandals, is misleading at best and fraudulent at worst. Instead of taking its cue from the RTC [Resolution Trust Corporation], the agency that directed attention towards the so-called Whitewater scandal, the FBI should perhaps declare war upon the irresponsible, politically motivated witch hunts which are evidently obstructing the course of justice.

During the Reagan/Bush years, every government agency, including the FBI, operated on the level of a politically motivated army, and that produced a disturbing legacy which is still largely unspoken. Regardless, the Nixon-navigated Reagan White House had certainly imposed an absolute reign of terror. In particular, the Reagan administration [in true Nixonian spirit] labelled anyone who opposed American military involvement in Central America a terrorist and mobilized the entire government to engage a covert war against the so-called terrorists. In the 1960's they were called national security threats and they were blamed for losing the Vietnam war, so in the 1980's they were called terrorists, to make the fact that they had to be "liquidated" absolutely clear. The assault on anyone who opposed the war in Central America was consequently more violent than ever before. Self-appointed custodians of American foreign policy, Richard Nixon and Bill Casey believed that Central America was the battleground of the war between communism and freedom [just like Vietnam was] and they mobilized both the public and the private sector in the battle to win the war. In the process, they engaged an unprecedented campaign of illegal surveillance, disruption, disinformation and assassination. If the casualties of the covert war against Central America activists are not acknowledged, it is because the illegal operations that targeted them are unsolved crimes. "0f nearly 200 political break-ins and thefts of files reported by Central America and Sanctuary activists, not one has been solved."13 And that is a sorry statistic that does not take unreported crime, death threats and so-called murder/suicides into account.

In North America, the secrecy, care and expertise of politically motivated, criminal perpetrators, dictated public indifference. In El Salvador, the murder of anyone who advocated peace was swift and blunt. When Ignacio Ellacuria begged the embattled government to talk peace with its rebel foes, thirty men dressed in military uniforms dragged Father Ellacuria and five other Jesuit teachers from their rooms at the University of Central America and shot them to death. "The Jesuits' cook and her 15-year-old daughter were slain in their beds".14 By 1985, the US was spending more than one million dollars a day to finance such unwarranted brutality and thousands of innocent women, children and men -entire families were indiscriminately slaughtered because they were allegedly terrorists. Even American nuns, who visited the war-torn country, were commonly murdered, and instead of condemning the senseless slaughter of American human rights advocates, the government suggested that the brutality was justifiable. When, for example, four American churchwomen were butchered to death in El Salvador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, U.N. Ambassador-designate said: "the nuns were not just nuns. The nuns were also political activists."15 The repugnant tendency to promote violence against anyone who was not a right wing ideologue may satisfy the anti-Communist paranoia of Kirkpatrick, but the illegal, brutal covert war against so-called political activists, reflects one of the most obvious criminal conspiracies in world history. Marching to the tune "be a patriot, kill a priest," it is difficult to believe that most Americans supported their government's tendency to support and finance death squad justice.

Given the scope and the breadth of the covert war against dissent, the belief that death squad justice was confined to the borders of Central America is extremely naive. Having mobilized the anti-Communist forces of the entire continent if not the world, the Reagan government had developed an extraordinary capacity to export death squad justice, and the evident proof was in the mysterious crime that confronted every activist, whether at home or abroad. The covert assault was in fact so comprehensive, that it involved the FBI, the Salvadoran Security Forces, the CIA, the National Security Council and a host of private, right wing groups that had developed a well coordinated, multi-pronged assault on political dissenters.16 The existence of this nationwide license to harass, to intimidate and to ultimately murder, is difficult to grasp -a democracy is not supposed to tolerate tyrannical, death squad justice. The fact that the incredible abuse of power that unfolded before our very eyes in the not so distant past, escaped widespread media coverage, does not bode well upon the integrity, the independence and the competence of the press. Ross Celbspan, an enormously brave, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist with 30 years of experience, reflects the odd disparity between freedom and information when he said: "To this day, I am puzzled by the news judgment of peers who determined that a clear pattern of break-ins, thefts of files and death threats aimed at political dissenters is not a compelling subject of coverage."17 Most reporters were evidently muzzled by indifference and "deference to the overwhelming popularity of the President." Perhaps, if the press realized that good old "Tricky Dicky" was evidently the brains behind the massive criminal conspiracy, they would have stood up and took notice. After all, the veil of secrecy that was imposed to cover up crime, was certainly too sophisticated to even jokingly suggest that it was developed by Ronald Reagan. Indeed, Nixon was so deeply shocked by Daniel Ellsberg, the former bureaucrat who leaked the classified "Pentagon Papers", that he invariably committed all of his energy to a scheme that would discourage future Ellsbergs. Secret presidential orders that tightened the cloak of secrecy and forbade disclosure, reflected the preoccupation of Richard Nixon, not Ronald Reagan, and the genuine architect of a solution is obviously the one who identifies the problem. In 1982, the "President" consequently signed the "Intelligence Identities Protection Act," which, "while it purported to protect the identities of CIA agents, also subjected anyone who exposed illegal activities by U.S. intelligence agents to up to 10 years in jail and $50,000 in fines. The act threatened to silence journalists and government whistleblowers who have traditionally served the country by exposing illegal intelligence abuses". Moreover, the Nixon-navigated Reagan White House "signed an order requiring officials with access to certain categories of classified information to sign secrecy agreements which would require them to submit any speeches, books or articles to censorship boards for the rest of their lives."18 The excessive censorship and the aggressive dissemination of propaganda in fact dictated the course of politics in the 1980's. In particular, deference to a manufactured image accounted for the popularity of the Reagan presidency, and deference to a manufactured scandal is evidently defining the course of politics today. Either way, a triumph of disinformation and propaganda is extremely disturbing.

Clearly, the most disturbing aspect of the Nixon-imposed reign of terror was the unaccountable apparatus that provided the opportunity to get away with murder. In particular, the emphasis on privatizing the capacity to engage a covert, illegal operation, was the pandora's box of the most sinister and ruthless alliances ever conceived. While the capacity to terrorize with impunity would obviously not survive public scrutiny, secrecy provided criminal perpetrators the opportunity to operate through "a network of private, right wing groups which worked in concert with the nation's law enforcement and intelligence agency to terrorize policy opponents."19 At best, this legacy of terror produced illegal mail openings, break-ins, death threats, and file thefts. At worst, the terror culminated in the murder of particular targets. For example, the "most sinister aspect of the FBI's collaboration with the Salvadoran National Guard may lie in unmarked graves and obscure ravines in the small, war-ravaged Central American nation, where refugees, having sought shelter and a safe haven in the United States, were buried after being deported by U.S. officials back to waiting security forces."20 Having developed an international, sinister alliance that targeted and "neutralized" Central America activists, the traceless, borderless murder toll of anyone who challenged or was perceived to challenge American foreign policy was invariably astronomical. Since 1970, Richard Nixon "stressed the need for improved coordination among the agencies to strengthen their capabilities to collect intelligence about revolutionary activists" and by 1980, Nixon's unyielding will to target his enemies was honed to the point where activists were evidently murdered with impunity.21

On Monday December 19, 1988, a twenty-one year old Trent University student Naomi Harder was shot to death. Naomi's boyfriend, twenty-one year old Jose Mejia, had emigrated from El Salvador and worked for Tools for Peace, a relief organization raising funds for Central American countries. Reputed to have made "the greatest single contribution to international studies in the university's history" a politically conscious, straight-A student like Naomi was bound to impact Canadian politics.22Naomi could have been the first female Prime Minister of Canada. Instead, Naomi Harder and Jose Mejia died of gunshot wounds to the head. The crime was neatly solved in a so-called murder-suicide verdict, and the matter was soon forgotten. Jose allegedly murdered Harder because he was jealous of her and then he allegedly shot himself in the head. The fact that Central America peace activists were labelled terrorists, targeted and exterminated like flies was absolutely ignored. In retrospect, there is no question about the fact that Harder and Mejia were murdered. Young people who engage projects that they find to be valuable and worthwhile are not violent and they do not commit suicide. It is people who lack meaning and purpose, who are prone to violence. At the same time, the clandestine, semi-private, paramilitary assault upon dissent victimized idealists like Mejia and Harder, and the sinister apparatus that dispatched the terror has been conclusively labelled and identified by experienced, courageous journalists like Ross Gelbspan. In brief, if the fact that Naomi Harder and Jose Mejia were murdered is subject to denial, it is not subject to serious doubt. Student activists like Naomi Harder are commonly the targets of surveillance because intelligence agencies deem them to be a threat to the national security and they carefully monitor their actions in order to assess their influence amongst other university students.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service [CSIS] has been known to plant agents within peace groups in the hunt for "subversives" and to cooperate closely with the CIA and the FBI, and with respect to the covert war against the Central America movement, the potential implications of that alliance are unhappily sinister. In particular, when intelligence agencies are prone to attract and recruit the sort of violent zealots who seek to eradicate dissent by exporting death squad justice, that seriously jeopardizes the security of every target of surveillance. In a nutshell, if you "play the game" and you jeopardize the intent [to protect the security of Canadians like Harder and Mejia], you are the problem. As late as Friday November 24, 1989, the Globe and Mail exposed the fact that a minority of agents within CSIS were still harassing the peace movement and targeting people simply for "aiding groups involved in social issues," and that was a year after CSIS's counter-subversion branch was demolished.

The tendency to overlook the fact that Canada has not been immune to politically motivated murders has made it easy for criminal perpetrators to conceal their crimes. In retrospect however, a convenient, timely "departure" invites serious scrutiny and in certain, compelling cases, the cause of death should be reassessed. In particular, the Reagan/Bush years promoted a covert, worldwide intelligence climate where anybody who opposed the intent to go to war was labelled a terrorist and dealt with accordingly. Pro-war zealots claimed that antiwar demonstrators were responsible for losing the Vietnam war and they developed the notion that it was as important to target and destroy the "enemy" at home as it was to destroy the enemy on the battlefield. George Bush got his opportunity to prove that the Gulf War was not going to be another Vietnam, and created a climate where "media manipulation and censorship took new and sinister forms" during the Persian Gulf War.23 Indeed, George Bush proved that he was the "perfect propagandist" and the "obedient" media in Canada certainly reflected the fact. In particular, a poll taken on December 27, 1990 indicated that 55% of Canadians opposed involvement in the Gulf War, and that sort of division demanded a lively debate, not a patriotic salute.24 The debate never developed. The assault on anyone who opposed the war was too virulent to entertain reasonable dialogue. Trent University Professor Robert E. Carter reflected the frustration of anyone who opposed the Persian Gulf War when he wrote: "It is hard to fathom the extent to which the call for peace in the world has come to be viewed as subversive and disloyal activity. It is taken by many to be a fact that those who are against the war are disloyal Canadians, and serve to undermine the very lives of Canadian troops on active duty in the gulf and elsewhere... To be for peace is not to be pro-Iraqi. Nor is it to be anti-Canadian, anti-American or anti-British. It is to be for a Canada which keeps the peace, rather than joining military action too soon... War must be thought of as a last resort, not a quick fix."25 On January 14, 1991, journalist Walter Stuart wrote: "1f war comes, our reputation for decency will be among the casualties. And we don't even care." The fact is, Canadians did care, but those who did were evidently denied the forum that military strategists and play-by-play commentators were granted. The ferocious zeal to prosecute the Gulf War overwhelmed critics like actress Margot Kidder, who encountered hostility for their public opposition to the war. Kidder reflected her frustration when she said: "I've been stunned by the amount of hatred that came my way from people in my neighbourhood [in New York State] and people on the street." 26 "Baghdad Betty" was harassed, ridiculed and ultimately dismissed, but what happened to the serious, so-called pro-Iraqi supporters, whose reputation was extremely difficult to challenge? Since December of 1990, when the sabre-rattling rhetoric of George Bush and Saddam Hussein had practically made the Gulf War a foregone conclusion, intelligence agencies identified "pro-Iraqi" activity in Canada in effort to thwart potential "terrorism." According to FBI reports, 100 Iraqi agents were working in North America, including 12 that were working in Metropolitan Toronto.27 On January 16, 1991, allied forces began air and missile attacks on Iraqi forces. On January 23, 1991, Northrop Frye, an internationally respected critic who believed that "wars ought not to start and accomplish nothing when they stop", suffered a heart attack.28 On January 24, 1991, the Toronto Star paid tribute to Northrop Frye, the eminent critic who "believed that truth resides in the imagination." Peace protesters in league with Saddarn, headlined a letter to the editor by a Professor of Sikh studies. Vice-president blasts U.S. media for coverage of anti-war protests, echoed another headline. Frye's "tribute issue" was overwhelmed by the pro-Gulf War rhetoric of ideological warlords like Dan Quayle, whose boast that the demand for control of the mass media was supported by George Bush and "a lot of others", loomed ominous. In particular, reading between the lines, the Toronto Star issue that paid tribute, reflected the anti-Northrop Frye zeal that evidently claimed his life -and that is simply a direct observation, not an unfounded suspicion. Clearly, a legacy of terror exempts suspicion, a casualty of war is not a figment of the imagination and the fact that Frye's death was very timely and convenient, is glaringly obvious. Indeed, even a fool like Dan Quayle did not ignore the unrivalled blitz to control Persian Gulf War dissent, and it takes an even bigger fool, to ignore the consequences.

The tribute that Northrop Frye deserved was never issued. The "imagination" failed to identify the correlation between targets of excessive censorship and the death of antiwar critics like Northrop Frye. In particular, the press failed to explore the ghastly forces of evil that Northrop Frye always warned against. In his own words, Northrop Frye said that "our most dangerous enemies, so far, are within.. Our effective enemies are not foreign propagandists, but the hucksters and hidden persuaders and segregators and censors and hysterical witch-hunters and all the rest of the black guard who can live as parasites on a gullible and misinformed mob."29 In the final analysis, Northrop Frye was deliberately denied the opportunity to lambaste the excessive, insidious, sinister censorship imposed by paranoid warmongers who blamed the press for losing the Vietnam war and who were overcome by the zeal to prosecute the Persian Gulf War.

If George Bush is the "perfect ideologue," Northrop Frye was the "perfect liberal," and that certainly reflects an irreconcilable clash of powerful wills. According to Northrop Frye, "I have remained a bourgeois liberal all my life because the serious ideals of democracy -personal liberty, equality of speech, equality of citizenship and tolerance of variety of opinion -are anti doctrinaire ideals."30In particular, Frye condemned what he called the "psycopathic tendencies"' of hysterics and the "horrors of the police state," where scientists, historians, poets and novelists are restricted by ideological or political priorities. Having engaged a war against the socially acquired prejudices of the mob, the censor and the ideologue, Northrop Frye claimed that "on the level of practical intelligence what is demanded of the educated person is not to be able to see facts as they are, but the courage to fight. Whoever pretends that on this level there is still room for detachment and impartiality is merely rationalizing his own cowardice."31 The central principle of Frye's struggle to challenge ignorance, bigotry, superstition and censorship was the need to promote free speech, and his relentless determination is quite evident when he says:

The area of ordinary speech, as I see it, is a battleground between two forms of social speech, the speech of the mob and the speech of a free society. One stands for cliche, ready-made idea and automatic babble, and it leads us inevitably from illusion into hysteria. There can be no free speech in a mob: free speech is one thing a mob can't stand. You notice that the people who allow their fear of Communism to become hysterical eventually get to screaming that every sane man they see is a Communist. Free speech, again, has nothing to do with grousing or saying that the country's in a mess and that all politicians are liars and cheats, and so on and so on. Grousing never gets any further than cliches of this kind, and the sort of vague cynicism they express is the attitude of somebody who is looking for a mob to join .32
Frye lived his life like liberalism [social not fiscal] was the only antidote to tyranny, and having defined both the battlefield, the enemy and the likely casualty, he ultimately proved his point. Frye claimed that in all repressive societies, the most penetrating thinkers are accused of heresy and the best that a culture has to offer is destroyed, and he reflected upon the growing evidence that the "enemy" had penetrated the university itself when he said:

I have been facing groups of students for thirty years, and have never ceased to be impressed by the amount of sheer courage it takes to keep on studying and ignore the infinite resources of anti-intellectual suggestion. I have watched students resisting the temptations that came through all the disguises of the second world war, the cold war, the atom bomb, the McCarthyist witch-hunts and have finally seen the enemy enter the university itself. It is students, today, who repeat the formulas of the ignorant and stupid of a generation ago, that the university is a parasitic growth on society, that academic freedom is old-hat liberal rhetoric, that because complete objectivity is impossible, degrees of objectivity do not matter, that the university seeks for a detachment that ducks out of social issues, that scholarship and research are all very well but of course aren't real life. It is no accident that the more extreme this attitude becomes, the more closely its social effects come to resemble those of the youth movements set up by Hitler and Stalin. For the totalitarian impulse is the primitive impulse, the longing to return to the narcotic peace of society's version of truth and reality, where we no longer have to cope with the conflicts of intellectual freedom and social concern.33

The implications of the suggestion that young people of today reflect the socially acquired prejudices of adults in the past, are potentially ominous and reflect a trend of growing repression. Needless to say, an anti-intellectual attitude spells the doom of the university, and the conflict between Northrop Frye and the ever-increasing triumph of propaganda, reflects the fact. The chasm between Northrop Frye the liberal and George Bush the ideologue was indeed so extreme that if you put them in the same room, they could not possibly engage a coherent, rational conversation. Northrop Frye essentially exposed the unbridgeable gap when he said: "I detest arguments. You're going to lose any argument with an ideologue because you can only argue on the basis of a counter-ideology, and I'm not doing that." In a similar vein, the chasm between pro-Gulf War zealots and antiwar scholars was irreconcilable. In the eyes of pro-Gulf War zealots, Iraq was Nazi Germany incarnate. In the eyes of scholars like Northrop Frye, Iraq was the site of the worlds first known civilization, and like Vietnam, which was thousands of years older than our civilization, we were declaring war on a history that was not recognized.

Frye commanded the respect of those he inspired and the wrath of the special interests he challenged, and that is a sort of love/hate relationship which is subject to circumstance. In particular, under the stress of war, it is a historically recognized fact that the voice of reason is typically "exiled" because it does not necessarily focus attention upon the task of winning the war. In that respect, it would be remiss to ignore the fact that Northrop Frye, one of if not the most respected critic of the twentieth century, was involuntarily exiled -murdered. With 38 honourary degrees from around the globe and having taught at over 100 universities, Frye's intelligence was not subject to serious dispute. Frye declined invitations to teach at universities like Oxford and Princeton and taught at the University of Toronto's Victoria College for over 50 years. Perhaps, that loyalty will be fully repaid when the University of Toronto acknowledges his contribution to Canada and to the world. To date, Frye has been successfully buried and forgotten.


1Norman Angel, The Unseen Assassins, p.13-14.
2The New York Times, August 5 1994, p. A-11.
3Newsweek, March 21 1994, p.32
4Toronto Star, February 13 1994, p.A-10.
6ABC News, Nightline, April 19 1994.
9Toronto Star, February 13 1994, p.A-10.
10Larry King Live, March 21 1994.
12The New Yorker, January 17 1994, p.36.
13Ross Gelspan, Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI, p.23.
14The Globe and Mail, Novmber 18 1989.
15Toronto Star, May 23 1984.
16Ross Gelspan, Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI, p.3.
18Ibid., p.17-18
19Ibid., p.16.
20Ibid., p.218-19.
21William R. Corson, Armies of Ignorance: The Rise of the American Intelligence Empire, 1977.
22The Toronto Sun, December 21 1988.
23Martin Yant, Desert Mirage.
24The Globe and Mail, January 22 1991. p.A-21.
25Toronto Star, February 2 1991, p.D-3.
26Toronto Star, February 14 1991, p.A-8.
27The Toronto Sun, January 8 1991, p.2.
28Northrop Frye, On Education, p.86.
29Ibid., p.45.
30Ibid., p.43.
31Ibid., p.68.
32Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination:CBC Massey Lectures Series, p.64.
33Ibid., p.84.


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