I had previously been under the impression that the Huffington Post was a generally a left-liberal sort of enterprise. However, it appears that one does not win a Pulitzer these days without some token “dissent.” After all, we know how difficult it is for right-wing perspectives to be heard in our current media environment.

Enter one J.J. McCullough, Huff Canada’s resident conservative iconoclast—or something. In a recent blog, McCullough weighed in on the question of the ongoing student protests in Quebec, providing a sort of “media survey” wherein he concludes, essentially, that the corporate media is not on the side of the students. I certainly hope that you were sitting down for that revelation because this sort of hard-hitting analysis is truly rare these days. McCullough brings to bear this astounding body of evidence to convince us that therefore we too should wipe our hands of the students’ struggle. I guess the argument being, there but for the grace of Canwest go I.

In any case, McCullough did attempt to provide a “balanced” account of the debate by noting that “there are a few public commentators in Canada who are not dripping with patronizing distain [sic] for the strikers, though one has to venture pretty far outside the mainstream media bubble to find ‘em.”

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the fringes of the mainstream media bubble.

Jasmin Mujanović over at Politics Re-Spun (which is a very popular left-wing blog I’m sure you have heard of) takes vicious aim at Canada’s “vocal, reactionary minority” who won’t stop bashing students for being dumb and spoiled and lazy and smelly and all the rest of it. What you hacks should really be is jealous, Jasmin says.

Quebecers may be spoiled with rock-bottom tuition rates, sure, but that just shows how skilled they’ve been at learning to ‘wrest rights and resources away from the state.’ In Mujanović world this is a vastly more inspiring skill than, say, learning to balance a budget.

Now a couple of things are worth stating. It’s fairly ironic that McCullough uses his acrid “wit” to imply just how marginal I and the rest of the crew at Politics Re-Spun are and yet—here he is, citing my article. Generally, when I consider someone irrelevant, I don’t tend to engage with their writing. However, McCullough does seem to have come across my article somehow. I can only imagine that some sort of sonar was involved. Either that or this little-blog-that-could has ruffled a few feathers now and then. Granted, my article was posted a few days in advance of McCullough’s but the reader can nonetheless compare for themselves the social media stats on my piece and his. God knows, somebody is reading this stuff and it seems quite a few people are finding something to “like” here as well.

To wit, one should also note that several members of the crew here at Politics Re-Spun have been featured in major newspapers, given interviews to major news stations and generally produced excellent writing, regardless of its exposure or lack thereof. But I guess being a superstar contributor at Huffington Post does give one licence to behave like a braggart juvenile. I look forward to J.J’s next piece: “How My Dad Killed the Dead Sea.”

As it pertains to the debate of the wresting away of rights from the state vs. “balancing the budget” the word “canard” scarcely seems to do this juxtaposition justice. As I recall, and as I noted in the original article, it wasn’t students or workers that “imbalanced” the global financial budget and led to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. In fact, as I recall, it was precisely the so-called “fiscal conservatism” crowd which caused this meltdown. Readers will forgive me then, if I continue to insist that such rhetoric is merely a front for the dispossession of the poor and working classes by the rich. And they will likewise hopefully understand if I do, indeed, insist that we, poor and working people, likewise have a right to certain rights, services and amenities, provided to us by our ostensibly “democratic governments.”

I should also note that McCullough and I have something of a “history.” We both attended SFU at roughly the same time, where I was (unfortunately) regularly exposed to his “poignant” reactionary editorials. I even had the pleasure of responding to one myself. Alas, I suppose some things never change: McCullough is still clearly a bombastic reactionary and I still fancy myself some sort of radical. Only the size of our soapboxes has changed.

All of this is to say one thing: McCullough’s “argument” is little more than grandstanding. The fact that the corporate media has taken a critical, dismissive stance towards the students is neither surprising nor noteworthy. But like I said before: it doesn’t matter. You can spin and spin, mock and deride all you want but 200,000 people in the streets is a force in and of itself. The power of corporate media to disempower citizens should never be underestimated. But neither should the power of organized citizens to resist, either.

Those “kids” in Quebec are the most significant political movement to emerge in Canada in the last decade.  At the point at which there are hundreds of thousands of people in the streets, day after day, month after month the margins become defined by those who stay at home, to those who roll their eyes from the sidelines. And all the attempts to dismiss the economic and political realities which have necessitated this uprising will just be dust in the wind.

In the meantime, J.J. my offer of free literature still stands, friend. Keep drawing.

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Jasmin Mujanović

Jasmin is a PhD candidate in Political Science from York University in Toronto. Originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, he regularly blogs about the Balkans, international affairs and social movements in Canada and abroad. His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Al Jazeera, openDemocracy, Balkanist Magazine, Balkan Insight and TransConflict among other platforms. You can contact him through Twitter or through his personal website.

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