Citizen Action Monitor

SMACKDOWN: Canadian activist rebuts right-wing journalist’s “useful idiots” characterization of him

In his article about “Free Meng” event, National Post’s Ivison demeans Yves Engler and others who support release of Meng.

No 2687 Posted by fw, November 27, 2020 —

Backgrounder –

In a Nov, 23 article, the National Post’s John Ivison referred to Yves Engler and others who attended a “Free Meng” event as “useful idiots”. The origin of the term, as Ivison noted, is credited to either Lenin or Stalin, “who used it to describe the confused and misguided American sympathizers who aided the Soviet agenda.” It came to mind, related Ivison, when he was reading about a virtual event being held in anticipation of the second anniversary of the arrest of Meng Wanzho. To present Meng’s detention as an unprovoked kidnapping, “is to take adolescent gullibility to dangerous levels,” he said.

In addition to “useful idiots” and “adolescent gullibility”, here’s a selection of some of the other terms and phrases Ivison used to taint people and organizations:

  • peaceniks
  • duped
  • adolescent gullibility
  • well-intentioned idealists
  • left-wing organizations
  • Meng portrayed as a “Chinese billionaire who flits between multi-million dollar mansions in Vancouver
  •  Engler’s assertions are rejected out of hand as “That’s not true
  • Global Times is a Communist Party’s mouthpiece,
  • Halifax Security Forum is “radical left
  • Ivison even manages to slip in a reference to Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro as “despicable

One reader, offended by Ivison’s verbal attack, caught my attention with her comment —

“As per usual Ivison is the stalking horse for a far right agenda that would have us obsess over crumbs while the loaf is stolen under our eyes. We had to arrest Wanzhou because she jeopardized HSBC, that venerable financial institution, and its obligation to uphold illegal sanctions against Iran?”

Below is my repost of Yves Engler’s terse and sharp rebuttal of Ivison tirade; it includes my added subheadings, text highlighting, some reformatting, and added hyperlinks.

Alternatively, read Yves’ article by clicking on the following linked title.


National Post’s John Ivison is the real ‘useful idiot’ by Yves Engler,, November 24, 2020

National Post columnist demeaningly refers to Canadian political activist Yves Engler as a “useful idiot”

Who is the useful idiot? According to National Post columnist John Ivison, I am.

[See Ivison’s article: “Useful idiots of the world unite – and they have, with ‘Free Meng’ event”].

Ivison also targets other “confused and misguided” idiots who dare call for Meng Wanzhou’s release

So are others who challenge the narrative that authoritarian China is such a danger to the US/Britain/Canada/Australia/New Zealand “Five Eyes” [intelligence alliance] settler colonial states’ way of life that we must spend ever more billions on the military, put corporate executives under house arrest for Trumped up crimes and have our governments interfere in their supposedly sacred “free market” to ensure “our companies” dominate emerging communications technology. After all, we can’t take the chance that China might spy on us — that’s the job of our “intelligence services”.

Ivison and his ilk seem incapable of seeing how Canada was duped into doing Trump’s bidding

But perhaps Ivison and his ilk should look in the mirror when searching for the “confused and misguided” who are duped into aiding another country’s agenda. They seem unable to see the forest of the US Empire for the Chinese trees.

Presuming a nation’s foreign policy is grounded in defence of it’s own self-interest, in Meng’s case, what is in Canada’s best interests?

According to experts, a country’s foreign policy is supposed to be all about defending its “self-interest” but what exactly is that?

+ Was it in ordinary Canadians’ self-interest to arrest a Huawei executive at the bidding of a Trump administration that reneged on an anti-nuclear agreement with Iran and reimposed sanctions against the wishes of Ottawa, Britain, France, Germany and most of the rest of the world?

+ Wasn’t it obvious that our second largest trading partner would be angered and upset?

+ It was certainly obvious to the other countries that refused Washington’s request to arrest Meng Wanzhou.

+ It seems a reasonable proposition to suggest that the arrest was in fact not in the self-interest of ordinary Canadians, but rather was undertaken to avoid the wrath of a narcissistic president and his Make America Great Again gang of extreme US nationalists.

+ Certainly, the ratcheting up of confrontation with China was not, and is not, in the self-interest of Canadian pork producers or farmers who grow canola and other crops that are sold to the 1.4 billion people of the world’s most populous country.

+ Or to the tens of thousands of Canadians whose livelihoods are dependent on trade with what will soon be the world’s largest market.

+ US sanctions against and the banning of Huawei equipment from telecommunications networks are certainly not in the immediate self-interest of the thousands of Canadians who work in research labs owned by that company.

+ Most important, going along with the White nationalist tainted Trumpian demonization of China is not in the self-interest of the nearly two million Chinese Canadians who will face the brunt of the racism that is the inevitable result of rising tensions.

So, what would be in the self-interest of most Canadians?

What would be in the self-interest of most Canadians would be —

+ a federal government that asserted our independence from Washington, that developed a foreign policy aimed at actually doing good in the world, rather than simply talking about it.

+ Also in the self-interest of Canadians (and most of the world) would be a government

+ that treated people everywhere with respect and worked towards ensuring their dignity by supporting efforts to share the world’s finite resources fairly.

+ Such a government might still make enemies, but they [such governments] would be the rulers of countries and corporations who insist on taking more than their fair share,

+ exploiting others and

+ destroying our planet while proclaiming “greed is good, war is peace and there are no limits to growth”.

Perhaps Ivison should label as “useful idiots” those who want to be Washington’s junior partner in Empire building

Does believing this make one a “useful idiot” or should the epithet be redirected to those who believe the best we can strive for is junior partner to those who brought us Donald Trump?


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