Why I Am No Longer a Canadian Writer
Long ago, in another life, I belonged to the Union of Canadian Writers and was a member in good standing of PEN Canada. I’m can’t recall why I originally joined these guilds since I generally shun collectives of any sort. I believe I may have responded to an invitation or the urging of friends, not wanting to seem churlish. I never threw in my lot with what would have been my natural home, the League of Canadian Poets, an outfit that arranged for readings across the country and facilitated the distribution of grants and perks to its members.
With respect to the Union, I attended a couple of meetings, which I found somewhat off-putting for all the trade talk, affected posturing and conversational bromides that dominated the proceedings. Literature was the one thing that never seemed to come up. Regarding PEN, I discovered its agenda was pro-Palestinian and perforce anti-Israeli, which I could not accept. In time, I drifted away from these dreary bastions of political correctness.
All this was several years ago but attitudes haven’t changed much in the interim. Canadian writers have for the most part tracked so far left that they have disappeared from the frame of reasoned discourse. An ongoing cause célèbre is the virulent denunciation of Donald Trump and his populist revolution. Most of the poets, novelists, essayists and journalists I know, had they been Americans, would have voted Hillary. Today they would be big fans of Chuck Schumer, Maxine Waters, Cory Booker and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and would certainly have swum a hoped-for Blue Wave in the Congressional elections, as they went Liberal red in Canada.
It saddens me to reflect that our literary community has revealed itself to be a rather undistinguished lot of cultural subscribers -- and it shows in the general insipidity and predictability of the writing. Its members are almost to a man and a woman affiliates of the cultural norms and political trends of our day: pious leftists, LGBTQQIP2SAA supporters, sanctimonious indigenizers, Palestinian sympathizers, apologetic Islamophiles, BDS crusaders, BLM fellow-travelers, anti-white banshees and radical feminists. Take your pick.
Consider the fate of Steven Galloway, a revered professor, an acclaimed author and a stalwart member of the CanLit community, accused of sexual abuse by a lying female complainant and a posse of her friends. As they say, the Left eats its own. Although exonerated by an independent inquiry of all charges against him, he has lost everything: job, status and solvency. Despite his once-iconic position in Canadian letters, there is no going back.
The situation, apparently, is little different in the U.S., though it still harbors conservative presses, journals and online sites, for which we must be thankful. It is, however, open season on individuals. I’m thinking of my correspondent, the poet Joseph Massey, a victim of the #MeToo movement. Rather frivolous allegations of macho-like behavior in his earlier years have cost him dearly -- Then They Came for the Poets is the title of my wife’s Fiamengo File video on the subject. His fate resembles, in its way, that of Tom Conti’s Gowan McGland in the film Reuben, Reuben. Massey has lost his appointment in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, been scrubbed by some of his publishers and deleted from the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Society of America.