Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why the Yellow Journalists of the Left Are So Obsessed WIth the Fraser Institute

They just don't like its politics -- and that's about it

Ever since the Canadian government started more closely scrutinizing the activities of left-wing organizations like Tides Canada -- most importantly, how they use their charitable status -- the Canadian far-left has lost its collective mind.

Or maybe it had always lost its collective mind. It's hard to tell.

But the truth is that this isn't really about the Fraser Institute. Not really. They're trying to make it about the Fraser Institute, but that's just a not-so-clever distraction. In reality, this whole issue is about how left-wing "charitable organizations" have misused their charitable status and broken the rules.

In reality, it all started with Vivian Krause.

It was Krause who was intrepid enough to dig through the tax returns of various far-left "charitable organizations," and disovered something: that they were devoting an awful lot of their resources not to conducting charitable work, but to political activities.

In particular, Krause highlighted the miseeds of Tides Canada. Among other things, this included giving big money grants to various Canadian groups for a grand anti-"Tarsands" campaign. It also included a rather cozy relationship between Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and longtime Tides Canada vice-Chairman Joel Solomon.

They're very disconcerting relevations that naturally led to a Canada Revenue Agency investigation of Tides Canada.

And so the far-left has turned its attention to the Fraser Institute. In the last post on this blog, I attributed this to an eye-for-an-eye mentality among the Canadian far-left. But then the question remains: why the Fraser Institute?

There's nothing quite like getting it in their own words: because they despise the political beliefs on which the Fraser Institute was founded, and because they resent its success.

In a long, lingering article on the issue, Vancouver Observer "reporter" Jenny Uechl never strays beyond this simple thesis: the Koch foundation gives money to the Fraser Institute because they share a common political outlook. And because the Koch brothers' political beliefs are bad, the Fraser Institute is therefore bad. No real explanation of why, but the frantic tenor of the article is so overwhelming it reads like it was written from a feinting couch.

The Fraser Institute gives scholarships -- the horror! The Fraser Institute holds seminars -- what an outrage! The Fraser Institute offers internships -- how dare they! And despite the fact that all of these things are well within the bounds of what the Income Tax Act defines as charitable activity -- with an obvious focus on education -- it's all paraded about as if it were somehow improper.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Uechl also obviously resents the Fraser Institute for its success. Blowing her dog whistle so hard she risks shooting her eyes out of it like blowdarts, Uechl reads the roll call of successful conservative activists -- and favoured targets of the left -- like Ezra Levant, Katryn Marshall and Danielle Smith, all of whom have gone on to greater roles within the conservative movement.

But more than anything, Uechl resents the Fraser Institute's success compared to its equivalents on the political left. With a certain bitterness she notes that the Fraser Institute annually raises as much as $10.8 million in revenue -- compared to a mere $1.7 for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Never mind that the Kochs' contribution of $500,000 over several years is but a drop in the Fraser Institute bucket -- apparently the Koch foundation supporting the research of an organization they clearly agree with is some kind of travesty. Beyond her resentment of the Fraser Institute's success, Uechl can't explain quite how.

But this is how yellow journalism and dog whistle politics works. It doesn't appeal to the rational minds of its target audience, and it doesn't really care for facts or logic. It's meant to envoke deep, gutteral, emotional reactions. It's a form of journalism that makes itself well at home in the realm of the irrational and the small-minded.

Which is why no one should expect any kind of a rational explanation for why the far-left seems to think that an organization that follows the rules should be punished anyway. That's just not what this is about, and it never has been.

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