Saturday, March 21, 2009


popinjay (plural popinjays)
  1. A garrulous and conceited person; a coxcomb, dandy, fop
  2. (dated) a parrot or green woodpecker
  3. a wooden parrot, or similar object, stuck on a pole as a target to be shot at
  4. A heraldic (or other) representation of a parrot
In 2005, George Galloway, UK Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and ardent "pro-life" campaigner, famously referred to his arch-nemesis, Christopher Hitchens, as a "drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay."

Someone has been trying to keep up. Defending the absurd notion that the windbaggery of Mr. Galloway is somehow a threat to our national security, a spokesperson for the virginal Jason Kenney, Alykhan Velshi, referred to Gorgeous George as
"someone who has provided financial support to Hamas, a banned terrorist organization in Canada, and someone who is, in a sense, a popinjay for those Taliban fighters who are trying to kill Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan."

Whoops, wrong usage: I think the man meant some kind of shill. But, nevertheless...

I was reminded of the famous debate that took place a few months later between Hitchens and Galloway on the subject of the second Gulf War. You can get it all here--just keep following the links. As I've said before, that encounter reminded me of a fight I once witnessed between two out-of-condition middle-aged cabbies in Ottawa, both breathing hard and neither able to land a punch. A pair of popinjays, in fact, garrulous, conceited, and eminently target-worthy. Vast sky-darkening flights of pompous rhetoric. They sounded as though they'd been separated at birth.

And now George has been denied entrance into Canada. Showing off his new skill in having it both ways, former human rights advocate Michael Ignatieff fumed about free speech and the lack of evidence that he is a security threat, but then concluded with a classic bit of Liberal-speak: "And of course if there is [a threat], as a responsible public official I will accept what security services say on Mr. Galloway."

Get used to it, folks. Conservatives, at least, make it plain; Liberals make it everything at once.

But to the issue before us now. Frankly, I find it difficult to get on board with my political allies on this one. It's not that I want him barred; it's just that I don't care very much that he has been. I know, I know, slippery slopes and hempen ropes and all that. First they come for the popinjays...

There's just something not right about this guy. There. I've said it. But obviously he wasn't intending to enter Canada to break any laws. Objectively, there's no reason not to let him in, and no reason, for that matter, to bar the CODEPINK folks either--these were blatantly political decisions by a government of ideologues.

I'm just not going to lose much sleep over this. So put me on a pole and take aim, already.

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