Musings —03.03.2014 08:25 PM—
As Russia and the Ukraine slip towards war – and as the West looks on, unable or unwilling to do anything – it’s easy to forget that nice things still happen. The birth of babies, for instance.
Everyone likes babies. They are innocent and helpless and they make us smile. Like Johnny Depp once said, they are the only creatures evolved enough to convey pure love. Their arrival, therefore, is a time for celebration.
Their arrival is not, however, a time to associate them with genocide, or anti-Semitism, or depravity. It is not an occasion to mock the baby, or its parents. All of us would agree with that.
But not all of us work at the National Post.
Some background: on Friday, Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire, welcomed their third child into the world. He was eight pounds, three ounces, and they named him Hadrian. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen immediately offered their congratulations. So did NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
With war seemingly starting in the East, and Winter seemingly never ending in the West, it was a welcome bit of good news. For the National Post, it was something else entirely.
Shortly after Hadrian arrived, the Post published a “news story” – I use flying quotes, there, for reasons that will shortly become obvious – about him. The story had no byline, and it was later quietly (and significantly) altered. But here are some of the things it said about young Hadrian.
His father is “obviously no fan of history,” said the Post, and proof was found in the name Trudeau and his wife selected. It was a Roman Emperor’s name, declared the Post, and he was “surrounded by controversy.”
He was “ruthless,” said the Post. He is also still “reviled among the Jewish community.” He committed acts of genocide, and his name is still associated with a “curse,” the Post decreed.
When a few of us saw that “news story,” we were surprised. To us, it seemed like the National Post was actually insinuating that Hadrian Trudeau was named after a homicidal, anti-Semitic maniac. And not, apparently, some other Hadrian the Trudeaus know.
I sent a note on Twitter to John Ivison, a Post writer who had earlier tweeted about the Trudeau baby and the genocidal Jew-hater. I asked him who linked Hadrian Trudeau to the mass-murderer. Ivison professed not to know. “No idea. Wire? I haven’t read it.”
At that point, a wire service used by the Post, Canadian Press, chimed in. Bruce Cheadle, a senior writer with CP, wrote: “Those particular files were not from Canadian Press.”
Thereafter, I wrote to Stephen Meurice, the Post’s editor, to ask (a) who wrote it and (b) if he agreed it was a mistake. So far, no answer.
Here’s the thing: babies aren’t political. Even if you hate a baby’s father – as we can only assume, at this point, the Post does – its birth should not be an occasion to do what was done here.
If you look up Hadrian’s name, baby name dictionaries say it’s simply a variant of “Adrian.”
If you look up “National Post,” this week, you’ll see that it means “a bunch of assholes.”