Not long ago in Paris, I went to see a laudatory full-length documentary film about General Massoud, the former commander of the Afghan Northern Alliance. The commercial chances of the film had been much improved by the assassination of Massoud shortly before its release, and those who had seen the film were invited to write their thoughts in a livre blanc in the foyer of the cinema.

It is an undoubted, though lamentable, fact that such livres blancs bring out the banal in every human mind. The work of even the most sublime artists never fails to provoke embittered reflections on the inaccessibility of the lavatories in the galleries. And Canadians, I have noticed, invariably take the opportunity to express their desire for universal peace and brotherhood. But in the rue Monsieur le Prince, one thought predominated: that Massoud was “el Che” of our times.

There are no prizes, of course,...


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