What a weird story
Take at look at this story on the Globe and Mail's website, which seems to be headed to their print edition tomorrow. It's weird in so many ways.
First off, it has an odd "news peg" -- that is, the newsy reason why a story is written in the first place. Calgary mullah Syed Soharwardy says he's "thankful" that police are purportedly following up on anonymous Internet comments made in December.
That's news? Maybe not; the Calgary Police Service wouldn't confirm a word Soharwardy was saying. And how would Soharwardy know the status of an ongoing police investigation, anyway?
Or take Soharwardy's vanity organization, the grandly named Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. It's more of a personal club than any grand council; sort of like Soharwardy's mosque which attracts about 40 Muslims a week out of Calgary's 70,000-person Muslim community (and half of those 40 are in mutiny against his financial dealings). Soharwardy hasn't even filed the ISCC's corporate returns -- it risks being struck from the corporate registry. He is actually a part-time mullah; his full-time job is as an engineer at IBM. But this sentence is just plain weird:
"Mr. Soharwardy presents his supreme council organization as a moderate Muslim group that is against terrorism."
I would understand a newspaper referring to the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada by its formal name, even if it is patently ridiculous. But to unpack the elements of that name, take away the capital letters and actually call it a "supreme council organization" is really strange. What does that even mean?
I have a hunch that the reporter, David Ebner, with whom I chatted about Soharwardy's foibles, wrote something much tougher about him, but had some of his words edited out of his article by worry-warts in Toronto. Other than taking at face value the "supremacy" of the "council", that sentence implies that something's amiss with the mullah. Soharwardy "presents" his group as "moderate"? Doesn't that foreshadow a sentence comparing how Soharwardy "presents" himself, with other, contrary facts -- sort of like what Licia Corbella did in the Calgary Herald last month? But that other shoe doesn't drop. Again, I suspect it was redacted in Toronto.
The next few sentences are just goofy: Soharwardy says he's scheduled to appear on a reality TV show about his personal life, to show how he lives his life "day to day". That's going to be must-see TV. Not because the life of this part-time preacher is interesting, but because it will be delicious to see if he can keep his mouth shut for 13 full episodes, and not blurt out his real thoughts on Jews (Israel treats Muslims worse than the Holocaust), Christians (when they helped out Indonesian tsunami victims, they kidnapped Muslim children), Canadian women (they should live under sharia law) and other conspiracy theories (when Spanish conquistadors landed in South America, they slaughtered the native inhabitants, who happened to be Muslim). It's going to be like watching a man with Tourette's Syndrome try to keep his cursing under wraps just until the cameras stop rolling.
The Globe's strange and meandering report ends with a hint of what Ebner probably wanted to write more about: that despite Soharwardy's plans to appear on reality TV and "present" himself as moderate, those in his mosque who have been foolish enough to criticize their supreme leader have wound up either with lawsuits or with home invasion beatings. That seems to be a bit more of a news peg than Soharwardy's idle musings about a police investigation that may or may not be ongoing.
But I concede that the absolute weirdest part of the Globe story was this sentence:
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Levant alleged that the Canadian Human Rights Commission may have planted the controversial postings to get the Western Standard in trouble.
Of course, I said that and I meant it. Anyone who has been following the abuses of the Canadian Human Rights Commission knows that using fake names, infiltrating "enemy" websites and even planting bigoted messages is their modus operandi. We know this not because it is alleged by any of the CHRC's critics, but because it is confessed under oath by CHRC staff themselves, including CHRC investigator Dean Steacy and former CHRC staffer and serial CHRC complainer, Richard Warman, who personally admitted under oath that he would regularly end his online comments with Nazi shorthand for "Heil Hitler".
But most Canadians don't know that -- partly because the CHRC is doing everything it can to keep its questionable tactics hidden from public view, including insisting that the upcoming March 25th cross-examination of its staff on this very subject be done in secret.
Of course I stand by my statement. And whenever a bigoted comment is left on a website in Canada, the first reflex of any skeptical person ought to be: "is this another dirty trick by the CHRC or Richard Warman to entrap their next victim?" rather than to take the comment at face value, as an indicator of any real bigotry in Canada.
If I didn't know anything about human rights commissions and I read that Globe article, I'd probably think that whoever thought there was a conspiracy by the government to plant racist comments on websites to entrap them was a nutbar on par with 9/11 "truthers". I'd think whoever said that was slightly mad, because that's just not how things work in the real world, at least not in a country like Canada.
My comment was the strangest part of the Globe story -- stranger than Soharwardy's reality TV show ambitions, stranger than the Globe's nonchalant, passing reference to violence against Soharwardy's congregants.
And that's why we need to keep up the denormalization campaign against these commissions: what they do is so severely abnormal and un-Canadian that even describing their conduct sounds like madness. It is madness, and many sane people would rather just ignore it to avoid the hassle of fighting such injustice, or to simply avoid the cognitive dissonance that comes from apprehending fascism in the midst of a liberal democracy. But I think if we don't root out this madness now, it will only expand.