David Ahenakew, celebrity
But his later years were not so kind to him. He became a crank.
In 2002, at a Saskatchewan Indian conference, he delivered a rant about Jews. Here's part of it:
But ah, the Germans used to tell me, and I got to know them well because I played soccer against them and with them and so forth. But they used to tell me that you guys are blessed. What we know about the Indians in Canada. They are blessed. But that blessing is being destroyed by the, by your immigrants that are going over there. Especially the Jews, they say, you know. The Second World War was created by the Jews and the Third World War, whatever it is, right now that war ... that wages on Israel in the Arab countries. I was there too. But there’s gonna be a war because the Israelis and the “Bushies”, you know, the bully, the bully, the ah the bigot and so forth in the United States that tells you that if you’re not with me you are against me.
After his speech, he reiterated his remarks to a reporter, saying:
The Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war. ... That's how Hitler came in. He was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn't take over Germany or Europe. That's why he fried six million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the goddamned world. And look what they're doing. They're killing people in Arab countries.
How do you get rid of a disease like that, that's going to take over, that's going to dominate?
In other words, it was a weird mish-mash of racism, conspiracy theories, and leftist foreign policy, all woven together. So sort of like the Daily Kos.
He later told another reporter:
when a group of people, a race of people, can control the world media, then there's got to be something done about that.
So, pretty much what Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress says, but without Elmasry's fatwa approving of terrorist attacks.
What's my point?
My point is that Ahenakew is a kooky old man. He's racist. I doubt it's a deep racism, frankly -- I mean, how many Jews does Ahenakew bump into in a typical year in his home province of Saskatchewan, especially in his circles? It sounds like he's spent too much time surfing Left wing conspiracy theory sites -- I bet he's a 9/11 truther, too. The fact that he's Indian is just an interesting wrinkle -- he's basically a cranky old coot who has a long list of grievances, and the Jews are one of his many scapegoats.
Is Ahenakew violent? No, Does he advocate violence? No.
Does anyone in the world actually give a damn about what he says? No, other than his grandchildren who have to listen to him whenever they visit. But they probably ignore the old man, too.
David Ahenakew is a former somebody, who is now a nobody, who has views that are distasteful.
If a reporter hadn't been at the conference, none of us would know about it.
A reporter was there, and the resultant publicity marginalized Ahenakew even more in life, including stripping him of his Order of Canada. He was denounced nationally. He became a pariah.
And that's how it should be.
And it should have ended there, in 2002.
But it's 2008 now, and Ahenakew is still front-page news. And his nutty views, which should be in obscurity along with him, are in the news again, too. He's praising Hitler again, and hating Jews -- and the national (and even international) media are eating it up. Google News says there are 453 stories about him in recent days.
If you're in the PR business, you know that getting 453 different news stories in a week is an astounding achievement. That's a multi-million dollar advertising buy -- except that news stories carry much greater credibility with readers than do ads. Ahenakew could never have received such an audience for his views on his own.
Six years after the fact, and Ahenakew is facing his second trial for saying those bad words (his first conviction was overturned on appeal, and a new trial was ordered). I have no idea how many millions of dollars that has cost the justice system, but it's a lot. And all to persecute a man's foul words -- a man whose deeds of military service and educational reform were extraordinary. Ahenakew has never hurt a fly. But he's been charged with the crime of saying bad things.
He's being tried in criminal court, under the criminal code prohibition against hate speech. That's the only reason why he was acquitted -- because he's in the real court system. Had he been charged before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, he would have lost -- they have a 100% conviction rate.
I wonder if he'll be acquitted again. I mean, look at his words -- they're nutty, they're rude, they're anti-social, they're rambling, they're racist. But so what? Is that really a crime in Canada? (Actually, yes it is.)
In his first conviction, Ahenakew was fined $1,000. So let's say there's a great victory for Canadian justice here, and Ahenakew is convicted again, and fined, say, $2,000.
What has been achieved?
Other than the erosion of our right to have dissident opinions, I mean.
Well, there's the vast resources of the state that have been spent on him -- money diverted from fighting real crimes.
Ahenakew himself is obviously unrepentant. To the contrary -- he's surely now convinced, more than ever, of a Jewish conspiracy to silence him.
But that's not even the real achievement here.
The real achievement here is that a broken-down nobody is a media superstar, and that his odious views are receiving massive attention. No doubt, some Aboriginal youth look up to him as having stood up to the White Man, and stood his ground. He's a role model for defiance who made the white government blink at least once.
There is a glamour attached to him and his views that just wasn't there when he was a rambling old fool at a conference. Now, he's such a danger to the state -- his ideas must be so powerful! -- that the government has to silence him, using the brute force of the law.
It was the Official Jews who pushed for the creation of hate speech laws, both in the criminal code and in human rights commissions.
And what have those Official Jews achieved in this case?
They have turned a bigoted nobody into a bigoted somebody.
They have turned racist comments muttered to a hundred snoozing conference-goers into racist comments read with interest by hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
They have turned a baseless whiner into someone with a basis for his whining -- six years of prosecutions by the state being his basis.
Jews have always made the best talent agents. Michael Ovitz was apparently too busy to take Ahenakew's case. So the Canadian Jewish Congress stepped in.
Congratulations. They've created another monster -- just like Zundel, Keegstra, Taylor and others.
I know building up Ahenakew into a menace is great for fundraising letters sent to little old Jewish ladies. But really, other than that, can the CJC say they've achieved anything other than to promote the career of a little bigot on the prairies?
P.S. Here's my Calgary Sun column on Ahenakew, when his first conviction was overturned in 2006:
David Ahenakew's criminal conviction for "spreading hate" was quashed last week by no-one less than the chief justice of Saskatchewan.
The septuagenarian aboriginal leader isn't free to go just yet. He wasn't acquitted. His conviction has been set aside. The province may have at him again.
Already, a chorus of "human rights" groups clamoured for a retrial, forgetting freedom of speech -- even foolish, wrong or hateful speech -- is a human right, too.
Ahenakew should not have been charged in the first place. He muttered some conspiracy theory about Jews, and uttered some childish admiration for Adolf Hitler.
The proper response by colleagues, the public and the government should have been to rebut his absurd claims or ignore him.
He should have been socially marginalized by polite company, as any bigoted buffoon should be. But to criminalize such harmless dissension is an affront to the Canadian belief in the right to be wrong.
A retrial will likely fail for the reason the first trial failed: The law will probably find Ahenakew didn't have the requisite criminal intent to spread hate -- he was just riffing to a reporter. And should he indeed be convicted, he will surely appeal to the Supreme Court.
The zealous human rights set will transform this nobody into an international celebrity, like they did for Ernst Zundel, who was actually acquitted of his charge, "spreading false news" about the Holocaust.
Ahenakew shouldn't just be let go because bad ideas aren't a crime. He should be let go because he has become a giant placebo for the human rights set -- a distraction from real issues, real threats. He's a safe way for them to beat up on some harmless, old fool and feel pretty pleased with themselves.
Canada has real hate crimes to worry about, and real anti-Semites to battle who are far more dangerous than an old man in the prairies. We've got 17 or more men arrested in Toronto for allegedly plotting to blow up the CN Tower, storm the CBC and Parliament, and behead the PM, all because of a hateful philosophy of jihadism.
Where are the hate crime charges there?
Instead of addressing the hateful beliefs that united those suspects, the police went to extreme lengths to deny the obvious -- to deny that these men share the belief that Christopher Hitchens dubbed Islamofascism.
The Toronto suspects weren't motivated by money. They were motivated by hate of our western society and hate of the infidel Jews and Christians. Unlike Ahenakew, according to police, these men were actually planning to do something about their hate.
But hate laws aren't really about hate.
They're about abusing and stretching the criminal code to criminalize political dissidents. And, for whatever reason, radical Islam has been granted a special exemption by the arbiters of political correctness.
Why wasn't the head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, charged with a hate crime when he went on TV last year, stating that every adult Jew in Israel -- which would include pregnant women, old men, young folks at a pizza parlour or dance club -- are legitimate targets for Palestinian terrorism?
Surely that was a lot more specific than the tired ramblings of old Ahenakew. Ahenakew has some politically correct Teflon -- he is aboriginal -- but Elmasry can trump that poker hand: He's a brown-skinned Muslim from Egypt who speaks with an accent.
Is there any other reason he got away with his apologia for the murder of Jews but Jim Keegstra the WASP was convicted for his more passive anti-Semitism?
Time to abolish this foolish law.