January 2009 Archives
I see that Catscam has broken into the mainstream English-language press, big-time.
Here's a sampling:
The National Post (online); The Globe and Mail (not hot!); Ottawa Citizen (and Nanaimo News); Calgary Herald (Chinese population of Calgary: approx. 100,000); and Saskatoon (with a photo of Kinsella, with a Cheshire cat smile!).
But my favourite has to be the Liberal party's pundit, Robert Silver, who wrote about Catscam in the Globe thusly:
...his post was in no ways racist or even offensive -- at all.
Um, war room, call your office.
After days of dithering, Kinsella finally issued a half-apology. And now his fellow Liberal war-roomers are saying that there was nothing to apologize for? That it wasn't even offensive "at all"?
This is helping things?
What is the Liberal view on this? What is Ignatieff's view? Hell, what is Kinsella's view?
Was the comment completely innocuous -- nothing to be ashamed about? Or was it offensive? Or was the only thing wrong with it that it caused some political flak? In other words, the insult wasn't the problem, it's all the fault of thin-skinned, hyper-sensitive Chinese Canadians who should be cool with Kinsella's insults and learn to know their place?
Methinks the war room needs to get its story straight, as Catscam enters its second week.
Sing Tao -- a Chinese-language newspaper with a bigger circulation than any Canadian paper other than the Globe, Post and Star -- just can't get enough of Warren Kinsella. But not in a good way.
Today they have another story about Kinsella and his public statement that Chinese Canadians eat cat meat and serve it in restaurants.
This story chugs along. If you were Chinese Canadian, and the right hand man to the leader of the opposition said that, wouldn't you be incensed? It shows what Ignatieff's team thinks when they let their guard down. It would be fascinating to hear Kinsella riff about, say, Indian food.
Let me highlight the two funniest quotes from the story. First, from the restaurateur. (Sheila-Kim is how Kinsella's name is transliterated into Chinese, by the way):
YangCheng Sen Feng Restaurant proprietor told this newspaper Friday said that Sheila Kim-discriminatory remarks are offensive, the impact of the restaurant's reputation. "He the man we all know that he always talking nonsense."
Always talking nonsense? That's about right. Kinsella is lucky that the restaurateur doesn't take a page from his own playbook, and sue him for slander of goods. But it's clear the resataurateur knows nobody takes Kinsella's "nonsense" too seriously -- except, apparently, Michael Ignatieff.
But... maybe not. Look at this fascinating tid-bit, from Ignatieff's spokesman. Again. "Sheila" is Kinsella in Chinese:
Ignatieff... Communications Director (Jill Fairbrother) to this newspaper said that the volunteers Sheila is not the Liberal Party staff, Ignatieff would not comment on the incident.
Ignatieff has disowned Kinsella's comments, and won't even dignify them with a reply. Kinsella? "Kim Sheila?" Who's that? He's not even on the Liberal staff -- we know nothing about him.
That's not good enough, of course. As Ignatieff knows, to be silent in the face of prejudice is to implicitly condone it. Simply because Kinsella isn't on the party's payroll changes nothing about that -- Kinsella holds himself out as an Ignatieff spokesman, paid or not. Fighting intolerance doesn't just apply to salaried staff.
Personally, I think Ignatieff has more class than Kinsella, and that Kinsella's eruption truly offends him. I bet Kinsella has a half dozen calls into Ignatieff, none of which have been returned yet.
Ignatieff needs a war room, but not one that goes to war on Chinese Canadians -- a war in which Ignatieff's prospects are collateral damage.
Human rights commissions are in the news a lot these days. Here are a few items.
Mark Steyn to testify before the Ontario Provincial Parliament
Lisa Macleod is the first elected politician in Canada to actually start the process of reforming Canada’s abusive HRCs. Other politicians, like MPs Keith Martin and Rick Dykstra, have introduced motions. But Macleod actually grilled Ontario’s would-be human rights tribunal chairs – the kangaroos in the kangaroo courts. That was the first time any sort of political scrutiny has been brought to HRC appointees anywhere in Canada.
Now she’s keeping at it, by holding public hearings into the workings of Ontario’s HRC. Incredibly, she has invited Mark Steyn to testify. Steyn, as readers will recall, was the victim of a drive-by character assassination by Barbara Hall, the head of Ontario’s HRC, who saw fit to condemn him of anti-Muslim discrimination without the bother of a hearing into the matter. I can hardly wait to hear Steyn’s testimony. People pay hundreds of dollars for the pleasure of hearing Steyn give a speech on the subject. But now anyone in Toronto on February 9 can simply attend the legislature’s committee room 151 at 1:30 p.m. to hear him for free. I think they ought to get a bigger room.
Alberta MLA’s proposed HRC reform worse than useless
After the abominable case of the censorship of Rev. Stephen Boissoin, I was contacted by a friend in the Government of Alberta, who told me that positive reforms were afoot to the HRC. I suppose the departure of Lori Andreachuk counts, but I was led to believe it would be something more.
The Calgary Herald’s Nigel Hannaford brings news that freshman MLA Jonathan Denis has introduced a motion – a non-binding symbolic vote, not a real bill – to change how Alberta’s HRC would work. But according to Hannaford’s report, Denis’s proposal is worse than useless. I can’t find Denis’s motion on the Legislature’s website, but according to Hannaford, it proposes that:
those found to have filed frivolous and vexatious complaints (including complaints that are found to unreasonably challenge the rights of freedoms of speech, association, peaceful assembly, conscience and religion,) be required to pay a portion of the commission's procedural costs.
So that’s the great reform, eh? Frivolous complainants who use the HRCs to bully victims have to pay a portion of… the government’s costs. Not the victim. The victim can go pound sand, even in a frivolous, bullying case. The government will take the money – as a tax, really.
Of course, as Hannaford points out, the HRC itself decides what’s frivolous or not, and by their own definition they don’t proceed with frivolous cases. So, even the lame proposal above will never actually be used, because it’s a tautology: whatever the HRC investigates is by definition not unreasonable.
What a joke.
Sheldon Chumir Foundation proposes several reforms to HRC
I’ve written about the Sheldon Chumir Foundation before – they hosted a conference about freedom of speech a few months ago out in Halifax, to which I was invited as a speaker (as was the “Journalism Doctor”, John Miller). I was impressed with their devotion to true civil liberties, not the perversion of those liberties, often done in the name of “human rights”.
The list of reforms proposed by the foundation includes the following:
that free speech be protected by amending section 3 of the Act;
that the Provincial Government recruit well-known Albertans with significant experience on human rights issues to serve as Human Rights Commissioners;
that the Alberta Human Rights Commission report directly to the Alberta Legislative Assembly, not to a Cabinet Minister as is now the case;
that the adjudication of complaints be carried out by a fully independent Tribunal;
that legal assistance be made available, on the basis of financial need, to both complainants and to respondents in cases that come before the Tribunal;
Section 3 in the Alberta law is similar to section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act – it’s the censorship provision. So in that respect, their recommendation is like that of Prof. Richard Moon, who called for a repeal of that federal law. Naturally, I’m delighted by this recommendation.
The call to have commissioners with “significant experience” hopefully means that commissioners would have a command of civil liberties. Right now, several Alberta’s HRC commissioners aren’t even lawyers, yet they presume to issue startling orders affecting Albertans’ liberties, and meting out fines. Of course, calling for “experience” would likely end up meaning life-long leftist activists, like the anthem-banning principal from New Brunswick, moving in.
Reporting to the legislature, not a cabinet minister, will help with transparency and accountability. Having a completely separate tribunal would add to independence, too. And the final point – providing legal assistance to parties – hints at protecting victims of HRC bullies. Unfortunately, it also opens the system up to more abuse, as complainants will actually receive money for pressing their complaints.
At a philosophical level, I’m opposed to “tweaking” human rights commissions. In short, they’re obsolete (Canada is the most tolerant country in the world – no thanks to HRCs). They’re redundant (everything from employment law to landlord and tenant issues are already covered by other courts and tribunals). They’re procedurally second-rate (unlike real courts) and they’re infested with political radicals, without political accountability.
In other words, they don’t need to be trimmed. They need to be weeded out, by the roots.
That’s the ideal. But it’s clear that Alberta’s governing Conservatives are conservative only in name, and are loath to tackling the abuses of the HRC. It’s unthinkable that such an inert bunch would do anything as dramatic as abolishing the HRC; so abolishing its speech code is an attractive second-best choice. But anything that gives more money or legitimacy to the HRC will doubtless, in the end, give more power to bullying bureaucrats.
I haven’t read the full report, here, yet, but I’ll blog about it when I do. I should note that the Chumir Foundation’s release of their report was well-attended, including by the provincial minister in charge.
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, he does. I'm not holding my breath.
It’s been fascinating watching Michael Ignatieff’s war room handle the crisis of Warren Kinsella insulting Chinese Canadians. If it’s a sign of how they’ll operate in the next election, Liberal MPs have cause to worry – especially in ridings with significant Chinese populations, where the Liberal candidate just scraped by. I’m thinking, for example, of Ujjal Dosanjh in Vancouver South, who beat a Chinese Canadian candidate by less than a hundred votes; or Andrew Kania in Brampton West, who won a multicultural riding with less than a 250 vote margin; or even Keith Martin, in Esquimalt Juan de Fuca who won with less than a 100 vote gap. It’s not just Chinese Canadians who are upset by Kinsella’s smear, of course – any Canadian who believes in tolerance and treating minorities with respect would be mad. But those MPs in challenging ridings ought to be particularly nervous.
Here’s the arc of the war room’s response.
1. Denial. When Chinese Canadians started reacting to Kinsella’s slur late this week, Ignatieff’s war room ignored the matter. Of course it did – it’s not plugged into Canada’s ethnic communities, especially the Chinese community. The Ignatieff war room basically watches CTV Newsnet and CBC Newsworld, and searches Google News. That’ll do when it comes to tracking mainstream news. But the Chinese-language earthquake that was rocking Canada was completely undetected by Ignatieff’s team. That delayed their response by at least a day.
2. Cover up. Amazingly, the first thing Ignatieff’s war room did when they finally realized the slur was a big deal politically, was to try to “hide” the evidence of it. Kinsella took the offending blog post and video down from his website. But that’s just not how the Internet works. Not only does Google still have a cache of his blog entry, but before Kinsella realized he was in trouble, a number of people had simply copied or saved his utterances. So taking them down didn’t hide what he had said; it merely showed that he was embarrassed by what he had said, and that he either doesn’t know how the Internet worked, or didn’t care that he was insulting the intelligence of those who do, and would see his cover-up as a second insult – an attempt to trick those who he had already insulted. Seriously, for someone who claims to be an Internet guru, he is exceptionally naïve – like this time, when he seemed to think a Nigerian scam-mail letter was real; or this time, when he bought into an Internet hoax about cell phones – and then deleted his embarrassing responses to same. I wonder if Kinsella has liquid paper all over his computer screen.
3. Lash out at others. Once Ignatieff’s team realized that the insult was causing a ruckus, and after their ham-fisted attempts to pretend that the insult was never made, Kinsella did what he does best: he lashed out, in an attempt to switch the subject. Hilariously, he referred to a Canadian Alliance candidate from nine years ago who had made an anti-Chinese slur, too. I’m not quite sure how that argument is supposed to work. “Sure, I disparage Chinese people. But other people do, too!” But Kinsella’s example – candidate Betty Granger – was different from Kinsella in a key way: she actually resigned from her position. That’s how these stories are supposed to end – with a realization that racial slurs are wrong, and an act of contrition. If only Kinsella had the integrity to do that, instead of to desperately try to blame anyone else for his own foul mouth. I don’t speak Chinese, but I’m guessing that Kinsella’s lame attempt to switch the subject didn’t assuage the bevy of Chinese talk radio stations that were feasting on him today.
4. Issue a non-apology. When the first three attempts didn’t work – denial, cover-up, lashing out – there really wasn’t anything else to do other than issue an apology. The story had already gone on for two and a half days, an achingly time. So Kinsella published an apology, in Chinese script, on his website. A Google translation of the text is pretty choppy, but you get the picture:
A friend of China: moral generated from the "Asian invasion" of the people of his speech? That is ridiculous. Why not condemn the gentleman said that his party? Or, recently, for immigrants than for the conservative candidate for the criminals? Or other cultural ON MPP Randy Hiller description such as "asphyxia and control"? Or originated in the reform of the League of Conservative MPs or candidates at random which of the other examples of stubborn? Job was when I was in court, refused to oppose the catastrophe and the white supremacists of the week increased by Ottawa. I am writing a book against racism and anti-racism has been the work of the Award. I am from a conservative candidate unqualified opposition of racism do not need any lessons. However, to this vibrant community in China, I apologize.
That’s just a classic. Political insiders might be able to figure out most of what Kinsella meant – the insider references, the self-serving bumf about being an anti-racism hero. But I would hazard a guess that not one in a hundred “severely normal” Chinese Canadians – especially those whose first language was Chinese – would understand what Kinsella was going on about. I’d guess that quite a few of them would even think that some of those insults listed were actually uttered by Kinsella himself, for he is unclear as to who actually said them, or anything else, really.
A real apology would have consisted of just the last sentence, and maybe an acknowledgement and explanation of why what he said was insulting and wrong.
Is this the template for how Ignatieff will handle other crises in the future? No campaign is error-free; no chatty politician, let alone a team of them, can get through a campaign without making gaffes. A war room cannot stop gaffes from happening, but they can try to defuse them as soon as possible. Kinsella turned a one-day minor story into half a week and counting – and his blamestorming “apology” will only irritate anyone who actually reads it, though I’m not sure the 200,000+ readers of Sing Tao are all clicking their way over to Kinsella’s site right now.
Kinsella’s job in the war room is to put out fires in the Liberal Party – not to start them. But given his hot temper, his vulgar language, and his poor judgment, it’s unlikely that this eruption is the last one from him. If it had been another Liberal who had uttered the “cat meat” comment, Kinsella might have reacted more coolly; but his own ego is in play, and he just couldn’t bring himself to show the contrition that he would surely have demanded from any other Liberal who had made the error.
What a fascinating snapshot into how Ignatieff’s war room works – and doesn’t work.
Is the story over yet? Not by a long shot. David Akin reports that Jason Kenney, the Minister of Multiculturalism, Citizenship and Immigration, is going to the very restaurant that Kinsella slandered, to present its owner with a “Minister's Award for Culinary Excellence in Multicultural Cuisine” – no doubt with one or two Chinese newspapers reporters in tow, and maybe a camera or two.
A cool-headed Liberal Party would roll over and play dead right now, realizing that anything they say will only keep the story going. But “cool-headed” and “Kinsella” are two words that don’t really go together that often. Case in point: at the bottom of his half-hearted attempt at a conciliatory apology, Kinsella couldn’t help but to add an update, smearing Alice Wong, a Chinese Canadian MP who criticized him. A calmer war roomer would realize that most Chinese Canadians – like every other Canadian – aren’t rabidly partisan. They’re probably pretty proud of Alice Wong becoming an MP, whether they’re Conservative or not. And for Kinsella to apologize for his cat meat comment one moment, and trash a Chinese Canadian MP literally the next moment, only digs the hole deeper. He comes across as angry and anti-Chinese – and it makes the half-apology seem even more obviously in bad faith.
What a fascinating story. I know why Kenney is keeping it alive. But I don’t know why Ignatieff is letting Kinsella keep it going.
Postscript: Here's the video of Kinsella -- though I'm sure he'll try to get it taken down from YouTube. (Question: given that it was his own words that hurt his reputation so badly, will he sue himself for defamation?)
Watching that again, I can understand why Chinese Canadians are insulted. But listen to his remarks about having girlfriends to do the cooking for him and his buddies. Oh -- so that's what women are for. Old habits die hard, I guess -- it's not the first time Kinsella talked about women being put in their proper place. That's quite a lot of content jammed into a short video clip -- he really is a master communicator.
Earlier this month, Michael Ignatieff's campaign aide, Warren Kinsella, wrote that he had eaten "BBQ cat" at a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa. Of course, that's not true -- it was just Kinsella's pejorative jab at what Chinese Canadians eat.
Now, most normal people would call that a slightly off-colour joke. But Kinsella isn't "most people". He's a politically correct censor, who doesn't hesitate to accuse his political rivals of racism at the drop of a hat.
Perhaps Kinsella just didn't have his human rights radar on. After all, the Liberal caucus doesn't have a single Chinese-Canadian MP in it, so maybe he just let down his guard. Maybe it was Kinsella's trademark vulgarity -- his website is littered with profanity and insults. Or maybe Kinsella thought he was "kicking ass" somehow, to borrow the title of one of his books. In the past, that ass-kicking has included attacking a Christian who believes in the Book of Genesis, and attacking a young woman who dared to enter the man's world of politics. Christians, women, Chinese -- who's next?
Realizing the staggering political stupidity of his unfunny joke, Kinsella quickly deleted it from his website, but not before plenty of people saved it. That attempt at revising history is an indicator that Kinsella knew that he had said something beyond the pale. You can see a snapshot of Kinsella's blog on the subject at Kate's website, here.
David Akin, CanWest's National Affairs correspondent, wrote that Kinsella's racist gaffe was "likely to make headlines on blogs only." Well, that was true in the English language press. But the Liberal party's slur received massive coverage in the Chinese media -- where it counts in this case.
Here's the huge Sing Tao newspaper -- with a readership of over 200,000, making it one of the largest newspapers in the country -- with a story on the subject, including a hilarious screen shot of Kinsella looking very white and very old (see screen capture, above). They actually ran two separate stories on the subject, including this one on Jason Kenney's criticism of Kinsella's bigotry. That's about as many column inches as they gave the whole budget.
Here's another major Chinese-Canadian newspaper's coverage of the Liberal slur. And another. And another. Here's another newspaper that put the story on the front page. The photo of the Chinese-Canadian Conservative who criticized Kinsella was almost as large as the photo of Ignatieff.
Those are just the print media. Chinese language Fairchild Radio and A1 Chinese Radio also went full tilt on the subject as a talk radio subject -- and more Chinese language talk shows are scheduled for Friday.
That's not a bad day's work for the master spin doctor -- and he's probably oblivious to it. On what was supposed to be Ignatieff's big day, Kinsella made himself the story -- and added another layer of evidence that the Liberal Party is not a friendly place for Chinese voters -- a lesson the Liberal Party repeatedly teaches, through masters like Kinsella and Mike Klander.
But Sing Tao and the others had better watch out. Because Michael Ignatieff's campaign has a nasty habit of trying to sue journalists into silence if they ask embarrassing questions.
You see stories of this kind of politically censorship so often these days, they're starting to lose their ability to shock: a New Brunswick elementary school principal has banned the morning singing of O Canada.
Singing O Canada is how most schools in the district start their day. At Belleisle Elementary School the anthem had a special meaning: Kara and Julia Boyd, two sisters at the school, had a cousin in the Canadian Forces who died fighting in Afghanistan. To the girls and their friends, it was a beautiful and natural display of patriotism -- and remembrance of their cousin.
The principal, Erik Millett (the hipster sporting the soul patch, pictured at left), gave a strange explanation for his decision to ban the anthem. He claims that some parents objected to the singing of the anthem, and so he cancelled it for everyone. When pressed for details about these purported complaints, Millett refused to give any details, claiming "privacy" reasons.
Of course, if there really were anti-anthem parents, they could have been told that the anthem is part of the school's program, and it was staying. Or they could have been told that they could exempt their own children from that three-minute exercise. Cancelling the entire thing -- based on mystery complaints that no-one else seems to have heard about -- is clearly the act of a rogue principal with his own agenda, not the result of any genuine parental concern.
"We try to balance the needs of every student, and we want every student to feel welcome in our school," Millett said.
"If we need to make some accommodations or exceptions, then we'll try to put those in place regardless of what the issue is."
That's perfect politically correct clap-trap. "Balance the needs of every student?" Is there a student who needed to have the anthem banned? I can understand that if, say, there were a Taliban family in Belleisle, New Brunswick, they might be accommodated by being allowed to skip the song. But how is shutting it down for the rest of the kids making everyone feel welcome? It's just PC BS.
But, really. Is it that hard for reporters to take a few seconds and hit Google to find out more about the anthem-banning principal? (UPDATE: I saw CTV's report on this story tonight, and they mentioned Millett's Green Party history.)
For starters, Millett is a serial candidate for the radical Green Party. Here's his website, where he describes his experience as:
a lobbyist and social activist on a number of important national and international issues, including: the anti-apartheid movement, the environment, homelessness, human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, the liberation of East Timor, nuclear disarmament, as well as being actively involved in the peace movement.
Gee whiz. A radical disarmanent peacenik orders two girls, whose cousin died fighting in Afghanistan, to stop singing the anthem in his memory. And the media buys the line about anonymous "parents" objecting?
Here's a local story from from when Millett ran in the 2004 federal election. He describes his philosophy and role models thusly:
I am: an ally for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered persons; anti- racist; pro-feminist and a pacifist at heart. My political influences and inspiration are drawn from: Ernesto (Che) Guevera, Noam Chomsky, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Audrey Lorde, Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz), Aung San Suu Kyi and Dr. David Suzuki among others.
This is the man in charge of an elementary school.
During one all candidates debate, he took on the local Conservative MP, Greg Thompson -- for the U.S. war on Iraq. The other candidates wore suits. Millett wore a fake biohazard suit, to "wow" the crowd. The amateur thespian lost the room, though, according to this news report:
...by handing Mr. Thompson a list of potential jobs his kids could get in Iraq and a box of garbage bags, he said, for their body parts, the crowd turned.
Did you get that? Millett gave Thompson garbage bags... as bodybags for his kids. That's a little creepy, especially from someone who is now a principal.
But Kara and Julia Boyd, the two gagged anthem-singers, might take something from Millett's self-righteous fight-the-power mission.
According to this biographical sketch, Millett believes that students should even break the law, if they think they're right -- and even go to jail:
The arrests happened in the 1980s in Ottawa when Mr. Millett was a student protester. He was
exercising civil disobedience - once at an arms conference and once at a First Nations protest against low-level flights over Labrador.
"There's many ways to be political," Mr. Millett said of the experiences and of his wish that more Canadians would stand up, even go to jail, for their beliefs.
How ironic: the fight-the-power punk rocker/amateur actor who idolizes anti-establishment rebels is now a low-level bureaucrat in a small school in a small town, who has become every bit the censorious petty tyrant he claims to despise.
Those two girls? They should sing O Canada every morning, right outside Millett's office. And when Millett condemns them, they should invoke Gandhi -- or even Millett's more violent idols, like Che Guevara or Malcolm X. Maybe they should fight the power on this one. I think those two little girls would win that contest of wills. They're more of a man than Millett is.
P.S. Don't get me started on this story, either: Canada Post workers being told that they can no longer start their day, as they have for 25 years, with the invocation: Merci Seigneur pour la belle journee (Thank you Lord for the beautiful day). More stupid censorship, from petty bureaucrats. More baloney excuses, justifying a politically correct edict. How bold and brave those censors are, picking on a five-second slogan. It's a cowardly act, really; it's unthinkable that the PC police would, say, order Muslim workers to stop saying their prayers.
Millett, and the Canada Post bosses in Cornwall, are junior human rights commission bullies in training.
Without any further ado, here is his latest column on freedom in Canada -- with generous words for my online campaign against the human rights commissions. Some excerpts:
In a crowded year for news such as 2008, there was one subject of vital importance for Canadians that did not receive sufficient media and public attention.
This is the grassroots campaign supporting freedom of speech unconstrained by the coercive arm of the state -- the federal and provincial Human Rights Commissions (HRC). It is truly bizarre that in the 21st century such a campaign has to be organized in one of the oldest liberal democracies.
...the Canadian state armed the federal HRC -- provincial governments have followed Ottawa -- with section 13 in the Canadian Human Rights Act to penalize speech if it is "likely" to expose someone to contempt or hatred even though it might not be proven in court....In this campaign to keep free speech free Ezra Levant, lawyer, journalist, publisher, bon vivant, having experienced the Canadian version of HRC inquisition, has become the leader. He has emerged as Canada's Emile Zola, marshalling the arguments and eloquently making the case in his blog -- Ezra's blog is a must read on this subject -- of how the HRC censors ignominiously subvert Canadian democracy.
A just cause rallies free individuals and Ezra Levant stands at their head as a growing cadre of bloggers make this cause of keeping free speech free in Canada their own.
There are individuals such as Kathy Shaidle. Her little book on the subject, The Tyranny of Nice, has become an underground hot item across North America.
And then there is the inimitable Mark Steyn, a Canadian voice for uninhibited and critical discourse on politics and culture, gone global rallying his resources behind this cause.
Many of these individuals are without deep pockets -- such as Mark and Connie Fournier operating the online forum Free Dominion -- and while harassed by the HRCs have stepped into the breach defending free speech in Canada.The big shameful question remains where are the politicians?
The mob comes week after week.
At the last hate march, one of Hage's followers declared -- within earshot of a policeman -- that he was ready to become a suicide "martyr" in Canada or anywhere else. Another one spat at a Jewish rabbi on the way to the next-door synagogue.
Soharwardy himself wrote a proud letter to the Calgary Herald, wishing that Hamas could see their rally. Soharwardy tends to say things like that. After the tsunami, Soharwardy claimed that Western aid agencies were actually kidnapping little Muslim children, not helping them.
What a bunch of bigots.
What puzzled me about the whole thing, though, was that it was all going on on private property. The mall is owned by RioCan. Like all such malls, the owner invites the public onto their property to do business. But it is not an unconditional invitation, and it is not irrevocable. 200 shoppers bused in from across town is one thing; but 200 Hamas supporters blocking tenants and screaming at Jewish customers is something else altogether.
On Friday -- finally! -- RioCan went to court. (I contend that a court appearance was never necessary; RioCan doesn't go to court when skateboarders loiter -- they just tell the trespassers to leave or they'll call the cops.) RioCan appeared before Justice C.S. Brooker of Calgary's Court of Queen's Bench. Justice Brooker granted an injunction banning Hage, Soharwardy and all of the other trespassers from the mall.
That order was posted conspicuously at the mall, where the mob typically gathered.
And on Saturday at noon, they started to gather again.
The Jew-hating Hamas supporters showed up, as per usual. But this time -- for the first time -- the Calgary Police Service didn't act as the mob's bodyguards. They pointed to the court order, and told the Hamas supporters to leave.
And after some grumbling, they did.
In fact, there were never more than 30 Hamas supporters there at any one time, and they were there only briefly.
No Jews were spat at.
No terrorist flags were flown.
No swastikas were thrust in the face of Jewish tenants or customers.
Hage and Soharwardy are surely not done. The fact that their bigoted rally was planned for this weekend -- though Israel's incursion into Gaza was long over by then -- shows that this really wasn't about Gaza at all. It was about exactly what their signs and chants said it was about: hating Jews, destroying Israel, and -- as per their chant -- "death to the Jews".
The fact that it was planned for a Saturday, a block away from a Jewish synagogue, shows they meant to emphasize the anti-Jewish nature of their march.
Is this a happy ending?
In a way it's a happy ending -- if three weeks too late.
But the question is: why did it take a court to have to make that order?
Why were local politicians silent about this display of bigotry, week after week?
Why did the Calgary Police Service permit this unruly mob onto private property in the first place? Why were trespass charges not laid against them weeks ago? Why did the police do nothing when a pro-Israel counter-protester had a shoe thrown at him, and when a rabbi was spat at? Why were assault charges not laid against them?
The answer is obvious: local politicians have done their math. There are only 8,000 Jews in Calgary, and more than 75,000 Muslims. Denouncing anti-Semitic bigotry is fine for politicians when the bigots are politically powerless neo-Nazi skinheads. When they're radical Muslims, funded by Saudi Arabia, the politicians fall silent.
Same for Canada's Orwellian human rights commissions. They claim to be against "hate". They're awfully brave at taking on Christian clergy who preach the Bible's "hateful" Book of Leviticus. But notice their cowardly silence in the face of mass hate marches in the streets. Jennifer Lynch is probably off on some other five-star junket to study how Cameroon keeps their people so free.
The police aren't much better: it's easier to tell a handful of pro-Israel supporters to leave than to tangle with 200 angry Muslim radicals. It's not only the politically correct thing to do, it's just plain easier. I mean, really: who's more likely to throw a molotov cocktail at you, or stab you -- a few middle-aged Jews, or some just-off-the-plane radicals from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, here to promote sharia law?
A friend sends me this news from Sweden: there was a pro-Israel rally that was crashed by Hamas supporters. The Jews had a protest permit; the terrorist supporters did not. The Jews were peaceful; the terrorist supporters cut the P.A. system, and:
"At some point, about a half an hour after the protest began, pro-Palestinian protestors began to throw eggs, bottles, and even a tear gas grenade," Meier recounted.Got it? A peaceful Jewish protest was physically attacked. The police response was to clear away the Jews. That's one step worse than police in Canada, but not a very big step.
...police stepped in and asked the unruly protestors to leave. Officers then proceeded to clear the square of all present, including those who had received permission to demonstrate.
Bigots like Soharwardy and Hage used the Israel-Hamas war as a fig-leaf to justify their hate marches. But it wasn't about that -- that was just the excuse of the day. Hage and Soharwardy have a permanent anti-Semitic campaign, a campaign to undermine the West, to support terrorist groups that would destroy Canada, and to bring in sharia law, to replace our Canadian constitution.
Hage and Soharwardy won't be back at the mall in Glenmore Landing. But they're certainly not done their foul mission yet -- and as long as our political, media and police establishments continue to treat them as polite company, they'll keep right at it.
Of course, the goal is to make Afghanistan safe for people like Masoda Younasy. Folks like Taliban Jack would hand the country over to Younasy's would-be assassins.
I know whose side I'm on.
I was impressed with Michael Ignatieff’s unequivocal support for Israel’s defensive war against Hamas terrorists and their missile attacks against Israeli civilians. It was a welcome change from Ignatieff’s slanderous charge that Israel had commited war crimes in its 2006 defensive war against Hezbollah terrorists, and their missiles.
But is Ignatieff going wobbly?
In his new shadow cabinet, Ignatieff promoted the execrable Denis Coderre to the post of defence critic. Coderre proudly marched in an anti-Israel rally where Hezbollah flags were openly flown. Coderre was also promoted to be Ignatieff’s Quebec lieutenant. Mark Holland, another anti-Israel Liberal (skim through this appalling newsletter for several examples), is on the Public Safety/National Security portfolio.
And Irwin Cotler, the Liberal party’s human rights expert, and an ally of Israel, was fired from the shadow cabinet altogether.
Is Ignatieff backsliding? How much longer before he dusts off his 2002 proposal – that the U.S. should send in troops to force Israel to stop defending itself? Some excerpts from Ignatieff’s article:
Ignatieff comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa:
When I looked down at the West Bank, at the settlements like Crusader forts occupying the high ground, at the Israeli security cordon along the Jordan river closing off the Palestinian lands from Jordan, I knew I was not looking down at a state or the beginnings of one, but at a Bantustan, one of those pseudo-states created in the dying years of apartheid to keep the African population under control.
Ignatieff comparing Israel to France’s treatment of Algerians (who were massacred by the tens of thousands):
Repressing a population bent on national independence destroyed the French Fourth Republic in Algeria, and it will kill Israel.
Ignatieff’s belief in the moral equivalence between Israelis and Palestinian terrorists:
Eighteen months of extremism on both sides ought to return everyone to the realities: that loveless coexistence and separation within two secure states is the only political future that does not involve the indefinite sacrifice of the young people on both sides in a mutually reinforcing death cult.
That’s just amazing. Israel, whose unofficial motto, “chai”, which means “life”, is an extremist death cult on par with suicide bombers who target civilians.
… neither side is capable of making peace, or even sitting in the same room to discuss it.
Israel is not capable of making peace? Israel gave up more than 50% of its land mass, including oil reserves, to Egypt in return for peace. Israel offered the West Bank and Gaza to Yasir Arafat in 2000, and the U.S. offered to sweeten the deal with billions of dollars, in return for peace – an offer Arafat rejected, in favour of another intifada. Does Ignatieff not know that the charters of both Hezbollah and Hamas call for the destruction of Israel?
That’s the bad old Ignatieff, the “Israel is a war criminal” Ignatieff. It’s been Ignatieff’s fashionable view for most of his life – until last month, when he boldly stood by Israel, rejecting the growing anti-Israel wing of his party.
Ignatieff’s reward of Coderre and Holland, two of his party’s worst Israel-haters, and his demotion of Cotler, should be a concern to all fair-minded Liberals, and to Canadians who had hoped that Ignatieff had ended the anti-Israel detour permitted under Stephane Dion.
Here's what Barrel Strength wrote:
At the request of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice has created a departmental committee to examine section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. This is the section which bans hate messages distributed by the Internet. Members include lawyers from various branches of the department of Justice, including constitutional, human rights, criminal and Industry Canada branches.
I was excited by that news for a number of reasons, but the blog didn't cite any source for the news, not even indirectly. Although a number of other pro-freedom blogs ran with it, I wanted to confirm the news directly.
I'm pleased to say that I have received confirmation from a senior source at Justice that in fact such a review is underway. I understand that the report could be complete as soon as a month from now. It is unclear what will be done with the report -- whether it will simply be private advice to the Justice Minister and Prime Minister, or given to the Parliamentary Justice Committee for a public follow-up, or even form the basis of a bill.
There is good and bad news here.
The good news is bigger.
The good news is that the issue is still very much alive on Parliament Hill, and not just at the caucus level. Some skeptics had interpreted the Prime Minister's recent interview in Maclean's magazine as closing the door to reform of section 13, given his statement that he had "no plans" to reform it -- though in the same interview he denounced human rights commissions as "egregious", "abusive" and "out of balance". My interpretation of those remarks (which I wrote about here) was literal: that he had no plans at the moment, but that he wasn't ruling out getting such plans. And, given his distractions of late -- a global economic crisis, and an attempted Parliamentary putsch -- it seemed fair that the man focus on other priorities.
So I'm pleased with this news out of Justice -- it confirms that the momentum is still on our side, and that the PM's cautious way of speaking need not be interpreted in the most negative way possible.
There is another advantage to an internal review -- it is immune to the procedural shenanigans that have befuddled the Justice Committee. Like all other Parliamentary committees, the governing Conservatives have only a minority of seats on it. The problem wasn't that the Justice Committee members from other parties were hostile to reforming section 13; it's that the committee was so dysfunctional in general -- it had become a proxy battleground for disagreements between the government and opposition that, frankly, the opposition didn't want to turn into confidence matters in the House of Commons proper.
So, though Conservative Justice Committee member Rick Dykstra had indeed proposed his own review to that committee last fall, the committee never actually got around to dealing with it -- it was the victim of bickering that ground the committee to a halt.
An internal departmental review will avoid that problem.
But: an internal departmental review will only draw upon opinions within government. There are a diversity of views in the government, and the review seems to be drawing on different branches and different departments altogether. But that is not a full spectrum of opinion, including critical opinion by the people who have been abused by section 13. Frankly, it's not much more independent than the CHRC's token review undertaken by their hand-picked consultant, the well-paid Professor Richard Moon. Then again, Moon surprised everyone -- the CHRC most of all -- by calling for the repeal of section 13.
Perhaps there are critical voices within the bureaucracy. But it is a shame that there are not public hearings, as would happen with the Justice Committee, where outside experts and members of the public could participate. The CHRC's many victims will not be heard.
Another concern -- my biggest, actually -- is that the CHRC will mislead any Justice Department review, an no-one will be there to catch them. The CHRC has shown themselves untroubled by withholding key information, by breaching their own legal requirements as set out under their statute, and by breaching other laws, such as national privacy laws and access to information laws. They don't even have an internal ethics code. How do they feel about honesty over there? Put it this way: they hired a corrupt ex-cop, drummed out of her police force as bad news.
In other words, besides the inherent bias in an internal review towards keeping section 13 (a bias one might expect from bureaucrats and lawyers who work for the government) there is a worry that the CHRC will misrepresent key facts about its conduct, and those misrepresentations will happen in private, and won't be detected by the reviewers.
We need to know more about this review, and I'll keep poking around. I'd like to know who the final author of the review is, and its destination. I'd like to know who is consulted for it. But in the meantime, I'm just happy that the reform train is still chugging down the track!
You can read the English page of the court's website announcing the decision here.
It is a national suicide note, a white flag of surrender flown by a once-great empire in the face of illiberal fascists and hoodlums. It is a homicide note, too -- announcing the murder of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. And it is a warning note to other Western democracies. The warning is this: liberal democracy, multiculturalism and immigration -- pick any two.
Holland has picked multiculturalism and immigration, and has heaved liberal democracy overboard.
The announcement is so eye-scratchingly stupid, it really must be read line for line. Here goes. (The spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors are from the court's own English translation):
Amsterdam, 21 january 2009 - On 21 January 2009 the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam ordered the criminal prosecution of the member of parliament Geert Wilders for the incitement to hatred and discrimination based on his statements in various media about moslims and their belief.
Did you catch that? It's just like the execrable section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Incitement to... what? Violence? Murder? Riot? No. Incitement to hatred.
Hatred is an emotion. And apparently in Holland, "making" someone feel that emotion is a crime. And inciting "discrimination" is, too. Not just discrimination itself, mind you. But inciting someone to discriminate. The Dutch court has not announced the prosecution of anyone who Wilders has "incited" to discriminate against someone else. But they're still charging Wilders with discrimination, once removed -- even if that discrimination hasn't happened, and isn't logically tied to his political criticisms of Islamic fascism. (Question: don't we all have a duty to incite each other to discriminate against -- or at least hate -- fascists who would destroy our liberal way of life?)
In addition, the Court of Appeal considers criminal prosecution obvious for the insult of Islamic worshippers because of the comparisons made by Wilders of the islam with the nazism.I appreciate the honesty. This is the criminalization of "insults".
Of course, the comparison of radical Islam and Naziism can be found in their fascist, anti-democratic and illiberal streaks. And -- something the Dutch should know -- anti-Semitism. But, more practically, if comparing people to Nazis is now a crime, how about the countless comparisons of Jews to Nazis -- comparisons ubiquitous at the United Nations conference in Durban, just to pick one big example?
The Court of Appeal rendered judgment as a consequence of a number of complaints about the non-prosecution of Wilders for his statements in various media about moslims and their belief. The complainants did not agree with the decision of the public prosecution which decided not to give effect to their report against Wilders.
So the prosecutors -- whose job it is, as in Canada, to determine which prosecutions have merit and which don't -- were overruled by the court... because there were "a number of complaints". Is that all it took? Bitch enough and you can coax the cowardly Dutch courts to prosecute a political enemy?
The public prosecution is of the view, amongst others, that part of the statements of Wilders do not relate to a group of worshippers, but consists of criticism as regards the Islamic belief, as a result of which neither the self-esteem of this group of worshippers is affected nor is this group brought into discredit.
Some statements of Wilders can be regarded as offending, but since these were made (outside the Dutch Second Chamber) as a contribution to a social debate there is no longer a ground for punishableness of those statements according to the public prosecution.
(That is the court's statement of the prosecutor's point of view.)
The Court of Appeal does not agree with this view of the public prosecution and the considerations which form the basis of this view.
The Court of Appeal has considered that the contested views of Wilders (also as shown in his movie Fitna) constitute a criminal offence according to Dutch law as seen in connection with each other, both because of their contents and the method of presentation.
Again, you must admire the honesty of the court to describe their self-destructive, amoral attack on Wilders so clearly and without euphemism. There you have it: his "views" were unacceptable in content and presentation.
Apparently critics of Islamic fascism must be inarticulate and ineffective; or articulate and bold communicators must only be supportive of radical Islam. Now we know the ground rules in Holland.
This method of presentation is characterized by biased, strongly generalizing phrasings with a radical meaning, ongoing reiteration and an increasing intensity, as a result of which hate is created.
Stop. Just stop for a moment and realize the amazing gulf between this court and reality. This case is about Islamic radicalism. And yet it is a critic of that radicalism who is charged with "radical meaning"; it is a critic of the relentlessness of radical Islam who is charged with "reiteration". Who knew that one could only make an argument in a wishy-washy -- not radical -- way? Who knew that one could only make an argument once -- not to reiterate it?
The court is clearly making this up as they go. That is not law; it is politics masquerading as law. It is merely the court's mewling disagreement with Wilders and his effectiveness. There is nothing inherently wrong about being "radical" -- radical simply means "from the root". It is the nature of that radicalism that is of interest. Wilders is a radical democrat, a radical anti-fascist, a radical anti-terrorist, a radical liberal. The Muslims who pursue him are radical theocrats; radical terrorists; radical fascists. But it is Wilders' "radicalism" that is criminalized.
But the best line is the last line: "as a result of which hate is created." Is that how one creates hate -- by having a radical meaning? Again -- to state the obvious -- hate is an emotion. One cannot force one's neighbour to feel hatred; hatred is a natural reaction to things that call out to be hated. Feeling hate -- or "causing" or "inciting" hate -- are not real crimes. If someone were to act violently based on hate, those actions could be crimes. But merely creating a feeling is not a crime.
You'll notice, never does the court claim that Wilders' facts are wrong; never do they claim that his opinions are unfair. They only claim that he is radical and opinionated.
It is trite to point out that the court, too, is being radical and opinionated. And -- the elephant in the room here -- radical Muslims are radical and opinionated. But only Wilders' radical opinions are being criminalized. Wilders' radical opinions (unlike the radical censorship of the courts, and the radical fascism of the Islamists) are in fact the only radical opinions in synch with Western values of liberalism.
According to the Court of Appeal most statements are insulting as well since these statements substantially harm the religious esteem of the Islamic worshippers. According to the Court of Appeal Wilders has indeed insulted the Islamic worshippers themselves by affecting the symbols of the Islamic belief as well.
Here you have it again: Wilders isn't wrong. He's just "insulting". He harms the "esteem" of radical Muslims -- who, apparently, are looking to Wilders for their religious validation. (Do these judges have even a simpleton's grasp of Islam? Is any Muslim's "religious esteem" hanging on what a Dutch MP says?)
Again, let me state the obvious: if "insulting" "religious esteem" were a crime, radical Muslims who call Jews and Christians every name in the book would be guilty of that crime -- as would any other insulter, from Dan Brown and his anti-Catholic DaVinci Code, to Woody Allen's Jewish skits. Insulting religious esteem isn't a crime in the West -- except for in the Islamic Republic of Holland.
Secondly, the Court of Appeal has answered the question whether a possible criminal prosecution or conviction would be admissible according to the norms of the European Convention on Human Rights and the jurisprudence of the European Court based thereon, which considers the freedom of expression of paramount importance. The Court of Appeal has concluded that the initiation of a criminal prosecution and a possible conviction later on as well, provided that it is proportionate, does not necessarily conflict with the freedom of expression of Wilders, since statements which create hate and grief made by politicians, taken their special responsibility into consideration, are not permitted according to European standards either.
George Orwell had a phrase for this: doublethink. It's the ability to hold two mutually contradictory ideas in one's head at the same time, even knowing they're contradictory. In his book 1984, doublethinking was a great skill, a sign of one's intellectual and philosophical agility. In other words, a sign one was willing to abandon logic and common sense, and not be flustered or embarrassed by it.
The Dutch court grudgingly acknowledges that its criminalization of Wilders' political views is contrary to European norms "which considers the freedom of expression of paramount importance." Paramount means the most important. So it take some doublethinking to trump something of paramount importance with the newfound "special responsibility" of "politicians" not to "create hate". Oh, and a new crime: to create "grief".
Thirdly, the Court of Appeal has answered the question whether criminal prosecution of Wilders because of his statements would be opportune in the Dutch situation (the question of opportunity). According to the Court of Appeal the instigation of hatred in a democratic society constitutes such a serious matter that a general interest is at stake in order to draw a clear boundary in the public debate.
That last line is gorgeous. A court of appeal has made the determination that there is a "general interest" in circumscribing public debate. Not for itself, of course -- it can review anything; it can read anything, including Wilders' opinions; it can see anything, including Wilders' movie, Fitna; it won't tolerate any censorship of itself -- for its own freedom of speech is paramount. But for the little people, mere citizens, debate will be limited. "Boundaries" will be created -- whatever the court says those boundaries are on a particular day. "Hate", "grief", "insults" and "religious esteem" are today's boundaries, but there are so many tomorrows coming! Again, the obvious: these boundaries apply only to the critics of radical Islam, not to the purveyors of radical Islam.
As regards the insult of a group the Court of Appeal makes a distinction. In general the Court determines that the traditional Dutch culture of debating is based on tolerance of each others views to a large extent while Islamic immigrants may be expected to have consideration for the existing sentiments in the Netherlands as regards their belief, which is partly at odds with Dutch and European values and norms. As regards insulting statements the Court of Appeal prefers the political, public and other legal counter forces rather than the criminal law, as a result of which an active participation to the public debate, by moslims as well, is promoted.
However, the Court of Appeal makes an exception as regards insulting statements in which a connection with Nazism is made (for instance by comparing the Koran with “Mein Kampf”). The Court of Appeal considers this insulting to such a degree for a community of Islamic worshippers that a general interest is deemed to be present in order to prosecute Wilders because of this.
Again, a perfunctory nod to "Dutch and European values" -- before throwing them out. And look at the excuse: comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf. Not to publishing Mein Kampf; not to planning to carry out Mein Kampf -- the Nazi agenda. But to merely comparing (in the court's view) the Koran to Mein Kampf. Apparently it's not just a crime to be a Nazi, it's a crime to call someone a Nazi.
But if it's a crime to call someone a Nazi -- and that is torqued view of Wilders' thesis to begin with, but let's accept it for the purpose of this debate -- if it's a crime to call someone a Nazi, what do you do when you believe you are being beset by the new Nazis?
If you believe that there is a group of people, following a noxious fascist philosophy, who preach and conduct violence (and hate Jews), why can't you call them Nazis?
Why is it worse to call someone a Nazi than to actually be Nazi-like?
(Again, obvious point: no Muslim radicals, with their ubiquitous signs equating Judaism with Nazism, have been charged as Wilders has.)
The Court of Appeal concludes that the way in which the public debate about controversial issues is held, such as the immigration and integration debate, does not fall within the ambit of the law in principle indeed, but the situation changes when fundamental boundaries are exceeded. Then criminal law does appear as well.
Translation: we don't have the right to limit public debate. But we're going to limit the public debate, by merely declaring that some public debate isn't public debate, if we don't like it. The distinction? When "fundamental boundaries are exceeded." And what are those? Esteem, feelings, grief. Those are apparently "fundamental boundaries" that can trump the "paramount" freedom of speech.
Otherwise, the Court of Appeal emphasizes that this is a provisional judgment in the sense that Wilders has not been convicted in this suit of complaint. The Court of Appeal has only judged whether there are sufficient indications – at the level of a reasonable suspicion – to start a criminal prosecution against Wilders. The penal judge who will ultimately render judgment in a public criminal trial will answer the question if there is ground for conviction, and if so, to which extent.
Why, that could have been written by Barbara Hall, the chief commissar of Ontario's human rights commission. She declined to hold a hearing into Mark Steyn's essay in Maclean's magazine -- but proceeded to denounce the essay as racist nonetheless. Why bother with a trial? Same thing here: paragraph after paragraph condemns Wilders in every way imaginable -- all without a hearing -- yet the court pretends that it is undecided and unbiased on the matter. The court says it's Wilders who is biased, radical, intense, outside the boundaries, creating grief, hurting esteem, creating hate, etc. That's quite a calumny, given that the man hasn't had a day in court.
But, really: when you're disassembling centuries of legal tradition, dismembering fundamental freedoms, demolishing Holland's great liberal heritage, and effectively prosecuting an Islamic fatwa through a secular court, why not go the whole distance?
Holland's court of appeal is an international disgrace.
Canada has long had a special affection for Holland; it was our troops who liberated them during the Second World War; to this day, that's why Ottawa has a Tulip Festival. We rescued them from fascist tyranny forced upon them. Who knew that, just two generations later, they would bring fascism upon themselves?
I predict that Geert Wilders will ultimately be vindicated. I don't think that all of Holland is a morally rotten as their court of appeal. But, like Mark Steyn and me, Wilders will have to spend countless thousands of dollars, and thousands of hours of time, defending himself in what is obviously a biased court system that has already judged him to be anathema. Perhaps they're trying to run him out of town like they did Ayan Hirsi Ali.
I think Wilders will stay and fight, with a renewed vigor and with the growing support of a shocked electorate who themselves must feel insulted that some appointed judges high on Mount Olympus have just ordered an entire swath of public affairs sealed off from vigorous debate -- but only one side of that debate is gagged.
Here's wishing Geert Wilders strength and good luck. He's fighting not only for his own freedom now, but for the freedom of all Dutchmen, and for the very future of Holland.
UPDATE: Here's Wilders' movie, Fitna. See for yourself what the fuss is about. The Dutch court of appeal has watched it. They just don't think anyone else in Holland should be allowed to watch it.
I call for a U.N. denunciation! I call for protests in Canadian streets! Where is Sid Ryan?
What? What's that? The massacre and torture are being conducted by Hamas against their fellow Palestinians?
So the Jews can't be blamed for this one?
OK then. Everyone go back to what you were doing.
I'll be on Charles Adler's national radio show today at 4
p.m. ET, 2 p.m. MT, to talk about Omar Khadr's statement that Maher Arar was
indeed at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.
I've just re-read Kevin Steel's story in the Western Standard. It's amazing reading. Here are some excerpts:
The commission, headed by Justice Dennis O'Connor, ran for two-and-a-half years and cost taxpayers $23 million. Yet in all that time and for all that money, no medical evidence was presented that demonstrated Arar had been physically tortured. No doctor testified. A psychiatrist did testify about the psychological effects of torture, but on physical torture, none.
Arar was never cross-examined on his allegations because he did not testify at the commission that bears his name.
...While he was imprisoned, Arar, who was closely monitored by the Syrians, made only one negative statement to the Canadian consular officials who visited him. On Aug. 14, 2003, he gave them the dimensions of his cell. "Being kept in a three-by-six-by-seven-foot cell obviously constitutes psychological torture, which is worse, and that was Maher's whole point; it's not about the beatings, it's, 'I can't survive living in this cell another day,'" says Pither. (David Milgaard spent 22 years in a Canadian jail after being wrongfully convicted of murder. He received $10 million for his wasted years, slightly less than Arar got for his ten months.)
...And though the Arar commission went out of its way to stress that Arar is innocent, it also underplayed facts that demonstrated why Canadian police were suspicious of him back in 2001--his frenetic cross-border travel, for instance, and his residence in Framingham, Mass., are barely mentioned in the 1,200-page final report or in the 12,000-plus pages of testimony.
…in his Nov. 4, 2004, statement to the press, Arar told of being whipped with a two-inch-thick electrical cable. "They hit me with it everywhere on my body. They mostly aimed for my palms, but sometimes missed and hit my wrists; they were sore and red for three weeks," Arar states. Arar alleges his interrogators also hit him on his hips and lower back. "They used the cable on the second and third day, and after that mostly beat me with their hands, hitting me in the stomach and on the back of my neck, and slapping me on the face. Where they hit me with the cables, my skin turned blue for two or three weeks, but there was no bleeding," Arar stated. According to his own timeline, these horrors occurred between Oct. 11 and Oct. 16, 2002.
Yet the entire time he was in the Syrian prison, the Canadian officials who visited with Arar saw no signs of physical abuse. As for his condition when he got out, one Canadian eyewitness-- speaking to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity--who saw Arar in Syria only moments after his release from jail, put it this way: "If you call not being able to shower for 10 months torture, then I guess he was tortured. But from what I saw, he didn't look like he had been tortured."
Arar received a total of nine consular visits during his 10-month ordeal. The first of these was only one week after the alleged beatings stopped, so that would have been well before Arar, in his own words, says his injuries healed. On Oct. 23, 2002, Leo Martel, an experienced consular official, met with Arar. The diplomat described the visit in a note to his superiors written immediately afterward. The Syrians were present at all times and obligated everyone to speak in Arabic. He reported that Arar walked normally; the two men shook hands and Martel described the handshake as "normal" and stated that Arar did not withdraw his hand. The meeting lasted a half-hour. Martel wrote that Arar "looked like a frightened person," yet appeared otherwise healthy, but added, "Of course, it is difficult to assess." He saw no bruising. The commission report states, "Mr. Martel saw no apparent signs of sore or red wrists or palms, and no blue skin around Mr. Arar's face or neck."
Martel would visit Arar eight more times, sometimes alone, sometimes in the company of others. All his consular reports were made public at the Arar commission. No signs of physical abuse were ever observed. Even after Arar was released, he did not speak of beatings. On the plane returning to Canada, when Martel asked Arar about physical torture, all he would say was, "They have other means.
John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute and an expert on terrorism, has met people who have been tortured in exactly the same way that Arar alleges. To him, Arar's account sounds fabricated. "If you're being whipped, there are permanent marks. A cable like that would leave scars, it would split the skin. Also, if you were being beaten around the hands with it, it would break your fingers. That's what these things do," he says. Ten years ago, he met an Iraqi who had been beaten with a two-inch electrical cable. "He lifted up his shirt and showed me the welter of scars on his back, and then pulled his arm out of his sleeve and there were marks on the upper arm. Whipping leaves some horrific scars."
…Unfortunately, torture allegations are quite common. Even the 18 accused terrorists who were arrested in Ontario last summer on charges of plotting to blow up the CBC and CN Tower and behead the prime minister claimed they were tortured at the Maplehurst Detention Centre. Such accusations have become standard fare; when training its recruits, al Qaeda teaches them to make a claim of torture as soon as they are put before a magistrate, or the media. And refugees have been making claims of torture all over the world for eons. In order to sort the real charges from the exaggerations or lies, in 1999, the United Nations created the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, otherwise known as the Istanbul Protocol. Its 84 pages are full of detailed instructions. Nowhere, in the whole of the Arar story--in mountains of press clips, in Arar's lawsuits, in the O'Connor commission itself--is the Istanbul Protocol mentioned. Specifically, there is no reference to it in the Toope Report, and that might seem strange because, as the commission's press release made everyone aware, Toope has experience with the UN. Toope, now president of the University of British Columbia, did not return a request for an interview.
… Arar and his wife, Monia Mazigh, an economics professor and one-time candidate for the NDP, have said on several occasions that he has never been to Afghanistan and never had any desire to go there. Like the torture claims, this statement has gone unchallenged. At one point, while Arar was incarcerated and after the confession, Canada's Foreign Affairs department contacted the Arar family in order to obtain any documentation establishing Maher's whereabouts that year. They produced none. And it's not like the RCMP or CSIS were incapable of finding information; early in the RCMP investigation they turned up a gun permit Arar obtained in 1992. In fact, there was never any evidence presented at the Arar commission as to his whereabouts in that year. Instead, there were lengthy discussions downplaying any significance attached to being in Afghanistan at that time. In his final report, O'Connor skirts the whole issue and instead presents a chapter titled "Background Information on the Afghanistan Camps," in which the reader is treated to a little history primer, the conclusion of which can be summarized as: just because someone might have been at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan in 1993, doesn't necessarily mean they were a terrorist.
I really have just one question left: will Canadian taxpayers be getting our $10.5 million back?
Word comes from another media darling -- Omar Khadr -- that Arar in fact was at an Al Qaida safe house in Afghanistan on various occasions, contrary to Arar's denials of ever being in that country.
All of which vindicates one of the most important cover stories the Western Standard ever ran, entitled "What really happened to Maher Arar?" You really must read it -- you'll learn things that just haven't been reported elsewhere, ranging from that fact that Arar's purported injuries from "torture" were never examined by an independent doctor; that when he was picked up by Canadian diplomats in Syria, he showed no signs of torture whatsoever -- only signs of not having bathed. Those are just two little tid-bits. Really: read the whole thing. It's a great story, written by Kevin Steel.
Here was my publisher's note, introducing the story:
The real cost of the $10.5-million payout to Maher Arar isn't the money, it's the demoralization of Canada's police and security services, and the wild encouragement given to any accused terrorist to wage legal and political war against Canada. A quick visit to Arar's vanity website shows a half-dozen smiling faces of his lawyers, no doubt eager to make the money and publicity of a dozen more such claims.
How ironic that our western legal system, with its checks and balances designed to protect our liberal freedoms, has become the favourite instrument of illiberal attackers of the West. The Western Standard itself has been a victim of that abuse: In 2006, after we published a story about the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, a radical Calgary imam used Alberta's human rights law to attack us. One year and thousands of dollars in legal fees later, we're still fending off that contortion of our justice system, while the Saudi-trained imam's case is funded by Canadian taxpayers. His concept of "human rights" is alien to our Canadian values, but that doesn't stop him from using a legal shield as a sword against his enemies. Unlike the federal government, we won't cave in to political pressure.
Of course, Canada's media was gaga for Arar; the CBC should get a cut of the payout. Hyper-skeptical when reporting the spin from government or corporate press secretaries, the mainstream media became stenographers for Arar's PR machine. Not just stenographers--cheerleaders, actually. For in Arar they saw a weapon to demonize the police, the military and the war on terror. They painted Arar as an unalloyed victim of racial profiling and police excess, conveniently ignoring facts about his visits with other terrorist suspects, his unusual international travel, and even his purchase of a gun--something that would normally condemn a man in the eyes of the press. Of course they didn't question his tale of torture. And, as Kevin Steel's outstanding story on page 34 demonstrates, neither did the multimillion-dollar Arar Commission. You'd think it might have come up.
What will happen now? The Arars will retire on whatever part of their fortune is left after his lawyers take their cut; Arar's wife, Monia Mazigh, has turned her crusade into a permanent political campaign, even running for office as an NDP candidate. Arar will no doubt do the speaking circuit, telling tales of his suffering--not so much at the hands of his coreligionists in Syria as at the hands of Canada, the country that welcomed his family and secured his freedom. Just don't expect there to be a question-and-answer session after Arar's speeches--he didn't take the stand in the commission, and he's not likely to risk answering some of the prickly questions that we write about here.
Regrettably, the most important facts about Arar likely will remain confidential for security reasons. How frustrating it must be to be an RCMP officer or diplomat, knowing the secret dossier on Arar, but unable to disclose it, either for reasons of security or a political gag order. We don't know those details either--but we know there is enough on the public record to conclude that there is more to Maher Arar than the media darling the mainstream press have manufactured.
But as Maclean's magazine reports, Canada's censorious human rights commissions have caught the eye of Freedom House, the international NGO that compiles an annual freedom of the world index, including press freedom.
Here is their comment about our HRCs:
Canada faced threats to freedom of expression as government agencies brought charges against journalists who wrote commentaries that were critical of Islam.Jennifer Lynch lives for international praise -- which, I suppose, is a good thing, considering here at home she is so universally despised as a political bully, an anti-Christian bigot and an Internet censor. If she has to go all the way to Cameroon to find someone to tell her she's doing a good job, she'll go there, first class of course.
By the way, Lynch and her Ontario analog, Barbara Hall, keep lecturing us about how they're all that stands between Canada and hateful violence. That's why they both have to keep picking on dangerous threats like Fr. Alphonse de Valk and Rev. Stephen Boissoin. You know, threats to public safety.
But when pro-Hamas supporters march in downtown Toronto, Montreal and Calgary, brandishing swastikas, calling for death to the Jews, waving terrorist flags and uttering death threats -- well, Lynch and Hall are nowhere to be found.
Cowards? Hypocrites? Dhimmis? Incompetent?
All of the above.
I'm going to guess: Saudi Arabia.
It's not really much of a guess -- Saudi Arabia acknowledges that it pumps millions of dollars a year into Canadian mosques. They positively boast about it, though they've become more discreet about their North American operations since 9/11.
Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote about it in the Calgary Herald, on Aug. 17, 2002:
According to Ain Al Yaqeen, a Saudi weekly, the Saudis spend millions each year on mosques in Canada. In Toronto alone, $7 million went to build the Islamic Centre, which receives another $2 million a year for operating expenses.
Mosques in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal also receive Saudi dollars. The magazine boasts that the kingdom spends "billions" globally -- even more astonishing given the country's burgeoning debt.
Here's a similar new report in 2004 by Bob Fife, via Tarek Fatah's blog:
...The [counter-terrorism] task force said Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fund 210 Islamic centres and 1,359 mosques around the world, including in Canada.I note that one of the participants in the Calgary Hamas hate march was none other than Syed Soharwardy, the anti-Semitic bigot who took me before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for publishing the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Soharwardy frequently does the anti-Semitic Saudi speaker's circuit, and one of his various websites publishes a column by a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group (in the comment section here, you can see Soharwardy's laughable "explanation" of that.) I wonder if he gets Saudi dough to prop up his agitations. He fits the profile: a radical, anti-Semitic imam who frequents Saudi Arabia and is part of the terrorist propaganda machine.
It cites an official Saudi report in 2002 that stated ''King Fahd donated $5-million US for the cost of an Islamic Center in Toronto, Canada, in addition to $1.5-million US annually to run the facility.''
The Saudi government's official Web site also said King Fahd provided funds to the Calgary mosque, the Ottawa mosque and the Islamic centre in Quebec.
Toronto has numerous Islamic centres and the Saudi embassy in Ottawa refused to say which received millions of dollars from King Fahd.
...The imam of the Ottawa Mosque, Dr. Gamal Solaiman, could not say how much money the Saudis provided his mosque, nor did he know which Islamic centre in Toronto was funded by the Saudis.
Dr. Solaiman referred all inquiries about Saudi funding to the mosque's board of directors, but they did not return phone calls. Hussein Paiman of the Calgary Mosque, whose imam was a professor at Saudi Arabia's King Saud University, also did not know how much the Saudis had contributed.
The Islamic Centre in Quebec -- run by Sheikh Syed Bukhari, a graduate of Madina University in Saudi Arabia, was also unable to discuss Saudi funding.
All three institutions are posted on the Saudi government Web site as receiving an unspecified amount of money from the kingdom, but their individual Web sites do not appear to preach radical Islamic doctrines.
...Saudi Arabia is training and sending radical clerics abroad to propagate extremism and said every Saudi embassy has a well-funded branch that provides ''inflammatory materials'' to mosques and Islamic centres.
And then there's Nagah Hage of the Muslim Council of Calgary. He was the instigator behind this month's hate marches in Calgary's Jewish neighbourhoods, where the Hezbollah flag was flown and swastikas brandished. I was also told today that there were chants of "death to the Jews" in Arabic (I'll post the relevant video clips when I can confirm it) and I'm also told that one of the marchers, in an argument with a counter-protester, declared that he was ready to be a suicide jihadi anywhere in the world -- including right here in Canada. He said this within earshot of a half dozen police officers, who did nothing.)
Back to Hage: he has experience calling for death to the Jews. Back in 2002, he led another hate march, that one with over 1,000 people, through downtown Calgary. There were terrorist flags flown then, too; Jews were called Nazis then too; Arabic chants of "death to the Jews" were made then, too. It being downtown, some of the hate marchers tried to storm the federal government offices at the Harry Hays Building, and got into a shoving match with police.
Here is the Calgary Herald's contemporaneous report of the event.
Was a human rights complaint filed? Don't be ridiculous. Any criminal charges at all -- including trespass or assaulting a police officer? Of course not.
So why should it be surprising that seven years later, Hage is back at it, this time in the Jewish neighbourhoods? The only surprising thing is that his latest pre-pogroms only number in the hundreds, not the thousands.
2. He made this clear statement condemning the anti-Semitic Hamas rallies in Canada.
3. And in his current anti-terror tour of South Asia, he stopped by Mumbai's history Blue Synagogue, and Chabad House, to give a message of solidarity and resolve in the wake of the terrorist attacks there. Here's a picture of him with Indian Jews:
Here's two photos from today. (Thanks to DS.)
I know for a fact that several merchants in the mall are appalled -- not just by their lost business, but by the offensive display of anti-Semitism permitted by their landlord. I just don't get it. The bigots said they'll be back -- I'm sure they will. And I'm sure there will be more anti-Semitic graffiti in the neighbourhood. Today's graffiti was just a block away from the Jewish Centre, and a block and a half from the synagogue.
I bet there will be a swastika spray-painted on the synagogue within a month.
That's what James Q. Wilson calls the "broken windows theory". The anti-Semites at the hate march -- most of them just off the plane from countries where freedom of assembly doesn't exist, and if you dared to protest outside a government office, you'd be tortured -- are testing what they can get away with. What's acceptable in Calgary? What's acceptable to Calgary's Jews? To Calgary's Gentiles? To the RioCan landlords? To the Prime Minister himself?
You can already see an escalation.
At their first hate march, the Hezbollah flag was only unfurled near the end, as a specific taunt to a Jewish rabbi.
The police did nothing, though Hezbollah is listed in the Criminal Code as an illegal terrorist organization.
The bigots are learning. I bet the terrorist sympathizer who showed the flag last time was pretty nervous about it. But now he knows that's the new normal. And so, at this rally, the Hezbollah flag was flown for almost the entire event. Here are some pictures from today:
I imagine that, the first time the S.A. stormtroopers marched in Germany 80 years ago, they were the ones who were afraid -- afraid of public excoriation, afraid of vigilantism in response, afraid of police. But once they realized they could get away with it, once they gathered momentum, once the community indicated that it would do nothing to enforce their behavioural standards, it was the community that became afraid.
Some statistics: there were about 150 Hamas supporters this time, and very few women and children. Almost all men now. There were about 20 counter-demonstrators, some with modest placards -- and a small Israeli flag.
Again -- as last time -- the police told the pro-Israel counter-protesters that they risked being arrested for "inciting public disorder" if their tiny Jewish flag caused a conflagration. Did you get that? If the peaceful display of a Star of David "incited" the Hamas supporters to act violently, it would be the Israel supporters who would be charged. I wonder how much longer -- months? years? -- until police are telling people that wearing "provocative" Christian crosses is cause for arrest, too.
Imagine if Calgary's cops spoke that way to battered women: "Ma'am, if you don't cook him his dinner the way he likes it, you're provoking him. He'll hit you again. And we'll have to charge you with inciting him to hit you."
Unlike the Hamas supporters, the pro-Israel supporters actually live in the neighbourhood, and are customers of the mall. The Hamas hate marchers came in from across town -- their purpose was to terrify Jews, just like their terrorist role models in Arabia.
Say, these anti-Semites are awfully clever. They were smart enough not to be white skinheads. Because they're Muslims immigrants, they're allowed to do what 150 white skinheads in a Jewish neighbourhood wouldn't be allowed to do. They're allowed to taunt and spit at Jews, and hurl shoes at Israel supporters, have placards with swastikas, and trespass with impunity. And they get their own tax-paid bodyguards -- Calgary Police Service cops threatening any of their political foes with arrest.
Try doing any of that if you're a white neo-Nazi with a shaved head.
(I do acknowledge, though, that a few white supremacists have managed to inject themselves into Calgary's anti-Semitic protests, such as the one downtown. The Palestinians are delighted to have them. Above is a picture.)
The human rights commission had a full-blown inquiry into the matter, and authorities hounded Long out of the province. The Canadian Jewish Congress? They're still dining out on their war stories from that brave, brave fight.
Imagine if Terry Long had brought his cross-burning to the Jewish part of Calgary -- with 150 skinheads. Imagine if he did that weekly -- made it the "new normal".
It's unthinkable. I'd say it would be more likely that he'd die in a hail of SWAT team bullets if he tried.
But Calgary's new anti-Semites are much more clever.
They come with names like "Soharwardy" and "Hage", not Long. They speak with Arabic and Urdu accents, not American accents. They wear kaffiyeh scarves, not white Klan hoods. But they are the same damned thing: Jew haters who support violence.
Oh, this isn't a call for a Terry Long-style human rights commission inquiry, or even a criminal "hate speech" charge. They're useless in every way, except as job-creation for second-rate lawyers and bureaucrats, and the new breed of police officer: the multicultural "outreach officer" whose job is no longer to enforce Canadian norms, but to bend them to accommodate Gazan norms. No, any "hate speech" charges would surely fail, as Ahenakew's failed. And they miss the point.
These hate marches call for political and economic marginalization; for a reassertion of ordinary Canadians' civic responsibilities; for a restatement of Canadian values, like Jason Kenney did the other day; and, frankly, for a re-calibration of Canada's immigration policies: more law-abiding peaceful Canadians, less terrorist sympathizers. And I can't think of a value or interest that would be offended by the deportation of non-citizens who fly terrorist flags in Canada (other than the liberal value of civilizational suicide).
This is not a foreign policy issue. This isn't about our views on the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. It's not about what we think, in the abstract, about the Middle East. It's a concrete question about the kind of cities we want and the kind of conduct we will tolerate right here in Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. It's not even about Jews. It's about whether our civic leaders can remain silent as our streets are filled with hate and thinly-veiled threats of violence and terrorism.
A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister and Calgary's Mayor joined in the annual Hanukah candle-lighting ceremony at Calgary's City Hall. That's great -- a great symbol. Thanks. But I'd rather the PM and the Mayor skip the candle-lighting, and do something important, like denounce the low-level menace that has emerged across Canada, and that threatens to flare into a European level of continuous intifada.
The solution won't come from losers like the Canadian Jewish Congress who are trying to see how their one tool -- book-burning -- can apply to street hate marches. The solution can only come from ordinary citizens saying "that's not acceptable in Canadian streets"; from police enforcing Canadian law, not sharia law; from property owners like RioCan showing some self-respect, and respect for their tenants and customers; from the media realizing that hate on Canadian streets is not an acceptable "byproduct" of a foreign dispute far away; from union members taking their unions back from crazies like Sid Ryan; and from politicians marshaling whatever moral authority their offices have to denounce these new Nazis.
It's not downtown.
It's not near their mosques.
It's not in the part of the city where most Muslims and Arabs live.
It's not near the media.
It's not a public place, like a park, suitable for a rally.
Stephen Harper's constituency office is there. But it's not his office -- it's where his staff handle concerns from his constituents. I doubt he sets foot in there more than once a season.
It's obvious why bigots like Soharwardy and Hage are having their hate festival there.
It's because it's the most Jewish part of Calgary.
Across the street is the Jewish Centre. That's where the Holocaust memorial is, too. One street further is a synagogue. There's a Jewish old folks home there. The street is even called Jerusalem Way.
The mall is owned by RioCan, which is Jewish-run. Many of the tenants and shopkeepers are Jewish, particularly the professional offices. A large portion of the customers are Jewish.
In other words, Hage and Soharwardy want to terrify Jews -- especially the kind of Jews who would be out in the afternoon: seniors and moms with kids.
That's why they're bringing their swastikas along -- just in case they see any Holocaust survivors.
That's why they're bringing their terrorist flag along -- like last time, in case they see a rabbi, they can spit at him.
Hagah and Soharwardy hate Jews. So they're going to the Jewish part of town for their hate fest.
They're bringing their Gaza-style social decay with them, too: fear, graffiti and anti-Semitism.
This photograph was taken this morning, on the east side of 14th Street, opposite Glenmore Landing.
The Prime Minister happens to be the MP for the Jewish part of town. Anti-Semites are not only having hate rallies. They're leaving hate graffiti.
I think it's time the local MP issue a statement condemning it.
And what did the CJC finally say? As Mark Steyn notes, their press release was a laughable attempt to take "credit" for "exposing" the anti-Semitism of the protests. That's what the CJC's press release headline said. Not "CJC backs lawsuit to impeach anti-Semitic CUPE leader"; and not "CJC demands government cut off all funds to and contact with anti-Semitic organizations"; and not "CJC calls for investigation of why police didn't intervene arrest death threat makers"; and not even "CJC demands political leaders condemn bigoted rally", just to come up with a few possibilities. No, their headline was:
2. The CJC didn't expose anything. Their exposure consists of republishing photos and videos taken by others -- even a photo taken from my website. The CJC didn't send out camera crews; the CJC didn't do a damn thing other than hide under their desks.
3. OK, now that you've "exposed" things, what the hell are you going to do about it? That's the point. They're doing the only thing they know how to do -- looking to hate speech laws (in the criminal code this time, not the human rights act). Are they so barren of ideas that that's the only one they can think of -- one doomed to fail?
When it comes to the CJC's other enemies, the CJC is quite creative. Take the CJC's hatred for Christianity in the public square. I remember this disgraceful episode well: the CJC threatened to sue to have the Christian Lord's Prayer banned from the Ontario Legislature.
That's how morally bankrupt the CJC is: attacking religious Christians -- Jews' best friends -- but staying silent in the face of Muslim radicalism.
Now why would the CJC do that?
Two reasons. First the CJC isn't really a Jewish organization. It's a liberal organization, run by Jews. And it shares the Left's hostility to Christianity, especially Christianity of any seriousness. Second, the CJC is afraid of Muslims, but not afraid of Christians. They're happy to threaten lawsuits to end the Lord's Prayer, and they love suing little nobodies sitting in front of computer screens, under section 13. But they're just plain afraid of taking on Muslim radicals. That's why they were silent for a week about the pro-Hamas rallies in Canada, and that's why they're silent to this day about, for example, the bigotry of Montreal's imam al-Hayiti.
The CJC is worse than useless. Useless implies harmlessness. The CJC is worse than harmless. It practically created -- and has certainly strengthened -- censorship provisions in human rights laws that radical Muslims are now using against Jews and Zionists.
As well, the CJC's fear and reluctance to criticize Islamist groups has allowed bigots like Mohamed Elmasry and Syed Soharwardy to conduct themselves as if they're normal Canadian members of society. If the CJC weren't such moral eunuchs, they'd have taken on those evil men, and shown them to be menaces -- rather than engaging in "dialogue" with them, which only legitimizes them. Really: why should the media have anything bad to say about anti-Semitic bigots, when the CJC itself doesn't?
Finally, the CJC sops up Jewish money, volunteer time and other resources that would otherwise go to an effective Jewish lobby -- one that wasn't always saying "Shhh! Don't speak out! You'll upset the czar!"
The CJC was created to help settle Jewish immigrants in Canada, and later to recruit Jews into the Canadian army. Somewhere along the way they turned into politically correct grievance hustlers, beholden more to the cult of multiculturalism than to Judaism itself, and more interested in liberal politics than being a non-partisan Jewish advocacy group.
Canada's Jews -- and Canada itself -- deserves better.
...Muslim Council of Calgary chairman Nagah Hage exhorted his flock of 175, including infants and teens, in both Arabic and English. Between the tirades that demonized Israel, comparing Jews to the Nazis, Hage whipped up the crowd by calling the Jewish state "barbaric, ruthless and arrogant" and led the crowd in a chant that said: "Olmert-Hitler, you're the same, the only difference is the name."
The demonization of Israel was portrayed in venomous placards and banners carried by children and parents. Israel was accused of "ethnic cleansing", "committing a holocaust", and of "outright murder". There were even swastikas on display...
I am sure this anti-Semitic chorus was loud enough to be heard across the street at the Calgary Jewish Centre. The most egregious placard of all equated Jews with Nazis--a disgusting display anytime, but particularly tasteless, given that the Jewish community's Holocaust memorial was a block away.
They chanted: "Stephen Harper, hear us say, Jerusalem will be ours one day." In other words, the rally really wasn't about Gaza -- it was about Hamas's stated plans to conquer Israel....When the crowd approached the Israel supporter a second time, eight police officers had to stand in front of him to protect him. So the crowd went back to chanting "killers of children and women"--and they didn't mean Hamas, who use civilians as human shields.
For two full hours this disgrace continued--all on the mall's private property. Parking and business access was blocked, and many customers were clearly repelled by the Nazi symbols on the crowd's posters, and the chants. When one shop owner asked the police to clear the crowd because customers couldn't reach her shop, the response was "they would leave it alone and let it play out", as it was the "lesser of two evils".
of the mob didn't just go to the mall. They actually had the temerity
to park at the Calgary Jewish Centre --adjacent to the Holocaust
memorial there--despite the private parking sign.
I understand that the same anti-Semites are planning to return to Glenmore Landing today for a repeat of their hate-fest.
Glenmore Landing is owned by RioCan. It's private property. Like most businesses, it invites the public onto their property -- anyone can come onto the mall and it's not trespassing. But such an implied invitation is not unconditional; the invitation is to come shop, not to block the mall, impede commerce, harass Jewish shopkeepers and Jewish patrons, and generally bring a taste of Gaza to Calgary. Just like a movie theatre having the right to refund your ticket and kick you out for being too noisy, RioCan has the right to bar those who would come onto its private property for inappropriate reasons. Comparing Jews to Nazis -- and harassing patrons -- is an inappropriate reason.
I wonder if RioCan will exercise its property rights and keep the Hamas supporters out. I wonder if the police will honour such a request if RioCan makes it. And I wonder how long Canadians will accept terrorist flags being flown in our city streets, rabbis being spat at, pro-Israel supporters assaulted, and anti-Semitic bigotry being chanted, like it was 1930s Germany. All of that happened last week at Glenmore Landing, with impunity. Will it happen again today?
The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, today issued the following statement regarding displays of hatred and violence at recent protests across Canada:
“Like many Canadians, I am deeply concerned about allegations of the incitement to hatred and violence at recent protests across Canada.”
“It is shocking to think that flags of banned terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah are being flown in the streets of Canadian cities. The ideals these terrorist organizations preach are abhorrent to the fundamental values of the Canadian people and of all civilized peoples: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
“The open incitement of hatred has absolutely no place in Canadian society. We offer our condolences to all innocent victims of armed conflict and to those affected by repeated acts of terror. We remain vigilant in upholding fundamental Canadian values.”
The Government of Canada lists Hezbollah and Hamas as banned terrorist
organizations under the provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code.
It's a solid statement (though the use of the word "allegations" to describe the protesters' behaviour is a little bit odd.) Kenney understands what the fools at the Canadian Jewish Congress don't: this battle against Canadian terrorist sympathizers won't be won through criminal prosecutions of political supporters of Hamas. That's slow, expensive, and will fail -- it's not a crime to be an Islamic fascist in Canada. The Official Jews are stuck on censorship as a solution; it's all they know. Kenney understands that it is about reasserting age-old Canadian values such as the rule of law, and to drum that into newcomers, especially those from Arab and Muslim countries.
I haven't seen a lot of media pick-up of Kenney's comments; and frankly, I don't expect to see it. It's good that Kenney said them; and the various ethnic groups he deals with will no doubt be listening. But what's needed is for the Prime Minister himself to denounce the rallies -- to get both national attention, and to set the moral example from the very top, that such bigoted displays are not acceptable in Canada.
According to a release, the CJC's press conference will be staffed by Bernie "Burny" Farber, Mark Freiman and Sara Saber Freedman.
Burny, as we all know, has a section 13 fetish. He has become Canada's loudest defender of censorship -- which is why I've changed the spelling of his name to Burny. He's the 21st century equivalent to a book-burner.
And that's a problem. Because it's one thing to use the law to bully a single political offender for "promoting hatred", and grind him through years of punitive legal hassles, with the final result being the removal of a single website on the Internet (how pitiful). But what do you do when there's 10,000 people who have engaged in hateful acts on the city's streets, and they're looking forward to doing it again next week?
Try taking 10,000 people to a human rights commission. (Oh, the commissions would love it, though, wouldn't they? Bigger budgets; a bigger sense of self-importance; more control over more peoples' lives.)
But you can't use section 13, actually, because it only applies to hate spread over phone lines and the Internet.
And the Criminal Code provisions require an enormous standard of guilt -- what we saw in those rallies, with the possible exceptions of the support for terrorist groups, is likely below the standard of a criminal conviction. Shouting "kill all the Jews" isn't specific or imminent enough to be taken as a real death threat. It might breach the criminal code provisions against hate speech. But how do you apply that to a mob of hundreds or thousands chanting their Jew-hatred, often in Arabic, often with masks hiding their identities?
Mark Freiman is a lawyer who has worked on the CJC's section 13 cases, and is a defender of those laws. Not encouraging.
The problem with Burny and Freiman is that they don't actually know how to fight real anti-Semites, because they've been fighting Internet anti-Semites for so long. It's like the difference between playing Guitar Hero really well, and then being asked to play a real guitar. They only know how to fight "hate" on the Internet, like a video game.
Burny and Freiman don't know what to do when they're faced with thousands of people who disagree with them. They don't know how to argue. They don't know how to organize. They've become lazy, outsourcing their political resopnsibilities to the government.
Sara Saber Freedman works for the Canada-Israel Committee, not the CJC. I imagine that her presence is as an expert on Hamas, Gaza and international issues. But I also think that she is there as some sort of grown up supervision. While Burny and Freiman have indulged their pet issue of censorship this past year, Freedman has actually had the real work of trying to promote Canada-Israel relations.
In other words, while Burny and Freiman have been playfighting, re-enacting the last Holocaust, even fighting against "Nazis" on the Internet, Freedman has been busy trying to prevent the next Holocaust, perpetrated by real people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Nasrallah and others.
I think she's there to keep an eye on Burny and Freiman, and make sure they talk about thousands of Muslim radicals, rather than their favourite subject -- Internet "neo-Nazis".
I look forward to hearing what they have to say. I wonder if Burny will be forced to call off his love affair with the Canadian Arab Federation, one of the many anti-Semitic groups Burny has engaged in "dialogue" with. They were one of the sponsors of the anti-Semitic rallies. I wonder if Burny can quit them.
(And will Jennifer Lynch, the chief commisar of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, quit the Canadian Arab Federation, too? The CHRC proudly lists the CAF as one of their "stakeholders". Will Lynch drop the CAF? Or will she continue to take their advice -- the kind of advice that allows anti-Semitic bigots escape the CHRC's prosecution, if they're Arab?)
I can't attend the press conference, but I'll review the media reports from it.
I have a feeling, though, that no matter what question you ask Burny and Freiman, you get the same answer: government censorship, though slow and cumbersome legal processes.
In other words, you have a wholly inappropriate response to a quick-moving, massive political problem.
When all you have is a censorship hammer, everything looks like a section 13 nail.
I predict all they'll do is ask for hate speech charges -- under the Criminal Code -- to be laid.
And I predict that, two years from now when the trial finally happens, whoever is charged will be acquitted, just like Ahenakew was, and with the newfound fame and following that Ahenakew has.
I've already given some of my thoughts about what should be done. Here are a few, in point form:
- Demand that politicians specifically denounce the bigoted rallies. This means the Prime Minister and MPs; the premiers and MPPs/MNAs/MLAs of Ontario, Quebec and Alberta; and the mayors and aldermen of Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. The fact that neo-Nazis and Arab crypto-Nazis have marched so brazenly demands a political rebuke.
- All the organizations that participated -- CUPE, the postal union, the various Palestinian lobby groups -- must be attacked using every tool of civil society. They must be marginalized in public; any politicians who truck with them must be marginalized, too; their leadership must be challenged legally and politically. Sid Ryan must face a backlash from his membership, including a lawsuit if an appropriate cause of action exists. A lawsuit to allow non-terrorist-supporting union members to witthhold union dues that are being used for such pro-terrorist ends is one that comes to mind.
- I think that one of the problems is the media itself. As Debbie Gyapong points out, the media is so historically illiterate, they don't see the anti-Semitism in these protests. I think that there ought to be a tour of newspaper editorial boards and TV and radio stations showing videos of these protests, and painstakingly explaining how similar they are to the S.A. and S.S. rallies of the 1930s in Germany. I think that public service-style or political campaign-style TV and radio ads should be aired as well, reaching directly to the general public, which is more sensible and less anti-Israel than the press.
- A large problem, of course, is that the Jewish community itself gives political cover to many of these anti-Semitic groups. I mentioned above how the CJC has trucked with the CAF. There must be a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to anti-Semitism before Jewish groups -- including synagogues -- have interfaith activities with Muslim groups.
- And it's not just Muslim groups. I understand that the Catholic Church in Montreal was in some manner involved with the protest there. I think that the leadership of the Jewish community must meet immediately with Catholic leaders to explain just how inappropriate that is.
I haven't thought much about Margolis since then, but a reader has brought to my attention a startling new interview in which Margolis refuses to call Hamas a terrorist organization:
"It now seems clear the last disastrous act of the Bush administration was giving Israel a green light to launch its final solution campaign against the Hamas government in Gaza."
Did you catch that? Israel is implementing the Final Solution. That's the name the Nazis gave to their plan to kill all the Jews.
It's classic anti-Semitism -- portraying Jews as Nazis.
Look, I'm not calling for a human rights commission complaint into Margolis's weird worldview. It's just really weird to see a well-dressed, well-coiffed man without an Arabic accent actually say, with a straight face, that Hamas isn't a terrorist group; it "takes care of its citizens" and "does a great deal" for Palestinians; and that the Jews are the ones planning the Final Solution -- all this when Hamas's patron, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has specifically threatened Israel with another Holocaust.
I have only one question: what is Margolis still doing in the pages of the Sun?
and in Montreal:
Toronto tried out the Hezbollah flag, and identity-hiding face masks, and death threats.
Montreal went a bit further -- burning the Jewish flag, hoisting posters of terrorists, and taunting police.
Just how much further is it before police are pushed? And do you really think that our touch-feely multi-culti-trained police would do anything other than defer and submit?
I don't think that's the natural state of police; but when they're led by such fools as Toronto's Bill Blair -- who boasted of his blindness to the confessed Islamist motivations of the terrorists he arrested for plotting murders and other acts of jihad -- what do you think the orders of the front-line police really are?
I put it to you that, without the kind of stinging national rebuke that only a Prime Minister can make, we are on the same inexorable path as the U.K. and France -- towards increasingly bold violence that is soon indistinguishable from an intifada.
That said, I must note Canada's bold stand at the United Nations yesterday: we were the only country to vote against an anti-Israel attack resolution at the UN's Human Rights Council.
That Council is a joke; never a resolution condemning human rights abuses in China, Russia, Iran or anywhere in Arabia. It exists merely to demonize Israel. It is such an anti-Semitic body that the U.S. refuses to even sit on the council.
Good for Canada -- good for Stephen Harper -- to make our vote stand as a denunciation of the diplomatic pogrom there. Other Western democracies simply "abstained".
Yes, well, as Dante told us, there is a special place at the gates of Hell, reserved for those who, in the great battles between good and evil, remained neutral.
We last heard from the Aryan Guard in march, when they had a street protest, met with a counter-protest by the violent, Marxist group "Anti-Racist Action". Here's what I wrote about that, then.
But hatred for Jews has played Cupid between the fascists and the Marxists. Like an unlikely match on eHarmony.ca, they came together because of their shared interests. They are both on Hamas's side in this war.
Here are three beautiful photos. You can see the neo-Nazis in their uniform -- shaved heads, Doc Martens boots, rolled up jeans, bright suspenders -- alongside Palestinian radicals in their uniform -- kafiyehs, and hijabs on the women. Look at them march in perfect harmony -- finding love in their mutual hate.
The comments by the Marxists and the Palestinians are hilarious:
"...in these demonstrations you can control the crowd but you can't control the emotions . . . you can't deny people's right to walk."
"They were not supposed to be there. They were not wanted there"...
Yeah, right. Look at this picture: the neo-Nazis are given a place of honour in the march -- they're second from the front, right behind the lead Hamas supporters. There are a dozen ways to get rid of unwanted people at your own rally. Putting them in a place of honour, and not uttering a peep about it until newspapers ask embarrassing questions, is a sign that the Nazis were perfectly welcome.
And why not? Really, other than race, what is the difference between the Nazis and Hamas, when it comes to Jews? Both use Jews as a scapegoat for all the world's ills; both call for the extermination of the Jews; and both saw the Jews as merely the appetizer before going on to attack other enemies, too.
I note that the ARA is the violent group to whom Richard Warman gave his infamous speech, entitled "Maximum Disruption". Who knew that their approach to maximum disruption would include marching side by side with Nazis, calling for the extermination of Israel.
By the way, the Aryan Guard's protest back in March elicited all sorts of clucking from the hard left, about the need for human rights commissions.
Now? Not a peep. They're part of the same Jew-hating coalition now.
I'm glad to win, because it's encouraging feedback to me. My blog is unusual, in that it is usually focused on one issue: freedom of speech and the human rights commissions that infringe that freedom; and my blog entries are often quite long, sometimes up to 5,000 words.
To know that thousands of other Canadians share my deep interest in these issues is incredibly satisfying. And I'm always gratified to discover that a lawmaker, or a member of the mainstream media, has read my blog and used it as "ammunition".
That's what winning means to me: a validation of my year-long campaign to reform Canada's abusive human rights commissions. I hope that whatever publicity I have earned from this honour only increases traffic to my site.
I should note that the runner up for "Best Canadian Blog" was my friend (and co-defendant in a nuisance suit brought by an HRC activist) Kathy Shaidle of the blog Five Feet of Fury, who also emphasizes freedom issues. It's amazing that, between the two of us, we received nearly two thirds of all the votes.
An even more impressive outcome, however, was Kate McMillan's election as Best Conservative Blog -- because she was the only Canadian in that category, and was running against enormous names such as Michelle Malkin, Victor Davis Hanson, Power Line, Atlas Shrugs and the second-place finisher, Ace of Spades. And, perhaps it's no coincidence, but Kate, too, is a co-defendant in that same human rights nuisance suit, because her blog has been an advocate for free speech, too.
Cheers all around, and thanks to you, gentle reader, for voting for me.
I was fascinated by the extremely agitated response to my emphasis of the fact that the opposition coalition consists of three parties -- including the Bloc Quebecois -- not just the Liberals and NDP.
They obviously hated that, especially the New Democrat out in B.C. -- I chuckled to myself when she said listening to me was "a bit debilitating"!
Both the Liberal and the NDP wanted to talk about anything other than the Bloc. I'll have to keep that in mind. I think they're a little embarrassed about it -- at least when they're off Parliament Hill and in their ridings.
By the way, here's the written contract between the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois. I analyzed it here.
Two weeks to go until the Conservative bring down their budget. What are the chances that the opposition parties will vote against it, thus bringing down the government and risking the Governor-General putting the country to a new election, where the NDP and Liberals can feel the wrath of voters in reaction to their Bloc coalition?
About one in a million.
Never again? That didn't last long.
Imagine if hundreds of Canadians marched, some in KKK white sheets, calling blacks "our dogs". You can make your own example -- if it were any other group besides Jews being demonized.
Or, frankly, any other group other than radical Muslims doing the demonizing. If a thousand skinheads had marched, burning Stars of David, calling Jews "dogs", and swearing a bloody death to Jews, you can imagine the response -- starting with the SWAT team.
This is the real problem. Israel can handle itself in Gaza. It's a good symbol that we side with the democracy against the terrorist group, but it's just symbolism.
Marches like this one, in the streets of Canada, are the bigger problem. Waving the terrorist flag of Hezbollah; singing praise for Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah; calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.
They didn't have YouTube back in Germany in the 1930s, but I bet the S.A. marches looked a lot like this.
If this goes unchecked -- if the Prime Minister, the Premier, the Mayor of Montreal don't sharply rebuke this Lord of the Flies anti-Semitic flourish, this domestic recreation of the Durban hate-fest -- then, as sure as night follows day, we'll have our own Kristalnacht.
Because, really: how many steps is it from masked men waving terrorist flags, calling Jews dogs and burning the Star of David, to breaking some windows and torching some shops?
Montreal Jews can ask Parisian Jews how long it took. Not long.
Read the whole thing if you can; if not, here are some key paragraphs. I have bolded some sentences to which I'll refer in a moment:
Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford psychologist, reported in 1969 on some experiments testing the broken-window theory. He arranged to have an automobile without license plates parked with its hood up on a street in the Bronx and a comparable automobile on a street in Palo Alto, California. The car in the Bronx was attacked by "vandals" within ten minutes of its "abandonment."
...The car in Palo Alto sat untouched for more than a week. Then Zimbardo smashed part of it with a sledgehammer. Soon, passersby were joining in. Within a few hours, the car had been turned upside down and utterly destroyed. Again, the "vandals" appeared to be primarily respectable whites.
Untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder and even for people who ordinarily would not dream of doing such things and who probably consider themselves law-abiding. Because of the nature of community life in the Bronx—its anonymity, the frequency with which cars are abandoned and things are stolen or broken, the past experience of "no one caring"—vandalism begins much more quickly than it does in staid Palo Alto, where people have come to believe that private possessions are cared for, and that mischievous behavior is costly. But vandalism can occur anywhere once communal barriers—the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility—are lowered by actions that seem to signal that "no one cares."
We suggest that "untended" behavior also leads to the breakdown of community controls. A stable neighborhood of families who care for their homes, mind each other's children, and confidently frown on unwanted intruders can change, in a few years or even a few months, to an inhospitable and frightening jungle. A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is smashed. Adults stop scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out, unattached adults move in. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start drinking in front of the grocery; in time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Pedestrians are approached by panhandlers.
...In response to fear people avoid one another, weakening controls. Sometimes they call the police. Patrol cars arrive, an occasional arrest occurs but crime continues and disorder is not abated. Citizens complain to the police chief, but he explains that his department is low on personnel and that the courts do not punish petty or first-time offenders. To the residents, the police who arrive in squad cars are either ineffective or uncaring: to the police, the residents are animals who deserve each other. The citizens may soon stop calling the police, because "they can't do anything."
...This wish to "decriminalize" disreputable behavior that "harms no one"- and thus remove the ultimate sanction the police can employ to maintain neighborhood order—is, we think, a mistake. Arresting a single drunk or a single vagrant who has harmed no identifiable person seems unjust, and in a sense it is. But failing to do anything about a score of drunks or a hundred vagrants may destroy an entire community. A particular rule that seems to make sense in the individual case makes no sense when it is made a universal rule and applied to all cases. It makes no sense because it fails to take into account the connection between one broken window left untended and a thousand broken windows.
Enough quotes. What's the relevance to anti-Semitic rallies?
Look again at the anti-Semitic toughs at this massive rally in Toronto:
(I'll post some video from Montreal later, too.)
Look at the faces of the young men (and some of the young women). They're acting up. They're in Canada, and they know it's a tolerant, easy-going, multi-ethnic country. Most of them probably work or study in environments where there is some peer pressure to behave -- to be polite; to be moderate; certainly to limit one's expressions of bigotry, whether in the form of flying a terrorist flag, or in the form of calling for the death of a Jewish child.
But, together, in the face (literally, in the face!) of police, all of these socially transgressive behaviours are being tried out.
And there's no push-back.
There's no negative reaction.
You can see they're getting bolder. Some wear masks to hide their faces -- and, although in some ways that's a sign of cowardice, the very act of being allowed to wear a mask to hide one's identity, while supporting a terrorist group, is brazen.
The media coverage of these protests generally paints Israel as the offensive one -- not the anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist protesters.
The police stand by, and in both Toronto and Calgary have actually engaged to limit pro-Israel counter-protests.
And politicians? Largely silent.
What lessons are being learned?
Easy -- it's what James Q. Wilson taught us. It's okay to break those windows -- flying terrorist flags, holding mass anti-Semitic rallies, calling for death to Jews, marching in camouflage and face masks. That's a pretty big window that was broken without anyone shouting "stop".
You can see what some of the protesters are thinking. They're acting up. They're behaving badly. They're doing things they hadn't done before, at least in Canada. And now that they're doing it, and testing limits, and breaking social boundaries -- nothing. No reaction.
No reaction from the police who were there, no reaction even to the death threats, even to the criminal flag.
No reaction from the media -- other than generous reportage of the protest.
No serious reaction from the union members of CUPE-Ontario against their rogue, anti-Semite boss, except for an impotent online petition.
No reaction from Canada's execrable "human rights commissions". No reaction from that blundering fool, Jennifer Lynch.
No significant political reaction, either. Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff have said they support Israel's war of self-defence. Great. What do they think about massive anti-Semitic rallies on Canadian streets? I put it to you that's more important to Canadians.
And, most shamefully, no reaction from the Jews of silence.
Thousands of Jew-haters mobbed the street in Toronto, and metaphorically threw stones through the windows of Canada.
And no-one stopped them.
They heard that silence, loud and clear.
And so did Canadians worried about anti-Semitism, Islamic fascism and terrorism.
You can compare it to Wilson's broken windows theory. Or you can compare it to a young child, testing boundaries to find the limits of bad behaviour -- and finding no limits, yet.
There is a short period of time for the rebuke to come, before the lessons learned at those rallies solidify like concrete.
Harper's and Ignatieff's support for Jews in Israel, and their opposition to terrorists in Gaza, doesn't mean much without their support for Jews in Canada and condemnation of anti-Semitic Hamas supporters in Canada.
Let's look again at Wilson's warning about what happens when window-breaking goes unchecked:
We suggest that "untended" behavior also leads to the breakdown of community controls. A stable neighborhood of families who care for their homes, mind each other's children, and confidently frown on unwanted intruders can change, in a few years or even a few months, to an inhospitable and frightening jungle.Canada is that stable neighbourhood, but an audacious gang has just strutted through the main street -- and everyone was silent.
If we stay silent, get ready for an inhospitable and frightening jungle.
Hamas on Monday raided some 100 aid trucks that Israel had allowed into Gaza, stole their contents and sold them to the highest bidders....The IDF said that since terminal activity is coordinated with UNRWA and the Red Cross, Israel could do nothing to prevent such raids, Israel Radio reported.
There were about 175 people there, including plenty of kids -- impressive, given that it was colder than minus 30, with windchill.
They kept warm by chanting Allahu Akhbar, and compared Israel's prime minister to Hitler. You can see a pretty fair report of it here.
Some of the protesters went into the mall offices, probably to keep warm. Once in there, though, they went right up to the door of Harper's office. The office was closed for the day, but they went right up to it. No police were there, nothing. I could only imagine what would have transpired had the constituency office door not been locked. I find it odd that the police didn't have even a single officer inside, in case of that eventuality.
There was precisely one counter-protester, with a tiny Israeli flag:
At one point, the police told that counter-protester that if he didn't leave, he'd be arrested for "inciting civil disorder". I'm not making that up -- the lone pro-Israeli protester was told that, not the 175 people trespassing on the parking lot of a private mall. Maybe that's why the cops were too busy to station someone inside.
My point here is that the one counter-protester wasn't Jewish.
This protest was at Glenmore Landing mall, in the heart of what I like to call "Jewtopia" in Calgary. The Jewish Community Centre is literally across the street, on Jerusalem Road. The city's Holocaust memorial is there. A block further is a synagogue. You get the picture.
And the Jewish community didn't muster a single counter-protester. (A week later, the Jews had their own rally -- hidden away inside the JCC, lest anybody see it. Gentile participation: nil. At least they had a pro-Israel rally, though; Calgary's Official Jews have spent the past two years attending Syed Soharwardy's mosque in some masochistic display of "interfaith dialogue" -- this, with a man who still publishes columns by a terrorist leader on his website). Soharwardy himself attended this anti-Semitic rally -- I'm sure that won't stop Calgary's Official Jews from letting themselves be used as his PR cover.
Once upon a time, if a bunch of anti-Semites had come to the Jewish part of town, calling Jews Nazis, trespassing on private property, blocking access to Jewish stores, threatening a pro-Israel protester (and throwing a shoe at him), unfurling a terrorist flag, and cursing at a rabbi, self-respecting Jews would have at least asked the police to intervene, if not taken matters in to their own hands. Jews once actually did that sort of thing. Nowadays we cower.
I wonder if our community has that sense of survival, or pride, or confidence or even identity anymore. I don't see it in the community's leadership.
Izzy Asper had a phrase for Jews who would rather attend an "interfaith diaologue" with an anti-Semitic imam than condemn him. Izzy called them "Jews of silence."
Not all Jews are that way. I think a lot of Israelis here in Canada still have a survival instinct. And, probably because they grew up in Arab lands and had to fight every day, I think Sephardi Jews still have that identity, confidence and fire in them.
When I was a school boy at Calgary's now defunct I.L. Peretz School -- a Yiddish Labour Zionist school, thankfully devoid of the Labour part -- we were taught about the Holocaust, often by Lerer and Lererin Eichler, two Holocaust survivors themselves. I couldn't help but think, as I heard the stories of the 1930s, "didn't they know what was coming?" or "why didn't they do anything?". We know the answer -- the Jews of Germany thought that Germany was the heart of culture, too civilized to allow anything to actually happen. Many of the Jews were so integrated, they hardly even considered themselves Jews -- how could they possibly be in danger? Hitler was a fanatic; his stormtroopers were just young hotheads; everything would be fine. Besides: what could one do? I mean, really: what were you going to do?
That's the same feeling I get now. Everyone knows that the light on the dashboard is blinking. Things have gone nuts in places like France; so French Jews are emigrating en masse to Israel. Venezuela's remaining Jews are in a panic. Amsterdam's Jews are under siege. I'd say we're just a few years behind them on the curve.
But the Jews of silence do nothing.
Thankfully, the Christians will save us. Tonight I received the following letter, which I reprint in its entirety, with only a few identifying words redacted (simply because it's too late at night to ask for permission to print it it full!):
----- Original Message -----From:To: Ezra LevantSent: Sunday, January 11, 2009 9:11 PMSubject: IsraelHi Ezra,This is just to let you know, by way of encouragement, that we attended XXXX Church this morning. (My husband sings in a mens choir and they regularly participate in various church services around the city)As we entered the church we noticed there were two large flags unfurled at the front of the sanctuary. The first was, naturally, the Canadian flag but, to our surprise, the second was the Israeli flag. Pastor XX prayed for the state of Israel and the Jewish people positively in his prayer as well as mentioning the Gaza situation in his sermon. There was no moral equivalency happening in this church.I know this isn't the only evangelical church where this is happening.Sincerely,XXX
To which I replied, in part:
Canada's churches, especially of the evangelical variety, are more pro-Israel than many synagogues... Too many Jews are so afraid, that they want to "compromise" with evil, just to buy some false respite. And too many Jews are just sick of being demonized, so they choose to join the demonizers, and actually become anti-Israel Jews themselves. And plenty more just can't handle it, so they drop out of the discussion, essentially hiding from things.
I think that this is part of the war on terror. Jews are just the canary in the coal mine -- as always, and the State of Israel is just the Jew amongst the nations, and plays the same role. Israel's fight against Muslim fascists is merely first; France's, Holland's and Canada's will come later.
Too many people want to pretend that 9/11 didn't happen; they want to hit the snooze button on the alarm, instead of dealing with the new reality. I call those September 10th people. A surprising number them happen to be Jews. They're the kind of Jews who would rather go after a doddering, lone David Ahenakew than a mob of a thousand in downtown Toronto.
Thank God for September 12th people, especially evangelical Christians. I would place my life in their hands before those of the Official Jews anytime. I just hope that remains a hypothetical decision.
But really, verbal support for Israel in its war on Hamas is mere symbolism. It's important, because what our country says about Israel and Hamas is a reflection of who we are -- what we think of democracy, and violence, and our own moral code on everything from a nation's right to self-defence to the war on terror.
But, at the end of the day, Harper and Ignatieff are simply uttering words. The worst that they'll have to face are some disgruntled Muslim radicals in Canada, like the bigoted Canadian Islamic Congress. So what. And, given that Harper and Ignatieff are rhetorically the same, one would think the politics of the matter are neutralized.
But there is a much larger problem, a much more real problem, that the war in Gaza has revealed: massive anti-Semitism amongst Canadian Arabs and the Canadian Left.
Take a few minutes to watch this video, from downtown Toronto:
The CHRC itself acknowledges that they pursue nobodies through section 13. They justify it because they say that the Holocaust "began with words".
...the people who promote hate on the Internet and elsewhere are, thankfully, relatively few and are operating on the margins of society. All they are doing it pounding out their dark words in their dark basements. Why not leave the hate geeks alone and get on with other more important things.
The answer is simple: words matter. And they matter a great deal.
I quote the Minister of Justice, the Honourable Irwin Cotler, when he addressed the House of Commons last spring on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day:Let us keep those chilling facts in mind
The enduring lesson of the Holocaust is that these genocidal murders succeeded not only because of the industry of death but because of the ideology of hate. ... As our Supreme Court has affirmed, the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers, it began with words. These are the catastrophic effects of racism. These are the chilling facts of history.
That's not true of course. Words didn't kill anyone in Germany. There were anti-Semitic words for centuries in Germany. It wasn't until Jews had their true civil rights taken away -- their right to property, right to self-defence, mobility rights, economic rights, and ultimately their right to life -- that the Holocaust could happen. Jews didn't die because they lacked the counterfeit right not to be offended. In fact, pre-Nazi Germany had laws like section 13 -- they obviously didn't stop the Nazis. And now we see that our own version of those Weimar hate-speech laws have precisely the same effect 75 years later: no effect.
Well, that's not quite true, either. Because the very Islamists who were marching in Toronto are now amongst the chief users and abusers of our hate speech laws -- filing hate speech complaints at anyone who dares criticize radical Islam. The Nazis, too, used hate speech laws: first, they used the trials a forum for their own views; then, when they took over, they used the laws to go after their own political enemies.
So what is my point? Do I want section 13 to be expanded, to go after my own political enemies -- the bigots, Jew-haters and terrorist supporters in the video above?
Of course not. In fact, I'm glad to have seen that bigotry -- I'm glad it wasn't censored. How else would I know of the peril?
If there were any real criminal acts at that protest, they should be pursued. I don't think the death threat reached the criminal standard. And I don't think merely flying the Hezbollah flag is a criminal offence -- but if I was a cop, I'd say it's fair game to suspect a Hezbollah flag-flyer might well have other ties with Hezbollah. (Wouldn't you say the same thing if someone publicly flew a mafia flag, if there was one, and defended the mafia?)
I think the first thing that needs to happen is for Harper and Ignatieff to condemn these anti-Semitic rallies in forceful, even bitter, terms.
I think they have to be condemned as anti-Canadian.
They have to be -- to borrow a word -- denormalized.
Not criminalized. But it has to be made clear that anyone who flies terrorist flags, who calls for the death of Jews, who engages in flagrant anti-Semitism is outside of acceptable company.
Whatever unions or organizations or advocacy groups or mosques participated in that near-pogrom need to be blackballed. No government grants. No meetings with ministers or even MPs. No boilerplate government ads in Arabic newspapers that support the bigotry.
Public denunciation. Marginalization. Starting from the top: the Prime Minister himself.
Watching that video felt like watching a march of the nascent SA, the Nazi Sturmabteilung or Stormtroopers, the forerunners of the SS. They weren't quite as cohesive; they didn't have their standard uniforms yet; they were seething, but they didn't boil over into violence. But they had control of the streets of the biggest city in Canada, the city with the biggest Jewish community, the most multicultural, pluralistic and tolerant city -- they were the bosses of it. Look at the young toughs -- clearly enjoying it.
Most went home merely encouraged with their success.
But I have no doubt that many went home and decided to move from idle talk of anti-Semitism to action.
Montreal has seen anti-Semitic arson, as has Edmonton. Calgary has seen anti-Semitic assaults. After the vitriol on display, I can't imagine Toronto will escape it in 2009.
Let me close by quoting Harper's comments in Maclean's magazine. He was making the case for hate speech laws:
...they do exist for valid reasons, which is obviously to prevent public airwaves from being used to disseminate hate against vulnerable members of our society.Canada's hate speech laws didn't stop a mob of thousands of anti-Semites. They couldn't -- section 13 doesn't apply to rallies, or verbal exhortations.
We don't need hate speech laws to fight the grotesquery in that video.
We need a sustained, unyielding, embarrassing denunciation of that sort of protest from the Prime Minister, the Premier, the Mayor and everyone else with a bully pulpit.
Those leaders can't do much about the Jew-haters in Gaza. But they can tell the Jew-haters in our own country that that's not acceptable here.
...Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
Working definition: "Anti-[S]emitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti[-S]emitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities."
- Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
- Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective - such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
- Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
- Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g., gas chambers), or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
- Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
- Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
Examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:
- Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor).
- Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
- Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
- Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
- Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.
I think that's a pretty good working definition. It makes sense; I mean, anyone who said that Ireland is an illegal country, and that it should be abolished, and that anyone who supported Ireland was a bigot -- why, they'd be called anti-Irish, if not just plain nuts. That's the central claim of Hamas and its supporters: that Israel itself has no right to exist.
The use of Nazi imagery is particularly odious. It has several malign purposes: first, to profane the real Holocaust, by dulling the meaning of the words "Nazi" and "Holocaust" by trivializing it. If a short skirmish between Israel and Hamas is no better than a Holocaust, than the Holocaust was no worse than this current battle -- in other words, it wasn't so bad.
The second thing, of course, is it pre-empts the proper use of the words Nazi and Holocaust, for example to describe the actual plans of today's anti-Semites, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has positively called for a second Holocaust (while denying the first one.)
Finally, and most obviously, the malign purpose of using Nazi imagery to describe Jews is to compare Jews to the purest evil known in our modern culture. Comparing Jews to Communists or capitalists (the 1930s smear) doesn't cut a lot of ice in 2009. But the word "Nazi" still does.
That's why Sid Ryan of CUPE is an anti-Semite. That's why Syed Soharwardy, the imam who took me to the human rights commission, is an anti-Semite. Ryan compared Israel to the Nazis. Soharwardy, in a novel mix of stupidity and hyperbole, said what Israel is doing to Palestinians is actually worse than the Holocaust.
Judging by the comments my blog has received, the sentiment of my readers is that I am too optimistic; they're focused on the PM's statement that he "no plans" to reform section 13, the censorship provision of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Here's Ken Whyte's reflections on the PM's comments, just posted to Maclean's website -- Whyte himself was interviewed. Some excerpts (I've put some of my favourite parts in bold):
On being voted journalist of the year:
A. It’s gratifying that some of my colleagues have recognized that Maclean’s is doing well and I want to congratulate everyone at the magazine on a great year but, really, we won this thing because of the Human Rights Commissions. We spent a good part of 2009 defending ourselves against a campaign by a handful of Muslim activists to have our journalism branded hateful and racist. We stood up to their complaints and defended ourselves—and, in particular, an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s bestselling book America Alone—and in doing so we attracted the support of a lot of smart and energetic bloggers. These bloggers, long before the mainstream media, recognized the complaints as a politically-motivated threat to free expression and open journalistic inquiry. They threw their weight behind me in this poll and put me over the top and I want to return the favor by dedicating this honor to them.
Q. To the blogosphere?
A. To that particular part of the blogosphere that got engaged in these human rights complaints. I can’t name them all but individuals like Ezra Levant, Jay Currie, Kathy Shaidle, among others, discovered and disseminated a lot of alarming information about the operations of human rights commissions and the decisions of their tribunals. The debate got pretty messy on both sides as it went along, but these people prodded the newspapers and the public to question the advisability of allowing unaccountable, politicized, and rather slipshod commissions to interfere with one of our most precious liberties. Along with Mark Steyn, who wrote a lot about the case, they did a great service to Canadian journalism in 2009. I’m deeply grateful for their support—it was shaping up as a lonely fight until the bloggers got involved. They’re the ones who really deserve this award so I consider myself to be accepting it on their behalf.
Q. In your interview with the Prime Minister in this week’s Maclean’s, he says that his government will not be moving to rewrite the section of the Canadian Human Right’s Act that interferes with free speech. Were you disappointed by that?
A. Disappointed but not surprised. I’ve never expected a political solution to this, and even if Harper were to act, the real problems are the provincial commissions which are a lot more activist on speech issues than the federal commission, and the chances of getting them all to change their ways–especially when some, like Ontario, are looking to expand their influence–are remote. I think our only hope is a legal solution.
Q. What would that look like?
A. That would require someone who loses before a human rights commission appealing the matter to a real court and ultimately the Supreme Court. I’m told by our lawyers that, despite our vindication by the BC commission, we could still mount a constitutional challenge in that province that would have a high likelihood of success. The problem is that it would cost us several hundred thousand dollars, at a minimum, and we’ve already spent that much defending ourselves against three complaints in separate jurisdictions–all brought by the same complainant–and it’s difficult to make a case for spending that kind of money in this economic environment. But the matter is not dead yet.
Here's a member of Liblogs.ca justifying Hamas's use of civilian shields.
I'm not surprised that his site is adorned with a Teutonic Cross, which I've copied and pasted to the left.
If this appeared on a Tory site, it would be national news and the Canadian Human Rights Commission would be investigating.
I'm wondering how long the excuse of "it's just a blogger" will last.
hat tip: R.W.
UPDATE: A reader chides me, noting that the Teutonic Cross was a medieval symbol of crusaders and defenders of Jerusalem, not a modern symbol of white supremacists. He's mainly right, but like some other ancient symbols, such as the Celtic Cross, the Teutonic Cross is sometimes appropriated by white supremacists. But let's give our anti-Israel blogger here the benefit of the doubt.)
Maclean’s magazine has published their end-of-the-year interview with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
There are important comments about the Liberal-Bloc-NDP coalition and the economy, but here I’d like to assess the PM’s answer to Ken Whyte’s question about human rights commissions. Here is the exchange:
Q: Will the government amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prevent unwarranted interferences in free expression by human rights commissions?
A: The government has no plans to do so. We’re certainly aware of the issue. My understanding—we’ve been monitoring this closely—I think you’ll actually see there’s been some modification of behaviour on the part of the Canadian human rights commissions. The most egregious cases right now are mostly at the provincial level. And it is a very tricky issue of public policy because obviously, as we’ve seen, some of these powers can be abused. But they do exist for valid reasons, which is obviously to prevent public airwaves from being used to disseminate hate against vulnerable members of our society. That’s a valid objective. It’s probably the case that we haven’t got the balance right, but I’m not sure the government today has any answer on what an appropriate balance would be.
This has come as a disappointment to some free speech advocates who had hoped that, by now, the Prime Minister would have answered Whyte’s question more along the lines of “yes, we will amend it” or “we’re considering it."
I say “by now”, because the denormalization of Canada’s human rights commissions is well underway, and the obvious corollary to the almost universal view – including, evidently, the PM’s view – that HRCs are infringing upon our freedoms, is that legislative reforms must be undertaken. As long-time readers will recall, that’s the second step in the simple two-step plan I suggested a year ago:
1. Denormalize the commissions; and
2. Press legislators to act.
The first makes the second possible.
So what does it mean? Does it mean that no changes will come in the future? Hardly.
I am of the belief that, had the government won a majority government in October, and thus had some predictability in terms of its tenure, reform of section 13 would have been a certainty. And I am also of the belief that, had the three opposition parties not attempted their putsch last month, reform would have been cautiously undertaken, even with the current minority government, with Professor Moon’s recommendation of scrapping the censorship provision being the peg for such a reform.
But all the government’s priorities changed dramatically once the Liberal-Bloc-NDP coalition tried to seize power. That’s a trite observation – everything from the government’s approach to Senate reform to the budget has been overhauled with the opposition putsch in mind. And many other things, including very big things, have been put on hold.
Do I wish that the PM had answered Whyte in the affirmative? Of course. But it’s unrealistic to think that a Prime Minister who is focused like a laser on the country's economy and indeed his party's hold on office would have, in the few weeks since all the excitement, engaged a plan to reform section 13 – and if he had, to announce such a plan in response to a spontaneous question.
I have no doubt that the handful of pro-censorship voices in Canada will regard the above as wishful thinking, and indeed many impatient reformers will, too. But I submit that Parliament's laws are not changed on a dime; I challenge my skeptical readers to give me an example of legislation of this sort being changed on a timetable shorter than the one I predicted just a few days ago – that is, by the end of 2009. Parliament, especially a minority Parliament in a constitutional crisis, simply doesn’t move at the speed of the Internet.
Let me take you through the PM’s remarks sentence by sentence, and justify my interpretation, starting with the question:
Q: Will the government amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prevent unwarranted interferences in free expression by human rights commissions?
First of all, you’ve got to admit that’s a great question by Whyte.
A: The government has no plans to do so.
Perhaps I’m being too literal, but of course the government has no plans to do so. We know this – that’s what we’re working to change. We knew it didn’t have those plans before the October election. In November, the party had its policy convention, and voted 99% to get those plans. But within days, the opposition putsch was launched.
Do readers genuinely think that the government would have gone from “no plans” to “plans” in that one-week period?
And, once the putsch had concentrated the mind of the government on two things – political survival, and economic policies – do you really think that the PM would focus on any other non-core issue, at least until the budget is passed?
I’m sorry, but I just don’t find it remarkable that the PM said he does not now have plans to amend the law. Didn’t we all know that – and isn’t that the focus of 2009’s efforts? Wasn’t 2008 the year of denormalization, and 2009 the year of legislative reform?
We’re certainly aware of the issue.
That’s what I mean by denormalization. I put it to you that twelve months ago, the PM was not “certainly aware” of the issue.
My understanding—we’ve been monitoring this closely—
Again, do you really think the PMO monitored HRCs closely before our campaign of denormalization? Would he be monitoring something closely if he didn’t think it were a live issue?
I think you’ll actually see there’s been some modification of behaviour on the part of the Canadian human rights commissions.
Of course, this is true. The CHRC refused to hear the Canadian Islamic Congress’s case against Maclean’s and Mark Steyn; the CHRC complaint against me (made by Rob Wells) was dismissed also; the CHRC has, in the past six months, dropped its cases against Fr. Alphonse de Valk of Catholic Insight magazine. We’ve discussed this: it’s the CHRC reacting to political pressure, and dropping the big fish (or, in the case of Fr. de Valk, sympathetic fish) in the hopes that the media scrutiny will subside. It’s corruption, of course – letting political trouble-makers go free, and grinding Joe Average, who can’t get press coverage, into powder.
I note that the PM said “some modification” – because, as the CHRC’s vendetta against the Free Dominion website shows, the CHRC’s behavior is not much modified.
The most egregious cases right now are mostly at the provincial level.
I love that -- "the most egregious". I agree with the PM. There are egregious cases, and there are more egregious cases, and then there are the most egregious cases.
I’d have to agree with the PM that the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is the worst. They have the most cases go through, and the zaniest rulings (I predict that, under Barbara Hall, the Ontario HRC will soon overtake the BCHRT). Even in the Mark Steyn/Maclean’s case, the BCHRT were the lone fools to have a week-long trial – both the CHRC and the Ontario HRC declined to hear the matter. It’s the BCHRT that will have a trial of comedian Guy Earle; it’s the BCHRT that ruled a McDonald’s server didn’t have to wash her hands, etc. B.C. is the worst. But the CHRC is the biggest and most powerful HRC, and its conduct is the most troubling. I'd put them in the "more egregious" category.
As I’ve documented before, the CHRC engages in troubling conduct ranging from joining neo-Nazi organizations and publishing hundreds of anti-Semitic, anti-gay and anti-Black comments online; to hacking into private citizens Internet accounts; to illegally acquiring evidence obtained by police search warrants; to violating access to information and disclosure laws, etc., etc. They’re the HRC without an ethics code; they’re the HRC whose “hate speech” investigator says he doesn’t believe in freedom of speech, since it’s an "American” concept.
And it is a very tricky issue of public policy because obviously, as we’ve seen, some of these powers can be abused.
I take heart in this sentence. It’s not a statement that the HRCs might possibly abuse their powers. It’s a statement that they have indeed abused their powers, “obviously, as we’ve seen”. That’s quite an incredible statement.
But they do exist for valid reasons,
HRCs were invented for reasons that may have been valid forty years ago, when human rights issues were a genuine political problem (as I’ve argued before, those problems were trumped up). But, as the Supreme Court ruled in the 1990 Taylor case, HRCs had to beware of exceeding their mandate, especially when it came to censorship. Clearly, they’ve strayed from their original purpose – and strayed beyond the scope permitted to them by the Supreme Court.
which is obviously to prevent public airwaves from being used to disseminate hate against vulnerable members of our society.
Here I must correct the PM. Section 13 of the CHRA does not apply to “public airwaves”. In fact, subsection 2 of section 13 explicitly exempts the public airwaves from censorship, saying the law “does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.”
In other words, the CHRC doesn’t govern TV or radio stations – or anything that could be called “public”. Translation: it doesn’t go after big people or powerful people. It picks little people, harmless people – people on the Internet. In fact, many of the CHRC’s section 13 cases aren’t even for “offences” on Canadian websites – they target Canadians writing on U.S. websites like Stormfront and Vanguard News. What is a Canadian agency doing policing a U.S. website for mere words?
That’s a valid objective.
Is protecting “vulnerable members of our society” from the emotion called hate a valid objective? I suppose -- no-one wants to be hated, though I'm not sure how a government can cause people to turn off an emotion. Is stopping that emotion a greater objective than protecting the fundamental freedoms of Canadians like freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Of course not.
It’s probably the case that we haven’t got the balance right,
Just stop for a moment. The Prime Minister has said that the law as it stands isn’t right. I’m sorry, but I find it difficult to interpret that in any way other than the CHRC has been denormalized, the PM is open to reforms, but the unexpected political turmoil since the election (and the Tory policy convention) has distracted him from attending to those reforms.
If you’re the chief lawmaker in the land, you just don’t declare a law to be out of balance if you’re happy with it.
but I’m not sure the government today has any answer on what an appropriate balance would be.
Of course it doesn’t. It doesn’t have the answer “today”. Because “today” was in the thick of a crisis that unfolded just a week after the Tory policy convention voted to repeal section 13. I’d be surprised if Harper even had a chance to talk with the Justice Minister about the subject before the opposition putsch presented itself.
I say again, it would have been incredibly encouraging for the PM to have answered Whyte’s question in the affirmative. It would have even felt miraculous -- like Prof. Moon's completely unexpected recommendation to repeal section 13. But one cannot expect miracles to happen -- it's up to us to continue pressing, day by day, inch by inch. On careful review, I’m not sure if what the PM said was “no” so much as “not today”.
There are those on the losing side of this debate, Canada's petty censors, who will grasp at a few words in this interview as “proof” that the campaign to roll back censorship is lost. That is an exercise in denial. And there are those on the winning side of this debate who will look at this interview as “proof” that Harper is opposed to reform. That is an exercise in impatience.
I look at this interview and see a half dozen condemnations of the HRCs that ought to chill the blood of the HRCs, the CHRC in particular. I see a Prime Minister who has been – obviously – thinking about other things for the past six weeks, and who has no intention of taking his eye off the ball in the short term. And I see our campaign – denormalization in 2008, legislation in 2009 – as on track.
Call me an optimist if you will: I accept that. But look at how far we’ve come in 12 months and tell me I’ve been wrong in my optimism. Call me a dupe or a shill: I reject that. I’ve kept in touch as well as I could with the PMO these past three months, and it’s simply a fact that everything except the economy and the constitutional integrity of the government is off the table until the opposition putsch is resolved. My goal here is not simply to be a pundit, or a writer. It's to actually achieve legislative reform. That requires a dose of practicality, not just idealism.
Call me too patient: maybe. But bloggers are used to things happening in hours, not months or years. Frankly, every new month brings more embarrassing news from the wacky world of HRCs, and adds another layer of sediment to their new disreputation. Twelve months of denormalization is why the PM is so comfortable bad-mouthing Canada's HRCs are abusive and egregious.
I’ve seen this debate declared “over” so many times this past year by desperate censors hoping that the cause of freedom will be abandoned by activists. But those naysayers don’t get it. Freedom isn’t a fad that comes and goes in a season. It’s not a short-lived blip on the Internet. It’s a natural, indelible human instinct, and the blogosphere just happens to be a great medium for protecting and expanding freedom, and defending it against bullies.
Hell, how do you think Harper became “aware” of the HRCs’ “egregious” “powers” that “as we’ve seen” “ can be abused”, and “we haven’t got the balance right”?
The Internet – and a few fearless friends breaking the story into the mainstream media for us.
I stand by my prediction: legislative reform in 2009.
I think it's worth an e-mail to the PM to tell him that he can surely walk and chew gum at the same time -- there's no reason why he can't have his Justice Minister enact the simple reform of repealing section 13, while the PM and the Finance Minister handle the economy. Click here to send a note to the Prime Minister.
"Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself,'' he told reporters in Halifax on Thursday after speaking to a forum of business leaders on the economy.
"Israel has been attacked from Gaza, not just last year, but for almost 10 years. They evacuated from Gaza so there is no occupation in Gaza.''
..."Hamas is a terrorist organization and Canada can't touch Hamas with a 10-foot pole,'' he said. ``Hamas is to blame for organizing and instigating these rocket attacks and then for sheltering among civilian populations.''
Peter Kent, the Conservative minister of state for foreign affairs was equally forceful:
"The position of the government of Canada is that Hamas bears the burden of responsibility for the deepening humanitarian tragedy,'' Kent said.
"Until they commit to a permanent ceasefire _ a truly permanent ceasefire, a durable ceasefire _ and don't use it as a break to re-arm and resume rocketing, the fighting will go on.''
I'm glad that, at least at the leadership level, there is now no daylight between the pro-Israel positions of the Conservatives and Liberals. It's a welcome change from 2006, when Ignatieff called Israel a war criminal. My lingering worry, though, is the grassroots and especially the "netroots" of the Liberals, which remain markedly anti-Israel.
Now all we need to do is bring Taliban Jack back from the brink. I'll close with a photo of Stephane Dion, Jack Layton and Syed Ryan, head of AL-QUPE-Ontario.
I'm not sure if Pierre "just watch me" Trudeau would have been as pin-point in his response as Israel has been, as seen in the below video. And I'm pretty sure that Trudeau wouldn't have continued to provide electricity, water, medical supplies, etc., to that FLQ hotbed, as Israel does for Gaza to this day.
The Hamas supporters have won.
If you look through the site, the anti-Israel bloggers outnumber those who support Israel.
Of course, it goes without saying that to be critical of Israel does not necessarily mean someone is anti-Semitic -- just like being critical of Barack Obama doesn't make someone racist. But if criticisms of Obama explicitly mention his race, or if criticisms of Obama are made that wouldn't be made against any other white politician, then it's fair to cry racism.
And, by that same test, a troublingly large number of blogs on the Liblogs site are anti-Semitic. I won't repeat the details now -- see my earlier posts for graphic examples, including the execrable James Curran who claimed that a Czech politician who supported Israel only did so because his great-grandfather was allegedly Jewish, and thus, as a Jew himself, the politician was biased and was not a loyal Czech.
(Curran is a bigot -- and he still hasn't revealed where he got his alleged fact that the politician in question is 1/8 Jewish. I have read three online biographies of Karel Schwartzenberg, and have not found it; my suspicion is that Curran got that false information from a neo-Nazi website, like "Jew Watch", that claims everyone they don't like in the world is Jewish. Curran has avoided answering the question of where he got his "fact", which speaks volumes.)
I don't feel like wading through the sewer of Liblogs again, going through line by line showing the extreme hostility to Israel, and where it crosses over from mere criticism to bigotry. Take a skim yourself -- and see what has become of the party of Jerry Grafstein, Irwin Cotler, Leo Kolber, Gerry Schwartz, Bob Kaplan, etc.
Look here, here, here, here, and here for a few more examples all along the anti-Israel spectrum.
(UPDATE: Blogger Scott Ross complains that I have inaccurately labeled him as anti-Israel, because of his opposition to Jason Cherniak, owner of Liblogs.ca, sending his own pro-Israel message to his fellow Liblogs members. I'll review Ross's blog again and report back.)
It's embarrassing -- and the mainstream media has noticed (classic headline: "Liberals need to deal with fruitcakes in their ranks"). And well they should: imagine the cries of racism if this bile were published on a site affiliated with the Conservative party. Hell, there'd be a human rights commission investigation.
It is simply not accurate to call the Liberal Party supportive of Israel, if its grassroots army of bloggers is any indication.
I actually find this sad; I hope it is merely the political equivalent of the medical phenomenon of an "opportunistic infection" -- that is, that the Liberal Party is so atrophied that it is easy pickings for riff-raff who would not find purchase in a party that was more vigorous and vibrant. The Liberal Party's decline -- their percentage of the popular vote has gone down four elections in a row -- is now an easy mark for those pushing a radical agenda. They used to go to the Greens or the NDP; now they've gone Liberal.
I don't wish Michael Ignatieff too much luck -- I'm a Conservative and a conservative. But I hope Ignatieff has enough luck -- and conviction -- to rescue his party from the 9/11 truthers, anti-Semites and Israel-haters that have swamped his party's netroots.
It's still early, but at this very moment I'm actually leading by about 50 votes. It would be great to win -- it would be a readers' seal of approval on my free speech activism, and hopefully bring new traffic to the site, too.
UPDATE: While you're there, vote for Small Dead Animals (another one of my co-defendants!) as "best conservative blog". Kate's in the lead now -- quite something, as the only Canadian in the running!
The Israeli war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza begs the question: what should a sovereign state do in response to terrorists?
Well, we could listen to anti-Israel words. Or we could listen to deeds.
For example, we could look at how Russia dealt with its Islamist threat in Grozny. In the mid-nineties, Russia basically shelled the city until it turned to rubble -- killing 27,000 Chechens. Oh -- and that was just one of three Russian attacks on the city. You can tool around on Google maps, satellite view, and still see flattened areas of the city. I'm sure the United Nations General Assembly is just polishing up the wording on their resolution to condemn Russia right now.
How about Sri Lanka? Their civil war with the terrorist Tamil Tigers has cost 70,000 lives. When will Sid Ryan and CUPE call for a ban on Sri Lankan academics?
Or how about the French? How about their own tangle with Arabs, in the case of Algeria? 150,000 dead?
But we need not go that far back. How about the first Gulf War, in which Canada participated? Depending on who you ask, between 20,000 and 200,000 Iraqis died.
Or, my favourite yardstick of over-reaction: Canada's October Crisis, where a handful of bombs going off in mailboxes and a couple of kidnappings was enough for the Liberals to put tanks in the street and suspend civil liberties in the whole country. Geez, what would Trudeau have done if actual rocket attacks had been launched, Gaza-style?
My point isn't to disparage any of the above military missions, though some were clearly excessive. My point is to compare the dainty approach taken by Israel -- which actually mass-dials Palestinian cell phones in advance of attacks, warning civilians to get out of the way -- with the brutal approach taken by other countries, especially Israel's critics.
I haven't even mentioned China's approach to Tibet or East Turkmenistan, let alone the response by other Arab countries to Islamists, like the massacre in Hama, Syria, where that city was surrounded and just shelled and shelled until 40,000 people -- about a quarter of the population back then -- were killed. By their own government.
The idea of any other country in the world -- including the very ethical U.S. -- acting as carefully as Israel in combat is unthinkable. (When the world saw the U.S. "shock and awe" attacks that opened the 2003 Iraq War, the global response was amazement and admiration, not human rights complaints.) And the thought that Arab nations, or dictatorships like China, would have any advice worth listening to, is execrable.
He says Israel has "crosse[d] a line into barbarism." That's not a typo -- Israel is barbaric. Not Hamas terrorists. Israel has committed "brutal excesses". Again, not Hamas, but Israel.
Here's another one. Michael Ignatieff, says this Liberal activist, is
kneeling to pledge unquestioning fealty to Israel.
Israel has a lot of motives for bombing the hell out of the people of Gaza that have nothing to do with self-defence.
Really? Lots of motives for killing "the people of Gaza"? Let me guess: the Jews need the blood to bake their Passover matzos, right?
This quote is amazing -- not enough Jewish blood being spilt:
You might as well ask yourself how many Israeli soldiers suffered so much as a hangnail during this bombing campaign?
Or calling the Israeli action a "pogrom" -- the Russian word for the group murder of Jews. Hey, why not just call Israel's action a Holocaust?
Here's another B.C. Liberal blogger, who is calling for what seems to be a military intervention to stop Israel. Like other Liberal bloggers, he has condemned Ignatieff's support for Israel, claiming that it makes the Liberals guilty of murder, too. What's the response to his over-the-top posts? Another Liberal blogger, Western Grit, agrees.
And how about James Curran? He keeps digging himself deeper. First came his strange half-apology for claiming that a Czech politician whose great-grandfather was allegedly Jewish couldn't be loyal to the Czech Republic because he was a Jew, and thus he was biased and un-Czech.
(I'm still waiting for Curran to divulge where he got the "fact" that the politicians was 1/8 Jewish -- I assume it was from a neo-Nazi website and is false.)
Curran is now doubling down on his losing hand of ignorance and malice. His new anti-Israel lie is his claim that Israel has only now reestablished a corridor of humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Israel has routinely let in medical supplies. To claim the contrary is a damnable lie, a lie that paints Jews as heartless punishers of civilians. Forget Curran's absence of any mention of Hamas that deliberately jeopardizes Gazan Palestinians -- putting civilians in harm's way is their entire PR strategy, in fact.
And Curran doesn't mention the blockade on the Egyptian border of Gaza. Now why's that? My guess is it's because the Egyptian in charge isn't 1/8 Jewish, so Curran doesn't have an Egyptian to blame on that side.
Curran also says that Israel isn't allowing people in or out. Another damnable lie -- Israel frequently lets out those needing help, such as Arab Christians fleeing anti-Christian punishment at the hands of Hamas theocrats. Curran is probably just too ignorant to know about that -- or that the last batch of Christians to leave to Israel (going to Bethlehem for Christmas) were attacked by Hamas terrorists firing mortar shells. Oh -- and Hamas has brought back crucifixion as a punishment.
I haven't spent a lot of time digging through the muck in Liblogs.ca, but I've found a lot of anti-Israel propaganda, some of which crosses over into full-blown anti-Semitism.
This isn't about whether it's okay to criticize Israeli policy. Of course it is -- Israelis criticize their own government more than anyone else, I think.
This is about whether a legitimate, democratic, free country has the right to defend itself -- rather meekly -- against a sustained attack on it by an avowedly fascist theocratic murdering terrorist group.
These Liberal bloggers would not take the sides of terrorists against any other nation. The only thing that's different here is that it's a Jewish nation that's fighting back. Curran, and his three fellow bloggers too cowardly to use their own names, just don't like Jews, and they're not shy about saying it.
It looks bad on the party of Herb Gray, Irwin Cotler, Jerry Graftein and Bob Kaplan.
What should be done about anti-Semitism in the Liberal Party?
Jason Cherniak’s approach is to ask everyone to focus solely on a pro-Israel statement made by that party’s leader, Michael Ignatieff, and to ignore any Liberal voices to the contrary. I’m glad Cherniak is trying to rebut various anti-Semites within his party, such as James Curran. But I don’t think Cherniak’s going to get far merely by arguing with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activists. By the time someone is actually supporting the Hamas terrorist group, it’s a safe bet that a few words in an Internet chat isn’t going to turn them around.
Warren Kinsella has a similar approach. Like Cherniak, he senses that his party is being infected by anti-Semites who would not have been welcome there under Jean Chretien’s leadership. What’s his advice? Kinsella asks the bigots within his party to be quiet, lest they cause a media stir. His blog entry is really quite incredible: he points to a Canada-Israel Committee news release a couple of years ago criticizing a Liberal anti-Semite, and calls the news release “unhelpful”. I suppose if your primary objective is partisan success, then the CIC news release was unhelpful. If, instead, your goal is the removal of intolerant people from the public square, the CIC news release was very helpful indeed.
To be clear, being opposed to an Israeli policy isn’t anti-Semitic – but being supportive of Hamas, an officially anti-Semitic terrorist organization, is anti-Semitic. And comments, like Curran’s, that attack a supporter of Israel because his great-grandfather was allegedly Jewish, and thus that supporter is disloyal to his own country, is despicable. That’s not a policy disagreement – that’s Jew-hatred. It’s a little bit weird to see it in Canada, and spouted by someone as “normal” looking as Curran. But Cherniak and Kinsella and other Liberals will have to make a choice: how far can anti-Semites go before being turfed from the party? How about before they’re merely turfed from Liblogs.ca? Will the Liberal Party exercise some discipline and political hygiene? Or will the media and voters have to do it for them?
(By the way, as I’ve argued countless times before, this is one of the main benefits of freedom of speech when it comes to haters: the haters reveal themselves, so they can be marginalized in society. I wouldn’t want to live in a country where Curran couldn’t questions Jews’ national loyalty, or where Curran couldn’t take Hamas’s side in a war. I want Curran to expose himself, who he really is, so others than react accordingly. No government involvement necessary – just the good judgment of others.)
I say again: Israel shouldn’t be a wedge issue, where pro-Israel Canadians vote Conservative, and anti-Israel Canadians vote Liberal. And, to his credit, Ignatieff has taken a more pro-Israel tone this time than he did in 2006, when he accused Israel of war crimes.
I glanced again at Liblogs.ca, the aggregator of Liberal blog sites, and I came across this wonder by a blogger named “Foot to the Fire”. I can’t find his real name, but he appears to be a Liberal from Calgary. His spelling is at a grade school level. But his aesthetic problems pale next to his vituperation against Stephen Harper, for being a tool of the “Zionists” – and that Harper has taken his view in return for Jewish money. Here’s the link, and here are a few excerpts (I've put asterisks in here and there where the swearing is particularly vile, and put a few words in bold):
Never out of a bottom to mine for slime in his quest for the 'crown', Stephen Harper adds his own parasitic brand of venom to insure a horrible war stays horrible.
With a hot source of funding froma...pro zionist movements here in Canada, Harper buffers the ol' slush fund income with a word, "on behalf of Canadians everywhere", in support of Israel as that country cluster f*cks/bombs Gaza.
Well heres a F*CK YOU, for you Stephen Harper!
I'm from the 'negotiated settlement' community and those of us with brains not stuffed up our *sses all know a negotiated settlement is the only way things will be resolved. Here's a boner for you to, you fat *ss moron, Steve; Israeli's know it too.
One of these days, Isreale supporters in this country will come to understand that Harper represents and is surrounded by, fundamentalist rascists; use him if you must but...watch your backs.
There’s really not a lot to say in response. Get a spell check would be my first piece of advice, but I’d probably leave it at that. If I were a mother, I’d probably tell this blogger to wash his mouth out with soap and water, just for his sheer filthiness. But once those aesthetic comments were made, I’d be left with the realization that the Liberal Party of Canada, and Liblogs.ca, is home to anti-Semitic nuts, who think Harper is being “used” by parasitic Jews, who buy Harper’s obedience through a “slush fund”.
Don’t the Liberals remember their candidate Lesley Hughes, and the enormous embarrassment she caused them?
Look: a small part of me loves this. The raw partisan within me is rejoicing at seeing the embarrassing degeneration of the Liberal Party. But it’s just a small part of me. Canada needs a healthy Liberal Party that exercises proper political hygiene towards its membership. It’s one thing to hurl a volley of dirty words at Stephen Harper – that’s childish, but it’s partisan politics I suppose. But it’s another thing to imply that Harper’s support for Israel is part of a conspiracy of parasitic Jews stuffing Harper’s pockets with money.
I want Stephen Harper to win the next election. But I am not such a partisan that I like to see the once-great Liberal Party infected with this kind of base racism.
Occasionally I visit the Liberal analog to Blogging Tories. It's called Liblogs, and you can see it here. To my regret, it's awash in anti-Israel opinion, some of it troublingly anti-Jewish.
I haven't read every entry on Blogging Tories, but it's pretty solidly pro-Israel and anti-Hamas, especially its biggest blogs, like Small Dead Animals. Nor have I read every entry on Liblogs, but skimming it, it seems that the majority are hostile to Israel.
Take James Curran, just to choose one example. In this recent entry (click here if that link doesn't work in your browser) he states that, because "the rest of the world" thinks Israel is wrong, it's probably wrong. He cites the British PM calling for a ceasefire (good idea: the Israeli attack began precisely because Hamas quit its sham ceasefire, and rained down missiles on Israeli towns). And Curran also cites moral giants like China, Russia and, hilariously, Egypt, as proof of Israel's moral flaws. Perhaps Curran would like Israel to take those country's approaches when dealing with Islamist terrorists -- kill them all, and kill whatever civilians are in the way, too.
So Curran has a weak sense of right and wrong -- he thinks it's a matter of a vote at the UN. He has a weak grasp of how other countries deal with terrorism. Fine. But look at what Curran says when a commenter points out, as I did, that Karel Schwartzenberg, the Czech foreign minister, has spoken up for Israel. Curran writes, in his own comments section (at 4:22 p.m.):
Of course you already know by now that Prince Schwarzenberg's great grandfather was Jewish. No need for me to tell you that I'm sure.
and then, just to be crystal clear, he adds (at 4:44 p.m):
My point is that Prince Schwarzenberg's comments were based on his own bias and were not that of his country.
Right. I get it. Schwarzenberg wasn't speaking as a Czech. He was speaking as a Jew. You can't be both, you see. He has dual loyalties -- he must be dismissed as disloyal to the Czech Republic, and speaking only in the interests of his faith.
(His faith, of course, is Christianity. Even if Curran's allegation about Schwarzenberg's great-grandfather is accurate, Judaism is matrilineal; Schwarzenberg's family was never Jewish, under Jewish law. And even under the Nazi law of "mischlings", even if Curran's allegation were true, Schwarzenberg would have too little Jewish blood in him to count as a Jew. Who knew that Curran was stricter about weeding out the Jews than Hitler himself! I'd like to see Curran's source for his Jew-hunting claim. I've looked at three biographies of the man, and see no reference to it. Was Curran consulting an anti-Semitic website like Stormfront? Seriously, where did he get the idea for his slur from?)
By citing Schwarzenberg's imaginary Judaism as "proof" of the man's "bias", Curran moves from being merely uninformed and foolish, to being an anti-Semitic bigot. He probably doesn't think he is. He's just parroting the fashionable leftist line that Israel is demonic and the Palestinians -- no matter what terrorism they conduct -- are angelic. Look at Curran's comments page -- they're not exactly brimming over with dissent. That's today's Left for you.
It's too bad. The Left used to be the champion of Israel and the Jews. But that was only when the Jews were perpetual victims -- when they were rootless and persecuted, and especially after they were decimated in the Holocaust. But after the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel showed it was no longer the underdog, the Left chose a new victim to champion -- the Palestinians. Well, actually not the Palestinians. The corrupt, violent Palestinian leadership, a mix of tyranny, Jew-hatred and kleptocracy.
Curran will surely say he has no time for Hamas. But then he hasn't thought through the logic of his own bigotry: if he thinks that Israel is morally wrong to respond to violent attacks on its own civilians, then he is de facto supporting Hamas terrorism, whether he is too dainty to admit it.
I have my disagreements with Jason Cherniak, the founder of Liblogs, but to the man's credit, in his own small way (see his comment on Curran's blog) he's trying to save the Liberal Party from defining itself as the anti-Israel party. I hope he succeeds, but so far, so bad.
I'm proud that Stephen Harper and the Conservative cabinet are pro-Israel -- and as that party ratchets up government spending, foreign policy is probably my favourite thing about them. But I do not want the Conservatives to have a monopoly on pro-Israel sentiments. I think every Canadian party ought to be pro-Israel, because Israel mirrors our own democratic, liberal values in a very undemocratic, illiberal part of the world. Their fight against Islamic terrorism predates ours; they're merely the front line. We could be in the same violent mess as them in 20 years -- and Europe could be in 10 years.
the 2008, Liberal weakness on Israel, combined with Conservative
strength, helped tip the balance in a number of ridings, especially in
Thornhill. But I really wish Israel weren't an election issue in Canada
-- I wish that the overt anti-Israel views, and the subtle
anti-Semitism, of bloggers like James Curran is not indicative of where the Liberal party is headed under Michael Ignatieff.
UPDATE: I see that Curran has replied... by avoiding the matter altogether. Just to be clear: I think it's fair ball to oppose Israeli policy, just as it is fair to oppose Italian policy or Canadian policy. In a war between Israel and a terrorist group, opposing Israeli policy shows a weak commitment to principles like democracy, freedom, the rule of law, the right of nations to self-defence, etc., but it's fair. What moves from mere bad judgment to anti-Semitism is Curran's attack on the foreign minister of the Czech Republic because his great-grandfather was allegedly Jewish -- and thus, according to Curran, he's "biased", and doesn't truly represent Czechs. That's not fair comment; that's not a political opinion. That's anti-Jewish bigotry.
In the Israel-Hamas war, Israel has ramped up its own public relations efforts. They still don't match those of the terrorist-media symbiosis. But the Israeli Defence Force's new YouTube page, which you can see here, was the most-subscribed YouTube page on the whole Internet last week. And they've got an official blog, which you can see here.
Here's the page of all 28 videos release so far. To me, the most compelling were this shot of Hamas terrorists loading rockets on the back of trucks:
this mosque, which was being used as a weapons storage facility:
this United Nations school being used as a Hamas mortar attack site:
and this attack on a Hamas missile launch pad -- which looks like it was a few seconds late to stop the first missile from being launched:
There's another interesting tidbit in the story from Germany: that anti-Israel protesters chanted "Jews out" and "gas the Jews" -- slogans that haven't been heard in Germany since the 1940s. Same in Holland.
Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran's Ahmadinejad and their ilk are truly the new Nazis.
Here's their top 25; and here's their explanation for me as their pick.
Former Western Standard publisher, Ezra Levant took the #1 spot for his ongoing battle against Canada’s human rights commissions, which culminated in 2008 with his book "Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights."
While the Top 10 list is diverse, a theme does emerge: civil disobedience...
Levant did not make a case for his innocence during his human rights tribunal hearing; he made a case for his guilt. When asked by the tribunal investigator “What was your intent?" in publishing a selection of Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohamed in the Western Standard, Levant answered:
"We published those cartoons for the intention and purpose of exercising our inalienable rights as free-born Albertans to publish whatever the hell we want, no matter what the hell you think."
More importantly, though, Levant refused to “plea bargain” and insisted the record show that he published the cartoons in an “unreasonable” manner with the intent to offend. Why did Levant do this? Because he wanted to meet the standard of guilt set by Alberta’s human rights law in order to challenge the law itself:
“I reserve the right to publish [the cartoons] for whatever offensive reason I want....I reserve for the right to publish the cartoons for every offensive thing [the complainants] claim is in my heart.”
Watch Levant's testimony before the tribunal here.
Their article makes mention of my upcoming book about human rights commissions, called "Shakedown". I'll have more news about that book shortly -- I'm pretty excited about it.
The number 1 ranked blog, Kate's Small Dead Animals, is so far ahead in terms of traffic (her Alexa ranking), it's not even a contest for first place.
So we’re in for another Great Depression, are we? Don’t believe it.
Now that the epic U.S. presidential race is over, a caffeinated press corps is in withdrawal, so hyperventilating about a new Depression is their new fix. Just to pick one newspaper at random, Toronto’s Globe and Mail used the phrase “Great Depression” over 300 times in December alone — or about a dozen times each edition. And that’s restrained compared to U.S. cable news shows.
It’s not just bored reporters exhibiting their twin traits of hyperbole and economic illiteracy. There’s a dose of wishful thinking at work, too. When the U.S. stock market started to tumble last fall, European commentators — who had yet to have their own stock markets pulled into the undertow — cackled with glee that it marked the end of U.S. economic supremacy. Igor Panarin, the dean of Russia’s academy for diplomats, even opined that America would disintegrate into six different countries, with the mid-West falling under Canadian “influence.”
Even to U.S. pundits, a failing economy is a useful story — it’s the mainstream media’s preferred choice for George W. Bush’s presidential legacy, as opposed to liberating and pacifying Iraq. And for Barack Obama, who once gave a speech suggesting his presidency would mark the “moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” lowering messianic expectations of him, by exaggerating the economic troubles he’s inheriting, is a political priority.
Of course, there are real problems in the U.S. economy, the most significant of which is the subprime mortgage fiasco. Hundreds of billions of dollars of “ninja” mortgages have been issued — “no income, no job, no assets,” with no down payment. That worked well enough when real estate prices kept going up — which also allowed the ninjas to keep refinancing their homes at higher values. When the bubble finally burst, U.S. banks were left holding overpriced homes.
That’s a real problem for the financial industry, which has since had its worthless assets backstopped by taxpayers. And the U.S. real estate bubble, while small compared to that in Europe, has been popped. But a Great Depression?
True, unemployment in the United States is ticking up, approaching 7%, and some economists think the figure might crest at 8%. For the millions of people this affects, that’s bad news — but it’s hardly comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s, when more than 25% were unemployed, over 50% in some regions. If 8% unemployment is considered a Great Depression, then Canada has been in a Great Depression for most of the last 30 years.
The IMF predicts that U.S. GDP will dip by 0.7% in 2009. Again, not good news. But a Great Depression? The U.S. economy shrank 12% in 1930, another 16% in 1931, a whopping 23% in 1932 and another 4% in 1933. That’s a Great Depression. A 0.7% dip is America taking its foot off the gas for a moment.
Speaking of cars, the apocalyptic cries of the auto industry represent an opportunistic piling on. The decline of North American auto makers isn’t a sudden crisis. It’s the free market doing what it should: penalizing companies that pay domestic auto-workers six-figure incomes to do what Japanese automakers do for five figures. Canada’s Big Three have 27,000 unionized autoworkers building cars — and 40,000 more retirees collecting pensions. That’s why they’re in trouble.
The Great Depression just isn’t here. In fact, the recession we do have is already remedying itself. The decline in the cost of oil, from a high of US$147 a barrel to US$40, represents a massive stimulus to oil-consuming countries such as the United States; and though it takes the sparkle off Canada’s oil patch, that sector was doing just fine with oil in the US$30s, where it was until 2004. (On the other hand, countries such as Russia and Venezuela, where oil exports account for 50% of the government’s revenues, and Iran, where they make up 80%, are in for big recessions. That’s actually good news — it’ll be tougher for them to finance their rogue foreign-policy schemes.)
Canada will do just fine. We’re entering 2009 with nearly the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years, with lower debt, no structural deficit and an enormous stimulus in the form of tax cuts already working through the economy. The real threat is fear-mongering politicians looking to grow government, and opportunistic businesses happy for a new excuse to ask for handouts.
First it was their president, Vaclav Klaus, laughing at global warming fanatics, those proposing mega-bailouts in the recession, and disparaging the European Union itself -- as he takes over the EU's presidency.
My favourite excerpt from that story is how Klaus refuses to fly the European flag over his castle -- and how he cut down a snooty French Eurofanatic who demanded that he did:
"No one has ever spoken to me here in this tone. You aren't on the barricades of Paris. I have never heard anything so insolent in this hall," Klaus spluttered. "The way Cohn-Bendit speaks to me is exactly the way the Soviets used to speak."The Eurolovers at the Guardian didn't like that -- they jabbed at him by saying he "spluttered" those words. But I bet Czechs loved it, as did Euroskeptics throughout the continent.
Then the magnificently named Karl Johannes Nepomuk Josef Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Mena von Schwarzenberg (his friends just call him Karel), Klaus's foreign minister, said what any foreign minister in a former Soviet colony would say:
Let us realize one thing: Hamas steeply increased the number of rockets fired at Israel since the cease-fire ended on December 19. This is no longer acceptable.
Now Klaus is sending Schwarzenberg as the EU's official mediator in the Israel-Hamas conflict. That surely must be the first time in a generation that someone sympathetic to Israel's right to national self defence has been dispatched from a busy-body international organization to "mediate".
The Czech Republic sounds like a pretty good place -- and Prague can now count amongst its residents John O'Sullivan, the former editorial pages boss of the National Post (and advisor to Margaret Thatcher), too! No wonder he loves it there.
By the way, Canada's official statement on the matter was pretty good, too. Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a statement saying:
Israel has a clear right to defend itself against the continued rocket attacks by Palestinian militant groups which have deliberately targeted civilians. First and foremost, those rocket attacks must stop.
That's pretty good stuff. In a subsequent statement reported by the press (I can't find it on the DFAIT website), Cannon said:
the deliberate and constant targeting of civilians by Hamas was the main reason for these unfortunate events.And this:
Minister Cannon repeated Canada's call to all parties to reach a sustainable and durable ceasefire
which has a pretty clear subtext: a short-term hudna -- where Hamas can regroup and rebuild before attacking again -- is not a desireable outcome.