Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bizarro Performatism

UPDATE: for more reporting on this story, see a dime a dozen; and Downtown Eastside Enquirer

I've just come home from the Greg Felton lecture (see also) at the Vancouver Public Library, and even after a few post-mortem discussions with friends, my head is still spinning from what we saw. The conspiracy theory that Felton spun was outrageous, but so outrageous as to move beyond outrageous and into some bizarre but unconsciously brilliant revelation of the bankruptcy of postmodern victimary culture. The audience, variously mad, offended, and true to truth, was often superb in playing, in a simultaneous mix of Canadian politeness and proper outrage, a variety of public ritual roles, exemplifying various solitudes of the Canadian mosaic (not the official mosaic of the "multicultural" state, but the real one of somewhat eccentric individuals), solitudes that showed their potential to create some greater esthetic whole when together in passionate dispute. For, notwithstanding the intellectual bankruptcy of the event, what we saw was a grand performance, from largely marginal or ordinary people, a performance that could not have been scripted or even imagined in advance.

It was unpredictable, perhaps thanks in good part to our friend, David, whose unbridled spontaneity quickly ruined any pretense that this was an evening that would follow any standard rules of public decorum. And this, as perhaps one can only see in retrospect, was as it was meant to be. As soon as Felton, in his preliminary remarks, mentioned that he would be selling or signing books at the end of the lecture, David, who in his various pre-lecture conversations/demonstrations with the city librarians thought he had heard one of the librarians give an undertaking that Felton would not be allowed to commercialize the evening, started shouting loudly and repeatedly and outrageously "no books (allowed) for sale" and other words to that effect, eventually running around the room to the librarian to complain, which immediately set the tone for the play within the play as David offered more objections throughout the evening and parried angry attacks from Felton supporters around him, all this taking place in the front and centre seats.

Various security personnel looked on, but no one seriously intervened in this event held in the name of freedom of speech.

By the way, unauthorized cameras were banned from the event, so we have no photos for you, though there were about four authorized video recordings of the event, about one camera for every twenty-odd people in the more than half-empty room. Anyone who has access to those videos has a potential gold mine performance, a style of theatre yet without a name. Apparently these videos were taken by groups wishing to make a historical record, or to monitor the event for any hate crimes. Of the various people who will probably stick in my memory, the police officer (I believe) from the hate crimes unit, leaving the event at the end of the night, with a look of great bafflement, exhaling heavily, and looking like he didn't have a clue what to put in his report, beautifully figured the absurdity of the event, an event the library had defended as appropriate for "freedom to read week" in part because there was no criminal action proposed against Felton's book and hence he had not crossed some line. And yet the only thing that could really have justified this event in the name of freedom to read would be if Felton had been under criminal prosecution by Canada's dubious hate speech law.

Apparently the evening was supposed to have begun with some speech by some official from some library association for intellectual freedom. This person wisely phoned in sick, or so I was told. It was left to the City Librarian, Paul Whitney (who would become the target of many angry audience members) to introduce Felton. Whitney took some responsibility on his shoulders, but he really wasn't able to provide a convincing rationale for the choice of speaker. He invoked Freedom to Read week as a time for difficult and complicated subjects; he noted that since Terry Glavin's article in the Vancouver Sun of February 12, exposing the library's choice of speaker, things had been very difficult for the library. Many angry, hurt and offended (Jewish) people had been heard from, something he regretted. (He was later challenged on how he knew they were Jewish; he said many self-identified; he was then challenged if he had kept a count of Jews, non-Jews, and Zionists...) But he felt the library had to stand by its decision to provide a venue to this controversial speaker. Just why this controversial speaker, and not another, was not explained. But what became clear is that Whitney does not believe in admitting to having any kind of hierarchy of standards by which one might make choices about whom to invite to represent Freedom to Read week.

Whitney claimed that in the ethics of today's public librarians, every person has a right of access to the system, within the limits of the law; librarians must make available a wide range of materials including books people might be uncomfortable with. The effects of this "anything goes" attitude applied to public lectures would soon become apparent in the post-intellectual theatre that followed... And then, noting that Felton would have a mere thirty minutes to speak, before answering questions/audience statements, Whitney ushered in Felton who emerged from behind a closed door at the side of the room.

In what follows I cannot recount every twist of Felton's argument, as my speed of note-taking does not allow. But here is the gist, as I have it, paraphrasing Felton, except where quotation marks are used:

Felton, dressed fairly casually, began by expressing how he can only look on the United States today, in comparison with his fond youthful memories of a great Republican country, with despair.

Torture is now official policy in the fallen USA; it is a country at war with its own citizens; it is nine trillion dollars in debt; we are supposed to think of the U.S. as a republic, though it no longer is. We might think the downward spiral began after 9/11, but in fact the story begins considerably earlier than that.

After 9/11 the USA Patriot Act was presented to Congress by the Dept. of Justice, on October 3, 2001 [I wouldn't trust Felton's facts but I'm not going to look them up; readers can do this if they wish], a piece of legislation whose scope and scale defies explanation if we are to believe it was simply a response to an event that occurred only a few weeks earlier. The Patriot Act passed Congress with absurd rapidity and turned America into a proto-fascist empire.

Why would Congress commit suicide, giving the knife to the once proud and free Republic? Why was it incapable of defending the Constitution?

Well, the USA went downhill beginning, at least, with Ronald Reagan. It started mutating towards a police state in the wake of Vietnam which demoralized the nation and delegitimized the established political culture, including both of the leading parties.

Felton then explained how an evil troika of three post-Constitutional ruling camps emerged in the sixties and seventies and eighties: 1) Evangelicals who took offense to Lyndon B Johnson's Great Society programs, to the Supreme Court's decision on abortion, etc., and started to organize politically; 2) Neocons organizing around the Heritage Foundation and taking Reagan as a front man for an evil Straussian philosophy; Leo Strauss believed in the right of government to lie to the people; 3) Jewish Zionists - Podhoretz, Kristol, Krauthammer, etc. - emerged on behalf of Israel to complete the fascist troika. [By the way, i'm not sure the point of distinguishing neocons and Jewish Zionists like the neocon Podhoretz - perhaps to avoid the accusation that "neocon" is a code word for "jew"; in any case, trinities are appealing to the imagination.]

Until 1967, American Jews had been worried about accusations of holding "dual allegiances" and so Zionism and the Holocaust had been downplayed in public. But with the Israeli-Arab war of 1967, Israel somehow [there are "logical" details to Felton's argument that went over my head] gained leverage over the Americans who were traditionally only interested in oil when it came to the Middle East; and powerful Jews in Washington now looked at Israel with pride and discovered that they could now love both their countries openly.

By 1976, American wanted a new start with Carter, an evangelical Christian who allowed evangelicals a new political centrality. While Carter initially spoke in favour of a Palestinian homeland, he was quickly attacked by the Israel Lobby and did an about face. Carter did not end up representing the USA, but rather Israel [while Felton did not say this, perhaps this was a subtle way of explaining the resentment Carter now holds towards Israel...?]

The Israel Lobby began in 1948 when Truman was pressured to recognize the new state of Israel. And the Lobby remained part of the Democratic party, until it went Republican with the coming to power of Ronald Reagan in 1980 who was a rather mindless front man for the neocons and Zionists.

Israel bombed the Osirik nuclear reactor in Iraq, using American weapons, contrary to U.S. law, but the US did nothing about it.

Reagan spoke of Palestinian peace in 1982 but was shocked in his nice-guy naivete by what happened with the bloody 1982 invasion of Lebanon by Israel, something Felton, in his manner, full of innuendo, did not seriously try to explain, Israeli barbarism or venality being apparently self-explanatory. When Reagan complained of the brutality, Israeli Prime Mister Begin just threw the Holocaust in his face. Israel now had carte blanche.

Throughout the 1980s there was a diminution in the importance of oil in US policies. This had something to do with a decline of self-interest and a growing obeisance to Israeli interests.

At this point in the talk, about twenty minutes in, Felton's voice began to crack. The strain of speaking to what was in large part a hostile audience, making various interjections and disruptions, was now apparent.

Felton soldiered on, recounting how George Bush fabricated a case against Saddam Hussein, as the entire US government flip-flopped on the question of whether Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. Apparently there had been a time, pre-9/11 when everyone was sure they did not.

Iraq is rich in oil and water and it is land within the "maximal Zionist claim". No one in America will stand up to the "sadism" of the Israeli state. Israel wants complete military superiority, a desire which was the provocation for bombing Iraq which never posed a serious threat to anyone militarily [laughter in the audience grew yet further]. There was no justification for the war, Hussein had been an American ally.

The US government, especially since Clinton, was populated by people who had a primary allegiance to Israel. They were dual citizens, raising questions of their complicity with Israel. But that didn't matter now because Congress was no longer in control. The U.S. now serves Israel.

What happened on Sept. 11? Felton responded to his question with another: Who benefited from the fascist coup d'etat of 1980 which culminated with the Patriot Act?

Serious intellectual inquiry had been destroyed in America by the 1980s, a country that now put its faith in Reaganesque religion and jingoism. Reagan spoke to a feel good agenda after US credibility had been destroyed by Vietnam; this consigned the country to those people with anti-American objectives; it's impossible to think this is being done willingly. The US has been under Israeli occupation since 1980; occupied and humiliated by a lobby; there is an interplay between the military-industrial complex and the Israel lobby. Bush stole the last two elections; gansterism is now the ruling form of American politics. What has happened in America cannot be otherwise explained rationally, declared Felton in his conclusion.

At this point, audience members around me were suggesting Felton might be nuts but they were having little arguments over whether he was dangerous. It's hard to know; it's hard to know what was going on in his mind, but my guess is that Felton genuinely sees himself as a champion of Palestinian victims of the Israeli state, and was not deeply aware of what he was saying or doing to justify his role as champion. Despite the nauseating quality of the conspiracy theory being propounded in our public library, at public expense, I could not look at Felton with simple anger, feeling there was some kind of human tragedy here. Yes, this could all be dangerous talk for Jews; yet it was like a parody of a classic libel of the "enemy within", which Felton now dressed up, most carefully, as "anti-Zionism": here is a man who obviously knows from experience that he must distinguish "Zionists" from "Jews" and profess sympathy for ordinary Jews in order to appear "respectable". I felt this name blame game was somehow too bizarre for any but the most naive to get trapped in; and I felt it might be illuminating for some young people to see where a certain conspiratorial thinking - of which there are many more sophisticated variants - can take a man. But what do I know about how others' minds are affected by this kind of talk?

The question period saw a number of people attack City Librarian Whitney, as well as Felton, in very blunt terms. There were also Felton supporters thanking him and also thanking Whitney for his courage in going forth with the event. And then there were various people who thought this was an occasion to profess their respect for neither or both sides in the debate, who stood to defend free speech to the death, or something like that. There were 9/11 was an inside job types, and someone who seemed to be a plant with a question on the USS Liberty, which was, says Felton, a "war crime" and cover-up of Israeli "mass murder", but also an alleged event which we can actually not have an honest debate about until Zionist money and media coercion is circumvented and new arenas for discussion established.

There was one apparently Muslim man who became very angry with those antagonistic to Felton. He loudly proclaimed, when some in the audience shouted "never again" that no one has the copyright on "never again"; later when Whitney was challenged on what kind of critics of Islam the library would allow, this man declared that we could have our Irshad Manji, she is no longer "our [Muslims'] daughter" but yours. Irshad, it seems, has taken the Zionist salary, a point on which Felton concurred.

The most memorable questioner was a man who said he was a history professor for thirty years. He was less interested in talking history with Felton as asking Whitney why the library had a history of inviting Israel bashers and demanding to know how Whitney personally felt about Jews. Whitney would not give a direct answer, merely saying that he did not believe there was any bias among the library staff (a belief in a myth of neutrality which should be shocking in itself, for it is just this myth that allows responsible persons to avoid responsibility, standards, and accountability for their inevitable political choices, and that gives rise to the kind of postmodern victimary free-for-all we witnessed, and an openness to anything legal, an openness that has little to do with advancing the cause of intellectual freedom, for such a cause requires intelligent discrimination). But Whitney also displayed an ignorance of previous events held at the library. He is either new on the job or not usually concerned with such program details. In the heat of the audience attacks on Whitney, a diminutive and hippyesque woman in yellow neon tights jumped up to stand by Whitney in his defense of free speech at the front of the room. Felton also felt some desire to defend against attacks on Whitney. The whole chaotic scene was in some ways beyond my skills of language. You had to be there.

In the question period, Felton also had a chance to mention how the Canadian government under Paul Martin met with and subjected itself to the Israel lobby, thanks to the work of the Jewish Justice Minister, Irwin Cotler. Again it was all innuendo, without much detail or logic to make the conspiracy compelling. But the real villain on the Canadian scene is the present Prime Minister Stephen Harper whom Felton called a "venal traitor" who won't do anything about the Canadian peacekeeper in Lebanon whom Felton alleges was "murdered" by the Israelis.

Felton also retailed a bizarre conspiracy theory regarding the Holocaust, explaining how Zionist Jews were complicit with the Nazis in the murder of other Jews. My head was spinning too much at this point to follow the nasty "logic" closely. Apparently he gets this stuff from a book by one Edwin Black.

As I say, one thing that became clear to me by the end of the evening was that if one is to uphold the cause of "Freedom to Read" one must have some sense of standards. If the librarians take an "anything goes" attitude in a postmodern fear of making judgments, or defending hierarchies of value, the only thing that will ensue is a collapse of any serious thinking and consequently a lack of any intellectual freedom.

And yet, though it is too soon for clarity, I found the evening, in its absurdity, potentially revealing. It showed the failure of the postmodern scene to renew itself by developing new insights into the human. It also showed how an audience that was at most a third Felton supporters could attack the evident absurdities of the event and/or defend free speech in various theatrical performances that point the way to a future in which ordinary Canadians will increasingly grasp the importance of their own personal centrality in representing the covenant we must all share if we are to guarantee each other's freedom and security. This need for the personal performance and responsibility only grows at a time when our erstwhile civic, professional, and academic leaders are no longer able to maintain the integrity of the culture and its former (elite) centres of attention, having given up authority and responsibility to various claims of alleged victims of each and every centre of institutional authority and power in Western countries.

16 comments:

Blazing Cat Fur said...

And no Human Rights Commissions were imjured during the making of this event;)

truepeers said...

I hope you're right about the HRCs but it was quite a sight to see the four or so tripods and cameras at the back of the room, so much organized attention, including obvious observers and security from the Jewish community, and all for such a tired old, though now greatly revived, ritual of conspiracy mongering.

Well, Felton was told in no uncertain terms by several audience members that he was a liar, offensive, crazy, etc. and so one viewing these videos would be hard pressed, I think, to take an overall impression that evil lies dominated the evening, even as some happily left the night with Felton books.

Dag said...

A night to remember! The fashion statements weren't limited to the moral posing in Left drag as usual in this field but this time had full-blown costumed characters to make it all vivid and ... uh, weird. I did like the statement in fabric, the fabrications of looniness, from the gal in the two-tone neon yellow; the floor-length dress on the bank-eyed girl allegedly clutching a copy of Mein Kamph (out of my sight,) but most of all, I loved the near-hysterical Muslim with the black, bushy beard in the green leotards. Next time I'll probably not bother dressing to kill as I did for this occasion, putting on my nicest cowboy boots and my two pound brass belt buckle to show off my fineness. It had to be the latter that possessed the dhimmi girl to chase me around the room telling me about the symptoms of her mental illness.

Next time I do hope the librarians will provide coffee or magazines for those of us who have to suffer through this kind of thing only for the sake of standing as visible reminders to the public at large that Left dhimmi fascism does have its opposition, growing daily.

Green leotards on a short, fat, bearded guy! Well, that's a memory I really wish I didn't have. But life is tough, and so am I.


Brrrrr.

Charles Henry said...

Thanks for the thorough write-up, 'Peers. You didn’t miss much.

I'd like to add a few personal observations about the event...

From the vantage point I had to watch those who applauded felton throughout the evening, it appeared to me that his supporters were mostly sitting alone, whereas those there in opposition to his speech seemed to be there in groups, usually pairs. (one notable exception was the group of university students (?) sitting directly in front of the podium in the front row) (I’m guessing university students because of how tenaciously one of them, mr. “you don’t have a copyright on ‘Never Again’”, claimed that one million Iraqis had been killed by so far by the US… who else could believe such a thing?)

I was surprised there were so few supporters of his present at the event. I will take that as a positive sign. I was one of the last ones in, and I was given ticket #61. So not a lot of people in attendance in general.

On felton's speaking style: he appeared nervous during his delivered speech, mispronouncing the odd name or location, but seemed to become notably much more self-assured during the question and answer session at the end. He definitely saved most of his venom for this last chapter, it sounded to me that he had a few prepared "zingers" calculated to raise the tempers of his audience, maybe to throw the questioners off-balance from anger. He had a positively melodramatic, theatrical, delivery of his most venomous replies, sounding to me like he must practice this kind of thing on a regular basis, maybe in the bathroom mirror as he shaves every morning.

Adding some details to your account..:
The woman who sprang out of the audience to stand beside librarian whitney as a human shield to the later sharp questions from the audience, specifically said "Will you stop beating up the librarian!", which had to be the most surreal incident of the whole surreal event. That brought some needed comic relief to the somber affair.

In reply to an audience member’s statement about automobile licence plates in Israel being issued in different colors for jews and arabs, felton said it was appalling that "palestinians were treated like untermenschen", a small drop in the tidal wave of sickening statements on parade that night, but the one that succeeded in most sickening me. What gall.

Vancouver visitor said...

Phew! So many subplots to this story. I wonder what Irshad Manji is doing there. I would have approached her and asked her point blank why she doesn't just quit Islam instead of continuing with her exercise in futility of "reforming" Islam. The Islam now is the reformed Islam and it does not tolerate a lesbian like her.

covenant said...

VV,

Just to clarify, Manji was not at the event, but her name was brought up, only to enrage a man who was, perhaps one should say, rather effeminate in appearance, who shouted she is not our daughter, we don't want her, she is yours..."

Charles,

Just to clarify for those who weren't there. One of Felton's supporters? got all sentimental and asked how the Jews, victims of the Holocaust, could do such a thing as have differenet colours of license plates in Israel for Jews and Muslims, or Arabs. Felton agreed with her. Then a man got up and pointed out that all Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Israel have the same license plates; it is only those who lived in the Occupied Territories who have a different colour. He pointed out that this was just one of many lies and innuendos he had heard from Felton during the evening.

truepeers

Dag said...

The license-plate piece of absurdity had me snickering: Think of all the folks from New Jersey who are taunted simply because of their plates when they drive the wrong way down one-way streets in Manhattan. Why can't we all have the same kind of plate? Aren't we all American? Why discriminate? It don't make sense? 'What? are you from New Jersey?'

And Irshad Manji. She was at VPL, same room, same podium, and had the place filled and then overflowed, stacks of books piled high on three folding chairs along the side wall, right up the place the 9/11 dvd loony was flogging his rubbish. But Manji got away with selling books because there was a CBC documentary team filming her, not a police hate-crimes unit. It's not a matter of controversy that worked against Felton, it's a matter of market. If he'd been likable he might well have gotten away with murder, so to speak. Personally, I want to corner Manji for a few hours to get tips on how to charm the socks off middle-age ladies. She did it for a few hours and impressed me too. Felton didn't do any such thing. He alienated most of his audience from the start and did so further by talking. I don't take it personally, but I do grasp the importance of presentation, part of which is charm, part of which is not insulting ones audience with outrageous crap.

Not all speakers should be expected to be charming, witty, and facile like Manji is; and it might not be a good thing for many to be like her lest messages degenerate into showmanship and spin. But the underlying message is entertaining only if it's honest in some deep way, which Felton was definitely not, and which Manji is only to the slightest extent. In all these cases we get cheated by the lack of depth of our city librarians who can't grasp the fact that there are indeed intelligent thinks outside the realms of Leftard group-think. Until they get that part, we'll suffer the same rehash of Left stupidity from the least idiotic to the most. But so what? Let's have some real thinkers for a revolutionary change.

Yeah, as if.

Jonathon Narvey said...

Excellent writeup. I really wish I could have been there, but it just wasn't possible. I'll be posting a link to this from my own site. Cheers!

Transmontanus said...

A fine report, Truepeers and all.

One small point.

The trends in postmodernism you refer to fall within a broader category of thinking, if I'm not mistaken, known as epistemic relativism. A small point, but I think it's important, because it takes in the entire "anything goes" idiocy you target.

It is a far greater threat to free speech and intellectual freedom than Felton's delusions, because it is the very thing that admits and invites Felton's conspiracy theories into the "marketplace of ideas," and grants him full and permanent privileges, and in this case, even a prestigious podium within the "public exchange of contradictory views," as Mr. Whitney himself has put it.

The whole point of a free market in ideas, and the whole purpose of free speech in a free society, is to sort the wheat from the chaff, to subject everyone's "ideas" to the rigour of rational analysis and dispute and argument, so the dialectic can move forward, and we will make our way ever closer to a full understanding of the "truth."

Relativism of this kind denies the distinction between wheat and chaff, and denies the very possibility of historical truth. You cannot debate with it rationally, because it refuses to accept any resort to objective fact as a basis of critique and judgment.

And when that sort of thing obtains, the only ideas that will prevail are the ones you have to accept because they are being asserted by men in uniform, and the only speech allowed will be the speech permitted by men in shiny boots.

truepeers said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Terry. As for epistemological relativism, yes, but that's part of something broader yet, I think: a fear of doing serious ontology, or anthropology, of rigorously thinking, naming, and seeing our shared human reality as different from certain fantasies we like to hold. It's so easy to say one view needs as much pro-active "defense" as another; it makes your intellectual refusal to seriously engage in the reality of the human condition, and all of your own existential fears and uncertainties about human conflict and mortality, sound heroic. It's kind of Utopian in a time when the larger Utopian projects have been debunked as deadly.

I don't know if it's fair to say all of that about this librarian. But let's look, for example, at her defense of her library hosting Felton:

"This evening, I went down to the Vancouver Public Library’s main branch to hear Greg Felton talk. Now, I have to admit that even writing that sentence makes me feel slightly queasy. But this post isn’t going to be a dissection of Felton’s views. You can Google his name & find those out easily enough.

In my mind, there is no question that the library should have gone ahead with this event, despite the high profile opposition to it (see Terry Glavin’s article in the Vancouver Sun (http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=8f4a3c29-1ad4-43fc-bb49-b627feac1810) and City Librarian Paul Whitney’s response to it (http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/letters/story.html?id=ac7a78ce-2298-40d7-9bea-647e8c66014a)). Freedom of expression means standing up for everyone’s right to free speech, whether it’s something that’s easy to defend personally, or views that I consider puerile or repugnant. Sure, it would be nice to be able to defend Maxine’s Tree or One Dad, Two Dads.. all the time, but that would be missing the point, right?

There was a depressing predictability about Felton’s presentation, and most of the audience had heard it before: either because they support his position or oppose it. At one point, I counted 3 sleepers in an audience of 80-odd. The debate section was livelier, but most of the back-and-forth had a rehearsed air. No one seemed to be going to this event with an open mind, most people weren’t asking questions, and even when someone did, Felton frequently rambled off on another anti-Zionist conspiracy theory."


-Sure, "anti-Zionist", that's what it was!

Anyway, first she says there's no doubt the library should host views that she might consider puerile or repugnant.

But why, because these views are somewhere being silenced? Because all other views are satisfactorily represented already?

No, such questions don't seem to come into it; she apparently wants to appear as someone who will defend anyone's right to say anything. And giving primacy to her apparent desire to strike a pose as freedom fighter means that she will allow the library to spend its time and money on the puerile. Sounds rather childish to me...

She admits that Felton was depressingly predictable and no one learned anything.

So how did this evening serve in any way the cause of intellectual freedom? Does she have any idea of whom a truly controversial speaker would be? Someone who would really champion the ruling ideology of our times? Let's say, for example, a critic of the new curriculum in our public schools for teaching the normalcy and even goodness of homosexuality. Would she feel more than slightly queasy if the library had invited such a speaker? I mean what is it, exactly, that makes her existential angst get really going?

I suspect defending "free speech" in this way has become something of a comfortable ritual for some. The fact that she needs an admittedly predictable Felton for her to appear as a defender of the marginal voice just suggests that she is struck in a ritualistic game, not a real contest of free thinking.

Her presumption that while it was predictably a mindless evening, that nonetheless people might in some ideal world go to a "Felton" lecture with open minds and engage in real debate just suggests that it may be a desire to escape from reality that motivates this defense of "free speech". Again, it all seems like a comforting ritual to me... We get to show our superiority by acting "queasy" about a man some call a "hate monger", and at the same time feel good about tolerating him and providing a significant piece of taxpayer money to make sure he has a place to speak.

Uggghhh! It seems to me that some people need "anti-Zionists" to appear on a higher moral plane than those who contest that "anti-Zionists" have a right to free library rooms and publicity.

truepeers said...

that should read: It seems to me that some people need "anti-Zionists", in order (for some people) to appear on a higher moral plane than those who contest that "anti-Zionists" have a right to free library rooms and publicity.

truepeers said...

To sum up Transmontanus (Terry): what is free speech if you don't use it to contest someone's right to free public attention? It's not real free speech unless you contest what others would put forward as a compelling centre of public attention. I don't contest Felton's right to make a centre of his life, using his own private resources; it's just that I can't have the same right unless it can involve me contesting the use of public space.

For someone to pretend to be open to all things and all people is to admit that we should have no real debate; because debate can't be real unless there is something, in the way of public status, to win and something to lose.

A defense of "free speech" that won't argue about who should and should not appear on the public dime is like playing poker without real money and real risk. Bluffing loses all meaning in such a game.

Dag said...

I come from a very small town in the mountains, in an area some wit referred to as "The South of the North." It was poor and isolated and insular. School was much the same as town. One early year in school we had occasion to swap Vanentine cards. I gave one to each of my classmates, and they the same. The girl next to me gave m a card, which I looked at and was suddenly devastated. I asked her, "Why are you giving back my card? Don't you like it?" She said she had my card and that her card to me was the same. In fact, all of our mothers had gone to the one store in town that sold Valentine cards, and we all gave each other the same. There was no other game in town. So, no matter how avant guard and how daring I was in giving out my cards, everyone else was exactly the same. So, I was not at all surprised to find that the Head Librarian was surprised to find that though this year's "Freedom to Read Week" celeb. was an "anti-Zionist" he didn't know that last year's daring Freedom to Read week speaker was an anti-Semite too. Ya huh, 'cause they all shop at the same store of ideas in a very small and isolated area in a poverty stricken place of the mind.

vancouverite said...

Hey Dag,

Vancouverite here, from the Eastside blog. I checked out this Blog thanks to your advice over there. Good stuff posted on this issue. I'll be interested to read up on other stuff on this site when I have some time.

Shame on VPL. They are so dumb for booking this guy.

Is anyone familiar with Walid Shoebat? He is a former Palestinian terrorist who eventually saw the light and truth re: Israel, Jews etc., gave up his terrorist associations, and now lectures about his experiences in support or Israel and the Jewish people. He was booked to speak a year or two ago in Vancouver, but had to do it via satellite. Why via satellite?

Because leftie activists lobbied the government not to allow Shoebat entry to Canada. Why not? Because of his former terrorist ties.

Hypocrites.

On the one hand the left condones the terrorism, positioning the terrorists as some form of "freedom fighters," who are left with no other option but violence. On the other hand, when a former "freedom fighter" now has something to say that opposes their left wing agenda, he is no longer a "freedom fighter" but now labeled a "terrorist" in an attempt to censor his speech. Somehow they justified having it both ways, depending what would suit them at the time.

The left is adamant about freedom of speech when they agree with the speech. However, their true colours show as hypocrite and even CENSORS when they disagree with the speech.

I hate to say it, but the Left as a movement has lost all legitimacy. An otherwise well meaning movement that was once concerned with bettering the human experience in society is now filled with so many unintelligent and uneducated people that it has little merit remaining. The activist arm of the Leftist movement takes the cake. I have asked these folks simple questions about issues they are vocal about and they have no clue as to the answers.

How can someone take to the streets and have such strong feelings about an issue, yet not even know much about that issue? Case in point: Israel. Next time you see an activist waving a sign stating "Zionism is Racism" ask him/her to explain it, and don't let them change the topic. Have them define Zionism and then define racism, and then have them establish a logical link. Or ask them simple questions about Israel's history. They wont know the answers. If one doesn't understand Israel's history, how can one have a valid opinion as to it legitimacy? They just hold the sign because they think it is a stance a bleeding heart should take. Not because they know what the hell they are talking about.

Anyway, I will sign off now before I start preaching (or am I too late? :)

But before I sign off I will recommend that you Google "Walid Shoebat," or look for clips of him on Youtube. Interesting stuff.

Dag said...

Vancoverite, I just now got in and don't have time to read up on Walid Shoebat. I think he's a friend and fellow of Ali Sina at Faith Freedom. I'll look tomorrow to be sure. I know of Walid Shoebat, he being a regular name in the business, as it were, but I haven't followed him closely to date. Regrettably, the the same is true of Ali Sina, whose book, Understanding Mohammed, I finished a few months back, and I must admit, I liked it greatly. I think as of now the book is not in print. I'll look into the bio. of Shoebat first chance. He goes to conferences with others in the business on a regular basis, and it's only a matter of time till he's within my orbit. We have some quality people on our side. I am always impressed by that, daily.

I look at your comments on the Leftists we all know and love, and I feel much the same as you. I can't think of any of my friends, outside the profession of this business, who aren't Leftists even to this bitter day. My best friend (and man whose genius makes me proud to be Human,) is-- a Leftard. He is the world's greatest Human being, bar none. So I wonder, and I even ask him, how he can be a loony.

He and my other friend, another Leftard, both are wonderful people, people I am blessed to be friends with, who's loss in my life would be a cosmic-scale loss. I can't say how deeply beautiful both are. And they are Leftards! Yikes. It's not the Leftism that makes them anything at all, nor does it diminish them. They are Leftards in the same way that Terry Glavin above seems to be. They are decent and normal and people I'm blessed to know and love. Most Lefties as such people. But the Left itself, as epistemology, and perhaps an anthropology, is an evil thing. It happens that even the evil epistemology of it can't make good people evil. They transcend it. they take the superficial aspect of Left epistemology and act on it as individuals, and that's it. Yes, I think it often does serious harm to the world, but I don't think it has much to do with my friends paying too many taxes too much to often; I don't think it harms much in that they vote for evil people who make evil exist institutionally. I think it better that my friends are Leftist idiots who do good than that they be unhappy with themselves by not doing their so-called good deeds. Their sincerity is beneficial in the long term too. When they realize the harm of the Left epistmeology, they will shed it and still be the people they are, better prepared to do more good still. It takes time, and they'll change as the Left becomes ever more obviously sick, ever more undeniably so. In short, if they didn't have their Leftard ideas they probably wouldn't have been people I would cherish so highly. This Leftism today cannot continue, though. My friends see it and they are confused because they know they are not evil people. It takes time to move away from a life-time of mental habit and social identity. They aren't Leftists like the Leftists we all hate. Most aren't. Most are like my friends. They didn't complain about me when I campaigned for Ross Perot, and I won't condemn my Leftard friends now. I wait.

REgarding the Felton Follies. I wouldn't have taken my feet out of the fire to walk ove rto see him if it hadn't been fo rthe chance to meet people who share an interest in democracy and Human rights with my firends and me, with Truepeers, with Charles, with David and Ed and Wilf and the others who showed up to be seen in public as willing to be seen in public as defenders of freedom and universal Human rights. I met and greeted a number of people I would like to befriend over the course of time here. We've had an initial meeting thanks to Felton bringing us that chance to meet. He thinks he makes good progress in getting publicity for his ideas; but we too did that and moreso.

So get to know us a bit better on the Internet and then come and join us in person at the library on Thursday next. Peers writes of this effort as creation of a Covenant. Well, what better way to start a covenant than by having coffee one evening with friends?

vancouverite said...

Hello again,

I too have many Leftist friends, and I love them like brothers and sisters. Heck, I used to be much more left leaning myself. I did the whole Liberal Arts thing in univerity. And I still stay true to many left leaning ideals. Specifically, the ideals rooted in human kindness and justice are very importqant. And a recognition that we are all connected, and our actions impact not only ourselves but also the entire global community. I think that Leftist ideology is deeply rooted in such truths, and the Right could probably benefit from learning some of the Left's sensativities.

A difference between me and the Leftards in the Leftist Movement is that I evaluate issues one at a time, and through research, discussion and, most importantly, through life lessons I formulate my own opinions. I don't simply take on a cause because I think I should if I want to identify as something or other. This is a lazy approach. This is the approach taken by the most vocal in the Leftist movement. Leftards take on Leftist causes without fully understanding them, simply because they think a "progressive thinking" Leftist should.

In sum: As individuals I find most Lefties to be wonderful people. But as a movement, the Left has little credability anymore. It is sad.

I acknowledge and even admire the Lefts nobal intentions. But what is it they say about the road to hell? That it is full of good intentions...