Tuesday, August 12, 2008

B'nai Brith: putting their "faith" in criminalization of Judeophobia

UPDATE: fourhorses at Free Dominion points out some of the government agents whom B'Nai Brith should be targeting next, according to their own logic in the following post.

UPDATE 2: And let's not forget how our criminal law can be corrupted once judges must play the game of defining and punishing "hate" speech, rather than clear incitement to violence:
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A number of the bloggers who have been calling for an end to Canada's "human rights" commissions, or at least to the powers of these commissions to police our freedom of expression, saw this recent press release from B'nai Brith as a hopeful sign that that organization was reconsidering its record of working with Canada's "human rights" commissions to prosecute internet hate mongers. Those who had hoped that Canada's organized Jews would stop fighting the last Holocaust by fooling themselves into thinking that going after socially marginal "neo-Nazis" was somehow a politically serious act, and who had called instead for Jewish organizations to concentrate on the threat of a next Holocaust posed by antisemitic Islamists and allied leftists who, in Canada, are now using the "human rights" codes to attack critics of political Islam, including Jewish defenders of individual freedom, will probably be disappointed at the recent decision of B'nai Brith to put its faith in Canada's criminal hate speech laws. However, at least B'nai Brith's target is now those one can take a little more seriously as promoters of a second Holocaust.

Today came the news that B'nai Brith is lobbying the Ontario Attorney General to prosecute under the criminal code, in order to combat the rampant Jew hatred, posing as anti-Zionism, at Ontario's universities:
TORONTO – B’nai Brith Canada has urged Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley to proceed swiftly with hate crime charges against demonstrators who took part in an anti-Israel event last February at McMaster University.

Protesters chanted “death to Jews” and “Viva Jihad,” while waving signs that promoted hatred and violence.

In a letter to Bentley, B’nai Brith Canada said that Hamilton Police urged that “you proceed with hate crime charges in connection with the anti-Israel rally held at McMaster University on Feb. 29, 2008. As reported by various news outlets, including the Hamilton Mountain News, hate-filled slogans such as ‘death to Jews’ and ‘Viva Jihad’ traumatized those in attendance.

“We urge you to…proceed with hate crime charges against demonstrators who actively promoted hatred and violence.

“B’nai Brith Canada’s 2007 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents illustrates the growing trend of antisemitic incidents across Canada taking place at educational settings. This is especially true with regards to university campuses where incidents rose dramatically, more than doubling from 36 cases in 2006 to 78 in 2007.

“While free speech is undoubtedly a fundamental component of Canadian society, it should not act as a shield for protesters chanting ‘death to Jews’ and ‘Viva Jihad.’ As universities across Canada gear up for a new academic year, we look to your leadership to signal that poisonous messaging that promotes hatred and violence against a particular segment of the community – in this case Jewish students – will not be tolerated, on or off campus.”

In the letter, B’nai Brith acknowledged that Bentley has fought hate crimes throughout Ontario: “We are well aware of your ongoing commitment to combating hatred against all of Ontario’s diverse communities and welcome your ongoing efforts on this front. Please do not hesitate to call upon B’nai Brith, which stands ready to lend its expertise and assist in any way possible.”

Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s executive vice-president, said, “We are calling on the Attorney General to act on the request of the Hamilton police. Failure to bring this matter to a resolution is at odds with the severity of the offence.

“Campus is an important microcosm of society where there can be no immunity from hate. As universities across Canada gear up for a new academic year, any further delay leaves Jewish students at risk.”
For me, the question is whether a chant of "death to Jews" can be seriously taken as an incitement to violence, rather than a vile comment on the highly politicized legacy of the Holocaust. While a free society must tolerate the expression of pretty much all resentments, it should draw the lines at actions that are violent or that are seriously and directly intended to encourage violence.

But this is to say we should not confuse the issue in terms of "hate speech", since pretty much every human being has hateful expressions of one kind or another in his or her speech. What should be illegal is clear and direct incitement to violence, not words that some (inevitably politicized) seer can interpret as passing Canada's judicial tests for words "likely to expose a person or group to hatred or contempt". Ultimately the test of incitement to violence would likely be that violence did indeed flow more or less directly from the act of incitement.

I think B'nai Brith is intellectually confused if they think the widespread problem of Judeophobia and the left-political Islam alliance against Israel, America, and all free societies can be tackled through the heavy hand of the criminal law. Throwing student radicals in jail will not teach such people to like Jews or Israel. It will surely have the opposite effect much more often. It will create martyrs and thus foster the cause of the hate mongers, further encourage conspiracy theories of a Jewish lobby controlling Western governments, and only encourage the forces of moral relativism to say: well if one can't say that about Israel/Jews, nobody can say similar things about Islam, or Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, etc. etc. And given the current inability of Canada's "multicultural" politicians to make distinctions between relatively free and tyrannical cultures, we will likely have all kinds of necessary expressions of cultural or political contempt threatened by criminal sanctions. Again, let me remind that I am not defending actual incitements to violence. But any attempt at outlawing resentments would just be a Utopian project bound to fail in all kinds of ugly and dangerous ways.

The colonization of our universities by hateful antisemites and conspiracy theorists - much teaching in the humanities today is a sophisticated form of conspiracy theorizing where human reality is wrongly presumed to be constructed by one or another form of the will to power - is a tragedy of great proportions. But in the face of this calamity we cannot bow to our emotions to strike back in ways that might appeal to our sense of injustice, or our own desire to practice a will to power, but not to our pragmatic reason.

I have often argued that the only real protection for Jews from the age-old, but ever-modernizing, threat of Judeophobia is not the heavy-hand of the law but rather a widespread determination from our neighbors and co-citizens to defend the reality of a free society. What protects us is faith that there are others among us who will "get our backs", who will defend the individual against collective sacrificial violence from any quarter. Jews need to be ever vigilant that they are not falling for the old illusion that finding and prosecuting a "scapegoat" or two among the legions of Judeophobes will solve the problem. Yes, real violent criminals need to be prosecuted; but there is no reason to think that criminal prosecution solves the problem of Jew hatred. Weimar Germany frequently prosecuted Nazis; that did not stop their rise.

A free society cannot be defended by government but only by an ethic that is inculcated in sufficient numbers of individual citizens who know it is their responsibility to stand up to hate mongers wherever they are. If we leave this task to the governments, popular resentments, of which Judeophobia is always a leading contender, not the love of individual freedom, will sooner or later rule the day.

A free society cannot be built on fear of hatred but only by coming better to understand the human or anthropological nature of resentment, that we may further human self-understanding accordingly. We must do the hard work of facing down hatred by talking freely in ways that help people understand and mediate the resentment that makes Jew hatred both something unique among the various racisms of the world, and a sign that provides a clue to something fundamental to our shared human, often resentful, nature. The Jew, as member of the "chosen people", those first to develop monotheist thinking in a serious way, is obviously a symbol for some aspect of our universal humanity that we need better to understand.

I would suggest to B'nai Brith that the very fact that many leftists at our universities have made implicit or explicit alliance with Islamists, that they are ready to appease and encourage the most resentful forces of an anti-modernity, anti-freedom, anti-global economy movement suggests that the most fundamental lessons of the Holocaust have never really been learned. I would suggest that the nature of antisemitism is less than fully understood by most Jews and intellectuals in the West. I would then go on to suggest that no one should fall into the trap of thinking that he can prevent the next Holocaust by relying on criminal law and not on the work of expanding human self-understanding, work that can only be done in a society where freedom of expression is, with only a few exceptions (laws against personal defamation, fraud, incitement to violence), unlimited.

9 comments:

Blazing Cat Fur said...

I posted a link to your piece on Frank Dimants blog - assuming it gets past moderation;) Good stuff Trupeers.

Walker across Worlds said...

Criminalizing something like hate is almost ludicrous when viewed objectively, and criminalizing something as liquid in nature as hate speech, is more than ludicrous. It's folly.

Hate speech laws are the kind that are self-perpetuating. First it's "Death to Jews", then it's "Stop the illegals from coming into our country", then it's "911 was an inside job". Hate speech is not easily defined; indeed, is defined very subjectively. To criminalize such a thing will only create a self-perpetuating, every growing law, taking in an ever more diverse crowd of "criminals".

Actions such as this one perpetrated by the B'nai Brith are not proper legal actions. Laws and government are put in place to maintain basic order, and to ensure the basic protection of the citizenry.

To criminalize hatred and hate speech is not protective of anyone. It certainly does not elimate said hatred or hate speech. If anything, as you said, the result is increased hatred and paranoia, not to mention a feeling of martyrdom and a persecution complex for the haters.

Nobody is benefited from such laws, even if in the short term they believe that they are. The only ones who do benefit from such laws are those either A) government agencies which enforce them, B) people who wish to exploit such laws for their own ends, "playing the game" as it were, and turning those laws against the people they were put in place to protect, or C) those truly dangerous people whose ends are not at all inhibited by such laws, are indeed furthered by them, and who are themselves outside of the realm of a reasonable or law-abiding citizen.

There is no benefit from such legal actions.

Why then, does the B'nai Brith continue in such actions?

Can't they see the damage that they could potentially do? Are they so short sighted?

truepeers said...

Why then, does the B'nai Brith continue in such actions?

Thanks for your lucid comments, Walker.

To attempt an answer your question, maybe just maybe it's because the average B'nai Brith member is not an intellectual and they are blinkered by the common human desire for a black-hatted villain on whom to target their energies and hopes for political action. It is not a stretch to say that the role of the neo-Nazi in today's popular culture (e.g. the stock figure bad guy in Hollywood films, say for example the Blues Brothers) is a figure akin to the Jew in Nazi popular culture. The fact the BB and CJC have long been concerned with the neo-Nazi, who is surely a very marginal figure in Canada, suggests a religious/cultural need for a sacrificial figure, a need or desire which is something short of where a hard-headed, eternally patient, monotheist should be, or so one might argue.

One should not underestimate how much of a challenge to trust in God and the eternally patient Jewish religion the Holocaust has been. For what it's worth, I say that as someone who is not religious in the conventional sense of someone who performs rituals.

Findalis said...

To prosecute someone for the Muhammad pictures and not someone who advocates death threats to another minority group is immoral.

The pictures hurt no one. The threat of murder will lead someone to kill.

Canada needs to get its priorities right.

Bill_37 said...

"maybe just maybe it's because the average B'nai Brith member is not an intellectual and they are blinkered by the common human desire for a black-hatted villain on whom to target their energies and hopes for political action"

Agreed, but I would broaden that to include just about everyone in the world! Those McMasters students don't have the ring of a true intellectual either. Average people are by definition average; they are many, real intellectuals are very few. Any system that's going to work has to work for the non-intellectual as well, or else it turns into Liberal policy.

Staging demonstrations where groups actually call out for the death of another group is a page right out of the Islamists playbook. It must be stopped and it must be stopped publicly.

I know in this 'enlightened' age, many intellectuals feel that we've evolved beyond barbarism in the Western world; I disagree. We've suppressed barbarism and made it socially unacceptable, but evolution is a very long process. We are still quite human and capable of stunning barbarism beneath our civilized veneer. The ancient, reptilian part of our brains is still fully functional. Examples abound in your local newpaper every day.

For millenia, hanging an offender off the castle/palace/town hall in a gibbet has actually been very effective in keeping that reptilian brain and more important, it's actions, under control. While I don't advocate a return to anything as crude as actual gibbets, making a public example of people who truly 'cross the line' in society through our legal system is still a good thing. If you don't; using the intellectual rationale that it won't make any difference anyway; you run the danger of erasing that line. It's an anthropological cousin of the 'broken windows' theory of law enforcement for petty crime.

I hear the 'slippery slope' arguement made here, but I suggest that not prosecuting these people is another, much more dangerous slippery slope; telling the vast majority of people who are not intellectuals that no one cares and that this sort of thing is acceptable.

When dealing with something as emotional and irrational as group tribalism and hatred, civilized society must make itself be heard and be clearly seen to abhor this sort of behaviour; especially in our centres of higher learning. Fail in this and wait to see what this new crop of future 'intellectuals' does when it gets it's turn at bat in society.

truepeers said...

bill,

thanks for the comment; i agree that something should be done about these people, though I didn't lay out what kind of thing I'd favor in the post.

First, they should be sanctioned by the university; and if not then the university should be sanctioned. In short, I would favor more decentalized solutions than criminal show trials. I definitely think the names of those involved should be published and they should be shunned.

You are right that it is an age-old practise to make examples of evil doers with public punishments. Whether that kind of thing can still work in this day and age is the question. OR are we now so enamored of victimology that the tables will be quickly turned on us if we attempt to punish those who are just making more explicit what their professors effectively teach when they talk of chaining Israel and its ability to defend itself in codes of "international law" and in the hologram of a Palestinian sovereignty that no one seems able to exercise in anything but a logic of death cultism.

Perhaps the one thing that is taught in universities today is to think of yourself as a victim. THat mindset has become part and parcel of the Islamist.

As an intellectual, I am quite aware that any solution has to be pragmatic, i.e. representable to and represented by ordinary people. It has to enter into every day exchange. I am not, I hope, making some holier-than-thou Gnostic call. If I am, please hold me to account.

But it just seems to me that while it may well be appropriate in foreign policy, e.g. in Afghanistan, that we take a very hard line about shooting Islamists, that those who would destroy the state be forced to trade in the consequences, I am not sure it is the kind of policy we want at home in an age of moral relativism where any hard line against antisemites will lead to calls for hard line against those of us calling for death to Jihad. We need a solution that moves us belong relativism and towards a freer society. For ultimately it is freedom that the Islamist rightly fears for it is that, when exercised widley, that destroys his ideology.

The problem can be expressed otherwise. Because of our immigration policies in Canada, we have to decide what exactly is the nature of the "civilized" society we are going to defend. Is it to be one where a cosmopolitan elite keeps all the trouble makers from the various ethnic, racial, and religious groups in line, in which case a little Roman-style punishment would be called for, or is it one where we demand a common loyalty to a shared nationhood and freedom, that we may live again in a self-ruling democracy?

It seems to me that if we wish the benefits of nationhood and shun the ever-fragile order of the imperial control system, then we are going to have to find a way to teach our fellow Canadians who are chained to their rensentful desires and enamored of chanting "death to Jews" and such like, how to begin living as free people.

We won't go far down that road if we give them reason to confirm the shabby educations they get where they are encouraged to see themselves as victims of the state and the "dominant" culture. Rather, why not do something like publish their names and call on all people and employers to shun them, that they begin to learn how they must adhere to some code of reciprocity that is maintained by ordinary citizens in a free society?

Having said all that, it all depends on context. If it can be shown that the chanters at McMaster were more than adolescent troublemakers, that they are people who are doing things that give one the strong impression they support actual acts of violence, then sure, lets throw all the criminal law we can at them.

But we must be wary that they are in fact begging us to make victims of them. That is what they hold most sacred. And to defeat them we have to defeat that conception and help them become free and responsible citizens, or we have to stand against any more immigration from antisemitic and anti-American countries, as a general if not absolute rule. OR we have to give up our dreams of self-ruling nationhood and become imperial hard-ball players. Your comment reminds me a bit of what the British officer said to the Indian who wanted to practise suttee: you can practise your customs, and we will practise ours of hanging men who kill women.

Ideally, I would like in Canada that we say, you can't practise that custom of Jew hatred and we will pressure you to be free, so that we don't have to pay to keep you under chains or surveillance for ever more.

Bill_37 said...

Thanks for your thoughtful reply Truepeers. It is always a pleasure to discuss something important with someone willing to listen and speak.

Based on your comments, I agree that perhaps some time in the public 'stocks' as opposed to the 'gibbet' would be the first place to start; at least until some investigation can be done to see if these are real hate-mongers or simply misguided young people aching to be part of a 'popular' cause.

Something that I noticed with surprise, and dismay, is the lack of mainstream media coverage on this. But I guess that after all the fun at Concordia a couple of years ago, herds of 'independent thinkers' screaming death threats at a Canadian university just isn't news anymore.

But I do agree that their names should be published to all to know and recognize.

If we have truly become completely enamoured of victimology to this level, then all is lost already. I for one am more hopeful than that. I believe that public humiliation (the figurative 'stocks') can still be effective; that there are still enough of us out there who believe in actual civil society, peace and good government; to effectively nip this in the bud. If we wait until these people graduate and take position of power the task will become well nigh impossible. No biggie for me personally; I'll be gone from this mortal coil long before then, but I fear for our children.

As for prosecution strengthening the actual nutcases; the Islamists being the flavour of the month; I say; So what? They will only get stronger. Waiting for that to happen is a mug's game. Door 1 you lose, Door 2 you lose. I have done considerable travel in the Arab world and believe me, they don't think of themselves as victims in the sense we Canadians think.

To your basic Islamist, we are 'Kuffar', a term that our media consistantly mis-translates as 'unbelievers' or 'infidels'. True to a point, but it's interpretive translation is much stronger and more obscene. Used in proper context, 'Kuffar' refers to sub-humans; best translated as 'slaves' or 'livestock'.
Not precisely the language of your basic Canadian 'victim'. They use the useful idiots teaching at our universities; nothing more. It would be those same professors who would be first put to a horrible death if they ever did actually come to power.

Back to your point. I agree. But I would like them in front of a court; at least for uttering death threats. This is a felony in Canada under long standing criminal law completely independent of Hate Speech legislation. I would love to see them use a 'our professors taught us this' defense. Sometimes you have to push the issue to get it noticed and a legal court proceeding, of any sort, would be perfect for this. Strangely enough, it occurs to me that I feel this way because I agree with your assessment that they may have already gathered the strength necessary to defeat us. In my mind that possibility makes it imperative that we strike back in front of an accountable judiciary now; while 'we' still have the strength to even try.

So far, at least to my knowledge, the University has done nothing to address the barbarians in their midst. Your very sensible suggestion of sanctioning the university hasn't materialized either; and I don't beleive it will. As you note, the rot is deeply ingrained already.

All of this notwithstanding, I completely and wholeheartedly agree with your summations in the last couple of paragraphs. Very thoughtful and very true. The sticking point is how to achieve them without some state sanctioned consequences to get the 'reptile brains'; who will never change; onto the program of a free society.

Its the old 10-80-10 rule. 10% of people will love you no matter what you do, 10% will hate you no matter what you do. These groups are both, therefore, irrelevant; there's nothing you can do so why try. It's that big old 80% that must be addressed, and if we in the civil society camp simple leave the field to the hatemongers, the majority of that 80% will go with the nutbars; figuring they must be right because even their enemies won't really fight them. Primitive logic I know, but people are humans; and by definition at least half of us are of 'below average' intelligence. As even our old buddy Osama bin Laden (interesting that he still uses 'bin' in his name; he never performed Haj himself?) has noted; people; average, non-intellectual people; will gravitate towards the percieved 'strong horse'.

All of this notwithstanding, I don't hear you making some "holier-than-thou Gnostic call." And I certainly don't believe that I have all of the answers; or even a reasonable fraction of them; myself. Solomon himself would be challenged in the environment you have accurately outlined.

Thanks for the forum Truepeers. I do believe that the issue is of utmost importance and hope to be a regular visitor from here in.

truepeers said...

bill,

thanks again for the thoughtful comment; it's late now but I will see if I can pick up on this tomorrow.

come back any time.

truepeers said...

I have done considerable travel in the Arab world and believe me, they don't think of themselves as victims in the sense we Canadians think.

To your basic Islamist, we are 'Kuffar', a term that our media consistantly mis-translates as 'unbelievers' or 'infidels'. True to a point, but it's interpretive translation is much stronger and more obscene. Used in proper context, 'Kuffar' refers to sub-humans; best translated as 'slaves' or 'livestock'.


Fair enough, but the birth of Israel has added a new element to Muslim culture and this has a victimary quality very much like traditional Western antisemitism. See, for example, this take on the Malaysian P.M.'s infamous 2003 speech to Muslim heads of state where Israel is blamed for all the problems of the Muslim world.

But I would like them in front of a court; at least for uttering death threats. This is a felony in Canada under long standing criminal law completely independent of Hate Speech legislation.

-good point; that is the kind of use of criminal law I would much prefer.

Your very sensible suggestion of sanctioning the university hasn't materialized either; and I don't beleive it will. As you note, the rot is deeply ingrained already.

-well, I think you're right to suggest that the main funder (the government) or the other universities won't have the courage or sense to sanction. BUt perhaps it is something that motivated members of the alumni could take up as a cause: don't make any more donations until they satisfactorily address this issue....

As usual, we must look to free individuals to push institutions in the right direction....

Primitive logic I know, but people are humans; and by definition at least half of us are of 'below average' intelligence. As even our old buddy Osama bin Laden (interesting that he still uses 'bin' in his name; he never performed Haj himself?) has noted; people; average, non-intellectual people; will gravitate towards the percieved 'strong horse'.

-true, which is why we must see this as a long war for hearts and minds where we develop the narratives and positions to win people over to the future of free societies. The first steps will be the hardest, but we are already making them...