Monday, June 30, 2008

Remembering The Battle Of The Somme

In addition to being Canada Day, July 1st is also the anniversary of the first day of the bloody Battle of the Somme, in World War I.

I've been watching a dvd collection of the 2003 documentary series, World War In Color, so the infamous story is on my mind.

This impressive documentary meticulously colorizes hours of black and white film footage taken during the grinding conflict that so shaped the start of our modern age. The colorized footage tends not to have the "muddy" look that used to belabor this technology; it makes you see the old films from an old world with fresh eyes, and renewed interest. For all its gruesomeness it remains a riveting show: chapter by chapter the documentary chronicles various aspects of the war, with precious interviews of surviving veterans intercut along the way, to humanize history.

That men could emerge from the carnage of The Great War, and the suicidal Battle of the Somme in particular, to go on to start families, study for a career, and choose to remain decent people, is an overwhelming fact to contemplate. I stare at those soft-spoken veterans in awe. Let those who whine and complain about their lot in life today, reflect on what people in the not-so-distant past lived through, and despite their experiences (maybe because of those experiences..?) they still felt compelled to do the Right Thing... they had the courage to try to live Good lives. Given the plain butchery of the Somme, I wonder which act can be proven the more valorous...

Canada, as well as Europe, has reason to remember the horror of that first day of the Battle of the Somme, especially those not yet part of Canada at the time, the troops from Newfoundland:

The Battle of the Somme began early on the morning of July 1, 1916, near the towns of Beaumont and Hamel. Thousands of soldiers from Britain and Newfoundland climbed out of their trenches to walk through a hail of machine gun fire, toward the German line.

In less than half an hour, the fighting was over.

57,470 British soldiers were killed or wounded on what remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. Newfoundlanders suffered especially heavy losses on that day: of the 801 who had gone into battle, only 68 were able to respond at roll call the following morning.

There's more than one Europe, no matter what our maps might tell us. There's the Europe of the unaccountable EU elites, sitting at their remote tables making their daft calculations like modern-day General Haigs and Joffres, discovering only too late that their golden dreams are built of mud and broken bones.

Then there's the Europe that gathers on anniversaries like tomorrow, to honor the memory of the good that died in places like the Somme, so that, through memory, that good may live on:

SCOTTISH war heroes who fought and died at the Somme... will be honoured at a ceremony in France tomorrow.
... The Royal Scots Guards lost 20,000 men with a further 40,000 wounded while attacking heavily fortified German trenches close to the village of Contalmaison.
Despite huge losses, the 16th Battalion – known as [Sir George] McRae's Own – was credited with achieving the deepest penetration of the enemy line anywhere on the battlefront. [Communities Minister Stewart] Maxwell will lay a wreath on behalf of the Scottish nation at the Contalmaison Cairn, the largest memorial of its kind to be built on the Western Front since the 1920s.

Mr Maxwell said: "Their sacrifice in defence of their nation has helped preserve Scotland's way of life and our democracy.

"It is very important that their courage, valour and sacrifice are recognised and never forgotten."

There was so much waste, so much senseless death throughout that awful nightmare that is The Great War, it is terribly easy to conclude that it was all for nothing. After all, there was a Second World War that followed soon enough the "war to end all wars". Today, with barely a handful of WWI veterans left alive, the war seems as remote to us as the Napoleonic campaigns would have been to these veterans when they enlisted. That remoteness makes it tempting to just sweep the whole messy memory under the rug... or into its grave.

Towards the end of one of the episodes of the forementioned colorized documentary series, a veteran looks away from the camera as he admits that he feels his generation's sacrifices have been "condemned to be forgotten", and that when this happens their sacrifices will have truly been for nothing. The expression on his face, of looking at nothing... yet seeing everything... is a haunting one.

That elderly gentleman lived through the shadow of the evil brought upon him, and yet can still look back on much to be grateful for. As we should look back, and be grateful for the good examples that have come before us; especially the remarkable generation that outran the four horsemen when they went "over the top". These gentlemen returned still feeling the human duty to renew their humanity, and choose to be gentle men.

How To Beat The Heat

There's one remarkable way to beat the hot summer weather, and that's wading through ice-cold mountain river water.
Even a slight breeze is enough to cool you down completely, if you're alongside a sizeable enough river.
The joy of discovery can also do much to dispell pre-occupation with the heat.
This particular mountain trail is enlivened by the occasional relics left behind from the region's logging legacy.

I'm not sure what it says about human nature, but I can't help noticing how people can be so much more civil to each other when they meet on these trails. We smile to strangers and even say hello as we cross paths, when we do it up there in the woods. Were we to meet the same strangers on a city street, however, these sincere smiles would probably be grounds for suspicion.

The farther we get from civilization, the more civilized we seem to become. (As long as there's a clear way back to civilization..!)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Belgian Off-Duty Police Attacked By Mob Of 30 Youths

If they see you, they attack you; little self-control on display in this story of Belgian police officers who were enjoying a day off, when all of a sudden they are pounced upon by no less than 30 young thugs.

Loosely translated from the Belgian paper La Derniere Heure: 5 police officers from Brussels were assaulted by 30 youths, in the Bruparck parking lot in Heysel, on Sunday morning.

The officers were not on duty and were coming back from an evening together. As they entered the parking lot, they were recognized by a group of youths that were hanging around and who had already had problems with the police.

The youths beat up four of the officers so severely that they will be unable to return to work for some time. One of the police officers suffered a broken elbow. The young thugs also damaged the officers' cars. ...

One of the problems making urban violence worse in Belgium are the juvenile detention centers; they are full, and often young offenders are released shortly after they are caught, due to lack of space.

Yesterday we covered a similar story out of France, where off-duty police officers were attacked by a smaller gang of feral youths. Just how common an occurance has this become?

A Day In The Life Of French Police

Life as a police officer, in today's France, as read in the short account carried (with scarce details) at the French news site "Le Post" (loosely translated from the original):

Two off-duty police officers were jogging in the Parc de la Feyssine, at Villeurbanne. The police were jogging out of uniform and came upon a group of youths, who started to insult them. To calm down the situation, the two joggers revealed that they were policemen. At that moment they were attacked by the youths, beaten up to the point that one of the police officers needed seven days leave, the other four days leave.

Later, three of the youths, two of them aged 16 and the other 15 years of age, were arrested with a stolen moped.
Some readers in the comments section want to know why the paper doesn't go into any further description of the thugs than the simple shadow term, "youths". An example: at 5:13 pm on June 26, "Matthieu" says:

"I find it distorting that instead of saying scum, thugs, they say 'youths'. Also we don't know what is being hidden behind the term 'youths'...."
At 5:27 "Robespierre" writes in reply:

"yes but as you're aware matthieu, with censorship nowadays... as well, 'youth' are 'vitims' of the system therefore forcibly innocent... as a matter of fact, if this continues, they'll say: 'Two police thugs were jogging out of uniform, they are attacked by young victims of our system!' "

If you're tempted to add your 2 francs to the discussion, make sure you read the news site's fine print for participating in their comments section (my translation):

We remind you that, conforming to the law, all injurious, defamatory and xenophobic statements [you may make], expose you to eventual legal prosecution. Anonymity does not prevent you from being identified.
Now there's a welcoming invitation for honest debate..!

To buck up readers' flagging spirits, at 6:53, "Circulez" offers a personal anecdote filled with poetic justice and an inevitable ending to the path that such suppression of reality leads us towards [loosely translated]:

One day in the middle of Paris, on a busy avenue, I saw a young thug and his mother, both aboard a BMW that was trying to get around a police checkpoint. The kid floored his BMW and escaped the cops on bicycles... who later caught up with him at the traffic lights because there were so many cars it was impossible to get around them. The cops tried to extract the guy from his car, he resists by hanging on to the steering wheel. It was then that out of the crowd came one of those heroes of modern times! A lefty in his fifties, with his little woolen vest, long curly hair attempting to cover up his bald head! This fellow runs to the scene and yells at the cops "don't you hit him, I'm watching you, don't hit him!" Even though they were only trying to pull him out, without nightsticks or anything. One of the cops ousts the mother from the passenger side, who's yelling and drawing a crowd to the scene. The lefty throws himself towards the door on the driver's side and gets in the way of the cop trying to make an arrest! The suspect is now lying across both front seats and is giving kicks to the police officer who is trying to get him out of there. Since the lefty also has his head in there, despite the police officer pushing him so that he goes away, the lefty gets a magnificient boot right to his nose, he falls backward, his nose all bloodied, and starts rolling around on the ground, whimpering. Finally, the cop gets the guy out, other police arrive and help him handcuff [the youth]. Every one is okay... except for superman who's yelling and sniveling that he has a broken nose and that they should call [9-11]... !

[Thanks to Le Salon Beige]

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beautiful Day

Finally, summer comes to Vancouver, British Columbia. What a nice Saturday we've had today.

Nice weather for a nice long weekend, to get us in the mood for a celebratory Canada Day next Tuesday... sometimes it's good to be in BC.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Unbelievable: Alberta "human rights" official endorses Maoist thought policing

Thanks to the Stephen Boissoin case, an American Christian youth worker, who gives seminars promoting sexual abstinence, is worried if some of his portrayals of homosexuality as a sin is going to land him in trouble with the law when he comes to speak at an Edmonton church. Boissoin recounts the story at Free Dominion.

So the American phones up the Alberta Human Rights Commission. And some bureaucrat effectively tells him that he should get participants to sign consent forms. But even then, if one of his audience then goes public with "homophobic" views, say at school, then a teacher could lay a complaint against the youth minister.

Basically, a kid in school doesn't have a right to his opinion. If he questions homosexuality, the teacher can brow beat him until he gives up the name of a preacher, or whomever, who dared to communicate traditional Judeo-Christian views on homosexuality. The preacher can then be hauled in front of a "human rights" tribunal and, like Boissoin, banned from making "disparaging" comments about homosexuality and forced to make a public "apology"

What's more, the American teacher is advised to run his course by the police, to check for "hate crimes".

This is pure Maoism. In Canada, today. Fire. Them. All.

HT: Four Horses

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The politics of the rule of "human rights" "law".

At our Thursday night Covenant Zone meeting we had a discussion of the latest thought crime: 'Anti-lesbian' remarks send comedian to human rights hearing.

While some Covenanters think the public won't be receptive to the victim claims of some lesbians who apparently went to a comedy club and obnoxiously heckled a comedian who returned fire with some nasty lesbian jokes, I argued that the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal is betting they will. I said there is no way the Tribunal didn't take the Mark Steyn affair into consideration when deciding whether to take the anti-lesbian comedian case. My take is that they figure this case will not win them much more criticism (though it should) but will give them promise of winning sympathy for their ridiculous regime of speech policing. I believe there are many people, in Vancouver at least, who will take the side of the lesbians who had to find some strong arm to take care of them when their world turned ugly.

I am now more convinced that this case is an attempt to deflect the great deal of criticism the failed lawyers on the "human rights" tribunal have recently been facing. This is because the Canadian Human Rights Commission has just announced it will not hear the Mark Steyn/Maclean's case; and I find it very hard to believe that the BC Tribunal did not receive advance warning of this news. (HT Catfur)

UPDATE: Ezra Levant has more.

What happens to a Canadian Muslim who speaks out against polygamy?

Deborah Gyapong has the answer.

This is just one of many reasons why we need to foster an environment of free expression in this country, to make it more sacred than any tribal loyalty, or any other form of the sacred..

This is why we meet every Thursday in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 7-9 pm, in front of Blenz Coffee (look for the blue scarves).

By acting out as free speechers, allowing the righteous twits to gawk at our Free Mark Steyn t-shirts, or to overhear our frank discussions, we do our little part towards making this a country where you can't try to shut anyone up and expect silence to follow.

Join us, in person or spirit.

Marseilles' Routine Train Robberies

An epidemic of train robberies are starting to get out of hand near the French port city of Marseille, the French press reports this week.

Evoking the methods of train robbers of old, attack after attack is taking place in the northern municipality of Saint-Louis. Things are getting so out of hand, the authorities might, just might, start having to do something about it.

Loosely translated from the account carried in the regional newspaper La Provence:

A simple garbage container across the rails. This is how four men succeeded in stopping a 700-meter long train, carrying 30 railcars, in order to steal some of the computer hardware the train was transporting yesterday morning, around 5:30 AM.

It was a particularly audacious method of operation which is starting to become almost commonplace in this sector, near the city of Consolat, in Saint-Louis, where the train tracks border housing….

The conductor had just enough time to stop the train and to see the robbers open
several containers. In cases like this, the procedure is clear: the agent is supposed to sound the alarm, in order to interrupt traffic, and then to take refuge inside his cabin so as to be sheltered from assault. This time, the conductor was not harmed, but this kind of attack is starting to seriously concern the corporation, as much as the phenomenon seems to be gaining in scope.

According to Joël Naudin, from the Sud-Rail union, the number of attacks is significant: “On average, there are two per month. This has almost become routine. The last one, came at the end of the month of May. We came near to having a catastrophe when the conductor got down to see if the locomotive had been damaged. At that moment, another train brushed past him. There must be a real concerted effort to secure the zone. Every one should do everything possible before a tragedy occurs.” …

…For months, even years, [Daniel Tourlan, the regional head of the CGT union(Confederation Generale du Travaille)] has been familiar with this phenomenon which has been occurring regularly in Saint-Louis. And for him, the SNCF [“Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer”, the French National Railway Company] is not taking account of the situation:

“It’s been going on for years. … There used to be fences that were put in place, but these were destroyed. There, we need manpower. Today, the politics of it is the calculated risk, not prevention. As long as there is not a sufficient number of attacks, they won’t intervene as they should. Not until the problem becomes serious. For now, they are not taking measures in accordance to the problem.

For the union leader, the question of the agents’ security might come up quite quickly in another sector, that of the new line between Aix and Marseille, soon to be in service: “There also, we are rather concerned. In regards to security, if we do not want a replay of the OK Corral, there must be measures taken. The number of officers in the Suge [General Surveillance] is low and out of proportion to the problems the region is facing.”
The report fails to mention if the thieves make use of the famous Canadian phrase, "Hands Up!"
(Well, it was an American who said it... but he said it in Canada...)

Some of Marseille's other crime waves have been covered in previous Covenant Zone posts:

The attacks on bus drivers who insist that riders pay their fares, and

The attacks on grocery store owners who insist that shoppers pay for their food.

I hate sounding glib when I post about the ongoing moral and societal decay in French-speaking Europe. There are real people at the receiving end of this misery, it's not a game. I descend into sarcasm as a defensive reflex, I suspect, because of the implications of it all... my attempt at gallows humor. As a Francophile I take this downward spiral very seriously, more serious evidently than the elites whose nihilistic paralysis is helping to tilt things irrevocably for the worse.

It feels World War I all over again, only this time in urban settings, not in fortresses around Verdun or trenches along the Marne. The people are being sacrificed by those in positions of authority, sacrificed to utopian idolatry. In "the Great War", obstinate French generals refused to see what was clearly in front of their faces, lest they be forced to recognize the imbecility of their plans, and their delusions caused needless misery.

In World War I this resulted in Mutiny. What will the modern, urban, version look like?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A reminder of who is leading the fight against freedom of expression

What follows is an excerpt from the Speech of Secretary General at the thirty-fifth session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, given on June 18th:
Honourable Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In face of the adverse and mounting phenomenon of Islamophobia in the West, we placed this issue at the top of our priorities and preoccupations, while conducting a large-scale world-wide effort to confront it at four levels:

First: The official level of countries and governments of the West, where this phenomenon is rampant and wide-spread. We have exhorted the officials in these countries to assume their inherent legal responsibilities in order to stem this illegal trend in conformity with international and domestic laws which prohibit discrimination based on incitement to hatred towards individuals or groups because of their religion, race, or other grounds.

Second: The level of major international organizations, such as the United Nations General Assembly in New York or the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, as well as organisations concerned with Dialogue among Civilizations, or inter-religious and interfaith dialogue.

Third: Renowned academic institutions, intellectual and research centers, and think-tank circles.

Fourth: The level of the OIC Islamophobia Observatory, which we have established in order to monitor and document all manifestation of this scourge, and to deal with them in an interactive manner.

Taken together, this plan has proven its merit and we have been able to achieve convincing progress at all these levels mainly the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the UN General Assembly.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted similar resolutions against the defamation of Islam

In confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film Fitna? we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed. As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.
Robert Spencer has his analysis of the speech here:
It is telling that when Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and the OIC think of “defending the image of Islam,” they don’t mean working in Muslim communities to combat the influence of the jihad ideology or Islamic supremacism among Muslims worldwide. They don’t have in mind developing any large scale initiatives to combat Osama bin Laden’s version of Islam, and to teach Muslims how to resist the jihadist appeal. The organization hasn’t ever acknowledged the obvious fact that it could end “Islamophobia” right away by rejecting Islam’s doctrines of violence, supremacism and conquest and moving strongly against those Muslims who are acting upon those doctrines.

Instead, they have made themselves the enemies of honest men like Mark Steyn who have called attention to this supremacist agenda. They will be working with American policymakers to restrict free speech -- that is, honest discussion of the elements of Islam that the jihadists use to justify their actions and gain recruits.

Can honest discussion really be outlawed? You bet it can. As long as free people do nothing to stop it from happening. As the OIC presses American politicians to use anti-discrimination and hate speech laws to “stem this illegal trend,” we need to stand up now with Mark Steyn and all the others who are on the front lines of this battle, and tell them that what they’re doing to Steyn in Canada must never happen here. We must tell our elected officials to stop this outrage, resist OIC lobbying, and reaffirm in no uncertain terms our commitment to free speech -- particularly now, when so much depends on our being able to speak with honesty about the nature of the jihadist threat, and so many powerful entities want to make sure we do not do so.

So much depends on this -- possibly even including our survival as a free people.
See also Spencer on the UN's moves agains freedom of expression.

So, let us in Canada not forget that Mohammed Elmasry is a sockpuppet too.

Meanwhile, Dutch companies are caving in to blackmail and "condemning" Geert Wilders' film Fitna (brief analysis by Fjordman).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Muslim Father Demands Removal Of Crucifix From French Catholic Hospital Room

A sign-of-the-times story about fear and faith in today's France.

Translated from the short account carried in the French-language newspaper Le Figaro:

After vehement demands, a muslim obtained the removal of a crucifix hanging from the wall of the room of a Catholic clinic in Bourgoin-Jallieu (Isère) where his daughter was being treated…

Monday afternoon, at the Saint-Vincent de Paul clinic, the father of a young girl, who had just underwent scheduled preventative surgery, demanded that personnel unfasten a crucifix from his daughter’s room.
"For almost 15 minutes, the father, in the presence of his wife, verbally ranted, demanding that the crucifix be taken down", reported a witness. The establishment’s personnel eventually gave in to this demand.

The management of the clinic expressed their astonishment. The director of the clinic, Marie-Thérèse Besson, declared that this demand was "surprising [given that it’s] from a family that freely chose our establishment."

"When people choose to be treated in our establishment… they know that they are in a Catholic maternity hospital", she added.
I wonder, whose fear is the most palpable in this story; that of the hospital attendants, who can be so quick to accommodate their ranting customer?
Or the father who can allow himself to become so hot and bothered about seeing a Crucifix hanging in a Catholic hospital?

For what else is his fury based on, but fear?

Surely someone secure in their faith doesn’t behave as he behaves. If his faith is really the "real" one, then why would the presence of a simple icon defile him so deeply? Does he maintain so tenuous a grip on his religious beliefs that they can be this gravely threatened by a visual reminder of potential alternatives?

The story is a good example of how we are each an ambassador of our faith. A stranger to our faith will reasonably presume that our behavior is the result of our values taught by that faith, and any lack of civility is likely caused by, not incidental to, our religious beliefs. Look at what his behavior will make readers think now, of his fellow co-religionists.

And look what Catholic France is made to look like by the spineless capitulation of the hospital staff to the fear this ingrate father held for their faith. Don't the staff at that Catholic clinic believe in the healing power that the Cross represents?

If I get mud on my hands, I can probably wash it off. If I make a mistake, I can usually find, or be shown, some way to help atone for it. As a Catholic, I believe that if I sin, in word or in deed, there are circumstances under which my sin can be forgiven. I might fall away, but I can always be welcomed back by God. There must be something I can do, or something I can stop doing, that will help wash away the stain from my hands, and be clean again.

Should I conclude from this father’s un-reasonable behavior that his faith offers no such forgiveness for his stains? Does mere contact with the symbols of a rival faith cause a permanent, unwashable stain sufficient in power to anchor his soul to hell?

Judging by his behavior, he acts like it would. No wonder he was so scared of that Crucifix.

This father's ingratitude, insecurity and incivility is a timely reminder that good fruit does not fall from a bad tree, and that we should strive to think a second time about our actions, to ensure we are acting in accordance with our values, and our faith.

We can't expect others to be impressed by the reasonableness of our faith unless we act as if we are helped, not cursed, by that faith.

[Much thanks to the great French blog Le Salon Beige for unearthing this story.]
UPDATE: Esther at Islam in Europe has translated further details from the original report that appeared in the French paper Le Dauphine Libere. Apparently this isn't the first time that such incidents have taken place in these Catholic clinics...

This photo shows the sign at the front entrance to the building. Clearly visible: the notice that it is a "CATHOLIC Maternity".

The Dauphine article provides clinic director Marie-Thérèse Besson's full comments, rather than just the excerpts quoted by the article I translated in Le Figaro: "When people choose to be treated in our establishment, they do so in full awareness of the facts. They know that they are in a Catholic maternity [hospital]. This is not at all hidden: it is actually clearly inscribed at the entrance to the facility, as well as in the reception leaflet. The nuns of Catholic maternities perform their duties in religious garb, the bell, visible from the rooms, tolls three times at each birth. This demand [to take down the Cross] is surprising coming from a family that had freely chosen our establishment."
"Each room contains a Crucifix. Of small size, it is in no way ostentatious, [it's] very modest."

UPDATE II [July 2nd]: The father has apologized..!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Belgian Battleground

Police collided with two gangs hell-bent on violent warfare on the streets of the Belgian municipality of Anderlecht, the Western-most municipality of Brussels, capital of the EU. The story of the Anderlecht riots is from late May of this year, and it’s still generating occasional headlines in the Belgian press.

What follows is a series of loose translations of French-language media accounts covering developing angles to the story.

The initial report, as carried in the Belgian news source 7sur7:

The situation started deteriorating around 8:30 pm. The police were between a group of "youths of foreign origin" [later specified later in their reporting as "youths of north-african origin"] and "fans of the Anderlecht soccer team".

Charges by police officers mounted on horseback managed to keep the two hostile groups far apart from each other. The "youths of foreign origin" started throwing stones at the police, wounding at least one of them. A bus shelter was destroyed, several cars were damaged and store windows shattered.

The article says that, on Thursday, an (unspecified) blog carried a call for violence, inciting the "youths of foreign origin" to take on the "white supporters" of the Anderlecht team. This call to battle was set off by a fight that took place the Sunday before, on May 18, following an Anderlecht soccer game.

A later account adds that police made no less than 193 arrests that Friday night. Four of the individuals arrested were carrying baseball bats, which the article describes as "prohibited weapons". 14 police officers were injured throughout that evening. All were hospitalized, two with serious wounds.

A French-language news video showing the scale of the urban warfare, here:

The next day, Gaëtan Van Goidsenhoven, mayor ["burgomaster"] of Anderlecht passed an ordinance prohibiting a gathering of more than 5 persons within the territory of the municipality.

The following Friday (May 30), police arrested another 100 persons "pre-emptively" in Anderlecht. Most of them were minors, and were not from the local community. Some had already been arrested during the violence of the week before, and evidently released in the interim.

Some of the individuals arrested were carrying bladed weapons. Police also found two molotov cocktails among the arrested.

The police later issued a requisition order aimed at local media, asking that press and television sources give them images and video taken during the violent night, whether or not it had been aired or published. The General Association of professional Belgian journalists (AGJPB) have asked Belgian media to not cooperate with this demand.

According to the association, this requisition "illustrates the lack of respect for the function of media to inform in total independence." Giving over the material "would place journalists in an auxiliary position to the police and would put [the journalists] in danger -- whether they are before the camera or editors -- as soon as they would cover events on the ground."

The AGJBP further states that "the judicial preoccupation with identifying persons involved in the Anderlecht riots does not weigh sufficiently in regards to the interests at stake in relation to freedom of the press."

They add that "nothing is stopping the authorities from gaining information from the images that the media have already themselves broadcast or published."

Heavy police presence on weekends since the initial clash have kept things tense, but calm. Tensions are not being helped by waves of false rumors, claiming that attacks have happened or are about to happen, rumors designed to spark off new riots.

This past weekend, over 350 people participated in a "Mothers March" through the streets of Anderlecht. The marchers walked behind a banner which said "Let's talk for respect and tolerance".

One of the organizers said: "It's important to talk with everybody. The residents have a role to play to keep similar incidents from happening again. We must make an attempt for each to express themselves in words and not in stones. There is no malaise in particular in Anderlecht. But once in a while we recognize difficulties here as in all the large cities where several cultures co-exist."

Deputy Mayor Fabrice Cumps, participating in the march, said "We want to show today what unites us rather than what divides us. The future of Anderlecht and of Brussels more generally is this multiculturalism. We must live together in respect."

(Some googling reveals that I'm hardly posting a "scoop" with this story. It was news to me when I came across it in my recent French media readings, however, so I'm hoping that for some of our readers this is news for you, as well.)

UPDATE: Esther at the European blog Islam in Europe has some further details on the Anderlecht riots and their aftermath, translated into English from Dutch news sources.
Also, the Brussels Journal provides yet more background on the Belgian riots.
As well, it's fitting that I humbly link back to an earlier Covenant Zone post on an additional problem on top of all the others connected with this story: Belgian prisons have little room for these hundreds of arrested juvenile delinquents.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blazed by Cat Fur

National Post: Human rights issues open to vigorous debate
... Ms. Eliadis had harsh words for the growing contingent of bloggers who lambaste the commissions, and have been invigorated by the prominence of the Maclean's complaints.

Ms. Eliadis singled out one in particular, blazingcatfur., as "poisonous" for referring to her panel at the conference as a "Texas cage match."

She said it was evidence of the "appalling tone" that is "illustrative of how badly this debate has gone."
In my misspent youth, I went to enough conferences where the victimary religion ruled to know that few self-respecting victimologists can pass up a chance to move from the mundane work of creating and defending victims to actually claiming for themselves the sacred centrality of the victim.

So I am not entirely of the view that Pearl Eliadis is not without some satisfaction in being compared to a professional cage wrestler, wearing some kind of funny costume no doubt. Like the faked wrestling match, it is much better to be able to accuse your enemy of some unspeakably appalling crime than to actually debate her. Reason, logic, free speech: stain of Western phallogocentrism, dontchaknow. No, it's much better in certain conference circles to point the finger and make the accusation that usually gets a pass in our postmodern times: she's a right-wing victimizer!

But then one is not entirely surprised to hear that a "human rights" functionary thinks the debate in the blogosphere is "appalling", a debate that I, in my resentful naivete, have taken as one of the few recent signs of serious engagement with democracy in this country, of people unwilling to defer to government bureaucracies for all their needs, and most of all the need to openly witness and contest each other's ideas.

But then Pearl Eliadis conveniently forgot to note that it is not just we crazy bloggers, we few, we very few, but also the editorial boards of many Canadian newspapers who have roundly criticized, almost if not entirely unanimously, the current operation of our "human rights" law in relation to freedom of expression. Times are a-changing, and those once so sure of their righteous role in protecting resentful Canadians from each other have been figured as a yet greater threat. How can that be? One is left staring at the head lights, with this for an argument:
Pearl Eliadis, a prominent human rights lawyer, responded that what Mr. Borovoy thought 40 years ago should not determine the current state of human rights law, and that the arguments against human rights commissions dealing with complaints against media are premised on the notion that "new rights are bad rights."
Dohh! new is obviously good! how could I have forgotten the progressive creed so quickly! and dare I question who it is declaring these new "rights"?
She said the commissions are "strategically and uncomfortably poised" in "dynamic tension" among NGOs, government, voters, industry and other influences, and it is "almost proof of their relative success that nobody is happy."
almost, eh? So close to an argument, and yet so far...
"There's a narrow band of intolerant bigots out there who are jumping on to this bandwagon and are using this debate to propagate particularly hateful views," Ms. Eliadis said in an interview. "What the free speech absolutists are saying is that, once you take that core element of speech and transport it into mass media, suddenly it becomes immune. I don't understand why speech should be immune from discrimination law. The media should not enjoy more rights or immunity than anyone else."
Hell we all all know that the kind of doing that is talking or writing is no different from other kinds of doing, like punching someone in the face! or refusing a job! It would be simply inconceivable that someone resentfully blowing off steam in words might be be doing something ugly but nonetheless useful, either to them or to us, wouldn't it? Even worse would be the possibility that it might be useful or it might not, it might be good or it might be dangerous, but there's no way anyone, not even the sharpest lawyer, can be in a high holy position, at this point in time, to know.

My response, in short, Dear Ms. Eliadis, is that we are not a narrow band of intolerant bigots. That's just your wishful projection, the primitive figuration of a victim/scapegoat that is one of the oldest religious tricks in the book (and if there is anything we need protection from, it is this, this death cult that is the postmodern "human rights" world view).

No, Dear Pearl, the resentment that runs through our society is in all of us; it is a fundamental aspect of the human condition that cannot be legislated away, but only more or less mediated through more or less freedom of expression. And to appoint privileged arbiters and punishers who get to decide which hates to prosecute and which to leave immune, is only to raise the stakes in the wars of resentment. Much better, as a general rule in a rather peaceful country like Canada today, to make speech so free that almost everything we say is lost in a sea of words and is instantly forgettable. For if we can give up our primitive needs for bad guys/victims to put at the centre of attention, the more deeply resentful will find that in time they are not centres of attraction but just forgotten losers.

Way to go Catfur: you're hissing off the right people.

But if anyone wants a free and open debate on that or any claim made here, I will be pleased to accomodate you.

Either Warman is great, or the Canadian Nazis are weak losers

Warman wins another one: Man wins rights case against B.C. neo-Nazi (HT Catfur)

This must be getting really demoralizing for the Nazis: Warman's tenth victory! Makes me feel safe to walk the streets of Coquitlam. Come to think of it, I never really worried about Coquitlam (and no, not even PoCo). Frankly, there are only two kinds of places in Canada where I would fear being outed as an Israel- and America-loving half-Jew interested in the free marketplace.

But will the left be held to account for their common antisemitism, something inherent in the Marxist and/or politically-correct, equalitarian, victimary world view, if not always consciously so? Maybe not as long as they have Warmans to believe in.

Warman has received a lot of criticism for making money from going after marginal hate mongers in this country; many of us see it as a legalized form of shake down. I don't know if anyone knows what Warman has done with most of the money he has received via CHRC complaints. But now comes news that Warman may be aware how this all looks, as he is giving away his latest award, only a thousand dollars this time:
Warman will donate most of the settlement money to a memorial education fund for the children of Kelly Morrisseau, an aboriginal woman whose 2006 murder in Gatineau Park, north of Ottawa, remains unsolved. The rest will go to the Canadian Anti-racism and Education Society.
I've never heard of Kelly Morrisseau before. A quick Google suggests she was a beautiful young aboriginal woman, working as a prostitute in Ottawa, who was found naked and pregnant, murdered. As the linked article above notes, the murder remains unsolved.

Perhaps this murder really touched Warman's conscience. Still, it's one thing to give your own material support to the children of a murder victim. It's somewhat different to make a public act of donating money rung out of "neo-Nazis" to the child victims of an unsolved murder of an aboriginal woman. It's basically saying that she was killed by a racist or a racism that is pretty much the same as that you are fighting when you go after Stormfront losers. A cynic might say it's even a way of using a murder victim to counter the storm of bad publicity you, and the whole "human rights" system, have recently been receiving.

The larger point is that Warman and the CHRC seem to insist we see our world in terms of a certain victimary religion, one that erodes all kinds of (for me, but potentially for others) meaningful distinctions and puts those of us with a taste for certain Jewish intellectual predilections more in fear of the "human rights" hate police than of marginal figures in Coquitlam.

What could I possibly mean? Well, let's just say, hypothetically, that if one wanted to put forward the argument that speech policing through the Canadian Human Rights Commission is actual Nazi-like, i.e. state-sanctioned surveillance and coercive, behaviour, while Stormfront is home to a hatred that is not going anywhere in today's Canada, would one open oneself to defamation law suits (from those one labeled Nazis) and social and professional ostracism at the workforce (say one worked in a university or as part of a trade union like CUPE Ontario, or the Canadian Postal Workers)? And which side would one have to worry about? Warman's supporters, or Stormfront's?

Furthermore, if I were to point out that the racism which led the Nazis to kill my Jewish ancestors is not the same kind of racism that may have led someone to kill an aboriginal prostitute - notwithstanding that a racist may well hate both Jews and aboriginals - could I open myself to accusations of making invidious distinctions - even though for me the difference between Judeophobia and hatred of that deemed primitive points to something of significant anthropological and historical importance in understanding what resentment is, how it works, and how it might be mediated - distinctions that may well be deemed hateful by those enamored of a victimary religion where everyone today has an unquestioned right to see most any form of discrimination in terms of the Holocaust (the Holocaust being widely deemed the potential logical outcome of any racism, and every victim of racism deemed the equivalent of the Jews, totally innocent when massed together, stripped of any individual identity and story, and butchered) so that, e.g., even the Israeli Defense Force must become the new Nazis, in the logic of someone like Mohammed Elmasry or many a university professor/union leader?

If the answer to the latter question is yes, that's just more proof for the argument that it is the hate police who are the real neo-Nazis. It is really rage at the supposedly invidious distinction that is at the root of the Nazi, in my humble opinion.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Time to go....

Jay Currie asks the obvious question: what the hell is Jennifer Lynch, QC Smoking?
“She denied that her investigators have ever posted bigoted comments on the Internet, or engaged in entrapment, as has been frequently alleged.

“We have not done that and I would not tolerate it,” she said.”
national post

Four Horses fills in some details (about which Lynch can not seriously claim ignorance) and makes the obvious point: Step down Jennifer Lynch

A message from Robert Spencer

Use it or Lose it:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For those who don't know better: a taste of Vancouver culture

I was joking to Dag the other week, in the midst of what has been a very cool and wet May and June, that now that the earth is cooling, the massive religious energy that has gone into belief in global warming is fast turning into a religion of agricultural crisis; chaps like Dag and I will now be told how evil we are for being a little overweight, for eating the wrong things, etc.

And then came today's news. I don't know whether to admire the entrepreneurial risk-taking of a restaurateur who wants us to eat insects, starting with crickets, or write this off as another Vancouver lotus liberal who will get famous for telling the world what's good for them.

Feeling a little cynical right now, I must say my own experience with our much-hyped local restaurant Vij's suggests to me that people really don't know what's good for them. In addition to regular dining, Vij's offers a very popular take-out Indian food business which features small boilable bags of decent, but not extraordinary curries, at a hefty price. One could eat just as well and cheaper elsewhere, and get stuffed.

But the wealthy West side of Vancouver has been told countless times that Vij's is the culinary cutting edge, the new "Indian" cuisine, and they happily pay the price. If you ask me why, it is because Vij's is exceptional among Indian restaurants not so much for the food but for creating an image of Indian food and lifestyle that transcends ethnicity. It is the sign of an officially "multicultural" city that doesn't really like traditional cultures though maybe it likes their food and a few other cultural elements (yoga, say). And it's a city that likes signs that Indo-Canadians, or whoever, are no longer just immigrants running traditional immigrant small businesses, but are now into high-end, shiny postmodernist digs. When you're paying big bucks for some spiced-up chick peas, it's a way of saying we're all equal and adapted to each other now. Yuppiedom uber alles.

But now comes the big test:
Vij's restaurant, Vancouver's pride and gastronomic joy, is moving into a brave new world. Next week, it will start to serve insects in some of its dishes.

Meeru Dhalwala, the chef and co-owner with husband Vikram Vij, has decided to introduce insects as a green cuisine. She wrote about her plan in a recent piece in The Vancouver Sun.

She argued that insects can provide an environmentally positive, healthy protein and an occasional alternative to meat, if only we could tackle the yuck factor.

Green cuisine or not, cooking with insects is a bold move for a restaurant known for its sophisticated food and regarded as a top-ranking go-to spot for the famous and the foodies. Vij's will certainly be the only high-end restaurant in North America I know of that cooks with insects.

Dhalwala hopes to thwart North America's instinctive disgust towards ingesting insects the way a mom disguises broccoli in her child's food.

In the first baby step, she will start serving crickets by roasting them and grinding them into cricket flour. Then she'll make a spicy paratha, an Indian flatbread, with the flour. After that, she's thinking of moving on to grasshoppers. Tiny ones, mind you. She's thinking of roasting them with lemon and cayenne.

Crickets and grasshoppers are arthropods, the same class as prawns and lobsters, she points out. "If you're allergic to prawns and lobsters, there's a slight chance you might be allergic to crickets and grasshoppers."
"I'm not proposing we quit eating meat, but simply adding insects into our diet," says Dhalwala. "I have a complete yuck fear factor, too, and I thought, who better to do something with this than me? I know my food. Maybe I can figure out a way to serve healthy cricket dishes that taste great and don't offend."

At Simon Fraser University, Jeff Joy, a PhD student in the evolutionary biology of insects, responded enthusiastically to the news of insects on the menu.

"Yeah!," Joy said. "Insects are fantastic for human consumption. In a lot of the world, insects are important to diets and supply protein people otherwise wouldn't get. I can't think of any reason it would be unsafe to eat, especially if it had chocolate on it. I'm definitely going to go and try it out." He's eaten grasshoppers (chocolate-covered) and enjoyed it.

Dhalwala says 2,000 crickets would make enough paratha for 12 people. (They sell for $12 a serving.) "Crickets are so good for you," she says. "They're actually healthier for us than meat. They have three times more iron than beef, way more calcium, is low in fat and is super-low in cholesterol and aren't raised with antibiotics."
Vancouver, she says, is the only market where she'd try something as daring as insects on the menu. Husband Vikram Vij totally supports her on this, she says. "He loved it. He said as long as I do it with a lot of dignity and we don't humiliate ourselves, he's totally supportive. He's super-proud to be serving these now."
No doubt she's trying to flatter Vancouverites' sense of themselves; but on the other hand maybe this really is the only market where people can't get enough of what should be good for them.

That's one of the reasons Covenant Zone holds meetings every Thursday night, 7-9 pm, in the atrium of the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, in front of Blenz Coffee. We try to keep a conversation going where you will not be endlessly told what's good for you. We're into freedom, which means a preference for showing over telling. Join us if you can. We will be there tomorrow, I suppose, as long as we still have our feet.

Canadian Court Outrage Du Jour

Quebec's provincial license plate carries the motto, "Je Me Souviens", "I remember..." Well, today Justice Suzanne Tessier of the Superior Court of Quebec has given Canadians from coast to coast something useful to remember:
Don't try raising children in Quebec.

Justice Tessier decided that a father had no right to ground his 12-year old daughter for having disobeyed him:

The girl had taken her father to Quebec Superior Court after he refused to allow her to go on a school trip for chatting on websites he tried to block, and then posting "inappropriate" pictures of herself online using a friend's computer.
According to court documents, the girl's Internet transgression was just the latest in a string of broken house rules. Even so, Justice Suzanne Tessier found her punishment too severe.

The National Post reports the backstory that led up to the case:

The dispute between father and daughter began when he cut off her Internet access over her misuse. When she continued to find a way to use the Internet, he told his daughter she couldn't go on the three-day school trip.

The girl's mother allowed her to go on the trip, but because the school wouldn't allow the girl to go unless both parents consented, the girl, with the mother's support took legal action against her father.

According to [the father's lawyer Kim Beaudoin], the judge ruled that denying the trip was unduly severe punishment.

Has this judge thought about what happens to the family when the little girl gets back from her field trip? What if the budding teenager starts dating a boy much older than herself, and the father objects to that, as well? What can he do about it? What if the girl doesn't feel like going to school, and starts skipping class? What recourse does the father have to teach her right from wrong, as he values it...

...should he take her to court?

One place that he is not going to take her, thanks to the court ruling, is... back home:

The father, who is appealing the decision, was "devastated" by the ruling, and is refusing to take his daughter back "because he has no authority over her."

Dear Mr. Harper, when is now?

This is a few days old (h/t Catfur) but it is worth repeating; and it follows well on Dag's previous post.

George Jonas asks what it means for today's political and religious leaders to apologize for the sins of their forebears, as Stephen Harper recently did to aboriginal Canadians for the residential schools. Can an apology mean anything if it does not come from the one(s) who did the wrong? One rightly doubts if the man apologizing can't see how he is still immersed in the latest version of the sin for which he is apologizing.

It is one sign of the leftist that he keeps playing the same game that he piles abuse on his forebears for playing. For example, we get the "post-colonial" politicos treating "third-world" people as victims in need of an updated white man's burden, in response to all the racism of the past, all so the "guilty party" can remains justified in taking centre stage and not treating all people by the same standards. We get Barak Obama making a career out of promising, in effect, to keep "his" people forever mired in dependency on the welfare state.

Well is Stephen Harper also something along these lines...?
Mr. Harper’s mea culpa for the cultural arrogance of officials riding roughshod over indigenous families under the pretext of “assimilation” shows he would have made a great prime minister 50 or 75 years ago. But lavishly apologizing for past mistakes is one thing. Recognizing present ones is quite another.

A prime minister for our times would recognize that, while he’s saying sorry for residential schools, his entire country is being turned into a residential school. He’d notice the censorious state’s intrusions into contemporary life under the pretext of “public hygiene” or “human rights.” He’d apologize for the cultural arrogance of Canada’s hate- or health-police trying to tell editors what to put into their periodicals, clergymen into their sermons or parents into their mouths.

What about it, Mr. Harper? You’re Prime Minister — any interest in being a great one? Now that you’ve tackled the social engineers of yesterday, will you take on today’s [expletive deleted]?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Eugenics as a Socialist Project

The following feature from the National Post covers one of the main themes of my interests so nicely that I run it in full and hope it spreads to every mind on Earth, it being an excellent summary of eugenics and a great piece on socialists in general. Socialisst: I call them Death Hippies for a number of reasons, and this piece will shed more light on at least one reason:

Michael Coren: Don't blame right-wing thugs for eugenics — Socialists made it fashionable
Posted: June 16, 2008, 3:01 PM by Marni Soupcoff

An exhibition of the history of those scientific ideas that gave a grimy intellectual veneer to the Nazi genocide opens this week at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The collection centres on eugenics, the notion that humanity can be improved and perfected by selective breeding and the elimination of individuals and groups considered to be undesirable. Entitled Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, it reveals how it was not thoughtless right-wing thugs as much as writers and scientists, the intellectual elite, who led the movement.

The exhibit is important, accurate but, regrettably, long overdue. It also fails to stress just how much the socialist left initiated and supported the eugenics campaign, not only in Germany but in Britain, the U.S. and the rest of Europe. Playwright George Bernard Shaw, English social democrat leader Sydney Webb and, in Canada, Tommy Douglas were just three influential socialists who called, for example, for the mass sterilization of the handicapped. In his Master's thesis The Problems of the Subnormal Family, the now revered Douglas argued that the mentally and even physically disabled should be sterilized and sent to camps so as not to "infect" the rest of the population.

It is deeply significant that few if any of Douglas's left-wing comrades in this country or internationally were surprised or offended by his proposals. Indeed the early fascism of 1920s Italy, while unsavoury and dictatorial, had little connection with social engineering and eugenics. The latter German version of fascism was influenced not by ultra conservatism in southern Europe but, as is made clear in the writings of the Nazi ideologues, by the Marxist left.

The most vociferous and outspoken of the social eugenicists was the novelist HG Wells, author of The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. He argued in best-selling books such as Anticipations and A Modern Utopia that the world would collapse and from this collapse a new order should and would emerge.

"People throughout the world whose minds were adapted to the big-scale conditions of the new time. A naturally and informally organised educated class, an unprecedented sort of people." A strict social order would be formed. At the bottom of it were the base. These were "people who had given evidence of a strong anti-social disposition", including "the black, the brown, the swarthy, the yellow." Christians would also "have to go" as well as the handicapped. Wells devoted entire pamphlets to the need of "preventing the birth, preventing the procreation or preventing the existence" of the mentally and physically handicapped. "This thing, this euthanasia of the weak and the sensual is possible. I have little or no doubt that in the future it will be planned and achieved."

The people of Africa and Asia, he said, simply could never find a place in a modern world controlled by science. Better to do away with the lot. "I take it they will have to go" he said of them. Marriage as it is known would have to end but couples could form mutually agreed unions. They would list their "desires, diseases, needs" on little cards and a central authority would decide who was fitted for whom.

Population would be rigidly controlled, with forced abortion for those who were not of the right class and race. Religion would be banned, children would be raised in communes and all would be well. The old and the ill would, naturally, have to be done away with and doctors would be given the authority to decide who had a right to live, who had a duty to die.

In the United States socialist writer Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and the mother of the abortion movement, called for a radical eugenics approach as early as the first years of the 20th century. She wrote of the need for "a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is already tainted or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring. It is a vicious cycle; ignorance breeds poverty and poverty breeds ignorance. There is only one cure for both, and that is to stop breeding these things. Stop bringing to birth children whose inheritance cannot be one of health or intelligence. Stop bringing into the world children whose parents cannot provide for them. Herein lies the key of civilization."

The key of civilization. Unlocking the doors of a hell once unimaginable but now, after the Holocaust, the Ukrainian genocide, Pol Pot and Mao's mass slaughter, entirely within the grasp of contemporary sensibilities. History is often clouded by fashion and the whims of the victorious. Because some of the most pernicious intellectual criminals of the past century wore red they have escaped condemnation. It is time for the clouds to clear and the fashions to change.

— Broadcaster Coren's biography of HG Wells was described by The New Yorker as "superb" and The Times as "outstanding."

I like capitalism only because I've lived in enough socialist nightmare nations to see the true face of evil that socialism is. Socialists are Death Hippies. If ever anyone wants to make the world a better place and make people happy and whatever else socialists think they want to do, they can start by creating a business and employing people and providing something concrete and mediocre, something boring and banal and of philistine worth. Make the world a better place by creating a couple of jobs that allow people some income to buy food and pay rent and dress nicely. That's what it takes. I hate grand schemes. Everyone is crazy and fucked-up to some degree, and they get on just fine for the most part if they have some kind of decent life, the kind of life a capitalist society can and does provide. Food, shelter, clothing, and some relief from those who would save us all. Everyone else gets on fairly well, especially without being "improved" by those who would kill them for the sake of the improvement. Death to Death Hippies. Yes, God save us from those who would save us from ourselves.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Still Free in the Cowichan

I've just notice that our friend, Walker, has an opinion piece in the Cowichan Valley Citizen: Maclean's lawsuit ridiculous waste:
I find it quite disturbing that there is a government body in this country that can question and investigate anyone they please for political opinions, and that deals with things like "thought crimes."

I find it disturbing that there is a government body in this country which can put a magazine on trial for not relinquishing editorial control to anybody who doesn't like what they have published, or for hurting someone's feelings. I find it disturbing, the way that our freedoms of free speech and press are being questioned by our government. I find this whole debacle to be disturbing, and I certainly hope that the sluggish motions that have been made by the federal Conservative government in response to cries for the reform of the Human Rights Commissions will ultimately result in a better system of judgment than the kangaroo commissions that are serving us these days.
It's good to know that when we next visit the valley that is one of the most beautiful places on earth, we will still be among free people.

Thoughts on Bernie Farber and Scapegoating

NOTE: I began with the intention of writing a short post. I didn't readily find a concise way of saying what I wanted to say about scapegoating, not the easiest of topics. I'm not sure how useful will be the following mini-essay to readers; it's not the kind of thing I would normally write and publish in a day. But since it is a response to a recent article that will hopefully soon be forgotten, I will just throw it out there now for whoever can make use of it.

Blazing Cat Fur is tearing a strip off of Bernie Farber and Haroon Siddiqui, in response to the latter's latest left-Islamist alliance piece in the Toronto (red) Star.

Siddiqui writes:

One staple of anti-Semitism has been that Jews have taken over the world, or are about to. Now Muslims are being accused of the same.

That Muslims pose a dire demographic and ideological threat to the West was the hypothesis of a 4,800-word article, The Future Belongs to Islam, in Maclean's magazine in October 2006. Its reverberations are still being felt.

Last month, the Ontario Human Rights Commission called it "Islamophobic." This month, the British Columbia commission held a week-long hearing. And the federal commission is weighing a report from its investigators.
Other commentators have invoked the free-speech argument, in its various formulations – free speech is so precious that even hate speech should not be censored. Or hate speech may be curbed but only through the Criminal Code. Or hate speech is best dealt with under human rights statutes, which should be tightened to allow only "vexatious" cases, not "frivolous" ones.

But freedom of speech is not absolute. "Except for the U.S., virtually every Western democracy has laws against hate," notes Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. "Our anti-hate laws are probably the most underused."

The Supreme Court has upheld those laws. Jewish, gay and other groups have long advocated their use. Few Canadians complained. But now that Muslims are, many are.

"That's really what it's about," Farber told me. "When non-Muslims were using it, nobody really cared.

"People need scapegoats. It used to be Jews. Now it's Muslims, to a great extent. Tomorrow, it may be Bahais or somebody else ...

"People should focus on the law, not on those using it. If the complaint is frivolous, the system will deal with it."

Barbara Hall, chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, has offered a similarly clear-headed view.

Even while refusing to hear the Maclean's case – because her commission, unlike the one in B.C., does not have the jurisdiction to hear cases against the media – she used her "broader mandate to promote and advance respect for human rights" to speak out:

"Islamophobia is a form of racism ... Since September 2001, Islamophobic attitudes are becoming more prevalent and Muslims are increasingly the target of intolerance ...

"The Maclean's article, and others like it, are examples of this. By portraying Muslims as all sharing the same negative characteristics, including being a threat to `the West,' this explicit expression of Islamophobia further perpetuates and promotes prejudice toward Muslims and others."
Now, first of all, read Blazing Cat Fur's take on this column, and ask yourself, is Cat Fur "scapegoating" Farber and Siddiqui?

I raise the question in response to the cynical "race baiting" defense of the "human rights" tribunals that F & S mount: that "Jews and Gays" used the HRCs/HRTs and no one complained. But now that Muslims are using this arm of the state it seems that much of Canada is up in arms about thought policing. Thus, concludes Farber, the real target is not "human rights" law, but Muslims; people need scapegoats; and today's scapegoat is the Muslim. Formerly, people had conspiracy theories about Jews wanting to control the world; now it's more of the same thing, except it's Muslims who are playing the black-hatted role (or should I say black-sacked?).

I will try to say a bit about Farber's comments though there are limits to any engagement with people who imply that all racism is of a kind, as if the (quite different) reasons why someone might resent Jews, Muslims, or Bahais boiled down to the same immoral position, the same supreme sin of "racism". If a Jewish leader will not begin to distinguish Judeophobia as something fundamentally different from Islamophobia, he's not really thinking but has given in to the moral relativism of postmodern multiculturalism.

But I raise the question because I often accuse people of scapegoating and I don't want to be seen as the moral equivalent of Bernie Farber. Hell I'll do it again now and assert that Farber and Siddiqui are here defending a victimary politics that, in the guise of standing up for the victim, creates a positive demand and need for more victims and martyrs, a need that can only be met through scapegoating.

Farber, for example, has been such a supporter of the Canadian Human Rights Commission chasing down "neo-Nazis" on the internet that he, among others, has helped create a bureaucratic market demand that has led rogue "human rights investigators", posting on the internet under pseudonynms like "Jadewarr", to post hateful speech on web sites. This has been done to feed an unsated demand for "finding" and prosecuting "hate".

Long story short, but if the close relationship between the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Canadian Human Rights Commission is any indicator, it seems that Jews who think of themselves (not without reason) as history's victims may, in post-war Canada, be prone to getting into situations where they end up creating their own victims. Of course Bernie Farber wouldn't see it that way: how can a Marc Lemire, "Jadewarr's" most famous victim, be a "victim"? After all, Lemire is allegedly a "neo-Nazi", and hence automatically a victimizer himself, automatic in the post-Holocaust world view that has given rise to the religion of "human rights".

The most that Farber will indirectly admit in relation to any wrongdoing at the CJC is that we all need scapegoats, and hence there's a need for a legal process to judge which ones are real and which not. But if we begin with the vague moral equivalence that accuses everyone of the universal human sin of scapegoating, can we then develop any kind of legal process that can make disinterested judgment on who is a genuine scapegoat and who is a vile scapegoater? How are we to find judges who are not themselves blinded by the sins of scapegoating?

In matters intellectual, the last refuge of those who would escape a difficult reality that makes hard demands for empirical distinctions, alongside respect for the rule of law, is moral relativism. The ultimate goal of moral relativism is to avoid real judgments (judicial or intellectual) that can help us mediate our differences by forcing us to recognize ethical differences, or more and less successful forms of human society. Relativism is tied to an impossible Utopian desire that would prompt us to just give up fighting with each other. It's the attempt to convince us to walk away from fights under the suasion of someone saying, "yeah, well, you're a victimizer/victim, too", as if we're all equally bad and equally good and we should just be humbled by such a claim and crawl back to the wise mommy state that knows how to treat everyone equally like children expect to be treated by moms.

When Bernie Farber, who has had a good run representing the Canadian Jewish Congress - taking a lead among NGOs in communicating with and influencing the "human rights" agents of the Canadian state, helping ensure that the Marc Lemires of the world get punished for promoting certain resentments - starts to see his own organizations' actions becoming targeted for criticism, what does he do? Does he openly debate those making rational claims that more harm inevitably comes from the restrictive and somewhat arbitrary or politicized means necessary to police "hate" than does any possible good? No, instead of seriously exploring if there are any possible methods of restricting speech that would not inevitably compromise his "noble" Utopian end of ending "hate", it seems to me that the Utopian dream rules and Bernie can only offer false moral equivalences by way of defending it.

I think it outrageous that a leader of a Canadian Jewish organization claims that because there has been widespread criticism of Muslims using "human rights" legislation to prosecute "hate speech", this is a sign many Canadians have fallen for a resentful delusion equivalent to claiming that Jews are trying to rule the world. First of all, it ignores what those Muslims presently advancing "human rights" cases are trying to do. It is to make a claim of Islamophobia even while apparently dismissing as frivolous the likes of Syed Soharwardy who attempts to impose Sharia values through the backdoor of "hate speech" legislation, in response to the re-publication of cartoons that Imam Soharwardy considers blasphemous. Farber's disingenuous argument points to the problem that ultimately neither Farber, nor any possible judge, could be sure where to draw the line in acknowledging what is a legitimate target when it comes to Muslims or Islam, and what not? Is the Soharwardy complaint frivolous or a sign of our Islamophobia?

Second, while I wouldn't try to use the state to shut up the Judeophobic conpsiracy nuts, I'm still offended by Farber's attempt to make Judeophobia and Islamophobia equivalent. Has Farber no respect for what many Muslims actually believe about the purpose and destiny of their religion to convert and/or conquer the kaffir world?

If I said "Christians want to conquer the world for their religion and idea of God" I hope that wouldn't be considered hate speech, since Christianity is on a mission to spread the Gospel. So why would Farber imply it is hate speech, Islamophobia, to allege that Muslims want Islam to rule the world? Maybe it's because there is something about the reality of Islam he doesn't want to address, preferring simply to believe that Canadian Muslims only want to maintain their religion as a private concern with no claim on the state or global politics. That is no doubt true for some Canadian Muslims, but for how many, or how few, no one really knows (something we will never know until we have a more free-wheeling speech environment, one in which both Muslims and non-Muslims can feel much safer in expressing their thoughts and living with the feedback). From lack of knowing, many non-Muslims are understandably scared by the rise of Islamist preaching, and fundamentalist or orthodox interpretations of the Koran and Hadith. In many parts of the world, the preaching of Islam presently goes in hand with a pervasive and prominent Judeophobia, something there are more than a few signs of in Canada.

On the other hand, Farber surely knows enough about Judaism to see that is has not been a proselytizing religion for millennia, and that it presently claims only a tiny parcel of land for a Jewish state. And Farber surely knows something about the difficult history of Jews under Islam, the growth of the latter having been great and now dominant over a very large swathe of geography.

Thus, for Farber to claim that someone making resentful claims about Islamic imperialism is the moral equivalent of those who see a Jewish conspiracy in the "invisible hand" of the free marketplace, all kinds of empirical realities and distinctions have to be ignored. Whatever the relative success of Jews in the global free market, only the deluded think this is a market that anyone controls. However, those who fear Islamic expansion fear a political, not simply religious, movement that is today in large part openly premised on opposition to the global free market. This opposition clearly exists, even if its preferred alternative to free market modernity is some vague ideology about a renewed Caliphate. This vagueness, which suggests an unwillingness to come to terms with modernity, is surely something to be feared. It is lunacy for a Jewish leader to paper over such fundamental distinctions in our "phobias", in deference to a vaguely leftist Utopianism.

How can such lunacy have come about, for surely Farber and his friends at the CJC do not see themselves as lunatic, as a threat to the rather free people they pretend to defend from too much freedom? One way to an answer lies, I would suggest, in understanding Farber's claim that all people need scapegoats, as if we were all equally immersed in the same original human sin.

In a world where religions, tribes, nations, and sundry other identity groups are in conflict, it is tempting to seek peace by saying we're all equally bad/good. And the fact of the matter is that we all do indeed tend to bond ourselves with like people against some other or Other.

However, I would not have taken the blogging name of "truepeers" if I thought it weren't essential to learn how some forms of bonding and conflict are more productive than others. We often oppose a person or group in an attempt to develop a new relationship of reciprocity with our other, a relationship we trust will develop as long as we are both committed and able to speak our minds in search of some common ground. Often it is by recognizing a rival, and fighting with him, that we begin to develop, through the revelations that come with open conflict, an understanding of the shape of the peace pact that can transcend our differences.

But the creative possibilities of conflict may be lost to those who are so apt to call each other out for "scapegoating". Why are we so keen to accuse the other of scapegoating?

We live among the fruits of a Judeo-Christian history that has always had as a central concern a critique of social reliance on irrational forms of sacrificial violence, or idolatry. From the story of Abraham that signified an end to child sacrifice, to that of Jesus which put into question the dictum that it is good for a single man to die for the peace of the entire community, and beyond into secular history with its lessons on such matters as modern genocide, there has been a concern to overcome forms of society seeking order through human sacrifice.

In the classical Christian view, the scapegoaters must be forgiven for "they do not know what they do". In other words, people can be so immersed in the social need to bond together around/against a shared victim that they are not conscious of and critical of their need for a scapegoat. They might even create "kangaroo courts" where the need for a victim outweighs the rule of law and the accused is condemned by unfair and arbitrary measures.

The problem is that in the postmodern age, far too many people are keen to develop our many historical revelations of the human dependence on scapegoating into some kind of universal law of scapegoating whose truth can be detached from a due consideration of what makes each situation somewhat different ethically. There are, for example, theories of language that hold that all successful representation entails a form of othering, or scapegoating, that the successful representation is a form of superstition in the service of the power that constructs itself in the very act of representation. The postmodernist holds that all cultural "constructions" work to marginalize someone. Thus the very nature of our language-bound humanity requires the constant vigilance of those sensitive to our universal tendency to victimize or scapegoat the other. The victimary religion of "human rights" policing is thus born.

Such theories drive people towards forms of nihilism and moral relativism in which it is easy to make mindless statements of moral equivalence, like "all humans (equally) need scapegoats", or "one conspiracy theory is as bad as another."

These theories are popular because of a lack of alternative anthropologies that might explain how the act of representation is not fundamentally an act of violence or power grabbing, but rather an act that works to defer violence.

Long story short, the discipline of Generative Anthropology, to which the present argument is indebted, has developed to rectify the anthropological bad faith of postmodern nihilism and moral relativism, the bad faith that would reduce all culture to someone's scapegoating and "will to power". But GA has as yet not had the impact it will one day have in teaching us again to value the productivity (more or less) of all language in deferring violence.

All representations create the possibility of developing new and ethical forms of reciprocity and social organization modeled on the exchange of the representations in question. But not every representation will work equally well in bringing people into its orbit, not every representation will go far towards maximizing reciprocity. Thus, not every form of culture is in this pragmatic sense equal. In today's world a Michael Jackson likely does more than Mozart to mediate our passions and to bring people into various forms of exchange. I don't know for sure; it is ultimately an empirical question, one that is not served by cynical know-it-alls who would tell us that all music constructs both a privileged audience and those who don't share in the communion of the performance, cynics who assert that any claim for a "higher", "better", more popular, or more successful culture is nothing but a move in a power game.

But Michael, Mozart, and their followers, are not simply two (im)morally equivalent camps making claims on cultural power. This is because all forms of culture, even violent representations, do something in the way of both creating and deferring potentially violent desires. All forms of culture are more or less successful, in different social milieux, at keeping the peace. It is up to those actively pursuing their stakes on the many shared human scenes to judge what works best, on any specific scene, to bring people into greater forms of exchange. Sometimes calling someone a nasty name is not the last word before a fight but the first step to an exchange that avoids a fight.

But stakeholders on the many humans scenes can't work effectively if we live in a world of censors out to prejudge such matters on the basis of their own preconceptions of what can and cannot work, of what is "likely to expose some group to contempt or hate". One cannot know for sure whether someone who makes cartoons of Mohammed is likely to pressure/humour Muslims into a kind of tolerance and openness that is conducive to life in the global village where we need continually find new ways to relate to each other, or whether it will bring on an uncontrolled and unproductive rage. But if we are able to defend the freedom to offend, if we can do it and not get killed, then in using our shared freedom we will learn much more about each other and thus lay the ground for making each other more accountable and productive in language than in arms. If, on the other hand, we give in to fears and start drawing lines around what can and cannot be said or represented, then we close doors to future possibilities without which we may not be able to renew and further bases for human reciprocity. Creative renewal can only come when conflict is admitted and worked through. To try and avoid the risk that goes with attempts at renewal is sooner or later deadly, since the inevitable force of human resentment is presently eroding the existing bases for human reciprocity.

When it comes to using the word "scapegoating," it is not enough to show that every act of representation creates a centre and a periphery, if our goal is to then "deconstruct" each and every centre in the name of revealing the centre's inevitable peripheral victims. Postmodern "deconstruction" in the name of the victim misunderstands the whole business, the goodness, of representation. What needs to be considered is that any given periphery sustains a productive trade in tokens of the sacred centre. When we put a holy book, or a Nike shoe, at the centre of attention, each will do something, in different ways, to allow for a peripheral exchange that mediates our differences and expands freedom, and this exchange is not some conspiracy of the powerful against the oppressed.

While it is true that we are often lacking in human reciprocity and that some people are not sufficiently included in our networks of exchange, this is not the fault of evil forms of representation (evil being essentially a violence against representations or people), but rather of the lack of sufficient means to represent our differences in productive ways. Generally speaking, the more centres of attention, the more forms of exchange, the better we will be. Maximizing freedom of expression is an essential part of this.

I hope that we will become committed to an understanding of human freedom that will encourage us to give up postmodern victim games and return to an ethic that privileges empirical observation and rigorous distinctions about the forms of culture that are more or less capable of deferring violence by engaging people in exchange of our differences. A "human rights" tribunal could be justified if it really had the effect of mediating our resentments in such a way that it brought members of society closer and more willing to engage each other. Alternatively, if centralized show trials and attempts to shut people up have the effect of exacerbating resentments, of doing evil, as they seem to have done of late in Canada, people should take a hard look at getting rid of them.

It is noteworthy that the likes of Bernie Farber and Haroon Siddiqui cannot even begin to address such questions. They remain trapped in the postmodern dead end that sees our many representations of difference as suspect, hoping against reason that the solution to our many problems lies with sufficient worship of the mommy state and its attempt to smother differences in some big group hug open to all. But productive exchange requires acknowledgment and articulation of conflict, not group hugs.