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Why Quebec is banning the burka

Whether they admit it or not, virtually all Westerners hate the niqab and burka for the anti-democratic ideology and misogynistic gender relations they signify. Many are increasingly willing to say so.

Why does political correctness fall away when it comes to the niqab? Because other Islamist inroads, like shariah banking, happen offstage, so to speak. They are not “seen” by the public. But the niqab is open to the collective public gaze. Individuals responding to their own discomfort observe that discomfort mirrored in other people’s faces, which in turn emboldens them to protest. Politicians know grassroots support when they see it and several Western leaders have seized the moment for legislating partial or full niqab bans.

Parallel to the parliamentary efforts now advancing in France and Belgium, Quebec recently tabled a new law, Bill 94, which will ban the niqab—or any face cover—when extending and receiving public services in such institutions as courts, hospitals, schools and licensing bureaus.

It is no accident that Quebec is leading the way in North America on this file. Quebec, apart from multicultural Montreal and its diffuse northern native populations, is the last bastion of ethnic homogeneity on the continent (with a not-unrelated tendency amongst ethnic Quebecois to politically incorrect candour), a province where obsession with cultural preservation drives the political agenda.

Since the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, cultural preservation has become synonymous with the linguistic hegemony of French. But Catholicism, however vestigial in terms of practice and influence, still rallies the loyalty of Quebecois in the face of perceived challenges to their cultural security.

Because the controlling hand of the Catholic Church fell particularly heavily on women in the past, Quebec is also the most militantly feminist of Canadian provinces. Female politicians exert a powerful influence over all social and cultural policies and disbursements here. The galling sight of veiled, depersonalized women in this women’s rights stronghold arouses far more animus than any multiculturalist ideal can counter.

The decisive move, approved of by 95% of Quebecers (a rare moment of political accord uniting federalists and nationalists) and 75% of all Canadians, followed a cultural tipping point, arrived at in November 2009, when a niqab-clad Egyptian woman, Naema Ahmed, was expelled from a government-run French class. This was done for pedagogical reasons, not religious ones; hostile to suggested compromises in advancing phonological competencies for which the teacher’s direct observation of her mouth is crucial, she exhausted the administration’s patience. Notable in her case, however, is the fact that the school felt so hamstrung by political correctness and dithered so long, the government stepped in to order the expulsion.

Ahmed’s indifference to the sensibilities of her classmates and her general belligerence were helpful in reinforcing the public’s impression that she was making a political rather than a religious statement. That she later tried to re-enroll, still veiled, in another French course—unsuccessfully—and promptly filed a complaint with a human rights commission gives the whole caper the earmarks of an Islamist shot across the bow.

Ahmed’s rebarbative attitude happily precluded the kind of public sympathy elicited by another Montreal case in which a veiled Indian Muslim woman, “Aisha,” was removed from a French course. Aisha tried to co-operate and was heartbroken, not angry, when expelled. Her story served to make a reasonable law seem draconian to sentimentalism-driven commentators.

Quebec has been poised for some time to draw a line in the unstable sands of “reasonable accommodation.” Justifying the Ahmed expulsion, Quebec Immigration Minister Yolande James was forthright in making it plain that “if you want to integrate into Quebec society, here are our values. We want to see your face.”

The road to Bill 94 can be said to begin in Herouxville, a tiny rural hamlet of 1,300 souls, with nary a niqab in sight or likely to be. In January 2007, following a number of controversial cases involving the reasonable accommodation of religious sensibilities in Montreal, one of Herouxville’s outspoken councillors, Andre Drouin, published a “code of conduct” for immigrants including bans on the stoning of women and female circumcision, while privileging in public institutions the Christian symbols that are familiar to the 95% of Quebecers who identify themselves as Catholics. The retired engineer was pilloried as a racist at the time, but today he feels vindicated by Bill 94. The manifesto served to reveal the fault lines between elite theorists and the population, as well as to kindle passionate debate on the limits of reasonable accommodation.

Embarrassed by the worldwide attention the manifesto received, with its attendant images of Quebec as a redneck backwater, Premier Jean Charest instituted the costly ($7-million) year-long Bouchard-Taylor Commission in February 2007, its mandate to investigate and make recommendations on the treatment of religious minorities in Quebec. The expressed goal was to avoid Frenchstyle minority ghettoization and encourage integration.

The commission, headed by earnestly paternalistic academic multiculturalists who were totally out of sync with the mood of the population and visibly affronted during public hearings by outspoken expressions of resentment against religious minorities—chiefly Hasidim and Muslims—arrived at their foreordained conclusion that Quebec culture was not threatened by minorities and that their pet concept, “interculturalism,” which maximizes tolerance for individual choices, deserved further study. The public was not buying any of it.

Is Quebec racist? Polls indicate Quebecers admit to racist attitudes disproportionately to other Canadians, but there is no hate crime evidence to suggest heritage Quebecois are more racist in practice than other provinces. Is Quebec xenophobic? Yes, somewhat, although it is a mild version that asserts itself in grumbling, not in organized vituperation, vandalism or violence.

Quebec is a distinct society, culturally isolated in North America and understandably defensive around realistic threats of cultural dilution. Elevated xenophobia relative to other provinces has not, however, made inroads on Quebec’s record as a peaceful, democratic and behaviorally tolerant society.

Xenophobia is reflexively condemned as a cultural sin amongst our intellectual bien-pensants. But what if another cultural group really is out to dominate your own group? In that case, benign xenophobia—the kind that aligned with feminism to produce Quebec’s Bill 94—is what one might call an atout, a trump card in the grim cultural war games to which all democratic societies have been co-opted, where victories that do no harm to democracy, like the niqab ban, are few and should be regarded as precious.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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I distrust Obama—but that doesn’t make me paranoid

Like many Canadians, I find American politics have a more compelling claim on my attention than my own country’s. The existential stakes are higher, the issues more fiercely debated, the passions more intense.

George W. Bush’s hotly contested victory over Al Gore in 2000 brought the U.S. to an unprecedented pitch of divisiveness. Concluding Bush had “stolen” the presidency, liberals considered him an illegitimate leader. Grievance over the presumed injustice soon morphed into hatred and then demonization of the man himself.

Having supported Bush’s grand themes—American exceptionalism, the War on Terror, liberating Iraq, the special America-Israel relationship—and not being shy about defending them, I encountered Bush Derangement Syndrome on countless bruising occasions over the eight years he held office. I can attest that those suffering from the syndrome resemble conspiracy theorists: They are irrational, single-minded, impervious to epistemic evidence and dispiriting proof of how easily reason is trumped by scapegoating emotion.

In a weirdly symmetrical reprisal, hatred of Barack Obama has sparked a similar delegitimizing campaign amongst a swath of angry American conservatives: For lack of anything so tangible as a court decision to wrangle over, as in the Bush campaign, the Obama delegitimizers settled on an unsustainable challenge to Obama’s constitutional right to govern. The “Birther” movement was analyzed in Jonathan Kay’s column last week ( “Cult of the false prophet”) in an excerpt from his forthcoming book on conspiracy theories, Amongst the Truthers.

The Tea Party, the Birthers’ natural home, harbours some outlandish elements, notably a significant number of evangelical Christians with apocalyptic biblical views of Obama as a literal “false prophet.” That was the aspect Kay’s column emphasized.

Countering that optic, a recent CBS/ New York Times poll has revealed that the Tea Party consists of better educated and more affluent Americans than average, 57% of whom support gay marriage or civil unions and 65% of whom believe in legal access to abortion. A majority consider social security and Medicare justifiable tax burdens and—surprise!—a majority don’t believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be president.

Still, while they’re not, on the whole, the right-wing “crazies” of liberals’ imagination, the Birthers are certainly somewhat deranged. They have transmuted their alienation from Obama’s multiculturalism and postmodern detachment into the futile illusion that he is literally an “alien”—that is, born elsewhere.

Obama conspiracists and Bush Derangement syndromists are both “illegitimatists,” partners in the same civic crime of stifling respectful, evidence-based debate.

Illegitimatists’ resistance to rational exchange is totalitarian. When I reasonably supported Bush’s anti-terror clarity, I inflamed my liberal interlocutors: Rather than argue that discrete topic, they subjected me to a long, spittle-flecked litany of Bush’s holistic wickedness. Since he was illegitimate, he could never be right about anything.

Which is why I’m now wary and defensive about criticizing Obama, “the One.” His protectors have both the handy sticks of “racist” and “conspiracy theorist” to beat me with.

I am neither. I hold rationally negative views on Obama. There never was a moment when I did trust Barack Obama or any of his soaring flights of hope-and-change librettos. I couldn’t believe that Americans needed moral redemption for their racist past so badly they would actually elect as president a self-obsessed black man of, to be sure, physical elegance and a flare for stirring, if insubstantial, rhetoric, but: no executive or military experience; no discernible governing convictions; virtually no voting record; a near-complete ignorance of world history, especially in the Middle East, where it counts the most; a childish belief in utopian pacifism; a blind eye for the soft (and hard) jihad; reflexive high-handedness with democratic allies like Israel and Britain, unseemly deference to declared enemies like Iran; and a persona so highly constructed, with important parts of his past—notably his university records—so tightly battened down, nobody knows who he really is.

I understand the temptation leading the Birthers to believe that a man with a heart so lightly bound to the country that handed him the glittering prize is also lightly bound to it in his literal provenance. We must reject all conspiracy theories, but I am sympathetic to the anguish that fuelled this particular one.

Obama is a legitimate president, as was Bush. But with Bush I felt there was hope for Western civilization. With Obama, on the evidence so far, I feel a visceral sense of dread for what lies ahead. There’s nothing illegitimate about that.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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The cult of multisexualism: It’s not all good

Sex education in the schools isn’t new. As John Moore pointed out in his Post column yesterday (“Hide your kids. The liberals are coming”), Ontario’s more graphic additions, hastily rescinded to accommodate Christian and Muslim critics, were mere “tweakings” to a well-entrenched model.

Taken for granted in Moore’s column was the notion that early sex education — tweaked or untweaked — was a good idea to begin with.

Unless countered by vigorous instruction at home, no children in the last several decades have left school believing their sexuality has a higher purpose than giving them bodily pleasure. From adolescence they have been encouraged by sex educators — no, pressured — to maximize sexual pleasure (but with condoms!), and made to feel abnormal if they prefer chastity to sex without love or commitment. What’s so good about that?

John Moore scoffs at the idea that sex ed programs are designed by “activists,” but that’s only because he likes what they’re teaching. If he didn’t, he too would call them activists. Sex educators are pushing an ideology that is to sex what multiculturalism is to race. In fact what sex education in the schools promotes should be called multisexualism.

Multiculturalism teaches that all cultures and religions are equally worthy of respect except Christianity and whiteness. Multisexualism teaches that all sexual behaviours and lifestyles are of equal social worth, except those that refuse to detach morality from sexuality.

The multisexualist attitude is epitomized in the person of Dr. Brock Chisholm, a Canadian soldier and psychiatrist, who became the first director of the World Health Organization in 1946. A pioneering advocate for sex education in the schools, Chisholm thought that the greatest obstacle to children’s self-realization was the concept of “right and wrong.” From his perspective, sex education was necessary to overcome “the ways of elders — by force if necessary.” There’s a political name for that. Begins with T.

Human beings are the only creatures for whom shame, guilt and modesty (especially in girls) are instinctive. We are also the only creatures who assign certain behaviours to the realm of the private, and certain to the realm of the public.

Schools are by nature an artificial construct. They were designed to transmit objective knowledge about subjects that are amenable to collective learning: literacy, numeracy, history, scientific data and the arts.

Sexuality is different. When children of both sexes absorb information from a relative stranger about deeply private feelings and behaviours in a group environment — when the private is made public — they are being co-opted into a rudimentary form of collective voyeurism, which, even when earnestly accompanied by exhortations to responsibility (condoms!), is inherently titillating and a licence to breach natural modesty boundaries.

In her 1999 book, A Return to Modesty, Wendy Shalit recalls the results of sex education in her Grade 4 class, from which her mother asked she be excluded after the teacher insisted on explaining to the class what “69” meant. Shalit says she was very happy to read in the library to escape the mortification she felt during such discussions, but noted that in the locker room after every sex ed class, the boys would unmercifully tease the girls with the knowledge they had picked up. “ ‘Erica, do you masturbate’? one boy would say to one poor pigtailed victim … ‘It’s really natural, you know.’ ” What is instructive in the anecdote is that the boys never teased Shalit because she was presumed to be ignorant. Mystery between the sexes at that age facilitates the protective modesty and privacy nature intended.

If multisexualism was such a great idea, we should know it by its outcomes. Adults who’ve been through the multisexualist mill should be sexually happier, more well-adjusted, more fulfilled than the adults of my generation who learned only the basic mechanics of human reproduction in “hygiene” class (in single-sex groups). But although obsessed with voyeuristic sexual entertainment (sex ed, j’accuse), young adults today don’t seem any happier than those practising “family values.”

Strangely enough, it was the very same people that were not exposed to multisexualism who agreed as adults decades ago that the state had no business in the bedrooms of the nations. So the very lifestyles multisexualists are at such pains to glorify in the classroom today came about through the efforts of those who were not exposed to sexual education as we know it. Children need to learn to treat everyone with respect in word and behaviour in general. The state should have no place in the early, and unnatural, sexualization of children.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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Every week is Sex Week

Yale University is arguably the most prestigious institution of higher learning in the United States, counting amongst its distinguished alumni five presidents and 19 Supreme Court justices, not to mention America’s most influential public intellectual, William F. Buckley, avatar of the conservative revival that shaped American politics for decades.

Yale has its pick of the youthful crop. So recurrent campus events that have the enthusiastic support of a critical mass of Yalies provide a window into the minds of the country’s future cultural and political elites.

Founded in 2002, and since then an increasingly successful biennial celebration, Sex Week at Yale this year featured 34 events, including presentations on kinks and fetishisms, an instructional seminar on masturbation and two presentations defending non-monogamous sexual relationships. The program was written up in the April 5 edition of National Review by former Yalie Nathan Harden (Buckley fans will love the title: “Bawd and Man at Yale”).

If there is an overarching theme to Sex Week, it might be that “nothing is forbidden.” Implied subthemes are:

– any student without sex on the brain 24/7 is pretty hopeless; and

– all sexual activities are ethically equal; their worth is proportionate to the intensity of physical pleasure they deliver.

A third of the 34 events were hosted by porn industry stakeholders. In 2008, one film’s graphic violence against women so unnerved organizers they stopped it mid-reel. They seem to have recovered: This year a porn actress specializing in sadomasochism showed a film in which she is bound and flogged (real welts appear), while her whipper taunts her with obscenities. Then the porn actress called for a female volunteer from the Sex Week audience, on whose inner thigh a male volunteer attached a string of clothespins ( “Put it on with an intention,” the actress instructed when he shrank from inflicting a cruel enough grip to cause pain).

The students making up the “rapt audience” for this display are unusually intelligent, mostly advantaged young people brought up in the most liberated sexual era of human history. They have been free from adolescence to engage in any and all sexual activity without guilt or—if they are prudent—fear of encumbering responsibilities or disease. Furthermore, these students all have access to porn and sex toys; they need no instruction in masturbation; they are but a short train ride away from a plethora of New York fleshpots. The Internet offers every conceivable attraction for private titillation. No student is prohibited from finding his or her bliss on or off campus. So why the need for a campus Sex Week?

Week-long campus festivals take enormous amounts of time and energy to organize. It makes sense to expend both on cultural or academic assemblies—fields by nature dependent on communal participation—but it makes no sense to organize a “conference” to facilitate group voyeurism into behaviours universally regarded as private.

Unless the purpose of the event is evangelical paganism. The hallmark of paganism is the repression of reason and the inflammation of sensation. Collective voyeurism serves to arouse even the most jaded sexual appetite, as well as cutting off any retreat into private moral judgmentalism. Once one has participated in group OrgyThink, one has lost one’s sexual honour and cannot easily regain it.

Sex Week, therefore, strikes me as nothing more than a forum conceived to proselytize the student body on the cultural virtue of dumbing deviancy down, and to shame students who adhere to traditional moral standards of reasonable restraints on sexual gratification. As Harden was told by one female observer, “It’s not Sex Week, it’s Have Sex Week.”

While the sadomasochism marketer was attaching pinching devices to her breasts, another presentation was in progress next door. A speaker invited by Yale’s Anscombe Society, a small campus group devoted to the cause of premarital abstinence, was explaining that the sexual revolution made “consent” the only moral test of a sexual relationship, ignoring the idea that “some sexual acts are incompatible with human dignity.” He asked the audience, “Can we move from saying what is permissible to asking what is right and what is good?”

Attendance at “Babeland’s Lip Tricks,” in which a New York stripper demonstrated oral sex techniques with rubber props for 90 minutes: 2,000 (more than a third of the undergraduate body). Attendance at the lecture advocating sexual restraint: 14. Yale’s motto: Lux et veritas (light and truth). Privilege of attending Yale in 2010: not quite as priceless as it used to be.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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Male Studies: A proposed curriculum

The 93rd anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge, considered one of Canada’s defining moments as a young nation, was commemorated at the National War Memorial last Friday.

The Queen issued a statement honouring the memory of a “truly remarkable generation.” The Prime Minister hailed Canada’s “fierce warriors … rock-ribb’ed patriots.” The G-G spoke to the 8,000 attendees of a war “in which an entire generation of young people courageously braved gunfire.”

But of course, it was not “young people” who “braved gunfire,” it was young men.

You’ll see the same tendency in reports of coal mine disasters: “Miners” are trapped, “rescuers” race against time, “families” await word. If you didn’t know better, you’d think miners, rescuers and families were a mixed bag of men and women, when in fact the first two—the ones taking the risks and facing the terror—are almost invariably men, while only the third—anguishing, but alive and well—are women and children.

And yet, consider: Reportage around the Montreal Massacre did not speak of “engineering students”—the focus was entirely on the women as women. Men are what they do, women are who they are.

I can see “Gendered Disparities in Media Discourse” as precisely the kind of subject that is likely to be studied in the discipline of Male Studies, a historical first, launched this week at Wagner College, Staten Island, N.Y.

Interest in creating a program in Male Studies may have been spurred by weariness with feminism’s misandric myths. But its subject matter, one hopes, will unfold organically along rigorous scholarly lines. Perhaps it will venture into the three “Ps” of normative masculinity: man as progenitor, protector and provider—and what happens to cultures that assign a low value to these roles. I would urge Male Studies specialists to go where the evidence leads—into areas such as intimate partner violence.

As it happens, the inauguration of the Male Studies program coincides with the 98th anniversary—April 15—of the sinking of the Titanic. As another putative course, “The Titanic and Male Honour Codes in Western Civilization” would open up a fascinating discussion on values around the perceived worth of men’s lives and women’s lives.

As most people know, when the Titanic sank, 75% of women and almost all the children were saved as against 20% of the men. That husbands and fathers should privilege their families’ lives is taken for granted in the West. That the male crew went stoically to their deaths for strangers, simply because of their sex, is an extraordinary idea when you think of it.

That is the irony at the heart of the Titanic story. These heroes had been brought up in the very heart of the same robust, supposedly misogynistic patriarchy that feminists today use as a bogeyman to frighten young girls with. I think we should welcome the prospect of an academic program that will analyze the patriarchy in the more complex and objective light it deserves.

Canada has a special relationship with the Titanic. Of the 1,522 lives lost, 209 bodies were transported to Halifax. Three city cemeteries there contain the graves of 150 victims.

Our nation is full of memorials, via the Montreal Massacre, attesting to the suffering and death of women linked to men’s lower nature. Tutorial question: Would it be a fine thing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Titanic in 2012, with a memorial in Halifax attesting to the rescue and survival of women and children linked to men’s heroism? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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It’s not easy being white

Remember the old Kermit the Frog complaint, “It’s not that easy bein’ green”? It’s from a ditty about diversity, in which Kermit proceeds from self-doubt over the limitations of being green to the conclusion there’s value in all colours and nothing gained brooding over identity: “I am green and it’ll do fine…I think it’s what I want to be.”

But what if bullies had convinced everyone on Sesame Street that being green made you wicked? It would avail Kermit naught that green can be “big like an ocean, or important like a mountain” when set against greenness as the root cause of all other-coloured muppets’ grievances.

In the human world, it’s being white that’s not that easy. In Saturday’s Post Jonathan Kay recounted learning in an anti-racism workshop that whiteness is a kind of original sin, and Canada is “a white supremacist country.”

Before 9/11, white self-hatred mostly focused on whites’ well-documented historical racism against blacks. Since 9/11 it’s more about whites’ alleged but unsubstantiated anti-Muslim bias. Between demands for entitlements by self-appointed Muslim spokespeople, and uncritical Islamophilia amongst liberal elites, we’ve internalized the dictum that whites are anti-Muslim unless proven otherwise, and Muslims are victims even when proven otherwise.

“White privilege” is the villain in the recently published Ontario section of the Canadian Federation of Students’ Task Force on Racism report, denounced by Robert Fulford in Saturday’s Post for its self-serving agenda. Committed to finding anti-Muslim bigotry on Ontario’s campuses, they eschewed the pesky grind of actual “methodology.” Self-selecting Muslim students were encouraged to recite personal narratives of supposed racism, unsupported by any proof.

In one such tale from the University of Toronto, a Muslim and his dormitory mate, a male of white privilege (MOWP), came to blows over the MOWP’s pique at being prematurely awoken every day during the month-long fast of Ramadan by the Muslim’s noisy pre-sunrise breakfast preparations.

“When tensions boiled over,” a thestar.comsummary reports, “the Muslim student threw the first punch” at the MOWP, for which the Muslim student was expelled from the dorm.

Unfair, according to a member of the task force: “With some sensitivity training to the broader issue, that incident might have been better handled.” Sensitivitytraining? Forwhom? Apparently not for the discourteous Muslim, since the “broader issue” had already been pre-judged as Islamophobia.

Coerced sensitivity training sessions are rituals of public humiliation for political ends. But since anti-racism activists are so enamoured of them, a question: Has any Canadian Muslim ever undergone sensitivity training?

Jewish and Christian organizations respond to perceived insults to their communities via testy media releases or complaints to institutions. But in spite of frequently high provocation, I can’t remember a case where a Muslim was pressured into taking a sensitivity session on Judaism or Christianity. By contrast, in 2005 senior CIBC economist Jeffrey Rubin was hustled into sensitivity training on Islam nanoseconds after CAIR-Can expressed umbrage at Rubin’s statement in a report that “mullahs” and “sheikhs” control the oil flow in the Middle East. The trivial “offence,” and the decision to appease, showed us that whites may be made to see the world through Muslim eyes at the pleasure of any unamused Muslim “leader,” but not the other way around.

Last Friday outside Toronto’s Palestine House, a Jewish group protested the approaching speaking engagement of rabid anti-Zionist Abd al-Bari Atwan ( “If the Iranian missiles strike Israel -by Allah, I will…dance with delight…”). At the protest, one Muslim was captured on video saying, “We need another Holocaust.” Others were heard yelling, “We love jihad! We love killing you! We love it!” Here are prime candidates for sensitivity training, but that won’t happen.

The browbeating of casually prejudiced MOWPS amounts to meaningless busywork for the self-righteous anti-racism racket, an excuse to avoid acknowledging the truly malignant racism of a small cadre of radicalized Muslims.

And so, class, what have we learned today in our insensitivity training session? For muppets it’s not that easy bein’ green, for MOWPS it’s not that easy bein’ white, for Muslims it’s not that easy bein’ dissed and for anti-racists it’s not that easy bein’ honest.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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The human cuckoos

The cuckoo is a disagreeable bird, distinguished by the monotony of its frequent calls—hence its association with clocks—and its parasitism: The slyly opportunistic cuckoo lays its eggs in other birds’ nests; then the unwitting host raises the chicks as its own. Strangely, when applied to people, cuckoo means crazy. Hmm. Although unethical and irresponsible, the cuckoo bird is anything but crazy in getting what it wants without trouble to itself, but at considerable cost to others.

Consider, for example, the human cuckoos, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). For the past three years, exploiting resources and an audience they have no legitimate claim to, QuAIA and Dykes Against Israeli Apartheid (DAIA) have been “laying their eggs”—marching and monotonously messaging their loathing for Israel to throngs of gay-supportive spectators—in the “nest” of Pride Toronto.

Seeing is believing. Lawyer Martin Gladstone filmed QuAIA 2009 in action to produce a short, damning documentary called Reclaiming our Pride. In it the hatred on the faces of many QuAIA and DAIA marchers is palpable. One sees swastikas on T-shirts characterizing Israel as a Nazi state, and hears menacing chants like “Fist by fist, blow by blow, apartheid state has got to go.” The film offers persuasive evidence that QuAIA aren’t ordinary political protesters with specific grievances, but Israel exceptionalists, gripped by an irrational obsession with the Jewish state’s allegedly fathomless evils, while utterly oblivious to horrific human rights abuses elsewhere.

Over a million people from Canada and abroad took part in Pride Week 2009. Pride creates $100-million in direct economic impact, supports 650 jobs and brings the Ontario government $18-million in tax revenue. In 2014 the World Pride Congress is coming to Toronto. The economic and civic stakes around such a huge event are high.

Pride has traditionally been a boisterous but peaceful event. Yet ominously, in 2009 policing was tripled, in large part a response to crowd volatility provoked by anti-Israel activism. If the parade continues to evolve as a tension-filled, divisive forum where one minority feels singled out for guilt by association, Pride’s reputation will suffer, with material losses to the city.

It’s no good pretending the vicious anti-Zionism of the apartheid crowd is free of anti-Semitism. Many Jews do feel threatened by it, and rightly so. Some will no longer attend the parade out of discomfort. Typically of others I interviewed, lesbian Denise Alexander told me that the 2009 parade was “the first time I’ve ever felt unsafe as a Jew in Toronto.” It wasn’t only the words, “Down with Israel” or “The end of Israel”: “It’s the tone … and the veins sticking out in their necks, like in Nazi Germany.”

The Pride organizing committee is a “host bird” for the QuAIA cuckoo, but not an “unwitting” one. The “terms and conditions of participation” last year proscribed “images or messages that promote or condone, or may [my emphasis] promote or condone … violence, degradation or negative stereotypes of any person(s) or group(s).” This year they have withdrawn to the self-insulating “messages … that promote or condone violence or the incitement of hatred as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada [my emphasis].” In a stroke, the committee has turned an issue of institutional ethics into a legal one, a cowardly evasion of responsibility.

Pride’s cultural mandate is to celebrate alternate sexuality, its political mandate to promote the human rights, social acceptance and environmental security of gays and lesbians. Political activism for human rights wherever gays are imprisoned, deported or executed makes sense. So does acknowledging gay-friendly jurisdictions. Kulanu, a Jewish social group, legitimately holds signs saying, “We’re proud of Israel because Israel’s proud of us.” But anti-Israel protest and support for Israel’s homophobic enemies belong in demonstrations on Parliament Hill or at the Israeli embassy, not in a forum where Israel’s impeccable credentials on gay rights and social integration are second to no other nation.

The Ontario legislature recently passed a motion condemning Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), as did the federal government. QuAIA is simply an IAW proxy; what was hateful in IAW is equally hateful in QuAIA. Political leaders must take ownership of this issue. Michael Ignatieff, Mayor David Miller, Toronto mayoral candidate George Smitherman, Bob Rae, Jack Layton, Olivia Chow, Belinda Stronach and Elizabeth May: You all marched in Pride 2009. Announce that you will not march in Pride 2010 if QuAIA does. Birds of a feather should flock together. Pride must eject the QuQus from its nest.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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In support of a memorial to the victims of communism

In 1968, naive anti-establishment American and Canadian students considered themselves courageous for locking supine university presidents in their offices, throwing computers out of windows and even burning out-of-favour academics’ research work. They knew that in the free, indulgent West, their childish parody of a revolution would result in nothing more than a suspension from their studies.

In the same year truly courageous Moscow academic Yuri Glazov signed the famous “letter of the twelve,” protesting illegal arrests and trials of dissidents, knowing full well that this real act of revolution would result in a suspension of his human rights.

Glazov was predictably fired, meaning he was henceforth unemployable and deemed a “parasite” on the state. Warned by a friend, he narrowly avoided imprisonment on a trumped-up narcotics-dealing charge. Finally, through a stroke of luck, Glazov came with his family to the West, and in 1975 took up residence in Halifax as chair of the Russian Studies department at Dalhousie University, a position he held until shortly before his death in 1998.

An outstanding Canadian, Glazov deserves recognition, and so do many other brave dissidents for whom Canada has been a refuge. Nine million Canadians — that’s almost a third of us according to the 2006 census — came to these shores from communist-ruled countries. Many are now dead or very old. Their descendants deserve to see their sacrifices acknowledged and Canadians exposed to the full panoply of communist atrocities.

Prospects for educating Canadians about the human toll exacted by communism through their stories will brighten when a long-sought Ottawa Memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism is completed, a project singled out for endorsement in the recent Throne Speech.

This memorial isn’t just a good idea, like an also-promised national Holocaust memorial, it is a necessary idea.

The exhaustively researched Holocaust is in no danger of being forgotten. The highest term of opprobrium in Western culture, whether from leftists or rightists (rightly or wrongly) is “Nazi,” not “communist.” That’s not because Nazis and communists have been compared and Nazis found to be worse. It’s because people don’t know how bad communism was and is.

In 2006 the Swedish Ministry of Education initiated programs teaching the crimes of communism because a poll had revealed only 10% of Swedish youth could identify the Gulag. Canadian youth would not fare better. All educated Canadians associate the word “Auschwitz” with “genocide.” The equally horrific “Holodomor” is more likely to draw a blank stare.

Why has communism escaped the moral condemnation Naziism attracts in such exuberant degree? In recent years several scholars have addressed the question and provided a litany of reasons, amongst them:

•  Stalin was a war ally and therefore escaped the postwar censure he deserved;

•  Only since the fall of the Berlin Wall has the most damaging data emerged; by then witnesses were aging and focused on economic priorities;

•  There was no Nuremburg, no Truth and Reconciliation moment for communism as there was for other genocidal regimes;

•  Communist propaganda machines are extremely efficient at positive branding (Trudeau bought in; his fawning patronage of Fidel Castro was beyond contemptible).

But all reasons pale beside the glaring failure of left-wing intellectuals to admit — and to teach — that communism isn’t simply an unfortunate contingency of socialist passion but an ideology as immoral and implacably ruthless and dramatically consequential as Naziism.

Actually it is more than intellectuals’ failure, which suggests passivity; it was, and is, active avoidance. Yuri Glazov was proud to become a Canadian citizen, but was shocked and chagrined at the ignorance and even denial of communism’s crimes he found amongst his fellow academics. As his son Jamie Glazov noted in his 2009 book, United in Hate: the Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, “[W]hile we were cherishing our newfound freedom, we encountered … intellectuals in the universities who hated my parents for the story they had to tell …” Left-wing intellectuals’ laundering of the truth about communism has translated into a vast lacuna in the teaching of 20th century history in our schools — one we can only hope the new memorial will help to fill.

The word “memorial” is somewhat misleading, though, suggesting that communism is a closed historical chapter. The fall of the Berlin Wall notwithstanding, communism in one guise or another still determines the fate of millions of hapless people around the globe. Victims in communist regimes are still starved, imprisoned, tortured and denied the most basic of human rights.

“Centre”? “Testament”? It is not too late to find a word to remind communism’s ongoing victims that right-thinking Canadians know the truth and will not abandon them.

To learn more about Yuri Glazov and the Yuri Glazov memorial fund at Dalhousie University, go here

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Dropping the r-bomb

The bourgeois tyranny of the fully-abled

It was revealed by The Wall Street Journal in late January that at a private strategy session in August, Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s chief of staff, blasted the internally divisive political ploy proposed by some aggressively left-wing Democrats as “f——-g retarded.”

An intense brouhaha, with disability advocacy groups, Special Olympics spokespeople and even Sarah Palin piling on, confirmed that the word “retarded”—though still a bona fide medical term—has almost achieved the same social radioactivity as “the N-word.”

Objectively there’s no viable comparison between the two.

The N-word is an odious racial slur targeting an identifiable group of humans endowed with immutable genetic characteristics. From its inception, the N-word has been identified with real immiseration of blacks by real racists.

By contrast, “retarded” is merely descriptive of an objective condition, and applicable to culturally disparate individuals. The term may even be said to be a euphemism: “delayed,” after all, suggests more hopefulness than is usually warranted for these unfortunates.

But, like its predecessors, “idiot,” “moron” and “feebleminded,” the once-benign “retard” has lost dignity through constant association with juvenile humour, as well as coarsely-couched impatience with normally intelligent people acting stupidly, Emanuel’s peccadillo. Medical and support groups now prefer “intellectually disabled.” (Strangely, the same fate has not befallen “gay,” despite its parallel downward trajectory in popular usage.)

To be fair, although never enslaved or maligned as a group, the disabled, until relatively recently, were overlooked at best, and often shamed, depersonalized and marginalized in all societies. But again to be fair, the West can be proud of its progress on the disability file. Over the centuries our perceptions of the deformed, the diseased and the disabled as ritually unclean or loathsome have evolved into attitudes of compassion, inclusion and frank admiration.

The Paralympics, beginning this Friday, are a testimony to the sensible modern understanding of disability as a modifier, but not a disqualifier, for participation in athletic competition—a far cry from the original Olympics where the slightest physical imperfection (even circumcision) disqualified candidates for inclusion.

None of this happened by magic. Activism amongst the disabled and their sympathizers followed the well-trodden path traversed by blacks, women and homosexuals in their legitimate, rights-claiming phases. Slowly but surely curbs became sloped, elevators were installed and wheelchair-friendly transportation was made available. Much remains to be done, but the principle of equal accessibility to public resources has been firmly established, a principle roundly supported by liberals and conservatives alike.

Until political activism morphed into a field of academic study. Then—as with women’s, queer and African-American studies—disability studies fell prey to the post-modern anti-intellectual credo amongst intellectuals that “studies” means the advancement of “theory” and political activism rather than disinterested free inquiry. Many liberals may like what they see on campus, most conservatives not so much.

On its face, the relatively nascent phenomenon of disability studies is an attractive concept. Disability in literature (fairy tales, mythology, Homer, the Bible, Shakespeare), in the plastic and visual arts, in family dynamics, in sports, in politics: All of these make lush intellectual pickings for real scholarship.

Instead the field has been colonized by leftist ideologues. You’ll find in its academic literature all the buzz words you see in race and gender studies: “progressive,” “oppression,” “bourgeois,” “empowerment.” Riffle through a few conference papers and it’s the same old, same old: “At the heart of disability studies is a recognition that disability is a cultural construction; that is, that ‘disability’ has no inherent meaning”; and “The exciting thing about disability studies is that it is both an academic field of inquiry and an area of political activity …”; and “Social justice is at the heart of disability theory and changing morality in the Western world.”

In other words, disability studies’ academic stakeholders have co-opted the disabled—for the most part apolitical individuals seeking nothing more than a physical levelling of the playing field in order to pursue their unique personal goals—as eternal Marxist victims of “ableist” oppressors. (The University of Toronto disabilities studies department claims it “aims to examine and deconstruct ableism.”)

That’s where the animus against “retarded” comes from. The word suggests there is a normative IQ against which the -er -“cognitively different” can, and should, be measured. Like feminists who won’t hear of discrepancies between male and female faculties in maths and sciences, disability activists rebel against the bourgeois tyranny of the fully abled. The same denial of reality prevails.

(The deaf “culture” or “linguistic community” who resist integration through lip-reading is the most egregious example of the syndrome. Extreme disability correctness led two deaf lesbians to seek a congenitally deaf sperm donor to ensure a deaf child.)

Disabled individuals are owed all the help society can reasonably provide to live as normal a life as possible. Colour me ableist: I said it -the other N-word-“normal.” For “normal” is what any reasonable disabled person wants to be. If disability studies academics resist this reality, they may be cognitively abled, but they are ethically … delayed.

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Refugees R Us

On Sunday, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney praised a Federal Court ruling denying citizenship to Syrian immigrant Nasoh Raslan. At trial, it was revealed that Mr. Raslan’s Ontario “home” phone number was common to 62 other citizenship applicants, and his mailing address to 126 others.

Mr. Raslan reacted to events with a mixture of repentance and perplexity: “I now know that I definitely did not do the right thing,” he averred in an affidavit, “but at the time, I thought that [applying through another address] was simply a common and small stretch to the rules.”

Mr. Raslan has a right to be confused. Far greater stretches to the immigration rules—if under “rules” we include moral precepts of transparency and integrity—are made all the time, as any candid immigration judge will confirm.

Where do immigrants get the idea that stretching rules is “common” here? Partly from mercenary Canadians such as the “ghost” immigration consultants advertising their expertise on the perfectly legal website  If the boasts put forward therein are even approximately accurate, Nasoh Raslan and his fake address represent the least of Canada’s immigration problems. The first thing you see on the website’s professional-looking home page is the statement: “A cheap, quick and effective way to come to Canada.”

Intrigued? I certainly would be if I were a credulous would-be immigrant eager to avoid a lot of red tape.

The website lays out the steps for coming to Canada “quickly and easily,” including this one: “The next step is to help you find a motive in order to claim refugee in Canada. We will provide you with a listing of different motives so that you can choose the one that best suits you” (emphasis mine—though I will leave in all the various spelling and grammatical mistakes).

Leaving nothing to chance, the company provides motives that have worked for other people: “For example many of our clients choose the type of motives in which they claim that there were part of an organization (anti-abortion, human rights, gay or lesbian movement, etc., etc.) back in their home country and that some people were against that movement. This is just a simple example. Our services are so complete that we will brief you before your departure so that your motive is well documented and well verbalized. We guarantee you that the immigration official will not return you to your country.”

In case the encouragement to be creative with the truth didn’t sink in the first time, it’s repeated again under the Frequently Asked Questions: “When you retain our services we help you find an effective and valid motive. Do not worry. We are experts in this matter.”

To the FAQ question, “I am 75 years old. Can I go to Canada?” they answer: “Of course you can. If you apply for a Skilled Worker visa you will probably be denied du to the age factor but when you claim refugee in Canada, the important point is your motive … We will make sure that you have a valid motive.”

Another FAQ raises the question of what to do if one’s “motive” is rejected. The answer: “We will guide you with a lot of information so that your refugee claim is gives the impression of being realistic and convincing. You will not have any problem. We have helped more than 1,200 people in the past eight years to claim refugee in Canada and every single person was able to claim refugee without being detained. … We never leave anyone stranded. That is why we are so famous and that is why so many people hire us to come to Canada.”

You will not find the endorsing logo of the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants (CSIC) on or other sites like it, but how is an immigrant to know that he should look for such a stamp of approval? In any case, there’s no downside to the client using ghost consultants (if they have the US$2,250 to pay up front) because claimants are not at present even asked if they have been coached by immigration consultants, let alone whether those consultants are legitimate or not.

Quebec, the only province controlling its own immigration policies, is moving to regulate immigration consultancy and close this loophole, a sensible initiative applauded by the CSIC. The federal government must also become ghost consultant-busters. Then Mr. Kenney may more credibly boast, as he did regarding the Raslan court decision, that his government is working hard “to protect the integrity of Canadian citizenship, particularly from those who would obtain it through fraud.”

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Children are born as conservatives; The happiness in their hearts

I was walking my four-year-old granddaughter home from her (parochial) junior kindergarten a few weeks ago, a frequent pleasure, when she announced, “You can’t see God, because He is inside you.”

I agreed that was the case. But how, she wanted to know, could you be sure He was there. Simplicity my watchword, I replied that when people do good things, God is the happiness in their hearts, and when they do bad things, God is the sadness in their hearts. Summoning up the history of her parents’ strictures around good and bad behaviour and consulting her own emerging conscience, she nodded with grave approval: God as the ultimate parent suited her vision of what a worship-worthy deity should be.

As we continued chatting about God and His mysterious ways, I noticed that I was occasionally glancing behind me in what I later shamefully identified as a furtive reflex—as though God-talk to the innocent young were something a secularly correct passer-by might consider suspicious.

Within my adult lifetime I have witnessed God and religion decline from supremely important topics all thinking people grappled with -even left-wing academics; God (not to mention Israel) was very welcome on campus in my day—to subjects it is an intellectual act of defiance to take seriously.

Humans gravitate to religion—or, faute de mieux, to ideology—because we are by nature worshipful creatures with an instinct for codifying and institutionalizing belief systems, the better to strengthen civic bonding and rationalize social decency.

Today a vociferous cluster of arrogant intellectuals, circulating spiritually untethered through life like unvaccinated children in a vaccinated populus, and mistaking their unmolested health for a useful global template, would persuade us that is not the case. They insist that if religion disappeared, society would function perfectly well on the basis of reason alone. But no society, religious or godless, ever has, so the burden of proof is on them.

Worshipfulness abhors a vacuum and history shows that in a vacuum, whatever absolutism—communism, multiculturalism, environmentalism—pushes itself forward most aggressively will claim people’s attention and acquiescence.

In our Western case, after many a historical divagation and slough of despond, religion has for the last few centuries put its highest moral and social ideals to the service of democracy and a market economy to produce the freest, happiest, most peaceful, egalitarian, compassionate, productive and prosperous societies in recorded history.

Indeed, so successful have our societies become that our heavy thinkers believe we arrived at this pinnacle of tolerance and sensitivity and equality by sheer intelligence, and that our Western religious tradition is an actual hindrance to even greater social progress. Now we are told to jettison the God and religion that got us where we are (but romanticize the religions that didn’t) and worship society’s beautiful minds.

But this would be a disaster for children. It is a great mistake to think that a child’s mind has the capacity to satisfy his inherent but inchoate yearning for transcendence through reason. The ability to reason one’s way to a world-view emerges too late, when a child’s confidence and friendliness to the world has already been established—or not.

Children are born conservatives. They are not satisfied with chaos theory or moral relativism. They want order, a system, a precise identity (my friend’s grandchild told a schoolmate he was “half Jewish, half Christmas”). They need an infallible “GPS” to navigate their way through “mean” playmates, unfair or insensitive teaching, the troubling deaths of pets and family members, rumours of war and natural disasters.

In their evolved character, our heritage religions coexist in perfect harmony with the ideal of a pluralist society. Properly transmitted by parents and dedicated educators, instruction in God and religion has nothing to do with indoctrination, a political strategem that seeks to enslave, not ennoble, young minds, proclaiming all other paths to righteousness as thought crimes or worse.

(A perfect example of indoctrination is Quebec’s universal school Ethics and Religious Culture program, where the state is co-opting vulnerable minds to implant the relativist canard that all religions, cults, (state-approved) ideologies and pagan legends are morally, intellectually and spiritually equivalent.)

Until recently most atheists grew up with God and religion. Their reasoning skills were not impaired. On the contrary, once intellectually autonomous, they were far better equipped for self-interrogation than those raised with no beliefs at all. There is nothing to be lost in gifting children with God and religion, but much to be gained—for them as individuals and for society as a whole.

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From out of anti-Semitism’s muck, scholarly gold

In their choice of divorce lawyers as in all else, royals Charles and Diana went their separate ways: Charles to experienced establishment divorce-law solicitor Fiona Shackleton, Diana to Anthony Julius, a trusted advisor, but a libel-law specialist.

A Telegraph article praised Charles’s sensible choice. But as for Diana’s: “[Julius] is a Jewish intellectual and … less likely to feel constrained by the considerations of fair play. ‘I’d be very worried if I were the Royal family,’ says a Cambridge don who taught him. ‘He’ll get lots of money out of them.’ “

The Telegraph was forced to apologize for promoting this stereotype of the Jew as pushy outsider. The impulse behind it reflects enduring national prejudices: that Jews are unusually clever, especially about money, but won’t “play the game” as gentlemen do. (The words “Jewish gentleman” are never irony-free in England.)

Yet the Telegraph’s slur was in fact the only time in his life that Anthony Julius personally had experienced overt anti-Semitism, he informs us in the introduction to his sumptuously informative new book, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England.

An unfamiliar name here, Julius is a public figure in England, as well-known for literary criticism as for his legal activism against anti-Semitism. He wrote this exhaustively researched tome (600 pages of text, 200 pages of footnotes) to better understand both anti-Semitism and himself: “The English Jew is what he is in part because of English anti-Semitism.”

Julius posits several versions of English anti-Semitism. The first type, medieval Jew-hatred, was “vast, abysmal and intense,” descending from defamation to expropriation and murder, culminating, in 1290, in a 400-year exile.

Upon the Jews’ return, for mixed cultural, political and religious reasons amplified in the book, England shifted to a second type, the milder “quotidian” genre of modern, old-boy anti-Semitism exhibited by The Telegraph, an anti-Semitism “of insult and rebuff, not of expulsion and murder.”

It is a commonplace that violence against Jews always begins with words. But Julius shows us that anti-Semitic discourse—plentiful, ubiquitous, often vicious—never led to organized violence or official betrayal of Jews in modern England as it did in Germany, Russia and France. (As George Orwell put it, English anti-Semitism existed, but “no one wants actually to do anything to the Jews.”)

Julius ascribes the absence of organized hostility to a lack of preoccupation with Jews amongst English intellectuals (unlike France’s, who were obsessed by them), but also to national character, to the Englishman’s sense of gentlemanly behaviour, and his (then) cultural confidence. (A late-19th century Spectator article said: “[The Jews] are clever and vigorous no doubt, but only a decadent race need be afraid of them … The nation that cannot tolerate the Jews, and becomes deeply inspired by the anti-Semitic terror, is not the nation that will win.”)

A third type, which we live with today in all Western nations (especially on our campuses), attends the alliance between Islamism and Leftist anti-Zionism—which is based, in part, on the ancient blood libel that depicts Jews as predators who seek to kill innocent gentiles.

As it turns out, the best-known works of the three most revered writers in the English literary canon are predicated on this blood libel: Chaucer’s The Prioress’s Tale, in which a harmless child unknowingly offends Jews, who cut his throat, after which he becomes a martyr; Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (written during the Jewish exile), which introduced “pound-of-flesh” Shylock to the world; and Dickens’s Oliver Twist, featuring Fagin, a repellent child predator of boundless wi c k e d n e s s . In each case, the blood of a Christian child or a childlike innocent is ritually shed or lusted after by rapacious, self-serving Jews.

Contemporary anti-Zionism has re-invigorated this libel in its most virulent form. The evil Jews are now Israelis, the Christian innocent is the Palestinian child, ruthlessly shot (the Muhammad al-Durrah myth) or his organs harvested (a particularly obscene variation of the blood/ matzo myth). Its latest cultural incarnation is Caryl Churchill’s 2009 blood-libel play, Seven Jewish Children—a Play for Gaza.

Writing Trials of the Diaspora was for this most erudite and highly civilized of English gentlemen the intellectual equivalent of trawling through muck ( “Anti-Semitism is a sewer”). Worse, he knows it won’t change a single anti-Semite’s mind.

For those free of such bigotry, however, Trials of the Diaspora, the study of muck, is scholarly gold.

Anthony Julius is speaking at York University in Toronto on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. For information, contact Bridget Newson at

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Man-hating nonsense

A feminist icon, “thealogist” Mary Daly died Jan. 3 at the age of 81. Almost unknown outside the academy, Daly was a militant influence on feminist approaches to religion.

If her name is faintly familiar, you’re likely recalling a brief late-‘90s media surge around a lawsuit against Jesuit-run Boston College, Daly’s longtime academic home, initiated by a male student barred from Daly’s women-only classes. Effectively fired as a result, Daly “retired” from academic life in 2001.

Daly’s academic ascendancy coincided with the rise of dissident Catholic theology in the 1960s and ‘70s after the Second Vatican Council, when radicalized Catholics worked vociferously (and unsuccessfully) to liberalize normative Catholicism’s approaches to contraception, homosexuality and abortion.

In 1968 Daly published The Church and the Second Sex, her seminal “j’accuse” work indicting the Catholic Church for its humiliation of women by a patriarchal hierarchy. This was followed in 1973 by an even more inflammatory anti-male book, Beyond God the Father.

Daly found her true calling as an ayatollah figure for a ludicrous religion she helped to invent. “Goddess spirituality” is based on an anticipatory Garden of Eden myth cut from whole imaginary cloth. Initially a strictly ivory-tower phenomenon, Goddess spirituality was later vulgarized through two hugely popular books, The Chalice and the Blade (1989) by Riane Eisler and The Da Vinci Code (2003) by Dan Brown.

In Daly’s utopian narrative, the first human cultures worshipped a Great Mother Goddess and lived as peacefully, collaboratively and ecologically responsibly as the movie Avatar’s blue-skinned aliens, the Na’vi, who worship a goddess Daly would have loved, and whose creation she may have inspired.

Humans inhabited this paleo-Eden under the benevolent spiritual tutelage of the Goddess. She nurtured allegedly female values of peace and harmony and environmental sensitivity. From 40,000-5000 BCE all was harmony; men and women rejoiced in their benign collaboration for the common good.

Then barbarian male hordes marauded their way across the pacifist Goddess’s domains. These “phallocratic” savages introduced the evils of racism, social hierarchies, war-mongering and eco-rape. Subsequent human history is the tragic tale of a violent, controlling patriarchy, aligned with ruthless capitalism, environmental despoliation and unrelieved misogyny.

According to Professor Katherine Young and researcher Paul Nathanson of McGill University’s religious studies department, and fully elaborated in their just-published book on Goddess spirituality, Sanctifying Misandry: Goddess ideology and the fall of man, it’s all nonsense: ideology gussied up as religious myth. Their methodical exposure of Goddess spirituality’s perversion of Christian tropes reveals the misandric obsession at its core. Taking Daly’s scapegoating revisionism as a reliable clue, they site Goddess spirituality—and for other persuasive reasons feminism in general—under the rubric of conspiracy theorism.

Exploiting to the hilt the exceptionalism with regard to group intolerance Women’s Studies takes for granted within the academy, Mary Daly got away with shocking gratuitous sexism. Her lesbianism doesn’t explain her hatred of men, but may account for her belief that in the messianic return to the pre-lapsarian golden age of female hegemony Goddess spirituality subscribes to, men will be superfluous.

Interestingly, in their respectful obituaries the mainstream media scanted Daly’s extreme misandry. Typically, the New York Times discretely allowed that her work “explored [men’s] misogyny in religion in general.” Which is the academic equivalent of saying the 9/11 jihadis “explored” anti-Westernism in their actions.

None cut to the chase on this horrible woman: her exterminationist loathing for men, as evidenced in statements like: “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accomplished by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males [by 90%]. People are afraid to say that kind of stuff anymore.”

There’s a reason we don’t “say that kind of stuff anymore.” It’s hate speech. Call for a “drastic reduction” of any other identifiable group in society and see if your books get published or appear on your department’s recommended reading list.

Lest you assume Daly was perceived by peers as a nutbar akin to a Raëlian or a Scientologist, the Encyclopedia of World Biography pronounced her “the foremost feminist theoretician and philosopher in the United States.” She was feted at the mainstream 1998 American Academy of Religion conference, where an adoring throng chanted her name in mantra-like perseveration, and one representative sycophant, Carter Heyword, the first female Anglican priest, burbled: “[Clerics] like myself […] because of you, Mary, knew very early in our professional sojournings that God the Father was a necrophilic overseer of nothing but lies.”

Feminism’s media spinmeisters insist feminism is not misandric. But Daly’s toxic works cannot be “spun.” If a hate-based dualism of female sanctitude and male original sin is acceptable to Women’s Studies, then Women’s Studies should not be acceptable to us.

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The end of the gender wars

Something odd occurred in the two days following the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre earlier this month. Commentaries by both Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail and Jonathan Kay of the Post were sharply critical of the emotive and irrational linkage of the Massacre with the phenomenon of domestic violence against women. Neither pundit is known to be anti-feminist in general, but both columns recommended we desacralize the Polytechnique killings, accept them for the freak tragedy they were and stop guilt-tripping all men for Marc Lepine’s unique paranoiac fixations.

Ranting about the unwholesome social ends to which the Massacre has been put used to be my lonely job every Dec. 6. Finding myself in such good company was a happy surprise and, I think, an iconoclastic cultural moment: Let us recognize that female victimhood is not intrinsically more tragic than male victimhood, these columns seemed to say.

Commonsensical Canadians are losing patience with the angry, blame-all-males school of feminism. It’s no accident that the feminist Toronto Women’s Bookstore, for years a bustling cynosure of the cultural zeitgeist, is in danger of closing down. Or that once overflowing women’s studies classes are emptying out, or morphing into “gender studies” to attract more students (a trap, really: Gender studies are also gynocentric, offering a more subtle version of heterosexual male-bashing than women’s studies).

Rob Kenedy, an assistant professor in the sociology department of York University with a specialty in the men’s rights movement, was unique amongst sociologues in teaching a course in the 1990s about men and their particular tribulations and needs. In a telephone interview he recalled his surprise when more young women signed up than men: “Women are far more interested in learning about men and masculinity than men are.”

Because the numbers in universities are so skewed to the distaff—in a current obligatory sociology course, his own tutorial is comprised of 25 women and two men—Kenedy predicts sociology departments will have to open up (positive)masculinity courses to satisfy the burgeoning curiosity of women about what makes men tick.

Kenedy is convinced, as I am, that we are exiting the gender wars. Feminism is increasingly “out of fashion” and recent years have seen “a crumbling of the [feminist] foundation.” Culturally sanctioned misandry is beginning to cause discomfort. Women today, he says, want equality without stridency, a return to feminism’s first principles.

Positive acknowledgment of masculinity began with the public honour paid to courageous fallen firefighters of 9/11. For Canadians it is more linked to public mourning around the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan. From the outset of her tenure in 1999, governor general Adrienne Clarkson embraced her patronage of the military—integrated, but still the last cultural bastion of indisputably masculine virtues—with inspirational acts of solidarity with our troops, and Michaelle Jean has continued the tradition with enthusiasm.

In the past decade, we have started noticing that boys exist as something other than future violent men in need of preemptive anger management (the main thrust of the White Ribbon Campaign in schools). We have been made aware—uncomfortably, graphically—that boys also suffer sexual and physical abuse from both men and women. Continuing revelations of boys’ victimization in church-run residential schools and highly publicized pedophilia amongst some priests, sports coaches and parents cannot be ignored.

The recent publication of commissioner G. Normand Glaude’s statement on the long-running Cornwall Public Inquiry into pedophile rings contains a litany of shameful deficits in our legal and social institutions that have facilitated ongoing abuse of boys because they are not equipped—and for ideological reasons have lacked interest in equipping themselves—to deal with boys’ and men’s psychological responses to abuse. That will change.

My predictions—call them hopes if you prefer—for the next decade:

-We will see the return of the traditional family unit as a phenomenon worthy of concern and respect. The needs of children will come first;

-Equal parenting will become the default custody arrangement as the optimal situation for children; the resultant decline in adversarial legal battles will diminish false allegations of abuse by women and punitive support-withholding by men, both of which punish children more than parents;

-The specific needs of boys and men will be accorded the same pedagogical, social and legal rights and respect as girls: We will see funding for shelters for abused men and children, or ungendered family shelters for whoever needs it;

-Domestic violence will be acknowledged as a serious but bilateral problem that is unacceptable, whether perpetrated by men or women. But we will also acknowledge that systemic misogyny of the kind made manifest in honour crimes against women is a culturally-derived phenomenon that is alien to Canadian values, and that it is wrong to assign collective guilt for such crimes to Canadian men.

If the pendulum in the gender wars really is swinging back to the middle, it should become received wisdom that men and women are genetically hard-wired for different strengths, weaknesses and psychological needs.

So, having agreed that intact families are by far the greatest predictors of success for children than anything else, we will jettison the power struggle paradigm feminism has been pushing for decades. We will move toward a collaborative model in which men and women are equal in value but, guided by nature and common sense, separate in their parental roles and influence. The result will be a happier, more productive generation of Canadian children.

As a good-faith start to this paradigm shift—and this really will restore some dignity to gender relations—let’s retire the Montreal Massacre from public life and return mourning rituals for the Polytechnique victims to the families of the victims. As a logical extension, the systemically sexist White Ribbon Campaign should be mothballed and replaced by a gender-neutral educational program against all forms of violence, informed by evidence-based, non-ideological studies.

Am I dreaming in technicolour? Let me know in 2020. Happy New Year to all my readers.

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Quebec’s new state religion: cultural relativism

In September 2008, after years of pre-planning by elites without public consultation, Quebec’s Ministry of Education established a province-wide, compulsory pedagogical program called Ethique et Culture Religieuse (ECR).

All Quebec students—public, private, even the homeschooled—must take ECR (with the exception of one secondary school year) from age six through high school.

On its sunny face, the ECR program introduces students to the rich variety of religious beliefs and rituals in today’s “intercultural” Quebec, where all citizens “live together in the bosom of a Quebec [that is] democratic and open to the world.”

But a newly landed bombshell amongst Quebec’s chattering classes, a study produced by Ethnic Studies PhD candidate Joelle Querin for the Institut de Recherche sur le Quebec, persuasively argues that the ideology behind the course is anything but benign, reinforcing concerns about this troubling program I expressed in these pages last December.

Following a close analysis of the course’s stated objectives, content, teachers’ roles and suggested activities, Querin pulls no punches in her conclusion: “I wanted to verify if the course gives knowledge to children or if it indoctrinates them. I observed that it was the second alternative that prevailed.”

Two values dominate the program’s objectives: learning to “vivre ensemble” (live together) and arriving at the “bien commun” (the common good). How does ECR produce social harmony? By constant “dialogue” and “recognition” of other cultures, which can only be accomplished, in the words of ECR mandarin Georges Leroux, by inculcating in children “absolute respect for every religious position.”

But according to ECR, “every religious position” includes pagan animism, witchcraft (Wiccans “are women like any other in daily life”), and the nutbar Raelian Movement ( “technologically, [the Raelians] are 25,000 years in advance of us”). To bundle superstitions and cults together with authentic religions, then demand deference to all, is to discourage actual respect for any but the state religion of “normative pluralism,” the real aim of the program.

In its indifference to objective knowledge, in its crusade to hallow cultural relativism and a strictly Charter-of-rights based identity, ECR stimulates heritage students’ detachment from their own cultural touchstones, and chills critical thinking in all students.

Guerin cites, for example, one instance where students were invited to redesign the Quebec flag, replacing the cross with a more “inclusive” symbol, and another, an activity called “Youpi! Ma religion a moi!” (my own religion!) in which religions actually invented by students are accorded the same esteem as real ones. Such subversive pedagogical impulses dismissively mock Quebec’s unique culture, based, like all others, in a shared language, religion and collective values formed over time.

In the ECR scheme, teachers do not actually convey knowledge, but rather “plan, organize activities, advise, accompany, encourage, support …make suggestions, but never impose.”

But they must and do “impose” sometimes. The program harps relentlessly on “dialogue” as the principal vehicle for learning to “vivre ensemble.” But if, according to an editing team spokesman, the dialogue does not follow a politically correct script—that is, if students of independent mind or critical point of view diverge in behaviour or words from the prescribed “recognition” mantra: all cultural traditions are equal; all beliefs are good—“The teacher must intervene immediately to stop it on the spot. Any attack in class on the dignity of the person or the common good must be immediately denounced, because it is not tolerated in our society. In that [respect], the program of Ethical and Religious Culture is not neutral.”

Thus Guerin darkly warns: “After having followed the ECR course for 10 years, the students won’t have a great knowledge of religions, but one thing is sure: no [cultural] accommodation will seem unreasonable to them.”

A May 2009 Leger marketing poll on ECR found that 76% of Quebecois prefer a choice in religious education; they think their elites have shown contempt for the population. Many parents are demanding ECR exemptions, if not outright abolition of the program. Grassroots resistance movements—strange bedfellows of anti-clericalists, practicing Catholics and nationalists, each with their own support network—are pushing back through political activism, the media and the courts .

As well they should. ECR is a creepy state foray into social engineering. Disguised as multicultural feel-goodism, the program is in reality the utopian Quebec Left’s strategic plan for societal transformation. Their tactics: the appropriation of parents’ natural and rightful authority over their children’s religious upbringing; the willful erosion of children’s pride in their Quebec patrimony; and the slow suffocation of students’ inherent curiosity and intellectual autonomy.

If Quebec does not wish to end up in the sick ward of Western cultures, ECR must be excised in the operating theatre of popular resistance.

Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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