Friday, January 08, 2010

A Vindication, But No, Al-Ameen's Formal Apology Is Not Good Enough.

". . .Therefore, in the spirit of honouring our most cherished Canadian Values, and to demonstrate our commitment to upholding and defending such values, the Editorial Board of alAmeen Post, without prejudice, extends its honest and sincere apology to our fellow Jewish Canadians for any hurt which may have caused by us publishing or communicating such a news article."

No apology to Canada's Muslims, whose values Al-Ameen purports to defend and promote among non-Muslim Canadians who have "dared to compare whatever the western media may be spinning against Islam and Muslims." No apology to the members of the British Columbia Muslim Association for its claims that the BCMA executive board members are Al-Ameen's bosses - a claim the BCMA's Hesham Nabih calls "a lie."

It all started with this. The National Post picked it up, B'Nai Brith issued a press release demanding an apology, the National Post pulled my essay after the B.C Muslim Association started shouting (but to its credit, the Post followed up with this article in the news section of today's editions), and Al-Ameen then removed the racist and incendiary incitement from its online edition "due to lack of supporting facts." Then, Al-Ameen quietly deleted the claim on its 'About Us' page that its editorial board members "are also the members of the BCMA Executive Board," about which, even now, Al-Ameen is still equivocating.

Al-Ameen editor Mohammed Bhamji says its own claim about who its real bosses are was not intended to mean the newspaper is "literally connected" to the BCMA, but that rather it is "connected to the entire community." All of this would have been a mere distraction, but Al-Ameen has now actually compounded its offence by attempting to spread the blame for its behaviour among as many Muslims as it can. And even now, in its apology, Al-Ameen claims its editorial board members "may also be members of the BCMA, and from time to time elected to serve on different boards or branches."

Bhamji excuses himself for running the preposterous Organ-Plundering Zionists Snatch Thousands of Ukrainian Tots Shock story in the first place on the grounds that he didn't think there was anything wrong with it, "it was reported in the media. . . we are not professional journalists." In his newspaper's apology, there is the further excuse that while Al-Ameen has neither "the resources nor the means to have field reporters or [an] investigative journalist working in the field," it nonetheless tries its best to ensure the news it publishes is "credible."

Not good enough. One doesn't have to be a resource-rich news organization with investigative journalists in the field to know that there would be something rather less than "credible" about the claims of a bunch of Nazis gathering at a conference in the Ukraine to count the many ways they hate the Jews (or Zionists, if you prefer) for being behind all of the Ukraine's current troubles, and for also having been behind the Stalinist-engineered famine of the 1930s. You don't have to be a "professional journalist" to notice that there might be something just a bit dodgy in the report about the gathering published by the holocaust-denying foreign-propaganda arm of the Iranian mullahocracy, Press TV, which highlights the "fact" that Jewish doctors are busy vivisecting some 25,000 kidnapped Ukrainian babies.

"We assumed it was true," says Bhamji, and Al-Ameen now expects everyone else to merely assume that it is truly sorry for what it has done, even though its professed contrition is fatally undermined by this admission: "Defending our news article at this juncture would mean causing further divide in our harmonious multicultural fabric."

Well, how delightfully sensitive of them, but I'm afraid the inference one must draw from this is that Al-Ameen might be happy to defend its "news article" at some later juncture, perhaps when regurgitating an ancient blood-libel incitement against the Jews would not cause any unpleasant divisions within Canada's harmonious multicultural fabric. And one is left to shudder at the thought of what sort of horrible "juncture" that would be.

Of course we're all obliged to stand with the Jews as they face this particularly virulent strain of antisemitism, and fair play to B'Nai Brith for securing this apology, such as it is. But Canada's Muslims are still stuck without one, and so are the rest of us. Maybe we have all become so inured to lurid and racist incitements of this sort that we just go along with the fashion of assigning such outrages to the category of inscrutable contests and quarrels among and between various components of Canada's "multicultural fabric," to be arbirtated by the official representatives of Canadian ethnic and religious groups. Maybe I missed the meeting when we all decided that the work of patrolling fascist incitement should be assigned solely to this country's various Jewish community groups. But I'm not going along with any of it.

This isn't just about the Jews, and it's not just about whatever offence Al-Ameen may have caused them. What has happened here is a grievous offence to the memory of the 44,198 Canadians who died fighting the Nazis in the Second World War. It's an offence to my parents, who put on British uniforms to join that struggle, and an offence to the memory of my Uncle Patrick, who died fighting the Nazis in Europe. It's an offence to the memory of at least 1,700 Canadian volunteers who sailed away to Spain before them, who fought barefoot and ate grass.

What was published in the pages of Al-Ameen is an offence to the tens of thousands of Iranians who were slaughtered by the same Khomeinists whose vile propaganda Al-Ameen is so eager to publish, verbatim. It is an offence to the bravery of the hundreds of thousands of young Iranians engaged in their gallant struggle against that fascist regime, even as I write this.

It is an offence to the memory of the more than 140 Canadian soldiers and civilians who have given their lives in the struggle against Islamist fascism in Afghanistan, too.

So, no. I still want my scalps.


Blogger Bill Horne said...

"Maybe I missed the meeting when we all decided that the work of patrolling fascist incitement should be assigned solely to this country's various Jewish community groups."

I think I missed that meeting, too. Time to bring back the slogans "an injury to one is an injury to all" and "all for one and one for all".

12:36 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Yes, quite right Terry: it's an offense to everyone except death worshippers who feel justified in their sadistic view of the world by the suppposed fact that not least of all "the [holy] jews do it". Just for the sake of a thought experiment, let's expand your list and say I'm a Ukrainian resentful of what half-Jewish historian Yuri Slezkine calls "Stalin's willing executioners", i.e. the Soviet Jewish officialdom which constituted a high percentage of the first generations of Soviet officialdom. Wouldn't even I be offended by this neo-Nazi crap, which makes a mockery of any kind of historical discussion/resentment beyond the crudest forms of mythology? We're talking to mindlessness; still that's an interesting thing in itself, from an anthropological p.o.v.

12:57 PM  
Blogger GayandRight said...

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Terry for his intelligent pieces on this story. Whenever my moral compass needs some fine-tuning, I just go to Terry's blog. Thank you very much, Terry.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

As always, Fred, you're too kind to me. But thanks.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Backseat Blogger said...

hmmm. i've been following this story and am feeling threatened and hurt by it. i think it might expose Jews to hatred.

i feel the urge to file a human rights complaint coming on.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Graeme said...

Of note.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From my POV Ezra and his band of "Hate-speech protectors" have done us a disservice by trying to protect such poison.

9:20 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Well Sue,

Ezra and his band have achieved rather little in terms of changing the law. Are we to believe the present friends and agents of the law are just too intimidated by the thought of Ezra calling them names to have a go at shutting down Islamofascism? Or is their sense of courage, purpose and the law's purpose not one that will lead to such actions when such people as the al ameen crowd are involved?

A healthy society is one where we will protect each other's freedom and insist that pathological resentments be dealt with by distinguishing the universality of human resentment from the truly pathological, so we can usefully recycle resentments that can be usefully recycled/reframed through some kind of productive exchange, and so we don't have government becoming arbitrary dictators of the appropriate/pathological resentments as a way of pretending it's doing its job to keep us safe.

Trying to freeze a "correct" world view in place can't keep us safe, precisely because resentment and its dynamism is inevitable. We either ride that bronco, as free people, doing the work that has to be done on the margins and that can't be done at the governing centre, or we give up. Shutting down what we might be allowed to see about the fallen human condition is not really conducive to building security. We have to be willing to see the ugliness for what it is. And it is the marginal people who will show us what it is, who will suggest what it might or cannot become, and not the presently established ethno-religious-political elites with their established ways of framing differences in order to deny that difference is always breaking out anew.

But I think you're right that Ezra alone is not a full solution to anything. Ezra merely raises the possibility that we might avoid the eventual mindlessness that will come from fighting with/for government to shut something up. Ezra's popularity, including with some angry people, teaches us, it seems to me, that we are closer to civil war when government picks and chooses its "Nazis" than when we all expose and marginalize, so as, ideally, to develop on the margins new forms of seeing and signifying and exchanging difference that can eventually make a difference at the centre of the Islamic-Jewish/Western divides, keeping in mind that the viable centre is that which guarantees the freedoms by which we have already come together in this place.

But that's to say the solution is not so much Ezra as learning how to be free to re-present Islamic/Western pathologies in such a way that the can be usefully recycled in a free society. Only that which freedom cannot recycle/transform needs to be quashed, as it reveals its terminal pathology.

But who has the requisite serenity to attempt this work of freedom on the margins? For sure, no one who is looking over his shoulder at the HRC or who is rightly worried about his life and security. We might need laws that target the well-revealed pathology that experience shows no amount of serenity can transform; these laws should identify the pathology explicitly; we don't need general laws that attempt to outlaw all "hate" or "contempt". I would be much less opposed to a law that outlawed specific blood libels than a law that outlawed "hate" and "contempt". In other words, we need laws that shut people up only if responsible political actors, who can be de-elected - and not bureaucrats or judges - are willing to take up the work of representing free people in their determination of what, specifically, is pathological to their shared freedom. Anything else only politicizes the judiciary, which is no solution in the long run.

11:27 AM  
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2:43 AM  
Blogger Bernard said...

Meanwhile we go on with the left in Canada seeing George Galloway and Hamas as being some sort of leftist liberationists

When will the left condemn any nation or politician that advocates against basic human rights? When will the left condemn racism as it used to?

3:55 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

It's getting more difficult, I concede, but I still insist that the thing masquerading as "the left" these days in Canada, and which indeed occupies all the spaces where the left was once ubiquitous, is mainly a phenomenon that flatters itself with a "left-wing" identity but is in fact bourgeois, narcissistic and reactionary.

Identity is about being, not doing. The people who actually do what the left once did, when the left was at its best and bravest, are people who fight to the death for the cause of democracy and freedom from illiteracy, religious obscurantism, from tyranny and misogyny. The Canadians most closely conforming to the outline of that category today are our soldiers. And there is no class of person the "identity left" sneers at more haughtily than a soldier.

4:16 PM  

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