Will Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl's attempts to get the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) to reconsider its decision to reinstate David Ahenakew have any impact?
Or does he come across as censorious and controlling?
Or have growing segments of Canadian society become tired of the lifetime hounding of people who have made racist or anti-Semitic remarks, despite their apologizing, despite their being "stripped of everything" they had?
The federation expelled Mr. Ahenakew from its senate, boards and commissions following the comments. In 2005, a provincial court judge convicted Mr. Ahenakew of wilfully promoting hatred and fined him $1,000. Higher courts later overturned the conviction and ordered a second trial, which is set to begin this fall. "We totally, unequivocally condemn [Ahenakew's] remarks," Mr. Joseph said yesterday.
"But, he's apologized, he's won an appeal, he's been stripped of everything he had, including an opportunity to make a living, and he has not repeated that mistake in over five years. Let's be reasonable."
I dunno. I'm getting more and more uncomfortable and I am not sure why. I am certainly not comfortable with legitimizing of comments like Ahenakew's or Wright's. Yet at the same time, as much as I admire Chuck Strahl, I'm not comfortable with his stand either and that may be partly my reaction to the rampant state censorship at work through human rights commissions.
If Ahenakew was as unrepentant as Wright seems to be, then I would have a much bigger problem with his reinstatement.
But there is something else. I fear that anti-Semitism is becoming increasingly fashionable in Canada. In some communities there has long been a current of anti-Semitism that has run below the surface, that people have shared with a wink and a nod in the privacy of their homes, but known they could not say publicly. Now people are finding, hey, I can say this stuff publicly and people like Barack Obama will still shake my hand and nod approvingly during my sermons. The Left has already embraced anti-Zionism and boycott Israel movements, so it's not that great a leap from demonizing Israel, describing it as an apartheid or Nazi state, and Ahenakew's remarks. As for Wright's anti-Americanism, well, I suppose many Liberals agree with it.
On the Right, people are beginning to wonder about the tactics used against socially unacceptable Holocaust-deniers. As the investigative techniques of "human rights" commissions come to light, as we witness the entrapment, the fake internet identities, the sloppy investigative techniques, the "guilty until proven innocent" approach of politically correct, ideological censors, more and more people are thinking, well, I'd rather live with people openly saying what has been hitherto socially unacceptable than have a dangerous, burgeoning state apparatus that deems hateful any speech it happens to disagree with and perhaps even engages in vengeful tactics against legitimate voices. I am starting to move into this camp, though, as I say, not without discomfort.
It seems as if the lid of politically correct social control is coming unstuck and floating on a roiling mass of pent up free expression. Some of it is pretty ugly. But some of it should never have been shut down in the first place.
We need a Royal Commission to examine not only the laws governing human rights commissions, but defamation laws and Criminal Code provisions concerning hate speech. We also need to examine our notion of human rights. The annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, with its talk of "social condition" as the next enumerated ground represents such an evolution of the metastasizing "living tree" model of the constitution. This model looks at terms like human rights or marriage as empty containers for the culture (i.e. its state-sponsored social engineers) to plunk any meaning they choose. It is the kind of reasoning that comes from assuming the Preamble to the Charter is a dead letter. It's all very postmodern and fashionable and meaningless, ultimately. It also has no relationship to the great heritage of Western Civilization that brought us our cherished freedoms.
Human rights commissions and the materialist, Marxist ideology that underpins their ever-expanding notions of equality and social engineering are a cancer that needs radical surgery. We also need a revival of the Judeo-Christian roots of society to nurse our body politic back to health. Otherwise, kiss freedom of speech and freedom of religion good bye.
Here are some of my thoughts after attending last year's Charter @ 25 conference, with a link to a detailed story I wrote about how far Canada has moved from a Catholic understanding of human rights, even though Catholic teaching helped launch the movement to entrench these rights:
How postmodern everything has become. Words mean whatever we want them to mean. Rights mean whatever the state as interpreted by judges decide they are. As Scalia, a Catholic who believes in natural law, pointed out if new rights can be added, old rights can be taken away. And we're already seeing in Canada that freedom of speech is getting more and more restricted and so is religious freedom---especially if you are Christian.
What's the world coming to when the right to life---the basic, foundational human right--has given way to the right for women to get abortions, the right for same-sex marriage and the shrinking of the rights of those who would publicly defend traditional marriage. Coming soon the right to die and have someone, perhaps from the medical profession, assist you. As Scalia said on the last one: "Stay tuned." Of course, concealed in that right will be coercion, that is if you are old or disabled.
All this seems mighty important to me, but the funny thing was, while I was getting my hair cut before heading off to Montreal last week, when I told the young gal where I was going she asked, "What's the Charter?"I'm sure, though I didn't ask, that she knows she has rights. Everyone has rights. But I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word 'rights' is. It's a sad that that's the case. The Christian leaders have a lot of work to do to try to find their way back into the conversation.