Canada: A Dominion of Dissent
I hardly feel that I can add anything to the commentary on this story,
now that it has made the rounds through every level of the blogosphere, as well as mainstream news, but I will try.
Essentially, a group of Palestinian students at Montréal’s Concordia University rioted last week, destroying property and clashing with police. They wanted to prevent former Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at a major assembly. One “protester” was quoted as justifying the actions, saying “there is no free speech for hate speech”. Presumably, he considers anything Netanyahu might possibly say so offensive that he has no right to be heard, and the cause of the Palestinian students so righteous, they have no responsibility to respect law when preventing such a dangerous man from poisoning them with his words.
In a controversial interview, media mogul Izzy Asper made a very astute comparison between the Palestinian student group involved, and Hitler’s “brownshirts” – youth groups in early Nazi Germany who crushed dissent by disrupting and intimidating public speeches by opponents of the party. Asper hit the nail on the head with that, and in spite of his correctness (or more likely, because of it), he was heavily criticized. Those students were downtrodden minorities, fighting to make their voices heard! Not a group of ragtag thugs combating ideas and opinions with pure dumb force. How dare Asper suggest otherwise.
On the anniversary of September 11th, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien went, of all places, to Gander, Newfoundland. Nobody died in Gander last year, there were no plane crashes or collapsed buildings in Gander. What did happen in Gander was an incidental footnote to the events of that day: thousands of American planes were diverted there, and the people of that small town were kind enough to provide accommodations to the stranded passengers. The PM went to Gander yesterday to draw attention to the roll Canada played the events of Sept. 11th, and he went there to criticize the United States. Calling the US “arrogant”, and claiming they use their power to “humiliate” the powerless nations of the world. What a way to remember all the lives lost.
What we are witnessing in Canada today is a windfall of the simmering Anti-Americanism that has plagued this country’s people for decades. It used to be that Canadians were content with lamenting the amount of American television in Canada, or mocking American’s sometimes questionable knowledge of Canadian geography, but now we have developed serious a mean-streak. Canadian Universities have become simmering pots of hatred, and enemies of the free exchange of ideas. The Prime Minister uses the anniversary of the terrorist attacks to deride and insult American policy, then patting himself on the back for playing Holiday Inn to stranded travelers a year ago.
We have heard much from writers in the United States about the supposed “death of dissent” in America. As the argument goes, the war on terrorism has made it a crime to disagree with the government today, and people are afraid to speak out against the unstoppable juggernaut of military-industrial whatever.
Notwithstanding the fact that this argument’s very ubiquity is in itself a refutation of it’s thesis – that nobody dare publicly criticize the government – the sentiment has become unavoidable here in Canada. Everyone knows
that the United States an Orwellian police state. We reward mobs of student terrorists by allowing they’re violent actions to prevent world leaders from speaking– but we cast aspersions on the state of free speech in America. Rather then the much forecast death of dissent; Canada has just the opposite – a dominion of dissent. A minority of “lone voices” have been allowed to shout down the quiet but staunch support of Canadians in the war on terror. The opposing view has become the only view, promoted by a self-serving Prime Minister and chattering class of Canadians who are simultaneously bitter and aloof towards the Americans.
The war on terror has not yet come to Canadian soil, but if it does, Canadians would do well to remember who will be fighting for the freedom we now show so much contempt.