My fellow partisans: How we can yell at each other more thoughtfully – Jason Lietaer

Building on the earlier column by Ian Capstick (Today’s political partisanship is hurting Canada’s best and brightest: Ian Capstick), Jason Lietaer provides some useful categorization and do’s and don’ts):

Over the past several years, fuelled by the rise of social media and an increasingly politically divided populace around the world, excessive partisanship has flourished. It’s a growth industry. If it were a stock, you would buy. You would mortgage your house to buy and then buy a little more on margin, just to be safe.

I think most thoughtful people consider this is to be bad. The tone of the last U.S. election campaign could be compared to a raging dumpster fire, but that would be an insult to dumpsters, to fires, and to dumpster fires.

One of the men in my line of work, a genuinely nice guy named Ian Capstick, wrote a piece in Maclean’s announcing he was done with partisanship. The piece calls for more empathy, more reasoned debate and a little bit of self-awareness. It’s better for our collective mental health, he argued.

He’s right. The problem, though, is that not all of us are ready to give up partisan politics. So I wanted to take Ian’s thought further, and present a user’s guide to stopping the madness—and who better to advise on reducing partisanship than the guy who ran Stephen Harper’s war room and called a Liberal op-ed “complete and utter horses–t” on Twitter just this week? (See? A little self-awareness and humour can go a long way!)

Since most of you out there aren’t TV or radio personalities, I’ll mostly use social media examples. But for those of you who are partisans on TV and radio: we see you too.

To fix the problem, we first have to identify the problem. As I see it, there are six major kinds of partisans we all run into. We could spend weeks subdividing them into kingdom, phylum, class and species…but that’s probably a job for the minister of science.

Here are the groups we’re dealing with:

The Bot: If you’re spending your day arguing with one of these, just delete your account. You cannot be helped. These, as evidenced by their name, are not actually quite … people. The account in question may be run by the Russians, the CIA, Mossad, or just a nerd in the school lunchroom, but it doesn’t really matter. Usually the avatar is a woman in a bikini, a man whose face is obscured by a scuba mask, or it’s a picture of a bumper sticker or billboard associated with some ridiculous issue.

The Troll: Although the Troll’s actions are virtually indistinguishable from the Bot, this is an actual person. Their defining characteristics are a density that is only approached by volcanic rock, and a penchant for non-sequiturs and whataboutism (the ancient science of dismissing any follies of your own party with seemingly analogous examples from your opponents). Despite Darwinism, they are surprisingly common. This is the kind of person who sits at a family gathering insisting that the local mayor is on the take because of a zoning variance, makes fart jokes and takes the last piece of pie for good measure. They are—simply put—jerks. There is nothing to be gained by entering into a dispute with them. Do not approach unless you like to be called names, have all day to debate a fool, or are in desperate need of more Twitter followers.

The Impenetrable Wall: A true hyper-partisan, this group has never seen their preferred party make a mistake, has never seen anything from the other side that might be a good idea, and never, ever, resorts to facts to buttress an argument. Often polite and well-mannered, they are the kind of person you meet for a drink but make damn sure you’ve built in an excuse beforehand so you can leave immediately at any moment. If they try to use facts, they are out of context or flat-out wrong. Do not try to approach one of these in the wild without a net or a gun loaded with tranquilizer darts.

The Phony Listener: A close cousin to the Impenetrable Wall, but a nicer version. They have the effect of a cross between a therapist and a teacher. They are just as attached to their positions, but they are presented with a sanctimonious “more in sadness than anger” tone. Oh, there will be pats on the head and subtle bridging: “I understand your point, but I think the most important thing is…” The effect is the same: minds are not changed. Ever. If you deal with this group, try to have some fun. Call out their hypocrisies and gently make fun of their biases. It drives them crazy. Personal note: I adopt this helpful persona when I try to drive progressives mad.

The Snake In The Grass: Perhaps the most infuriating group, but possibly my favourite because I sometimes inhabit this arena when I’m feeling frisky. Usually a “semi-retired” smug politico or a still-working certified media party elite, these folks use barely perceptible language shifts to push the point of view of their side, while seemingly flying above the fray. The worst part: they really don’t even know they’re being partisan. Many inhabit the salons of Ottawa or just simply Air Canada lounges congratulating themselves on how enlightened they are. The media members from the left will generally be found signing a contract with the Trudeau government within a few months to provide communications support; on the right, they are anxiously awaiting a Doug Ford premiership so they can get raises by working in the public sector.

The Prototype: This individual considers all points of view and emotional context before making an opinion. She reacts to opponents’ arguments with empathy and self-reflection. He thinks before acting and does not get angry or intolerant. Facts are brought forward and discussed. Every interaction they are involved in is collegial, minds are sometimes changed, and everybody feels great afterward. Note: As you know, this person does not actually exist.

So how do we move from Troll down to the Prototype? I’ve got a few handy rules. Some of them I even follow myself!

Do not ascribe motives to your opponents. This is more important than all the other rules combined. It’s the root cause of most problems. If you believe in your heart that your opponents are trying to destroy the country, you are a jerk. It’s just science. I can guarantee Stephen Harper wasn’t trying to wreck the country, and Justin Trudeau isn’t either. Mulroney, Chretien or Martin: ditto. Get it out of your mind. They might have the wrong ideas in your opinion, but these people are trying to do what they believe is the right thing and got into politics for the right reasons.

Be hard on the issue, not the person. Or disagree without being disagreeable—whatever cute phrase you want to use. Treat people online as you treat your colleagues at work. Too often we treat each other online as though we are warring spouses involved in a divorce filing. Treat people with respect, and if you can’t, go throw the ball around with your kids.

Speaking of:

Get an identity outside of politics. Pick up a hobby. Take up interpretive dance. Go exercise. Go for a drink with somebody who can’t recite the names of all the current premiers. Just get off your phone. This is key for young political staffers—trust me, your life is better when politics is part of your life, not your whole life.

Get some friends on the other side. I implore you: meet some people of the opposite political persuasion. You’ll be shocked how much it will broaden your horizons. By the way, this advice goes for pretty much everything in your life. If you’re homophobic, hang out with some gay people. If you find yourself thinking racist thoughts, go meet a more diverse group of people. Shocking what you may learn.

Admit when you’re wrong. It’s tough. I get it. But it’s freeing. If you mess up, put your hand up and move on. If fewer people are entrenched, real discussions can happen.

Watch your tone. The last federal election was all about tone. It’s easy to forget these lessons. For conservatives: we got off track with our tone. For progressives: you identified it and campaigned on it almost exclusively. Don’t forget these lessons. Canadians expect a level of civility from everyone.

Media is not the enemy. For conservatives: most media doesn’t love us. Get over it. It’s not changing. For Liberals: you’re governing the country. There’s gonna be tougher questions for you. Drop the sanctimony and get back to what you do best. For the NDP: sorry guys, if you want to be considered to lead the country, the stakes are higher. You have to get ready for the scrutiny and be better.

Get off the talking points already. This is mostly for TV and radio folks, but man, it’s tiresome. Spend an extra couple of minutes to put it in your own words. Listen as much as you talk. Respond to debate. Ask a question or two of your fellow panelists. Try to say something nice about your opposition. You’ll be surprised how much better you will be.

Use the Google machine. Before you accuse somebody of bias, read what they wrote. Look online for a few objective facts. Before you beak off, just give yourself five minutes to walk away from your computer, read an article or two, and take a breath.

So there it is: A starting point for all you beginners before going to your first Partisans Anonymous meeting. A nine-point plan that could make you a happier partisan.

Ian quit cold turkey, but you don’t have to. Let’s just be better.

via My fellow partisans: How we can yell at each other more thoughtfully –

Systemic racism? Oh, there’s plenty to see here – Liz Renzetti

Good pointed column:

When the Liberal government announced it would talk to Canadians affected by systemic racism as a way to learn about it, there was a mass clapping of hands over ears across the country. “No racism here,” was the general consensus among people who have never experienced racism. “Nothing to see, move along.” Those who had experienced it, meanwhile, were getting their dusty welcome mats out of storage and putting on a pot of tea.

In all the brouhaha, this sentence from a Canadian Press story about the Liberal’s hush-hush strategy is perhaps my favourite, for the way it encapsulates both the learned deafness around the issue, and the way that a hugely important issue is being framed merely as a matter of political inconvenience: “Previous efforts to talk about racism have not gone well.”

I don’t think we need advanced degrees in sociology to understand why that is. If I were a princess sitting on vast parcels of land that I had acquired through various unseen networks that assisted my ascendance, I wouldn’t want to look too closely at the fine print on the deed, either. I, princess, would probably not support any close scrutiny that might deprive me of my lovely land. I would want to burn the fine print in my giant hearth. I would point to all the other princes and princesses who had never had a problem acquiring their masses of land as evidence that the land-management system was working quite well, thank you.

And all those people who somehow didn’t get any land from their parents, old friends, parents’ old friends, and land merchants who only sell to people whose names they can pronounce? Well, those people just need to work harder and fit in a bit better. Also, their complaints are too loud. Hush, now. Royalty is trying to sleep.

It’s painful to listen, I get that. There’s so much noise out there. But if you choose to listen to viewpoints that might be new to you, you’ll hear some fascinating and disturbing revelations about this country we love so much. Consider the report of a United Nations working group that consulted across Canada in 2016 and uncovered a legacy of anti-black racism that exists to this day, preventing many Canadians from achieving fair outcomes in education, housing and employment: “Canada’s history of enslavement, racial segregation and marginalization of African Canadians has left a legacy of anti-Black racism and had a deleterious impact on people of African descent.”

As Robyn Maynard writes in her 2017 book Policing Black Lives, this can be a difficult proposition to reconcile with our ideas of ourselves as tolerant, fair and founded on meritocracy: “Anti-black racism in Canada has been continually reconfigured to adhere to national myths of racial tolerance.” She then carefully lays out evidence of how this is so – how the criminal justice, education and social-welfare systems continue to discriminate against people in the black community. As she writes at the end of her book, “Reforms that do not also challenge the underlying systemic racism that creates disparities in the distribution of wealth and power in the first place are unlikely to effect meaningful change.”

This should not be a surprise. If anyone has read the barest minimum about carding or police profiling, or taken any interest in the systemic oppressions facing Indigenous people, from the disproportionate number of children in care to the lack of funding to support education and health care for those children, the idea that we live in a utopia of equal outcomes is absurd.

The work to reveal these disparities has been done: It’s been done, almost entirely, by people from racialized communities, which is why it’s doubly galling when white Canadians who have never once had to worry about being discriminated against on the basis of race refuse to listen. I think of what Simone de Beauvoir wrote 70 years ago in The Second Sex: ″There’s no good reason to believe men when they try to defend privileges whose scope they cannot even imagine.″ Being blind to your own advantages is comfortable, but it’s hardly honest. That feather bed you’re sleeping on? Maybe you didn’t actually earn it.

And for the people who do the hard lifting to reveal these unpleasant realities, the reward is often abuse. Take a look some time at the comments on the Twitter feeds of Indigenous or black activists and journalists who write on racial issues. You’ll need to put on a Hazmat suit before you do.

When Liberal MP Iqra Khalid sponsored a motion to study Islamophobia and racial discrimination in 2016, she was threatened with death and called a terrorist sympathizer. Critics of the motion she introduced, M-103, insisted it would crush free speech in the country and open the door for sharia law. Astonishingly, Canadians can (and do) still flap their gums at will, and can tune into talk radio to find people just like them flapping their gums in unison. There is, as yet, no sign of sharia councils taking over the local Tim Hortons.

Now, another woman of colour (perhaps the pattern is becoming clear) is facing a backlash for speaking up about systemic racism. Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, who speaks frankly about the discrimination she hears about and encounters, has herself been called a racist for her outspokenness. Many supporters came to Ms. Caesar-Chavannes’s defence this week, which was a small ray of hope. Because when right-wing male commentators declare themselves experts on black women’s lives and experiences of discrimination, we have indeed tumbled down a rabbit hole. Or perhaps we haven’t: We’re just where we’ve always been, and that’s the problem.

The systemic racism consultation has been framed as a political problem for the Liberals, which seems like the worst kind of short-term thinking. I don’t actually care whether it’s a political problem; that’s for the Liberals to worry about. It’s a Canadian problem, and it’s not going away, even if we cover our eyes and ears and pretend there’s nothing there.

via Systemic racism? Oh, there’s plenty to see here – The Globe and Mail

Robert Fulford: How the alt-right’s godfather transformed our world (not in a good way)

Some useful history:

It smells like fascism sometimes but the odour also makes you think of a seminar dominated by not-quite-bright freshmen who have been instructed to spill out their silliest political ideas. It’s at best a fringe movement, without leaders, membership cards or for that matter many followers.

But in the riotous, anger-drenched hothouse of the internet, alt-right somehow became a digital success. Its adherents have nothing in common but the concepts they love to hate — liberalism, multiculturalism, free trade and political correctness. Alt-right was rarely even mentioned two years ago but now it’s a rare day when it doesn’t show up somewhere on our computer screens.

Where did this phenomenon begin its life? The godfather of alt-right, a major source of its ideas and attitudes, has been identified as Paul Gottfried, a philosophy professor emeritus at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. For years he nourished thoughts that seemed at best eccentric but now form everyday conversation online. He was against globalism, the “therapeutic welfare state,” the Civil Rights Act and most of the other obsessions of the left. He’s obviously an elitist, but at the same time he favours the populist revolt, though he doesn’t see that as a contradiction.

As a man of right-wing views, why wouldn’t he join the traditionally right-wing Republican Party? His answer reveals the hurt feelings that explain part of alt-right’s appeal: “It has treated us, in contrast to such worthies as black nationalists, radical feminists, and open-border advocates, as being unfit for admittance into the political conversation. We are not viewed as honourable dissenters but depicted as subhuman infidels or ignored in the same way as one would a senile uncle who occasionally wanders into one’s living room.”

Gottfried is one of those few intellectuals who support Donald Trump. Before Trump appeared, people who read books and yet held right-of-right opinions were spiritually homeless.

Richard Spencer wasn’t homeless when he met Gottfried, but they recognized each other as natural allies. Gottfried became Spencer’s mentor, and Spencer, much younger and more energetic, became a star in the firmament he’d created. As Spencer’s eminence increased, they agreed to call their movement alt-right because they believed the world needed an alternative to the Republicans. Conservative or not, Spencer is no admirer of such heroes as William F. Buckley Jr. and Ronald Reagan.

For an advocate anxious to get his theories across, Spencer has a snotty way of talking to people who disagree with him. On YouTube we see him telling an African-American that Africans have benefited from white supremacy. “How can you deny that?” he says, clearly annoyed. What he wants to say, we can tell, is something like: “Don’t you know I’m much smarter than you?”

Spencer claims not to be what many call him — a white supremacist. Instead, he insists he’s a member of “the identitarian movement.” Since hardly anyone has even heard of that, we have to assume he wants to create something less threatening than white supremacy. He recommends instead a future nation for a “dispossessed white race” — the term for it is white ethnostate.

He can become a geeky bore when he sets out to explain that in the U.S., white men are the victims of frightful prejudice in the job market. His complaints also reach other shores. He’s called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” of non-whites in Europe to avoid what he claims is the coming destruction of European culture. Europe is less interested in him than he is in Europe. He’s been banned from the U.K. and from 22 of 28 European Union member states.

Spencer was a major speaker last August at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., when far-right extremists battled with counter-protesters (called antifa, meaning anti-fascists) and one woman was killed. White nationalists, neo-Confederates, Klansmen and neo-Nazis were there, apparently on Spencer’s side. Marchers chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans and carried swastikas, Confederate battle flags, and anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic banners. Since then Spencer’s speaking engagements have been cancelled by universities that complained they couldn’t afford to hire security guards to deal with riots he might provoke.

Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville attracted attention when he claimed there were “very fine people on both sides” of the conflict. He seemed to be saying that Klan members and neo-Nazis were morally equivalent to those who protested against them. If Spencer later realized that alt-right had reached a highly dangerous place, one he couldn’t control, he said nothing about it. On the other hand, he’s been relatively quiet lately. Perhaps he’s thinking things over.

Source: Robert Fulford: How the alt-right’s godfather transformed our world (not in a good way)

There is nothing wrong with a census question about citizenship | The Sacramento Bee

The contrary opinion by Marc Thiessen (thankfully, the citizenship question in Canada has never been controversial and has been around for a long time):

The Trump administration is being sued over its plans to include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census, which California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says “is not just a bad idea – it is illegal.”

No, it’s not. There is nothing wrong with asking about citizenship. Canada asks a citizenship question on its census. So do Australia and many other U.S. allies. The U.S. government asked about citizenship for 130 years – from 1820 to 1950 – as part of the decennial “short form” census and continued to do so in the “long form” survey – distributed to 1 in 6 people – through 2000, when the long form was replaced by the annual American Community Survey. The ACS goes to about 2.6 percent of the population each year and asks about citizenship to this day.

So why are many on the left up in arms over a question that should be relatively uncontroversial? Answer: Money and power. Democrats are worried that adding a citizenship question will dampen participation in the census by illegal immigrants, reducing the total population count in the Democratic-leaning metropolitan areas where illegal immigrants are largely concentrated. Because census data is used to determine the distribution of federal funds, that could decrease the cities’ share of more than $675 billion a year in federal funding. And because census data is also used to create and apportion congressional seats, Democrats fear that if illegal immigrants don’t participate it could shift power from Democratic cities to rural communities, which tend to vote Republican.

At least, that’s Democrats’ theory. But there is no evidence that a citizenship question would dramatically impact census participation. The census is not like a telemarketing survey where people have the option of adding their names to a “do not call” list. Everyone is required by law to respond. If a household does not fill out the census form, then census workers visit that household to gather census data. If they still cannot get a household to cooperate, nonrespondents can be fined or prosecuted – though in practice they rarely are. Usually, the Census Bureau instead asks neighbors about the household in order to get as much accurate information as possible. This may add costs to the census, but it is not likely to produce inaccurate data.

Moreover, if asking about citizenship is a deterrent to participation by illegal immigrants, then what about the existing census question that asks whether respondents are “of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” – the only ethnic group specifically called out. Respondents are required by law to tell the government whether they are of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or other Hispanic origin, which they are required to list (”print origin, for example, Argentinean, Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, Spaniard, and so on”). If that does not deter the participation of many illegal immigrants, how would a question on citizenship?

There is no good reason not to answer the census, whether one is here legally or illegally. As the Census Bureau points out, “It is against the law for any Census Bureau employee to disclose or publish any census or survey information that identifies an individual or business .?.?. the FBI and other government entities do not have the legal right to access this information.” Furthermore, the proposed question is about citizenship, not legal status. This question should not be a deterrent to participation for anyone.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that some illegal immigrants do decide not to participate in the 2020 Census. So what? Illegal immigrants are here illegally. If they choose to violate U.S. law yet again by refusing to participate in the census because of a perfectly legitimate question about citizenship, that’s not the U.S. government’s fault.

This is a losing issue for Democrats. They are effectively arguing that sanctuary cities should be rewarded with more federal money for interfering with the federal enforcement of our immigration laws and turning themselves into magnets for illegal immigrants. And Democrats, who claim to be deeply concerned about foreign interference in our democracy, seem to have no problem with foreign interference when it comes to noncitizens in the United States illegally affecting the distribution of seats in Congress. If Democrats want to make that argument to the American people, go for it. It will further alienate millions of voters who abandoned the Democratic Party in the 2016 election.

via There is nothing wrong with a census question about citizenship | The Sacramento Bee

The Census’s New Citizenship Question Could Hurt Communities That Are Already Undercounted | FiveThirtyEight

Good detailed and balanced analysis:

After a long career as a banker and investor, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is no doubt familiar with cost-benefit analyses. That seems to have carried over to his political work. In a memo declaring that the 2020 census would ask U.S. inhabitants whether they are U.S. citizens,1 he wrote, “I find that the need for accurate citizenship data and the limited burden that the reinstatement of the citizenship question would impose outweigh fears about a potentially lower response rate.” The inclusion of the question was a request of the Justice Department, which says that it needs the information to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

But Ross isn’t the only one weighing costs against benefits when it comes to the census — respondents do it as well. Demographers and civil rights groups are concerned that under a president who has called for a ban on Muslims and immigrants from certain countries, dramatically reduced the number of refugees allowed into the country and cracked down on undocumented immigrants without criminal records, a citizenship question will push more people to decide that the risks of responding accurately to the questionnaire, or responding at all, outweigh the benefits. And the groups that seem most likely to be put off from responding — immigrants, members of households with immigrants, people living in poverty, among others — are the same ones that are already at highest risk of being uncounted.

There’s a lot at stake: The census has been used for hundreds of years to determine how many U.S. House members each state will have,2 and it currently helps determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending is divvied up. “The risk that really troubles me is that there’s a big undercount and then there’s a big lack of representation,” said John Thompson, who was director of the U.S. Census Bureau until he resigned last year (the bureau is still without a director).

Many groups were already less likely than others to respond to the census. Some of the non-response trends are geographical. The rural South and the Texas-Mexico border, for example, had many areas with low response rates during the last census, in 2010, according to data from the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center.

But there are pockets with low response rates almost everywhere, said Steven Romalewski, director of the center’s mapping service. “Every state has them,” he said. “Most congressional districts have them. It’s urban, rural and suburban, and they are scattered throughout the country.”

That’s at least partly because there are differences in mail-in response rates among demographic groups. African-Americans and Hispanics respond at lower rates than non-Hispanic white people. Immigrants (particularly the undocumented), people who rent their homes and those living in poverty have been less likely to mail back the form.

Those are also some of the groups that have historically been undercounted. For example, young children — the group most likely to be undercounted – disproportionately live in households with parents who are young, who earn poverty wages, and who are Hispanic or African-American.

The citizenship question could exacerbate the problems of non-response and undercounting. In pre-census focus groups, respondents have expressed concerns that other government agencies will be able to access data related to immigration and that it could harm their residency status (even if they are authorized). Community groups across the country have been educating undocumented immigrants and their families about their rights, encouraging them not to let law enforcement officials into their homes. This could make it more difficult for census workers to access households. It’s not just the undocumented who are at risk of not responding or not showing up on the census. The 23 million non-citizensliving in the U.S. often live with U.S. citizens as well — if the door doesn’t open, citizens are at risk of not showing up in the census, too.

Researchers believe that a resistance to sharing any personal information and the fear that one’s information will not be secure are among the reasons that people don’t respond to the census. Lawmakers themselves, most recently Republicans, have expressed concerns about the broad nature of census questions, calling as recently as this decade to end the American Community Survey — an annual survey also conducted by the Census Bureau that does ask about citizenship status. We don’t know how much public fears and political rhetoric have affected people’s willingness to participate in the census over time, but we do know that when the bureau began spending millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to assuage those concerns (“Your answers are protected by law”), response rates went up.

There’s a tradeoff between privacy and accuracy, said Kenneth Prewitt, who was census director from 1998 to 2001. The more infringement there is on information that people view as private, the less accurate the results will be. And this close to the 2020 survey, it’s likely not only the citizenship question that puts the census at risk, Prewitt said. That the census is now mired in a national political conversation about immigration, as well as various court cases pushing to keep the question off the survey, polarizes it in a way that could hurt response rates.

We don’t know whether the addition of the citizenship question will make the data that the census collects less accurate as a whole, though census workers have heard an alarming increase in concerns around immigration and privacy in focus groups conducted in advance of 2020. We can’t know what the question may do because it hasn’t been tested in a way that follows standard scientific practice, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, who is a former staff director for the U.S. House census oversight subcommittee and now works as a consultant. In surveying, many things can change response rates and the truthfulness of responses, including the order of questions, the wording on instructions and the way it’s laid out visually. The only way to know how well a question will work is by testing it repeatedly, over a number of years, she said.

“It is somewhat puzzling, in my opinion, that Secretary Ross — who is a well-respected businessman — would agree to move forward with something that I’m sure he knows in any other setting, whether scientific or business, wouldn’t pass muster in terms of readiness,” Lowenthal said.

But even though a citizenship question hasn’t been tested for the current census (or in the current political environment), there’s good reason to believe the answers will be inaccurate for those who do fill out the form, at least among non-citizens. According to Ross’s memo, some 30 percent of non-citizen respondents on the American Community Survey are believed to give incorrect responses.

There’s no good way to fix the census if there is a problematic count — we’re stuck with it for a decade. In the late 1990s, the bureau floated plans to use statistical methods to make up for chronic undercounts of groups like kids, renters and certain minority groups. The House sued, and the Supreme Court ultimately ruled that because of the way the Census Act is written, statistical sampling can’t be used for apportionment. The census is a one-shot deal.

More than a dozen states are suing to block the citizenship question from appearing on the 2020 census. And civil rights groups say they are holding out hope that Congress, which has jurisdiction over the survey, will intervene.

In the end, as Ross seemed to hint at, the citizenship question is about tradeoffs. It may provide additional information about the number of citizens and non-citizens in the U.S., but only if people respond. Because the question hasn’t been tested, understanding how it will affect the outcome is difficult. But a chorus of experts, including people who have worked at the Census Bureau, say that there’s real cause for concern and that our representation at the federal level is at stake.

via The Census’s New Citizenship Question Could Hurt Communities That Are Already Undercounted | FiveThirtyEight

Today’s political partisanship is hurting Canada’s best and brightest: Ian Capstick

While written in the context of partisan politics, some broader lessons for us all in terms of the need for reflection, empathy and being open to others:

For eight years, I was a commentator on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics, speaking on issues ranging from the state of the economy to breaking-news stories. My job, in effect, was to think analytically about the political issues of the day, and predict where things would go. Yet something I couldn’t predict was just how much partisanship would have a profound effect on my life.

It was, in effect, making me sick.

I realized it after an awkward on-air back-and-forth led to a heated off-air interaction with our guest host, Terry Milewski. He was asking about NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s condemnations of violence as he grappled with reports about his attendance at Sikh independence rallies, and though I felt I’d given a solid answer, he kept pressing me on the issue.

Ultimately, he kept his cool—and I did not.

Over and over on the show, I have railed against entitlement—and yet there I was, berating a semi-retired award-winning journalist in the commercial break. Angry or not, right or wrong, I knew in that moment it’s not who I wanted to be. No matter how legitimate my issue might have been with his questions, I lost any real ability to address it once I’d led with anger instead of empathy. But why was I so upset?

After that encounter, I reviewed clips from various years, and watched myself over the last year experience small lapses in attention on air; forgetting familiar political words and remote locations was especially distracting.

For the first time, I recognized some of my signature knee-jerk confrontational behaviour on- and off-air was because of what therapists call rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD), or an acute sensitivity to criticism that is found in many adults with attention deficit disorder. I had let my routines slip, my self-care slide and the constant barrage of negativity overwhelm me.

As I reflected on these moments with family and friends, I realized how similar my entitlement and anger was to the actions of many of the politicians and staff who had berated me—online and off—for whatever they saw fit.

I noticed, ultimately, that I was failing to comment with empathy. I decided to leave the show on Mar. 20.

Empathy is fundamental, both personally and for our lives at large. The ability to see value in two diametrically opposed ideas is critical to creating a thriving, pluralistic democracy.

But partisan politics in the social media age is increasingly leaving little room for contemplation. Political parties seek out smart people who have been encouraged to think outside of the box for their entire careers, and then shoehorn them into the smallest of “message boxes” and expect them to cease thinking for themselves. When debate becomes about taking entrenched sides, intransigence and invective become the order of the day.

That empathy seems to be missing even when it comes to debating ideas with people on the same side. Look no further than how Hamilton MP David Christopherson was just treated online and off for breaking ranks with the NDP caucus in voting against new rules for the Canada Summer Jobs program, which asks groups to attest that their core mandate respects the values of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including abortion rights. As a result, the NDP has punted Christopherson from his role on the standing committee on procedure and House affairs, responsible not only for the rules and practices of the House but also passing judgement on MP conflicts of interest; there is hardly a better parliamentarian for this critical (and equally mind-numbingly boring) committee assignment.

Christopherson is an ally of LGBTQ people; he is pro-choice and an ardent feminist. He has stuck his neck out on more issues than most in his caucus have even voted on. And yet last week, the leadership of the NDP felt it needed to punish him for articulating a carefully considered and nuanced view.

“If the law is an ass, you have right to say so,” Christopherson told his local paper in Hamilton. “You have to obey the Charter; you have to obey the laws. But you don’t have to bow and scrape and commit fealty. You don’t have to say, ‘I love the law.’ ”

He’s right, of course—but you wouldn’t know it from the state of political debate in Canada today.

Progressives rightly railed against a values test when former MP Kellie Leitch demanded it be imposed on refugees and immigrants—yet they were strangely silent when the values test Liberals imposed had answers that aligned with their values. And now, with Christopherson’s punishment costing him his job on the important multi-party standing committee, the whole system loses out.

(You have to wonder if Dave will be scrolling Facebook while serving his extra hours in House of Commons debates wistfully hitting “like” on photos of his Layton-era colleagues relaxing in Florida, wondering how the hell he ended up in the back row and not on a beach.)

Christopherson is just the latest to fall victim to this unwillingness to see compromise and collaboration as strengths instead of weaknesses. And in the eyes of many partisans, I’m guilty of this too. Despite ostensibly providing analysis from the lens of a proponent of the NDP, I’ve been criticized for providing too much nuance and context and not enough sharp jabs and verbal left-hooks. It’s why I was thrilled I didn’t have to talk about any of the Christopherson affair on television.

In Ottawa, simply changing your mind is seen as professional frailty, and as disloyalty to your party. Once the talking points are issued, only the bravest stray from the script. Social media has only handed political strategists more tools to monitor MPs and opinion-makers and an additional channel with which to influence their opinions.

Social networks can leverage network effect and economies of scale. Their ability to grow their membership is what makes these corporations attractive to investors and potentially very dangerous to democracy and our mental health: they’re draining empathy from the very people who make up the user base of the networks.

While the corporations offering the so-called free services are benefiting from the economy of scale, so are those who use the tools to cause emotional harm and pain. Partisan sock puppets, trolls and bots make sure of that. The very technology and algorithms that were supposed to allow people to come together are now regularly being used to drive people apart.

This is part of the reason official Ottawa is in the midst of a mental health crisis—and at the root of it is unhealthy partisanship and how it’s being amplified online. Our political capital’s practice of forced conformity and its tough social media climate is affecting the long-term health of some of our country’s brightest.

Understanding and addressing our personal and political histories and how they intertwine is part of how we can heal current-day trauma. To foster this healing, we must be able to have honest and open dialogue about the incredible pain and suffering the very institutions of Parliament and government have caused to so many.

In my case, it means I need time and space to be more reflective, less quick to judgement, and more deeply informed about the subjects I’m commenting on. I need to learn to be angry less often and lead with empathy.

We need to encourage collaboration over conflict. We need to spend more time eating together and less time berating each other. Parliament needs more joint committees to enable work across both Houses.

Pundits need to stop pretending like things have never happened before: historical context is a powerful tool for helping to understand the political reality of today. We need to encourage the telling and reframing of not only the great stories of confederation, but the difficult and painful stories as well. Without this space for reflection, we are bound to repeat the same political mistakes.

There isn’t yet room for complexity in political opinion. But maybe if we spend a little bit more time trying to understand each other rather than tear each other down, we all might get to a place that embraces the challenges of our nation with a bit more grace.

via Today’s political partisanship is hurting Canada’s best and brightest –

‘I’m not trying to be a doctor. I just want to cut men’s hair’

Seems excessive. Doubt that my local Italian Canadian barber who has been cutting hair for years needed such certification:

With a diploma and more than 15 years of experience as a barber in Iraq, Benjamin Gbo’s dream is to open his own shop in Toronto to support his family. But he can’t even cut anyone’s hair in a salon without a hairstylist licence in Ontario.

A native of Mosul, Gbo has made five failed attempts at the hairstylist exam mandated by the Ontario College of Trades, the professional regulatory body of 23 compulsory skilled trades in the province.

“There are too many rules that stop you from working as a hairstylist here. They test you on all these names of bacterial infections and medical terms that I have never heard of,” said the 43-year-old, who fled to Canada in 2008 and was granted asylum shortly after.

“I’m not trying to be a chemist or a doctor. I just want to cut men’s hair and shave their beard to make them look nice, and make a living.”

According to the regulatory body, there are approximately 35,000 certified hairstylists in the province. Each must pass the multiple-choice exam administered by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development in their apprenticeship offices across Ontario.

All candidates write the same interprovincial exam, developed by licensed hairstylists across Canada to “reflect the training and on the job competencies of the occupation.” The college also enforces the legislation to ensure workers and employers are in compliance through education, warnings, notices of contravention and fines up to $5,000 for first offence and $10,000 for second offence.

Anyone who wants to become a hairstylist must study the Standard Textbook of Cosmetology published by Milady Publishing for the licensing exam, which contains 120 questions divided into eight parts: occupational skills; hair and scalp care; cutting; styling; chemically waving and relaxing hair; colour; wigs, hairpieces and extensions; sales and marketing. The passing score is 70 per cent. It doesn’t matter if someone like Gbo just wants to cut and shave men’s hair; they need to take the same exam.

Some immigrant hairstylists do go straight for the exam while others choose to do 3,020 hours of apprenticeship and 480 hours of in-school training in Ontario so they can practise and make a living as they prepare for the test.

Emilina Garzon finished a two-year college diploma in hairstyling as well as manicure and pedicure in Colombia and worked there for three years before being sponsored to Canada by her husband in 2010.

She started her apprenticeship in Toronto in 2015 and has taken a two-month full-time refresher course and tried some mock exams for practice.

“In Colombia, we also have classroom and practical training. We are tested on our skills,” said the 35-year-old Bogota native, as she did a buzz cut on a Bay St. client at a downtown barber shop. “This licensing exam is hard.”

The college does allow candidates to have an interpreter and dictionary at the exam, but Gbo said it doesn’t help when the interpreter has no knowledge of the technical and professional hairstyling terms in English and candidates’ mother tongue.

“You have to pay for the translator and they can’t translate the terms because they can’t be found in the dictionary,” said Gbo, who has paid more than $1,000 in exam fees and translator help. “I don’t do women’s hair, colour or perm. Why can’t they do the licensing like the driver’s licence with G1, G2 and G3 (classification)?”

San San Maw, owner of Ivan Hair Salon where Garzon is an apprentice, said she appreciates the regulator’s job is to protect consumers, but as an employer, she is more interested in the skills of her hairstylists than their scores in a multiple-choice exam.

“I had to fire three hairstylists. They all passed the exam and got their (licensing) certificates, but they didn’t know how to cut hair and my customers just walked out,” said Maw, a Burmese immigrant with a university degree in physics, who failed the licensing exam herself three times.

Starting Jan. 1 this year, new apprentices registered in the hairstylist apprenticeship program are required to complete a practical assessment as well as the written exam to obtain certification, said the regulator, but the first practical assessments won’t be available until early next year.

“The College of Trades recognizes that the profile of Ontario’s labour market is changing,” said the College’s CEO George Gritziotis.

“We are working to build partnerships with community groups, immigrant serving agencies, industry stakeholders, apprenticeship training organizations, and governments to undertake initiatives that provide these workers the supports and tools needed to ensure we are able to adequately assess their skills and prior work experience.”

The regulator said it does work with registrants to find solutions to ensure practitioners have the qualifications needed to safely and competently do the work and are successful in passing the exam, but “a fully trained hairstylist is expected to know the terms used in their profession.”

Source: ‘I’m not trying to be a doctor. I just want to cut men’s hair’

Richmond woman’s petition calls for end of birth tourism in Canada

While the overall national numbers are, this has been an ongoing issue in Richmond. The call for better national data makes sense as does regulation (provincial medicare data could likely capture this – see ICYMI: Petition to Parliament calls for end to automatic citizenship to end ‘birth tourism’):

A petition by a group of Metro Vancouver residents is demanding Ottawa crack down on birth tourism in Canada.

Richmond resident Kerry Starchuk started the electronic petition. She has been campaigning on this issue for the last two years since discovering a neighbouring house was a so-called “birth house,” which caters to pregnant women who come to Canada to give birth so their child is automatically granted Canadian citizenship.

“It’s wrong. It’s jumping the queue,” said Starchuk of the practice, an increasing trend in Richmond where the majority of birth tourists hail from China.

In 2016-2017, 384 babies were born to non-residents at Richmond Hospital, said Vancouver Coastal Health — a significant jump from 18 cases in 2010. Between 2014 and 2017, 1,020 newborns were born to non-residents.

The rise in birth tourism has spawned an underground economy with unregulated agencies and brokers offering services to pregnant clients, including airport pickups, room and board, and assistance with obtaining documents such as a Canadian passport for the infant.

For Starchuk, birth tourism undermines the value of Canadian citizenship by essentially buying a lifetime’s privilege for the price of a hospital procedure, housing costs, and a return plane ticket.

“It’s not truthful, it’s deceitful and it’s short-sighted,” she said. “We don’t know what the consequences are going to be in 18 years. Are we prepared for it?”

The petition, identified as E-1527 in the House of Commons, is sponsored by Liberal Richmond MP Joe Peschisolido. It calls on the federal government to denounce birth tourism; determine the extent of the practice in Canada; and implement measures to reduce and eliminate it. It has received more than 620 signatures as of Tuesday.

Gary Liu, whose family immigrated to Taiwan when he was a teen, said most immigrants are also against birth tourism.

“Almost all of them despise this kind of practice,” said Liu, a Burnaby resident. “This is a very unfair practice to all immigrants.”

The petition is Starchuk’s second attempt to get the federal government to take action.

Her first petition in 2016, sponsored by Conservative MP Alice Wong, urged the government to end jus soli, or automatic birthright citizenship.

It received more than 8,800 signatures and was presented to the House of Commons, but went nowhere because the government felt revoking birthright citizenship would require a major overhaul of how Canadian citizenship is granted.

Liu said the rejection of that petition in 2016 was seen by some as an endorsement by the federal government of birth tourism. He hopes this second petition will gain more traction.

Starchuk said birth tourism happens across Canada, but are most prevalent in Richmond and Toronto, where the women are usually from Russia or Nigeria.

In 2016, the B.C. government said it was aware of 26 birth houses in the province.

Starchuk said more data is needed to get a grip on the extent of the practice in Canada.

“We’re hoping to have Canada-wide statistics,” she said. “We don’t know if it could be happening in West Vancouver or Langley.”

Vancouver Coastal Health spokeswoman Carrie Stefanson said figures for babies born to non-residents in other hospitals in the region are not immediately available, but said those numbers would be small.

The health authority “does not endorse or support marketing of maternity tourism and we are concerned about the impact it is having on our ability to provide quality services to every resident maternity patients,” Stefanson said.

Women who intend to use Richmond hospital to give birth are asked to pre-register six to eight weeks before their due date in order to enable to hospital to plan ahead.

Stefanson said Vancouver Coastal Health is committed to collecting payment from non-residents who use medical services, but wouldn’t deny urgent care based on a person’s ability to pay.

Peschisolido, who is in Ottawa, denounced birth tourism in a statement issued to media on Tuesday.

“Birth tourism is wrong,” he said. “Women are being exploited by organized efforts to take advantage of the system.”

Source: Richmond woman’s petition calls for end of birth tourism in Canada

Christian Colleges Are Tangled In Their Own LGBT Policies : NPR

Interesting – belief grappling with the reality of people:

Conservative Christian colleges, once relatively insulated from the culture war, are increasingly entangled in the same battles over LGBT rights and related social issues that have divided other institutions in America.

Students and faculty at many religious institutions are asked to accept a “faith statement” outlining the school’s views on such matters as evangelical doctrine, scriptural interpretation and human sexuality. Those statements often include a rejection of homosexual activity and a definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Changing attitudes on sexual ethics and civil rights, however, are making it difficult for some schools, even conservative ones, to ensure broad compliance with their strict positions.

“Millennials are looking at the issue of gay marriage, and more and more they are saying, ‘OK, we know the Bible talks about this, but we just don’t see this as an essential of the faith,’ ” says Brad Harper, a professor of theology and religious history at Multnomah University, an evangelical Christian institution in Portland, Ore.

LGBT students at Christian schools are also increasingly likely to be open about their own sexual orientation or gender identity.

At Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., junior Sam Koster, who identifies as queer, finds fellow students to be generally tolerant.

“People I’ve met in the English Department,” Koster says, “even in my dorms, they’re like, ‘Oh, you’re queer? OK, cool. Do you want to go get pizza?’ ”

Staff and faculty at these Christian schools have to balance a need to attend to their students’ personal and spiritual needs with a commitment to their schools’ faith statements or official positions on sexuality.

“You’ve got those two values,” says Mary Hulst, senior chaplain at Calvin. “We love our LGBT people. We love our church of Jesus Christ. We love Scripture. So those of us who do this work are right in the middle of that space. We are living in the tension.”

Calvin College is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, which holds that “homosexual practice … is incompatible with obedience to the will of God as revealed in Scripture.” Hulst leads Bible study groups with her LGBT students and discusses with them the passages that refer to same-sex relationships.

“Those are the clobber passages,” Koster says. “They’re used to clobber queer kids back into being straight.”

Koster was troubled by those Bible verses at first but eventually became comfortable with a devout Christian identity and joined the Gay Christian Network.

“When I realized that my faith wasn’t necessarily about the [Christian Reformed] Church, and it wasn’t even necessarily about the Bible but about my relationship with God and that God is all-encompassing and loving, I felt very free,” Koster says.

Koster says Hulst helped guide that faith journey, but Hulst herself is still torn between her love for her LGBT students and her own understanding that the Bible does not really allow them to act on their sexual orientation.

“It’s a place where you need to be wise,” Hulst says. “I tell them I want to honor Scripture, but I also honor my LGBT brothers and sisters.”

It doesn’t always work out.

“Someone from the LGBT community will say, ‘If you will not honor the choices I make with my life, if I choose a partner and get married, then you’re not actually honoring me.’ I can understand that,” Hulst says, grimacing. “I can see how they might come to that conclusion.”

Legal entanglement

In addition to changing social and cultural attitudes, conservative religious schools face a changing legal environment regarding LGBT issues. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

Though the language does not refer to sexual orientation or gender identity, some courts have interpreted Title VII as protecting LGBT individuals and the recent trend has been in a pro-LGBT direction.

Christian colleges and universities also have to consider Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

As with Title VII, the question of whether “sex” under Title IX should be interpreted as referring to sexual orientation is hotly debated.

In April 2015, during a Supreme Court argument over the constitutional rights of LGBT individuals, Justice Samuel Alito noted that Bob Jones University in South Carolina had lost its tax-exempt status because of its prohibition on interracial dating and marriage.

“Would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” Alito asked then-U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr.

“It’s certainly going to be an issue,” Verrilli answered. “I don’t deny that.”

The exchange alarmed officials at conservative religious schools, for which the loss of tax-exempt status or federal funding would be devastating. Their anxiety deepened a year later, when the Obama administration notified colleges and universities that it interpreted Title IX as prohibiting discrimination “based on a student’s gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status.” Christian schools saw that letter as threatening a loss of federal funding if they refused to accommodate students who identify as transgender and want to be housed with other students who share their gender identity.

Upon taking office, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama directive, but some leaders at Christian schools still fear the cultural and legal trends are in favor of expanded LGBT rights on their campuses, which could mean their policies on sexual behavior could face serious challenges.

Educational institutions can currently apply for an exemption from the nondiscrimination provisions of Title VII by demonstrating that those provisions contradict their religious beliefs, but opinions vary on whether those exemptions will protect Christian colleges that seek to maintain strict student and employee policies relating to sexual orientation.

“Religious exemptions are exemptions because they are for small groups of people, and it doesn’t necessarily undermine the full purpose of the law to have them,” says Shapri LoMaglio, vice president for government affairs at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. “I think case law is upholding the idea that that exemption is the right thing in order to be faithful to the Constitution.”

Other Christian college leaders, however, fear that the application of civil rights law to LGBT individuals could eventually jeopardize religious exemptions.

“Four years down the line, eight years down the line, depending on the makeup of the Supreme Court, depending on who is president, I can see the gay/transgender issue being pushed in a way that would seek to make Christian colleges either surrender their federal funding or change their position and conform with the wider consensus,” says Carl Trueman, a professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.

Preparing for revoked funding

In a recent article in the journal First Things, titled “Preparing for Winter,” Trueman argued that conservative Christian schools need to begin planning for a “worst-case scenario, where not only federal money but also tax-exempt status is revoked.”

The combination of changing social attitudes and more complex legal issues were major points of discussion when the CCCU assembled representatives of more than 130 of its member institutions in Dallas in late January. College chaplains, student counselors and classroom professors reviewed how they were responding to LGBT students, while administrators and financial officers considered whether they need to prepare for more government scrutiny of their positions and policies on sexual orientation and activity.

One off-the-record session titled “Is Government Funding Replaceable?” was packed solid.

“The fear is so large in many institutions because 40 or 50 or maybe even 60 percent of their budgets are really coming from the federal government,” says Dale Kemp, the chief financial officer at Wheaton College in Illinois and the speaker at the CCCU session. “To think they could survive without that [funding] would be catastrophic.”

Brad Harper of Multnomah University, which affirms that “sexual relationships are designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between a man and a woman,” says he has seen growing anxiety about the future of federal aid at like-minded schools in recent years.

“Every single Christian institution is wondering about that, and thinking, ‘What happens if we lose government funding?’ ” he says. “Everybody has done the math about how much money you would have to raise if you lose government funding. You can’t do it.”

Just as vexing are the cultural questions, especially among the staff and faculty who work with LGBT students on a daily basis. All colleges and universities receiving federal aid are required to have a Title IX coordinator responsible for working with students who feel they have been subject to discrimination because of their sex. Whether gay or transgender students are entitled to Title IX protection is unresolved, so Title IX coordinators find themselves having to judge on their own how to respond to those students who seek their help.

“Sex has to do with identity and your gender and with who you are,” says Christine Guzman, the Title IX coordinator at Azusa Pacific University in California, “so if there’s a student who is feeling discriminated against because of their gender, then, yes, absolutely, I’m going to apply that law.”

So far, at least, Guzman is attentive to gay and transgender students despite her school’s official belief that human beings are created “as gendered beings” and that heterosexuality is “God’s design.”

At Calvin College, Hulst says the struggle to find an appropriate response to her LGBT students is among the most difficult challenges she has faced as a college chaplain.

“The suicidality of this particular population is much higher,” she notes. “The chances that they will leave the church are much higher. These [realities] weigh very heavily on me.”

via Christian Colleges Are Tangled In Their Own LGBT Policies : NPR

FATAH: Sandra Solomon’s bigotry helps the Islamists

I don’t normally post articles by Tarek Fatah given I find him overly alarmist but his critique of Sandra Solomon more than merited:

Just when the spectre of a Canadian law based on Motion 103 that would have criminalized the critique of Islam seemed to be receding, one Sandra Solomon has given Islamists a fresh lease on life. Solomon states she is an ex-Muslim convert to Christianity, saying she is a Palestinian who suffered sexual abuse in Saudi Arabia by her former husband.

Last week, Solomon visited a mosque in Mississauga where she tore up pages of the Quran and heaped abuse on worshippers, referring to the Muslim holy text as a “satanic evil book” and said she wants to see the Quran designated as “hate literature.”

Had Solomon simply stood outside the mosque with placards to criticize Islam and protest the Islamic texts that permit wife-beating and promote armed jihad, she would be in her right to do so. But that is not all what she did.

Video footage shows Solomon entered the mosque when worshipers were praying and yelled bigoted epithets. “What God do you worship? You worship Satan, that’s who Muslims worship,” she shouted as she was led out.

In a video that has since been deleted from the Internet, but captured by Global TV, Solomon speaks to the camera boasting that she has been visiting mosques for over a year. She then proceeds to rip pages out of a Quran, and places them on the windshields of cars in the parking lot.

If not hateful, at best Solomon’s behaviour was derisive, uncouth, ill-mannered, uncivil and most certainly undeserving of the cross she proudly wears as a symbol of her faith in Jesus.

On the two occasions that I have run into Solomon, she has come across as someone obsessed with herself, and seeking the attention of people around her. At an event hosted by “Muslims Against M103”, she had to be told to stop addressing the audience from the floor when she started ranting about herself.

If Solomon was protesting the alleged hatred some Muslims have for non-Muslims, then she played straight into the hands of the very people she was opposing.

Hatred cannot be fought with hate (or even love). Wisdom suggests hatred is fought only with truth backed by facts and reason. Unfortunately, Solomon has plenty of hate and totally lacks wisdom. Just a tiny bit of the latter would have made her realize that she is the agent provocateur who unwittingly serves the interests of the people she supposedly opposes.

Earlier this year my colleague Farzana Hassan wrote on these pages that the “M103 report seems to signal victory for citizens who sought to protect free speech.” Her optimism, she said, was based on the fact the wording on the M103 report “certainly appears to accede to their demand that ‘Islamophobia’ not be treated as a special case” as “twenty-nine out of the 30 recommendations in the report even avoid the nebulous and troublesome word.”

Now that Solomon has provided a fresh lease on life to ‘Islamophobia,’ Hassan’s words may well prove to be premature. Already a group The Muslim Council of Peel and some mosques say they are working with the police and “have asked for this to be investigated as a hate incident.”

As for the self-righteous Imams and Islamists who are crying “hate”, perhaps it is time for them to take stock of their own actions. At least 20 times a day, from dawn to dusk in every mosque of Canada, they should stop describing Jews as “people who are suffering the wrath of God” and Christians as people “led astray from the path of God.”

Source: FATAH: Sandra Solomon’s bigotry helps the Islamists