Why Trump Lost the Census Case

Good analysis from the right:

I’ll freely admit, I’m surprised. In April I predicted that the Trump administration would prevailin its effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form. I based my conclusion on the combination of Congress’s broad delegation of authority to the executive branch to conduct the census in the “form and content” that the secretary of commerce determines, the historical norm of including citizenship questions, and the traditional leniency of so-called arbitrary and capricious review.

Against this legal background, I believed that — like with the travel-ban case — a chaotic process would matter less than the very broad discretion granted the president by existing law. I was wrong.

Today, Justice John Roberts joined the four more progressive judges to reach a legal conclusion (articulated in a complex series of interlocking and competing concurrences and dissents) that roughly goes as follows: Including a citizenship question in the census is not “substantively invalid.” However, the Administrative Procedure Act applies, and it is “meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public.” Since the administration’s explanation for its agency’s action was “incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decisionmaking process,” the administration failed to meet its APA obligations.

The secretary of commerce had pointed to an assertion from the Department of Justice that the question would assist in voting-rights enforcement. To put it simply, the majority did not buy that explanation, finding that it was more of a rationalization: The secretary of commerce decided to include the question, went hunting for a reason, and eventually got the DOJ to help.

Quite frankly, this sounds about right. As the Court put it, “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision.” This section of the opinion is instructive:

“The record shows that the Secretary began taking steps to reinstate a citizenship question about a week into his tenure, but it contains no hint that he was considering VRA [Voting Rights Act] enforcement in connection with that project. The Secretary’s Director of Policy did not know why the Secretary wished to reinstate the question, but saw it as his task to “find the best rationale.”

A different way of putting the opinion is that the APA, at the very least, requires an honest process.

Why was this outcome different from that of the travel-ban case? In that case, the president himself offered evidence that the stated reasons for the administration’s actions were pretextual. The president himself provided evidence that anti-Muslim animus provided at least part of the justification for his order. Yet in that case the statue at issue was different. If the census statutes granted the president considerable discretion, the statute at issue in the travel ban granted him truly immense discretion, unbounded by the APA. Different statutes yield different outcomes.

So now what? There is much speculation on Twitter that the administration may have time to go back to the drawing board, conduct a proper process in accord with truthful, justifiable reasoning, and obtain legal approval in time to print the census forms.

It’s possible, but I’m skeptical. First, there are now real questions as to whether the process was improperly influenced by arguments by deceased Republican redistricting expert Thomas Hofeller that adding the citizenship question would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” Evidence of racial animus would almost certainly alter the legal calculus and require the administration to go to great lengths to show that any new process has been cleansed from any racist taint.

Plaintiffs will again challenge any effort to include the question, they’ll likely obtain injunctions in favorable jurisdictions, and then the clock will become the administration’s enemy. I could well be wrong, but I’m doubtful SCOTUS will have an opportunity to opine before that clock runs out.

There is a lesson here, one that the administration (and indeed, all litigants) would do well to remember. When engaged in conduct that’s likely to lead to litigation, make it easy for the court to rule for you. Chaos can lose cases. Evidence of disingenuousness alienates judges.

Process matters, and you always want to appear to be the most reasonable party before the court. The Trump administration has gotten away with chaos before. It did not today, and as much as conservatives may once again grow angry at Justice Roberts for joining the Court’s progressive wing, if they want to place real blame for today’s Supreme Court setback, look to the administration. Its lack of candor caught up to it, and honesty may now come too late.

Source: Why Trump Lost the Census Case

RCMP launch hate crime probe of leader of nationalist group vying for party status in federal election

We have always had some extremist parties running in elections:

RCMP in Saskatchewan have launched an investigation into an online video featuring the head of an extremist group that’s poised to become Canada’s next official political party.

The Canadian Nationalist Party, which promotes anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ views — and calls for the removal of “globalists” from the country “once and for all” — is in the final stages of applying to be able to collect tax-deductible political donations and run a slate of candidates in the upcoming federal election.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit watchdog group, has filed a formal complaint with both the RCMP and Elections Canada to try to derail the effort.

“This is a group that is pure and simple a hate group,” said Bernie M. Farber, the anti-hate network’s chair and a human rights consultant. “The way our laws stand today, there is nothing standing in their way save, right now, maybe 37 signatures to become an official political party here in Canada.”

Canadian Nationalist Party leader Travis Patron told CBC News there are no grounds to bar his group from official party status and that his members have not violated hate speech laws.

“To date, our party has not said a hateful word, we’ve caused no violence, and we’ve done nothing illegal,” he said in an email from Redvers, Sask., where he plans to run as a CNP candidate in October’s federal election.

‘Parasitic tribe’

RCMP in Saskatchewan confirmed they opened an investigation Wednesday into a video featuring Patron posted on the CNP website.

In it, Patron denounces what he describes as “the parasitic tribe” or “black sheep,” who he claims control the media and the central bank in Canada.

“What we need to do, perhaps more than anything, is remove these people once and for all from our country,” Patron says, speaking directly to the camera.

Farber acknowledged Patron makes no explicit reference to Jews but called the video hateful and “clearly” anti-Semitic.

“The kind of tropes that Jews have been subject to for much of our collective lives have been exactly the words used by Mr. Patron in this video — controlling the media, controlling the entertainment business,” said Farber, who is a former chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

“So, instead of using the word ‘Jews,’ which would immediately not just raise the ire of Canadians but would, I think, shine a spotlight for law enforcement … they’re trying to walk this fine line. They just don’t, in my view, do a very good job about it.”

Patron told CBC News his statements are directed at “globalists.”

“They go by many different names,” he said. “We refer to them simply as the globalists because they conduct their business everywhere while simultaneously calling no place in particular home. We would remove [them] from our country. We have no use for them.”

The RCMP say they are consulting hate crime specialists to determine whether Patron’s comments in the video contravene criminal laws against advocating genocide or hatred against an identifiable group.

Tax-supported party funding

Elections Canada has given the CNP until July 15 to provide 250 signed declarations from its members to become officially eligible as a federal political party.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network filed a complaint with Elections Canada last week denouncing the CNP as a hate group.

“For obvious reasons, we don’t want to see the CNP become a tax-supported (via contribution reimbursements) and officially recognized party,” the network’s complaint says.

“What can be done to prevent this neo-Nazi party from becoming an official party?”

Under the existing laws, not much.

Farber says Canada should follow countries like Germany that bar groups promoting anti-democratic views from registering in the political process.

“We have to be very careful in between finding that balance of our rights in a free and democratic society to gather and to create political parties and then balance that with hate speech and hate groups that are out there who are trying to destroy society.”

Pauline Beange, an Elections Canada expert at the University of Toronto, believes Canadian governments would be “very reluctant” to pass legislation restricting access to political participation.

“Basically anybody can apply to be registered,” she said. “They have to choose a name. They have to have a certain number of signatures. But after that, it is not Elections Canada’s job to decide who should or who should not become a political party.”

There is always a risk of extreme views on the left or right, she said, but whether the groups that espouse those views actually gain a political foothold is another matter.

“We have had parties on the extreme left like the Marxist-Leninist Party, the Communist Party of Canada. So, we have tolerated those. They have not hijacked democracy in any way, shape or form. And again, I rely on Canadian voters and their judgment.”


Members of the CNP, and supporters wearing party T-shirts, appeared at recent Pride celebrations in Hamilton and Toronto.

Patron says he’s reviewed numerous videos of violent clashes between protesters at those events and insists his supporters adhered to his party’s code of conduct, which prohibits incitement of violence and use of hateful language.

“Taking a look at the video footage [from Pride events], at least what has been released, I’m happy to see that our members acted with professionalism, and they stood by, and they did not cause any violence,” he told CBC News.

However, one video being circulated on social media from Toronto last weekend shows two men wearing CNP shirts taking part in the violence.

The clip, shot inside the Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto, shows one of the men pummelling a downed protester with a bike helmet.

Moments later, a different man wearing a CNP shirt is seen shoving a security guard.

In a video on the party’s YouTube channel, Patron calls for the defunding of Pride parades across the country. He criticizes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for “normalizing homosexuality” by appearing at Pride events.

When asked by CBC to explain his views on LGBTQ issues, he replied that homosexuality “leads to self-destruction.”

“A prerequisite for the continuity of our nationhood is that of future generations, progeny and fertility … In regards to same-sex couples, there is no biological progeny, and therefore, a nationalist government would not support such a lifestyle choice by publicly financing it.”

In a statement to CBC News, Elections Canada says the Canada Elections Act has no restrictions to bar political parties with extreme views, nor can it bar candidates or parties that are under police investigation or have a criminal record.

Only prisoners are prohibited from running for office.

Source: RCMP launch hate crime probe of leader of nationalist group vying for party status in federal election

This Canada Day, we need a new citizenship oath – The Conversation

Given the government’s failure to issue a new version of the citizenship guide, we do not know the degree to which the revisions would address these somewhat unrealistic concerns.

The revised version of the Oath proposed in C-99 was overall wordy compared to the TRC recommendation:

This Canada Day might be a good time for Canadians to think about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action. At least three of those (No. 46, 47 and 49) call on Canadians, including newcomers to Canada, to reject concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples.

But my preliminary research shows that concepts taught in the process of acquiring citizenship continue to teach new Canadians colonial relations with the land and with Indigenous peoples.

To become Canadian, immigrants to Canada have to swear or affirm allegiance to the British royal monarch:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors.”

In learning about Canada, new immigrants are taught that the Queen runs through all things Canadian. She is everywhere. Put your hands in your wallet, she is there. Walk onto any land that is outside of city boundaries, it is largely called “Crown” land.

But the Queen is a symbol of the colonization of Indigenous land, a colonization that is ongoing and is reproduced by the citizenship process.

Despite what many would like to believe, ideas of what Canada stands for are not all equitable.

What would it mean to follow the TRC calls, and study, learn and live Indigenous ways of relating to land?

Colonial citizenship

Canadian citizenship is a social construct — a concept that seems fixed but is actually created by the changing cultures and people in a society. The idea of Canadian citizenship carries ideologies and power relations that are perpetuated through forms of public pedagogy — like popular culture, education and gate-keeping systems such as the citizenship process.

To become a Canadian citizen, immigrants have to study Discover Canadaand score at least 15/20 on an exam that teaches them ways of imagining Canada. It details their expected practices and behaviours as citizens. It teaches them Canadian history.

For example:

“The arrival of European traders, missionaries, soldiers and colonists changed the native way of life forever. Large numbers of Aboriginals died of European diseases to which they lacked immunity.”

In this version of history, we are told that Indigenous people merely died from disease, not that these diseases were purposely spread by the British. We are not told that the colonizers practiced race-based genocide, starvation policies and the separation of children from their parents, through the Indian Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop and the continuing removal of Indigenous children from their families.

Another excerpt has to do with Canada’s first prime minister:

“After the first Metis uprising, Prime Minister Macdonald established the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1873 to pacify the West and assist in negotiations with the Indians.”

Actually, one of the first assignments given to the North West Mounted Police was to forcibly relocate Indigenous communities in the path of the Canadian railway and Macdonald is the architect of the Indian Residential School system.

A third excerpt uncritically explains:

“Mining remains a significant part of the Canadian economy.”

A history of death and neglect

Colonial ways of imagining and belonging to Canada and colonial relationships with Indigenous people are at the heart of injustices that Canada continues to perpetuate.

Colonization is a key driver of how the federal government continues to neglect the health and education of Indigenous children. And the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women report directly links the ongoing deaths of Indigenous women, girls and trans-people to colonial structures.

This colonial history presents a unique set of challenges for immigrants who have pledged their allegiance to a colonial queen. The citizenship exam attempts to bring new immigrants into Canada as allies of colonialism and frames Canada as a benevolent nation. How can immigrants decolonize their relationship to Canada?

Honoring indigeneity for immigrants is not just about saying we are all settlers — a term that assumes we are all white and relate to Canada in identical ways. And honouring indigeneity is not just a land acknowledgement in a ceremony — though that can be a starting point.

A new oath of citizenship

In her book, Pathways for Remembering and Recognizing Indigenous Thought in Education, University of Toronto Prof. Sandra D. Styres explains that Indigenous ways of relating to land centre on three practices: learning whose traditional lands we are on; committing to understanding stories and knowledges of those lands; and choosing to respect these stories of the land.

These Indigenous ways of relating to land are different from the colonial ones most Canadians are taught. These ways do not fit neatly with Canada’s colonial relations to the Queen to whom Canadians have pledged allegiance.

The TRC has called for a new oath of citizenship:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

Learning Indigenous philosophies

Such an oath is in the works, and would highlight immigrants as treaty people and their treaty obligations. But what of the history of colonial relations that immigrants are asked to learn and subscribe to so they can become citizens?

In 1974, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, also known as the Berger Inquiry, sought input from Indigenous nations about opening up their lands of the Yukon and the Northwest territories to a pipeline. Phillip Blake, a Dene and social worker, testified at a community hearing in 1975. His words offer a powerful philosophy for relations of belonging for those who come to settle on Indigenous land:

“We have always tried to treat our guests well, it never occurred to us that our guests would one day claim that they owned our whole house. Yet that is exactly what is happening.…White people came as visitors to our land. Suddenly they claim it as their land. They claim that we have no right to call it Indian land, land that we have occupied and used for thousands of years.…

I strongly believe that we do have something to offer your nation, however, something other than our minerals. I believe it is in the self-interest of your own nation to allow the Indian nation to survive and develop in our own way, on our own land. For thousands of years we have lived with the land, we have taken care of the land, and the land has taken care of us…

It is our greatest wish to be able to pass on this land to succeeding generations in the same condition that our fathers have given it to us.…I believe your nation might wish to see us, not as a relic from the past, but as a way of life, a system of values by which you may survive in the future. This we are willing to share.”

Source: This Canada Day, we need a new citizenship oath – The Conversation

‘Shame and humiliation’: Aceh’s Islamic law violates human rights

The part of Indonesia which belies its otherwise more moderate Islam:

Hendra, an academic in Indonesia’s semi-autonomous region of Aceh, vaguely remembers the first time he saw a public caning take place in his 20s. It was years ago and it didn’t faze him much.

The 35-year-old cannot even remember what the people were accused of – just that they were taken to a public square at a local mosque and flogged with a rattan cane in front of a crowd of onlookers.

But in recent years, Hendra, a lecturer in communications at Ar-Raniry University in Banda Aceh, has started to feel differently.

Now he avoids public canings. “I always think, ‘Imagine if that was a member of my family’,” he told Al Jazeera. “Do these people really deserve this?”

Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, is one of Indonesia’s most religiously conservative areas, and is the only part of the archipelago to impose penalties on its residents under Islamic law.

Once one of the most powerful Islamic sultanates in Southeast Asia, the area had long used an informal kind of Islamic law mixed with local laws, known as “hukum adat”. But the legislation was enhanced when Aceh’s long-running separatist conflict ended in 2005. The laws have been gradually expanded to more offences, most recently in 2014.

Advising Brunei

“Sharia police monitor public behaviour and enforce the rules, including in relation to the clothing women choose to wear,” Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty Indonesia, told Al Jazeera.

“People can be subjected to public canings for a range of offences, including gay sex, which carries a penalty of up to 100 lashes, sex before or outside marriage, gambling and the sale and consumption of alcohol.”

The practice had already caused shock among the international community, and after Brunei attracted global condemnation over its plan to step up punishments under Islamic law, attention also turned to Aceh.

Officials from Brunei had travelled to the area for advice on implementing the punishments. Initially, the plan was to impose the death penalty for gay sex, but Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Brunei’s absolute monarch, then announced that a moratorium on capital punishment would be extended.

Those who had picketed the sultan’s luxury hotels and called for a boycott of the country claimed the decision as a victory.

“Sharia law in Aceh is Aceh’s Islamic Criminal Code or the usage of corporal punishment upholding Islamic views in Aceh,” Amnesty’s Usman told Al Jazeera. “But in actuality, the many provisions of the law [are] a breach of international human rights law and standards that create serious barriers for women and girls to report rape or other forms of sexual violence.”

In 2016, the first full year when Islamic laws were implemented in Aceh, 339 people, including 39 women, were caned, according to Human Rights Watch.

‘Not my concern’

No one who had been whipped was prepared to talk about what had happened to him, even anonymously. Many choose to move elsewhere after the punishment – to a new village or town where they can start afresh – due to stigma.

Hamid says caning in public violates international law prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment to which Indonesia is a state party.

He adds the punishment is severer than a “light tapping with a cane” as it is often described by its supporters.

Hendra, the academic, says that while there are people who oppose Islamic law punishments, few are willing to discuss the issue publicly.

“People are scared of speaking out to say they don’t support public canings,” he said. “They take the attitude that they see them, but that they don’t know anything about the cases or the law. ‘It’s not my concern’ is how many people view it.”

Sense of shame

Aryos Nivada, an activist and researcher based in Banda Aceh, said shame and humiliation was the main force behind Islamic law.

The shame factor is why the punishments take place in public, usually in front of a local mosque, where those watching take photos and videos of the event. Some are then uploaded to the internet.

“With the rise of social media,” Hendra added, “people can see your face within five minutes [of the punishment being carried out].”

Last year, the then Governor Irwandi Yusuf stopped the practice of public caning. But after he was arrested for corruption last July, the punishments resumed and the issue barely rated a mention in this year’s regional elections.

Yusuf became Aceh’s second governor to be convicted with economy and corruption topping people’s concerns.

Aryos said there was no chance punishments under Islamic law would be abandoned given the close links with traditional Acehnese culture. “Ten years in the future, Aceh will still have Sharia law,” he told Al Jazeera. “It’s part of the character of Aceh.”

Source: ‘Shame and humiliation’: Aceh’s Islamic law violates human rights

Dirty Hands: Scholar calls for solidarity with neo-Nazis in the new ‘immoral anthropology’


Canada’s decision to list far-right racist groups for the first time as terrorist organizations has grave criminal consequences for anyone who would provide them support.

What is less obvious is the risk this law might pose to anthropologists, ethnologists and other social scientists who study them up close.

For a scholar who studies violent fringe movements with a coolly critical air of objective detachment, or with outright hostility to their ideology, there are no obvious problems. But a provocative new article in a leading anthropology journal by an American ethnographer of Nordic white nationalists says these approaches are misguided and moralistic.

In “Collaborating with the Radical Right: Scholar-Informant Solidarity and the Case for an Immoral Anthropology,” Benjamin Teitelbaum argues that detached observation is the wrong way to seek deep insight about fringe communities, just as it was for the pith helmeted colonial scholars who looked on their subjects with condescension and arrogance.

Today’s anthropologists have strayed from their foundational ideal of solidarity with their subjects, he argues. He urges them to rediscover it, to collaborate with their subjects, as he has, and even advocate for them.

“We should not think that in doing that we can maintain moral purity,” Teitelbaum, assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in an interview. “We inevitably become accomplices.”

It may be immoral, he said, but it is “an immorality born of commitment to the people you are studying,” he said.

This week, claiming to collaborate with and advocate for figures on the extreme right just got a lot more risky in Canada. But is it good anthropology? Can anthropologists study the far-right without helping their cause? Should scholars have solidarity with their subjects when their subjects are neo-Nazis?

Teitelbaum described how the American Anthropological Association, the field’s leading authority, has lately been “striving to make space for researchers who want to work in open opposition to those they study.” He sees this as wrongheaded because it has made solidarity seem optional. His view, roughly, is that if your morals are irreconcilable with good anthropological practice, then your morals have to go.

This new “immoral anthropology” has caused consternation in the normally staid pages of the University of Chicago Press’s journal Current Anthropology.

One peer reviewer calls it “thought-provoking and challenging,” but accuses Teitelbaum of “sanitizing and white-washing” his subjects by adopting their own preferred terminology, and finds his “immoral” approach “unsustainable.”

One suggested he was “dancing with wolves” by helping to edit and revise a white nationalist’s novel. Others called his argument bold, honest, useful, timely and important, or “utterly confusing and contradictory.” One called him an “apologist” who is using ethnography as an “excuse” for solidarity with extremists.

Solidarity with the subjects of social science research is an easy sell when those subjects are oppressed minorities, isolated, colonized, or otherwise vulnerable populations. It is a harder sell when the subjects are skinheads, neo-Nazis and white supremacists with a tendency to violence. Teitelbaum’s paper is an effort to come to terms with this awkward position, and his solution is to simply accept it.

Working in solidarity with one’s subjects is “morally compromised but epistemologically indispensable,” he wrote. It is not the only way to do anthropology, but it is “our signature way.”

So he is “friends” with the Nordic white nationalists he has studied over the last 10 years. He has gone to their concerts, meetings, and demonstrations, and “laughed, drank, dined and lived with them.”

He said he started his field work intending to be a “neutral, dispassionate observer.” And he was for a while, but could not keep it up as he and his subjects “became interested in each other as people.”

“I was aligning with them as a scholar and a person, and my work grew more penetrating, informed, and sinister in the process,” he wrote. He found himself publicly defending his subjects against unfair criticisms as the “ultimate political pariahs.”

“And when I do criticize them, it feels like a defeat, as though I failed an opportunity to defy expectations, to uncover deeper complexities, and to prompt new learning,” he wrote. “In no way is it amusing or gratifying: it is to highlight and publicize the flaws of friends.”

These friends include the Swedish white nationalist singer Saga, who was favourably mentioned in spree killer Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto. They include the former neo-Nazi skinhead Daniel Friberg, who has worked to create and “identitarian” alliance with the American alt-right, and John Morgan, who cofounded Arktos publishing with Friberg, to promote anti-liberalism.

“My aim has been to cultivate close long-term relationships with nationalists fed by honesty, personal exchange and trust. Friendships were both preconditions and by-products of such contact, as were instances of collaboration, reciprocity, even advocacy,” he writes.

One particularly controversial and troubling anecdote involves Teitelbaum helping Magnus Soderman, a skinhead with Third Reich tattoos, a self-identifying National Socialist, whom Teitelbaum found to be also “an exceptionally curious person, witty and articulate, with a sense of irony and humility rare in nationalist circles.”

Teitelbaum made editorial revisions to the writing style and plot development of Soderman’s novel The Defiant One, which Teitelbaum describes as “an allegorical treatment of ‘white genocide’ narratives,” focused on the life of a young white Swedish woman whose high school is dominated by Muslims and Africans.

In effect, he was close to producing hate propaganda. At times he felt like a “volunteer editor,” and he noted an improvement in Soderman’s writing.

“We need to let go of the notion that we are going to be appreciably righteous champions of the just in our research,” he said in the interview. “You’re going to get your hands dirty.”

Anthropologists should follow his lead, he said, and preserve the special perspective that comes with close collaboration, friendship and solidarity. To do so, he said they must sacrifice their “ego.”

Moral compromise is a necessary part of modern ethnography because “it is through exchange and partnership that we gain our signature claims to knowledge,” he said. “Good scholarship teaches us new things.”

Source: Dirty Hands: Scholar calls for solidarity with neo-Nazis in the new ‘immoral anthropology’

Raymond de Souza: Canada’s anti-racism strategy needs to redefine Islamophobia

While I don’t read the anti-racism strategy in the same way as de Souza, all religions face similar challenges with respect to the extremists within their ranks and considering what forms of criticism may cross the line between criticizing particular practices and their impact on people, and more general anti-Christian, anti-Islam, anti-Sikhism or anti-Judaism attitudes:

Some time back I was booking a flight and had an option to fly EgyptAir, with a connection in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The times were convenient and the price right. I declined and found another option.

Why? Because I would not want, even as a mere stopover, to be in Saudi Arabia without prior guarantees from the government that I would not be subject to imprisonment or worse because I am a Christian.

If I were made of sterner stuff, I suppose I might welcome the chance to minister as a fellow prisoner to those Filipino and Indian “guest” workers caught praying and thrown into an extra-judicial jail, perhaps never to be heard of again. But I am not, and so opted to give Jeddah a pass.

I opted to give Jeddah a pass

Now is that Islamophobic? I suppose yes, in that I would be afraid for life and liberty because in Saudi Arabia a certain form of Islam is practiced and given sanction by the state. To put it another way, I would be happy to connect in Johannesburg but not Jeddah, and the reason is related to the latter being in an Islamic country.

Yet, I would also be happy to connect in Jakarta, in the world’s most populous Muslim country, so maybe I am not Islamophobic after all. And I would be happy to visit India, where there are more Muslims than in Saudi Arabia.

Is it Islamophobic for a Catholic priest not to stop over in Saudi Arabia? What if there were mechanical problems and we were required to leave the airport to stay overnight in a hotel? In a country where carrying a bible or a rosary can get you thrown into religious jail? Where Catholic priests have to minister incognito, like the worst days of Elizabethan England? Whoops, did I just reveal a latent Anglicanophobia? I might be a simmering cauldron of bigotry.

Of course it’s not Islamophobic. Christians are quite right to be circumspect of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in Saudi Arabia and exported to the world in various murderous guises.

All of which is brought to mind by the federal government’s new “anti-racism” strategy. The program grew out of a controversy some years ago over M-103, an anti-Islamophobia motion in Parliament. So the strategy includes an Islam component, perhaps not pro-Islam but at least anti-anti-Islam. It’s aimed at protecting Canadian Muslims from harassment and discrimination.

It’s tiresome to point out that Islam is not a race, despite the government’s determination to treat it like one. It would be possible to harbour prejudice against Arabs and be fiercely pro-Muslim, as the majority of Muslims live east of the Persian Gulf and in parts of Africa, outside the Arab world. But leave the confusion of race and religion for another day.

Islam is a many-differentiated thing. Saudi Wahhabis and Ahmadiyya Muslims in Toronto are not the same

It’s a mistake to treat Islam itself as if it were a monolithic thing, an undifferentiated block approaching two billion people. Islam is a many-differentiated thing. Saudi Wahhabis and Ahmadiyya Muslims in Toronto are not the same.

That’s the problem with the definition of Islamophobia adopted by the anti-racism strategy. It includes “racism, stereotypes, prejudice, fear or acts of hostility directed towards individual Muslims or followers of Islam in general. In addition to individual acts of intolerance and racial profiling, Islamophobia can lead to viewing and treating Muslims as a greater security threat on an institutional, systemic and societal level.”

Is it anti-Muslim prejudice to say that all Muslims constitute a security threat? Yes. Is it discrimination to direct acts of hostility toward followers of Islam in general? Yes.

The government’s strategy takes a dim view of any critical look at Islam

But the house of Islam has many rooms, and not all of them are filled with sun-dappled butterflies. The same would be true of Christianity. But it is not bigotry to consider that. For example, while Toronto is proud to host the Aga Khan Museum, it would be rather a different matter to build the Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Museum in Canada.

All religions need critical engagement. In this moment of history, that need is pressing in the world of Islam. Muslims, after all, pay the most lethal price for jihadist violence. Yet the government’s strategy takes a dim view of any critical look at Islam, which would actually put a great number of important Muslim voices offside.

I have profited over the years from many fruitful encounters with Muslims, both in Canada and overseas. Given the type of Muslims who are typically willing to engage in Christian-Muslim encounters, it is quite common to hear complaints about Islamist extremism from them, long before any non-Muslim raises the matter.

It is quite likely that, like many federal strategies, nothing much will be accomplished by this anti-racism strategy. But if it is effective, it should not prevent a critical engagement, theological and otherwise, with the world of Islam, both lights and shadows.

Source: Raymond de Souza: Canada’s anti-racism strategy needs to redefine Islamophobia

The Legion tells neo-Nazis to get lost

I remember the stories about Sikh veterans being discriminated by the Legion:

An extreme right political group whose supporters were involved in recent punch-ups at Toronto and Hamilton Pride events held its last meeting in a Legion hall, the Royal Canadian Legion said Wednesday.

The group held a meeting in the Redvers, Sask., branch earlier this month to announce an update on its efforts to register as a political party for the October election.

Party leader Travis Patron thanks the Legion at the beginning of a video uploaded to YouTube. “Welcome. Thank you for coming. And also thank you to the Legion who is hosting us here today.”

Chad Wagner, executive director for Saskatchewan Command of the Legion, said Wednesday that the local Legion branch didn’t realize what kind of group they were hosting and it won’t happen again. “We contacted the branch and put an end to it,” he said. “It violates our anti-hate policy. They simply just didn’t know who these guys were. When they found out, started listening to what these guys talk about, they didn’t want them there anymore.”

The legion implemented a new anti-hate policy earlier this month after the Soldiers of Odin held an April event at the Grande Prairie branch.

The Canadian Nationalist Party advocates for lower immigration levels and policies to favour Canadians who have been here for generations, which critics say is code for a neo-Nazi agenda. A video posted to YouTube in May shows a man wearing a Canadian Nationalist Party T-shirt and a red MAGA hat burning a Koran. It was posted by Rise Canada, an anti-Islamic group. In another recent video uploaded to YouTube, Patron speaks at length about “the parasitic tribe.”

Although Patron doesn’t name the tribe, it’s clear that he’s talking about Jews, says Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

“They certainly espouse neo-Nazi ideology. It is so obvious anti-semetic trope. It’s the exact type of thing that Hitler and his henchmen used in the late 30s when they tried to demonize Jews.”

Farber is unhappy that the party is on its way to becoming an official political party.

In the video, Patron says the party has almost collected the 250 names required to officially register and put candidates’ names on ballots.

“I can confirm that we received an application to register as a new party on April 17 from the Canadian Nationalist Party,” said Elections Canada spokeswoman Natasha Gauthier.

The group first applied last year but didn’t have enough names. Patron has expressed confidence that he will get enough names this time.Elections Canada says there is nothing in the act to prevent the registration of a party based on its ideology.

Farber says he would like to see the law changed to prevent anti-democratic parties from registering, as is the case in Germany, because of the tax advantages that official parties enjoy. Donors to political parties get tax credits of up to 75 per cent.

“This idea that they could become a political party is a horror story and it should put everybody in fear of the future,” he said.  “Why? Because they can now issue tax receipts. The state, our country, will be funding a white-supremecist, a neo-Nazi-enabling organization.”

On Tuesday, Patron complained about media coverage of his party’s involvement in violent incidents. “The people who run the media propaganda machine have a vested interest in seeing us fail. We will not, but rather expose them as the maggot infestation they represent. #CanadaFirst”

Source: The Legion tells neo-Nazis to get lost

Black civil servants passed over for promotions, says Independent MP

Census data for public servants, broken down by visible minority group, can be seen in the above chart. Compared to the population, Black Canadians are slightly over-represented at the federal and provincial levels.

However, median income data indicates that these tend to occupy lower-paid positions than other visible minority groups.

Part of this may be explained by the overall lower university graduation rates of Black Canadians compared to other groups in addition to the factors mention by MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes.

I haven’t recently done a recent breakdown of EX positions (ADMS EX4-5, DGs and Directors, EX1-3), so hard to comment on her statement regarding any “thinning out” at the ADM level:

Qualified black Canadians are being passed over for promotions to senior positions in the federal government due to systemic racial barriers, says Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes.

Caesar-Chavannes, who is not running for re-election in October, used her final act in the House of Commons last week to shine a light on what she says is discrimination in the civil service.

She says in all of Canada’s history, no black person has been appointed as a federal deputy minister, the bureaucratic head of a department. There has also been a “thinning out” of visible minorities at the assistant-deputy-minister level, she said.

That’s why she tabled a private member’s bill that would require the Canadian Human Rights Commission to more specifically report annually on the progress — or lack thereof — of government’s efforts to promote black Canadians and other visible minorities to more senior positions within the federal ranks.

“It saddens me to know that this is the current state of our federal system,” she said in an interview.

She has heard from current and former civil servants who say they have the qualifications to be promoted, but report being passed over for more senior jobs in favour of candidates they say were sometimes less qualified.

One man she spoke with had a master’s degree, a chartered professional accountant certification and spoke French, English and German — and yet he couldn’t get promoted to a managerial position.

“They present their credentials to me and they’re frustrated,” Caesar-Chavannes said.

“A lot of others have multiple degrees, speak French and English, are dedicated public servants and they’re not able to get ahead. And I think there’s a general sense of frustration.”

Caesar-Chavannes had previously tried to get the House of Commons to unanimously adopt a motion asking the government to study barriers facing black federal employees and to seek to understand their lived experiences. The motion also called on the government to consider implementing equity and anti-racism training for all federal employees.

The motion did not receive the necessary support and it was not adopted.

Her subsequent private member’s bill, which was seconded by Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould — like Caesar-Chavannes, a former Liberal — streamlined the request to simply call for the Human Rights Commission to provide an annual report to the minister on the progress made in “dismantling systemic barriers that prevent members of visible minorities from being promoted within the federal government.”

The bill will die on the order paper once the election writ is dropped, as will any other bills left unpassed. But she hopes another MP will take up the cause and reintroduce it when Parliament convenes after the election.

“Let’s ensure that the largest employer in the country leads by example and sets the tone for other organizations to follow suit,” she said.

“Let’s establish some metrics, some criteria by which we can measure ourselves such that our federal public system is reflected, at all levels of management, of the population we serve.”

The Human Rights Commission is mandated to look broadly at the representation of visible minorities in federally regulated workplaces, but said in its recent annual report it finds this term in the Employment Equity Act antiquated.

It has recently employed new auditing tools to better understand why women, Indigenous people, people with disabilities and racialized groups still face barriers to achieving equal representation in the federal workforce. Caesar-Chavannes says more data should be gathered to get a clearer picture of the different experiences of marginalized groups.

Farees Nathoo, a spokesperson for Treasury Board President Joyce Murray, said the government believes Canadians are best served by a public service that reflects the country’s diversity, which is why a “centre for diversity and inclusion” within the public service was created, as was a joint union-management task force on diversity and inclusion. The Treasury Board oversees the federal public service as a workforce.

“As Minister Murray noted in her recent meeting with the federal black employees caucus, more work needs to be done to have a public service that looks like Canada,” Nathoo said.

Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Minister Pablo Rodriguez’s spokesman Simon Ross acknowledged that many Canadians still face racism and discrimination, including anti-black racism.

Rodriguez is to launch a new national anti-racism strategy on Tuesday “because we refuse to turn a blind eye and pretend that racism and discrimination do not exist in Canada,” Ross said.

Source: Black civil servants passed over for promotions, says Independent MP

Ravary: Bill 21 a lucid choice by a mature society after long debate

Including this piece by Ravary as the title and thinking reveal a deep misunderstanding of multiculturalism and integration, the former being a means to the latter.

Quebec public services (healthcare, education and public administration are reasonably representative of visible minorities but as 2011 NHS data shows, religious minority representation is relatively small for most groups (Muslims formed 2.6 percent of the population in 2011)

And of course, while it may be a minority of Quebec public servants affected, it will further accentuate the overall under-representation of religious minorities. “sanctions-light” will not be light to those affected:

Flags and floats have been put away until next year’s Fête nationale. I was never a great partaker — I dislike the combination of big crowds and flag waving — but I have lovely memories of my childhood’s innocent Saint-Jean-Baptiste celebrations in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

The June French-Canadian liturgical calendar included two big street parties, each with its own procession: the Saint-Jean parade along Sherbrooke Street with its closing tableau of a curly-haired blond boy, dressed up as Jewish preacher John the Baptist, with a lamb at his side. (Children loved it. Beats the more recent puppets.)

The other street party, la Fête-Dieu, held on June 20, also known as the Corpus Christi procession, no longer draws crowds to the streets of Quebec, but 50 years ago, as man was about to conquer the moon, la Fête-Dieu was a still a big deal in Quebec — though it wouldn’t be for much longer.

I am writing this ahead of the Fête nationale, but I suspect the passage of Bill 21 will add pep to the steps of many revellers. I know the new law is not popular with many Montreal Gazette readers, but let’s never forget that many secular Muslims support it.

This having been said, now is not the time for supporters of Bill 21 to gloat. It is also wrong to call for civil disobedience, especially if you are a public official.

The rule of law is the bedrock of democracy.

Many feel that the “moderate way” chosen by the government to signify the separation of church and state in Quebec is a grave attack on individual liberties, but the majority of Quebecers do not share that sentiment, and they cannot be ignored. Unless we want populist leaders à la Orban or Salvini to come along.

Bill 21 is a lucid choice made by a mature society after a 10-year-plus debate, a balancing act between individual rights and the legitimate aspirations of a distinct people to choose how they want to live in their historical homeland.

Francophone Quebecers’ only home on Earth is a piece of land, most of it barren, in the northeast corner of North America. Full-blown multiculturalism, which encourages newcomers to keep their own cultures and does too little to promote integration, would mean the end of an extraordinary experiment that started in 1608, when Samuel de Champlain founded a settlement that would become Quebec City.

In these times of renewed enthusiasm for fundamentalist religious beliefs that go against the grain of Canadian and Québécois values, including those about women and LGBTQ folks held by fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims, Bill 21 aims to formally limit the influence of religion to the private sphere. This is a society that has been working hard to keep all organized religions at bay for more than 50 years.

Even if it meant getting rid of the beloved petit Saint-Jean-Baptiste and his pet lamb.

Bill 21 is the third stage of The Quiet Revolution. In the 1960s, Quebec Catholic priests and nuns stopped wearing traditional religious garb meant to signify penitence and humility, to continue working as teachers or nurses in modernized public education and hospital systems. The second phase was the laicization of Quebec’s school system in 1998 when religious school boards were replaced by linguistic ones. Bill 21 is the third phase of this transformation.

Can it be called unfair? Of course. Only a fool would deny the reality on the ground: some people feel discriminated against. Hence the “no gloating” advice. But let’s also beware of those who will use Bill 21 to further hidden politico-religious agendas.

Many like to cite French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville, who described in his 1835 opus Democracy in America the main danger posed by democracy, something he called the “tyranny of the majority.”

But to describe as tyrannical a sanctions-light piece of legislation that restricts the wearing of religious symbols at work by a minority of state representatives seems to me to be at best disingenuous.

Source: Ravary: Bill 21 a lucid choice by a mature society after long debate

Quebec religious symbols law ‘dangerous and un-Canadian,’ says Manitoba premier

Can’t get much stronger than that:

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he will be seeking a joint response to Quebec’s new religious symbols law when western and northern premiers meet on Thursday in Edmonton.

“That is, certainly to my mind, dangerous and un-Canadian and deserves to be opposed,” Pallister said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“We are not a two-tier-rights country.

“We’re not a country that celebrates sameness. We celebrate diversity, and we need to make sure that we don’t restrict people’s freedoms, whether it’s speech or movement or religion.”

The Quebec law prohibits teachers, police officers and other public servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols, and critics say it unfairly targets Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s not government’s responsibility, or in its interest, to legislate on what people should be wearing. But he did not specify what action his government would take to protect minority rights.

Pallister said response from federal politicians has probably been muted in part because of the looming national election in October.

“They don’t wish to irritate the province of Quebec, but Quebec is one province in a beautiful country,” he said.

“Canada is a beacon around the world for supporting freedoms, not suppressing them.”

Source: Quebec religious symbols law ‘dangerous and un-Canadian,’ says Manitoba premier

And Jack Jedwab’s called for stronger messaging from federal leaders:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of the federal opposition parties were cautious in their reaction to Quebec’s legislative ban on religious symbols, Bill 21. That’s probably because of the popularity of the ban amongst Quebec francophone voters who may have an important impact on each party’s political fortunes.

With the exception of the Bloc Québécois, it seems that the preferred approach of the federal party leaders is to reaffirm their respective disagreement with the ban while staying silent about taking action. This stand will not work as we near the start of the federal election campaign in September.

Some party leaders will be tempted to voice their disapproval of the ban while allowing their candidates in Quebec to insist that the provincial government was perfectly within its rights to adopt the legislation. But many Canadians will see this ambiguous line of reasoning for what it is: a cynical excuse for inaction. Voters in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada deserve to know what, if anything, the political parties plan to do about Bill 21. Whatever choice(s) the parties make will certainly have political ramifications both within and outside Quebec.

What should the parties do? It is safe to assume that none of the party leaders will consider recourse to the federal power to disallow the legislation. They would be wise to hold back, as disallowance would delegitimize the democratically elected government of Quebec. The much better alternative is to support court challenge(s) to the law. All federalist parties should take this position regardless of the electoral cost for them in Quebec. Thus far, the Canadian Council of Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have launched a judicial challenge to Bill 21. They deserve support from the federal government.

Despite considerable support for the bill amongst Quebec francophones, a May Leger Marketing survey revealed that a majority of Quebecers weren’t automatically opposed to the idea of submitting it to the courts for an opinion (specifically, 46 per cent of Quebecers didn’t approve of a court reference; 41 per cent were in favour of securing an opinion; and the rest didn’t know or refused to respond). The same survey revealed that important majorities in Quebec and Canada greatly valued the Charter of Rights – which is the basis on which the bill would be challenged.

Quebec Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette will likely describe federal intervention as an unacceptable encroachment on an exclusively Quebec matter. But Bill 21 states that the ban on religious symbols applies “despite certain provisions of the (Canadian) Charter of human rights and freedoms and the Constitution Act, 1982.” This provision justifies intervention on the part of the federal government so as to ensure that constitutional commitments enshrined in the Charter are upheld, regardless of the province in which a citizen resides. To act otherwise would not only weaken freedom of religion but also commitments to other key freedoms in the Charter. If a provincial government outside of Quebec decided to suspend certain rights and freedoms for minority francophones, there would rightly be multiple calls on the federal government to act. The same principle should apply to Bill 21.

Quebecers have been given the impression that the use of the “notwithstanding clause” in Bill 21 means that the issue of fundamental rights is no longer in question. But the clause seeks to dismiss recourse to rights protection, and in no way dismisses the idea that rights are being violated. Minister Jolin-Barrette and Premier François Legault have insisted that the bill does not violate the Quebec or Canadian Charter of Rights. There is good reason to be skeptical. But if they truly believe that, they should have nothing to fear from a court challenge.

Who knows? Maybe the court decision will vindicate them. Either way, the government of Canada and the opposition should give Quebecers and other Canadians an opportunity to find out and make clear their intention to support a court challenge sooner rather than later.

Source: Jedwab: Canadians deserve to know what federal parties will do about Quebec’s Bill 21