A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

Strange bedfellows:

An upcoming Toronto conference is going to feature anti-Islam speakers, anti-hate advocates and some of the most recognizable Jewish organizations in Canada.

The “national teach-in” on hate and racism is organized by a group called Canadians for the Rule of Law, which argues on its website that “‘political correctness’ is distorting valid criticism” and “‘Libel chill’ is preventing the sharing of ugly facts.” The teach-in seeks to expose those who perpetuate these problems to the detriment of Canadian democracy.

To that effect, the March 17 conference will scrutinize “(A) the radical left; (B) radical Islamists; and (C) the radical right,” in that order of priority. The teach-in was supposed to take place at an important synagogue in Toronto until it pulled out last week over security concerns.

B’nai Brith Canada, one of the country’s most prominent Jewish advocacy groups, has agreed to their CEO Michael Mostyn moderating one of the panel sessions, while Robert Walker, the head of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, a pro-Israel group that works primarily on campuses, is also speaking at the event next March.

Though the conference features a number of well-known, mainstream anti-hate advocates such as Donald Carr, who sits on the board of CFTRL, David Matas and Anita Bromberg, a significant number of organizers and featured speakers are active in Canada’s anti-Muslim or alt-right circles.

Perhaps most notable among these are Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College, and Christine Douglass-Williams, who was fired from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation board for being an active writer to Jihad Watch, a leading Islamophobic platform. McVety had a national TV show pulled off the air in 2010 for his remarks against the LGBTQ community. His college hosted a Rebel Media event in Feb 2017, emceed by prominent far-right propagandist Faith Goldy. He also hosted the popular anti-Islam activist and then Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders in 2011. At the time, McVety described the spread of Islam in Canada as a “demographic jihad.” “Islam is not just a religion, it’s a political and cultural system as well and we know that Christians, Jews and Hindus don’t have the same mandate for a hostile takeover,” he said in 2011.

“No reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion.”

John Carpay, who heads up Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, will also be at the conference. He spoke at a Rebel Media event in Calgary last month about the threat of totalitarianism in Canada partly by comparing the Nazi swastika to the “rainbow flag,” a comment he later said was “unintentionally” made. Rebel also fundraised on behalf of Carpay’s centre and some of its initiatives.

B’nai Brith Canada’s media liaison Marty York qualified his organization’s overall involvement when asked whether the decision to send its CEO to participate was made with the consideration that it features such a prominent anti-Muslim presence.

“Mr. Mostyn is moderating one single session on hate speech, which is something he does regularly,” York told VICE News. “He found out who the panelists are going to be and he was comfortable with their identities. Whoever else is involved during the day in other sessions, I’m not even sure if he even knows.”

He said Mr. Mostyn saw “no reason whatsoever not to engage in a public discussion” on hate speech in his one session.

“So there seems to be a smear by association campaign going on, and if that’s the case it’s very unfortunate.”

He added that B’nai Brith Canada “supports the rule of law” in Canada and thus “has no qualms at all about” Mostyn’s participation, regardless of who else is involved throughout the day-long conference.

David Matas, a noted human rights specialist and Senior Honorary Counsel for B’nai Brith, says he’s troubled by the anti-Muslim presence in the planned conference, but didn’t know until friends and colleagues emailed him their concerns.

“This all sort of just popped up and I have to go through all of it and make a decision collectively with my colleagues,” he says. “I admit that from what I’ve seen, there are obviously concerns that we need to discuss and I may end up not participating, but we have to look at all the information first.”

Robert Walker, executive director of Hasbara Fellowships Canada, cited addressing “anti-Semitism” and “anti-Zionism” as the main reasons for his involvement in the conference, preferring to offer no comment on the anti-Muslim participants.

“There are obviously concerns that we need to discuss.”

Hasbara is an initiative run out of Aish Hatorah, a major international network of Jewish educational centres and synagogues.

“Contemporary anti-Semitism often masquerades behind different masks, such as anti-Zionism, which is denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their historic homeland,” he told VICE News. “I do not and cannot speak for other panelists or speakers.”

Among the conference’s main topics is “Actions Against BDS,” or the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the state of Israel.

The conference was originally supposed to take place at the prominent Beth Tikvah synagogue in North York. But in an email to VICE News, Rabbi Jarrod Grover of the synagogue noted that it has pulled out of the arrangement, leaving CFTRL without a host.

Grover stated that the decision to pull out was based primarily on security concerns for participants and to avoid a “media circus” — not over any ideological concerns.

“I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law.”

“We like dialogue and free speech, but we are a religious, not a political organization,” he wrote. “I defend the right of CFTRL and their speakers to say what they want to say within the limits of Canadian law, despite the fact that I obviously have different beliefs than many speakers at this conference.”

According to the Canadian Jewish News, the decision to pull out came after Karen Mock, president of the progressive Jewish group JSpace Canada, reached out to Rabbi Grover to discuss “potential damage control” over media interest in the event due to “the Islamophobia and bigotry associated with some of these groups and individuals.”

A response for a media request to CFTRL’s general inbox was replied by board member David Nitkin, who rejected the request on the basis that VICE News is an “alt-left” publication. Carr did not respond to requests for comment. He told the Canadian Jewish News that the event will go on, and “we reject any attempt by those who wish to stifle free speech.”

Nitkin is also a leading organizer and board member of the anti-Islam group, Canadian Citizens for Charter Rights and Freedoms (C3RF), which indicates in its mission statement that “Islamophobia” is a concept invented by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies to infiltrate Canada and implement Shariah law. It is listed as a “community supporter” of the conference, along with ACT! Canada, which is a prominent anti-Islam group.

Source: A Toronto conference on racism will feature both anti-Islam speakers and Jewish groups

A lesson in reaction to John Carpay’s rainbow flag comparison: the cross does not justify lunacy – Coren

I always find it somewhat amusing with the contrast between more reasoned argumentation in mainstream publications and some true colours emerge at an event organized by Rebel Media. As Carpay should know, invoking Hitler or the Nazis means he has lost his arguments (Godwin’s law):

I was shocked when it was revealed that Christian conservative lawyer John Carpay had compared the rainbow flag to the Nazi swastika. Not because Carpay had drawn the grotesque juxtaposition, but because it had taken so long for such a sentiment to be made public.

Last Saturday, Calgary-based Carpay, a leading voice with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, and ubiquitous within social conservatism, spoke at a conference organized by Rebel Media, where the sewers breathe and the ghouls come out to play.

“How do we defeat today’s totalitarianism?” he asked rhetorically. “You’ve got to think about the common characteristics. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hammer and sickle for communism, or whether it’s the swastika for Nazi Germany or whether it’s a rainbow flag, the underlying thing is a hostility to individual freedoms.”

He later apologized, explaining that he was actually discussing totalitarianism when he listed the rainbow flag with the emblem under which 12 million people were slaughtered in death camps — including, of course, many gay men. Such apologies are usually signs of being sorry because someone is caught, not because they are genuinely contrite. Change of heart and mind come about not due to pressure, but because of personal conviction.

I’ve known Carpay for many years, and he’s not an evil man. A little eccentric, extremely conservative, but not evil. What he is, however, is a committed right-wing Christian, and that’s a world few of us know well.

In the United States it’s enormously influential, in Canada less so but — as we saw with the leadership victories of Andrew Scheer federally and Doug Ford in Ontario — it can muster perhaps 20 per cent of any conservative race, and thus decide a vote.

At the heart of their beliefs is the conviction that there is a spiritual war taking place, and that the major battlefields are life and sexuality. The rights of women to control their bodies, or of gay men and women to live equally and enjoy the same rights as the heterosexual majority, are not signs of progress or liberty, but a satanic attack on God’s plan, and on the safety and sanctity of the Christian family.

Within evangelical circles and on the right of the Roman Catholic Church it’s a commonplace view, as any casual reading of socially conservative media platforms or blogs will show.

One of the books often quoted is The Pink Swastika, co-authored by the odious Scott Lively. He’s notorious for his anti-gay extremism, has advocated the criminalization of “the public advocacy of homosexuality”, and spread his venom in Uganda and Russia, where LGBTQ people live in fear of their lives. His book, subtitled “Homosexuality in the Nazi Party” is now in its fifth edition. No credible historian takes it at all seriously, but many Christian social conservatives certainly do.

At the epicentre of all this is fear, and in that it is not unlike the cult that has developed around bestselling author Jordan Peterson. Long powerless groups are finally speaking out and up for their rights, and whether they are women, gay, trans, native, or Black, their insistence on justice intimidates many of those who have long taken it for granted.

Within a conservative Christian context, it’s comforting to paint the entire struggle in spiritual colours, because if God is on your side it’s all going to be OK. Problem is, Jesus never mentions homosexuality, and is in fact stunningly indifferent to what some around him insist is sexual sin. Lesbianism is never referred to in the Old Testament, and the subject of homosexuality is spoken of a mere handful of times in the entire Bible. If any demand permeates the Gospels it’s love, acceptance, and the welcoming of the marginalized.

Carpay’s apology is irrelevant. What matters is that reactionaries shame the voice of Christ with their fanaticism, that Nazism is minimized by such grimy propaganda, and that LGBTQ people — still persecuted, humiliated, and killed in large parts of the world — have once again been assaulted.

The rainbow flag is a symbol of liberation, but the swastika is an icon of genocidal horror. That anybody should think otherwise, and use the cross to maintain their lunacy, makes this Christian very angry indeed.

Source: A lesson in reaction to John Carpay’s rainbow flag comparison: the cross does not justify lunacy – Coren

Is ‘assimilate’ offensive? Legal battle pits Star Trek fan against Indigenous activists | National Post

Both sides make valid arguments in sharing their perspectives.

But understand for Indigenous peoples the particular sensitivity regarding the word assimilate given Canada’s history.

For immigrants, of course, the long standing Canadian approach is based upon integration, not assimilation:

At issue is a legal battle that has just been launched that pits the right of a Star Trek fan to have it on his licence plate against Indigenous groups opposed to the word.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nick Troller, a Winnipeg man whose licence plate — ASIMIL8 — was rescinded by the provincial government for being offensive to Indigenous people.

“It’s another case that pits the Charter freedom of expression against the new, phoney right not to be offended,” said JCCF President John Carpay, a former Alberta Wildrose party candidate.

Carpay said he can understand why the plate might offend someone, but the word still shouldn’t be censored.

“There’s a difference between words that are inherently offensive regardless of how you use them, such as vulgarities, obscenities, four-letter words, versus words like ‘war’ or ‘assimilate,’ which can have positive or negative connotations,” he said.

Troller said the licence plate is clearly a reference to the Borg, a fictional race from Star Trek that forcibly assimilates other cultures. The plate holder says, “WE ARE THE BORG” and “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

“The word ‘assimilate’ is just a word — it is neither good nor bad. We assimilate nutrients into our bodies in order to live,” Troller said in his affidavit.

But Indigenous activists say Canadians should do more to understand why the word could be considered offensive.

Anishinaabe Nation member and University of Manitoba assistant professor Niigaan Sinclair called free speech a “bogus argument” and said that Indigenous people are having “a very understandable reaction.”

“If Indigenous peoples feel triggered by a licence plate or a sports logo, or the name of a historical figure on a building, Canadians would be best served to listen to why Indigenous peoples are triggered, and show some care and sensitivity when they express themselves,” he said.

“You can’t just say whatever you want to say without any worries of consequence or responsibility.”

Source: Is ‘assimilate’ offensive? Legal battle pits Star Trek fan against Indigenous activists | National Post