Last year in Toronto, the head honcho of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, got into the spirit of things and marched in the Gay Pride Parade wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “NOBODY KNOWS I’M GAY.” Also entering into the spirit, the Toronto Star’s Antonia Zerbisias wrote tongue-in-cheek of Bernie’s little jest: “I didn’t know he was gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Whereupon, after consulting with fellow CJC execs, the apparently non-gay Mr. Farber sent a formal letter of complaint objecting to the Toronto Star falsely identifying him as gay, notwithstanding that he himself had been the first to falsely identify himself as gay. Needless to say, the Star’s publisher pompously reprimanded Miss Zerbisias for an item that “fell short of the Star’s standards of accuracy.”
My default position in any dispute between Canada’s most zealous supporter of speech censorship laws and the Star’s leftie feminist is that of Henry Kissinger on the Iran-Iraq War: “Can’t they both lose?” But, in the great Queer Tee for the Straight Jew showdown, I was inclined to side with Miss Zerbisias. It’s hardly her job to calibrate the precise degree of Mr. Farber’s peculiar combination of opportunism and insecurity.
Still, I was surprised to open up last week’s Maclean’s and find that I too had been Farbered, and, alas, with as little support from management as Zerb. So I rise, as the parliamentarians say, on a point of personal privilege. But don’t worry, I’ll connect it up to the big geopolitical picture before we’re outta here.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the reaction to Ann Coulter’s “cancelled” speech from various Canadian institutions, among them the Canadian Jewish Congress. Here’s the relevant passage:
The CJC declared:
“Remember that old childhood adage, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’?
“Well, it wasn’t true then and it’s not true now. Name-calling does hurt . . . Attacks against an individual’s—or a group’s—sexuality, ethnicity, religion or culture can cut to the quick, demoralizing victims and inflicting wounds that can last a lifetime . . .
“Students at the University of Ottawa this week made their intolerance for intolerant attitudes quite clear when they demonstrated against scheduled speaker Ann Coulter, an American right-winger with an apparent axe to grind against just about anyone who’s not a middle-class white American.”
Actually, that’s not true. She’s a great defender of the state of Israel, for example. Whereas the students the CJC praised for shutting her down are the same crowd who organized “Israeli Apartheid Week.” Given a choice between a steadfast friend of Israel and the new and ubiquitous campus Judenhass, the CJC characteristically chose the latter. For years, Bernie Farber’s CJC has never met a state censor it didn’t like. Now, it’s extolling the virtues of mob rule. By the “Israeli Apartheid” gang. Granted that the only plausible explanation for the CJC is that it’s an Islamist front organization, you surely don’t want to make it too obvious.
There is a kind of tragic obstinate stupidity to the present leadership of Canada’s most prominent Jewish organization, and, given their influence, I regard that as a legitimate subject for debate. One can understand, however, why they might resent this unaccustomed scrutiny. So last week Maclean’s published a response from the CJC, followed by an “Editor’s Note.” I was given no notice of Mr. Farber’s letter, and, if I had been, I would have pointed out the transparent falsehood in its central claim:
“Here’s the rub,” he writes. “Nobody at the CJC said the things Steyn attributes to us. In fact, Steyn misattributes to the CJC quotes from an editorial in the March 25, 2010, issue of the Mississauga News. The only connection to the Canadian Jewish Congress is the fact that a link to this editorial, along with links to dozens of other items from various media outlets expressing diverse points of view, could be found in the ‘articles of interest’ section of the CJC website. Misrepresenting the CJC so seriously is a mistake that even rookies don’t make.”
Oh, really? Maybe for his next Gay Pride T-shirt slogan, Bernie Farber should try “NOBODY KNOWS I’M TALKING BOLLOCKS.” That entire passage is false, and I am embarrassed that my friend Ken Whyte published it. As Bernie would say, falling for the CJC’s misrepresentations about misrepresenting the CJC so seriously is a mistake even rookies don’t make.
Mr. Farber says that the CJC’s “only connection” to the passages I quoted is “a link to this editorial.” Entirely untrue. There is, in fact, no link. Go to this page at the CJC site—http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:A-DicHJCsbMJ:www.cjc.ca/2010/03/26/hate-crime-bullies/+%22hate+crime+bullies%22+cjc.ca&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us <http://74.125.
45.132/search?q=cache:A-DicHJCsbMJ:www.cjc.ca/2010/03/26/hate-crime-bullies/+%22hate+crime+bullies%22+cjc.ca&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us>. That’s the Google “cache” link for the page as it appeared on April 22—lest, through the murky shape-shifting that attends the Internet, the page should mysteriously be disappeared. There you will find no “link” nor “dozens of other items” nor the words “articles of interest,” but an entire page of text—a full article, in fact—from which I drew my quotations. At the foot of the page, it says “© Canadian Jewish Congress.” There is no external “link” (the standard Internet etiquette that usually follows partial quotation from another publisher’s content—as, say, the Maclean’s website does with its “Need to Know” items).
Indeed, the only words even hinting that the unsigned editorial does not come from Bernie Farber’s desk were two small words in parentheses: “(Mississauga News).” I regret that, like many outside the Greater Mississauga area, I was unaware that the local daily is called the Mississauga News. So I assumed, as much of the editorial concerned “hate crimes” in “Mississauga and Brampton,” that “Mississauga News” was the name for the CJC’s roundup of news from Mississauga, possibly from a Mississauga branch office.
But that’s neither here nor there. The CJC printed the whole thing, soup to nuts. Therefore, simply as a point of Canadian law, the CJC is the publisher. The other week, the Australian reprinted a Maclean’s column of mine: nobody “at” the Australian “said those things,” but, as a point of Australian law, the Australian is the publisher. Let me put it in terms the twitchily litigious Mr. Farber will grasp: when Maclean’s printed on its website an excerpt from my book, the Canadian Islamic Congress used Bernie’s beloved “human rights” law to take Maclean’s before three different “human rights” commissions—because, notwithstanding that nobody “at” Ken Whyte’s office “said those things,” Maclean’s published it and was therefore responsible. Likewise, had the CJC’s website not been crowing over thuggery against “middle-class white Americans” but against a more fashionable victim group, a “human rights” activist would sue the CJC: you published it; you own it. In British Commonwealth copyright law, you said it. In Canadian “human rights” law, you said it. What part of that don’t you understand, “rookie”?
Bernie Farber is so lacking in self-awareness that he’s now attempting the same defence he and his high-priced lawyers have for years strenuously denied Marc Lemire and other targets of CJC speech censorship: “Oh, we put all kinds of stuff on our website. You can’t seriously hold us accountable for what’s up there.”
Now it is, of course, entirely possible that someone “at” the CJC cut and pasted the entire article without seeking permission from the authors. But that would be a serious theft of intellectual property and a breach of copyright, for which Canadian law provides statutory penalties. So I doubt whether a chap who reaches for his solicitors as reflexively as Mr. Farber would be careless enough to make such an error.
But, whether he reprinted it legally or illegally, he’s the publisher of everything I quoted. Ezra Levant, Canada’s great free speech warrior, likes to spell Bernie “Burnie”—i.e., as the most prominent supporter of Canadian state censorship, Mr. Farber is that perplexing paradox, a Jewish book burner. But in this case, “Burnie” is attempting retrospectively to burn his own book: the piece I cited is an unsigned editorial published under the CJC banner, atop a CJC assertion of copyright, with no disclaimer and with no link to any external site. So, given the amount of disassociation in last week’s issue—Mr. Farber disassociating himself from his own publication, Maclean’s disassociating itself from me—I would like to disassociate myself from last week’s “Editor’s Note.” I stand by my original point. It is astounding and disgraceful that the CJC should publish an editorial that ends by crowing about the same thuggery that underpins “Israeli Apartheid Week” and that shut down Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech at Concordia.
Why would they do such a thing? Well, ask Bernie, not me. But my guess is that, not for the first time, the CJC’s pro-censorship instincts got the better of its pro-Jewish ones: eight of the nine paragraphs are the sort of things the CJC says all the time. The Coulter passage is where that logic leads—to street mobs acting as ideological enforcers. Jews, of all people, should not be cheering Canada’s descent down that path.
Bernie Farber is not a wicked man, but he is a profoundly foolish one—by which I mean that his foolishness will have profound consequences for young Jews growing up in the Trudeaupia he helped make. “Israeli Apartheid Week” is Canada’s gift to the world, spawned in his backyard, on his watch: to soft-leftish university students (i.e., most of them), the conventional wisdom is that Israel is an illegitimate state of murderous war criminals squatting on the land of its victims. Meanwhile, the most prominent and prosperous of Canadian Jewish groups pursues trivia—I don’t mean demanding apologies over his gay T-shirts, but far less entertaining distractions. His lawyers are now in the sixth year of their pursuit of Marc Lemire, a man of no consequence whatsoever to Canadian Jewry but whom they remain determined to notch to their escutcheon of irrelevant penniless shaven-headed nobodies even as Jew-hatred on a scale unseen since the Second World War metastasizes across the Western world.
Around mid-century, Canadian Jews (assuming there are any still living here) will look back at the CJC’s press clippings in wonder, and marvel why Bernie didn’t march in the parade wearing a T-shirt marked, “NOBODY KNOWS I’M JEWISH.”
That’s a joke, by the way—in case you’re thinking of suing.