A relatively new campus activist group has been making headlines recently in the United States. Called Youth for Western Civilization, they are financed by the Leadership Institute of Morton Blackwell, through their Campus Leadership Program.
And while also aiding Republican campus organizations, Blackwell likes the idea that "You can get away with stuff that you would take a lot of flak for doing in the College Republicans ..." (1)
An example of this was when "University of Miami senior Sarah Canale, whose 'CLP-organized Advocates for Conservative Thought' threw an affirmative action bake sale last year in which the price of a cupcake varied according to the race of its buyer. That it was controversial, she believes, was a victory in itself." (1)
Youth for Western Civilization ran a "controversial" event 'Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’, something Young Republicans would never have gotten away with. Subsequently a Facebook group was started "Against "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" - May 20," which has more than 42,000 members. I'm proud to say that I'm one of them.
And of course in the battle of Facebook pages, another group was started; Against "Against "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day - May 20""
They have 48 members and I'm proud to say that I'm NOT one of them. You can link to their site from the Facebook Group: Freedom of Speech. Now I'm sure this is a noble thing, except that lately groups promoting 'Freedom of Speech' are often endorsing the freedom to denounce Islam, gays and women's rights.
I'm not suggesting that this is the intent with 'Freedom of Speech.' I'm sure it isn't. However, reading some of the comments, it's pretty clear that some people are motivated by that.
And spending only a few minutes on the website of Youth for Western Civilization, it's pretty clear that they are motivated by that. They want to be able to promote ... well Western civilization, which is fine, but it can't be done at the expense of others. The U.S. like Canada, is a nation of immigrants, and not just white immigrants.
Carleton University and the Campus Conservatives
The Manning Centre for Building Democracy, the Canadian counterpart of the Leadership Institute, that was started up with a ten million dollar anonymous corporate donation, also has a Campus Leadership Training Program, that churns out young rabble rousers.
One of them is Nick Bergamini who was recently elected as a Conservative Campus representative on the student council at Carlton University. Nick is no stranger to dirty tricks. In fact he had to be reprimanded during his campaign for pulling out an "old" trick. Creating misleading domain names.
The Chief Electoral Officer has been alerted to the domain name “Cusaonline.ca” which links to a CBC Article dated November 25, 2009 entitled “Students drop Shinerama fundraiser for illness targeting Caucasians” in which you are named and quoted.Conservative MP Mark Warawa's son was busted for this when he created a 'Young Liberal' site with anti-Liberal messages. The senior Warawa stated that he loved his son but wasn't responsible for his actions. A lot of things are done in the name of politics.
This article has obviously been posted in an effort to reach students that mistakenly type in cusaonline.ca instead of going to the cusaonline.com website. The article is supportive of your campaign and as such the Chief Electoral Officer deems it as a form of campaigning. (2)
However, it's another "controversial" story that I'm interested in.
A Carleton University student who says he was a victim of hate crime is using his experience to try to open people's eyes to racism. Nick Bergamini, 22, says he believes he and his roommate Mark Klibanov were targeted for their political and religious beliefs when they were confronted by a group of men outside a Gatineau bar early Monday morning.Bergamini is known on campus for his pro-Israel beliefs. And of course 'pro-Israel' beliefs is usually code for 'anti-Islam' if you follow this through the religious context. I posted a great article from Israel a while back, and they believe that the Christian Zionists are engaged in the anti-Semitism (the ultimate plan for the Jews during Armageddon), but justify it on the grounds that they don't believe what they believe, and for now it's great for tourism and unlimited military weapons as gifts.
"We were just walking, minding our business and they said ‘Zionists' and they went after us because of our political beliefs and his religion," Bergamini told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday. During the confrontation, Bergamini was punched in the back of the head. As the pair walked along Promenade du Portage towards Ottawa, they were harassed by the same group again. This time the men were allegedly armed with a machete. A Carleton University student who says he was a victim of hate crime is using his experience to try to open people's eyes to racism.
"The guy opened up the window and said, ‘I'm the one who hit you, you effing Jew,'" Bergamini recalled. "They got out and kind of charged at my roommate, backed off and I heard ‘open the trunk,' so I looked right at the trunk to see what was coming out and I saw a big machete." The pair ran and managed to escape unharmed. Although Bergamini is known on campus for his pro-Israel beliefs, he is not Jewish. He now wants to use his experience to spread awareness about anti-Semitism.
"I hope people realize this is the attitude a lot of people have, with things like Israeli apartheid week. They think it's okay to go to the bar, take it to the next level," Bergamini said. "People have to know about this because if it happened to us, it can happen to other students – Zionists, Jews. It's our duty to let everyone know," added Klibanov. Gatineau police are now investigating the incident. Hate crimes in Canada are rare. However, police across the country are paying closer attention to reports of crimes motivated by hate. (3)
And no I'm not anti-Semitic. Those were the thoughts of a Rabbi living in Israel and others.
I am not saying that Bergamini's story is not true. Far from it. However, as the school has tried to point out, maybe it's time to look at all messages of hate. I would like to know what they meant by "well known" supporter of Israel. The media for the most part mentioned that but did not elaborate. It was obviously an attempt at balanced reporting.
Because there is a real slippery slope here. If we make this about Christians against Muslims or Israel against Palestine (and many of the blogger headlines did say anti-Israel or pro-Palestine attack and several even refer to machetes in the plural), then this becomes something else.
This needs to be used as an opportunity to promote tolerance from both sides.
The attack was wrong but I'd like to know what exactly was meant by "pro-Israel" religious views and how they were presented on campus, before I'm ready to make this about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bergamini claims to have known at least one of them. Were charges ever laid or have all Muslims now been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion?
The Leadership Institute teaches the same principle. Controlled controversy -- making your point in a manner so bombastic that your opponents blow their cool -- is a Blackwell specialty. (1)
We have to be very careful.
The video is below and what is interesting is that they referenced Ann Coulter and Berganini claims to have been there and says that the protesters took control of the whole thing. However, police reports have since confirmed that Coulter cancelled the event before the protesters got there.
They were also able to take a shot at CBC, who were right to have wanted to listen to other students, so that they know what may have fueled the incident. Because only then can we truly prevent these kinds of "hate crimes" from occurring.
I'm going to try to follow up with this story to see if the man known to Berganini has been identified and if anyone has been charged.
1. My Right-Wing Degree, By Jeff Horwitz, May 24, 2005
2. Original document: Nick Bergamini Electoral Violation By: The Charlatan Post, February 5, 2010