There is a growing trend in this country to challenge our hate crime laws, by inviting some of the most controversial speakers to our universities in the hopes that there will be protests.
And when the inevitable protest happens, the news becomes about that, rather than the message that is being delivered, that got people so riled up in the first place.
Most recently it was Ann Coulter and the "controlled controversy" surrounding her visit became the debate, ignoring the question of whether or not it was OK to Muslim-bait.
What we should have also questioned was why a Danish hate group was sponsoring her visit, and why a member of Stephen Harper's staff was arranging the pre-show party.
Forget that Ezra Levant and David Frum had their fingers it, both bosom buddies of Jason Kenney and Stockwell Day.
These 'free speech' gurus love it when the hateful messages are not directed at them or their beliefs, but when they are they scream bloody murder. George Galloway is an excellent example of that.
However, before Coulter's visit there was another 'controlled controversy" on a University campus, when Jared Taylor, a notorious white supremacist was invited to debate a professor of black studies. Why they purposely chose Dalhousie, I don't know, perhaps it's because there is rather large black community in Halifax.
The organizer, Brian Boothe, claimed that he had hoped that the Dalhousie professor David Devine would win the debate, thereby proving that racism is wrong. Divine was under the impression that Taylor was a legitimate expert, and wasn't prepared to debate a devoted racist, who had honed his skill, by simply not listening to a thing anyone had to say that would contradict his already firmly entrenched opinions.
When word of the debate circulated around Halifax, the public outcry forced the professor to cancel the debate, but Taylor showed up anyway, garnering a lot of media attention, especially when after handing out hate literature on the street corners, he was attacked by a group who clearly wanted him out of town.
In its reaction to Mr. Taylor's brief visit last week, Halifax failed on almost every measure. Prof. Divine did not check his background before agreeing to debate him as an intellectual peer, an omission that later forced him to publicly refuse to debate. The media courted Mr. Taylor, then shunned him, then courted him again, turning a non-story into a near-scandal; and citizens stooped to mob violence and an anonymous e-mail that read: "Next time he comes, we're going to cut off his head." "Must be Muslims," Mr. Taylor said.See how easily the story shifted from being about a white supremacist visiting Canada and handing out hate literature, to being about the actions of those who protested his racist messages, and Canada's arbitrary laws against freedom of speech.
Literally overnight, this coincidence of failures transformed a harmless kook handing out fliers in a Maritime snowstorm into the hottest interview in Halifax. He is now hailed on the Internet among like-minded American "paleoconservatives" as a martyr for free speech in the face of aggressive Canadian political correctness. Even the local papers that refused his ads turned around and defended his right to get his message out.
"I felt very sad that someone of the calibre of Prof. Divine, with all the best of intentions, fell into that trap," said Dr. Mock, a psychologist who was once dubbed the "hate hunter" for her expert testimony on neo-Nazi tattoos. "It's an old Klan trick.... They can't be refuted because their lies are propaganda and the arguments are circular and conspiratorial." (1)
The situation was handled all wrong and Jared Taylor was made a hero.
The anti-defamation League has actually covered similar situations involving Taylor and the company he keeps. Mobs follow him everywhere, and he knows just the right bombastic comments to fuel their ire. You can listen to the Taylor in the following video.
Jared Taylor and the Leadership Institute
Taylor has been linked with the Youth for Western Civilization movement, funded by Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute. He regularly gives them a plug in his American Renaissance newsletter.
However, he was also supposed to speak at a conference they were holding at the Institute on race and conservatism:
We have to be vigilant here, because freedom of speech is one thing, but speech promoting hatred is something altogether different. Someone argued with me once that that our soldiers had fought and died for our freedom, so that we could speak our minds. But I'm pretty sure they didn't enter battle so that we could call each other names. It was hatred that put them on those battlefields in the first place.
The forum was titled "Race and Conservatism" and was sponsored by the Robert A. Taft Club, a paleoconservative organization that was run by fellow Leadership Institute member Marcus Epstein. It was held at a satellite building for the Georgetown University Law School in Claredon, Va., having been moved at the last minute from its original location at the Leadership Institute building after calls from the Southern Poverty Law Center and One People's Project gave reason for concern. The panel included Jared Taylor, the editor of the white supremacist American Renaissance newsletter who is planning a conference of white supremacists in the Washington DC area next month, and John Derbyshire of the conservative periodical National Review.
According to a post on the white supremacist website Stormfront* at the time when it was still planned to be held at the Leadership Institute, it was just going to be Taylor and Derbyshire discussing the role of race in policy decisions and the racial future of the Republican party. After the controversy that prompted the Leadership Institute to close its doors to the forum, Kevin Martin of the black conservative organization Project 21 became a last-minute addition to the panel.
Approximately 40 persons attended this forum, the majority of whom, among them a longtime associate of Taylor's, Professor Michael Hart, were well-known in white supremacist circles. Other Leadership Institute members were also in attendance. (2)
Jared Taylor was told that the debate had been cancelled, but came to Canada anyway, with the intent of stirring up trouble. Then when trouble did find him, the media glorified him as a martyr for free speech. There is something fundamentally wrong with that.
*Stormfront has a hate forum and a radio show that is a favourite with white nationalists.
1. How not to handle a genteel racist. Fussing over his last-minute travel plans, David Divine, James R. Johnston chair of Black Canadian studies at Dalhousie University, seems a worldly fellow, not at all the poster child for naivete on racism, By National Post, January 27, 2007
2. HEY JAMES O'KEEFE, ABOUT THAT WHITE RACIST FORUM YOU ATTENDED IN 2006... By Dan Smeriglio, New Rogue's Gallery, January 30, 2010