Some ten days ago Prof. Stephen Schecter, a former chairman of sociology who has been teaching at the Université de Québec à Montréal for more than 25 years, was prevented from entering a classroom by several dozen students demonstrating against UQAM policies of resource rationalization. Ordinarily this would not occasion unusual comment. However, quite unexpectedly, the students started chanting “Israel assassin, Schecter complice”. In light of recent events at universities, the Netanyahu riot at Concordia which we examined in “Orgy of Hate: The Disgrace of Prejudice”, and the attempt in Toronto to stifle a talk by Prof. Daniel Pipes, arguably the world’s leading authority on radical Islam and a consultant to Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, this latest event is quite troubling, quite sad and requires reflection and response. Ironically, the subject of the undergraduate course Prof. Schecter was teaching was…democracy.
Painfully, this event occurred in the same week that marked the 70th anniversary of the ascension to power of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany. No, we draw no parallels between the brutality and insanity of political Nazism and the current atmosphere of intolerance and exclusiveness. That would only cheapen the suffering of tens of millions. But as Prof. James Laxer has pointed out in “How Evil Triumphs”, there is a parallel to psychological Hitlerism. That mentality that causes people to pour into, and identify with, a vessel of hate reflective of their bile of prejudice, paranoia and parochialism caused by their own failures and frustrations. A mentality that seeks to place blame on someone, anyone—no matter how unrelated to a grievance at hand, for its own shortcomings. A mentality with a core of intellectual rot with racism as its inevitable result. It has no place in our democratic dialogue and must be rooted out with repudiation and resolve.
The liberal western world has now lived through two generations of the propagation of the myth of moral relativism by our academics. This affect of attempted egalitarianism has been proven time and again to be bankrupt and foolish. It has produced, for the most part, intellectual eunuchs-- devoid of moral compass or conscience, wallowing in immoral intellectual license-- buttressed by a structure that makes no demands for account. It is time for a wake up call. It is time to take them to task. It is time for truth.
When democratic states such as Israel are attacked by students and subjected to the double standard of a supposed objectivity by journalists, it is time for all of us to realize that this is not being done for the sake of redressing what these states do wrong, but precisely to attack what they do right. The attacks on Israel do not come singularly because of its conflict with the Palestinians, but arise from the broader assault on the family of liberal democratic nations launched by radical Moslems, supported by their “morally relativist” friends in academe, media and in the dictatorial regimes that dominate ”objective” world forums such as the U.N., who cannot abide by, nor successfully engage in, the competition of open debate and discourse that is the hallmark of the free world, and therefore seek to bring the west to heel at their altar of neo-Hitlerian behavioral conformity and racial prejudice.
They see liberation from obligation in Hitler’s words of “…freeing man from the chimera known as conscience.” John Patrick Cuddihy describes them as being unable to cope with the “…ordeal of civility…” They know full well that Israel is, physically, the frontline state representative of the culture of the family of civilized man, and her defeat, will free the cesspools of hate to spew forth into Europe and North America bringing a new dark ages in whose shadows this alliance of mendacity and mediocrity will find solace as only a nest of night crawlers can.
There is right and there is wrong in this world. Democracy is better than dictatorship. Light is better than darkness. And values count. Our path as a nation must be guided by the sure knowledge that chosen democratic legitimacy is the precursor to the demand for respect of sovereignty, not merely the physical frontiers applied by chance. Our instincts as a member of the family of free peoples must always be moved by adherence to the pledge of loyalty of faithful friends, not only to fanciful opportunities for profit. As Canadians and Quebecois we know these lessons well. This is part of our heritage.
Canada has sacrificed more sons and daughters for the survival and success of freedom in the past century than even the United States as a proportion of population. Quebec, with Louis-Joseph Papineau amongst its leaders, was the first political jurisdiction in the West to give full enfranchisement to Jews and other minorities beating England by eight years. Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin made us only the second national jurisdiction in the world with responsible government some twenty years before confederation. Sir Wilfred Laurier gave us the creed of inclusive liberalism that propelled us forward into the 20th Century. And Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gerard Pelletier led the revolt against the teachings of contempt in Québec and gave Canada an agenda for progress that has made us the envy of the world.
Prof. Schecter rightly termed the students’ actions “…completely racist…and anti-Semitic because it singles out Israel and it singles out me…yet neither has anything to do with the dispute at hand.” To their credit the administrators of UQAM termed the students’ actions “totally unacceptable” and “intolerable”. They have ordered an immediate disciplinary hearing. As a society our instincts for justice are generally intuitive and immediate. We know we cannot long tolerate further incidents of this nature. They are viscerally repulsive and spiritually corrosive to the social contract we have built in this good and gentle land. This paper is being circulated to several hundred national leaders in politics, business, labor, media, academia, the arts, and ethnic and social advocacy. It is time for a message to be sent. It is time for action and assault against this tide of prejudice posturing as objectivity that is the obscene deformity borne of thirty years of moral relativism.
We must send forth our word, from dozens of directions-- from whom we engage with in business, to whom we ally with in politics-- that as free people, we shall no longer acknowledge as legitimate, we can no longer abide as tolerable and we will never acquiesce as debatable, such infamous slanders against sister democracies and such lurid libels against fellow citizens.
Our actions can make the difference. We must make it clear, in word and deed, that even if perverted and put-upon in every corner of the earth-- freedom of thought, the prerogative of private judgment and the conscience of uncompromised truth—may always direct their course to, shall never be compromised in, and will always be championed by, our proud nation.
Beryl P. Wajsmann
Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal.