"The progress of freedom depends more on the open diffusion of ideas in education than on the labours of cabinets and foreign offices."
~ Richard Cobden
Yesterday Concordia University decided that it was too dangerous to allow former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a man who championed peace and agreed to the reversion of 99% of West Bank land to Palestinian control at Camp David, to speak in any of the university’s buildings. The reason used was that Concordia did not have enough security, and particularly armed security, to guarantee safety. It is willing to co-sponsor a Barak talk at another venue.
At the Institute’s request our board member Terry J. Corcoran, a Concordia graduate, is prepared to make available to his alma mater, on a pro-bono basis, a protective service for the Barak event of 50-65 operatives. Corcoran, as President of N.C.I.S. (National Criminal Investigation Service) regularly provides executive security services with his team of former Montreal Police and RCMP officers. He has also offered to augment any perimeter guard service through an affiliated company called Sec-Pro which has a personnel compliment of over 1700.
But this only addresses the superficial issue. The underlying corrosive threat is the mindset that has led many community leaders, including many pro-Israel advocates, to argue that a compromise should be accepted. That we should move forward step-by-step to rebuild understanding since the shameful orgy of hate that was unleashed against Benjamin Netanyahu some two years ago. They miss the point.
The menace of intellectual impotence is a threat as deadly to the spirit as any natural disaster is to the body. The spectre of appeasement to hate and intolerance is as deadening to our society as any physical assault. The possibility that a university, which should be the cauldron of open ideas and debate, should see free expression paralyzed by intimidation and dynamic co-operation stifled by confrontation must be unacceptable to any but those who are satisfied with a fey and feckless country peopled by a frivolous citizenry.
We cannot be satisfied with that. We cannot be satisfied with a capitulation to a cultural affect that legitimizes denunciation over debate and destruction over discussion. It is a virus that must not be allowed to further infect our body politic.
If it is true, as we have been told by successive governments, that a social system as generous as Canada’s has an inherent fragility that requires protection from the economic impact of larger powers, then it is equally true that a liberal democracy as open as Canada’s must also be protected from the political impact of alien philosophies that export their agendas of hate and intimidation to our shores. And that protection cannot be the responsibility of government alone. It is the responsibility of each of us to marshal our resolve at every frontline challenge and demonstrate to the world the courage and character of our social contract.
As members of the family of free nations there can be no cause for self-satisfaction when the violent terrorize and the peaceful are traumatized. We all bear an important and cherished title in this land. That title is citizen. As such we must resolve that our place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who in times of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. We are better than that.
We have 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.
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—will always be championed in this land. It is not that complicated. For at the core of what Concordia forgot this week are two simple concepts---decency and courage. These are not matters learned only in universities nor in public arenas. They are at the core of any legacy we seek to leave. There is right and there is wrong in this world. Light is better than darkness. And values count.
If we are to build a culture of conviction we can never acknowledge as legitimate, we must never abide as reasonable and we should never acquiesce as acceptable, that our reason be paralyzed by what Jean-Paul Sartre called “…the teachings of contempt…” Today’s purveyors of intolerance seek to impose doctrines of theocratic tyranny that mimic the neo-Fascist dream of “…freeing man from the chimera known as conscience.” These enemies of freedom do not possess the character to comprehend that what they are really struggling with is their own ordeal with civility.
Security Exec Offers Barak Protection
Concordia won't allow ex-Israeli PM to speak. It would take about 10 guards to ensure safety
at campus event, university alumnus contends
Beryl Wajsman and Terry Corcoran with Suburban editor Jim Duff
A former grand marshal of Montreal's St. Patrick's parade who owns a security firm has waded into the controversy over Ehud Barak at Concordia University. Terry Corcoran says he's willing to provide free security so the former Israeli PM can speak at Concordia, and says he can do it with as few as 10 guards led by retired police officers.
Corcoran is upset that Concordia, his alma mater, is getting a bad rap by denying Barak to speak. He says he also wants to give back to Jewish patrons of his company, National Criminal Investigation Service Inc. His firm has protected movie stars like Sylvester Stallone, the children of foreign diplomats visiting Montreal, and officials who attended the 2001 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.
Now it wants a crack at Barak. "We're willing to help out," Corcoran told The Gazette. "If there is an open mind at Concordia, we'll sit down and discuss and provide additional security for the event." When Barak was at a Cote St. Luc synagogue three years ago, Corcoran said, "they had 10 or 15 security guards" - not Corcoran's - "with about four RCMP officers protecting him, and nothing went wrong. ... I was there, and there was no problem."
Corcoran's offer is being backed by Montreal community activist Beryl Wajsman, President of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal. Corcoran is on the think tank's board.
Barak was to have been invited by Hillel, a Jewish students' group at Concordia, to talk Oct. 19 at the university's Loyola campus, in Montreal's west end. The administration denied permission, citing security concerns. Corcoran took issue with Concordia's contention it does not have enough security to allow Barak to speak.
Late yesterday afternoon, Wajsman wrote to Concordia's administration, detailing Corcoran's offer. A spokesperson declined comment.
"The discipline and integrity of students' intellectual rigour at a university should never be held hostage to the threats of thugs," Wajsman said. "There can be no cause for self-satisfaction when the violent terrorize and the peaceful are traumatized."