Hate in the streets

By Beryl Wajsman on January 15, 2009


“A totalitarian culture treats mere opponents as subversives; a democratic culture treats subversives as mere opponents. The reason is that the latter seeks never to betray its principles, while the former has none to betray.”

~ Jean-Francois Revel


 It was the images as much as the issues that got to you. You couldn’t intellectualize in your own mind what you were seeing. You wanted to ask the demonstrators questions.

flagburningbw.jpgYou wanted to ask why they are not protesting the Hamas murder of some 20,000 opponents in Gaza. You wanted to ask them why they had never protested the murders of thousands, tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of Muslims by fellow Muslims in Chechnya, in Iraq, in Somalia and in Darfur. You wanted to ask why they were not protesting the holding hostage of a million and a half Gazans by theocratic thugs who don’t have the courage to come out from behind the protection of the civilian population and fight in the open. You wanted to ask what they would have free, democratic Israel do when faced with over 3,000 rocket attacks — many landing in schools and hospitals — since leaving Gaza three years ago.  You wanted to ask if it would be “proportional” if Israel targeted Gazan schools and hospitals with land launched rockets as Hamas does. You wanted to ask why the lies on the signs about the deliberate targeting of Gaza civilians when Israel has telegraphed each attack and given time for evacuation. You wanted to ask why the lies about starving the population when only Israel is sending food and medical supplies — by the UN’s own admission — and taking Gazan wounded to Israeli hospitals while Egypt keeps its border closed. But then you realize that they don’t want discussions. They simply need somebody to hate. Hate to perpetuate a culture of death.

 The Hezbollah and Hamas flags. The veils, masks and Korans held high. The burning of Israel’s flag. The accusations of “Holocaust” and “genocide” hurled at Israel at the very moment when the masters of Hamas, the mullahs of Iran, are both denying the Jewish Holocaust and planning a second. The chanting of “Khaybar Khaybar, Ya Yahoud, Jaysh Mohammad sawfa yaud” harkening back to a 7th century massacre of Jews at Medina and calling for the return of the armies of Mohammad. These were the sights and sounds that flooded Montreal streets in the pro-Hamas demonstration this past weekend.

  A police officer told me that here in Montreal everybody demonstrates for everything. But there is a limit. I am not suggesting legislative restriction. Freedom must remain indivisible. But I am suggesting that it is time for Montrealers to think deeply and clearly as to what we are witnessing. These are not ordinary demonstrators manifesting differing points of view. These are purveyors of hate who, for the most part, originate from totalitarian cultures. They do not even make a pretense of reason.  

rjg-Anti-Israeli-Rally-027.jpgThey want all the freedoms of a liberal society — expression, religion, association and assistance — but they reject any fidelity to the principles of liberty, veracity or loyalty to sister democracies. They separate themselves out by demanding — with stunning and revolting regularity — submission to the most retrograde and revanchiste theocratic tyrannies. And more, they seek to shove their reprehensible revisionist historical “truths” down everybody’s throats. They take us for fools. They may well be surprised that someday soon the “fools” will be on the march. If they seek a separatism to celebrate deceit, duplicity and a culture of death, they may well see themselves ostracized by a citizenry that has had enough of reasonably accommodating what Jean-Paul Sartre once called “cultures of exclusiveness and intolerance.” This time there were no leaders of Quebec civil society as there were in 2006 at the Hezbollah rally. None except leaders of Quebec Solidaire  who are very good at throwing shoes at the American consulate but have yet to condemn the messages of hate and chants for the murder of the Jews.

 Maybe we are finally ready to act on the challenge Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave us some three decades ago. “Everybody has a right to their own opinion,” Moynihan declared about the United Nations, “but nobody has a right to their own facts.”



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Beryl P. Wajsman

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